Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Last Until (Doubt it will come to that) the Apocalypse

Blue Collar Prepper has a calm explanation of why this is NOT the Apocalypse.

New Directions

     I’ve railed so frequently, and with such vehemence, against unoriginality in speculative fiction – specifically, the endless reuse of worn-out tropes and motifs as the foundation for a novel – that by now my Gentle Readers probably shrink away from the monitor at the hint of a new one. I can easily understand it. Anything repeated sufficiently often will become monotonous, drained of meaning and impact. That would, of course, include the screechings of narrow-gauge sociopolitical commentators who also flatter themselves that they can tell a decent story.

     But hey, a guy’s gotta have a hobby!

     A few months ago, a nonsensical old mantra of the Sixties and Seventies New Left weighed in upon me with disturbing force:

“If you’re not part of the solution,
You’re part of the problem.”

     I can’t explain it, but that phrase – which, in a sociopolitical context, is false nearly all the time – persisted in my thoughts for several days running. I had to ponder it explicitly, with application to the various things I write, to get any peace from it. What problems do I regularly rant about, here or elsewhere? And what solutions, whether of my own proposition or formulated by others, might apply?

     Its pertinence to my sociopolitical commentary briefly eluded me, but once I’d pinned its wings, it pointed me in a new direction: new for me, that is. What, after all, is the prevailing tenor among commentators and pundits? What characteristics does my blather share with them that could make us seem repetitive, unoriginal...boring?

     That’s right: we all talk incessantly about federal politics, and we all take ourselves and our emissions much too seriously.

     Since then, I’ve striven to “lighten up.” I still get drawn into commenting on federal politics much too often – as it’s a quadrennial year with lots of weird goings-on in D.C. and across the nation, it’s a tough lure to resist – but I’ve been trying to be more lighthearted about it. I’ve tried to introduce more humorous material, and to achieve a more humorous approach even to the more serious subjects in the news. The progress has been slow, but changing my lifelong orientation – i.e., as a humorless academic – was bound to take time.

     But it’s in application to my fiction writing that the notion struck home most powerfully.

     I’ve tried my hand at several genres:

  • Contemporary spiritual fantasy;
  • Near-future science fiction;
  • Far-future science fiction;
  • Family saga;
  • Romance;
  • Erotica.

     In each case I’ve tried to do something other writers have not done, or have done so poorly that they might as well not have tried. Whether I’ve succeeded in telling an arresting tale worth its purchase price is for the reader to decide. However, whether I’d managed to deviate significantly from the paths worn smooth by the Thundering Herd of Hacks, Inc. (THH on the NYSE) was my own evaluation to make. In the main I’ve been satisfied, despite modest sales. If I haven’t blazed a wholly new trail, at least (I told myself) I’d found an interesting side track.

     A great part of the reason genuine originality is a risky business is the preference of most readers for something that won’t defy all their preconceptions and developed tastes. For example, while a reader who’s acquired a taste for “hard” (technologically oriented) science fiction is unlikely to be pleased by “soft” (sociologically oriented) SF, he’s likely to be displeased if not offended by a novel billed as hard SF but that shoves its tech elements off to the side in favor of some other focus. Such a reader wants the categorizations to be trustworthy, for he intends to stay within them.

     Yet it is in such crossbred, category-defying stories that one of the paths toward originality lies. Now, there are paths of that sort that I’d advise even the most adventurous writer to avoid: e.g., zombie romance. But even something that absurd deserves at least a glance before shying away in horror (quickly or slowly according to the kind of zombies involved).

     Deviations of another kind are possible, too. Consider “high” fantasy. Such a fantasy usually features magic and wizards or sorcerers who can wield it. It will also tend to omit technology from its setting: a reasonable choice, as a setting in which magic can be used to set the laws of Nature at naught would have little incentive to develop technology as we understand it. There’s a humorous passage from one of Roger Zelazny’s marvelous stories of Dilvish, the Damned to that effect:

     “Tricky,” he said as they moved. “One day they will invent names for the properties of objects, such as the tendency of a thing to move once it is placed in motion.”
     “Of what use would that be?” Reena asked. “Everybody already knows that that’s what happens.”
     “Ah! But one might put numbers to the amount of material involved and the amount of pushing required, and come up with wondrous and useful calculations.”
     “Sounds like a lot of trouble for a small return,” she said. “Magic’s a lot easier to figure.”

     [From “Tower of Ice”]

     Some adventurous writers have explored a technological or semi-technological side trail. Craig Allen’s excellent Beyond the Sky is a striking example. Margaret Ball’s delightful The Language of the Dragon is another. And of course we have the late, great Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos stories at the far end: told in a setting fully as technological as present-day America, but also equipped (or burdened, if you prefer) with magic and supernatural conflict. Such stories won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s always a hazard when one is determined to try something offbeat.

     I’m on the verge of releasing an unusual fantasy novel. Its setting is pre-technological. Sorcery is the tale’s dominant operational motif. But the crisis motif is essentially ecological. The overuse of magic, in an age long past, produced a Dieback that destroyed nearly all life, depopulated the world, and left the surviving pockets of Mankind isolated from one another by a Great Waste. While the Waste can be crossed by one sufficiently well prepared, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s the central task of the sorcerers of that time and place to bring about the re-greening of the world. But they must overcome unique and significant opposition.

     I was reluctant to attempt this novel, but eventually I decided that as a fresh entrant in a field dominated by “quest” stories in the Tolkienian vein, it would be worth the effort. It should be out in a week or so; just now I’m waiting for a proofreader — Margaret, Linda, are you reading this? — to give it the hairy eyeball. Will it appeal to the typical reader of “high” fantasy, accustomed to the quest-schematic Tolkien, Brooks, and their many imitators have followed? No way to know.

     But it’s a thrust in a new direction. If it proves popular, it could result in the emergence of a schematic of its own. At any rate, it’s something un-ordinary. It cost me agonies in the crafting, but I can honestly say it’s my own and not an imitation of someone else’s tale. For me, that is sufficient.

     Have a nice day.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Quickies: Things To Come In 2020

     Apologies, Gentle Reader. The title is slightly misleading, as I have only one “thing to come” in mind at this time. But perhaps it will suffice for the moment.

     At this time, Bernie Sanders holds the lead in pledged delegates for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. Super Tuesday is not far off, and the polls suggest that he will widen that lead in that day’s primaries. It seems the multifarious efforts to bring Sanders down have not yet had a dramatic effect on his level of support.

     However, I am confident that Sanders will not be the Democrats’ nominee. I am equally confident that no matter whom the Democrat National Convention should nominate, that party is in for a long spell in the Slough of Despond. Here’s why.

     First, a tremendous amount of attention has been focused on the Democrats’ inner circle and their media allies as they work to weaken the Sanders candidacy. Despite this, Sanders remains ahead of the other presidential aspirants. Therefore, should the DNC deny Sanders the nomination, whatever the pretext, the politically engaged of our Republic will naturally be quite willing to believe that low dealings were involved. The combination of that belief with the unquenched belief that Sanders was denied the 2016 nomination by low means will cause a mass disaffection and disaffiliation from the party. No one to the left of the Clintons will abide such venalities any longer. They won’t become Republicans, mind you, but they’ll no longer regard themselves as partisan Democrats.

     Second, let’s imagine for a moment that Sanders builds such a delegate total that he does win the nod on the first ballot – in my estimation, the only way he can win it. Sanders is the most repulsive figure ever to rise to the top of Democrat politics: an outright socialist, a fan of left-wing dictators wherever they reign, and a career politician of the worst kind: one who has never earned a living outside of politics. Given his immense negatives and the Democrat inner circle’s dislike of him, he will not outperform George McGovern or Walter Mondale: two relatively decent persons, regardless of their political postures. I would be surprised if his percentage of the total popular vote exceeds that of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

     Third, many who were once justly called members of the Republican Establishment appear to have had a road-to-Damascus moment. While it’s difficult to be certain of their sincerity, many Senators who were once ardent opponents of Trump and his agenda are now supporters. Ted Cruz is the most evident case, but others are steadily growing more vocal in support of their outsider President.

     It’s not quite a “perfect storm,” but to my eyes it puts the odds heavily in favor of a GOP landslide, including in down-ticket races at both the federal and state levels. If so, the Democrats will face a period of retrenchment comparable to what it endured after the party was captured by the backers of William Jennings Bryan. That reconstitution took thirty-six painful years.

     I don’t expect to shed many tears over it.

A look back at the Waco massacre.

Another excellent essay from on the Waco massacre when, basically, the Seventh Cavalry was called out to deal with an illegal neighborhood lemonade stand:
The siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, is an important event in American history because it directly led to one of the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil – the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. It’s not necessary to defend this act of terrorism to understand why the entire freedom movement of the time was so incensed by it. Indeed, it stood as a symbol of federal overreach and the corruption of the Clinton Administration.[1]
It was for "the children," of course. Though survival of said children didn't seem like much of a priority as it turned out. On the ground, as we like to say. In practice. In reality. Where the rubber met the road.

Much was made of the federal concern about the kind of weaponry in the hands of the demonic presences in "the compound." I recall a radio interview, I believe it was, wherein it was recounted that some ATF officers entered a gun store while the owner happened to be talking to Koresh. This was communicated to Koresh and the owner stated that Koresh's response was for the agents to come on out and see for themselves whether there were any problems with their weapons. The officers silently waved away this invitation with their hands. As with SWAT team actions that are excessive and pathetic, the government ignored multiple opportunities to arrest Koresh the Anti-Christ while in town.

Mr. Jacobs writes of the federal denial that any shots were fired by the federales. On that point, I remember a "60 Minutes" documentary, IIRC, back in an earlier century when the networks weren't complete whores, that featured an expert on infrared image interpretation and he showed footage that clearly showed muzzle flashes coming from government officers. His view was that the government had "hosed down" the back of the building. The expert, Carlos Ghigliotti, was later found dead in his office at age 42. I have not explored any information on the circumstances of his death. But "found dead" does have a certain statistical "something" nowadays. Just like Nigel Farage's plane had "engine trouble." A common occurrence.

All of this (Tarawa in Waco) while Janet Reno was Attorney General of the United States. She who was found passed out drunk on her desk when she was State's Attorney for Miami-Dade County, Florida. A mysterious appointment.

Today is the 27th annual anniversary of this blot on the nation when Koresh and his followers were federalized.

[1] "The Waco Siege: What Happened When the Feds Laid Siege to the Branch Davidian Compound." By Sam Jacobs,, 2/28/20 (links omitted).

Pearls of expression.

Assange fears that he cannot get a fair trial in the United States. The government says he can and will. When the government suddenly became interested in fair trials remains a mystery.
"Punishing The Free Speech Of Julian Assange." By Andrew Napolitano, ZeroHedge, 2/28/20 (emphasis removed).

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Forget The Coronavirus

     I’m thinking of a disease that should really worry you. You may already be aware of it, but it’s against the odds that you give it the priority it deserves.

     First, an illustrative conversation:

CSO: I tried to install Office on my laptop, and it failed!
FWP: Which version were you trying to install?
CSO: Not the Web-based one. It said my copy was installed on another computer!
FWP: But which version, specifically?
CSO: The one I’ve been working with! I’m so pissed. Do you have an uninstalled copy?
FWP: Sweetie, please gratify my curiosity: Which version?
CSO: (puzzled) What do you mean, which version?
FWP: Office 2007, 2010, 2013, or 2016?
CSO: Oh! 2013, like I have at work.
FWP: (collapses from exhaustion)

     I’m not a hardass. Really, I’m not. But the above exchange, which fits into a schematic with which I’m entirely too familiar, has become so commonplace that these days I follow a policy of responding to such emissions with a grunt. Engaging the complainant more deeply would likely leave me paralyzed with despair, in mourning for the English language, catapult me into a towering rage, or all three.

     Take a moment over this incident, Gentle Reader. Diagnose the underlying malady. Not the symptoms; the true disease from which the symptoms all spring. Then and only then should you proceed to the remainder of this tirade...assuming you don’t feel an urgent need to lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth over your forehead.

     There are a lot of symptoms on display in the above. One of them is mine: a need for specific information and a refusal to go on without it. Engineers can be like that. Don’t just tell us that the program crashed. We need to know the prior condition of the program, what input immediately preceded the crash, the specific error message (if any) the program emitted, your maternal grandmother’s blood type, and what you had for breakfast. Without a full and proper description of the context, we can do nothing for you.

     The modern tendency is to dismiss those needs and scream for immediate assistance. Note the word scream. I used it deliberately. What information does a scream convey, other than “I’m really upset” -- ?

     The answer to that question will get us close to the malady. Is anyone ready with it? Anyone? You in the back row with the mozzarella goatee: Is your hand up because you have the answer or are you just relieving a cramp?

     That’s right: Nothing. Apart from the fury of the screamer, a scream offers the hearer no information whatsoever. It gives the hearer nothing to go on.

     Now, I’m aware that the occasional scream can relieve all manner of unpleasant tensions and stresses. When mated to hoarse breathing, rigid muscles, and “OhGodohGodohGod” it can even be gratifying to hear. But that’s the limit of its utility.

     It’s not just the new Number Two who wants information.

     This delightful disembowelment of an especially fatuous New York Times article is valuable for many reasons. I urge you to wallow in its charms. However, it slightly under-weights the root problem beneath the symptom it addresses: why it is that so few young Americans are able to write comprehensibly.

     The author, writer Lori Janeski, hits a lot of high, sweet notes, including the willful refusal of the very teachers supposedly dedicated to attacking the problem of poor writing to address the need to judge: i.e., to openly declare a poor attempt at written expression poor, and to rub the student’s nose in his failure. That is indeed a critical need, but we must ask the next question. What countervailing force prevents these ostensibly well-intentioned teachers from saying “This is unsatisfactory” or any equivalent? Why can’t (or won’t) they do so? What is the underlying disease?

     Would you be ready, willing, and able to do so, Gentle Reader? If not, why not?

     “Negative feedback,” we are told, is bad. It can wound the student’s “self-esteem.” That could get him to thinking he’ll never win the big game, get the girl, or become president. He might succumb to existential despair, turn to sex with sheep, and end his life in a back alley, drinking Woolite.

     But negative feedback is the indication that you have to shape up. Without it, you’re far too likely to go on as you’ve begun, making the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes pain and effort will be involved. Negative feedback, in the form of a lot of extra-base hits, a four-digit ERA, and repeatedly being sent to the minors, is why pitchers learn to throw a curve ball, despite the pain – and you can take it from me, there’s plenty of pain, both during and afterward. Most of the feedback Nature gives us is negative. If Nature hadn’t told Australopithecus erectus that he was being an asshole for not using the antelope femur as God intended, he wouldn’t be on the Moon today.

     The “Self-esteem uber alles” movement is the antithesis of negative feedback. It’s the overarching reason why Johnny can’t read, write, spell, do simple arithmetic, hold a job, or master the terrifyingly advanced concepts involved in loading and operating the dishwasher. “Feelz” have been given pride of place and “knowz” relegated to the outer darkness.

     I could go on in a thousand different directions, but life ends too soon. Suffice it to say that we cannot reasonably expect better from our young folk unless we are willing to wound their feelings – that is, to say “This sucks; you can do better, and before I’m through with you you will,” and mean it.

     When you find yourself becoming too concerned with Johnny’s feelings, apply the remedy parents of earlier generations used to such good effect: the prospects for Johnny’s future. I mean, do you want him living in your basement until he’s old enough for a nursing home? Think, man, think!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Changes in the Catholic Church and Other Things

It isn't uncommon to find parishes distributing the Communion host only at services during flu season. That's probably a good idea, as it minimizes the spread of infectious organisms during Mass.

What is uncommon is changing from directly placing the Ash Wednesday ashes on the forehead, and, instead, sprinkling them on the top of the head.

That's what's happening in the Church of the Philippines today. It very well may be a sensible precaution, but it has not been implemented in prior regional viral epidemics.

In other news, an ABC newsman has been suspended for comments he made on a Project Veritas video, and will be reassigned after his return.

I can only hope this is the first of MANY media people to get their hoo-hahs caught in a vise. We know they are speaking this way, when they think we are not listening. But, it's nice to get confirmation of their bias.

Oh, what?!? Da' Strong Women in Broadcasting (Da' Broads) can't handle a simple task like keeping the debate from becoming a brawl?

I've seen Norah O'Donnell before - my husband is captivated by her looks and distinctive fashion style (which, to be fair, is both stylish and professional). I never thought too much about her reporting, but the way she - and Gayle King - let the debate get out of hand was a disgrace. They needed to step up and control the situation, but didn't.

Fox News puts it more straightforwardly:
There was a two-hour street fight in South Carolina Tuesday night that turned into something that resembled a debate between the seven leading Democratic presidential candidates.
 I've been experimenting with podcasting apps. I'm planning to buy an external microphone, but would welcome any advice readers have to provide. I'm leaning towards a Yeti, perhaps the Yeti Nano (a little less expensive model). I have little experience with the technology, and buying a high-end mic might be overkill. In many technologies, high-end just means more complicated, and can make using it more difficult.

That's the model I'm considering.

Censorship? Or Reining in Chuckleheaded Librarians

I'm inclined to think the latter.

There are 2 bills in TN to allow more community control over public library activities. Together, the two bills would place parental oversight boards to control the content of materials - books and other media - that would be available to minors. Any content that a member of the community questions would be brought before the board. Any decisions by the board (selected by elected politicians) would be final.

ONE of the parts that librarians are in a hissy fit about, is that acting contrary to the decision of the board would be a misdemeanor, and carry a fine. Continued action contrary to board decisions could lead to revoked funding by the state.

Might such decisions by these boards result in less sexually-explicit materials being available to children?


Might those decisions also reduce pro-gay youth and pro-trans materials reaching vulnerable children?

Again, yep. That's the point.

Too many librarians have forgotten THEY work for the PUBLIC, not that they are the public's masters. They have chosen to use their job as a way of forcing their moral and ethical standards on the rest of us.

Not happening. Not in Missouri, nor in Tennessee. The adults in the room are pushing back. That pushback is intended to remove financial support for library staff choosing to substitute their judgement for the parents. Frankly, this would not have been necessary if they hadn't taken a giant step over the line. Extremely explicit material (inappropriate for minors), Drag Queen Story Hours, and Planned Parenthood sponsored "educational" events are just a few of the situations involving libraries that parents have previously objected to.

The librarian's response?

Supercilious refusal to accept input from those rubes that have actual responsibility for the care and upbringing of those minors.

It's long past time for this correction. It will NOT prevent people from getting access to that information, but it WILL keep unwary parents from facilitating the staff's pushing it on the kids.

For an entertaining look at how one mom, with the assistance of her gay friend, managed to take on a library system that facilitated patrons watching explicit porn on library computers, read Shut Up! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment. You won't regret it.

I'm generally not pro-porn. I don't read it - don't even read the relatively tame descriptions of sex acts in romance novels - reading about it bores me. I don't watch it. I'd rather HAVE sex, than watch/read it. Sex at a remove is just - meh.

I don't care what others do, in general, as long as their partners are willing and not minors. For those whose delight is in watching others, as long as the performers are in control of the situation, have at it. Just don't involve me.

Might I judge them?

Of course, should I find out about it. However, again, unless they break actual laws, my response is - Ick! - and to walk away, averting my eyes.

But, in the case of the states taking action against idiocy by libraries - well, they brought that on themselves. On the public dime. Take your lumps, ladies (and gents, and whatevers).

Don't like the possibility that you could lose your job?

Then, lose the attitude. And, rein in your inner freak, at least on company time.

[UPDATE: I made a common error in the headline - Reigning rather than Reining. Not sure whether it was me or the spell-checker. Nonetheless, I accept responsibility for the error. And, I apologize, Fran - I know that those types of error cause you to experience acute pain.]

[UPDATE 2: Thank you, Linda. If it weren't for your timely response and the availability of plenty of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry, I daresay life would no longer be worth living! -- FWP]

Quickies: Firearms Marketing, A Discussion

     Apparently, a major gun-control activist / executive has opened a new front in the war on the right to keep and bear arms:

     The leader of a gun-control group decried efforts to sell firearms to minorities and women as "incredibly dangerous" on Monday.

     "Gun makers are softening their image to ‘put a better face in front of people' & ‘ramp up its appeal to women, children and members of minority groups,'" Igor Volsky, executive director of gun-control activist group Guns Down America, said in a tweet. Volsky, who is also a former vice president of the Center for American Progress, was commenting on a New York Times story about firearms marketing.

     "That's right," Volsky continued. "Gun makers are increasingly advertising to WOMEN, CHILDREN & MINORITY COMMUNITIES. Firearm industry realizes that to survive into the future it must ‘broaden its reach beyond the aging white men who have been its core customers'—and so they're now trying to sell their products to other demographics. This is incredibly dangerous."

     Well, as distasteful as it is to me to give my approval to a pro-gun-control tirade, I must say that Volsky has a point. Consider the way women have been taught by their harridan-feminist sisters to view men. Can anyone seriously doubt that an increase in women’s ownership of firearms would result in more husband-icides? Surely we’d be better off banning heterosexual relationships altogether in favor of government-administered brothels!

     As for “minorities,” Volsky is trying to avoid saying “blacks and Hispanics.” And here too he has a point. Look at the crime statistics! What demographics commit most of the violent crimes and crimes against property? Actually, Volsky’s point isn’t quite strong enough: if those demographics are so violent, why are they permitted to remain in the U.S., hmmm?

     As for children, their unsuitability for bearing small arms has been well analyzed and covered already:

     This Volsky gentleman should consider the implications of his statements before he elects to flap his yap.

A Failure To Understand, Or An Outright Deceit?

     The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was one of the most significant consequences of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. I don’t remember the debates over it, if there were any. (I can hear you drawling “Finally, something he doesn’t remember.” To remember something, I have to notice it.) What’s become clear, forty-two years since the passage of that Act, is that the Court has routinely been abused by federal agents and those who direct them. Its employment to spy on the Trump for President Campaign is only the most egregious example.

     Today Congress confronts the question of whether or not to reauthorize some of the Court’s powers. Yesterday, The Last Refuge linked to this story about the reauthorization:

     WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr told Senate Republicans on Tuesday that the Trump administration could support a clean extension of contentious surveillance laws set to expire next month. And Barr said he could make changes on his own to satisfy President Donald Trump and his allies who have railed against the use of the law to monitor his 2016 campaign, according to senators at a party briefing.

     But Barr also clashed with GOP critics of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has three key provisions set to lapse on March 15.

     […] Republicans emerged from the lunch meeting mostly supportive of a clean extension of the law to avoid a gap; doing so is a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

     “The attorney general just wanted to underscore again the importance of these provisions that were enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attack. They’re still relevant to our effort to go after terrorists today like they were after 9/11,” McConnell told reporters.

     But Barr also sparred with skeptics, primarily libertarian-leaning Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Barr told Lee his criticisms of surveillance law are dangerous, while Paul said Americans shouldn’t be subject to secret FISA courts, one of the people said.

     The first paragraph is the one that has my head reeling. In effect Barr is saying that “You can trust us; we won’t abuse it.”

     The FISC is a secret court with the power to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of every American. Its operations aren’t even visible to the lawmakers who’ve been asked to reauthorize it. And it has been outrageously abused in the recent past. But Attorney-General Barr proclaims that his “changes” would render it trustworthy.

     Owing to the limits on Barr’s authority, the only changes he could make would be entirely administrative and organizational. So he’s saying that his administration of the Justice Department – in essence, his oversight of the department and its thousands of agents and employees — would render this secret court and its extra-Constitutional powers trustworthy. Harmless. Never again to be used against a political campaign or any other invalid target. Because AG Barr will be on the job, ceaselessly vigilant against further abuses.

     Can my Gentle Readers detect a smidgen of doubt in my exposition? Do they share that doubt?

     Until now, I’ve had a positive opinion of AG Barr. This episode has cut rather deeply into it.

     Allow me to cite an old essay of mine. It concerns a shibboleth that’s been used relentlessly and remorselessly to abridge Americans’ rights:

     It's not generally known how new the phrase "national security" is to our political lexicon. It first made its appearance in the first post-World War II years, when various persons inside and outside the Truman Administration were seeking rationales for retaining the greatly enlarged military that had been mustered and funded to win the war. It was "institutionalized" in the National Security Act of 1947, the very first Act of Congress to define "transnational threats" to the "national security:"
     For purposes of this subsection, the term "transnational threat" means the following:
     (A) Any transnational activity (including international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the delivery systems for such weapons, and organized crime) that threatens the national security of the United States.
     (B) Any individual or group that engages in an activity referred to in subparagraph (A).

     [Sections 101.i.5 (A), (B)]

     Note that the enumerated "transnational threats" are not all the "transnational threats." More strikingly, though the terms "national security" and "national security interests" occur innumerable times in the text of the Act, the "national security" and "national security interests" of the United States are never defined.

     Do you think you know what those sonorous phrases mean?...

     When a word or phrase is without a definition, we must infer its meaning from the applications to which it's put. Looking back over the history of its use, what might we deem the "national security" of the United States to be, solely from the subjects to which it's been applied?

     My first observation in this regard is that the sitting president is the de facto authority on the matter. In practice, if the president says that such-and-such is "a matter of national security," then it is -- whether the proclamation comes before or after the fact. Therefore, one cannot be sure one has not trespassed into a "national security" matter even long after the fact, for the president's unprecedented ex post facto power over such things is unbounded and has no time limit.

     My second observation, which descends from the first, is that the use of the Act's criminalization provisions:

     (c)Whoever, in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, discloses any information that identifies an individual as a covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such individual and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such individual’s classified intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
     (d) A term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be consecutive to any other sentence of imprisonment.

     [Sections 601 (c), (d)] thus wholly at the discretion of the sitting president, and therefore an offense not defined in statute law.

     A sitting president can criminalize an act as a threat to the "national security" many years after the event.
     A sitting president can reverse the decisions of a previous president about threats to the "national security."
     The only defense that can be mounted against such a charge:

     It is a defense to a prosecution under section 601 that before the commission of the offense with which the defendant is charged, the United States had publicly acknowledged or revealed the intelligence relationship to the United States of the individual the disclosure of whose intelligence relationship to the United States is the basis for the prosecution. [Section 602 (a)]

     ...requires the cooperation of the prosecuting entity.

     Still think you know what "national security" means?

     The FISA Act and the FISC Court are routinely defended as necessary for our “national security.” I think there’s a better argument that our security as a free people is mortally threatened by the existence of this scheme. Whenever men with official positions are allowed to operate in secret, their only oversight being others of their kind, government becomes not merely untrustworthy but actively voracious: a machine that will consume the lives, liberties, and property of those it claims to “serve.” The motivations of those doing the consuming are hardly of interest. They could have the noblest motives on Earth. What matters is that there is effectively no deterrent to the abuse of their powers. When there is no deterrent to evil, the ascension of evil is guaranteed.

     I could go on about countermeasures to terrorism, both threatened and actual, but for this morning the above considerations are more important. Do we want to be a free people with the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” — ? Or are we willing to surrender those rights out of fear, in the name of “national security?”

     Think about it.

Aspirin and Other Meds in a Time of Coronavirus

I was catching up on Woodpile Report, and he mentioned the connection between aspirin and the 1918 flu. Aspirin, then a new drug, was routinely prescribed for the soldiers who became sick. It apparently worked like a minor miracle, bringing down fevers, and enabling the men to return to the front within hours.

They were crunching aspirin tabs like candy. Until the fluid build-up (both mucus and blood) in the lungs caused them to drown in their own bodily fluids.

For this reason, most physicians won't prescribe aspirin for the flu. The dangers are known, and a mild fever can actually be beneficial - the rising temperature will kill off many viral invaders.

My home remedy for viruses:

  • Take a HOT bath - as hot as you can stand
  • While in bath, drink several cups of HOT tea (your choice of flavor or kind)
  • Immediately after the bath, bundle up in warm PJs/nightgown/sweats, including socks and a head scarf or hat. Get into a pre-warmed bed (that's what heating pads are good for) and cover up with blankets. But, you'll sweat! That's the idea.
  • If you like (my husband swears by it), use Vicks on your chest. It couldn't hurt, and it may help keep the nasal passages open.
By the next morning, you will be weak and shaky, but well on the road to recovery.

No meds/OTCs needed.

Life with clueless, gutless leaders.

We’re living through another [radical shift in the way we live, work, and engage with one another] right now . . . a powerful, dangerous social trend that’s being driven by anger and ignorance.

Think about it: 5 years ago around this time, things still felt pretty normal.

There was always political bickering and ideological conflict... but discourse was pretty civil. No one advocated for violence or called someone else a racist simply for having a different opinion.

Then all of a sudden, in late 2015, people started becoming completely unglued.

"The World Became Unrecognizable In Less Than A Decade." By Simon Black, ZeroHedge, 2/24/20 (emphasis removed).

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I Went to an Boxing Match..

...and a Democratic debate broke out.

I haven't heard as much yelling and screaming since the last time I taught school, and two different groups of girls got into it.

Same style of fight - no rules, no holds barred. Nasty.

Ultra-Quickies: A Heartlifting Statement

     There are folks whose principal pastime is acting offended, because it wins them social and political privileges. Among these, Latino immigrants to the U.S. have recently been prominent. Sarah Hoyt has had enough of their shit and wants them to know it:

     Don’t come here to then accuse people here of “racism” for not treating you as if they owe you something. If you’re a Latin immigrant, FIFO (Fit in or F off.) And if you and yours have been here for generations and wish to remain here, then assume your responsibility for the American project and for your own life. Stop trying to play the part of victim. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and it destroys not just you but the nation. Also, as someone others — including the State Department — associate with Latin immigrants, I’m sick and tired of it.


Ultra-Quickies: There Is One Popular Commentator, At Least

     ...who has eyes that see:

     One beef about Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell (he’ll stay on in that critical job while acting DNI) is that he gives the euroweenies the sadz by telling them things they don’t want to hear, like “Pay your share of NATO, deadbeats,” and “Stop sucking up to the mullahs, jerks.” Okay, I added the “deadbeats” and “jerks” parts. And it is indicative of our failed establishment’s mindset that the alleged pros are more concerned with pleasing foreigners than protecting American interests. [Emphasis added by FWP]

     I’m glad someone else has finally noticed — and has said so out loud.

Pearls of expression.

The Turkish military are mostly in the countryside east of the Idlib city and in a town called Atarib. The real fighting on the ground in Idlib is not conducted by Turkish soldiers – but over 80% by the militia nebulae of jihadis and proto-jihadis that the West loves to describe as “rebels”; Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, aka al-Qaeda in Syria), the Turkistan Islamic Party and other smaller outfits.

Ankara’s spin is that those “rebel” units will be dissolved once there is a political settlement. But that is nonsense. The Turkish government expects people to believe that one day these tens of thousands of “rebels” are weaponized, and the next they will drop everything, go back home and open a kebab stall.[1]

That would be "rebels" whom the U.S. has energetically supported, protected, and coddled in its mad – truly mad – exercise in yet another effort at regime change in the sovereign nation of Syria. The Syria that happens to be a secular Arab nation that is PRECISELY the kind of polity that we would want to see operating in EVERY nation that presently suffers under the yoke of Islamic obscurantism.

The hypocrisy of the State Department is gastronomical. We are, it is said, embarked upon a noble crusade to rid the globe of "terrorism" but, in the up-to-date, state-of-the-art iteration of that endeavor, we are joined at the hip with the scum of the earth. Head choppers, POW incinerators, sex traffickers, hostage takers, indiscriminate killers of civilians, liars, thieves, tyrants, and organ traffickers all. Completely without table manners.

As with America's resolute, intentional, dedicated, and motivated support for and defense of AntiFa and its street thuggery and attacks on law-abiding citizens, the King's Peace, and basic freedoms, we have marked out for ourselves a role as pariah in the eyes of all decent people.

When you hear the U.S. government talk about common decency, international law, basic freedoms, and "our democracy" best keep one hand on your bullet launcher of choice and one eye on your stash of dehydrated dihydrogen monoxide.

[1] "Escobar: Putin Keen To Cool Turkish Hawk Down." By Pepe Escobar, ZeroHedge, 2/25/20 (emphasis removed).

Windows 10 crash.

More like a fizzle, really. By last Monday it was most programs refusing to launch though a few would. I purchased a utility with high recommend from a reliable computer advice site but despite a nine-hour "transfer" process it failed to transfer 95% of my loaded programs. The idea was to reinstall or reset Windows 10 without having to go through the extreme hassle of reinstalling my programs.

I did a "reset" of Windows which is easy to do using your installed Windows software, though getting "restart" from the Start/Power option to materialize was one of the problems I was having. Once you can get to it (after multiple restarts, perhaps), holding the shift key and clicking on "restart" gets you to the troubleshooting/recovery screen you want. From there you can do your reset.

I felt uneasy about the results of the reset. It seemed like not all problems were solved but I can't recall the particulars at this time after a lifetime of multiple reboots and researching the arcana of the latest and most greatest of Windows versions. I think Firefox was behaving oddly as I recall. Among other things.

So I opted for a fresh re-install of Windows and am glad I did. In the process of doing this I discovered the mysteries of ISO files, which make your 8MB thumb drive act like a new attached drive rather than an attached storage device. Whether that's accurate I don't know but when you download the installation files from Microsoft you save them to a blank thumb drive with at least 8MB of capacity and when that's finished you "unmount" the thumb drive rather than just "eject" media. It's something you do through Explorer rather than through the taskbar option marked "^".

That's a pretty neat service offered by Microsoft. It's a free download. You plug the now-unmounted drive into a USB port on your sick computer and reboot. Windows 10 comes with the necessary executable to recognize this new "drive" and you don't have to fiddle with your BIOS settings to make the new "drive" a boot drive. Just navigate to the drive after you boot up again and click on "setup" and next step is a fresh install of Windows. Your installation key is apparently recoverable by Windows but it's a good idea to make sure you have available elsewhere, as is true of all your installed programs.

You can choose to keep your files even though it's a clean Windows install but you should have your files backed up on an external drive just to be safe. I like Karen's Replicator as a data backup tool. It saves your files "as is" so you just search for whatever file you want in the backup set on the external drive and that's the file without compression or proprietary encryption.

Western Digital "My Passport" drives are excellent and though you have to use their backup software to restore any files it's not that difficult. But I do like the simplicity of Karen's Replicator.

You'll have to define several backup tasks or jobs to get that to work but it will be good for you to locate your data "family jewels" and make active decisions about what you want to keep. Include your Desktop, your obvious data files, as well as your email messages and profile, your browser profile (which with Firefox includes your bookmarks), and the jobs that Karen's Replicator creates in C:\Users\[User name]\AppData\Local\Karen's Power Tools\Replicator\. It takes a bit of thought and a little effort to define your jobs and why not save them just in case?

After you re-install Windows but before you start re-installing or downloading files, I recommend that you create a restore point so you have a way of getting back to the most pristine of installations. These tend to be deleted by Windows in a fairly short time but I suppose if you allot 30 or 40MB for the storage of restore points they'll last longer.

I didn't do the restore thing as I just recommended but what I did do was re-install my MS Office 2003 files and make sure that my autocorrect files and macros were back and that backup frequency, file locations, template locations, and autosave file locations were as before per personal preference. THEN I made a backup by creating a disk image on my humongous external hard drive so I can restore a nearly-pristine version of Windows plus my most important working files. That takes a lot more time than creating a restore point but it's quite easy and worth your time to figure out and do.

Your autocorrect files are stored in a file called MSO1033.acl and, after you reinstall Office, copy your backup copy to C:\Users\[User name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office. MSO1033.acl is one of those files that are down the rabbit hole of the "User" folder and its bewildering warren of data files and settings so search it out and back it up. My Thunderbird email profile/files are down that dark and mysterious hole but they're now being backup by Karen's Replicator.

Some people may use Auto Text in the way that I use autocorrect in which case this link may be helpful: useful link here. Subscribe to Mr. Wyatt's newsletter if you go there. He has lots of good info about tweaking and troubleshooting all versions of Microsoft Word.

On Word macros, I believe they're stored in your template file. My macros came back with my simply selecting the template folder (called "Template") of my creation under Tools/Options/File locations/User templates. That folder is the one that has in it and so my macros reappeared.

I'm glad I went with a clean relnstall as I've got an essentially new computer back. I don't like having to reinstall programs but then I had a lot of programs installed over the years that I don't use. I'll re-install selectively as needed which will keep the bloat down and that won't be such an arduous task as trying to re-install all at once.

A PS on reinstalling Firefox. I encountered the situation where it would appear as a process under Task Manager but not launch or I'd get a message that a copy of Firefox is already running when I'd try to launch it. Making sure that the template folder is not marked "read only" is the key here. Uncheck that option under file "properties" and answer "yes" to whether all subordinate files/folders should also be readable.

A PPS: I think highly of the Everything search utility. It's free and if you make sure it's part of Startup under Task Manager it will keep its index up to date and it's WAY faster than the native Explorer option. Maybe the latter does better if you elect to have Explorer index your folders. Everything just seems simpler to me and I like being able to do stuff outside of Windows's clammy embrace. YMMV.

All told, about five days to go through all this but then, like Harvey Weinstein, I was feeling my way along at every step.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Another Voice Heard from About Coronavirus

I was just reading the Rush Limbaugh transcripts (I seldom am able to hear the show, so I got into the habit of reading the transcripts - also better if you have hearing issues, as I do).

He made a point about the health scare, which I hadn't considered - the Hong Kong protests have - coincidentally - stopped since the public began to fear being in public places, lest they catch the disease.

I wouldn't put it past the Chinese government to have done it.

Trump's India Trip - NOT Just Sightseeing

It probably won't be reported that way, but my gut reaction to the Indian trip is that he is working with India to ensure that medications and medical supplies will not be disrupted in the Coronavirus crisis. Trump is in his wheelhouse here, using one ally to play against another. India has to be concerned about the virus affecting its economy.

Trump is both providing military aid, and, I suspect, working to lay the pathway for American companies to shift their production there, should it be needed.

The Socialist Front In The Lexical Wars

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. It’s yet another unnaturally wet and foggy day here on the fabled Island of Long. As noted social commentator Tom Bombadil has observed, wet days are good for getting the wash done...but not much else. As the news has been fairly boring, I shall return to one of my favorite obsessions, which, owing to the state of the presidential campaign, has become particularly relevant. But first, a musical lead-in:

     (Does anyone know whether Brenda Ann Spencer is still in prison?)

     If you can control the terms of debate, and the meaning of those terms, you can guarantee victory regardless of the opposing forces’ arguments and rhetorical skills. This effect is growing particularly important within the Democrat Party: first, among those who’d like to preserve it beyond the 2020 elections; second, among those who want to impose their own agenda on it.

     It should not be news to any Gentle Reader that Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) is currently the front-runner in the Dems’ nomination contest. Sanders is, of course, an avowed socialist...but, he will immediately add, he’s a democratic socialist. How does a democratic socialist differ from an unmodified socialist? Sanders won’t elucidate. Moreover, every attempt to probe for a difference that makes a difference elicits the conventional Leftist response of attacking the questioner’s motives.

     Historically, when “democratic” socialists rise to power in some land, they maintain a pretense of deference to majority opinion for a while, but are replaced in short order by full-on / conform-or-be-shot authoritarian socialists. That’s the kind that doesn’t give a fig for the consent of the governed. Their attitude is that “We know what’s best so sit down, shut up, and take what we give you.” The most recent progression of this kind was in Venezuela.

     Indeed, even in the “democratic” phase of the disease, if the regime can’t produce an authentic show of majority support, it will contrive to create the appearance of one. Election fraud is the first stage. Voter intimidation follows soon after. And in the sweet rushing fullness of time, the regime begins imprisoning popular dissenters and shutting down organs that dare to criticize the goings-on. At that point the transition to authoritarian socialism has been completed.

     All this is well documented in case after case. However, the aspiring “democratic” socialist will avert all discussion of such naughtiness. He’s different, you see. He cares about “the people,” or “the workers,” or “the marginalized,” or whatever flag he’s chosen to wave for his current campaign. And don’t you dare to differ with him or he’ll call you, in the treasured formulation of an old friend, “everything but white.”

     But the progression will roll on as it always does. He and those who back him really do believe that they know what’s best. If those idiots the voters disagree, well, they’ll just have to be made to accept it. Given time they’ll learn to like it...and if they don’t, well, the regime has all the guns. Disarming the populace is an absolute and indispensable prerequisite to socialism.

     But Americans have made it impossible to disarm us. There are too many of us, we have more guns than any populace in history, and we’ve made it clear that any attempt to take them from us will trigger a civil war. So what’s a socialist to do?

     An old saying that probably originated in some corporate conference room is pertinent here:

If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance,
Baffle ‘em with bullshit.

     Now, bullshit is, in a sense, the universal currency of politics. All politicians, in practical terms, are bullshitters. They might represent themselves as caring about the nation – the smarmier ones will attempt to convince you that they care about you personally – but in point of fact, their highest priority is political advancement: a higher office, more power, grander status and perquisites. The lowliest town clerk will tell you – if you get him drunk enough, at least – that he could run this country better than whoever is currently in the Oval Office. The implications for the character and pretensions of the political animal “should” be “obvious.”

     But socialist bullshit is different – indeed, it differs in kind from conventional political bullshit. Socialist bullshit has major three aims:

  1. To promulgate the fantasy that government can provide you things “for free:”
  2. To obscure the congruity of the speaker’s program with those of all other socialist regimes;
  3. To delegitimize all criticisms and critics of the speaker’s claims by attacking them as evilly motivated.

     The astute observer can see all three of those aims being advanced in the campaign rhetoric of Bernie Sanders. Moreover, they interlock in mutual support: a perfect, highly useful political ideon.

     The first aim, the fantasy of “free stuff,” ought to be the easiest of all to counter. After all, nothing in the material world is free of cost. Anyone who claims otherwise has never been responsible for his own upkeep. Those who claim a “right” to free education, free housing, free healthcare, or what have you are actually claiming they have the “right” to reinstitute slavery, to produce the freebies they demand. But to note that out loud makes you the vilest creature on Earth, and they’ll be sure to say so.

     The second aim is a bit tougher to cope with, but only because Americans’ knowledge of the histories of nations that have lapsed into socialism is meager. There’s quite a lot of history about socialism, but it’s not taught in schools, and the typical American adult’s leisure reading doesn’t cover it...assuming that he reads at all, which many don’t. That leaves a relatively clear field for the socialist campaigner to claim that his version of the ancient evil will “work,” in comparison to all those other “fascist” regimes that falsely wore a socialist label. They “weren’t real socialism,” and once again: don’t you dare to differ with him if you don’t want to be drowned in his venom.

     The third aim – the rhetorical tactic of denouncing the opponent – is extremely tough to counter because the target’s immediate, automatic reaction is to go on the defensive: to deny the vilifications. To this response, the attacker can reply with more lies and an “Oh yeah? Prove it” stance that demands that the target humiliate himself. Moreover, the attacker will often “argue” that his critic must be of low motives and character: “He’s trying to deny you all this free stuff! Why else would he do that?”

     Hearing this must get Demosthenes spinning in his grave fast enough to power Los Angeles. Personally, I would prefer the customs of the Camiroi.

     In effect, the socialist front in the lexical wars is a struggle over the meaning of certain words fundamental to political discourse: most particularly “socialism,” “rights,” and “free.” Bernie Sanders is an active combatant in that war. He gets away with his deceits and concealments routinely, but then, those who have the opportunity to challenge him mostly share his positions and wouldn’t want to see them defeated.

     Sanders has never had to debate anyone who both knows his stuff and is willing to challenge him on specifics. Thomas Sowell would have him bawling within ten minutes. Anyone sufficiently knowledgeable, who possesses the courage required to stand his ground against a flood of vilification, could do so. But actual debates, in which facts matter and a panel of judges decide who has the better arguments, have vanished from use. And in that observation lies the explanation for the inroads socialist promoters have made with our woefully miseducated youth.

Confession: I've Never Gone on a Cruise, and... the possibility seems ever more unlikely.

The cruise industry has been hard hit by contagious diseases in the recent past. Illnesses such as norovirus, which was first identified in 1968, have broken out on cruise ships over the last couple of decades. The disease is sometimes called the Winter Vomiting Bug, and its spread roughly overlaps the most common times for cruises.

Like coronavirus, norovirus can linger on surfaces for weeks (sometimes months). Thorough decontamination is essential to getting rid of it. It spreads quickly, and has been associated with improperly cooked shellfish (which, of course, is a staple on cruise ships).

The impact of coronavirus may well tank many of the mass human transportation industries - planes, boats, and buses. Soft surfaces, such as upholstered seats, are very difficult to clean and disinfect. The military may have less trouble - their transport tends to be stripped down of comfortable seating, which should make sterilizing it easier.

Will that be the end of travel?

Unlikely - Americans have more cars than most of the world. We could ride out a temporary lull in transport of people.

Our packaged goods and tankers can be fairly easily stripped and disinfected. Many truckers own their own cabs, which should limit cross-contamination.

Colleges - the in-person kind - may find themselves ghost towns after this year. Online education - from pre-K through college - should be a gold mine.

The fact that so many industries have gone to virtual positions/work from home in the USA may mean that our economy could withstand this assault by virus easier than much of the world. Teleconferencing is common, both in business and education.

Also, the cleanliness of our food industry is better, from farm to factory to table. With the exception of those Democratic swamps and their lazy acceptance of public defecation, illegal alien influx, and poor government management of the growing health crisis, America may be in better shape to withstand this disease outbreak.

Also, our population is more spread out. We are more likely to live in detached homes, with generous space between them. We are used to 'loading up' on groceries for 2 or more weeks at a time. We have the space for food storage, and more, and better, home refrigeration. Most of us could, if necessary, hunker down for an extended period of time in our living places.

If this coronavirus outbreak hits pandemic level, the Democrats can kiss their immigration issue goodbye. That, alone, should doom their party to near-oblivion in the fall election.

Even without their crazy Leftist candidates.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Crazy Years Are Upon Us

I've written about this before. It has become more and more true, over the last decade.

Examples? Scroll down today's headlines from The Gateway Pundit.

ONE day. ONE website. I could have done this for HUNDREDS of sites, on multiple days. Same result.

We are Living the Crazy Years. They were a lot more fun in fiction.

This Study Seems to Refute the Nudge Effect

Nudge (longer title at link) is a book that was highly influential in how many programs of the Progressive Elite (WE Know Better Than You) were set up. The idea was to "gently nudge" people towards the outcome desired by the Nanny-Staters, rather than being coerced by the Progressive Gestapo.

In some examples - setting up a retirement fund at work, opting-in to email, or agreeing to be an organ donor - making the desired choices a default seemed to increase the likelihood of getting people to make that choice.

Now, there is evidence that - other than irritating most of us - nudging really doesn't work.

The thing is, nudging SEEMS like it SHOULD work. Those who shrink from demanding a specific result - an order or law - would prefer that the individuals would make the preferred choice, whether that be because of enthusiastic agreement, or because it's harder to make a non-preferred choice.

It's Socialism/Leftism, with a Gentle Touch (trademark pending).

But, it doesn't work with everyone. Not even most.

Let me explain why it doesn't with an example from my life.

My first kid was amazing. She was born early, with many medical problems, and - just by that factor - caused me to have a high level of anxiety and stress.

But, she had the most sunny, upbeat, cheerful attitude towards life and all those around her - still does, for that matter. She was the kid in the pediatric ward that they gave to the student nurses to practice on, as she was the most cooperative and easygoing.

A great kid to have as the first child, as I was able to gain confidence in my parental skills.

She didn't really have the Terrible Two's. Even at that age, she was generally not oppositional or difficult. Truly a dream child for a nervous, exhausted first-time parent.

Her brother was a whole other child. If he'd been born first, he'd have been an Only Child.

He was born with a strong sense of what he liked and didn't like. Nudging or coaxing - or trying to - was a waste of time. You couldn't reduce resistance by saying, "Would you like to wear the yellow shirt with the kangaroo, or the blue shirt with the train?" Most of the time, his response was - Neither.

Nudging and coaxing didn't work. Brute force, when necessary (shots had to be given, snowsuit had to be put on, time was an issue), was the only thing that worked. Well, that, and complete capitulation on our part.

But, when we weren't trying to force him to go along with something he definitely didn't want to do, he was a sunny delight. But, you could NOT push, pull, or nudge. He had definite opinions, and he would not budge.

BTW, they both grew up into wonderful adults. My son's son is the one we call Payback. Even though he's not 1/2 as much trouble (which still constitutes a challenge).

My response to the idea that Nudging is the way to go:
Americans are independent people, with strong opinions about the direction of their own life. They are not subjects or serfs. They are CITIZENS. Treat them like that.
All of the above explains why Bernie Sanders is likely to be VERY unpopular with the voters in the fall, as are pretty much all of the other Democratic choices. They all think they know better than American citizens do.

Thinking Outside The Box Dept.

     Great God in heaven, what a morning this is proving to be! First the Wall Street Journal tells us that “avocadoes are violent,” and now we have this:

     After decades of effort and untold millions invested in the search for an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, the disease remains unchecked and rampant. Most recently, the New York Times reported that researchers declared defeat after the failure of yet another experimental drug designed to fight the formation of the disease’s signature amyloid plaque in the brain.

     But according to Shlomi Raz, CEO and founder of biomedical startup, Eleusis, the problem with conventional, single-target approaches to Alzheimer’s is that they don’t take into account the multiple dysregulated processes in the disease’s complex pathobiology.

     And Raz’s company’s approach to the disease is anything but conventional.

     Eleusis is investigating the anti-inflammatory potential of psychedelics as medicines, specifically the application of sub-perceptual doses of LSD in halting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest detectable stage.

     “Forbes: Capitalist Tool!” indeed.

     I assume a “sub-perceptual” dose would not trigger the hallucinations and fantasies characteristic of an acid trip...but it’s just an assumption. The brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers could react in a completely different fashion. But considering the disorientation and terror that Alzheimer’s patients are known to experience, the trip might prove salutary anyway. Only one way to find out, as they say.

You’re Not Crazy, It’s The Rest Of The World Dept.

     This might not strike you as news, but there are...persons, many of them walking about unconfined and unsupervised, who aren’t quite aligned with reality as we know it. Most don’t commit horrific crimes, or defraud millions of people, or even run for office. Yet to encounter one of them can be a jarring experience.

     As I avoid other people almost as assiduously as I skirt open cesspools, my typical day is free of such occurrences. However, as a news junkie I’m at perpetual risk of encountering a story about one of them, possibly including an unguarded statement or two the reporter thought colorful. Mostly I’m braced for such collisions, but to find one in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, threw me for a loop:

     “You can’t be vegan if you eat avocados,” said a teenage brother to his sister in a family that I know. “Avocados are violent.”

     That boy was left unnamed for good and sufficient reasons. He probably attends a government-run school. Possibly even the one that confines your spratlings several hours per day. And his parents might be neighbors to you or someone you love. Think about it.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Easy Way

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. Yes, I took yesterday off and said nothing about it. However, I hadn’t intended to take yesterday off. In fact, I only realized that I was doing so when 7:00 PM rolled around, I was comfortably ensconced in front of the Rangers / Hurricanes game, and realized that I still hadn’t written the day’s tirade. These things do happen.

     Anyway, before I light off on the day’s serious subject, a few words about blogging and the history thereof. Blogs – originally, “weblogs” – emerged shortly after Web programmers discovered the Common Gateway Interface (CGI), which made it possible to craft a Website that accepts reader input. A few people immediately made use of the original Blogspot facility (since taken over by Google), Wordpress and other blogging-software companies got into the act, and a phenomenon was born. At its peak approximately 60 million blogs festooned the Web. Not long after that, the great majority of blog proprietors discovered that they had little inclination to write and little to say that anyone else cared to read.

     There are still blogs, of course, though not as many as there were back when it was the “in thing.” Among the ones that have persisted, there are many special-interest blogs that confine themselves to one subject (e.g., knitting or cooking), a bunch of rant’n’ravers that exist mainly to vent the proprietors’ spleen, and a number of serious ones that purvey thoughtful analysis and commentary. It is in the nature of things that the last category should be the smallest of them.

     Those serious-commentary sites are the sort I prefer to read. But it is also in the nature of things that they don’t come banging on my door demanding attention. So when I stumble over one, it’s always a delightful surprise...and courtesy of Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman, I have a fresh entry for my reading list:

     Dare we say it, but Europe has a problem. Good old Europe, ancestral home to many of us, is in serious trouble. Not only has it lost Great Britain but its Eastern front is none too happy with the weak sisters of the West. To be more specific, while Western countries struggle to assimilate unassimilable Muslims, the East has closed its doors to migration… and thus, to looting, pillaging, raping and murder.

     As though this were not bad enough, the Trump administration has called out the countries of NATO as freeloaders, as weaklings who depend for their defense on the American military.

     It is not just a question of European nations paying their allotted share of the NATO budget. More importantly, it’s about whether any of them would fight to defend a Baltic nation, for instance, against a Russian incursion.

     Schneiderman quotes Walter Russell Mead on the specifics of Europe’s inanition:

     Europeans often contrast the “nationalism” of backward political cultures like Russia, China and the U.S. with their own supposedly enlightened attitude of cosmopolitan solidarity. Yet if these numbers are accurate, Europeans haven’t replaced nationalism with European solidarity. They have replaced nationalism with fantasy: the belief that one can have security and prosperity without a strong defense.

     That vision leaves Europe vulnerable, and it is threatening to let the West unravel. European leaders believe they are trading parochial loyalties for higher and broader commitments, when in truth their countries lack the solidarity that makes international order possible. Those who dream that they can have security without the willingness to fight for it are slowly turning NATO into the paper tiger that its enemies hope it will become.

     Oh, indeed...but this is not news. Nor is the mechanism at all obscure. We – the United States of America – collaborated in bringing it about. And in keeping with the ancient maxim that “They who are not punished for their sins will surely be punished by them,” today it’s biting us on the ass.

     Let’s have one more snippet from Walter Russell Mead’s essay: specifically, his conclusion:

     This problem won’t be easy to solve. For many Europeans, the essential purpose of European integration was to end war. For centuries, the restless nationalisms of European peoples plunged the Continent into one wretched war after another. The European Union was meant to bury those national antagonisms and end the cycle of war. To love Europe was to enter a posthistorical age of perpetual peace. For voters who grew up in the European cocoon, the military defense of European ideas sounds like a contradiction in terms. How can you build peace by making war?

     In contrast, Americans continue to believe that Europe is worth defending. We must hope that over the next few years more Europeans will come around to that position; otherwise, the prospects for “Westlessness” will only grow.

     There’s a fair amount of question-begging in the above. The key assertions:

  • Nationalism plunged Europe into one wretched war after another.
  • Americans believe that Europe is worth defending.
  • The problem won’t be easy to solve.

     All three of those claims are eminently disputable. However, the last of them (which is actually the first statement in the cited snippet) is the most important of the lot, for it eludes the question of the hour:

What’s “the problem,” really?

     Mark Sherman doesn’t see one – at least, not one that demands a solution of the sort Mead would favor:

     The answer is to let Europe go. It is past time to update our allies and let go of those old alliances which cannot hope to provide real protection going forward. We need to drop Europe and look more to the Anglosphere. This means not just walking away from NATO but cutting US ties and our role in the UN and the other international agencies. We need to recreate those same functions which have been corrupted within a new international entity focused on Anglospheric concerns and goals.

     I concur: it is time to “let Europe go.” Virtually from the conclusion of hostilities in 1945, Washington’s political elite worked to turn the Old World into an American welfare client. It was the doing of George Marshall, Dean Acheson, Charles Bohlen, and others in the Truman Administration to render Europe dependent upon the United States. Whether it was their conscious aim cannot be definitively answered, but the worst consequence of their policies – the military infantilization of Europe – is indisputable today.

     There was a Transatlantic constituency for those policies. I hope I need not enumerate the many institutions, public and private, that garnered departmental, provincial, or institutional benefits from encouraging the process. Suffice it to say that until the tax burden on ordinary Americans began to swell uncomfortably – say, during Lyndon Johnson’s second term – very few persons not in the political elite or some allied organization were much concerned with NATO and what it was doing to Europe.

     NATO’s cost to the United States as a percentage of Defense Department spending peaked in 1988 when it brushed 50%. It may be a smaller percentage today, but the absolute cost has only increased. Throughout, the nations of Europe have free-ridden on our defense commitment. They funneled the funds they would otherwise have spent on their own militaries into their welfare states.

     Needless to say (though, as is my wont, I shall say it anyway), there would be considerable resistance to the notion of extracting America from NATO, especially from the political class. Some of the objectors would claim that an American withdrawal from the Atlantic Alliance would leave Europe defenseless. Certainly a Europe suddenly wholly bereft of American arms would present a tempting target to Russia. But our extraction from the defense of the Old World need not be a swordstroke. It can be phased in, if sufficient resolve is applied to making sure it happens.

     Some of the resistance would be of this form:

     “You don’t remove someone from an alliance,” General Barcena said. “It’s simply...not done. Everyone needs allies!” [John Ringo, The Hot Gate]

     I have no doubt a State Department careerist, and no small number of the political appointees therein, would say exactly that. But that which is “not done” can be done – and in this case, it must. No other measure would compel the nations of Europe to fulfill their responsibilities to themselves. They’ve shirked those responsibilities for several decades, preferring to fund month-long vacations and outrageously early retirement on government pensions for their workers, while they pacify their unemployed and shiftless with generous welfare payments.

     Americans might like Europeans “in a general ‘they seem like nice people’ sort of way” – John Ringo again – but we’re hardly more inclined to foster international good-for-nothings than we are to coddle our native variety. Not to mention that among the unanticipated consequences of Transatlantic military welfarism are envy and resentment: a steady increase in the willingness of Europeans – with the smiling concurrence of their political elites – to blame America for every condition, and every development, they find not to their tastes. Were it necessary for Europe to work to stay on our good side, they might talk smack about us a good deal less.

     We could choose the easy way. We could cover our eyes and refuse to see the real problem – Transatlantic welfarism and the concomitant infantilization of Europe – in favor of a stubborn insistence that we must defend “our allies” as we have done since 1945. But that course is no longer tolerable in the face of the aggression of Russia to the east and the Islamic states to the southeast. Europe must be made to take its defense into its own hands.

     Muad’Dib tells us “The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.” And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning “That path leads ever down into stagnation.” [Frank Herbert, Dune]

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Get 'Chur Popcorn!

Oberlin College is cutting back (Go Woke, Go Broke).

Now, I used to live in Ohio. I attended some teacher professional development courses (BEFORE the Wokeness fully hit). Our family enjoyed the town (yes, we did shop at Gibsons). There used to be a cheap movie house, very nice. The parks were beautiful, and the faculty (mostly science and math) were very good.

It's entirely possible that Oberlin may, indeed, go out of business. It's happened to a lot of schools recently. Bernie's wife presided over the destruction of Burlington College (although, to be fair, it had a very small endowment, and the staff was WAY overpaid - including her).

But, this is a signal. A LOT of Leftist institutions are gonna implode over the next few months/years. Expect a huge growth in Formerly Elite Bums hitting the streets - not to beg, but to DEMAND that we compensate them.


Like that's gonna happen.

Abuse of Foreign Interpreters Program

I hadn't been aware of this - it needs to stop immediately.

Your Thursday Jumble

     And a jumble it is, Gentle Reader. An embarras des richesses! For the “Future Columns” folder is bursting at the seams, and I am disinclined to slough any of the entries. So pour yourself another mugful, silence your cell phone – no texting during the performance, it disturbs the other patrons – and sit back.

Russian Collusion Follies: The Denouement

     Apparently, our supposedly crack investigators aren’t good at keeping track of stuff:

     Concerning which Ragin’ Dave has a few thoughts:

     Oh, I believe that those documents no longer exist, but they were "lost" in the same way that I happened to "lose" my virginity as a teen-age boy.

     Nor should we expect any of the Feebs to be held accountable:

     Given how every single Democrat connected FBI person has skated on the multiple crimes they committed, there is absolutely zero chance that anyone will actually be punished for their "failures", which is to say their deliberate actions undertaken to cover up the larger crimes they committed in service to the Democrat party.

     Sadly, I must concur.

“Neoconservative” NeverTrumpers.

     Ace has a few words to say:

     "Neocons" were disillusioned Democrats who objected to their party's excesses.

     But never the basic philosophy or priorities. Just the excesses.

     The neocons remade the Republican Party into something that Democrats could join -- and control.

     Now that we've taken their control away from them, and begun turning our backs on their preferred Democrat priorities for the GOP, they abandon it.

     It was never anything more than a refuge of convenience for them.

     Indeed, Ace’s characterization is close of that of the late William E. Simon, in his blockbuster political Jeremiad A Time for Truth. In that book, he referred to neoconservatives as “anti-Communists of a New Deal stripe.” John F. Kennedy would have qualified as one, had he lived through Lyndon Johnson’s term in office. But JFK would not have approved of Trump, a parvenu from outside the political class, unequipped with a Kennedy School of Government degree, whose emphasis is on reducing the power of the federal Leviathan, especially that of the unaccountable alphabet agencies. Don’t expect a diehard Democrat to agree with any of that, though.

“They don’t like us,” says Maine...

     Ace also has a few things to say about the attitudes of the Old World toward the U.S. of A.:

     Europeans have always hated and resented America. They may have had a marginally higher opinion of America when Obama was president, but that was most likely because his view of America was closer to theirs. That is, America had No Right to tower over all of the other nations of the world as it so clearly does, so the entire purpose of the Obama presidency was to bring America down to the level of the rest of the world, to handicap, kneecap, and hobble the American people and the American economy until we're just another shabby little socialist country. Europeans are Our Betters and we should strive to be more like them....

     This how I think about it: the world is like high school writ large. And America, meaning the United States of America, is the most popular student in school who is also a 3-letter sports jock with rugged good looks and, on top of that, is a straight 'A' student. All of the girls think he's just dreamy and of course he gets his pick of the hottest cheerleaders. Naturally, someone like this is going to stir up a lot of resentment from ankle-biters who aren't as good or as successful as he is, and there's nothing they'd like more than to see him brought down, or at least lower.

     An accurate appraisal, in my estimation. Once again, the magic word is envy. Watch for it among the losers you encounter. And be sure to wash your hands afterward.

     (NB: The title of this segment is a line from Archibald MacLeish’s poem “Colloquy for the States.”)

“Haven’t we done that already?”

     In many ways, the political struggles of the century behind us are about the efforts of a self-nominated elite – the political class, if you like – to gain power for itself and to barricade itself in place irremovably. Populism, frequent identified with the political ascendancy of Donald Trump, is their mortal foe. And so they have instructed their media cat’s-paws to argue for more authority for the elite!

     Only a fraction of the Democratic primary electorate has voted so far, but the nomination season is off to a rocky start. Independent Bernie Sanders seems to be leading in popular votes, while upstart Pete Buttigieg is ahead in the delegate count. And there’s also the question of whether either one — or any of the other candidates — can bring the party together moving forward.

     The current process is clearly flawed, but what would be better? Finding an answer means thinking about the purpose of presidential nominations, and about how the existing system falls short. It will require swimming against the tide of how we’ve thought about nominations for decades — as a contest between everyday voters and elites, or as a smaller version of a general election. A better primary system would empower elites to bargain and make decisions, instructed by voters.

     One lesson from the 2020 and 2016 election cycles is that a lot of candidates, many of whom are highly qualified and attract substantial followings, will inevitably enter the race. The system as it works now — with a long informal primary, lots of attention to early contests and sequential primary season that unfolds over several months — is great at testing candidates to see whether they have the skills to run for president. What it’s not great at is choosing among the many candidates who clear that bar, or bringing their different ideological factions together, or reconciling competing priorities. A process in which intermediate representatives — elected delegates who understand the priorities of their constituents — can bargain without being bound to specific candidates might actually produce nominees that better reflect what voters want.

     There it is, Gentle Reader: plain as a fart, from an organ that has the slogan “Democracy Dies In Darkness” at the top of its front page, in every single issue. Talk about a masks-are-off moment! But wait: there’s more! We’ve already been there and done that:

     The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

     Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

     The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

     The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

     That was Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution before all amendments. Read it closely. There was to be no popular participation in the selection of the president or the vice-president. The state legislatures had full discretion over whom to send to the Electoral College, and each elector had full discretion concerning whom he would support. Indeed, no aspect of citizen participation in the election of the president was enforced upon the states until the Twenty-Fourth Amendment was ratified – in 1961! Even today, Constitutional scholars argue about whether the states are bound to appoint presidential electors by popular vote.

     Mind you, it wasn’t a bad system. It gave us presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, among others. But it bore no slightest trace of “democracy.”

If You Support Mike Bloomberg For President... should be aware of what he inflicted or tried to inflict upon New York City:

     Democrat presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg banned, or attempted to ban, far more than just large sodas during his dozen years as mayor of New York City, according to a list published on the eve of his departure from office....

     The majority of bans fell into one of three categories: smoking, transportation and food/beverage – but, music, grass clippings and heating oils were also targeted, the list reveals. By general category, the bans addressed the following areas of New Yorkers’ lives:

     Read it all. If you find that you approve of the Tiny Tyrant’s nannyist agenda, stay well away from me and keep your hands where I can see them.

On The Second Amendment Front.

     Bloomberg’s crusade against the firearms rights of private citizens has dipped a toe into the waters of Arizona, one of the most firearms-friendly states in the Union. Here’s how the popular reaction to that looks:

     RECOIL and OFFGRID dispatched editors to the Arizona state capitol on Saturday, covering the day's pro Second Amendment rally held by the Arizona Citizens' Defense League. Following events in VA, where the peaceful gathering of thousands of armed citizens passed off without incident and yet was still spun by the media as being overrun with white supremacist militias, we wanted to make sure this wasn't also misrepresented.

     What we saw was more of the same. Americans of all creeds, colors, backgrounds and sexual orientations were peaceably assembled, in order to demonstrate their love of freedom, and this country we call home. What was especially noticeable was the number of people in their twenties, which gives us hope that once the current crop of stereotypical old fat white guys dies off, (us included,) the Second Amendment will be in the hands of a generation that's just as motivated and vocal.

     The crowd size fluctuated throughout the four hour event as people joined and left, but to our untrained eyes seemed to hover around the three thousand mark, which was a huge increase over years past. Motivated no doubt by the introduction of SB1625 to the Senate, which would have brought the usual rag bag of Bloomberg-sponsored infringements to one of the most pro-2A states in the nation, Arizonans showed up in force.

     The majority open carried firearms ranging from a belt-mounted derringer, to a HMMWV-mounted Ma Deuce. And nothing happened. Well, that's not strictly true. Speakers spoke, the audience cheered, and people chatted with strangers, standing on a lawn in the sunshine, united in their appreciation of the republic in which we live.

     God bless and keep them. Please go to the article and relish the many pictures. They’re a heart-lifting sight. I really must renew my subscription to RECOIL magazine.

Owners’ Manuals.

     They’re not light reading...and I mean that literally:

     The new vehicle did have the manual with it; the thing is 500 pages due to the size and format.

     Firehand may own that vehicle for a long time before he’s read the whole book. I haven’t read the whole book for my 2011 Mercedes S550 – and there are controls in the cabin I still haven’t figured out. But that’s the nature of the overly technologized automobile in this year of Our Lord 2020. As for smartphones...maybe I shouldn’t start.

To Lift Him Out Of Dependency:

     ...give him a car:

     In a recent paper, David King of Arizona State University, Michael Smart of Rutgers University and Michael Manville of UCLA cited the legendary urbanist Mel Weber on the importance of facilitating sufficient mobility for low-income citizens: “Our central mission is to redress the social inequities thrown up by widespread auto use, and our central task is to invent ways of extending the benefits of auto-like transportation to those who are presently carless.”...

     Weber’s advice may seem surprising to the general public, which might imagine that transit provides sufficient mobility to low-income citizens. Transportation planning agencies report the percentage of households living “near transit” as an indicator of transit effectiveness, using measures such as a half mile from a transit stop.

     For example,, ranks the Los Angeles metropolitan transit system as 6th best in the United States, out of 186. indicates that 88.8% workers live “near transit” in Los Angeles. Yet, only 5.0% of Los Angeles commuters use transit. This speaks volumes as to the value of being “near transit” (Figure 1). Barely one in 18 commuters living “near transit” considers transit to be good enough to use instead of cars. Indeed, now nearly 97% of Los Angeles commuters have vehicles available, while the share of workers having no auto access dropped by nearly 18% from 2010 to 2018....

     The reality is that “nearness” to transit does not mean that low-income residents have anything resembling automobile mobility. It seems universal auto access in these communities, would lead to less unemployment, less poverty and higher standards of living. This would benefit both lower-income households in particular and the metropolitan economy in general.

     It’s a rare district where mass transit facilitates adequate mobility for its less-well-off residents. But mass transit, like many other left-wing totem objects, is a critical element in the “Herd ‘em all into the cities” agenda of the Left. The denser a population is, the more services its people will allow the local government to collectivize and control – and that is a source of great power for the government, to say nothing of the riches it can bring the governors and their hangers-on.

     If someone you love or admire is struggling financially, in part because he has no car, give him one. A beater, of course. He’ll get back on his feet, put a few nickels together, and find a better one in due time...and he’s quite likely to “pay it forward.” Trust me on this; I’ve been there.


     Interviews of job candidates often include the question “Where do you see yourself in five / ten years?” The Feral Irishman provides an off-axis perspective:

     Oh my, yes. Long-term plans are fodder for dreamers. On any typical day I’m just trying to make it to bedtime in one piece – and that was just as true before I retired. I’d imagine most of us would say the same.

     Long-range planning is for projects, not people – and even with projects, the central importance of a plan is that it helps the people engaged in the project to recognize when things must change:

  • When they realize that the plan failed to account for something important;
  • When changing conditions force adjustments upon them;
  • When contributions from new participants reveal a better way.

     Life plans (and planners) are little more than a New Year’s Eve punchline.

A Plaint.

     This isn’t exactly news, but there’s a war going on against men, masculinity, and the inculcation of the masculine virtues in American boys. It’s had terrible effects already, despite significant resistance from the wise and the experienced. Here’s one woman’s rebuff of the vicious notion of “toxic masculinity:”

     I never thought we would reach a point where it was commonplace to hear social commentators, journalists and presidential candidates awfulize boys and men — our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons — simply because they are male. There were always those fringe women’s studies professors and radical feminists who made their living by hating on men but I couldn’t have imagined that such ugliness would infect the public discourse and be lauded as brave, let alone enlightened.

     It is not enlightened. In fact, it is woefully uninformed. And it is cruel.

     We hear the word “toxic” constantly, often followed by the word “masculinity.” Sometimes these men-haters throw in “problematic,” “misogyny” and “mansplaining” too. But having lived almost half a century, it is clear to me that toxicity has little to do with gender and everything to do with character and behavior.

     The article is brief, and worth reading in its entirety. However, the author stops by condemning her targeted notion without addressing the wherefores. How did this garbage get started? What sustains it in the face of its open and obvious counterfactuality?

     The answer is simple: It’s politically useful.

     Identity politics, the core of the Democrats’ strategy, requires the encouragement of identity groups: “Uses” that must be counterpoised to “Thems.” To maximize its take of the “women’s vote” requires that it get women to see themselves as a group whose interests clash with those of men. Therefore, women must be made to view men as “The Enemy.”

     There’s another aspect to it that’s even more ominous. Male decision making tends to be individualistic, arising from the man’s individual priorities and perspectives. Female decision making tends to be collectivistic, anchored to what her circle of relatives, friends, and associates hold as consensus. Thus, to subjugate men’s decisions to women’s decision making approach would be a colossal victory for the collectivistic Left. If men could be bludgeoned into renouncing their individualism for the sake of sexual access and / or domestic harmony...get the picture?

     Yes, some men have succumbed. But not all. Indeed, not most. And men’s resistance to the Left’s employment of Lysistrata-like tactics grows day by day.

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. Work of several other kinds beckons. Enjoy your Thursday.