Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Extroverts & Introverts

I'm the introvert in the family. My husband is extroverted, and genuinely enjoys interacting with people.

We're opposites in temperament, yoked together. Most of the time, it's one of those differences that we find lends a fresh aspect to our shared life.

But, when we're under time pressure, or dealing with tasks neither of us wants to do, that incompatibility can make it difficult to work together, or, at times, even exist in the same room/house.

I like silence, no interruptions, and extended time to focus on the task.

He keeps jumping up to deal with an unrelated matter, likes to stop his work constantly to talk, ask questions, or get on the phone with someone.

Working in the same office, as we do, can be challenging. Most of the time, no problem - we don't occupy the same space at the same time.

Since C-19, it's been - challenging. Very challenging.

The last few days, I almost lost it.

We've been clearing up old financial issues - investments, taxes, paperwork. Neither of us enjoy it. It's taken just about all the patience we have just to plow through this.

But, working in the same room with him interrupting my concentration every few minutes (usually signaled by him saying, "I don't want to interrupt you, but..."), has driven me to the edge.

That's all. I just wanted to get that out, and off my chest. Much cheaper, and easier than standing trial for murder.

Masks Off Dept.

     The Democrat Party has officially declared itself opposed to the formation of the United States:

     In a tweet earlier tonight the DNC takes the official position that celebrating the fourth of July is the equivalent of celebrating white supremacy:

     Anyone who identifies as a party Democrat will now have to rebuke the fourth of July to retain their party position. Additionally, any democrat caught celebrating the Fourth of July holiday will now be joining a celebration of white supremacy.

     Are there any questions from the audience?

     Sarah Hoyt deposeth and saith:


     For a change, the Caps Lock seems warranted.

New Depths In “Journalism”

     The incredible absurdities that so-called reporters will commit for the ghost of a change to defame or discredit President Trump have reached a new depth:

     Yet people have been writing to ask me why I’ve been posting so much less frequently on political topics.

     I propose that the press secretary of the president of the United States be granted a limited immunity to the laws against assault with a deadly weapon, to be implemented thus:

  • The press secretary shall be licensed to carry a firearm during all press conferences. The firearm shall be limited to 9 mm caliber or below.
  • The press secretary shall be provided with a full magazine for that firearm, one only.
  • The press secretary may fire his firearm at any reporter who asks him what he deems a completely stupid question. The press secretary may continue to fire until he has inflicted a visible wound upon the selected reporter. The press secretary is indemnified against any and all consequences of doing so.
  • However, the press secretary shall not deliberately cause the death of the reporter. Should a reporter die as a result of any exercise of this privilege, the determination as to whether his death was deliberate shall rest with the president.
  • This privilege shall not be exercised more than three times during any given press conference. Upon the third exercise of this privilege, the press conference shall immediately be terminated.

     Pour encourager les autres, don’t y’know.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Conservatives - CHARGE!!!!!

You absolutely have to read this link to Kurt Schlichter today. It's a pungent admonition to get off the drawing room furniture, and get out into the streets and FIGHT!

We have an opportunity to re-charge the aging ranks of the Counter-Left troops. Kids are bored. College students have some time on their hands. Even the normally employed have some leisure time to:
  • Learn what motivates the NLD - Non-Leftist Dissidents.
  • Get training on how to Fight the Leftist Power (hopefully, without suffering casualties).
  • Network, organize, and spread the message.
  • Use the tactics of the Left against them.
  • Rinse, repeat.
Now is the time to educate yourself about the many abuses of power of the former Obama/Biden administration. For example: The various foundations set up that essentially serve as a money-laundering operation for the cronies of the Left - Biden's Cancer "non-profit" (except for the executive staff) did not follow appropriate rules for foundations, and enriched the former staffers through ridiculously high compensation, compared to budget. By keeping financial control over those who were in on the dirty secrets of the past, they are incentivized to NOT write a tell-all book.

Black Lives Matter - I've largely avoided knowing more about this organization, mostly because immersing myself into it would leave me feeling slimy. But, today, I decided to correct that lack. Some Did You Knows:
Say, should Trump be re-elected, a really GOOD place to start reforms is the tax code, as it relates to non-profits. And, another is directing some audit money at getting the "non-political-but-not-really" groups investigated, and removing their ability to receive donations. Might stop that in the short-term by not permitting the 'chain donations' that have foundations funding foundations.

A major front on the War Against NLDs (Non-Leftist Dissidents) is in the schools. If you have the stomach, check out this list of materials, meant to train teachers to serve as the Shock Troops for the Revolution. If you don't already, consider home-schooling in the fall, even if your system goes back to operation.

The war doesn't have to involve direct confrontation and argument - there are times that call for softer interactions.

Where is YOUR Breaking Point? Some have said we're past that point.

Music For A Melancholy Monday Morning

     Yes, Gentle Reader: I’m in one of those moods once again. (It doesn’t help that I’ve been up since 2:30 AM because of a yappy (and very poopy) puppy.)

Look out of any window,
Any morning, any evening, any day.
Maybe the sun is shining,
Birds are winging or rain is falling from a heavy sky...

What do you want me to do,
To do for you to see you through?
This is all a dream we dreamed,
One afternoon long ago.

Walk out of any doorway,
Feel your way, feel your way like the day before
Maybe you'll find direction
Around some corner where it's been waiting to meet you...

What do you want me to do,
To watch for you while you're sleeping?
Well please don't be surprised,
When you find me dreaming too.

Look into any eyes,
You find by you, you can see clear through to another day.
I know it's been seen before,
Through other eyes on other days while going home...

What do you want me to do,
To do for you to see you through?
It's all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago.

Walk into splintered sunlight,
Inch your way through dead dreams to another land.
Maybe you're tired and broken,
Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear...

What do you want me to do,
To do for you to see you through?
A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through...

Just a box of rain,
     Wind and water,
          Believe it if you need it,
          If you don't, just pass it on...
Sun and shower,
     Wind and rain,
          In and out the window,
          Like a moth before a flame...

And it's just a box of rain.
I don't know who put it there.
Believe it if you need it,
Or leave it if you dare
And it's just a box of rain,
Or a ribbon for your hair.
Such a long, long time to be gone,
And a short time to be there.

[Robert Hunter and Phil Lesh, for the Grateful Dead]

David Stockman on the "bipartisan duopoly."

Stated differently, back in the day, we struggled to keep total federal spending during 1981 under $700 billion. By contrast, the Donald has borrowed nearly 4X that in the last 90 days!

So, yes, perhaps Trump’s one truthful boast is that he is indeed the king of debt.

Needless to say, there is nothing remotely rational, plausible or sustainable about an FY 2020 budget that’s going to end up with revenue south of $3 trillion and spending north of $7 trillion.

That’s not even banana republic league profligacy; it’s just sheer stupidity and madness, bespeaking a bipartisan duopoly in Washington that has had its collective brains turned into sawdust by the relentless, egregious money pumping of the central banks.

"David Stockman On What Could Happen If The Fed Loses Control." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 6/27/20.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Looking for Help/Assistance

I've started researching civil wars, in general, particularly our own CW 1.0, the Iraqi War, and the Afghanistan War, and the period immediately after (whether it involved Separation/Dissolution or Reconstruction). Anyone knowing where I might find books on any of those, or original documents about the work of Reconstruction, please put links in the comments. I'm particularly interested in how a failure to manage the after-war peace process successfully poisons the relationship for a long time.

The Central Conceit Of Fantasy And Science Fiction

     Originally I employed the word conceit in the title of this piece in its contemporary meaning: “an excessively favorable opinion of one’s own ability, importance, wit, etc.” However, I’ll allow that the earlier meaning, as a synonym for conception, would also apply. But onward to the main point.

     The central distinction between “mainstream” fiction and F&SF is an idea or practice often called worldbuilding: i.e., the creation of a fictional setting that deliberately departs from the mundane reality around us in significant ways. Worldbuilding may be considered a special case of setting: the writer’s use of descriptive and related techniques to delineate the overall characteristics of his fictional environment for the reader. Viewed thus, it differs from the sort of setting-creation mainstream writers practice only in that it embraces possibilities that aren’t (currently) possible.

     The difficulty of depicting a fictional environment is considerable. That’s true even for one rooted in mundane reality. When the writer has dramatic departures from reality in mind, the difficulty is far greater. Yet contemporary F&SF tales abound in worlds so greatly at variance with our reality that making them real to the reader is a feat only the most courageous should attempt.

     (Notice the card I palmed there? First, “mundane reality” gave way to the unqualified term “reality.” Then I shuffled both to the bottom so I could speak of making a fantasy world “real to the reader.” Beware; there may be more switchbacks to follow.)

     When the writer’s fictional world is intended to be distant from the one we live in, he faces a challenge of no small magnitude: How much of my effort – and prose – should go into the description of this world’s distinctive characteristics?

     Many F&SF writers put the greater part of their efforts into worldbuilding. It implies that they regard their fictional settings, and the imagination that went into them, as the “really important’ aspect of the stories they tell. There’s a substantial community of F&SF readers that agrees, though I’m not part of it.

     Emphasis on worldbuilding, especially as it was practiced by SF’s “Golden Age” writers, is a large part of the reason literary critics tended to dismiss science fiction as “all rocket ships and ray guns,” not a serious genre at all. Similar criticisms have been leveled at fantasy fiction and its practitioners. It’s a point that should not be fliply dismissed.

     How best to approach his worldbuilding chore is one of the most vexing questions before the aspiring F&SF writer.

     In other writings on storytelling technique, I’ve exhorted the aspiring writer to “cultivate an eye for the telling detail.” I go into this at some depth in my little tome The Storyteller’s Art. I continue to think it the best approach to description in fiction – and worldbuilding really is just a special case of description. But aspiring writers put the question to me even to this day, so it’s time to go into it with particular attention to the speculative genres. Let’s start by contrasting the approaches of two very different writers.

     First, we have Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy gets more praise for his “descriptive prowess” than any other critically acclaimed writer. But he describes everything in every scene, as if he were cataloguing the scene for some unseen painter to reproduce from his descriptions. It makes reading his books an exercise of the reader’s patience, for he leaves it to the reader to separate the important details from the rest. It’s a large part of what makes War and Peace a “classic:” i.e., a book everyone wants to have read, but no one actually wants to read.

     Second, we have Dr. Alice Sheldon, better known to SF readers as “James Tiptree, Jr.” This exceptionally gifted writer practiced a sparsity of description that surprises most who encounter her, especially on first acquaintance. Her motto, which she actually articulated on at least one occasion was “Don’t tell them!” – by which she meant, of course, don’t tell the reader: make him claw for purchase on the setting while you (the writer) concentrate on what’s happening to your characters. Sheldon’s stuff reads like a swift-flowing stream, though if you’re not sufficiently “in tune” with her method, you can miss some of what makes her stories striking.

     The contrast between these two is amplified by several orders of magnitude when we add this: Tolstoy’s “world” was Russia. Whether he was writing of Russia of his time or Russia of the Napoleonic Era, the milieu was already familiar to his readers. Yet his descriptions were extraordinarily detailed, sometimes painfully so. Sheldon’s science-fictional “worlds” were a considerable distance from her contemporary reality, as anyone familiar with her stories would agree. Yet her descriptions were so terse as to disappear in the flow of story events; she expected her reader to absorb important details without lingering over them unduly, as it was what her characters were doing that really mattered.

     The F&SF writer must aim at the tastes of the F&SF reader. But even among those readers, there’s a range of appetites for description that runs from Sheldon’s starkness to Tolstoy’s lushness. Ultimately, it’s one more demonstration of the importance to the writer of conceiving of his intended readers and writing to appeal to them.

     “But what about you, Fran?” I hear you cry. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I tend to “cheat.” When I write SF, it’s usually very-near-future stuff with only one or two departures from contemporary reality. So my “worldbuilding” task is remarkably simple, at least in comparison to the inventors of huge, galaxy-spanning epics such as Malorie Cooper’s Aeon 14 series.

     My recent fantasy The Warm Lands was another kind of “cheat.” The simplified, nearly depopulated world of Aeol after the Dieback demanded very little in the way of worldbuilding. Its pretechnological character gave it a starkness that didn’t demand a lot of description. Neither did the ascetic, rather scholarly environment of the Scholium Arcanum. But in those choices I was partly expressing my own emphasis on character development within a challenging context.

     There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to approach the challenges of worldbuilding. That having been said, allow me a caveat: Very few readers are “there” for the ingenuity of your fictional world. As I wrote recently in a somewhat different context, the reader is there for an emotional journey. Excessive concentration on your fictional milieu, no matter how proud of it you may be, will fail to satisfy their thirst for a tale that satisfies John Brunner’s Laws of Good Fiction:

  1. The raw material of fiction is people.
  2. The essence of story is change.

     Never forget that.

No preemptive surrender.

There is simply no dialogue to be had with propagandists who demand, as a condition for that dialogue, that we acknowledge as true their fantasies on race, gender, immigration, or any other element of identity politics.
"To Win the Cold Civil War, Seek Peace through Strength." By Jeremy Carl, Claremont Institute, 6/4/20.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Dreading the Fourth of November

I have begun to dread the results of the upcoming election. It seems increasingly likely to me that one of two things will happen. Either:

(1)   Joe Biden (or whoever the Democratic nominee actually is) will be elected and the nation will be given over to ruin and despoliation, or:
(2)   Donald Trump will be elected and… the the mob will exert its best efforts to create ruin and despoliation.

The last three years have been in the nature of a dress rehearsal for this election, and I expect the mob will continue rehearsing, and those who despise our country will continue organizing, in anticipation of a serious attempt to overthrow the results of the election should they be displeased with them.

I don’t think they will succeed.

I do fear they will do serious damage.

I’m not making any preparations beyond stockpiling nonperishable food in case there’s a severe disruption to the supply chain. Yes, we have weapons and ammunition, but let’s get real; we’re old and frail and live in a completely indefensible house. If major violence gets to this suburb, we’re probably dead. I think more likely the post-election turmoil will merely accelerate our moving out of Austin and closer to our daughter in Hutto, which does not seem to have gone insane yet.

But I keep remembering the old rhyme about Guy Fawkes Day:

“Please to remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

This year, if Trump is reelected, will the fourth of November become equally infamous?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Why Romance?

The perfume that she wore was from some little store
On the down side of town
But it lingered on long after she'd gone
I remember it well

And our fingers entwined like ribbons of light
And we came through a doorway somewhere in the night

Her long flowing hair came softly undone
And it lay all around
And she brushed it down as I stood by her side
In the warmth of her love

And she showed me her treasures of paper and tin
And then we played a game only she could win
And she told me a riddle I'll never forget
Then left with the answer I've never found yet

How long, said she, can a moment like this
Belong to someone
What's wrong, what is right, when to live or to die
We must almost be born

So if you should ask me what secrets I hide
I'm only your lover, don't make me decide

The perfume that she wore was from some little store
On the down side of town
But it lingered on long after she'd gone
I remember it well

And she showed me her treasures of paper and tin
And then we played a game only she could win
And our fingers entwined like ribbons of light
And we came through a doorway somewhere in the night

[“Affair on 8th Avenue,” Gordon Lightfoot]

     As I'm somewhat...old, most of my musical favorites are from decades long past. Gordon Lightfoot is prominent among them. It’s a pity he’s not better appreciated today, as he was one of the most accomplished lyricists of his time. The lyric above is a good demonstration of his romanticism.

     Lightfoot’s romantic lyrics never fail to evoke the romantic in me. (His contemporary “competitors” mostly evoke alimentary disturbances.) His imagery is unique and uniquely memorable. It puts me in mind yet again of a saying attributed to William Faulkner: that every novelist is a failed short-story writer, and every short-story writer is a failed poet. But this morning it also has me thinking about the question that forms the title of this piece, which is really a special case of a far more general question.

     To be maximally kind, most romance writers aren’t very good. That’s part of the reason contemporary romance writing features so much sex. The author knows she’s incapable of eliciting the sense of great, loving passion from her characters – see can see the lack of it in her own prose – so she falls back on something most of her readers can relate to: the physical experience of two persons coupling. Yet it’s not sex but the emotion of passionate, all-consuming love, at a height that most people will never experience in real life, that the reader is there for, which makes the substitution of sex for passion a cheat.

     The yearning to experience a strong emotion is why any consumer of fiction, in any genre or form, is there in the first place.

     Yes, I’ve written about this before. Yes, it’s something that “should” be “obvious”...though given how many hacks are out there churning out bad fiction – fiction whose primary impact is more emetic than dramatic – at mind-boggling rates, my habitual codicil that “obvious” means “overlooked” seems applicable.

     Now, I don’t think my own drivel is any great improvement on the Thundering Herd of Semi-Literate Poseurs with Word Processors. But every now and then, I’ve hit that special note for someone, and have been rewarded with a personal note of thanks, or a review like the following:

     Science fiction writer John C. Wright had something to say about this to us who lament our tiny readerships and pitiful revenue streams:

     I write for that one reader I will never see, the one who needs just such a tale as I can pen, in just such a time and place, some rainy afternoon or dark hour, when providence will bring my book into his hands. And he will open it, and it will not be a book, but a casement, from which he will glimpse the needed vision his soul requires of a world larger than our own, or a star in a heaven wider and higher than ours, a star aflame with magic more majestic than any star mortal astronomers can name.

     I humbly but strongly suggest you write for that unknown reader also, and not for worldly praise, or influence, or pelf, or applause. The world flatters popular authors, and the clamor of the multitude of brazen tongues is vanity. It is dust on the wind. The unknown reader will greet your work with love. It is a crown of adamant, solid and enduring.

     You will never meet that one reader, not in this life. In heaven he will come to you and fall on his face and anoint your feet with tears of gratitude, and you will stand astonished and humbled, having never suspected.

     And the key to it is emotion. Laura Schultz found in The Sledgehammer Concerto the emotional experience she seeks from her fiction reading. How many other readers received – or failed to receive – that experience, I’ll never know. But one did, which made the labor of conceiving and writing the book entirely worthwhile.

     Which makes the “sex instead of passion” tendency among contemporary writers of romance even more deplorable.

     All the above is essentially prefatory to this: I was recently privileged to read an advance copy of Margaret Ball’s soon-to-be-released Regency fantasy romance Tangled Magic. It’s set in the same fantasy-Regency milieu as her marvelous novel Salt Magic. If anything, it’s even better than its predecessor: more magical and more romantic, though with many humorous and ironic sub-threads woven into its fabric. If you have a romantic bone in your body, this book will find and thrill it for you. Keep an eye out for it.

     Bravo, Margaret! At last, someone else who understands the point of all this suffering! And with that, it’s time to get back to my own steaming-pile-of-crap-under-construction. Have a nice day.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Necessity Of Going On The Attack

     A war concludes when one side’s will to continue fighting is exhausted. Sometimes that requires the complete elimination of the losing side. Indeed, that was proposed in late 1945, even though Admiral Doenitz had announced Germany’s surrender to the Allies and Emperor Hirohito had announced Japan’s surrender to the United States. But far more often, the loser simply loses the will to resist, and says so plainly.

     However, you cannot attain victory by remaining forever on defense. In our current war with the forces of chaos, we’re the ones on defense, and slowly losing our will to continue. More, there are indications that we’re running out of time to flip things around.

     Have a tale from Jolly Olde England:

     The girlfriend of the man who flew a “white lives matter” banner over a football match in the UK has been fired from her job after refusing to take “intensive racial sensitivity training.”

     The banner was seen trailing behind a plane over Manchester City’s Etihad stadium on Monday before the club’s Premier League game with Burnley.

     It provoked widespread condemnation and a police investigation, although authorities subsequently concluded that no criminal offense had been committed.

     The person responsible for the banner, Burnley fan Jamie Hepple, faced a social media witch hunt although he responded with a Facebook post that said, “I’d like to take this time to apologise… TO ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOBODY!”

     However, after a Twitter mob discovered the employment details of his girlfriend Megan, she was fired by Solace Foot Health and Reflexology simply for being guilty by association.

     A statement released by the company said they were “willing to try to help Megan by paying for Intensive Racial Sensitivity training” but that Megan had evidently refused to be re-educated and would rather leave, meaning she was effectively fired for being the boyfriend of a man who thinks “white lives matter.”

     If you’re not grinding your teeth over that story – especially the bit about “trying to ‘help’ Megan” – you’d better stay far away from me. But my point isn’t the scrofulousness of the event. It’s this: Megan was not fired because of “guilt by association.” Megan was fired for a slightly more complex, considerably more cowardly reason:

  1. Megan is / was Jamie Hepple’s girlfriend;
  2. It was likely that the very Leftists who were enraged by Hepple’s banner would know that;
  3. Solace Foot Health and Reflexology feared to become a Left-targeted organization.

     The owners of Solace Foot Health and Reflexology, you see, did not believe themselves capable of defending their company from Leftists’ attacks. Knowing the Left’s propensity for targeting anyone and anything associated with whoever has angered them, those unworthies decided on a preemptive surrender. That it cost an innocent woman her livelihood, which might not be so easy to replace, was of far less consequence to them.

     “But what if Megan had accepted the sensitivity training?” I hear you cry. I don’t think it would have mattered. She would have been forced out of her job sooner or later anyway, because of her association with Hepple. The Left is relentless at pursuing the associates of their targets. That’s their pattern, and to this point they have not departed from it.

     There is one and only one way to prevail against these monsters: we must go on the attack. They must be hunted down and beaten down, individually and collectively, so severely that they cannot imagine daring to rise ever again. The process must be so thorough and so remorseless that our consciences quail at the notion. Indeed, I have no doubt that it will involve permanent injuries and fatalities. That’s in the nature of a war – and a war is what’s in progress, the notions of some custardheaded types in the Corporate Pseudo-Right notwithstanding.

     Anything less will mean an unending series of events like the one Paul Joseph Watson describes in the story cited above.

     Why? Simply because we have too much to defend: Too many people, too many businesses, too many institutions, too many items of cultural and historical value. We cannot defend them all continuously; indeed, we cannot defend even a small fraction of them well enough to prevent violence and vandalism that will cripple our entire society. We cannot outlast the destroyers. We must hunt them down and punish them so severely that they cannot rise again.

     Our great disadvantages are the media, which continues to protect the Leftist destroyers, e.g., by characterizing them as “protesters,” and the so-called forces of order, which are de facto on the Left’s side. That makes offensive action by decent Americans risky...which doesn’t make it any less imperative. The general unwillingness to take a risk in defense of the existing order is what makes militant revolutionary minorities capable of overthrowing such an order. At some point, we must either attack or surrender.

     Our sole advantage in this is that the destroyers of the Left are cowards. They only strike where the possibility of harm or penalty to them is infinitesimal. If a sufficient fraction of them are killed, crippled, or imprisoned until they’re old and gray, the rest will furl their evil colors. But that won’t happen until we embrace the necessity of going on offense – and the indications are that too many of us are “too comfortable,” too convinced that “it can’t happen here,” to insistent that “someone else will deal with it,” to do so at this time.

     Just a morose thought with which to kick off your Thursday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Quickies: The “Early Morning Yucks.”

     [A reposting from March 2013. I just stumbled over it and decided that “a little levity” is as strongly desirable now as it was then. -- FWP]

     This joint can get awfully heavy, some times. Herewith, a bit of morning fun.

     Regular Gentle Readers will already know that I rise from my coffin at 4:00 AM. That's not a preference but a necessity that's become a strong habit. Neither is it entirely pleasant to get out of bed in the dark and face myself in the mirror. I don't look good at my very best, and my visage at 4:00 AM is far from "my very best."

     And so, upon arising this morning and confronting my image in the bathroom mirror, I emitted a brief but impassioned "yuck." The C.S.O. heard me and said, most eloquently, "Yuck?"

     My reply: "Nothing, nothing. Just an early morning yuck."

     And with that, I was off on one of my infrequent ("Thank God!" -- the C.S.O.) spasms of versification:

In the early mornin' yucks,
When the whole world looks like mud,
There's a rumblin' in my gut,
And my eyes are full of crud.
I'm a long way from the shop,
And I hate my commute so,
But my bills won't pay themselves,
So I guess I've gotta go.

Bombin' down the L.I.E.,
With a million other fools,
Crossin' lanes like there's no lines,
Don't these idjits know the rules?
Hope they've got somewhere to go,
Worth the risk to life and limb,
Can't be sure myself, and so,
Think I'll sing my fav'rite hymn.

Here I am now, once again,
In the cubicle called "mine."
Hackin' at some lousy code,
For the ninety-seventh time.
Guy who wrote it should be shot,
But the lucky bastard's gone.
And it's what they pay me for,
So I 'spose I'll just keep on.

Quittin' time don't come too soon,
Though my soul does yearn to split.
But there's stuff I've got to do,
Lots of supervisor shit.
Love to kick it to the curb,
But I need some heavy bucks,
So I'd best be pressin' on,
Despite the early morning yucks.

[With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot.]

     And how has your day gone so far, Gentle Reader?

Quickies: Concerning The “Goldwater Rule”

     Most Americans wouldn’t remember this contretemps. It passed too quickly to be imprinted indelibly on the national memory. All the same, it was an atrocious episode, in which one major party attempted to use a pseudo-medical diagnosis to disqualify the other major party’s candidate for the presidency. The American Psychiatric Association, to its credit, immediately acted to quell such infamies in future political campaigns.

     For a long time, the Left was miffed about the Goldwater Rule. It appears that they’ve decided to do an end-run around it:

     #UNFIT is a film featuring a bunch of therapists who have never interviewed or diagnosed Trump:
     “Medical doctors and mental health professionals go on camera, on the record, for the record – it’s an eye-opening discussion, analysis, and science-based examination of the behavior, psyche, condition, and stability of President Donald Trump.”

     Note the “science-based” thing, once again. Not only is psychiatry not a science, but the Goldwater Rule, which was instituted to protect the field against exactly this sort of abuse, forbids this sort of flummery, in spirit if not in letter.

     But the behavior of “mental health professionals” has long made normal people suspect that only the mentally ill go into that field. Their conceit about the health and stability of someone they’ve never even met – someone incomparably more accomplished than all of them put together – is evidence to that effect. Corrosive envy can unbalance anyone.

     Self-styled “professionals” are like that. Throw a sop to their vanity and they’ll do practically anything you ask. After all, you’re playing to their major weakness: their opinion of themselves as superior to others who lack their credentials. The less objective substance their self-regard has, the more likely they are to respond like a seal barking and clapping for being thrown a fish.

     As far as I know, no disciplinary measures have been applied to the “professionals” involved in this scrofulous film. Perhaps popular denunciation will suffice, though we’ll need to wait and see.

Why is Fake News So Important?

In the case of economic news, it's because people make many life decisions based on its accuracy. This news, about the housing market, is one that I wouldn't have anticipated, based on the current gloom & doom from the media.

But, the news fits what I'm hearing from many other people. My own 'news gathering' - asking people "How are you doing?", and listening to their answers - has not, generally, turned up many people with serious issues.

They are making it. They have food in the cupboard, a roof over their heads, and can pay their current bills without fear of being tossed onto the street with all their belongings. Almost everyone, when the forced isolation hit, cut expenses to the bone, loaded up on staples, and watched any purchases carefully.

That was the sensible advice being given to them from financial experts, and, it looks like they listened.

Now, some might want to argue that my sample is skewed heavily towards the retirees. It's true that many of my closest and personal long-time friends are around my age. Most of us have developed some savings, a steady income, and own property.

But, it also include their children and grandchildren - who are not situated in such a stable situation. True, a few are in serious circumstances. I had a nephew, not so well-situated, who died of an illness (not COVID-related) fairly early this year. Due to travel restrictions, we weren't even able to be there for his wife and kids.

They are hurting, not just emotionally, but also because just about all of them were hit with job losses, inability to get social services due to the large numbers seeking them at the same time, and - even with pooling money among the family - in a bad way. It was about the worst situation I've seen.

And, yet, they are managing. The 'Trump money' - intended to reduce calls on the states that weren't going to be able to respond - was a big help. Eventually, unemployment kicked in. Some managed to find other sources of income. And, emotionally, they have each other.

I've little doubt that they will weather this storm, and emerge stronger.

The National Bureau of Economic Research sure was quick to declare a covid-19 recession on June 8. It cited an increase in unemployment, a decrease in retail sales, and a drop in economic activities -- lasting more than a few months.

While it all seems scientific -- arithmetic and numbers are involved -- those last six words show it is a judgment call.

A sudden and sharp rise in unemployment, a sudden and sharp drop in sales, and a corresponding sudden and sharp drop in stock prices are alarming, but if they are not lasting more than a few months, you do not have a recession.
Before blindly accepting the news that is promoted as factual, ask yourself:
  • Is the Media showing a mix of news - some good for Trump, some bad - or is there a direction to the news (always in a way that puts Trump in a bad light)? Random chance would generate actual news that, at least sometimes, is good for Trump. And, yet, it seldom is. That consistent finding indicates that there is bias shaping the slant of any reporting.
  • What are the sources? Unnamed "highly placed" people who talk smack behind the boss's back? Would you trust someone at work who never said a dissenting word directly to the boss, but never had a civil one behind his back? Of course not.
  • What documents do they cite? Ones written by someone with an agenda? Documents that are not shown, because they are classified? Handwritten notes that are ambiguous? The foundations of Fake News are quite shaky, when you examine them closer.
  • What experts are cited? Are they asking biologists about changes in climate? Doctors about pharmacology? Political organizations about the economy? Just because someone has a 'doctor' in front of their name doesn't make them an expert on everything. Too often, the dissent is manufactured by those whose advice has been ignored - sometimes, ignored for good reason. One of the most common source of so-called experts is a Bought & Paid-for Think Tank - and, often, George Soros or his allies are the paymaster.
  • When the Media bring in opposing viewpoints, do they let them answer questions at length? Or do they edit any interviews down to Info Bites, that may completely twist the meaning of the conversation? Are the same tired old 'experts' used, again and again, in a quixotic effort to Bring Down Trump? Does the so-called expert have a long-standing vendetta against Trump?
I hate to write this all in terms of Trump - Lord knows, he is NOT a perfect person. However, he serves as a lightning rod for attacks by the Left.

Another aspect to the issue of Fake News is the sudden promotion of old incidents that pretty much everyone knew about already, but, this time, with the pretense that "I'm Shocked! Shocked!"

Why now?

My personal suspicion is that there's a Person of Color/Ethnicity/Sexual Expression that wants that job. Removing the present holder of that slot is a quick way to achieve that objective.

Quickies: The Anti-Lockdown Position

     I’ve been against this “social distancing / stay home” BS since it first began. My chief reason is simple: Viruses don’t go away. A virus that’s in circulation will eventually infect everyone on Earth...well, everyone who doesn’t have the grace to die of something else first. This is because viruses are not truly alive in the sense used by life scientists, and therefore cannot go “extinct.”

     So once a virus capable of infecting the human body is out there, we’re all fated to get it. If it’s a very nasty one, some will die of it. Yet mark this: far more deaths are due to bacterial diseases, against which there are numerous forms of treatment and immunization, than to viruses. Why this should be, I cannot say, and I don’t know if anyone can. Still, the facts are as they are.

     But that’s all just recapitulation. This morning I have in mind something a physician told me years ago, when I was moderately ill with something infectious. His advice? Stay outdoors as much as possible.

     I was puzzled by his recommendation and asked for an explanation. He smiled and said “It’s virtually impossible to stay sick outdoors. You’re continuously cleaning your body with fresh air. It’s a better purgative than anything your pharmacist has in stock.”

     That was more than thirty years ago. I’ve taken his advice since then...and ever since, no infectious disease has troubled me for more than a day.

     Now, I’d imagine that there are circumstances where “stay outdoors” isn’t the course to follow. Los Angeles or London during peak smog season, perhaps. But for most First Worlders, it seems a wise move, for the reasons my long-ago doctor gave me. And that implies that the whole “lockdown” regime is actually a measure antithetical to the health of those who follow it.

     It’s become clear that Fauci’s Fools have been lying through their teeth this whole time, both about the Wuhan Virus’s danger to us and about what we ought to do in the face of it. Would they have an interest in getting us sick and keeping us that way? At this point I’m disinclined to discount the notion out of hand. What about you, Gentle Reader?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Indoctrination Disguised as Education

Proper educators should NOT be working to indoctrinate a particular point of view in their students.

The push to go along with the Officially-Supported Group Think has long been a problem in schools. Unlike the schools of my childhood, today's schools demonize one side, and not-so-subtly nudge students toward not-always-voluntary support of the Leftist causes.

Kids are vulnerable to being coerced to going along with 'the group'. At every age, their desire to make friends and fit in is usually greater than their willingness to stand up against pressure. It doesn't have to use actual force, or threats.

Just the knowledge that they will be socially isolated is enough to get almost all the kids to buckle under, and voice support they may not believe. At the very least, they are almost sure to be silent.

And, as Saint Thomas More is reported to have said, "Silence gives consent."

In my career, I've known few kids to be willing to stand up to group pressure to conform. One of them, a Junior, was in an Honors Chemistry class in 2016. He put stickers on his school-issued laptop supporting Trump (most kids decorated their laptops; that made it easy to distinguish yours from all the others). He was vocal, and eloquent, about his reasons for supporting him.

The kids were dismissive; they KNEW that HRC was going to Crush Trump.

Until the day after the election, when they sat, stunned at the loss.

The kid was nice about it. He didn't gloat at their defeat. He just enjoyed the sweet smell of victory.

But, he was a rare one. Kids who will stand against the crowd are few. Funnily, it's the children of the Elite who are less likely to buck the crowd; the Deplorables have nothing to lose by holding to their principles.

The Left is likely using this time, before school starts, to furiously compose their little modules and resource materials, to supplement the existing curriculum in schools. 

People, particularly the more thoughtful ones, are beginning to see that the situation is not just another "riot in the ghetto while the sun shines" same-as-usual outbreak. This is war. This is revolution.

And, unless the local governments get off their butts, the Leftist may well succeed, at least in the cities.

Not As Clear a Separation as You Might Think

Sen. Marsha Blackburn is urging the DOJ to investigate Google for possible suppression of Free Speech, based on political viewpoint.

Your initial thought might be, They're a private company, so this is not gonna fly.

But, then, somewhere in the part-Neanderthal brain that your cunning Euro-descended blogger possesses, I had a slight memory of case law that was decided differently.

Watch later this summer (like, when it gets hot and uncomfortable to march around in the heat) for this to be exploited by BLM and their allies.

Otherwise, any activity will mostly be after darkness falls, and the burning sun is no longer sapping the poor, misunderstood youts's strength. And, when the cover of darkness provides some protection against gettin' busted for vandalism/theft/assault.

So, to re-cap:

There is precedent for putting some oversight on private companies' restriction of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Barr can take that precedent, and run it right up Google's a$$.

Game ON!

Fantastic SF Or SFey Fantasy?

     The argument over where the boundary – if any – between science fiction and fantasy lies will probably go on forever. Now that I have one foot in each world, it’s on my mind with increased force.

     I’ve often thought of SF as a realm in which there are rules, even if those rules are not those of our contemporary reality, whereas in fantasy it’s “anything goes.” Yet several great fantasists have put a lot of effort into rationalizing their fantasy worlds, imposing binding rules and limitations upon their operation, while in SF important technological motifs are often presented as “part of the scene,” such that the reader must take them on faith despite the clash with known physical law.

     Perhaps it’s really a matter of “feel:” the sense the reader gets from the setting and the key motifs. Elves? Fantasy. FTL travel? SF. At this point in my own writer’s journey, that might be the best I can do.

     But there’s another aspect of fictional construction that’s on my mind at the moment.

     “It’s really going to happen, isn’t it?” Martin murmured.
     Althea felt him pull himself more closely against her back.
     “Yes, it is,” she said. “Tomorrow afternoon or evening at the latest.”
     “Why, love?”
     “Because I’m ready, the ship is ready—”
     “No, not why tomorrow.” He rotated her in his arms until she was facing him. “Why go at all? What makes it so bleeding important?”
     She studied his face in the evening gloom.
     “I’ve already told you,” she said. “It was my grandparents’ deathbed request. Grandmere Teresza said it was what she and Grandpere Armand wanted for me. They left me five million dekas’ seed money. But you knew all that. What else can I say?”
     He took a moment to respond.
     “Yes, you’ve told me all that,” he said at last. “But that just tells me it was important to them. What made it important to you?”
     She started to reply, bit it back, and thought about it.
     “You’re right,” she said. “There’s a missing step. It is important to me. It’s the thing I want to do most in all the world. It has been since I was eighteen years old. Even with all the expense and the effort and us about to be apart for three years. But I’ve never thought much about why that should be.”
     He waited in silence.
     She put her hands to the sides of his face, pulled it close, and rubbed her lips gently over his. His lips parted and she ran the tip of her tongue over their inner surfaces.
     “Do you like that?” she whispered into his mouth.
     “You know I do,” he said.
     “But why?”
     “What? Because—” He paused, drew a little back, and looked at her curiously. “I just do. It feels good. It’s you, you loving me. It's a little reminder of all the rest of our intimacies. Why do you ask?”
     “Because,” she whispered, “I don’t have any better answer. I want to go to space, Martin. I just do. I want to wander the stars. I want to see other worlds, and rub their soil between my fingers, and learn to love them as I’ve loved this world. I need to know whether there’s life on any of them. I hope there is. It will mean more to see and learn...more to love.
     “Grandmere Teresza once told me that I have the look of an adventurer. She said she expected that I’d be unsatisfied with a single world. I was very young, but I knew what she meant. When she told me about her and Grandpere Armand’s ambition for me, it became my ambition too, right then and there. The five million was just help getting started.
     “Life is pretty pointless if you don’t have an ambition. If you have a really big one, complete with dreams of fame and fortune, and you have even a ghost of a chance of pulling it off, you’d be a fool to point yourself in any other direction. It’s got its downside, of course. If you succeed, you get the sense of fulfillment, and the fame and fortune, but if you fail, you have to live with big failure. There’s the what-next problem, too. The bigger your successes, the tougher it is to think of something to follow them up with. But the alternative is accepting mediocrity. Boredom. Doing what other people could do just as well, and never knowing what you could do with your full powers.” [From Freedom’s Scion]

     Althea Morelon is my most fully realized character. She fulfilled a number of desiderata for me. She’s a woman of a kind otherwise unknown to speculative fiction. She combines great physical, intellectual, and paraphysical powers, yet she’s also a woman of strong emotions, who needs to be loved, especially by her husband Martin and her large, widely extended clan. Beyond that, she’s afflicted with a yearning for adventure that can only be slaked by doing what others have never done...indeed, what others cannot do. In other words, her needs are as imperative as her powers are potent.

     There are no Altheas in the real world. In all probability, there never will be. The psi powers I granted her are impossible to the human, low-voltage, direct-current brain. Yet her adventures in the Spooner Federation novels have the “SFey feel,” such that ten out of ten readers would classify those books as science fiction. The central character’s impossible powers don’t seem to dent that feel.

     My most recent novel, The Warm Lands, was my first step into fantasy fiction. It’s equipped with fantasy trappings: magic, a pretechnological milieu, a social separation between nobles and the common folk, and between sorcerers and everyone else. Yet it garnered this review:

     That got me thinking. There is a “sciency” cast to my depiction of sorcery and sorcerers in The Warm Lands. While not everyone has “the gift,” even the gifted require training, discipline, and access to a “natural resource.” The master sorcerers of the Scholium Arcanum are thinkers as well as magicians. They know they can’t merely wave their hands and command that the universe “make it so.” They study the world and the nature of Man, that they might grasp accurately what they can and cannot do, and just as important, what they should and should not do. The Precepts of the Arcana, the “laws” by which sorcerers are governed, illuminate this:

The Seven Precepts Of The Arcana

1. The mind of Man is sacred. It is not to be violated.
2. Mana is the most powerful of all known forces. It is not to be trifled with.
3. By the natural order of things, the world will resist the operations of the sorcerer. Be ever mindful.
4. The sorcerer must know his business. He must refrain from the uncertain course.
5. The sorcerer will always be feared. He must harm no innocent and must speak only truth.
6. The sorcerer must always suspect hidden motives in one who petitions him to act on his behalf.
7. Of only one thing must a sorcerer be perfectly certain: There are laws which he does not yet know.

Theron of Malagra
First Grand Master of the Arcana

     Those strictures seemed to me to be essential to an orderly, comprehensible fantasy: one in which mere power doesn’t suffice for all things and the deus is kept far away from the machina. “Sciency?” Yes. But as with the Spooner Federation books, ten out of ten readers would unhesitatingly declare The Warm Lands to be fantasy, because of its “fantasy feel.”

     These are just a few thoughts about a pleasant, unthreatening subject, Gentle Reader. The news is uniformly bleak. The nation is in turmoil. I’ve been looking longingly at the Barrett .50 and wondering how long it would take me to hunt down racialist huckster and counterfeit Negro Shaun King, whose cranium could stand to be enhanced by a round of high-velocity lead. So today instead of a political Jeremiad, you get a piece about one of the oldest and most contentious subjects in speculative fiction.

     Have a nice day.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

For Father’s Day 2020

     Just a few thoughts. Not entirely pleasant ones.

     Happy Father’s Day.

Warning: Expect Your Community Teachers to Demand MORE Money...

...to return to school in the fall.

The AFT is on another Hunt for More Money. This time, they're using the excuse of COVID-19 to argue for it.

So, what are they prepared to GIVE for that money?

Not much, apparently. The Giving is all one-way - in THEIR direction.

Now, I'm not going to write that teachers are all layabouts - most work diligently to teach sometimes fractious and resistant learners. It isn't easy to teach the modern child; they are simultaneously the most indulged and cosseted offspring of all time, and also bereft of hands-on guidance from mature adults.

That's not all of them. Some children, like others in previous times, have effective and caring parents guiding their growth - physical, mental, and emotional. Those parents put honest effort into the task, putting off their immediate wants for their children's needs.

But, frankly, there are some parents who feel most of their job is done once their children have been toilet-trained (if they put the effort in that long). I'm always dismayed to hear of the many children who reach kindergarten without being able to identify colors, count objects to 100, and identify the letters of the alphabet, to name just a few necessary precursors to formal educations. They don't understand classifying objects by similarities - for example, by size or function (used in the kitchen, something a baby would use, cleaning objects, for example). No one has ever had them learn the names of coins, and their value compared to other coins. 

They can't do basic clean-up of their own messes (some see no need, and are generally puzzled by the idea that they should have to clean up the chaos they created). They've not had regular chores for which they are responsible. They don't eat at a table, or as a family. Some have never used silverware.

Behaviors that need to be mastered for school success - ability to be quiet while others are talking, not hitting when angry or annoyed, not breaking into song or dance when moved to do so - have often not been taught by family. Some children have seldom experienced time without electronic entertainment available. They get fidgety when forced to be without it.

This doesn't describe all, or even most of the children. But, the fact that many classrooms have these children in them, and must accommodate their lack of skills and knowledge, makes teaching a challenging occupation.

Most of today's teachers used technology in their classrooms. But, they didn't have to manage teaching solely with its assistance. Most managed, although many complained about having to do so without help from the districts. I would expect this summer to have professional development to work on techniques and use of Zoom and other mediums for transmitting lessons. At this point, few are sure about when, and how, education in person will commence.

But, parents have made changes, too. Some have found that they were able to make progress in home-teaching. Most will eventually use public schools; the problem is, some will not. Just a few families in every school being added to the current population of home-schoolers will mean that district money will decrease.

The real problem with public schools is NOT that the teachers are no good - most do an effective job of teaching their classes, given the constraints put on their performance.

The real problem is that schools are Conformity Factories. They have accepted the ways of the Chinese Brainwashers, who, against those captured troops in the Korean War, unwittingly fell into a Collaboration Trap.

It starts with gentle talking to the subject. They are questioned, and 'nudged' to provide a very mild agreement with a Leftist-framed "truth". After they do so, they are gradually guided to provide VERBAL agreement with other, more detailed and Leftist ideas/phrases/philosophy.

It starts subtly. It builds on that every day, and - eventually - the student is surprised to find himself openly siding with those whose aims, goals, and ideals are completely distant from his own beliefs.

Understand me - Teachers are NOT deliberately turning their students into mindless followers of the Left (at least, MOST of them are not). But they are taking the tiny steps that gradually lead to that outcome.

I thank God every day that I was born into a family that believed it their God-given right to think and act contrary to the "Wisdom of the Group". I had a daily example of seeing people act according to THEIR principles, and to Hell with what others thought.

Provocation And Counterattack

     Every now and then, it’s important, even for the most confrontation-averse of us, to go on the attack. In politics and public discourse, the unwillingness ever to attack, even when a clearly positive opportunity presents itself, is a fatal weakness. No battle can be won by remaining permanently on the defensive. All that even the most successful defense can achieve is to endure.

     However, spotting the time and place to attack is a variety of discernment that requires refinement. The exchange proposed here is a good example of how one can attack the Left’s current favorite rhetorical tactic, often with devastating effect. However, the typical cringing reflex reaction most whites have to being called a racist inhibits the perception of the opportunity.

     David Harsanyi’s article at The Daily Signal presents a good case for study:

     “Words are violence” has always been an illiberal notion meant to stifle speech and open discourse. Popularized by a generation of coddled and brittle college students, it now guides policy on editorial pages at newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, and most major news outlets....

     You may also have noticed another progressive slogan gaining popularity these days: “Silence is violence.” It’s no longer enough not to peddle wrongthink in the op-ed pages of the local paper, but now you must also actively champion woke progressive positions or you, too, are tacitly engaged in violence and racism.

     This is a neat trick: To speak out in the wrong way is violence. Not to speak out is violence. Not to speak out in the way progressives dictate is violence. This is why your apolitical local lawn care company is sending out emails promising to dedicate themselves to Black Lives Matter. No one wants to be accused of harboring counterrevolutionary sympathies.

     Harsanyi stops short of the obvious inference, possibly because he doesn’t want to be accused of felonious incitement. Yet I, your fearless Curmudgeon Emeritus, will state it openly, and in large font at that:

If words are violence,
And silence is violence,
Then I’m ready for some real violence!
Are you, Lefties?

     At which point the Left, which is acutely conscious of its minority standing – why else would it be attempting censorship by intimidation? – will swiftly back off. Being outnumbered and outgunned five to one will normally elicit a plea for an armistice, Jim Morrison’s silly notions notwithstanding.

     Here’s another, ironically presented by someone who might know better, superannuated guitarist Peter Frampton:

     This is dishonest, and dishonesty always signals an opportunity for a counterattack. The simplest method is to highlight the dishonesty and the agenda it conceals:

     “If you don’t like my saying that ‘White Lives Matter,’ you clearly think they don’t. You think the thousands of white victims of black criminals are insignificant, whereas the nine unarmed blacks killed by the police last year are all-important. You think blacks should be immune to the law and law enforcement, even as black rioters and looters demonstrate how important to the protection of white lives and property the law and the police really are. That makes you a supporter of thugs. Keep your hands where I can see them and back away from me slowly, dude; I’m armed.”

     Yes, there’s anger in the retort. Anger is appropriate at such a time. If you’re a decent American, you’d better be angry right now. What I’ve cited here are important tactics in a campaign intended to take your country from you. Anyone who grasps that is either angry as hell or part of the Leftist insurrection.

     Have a few words from KT at Ace’s place:

     [D]uring the Korean War, the ChiComs got American POWs to cooperate with them by encouraging small concessions. And I've noticed that people are starting to pay more attention to the Marxist training of the activists who started BLM.

     Could that have anything to do with people feeling manipulated by the phrase, "Black Lives Matter"? Could it have anything to do with people losing their jobs for saying "All Lives Matter"? Why all the efforts to explain why it is necessary to repeat the mantra, "Black Lives Matter"?

     The Left and its black racialist adjunct aren’t striving to “explain” anything. They’re working to suppress facts and the convictions the facts support, and to program us with a sense of guilt for nonexistent offenses. Ceaseless repetition of a simple maxim, a tactic revolutionaries have used for many decades, can do little more...but it can do that much, if we fail to counterattack it with energy and, yes, anger:

Activist: Black Lives Matter!
American: Prove it, scumbag.

     Have a nice day.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

We're in the Middle of Year Zero - the Reset

It wasn't immediately apparent. The news about C-19 took most of our attention. But, the way that the Left exploited the opportunity was clearly in the making long before the recent protests/riots/uprisings.

The Left had prepared for this (well, to be fair, thanks to the preceding presidency, the Non-Leftist Dissidents (NLDs) had gone on an arms spree that should buy them some time). I strongly suggest that you step up your prep activities - focusing FIRST on improving your health/physical condition. I've been following Weight Watchers for the last 3 weeks, and am prepared to get on a conditioning program as soon as I am cleared by my doctors to resume exercise.

I've also been re-reading the Kurt Schlichter series - the Kelly Trumbell books. I'm picking up things I missed the first time I read them. I keep seeing parallels with the uprisings that are occurring, and the responses of the various power centers of the country:
  • Executive - Trump's best action has been to get out of the way, clearing out regs that aren't needed, and standing as a lightning rod for Leftist protests. It takes some of the heat off the rest of us.
  • Military - I think it's clear that Kurt's prediction that the brass will go along with the Left, while the enlisted and non-coms will side with the country.
  • Cops/Sheriffs - locally, get these guys on board with The Normals now. Work to stop the abuses of the local law enforcement, and find a way to de-militarize them BEFORE they turn the munitions on the people.
  • Network LOCALLY. National movements aren't as effective as loosely affiliated local groups, working together on specific actions.
  • Communications - you absolutely HAVE to cultivate alternative communication methods. Radio is the one form that they really can't completely shut down. The ability to set up in a mobile formation bypasses the ability of the government to throw the switch on cell phones. And, yes, they DO have that kill switch, and they will not hesitate to use it if they deem it necessary. But, also, keeping that cell on opens you to having your location tracked. Also, courier methods, using people who already travel a lot (truckers, delivery drivers, salesmen), is a backup for hard copy information movement. Cultivate a network of people, and prepare to use them for info transport.
  • Keep your kids in the virtual school/homeschool mode. Nothing you could do with that freedom that comes with other people taking care of your kids most of the day will compensate for the pain of seeing them on the other side of the dispute. Don't give the indoctrinators the opportunity to ruin their life.
  • Pray. Some of you are believers, some are not. If you have a Higher Power, use it. If you don't, read the philosophers that lie at the base of Democracy/Republican life, and use those readings to guide your actions.
It may be that this will peter out. I lived through that time period when the nation was nearly brought down by Leftists. I am not anxious to repeat that experience, as this time, it will not end without a large body count.

Doubt we're there, yet?

What Will The Consequences Be?

     The deliberately fomented rioting, looting, and destruction of the past week have transformed several American cities into war zones: places where you don’t belong if you’re not willing to be taken for a combatant. While the “rationale” is “police racism,” supposedly exemplified by the still-contested death of George Floyd and the fully justified shooting of Rayshard Brooks, the real motivation is to render the country, or a large part thereof, ungovernable. The Left intends thus to effect a transition of federal power from Right to Left.

     There are two conceivable federal responses to this insurrection:

  1. To declare that the responsibility for restoring order rests on the afflicted cities and states;
  2. To intervene with military force, in effect imposing martial law on those cities and states.

     If there’s a third approach that differs significantly from those two, I can’t think what it might be.

     Unfortunately, federal law presents an ambiguous argument. The first responsibility, according to the Insurrection Act of 1807 as amended in 2007, lies with the state governments. The president is authorized to use federal forces only if “domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.”

     The argument turns on the meaning of the word incapable. In those cities worst afflicted by rioting and looting, the state governments have largely declined to act. But incapable does not mean unwilling. State garrisons of the National Guard might well be adequate to the task, were they permitted to undertake it. We can’t know in advance of the attempt.

     It seems from this that the president lacks a legal basis for using the U.S. Army. In effect, the unwillingness of the state governments to act has denied him the legal rationale he would need. However, there’s a fly in the ointment the size of a B-52: the possibility of a Presidential Finding that by tolerating the rioting without responding to it, the relevant state governments have aligned themselves with the rioters and are therefore in a state of insurrection.

     And the legal tangle doesn’t end there. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution puts the authority for suppressing an insurrection in the hands of Congress. While the Insurrection Act seems to be Congress’s full and appropriate contribution to the matter, persons adverse to the use of federal force against the rioters and complaisant state governments could still argue that funding for such an operation requires explicit Congressional appropriation.

     A fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, eh, Ollie?

     As the calendar advances toward November 3, the political consequences of the riots and the possible responses to them are likely to overshadow the practical consequences to the rioters, their organizers, and the cities and states that continue to tolerate them.

     It seems indisputable that the organizers of these riots have as their object the removal of President Donald Trump from the Oval Office. Indeed, a founder of “Black Lives Matter” has said so openly. That makes the political reaction to the riots among ordinary Americans a critical consideration.

     Tucker Carlson, with whom I (and a great many other viewers) usually agree, seems to be demanding a forcible federal response:

     He’s likely to get a lot of concurrences for that view, especially from decent Americans in or near the affected cities. However, Kurt Schlichter has an argument for not deploying federal forces:

     There are two types of operations relevant here – kinetic and information. A kinetic operation is actual warfare. It’s violence designed to defeat the enemy and cause his surrender by either physically destroying him or occupying his territory and compelling surrender. An information operation is designed to affect the perceptions, and thereby the actions, of the target. Kinetic ops tend to do something to the enemy; an info op tends to get the target to do something to himself.

     Elections are usually information operations. They attempt to build a narrative and play on perceptions and cause the target to take the action that will lead to victory. That is, get the target (the electorate) vote for the candidate the info operator wants elected.

     Okay, so what is the 2020 elections, with the rioting, vandalism, violence and occupations?

     This still an information operation, not a kinetic one.

     They want to convince us we are powerless, that everyone else supports their commie agenda, that we cannot win. Their tactics are designed to create that impression and crush our morale. These include the 24/7 media hype, the outright media lies, the movie stars with their dumb PSAs, the staged statue attacks, the corporate solidarity proclamations, the social media cancellations, and the craven kneeling by people who are supposed to stand up for us. But another tactic, familiar to any student of insurgencies, is to provoke an overreaction by those in power in order to undermine its moral authority. They want is to make us (including the president) think this is a kinetic operation, and get our side to make fundamental strategic errors by failing to recognize the true nature of the threat. They hope that such a mismatch between perception and reality will then lead to gravely damaging blunders. One of those would be Trump succumbing to his legit frustration and sending in a bunch of federal troops to crack skulls in Seattle.

     Which argument – the demand for bold leadership and swift suppressive federal action, or the counterpoised demand to let the riots hang the Left electorally – is likely to prevail in the president’s mind? Trump is a supremely practical man. He’s guided by his convictions about what will work. If Carlson is correct, only a swift federal response will guarantee Trump’s continued occupation of the White House. If Schlichter is correct, that would be the mistake that would make Trump a one-term president.

     My viscera speak as does Carlson. My reasoning powers speak as does Schlichter. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not president at the moment.

     If President Trump can face the relevant state governments with the prospect of consequences unacceptable to them should they continue to refrain from acting against the rioters, he might achieve both the objectives in view: the quelling of the disturbances and his re-election (hopefully with a cooperative Congress) in November. Let’s not kid ourselves; Trump’s re-election is vital to the restoration of economy, the securing of the borders, the reformation of important federal institutions, and something approaching sane federal governance. A Biden Administration would be a witch’s brew of corruption, Constitutional violations, arrogations of authorities never granted, and general chaos as those behind him rise to the levers of power and act to implement the far-left agenda that has captured the Democrat Party.

     And all a voluble novelist / commentator from Long Island can do is wait and see.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Black Power Trumps Slugger Power: A Guest Post by Tim Turner

     [Tim sent me this cri de coeur yesterday evening. As I’m a huge baseball fan and have been since 1960, it definitely struck a nerve. -- FWP]

     Since 2013, the only gaming company that has enjoyed the imprimatur of the Major League Baseball Players' Association is Sony's PS4 platform and its software partner, San Diego Studios', game Major League Baseball, the SHOW. {MLB The Show} This is a big deal to those of us who like to (heck, need to) pretend-manage skillful professionals who successfully do what we mostly did miserably in our youths.

     But, see, that's baseball. There were entire generations of Americans caught up in the mystique of baseball. Not just as players of the game, but as watchers and admirers of the game.

     To some of us, the Kevin Costner film, "Field of Dreams," isn't a euphoric spike of memory. It's just another thread in the ongoing weave of Americana and baseball, as in, "Bang the Drum Slowly," "Angels in the Outfield," "The Pride of the Yankees," "The Natural," The Sandlot," Major League," The Bad News Bears," "The Rookie," "Take Me Out To the Ball Game," "Damn Yankees," "Rookie of the Year," "It Happens Every Spring," "Cobb," Eight Men Out," "For Love of the Game,"

     . . . There are many more, but you get the idea.

     The point is, America's relationship with baseball isn't a unicorn fantasy of anime proportions. It is a working class story of sweating, practicing, trying OVER AND OVER and often losing, but sometimes winning. And the winning meant something, because you were able to work and hone a skill that made a difference, however mundane or small. And an entire country recognized that effort, for not being just participation, but a state of grace that comes from being the absolute best at something so many aspire to, but that so few can do.

     So. The MLBPA (Major League Baseball Player's Association) has the sole right to grant to a game company (ANY company) the use of a United States professional Major League player's name.

     Think of it. The MLBPA was started in 1966, and since then no major league baseball player's name or face can appear in a game or any other money-making regime, without the MLBPA's say-so.

     Ok. Ok, that's kind of odd, but such is the state of so-called capitalism in the West, today. (It isn't "capitalism," but Fran and others can discourse on this much better than I.)

     ANYWAY! The Sony PS4 has licensed San Diego Studios to create the ONLY baseball game that is allowed to use the names of real baseball players. And, thus, it is the ONLY baseball game that actually sells. (Really. No matter how good your graphics or stats, if your teams are all college students, it's not gonna sell. Ask Apple.)

     So. Ok. You get it. Sony, PS4, and San Diego Studios. You gotta go there for your real American baseball fix. Sony's game is called 2020 (or whatever year it is) The Show. As in, "2020 The Show."

     And their website is theshownation.com.

     So. You want to point out a bug in the 2019 version of the game? Or you want to ask when the 2020 version will come out? Or what the Major League Baseball Players' Association [MLBPA] thinks of the lockdown's effect on baseball?

     This is what you will see when you log on to theshownation.com:

     We at San Diego Studio stand in solidarity with our community of Black creators, players, employees, families and friends. We’re working to develop programs and plans that amplify their voices and specifically impact our industry to help address racial and social injustice.
     In addition, we are making donations to the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program, Know Your Rights Camp and Urban League of San Diego County.
     This is just the first step we are taking to do our part to work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
     Black Lives Matter

     Got it now?

     Identity matters. Not your identity. Public, whiny, make-a-fuss, "IMPORTANT" identity.

     You know damn well where this ends and we're all guilty of not knowing how to stop it. It isn't Christian, and it isn't Clint Eastwood or Gary Cooper. It's god-damned violence and I wish we'd figured out something better, but we have not.