Saturday, September 21, 2019

Attention: Free Fiction!

     On Saturday, September 21, my compendium volume The Futanari Saga will be free of charge at Amazon:

They are the futanari.
Women, except for one thing.
Despite their two X chromosomes, their genitals are male.
Though excluded by both sexes, they have the needs and yearnings of women.
Surgical alteration would kill them.
Imperiled wherever they’re found.
They cannot reproduce.
They are very few.
This is what their lives are like.

     Don’t miss this opportunity to download a free copy of the series that’s got the world of science fiction in a tumult. (And review it, please!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In The Annals Of Counterpunching...

     ...yesterday’s “testimony” by Corey Lewandowski before the House of Representatives ought to receive a special prize. Lewandowski did exactly what was required to let the air out of the Democrats’ impeachment gasbag: he behaved like a Democrat being questioned by Republicans! He averted, evaded, provided facetious answers, answered questions that hadn’t been asked, and in the case of the Dishonorable Sheila Jackson Lee, he made explicit note that her five-minute rant at him contained no question to answer. In short, he made the smear peddlers of the Left, desperate to find something with which to defame President Trump, look like what they really are: yapping Pekinese and Chihuahuas dogs, trying vainly to bite the ankles of a far better man.

     (DELIBERATELY OFFENSIVE OBSERVATION AHEAD: Read the following paragraph at your own risk!

     Concerning Sheila Jackson Lee: What is it with these self-important black women and their three-names fetish?[1] Do they harbor some cargo-cultish notion that it can make them members of the political elite? That if they pattern their names after those of Old South plantation mistresses and Beacon Hill blue-bloods, it might elevate them to comparable altitudes? Not bloody likely, La’ShaNee*Qua!

     Thank you for your forbearance. Our normal, normally offensive commentary will now resume.[2])

     It’s not the first time a “witness” from the Right has humiliated a gaggle of Leftist thugs with seats in Congress, but it’s one of the most memorable. Moreover, it illustrates one of the Trump virtues that previous presidents and their aides have failed to exhibit: the willingness to fight back, using the enemy’s own weapons when and as appropriate.

     There are other memorable moments to be savored from this first Trump term, of course. Have a few of my favorites:

     And we have this: When a court forced Jim Acosta back into the White House after his press pass was pulled at President Trump’s order, the president didn’t merely shrug and say, “foiled again;” he took another approach: he canceled presidential briefings to the press:

     It's been six months since the heckling stopped. Six months since the last White House press briefing. Six months devoid of noxious nonsense....

     When any Republican is president, at least one or two reporters become hecklers at the White House press briefings. It’s their ticket to liberal media fame. It started with Dan Rather heckling Richard Nixon. Then Sam Donaldson badgered President Ronald Reagan all the way to national stardom, despite looking like a muppet and acting like a grinch. Who can forget how David Gregory of NBC went after Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer during 43’s first term?...

     CNN’s White House correspondent [Jim Acosta] showboated every day, badgering White House press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders with gotchas designed not to illuminate or inform, but to make himself the star of the perverse show. Sanders always handled him with a grace he never deserved. Acosta may have believed he was helping the audience—the American people or, more likely, his fellow anointed scribes sitting around him—but he was only helping himself. He used the justified revocation of his “hard pass” to rally more media hecklers to his side. And then he got a book deal out of it. All while he and his fellows in the anvil chorus pretend that every time President Trump pushes back against their insults and petulant on-air rants it’s somehow a new and unprecedented threat to democracy.

     Try grabbing for that microphone, Acosta!

     Among the things this president will be remembered for, his lessons to other Republicans on how to fight back are the foremost. Yes, President Trump is achieving greatly. Yes, he’s straining to the limit to fulfill his campaign promises, and God bless him for it. But the great failing among Republicans this century past has been an unwilllingness to fight when attacked. Ann Coulter could have told them so; in fact I think she did. President Trump is giving them examples to study – and study they must.

     It’s been a great almost-three years. Please, God, let us have a second Trump term! The exploding heads in the media would make it worthwhile all by themselves!

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a major dentist’s appointment to prepare for. Back tomorrow...I hope.

And now, in laudatory emulation of my Esteemed Co-Conspirator Col. Bunny, the Notes section:
[1]: Cf. Marian Wright Edelman, Carol Moseley Braun, et alii.
[2]: “If I am offensive, you may take it that I am offended!” – Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes, in Murder By Decree

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Possible New Solution to NATO

While reading Bookwormroom today, I had an idea - no idea whether it's a new idea, or one that has been looked at, and found wanting.

She was talking about healthcare, and why Europe had, for a time in the mid-century, had extraordinarily good experiences with socialized medicine. From the late 1940s start of NATO, European nations had been relieved from the burden of defending their countries. As countries joined, they found that a significant part of their budget was no longer their problem, but shared with the 'rich' USA.

Trump is one that wants the EU to pay more for their own defense - which, to me, seems only fair. See the chart below, which displays the portion of moneys spent, as a % of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

That's a relatively reasonable arrangement, that attempts to have richer countries pay more, and those poorer countries pay a percentage of their GDP. However, even with that relative contribution, SOME countries are paying a MUCH higher percentage than others.

NATO has begun trying to level out that shared sacrifice for the good of all in the alliance. Each country is to pay 2% of their GDP.

How's that working?

I found it interesting that Poland is right on target, putting 2% exactly on the line - as she should. Poland is Target ONE in any continental war, and knows that defense is a priority.

The current NATO framework is a Commons - the defense infrastruture being a jointly held asset. Such a structural setup is one that is easily exploited by the unscrupulous, as Garrett Hardin pointed out in his book, The Tragedy of the Commons (VERY hard to find book - a condensed explanation of it is here).

I propose a different method of funding NATO. We should identify those projects/bases near countries that are meeting their funding goals, and prioritize them. For continuing and future defense expenditures, the US should match the spending of a country (perhaps with a multiplier function) of countries that want their defense shored up and improved.

In other words, those countries that have skin in the game are given the most resources.

Here are the countries that would lead the list for priority spending:
Greece, 2.38%. 
Britain, 2.21%. 
Estonia, 2.16%. 
Poland, 2%.
The presence of Greece on the list surprised me. I know of their major debt problems, and I assumed - wrongly - that they had let their guard down, putting defense low on their list of priorities. It would seem that the spirit of Thermopylae still breathes.

Molon Labe!

Conclusion Time

     In every political controversy, one must ask oneself whether a conclusion is possible – conclusion being used in the sense of a firm conviction that one has reached the truth of the matter. Some controversies are not susceptible to conclusions; the motives of those involved are too murky. Others will allow for them, though it might be a while before sufficient evidence can be amassed. And in some, one can make use of “previous work.”

     Concerning the Left’s efforts to defame Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Brett Kavanaugh as a sexual harasser, considerable evidence has emerged in a very short span. Moreover, “previous work,” specifically the Left’s prior attempt to smear Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as a sexual harasser, points in the same direction as that evidence. On these grounds and others, I maintain that conclusion time is upon us.

     The current Justices of the Supreme Court, with their avowed religious affiliations or backgrounds:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Clarence Thomas: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Samuel Alito: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Jewish.
  • Associate Justice Stephen Breyer: Jewish.
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan: Jewish.

     Thus, the Court has six Catholics on it. I can’t recall a previous time when that was the case. Think hard, now: What specific doctrine of the Catholic Church comes at once to mind in reference to hotly debated public-policy issues and the Supreme Court?

     Kyle Smith has one in mind:

     The New York Times on Saturday joined The New Yorker and many other media outlets in upending a dumpster full of garbage on its own reputation in an effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh. After more than a year of digging, the Democrats and their media allies still have no supported allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh at any point in his entire life.

     Why would the media do this? Call it the asterisk strategy. This is a coordinated, full-on effort to undermine the legitimacy of Brett Kavanaugh’s work on the Supreme Court. The reputations of news outlets are so many eggs that must be broken in pursuit of this omelet....

     The hope of the Democratic party and most of the media is to delegitimize Brett Kavanaugh and hence any Supreme Court decision in which he joins a 5–4 majority. The ground is being laid to make the case that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in such a manner, that decision would exist under a cloud. It’s a desperation move: The Democrats and their media allies, the Times and the New Yorker very much included, are envisioning some extralegal or extra-constitutional maneuvers to stop Roe from being overturned.

     BRAVO! Clarity at last! A firm conclusion reached on the basis of the evidence before us! That, Gentle Reader, is today’s political benison. Savor it, as we might not get another this week.

     At this time, owing to the election of 2016, the federal government’s executive and judicial branches are in Republican hands, albeit not by fat margins. Moreover, President Trump has openly criticized Roe v. Wade, though he’s avoided uttering a blanket condemnation of the practice of abortion. With the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, for the first time since 1973 there’s an appreciable chance, should a suitable case come before the Court, that the ruling in Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

     (No, there wasn’t much chance before Kavanaugh. Remember how squishy John Roberts has proved to be. The mutterings that the Left “must have something on him” might just have some substance. At any rate, he’d be an unreliable vote on this issue.)

     Yes, there are other aspects to Kavanaugh’s seating on the Court. Jodi Giddings of Victory Girls mentions a few. I trust Miss Giddings will allow me a great deal of snipping to stay within “fair use:”

1. They know they can’t beat Trump.
2. They know their extremist views on abortion are abhorrent to most Americans.
3. They are fearful that Ruth Bader-Ginsburg could be replaced by Trump.
4. They think impeaching Kavanaugh will bolster their goal of impeaching Trump.
5. Removing the focus from themselves (gun grabbing, tax increases, open borders, hatred of America, etc etc etc).
6. Cementing the women’s vote.

     All of these are plausible, but to my mind the lead item is the Left’s secular sacrament: abortion. The Left has gone all-out to protect that practice from having the mildest legal conditions placed on it. Indeed, the Left has agitated for government-funded abortion. Their argument seems to be that if it’s a “right,” then surely the Omnibenevolent State should pay for it. The possibility that a reversal of Roe v. Wade could return the question to the states, where popular sentiment has turned ever more definitely against unrestricted abortion on demand, is abhorrent to them.

     I’ve done this before, but, as the calumnies about my Catholicism and its relation to my politics have never abated, I’m going to do it again:

     "What did you think of the movie?" Celeste pulled Louis's arm against her and walked closely alongside him.
     He shrugged. "I'm not big on tearjerkers. It was pretty decent entertainment, but I have a feeling they distorted the facts of his life a bit."
     "Whose? C. S. Lewis's?"
     He nodded. "I have a hard time matching the character in the movie with the things he wrote."
     "You've read his books?"
     "All of them."
     He unlocked the passenger door of his pickup truck and helped her into it. Even with his assistance, her stiletto heels made it a challenge.
     When they were in motion, she asked, "Do you have any favorite hobbies?"
     "Hm? No, I read a lot, that's about it."
     "So, how do you pass the time when you're not at work? Just reading?"
     He guided the truck through the gate of her townhouse complex, wheeled into a convenient parking place, and killed the engine. "Well, I do a few other things, but nothing you'd call exciting."
     I've got to know before this gets any more serious.
     Trying to sound casual and failing completely, she said, "Any causes?"
     He turned and looked at her without speaking, then let himself out of the truck and went around to her side to help her out. She took his arm again as they began the walk to her door.
     "If you were to take Route 231 through the city, turn south onto Fullerton Boulevard, and stay on it for about half a mile, you'd come to a light industrial area. On the southern edge there's a medical park, just a few one-story buildings that share a parking lot. Most Saturdays when the weather is good, you'd find me standing at the entrance with a sign that says 'Pregnant? Please talk to me first.' "
     Katie was right.
     "Operation Rescue, Louis?"
     He shook his head as they mounted the short flight of concrete steps that stood before her door. "No, I don't much care for that bunch. When they're there, I'm not. This is just me, and sometimes another fellow who feels the way I do."
     Instead of unlocking her door at once, she turned to face him. He stood with his hands clasped before him. She could read nothing from his face in the dim moonlight.
     "And how is that?"
     He looked down briefly. "That abortion is a horrible thing. That it should be a last resort, to save a mother's life, not a first to spare her some inconvenience. That most women who have abortions wouldn't, if they knew how they'd feel afterward." He said it calmly, no strain apparent.
     "Are you a Catholic by any chance, Louis?"
     He stood a little straighter. "Not by chance, Celeste. By mature choice, and by the grace of God."
     Something in the words flicked her on the raw. Scorn poured into her voice. "I see. And of course that 'grace' gives you the right to interfere in the mature choices of women you've never met?"
     His eyes flared wide. "I interfere in no one's choices, Miss Holmgren. I force myself on no one. I present information and alternatives. Sometimes it seems as if the rest of society is practically shoving women into abortion clinics, rushing them in with no chance to check other options or think about what they're doing. I don't block the doors. I stand beside them with an offer of assistance. If that be interference, make the most of it."
     He started away, then faced her again. "By the way, you might have the wrong idea about something else as well. I'm not opposed to abortion because I'm a Catholic. Being opposed to abortion is part of what qualifies me to be a Catholic. Give that a spin on your mental merry-go-round and see where it gets off. Thanks for your company this evening. I'll see you at the office next week."
     He strode off into the darkness before she could reclaim her voice.

[From Chosen One]

     Louis Redmond’s convictions are mine as well.

     Abortion as a public-policy matter has been debated in the most strident tones imaginable, ever since the decision in Roe v. Wade was announced. As a cultural matter, it’s suffered quite a number of setbacks, most prominently the Kermit Gosnell atrocities, the revelation that major abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been selling fetal body parts to order, and the tide of former pro-abortion voices who’ve turned against the procedure out of simple humanity. The recent movie Unplanned dramatizes that last aspect of the thing.

     While the nation is dramatically divided about whether abortion should be legal and under what circumstances, the Democrat Party is not. Its coalition is already shaky. To keep it together, it must “hold the line” on a handful of issues. Abortion, which the Left regards as key to retaining “the women’s vote,” is probably at the top of that list. Thus, it will do whatever it can think of to obstruct any progress, whether legal or judicial, toward limiting abortions.

     The delegitimization of the Supreme Court, now populated by a Catholic majority, is a component in that effort. The attack on Brett Kavanaugh and the revived attacks on Clarence Thomas – remember the “high-tech lynching?” I do – are central elements in that effort.

     Let’s sum up. A political party that respects nothing but power and is determined to have all of it in perpetuity has committed the foulest imaginable libels against good and decent men who stand in its path. It’s degraded the nation, beclowned its media, and disregarded the sanctity of human life to gain its end. Would you say there’s any real surprise to be had here, Gentle Reader? Any uncertainty about the conclusions I've reached?

     Nope. Me neither.

Monday, September 16, 2019

What You Need: A Monday Rumination

     I’m still getting “why did you write this?” emails about the futanari stories and novels. The tone of those missives tends to be baffled. (Yeah, with an occasional sprinkling of outrage from a reader who thinks I’ve just slaughtered, filleted, and barbecued his sacred cow. I’m used to it. A writer who takes chances has to get used to it pretty quickly.) Rather than shuffling them off with a stock answer (e.g., “It struck me funny”), I’ve asked myself whether the inquiries might be aimed somewhere I hadn’t yet pondered. Perhaps the subject will make a refreshing change from the public-affairs news.

     To lead off, allow me to emphasize this: the futanari stories are stories. Generically, they’re near-future science fiction. Yes, they have some Catholic elements, as is the case with pretty much all my fiction. My point is the usual one: my stories are intended to entertain first and foremost, and after that to examine ideas that I find worthy of consideration.

     Let’s leave the entertainment part for my readers’ judgment. The first of the ideas I had in mind concerns the contemporary phenomenon of transgenderism. There have been persons who’ve elected to present as other than the sex of their birth for decades now. In the main, those persons have caused no harm. They’ve embraced their problems as their problems, have done what they deemed appropriate to address them, and have continued on with their lives – both those who have been happy with their transitions and those who have not. The smart ones have lived quietly in the mode they preferred, rather than trumpeting what they did.

     The recent politicization of transgenderism, and the associated fad about it that’s had such deleterious effects on young persons, are the heart of our social problems with it. That’s what happens when a properly private matter is made into political pabulum. Politics is inherently riven with strife – more so today than in previous eras, to be sure – so to politicize a subject is to make it a field for controversy and exchanges of unfriendly fire. Those who seek to degrade and destroy the Republic are quite aware of that, which is why they politicize every topic imaginable: Strife is their source of political profit.

     I dislike strife; it’s a drain on my ammunition stockpile. I do what I can to reduce it. Part of my effort is fictional: in this case, stories that ask this question among others:

Imagine humans genetically excluded from both sexes:
The futanari.
Imagine that they can do nothing about it.
What would their lives be like?

     I laid that at the base of my fictional roasting pan, layered in a criminal enterprise that clones such persons for sexual purposes, added a few heroes from my Onteora Canon, folded in two conventional transwomen for crunch, sprinkled it with Christian ethics, baked it at 350° for three novelettes and three full-length novels, and served it hot. Either it got my readers thinking or it didn’t. (For damn sure it took a toll on me.)

     When I address a politicized subject in fiction, it’s to explore my own opinions about it. In that sense, the futanari tales have a political point. It’s exactly and only this: Transgenderism is not something to be made a fad. The lives of my futanari were intended to dramatize that point. Whether I succeeded at that, I have no idea.

     But a novelist never knows what sort of reactions he’ll elicit with his tales. As I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, every cause has more than one effect. One of the unintended consequences of the futanari series was a group of, shall we say, probes of my own sexual inclinations. For example, the email I received after releasing “A Place Of Our Own,” “One Small Detail,” and “A Daughter Of The County” included:

  1. A proposal of marriage;
  2. Three less formal propositions;
  3. A bunch of URLs to some unusual Websites.

     I declined the marriage proposal on the grounds of a “previous commitment.” (I did so somewhat wistfully, to be sure. It was the first I’d ever received, and the sender is very attractive...assuming the picture she sent was of her, that is.) I deleted the other propositions and filed the URLs away for possible future use. (Fictional use; get your mind out of the gutter.) But it was educational. It served to remind me of the variety of human reactions and human opinions. No writer can brace himself so well that he can’t be surprised by them.

     In a way, those off-axis reactions are the most positive ones I received. None of them were nasty or contemptuous in tone. They suggested that the senders had been affected by the stories and moved to react in their own ways. That I hadn’t expected reactions of that sort didn’t pollute the satisfaction that comes from learning that something I’d written had touched another heart. As the revenues from my fiction are paltry, that sort of feedback provides the fuel I need to continue onward.

     Now for the larger point of this screed: By the implication of his embrace of his faith, a Christian is a servant of God. C. S. Lewis made the point tellingly in The Screwtape Letters:

     [A Christian is], in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy; and if the Enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said "Now you may go and amuse yourself."

     And as I wrote in the Foreword to Priestesses, it is my firm conviction that God gives us what we need...whether or not we agree with Him on what that might be. As His servant, I am committed to being part of the mechanism that makes those provisions. When I write, fiction or nonfiction, I have that in mind. (Whether I serve God’s will with my scribblings is for Him to judge. No one else is competent.)

     But whom do I manage to serve in that function? It’s not always obvious. The op-eds are aimed at clarifying particular political, social, and cultural subjects. I’d hope that they serve the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch, where they appear. I get enough feedback about them to be reasonably confident that they serve someone, at least from time to time.

     My fiction is another subject altogether. Do my stories serve my readers as God would have it? Am I providing them with some fraction of what they need? Unless one writes to express himself about one of my tales, I cannot know.

     But just this morning another possibility occurred to me. When I elect to address some subject, is it possible God is providing me what I need? Would He do so through my own mind and fingers?

     The answer “should” be “obvious:” Why not? How could any mortal be certain of what mechanisms He would choose to employ? No mortal can forbid Him to use evolution, or economics, or any other phenomenon to advance His ends. Indeed, if He has a Plan – and He does! – it includes everything under the Sun, regardless of whether the connections are clear to us.

     (Go ahead and call me dense for not thinking of it before. Even a Certified Galactic Intellect can have a blind spot or two.)

     And so I have a new speculation to address: whether the communication pathway by which God speaks to us individually – i.e., the conscience — does more than “merely” chide us about our failings while reminding us to be charitable and humble. What important thing(s) have I learned in the process of conceiving and writing my stories? Might He have chosen that means to teach me things I badly needed to know?

     May God bless and keep you all!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Kamikaze Politics

The Bookworm is on a roll - explaining how the Constitution is already in shreds.

The very Foundational Document of our Republic - the Constitution - has already been fed through the shredder, and is on Life Support. Only a long-term and dedicated effort can resuscitate America.

The problem stems from the clueless and illogical mindset of the - God Help Us! - voting public. They seem to think that Wishes are Reality, and that anything that stands in the way of a Alleged Sense of Unfairness must be addressed with legislation (if they are in the majority in Congress), and The Dreaded Mark of The Official White House Pen (if they hold the office of President).

Now, many of the Progressive Followers are Fine People (as a much-maligned politician would say). The only truly Evil People are the Leftists at the top. Sort of like only the Top Nazis were actually Bad; most of their followers were as clueless about the not-so hidden agenda of the Nazi Party, as their ideological descendants are about the Agenda of the Woke.

This foot-dragging opposition to the Will of the People isn't unique to America - Britain is also experiencing an all-out effort to Thwart Democracy, and Kill Brexit. All that, not at all coincidentally, by the very same Elite that oppose the American Public from actually getting their hands on their country - 'Journalists', Leftist and Leftist-appeasing politicians, the bureaucracy - both governmental and NGO, the largest corporations, banking, the educational establishment, from pre-K through university, 'Woke', and VERY privileged women, and, basically, anyone wanting to curry favor with the Vindictive Left (as well as the sizable subset of those not wanting to suffer Arkanicide).

And, against them, are Us.

Most of us are not photogenic, polished, and backed up by a Publicity Monster. We don't have intimidating academic credentials, nor powerful connections. We will not receive a fair break, nor anything more than Elitist Disdain for the commoners that DARE to question the powerful.

So, fighting back against the well-entrenched minority that believes themselves uniquely qualified to tell the rest of us how to live, and what we will be PERMITTED to do, can seem hopeless. But it is not.

Frankly, the massively excessive pushback we've gotten appears to be evidence that they are going all-in in a last-ditch effort to keep their power.

In short, Kamikaze Politics.

Not that the Elite will put THEIR bodies on the line - that's for the Lesser Ones. But, yeah, they're prepared to sacrifice ALL the troops on this last, desperate, fight to the death.

A Selection Of Salubrious Segments For Your Sunday

     Titles for these assorted pieces are getting harder to compose. Bear with me.

1. So You Think There’s No Danger?

     A young German girl would beg to differ:

     Believe it or not, when that young girl posted on Facebook about an even worse encounter, she was castigated for it:

     Two years ago, at the age of 15, I was almost raped. I have already been spit on, kicked, pushed against the elevator, in my own building. I live in a tower block. My dogs have been spit on and kicked when I wasn’t looking.

     Two weeks ago I was sitting in the tram, and a foreigner was standing next to me, pressing his thing against me constantly. The first time I thought to myself, OK, he did it accidentally maybe, but he did it three more times. Then, of course, I told him my opinion.

     Here’s the saddest thing: I published a video about it and what kind of reaction did I get? “You’ve started a smear campaign”, “It’s disgusting how you just lump them all together”, “JUST because you’ve had a bad encounter ONCE doesn’t mean every foreigner is like that.”

     Despite having clearly stated my point of view in my post, most of the people who commented just twisted my words any which way they wanted.

     That’s what its defenders keep saying is no danger to us.

2. Orange Is The New...Rose?

     Mostly I disregard the colors of the things I eat and drink. Mostly. But I’ve never encountered an orange wine. Apparently the wine snobs don’t approve of such things:

     Over the weekend, the New Yorker published a weird story that attempts to, once and for all, stop Big Orange Wine. In it, the author talks about visiting the land where this strange beverage has become de rigueur: an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, where (gasp!) the children’s menu has cheese older than some of its audience and all the wines are natural. And what was learned on this journey? That, uh, orange wine is not really about tasting good so much as it is about challenging your taste buds....He finds “undertones of acid reflux” in one, saying drinking it was “a test of stamina.” He identifies what might’ve been “a hint of Goodyear rubber” in a Sicilian wine.

     I haven’t had any orange wines, so I mustn’t comment on them. But I will note that wine snobs tend to dismiss anything that actually pleases one’s taste buds, as the cited article goes on to note:

     In talking about an orange wine he actually likes, the 2017 Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio, he notes that some orange wine geeks actually don’t like it because of “its extreme pleasantness”...

     Excuse me while I top off my glass of White Zinfandel.

3. Democrats Versus The Constitution.

     We’ve known for quite some time that the Left has no regard for the Constitution and generally treats it as a “paper barrier” to Leftist schemes: not to be respected but to be torn through at will. With the issue of firearms in private hands front and center, John Hinderaker notes that this is now utterly unconcealed:

     Democrats regard the Constitution as an illegitimate product of white supremacy, written by a bunch of dead white males who were racists. Why should it command any respect? In their eyes, it doesn’t. Once they achieve power, it will be a dead letter.

     Democrats have adopted the Erdogan philosophy: democracy is a streetcar. When you get to your stop, you get off. Let them win one more election, and the Constitution will protect no one.

     Time was, the standard-bearers of the Evil Party would at least pretend to respect the Supreme Law. Today they no longer bother themselves about it. Questioning one of them on the subject is likely to evoke vituperation of a sort politicians once disallowed themselves. There’s information in there.

4. Ignorant, or Unconcerned?

     You decide:

     AOC really and I mean REALLY doesn’t like the New Faces GOP ad that shows the brutality of socialism. Why? Because it points out her own ignorance of how evil it is. Furthermore, her reaction to the ad says a great deal about today’s politically correct society and the socialism she and too many others embrace.

     Here’s the ad:

     Needless to say, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t like the ad. Indeed, she considers its existence an affront – because she’s “a woman of color!” My, my.

     Authoress Nina Bookout continues:

     So, let me get this straight. An ad showing a historical montage of Cambodians brutalized, dead, and dying because of socialism’s evil is supposedly a love letter to the closeted white supremacist conservatives? My mind can’t stretch her ‘logic’ that far. Makes my brain hurt.

     The Left knows its mask has slipped, and it’s desperate to put it back on. But an open, avowed socialist wearing a (D) after its name – e.g., an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez – makes that very difficult. Doesn’t the solution seem clear to you, Gentle Reader?

     I’d say Miss Ocasio-Cortez should start taking special care traversing parking lots and dim hallways. Mr. “Beto” O’Rourke might be advised to do likewise. And in neither case will the threat be coming from the Right. They’re assets to us!

5. A Bit Of Fun.

     Having had occasion to open a fresh bottle of Smuckers® raspberry jam this morning, I was put in mind of this old favorite:

     Does anyone else remember when Saturday Night Live was actually funny? Well, way back in the Early Obscene, it genuinely was. The above is the proof.

     Have a nice day.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Rights to die for--or not

Our Curmudgeonly Host uses a post of mine from CF yesterday as a springboard for his own always-worthy thoughts, and then gently chides me for having been a bit scarce around these parts of late. To my shame, he's right about that, so allow me to make some sort of amends by cross-posting this here, and adding a little to it to boot. First, this, from TL Davis' most worthy newsletter:
We are rapidly progressing toward the moment when each person will have to look deep into their heart and ask themselves whether they believe that there are principles worth giving their lives for, or not. Time will not stop and let us catch up or peek into the future to see if what we sacrifice will be worth it, or not. If we will stop anything or not.

I suggest that there are certain, key principles embedded in the Bill of Rights which are worth the ultimate sacrifice, not for us, but for our posterity. There are some hard lines that need to be drawn and I say this knowing that those lines are already being tested and that the time to act is bearing down on us. It could be tomorrow.

We are going to witness their attempts to do two things: take our guns and take our property. It is at this point that we either prove once and for all that those things are worth defending, or we will become willing victims of communism, globalism and enslavement. If that is a condition of existence that is better than death, it will be the condition upon which we live out our meager lives.

If we do accept it, we will destroy the world. Lost in the narrative that America is the source of all evil and injustice, is the fact that its economic power is derived directly from these concepts of individual rights defended by individuals with weapons equal to those of standing armies. Once removed, so is the economic engine that the whole world depends on. China would be nowhere near the economic power that it has become without being able to hijack the innovation and creativity of individuals seeking to gain individual wealth. Without the idea of making a better life, when that possibility has been made impossible, so is the energy to innovate and create. All of those entrepreneurs become mere workers, broken by the system, struggling to survive, denied the freedom to think, without the inspiration to innovate.

It truly is a choice between fighting to defend these fundamental rights as a part of America, but more importantly, as an ingredient of prosperity or the acceptance of a dark and dismal world of drudgery and enslavement, slowly grinding through the diminishing reserves of a capitalist past. If we choose that dark future, we will endure five or maybe ten years, before the whole world is Venezuela.

For them, that's a feature and not a bug.

You can subscribe to TL's newsletters thusly, and you should:

The newsletter is available by sending an email to and placing in the subject line newsletter or subscribe. The books and film are available at or

Now, a quote from Francis' earlier post:

If Mike is correct, then a Democrat victory come Election Day 2020 would guarantee the decline of the U.S. into just another elite-managed oligarchy. The Roberts Supreme Court could not be relied upon to impede it. (Besides, it lacks an enforcement arm with which to impose its judgment on the rest of the federal government.) The Indian summer of our Republic would have begun. Its descent into winter would be swift, for once disarmed, our populace would have no means of resisting the tyranny to come.

There's nothing in the world I'd more fervently wish to be wrong about than my grim speculation last night--not because I long for blood in the streets and a nightmarish Civil War v2.0, but because Francis is perfectly correct. In fact, I'm afraid we're already well into the Indian Summer he mentions, with a long, dark winter closing in on us all too quickly. Francis proposes a possible remedy:

Tell the legislators who represent your district and state that should they vote to infringe your Second Amendment rights, you will hold them personally responsible.

Is it guaranteed to prevent the grim scenarios presented above? No. There are no guarantees in politics. Legislators have often chosen to believe what they preferred over the evidence before them. But it has a chance of turning them aside from their disarmament schemes...perhaps the only chance.

Remind them that the armed men who surround them can’t keep them from being targeted. They can only provide a measure of deterrence. In the event of an assassination attempt, they can counter-target the assassin. But they can’t keep their man alive if enough Americans are determined enough to kill him. If we can get enough Congressvermin – of both parties; none of them are trustworthy on this subject – to imagine themselves with crosshairs over their hearts, we have a chance of averting a tyrannical future.

A chance, yes, however slim. But any chance to avoid the catastrophe that looks more and more inevitable with every passing day should certainly be pursued. Remember the old saying: when the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. Our would-be rulers have forgotten the hard nut of truth embedded therein--worse, they seem to assume that WE have forgotten it. They will have to be corrected, one way or another.

Why Classrooms Have So Few Resources

Every year when I taught, I had a list of items to buy for my classroom. In South Carolina, the state I retired from, teachers got a check ($275) for these supplies. In the last 2 years, we needed to account for the purchases, by itemizing them on a one-page list, and submitting it for reimbursement.

I never had a problem with that. Almost all the teachers I knew easily matched, or exceeded the amount of the check on their classrooms. And, by buying the items yourself, you could get exactly the type of pen, clipboard, or marker you wanted. As a lefty, the extra money spent on pens that didn't smear was well worth it.

But, why is it only teachers have to buy their own supplies/work tools? Why doesn't the school secretary, or nurse, or Diversity Coordinator, have to bring in their own pens, paper, or printer ink?

The answer is: because teachers are soft-hearted suckers.

This essay provides the major reason schools are so broke - many, if not MOST, of the staff is NOT in the classroom. They are support staff, not line staff (if you don't understand that, talk to someone who worked in a manufacturing facility). They do NOT contribute to the bottom line. Their job is NOT directly connected to teaching.

Now, most women (and some men) will have a hard time to understand this point. They will argue that they work VERY hard, and that their job is critical to the business/organization they work for.

Don't flatter yourself. The bottom line is:
Do you DIRECTLY bring in money to the organization?
If the answer is no, then you are staff - and that job is not, technically, necessary to the functioning of the organization.

Now, realistically, in most businesses, staff frees up the line workers to make more widgets. Without them, those who do make money for the organization would lose time from their main job.

But, don't kid yourself - those jobs are the ones that SHOULD be eliminated (or suffer a reduction in hours) in a financial crisis. And, they NEVER are the ones on the block in a school funding 'crisis'.


  • Teachers currently working in a classroom/resource room
  • Attendance staff (yes, because their work brings in money from the state - the higher the attendance, the more money)
  • Bus drivers/bus program - I'm gonna be generous, and put them here, since, without them providing the delivery of the widgets (kids) to school, the production department (teachers) wouldn't have the raw materials to work with

  • Clerical staff - if I'm generous, I might allow that perhaps 1/4 of their time is related to things that bring in money
  • Janitorial/custodial/maintenance - brings in no cash
  • Cafeteria - yes, they do get money from students or the government to run the breakfast/lunch program, but most of these run in the red
  • Library - that's an auxiliary service - useful, and worth keeping, but not bringing in cash
  • Counseling - most schools would improve without them
  • Administration, which includes the district's central offices
You could argue with some of the classifications, but it's pretty clear that schools are top-heavy with peripheral workers - MOST of them women. They work in clean and orderly surroundings, seldom encounter unruly students or parents, get paid well - often better than the teachers, and leave at the end of the day without a care (principals/assistant principals are the exception here - their jobs usually extend LONG after school hours, and include many other appearances at sports events, banquets, plays, etc.)

From my days teaching, I know that, whether the heat/cooling system is working in the classrooms, it ALWAYS does in the working areas of the staff. We could be wilting at 95+ degrees in the class, but, if you walked into the main office, it would be an icy 70 degrees.

One rule for the Elite, another for the Proles.

Indian Summer Of The Republic

Indian summer...
The shops are shuttered and the crowds are gone,
The souvenir sellers are moving on.
Like summer lovers.

Indian summer...
The earth is cracked beneath the midday sun,
You've dragged your shadow round these streets too long.
There is no cover.

Come stay—
We'll live gazebo lives,
And let the world outside pass us by.
Right here...
In our Arabian Nights,
Until the Northern Lights cross the sky.
There is no other.

Indian summer...
The storm that drove you here is far behind
What keeps you waiting on this beach tonight
It's long been over.

Come stay—
We'll live gazebo lives,
And let the world outside pass us by.
Right here...
In our Arabian Nights,
Until the Northern Lights cross the sky.
There is no other.

Come stay—
Right here...

[Alasdair Ian Stewart]

     Play the video. Listen to the song. Immerse yourself in its gentle melancholy. Let the mood of surrender to the passing of summer take hold of you. What emotions does it evoke? What does it make you want to plead for?

     Yeah. Me too.

     If you’re familiar with software debugging practices, the term breakpoint won’t require explanation. For everyone else: It’s an artificial halt the engineer inserts into a program at a selected point. It allows him to inspect the internal conditions of the program at that point: what’s in its variables and data structures, and therefore what it’s about to do next.

     If I were “debugging” the United States of America, I’d insert a breakpoint right about here and now. I’d take a very close look at the conditions that pertain and the attitudes of Americans toward those conditions. And I’d give especial attention to the statements and revealed intentions of those whose highest aspiration is the presidency.

     This article provides a backdrop about Americans’ attitudes and overall knowledge of their country. A few citations:

     According to an American Bar Association survey, only 38 percent of all Americans know that the U.S. Constitution is the highest law in the land.

     According to a new survey that was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 76 percent of Americans support “red flag” gun laws.

     A recent Rasmussen survey discovered that 28 percent of all Democrats actually believe that it should be “illegal” to be a member of the NRA.

     Now give your attention – yes, I know it’s painful – to the collection of miscreants vying for the presidential nomination of the Democrat Party. Every one of them regards the Constitution as a mere “paper barrier” to his agenda, something he could rip through with an “executive order.” All of them have said so. You see, they want to take our guns, and they don’t regard the Constitution as an important impediment.

     Until recently, they hedged. They qualified their statements to obscure their intentions. But no longer. They’re out in the open now. They don’t regard your right to keep and bear arms as a limitation on them.

     A few folks have reacted with the appropriate outrage. A few have openly declared their readiness to resist such an intrusion on our God-given rights to defend ourselves. And the Left is not happy about that:

     Last month, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke proposed a modest solution to the relentless tide of mass shootings: a mandatory buyback program for every AR-15 in the country. The View co-host Meghan McCain responded with a dire warning. “The AR-15 is by far the most popular gun in America, by far,” she told her fellow panelists. “I was just in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, if you’re talking about taking people’s guns from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence.”

     Tucker Carlson echoed McCain’s blood-soaked sentiment on his Tuesday night broadcast. “So, this is—what you are calling for is civil war,” he said. “What you are calling for is an incitement to violence. It’s something I wouldn’t want to live here when that happened, would you? I’m serious.” Erick Erickson, a prominent conservative columnist, also warned of tragedy. “I know people who keep AR-15’s buried because they’re afraid one day the government might come for them,” he wrote on Twitter. “I know others who are stockpiling them. It is not a stretch to say there’d be violence if the [government] tried to confiscate them.”

     “There would be violence” neatly elides what’s actually being claimed: Some gun-rights activists would murder government officials who try to enforce a duly passed law. This isn’t an extreme viewpoint among such gun enthusiasts. If anything, it’s one of their central tenets.

     The cited article becomes even more shrill from there, but those first three paragraphs should suffice. Quoth Glenn Reynolds:

     [A] law that violates the Constitution — which gun confiscation absolutely would — isn’t a “duly passed law.” It’s a usurpation of authority. Funny that all these people who have been yammering about #Resistance and punching Nazis seem okay with the idea of laws that violate the Constitution, laws that are — of course — themselves enforced with guns and violence.

     Of course they’re comfortable with that! They’re the good guys, don’t y’know. The rules don’t apply to them because their hearts are pure! They get to do what they please to us knuckle-draggers. It’s all in pursuit of the “greater good.”

     They can get away with that posture, without being tarred, feathered, and run out of the country on a rail, because “only 38 percent of all Americans know that the U.S. Constitution is the highest law in the land.”

     That’s what November 2020 will be about, Gentle Reader.

     “States, like men, have their growth, their manhood, their decrepitude and their decay.” – Walter S. Landor

     The season of America’s manhood might be drawing to its end. Unlike the summer of the year, there’s no way to know that for certain. The calendar gives no indications thereof. But attitudes, trends, and events might. One harbinger might be the paucity of Americans willing to fight for their rights. Another, stronger one might be the paucity of Americans who know what their rights are, and how they differ from a permission granted by the State.

     A man – not a generic, sex-unspecified homo sapiens this time, but a man — whose rights are threatened does the same thing he’d do if his loved ones were threatened: he gets the lead out. He shoulders his rifle, aims as carefully as circumstances permit, and fires at his attackers. He keeps firing until the issue is settled. If he must go down, he’ll go down fighting.

     There are still some who, should they go down, will go down fighting:


     We really don’t want a problem with you, believe me. And there is no reason for us to have a problem, because we both can read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and neither of us requires a team of black-robed mystics to translate its plain English into Newspeak for improved comprehension. You and I both understand what “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” means, without requiring five out of nine politically appointed Supremes to tell us that it does not mean what it very plainly states in black and white.

     Now, as long as Mr. Security Agent remembers that he swore the same oath that millions of Americans swore, to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, he will certainly not permit himself to take part in gun confiscation raids. But if he does, well, let’s be frank: tens of millions of Americans would then consider him to be the very domestic enemy that they swore to defend the Constitution against.

     That’s from retired SEAL and current novelist Matt Bracken. I have no doubt that he’d be firing (and yelling obscenities) at the confiscators to his very last breath. I hope his belief is correct that tens of millions of us, his countrymen, would be beside him, firing our own weapons at the traducers of the Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. But there’s only one way to find out – and I don’t want to go there.

     Do you?

     The election in November 2020 won’t settle the matter. Here are a few thoughts from William Gensert of American Thinker. First, should Trump win a second term:

     Those on the left will not allow a Trump victory, even should he win the popular vote and the Electoral College. They are used to getting what they want and like spoiled brats, have learned that tantrums work.

     Should Donald Trump prevail in his bid for a second term, the left will go insane, deploying every “insurance policy” weapon at their disposal to negate four more years of the Orange Man. What Obama, Comey, and Brennan et al. did to Trump in his first term will seem mild in comparison to what the left is planning should he win.

     Antifa, the military arm of the Democratic Party, has not spent the last three years practicing and organizing merely to sit on the sidelines. They have used the interregnum to mobilize and learn tactics, while probing to find what government will allow, media will trumpet, and the public will endure.

     But what if Trump should lose to the Democrat nominee?

     The right will never believe the Democrats didn’t cheat their way to victory; in addition to understanding that a Democratic President will undemocratically implement policies by executive order that are inimical to their interests and desires....

     Tone-deaf to this silent majority and emboldened by victory, the new president will borrow Barry’s “pen and phone” and start issuing executive orders throwing open our borders, banning fossil fuels, and of course, implementing “common sense” gun control. Buoyed by media, the new president will start with universal background checks and a gun registry.

     Eventually, the president will overreach, signing an order for gun confiscation, euphemistically called, “mandatory buybacks.” Antifa and their ilk will flood the streets in support of seizing these “weapons of war.” Media will declare, “It’s the will of the people.”

     And for the right, that will be the last straw (plastic or paper).

     And Trump, be it remembered, isn’t all that solid a defender of the right to keep and bear arms. He’s flirted with endorsing “red flag” laws that violate both the Fourth Amendment’s guarantees of personal security and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law. He might sign one that’s brought to his desk. Only time will tell.

     Gensert says, in effect, that a civil war is inevitable. What’s the likelihood that he’s correct? Are there any imaginable actions, other than complete surrender to the Left, that could avert those courses? And if the answer is “no, there are none,” are you prepared for what Gensert predicts above?

     Who can protest and does not is an accomplice in the act. – the Talmud

     Mike Hendrix (who appears to have forgotten that he’s a Co-Contributor here) contributes his perspective:

     I’ve long held that gun confiscation would indeed be the straw that finally breaks the American camel’s back; these days, though, I’m less certain of that than I once was. Already we’ve seen at least one gun owner killed by police in a red-flag-law confiscation attempt, without much more than a murmur from anyone. It will happen again; count on it. So what happens next time? The time after that? The time after that?

     As I’ve said again and again: no sane, normal person wants to have to kill anybody, and will put up with one hell of a lot in order to avoid it. And the overwhelming majority of gun owners are more sane, normal, and above all responsible than most. Their perfectly justifiable reluctance to pull the trigger, especially on a cop, is one of the factors that make me doubt my previous blanket assumption that gun confiscation would amount to putting the match to the American powder keg.

     If Mike is correct, then a Democrat victory come Election Day 2020 would guarantee the decline of the U.S. into just another elite-managed oligarchy. The Roberts Supreme Court could not be relied upon to impede it. (Besides, it lacks an enforcement arm with which to impose its judgment on the rest of the federal government.) The Indian summer of our Republic would have begun. Its descent into winter would be swift, for once disarmed, our populace would have no means of resisting the tyranny to come.

     “This isn’t some Outfit wiseguy who’s about to torture you in the middle of a rape. This is premeditated murder of people with families, and lovers, and kids in nursery school, and worries about the future, just like us. And on top of that, these are people who champion the democratic process. You are going to be killing a man because he voted the wrong way.”
     “No,” Cindy said without hesitation. “I am going to be killing a man because he voted away something that wasn’t his to vote on in the first place. The people making the laws think that anything is okay if they can get 51% of the legislators or the people to go along with it. One hundred percent of the people making the rules in the Vegas outfit thought it was just fine for me to be locked in a room and taken out when it suited them. I’ve had enough of that.”

     [John Ross, Unintended Consequences]

     Today, there is a Last Graf. It’s no more than this:

Tell the legislators who represent your district and state that should they vote to infringe your Second Amendment rights, you will hold them personally responsible.

     Is it guaranteed to prevent the grim scenarios presented above? No. There are no guarantees in politics. Legislators have often chosen to believe what they preferred over the evidence before them. But it has a chance of turning them aside from their disarmament schemes...perhaps the only chance.

     Remind them that the armed men who surround them can’t keep them from being targeted. They can only provide a measure of deterrence. In the event of an assassination attempt, they can counter-target the assassin. But they can’t keep their man alive if enough Americans are determined enough to kill him.

     If we can get enough Congressvermin – of both parties; none of them are trustworthy on this subject – to imagine themselves with crosshairs over their hearts, we have a chance of averting a tyrannical future. Otherwise?

Come stay—
We'll live gazebo lives,
And let the world outside pass us by.
Right here...
In our Arabian Nights,
Until the Northern Lights cross the sky.
There is no other.

     Have a nice day.

End the Fed.

“The Fed” being the Federal Reserve Bank that has gifted us with something like a 97% loss of purchasing power of the dollar since 1913. That’s a "nine" followed by a "seven." That’s just accepted as normal by the class of scumbags running our country.
But you must take down this institution.

The Fed is the number one, the number two, and the number three enemy of prosperity, capitalism, free markets, individual liberty, and the wealth of people in the world today.

Central banks have to be totally discredited and taken down.[1]

Recessions don’t happen because the Fed is tightening credit costs for Main Street. That’s the old days. That’s your grandfather’s economy and your grandfather’s Fed. But we’re now in the era of bubble finance. The Fed basically inflates the financial system until it collapses, and then it spills over into the mainstream economy through corporate C-suite panics.[2]
And a big, official "ho hum" to that, good buddy.

But wait!! There’s more than monetary insanity!! There’s fiscal insanity!!

The short answer is that, objectively, we are already fiscally bankrupt. And by that, I mean the $22 trillion of debt we have today, that’s the rear-view mirror.

That’s what the first 44 presidents in American history have managed to accomplish—including the last two before Trump, who took it from about $4 trillion to $19 trillion.

But Donald Trump is the most reckless, irresponsible president we’ve had since Lyndon Johnson, in terms of fiscal policy.

This guns-and-butter deal for two years that he just signed with the Democrats and the Congress was an abomination. It added $1.7 trillion more to the debt over the next 10 years. It eliminated entirely these spending or sequester caps that we’ve had since 2011.[3]

This too is considered no big deal. Enormous debt is just as normal and unexceptional as moaning about manspreading and white patriarchy [AKA white perfidy] and swooning over the joys of mass immigration, diversity, abortion, and FGM.

The notions of wise stewardship and salus populi are absurd in the rotten America of our time.

[1]  David Stockman quoted in "'We're In A Demographic & Fiscal Dead-End' - Stockman On The Coming Financial Panic & The 2020 Election." By Doug Casey, ZeroHedge, 9/13/19 (emphasis removed).
[2] Id. (Emphasis added.)
[3] Id.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Bahamian Devastation


The pictures are horrifying - the destruction of the island is even worse than Puerto Rico after Maria.

I don't think the island will recover anytime soon.

Part of the problem is the many people who move to "an island paradise". They built hotels, lavish homes, and other infrastructure on an island, smack in the middle of what you might call Hurricane Alley.

Worse, the homes were not built for the eventual happenstance of a hit by massive winds and water. They weren't sites on high ground, but along the scenic shores. They weren't built along the lines of homes along the hurricane-prone East Coast - plenty of drainage on the ground floors, shutters protecting windows, sited for maximum wind deflection, solid materials that would withstand high winds.

Some possible designs here.

I'm a big believer in cooperation with Mother Nature. Only a chucklehead builds a home in the South without either air conditioning, or a plan for cooling air flow.

Likewise, a home in the Northeast better have some serious insulation - and, BTW, open plan homes suck when the temperature is in the single digits for weeks on end. That's the time you realize that smaller rooms with doors to close off space, leaving fewer rooms to heat, are a jim-dandy idea. And 2 story houses provide efficient heat flow - heat the downstairs during the day, the upper floors become tolerable at night. Some ideas for cold climates here.

We used to own this home in Rock Creek, OH.

What a Period Tracker Can Reveal About You...

...more than I'd even anticipated.

More to the point, please stop signing in with Facebook! That easy-to-manage sign-on trigger FB to start collecting data about you - from EVERY app that you use.

If you're not chilled about the casual acceptance of privacy violations that such apps permit, you aren't thinking.

Writers’ Sins

     Every so often, something another writer does trips one of my triggers. At this stage of my life as a reader, most of them are no longer easily tripped. However, a few remain to which I’m sensitive to the point of an eczema outbreak. As I have no desire to write about politics or public policy this morning, I suppose this will do for a substitute.

     To succeed as a professional fiction writer, there are several necessities. Among the ones that aren’t connected to marketing and promotion, two stand out:

  1. The aspirant must have stories to tell;
  2. He must be able to tell them in adequate English.

     Among the tragedies of the indie-publishing revolution are a great many gifted and potentially valuable storytellers whose writing is sub-par – often sufficiently below standards that regardless of the magnetism of the tale, the technical mistakes keep me, at least, from enjoying the story. I consider this tragic because many of those folks have stories to tell that are more original than anything that’s come out of Pub World in half a century.

     Still, you have to have the technical chops to go along with your stories. If you don’t acquire those skills before you set your fingers to the keys, you’re unlikely to get anywhere.

     I’ve ranted many times about the importance of adequate grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I shan’t do so this morning. It’s too nice a day here on Long Island. With the clouds receding, the sun shining, the Yankees atop the American League and pre-season ice hockey only five days away, I’m in a good mood I’d rather not spoil. But as I said above, I’ve experienced a trigger-tripping, concerning certain sins that I’ve encountered all too frequently in the work of indie writers with seriously original tales to tell.

1. Mood errors.

     Here’s an example of a mood error that disturbs the flow of prose, from Elizabeth A. Reeves’ book Baehrly Breathing:

     His blood was staining the ground around him red. If he died, I knew this land would be tainted by it.

     This is a relatively mild case. It arises from the author’s ignorance of how to do mood-matching. English has four moods:

  • Indicative,
  • Imperative,
  • Interrogative,
  • Conditional / Subjunctive.

     (NB: Some grammar authorities separate conditional into a fifth mood. I feel the great similarity of conditional statements to subjunctive statements makes that less than constructive. But your mileage may vary, especially if you’re a grammar authority. -- FWP)

     The indicative mood is the one in which the description of real events, whether past or present, is taking place. The imperative mood is the one in which commands are given. The interrogative mood is the one that pertains to questions. Thus, “He went to the store” is indicative; “Go to the store, John” is imperative; “Did you go to the store?” is interrogative. Most writers have adequate command of those moods.

     The conditional / subjunctive mood is the one that crosses up most writers. They handle it poorly, even when they have a clear sense for what they want to express. Miss Reeves has that sense in the quoted passage, but fails to do the proper matching of the two clauses of the second sentence:

     If he died, I knew this land would be tainted by it.

     The intended sense is conditional / subjunctive: the expression of what would follow if a particular event were to occur. That makes the proper mood conditional / subjunctive: the mood in which the words “would” and “should” are proper. But the sentence strikes a dissonant chord. It should have been:

     Should he die, I knew this land would be tainted by it.

     The use of should in the rewritten sentence indicates the conditional nature of the thing being expressed. The original predicate, died, enters the indicative mood despite the preceding if. It clashes with the clause that follows: “I knew this land would be tainted by it,” which is plainly conditional in mood. Worse yet, it’s past tense but pertains to something that hasn’t yet happened and that might not happen at all!

     Quite a few writers, otherwise of considerable ability, have fallen into this trap.

2. Temporal incoherence.

     Very few writers today would understand what I mean by the above phrase, Yet it refers to a practice that’s jarring enough to ruin just about any story, by ejecting the reader from his “story mentality.”

     The “story mentality” of which I speak arises from reader immersion in the setting and events the writer is depicting. A good storyteller causes you to become one with the tale: to live it alongside the protagonists. It’s the experience I most value as a reader, and the one I strive to produce for my readers in my own works.

     That having been said, anything that disturbs the reader’s immersion is bad. Indeed, it can be fatal. A really tolerant reader can overlook such a fault...but with thousands of new writers entering the independent-writers’ torrent every day, would you, Mr. Aspiring Pro Writer, want to take that chance?

     I have a high regard for John Conroe, author of the “Demon Accords” series, but he frequently makes temporal errors in his writing. Here’s an example from his recent novel Borough of Bones:

     Astrid had told me the night before, when we were following our usual nighttime ritual of video chatting, that her family wasn’t headed into the Zone today.

     The word today clashes against the verb wasn’t.

     The novel is told in the conventional manner of fictional past. That is, the narration speaks of the events it narrates as if they have already occurred. Thus, while characters in the novel will speak of events they’re experiencing with words such as today and now, the narrator – in this case, protagonist Ajaya Gurung – must use past-time words and past-referential words in his narrative passages. Here’s how the sentence above should have been written:

     Astrid had told me the night before, when we were following our usual nighttime ritual of video chatting, that her family wasn’t headed into the Zone the next day.

     This is a past-referential construction. A present-referential construction would only have been appropriate had Ajaya quoted Astrid, as follows:

     “My family isn’t headed into the Zone tomorrow,” she’d said.

     Note that today would have been wrong in either case, as Astrid was speaking of the day after the conversation was taking place.

     Please don’t misunderstand me. Borough of Bones, the second volume of Conroe’s “Zone War” trilogy, is excellent, singularly original and a terrific reading experience...if you can endure his lapses into temporal incoherence, and a few other errors he makes habitually. He’s fortunate to be creative enough, especially in character construction and motifs of setting, that his readers will usually forgive him. All the same, I wish he’d get the time-words right. The same applies to the works of E. William Brown, another writer whose novels I enjoy greatly.

3. “Inging.”

     My dear, my very dear colleagues in this madness of storytelling for fun and profit, my brothers in spirit, I beseech you, most sincerely and most ardently:

Watch Your Participials!

     The participial construction is really seductive. It’s so seductive that many a writer starts a profusion of sentences with it, one after the next. In doing so, he creates a pattern so noticeable, and so disturbing, that even the most tolerant reader is likely to say “Can we have a break from this, pretty please?”

     The pattern is seductive because it seems to allow the writer to write sentences that cover extensive narrative ground. That frees him from the worry that his prose is “too simple.” It’s a reasonable fear. No one who pours his heart and soul into a sensitive, highly nuanced tale of human emotions wants his test reader to ask him “Did you intend this for the pre-teen market?” While there’s a lot of money to be made in that market, we want our efforts in it to be deliberately aimed there.

     One problem with the leading-participial is that it frequently expresses an impossibility. Another is that in its seduction it leads the writer to create a pattern that the reader can’t help but note. Once again, from John Conroe’s Borough of Bones:

     Coming straight back from the studio, I didn’t even stop for takeout.

     Uh, no. That should be:

     I didn’t even stop for takeout on the way back from the studio.

     And a couple of sentences later:

     Taking my food into the living room, I asked my Virtual Assistant to put up the news.

     Once again, not quite. Try this:

     I took my food into the living room and asked my Virtual Assistant to put up the news.

     Leading-participial constructions are common throughout the novel. Most of them either express impossibilities or create a pattern that would better be avoided. By the way, you mustn’t think this particular sin is found solely in the work of indie writers. I once chided Sibella Giorello, a writer of unique and graceful mysteries whom I admire greatly, for it in her novel The Mountains Bow Down. Judith Guest, one of the most celebrated mainstream novelists of our era, has fallen into it as well.

     If you’re writing a lot of participials, your reader will notice – and not in a good way. Watch for them!

     A lot of readers think I’m a martinet, a kind of Grammar Dictator. Not at all. I understand the evolving nature of human communication and I accept it...even when I deplore it. But I do know what disturbs my reading experience. Moreover, such disturbances preceded my entry into the fiction-writing field. I strive with all my powers to avoid doing to my readers the things that have displeased me.

     So, fellow practitioners of the storyteller’s art: Have I exhausted your patience? Or have I, perhaps, told you something you wish you had always known?

     Only you can decide.

Quickies: Trolls

     Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it. -- from a lapel button

     I spend a lot of time thinking about motives. That’s a common thing among writers. If we’re to write plausible stories about believable characters, we need to understand why people do what they do, including people we’d regard as evil, irrational, or insane. The typical writer probably spends more time on it, over the course of his working life, than the typical psychiatrist – and there’s important information in there.

     Lately I’ve been thinking about the motives of people who troll around the Internet looking for people to insult. Just in case you’ve spent the last twenty years in a coma, there are a lot of them. There are a great many of them on Gab, my preferred Twitter-alternative. Given that Gab allows its users to block those they find intolerable, they must know that that’s the response to a blatant insult that most Gab users will choose.

     Think about the implications. The troll doesn’t convince anyone of anything. He doesn’t present an argument for any position. He certainly doesn’t elevate himself over his target. He doesn’t gain anything you or I would deem worth having. So why? What gratification does he receive from his activities?

     I’m particularly puzzled by trolls who insult on the basis of religious belief. I get a fair amount of that, being an unabashed Catholic. One jerk mocked me for “worshipping a Jew on a stick.” At least he was creative; most of the trolls rely on more conventional jabs: “weak minded,” “confused,” “believes fairy tales,” and the like. One fellow asked if I needed “the comfort of an imposed structure.” Do you think any of them seriously expected that they could get me to doubt my convictions that way?

     This might be something that only trolls are equipped to understand. It might go to some pleasure-mechanism that’s peculiar to them and alien to us. If so, it might prove a fertile field for research. For my part, I’d rather write stories, but no doubt there’s someone out there who needs a subject for his doctoral dissertation, or perhaps to hang a federal grant request on.

     All praise to Gab’s Block button! Appropriate use makes your corner of the Internet more tolerable, a wee bit more civilized. In a way, it’s like moving to a better neighborhood. And the best part? It’s free! It reduces the nuisances you must endure at no cost to you whatsoever. Alleluia!

     Hm. Maybe I should have kept that last bit to myself. I shudder to think of the implications should the administrators of Gab decide to impose a fee on its use.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Different Take on Hong Kong

From Spandrell, a Euro living in Asia. His main idea involves Social Position, and how it determines some of the seemingly irrational actions of modern societies.

Other things that caught my eye:
  • Immigrants, we are told, are a boon to the countries they move into. This is not strictly true - it really does depend on where those immigrants formerly lived. The Irish immigrants, although they put quite a strain on the US in the 19th century, had several major advantages: they spoke English, and were familiar with the legal system and customs. Other groups are less easily assimilated. Those who have no familiarity with the language, are illiterate/near illiterate, have religions that are not Jewish or Christian, or have cultural practices considered abhorrent by Westerners (eating dogs, rats, or other nontraditional critters; female infibulation/mutilation; multiple wives), will not fit in well, even after many years of residence, or generations of native-born Americans.
  • The Great Climate Change Meme Explodes! Film at 11. (NO, that WON'T happen - the news is still All In for Climate Change). There a link to Watt's Up's more detailed explanation of the Mann trial. The graph below, from Jim's Blog, needs to be widely shared - it encapsulates the fraud involved.
  • I don't quite know how to categorize this post on Class Struggle - Modern Societies? The End of Liberalism? But, it's thought-provoking, and interesting, as well.
  • It's a contentious and politically-charged issue, but, yes, IQ is important - not the ONLY important thing, but a good starting point. Other factors that MIGHT be more important for less-cerebral jobs: showing up on time, honesty, polite and rational behavior, not being smelly or personally offensive.
  • Last, schools have been looking at AI camera systems to try to identify students' emotions to prevent violence. 
    • Short story - it doesn't work, because Black faces are too often identified as hostile or contemptuous, compared to White faces.
    • Long story - maybe they just ARE more hostile or contemptuous?

Eighteen Years Later Part 2: Those Who Would Have Us Forget

     The Left always plays the long game. Gramsci described its lineaments in his famous phrase “a long march through the institutions.” For anyone with the patience to analyze that pithy phrase, the Left’s whole program is there. This is nowhere more visible than with reference to Black Tuesday: September 11, 2001.

     As I wrote yesterday, America’s current crop of teenagers knows only that others have told them about the 9/11 atrocities. Well, who are those others and what have they been saying?

     And we also have:

     And let’s not forget the claims that it was all a government conspiracy.

     The “institutions” have relentlessly striven to shift the responsibility for the 9/11 atrocities away from religiously motivated Muslim terrorists, from Islamic hatred of America, and from our catastrophically lax immigration and border control systems. Toward what? It hardly matters. Create enough noise around the event and the facts will be obscured beyond recovery.

     That’s not all, of course. We also have the ongoing sallies by “peaceful” Muslims to distance Muslims and Islam generally from Islam-powered terrorism. Yes, it’s a formidable undertaking, but they try their best. Review the Ilhan Omar video embedded above. Then review this one:

     And this one:

     Then think about the vulnerable, impressionable young Americans being deluged with this...and the America that will someday be theirs to operate and govern.

     Few things anger me quite as much as the objections – always from a representative of some group that claims “oppressed” status – that the rest of us shouldn’t hold the deeds of their miscreants against them. Why not? Because “we’re not all like that.” See the Brigitte Gabriel video embedded above for the perfect rejoinder.

     Religiously-powered violence is particularly egregious. For those who lack a clear understanding of why, allow me to make it maximally explicit:

A command from God supersedes all other commands.
It annuls all constraints.
It abrogates all other obligations and priorities.

     The religious warrior has no choice in the matter. He must do as God has told him. Allah has told Muslims that holy war against “unbelievers,” to bring them low and compel them to submit to Islam, is their supreme obligation. It’s in the Koran, which Muslims are taught is the literal word of God. As we mathematical types like to conclude, quod erat demonstrandum.

     Mention that, and the cries of “Islamophobia” (and “racism,” though Islam is not a race) will surely rise to assail you. You’re a “bigot.” You want to “oppress” innocent Muslims – the very people who not only refuse to cooperate in locating the terrorists and terror organizers among them, but who shield and succor them as a religious obligation. The very people who claim Jews are “the descendants of apes and pigs.” The very people who believe – once again, as a religious doctrine – that no Muslim is required to accept the authority of any “unbeliever” in any situation...and therefore, that a sincere Muslim can hold no allegiance to anything but Islam.

     Yes, really.

     The “institutions” of particular note:

  • The educational system;
  • The news media;
  • The entertainment industries;
  • The bureaucracies;

     ...are all Left-dominated, which gives rise to the key question of the hour: why? The Left and Islam are completely opposed on many things dear to Leftists’ hearts: abortion, homosexuality, unbridled sex, public displays of flesh and vulgarity, atheism, and others. Why, then, do the Left’s institutional bastions do so much to protect Islam and Muslims?

     The answer is fear. Not fear for themselves; they have little of that, despite the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten. Islam and Muslims are perfect instruments for promoting fear among the rest of us. Fear that our country has been targeted for subjugation by a theocratic creed whose allegiants are swarming into our land. Fear of the vipers they have brought among us, who might strike at any moment. And of course, fear of the Left’s condemnations of us as “Islamophobes,” “racists,” and “oppressors.”

     If you wish to control a people, make them fear. Disarm them if you can, so that they must repose all hope of defense in the State. If you can make them sufficiently fearful, they will accept whatever controls you care to place upon them, in the name of “security.”

     The irony could not be more dramatic...nor more extreme.

     I reserve my greatest ire for those who’ve dared to equate Islam with Christianity, the faith whose Founder said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” These bring out the beast in me. I vividly remember one odious bastard who dared to do so to my face, at a dinner party to which we had both been invited. That I didn’t indulge my desire to lay him out cold on the floor, out of misplaced concern for the good opinion of my hosts, is among my few severe regrets.

     There are persons with significant public profiles who’ve been straining to do that ever since 9/11, if not before. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris come to mind at once. There are others. Most of them pretend to frame their calumnies as opposition to all religions as “irrational” and “unnecessary.” Have a good look at their actual targets and draw your own conclusions.

     The harm these bastards do is beyond my ability to capture in a net of words. In synergy with the Left, they are steadily pushing Christianity to the margins of society: a set of convictions and practices not to be admitted to polite discourse, as though it were somehow shameful. But what have they said about Islam? Anything comparable?

     Can you hear the crickets chirping? I can.

     Those who would have America forget that the atrocities of Black Tuesday were perpetrated by Islamic terrorists motivated by Islam’s explicit commands will relent no more readily than the Islamists themselves. They must be countered. Yet few have risen to the need. I’ve tried, but mine is a minor voice in a cacophonous landscape. I shall continue for as long as my voice holds out. Any effort is better than none.

     What about you, Gentle Reader?