So, looking at the actions of pro-Hamas demonstrators on university campuses and in the streets of major blue-tinged cities over the last few weeks, we really don’t have to ask as Dorothy Thomson did, in mid-1941 – who goes Nazi? College students suckled on the sour teat of DIE-addled academicians with delusions of intellectual grandeur, for a certainty, and recent immigrants who have brought their unfortunate old habits of hate with them. Still, when it comes to that first group, it has been amazing and disheartening to observe that sheltered twentysomethings driven to hair-trigger meltdown by the alleged presence of misogyny, the faintest hint of racism, and microaggressions so tiny as to be invisible to the naked eye have enthusiastically aligned themselves with genocidal Jew haters from Gaza. Students and academics didn’t even pause for a split second, before cheering on indiscriminate random slaughter, torture, repeated rape so violent that it left pelvic bones broken, burning families alive in their own homes, looting and hostage-taking.

While those educated in the most prestigious universities and colleges in our fair nation may not grasp the obvious double standard, a fair number of the rest of us see it all very plainly. Indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of civilians by armed bullies is bad, m’kay? The Geneva Convention, that much-violated set of rules governing the conduct of war operations frowns on it, for all that only a few nations conducting warfare lately have ever observed them. I am also certain that I am not the only one of the post-WWII generation who had those few brave individuals who sheltered European Jews, or helped them escape from the Nazi’s “Final Solution” held up to me as the epitome of moral courage in a dark time.

So, it emerges that has been considerable blow-back to the poisonous Jew-hate on display after the October 7th Pogrom – students and individual bigots being doxed, fired, or having offers of post-graduate employment rescinded, counter-protests in front of their houses, anonymous death threats (so alleged), and the threat of an internet mob harassing them. My heart bleeds for them… well, no, it doesn’t. Not a bit of it – all this has been established as the accepted treatment for conservatives, or the unwary innocent caught by the progressive cancel culture mob. Let it all unfold in the manner established by the progressive mob.

Discuss as you will, and while we can.

24. October 2023 · Comments Off on Finished! · Categories: Domestic, General, History, War, Working In A Salt Mine...

The Civil War novel is at last finished! I rounded off the last few bits of dialog and narrative this last weekend. I’ll have to look back in my archive for when I started on it … sometime in early 2020, I think. The narrative concerned the experiences of Miss Minnie Vining, of an old Boston family, who was an abolitionist crusader in the 1850s, and then a battlefield nurse during the Civil War which resulted. The rough outline of her experiences and the Boston Vining family were alluded to in Sunset and Steel Rails, when the indominable Miss Minnie was a very elderly character, whose importance to the plot in that book was to aid her niece in escaping a dreadful situation. Minnie Vining was also briefly mentioned in My Dear Cousin, when a distant younger relative also served as a wartime Army nurse. Miss Minnie was first mentioned in Daughter of Texas, as the older bluestocking sister of Race Vining … well, anyway, this book rather filled out her character as a strong-willed and determined spinster of independent fortune and considerable education.

This narrative also allowed me to explore through Minnie’s experiences a number of fascinating themes; the immense yet subtle power that women wielded in 19th century America, and the enormous degree to which the anti-slavery movement roiled every aspect of American society and politics during the two decades leading up to the Civil War. The commonplace perception among most 21st century Americans is that because women didn’t have full political rights and were often treated unequally in legal proceedings, that women were completely without power economically and within their communities; barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. And that is just not the situation at all. Women had and wielded considerable economic, intellectual, and social power within communities, even under those constraints. This was demonstrated nowhere more clearly than in the abolitionist movement, where many of the popular “influencers” of the time were women, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin … a narrative that turned out to be so popular in the North that Abraham Lincoln himself humorously attributed the war to it. So, contra the dark insistence of those pushing the 1619 narrative, that the United States was primarily and irredeemably founded and perpetuated on the institution of Negro slavery, the fight against it was long, passionate, and carried on by a wide swath of citizens, almost from the very first. Although only the most prominent of them are known today, many of their peers in the abolitionist movement are relatively obscure – but they left writings and memoirs of their struggle. A lot of those memoirs, published in the decade after the Civil War are available through on-line archives. Many such activists, like my fictitious Minnie Vining, were women. Quite a few were also later involved in campaigning for female suffrage, or like Dorothea Dix, reformers in other causes. A fair number of these women were friends, or at least, acquainted with each other, and became much more famed for their efforts in that crusade for full suffrage.

Another eye-opening aspect, at least to me, was the degree to which women contributed to the military effort in the civil war, by getting involved with the Sanitary Commission – a volunteer organization formed to provide to the Civil War era military what now is provided by a combination of the military medical system, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation service, and the current Red Cross. Up to the outbreak of hostilities in 1861, the US Army was small, the medical corps even smaller – and when the enormous numbers of militia volunteers took to the field, the existing medical care and soldier-support system was utterly swamped. Although the top leadership of the Sanitary Commission was male, women were everywhere else at regional levels, and formed the core of volunteers. Women, wishing to see to the welfare and care of their brothers, fathers and sons – raised funds to pay for all those necessary services through all manner of fairs, sales and donation drives, volunteered themselves as nurses, sewed shirts and knitted socks, contributed all kinds of comforts, and saw to goods being packed and distributed. The Sanitary Commission volunteer organization fielded hospital steamships to transport the wounded, opened hospitals, provided comforts for the troops, facilitated communications with families, and assisted soldiers traveling on furlough – all those services necessary to field a large national military and keep morale as high as could be expected. It was fascinating to read about all that.

It was even more interesting to read the memoirs and accounts of the volunteer nurses, practically all of whom had any formal training for that field. Only a few orders of Catholic nursing sisters had any kind of training in the profession which we would recognize today. Just about all the nurses recruited for service in Civil War hospitals came straight from their homes, which might sound curious from today’s perspective, but caring for the sick at home would have been a large part of woman’s work, before vaccinations, modern sanitation standards and sterile surgery. Nurses Rebecca Pomroy and Mary Bickerdyke, just to give an example of two real-life women who feature as characters in That Fateful Lightning were widows who had spent years caring for husbands with compromised health. As an indication of how important this was in the 19th century, Mrs. Beeton’s popular cookery and household management book, contained a whole chapter on invalid cookery – light, nourishing and appealing dishes intended to appeal to the appetites of the ill. Those women volunteers who came into Civil War service already possessed a practical knowledge of nursing.

So there it is – all finished but for the final polishing. The next two book projects after this likely will be the 12th Luna City installment, and another collection of YA short adventures for the Lone Star Sons series – probably not to start on those until after the holiday season, though.

11. October 2023 · Comments Off on The New Pogrom · Categories: Fun With Islam, Iran, War

I think the reason that last Saturday’s massacre in Israel hits so close to the nerve of Americans like my daughter and I, is because we can look at the pictures and video of the victims and the aftermath and see ourselves. My daughter and I look at pictures of the blood-spattered crib and the baby carrier and see Wee Jamie. Hear him crying in pain and bewilderment. We see pictures of the pleasant little houses, the tree-planted neighborhoods targeted by the Hamas savages, and see our own neighborhood, as a bullet-riddled, blood-spattered smoking ruin. I look at pictures of the audience at the all-night music rave, and see my daughter among them, dancing with her friends and having fun, the next minute dragged away dead, or for treatment that used to be described as worse than death. My daughter can look at me or consider her memories of her bed-ridden invalid grandmother, and readily imagine either or both of us cut down mercilessly … and the murderers recording the whole bloody cruelty for posting to social media for the approval and cheers of their friends.

This is an organized and sponsored pogrom the cruelty and viciousness of which hasn’t been seen since medieval times, although the Nazis and Imperial Japanese certainly did their best in Europe and China within the living memory of elderly people still alive today.

Eventually whoever was responsible in the Israeli intelligence and defense organizations for last weekend’s failure will be identified and chastened. The Gaza strip will be a sea of bouncing, smoking rubble, regardless. Whichever state actor – looking at you, Iran – aided and abetted will likewise have some kind of retaliation meted out to them. I am also pretty certain that those Hamas operatives who were braggart and foolish enough to be videotaped or photographed on social media with recognizable faces will also be identified, as has various Antifa dirtbags here in the US were identified by the weaponized autistics of 4-Chan. I am certain that in coming days we will be treated to a succession of adorable dirty-faced moppets rescued from bombed buildings, and poor abaya-clad women of certain age wailing about their ruined home. I am also certain that members of the Greatest Generation vaguely regretted the necessities of war which meant scenes of adorable dirty-faced Japanese moppets rescued from the ruins of their homes, or the good German frauen lamenting the ruins of their cottage or apartment in Berlin or Hamburg. But we couldn’t then allow Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan to continue as they were. Neither can Israel continue living with the proven threat posed by Hamas in Gaza. (Or anywhere else.)

The Gaza strip will be a sea of bouncing rubble. Any country, not just Israel can’t endure the cruelty of what happened last Saturday morning. A long time ago, I would have felt sorry for the residents of Gaza. They wasted every chance, every opportunity to be a combination of Singapore, the Maldives, and the Marbella of that corner of the Mediterranean. Yes, they lost a war in 1947, a war they didn’t expect to lose, but hey … ask Japan, Germany, Argentina, the southern US or Mexico how it feels to lose a war that they all thought was in the bag. A lovely stretch of coast, with marvelous beaches, which could have drawn free-spending tourists and vacationers all across Europe, even day-trippers from Israel and Egypt itself. Such wasted potential, potential sabotaged by poisonous rage and resentment. Bernard Lewis wrote years ago, an explanation for Muslim rage and envy. Everything that Allah promised good observant Muslims seemed to have been withheld from them – and lavished upon the unbelievers. Riches, power, happy successful societies, military might, beautiful women dancing the night away at an outdoor concert … all of that. Muslims must look around, and see that almost without exception, strictly Muslim-ruled countries were pits of dysfunctional, wretched despair and poverty. And so, they raged and went rabid-mad.
Since last weekend, there have been a number of organizations and individuals pledging their true allyship and support of Hamas and the Palestinians – looking at you, BLM. I can only assume that these people and groups are perfectly OK with mass murder of defenseless audiences at an outdoor concert, slaughtering families wholesale, decapitating babies and gang-raping women until they hemorrhage. Good of you to let us all know where you stand, and what you stand for. Noted.
(Although a number of individuals have walked back from such statements of support for Hamas. I’d like to think that they realized how awful it made them look, personally, but suspect such regrets may have more to do with employers declining current or future employment.)
Discuss as you wish, and have the heart.

05. October 2023 · Comments Off on Hood Ornament · Categories: Ain't That America?

In the early 80s (which now seems to be as long ago as the High Victorian era seemed to be to those looking backwards from the vantage point of the 1920s) acclaimed literary lion Norman Mailer took up the cause of a life-long convict, Jack Abbott by name … and discovered to his dismay that it was easier and safer to champion a violent felon at a considerable distance, than to actually wrangle the man close up. After being out of prison for a matter of weeks Abbott lost his temper and fatally stabbed another man … thereby demonstrating a certain drawback to an intellectual burnishing their public credit by adopting an edgy cause. It was liable to backfire, and make the adoptee appear to be a gullible prat. At about the same time, Tom Wolfe called it ‘radical chic’ and poured erudite derision on Leonard Bernstein for doing much the same with the Black Panther leadership.

Alas, since then, the politically trendy have taken to adopting more than single individuals and fringe elements as what a current wit termed ‘hood ornaments.’ – to the point that an entire criminally-inclined urban underclass has been adopted wholesale by the civic leadership – adopted and excused every failure to be a good and responsible member of the community. All this has made it interesting lately – not to mention dangerous – for an urban dweller working in retail, riding the public transport system, walking down the street, or even just living in an apartment building that doesn’t have iron-clad, 24-hour-a-day security. Ordinary people living in cities where defund-the-police and cater-to-the-homeless have become the primary focus of local government are on edge, unhappy, jittery … and in come sad recent cases, dead on a slab in the mortuary. It’s happened too often; an otherwise harmless person attacked for no particular reason by a street crazy. No wonder that Uber driver picking up a takeout order in a mall food court felt sufficiently threatened and shot the guy following him around the mall, shoving a phone in his face playing a nonsensical message. How can any sane person tell the difference these days between a genuine nutcase arguing with the voices in their head, and a prankster doing it for laughs and his Youtube channel? Hood ornaments are now the most valued constituency in just about every blue city.

And then there is the Portland (naturally!) school superintendent, more indignant about the public and parents of students having the nerve to be angry about a male student in a dress bullying and beating up genuinely female students. I definitely get the feeling that school superintendents and administrators across the nation have taken on gender-bending boys-claiming-to-be-girls as their primary hood ornament, such is the apparent enthusiasm for allowing boys in dresses and Maybelline to compete as girls on school-supported sports teams.

Comment and discuss. I should note that last weekend, I had a client meeting at a lovely venue on the edge of downtown San Antonio. We had arranged to meet in front of the Food Hall at the Pearl Brewery – a lovely redeveloped and very upscale reworking of a former 19th century industrial brewery on the edge of downtown along the extended Riverwalk, which is no adorned with parks, lawns, ornate fountains, a boutique hotel and expensive apartment blocks over boutiques, restaurants and other upmarket retail. On weekends, there is a farmer’s market, rows of portable pavilions, with venders selling more gourmet groceries, meats, eggs, cheeses and artisan chocolates. People shop with their dogs on a leash or children in strollers; there is a splash fountain by the Food Hall that is very popular with children, especially on days as hot as last Saturday was. The Pearl was crowded with shoppers and their families – it was all very pleasant. And not an urban hood ornament in sight. I wonder why? Then again, this is Texas.

27. September 2023 · Comments Off on Fahrenheit 451 · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Geekery, History

This report, of a school district eliminating all books published before 2008 from the shelves of school libraries struck me as more-than-usually horrifying, when it comes to stupidities enacted by a public school system. Of course, there is some comfort – not much – to be had in the fact that the school district in question is in Canada, but bad ideas in pedagogy have the unfortunate tendency to go international. I am a hundred percent certain that many American school districts have wokified administrators just chomping at the bit in their eagerness to perform the same purge on their own school libraries. Part of the great purge plan allows for an intensive review of pre-2008 books and restoring certain of them to school library circulation upon being judged appropriate – most likely after extensive editing or bowdlerization to remove every scrap of bad-thought.

Well, heavens to Betsy, we can’t have students learning that other people in other times had ideas, interests, and speech incongruent to modern sensitivities. Their interest and curiosity might be engaged and horrors – the kiddos might learn something, and the schools simply can’t have that, not outside of a very narrow field, approximately the width of a gnat’s eyelash.

For myself, I think of all the books that I read as a student that would fall into the condemned range. No Kipling – that goes without saying. No Saki. No Emil and the Detectives, none of the Little House books, certainly no Mark Twain. Nothing of Mary Norton’s Borrowers. No adventure novels by Thomas Costain, no Sherlock Holmes, no All-of-a-Kind Family, no Edna Ferber, no Georgette Heyer, no Bess Streeter Aldrich, no Sanuel Shellabarger, no Rafael Sabatini, no Gwen Bristow and her Plantation Trilogy, nothing by whoever wrote that Boy’s Own Paperish series about the crew of a tramp steamer in the 1930s, or the various adventure of aircrew in the Pacific in World War II. All this and more, even recent popular adventures like the Harry Potter series must be deleted or edited out of all recognition.
Nothing that might spark an interest in history, recent or long-past, other countries, and other, often alien experiences. It’s all to be banished or censored out of any juice, burned in the fires that Ray Bradbury warned about in Fahrenheit 451, lest delicate feelings be hurt. And meanwhile, a gaggle of entertainment personalities have signed the usual manifesto condemning the banning of books – certain other books, most of which have been objected to by parents for containing inappropriate sexual content. The irony of this is of sufficient density to drop through the core of the earth and come out the other side, Hollywood as an establishment being the very epitome of upright morality and ethical conduct.

Comment as you wish, and shall I open a pool on how soon American school districts begin purging school libraries of books published before 2008 ? That is, if it hasn’t been happening already.

21. September 2023 · Comments Off on Another Brand Bites the Dust? · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Stupidity, Working In A Salt Mine...

So Dove, a venerable brand of bar soap (owned by Lever Brothers, AKA Unilever, which has an enormous stable of household brands) looks to have trod heavily on it’s metaphorical private parts in falling for the supposed magic of an internet celebrity “influencer”, a woman who bears a notable resemblance to the Venus of Willendorf and is a malicious racist besides. I swear, I wonder if someone has spiked the coffee urns or the water coolers at whoever is the most currently popular advertising agency with hallucinogenic compounds, or if the advert creators and the approving corporate C-suite executives have all just drunk too deeply of the magical diversity madness. There is a place for edgy – and it’s not with mainstream commodities with a long history of appealing to a wide segment of consumers. On recent examination, I deduce that they are not teaching this in marketing classes lately.

It is nice and perhaps forward-thinking of advertisers and producers of consumer goods to ditch impossibly perfect, beautiful models in favor of featuring normal but attractive women or men in advertising, but I just can’t help thinking that it is a huge mistake to feature the grotesque, the homely and the screamingly unattractive models to sell soap, underwear, or whatever – male, female, or wanna-be-something-else. There is ordinary and normal – and then there is ‘auditioning for a place in a traveling circus freak show’. How on earth can this be construed as a good idea when it comes to moving product? The usual excuse for an awful, offensive commercial has always been “Well, it makes it memorable, so no matter! Good or bad, you’ll remember and buy the product!”

I have never entirely been convinced of this line of reasoning; there were plenty of consumer items that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole because an ad by the manufacturer left me cold, and I don’t believe I am unique in this. It’s become clear in the last few months that loyal customers can only be pushed so far by popular national brands embracing their inner freak, ever since the recent debacle over Bud Light and wanna-be-girl Dylan Mulvaney. An inexpensive and best-selling beer formerly beloved by undiscriminating male drinkers everywhere basically became untouchable over a long hot summer. Will Dove soap likewise crash and burn, through being partnered with a so-called influencer so repulsive, and an advertising concept so ick-making as Free the Pits’? Discuss as you feel moved.
(As for soap, my daughter and I make our own homemade olive-oil Castile, from scratch, for our own use.)

19. September 2023 · Comments Off on Characters and their World · Categories: Ain't That America?, Literary Good Stuff, Luna

My daughter and I began watching this Britbox series last week: Living the Dream, about an English family locating to Florida to run an RV park, full of eccentric characters. The show only had a short run of two abbreviated seasons and doesn’t seem to have racked up much awareness but we have enjoyed it immensely, because of the ‘fish out of water’ aspect, and because all the characters, even just the secondary characters appear to have lives of their own, and are quirky and endearing.  I don’t know if it’s because the writing for the series is intelligent, funny, and mostly avoided making vicious caricatures of Americans, the South, and Floridians generally, although given every opportunity to do so.  There really aren’t any big name stars among the cast, either, although most seem to have had long and relatively unspectacular careers playing character roles in various TV series in the US and Britain; solid professionals, every one, who appeared to to have enjoyed themselves enormously filming on location in Florida.

This brought on some thoughts about how certain TV series and movies manage to give us the impression that even minor characters have fully-rounded lives – that they are just not walking on for the sake of supplying lines or plot points to the main characters. Some small quirk or quality hints at that aspect. I don’t know if it can be attributed to the screenwriting, or perhaps the skill of the actor in coming up with little bits of business that establish that individuality even in a small part, but it is there in some movies and shows, and absent in others. The first time I was made aware of this was in one of the extra features to a recent DVD of Breakfast at Tiffany’s; an examination of the crowded party scene in Holly Golightly’s apartment. One of the extras involved explained how long it took to film that scene and dropped the information that all the bit players involved had worked out all kinds of mini-dramas, played out as the camera glided past. Not just the party scene, but this also held out for the staff of the on-screen Tiffany’s; one had the sense that each person there had a life with a lot going on in it … but there was just this quick interaction with the customers, posing a slight interruption of that life.

In a way, this kind of creative character-building is right up my alley, what with the cast of characters in the Luna City series. With forty or more minor characters, who rotate in an out of focus, there is so much scope for making them individual by telling a story focused on an aspect of their life, present and past. It’s a heck of a lot easer with an omnibus epic like Luna City – giving small characters their own lives.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic… From the Oath of Enlistment

It honestly kind of slipped my mind at first, that Monday morning was the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the United States. It’s been 22 years since that horrible day. I had other stuff – purely personal concerns on my mind.
For one, every single thing that I had to say about 9-11, I said, wrote and posted ages ago … and why re-run, one more time? There’s just nothing more to say, any more than there would be anything more to say about the shock of Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 – one more tedious rerun of a recollection of where I was, what I was doing. It’s been a lifetime, in a way – and for high-school and college graduates this year, it’s been all their lifetimes.
The other thing – a more recent tragic anniversary which looms closer in time is the disastrous and humiliating withdrawal from Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Abbey Gate suicide bombing there which killed more than a hundred civilians and thirteen American service personnel. Those deaths meant so little to President Biden that he kept looking at his watch during the ceremony at Andrews AFB when their coffins were unloaded. Those thirteen were the merely last American military lives frittered away in almost two decades of seemingly endless and pointless deployments to Afghanistan, culminated in a departure so botched that I’m still shocked that only a single commissioned officer resigned in protest. Sec Def Austin and General “Thoroughly Modern Milley apparently feel no shame over bungling their responsibility to the nation so horribly.

And this – a demoralized, gutted military – isn’t something that happened at the hands of foreign enemies. Our so-called leadership of the so-called elite gives every indication of hating at least half the American citizenry; it’s as if there is a secret contest on for who can come up with a notion to make our lives even more miserable, by banning gas stoves, gas-powered gardening tools and automobiles, limit air conditioning, efficient toilets, appliances and heaters, and living in detached suburban houses with a generous garden attached. Those same political and social elites appear to cheer on a new race war, all this with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of academia and the national news and entertainment media … those who have taken some time away from cheering on the sexualization of elementary-school-aged children.

Those of us paying attention suspect, with considerable reason for it, that our political leadership (mostly on the Donk side, but a few of the Heffalump persuasion when campaigning for reelection) have been bought and paid for by international and/or corporate interests – to the detriment of the interests of voters and American industries alike. Our national borders seem to have been erased in the interests of importing a more compliant population … and political opposition to all of this and the above has been criminalized. We even have our own gulag and collection of political prisoners. In the meantime, the national news-reporting media have degenerated into a partisan collection of bootlickers, toeing the party line and exclaiming rapturously over how much the love-love-love the luscious taste of authoritarian boot-polish.

The horror of 9-11, and what enemies foreign did to us, more than two decades ago? That was bad enough … but not nearly as damaging as what our ruling elite have done to us since.
Discuss as you wish, and while we still can.

07. September 2023 · Comments Off on The Tottering Colossus · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Geekery, General, Media Matters Not

We beat feet from cable for our nightly television viewing about ten years ago – my, how the time flies when you are having fun. We went to various subscription services at a quarter the cost of the monthly cable bill. This came about when we realized that there were only a couple of channels or services provided by cable that we watched regularly; this last weekend, we racked our memories, trying to recall the last American broadcast TV program that we looked forward to and made a point of watching. (Castle, BTW, mostly because of Nathan Fillion … which had it’s last season in 2016.) We have lavished our screen-watching time ever since then on old, or foreign movies and series, of which there is a rich and entertaining selection – everything from Blackadder, to the original Upstairs, Downstairs (Great Britain), to things like A Place to Call Home800 Words and Brokenwood Mysteries (Australia/New Zealand). Currently, the evening watching for us is The Durrells (BBC, and only minimal traces of wokery), while Wee Jamie seems to be fascinated by Alien TV, (Australian) Grimmy and the Lemings (Canadian/French) and Masha and the Bear (Russian.)

Neither of us have felt the urge to go to a movie theater to see a first-run movie in ages. The last one that I went to a theater to see was Dunkirk. I do know that the one-two punch of Barbie and Oppenheimer did boffo business at the box office, sort of reviving interest in seeing first-run movies at an actual theater, as did The Sound of Freedom … but neither of us felt a jolt of interest in venturing to a theater. Those other movies on tap at the multiplexes just seem … meh. Over-loud, over-larded with special editing effects, inept writing and stupid plots, remakes of animated features or comic books, uninteresting concepts, and the unending lectures on matters political, racial, and sexual, pounded in with all the subtlety of a fifty-pound sledgehammer. Added to that; the movie-going experience now costing a small fortune as well as being physically unpleasant, compared to staying at home and watching it on your own wide-screen TV, sitting on your own comfortable couch, breaking for a snack, meal or a potty break.
From what I have read in various middle to conservative websites and blogs (including this one) with an interest in contemporary culture, entertainment and media in general and the comment thread attached to those posts, I am not alone in a prolonged disengagement with our American entertainment industry. Dropping viewer numbers for award shows, collapsing box office receipts, major houses like Disney circling the drain, audiences fragmenting into smaller and smaller niche markets, to include games, Youtube videos and the like … the American entertainment colossus, which once bestrode the world appears near collapse. The SAG-AFTRA strike hardly seems to have made a ripple, outside of those in the industry most concerned. The rest of us are watching … well, practically anything else.
What are you watching, and diverting yourself with, when it comes to television and movies? Comment as you wish.

06. September 2023 · Comments Off on A Lovely Way to Spend a Holiday · Categories: General

My daughter decided that since Monday was a holiday, we ought to get out of the house and go … go do something. We have always loved Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country, and the new Nissan (now nicknamed ‘Thing’ because of three letters making up part of the newly-issued license-plate) gets incredibly good mileage … so, we thought we would. Zip up the 281 to Johnson City and over the 290 ‘Wine Road’ to Fredericksburg. Alas, since it was Labor Day, the Ranger Museum and Fort Martin Scott were closed, and so was the Dutchmans’ Market, immediately opposite was likewise closed … so we went straight into town and parked in the lot behind the Visitor Center. That public parking lot is almost always and at best three-quarters empty. Perhaps most casual visitors to Fredericksburg don’t know about that parking lot, tucked away across the street from the Museum of the Pacific War

Anyway, Wee Jamie became distinctly bored and fractious, halfway between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, to the point where we had to pull into Wildseed Farm and take him out to let him decompress. It seems that not only has Wildseed Farm succumbed to the Wine Road mania and added a tasting room – but now they are going to charge, in season, to walk through the wildflower meadows. Which is another sad indicator of the turistification of the Hill Country … but business owners have to make a living, I know. At least one of the vineyards has built a whole castle keep alongside the road, fulfilling a prediction that I made early this century. (That the Hill Country would become the New Provance, seeing that there was already wine, olive oil, lavender, sheep and sheep’s milk cheeses … all we needed now was some castles and quaint hilltop towns.)

Oh, yes. Wine. Every mile or so along the road between Blanco/Johnson City and Fredericksburg there is another winery, varied with a couple of distilleries and an enterprise to brew mead. My daughter says that if you follow the Wine Road and stop in at every place for a single glass, you’d best get on the liver transplant list in Johnson City and have Live Flight waiting for you at Fredericksburg. A saleswoman in one of the shops on Main Street where we shared this, lamented that Fredericksburg used to be famous for peaches … now it was for wine. Many of the larger vineyards now have B&B cabins and spa-oriented hotel facilities available on the grounds, so I guess you can sample a lot of their wines and then crawl to a handy bedroom to sleep it off.

Le sigh deep. We rather liked Fredericksburg when it was a pleasant little German Hill Country town where they rolled up the sidewalks at 5 PM weekdays and there were only a few bars and restaurants open after that hour of the evening. The National Museum of the Pacific War was in the Nimitz Hotel complex, slopping over to a nearly-empty warehouse on Austin Street and a pole barn a couple of blocks away, Now, the very last normal business on Main Street, the 5 & Dime closed (the elderly owners of a 100-year old business wanted to retire, a clerk in another Main Street store told us) – and the Christmas shop on the corner of Main and Llano has now moved all the Christmas stuff to the side, and revamped as a fashion boutique. What used to be a gas station across from the Nimitz Hotel (which then became a coffee shop with an outdoor terrace under the old canopy) has been replaced by an ornate retail building with New Orleans-style metal balconies; but in line with the general late 19th century look of Main Street. The Subway sandwich shop diagonally across is also replaced by a retail complex. The shops, galleries and boutiques have filled up Main Street and spilled into parallel streets one block either side, Austin and San Antonio Streets, which used to be mostly residential. An acquaintance at a book club meeting in Fredericksburg told us a couple of years ago that there were now more B&B beds downtown than there were regular residences. Another acquaintance at that same meeting told us that they carefully avoid the Main Street area on weekends…

There was a small special gallery display for children at the War Museum – and it was free of charge, so we checked it out with Wee Jamie. It focused on the home front, and the work of children who wound up helping on farms and ranches when their older brothers and sisters went to war. There was a display of necessary crops, and then one about the rationing system, and a mockup of a news stand with WWII-era magazines and newspapers on display. But the final third of the exhibit was (drumroll, please!) focused on a Japanese-American girl interned with her family because … reasons. Much was made of the unfairness of this, although my mother, who was 11 years old when Pearl Harbor happened, had a best friend who was Japanese-American, and interned with her family. Mom was old enough to overhear a lot, especially when the war news turned ugly in 1942, what with the fall of the Philippines, and Singapore. Mom was frankly relieved when her friend was interned – as they would then be safe from retaliatory mobs, since so much was reported even then about Japanese atrocities against military and civilians in the Far East, not to mention fears of Japanese invasion on the West coast. What would have been more relevant to a Texas audience would have been a mention of interned German and Italian-Americans in Crystal city … or even American families with their children interned in camps at Los Banos and Santo Tomas in the Philippines under conditions of great hardship and brutality. This is, after all, a museum of the Pacific War.

We did visit the bookstore and gift shop – where my daughter bought a small flyer’s helmet for Wee Jamie, which has inspired me to make him a little flight suit and faux-leather aircrew jacket for his Halloween costume this year. Pictures of Wee Jamie will be posted when the outfit is finished. For the rest of the afternoon, we strolled up one side of Main Street to Town Square, and down the other. There weren’t an awful lot of people in town, and the heat was not too awful – so it turned out to be a very pleasant way to spend a holiday.

29. August 2023 · Comments Off on The Return of the Commie Crud · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Health and Wellness, sarcasm

I see that the media handmaidens of the Democrat Party are gearing up, preparing to scare the ever-loving snot out of the general public again with a new covid variant. I swear, I can almost hear them in the newsrooms, dancing about, shaking rattles and wailing “Oooga-booga! Run for your lives, it’s a new covid variant! It’s gonna kill granny, an’ everyone! Strap on the masks, get the vax, universal mandate! Social distancing! close down all the things! Mass insanity! Cats and dogs living together!”
Or something like it. I suppose the readily boggled will fall … again … for that old panic magic, but will the rest of us?

I can’t think that those who paid attention will buy into the panic again. Too many of us on the ground have concluded that those disposable paper or cloth masks were essentially useless, and possibly even harmful for trapping crud against your face, that covid was hardly any worse for most healthy and young people than the yearly flu, that lockdowns across the board of social activities and businesses did real harm to the economy as well as mental health, that small children had their social development stunted and the slightly older lost educationally, that there was a concerted effort to quash treatment with readily available OTC remedies, and that the much-vaunted vax-and-boosters generally did more harm than good. We know that Sweden refused any concessions to the panic – and weathered the covidiocy just fine.
We know also that there were no mass graves across cities and towns as there had been in the 1918 Flu epidemic, that the emergency hospital wards set up to accommodate a flood of patients eventually were dismantled and put back into storage – that the whole contrived panic did nothing more than to sell page views, cover the theft of a national election, give nosy neighborhood Karens another reason to complain, and for local political office holders to get in touch with their inner authoritarian. So, are we all going to rush back into the same hell of masks, lockdowns and fearmongering that we finally got shed of, barely a year and a half ago?

I’m not. I’m not going to wear that stupid mask. And if local places of business start mandating masks again, they will have lost my business. (Governor Abbott is a fairly astute politician, so I don’t think he will be easily bulldozed into authorizing masks and lockdowns across Texas – he lifted the mask requirement early on, comparatively.) I will also refuse any Covid or flu vaccination, although I expect that the vax bullies will try their best … again.
Discuss – what are the chances that the powers that be will succeed in bulldozing the public again, over Covid and it’s infinite variations, or is epidemic panic a spent force?

The trickle of news regarding the Maui wildfires which incinerated an entire town and likely over a thousand of its residents just gets worse and even more distressing with every tidbit reluctantly disgorged by the local authorities. 1,100 are still listed as missing. After a week, it is most likely that they are dead. Many of the missing are presumed to be children, as local schools were closed because of high winds and power outages – and children at home alone because their parents were at work. Others might be senior citizens trapped in a local retirement home, unable to move without assistance, and visiting tourists unfamiliar with the area, whom no one has thought to report missing as yet. That so many are still unaccounted for – especially the children — that is an aspect that is difficult to contemplate. No wonder that local authorities are reluctant to admit the degree of carnage.

The very same national news media who pounded on the failures after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans over and over and over again, with the precision of trip-hammers are relatively silent, since there is not a Republican anywhere in sight to be assigned blame, credibly or otherwise. This brings to mind Iowahawk’s much-quoted quip about covering a story … with a pillow, until it stops moving.

Will the story of the Maui wildfire stop moving soon? It certainly seems to have dropped off the headlines of the major media; although bloggers like Neo are still posting about it, and inviting comments from a handful of people with direct personal knowledge. The whole thing is a farrago of civic fail, from not clearing away flammable brush, to a fire department apparently not equipped with tanker or brush trucks to fight off-road conflagrations, not having access to water to quash the fire after it started, to delayed and/or no warning to residents and holidaymakers, and finally blocking the few exit roads from Lahaina. Perhaps there was a good a good reason for this, because of downed live electric lines – but it doesn’t speak very well of local emergency services, bottling up people in town, leaving most with no choice but to jump into the turbulent ocean or burn alive in their cars or homes. Some reports compare the Lahaina fire to that which destroyed the hill town of Paradise, California, but it seems to me more like the conflagrations of the Hinckley and Peshtigo fires of the 19th century, which burned out whole districts and towns, to the tune of hundreds of deaths – in the case of Peshtigo, thousands. The only people who emerge with any credit from the disaster are that handful who disregarded official orders, drove around the barricades, removing themselves and families from the danger area, or who found a safe refuge and went back over and over again to help others. There are, apparently, a great many good citizens doing their quiet best to assist their friends and neighbors on Maui – unlike Oprah Winfrey, without a camera crew in tow, or like the FEMA operatives, holing up at a luxury beachside resort as the first order of business.

The bald truth about what happened in this disaster will come trickling out, bit by bit, I expect – as survivors talk to each other and to their friends, as much as the national establishment media and the political powers that be try to keep the pillow pressed down. Discuss as you wish.

02. August 2023 · Comments Off on I Hate Barbie · Categories: Eat, Drink and be Merry, Media Matters Not, Rant, That's Entertainment!

Always have, no doubt always will. The wretched simulacrum of a fashionable woman was launched, or inflicted on the world about the same time that I started kindergarten, so you would have thought that I would have been one of the first generation of girls to have played with the grotesque thing – but I never felt the appeal, and it probably just wasn’t because Dad was a grad student living on a GI Bill stipend and supporting a wife and two small children at the time. But I had indulgent grandparents – and if I had truly wanted a Barbie doll, I am certain that one would have appeared at Christmas, or among birthday presents. But I never really wanted one, even though many of my friends had Barbies, their endless accoutrements and accessories, the Ken doll and all of Barbie’s friends. The one doll that I envied helplessly and wished that I did have was possessed by the girl my age who lived next door.

Her grandparents had brought it for her from England; a nicely sized twenty- or twenty-four-inch doll, with realistic if modest proportions who had a lavishly complete trousseau; not just a trunk full of pretty clothes, including the wedding dress and tiara with veil, but even a wee engagement ring with a tiny rhinestone diamond … and a fur jacket, of grey chinchilla fur as soft as feathers. Compared to that lovely imported and realistically womanly doll, Barbie looked cheap, low-rent and vaguely sleazy. This was before Barbie became a career woman, of many, many careers. Starting out, she was just a fashionable clotheshorse of no stated profession, living a leisurely Sexless-in-the-City doll life with a bulging closet of fashionably flashy clothes and accessories.

I did have a fashion doll, though, later on – about the size of Barbie, but with much more normal female proportions, and an eighteen or twenty-inch version which was much easier to construct elaborate period costumes for. This brings up the other reason for hating Barbie; she was of a size which was a pain in the ass for making clothes for, either by hand or god help us, on a sewing machine. No, it was frustratingly difficult to make clothes and costumes for Barbie. When in the fullness of time I had a daughter, who did want a Barbie, I made a few clothes for the wretched thing, but had no fun doing so – and having fun making doll clothes or building miniatures or toys, or any other kind of crafting is the whole purpose of the thing.

No, I never liked Barbie. And I never thought I Love Lucy was funny, either. Talk about apostacy … Anyway, I hear that there is some kind of movie in theaters now (or at least for the near future) about Barbie and Ken and all their friends in Barbie-land. The marketing for it must really have been impressive, for Barbie pink and Barbie mentions are everywhere, even (I swear I am not making this up) even on the highway warning signs that give notice about missing children, wandering elders, traffic accidents and road work up ahead. It had something to do with putting down the phone when you are driving, I think. There hasn’t been marketing this determined and comprehensive since Star Wars – The Phantom Menace, and that movie was everywhere, except possibly in animal husbandry publications. Anyway, they made it out to be a fun, fluffy pink cotton-candy summer escape movie, (The sets and concept looked amazing and fun in stills and the trailer, though) but according to sources like The Critical Drinker, at the core it’s a sour and tedious uber-woke feminist lecture on how awful men are, so I’m going to skip it, even when it goes to streaming. It looks as if Hollywood is committing seppuku anyway, and there is so much good old and foreign stuff out there on streaming services anyway.. Discuss as you feel moved.

27. July 2023 · Comments Off on Will There Ever Be An Apology For Covid Overreaction> · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Health and Wellness, Military, Politics, Stupidity, World

In the light of this story, and this one as well, I am more than ever glad that my daughter and I said “no” to the Covid shot and follow-on boosters. Of course, I know that any new vaccine or drug can have a small number of unfortunate side effects – but honestly, aren’t well-informed adults allowed these days to calculate the risks and make their own decision? Apparently not for many employees, who were ordered to get the Covid vaccine or be fired … and are now facing health problems that make Covid itself look like pretty small potatoes.
My daughter and I were extremely reluctant to get the vaccination – mostly because we had read enough to be skeptical, neither of us was in a position where we could have been forced to do so as a requirement of continued employment. As it turned out, both of us caught Covid anyway. So did Wee Jamie at the age of four months or so. He had a mild temperature and the sniffles for two days, and that was that.
As of this writing, 2020 Covid is done. I wrote earlier this yearThe dreadful creeping suspicion among the general public – or those who have been paying attention to the world around us, tallying up our own observations and personal experiences – is that the Covid vax may possibly be damaging in the long run or the short run to those whom it was administered, whether voluntarily or under threat. And if it is damaging … will that ever be fully acknowledged, or publicly regretted and apologized for?

I’m afraid the answer to that one is – no. Those responsible for inflicting incalculable damage likely are incapable of ever owning up to what they have done. They will never publicly regret the damage that their actions or non-actions did to general mental well-being of a large swath of the public, or the irrecoverable damage to school students left to their own devices for almost two years because public schools stayed closed. They will never acknowledge the economic damage to small businesses in lock-down-crazed states and municipalities… and most especially we will never hear any regret over the damage to health caused by a rush to administer an experimental vaccination. There will be no apology to those who were forced to vaccinate or else forfeit employment. And why? Because the authorities, bureaucrats, politicians and media who insisted on all this view themselves as good people, good people who simply don’t do awful things … you know, like wreck the health of strangers, kill their elderly parents in hospital, isolate them in their homes, ruin their business, shred their mental health and wreck the education of their children. Nice people, well-intentioned people simply don’t do evil things like that … and they are nice people, with the best intentions in the world … so they simply didn’t do any of those things. Expressing sincere regret and apologies would mean admitting that they aren’t nice people, with the best intentions in the world. So, they never will own up to the incalculable damage. They simply can’t. and still maintain their self-image as nice people.
Discuss as you wish. While we still can.

23. July 2023 · Comments Off on Projects for Autumn · Categories: Domestic

Well, naturally, in Texas, one starts to look forward to autumn after a month of near to 100° high temps and not a hint of rain, save for a mere trace which splattered all the dust in the atmosphere onto cars … when I was stationed in Greece, they called that a mud rain, when a storm washed all the free dust blowing over from Africa down over streets, car windows and other surfaces with a dirty brown slip. It was the same last night – just a splatter of dirt on the cars. Anyway, we’re looking ahead to fall, to the craft market in Bulverde, especially. My daughter has taken it into her head that we should do home-made soaps again, this year, since they were such a hit last year. And it’s not all that difficult, really – no different from following many another exacting recipe, and we had all the equipment to do it; thermometer, digital scale, crock-pot and stick blender. The lye solution is the only tricky bit, fenced around with so many dire warnings and precautions that I can readily see why many hopeful crafters shy away from anything but the melt-and-pour version. But there would be no profit in that … so it’s olive oil and coconut oil, and all sorts of natural scents and the dreaded lye solution and an assortment of silicone molds got from Temu and Amazon. The castile soap recipe that we are using calls for an aging and drying out period of at least six months – so that is why we are doing this now.

We use the less-than-successful product ourselves, of course. But at present I have two shelves full of home-made castile soap curing and aging in my bathroom vanity closet. We are trying to do a couple of batches on weekends while Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson is down for his afternoon nap. He is very cooperative about his afternoon naps, to the astonishment of our friends and the various therapists working on his developmental issues. (Down at noon sharp, up at 2:30. No fuss, no protest, no crying. Just curls up in the crib and fast asleep within ten minutes.) No – the development is nothing really serious, he is just a boy, and lazy and stubborn. He was slow to roll over, slow to crawl, is on the verge of walking and talking … his way of things seems to be to delay and delay and delay … and then surprise everyone by suddenly leaping ahead to where he should have been. He cut four teeth all at once, for example – after not having them appear for months after they should have. He has a full set at present, although the last three are just now appearing. He is otherwise a friendly, fearless and charming child, fluent in baby-babble, although we think that his English vocabulary is limited to “mama” and “up” – and sign-language for “more.” I really expect that he will not really talk until four or so, and then come out with complete, coherent, and grammatically correct sentences. “No, Mama, I do not want any more green beans at this time, thank you.” He can and will take three or four steps without support, so I expect he will be walking on his own any day now.

21. July 2023 · Comments Off on History Friday: The Infatigable Mother Bickerdyke · Categories: History

Mary Ann Bickerdyke, who really ought to be at least as well-known as Florence Nightingale for superhumanly heroic efforts on behalf of nursing wounded soldiers, was born in 1817 in Ohio to a family with the surname of Ball. At the time, Ohio was the just-over-the-mountains-western frontier. She was supposed to have been one of the first women to attend Oberlin College, but never graduated. The two post-Civil War biographies that I have read say that she was called home to attend family members during an epidemic. She is supposed to have studied herbal/botanical medicine – which given the parlous state of medical education and practice in the United States at the time – probably put her as being as effective a medic as most. She married Robert Bickerdyke and settled in Galesburg, Illinois, where she bore two sons and established a reputation for being a quietly formidable woman.

When Robert Bickerdyke died in 1859 after a long decline in health, in which he was cared for by his wife, the widow Bickerdyke supported herself and sons as a practitioner of herbal medicine, until the summer of 1861, when the Civil War turned deadly earnest in the West. An Army surgeon friend of the Bickerdyke family wrote a letter describing the desperate and chaotic conditions in the Army camp hospital at Cairo, Illinois. Cairo was in a strategic position at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers – a dagger pointed at the heart of the Confederacy, from which the Army of the West would soon being fighting their way down the Mississippi. The letter was read aloud on a Sunday morning in the Congregational church that the Bickerdyke family attended, and the community immediately rallied. Some reports put the quantity of supplies collected to the value of $500, others say that the goods filled four boxcars. And Mary Bickerdyke placed her sons in the care of friends and went to see that the supplies collected with such enthusiasm and care were delivered to the military camp at Cairo and put to good use when they arrived. Too many shipments of goods and home comforts intended for Army units had gone astray or spoiled en route.
The general level of care for the expanded Army called to the colors with the outbreak of war had quite overwhelmed the regular Army, and it fell to individual volunteers like Mary Bickerdyke, and the combined resources of a newly established national organization, the US Sanitary Commission, to remedy matters. In the case of Mary Bickerdyke and the hospital at Cairo, she hit the ground running. The sick lay on dirty linen, clad in shirt fouled by sickness … and in practically no time to speak of, and with the aid of whomever she could press into service – the hospital was transformed. Reportedly, one of the first things that she demanded of the soldiers was to saw a number of hogshead barrels in half, to make bathtubs to bathe patients in. Clean bedlinen and blankets, clean clothing, remedies and all kinds of delicacies to tempt the appetite of invalids appeared as if by a miracle. Mary Bickerdyke so impressed the western department of the Sanitary Commission that she was designated as one of their agents, and so could call on their almost limitless resources.
More importantly, as she widened her scope of activities in providing care to battlefield casualties after she impressed the higher levels of Army command in the west, General Grant, who endorsed her presence and actions as Union forces advanced down the Mississippi. It was the peppery-tempered General Sherman who responded one of his subordinates complaining about her, demanding that he do something about that ‘damned bossy woman’ by saying, “I can’t – she ranks me.” Both Grant and General Sherman appreciated organizational competence and a can-do attitude. Mary Bickerdyke was, for all intents and purposes, the head of the Western Army’s medical command.
She did more than just field nursing – essentially, she was an administrator and organizer, establishing or reorganizing at least 300 hospitals, many in the field as the armies advanced, all the length of the campaigns in the West. She hired escaped slaves to run the hospital laundry, to bake bread in an oven made of numbered bricks, which could be disassembled and moved as the Army advanced, the bread to rise covered in blankets in wagons which she organized. She was responsible also for seeing that some incompetent Army surgeons were sacked. She organized donations from midwestern farms of milk cows and laying hens – all to provide fresh milk and eggs for preparing invalid meals for her patients. At the end of the war, those cows and hens were given to those freed slaves who had worked for her, in hospital kitchens and laundries. It must have been an astonishing sight, Mary Bickerdyke’s mobile hospital on the move, what with wagons of supplies, the portable brick oven, the laundry kettles and mangles, the livestock and all. Eventually she cared for casualties after nineteen battles, including action at Missionary Ridge, outside Chattanooga, where she was the only woman at the field hospital there for nearly a month.
At the end of the war, she rode in the two-day long victory celebration, the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, DC, with General Sherman’s Army of Tennessee and Army of Georgia. She worked as an advocate for veterans, and other charitable enterprises, was awarded a special government pension, and died in 1901, at the home of her son in Kansas.

14. July 2023 · Comments Off on History Friday – The Care of an Army · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, Ain't That America?, History, War, Working In A Salt Mine...

I’ve been going deep in the weeds in research for the current work in progress, the long-put-aside Civil War novel, concerning the experiences of a spinster of independent means, who is active as an abolitionist lecturer in the 1840-1850 time frame, and a battlefield nurse during the war years. Frankly, the research is fascinating in and of itself; the matter of the existence of slavery in the United States was a contentious and hard-fought-over issue in the antebellum years. It’s been quite the antidote to the current 1619 historical fantasy, reading through memoirs and accounts of and by notable abolitionist crusaders of the time. Not only did the existence of the ‘peculiar institution’ in the pre-war South retard economic progress there (as industry and immigration favored the North) but the fight against it was sustained and uncompromising. The first half of the book is just about complete – it’s the second half, concerning the war and most particularly the operation of field hospitals that has me deep in another field of weeds now, discovering some extraordinary stories and some extraordinary women.
One of the reasons that I love writing historical fiction – I very rarely need to create anything of whole cloth and imagination; generally, the honest-n-truth version of events often surpasses anything I could possibly make up. So it is with the epic of a little-recalled national volunteer relief organization called, most prosaically, the United States Sanitary Commission, which mobilized women for the war effort to an extraordinary degree – as nurses, administrators, counselors and organizers of countless benefits to raise funds for military support, the care and healing of the wounded, and later, for the welfare of veterans.

The existing pre-Civil War US Army was a small one as national armies of the times counted, with a correspondingly tiny medical corps. Hospitals at various forts and camps were minimal, usually no more than thirty or forty beds. There was no large centralized military general hospital; medical care of the sick or injured normally fell to orderlies or those soldiers who themselves were convalescent. All of that went out the window when recruiting surged, upon secession of Confederate states and the fall of Fort Sumter. Almost the moment that the newly-formed companies and regiments marched away, the wives, sisters and mothers of those new soldiers went home and ransacked their cupboards and pantries for home comforts – food, clothing, blankets, bits of this or that, writing materials, bandages and medicines for the lads recruited for a regional unit. Some of these first efforts were either ridiculously useless or went astray in transit – inexpertly canned items rotted, jars broke, and the contents of such ruined whatever else they had been packed with. It was all a muddle, at first – but in the middle of June, 1861 Congress authorized the creation of the Sanitary Commission, and it took off with a roar, mostly because many smaller regional and local relief groups eagerly joined their considerable efforts to the national Commission.

Although the national leadership of the Commission at the upper levels were male, women made up an extraordinarily large number of mid-level workers, fund-raisers, administrators, nurses and general support personnel. Being also proud of their contribution, many of those women contributed memoirs written after the war, and those accounts make for stirring reading. (There was a lot of overlap between abolitionists, temperance activists and women’s rights advocates during that period, and many of the best-known women campaigners were active on all three fronts, as well as being friends and associates.)
One of the best and most readable accounts that I am exploring was by Mary Ashton Livermore, who also served as reporter and editor for a newspaper which her Universalist husband owned. Mary Livermore was co-head of the Chicago branch of the Sanitary Commission and penned a particularly vivid description of what a day at work at “the office” involved – the sounds, the bustle of draymen delivering and dispatching boxes, the sights, the and the smells. (An account almost unique for a lack of florid Victorian purple prose, thickets of which must be metaphorically hacked through in other contemporary accounts.) Donations and items of all sorts arrived from all over the state and the mid-west, to be unpacked, sorted, inventoried, re-packed according to commodity, and sent out to those hospitals which had urgently requested them. That was on the first floor of the building housing the Chicago branch -the second floor was given over to sewing machines and volunteer seamstresses producing shirts, necessary linens, and hospital garments. The Commission office also served as a communications hub – for families wanting news of their soldiers, and for dispatching parties of nurses to hospitals where they were needed – especially following on a battle or a military advance.

One of those notable nurses was the formidable widow Mary Jane Bickerdyke. A curious thing that perhaps we do not consider today was how large a porportion of a woman’s domestic duties then involved caring for the sick and invalid. Mary Bickerdyke had cared for her invalid husband for years before he passed away. It must have been much the same for other women volunteer nurses – they had already done a lot of practical nursing, without the benefit of any formal medical training as such. And so, they followed the armies, to tend their boys, their sons and brothers.

(To be continued – the adventures of Mary Jane Bickerdyke in the Union Army of the West. The story is that one of General Grant’s juniors fumed to the General about ‘that damned bossy woman, and couldn’t the General do something about her?’ To which General Grant is supposed to have replied long the lines of, ‘I can’t – she ranks me.)

10. July 2023 · Comments Off on Hollowed Out · Categories: Ain't That America?, Local, Military, My Head Hurts, Veteran's Affairs

My daughter and I took Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson, and our next-door neighbor up to Canyon Lake to spend the day of the 4th of July at the military recreation site there; there are pavilions there above small sandy beaches, for the use of active military and retirees to picnic in, restrooms and shower complexes (in need of serious renovation, or at least a sand-blasting and a clean-out of crud and insect life), an RV park, some boat ramps, and a scattering of cabins for rental. The day was overcast until late in the afternoon, and it has been very, very hot and rainless for the last two or three weeks, so the water level was quite low. Both the boat ramps on the Air Force side were well out of the water, and there was quite a lot of exposed beach, much more than last 4th, when we also spent the day there.
But there was a good crowd at the beach, mostly families with children, venturing into the rather silty water, with innertubes and floaties and small life vests for the smallest children, in the intervals between the adults barbequing and drinking. It all seemed utterly normal, and yet hollow, as if we were only going through the motions out of habit more than anything else.

Well, it was a pleasant day, so perhaps it wasn’t as hollow as all that. There were American flags, banners and red-white-and-blue garden ornaments displayed all though my neighborhood, perhaps more than there were in previous years, so perhaps it was in a kind of defiance, an insistence that yes, Things Are Absolutely Normal, DAMMIT!

Because things generally are not Absolutely Normal, as we have come to accept over the last half-century or so. Our republic and many of the institutions we had previously had reason to trust, or at least, considerable credible with a sprinkling of salt … have been hollowed out. They still look OK, whole, sound and trustworthy from the outside, observe the same customs and rituals as they always have done … but they are hollowed out.

Nothing remains of them but the outward shell, the semblance of what they once were supposed to be. Organizations like the FBI, and institutions like the national press, public school systems in the larger urban areas, or our large-scale movie and TV media go through the motions; making a show of investigating certain crimes, covering events presumed to be noteworthy, teaching schoolchildren the three ‘R’s making movies and TV shows for the amusement of the public. Too many of our established church organizations are whoring after strange new gods, against the stern scriptural commands, impelling breaks among congregations and diocese between the trendy apostates and those who take their religious beliefs to hear. Even our professional military organs appear to have gone through the same depressing process, appearing to be more dedicated to catering to the trans and other minorities rather than fielding the best at killing our enemies and breaking their stuff. (Recruiting and retention is tanking, especially among those who formerly provided the largest portion of recruits, and who can blame them, when being white, southern, male, and traditionally religious is being painted as the Worst Human Beings Evah! by the military higher echelons.) I suppose there are still dedicated teachers in public school systems who are still teaching kids to be literate, numerate, and patriotic, and not grooming the kids for sexual exploitation immediately or down the line. There are probably real working reporters out there for national outlets (Salena Zito comes to mind) and some working military officers and NCOs who are still considering the defense of the nation against foreign enemies their primary goal, instead of pandering to every woke cause around.
Discuss as you will, and while we still can. Any evidence/examples of institutions and individuals still holding out against the hollowing-out of our institutions and culture will be fallen upon with happy gratitude.

29. June 2023 · Comments Off on History Friday – The Murder of a Very Modern Major General · Categories: Ain't That America?, History, War

This post was inspired by a terse note next to a picture of the gentleman in question, on a page in one of my reference books – a note that the Confederate commander, one Major General Earl Van Dorn was murdered in mid-campaign, in his HQ in Spring Hill, Tennessee by an outraged husband. A personal thing, not an arranged assassination … or was it? Intrigued, for such is my butterfly interest in such matters, I went snorkeling around in the various sources, searching for more details.

Like the character in Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical Pinafore, Earl Van Dorn was a very modern major general for the 19th century; a handsome cavalryman, the very beau ideal of a certain breed of Victorian male. He was accounted to be very handsome, by the standards of the time, although my personal reaction is meh; the enormous bushy soup-strainer mustache in contemporary photographs is off-putting to me, but photographic portraiture of the time really doesn’t do much in establishing the raw sexual appeal of anyone. But Van Dorn was also a charismatic and flamboyant personality, so that may account for it. He was a gallant officer in service to the Noble Cause, cutting a splendid figure in the gray and gold-hung uniform of the Confederacy … he wrote poetry, painted, was a consummate horseman … and notoriously, loved the ladies, who loved him right back. He loved them so much that he had long been known as the terror of ugly husbands and nervous papas everywhere.

He was a Regular Army officer, a heroic veteran of the war with Mexico, who had thereafter served a somewhat rewarding and satisfactory career on the Texas frontier. He was accounted to be a master of cavalry command; fearless, able, competent. He was also a great grandnephew of Andrew Jackson, being born to one of Jackson’s nieces; a place at West Point was thereby assured, although he successfully graduated 52 out of 68 places, due to use of tobacco, failure to salute superiors and extravagant use of profanity. He had several sisters who adored him, a wife whom he married after graduating from West Point – and sired two children with her, although never quite being able to establish a permanent home for his family. Whether this was due to disinclination and lack of enthusiasm on either part, or the brutal requirements of service in the military in those decades is a matter of speculation. He had mixed success as a commander in the first few years of the Civil War – a loss at Pea Ridge in a Confederate attempt to take St. Louis, another in the Second Battle of Corinth, but slashing success as a cavalry commander in fights at Holly Springs, Thompson’s Station, and the first battle at Franklin.

In the spring of 1863, Van Dorn was stationed in Spring Hill, Tennessee, thirty miles south of Nashville and almost in the dead center of the state. According to some accounts, Van Dorn and his staff were first billeted in home of local magnate Aaron White and his wife and family, but that didn’t last long. Accounts vary – some have it that Mrs. White was unhappy at having most of her home taken over as a military HQ, leaving her family with a just couple of bedrooms and access to the kitchen. She was even more unhappy – scandalized, even – when rumors began to fly about General Van Dorn’s romance with a married woman in Spring Hill. Jessie Peters was the very pretty, flirtatious, and much younger third wife of Dr. George Peters, who very openly came to visit the General at the White residence – a considerable breach of Victorian etiquette. Mr. and Mrs. White were not pleased at this scandalous turn of events. At about this time, Van Dorn moved his headquarters to another residence in Spring Hill, the mansion owned by one Martin Cheairs, about half a mile distant. (Both houses still stand, apparently.)

George Peters was a wealthy landowner and politician, a doctor, and often gone on business for long periods of time, leaving his young wife to find her own amusements, domestic and otherwise. It was also rumored that he was of Union sympathies, but nevertheless, upon his return to Spring Hill in early April, 1863 Dr. Peters became aware of the rumors concerning his wife and General Van Dorn, the long unchaperoned carriage rides they went on together, and the General’s many visits to the Peters home. To say the very least, Dr. Peters was not pleased, especially after he caught his wife and the General in a passionate embrace. Angry words were exchanged; George Peters threatened to shoot Van Dorn then and there. Supposedly Van Dorn asked for forgiveness and took the blame for the affair all to himself … and the matter seemed to be smoothed over.

But two or three weeks later, Dr. Peters appeared at the Cheairs house, asking to speak to General Van Dorn. Assuming that he wanted another permit allowing him to pass through the Confederate lines, he was directed into the study where Van Dorn sat at his writing desk, hard at work. Dr. Peters pulled out a pistol and shot Van Dorn in the back of the head. No one among the general’s staff took notice of Dr. Peters’ swift departure – not until the young daughter of the Cheairs family ran out of the house, exclaiming that the General had been shot. Of course, everyone rushed into the study, where they found Van Dorn unconscious, but still breathing. He died hours later, much mourned across the South, although there seemed to have been many who considered that he had brought it upon himself with his reckless pursuit of women captivated by his personal appeal.
Eventually, Dr. Peters was apprehended and arrested for the murder, but curiously, never tried. He insisted that Van Dorn had, in his words, “violated the sanctity of his home.” Most everyone then and since assumed that it meant Van Dorn’s affair with Jessie Peters. But was it? A novel by another indy author, also fascinated by the conundrum and possessed of certain local-specific resources, suggests that the motive for murder was not simply Van Dorn’s affair with Jessie Peters but his seduction of Clara Peters, Dr. Peter’s unmarried teenage daughter from an earlier marriage … a doubly scandalous matter which resulted in Clara Peters being pregnant.

Just another rabbit-hole in the pursuit of writing engaging historical fiction – additional evidence that our 19th century forbearers were at least as horny as humans anywhere else. They just … didn’t do it in the road and frighten the horses. Comment as you wish.

“… the final theme present… throughout the armed forces today is KAFCA, pronounced Kafca (since this is a military book I have made up an acronym.) KAFCA is Keeping the Able From Contributing to the Action. Inside the armed services, this problem is more politely referred to as “personnel mismanagement.” – Arthur T. Hadley in The Straw Giant

I recollected reading that book and nodding in sober agreement when it first came out, A lot of what Mr. Hadley wrote in it was congruent to what I experienced as a member of the military, beginning in the mid-1970s, when the military was just beginning to recover from the demoralization of the Vietnam era. I was reminded, though, of that particular expression upon reading these two links, posted at Bayou Renaissance Man; the first which outlined what happens when the competent operators at any given company or organization decide to walk away, and the second outlining how the unending quest for a properly diverse workforce at the expense of competence, task knowledge and skill.

“…The combination of new employees hired for diversity, not competence, and the declining engagement of the highly competent sets the stage for failures of increasing frequency and magnitude … In straightforward work, declining competency means that things happen more slowly, and products are lower quality or more expensive. In complex systems, declining competency results in catastrophic failures.”

We have just had a demonstration over these few days of what can happen when exciting, politically-correct diversity in employees is prized by management over competence, unsparing attention to detail and professional expertise. It appears that the missing submersible on a deep dive with a cargo of wealthy spectators down to take a first-hand look at the wreck of the RMS Titanic imploded, instantly killing all aboard it, just as the fired marine expert, one David Lochridge feared that it would, and for the reasons that he specified. But the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions wanted to go for more diverse, younger experts in deep-dive marine cutting-edge technology … well, at least, he put himself and his money where his mouth was, in his own submersible unit. Comment as you wish … do you think that after this widely publicized disaster (and others, like the meltdown of Tranhauser-Busch) will cause the soberer members among our corporate overlords to think twice before embracing diversity and mediocrity?)

This snippet of a story popped up in a mild way on several different news sites and feeds, including that of the Great Grey Whore, the New York Times, which I presume was anguished over the prospect of a member of the reporting fraternity, one Sophie Alexander of Sky News being driven out of a popular Miami restaurant where Trump had stopped by, presumably to spend a few minutes with supportive fans. The reporter/producer apparently carried on the tradition of shouting rude questions at political figures they don’t like on occasions that are not press conferences and formal interviews, in the usually vain hope of getting some kind or answer, and if not, noting snottily that ‘So-and-so declined to reply.’ Ms Alexander was heckled, verbally abused, and all but physically thrown out of the restaurant by Trump fans. Frankly, the only likely surprise about this matter is that Ms. Alexander appears to be indignant and a bit surprised at her treatment.

When I searched for links on this particular story, a whole raft of other incidents came up, going back some years but most of them in the last half-decade – of various news reporters and TV personalities increasingly being heckled, harassed and personally insulted by members of the public in various public places. And no, I can’t really say I’m surprised at all, regarding this particular occurrence, or all the others. I’m pretty certain that most media people do exist in a kind of protective bubble, isolated by the peculiar demands of their jobs. Do many of them even associate regularly with someone who works at a physical job for a living, has dirt under their fingernails, drives a pickup truck, swings a hammer, a wrench or a shovel, lives and works in flyover country? Such media luminaries might have to talk briefly with such, as part of their work requirements – but increasingly I have the feeling that such interchanges are brief. Only one national print reporter that I can think of appears to have any real feeling, or knowledge of ordinary lives – Salena Zito, who accurately predicted the successful election of Donald Trump.

Too many of the rest are the inheritors of privilege, educated at expensive universities, baldly contemptuous of everyone outside their sphere and too lazy to even try to break out of it. To me, the epitome of that kind of media personality is Anderson Cooper, the first to scornfully refer to Tea Partiers as ‘tea-baggers’ – this on national television. Practically every other national outlet, print and broadcast alike followed that lead in sneering … and the scorn and distain has only gotten more intense since then. The overwhelming majority of national news and entertainment media despise ordinary, conservative-leaning Americans. They used to hide it better, though, even before the national media became the American equivalent of Pravda, the public relations arm of the Democrat Party, the attentive stenographers of the ruling class.

Normally polite and courteous citizens can only be pushed so far, before returning insult for insult. The recent exchange in the Miami restaurant with Sophie Alexander indicates that ordinary American have begun despising the media nobility right back, and just as passionately.
Discuss as you wish.

06. June 2023 · Comments Off on 6 June 1944 · Categories: History

So this is one of those historic dates that seems to be slipping faster and faster out of sight, receding into a past at such a rate that we who were born afterwards, or long afterwards, can just barely see. But it was such an enormous, monumental enterprise – so longed looked for, so carefully planned and involved so many soldiers, sailors and airmen – of course the memory would linger long afterwards.

Think of looking down from the air, at that great metal armada, spilling out from every harbor, every estuary along England’s coast. Think of the sound of marching footsteps in a thousand encampments, and the silence left as the men marched away, counted out by squad, company and battalion, think of those great parks of tanks and vehicles, slowly emptying out, loaded into the holds of ships and onto the open decks of LSTs. Think of the roar of a thousand airplane engines, the sound of it rattling the china on the shelf, of white contrails scratching straight furrows across the moonless sky.

Think of the planners and architects of this enormous undertaking, the briefers and the specialists in all sorts of arcane specialties, most of whom would never set foot on Gold, Juno, Sword, Omaha or Utah Beach. Many of those in the know would spend the last few days or hours before D-day in guarded lock-down, to preserve security. Think of them pacing up and down, looking out of windows or at blank walls, wondering if there might be one more thing they might have done, or considered, knowing that lives depended upon every tiny minutiae, hoping that they had accounted for everything possible.

Think of the people in country villages, and port towns, seeing the marching soldiers, the grey ships sliding away from quays and wharves, hearing the airplanes, with their wings boldly striped with black and white paint – and knowing that something was up – But only knowing for a certainty that those men, those ships and those planes were heading towards France, and also knowing just as surely that many of them would not return.

Think of the commanders, of Eisenhower and his subordinates, as the minutes ticked slowly down to H-Hour, considering all that was at stake, all the lives that they were putting into this grand effort, this gamble that Europe could be liberated through a force landing from the West. Think of all the diversions and practices, the secrecy and the responsibility, the burden of lives which they carried along with the rank on their shoulders. Eisenhower had in his pocket the draft of an announcement, just in case the invasion failed and he had to break off the grand enterprise; a soldier and commander hoping for the best, but already prepared for the worst.

Think on this day, and how the might of the Nazi Reich was cast down. June 6th was for Hitler the crack of doom, although he would not know for sure for many more months. After this day, his armies only advanced once – everywhere else and at every other time, they fell back upon a Reich in ruins. Think on this while there are still those alive who remember it at first hand.

05. June 2023 · Comments Off on A Visit To Fort Sam · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, History, Local

I had reason to visit Fort Sam Houston last Friday – to pick up a set of prescriptions, at the new and vastly expanded BX mall, going through that one back gate where Harry Wurzbach dead-ends, after wandering past the military cemetery, the golf course and the Towers at Park Lane. It’s been a familiar haunt to me for years, even if I was never assigned there, or had reason to go to any offices when I was active duty. It was an open post back then – so wide-open that it was only embarrassment that kept the Fort Sam EM/NCO club from being listed as off-limits to Air Force personnel. (There was, according to scuttlebutt, a dissolute and faintly dangerous element which used to hang out at that club.) I used to take a short-cut through the post on North New Braunfels to circumvent traffic jams on the Pan-Am Highway, when I had to drive through to Lackland AFB from where I lived on the north-east side of town. I was basically familiar with the older part; the stately red-brick Victorian senior officer-housing mansions along the northern and western side of the monumental, L-shaped parade ground, and the series of enormous three-story neo-Spanish Colonial style tile-roofed administration buildings and barracks which lined the opposite side. The mansions along “colonel’s row” always looked well kept, but in the few years after I retired, some of the older buildings began looking pretty ragged, decrepit even. I sometimes wondered if the Army had given up on painting them altogether, trimming shrubbery and pulling up weeds in the lawns around. Part of the peace dividend, I guessed.

 

Fort Sam Houston – familiarly known as “Fort Sam” is itself a pretty historic place – nearly as historic as the Presidio of the Alamo, the military post that it replaced, late in the 1870s. The Alamo, first established as the Spanish military HQ in Texas, went right on being used as a military post, through possession by Mexican soldiers, Texian volunteers, the US Army, and the Confederate States Army. The US Army took possession again, following the Civil War, when it was headquarters and logistical supply base for the US Army in the trans-Mississippi West, in the days of the Indian wars. But by the mid-1870s, the Army had outgrown the crumbling adobe and stone structures around Alamo Plaza. The city had also spread far enough to surround the old Presidio and considerably cramp military operations. The Army suggested closing the post to save money. The city fathers, probably horrified at the thought of losing the custom of the Army post, as well as the presence of a relatively free-spending garrison, immediately donated 92 acres of land on the low hills north of town and well outside the-then city limits.

 

For the Army it was a chance to start afresh, building exactly what they needed; generous warehouse space to store Army supplies brought up from Galveston and other coastal ports, offices for the supply sergeants and officers to work in, facilities to care for the horses, and the soldiers, and their families. A birds-eye map of San Antonio done in the 1880s clearly shows the original Fort Sam establishment; a single structure called the Quadrangle, a range of two-story buildings around an open courtyard adorned at one end with an ornate clock tower. The Quadrangle also served as an open-air prison in 1886. Geronimo, the last of the fighting Apache chiefs and some of his warrior band were held in the quadrangle for 40 days, while the federal government decided what to do with him. It’s only a legend that the small herd of tame deer currently living in the Quadrangle are those descended from a herd provided to Geronimo’s band as part of their ration issue.

By the turn of the last century, Fort Sam was the second largest military post in the United States. Practically every Army officer serving between the 1880s through World War II passed through Fort Sam at one time or another. Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” rendezvoused and trained there before shipping to Cuba to charge up San Juan Hill. Whenever I pass by the open stretch of the parade ground, I am reminded that it was on that patch of level, open ground that then-Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois of the Signal Corps took off in a 1909 Wright Flyer, dubbed “Army Airplane #1” for a series of demonstration flights in 1910 – four takeoffs, three successful landings, the series concluded with a crash. Lt. Foulois was, for an interesting early period in military aviation, the entire Air Corps/Air Force. Fort Sam also supplied the men and material for General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s expedition into Mexico, chasing after Pancho Villa in 1916. At the very far end of the parade ground is the old Brooke Army Medical Center (built in 1936), formerly the Station Hospital, replaced in the 1990s with an even larger and more splendid complex to the east of Fort Sam. Dwight Eisenhower met and married his wife, Mamie Dowd, while stationed at Fort Sam as a young lieutenant. General Billy Mitchell was assigned to Fort Sam after being court-martialed and demoted. At the end of WWII training of Army medical personnel was consolidated there, and military medical training for all the other armed services was moved to Fort Sam more than a decade ago. This makes it a very busy training facility; it is a showplace for military medicine, which is the reason that I go there for regular visits like today.

I have read that if the post is ever closed, and all facilities revert to the city of San Antonio (like the Presidio in San Francisco) that the stock of historic buildings in the city inventory would double right then and there. Most of those buildings are still in use, though – at present, only the Quadrangle is open to the general public. But there are two museums, also open to the public, that between them give a very good idea of the scope of Fort Sam’s history and present missions: The Fort Sam Houston Museum, and the US Army Medical Department Museum.

23. May 2023 · Comments Off on Dealing With The Threat · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Geekery, Veteran's Affairs

This post is kind of a continuation of last weeks’ post, about the invasion of genetically male-claiming-to-be-gender-fluid into spaces formerly the preserve of genuinely, original-equipment-issue XX females … and no, I will not play the variable-gender game and use your favored pronouns. (Should you demand that of me, mine are ‘Your Highness’ and ‘My Lady’). I admit that yes, there are those very rare occurrences of people who are genuinely physically inter-sex from birth, and another small number who have fully undertaken to conduct their lives as the opposite sex of what they were observed to be at birth; this after careful consideration, with surgery, hormones, and the choice of suitable dressing/makeup. But it doesn’t really change anything at all, save the superficial impression. When in a thousand, two thousand, or five thousand years, a future archeologist excavates the bodies of one of those people, the skeletal features and residual DNA will read the remains as either male or female – no matter what they maintained an appearance/pretense of being in life.
Frankly, I otherwise wouldn’t much care about the kinks of other adults. I’ve always subscribed to the wisdom of the Edwardian-era actress and correspondent with GB Shaw, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who famously remarked that she didn’t much care what people did in the bedroom, just that they weren’t doing it in the road and frightening the horses. My own metric was “consulting, adult, and private” which does admittedly leave open a wide range of sexual behaviors such as incest and polygamy. Really, I don’t care. Just don’t demand my rapturous approval. And don’t go about flaunting it in places where the rest of us just can’t look away, m’kay?

I wouldn’t care about transgender matters at all, if they weren’t so determined to strip off and wag the wang-wang in my face, or that of teenage girls and boys, elementary-school students, and apparently everyone else considering buying a cheap intercourse-inna-canoe-beer or a stretchy swimsuit modeled by a model who needs minimal stretch in the breast area, but plenty in the crotch. Or invade places like … hospital wards, prison units, sorority houses, leisure spas, locker rooms, changing rooms, bathrooms, and the like, under the handy guise of claiming to ‘identify as’ female. No matter how unconvincing the pretense, and it appears that many of those pretenses are extraordinarily unconvincing, the perverts and sexual predators are determined on indulging their kink, while male and female authority figures positively cheerlead for the program of invasion. They accrue woke points in the eyes of their peers, I surmise. And the perverts, predators and scammers get away with it. Or at least, they have gotten away with it so far, although this might be on the cusp of changing.

Why have ordinary women waver on tolerating the invasion of their private spaces and sports competitions. Why would this be? Or as my late father would say – “How come?” While I am not a credentialed sociologist or specialist in human behavior – from what I have read and observed in my own life and gathered from others, women are generally much more vulnerable to social pressure from other women. Maybe it stems from having to be tight with the band of sisters and mothers when we were all part of a prehistoric hunter-gathering tribe, perhaps its from centuries of having to have solidarity with other women while living a very circumscribed life as a matter of survival – a dictatorship of petticoats as a 19th-century observer would have put it, in a tight circle of home-hearth-children-family. Whatever the basis for this might be – women in general have a notably much higher threshold for “This-is-crazy-y’all-are-nuts-I’m-outta-here!” then men. And teenage girls, going through the doubt and misery of going through puberty – with all which the confusion which that entails – seem to be most susceptible to destructive peer pressure, transient fads, social bullying, and the general madness of female crowds. There are exceptions to this, though – Sarah Hoyt calls them “Odds”; the freaks, non-conformists, outliers, eccentrics, and rebels; those of us who wander down a different path, pursuing a fascination in something other than what our peers are interested in. It could be a non-traditional sport or profession, or just defying the current convention by building a stable family and raising your children yourself. (It was noted that many of the women who regularly post comments at According to Hoyt are … military veterans. Which is curious in itself, as female veterans aren’t all that numerous in the general population.) It’s my feeling that it will be the non-conformist women, the “Odds” and the rebels who will not tolerate the trans madness and the invasion of female spaces, and who will take the lead in resisting the invasion of female spaces, and in bringing the trans-fad to a halt. Discuss as you wish.

The link to this story popped up in my Yahoo feed. Huh. I’m pretty much a devoted reader for various internet news aggregates, bloggers, and commenters; that there a massive scary (wooo-wooo!) threats from the rest of us aimed in the direction of the LGTBWXYZ-whatevers was purely news to me. From what I had gathered lately, threats of violence with regard to the LGTBWXYZ community were pretty much flying the other way, what with crazed overweight persons of indeterminate gender whining and weeping about how no one wanted to date them, getting fathers sacked from their jobs who made critical remarks at school board meetings about no safe spaces at school for straight kids, organized events featuring drag queen events for families (When did that concept become a thing, anyway!? With protection by the local Antifa chapter, no less.) and large gender-nonspecific persons with unnaturally-colored hair and facial piercings going on social media making blood-curdling threats of violence against anyone looking at a transperson sideways. Oh, and the gender-indeterminant shooting up schools and murdering children and staff, or just threatening to shoot up schools. As a genuine XX-gendered person with original-issue low-mileage lady parts, who (under medical supervision) squeezed out one offspring through them, and thereafter served as a military person of the XX-gender, and at the age that I am now, I consider myself to be a damned good judge of threatening situations and persons.

I have come a very long way, since a perv on a city bus used a casually-thrown-down overcoat on the space between us to creep his hand up my skirt, and another perve on a long military charter flight use a blanket between our seats to grab my hand (we were both ostensibly asleep) and put it on his male member. Yes, that perve was an XY-gender, and one of the … darker persuasion. I suppose I was supposed to exclaim in ecstasy, “It’s twoo! It’s twoo!” Instead, I was just mildly disgusted – and alerted to the potential for either perving or outright violence against women in a casual or transportation setting. By a decade and a half later, I was wise enough, and experienced enough to avoid situations like getting into an elevator with a single man in it, especially one who gave off an aura of threat. Or returning around midnight from a regular and profitable outside gig, bicycling across Yongsan Army Infantry Garrison at midnight, carefully avoiding the street where the NCO/EM club would be closing down for the night. A woman alone on a bicycle, a bunch of drunk, raucous and likely horny guys trained towards administering violence … yeah, my parents didn’t breed idiots. I routinely avoided that area of Yongsan on my late-night rides.

This is why the current rabid enthusiasm in allowing intact, biological males with all their original male equipment issue but claim that they are really-oh-truly-oh self-identified as female into spaces formerly reserved as female-only sets every mental alarm I have pinging madly, like the alert-alert-alert-dive-dive-dive signal in WWII submarine movies. I suspect that the alarm is pinging for other women, straight and lesbian alike. While I do accept that there is a miniscule minority of human beings who have convincingly adopted a sex other than the one they were born with, and there is an even smaller minority of unfortunates who were indeterminate – but there are too many males lately making an unconvincing pretense of being the flower of fair womanhood merely as a means of perving, bullying or predating upon … or possibly just grabbing a sports win. The whole trans-fetish being pushed universally by our politicians, academics, intellectuals and pop-entertainment figures, as well as the trans-activists themselves is meeting resistance – and I suspect that such resistance, like that of parents resisting unacceptable sex-oriented materiel being pushed in the schoolroom and on school-authorized field trips – is what inspires the heightened shrieking of the trans activists and their enablers. Discuss as you wish.

05. May 2023 · Comments Off on Projects · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic

Oh, yes – projects, I’ve got a few, and hoping to get most of them done with them by the time that my daughter and Wee Jamie return from California, after visiting family by next weekend. The tenants renting a house a couple of doors away from us move out – and leave a bunch of stuff. The tenant seems to have had hoarderish tendencies and told us that they are moving with family to Hawaii … so the pruning of household stuff has to be pretty drastic. Indeed, so drastic that there was a dumpster parked in the driveway for a couple of days.  Among the items discarded on the curb were some footlockers; my daughter snagged the two in best condition and … sigh … assumed confidently that I could do something creative with them, something that would return two battered and fairly cheap items to attractive functionality; one to be a toy chest for Wee Jamie, and the other to be storage/transport/display for Matilda’s Portmanteau merchandise … that would be the American Girl 18-inch doll dresses that I make for craft markets, out of scraps from sewing projects and this and that. I have a small trunk from Hobby Lobby that I fitted out for this purpose, some years ago, having purchased it with one of their 40% off coupons, but it wasn’t in the least satisfactory, being too small and too flimsy to hold more that a couple of items … the rest of the Portmanteau inventory is stashed in a couple of plastic tubs …

And anyway – part of my grand plan is to put all the Portmanteau inventory and Miss Matilda herself together in one container – the biggest of the footlockers and use the two plastic storage tubs for other purposes, like my daughter’s vast collection of Christmas stuff.

So far, the footlocker renovation project has necessitated two trips to Lowe’s for spray paint, a can of clear top-coat, and an assortment of small machine nuts and bolts. I will probably need one more trip for some slightly longer machine nuts and bolts to fasten on the replacement lock/latch on the smaller footlocker, which turned out to be metal-clad, with a composition wood-fiber interior that was sadly warped and needed to be stabilized with wood strips along the bottom. Plus I had to place an order to Amazon for the replacement latch, for peel-and-stick wallpaper rolls to adorn the inside, and a couple of replacement strap handles … and then there was a quick jaunt to Office Depot for heavy brochure paper and a roll of paper paste. The larger footlocker, which had a cheap cardboard casing, instead of metal, was damaged when I ripped off a couple of stickers … but never mind, those damaged patches will be hidden by a series of new stickers and the whole varnished over. An array of home-printed versions of vintage hotel stickers and shipping labels lifted from the internet will cover the damage, as Miss Matilda Doll is an experienced international traveler and only stays at the very best hotels in London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Bombay, and Singapore, while traveling by sea on Cunard, White Star and Hamburg-America. I may fit out the lid with rods to display the doll outfits on hangers.

At this juncture, with a week to go before Wee Jamie and my daughter return from California, the smaller trunk for Wee Jamie’s toys is all but finished, and the larger for Matilda is just started. I painted over the whole thing with brown paint yesterday and have begun masking off the main areas with painter’s tape now that the first coat is dry and hardened, so that the edge trim, corners, latches, hinges and handles can be painted a metallic black – a tedious and finicky process.

Almost as tedious as scraping and sanding off all the finish on the oak child’s armchair – which is also about half done.

One more week.

03. May 2023 · Comments Off on First Responders · Categories: Ain't That America?

Well, today I had a reminder of how those of us on the scene of, or immediately after an incident are the ‘first responders’ on the scene – generally beating out the police, fire department and ambulance, by minutes and sometimes hours. As this happened in a suburb, and on a heavily-trafficked intersection where two four-lane roads meet not half a mile from the fire station, the professionals were on the spot within five minutes. I’m certain other people had their cellphones out and calling 911 within seconds, as did I.

It was all very startling – and as these things usually do – happened in a matter of split seconds. I had concluded that I needed to make a run to Lowe’s for some more spray paint and other stuff for a couple of furniture renew projects and stop by the HEB grocery store for pet food on my way back home. So there I was, waiting in the left-hand turn lane on Nacogdoches, to turn left onto O’Connor, with one or two cars ahead of me, also waiting for the signal to turn green for us. The intersection seemed to be mostly clear; traffic waiting in both directions on Nacogdoches – first for the line of cars behind a small white compact, waiting to turn left from O’Connor, then for the other lanes to move.

I am not certain where the blue car came from – either flying up O’Connor from the direction of the highway, or up Nacogdoches in the other direction from me and trying to beat the red light. It was going at a good clip, at any rate. And it crashed head-on into the little white compact, just as it edged out into the intersection on seeing the light for the turn-lane go green. No matter which direction the blue car came from, it was going so fast that the impact flipped the white compact clear over, front to back. There it was, wheels up to the sky, and everything frozen for a moment.

It’s a peculiar metallic crunch, the sound that an auto crash makes, a sound that sticks with you. Several of us agreed on that, later. It’s the sound that an aluminum baseball bat the size of a small telephone pole makes, upon striking a pallet of empty cans.

It was a bit past noon on a working day, so there was a lot of traffic at the intersection – there’s a HTeaO outlet on one corner, a Black Rock Coffee outlet on the other, and across from those two enterprises on Nacogdoches, a CVS, and a Chase Bank with a good-sized HEB and a row of other enterprises behind it. I don’t imagine there was more than a moment before people began piling out of their cars, and going to the aid of the driver and whoever else was trapped in the white compact. It reminded me of the dash-cam video of the concrete pedestrian bridge over a busy artery in Florida a couple of years ago. A moment of shock … and then car and truck doors opening, and people – mostly men – running towards the scene of the collapse.

I was at a place where all that I could do was call 911 – and when I got through, the dispatcher already knew there had been a rollover at that intersection. I did manage to weave through the parking lot of Black Rock and make a way through the CVS parking lot – by that time, two police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck were already on the scene, and the police had all the witnesses that they needed for their reports. By the time that I came back through that intersection an hour or so later, everything was cleared away, all but a couple of piles of absorbing grit poured onto fluids leaked out of the crashed automobiles.

Reminder to self; remember to count to three before venturing into an intersection, upon the light turning green. Also – keep an eye out for a-holes coming the other way who don’t seem to be slowing down…