Friday, January 31, 2020

Quickies: What’s The Priority Here?

     First, courtesy of 90 Miles From tyranny, a screenshot from Twitter:

     Second, a few words from CNN “analyst” Brandon Tensley:

     Washington (CNN): It's a statement that's as predictable as it is infuriating: President Donald Trump's administration lacks diversity.

     On Tuesday, Trump tweeted photos of a briefing he'd received on the new coronavirus spreading out of China.

     "We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments," the President said in his post. "We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!"

     Who are these experts? They're largely the same sorts of white men (and a couple women on the sidelines) who've dominated the Trump administration from the very beginning.

     Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that the priority is stopping the spread of this new and threatening disease. I mean, it could be pandering to the mouthpieces of activist minority groups, but I’d prefer to think that President Trump is more concerned with the health of Americans and (secondarily) the rest of the world. I’d also prefer to think that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) hires and promotes on the basis of recognized expertise in epidemiology. So: we look around the table at the group President Trump has called together, and we find a sea of largely melanin-poor faces. Ought we to assume that they’re not highly regarded epidemiologists, or failing that, experts in other fields essential to dealing with international crises?

     I think we can deduce Brandon Tensley’s priority:

     And as a CNN employee, that priority meshes well with that of CNN, home of Jim Acosta and other hard-driven enemies of the Trump Administration.

     This “diversity” crap has to be whipped back into its kennel. It’s become a genuine canker on the national discourse. But just for giggles, let’s entertain the possibility that a president – not Trump; he’s much too smart and responsible – would be so concerned with skin colors that his decisions about whom to include on a commission dedicated to fighting a global plague would put skin colors above all other considerations. Alternately, we could make him obsessed with sexual diversity, in which case he’d put the inclusion of women, homosexuals, and transgenders above epidemiological expertise. In either case, the most likely outcome would be that the plague would go on longer and claim more victims. But the activist minority groups would be placated: the race hustlers, the gender-war feminists, and the drag queens. That’s the important thing.

     Never in my life have I read anything as scurrilous and contemptible as Tensley’s diatribe. He should be grateful that I have no power to punish him for it, other than this excoriation.

     He probably venerates Obama. Obama, after all, had the “right” skin color, and pandered to the minority mouthpieces almost reflexively. Never mind that he was a deceitful son of a bitch who put subjugating Americans and power for the Democrats – especially for black Democrats – above all other considerations.

     At this point CNN has descended beneath contempt. Whoever makes its editorial decisions should be tarred and feathered. Jeff Zucker deserves to be stripped of his citizenship and run out of the country. His “news network” deserves the ignominy it has earned.

I See a Fine Mustachioed Hand in This Affair

Not sure where the phrase "fine Italian hand" comes from, but it evokes someone who works in the background, strategically nudging chess pieces towards a desired end.

Surprisingly, for a guy know to have temper tantrums, refusal to cooperate with others, and keep a carefully selected group of syncophants close to him, Bolton seems to have orchestrated a good part of this intended coup.

Yevgeny Vindman reportedly is the NSC staffer given charge of reviewing John Bolton’s self-sanctifying memoir manuscript, which somehow leaked to the New York Times last week.
The boldface addition is mine. I fail to see that the leakage is a mystery. Amazingly, once again, leaks benefiting Democrats are "brave, and standing up to the tyranny", but similar leaks that hurt Democrats are "vile, felonious CRIMES".


I think leakers of any party are weasels. However, with a DOJ, FBI, and assorted security agencies determined to be blind to security abuses, spying, anti-government activities, and all of the various means by which the Deep State pursued their attempted coup, I can understand some of the non-Leftists still in government trying to get support by public disclosure of the treachery.

Bolton has a lot to answer for. When he was fired, he apparently decided to Unleash the Kraken upon Trump. Hope the little weasel pays for his actions.

The Ultimate Denunciation

     [Gentle Readers please take note: The following composition is not mine. I first encountered it many years ago at Free Republic, and foolishly neglected to preserve a copy. Happily, I’ve stumbled over it again, and its matchless eloquence strikes me as powerfully as ever. (I particularly like Paragraph #4, with its quaint British, even Shakespearean flavor.) I recommend keeping a copy close at hand; as a reference work for the generation of insults, it is unsurpassed. -- FWP]

     You swine. You vulgar little maggot. You worthless bag of filth. I wager you couldn't empty a boot of excrement were the instructions on the heel. You are a canker. A sore that won't go away. I would rather kiss a lawyer than be seen with you. Try to edit your responses of unnecessary material before attempting to impress us with your insight. The evidence that you are a nincompoop will still be available to readers, but they will be able to access it more rapidly.

     You snail-skulled little rabbit. Would that a hawk pick you up, drive its beak into your brain, and upon finding it rancid set you loose to fly briefly before spattering the ocean rocks with the frothy pink shame of your ignoble blood. May you choke on the queasy, convulsing nausea of your own trite, foolish beliefs. You are weary, stale, flat and unprofitable. You are grimy, squalid, nasty and profane. You are foul and disgusting. You're a fool, an ignoramus.

     And what meaning do you expect your delusional self-important statements of unknowing, inexperienced opinion to have to us who think and reason? What fantasy do you hold that you would believe that your tiny-fisted tantrums would have more weight than that of a leprous desert rat, spinning rabidly in a circle, waiting for the bite of the snake? You are a waste of flesh.

     You have no rhythm. You are ridiculous and obnoxious. You are the moral equivalent of a leech. You are a living emptiness, a meaningless void. You are sour and senile. You are a disease, you puerile one-handed slack-jawed , drooling meatslapper. You smarmy lagerlout git. You bloody woofter sod. Bugger off, pillock. You grotty wanking oik artless base-court apple-john. You clouted boggish foot-licking twit. You dankish clack-dish plonker. You gormless crook-pated tosser. You churlish boil-brained clotpole ponce. You cockered bum-bailey poofter. You gob-kissing gleeking flap-mouthed coxcomb. You dread-bolted fobbing beef-witted clapper-clawed flirt-gill.

     You are a fiend and a coward, and you have bad breath. You are degenerate, noxious and depraved. I feel debased just for knowing you exist. I despise everything about you, and I wish you would go away. I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know. I'm sorry. I can't go on. This is an epiphany of stupid for me.

     After this, you may not hear from me again for a while. I don't have enough strength left to deride your ignorant questions and half-baked comments about unimportant trivia, or any of the rest of this drivel. Duh. I mean, really, stringing together a bunch of insults among a load of babbling was hardly effective.

     True, these are rudimentary skills that many of us "normal" people take for granted that everyone has an easy time of mastering. But we sometimes forget that there are "challenged" persons in this world who find these things more difficult. If I had known, that this was your case then I would have never read your post. It just wouldn't have been "right". Sort of like parking in a handicap space. I wish you the best of luck in the emotional, and social struggles that seem to be placing such a demand on you.

     You're an idiot. A moron of the highest order. You're so stupid it's a wonder and a pity you can remember to breath. Intelligent ideas bounce off your head as if it were coated with teflon. Creative thoughts take alternate transportation in order to avoid even being in the same state as you. If you had an original thought it would die of loneliness before the hour was out. On an intelligence scale of 1 to 10 (10 corresponding to the highest attainable IQ) you're rating is so far into negative numbers that one would need to travel into another quantum reality in order to even catch a distant glimpse of it.

     Your personality is that of a rabid Chihuahua intent on destroying its own tail. Your powers of observation are akin to those of the bird that keeps slamming into the picture window trying to get that other bird it keeps seeing. You are walking, talking proof that you don't have to be sentient to survive, and that Barnum was thinking of you when he uttered his immortal phrase regarding the birth of a sucker. You are, at varying times, tedious, boring, and even occasionally earth shatteringly hilarious in your idiocy, routinely childish, moronic, pathetic, wretched, disgusting and pitiful.

     You are wholly without any redeeming social grace or value. If God ever decides to give the planet an enema you'd better run like the wind because anywhere you stand is a suitable place for The Insertion. There is no animal so disgusting, so vile that it deserves comparison to you, for even the lowest, dirtiest, most parasitic member of the animal kingdom fills an ecological niche. You fill no niche. To call you a parasite would be injurious and defamatory to the thousands of honest parasitic species. You are worse than vermin, for vermin do not pretend to be what it is not. You are truly human garbage. You are a fraudulent, lying, predatory charlatan. You are of less worth than a burnt-out light bulb. You will forever live in shame.

     You have nothing to say, and Godwin's Law does not apply when writing about you. You are the anti-Midas, for all that you touch becomes valueless and unusable. Mothers gather their children close when you appear. You are an aberration, a corruption, and a boil that needs to be lanced. You are a poison in need of being vomited. You are a tooth so rotten it infects the whole body. You are sperm that should have been captured in a condom and flushed down a toilet.

     I don't like you. I don't like anybody who has as little respect for others as you do. Go away, you swine. You're a putrescent mass, a walking vomit. You are a spineless little worm deserving nothing but the profoundest contempt. You are a jerk, a cad, and a weasel. Your life is a monument to stupidity. You are a stench, a revulsion, a big suck on a sour lemon. You are a curdled staggering mutant dwarf smeared richly with the effluvia and offal accompanying your alleged birth into this world. Meaningful to no one, abandoned by the puke-drooling, giggling beasts that sired you and then killed themselves in recognition of what they had done.

     I will never get over the embarrassment of belonging to the same species as you. You are a monster, an ogre, a malformity. I wretch at the very thought of you. You have all the appeal of a paper cut. Lepers avoid you. You are vile, worthless, less than nothing. You are a weed, a fungus, and the dregs of this earth. And did I mention you smell? Monkeys look down on you. Even sheep won't have sex with you. You are unreservedly pathetic, starved for attention, and lost in a land that reality forgot. You are a waste of flesh. On a good day you're a halfwit. You are deficient in all that lends character. You have the personality of wallpaper. You are dank and filthy. You are asinine and benighted. You are the source of all unpleasantness. You spread misery and sorrow wherever you go.

     You are a fiend and a coward, and you have bad breath. You are degenerate, noxious and depraved. I feel debased just for knowing you exist. I despise everything about you, and I wish you would go away. I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. The only thing worse than your logic is your manners. Maybe later in life, after you have learned to read, write, study, spell, and count, you will have more success. True, these are rudimentary skills that many of us "normal" people take for granted that everyone has an easy time of mastering. It just wouldn't have been "right". Sort of like parking in a handicap space. I wish you the best of luck in the emotional and social struggles that seem to be placing such a demand on you.

     You are hypocritical, greedy, violent, malevolent, vengeful, cowardly, deadly, mendacious, meretricious, loathsome, despicable, belligerent, opportunistic, barratrous, contemptible, criminal, fascistic, bigoted, racist, sexist, avaricious, tasteless, idiotic, brain-damaged, imbecilic, insane, arrogant, deceitful, demented, lame, self-righteous, byzantine, conspiratorial, satanic, fraudulent, libellous, bilious, splenetic, spastic, ignorant, clueless, illegitimate, harmful, destructive, dumb, evasive, double-talking, devious, revisionist, narrow, manipulative, paternalistic, fundamentalist, dogmatic, idolatrous, unethical, cultic, diseased, suppressive, controlling, restrictive, malignant, deceptive, dim, crazy, weird, dystrophic, stifling, uncaring, plantigrade, grim, unsympathetic, jargon-spouting, censorious, secretive, aggressive, mind-numbing, abrasive, poisonous, flagrant, self-destructive, abusive, and socially-retarded.

     Shut up and go away lest you achieve the physical retribution your behaviour merits.

Holding Schiff's Feet to the Fire

Tyler O'Neil has a must-read story that focuses on the erratic and twisted logic that condemns President Trump's action vis-a-vis Ukraine's inquiries on Burisma, vs. Obama's actions against then-candidate Trump.

The problem, for the Democrats, is that - no surprise to Liberty's Torch readers - Obama and the Democratic party leaders have a long history of weaponizing the Deep State to take down their opponents, use questionable investigations/inquiries to smear them, and otherwise act just exactly as they claim Trump did.

But, different when Dems do it. Because - oh, look! There's a squirrel!

Their whole "case" is an illusion.

Some factors that may lead to a quick vote to acquit:
  • Trump's numbers, both in polls, and in the numbers that are willing to turn out in freezing weather to see him, are spectabular.
  • The impeachment did not do what the Dems expected - obsessive viewing of the hearings, floods of letters and other contacts with Senators urging them to vote him GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY! Most people can barely bring themselves to watch the evening summaries.
  • No major catastrophes, like a stock market crash (I just checked my portfolio, and it's in really good shape). No rioting in the streets (they should have planned better, and launched the impeachment earlier).
  • The talking heads are, for the most part, boring. A lot of people have stopped paying attention.
  • The GOP is prepared to RUMBLE, BABY! The individual Senators have used social media well, both laying out the arguments against a guilty verdict, and threatening to bring a whole lot of exposure to a VERY dirty crew - DIRTY, DIRTY, DIRTY.
  • China has stopped saber-rattling, and is more than busy with the Coronavirus.
  • Russia is dealing with issues involving their leadership, and the plans for succession of Putin.
  • The EU just got their ass handed to them, via Boris Johnson's quick movement of Brexit through Parliament, and are struggling with the Muslim invaders.
So, given all that, and a distinct lack of enthusiasm in Washington, I think (pray) that this will soon be over.

Then, it's MAGA2020, and we're Ready to RUMBLE again!

Watch the new GOP ad. It's powerful.

Quickies: Impeachment Fail

     Among the reasons the “trial” of President Donald Trump before the Senate is likely to come to an end today is this one, nicely expressed by a minor character in The Godfather:

     She threw it all away just to make me look ridiculous. And a man in my position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous.

     For “she” in the above, substitute the impeachment-crazed House Democrats. For the “man in my position,” substitute any Republican Senator (and possibly a few Democrats) who’s been listening to the representations of the Democrat “impeachment managers” and trying to make a particle of sense out of them.

     I have no doubt that several Republican Senators would have been happy to vote for Trump’s removal from office had the Democrats presented them with a non-ridiculous justification. After all, several GOP Senators are “NeverTrumpers,” or close to it. Collins, Alexander, Murkowski, and Romney are the names that spring to mind. Trump’s several bold and brilliant successes in matters that range across the policy spectrum have occasionally made those Senators (among others) look like wastes of a perfectly good seat in that body. So they might have been eager for some rationale to vote against him.

     Now Lisa Murkowski is a likely vote to foreclose further testimony: i.e., no witnesses will be called by the Senate. Several Democrats – Manchin, Sinema, and Doug Jones – are said to be leaning that way as well. So it is highly likely that the proceedings will end today with an acquittal.

     Murkowski, in particular, is unwilling to be made to look ridiculous. Perhaps Collins and Romney will bite into that bullet; Collins is a wild card and Romney’s fuming anger toward Trump is well known. As for Lamar Alexander, I’d say it’s six-five and pick ‘em. But Murkowski alone would give the “get it over with” group fifty votes. That’s enough to defeat the suggestion that the Senate should call further witnesses.

     Overall, the “impeachment managers” have been tedious and insulting. They’ve produced no credible case that President Trump has committed an offense that would justify his removal. Indeed, Jerry Nadler alone would have been enough to queer the pitch, with his rants about how voting to exonerate Trump would be tantamount to treason. But add Adam Schiff, who might be the most disliked man in politics at this time, and you have a recipe for a boredom and insult souffle that was guaranteed to fall flat.

     For an excellent, more detailed presentation on why the Democrats’ fatuous impeach-and-remove case is an epic failure, see Mollie Hemingway’s excellent article at The Federalist.

Quickies: GAAAHHHHH!

     Damn it all, only one day after a disquisition on why “the rules” aren’t necessarily binding, I find myself compelled to do this.

     Watch your homophones, Gentle Readers. Words that sound the same don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Indeed, I can’t think of a case where they do.

     I just encountered this phrase:

     If this sort of thing peaks your interest...

     No, no, NO!! The word you want is pique:

pique v: to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.):
Her curiosity was piqued by the gossip.

     I’ve been encountering quite a lot of homophone errors lately, and they drive me straight up the BLEEP!ing wall. I know that spellcheckers are useless against them. Worse, most grammar checkers won’t detect them either. The most common ones are the “its / it’s,” “to / too / two,” and “there / their / they’re” groups, but others have been proliferating in a spirit of “My turn!”

     Here’s another that’s completely avoidable: the use of lead where led — the past tense of the verb to lead — is correct.

     This one had me laughing so hard I hurt myself:

     She had a when on her right cheek.

     HUH?! The word is wen: “a benign encysted tumor of the skin, especially on the scalp, containing sebaceous matter; a sebaceous cyst.” (

     Yes, these homophone errors can be very funny, but the English language is taking a fair amount of damage from them. Words are tools! Each has its proper applications. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw to drive a nail, would you? Not a running one, at least?

     What time is it, sweetie? Only 4:40 EST? Great God in heaven, I need a drink!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Quickies: Once Bitten, Twice Shy

     If there are any hard and fast, entirely reliable rules in the realm of geopolitics, this would be one: Never trust an avowed socialist. Especially once he’s had power enough to show his true colors. So I wouldn’t be in a great hurry to bid on this offer:

     When Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, Venezuela was producing more than 3 million barrels per day of crude. With the help of billions in loans from China, Chavez was able to sustain production at around 2.5 million barrels per day. In the past year, production has fallen below 1 million barrels per day, the lowest rate of production in 75 years. As a result, per capita GDP has fallen by nearly half in the past six years.

     Now, the Chinese government is apparently becoming reluctant to throw good money after bad. As a consequence, Chavez's hapless successor, President Nicolas Maduro, is now reportedly proposing to sell a majority stake in, and give control of the country's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, to private international oil companies. This offer may be less than tempting to Big Oil since the Bolivarian Republic still owes billions to the oil companies whose property it seized 10 years ago.

     “Privatize.” A lovely word, but...would the government of Venezuela retain the power to re-nationalize the oil industry? Because if so, no investment in any industry in that nation would be safe from the claws of the State.

     Allow me a citation about another “socialist paradise:” Burma under dictator Ne Win:

     Ne Win set out his ideas in a manifesto: The Burmese Way to Socialism, which proclaimed two antithetical principles: a commitment to Marxism and the promise of “a new society for all, economically secure and morally better.” It was the commitment to Marxism that won.
     More than 90% of Burma’s commerce and industry was nationalized, creating drastic shortages of all commodities on the home market and – the natural consequence – widespread corruption and a flourishing black market, despite severe penalties. IN agriculture, Ne Win went even further than his distant mentors of the Soviet Union, for instance by “nationalizing” onions, potatoes, and beans. All three items promptly disappeared, since the farmers saw no special reason to produce them. Ne Win’s response was typically authoritarian. He decontrolled onions, potatoes, and beans; all three rapidly reappeared on the market. He then pounced on the private traders who were handling the reborn items, ordering the army to seize the more successful firms, and jailing the successful owners.

     [Arthur Seldon and Brian Crozier, Socialism: The Grand Delusion. Emphasis added by FWP.]

     How do you feel about Bernie Sanders now, Comrade?

Family Update

GREAT news about my grandson. He got the flu late last week. My daughter took him to the doctor, got the anti-flu med, pushed fluids, and kept him apart from the rest of the family. He was verified Influenza A.

He's back at school today.

Now, that's a quick recovery! My grandkids are generally healthy, seldom miss school, so probably have a better-than-average immune system. But, still.

How the Hell is This Moron Still in the Race?

Tweeted today.

Graphing The Epidemic

I took this data from a BBC report.

Keep in mind, that this trend is only for 10 days. I would expect it to rise for another 30-60 days or so, then begin to turn down - IF this is a more-or-less normal seasonal illness. If the slope of the cases keeps increasing, this could be bad.

REAL bad.

The FAA Needs to Shut Flights DOWN!

China is still flying passengers to the USA, landing at Logan airport, among others. There really is NO need to continue these flights.

I realize that Trump is the guy who likes to coax people into a deal. It's a good tactic, as a person who believes that it's HIS idea to agree is a happier party to the contract, then one who is forced to sign.

But, this is a time for bringing the hammer down:

  • ALL flights with Chinese passengers must cease. NO person may leave China to come to the USA, while this epidemic is active. Heck, it wasn't that long ago that China FORBID their citizens to leave the country, and used the army to enforce that prohibition. If a Chinese national, or an American citizens leaves to go to China, they may not return, until the epidemic is over, however many months or years it takes.
  • If a passenger has traveled to a suspected source of the infection, they may not board (that's what passport control is for).
  • If a passenger, or any of their party, shows signs of illness, they must be taken off at the nearest available airport, and quarantined for at least 14 days. ALL of them.
  • If a person has a positive coronavirus test, they must be placed into quarantine. All food can be delivered (give them a voucher for a local grocery delivery service). Same with prescriptions and other necessities. Leaving will subject them to arrest and incarceration in solitary and BOTH hefty fines and a felony conviction - NOT negotiable, expungeable, or pardonable. The felony conviction stays on their record, lifelong. That's aimed at those snowflakes and other Elites that think the rules don't apply to them.
Why do I think this is necessary? Because China, a nation that tends to bury bad news, thinks it is. They are treating this seriously, therefore, prepare to panic.

Trump CAN do this. He MUST do this. Coronavirus has the potential to sink his administration, whether he survives the impeachment trial, or not.

Breaking The Rules

     One of the pleasures I take from writing fiction arises from my fascination with “the rules:” the rules of fictional construction and depiction, and whether and how tightly they actually bind the writer. I’ve occasionally gone off on great and windy tirades about “the rules” – as I understand them, of course – often regarding blatant violations of them committed by other writers. It can make me seem pedantic. Candidly, that’s a longstanding fault of mine.

     But in truth, my fascination with “the rules” goes deepest when it concerns how they might be broken to advantage.

     Sometimes, an approach “the rules” seem to forbid is really just something that hasn’t yet been done successfully. Over time that can lead to a certain rigidity:

“We don’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“It’s not done.

     Should the questioner ask “Why not?” a second time, his interlocutor might say something snippy and apply the Cut Direct. This is especially prevalent among “established” writers, who are ever ready to dismiss the parvenu: “He’s not one of us.”

     But time marches on, and sometimes a writer who has muttered “Why not?” in privacy will resolve to try out a particular rule breakage and see if he can make it work. Those who loftily proclaimed that “It’s not done” might sniff, but that’s ultimately of no moment. Indeed, on rare occasions a rule breakage becomes a part of the adventurous writer’s mystique, even a reason to proclaim him great:

     “Shakespeare never breaks the real laws of poetry,” put in Dimble. “But by following them he breaks every now and then the little regularities which critics mistake for the real laws. Then the little critics call it a ‘licence.’ But there’s nothing licentious about it to Shakespeare.” [C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength]

     Until fairly recently, one of the “little regularities” was that first-person and third-person narration don’t mix. Yet it can be done, if properly structured, and if enough care is taken not to jar the reader unduly. I’ve done it a couple of times. Another narrative technique disdained until fairly recently is first-person multiple: having more than one first-person narrator, their viewpoint sections interleaved. Yet Ursula Le Guin succeeded brilliantly with it in The Left Hand of Darkness and Robert Silverberg used it to tremendous advantage in The Book of Skulls.

     Another group of pseudo-rules concerns mandatory elements in particular genres. Such a rule is of the form “If you’re writing in genre X, you must include element Y.” This is an indirect attempt to define the genre, which I don’t disagree with in principle. However, let it be said at once that genres of fiction, like many other things, have nebulous margins. Their edges are not at all hard or fast. Anyone who’s ever delved into the interminable arguments about “fantasy versus science fiction” (or the more recent and much more acrimonious arguments over romantic science fiction) will know how such debates usually run.

     Now, I’m hardly one to counsel young writers to ignore “the rules.” Rather, I advise knowing them as completely and thoroughly as possible. One way to do that is the method prescribed by Lawrence Block: Read a great deal in your target genre, such that you subconsciously absorb what makes it the kind of fiction you want to write. Once you’ve read five hundred murder mysteries, you’ll have a pretty good sense for what’s been done in that sub-genre and how well it worked.

     But that doesn’t mean you can’t break the rules when you think it will work for you. You can strike out on a completely new path, if you’re willing to take the risk that you might not find a readership. However, you must be ready for the sneers of the “established” set, ever ready to defend their turf against an interloper.

     For example, I have a great affection for the romantic science fiction of Linnea Sinclair. Her “Dock Five” stories, in particular, strike me as near-perfect blends of two seemingly distinct genres, with all the appeal of both. Not everyone will agree; as a colleague of mine once said, “That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla.” But by dismissing a pseudo-rule that spurns the inclusion of a major romantic element in an SF tale, Miss Sinclair has done something new. Whether you like it or not is up to you.

     However, some writers don’t feel that De gustibus non est disputandum is a sufficient guide. They want “the rules” to bind tightly, with hard edges around “their” genres. Their immediate reaction to stories of Miss Sinclair’s variety will be “That’s not SF!” Others, of course, will exclaim that “That’s not romance!” They probably want to burn her at the stake for her three-way blend of fantasy, SF, and romance in An Accidental Goddess, a tale I find particularly inventive and charming.

     If there is any rule that really does bind tightly, it would be this one:

Know clearly what you’re trying to do.
Accept that not everyone will like it.

     And yes, that “should” be “obvious,” though it seldom is.

     Sometimes that involves a conception of “what the reader is there for,” which is pertinent to writers striving to address a particular kind of reader. Is he “there for” the technological speculations and elements that characterize what’s commonly called “hard” science fiction? Or is he more charmed by the sociologically oriented stories told by Heinlein and similar writers? When it comes to fantasy, there are many sub-categories. Their elements distinguish them more sharply than “hard” versus “soft” SF. Is your target reader there for elves and wizards, or for vampires and werewolves, or for angels and demons? While these elements are occasionally combined in a single tale, such crossbreeds are rarer than the hybridizations that occur in science fiction.

     Mind you, there’s a good reason traditional publishing houses and the agents that serve them (a.k.a. “Pub World”) disdain such genre-crossing experiments: they’re tough to market. As the typical genre reader really is looking for his preferred elements, you’ll have a hard time winning him over. You must hope that there are readers who’ve been waiting for what you have to offer. If there are some who’ve been praying for an innovator such as yourself to arise, you might get lucky.

     Just be braced for the reactions, whether they’re screams of dismay, yawns of indifference, or thunderous cheers for your brilliance. And don’t spend the proceeds until the check clears the bank. That, too, “should” be “obvious.”

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Coercive Compassion Knows No Party

     The greatest instances of foolishness arise from the unwillingness to look beyond the surface – to ask “Why is this so,” to understand the process involved, and to accept that the process determines the outcome. Thomas Sowell was scathing on this point:

     [I]f the temperature has risen by ten degrees since dawn today, an extrapolation will show that we will all be burned to a crisp by the end of the month if this trend continues....In the real world, everything depends on where we are now, at what rate we are moving, in what direction, and – most important of all – what is the specific process generating the numbers being extrapolated. Obviously, if the rise in temperature is being caused by the spinning of the earth taking us into the sunlight, then the continuation of that spinning will take us out of the sunlight again and cause temperatures to fall when night comes.

     “Data” divorced from the relevant processes can be tortured into supporting any imaginable argument. The processes themselves are far more resistant to such abuse.

     This is on my mind because of yet another fatuous article about “income inequality:”

     Reactionary populism in its most dangerous form will tear at the very fabric of our society if we do not address the challenge of economic inequality. We see the scourge of authoritarian populist movements across the globe and believe there is a moral and economic imperative to reduce this widening gap.

     Note that the headline on this article is about income equality: the longstanding phenomenon of some out-earning others. Note also the use of the words “reactionary” and “authoritarian” to transform populism – majority sentiment as a force for political change – into a dark, destructive force. But note especially the deceitful use of religion as groundwork for coercive government intervention into the national economy:

     Both of our faiths teach us to care for the poor. Jesus taught us to be radical in our service. Gandhi drew inspiration from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and said his goal was to “unify the teaching of the [Bhagavad] Gita and the Sermon on the Mount.” He believed Jesus was one of the world’s greatest teachers.

     St. Peter’s recent successors call on us to focus on decreasing economic inequality. John Paul II’s encyclical, "Centesimus Annus" declared that “the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs”, but “there are many human needs which find no place on the market.” In his 2013 New Year message, Pope Benedict XVI said he was alarmed “to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor” and called for a new approach to the economy.

     Do you think either of the authors of this piece has ever read a basic economics textbook – or (dare I suggest such an absurdity) Henry Hazlitt’s The Conquest of Poverty?

     Nope, me neither.

     Let us ask the question that Francis Rooney and Ro Khanna have failed to ask:

What processes lie behind income inequality?

     The answers are very well known. They start from observable differences in human beings:

  1. Differences in ambition and energy;
  2. Differences in creativity;
  3. Differences in ability;
  4. Differences in luck.

     Sometimes a single characteristic will determine the course of a man’s life. A serious enough physical handicap can do that. Yet there are cases of even the most severely afflicted persons rising to fame and fortune. Consider writer John Milton (blind), activist Helen Keller (blind and deaf), pitcher Jim Abbott (one hand), and physicist Stephen Hawking (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). So it would be a step too far to posit that such handicaps must be determinative. However, he who lacks all four of the “success characteristics” will have to win the lottery...and then be wise enough not to squander the proceeds.

     Let it be stipulated that nothing short of complete totalitarian control over all income-earning activities could possibly equalize incomes. Is that what Rooney and Khanna seek? Possibly not...but look at what they advocate:

  1. “[C]reate more career and technical training (CTE) opportunities, invest in rural broadband, expand small business loans to rural entrepreneurs and fund infrastructure improvements.”
  2. “[F]acilitate job creation, entrepreneurial opportunities and increased community involvement.”
  3. “Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)”

     All of these things have been tried, and there has been no reduction in income differences. Are Rooney and Khanna prepared to admit that? What would their response be? Likely that “we didn’t do it right,” or alternately, “we have to do it bigger!” That’s what coercive compassionists do, you know. They never admit that their nostrums have failed; they merely agitate for more. Snake-oil salesmen did much the same, back when. So do today’s socialists.

     But we haven’t got to the fun part yet.

     What is the relationship among:

  1. Income inequality;
  2. Economic inequality;
  3. Inequality of well-being?

     Does any one of the three cause the other two? Do any two in concert cause the third? Has anyone bothered to ask?

     Don’t bother to put those questions to a coercive compassionist. He’ll denounce you by reflex: “You must hate the poor!” It’s a silly sort of stroke that alienates more people than it persuades, but that’s what they do. However, people who strive to understand socioeconomic processes will ask – and they’ll do their damnedest to find the answers.

     First, income inequality is only loosely coupled to overall economic inequality. What matters is the balance between income and outgo: i.e., whether the individual under consideration spends less than, as much as, or more than he gets. One who outspends his income will fall ever deeper into debt, no matter how much he earns. One who spends every cent he gets will make no economic progress. One who spends less than he gets – i.e., one who saves — will steadily rise in economic assets and the security they confer. Over time his well-being will increase.

     Op-ed writer Fred Reed once noted that among those who are economically afflicted in this era, there’s a distinct lack of what he called “the skills required to be successfully poor.” Reed was spot-on: it is possible to have a low income and yet not fear the wolf at the door. It takes self-restraint, the development of certain skills that are ever less common in our time, the readiness to capitalize on opportunities, and a grasp of the toxic power of the all-too-often misapplied word “need.”

     The successfully poor – i.e., those with a low income who nevertheless meet their actual needs and the needs of their dependents – seldom remain poor. They struggle, sometimes for decades, but they make progress. Granted that some are laid low by happenstance: accidents, diseases, other phenomena individuals can neither predict nor control – but these are a minority among the successfully poor.

     One of the scurrilities of our time is coercive compassionists’ refusal to address the economic mobility of the successfully poor. It’s understandable, as it undermines their case for government meddling in the economy, but it’s evil nonetheless. The metric of interest should be what fraction of those arbitrarily classified as currently poor are making progress, not whether they make as much money as the CEO of a Fortune 100 corporation.

     Allow me a few words about Rooney’s and Khanna’s invocation of their respective religions as rationales for their prescriptions. Once again:

     Both of our faiths teach us to care for the poor. Jesus taught us to be radical in our service. Gandhi drew inspiration from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and said his goal was to “unify the teaching of the [Bhagavad] Gita and the Sermon on the Mount.” He believed Jesus was one of the world’s greatest teachers.

     But what did these “great teachers” teach? Individual action taken for the love of one’s neighbor. This is a far cry from the route preferred by the coercive compassionist, who would prefer to say “As long as you vote for the right social programs, you’ll go to heaven, no sweat!”

     Citing the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as a foundation for government economic meddling – a course that has always done more harm than good – is a slander against the Son of God and Savior of Mankind. I can’t think of any bigger self-indictment. If your faith has taught you to “care for the poor, Republican-Catholic Congressman Francis Rooney, are you doing so with your own assets? Actually, I’d bet that you are...but that is not a license to prescribe that others should open their wallets to Big Government’s ever-grasping hand for more programs of the sort that have already been tried and have failed.

     Here is what Jesus said about charity:

     When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
     Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
     Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
     And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
     Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
     Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
     Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

     [Matthew 25:31-45]

     Not a word about government or government programs can be found there. As for Democrat-Hindu Congressman Khanna’s faith, I shall refrain from comment.

     No one has made the case against the coercive compassionist as well as Isabel Paterson:

     If the full roll of sincere philanthropists were called, from the beginning of time, it would be found that all of them together by their strictly philanthropic activities have never conferred upon humanity one-tenth of the benefit derived from the normally self-interested efforts of Thomas Alva Edison, to say nothing of the greater minds who worked out the scientific principles which Edison applied. Innumerable speculative thinkers, inventors, and organizers, have contributed to the comfort, health, and happiness of their fellow men—because that was not their objective....
     The philanthropist, the politician, and the pimp are inevitably found in alliance because they have the same motives, they seek the same ends, to exist for, through, and by others. And the good people cannot be exonerated for supporting them. Neither can it be believed that the good people are wholly unaware of what actually happens. But when the good people do know, as they certainly do, that three million persons (at the least estimate) were starved to death in one year by the methods they approve, why do they still fraternize with the murderers and support the measures? Because they have been told that the lingering death of the three millions might ultimately benefit a greater number. The argument applies equally well to cannibalism.

     [From The God of the Machine]

     It cannot be put better than that. The Rooneys and Khannas should reflect on it. The rest of us should tune them out until they’ve absorbed the lesson.

Help Me With This Math, Will 'Ya?

It's early morning, and I'm off coffee today (which means that I'm one step from zombieland).

I was reading this article from Science Alert about the coronavirus. As it's morning, and - 'ya know, caffeineless - I decided to do some low level number crunching.

You may have heard that the risk is "only" about 3%. Well, that's true. And, when you take the number affected - 2700 - and divide that by the number that died - 81 - you end up with 33.3 (repeating).

That means that of every 33 people that have been diagnosed with the virus, ONE has DIED.

No, it's not as terrifying as Ebola. But, for a seemingly no-big-deal respiratory virus to cause DEATH in 3% of those catching it, is a BFD, to quote a former VP (and likely loser in 2020 Presidential race).

We all know how diseases spread through schools. In a big viral outbreak, it's not uncommon for perhaps 1/3 of the class to be affected. In a school of perhaps 500 students, that would be 167 of them (rounded). When you multiple 167 * 0.03 (the percentage affected), that means in every similar sized school, FIVE kids will die.

If even half of them pass the virus on to their family (say, for an average of 2 more people for every child infected), that means TEN students will lose a family member.

Check my math - I'd be thrilled to be wrong.

But, I'm afraid I am not.

An pleasant story about one WWI British soldier.

"Remembering Jasper."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Something I've Always Wanted to Try

I saw the announcement on TV, and decided to give it a shot.

I took the Jeopardy test tonight.

It didn't seem that difficult. Maybe I just got lucky, and got some answers to questions I knew (or THOUGHT I knew). I won't get a score, or find out anything, unless I get invited to an audition.

But, if I DO, I will definitely post here.


     I trust I shan’t surprise any of my Gentle Readers by stating plainly that my household is a bit off-axis for American middle-class households on the fabled Island of Long. And of course, over the years I’ve become accustomed to a somewhat oddly slanted modus vivendi. When your chief worry is whether the accumulation of books is crowding out the furniture, your organizational maunderings are about keeping the various calibers of ammunition proximate to their guns, your cats hold nightly redecorating sessions centered on scattering your towels around the living room, your giant dog routinely rests his chin on the dinette table at dinner time, and your spouse can be found with her eyes fixed to the clock at 2:59 PM (Eastern Time), counting down the seconds until she can joyously shout “Snort Time!” you become indifferent to suggestions that the two of you might be perfectly at home in a sanitarium. As long as it has a nice hot tub and broadband Internet access, at least.

     Even so, now and then I’ll encounter a...feature of Ye Olde Homestead that strikes me as above-average bizarre. Today in my kitchen, at 04:33 EST, I found this:

     There was just something odd about that little arrangement. I know, I know: a giant unconsumed potato has to be somewhere. But in a decorative ceramic bowl atop Beth’s baking unit? It seemed to call for an explanation:

CSO: What are you staring at?
FWP: Could it be any more obvious?

CSO: (looks down at the potato) What’s the big deal? It’s for dinner.
FWP: All by itself?

     (Trust me: Though it might not be obvious from the photo, that spud is large enough to overfeed a family of four. At this point my Skull DJ put Tom Paxton’s little ditty “Stop! Don’t Slay That Potato” on my internal jukebox and turned up the volume.)

CSO: No, silly, with meatloaf and creamed spinach.
FWP: Sweetie, that’s just wrong.

CSO: Why?
FWP: You plan to serve BryantCorp’s sacred creamed spinach, found at only a single restaurant in all the world, with meatloaf? C’mon!

     Beth started to sputter, whereupon I burst into song:

FWP: ♪ Oh, I would eat anything for love; ♪
♪ I would eat anything for love;
♪ I would eat anything for love... ♪
♪ ...But I won’t eat that! ♪

     And I alone am escaped to tell thee.

     (Apropos of nothing, today is the feast day dedicated to Saint Thomas of Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus, the foremost intellect of the Middle Ages and the greatest of all the Doctors of the Church. I understand that he, too, loved to eat and drink, so celebrate appropriately.)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Political Correctness And Sex: Two Stories

     I haven’t been feeling well these past few days, and it’s put a crimp into my emissions here. However, one thing that’s guaranteed to rev my engines is a good dose of old fashioned outrage – and two stories that elicit that emotion are on my desk this morning.

     The first is about a Marine veteran who’s being abused by Columbia University and is fighting back:

     [Ben] Feibleman knew her a little from orientation, but they had never hung out. On this night, he seemed to hit the jackpot of hookups. At the reception, the complaint says, they sat on the floor and she asked him to put his head in her lap. She later sneaked kisses when her friends weren’t looking. She poured beer down his throat during a drinking game. Then she asked him to walk with her to the roof, where she climbed atop the water tower and beckoned him. She took off her top while he unclasped her bra. He sucked on her breasts. She called him a “pussy” for being afraid when they climbed the tower in the dark and when he wouldn’t go near the edge like she did.

     He watched as she did a perfect backward roll off the side of the water tower. She taunted him about being a Marine who was afraid of heights. She straddled him on top of a ladder, then slapped him hard across the face and bit his lip. He hated the lip biting and told her to stop. None of this made him any less attracted to her, but according to him, he was steadily becoming more cautious.

     Clearly, Feibleman didn’t start out sufficiently cautions, but female pulchritude and amorous advances can have that effect on a young man. Things progressed in a strange direction:

     She talked to him in a hot, vulgar way back at her apartment.

     “Don’t you wanna fuck me?” she asked multiple times, on tape, in clear words. In fact, she affirmed her desire to have sex with her classmate no less than 29 times. She wanted him to fuck her and she wanted it, her word, “hard.” He wanted that, too. But something in his gut told him he better protect himself. And not with a condom.

     After messing around for approximately 15 minutes — kissing, fingering, grinding, throat pressing (or “choking” as Columbia’s filing asserts) — she reiterated her desire for rough sex and he pumped the brakes. He thought of the squeaky bed, paper-thin walls and her roommate. When she refused to take no for an answer he pressed record.

     In total, he claims she bit him three times, yanked his pants down, and grabbed his buttocks in an attempt to “force her mouth on his penis.”

     Feibleman had already sensed that things might go sideways.

     You hardly need to be told what followed...other than this: Feibleman refused to have sex with the gal. Columbia held him guilty of sexual assault despite the recording he possessed. The article is long, as it contains a transcript of the 30-minute recording Feibleman made of the subsequent interaction, but it’s eminently worth your time, especially if you’re a college-bound young man who doesn’t believe that a sexual encounter could prove harmful to you in the aftermath.

     Political correctness, complete with “#BelieveAllWomen,” reigns at Columbia University.

     Today’s second story is a bit of commentary on England’s “grooming gang” scandals from Daniel Greenfield:

     Unlike Meghan Markle, Victoria [Agoglia] never got the opportunity to marry a prince or even grow up. And while the media weeps for Markle, who is departing for Canada because of some tabloid tales, the story of Victoria, once again in the news because of the release of an independent report on the sex grooming gangs of Manchester, shows what true social injustice looks like. It’s not bad publicity for a celebrity.

     It’s a girl who was abandoned to the worst imaginable abuses because intervening would have been politically incorrect.

     The report chronicles how Operation Augusta was launched and then scuttled after her death in 2003, despite identifying 97 suspects and 57 victims. The victims were, “mostly white girls aged between 12 and 16”, and the perpetrators were, “mostly men of ‘Asian heritage’”. By ‘Asian’, the report means “predominantly Pakistani men” though at least one of the perpetrators was apparently Tunisian.

     Constable B, the anonymous cop responsible for some of the most revealing quotes in the report, said, “What had a massive input was the offending target group were predominantly Asian males and we were told to try and get other ethnicities.”

     Mohammed Yaqoob, the pedophile who had forcibly injected Victoria with heroin and was cleared of manslaughter charges, was not the sort of pedophile the Manchester cops were supposed to find.

     Victoria Agoglia died of that heroin injection. She was 15 years old.

     Greenfield summarizes this atrocity with maximum concision:

     The child rapists did not believe that their actions were wrong under Islamic law. And they weren’t.

     The Manchester City Council and the GMP just accepted this reality as they have accepted it so often. They buried the minutes, shut down the investigation, and walked away from the screams of the girls.

     They did it for multiculturalism, integration, and community relations. They did it for social justice.

     They did it to be politically correct, for under the rules of political correctness, you cannot indict a “race,” a “religion,” or a “culture” for savagery.

     Political correctness reigns in the Sceptered Isle.

     Rage doesn’t make me feel better, though it does clear my sinuses for a brief interval. But it’s vital to get word of this sort of thing to the widest possible audience. Not enough people, whether in America, the U.K., or elsewhere, have come to grips with the horrors that political correctness has fastened upon our societies. You have to be personally acquainted with a victim of such an atrocity to have the appropriate visceral reaction. Otherwise you’re far too likely to dismiss it: “It’s got nothing to do with me.”

     But it does have something to do with you, Gentle Reader. If you’re American or English, your country is under attack by persons who regard themselves as above the law. To be maximally descriptive, they regard themselves as above “your infidel law,” or “your gringo law,” or “your white male patriarchal law.” And while they’re still a minority of our respective populations, such a minority can do a lot of damage to the social order.

     Ben Feibleman is fighting back against the injustice that was done to him. He may yet get the redress he deserves. However, Victoria Agoglia is dead and cannot fight back. Those who drew government salaries to protect and defend her and other victims like her have raised their hands in surrender.

     It’s time to dethrone political correctness and condemn it for the horror it is.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Is Scott Adams a Time Traveler?

Because, even before the Trump Team derided Schiff as 'mind-readers', the Dilbert cartoon (on January 9, 2020) posted this:

Schiff's hearings should henceforth be referred to as the Court of Stupidity.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Coronavirus Update

The coronaviruses are not that deadly, mostly killing the elderly and immuno-compromised.

The out-of-proportion response of the Chinese government to this outbreak may indicate one or more of several things:

  • The Chinese government may be reacting very strongly and quickly, because they don't want a repeat of the SARS spread, which made it hard to move Chinese goods for many months. Better to inconvenience 11 million of your own citizens, then to interfere with international trade.
  • The spread, and the death toll, are much worse than reported. The Chinese government and the truth are seldom on speaking terms, which would make this a plausible answer. But, that explanation is not in line with the relatively low fatality level of this virus - about 5% of those infected.
  • The strain has mutated - well, it almost had to, as before, it was not known to transmit from human to human. And, virii do readily mutate, sometimes multiple times in an infection season.
  • This may have been a case of a bioweapon getting out. There are 2 such facilities in the Wuhan province, where the worst of the outbreak has occurred.
At this point, the situation is hard to call. It is even more difficult to predict its future. So, we will have to see the patterns that develop in nearby countries, such as Australia or Japan, where the news will more closely match reality.

My grandson has come done with Influenza A - that's the nasty one. He came home and went straight to bed, and stayed there.

It generally means 1 to 2 weeks of really feeling bad, followed by general weakness and fatigue for another week or 2. Most people who relapse have tried to go back to their regular routine too soon.

Antivirals, like Tamiflu, can shorten the duration of the virus. Other than that, you just treat the symptoms - decongestants, cough drops/syrup, and applications of cool dampened towels or alcohol rubs. For aches, acetaminophen will work. Push clear fluids (Gatorade is good, for the electrolytes, and a lot cheaper than Pedialyte).

Aspirin is no longer recommended. It's been connected to a potentially deadly complication, one that may have been, in part, responsible for the ferocity of the 1918 flu outbreak.

The most important thing is good home nursing. Sanitize everything, clean every surface with disinfectant, and quarantine the sick. And, wash your hands - do NOT just use the antibacterial gels.

Keep an eye on the coronavirus outcomes in Japan, Australia, and places with similar levels of medical care. If they don't begin to have major outbreaks, you can probably rest easy.

And, get that flu shot - yes, it's only 40% effective. However, it may have some utility even on other strains, in reducing the severity of the symptoms.

I'm concerned enough to keep an eye on this. So stock up on the respiratory masks (the supplies in my area are nearly exhausted), and get to a doctor to be cultured as soon as you take sick. Also, NOW, stock up on the OTC meds you might need, as well as some basic food supplies.

But, don't panic yet. I'd bet on it being a much bigger problem in Asia than here.

They Want Power

     Courtesy of Free North Carolina:

     “Boy y’all want power...I hope you never get it.” – Senator Lindsey Graham

     Indeed they do.

Faces Of Courage

     In mathematics, we speak of the preconditions for some implication as being necessary, or sufficient, or both. If a precondition is necessary, it’s merely one without which the conclusion sought cannot be reached. If a precondition is sufficient, then it implies the conclusion sought without requiring any other support.

     Courage is a necessary precondition for heroism.

     Many people fail to understand courage. It’s not the same as fearlessness. In fact, it comes close to being its opposite. The courageous man acts despite his fears. The greater and more pressing are the fears, the greater is the courage required to stand fast despite them.

     Allow me a longish citation from an old novel: Robert B. Parker’s Pastime:

     “When did scotch become the drink of celebration?” Susan leaned her chin on her folded hands and rested her gaze on me. The experience was, as it always was, tangible. The weight of her serious intelligence in counterpoint to her playful spoiled princess was culminative.
     “Sometimes it's champagne,” I said. “Sometimes it's scotch....
     “I was seventeen,” I said, “the first time I had anything but beer. We were bird hunting in Maine, my father and I, and a pointer, Pearl the first. We were looking for pheasant in an old apple orchard that hadn't been farmed in maybe fifty years. You had to go through bad cover to reach it, brambles, and small alder that was clumped together and tangled. My father was maybe thirty yards off to the right, and the dog was ahead, ranging, the way they do, and coming back with her tongue out and her tail erect, and looking at me, and then swinging back out in another arc....
     “All of a sudden I heard her bark-half hysterical bark, half growl-and she came loping back, stopping every few yards and turning and making her barking snarling sound that had some fear in it, and then she reached me and leaned in hard on my leg and stood like they do, with her front legs stiff and her tail down and her ears sort of flattened back, and growled. And the hair was stiff along her spine. And I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, this must be the pheasant that ate Chicago.’ We had just come out of the cover and into the orchard and I looked and there was a bear.”
     “A grizzly?” Susan said. Her eyes were fixed on me and they seemed bottomless and captivated, like a kid listening to ghost stories.
     “No, they don't have grizzly bears in Maine. It was a black bear, he'd been feeding on the fallen apples that some of the trees were still producing. They must have been close to rotten, and they must have been fermenting in his stomach, because he was drunk.”
     “Yeah, bears do that sometimes. Usually it happens close to a town, because that's where there are apple orchards, and the forest ranger types dart them and haul them off to some other place in the woods to sober up. But no one had tranquilized this one. He was loose, upright, drunk, and swaying a little. I don't know how big he was. Maybe a hundred and fifty pounds or so. Maybe more. They can get bigger. Standing on his hind legs he looked a lot bigger than I was.”
     “What did you do?”
     “Well, the dog was going crazy now, growling and making a kind of high whining noise, and the bear was reared up and grunting. They sound more like pigs than anything else. I had a shotgun full of birdshot, sevens, I think, and it might have annoyed the bear. It sure as hell wouldn't have stopped him. But I didn't have anything else and I was pretty sure if I ran it would chase me, and they can run about forty miles an hour, so it was going to catch me. So I just stood there with the shotgun leveled. It was a pump. I had one round in the chamber and three more in the magazine, and I prayed that if he charged and if I got him in the face it would make him turn. The dog was in a frenzy, dashing out a few feet and barking and snarling and then running back to lean against my leg. The bear reared up, swaying, and I can still remember how rank the bear smelled and the way everything moved so slowly. And then my father was beside me. He didn't make any noise coming. Afterwards he said he heard the dog and knew it was something, probably a bear, from the way the dog sounded. He had a shotgun too, but he also was carrying a big old .45 hogleg, a six-shooter he'd had ever since he was a kid in Laramie. And he stood beside the dog, next to me, and took that shooter's stance that I always can remember him using, and cocked the .45 and we waited. The bear dropped to all fours, and snorted and grunted and dipped its head and turned around and left. I can see us like a painting on a calendar, my father with the .45 and the dog between us, snarling, and yipping, and me with the shotgun that, if he'd charged, the bear would have picked his teeth with....
     “The dog was no good for birds the rest of the day, and neither were we, I suppose. We went back to the lodge we were staying at and put Pearl in our room, and fed her, and then my father and I went down to the bar and my father ordered two double scotch whiskies. The bartender looked at me and looked at my father and didn't say anything and brought the whiskey. He put both of them in front of my father and my father pushed one of them over in front of me. “
     ‘Ran into a bear in the woods today,’ my father said without much inflection. He still had the Western sound in his voice. ‘Kid stood his ground.’
     “The bartender was a lean, dark guy, with a big nose. He looked at me and nodded and moved on down the bar, and my father and I drank the scotch.”

     A better description of courage in the face of a physical threat would be hard to find.

     In America in our time, many “classical” fears – fear of starvation; fear of assault and murder; fear of a wild animal attack – are far less intense than those suffered by people of other places and times. We have other things to fear. Some of them are trivial and contemptible; others are so fearsome as to defy adequate condemnation.

     In America in our time, there are predators roaming about eager to destroy your life should you dare to disagree with them. They have a range of tools with which to do it. Some of those tools are very nearly impossible to nullify.

     Have a memory from a year ago, at the 2019 March for Life in Washington, D.C.:

     The young man with the somewhat nervous smile had just had a drum thrust into his face by one of the nation’s foremost frauds. He merely stood his ground. Perhaps he didn’t know what else to do. Perhaps he wanted to push the old “Indian” away; I surely would have wanted to do so. But perhaps he knew that it would be impolitic, and decided merely to wait out the nuisance.

     The consequences could have ruined his life. Quite a lot of people, including the pastors of his parish and the authorities over the school he attended, leaped to condemn him for merely standing his ground. They were encouraged to do so by news media that produced deceptively edited video clips of the confrontation to suggest that Nick Sandmann had deliberately obstructed Nathan Phillips to show scorn for him.

     Nick Sandmann continued to stand his ground. He secured legal assistance. He filed suits against those who had defamed him. He pressed his case in court, and in the court of public opinion. He saw to it that unedited video clips of what Nathan Phillips had done, amply buttressed by eyewitness testimony, were provided to the media.

     And he won.

     Many persons, once they’ve freed themselves of a tangle of defamation, would have chosen never again to risk public attention. But Nick Sandmann feels that some causes are too important for him to withhold his presence and support. And yesterday, he participated in the 2020 Washington, D.C. March for Life:

     A better real-life demonstration of courage in the face of incredible viciousness and condemnation – some of it from conservative commentators and other putative supporters – would be hard to find.

     It isn’t necessary to say much more about this. Simply remember that those who claim a right to slaughter the unborn – they call it “a woman’s right to choose” – are willing to destroy the reputation of anyone who stands in their way. If you’ve ever been active in this cause, you may have been touched by their malice; it’s a good possibility.

     We who respect life and seek to protect the lives of the helpless are of another persuasion. We don’t strive to defame or destroy anyone, regardless of his opinion on the subject. But we need icons to represent us; faceless masses are far less persuasive, and far too easy to disparage as “mindless religious fanatics.”

     President Trump’s appearance at yesterday’s March for Life was a signal event: the first time a president has done so. Many regard that as a pivot point for the pro-life movement. But President Trump is, at least for now, a politician, and politicians often do things strictly for political advantage.

     Nick Sandmann has no such agenda. He’s not running for anything.

     Regard well the face of courage in a cause far too many are eager to defame.

Friday, January 24, 2020

When The Culture Speaks To Us In A Voice Of Thunder...’s mandatory that we give it at least one ear.

     I must “pre-apologize” for what follows. All I can say is that it tickled me so powerfully that I felt compelled to share it with you. It is so expressive, so eloquent, and so in harmony with the Zeitgeist of our time, that it must belong to the world. Like cold fusion, it has the power to reshape all of Mankind: our ways, our institutions, our hopes and fears, and most especially our vernacular.

     (Hey, the vernacular is important. A lot more people can understand what’s going on during the Mass now that it’s celebrated in the vernacular tongue of wherever it’s performed. And that’s coming from one who took six years of Latin in preparation for the priesthood. Deal with it.)

     As one who has sternly advocated a strict prescriptive approach to English grammar, it sometimes pains me to admit that there are...sins...that I, too, commit regularly. Among those sins is one for which I invented the most common term: verbing. It’s the transformation of a noun into a verb in serene defiance of its total lack of a verb form. This offense against the lexicon has become so well integrated into the discourse that appears on the World Wide Web that we scarcely take note of it today.

     The inverse offense might be called “nouning.” Surely the practice to which this label applies could not be more obvious. But nouning is less common than verbing, with one conspicuous exception which seems to have become the standard method for expressing indifference to some matter.

     That exception is at the heart of today’s video-musical interlude, which shall now begin:

     Note how many ways this trend in popular expression can be reformulated. The performer / composer, Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq., appears to have made a deep study of the phenomenon. I can only salute his dedication to what many would call a thankless task.

     Gentle Reader, beware of the reduction of phrases once used to connote extreme intensity of emotion into typeset formulae that can’t even shock a listener any more. I’m serious about that: I recently heard a seventy-eight year old grandmother produce utterances that once would have silenced a longshoreman. Our language is being drained of its red blood. The process doesn’t start with a humorous ditty such as the one above; it ends with it.

     What’s that you say? As the dictator verborum to the World Wide Web, the responsibility to police such offenses is properly mine? Where did you get such a notion? Get the fuck out of here!

A Necessary Condition For An Enduring Romance

     Normally I complete my morning “news sweep” before I light off on an essay for Liberty’s Torch. That sweep covers some fifty-three news and opinion sites. I undertake it twice daily – early morning and late afternoon – as the necessary groundwork for intelligent op-ed writing. But this morning, InstaPundit, a site which sits smack in the middle of my sweep, provides a citation I simply have to blather about:

     Did you hear that at the back, ladies? Laurence Fox – who you perhaps only knew as Billie Piper’s ex-husband because you’ve never seen Lewis (what?) – does not date "woke" women who he believes are being taught that they are "victims", irrespective of whether they are right or not. He thinks that it’s "institutionally racist" to tell the story of the First World War in a racially diverse way, irrespective of the fact that Sikh soldiers absolutely fought for Britain. And he also doesn’t believe in white privilege, irrespective of the fact that he works in a painfully undiverse industry, was privately educated and comes from a wealthy acting family which is nothing short of a dynasty.

     Fox is denying racism and sexism, irrespective of whether or not they exist. It’s nothing short of gaslighting. It’s all very Donald Trump. And as you would expect, the whole debacle has lit a fire under anti-woke poster boy Piers Morgan while gaining Fox thousands of extra Twitter followers.

     I could go over all the things he’s said; I could use data to prove how wrong he is; I could express concern for his mental health (after all, who really enjoys arguing on Twitter?); I could make jokes about his behaviour. But all of that would be to seriously miss the point.

     Got that, Gentle Reader? The writer, “Vicky Spratt,” wants you to know that Laurence Fox is a very minor presence in the acting world, but simultaneously that he comes from “a wealthy acting family.” If op-ed writers were prone to whiplash, “Miss Spratt” would be in a neck brace about now. But that, of course, is merely “pre-defamation,” for Fox’s sin is to disdain the same women as would any sensible man in the Right.

     From the relentless shrieking of her article, “Miss Spratt” is replete with hard-left and gender-war-feminist opinions, which comes as no surprise for “Refinery29.” (It also puts the odds that she’s replete with testosterone and Y chromosomes at six-five and pick ‘em, but that’s a subject to be explored only after a lot of Willamette Valley Vineyards’ “Whole Cluster” Pinot Noir, so it’s too early in the AM for that particular contretemps.) Her entire mission appears to be to condemn Laurence Fox, and any men who see the minefield of contemporary romance by the same light, as reactionary Neanderthals in need of compulsory re-education.

     I haven’t felt such visceral satisfaction over a left-winger’s published tantrum since Jonathan Chait’s famous tirade about how and why he hated George W. Bush.

     Allow me to say something that “should” be “obvious” in a large font:

If you and your beloved don’t have the same fundamental values, you’re not going to make it long-term.

     Sometimes that essential commonality isn’t apparent up front. It can take time to determine whether important attitudinal differences stand between two persons drawn toward one another for more superficial reasons. While men tend to be drawn to women’s looks first, he who settles for a pretty face and a shapely body is unlikely to get what he wants...unless, of course, what he wants is just a roll in the hay or a bit of “arm candy.” Similarly, while women are drawn to indicators of status first, she who settles for wealth or prestige is equally unlikely to get what she wants in the long term. (Her case is even worse, as wealth and prestige can be convincingly simulated for an appallingly long time.)

     Let’s take a simple but critical conviction that has sundered many a marriage: children and who shall be responsible for their principal nurturance. Traditionally, marriage has been about the protection of pregnant women and minor children: persons vulnerable to male caprice. (Gentle Readers with an interest in etymology should look up the roots of the word caprice. It’s got nothing to do with Frank Capra.) Indeed, these days a lot of couples eschew marriage because they have no plans to reproduce. However, if he wants kids and believes that she should have the principal responsibility for them – i.e., that his wife shall be a mother and homemaker above all else – he’d better not involve himself with a “liberated” woman indifferent to children who wants a career climbing the corporate pyramid.

     The “woke” female of today is almost always exactly that sort of “liberated” woman. Moreover, she tends to see relations with the stronger sex as problematic at best, a contest for dominance between the sexes in which she is determined to be the victor. (She might phrase it differently – e.g., “I’m unwilling to be submissive” – but this is usually an evasion.) What man of traditional values would want to partner with such a woman? And if an enduring partnership with one such is off the table, what would be the point of dating one?

     Laurence Fox’s values are his own. (As one’s values are personal, discussions of whether such values are in some way offensive, or dismissive of “female strengths,” are inherently fatuous.) If “Miss Spratt” dislikes them, she’s free to spout her own, as she has done. But she’s not going to invalidate Fox’s convictions; indeed, she might have given him a “leg up” in the mating dance with her diatribe.

     As “woke” women have become ever shriller and more combative, men have become ever more tentative in their dealings with women generally. Combine this with the legal hazards that attend contemporary marriage and childbearing, and it becomes inarguable that contemporary feminism, in concert with contemporary left-wing political machinations, are the greatest enemies to romance that young men have ever faced. Even if she seems normal and sane at the outset, you cannot know beforehand whether she’ll someday flip her wig. Much will depend upon the company she keeps, and of course upon whether she was sincere in her original profession of values and priorities.

     Don’t kid yourself, gentlemen: over the years you’re together, she could change in critical ways, not just in her appearance. (If you’ve bound yourself to her entirely for her looks, you’re a benighted fool who deserves what he will surely get.) It’s vital that she be sufficiently stable not to disavow her values over time...and influences that can induce such disavowals are everywhere today. Moreover, as she changes, you must continue to love her in the active sense. You must provide for her and protect her, as is your genetically ingrained responsibility, but you must also do what you can to support her in the trials the passage of time will inflict upon her, which are more severe than those it inflicts upon men.

     What’s that you say? Where are my prescriptions for romantically inclined women? Sorry, I don’t do the distaff side. Perhaps one of my Esteemed Co-Conspirators will ring in with it later today. (Hint, hint, Linda!)

Pearls of expression.

The first question I would ask myself then is why is the Western press so concerned over the lives of the Kurdish people, when they have never cared about all the murder and terror going on against the Syrian people, the Yemeni people, the Libyan people and the Iraqi people that has led to a horrific level of death and an enormous refugee crisis which has largely been ignored by the West. In fact, the only time Western governments and media show some level of human concern is when there is an intention to intervene militarily in these areas.
"The Real Reason Why the West Is Upset Over the Syria-Turkey Debacle." By Cynthia Chung, Strategic Culture Foundation, 10/26/19.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Where We Are At Today

Years ago, America married a crazy woman. In the pre-nup process, she insisted on certain conditions before she would sign.

Oh, she did hint that she would - AFTER the wedding and all the excitement, once things calmed down - that she would be willing to re-visit those terms that we disliked so much. She smiled and teased about all the great things that would follow the wedding, and leaned in close, and - well, you know how it went from there.

So, we signed the pre-nup. WITH the disagreeable parts. Because, she was SO sweet, and batted her eyelashes, and breathed deeply, and we just couldn't think straight with all that, and all our friends around us saying, "Go on, sign it. We'll stick by you when time comes to re-negotiate." Those friends had loaned us money, and she had a lot of it, and this wedding would allow us to get on stable financial footing.

So, we signed.

And they patted us on the back, and set off fireworks.

After a few years, she decided she wanted a re-do. And, she got it. Fortunately, one of our guys managed to talk her into amendments to her original ideas - some firm rules to help us be protected against this new, bigger, more comprehensive contract.

Their guys weren't worried. They probably knew that, when push came to shove, they could just ignore them.

Then came the FIRST separation.

We agonized about it. She had her demands, and was going to leave if they were not met, in full. So, one day, she went Waiting to Exhale nuclear on us, and left.

We admit it, we used force to bring her back. Used our checkbook, and drove her into penury. Well, we thought we couldn't live without her.

She didn't come back nice, though. She got some of her male friends to harass us, and anyone who took our side. It was nasty - almost as nasty as the separation.

Over time, she SAID she was over it. Most of our descendants helped us patch things up. Life was beginning to improve.

But, she was biding her time. She hooked up with some foreign friends, and some of those 'gal-pals' who hate men - you know the kind. She didn't leave - then. She did a lot of partying, wild spending, and did her best to come between us and our buddies.

The worst part is what she did to the kids. Our sons had it worst. One of them, she convinced he was really a girl. Another, she called worthless and stupid - he still lives in the basement. I haven't the heart to throw him out after I failed to protect him from her abuse.

And, now, after having taken all of my assets, destroyed my good name, and created havoc throughout my extended family, she says she wants that divorce. This time, she wants the house, the car, and everything - well, except for the bills, which she says are MY responsibility.

She's moved in her new boyfriend and his family - none of them work. The place is starting to look like a crack house.

Her latest trick is to convince the legal system to indict me - I'm not real clear about what the charges are. When I ask, the DA just waves his hands and screams at me. He was, however, real clear about the potential consequences of not pleading guilty - life in prison, no parole. I'm not eager to take that plea, as his evidence is all hearsay or fabricated. The way the media shows it every night, I'm a serial killer/rapist/thief/terrorist. The news people all laugh hysterically when they say it.

I'm hanging in there. The jury gives me hope - they look as confused about the charges as I am. They seem to be decent people. I honestly think I've got a chance.

The lead cop was on TV recently. She was talking to an interviewer, and saying that, even if I was acquitted, I was "a FELON, FOREVER." Then they both laughed and laughed and laughed.

What happens now? Rush has his say in that.