Monday, October 23, 2017

Definitions Of Winning

     The above is probably Donald Trump’s most famous campaign moment. The people at his rallies loved it – and they loved him for it. He had proclaimed a standard by which to judge whether America was advancing that they could understand. It was one that included them, their families, their communities, and the futures of their children.

     Yes, it was extravagant. Yes, it was bombastic. It’s Trump’s rhetorical style...and much to the dismay of his opponents in the Democrat and Republican Parties, the public didn’t turn up its collective nose at his “vulgarity.” Rather, it installed him in the White House.

     Trump had accomplished something that had eluded a great many career politicians: he had tapped the national spirit and embraced it. He had told the voters, “I see winning the way you do, and I’m committed to it.”

     The political class’s media handmaidens were massively unwilling to show the public the excitement Trump had generated:

     Those rallies were a refutation of all their political masters held dear. They could not bear it. More, they could not understand it.

     Trump didn’t have a record of failure for his opponents to run against. He had a record of doing what he said he’d do. He had scored repeated successes in one of the most difficult real-estate markets in the world. Yes, he had suffered losses, but he’d always recovered from them. He was able to make big promises and be believed. That, coupled with his embrace of what the voters hold to be winning, was the fuel that propelled him to the Oval Office. Since he got there, he’s been doing just about exactly as he promised, despite the contrary prognostications of the Establishment.

     In reflecting on the above, please remember that I was dubious about Trump.

     As everyone has his own values, goals, and priorities, everyone has his own definition of winning. Each of us knows pretty well:

  • What matters to him,
  • What he wants that he doesn’t yet have,
  • What he has that he wants to be rid of,
  • And what he’s willing to do, to pay, and to sacrifice to advance toward those goals.

     That’s the nature of individuality. Regardless of what Most People might say, we really are individually motivated and actuated. Yet our commonalities are pretty common.

     For decades Smith has listened to politicians’ promises, and then has watched them fail at best, go back on their words at worst. He’s grown thick calluses over his credulity. His neighbor Jones feels much the same, even though Smith calls himself a liberal and Jones calls himself a conservative. “You can’t trust ‘em” is their shared conviction about the political class.

     One of the consequences has been the diminution of the fraction of the electorate that bothers to vote:

Year % Voter Participation
1900 73.2
1912 58.8
1920 49.2
1932 56.9
1940 62.5
1952 63.3
1960 64.0
1972 55.1
1980 52.8
1992 55.2
2000 61.6
2012 53.8

     The voter unenthused about either of the presidential candidates has a strong chance of staying home. The syndrome is even more pronounced in non-presidential election years, which suggests that the conviction that "they're all thieves" is even stronger at the state, county, and municipal levels.

     What the careerists who make up our political Establishment have banked on is the belief that party alignment matters more than anything – "If you don't elect me, you'll get him." While it does matter somewhat, the perception that the candidate can be trusted to keep his promises and to achieve the results he's promised is far more potent.

     The careerists have come up against a man with a habit of keeping his promises and making good on them, and it dismays and disgusts them. Who does this upstart think he is, anyway?

     For at least a century, the political careerist's definition of winning has been:

  • Get elected.
  • Get re-elected.

     As long as "everyone plays by the same rules," it kept the careerists in power. When an outsider with a track record of success entered the game and defeated them, the Establishment went to its fallback definition of winning: Thwart Trump and his agenda, so that his "trick" would never be used against them again. When you read something mealy-mouthed about how "senior staff" ought to "control" Trump, that's the key to it.

     The elections of 2018 and 2020 are likely to turn on how well Trump resists the attempts to control, block, and defeat him. The careerists, with their quite different definition of winning, have a lot more to lose than he does. They'll play hard. They'll cheat. Some of them are already doing so. But they're fighting uphill. The electorate likes what it's seen so far from the 45th President.

     They're not yet tired of winning. Not at all.

The Muslim Brotherhood - Behind the Scene Maneuverings

It's important for people to become aware of the early stages of Leftist/Islamicist Actions. By noting the players, and the Shadow Groups that they set up, you can predict the means/methods they will use to tunnel into the culture/political structure.

Other news of note: I cannot verify the accuracy of this information about the Mandalay Bay shootings. However, the fact that the security guard, Jesus Campos, was unavailable for interview for an extended time, certainly strikes me like a cover-up.

Initially, I thought the secrecy was about the shooter. I'm beginning to agree with this blog post that the security is more about protecting the corporation's butt.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Searching For Brownies

     No, this won’t be about either sweets or the Girl Scouts. Rather, it pertains to Robert Ehrlich’s recent column about the divide within the GOP:

     It concerns the growing dichotomy between what many observers see as a chaotic White House on the one hand, and a Reaganesque flair for gritty policy calls on the other. Peggy Noonan's most recent Sunday column was devoted to the former as she described how (many) Republican Senators remain at a loss to deal with a free agent president resistant to control – even by senior staff.

     The narrative includes criticisms that have grown familiar during Trump's first year in office. Here, the president is viewed as a shoot-from-the-hip neophyte too undisciplined to govern and quite dangerous in a world populated by despots who wield nuclear weapons.

     Sen. Bob Corker's recent broadsides qualify here. The retiring Republican Senator from Tennessee sees an overmatched executive lacking in "competence" and "stability," albeit surrounded by a competent senior group daily engaged in the task of keeping the leader of the free world from careening off the rails. (Whatever did happen to keeping family disputes within the family?)

     Governor Ehrlich goes on to note that despite all that Establishmentarian disapproval, President Trump has scored several Reaganesque victories:

     In striking contrast are a series of Trump administration policy initiatives that not only define Trump as the anti-Obama, but also as more Reaganesque than a "Never Trumper" could ever have imagined. How else to describe a president willing to buck the status quo, and a powerful establishment press, in pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords and now refusing to recertify a notoriously deficient nuclear deal with the mullahs in Tehran.

     Not all the gates of the Left, nor the Establishment Right, nor the hangdog commentators of the Main Stream Media have dampened Trump’s determination to do as he’s said he would do: i.e., to put the interests of America and Americans above all other considerations, including the approval of anyone. Yet the attempts to characterize the Trump Administration as somehow deficient continue; the usual phrases concern Trump’s “fitness to govern” and his “chaotic White House.” They seem to be everywhere these days.

     It’s more amusing than anything else, really. What evidence can Trump’s detractors present for their superior wisdom and insight? How do their achievements, aggregated over their entire lives – do they have any? – compare to Trump’s achievements over his first nine months as president? Given the overwhelming imbalance in President Trump’s favor, why should an objective observer listen to their plaints?

     No, those questions are not merely rhetorical.

     A good many of us, without regard for political affiliation, are “organization men:” persons whose first priority is to conform, to “follow the rules,” to be and to be seen as “team players.” Of course, that attitude assumes the existence of a team, and rules for the members of the team that have some inherent validity. Those assumptions have governed the operations of the political elite for decades, especially at the federal level.

     But there cannot be a team without team objectives: goals that the team’s members are expected to place above all personal priorities. Moreover, if any of the members have priorities that clash with the supposed team objectives, the conflict can be resolved either of two ways:

  • The expulsion of the dissident members;
  • The cosmeticization of the supposed team objectives.

     The plaints of such as Senator Corker amount to this: “Trump’s not a team player.” That’s an accurate statement, if viewed in the appropriate light. Senator Corker’s team is the Washington Establishment. President Trump feels no loyalty to that team. Indeed, he exhibits an aversion to it, its priorities, and its ways. The irony arises from the plainly cosmetic nature of Corker’s team’s supposed objectives.

     The members of the Washington Establishment, like members of all establishments, are principally concerned with perpetuating their tenures in power. Their “team objectives” are strictly for show, as we can see from the Republican congressional caucuses’ near to absolute ineffectiveness.

     Donald Trump, the businessman who became president against the opposition of the Establishment and all its media handmaidens, is an existential threat to that Establishment. That’s what powers the ongoing resistance to Trump and the attempts to disparage Trump and his administration.

     Now, none of that is news to any Gentle Reader who’s been attentive to the cut and thrust of national politics. What might be new is the clarity the anti-Trump Establishment’s underlying strategy has attained in recent weeks.

     As it’s objectively impossible to deny Trump’s successes, the Establishment forces are now concentrating on the “chaos” motif. They seek the support of “organization men:” they to whom keeping everything orderly – preserving “the way we’ve always done things around here” – is the paramount consideration.

     But there aren’t many such men who aren’t already Establishmentarians to be found in these United States.

     The concept of the “rugged individualist,” who goes his own way regardless of anyone’s contrary opinion, is deeply embedded in the American psyche. Even those of us for whom the Gray Flannel Suit is our habitual garb like to think of ourselves that way. So appealing to the American electorate by preaching that President Trump “isn’t following the rules” faces a stiff headwind...especially since supporting politicians who “follow the rules” hasn’t done much for us quite a while.

     It’s worth remembering, in light of the above, how very much the Republican Establishment resisted the most successful president of the postwar years: Ronald Reagan. Great effort went into the attempt to deny Reagan the 1980 Republican presidential nomination. When he took office, similar efforts went into surrounding him with Establishment allies. Some of his bolder objectives were thwarted by Republican Congressmen and Senators who found them a threat to “the way we’ve always done things around here,” and therefore to their personal priorities.

     Donald Trump is not Ronald Reagan. For one thing, he believes in the soundness of his ideas; he resists suggestions that they’d be “dangerous” or “inappropriate.” For another, he’s considerably more abrasive than Reagan, more inclined to flip you off if you try to restrain him. Those qualities served him well in the business world. Adversaries that took him lightly didn’t do so for long; there were too many opportunities and too much money at stake.

     More Americans are resonating to Trump’s style than are troubled by it. The remainder are concentrated along the coasts, where the pressure to conform to “the rules” and the penalties for not doing so are considerable. These, as we can see from 2016’s Electoral College results, are already in the Establishment’s camp.

     As for the title of this piece, I derived it from an abbreviated version of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory used by the Advocates for Self-Government in the years when Marshall Fritz, its founder, was at its helm. He reduced the categories to four:

  • Green: Idea-centered.
  • Red: Action-centered.
  • Blue: Emotion-centered.
  • Brown: Rule-centered.

     Marshall Fritz used this condensed classification scheme to make various points, among the most memorable of which was the importance of gaining the allegiance of the Blue group, which dominates all the communication-intensive trades. for the cause of freedom. But the Brown group, whose dominance of the majority of organizations is a fact of institutional dynamics, is the one most solidly planted on the other side: the Establishment’s side, the “way we’ve always done things around here” side, the anti-Trump side.

     In focusing their denigrations upon Trump’s style and the “chaos” in the White House – funny how that “chaos” hasn’t impeded Trump very much, isn’t it? – they seek the support of those who, like themselves, regard the preservation of the status quo as more important than anything that could be gained by departing from it. And they’re coming up gratifyingly short.

Contemporary Sociopolitical Dynamics: A Few Thoughts

     The universe seems to have strict and unvarying laws. Note the word seems in that sentence. We humans have a very limited ability to probe those laws, being confined to a single solar system (and for the moment at least, a very small sector thereof) and therefore trapped in the solar wind and gravity well of its star. It’s possible, although most physicists would say “not bloody likely,” that the physical laws we believe we have inferred from the natural behavior we can observe aren’t uniform throughout the cosmos.

     The laws that govern human nature, on the other hand, appear to be inviolable. A favorite of mine (if it makes any sense to be a “fan” of a natural law, as if there were rallies held for it), is this one:

Success Breeds Emulation.

     When people generally see some group advancing its aims by using a particular tactic, that tactic will be emulated by persons outside the group. Emulation will continue until one of two things occurs:

  1. The overuse of the tactic nullifies its efficacy;
  2. An effective counter-tactic emerges.

     In two particular instances, the American sociopolitical milieu is demonstrating this dynamic as we watch. Indeed, those two tactics and the reactions to them constitute the greater portion of sociopolitical interplay at this time.

     The first tactic of note is the hurling of accusations and vilifications: racist, sexist, homophobic, et cetera. I’ve written about this before, as I have a particular interest in one of its battlegrounds.

     These past few years, the tactic of shouting “Racist!” at one’s opponent has lost its edge. The accusations no longer cut as they once did. There are several reasons for this, but in my opinion chief among them is overuse. When the response to some political adversary or disliked proposal is an accusation of racism, as we have seen in innumerable instances, the audience rapidly comes to regard the accusation as a tic, something reflexive but meaningless. It’s unnecessary to take a tic seriously.

     Alongside that, racism as an operating social and political force is observable almost exclusively in blacks’ behavior toward whites. Whites are massively inhibited about discriminating against blacks; nearly all of us will “lean over backwards” to avoid even the appearance of favoring our own race over theirs. That was Barack Hussein Obama’s trump card in his two presidential election campaigns, as the election returns plainly demonstrate. When word gets around that the objective evidence contradicts the accusation, the tactic loses its punch.

     The second tactic of note is the use of violence, mainly threatened rather than actualized, to silence an opponent. The “AntiFa” phenomenon is well known. What’s been less discussed is the barrage of anonymous threats made toward the spokesmen for certain propositions and causes. The most recent, high-profile example of this concerns Dana Loesch, well known as a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. The volume and fury of the threats leveled at her and her family made her feel that she must sell her home and move to a new one. Not everyone in Miss Loesch’s position would feel the same urgency about that; in the usual case, the greater and gorier the threat, the less likely it is to be realized. Yet to act on her fears is understandable in a wife and mother in her position.

     However, the Left’s use of this tactic has caused the Right to develop the unique counter-tactic of embracing it and turning it to our service. While this is ethically unjustifiable, ethical constraints tend to go out the window in the midst of a total social war – i.e., a war in which there are no noncombatants. The survival imperative supersedes all others.

     Once a tactic such as silencing through intimidation has been normalized for both sides, it tends to lose its appeal. This is a difficult development to analyze, yet there are notable examples of it on battlefields. Consider the use of poison gases in World War I: the original “weapon of mass destruction.” After the Allied Powers embraced the tactic, both sides abandoned it. Herman Kahn believed that it was because both sides deemed it a “bad buy:” not effective enough to justify the costs. However, an alternate explanation, which I prefer, would be that the Germans, whose interior zone was the more compact and less mobile of the two, realized that they would suffer far worse from mass poisoning than the Allies. They dropped the tactic in the hope that the Allies would reciprocate – which they did.

     As the national discourse has been heavily influenced by the rise of the abovementioned tactics, I would expect that their decline will be equally significant. However, that’s a prognostication, which bears continued testing by observation. Whatever history might suggest, there’s a lot of “history” ahead of us.

     Of one thing we may be reasonably sure: new, successful tactics introduced to our social and political struggles will be emulated. And of another I have little doubt:

Success Breeds Failure.
     “A penny for your thoughts?” Conway said.
     “Hm? Oh, sorry, Kevin. I was woolgathering there for a moment.” She scowled. “My mentor liked to say that success breeds failure. You tend to repeat your old, successful moves because they worked, while your enemy is developing a new one to clobber you with. I guess he had a point. Got any suggestions?”

     [From Shadow of A Sword]

     Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

An Announcement

     From Sunday, 10/23 through Saturday, 10/29, Hans G. Schantz’s SF thriller The Hidden Truth will be on sale at Amazon for only $0.99!

     Here’s my review of it:

     A Geeky Delight!

     A single-threaded plot, simple characterization, YA-ish style (well, that really can’t be helped when your narrator-protagonist is a sixteen-year-old boy) and wrapped around a central conception that would get even the most willing-to-suspend-disbelief conspiracy-theory junkie to say “Oh, come ON!”...even with all the above, “The Hidden Truth” was a surprise, a geeky delight. It tackles – tickles? – all the most sensitive spots in a conspiratorialist’s psyche, and does it in a fashion fully relevant to the eternal question:

     “How the hell did things get this messed up?”

     There will be sequels. I hope so, anyway. However, author Hans Schantz will face still more and greater problems making them believable. At the conclusion of “The Hidden Truth,” the young man at the center of this book proposes to do something rather audacious. He’ll face an opposition that possesses powers and allies I can’t tell you about without spoiling the novel for you. But Schantz made this book work very well, so I’ll repose my confidence in him.

     I do hope the protag finds himself a girl who can shoot comfortably and accurately in a heavier caliber than .22 Long Rifle, though. He’ll need both love and a lethally capable sidekick. Read this book to discover why.

     There’s a sequel, too: A Rambling Wreck, also moderately priced. I recommend them both.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cowardice In The Least Tolerable Of Places

     I was casting about, looking for some “spleen fuel” and finding none, wondering if today might prove to be an involuntary day off from blogging, when I happened upon this opinion column from noted economist and opinion-monger Walter Williams. Note that the link goes to an entry in the “Internet Archive Wayback Machine,” even though it was published on October 17 of this year: only three days ago. Sarah Hoyt, who noted it at Instapundit, said only this about it:


     I was puzzled for a moment...until I took the trouble to go to the article’s original URL at the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

     A note from the editor about Walter Williams:

     On Saturday, we published a Walter Williams column, "White Privilege and Other Fables," that included two paragraphs about sexual assault - to which many readers have taken strong exception.

     As we said in an earlier note, we often publish opinion pieces with which we, too, strenuously disagree — and we disagreed with Williams' points in his Saturday column.

     That was an understatement.

     The column fell short of our editorial standards. Given the chance to do it all over again, we would not run it - and certainly not those two paragraphs.

     In light of that, we are removing the column from, and we are re-evaluating Williams' place in our stable of syndicated columnists.

     That fit of editorial high dudgeon was over these two paragraphs from Professor Williams’s column:

     Then there’s the issue of campus rape and sexual assault. Before addressing that, let me ask you a question. Do I have a right to place my wallet on the roof of my car, go into my house, have lunch, take a nap and return to my car and find my wallet just where I placed it? I think I have every right to do so, but the real question is whether it would be a wise decision. Some college women get stoned, use foul language and dance suggestively.

     I think they have a right to behave that way and not be raped or sexually assaulted. But just as in the example of my placing my wallet on the roof of my car, I’d ask whether it is wise behavior.

     Apparently a number of readers objected to those two paragraphs, probably calling them “victim-blaming”...which they are not. Professor Williams said explicitly that women have the right to behave as foolishly as they like without being assaulted for it. That doesn’t detract from the foolishness of the behavior: sexually suggestive behavior coupled to personal intoxication in a venue where sexual assaults have been known to occur.

     An important Eastern Seaboard newspaper has apparently decided that opinions contrary to those of its readership or its editorial board must be deemed unprintable – silenced.

     So I left this reply under my “Louis Redmond” Facebook identity:

     Professor Wiliams is a highly intelligent and candid man, and you are revealed as craven fools by what you've done. Imagine it: a newspaper, supposedly dedicated to "telling it like it is," committing a cringing retreat because some of its readers were bothered by two paragraphs -- two exceedingly accurate paragraphs, as it happens -- of an opinion column.

     This country is going through a Hell of sectarian and identity group warfare because no one can stand to hear a sentiment that differs with his own. Rather than stand foursquare for freedom of opinion, the Times-Dispatch has decided to go along for the ride. How ignoble. John Peter Zenger is probably whirling in his grave.

     In the few minutes since I penned the above, I’ve only grown more furious.

     In this case the problem is women. But then, it nearly always is.

     Over my 65 years I’ve heard more complete bullshit than my brain can hold, and nearly all of it has come from women. I’ve concluded that American women have been indoctrinated – operant-conditioned, really – to believe that their social status arises from how greatly and how frequently they can become offended. They who objected to Professor Williams’s article became offended merely because he cautioned them, and their daughters, not to do something obviously unwise.

     No one likes criticism. No one likes being told that he’s done a foolish thing that increased his chances of being harmed. But it’s in the nature of the universe, which has rather strict laws about cause and effect, that acting like a loose woman increases the probability of being treated like a loose woman, whether or not the treatment at issue would be legal. To do so in the presence of young men “on the prowl,” under conditions where sexual contact is, shall we say, not unknown, is sheerest idiocy.

     But tell a young woman not to take an unwise chance? Tell her that she shouldn’t walk into a lion’s den wearing nothing but steaks? Time was, it was simple good advice any father would give to his teenage daughters. Apparently it’s no longer speakable.

     The objections arise almost exclusively from women: women obsessed with their right to do exactly as they please and absolutely unwilling to hear how their behavior could affect their chance of being victimized.

     Yes, ladies: You have the right not to be raped. You have the right not to be assaulted. But how many of you would walk into a college frat house in the nude and expect nothing to come of it? Assuming that nothing were to happen to you on the instant, how many of you would then gyrate suggestively while spewing filthy language and still deem yourselves perfectly safe?

     How many of you are too stupidly self-absorbed to be borne?

     The answer to that final question seems to be getting larger every day. Ponder it in light of the increasing number of young, unmated women demanding to know “where all the good men have gone.”

     All that having been said, I reserve my principal umbrage for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a publication run either by the most cowardly editorial staff in the history of journalism, or by women. I’m unsure which of those conditions would be preferable to the other.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who Has A Hold On You?

     I wrote recently that The Cult of the Victim Regnant appears to have passed its zenith and is now in decline. Though the evidence for such a decline is considerable, it might take a while to have pronounced sociopolitical effects. I wouldn’t advise anyone to hold his breath while waiting. However, as is the case with most bottom-up developments, this one is already having effects on individuals’ decision making.

     Let’s talk about debt. Time was, Americans considered it near to criminal to indebt oneself for any reason other than one’s survival or the survival of a loved one. Today, debt is the near-universal condition of American families from coast to coast. Clearly, the change in attitudes has been enormous. That makes it supremely important to question the practice; that which is ubiquitous and habitual almost never receives appropriate scrutiny.

     If you’re “in debt,” you have an obligation to someone else for which no reciprocal obligation exists. You must pay him; he doesn’t owe you a thing. Depending on the terms of the obligation, he might have the first call on every dollar you earn. Indeed, he might have the option, backed by the power of the State, of turning you out of your home. That condition would constrain your options severely.

     My esteemed colleague Dystopic, who was once a skeptic of my notions about debt, had an unfortunate episode in which he found that a mortgage debt was a shackle around his leg that others could use to limit his latitude of decision. Indeed, anyone who lives in or holds title to mortgaged real property is shackled that way. Yet “home ownership” under exactly those conditions remains the Holy Grail to most of the American work force. How does that comport with the increasingly urgent need for personal mobility in the face of a labor economy changing faster with each passing year?

     The same is true for any kind of debt. The strength of the fetter does decline as the size of the debt declines, but a number of such shackles can fasten one into place as effectively as a six-figure mortgage. Yet very few parents ever describe their experiences with debt to their teenage children.

     Non-financial, non-material obligations are harder to analyze, but their grip can be as restrictive as a jumbo mortgage. People become obligated in many ways. The great majority of such obligations appear nowhere but in the mind. But the power of contingent guilt, amplified by personal pride and the value of one’s reputation, is easy to underestimate.

     Don’t make promises you can’t keep is an old wisdom. I would never deny its importance. However, over the years I’ve come to believe that it’s badly punctuated. The period belongs after the word promises.

     Quite a lot of people are rather free with their verbal commitments. Much of the time, they take those commitments less seriously than those who hear them. If Smith commits himself to some undertaking, freely and out of his own mouth, in the presence of Jones, the most important thing about the promise isn’t how Smith feels about it; it’s how Jones does. That’s even more the case if Jones dislikes Smith or has been looking for a hold on him.

     More, few people grasp how easy it is to commit oneself without intending to do so. The great flexibility built into human languages makes many utterances susceptible to interpretations the speaker did not intend. In any circumstances other than those in which metaphor and hyperbole are absolutely understood to be the rule by all parties, you can easily be held to have made some “promise” you never intended to make. Competitive contexts, such as those that pertain in the typical workplace, make this especially important.

     Granted, there are promises that must be made, though they’re fewer and further between than many would admit. That having been said, your de facto latitude of action varies inversely with the number of promises others believe you to have made – and that will vary directly with how often you open your mouth, before how many listeners, and how casual you are about what issues forth. The moral “should” be “obvious.”

     Though I hold that it’s a peccadillo rather than a mortal sin, I’m no fan of gratuitous, emotion-free (other than lust) sex. (Yes, I know my Church teaches that it is a mortal sin, but the Church has been wrong before, and anyway, it’s a subject for another time.) Sexual contact is virtually always fraught with implications that go far beyond supposedly simple bodily friction. The attempt to behave as if that weren’t the case has damaged a large number of lives. (The desire to forget such mistakes of judgment has damaged an approximately equal number of livers.)

     The implications of sexual congress – no jokes about Congressional pages, please – can go from “calling the next day” all the way to lifetime support of another person and her progeny. If she doesn’t feel the same as you about having opened herself to you, the two of you are in for a lot of trouble. The sex partner who took the act less seriously is in the greater danger. The danger emanates mainly from the other partner, but also from one’s family, friends, and coworkers.

     The hold such persons can have on you arises from their expectations and standards, and from the value you place on their opinion of you. To the extent that they feel you’ve obligated yourself, and to the extent of your reluctance to “disappoint them,” you can be manipulated – sometimes all the way to the altar, if not worse. Play Misty For Me was a dramatization that’s been acted out innumerable times by real people.

     “Who has a hold on me?” is a self-assay I’d like to recommend widely. It should be repeated fairly often. More, when facing a decision that will or might create a fresh obligation, asking yourself not just “can I afford it?” but also “can I stand for this new person to have a hold on me?” is an important preliminary step. Not all obligees are kindly or generous, many have the power to pose before a court (including the Court of Public Opinion) as victims, and as Benjamin Franklin has told us, “Creditors have better memories than debtors.” Verbum sat sapienti.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Soros and the Death Star

That's the name given to Soros' Open Society Foundation., by Breitbart (Link corrected). It's being given an injection of $18 Billion by him - presumably, this is to stave off any possible inheritance taxes on his huge estate.

What is interesting about that Death Star reference in the linked article is that the original Death Star was actually quite vulnerable to a single, well-directed hit. That's true of any large institution.

Soros may be mobilizing his money for a last-ditch attempt to bring down Western Civilization before he dies. Let us hope for the same success as Darth Vader had.


Plot Shards

     During the first couple of weeks after releasing a novel, I find myself in a kind of limbo. It compounds the sense of aimlessness and the feeling of futility into a miasma that would choke a tyrannosaur. Perhaps new mothers feel this way post partum, though I’ve never troubled to ask one.

     It’s no fun, feeling this way. I perch at the computer each morning in my usual state of smile-God-loves-you cheer – not an easy thing to do when you get up in the deep dark – set my fingers to the keys, and immediately sit back. What am I doing here? The book is finished. Readers are already counting up the spelling errors. So what’s next?

     That’s when I retreat to my collection of plot shards.

     “Plot shards,” in case the term’s piquancy leaves you feeling a bit uninformed, are the little bits of story idea that:

  • A writer jots down for future use;
  • That seem to fall short of adequacy for a story;
  • But nevertheless linger teasingly in his memory, awaiting employment.

     Some plot shards could only be used as motifs that would add color and definition to a larger story. Some are too extensive for that, and demand to be made into stories of their own, augmented by the addition of specially designed settings, or specially motivated characters. Some fall between those poles. The lot of them sit around muttering “when the BLEEP! is he going to notice me?” What they have in common is that they’re just...not...quite...there.

     And I, during those post partum weeks when I’m desperate to get back to productive work, will predictably go hunting through them, sorting them into various categories, measuring them against my previous fictions, and pondering whether they could usefully combined into something sufficient to frame a novel. Believe it or not, it can be fun.

     Here’s one I particularly like but have refrained from using, though the reason is unclear to me: “The Littlest Demon.”

     Wonder of wonders, a demon is born in the depths of Hell. None of the other demons are quite sure how, but there it is...and it manages, mainly by hitchhiking on the efforts of an older and more adept demon, to cross the mystical planes and reach an Earth of living men. That’s when things get really strange.

     The littlest demon would love to tempt or possess someone – anyone! But it doesn’t know how to pull the trick off. Oh, it tries. It tries, and tries, and tries...but no dice. And it’s quite possible that the reason is the sympathy it feels for the moral and spiritual struggles of its target.

     But a demon’s reason for existence is to tempt, and if possible to take possession of, a living man. Even a child would be suitable. What point is there to the existence of a demon that can’t tempt nor possess?

     One day, in the midst of its frustration, the littlest demon encounters a spirit of unfamiliar caste. The two become friendly, and the spirit speaks movingly of the innumerable good things it has seen among men: idealism, dedication, generosity, loyalty, and the veneration of justice. It encourages the little demon to travel with it through the world, and to observe the heights to which these creatures of clay can ascend when animated by their highest values. The littlest demon does so, and is moved.

     The littlest demon asks the spirit how men, so obviously a low and crude race, could have formed such values. The spirit tells him of a great Preacher, first among them to ask nothing for Himself, Who was slain for telling men that they could win to eternal bliss. The littlest demon is mystified. So great a figure once walked among men? How could this be? The spirit tells it, “Come, meet Him and see for yourself.”

     And the littlest demon follows the spirit across the last of the mystical borders to behold Christ.

     The littlest demon wasn’t a demon at all. It’s a cherub, as is its companion. Its appearance in Hell was merely a “filing error.”

     Here’s another that tantalizes but is far from complete: “In The Year Of The Flame.”

     The launch of the first solar-power-harvesting satellite, though its potential excited great anticipation, has turned out to be an unprecedented disaster: the thing’s power-delivery system has run amok. Laser-like, it carved a huge cleft into the North American continent, roughly along the course of the Mississippi River. The cleft cannot be bridged because the beam keeps sweeping back and forth through it. Cross-continental travel and communication have been fatally impeded; the only way to go safely from New York to Los Angeles, for example, is to “go the long way:” to travel eastward and circumnavigate the globe.

     The disruption of the North American economy is approaching a fatal level when it’s discovered – somehow; this needs to be worked out – that the satellite didn’t fail; it was deliberately corrupted, to be used as a weapon against the U.S. Who would want to do such a thing – and who has the capability to do so? The two sets seem completely disjoint. More urgent, how can the satellite be put back under the control intended for it?

     This one was inspired by the None Dare Call It Conspiracy theories of Gary Allen and Larry Abraham: “Free Agents.”

     Why have only one grand conspiracy? There are multiple conspiracies that have to compete for media recognition, credit for atrocious acts, and the services of unaffiliated specialists. One of the needs of such a conspiracy, when so many would be equally well served by some deed, is to insure credit for the act. For example, in the case of an assassination this necessitates a two person team: 1) the assassin, an expensive specialist typically not aligned with any particular conspiracy; 2) a dedicated group member to get caught at the scene and claim credit for the group.

     But a conspiracy, like any organization, is susceptible to infiltration by hostile agents – in this case, persons loyal to a competing conspiracy. Infiltrator Smith gains the trust of the masters of Conspiracy X and contrives to divert credit for its deeds to Conspiracy Y. His first problem, of course, is to do so without being detected. But he soon acquires two other problems:

  1. First Jones, an agent for Conspiracy Z, discovers Smith’s machinations and starts to blackmail him – for credit to Conspiracy Z, of course;
  2. Second, the two of them inspire Davis, previously unaffiliated with an existing conspiracy, to start a conspiracy dedicated to disrupting other conspiracies. Smith and Jones, of course, are hounded to become leaders and “elder statesmen” to this new, anti-conspiracy conspiracy...but it’s a difficult role to fulfill with all the other conspiracies slavering for their blood.

     There are many other plot shards in my collection. The three above are merely representative. Perhaps one of them, or a cluster of them properly combined, will become the skeleton of my next novel. In the meantime, there’s some diversion, at least, available from fishing them up and wondering (not for the first time) “Where on Earth or off it did that come from?”

Evidence of U.S. coordination with jihadis in Syria.

This is the bizarre and factually inaccurate pretext [the need to bomb alleged Syrian government chemical weapon facitilities and bases] [that] both the U.S. and Israel use as a justification for illegal aggression against Syria, whenever the Syrian Army scores a major victory against western backed terrorists, including the so-called ISIS. A martyr [from] my extended family who was in Deir ez-zor, a slain man called Karma, updated his followers on social media about how every time the Syrian Army advanced towards a terrorist position, they were targeted by US aircraft.
"The Syrian victory over terrorists in Deir ez-Zor is horrifying Israel." By Afra'a Dagher, TheDuran, 9/7/17.

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: 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'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 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 personal, 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 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 steam:

  • 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 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?”
     “ 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’ 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.