Monday, September 30, 2019

The Two Towers

No, not the Twin Towers. Tolkien's story.

For me, this was the hardest part of the trilogy. I'm a big fan of the genre, but I always lean towards those stories that have a simple arc:

  • The Good Guys get into trouble/get attacked
  • They get their butts kicked, good
  • After a time to re-group, they re-attack, and, this time, they defeat the enemy
Short, simple, and - usually - in one film.

Not three. With the middle one being so filled with despair, defeat, and slogging through a fetid, swampy mess, that the audience/reader begins to lose heart.

In fact, not fiction or movies, much like life itself. Too often, Real Life is short on victories, and long on setbacks, betrayal, and despair. All that is why Family, Community, and God are so important. Like Frodo, we need those other souls to lift us up when Life slams us into the muck. When our friends desert us, seem not to have our back, and get fed up with our whining and complaining.

That's real life - often disappointing, seldom providing opportunities to survey the field of our vanquished enemies.

We're in the Middle part of this story. Huge Orcs, dragons, and other assorted enemies have been unleashed by the Enemy (THEY consider themselves our enemy - it's a self-assigned designation).

They have - once again, with the eager help of our pseudo-friends - assembled the troops, handed out the plans for the assault, and prepared to besiege the castle. This time, they have left behind little lizards who have planted traps for the inhabitants, seeded their lies into the records, and enticed their boss to utter the Cursed Words. Those words will, if spoken by the leader, magically send him straight to a very deep dungeon, unable to escape the chains by which he is held.

Despite the blandishments to just SAY the Words, the leader has resisted. Some say it's because he's aware of the attempted trap. Others say it's because his speech is entangled and muddled.

Who knows? It could be either, or both.

In any case, the Evil Opposition is furious about the failure to entrap him. They have resorted to bypassing the legalities, and heading straight to conviction.

OK, that's not TECHNICALLY correct. But she expects to vote on impeachment before the end of the month. She's scheduled the primary accuser (I can't call him a witness, because he didn't witness anything) to have finished his statements and questioning within ONE WEEK.

There are cases in traffic court that take longer.

Why the rush?

Well, if you're a regular reader of this blog or those of other Guys in Pajamas, you know the answer:
She's afraid that if this goes on longer, the truth will come out.
What truth?

Biden and most of the Democratic leadership are hip-deep in Corruption, Lies, Personal Enrichment Through Shady Means, Cronyism, and - yes - some actual CRIMES.

Due Process for Trump is being trashed, he is being accused by someone who has no direct knowledge of the call, and he is being denied the right to confront his actual accusers - which would also give him a chance to question their own background and biases.

This is That Time. The time when every patriot needs to respond - LOUD and CLEARLY - that we will NOT accept a sham prosecution that is designed to stop honest investigation of crimes committed by politicians.

Reach any politician within your scope of influence - those whose district is within a 3-hour drive of your home - and let them know they WILL:

  • With your help - both money and time - lose the next election
  • If they DO lose, the leadership will be too busy trying to keep out themselves out of jail to help THEM do the same
  • Not look good in the history books - this Rush to Judgement looks bad - VERY bad
  • Have Pi$$ed off one guy who is NOT noted for saintly forgiveness - who is likely to beat the conviction rap - and will be emboldened to strike back, twice as hard
Contact points:

Go in the search bar to find your Representative (for those who aren't sure). 
  • Phone until the lines are hopelessly clogged. 
  • Use the email address to compose a note from YOUR email address (I don't trust any communications to NOT disappear that is controlled by Dems).
  • Fax - yes, I know you don't have a machine - but you can use an Internet Fax - absolutely FREE! Don't forget to Confirm the Fax by clicking on the link they send to your email.
Don't forget to contact your Senators - particularly if they are Democrats, or squishy RINOs (but, I repeat myself).

Give them the same message.

This started out to be a quasi-religious reflection on current times. It got shifted when I woke up to the 'news'.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Or What?

     Yesterday, David L. Burkhead addressed one of the most contentious subjects in speculative fiction: whether there is any clear distinction between science fiction and fantasy, or whether those terms are largely a matter of opinion:

     Some folk have given long, involved definitions about when something is Science Fiction and when it’s Fantasy. Me? I like one similar to Orson Scott Card’s from one of his writing books. Science Fiction has rivets and engineers. Fantasy has trees and elves.

     It’s a good piece, if you’re interested in such arguments (which I am). As I write tales that have been called by either term and was feeling intellectually frisky, I decided to take it up with him. We’ll never come to any conclusions, but the discussion itself is the sort that stretches the mind, even a rigidified old boulder like mine. And just a few minutes ago, it occurred to me that the border between F and SF, even if one can argue cogently for its existence, moves with time and technology.

     For example, David, who believes the terms to be expressions of opinion rather than objective meaning, noted this:

     Psychic powers on one hand and the genius who understands things that are impenetrable to other are both well establish SF tropes, as is the alien who can do things that humans cannot.

     Psi powers, which I’ve employed myself in a tale that’s generally regarded as science fiction, are an interesting case. At this time, they’re definitely fantastic; the brain, being a direct-current organ, cannot muster the power required to transmit a perceptible signal beyond the confines of the skull. But we’re learning how to interface the brain with devices of all kinds. It might well be the case that someday, an implantable device will make “telepathy” possible. It might not resemble “traditional” telepathy. Indeed, it might be confined to the transmission of Morse code. But head-to-head communications of a sort that resembles telepathy would then be a matter of technology rather than fancy.

     Consider also the case of “elves.” Now, Tolkien’s elves – potentially immortal beings with magical powers – might be a stretch, but as we get more capable with genetic engineering, beings that physically resemble the “traditional” elf might enter the realm of possibility. A great deal would be required, including the ability to create a very unusual zygote that would survive full-term gestation. Nevertheless, the possibility is difficult to dismiss.

     If we venture a century or so into the past, we can find cases of the dividing line having moved since then. Consider Jules Verne’s early tale From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon. Both were deemed fantasies when they appeared. There was no technology capable of propelling living human beings to the moon; Wells’s “Cavorite” and Verne’s giant cannon capable of propelling a vessel to the moon were plainly fantastic. The same is true for Edward Weston’s solar-radiation-powered interplanetary vessel in C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.

     But technological development since then has allowed men to reach the moon, albeit at great expense, with great difficulty, and at great danger. The line has moved to make interplanetary travel scientifically plausible. Whether it will move further, such that casual travel among the planets – say, for a weekend jaunt by a couple weary of “city life” – no one can say at this time. As for interstellar travel, let’s just say I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime, and I doubt you will either.

     When the late Poul Anderson, a highly accomplished writer of both fantasy and science fiction, addressed this subject some forty years ago, he took a position similar to mine here, except that he omitted to consider the possibility of technological developments unimagined at that time. Anderson was regarded as the foremost practitioner of “hard” science fiction – another fuzzy term – before the ascendancy of Larry Niven. His novel Tau Zero, which was shortlisted for the Hugo Award (and lost, albeit narrowly, to Niven’s Ringworld) was a valiant attempt to write a completely plausible tale of an interstellar journey gone really badly wrong. (I shan’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read it.) He came very close...painfully close. But he had to postulate zero-loss recycling to do it, a blatant violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. So even the greats have to fudge a little. (Ask Alastair Reynolds about his “Conjoiner drives” someday.)

     As I said, conclusions are difficult to reach, and could well change with time. But it does keep the brain from petrifying completely. Meanwhile, I’ve got this fantasy novel on the anvil that’s been giving me absolute fits. As a former physicist I have a really hard time with anything involving magic, so I’ve been toying with the idea that the utility of sorcery is merely a matter of very small changes to a couple of fundamental physical constants that divide our “real” universe from the one where my tale is set. Eventually, of course, we learn how to alter those constants within a defined region, and...oh, never mind.

     (Cross-posted at my fiction-promotion site.)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Ultimates And Implications

     Gather ‘round, Gentle Readers, and I shall tell you a thing. You’re not going to like it, but gather ‘round anyway. You need to hear it, and anyway, this is what I do. I do it in large measure for you. No, no need to applaud.

     There are people trying their level best to enslave or kill you. They’re at it every day. They want nothing less than your complete, abject subjugation. Failing that, they’ll accept your death. But nothing else will satisfy them.

     Many of those people call themselves Americans. They’re not, but that’s what they call themselves.

     Some of them are politicians filled with a lust for power:

     Some of them are activist zealots who think nothing of abusing children for their purposes:

     Some of them call themselves journalists:

     Some of them are your neighbors. They might even be your friends and relatives:

     In the Church of the Woke, on the other hand, there is no forgiveness. If you screw up - at least according to this church's dictates - that's it. Your life is forfeit no matter how inconsequential the sin may be, how long ago that sin was committed, or what good you may have done in the meantime. You can - oh, I don't know - raise a million dollars for charity and yet still be damned for all time for something stupid you said years ago. Hell, not even your childhood can escape this scrutiny -- because apparently, the Church of the Woke has decided to throw decades of developmental psychology out the damn window for the sake of its fevered utopian dreams. [From The Right Geek]

     And what unites them all are these two things:

  • They hate you.
  • They want to enslave or exterminate you.

     The irreplaceable Chris Muir has fingered one of the loci of this madness: the feminization of American law, society, and culture:

     That’s a big part of it. Moreover, feminization paved a road for another avenue of attack on us: the infantilization of our politics, as exemplified by the Thunberg and Hogg phenomena cited above.

     (There’s a considerable emotional resemblance between Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wouldn’t you say?)

     Women in civilized societies don’t behave the way the harridans of today behave. But then, ours is a society that tells women who elect to be homemakers and mothers that they’re “wasting their lives.” It encourages children to experiment with homosexuality. It encourages them to believe that they were “born the wrong sex”...and permits their mothers to convince them of it, especially if they have penises. Indeed, ours is a society in which it’s legal, de facto at least, to kill fully-born infants. Any who dare to decry these things openly are condemned as “bigoted” and “intolerant.” If those don’t disqualify us for “civilized” status, I can’t imagine what would do it.

     What does it mean, in aggregate? Doesn’t it constitute a denial of reality itself? Isn’t it a proclamation that there are no absolute facts, no truths upon which agreement is necessary and desirable? Doesn’t it elevate hatred to a virtue? Doesn’t it put Man – well, some men, at least – on the Throne of God?

     If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.

     Have a few words from a piece by Sarah Hoyt on the Carson King / Aaron Calvin horror:

     [H]ere is what happened:
     Carson King, 24, raised over $1 million after holding up a sign during ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Sept. 14 in Iowa. The sign asked for Venmo donations for his “Busch Light Supply.” King donated the funds, which were matched by Venmo and Busch Light, to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

     Okay, let’s pause here and admit several things:

     We have no idea what this kid’s political affiliation was/is. Heck, I don’t know if anyone knows, yet.

     He was running for no office, asking for no charity, not doing anything that required us to know about his character in any depth.

     What we know about him is that he’s a college student who (probably as a joke) asked for beer money and got way more money than anyone could expect.

     Which is when he did something I — personally — couldn’t do. Look, guys, if someone gave me 1 million, I’d pay off some of the kids’ loans (we only paid half their undergrad tuition each, plus living expenses/supplementary expenses) And depending on how much was left after taxes, pay down our mortgage or get us cars younger than 25 years.

     I don’t think I’d have the courage/fortitude to donate it all to a children’s hospital.

     The other thing I THINK I can say for sure is that despite the culture war we do all still agree that sick kids deserve treatment, right? We do still all agree on that, right?

     So, this kid, whoever and whatever he was, was a hero and almost a saint in a way most of us couldn’t do: being a young man, with his life to establish, he didn’t say “I’ll start a business” or “I’ll buy a house” or even “I’ll have the biggest party.” No. He said, “You know what I wouldn’t have this money normally. Let’s do some good with it.”

     So this is the part that made me go “In heaven’s name why?”

     Des Moines Register reporter Aaron Calvin reported on two tweets written by King when he was 16 while compiling information for a profile on him, published Tuesday. The tweets were brought to King’s attention, and he apologized before the Register published the profile, including the unsavory comments.

     The kid isn’t running for anything, guys. He’s not selling the public anything. He’s just a private citizen going about his private business. Who would go digging through is twitter feed to find SOME dirt from when he was too young to have a filter? WHO IN HECK EVEN THINKS of doing that?

     Only someone consumed by envy, Sarah. Nothing else could power such an infamy. Envy is inseparable from hatred: specifically, hatred of the good for being good and for no other reason.

     Aaron Calvin is a creature fueled by hatred. Carson King did a hugely meritorious thing. He came to the attention of the Des Moines Register, which put Calvin’s spleen into overdrive. Calvin could see that King is a better man than he could ever be, so he had to “act.” He had to destroy that which he knows he could never be.

     But should you ask Aaron Calvin whether he considers himself to be a good person, I have no doubt he’d answer in the affirmative. He’d say his firing was “unjust.” He’d tell you he was “just doing his job.”

     And no doubt some other outlet will hire him to do more of it.

     In his classic story “Slow Sculpture,” the late Theodore Sturgeon presented a character with a special gift: the gift of “asking the next question.” After some series of developments appears to have settled, what is the next question to be asked – and answered? Sturgeon’s character applies a powerful intellect to both raising and answering those questions.

     A series of developments, some of them germinated from seeds planted long ago, has matured to full and undisguised ugliness in the United States. A significant fraction of “our” people, some in positions of power or widely influential occupations, is striving to enslave or destroy us. They display no inclination to stop voluntarily. There appears to be no price that would “buy them off” for even an instant.

     Herewith, my take on the “next question:”

What are we going to do about it, and when?

Saturday, September 28, 2019

New Post at The Declination


If you put it on Twitter, use the hashtags #Coup2020 and #BitterOldBroads

Motivations, Strategies, And Politics

     A few informal definitions of important motivational states to lead off what’s likely to become a rather...impassioned column:

  1. Charity: When you actively desire that another should do well, irrespective of the effect on you.
  2. Indifference: How another is doing is of no importance to you, apart from any effect on you it may have.
  3. Jealousy: When you regard another’s gains as properly yours and work to take them from him and secure them for yourself.
  4. Envy: When you actively desire that another come to harm even if that should mean that you, too, will come to harm.

     There are circumstances in ordinary life that will bring us into contact with each of these four states in other persons. Recognizing the other person’s controlling motive is critical to adopting the proper strategy for oneself. I’ve made use of this in my fiction:

     He reached for his wallet and drew out a dollar bill.
     “We’re going to play some games.” He held up the bill as if to study it. “One dollar equals one hundred cents. Let’s suppose we have an auctioneer here, who’s trying to sell this dollar bill, this particular one and not another. Let’s suppose that only you and I are here to bid. All bids must be multiples of five cents. How much do you bid?”
     She smirked. “Ninety-five cents.”
     He nodded. “Very good. Now explain.”
     “Any lower bid can be profitably topped. Any higher bid yields no profit.”
     His smile was subtle, but there was definite pleasure in it.
     “Doesn’t that imply a particular objective?”
     “Well, yes, but what other reason could there be to bid on a dollar bill?”
     “Think hard, Christine. Give me three.”
     She pondered.
     Now I know where Louis got his style from. So acquiring a dollar’s not the objective. What, then?
     “It’s a collector’s item, so it’s worth more than a dollar.”
     “Good. Another.”
     “There’s a code written on it that would allow me to open a safe full of money, or diamonds, or something.”
     “Very good. One more.”
     She thought hard.
     “My objective is not to gain something for myself, but to deny it to you. And if you get hold of that dollar bill, I won’t be able to stop you.”
     His face went slack, and she wondered if she’d said something foolish. He stepped to her side, bowed, and proffered her the bill with a slight flourish.
     “You take this home,” he whispered, “and have it mounted in a fancy frame, and put it on your wall, some place where you’ll see it every day. Louis chose well.” There was a hint of exasperation in his voice. “Even in this, he has surpassed me.”
     She hesitated, then took it from him. Even with his stony face, there was no concealing his pleasure.
     “You’re already a fighter. You will be a warrior.”

     The core art of strategic planning is determining your opponent’s motives. Since he’s unlikely to email them to you, you must deduce them from his moves – his tactics. Tactics reveal objectives. Over time, objectives reveal motives.

     Take hold of the panic handle and hold on tight, Gentle Reader; I’m about to execute a series of sharp turns.

     Introductory game theory classifies the possible outcomes of two-player games into three types:

  1. Positive-sum: Outcomes in which both players profit.
  2. Zero-sum: What one gains, the other must lose, but no more than that.
  3. Negative-sum: Both players must lose.

     If we regard the decision to play a particular game as voluntary, what sort of motive is consistent with each of the above outcome types? No, I’m not going to answer that question for you. It’s not hard; think about it.

     But what if playing the game is involuntary, a consequence of a compulsion the player cannot resist? What’s the most important item of information he can possibly acquire?

     Exactly: his opponent’s motives:

     “Of all the musts and must-nots of warfare, this one is paramount: you must conceal your motives. Unless he is insignificant in comparison to you, once your opponent knows your motives, he’ll be able to defeat you. He’ll probably even have a choice of ways to do it.
     “You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent’s motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict. Of course, he could try to do the same to you.”
     “What’s the countermeasure?”
     “Constancy. Refusal to let yourself be diverted. Of course, that can be a trap, too. Motive is partly determined by objectives. If your adversary’s situation changes but his objectives remain the same, he could find himself committed to paying an exorbitant price for something that’s become worthless.”
     “And that’s the time to stop playing with his head?”
     His grin was ice-cold. “You have a gift.”

     Your opponent’s motives – what he wants to do to you and what he’s willing to “spend” to do it – will determine everything about his objectives, strategy, and tactics. The same is true of your motives, so you’d bloody well better be sure you’re aware of them...sincerely.

     This acquires amplified force when his entry into the game is voluntary but yours is not.

     If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons, or any similar role-playing game, you’ll be familiar with the following four player types:

  • Rational moral: The player is consistent in his actions and adheres to moral constraints.
  • Rational amoral: The player is consistent in his actions but recognizes no moral constraints.
  • Chaotic moral: The player is unpredictable in his actions but adheres to moral constraints.
  • Chaotic amoral: The player is unpredictable in his actions and recognizes no moral constraints.

     Before a D&D session begins, each player is required to choose one of those four orientations, and to keep it to himself. If he’s sincere about it, it will condition his moves throughout the game. Of course, playing D&D is voluntary. (At least, I don’t know of any involuntary cases.) So the players usually keep their orientations in mind as they choose their moves in the game.

     However, understanding the orientations, and noting those of other “players,” can be of great value in a game one is compelled to play, as well. This is especially the case with regard to the power an economic outlook can have on a player without his knowing it. Such an outlook is best captured in the following plaint:

“Why is he doing this?
What can he possibly get out of it?”

     He who says this when studying his opponent’s moves has assumed rationality on the part of that opponent. That assumption has proved incorrect in a number of important historical cases.

     Unfortunately – and I mean that most sincerely – we’re all compelled to “play the political game” to some extent. That is, even he who chooses not to participate in political events will be affected by the moves of others in the political game. Whether or not Smith votes, the votes of others can affect Smith, whether he likes it or not. Moreover, in our current post-Constitutional milieu, the effect can be enormous.

     Politics is a game whose possible outcomes include positive-sum, zero-sum, and negative-sum combinations. At any given time, some “players” will be playing for gain and will be either benevolent or indifferent as regards the results that accrue to other “players.” But there will be players whose highest priority is to harm others. Some of them will be willing to accept harm to themselves as the price.

     Which of the D&D orientations would best describe a “player” whose top priority is to harm others, even at cost to himself? He might be rational, but is it even thinkable that he consider himself moral?

     Now recur to the opening segment of this tirade. Which of the motivational categories would apply to such a “player?” We can immediately strike charity and indifference from consideration. Jealousy would require that the “player” be avid for gain. What’s left?

     That politics is a multimillion-player game doesn’t much alter the motivational calculus, does it?

     We’re about fifteen hundred words from where we started. I hope you regard the trip as worthwhile. Perhaps by now you have a sense for what I’ve been contemplating. The current political scenario – specifically, the behavior of Democrats in either house of Congress – invites inquiry into their orientations and their motivations. All of them are in politics voluntarily. We who are affected by their antics are not.

     The several gambits aimed at removing President Trump from his office have followed a clear pattern: find someone willing to lodge an accusation against him that implies that he’s illegitimately in the White House. Puff it up through their media handmaidens. Don’t worry about the validity of the accusation; just give it as much air time and as many column-inches as you can squeeze out of the friendly media. Should the accusation be debunked, as all of them have to date, pass on without acknowledging it. Find some new accuser / accusation and try again.

     Inasmuch as the accusations have become steadily weaker, and the accusers ever less credible, as the game has gone on – a series that converges on zero, so to speak – it is appropriate to question the rationality of the Democrats’ strategy. They’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting a change in the result! Didn’t someone say something clever about that sort of behavior?

     The matter becomes even cloudier when we add the consensus of intelligent onlookers that the Democrats’ latest sally – the drive to impeach Trump on the grounds of the laughably feeble Ukraine accusation – will seriously harm them come Election Day. The Democrats might not accept that assessment...but what if they do? What if they agree that their drive to impeach Trump has only a tiny chance of removing him from office but is likely to cost them the House of Representatives and additional seats in the Senate? What would that say about their motivation – whether or not any of them would ever admit it, even to himself?

     I dislike the thought that roughly half of the persons on Capitol Hill are of chaotic mentality and are consumed by envy. I’d imagine that my Gentle Readers would view it the same way. But it’s awfully hard to reach any other conclusion.

     “Presidential authority is confirmed for change of test procedure. Dummy warheads will be replaced by a W-80 thermonuclear device. Have a nice day.” – Never Say Never Again

     Yes, by all means do have a nice day.

Friday, September 27, 2019

MAC - Mutually Assured Cancellation - UPDATE

Here's the tweet and thread link. Read it soon - I'm never confident that good Tweets won't be "disappeared".

UPDATE: Just found this, and want to know whether anyone else wants one? We could make it an unofficial uniform for The Deplorables.

Deadly Welfare

     Far too much fiction is becoming reality:

     He was with me for twelve days. On January 28th the ’crats came from the Bureau of Health, Education, and Welfare and said that since he was receiving Unemployment Compensation while suffering from an untreated illness, the government must look after him and restore him to health, because health is the inalienable right of the citizens of a democracy. He refused to sign the consent forms, so the chief health officer signed them. He refused to get up, so two of the policemen pulled him up off the bed. He started to try to fight them. The chief health officer pulled his gun and said that if he continued to struggle he would shoot him for resisting welfare, and arrest me for conspiracy to defraud the government. The man who was holding my arms behind my back said they could always arrest me for unreported pregnancy with intent to form a nuclear family. At that, Simon stopped trying to get free. It was really all he was trying to do, not to fight them, just to get his arms free. He looked at me, and they took him out.

     He is in the federal hospital in Salem. I have not been able to find out whether he is in the regular hospital or the mental wards.

     [Ursula Le Guin, “The New Atlantis”]

     Simon, the character being detained and carted away in the above snippet, has been deemed mentally ill by the government...for disagreeing with the government. While the story overall is a maximally fanciful anti-American fairy tale, sort of a bedtime story for anarcho-communists, the conclusion cited above should scare the shorts off anyone – because it’s starting to happen here and now, in the Land of the Formerly Free.

     I’ve never attributed a general-purpose gift of prescience to anyone. Yet the story above is eerily relevant to more than one recent event:

     Gay Plack, a 57-year-old Virginia woman with bipolar disorder, was killed after two police officers—sent to do a welfare check on her— entered her home uninvited, wandered through the house shouting her name, kicked open her locked bedroom door, discovered the terrified woman hiding in a dark bathroom and wielding a small axe, and four seconds later, shot her in the stomach.

     Four seconds.

     That’s all the time it took for the two police officers assigned to check on Plack to decide to use lethal force against her (both cops opened fire on the woman), rather than using non-lethal options (one cop had a Taser, which he made no attempt to use) or attempting to de-escalate the situation.

     The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4 inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”

     This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury and executioner.

     This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.

     Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.

     Author John Whitehead provides many other examples of the ever more common “shoot first; the commander has our backs” philosophy among America’s police. In several cases Whitehead cites, the police were “performing a welfare check.” In others, the individual they gunned down was disabled in some fashion: retarded, deaf, schizophrenic, what have you.

     It’s quite a list.

     Sometimes commentary is unnecessary. The facts speak for themselves. Either the reader “gets it” or he’s numb between the earphones. I’d say this is such a case.

     Time was, the policeman was expected to put the well-being of private citizens – the putatively innocent ones, at least – above his own life. It might have been an impossible standard to enforce, but as an ideal it was laudable. Today, for the cop to go home safe at shift’s end is the highest priority. I can’t find it in me to applaud at that.

     But I have no idea what can be done about it. It’s the culmination of the institutional incentives at work: We’re armed, we’re the good guys, and we’ve got a dangerous job to do. Everybody else is at best an impediment to doing our jobs. Either they clear out of our way or we clear ‘em. If we get a little rough and word of it gets out, the commander will defend us. That’s his job.

     The frontier West sprouted vigilance committees over this sort of horror. What are we doing? Anything?

     Hang on to your guns. And do have a nice day.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Impeachment? Fuhgadaboutit

Why bother with the pretense of Due Process?

Let's go straight to sentencing and hanging.

My husband is an early-morning news watcher. It makes some sense; he can quickly find out the weather and traffic on those mornings when he has a job (he's currently working as a sub teacher in local schools).

Consequently, I'm forced to hear a lot of fluff, stupid 'news' about the station's on-camera people's lives, and - as of today - a WHOLE lot of:
Trump has been found guilty by the Media
Endless re-hashing of the same old accusations - but, this time, with breathless excitement about the upcoming execution - er, um, I mean, impeachment.

 In 2018, Fox News reported that a majority of voters thought he should be impeached - oh, I'm sorry, it wasn't voters, it was an online poll. Which is JUST as good as voting IRL, so clearly we should dump that inconvenient physical presence thingy that is mandated by federal and state constitutions.

Maybe we could work it like The Masked Singer! Send your vote by text to 1-800-ImpeachNow to kick him out of office, after which the hangings will commence - on LIVE TV!

Right after these commercials from our sponsors, Ajax Hardware, which sold us the rope to hang the Traitor Trump!

BTW, that Fox poll mentioned above? Didn't ask if voters wanted Trump impeached. It reported that a slight majority was in favor of the Mueller hearings.

Impeachment is widely misunderstood by the public. They think it means that the one impeached has been found guilty.

It does not. It merely allows a sitting government official to have his case sent to the Senate, who can remove him from office. After that, he MIGHT be tried in a court - but, likely not. It's more common to just drop the whole thing.

Some of that is the fact that the legislature just wants a miscreant out of office. Some of that is that the 'case' against a president/other politician is a procedural thing. It doesn't matter whether the person is guilty or innocent, the process is a politically-influenced vote. Actual proof, even amounting to the level of minimal cause to indict, need not be present.

The ever-restrained, sober, and scrupulously impartial Hollywood has weighed in - the Leftist Elite are in favor of impeachment - right NOW!

Michael MooreFatOnHisBodyThanShamu wants a quick timeline - before Christmas. Maybe He can ask the Great Pumpkin?

Piper Perabo (who dat?) helpfully gives a link to help the process along. I'm SURE the stalwart, TOTALLY IMPARTIAL citizens that set up that app were just motivated by public spirit.

I kid, I kid. They want him in prison. BEFORE any court proceedings.

New Yorker is solidly on the side of impeachment, although, in their pontification on the subject, they let slip an accidental truth:
in 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House but remained in office after being acquitted in the Senate by a single vote. The nominal ground for impeachment involved his dismissal of a member of his Cabinet, but impeachment cases are always about the politics of the moment as much as the evidence before Congress.
And, Nadler (D-NY)?

He's already butted heads with Trump, and been quite vindictive about it.
Nadler’s district included the site of a Trump project, which was originally called Television City because the centerpiece would be a hundred-and-fifty-story building that would serve as a new headquarters for NBC. As a courtesy, Trump invited Nadler to his office in Trump Tower to show him the plans. “I thought it was grotesque,” Nadler recalled recently. Trump told Nadler that the tower would be residential above the first forty floors, and mentioned the Hancock Center, in Chicago, which is a hundred stories tall. “He says, ‘Do you know that the people on the top floors of the Hancock Center, before they go out in the morning, they call the concierge desk to ask what the weather is, because they’re above the clouds, they can’t really see it?’ I’m thinking, What a drag, but he’s getting excited about this,” Nadler said. Nadler asked whether Trump intended to live on the hundred-and-fiftieth floor of the new building, and Trump replied that he did. “And I realized what this was all about,” Nadler said. “He wanted to be the highest man in the world.”
The battle over Television City— later renamed Trump City and finally known as Riverside South—became a multi-decade epic, even after the hundred-and-fifty-story building was scrapped. (NBC decided to keep its headquarters at Rockefeller Center.) Nadler helped lead the opposition, and continued to do so after he was elected to Congress, in 1992. He made sure that Trump did not receive federal mortgage guarantees for the project, costing the developer millions, and he also stopped the removal of an elevated highway, which would have increased the value of Trump’s condominiums. Riverside South is now mostly completed, on a much diminished scale. Trump’s interest was sold in 2005. But the dynamic of Trump and Nadler’s relationship was set. In his book “The America We Deserve,” published in 2000, Trump called Nadler “one of the most egregious hacks in contemporary politics.”
Not exactly the temperament of an impartial judge.

Is it POSSIBLE that Nadler was retaliating against Trump for failing to support/come up with cash 'donations'? I really can't think of another reason for his over-the-top response to the project.

Small Beer For Your Thursday

     Apologies, Gentle Reader. As I spent most of yesterday on the phone to various physicians, legal representatives, assorted artisans, and Pascal, I haven’t worked up one of my usual, glitteringly brilliant, insight-packed screeds for today. And you know what that means!

1. Cancel Culture and the “Biter Bit” department.

     “No good deed goes unpunished,” the old saw runs. Apparently, there are...persons out there who’ve decided that punishing the charitable is their mission in life – if the charitable person at issue has ever engaged in wrongthink:

     It all started with a tweet that Anheuser-Busch was dropping out of their pledge with Carson King – if you remember from yesterday, he’s the Iowa State kid who held up the sign on Gameday with his Venmo tag asking for beer money, got flooded with donations, ended up with over a million bucks, and decided to donate it all to the Iowa children’s hospital....

     Aaron Calvin from the Des Moines Register, who initially reported the story for the paper, decided after the fact that he was going to take it upon himself as a journalist to dig into King’s social media history – and he “found something.”

     And guess what it was? A couple of “tweets” from seven years ago, in which King, then a 16-year-old high school student, quoted two “racist” wisecracks from semi-famous comedian Tosh.0. Horrifying! The mind reels! Ruin the boy’s life at once!

     But as Ace points out, people who live in tin houses shouldn’t throw can openers:

     People decided to perform a "routine social media background check" on this Soy Stasi agent Aaron Calvin, and guess what they found?

     Racial slur warning.

     What's this soy-white pasty-assed sissyboy doing using the word "n***a"?

     Oh, Aaron Calvin had quite a few racially or sexually sensitive tweets.

     This sort of “biter bit” tale warms the cockles of my spiny little heart. It makes me glad I’m an out-loud-and-proud racist. I recommend that stance to everyone. It saves one hell of a lot of backing, filling, and forelock tugging, when deployed as follows:

Attacker: You’re a racist!
FWP: I sure am. So what?

2. While We’re On The Subject...

     I’ve been saving this one for a few days:

     A Brooklyn mom, after her son surrendered to police for the savage stomping of a helpless pedestrian, insisted Tuesday the five accused teen attackers are “not bad kids.”

     Yanika Williams, 41, spoke at the 75th Precinct stationhouse after her 15-year-old son turned himself in for the ambush that left the victim with a deep head wound requiring 35 stitches and 16 staples. The badly outnumbered Kenneth Wong, 35, also suffered a broken nose in Friday’s caught-on-video attack.

     “They just made a wrong choice, and they’re going to deal with it inside the precinct," Williams told the Daily News. “They’re not bad kids or menaces to society. They’re good kids.”

     Williams declined to comment further about the East New York assault where five youths on Friday targeted Wong, who suffered a deep gash that cut to the bone of his skull.

     The youths left the woozy Wong bloodied and battered after stealing his wallet — and then used his credit card to ring up $200 in food purchases, including a blowout dinner at a nearby McDonald’s, the victim said.

     Here are those selfsame “good kids:”

     So, Miss Williams, you tell the Daily News that your felonious offspring are “good kids?” Do you tell your kids that? And having told them that, do you expect them to behave in any way other than just as they did in the story above?

     Adult American Negroes, in the main, are decent persons. However, they don’t adequately discipline their miscreants – and they shield those miscreants from the larger society’s justice systems whenever and wherever possible. After all, they can’t have their “good kids” tossed in the slammer! Something might happen to them there. Something that persuades them that they’re not as tough as they think themselves...and maybe not as “good” as Mom and Dad have proclaimed them.

3. And Still Further...

     It’s getting so you can’t throw a rock into a newsroom without hitting a story like this one:

     FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — A judge ordered two teenagers held in the custody of juvenile services for an attack that left a man dead at the Great Frederick Fair.

     A public defender representing the 15-year-old and 16-year-old suspects said they were in “complete shock” after learning the victim had died.

     The sheriff identified that victim as 59-year-old John Marvin Weed of Mount Airy....

     Smith said video shows one of the suspects spitting on the victim after punching him. Weed never regained consciousness. First responders rushed him to Shock Trauma in Baltimore where he later died.

     But wait! They’re good kids!

     The suspects are brothers. Their parents both appeared in court Monday.

     The boys’ father pleaded for them to be let out pending trial.

     “My son is not an animal,” he said of his 15-year-old son. “He’s never been in trouble. He made a mistake. He’s only 15. I feel for the other family. They lost a loved one. My son doesn’t deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

     No, he doesn’t “deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.” He deserves the electric chair – and if we were still a civilized society, that’s what he’d get.

     And did I mention that the victim was white and the “good kids” are black? What’s that? It doesn’t say so in the cited article? Ah, but it does say this:

     [Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie] Smith said there is no evidence to show this attack was part of the ‘knock out game’ or had any racial motive. He said the case remains under investigation.

     Why do you suppose he felt compelled to say that?

     Do you feel this scenario inching closer, Gentle Reader? I do.

4. McCain’s Malady.

     It’s a matter of record that John McCain was bitterly envious of Donald Trump for having done what McCain could not: i.e., win the presidency. Well, yet another supposed Republican has been exhibiting symptoms of Envious Loser Syndrome:

     Trump-hating Sen. Mitt Romney (Fake Republican-Utah) said on Tuesday that a transcript of a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is “deeply troubling.”

     “I did read the transcript. It remains troubling in the extreme. It’s deeply troubling,” Romney told reporters. “Clearly what we’ve seen from the transcript itself is deeply troubling.”

     Romney added: “There’s a process the House is pursuing. The Senate is also looking at the testimony of the whistleblower.”

     “Deeply troubling,” eh? Let’s see, now:

  1. Joseph Biden was the vice-president in 2016.
  2. He boasted openly of having arm-twisted the Ukrainian government into firing the prosecutor investigating Burisma, where his son Hunter was a highly paid “consultant.”
  3. He is now one of the prime contenders for the Democrat presidential nomination.
  4. If nominated, he has a chance of becoming the president of the United States.

     To me, President Trump’s request to President Zelensky that Ukraine renew its investigation into that sordid affair is the one and only responsible thing he could have done. If the Bidens are exonerated – not likely, from what we already know, but possible – no harm done. If they’re found complicit in this corruption scheme – that is, if the investigation reveals that Biden’s video-recorded boast was factual, which isn’t something we can assume, given his previously established prevarications – America heads off the possibility that it might unknowingly elect a corruptocrat to its highest office.

     That is exactly and only responsible behavior from our head of state. That another nation is involved doesn’t alter the central fact: the persons at the center of this affair are Americans, one of whom has a nonzero chance of attaining the highest office in our nation.

     “Deeply troubling,” my bleeding Irish-American ass! What I find “deeply troubling” is that Mitt Romney was once the Republican presidential nominee – and that the above is his return of service for President Trump’s having helped him to win a seat in the United States Senate.

     That’s it for today, Gentle Reader. My telephonic peregrinations and vermiculations will now resume. Oh, for joy, for joy. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Chasing Down the Government Fraud

Perhaps not surprisingly, the independent media - i.e., bloggers and independent video producers - have done most of the work of tracking down and publicizing widespread government fraud. The linked story is courtesy of Daily Caller, a relatively small media company with a big impact.

But, please - do NOT hold your breath waiting for this to be prosecuted. That simply won't happen - too many of the fraudsters are Democrats, Leftists, and donors.

I'd be thrilled if a select few at the top went to jail - and, by jail, I mean Federal Prison.

The GOP should focus on cleaning up the Swampy-Mess, starting with these programs with poor to no oversight. The linked article makes it clear how the people giving away the phones pay no penalty for doing so.

I'd suggest spending some time perusing the linked database - the Obamacare program is not the only one that needs to be cleaned up. CAUTION: make sure that you take your blood pressure meds before clicking the link.

When You See Your World Crumbling... tend to go a little berserk. Some go a lot berserk.

     Anyone who’s followed the news since the fateful elections of 2016 is aware that the Democrats (and a gaggle of NeverTrumpers) have schemed and plotted the impeachment of President Donald Trump since before his inauguration. The original impulse was probably fueled by anger over their electoral rebuff. After all, the voters had told them that their chosen one, “the best qualified candidate ever to run for the presidency,” was inferior to a complete upstart, a coarsely mannered Queens real-estate developer without any political experience. That had to sting, especially after a year and more of assurances from all their luminaries that “Trump can’t possibly win.”

     They took balm for their wounds from their certainty that the Trump Interregnum would prove disastrous. They waited for events to impress those who’d voted for Trump with their folly in having done so. But despite their confidence, better. And better. And better yet. Today, except in the one area where Congressional obstruction has been effective – the border wall – President Trump has made good on all of Candidate Trump’s campaign promises.

     They’d been angry about losing. They’re incandescently furious about being exposed as fools. While there’ve been no reports of exploding brain aneurysms among top Democrats so far, more than thirteen months of campaign remain before us.

     So they’re groping for a stick with which to strike back.

     Groping is the word. The “Ukraine phone call” pseudo-controversy is the weakest hook I’ve ever seen a political thrust hung from, and I’ve been following politics closely for four decades. But what else do the Democrats have? The “Russian collusion” gambit has failed them. There’s no substance beneath their repeated allegations of obstruction of justice. And now we learn that Michael Flynn has been exonerated, and by a directed acquittal at that! Judges are notoriously reluctant to do such things, which makes them all the more impressive.

     So they’re groping. They need a stick with which to flail Usurper Trump before he can humiliate them with a forty-state sweep, which at this point looks more likely than not. But it seems like every stick they lay their hands on turns out to be a stinging insect. The venom this Ukraine business packs could prove fatal to a number of them.

     As Glenn Reynolds has said more than once, all the Democrats need to do is not be crazy, and they can’t even manage that. There’s entertainment to be had from this. But spare a moment or two to pity them, if that’s still possible.

     The C.S.O. and I have greatly enjoyed Amazon’s recent production Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. It’s set in a fanciful republic named Burgue, which is the grudging host to a large number of fae refugees. Those fae were driven from their original homes in Tirnanoc by a war in which Burgue sought vainly to defend them. The consequences have included familiar-seeming tensions and conflicts between the normally human Burguish natives and the fae, who differ visibly from the natives. One of the conflicts is, of course, political: factions in the Burgue parliament stand on opposite sides of the “refugee question.”

     Toward the end of this excellent series, the leaders of the two factions – dramatically enough, both of them in their positions because of the deaths of their fathers – ally with one another, surprising virtually everyone. Their motive, as one instructs the other, is to create chaos. In the confusion and disorder they hope to provoke, opportunities would exist for new powers to arise and displace the old ones.

     The Democrat Party is currently in a state of chaos. The titular powers in that party are being revealed as lacking power. They can no longer guide events according to the preferences of the party’s strategists. That has produced opportunities for the rise of new powers.

     The new powers most prominent at this time are on the far Left: socialists all, verging in some cases into outright communism. Their bid for supremacy within their party looks uncertain at best. Indeed, the party regulars still have a good chance of putting them to flight. But the chaos that has arisen in the wake of the Democrats’ failed attempts to destroy President Trump has made an insurrection possible, and the insurgents have chosen to make their play.

     It seems unlikely, even if the socialist insurgents should gain complete control of the Democrat Party, that they would be able to parlay such an ascendancy into electoral least, outside such hard-Left redoubts as Berkeley. But winning control of their party is a step forward. Remember how long it took Britain’s Labour Party, after it had been suborned by the Fabian Socialists, to rise to national power.

     The wild card in all of this is the Republican Establishment. They don’t care for their party’s standard-bearer. Indeed, the senior members of the GOPe dislike Upstart Trump almost as much as the Democrats’ kingmakers. He’s “shown them up” by doing the unthinkable: keeping his campaign promises and pursuing working policies with all his accustomed vigor. However, they know that for the foreseeable future, Trump is their leader. Their fortunes are tied to his. They cannot afford to undermine him.

     That doesn’t mean that the less farsighted among them won’t try. We’ve already seen some of that from the Dishonorable Mitt Romney and the certifiable William Weld.

     The chaos among the Democrats is not mirrored by anything comparable among the Republicans. Yet there are opportunities. In the current circumstances, conservative activists at the local and state levels have their best chance of rising to higher estates by explicitly and enthusiastically backing President Trump and his agenda for the nation. Whether that’s happening to any great degree is unclear...but the opportunities are there.

     While it’s at least somewhat misleading to call the Trump wave “populist,” it is explicitly pragmatic: Do what works, even if it appears to contradict conservative dogma. If politics, as R. A. Butler has told us, is “the art of the possible,” then “what works” is the golden ticket to political success. President Trump’s pragmatic approach to the treatment of our national maladies has trailed long coattails. The moral “should” be “obvious.”

     Smart persons have always studied and emulated the successful. We’ll soon see how many smart persons there are, awaiting a turn in the spotlight, in the Republican Party in this year of Our Lord 2019.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Free the She-Breasts!

Not meaning any disrespect to those men - cis or not - who have bazingas. Ft. Collins has caved in.

As SOME chests are caved in. In other words, flattened.

A few women, egged on by those feminists who want to continue undermining any chance the younger crowd of women might have of finding a mate, have forced the city to abolish their ordinance against bare female chests. It all came down to money, which the city was bleeding in their effort to have SOME standards.

So, is this a victory?

Not bloody likely, as the Brits used to say. I can foresee a robust benefit to pimps looking to promote their "stable", by having them parade on the street, sans tops (it would be brutal in the winter). They don't have to SAY anything, which would complicate the matter of "busting" them for prostitution.
If the "Normals" want to - uh - NIP this in the bud, the easy thing to do is to use cell phone cameras, being sure to include the face of the flasher, and post to social media - WITHOUT COMMENT.

That last part is important - by not commenting, you are not the offender - why, you just snapped a quick pic of someone being "natural". Evil to him who thinks it, as Henry's Order of the Garter took as their motto!

The resulting shaming (too small, too flabby, not worth looking at), as well as the PERMANENCE of the picture, should discourage almost all women, at least those not "in the trade".

Mission accomplished.

Quickies: Blurb No-Nos

     I’ve expressed myself many times on what a writer should not do in promoting his own work. Mind you, most indie writers ignore my advice...if they’re even aware of it. But I continue to think I’ve fingered some of the reasons their promotions are less well received than they’d hoped.

     Top of the list: Don’t praise your own books. Get someone else to do it – preferably someone whose name is better known than yours. Consider this example:

     The writer secured a favorable comment from the highly accomplished SF and fantasy writer Elizabeth Bear. That’s how it should be done.

     Here’s how it shouldn’t be done:

     BookBub blurbs are submitted by the writer whose book is featured, so unless another source for the praise above is given – and it isn’t – it’s the author’s praise of her own work.

     Second on my personal aversion parade: Exclamation points. Pro editors have a derisive name for this punctuation mark: they call ‘em “screamers.” As bad as they are in one’s fiction – and they’re very bad – they’re even worse in a blurb. They reduce the probability that a reader will take an interest. The “Finder” blurb above is an example.

     Third, and arguably a matter of taste: While including in your blurb that your book is “first in a series” is a candid statement, as the author of “Daughter of Havenglade” does in the blurb above, it’s also a message to the reader: This volume is open-ended. If the reader likes the story, the odds are that he’ll have to buy further books to read it to completion. If he dislikes the story, or if he dislikes narratives left unresolved at the end, he might pour bile all over your series with a scathing review. (Yeah, there's an exclamation point in there, too.)

     I speak here as a reader rather than a writer: Each of these practices reduces the probability that I’ll pick up your book...even if it’s free. I don’t think mine are minority preferences.

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Valid Argumentation And Expertise

     The list of fallacies relevant to argument includes one that isn’t, strictly speaking, a fallacy under all circumstances: the “argument from authority.”

     If we read authority to mean expert status, there is a place for it in arguments over substantive matters. Problems with expertise-based arguments arise in two venues:

  1. The validation of the claimed expertise;
  2. Its position in the priority scheme of argumentation methods.

     If the above seems a bit too abstract, commenter Zachriel at Bookworm Room has provided a compact elucidation:

     An appeal to authority is a type of inductive argument {eta: based on the experience that experts are more likely to be correct than non-experts in a field, though not infallibly so} and is evaluated as follows:
  • The cited authority has sufficient expertise.
  • The authority is making a statement within their area of expertise.
  • The area of expertise is a valid field of study.
  • There is adequate agreement among authorities in the field, and the authority is expressing this agreement.
  • There is no evidence of undue bias.

     The proper argument against a valid appeal to authority is to the evidence.

     Excellent – and vitally important to contemporary arguments over all sorts of matters. There is a priority order to valid forms of argument. Expertise has value, if it's authentic and founded on prior demonstration. However, it has less value than evidence. Evidence trumps everything else – and a true expert will always concede that.

     Let’s get back to my Problem #1 for a moment. It bears directly on Zachriel’s exposition on authority / expertise. How does one validate a proposed authority’s expertise sufficiently to make his arguments worth considering?

     Well, first off, we should avoid those darlings of the talk shows, the Anything Authorities:

     Virtually everyone is touched at some point by the arrogance of an expert. I have to saw one in half about once a month, but for a reason tangential to Ace's analysis: their readiness to assert "expertise" in fields other than their own. Arthur Herzog skewered this tendency in his 1973 classic The B.S. Factor:
The thirst for answers in a difficult world has brought about the rise of Anything (or Everything) Authorities. The Anything Authority is one whose credentials in one field are taken as valid for others -- sometimes many others....

The trouble with an Anything Authority is not that he takes a position or works for a cause, but that he seldom seems to apply the same standards of research and documentation to the field in which he is not an expert as he would to his own....

Psychiatrists are a special breed of Anything Authorities because their field is anything (or almost) in the first place....

When an Anything Authority becomes successful, he joins the Permanent Rotating Panel Show and appears on television programs, which pay him....the Anything Authority must never be stuck for an answer. Glibness helps, and so does the fact that many emcees do not know the hard questions to ask.

If the above passage has you thinking of Fox News regular Dr. Charles Krauthammer, you're not alone.

The progression is plain:

  1. Acquisition of a credential of some kind, often an academic one.
  2. Practice in one's field.
  3. Acquisition of notoriety in consequence of some publicized event.
  4. Interest in one's thinking from persons other than one's fellow specialists.
  5. Increasing boldness, in part due to sustained attention from laymen and journalists.
  6. Ascent to Anything Authority status.
  7. Television gigs and book tours.

The strong relationship between the Anything Authority and major figures in national politics follows automatically.

     But that’s only one end of the spectrum. We must also take care to ignore the Nothing Authority:

     What lies between those two extremes?

     I was once deemed an expert of sorts. My field was real-time software, and I was respected at it. But expertise in engineering has a special set of characteristics: it involves prior achievements that are beyond dispute. In other words, you can see, hear, and feel it.

     Engineering is the discipline that solves problems by applying physical knowledge and /or existing technology. When engineers argue, their expertise is counted to a certain extent and no further: what has worked in the past. Such expertise is discounted when considering new methods made available by subsequent technological advances. Of course, those new methods must prove themselves in the crucible of application, but that’s where we enter the realm of evidence.

     Expertise in any of the realms of knowledge that don’t involve problem-solving – e.g., physics, chemistry, astronomy, et alii — is founded on prediction. To establish oneself as an expert requires a series of successful predictions: the use of the knowledge one has claimed to create a demonstrable connection:

  1. From a specified context;
  2. Affected by a specified stimulus;
  3. To a consequence that arrives at a specified time.

     Once again, I have the pleasure of citing the late Sir Fred Hoyle’s novel The Black Cloud:

     "It looks to me as if those perturbations of the rockets must have been deliberately engineered," began Weichart.
     "Why do you say that, Dave?" asked Marlowe.
     "Well, the probability of three cities being hit by a hundred-odd rockets moving at random is obviously very small. Therefore I conclude that the rockets were not perturbed at random. I think they must have been deliberately guided to give direct hits."
     "There's something of an objection to that," argued McNeil. "If the rockets were deliberately guided, how is it that only three of 'em found their targets?"
     "Maybe only three were guided, or maybe the guiding wasn't all that good. I wouldn't know."
     There was a derisive laugh from Alexandrov.
     "Bloody argument," he asserted.
     "What d'you mean, 'bloody' argument?"
     "Invent bloody argument, like this. Golfer hits ball. Ball lands on tuft of grass -- so. Probability ball landed on tuft very small, very very small. Million other tufts for ball to land on. Probability very small, very, very very small. So golfer did not hit ball, ball deliberately guided onto tuft. Is bloody argument, yes? Like Weichart's argument....Must say what damn target is before shoot, not after shoot. Put shirt on before, not after event."

     The prediction must come before the consequence to be predicted! Anyone can say “Just as I predicted!” after the event occurs. That doesn’t take knowledge, only a lot of gall.

     Concerning the claims of expertise submitted in the political arena, the majority aren’t even worth committing to paper so we could have the fun of shooting them full of holes. The persons making arguments from authority:

  1. Lack sufficient expertise;
  2. Are outside any area of expertise they might validly claim;
  3. Their field, if any, is not a valid field of study;
  4. There is no agreement among authorities in that field;
  5. They’re demonstrably biased.

     That final point is the most telling of all: When their claims are contradicted by the evidence, they dismiss the evidence. Indeed, some of them have taken to hiding the evidence to protect their claimed “expertise”...and, of course, the benefits that flow to them from their assertions of “authority.”

     A genuine expert, who possesses the self-respect that comes from demonstrable accomplishments, would never do such a thing. As we mathematical types like to say, quod erat demonstrandum.

     I could go on about this. History is filled with examples of “experts” who did all manner of contemptible things to protect their stature as such. The one that comes to mind most readily is Trofim Lysenko. But there have been many others.

     Remember always:

When evidence is available,
The true expert will defer to it.

     All else is vanity.

Great headlines.

Impotence Trials of France
Did Charges Stand Up in Court?
Cover of "Ancient Origins Magazine," September 2019.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Short course in modern economics.

Stimulus is the assumed goal of all economic policy, both fiscal and monetary. Demand-side stimulus is the mania bequeathed to us by Keynes, or more accurately by his followers. It is the absurd idea, that an economy prospers by consuming and borrowing instead of producing and saving. Negative interest rates turn everything we know about economics upside down.

* * * *

If in fact negative interest rates can occur naturally, without central bank or state interventions, then economics textbooks need to be revised on the quick. Every theory of interest contemplates positive interest paid on borrowed capital.

"Negative Interest Rates Are The Price We Pay For De- Civilization." By Jeff Deist, ZeroHedge, 9/23/19.

Day Off

A Decalogue Of Disgruntlement:

My lawn tractor won’t start.
We’re almost out of firewood.
It’s time to clean the fireplace.
My cleaning lady retired yesterday.
Spiders have colonized my front porch.
There are raccoons in the eaves of my barn.
The hot water heater isn’t heating the water.
Vendors keep sending me cardboard to recycle.
My dog Sophie, a nine year old German Shepherd mix, is limping again.
My dog Precious, a nine year old Pit Bull mix, keeps tracking mud into the house.

     And, as a cherry to go on top of the slag heap, at 4:51 AM EDT I discovered that we’re completely out of coffee.

     I need a day to cope. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Power of Dreams

From HillFaith comes an odd story of Muslims being converted through their dreams.

Dreams are powerful. In everyday life, many pursuits are referred to as "Dreams".

The Bible is filled with stories of dreams that are used to prod someone into a change.
Click on the link in the caption to read the stories (follows the graphic).

But, Christianity is not unique in placing importance on dreams. For a Jewish perspective, click here. And, Kabbalah is a branch of Judaism that places considerable importance on interpreting dreams.

Muslims have a long tradition of believing that Jesus will appear at the End of Times - however, he will do so in a yellow robe. Every one of the recent Muslim dreamers were quite positive that he comes in their dreams dressed in a pure white robe.

Some, perhaps more cynical, point out that they could be faking the stories they tell, believing that their chances of getting into America/other Western countries will be enhanced by claiming to be a converted Christian.