Before I Proceed…

     …to the other business of the day, I must recommend this article to my Gentle Readers. It concerns a minor matter with which you might even be personally acquainted: broken ice-cream machines at McDonald’s:

     When you order ice cream, you don’t want to hear “We’re out” or “It’s broken,” yet it has been happening so often across the United States in recent years that it became somewhat of a cultural meme that spawned considerable media interest. Reports indicate that up to a quarter of McDonald’s ice cream machines are not operational at any given time.

     Ice cream sales make up 3% of total McDonald’s sales (over $22 billion annually), amounting to about a quarter of a billion dollars a year. If the company is losing out on roughly 25% of that, we have a $56 million question on our hands every year.

     Interesting stuff, eh? Mind you, $56 million is a lot of money even in counterfeit bills. No executive worth his annual bonus would wave it aside as too little to trouble himself over. So what’s going on?

     The author of the article has a thesis. Many won’t like it. But it’s both well supported by the patterns and consistent with other developments of our times. And it has nothing to do with “culture.”

     I await your thoughts.

Something To Hide…From?

     Who are you?

     I know who I am: a cranky old man with a lot of conservative-libertarian opinions. I don’t trouble to hide myself, or what I think. In fact, I glory in all of it. Yes, I’ve attracted some haters. And yes, at one time there was an attempt to do me harm for saying what I think. (Never fear, he’s all better now.)

     I go by my full and correct name. I always have and I always will. That compels me to stand behind my words. Apparently that’s not an attractive prospect to some:

     Billionaire Elon Musk has revealed part of his plan for Twitter’s future if his bid to become its new owner is successful as expected.

     The revelation came in response to a tweet from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who said that all users should verify their name and identity.

     “I hope @elonmusk will insist that all Twitter posters use their real names & not be keyboard cowards hiding behind silly little sophomoric screen names. Be man enough or woman enough (if you even know what that is) to stand by what you say! If you can’t own it don’t say it,” the former governor said.

     So far, what’s there to argue about? Governor Huckabee’s opinion isn’t binding on anyone. Elon Musk himself made that clear:

     The tweet caught the attention of Musk who has spoken about authenticating Twitter users in the past.

     “Authentication is important, but so is anonymity for many. A balance must be struck,” he said.

     But other Twitterers were much less happy with the notion:

     When I lived in China, they’d just started all the “real name online” nonsense. A few years later, they now have their Social Credit System. If they don’t like your post, your score goes down, and that could affect your ability to travel or even buy property.
No thank you.
— Seneschall 🇺🇸 (@Seneschall) May 1, 2022

     Anonymity is necessary for a lot of people to be able to exercise free speech. Therefore a platform that does not guarantee anonymity for the speakers cannot truly be a free speech one.
— The Ultimate Life Form 🇺🇦 (@SleeplessMosher) May 1, 2022

     Tired of having to collectively stress about what explosion of hate crimes is happening bc some billionaire with an ego problem unilaterally controls a massive communication platform and skews it because Tucker Carlson or Peter Thiel took him to dinner and made him feel special
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 29, 2022

     Let’s pass over the fallacies in the above tweets and ask the central question:

Why is there so much atrocious behavior on the World Wide Web?

     The slander, vitriol, obscenity, and threats we’ve seen in so-called social media are, if not entirely unknown, at least far rarer (and less dramatic) among persons who must face the world in person. He who must stand behind his words will be held to account for such scurrilities. The typical venom-spewer of Facebook or Twitter is unwilling to do so. That’s consistent with the maxim that the typical bully is also a coward.

     Freedom of expression, a Constitutionally protected right of Americans, is not supposed to guarantee freedom from any and all consequences. He who defames another must expect to be compelled to give evidence: real, verifiable evidence in support of his contentions. That’s the import of all libel and slander law. The awareness of that possibility is part of what keeps us minding out words; the other part is the instruction in courtesy we received at our mothers’ knee.

     But libel and slander run rampant on the Web…nearly always from behind anonymizing monikers the social-media sites generally protect from penetration.

     I’ve always granted more credibility to those willing to put their right names to their statements. I’ve said so repeatedly. The general reaction to the Huckabee / Musk exchange persuades me that most other Americans see things similarly. But watch the reactions from the Left in particular. These are the persons most prone to using slander, vitriol, and threats to intimidate those they dislike. There are a few on the Right as well, but the Left is where we find the highest concentration of such miscreants.

     It strikes me that those inclined toward scurrilous emissions on the Web realize that in a regime where authentication is available to anyone who agrees to it, their personal depravity and inferiority will be too obvious to conceal. “Freedom of speech” is a terribly thin cover for their fear. I expect they know that. That adequately explains their aversion to authentication, even if the user must agree to it.

     To those who insist on remaining anonymous on the Web: Is that because you know yourself to be unable to speak your mind without the use of slander et cetera? Or are you just not a very good shot?

     Take your time; I’ll wait.

The “we’re all going to die” narrative. Version 87.01.

More climate change hysteria from The Weather Channel:

5/4/22 — “Why Are Some Beaches Expanding, Despite Sea Level Rise?” “With sea levels rising due to climate change you might think that beaches are disappearing . . . .” You might think that because of their constant harping on rising sea levels.

5/4/22 — “Parts of the Rio Grande Running Drier Than Usual.” Climate change and increased demand . . . .

5/2/22 — “Where Tornadoes Strike Most Frequently Is Changing.” By Ally Hirschlag, Weather Channel. “Meteorologists have some theories as to why this appears to be happening which include climate change and natural variability.” Personally, I’m going with climate change.

5/4/22 — “Historic Lake Mead Drought Reveals Body in Barrel.” “Climate change has fueled the megadrought”, etc.

5/2/22 — “Wildfire in Northern New Mexico is Largest in Country.” “Scientists say wildfires are more widespread and starting earlier due to climate change.”

5/1/22 — “Climate Change Could Bring On Mass Extinction Event On Par with Great Dying.” The Great Dying of 250 million years ago. “. . . . [B]ecause of climate change.”

4/28/22 — “One-in-Five Reptiles Threatened With Extinction.” “The study points to habitat loss as the reptiles’ primary threat but hunting and climate change have an impact too.”

4/28/22 — “Climate Change Has Decimated this Once Popular Iraq Lake (PHOTOS).” “The lake, which was located west of Samawa in Iraq’s Muthana Province, has disappeared due to climate change-induced drought and groundwater harvesting for agricultural and industrial purposes.”

4/28/22 — “Climate Change Could Increase Cross-Species Disease Spread.” “A new study published in the journal Nature predicted climate-related disease spread could put humans at a greater risk of picking up infections from animals.” Again with the “studies.”

4/28/22 — “Floating City of the Future Being Built.” “The goal is to ensure that city dwellers displaced by future rising sea levels will have a thriving place to live.” It’s not clear what will cause future risking sea levels but we’ll get back to you when this becomes known.

4/28/22 — “Denali Main Road Partially Closed Due to Climate Change.” Escalating landslides . . . . Scientists say . . . .

4/27/22 — “UN: Climate Change Has Big Impact on Increasing Global Disasters.” “A U.N. report said the world can expect disasters to increase in the coming years mostly due to climate change.” 560 disasters expected by 2030, up from about 400 per year in 2015. Devestating heat waves, more droughts, extremely strong tropical cyclones in northern Africa, expanding wildfire season in American west. Compound with other factors like covid-19 “pandemic” and economic woes. Funds go to recovery and only a small percentage go for “prevention.”

4/27/22 — “Gray Wolf Howls at Car in Yellowstone.” Because of climate change. Ok. Just kidding.

4/26/22 — “As Climate Anxiety Grows, Youth-Led Lawsuits Spark Action.” “Climate change is one the leading causes of anxiety in young people all over the globe according to recent surveys. Negative feelings about the climate crisis correlate with worry that the government is not doing enough.”

4/26/22 — “UN: Climate Change Has Big Impact on Increasing Global Disasters.” “A new report by the UN’s Office of Disaster Risk Reduction said that disasters are only going to increase by 2030.” We are doomed. Find sticks and sharpen them.

4/25/22 — “More Americans Are Moving into Areas Prone to Climate Disasters, Study Finds.”

4/22/22 — “Climate Change Reveals Underwater ‘Fairy Chimneys’ in Turkey (PHOTOS).” By Nicole Bonaccorso. “Receding water from climate change fueled-drought have revealed what looks like a tiny underwater city in Turkey’s Van Lake.”

4/21/22 — “Glaciers Before and After Climate Change (PHOTOS).” By Nicole Bonaccorso.

4/21/22 — “Crop-Threatening Bacteria Found in North America for First Time.” “With many crops already stressed by warmer temperatures and drought . . . .”

4/20/22 — “Most Endangered US River Is Water Source for 40M.” “An advocacy group says the nation’s sixth-longest river is under threat from climate change and other factors.”

4/20/22 — “West’s Wildfires Affecting Pollution Levels Across U.S..” “Wildfires are becoming more intense due to climate change.”

4/20/22 — “Sea Level Rise Not the Only Coastal City Danger.” “See level rise is one of the worst effects of climate change for coastal cities but there’s another threat that can make it even worse — land subsidence. . . . It’ll take better monitoring and government intervention to keep land subsidence in check. And with the seas expected to rise by at least a foot in the 21st-century minimizing land subsidence will be crucial.” King Canute call your office.

Previous lists of Weather Channel hysteria:

4/12/22 — “Another load of Weather Channel climate change hysteria.”

2/14/22 — “Yet more Weather Channel hysteria, campers.”

12/4/21 — “Stuffing us like a goose.”

12/1/21 — “More Weather Channel climate hysteria.”

11/11/21 — “Six days of Weather Channel climate hysteria.”

For some perspective, see also “From ice age to global warming – the climate doom-mongers’ swift about-turn.” By Ivor Williams, The Conservative Woman, 4/26/22. It’s well worth reading even if you’re not a conservative woman.

Terror In The Vestibule

     I was thinking of taking the rest of the day off from commentary when, courtesy of J. J. Sefton, I started reading this essay by Naomi Wolf. It’s long, and addresses several matters of both political and sociological interest, but the segment that struck me most powerfully appears below:

     Overnight, a new concern, a new moral signifier, was presented, wholly formed: and it involved a conflict area half a world away. Now, war is always bad and invasions are always cruel; but I could not help noticing that there are wars, refugees, invasions and conflict areas around the world, and that only this one — this one one — demanded the attentions of my irksomely cultish and uncritical former tribe. I could not help noticing that the dozens of devastated conflict areas and war zones being totally ignored by the ex-Brooklynites — from Ethiopia, where there have been 50,000 deaths since September, to Sri Lanka, with its catastrophic food shortages, to Mexico’s drug war, which has led to 300,000 deaths, to Afghanistan, where women are being rounded up and people are being shot in the street — do not involve white people who look like the ex-Brooklynites; and for various other reasons, are not attracting a lot of television cameras.

     You’d think the ex-Brooklynites, with their expensive educations, would bear those complexities in mind.

     But no; the ex-Brooklynites are so easily led, when it comes to anyone invoking their particular moral high ground.

     Ah, complexity! Ah, the multitude of connectedness problems, wherein any attempt to redress one undesirable condition runs smack into the unpleasant realization that it would intensify another – or several others!

     But the complexities which Wolf cites above are relatively simple ones: Involve America in which wars? All, some, or none? There are more complex situations and clashes of ideas by far. Wolf continues:

     When they are directed to pay attention to one conflict out of dozens, and ignore the rest, no matter how dire the rest may be, they do so. Just like, when they were instructed to present their bodies uncritically to an untried MRNA injection and to offer up the bodies of their minor children, they did so. When they were asked to shun and to discriminate against their blameless neighbors, they did so.

     So the great apparatus of messaging about COVID was switched off, almost overnight, as the politics clearly soured and as Republicans consolidated an increasingly popular, multiracially inclusive, transpartisan-ly appealing freedom message; and the comms apparatus simply replaced the COVID drama with a new, equally gripping European-conflict drama.

     Wolf finds this somewhat puzzling. I don’t. He who drives to the church for the service does not spend it standing in the vestibule. His pastor would notice…and his fellow communicants would have something to say to him, as well.

***

     If there’s anything at which the Left, and its political arm the Democrat Party, are world champions, it’s “keeping ‘em in the pews.” The method is terror: the fear of being “read out of church,” with the implications for social ostracism, impediments to local commerce, and ultimately where one’s soul will spend eternity. The Left wields that fear with appalling efficacy. When a left-liberal enters the church’s vestibule, he knows he’s been seen. He knows what would happen were he to hesitate about taking his familiar seat in the nave – or to back out and flee completely.

     Eric Hoffer addressed aspects of this in The True Believer. No one wants to be shunned, or to be put in doubt of his eternal reward. People will give lip service and more to the most appalling notions, if they’re proclaimed from a pulpit. This is especially so when one has already committed to the enveloping faith. Such a commitment becomes a part of one’s self-concept – and who, really, would be happy to admit to having made a huge mistake about who and what he is? That effect might be more important in this connection than the possibility of an eternity in Hell.

     I have no doubt that many Leftist “true believers” hesitate briefly before accepting certain pronouncements from the luminaries of their faith. Some of the things being preached from the Left’s pulpits are so patently absurd that to accept them involves denying observable physical facts. But the overriding importance of staying in the congregation persuades many to accept, albeit tacitly, notions that even a couple of decades ago would have been cause for a compulsory stay in a villa where the attendants wear white, the rooms have padded walls, and their doors only unlock from the outside.

     The members of Naomi Wolf’s “former tribe” are doing what the terrified do. They’re staying in line. They’re mouthing the slogans. They’re shouting and banging the chairs during the Two Minutes’ Hate. And they will keep doing so, for they are too frightened to dissent from the Gospel of the Current Thing. It should be a warning to us in the Right, for we are only men, and just as vulnerable as they to the terror-powered conditioning that keeps them in the Left’s pews.

My Irony Meter Has Pinned Again

     I don’t think this:

This radical dishonest slob pretends to be a journalist…Yamiche Alcindor: Overturning Roe Would Result in Pregnancies that Will ‘Turn Into Children’ https://t.co/nHctl6daBY

— Troy Fauber (@TroyFauber) May 4, 2022

     …requires any deep exegesis from me.

     Yamiche Alcindor is regularly presented to a large cablecast audience as an intelligent and informed commentator on public affairs. Draw your own conclusions.

Preparation vs. Obsession

I just woke up, after an early bedtime shortly after 7 pm. The notifications sound on the phone penetrated my consciousness, and I finally realized that I had overslept my intended short nap.

It was my brother and sister, reassuring each other that the tornado alert was over, and they were all good.

I’m a heavy sleeper, much like my late Dad. When I was a pre-schooler, he once laid down for a short afternoon nap one weekend, having locked the screen door.

When my Mother returned after visiting friends, she was locked out. She banged on the door, yelled through the open windows (covered with screens), tried calling the home phone, and even brought along a borrowed pot and a metal spoon to make noise.

The neighbors gathered to watch the situation with great amusement. This was prior to TV being available, and was much more entertaining, to boot.

Finally, in a fit of pique, my Mom turned the hose on through the screen, to try to wake my Father, who was snoring away on the couch.

No luck. It wasn’t until an hour later that he woke up, noticed my mother sitting on the step, and unlocked the door to let her in. “I was really sweating”, he said, having noticed that he was soaking. When she explained what had been happening, he didn’t believe her, at first. Only the amused agreement of the neighbors who had enjoyed the real-life reality show finally persuaded him that she wasn’t lying.

Afterwards, she told her coterie, “If I’m found dead, like Marilyn Shepherd, and he says he was asleep, believe him.” Sam’s lawyer should have used that experience in court – he could have escaped the conviction. It was one of the factors that made my mother such a champion of the doctor’s story (Well, the other was that she knew the family. Sam Shepherd’s doctor father had treated my grandfather when he suffered a cerebral hemmorhage.)

Well, that’s my family’s experience with me – when I sleep, I sleep – hard and deep. As a kid, I slept through a tornado tearing up my neighborhood. I’ve slept through firefighters tramping through my apartment (not just the building, my bedroom). My husband stopped them from trying to resusitate me by saying, “Don’t worry, she always sleeps like that.” The only reason I’ve not slept through a hurricane is that I’ve never been in one.

It would be no surprise to know that I was a bedwetter into elementary school – once I enter that deep sleep level, even the need to take care of business can’t shake me.

For those who don’t know the levels of tornado weather, a tornado alert indicates that the conditions are right for a possible touchdown, a watch means that the local weather spotters are scanning to see if there is a tornado forming in the broader area, and an warning means, head for the basement, the thing is in the neighborhood.

I missed the whole thing. If it had hit, I would have been taken completely unaware. Fortunately, my house is sturdy, nothing happened, and the storm is past.

I’m the same way about prep. I do prepare – I lay in basic supplies – food, water, candles, matches, flashlights. I’ve got auxiliary power resources, I don’t let the gas tank go to empty, and I keep a watch on neighborhood conditions.

I lock my doors and windows. I use deadbolts, and have glass block windows in my basement. I use my home security system, and keep my radios charged (And, I have one of those multi-power units meant for hooking up a dead auto battery, which is kept charged. In a pinch, you can attach things you need to run – phone chargers, emergency medical equipment, a small refrigerator – to it for some time).

But, I don’t go nuts. I’m not even a member of a neighborhood watch (Although I am getting to know my neighbors. That task is assisted by walking my dog several times a day. He is friendly and approachable, and I’ve gotten to be someone that is recognized.) I plan to get to know them better as the weather warms up, and we are outside more.

I’ve started attending meetings and get-togethers of the local radio group. Gradually, I’m getting to extend my comfort zone, and sink into the community.

Maybe I’m wrong, and I should be making my checklists, battening down all entrances, and laying in the firearms. From what I see, in my neck of the woods, we haven’t reached that level of need. We aren’t desperate.

Some are. They live in unstable neighborhoods. They are without nearby family. Crazy people roam their streets. For such people, it’s LONG past the time for frenzied preps.

My thinking is that any outbreaks of violence will be largely localized. How bad it gets will depend on local and regional conditions. Those in large cities will need to make their decision – stay or go. Their lives will depend on the answer.

The wild card in this is the supply chain. If medical or fuel supplies become irregular or unavailable, chaos could result. I’ve begun stockpiling necessary meds, and am currently looking into solar panels, which I will be attaching to my back deck/attic windows. If all I do is to charge a few batteries or power supplies, that may easily fill my needs.

Where I live, access to food is close. I’m in the process of laying in a garden (Flowers first – they are food for the soul.) My family has organized for a blitz this Saturday – they will be descending upon me, tools in hand, to assist me with some long-overdue chores. One of those chores is prepping the vegetable garden.

I will be traveling to a store in mid-OH for some canning supplies with my sister on Monday. It will be a girl-bonding trip, as well as a chance to pick her brains about her long experience with container gardening and canning.

I’m planning to hit the near farmer’s markets and food stands, and get to know who might have meat/hard to get produce and milk. Active farms are close by, and many of them sell locally (Not to national and international corporations. The prep community panic about foreigners – and Bill Gates – hoovering up our food supplies is unlikely. There’s a hell of a lot of farmland in the USA.)

I’ve lived in this house during some very cold days. Even with fuel prices up, and no change in my insulation, the monthly cost on non-budget billing never exceeded $150/month. Summers are even easier to manage – just head to the basement for cost-free cooling off. (Life in relatively temperate Northern OH is pleasant in the warmer months. Most of the older homes have basements, which stay at a comfortable temp. One advantage of the older homes is that they were built with solid materials, designed for keeping things warm in winter, and cool in summer. Having access to windows that open, and can be used to set up cooling cross-breezes with little use of energy, is a blessing only one who lived in the muggy South can properly appreciate. The same with winters – if temps plunge, just close off rooms, lay down draft-dodgers along the doors, and use layering to adjust your personal comfort level.)

How are you managing? Is your home set up for power, food, and meds? Most importantly, are you keeping a cool head, and sleeping well at night?

Having Some FUN Today!

For some idiot reason, I got on Twitter in the last week. I’ve been having fun finding stupid Tweets from Leftists, and Re-Tweeting them, with Quotes.

A Time For Perspective

     Geez, I get to write about what I want so seldom these days…

     Yes, yes: Politico has leaked a draft Supreme Court opinion, purportedly written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, which strikes down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The majority opinion in that case was written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun. Of the two dissents from it, the most memorable was the one written by Associate Justice Byron White, who called the decision “an exercise in raw judicial power.” Controversy of several kinds has swirled around the decision ever since.

     Controversy will surely swirl around this one, if it’s delivered as Politico has reported it.

     I fear developments of several very ugly kinds, including violence. The Left has made violence and intimidation into its key weapons these past few years. It’s likely to haul them out again for this occasion, as no issue other than abortion-on-demand unites Leftists with such fervor. But to get the level of violence the Left seeks will require that people remain essentially ignorant both of the original Roe v. Wade decision and the legal consequences of its reversal. So I’m here to change that.

     First, the Roe decision did not enshrine a Constitutionally protected right to abort. It simply struck down any state laws pertinent to abortion, under a rationale that abortion exists within a Constitutional “zone of privacy.” It also established the “trimester” scheme under which the states would still have the power to regulate or ban abortion in the last trimester of pregnancy. The contradiction between those two assertions has seldom been addressed, yet it is vital to understanding why Roe is considered bad jurisprudence by so many Constitutional scholars.

     Second, reversing Roe would not establish a federal ban on abortion. It would merely return the question to the legislatures of the states as had been the case before Roe, when some states forbade abortion completely, some regulated it heavily, and others paid it no attention. It’s a good bet that the more left-leaning state legislatures would permit abortion virtually throughout pregnancy, while the more right-leaning ones would either ban it or regulate it heavily.

     Third, we have the related issue of stare decisis, “Let the decision stand” in English: the guideline under which the Court has tended to reaffirm previous decisions rather than strike them down. Stare decisis is not Holy Writ. It appears nowhere in the Constitution. It’s merely an expression of the Thomist maxim that stability in the law is itself a public good: i.e., that changes to the law, even when they’re right and necessary, will always come at a cost. When the cost of an immediate, dramatic change would be severe, the change must be phased in or smoothed out in some way, to give private citizens ample space and time to adjust their plans in light of the new state of legal affairs.

     Given the factors above, if there’s a great foofaurauw over the reversal of Roe as I expect, it will be founded on misconceptions throughout. But we have yet to address the extra-legal aspect of a reversal of Roe: the moral dimension. This is far and away the most important issue of all.

     The authority of the Supreme Court, while high, is not supreme above God’s Will. If you regard the developing embryo / fetus as an innocent human life, which I do, then abortion is morally wrong. The Fifth Commandment (Catholic enumeration) forbids it. Whether Roe is reversed or allowed to stand, it would change nothing. No law, and no court decision, can affect the moral quality of any action. As Herbert Spencer said a century and a half ago:

     I asked one of the members of Parliament whether a majority of the House could legitimize murder. He said no. I asked him whether it could sanctify robbery. He thought not. But I could not make him see that if murder and robbery are intrinsically wrong, and not to be made right by the decisions of statesmen, then similarly all actions must be either right or wrong, apart from the authority of the law; and that if the right and wrong of the law are not in harmony with this intrinsic right and wrong, the law itself is criminal.

     Whether the Alito draft decision will stand as leaked, and what the temporal consequences will be in either case, we can only wait and see. As for the eternal consequences, your conscience – the channel through which God speaks to each of us of right, wrong, and His Will – must be your guide. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

     Have a nice day.

Catching Up on My Personal Life

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. I’d been experiencing a lot of stiffness and pain in my joints (very possibly related to the weather, although aggravated by water retention and a shoulder injury). As a result, I’ve been going to doctors and physical therapy, and resting when I could. Not much time or inclination for writing or, really, much of anything. I barely had the energy to get the dog out for short walks a couple of times a day.

But, I’m better. Almost back to normal. And for the last few days, I’ve been trying to catch up on household tasks – laundry, bills, cleaning – and begin to make some plans for the next few weeks.

I had been planning to make this year’s Dayton Hamvention, the first in several years. Not gonna happen. I don’t want to put the dog in a kennel, and I have no one who is able to take him in for a few days, right now. I’ll check out the Livestreaming channel, and resign myself to missing it again.

With the help of my grandson (eager to make some cash for his school volunteer trip in June to CA), I got my yard in shape and got the asparagus and strawberries planted – they’re a dormant planting, and I’m told they will bear this year.

I had been planning to plant more, but, given the frost we had the night before, decided to wait another week for direct seeding. I have LOTS of seeds – all heritage/non-hybrid. My goal is to plant fence to fence, and save any seeds that are available from the crops I get. I don’t know about every place, but we keep getting sporadic shortages in different foods (mostly staples and meats/fish, but also some fresh foods/produce).

I am planting some beans, and plan to experiment with drying them (this year, that won’t be critical, I’m thinking). I’m looking to buy some dried beans, too, and store them in airtight containers. If protein gets expensive or hard to find, beans will fill in a lot of gaps. For that purpose, I’m also planning to set up a basement growing station – not hydroponic, just with some grow lights. I already have auxiliary power, in the form of some emergency 12-volt storage, and will be adding some solar panels (Harbor has some good starter kits). the way my deck faces (south), I plan to put some panels on a detachable hinge, and use them to keep my storage needs met, and reduce my use of city power. I’m not planning on tying into ‘the grid’. That puts the electric company in a position that they could mandate you provide them with power, while forbidding you to use it for your own needs.

Paranoid? No such thing in difficult times.

The weather has improved – temps are generally up, the amount of rain has diminished, and the plants are JUMPING ouf of the ground. It does life my spirits to see the flowers – no, most are not edible (and many of my neighbors use those lawn care services), but ya’ gotta feed the soul, too.

Here is one of the plants that have cropped up in the lawns (could be a weed, but it’s a beautiful color).

If you can identify it, put it into the comments.

A Time For Candor

     There is no longer any politics in our political contests. There is only slander.

     As pleased as I was to see Andrew Cuomo resign the governorship of New York, the accusations that elicited his departure depressed me rather badly. Cuomo, for all that I dislike him as a man and a public official, was brought low by a charge increasingly deployed against persons of whom nothing else negative can be said: allegations of sexual impropriety. Why that weapon? Was there nothing pertinent to his gubernatorial responsibilities that could be held against him?

     Deanna Fisher’s article of this morning highlights the prevalence of the sexual-impropriety weapon:

     [W]hen, at a rally on Sunday, Trump endorsed Charles Herbster for governor, it drew some attention. While the gubernatorial race in Nebraska hasn’t exactly drawn a ton of national attention, Herbster has quite a lot of baggage.

     Eight women have accused Herbster of sexual misconduct, including state Sen. Julie Slama (R), who said he reached up her skirt and touched her inappropriately in 2019, according to The Nebraska Examiner.”

     Since the publication of the allegations, one of Herbster’s other alleged victims, Elizabeth Todsen, went public about her claims after first being included as an anonymous accuser in the report.”

     And yes, while these claims are just claims, can I just remind everyone that Andrew Cuomo was never charged with anything either, and had an equal amount of women accusing him of sexual misconduct?

     Such allegations are being used to cripple candidates for high office. No, that’s not new. Neither will I insist that such claims are always entirely fallacious. But consider them in isolation from their political utility for a moment. Consider their typical age. What substantiable accusation of bad behavior is allowed to “age in the can” for as long as these?

     Such accusations are mounted against any male candidate who cannot account for every instant of his life from puberty onward. Rare is he who is not required to face them. It gives new emphasis to Mike Pence’s policy of never being alone with any woman other than his wife.

     The allegation of sexual impropriety has become the flamethrower of politics. It wounds, sometimes fatally, even without needing substantiation. The accused seldom recovers his reputation, regardless of exoneration or subsequent revelations. I mentioned Jack Ryan only a couple of weeks ago. Do any of my readers remember Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones, wrongfully accused of raping Tawana Brawley?

     Brawley’s claims in the case captured headlines across the country. Public rallies were held denouncing the incident. Racial tension climbed. When civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, with attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, began handling Brawley’s publicity, the case quickly took on an explosive edge. At the height of the controversy in June 1988, a poll showed a gap of 34 percentage points between blacks (51%) and whites (85%) on the question of whether she was lying.

     Sharpton, Maddox, and Mason generated a national media sensation. The three claimed officials all the way up to the state government were trying to cover up defendants in the case because they were white. Specifically, they named Steven Pagones, an Assistant District Attorney in Dutchess County, as one of the rapists, and called him a racist, among other accusations….

     In 1998, Pagones was awarded $345,000 (he sought $395 million) through a lawsuit for defamation of character that he had brought against Sharpton, Maddox and Mason. The jury found Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones, Maddox for two and Mason for one. The jury deadlocked on four of the 22 statements over which Pagones had sued, and it found eight statements to be non-defamatory. In a later interview, Pagones said the turmoil caused by the accusations of Brawley and her advisers had cost him his first marriage and much personal grief.

     Pagones had also sued Brawley. She defaulted by not appearing at the trial, and the judge ordered her to pay him damages of $185,000. The $65,000 judgment levied against Al Sharpton was paid for him in 2001 by supporters, including attorney Johnnie Cochran plus former businessman Earl G. Graves, Jr. In December 2012, the New York Post reported that Maddox had paid his judgment of $97,000 and Mason was making payments on the $188,000 which he owed. Brawley reportedly had not made any payments. The following month a court ordered her wages garnished to pay Pagones.

     Does anyone need to be reminded about Christine Blasey Ford – or Anita Hill?

     Haven’t we had enough yet? Isn’t it long past time that our legal system put a sharp temporal limit on how long after the purported event such a claim can be made? Isn’t it long past time that We the People demand that such claims be made promptly, no more than a day or two having elapsed since the event, if we’re to give them credence?

     There will come a time when we will look back on all this and ask “What were they thinking?” – and I don’t mean the persons who were accused. We are the worst sort of fools to give any attention or respect to these accusers, whose shrill denunciations and implausible claims of victimization (often stale by twenty years or more) deserve only to be snorted aside with contempt.

Need To Know

     No, this won’t be about federal security regulations.

And I know a father
Who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons
For the things he’d done.
He came a long way
Just to explain,
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and headed home again.

[Paul Simon]

     The more indie fiction I read, the more convinced I become that the mortal sin indie writers most need to unlearn is telling.

     If you’re a fledgling fiction writer, it’s probably only a few minutes since you last heard the maxim “Show, don’t tell!” You might have wondered why all the writing gurus seem to be shouting it at you. It’s important, rube! “Telling” is for dry-as-dust presentations done in conference rooms. “Showing” is our duty and prerogative as creators of fictional people with fictional problems to solve. It’s not too strong to say that the opportunity to show rather than tell is why we write fiction in the first place.

     But then, a lot of younger and newer fictioneers don’t know how to distinguish the two. Hence this essay.

***

     Here are a couple of examples from one of my novels:

     Example #1:

     “Why go at all? What makes it so bleeding important?”
     She studied his face in the evening gloom.
     “I’ve already told you,” she said. “It was my grandparents’ deathbed request. Grandmere Teresza said it was what she and Grandpere Armand wanted for me. They left me five million dekas’ seed money. But you knew all that. What else can I say?”
     He took a moment to respond.
     “Yes, you’ve told me all that,” he said at last. “But that just tells me it was important to them. What made it important to you?”
     She started to reply, bit it back, and thought about it.
     “You’re right,” she said. “There’s a missing step. It is important to me. It’s the thing I want to do most in all the world. It has been since I was eighteen years old. Even with all the expense and the effort and us about to be apart for three years. But I’ve never thought much about why that should be.”
     He waited in silence.
     She put her hands to the sides of his face, pulled it close, and rubbed her lips gently over his. His lips parted and she ran the tip of her tongue over their inner surfaces.
     “Do you like that?” she whispered into his mouth.
     “You know I do,” he said.
     “But why?”
     “What? Because—” He paused, drew a little back, and looked at her curiously. “I just do. It feels good. It’s you, you loving me. It’s a little reminder of all the rest of our intimacies. Why do you ask?”
     “Because,” she whispered, “I don’t have any better answer. I want to go to space, Martin. I just do. I want to wander the stars. I want to see other worlds, and rub their soil between my fingers, and learn to love them as I’ve loved this world. I need to know whether there’s life on any of them. I hope there is. It will mean more to see and learn…more to love.”

     Example #2:

     Not today. I’m not leaving tonight. I’ll have some dinner, get a good night’s sleep, load that crap tomorrow morning and leave in the afternoon.
     Mustn’t forget the medipod. Maybe leave in the evening.
     No need to hurry.

     Althea’s experiences of pain, of heartbreak, of love lost and love regained, of tensions within her clan and of clashes with others, had toughened her without deepening her. She had not acquired the knack for analyzing her own motives.

     Both passages are from Freedom’s Scion, the second novel of my Spooner Federation Saga.

     The first passage is a “show:” Althea, my protagonist, undertakes to show her husband Martin what it is about her that moves her to travel among the stars. She reveals an aspect of her character to him with words and actions. It was my hope that the reader would get a deeper sense for her from that scene, as most of the novel concentrates on her achievements in the physical sciences and finance.

     The final paragraph of the second passage, over which I spent a far longer interval than you might have guessed, is a “tell.” Althea is alone, inside a rock orbiting her homeworld of Hope. She’s deliberately delaying her departure from Hope’s solar system, and rationalizing her decision to herself. I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to “show” the aspect of Althea’s character that she’s concealed from herself, so I “told” it through a direct narrative intrusion. I still wonder, twelve years after writing that passage, whether there was a better way.

***

     “Show, don’t tell” is about character and motivations. If your story is to be affecting and compelling, it must bind the reader to the story’s protagonist(s), and steadily deepen that bond through depiction of his / their character(s) and motivational structures. Even if your tale is told in the first person, your narrator must refrain from telling the reader why your characters do what they do. The events of the story must show that:

  • Through what the character says,
  • Through what the character does,
  • Through what other characters say about him.

     For at every moment of the story, the central question in the reader’s mind is:

Why?

     His need to know why is what keeps him reading. Otherwise he wouldn’t have continued on after the first paragraph. If you simply tell him why, his emotional payoff will be low to nonexistent. His interest in your other fiction will diminish.

     Any time your tale starts to reek of “telling” – including extensive exposition on features of the setting – you’re in danger of losing your reader. I’ve tossed a lot of books into the trash, figuratively speaking, for that reason. So draw the moral.

     If you’re an aspiring fiction writer, here’s an exercise for you. What follows is one of my earliest short stories. Read it with a critical eye. Decide where it “tells” and where it “shows.” Perhaps even make notes about how the “tells” could be transformed into “shows.” I’ll be interested in your conclusions. For the rest of my Gentle Readers, just enjoy the story.

***

Class Action

     Kenneth MacMillan laid the filing on the scarred pine workbench and stared into Jared Tillotsen’s eyes. “You can’t be serious.”
     The lawyer’s mouth tightened. “I am.”
     “There have to be a thousand reasons why I can’t hear this.”
     Tillotsen nodded once. “I await Your Honor’s decision and explanation.”
     MacMillan snorted. “Don’t get shirty with me, Jared. I’ve known you since…” The judge trailed off. Mentioning that was in bad taste, and always would be. “First, the class needs at least one stakeholder who’s willing to appear in open court.”
     Tillotsen’s lips quirked at the pun. “I have one.”
     “You’re kidding!”
     Tillotsen said nothing. His eyes rested lightly on the judge’s countenance.
     “With all the restrictions we’d have to put on him, with all the hazards he’d have to face to come before us, he’d still be willing to do it?”
     Another nod. “It’s a she, actually.”
     MacMillan waved the irrelevancy aside. “Second, no precedent has been established under which one of them may prosecute a legal action against one of us, much less all of them against all of us.”
     “I’m aware of that, Your Honor.”
     “It doesn’t appear to disturb you.”
     “It’s why I brought the case to you.”
     I should have known my reputation would land me in hot water someday.
     “Well, third, what justiciable controversy exists to propel the action?”
     Tillotsen pointed to the stapled sheaf of papers on the workbench. “It’s on the front page, Your Honor.”
     And indeed it was, in the blackest of letters:
    

MURDER.

     MacMillan tore his eyes from the accusation and regarded the lawyer at length.
     Tillotsen wasn’t looking well. He’d lost a great deal of weight. Most of his hair was gone. His pallor was extraordinary, as if his flesh had been coated in plaster. The effort of standing upright appeared to tax him to the edge of his resources. He probably thought he disguised it well, but MacMillan had caught him leaning against the crate beside him, and panting as inconspicuously as he could.
     “You still aren’t…?”
     Tillotsen shook his head.
     “You’re going to die, Jared.”
     Something like amusement flickered across the lawyer’s face. “Not likely, Your Honor. Now, as to the matter at hand — ?”
     MacMillan ground his teeth. He shifted his weight and nearly toppled the stack of detergent boxes on which he sat. “You ask far too much. I can’t let this proceed for all the reasons we’ve already discussed and a great many more.”
     “I ask,” the lawyer said in a formal cadence, “that you do justice. We have a theory of rights that explicitly authorizes this case.”
     “We have a theory? No, Jared, they have a theory. We have laws, no more. And none of our laws even nod sideways to your action.”
     Tillotsen nodded and shoved his hands into his pockets. He stepped around the crates and mop buckets to stand before the sole window in MacMillan’s chambers. The building’s parking lot was all that lay beyond. The lights showed few cars scattered below. The lawyer stared down at them as if they could be decoded into a message from God.
     “On what are our laws based, Your Honor? Are they merely matters of expedience, little adjustments of social mechanisms that have no moral significance?”
     MacMillan would have flushed, were he able. “You know better, Jared. They codify the basis of our survival. There’s no deeper morality than that.”
     Tillotsen awarded the judge a knowing smile. “You never disappoint me, Kenneth. How many years, how many cases have I brought before you? And you have yet to miss the point. You always find the principles beneath each case, and you never betray them. Even when I’ve lost, I’ve never disagreed with you at the end. And that’s why I’m here tonight.”
     MacMillan started to speak, stopped and clamped his mouth shut much too hard. He suppressed a grunt of pain. “You expect me to elucidate a theory of rights that will cover this case, for the purpose of allowing the case to proceed in the first place, when all our legal practice and everything deducible from it forbids me even to look at your papers! Jared, the strain of being your hero is getting to be too much for me.”
     Tillotsen turned back to the window. MacMillan rose and went to join him.
     The darkness was at its deepest point. The brilliant arc lights shone upon an utter stillness below. Few of the office tower’s windows were illuminated. MacMillan and Tillotsen were close to having the building to themselves.
     “I’d like a dinner break, Jared. It’s been a long evening, and I’ve had nothing for quite a while.”
     Muscles rippled along the lawyer’s bony jaw. MacMillan was struck by a realization. “Your… client is in the building, isn’t she?”
     Tillotsen continued to stare through the window. “She is.”
     “Which room?”
     “Six twenty-four.” The answer came without hesitation, delivered in a mechanical monotone.
     She must be as extraordinary as he is.
     MacMillan laid a hand on the lawyer’s frail shoulder. “I’ll have to sleep on this, Jared. What you’ve asked of me is far more than I can commit to after an hour’s thought. It goes to the root of our society’s existence. It could affect more than even you realize.” He clapped Tillotsen’s shoulder gently. “Go to your client. Take her home, make sure she gets there safely. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have an answer for you. And, Jared?”
     “Yes, Your Honor?”
     “Don’t expect too much from me.”
     Tillotsen nodded and went silently from the room.

***

     The sound of the door opening catapulted Ann Mears into a state beyond terror. She leaped from her chair, dropped to the floor and slithered under the pile of scrap cardboard, struggling to restrain a shriek.
     “Ann?” Jared Tillotsen’s voice was soft in the darkness. “It’s all right, it’s only me.”
     That’s bad enough.
     Tillotsen’s reassurance wasn’t enough to bring her out of concealment. She held still and listened until she was certain that only the lawyer was there with her. When she’d finally garnered the courage to leave the shelter of the piled garbage and stand upright, she found him leaning against the doorjamb, a glint of kindly humor in his eyes.
     “The judge suggested that I take you home,” he said gently. He started to offer her his arm, then chuckled and let it fall.
     “What…” She swallowed and tried to calm herself. “What did he say?”
     “He needs time, Ann. Your kind don’t have standing, by the usual reading of our laws. Therefore, the class action is ab initio invalid. The judge has to find a basis for even conceding that you and yours could file such a suit.” The corners of his mouth rose. “I think he wants to, but without a well reasoned basis, our people would simply ignore his decision.”
     “How long do you think it’ll take him to decide?”
     “He said to come back tomorrow. Can you?”
     “Can your friend stay with Melissa again tomorrow night?”
     Tillotsen nodded.
     She offered up a silent prayer for strength. “Then I’ll be here.”
     He gestured at the door, and followed her out.

***

     MacMillan couldn’t sleep. He writhed in the confines of his bed, shifting from one position to another, but his real discomfort marched within his skull.
     Jared Tillotsen was an idealist and a crusader of the best kind, or the worst, depending on whether you agreed with him. In MacMillan’s eyes, the law could boast no brighter jewel. Tillotsen would take no case that didn’t square with his sharply defined views of justice. He was bulldog tough once the contest was joined. Yet he never deviated from principle. When he lost on the merits, he accepted the defeat and tried to learn from it. When he won, he was as gracious as anyone could ask.
     The lawyer idolized Kenneth MacMillan. The wonder of receiving such a paragon’s esteem was exceeded only by the burden of carrying it.
     Tillotsen had laid a blueprint for the destruction of their society before MacMillan and had asked him to rule on it. His belief in the rightness of the cause was written on every fiber of his rapidly deteriorating body.
     There will come a point where his course will become irreversible. Even if he recants, his body will no longer be able to recover.
     MacMillan was certain that the lawyer knew as much.

***

     The judge nodded once, very slowly. “It can proceed.”
     Delight spread across Tillotsen’s face. “And the basis, Your Honor?”
     MacMillan grinned. “You put me in an impossible position. I had to ponder it for quite a while. What basis exists in our jurisprudence for determining whether a particular creature does, or does not, possess rights? Only a hearing in a recognized court. I cannot reject Miss Mears’s claim summarily based on no standing, because the rejection itself would entitle her to file for certiorari as to why I had rejected it. One way or another, she’s entitled to stand before me and demand to know whether she has rights in our eyes, and why. That alone would compel me to concede them.”
     “And all her people as well?”
     The judge nodded again.
     Tears welled in Tillotsen’s eyes. He leaned heavily against the pallet of paper towels beside him. “Thank you, Kenneth. Have you set a date?”
     “Monday next, in the main room in the basement. Your action will be first on the docket. I expect it’ll be heavily attended, so you’d better be ready.”
     Tillotsen nodded without looking up. The weakness that was stealing over him had never been more visible. MacMillan fought down the urge to take the lawyer in his arms.
     “Jared, forgive me for saying so, but I can’t believe that you’re going to last until then.”
     Tillotsen pulled himself upright, forced himself to stand straight. “I’ll be there, Your Honor.”
     “I hope so, considering all the trouble this will make for me.” The judge shifted uneasily on his crate. “You’re going to lose the class action, you know.”
     The lawyer grinned. “I expected to. No matter what you decide about standing, it would be ex post facto to permit any prosecutions. But that’s not the main event.”
     “Jared, do you really think they’ll help us, after all the history we have with them?”
     “Yes. The basis of every unforced exchange is mutual advantage, and we have a lot to offer them.”
     And they to us, of course. “Do you suppose I might meet your client now?”
     Tillotsen’s grin vanished. He was silent for several seconds. “Do I have your word that she’ll leave here unharmed, Your Honor?”
     “Jared!”
     The lawyer’s jaw clenched. “Please just say yes or no, Kenneth. I haven’t made arrangements to protect her from you tonight, and you can see that I’m not up to the job myself.”
     The judge sputtered. “I could simply follow you to where she’s waiting, if that were on my agenda.”
     Tillotsen would not relent. “Yes or no, Kenneth?”
     A hand closed around MacMillan’s heart and squeezed. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and rose. “You have my word that I will not commit physical violence against your client, nor permit any other of our people to do so, tonight or on any other occasion. Now please, Jared, bring her here.”
     The lawyer turned and left.

***

     Ann Mears was barely able to walk. With each step her knees tried to buckle and send her to the floor. Her backbrain screamed that she was going to her death. Only by separating her body from her consciousness and running it on automatic was she able to continue forward.
     At some point during the walk from room 624 to the fifth floor janitor’s storage area, Tillotsen had taken her arm. She hadn’t noticed at first, but when the frigid clasp on her flesh penetrated the fog around her thoughts, her entire body turned to ice. Yet she would not pull away. She did not want to offend him. She did not want to discover the consequences.
     He ushered her into the storage room with gentle, formal courtesy. A dim light seeped in from the parking lot. It silhouetted a stooped male figure perched upon a cardboard box. The figure did not move, but allowed Ann and Tillotsen to approach.
     “Good evening, Miss Mears. My name is Kenneth MacMillan. I’m pleased and proud to meet you at last.” The old man smiled.
     At the sight of those pronounced canines, so well suited to their legendary purpose, she almost succumbed to the urge to flee, but Tillotsen squeezed her arm gently and she stood her ground.
     “Good evening, uh, Your Honor. Is that the title you use?”
     MacMillan nodded. “Just as do judges of your kind. The dignity of the court and all that. I suppose Jared has told you that I’m going to permit your action to go forward?”
     “Yes, Your Honor, just before. Thank you.”
     The judge chuckled. It was the strangest sight Ann had ever seen. There was no bloodlust in the eyes under those bushy gray brows. There was wisdom, and honor, and a considerable amount of respect. Ann’s fear subsided.
     “I…” MacMillan halted himself and gave another chuckle. “I was about to say I’ve been dying to meet you, but that wouldn’t be quite right, would it? I’ve been looking forward to this encounter, Miss Mears. Jared has told me only a little about you, but just on the basis of your presence before me, I think it safe to say that you’re the most courageous person your species has ever produced.”
     It pricked a laugh from her. “Thank you, Your Honor. But if you could hear my knees knocking you might not think so well of me.”
     “To the contrary, my dear.” The judge waved at Tillotsen. “Jared has said he can protect you for the hearing on Monday. Have the two of you discussed it?”
     She glanced up at the lawyer. “We have.”
     “And you’re satisfied?”
     She nodded.
     “Then I suppose there’s no more to be said about the practical arrangements. But Miss Mears, please take care in all things.” MacMillan’s expression became somber. “You’ll be the first living human to appear in one of our courts in all our history. Those around you will have no cause to love you and every reason to wish you ill. You must avoid anything that might be construed as a provocation, no matter how elaborate Jared’s protections are. No religious emblems. No perfume. No mirrors. For the love of God, no wooden stakes! And don’t approach anyone in the room without Jared’s approval, and him at your side. Are you comfortable with those restrictions?”
     She swallowed. “It won’t be a problem, Your Honor.”
     “Good.” The judge seemed about to dismiss them when she found her voice.
     “Sir, why did you decide to allow our suit? It has to be the biggest threat to your people that they’ve ever faced. If we win, your own laws will forbid you to feed on us.”
     MacMillan was silent for a long interval. Ann wondered if she had triggered something she would regret. Tillotsen remained impassively still beside her.
     “I am not an elected official, Miss Mears. I hold my responsibilities because our people hold me in high regard. In part, because I am the oldest of our kind.
     “There are not many of us in the world. How could there be? Perhaps twenty thousand on this continent, and perhaps twice that on all the others together. We will never be a populous species. You living humans, who… provide our sustenance, must always outnumber us dramatically.
     “For at least ten thousand years, there has been war between us. I, whose memories span three hundred seventy-two years, have never known anything else. Though we feed upon you, ours is a miserable and frightened existence, a continuous cowering in the dark before your superior numbers and other advantages. The human who believes in the reality of our kind may fear us, if he should chance to leave the lighted places, but the vampire fears humankind in all places and times.
     “War is no species’s preferred state, Miss Mears. We want peace, just as you do. We want stability, just as you do. We want the privilege of walking the earth openly and without fear, just as you do. But Jared has convinced me that until we cease to look upon you as our cattle, that can never come to pass.
     “So on Monday, I will take a bold step. I will allow you to claim rights before me, rights to life, liberty and property that would not accrue to a mindless meat animal, and I will uphold the claim. News of my decision will spread through our numbers from that night forward, and our world will change.”
     “Will it, Your Honor? Laws seldom change the behavior of the living.”
     MacMillan grinned ruefully and stared at his knees. “I know, Miss Mears. Before I… crossed over, I was a judge among living men. Vampires are different. We have always had very little, and our laws have always been few.” He looked up with an expression of entreaty. “We’ll be gambling that your world will change as well, though it will surely take longer. Will you do what you can to hasten it?”
     Ann nodded. “I will, sir.”
     MacMillan rose and moved slowly toward her, one hand extended. Tillotsen released his grip on her arm, allowing her to stay or go as she wished.
     She raised her own hand and took the judge’s in a soft clasp. His flesh was cool to the touch, as was Tillotsen’s, but it closed on hers with a suggestion of strength that no creature, living or undead, would dare to challenge.

***

     “He’s a great man.”
     Tillotsen squeezed her hand. “He is.”
     “Will he be putting himself in danger?”
     The lawyer shook his head. “Kenneth MacMillan could never be in danger among other vampires. You would never believe the love we have for him. He’s the glue that holds us together.”
     “Still…”
     Another squeeze. “Don’t worry about it, Ann. Just be ready on Monday.” He opened her door for her, then gasped strangely and bent double, hands pressed to his middle.
     She stooped and took his head in her hands, and his eyes met hers. She could not read those eyes, the eyes of a man dead longer than she had lived. But her concern seemed to reach him, and he straightened and smiled.
     “I’m all right.”
     Vampires lie no better than humans.
     “How long has it been, Jared?”
     He shrugged. “I’ve ceased to keep track. A month, maybe.”
     “Since you met me, right?”
     He nodded.
     In time, it will change. We’ll come to accept them, make provisions for them, learn how to synthesize what they need. But for now, only the old ways will do.
     “Melissa’s not going to make it, you know.”
     She would not have believed that he could become paler still, but he did. “Are you sure?”
     “Yes,” she murmured. “Jared, would you… change her for me?”
     His mouth dropped open. “You honor me more than I can say, Ann.”
     Not half as much as you deserve.
     “It will have to wait until after the hearing on Monday, though. I can’t risk it before that. I’ve grown too weak.”
     Ann gathered both the lawyer’s hands into her own. “Thank you, Jared. For everything. When…” A rush of grief flooded through her, momentarily washing away all her words. “When she wakes up as one of you, I didn’t want to have to fear my own daughter.”
     “Or for her to fear her mother,” he whispered.
     Ann Mears came to a decision. She gestured Tillotsen across her threshold. “Come in, Jared.”
     His eyes clouded with confusion. “Why, Ann?”
     She reached up and pulled his head down to hers, brushed her warm lips across his cold ones.
     “I want to fix you something to eat.”

==<O>==

Copyright © 1996 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

A reckoning in the offing.

Tim Knight of Slope of Hope, a technical analysis site, has an interesting piece about the immediate spot of housecleaning likely to result in the wake of the forthcoming bit of market bumpiness. Well, to be precise, he describes this as a “financial cataclysm” brought about by the modern American religion of kissing every boo boo in this vale of tears.

We have not had an honest-to-God bear market in ninety years. But what about 2008? Or 2001? Or 1987? Yeah, yeah, the market went down, it’s true, but in every single down-market since the 1930s, the federal government has intervened to stop the bleeding. The natural, organic, and marvelously healthy process of a sweeping financial cleaning hasn’t been permitted since the days of FDR, since the nanny state government feels duty-bound to spare its citizens anything that might hurt even a little bit.

So it’s not looking good he thinks because of the accumulation of froth and he has written an entertaining article about “what segments of our society will be purged when the dust settles.” Or the federal punch bowl is taken away.

It’s an interesting list. Adios to froth, hype, cuteness, and billion-dollar parsley conglomerates. Recommended.

Notes
[1] “Scheduled to be Slayed.” By Tim Knight, ZeroHedge, 4/30/22 (bolding removed).

Fetishes And Fears

     Regard well:

     That’s a crucifix pendant. It’s a large one as such things go, because it’s meant to be worn outside the clothes. I don it when I leave the house.

     Does anyone else out there wear a crucifix pendant? Or a Miraculous Medal? Perhaps one of those cute “bracelet rosaries” that have recently become popular?

     These are commonplace among Catholic believers. I don’t mean to denigrate them by referring to them as fetishes. Yet for many, that’s the role they fill.

     The word fetish has several meanings. Here are the ones listed at Dictionary.com:

fetish n:

  1. an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.
  2. any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion: e.g., to make a fetish of high grades.
  3. Psychology. any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

     The first meaning is the one relevant to today’s tirade.

     An inanimate object is being used as a fetish when its owner treats it as a form of empowerment or protection. An unfortunate number of persons wear religious symbols or icons for that reason. However – assuming the object in question won’t stop bullets and isn’t usable in combat – religious symbols don’t have any such power. Their proper use is to function as reminders of the faith the wearer follows, including its prescriptions and proscriptions.

     Our fetishes are often the mirror image of our fears. Were we without fears, we’d seek no protection. When a fear impinges, we tend to reach for the fetish item relevant to it. It’s a behavior related to superstition, though not the same.

     A society clouded over with fear will sometimes recur to its fetishes. Such fetishes usually have a traditional aspect. They seldom afford any protection.

     My mention of Walpurgisnacht below started me thinking about Americans and our fetish behavior. A couple of our fetishes have come in for some rather harsh testing. A couple of others are about to be proved worthless.

***

     I own a number of firearms: shotguns, rifles, and a triple-MIRVed Minuteman missile (counterforce-targeted) that’s currently too expensive to fuel. I don’t get to practice with them as often as I’d like. (Regarding the missile, I’m sure you can understand why.) However, I don’t consider them protection. I keep them unloaded…well, except for the missile…and therefore, were I under imminent threat of harm, I’d have to load one of them before I could bring it to bear. Upon being asked to “Wait just a moment while I fetch the ammo for this thing,” most attackers would decline to cooperate. So my firearms’ value as protective devices is zero.

     However, my guns aren’t fetishes. If I were to cherish then as protection, then they would acquire a fetish nature. That’s how fetishes come to be: a dubious expectation of the object eclipses its objective properties.

     The armed forces of the United States are acquiring a fetish nature. Their value as protection for America’s peoples and borders has been declining for some time. One reason is the emphasis military planners place on fighting wars in distant lands, for causes unrelated to any American value or interest. Another is the refusal of the political Establishment to wield our armed forces as defenders of our nation rather than as tools with which to implement social policies and influence other nations. We who support America’s military are increasingly without the protection it could provide us.

     There are three documents at the foundation of the American polity:

  1. The Declaration of Independence;
  2. The Constitution of the United States;
  3. The original Bill of Rights.

     We tend to wave those documents at one another when we feel threatened by political developments, especially under the current regime. But how much protection have they afforded us in recent years?

     What, no hands in the air? Then let’s jump to the chase: none.

     The members of the ruling class have decided – in several cases, explicitly and openly – that they need not respect the constraints those documents established. For example, it’s been one Hell of a long time since the enumeration of powers in the Constitution was regarded as binding. It’s been even longer since the Tenth Amendment was treated with any respect at all. Appealing to those documents when facing hostile government action has proved their impotence. The erection of the Disinformation Governance bureau within the Department of Homeland Security is merely the most recent demonstration.

     The political framework expressed in our much-revered founding documents no longer has any force. It is unwise to fetishize it…yet many do so, each and every day.

***

     Paper constitutions raise smiles on the faces of those who have observed their results. – Herbert Spencer

     It’s in the nature of paper to be permeable. Ask any woman who’s put her faith in a restraining order, only to be victimized by the very person against whom the order was aimed.
     Paper cannot protect us, no matter how elegant or forceful the words upon it. They who rely upon the protection of paper have made a bet they’re sure to lose. The proof is before us; it would be prudent to take it seriously.

     There will come a time, quite soon by my reckoning, when the Usurpers and their hangers-on will wield actual, deadly force against Americans who are merely exercising their rights. The establishment of the Disinformation Governance bureau is the clearest indication we’ll ever get that those rights, most emphatically including the ones “guaranteed” by the Bill of Rights, are not respected by the powerful, if indeed they ever were.

     The defense of your life, liberty, and honestly acquired property lies in your own hands. You might get some support from your neighbors. Look nowhere else. In particular, do not fetishize the great documents of our nation’s founding. Today they have no force that the political Establishment intends to respect.

     Have a nice day.

Stolen From Bookworm

     Simply this:

     It says a lot, doesn’t it? And for the cherry on top, those illustrious names are all white males. No wonder the activist identity groups are up in arms about them.

     White men invented the modern world. The lunatics raving about “cultural appropriation” would prefer that you not notice that. Just a quick reminder with which to kick-start your 30th of April.

     (P.S.: Don’t forget to mount the hex signs and double-lock the doors before sunset! This is Walpurgisnacht, you know.)

There’s that.

That this “Defensive Alliance” [sic] of 30 members takes ZERO issue with the criminal activities of its Head Member demonstrates that it is a corrupt a lawless Organization in totality.

  1. Bloody Coups effected by its lead member go unquestioned
  2. Invasions + Wars of Aggression by its lead member go unquestioned
  3. Civilian deaths + destruction of public infrastructure by its lead member go unquestioned
  4. Targeting and Murder of Heads-of-State by its lead member go unquestioned
  5. Unlawful seizure of Sovereign Wealth by its lead member go unquestioned
  6. Complete disregard of Law of War / UN Charter / Treaties and Conventions by its lead member go unquestioned

Comment by The Archivist on “White House Says It Would “Strongly Support” Finland & Sweden NATO Membership.” By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 4/30/22 (bracketed text in original).

The “I Can’t Even” Edition

     Do you have “I can’t even” days? Given my commitment to staying in touch with developments so I can blather about them here, I have a lot of them. Usually I keep them to myself, but today I…can’t even.

     To the strong of stomach: Feel free to read on. To others: Perhaps it’s a good day to surf straight over to Sunny Skyz and not look back.

***

1. Political Dynamics and Psychopathology.

     This article by Julian Conradson bridges the gap between “you’re not alone” and “you’re BLEEP!ing crazy:”

     National pollster Richard Baris, colloquially known as “the People’s Pundit,” is calling attention to a massive issue that plagues Republican governance in the United States – GOP voters despise the elected officials who are elevated to office, and vice versa.

     This unfortunate situation is reflected in recent polling data, according to Baris, which shows GOP leaders, like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, having critically low favorability among Republican voters. McConnell’s approval rating, specifically, is in the toilet, with just 9.7% of Republicans having a “very favorable” opinion of him. Astoundingly, the number is just two points higher than with Democrats, who checked in at 7.6% “very favorable….

     To make matters worse, as Republican leaders justify the vitriol against them by constantly selling out to the liberal establishment, Liberals actually like and support the elected officials they choose because they feel represented, which gives Democrats a massive advantage at the polls while the Republicans are busy stabbing their voters in the back.

     Yet we in the Right continue to vote for GOP nominees in the hope that “this time it will be different.” What was it Einstein said about insanity?

***

2. But Wait: There’s More!

     We’re all familiar by now with the Left’s caterwauling over Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and his public commitment to freedom of speech. Facebook, Twitter, and Google did terrible damage to the 2020 election, as has been revealed. But what ought to receive even more attention was the collaboration of prominent Republicans with the Left’s effort to prevent Trump from gaining the White House in 2016. In case you can’t remember, have a few links:

     The Republican Establishment – its strategists, major donors, and most prominent elected officials – were appalled by Donald Trump. They refused to vote for their party’s nominee. So in 2016, the Establishments of both parties were aligned with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, spiting the GOP primary voters who compelled the party to nominate him.

     How do you think those folks treated the 2020 election? Were they in on the steal? If not, did they know about it and quietly accept it? Hey, that outsider got past the fences once. The way he’s been showing us up, we can’t let him have a second term!

     Partisanry is just another kind of joinerism – and joinerism is madness.

***

3. A Reminder.

     The masks are off. The Establishment now feels safe about letting us all know what it’s doing – to “protect us from ourselves,” of course. At least, it did until Elon Musk purchased Twitter. This article should stir a few memories:

     Of all the hysterical leftist reactions to Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter on Monday, MSNBC host Ari Melber’s was easily the most revealing.

     “If you own all of Twitter or Facebook or what have you, you don’t have to explain yourself,” he gravely intoned during his show Monday evening. “You don’t even have to be transparent. You could secretly ban one party’s candidate or all of its candidates, all of its nominees, or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else, and the rest of us might not even find out about it ‘til after the election.”

     You don’t say. This was in fact the way the left used social media to win the 2020 presidential election. They even admitted it openly in a stunning yet largely forgotten February 2021 article in Time magazine entitled “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved the 2020 Election.”

     Please read the article in its entirety. It’s my fervent hope that someday, the skullduggery it chronicles will be regarded as synonymous with shamelessness.

     [A quick aside about the last sentence in the citation: In my role as the Web’s official Grammar Nazi, I must point out that entitled means “deserving of.” It does not mean “this is the name of the thing.” The correct word is titled. Take note.]

***

4. If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going…

     …any road will get you there:

     Yes, this actually happened today. During her press briefing Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House doesn’t want to “define what success in Ukraine looks like,” but demands U.S. taxpayers to give them another $33 billion toward it.

     A few moments later Psaki admits the money will be spent subsidizing not only Ukraine, but NATO allies who are suffering the results of inflation.

     Psaki stated the Biden demand for more money “is not all for Ukraine, it’s also for some of our Eastern European partners and others to help support them during this time as well.” Wait, now we are paying to subsidize the economy of EU countries while our own economy is contracting?

     “Sundance” at The Last Refuge is one of my heroes. The man is relentless about covering the developments of the day. His is another article to read in its entirety – and do watch the embedded video. After taking some Xanax or Paxil, that is.

***

5. Oh No! The Aborigines Are Offended!

     Dave Blount has the story:

     The satellites we rely on for communication are offensive to aboriginal belief systems. The moonbats at Phys.org sound the alarm:

     Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples worldwide have observed, tracked and memorized all the visible objects in the night sky.
     This ancient star knowledge was meticulously ingrained with practical knowledge of the land, sky, waters, community and the Dreaming—and passed down through generations.
     One of the most well-known and celebrated Aboriginal constellations is the Emu in the Sky, which appears in the southern sky early in the year. It is an example of a dark constellation, which means it’s characterized by particularly dark patches in the sky, rather than stars.
     Conversely, space technology companies such as Starlink are increasingly competing to dominate the skies, and potentially change them forever.

     By a remarkable coincidence, Starlink is run by SpaceX, which in turn is run by Elon Musk, who recently became a thought criminal by promising to bring free speech and transparency to Twitter. No doubt Musk has committed many more offenses against the marginalized that the media will expose in the coming months.

     Whether anything will come of this is unclear, but that Phys.org, once a reliable journal of developments in the physical sciences, should even take note of the abos’ whining about their “Emu in the Sky” is bizarre. Apparently, there’s at least some SJW / snowflake representation on Phys.org’s editorial board.

     Dave puts the proper coloration to this in his closing paragraph:

     Christians are relentlessly mocked for their faith. But savage beliefs are catered to obsequiously. Expect liberal authorities to signal their virtue by imposing an indigenous religion preservation tax on satellites.

     Yeah.

***

6. A Quick Reminder About Political Amorality.

     The late Lyndon B. Johnson, once the president of these United States, was staunchly against the Negro “civil rights” movement as a U.S. Senator. Apparently that served him well enough in attaining a Senate seat. However, when he was president, the political winds shifted, and he shifted with them:

I'll have those n**gers voting Democratic for the next 200 years. - Lyndon B. Johnson

     That’s Democrats for you. Actually, that’s politicians for you. Anything for votes.

     “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them, I have others.” – Groucho Marx

***

     Now do you see why I can’t even, Gentle Reader?

No Law Abridging!

     [The following essay first appeared at the Palace of Reason on December 12, 2003. In light of the Usurper Regime’s new Disinformation Governance agency Ministry of Truth, it feels appropriate to repost it at this time. – FWP]

***

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

     The citation is, of course, Amendment I to the Constitution, an integral part of the document and one of the most revered legal proscriptions, both in theory and in practice, in the history of the world. There are only two possibilities for interpreting that passage:

  1. It means what it says;
  2. It means nothing.

     This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

     The second citation is from Article VI of the Constitution of the United States. It’s the most important paragraph in the whole document, for it sets the dictates of the Constitution above all other considerations. There are only two possibilities for interpreting this passage:

  1. It means what it says;
  2. It means nothing.

     The late Associate Justice Hugo Black liked to say “I have always read ‘no law abridging’ to mean ‘no law abridging.’” He said it often. And indeed, it is rather difficult to evade the plain meaning of those three plain words.

     If the Constitution means what it says — that is, if choice 1 in both cases above is the correct one — then two days ago, the Supreme Court declared itself to be a lawless organ in service to a totalitarian State. The five Justices who voted to uphold the clearly unConstitutional McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act placed their notions of “compelling government interest” and “the good of society” above the Supreme Law Of The Land, which for two centuries it has been the Court’s sworn duty to safeguard.

     Let that thought sink in for a moment. Five Justices of the Supreme Court have abrogated the very contract from which their authority and responsibilities derive. There’s no room for hedging here. They didn’t just interpret an ambiguity in the Constitution in a way that, though novel, could be squared with the public meanings of words and the traditions of Constitutional law. They dropped the document in the mud and pissed on it.

     No, it isn’t the first time, only the most egregious. Only the most appalling.

     It appears that power has gone to the Justices’ heads. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes once said, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” The warning sounded by this statement has gone unheeded.

     As long as freedom of speech and of the press were respected, there was a chance that the country might rally, might right itself and demand the rolling-back of government’s usurped powers in a voice too loud to be ignored. If matters as of Tuesday are permitted to remain as they are, that chance is gone.

     The Supreme Court is not alone in its perfidy. The McCain-Feingold Act passed by hefty margins in both houses of Congress. President Bush signed it. The three supposedly counterpoised branches of the federal government have colluded to nullify the Constitution from which they derive their powers.

     Perhaps the legislative authors of the bill hoped that President Bush would rescue them by vetoing it. If so, they misled themselves.

     Perhaps President Bush hoped that the Supreme Court would rescue him by striking the Act down on First Amendment grounds. If so, he misled himself.

     The five Justices in Tuesday’s majority had nothing to hope for. Nor does the country, unless We The People rise in anger and defiance. If this Supreme Court ruling is not completely disregarded by the press — if it is not the explicit subject of an overwhelming campaign of civil disobedience — the word “freedom” will have lost all meaning for Americans.

     A man is not free because he’s permitted to vote for his political masters. The subjects of the late, unlamented Soviet Union enjoyed that “right.” So did the subjects of Saddam Hussein.

     A man is not free because some portion of his earnings is still his to spend on a variety of attractive goods. Not if the government can punish him for choosing goods it has not approved.

     A man is not free because the long arm of the law has not yet descended on his neck. That’s more properly called a stay of execution.

     A man is free if, and only if, he has the unchallenged right to do as he damned well pleases with his life, his property, and with any other responsible, consenting adult, provided only that he respects the equal freedom of all other men. That clearly includes the right to buy space for a political ad from any newspaper or broadcast organ willing to sell it to him.

     So long as speech was protected, Americans could claim with some justice that we were in some sense free. If Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision prevails, we will not be able to call ourselves even partly free. We will be a people in chains. Chains forged to protect incumbents from having their records in office publicized in the press as they stand for election. Chains forged to increase the power of the Old Media, granting their journalists and editors the last word on political campaigns. Chains forged by (and for) men to whom “the people” are not only not sovereign, but are a force to be fastened down and made to do as they’re told by those who know better.

     If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home…. We ask not your council or your arms…. May your chains [sit] lightly on you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. — Samuel Adams

     “No law abridging” means no law abridging!

Bombardment

     I’ve been told, by Gerard Van der Leun among others, that the image displayed in this recent piece is a hoax or a put-on. That may be so; I’m unable to trace the image’s true provenance. However, I’ve also been told that the image did appear on Facebook, and did persist there, for a time at least. As I have no Facebook account – Facebook won’t allow me one, filthy right-winger that I am – I’m equally unable to verify those statements. I must leave the further investigations of these things to others.

     But I have a few other images in my archives that might be worth pondering and discussing:

     I’m told some of these were taken from Facebook, others from Twitter. (No, I don’t have a Twitter account either.) They exhibit a remarkable variety, but a near-perfect consistency of message. Do any Gentle Readers insist that they are / were all hoaxes or put-ons?

     The immediate reaction of the normal, healthy human being to such things is extreme revulsion, edging toward violence. How could anyone advocate the sexual exploitation of children? Yet in many places, the sexual exploitation of children is openly practiced and protected by local custom. The evidence, both circumstantial and testimonial, is too copious to dispute.

     Though it was massively unwise, persons from those cultures have been admitted to the United States in large numbers. (Time was, we called them “lesser breeds without the law,” but that was when we were more confident in ourselves and less reluctant to face unpleasant truths.) Is it implausible that they should include persons who want to bring that custom to our shores? Is it unthinkable that our homegrown perverts should have taken a cue from those others?

     Pedophilia is not a subject that demands an elaborate exegesis. It’s villainy most foul. It’s the sort of crime that, when discovered, once prompted an immediate execution, trials and jury verdicts be damned. God may forgive it, but decent persons cannot. Indeed, we must not.

     Yet, as the images above indicate, we are being bombarded with propaganda to the effect that pedophilia is “just another sexuality.” The very people who condemn us for “misgendering” them are angling for this unfathomable vileness to be accepted. Just one more fruit of the poisonous tree that gave us abortion as a “woman’s right to choose,” I suppose.

     Did I misattribute the image in that earlier piece? Perhaps; I’m inclined to trust Gerard, at least. But I find it difficult to imagine that the images above are all slanderous hoaxes, spread about in a foul attempt to slander persons of other politics, especially in the wake of the Epstein / Maxwell prosecutions. The North American Man-Boy Love association (NAMBLA) is real. Prominent writers have embraced its cause. And do please remember those other cultures, and the many representatives thereof that reside among us today.

Pearls of expression.

The Russians are a weird people. For some reason, known only to their bizarre selves, they object to German invasions of their country. And not only that: they have the inexplicable habit of strenuously opposing another such eventuality.

Nuclear War?” By Walter E. Block, ZeroHedge, 4/28/22.

Perhaps Nothing Could Have Prevented It…

     …but whatever the case, actual government censorship has arrived:

     The Department of Homeland Security is setting up a new board designed to counter misinformation related to homeland security, with a focus specifically on Russia and irregular migration. The board will be called the “Disinformation Governance Board, and will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz….

     President Biden has decided the federal government will launch a Disinformation Governance Board under the authority of the Homeland Security Department.

     Did you just think they would let you have free speech back?

     You can see where this is going, can’t you, Gentle Reader? People such as your humble Curmudgeon will shortly come in for government attention. Visits from unpleasant persons with federal badges. We’ll be told that it’s not in the national interest for us to speak our minds. And our visitors will hint at corrective actions that might be taken should we persist.

     Countering “misinformation,” you see, is so much easier when the purveyors of such “misinformation” are first persuaded to cease to promulgate it. It probably won’t be overt, at least at first. But it’s the logical trajectory of things, given the developments above.

     Combine this with…well, with everything else:

  • The drive for involvement in the Ukraine / Russia war;
  • The ongoing destruction of the dollar;
  • The shortfall of energy supplies;
  • The accelerating food crisis;
  • The Usurpers’ weakening grip on power.

     Damn it all, we waited too long. We should have locked, loaded, and marched immediately after it became indisputable that the 2020 elections were stolen. What do we do now?

     Don’t expect the midterms to make a difference. This measure is being put in place to ensure their theft, using essentially the same techniques that purloined the 2020 elections.

     Welcome to the Banana Republic of the United States.

     I think I’m going to get drunk.

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