Saturday, August 31, 2019

“Truths” That Must Be Disputed

     It appalls me how often verifiably untrue claims are put forth under the explicit heading of “truth.” The tactic has a specific intention behind it: to render argument about the asserted “truth” unacceptable. It’s a step beyond the “everybody knows” approach, which remains open to counter-evidence. In that regard it’s a bit like the warmistas’ frequently heard statement that “the science is settled” – which it never is, in the inherent nature of science.

     But as you know, I’m an old dinosaur who maintains that words have an exact meaning, that facts trump theories and opinions, and that the laws of this universe make exceptions for no one’s preferences or feelings. Such positions are intolerable in our happenin’ world. They bruise too many egos. They drive persons of fragile self-regard to seek a “safe space.” They make it supremely important that I be silenced.

     That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure someone is working on it.

     Here’s the article that’s set me off. I shan’t excerpt it, as it deserves to be read in its entirety. The writer, “Ammo Grrl,” is apparently:

  • smart,
  • and articulate,
  • and well-intentioned.

     That makes her one of the most dangerous persons in America.

     Why dangerous? Because good intentions are a close cousin to wishful thinking. They can deflect the rational faculty from dispassionate observation and inference, and redirect it to rationalizing a course of action that’s at odds with the facts. Good intentions are like that. It’s why they’re the curbstones on the road to Hell.

     Trouble is, the great majority of us have good intentions – and in America those good intentions tend to be of a particular sort. They conform to what C. S. Lewis called the Law of General Benevolence. We want peace, prosperity, and good will to pervade our nation. We don’t want anyone, or any group, to be left out.

     Mind you, I’m in substantial agreement with a couple of Ammo Grrl’s “truths.” Numbers 2 and 3 are assertions against which I’m disinclined to argue, in part because I’m unaware of any facts that would contradict them. But Number 4 is not a “truth;” it’s a question that begins with “if,” whose answer is a matter of opinion. Number 5 is a prediction. Number 6 is historically questionable. Numbers 1 and 7 are verifiably wrong – powered, I would guess, by Ammo Grrl’s fervent desire that they be true.

     Today, you’re a “racist” if you dare to notice that there are differences among the races. Yet those differences exist. They’re plainly visible. Moreover, we make use of them from time to time. The causes for those differences might be a matter worthy of dispute; the differences themselves are objectively verifiable.

     For that reason, Ammo Grrl’s Number 1 “truth” is flatly false. Just one of the visible differences between American blacks and American whites – the vast number of out-of-wedlock births among black women, and the subsequent prevalence of black children raised in single-parent / female-headed households – is critically significant for urban zones’ problems with crime and violence. The refusal to notice facts that are contextually significant would give rise to still worse problems. Refusal to acknowledge facts is like that. That most of those problems would fall upon whites makes Ammo Grrl’s assertion highly a way, self-refuting.

     Number 7 is false as well. We do need further “conversation on race.” What we don’t need are the constraints imposed on such “conversation” by the Left: i.e., the unchallengeable premise that the differences among the races are a consequence of white racism and “privilege.” It is vital that we determine, whether through “conversation” or investigation:

  • What causes the legally and socially significant differences between American blacks and the other races;
  • If something can be done to ameliorate the deficiencies that afflict American blacks, what might it be;
  • If nothing can be done, what we might do to reduce interracial discord even so.

     As Numbers 1 and 7 are the “truths” that most well-intentioned Americans would leap to assert, and would defend a outrance, disputing and refuting them is critical. Yet few have the courage to question them.

     The very worst aspect of contemporary discourse is the Left’s stranglehold on the premises for it: specifically, its strident insistence that certain assertions be accepted without question. With regard to race and racial disparities, it’s my contention that that practice is creating racism of the genuinely harmful variety: the sort that promotes racially-based practices over practices that would take note of individual character and ability:

     When a society makes special provisions for a particular class of persons, such that those persons have a good expectation of not suffering for illegal or antisocial behavior, it has committed the worst imaginable injustice against the persons in that class who honor their society's laws and norms: it has equalized the legal, social, and moral positions of good citizens and thugs. Thus, if ninety percent of such a class is law-abiding and decorous while ten percent is violent, dishonest, or disruptive, the latter category will come to overshadow the former in the perceptions of persons outside the class -- not because ten percent is a majority, but because that anti-social subgroup is identified with the class's special set of privileges.

     The insistence that the American black demographic cohort’s legal and social deficiencies must be the consequence of “white racism” and / or “white privilege” is obstructing a dispassionate, objective search for their causes and the implied remedies. Persons of good will, regardless of their race, their politics, and their preferences, must not go along with it. Doing so makes this outcome more likely. That’s always the way it is with counterfactual dogmas: “truths” that run directly counter to what anyone can see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears.

     (The linked story is also available in this collection.)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Quickies: A Little Nostalgia

     It’s common for men of my age to spend significant amounts of time with our memories. The memories we revisit aren’t all pleasant ones. However, my trips into the past are largely positive recollections of experiences I greatly enjoyed and want never to forget.

     (No, they didn’t all involve sex. Get your mind out of the gutter. Besides, not all sexual experiences are particularly enjoyable. Not all of mine, at any rate...though that might just mean that I was doing it wrong. Oh, never mind.)

     I’ve spent the past hour or so enjoying old Moody Blues tunes. All of them date from the Sixties and very early Seventies. I’m unfamiliar with their later efforts. When I left academia for other vistas, I lost touch with what was happening in music. I only returned to familiarity with such trends long afterward. Such are the pressures that go along with becoming a self-supporting adult.

     The Moodies of my preferred period were consummate musicians. None of them acted like “virtuosi.” They didn’t show off on their instruments. They emphasized composition and faithfulness to it. Their stuff wears very well, despite its age.

     I only had one chance to see them live. I greatly enjoyed the concert, but mostly because I loved their songs and admired them so much. At the time I was an intermediate-level guitarist, and my highest aspiration was to play as competently as did Justin Hayward. That having been said, the concert was much like listening to their recordings. That was their way.

     Yet, even though that concert didn’t expose the audience to anything we couldn’t have played on our stereos, it remains one of the brightest of my musical memories. I was in the same room with musicians I admired, listening to them do what they did so well, and yearning to attain their level of competence some day.

     Something has changed in contemporary music. It seems there’s been an ethical shift – a kind of “can you top this?” attitude that displaces musicianship. There are exceptions – Glass Hammer immediately comes to mind – but they’re not many, and they don’t get the degree of promotion they need to become widely known. Everyone else is showing off; few are humble enough to allow the import of the songs to shine through. That might be because the songs themselves aren’t terribly good, but de gustibus and all that.

     Not long ago I saw a bumper sticker that tickled me:

I May Be Old,
But I Got To See
All the Good Bands

     It resonated with me for obvious reasons. Yet it’s strange to feel that way. Maybe you will too, some day, Gentle Reader. Cherish the things you love. Clutch them to your breast, no matter what they are. All those things must pass away, just as we will. Love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em.

Epstein - Suicide or Murder?

Does it matter?

COULD he have killed himself? Well, the state certainly made it easy - if not seemingly their preferred resolution to the problem of his ability to implicate some very high-flyers, mostly of Leftist persuasion.

Did he get a message that OTHER people he cared about would be left alone, if he were to be found not breathing?

Did the previous message - delivered, it is said, by another inmate - finally sink in? The message being:

You WILL die. The only question is, how much pain you'll have to endure before you reach room temperature.

Epstein doesn't strike me as a Tough Guy. I doubt it would have taken a lot of roughing up to get him to Go to the Light.

On the other hand, he may have placed hope in his bargaining chances - Let's Make a Deal is the game that is played by most of the Elite when caught red-handed.

That's the scenario that probably triggered a hit - IF this was one.

Either way - Assisted Suicide, or Murder - the State, and, by extension, their Overlords, are up to their necks in complicity.

Pity they haven't the moral foundation to be ashamed of their actions - both the sexual abuses, and the pressure to Get Rid of The Problem (Epstein).

Quickies: Minimax And Mainchance In Political Strategizing

     Every course of action has a downside. Sometimes the likelihood of that downside is what matters most to the person(s) contemplating it. Sometimes, however, it’s the depth of the pit that matters most – or should.

     The Democrats based much of their 2016 electoral strategy on defaming Donald Trump. Part of the defamation was of course the allegation that he was colluding with the Russian government to tip the election in his favor. However, that didn’t prevent Trump’s election. That put the Democrats in the awkward position of needing to defend their allegations – and those who made and propagated them – both from legal redress and in the court of public opinion. As should be unanimously acknowledged at this point, they failed on both counts, such that today several high-profile persons stand disgraced and might even face prison terms.

     The above was the heart of a mainchance strategy: i.e., betting everything on the outcome that would produce the highest return, with no provision for the consequences of losing. Mainchance planning is uncommon, as most of us would like to be reasonably certain that no matter how the dice might fall, we’ll survive what follows. Concentration on the possibility of losing results in a minimax strategy: i.e., playing so as to minimize the maximum possible damage from losing.

     The Democrats’ strategists believed, probably correctly, that winning their bet would bring them full control of Washington while exiling the Trump-led GOP to the political margins. Today, they’re suffering the consequences for losing. Those consequences will thrust them into the political wilderness for at least an election cycle. (If you doubt this, ponder their slate of presidential aspirants.) The most they can do to mitigate their suffering is to have their media allies reframe the story or strive to deflect attention from it. So far, that’s not doing much for them.

     Perhaps they should have paid more attention to the probability of losing a slanderous campaign against a well-known figure whose entire life had been reported in large type, who had nothing to lose, and who was all but guaranteed to seek retribution from those who had defamed him.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Unexplicably, White Women Decline to Pay for their Debasement

Hmmm. Wonder why?

Must be racism.

At first, I thought this was over-the-top Babylon Bee-type satire. But, no - this Woman of Color (actually, of Indian descent - dot, not feather) actually expects her friends to take her to dinner - paying the whole bill themselves - for the rare privilege of spending that time, not enjoying the cuisine, catching up on life events, and just having fun.


They are to listen to a harangue. A monologue, with the subject of it being their Unbearable Whiteness.

After finding her friends rejecting, in polite White tones, that exquisite pleasure of PAYING for the privilege of hearing how they are the sole reason for her oppression, the writer, Saira Rao, is stunned. And surprised.

Apparently, she was inspired by a NYT essay, which she posted a link to on Twitter, along with an enthusiastic "YES". She has since created a group to subject White People to her, and other Women of Color (or not - take a look at the team on the site, and you decide) spewing hate towards them.

One of those women is named Bob Bland - can't find any indication that she is other than a woman, despite the name.

Whatever. There is more on the Woke Woman, Saira Pao, here.


     Apologies in advance, Gentle Reader. It’s going to be one of those days...and you know what that means.

1. The Fake News Chronicle.

     The heading of this section is my preferred name for the New York Times. Ann Coulter explains why:

     Antwon Rose II was a 17-year-old boy shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018 after he bolted from a jitney car that had been stopped by the officer. The Times published about a half-dozen stories on Antwon Rose — or as the Times calls him, “Antwon, who was unarmed.”

     After the officer was acquitted on all charges in March of this year, the Times ran an article by Adeel Hassan on the verdict.

     Here’s what you would learn from the Times:

  • Antwon was unarmed.
  • Antwon “was in his high school’s honors program.”
  • Antwon “played basketball and the saxophone.”
  • Antwon “volunteered for a local charity.”
  • In 2016, Antwon wrote a poem titled, “I Am Not What You Think!” which included these lines:
              I see mothers bury their sons
              I want my Mom to never feel that pain.
  • A policeman stopped the gold Chevy Cruze Antwon “was riding in” because it “matched the description” of a car “involved” in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier.
  • The jury consisted of nine whites and three African Americans.

     If you read the Times piece, all you would know is that an honor student who loved his mom … was KILLED for the crime of riding in a car similar to one that had just been used in a crime.

     Miss Coulter goes on to present some additional, rather relevant facts about Antwon Rose and the incident in which he was killed that the Times, wholly focused on smearing America and American justice as incorrigibly racist, felt it would be impolitic to include. Please read it all.

2. Two From The “Mad Dog.”

     Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman has posted two excellent pieces on education in these United States:

     Please read them both. I have two tangential observations. First, note that “educators’” unions, politicians, and educational bureaucracies are dead set against allowing parents any escape route from the government schools. Indeed, Bill De Blasio, New York City’s Marxist mayor, has done his level best to destroy all alternatives to the city’s educational sewers. The amounts of money and votes available from rigidly supporting and defending the educracy are hard to forgo, especially for those who want children funneled into an indoctrination system that will inculcate them with leftist precepts. So despite the repeated successes of vouchers, charter schools, magnet schools, and private alternatives, we must expect intense political and educratic resistance to them to continue.

     Second, no matter where children are schooled, or by whom, there will be a transmission of values from teacher to student. That makes it a parent’s paramount responsibility to his kids to monitor curricula, teaching methods, and related developments in the schools they attend, whether private, public, or some hybrid. That responsibility can never go away...until the kids themselves go away, of course.

3. Identity Politics.

     Today Paul Mirengoff at Power Line cites the work of Mary Eberstadt on the correlation between the decline of familial bonds and the rise of identity politics:

     Both the family and identity politics provide a partial answer to this question: “Who am I?” The more one answers this question in familial terms, the less likely one is to answer it primarily in racial, ethnic, or gender terms.

     Unfortunately, as Eberstadt shows, family ties have become more and more attenuated in the last half century. It’s not just the absence of fathers, though that’s certainly an enormous factor. Shrinking family size has meant the relative absence of siblings. According to Eberstadt, “diverse findings show that being accompanied through early life by non-parental contemporaneous others (i.e., siblings) gives children and teenagers a leg up on socialization—in other words, knowing who they are in the social order.”

     Indeed. Personal identity, while it can be defined without reference to other persons, can only be sustained by buttressing it with associations formed with others. Without such buttressing, the endless assaults on identity that arise from ordinary existence will weaken it to impotence. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Abraham Maslow is nodding and muttering “I told you so.”

     Food for serious thought.

4. Meanwhile, Across The Pond...

     The British scheme of constitutional monarchy is widely believed to render the monarch a mere figurehead, for ceremonial uses only. That’s not quite the case:

     While Queen Elizabeth II does not express political opinions as monarch, she respects the will of her people. And the people voted for Brexit. Which means the queen was always going to come down on the side of the vote of the people. So when her new prime minister, Boris Johnson, asked her to prorogue Parliament, she agreed to it.

     What’s this? Elizabeth II has actually taken a hand in the Brexit controversy? But of course! A monarch is a sovereign. No sovereign wants his sovereignty weakened by subjugation to some overbearing “union.” So Her Majesty has assisted Prime Minister Johnson’s quest for a clean departure from the EU by suspending Parliament for the duration. That’s one of the British monarch’s remaining political powers:

     The queen has some limited political powers, which people often forget about because the concept of royalty to the American eye seems largely ceremonial and antiquated. But there have been moments where British monarchs in the constitutional era have used their political leverage – not always for the best reasons. The monarch opens and closes Parliament – it does not come into session without her approval. At the same time, she also gets to “prorogue” it – meaning that she gets to send them on vacation, suspending all parliamentary activity until the start of the new session. However, the queen does this only at the advice or request of her Privy Council, who did call a session at Balmoral (the queen’s summer residence in Scotland) in order to get her answer to Prime Minister Johnson’s proposal.

     Parliament will now be prorogued from sometime in early September until October 14th. Deal or no deal, Brexit is happening on October 31st.

     “And there was much rejoicing.”

5. Obsessives Gonna Obsess.

     Does anyone else remember, during the contest over the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, George Stephanopoulos asking Mitt Romney about his position on the legality of birth control? I do. There’s video at the link, if your memory isn’t as sharp as mine.

     The Left has made sex and phenomena attendant to it one of its favorite sticks with which to flog conservatives. That’s not going to stop any time soon. And longtime sex-obsessed lunatic Amanda Marcotte – remember this episode? — is ever ready to lead the charge:

     The reason Republicans keep taking away birth control is because Republicans want to take away your birth control. They hate the power it gives women, especially young women and low-income women.

     Conservatives are modern Puritans and, as H.L. Mencken famously said, they are driven by the "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

     Mind you, this clearly mentally ill woman – I assume she’s a woman, but these days it’s hard to be sure – is ranting about the recent ruling from the Trump Administration that Title X funding cannot go to abortion providers, nor to organizations that refer patients for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency. But it’s all the same to Marcotte: an “attack” on “women’s rights” and the “power” they have. And the Left, happy to use the sex shillelagh against the Right, applauds her every word instead of getting her the therapy she so badly needs.

     Great God in heaven! From Marcotte’s ravings you’d think we in the Right dislike sex. Hardly! Neither do we believe that babies are born by fission, or from cuttings. But obsessives gonna obsess, and political obsessives gonna obsess politically, even on subjects as firmly settled as the legality of birth control.

     That’s all for now, Gentle Reader. Long Island has a deluge pouring down on it at the moment, and a distressing fraction of it is finding its way into my basement despite recent, very expensive waterproofing work. Back later and hopefully drier.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Benevolence Beyond Pluto

     It’s typical of the “progressive” that he readily displays callousness toward identifiable individuals while he proclaims his love for anonymous collectives. It’s why you’ll so frequently hear them defending some oppressive measure as for the good of “the nation,” “the people,” or (God help us all) “the children.” Individuals and their rights are too irritating to deal with; crowds of notional unidentified beneficiaries are much easier.

     The consequences of exporting one’s benevolent impulses so far from one’s proximate orbit “should” be “obvious.” They were to C. S. Lewis:

     Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient's soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

     [C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]

     Benevolence reserved for amorphous masses is benevolence that need never be actually exercised. So it is with the Left and its mouthpieces, as their own behavior so often demonstrates.

     The following three items struck me powerfully this morning:

     For reproductive-rights supporters in the United States, it's long been easy to see the Republican Party's hard-line antiabortion politics as a kind of grotesque hypocrisy. How can a political body that has aligned itself against school lunches and for machine guns claim to support "life?" This juxtaposition has been particularly cruel over the past year, as revelations about the imprisonment of migrant children in concentration camps have coincided with a wave of draconian antiabortion legislation. (Just last week, a federal appeals court approved Trump administration rules cutting off federal funds from health-care providers that offer abortions or even discuss the procedure with patients, effectively slashing the budget of organizations like Planned Parenthood.) But understanding this confluence as ironic can actually mislead us. In fact, as King and his white nationalist allies have become increasingly comfortable admitting, state crackdowns on reproductive and immigrant rights are inextricably linked.

     [From the Washington Post]

     The owner of a legendary California eatery has blasted socialist presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders after he was ‘cranky’ and ‘rude’ to staff during a dinner with his campaign team on Thursday.

     Senator Sanders had been in San Francisco to attend the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting last week when he stopped by the iconic John’s Grill on Union Square, flanked by a number of his entourage.

     But the owner of the 111-year-old restaurant, John Konstin, said he was less than impressed by the 77-year-old Democrat’s decorum, claiming that he was ‘rude’ to staff and declined to shake hands or pose for photos.

     ‘It was all very nice, except for cranky Bernie,’ Konstin told Politico. ‘He was just rude, not friendly.

     [From The Daily Mail]

     “Beto” O’Rourke had no trouble telling a man that his mother had an absolute, unchallengeable “right” to abort him on the day before his birth. He was defending the “progressive” doctrine of “women’s rights.” Women, you see, are a special subsector of Mankind with extra rights and prerogatives that we Y-chromosome bearers don’t possess.

     Marissa Brostoff, the author of the WaPo article, seeks to defend those same “women’s rights” by attacking Congressman Steve King, Dutch political figure Geert Wilders, and the rest of us who want to see the white race survive and prosper as “white supremacists.” Never mind that were she to plug any other race into that formulation, she would immediately garner enough denunciations to hound her out of public life and into a name change and plastic surgery. Abortion “rights” (a.k.a. “reproductive services” or “safe medical procedures”) must be defended a outrance!

     And then we have kindly old Bernie Sanders, the doddering uncle figure the openly socialist Left can’t seem to replace. Sanders has long been known as a rude old bastard. He jostles and shoves. He disdains the common courtesies. He has no time for commoners who work in lowly service and hospitality jobs. But “he speaks for the people!”

     The “progressives” keep turning out spokesmen of this sort. Yet those who back them are uninterested in the contrast between their rhetoric and their behavior. There’s an election to win.

     Among the bits of advice frequently offered to those still looking for mates, the following are prominent:

     “If you want a preview of how he’ll treat his wife, watch how he treats his sister.”


     “Watch how she treats waiters and retail clerks, because that’s how she’ll treat you in five years.”

     The application to political figures and their behavior could hardly be clearer. Yet an appalling number of persons are unable to see it. Still fewer will consistently apply it.

     Say what you will about the presidency of George W. Bush, he was a decent man who treated those around him with courtesy, even charity, at every encounter. The accounts of his courtesy and generosity toward those who approached him are beyond enumeration. Yet only a thin margin in Ohio spared us a John F. Kerry presidency. Had American voters given more thought to the way he treated his Secret Service entourage, he’d have been lucky to get ten electoral votes.

     Personal quality is inseparable from one’s behavior toward the persons nearest him. Concentration on politicos’ statements obscures that factor – which is exactly as the Left likes it. The Left is willing to “break eggs” in whatever number is required to make its collectivist “omelet.” How could we expect those who carry its standard to behave otherwise? How could we fail to use such persons’ day-to-day behavior to distinguish them from decent Americans?

     Allow me to conclude with a passage from a great work of fiction:

     After an idle discussion with the pest control man who came once a month to spray around the outside of his home in the Ruxton section of Baltimore, William Sterog stole a canister of Malathion, a deadly insecticide poison, from the man’s truck, and went out early one morning, following the route of the neighborhood milkman, and spooned medium-large quantities into each bottle left on the rear doorstep of seventy homes. Within six hours of Bill Sterog’s activities, two hundred men, women and children died in convulsive agony.
     Learning that an aunt who had lived in Buffalo was dying of cancer of the lymph glands, William Sterog hastily helped his mother pack three bags, and took her to Friendship Airport, where he put her on an Eastern Airlines jet with a simple but efficient time bomb....The jet exploded somewhere over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Ninety-three people—including Bill Sterog’s mother—were killed in the explosion, and flaming wreckage added seven to the toll by cascading skydown on a public swimming pool.
     On a Sunday in November, William Sterog made his way to Babe Ruth Plaza on 33rd Street where he became one of 54,000 fans jamming Memorial Stadium to see the Baltimore Colts play the Green Bay Packers....Even as 53,999 screaming fans leaped to their feet—making his range of fire that much better—as the ball was snapped to the quarterback, holding for the defensive tackle most able to kick a successful field goal, Bill Sterog opened fire on the massed backs of the fans below him. Before the mob could bring him down, he had killed forty-four people.
     When the first Expeditionary Force to the elliptical galaxy in Sculptor descended on the second planet of a fourth magnitude star the Force had designated Flammarion Theta, they found a thirty-seven-foot-high statue of a hitherto-unknown blue-white substance—not quite stone, something like metal—in the shape of a man....None of these men, standing under a gorgeous brass moon that shared an evening sky with a descending sun quite dissimilar in color to the one that now shone wanly on an Earth unthinkably distant in time and space, had ever heard of William Sterog. And so none of them was able to say that the expression on the giant statue was the same as the one Bill Sterog had shown as he told the final appeals judge who was about to sentence him to death in the lethal-gas chamber, “I love everyone in the world. I do. So help me God, I love you, all of you!” He was shouting.

     [Harlan Ellison, “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World”]

     Food for thought.

Our worthless elites.

America’s governing elite, like all elites, have money and power. But the root of their supposed moral authority comes chiefly from having the correct and fashionable opinions, not virtue or courage or human excellence more broadly understood. The only requirement for remaining in the elite is the cheap virtue of affirming the elite’s basic world view on subjects like abortion, gay marriage, global warming, immigration, diversity, and the like.
"What Happened to the Epstein Story?" By Christopher Roach, American Greatness, 8/26/19.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Warren Warns Trump about "Handsy" Behavior

How presumptious! Elizabeth Warren assumes that Trump would be salivating at the thought of coming into physical contact with her.

As if!

Here Liz is with RFK, Jr. - she is clearly the one reaching out with intent on being 'handsy' - if, by 'handsy' she means to go beyond a firm handshake (no more than 2 shakes, no other body parts touching).

Other recent photos with her clearly comfortable with non-marital touching.

In that picture of her embracing Julian Castro, I half expect them to retire to a Mexican restaurant
for chips and salsa, and many, many beers. Geez, get a room, Lady!

Maybe Trump could tweet out reassurance that he wouldn't touch her with a 10 foot pole.

Not his type.

STILL Nothing to See Here

Amazing, isn't it?

In a world that will beat to death the story of ANY celebrity, however obscure, the "suicide" of Jeffrey Epstein has faded from the headlines.

No TMI discussion, laughing about the clearly suspicious circumstances. No CNN urging to re-visit the autopsy. No The View re-hash of every bit of gossip about all the celebrities and politicians that can now breathe easy.

Nope. The case, as we have been told about so many things, is settled.

So, go about your pathetic little lives, peasants.

You might want to check out this website by a former homicide commander, and what he has to say about suicide.


     This one is “off the top of my head,” so expect more extreme lunacy than usual. (Yes, I know that’s asking a lot.)

     Every now and then, I’ll encounter a picture that triggers a moment of reflection. Such moments are frequent in these days of universal Internet access and broadband media. Such reflections are sometimes accompanied by a surge of gratitude...or of regret.

     Courtesy of Kenny “Wirecutter” Lane at Knuckledraggin’ My Life Away, here’s the most recent example:

     Yes, it’s a beautiful picture. Yes, the woman is beautiful: beautiful face, exquisite figure, long hair, and long, smooth legs. Fetchingly poised in a window box, striking a contemplative pose as she gazes outward. And in sexy lingerie and five inch heels! My word! How much more could a man ask for?

     The odds are pretty damned high that this wasn’t a “candid” shot. The woman is likely to be a professional model. The photo was likely taken in a studio. Householders are very seldom interested in black-and-white photography. And all of that is secondary to this:

Have you ever known a woman of any age or degree of pulchritude to sit around her home wearing only sexy lingerie and high heels?

     Nope. Me neither.

     Desires and dreams are important. We all have them. But realism is even more important...and it’s becoming a critically scarce commodity.

     It’s good to dream. It’s good to have grand ambitions. But the universe has laws no one can break. Among the most important of them are the laws of probability.

     The gal in the photo above is one of the most beautiful women in America. That’s a small group. Needless to say (though, as is my wont, I shall say it even so), there’s no guarantee that her beautiful face and body are united to a beautiful character. Indeed, that’s the case less often than not, as a concentration on achieving and maintaining physical beauty usually accompanies a lack of attention to character and deportment. Moreover, membership in the Raving Beauties Club seldom lasts more than a few years...and as beauty fades, those other matters become even more important.

     Gentlemen: If you were offered the opportunity to be married to that gal, sight unseen and knowing nothing else about her, would you take it? If so, why?

     You’d be taking the short end of a bet, my friends. Especially considering what family law has become in our time. Yet she’s the image in a hell of a lot of men’s dreams.

     Of course, certain risks and sacrifices go along with marriage to anyone. But even should Mr. Smith find a supernaturally lovely Miss Jones to woo, what are the odds that he, a more or less average American with an average American’s life prospects, would win her heart? Should he succeed in doing so, how long would the physical gifts that attracted him endure? And what sort of character, children, and wifely and motherly devotion would he acquire with her?

     It’s the same for women pining for the sort of men featured on the covers of romance novels, so the ladies in the audience shouldn’t imagine that I’m omitting them from the unrealism derby.

     By making professional entertainers a part of our usual evenings, television in its early years introduced dreams of the sort alluded to above to our aspirations. The images have grown steadily brighter, sharper, more glamorous, and more enticing as the decades have rolled past. But they remain images, not realities to which ordinary people can seriously aspire.

     The same could be said of typical fantasies of great wealth. It comes to very few persons, and in many cases it doesn’t last long. Casinos and lotteries cater to those fantasies, which is how they make their money. But the man who heads to Atlantic City with his savings in his pocket, hoping to come home rich, is in serious need of a reality check.

     Yet we all dream. We’re encouraged to dream by many forces. Dreams are not entirely unconstructive; they can serve as a spur to effort. However, a tragic fraction of us make unrealistic dreams into goals we imagine we can realize, with the right breaks and enough effort. Failure to realize such unrealisms is at the root of a lot of unhappiness. It’s a notable component of the envy plague that’s beset our society.

     When dreams displace values is when we’re in real trouble – and that, too, has become an epidemic of sorts.

     A still worse outgrowth was the increase of speculation and gambling. With the plethora of paper currency in 1791 appeared the first evidences of that cancerous disease which always follows large issues of irredeemable currency,—a disease more permanently injurious to a nation than war, pestilence or famine. For at the great metropolitan centers grew a luxurious, speculative, stock-gambling body, which, like a malignant tumor, absorbed into itself the strength of the nation and sent out its cancerous fibres to the remotest hamlets. At these city centers abundant wealth seemed to be piled up: in the country at, large there grew a dislike of steady labor and a contempt for moderate gains and simple living.

     [Andrew Dickson White, Fiat Money Inflation in France]

     "These people, it's no mystery where they come from. You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire. You build egos the size of cathedrals. Fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse. Grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green gold-plated fantasies until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own god. Where can you go from there?" -- "John Milton," played by Al Pacino, from the movie The Devil's Advocate

     Dreams that displace values are responsible for wrecking many lives, many marriages, and many careers. Political dreams, the sort that afflict many an occupant of high office or an aspirant to it, lead to self-betrayals that are often bitterly repented later on. Just now some twenty dreamers are vying for the Democrat Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. No more than one of them can succeed, yet all are making promises that no man, even one installed in the Oval Office, could possibly fulfill. To cap the ironies, they seek to challenge the first president since Grover Cleveland who’s making good on his promises, as far as human ability and the vicissitudes of federal politics will allow.

     There’s a moral in there, somewhere.

     “It is good to dream...but be sure to wake up.” – Gregory Benford, Timescape

Monday, August 26, 2019

Art, Entertainment, And Money

     You can make money by entertaining people, if you’re good enough at it and are noticed for that. Quite a lot of Americans strive to build careers as entertainers. If the entertainer observes the usual legal and ethical constraints, it’s as acceptable an occupation as any other.

     Part of the reason many persons pursue one of the arts – fiction, poetry, music, drama, painting, sculpture, athletics, what have you – is to make money. Indeed, artists who hope for financial remuneration from their work are almost certainly a large majority. But what would predictably, reliably make money isn’t always what the artist would like to do, or what he’s best equipped to do. It’s a tension that’s existed since we first deemed certain pursuits to be arts.

     That tension can warp an artist’s mind, to say nothing of the effect on his bank balance. But it arises from effects that no one can undo.

     When Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press in 1439, his immediate aim was to produce and distribute the Bible. The Bible was the one and only book of general importance. He who owned an actual copy of it was fortunate indeed. But an invention as versatile as the printing press would not long be confined to the production of Bibles. There were other books people wanted reproduced in volume, and the rich ones among them offered incentives for doing so.

     Thus, patronage, long a key factor in the support of the visual and musical arts, became a part of the written arts. But printing presses and those skilled in their operation remained scarce for a long time. Those who wanted their works reproduced had to bid against one another for the press owners’ efforts. That’s how the first publishing companies were born.

     A lot of water has passed under Mankind’s bridges since then. There are still vanity presses, of course. They don’t command a lot of respect, but they’re out there, available to the writer who wants to see his name on the spine of a book and is willing to pay for the privilege. Respectable publishers are in business to make a profit by selling books to readers, rather than by selling them to their authors. But to do that, they must solve a perennially difficult problem: accurately predicting which books will sell in volume.

     This is so difficult a task that to remain in business, most conventional publishers – i.e., those that concentrate on producing and selling hard-copy books rather than eBooks – must be supported by a larger, more reliably profitable organization. Indeed, owing to the proliferation of genres and sub-genres, accurate prediction of readers’ tastes has steadily grown harder. The pressure on conventional publishers is at an all-time is the pressure on a writer who looks to his fiction for his principal income.

     The explosion in eBook publishing has complicated matters still further. Publication in electronic format was at first regarded as the lowest of publishing’s slums, suited only to writers who have neither stories to tell nor skills for the telling. That lack of prestige caused conventional publishers to shun the eBook for a long time – far too long for their financial health. Readers, once they got used to their Kindles and NOOKs, found the eBook an adequate publication medium with several advantages that compensate for its limitations. The coalescence of eBook formats around two dominant ones, each easily converted to the other, helped to resolve matters of availability and eReader compatibility. The sale of eBooks swiftly rose to equal and then surpass the sale of conventionally published books.

     Conventional publishers, desperate to shore up their finances, belatedly got into the eBook act. Unfortunately, they brought baggage with them that impeded them despite the advantages that could have accrued from their institutional prestige. The eBook hasn’t served them nearly as well as it’s served the legions of small, eBook-only presses that cater to “independent” writers.

     But the flood to eBooks is not an unmixed blessing for writers. It’s so easy to produce an eBook, and so easy to make it available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and several other online retailers, that getting attention for one’s works is harder than ever. So many writers are “talking” that any individual one must “shout” to be heard at all. Making a living by writing fiction remains a tough challenge.

     A few indie writers have succeeded, especially in the speculative genres. The best known ones emphasize relentless productivity. Their novels arrive in barrages, series of a dozen or more volumes with a common setting and protagonists. It’s difficult to criticize this approach, if the end in view is revenue. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks, especially for their emulators.

     Since the releases of the various volumes of the Futanari Saga, a number of my fiction readers have written to ask a common question: “Why did you write this?” (Most of them go on to say “I mean, I liked it, but...”) I wrote that series for the same reason I write everything: to explore certain ideas in a fictional setting. One of them – transgenderism – has ignited a great deal of public controversy. So I decided to delve into it from a skewed perspective: the fictional existence of women born with male genitals, whose condition is involuntary and irreparable.

     While I wouldn’t turn down big revenues as long as they come without strings, it’s more important for me to write about the ideas on my mind than to pursue big bucks. It’s a personal choice that not all writers make. Indeed, not all visual artists make it, as we can see from the large amounts of schlock that decorates so many living room walls.

     One of the downsides of the eBook explosion has been what I think of as “The Forty-Niner Effect.” The discovery of gold in northern California caused a lot of people to flock thither in hope of great riches. A few of them prospered mightily, but far more of them were bitterly disappointed. Some even starved to death. Of the unfortunate ones, how many could have prospered more and lived better by “staying home” and plying some more conventional trade?

     Writers in the age of the eBook face the same sort of temptation. The fabulously successful ones inspire emulators. The emulators are usually disappointed by their results. A lot of them become bitter. But far worse by my lights, among those who fail to prosper financially are some gifted storytellers who’ve sloughed their own, unique ideas to pursue the big bucks. There’s a tragedy for you.

     Of course, it’s the Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web saying this: a writer so obsessed with originality that he won’t set his fingers to the keys unless he’s certain that what he has in mind has never even been attempted before. So as usual the proper seasoning is cum grano salis.

     Still, I personally know two highly gifted writers who’ll tell you from dawn to dusk (and all night long if you have the staying power) that they only do it to make money. They have yet to make much. Yet both of them have broached exciting, fictionally unexplored ideas to me that they’ve “left on the shelf:” in one case to turn out a series of formulaic space operas; in the other to produce (shudder) vampire novels. And I look at my Kindle, and fret over the lack of anything fresh and original to read, and I sigh.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

“Christian Nationalism”

     The relevant article is here:

     A gaggle of representatives from theologically liberal denominations recently issued a statement against Christian nationalism in America, claiming that it threatens both American democracy and the ability of our religious communities to live in peace.

     To be sure, Christian nationalism is an extremely odd place to find the threat to religious freedom in a world that increasingly makes demands like “shut up and wax that woman’s b-lls.” But the irony goes deeper than that. It’s not some stroke of blind chance that lead to religious freedom in the Christian West—it was, in fact, due to our Christian faith.

     The article is worth reading in its entirety. However, I argue that its premise – i.e., that “religious neutrality has failed” – lacks sufficient power to propel his recommendations in their entirety. Besides, how can something fail if it doesn’t exist?

     Author Matthew Cochran’s strongest point is that “religious neutrality,” in the dictionary sense, does not exist and never has existed – anywhere. That ties directly into his observations about “tolerance:”

     Under the guise of religious neutrality, too many Christians have been tricked into withholding their good judgment from matters of state. This has led to some profound changes, but there’s nothing religiously or morally neutral about them.

     We have, for instance, allowed women to choose whether to murder their offspring, but this is not neutrality—in this, the state blatantly values personal autonomy and privacy more than it values love or the right to live. We have forced people to speak as though men are actually women or act as though two women can be married to one-another, but this is not neutral—it demands that Christians set aside their understanding of marriage and sex. Even something as simple as getting rid of blasphemy laws that respected the name of Jesus Christ was never “fair” or neutral—it only cleared the way for new blasphemy laws that respect sexual deviancy and other politically correct subjects du jour instead.

     The Left has made capital out of the notion that “religious neutrality” should bar persons with certain beliefs from public life. Recently, we had the case of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and another involving Brian Buescher, a nominee to one of the District Courts. There’s no argument that this tool must be taken away from them. But it should be addressed separately from the larger subject of the promotion of Christian nationalism.

     The core of the problem arising from the free exercise of religion is that our Supreme Law, which states:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

     ...lacks a definition of religion that would serve to distinguish the protected sort from unacceptable creeds that seek the protection afforded to religions. As matters stand, anyone can formulate a creed of whatever sort, founded on any theology or none, and promulgating any ethical creed, and claim that it’s a religion that deserves the protection of the law. The simplest approach to religion – the union of a theology with a moral-ethical code – is insufficient. It omits to specify what constitutes a genuine theology, and what would pass for an acceptable moral-ethical code.

     At this time there are three million persons resident in our lands who adhere to a “religion” that advocates:

  • Slavery;
  • Theocracy;
  • Wife-beating;
  • Unilateral divorce;
  • Conversion by the sword;
  • Polygamy and concubinage;
  • Enforced codes for dress and grooming;
  • The execution of apostates, heretics, and blasphemers;
  • The execution of homosexuals, adulterers, and fornicators;
  • War by which to eliminate all competing religions from the world.

     If any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch believes that the advocacy of those things deserves the protection of the law, I’ve slipped into the “bearded Spock universe” without noticing.

     Cochran is correct that America’s conceptual basis proceeds directly from the nearly unanimous adherence to some variety of Christianity at the time of the Founding. However, his conception of a workable Christian nationalism needs work. It fails to say which aspects of Christian doctrine and practice are integral to our conceptual base and our public norms, and which ones are not.

     For example, Catholics, the largest individual denomination within American Christianity, observe certain holy days by obligation. We are required to attend Mass on those days. Until recently, we were also forbidden to perform “servile work.” This is a sectarian requirement; other varieties of Christianity do not include it and would bridle at the suggestion that it might be imposed upon them. Similarly, a couple of the smaller Christian denominations forbid wives to work outside the home. That wouldn’t be greeted warmly by the others. A nationalism founded on Christianity would perforce need to specify the extent to which Christian precepts and doctrines are to be honored by the law.

     Christians agree on the Ten Commandments of the Book of Exodus, and on the two Great Commandments that underpin them. Yet even here, many sincere Christians would object to having all of them become law. After the excisions and qualifications required to achieve consensus, Christian nationalism would be reduced to an acknowledgement of Christianity’s contributions to the political philosophy expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

     Perhaps that would be valuable by itself. After all, the Left-dominated educational system is striving with all its might to deny it. But its nebulosity makes it seem a very weak tea.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

An Announcement: Free Fiction!

     On Saturday, August 24, 2019 -- my little book The Athene Academy Collection is free at Amazon:

     Become acquainted with the futanari. Despite being genetically women, they possess male genitals. Athene Academy, the most unusual college on Earth, was created specifically to serve them. The three novelettes in this collection are about their unique trials, and those of the men and women who teach them, work with them, and love them.

     These novelettes are “prequels” to my three novels Innocents, Experiences, and The Wise and the Mad.

Foreign Student/Workers Preferences

This program is responsible for keeping many Americans unemployed/underemployed.

NC: IF the GOP DOESN'T Reference This...

...they're giving the election away.

Despite being a large city, Charlotte, like much of NC, is still a relatively conservative Southern city. Most of the people living in and around Charlotte are hoppin' mad about the way that the increase in crime, and the general lack of maintenance of city amenities/services has left the city more and more looking just like any Northern slum.

So, the focus of city council and other legislators is more concerned about reassuring the Left that Charlotte is a Rainbow-y, Bend-Over-and-Welcome-the-Illegal-Aliens kind of a place, rather than deliver on responsibilities to their actual citizens.

Zoom in on this link to see the extent of REPORTED crimes, and compare to neighboring cities. Crime is not confined to the inner city, and is leaking out into the surrounding parts of the county.

Gov. Ray Cooper will not gain votes by vetoing this legislation that required local sheriffs to cooperate with ICE detainers. Many are tired of being fearful of assaults and robbery by those who have no legitimate reason for being here.

The McCready-Bishop runoff is Sept. 10th. It can't come too soon, as the ads are omnipresent. It's gotten so we keep switching from channel to channel to avoid the viciousness.

When Smart People Say Foolish Things

     “I do not need protecting,” she said. “I can take care of myself.”
     “You are a fine fencer,” I said. “Unfortunately, life is more complicated than a fair dueling situation.”
     “I know that. I'm not a child. But—”
     “ 'But' nothing! He did the same thing I'd do if you were mine. He's protecting himself as well as you. I'm surprised he let Brand know about you. He's going to be damned mad that I found out.” Her head jerked and she stared at me, eyes wide.
     “But you wouldn't do anything to hurt us,” she said. “We-we're related.”
     “How the hell do you know why I'm here or what I'm thinking?” I said. “You might have just stuck both your necks in nooses!”
     “You are joking, aren't you?” she said, slowly raising her left hand between us.
     “I don't know,” I said. “I need not be-and I wouldn't be talking about it if I did have something rotten in mind, would I?”
     “No... I guess not,” she said.
     “I am going to tell you something Benedict should have told you long ago,” I said. “Never trust a relative. It is far worse than trusting strangers. With a stranger there is a possibility that you might be safe.”
     “You really mean that, don't you?”
     “Yourself included?”
     I smiled. “Of course it does not apply to me. I am the soul of honor, kindness, mercy, and goodness. Trust me in all things.”

     [Roger Zelazny. The Guns Of Avalon]

     The above, from one of Zelazny’s justly famous Amber novels, nicely captures the internecine quarrels of the royal family of that realm. Its ruler, Oberon, has gone missing and is presumed dead. Every one of his sons and daughters wants the crown. Every one of them is willing to murder all the others to get it. For any one of them to trust any other would be an act of insanity – and therefore, trust among them is nonexistent. That’s the perspective from which Corwin, one of Amber’s princes and the narrator in the above, is speaking to his niece Dara, whom he’s only just met.

     The absence of trust makes room for the operation of other qualities that trust can – and sometimes does – obscure. One of them is dispassionate analysis.

     As long as I’m in a quoting mood, here’s another:

     "Excuse me, Miss," Stromberg's voice boomed out. Teresza jerked her head around to find the sociologist and most of the class staring straight at her. "Yes, you who're holding Mr. Morelon's hand in a grip of steel." A titter ran through the hall. Teresza flushed. "Do you have an opinion on the subject?"
     "Uh, no, Professor." Teresza rose and gathered her thoughts as best she could. "I was just surprised to hear that they had all that junk."
     Stromberg smiled broadly. "Everyone is, Miss...?"
     "Well, you may take my word for it, Miss. In 2061, thirty-four percent of the economy of the richest sector, which was called the United States, was devoted to entertainment and diversions. As a category, that outstripped the second largest sector, medical services, by more than two to one. If our histories are accurate, its products were consumed with an unbelievable avidity, and its customers were perpetually hungry for more." He leaned forward over his lectern and peered hard at her. "Would you care to venture an opinion as to why they wanted so many frivolities and distractions?"
     Two hundred pairs of eyes pressed against her as she groped for a response. She squeezed Armand's hand and tried to think.
     The household she and her father kept was simple and modest. They had all they needed and a handful of minor luxuries, but no one would have thought their lifestyle lavish. Yet she couldn't think of anyone she knew whose surroundings were substantially more opulent. Not even the Morelons, whose wealth would have sufficed to buy the Gallatin campus ten or twenty times over.
     But why would anyone want to be surrounded by all that junk in the first place?
     "Professor," she said slowly, "I can't help asking the question the other way around. We could have all that stuff if we wanted it, couldn't we?"
     Stromberg grinned suggestively. "Indeed we could, Miss."
     "So why don't we?"

     Teresza’s question is the question of the day. Indeed, it’s the question of our nation and our era. And apparently the answer to it, though in plain sight, is being ignored or overlooked by some very bright and articulate people.

     The second citation above concerns the colony world of Hope, which is utterly without governments of any description. Thus, it lacks the overheads subjugation by a government imposes: laws, regulations, armies, police forces, other agents and agencies, and the taxes required to support them. The absence of those overheads has allowed the colonists to advance from pretechnological subsistence to roughly the technological-economic status of the United States in 1960 in only twelve hundred years – and that despite an ecology that’s lethally hostile to Earth-derived life. The colonists, descendants of a group of anarchist exiles who called themselves Spoonerites, like their ungoverned status just fine. Hope society emerged as family-oriented.

     That was also American society in 1960. While certain technologies were still maturing in 1960, all the elements were present to give swift rise to every one of the fripperies of today. Yet there was no pressure for those things. Rather, American adults concentrated on making a living, maintaining peaceful and orderly households and communities, and producing and raising their children.

     America’s markets in 1960 were appreciably freer than they are today. The six decades since have seen an explosion of coercive laws and regulations, nearly always under the overt rationale of “protecting the consumer.” The emergence of virtually all the luxury consumer-non-durable goods of today followed the imposition of all those laws and regulations, and – of course – the explosion in taxation that accompanied them.

     The federal government soon discovered that taxation was not enough to fund its new voracity. The Laffer Effect defeated rates above a certain revenue-optimum level. The sole alternative was to borrow. The Federal Reserve system guaranteed that large-scale federal borrowing would result in inflation.

     The accelerating rise in the cost of living compelled Americans to embrace the two-income family. For many, overtime labor became the way of survival. The repercussions were not long in coming. The reduction in the amount of time and energy that went to family and community matters was felt almost immediately. Children needed something to substitute for the attention of their parents, and parents needed something to distract their children from their parents’ obsessive concern with expenses, debt, and their futures.

     The proliferation of consumer fripperies was a response to these things, not the cause of them.

     Some very smart people, quite as concerned with the deterioration of our families and neighborhoods as I, have assailed our markets as “too efficient.” The late Robert Nisbet, a towering intellect, once wrote that “our markets may be too efficient for life on a human scale.” I have no doubt that he was sincere. Nevertheless, the correlation between the explosion in luxury consumer non-durables fooled him as it has fooled others.

     You’ll see a lot of opinion writing that echoes Nisbet these days. Most of it is by self-described conservatives. Here’s a recent sample. Yet there’s nothing conservative about measures that enable the advancement of government power and intrusion. Objections to the freely chosen behavior of Americans in the American marketplace can only empower the statists among us. Rather, we should be looking at reducing the size and intrusiveness of our 88,000 governments – federal, state, county, municipal, and school district – back to pre-World War I levels.

     Would that guarantee a return to the family-oriented society of those years? No, it would not. There are no guarantees in sociodynamics. But it would remove the propellants that powered our flight from it. Moreover, it would restore a great part of the freedom Americans once enjoyed: an autonomy untroubled by fears of not being able to meet present or future bills. It would reinstitute conditions in which Americans’ paramount attention could go to things close to home, rather than to a rat race toward a potentially illusory security.

     I’ll let Professor Arne Stromberg, holder of the Edmond Genet Chair in Sociology at Gallatin University, the foremost center of higher learning on Alta, the northern continent of Hope, close this tirade:

     “Families are the fundamental building blocks of a stable society. Extended families—clans—are the best conceivable environment for the rearing of children, the perpetuation of a commercial forte, and the germination of new families and their ventures. A clan like yours, Miss Albermayer, conserves a brilliant genetic line and a priceless medical specialty at the same time. A clan like yours, Mr. Morelon, makes possible a benign agricultural empire and produces natural leaders one after another while connecting Hope to its most distant origins. And all healthy families, which cherish life and bind their members to one another in unembarrassed love, can find far more to occupy and amuse them than they need."
     Teresza's mind lit with memories of the way the Morelons had enfolded her and made her one of them. No day could have been long enough for all they had to say and do and share with one another.
     "When Earth's regard for families and their most fundamental function deteriorated, her people ceased to enjoy the sorts of ties that had held them together throughout the history of Man. Without families, and especially without children, they groped for other things to fill their time, whether to give them a sense of purpose, or to distract them from the waning of their lives. Some invested themselves in industry or commerce, but without the sense of the family line to be built up and made prominent, those things failed to satisfy. Others immersed themselves in games, toys, fripperies, and increasingly bizarre forms of entertainment, which palled on them even faster. Still others made a fetish out of sex; there was a substantial sex industry on Earth, though it tended to operate in the shadows and was seldom openly discussed. They needed emotion and substance, but all they could contrive was sensation and novelty, and they pumped an ever greater share of their effort and wealth into seeking them. That's my thesis, for what it's worth."
     The hall was silent. Teresza peered furtively at the faces of the students nearest her. The majority of them were wet with tears.
     "For us," Stromberg said, "it's enough that we're happy, secure, and free. We don't really need to know definitively why our statist forebears traveled a path so different from our own. But it's among the great mysteries of social science, and worth thinking about from time to time even in isolation."

     Indeed it is.

Another Instapundit Link

It's been happening over the last year or so. Of course, an Instalaunche is not what it used to be, but - I'll take the referrals gladly.

The real issue is:

Will this keep China from invading Hong Kong? Will this cause ordinary Chinese citizens to begin resisting the Chinese authority over every facet of life?

Will this, in fact, become the Chinese Solidarity Movement?

The chances improve if Americans, who have been propping up the Chinese economy with their voracious consumption of inexpensive imported products, act to put pressure on the Chinese government to stand down from their invasion prep.

Go read the original post.

And take action.

Quickies: The Best Policy Is Always To Go To The Source...

     ...and David L. Burkhead does so today:

     People talk about being “against fascists.” There are some problems with that, however. As the founder of Fascism, Benito Mussolini said about the movement:

     “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

     Please read it all.

     Mussolini coined the word fascism from the Latin fasces, a bundle of wooden rods Roman slaveowners used to flog disobedient slaves. Fascism is about naked force: “the power of the Rods and the Axe,” used to coerce submission from those who would prefer to go their own way. That force, when placed in the hands of the State and allowed to reign unbounded over all other things, is the defining characteristic of the totalitarian state, whether it calls itself the Third Reich, the Soviet Union, a People’s Republic, or the World Stronghold of Barbies and Peeps.

     “AntiFa” isn’t fighting against fascism. It’s fighting for it.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Quickies: “Dangerous Worlds”

     Among my favorite passages in C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, this one is at the top:

     This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy's motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

     The speaker in the above is Screwtape, a devil high (low?) in Satan’s service. I had occasion to revisit that passage today, and it struck me as I contemplated it that it explains the perennial popularity of adventure fiction of all kinds and genres. Contemporary America is remarkably safe. The typical American’s likelihood of incurring real danger in his daily business is very small. And there are institutions and individuals who labor to keep it that way, and to make it even safer if possible.

     Adventure fiction, whether it’s a thriller set in something approximating the real world or an item of fantasy, horror, or science fiction, allows us to “visit” a dangerous realm where, as Lewis says above, moral issues really matter. There’s no disguising right and wrong, nor can one confuse them with one another, when life and limb are on the line, whether it’s the protagonist’s own well-being, that of his loved one(s), or that of an ideal the protagonist has pledged himself to uphold.

     No doubt you’ve seen this before:

Hard times create hard men.
Hard men create good times.
Good times create soft men.
Soft men create hard times.

     We’re somewhere between the late third and the early fourth phases of that cycle today. I think most of us are aware of it. Yet rare is the man, whatever his convictions, who would elect a greater degree of danger for himself or those he loves. He’d much rather enjoy such a realm vicariously, in fiction of his preferred genre.

     Food for thought.

And, Finally the Fog Lifts!

I had been struggling for most of the last year with mental fogginess and lack of energy/ambition. Not at all like me.

I was reading last week that Singular has been associated with Alzheimer's; Sarah Hoyt said that she'd been struggling with the same symptoms I had, and she'd eliminated the med.

I've been off for 4 days - what a difference! I whizzed through a load of tasks that had been hanging around for the better part of a month in just a few hours. I'd been working on the certification for insurance products, and just barely passing the tests, after several tries.

Today, first time scores of 96-100% - same type of tests.

I'm beginning to wonder just how much of elder senility and "senior moments" is due to such drug side effects. Yeah, I realize that, sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet in the short term, and accept unpleasant consequences, if it keeps you alive and healthy.

But, still. 4 freaking days, and it's like I'm myself again!

And, now, for a Disaster in Process - but, not really.

A bride and groom were just about to cut into their cake, when the table collapsed. Now, for some women, this would have been an occasion for screaming, crying, and histrionic emoting for social media.

Not this girl - she recovered nicely, and laughed off the mishap.

Now, that's a woman with a sense of proportion! I predict a long and happy marriage for this couple - she is clearly mature and sensible.

Quickies: Laughter Is The Best Tactic

     A few Gentle Readers have made note of the new “Monopoly: Socialism” game Hasbro has introduced as a parody of the original. It does look wildly funny, especially as Hasbro has accurately caught the essence of both socialism and the socialist promoter. But what a lot of younger folks don’t realize is that this isn’t the first of its kind.

     The first “socialism game” was meant seriously.

     Some years ago there was a university professor named Bertell Ollman. Ollman was a socialist. He sought tirelessly for ways to promote the socialist ideology...and eventually happened upon the idea of representing it in a game. He designed a game board and some rules, persuaded some like-minded friends to try it out with him, and decided to give it a go in the marketplace. He titled it “Class Struggle,” borrowed heavily to produce and distribute it, and sent it forth.

     “Class Struggle,” to put it gently, didn’t find many takers. It lost Ollman a lot of money. But he did write a book about his experiences: a moderately funny book, in its wrongheaded way. You can still get it at Amazon, if you’re interested.

     There are socialists who can have failure take them by their ideology’s throat and half-strangle them, and still never give it up. There are socialists who’ll claim that the failures of socialism throughout history “weren’t real socialism.” And there are socialists who’ll blame every failure of a socialist program on “enemies” determined to “sabotage” their noble ideal.

     Hasbro has the right idea: Make fun of them. And note: the Left is completely humorless. Thus, they regard any jape at them as a lethal attack, which reinforces the public’s perception of them as humorless scolds who merely want to control all our lives.

     “The devil...the prowde spirit...cannot endure to be mocked.” – Saint Thomas More

Elitism, 21st Century Style

     Somewhere in my vast humor files, I have an old New Yorker cartoon of two obvious Christian clerics walking down a city street. One is speaking to the other; the other is plainly displeased by what he’s hearing. The caption:

     “When will you admit it, Perkins? I am holier than thou.”

     I got a big laugh out of it, back when. Today it’s practically a schematic for the behavior of the luminaries of the Left.

     My Gentle Readers have all encountered the term virtue signaling by now. Its meaning is pretty plain; no need to go into a painfully detailed exposition on it. The subject I have in mind this fine rainy morning is competitive virtue signaling: the new indoor sport by which left-wing politicians and mouthpieces who seek prominence among their admirers – some in the quest for high office, others hoping for a billet at the New York Times — strive to outdo one another.

     Competitive virtue signaling is inherently as lucid as its base phrase: Smith seeks to persuade listeners that he’s “holier” than Jones and Davis. The applications of the tactics available are circumscribed by the issues the left-inclined regard as “America’s sins.” Perennially popular venues include “slavery,” “racism,” “inequality,” “the environment,” and “colonialism.”

     The thinking, if that notion be applicable to such activities, is that he who castigates America and Americans most severely for these things will stand out from the field. He’ll become a “leader” to those who subscribe to the Left’s gospel. His statements will be amplified by his perceived virtue, hopefully to his elevation.

     It’s clear that this sort of competition is zero-sum at best. It’s just as clear that the “issues” constitute a constrained field in which to exercise one’s powers of condemnation and promised redress. People eventually feel they’ve “heard enough” about issue X. Sometimes they begin to wonder whether they’re the targets of Smith’s rhetoric. They want something any rate, something else.

     As always, innovation is driven by imaginative and energetic persons dissatisfied with the status quo.

     For Smith to rise in the Left’s elite requires that he out-virtue-signal others who seek the adulation of the masses. But once the current “conceptual domain” for virtue signaling is saturated, what’s he to do? He can’t rant any more intensely about the existing subjects than his competitors. Neither can he innovate within the domain. What now?

     The answer, of course, is to expand the domain: i.e., to broaden the conceptual arena for virtue-signaling by adding new “issues” about which to rant. Several have been added in recent years:

  • “Environmental racism”
  • “Trans acceptance”
  • “Food justice”
  • “Hate speech”
  • “Triggerings”

     Those are the ones that come to mind as I write. There are others. If Smith manages to introduce a new subject to the virtue-signaling domain, he will naturally be the first to plumb its possibilities. His competitors will race to catch up. When they have done so, it will be time to find a new subject that will support further proclamations of America’s crimes and the Left’s moral superiority.

     If this progression has a hard terminus, beyond which further expansion of the virtue-signaling domain is impossible, I’m unable to find it.

     The competition for elite status on the Left doesn’t have an exact equivalent on the Right. The closest we come at this time is among the “NeverTrumpers:” “conservative” commentators who refuse to accept Donald Trump as the legitimate president despite his having been elected to the post. These compete with one another in finding ever more rarefied ways to criticize President Trump on his style and manner. Their conceptual domain is very difficult to expand, especially as President Trump is compiling a remarkable record of success at the very things the NeverTrumpers have claimed to advocate but have never delivered.

     The NeverTrumpers are steadily being squeezed out of the political space they once dominated: the Right-leaning opinion-editorial press. But what else would we have expected, given that Trump’s successes are multiplying, his popularity is rising among all demographic cohorts, and the nation’s overall metrics of prosperity and security are steadily strengthening? If there’s even a possibility of expanding the NeverTrump conceptual domain, I can’t see it...and apparently neither can the NeverTrumpers.

     Kurt Schlichter has a good column today on the falsity of our “elite.” That falsity is revealed most dramatically by the “elite’s” inability ever to deliver on what it claims it advocates:

     What have they ever solved? Hell, they created most of these problems in the first place. They whine about student loans, but who set up the college cash machine that is American academia? Our medical system is a wreck? Dudes, our medical system is Obamacare, and you’re the ones who stuffed it down our gullets!

     In what way has our garbage elite proven itself capable of doing anything right, much less overseeing our doctors, protecting our newly-disarmed citizenry and controlling the weather? In no way – which is why they hate accountability, and why the elite’s lapdog media is entirely unconcerned with the elite’s constant screw-ups and utterly focused on the invented flaws of those of us who refuse to be serfs of incompetent elitist twerps.

     Shall we have a big “of course?” Anyone who’s paid enough attention these past few decades knows the truth of Schlichter’s observations. A nation whose “elite” has taken it from putting men on the Moon to putting men in women’s lavatories has no substantive claim to its status. But the virtue signaling has continued nonstop...and it will continue onward, as long as there are persons who pay more attention to rhetoric and style than to substance and performance.

     Ignore what the virtue-signalers say. Watch what they do. It’s often good for a laugh, if nothing else.