Tuesday, September 26, 2017

On Being White

     I’ve been warned. I’ve been reminded. I’ve been catechized about the unwisdom of giving in to fury. It’s not good for me. If it’s good for you, know that I envy you, because there’s a lot to be angry about these days.

     The foofaurauw over the National Football League’s decision to “support the players” in their “protests” against the national anthem and flag of the United States rather than to enforce the league’s rules about proper conduct during the anthem has caused a significant number of previously faithful football fans to tune out. I expect that number to grow still further, especially in light of the mealy-mouthed statements from head coaches, marquee players, and Commissioner Roger Goodell. It will ultimately, if not soon enough for any decent American’s tastes, crash the league financially.

     Yet the disease is spreading:

     Gregg Popovich is the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. That team is composed largely of American Negroes, like every other National Basketball Association team and a great many college teams, too. There isn’t one NBA player whose salary is less than the high six figures. There isn’t one who couldn’t augment his income by public appearances and the sale of autographed items, as many do. But supposedly they and theirs are “oppressed” by having to earn their incomes on a basketball court. Now their head coach tells us that we don’t know what it means to be born white.

     As a public service to Popovich, and to anyone else who might be uncertain about what it means to be white – especially, what it means to be a white American – I shall explain.

     To be born white in the U.S.A. is to inherit a six-digit share of a $20 trillion debt you had no part in borrowing or spending. Your parents, should you be lucky enough to have any, might look upon you as a blessing, but they must also accept the immense burdens and hazards that will accompany your upbringing and maturation: on average, about $1 million for you and each of your siblings until age twenty-one.

     From the instant of your birth, you’re a number in a system designed to tax and control you. Government busybodies will use you as an excuse to intrude into your family’s most intimate operations. Neighborhood busybodies supposedly determined to “keep you safe” will help them. “Educators” with little interest in actual education will propagandize you about a wide variety of “issues.” This will be in support of your share of white guilt: your responsibility for crimes committed by others long dead and not even remotely related to you. Yet those “educators” will deny you answers to many of your questions. You’ll have to look elsewhere for honest information about history and economics. That condition will last all the way through college, should you be inclined toward a “higher” education. Dare to mention in class that before the Civil War there were both white and black slaveholders and white and black slaves, or that the institution of slavery is still rampant among nonwhites in Africa and the Middle East, and you’ll be mobbed or worse.

     Should you reach your maturity determined to be a decent and productive citizen, you’ll be penalized for the color of your skin. White people aren’t entitled to anything, you see; only blacks are entitled. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission isn’t concerned with whether you can get work, only with whether your black competitor can. In any head to head contest with a black employment applicant, your qualifications will weigh less heavily in your favor than the color of his skin will weigh in his. A company determined to hire you rather than him will need to watch its “employment statistics” closely, lest it give the EEOC an excuse to impose “supervision” on it.

     But you’re white, which means no excuses for anything. You’ll find work, and you’ll labor diligently at it. And on paycheck day, the list of deductions from your supposed salary will remind you of just what the State thinks of you: a resource to be mulcted, in large measure for the support of nonwhite idlers and their bastards. Seven out of every ten black babies born today are illegitimate – born out of wedlock. Child support from the father? Not unless the father is an NBA power forward. But to note that fact in public would put you at extreme hazard.

     Still, you’ll soldier on. You’re white; it’s expected of you. As the bumper stickers say, millions on welfare depend on you, so you can’t be allowed to slack off. It would be a crime against society and a betrayal of your “white privilege:” the privilege of being blamed for others’ sins while simultaneously having to pay for them.

     Where will you live? In a city, where the young blacks play the “knockout game” and usually get away with it? In a suburb, where mobs of black teens terrorize schools, parks, and shopping malls? Where the “authorities” will harangue you mercilessly about permits, property taxes, the height of your fence, and your unworthiness to have a handgun? Or in the country, where there’s little work even for a white farmhand, the alternative labor supply – illegal aliens from south of the border – being so copious and so cheap? Decisions, decisions...

     You’ll manage. If there’s anything inherently noble about the white American, it’s that he manages. He keeps trying, no matter how heavy the burdens or how bleak the outlook. But the insults, both overt and covert, will keep coming lifelong. They’re particularly dense in mass entertainments, which appear consciously designed to disparage every last one of the values you hold. Hey, they have to offend someone — giving offense is the style in comedy today, don’t y’know – and you’re the safest candidate. Especially if you’re a white male Christian...or, may God protect you, a Catholic.

     Perhaps you’ll contrive to retire, somehow. That’s becoming quite a feat. At any rate, fewer of us manage it with each passing year. But the insults won’t stop even there. For daring to vote for conservative candidates who at least talk a good game, you’ll be denounced as a racist. To go to a rally for such a candidate, much less to volunteer to work for one, is an act of unusual courage. Well organized groups will target you, expose your most private information, possibly trash your house or attack your loved ones. No, you still can’t have a handgun. Handguns are for criminals only; it’s the law.

     And of course, when you quit this vale of tears, whatever you’ve managed to scrape together for your inheritors will be truncated by the State. (Our motto: “The needs of the State come first.”) However, your share of the white American’s burden will be passed to them with interest.

     That’s the barest skeleton of your “white privilege.” Think of it as a Christmas tree hung with many “ornaments,” some heavier than others. Every day still more are hung on it...and you. The tree is bowing under the weight. There’s no way to know when it will snap.

     Yes, I’m angry. A lot of whites are. Should this disrespect for us and for the symbols of the country we built – the only things black slaves built were tar paper shacks and the fortunes of a few plantation owners! – spread to baseball or hockey, we might decide to crash the entire overpaid institution of professional sports; the NFL and NBA are already on notice. That might be only the opening stages of a thoroughgoing “readjustment” of national attitudes and institutions.

     Go ahead and call me a racist. Go ahead! We both know you want to! See how much I care?

Monday, September 25, 2017

ALERT! Cheap Books!

     Hans G. Schantz has informed me that from Wednesday, Septembed 27 through Friday, September 29, his novel A Rambling Wreck, the sequel to his smash first novel The Hidden Truth, will be priced at only $0.99 at Amazon. So if your reading stack is looking a bit low, get over there and score a copy!

Miscellaneous Round-up

I've been accumulating some links that I wanted to pass on:

[NOTE: the first link was wrong - I corrected it]
  • For the numerically-minded - or, NOT for the SJW. A very nice explanation of why the polls are at such variance with reality.
  • Warning - strong language. How to bring down the Left. Crudely put, but a lot of truth in this.
  •  What REAL courage looks like - NOT that he supports America, but that he showed willingness to buck The Majority Wisdom (Trademark Pending, assuming that those SJW jerks can get of their oversized butts to do it). I no longer watch football (not that I ever did all that much), but - so are a growing number of football nuts (otherwise known as my family).
  • An Oldie, but a Goodie.
  • And on a Lighter Note: Ooooh, the Burn is BAD! BAKING BAD!
Just found this link to the ONE player who bucked the conformity.

The coach on that player's action:
When asked by a reporter about Villanueva coming out for the anthem, Tomlin said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”
 The protesters are having a difficult time getting the photo op parameters working:

  • Kapernick tried sitting, at first. But, that was so obviously disrespectful, that he went to the NEXT tactic
  • Kneeling. However, some (myself and a few others) pointed out that he was USING a quasi-religious position for his own disrespectful ends.
  • Now, many teams have gone for Solidarity-type poses - and, POSES they are. Standing players putting their hands on kneeling teammates' shoulders, arms linked - they are varied, but depend on coercing others to join in as 'semi-allied' allies.
  • The Steelers were in a tough place. Pittsburgh may have changed since I lived there, but still remains hard-core AMERICAN. So, they hoped to bypass that by remaining in the tunnel. Oh, drat! ONE player decided to use HIS 1st Amendment rights to show support for America. The coach was NOT pleased, as this puts the rest of the team in the spotlight, by their absence.
This is gonna be interesting. I make a suggestion below:

I also made another comment about MLB, and who it wouldn't spread to that league.

Blank Checks

     Dystopic continues to dazzle:

     Usually, when you encounter an item with no definitive price tag, it is because the item is absurdly expensive. When a potential customer is forced to ask for the price, the salesman might gauge his wealth, his gullibility, his willingness to part with his money, and a myriad of other things before settling on what he believes he can get. It also provides an opportunity to sell the customer on the object, rather than merely counting on the item and its price to convince the potential buyer.

     In simple terms, forcing another to be open about his wants, and being closed off on your own, gives a man a decided bargaining advantage.

     Indeed. How often have you, Gentle Reader, been asked by a car salesman, florist, or pimp “How much were you thinking of spending?” But Dystopic isn’t concerned with those minor excrescences on the marketplace:

     Lately, we’ve seen this at work with Antifa, BLM, #TheResistance, and other assorted left-wing groups. Grievances are produced, from slavery, to the plight of Native Americans, to American foreign adventures in the Middle East. Being honest with ourselves, some of these grievances have at least a historical merit to them. But for such leftist groups, the price for burying the grievance is obfuscated behind buzzwords and jargon. We must dismantle the cisheteropatriarchy, we must check our privilege, we must become a positive advocate for change. Everything from microaggressions to cultural appropriation are cited as examples of these things.

     But I ask, what change?

     The question is seldom asked by anyone with a popular platform. However, once asked, it answers itself.

     They want us to give in, to stop resisting them. If that means voting their way, they want that. If it means ceasing to defend ourselves and our property against their depredations, they want that. If it means never again criticizing or questioning them, they want that, most definitely. They want everything, including our approval for their entire agenda and any tactics they might deploy.

They want a sociopolitical blank check.

     But Americans don’t write blank checks. And it’s driving the Left utterly BLEEP!ing nuts.

     One advantage to coming of age in a market-oriented society is that it compels one to cultivate the ability to recognize a fraud in progress. This is especially important in politics and public policy.

     Yes, we’ve seen our share of political snake oil salesmen. Occasionally the electorate has failed to detect one in time to obstruct his schemes. Yet more often than not we sniff them out, tell them “Thanks but no thanks,” and wish them pleasant reincarnations. We deflected one from the presidency less than a year ago, and she’s really ticked off about it. (“It was my turn!”)

     Just now, the Left is steaming over having been rejected soundly at the federal and state levels. Of course, like Tolkien’s Shadow, it will “take another shape and grow again”– there’s nothing more predictable than the persistence of evil – but the question of greatest import to your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus is whether it will learn from its defeats. Defeat is education, as Louis Nizer has told us. At any rate, he who doesn’t learn from his losses has no upward path and therefore no future.

     The central lesson of the Left’s most recent electoral setbacks is not to ask for a blank check.

     What, after all, was the major difference between the Trump and Clinton II campaigns? Trump had a specific agenda that he talked up, in relatively good detail, at every opportunity. It consisted of items and policy directions the electorate approved. Mrs. Clinton mainly promoted herself, and as has been said innumerable times to this date, the more of her the voters saw, the less they liked her. On those occasions when she was contextually compelled to address specific aspects of public policy, she did her best to keep her positions vague, albeit qualified by the need she felt to defend the outgoing Obama Administration of which she’d been a part.

     Mrs. Clinton wanted a blank check. “Elect me,” she might as well have cried, “because of me, not because of what you want or what you think I might do with the power of the presidency.” But that permitted voters to conjecture Clinton II policies they disapproved, based on what they remembered of the Clinton I years plus Mrs. Clinton’s lukewarm defenses of various Obamunist policies. It killed her campaign, especially among the voters whom her campaign didn’t bother to address.

     It didn’t help Mrs. Clinton that her allegiants were busy harassing conservatives and Trump supporters and doing all they could to suppress their gatherings and the public statements of their luminaries. Neither did it help when the hijinks of such as Robert Creamer were exposed to the nation.

     It’s all of a single, unbroken weave. The Left wants a blank check simply because that’s what it wants. Specific policies? They don’t really matter. What does matter to them is absolute, unbounded power and complete indemnification for whatever they might choose to do with it. But Americans won’t write blank checks to politicians. At least, we won’t once we become aware that that’s what they’re demanding.

     The nation foolishly elected Barack Hussein Obama because he succeeded, with the help of an enthusiastically complicit media, in disguising himself and his intentions. It might have been a lesson we needed. Whether we rejected Mrs. Clinton because we learned from the Obamunist debacle or because unlike her husband she’s a lousy politician, we did manage to dodge the bullet she represents. But there are more rounds in the clip.

     A great many Republican legislators are regularly returned to their seats on Capitol Hill despite never having kept even one promise, party-platform or personal, to their constituents. Their re-election campaigns reduce to this: “Put me back in because I’m your guy. Anyway, you can’t afford not to.” The blankness of that check is becoming ever more apparent. Whether Americans will rally at last to replace those time-servers in 2018 and 2020, we shall soon see.

Message From A Marine Colonel

     ...to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

     I could not have said it better.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Demise Of Pro Sports

     The four major team sports are going to Hell simultaneously. For several decades Americans have enjoyed professional team sports as a refreshing diversion from mundane cares. Yet today, at a time when the promotion of pro sports has reached pain-threshold levels and the amount of money annually invested in American pro sports franchises and their associated industries approaches $1 trillion, we’re turning away from them in droves. Clearly, it’s time for the subject and its trends to receive appropriately Curmudgeonly attention.

     Sports originated from the play impulse that mated to our aggressive natures, subordinated them, and transformed them into ways to compete that don’t involve bloodshed. Team sports were “put to work” to teach cooperation and constructive competition to the young. In this we see the reason that amateur sports were for so long esteemed above professional sports: the ideal was to play “for love of the game,” for its “may the best man win” axiom and for its implicit moral-ethical lessons.

     How far we have fallen! Today’s team sports are essentially indistinguishable from the bloody spectacles of the panem et circenses era of the Roman Coliseum. Even ice hockey, for a long time the epitome of rough-yet-sportsmanlike competition, has deteriorated.

     Our current foofaurauw over pro athletes’ open displays of contempt for the nation, its anthem, and its flag are mere symptoms. To find the disease, we must look deeper.

     To those of you who don’t share my enthusiasm for ice hockey: my sincere apologies (you Philistines), but my survey of the deterioration will begin with a figure few will remember and many will not recognize at all: former New York Rangers general manager Craig Patrick.

     I recall vividly a televised interview Patrick gave to Rangers’ play-by-play announcer Jim Gordon. Gordon asked Patrick, who as the team’s GM was heavily involved in player recruitment, what sort of recruits he favored. Perhaps Gordon expected a litany of vital on-ice skills the Rangers needed. He didn’t get it. Patrick surprised him (and no doubt much of the TV audience) by saying that character was paramount: He said that he looked for players with “the kind of character we want.” Moreover, he meant it exactly as would any ordinary person. His selections of players for the Rangers to sign testified to his sincerity. This, during the era of ever intensifying on-ice brutality exemplified and dominated by the “Broad Street Bullies:” the Philadelphia Flyers.

     Then as now, ice hockey was the least profitable of the four major pro sports. Many NHL franchises operated at the break-even or lose-a-little level. Yet for decades it had been a curious mix of punishing physical play and great gentility. Indeed, for a long time there was an informal rule that in a match between teams A and B, if both of team A’s goalies were to suffer disabling injuries during play, team B was required to lend its backup goalie to team A for the remainder of the game. Moreover, the “borrowed” goalie was expected to play his best...and on the occasions when the “rule” was invoked, that was exactly the case.

     Talk about sportsmanship! Can you imagine anything like that happening in a pro team sport today? Nevertheless, it was so. The sport often derided as “gang warfare with clubs” (“I went to the fights last night and a hockey game broke out”) was the one that exhibited the highest imaginable standards of may-the-best-man-win good grace.

     But change was on the way. Sports-oriented cable channels were emerging. They needed content and were willing to pay for it. The content that would command the highest advertising revenues would command the largest fee to its providers, and the advertisers favored winners. The paradoxically brutal yet graceful sport of ice hockey began to shed its prior character in favor of a “Winning Is Everything” ethic. In this it trailed the other pro sports, though only by a decade or so.

     The flood of money into pro sports made possible by the nationwide embrace of television caused them to put winning above all other considerations. But when winning is everything, character cannot be allowed to stand in the way. An athlete with superior (if only barely) skills would be valued over an athlete with superior character. An athlete willing to brutalize or cheat to enhance his on-field performance would be preferred to an athlete with scruples who insists upon obeying the rules of the sport. Those who rallied to the new ethic, the Rafael Palmeiros and Jack Tatums, multiplied and grew rich. The exceptions, the Hobey Bakers and Grant Hills, dwindled.

     Where money is plentiful, we will always find persons who value money above all things. Where the way to great wealth is brutality and dishonesty, there will be those who pursue it with those tools. Where brutality and dishonesty are tolerated for the profits they bring, they will become prevalent.

     But good character is of a single weave. The man of good character doesn’t brutalize, cheat, or show contempt for the nation that makes it possible for him to become wealthy. Thus, we should not be surprised that a growing number of pro athletes display brutality and dishonesty and a lack of respect for the United States and its symbols.

     Yes, there’s a backlash in progress. Viewers disgusted with contemporary pro athletes’ various faults are “tuning out” of pro sports. The recently televised Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams was held in a largely empty stadium, and was watched by a relatively small television audience. The message was not lost on those who track such things.

     Still, audience disaffiliation takes time to work. We must not expect a swift turnaround in the state of affairs. Baseball players continue to “juice.” Football players continue to commit conspicuous off-the-field crimes. Basketball players continue to father bastards. Hockey players are growing more violent by the season. And there are disparagers of the nation in all four sports.

     What of amateur sports? Do they even exist today, except as veneers over covert pay-to-play arrangements that violate the meaning of the word? If so, are they gaining an audience, or are they being treated as meaningless and uninteresting “because there’s no money in it?”

     Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Imagine A World Without Internet

That's the situation that Togo found itself in recently. The government of Togo, which has been experiencing some resistance to their country's heavy-handed rule from the entrenched family, shut down the Internet.

The results were NOT what might be expected.

Colonization Chronicles

     Once the Left has set its sights on some organization, that organization must choose between all-out war or abject surrender. This follows from Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics:

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

     The dynamic involved is well understood:

  1. Let a Leftist in on any grounds whatsoever: e.g., “diversity.”
  2. The same or related grounds will get the Leftist visibility and, ultimately, a promotion.
  3. The Lefty now uses his position to get more Leftists in and advance their careers, while discouraging and impeding the hiring and promotion of Rightists or the non-political. The gaggle of Leftists will coordinate and operate as a bloc within the organization, gaining influence as their number increases.
  4. Over time, this dynamic results in a Left-dominated organization – and Leftists put politics above all other things, including the health of the organization.

     Simple, isn’t it? It’s death to any organization that requires competence and shuns politics...but once it’s in progress, it’s damned near impossible to resist. The truly tragic part is this: The early stages of this colonization process are nearly invisible.

     The insidiousness of the process is why Conquest’s Second Law includes the phrase “not explicitly right-wing.” The sole guaranteed preventative is a resolution not to hire Leftists, and to expel any that manage to sneak in – in other words, to politicize the organization toward the Right ab initio. That resolution requires that even a highly competent Leftist, whose relevant skills could be a great asset, must be excluded from the organization. That’s a tough call for a manager in a hiring position to make.

     Apparently, managers in the entertainment industries are incapable of making it.

     I’ve written about the Left’s colonization of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) on a number of occasions, most notably here, here, and here. The speculative-fiction genres, which are singularly attractive to young, imaginative readers, must have appeared a very juicy target. As it happens, the logic applies just as powerfully to the comic-book industry:

     Jon Del Arroz is an award-nominated science fiction writer, contributor at The Federalist and author of the upcoming space novella Gravity of the Game. He has followed the industry problems closely.
     There's a disconcerting trend on the left because the black-balling attempts in the industry have failed, due to independent media platforms, so they have moved to intimidation and threats of violence. Sad!

     Del Arroz, a comic book fan, senses a reckoning coming.

     The Industry is in trouble. Unlike others they have a distribution network only meant to further Marvel/DC properties. For real change to happen, fans have to support indies.

     PJ Media reached out to Richard Meyer [YouTube channel: Diversity & Comics], who was happy to talk about being targeted by SJWs. "It's a neo-McCarthyism situation, the industry is being destroyed," he said. "They are killing it. They've turned an industry into a community which doesn't have to have sales or success. It's a vicious pogrom and excommunication of anyone right of the extreme far left."

     Please read the entire article.

     Now as it happens, this colonization is self-defeating. The Left will suppress entertainment considerations to promote its political positions. But no one buys comic books to be harangued about politics. As a relevant sidelight, note this development on which Meyer comments:

     Carol Danvers, or Captain Marvel, is becoming transgendered. Comic book fans have taken to calling her "Carl Manvers."

     "We're watching her boobs disappear in every issue," said Meyers. "Marvel has killed all the heterosexual romances in the stories and replaced them with gay relationships. Gay relationships are depicted as idyllic and heterosexual romances are shown as problematic. Comic book shops are suffering because they can't sell these books. No one wants them."

     Promoting politics over adventure is bad enough, but gay couples only and boobless women? Insupportable! Therefore, the colonized organizations will lose sales and, eventually, collapse. That doesn’t make it any less of a loss to those who once enjoyed the destroyed organization’s offerings.

     It does, however, emphasize the importance of promoting “indies,” in this field and elsewhere in the entertainment world, who actually provide the customer with what he’s there for. A number of indies in science fiction and fantasy have gained large followings. The rise of indie comics will eventually provide comic-book aficionadi with the good-versus-evil clashes between larger-than-life figures (and the booby women) for which they value the form – if those indies receive enough attention to keep them from throwing up their hands, moaning “What’s the use?” and abandoning the enterprise.

     In the usual case, the Left cannot provide entertainment of the sort consumers enjoy. Leftists’ political obsessions prevent it. The bad news is that the entertainment forms the Left has conquered will be unentertaining in the near term. The good news is for those of us with some staying power: the conquered organizations will fail and be replaced by new, healthy purveyors of entertainment, who’ll know better than to politicize their wares.

     That doesn’t mean Conquest’s Second Law will no longer apply. Indies who become successful could well be seduced into joining or forming organizations. The dynamic outlined at the start of this screed will apply to them just as forcefully as it has applied to Hollywood, to the speculative-fiction genres, and to the comics industry. Perhaps they’ll learn from the sins of their predecessors, but it’s by no means certain. No human failing is more widespread than the inability — or the unwillingness – to learn from the mistakes of others.

     We shall see.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Of Suppositions And Purple

     I’m beginning to wonder if I’m turning into “one of them.” You know, the old folks who seemingly can’t shut up, particularly the subvariety that expresses itself on the Web compulsively, on any and every imaginable subject. I’ve known others like that. They seem animated by consciousness that their time on Earth is running out. They fear that they might die with something left unsaid...perhaps by anyone ever.

     Well, if so, then so be it. I am what I am, to quote America’s most famous sailor. (I’m told God said something along those lines to Job, too.) Anyway, there are far too many developments and phenomena that deserve to be observed and commented on for me to slacken off now. I mean, it might be a cushy job, but someone has to do it.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

[Jenny Joseph]

     The above poem gave rise to a social phenomenon: The Red Hat Society, which numbers over 40,000 local clubs throughout the English-speaking world. Though I’ve been familiar with the poem for quite a long time, I learned of the Red Hat Society and its satellite clubs just yesterday. The occasion was dinner out with the C.S.O.

     Well, of course it was because a chapter of the Red Hat Society was present at our chosen restaurant! I drew the C.S.O.’s attention to the table full of purple-garbed, red hatted ladies, and she informed me about the Society, its thousands of clubs, and her opinion that it was a rather superficial treatment of the sentiments in Jenny Joseph’s poem.

     But what are those sentiments? Clearly it’s not a sartorial prescription. Neither is it a sneer at society’s exhortations and conventions, at least as they apply to younger folks. The exhortations conduce to our individual betterment. They do, you know: Get your first serve in, don’t draw to an inside straight, do unto others and then run like hell...but I digress. The conventions help to preserve a state of public peace in which we can generally trust that we won’t be knifed, gang-raped, or besieged by life insurance salesmen on the way to the corner store for milk.

     It’s been on my mind intermittently since yesterday at the restaurant. It will probably be there for a while longer.

     There’s a dimension of latitude that comes to some of us with age. It would be a mislabeling to call it “freedom;” typically, an individual is just as free before he turns decrepit as afterward. It’s more about the lessening of some of one’s personal inhibitions. Other people’s opinions of us and our choices matter less. We no longer worry as much about “setting a good example for the children,” whether our own or those of other parents. Some of us get a little careless about a few things – vocabulary, associations, flirtations, certain indulgences we carefully limited in our younger years – and become rather insouciant about them.

     It’s certainly that way with me. (Send $20.00 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the details.) As I look a bit younger than I actually am, I draw a fair number of dubious looks and disapproving comments for it. My usual response to those bothered by my little ways is to shrug, smile, and say “Too bad for you!”

     Here’s an example: I sing along with the music in retail establishments, at least if I know the tune and the words. I can carry a tune, and I’m told my voice is decent, so I get some pleasure out of hearing something I know from years ago and joining in. The way other shoppers look at me is often enough to blister paint. Now and then, one will actually approach and upbraid me for it.

     The last time someone dared to castigate me about that practice, I waited until she’d run down, smiled, and said, “Suppose I’d been a black teen with a boom box, playing that garbage they call ‘rap music’ at pain-threshold levels. Would you have approached him?” Needless to say, there was no reply, so I tipped my nonexistent cap, wished her a pleasant afterlife, and passed on...still singing. It was refreshing.

     However, if you have a voice like a frog with a man stuck in his throat and can’t carry a tune with a forklift, you might want to suppress the habit. For the children, don’t y’know. Also, honesty compels me to admit that most of the retail establishments I’ve patronized in recent years now play the most godawful repetitive techno crap on their PA systems. No words, barely a recognizable tune, and it never BLEEP!ing changes or ends. More than coincidence? Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.

     If there’s a theme to the above, it would be that other people’s suppositions about you are not binding. There are limits – no fondling the unwilling, no writing graffiti on other people’s fences, and for the love of God, aim before you spit and spit accurately! – but they’re looser than most think.

     So what if you’re sixty-five and look like the “before” side of a weight-loss commercial? Go to Carvel anyway. (Buy a six-pack of Flying Saucers. Buy two; you’ll get 25% off. It’s a real bargain.) How much longer do you have to enjoy what life has to offer? And do you really think your equally decrepit wife will regard you more amorously if you lose the potgut? Get serious.

     So what if “they” say that anime is only for kids? Order a set of xxxHolic and enjoy them. They actually have a lot to say, and the banter among the characters will remind you a great deal about young rivalries and young love.

     So what if “they” say a mature man who buys a red Corvette convertible is out to make a fool of himself? Flip ‘em the bird and buy the damned thing while you can still get into and out of it. Alternately, say “At least I’ll be doing it to myself. Who botched the job on you?” And make sure to wear a propeller beanie when you drive it with the top down.

     The above was written with absolutely no idea in mind...except purple.

Tired, Just Tired

I've been traveling (CLT to CLE and back again). Some great things about the trip:

  • Saw an Indians game (Go Tribe!), which we won
  • Saw my daughter, sister, and brother
  • Got a major portion of the revision done (I mean that I marked up the hard copy - still have to put most of the actual revisions in the electronic copy). Would like to get it out to some people for a first pass (just to check on major plot holes, anachronisms, etc. - no copyediting, I'm going to bite the bullet and pay for it). If you'd like to be one of those people who wants to make sure that the flow of the book works, send me your contact information at rightasusual2003-at-gmail, and I'll pick a couple of people to help me. No pay, but you get to read a free book.
  • UPDATE: I've finished the hard copy, just have to enter and tweek things - shouldn't take more than a few weeks!
  • Rested, spent time with the grands
The not-so good:
  • I really need to get cracking on getting my house in shape - this time away puts that further in the future
  • Did not spend time with the newest grandkid (his mom was sick) - next time
  • I really miss my bed
  • The clock is ticking on getting ready for:
What blogging I've been doing is here: Right As Usual. I'm going to keep slogging away at necessary offline work, and get back to blogging this weekend.

The Unaddressed Question Of 1984

     ...is why did it happen? What was George Orwell’s conception of the train of developments that led to the ascendancy of IngSoc, the Party, and the all-enveloping totalitarianism that ultimately consumed the people of “Oceania?”

     A writer who manages to take a handful of your guts and give them a good twist, as Orwell does in his most famous novel, writes from a sense of mission. He has a theme in mind that has engaged his passions, and which he intends to present to his readership in fictional form. If he’s good at his trade, his readers will be just as engaged with that theme. Where he exulted, they’ll exult; where he shuddered, they’ll shudder. Eric “George Orwell” Blair was one of the best of his day.

     A bald reading of 1984 suggests that Orwell’s major aim was to depict the horrors of an all-encompassing totalitarian state: a state whose masters will be satisfied with nothing less than controlling the thoughts in its subjects’ heads. There’s an obvious utilitarian reason for the power-mad to want such control: it precludes all possibility of rebellion. If it were possible – and I shan’t suggest that it absolutely isn’t – it would be the ultimate totalitarian wet dream. But how would a relatively free society get to IngSoc, The Party, the ubiquitous telescreens, et cetera? Did Orwell have a sociopolitical path in mind?

     Closely associated secondary question: Does it matter?

     The critical passage in 1984 is one that has appeared here before:

     ‘And now let us get back to the question of “how” and “why”. You understand well enough how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,’ he added as Winston remained silent.
     Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into O’Brien’s face. He knew in advance what O’Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O’Brien said this he would believe it. You could see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
     ‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ’You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore-’
     He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
     ‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
     He pulled the lever back and continued:
     ‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others ; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’

     It is in those six hundred words that Orwell truly strikes to the heart of the power luster’s mindset. Whatever he wants you to think of his motives, his true aim, even if he’s never consciously admitted it, is absolute and unopposed power over all things, forever.

     The totalitarians of 1984 might have been the successors of earlier “reformists” of some more conventional stripe. They might have been the reformists themselves. The salient point about them is that they are present in every movement that demands power over others, and their ascendancy to the summit of such a movement is inevitable.

     Ayn Rand’s Dr. Floyd Ferris – “We’re after power and we mean it” – is an echo of Orwell’s O’Brien. The two are fully conscious of their true aims. Indeed, once a dictatorship has been established, only persons animated by that aim and frankly conscious of it could possibly rise to the top. They’ll do so because they’re completely without moral constraints. They’re willing to do anything to get there, and anything to stay there. He who has even a single scruple remaining to him will be helpless before them.

     All else is methodology: the selection of the most efficacious means for attaining their end.

     These past two months I’ve written thrice about Nice-Guyism:

  1. The Feelings Blob Part 2: Getting Tough
  2. Nice-Guyism And Ethical Imperatives
  3. Nice-Guyism Continued: Offering Cookies To Mice

     My friend and colleague Dystopic has written similar pieces about weaponized empathy, a highly useful term for political outreach. Perhaps he grasped the overriding importance of this phenomenon from the first; I didn’t.

     The point here is that our desire to be “nice” and to be evaluated thus by others is a useful weapon to the Left...and nothing else. Inversely, if we wanted to be seen not as “nice” but as “heartless,” the Left would have mounted a campaign that uses that motivation as its weapon. In either case, the Left’s covert program would be the same: unopposed power over all things. The weapon is independent of the aims of its wielder, something a gaggle of firearms-rights enthusiasts will easily grasp.

     By corollary, the wielder cares nothing at all about the weapon but whether it will serve his purposes. Once he’s attained his true ends, his only interest in the weapon will be whether it might be useful in preserving them. He’ll discard it if the answer is negative.

     There is so much import in the above that it’s almost a shame that I feel a need to summarize it. Yet it achieves its greatest impact when reduced to a schematic.

     In a relatively free society, they to whom power is the true and only end will act as follows:

  • Identify the dominant motivations of the persons of that society.
  • Identify a Cause which couples effectively to those motivations.
  • Marshal “activists” around the Cause and use it as a pretext for seeking increased State power.
  • Demonize all who oppose the method (increased State power) as enemies of the Cause.
  • Use any grants of power to solidify possession of that power-seat and to penalize opponents.
  • Should the Cause not be well served (i.e., the usual case), blame the opposition and demand more power.
  • Gradually ease out “true believers” in the cause, especially at the power-wielding echelon.

     Needless to say, this schematic can be used by several Causes simultaneously. Those Causes might be consistent in some respects. They might be wholly disconnected from one another. They might even conflict; indeed, this is commonly the case, and more useful to the power-luster than one might imagine. Yet the true aims of those at the Causes’ several tillers will be uniform.

     Perhaps Orwell was supremely insightful in neglecting to specify the sociopolitical currents that led to IngSoc, The Party, et cetera. Perhaps it really doesn’t matter at all.

     A final note: At Return of Kings today, John Carver presents Twenty passages from 1984 that have been realized in essence. Compare those developments to the demands of the various Cause-related groups active in our time. Can you trace the threads that connect their Causes to those developments...and to one another?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Disciplining “Our Own”

     The wall of silence is breached. The media can no longer deny that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, just as President Trump claimed in March. It’s been confirmed by testimony and by FISA records. The strident accusations, by CNN and others, that Trump’s claim was a lie have become platters of unseasoned crow that “journalists” must confront. But will they? And what about the Democrats who echoed those claims and linked them to accusations of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government? Will they offer retractions and apologies?

     Not bloody likely, and I’m here to tell you why.

     We form affinity groups on various bases: race, religion, ethnicity, regional loyalties, occupations, political affiliations, and so on. Every group allegiance creates an Us and a Them, with a concomitant assignment of differing privileges and approvals. The results of the cleavage normally include a reluctance to entertain accusations against “our own” in a neutral, judicial fashion. The degree of protection awarded to “our own” varies inversely with the degree of civic trust awarded to members of the group by persons outside it.

     Civic trust is an under-addressed factor in studies of the stability of a social order. It pertains to the average willingness of individuals to regard other individuals whom they do not know personally as non-threatening. If that trust factor varies greatly according to differences in affinity group affiliation, the society is in trouble.

     Judgments of a neighborhood as “good” or “bad” measure its degree of civic trust. Are the residents generally regarded as responsible and law-abiding? Are local businesses respectful or exploitive of local needs and preferences? Is the constabulary responsive? Are the streets and other public spaces “safe?” These are the questions that underpin “good neighborhood” and “bad neighborhood” assessments.

     Civic trust plainly includes the sub-category of public trust: the degree of trust private citizens have in the honesty and competence of public officials and government generally. This also conditions social stability, in a determinate fashion. If generally high public trust should be impacted by a narrow revelation – for example, the discovery that a particular official has behaved corruptly – the reaction among private citizens will be swift and predictable: Get him out of office and put him behind bars. The man in the street will demand it out of his desire to defend the integrity of the relevant institution. Inversely, if public trust is low, the man in the street will shrug, say “What can you expect? They’re all thieves,” and retreat from the subject. His attention will be focused narrowly on his own agenda and the protection of what’s his, rather than the trustworthiness or lack thereof of public institutions.

     High civic trust enables wide-ranging attachments: patriotism, nationalism, national pride, public engagement. Low civic trust compels particularism: withdrawal from wide engagements and the narrowing of one’s attachments to those affinity groups he believes he can trust.

     When civic trust falls low and particular attachments become sufficiently strong, groups’ willingness to discipline their members for offenses against “outsiders” drops toward zero. The defense of Us against distrusted Them is seen as far too important to permit it.

     American political particularism is a reflection of the diminished degree of our civic trust, specifically in two institutions: partisan politics and the “news” media. Time was, politicians of different parties could work together on specific ends. That was possible because not only did they sincerely agree on the ends to be sought, but also because they trusted one another not to have covert agendas that differed radically from those ends. To the extent that politicians have ever been willing to acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, the parties refrained from attacking one another when a policy championed by one in the face of misgivings by the other gave rise to a negative result. There was a prevailing belief that regardless of party affiliation, those in office meant well, generally understood their capacities and their limitations, and (with rare exceptions) really were doing the best they could for the nation. They made allowances for one another, and we made allowances for them.

     Time was.

     Ours is an era of low civic trust. Particularism is rampant; indeed, it’s probably the most important social influence of our time. It has a threefold impact on politics and reportage on political figures:

  1. Massive hostility between the political parties;
  2. Massive distrust of the news media by the news-consuming public;
  3. News media self-protectiveness as a higher priority than honest, candid journalism.

     In consequence, erring members of the parties and the media are far more likely to be protected by their groups than chastised by them. Moreover, the sinners will expect, even demand such protection. They’ll expect their fellows to mount counterattacks against their accusers, rather than offer expressions of impartiality and pieties about integrity.

     In other words, Hillary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy” charge was merely a harbinger of more and worse to come.

     The root of particularism is, of course, particle. The e pluribus unum envisioned by the Founding Fathers has fragmented along many kinds of fissures. Though there’s always been some degree of differential trust among our various groups, the cleavages have deepened close to the point of impassability. The distaste for admitting to a misdeed by “a member of my club” has never been higher. The willingness to apply correction is proportionally low.

     Needless to say, that makes the problem worse. To see an offense go unadmitted and unpunished – worse, to see it rationalized and defended by the fellow-allegiants of the offender – makes the miasma of distrust thicken. But absent a complete cleansing of both the political and the journalistic classes, this is what we must anticipate and endure for the foreseeable future. Who is ready, willing, and able to undertake that cleansing? You? I? Arbitrarily chosen politician or candidate for office Smith?

     Food for thought.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Christians and Conservatives - Future-Oriented

There was a great Grassroots song - Live for Today, that perfectly epitomizes the youthful mindset. At that age, most are Grasshoppers - enjoying the moment, spending freely - sure that more money will easily be found, living with the expectation that they will survive forever.

At some point - preferably sooner than later - most Grasshoppers experience a full-face hit with Reality, and begin their metamorphosis into the adult Ant. (Yes, I know this is NOT how it works in Nature, but - I assure you - this is how it works in humans).

Two groups tend to be composed largely of those whose temperament is closer to the Ant's mentality.

  • Christians (which include all of the assorted rites and off-shoots)
  • Conservatives
Both are conscious of the way that Reality can diverge from Ideality, and - realistically - anticipate that this divergence is more likely to create an unfavorable situation, than one that is an improved scenario.

This is a bit of a handicap in planning protests and actions designed to get their message out. Unlike the Grasshoppers, who have no problem leaving this (click on the caption of the picture to see more damage photos):

The aftermath of many protests

the future-minded tend to clean up any mess that is made, 

and to pay for the extra costs of hosting their "Free" Speech - which, in Shapiro's case, cost $600,000 for security, driven up by an opposition that was determined to use violence to shut him down.

Is there a point to this? Only that preserving freedom and civilization is more time-consuming, expensive, and energy-draining than tearing it up. It's a task meant for Ants.

Fortunately, there are more of us. And, we have right (and God) on our side.

Death Cults Redux

     Isn’t there anyone who still believes in the intrinsic value of human life?

     That charnel house known as the Netherlands seems to be not content over killing off their citizens one by one, and have now begun to double-down, with couples killing themselves together in “beautiful” ceremonies so that neither one will be alone (until they’re dead, of course).
     “An elderly couple died holding hands surrounded by loved ones in a rare double euthanasia.

     “Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died in their hometown of Didam, in the Netherlands, after 65 years of marriage.

     Read it all, if you have the stomach for it.

     Holland was once a beautiful, eminently civilized country. That was before it embraced death as a sacrament. Perhaps we should ask Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh for their memories of that time. Oops, sorry, for a moment I forgot about what happened to them.

     But we’re still above all that, aren’t we?

     There are days I find it all but impossible to go on with this enterprise. The madness just keeps accelerating. The several Death Cults that have planted themselves on our shores are merely the most dramatic excrescences of what appears to be a pandemic global psychopathy. I’ve spaced my direct references to them widely to keep from being overwhelmed by the subject. But the tactic no longer helps much.

     We are surrounded by death worshippers. (No, I don’t just mean Muslims.) It’s likely that some of them are your neighbors. I know for a fact that some of them are mine.

     In discussing international relations and conflict studies, we often speak of “salami tactics.” The would-be aggressor looks for flabbiness of will among potential victims. When he finds one, he acts – but if he’s smart, he doesn’t immediately go “whole hog.” He tests his thesis by reaching for a “slice” of what he covets. “No war over the Rhineland.” “Would you risk a continental conflagration over Leipzig?” “So there are a few nuclear weapons in Cuba, what’s the big deal?” And of course most recently: “Let Putin have the Crimea; it’s historically Russian anyway.” If the victim acquiesces, the aggressor is emboldened to reach for another “slice,” and yet another, and another...

     Salami tactics are also employed domestically, according to the agenda of the aggressor. Have a look at the following list:

  • Abortion without restrictions.
  • Assisted suicide.
  • Commonplace ritual mutilations of the human body.
  • Involuntary euthanasia of those deemed untreatable or having "no quality of life."
  • Legal infanticide within the first X days post-birth.
  • Compulsory surrender of the organs of the deceased for transplantation.
  • Environmentalist crusades that prioritize human life below other considerations.
  • Use of “abandoned” embryos for “research.”
  • Creation of zygotes and embryos for non-procreative purposes.
  • Government-enforced "triage" to “conserve medical and financial resources.”
  • Compulsory acceptance of specified therapies.
  • Procreation licenses (alternately, compulsory sterilization of those deemed “unfit”).
  • Government eugenics programs:
    • At first, as subsidies to couples with favored genetic characteristics;
    • Later, as compulsory donations of gametes for use in government-supervised breeding programs.
  • Conscription for military purposes.
  • Conscription for non-military purposes.

     You’ve seen versions of that list before. It just keeps growing as the Death Cultists discover ever more ways to advance their creed. Parts of it have been upon us for some time. Other parts are the targets of our domestic salami slicers.

     Life, and our grip on it, are under attack. They’ve been weakened bit by bit for several decades. Our grandparents and great-grandparents – they who fought, bled, and died in terrible wars for the lives of others – would hardly recognize their posterity.

     The value we place on human life is what gives value to everything else in our world. It’s what allows us to make sense of things, to settle on what we want, and to reason out how to go about getting it. Is it really necessary to be explicit about the implications for its loss?

     Mankind as a species is slowly but steadily going mad.

     One organization, alone among all the voices of the world, is unbending in its proclamation that human life is sacred: the Catholic Church. Note how viciously it’s attacked, principally for its opposition to abortion and euthanasia. Note how, whenever someone dares to raise an objection to some element of the Death Cults’ program, some interlocutor will cast a wary eye at him and say “You’re not a Catholic...are you?” in that unmistakable tone that implies that no modern, well-intentioned soul could possibly associate with so retrograde an institution.

     While I differ with some of my Church’s doctrines, nevertheless I will defend it against all comers. Conspicuous among my reasons is this: It’s made all the right enemies. It’s achieved that by defending human life, by placing it above all utilitarian considerations, and by insisting that so precious a gift cannot be disparaged, much less renounced, without eternal consequences.

     Note that Catholicism has essentially disappeared from Europe. So too have most other forms of Christianity, but those have always been satellites to the Church and the Gospels it was formed to conserve and promulgate. When anyone speaks of “the Church,” there’s no doubt about which institution he has in mind. The other denominations have retained a slowly failing fingernail hold on what was once called Christendom by giving ground, on one issue after another, to the Death Cultists. The Church has not.

     Draw the moral.

     Wednesdays are currently significant here at the Fortress of Crankitude. Our Newfoundland Rufus has a regular weekly appointment at a veterinary clinic where he receives chemotherapy for B-cell lymphoma. Getting Rufus to the clinic is a burden on us. The treatments are very expensive, and there’s no way to know for how much longer he’ll be receiving them. The point, of course, is to keep Rufus alive and healthy for as long as we can.

     We do it out of love for our dog. We’re not alone; the clinic is just about always busy. People bring pets of all varieties, suffering from many diverse maladies, to be healed, or at least made more comfortable. I have no doubt that the burdens on them are fully comparable to ours.

     How much more precious is the life of a human being? How much more deserving of reverent defense?

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I need to pray.