Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” Series

     You say you’ve had enough about zombies? The horror no longer horrifies, and the humor has been milked dry? I’d have agreed with you...three days ago. That was when I read Sarah Hoyt’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Black Tide Rising series:

  1. Under a Graveyard Sky
  2. To Sail a Darkling Sea
  3. Islands of Range and Hope
  4. Strands of Sorrow

     Yes, I really did read all four books in the space of two days. I’m tempted to go back to the beginning and read them a second time, and I shall tell you why.


     Welcome to the world of H7D3, a tailored virus with some interesting effects. First, it will give you the flu. It seems to be the flu, anyway. But with this flu, you get a bonus: a second, central nervous system-invading virus, that turns you into what, for concision’s sake, I’ll call a zombie. It’s about 99% effective.

     Mind you, it doesn’t make you the “classical” sort of zombie who’s died and returned to a kind of pseudolife. You don’t need to die first. But in all important regards, you could have stepped right out of any of the Resident Evil video games. It makes you non-rational, very bitey, and beyond all hope of a cure. The only thing to do with (or for) an H7D3 zombie is kill it.

     Nasty, eh? Let’s hope not to get this little bug. And indeed, a vaccine is possible...but to make it, you have to do some rather unpleasant, nominally criminal stuff. Besides, it takes a lot more time to make it than H7D3 takes to propagate. So if I may recur to the vernacular, the world is screwed.

     But some people are prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. Among them is the family Smith:

  • Steven John Smith, former Australian paratrooper, naturalized American citizen, and high school history teacher, moniker Papa Wolf;
  • Stacey Smith, unsung engineering genius and wife of Steven Smith, moniker Mama Wolf;
  • Sophia Smith, elder daughter of Steven and Stacey, age 15, moniker Seawolf;
  • Faith Smith, younger daughter of Steven and Stacey, age 13, moniker Shewolf.

     These four escape infection by grabbing a sailboat and taking to the Atlantic. But that’s not all they do. Not by a longshot.


     After several weeks at sea, Papa Wolf decides that he and his family are going to take up arms against the zombies. Why not, after all? Papa Wolf’s background has equipped him rather well for paramilitary operations on land or sea. Moreover, he’s trained the other members of his family to a terrifyingly high standard. Emphasis on the terrifyingly, in at least one case.

     There are, of course, other survivors. H7D3 leaves about one percent of the human race unaffected, whether from natural immunity or prior isolation. So the family Smith sets out to find other ships at sea, extract any survivors, and forge a task force out of them. Military survivors are persuaded to join the effort. They must accept Papa Wolf’s informal command, which chaps a few fannies at first. But the Smiths’ bizarre and wholly unexpected level of competence at killing zombies and commanding others to do the same converts most rescued rather swiftly to the cause. More and more boats join Wolf Squadron’s seemingly ultra-Quixotic quest.

     (What’s that you say? Of course it’s called Wolf Squadron! What else would it be called?)

     The more survivors Wolf Squadron locates and extracts, the more it can extract and the wider its operational scope becomes. Yet despite this geometric process, and despite the rescues of some very high military officers, the Smith family remains in command of the effort.


     With that, it’s time to say a few words about the Smith daughters, “Seawolf” Sophia and “Shewolf” Faith.

     Seawolf, despite her youth and relative inexperience, proves to be quite a capable mariner – and in the fullness of time, a capable ship captain and division commander. No one takes her lightly...at least, not for long. Eventually she decides to acquire an additional skill: piloting a helicopter gunship. And yes, she’s just as good at that.

     Seawolf alone would make for an excellent solo protagonist. She has what it takes to carry her own stories. Perhaps some such stories will eventually be told. But Shewolf...

     Thirteen year old Shewolf is given to describing herself in rather modest terms. Consider this example from an exchange with a freshly rescued Marine drill instructor who unwisely takes her lightly:

     “I am a fucking psychotic bitch so far over the redline I can’t see it with an Abrams’ gunsight. I am a zombie-killing monster. All my Marines swear I have to drink a pint of zombie blood to wake up in the morning.”

     That description is both heartfelt and entirely accurate. As for what Shewolf means by “my Marines,” you’ll need to read the books. But as for what “my Marines” think of her, we have this equally heartfelt testimonial from Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tommy Sands:

     “These men are United States Marines, yes, and they will continue to do their duty. But they are Marines who have lost everything. Family, friends, buddies, country. We are one and all lost and adrift on a darkling sea. You, Miss Smith, have become not their pin-up girl but their heart and soul. They would follow me into hell. Charge any shore, face any fire. That’s what Marines do. I am their Gunny. If you hinted that Satan had a case of ammo you particularly liked, they would charge in without a bucket of water.”

     And every word of that is accurate as well.


     I’ve said enough, and to say more would involve spoilers. These books are much too good for me to spoil. So if you have even a little taste for military-flavored fiction, read them. I honestly cannot praise them highly enough.

Articles I Probably Won’t Be Reading Department.

First:
How Martin Luther Paved the Way for Donald Trump.
The skinny on why (((evangelicals))) support Trump. Coming soon: How Karl Marx Paved the Way for Barack Obama.

And:

Off to the Racists.
All your average leftist fruitcake earnestly wants to know about (((white nationalists))) and their (((sympathizers))) in the 2018 election (which just can’t come soon enough for the colonel).

Then:

How Progressives Can Engage Russia.
Defeating oligarchy is what’s for dinner apparently, no doubt involving a rollback of fedgov to constitutional dimensions 1791-like. Who hasn't heard of the leftist hatred of ALL concentration of power integral to any oligarchy worth its salt? Those wacky leftist originalists.

In The Nation, 5/14/18.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Masks Are Off

     They who operate “our” government-run indoctrination centers for the young and helpless will have no truck with anyone turning them into adults:

     On Friday, Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv went to a gun range to learn to fire a gun for the first time, alongside his father. He tweeted this:
     It was great learning about our inalienable right of #2A and how to properly use a gun. This was my first time ever touching a gun and it made me appreciate the #Constitution even more. My instructor was very informative; I learnt a lot. #2A is important and we need 2 preserve 2A

     There’s a bit of a surprise in there already: Kyle, who has been outspoken about the importance of the Second Amendment in absolute contrast to his rabidly anti-Constitutional classmate David Hogg, had never been to a gun range or shot a gun. I certainly wouldn’t have expected that. But Kyle’s father saw to that step in his son’s education on Friday, April 20, as a good American father should. Apparently Kyle found the experience both educational and enjoyable. So far, so good.

     But that’s not the end of the story. Here’s what happened to Kyle just yesterday:

     Near the end of third period, my teacher got a call from the office saying I need to go down and see a Mr. Greenleaf. I didn’t know Mr. Greenleaf, but it turned out that he was an armed school resource officer. I went down and found him, and he escorted me to his office. Then a second security officer walked in and sat behind me. Both began questioning me intensely. First, they began berating my tweet, although neither of them had read it; then they began aggressively asking questions about who I went to the range with, whose gun we used, about my father, etc. They were incredibly condescending and rude.

     Then a third officer from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office walked in, and began asking me the same questions again. At that point, I asked whether I could record the interview. They said no. I asked if I had done anything wrong. Again, they answered no. I asked why I was there. One said, “Don’t get snappy with me, do you not remember what happened here a few months ago?”

     They continued to question me aggressively, though they could cite nothing I had done wrong. They kept calling me “the pro-Second Amendment kid.” I was shocked and honestly, scared. It definitely felt like they were attempting to intimidate me.

     I was treated like a criminal for no reason other than having gone to the gun range and posted on social media about it.

     As no record of this interrogation exists, I cannot confirm what Kyle Kashuv asserts above. Nevertheless, the “interview” occurred; we have documentary evidence of that. And Kyle has no reason to lie. So these Broward County “armed school resource officers” and sheriff’s deputies, who hid behind their cars while Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people, felt it was their prerogative to berate Kyle Kashuv for...what?

     I think it’s about more than just reclaiming a bit of pride for the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. Don’t you, Gentle Reader?


     The educationist arm of the Left is absolutely determined that your children shall conform to their notions, not yours. Especially when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms and the exercise thereof. We have a previous example of this very thing:

     A New Jersey school district that allegedly suspended two high school students this week over a gun photo taken during a family visit to a private shooting range is facing community backlash and the threat of a lawsuit over district policies.

     The photo of four rifles, magazines and a gun duffel bag was shared by one of the students on the social media app Snapchat with the caption "fun day at the range," according to Lacey Township resident Amanda Buron, a family friend of one of the students.

     A screen capture of the image made the rounds among other students and later brought to the attention of Lacey Township High School officials. Buron said the students received a five-day in-school suspension for violating the school's policy on weapons possession.

     The parents in that New Jersey school district reacted as they should: with immediate outrage and promises of retribution against the school district. The district hastily made amends and changed its “policies,” which ought never to have addressed perfectly legal conduct outside of school time and off school grounds. It was heartwarming, especially as it occurred in New Jersey, which is notoriously anti-gun. But to have anything of the sort occur in Florida is doubly surprising. A few badly blistered fannies in Broward County are obviously aching for a salve for their wounded pride.

     The firearms-rights aspect of this, as important as it is, is secondary. What matters more is the attitude of the educationist establishment.

     A month ago, I wrote:

     So we have a coercively funded institution with national scope that has been fully conquered by the Left and is striving to exercise legislative, police, and judicial powers over American students – and by extension, over their parents. Moreover, I would posit that the reaction by the New Jersey parents cited above is atypical – that the usual response to an event such as the suspension of the Lacey Two is “What’s the use?” or “You can’t fight City Hall.” I’d like to be wrong about that, but I don’t think I am.

     The “public” schools must be destroyed. They must be ripped from the fabric of our communities. Their employees must be fired with prejudice: i.e., they must be excluded from any position in which they could repeat their crimes. Their physical facilities must be sold to private parties. No successor institution that shares their coercive powers can be tolerated.

     You might be asking why I consider that necessary. It’s quite simple: the “public” schools, and their ever-escalating exactions via taxation, are the major reason for the dwindling of private alternatives. Vanishingly few families can afford to pay school taxes, about which they have no choice, and the tuition at a private school as well. Moreover, the “educators’ unions” are aware of this. It’s part of the reason they demand ever more of our money. As for the few brave American families that opt for homeschooling, they’re under increasing legal pressure intended to make their choice effectively impossible, whether by expense or through intrusive monitoring that inherently makes the home school an extension of the “public” school.

     I expected a backlash over that piece, especially as it was referenced in several other places on the Web. I didn’t receive one. But here, too, there’s more than one facet to the evil gem of “public” education:

     Without the consent or knowledge of their parents, two classes of ninth-grade females at Western Albemarle High School (WAHS) in Crozet, Virginia, recently were exposed in a classroom lesson to explicit “how-to” videos on male and female sexual pleasure.

     Suggested to the school by Charlottesville’s Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA)—a sex education partner with several Albemarle County schools—the videos ostensibly were shown under the banner of “Family Life” education. One video, focused on “male pleasure,” and the other, on female “orgasm,” shocked and embarrassed many of the students.

     According to a knowledgeable parent, the twenty-eight girls involved, divided into two classes, saw one or the other of the videos but not both.

     The controversial exhibition was not originally included in the WAHS Family Life curriculum; however, a last minute insertion was proposed by SARA and ok’d by WAHS Physical Education Department Chair, Frank Lawson.

     In an April 2 email to Lawson, SARA representative Lexi Huston notified him of planned additions to the previously familiar curriculum, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Lawson expressed his consent:

     “Looks good – looking forward to it!”

     The Videos

     The salacious videos were produced by “sex educator and YouTube personality,” Laci Green, who frequently collaborates with Planned Parenthood. Her productions have been viewed more than 150M times, and they include such titles as:

  • Is Drag OK for Kids??
  • How Many Freakin Genders
  • How Do Lesbians Have The Sex???
  • Intersex
  • Abortion Under Attack
  • Condom Tips for the Ladies
  • BDSM 101
  • Squirting 101
  • 10 Tips for Hookups
  • Transgender Adventure!
  • Let’s Lose “Virginity”
  • Shaving Pubes
  • Laci’s Guide to Butt Sex
  • The Sticky on Semen!
  • Trumpocalypse

     Is there any Gentle Reader who thinks such “education” is properly within the purview of a “public” school? (Jokesters who suggest that we should “just leave out the ‘l’” will be tarred, feathered, and run off the Web on a rail.) More: Is there any Gentle Reader who thinks this was conceived (pardon the term) for the children’s benefit?

     Add that parents, when they learn about such “sex education,” frequently ask that their children be excluded from those classes, only to be told that the classes are mandatory and no child may be excepted.

     Still think the “public” schools can be “reformed?”


     I think the above incidents might have busted my outrage meter. I need no further evidence for myself – and I doubt I’d need any more to persuade any reasonably intelligent American parent of the toxicity of the “public” schools.

     The indoctrination of our kids into Leftist dogmas about things as fundamental as sex and firearms is bad enough. The use of governments’ coercive powers to deny us any alternative makes it even worse. I was tempted to repost this stunning analysis by physicist and fictioneer Hans G. Schantz, but I’ll trust you all to click the link and review it yourselves. For my part, I’ll repeat only this:

The “public” schools’ first and foremost aim is the exercise of police powers over the lives of American children.

     If there’s anyone with a counter-argument, I want to hear it now.

Monday, April 23, 2018

I Could Hide My Own Easter Eggs

It's been a few months since I last used my Raspberry Pi. About 6 or so. I forgot a lot.

Like, the root password.

Today, I needed to install a python package to run Chirp (which will run my new HF radio rig - if I ever get this update working).

Cannot remember my password. Nor, where I wrote down my password. Nor, much of anything.

And, after trying to get this corrected, I corrupted the SD card on which the OS was held.

So - now, I'm trying to download the NOOBS package, then re-install the system, then install the python update, then - and only then - install and run the Chirp app. And, get it to run my radio.

Which, I'm still learning how to use.

The good news/bad news - I made about 6-7 trips up and down the stairs to make the changes on my other computer. Good, because I needed the exercise. Bad, because - it took a lot of time.

Only after that did I realize that I could have just brought the laptop up to the attic.

I woke up feeling smart.

Not now, brother. Not now.

Monday Maunderings

     Yes, Gentle Reader: it’s another of the dreaded assorted columns!


1. Gender Benders.

     Today at The Scratching Post, concerned by the fad for androgyny and “gender fluidity,” the proprietor asks:

     [I]s this the result of the LGBT movement of the last ten years? Is there a certain amount of celebrity to be gained from appearing gender-fluid? Does it spice things up to have people wondering about you? Or is it that being explicitly a man or a woman is inappropriate these days?

     There are several ingredients. Possibly the most important one that’s been overlooked is the intensity among young Americans of the desire to “stand out” somehow. This has a highly ironic feel, like the old 60s & 70s trend of asserting your individuality by dressing and acting just like everyone else in your age group. Nevertheless, since World War II our younger folk have striven to distinguish themselves from their parents’ generation. Also, they seek to shock their parents “just enough” – i.e., enough to make Dad frown and Mom wring her hands, but not enough to put a stop to the remittances.

     It’s become increasingly difficult to outrage the old folks. We’ve already managed to endure homosexuality, bisexuality, cohabitation without marriage, casual drug abuse, and cosmetic alterations to the anatomy all the way from tattooing to the implantation of horns. What’s left?

     I predict that fairly soon some of our young’uns will start claiming to be aliens from the moons of Saturn, if not Ophiuchus 17.


2. Earth Day 2018

     To “celebrate” this annual occasion, on which know-nothings and socialists (pardon the redundancy, please) call for the return of Neanderthal primitivism, Jonathan Last would like to jog our memories about a certain Paul Ehrlich:

     Everyone is talking about the New York Times piece exposing how utterly wrong, willfully blind, and insanely dangerous Paul Ehrlich is, and has been, for the last forty-seven years. There’s video, too.

     This is great, I guess.

     What boggles Last’s mind – mine, too – is that despite Ehrlich having been wrong about absolutely everything he’s ever raved about, the glitterati continue to celebrate him as a contemporary prophet and secular saint of environmentalism:

     But here’s the thing: Even in the face of all of this, the elite caste has showered Ehrlich with awards and honors....

     Paul Ehrlich’s entire career stands as a monument to the ideological imperatives of the world’s elites and the extent to which they exist not just independent from, but in actual opposition to, both science, evidence, reason, and good faith.

     The very fact of Paul Ehrlich is an indictment of the bien pensant progressive order. And the New York Times—which is only half a century late to the party—has nothing to say about that.

     Read the full article for the details about those “awards and honors.” I was stunned. I expect you, Gentle Reader, will be too.


3. Trump’s Real Crime

     The Left, especially its above-ground political arm the Democrat Party, have relentlessly accused President Trump of “obstruction of justice.” the idea, of course, is to provide a plausible basis for Trump’s impeachment and trial. Of course their true beef with Trump is that he’s “not one of us,” and therefore wasn’t entitled to defeat their “anointed one:” Hillary Clinton, the woman virtually no one in America can stand to hear from any longer.

     The celebrated Angelo M. Codevilla lays out Trump’s real “crime” for us:

     America’s Founders, having revolted against a legitimate government that was justly reputed to be perhaps mankind’s most liberal, had to explain to themselves, to their contemporaries, and to posterity why what they were doing was just. All them had read and revered William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. But all the procedures described therein, of which the Americans approved, had been based on the idea that the sovereign power of the permanent state flows legitimately from the existence of the kingdom, which the king embodies. The easy part was to argue that King George III had forfeited that power by abusing it, and hence the regime’s legitimacy. The more significant challenge was to show that there is no such thing as a sovereign power that exists independent of the people.

     That was indeed the core American Revolutionary idea. But what aspect of contemporary government flies in the face of that idea?

     The justice that today’s ruling class seeks to impose is the unfettered discretion of the modern administrative state.

     Donald Trump is trying to obstruct these bureaucracies.

     Please read it all. It’s Codevilla, who’s always good, but this time around he’s also brief and laser-focused. Highly recommended.


4. A Little More Codevilla.

     Okay, it’s really a lot more. Codevilla is once again on the subject that brought him to national lay attention: the American political divide.

     Whoever was surprised by the hate-fest against the National Rifle Association and conservative Americans in general that followed the Parkland, Florida school shooting must not have been paying attention. Over the past half-century, a ruling class formed by our uniformly leftist educational system and occupying the commanding heights of corporate life, governmental bureaucracies, the media, etc. accuses its targets of everything from murder and terrorism to culpable psycho-social disorders (racism, sexism, and so forth).

     Leaders, marchers, and rioters speak from identical scripts. They do not try to persuade. They strengthen their own side’s vehemence. They restrict opponents from speaking on their own behalf, and use state and corporate power to push them to society’s margins. While demanding deference to themselves, they mention right-leaning Americans and their causes only to insult and de-legitimize them.

     Republican politicians and Fox News grant the respect denied them. They respond with facts and reason. But the Left’s reasoning is war’s reasoning: helping one’s own by hurting the enemy.

     This one will take my Gentle Readers a little longer to read. However, bear in mind that I disagree with Codevilla’s conclusion. There is no longer any willingness on the Left to “agree to disagree” with us. We cannot act “as if the other side did not exist.” (My reasoning is here.) Read it all anyway.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Free Fiction! (Sticky; Scroll Down For New Posts)

     From today, April 18 through Sunday, April 22, my contemporary erotic fantasy novel Priestesses will be free of charge at Amazon!

     Helen and Martine run "sex shops" in Los Angeles and New York, but they’re not prostitutes. They sell “novelties,” but they aren’t there to make a profit. In fact, they never ask for payment for their wares. They’re priestesses of desire, charged by a Power beyond the mortal realm with a divinely ordained mission: to spread erotic knowledge among those who need it...and really, isn't that all of us?

     For adults only.

Unsatisfactory Lexicon

     Political discourse, insofar as any remains that doesn’t involve epithets, slanders, threats, or actual violence, requires a lexicon: a set of terms whose meaning are agreed upon by all the participants. Without agreement on the meanings of the words we use, discussion of any sort is pointless, for we can convey neither evidence nor reasoning. In these United States in this Year of Our Lord 2018, we lack such an asset. My secret heartthrob Adrienne provides a case study:

     Yesterday at history club a gentleman informed me he was the token liberal in the group. He and his wife had been traveling for the past seven months so it was my first encounter with him.

     After declaring his liberalism he was quick to add that he was anti-abortion and pro 2nd amendment. Um, okay.

     My suspicion is always aroused when someone is so hasty to declare themselves in an almost confrontational manner with not a clue about the person to whom they are speaking and apparently no desire to find out.

     Finally I asked him what he believed that made him define himself as a liberal.

     He sat there for many minutes and if he had a trapdoor in his forehead I could have popped it open and witnessed the wheels of his mind churning at warp speed. It was clear no one had ever asked him that before because he finally answered, "I don't really know."

     The above is not an outlier; it is representative of the actual understanding, if I may use the term somewhat sardonically, of the term liberal at this time in this nation.

     Please read the rest of Adrienne’s post. She goes on to ask whether it remains possible to use the words conservative and liberal in a fashion that conveys usable information. It’s an important inquiry. The lack of an answer tells us quite a lot, if we’re listening.


     You can look up the words liberal and conservative in any dictionary. But you’d learn nothing that would help to explain the positions, preferences, and behavior of those who label themselves as one or the other. The same is true of several even more important words: rights, justice, and freedom. What they retain are only connotations; auras of significance that seldom attach properly to the specific ideas to which those words are currently applied.

     This separation of politically potent words from their actual meanings has been mostly deliberate. The Left wants to appropriate those powerful words to its exclusive use. They have emotional weight; they glow with an inherent merit, a kind of sanctity, that lends power to him who can wield them. But if we probe them for objective meanings according to contemporary usage, we get nothing but contradictions.

     Rights is probably the most important of the three. Ronald Dworkin called rights “political trumps held by individuals.” To claim a right is to argue that the referenced condition outweighs all practical concerns.

     When a Leftist asserts that illegal aliens have a right to remain in the U.S., he’s claiming that no other consideration could possibly matter. Border control laws? Port-of-entry laws? Customs enforcement? Extradition treaties? Sweep them away! There’s a right on the table.

     That is the current position of many who clamor for an “amnesty” for the approximately 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. at this time. Many; not all. Some argue on practical grounds. But the ones getting the most air time and column-inches are the ones screeching that everyone has a right to be an American.

     Consider in this light the demands of Leftists for guaranteed incomes, for a high minimum wage, for free higher educations for all, for “safe spaces” for innumerable minorities, and so forth. The word rights always enters the picture sooner or later. No other word can “trump” the legal and practical considerations that oppose their demands.

     The word is powerful. But according to current usage it has no objective meaning. The same is true for justice and freedom.


     Conservatives tend to be cautious about the use of rights, justice, and freedom. We generally think we know what we mean by them. However, we’re leery of going beyond the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States as amended. Even the most strident conservative advocate wants some scriptural basis in a claim of rights. As for justice, we tend to be only slightly less legalistic.

     Which is part of why when the shouting starts the Left’s screeching tends to drown out our arguments. We argue from tradition, whether legal, scriptural, or Anglo-American; they’re working with pure emotion, the easier to mobilize the troops.

     In this connection, freedom is more often used as a fundamental rationale than a debating point. Conservatives’ understanding of freedom – i.e., the absence of coercion or constraint from all areas of decision making that don’t involve force or fraud – has roots sunk a thousand years deep. Leftists’ conception of freedom is quite different: they see it as the absence of unfulfilled desires. They seek to elevate every desire to a right – except the desires of conservatives to be left alone in peace and privacy, that is – and to charge the federal government with the obligation to fulfill the lot of them.

     Isn’t it plain from the above that arguments between Right and Left are impossible to resolve? We don’t even agree upon the meanings of the words we use. How, then, could we possibly settle any more specific dispute?


     The most recent foofaurauw to claim national headlines and front-page space arose from the mobilization of high school students for various gun-control propositions. The Left has played that drama to the hilt. Most significant for this discussion, they’ve prattled about “a right to be safe.”

     When I first heard that notion put about, I could barely restrain my laughter. Yet it was a bitter thing, for millions of Americans have swallowed the “right” to “be safe” unreflectively. No one who has ever lived has been 100% safe – i.e., absolutely assured that he will come to no harm – regardless of who he was or where or when he existed. Danger inheres in every setting and every undertaking. We do what we can to eliminate as many risks as possible, especially when it comes to our children. We do a better job of it than any previous civilization. But we can’t eliminate them all.

     An example: While school is in session, a fire alarm is pulled. Classes begin evacuation procedures. During the evacuation, a student stumbles and falls. The student behind him trips over him, and the screams trigger a stampede. Several children are hurt; perhaps some are killed. This has happened more than once. No imaginable prior arrangement could reduce the probability of such a tragedy to zero.

     The “right to be safe” is thus both objectively meaningless and physically impossible. But this is the case with virtually every claim of rights that goes beyond “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


     I could go on. Sometimes I do. But the above will serve for the present. It’s my argument for not crossing rhetorical swords with someone on the Left. He could be 100% sincere; it matters not. If we don’t mean the same things by the words we use, we cannot communicate. We will resolve nothing.

     As for engaging the insincere Leftist, whose true aim is for unlimited and unbounded power over all of us...need you ask?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Exceptions

     Toward the middle of the excellent (though paranoid) 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor, we are treated to a brief exchange between a Deputy Director of the CIA, played by Cliff Robertson, and the Director, played by the late John Houseman. Houseman is reminiscing about his wartime experiences, and Robertson asks him, “You miss that kind of action, sir?” Houseman looks away briefly and replies, “No...I miss that kind of clarity.”

     Clarity in wartime is purchased at a high price. You must believe, absolutely and unconditionally, that yours is the side of right and justice, and that therefore whatever it takes to defeat the enemy is licit, perhaps even required of you. You must be able to shrug off “collateral damage,” one of the inevitable horrors of war, as “just one of those things.” And if you encounter an individual from the other side whom you cannot help but like or admire, you must invoke the Exception defense:

Smith: Xs are bad!
Jones: But you like Davis, and he’s an X.
Smith: Well, he’s an exception.

     The closer our political struggles come to outright warfare, the more prevalent the above mindset, and the rarer the Exception defense, will become.


     A few days ago, in commenting on Kevin Williamson’s brief tenure and sudden firing by The Atlantic, I wrote thus:

     Seriously, could anyone familiar with The Atlantic’s op-ed positions, tone, and readership have reasonably expected anything else? Could Williamson have expected anything else? Attempts by the Right to counter-infiltrate Leftist institutions always work out the same way: the infiltrator is hauled up and hanged with a maximum of fanfare. Kevin Williamson was no exception, nor should he have expected to be one.

     Leftist institutions such as The Atlantic are the ideological supreme commands of the enemy. They respect only power. They formulate and emit the General Orders to which the second and third-tier activists of the Left subsequently conform. When they seduce a conservative into their ranks, it’s with the intention of corrupting him, not debating or learning from him. We’ve known that for a long time. Since before the Journolist scandal, at any rate.

     Purity cannot contaminate filth.

     Today, Kevin Williamson himself provides a few observations:

     On March 22, the Atlantic announced that it had hired me and three others as contributors to its new section “for ideas, opinions and commentary.” In no time, the abortion-rights group Naral was organizing protests against me, demanding that I not be permitted to publish in the Atlantic. Activists claimed, dishonestly, that I wanted to see every fourth woman in the country lynched (it is estimated that 1 in 4 American women will have an abortion by the age of 45). Opinion pieces denouncing me appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Slate, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, the Guardian and other publications.

     The outrageous statement was a tweet: a deliberate attempt to provoke left-wing pro-abortion advocates. Here’s Williamson’s summary of the event:

     The purported reason for our “parting ways,” as Mr. Goldberg put it in his announcement, had nothing to do with what I’d written in my inaugural piece. The problem was a six-word, four-year-old tweet on abortion and capital punishment and a discussion of that tweet in a subsequent podcast. I had responded to a familiar pro-abortion argument: that pro-lifers should not be taken seriously in our claim that abortion is the willful taking of an innocent human life unless we are ready to punish women who get abortions with long prison sentences. It’s a silly argument, so I responded with these words: “I have hanging more in mind.”

     Now, it’s fairly well known that attempts at sarcasm are easily misunderstood. What’s less well known –less admitted to, at any event – is that an ideological enemy determined to bring you down will deliberately misunderstand anything you’ve said or written if it can serve as a weapon against you. Williamson himself failed to understand that:

     The remarkable fact about all this commentary on my supposedly horrifying views on abortion is that not a single writer from any of those famous publications took the time to ask me about the controversy. (The sole exception was a reporter from Vox.) Did I think I was being portrayed accurately? Why did I make that outrageous statement? Did I really want to set up gallows, despite my long-stated reservations about capital punishment? Those are questions that might have occurred to people in the business of asking questions. (In preparing this account, I have confirmed my recollection of what Mr. Goldberg said with Mr. Goldberg himself.)

     Instead of interviewing the subject of their pieces, they scanned my thousands of articles and found the tidbits that seemed most likely to provoke.

     The stunned tone in the above is the important aspect. Amazing that an intelligent man could be so blind.


     Persons in the Right, though we engage in the same sort of moral, ethical, and intellectual generalizations as anyone on the Left, are willing to use the Exception defense:

Conservative 1: Leftists are stupid!
Conservative 2: I recall you’ve spoken well of Davis’s intelligence, and he’s a leftist.
Conservative 1: Well, he’s an exception.

     Here’s the key insight, the one that Williamson and many, many other conservatives have missed:

Leftists never make Exceptions in a conservative’s favor.

     The Left’s mindset is far closer to the all-out-no-prisoners-war mentality described in the opening segment. Have a few thoughts about that from a former Leftist:

     For the millions raised as leftists, it is not an ideology; it is a culture. Since childhood, they have lived and breathed it every day in the home. They know nothing else. Like any culture, it is a way of speaking, thinking and acting, with its own narratives and rituals. Narratives are held sacred, repeated, reinforced and, over time, added to. That which challenges sacred narratives, even reality itself, is met with confusion and hostility. As with any aggressive, intolerant culture, if you enter it, it enters you.

     Contrary to opinion, leftism isn't just about hate. Leftists are more complex than that. From my time as a red diaper leftist, I can tell you that a whole range of emotions are involved. Hate, anger, fear, bitterness, jealousy, envy, rage, greed, pride, smugness and paranoia (not technically an emotion, but it is widespread among leftists)....

     Leftists combine child-like naïveté and paranoid aggression in all of their narratives. It is a remarkable and very damaging pairing. The child-like naïveté protects the narrative from facts while the paranoid aggression protects the mind from doubt. For red-diaper babies, this thinking competes with their normal emotional and intellectual development, causing an internal struggle that can go either way.

     This is a remarkably candid depiction of a mindset that, were it divorced from any political ideology or agenda, would immediately be categorized as seriously mentally ill. But note its purity. The Right is the enemy, wholly unentitled to any consideration one Leftist would allow another. Therefore all its representatives must be fought a outrance. The only acceptable outcomes are total submission and death.

     It’s been said many times, by many commentators, and now and then by your humble Curmudgeon: There’s a war on, but only one side is fighting.


     We in the Right, who hold to traditional notions about tolerance of dissenting views, have done our best not to hate the Left. We haven’t declared war on them. We have made many Exceptions for sincere and eloquent representatives of the Left’s views. That was William F. Buckley’s attitude: invite them on to the program and talk to them as reasonable people. In Buckley’s day it worked now and then.

     That time is behind us. Today only we in the Right make exceptions. The Left has a different approach, one that makes it plain that they prefer clarity, whatever the price.

Leftist 1: Conservatives are evil and must be destroyed!
Leftist 2: Wait, what about Davis? He’s a perfect gentleman and entirely reasonable.
Leftist 1: Are you going over to the other side? Conservatives are evil!

     Maybe not all of them “think” that way...but it’s the way to bet.

Pearls of expression.

FoggyWorld:

Contrary to public opinion, Trump seems able to play the long game. It's smart because look at all that is coming out.

ClickNLook:

What is coming out is: people are getting used to the understanding that they are not represented in Congress at all and that they can do nothing about it, but continue paying taxes.[1]

Notes
[1] "Sessions Threatens To Quit If Trump Fires Rosenstein." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 4/21/18.

Perilous dislocation.

If you put together the idea of dislocation mentioned below with my last post quoting Paul Craig Roberts on the failure of leadership throughout the West, you have the perfect recipe for catastrophe – incompetent leadership with no connection with the citizenry. The result is what we see – (1) Western suicide by immigration (and asinine "fairness" and "compassion" that drive it and a lot of other lunatic stuff) and (2) rushing to the precipice of war for absolutely no discernible reason.

I am not a man of any religious faith not least because I see no evidence of any Divine presence in the world. That said, I am still a committed agnostic in this area -- and a friend of the Christian religion in particular, let it be said -- but I have to say I see abundant evidence of something that looks an awful lot like the workings of a conscious, powerful, implacable, malevolent being in the world.

Up until 1914 it seemed that man was poised to enter a time of abundance and orderliness but what arrived was unbelievable slaughter and stupidity. Call it The Age of the Human Ego, if you will. The United Nations Charter was an attempt to reign in the demon of war but America, chief among nations, seems determined to shred that document and a lot else beside. "We're a gift to the world, people. And don't you forget it or we'll kill you."

I sure don’t remember buying a ticket for this particular ride and it sure isn’t at Disneyland.

Well, enough of this cheery discourse. Here’s Craig Murray’s take on what the best and the brightest have in store for us:

In this extraordinary war, where Saudi-funded jihadist head choppers have Israeli air support and US and UK military “advisers”, every time the Syrian army is about to take complete control of a major jihadist enclave, at the last moment when victory is in their grasp, the Syrian Army allegedly attacks children with chemical weapons, for no military reason at all. We have been fed this narrative again and again and again.

We then face a propaganda onslaught from neo-con politicians, think tanks and “charities” urging a great rain of Western bombs and missiles, and are accused of callousness towards suffering children if we demur. This despite the certain knowledge that Western military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have had consequences which remain to this day utterly disastrous.

I fear that the massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame. The dislocation of the political and media class from the general population is such, that the levers for people of goodwill to prevent this are, as with Iraq, extremely few as politicians quake in the face of media jingoism. These feel like extremely dangerous times.[1]

Notes
[1] "Tracing the Rush to War." By Craig Murray, The Unz Review, 4/15/18 (emphasis added).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Apologies!

     Please pardon me. I’ve been terribly distracted. I didn’t remember until just a moment ago that I hadn’t yet written something for today. You see, I’ve been...itching.

     That’s right. Itching. Not “itching to,” in the sense of wanting badly to do something specific. Just itching. Just itching. And trying my damnedest not to scratch.

     I’ve picked up some kind of skin inflammation. The first diagnosis was “eczema.” That was my nurse-practitioner Primary Care Provider. She recommended a moisturizer. Well, that didn’t sound too terrible...except that it was to be used in the shower, and I was forbidden to towel off. “You must air-dry, Fran,” she said in mellifluous tones, “or the moisturizer won’t sink in.”

     Two weeks of that changed precisely nothing. Except that the sores were becoming crusty, and it was getting harder not to scratch. So on the C.S.O.’s advice, I went to a dermatologist.

     The dermatologist, who’s about half my age – I know, specialists tend to be younger than general practitioners, but it still fails to inspire confidence – diagnosed my many red itchy spots as nummular dermatitis, and prescribed a corticosteroid cream. I, of course, looked up the term. It seems to mean “itchy red spots we haven’t got an explanation for.” That’s medical jargon for you.

     That was a month ago. The spots are still there – in fact, there are more of them, even more widely distributed – and they itch worse than ever. And I, knowing what little I know about such things, have continued to struggle not to scratch.

     Today I ran out of patience. Happily, the dermatologist was available to see me this very day. He looked at the new outbreaks, said “Hmm,” and asked if he could take a “punch biopsy.” I, not knowing what a punch biopsy is, shrugged and said okay.

     Well, now I know. Have you heard about “soil cores” and “ice cores?” The sort of thing that’s done to determine mineral distributions and such? This was like that, except performed on a human body. A Fran core, if you like. He didn’t need to reattach the remains of my arm, but I gather it was a close thing. He said he’d have a diagnosis for me in about two weeks.

     And I’m still too itchy to think straight.

     So, Gentle Readers, please don’t think ill of me for leaving you post-less most of today. All my considerable will has been dedicated to not scratching. It’s left too few brain cells unoccupied to treat you to a new screed.

     Pray for me. The C.S.O. has already started talking to gravestone carvers. Her sole uncertainty is what epitaph should go on them. HE DIED OF A RASH is just too...something.

Busy, Busy

I've been making a concentrated effort to get a qualifying quarter in Social Security (I'm one of the people that gets nailed by WEP - Windfall Elimination Profit - which takes a good-sized bite out out my EARNED Social Security check each month. Every quarter I add in, at this point, ups my check (slightly). I can get the FULL check if I can just work part-time for the next 13 years(?).

If I do, I'll be 80. Or more.

But, every little bit helps. So, I've been subbing in a nearby school system. It's well-run, so the process is not that tedious. About 14 days a quarter will do it - or, about 5 days a month. I started late, so am playing catch-up. I'm about 1/2-way there for this quarter.

I've also been perusing the political/social news, as I have time. One article caught my eye - an interview with Tucker Carlson.

I read a reference to 4th generation warfare today. I wasn't familiar with the term, so I looked it up:
Fourth-generation warfare(4GW) is conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politicscombatants and civilians.
If you read this, it shows that much of the political violence we've been experiencing lately falls under this category. It also explains why war as we have previously known it, cannot be fought with our usual forces and means.
In terms of generational modern warfare, the fourth generation signifies the nation states' loss of their near-monopoly on combat forces, returning to modes of conflict common in pre-modern times.
The simplest definition includes any war in which one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent non-state actor. Classical examples of this type of conflict, such as the slave uprising under Spartacus, predate the modern concept of warfare. 
I'm not impressed by the 'protections' that the prosecution has set up surrounding the evidence from Trump's lawyer. Neither, apparently, are most of the non-Leftist citizens.

It's too easy to gin up an accusation against a politician/public figure. Here are just SOME of the cases that occurred in the last decade or so.
Seven indictments, all by Democrat prosecutors against high-ranking Republican office-holders, and all with a potential to influence political control of some important government body.  Of the seven prosecutions, one (Greitens) has not yet gone to trial (and may never), one (Perry) was dismissed on motion before ever going to trial; but the other five all resulted in convictions -- all of which were subsequently reversed.  Of the five convictions, three were then undone by the trial (Stevens) or appeal (DeLay, McDonnell) courts in ways that precluded retrial, and one (Bruno) resulted in an acquittal on retrial.  Skelos awaits retrial.  The number of convictions that have stuck: zero.  Meanwhile, the Congress flipped from Republican to Democrat control after indictment of the Republican Majority Leader, the Senate got its 60th Democrat Senator just in time for the Obamacare vote, the governorship of Virginia flipped from Republican to Democrat just prior to the indictment of the outgoing Republican governor, and the New York State Senate flipped from Republican to Democrat majority after conviction of the Majority Leader.
FINALLY - Republicans are beginning to 'punch back'.

Speaking of 'punching back' - Mad Genius club has some thoughts about the Internet of Things, and Online Mobbing.

Perhaps those people who are loudly participating in the Howls Against Those Who Have Been Accused of 'Horrible' Offenses need to get their head out of their a$$ and consider following some good advice:

All else but detail.

The failure of political leadership throughout the Western world is total.
"The Trump Regime Is Insane." By Paul Craig Roberts, The Unz Review, 4/18/18.

International law.

Phil Giraldi provides a pretty good Cliff Notes version of the U.S. war on the sovereign nation of Syria:
Media coverage of Syria, apart from Carlson, scrupulously avoids the issue that the United States is in Syria completely illegally and has been cynically supporting terrorist groups in spite of its pledge that it is in the country to get rid of such vermin. It is a measure of how divorced from actual U.S. security America’s Syria policy has become that the White House has not hesitated to launch a second illegal cruise missile barrage against a government that hasn’t attacked the U.S. and doesn’t threaten Americans. Bombing the Syrian government hasn’t made the U.S. or any other country more secure, and it will likely weaken President Bashar al-Assad just enough to prolong Syria’s civil war and add to the suffering of the civilian population. It is a perfect example of a military intervention that is being done for political reasons with no connection to any discernible interests or overall strategy.[1]
I like the “scrupulously avoids the issue” of illegal war part. It’s typical of American political “debate” now. For example, what is endlessly repeated on the issue of immigration is that we need “comprehensive immigration reform.” What is rarely if ever stated stated is that (1) we don’t need reform of our immigration laws, we need enforcement of them and (2) we don’t need immigration at all. It’s never stated in the MSM because anyone who does state either proposition soon assumes the status of Sunday school picnic whore.

But back to the legality of our war on Syria, it’s amazing that our Constitution and the U.N. Charter are just air brushed out of the picture. Hillary Clinton’s take on the awkwardness of an uncooperative[2] U.N. Security Council suggests the official position on international law:

Russia will never support such a mission [intervention in Syria], so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council.[3]
Right. Just operate as though it doesn’t exist, treaty obligations be damned. Fortunately, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has the opposite view, stating at her confirmation hearing, “I will show [Donald Trump] that the UN matters.”[4] Oh, wait. It doesn’t all that much.
She [Haley] frequently tells Security Council members that if they fail to meet American expectations on UN resolutions, the United States will “go it alone.”[5]
Keep this in mind for the next time some cretinous U.S. official or TV personality says something about “the rule of law.”

Notes
[1] "Israel Continues to Wag the Dog for Middle East Wars.." By Phil Giraldi, Russia Insider, 4/18/18.
[2] I.e., insufficiently appreciative of how wonderful the United States are.
[3] Quoted in "Hillary's Sociopathic Wikileaks Emails: Kill Assad, Destroy Syria - Deep State Goal for 10 Years." By Patrick Fleming, Russia Insider, 4/19/18.
[4] "Nikki Haley at the UN: Agree With Us or We Go It Alone." By Barbara Crossette, The Nation, 9/14/17.
[5] Id.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Playing Their Game

     If you were a betting man (I’m not), would you put money on a game where one contestant was unilaterally empowered to define the playing field and the rules of the contest?

     As I expected, the responding chorus of “Hell, NO!” resounded throughout the English-speaking world. I fancy I could hear it even without my Foxy Grandpa Ear Trumpet. It’s pretty obvious that those privileges amount to a predetermination of victory. Then again, obvious does mean overlooked, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if a few readers were scratching their heads over it.

     No, the subject this fine morning isn’t game theory. It’s political combat, a field in which only one side appears to be playing for keeps.

     I write fiction, as you’re probably aware. (To those as yet unaware: See the right sidebar.) For fiction to be worthwhile, it must entertain. That is, it must divert the reader from his mundane concerns for awhile. That’s a hard and fast requirement.

     I strive to do a little more. I try to embed depictions of important truths about human existence in my stories. Tom Kratman calls such truths “eternal verities.” Years ago that was the term most commonly used to describe them. Today few persons remember that term.

     The term notwithstanding, there are persons determined to efface those truths completely. Some of them have chosen fiction as their vehicle for doing so. That puts me at odds with them. Yet I would never dream of trying to prevent them from being heard. One who must silence his opponent to prevail clearly has no adequate argument for his own position. I regard that as too obvious to require explication.

     But they don’t feel the same, which brings us to the most recent episode in the continuing soap opera of fantasy and science fiction fandom. Please read it for yourself, as I can’t excerpt it without stealing almost all of it.

     The critical elements of this foofaurauw are:

  1. ConCarolinas is a convention for F&SF writers and fans.
  2. John Ringo was invited to attend, and would have been the most popular writer present (by volume of sales).
  3. A bunch of “social-justice warriors” agitated to have him excluded.
  4. The ConCarolinas organizers disinvited him “for your [Ringo’s] personal safety.”

     The ironies here boggle the imagination. A man whose books run the gamut of speculative categories, whose inclinations are as live-and-let-live as any I could name, and who would literally take a bullet to protect an innocent from harm is disinvited from a convention at which he would have been the top draw, supposedly (oh, come on) for his own protection. Did I wake up in the “bearded Spock” universe? (Cue Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny: “I knew I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque.”)

     Ringo’s comment on this tale helps to cement the absurdities in place:

     I'm a New York Times best selling author with over 7 million books in print. By far and away I was the largest 'print' guest on the list with the largest fan following and thus the biggest draw.

     For someone like myself, cons are NOT about marketing. There is very little additional market to be picked up at any litcon, including WorldCon. Cons are places to go to talk with people who enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy and are generally smart and interesting people. To meet new people (one of the reasons I agreed to attend ConCarolinas was 'new people'), to pick up new characters, to have a good time.

     There is very little fiscal reason for someone like myself to attend. Ergo: The best reason is to have fun....

     To be clear: This isn't any loss to me. It is a loss to the con and the attendees who were looking forward to John Ringo attending. It's even a loss to the Social Justice Bullies since some of my fans might accidentally have bought some of their books.

     To me, there is NO downside. YES! I caved to the social justice bullies and now I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH TSA! WOOOOT!

     So John Ringo has shrugged the whole thing off. Attending ConCarolinas would net him no increment in sales. From that perspective it’s pointless for him to contest his disinvitation. He’d be better off doing just about anything else, so why bother?

     But we’re not done yet. Sarah Hoyt, an estimable person and writer in her own right, seems to feel she must defend Ringo’s politics! Stop right there: Why are Ringo’s personal politics relevant? An F&SF con isn’t a political convention...at any rate, it shouldn’t be. Treating Ringo’s political preferences as relevant is playing the Left’s game! It’s their mantra that “the personal is political,” not ours!

     Why are we in the Right so easily suckered into playing the Left’s game, on the Left’s choice of playing field? Why can’t we cowboy the BLEEP! up and tell them to shove their irrelevancies where the moon never shines?

     Once again, it appears that good, decent, sensible people who have everything to gain and nothing to lose from standing their ground will retreat from confrontation even when all evidence and reason is on their side. They’d simply rather not lock ‘em up with the Left’s crazies. The consequence is that in the state of political war we currently endure, only one side is actually fighting. They’ve noticed how confrontation-averse we are, and have responded by straining to politicize everything: every aspect of life, no matter how minuscule.

     I get it, you know. Confrontation is unpleasant. People could get their feelings hurt. Who knows, there might be epithets hurled, spittle flying, purses swung. Someone might even break a nail! Far better to retire from the field and let the crazies have it. It doesn’t matter that much, after all.

     Except that it does matter. It matters very much.

     To the extent that the Left has succeeded in politicizing non-political aspects of life and society, they have gained ground against us. It’s the Right that values privacy, amicability, and tolerance of divergent views. It’s the Right that has lamented the polarization of entertainment and the harassment of cultural institutions on political grounds. It’s the Right that has pleaded for the return of courtesy in discourse. Are any of those things compatible with politicization?

     One of our greatest failings these past few decades has been allowing the Left to politicize non-political events and associations. Had we stood our ground and refused to allow that in the first place, what has followed could not and would not have occurred. Maybe we aren’t as tough as we should be – and maybe it’s long past time to change that.

Well my telephone was ringing
     And they told me it was Chairman Mao
Well my telephone was ringing
     And they told me it was Chairman Mao
You can tell him anything
     'Cause I just don't wanna talk to him now

I've got the apolitical blues
     And that's the meanest blues of all
Apolitical blues
     And that's the meanest blues of all
I don't care if it's John Wayne
     I just don't wanna talk to him now

     [Lowell George, for Little Feat]

The guy.

I wonder what the name of “the guy” is.

PORTON DOWN/RUSSIA/NOVICHOK: Boris Johnson: Porton Down told me it was Russia.