Empty Calories

     That’s what yesterday meant to most people. Not football. A social gathering with plenty of nosherai. Here at the Fortress, yesterday had another, far more significant meaning, which I shall refrain from disclosing, out of regard for the feelings of my Significant Other.

     Yes, this is the introduction to yet another “assorted” column.


     As we no longer follow football, the C.S.O. and I watched two movies yesterday. One was very serious, the other was rather tongue-in-cheek. Both are to be recommended.

     The first movie was Eye in the Sky, a 2015 military-technological thriller starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman. It concerns an attempt to eliminate an Islamic terrorist cell that’s complicated by the presence of an innocent: a young girl. I shan’t spoil the movie for you with more details. Suffice it to say that it’s a stunner, and that Mirren and Rickman give their usual superb performances. See it!

     The second movie was Jolt, starring Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale, and Stanley Tucci. Beckinsale’s Lindy has a problem: owing to “too much cortisol,” when irritated beyond a certain threshold she tends to “snap” in a homicidal fashion. As the cortisol also makes her stronger and faster than most other human beings of either sex, this poses a certain problem for her in social interactions. She controls her impulses with a shock vest designed for her by her psychiatrist, played by Stanley Tucci…but matters go somewhat awry when she’s told that her brand-new lover has just been murdered. This one is available through Amazon Prime. It’s both high-body-count for the action junkies and delightfully funny for…well, anyone who can endure a little profanity. Highly recommended.


     I would like to give a bit of advice to other indie novelists, and so I shall:

Don’t disparage persons who differ with you.
It would cost you in readership and revenue.

     This is not about having “a right to your own opinion.” It’s about effectiveness in promoting your works and the ideas they contain. You will do those things more effectively if you refrain from castigating, slandering, or condemning others who have their own opinions.

     If this point seems a bit too abstruse for you, perhaps you’d be better advised to write children’s books. After all, children don’t usually choose the books they’re given to read. They virtually never pay for them.


     I have become violently sick of the words democratic and democracy. They have a semi-honorable history, having been integral to the political ascendancy of Andrew Jackson, but over the years they’ve been shriven of both objective meaning and innocent application. Consider the rantings about “an attack on our democracy” we’ve heard recently, and reflect.

     “Democracy,” stripped of all its rosy connotations, means majority rule, unlimited by anyone’s notions about rights or freedom. A lynch mob is “democratic,” locally at least. The United States is emphatically not a “democracy,” even if we use a quasi-democratic process – elections – to choose some of our public officials. It is a constitutional federated republic, in which individuals’ rights are recognized and protected, and regional variations in law and policy are permitted.

     At least, that’s what it was.


     Consider this little bit of news:

     The Satanic Temple recently opened an after-school “Satan Club” in a Moline, Illinois, middle school, as part of its nationwide campaign to push back against the Christian Good News Clubs offered to schoolchildren after regular-hour classes….

     Lucien Greaves, the Satanic Temple spokesperson, told Fox News about the clubs, “I’m hoping that with our presence, people can see that good people can have different perspectives, sometimes on the same mythology, but not mean any harm.”

     Greaves also said, “We’re not including items of religious opinion … We’re not teaching children about Satanism. They’re just going to know that this is taught by Satanists.”

     The Satanic Temple is not hiding the fact that it created the clubs to take on the Christian club called the Good News Club — which has become its No. 1 nemesis.

     Said Greaves, “The after-school Satan Clubs were conceived of in order to give an alternative to [the] religious indoctrination [of] after-school programs.”

     The Satanists’ aim could hardly be clearer. “Oh, we don’t intend to preach Satanism to your little darlings. On the other hand, if they should ask about it…😁”

     We’re living through a real-world re-enactment of Stephen King’s horror novel The Stand, though the disease in that one was far more virulent than the Kung Flu.


     Today CBD at AoSHQ laments a technological failure:

     A 500gb SSD drive that failed after barely five years! You know…a drive that just a few years before I installed it was unimaginably expensive, and a couple of generations before that, was simply unimaginable!

     “Solid-state drives” are a marvel, to be sure. They have near-instantaneous response times. They’re virtually ideal for read-only or read-mostly items such as program images. But they do have some downsides, and they are more expensive than conventional rotating magnetic media: i.e., disks.

     Quite recently I purchased a 2 Terabyte SSD for a new computer. It cost about $250, which by today’s standards rates it as “expensive.” But I’ll bet CBD paid much more for the 500 Gigabyte SSD that just failed him, five years back. That’s how fast technology has been moving lately.

     About forty-two years ago, I purchased a microcomputer. It had a Zilog Z80 eight-bit CPU, two eight inch floppy disks, and 64 kilobytes of RAM. It ran the CP/M 2.2 disk-operating system. It required a separate ASCII terminal, interfaced to it by RS-232 asynchronous communications, to operate. I had to program it in assembly language. It cost me nearly $4000. And to my eyes, it was the marvel of the age.

     You young folks don’t know how lucky you are.


     Concerning the Canadian “Freedom Convoy,” what more is there to say? The Tyrant of Ottawa has sent everything but the Boy Scouts to attack the truckers and force them to disperse. Justin Trudeau, arguably the second-worst chief executive in the First World – hey, America’s still Number One, baby – simply will not allow anyone to defy him. Unfortunately, it appears he’ll get his way.

     But an American Freedom Convoy is forming as we speak. I wonder what sort of reactions that one will get, considering how our domestic tyrants are steadily backing away from all their authoritarian decrees? And have you noticed that the vaccine makers themselves are backing away from their unqualified claims that their product is perfectly safe for toddlers?

     Word gets around. The lie might travel faster, but the truth will get around. In time, people will know what they need to know – and those who’ve tried to keep them from knowing it will pay. We’ve seen that with race, we’ve seen it with sexual perversions, and now we’ll see it with government-imposed “lockdowns,” “mandates,” and “vaccines.”


     Today, Valentine’s Day, is actually the feast day of a Catholic saint by that name. Saint Valentine was a Third Century priest in Rome at the time of Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor, as emperors sometimes do, issued an insane decree forbidding Roman citizens to marry. He thought it would help to promote enlistment in the Roman Army. Valentine went right on conducting marriages for Roman Christians. This made the Emperor very unhappy.

     Claudius ordered Valentine’s arrest, but it didn’t work out quite as he had imagined. While in prison, Valentine restored sight to his jailer’s blind daughter, causing the jailer and his entire extended household, forty-six people in total, to immediately convert to Christianity. The news made Claudius order Valentine’s execution. Saint Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended, and signed it “From Your Valentine.” He was beheaded on February 14th, giving us Valentine’s Day.

     Behead someone you love today!


     That’s all for the moment, Gentle Readers. I intend to spend the rest of the day away from this monstrosity and all other things digital. See you tomorrow, I hope. (Have some chocolate and think of me.)


Skip to comment form

    • Univ of Saigon 68 on February 14, 2022 at 8:42 AM

    Is it weird that I think 76-year old Helen Mirren is hot?

    1. Not at all. I think she’s one of the most beautiful women in movies.

    • Daniel K Day on February 14, 2022 at 3:41 PM

    Happy birthday to your wife, and thanks for the recommendation of Eye in the Sky. It’s on Netflix.

  1. I remember when my husband bought the (then-state-of-technology) Commodore 64. We saved and loaded programs with an analog tape recorder. 
    “When,” I asked him, “Would we EVER need 64K of memory!”
    When, indeed.

    • FeralFerret on February 14, 2022 at 5:48 PM

    I remember those computers.  I used a Kaypro portable the size of a small suitcase running CP/M with a single 8″ floppy and a 4″ diagonal green screen built in that had been donated to the ham radio club I was in.  The lid was a detachable wired keyboard.  I used C-64s for many years before is spent over $1,200 to get one of the first PC-XT clones with one of the first 40 MB hard drives.  Color me old.

  2. Not so old, Feral Ferret. My dad operated for years with his Commodore 64, including accessing bulletin boards on 1200 baud.
    When he replaced it with a Windows 95 machine, he was excited! A few days later, he happened to land in the ER (elevated sugar), and the doctor was observing him. I entered, and his eyes lit up, and he immediately starting telling me about his new machines specs in technical terms.
    I saw the doctor’s notes – “Patient is babbling nonsense”, and had to inform him that what he was saying was perfectly intelligible, if somewhat geeky, and indicated that his brain was functioning perfectly.
    Naturally, the doc had to verify that with another question: “Am I a policeman?” he asked Dad in a loud voice.
    My father looked at him like he was nuts, and said, “I THOUGHT you said that you were a doctor.”
    Just an example of why senior patients always want to have a friend or family member with them when they have to be seen by new doctors.

  3. Around 1979 I acquired an Apple II+. An external floppy drive with some 400K usable storage on each floppy cost around $450. A few years later I acquired a Compaq desktop with a 6 or 8 mHz processor and a 20MB hard drive. Hog heaven to the tune of $2,000. Two years ago I got an 8T external HD for $129 (about $36 in 1979 dollars).

    Before I got my Apple I loved to go to the local Radio Shack and play with the floor model of the TRS-80.

    I was transfixed by the first word processing program I saw. Freaking magic. Now the most miraculous stuff is ho hum. Send an email to Australia for nothing? Done. Watch a free talk on the Reformation? Here!

    Good times.

Comments have been disabled.