Saturday, September 23, 2017

Imagine A World Without Internet

That's the situation that Togo found itself in recently. The government of Togo, which has been experiencing some resistance to their country's heavy-handed rule from the entrenched family, shut down the Internet.

The results were NOT what might be expected.

Colonization Chronicles

     Once the Left has set its sights on some organization, that organization must choose between all-out war or abject surrender. This follows from Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics:

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

     The dynamic involved is well understood:

  1. Let a Leftist in on any grounds whatsoever: e.g., “diversity.”
  2. The same or related grounds will get the Leftist visibility and, ultimately, a promotion.
  3. The Lefty now uses his position to get more Leftists in and advance their careers, while discouraging and impeding the hiring and promotion of Rightists or the non-political. The gaggle of Leftists will coordinate and operate as a bloc within the organization, gaining influence as their number increases.
  4. Over time, this dynamic results in a Left-dominated organization – and Leftists put politics above all other things, including the health of the organization.

     Simple, isn’t it? It’s death to any organization that requires competence and shuns politics...but once it’s in progress, it’s damned near impossible to resist. The truly tragic part is this: The early stages of this colonization process are nearly invisible.

     The insidiousness of the process is why Conquest’s Second Law includes the phrase “not explicitly right-wing.” The sole guaranteed preventative is a resolution not to hire Leftists, and to expel any that manage to sneak in – in other words, to politicize the organization toward the Right ab initio. That resolution requires that even a highly competent Leftist, whose relevant skills could be a great asset, must be excluded from the organization. That’s a tough call for a manager in a hiring position to make.

     Apparently, managers in the entertainment industries are incapable of making it.

     I’ve written about the Left’s colonization of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) on a number of occasions, most notably here, here, and here. The speculative-fiction genres, which are singularly attractive to young, imaginative readers, must have appeared a very juicy target. As it happens, the logic applies just as powerfully to the comic-book industry:

     Jon Del Arroz is an award-nominated science fiction writer, contributor at The Federalist and author of the upcoming space novella Gravity of the Game. He has followed the industry problems closely.
     There's a disconcerting trend on the left because the black-balling attempts in the industry have failed, due to independent media platforms, so they have moved to intimidation and threats of violence. Sad!

     Del Arroz, a comic book fan, senses a reckoning coming.

     The Industry is in trouble. Unlike others they have a distribution network only meant to further Marvel/DC properties. For real change to happen, fans have to support indies.

     PJ Media reached out to Richard Meyer [YouTube channel: Diversity & Comics], who was happy to talk about being targeted by SJWs. "It's a neo-McCarthyism situation, the industry is being destroyed," he said. "They are killing it. They've turned an industry into a community which doesn't have to have sales or success. It's a vicious pogrom and excommunication of anyone right of the extreme far left."

     Please read the entire article.

     Now as it happens, this colonization is self-defeating. The Left will suppress entertainment considerations to promote its political positions. But no one buys comic books to be harangued about politics. As a relevant sidelight, note this development on which Meyer comments:

     Carol Danvers, or Captain Marvel, is becoming transgendered. Comic book fans have taken to calling her "Carl Manvers."

     "We're watching her boobs disappear in every issue," said Meyers. "Marvel has killed all the heterosexual romances in the stories and replaced them with gay relationships. Gay relationships are depicted as idyllic and heterosexual romances are shown as problematic. Comic book shops are suffering because they can't sell these books. No one wants them."

     Promoting politics over adventure is bad enough, but gay couples only and boobless women? Insupportable! Therefore, the colonized organizations will lose sales and, eventually, collapse. That doesn’t make it any less of a loss to those who once enjoyed the destroyed organization’s offerings.

     It does, however, emphasize the importance of promoting “indies,” in this field and elsewhere in the entertainment world, who actually provide the customer with what he’s there for. A number of indies in science fiction and fantasy have gained large followings. The rise of indie comics will eventually provide comic-book aficionadi with the good-versus-evil clashes between larger-than-life figures (and the booby women) for which they value the form – if those indies receive enough attention to keep them from throwing up their hands, moaning “What’s the use?” and abandoning the enterprise.

     In the usual case, the Left cannot provide entertainment of the sort consumers enjoy. Leftists’ political obsessions prevent it. The bad news is that the entertainment forms the Left has conquered will be unentertaining in the near term. The good news is for those of us with some staying power: the conquered organizations will fail and be replaced by new, healthy purveyors of entertainment, who’ll know better than to politicize their wares.

     That doesn’t mean Conquest’s Second Law will no longer apply. Indies who become successful could well be seduced into joining or forming organizations. The dynamic outlined at the start of this screed will apply to them just as forcefully as it has applied to Hollywood, to the speculative-fiction genres, and to the comics industry. Perhaps they’ll learn from the sins of their predecessors, but it’s by no means certain. No human failing is more widespread than the inability — or the unwillingness – to learn from the mistakes of others.

     We shall see.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Of Suppositions And Purple

     I’m beginning to wonder if I’m turning into “one of them.” You know, the old folks who seemingly can’t shut up, particularly the subvariety that expresses itself on the Web compulsively, on any and every imaginable subject. I’ve known others like that. They seem animated by consciousness that their time on Earth is running out. They fear that they might die with something left unsaid...perhaps by anyone ever.

     Well, if so, then so be it. I am what I am, to quote America’s most famous sailor. (I’m told God said something along those lines to Job, too.) Anyway, there are far too many developments and phenomena that deserve to be observed and commented on for me to slacken off now. I mean, it might be a cushy job, but someone has to do it.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

[Jenny Joseph]

     The above poem gave rise to a social phenomenon: The Red Hat Society, which numbers over 40,000 local clubs throughout the English-speaking world. Though I’ve been familiar with the poem for quite a long time, I learned of the Red Hat Society and its satellite clubs just yesterday. The occasion was dinner out with the C.S.O.

     Well, of course it was because a chapter of the Red Hat Society was present at our chosen restaurant! I drew the C.S.O.’s attention to the table full of purple-garbed, red hatted ladies, and she informed me about the Society, its thousands of clubs, and her opinion that it was a rather superficial treatment of the sentiments in Jenny Joseph’s poem.

     But what are those sentiments? Clearly it’s not a sartorial prescription. Neither is it a sneer at society’s exhortations and conventions, at least as they apply to younger folks. The exhortations conduce to our individual betterment. They do, you know: Get your first serve in, don’t draw to an inside straight, do unto others and then run like hell...but I digress. The conventions help to preserve a state of public peace in which we can generally trust that we won’t be knifed, gang-raped, or besieged by life insurance salesmen on the way to the corner store for milk.

     It’s been on my mind intermittently since yesterday at the restaurant. It will probably be there for a while longer.

     There’s a dimension of latitude that comes to some of us with age. It would be a mislabeling to call it “freedom;” typically, an individual is just as free before he turns decrepit as afterward. It’s more about the lessening of some of one’s personal inhibitions. Other people’s opinions of us and our choices matter less. We no longer worry as much about “setting a good example for the children,” whether our own or those of other parents. Some of us get a little careless about a few things – vocabulary, associations, flirtations, certain indulgences we carefully limited in our younger years – and become rather insouciant about them.

     It’s certainly that way with me. (Send $20.00 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the details.) As I look a bit younger than I actually am, I draw a fair number of dubious looks and disapproving comments for it. My usual response to those bothered by my little ways is to shrug, smile, and say “Too bad for you!”

     Here’s an example: I sing along with the music in retail establishments, at least if I know the tune and the words. I can carry a tune, and I’m told my voice is decent, so I get some pleasure out of hearing something I know from years ago and joining in. The way other shoppers look at me is often enough to blister paint. Now and then, one will actually approach and upbraid me for it.

     The last time someone dared to castigate me about that practice, I waited until she’d run down, smiled, and said, “Suppose I’d been a black teen with a boom box, playing that garbage they call ‘rap music’ at pain-threshold levels. Would you have approached him?” Needless to say, there was no reply, so I tipped my nonexistent cap, wished her a pleasant afterlife, and passed on...still singing. It was refreshing.

     However, if you have a voice like a frog with a man stuck in his throat and can’t carry a tune with a forklift, you might want to suppress the habit. For the children, don’t y’know. Also, honesty compels me to admit that most of the retail establishments I’ve patronized in recent years now play the most godawful repetitive techno crap on their PA systems. No words, barely a recognizable tune, and it never BLEEP!ing changes or ends. More than coincidence? Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.

     If there’s a theme to the above, it would be that other people’s suppositions about you are not binding. There are limits – no fondling the unwilling, no writing graffiti on other people’s fences, and for the love of God, aim before you spit and spit accurately! – but they’re looser than most think.

     So what if you’re sixty-five and look like the “before” side of a weight-loss commercial? Go to Carvel anyway. (Buy a six-pack of Flying Saucers. Buy two; you’ll get 25% off. It’s a real bargain.) How much longer do you have to enjoy what life has to offer? And do you really think your equally decrepit wife will regard you more amorously if you lose the potgut? Get serious.

     So what if “they” say that anime is only for kids? Order a set of xxxHolic and enjoy them. They actually have a lot to say, and the banter among the characters will remind you a great deal about young rivalries and young love.

     So what if “they” say a mature man who buys a red Corvette convertible is out to make a fool of himself? Flip ‘em the bird and buy the damned thing while you can still get into and out of it. Alternately, say “At least I’ll be doing it to myself. Who botched the job on you?” And make sure to wear a propeller beanie when you drive it with the top down.

     The above was written with absolutely no idea in mind...except purple.

Tired, Just Tired

I've been traveling (CLT to CLE and back again). Some great things about the trip:

  • Saw an Indians game (Go Tribe!), which we won
  • Saw my daughter, sister, and brother
  • Got a major portion of the revision done (I mean that I marked up the hard copy - still have to put most of the actual revisions in the electronic copy). Would like to get it out to some people for a first pass (just to check on major plot holes, anachronisms, etc. - no copyediting, I'm going to bite the bullet and pay for it). If you'd like to be one of those people who wants to make sure that the flow of the book works, send me your contact information at rightasusual2003-at-gmail, and I'll pick a couple of people to help me. No pay, but you get to read a free book.
  • UPDATE: I've finished the hard copy, just have to enter and tweek things - shouldn't take more than a few weeks!
  • Rested, spent time with the grands
The not-so good:
  • I really need to get cracking on getting my house in shape - this time away puts that further in the future
  • Did not spend time with the newest grandkid (his mom was sick) - next time
  • I really miss my bed
  • The clock is ticking on getting ready for:
What blogging I've been doing is here: Right As Usual. I'm going to keep slogging away at necessary offline work, and get back to blogging this weekend.

The Unaddressed Question Of 1984 why did it happen? What was George Orwell’s conception of the train of developments that led to the ascendancy of IngSoc, the Party, and the all-enveloping totalitarianism that ultimately consumed the people of “Oceania?”

     A writer who manages to take a handful of your guts and give them a good twist, as Orwell does in his most famous novel, writes from a sense of mission. He has a theme in mind that has engaged his passions, and which he intends to present to his readership in fictional form. If he’s good at his trade, his readers will be just as engaged with that theme. Where he exulted, they’ll exult; where he shuddered, they’ll shudder. Eric “George Orwell” Blair was one of the best of his day.

     A bald reading of 1984 suggests that Orwell’s major aim was to depict the horrors of an all-encompassing totalitarian state: a state whose masters will be satisfied with nothing less than controlling the thoughts in its subjects’ heads. There’s an obvious utilitarian reason for the power-mad to want such control: it precludes all possibility of rebellion. If it were possible – and I shan’t suggest that it absolutely isn’t – it would be the ultimate totalitarian wet dream. But how would a relatively free society get to IngSoc, The Party, the ubiquitous telescreens, et cetera? Did Orwell have a sociopolitical path in mind?

     Closely associated secondary question: Does it matter?

     The critical passage in 1984 is one that has appeared here before:

     ‘And now let us get back to the question of “how” and “why”. You understand well enough how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,’ he added as Winston remained silent.
     Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into O’Brien’s face. He knew in advance what O’Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O’Brien said this he would believe it. You could see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
     ‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ’You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore-’
     He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
     ‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
     He pulled the lever back and continued:
     ‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others ; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’

     It is in those six hundred words that Orwell truly strikes to the heart of the power luster’s mindset. Whatever he wants you to think of his motives, his true aim, even if he’s never consciously admitted it, is absolute and unopposed power over all things, forever.

     The totalitarians of 1984 might have been the successors of earlier “reformists” of some more conventional stripe. They might have been the reformists themselves. The salient point about them is that they are present in every movement that demands power over others, and their ascendancy to the summit of such a movement is inevitable.

     Ayn Rand’s Dr. Floyd Ferris – “We’re after power and we mean it” – is an echo of Orwell’s O’Brien. The two are fully conscious of their true aims. Indeed, once a dictatorship has been established, only persons animated by that aim and frankly conscious of it could possibly rise to the top. They’ll do so because they’re completely without moral constraints. They’re willing to do anything to get there, and anything to stay there. He who has even a single scruple remaining to him will be helpless before them.

     All else is methodology: the selection of the most efficacious means for attaining their end.

     These past two months I’ve written thrice about Nice-Guyism:

  1. The Feelings Blob Part 2: Getting Tough
  2. Nice-Guyism And Ethical Imperatives
  3. Nice-Guyism Continued: Offering Cookies To Mice

     My friend and colleague Dystopic has written similar pieces about weaponized empathy, a highly useful term for political outreach. Perhaps he grasped the overriding importance of this phenomenon from the first; I didn’t.

     The point here is that our desire to be “nice” and to be evaluated thus by others is a useful weapon to the Left...and nothing else. Inversely, if we wanted to be seen not as “nice” but as “heartless,” the Left would have mounted a campaign that uses that motivation as its weapon. In either case, the Left’s covert program would be the same: unopposed power over all things. The weapon is independent of the aims of its wielder, something a gaggle of firearms-rights enthusiasts will easily grasp.

     By corollary, the wielder cares nothing at all about the weapon but whether it will serve his purposes. Once he’s attained his true ends, his only interest in the weapon will be whether it might be useful in preserving them. He’ll discard it if the answer is negative.

     There is so much import in the above that it’s almost a shame that I feel a need to summarize it. Yet it achieves its greatest impact when reduced to a schematic.

     In a relatively free society, they to whom power is the true and only end will act as follows:

  • Identify the dominant motivations of the persons of that society.
  • Identify a Cause which couples effectively to those motivations.
  • Marshal “activists” around the Cause and use it as a pretext for seeking increased State power.
  • Demonize all who oppose the method (increased State power) as enemies of the Cause.
  • Use any grants of power to solidify possession of that power-seat and to penalize opponents.
  • Should the Cause not be well served (i.e., the usual case), blame the opposition and demand more power.
  • Gradually ease out “true believers” in the cause, especially at the power-wielding echelon.

     Needless to say, this schematic can be used by several Causes simultaneously. Those Causes might be consistent in some respects. They might be wholly disconnected from one another. They might even conflict; indeed, this is commonly the case, and more useful to the power-luster than one might imagine. Yet the true aims of those at the Causes’ several tillers will be uniform.

     Perhaps Orwell was supremely insightful in neglecting to specify the sociopolitical currents that led to IngSoc, The Party, et cetera. Perhaps it really doesn’t matter at all.

     A final note: At Return of Kings today, John Carver presents Twenty passages from 1984 that have been realized in essence. Compare those developments to the demands of the various Cause-related groups active in our time. Can you trace the threads that connect their Causes to those developments...and to one another?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Disciplining “Our Own”

     The wall of silence is breached. The media can no longer deny that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, just as President Trump claimed in March. It’s been confirmed by testimony and by FISA records. The strident accusations, by CNN and others, that Trump’s claim was a lie have become platters of unseasoned crow that “journalists” must confront. But will they? And what about the Democrats who echoed those claims and linked them to accusations of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government? Will they offer retractions and apologies?

     Not bloody likely, and I’m here to tell you why.

     We form affinity groups on various bases: race, religion, ethnicity, regional loyalties, occupations, political affiliations, and so on. Every group allegiance creates an Us and a Them, with a concomitant assignment of differing privileges and approvals. The results of the cleavage normally include a reluctance to entertain accusations against “our own” in a neutral, judicial fashion. The degree of protection awarded to “our own” varies inversely with the degree of civic trust awarded to members of the group by persons outside it.

     Civic trust is an under-addressed factor in studies of the stability of a social order. It pertains to the average willingness of individuals to regard other individuals whom they do not know personally as non-threatening. If that trust factor varies greatly according to differences in affinity group affiliation, the society is in trouble.

     Judgments of a neighborhood as “good” or “bad” measure its degree of civic trust. Are the residents generally regarded as responsible and law-abiding? Are local businesses respectful or exploitive of local needs and preferences? Is the constabulary responsive? Are the streets and other public spaces “safe?” These are the questions that underpin “good neighborhood” and “bad neighborhood” assessments.

     Civic trust plainly includes the sub-category of public trust: the degree of trust private citizens have in the honesty and competence of public officials and government generally. This also conditions social stability, in a determinate fashion. If generally high public trust should be impacted by a narrow revelation – for example, the discovery that a particular official has behaved corruptly – the reaction among private citizens will be swift and predictable: Get him out of office and put him behind bars. The man in the street will demand it out of his desire to defend the integrity of the relevant institution. Inversely, if public trust is low, the man in the street will shrug, say “What can you expect? They’re all thieves,” and retreat from the subject. His attention will be focused narrowly on his own agenda and the protection of what’s his, rather than the trustworthiness or lack thereof of public institutions.

     High civic trust enables wide-ranging attachments: patriotism, nationalism, national pride, public engagement. Low civic trust compels particularism: withdrawal from wide engagements and the narrowing of one’s attachments to those affinity groups he believes he can trust.

     When civic trust falls low and particular attachments become sufficiently strong, groups’ willingness to discipline their members for offenses against “outsiders” drops toward zero. The defense of Us against distrusted Them is seen as far too important to permit it.

     American political particularism is a reflection of the diminished degree of our civic trust, specifically in two institutions: partisan politics and the “news” media. Time was, politicians of different parties could work together on specific ends. That was possible because not only did they sincerely agree on the ends to be sought, but also because they trusted one another not to have covert agendas that differed radically from those ends. To the extent that politicians have ever been willing to acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, the parties refrained from attacking one another when a policy championed by one in the face of misgivings by the other gave rise to a negative result. There was a prevailing belief that regardless of party affiliation, those in office meant well, generally understood their capacities and their limitations, and (with rare exceptions) really were doing the best they could for the nation. They made allowances for one another, and we made allowances for them.

     Time was.

     Ours is an era of low civic trust. Particularism is rampant; indeed, it’s probably the most important social influence of our time. It has a threefold impact on politics and reportage on political figures:

  1. Massive hostility between the political parties;
  2. Massive distrust of the news media by the news-consuming public;
  3. News media self-protectiveness as a higher priority than honest, candid journalism.

     In consequence, erring members of the parties and the media are far more likely to be protected by their groups than chastised by them. Moreover, the sinners will expect, even demand such protection. They’ll expect their fellows to mount counterattacks against their accusers, rather than offer expressions of impartiality and pieties about integrity.

     In other words, Hillary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy” charge was merely a harbinger of more and worse to come.

     The root of particularism is, of course, particle. The e pluribus unum envisioned by the Founding Fathers has fragmented along many kinds of fissures. Though there’s always been some degree of differential trust among our various groups, the cleavages have deepened close to the point of impassability. The distaste for admitting to a misdeed by “a member of my club” has never been higher. The willingness to apply correction is proportionally low.

     Needless to say, that makes the problem worse. To see an offense go unadmitted and unpunished – worse, to see it rationalized and defended by the fellow-allegiants of the offender – makes the miasma of distrust thicken. But absent a complete cleansing of both the political and the journalistic classes, this is what we must anticipate and endure for the foreseeable future. Who is ready, willing, and able to undertake that cleansing? You? I? Arbitrarily chosen politician or candidate for office Smith?

     Food for thought.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Christians and Conservatives - Future-Oriented

There was a great Grassroots song - Live for Today, that perfectly epitomizes the youthful mindset. At that age, most are Grasshoppers - enjoying the moment, spending freely - sure that more money will easily be found, living with the expectation that they will survive forever.

At some point - preferably sooner than later - most Grasshoppers experience a full-face hit with Reality, and begin their metamorphosis into the adult Ant. (Yes, I know this is NOT how it works in Nature, but - I assure you - this is how it works in humans).

Two groups tend to be composed largely of those whose temperament is closer to the Ant's mentality.

  • Christians (which include all of the assorted rites and off-shoots)
  • Conservatives
Both are conscious of the way that Reality can diverge from Ideality, and - realistically - anticipate that this divergence is more likely to create an unfavorable situation, than one that is an improved scenario.

This is a bit of a handicap in planning protests and actions designed to get their message out. Unlike the Grasshoppers, who have no problem leaving this (click on the caption of the picture to see more damage photos):

The aftermath of many protests

the future-minded tend to clean up any mess that is made, 

and to pay for the extra costs of hosting their "Free" Speech - which, in Shapiro's case, cost $600,000 for security, driven up by an opposition that was determined to use violence to shut him down.

Is there a point to this? Only that preserving freedom and civilization is more time-consuming, expensive, and energy-draining than tearing it up. It's a task meant for Ants.

Fortunately, there are more of us. And, we have right (and God) on our side.

Death Cults Redux

     Isn’t there anyone who still believes in the intrinsic value of human life?

     That charnel house known as the Netherlands seems to be not content over killing off their citizens one by one, and have now begun to double-down, with couples killing themselves together in “beautiful” ceremonies so that neither one will be alone (until they’re dead, of course).
     “An elderly couple died holding hands surrounded by loved ones in a rare double euthanasia.

     “Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died in their hometown of Didam, in the Netherlands, after 65 years of marriage.

     Read it all, if you have the stomach for it.

     Holland was once a beautiful, eminently civilized country. That was before it embraced death as a sacrament. Perhaps we should ask Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh for their memories of that time. Oops, sorry, for a moment I forgot about what happened to them.

     But we’re still above all that, aren’t we?

     There are days I find it all but impossible to go on with this enterprise. The madness just keeps accelerating. The several Death Cults that have planted themselves on our shores are merely the most dramatic excrescences of what appears to be a pandemic global psychopathy. I’ve spaced my direct references to them widely to keep from being overwhelmed by the subject. But the tactic no longer helps much.

     We are surrounded by death worshippers. (No, I don’t just mean Muslims.) It’s likely that some of them are your neighbors. I know for a fact that some of them are mine.

     In discussing international relations and conflict studies, we often speak of “salami tactics.” The would-be aggressor looks for flabbiness of will among potential victims. When he finds one, he acts – but if he’s smart, he doesn’t immediately go “whole hog.” He tests his thesis by reaching for a “slice” of what he covets. “No war over the Rhineland.” “Would you risk a continental conflagration over Leipzig?” “So there are a few nuclear weapons in Cuba, what’s the big deal?” And of course most recently: “Let Putin have the Crimea; it’s historically Russian anyway.” If the victim acquiesces, the aggressor is emboldened to reach for another “slice,” and yet another, and another...

     Salami tactics are also employed domestically, according to the agenda of the aggressor. Have a look at the following list:

  • Abortion without restrictions.
  • Assisted suicide.
  • Commonplace ritual mutilations of the human body.
  • Involuntary euthanasia of those deemed untreatable or having "no quality of life."
  • Legal infanticide within the first X days post-birth.
  • Compulsory surrender of the organs of the deceased for transplantation.
  • Environmentalist crusades that prioritize human life below other considerations.
  • Use of “abandoned” embryos for “research.”
  • Creation of zygotes and embryos for non-procreative purposes.
  • Government-enforced "triage" to “conserve medical and financial resources.”
  • Compulsory acceptance of specified therapies.
  • Procreation licenses (alternately, compulsory sterilization of those deemed “unfit”).
  • Government eugenics programs:
    • At first, as subsidies to couples with favored genetic characteristics;
    • Later, as compulsory donations of gametes for use in government-supervised breeding programs.
  • Conscription for military purposes.
  • Conscription for non-military purposes.

     You’ve seen versions of that list before. It just keeps growing as the Death Cultists discover ever more ways to advance their creed. Parts of it have been upon us for some time. Other parts are the targets of our domestic salami slicers.

     Life, and our grip on it, are under attack. They’ve been weakened bit by bit for several decades. Our grandparents and great-grandparents – they who fought, bled, and died in terrible wars for the lives of others – would hardly recognize their posterity.

     The value we place on human life is what gives value to everything else in our world. It’s what allows us to make sense of things, to settle on what we want, and to reason out how to go about getting it. Is it really necessary to be explicit about the implications for its loss?

     Mankind as a species is slowly but steadily going mad.

     One organization, alone among all the voices of the world, is unbending in its proclamation that human life is sacred: the Catholic Church. Note how viciously it’s attacked, principally for its opposition to abortion and euthanasia. Note how, whenever someone dares to raise an objection to some element of the Death Cults’ program, some interlocutor will cast a wary eye at him and say “You’re not a Catholic...are you?” in that unmistakable tone that implies that no modern, well-intentioned soul could possibly associate with so retrograde an institution.

     While I differ with some of my Church’s doctrines, nevertheless I will defend it against all comers. Conspicuous among my reasons is this: It’s made all the right enemies. It’s achieved that by defending human life, by placing it above all utilitarian considerations, and by insisting that so precious a gift cannot be disparaged, much less renounced, without eternal consequences.

     Note that Catholicism has essentially disappeared from Europe. So too have most other forms of Christianity, but those have always been satellites to the Church and the Gospels it was formed to conserve and promulgate. When anyone speaks of “the Church,” there’s no doubt about which institution he has in mind. The other denominations have retained a slowly failing fingernail hold on what was once called Christendom by giving ground, on one issue after another, to the Death Cultists. The Church has not.

     Draw the moral.

     Wednesdays are currently significant here at the Fortress of Crankitude. Our Newfoundland Rufus has a regular weekly appointment at a veterinary clinic where he receives chemotherapy for B-cell lymphoma. Getting Rufus to the clinic is a burden on us. The treatments are very expensive, and there’s no way to know for how much longer he’ll be receiving them. The point, of course, is to keep Rufus alive and healthy for as long as we can.

     We do it out of love for our dog. We’re not alone; the clinic is just about always busy. People bring pets of all varieties, suffering from many diverse maladies, to be healed, or at least made more comfortable. I have no doubt that the burdens on them are fully comparable to ours.

     How much more precious is the life of a human being? How much more deserving of reverent defense?

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I need to pray.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Men: The Most Critical Rule to Follow

I was talking to my son-in-law today, and I mentioned the Most Important Rule for Every Man to Follow.

Really, to have a good existence, you only have to do ONE thing in your life.

If you break the rule, it will cause more pain than eating gas station sushi. Or standing behind a 5-year old with a baseball bat.

Failure to follow that rule will clean out your bank account, lose you every friend you ever had, and leave you battered, broken, homeless, and on the verge of suicide.

Ready for it?

Now, I know that they are EXCITING - there is NO hot like a CRAZY HOT.

However, at some point, you've got to get out of the sack.

And, at that point, is where the cooler-headed men are going to say:

What the He** Was I Thinking?

Too late - once a Crazy Lady has jumped your bones, they're harder to get rid of than cockroaches. They will dig in and manipulate, lie, coax and plead to stay.

If that doesn't work, they're drag you back to bed. You'll think, Eh, I'll dump her afterward. The sex will be AMAZING. As always.

The trouble is, they're still crazy. And, every time you let her suck you in again, it gets harder to get rid of her.

They will screw up your life, for the FUN of it. They will gladly suffer anything - as long as they can make you suffer, too.

There is NOTHING too low, mean, or life-destroying for them to inflict on you.

And take pleasure in it.

Looks will fade, but Crazy is Forever.

This Actually Makes Some Sense

...for the sudden belligerency of NK. It would not only cause China some embarrassment, but also further de-stabilize the South Pacific.


     [Some time ago, I scandalized quite a lot of people with this bit of monitory fiction. Many readers assumed that I wanted what it depicted to happen in reality. Many others asked why I just had to disturb their sleep. Stories are like that; they evoke a range of reactions, which vary according to the perceptions and assumptions of their readers.

     Well, here we go again...and this time, I do want it to happen in reality. — FWP]

     Harmon grimaced. “You’re asking a lot from people who just want to be left alone. Like their whole futures. Maybe even their lives.”
     I nodded. “I know. And I know that putting my own life and future on the line right next to theirs is puny reassurance and no compensation whatsoever. But it’s time, Jack. Either we act now or we can kiss what remains of the Republic good-bye.”
     I stood to stretch, and my head poked a deep dimple into the canvas roof of the tent. Our grins were reflexive. “Seriously now, can’t you afford...?”
     He chuckled. “Realism, Don. And a smidgen of egalitarianism to go with it. Most of my men are six feet or less. What you and I would greatly appreciate, they don’t need and wouldn’t be willing to pony up for. Speaking of which, what about transportation? Air travel is right out, so how—”
     I waved it aside. “Already taken care of.”
     He looked at me dubiously. “And paid for?”
     I nodded, and his eyes widened. “Don, tell me you didn’t.”
     “Okay, I didn’t. Happy now?”
     It silenced him. He sat back in his lawn chair and looked away. I let the silence run its course. He seemed to need it.
     Presently he said “The twenty-second, right?”
     “At noon. The permit covers us from eleven AM to two PM.”
     “Chartered buses?”
     “No. Motorhomes. Fifty of them.”
     “What? Is Eli in on this too?”
     “He’s providing some of the rolling stock, yes.”
     His eyes narrowed. “Some.”
     “About a third.”
     “And the rest?”
     “Don’t ask.”
     He looked aside again. “I can’t make it an order.”
     “I don’t think you have to. Two hundred would be more than sufficient. Actually, I don’t think the motorhomes could transport and house more than that.”
     “That could be a problem,” he said. “Because you’re likely to get more volunteers than that. Like, maybe all of them.”
     I nodded again. “I expect we will.”


     Harmon’s coordination scheme worked better than I’d expected. Despite the irregular dispersion of the RV camps we’d used as mustering points, his people converged on the Charlottesville mall at eleven forty-five exactly. Harmon personally sought out the police lieutenant on the scene, showed him the permit, and cluck-clucked perfunctorily about the thinness of the PD security screen. Four of his men set up a small dais, a lectern, and a portable amplifier. The rest adopted convincingly relaxed yet expectant postures, eyes on the dais as if expecting a long-anticipated speaker. It looked as innocent as any free-speech rally ever held.
     Our adversaries were only a few minutes behind us.
     They outnumbered us substantially. As we’d expected, every one of them was dressed and masked in black. They carried a variety of makeshift weapons: sticks, fluid-filled bottles, some rocks. I saw no guns or knives. I prayed that there were none hidden. This would be risky enough.
     At noon I mounted the dais and went to the lectern. That seemed to be the signal our adversaries had awaited. They moved toward our group with unconcealed hostility.
     The police, of course, moved back.
     I bent to the microphone and spoke a single word: “Now.”
     Almost as one, Harmon’s men turned away from me, toward their would-be silencers, and pulled their launchers from concealment.
     The launchers were the cheapest part of the scheme: ordinary-looking children’s toys that use compressed air to fire sponge balls. The “magazine” in the “stock” that could hold thirty such balls. I’d had them modified somewhat to increase their power and range, as the balls they were designed to fire were dry. The ones we’d loaded were not.
     The men had practiced with them to the point that every one of them could zero a four-inch-wide target at twenty-five yards. Within twenty seconds they’d hit half of our adversaries. Another twenty seconds and the engagement was over. All those who had come to do us harm had gone down screaming and clawing at themselves. None remained standing.
     I spoke into the microphone again. “Cease fire.”
     As one, Harmon’s men laid their launchers on the grass at their feet.
     The police, of course, moved on us at once.

     The district attorney was furious, mainly at his own impotence. I let him rave until it was all out of him, then set back with my hands behind my head and murmured “So what are the charges?”
     He glared at me. “It’s quite a list. I hope you’ve got a good lawyer.”
     I smiled. “I am a good lawyer. So enlighten me. What are you planning to charge us with for bringing children’s toys to a public, duly permitted rally and firing sponge balls at masked men who were charging us with weapons?”
     He bared his teeth. “When I have the police lab report on what was in those guns—”
     “You will find,” I interjected, “three perfectly legal chemicals. DMSO, caffeine, and water. Absolutely nothing else. So?”
     “It’s still assault!”
     I shrugged. “You might be able to make that stick. But we have complete video of the event from several angles. The clips have been posted to several video-sharing sites. One of them has already racked up over a million views. What do you suppose indicting us for assault would do to your prospects for re-election? Especially considering that the police effectively sided with our assailants.”
     That stopped him cold. A strange sort of cold, to be sure. His boiled-ham face said nothing good about his cardiovascular health. But he could think of nothing to say.
     I couldn’t resist one last twist of the blade. “So, Counselor, have you arrested any of the guys who were masked in public and carrying potentially lethal weapons to a peaceful, entirely legal rally? Aren’t both of those things against Charlottesville’s municipal ordinances?”
     Within two hours of being detained, we’d been released without charges.

     “It wasn’t cheap,” Harmon said.
     I swigged at my beer. “Tell me about it, Jack. I’ll be hearing it from Marcie for months. She had her eye on a beach house in Aruba.”
     “I still don’t get it, Don. Why?”
     I cocked an eyebrow. “Why me, or why now, or why the method?”
     “All three, but in reverse order.”
     “Why the method is pretty simple: it put the fear of God into a bunch of bastards who desperately needed it, but without killing or maiming anyone. Now they know that there’s a counterforce that’s willing to act and has a method that will get the results we want. Why now? Because if we hadn’t, the next free-speech rally was going to feature a few fatalities, and that would have been enough to persuade every damned pansy-assed city council in the country to deny all further applications for free-speech rallies. In the law we call that a heckler’s veto.”
     He grimaced. “Okay. I might not agree with the timing, but you definitely got their attention. So why you?”
     “Because someone had to do something more than just complain,” I said. “And because I’d gotten really bloody tired of waiting for someone else to step forward. And while it took me too long to do it, when I finally asked myself the key question, I realized that I had no answer.”
     Harmon eyebrows knitted together. He’s a smart guy, but there are some things to which he’s conceptually blind, probably because he’s never needed to ponder them.
     “What was the key question?” he murmured.
     I smiled. “Why not me?”
     His mouth dropped open. “Oh.”
     I drained my bottle and stood. “Another beer?”


A vital distinction.

I'm not what you'd call an economist. What you actually call me is best left to another time.

However, here's an interesting comment over at Zero Hedge that illustrates, perhaps, the phenomenon of obtuseness in Western of elites, namely, knowing the sensible course of action but choosing to do the exact opposite. My favorite example of this is the Italian government knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that allowing 100s of thousands of Africans and Muslims into Italy is madness but nevertheless sending the Italian navy to just a few miles off the Libyan coast to "rescue" Africans wanting to come to Italy (and Europe beyond). This appears to be changing as now there is some kind of cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard and Watersports Flotilla but I still read only this morning of "rescues" being effected by the Italian navy so who knows?

The comment below indicates commenter Batman's belief that the natural parasites in any civilization have an interest in maximizing wealth extraction that is superior to wealth creation and that our knowledge of money and economics has been perverted by them to their own advantage. This is unsettling as I've always assumed that we approached economics with wealth creation in mind with socialists, communists, and malcontents basically nipping at our heels with insane political goals. I never resented wealth because I figured it was evidence of industry, risk taking, intelligence, hard work, and, of course, not a little luck. However, it's clear we're not in Kansas any longer. Not by a long shot. I'm not the first to have that WTF?! moment.

Whether fractional reserve banking is overall something that fired up the economy or not I'm not learned enough to say. However, when the cream of industry, banking and politics conspired to create a central bank that resulted in a 95% loss of value of the dollar, 10s of thousands of American factories ended up on the shores of a communist dictatorship, and some 40 million foreigners have been imported into the United States, there to steal jobs from Americans and drive down wages. You have to ask yourself is there something more than just misjudgment at work here. Trump put his finger on some of this but phrased it in terms of just poor negotiating skills. Pure motive just clueless business and political leaders. Batman says otherwise.

I've not yet read Mr. Werner's piece linked to by Batman but it looks like it will be worth doing so to see how much of what we've seen in the last 80 some years since the start of the New Deal is due to error and how much is due to design. You can no longer automatically assume good will. You just can't.

Batman raises another point succinctly, namely, the distinction between the productive and the parasitic side of capitalism. This is an important insight, that there is this distinction. The reason it is important for modern Westerners is that the seditious, traitorous left goes to great lengths to point out the defects of "capitalism" which is a deliberate misdirection. The left endeavors to obscure the parastic and fabulously destructive nature of socialism – the wise leader fatuously commanding the economic waves to part – whether the example of socialism is the real deal of the U.S.S.R. or the hobbled, hamstrung, over-regulated, over-taxed, financialized, foreigner-flooded Western nations, or most of them. No. They want you to think that that's "capitalism," the essence of exploitation rather than the engine that raised millions from poverty and gave them a shot at a decent life without disease, slavery, and raw sewage. The exploitation and hideous oppression of communist regimes and the peculiar operations of the parasite class in the West must never, ever be admitted.

A caricature of reality.

This is the companion attack of the left to its deliberate obfuscation of the leftist nature of National Socialism. The vile excesses of that system are not at all distinguishable from those of totalitarian leftism in general. To maintain the allure of leftist excess, the left hides the highly visible excesses of National Socialist as a leftist phenomenon by its interminable description of National Socialism as "right-wing." Similarly, the factual allegations about communists in the federal government made by Sen. McCarthy and the revelations about the Hollywood 10 involve a similar distortion. It wasn't the communist infiltration of the government that bothered the American political class. No. It was the work of McCarthy and the House Committee on Unamerican Activities in exposing the presence of communists in the government that drove them to mount a vicious attack on McCarthy and anti-communism. People who expose communists who want to destroy democratic institutions are threats to democratic institutions!!

Well, back to economic matters. The mask has slipped in the last 25 years as the infection of high-speed trading on the stock market, the flood of insane derivatives, the chummy relationship of public employee unions and politicians, open borders, and massive money creation, among other things, have come to light. The result has been the enormous transfer of wealth to the richest 1% that has accompanied astronomical wage stagnation. This is parasitism.

No one's been minding the store in the West for a long time. Almost all Western nations have flooded themselves with savages and run up massive debt and money supplies, all to satisfy, I presume, the moneyed interests and their lumpenproletariat clients on whom the former rely to deliver reliable votes for economic destruction and the slide into third-world grime and savagery. This has nothing to do with common sense or patriotism.

Anyway, here's Batman's comment:

The problem was that no one has ever been able to run a nation state successfully for any length of time, even this is beyond us.

Powerful vested interests are always putting their interests above the long term good.

Let’s relax financial regulations so we can make more money.

Oh dear.

Even worse, they actively seek to corrupt our knowledge of money and economics which ensures that things will never run well.

Monetary theory has been regressing since 1856, when someone worked out how the system really worked.

Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory

“A lost century in economics: Three theories of banking and the conclusive evidence” Richard A. Werner

The Classical Economists of the 19th Century were only too aware of the two sides of capitalism, the productive side where wealth creation takes place and the parasitic side where wealth extraction takes place.

It all disappears in early neoclassical economics.

How are the economically parasitic ruling class going to fare if this becomes common knowledge?[1]

[1] "Flags, Symbols, And Statues Resurgent As Globalism Declines."By Wayne Madsen, Zero Hedge, 9/19/17.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Once More, With Feeling

     Do not use my old Yahoo address to email me. Use the address in my section of our About Us page. I no longer check the Yahoo address; their runaway scripts make it too much trouble. Thank you.


     “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” -- Brenda Ann Spencer

1. Economic Thought.

     If you’ve ever wondered why governments are so fond of the economic theories of John Maynard Keyes and so averse to the thinking of Austrians Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, Mike at 90 Miles from Tyranny has an instructive graphic for you. Go thou forth, peruse it, and return hither.

     The Keynesian side of that graphic is filled with all manner of obsequies toward government: government spending, government managed “fiat” currencies, government superintendence of the national economy. It also aims a few slaps at private enterprise: e.g., that inflation is caused when “corporations raise prices.” In contrast, the Austrian side speaks of the power of private enterprise to create prosperity while regulating itself through the laws of supply and demand. It deplores government-managed “fiat” currencies as the engine of inflation and rejects the notion that government interventions into the economy are constructive overall.

     Not much of a surprise why statists prefer Keynesianism, is it?

2. Why Hillary Clinton Lost The Presidential Election.

     Daniel Greenfield has the answer, deduced straight from Mrs. Clinton’s ponderous, irritating book:

     Current ‘blamees’ include the FBI, millions of white people, sexism, the Russians, Russian sexism, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Joe Biden, Matt Lauer and the Electoral College.

     And probably the starting lineup of the Denver Broncos. You’ll have to buy the book for the full list.

     But What Happened, Hillary’s spiteful magnum opus, does actually answer its titular question.

     Hillary happened....

     The carefully constructed machine built to take Hillary to the White House broke down on Wisconsin Highway 14, Florida State Road 20 and Pennsylvania Route 22. Only a skeleton staff of loyalists stayed to help Hillary turn her name recognition and remaining connections into filthy lucre and filthier spite.

     That’s what What Happened is. Hillary gets to lash out at everyone and get paid for it. Not only is she upstaging Bernie’s book tour while trying to tie him to Trump, she’s taking shots at another likely Dem 2020er, Joe Biden, not to mention her own badly used DNC and everyone who didn’t vote for her.

     If Hillary can’t be president, she’s going to make damn sure that none of her Dem rivals will either.

     I have no intention of reading What Happened -- link conveniently provided so that you, Gentle Reader, can sneer at it too – but so far, every mention of the book I’ve seen, whether from a Right or a Left source, has concurred with Greenfield’s sentiments. All that remains is for the media to conclude that there’s no more “juice” in the election and for her supposed party to pass a sentence of exile upon her. These are consummations devoutly to be wished, even by many who didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

3. Those Damned Episcopalians!

     The whole of France is becoming a no-go zone for Americans:

     Four American women visiting France were attacked with acid Sunday in the southern city of Marseille, according to a report.

     A 41-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the attack. Two of the female tourists suffered facial injuries from the incident, which occurred at the Saint Charles train station. One of the women may have an eye injury, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor's office told the Associated Press.

     As usual, the French government has said that there are “no indications” that this was a terrorist attack. Where would you place your bet, Gentle Reader?

     It’s been said innumerable times, including by me, that no one has ever won a war playing defense. This is especially the case regarding today’s “asymmetric” warfare, conducted in spurts by un-uniformed combatants whose allegiances are generally plain but whose intentions are cloaked until the instant they act. If we want this madness to stop, the entire First World must go on the attack.

     Islam in the First World must be destroyed. There must be no Muslims in the nations of the West, no matter what must be done to cleanse ourselves of them. And yes, I mean that exactly as it sounds.

4. The Campus Campaign Against Conservative Speech.

     Matt Lewis of The Daily Beast has some first-hand information for us:

     To get a better perspective on the problem, I reached out to Madison Faupel, who interned for my wife this summer. Instead of perspective, I got a first-hand testimonial.

     She’s the president of the University of Minnesota's College Republican chapter. Her group sparked controversy last fall when it reserved space and painted a mural on the Washington Avenue Bridge to promote their student group.

     Her group settled on three slogans: “College Republicans, The Best Party on Campus,” “Trump Pence 2016,” and “Build the Wall.”

     Within an hour, the panels had been vandalized, and protesters had surrounded the panels. Some of the vandalism included the following statements: “STOP WHITE SUPREMACY NOW” and “Hate Speech is not Free Speech.”

     The notion that Madison is a white supremacist is about as laughable as the notion that Ben Shapiro is one. In their insistence on tolerance, leftists are increasingly intolerant of anyone who may not like their choice of candidate or political ideas. The charge of "racism" is becoming an easy way to shut down robust political discussion.

     That last sentence above indicates that Lewis is a little behind the curve. “Racist!” has been the silencing cry of campus totalitarians for quite some time now. But I’m not telling my Gentle Readers anything they don’t already know.

5. Conservatism Needs Joy.

     Via our most recent Co-Contributor, we have this inspiring, even exciting article from Jacobite Magazine:

     Contemporary young people on the right may be described in many ways: Transgressive. Ostracized. Principled. Unpopular. Free-thinking. Reactionary. Traditional. However accurate—and perhaps damning — one thinks these are, there is one label that greatly worries me: Joyless.

     A somewhat bleak opening, you say? Well, yes, but it assists writer Felix James Miller’s thesis in two ways. Here’s the first of them:

     There are many examples of figures rejoicing despite the odds, but I would like to hold up one as particularly helpful for today: Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Born in 1874, Chesterton saw in the modernism of his day the monster in has since become. As a Catholic convert and a critic of atheism, Islam, first-wave feminism, and many other intellectual movements, Chesterton is an easy friend to Jacobite readers. He understands that “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions,” and that “Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative.”

     The reason G.K. Chesterton is so important to the right today is that his writings express a deep joy about life. This joy is not superficial, but is simply the natural result of his love for reality. And he did not simply display this joy, he worked to spread it to others. His critique of self-referential, modernist conceptions of joy still packs the punch today that it did when first published:

     Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.

     It’s the Left that refuses to find joy in normal life! Joy is antithetical to the Left’s need to politicize all of life. Conservatives could easily exploit this simply by being exemplars of the joy that arises from simply paying attention to and honoring reality: productive work done willingly and well, properly balanced by leisure and leisurely pursuits; love in all its many forms; gratitude to God for our world, our lives, and the many blessings He has granted us. A snippet from 1984 captures this nicely:

     ‘When you make love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?’

     Here’s the second one, which Miller only implies: It’s the doing of the media, which is in bed with the Left, that conservatives are caricatured as joyless scolds. But we have “our own media” now – you’re reading a bit of it – and we needn’t scruple to use it to bray at them – joyfully.

6. It’s Coming.

     Innocents is nearing completion, albeit agonizingly slowly. Parts of this story have been harder to write than anything else I’ve attempted. (For a useful perspective, be aware that Which Art In Hope took me twelve years to finish.) But it’s usually the case that the harder a story is for me to get right, the more satisfied I am with the result – and the more striking it will be to the ultimate reader. Please bear with me.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Technological Toxicities

     "I wish the old man had remembered something about the fall of the old Ring society. I had an idea …" And he told the puppeteer his theory of a mutating colonic bacterium.
     "That is possible," said Nessus. "Once they lost the secret of transmutation, they would never recover."
     "Oh? Why not?"
     "Look about you, Louis. What do you see?"
     Louis did. He saw a lightning-storm developing ahead; he saw hills, valleys, a distant city, twin mountain peaks tipped with the dirty translucency of raw Ring flooring…"Land anywhere on the Ringworld, and dig. What do you find?"
     "Dirt," said Louis. "So?"
     "And then?"
     "More dirt. Bedrock. Ring floor material," said Louis. And as he said these words the landscape seemed to alter. Storm clouds, mountains, the city to spinward and the city dwindling behind, the edge of brilliance far away on the infinity-horizon, that might be a sea or a sunflower invasion…now the landscape showed as the shell it was. The difference between an honest planet and this was the difference between a human face and an empty rubber mask.
     "Dig on any world," the puppeteer was saying, "and eventually you will find some kind of metal ore. Here, you will find forty feet of soil, and then the Ring foundation. That material cannot be worked. If it could be pierced, the miner would strike vacuum — a harsh reward for his labor.
     "Give the Ring a civilization capable of building the Ring, and it must necessarily have cheap transmutation. Let them lose the technology of transmutation — no matter how — and what would be left? Surely they would not stockpile raw metals. There are no ores. The metal of the Ring would be all in machines and in tools and in rust. Even interplanetary capability would not help them, for there is nothing to be mined anywhere around this star. Civilization would fall and never rise."
     Softly Louis asked, "When did you figure this out?"
     "Some time ago. It did not seem important to our survival."
     "So you just didn't mention it. Right," said Louis. The hours he'd spent worrying that problem! And it all seemed so vividly obvious now. What a trap, what a terrible trap for thinking beings.

     [Larry Niven, Ringworld]

     Ringworld is an imaginative tour de force, arguably the best “hard” science fiction novel ever written. The passage above concerns the collapse of the civilization that built the Ringworld, a section of a cylinder, made from every scrap of material in its solar system, that rotates around its primary star. The fate of that civilization, which had eliminated the basis for its rise, speaks a phrase of warning to us of human technological civilization, though we’re nowhere near to building a Ringworld of our own.

     It is possible for a civilization to burn its bridges behind it.

     There’s a chance that we’re in the process of doing so:

     When cellphones first appeared, they gave people one more means of communication, which they could accept or reject. But before long, most of us began to feel naked and panicky anytime we left home without one.

     To do without a cellphone — and soon, if not already, a smartphone — means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from “you can have a portable communication device” to “you must have a portable communication device” practically overnight.

     Not that long ago, you could escape the phone by leaving the house. Today most people are expected to be instantly reachable at all times. These devices have gone from servants to masters.

     [Unabomber Theodore] Kaczynski cannot be surprised. “Once a technical innovation has been introduced,” he noted, “people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if computers, for example, were eliminated.)”

     You might not think of this as a problem...yet. But a serious stroke against the technologies we employ ubiquitously today could reveal something truly terrible: not a paucity of resources with which to regain those technologies, but the widespread loss of the abilities for which we’ve substituted them.

     “Use it or lose it” has more than individual application.

     Think for a moment about Homo Neanderthalensis. The technology available to him was exceedingly low. He could make a fire. He knew how to use a sharp-edged stone as a knife and an antelope femur as a club. In theory, his entire species could have lost those technologies, throwing him back into tool-less helplessness before the cold and the dark. However, the recovery of those losses would have been rather straightforward. It would probably have occurred within the generation that forgot them, precisely because they’re so low – that is, there’s no sub-technology that enables them.

     Americans of the Twenty-First Century are more vulnerable. There are many technological levels beneath the one we enjoy today. Should one prove vulnerable to some natural occurrence, the United States and the other highly technologized countries would be thrown into the same civilizational pot as the Third World...if not lower. Most of us need our tech tools. Few would be able to do without them.

     This is a common motif in dystopic fiction. John Barnes’s recent Daybreak trilogy exploits it by postulating a terrorist attack that wipes out plastics and semiconductors. With that one blow, Mankind is reduced to the technologies of the early 1800s...and not only are there very few people who know how to use them; they are grotesquely unequal to the support of a population of seven billion.

     Our ability to sustain so many lives, a goodly fraction of them in essentially toil-and-pain-free comfort, lies entirely in our technology.

     Perhaps there’s no point in worrying about such things. Perhaps they should be relegated to the darker imaginings of science fiction writers. However, even entertaining the possibility involves confronting an unpleasant fact about Mankind, particularly First World Mankind: There aren’t many of us who are good for much.

     Consider anyone who makes his living by exploiting a technology he lacks the capacity to comprehend. Consider op-ed writers. What fraction of them could contrive a subsistence living for themselves and their dependents without the technology that keeps our supermarkets stocked, even if we were to furnish them with zeroed-in .30-06 rifles and an inexhaustible supply of ammunition?

     Consider entertainers.
     Consider “public” school teachers.
     Consider college academics and administrators.
     Consider the occupation of journalists and newscasters.
     Consider elected officials, policy analysts, aides, and their “gophers.”
     Consider bureaucrats...and do your damnedest not to chortle at the thought.

     Then consider yourself. The odds are fairly good that you make regular use of some medicine to protect your health, perhaps even to keep you alive. As you get older, that probability will rise. For my part, if I were deprived of my hypertension medicines, I’d be dead within the week.

     Technology has elevated Mankind to a dizzying height. Not all of its effects have been completely benign, but without it there would be far fewer of us, all of them living lives that are “nasty, poor, brutish, and short.”

     Now consider our contemporary Luddites: they who rail against technology, who extol the “pastoral life,” and who ardently hope for a cataclysm of the sort John Barnes’s characters and the builders of Larry Niven’s Ringworld suffered.

     Feeling homicidal yet? It didn’t take long, did it?

Are You One of the Ikea Humans?

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