Friday, May 25, 2018

The Cancer Has Metastasized

     Quite recently, the following exchange took place at my dinner table:

FWP: What do you think you’re doing?
Dinner Guest: (diddles her cell phone) I’m just answering a text.

FWP: Did it inform you of your impending demise?
Guest: What? No! It’s—
FWP: Because if you don’t turn that thing off and put it down right now, that will be the news of the day.

     “Dinner Guest” was a 67-year-old woman. On the cited occasion, her husband, a retired deputy sheriff, sat across from her. He didn’t say a word. He did award me a barely perceptible nod. He’d given up on retraining his wife in the courtesies. Apparently he was happy to leave the job to me.

     As you can see, I’m not infinitely tolerant. I certainly don’t tolerate cell phone use at my dinner table. I had to “teach” the C.S.O. that, too. Operant conditioning, don’t y’know.

     Just yesterday one of my fellow parishioners brought an un-silenced cell phone to Mass. It rang twice in the middle of the ceremony. On each occasion he left the chapel to answer it. No one else seemed disturbed by it, though the celebrant took conspicuous note.

     I’ve had it with the whole cell phone disaster. Absent a true miracle – say, an EMP attack that only strikes cell phones – we’re not going to recover. We’ve lost too much ground.


     Allow me to quote from a previous essay:

     In one of his most insightful moments, Adam Smith wrote that an individual will regard a cut on his finger as of greater moment than a famine in a faraway place. Moreover, he did so approvingly. That which is near should matter more than that which is far away, even when other things are not nearly equal. What’s near has the greatest potential for affecting you, whether positively or negatively. It should command the greater part of your attention.

     Attention. There’s a word to ponder, Gentle Reader. What is attention? What does it mean to “attend” to something? The Latin root tangere means “to touch” or “to hold.” You cannot touch or hold what’s distant, only what’s near. And if someone is near enough to you to touch – near enough to caress or strike you – ought you not to give him your attention?

     One of a parent’s most important duties is teaching his children to pay attention – and not solely to him. What’s around you is the most important source of all things good or bad. Indeed, the great majority of persons and things are potentially good or bad, or both – and what you fail to attend to can turn bad, perhaps lethal, in the blink of those eyes you can’t detach from your smartphone.

     There’s nothing that transforms proximity to hostility and contempt as surely or efficiently as being ignored.

     Thanks to the cell phone – especially the “smart” variety – spouses are tolerating the crassest of discourtesies from those nearest to them. Yet we gape at the rising tides of divorce, intramarital hostility, and spousal abuse, and ask one another what the reason could possibly be. It is to laugh...hollowly, and with many a tear.

     The cell phone has trained millions of Americans to pay more attention to what is far away than to what is near to hand. The training has been appallingly effective. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether the engineers who designed and produced the foul things intended that consequence.

     As far as I know, cell phone jammers are only outlawed in public places. If that’s so, I think it might be time to acquire two: one for installation in my parish church, the other for my home.

     Glory be to God! Am I the only person on Earth who actually grasps the magnitude of the danger and is willing to act on it?

     I shan’t succumb to the temptation to go on a major tirade. I have other things to do, and besides, you’ve heard me rant about this before. But I had to get this out before it festered. It’s become too serious to let it pass unmarked. I’ll close by restating a little epigram from Baba Ram Dass:

Be Here Now.

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Globalism crumbling?

Comment by Speak Truth To Power:
I agree with much of what this columnist wrote. However this entire globalist criminal enterprise is rapidly crumbling. This is shown in the rise of patriotic/loyalist and Marxist parties in Europe and the Far Right and Far Left in the U.S. The globalist elite 0.001% empire of the banksters, crapitalists and fingerciers and their lackeys, knaves and varlets, along with their political prostitute puppets, is built on sand. These worthless cretins have loaded down every nation on earth, and especially in the West, with massive, crushing debt. Ditto for individuals and businesses. It is not sustainable. In addition they have off shored much of Western industry into Third World nations and flooded Western nations with Third World proles to hold down wages and depress living conditions. Reaction among the native Whites is building stronger by the day. At some point this volcano is going to blow. When it does all bets are off as to how much destruction will happen.

At this point the super rich and their banks and trans-national corporations can either gradually give way to democratic change and re-industrialize the West, discount all these debts, and stop this Third World invasion and begin swift repatriation of these interlopers and save much of their wealth and power or they will soon face armed revolution and civil/class/racial war in the streets. These worthless elites have fouled their own nests since they have left virtually no Western nation untouched by these triple evils of debt, immigration and de-industrialization. They either never learned the lessons of the French and Russian revolutions or believe it could not happen in the 21st Century to them.

Either way it makes no difference. Globalism is crumbling and going the way of other evil isms: Fascism, Communism, Nazism, Imperialism, Colonialism, etc. Its days are numbered and the writing is on the wall. Meanwhile those nations not controlled by the Western White Collar Mafia, namely Russia and China, along with Iran and a few other Asian and Middle Eastern nations, are building up their economies and militaries and increasingly challenging the Western tyrants. We are definitely in for troubled times ahead. Always remember: Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.

Globalism has had its evil day and its black sun is setting. The only questions now are will it go peacefully and quietly or loudly and violently and what will replace it. I hope and pray something good and true. A new world order built that that is God and Christ and not man based with peace, prosperity, and justice for all in a natural order of things.[1]

I think there’s much truth in this. For five decades the “logical” and “natural” option has involved (1) massive immigration of hostiles, unassimilables, and parasites, (2) crushing wage competition from foreign illegals, (3) enormous, unconstitutional centralization of power in the federal government, and (4) the near destruction of the industrial base with, in our case, a magnificent gift to communist China. Even now, it’s utterly impossible to get even anti-immigration activists to speak the words “stop,” “repel,” or “deport.” Even now, the “acceptable” boundaries of any debate on immigration involve mere modest downward adjustments and shinier holsters for the Border Patrol nerf ball guns. We have allowed our dirt bag, sellout elites to grab untold power and inflict their lunatic social and governmental ideas on us all.

Probably it will take real economic pain before Americans realize that there’s only so much of America that can be given away before it’s changed forever. That insight has yet to arrive even now. Someone observed that a liberal never recognizes danger, a conservative only when it's too late, and a reactionary recognizes danger instantly. Enoch Powell in Britain was a reactionary according to this and, while I can't presume to place myself in the same category of such an amazing intellect as Powell, I for damn sure don't need to see but one bleeping picture of invaders coming ashore in Lampedusa, Italy to see that an immense tragedy is unfolding. I don' nee' no steenkin' spreadsheet and 40 years of census and crime statistics to figure things out.

Notes
[1]  Comment by Speak Truth To Power on "The Simulation of Democracy." By C.J. Hopkins, The Unz Review, 5/23/18 (emphasis added).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Indoor Life: A Reflection

     Yesterday, in response to the promptings of the C.S.O., I bought her a grill. It’s a nice grill, a Weber, all stainless steel and (supposedly) easy to clean and maintain. The C.S.O. was exceedingly pleased by the acquisition. As I have not inherited the grilling gene, I was baffled.

     “Why,” I asked her, “did you want a device that would compel you to cook outdoors, among the insects, the ragweed, and the grass clippings, where at any moment your life could be snuffed out by a falling jet engine?”

     The C.S.O.’s reply was typical, and typically brief: “Troglodyte!”

     For those of you who suffered a “public school” education, that means cave dweller. And yes, nearly all of my day is spent under a good sturdy roof. (Our home was built in 1959, when Long Island was the beating heart of the defense aviation industry. if you fail to see the relevance, remember those falling jet engines.)

     But of course, such an exchange is merely grist for a writer’s mill. It caused me to reflect on the changes in American life patterns over the years since the Civil War / War Between the States / Late Unpleasantness. (Choose your regionally preferred expression.) One of those changes is how many of us are, like me, “People of the Roof.”

     It’s expressed in all our institutions and practices. We work indoors. We sleep indoors. Mostly, we eat indoors. We partake of our most common entertainments indoors. The outdoors is now where most Americans go on occasion, whether to go under a different roof, to discharge some obligation, or for a recreational purpose. (I maintain that when you’re in your automobile – convertibles excepted – you’re still indoors...and how, pray tell, do you store your vehicle? In a garage or under a carport, perhaps?)

     The homes of working-class Americans have larger rooms than they did a century ago, in part because so little of life was lived indoors. You don’t need big rooms, or need to pay for them, if you only use them to keep the rain off the kids. Homes with large rooms were the hallmark of the wealthy: the financiers and industrialists, and a scattering of the professions.

     The things we play with have become ever more outdoors-indifferent. Some are outdoors-hostile. And we spend an increasing fraction of our time playing with such devices.

     But the outdoors is still there. (Trust me on this; I checked.) And it still offers its opportunities and pleasures. It would be well for us to enjoy it a bit more than we do – not for any abstract reason, but because if we don’t we might wake up some day to find that it’s all been taken away from us. And I don’t mean by overdevelopment.


     Many years ago, when “in a mood,” I wrote an essay about the nature of outdoor beauty. Beauty, whether one claims that it’s an objective characteristic or solely in the eye of the beholder, is an event: It occurs when a man encounters something upon which he confers a strong positive aesthetic evaluation. “This is beautiful,” he says, audibly or otherwise. But as with all things that occur within a human mind, the beauty event cannot occur unless the beautiful thing is experienced, made perceptible by our sensorium.

     I’ve misplaced that early essay. However, I recall clearly and specifically the thrust at which I aimed it: If beauty is an event that requires an encounter between the beautiful thing and a conscious human being, then it depends critically on the accessibility of the beautiful thing to the human mind. The car one drives and the road one drives along to surround oneself in the beautiful landscape are as important to the beauty event as the landscape itself!

     Human ingenuity has greatly expanded the number of beautiful outdoor things to which men have access. But another sort of human ingenuity is gradually stealing them.

     The green bigots (Thomas Sowell) have gradually eroded the methods and means by which Americans can access outdoor beauties. Ever more scenic sites are being closed de facto to the general public, merely by making access to them too difficult for most of us. Unless you’re a fit-as-a-fiddle hiker or backpacker with oodles of free time, that is. This is a reversal of one of the few positive trends of the Twentieth Century: the opening of access to more places to more Americans.

     The green bigots’ usual rationale is “preservation.” (Note: not conservation.) This, of course, means preservation from normal Americans and reservation to the green bigots. It’s a large-scale form of theft: the theft of our opportunities to experience natural beauty. It’s being carried out under color of law, which makes it doubly vile.

     I could go on, and sometimes I do. But the most important thing is to highlight the trend involved, whereby supposedly “environmentally minded” sorts are depriving those of us with Airstreams or Winnebagos of the enjoyment of outdoor beauties. I doubt we’d be as numb to it as we are, were we not always peering into a smartphone screen or crouched before a keyboard.

     And now, in the troglodytic spirit from which this essay was written, a little music for you...very little:

A Reason to Join Gab

I've been on the fence about it for some time. Mostly interesting people, but - a few real whackos and pseudo-Nazis (they're pseudo, because they don't actually DO anything but post over-the-top racist/anti-Semitic stuff everywhere). This bothered me greatly, and led me to ignore Gab, seldom visiting.

Recently, the site revealed the extent of faked accounts, which were primarily spreading Alt-Right/Nazi-type comment. The site has removed most of these accounts. My guess is that most, if not all, of these accounts were created by Leftists, to 'prove' that Gab was filled with Nazis.

Now, a second front has opened in the Communication War. Trump has been ordered not to block ANY users from his feed. Apparently, the judge believes this to be a violation of First Amendment rights.

Expect a flood of bots to try to drown out his Twitter messages.

I think - in the spirit of the Alinsky rule # 4 (Make the Enemy live up to its own book of rules) we should do the same to other Twittering leaders - LEFTIST leaders:

  • Nancy Pelosi
  • John McCain
  • John Kerry
  • Andrew Cuomo
Add your own suggestions to the comments.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Good Advice for Would-Be SJWs

On how NOT to get killed.

The Brutal Truth

Here.
The alt-right is the right’s Billy Carter, our Roger Clinton, our Onyango Obama. You know you share a little DNA, but damn, they just ain’t right in the head.

Elusive Reasons Part 2: A Suggestion

     In response to the earlier piece, reader Mark Clausen has submitted a tantalizing note of explanation:

     They simply have to utterly destroy DJT to discourage any future upstart "outsiders" that any encroachment on "their" turf will not be tolerated -- especially by those who have not been vetted by decades of corruption.

     I added the emphasis.

     A corrupt organization must ensure that all its members are corrupt. This guarantees certain advantages, one of which is the ability to destroy anyone who turns on the organization. A passage from Martin McPhillips’s blockbuster Corpse in Armor underlines this nicely. A conversation is taking place between “The General,” who heads a super-secret, officially unacknowledged organization that investigates and thwarts terrorist plots, and Charles Spencer, a multibillionaire who is one of the American heads of a communist-terrorist conspiracy that has plotted to nuke New York City. Spencer, whom the General’s team has just captured, has been fooled into thinking the General, whom he knows as “Edward,” is a member of a higher-level committee in the conspiracy. The General is probing for a way to prevent or forestall the attack:

     “We need to delay the attack and we want you to tell us how to do that.”
     “It can’t be done,” Spencer said. “Can’t be done. Simple as that.”
     “You must have kept a key to delay it, Charles. No one is that irresponsible.”
     “Eddie, I’m sorry, but I had to make it so that nothing could call this attack off. It was my decision. Now we have to prepare for the aftermath. But calling it off, it can’t be done.”
     “I don’t believe you,” the General said.
     “Believe or not as you please,” Spencer answered. “It won’t change the facts. I relinquished control over the nuclear operation.”
     “You’ve never relinquished control over anything, sir,” the General said. “You certainly wouldn’t let go of something this important.”
     “Well, look, Edward,” Spencer said, “maybe there is a thread that could be pulled, but first just get me out of this chair. My damn fingers are numb.”
     “You need to give me that thread first, Charles.”
     “No. I have nothing for you. You want to continue humiliating me, then I’ll let you guess about what I know. Stop treating me like a dog and I’ll be more forthcoming.”
     “Here’s what I’ll do for you, Charles, if you don’t tell me how to delay the nuclear attack. I’ll let you go, get you all cleaned up, back to your tip-top condition and send you on your way back to your life, and as you arrive back at whichever estate, the news will break, here in the U.S. and around the world, that you are a pedophile.”
     Spencer froze. It was as though he turned into polished marble, the transformation was so immediate and complete.
     “Yes,” the General said, “we know all about your secret life. Did you think that you would be allowed to accumulate all that money and power without us retaining methods of control? We don’t care about your habits. But we know how attached you are to your grand reputation in the bourgeois world, and what this revelation would do to you.”
     Decades of cultivated arrogance drained out of Spencer in a matter of seconds. The General had the thing that was worse than death for him.

     The salient thing in the above is that Spencer absolutely accepts that those above his head would have assured themselves of “retaining methods of control,” and that they would use them if it should prove necessary to break him to harness. It’s what Spencer would have done were their positions reversed.

     The corrupt trust only in the corruption of others. Thank you, Mark.

The Word 'Delusional' Seems to Fit


The Anti-Trump 'Underground' Resistance is on the Move! The writer, Diplomad, points out that True Resistance Fighters did NOT proclaim their actions in public. Instead, because they actually feared the actual Hitler and his goons, the Resistance worked in secret. AND, used guns.
It seems odd that many members of the "resistance" want the state to take away all of our guns. The resistance hates Trump so much they want him and his henchmen to have our weapons. I guess the resistance to Hitler did the same thing, no?
Unlike these wankers.

How like the Left to push young females to the front of the crowd,
to protect the Pajama Boys
 from getting their butts whipped.

Literate Ape satirically lays out the Rules for the Resistance.


Elusive Reasons

     People want to understand the things they see, hear, and read about. They want explanations. Motives. The reasoning that would connect the responses to the stimuli. Now and then they get it, but not as often as they’d like...and not nearly as lucid, either.

     Writers of fiction understand this. It’s why we venerate Tom Clancy for his maxim that “fiction has to make sense.” Getting our characters to make sense is the toughest part of our job. We can’t merely model them on real people, because real people often do what they do for no good reason whatsoever.

     An old friend once opined to me that there are really only two reasons for doing anything:

  • “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • “I was only following orders.”

     Watch out for that second one. It didn’t save the accused at Nuremberg and it might not save you, especially if the orders were oral rather than written.

     I’m grappling with a “why?” this morning: the “why?” behind the seemingly insane actions of a huge cabal of CIA, FBI, and DoJ functionaries, from the lowest to the very highest, to damage a presidential candidate they believed, one and all, had no chance of winning. As it is now established beyond a reasonable doubt that various CIA, FBI, and DoJ elements did take part in such an effort, there must be some reason.

     A few motives have suggested themselves:

  • To ingratiate themselves with the Clintons;
  • Envy of the “upstart from Queens” who had succeeded so spectacularly;
  • To establish for all time that challenges to the political Establishment will not be tolerated.

     All of these have a surface plausibility. However, when the potential gain is measured against the potential loss – a retribution being enacted in slow motion as the nation watches – it’s hard to accept any of them as truly plausible.

     The enumerated motives themselves deserve further exploration. For example: is it really possible to gain the loyalty of creatures as low and corrupt as Bill and Hillary Clinton? They haven’t evinced a lot of loyalty to anyone over their years in the public eye. Or is it that the conspirators feared that unless they demonstrated a willingness to act as venally and viciously as the Clintons, they would be denied places in a Hillary Clinton Administration?

     Envy is a powerful force, capable of animating a great many evil deeds. Still, virtually every conspirator whose name has come to light has no prior connection, whether good or ill, to Donald Trump. To argue for the envy motive is to suggest that Trump, above and apart from all the other fabulously successful men in America, had somehow earned their specific ire. That’s hard to swallow.

     The third possible motive, to establish that a severe penalty will be inflicted upon any commoner who dares to assert himself against the Powers That Be, is the one that best holds up under scrutiny. Yet the various CIA, FBI, and DoJ conspirators strike me as unlikely to have been animated thus for personal reasons. Such a motive is the sort that’s normally superimposed from above: by the truly High, as orders to their palace guards to see that the gates to the dive are well and truly secured. That makes a certain amount of sense, but it implies direction from above that would be extremely difficult to prove.

     Yet all of these, their relative probabilities notwithstanding, pale against the downside possibility of the ruination of the conspirators’ reputations, their social and occupational positions, even of their liberty. People could still go to prison over this, as unlikely as it might seem at the moment.

     Whenever the available motives make little or no sense, it’s required that we entertain the ugliest of all possible explanations: the one detectives dislike to the point of nausea.

     Maybe they did it simply because that’s what they do.

     Unless the perpetrator is standing over the body with the bloody knife in his hand, a crime committed simply because the criminal was moved by an inexplicable impulse to commit it is the very hardest sort to investigate – and to prosecute. Any good defense lawyer knows how to attack a weak tender of motive.

     Yet there have been many crimes, and many criminals who were discovered to have committed them for no logical reason whatsoever. And innocent actions performed as a matter of identity fulfillment are not unknown to us. Perhaps these spies, scandal fabricators, and calumniacs did what they did for that reason alone: it’s what they do.

     It’s an ugly mess, one way or the other. In particular, it destroys any nonsensical ideas about “incorruptible” government agencies, not that we should have harbored any notions of that sort in the first place. But in the aftermath of a discovery such as the campaign to smear Donald Trump, what we want most is an analysis that will show us a way to prevent a recurrence. Just now we don’t have one, unless it’s “forbid the erection of government agencies empowered to spy on private citizens.” While that’s a laudable goal, its practical application is as elusive as the motives, whatever they may be, of the conspirators whose actions we’re trying to understand.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Slanders And Slanderers

     Among the most noteworthy aspects of contemporary political combat is the Left’s penchant for attacking personalities: i.e., those individuals who’ve caused Leftists agita by outperforming them. The assaults on Donald Trump are only the most blatant examples of this.

     President Trump, be it said, can be abrasive. He’s had that aspect about him ever since he entered the public eye, back in the late Seventies. Any skilled caricaturist would incorporate that element into his portrayal. That renders Trump susceptible to being twitted.

     But Trump is successful. In spades. (And among spades, but that’s a separate subject.) He’s had several failures, but he’s followed the Scrooge McDuck formula: after each one, he’s picked himself up, set to work afresh, and swiftly recouped his losses. Moreover, he did so in the toughest real-estate environments in America, often against the will and the aims of the political elites of those regions.

     More to today’s point, Trump has outperformed a whole lot of folks the Left practically deifies, including their anointed successor to Barack Hussein Obama. First he defeated Mrs. Clinton in a national election. Then he set about reversing the most egregious policy missteps of the Obamunist regime, including those in which Mrs. Clinton had a conspicuous hand. Indeed, President Trump is on the way to achieving foreign-policy goals that many of the political elite had deemed unattainable. He won’t get the Nobel Peace Prize, of course; that only goes to certified Leftists. But he’s already secured better results than any the political and media establishments would have imagined possible.

     And they hate him for it. So they’ve done everything they can to besmirch his name and reputation.

     As above, so also below.


     Regular Gentle Readers will probably remember the pieces I posted about John Ringo’s and Larry Correia’s disinvitations, over plaintive and entirely fictional complaints from “social-justice warriors,” from events to which they’d been invited as honored guests. Slander was the method; pusillanimity on the part of the event organizers was the target. The unwillingness to face down the slanderers got them the results they wanted.

     Just recently, John Ringo was targeted again, this time about a past event. The story is unbelievably enraging:

     Concerned to walk the halls carrying a Ringo book? Only if you’re an underage girl.
     Story time!
     As an attendee and participant at FenCon in 2013, I had the (mis) fortune of encountering Ringo – first as someone whose story for the writing contest got poor marks because Ringo didn’t like that it had a black protagonist, then sitting behind him during opening ceremonies, and finally watching ConCom repeatedly bring him up short for his behavior.
     Specifically, Ringo and his girlfriend (?) in fetishwear trying to get underage girls at the con to come back to his room for ‘consensual bondage.’ It was stomach-twisting listening to the weedy little jerk cry out ‘if there’s no penetration, it’s not statutory!’ as an excuse not to get thrown out. ConCom was on the ball and kept an eagle eye on him, and the rest of the con went trouble-free.
     I will admit some amusement at Ringo going everywhere in the company of a bunch of jackbooted, identically-uniformed, buzzcutted goons with ‘Ringo’s Roughnecks’ stenciled on their cheap t-shirts.

     John Ringo has replied:

     I suppose I should start with a declaration I really shouldn’t have to make:

     This is an entirely fabricated lie.

     It has no truth to it whatsoever save that I was at FenCon as Toastmaster and I was in the company of a woman wearing Goth clothing.

     Please read Ringo’s piece in its entirety. It’s a bigger eye-opener than six cups of espresso.

     I’ve been told that Ringo is planning to sue the slanderer. I hope that’s so – and I hope he utterly ruins the blackguard. But above all, remember the tactical consistency with other Leftist slanders. It’s their method, and as they have little else with which to attack those more successful than themselves, I doubt they’ll give it up.


     Political combat, which has become a wholly unruly affair, accounts for some of this. Yet in earlier eras in which Left and Right were bitterly opposed to one another, we saw a higher, cleaner standard of thrust, parry, and riposte. Today’s Left has departed from the gutters to swim in the cesspools of discourse – and to dispense poisons from those cesspools to whoever will give them the opportunity.

     The worst aspect of the thing is how very hard it is to punish a slanderer. There are avenues in the law, of course, but they’re very demanding; any one of several possible missteps will cause a court to invalidate one’s claim of damage. Note how carefully plaintiff’s lawyer Louis Nizer had to maneuver to press home Quentin Reynolds’s claim of libel against Westbrook Pegler. Even if the plaintiff touches every base in the right order, a libel or slander defendant can often get off the hook merely by claiming that “I was misinformed.”

     But there’s a bright side as well: one Robert A. Heinlein delineated in Citizen of the Galaxy:

     “A thousand truths do not mark a man as a truth-teller, but a single lie marks him as a damned liar....Lying to other people is your business, but I tell you this: once a man gets a reputation as a liar, he might as well be struck dumb, for people do not listen to the wind.”

     And whether or not their targets manage to exact full justice and retribution for them, the overwhelming majority of the Left’s slanders are easily proved to be lies.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Diffuse Threats And The MYOB Mindset

     The recent, luridly reported school shootings have – surprise! – resulted in a flurry of proposals and counter-proposals for “school safety” in which partisans and communities of interest have exchanged more invective than ideas. The rhetorical temperature is high, as it always is when the “safety” of “children” is the issue. Any one familiar with the current state of American public discourse would simply shrug and say “You expected something different, bubeleh?”

     Me? I’m inclined to laugh at it all. I’d imagine the shade of Aaron Wildavsky is laughing, too. And yes, I know vitriolic Leftists will pour condemnations on my head for daring to be amused over this oh so “serious issue.” But then, I routinely laugh at their idiocies and self-righteous preening.

     There’s a fundamental law of nature at work here, and no one -- literally no one -- has made mention of it up to now. It’s likely that no one has noticed it.

     Geez, it’s gonna be a great Monday!


     Some years ago, writer Marc Stiegler formulated a mantra of sorts for those of us who prefer to think rather than react from our glands. He presented it in his novel David’s Sling, a rather daring fiction that explored several areas of thought and analysis largely through the lens of military procurement prior to and during a major war in Europe.

     The mantra:

You can never do only one thing.

     A great truth is expressed therein. No matter what you do or how or why you do it, there will be side effects. Moreover, the Second Law of Thermodynamics guarantees that at least one of those side effects will be undesirable. The absoluteness of this law can’t be proved mathematically, but I dare anyone to find a counterexample.

     Take the safety of children herded into a large structure with controls at all the entry points. Those controls can be made quite stringent, such that no one can get in or out, and moreover that no one can move a metallic object in or out, without being detected. Put guards at those points to monitor the operation of the detectors and respond to would-be violators, and you’ve solved the safety problem!

     Or have you?

     Straitened entry implies straitened exit. Therefore, anything that happens within the building – e.g., a fire, or a noxious gas emission – will be that much harder to get away from. Stumbling and tripping at the exit points become more likely, with the possibility of a pile-up during an evacuation. Moreover, there are many things some villain could smuggle in that a metal detector cannot detect. Some of them can do a lot more harm than a gun.

     Many a “Safety Nazi” (P. J. O’Rourke) would simply double down. Hire more guards, he would say. Have them roam the building looking for suspicious activity and potential hazards of other kinds. Give then the ability to open more egress routes at need. But that introduces a new hazard: hiring a guard who has nefarious motives. If those guards are armed, it also increases the likelihood of a mistaken use of a weapon, or an accidental discharge.

     Try it yourself. Imagine whatever “safety provisions” you like, and apply them as stringently as you please. Then look for the side effects. Be honest about them. They’ll be there – and in the usual case, they’ll introduce hazards of their own.

     There is no way to make any human activity or institution absolutely safe.


     Safety is always a relative matter: Is this arrangement safer than that one? Parachutists pack two chutes, not because that renders them absolutely safe, but because it improves the odds at an acceptable cost. Cars incorporate various safety-enhancing provisions not because that renders driving absolutely safe, but because we think they’ll reduce the probability of an accident, or the likelihood of serious injury should an accident occur. Most guns incorporate a “safety” that prevents the trigger from being pulled, not because that eliminates the possibility of an accidental discharge, but because it gives the operator a way to prevent one if he remembers to use it.

     Besides, there’s the MYOB mentality.

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers are all aware of the “If you see something, say something” campaign that was supposed to get travelers to report suspicious behavior. It’s not a wholly bad idea, but it has two side effects of importance. Both have the effect of preventing overall safety from being absolute.

     The first is the common tendency to resist invasions of privacy, especially by total strangers. If the target is minding his own business and expects others to do likewise, he could be seriously offended by even the gentlest inquiry about what’s in his duffel, backpack, or briefcase. Blows could result. So could lawsuits, especially if the gendarmerie should involve itself.

     The second is the tendency even among nervous and suspicious types to mind their own business. Let Smith see a backpack left unattended. Let him wonder about its provenance, its contents, and the intentions of the person who left it there. Will he act? If so, how swiftly and to what end? The probabilities might be higher than before September 11, 2001 that he will inform a responsible person about the pack and thus trigger appropriate measures, but they aren’t nearly 100% — and the authorities have become somewhat overconfident that private citizens monitoring one another will suffice to provide for safety against a bombing in a public place. Americans still prefer to go about their own affairs without minding others going about theirs.

     You can get safer...maybe. You can’t be absolutely safe.


     Our lives have always known hazards, and they always will. What’s relatively new is the diffuse threat: the possibility of malicious acts that could arise at any time, in any venue, and from any actor. Indeed, the threats we face today are so diffuse that I can’t imagine how they could be more so.

     When people cluster together, it creates an opportunity for the evilly minded. Shall we no longer cluster together, then? There are arguments for it in particular cases, but there are counter-arguments for it in others.

     Contemporary technology has made it possible for a villain or an accident to take many lives swiftly. What can we do about that? There’s no way to put the genie of knowledge back in its Solomon bottle. More, to do so would be to forfeit the safety-enhancing attributes of our level of technology. Yes, airliners can fall from the sky, but air travelers are measurably safer per passenger-mile than passengers on any other form of transportation, including walking.

     You can’t win absolutely. More, once you’ve reached a certain safety level, attempts to decrease the probability of harm still further will carry a ruinous cost...and will introduce hazards you hadn’t anticipated.

     You can never do only one thing.

     I no longer gave a damn about three-car garages and swimming pools, nor any other status symbol or "security." There was no security in this world and only damn fools and mice thought there could be.
     Somewhere back in the jungle I had shucked off all ambition of that sort. I had been shot at too many times and had lost interest.

     [Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road]

One-note ukulele.

President Trump has said he won't rule out military action against Maduro.
"Maduro Wins Vote Boycotted By Opposition As US Threatens Sanctions." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 5/21/18.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Affrighted

     As I wrote yesterday, change is upon me. I’m going to try to reduce the amount of blathering I do about political subjects, to make room for others. It seems appropriate that that should start today, Pentecost Sunday 2018, the anniversary of the birthday of Christ’s Church. If my Gentle Readers should decide that the new balance of material is not for them, I’ll understand.


     It’s an old word, I know. Its meaning “should” be fairly “obvious.” And it describes a condition from which I suffer at predictable intervals.

     There are many kinds of fear, and many sources for each. For an old man whose final horizon is drawing steadily nearer, it’s common to fear that he’ll die before he’s “ready.” Let’s leave aside for the moment what it means to be “ready” to meet one’s Maker.

     My principal fear in these latter days is of deterioration. Aging brings that with certainty. We lose strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, and – most unfortunately – we lose mental acuity. These deteriorations can be slowed, in some cases even halted, by the right sort of effort and enough of it. But the effort becomes harder to maintain as one ages and grows wearier.

     There’s one fear about which I try not to think and of which I seldom speak, because it affects the core of my usefulness to others. It’s the fear that my abilities as a writer are diminishing.

     I’ve been cranking out op-ed drivel for more than twenty years. Occasionally the impulse seizes me to revisit older pieces: my archives from Eternity Road and The Palace of Reason. Some of those older pieces are a lot better – more sharply focused, more neatly phrased, and overall more powerful – than anything I’ve posted at Liberty’s Torch. The recognition draws a graph I dislike to face.

     But I’ve also been cranking out fiction over that interval. Now and then I get the urge to reread one of my earlier novels or stories. I don’t always resist it. I’m beginning to wonder if I should.

     Op-ed writers are plentiful. (Some would say we suffer an oversupply.) But good storytellers, despite the recent surge in fictions available to the reading public, remain pretty rare. My current sense of whatever enduring value my efforts have for others is that it resides mainly in my storytelling.

     And I’ve become afraid to continue it.


     You’ll seldom hear a writer with a substantial oeuvre speak of a fear that he’s losing his powers. At least, I can’t remember the last time I read any such thing from a writer whose work I’ve enjoyed. Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only writer who’s ever suffered from that fear.

     My most recent three novels, Love in the Time of Cinema, Statesman, and Innocents, cost me agonies to complete and further agonies to release. From cover to cover of each, I worried that I’d lost my chops – that I could no longer tell the kind and quality of story I’m known for. That fear made me sensitive to reviews and reader email. A review such as this one:

     A superior wordsmith by far than many better known authors, he has a unique ability to write believable characters with extraordinary depth. But the storytelling! My goodness. He holds a near-unique ability to mix religious themes, challenging moral situations, relationship, and some good ol' fashion butt-whoopin' all in one. This text is no exception.

     ...would lift my spirits and (temporarily) reassure me that I was still firing on all twenty-three cylinders. A review such as this one:

     Unsatisfying mil action, unrealistic romance. Marty Sue hero who ends up forced to do the thing he wants but knows he shouldn't.

     ...would leave me in a funk for days, wondering whether I had any business polluting my own record with fresh tripe. And in the nature of things the negative reviews and the negative emails weigh more heavily on the mind than the positive ones. (The average review for a work of fiction at Amazon is slightly over four stars; think about what that implies.)

     The result is an increasing reluctance to start a new story. In case you’ve wondered why the books are being spread further apart in time, now you know.


     I’m not fishing for reassurance here. I’m mostly doing something I think isn’t done often enough. I’m articulating a besetting fear of the old: the fear that one has transitioned from an asset, valued by others, to an encumbrance they’d as soon be rid of. I think more of us older folks suffer that fear than is generally admitted.

     The marvelous recent movie Act of Valor has something to say about this, as well:

     Before my father died, he said the worst thing about growing old was that other men stopped seeing you as dangerous. I've always remembered that, how being dangerous was sacred, a badge of honor.

     Being dangerous is the critical requirement of a soldier. Every occupation has a critical requirement...and every one of us must fear that a time will come when he “just can’t cut it any more.”

     If you have older relatives or friends, and you sometimes see them mired in an unexplained gloom, this could well be the reason. If you’re still in the prime of life, you will probably know that fear soon enough for yourself.

     Food for thought.

Blogging From The NerdFest


An overwhelmingly male crowd, although welcoming and encouraging to the attending women. I've made some friends (YL's), and am looking forward to seeing more of them in the future.

The YL group is women in radio. The official site is www.ylrl.org (Young Ladies Radio League). No matter what your age, all women are YLs. They're an interesting group. There was a NASA employee talking about amateurs and classrooms communicating with the ISS. Another speaker was the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) Ham of the Year. She and her daughter took their first qualifying test (Technician license) together, and Valerie continued her interest from there. One of her most recent exploits was to offer her expertise in Puerto Rico after the recent hurricane. (Valerie is the one in the Middle).


She told of how there was NO long-distance communication on the island, except for the Hams. Without their assistance, hospitals, police, and fire departments would have been helpless. They were essential for the deployment of equipment and supplies.

About 1/3 of the attendees are wearing hats, mostly showing their call sign. I've ordered one, although. It may not be ready till nearly the end of the convention. Fortunately, I brought a Field Day hat, which I'll be using to control my high-humidity hair.

The weather is overcast, and periodically showering the fairgrounds. Fortunately, I'm not concerned about how I look.

I've selected my sessions for today. I'm satisfied with the choices, although, as always, there is at least one conflict with two desired sessions meeting at the same time. Part of my eventual picks took into consideration the location - I'm not up to an extended walk today.

Hein is presenting on what makes a good speaker system. If a speaker moves, it tells you that the speaker is not tuned to the cabinet. It is out of phase.

Dr. Fletcher and Dr. Munson - investigated how people hear. Their work drove development of equalizers.
The equalizer is a filter - the frequency that it's set at is critical.
Parametric equalization - 2-3K is the sweet spot for the human ear.

The Heil speaker and equalizer will be available soon, for around $450.

I just left a fascinating session on UHF/VHF/Microwave. I can see it would be worth it to spend some time in that portion of the spectrum. I won't put it at the top of my list, as my first goal is to become proficient with my new radio.

I wandered around in between sessions, mostly doing people-watching.


As you can see, it's a diverse group.

I'm in the DX Forum now. I will have to be leaving early to pick up my hat.

I kind of overdid on spending. I bought two books I'd wanted for some time, on the weak modes and on building portable antennas. There is an interesting plan for a simple line extended out of a window, using a tent pole to provide a horizontal component.


On the other hand, I resisted buying a lot of gadgets. I'll get a picture of myself in my new HamHat in a few hours (scratch that - on Monday, after I recover). Amazingly, I was too busy to get on my radio while I was here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Re-Privatization

     “Opinions are like assholes: Everybody’s gotta have one.” – Porretto’s Principle of Personal Assertion

     I feel a change coming on. I’ve been ranting and raving and generally bellyaching about politics and government, here and at other sites, for more than twenty years. Yet I’ve accomplished nothing except to alert a few kindred spirits to the existence of a cranky old bastard who sees things approximately as they do. Those two decades of effort have wearied me in several ways. My will to continue is lower than it’s ever been.

     I think I know why my efforts, and the efforts of innumerable other thinkers and writers, have produced so little progress. And if you have the patience for just one more tirade, I’ll attempt to explain.


     “The personal is political.” – Leftist mantra.

     Once in a great while I get my fangs into something with broad explanatory power. It might not unify gravity with the other three fundamental forces, but it seizes my imagination, and my desire to explore it thoroughly, even so. The recent one that strikes me as being of the most value is the one I explored in this piece:

     I’ve long held the belief that any man who’s willing to assert the absolute truth of even one statement must eventually accept that every well-formed statement – i.e., a statement that either posits a fact or a causal mechanism -- is either absolutely true or absolutely false, men’s contrary opinions notwithstanding. The concept behind that assertion is, of course, that there is such a thing as absolute truth – objective reality itself – which makes my notion quasi-tautological. For all that, note how few persons are willing to contradict the anti-objectivity propagandists of our time. That latter sort is permitted to gambol about screaming that “There are no absolutes!” virtually without contradiction – not even a murmur of “Including that one?”

     This is not an utterly new and fresh observation by any means. Bishop George Berkeley and Dr. Samuel Johnson had it out over the existence of absolute truth nearly three centuries ago. As it was Johnson’s foot that recoiled, his position remains the more persuasive.

     Consider in this context the oft-repeated tale of a first-grade class that was asked how to determine the sex of a kitten:

     Years ago I supervised the Indian seminaries. On a visit to a school at Albuquerque, the principal told me of an incident that happened in a first grade class.
     During a lesson, a kitten wandered into the room and distracted the youngsters. It was brought to the front of the room so all could see it.
     One youngster asked: “Is it a boy kitty or a girl kitty?”
     The teacher, unprepared for that discussion, said, “It doesn’t matter; it’s just a kitten.”
     But the children persisted, and one little boy said, “I know how we can tell if it is a boy kitty or a girl kitty.”
     The teacher, cornered, said, “All right, you tell us how we can tell if it is a boy kitty or a girl kitty.”
     The boy answered, “We can vote on it!”

     This episode, if it’s factual, occurred several decades ago. Yet it pertains with a terrible power to the major sociopolitical problem of our time. That problem is summarized in the quote at the head of this segment.


     “Skinwalker is a Native American concept, the gist of which is a person who can turn themselves into an animal by wearing the skin of that animal. The tradition is most developed among the Navajo and is part of the Witchery Way, along with another branch known as the Frenzy Way that was used by a witch to influence the minds and emotions of others.
     “Why?” a girl in the front row asked.
     “Excuse me?” Pitcairn asked.
     “Why would they call it the Frenzy Way when it only influenced an emotion or two?” she clarified.
     “Have you ever seen video footage of a mob or riot?” he asked.
     She nodded.
     “Heard of the Salem Witch trials?” he asked.
     Again she nodded.
     “And you still wonder how much power there is in influencing emotions and thoughts? My dear, the entire marketing and advertising industry is dedicated to influencing emotions and thoughts, not to mention a little branch of human endeavor called politics.

     [John Conroe, Brutal Asset]

     Politics has become the biggest sector of human involvement and maneuvering in American life. Today it affects everything. There is no area of life in which government, and therefore politics, does not intrude.

     The reason is the great skill at manipulating human emotion which those who strive for power have acquired. If you can elevate the emotions of a substantial group over some “issue,” you can politicize that issue: i.e., you can make it seem like a proper subject for governmental action. And of course, in our “democracy” – yes, those are “sneer quotes” – that implies decision-making governed by electoral processes, whether directly or indirectly.

     Do you doubt this? Consider only one example, because it underpins everything else: the cherished right to freedom of expression. No right is more clearly expressed by the Bill of Rights. Yet today that right is under sustained attack by persons who demand that an “exception” be made for “hate speech” – and who demand the sole and absolute authority to decree what constitutes “hate speech.” Could there ever be a clearer linkage of politics to emotional appeals?

     You’d think the Left’s campaign to achieve that end would be laughed aside on the grounds of Constitutional law, three hundred years of Anglo-American tradition, and simple logic. If our power to express our opinions and convictions is politicized, then nothing remains outside the political orbit. A country once nearly wholly free would become a country wholly enslaved, a rightless chattel at the mercy of the whims of the Omnipotent State. Yet that is the abyss at whose edge we stand.


     “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton
     When Ben Franklin was carried from the constitutional convention in September of 1787, he was stopped in the street by a woman who said, “Mr. Franklin, what have you wrought?” Franklin said, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” – Lawrence Lessig

     Emotional manipulation is the means, but the politicization of everything is the end. Needless to say, the Left’s aim is to become and remain the master. Yet even if the Right were to prevail and to exterminate the Left utterly, the consequences would be just as bad.

     When we in the Right allow a subject to become political, we collaborate in our own destruction. Granted that there are some subjects which are inherently political: our military and how it’s employed, international relations, the defense of acknowledged rights by the courts. But all else is at least potentially private.

     The proper role of the American patriot in this Year of Our Lord 2018 is to preserve and re-expand the private sphere. When we depart from that role – i.e., when we engage in politics over a subject that can be made a matter for private decisions and actions – we fail of our duty.

     The Constitution of the United States was written to define and delimit the public sphere. Most of our state-level charters were made in accordance with the same ideals. Indeed, the word republic, which was once understood to be the quintessentially American term for our polity, derives from the Latin phrase rei publicae: “public matters.” If there are properly public matters, any of the Founders would have told us, there are therefore properly private matters as well – and keeping the two separate is the critical activity of men determined to remain free.


     “And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

     I’ve come to feel that the “Mishnory road” essays, which are grouped here, plus this older piece that addresses the commonalities and divergences between “orthodox” conservatism and ideological libertarianism, are the most salient of my contributions to American political discourse. Everything else I’ve ever written is a consequence of the thoughts expressed in those pieces.

     That recognition has me pondering whether to continue on with these interminable, often repetitive op-eds. If the appropriate logic for dealing with a specific “issue” can be found in something I’ve already written, why go on to write further about it? Why surrender implicitly to the Left’s endless temptation to treat every subject, great or small, as something to view through a political lens?

     Politics can be fascinating...much in the same way as torture, which it’s coming ever more to resemble. But one does not immerse oneself in a horrifying subject without sustaining personal harm.

     I harbor no illusions about my vulnerability...or my mortality. Advancing age presses those subjects upon one’s mind. So I hope you’ll bear with me as I make a number of adjustments to the sort of material I post here at Liberty’s Torch. While I appreciate the value my regular Gentle Readers place upon these screeds...candidly, often without understanding why...I hope you’ll appreciate the sense of urgency under which I labor.

     The most private of all things is one’s own life and what one chooses to do with it. Let’s resist the temptation to drown our lives in politics.

     “Keep thine eye fixed upon the doughnut, lest thou pass unaware through the hole.” – The Curmudgeon’s Carbohydrate Aphorism