Thursday, April 30, 2020

Products That are NOT Made in China

Someone with the tech knowledge needs to make an app that allows you to type in a description of a product, and will pop up those NOT made in China. I know many people - myself included - would gladly pay for such an easy way to filter our shopping to weed out the Bad Actors.

In the meantime, if you - like me - are looking for a new smartphone, here's some possibilities.

If anyone knows of a non-Apple alternative laptop battery (MacBook 11"), put it into the comments. Mine is on life support - and, because of the shopping in person restrictions, I can't get an appointment to have it done at the store.

Some of those products have financing sold through our stock market - and, many of them are heavily tied to pension investing. This has to stop ASAP - divest from China, and re-direct the funds to American companies.

Not just American Companies in Name Only (ACNO) - that would be Smithfield, for one, a meat packer that is controlled by China. And, HAPPENSTANTIALLY, closed down several pork processing plants recently, citing C-19 infection.

This, of course, would have NOTHING to do with the fact that China is trying to re-build their pork export industry after it had to kill off many pigs, in the wake of an animal infection of African Swine Flu.

Yeah. Just an amazing coincidence.

Ruled By Criminals Part 2: Your Papers, Please!

     Everyone has secrets, right? Everyone has done something he’d rather that others never know. And everyone has motives that are, on the odd occasion, less than perfectly praiseworthy.

     But ought we to allow high officials and government agencies to have secrets? To allow people with power over you to have secrets seems illimitably dangerous. Governments and those within them wield coercive force. They claim immunity from penalty for the use of that force, under a notion that goes back to the days of the absolute monarch: “sovereign immunity.”

     Of course, in the Land of the Formerly Free, that immunity vanishes if it turns out that the official had exceeded his authority, or had used it for venal purposes. Such instances expose the official to the same sort of indictment and trial that a commoner would face. However, as long as the official can credibly claim to have been honestly mistaken – perhaps misled by others with lower motives than his – he’ll get away with just about any infamy. The same goes for cops.

     What endangers the corrupt or tyrannical official beyond all else is his paper trail. If there are records that would expose his corruption or tyranny, he will take pains to conceal them – to destroy them, if it lies within his power. The possibility of having them officially classified as secrets is often his best defense.

     And what have we here?

     Joe Biden’s sexual assault accuser, Tara Reade, is calling for the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee and former senator to authorize the University of Delaware to release locked-away staff records pertaining to his 36 years in the Senate.

     In interviews this week, she said these records may contain the official complaint form she filed after Biden allegedly sexually assaulted her in 1993.

     “I’m calling for the release of the documents being held by the University of Delaware that contain Biden’s staff personnel records because I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents,” she said Tuesday to Fox News.

     “Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light — why are they under seal? And why won’t they be released to the public?”

     How can we permit evidence of a sexual assault – a United States Senator’s digital penetration of an unwilling woman! – to be “sealed away” for any reason? What’s the rationale for “sealing” paperwork that lodges complaints against powerful officials? Isn’t this the exact reverse of the rule of law?

     Yes, I’m laughing too.

     Of course, the antiquated notion that no one is above the law fell into desuetude some time ago. These days “the rule of law” is merely a bit of rhetoric one side of an argument occasionally finds useful as a bludgeon or a distraction. It has no real force when a member of the political elite comes under public scrutiny.

     Remember Barack Hussein Obama’s success at concealing all record of his years at Columbia University? Assuming he was ever there in reality, that is. No one who was there during his supposed years in attendance could remember him at all: not professors, not staffers, and not classmates. His matriculation records would have been of great interest to the public…but Columbia claimed it could not release them without Obama’s assent, which (of course) he withheld.

     Perhaps this only works in one direction. When Obama first ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, his initial Republican opponent was Jack Ryan, a man of many achievements and sterling character. However, Ryan had one weak point: he’d once been married to starlet Jeri Ryan, she of the impressive bosom and minimal acting talent. The two had gone through a contentious divorce. The records of that divorce were sealed by mutual consent under a judge’s order, to protect their children from a barrage of innuendo…but Obama’s handmaidens in the Illinois press persuaded a judge to open them. The consequences included Ryan’s withdrawal from the race and the unaccomplished and relatively unknown Obama’s election over emergency replacement Republican candidate Alan Keyes.

     It appears that some public figures have a right to conceal their records that others lack.

     The degree of evil that occurs under official seal cannot be accurately known. It can only be estimated from what manages to seep out through those seals. While that’s a greater amount today than ever before, we cannot reliably infer from it how much (or how serious) remains safely concealed. There may be little or there may be much.

     All of it, whatever its volume or magnitude, rests on the notion that a public official is allowed to keep secrets the rest of us could never manage to conceal. Under that scheme a man who was for 36 years a United States Senator, the chairman of several important committees including the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is now a major party’s nominee for the presidency, just might get away with rape. To thrust your fingers into the orifice of an unwilling woman is rape; be in no doubt about it. If records of Tara Reade’s complaint against Biden still exist, they would constitute nearly irreproachable confirmation of the event. But we are being denied all knowledge of them.

     Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee vacillates over whether it must offer the American electorate Joseph Biden as its candidate for the most powerful office in the world. Stay tuned.

     (For further criminality behind a veneer of public service, see this tale of the FBI’s deliberate entrapment of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, and the subsequent concealment of the evidence that would exonerate him.)

Grateful Day

I woke up a few minutes ago - normally, I don't sleep in this late (7 am), but I had a tough night. The rain that had been hovering around all day finally fell, taking with it the power. My sweet husband had just happened to buy some battery-operated bulbs that had a hook attached; he was able to put a few up to light the way to the bathroom.

We sometimes forget just how dark the world can get at night. Without streetlights and all of the electronic devices blinking in the dark, it was black, indeed. I'd have loved it, if it were not for the aching in my joints. Rain, or any weather reversal that brings about an air pressure change, is hard on arthritis.

But, when I woke again, after going back to bed, the lights were on.

There is a reason that electric lights are a hallmark of modern civilization; like many mammals more active in the daytime, we see poorly at night. The world is filled after dark with menacing shapes lurking around the edge of our vision. We can't perform our normal activities in the dark - no reading, needlework, or visual stimulus beyond poorly seen shadows.

It's a quiet time, and, yet, if you step outdoors, it's noisy with the movement of predators, and the swoop of owls on the hunt. In the dark, when much water vapor lingers in the air, sounds don't travel at quite the same speed, lending an eerie, other-worldly atmosphere.

We are daytime critters; the dawn brings us a grateful optimism for the events of the day. All seems possible at dawn.

I have a full fridge, a roof over my head, sufficient money to ease our shutdown, and family and friends. Others are not so lucky. But, this morning, I am optimistic that this will end soon.

So, I have hope for our country. Today, at least.

Yesterday, I watched Jeopardy; the final question was based on the last words of an 18th century novel.
Today’s Final Jeopardy question (4/29/2020) in the category “19th Century Novels” was:
Its first line ends, “the period was so far like the present period…for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only”
 I bet my husband that both of the women would get it, but not the man - which was correct. I knew the answer (I love that book in high school), but my husband did not remember it.

The full line (which is also the first paragraph) is:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
That line, and much of the chicanery of the ruling class, reminds me of our own uneasy and troubled times. We volley from hope to despair as we listen to the news that ruling class permits us to hear. Those Elites, those 'anointed' ones, those whose entire life is designed to prepare them to take their near-hereditary place in our society - they are simultaneously ignoring the real pain their restrictions have placed on the 'rabble', and pretending that they are suffering, just like us.

I understand that Marie Antoinette and her friends used to play at being peasants, dressing up in milkmaid costume, and living that life - in her spare time, and with none of the dreary parts - actual work, exposure to disease, hunger and such.

Sounds a lot like the Instagram and Twitter antics of the celebrities and politicians that want us to know "We're in this together".

Kind of.

Hidden Question: What is A Tale of Two Cities?

A Laugh For Your Walpurgisnacht

     Go ahead, enjoy it. What else is there to do at this hour?

     …at least we have one thing to be thankful for in these trying times: That Joe Biden, way back in 1993, seems to have fearlessly brought sex into the digital age. I wonder what would have happened if John D. Rockefeller had digitally penetrated Ida Tarbell back in the day. [Christopher Chantrill, at American Thinker]

     And remember: Only six shopping months to go till Hallowe’en!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Quickies: I Can’t Say Exactly Why…

     …but this flicked me on the raw:

     I’ve just received a solicitation from this firm for its first anthology. It bills itself thus:

     The name ‘Hidden Voice Publishing’ reflects the essential need to make our collective stories and voices heard and that is what we hope to do with this publication. In this world, there are dominant voices that always seem to speak the loudest. These voices are homogenous, and they often control the narratives in which we are all framed. Within in the pages of this collection, you will instead find Hidden Voices that also believe that they have something to say. These are the voices that no longer wish to be invisible and the voices that demand to be noticed. The world in 2019 can be a bleak place and many of us often feel unseen and unheard. Take the stories in these pages to your heart; stand with us to fight for our freedoms and celebrate our differences.

     And I, who have done my best to write about human sexual differences with sympathy and delicacy, found that I was seriously offended.

     “Hidden voices” -- ? Great God in heaven, they’re damned near the only “voices” the media have allowed us to hear! They do their best to suppress any point of view that denies them total approval to the point of obsequiousness! This is especially the case in fiction. If your novel dares to express even a gentle difference of opinion with these sexual emissionaries, they’re immediately all over you like a cheap suit, demanding that you be silenced!

     When I receive “reviews” that go like this:

Intolerant Rubbish

     I normally don't review books that I don't finish, but I'm making an exception this time. I made it about a third of the way in. Story and characters ok. But then the author needs some unreasonable conflict for a character to stand up against. I can only hope that the author doesn't someday find herself in a disliked minority, finally, FINALLY finding some measure of tolerance. Turning the trans community into objects of yet more ridicule. To defend the position that "they all just need mental health counseling to accept who they are" is unbelievable. It may turn out to be a minor scene in the book, but I ain't sticking around to find out. Do not support this author. I can't state strongly enough how offensive I find this portrayal.

     …and get reams of hate mail from that “reviewer’s” ideological fellow-travelers, I become incensed. And so I cry:

You Demanded Tolerance.
You Have Achieved It.

     Apologies, Gentle Reader. I suppose I can say exactly why; after all, I just did. Sometimes my Irish rises and I have to vent. But I’m tired of it all – tired enough that I sometimes wish we hadn’t given “them” that first inch. If that’s unworthy of me, so be it. I’m no saint.

Ruled By Criminals

     First, an instructive and inspiring graphic:

     I hope that seems “obvious” to you, Gentle Reader – but not because everyone who might ever see it would say so. You see, a great many Americans have bought into the scam that “the King can do no wrong:” what jurists have called “sovereign immunity.” My hope is that anyone intelligent enough to read the drivel I post here has not yet succumbed to that fantasy.

     But the matter demands more than an off-the-cuff observation at which many people would shrug.

     The rise of criminals to the corridors of power is inherent in the dynamic of power-seeking. There is simply no possibility of designing and implementing a government that lacks that tendency. While this cannot be mathematically proved, history tells us that the rate of confirmation is nearly 100% — and that the exceptions were all governments toppled from outside, by an invading force.

     Does that sound like an argument for anarchism? It could be read that way – but anarchism is also unstable. Sooner or later it will birth one or more governments. I’ve written to this effect before:

     [W]hereas [Which Art In Hope] was principally concerned with a moral-ethical problem an anarchic society would find supremely difficult to face, the later one moved in a somewhat different direction: an exploration of the most insidious of all the processes known to operate among men: the rise of power politics. Freedom’s Fury continues in the direction Freedom’s Scion undertook to follow.
     I shan’t attempt to deceive or misdirect you: I’m horrified by politics and all its fruits. I consider the use of coercive force against innocent men the greatest of all the evils we know. But I try, most sincerely, to be realistic about the world around us. In that world, peopled by men such as ourselves, anarchism—the complete abjuration and avoidance of the State—is unstable. In time, it will always give way to politics. Hammer it to the earth as many times as you may, you will never succeed in killing it permanently. The State will rise again.

     As Friedrich Hayek observed in The Road to Serfdom, the desire for power and the willingness to do anything to get and keep it are strongest in those who would abuse it. So with the passage of enough time, the corridors of power will be filled by criminals. Worse, let a little more time go by, and the lesser criminals will be replaced by the greater ones: strong-armers, rapists, and murderers.

     Think Ruby Ridge and Waco.

     “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” – Eric Hoffer

     The progression of government corruption is simple enough that I feel no qualms about presenting it schematically, as a list of stages:

  1. A government is formed around a set of moral-ethical principles that command overwhelming, perhaps even near-unanimous concurrence.
  2. That government begins to operate.
  3. Persons inside the government notice opportunities for personal enrichment, aggrandizement, or both. Some of them seek to use the powers of the State to attain those things: perhaps legally, perhaps not. Other persons, aflame with passion for some Cause, seek to use the powers of the State to advance it: again, perhaps legally, perhaps not.
  4. Persons outside the government notice the above processes taking place. Some protest against it; others shrug it off as the way of the world; still others scheme to “get in on the gravy train.”
  5. Persons inside and outside the government who have compatible goals eventually come together and agree on “deals.” In the deal-making, larger amounts of money will prevail over smaller ones. Those deals will almost always contravene the law and the moral-ethical principles on which the government was founded.
  6. Eventually, in a process similar to blackmail, those inside the government transform their outside collaborators into servants compelled to conform to their agendas, regardless of the costs imposed on those outside. While such machinations may possess a veneer of legality and contentions about the “public good,” these become steadily less sincere and more cosmetic.
  7. Over time, the less scrupulous will rise through the use of their wider arrays of means: first to displace the more scrupulous, then to make themselves immune from removal. (“When force is made the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket.” – Ayn Rand)
  8. Also over time, the sense of immunity from consequences persuades the governors that they can break any law as blatantly as they like. (Cf. Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, etc.)
  9. Such a government will perpetuate itself unless and until it rots from internal strife too greatly to endure popular pressure (Cf. Ferdinand Marcos’s Philippines).

     As I’ve already said, one cannot prove that this will happen…but the sole cases in which it hasn’t have been governments toppled from outside, by an aggressive invading force.

     I’m mainly concerned about America, of course. While we haven’t yet descended to the level of a banana republic, the process here has gone far enough that we’ve already elected a credibly-accused rapist to the presidency. Moreover, that president’s party is about to nominate another credibly accused rapist, demonstrably complicit in international corruption on a stunning scale, for the same office.

     However, other nations’ experiences should be taken into consideration. The pattern suggests that in the absence of an aggressive external force, we can expect all the following:

  • If there are multiple levels of government, power and funding will be sucked upward, toward the highest – ultimately the national – level. Lower-level governments will be gradually stripped of all independent authority and autonomy, eventually to become mere administrative units of the national government.
  • At every level of government, power will be drawn into the executive from the other branches. The executive can do this because it possesses greater mobility and commands the means of enforcement (that’s inherent in the nature of an executive).
  • Within the executive, power will be pulled upward: within departments, toward their respective heads; overall, toward the titular head of state.

     The end result is a “strongman” state, in which a Maximum Leader is the sole source of authority. Whoever else seeks to be part of such a government must perpetually reassure the tyrant of his absolute loyalty and perfect compliance with the tyrant’s lightest wish. If that government becomes sufficiently riven by conflict among internal contenders for advancement, it can be toppled from below – i.e., by popular pressure – but this doesn’t seem inherent to the dynamic that forms such governments.

     Anyone who has read and comprehended the above can easily see that America is not the only nation so afflicted. In this Year of Our Lord 2020, essentially the entire population of the world and its whole habitable land area are ruled by criminals. In a way, it’s comforting to recognize this. It means we’re not alone. But it’s still a problem that demands correction.

     The uber-problem is that correction, in the absolute sense, is impossible. The dynamic is without a counter-dynamic other than emigration through spatial expansion. In a closed, frontierless system – and at this time, Earth is such a system – there is no escape. The cycle of political collapse, coalescence and renewal, the encroachment of corruption, the ascent of ever more unscrupulous criminals, the “strongman” state, and ultimate collapse will continue.

     Damn it all, where’s my planetoid?

     Highly if tangentially relevant to the above tirade is Si Graybeard’s discourse on law and unintended consequences. Don’t miss it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Why EMP Hardening Can't Wait

New Warning on EMP unpreparedness. Link thanks to Ol' Remus at The Woodpile Report. The upgrades necessary to prepare our electronic grid against attack fall into what the Franklin Covey folks call Quadrant II - the Not Urgent, but Important tasks.

The thing is, QII tasks are the most likely to be shoved aside under time pressure. The Urgent tasks - whether important or not, will be dealt with. I'd be willing to guess that QIV tasks - Not Urgent, and Not Important - are more likely to be addressed. Those are often small, quick, mini-tasks that can be shoehorned into spaces in the schedule.

This concerns me for several reasons:

  • Like it or not, only the most Unplugged People will be relatively unaffected - Amish, Wilderness People. Everyone else will find that their daily lives have disintegrated. Banking, internet use, cable TV, phones, medical equipment, routing trucks, growing crops - all have been linked to use of electricity. Without it, most of use will be digging roots and eating bugs.
  • Some of you may be saying, Why, I'll just get a generator! Sad reality - you can't get gas to pump without electricity. Which means that your generator is a useless piece of junk.
  • A good portion of my life is conducted online. I don't even own a manual typewriter anymore. 
  • If the Internet goes down, the American public will be limited to the Mainstream news - do you trust them to relay actual news stories accurately? How effective would Trump be in getting his side conveyed without distortion? 
  • Medical - no drugs, no modern-day ER or Urgent Care. No X-rays, MRIs, nor a whole range of diagnostic and treatment tools. 19th century medicine - at best.

Foreign Ownership of American Media

I'm against it. I thought I remembered (grammar/spelling corrected) an FCC rule that prohibited foreign citizens/companies owning American Media, so after reading this article about the Las Vegas Public Radio, I checked on it.

It turns out that the FCC dumped the rule of no more than 25% foreign ownership of radio/tv in 2017.

Now, why is that such a big deal?

Well, it's a matter of leveling the playing field. Other countries DO have those rules against foreign ownership still. We should do the same, otherwise we open up our country to undue foreign influence in the media, as radio and television have restricted bandwidth. We've seen recently how China has manipulated gullible/cooperating media to spew their propaganda without any attempt check their statements, or to provide dissenting points of view.


     If you’re acquainted with one or more preparationists – “preppers,” in our contemporary argot – you’re surely aware that they maintain a stockpile of goods they deem essential to survival and self-defense. Such stockpiles are not commonplace in the homes of persons unconcerned with the possibility of disaster. The prepper’s acknowledgement of such possibilities compels him to create and maintain one for himself and his loved ones. After all, should there be a disaster of the sort other citizens decline to consider, that stockpile could make the difference between life and death.

     The typical prepper and his otherwise-inclined neighbors differ in other ways, too. The neighbors reckon up their reserves by looking at their bank balances. The prepper, aware that should civilization’s bottom fall out, what we carelessly call money would be worthless, is more concerned with his stockpile. Indeed, depending on the intensity of his fears, he might not have more in the bank than is necessary to meet this week’s bills. The balance of what he earns goes to other uses, including building that stockpile higher, wider, and deeper.

     Context matters, of course. In normal times, when America is “open” and her magnificent productive and distributive systems are functioning normally, a fat bank balance is a pleasant thing. It holds out many options. In contrast, the prepper’s stockpile is fixed in application. He can’t convert it at will into, say, a Disneyland vacation. But the prepper is unlikely to value convertibility that much; it’s antithetical to the preparationist mindset.

     But should abnormal times arrive, the prepper will be ready. His neighbors’ bank balances will not avail them. In this there is a sermon applicable to our time.

     One of the most significant changes of the past few decades has been the transition from commercial inventory management through the maintenance of a reserve-on-hand of components to a “just in time” approach in which the company trusts that it will be able to acquire what it needs when it needs it – essentially, an investment of faith in the American supply chain. This approach was made possible by a number of contemporaneous developments:

  • High-speed communications;
  • Flexible commercial transportation;
  • Readily reconfigurable production systems.

     In the older America, today’s degree of commercial flexibility was unknown. Orders were placed by mail or phone, and moved slowly through several layers of planning. A supplier had to gauge its slow-and-costly-to-reconfigure production capacity against its ability to promise timely delivery. Transportation systems were more rigid than they are today. That America could not have supported the just-in-time approach. Companies had to keep a stock of components equal to their projected needs over an operational cycle with a monthly or quarterly period.

     But they had reserves. They could not be forced out of business by the surprise unavailability of a component. Today that sort of commercial collapse is far more possible. It’s happening throughout the American economy, owing to the Wuhan virus and the associated “lockdowns.”

     A crisis such as the Wuhan virus pandemic isn’t the only way the just-in-time approach could have been hobbled. A successful attack on our communication and computing systems would do it just as effectively. Severe impediments to our transportation networks would do it as well. But perhaps those horror stories should be saved for another campfire. Our current problems are bad enough.

     In striking parallel to our transition from reserves to just-in-time, our financial system has transitioned from assets-based to debt-based. In effect, we’ve pyramided our economy – all of it, from our personal bank balances all the way up to the highest levels of corporate management and accounting – on faith in the ability and willingness of those who owe us something to make good on their debts in a timely fashion.

     Just as the typical private family is indebted to an amount equal to or greater than the value of its physical possessions, the very largest corporate concerns “own” very little of their substance, being indebted to various creditors for their liquidation value at least. At both the highest and the lowest levels, a significant interruption in the income stream would bring disaster. Mind you, America is not alone in this regard; virtually the whole of the First World has followed suit, even if some other nations haven’t gone just-in-time with the speed and wholeheartedness of American concerns.

     And what have we here? A hiatus of several weeks’ duration in the national economy! Essentially all income streams have been affected. Debts are going unserviced. Penalty charges are accumulating. Wipeout clauses are being invoked. Individuals, families, and institutions great and small are finding themselves at the edge of an abyss – and with no reserves to hand, those who slip over that edge might not be able to climb back up again.

     Some debts can be met from bank balances. But that doesn’t apply to physical needs: food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and the like. And as for those bank balances, none of them are bottomless. Even as the federal government borrows trillions and disburses them to relieve money-debt-based pressures, the sale of physical assets to meet financial obligations is accelerating. In this connection, keep an eye on the prices of the precious metals; it’s a barometer of fiscal health that always gives an accurate reading.

     I was once known for prattling about “connectedness problems:” troubling matters that are too intimately connected to other matters to be redressed in isolation. Our current state of affairs is a giant connectedness problem: suspension of most industry and commerce, exhaustion of reserves, interrupted incomes, intensifying debt pressures, federal profligacy, deterioration of the dollar. The mess cannot be easily disentangled.

     We’ve been doing things the way we were because it was the easiest path to a fat return on our efforts. The hazards always seemed remote, like the prospect of an asteroid or comet hitting the Earth. The WuFlu pan[dem]ic has revealed our vulnerabilities to us in garish colors.

     If we come out of this with a recognizable resemblance to pre-WuFlu America, I expect that the preparationist ethic will gain more respect from more Americans. No, we won’t all fill our basements with survival supplies. But we will think more seriously about maintaining reserves of all kinds – and about the reduction of the debts that make us vulnerable. It would be well if the ethic were to penetrate corporate managements and boardrooms, too. Sadly, company bean-counters would likely squawk loudly enough to be heard on Pluto, as would a great many corporate executives whose vision gets blurry at the thought of a reduction in their beloved end-of-year bonuses. But those are problems for others to solve; I just write stuff.


H/t: ZeroHedge.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Closing down the country

     This is probably going to annoy a lot of people, but I’ve just read a couple of persuasive articles urging people to speak out about the general lockdown imposed on us in order to “bend the curve” of serious cases and deaths. And it’s probably too late to change anything, because I also read articles saying that more and more people are ignoring their state-imposed rules; consider the crowded beaches In California this weekend.
     Small businesses and their employees are still suffering, though. So are the health care workers who are being sent home because their hospitals are all but empty. It’s mainly on their behalf that I’m speaking out.
     First, full disclosure: my family is not seriously affected - yet - by the lockdown as implemented here in Texas. Both my husband and I are over seventy and hence, I am given to understand, in the high-risk group. We are both working at jobs that don’t require us to leave home. Furthermore, the local market has resumed grocery deliveries.
     One of our daughters and her husband live in Brooklyn and I do worry about them. So far, though, they haven’t left their apartment in weeks, and they too can get things delivered; they too can work from home; and they work for large companies that haven’t yet made any noises about shutting down or laying people off. The other daughter is a stay-at-home mom with two children. I’m mildly worried about her because her husband is a grocery store manager and considered essential. However, the safety precautions at his store are intense. And he hasn’t missed a paycheck yet.
     So it’s on behalf of others that I’m speaking. The owners of the small restaurants we used to frequent. The nurses who have been sent home because our hospitals are virtually empty. The waiters, cooks and bartenders who can ill afford to miss a paycheck and tips. The owners and employees of the nail salon where my daughter gets her nails painted in unnatural colors. The hairdresser who used to put streaks of even more amazing colors in her hair. How are these people managing?
     Now, about this lockdown. The models we’ve been shown have vastly overestimated deaths. Furthermore, the people and institutions waving the curve we’re supposed to worry about don’t show us the data and algorithms they’ve using, and most of them lump all the states in with New York City, which skews the hell out of their models. I don’t give any more credence to the models than I give to models of global warming (which are known to use worst-case scenarios and tend to rely heavily on many nonlinear differential equations (mathematicians, you may tear your hair out now.))
     It appears to me that most of the country is in for terrible economic suffering on the basis of what’s happening in nursing homes and one extremely overcrowded city. Speaking for myself, I’m perfectly willing to take reasonable precautions until a vaccine or a universally valid treatment is developed. But what about the people who are young, healthy, and staring at serious financial problems? Why should they suffer for the minority of people like me?
     Maybe they’ll survive economically, given that more and more people are ignoring state-imposed restrictions.
     But I can’t help noticing that these restrictions are mostly put in place by people who have the luxury of staying home without missing a paycheck. And many of them think ordinary working people aren’t worth paying attention to, and voice death wishes on those who complain. Anyway, the protestors are mostly deplorables, aren’t they?
     And I find that attitude, well, deplorable.
(crossposted at

Even More Assorted, If Not Utterly Scattered

     First, some thematic quotes:

     “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.” – Rahm Emanuel
     “Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Though no checks to a new evil appear, the checks exist, and will appear. If the government is cruel, the governor's life is not safe. If you tax too high, the revenue will yield nothing. If you make the criminal code sanguinary, juries will not convict. If the law is too mild, private vengeance comes in.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”
     “When the system fails, righteous men rise up.” – Bosch, Season 6, Episode 10

     Please keep those in mind as you read what follows.

     Where are America’s righteous men? Do they congregate? Do they exist? We’re only just beginning to see non-trivial resistance to the seizure of anti-Constitutional powers by state and local governments…and the great majority of the resistance is visibly “grass-roots” rather than galvanized and organized by a recognizable leader or cadre of leaders. While any amount of resistance to overweening authority is a heartening thing to see, who will lead? Where are our Samuel and John Adams, our John Hancock, our Thomas Jefferson? I am moved to echo Robert A. Heinlein’s plaint from many years back: Who are the heirs of Patrick Henry?

     The political class, which in a remarkable reversal of fortune has even managed to flummox President Trump, is acting on Rahm Emanuel’s observation with astonishing alacrity. State governors and local mayors and executives are seizing powers never delegated to them. They’ve been using them without even the hint of an explanation for how they could legitimately wield such power – and a terrifying number of “law enforcement officers” are doing their dirty work. All we hear are platitudes: “We just want to keep you safe.” “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” “Extraordinary conditions require extraordinary measures.”

     Thus are Americans stripped of their rights, their livelihoods, and their futures.

     Why sit we here idle?

     Have a few links:

     Yes, they’re relevant. You should know me by now.

     The need to “escape” is a thing of terrible power. For a writer, it can have effects non-writers might not suspect…but just might appreciate.

     As I’m a writer, and therefore a self-employed person who works out of his own home, I’m less affected by the pan[dem]ic than most. Even so, the thing has had an effect on my daily life. I haven’t been able to shop normally, go to church, take my wife out for dinner or to a movie, or do a number of other perfectly normal things. And it’s been getting to me.

     Now, my normal output might be considered escapist. After all, I do write fantasy and science fiction most of the time. But when I’m in either of those modes, I’m dealing – through my characters, of course – with some sort of urgent problem. Sometimes it’s been as serious as the impending extinction of Mankind; at other times it’s smaller in scale, such as the need to reconcile with an estranged relative. But there’s always a problem to be solved.

     My little romance Love in the Time of Cinema isn’t like my other tales. It’s a “feel-good” story, in which all things converge for the good and happiness of the protagonists. Its “feel” has occasionally been compared to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with which it shares its overall tenor. My readers seem to love it. And yes: in my low moments I will sometimes reread it, because it makes me feel better.

     So in response to current conditions, I’ve sidelined my other projects to work on a “sequel” of sorts. No, it won’t continue the adventures, such as they were, of Jana Tyrell and Tim Beaufort. It takes off from a short story I wrote some time ago that was well received. But it’s a sequel in “feel:” it’s aimed at making the reader smile and be happy for the protagonists. Working Title: Love in the Time of Capitalism.

     And before you ask: yes, I expect there will be a third “Love in the Time of” tale, but it will probably take me a while to come up with the backdrop…and the third word in the title. Suggestions will be welcomed.

     A quick thought: Note that we’ve heard about the fatalities from the WuFlu, but nothing whatsoever about those who’ve been diagnosed and have recovered from it. Have their bodies been significantly altered? Have their lives changed in significant ways? (Other than being confined to their homes by the pan[dem]ic, that is.) Do they now eat Lima beans for breakfast, or speak exclusively in dactylic hexameter, or sleep hanging from the ceiling? Why has no one told us? Fear of a new panic?

     It calls to mind something a former colleague once said to me: “Every time there’s a catastrophe, they ask us to ‘observe a moment of silence for those who died.’ What about the other victims, the ones who lived? Why don’t they ever ask us to observe a moment of silence for the wounded but stable, or the treated and released? Don’t they deserve any consideration?”

     He was joshing, of course. I laughed at the time. I’m not so sure I’d laugh today.

     I’m rambling, I know. The combination of cranky old coot, angry freedom weenie, and compulsive writer can do that to you. I make no apologies, as you’re here by your own free choice.

     I might be back later with something coherent, but I wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath. You might hurt yourself.

     Be well.

What Is Happening In NYC Hospitals?

     Presented for your consideration:

     Are there other witnesses to this?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday Ruminations - April 26, 2020

I was checking out Cold Fury, when I found this post. Go ahead, read it - AND the post it links to. You won't be disappointed.

I believe that the inability to contemplate the end of one's existence - the sure knowledge that, yes, we ALL will die - is the underlying root of the Left's madness. Many of the crazier Baby Boomer women - having forgone their chance to have children - are now, near the end of their lives, faced with the reality of the period at the end of their life sentence. They have no descendants; those that do, often find that their children have little interest in making them grandparents. They've not reached those lofty career heights they expected to, in that long-ago time when they were young, and all was possible.

They are without spouse or other family. Their friends, likewise old, are dying off. Their entire world is crumbling.

Is it any wonder that they want the rest us to face a lonely, broke, isolated existence, one that matches their own?

We all will die, eventually. Every day that we wake is an opportunity to give thanks for another moment in the world. The aches and pains of old age are a sign that our deteriorating bodies are still functioning - mostly. Most of us try not to medicate too heavily, lest we lose what mental capabilities we retain.

For some of us, the elder years are full and rich. We have family and friends - however distant, we are connected. The luckier of us have sufficient income and financial stability to have choice about our living decisions.

The luckiest of us have hobbies and part-time work that engages us. It might bring in a small income. If it does not, it bring in a rich psychic income - a feeling of accomplishment and worthiness.

But, no matter how splendid or shabby your life, it will end. Religion is what allows us to have courage to face that reality. For those of us who believe, we will move to a better existence.

Now, go forth, and make this day a joyous one.

In the Middle of the Night - Billy Joel Song Cue

It's a lovely song - River of Dreams.

I happened to think of it, when I found myself awake at 2 am, writing down notes for another short story. Most of my shorts are like that - I find myself waking from a half-dreamlike state, with nearly a fully conceptualized story in my head. Most of the time, I go back to sleep.

Sometimes, the story intrigues me, and I creep down the hall to the computer to write down enough of the story to be able to finish it later. Tonight's experience was that kind.

I've been writing more in the last week. Mostly journaling, but some longer blog posts, as well. I've found that such activity usually precedes a fruitful time of work, so I've been expecting such an outburst of midnight scribbling, sooner or later.

Nighttime is long associated with magical happenings, genius uncorked, and nefarious deeds planned or in process. Our senses are heightened. Normal noises take on a sinister ambience.

Night is an enchanted time.


     First, something that, if you’re not at least 55 years old, you’ve probably never heard…and if you’re that old or older, you may have hoped you’d never hear again:

     Ah, to be young and aimless and listening to WMCA-AM again!

1. Too Much Truth Dept.

     Has anyone else noticed (hee hee) that you can never, ever cite a truth about women without being vilified for it? Apparently it’s not just an American thing:

     The mayor of Japan's Osaka has come under fire for suggesting men should do grocery shopping during the coronavirus outbreak because women are indecisive and "take a long time."…

     Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui told reporters on Thursday that men should be entrusted with grocery runs because women "take a long time as they browse around and hesitate about this and that," Kyodo news agency reported.

     "Men can snap up things they are told (to buy) and go, so I think it's good that they go shopping, avoiding human contact," the 56-year-old added….

     But online he was roundly condemned, with one Twitter user accusing him of being "disrespectful to women and men." Another dubbed his comment "full of prejudice against women," adding "there are indecisive men and nimble and sharp women."

     You know, there are six-foot-tall women and five-foot-tall men, too – but would anyone dare to put money on the proposition that women are just as tall as men, on average?

     Women, on average, put more time into their shopping than do men. The reasons vary, and there are surely some individual exceptions, but riddle me this: When was the last time you saw a woman standing idle in a hardware store, waiting semi-patiently for her man to decide between two cordless drills?

     Yeah, right.

2. You Are Going To Die.

     A blogger with whom I wasn’t familiar gives it to you straight:

     Listen. You were always going to suffer and die. Everyone in your family was always going to suffer and die. Everyone you know was always going to suffer and die. All your earthly efforts were going to come to nought, your country and culture -- and, least we forget, "the economy" -- were going to degenerate and disappear, and the sun was going to expand into a red giant and consume the earth as though it had never existed. All that was always going to happen, and you knew it all along, or would have if you had been paying attention.

     If you are in despair now but weren't before, you're an idiot. You do realize this game you signed up for is called mortal life, right? Did someone not explain that to you? Were you expecting something different? I don't know anything about your situation, but I know it hasn't fundamentally changed. You were born on death row. Don't you think that should have made you a little tougher than this?

     Refreshing – and badly needed. I may start following this guy.

     You are not safe. Nothing is safe: no human activity, no known environment, not even your home with all the doors locked. And sooner or later, something will get you. It might be a disease. It might be an accident. It might be violence. It might be old age. But it’s as certain as the stars in their courses that you will die. The most you can hope for is that you’ll be ready to do so.

     This lockdown BS has gone far enough. Stop your cowering and sniveling and get back to work.

3. A New Theory.

     The C.S.O. said yesterday that the Tara Reade accusations might provide the Democrats with the lever they need to pitch the embarrassingly muddled Gropin’ Joe Biden off their presidential ticket. David Drake agrees. It’s possible, even plausible, but there’s a prerequisite: their media handmaidens will have to cooperate. If they remain unwilling to report on the accusations and the recently revealed substantiation for them, it will constitute strong evidence that the DNC intends to use Biden as a sacrificial lamb against the essentially indefeasible President Donald Trump.

     This is something to watch closely, as little as I relish the prospect. It’s yet another barometer of the sickness of contemporary left-wing politics that the only significance of an accusation of rape – and be not distracted nor deceived: forcing your fingers into an unwilling woman’s vagina is rape — is whether it’s politically useful.

4. A Multi-Front Offensive.

     I didn’t know this, and I’d be surprised if you already do:

     More than 100 Confucius Institutes have been opened at American universities since the program’s founding in 2004. These academic centers are funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for a platform on American campuses to trumpet Communist propaganda under the guise of goodwill academic exchanges….

     While Confucius Institutes hide behind carefully cultivated images of benign organizations, in reality they actively foment anti-Western ideology on impressionable young college students. They inundate their curricula with historical revisionism and falsehoods on the topics of Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and China’s human rights record as a whole.

     The Chinese Communists are serious about this. It’s more than vengeance against President Trump’s recent trade-rebalancing initiatives. It’s a series of blows against the West for daring to oppose the Mandate of Heaven. The gods plainly conferred hegemony over the world upon China – and upon the CCP as China’s rulers, of course.

     We should have spanked them in April 2001, after they held the crew and wreckage of an American EP-3E – a plane brought down by the actions of one of their pilots – for ransom. We’ve been paying for not having done so ever since.

5. A New Islamic Infamy.

     The Muslims of Minnesota are getting awfully ballsy:

     The Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan, will echo from loudspeakers through parts of Minneapolis five times per day for the entirety of Ramadan in what is believed the be the first time the Islamic call has been publicly broadcast in a major U.S. city.

     Local authorities have aggressively shut down Christian gatherings as “violations” – of executive orders that have no binding force on non-government employees! Has anyone heard of a lockdown citation being served upon a mosque? Prayer gatherings at mosques, so far as I am aware, have not been affected at all. And now we have this. Oh, and in case you were wondering:

     The area of Minneapolis blasting the call to prayer lies in the district of controversial Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

     Fortunately, there is a counteragent:

     Take your time, aim at the loudspeaker’s center of mass, and “find the space between heartbeats.” Squeeze, don’t jerk.

     What’s that? You don’t have a Barrett M82A1? Well, why not?

     That’s all for today. There’s quite a lot to be done around the old homestead – having two of us continuously “in residence” does accelerate the accumulation of various kinds of mess – and I have two novels to work on. Enjoy your Sunday. Watch a televised Mass if no live Mass is available. If you can’t receive the Body of Christ today, at least you can recite the Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the most Blessed Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
And I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally,
Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there,
And unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

     Stay warm, dry, and happy.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

How to Keep a COVID-19 Patient Out of the Hospital

And, that's the goal. If you have to go to the hospital, your chances diminish considerably.

Hospitals, in normal times, are good places for the seriously ill to be. In crisis times, like now, they may be the WORST place to be.

The staff is fatigued, uncomfortable, stretched beyond their limits. Unless you're on the verge of death - RIGHT NOW - you are not going to get the attention that you could, at home, by family. You won't be resting - the noise, lights, lack of creature comforts - all combine to keep you awake. And, worried and stressed.

Not good for your health.

So, the goal for most ill people is to stay out of the hospital, if possible.

To do that takes planning and work - a lot of work on the part of the home nurse (the family/friend).

  • Take temperature regularly, and chart it
    • Use cool wet cloths/alcohol rubs to bring fevers down if they hit a critical level
    • NO aspirin or other NSAIDS.
  • Keep patient clean - sponge baths, if not able to get out of bed. Change sheets and PJs regularly. Check skin for sores/rashes. Help them brush teeth, clean mouth with water/mouthwash.
  • Monitor food and water intake, particularly the water. Bring in pitchers of ice water (more appealing to drink). Try herbal teas, hot or cold. Check skin to see if patient is getting dehydrated (pinch it - if skin doesn't rebound quickly, it may be a problem).
  • Keep in touch with doctor by videocalls. It helps to see the patient. If PA or other professional is available, don't insist on seeing the doctor - they are fully competent to make assessments regarding the patient. They will pass on concerns, if necessary.
  • Get the following:
    • Thermometer - accuracy is important.
    • Oximeter - those are the ones that clamp onto your fingertip and measure the oxygen level in your blood. They are widely available without a prescription. Click here to see why you need one.
      • IF the patient has nail polish or fake nails - take it OFF. This will distort the reading.
    • BP cuff - if the patient has high blood pressure, you should have a system.
    • Nitrile gloves, mask, covers for your clothing. The person taking care of the patient should use all of these.
    • The usual disinfectants/sanitizers. Clean everything the patient touches thoroughly. You're no good if you get sick, too.
I wouldn't be surprised to find that those with spouses survive this better than single people. Having someone who will dedicate their time and effort to keeping you alive is that important.

For Our Descendants

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

[Isaac Watts, “O God, Our Help In Ages Past”]

     It’s a commonplace that even the smartest and most erudite of us know very little, in comparison to “all there is to know”…or even to “what we currently know.” I feel secure in predicting that this will not change. The human mind is limited; human mortality guarantees that it will remain so. Though you learn all you can, there will still be a wealth of fields you will never master.

     The “thing” we know the least about is the future: what will come to pass tomorrow. It’s what makes science fiction an inexhaustible field. It’s also the meat and drink of prognosticators past, present, and – dare I say it? – future. There’s good money to be made if you can persuade the rubes that you can see what’s coming…though it’s best to be well out of town before the future actually gets here.

     All the same, we speculate. Some of us lay large bets on the shape of the future. And some of us indulge in dark forebodings of the “The End Is Nigh” variety. Yes, eventually that will be correct, at least for some values of “nigh.” But I wouldn’t go on a spree out of confidence in the proposition.

     The late, great Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate physicist and teacher extraordinaire, once posed this question as the basis for a college-level physics curriculum:

     “If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”

     Jonah Goldberg has rounded up some answers he’s seen, including Feynman’s own. I must say that none of them impress me – no, not even Feynman’s. So I decided to try it myself. Here’s my best effort:

     The universe has unbreakable laws you can learn and exploit, if you watch the world around you with proper attention and without preconceptions.

     …and it’s really no more impressive than any of the ones Goldberg has aggregated. But perhaps that’s “just the way it is:” — that it’s in the nature of things that no single sentence we could pass on to an unimaginable future would be of much use. Gregory Benford would agree.

     We have learned a great deal, including many things we’d probably wish were not so. That, too, is in the nature of things. Thomas Sowell’s discourse on the tragic vision is highly relevant here. I’ve remarked on the thesis in various contexts.

     Ironically, a man whose activism I detest expressed the essence of the tragic vision in three short sentences, all of which any Gentle Reader will find familiar:

Barry Commoner’s Precepts:
1. No action is without side effects.
2. Nothing ever goes away.
3. There is no free lunch.

     The education of the young should emphasize those things. It should also inculcate in the student a healthful distrust of those who are styled “experts.” For what is an “expert?” Who awards that status, and with what justification? How much more, even in a narrowly delimited field, does the typical “expert” really know than anyone else – and how many “experts” infest our airwaves and our corridors of power who really don’t know shit?

     Those who repose their faith in “experts” probably haven’t seen and grasped what Conan’s father told him when he was young:

     It applies quite as strictly to “experts” as to any other human being.

     Yes, Gentle Reader, I’m in one of those moods. They’ve been fairly frequent of late, owing to prolonged confinement with my beloved wife, who’s gone about as far toward absolutely BLEEP!ing nuts as an American woman can get without being packed away for a stay in some institution where the guest rooms have soft walls. All I can do is strive to keep to myself, and that has its own costs.

     But this morning, Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman has called my attention to an article that strikes me as unusually optimistic about the future. While the topic is impending backlash against many aspects of our current order, it is nevertheless a pleasant vision of what may come. It’s essentially un-excerptable, so please hie thee thither and read it in its entirety when you’re done here.

     Such a wave of backlashes would do the nation a power of good. In particular, it would immunize us, at least for a time, against uncritical acceptance of the blandishments of “experts.” It would remind us that no one should be trusted with power over others. And it would remind us of something that far too many members of our political class have urged us to forget: that all things have their price – that there is “no free lunch.”

     Conan’s father would approve that message.

     Immured in our current condition, un-illumined even by “glimpses of Nirvana as seen through other people’s windows” (Procol Harum), it’s pleasant to imagine that we’ll emerge – assuming we ever do emerge – “sadder, but wiser.” We’ve allowed infamies to be perpetrated upon us – and the worst of them have issued from our own politicians, who have relied upon the dubious authority of various “experts.” That recognition, and the grasp of the motivations that drive those politicians and “experts,” would complete the awakening that began with the election of President Donald Trump.

     For we badly need to awaken. Too much has been taken from us, always under the pretext that “our leaders” and their chosen “experts” know better than do we the hoi polloi. There won’t be a wealth of opportunities to take our rights, our economy, and our nation back into our own hands if we don’t do so P.D.Q. But we won’t do so, now or ever, if we don’t accept the counsel of Conan’s father.

     And in light of that, perhaps the one sentence that would best fit Feynman’s specifications would be this:

Trust no one: not men, not women, not beasts, and certainly not the “experts.”

     It might not strike you as “science,” but it would convey one hell of a lot of painfully won wisdom to our descendants.

Pearls of expression.

In reality, we are just entering the interregnum described by Guillaume Faye, in which the West lurches from crisis to crisis as it tries to reconcile the incoherence and contradictions of liberal democracy. In other words, Trump is not just the end of the old order, but the starting point for a period of chaos, as the world tries to create a new “logic of the universe.”
"The Mule’s Work." By The Zman, 4/21/20.

H/t: Straight Line Logic.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Is It Un-Christian to Call for Bringing the Economy Back?

To hear from many - particularly on social media - it is.

From them, I'm confronted by statements like: If it saves ONE life to stay under lockdown, then only the heartless would say, Open Up.

But, in fact, we are making a choice that returning to work is worth the risk - EVEN OF OUR OWN FAMILY. We take sensible precautions. We do the outside errands of our elderly family (and, often, of neighbors, as well).

But, in the end, some risks just have to be taken - for example, those who are considered essential and frontline. No one tells the nurses and truckers to stay home. We accept that they are putting their own, and their family's lives at risk - for YOU to stay home, safe.

Don't see those sanctimonious ones criticizing them. Instead, they are filled with praise for their "bravery".

In contrast to those willing to take some risks, if only they can stop the financial meltdown from destroying their own family.

THOSE people are considered "Money Grubbers".

No, not WORSHIP of money. Just a realistic assessment that - after this is all over - the same people will not tax themselves to spare others from financial destitution.

Financial problems have destroyed more than one American family. Long-term financial problems - not just "Oh, I can't buy the latest shoes!" or "Bummer, I have to drink homemade coffee, rather than my $5 Latte" - can cause the emotional, physical, and mental breakdown that leads to a lifetime of despair.

It's not selfish to prefer to keep your family intact. It's not a bad thing to think that children deserve to have their mother and father living together. It's not evil to NOT want (corrected from opposite meaning) to see the frugality of a lifetime wiped away, because NO ONE should die. Ever.

Even old people with multiple illnesses/conditions. Even if they were already hanging on by their toenails to life.

Look, I get it. No one wants their own family members to die before their time. My own mother died before her 66th birthday. My father lasted 4 years longer, till he was nearly 76. It was painful to lose them. I still cry over their early deaths.

But, I would not think destroying an entire country's economy, including the savings of a lifetime, were worth keeping them alive for a few more years.

Have a sense of proportion. This is hitting:

  • The elderly - particularly those with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cancers.
  • Those in nursing homes/rehab facilities
  • Immunocompromised younger people, and those with major illnesses/conditions, aside from C-19
Other than those? Very, very few.

This is not Un-Christian. This is a realistic understanding that we cannot ask the entire country to upend itself for months, solely to make you feel better about having sacrificed US. Yes, US. Because most of those who are saying these things, are still getting a paycheck. Government workers, large corporations, schools.

If this is not devastating your finances, I just don't want to hear from you. You haven't skin in the game. You have nothing to lose by Virtue Signaling your willingness to see the rest of us suffer to make you feel better.

The Christian Martyrs sacrificed themselves, not others, for their faith.

True, Man does not live by bread alone. But, without it, Man is not going to live at all - on this Earth.

Quickies: The Lockdown Lever

     The rising sentiment among common Americans is that this “stay at home” BS has gone too far and must end forthwith. Yet it’s not ending. Not all the enforcement power in the world could keep Americans confined to our homes, were we to decide that we’d had enough. Yet we’re doing so. Why?

     Some of it is probably fear. “The experts” – you know, those guys who’ve been wrong about absolutely everything from the start of this mess – continue to preach fear. Quite a lot of our countrymen have probably been affected by those preachments, at least to the extend of muttering “better safe than sorry” to themselves. In effect, they’re quarantining themselves.

     But there’s a more baleful influence at work, and it might have a greater part of the responsibility for our ongoing paralysis: licensure and business regulation.

     I’ve written before about the essentially totalitarian nature of licensure. Business regulation – the institution of conditions under which a business must do its business or be shut down by the State – is another facet to that evil jewel. There are fewer businesses than there are Americans – and those businesses’ owners and managers are aware of what the State could do to them should they step out of line.

     So our employers – and remember, the Fortune 3000 employ half of all working Americans – are afraid to reopen at the risk of the State’s wrath. But without the reopening and normal functioning of those businesses, where would most of us be going when we leave our homes? By far the greater part of our moving about is for occupational purposes!

     This applies even to “essential” businesses that are “permitted” to operate during the lockdown. Note how sharply their staffs-on-hand have been reduced. Many won’t even allow customers into their physical stores; rather, the customer must call ahead and accept “curbside delivery,” regardless of his preferences or his desire to survey the available alternatives. I’d bet the rent money that agents of the State are watching them for compliance to their decrees.

     The apostles of State licensure and regulation have always claimed that it’s for “the safety of the public.” They’ve always contended that mere registration and certification – i.e., promulgated safety standards and an easily accessed list of which businesses comply and which conspicuously do not, with no enforcement – would be “insufficient.” If that chant hasn’t grown strained yet, something has gone wrong with Americans’ hearing. We used to bridle at being told that we don’t know our own best interests, that the heavy hand of the State must confine us – and occasionally punish us – “for your own good.”

     And here we are.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

By Permission Only

     It’s odd how often an old anecdote will echo in thunderous harmony with some contemporary crime. It’s the sort of thing that makes me happy about my frequently annoying near-eidetic memory. (Don’t look so shocked. Try waking up at 4:15 AM with an old CrackerJack commercial resounding in your head and see what you think.)

     In 1987 I attended a lecture by Nathaniel Branden, once a very close associate of Ayn Rand’s, during which he narrated the process by which he came to understand Rand’s political-philosophical convictions. As nearly as I can recall – see the “near-eidetic memory” part above – it went this way:

     Branden had read The Fountainhead and two other books Rand had recommended to him – if you really care, they were Economics in One Lesson and The God of the Machine, which I also recommend highly – and found that he still required clarification about Rand’s core precepts about capitalism. So she sat him down and asked him a simple question: “Do you believe that man has the right to exist?”

     Branden was surprised, to say the least: “Why, Miss Rand, of course he does!”

     Rand continued, “You understand that the right to exist means the right to exist for one’s own sake?”

     Once again, the question puzzled Branden: “Well, of course! If he doesn’t exist for his own sake, it would mean he was existing by permission.”

     Rand nodded and said, “The political implementation of that idea is capitalism.”

     And Branden said “Oh!”

     “From that moment forward,” Branden told the audience, “capitalism for me was filled with moral energy…It was the only system fit for human consumption.”

     Ponder that for a moment, as my second pot of coffee should be ready by now.

     And now for the episodes and articles that caused me to remember that old lecture:

     The tyrants of Czechoslovakia escaped the fall of the Iron Curtain with their lives. (Apparently, the writing on the wall was legible to them.) As for what will become of the tyrants of the Empire State, the Tarheel State, and the Land of Fruits and Nuts, the future has yet to speak. (If it speaks to you, keep it to yourself. Please.) But Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania could educate them about the fate that awaits the tyrant who clings over-stubbornly to his “power,” once his subjects have decided that only the most definite and permanent of answers to overweening authority will serve their needs.

     Far better, in my opinion at least, that we detect and thwart the aspiring tyrant before he rises to high office, rather than wait until it becomes necessary to drag him forcibly from his palace and dangle him by the neck from a gibbet.

     Now and then, some wag will attempt to distinguish among the varieties of tyranny and their associated tyrants. It’s almost always a false trail that leads nowhere useful. Yet even William F. Buckley was seduced by it. I remember him straining to discriminate between the Soviet and Red Chinese systems, and thinking “What on Earth does he think he could accomplish?”

     Still, some will try. In most instances, the hairsplitting involved would enrage a bald man. Yet now and again it can tell us something of importance.

     Let’s start with the “novice” or “apprentice” tyrant. However he rises to power, he’ll be proud – and jealous – of his position and its supposed authority. But he’ll start small. He’ll solicit the advice of an inner circle of the like-minded. He’ll put a sincere effort into persuading his subjects that he knows what’s best and that it’s “for your own good.” He does these things because he still respects consensus and “the consent of the governed.” If he can’t have that consensus and consent…

     Then we get to the “intermediate” tyrant. This fellow is seldom sincere about the rationales he expresses to anyone, whether inside his circles or well beyond them. Neither does he ever doubt his own superiority in wisdom. If the moral dimension of his rule ever troubles him, he dissolves it in alcohol or sex. Needless to say, the intermediate’s jealousy over his power and status goes beyond that of his “novice” colleague, though he might take occasional pains to conceal it. Still, his critics tend to recant. His opponents have shorter than average lifespans.

     The “advanced” tyrant has moved beyond pretense. He’s also moved beyond remorse, regret, and the twinges of conscience. You don’t dare to criticize him, much less oppose him; for that he’d have your whole family murdered and you personally tortured to death for a live audience. He uses whatever forces respond to his command to make his word the absolute law of the land, and his judgments un-appealable. Photos of him are frequently retouched for “accuracy.”

     With these three grades of tyrant go three grades of tyranny, each one fitted to the developing character and individual personality of the tyrant. I’m sure I don’t need to describe them for you in detail. But despite their differences, they share a common trait: in whatever matters the tyrant has chosen to assert his will, his subjects exist only by his permission.

     Those states in which the governor has ruled out a lifting of his “lockdown” order, whether he qualifies his decree to any extent or simply says “I said no, so sit down and shut up,” are places where the citizenry is being treated as subjects: men without rights who can move and act only by permission. Some such subjects think it easier to submit, and to hope that the tyrant’s will soon falters. Others, braver than the rest, merely go about their chosen business, essentially daring the tyrant to do his worst. Some have paid a price, though none, as far as I know, have paid the ultimate price…yet.

     But given the proclivities of “law enforcement officers” and their frequent recourse to the self-exculpation that “I’m only doing my job,” that price is always “on the menu.” Should some citizen resist with sufficient determination, some thug with a badge will pull his gun. At that point things will become terribly, unambiguously clear.

     Tyrants of all grades are alike in another thing: they never willingly surrender their power. It must be taken from them by their subjects. But of course, that act of will never receives official permission.

     Free men don’t ask for permission to do what must be done.

     Food for thought.

State-of-the-art on Bugzilla.

In this survey, we demonstrated the researches and approaches of about 100 eminent scientists from around the world. In general, they agree that the current statistical data does not reflect the actual state of affairs, and the publicly distributed media estimates of the mortality rate are at least incorrect, and do not correspond to the actual picture.

The actual number of people with SARS-CoV-2 infection or people that already passed through COVID-19 early-stage or without symptoms is several dozen times higher than the public numbers show.

This is primarily due to the approaches and scope of testing. The public numbers have little to do with science. This is, to a greater extent, either media or politically motivated data. . . .

Accordingly, the real mortality rate from SARS-CoV-2 is 25-60 times less than the figures presented to us by MSM and a number of governments.

The number of people with SARS-CoV-2 virus, but without the COVID-19 disease or with a mild form of the disease, according to various estimates, ranges from 85% to 95%. This group, as a rule, does not fall into official statistics, as it is not tested, not hospitalized, and does not seek medical help.

The negative consequences for life and health of people from ill-conceived social measures can at times surpass the threat posed by SARS-CoV-2. . . .

Countries, whose leadership works closely with scientists, consistently and quickly responds to changes in the situation and the emergence of new data, will receive a huge advantage in the post-COVID-19 world.

The current actions of politicians in a number of countries are difficult to explain with anything other than incompetence or deliberate actions to achieve their personal/clan political ambitions or promote interests of external actors.[1]

And some thoughts:

Now far be it for me to cast dispersions on the current "Who shot John?" mania which has China squarely in the cross hairs for all our hate. Maybe the Chinese are a bunch of rotten yellow motherhumpers. Still, I got to axe what exactly are "we" going to do if "we" make the case that they're somehow responsible? Right NOW? What? Exactly? Sink their aircraft carrier? And how exactly is Missouri going to collect any judgment that it might . . . emphasis on might . . . collect against China?

And just how crystal clear is this "case" against China going to be? There are rumblings that the intelligence agencies had some indications of a developing epidemic before the first cases were reported in Wuhan. Maybe, maybe not, but I'm not confident in the assessment powers or the medical establishment or of the, um, national command authority, to put it mildly. Trump had two carrier battle groups steaming to Korea early on over something or other. Seriously. I voted for that? Calling that naval whatever "rash" is an understatement, and his firing 100 cruise missiles at Syria after the supposed sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun was no better. He had NO solid intel on Syria's culpability, let alone legal justification for his outrageous attack. The "assessment" he relied on for the attack on Syria was a joke. Period. This is not the man I want making major decisions about the culpability of other nations.

And it's not just Trump. The stuff that bothers me most about China isn't that they made monkeys out of us on intellectual property theft, and currency manipulation; shipped AK-47s to our most vibrant domestic communities; and flooded our country with spies. No, what bothers me most is the treason, greed, stupidity, passivity, and cowardice of our own political class in facilitating the resulting economic and security disaster that resulted from off-shoring tens of thousands of our factories to that very country and putting up with it's ********. But, suddenly, those cowards and sellouts want to get tough with China?

So what the world should be focusing on now is not its experience with the Spanish Flu but what took place immediately before it, namely, the unbelievable carnage of the Great War, quote unquote. Not to mention the death toll from Belshevism in all its forms since 1917. The current putative death toll from this virus is at 181,235 which pales in comparison just with the 500K+ death toll (and unbelievable destruction) in Syria for which we are directly responsible as the principal actor in the execrable Operation Inherent Resolve. Add to that tally the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen and then ask yourself whence cometh this nice concern for 181K+ deaths (never mind the destruction)? I'm a devotee of the "let no sparrow fall" approach to domestic and foreign affairs, don't get me wrong. I'll tsk tsk and wring my hands with the best of the saints and savants. But still, the truth of the matter is that those 181K+ COVID-19 deaths are the result of an act of God and the million plus deaths as a result of war and boycott are not.

We need to ask ourselves what we are about. It's time for us to lay aside national decision-making by bogus "assessments," sound bites, and national press conferences. We need something more than "Did you see? Did you hear?" as a driver of national understanding. Mr. Trump is not a strategic or deep thinker as witness his celebration of the formerly soaring stock market, his cooperation in the last act of fiscal diarrhea, his recent anger at the Fed's not driving interest rates down to the deck, his passivity in the face of the Fed's monetary panic, and his failure to provide a rational cost-benefit analysis of the isolation/shutdown approach versus economic disaster. We're in full panic/drift mode.

Vladimir Putin took a stab at urging the world to step back and restore some vitality to the post-war international order and Mikhail Gorbachev similarly recently urged the use of the United Nations to discuss a different approach to ordering world affairs. We need to do that, even if Mr. Gorbachev is likely to urge a globalist position. Think Davos without the billionaires and ****-you secrecy for the peasants whose fate will be discussed by the $ainted Ones. The U.S. is clearly acting like a nation besotted with "exceptionalism" will and the federal behemoth presides over the ongoing and inevitable corruption of the Constitution and representative institutions. It's an obvious plutocracy on top of

  • crony capitalism;
  • useless financial manipulation and asset stripping;
  • suffocating and distorting monopoly;
  • tech giant toads who think they know what it's appropriate for you to say or read;
  • a culture of vengeance, destruction, and violence;
  • rampant vote fraud;
  • resentful, parastic minorities; and
  • an ongoing importation of millions upon millions of foreigners to viciously and intentionally destroy any semblance of the American nation.
Europe is similarly besotted with mass immigration, the destruction of nationalism, the creation of the total state, and a full-blown attack on free speech for native Europeans. The British police are one big pulsating manifestation of a deadly autoimmune disease.

Forget SARS-CoV-2.

Call me crazy but my thought here is that one of the political ambitions mentioned in the quoted passage above is the one that doesn't WANT for there to be an examination of the state of play. This is WHY we see the massive assault on free speech. There MUST be ZERO honest debate about any of this. The gargantuan waste, distortion, and dishonesty that is everywhere MUST NOT BE DISCUSSED.

Trump's impulsiveness and shallowness, his molasses-like disengagement from ruinous foreign war, the recent and ongoing Marx Brothers performance in the Democrat primaries, abortion mania, rampant sexual confusion, academic corruption, and feminist depravity are symptoms of a nation that's lost its way. And the rest of the Western world's obsession with globalism, anti-nationalism, mass immigration, multiculturalism, and "climate change" (so help me) illustrate the same advanced state of decay.

WWII was a catalyst for creative thinking about the post-war order. Now is the time to recognize that we're at the end of a similar period of gigantic intellectual, moral, political, and ecnomic failure. We can wake up NOW and use this as an opportunity to re-assess Western civilization and a world changed by amazing technology, or we can drift further into the swamp. And let me suggest the theme for any convocation of world luminaries -- "Devolution, 21st Century."

There's a lot more going on than having to deal with an epidemic that is, in the scheme of things, not that bad.

[1] "SARS-CoV-2 Mortality Is Distorted." By SouthFront, 4/19/20 (emphasis added).

H/t: ZeroHedge.