Don’t Expect More Today

     The C.S.O. is “having a procedure,” as they say, so I’ll be away from the keyboard for a while, and probably too pooped to post for the remainder of the day. Have a good one.

Had Enough Yet?

     I have:

     Josh Alexander, 16, is not allowed to attend school for the rest of the year after saying he would continue to express his belief that God created only two genders. The school told him his presence would be “detrimental to the physical and mental well-being” of transgender students, Alexander told The Epoch Times.

     He told St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario, he would not intentionally engage or start conflicts with transgender students, but he would continue to express his belief. He and his lawyer are bringing this matter to an Ontario human rights tribunal, calling it religious discrimination.

     “Offence is obviously defined by the offended. I expressed my religious beliefs in class and it spiraled out of control,” Alexander said. “Not everybody’s going to like that. That doesn’t make me a bully. It doesn’t mean I’m harassing anybody. They express their beliefs and I express mine. Mine obviously don’t fit the narrative.”

     He hasn’t attended school since November, when he was first suspended. He had organized a protest against transgender students using the girls’ washrooms. Alexander said he launched the demonstration after two girls at his school confided in him that they were uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with biological males.

     He had also said in class discussions that there are only two, immutable genders.

     A Catholic school, Gentle Reader. A Catholic school. Yes, it happened in Canada, not the U.S., but where will it happen next?

     Where is Cardinal Collins? Where is the Holy See?

     Excuse me while I froth at the mouth and convulse for a while. Oh wait: there’s this too:

     Prostitutes are now soliciting johns next to a St. Anthony’s K-8 Catholic grade school in Oakland all hours of the day after Governor Newsom signed a law ending loitering arrests for prostitution.

     Last summer the Democrat governor signed a state law that prevents police from arresting sex workers loitering for prostitution.

     So now the prostitutes are walking around scantily clad and in some even naked next to children and the police can’t make any arrests thanks to Gavin Newsom.

     Would the Vatican please put California under Interdict? It’s high time.

Some Pictures Are Worth More Than 1000 Words

Like this one:

‘Nuff said.

The Brazenness Has Not Yet Peaked

     This is typical of the race-hustlers: Wherever they’ve gained, they push for more:

     American systems of legal administration enact violence against minority populations. Examining and re-considering these structures, such as the criminal justice system (CJS), is a crucial part of anti-racist action….

     Princeton’s Honor Code, tasked with holding students accountable and honest in academic settings, mirrors the criminal justice system in its rules and effects. It is harmful to the entirety of the Princeton community: the fear it instills in students fosters an environment of academic hostility. But it is often most damaging for first-generation low-income (FLI) students — students who also often belong to racial minorities.

     If you have a strong stomach and are capable of laughing at outrageous lunacy, feel free to read it all. Otherwise, be content with this summary:

  • Princeton’s Honor Code forbids cheating on examinations, essays, term papers, and laboratory reports. It specifies a procedure for investigating whether a violation has occurred, for a hearing on the matter, and for optional consultations with the dean of students.
  • If a student is found to have committed a violation, he will face one of the following penalties:
    1. a reprimand,
    2. disciplinary probation,
    3. a suspension,
    4. a suspension with conditions,
    5. permanent expulsion.
  • The student may appeal to the dean for reconsideration.

     That’s all. The Honor Code does not cover any of the various penal offenses covered by the criminal code. It is concerned with academic honesty only, and all its penalties are academic in nature.

     Many black and Hispanic students are admitted to colleges and universities under lower standards than those applied to whites. Yes, even at Ivy League Princeton. Now it seems that asking them to submit their own work, rather than someone else’s, is prejudicial. Could there be any stronger argument that black and Hispanic students can’t meet the standards imposed upon whites and Asians? Could Emily Santos’s demand that they not be held accountable for academic dishonesty be interpreted as anything but a demand that all such standards be erased?

     “Social justice” has already ruined primary and secondary education. That’s why the majority of white-collar employers require a college degree from an applicant – in some cases regardless of the demands of the position applied for. Were “higher education to go in that direction, can anyone imagine what would follow?

     Yet people call me a racist for saying that a single standard must apply to all. I’m sure those folks think well of themselves. But the damage they’re doing to the “minorities” whose causes they champion goes beyond my power to catch in a net of words.

     “You can ignore reality, but you can’t escape the consequences of ignoring reality.” – Ayn Rand

     Or as I prefer to put it, God is not mocked.

     Have a nice day.

Differences Small And Large

     You may have seen this before. It’s a brief clip from Cate Blanchett’s movie Tar:

     If you dislike videos, here’s the transcript, as best I can render it from the error-prone YouTube attempt:

Max: You play really well, but nowadays white male CIS composers…just not my thing
Lydia Tar: Don’t be so eager to be offended. The narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity
Max: I guess Edgard Varese is okay…I mean like Arcana anyway.
Lydia Tar: Oh well then you must be aware that Varese once famously stated that jazz was a Negro product exploited by the Jews. Didn’t stop Jerry Goldsmith from ripping him off for his Planet of the Apes score. It’s kind of a perfect insult don’t you think?
     But you see, the problem with enrolling yourself as an ultrasonic epistemic dissident is that if Bach’s talent can be reduced to his gender, birth country, religion, sexuality and so on, then so can yours. Now someday Max, when you go out into the world and you guests conduct for a major or minor orchestra, you may notice that the players have more than light bulbs and music on their stands. They will also have been handed rating sheets, the purpose of which is to rate you. Now what kind of criteria would you hope that they would use to do this? Your score reading and stick technique, or something else?
     All right everyone: using Max’s criteria let’s consider Max’s thing in this case. Now can we agree on two pieces of observation? One that Anna was born in Iceland, and two that she is in a Waldorf teacher kind of way a super-hot young woman? Show of hands….All right now let’s turn our gaze back to the piano bench up there and see if we can square how any of those things possibly relate to the person we see seated before us….Where are you going?
Max: You’re a fucking bitch.
Lydia Tar: And you are a robot. I mean unfortunately, the architect of your soul appears to be social media. If you want to dance the masque, you must service the composer! You’ve got to sublimate yourself, your ego, and yes: your identity. You must in fact stand in front of the public and God, and obliterate yourself.

     It’s the finest evisceration of “woke” political posturing I can imagine. That Hollywood allowed it to be made is a kind of miracle. The core of the thing is Lydia Tar’s first statement:


The narcissism of small differences
Leads to the most boring conformity.

     It doesn’t matter whether you consider the differences involved large or small. They’re actually quite significant in determining one’s beliefs, preferences, intentions, and conduct. What matters is the Left’s one and only aim: conformity. Your conformity with the Left’s prescriptions and proscriptions. And no matter how they may mutate – and you may be sure they will, and more rapidly than you might expect – you will be required to keep in step, to chant the obligatory slogans, and to cheer and boo for the right people and on cue.

     Most of the creed, however many and tortuous the vermiculations it experiences, will consist of shameless contradictions of what is objectively, verifiably true. For as has been said, those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities…and atrocities will be among the Left’s marching orders. Don’t ask at whom the atrocities will be aimed, or why; just do as you’re told.

     Indeed, the smallest imaginable differences will be artificially inflated to weather-balloon size. Gradations of hair color will be deemed catastrophic. Differences in vocabulary will be made into justifications for pogroms. For the important thing, the essential thing, Comrade, is to keep the revolution going! Fervor must be maintained. Fidelity to the Party must become the sole criterion of importance – and to certify it, every one of the faithful will be required to recite the whole of the Creed: word for word, regularly, before an approved doctrinal monitor. That monitor will have the power to condemn you for any slightest degree of deviation.

     They who have called Leftism a religion aren’t quite correct. No religion fit for human consumption demands that its adherents believe that which is demonstrably untrue.

***

     These days, 1984 is probably the most frequently cited and quoted of all fictions. If George Orwell / Eric Blair were alive, he’d probably demand residuals. All the same, its relevance is unquestionable. It sometimes looks as if the Left has aimed at reifying the Party’s absolute rule over all things… which, in Orwell’s novel, extended even to the thoughts of its subjects.

     It’s been proposed by several that the Left will “eat its own” sooner or later. Indeed, there are signs of that already. I’ve seen it before, in a collegiate setting. The purveyors of doctrine cannot allow anyone to dissent from any aspect thereof. It could call the whole edifice into question, and where would we be then? Tolerating freethinkers? Allowing dissidents to go their own way?

     That might be the most promising opening for a counterattack from the Right. For among the faithful are surely persons who talk the talk without fully accepting it. The possibilities for fomenting internal strife are appealing, if not too savory ethically.

     Trouble is, the strategists of the Left know it too. Their quest for political hegemony has the enforcement of “politically correct” doctrine as one of its principal aims. It’s part of why they excoriate any well-known person – especially among the culturally prominent – who differs with them. (Consider J. K. Rowling as an example.) Granted that they don’t have a Ministry of Love yet…but the century is young.

     Don’t imagine there’s anything deep hidden in this piece. It’s just what I’ve been thinking about this morning. Besides, as I’ve said on other occasions, I charge my Gentle Readers what my opinions are worth.

     Have a nice day.

A Stunning Advance In Translation Technology

     With the rapid ascent of “artificial intelligence” software have come considerable strides in an area that’s long interested me: software that can easily and usefully translate among languages. And yes: AI is definitely required to do the job properly. The reason is the idiosyncratic nature of human communication. We rely on idioms and cultural conventions to convey meaning far more often than most of us are aware.

     What I didn’t know until quite recently is that the translators have advanced so greatly that they can now handle Dog! Now, thanks to the geniuses at Uranus Corp®, you really can understand what your pooch is trying to tell you. However, it requires that you aim your computer’s camera at Fido, as much of Dog is expressed with facial expressions and body language.

     Here’s an automated translation of a recent emission from my dog Sophie, a 13 year old German Shepherd mix:

WHAT I SAW AND HEARD:
     [Sophie holds tail high, does partial forward squat, and offers a wide grin] Woof! Ur, Ur! [concludes with protracted purr-like hum]

WHAT SHE MEANT:
     “I’ve been waiting for hours for you to take me outside and throw the BLEEP!ing ball for me to chase, and all you do is sit there at the BLEEP!ing computer and argue with morons on the BLEEP!ing Internet.”

     Of course, Uranus doesn’t guarantee that you’ll like the result.

At Uranus,
Things Come Out Just A Little Differently.

[Uranus Corp. Motto]

Can Freedom Be Individualized?

     “Professor, I can’t understand you. I don’t insist that you call it ‘government’—I just want you to state what rules you think are necessary to insure equal freedom for all.”
     “Dear lady, I’ll happily accept your rules.”
     “But you don’t seem to want any rules!”
     “True. But I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

     [Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress]

     It’s a classic statement about moral responsibility…and something else as well. Among us are many who seek to make rules. Usually they’re rules for other people to obey. From the same source:

     Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws—always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: “Please pass this so that I won’t be able to do something I know I should stop.” Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them “for their own good”—not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.

     It’s pervasive among us. There’s probably no hope of eradicating it. Our sole conceivably realizable hope is for fleeing it: beating feet to escape its reach. But even then, except for him who flees alone, there’s likely to be someone nearby who’ll want to make rules…if not now, then in the near future.

     What’s a lonely freedom seeker to do?

***

     The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. – Albert Camus

     Camus’ sentiment was echoed some years later, with lots more detailed recommendations, by Harry Browne. I’ve often wondered whether their language was simply too direct for me, because I failed to understand what they were driving at. What could their conception of “personal liberty” mean in a world steadily surrendering to totalitarianism? What good would it be, now or in the future?

     It’s a tough nut to crack. The typical freedom advocate is interested in political freedom: the limitation or abolition of the authoritarian State. He doesn’t think in personal terms. But as matters stand, the odds are stacked massively against him.

     How likely is it that an ultra-reductionist, completely individual approach along the Camus / Browne lines would work – i.e., would yield results that would satisfy the individual freedom-seeker – where the political approach has not?

     That’s the question before us today.

***

     I encountered this video at NC Renegades:

     Moving, poetic, inspiring…yet the question remains unanswered: Is it possible to be “personally free” in a land ruled by an authoritarian State? Where that State can take whatever it wants from you, while compelling, forbidding, and regulating all of human conduct and enterprise? Wouldn’t it require a radical reconceptualization of freedom itself?

     The nut remains uncracked, especially for those surrounded and dominated by would-be rule-makers. Something a dear departed friend said to me long ago strikes me as relevant. He, like me, was an applied mathematician. As “we spoke the same language,” I was able to grasp his meaning at once:

Within a suitably defined region, any group ready, willing, and able to impose its will upon the individuals within that region is a State de facto.

     It’s a bit like the Implicit Function Theorem. If you’re not alone, there’s a State near you, even if it’s not doing much at the moment. Indeed, you might be a member. This is redolent of Lao-Tse’s lament that the only liberty one can achieve inheres in solitude and quietism: to want nothing and to accept everything. To him, all other aspirations were futile.

     How, then, to “liberate” oneself in a fashion that doesn’t require the acceptance of rule by others?

***

     I don’t have an answer that satisfies me. I have to designate this a question for further contemplation. But stay: What if our quest is badly aimed? What if the goal we should seek lies elsewhere than in the rejection of coercively imposed authority?

     Herbert Spencer’s blockbuster 1850 tract Social Statics came with a subtitle: The conditions essential to human happiness specified, and the first of them developed. The subtitle was more revealing than the title, for a reason that has eluded men for centuries. Indeed, Aristotle told us the reason, yet the majority of men have failed to grasp it:

Happiness is that we seek as an end in itself, and for no other reason.

     In Spencer’s conception, we seek freedom as a route toward greater happiness. Spencer was aware that happiness is our ultimate temporal goal. He believed that men cannot be enduringly happy unless they’re free. In mathematical terms, freedom is a necessary precondition for happiness.

     Whether Spencer was right or wrong about this, freedom is demonstrably not sufficient.

     There have been free societies in which there were many unhappy people. They wanted or needed something more…or something else. Indeed, some of them could not become happy without imposing their wills on those around them: i.e., become the local State. That poses a problem insoluble in political terms.

     We all want to be happy. By Aristotle’s definition, that’s tautologically true. But happiness is no more guaranteed to a man than a particular job, or spouse, or lifespan. Some want to be free; others want to be rulers. (A few want to be slaves; they advertise in various urban publications.) Whether freedom is necessary for the happiness of the great majority is uncertain. Given the trends of the century behind us, there are arguments both ways.

     None of this will satisfy the man who wants above all other things to be free from coercion. And who knows? Even if utterly free he might remain miserable to the end of his days. I could name a few such. Would that mean that he doesn’t really know what he wants?

     Food for thought.

Cognitive Dissonance Chronicles

     The use of deliberate contradiction and confusion to paralyze the populace is a classic tactic of totalitarian regimes. It’s also used by aspiring tyrants:

     The recent controversy over gas stoves is a classic example of how the left works.
     They put the idea out there that they wanted to get rid of gas stoves. The liberal media ran with it immediately. We suddenly had articles in major newspapers claiming that gas stoves cause asthma and are bad for your health and the environment.
     When the public pushed back on this idea, suddenly the idea of banning gas stoves was a conspiracy theory. Suddenly, you were crazy for even thinking that anyone was going after gas stoves.
     Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is now mocking Republicans for this, and the liberal media is playing right along. Look at this:

     There’s just this one little problem:

     In the memo dated Oct. 25, 2022, Richard Trumka Jr. — whom President Biden appointed to serve on the five-person Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — wrote to a fellow commissioner that there was sufficient evidence for the agency to move forward with a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to ban gas stoves in the near future. Trumka’s memo was titled, “NPR Proposing Ban on Gas Stoves (Indoor Air Quality).”
     “The need for gas stove regulation has reached a boiling point,” the CPSC commissioner wrote in the October memo. “CPSC has the responsibility to ban consumer products that emit hazardous substances, particularly, when those emissions harm children, under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.”

     The repeated use of this tactic is often sufficient to induce a policy of distrust by everyone in everything. Not that we aren’t pretty close to that already, mind you. But the Democrats may have made an error in using the Dishonorable Charles Schumer for this mission. New Yorkers, at least, know better than to believe what comes out of his mouth. The rest of the country should take notice.

     Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ’doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink. [1984]

     Our telescreen is not on your wall, Comrade. It’s in your hand. Now thank us for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams.

China’s Ambitions to Take Over the World?

Not gonna happen.

You remember that Belt & Road Initiative? The outreach to underdeveloped, but resource-rich countries, that had China promising to build infrastructure in return for money and control of their resources?

A lot of people – me included – were very concerned about that effort. If it succeeded, wide swaths of Africa and South America were going to fall to Communism.

It seemed to be a tidal wave of change that was unstoppable.

So much for the Tidal Wave. The Ecuadorian projects is the one referenced in the WSJ article, but it is just:

one of many Chinese-financed projects around the world plagued with construction flaws.

Ace goes on to comment:

OG Moron Tmi3rd notes that there is “a Chinese phrase called “cha bu duo”, or “good enough”. There’s a tolerance for slop in China that, although intended to be pragmatic, has pervaded their culture in a destructive way. I think that’s what you’re seeing here. “ Such a thing is not unknown, Arab countries struggle with the same kind of thing – Inshallah. The building will stay up if Allah wills it may not be the most efficient approach to engineering. All those huge projects you see built by oil money across the middle east are at the very least designed by western firms, and usually built by them too.

There is further information at Ace of Spades, including information about the current state of the Three Gorges Dam, and what failure of the dam would mean to China.

Basically, collapse of their civilization, and massive loss of lives.

If I were in charge of a business outsourcing to China, I’d be working overtime to see that I had other options set up for production. Then, I’d start moving it to that new place, ASAP.

There is a HUGE market in medication production for any country that wants to provide some assistance in setting up factories manufacturing the basic materials that are the base for nearly all drugs. If a state wanted to take on the project, it would likely pay them back 10-fold or more. The only thing that would be essential is to KEEP CHINA OUT OF THAT PROJECT. Make all employees – from the top to the bottom – undergo extensive and ongoing security investigations.

Moral Principles And What Follows Their Dismissal

     Fulton Sheen said it better than I ever could:

     I’ve known people who would argue endlessly that there are no moral absolutes: i.e., that there are no natural rights to life, liberty, or honestly acquired property. Not all of them were stupid. Neither were all of them criminally inclined. They simply couldn’t cope with the idea that there are laws that enforce themselves, much as do the laws of physics. There was one gentleman – and I assure you, he would never have harmed a fly – who thought the following was a refutation of the notion:

     “If someone steals your car stereo, and it doesn’t come back to you all by itself, then there are no natural rights.”

     Yet the patterns that run through the history of Man speak eloquently to the existence of those natural rights. Those rights are “no respecter of persons.” Neither do they discriminate among the races, nor among the ethnicities, nor between the two and only two sexes. When they go unacknowledged, chaos and carnage follow.

     The piece just below this is a case in point. Today there is a racially privileged group to which the requirements of the law are not uniformly applied. That group is now the principal source of violence and predation in these United States. The graphic below tells the tale. Another observation – that the “whitest” states are the ones with the lowest crime rates per capita — amplifies its voice.

     The “race versus culture” arguments will go on for a long time to come. Either side might be right. It’s possible that both sides are partially right and partially wrong. While we can argue until our tongues drop off, in the end it doesn’t matter. Above all else stands the differential application of the law, as if the black race were exempted from respecting the natural rights of Man.

     The swelling chaos and violence this has brought upon America’s cities is guaranteed to persist and worsen unless and until that exemption is retracted. Indeed, it might persist even beyond that; habits of mind, heart, and soul inculcated in a race over several generations could prove resistant to correction. But unless the law is once again uniformly applied to all persons regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, creed, or what have you, the guarantee will stand.

An Eye-Opening Graphic

     I stole this from Ragin’ Dave at Peace or Freedom:

     Says a lot, doesn’t it? But there’s a larger tale to tell, and tell it I shall.

     Have you ever heard the term “Saturday-night special?” I’d bet most of our Gentle Readers have. It’s a derogatory phrase that refers to inexpensive handguns. It’s usually combined with the proposition that whatever the law thinks of other firearms, those cheap guns should be banned.

     So far, not really news to most Gentle Readers. But what’s probably news is the origin of the phrase. It’s closely tied to another phrase: this one no longer in general circulation because what it refers to doesn’t happen anymore: Niggertown Saturday night. That…event was once a feature of Jim Crow states. Lowlife whites would arm themselves, journey to where blacks lived nearby, and terrorize the neighborhood. Happily, that practice has died out.

     The phrase “Saturday-night special” referred to the weapons the local blacks would acquire, to be wielded in their defense on such a Saturday night. Those inexpensive handguns, affordable by even the poorest blacks, were a large part of the motivation for some of the earliest gun control statutes. They leveled the playing field, such that those who sought to terrorize them had to expect return fire. The lowlifes didn’t like that. Neither did the political powers of their day, who were willing to overlook a little Saturday-night fun, but not the death or maiming of their youngsters.

     Well, as the graphic above indicates, the times have changed, and we’ve changed with them. But that’s not an argument for gun control of any variety. The states that have the most permissive gun laws have the least amount of violent crime per capita. Rather, it suggests that the investigation, prosecution, and overall deterrence of violent crime is still racially biased. It’s just that the vector of that bias has reversed direction – and now that firearms are available to persons of all races, the cohort with the greater inclination toward aggression and lawlessness dominates the statistics.

     Food for thought.

When A Man Shows You Who He Is

     …believe him:

     Hakeem Jeffries is the Minority Leader for the Democrat Party caucus in the House of Representatives. I have no doubt that his statement expresses the sentiments of his caucus. Do we really need a more in-your-face statement of the Democrats’ intentions for this nation?

The New Standard For Guilt

     Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

     Quite a number of years ago, there was a doctor named Sam. Though his reputation was spotless, he was accused of murdering his wife. There was no evidence to that effect, other than his discovery of her corpse. However, the newspapers in his district of residence were determined to make him stand trial for the crime. It became a widely celebrated case of “trial by newspaper:” the use of private media to pre-convict an innocent man. (The case also helped to catapult F. Lee Bailey to stardom as the preeminent defense attorney in the United States.)

     The political Establishment was watching. While Sam Sheppard’s conviction for murder was overturned on appeal and he was acquitted at his retrial, the value of the media in establishing a public conviction of the guilt of an accused man was plain. The federal government has used it more than once. But then, when Washington wants to get you, it is going to get you, and be damned to niceties like individual rights.

     Divemedic has a related article today:

     …Sheriffs are posting people’s names and pictures on television to tell the world that those people are criminals, even when they aren’t.

     Don’t get me wrong, I am not against being tough on crime, but there is a process for that. We don’t allow police in this country to punish lawbreakers. There is a process for that, and it doesn’t include destroying people’s lives because you are trying to garner a few votes.

     We may not want the police – or the media – to exercise the power to punish, but these days they do it quite a lot. However, I have another infamy in mind at the moment. It’s interrelated with one of our contemporary fears. It goes by the name of domestic terrorism.

     Consider our attitude toward terrorists. What do they deserve from us? The most common opinion is a quick death, though some would opt for torture beforehand. Now consider: how often do we hear public officials refer to persons they dislike as “domestic terrorists?” That includes persons who, however the public may view them, have not (yet) been convicted of any crime. If that isn’t an attempt to pre-convict the accused through the manipulation of public opinion, what would you call it?

     The most egregious case, of course, involves the gaggle of January 6 protestors. The great majority of them did nothing more heinous than walk into the Capitol Building. Yet Joe Biden and the Democrats’ media handmaidens swiftly labeled them “insurrectionists” and “domestic terrorists.” And the great majority of those so labeled have been involuntarily imprisoned for two years, their access to counsel impeded if granted at all, and a speedy trial most certainly denied, under that label.

     It was a blatant attempt by a politician to punish his political adversaries through the power of the media. And it worked horrifyingly well: well enough that the “COVIDian evangelists” were unhesitating in applying the same technique to their adversaries.

     Anyone who dared to dissent from the lockdowns, reject the masking and “social distancing” decrees, or refuse the highly experimental (and ultimately both ineffective and dangerous) mRNA-based vaccines was swiftly and unapologetically labeled a “domestic terrorist.” Well, why not? Winning the battle for public opinion was what mattered, not truth or justice. The Harry Reid stratagem had already proved its efficacy, despite being an obvious lie. Mitt Romney didn’t get elected, did he?

     If any Gentle Reader needs further evidence for my claim that America as founded is only a memory, please tell me what would satisfy you.

     America the High-Trust Society is no longer. I’ve ranted about it before. I doubt that there are many who would argue the point with me. But it’s important to understand the tactics that have caused our demise. While I doubt we’ll see a restoration of the old Republic while I live, I profoundly hope that future generations will study the methods used to destroy it and learn to counter them. This one is of no use to men of good will, only to power-lusting villains.

What Was The Left’s Old Mantra?

     Oh yes, here it is:

Always Advance As If Under Threat Of Attack

     Two articles bring this to mind:

     The former weak mea culpa pleads for forgiveness. “We thought we were doing the right thing. Hey, anybody can be wrong. Scientists make mistakes too. Besides, there are other problems to be solved!” It’s not the first such plea. Why, you’d think the “public health” community had been threatened with a reduction of funding!

     But mistakes were not the gravamen of our anger. We were incensed at the “scientific community’s” arrogance, its posture as a clergy that cannot be wrong, and its invocation of totalitarian methods to impose its will upon the populace. Note that the article concludes with a statement of its mission: “Restoring trust in public health.” The very core of our fury – that there is no such thing as “public health:” — is completely omitted.

     As for the second article…forgive me, Gentle Reader. Upon discovering it I started laughing hysterically. It took me quite a while to come to a halt. The Left’s absolute and unwavering commitment to its belief in its moral superiority is most blatant in the article’s closing:

     The unvaccinated should by any moral measuring stick have done more to warn about the potential risks — to help us make informed decisions about our health. And they must now ask us for our forgiveness.
     And, hand to heart, we may just give it to them.
     Because we are good people. We took those injections because it was the right thing to do — until it wasn’t.

     It’s stuff like that that makes me wonder if IQfy.com is a parody site.

***

     There isn’t a great deal more to say about the specific subject of COVID-19 and the highly experimental, essentially untested mRNA vaccines. It’s unlikely that any heads will roll over it. Too many of the most culpable belong to our society’s political Establishment. Besides, there are celebrities involved. We can’t cast the titans of the film world into the outer darkness, now can we? Who’d make the next dozen sequels to Avatar?

     Yet there is an upside. Everything has one, even if one must squint hard to see it. The upside in this case is the destruction of trust in “public health authorities.” Indeed, we owe them a great deal more than distrust, for it was at their urging, with the Venomous Dwarf leading the charge, that totalitarian lockdowns and fascistic penalties were wrought upon us for daring to dissent from the The One, Holy, and Indisputable COVIDian Narrative.

     The evangelists of COVIDianism may admit their “errors,” but they will never concede the truly execrable nature of their imposture. That would require that they cease to pose as “authorities.” What would become of their self-image then? As for their Big Pharma collaborators, who raked in billions for the deadly vaccines that have brought us the Epidemic of Died Suddenly: their turn will come.

If You’re Interested In Contemporary Irrationality

     …you’ve simply got to check out this ultra-bizarre site.

     IQfy.com bills itself as “non-partisan.” Decide for yourself. To me it appears to be the product of certifiable Leftists – “certifiable” in both senses. It’s possible that its masters are using it to parody extreme Leftism, but its tone suggests that the writers are serious.

     I haven’t found bylines on any of its articles. That strikes me as significant, but once again, decide for yourself.

     (In the interests of that overly celebrated virtue “full disclosure,” I will state that a hard Leftist once described Liberty’s Torch V1.0 as a Web version of A Confederacy of Dunces. I believe that authorizes me to say similarly uncomplimentary things about Leftists’ sites. Just a bit of candor, Gentle Reader.)

The Death of Character

It’s dead, Honey. Dead as any old ideal that has come into conflict with self-interest.

Whose character?

Those self-important 60s and 70s Elitists who avowed that their refusal to go along with the draft was strictly due to their principled stance on war. NOTHING, you understand, to do with fear of dying/being maimed.

If you want to buy this book, click here. I can highly recommend it.

Those ardent Pro-Women activists who tirelessly fought for Women’s Rights. Until that fight brought them into conflict with entrenched Dems who’d been grossly exploitative of their staffers, volunteers, and hangers-on. So, the Faces of Feminism whored themselves out to save those Nasty Leftist Men.

Below, one of the truly depraved Feminists, whose comment woke me up to reality.

And, now, those “OMG, Trump’s possession of confidential government documents is reason enough to put him in jail” hysterics, once Biden is exposed as having been FAR more careless with Secret Docs:

People of character have the same standards for other people as they have for themselves.

We are not that far removed from the peasants of the Middle Ages, who lived under harsher rules than the Elite. Let’s face it, Entitled Elites STILL face penalties for CRIMINAL activity that is less that the lightest sentences imposed upon the non-Elite. The initial reason for the push to de-criminalize drugs was because too many children of the Elite were getting caught with quantities that would qualify them for long sentences at Hard Time.

Can’t have THAT!

Same with many of the Educational Accommodations – are there kids who do have quirky brain functioning, and could be helped to show what they know through those accommodations? Sure. I’ve seen them in the classroom; many times, they have demonstrated exceptional understanding of concepts that they struggle to show in written format.

However, the system is gamed heavily by the Elite, who cannot accept that their Precious Little Reflection of Themselves is just not all that Bright. Smart enough, but not extraordinary. So, they argue and fight for special breaks for their NOT-qualifying kids, any otherwise exploit the system to push them to ‘glory’ in school.

Only to have them fall apart in many colleges or jobs, when their perfectly average capabilities are revealed. Parental Push can only go so far.

Side Effect

     [It’s time for something light-hearted, as I’ve actually been depressing myself with the public-affairs commentary. So have a story about a young man who works at a quack-remedies mill who discovers something that actually works…and finds love in the bargain — FWP]

==<O>==

     Harley Crandall is a Texan émigré and a businessman of the old school. The oldest school: the one that regards caveat emptor as the only binding commandment. He’d sell you your own hat if you were fool enough to leave it on his counter–and he’d charge you a transaction fee should you demand a refund.
     All the same, there’s no more successful figure in what’s euphemistically called “over-the-counter medicine”…what we insiders prefer to call legalized quackery. Virtually everything we sell is close enough to useless to make no difference, but it’s what we do, and it sells. The federal government regulates all the useful stuff to the hilt. The medical profession is in full accord with the policy, since it forces the sick layman to pay for more visits to the doctor. And don’t look to the drugstores for an objection; they rake it in bigger than everyone else.
     Still, hope springs eternal in the achy, sniffly breast. People will always put more credence in a sunny-sounding promise than in the harsh and unsparing laws of economics; if you need proof, just contemplate your elected officials. So when a patent nostrum firm comes out with something it claims will relieve some misery that nothing else has helped, millions of good-hearted, overly trusting souls will pull out their wallets in a fresh demonstration that hope will always triumph over experience.
     And to think they used to tar and feather snake-oil salesmen.
     Anyway, Crandall Pharmaceuticals was my first employment opportunity after I received my doctorate. In truth, it was my only employment opportunity. When CP’s offer arrived I’d been out of school for more than a year, had been living for two months on a diet of chow mein noodles and chicken bouillon, and was getting low enough to consider taking a gig at a home-improvement warehouse. Despite the firm’s less-than-sterling reputation, I was thrilled by the offer. By then I’d have been thrilled by any offer at all. I did force myself to ponder what starting my career at a patent-medicines firm would do to my later prospects. For about five milliseconds.
     I didn’t realize that it was for show. CP had to have at least a facsimile of a research group to make it look serious. In twenty-three years of operation, no one in the group had ever come up with anything that would have a detectable effect on the human body—good or bad. Not too surprising, considering that the most up-to-date equipment in our labs was a twelve year old mass spectrometer. Neither was it a place to rub shoulders with great minds in the field. Over those twenty-three years, only two pharmacologists had ever left the group…one to become a bookkeeper, the other to manage a bowling alley.
     We did a lot of time-filling and kaffeeklatsch-ing.
     Still, I liked pharmacology. I wanted to make my mark. I kept thinking about the great unsolved problems in the field. I dreamed of possible approaches to solving them. Interleaved with all the time-filling stuff, of course.
     There were some nice things about the job. For one, if you wanted to be left alone, you’d be left alone. For another, the boss’s door was sincerely open. If you had a product idea, he’d give you his full attention, no matter whether you’re the assistant night janitor or the queen of the may. For a third, there was Teresa Hallberg.
     Terri isn’t a classic “looker.” She’s average height and weight. Her typical style of dress for a work day, a consistent marriage of oversized fleece sweatshirts, jeans, and low-quarter sneakers, hid her figure assets from a potential admirer’s eyes. But she has a pretty face. Not glamorous, not exotic, not alluring; just pretty. Yet from the first I found her more appealing than any of the great beauties Hollywood has shown us.
     It’s probably an effect of her personality. It’s a winner. She’s lively and cheerful without overdoing it. You can’t help but smile when she approaches, and the smile tends to linger for awhile after she leaves. No matter who you are, she’ll give you the impression that she’s sincerely glad to see you. At least if she isn’t, she’s never given a sign of it—and Crandall’s research group has had some pretty sour lemons in it.
     It baffled me that at twenty-eight she was still single. I’ve known some seriously beautiful women—not in the Biblical sense, of course—who couldn’t come near to her appeal. You know the old canard about “the girl you’d happily take home to Mom?” That’s Terri.
     I spent a fair amount of my typical work day chatting with her. I spent even more time looking for reasons to do so.
     Terri was our lab manager and purchasing agent. Don’t ask me why a group with scant resources and virtually no budget needed such a person. There she was, holder of magna cum laude master’s degrees in biology and chemistry, working as a glorified secretary for a company that sold useless patent medicines, and I was glad of it. Any opportunity I got to stop by her cubicle was good enough.
     It should be clear how I felt about her, but like most young science nerds, I was way too shy to do anything about it. For most of my two years at CP, I strained to work up the courage to ask her out. As our story begins, I hadn’t quite made it.

#

     There was enough money and enough equipment—barely—to look into the properties of any compound we could get into the lab for a modest amount. When you read “modest,” think “trivial.” Crandall wouldn’t approve the purchase of anything that snuck into three digits unless you held a gun to his head. The whole time I was there, he never approved a purchase request for anything more expensive than a decent lunch, except for advertising.
     Terri did manage to get me samples of a lot of common and obsolete compounds, though. I spent a lot of time pulling them apart and studying the parts with our old mass spectrometer. No one else was making much use of it, so why not?
     There was one compound—sorry, I won’t say which—that was more interesting than the rest. It was originally marketed as a relaxant for irritated sinuses that would help you get your cold-riddled head through a night’s sleep without waking up every five minutes to cough or honk your honker. It worked about as well as most over-the-counter remedies: i.e., to no extent you’d notice. But it was complex, and had some interesting bonds in it that looked like the devil to produce, so I toyed with it for a fair while.
     While I was playing with it, I caught my very own monster of a cold. After the initial siege, it left me with the most annoying of all supposedly minor maladies: the dreaded post-nasal drip.
     Happy the man who’s never had post-nasal drip! The continual coughing and choking are enough to make you wish you’d never been born. You don’t dare to slough work for something so minor. All the same, your co-workers don’t want anything to do with you; your presence among them is too noisy, too disgusting, and too potent a reminder of their last encounters with the Tickle from the Trickle. So while you’re afflicted, you tend to keep to yourself…and to be left that way.
     I was in the middle of analyzing one of the components I’d managed to separate out of the original preparation, an ester of benzodiazepine I was unfamiliar with. I’d taken it straight from the centrifuge to the mass spec without capping the tube. Unwise, I know, but the original compound was so utterly without significant known effects that it had lured me into carelessness.
     I paused on the way to the mass spec to check my email. One-handed. With the uncapped tube in the other hand. Coughing violently all the while. You can probably guess what followed.
     I didn’t get much of it on me. Most landed on my lab coat. A drop or two spattered on my hand. The rest fell on my desk. I growled, fished a cap out of my lab coat pocket, sealed what remained in the tube, and laid the tube down carefully while I finished up.
     It took a moment for me to realize that my post-nasal drip was gone. Not just mitigated; completely gone. My throat was untroubled and my sinuses had become comfortably, healthily dry. For the first time in two weeks, I felt no slightest urge to cough.
     “Holy shit,” I said. I didn’t realize I’d said it out loud…quite out loud.
     Terri was passing nearby at the time. She stopped and peeked into my cubicle at the exclamation.
     “Mike? Are you all right?”
     I looked up and smiled.
     “Dear God,” I said, “what is wrong with me that I can’t invite this sweet, gentle, totally wonderful creature out to dinner? It’s not like I’d be asking her to have my baby. I must be some sort of wimp.”
     Again, out loud. Quite out loud.
     Terri’s eyes flew wide. One hand went to her lips.
     God bless her, she didn’t flee. She edged into my cubicle and peered at me as if I’d sprouted wings.
     “Did you really just say that?” she murmured.
     “Say what?” I said. “There she is, moron. As sweet as a June breeze and fresh as the morning dew, and you can’t bring yourself to ask her for anything but a box of pencils.”
     Terri dropped to her knees, gasping.
     “Terri? Are you all right?” I said. “Get off your ass and help her, idiot. This is your chance to be her hero. Don’t waste it.”
     She fainted and collapsed into my arms.
     It was a real grade-A faint. It took a couple of minutes of gentle nagging and rubbing of various extremities to revive her. Nate Kerrigan just happened to come by toward the conclusion of the process. He stopped and gawked. Of course he did. Nate’s never passed by a social gathering he thought he might be allowed to join, especially if there were any single women in it. Finding me with the office sweetheart unconscious in my arms was impossible for him to resist.
     “Uh, Mike?” Nate said. His look of concern morphed into a lascivious grin. “Is Terri…okay?”
     “You smarmy prick, you can’t look at anything in a skirt without getting that leer,” I said. At least that’s what I was later told I said. Nate’s face turned the brightest shade of red I’ve ever seen on a living creature. He stiffened and stalked away, leaving me wondering just what the hell was going on.
     It didn’t take long. It became all too clear once Terri had returned to consciousness.

#

     “I said that?
     Terri nodded. “You did. But Mike…”
     I looked away. I couldn’t bear to look at her. The heat in my face testified to what must have been a world-class blush. I was on the point of vowing to become a Trappist monk.
     “Mike?” She reached out hesitantly, put gentle fingers to my chin, and turned my head to face her. “I’d love to go out with you. I’ve been waiting for you to ask.
     I should have been overjoyed, but what she’d said hadn’t registered. I was too focused on the incredible faux pas I’d committed, and wondering whether I’d said something similarly unrestrained to Nate Kerrigan. From my memory of his reaction, it seemed all too likely.
     “Forgive me, Terri,” I murmured. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
     She baffled me by giggling and caressing my cheek. “You didn’t upset me, silly. You surprised me. Didn’t you hear what I just said? I’ll happily go out with you. Just name a date, a time, and a place!”
     That time it came through. “You would?”
     She nodded. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. No one else here is both nice and near enough to my age.”
     “Oh.” I sat back. “But…what on earth made me…”
     “Speak your mind?” she said. “I don’t know, but I thank God for it all the same.” She glanced at the capped test tube lying beside my monitor. “What are you working on?”
     That’s what finally reminded me of the benzodiazepine ester I’d been working on…and what I’d done with it. I picked up the tube, uncapped it carefully, and eyeballed the contents. It didn’t seem to be precipitating in either direction. I forced a smile.
     “It’s a component of an old patent medicine that was supposed to help a cold sufferer sleep,” I said. “Seems it was about as effective as the crap we sell. The manufacturer took it off the market years ago. But this piece of it seems to have some effects all its own.”
     She waited, eyes intent.
     “I think it cleared up my post-nasal drip.”
     That rolled her eyelids all the way up. “Completely?”
     I nodded. “Remember how I couldn’t stop coughing? I haven’t got the hint of a tickle now. I can’t think of another explanation.”
     There was a moment of silence.
     “All by itself,” she said, “that’s a billion-dollar discovery. Assuming the other effects aren’t too terrible.” She looked me in the eyes and waited.
     “Well, that’s the other part.” I recapped the tube and thought for a moment. “I can’t come up with another explanation for…the other thing that happened.”
     Terri pressed her lips together. “The stuff you said.”
     “Yeah.”
     Her face brightened visibly. She rose, took my hands, and yanked me out of my seat. Quite a feat, as I’m nearly a foot taller and about a hundred pounds heavier than she is.
     “A good scientist,” she intoned, “never allows a plausible hypothesis to go unexplored. He designs experiments to test its validity.” She grinned mischievously. “Over and over and over. You know, looking for a falsifying result. The last I noticed, Adamski and Peterson were coughing just like you.” She set her arms akimbo. “Well, Dr. Conlon? Where’s your scientist’s initiative…and your lab notebook?”
     My grin rose to match hers. I knew it would be wrong. I knew it would cause no end of trouble. I knew Crandall would find out and raise holy hell. It might even get us both fired.
     We did it anyway.

#

     Yes, Crandall called us onto the carpet.
     “According to your colleagues,” he said as he doffed his Stetson and hung it on the rack behind his desk, “you two were the only ones who stayed completely out of the riot. I might not run the tightest ship in our industry, but I’m not gonna sit around while my PhDs get into fist fights and break up my expensive glassware.” He plopped his ass into his custom-built leather desk chair, steepled his hands, and glared at us. “Especially not if two of ‘em were the cause. Just what kind of mischief have you gotten into?”
     Terri visibly suppressed a giggle. Crandall’s glare swerved from her to me. “Conlon?”
     I produced what I hoped was a blandly innocent smile. “An informal test of a potential product.”
     “And what is this product supposed to do?” he growled. “Apart from starting a riot in my lab, that is?”
     “It appears to provide complete and immediate relief,” I said in my most scholarly cadence, “from the condition called post-nasal drip.”
     That altered the whole tenor of the exchange. Crandall’s mouth dropped open. His eyes went wider than I’d ever seen them. You could almost see the dollar signs cavorting in his brain.
     “Permanent or temporary?” he said.
     “That’s as yet uncertain.” I shrugged. “It’s only been three hours since I, ah, self-administered the substance under investigation, and less than that since I…extended the experiment to our colleagues. We could check, of course. Do you have the phone number at Onteora General?”
     Crandall’s glare returned. “Was the fight another of the effects of your…substance?”
     “Not a direct consequence, no,” I said.
     “More likely,” Terri chimed in brightly, “it resulted from Adamski calling Peterson an ‘obnoxious fraud’ and Peterson replying that Adamski’s wife is a ‘horse-faced pig.’”
     “That would have done it,” I said. “Though I do tend to concur with Peterson’s evaluation.”
     Terri’s hand flew to her lips. The giggle came out anyway.
     “God damn it,” Crandall bellowed, “Can’t you be serious for five minutes? Exactly why did two perfectly ordinary researchers, who’ve barely even noticed one another’s existence up to now, decide to go at it hammer and tongs in the middle of a work day? Did this drug of yours…do something to them?”
     “Well, of course it did, sir,” I said. “It cleared up their post-nasal drip. Perhaps that was the first time they could express their opinions of one another intelligibly.”
     Crandall rose from his chair looking for all the world as if he were about to throttle me. I held up a placating hand.
     “Candidly, Mr. Crandall,” I said, “there does seem to be an unintended side effect. It appears that the drug temporarily neutralizes the real-time verbal censor—the stage in our brains that prevents our entire thought stream from being orally expressed. If it weren’t for that, this would be the medical find of the century.”
     Crandall’s expression went from furious to thoughtful.
     “Let’s not be hasty,” he said. “How long does this…side effect last?”
     I shrugged. “Long enough to cause a fist fight between pharmacologists with time on their hands.”
     “Conlon…” he growled.
     “I can’t really say, sir,” I said. “A psychotropic effect such as this is very hard to measure accurately. The onset occurs in less than a minute. The, ah, null-censorship phase lasts at least two or three minutes.” I glanced at Terri. “But it’s over about five minutes from onset. At the very most.”
     If there’s an entry in the dictionary for unbridled money lust, you’re guaranteed to find the expression my estimate produced on Harley Crandall’s face right next to it.
     “That’s good enough,” he said.

#

     Crandall swore us to secrecy, on pain of death and worse than death. He promised that if either of us so much as muttered about the compound in our sleep, he’d have us disemboweled in Macy’s Herald Square window, our entire families murdered, and all the bodies strung up for the buzzards. Then he set us to work.
     The task was almost painfully obvious. We had to find a way of administering the ester that would keep the user from speaking intelligibly until his verbal censor was back on duty. We could numb his tongue. We could paralyze his vocal cords. We could force him to speak some unknown language in which sexual innuendo was unknown and insults had never been invented. The user’s muting only had to last for five minutes, so anything that would disable his speech functions for that long, but would otherwise leave him alive and well, would suffice.
     We had a lab to ourselves. For the first time, I had Terri working beside me. It made perfect sense. She already knew; no one else did. Besides, it had been obvious for a long while that her intellect, knowledge, and energy were seriously under-employed.
     We proved to be an efficient partnership. Our verbal communication was terse but clear. Our physical coordination was spookily smooth. We often reached the same conclusion at the same instant. It made the work fun.
     Fun, but frustrating.
     The ester was powerful. Transcutaneous subduction would induce its effects as swiftly and powerfully as inhalation. A drop you could produce with an eyedropper, if applied to the skin, would induce the null-censorship effect within seconds. At least, that’s what it did to Terri and me. It did help us to make some fascinating discoveries about one another, though.
     Crandall absolutely forbade us to experiment further on other CP employees. A pity; the first trial been such fun.
     However, nothing we tried would dampen the null-censorship effect. Worse, the tiniest modifications of the molecule robbed it of the main effect, rendering it no more effective than…well, than anything else CP sold. We threw up our hands and tried buffering. We tried every buffering technique approved by the FDA. None of them worked either, but every one of them nullified the ester’s potency against post-nasal drip.
     We had to make do with a specially designed delivery system.

#

     Crandall turned our device in his hand, struggling to understand how it fit the bill.
     “Exactly how,” he said, “is this supposed to work?”
     “The smaller bulb,” I said, “contains the minimum dose of the drug that will eliminate a post-nasal drip, suspended in a small amount of distilled water. To administer it, the user must put the large bulb into his mouth, clamp his lips and teeth tightly on the neck, press the white button on the other end—”
     “And suck like he’s trying to pull a golf ball through a garden hose,” Terri piped up.
     “Terri!” I said.
     “Never you mind, Conlon,” Crandall said. “So the device itself will prevent him from shooting off his yap, eh?”
     I nodded. “No human being can produce a suction strong enough to ingest the whole dose in less than five minutes. At that point, the anti-censorship effect would have passed.”
     Crandall grinned wolfishly. “And it’s just a big ol’ piece of rubber.”
     “With a single-use atomizer embedded in one end,” Terri said.
     “How long before the post-nasal drip comes back?”
     “About a day,” I said.
     “Well glory hallelujah,” Crandall said. The Texas twang he usually took great pains to suppress was in full flower. “You two are in for a pair of fat raises.” He sat back and swung his cowboy boots onto his desk. “And I’ve got a mansion on Aruba all picked out.”

#

     Crandall set his finagling powers to work at once. He went to the manufacturer of the original drug and negotiated to purchase the patent. He got the FDA to agree that the drug was already approved for human consumption, had no perceptible ill effects, and could be safely taken orally in doses far larger than the tiny amount in our delivery device. The medical-devices section approved the device itself with stupefying speed. Crandall obviously knew which palms to grease and how thickly.
     While he and his marketing gurus were hashing out the publicity campaign and arguing over a name, Terri and I were learning interesting things about one another. Lots of interesting things.
     One night after…well, one night kinda late, she propped herself on an elbow and asked me The Question: the one every pharmacology researcher is supposed to ask himself at every moment of every day.
     “Did we overlook anything?” she said.
     I smirked and looked her up and down. She was much shapelier than I’d ever guessed from the way she dressed for work. “I don’t think I did, though I’ll let you speak for yourself.”
     She giggled and tweaked my nose. “You know what I mean. We didn’t test it for very long, or have a huge sample space to try it out on. Could there be any extra effects, say from long-term use, that we ought to know about?”
     I shrugged. “The sample space was what it was. Crandall would have had a cow if we’d, ah, returned to our earlier testing protocols. And long-term use doesn’t strike me as a concern, since the drip goes away after about seven days and the drug promises nothing but relief from that. What’s on your mind, love? Did you think of something else?”
     She didn’t answer at once. It set me to worrying.
     “I’ve been thinking about the device itself,” she said at last. “It’s pretty obvious that the value is in the little end. Won’t someone eventually slice a few of them open and try ingesting the contents all at once—no delay?”
     “Well,” I said, “he’d have to pierce that little atomizer pretty carefully to avoid spilling the whole dose.”
     “You know someone’s going to manage it eventually,” she said. “Then what?”
     “Then we read about it in the papers.”
     “Mike…”
     “I know, I know.” I gathered her into my arms and relished her softness and warmth as she snuggled against me. “Divorces. Affairs. Firings. Promotions. Bar fights. Celebrities coming out of the closet. Criminals confessing to unsolved crimes. Talk show hosts asking politicians serious questions and the politicians answering with the truth. God alone knows what else. But Terri, every negative consequence I can imagine is matched by a positive one. Add the defeat of the ancient scourge of post-nasal drip and how does the balance sheet read?”
     “I don’t know, Mike.” She rested her chin on my shoulder. “But maybe we ought to arrange to be somewhere else before it’s read in public.”
     I said nothing more. She had a point.

#

     The Big Day featured two events of world-shaking impact. The later one was the one o’clock announcement of Trickless, the name CP’s marketing group had bestowed upon the anti-post-nasal-drip drug. The earlier one—four hours earlier—was Crandall’s summons to his office for his grandiloquent announcement of the “fat raises” he’d decided to bestow on Terri and me.
     Five percent.
     We’d given him a drug that would make CP several billion dollars per year—and as CP is a sole proprietorship, he’d get it all. For this gift of riches beyond the imagination of any emperor, he increased our not-particularly-generous salaries by five percent.
     I controlled my reaction with an effort. Terri let a bit more of hers show on her face, but she managed to keep silent. When Crandall dismissed us, I hustled us out of his office and clean out of the building.
     The door had barely finished closing behind us when Terri erupted in a shrieking fit.
     I shan’t reproduce her words. Some of them were of a category I’d never heard from her before. But she could have chanted “hasenpfeffer, hasenpfeffer, hasenpfeffer,” and her fury would have come through loud and clear.
     It took me several minutes to calm her down. The result of the process was an angry glint in her eye and an inexorable suspicion on my part that she had resolved upon revenge.
     My suspicion was correct.

#

     Crandall doesn’t spend money on much, but he excludes from his penchant for penury anything he thinks might benefit him personally. So CP’s public-access room is a far richer sight than anyone might guess from the Spartan condition of our labs.
     The room’s lectern was a beautiful piece of darkest mahogany. The fittings were gleaming brass; the antique-style microphone, which was hardly necessary given the modest size of the room and the usually modest turnout of the press for a Crandall proclamation, was polished silver.
     No one but Harley Crandall had ever stood at that lectern, and likely no one ever would.
     When the appointed hour was upon us, Crandall shepherded the research team into the room as his entourage, almost like a palace guard. With the dour gazes of a couple dozen weary-looking reporters upon us, we marched in dutifully and lined up against the wall behind the lectern. The great man himself went straight to his accustomed place, glanced down at the brass handrail, and turned a dangerous shade of red.
     Terri darted forward. “Is it smudged, sir?” she said.
     She didn’t wait for an answer. Instead she pulled a folded handkerchief out of a hip pocket and rubbed the rail vigorously along its full length. Presently she smiled and invited Crandall’s renewed attention. He scowled, motioned her back, and rested his mitts upon the rail as he beamed at the assembled agents of the Fourth Estate.
     “Ladies and gentlemen,” he boomed, “Crandall Pharmaceuticals has completed the development, testing, and certification for human use of a remedy for one of Mankind’s most annoying afflictions: the terror called post-nasal drip.” He fished an applicator out of his jacket pocket and waved it back and forth at the crowd. “Our new product, which will bear the registered name Trickless, will be made available over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide, beginning this coming Monday.”
     I was surprised to hear his Texas twang come forth.
     “Now you fine folks have helped me to promote remedies for various minor ailments before, and most of them were crap, so you’re probably thinkin’ ‘the old boy is gonna try hornswogglin’ us again,’ but this time it’s for real! I know, the other stuff we sell ain’t no better’n sugar pills an’ don’t taste near as good, but clamp yore yap on the fat end of this baby, press the li’l button on the other end, and suck for about five minutes like a whore tryin’ to get all the chrome off a trailer hitch, and yore drip’ll vanish faster’n yore dreams of a Pulitzer. For ‘bout a day, that is. I mean, if the effect were permanent, I’d hardly make money on it, an’ I mean t’have a crib in Aruba so plush that the president himself will beg me to invite him for a weekend of bunnies ’n’ coke.” He leered. “Y’all know how Prexy loves that shit, don’t ya?”
     There are no words sufficient to capture the astonishment of the assembled gentlemen of the press. They’d have been no more stunned had Godzilla crashed through wall in a tux and tails, fanned out a deck of cards, and invited them to pick one.
     A moment later they were streaming out the door, every one of them tapping furiously on his tablet or smartphone. Crandall frowned.
     “Hey, what’d I say?”
     Less than a minute later the reporters had run en masse from the room. So had all my fellow pharmacologists. Terri pulled me out to the parking lot, where every reporter I could see was talking furiously on his cell phone.
     Crandall came out behind us a minute later. His look of stunned incredulity was better than any five percent raise.

#

     Yes, Harley Crandall is a greedy bastard with the morals of a rattlesnake. Yes, he’d sell his daughters into slavery for a shot at a million-dollar haul, even at ten to one against. But he isn’t stupid. At one-twenty he bellowed at Terri and me that we no longer had jobs at CP and had better never darken his door again. By one-thirty we’d collected our belongings and were on our way back to the apartment we’d rented together at Lakeshore Vistas.
     It was far from being a sad occasion, though I didn’t realize that at first. Just the day before, Terri had learned something she hadn’t yet told me…something Crandall would learn to his sorrow, but only after we’d made the appropriate use of the information.
     He’d bought the patent on the wrong drug.

==<O>==

Copyright © 2020 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Paywalls: A Demurrer

     I’ve been asked by several Gentle Readers why there’s no way to create a regular monthly or yearly “paid subscription” to Liberty’s Torch. I received another such inquiry a few minutes ago. It’s simple: My opinions are mine alone and freely dispensed, so that’s what I charge for them. The Blogosphere started as a place of freely expressed and freely consumed material, including the sort of drivel I produce. I intend to keep my corner of it that way until I cease to write or depart from this vale of tears (whichever comes first).

     I dislike paywalls. Even on sites I enjoy and to which I’d appreciate unfettered access, I refuse to pay for it. I might be less averse to the practice were it not for two things:

  1. They’re all “auto-renew,” and many of them do it silently.
  2. Many site owners will sell their paying subscribers’ email addresses to others for the extra revenue.

     There are already many outfits selling collected email addresses to charities, businesses, scam artists, and others who hope to solicit wider attention. I refuse to abet the practice. Atop that, now that I no longer have a PayPal account – the “$2500 fine” scandal put an end to that — there’s no method by which I could reliably protect my credit card information…though in all candor I doubt I’d decide otherwise if there were.

     Fortunately (and happily), I don’t need money. As retirees go I’m well off. So Liberty’s Torch will be a place where what we produce is free to all men of good will. As for men of other than good will…I’m fairly sure they can find other sites more to their liking, and it wouldn’t take more than one visit here to send them off to find them.

“Give Me A Ho! Give Me A Hum!”

     It’s time to exercise our arithmetic skills:

     A group of two dozen Senate Republicans have signed a letter vowing to oppose any increase in the nation’s debt limit unless Congress agrees to spending cuts to help pay down the national debt.

     “We, the undersigned members of the Senate Republican Conference, write to express our outright opposition to a debt-ceiling hike without real structural spending reform that reduces deficit spending and brings fiscal sanity back to Washington,” the group, lead by Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee, wrote to President Joe Biden.

     “Our nation’s fiscal policy is a disaster,” they continued. “Our country owes $31 trillion, a level of debt that now well exceeds the size of our economy. Inflation is making life more expensive for American families every single day.”

     The lawmakers then point to policies of the Biden administration, asserting they had imposed additional, onerous burdens on Americans.

     “Americans are keenly aware that their government is not only failing to work for them — but actively working against them,” they went on. “We do not intend to vote for a debt-ceiling increase without structural reforms to address current and future fiscal realities, actually enforce the budget and spending rules on the books, and manage out-of-control government policies.”

     Two dozen, you say? Let’s see now: Is that fewer than forty? I believe so. Mind you, these days “journalists” will say “two dozen” about a group that numbers anywhere from 19 to 29, but if we count the signatures, this time it appears accurate. Of course, having signed that letter doesn’t predetermine how those Senators will vote on an eventual appropriations bill, but let’s leave that aside for the nonce. Let’s entertain some relevant questions about them instead:

  • What’s their price for yielding on the debt ceiling?
  • Have they the approval of the Republican Majority Leader?
  • Will any Republican Senator commit to voting against a debt increase?
  • Even if all 49 of them eventually do so, will it matter? What Democrats will join them?

     Naughty me, asking such pointed and potentially insulting questions of “our” “elected” “representatives!” I assure you, they just…slipped out! What a pity my backspace and delete keys are down for maintenance!

     (I seldom end every sentence in a paragraph with a “bang,” but it’s a short paragraph, and besides, it’s a day for “stepping out of one’s comfort zone.”)

     The Republican Senate caucus is heavily biased toward the political Establishment, and that Establishment loves to spend money it doesn’t have. After all, they won’t get the bill. We shall soon see whether this is merely a bit of meaningless grandstanding in the hope of preserving conservative support, or the prelude to an act in defense of the Republic. I know where I’m betting.

Feminist Tactics

     Beware, Gentle Reader. There’s one set of rules for men, and another for women:

     A Google executive claims he was booted by the tech giant for rejecting a high-ranking female colleague’s grabby advances at a posh company dinner.

     Ryan Olohan, 48, accuses Google of firing him after one its top executives, Tiffany Miller, groped him at a Chelsea restaurant in December 2019 and told him she knew he liked Asian women — which Miller is, according to a blockbuster November federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan.

     Miller, director of Google’s programmatic media, rubbed Olohan’s abs, complimented his physique, and told him her marriage lacked “spice,” according to court papers.

     The alleged hands-on encounter unfolded during a drunken company gathering at Fig & Olive on West 13th Street shortly after Olohan was promoted to managing director of food, beverages, and restaurants and joined a new management team that included Miller in Google’s Manhattan offices, according to the lawsuit….

     Olohan said he reported the issue to Google’s human resources department the following week, but nothing ever came of the complaint.

     Ah, but something did come of it, eventually:

     Olohan claims Miller began retaliating against him after he made the complaint by criticizing him and reporting him to human resources for “microaggressions,” although the complaint does not specify what Miller accused him of.

     The retaliation allegedly continued at a Google-hosted event in December 2021 where Miller drunkenly admonished Olohan in front of his colleagues. The rancor was so bad that colleagues encouraged Miller to move to the other end of the table, according to the lawsuit.

     Miller later apologized and “although Google was aware that Miller’s continued harassment of Olohan stemmed from his rejection of her sexual advances, it again took no action,” the suit claims.

     Miller drunkenly berated Olohan yet again during a company get-together at a karaoke bar in April 2022, where she mocked him upon arrival and reiterated that she knew he preferred Asian women over white women — knowing that Olohan’s wife is Asian, according to court papers.

     Given the dominance of HR departments nationwide by women – and feminist women, at that – men have no defense against this sort of assault except to avoid all women at all times. Even then, without a videorecorded biography of one’s whole life, a vindictive woman can fabricate accusations and press them home with the assistance of her sisters.

     Who was it who said “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” I’d like to buy him a drink.

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