Stop Them NOW!

     “When man believed that happiness was dependent upon God, he killed for religious reasons. When he believed that happiness was dependent upon the form of government, he killed for political reasons….After dreams that were too long, true nightmares…we arrived at the present period of history. Man woke up, discovered that which we always knew, that happiness is dependent upon health, and began to kill for therapeutic reasons….It is medicine that has come to replace both religion and politics in our time.” – Adolfo Bioy Casares

     I can’t take any more of this nonsense:

     The Well Health Safety site says:

     The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) is leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive. The WELL Health-Safety seal is awarded after an annual review of a building’s health and safety policies and protocols. Achievement of the WELL Health-Safety Rating does not guarantee that a space will be free from pathogens. Please take health and safety precautions whenever indoors by adhering to local laws and public health guidelines. If you have any questions regarding a medical condition, contact your healthcare provider. International WELL Building Institute, IWBI, the WELL Building Standard, WELL v2, WELL Certified, WELL AP, WELL Portfolio, WELL Portfolio Score, The WELL Conference, We Are WELL, the WELL Community Standard, WELL Health-Safety Rating, WELL Health-Safety Rated, WELL Workforce, WELL and others, and their related logos are trademarks or certification marks of International WELL Building Institute pbc in the United States and other countries.

     More insanity for times when you think it just can’t get any more insane.

     A systematic, utterly ruthless effort has been made to bludgeon Americans into a state of unreasoning, unremitting fear.

  • We’re being told to fear diseases with 99.8% recovery rates.
  • We’re being told to fear diseases that have no symptoms and can’t be detected.
  • We’re being told to fear completely notional diseases – i.e., diseases that don’t yet exist.
  • We’re being told to fear our neighbors, their children, our retailers, and our neighborhood public spaces.
  • We’re being told to fear living as free Americans.

     The consequences have already been horrific. Suicide rates, especially among young Americans, have skyrocketed. The economy has been staggered. There are indications that Americans’ overall mental health has taken a severe blow. And of course, the more compliance we show the Usurpers attempting to fasten this rule-by-fear upon us, the more they demand and the more they bear down.

     There’s only one way to put an end to it:

REFUSE YOUR ASSENT.
DO NOT COMPLY.

     Our beloved Linda Fox has shown us the way. Follow the path she lights. Let today begin your resurrection, as tomorrow commemorates His.

     See also this Baseline Essay. And live freely, as an American should.

“It Is Finished”

     The coverage is extensive and multiply confirmed:

     Yet even today, two millennia after the event which transformed all of existence both natural and supernatural, men ask what He meant by that.

     Perhaps it’s simpler than we think. Perhaps it means only that, as He told His Apostles at the Last Supper, He died for the remission of our sins…and that part of His mission among men was over at last.

     And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body.
     And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.
     And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.

     [Matthew 26:26-29, Douay-Rheims translation]

     Perhaps the simplicity of it is essentially protective: an indirect prohibition against suicide. For if you believe in Him and accept His commandments, you will share in His Resurrection to eternal bliss.

     WAIT! Don’t kill yourself.

     You see, there’s still work to be done here on Earth. Some of that work is yours.

     Today, Holy Saturday, is a day of vigil. Of the Easter Triduum, it’s the least discussed or appreciated. Yet it was as important as the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Though His mortal body lay motionless in a tomb hewn from the rock of Judea, He did not lie idle. Neither should we.

     Watch, work…and hope.

Dear God! WHEN Will This End?

I’ve been tired of this COVID Theatre for some time (Yes, the British spelling was intentional – this is a High Theatre Production).

So are many, and the numbers in favor of ending it are growing.

“For countless unremarkable people, being a COVID hall monitor has provided a sense of superiority and importance. They will miss scolding their maskless neighbors. They have come to love the fear. Ironically, or perhaps not, those who ostensibly fear coronavirus the most seem most loath to lose it.”

Love that phrase – COVID Hall Monitor!

The “Vaccination Passport” was the last straw – as if the installation of a “pResident” wasn’t enough reason, all by itself.

I WILL NOT carry one, nor use one to go about my daily activities. If stopped, and threatened with arrest, I will go to jail.

I WILL NOT comply with directives to comply with UnAmerican Orders.

I WILL NOT be a part of this idiocy, nor will I dignify with respect those who do comply, or who order others to obey, or else.

It’s time for some UnCivil Resistance.

Standards

     First up today, courtesy of Mike Miles at 90 Miles From Tyranny, an indispensable quote from the indispensable Thomas Sowell:

     Now, a few words from Ksenya Aleksandrova at Chicks on the Right:

     I see that the ugly lies that math, timeliness, and successful life habits are systems of racism and whiteness are circulating again, so I just want to clear some things up…If you think your black neighbors and friends are incapable of doing math, being on time, or being successful in life, YOU are racist. Moreover, if you don’t actually know any black people, and you think you’re helping the hypothetical black teen by working to rid their lives of standards, you’re dumb as hell and your bigotry is showing.

     And third (and probably surprisingly for this subject), a snippet from John Ringo’s novel of Mankind at war, The Hot Gate:

     “We both know the agendas here are so much show,” Tyler Vernon said mildly. “You’re not here about the faults in the One Forty-Three because you know damned well it’s a maintenance issue.”
     “That is—” Dr. Barreiro said angrily.
     “SHUT YOUR STUPID MOUTH!” Tyler shouted. “Just shut your idiotic pie hole!”
     “This has gone far enough,,” Dr. Werden said, standing up.
     “Oh, has it?” Tyler said mildly. He opened up the folder and started tossing thick chunks of paper to the various other attendees. “This is not the agenda for the meeting either. This is the reason the agendas for all the rest of the meetings have been cancelled.”
     Dr. Barreiro looked at the title of the stack of the paper and blanched.
     “Simply because you have a personal relationship—” Dr. Werden said.
     “It’s not about Comet Parker, either, gentlemen,” Tyler said furiously. “This is the agenda for the meeting. Your countries have impugned my company. You have repeatedly cast aspersions upon our products and you have accused us of deliberately killing your people. You have accused me of killing your sons! And when I found these and started reading them, what became obvious was that the reason your sons were dead was that your governments, you gentlemen, personally, had deliberately interfered in normal and necessary processes related to ensuring the maintenance of ships and the training of their crews!”
     “Our culture is not one in which—”
     “I SAID SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE!” Tyler screamed. He suddenly stood up, picked up the station chair and threw it against the bulkhead. Then he picked it up and banged it on the table until it broke.
     “You want something from me!” Tyler said, squaring his hands on the table and sticking his face into Dr. Barreiro’s. That is why you are here! And now I find out that you have been deliberately sabotaging my equipment? You want to talk about honor? That is MY honor you have been raking in the mud! And you want me to do something for you?
     He grabbed another chair and sat down, leaning forward.
     “Everyone wants to talk about culture,” Tyler said coldly. “How we have to understand your culture. Nobody ever seems to wonder if I have a culture. What my culture is about.”

     [Boldface emphasis added by FWP.]

     Tyler Vernon, the space-age entrepreneur who has almost singlehandedly created the defenses that have allowed Earth to withstand repeated subjugation attempts by conquest-minded alien races, is “having a moment.” Barreiro and Werden, two South American “diplomats,” have been “playing the culture card” in an attempt to exculpate their sons, and the sons of other South American elites, from failing to perform the duties required of them in maintaining highly advanced spacecraft. As you can see from the snippet, Vernon has had enough.

     The South Americans want the prestige of having representation in Earth’s all-important space defense forces – which are dominated, of course, by Americans. Moreover, they want that representation to be the progeny of their elites: their nations’ wealthy, propertied, ruling classes. But when asked to do actual work? Performed under the supervision of a gringa? Impossible! Unthinkable! “Our culture is not one in which such things are done!” To require those selfsame sons of privilege to meet the standards the norteamericanos are required to meet would be a grotesque insult. “You may not disrespect our culture that way!”

     Is there a word for the fear of logic? If so, it probably has six or seven syllables and a mixture of Greek, Latin, and Elvish roots. But what of that?


     Standards don’t spring from the brow of Zeus. They arise from the need for something to be done a certain way to achieve a particular, well-defined effect. To form a comprehensible sentence, an absolute requirement for communication in a commercial environment, one must meet the standards of the language in use. To balance a checkbook, one must meet the standards of simple arithmetic. There is no cultural component to these things; there are only necessities and the standards they dictate.

     The South Americans in the segment from The Hot Gate want the prestige of participation in Earth’s space defenses without meeting the standards those defenses impose upon those who labor in them. This is plainly impossible. It gets people killed. Worse, it subjects all of Mankind to a heightened possibility of conquest. But elites will behave as elites have always behaved: i.e., as if the standards the hoi polloi must meet are irrelevant to them. So they wield their “culture” as a shield behind which to hide an assumption of privileges to which no one else is entitled.

     The same thing is going on in present-day, real-world America…but the shield isn’t “culture” but race. Black racialist hucksters demand that American black youths not be held to the standards whites and Asians must meet, civically and educationally. A lot of whites are aiding them. There is no possible way this could work out to anyone’s benefit, but to say so immediately provokes castigation as a “racist.”

     If there are standards for attaining a particular reward – e.g., a diploma, a degree, or a salary – then all must meet them. Contrapositively, if some need not meet them but are granted the reward anyway, then there are no standards. It cannot be made simpler than that.

     The undiscussed possibility – except among us “racists,” of course – is that a hefty percentage of black youths cannot meet the standards observed by the dominant American culture. That’s the white, European-derived, Christian Enlightenment culture. Suggest that to any of the racialist hucksters and he’ll probably attack you on the spot. Yet it is difficult to dismiss the possibility that some of them, at least, suspect it themselves…and fear that it might become generally known.

     I can say only one thing with certainty: No matter what the context, you cannot have both a standard and a privileged group absolved from meeting it. It will litter the American landscape with corpses. Indeed, it has already begun to do so. Protests from the bien-pensants that “we couldn’t have known it would turn out this way” will be to no avail.

     Have a little Ayn Rand to close:

     “Senor d’Anconia,” declared the woman with the earrings, “I don’t agree with you!”
     “If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, madame, I shall hear it gratefully.”
     “Oh, I can’t answer you. I don’t have any answers, my mind doesn’t work that way, but I don’t feel that you’re right, so I know that you’re wrong.”
     “How do you know it?”
     “I feel it. I don’t go by my head, but by my heart. You might be good at logic, but you’re heartless.”
     “Madame, when we’ll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won’t be of any earthly use to save them. And I’m heartless enough to say that when you’ll scream, ‘But I didn’t know it!’—you will not be forgiven.”

     The rest is silence.

In Need Of A Title

     [A short story for you. One of my irritations as a fiction writer is a huge collection of Supporting Cast characters that sporadically demand to be given Marquee status in tales of their own. That’s the case with the co-protagonists of the tale below. One appears in my novel Polymath. The other appears in the more recent Antiquities. If you can think of a decent title for this short story, please put it in the comments. – FWP]

***

     On the evening of his forty-eighth birthday, Loren Eisenbud couldn’t compel himself to stay home. His mood was too good, his house was too empty, and his impulse to celebrate was too richly fueled. However, he wasn’t interested in dining alone, and Onteora County didn’t offer a wide choice of weeknight entertainments to an unaccompanied man. So, shortly after he’d returned home from his job interview, he shed his suit and tie, donned a clean sweatshirt and jeans, loosed his ponytail and brushed out his long gray hair, and headed to the Black Grape for a celebratory stein. Perhaps two.
     Unsurprisingly for six PM on a Monday evening, the big tavern was very lightly populated. No one was seated around the bar. Two customers were playing the bowling machine. Two were throwing darts in the back. One was peering into the juke box. The bartender, a large, ruggedly built man he knew only as Brad, was desultorily polishing glassware and peering now and then at the others as if hoping to prompt an order.
     Loren seated himself at the end of the bar nearest the kitchen. “Evenin’, Brad.”
     The bartender smiled. “And to you, Loren. What’ll it be this evening?”
     “Your coldest Bud in your frostiest mug, if you please.”
     “Coming right up.” The bartender drew a long-necked bottle from the fridge and opened it, plucked a mug from under the bar, poured the beer into it and presented it to Loren with a flourish. Loren passed a twenty across the bar, saluted the bartender with the mug, and sipped. “Thanks, Brad. Slow night?”
     The bartender shrugged. “It’s a Monday. I’ve never had a busy one.”
     “Well, you know what they say,” Loren said. “‘Work is the curse—”
     “‘Of the drinking class,’” the bartender finished.”
     “Yeah.” Loren sipped again. “Someday I’ve got to look up this ‘they’ guy and buy him a round.”
     “What if he’s soused already?” the bartender said.
     Loren shrugged. “Then I’ll give him a ride home.”
     “So what brings you out on a Monday? You’re not here that often even on weekends.”
     Loren started to speak of his job interview at Arcologics, but stopped himself.
     “Mostly just feeling good, wanted a little company.”
     The bartender smirked. “Very little, if this is enough.”
     Loren shrugged. “It’ll do.”
     They were still bantering when an unaccompanied woman came through the swinging inner door of the tavern. She immediately had Loren’s attention.
     From her cream skirt suit, her mid-heeled pumps, and her carriage, he guessed her to be middle aged, within a few years of his own age. The years did not lie heavily upon her. Few lines were visible in her face, though her makeup might have had something to do with that. She had a beautiful figure that she’d clearly taken care to maintain. Her shoulder-length blonde hair showed no signs of discoloration or brittleness.
     Mid-life beauty. The hardest kind to maintain. The kind that sooner or later slips away from you no matter how hard you try to keep it.
     He started to return his gaze to his mug. She surprised him by taking the stool next to him. He smiled formally at her.
     “Good evening, Miss.”
     She returned the smile. “Good evening, and to you, Brad. May I have a Sea Breeze, please?”
     “Coming up.” The bartender set to the task.
     She offered Loren her hand. “Sylvie.”
     He took it and shook it gently. “Loren. Having a pleasant evening?”
     Her lips compressed briefly. “No disasters so far. Yourself?”
     “About the same.” The bartender set a Sea Breeze before her. She saluted him with it, and he retreated to the middle of the bar. Loren returned his attention to his mug.
     “What brings you out tonight, Loren?”
     “Hm? Oh, just wanted to be around other people for an hour or two.”
     “Do you live alone?”
     He nodded.
     “So do I,” she said. “Peaceful, but boring.”
     He smirked. “It can be, yes. Are you just home from work?”
     She nodded. “Lawyer. What about you?”
     “I’m a maintenance man at SUC Onteora. Janitorial work mostly, though not today.”
     “Ah. What was special about today?”
     He grinned. “Birthday number forty-eight.”
     “Oh!” She extended her hand again, and he clasped it softly. “Many happy returns!”
     “Thank you.”
     He thought the conversation would lapse at that point. He had little to say to anyone. He couldn’t talk about his researches, and he knew nothing about the world of law and lawyers. He couldn’t expect her to take an interest in the day-to-day life of a janitor.
     “Loren?” she said.
     “Hm? Yes, Sylvie?”
     “Were you ever a rock musician?”
     It startled him. “Yes, I was, a couple of decades back.” He grinned. “What tipped you off?”
     “Your hair,” she said. “You’ve got rock-and-roll hair. Were you a member of a group?”
     He nodded. “We called ourselves Dreamcastle.”
     “What kind of music?”
     “Prog-rock. You probably wouldn’t have heard of us, though. We didn’t really make it.”
     Once again, he expected the conversation to lapse, but she was plainly determined to keep it alive.
     “What’s prog-rock?”
     He started to explain, but she held up a hand, and he halted. Her expression had acquired a tinge of resignation.
     “Forgive me, Loren,” she said. “I can tell you’re not into this.”
     It sent a pang through him. “Why do you say so?”
     “Well,” she said, “you’re not holding up your end.”
     “Of the conversation, you mean?”
     She nodded.
     He winced.
     “Actually, Sylvie, I am ‘into this.’ I’d like to keep it going. It’s just that I don’t have a lot to talk about. Very little that a beautiful professional woman would find interesting.”
     She smiled gently, ruefully.
     “You might be surprised, but let it go. What do brand new acquaintances usually talk about?”
     He shrugged. “Sports? Politics?”
     “Stuff that doesn’t interest you?”
     “Not very much. Sports are just time-killers, and as for politics…well, if I thought any power on Earth could change it…” He shook his head.
     She chuckled. “Well, then I have a suggestion.”
     “Hm?”
     She drained her Sea Breeze, set the glass down on the bar, and faced him squarely.
     “You finish your beer,” she said softly, “and then we’ll go to your place, where I can get to know you better. Maybe you can show me what prog-rock is instead of trying to explain it in words.”
     He peered at her. “Are you sure about that, Sylvie?”
     She nodded, apparently perfectly serious.
     He glanced at furtively Brad. The bartender showed no sign of having noticed.
     He did as she’d requested.

#

     Loren strove to retain his sangfroid as he fumbled through his fistful of keys for the one to the front door of his Oakleigh bungalow. Sylvie stood just behind him, perfectly silent. He sensed that something for which he was unprepared was in motion. It had started at the Black Grape. It reached its zenith as Sylvie pulled her Mercedes sports car into his driveway and parked it behind his little Hyundai.
     It’s been a long time since I last saw a Mercedes anywhere in Oakleigh. Looks pretty odd next to my econobox.
     Why is she doing this?
     Why am I?

     It was massively unlikely that Sylvie was there for an education in progressive rock. Yet apart from their two handshakes, she hadn’t even tried to touch him. Despite her unusual friendliness and her obvious attractions, he hadn’t even imagined putting a move on her. The two of them lived in wholly different worlds.
     I suppose high-status women get itches they need scratched just as often as do we of the hoi-polloi. But why a working-class hangout like the Grape? And why me?
     He found the key, slipped it into the deadbolt lock, and twisted. The door swung smoothly open. He turned to his unexpected guest, smiled at her through the early evening gloom, and gestured that she should enter. She smiled in response, preceded him into the little foyer, and turned to face him.
     “Welcome to where I lay my weary head,” he said.
     “Thank you, Loren,” she said. “It looks comfortable.”
     “May I get you anything? I’m afraid I don’t have the fixings for a Sea Breeze.”
     “That’s all right. Do you have white wine?”
     “But of course, my dear. This is New York. Would a dry Riesling suit you?” She nodded. He led her into his little living room, lit the overhead lights and set them to half intensity, and bade her be seated on the sofa as he went to his kitchen. A few minutes later he returned with two stemmed glasses, a bottle of Riesling, and a plate of sliced cheese and crackers. Sylvie’s eyebrows rose in pleased surprise as he set it all down on his little coffee table and filled their glasses.
     “Well!” she said. “Very nice, Loren. Do you entertain often?”
     He chuckled. “Hardly ever. You’re my first guest in a long time, in fact. But I know how to do the basics, I’m usually prepared for them, and I don’t stint them when the occasion warrants.” He hoisted his wine glass. “To your health.”
     “And to yours,” she answered. They clinked and sipped.
     “So,” he said, as he turned to look directly at her, “what would you like to know about me?”
     Her expression became curiously serious.
     “Everything, dear. Absolutely everything.”

#

     Loren would never forget the strangeness of the two hours that followed. He took her invitation at face value and talked about himself: his work, his pastimes, his entertainments, his years as a performer, all of it. He even said a little about his researches into unusually compelling combinations of light and sound rhythms. He never felt the least inclination to shade the truth or censor himself.
     Sylvie listened for two hours without saying a word. Her eyes never left his face. Her attention seemed absolute and complete. She remained riveted until, having edged too close to matters he felt he could not disclose, he forced himself to cease.
     He felt his face reddening in the sudden silence. She smiled gently.
     “Thank you, Loren.”
     “But for what?” he said.
     “Trusting me with all that.”
     He frowned. “A lot of boring personal crap about the life and times of a janitor and failed musician.”
     She shook her head. “Not boring, dear. Not to me.”
     He took a moment to gather himself.
     “How could that be?”
     Her eyes twinkled. “I did mention that I’m a lawyer, didn’t I?” He nodded. “Well, what do you think my life is like?”
     “I haven’t any idea, Sylvie,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me?”
     Her lips compressed momentarily.
     “I’m an associate in a large firm in Ithaca,” she said. “I spend three-quarters of my work day listening to other people lie. People who want something, usually something they’re not entitled to. People who want a lawyer’s help getting it. If you think your little soliloquy was boring, imagine…well, just imagine.”
     “That’s your whole day?” he murmured.
     She nodded. “That, some drafting, a little record-keeping and organizing, and deciding whether to send a potential client upstream to one of the partners.”
     And she has to sit and listen. Just listen.
     “Surprised, Loren?”
     “Hell, yeah. It doesn’t sound like interesting work.”
     “Most legal practice isn’t. But both my parents were lawyers, so I knew fairly well what I was getting into.”
     “Still,” he said, “what made you want to hear about my comings and goings? Don’t you spend enough of your life listening to other people’s monotonous garbage?”
     “Yes, Loren, I do.” To his surprise, she reached for his hand. “But not nearly enough talking to people who won’t lie to me.” She held up her left hand. “Notice anything?”
     “Yeah. No wedding ring.”
     “Why do you think that is?”
     He started to answer, halted himself.
     Beautiful, immaculately groomed, obviously well off and from a well-off family. Major hottie in every way. Yet she came straight from her office to a working-class bar and picked up a janitor. What’s the catch?
     “I’m not going to guess, Sylvie,” he said at last.
     She smiled sadly. “What do you think it’s like to be lied to all day? What do you think the effect on the lawyer is, after ten or fifteen years of that?”
     His chest tightened. He willed her to continue.
     “A lot of us,” she said after a moment, “stop believing that there are any honest men. That there’s any such thing as truth. A lot of us become dishonest ourselves. It’s a problem for the whole profession, and judging by the state of the courts and the law, it’s having a terrible effect.
     “I reached my limit today. Most days, I’d have stayed in the office until eight or nine. I have no one to go home to, so why not put in the time and make a few more bucks? But today I’d had enough. I needed some truth. The company of someone, anyone who wouldn’t lie to me. So at four I bagged it and headed out.
     “I went to the Grape on impulse. Tonight wasn’t the first time. But always before, just about as soon as I arrived, men would start trying to pick me up. I understand it. There are a lot of lonely men out there, and a lot of them spend their evenings in places like the Grape. When an attractive woman wanders in alone, some of them will think what the hell, why not take a shot? But I wasn’t looking for sex. I certainly wasn’t going to give it to a man who’d lie to me to get it, and most men do.
     “When you saw me walk in there this evening, you looked me up and down. It didn’t offend me. It’s natural. But you surprised me by turning away. I could tell that you had no plans to make a move, even though I was the only woman in the place and you were alone at the bar. There was something promising in that, so I perched myself next to you and chatted you up, and with every word out of your mouth I got more hopeful that I’d encountered someone who wouldn’t lie to me. Someone who lives in reality and accepts it for what it is, including the realities about himself. So I picked you up and induced you to take me home, because I wanted more of it.” She caressed his hand. “Does that sound just too pathetic?”
     “No,” he whispered. “Not at all. But what now?”
     She fixed her eyes upon his.
     “Anything you want, Loren. Anything at all, for as long as you want it.”
     He forced calm upon himself, thought for a long moment, and smiled.
     “I think what I want,” he said, “is to take you to dinner. Have you had dinner?” he said.
     “No…”
     “Well, would you care to join me?”
#

     Sylvie offered Loren the keys to her Mercedes without being asked. It was an unexpected challenge to get into the low-slung sports car, but once inside he found the driving position perfectly comfortable. It surprised him to discover that she’d chosen a car with a manual transmission, and pleased him that he hadn’t lost the skill of driving one.
     He piloted the muscular machine into the city of Onteora at a controlled, always legal speed. Sylvie sat in the passenger seat with her purse in her lap, composed but silent.
     The parking lot at Costigan’s Pub was thinly populated. He chose a space and parked, killed the engine, and turned to her.
     “Have you eaten here before?” he said.
     She shook her head. “I assume the food is edible.”
     “Oh, better than that. Mike and Pat hired a good cook, and he uses only good ingredients.” He circled the car, opened her door, and helped her out. “The dishes may be unexciting, but the food is always first-rate.”
     There were few patrons inside, all seated at the bar. Loren directed her to a booth, seated himself, and signaled for a waiter. Pat Costigan came out from behind the bar to attend them.
     “Good evening, Loren, Miss. Do you have a craving for anything specific, or should I fetch menus?”
     Loren looked a question at Sylvie. She smiled. “You order for both of us.”
     “Well, Pat,” he said, “under normal circumstances I’d ask for my usual, but as I’m in company this evening, and very charming company at that, I think I’ll have a chicken pot pie. Would that suit you, Sylvie?”
     “I’m sure that will be fine.”
     “Very good,” Costigan said. “Anything to drink?”
     “Cobblers for both of us,” Loren said.
     “So let it be written,” Costigan said, “so let it be done. Back shortly, folks.” He disappeared through the swinging doors to the kitchen.
     “I have to ask, you know,” Sylvie said. “What’s your ‘usual?’”
     He grinned. “A bacon cheeseburger.”
     “Well, if that’s what you wanted, why not have one?”
     “Because the hamburgers here are juicy. Really juicy. And if I were to get any of that juice on my shirt…or worse, on you…I think I’d die. I’d certainly want to.”
     “Oh.” She looked down at her blouse and suit jacket. “Considerate. Thank you.”
     “Think nothing of it. And with that,” he said, “your turn has come. Let me have all the details of your life. Omit nothing, however scandalous.”
     She grinned. “Okay.”
     Pat Costigan arrived with their dinners.

#

     As he’d requested, Sylvie told him about everything. She spoke of her high school years, carefree and filled with adolescent pleasures. Then came four years at SUC Onteora and a young man she’d met there and loved, but whom her parents had disapproved. After college came law school, again by her father’s decree, then the bar exam, and a brief interval dithering over what to do next.
     Her father greased her entry into the legal profession. He called upon his circle of acquaintances, most of whom owed him favors, and secured her a place at Weems, Farkas in Ithaca. After fourteen years of unending tedium, sixty-hour weeks punctuated solely by eighty-hour weeks, she’d risen to senior associate, but her prospects for becoming a partner appeared slim.
     She had no siblings. She had never married. Her parents were both dead. Since their passing, there’d been no one who’d mattered to her.
     It was a depressing recitation. Loren struggled to maintain a bland expression as he listened. When she’d run down, he found himself without anything to say.
     He fell back on what seemed to him the emptiest, most banal of responses. Yet it was all that honesty would permit.
     “Thank you, Sylvie.”
     She smiled faintly. “But for what?”
     He drew a deep breath.
     “For letting me see all that sadness.”
     She nodded and looked away.
     “Sylvie?”
     “Hm?”
     “Did it help?”
     She peered at him. “What do you mean?”
     “I mean,” he said, “how do you feel right now? Did getting it out lighten the load at all, or does it weigh you down just as much as before we met?”
     She was slow to answer.
     “It did help some,” she said. “I’ve got to say, though, I didn’t expect that it would.”
     “Then why tell me all that?”
     She shrugged gently. “I just figured I owed you, after everything you’ve told me about your life.”
     “You didn’t.” He reached across the table and took her hand. “You don’t owe me anything. It’s been a pleasure listening to you and getting to know you. I’m very glad we met.”
     Animation flowed into her face. Her hand tightened on his.
     “I don’t get it, Loren,” she said. “Where was the pleasure in that?”
     He took a moment to organize his thoughts.
     “First,” he said, “there’s what you said a while back. There are a lot of lonely people in the world. I’m one of them. I was in the Grape to be around other people, even if they’re people I don’t know and have nothing in common with. So I’m grateful for your company and your conversation.
     “Second, there’s your interest in me. You’ve got to be interested in someone to spend so much time listening to him and talking to him. Lonely people need that kind of affirmation, especially if it comes with a possibility of being less lonely in the future.
     “But third—and this is the Ace kicker—there’s your honesty. Yes, you’re lonely and sad, and that’s not often a basis for a stirring conversation. Still, a lot of women would never dream of letting any of that show. Especially women of your status. But you gave it to me freely. I loved it. I wallowed in it. I’m more grateful for it than I can say.
     “A lot of men would look at you and figure ‘beautiful rich chick, not a care in the world, got the world by the tail.’ I might have thought that if, when you walked into the Grape, you’d just sat by yourself, had a couple, and headed out. Instead you gave me a gift I could never have expected. An intimacy I’ve never had with a woman before, much less with a brand new acquaintance. What tipped you off that I would react this way?”
     “I don’t know,” she said. “There wasn’t anything specific. I just had a feeling.”
     “Well, your feeling was right.” He caressed her hand. “Did you enjoy your chicken pot pie?”
     She appeared momentarily confused. “Yes, I did. And that nice drink you ordered for me, too. What did you call it?”
     “A Cobbler. So what now?”
     “Hm?”
     “What would you like to do?” He grinned. “Have you had enough seeing and being seen with Onteora’s jet set, or are you still rarin’ to go? I’ve got to tell you,” he said, “I don’t know of much we could do this late on a Monday night that’s fun. Unless you bowl?”
     She chuckled. “No, I can hardly even lift the ball.”
     “Well, so much for that, then.”
     Pat Costigan ambled by, laid the check on the table, and silently departed. Loren glanced at it, pulled two twenties out of his wallet, laid them on the check, and sat back.
     Sylvie looked at him curiously.
     “Something wrong, Sylvie?”
     An unreadable current crossed her face.
     “There is one fun activity that comes to mind,” she said.
     “Ah. I think I know which one you mean.”
     “I was wondering if it would occur to you. Well?”
     “Can you stand one more disclosure, Syl?”
     She nodded.
     “It’s been a long time.”
     “Oh? How long?”
     “Fifteen years. Pretty soon it’ll be sixteen.”
     Her naughty smirk surprised him. “Got you beat!”
     He gaped at her. “Hm? Really?”
     “And for true.” Her eyes twinkled. “Think you remember the moves?”
     He rose, stepped out of the booth, and offered her his hand. She rose and took it.
     “If not,” he said, “I’ll fake it.”
     They left.

==<O>==

Copyright © 2021 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Two From Bookworm

     Our favorite Bookworm has one of her illustrated editions posted this morning. I snagged two items as particularly relevant to a phenomenon I’ve known about for some time, but which other people have a hard time digesting. Here they are:

     Let’s overlook, just for the moment, that any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch can and will easily grasp the import of the numbers in those two graphics. Rather, let’s reflect on the huge number of people who’ll look at those numbers and utterly fail to understand them. You can trust me on this one, friends: upon confronting those graphics, the great majority of Americans would simply scratch their heads and say “So what?”

     The problem isn’t stupidity. Neither is it ignorance. It’s a far simpler thing:

Most people can’t grasp the import of numbers that fall far outside the range of normal human experience.

     Our lives are lived within a relatively narrow numerical range: countable objects that have perceptible dimensions. We have a feel for those numbers. We lack such a feel for the much larger or the much smaller. It’s what makes the probabilities in the graphics above difficult for most people to appreciate.

     Astronomers have that problem too. We don’t use the units that apply to terrestrial distances when speaking of the distances between the planets, or the spaces between the stars. We use units that bring the numbers attached to them into our comfort zones: AUs and parsecs. Those “oversized” units wouldn’t fit anything in normal, terrestrial life, but they’re eminently suitable to astronomical operations.

     They who study the very small use special units as well: the Angstrom (Å) and the Electron Volt (eV) are two examples. Indeed, even in the realm of the relatively small, such as genetic studies, we use units normal people doing normal things would not grasp: the micrometer (μm) and microgram (μg) being the most relevant. The point, as previously, is to bring the numbers attached to those units into the realm of the easily grasped and manipulated.

     This is something to keep in mind whenever you seek to introduce very large or very small numbers into an argument.

***

     Consider an argument about automobile safety that I encountered long ago: the probability that some individual American will die in an auto accident. Back then, there were about 50,000 road deaths in an average year. That number has considerable emotional impact – My God! 50,000 corpses per year! — but just how threatening is it to the average commuter?

     A little arithmetic changes the picture from one that looks like an undertaker’s dream to something the ordinary American driver can – and does – tolerate. Let the total population of the U.S. be set at 250,000,000, just for round number convenience. In a given year, of 50,000 of those Americans will die in a road accident, that’s 50,000 / 250,000,000 == .0005 or 0.05% of the population. In other words, 99.95% of all Americans will escape death by auto that year. (Something else might get you, but that’s for another day.) That should make the average guy feel pretty safe, no?

     Well, maybe and maybe not. A lot of people have difficulty with percentages of that sort. Also, there are always custard-heads out there who’ll say something stupid such as “Yes, but the probability of dying from AIDS is 100% if you catch it!” So I did a little more figuring, based on the average number of miles driven per American per year, and it worked out that John Q. Public, to have an even-money chance (probability 0.50) of dying in a road accident, would have to drive 47,000,000 miles: nearly 2000 times around the world at the equator.

     The busiest salesman I’ve ever known didn’t quite log 10,000,000 miles over a fifty-year career…and he did almost all of that by air. Stretches the mind, doesn’t it?

***

     I wrote the above partly for your amusement, but also for your perspective. To reach the average person with an important fact, you have to bring any figures important to it into the realm with which he’s comfortable. Numbers with a lot of digits, whether before of after the decimal point, usually don’t qualify. They might seem comprehensible to you, you bulging egghead, you, but the person to whom you’re talking might not share your perspective. Indeed, he probably doesn’t and never will.

     Just a few thoughts for your Holy Thursday morning.

Yet Another Bridges & Roads Project

Well, by now, we should know that that means.

Forget the fact that this is Yet Another Bridges & Roads Project (YABARP). Forget that, even for a Make-Work project, this contains a LOT of unrelated pork – the link above has a short list of SOME of them.

Remember back just a few years ago? When the Wonder-Worker, the Light-Bringer, rammed his “shovel-ready” bill, containing pork galore for the unions, state governments (particularly those with padded payrolls and massive over-spending), and corporate interests?

Yeah, we do, too. $800 Billion – that was before politicians discovered the magic of the T in front of the price. Here’s a breakdown of where the money went.

A substantial part of that money, meant to go to teachers, instead went to paying women – both White and Black women, but mostly White – to NOT teach.

That’s right.

They were paid NOT to teach. You see, they were “education experts” who kept us in after-school meetings (SO many meetings), and led us through “Delphi Method” pseudo-participation meetings, until we “came to the realization” that the problem of students failures were “systemic” in nature, and therefore, students needed to become aware of their victimization by American society, so that, after “empowering” themselves, they would FINALLY and with no effort start learning.

I’m not kidding – that was the essence of it.

They sweetened the deal for teachers, generally, by paying them their hourly rate for not teaching. And, said nothing when many people (mostly Black women) whipped out their phones and ignored the whole thing.

God help the White Person who felt entitled to display their contempt for the process!

That was around 2009. But, the process had started earlier. In the 2008-2009 school year, under the direction of a “Progressive” principal and leadership team, we saw an already troubled school, in a poorly performing system, just about completely collapse – in one year.

Honestly, I don’t know what happened after that year – I found another job, and left. I do know that several of the teachers were so demoralized they acted like whipped dogs – cowering, doing any silly thing their master barked out, a shell of their former self.

The advantage I and my husband had was that we taught science, in a region of the country that had many districts short of certified instructors. It made it relatively easy to leave and find another job.

There were still meetings at the new school, and several after. By then, the SJW bandwagon had extended their tentacles deep into the education establishment, which their firm conviction that there are NO failing students, just a school system that WANTS them to fail.

Don’t ask me about that twisted reasoning. I don’t understand it either.

The greedy recipients of this next anticipated windfall can’t wait. The states cannot possibly make up the shortfalls without assistance, unless they commit an unthinkable act – get rid of the highly paid Leftists in government work. (Amazingly, the Leftists are ALWAYS the highest paid in any organization).

When business encounters a shortage of money, they take action to pare any unnecessary costs – and that usually means people who aren’t contributing to the bottom line.

When the government encounters a shortage of money, they ALSO take action – to raise taxes (a bad move when the taxpayers are already having trouble meeting their obligations). Or, for the federal government, go into debt.

Debt, for the government, is an addiction. Only state constitutions requiring a balanced budget prevent it in most states. Expect amendments to those constitutions, to permit long term debt, to be the next step for any state that is stupid enough to elect the Left.

Why Dwell on Past Issues?

Because the Past is Never Truly Dead.

https://www.facebook.com/lindaf3/posts/10158208599059542

I lived through that era. My feeling about the more violent protesters, at that ignorant age, was “Well, sure, they committed crimes, but…”

Like many, I tried to justify much of the early protests as being driven by ‘good intentions’ (and, we all know where that leads, don’t we?). My parents were more concerned about the damage such ideologically-driven zealots were causing to communities – both the physical infrastructure, and the damage to the relationships/culture.

They could see what I could not – that fear of violent crime would drive out those who had greater mobility – which, it did. Later housing developments – many were designed to lure the BUPPIES (Black, Upwardly-Mobile Professionals) into sinking roots in the communities, and working to stabilize and restore the communities.

Didn’t work. Oh, sure, there are isolated areas of better-maintained housing (usually patrolled and gated communities). But that didn’t solve the problems.

It wasn’t the physical community that needed to be restored. It was the soul of the community. It was a commitment to raising children in stable homes (either a married couple, or a parent that would put aside their own life for their children.

It was sizing up the neighborhood, and, if necessary, doing whatever it took to get out of there, if it contained too many of those following questionable lives.

Generally, that took some cash. Hard to get, legally, if you don’t have reliable child care – ALL day care. Head Start doesn’t count – the hours are short.

So. My suggestion is: scrap Head Start. Give some federal/state grants to provide DAY CARE in those spaces, but ONLY to those parents who are FULL-TIME in either a job, or a program to prepare them for one.

No college majors that aren’t likely to lead to a job in the next 2-4 years. Preference for those in apprenticeship programs.

Attendance year-round, which means that those in an educational program need to find summer school to reduce the years they spend in school.

Periodic reports from teachers, and grade reports submitted, along with VERIFIED tutoring, if necessary. If they aren’t making at LEAST a B average by the end of their first year, they should be on probation.

Same with apprenticeships – periodic reports on their progress, and their work performance.

Those working have to work with budget counselors and career advisors (who will BOTH assist them in meeting performance standards, and help them find additional training/coursework to improve their value to the company).

The goal is Up and Out. Bring their lives Up, and Get them the hell Out of that situation.

And, in other news:

Jewish Student at Vanderbilt, running for student office, is vilified as a Jew, Hitler, and White Supremacist.

It’s a horrible story. The kid, Jordan, apparently did everything right. He was a not-rich student, who worked hard to assist other students with financial challenges.

And, when the Left decided to villainize him, Vanderbilt gave NO help to him, and, in fact, joined in the pile-on.

He dropped out of the race (can’t fault him for that – it must have taken a toll on his very soul).

But, his conclusion is to explain what happened, and how unjust it was, as a way of ‘raising awareness’ of the situation. Because, those who learn the truth of the matter will obviously straighten this out, right? (Isn’t that what Jews in Nazi Germany and Communist USSR told themselves?).

Wrong. They knew. They didn’t care. In the immortal words of Harry Reid, “It worked, didn’t it?”

Kid, a lawsuit is the only correct response. Make them PAY for this, and make it HURT.

Settle for enough money for ALL your tuition and expenses, as well as a hefty chunk to compensate for emotional and mental damage from their vile actions.

Sue the university, the individuals for their actions/failure to follow school guidelines, and even those individuals – AND their organizations – that lead the pile-on.

Make it hurt. Have no mercy. No apologies accepted without some Large Green attached.

In other news, the Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is still getting the Left’s knickers in a twist. I like the term she used – Corporate Communism – to describe the tactic of using ‘private’ industry to enforce the desires of the Elite. Someone might want to add that term to the Urban Dictionary (it won’t last long, but we can enjoy enraging the LeftStapo while it does).

On Writing As An Avocation

     avocation n: something a person does in addition to a principal occupation, especially for pleasure; hobby: “The doctor’s avocation is painting.”
     Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of…but do it in private and wash your hands afterward. – Robert A. Heinlein

     I retired from engineering in 2015, which freed me to drive needles into my eyes write full-time, something I’d been anticipating with…well, if not pleasure, at least a degree of satisfaction. I didn’t expect to make a huge amount of money from my fiction. There were already tens of thousands of indie writers screaming for attention. I had no reason to think I would stand out from that crowd so boldly that readers would take special notice of my books. But I wanted to write full-time, and I did and have continued to do so.

     My expectations have been verified in all particulars. I have a readership, but it’s not particularly large. I make a little money from the sale of my novels, but not nearly enough to support even a modest existence. But I still do it, because the stories have their own impetus and the effort they require strikes me as worthwhile.

     Thus, for me novelism – i.e., what novelists do – is an avocation rather than a conventional occupation. I’d imagine many other indies – perhaps even the great majority – would have to say the same, in all candor.

     Mind you, there are a few indies who make significant amounts of money this way. You probably know some of the names. But what they do differs qualitatively from what I do, as anyone who’s read both my crap and theirs could tell you. As I’m terminally bored with writing about politics and public policy, I think I’ll tell you why.

***

     If you’ve ever worked in new product development, you’ll probably be familiar with the old marketing mantra:

Differentiate the product!

     For a new product to make much of an impact in the marketplace, it must differ from previous offerings in some significant way. Perhaps it’s less expensive than its competitors. Perhaps it outperforms its competitors, or does things they don’t do. Or perhaps it comes from a company whose reputation for quality and customer service automatically raises its offerings above those from other firms. One of these conditions, or something of equal significance, must apply to your new product to get it a decent amount of attention.

     None of that applies to fiction.

     Before the indie explosion, the publishing houses had a mantra of their own:

The same, but different.

     In their case, it was an expression of the economics of publishing. It’s extraordinarily difficult for a company in the business of selling entertainment to predict accurately what will sell well. The most reliable predictor – and even this wasn’t all that reliable – is the answer to the question “Does it resemble anything else we’ve published that sold really well?” That was the case before indie-publishing, and it’s the case today. It’s part of the reason for classifying books into genres, in case you ever wondered.

     The indies doing well financially are aware of this and cater to it. “What’s selling well at the moment?” they ask themselves. “Vampire novels? Great; we’ll write stories about vampires. Space opera? Okay; we’ll write about galaxy-spanning quests for new worlds, or perhaps about battles between immense space fleets that will determine the future of trillions of lives. Steamy, sex-saturated romances? Sure, no problem: we can turn those out with a few MS Word macros. And we’ll do them in series, so the reader can be confident that once he’s finished the current novel, more of the same will be ready for his attention and delectation.”

     This is not mere cynicism. It’s a recognition that most readers have a very low tolerance for fiction that departs from what’s already familiar to them. A writer who wants serious financial rewards must respect that characteristic of the reading public.

     So: If you fancy yourself a fictional trailblazer, someone with completely unique stories to tell or a heretofore unexplored narrative technique, the odds are heavily against you. You must derive your principal satisfaction from the writing itself. That might strike you as unfair, but as a dear departed friend of mine liked to say, “fair” is just this meaningless noise humans make with their mouths.

***

     Just this morning, I stumbled over this piece by Freddie deBoer, of whom I was previously unaware. It’s a snarky but serious piece about writing as a paying occupation and what it demands. A snippet, for flavor:

     Here’s who makes money writing books now:

  1. People who were already famous
  2. Robin Diangelo
  3. Those writers whose books have titles like “You Don’t Give a Fuck, Because You’re a Badass Self-Confident Woman Who Manifests Divine Bitch Energy: A Glow Up”

     Nor are there a lot of high salaries in traditional journalism or commentary anymore. People who self-define as writers and journalists make money but they make it in “consulting” or PR or copywriting or ghostwriting for celebs or running vague wellness/self-care/scented candle businesses….

     In broad strokes: if you want to make it as a writer you will have to differentiate yourself, in text, from the vast rising oceans of texts that surround the digital world. There has never been more text being professionally published in the history of the world, which indicates that the market has never been bigger. But that also means that there has never been more words vying for the attention of a public that also has more and more not-words to pay attention to. So you have to be different. You have to be weird. I think being unclassifiable and difficult and fractious are desirable qualities for a writer in and of themselves.

     Mirabile dictu! DeBoer is advocating differentiating the product! Can he and I both be right simultaneously?

     Why, yes. The above is about nonfiction writing as a paying trade. I have no doubt that DeBoer is absolutely correct about exposition and opinion-editorial writing…and no doubt that I’m correct that the road to the filthy lucre in fiction is to write to the most popular trends. But that’s only for starters. Combining the two observations yields information that exceeds what’s in either of them standing apart.

***

     As I said two segments back, if you write fiction, and if you’re determined to tell the stories you have in mind even though there’s nothing like them currently in the marketplace, you must derive your principal satisfaction from the stories and the writing thereof. But as Freddie deBoer notes above, if you write nonfiction, following the trends – i.e., being just one more voice with your particular expertise or political slant – won’t earn you a dime. The two groups of relevant readers are too different, even when they’re one and the same.

     Most readers simply like to read. But a reader’s tastes are unlikely to be uniform across the universe of prose. They’ll change according to subject matter, fiction versus nonfiction, academic, journalistic, opinion, or hortatory, and so on. That will, of course, determine what he’s willing to pay for.

     There are exceptions, of course. I’m one. As an opinion writer, I’m largely indistinguishable from the legions of other op-ed writers on the political Right. Those are also the op-ed writers I most enjoy reading, as they share my premises and have reached similar conclusions about the matters they discuss. Though I prefer science fiction and fantasy for my leisure reading, I steer clear of trendy fiction about space battles, vampires, time travel, apocalypses, werewolves, witches, quests for objects of great magical power, and so forth. I want the original; the unique; the freshly characterized and innovatively told. (That’s also the sort of fiction I write, which is why my readership is small and my revenues are even smaller.)

     But we call exceptions that because they’re…exceptional. Few in number and outside the mainstream of thought and taste. They seldom constitute a market that will make a writer rich.

     If you choose to write, your choices in these matters will define you:

  • As an occupational writer, whose efforts are aimed mainly at deriving an income; or:
  • As an avocational writer, who writes as a pastime and expects scant extrinsic reward for it.

     What follows won’t necessarily be a pronouncement on your skills. What, after all, is more of a cliche than unsung genius? But having made your choices, you must resolve to be content with them. All else is folly.

     While we’re on the subject, have you read anything really good lately? My TBR stack is dangerously short. But no vampire operas, please. Those things can’t sing worth a damn.

The Experts, The Politicians, And The Wuhan Virus

     Karl Denninger has produced a compendium of “expert” errors and lies about the Chinese Coronavirus and its social and political outcroppings. It’s an exceptionally useful item that everyone should read. If you’ve harbored suspicions that the Kung Flu has little to do with public health and a lot more to do with the aspirations of totalitarians, Denninger’s article will confirm them.

     For me, the wonder throughout this misadventure has been that anyone was willing to believe anything emitted by any of the so-called “experts.” From the very beginning of this manufactured pseudo-crisis, their lust for power has radiated forth like a searchlight. The affair should suffice to demolish what remains of Americans’ willingness to trust government-nominated “experts” and their claims about “science.”

***

     At one time it was near to universal for young Americans to learn an old and very sturdy wisdom from their parents: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” The truth of it has certainly been demonstrated in the surveying and polling industries. When company X hires market surveying firm Y to determine whether the market will embrace proposed new product Z, Y’s most powerful incentive is to determine, as swiftly as possible, what those who run X really want to hear. It’s a better guarantee of full payment and repeat business than any amount of effort put to unearthing the true answer.

     The same is true for government-funded “experts.” Such “scientists” face financial incentives and political pressures that can overwhelm any impetus toward the truth. Add to that the desire of even the most mediocre researcher for stature, prestige among his fellows, and widespread fame. Add also the preference of “journalists” for what will sell air time and column inches, rather than the ungarnished, undisguised facts. It’s not a formula for accuracy, nor for candor, as the East Anglia CRU leaks should have taught us.

     Among the most frightening scientific trends of the past fifty years is the steady encroachment of government funding, and hence government direction, upon all of science. Even in the Seventies, before I left academia, the effects were visible: on our research teams, ever more attention was put to the acquisition of funding, and ever less to the research it was supposed to fund. The funding was either directly from the federal government or from a non-governmental organization funded by the federal government. In many cases, if the results of the research weren’t to the liking of the funding agency, the money stream would dry up at once.

     I seldom find it possible to put my trust in such “science.” Granted, there are aspects of government-funded science that are impressive, and whose conclusions appear impervious to political distortion. It’s hard to imagine that the coalition of governments that fund the various supercolliders would demand a particular answer to ongoing questions in quantum physics, for example. (“What’s that? The mass of the Higgs boson is only 125 GeV? You get that mass up to 140 GeV or no more money!”) But in the sciences more directly applicable to practical matters, political pressures or biases can and often will determine the “answers” produced.

***

     Hard data makes it plain that there is not and never was a good reason to fear the Wuhan virus any more than we fear common influenza. Yes, it’s dangerous to older people with comorbidities, but so is the flu. More, the indifferent efficacy of annual “flu shots” should have told us something about the prospects for a truly effective vaccine against the Kung Flu. The only plausible route toward immunity – which, I will grant, is desirable, just as is immunity to any disease – is to get it, get over it, and forget it.

     But politicians saw a pseudo-pandemic as a pathway to increased power. (“You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel) Government “experts” saw it as a route to riches and enhanced reputations. The media were wholly onboard with the project from very early on, and lent their offices to frightening as many Americans as possible into sheeplike compliance with the “advice” from On High. And so we got the procession of errors, lies, distortions, panic propaganda, and seizures of powers never granted that has largely ruined the Land of the Formerly Free and Home of the Formerly Brave.

     It would be nice if Americans were to learn something from all this. But given the current social, political, and media climate, what are the odds?

The Gulag “Thing”

Now, that term – meant originally to refer to the concentration camps run by the Soviet Union, that imprisoned huge numbers of dissidents, wrong-thinkers, schlubs, and others caught up in the madness of a Fully-Leftist-Society-Run-by-Ideologues – was popularized in The Gulag Archipelago, written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (I had to check my spelling multiple times to make sure I got that right).

It’s not a cheap book; just Vol. 1 is $9.99 on Nook, for the e-book. You’ll want to read Vol. 2, as well.

I read it thanks to having been dating a young man with Eastern European heritage; he recommended it, and, as I was eager to impress him, I bought a paperback copy (readily available at the local bookstore and drugstores, as I recall).

It’s a bit of a hard slog, at first. The Russian style of writing is one that takes some adjustment. And, my previous was detective stories and ‘fluff’ novels (hey, that’s what was available at home). I did manage, while in high school, to methodically work my way through Fitzgerald and start on Hemingway. But, other than Les Miserable, which I picked up after a reference to it in another book I had read, that was it for serious literature.

I can never thank him adequately for that assistance in finding one of the most powerful and foundational books of my life. After reading it, I had immunized myself against a too-easy acquiescence to the Leftist seduction. I strongly recommend buying a hard copy or two, and distributing it around your family.

Even now, after much of the truth has been admitted to, after confirmation of the conditions of the Gulag in subsequent investigations, and from information mined from the Venona Papers, Leftists continue to discount the reality.

Unfortunately, our own government seems to be heading in the direction of criminalizing dissident thought, behavior, and organizing to resist the oppressive hand of the Deep State. Many arrested in the aftermath of the Capital Hill protests still are imprisoned, without bail. Efforts to raise funds to free them or procure them an adequate defense have been verboten (to use the appropriate word) by Deep State Allies, such as PayPal, GoFundMe, and other crowd-driven means of raising money. Those means have been used by admitted criminals, convicted felons, and Domestic Terrorists of the Leftist Kind without a problem, so it seems clear that the distinction is political.

What’s the answer? Hell if I know.

We’re in uncharted territory here. We’re the guys that EVENTUALLY put together the Colonial Rebellion, but we’re nowhere ready to break out the muskets. Other than quiet discussions, prepping and practicing potentially necessary skills, and identifying local support, should it be necessary, I haven’t a clue. Social media, at this point ,is more likely to paint a target on our backs. There are a few online tools that have some potential, but I wouldn’t bet my continued freedom or existence on them.

Through the looking glass.

How can dollar debasement policies aimed at inflating away the debt ever succeed when it’s these very policies that induce the massive growth of debt in the first place?[1]

Dollar debasement IS the OFFICIAL game plan. An endless loop of moronic policy with, if you remember the days of DOS, no ctrl+C (halt execution).

Yes, our tippity top people are actually doing this.

Notes
[1] “There’s A Serious Flaw To The Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme.” By M.N. Gordon, ZeroHedge, 3/27/21 (emphasis removed).

The rest is just detail.

Borrowing a quarter of the nation’s entire economic output every year to prop up an ineffective, corrupt status quo is putting a Band-Aid over a tumor.

Do We Really Think A Band-Aid Will Heal A Tumor?” By Charles Hugh Smith, ZeroHedge, 3/27/21 (emphasis removed).

Not interested in U.S. tutelage.

Here’s a little diversity that we so slobber over 24/7. Diversity of opinion, that is. Sensible people in other countries are trying to tell us something:

Our resident corps of hysterics and psychopaths seem to prefer the high-explosives approach to ordering the rules-based international order but as this eloquent woman suggests working together to defeat ISIS in Syria and tackling poverty around the world are better alternatives to trying to enshrine an superior-subordinate ordering of things with the globalists in Washington at the apex of saintliness.

SHMG, is there no year-long rehab program our IYI class can attend?

H/t: Vanessa Beeley.

Have We Witnessed America’s Racial Fort Sumter?

     Some time ago, I wrote a series of essays about what I saw as a race war in progress. I’ve added those essays to the ones ported here from Liberty’s Torch V1.0 (i.e., the Blogger edition). Here are the links:

     Why, you may ask? Because of this incident, which took place recently in Festung Washington:

     Two young teenage girls have been charged with felony murder after killing a man in DC during an armed carjacking.

     Instead of fleeing the scene after the car crashed and rolled on its side, one of the girls began looking for her cellphone that was in the vehicle — while walking nonchalantly past their victim’s body.

     The girls, both black, are only 13 and 15 years old.

     Their Pakistani victim, Mohammad Anwar, 66, of Springfield, Virginia, was driving for Uber Eats when the girls attempted to steal his car and tased him.

     Here’s the video of the event:

     I’ve downloaded the video to prevent it being “lost.”

     Yet there are…persons who claim that the racial troubles in this country are a consequence of “white supremacism” and “white privilege.” Draw your own conclusions.

     I fear that a racial pogrom is coming. I expected one some time ago, as the linked essays suggest. It didn’t arrive, which testifies to the forbearance of America’s white majority. After this incident, I can’t imagine that it will last much longer.

Maintain high situational awareness.
Know where your loved ones are at all times.
Wherever you live, never leave home unarmed.
If this can happen to some poor schmuck driving for Uber Eats, it can happen to you.

The Great Skewering.

The lockdown of the world by politicians following the direction of health care “expert” models has proved to be the absolute worst decision since the leaders of Europe thought the conflict started in July 1914 would be over in a few weeks. It is now clear the lockdowns were used as the main lever to undermine our democratic elections and remove Trump from office. The virus and lockdowns were used by the Deep State to ensure victory in November with an onslaught of fraudulent mail-in ballots in Democrat controlled swing states and cities.

The lockdowns were also exploited by the jar shakers [to maximize internal conflict] to destroy small businesses and shift their revenues to mega-corporations like Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target. The destruction of the last vestiges of free market capitalism occurred in 2020, as the government, in collusion with the Federal Reserve, picked the economic winners (them) and losers (you), decided whether you were essential, redistributed wealth from the poor to the rich, set us on a path towards socialism, and laid the groundwork for the Great Reset.[1]

These swinish overlords are intent on destroying centuries of custom, tradition, and common sense in a matter of a few years. A massive game of “52 Pick Up.”

They think they can glue on wings and soar through the skies. But just wait till they face a massive withdrawal of assent and cooperation, not to mention an enormous economic spasm. Laws melt like butter when people don’t agree that they are just or that their proponents are decent, sane or patriotic. If nothing else, consider self-defense laws. What are they but a minefield for the law-abiding and a Godsend for criminal class. State-of-the-art America. The righteous fear the law. Good luck wasting some AntiFa piece of filth. Just ask Kyle Rittenhouse.

This really is a must-read article. The purposefulness behind all of this is brilliantly brought out by Mr. Quinn. Note especially what he has to say about the death throes of an empire.

And if “purposefulness” doesn’t sit right with you, consider that so far as any political or cultural issue or any government decision are concerned the actual decision that issues forth with trumpets blaring is ALWAYS the wrong one — the one that celebrates depravity, stupidity, waste, inflation, debt, hostility to production, profligacy, war, baseless hatred of the Russians, hatred of whites, hatred of Christians, parasitism, poisonous feminism, the undermining of common decency and common sense, destruction of the rule of law, and cowardice. And the lies fall from the skies like rain.

Notes
[1] “Who’s Shaking The Jar, Part 2: 2020 Was The Turning Point In History.” By Jim Quinn, ZeroHedge, 3/25/21 (emphasis removed).

It’s Not Just About Freedom

Mask-wearing practices in the United States, at this point, are slowly killing me.

Yes, KILLING.

Over the last year, I’ve become more and more socially isolated. I’ve lost those easy interactions that added so much to my day – with clerks, fellow shoppers, the people in restaurants, at church.

I’m what is called HOH – Hard of Hearing. Not considered Deaf, but, due to loss of hearing function, considerably diminished in the ability to join into the social networks that surround most of us. I don’t sign, as is the situation of most of us whose hearing was lost later in life.

After I took a hearing test, and was told that I’d lost about 30% of my hearing, I ordered my first hearing aids. What a difference they made – I could hear the phone ringing, the tea kettle whistling, and fully participate in the conversations around me. Even phone conversations were crisper and more understandable.

I’ve replaced those first hearing aids several times (the life of a set is around 10 years or so, max). Recently, I bought a significant upgrade, in anticipation of needing to hear better on phones. Because of improvements in technology, the newer aids stream the conversation directly into your ears, making the process seamless and smooth.

Then came COVID.

Life has not been the same since.

Zoom calls and phone calls work, of course. But, with the population forced/persuaded to wear masks in any situation involving those not related to them personally, nearly all my communication takes place in a muffled world.

What can I hear? Perhaps 40-50% of the conversation is garbled, often completely beyond any ability to understand what is being said. That’s WORSE than the situation I faced when I first bought my hearing aids.

When I am in stores, I usually have to ask for those assisting me to repeat their directions, often more than 3 times.

If I see ONE MORE PAIR OF ROLLED EYES in response to being asked to repeat what they are saying, I’m not going to be responsible for what happens. The least that might occur would be to slap the snide look off their face.

So, mostly, I don’t go out. When I do, I resign myself to being talked over. To not understanding what is said. Which, in some circumstances, can be a bigger problem than slowing up the line.

Like misinformation about a course of medical treatment. Like misunderstanding how a medication should be taken. Like them deciding that I’m “losing it” and need to be evaluated for dementia.

Or, in the case of church in person, missing nearly the entire sermon’s message. I don’t even want to think about going to confession in a time of masking.

I am generally forthright about my issues with hearing. I generally ask for people to slow down their speech (about 1/4 to 1/3 slower generally helps, as does carefully enunciating consonants).

But, people forget. Or get impatient. Or, frankly, just don’t care.

So, I go home, and resolve to stay in my little cave.

And, every day, become less inclined to reach out to other people.

It doesn’t help when people with passionate convictions about current events and topics are equally passionate about how those who disagree should just “shut up” and be banned from social media.

Great. It’s one of the few things keeping me together. Great idea to push those like me off it.

Is there a solution?

Sure. But, it’s not one that the Left will tolerate.

It would mean that ‘Mean Girl’ pile-ons would stop. It would mean, rather than call someone a Hater for any slight deviation from the Accepted Progressive Norm (what they think of a The ONLY Way to Think That is Not LITERALLY Hate), you try to listen to what they ACTUALLY conveyed.

Maybe even say (rather than a condescending “That’s Racist/Sexist/Hateful”) “That’s interesting. Why do you feel that way?”

And, listen to the answer. You might even find out that they have a reason for their beliefs or position. One that does not stem from a salivating and depraved desire to see Officially Oppressed People DIE, DIE, DIE.

You may still disagree with them. But, having spent some time listening to them, they would be more inclined to listen to what YOU say.

Heck, maybe you might even – eventually – learn that their commitment to Constitutional Norms is based, not on a desire to enslave most of the population, but on a bedrock belief that this is the way to protect ALL Americans from abusive tyranny from government. Even those who don’t look like them.

I’m not writing this to ask for pity. I just want people to realize that getting that superior look on your face, as you condescendingly inform me that masking is critical, and only horrible people are against it, is just sucking the heart right out of me. You are putting me in a cage of silence. It’s solitary confinement.

You wouldn’t treat a ‘undocumented refugee’ like that. Or a criminal.

Open the cage. Take the masks off most of the population, as they are NOT contagious, and, hence, not a danger to the rest of the nation.

When you tune to the right frequency . . .

. . . it’s ALL b_______.

Inflation is already raging, but the government and Fed tell you it is 1.5%. There are 261 million working age Americans and only 127 million are employed full-time, but the government tells you the unemployment rate is 6.2%, when more than 50% of those capable of working are not. The government will tell you GDP soared in the first quarter at 6%, when we are in the midst of a government created [lockdown] Depression, and the GDP calculation is nothing more than the government borrowing trillions from future generations and giving a minuscule portion to current generations, with the vast majority going into the pockets of billionaire oligarchs, Wall Street, and mega-corporations. The “economic recovery” narrative is entirely false . . . .

Who’s Shaking The Jar, Part 2: 2020 Was The Turning Point In History.” By Jim Quinn, ZeroHedge, 3/25/21 (emphasis removed).

Insight And Humor…

     …are an unbeatable combination:

     With applause to the indispensable Brock Townsend.

     Mark Steyn’s insight, delivered toward the end of that little clip, should resound throughout this land. The Biden Usurpation is the proof:

The Deep State holds the levers of power.
Presidents are no longer needed nor wanted.

     Steyn’s gift of humor, together with Carlson’s highly popular program, could make that realization general, perhaps even unanimous. Whether We the People can do anything about it is another question entirely.

     Spread it around!

The Good Patriot: Part 2, the Army

     Here’s the second video:

     This video continues the central theme of successful resistance to the encroaching totalitarianism of the Left expressed in the previous one:

If you don’t need them,
They can’t control you.

     However, rather than analyze the Left’s control strategy and the social and economic conditions upon which it’s founded, Good Patriot leaps directly into the details of her counter-strategy. That shook me a bit. People expect an advisor or counselor not just to tell them what to do, but to explain why they ought to do it. Without such explanations, even the best, most constructive advice will fail to persuade a significant portion of its audience.

     Be not afraid! Your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus is here to fill the gap. And as it happens, the explanation is relatively simple.

***

     A great part of why the machinations of the power-mad Left have attained so much success stems from a historical seed with which not many Americans are familiar. It was planted early in the New Deal years, at a time when enough Americans were desperate for relief from Depression conditions that they’d accept essentially anything a confident, resolute-looking leader figure might propose. Hearken to the analysis of Garet Garrett, individualist and classical liberal commentator:

     Business is in itself a power. In a free economic system it is an autonomous power, and generally hostile to any extension of government power. That is why a revolutionary party has to do something with it. In Russia it was liquidated; and although that is the short and simple way, it may not turn out so well because business is a delicate and wonderful mechanism; moreover, if it will consent to go along it can be very helpful. Always in business there will be a number, indeed, an astonishing number, who would sooner conform than resist, and besides these there will be always a few more who may be called the Quislings of capitalism. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini ever attempted to liquidate business. They only deprived it of its power and made it serve.

     How seriously the New Deal may have considered the possibility of liquidating business we do not know. Its decision, at any rate, was to embrace the alternative; and the alternative was to shackle it.

     [From Garrett’s essay “The Revolution Was”]

     The shackle of which Garrett speaks above was an unprecedented regulatory regime that imposed a multitude of conditions upon the operation of American businesses. Coupled to FDR’s greatly expanded program of federal spending, it created incentives that gave rise to the mega-corporation: the form of commercial life that dominates American commerce today. Those incentives could be classified thus:

  • The larger a corporation is, the more easily it can bear the overheads of regulatory oversight and its legal ramifications.
  • A government will always prefer to purchase from an organization that resembles it as closely as possible, especially in size.

     I first wrote about this in this Baseline Essay:

     Large organizations have inherent deficiencies that conduce toward a generalized condition of incoherence and failure. Why, then, is the world’s commerce completely dominated by two or three thousand giant corporations?

     Simply, because governments systematically tilt the field in their favor.

     Ignore the propaganda about “monopoly” and “antitrust.” Nothing favors Big Business like Big Government. The occasional forays against specific targets in the private sector — mostly, companies that have been slow to bend the knee when the State commanded it — are mere flea bites, compared to the many ways the legal environment has been biased toward giant businesses.

     Complex tax and regulatory law is one example. The larger a company is, the smaller the percentage of its expenses that will go to its overhead functions, in particular legal counsel and accounting. (For all that accounts payable and receivable are important functions, their complexity and cost pales in comparison to that of tax accounting.)

     Liability is another example, and an increasingly important one. With all the ways in which suits against the providers of goods and services have been encouraged in the past thirty years, the fraction of a typical company’s expenses that go to legal representation, tort insurance, and payoffs has swollen to Brobdingnagian size. (A tiny example: Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas and former Libertarian Party presidential candidate, told me that the cost of his malpractice insurance in his last year as a practicing obstetrician came to more than a quarter of his annual revenue.)

     Finally, but far from least, there’s this: When governments seize and spend 45% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, businesses that sell to governments are going to get really, really rich. And governments, for sociological and organizational reasons I’ll delve into some other time, prefer to do business with the largest of corporations.

     The incentives delineated above have brought about the steady transformation of the American economy from one dominated by small businesses to one dominated by huge ones: for brevity’s sake, the Fortune 3000. Those huge businesses employ slightly more than half of all working Americans. Each of them has a large legal department and a sizeable regulatory-compliance staff. Most of them earn some significant fraction of their annual revenues from government purchasing. Thus, they have become points of derived control over their workforces:

  • Most obviously, they pay the wages of those who work for them.
  • They form an important part of their workers’ ideological environment;
  • They can impose certain behavioral controls on their workers as a condition of employment;
  • Those companies, in aggregate, provide more than half the consumer goods the American public demands.
  • And they dance to Washington’s tune!

     Whether FDR and his Brain Trust had this in mind as they sculpted the New Deal is not known, though Garet Garrett suspected it. In any case, the workforces of those 3000 mega-corporations must toe the line their employers dictate – and their products account for the greater part of the annual retail purchases of the consumers of these United States.

***

     From the above it becomes clear why Good Patriot advocates a federation of small, self-sustaining communities to countervail the tentacles of the swelling Leviathan. As she said in the earlier video, separating oneself from its instruments of control is the key to preserving one’s autonomy. Only a partial separation is possible for many of us: e.g., those of us dependent on water and electrical power supplied by regional regulated monopolies. You should not doubt that the State can get the cooperation of such monopolies whenever it pleases. Consider what’s been done to California businesses that have refused to comply with state mandates.

     The Left’s drive to nationalize medical care should also be viewed through this lens. We are fortunate that their efforts in that regard have not succeeded any better than they have. Were we as dependent upon government-managed medical services as, say, our neighbors in Canada, the State would wield a de facto power of life and death over every individual in this country. But the game is not over; indeed, it may still be in the first innings.

     The last sentence of the previous paragraph deserves every Gentle Reader’s sober consideration:


The game is not over.
There are still moves to be made.
The outcome remains uncertain.
Your role may be larger than you imagine.

     Stay tuned.

Load more