Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Choosing Sides Against America

     There appear to be a fair number of entertainers – writers, musicians, actors, actresses, sports figures, stand-up comedians, what have you – who not only dislike President Trump; they dislike anyone who supports him and wishes him well:

     For a while one message rang out from Team Hollywood in the Age of Trump. The industry didn’t want you as a customer if you wear a red MAGA hat.

     Oh, celebrities didn’t actually mouth those words. Instead, they embedded their disgust for both President Donald Trump and his admirers in nearly everything they did.

     Recently, a few have become explicit in the extreme. For names, read Christian Toto’s article. The message certainly is clear: these...persons believe it their right and duty to trash the president of these United States, and be damned to any potential customer who’s offended by it. The loss of revenue, actual or potential, doesn’t seem to trouble them.

     Oooooo-kay. Concerning the “entertainers” named in the article – and yes, those are “sneer quotes” – I was never interested in their “art” anyway, so I have no way to chastise them. But I do have an interest in good entertainment to be enjoyed in my leisure moments. I suspect quite a lot of conservatives are with me in this. How shall we replace the offerings of a cadre that’s decided to flap its privates in our faces? Is it possible to partake of them without giving the offenders anything for it?

     In the world of the written / printed / pixeled word, there are plenty of alternatives, and more becoming available all the time. I’m far from the only conservative lunatic writing Christian-flavored fiction. That’s especially so in the speculative genres, which have seen an explosion of conservative talent. I post my recommendations of worthy writers here as I encounter them in my own travels.

     I understand that popular music is experiencing a similar expansion of possibilities. This is a field with whose most recent artists and trends – say, since about 1987 – I’m not acquainted. However, there are others who make it their business. I tend to trust Charles Hill. You might want to ask around.

     Sports? Stick to baseball and ice hockey. So far, at least, they’ve gone untouched by the plagues that have afflicted football and basketball. Whether that will continue, no one can say, so enjoy the moment.

     If comedy is your thing, I’m told there are several rising, capable comedians who exhibit consistent respect for our political sentiments...mainly by not talking politics. Steven Crowder may be the best known. I followed Michael Loftus for a while, but he appears to have dropped off the radar. This is an area where some research would be worthwhile.

     Movies? Good God, Gentle Reader! Have you never explored the market for used DVDs? After the original retailer parts with it, a resale nets the producers not one cent. Unless you simply must see the thing in a theater, practice a little deferral of gratification and keep an eye on Ebay! Among other things, that way you get to keep the movie and watch it as many times as you like, in the privacy and comfort of your own home, where the beer, chips, and bathrooms are available at the touch of a PAUSE button.

     Mind you, we mustn’t expect to change the political orientations of the folks currently insulting us. An end to the insults is the most we can expect. And it might well be the case that our current “entertainers” will prove ineducable. Even if that’s so, We the People have long memories and are reluctant to grant forgiveness for gratuitous denigrations from wealthy celebrities. A few years of sharply reduced revenues just might do for Celebrity World what it’s already doing to the NFL, and you can have a hand in it.

     Think about it.

The Zenith Of The Entitled

     I’ve certainly written about entitlement syndrome before:

     ...so my longstanding Gentle Readers will already be familiar with my thoughts on the subject. Still, when a certain kind of development becomes visible, an old crank like myself will feel an urge to vent on it no matter how frequently he’s already done so.

     The urge becomes particularly strong when the evidence suggests that something noxious has reached its apogee and is about to begin its fall to Earth.

     As far as I can tell, the number of groups claiming to be “oppressed” and therefore “entitled” to something has never been greater. Such groups are allies of a sort, in that their various “causes” are championed by a single political party. However, it’s in the nature of coalition politics that when the party that represents the coalition approaches a 50% grasp on the electorate, every element in the coalition will sense an opportunity: specifically, the opportunity to extort the party by demanding more for its continued support. The dynamic is similar to the “lock-in / holdout” phenomenon in voting power studies.

     Let no one imagine that the election of Donald Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress indicate a firm grip on the majority of American voters. In point of fact, the political affiliations of the electorate are balanced evenly, almost perfectly so. The election results of 2016 were due more to the Democrats’ poor campaign strategy, which alienated a great many potential supporters into “staying home.” The Democrats’ coalition has built Democrat / left-liberal / “progressive” sympathies to just about 50% of the party-affiliated populace. And so the abovementioned dynamic has kicked in.

     Each of the “oppressed / entitled” groups, knowing how many such groups there are and sensing the importance of standing out from its competitors, has responded by increasing the volume and stridency of its demands. The cacophony has become deafening. The effects on the willingness of other Americans to extend their sympathy have been dramatic. The effects on the Democrat Party are just becoming visible.

     Bookworm’s most recent piece is unusually relevant:

     If you’ve checked out Facebook in the last 24 hours, you’ve probably seen a lot of your female friends post two words: “Me too.” This is a shorthand version of a meme that started yesterday:
     Me too.

     If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

     Please copy/paste.

     As you’ve surely noticed, the meme jumbles together harassment and assault, which are entirely different things. Assault is a criminal act. It involves any unwanted physical touches on the person, from the butt grabbing Ben Affleck apparently enjoys, to the pussy-grabbing that President Trump noted rich guys get away with (without ever saying he’d done it himself), to out-and-out rape. Harassment, on the other hand, doesn’t involve physical contact. It involves mental contact, with the man using words or touch-free motions to impose his power or sexual desires on an unwilling female.

     Just about every woman I know who routinely appears on Facebook has put up a “Me too” post. I suspect, though, that few of them have actually been raped, something for which I am grateful. One of the virtues of life in America is that women aren’t raped often, even on college campuses.

     Anyone familiar with the nonsensical claims of an American “rape culture,” which originated on college campuses but have spread more widely since then, will see the connection. What many will fail to see is the largely invisible reaction against such claims, as ordinary Americans, familiar with the quotidian realities of life, measure the claimants’ rhetoric against those realities and ponder the affiliations of those who have been proved guilty of sexual assault. The consequences have not been kind to the Democrat Party.

     Wishful thinking has its role in politics just as in ordinary life. In 2014 the Democrats inner circle, sensing the weakness of its national field, settled upon Hillary Clinton as its best bet for retaining the White House. That was agreeable to Mrs. Clinton, of course – probably even more so to her husband – but it proved catastrophic to the Democrats in November of 2016. However, the reasons for the Democrats’ electoral calamity aren’t yet widely understood.

     Mrs. Clinton notoriously played the “sex card,” repeatedly trumpeting that it was “time for a woman president.” It was an ongoing theme of her two year campaign. In addition, it dovetailed with the rest of her approach to the election: to position herself as a spokeswoman for the “oppressed / entitled” groups. In other words, she coppered her bet on the success of the Democrats’ strategy that elected Barack Obama, without adequately weighing the weakness of the 2008 Republican candidate and his campaign.

     The odds-makers deemed Mrs. Clinton to be a shoo-in. The “oppressed / entitled” groups responded by amping up their rhetoric and their demands. The effect was to drive many voters who might otherwise have voted for Mrs. Clinton or “stayed home” to give their votes to Donald Trump. That effect was most pronounced in the “blue-collar industrial” states where Republicans had been weak for decades. It certainly didn’t help Mrs. Clinton that candidate Trump pitched his appeal directly to those voters.

     The zenith of the entitled had come, and the voters had passed them by.

     In retrospect, the strident, disruptive behavior of the “oppressed / entitled” groups in the eleven months just behind us was predictable. Electoral politics had been their hope. It failed them spectacularly. What fallback did they have? Only to make good on their old threat to “make the country ungovernable.” They haven’t succeeded, though it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

     We’ll see still more efforts in that direction. The alternatives continue to be unpalatable to the defeated. It will take some time for the Left’s thinkers to accept that the tactics of the past are the reason for their defeat. Success breeds failure, in politics just as in other kinds of combat.

U.S. support for Syrian jihadis.

A local businessman estimates that the Saudi financing of East Ghouta [al Nusra and Jaysh al Islam] gangs brings about $250 million into the local economy, every year.[1]
The Saudis finance jihadi scum in Syria. We are in a coalition with the Saudis. We make no objection to this financing and continue to associate with the Saudis in this greasy affair. Therefore, the United States supports Muslim terrorists.

But the Iranians are the biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the world today.

[1] "SYRIA: The Long East Ghouta War – Tim Anderson in Damascus." By Tim Anderson, 21wire, 10/14/17.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Some GOOD News for a Change!

Here Come the Pandas!

36 cubs borne in a single year!

Need a laugh? Go here - lots of sweet, funny graphics. I think it was started by a Dad with time on his hands.

I just saw a story on the local about a Gaston, NC senior lady who credits her reaching nearly 100 years old to her practice of drinking a strong gin and tonic with a lime, once a day. She is not the only one.

And, perhaps the best news, I've completed the first pass at my novel's revision.

A woman investigates her twin's unexpected death.

However, I've made a lot of notes on OTHER things I want to change before I send it to the copyeditor. At the rate I'm getting it done, I may actually finish before the end of the month. That's my plan, as I intend to enter National Novel Writing Month again this year.

If you'd like to be notified when it's available.here's a link to the page to sign up. Just hit the Blue Button below the picture.


     Let’s discuss “dirty money.” What’s your definition of it?

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers have noticed the...well, I was about to say flood, but it’s really more of a trickle...of persons in the political elite “donating” money they once received from Harvey Weinstein to various charities. Have you stopped to ask why they’re doing so? And why, inversely, the ones who aren’t doing so have chosen that course?

     The money itself isn’t soiled in some physical sense. Indeed, it’s entirely “virtual,” as is most money in these United States, and therefore cannot be soiled. But it came from a man now regarded as a terrible sinner, possibly even a criminal. That makes it a token of an unsavory association – and you may rest assured that anyone who received a substantial donation from Harvey Weinstein is anxious to live that association down.

     But what about the money? Why does the money itself bear any odium? Isn’t money just a medium of exchange, through which we conduct our commercial relations? How is it possible that the money bears any of the weight of Weinstein’s sins? He didn’t come by it through those sins, but by financing the making of movies that made money for him.

     Sorry folks, but there’s no parallel to Judas’s thirty pieces of silver.

     If you aren’t aware by now that I’m a Catholic, you haven’t been paying attention. At any rate, unless you’ve been living in a riverbank cave in Montenegro since birth, you’ll certainly know about Catholics’ use of holy water and the reverence we show to various relics. It’s one of the odder practices of our religion, and one that I’ve recently been pondering.

     Holy water and relics are deemed special because...why? There’s a ritual involved in the blessing of holy water that supposedly imbues it with God’s grace. How does that work, seeing that grace is defined as God’s benevolent love for His creatures? I shan’t argue that He would be unable to deposit some of that in a tangible medium such as holy water, but...why? Wouldn’t it be a shorter trip just to bestow it on those who need and ask for it? But this is mostly a digression.

     Relics, on the other hand, are physical objects believed to have some association with one or more of the saints, or in the case of bits of the True Cross, with Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and second Person of the Trinity. But why are they believed to have spiritual value? Why should fondling a relic do the holder any good? Isn’t it more about the communicant’s faith in God and devotion to His Commandments?

     Here the parallel, or antiparallel if you prefer, to Weinstein’s money is pretty close. The association with persons – or a Person –believed to have done great good imbues objects with some of that good...in our minds at least, but possibly nowhere else. The objects themselves can’t claim any credit for the deeds done by their previous owners. Not even in the case of a fragment of a saint’s bones.

     There’s something to be said for the use of relics as objects through which to contemplate those who have demonstrated great goodness. There’s nothing to be said for deeming money to have been corrupted by those who’ve done evil deeds with it or for it. Money is an inherently good thing, and he who has earned it should always be proud to accept it. Hearken to Robert A. Heinlein on the subject:

     There arrived in the mail, from Mr. Secretary General Joseph Edgerton Douglas, a checkbook and papers; his brother Jubal took pains to explain what money was and how it was used. Mike failed to understand, even though Jubal showed him how to make out a check, gave him “money” in exchange for it, taught him to count it.
     Then suddenly, with grokking so blinding that he trembled, he understood money. These pretty pictures and bright medallions were not “money;” they were symbols for an idea which spread through these people, all through their world. But things were not money, any more than water shared was growing-closer. Money was an idea, as abstract as an Old One's thoughts — money was a great structured symbol for balancing and healing and growing closer.
     Mike was dazzled with the magnificent beauty of money.
     The flow and change and countermarching of symbols was beautiful in small, reminding him of games taught nestlings to encourage them to reason and grow, but it was the totality that dazzled him, an entire world reflected in one dynamic symbol structure. Mike then grokked that the Old Ones of this race were very old indeed to have composed such beauty; he wished humbly to be allowed to meet one.

     [From Stranger In A Strange Land]

     While money has been used to facilitate corruption, it is not in and of itself corrupt. It cannot be. However, they who have accepted it for their participation in a corrupt scheme are often at pains to separate themselves from it – not because the money itself is “dirty,” but because they are, and they seek to “hide the evidence.” When we contemplate the close association between Harvey Weinstein and the Clintons, for example, we immediately note the similarities between the two men. We can’t miss the miasma of venality that attaches to the Clintons themselves. It’s especially pungent in Hillary’s case: the “Secretary of State” who used her position to enrich herself by selling America’s uranium supply to Vladimir Putin.

     Some would make an exception for “drug money.” Yet here there be tygers. “Drug money” is money acquired through the sale of some illegal drug, right? But it was probably earned quite legitimately by the buyer, at least – and how shall we deal with the contradictions involved in changes in the laws? Would “drug money,” held to be tainted because it was earned by selling an illegal substance, lose that taint were the law to be changed to make such commerce legal?

     I know, I know: too strenuous a topic for a Monday morning. But it’s representative of the way my thoughts are trending, as I’ll be speaking to my pastor about relics and holy water later in the week.

Interview with Syrian president Assad, February 16, 2017.

This is the man whom the U.S. has spent billions to remove. Her Nikkiness at the U.N. at this very hour, articulating her person, independent foreign policy, maintains that Assad must go.

Why is anyone's guess but you can see for yourself in this video the agenda of the Western press in interviewing him. One interviewer twists his hanky over the French abhorrence of terrorism and laments what he thinks is the undemocratic nature of the Syrian government yet France visited death and destruction on Libya, plunged that country into an orgy of salafist terror, and crushes free speech at home. And the French government floods France with millions of Muslims and Africans without so much as a by your leave to the whites of France. Civilized and democratic France.

Listen to Pres. Assad talk about Syria and draw your own conclusions about who in the world is a reasonable, measured leader. For extra credit, compare and contrast him with the Manly Gripper Macron, the clueless May, and the scheming Merkel. This video illustrates what a steaming pile the Western media campaign against Assad is. Whatever it is that the U.S. is doing in its covert war first to remove Assad and now to dismember Syria, you can be sure that it is something dishonorable and unclean.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pulp ‘Em!

     Have you heard about the Pulp Revolution? It’s an exciting new development in speculative fiction. Hearken to Christian Toto’s description of it:

     The Pulp Revolution is not a genre or subgenre. It has no leader. And it is not a revival nor an imitation of the older sci-fi and fantasy authors in what is known as the pulp era. In the words of P. Alexander, publisher of Cirsova Magazine,
     “We are not hell bent on re-inhabiting the past; we are using it as a launching point to go off in new directions. We do not ignore nor do we deny the influence of writers who are not from the pulp eras.”

     I’d call PulpRev a conscious decision to reject labels and pre-defined genres in order to tell the most thought-provoking, and action-packed stories possible without getting bogged down in what is “real science” or “hard sci-fi” or “deconstructing fantasy” or whatever. And especially without using the story as nothing more than a piece of political propaganda, even for the politics that the writer agrees with.

     Stories might have a message, but they don’t need to be message fiction.

     If you’re within a decade or two of my advanced age – I’m 65, for those of you keeping score at home – you might remember when magazine racks featured a good many magazines of a squarish shape, printed on coarse-grained paper. Most of those periodicals were in the genres popular in those days: westerns, mysteries, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror. Many a writer who later rose to prominence got his start in the pulps. I remember reading an early edition of Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero in a pulp magazine, Galaxy Science Fiction, under its original title: To Outlive Eternity. (I would guess that Anderson changed it because the original title was something of a giveaway.)

     The pulps offered entertainment: nothing else, but nothing less. The stories they published were guaranteed to divert you. They might offer no compelling message. They might not be linked to some au courant Cause. But if you were there to be entertained, diverted from Earthbound concerns for an hour or two, they were a solid bet.

     The genres were a lot more fun back then.

     Several fresh publications – some on paper, some Web-only – have reintroduced the idea of genre fiction that’s fun. A writer can come at that concept from a lot of directions. He can write stuff that serves up a generous helping of WHAM-BANG-POW-KRAKK-ZOOM! Artie Simek, call your office – and essentially nothing else, or he can wrap such a story around important human motivations – “to illuminate eternal verities,” as Tom Kratman has put it – or he can hare off in some other direction guaranteed to blow your mind, just as long as his first priority, not to be compromised for any other consideration, is entertainment.

     Sounds like a positive development to me! What about you, Gentle Reader?

     I encountered writer Jon Mollison only yesterday, through his smashing novel Space Princess. (Read my review if you want my working definition of “smashing.”) Its story is well off the beaten track for contemporary fiction. It could conceivably if ungenerously be taken as a “tract” by a reader hostile to the Catholic Church. Yet it offers a vibrantly colored setting, a unique cast of characters, and nonstop action...to say nothing of the opening bit of wisdom:

     Never start a small project on a Sunday night. They always take more time and cause more hassle than expected.

     How indisputable! How could anyone not read onward after so pithy a confirmation of an important eternal verity?

     Mollison identifies himself with the Pulp Revolution. If Space Princess is any indication, he’s true to the core concept: he strives to entertain. I’m about to start one of his other books. If you’re a reader who deplores “message fiction” and yearns for the good ol’ days when writers understood the primacy of reader entertainment, you might want to give him a look too.

     But that’s to the side. Here are Mollison’s recommendations for those who approve of the idea of fiction as Entertainment Uber Alles and want to see the Pulp Revolution pick up stea:

  • Back the Alt*Hero comic book line by Castalia House. Even a couple of bucks adds numbers to the “Backers” count and strengthens the argument that an audience for such works exists.
  • Subscribe to YouTube cultural critics such as Diversity and Comics, Capn Cummings, and Nerkish. You don’t have to watch every video. Just lending your name helps demonstrate the something rotten in the Kingdom of Marvel.
  • Reject the big boys in the tabletop RPG industry and support independent designers like Autarch of Adventurer Conqueror King fame. Impervious to rot that pervades the larger corporate designers, their works have all the quality of his larger competitors and twice the energy.
  • Back the small press short fiction market. Cirsova, Storyhack, and Tales from the Magician’s Skull all offer the same excitement and adventure as the staid old relics of a by gone era, without the downside of sending your money to people who hate you.
  • Stop watching the NFL. Scale back your movie-going. Cancel Netflix. You don’t have to quit cold turkey. You can’t kill that giant, but you can make it bleed. Just think hard about every dollar you send to the people who supported Harvey Weinstein. If everyone cut their spending on Hollywood by half, it would crash within six months.

     I plan to do all that myself...well, except for canceling Netflix. I can’t do that, as I never subscribed.

     My crap doesn’t seem – to me, at least – to fit the Pulp Revolution’s parameters. It’s a bit too cerebral. It only entertains those who like stories wrapped around an intriguing moral or ethical conception. But I heartily approve of the Revolution’s aims. I plan to delve deeply into it. And as usual for your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web, I’ll be keeping you posted.

     After all, who doesn’t want to be entertained? Isn’t that what we hope for with every book we buy? And wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a source of such fiction? Perhaps published behind a cover emblazoned with a guarantee:

We, The Publishers, Guarantee,
Under Penalty Of Extreme Embarrassment,
That The Story Or Stories In this Publication
Will Entertain You.
There Are No Other Warranties,
Express Or Implied.

     I can’t wait. As for the vendors of "message fiction" and the dreary publications they lay before us...pulp 'em!


     Has anyone noticed just how ready far too many Americans are to believe an accusation over a denial – in fact, to regard the denial as proof of the accusation?

     Perhaps you have. I certainly have.

     I’ve told this little parable more than once, but its import keeps being missed:

     Some years ago, a theater impresario whom we shall call Smith, whose current production Hoity-Toity was, shall we say, not repaying its production costs received a phone call from Jones, a well-known reporter for the prestigious publication Theater Life. Their conversation ran as follows:

     "Mr. Smith," Jones said, "I'm calling to ask a few questions about Hoity-Toity."

     "Go right ahead," Smith said.

     "Well, first of all," Jones said, "the talk is that Hoity-Toity is falling deeply into arrears and will soon be closed. Is that the case?"

     Smith, a careful and experienced man, counted to ten before answering. "I would imagine that if I were to say no, your story in tomorrow's edition would be headlined 'Smith Denies Hoity-Toity Near To Closing.' Am I correct?"

     "Well, yes," Jones said. "Something like that, anyway."

     "Well, then," Smith said, "I'll answer your question if you'll answer one for me. How's that sound?"

     "Fair enough," Jones said warily. "What's your question?"

     "Mr. Jones, is it true that your wife has syphilis?"

     "What?" Jones shrieked. "Why are you asking me that? What put such an idea into your head?"

"Oh, you know how the rumor mill churns," Smith said breezily. "But, as it happens, you're on speakerphone and Davis is here from Variety. If you were to answer no, he might have a story in tomorrow's edition headlined 'Jones Denies Wife Has Syphilis.' What would you think of a story like that?"

     There was a long silence on the line. Finally, Jones said, "All right, Smith. I take your point."

     Now that’s a complete fiction, pulled out of the air by my excessively inventive imagination (which, for some reason or other, has refused to choose a new plot on which to set to work since I completed Innocents). But there’s a multiply verified anecdote about an American politician that’s eloquent on this point as well.

     The politician was running for a seat in Congress, and was having a hard time establishing a lead over his opponent. So he instructed an aide to circulate a rumor that the opponent was known to have sex with pigs.

     The aide was astonished. “How could we say such a thing? We know that’s not true.”

     The politician smiled grimly. “I know. I just want to hear him deny it.”

     The politician, who eventually became the 36th president of these United States, was Lyndon Baines Johnson.

     It’s not about truth or falsehood. It’s not even about our attraction to scandal. It’s about our propensity to believe the worst about others we don’t know personally, on virtually no evidence.

     A man of integrity, who holds himself to a moral-ethical standard, will not mount an accusation he knows is untrue. However, such a man, however strictly he regulates his own conduct, might suffer a flaw that’s common to good men: the tendency to believe that others’ ethics are the same as his. So when ethical man Smith hears an accusation from Jones, whom he knows only slightly, against complete unknown Davis, he’s likely to proceed from the assumption that Jones “wouldn’t say that if he didn’t sincerely believe it.” His willingness to believe the accusation won’t be much affected by his evaluation of Jones.

     What factors would enter into Smith’s acceptance or dismissal of the accusation?

  1. Stories he’d heard previously about Davis or the company he keeps;
  2. His opinion of some group to which Davis belongs (e.g., his religion, race, sex, or ethnicity);
  3. His opinion of Davis’s occupation;
  4. His political convictions.

     There may be other factors, but those are the most commonly effective.

     It is not entirely unfair or unwise for Smith to consider the first three of those things in forming his opinion of Jones’s accusation against Davis. We are routinely judged according to such matters. Juries do it all the time, and they’re not frequently wrong. But those considerations are peripheral to the substance of any accusation. Others are far more imperative:

  1. Were there witnesses to the event?
  2. Is there any circumstantial evidence?

     Item #4 is quite another matter.

     Activists on the Left have made a habit of denouncing anyone they disagree with as a “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” “white supremacist,” or what have you, usually without any evidence whatsoever. This speaks to two characteristics of persons on the Left:

  1. Their “assumption of differential rectitude;”
  2. Their unwillingness to concede the integrity and sincerity of their political opponents.

     The first of those elements indemnifies them – to their own consciences if nothing else – for hurling scurrilous accusations potent enough to ruin the life of a good man. The second is built into the “compact and unified church” of the Left (Eric Hoffer): the premise that only those on the Left can be reasonable, moral, “compassionate,” and so forth.

     However, as Tom Kratman said in his postscript to A Desert Called Peace:

     [I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....

     If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.

     This seems lost on the current enemy, but then, he's insane. It's very sad. Yes, it's very sad for us, too.

     The Left should fear this dynamic. They’re in far more danger from it than we in the Right who’ve endured it for decades and have learned to shrug off their slanders. Yet there is danger to us, as well.

     I dislike the hurling of accusations “to see what sticks.” I particularly dislike accusations about attitudes, prejudicial or otherwise. But those, being inherently substanceless, can be “shrugged off” with a little practice, and the testimony of one’s family and friends. Accusations of criminal wrongdoing are a far more serious matter.

     Recently we’ve seen a few high-profile individuals drowned by such accusations. They may be true; they may not. But the part of a good man is not to assume guilt but rather innocence until guilt has been proved. That should go without saying, which makes the necessity of saying it painful. More, the presumption of innocence should not be conditional upon political affiliation.

     Good men do not slander others. It is especially vile, a clear violation of the Eighth Commandment, to do so for utilitarian reasons such as political gain. We should not make accusations of truly evil conduct without substantial evidence to support them. That the Left frequently does so does not license us to do likewise.

     You might want to consult Gary Condit on the subject.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Innocents: Some Questions

     First, my thanks to all of you who’ve purchased Innocents. My special thanks to those of you who’ve reviewed it at Amazon. My extra-super-interstellar thanks to those of you who’ve recommended it to others. Word-of-mouth is an indie writer’s best advertising. Indeed, it’s the only form of promotion my books receive.

     Second, it’s time for me to provide the answers to some of the questions readers have sent me about the book, most of which begin with “Why?”

     One reader wrote to ask “Why is Innocents so much shorter than your other novels?” And yes, for those unacquainted with my other novels, it’s the second shortest of all the novels I’ve published; only Love in the Time of Cinema is shorter.

     This one is fairly easy. I’ve caused myself a lot of difficulties in the past by trying to control the length of a story. I have a feeling that a lot of writers do that, as we’re all aware that the “big hits” are almost always big books. You’ll seldom see a book at the top of the best-seller lists that’s less than 350 pages (approximately 100,000 words). Indeed, the average length of a best-selling novel is greater than that.

     But to obsess over the length of a story is to demote the story itself to a secondary consideration. However much story there is, that’s what there is. I could not have extended Innocents beyond its existing length without packing it with filler: unsatisfying side crap that would have detracted from the impact of the story proper.

     On the one hand, it’s a high compliment for a reader to write that “I only wish it were longer.” On the other, it’s a terrible temptation to the writer...one I’ve striven to resist.

     Several readers have written to ask whether Innocents will have a sequel. This has me torn. The themes in the novel are all fairly well encapsulated there. What would I address in a sequel? Kevin Conway’s pursuit of the villains behind the production of futanari sex slaves? Well, yes, there’s an obvious adventure tale there, especially as a Yakuza organization capable of initiating a sub-business of that sort would be large and mighty. The Athene Academy connection might deserve more exploration as well, especially in light of that most unusual college’s involvement with Larry Sokoloff’s little problem.

     The major problem here is coming up with a theme around which to wrap a sequel. I don’t write vanilla adventure, or vanilla anything else. I need an animating idea, some thesis about human nature and its consequences for human interaction, before I can get my condensers sufficiently charged to write a story. At the moment, I don’t have one.

     But perhaps the previous sentence should be edited to read “I don’t have one...yet.

     The most stimulating of the questions I’ve received is one you might have been wondering about yourself: “Why did you write about this?” At this time, there are no “natural born” futanari. The genetics of the thing might just be impossible, non-viable. The only humans that fit the surface description – i.e., female in all externally perceptible ways except for the possession of male genitalia – were born as ordinary males and have made themselves futanari-like by surgical means. So there’s no demand for an Athene Academy, and Larry Sokoloff’s little problem isn’t a present-day possibility.

     Or so you might assume!

     It’s been observed many times that just about any English-language noun or verb, if prefixed or suffixed by “sex” and plugged into Google, will generate thousands of hits. Sex isn’t just the “oldest funny subject” (Robert A. Heinlein). It’s also the drive most widely shared by human beings of all ages , places, and times. You have to be very young, very old, or very unusual not to be interested in sex. That’s a big part of what made the following passage from Freedom’s Fury hit my readers so hard:

     “May I ask a personal question, Claire?”
     “Go ahead.”
     “Do you have someone special?”
     The bioengineer looked at her quizzically. “No. Why do you ask?”
     “Just curious. How long has it been?”
     “Since...you know. Since there was someone special.”
     Albermayer was slow to reply.
     “There’s never been anyone like that for me, Althea.”
     “What? Are you serious?”
     Albermayer nodded.
     “But you’re...you were in school with my grandfather Armand!”
     “Yes, I was.”
     “And you’ve never had a lover?”
     Another long pause.
     “I have no sex drive, Althea.” The words were drier than the dust between the stars. “I never have. I could never see the point of an intimate involvement, so I never formed one. I severely doubt one would have lasted.” Albermayer’s slight smile spoke of an isolation beyond Althea’s ken. She squeezed Althea gently, making the pumps in Althea’s suit whine. “This is the closest I’ve been to another person in more than a century....
     “There’s something missing from me, Althea. At least, my parents thought so. I hear other people talk about their emotional attachments—I hear the passion in your voice when you speak of your husband, and in Nora’s when she talks of hers—and it’s like a glimpse into the mind of an alien species. I’ve never felt anything like that for anyone.
     “I’ve been courted a few times. My suitors couldn’t decide what to make of my non-responsiveness. For my part, I never grasped their interest, what attracted them to me sufficiently to justify their efforts. I was always made slightly uncomfortable by that sort of attention, as if I were being told that something was expected of me that I simply couldn’t deliver.”

     Sex isn’t about mere sensation. It isn’t about reproduction, though that’s its biological function. It’s about winning the most intimate form of acceptance from another person. Those who, for whatever reason, can no longer “perform” remember what it meant to attain that degree of intimacy. And they miss it and yearn for it.

     That having been said, there are persons who have sexual or parasexual desires that diverge greatly from what the rest of us feel. Homosexuals. Polyamorists. Fetishists of various kinds. That bulging grab-bag labeled “polymorphously perverse.” Remember that bit about Google searches.

     With an estimated 7.5 billion persons alive at this time, you can bet the rent money that there are persons whose deepest desire is for a futanari lover. Indeed, I can prove it: there’s a substantial “industry” dedicated to serving that desire. Many who are aware of it speak of it as a Southeast Asian phenomenon, but there’s an outcropping of it here in the United States as well.

     So what would happen if some of those folks – the richer ones – were to look into whether it might be possible to have “lovers” made to order? Including the sort of conditioning poor helpless Fountain had to endure? Are you sure it’s impossible? More, are you certain the rest of us would ever learn about it?

     But that’s only half of the reason for the story.

     My two greatest reasons for writing, whether fiction or these interminable op-eds, are to promote Christian moral-ethical norms and to illustrate the importance of human freedom. Those are the fuels that power every last syllable I’ve written. Innocents and the “Athene Academy” stories are not exceptions.

     On the one hand, I continue to believe that the “transgender” phenomenon is a fad that will soon burn itself out. There are very few persons whose emotional health genuinely requires a sex change. Moreover, it seems that quite a lot of transgender individuals regret having transitioned and are coming forward to say so. On the other hand, I’ve made the acquaintance of two transwomen who appear to have needed their transitions for their emotional well-being. It’s on that basis that I find myself unable to condemn the thing entirely.

     Freedom must, by necessity, include the right to “make your own mistakes.” There is no alternative; else we would have no fundamental argument with the bien-pensants who’d very much like to rule us all, down to the smallest detail. Moreover, anyone can be wrong about anything, so posturing as an authority is a dangerous perch to mount. Falling from that sort of perch is rather humiliating.

     Now add this:

     Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother, Let me cast the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [Matthew 7:1-4]

     The Redeemer was pretty definite about it.

     They whose choices we deplore are individuals with free will and souls of their own. We are not responsible for their choices; we are responsible for our behavior toward them. How much more, then, would we be required to respect, to love, and to protect those whose circumstances have been forced upon them? Futanari such as the students and staff of Athene Academy? Genetically engineered individuals such as Fountain?

     I would agree that were we to discover an enterprise that deliberately turns out genetically engineered futanari, conditioned sex slaves, or a combination of the two, it would be morally imperative to stamp it out and salt the ground from which it sprang. But our proper attitude toward the products of such an enterprise, being humans with souls as valuable as yours or mine, would be quite another matter. Father Ray’s closing statements to Larry Sokoloff proceed from that conviction.

     I see that once again I’ve gone on at greater length than I originally intended. It’s like the problem of the “lazy preacher” who writes long sermons: once he gets to writing, he’s too lazy to stop. But that’s what writers are like, and I’m a writer, so have a little pity.

     A final thought: Time was, all fiction took the form of the play, and plays were categorized as follows:

  • Miracle: The central element was some event that seems to contradict the laws of Nature.
  • Mystery: The story turns on some inscrutable element of the Divine.
  • Morality: The story concerns an aspect of morality and what happens when it’s disregarded.

     I’m comfortable with giving Innocents any of those labels. One way or another, I hope it’s provided you with some food for thought.

Quickies: Who’s Watching Them Now?

     First, have some mood music from a few years back. Then perhaps we should turn the question inside out:

     Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews tweeted that if a new rule requiring professional football players to stand during the national anthem is instituted, he will quit the NFL. That was immediately after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that all players should stand for the Anthem. Rumors followed that a rule was soon coming down.

     According to WSMV News 4, Matthews of the Tennessee Titans tweeted, “No I will be done playing football”. They grabbed a screenshot of the tweet which was quickly deleted.

     The player mentioned above is unknown to me. Then again, most NFL players are unknown to me. The rest will quickly become unknown, as we at the Fortress of Crankitude no longer watch NFL games. Herewith, three questions:

  • Who still watches NFL games?
  • Why?
  • What would cause him to refrain?

     The league might not be around too much longer. It’s already lost about a third of its viewership, and sponsors have noticed. Given that a typical NFL franchise spends by far the greater part of its revenues on player salaries, those salaries are swiftly becoming unaffordable. That should provide a rather stern lesson to Roger Goodell and his cronies, to say nothing of the several players who’ve “taken a knee” during the Star Spangled Banner to protest their “oppression.”

     Say, remember when the newly elected President Bill (not Hillary) Clinton promised us a Cabinet that “looks like America” -- ? Maybe if we had an NFL that “looks like America”...or at least, one that doesn’t sneer at us evil white folk...naah:

Friday, October 13, 2017


     ...is a good match to her name:

     Precious is a 7-year-old, 70 pound pit bull mix. We adopted her just yesterday from the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter, so she’s still settling in somewhat, but so far, so good.

     She’s sort of imprinted on me: goes where I go, stops where I stop, sits when I sit...sometimes where I sit. It’s like having a 70 pound weight attached to my leg. But at least we have no worries that she’ll run away looking for her previous family.

     Precious is not Rufus. We’re not trying to “replace” Rufus. But we had room for another dog in our home and our hearts, so why leave a sweet animal in a shelter for any longer than necessary? Now if I could just find a way to get a little time alone...

Quickies: The 25th Amendment

     Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh spoke of two articles that suggested that the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office:

     The 25th Amendment basically is the cabinet gets together and votes on whether or not the president is competent to serve, and, if not, they vote him out of office and there’s a line of succession that would assume power. This happens. And more and more people — well, it’s two that I’ve seen and maybe more than that — are now saying we’re on the verge of needing this because Trump is losing his mind. Trump is wandering around aimlessly in the White House with no friends. He’s muttering to the photos on the wall. He’s lost it and is on the verge of losing it completely.

     Subsequently, a caller asked him the following:

     CALLER: I wonder if they have thought about how they’re going to deal with the fallout if they are actually successful, because the Trump supporters are not just gonna walk away, shrug their shoulders, and leave. They are gonna rip this country apart.

     RUSH: They don’t care. They don’t care what you’re doing now. They don’t care! They don’t care. They literally don’t care. This is not about you. It’s never been about you and Trump’s voters, except to the extent that they could distance Trump voters from Trump, and if to do that they have to get rid of Trump… That’s what they’ve been trying to do since election night.

     I must disagree. The political elite wants Trump gone, but it wants his supporters to accept the coup quietly. The stories and rumblings about Trump becoming erratic, unstable, and so forth aren’t aimed at the Cabinet; they’re aimed at us. They’ll approach the Cabinet, whose members are mainly career politicians or military, with bribes: offers of power and prestige.

     It’s getting us, Trump’s supporters, to “take it and shut up” that matters most to the political elite. The Cabinet can oust the president, but no one can “oust” us – and no matter what anyone else might tell you, the American people retain the ability to overturn the political order. We have the means; what the elite want to deny us is the motivation.

I've Been MIA For a Few Days

UPDATE: I found a link that I thought worthy of reading - posted here.

I made a strong push in my revisions - I think I can finish them by the end of next week. I'm anxious to, because I want to have the time to plan my next book before NaNoWriMo starts November 1.

The next book will be a sci-fi story, with a murder mystery twist. It's much more complicated, involving building a world in detail, and sketching out the galaxy's political/social dimensions, as well. I'm planning this as the first book in a series, so I want to get things right.

It's taken me about a year for this first book, although, to be honest, I spent a lot of that time avoiding working on it. Realistically, I'm shooting for about 6 -8 months of writing/revision, now that I better understand this process.

I want to have the first book up on Kindle before Easter. I should be finished and ready comfortably before then.

I'm attaching a link to my Facebook Promotional Page. Hit the blue button to get on the mailing list to be notified when the book is out there. Of course, I won't be selling any info - this is strictly for my own books.

Quickies: Redefinitions

     “It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” – You know perfectly well who.

     For human communication to be trustworthy, specific words must have specific meanings, especially when used in public. If you are unwilling to agree in toto with that statement, you might as well stop reading right now.

     Quite a lot of people are trying their best to redefine the words censor and censorship. I refuse to permit this to pass unchallenged. To censor has always had a specific meaning: to forbid the expression of certain facts or ideas by the threat of punishment.

     Publishers cannot censor. Neither can wholesalers or retailers. They can hide a book. They can discourage mention of it by their employees. They can obscure its availability. They can refuse to have anything to do with it. They can arrange for it to be denounced, whether in their “house organs” or by other writers. But they cannot punish him who seeks to offer it to the general public. That takes a government: an institution with the pre-indemnified use of coercive force against private persons or institutions and their property.

     The emotional power of the word censorship must not be diluted by allowing agenda-laden persons to redefine it to suit their purposes. John Peter Zenger would rise from his grave in horror at the sight. There are other words available that would accurately express the travails of those who can’t get published, or are having their sales impeded, by private institutions. We don’t yet live in a nation in which a publishing company can kill, confine, or expropriate you without breaking the law. God willing, we never will.

Quickies: The Public-Policy Implications of the Weinstein Scandal

     Considering the financial and reputational damage Harvey Weinstein’s sex scandal is doing to The Weinstein Company, how long will it be before left-liberals demand federal support for it, on the grounds that it’s “too big to fail?”

It’s Here (Sticky; Scroll Down For New Posts)

     For those of you who’ve been waiting:

     A novel of the Onteora Canon, set in the very near future. Genetic engineering and zygotic microsurgery have produced both wonders and horrors. Wonders such as drugs tailored to attack a specific disease in a specific sufferer, or surgery to eliminate genetically borne handicaps before mitosis can begin. Horrors such as blindness or deafness deliberately inflicted upon unborn babies, or pitiable creatures whose bodies and minds are warped to satisfy the whims of wealthy perverts.

     Security specialist Larry Sokoloff is on vacation far from home, straining to forget a woman he loves but cannot have, when Fountain, a teenaged escapee from a malevolent institution, comes under his protection. What he learns of her nature and origins lays bare the darker face of the Janus of biotechnology, and catapults him and his colleague Trish McAvoy into a mission of vengeance and cleansing. For adults only.

     Innocents, an Amazon “KDP Select” exclusive, is currently $2.99. Around the turn of the year, depending on how sales have gone, I’ll consider releasing it at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

America joins the third world.

The moment Americans passively sat back and allowed hostile, left-wing elites to pass a law that could effectively bankrupt harmless little cafes in backwoods Tennessee because they held and their patrons held personal racial preferences that the US power structure didn’t approve of, that made the effective persecution of “racists” a moral and legal mandate, it was all over for the America that had existed prior to the Civil Rights era, its Western heritage and its genetic profile. When whites ceded control of their own communities and the demographic profile of those communities to the Federal Government, all the Federal Government had to do at that point to effectively genocide them was to stop enforcing immigration law and defending the borders (which it promptly did, and in conjunction with changes in immigration policy itself, i.e. Hart-Celler, the demographic transformation of America would be both rapid and radical). Now Americans were being invaded on multiple levels and besieged daily from every direction. We couldn’t keep Third World peoples out of our communities or our country! So much for there being any choice in the matter. Between cultural proximity that leads to intimidation by more primitive populations, the cultural decline that naturally accompanies the emulation of less intellectually gifted peoples, the temptation that leads to miscegenation and a hundred like attendant forces, white America was finished and so too was America itself, at least the White/Euro-dominated versions of it.
" America Became 1984 In 1964, Civil Rights was the first step in the march towards Totalitarianism." By Guest Writer, AltRight.com, 10/11/17.

Why the Alt-Right.

Equality is a false god. Madly pursuing gender equality or racial equality or any equality for that matter is a road to nowhere except misery and serfdom.

Aspiring to enforce any moral system, including but not limited to the Cultural Marxist moral system currently being enforced in the Western World, down to trivial and minor and private activities, down to the level of personal preference, words, free association, customer choice, political values, etc. is itself the root of totalitarianism. The Alt-Right only exists because the actual right doesn’t seem capable of addressing this mother of all issues, and because of that, it cannot possibly save America or anything in America worth saving, including but not limited to the race that founded and forged it.

" America Became 1984 In 1964, Civil Rights was the first step in the march towards Totalitarianism." By Guest Writer, AltRight.com, 10/11/17.

On the recent NRA sellout on bump stocks.

Wayne LaPierre was wringing his hanky of late over "bump stocks." The usual common sense from Remus on that:
The NRA is supposed to stand against mindless stampedes, not join them.
Remus, "Yer Ol' Woodpile Report," #499, 10/10/17.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Farewell And Godspeed

     Rufus, our eight year old Newfoundland, passed away at 11:25 this morning. He’d been suffering from B-cell lymphoma and a compromised spinal cord. We’d had him on three different kinds of chemotherapy, and the cancer had developed an immunity to all three. He’d become indifferent to food and extremely lethargic. Despite multiple painkillers, he was almost unable to walk. We did what was necessary.

     Goodbye, beloved friend. May God clasp you to His bosom, where you’ve always belonged.

     Don’t expect much from me for a few days.

“Not Like That”

WALKER: She's something, isn't she?

RACINE: (nods) A lovely lady.

WALKER: Yes, she is. I'm crazy about her. If I ever thought she was seeing another guy... I don't know. I'd understand how it could happen. Her being the way she is. I'd understand it. But I think I'd kill the guy with my bare hands.

RACINE: That's understandable.

WALKER: You wouldn't believe the dorkus she was with when I met her. The guy came to us with a business proposition. We're always looking for opportunities. If the conditions are right. We're willing to take an occasional risk, if the downside isn't too steep. But this guy hadn't done his homework, he didn't know the bottom line. That's how I knew he was full of shit. You've got to know the bottom line. That's all that really counts....He didn't have the goods, this guy. He was like a lot of guys you run into -- they want to get rich, they want to do it quick, they want to be there with one score....But they're not willing to do what's necessary. Do you know what I mean?

RACINE: I'm not sure. You mean, lay the groundwork? Earn it?

WALKER: No. I mean do what's necessary. Whatever's necessary.

RACINE: Yeah. I know that kind of guy. I can't stand that. It makes me sick.

WALKER: Me too.

RACINE: I'm not like that.

[Lawrence Kasdan, Body Heat]

     Most patterns do have exceptions. When the pattern is a negative one about people or a subgroup thereof, anyone affected by the pattern wants to be an exception. It’s possible that Smith, who’s part of the relevant group or closely connected to someone in it, and who wants that exception will have it. But what are the odds?

     Certain conspicuous patterns are receiving attention that make the affected parties unhappy. They greatly dislike the notion that because they’re Muslims, or illegal aliens, or left-liberals, or feminists, or politicians, they’ve been tagged with the negative characteristics the patterns attribute to those groups. Like seedy Florida lawyer Ned Racine, whom the beautiful, totally unscrupulous Matty Walker seduces into murdering her husband, they proclaim that “I’m not like that!” They want to be treated as exceptions. Sometimes they are treated that way...whether or not they deserve to be.

     Ned Racine wasn’t “like that” in one particular way – he was willing to kill to take Matty for himself – but he was “like that” in another – he wanted to “be there with one score.” The resolution of his ambitions worked out badly for him.

     Perceptible patterns among adequately defined groups are the basis of stereotypes. The late Joseph Sobran once called stereotypes “amateur sociology.” The bien-pensants are quick to denounce stereotypes, and to call anyone who makes use of one a bigot of some sort. But a stereotype that doesn’t prove accurate more often than not would not last. If the exceptions outnumber those who conform, making the pattern more illusory than real, they can’t fairly be called exceptions.

     In his “Ten Conservative Principles,” the late Russell Kirk, one of the godfathers of contemporary conservatism, expressed a sense that stereotypes and the prejudices they sometimes animate have a place we should not deny to them:

     It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.

     Despite the wisdom it expresses, there are some limitations to Kirk’s defense of prescription according to longevity of usage. It is unfair and unjust, for example, to judge an individual on any basis other than his individual character and merits – if one has the time and opportunity to find out what those are. But as is the case wherever it appears, the critical word in the previous sentence is if.

     If the pattern is sound, the exceptions will be fewer than the conformants. We may wish it were otherwise; indeed, in many cases it will be our fondest desire. But desire is not a basis for rational thought.

     Some patterns have a discernible origin point in time. Some have a discernible end point. If either or both of those can be determined, the pattern’s utility can be confined to the relevant interval. However, a pattern that is currently ongoing should receive the appropriate respect. The cautions it implies should not be dismissed.

     Consider contemporary feminism, sometimes called “third wave” feminism. Though only a minority of American women currently call themselves feminists, feminist convictions are more commonplace than the candid acceptance of the label. In other words, more American women hold feminist convictions than are willing to admit to it...to a man, at least. The pattern among women who hold those convictions is to regard men as oppressors and enemies. More, those beliefs will inevitably express themselves in their treatment of the men in their lives. That makes it rather important for a man who’s considering a romantic entanglement to determine whether the object of his affections is such a woman.

     However, “third wave” feminism didn’t really get started until the Seventies. Prior to that, its defining premises were exceedingly rare. Romance was considerably safer for men in the previous years. Should “third wave” feminism burn out and become a memory of an unpleasant era in male-female relations, happy days would be here again.

     Meanwhile, a substantial number of women – the ones who aren’t moaning “Where have all the good men gone?” – must somehow convey to their current romantic interests that “I’m not like that.” It’s proving to be a tough sell, for two overriding reasons:

  • The pattern has many more conformants than exceptions among American women;
  • Actions speak more loudly than words.

     The second of those observations is one of the oldest maxims of prudence. Ralph Waldo Emerson phrased it most memorably: “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” The exceptional woman’s great obstacle is this: until he permits her to insinuate herself rather deeply into his life and affairs, she’ll have a very hard time demonstrating by her actions that she really isn’t “like that.”

     Analogous observations could be made about Muslims, illegal aliens, left-liberals, and politicians.

     These days, a member of a group that exhibits a negative pattern has a harder time establishing that he’s “not like that” than a few decades ago. The downside risk to the person(s) he’s trying to persuade is higher than it’s ever been. Identity politics plays an important role in this, but there are other factors, such as our greatly accelerated social atomization, that should not be neglected.

     If you identify with some generally understood group, the above is for you quite as much as for those you’d like to persuade that you’re “not like that.” Consider it in light of my exhortations not to be a “joiner.” The recognition of the relationship between those two subjects would do the people of this nation a great deal of good.

1285 Years Ago...

...the Battle of Tours stopped the Muslim invasion of France dead in its tracks.

Until now.

Charles Martel I - also Known as Charles the Hammer

The Hammer shown is the means that the Franks used to break the shields of the Islamic forces.

Baldilocks has a wonderful antidote to all of the yuckky stories about sexual abuse of young actresses, NK belligerence, and NFL virtual-signaling. Go read it now. It's a reminder that true heroes surround us.

Got time for just ONE more story about a Weinstein victim? She talks from the point of view of a victim's advocate, which field she is involved in today. For those saying that the women were complicit in their abuse:
Why is it that women carry the shame of their abusers? We deplore the ‘honor killings’ and Old Testament thinking that blames a woman for getting into a situation where she becomes vulnerable, and yet that is exactly what is happening to the women who have spoken openly about Harvey’s abuse.
 It's something to think about.

I've been reading the half-hearted condemnation of many of Hollywood's women, who insist that THEY never saw that side of Harvey. And I think:


They are just embarrassed about the deal they made with their conscience - to go along, placating this very powerful man, in the expectation that their careers would be advanced. They don't want to admit that they profited from their silence.

The Collectivist Nature of Women is one that drives me nuts. I'm a natural loner (Daddy's WV roots manifested in me most strongly), and generally don't participate in the female pile-on of men in their lives, otherwise known as a B!tch Session.

I remember what Fran wrote a while back on the subject of Joiners.

And this, also.

I Can See the End in Sight

I've been plugging away at my book revisions for a while now, and am finally making real progress. My goal is to complete them before the end of the month (preferably, sooner), so I can take up another National Novel Writing Month marathon. I know it's not for everyone, but it works for me.

I'm also cleaning/organizing madly, so I can get by with minimal housework for the month of November. In every way I can, I'm clearing the decks, and preparing to launch.

For that reason, although I'm weirdly fascinated by the Harvey Weinstein story, I haven't been all that active with current news. I just check in on a few blogs, and get back to work. So, expect posting to be scheduled ahead of time, which means commenting on more timely topics will likely not return until December 1.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Asymmetric Warfare: Some Thoughts

     It’s everywhere these days. It colors many aspects of our world, yet it often goes unnoticed. And it has some valuable lessons for us.

     Something deep and primitive in the human psyche urges us to go head-to-head against the enemy, whoever he is. When the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in, he who chooses to fight almost always goes straight at his opponent, even if the opponent is much larger, stronger, and better equipped. And in most such cases of unequal ability and / or equipment, we may celebrate the little guy’s courage, but seldom award him a victor’s laurels.

     We learn slowly, but we learn. It might have taken millennia and losses innumerable, but eventually, military tacticians learned not to pit strength against strength: to look for and assault weak points at which they might create breakthroughs. That development was one of the few intellectual advances from World War I.

     Yet the primal urge to go straight at ‘em remains powerful. Consider these two passages from On Broken Wings. In the first, Louis is training Christine to fight:

     “Combat is about advantages and how fast you can use them. Everyone has both strengths and weaknesses: you, me, those creeps who came here for you. You never pit strength against strength. You always look for weakness. If you can concentrate your strength against your opponent's weakness before he does the same to you, you have the advantage, and you win. Otherwise, you lose.”
     “You make it sound like a game.”
     “It is a game. There are no rules, and the stakes are your life, but aside from that...”

     In the second, later passage, Christine has just seen her lover murdered before her eyes:

     Her new love stared sightlessly up at her. She crouched over him, felt for his pulse, found none, and began to scream.
     It was a scream of loss and pain, but it was more. Rage swelled within her, pure and lethal, until her universe could hold nothing else.
     It was the call of a predator who has summoned all his powers and challenges his enemy to come forth from the forest to meet him in a final trial of strength and ferocity. It echoed from the buildings and gathered itself to pound against the dome of the sky. It foretold a great battle and a river of blood. It promised death and destruction in a universal tongue. No creature that heard that howl could do other than flee.

     This brilliant, superlative fighter, a supreme master of the arts of combat who’d been trained by the greatest warriors in human history can think of nothing but plunging straight at the biker gang she thinks responsible for the murder. She would have done it, too, if she hadn’t been delayed long enough to receive some all-important counsel from one of her teachers. That’s how basic the go straight at ‘em impulse is.

     Great fury tends to neutralize the higher reasoning centers. When that happens, the go straight at ‘em impulse will be unchecked. Only if the raging one is fortunate enough to be delayed, such that his rationality can return before he does something rash, will deeper analysis of the tactical situation prevail.

     Occasionally, a government will incorporate enough delaying mechanisms to enforce the return to cool reasoning in the aftermath of an attack. Black Tuesday, September 11, 2001, illustrates how important such a delay can be. Had the United States been under the rule of an absolute hegemon, he might well have lashed out at the entire Islamic world with nuclear weapons. If you were alive and awake when the 9/11 atrocities occurred, that might have been your immediate impulse as well. (Yes, it was mine.) It certainly would have been emotionally satisfying, but whether it would have been the best choice of responses is doubtful.

     Among the terrors of today is the potential for an unanticipated, unannounced attack by a weapon of mass destruction. Had the 9/11 atrocity in Manhattan been committed with a nuclear weapon, President Bush would have had a harder time resisting the impulse to bathe the entire Muslim Middle East in nuclear fire. He might have resisted or been restrained nonetheless, but the impulse would have been near to overwhelming. The magnitude of the sense of violation matters.

     If you’ve read Freedom’s Scion and Freedom’s Fury, reflect on how fortunate it was for the Loioc that Althea Morelon wasn’t carrying a planet-buster when she was attacked with the nanites the Loioc used to render their men non-sentient. Put yourself in her place, and load a couple of notional planet-killing weapons into the hold of Liberty’s Torch. (The starship, not the website.) Would you have been able to resist the genocidal urge?

     It’s my hope, as an amateur of strategic thinking, that Mankind will learn more and better techniques in asymmetric warfare as we progress. We need them. Consider, if you will, the ravagings Muslim terrorists are inflicting upon the peoples of Europe. The Islamic campaign to conquer Europe has two principal prongs:

  • Terrorist strikes;
  • Reproduction.

     Clearly, the First World cannot and must not attempt to use those tactics in response. Neither would it suffice to deploy any other conventional law-enforcement or military tactic. The nations of Europe must develop a new tactic with which to reply: something just as asymmetric to the Muslim invaders’ tactics as the invaders’ ploys are to conventional nation-against-nation warfare.

     I cannot foresee that tactic. It probably won’t be military, though that’s not guaranteed. It might be economic; it might be religious or philosophical; or it might be something wholly outside historical experience. But the necessity is plain.

     The inverse of go straight at ‘em is hit ‘em where they ain’t. The First World’s military strategists and tacticians have grasped that. The time has come for the rest of our institutions to follow suit.

     If you’d like to supplement the rather somber article above with a little levity, consider this: I got the impulse to write about the topic from reading this article. Enjoy your laughter, to be sure, but reflect on the commonality of the principles, as well.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Unhappily Ever After

     Are you...unhappy?

     Wait just a moment before answering, because there’s another question that you really ought to confront first: What does that mean?

     Happiness is an awfully difficult thing to define. Aristotle’s definition – that which we seek as an end in itself and for no other reason – is the only one that seems to hold water. But neither Aristotle’s take nor anyone else’s suffices to move happiness and unhappiness, as phenomena each of us knows from personal experience, into the realm of concepts that can be objectively weighed, measured, and made fit for formal analysis.

     I’m of two minds about happiness surveys. On the one hand, the non-mensurability of happiness makes them seem silly. On the other, surveys that imply or inquire about a connection between happiness and more objective factors can tell us important things about our priorities and what percentage of us believes they’re being met. That’s the essence of politics and public discourse.

     And Mondays are a particularly suitable day for writing about happiness, unhappiness, and political factors that might cause them, wouldn’t you say?

     Dr. Helen Smith notes the connection between happiness and our contemporary media:

     This [media] negativity has a psychological impact on people; it makes them more depressed about the world around them:
     According to some psychologists, exposure to negative and violent media may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects beyond simple feelings of pessimism or disapproval. The work of British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, suggests that violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

     “Negative news can significantly change an individual’s mood — especially if there is a tendency in the news broadcasts to emphasize suffering and also the emotional components of the story,” Davey told The Huffington Post. “In particular... negative news can affect your own personal worries. Viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.”

     At first that seems like a “but of course” observation, a classic blinding flash of the obvious. But it deserves deeper consideration than that.

     We can’t usefully discuss happiness itself, but we can discuss, and perhaps even measure, the peripherals of happiness:

  1. What makes you happy? Under what circumstances?
  2. When are you happy? How long does it usually last?
  3. How do you usually choose to pursue happiness? Is it consistent with your answers above?

     I’ll address each of those questions in turn.

1. What makes you happy? Under what circumstances?

     While no two individuals lead identical lives, there’s a degree of commonality among Americans that points directly at our pursuit of happiness. From all the observations I’ve made of myself and others, the thing or condition that best correlates with happiness is the sense that one is adequately in control of one’s own affairs.

     “His own affairs” should be interpreted somewhat expansively. Let’s personalize the discussion by giving it a “protagonist:” our old friend Smith.

  • Smith must have a fairly clear conception of “his own affairs:” i.e., what’s part of them and what’s not;
  • He must be satisfied that he has control of them, and by implication, that others cannot materially mess with them;
  • He must be able to focus on them according to his personal priorities. In other words, matters that are either:
    1. irrelevant to him; or:
    2. outside his control
    ...must not intrude significantly on his consciousness.

     Consider, if you will, the typical white-collar workplace. If Smith has that sort of occupation, he’s likely to be happiest when he has a clear task, when he feels he can cope with it successfully (and busybodies of whatever station aren’t able or allowed to interfere), and when he’s free of distractions irrelevant to his task. Those conditions aren’t easily met these days in the typical office environment. It’s likelier that the blue-collar worker, whether he digs ditches, builds buildings, or drives a truck, will feel that degree of focus and control. In that alone there is significant enlightenment.

2. When are you happy? How long does it usually last?

     The answer to this question has a powerful interlock with the previous one. Smith is likeliest to be happy when he is able to focus on his own affairs and deal with them usefully.

     Now, it’s a commonplace that the most important matters in any man’s life aren’t problems to be solved but conditions of life that require continuous, ongoing attention and management:

  • Working at an occupation, profession, or vocation;
  • Caring for one’s spouse and progeny;
  • Maintaining one’s body, home, and possessions;
  • Maintaining one’s chosen position in society, commercial and personal.

     No one “solves” those things. Each of us comes to terms with them and copes, usually for decades. It seems obvious (there’s that word again) that neglect of any one of them can result in unhappiness. What’s less obvious is that Smith’s sense that he’s coping adequately with them is an important source of happiness.

     Once again, there’s enlightenment here. Why should merely coping adequately with the common necessities of life, the stuff that “everybody has to do,” be a source of happiness? There’s only one plausible answer: It allows Smith to feel like an achiever, a personal success. The happiness from that (usually subconscious) perception will last for as long as the perception itself lasts: i.e., until a life condition arises that Smith cannot cope with, or until he’s interfered with by meddlers, regardless of their motives.

     Note how this dovetails with the previous section.

3. How do you usually choose to pursue happiness?

     I recall reading some years ago, in a generally stupid anarcho-syndicalist tract, an unusually intelligent question from a syndicalist who, contrary to the tendencies among his sort, had identified the key paradox of human action. He phrased it approximately thus: How is it that a man can come home from a day’s backbreaking wage labor and enjoy digging in his own garden?

     The conditions of wage labor, while nowhere near as physically onerous as they once were, involve doing something for someone else. If that something is irrelevant to oneself – apart from the wage it earns, of course – it fails to satisfy the “his own affairs” component of sections 1 and 2 above. During the first century or so after the Industrial Revolution got rolling, a great many wage-labor jobs were of that sort: stand here on this assembly line, when this widget rolls past do this to it, and repeat for eight or ten hours at a stretch. Even today there are many jobs of that sort, though by percentage they’re far fewer than in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.

     Smith’s usual path toward happiness, however fleeting, is to renew his focus on what matters to him personally. He leaves his occupation behind and turns his attention to his own affairs. How simply remarkable, and remarkably simple!

     This doesn’t omit the possibility that Smith might be happy at work. He might be, but (with certain exceptions; see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s remarkable book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience) the “doing it for someone else” perception about wage labor will dilute that happiness. Karl Marx called this the chief source of alienation, and while his economics is total nonsense, he was at least insightful enough to isolate the critical difference between the industrial, division-of-labor economy and what preceded it.

     If you find yourself to be largely in agreement with the material in the sections above, it’s time to confront the countercurrent to human happiness most important to our time. This countercurrent has grown from a trickle a few of us once dealt with for an hour or two on Sundays to a raging torrent in which we must seemingly bathe continuously.

     The countercurrent is one I’ve written about many times, but most directly here: The Downside Of The Politicization Of Everything. Allow me to quote what I wrote about the American Left:

     We’re about to embark upon a course the nation has never before taken. A complete government neophyte, who has never held public office or served in the military, will soon be our chief executive, the man charged to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

     That’s got the Left completely outraged. They were certain the power seat belonged to them...that it would go to their anointed one, who had all the proper punches on her ticket. For the great unwashed mass of Compassion-Challenged Deplorables, Those Who Do Not Understand The Complexities, to spurn her in preference for a total outsider – A reality-TV buffoon! A vulgarian! A businessman! – has turned their world upside down. As Professor Reynolds has noted, it’s a devastating blow to their self-regard:

     And now that Trump has won, people are, in fact, a lot less respectful of the traditional academic and media and political elites. Trump didn’t just beat them, after all. He also humiliated them, as they repeatedly assured everyone (and each other) that he had no chance. It’s a huge blow to the self-importance of a lot of people. No wonder they’re still lashing out.

     Had these persons not made politics their pole star – had they not insisted that everything is political and that they, the Inherently Superior of Wisdom and Virtue, are the only legitimate arbiters of all that is right, true, and just – they would not be suffering quite so much angst. The moral could hardly be clearer.

     Remember that old Leftist mantra, “The personal is political” – ? It’s the Left’s unswerving aim to make everything political – to insist upon everyone being mired in everyone’s decisions. No private lives! No private concerns! And no saying “that’s not my problem” by anyone at any time!

     The elimination of private lives and private affairs, and the denunciation of the “You mind your own business and I’ll mind mine” attitude that was once the American credo, is guaranteed to produce intense unhappiness, for the reasons I delineated in the numbered sections. No one can feel achievement about problems over which he has no control, which arise from the facts of reality and human nature itself, and which “in the everlasting congruity of things” (Thomas Carlyle) can never be solved.

     Only two communities of interest can possibly benefit from such a state of affairs: they who seek the rule of all things, and the media handmaidens who have enlisted in their cause. The former are there for power; the latter are in it for money and prestige. They might get what they want; as for the rest of us, no such luck.

     I’ve gone on here at rather greater length than usual, especially on a Monday. I hope you don’t feel your time has been wasted. But I begin to wonder if I should have introduced the subject. You see, here at Liberty’s Torch we write mostly about politics and public policy. That makes us part of the problem even if you, Gentle Reader, enjoy our offerings. The implications are two:

  1. I shouldn’t have said anything;
  2. I should find lots of other things to write about.

     And I believe I’ll stop right there.