The question of when to talk to your children, when you live in a repressive dictatorship was something I remember from reading James Michener’s essay into political reporting The Bridge at Andau; an account into the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 against the Soviet Union, published the following year. There came a time when parents of school-aged children, Michener wrote, had to open up to their children, if they were anti-Soviet dissidents, religious, or simply Hungary-first patriots. It was a fine line; either live a lie in front of your children regarding your own beliefs, and at worst, see them irretrievably buy into the whole Soviet system if you left it too late, or trusting that they were sufficiently mature, to be adept at concealing such dissident beliefs in front of their schoolfellows, Communist-indoctrinated teachers – and informers among them. How old did your children need to be, before they could dissemble in front of peers, teachers and spying informants among them? It was a matter of deep concern to Hungarian parents, as Michener related. (Parenthetically, as a teenager and young adult I had never been the least bit enchanted by the golden chimera of communism in any guise. Growing up, my parents knew too many people who had fled from Communist-dominated or threatened countries and had heart-rending stories to tell of their experiences in living in and fleeing Cuba, Russia, Eastern Europe, the far East. Reading Michener’s account of the Hungarian Revolt definitely drew a line under my antipathy towards all-powerful dictatorships of the so-called proletariat.)

So the Department of Homeland Security – a governmental entity which just by it’s very name, sends nasty chills down my back – has funded a program to train teachers, ostensibly in something called ‘media literacy’ but which in practice looks more like monitoring students and their families political and religious beliefs, directing them in the preferred set of progressive doctrines and encouraging kids to inform on their peers … or their families who dissent from such doctrines. (This linked post on Legal Insurrection goes into greater and unsettling detail.) I should think that parents of school-aged children would be looking at this so-called ‘media literacy’ with considerable alarm; it has even more dangerous implications than pushing gender-confusion and outright porn for the elementary-school set. Exactly how many other school systems are participating in this program?

This is all of a piece with authoritarian dictatorships across the political spectrum; get ahold of the youth through the education system, mold them into the new man/woman/whatever, encourage them to inform on their families and peers, and reward them with praise, honors, after the example of Pavlik Morozov, the Boy Hero of the Soviets. I wonder if membership in a new organized youth group is part of Homeland Security’s long-term plans for their properly-indoctrinated school-aged cadres. Perhaps the Department’s experts are considering cute uniforms for participating student participants; something with brown shirts and black shorts, or maybe a bright red neckerchief. Discuss as you wish – and is this program being utilized in your local school district?

03. February 2024 · Comments Off on DIE, Quiet Quitting, And the Exit of Competence · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, Ain't That America?, Home Front, My Head Hurts, Rant, That's Entertainment!

About the only comfort that I could take away from the initial election of B. Whose-Middle Name-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned Obama was a small one – a hope that the election of a man of partial color and relatively cosmopolitan upbringing would at last bury the last lingering shreds of AmeriKKKa-Is-The-Most-Raaaaacist-Evah! Alas – it soon became very clear this was a sad, and forlorn hope. The new intellectually powered Diversity-Inclusion-Equity racism came roaring back like a movie serial killer in a twentieth remake of a Hollywood horror flick franchise. A decent regard for civil rights of black citizens has somehow metastasized into ‘DIE, whitey, DIE’ or at the very least, ‘no well-paying prestigious job for you, pale-male-and-stale.’ Never mind if the beneficiaries of these policies appear far less able to perform to the standards which the job requires … it seems to be the intentions that count. It’s no biggie if the bridge collapses, the aircraft collide on approach, the expensive movie bombs at the box office, or the press secretary babbles nonsense when asked a difficult question. The good intentions of DIE conquer all, even reality.

Is this a power-play on the part of the Democrat Party, the intellectual fashion o’ the moment on the part of our educational establishment, vicious class snobbery on the part of a managerial elite, nostalgic for the days of forelock-tugging peasantry who wouldn’t disobey the orders of their petty lords? A combination of all three? In any case, the would-be supreme powers appear to be going all out to demean, demoralize and economically beggar a confident property-owning, independent American middle and working class — a class of citizens which is mostly but not exclusively of European origin, and therefore mostly-sort-of-mainly white under the current popular description.

The results of ‘no job for you, whitey!’ is playing out in several wildly different areas with interestingly calamitous results, especially when it comes to lowering standards of competence in order to favor the chosen minority over those competent but disfavored by the principles of diversity/inclusion/equity. Ace of Spades linked to a post on a website called Film Threat, lamenting the difficulties of writers for TV shows; no cushy writing gigs on a diminishing number of shows unless the writer is anything but a white middle-aged heterosexual. Such experienced writers with a good (or even so-so) track record are being passed by, in favor of the trendy young gay, multiracial female (or identifying as such) – who have no experience and little apparent craft in actually telling a story and engaging more than a narrow audience segment. This would explain how domestic audiences for American TV and movies are crashing in such an extraordinary degree of late. Hollywood at large has established what amounts to a color bar; shafting the competent and experienced in favor of the not-so competent and relatively inexperienced … who then produce movies and TV which only a small portion of the available audience want to watch without a gun pointed at their head.

Another area where this is happening appears to be the military, especially in recruitment, now crashing to heretofore unexpected levels. It was conventional wisdom when I was active duty that generally black troops enlisted to get skills training and experience, mostly on the support part of the long spear. Whites and Hispanics enlisted or were commissioned, on the other hand, for the challenge and experience of being at the tip of the long pointy spear – fighter pilots, special forces, rangers, SEALS, whatever. Those guys (and most but not all were guys) came from a working-class, rural and/or southern background and the combat arms were what they wanted to be and to do. Now if they are still on active duty, they are being treated like moral lepers. Potential recruits from families with a long tradition of serving are snottily informed that they aren’t wanted in this splendid new and diverse military. So the rural working-class southern boys are bypassing the recruiting office, to the surprise of practically no one paying attention. Given the debacle of the Afghanistan withdrawal, any sensible parent or authoritative adult in the life of a potential recruit clearly sees that competent military leadership has left the building. I’m not the only veteran around these days, quietly discouraging any young person from considering a military career or a place in one of the academies.

The more heavily the thumb of the DIE advocates press down on the hiring/promotion scales, the faster the professionally competent will either quiet-quit, quit entirely, or not even be hired in the first place. Anyone not addled by diversity-inclusion-equity at the expense of competence can see this will accelerate the doom loop in the activities cited. Discuss as you wish, and if you have gruesome examples from personal experiences, or insights to share, please do.

25. January 2024 · Comments Off on Say Goodbye to Hollywood · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, History, Memoir

Last week, in a discussion thread on a story about plans to revamp Hollywood Boulevard and make it attractive to tourists, against an apparently overwhelming tide of homelessness, addiction and petty crime, someone posted a link to this Billy Joel song. For some curious reason it struck me, since I have been saying goodbye to Hollywood – the physical place, and the entertainment concept – over the last couple of decades.

I grew up on the fringes of physical Hollywood. My immediate family was not directly involved in the entertainment world, although there were a great number of curious connections. A fair number of friends and associates were employed in show-biz, mostly as technical specialists for various studios. One very dear friend of Mom and Dad’s was a makeup artist; curiously, as a straight and good-looking man, he wound up dating a fair number of stars and starlets before his marriage. They were gorgeous women and lonely when it came to dating, as their degree of fame intimidated the heck out of most potential dates who were not ‘in the business’. The husband of my Girl Scout troop leader when I was in high school was an audio tech for Warner Brothers; he got the troop a private tour of the studio lot. The set of the throne room/Round Table for the movie Camelot was still set up on one of the enormous sound stages, and it was every bit as cavernously awesome as it appeared in the movie, with enormous candelabras filled with dripping candles as thick around as my wrist. We also got to see and be introduced to Efrem Zimbalist, as he was shooting an episode of The FBI. Richard Widmark’s brother was one of my high school teachers – and another high school teacher had Tommy and Dick Smothers as students back in the day. Ronny Howard went to the same local junior high for a while – he was the same age as my next-younger brother. (Ronny’s stint in public school didn’t work out well – he was bullied and scorned for being a cry-baby, and his parents eventually removed him from that school.)
The Lutheran church in North Hollywood that we attended for many years also had a coterie of Hollywood people in the congregation – again, mostly techs, although Barbara Hutton coached the kid’s chorus for a while, and Elke Sommer also turned up now and again. (At a time, she had the public image of being a Continental sexpot – against type, she was a devout Lutheran and daughter of a Lutheran minister back in Germany.) As I had written before, Granny Clarke, the mother of one of Mom’s best friends had a storied career for half a century as housekeeper to the stars. The Cal State University Northridge campus, which I went to for upper division was a location for exteriors for the medical drama Medical Center, and there was often a camera crew working there. For years afterwards, running the TV control room for whatever AFRTS outlet I was assigned to, I amused myself by spotting familiar places around Los Angeles which had served as backgrounds. For TV shows mostly, as the movie location shooting could go very much farther afield by the late 1970s and early 80’s.

Say goodbye to Hollywood … my brothers and sister also knew physical aspects from the weekly commute to church. Over the hills from the San Fernando Valley, and down through Laurel Canyon – past the forest-grown grounds of Harry Houdini’s estate, although we were never looking in that direction. There was an old rustic house on the other side of Laurel Canyon, with a spiral staircase from an upper floor room wound round the trunk of a big tree next to the building. We were enchanted by that house, and always looked for it. Down to Sunset Boulevard, turning right and past the place where the Garden of Allah had been, and where there was a model of that legendary hotel complex in a glass case next to the bank HQ that sat for a time on that very spot. Past the Whiskey-a-Go-Go – then the white-hot live-music and clubbing venue on Saturday nights. Past the great neo-gothic cliff of the Chateau Marmont … past the more-than-life-size rotating showgirl on the signboard for the Sahara Hotel in Los Vegas – a billboard made famous by the book and movie Myra Breckenridge … all this to the tune of Mom quietly grousing about the drivers with out of state license plates, driving oh-so-slowly, thinking they would catch a glimpse of a real movie star! Yeah, a recognizable movie star, walking along the Sunset Boulevard sidewalk, on an early Sunday morning. It was considered rather tacky to make a big thing about recognizing a movie or TV star, gushing over how much you luuuuved them, and asking for an autograph. That was for tourists; for us here in that part of California, it was just the local industry, the business that many worked for; we were properly blasé. Gushing over stars that you recognized on the street, in a grocery store, or anywhere else? Tacky, tacky, tacky.

I was gone from there by 1977. The congregation of the Lutheran church had dwindled to almost nothing well before then, the building deconsecrated, sold and torn down, which was a pity, as it was a lovely neo-Tudor structure with gorgeous stained-glass windows, and traditional, richly embroidered paraments to dress the altar and sanctuary with. The various studios are still there, sort of, although much diminished from their heyday of more than half a century ago. Movies and television shows are filmed and taped practically everywhere else. The tourists who still come to see Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, and the handprints of stars in the sidewalk apparently have to step over human poop on the sidewalk and dodge aggressive street people. I don’t think that proposed revamping will help much. It will all be a Potempkin set dressing on a decaying urban setting. And I haven’t set foot in a movie theater in ages, and the TV shows that we watch at home now are all produced and filmed/taped practically anywhere else.
Say Goodbye to Hollywood, indeed.

21. January 2024 · Comments Off on Shopping Daze · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic

We spent most of Saturday morning doing the semi-monthly grocery shopping run; a rather abbreviated run as it turns out, as my daughter has some houses to show on Sunday to clients who work Monday-Friday. We have given up driving to New Braunfels once a month to drop a goodly lot of money on meats from Granzin. This is lamentable, as Granzin’s sausages and the various meats, fresh, marinated, smoked and dried were absolutely prime and relatively inexpensive, but with Wee Jamie, a full schedule of real estate stuff for my daughter, and the nerve-wracking drive on a busy highway … road trips like that were just not something we can keep on doing – and never mind the hours’ long trip to Pflugerville or Victoria to the Aldi outlet. (That’s for when we are going in that direction for something else, anyway.)

The cost of most grocery staples has gone up, making certain economies necessary. I’m accustomed to cooking most things from scratch and have lived through patches of extreme economy and a limited budget, so the shopping list doesn’t include much in the way of frozen prepared items anymore – just basic ingredients. As my daughter says – ‘We are Old Poor, compared to the New Poor,’ for whom necessary austerity must bite very hard in the last year or so. But even basic ingredients have increased in price, to the point where now the military base commissaries offer a better deal than HEB, the Texas grocery chain, which has a huge distribution center here in San Antonio, and which has run just about every other national chain out of the state. (It’s a small town indeed, which doesn’t rate a HEB grocery outlet.)

This wasn’t always the case. When I first came to Texas, assigned to the video production unit at Lackland AFB, it was honestly even money whether HEB offered better pricing than the Commissary – various HEB locations certainly offered a wider selection than the commissaries, which mostly featured national big-name brands, and offered in-store bakeries and deli counters and numerous Texas-local brands. After so about a decade and a half of having the base commissary as the only and often limited grocery option, I was glad to shift my grocery-purchasing custom to HEB, and the lavish array of staples and specialty foods on offer, and to either Costo or Sam’s Club for items we used in quantity. We still do Costco, for certain items, and Chewy for pet food … but we’re back to making a commissary runs twice a month. It turns out that the DOD has extended commissary and PX access to veterans across the board, not just retirees, which means that my daughter can shop there for baby and toddler food for Wee Jamie, as the prices for the brands that we favor for him are somewhat less expensive – one thing that has changed for the better, I guess.

19. January 2024 · Comments Off on Misplaced Sarcasm · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, History, Media Matters Not

One of my occasional internet stops is a group blog featuring analysis of costuming, hair and makeup in a wide range of movies, TV shows and miniseries set in all periods and countries, up to the late 1950s or so. The various contributors have, between them, considerable expertise in aspects of historic costuming, apparently unlimited time, access to the material under consideration, sharp eyes for detail, and a reservoir of snark the size of Lake Michigan. Now and again some of them have gone all out for diversity, inclusion and equity, but not to an absolutely insufferable degree; mildly annoying, but not enough to put me off returning. I have a mild interest in historic costuming, since I do like to dress in period Victorian or Edwardian attire for book events. And the sarcasm is occasional diverting, especially when aimed at badly done costuming, or at a variety of commonly-committed goofs in the genre – things like corsets without any shift underneath, metal grommets in lacing-up garments much before the late 19th century, a tragic lack of hairpins and hats in settings when they would have been required absolutely, zippers up the back of costumes … I’ve occasionally waxed sarcastic about some of these aspects myself.

The other limit to the range of movies considered, besides pre-1950s, is that they don’t ‘do’ war movies, ancient and modern, not having any interest or expertise in uniforms and generally no interest in war movies anyway. Which is a perfectly OK principle to maintain … but just this week, one contributor yielded under protest into watching Band of Brothers because her boyfriend wanted to watch it. Apparently she was so resentful about having to watch that she posted about the experience; just stills of the various actors with a bitter and brief tagline about what their other acting roles had been and a request for judgement on whether she was an a-hole for not relishing the series, as all those white boys looked alike when covered in dirt. Oh, my – the comments on that post were pretty fiery. I’m still working out in my own mind why I was so offended by the flippant dismissal. Likely it’s on the principle of keeping silent if you can’t find anything nice to say. You know – if you and your weblog doesn’t do war movies and don’t know anything about military uniforms, then you just might be better off giving a miss to posting about it all, rather than being spiteful and sarcastic.

But there is a bit more than that; Band of Brothers is an excellent series; the producers took every care to make it as accurate as possible (which at least she gave credit for), and to cast actors who looked as much like their real-life counterparts had appeared at the time. As a dramatic representation of what it was like for the guys of Easy Company in the European Theater 1944-45, Band of Brothers is as good as it ever gets. It just seemed like the blogger/contributor was just dumping on a generation of men because she had to watch a series about them.

I don’t know if I will go back to checking out their posts, after this. I can get my fix of costume design and historical critique at Bernadette Banner and Prior Attire, I think.

14. January 2024 · Comments Off on Incoming · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry

A winter storm/extreme cold front has hit this weekend, with overnight temperatures falling into the ‘well-below-freezing’ range; rare indeed for this part of Texas.  Our planting zone falls around “9” – which generally means that warm-weather plants – banana trees, citrus, ferns and the like – generally do rather well. The occasional snow that stays for longer than a couple of hours after sunrise is a rare happening. Like about every twenty years or so. But one of those last long-predicted winter blasts hit a little less than two years ago and hit so catastrophically that everyone’s memories are still quite unpleasantly fresh … especially memories of how badly our civic power authorities bungled a long-predicted cold front which left much of suburban San Antonio freezing in the dark, and without tap water. A foot of snow on the ground, too – which would have left places in the Northern tier doubled over laughing; ‘That’s not winter … this (pointing to four feet and more on the ground for weeks and months on end) is winter!’ But the naked fact is that places like Ogden, Utah, Denver, Colorado, and Truckee, California are set up to cope with lots of snow and prolonged freezing temperatures, and South Texas is not. (What we are set up for is months of summer heat at temperatures in the three figures.)

Every one of my neighbors whose memories of the Great Snowmagedden of February, 2021 are uncomfortably vivid grimly prepped for something like it to happen again: stocking up on any groceries to be needed in the next week, making certain that electronic devices are charged, and that we are stocked up on propane, bottled water and toilet paper. The word on Next Door is that various HEB groceries are entirely out of canned soups and the like. Probably bread, milk and sandwich fixings, too. What saved a lot of my neighbors and I during Snowmagedden was having camping gear, propane camping stoves or barbeques, and a lot of blankets and firewood. We made out OK, generally – not happy about it all, especially the owners of one house which burned because the fire department couldn’t pull water from the hydrants because the pipes were frozen or empty – but we all remembered the week of misery. Hence the grim preparations, just in case. Our faith and trust in the power grid and those who manage it has been considerably reduced in the last couple of years. If what I heard on a walkabout during the last prolonged power outage this spring, at least a dozen neighbors have bought and set up household generators.

Right now it’s overcast and 30 degrees outside, and it’s late afternoon. The temperature will drop after sunset: a hard freeze is predicted for tonight, and pretty much the same for the next few days. We’ve taken the few tender plants that the hot, rainless summer didn’t kill into the garage, hung a blanket over the front door, and drawn the curtains and shutters over the windows to preserve as much of the warmth as possible. The dogs and cats are all inside and sheltered – at least this time around, we don’t have chickens to keep inside, too. The battery lanterns, our cellphones and my Kindle are all on their chargers – so, we’ll see what develops. Already, the inside walls and windows are cold to touch. We’ll keep the heat on tonight, which is not our usual custom, but with Wee Jamie as part of the household now, we can’t long endure an excessively cold house.

 

Out of the blue in the week before Christmas, my daughter asked me if I had any idea of how the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, early in December, 1941, generally affected the Christmas mood that year. Of course, she knows that I wouldn’t have any personal memories of that period (as I wasn’t even born until 15 years after that event) but I grew up pretty well marinated in memories and memoirs of World War 2 – even more so when I sat down to write a novel set in that time period. Yes, the Christmas of 1941 was a nerve-wracking time for more than just Americans, even if a war in Europe had been going on for more than two years. In the Far East, countries and colonies were falling like ninepins to imperial Japanese invasion and occupation all through the first months of 1942. I have gathered so from memoirs; and also from my own memories of the lead-up to Christmas, 1990 and the buildup when operations began before the first Gulf War (the last year that we were in Spain) and how mothers and fathers put on a brave face for small children. They did their best then, as we did that year, to have an absolutely normal, reassuring Christmas, with presents and Santa, carols and a nice meal. In 1941 and for three subsequent years, parents had to explain the sudden absence of older brothers and cousins, younger uncles and fathers, and the necessity of blackouts. Probably later, they had to put a brave face on depressing headlines in the newspaper that yet another island, town or province had been attacked, and might soon surrender – just as I and other parents stationed at European bases had to explain Desert Shield; new concertina around the base perimeter, a flightline full to bursting with parked transport aircraft, the long hours that military parents and spouse volunteers were all working.

This last Christmas wasn’t so fraught as all that, but it still seemed to me to have been pretty restrained; the two Christmas markets that we participated in were almost flat-lined. Everyone seemed to be holding on to what money they had. We went to one small-town Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which was crowded … but it was a small town, out in the Hill Country, which we presumed to be fairly sheltered against disruptive shenanigans. But everything costs more, this year – we couldn’t do massive batches of fudge to give away to friends and neighbors this year but had to settle for baking a few sheet pans of bar cookies instead. UPS used to park a storage unit in the driveway of a house just inside the neighborhood and made deliveries in a golf-cart with a trailer hitched to it … not this year. (Or last, to be fair.) On the other hand, the post office was swamped; they had at least four days backlog on deliveries. This seemed to be nationwide, as it made the local news. I suspect it was not the number of parcels in the system, but that transportation systems were clogged and erratic. I have the sense of people hunkering down, looking at a dark horizon, waiting for the storm to hit. Inflation, terrorism, crime, war and civic unrest, the near-certainty of an election season that will make the history books in a bad way as a cautionary tale and a renewed panic over a wildly-communicable but relatively harmless virus – any or all in combination.

There is a brief passage towards the end of Marcia Davenport’s family epic of the Pittsburgh steel mills (a book and the movie made from it posted about here at Chicagoboyz by David Foster) which resonated with me, when I reread it late last year… “One thing was held by everybody in common, everybody from the flower-seller on his corner and the gruff driver of a rattling hack, to the artists at the opera and the sober officials up in the Hrad?any; a knowledge that every day of the good life now was a day gained from an ominous and impenetrable future. They would make and listen to their music and cook and eat their delectable food and promulgate and live by their wise laws intently aware that the rim of security and sanity was shrinking, shrinking visibly around them, every day. … it was the infinite personal perfection of life that glowed warm and treasurable against the thickening miasmas of the wilderness outside. Each homecoming now was not merely the delight of coming home, but the tense appreciation of this home to come to, this perfection balanced so delicately on the brink of a volcano.”

Ah, well – I wish that I could hope for a happy new year – but I can read the skies as well as anyone. Discuss as you wish.

It was my daughter’s notion to watch Christmas movies beginning at the first of November, but we pretty well watched all the ones that we wanted to watch by last week – even old favorites like A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and new favorites like Arthur Christmas. This has had the effect of Wee Jamie being perfectly happy and sociable when introduced to that weird stranger known as Santa Claus – a fat jolly man with a long white beard and a red coat trimmed with white fur. That project being successfully accomplished, we commenced on a secondary aim… to properly nerdify Wee Jamie with a watching of the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Yes, not only did my daughter and I made it a project to go see each of the movies as they launched (normally at a multiplex in Oceanside when she was still in the Marines and I came out to California to spend the holiday at my parents’ house) but I had started her off early by reading all of RR Tolkein’s The Hobbit and LOTR to her as a bedtime story when she was three … and I had read them all to my little brother Alex as well when he was about seven or eight. This was a project which took at least a year, and my little brother was so immersed in the story that he could do a very creditable voice as Sam Gamgee by the time we were done. He also dressed as a hobbit that Halloween, in a tunic and cloak, with a sword and shield by his side. (Wooden ones that Dad made for him.)

The whole four-volume epic is a great read-aloud adventure, by the way – every chapter, practically, ends on a cliffhanger. We still love the movie version, though, in spite of the mild violence done to the storyline in the interests of moviemaking. Skipping over Tom Bombadil was understandable, and Arwen had to be introduced as a character, instead of appearing out of the blue with no explanation at the very end. Faramir, unlike his brother twigged the peril of possessing the Ring almost at once, but really, was it necessary to make Denethor such an unpleasant character?

On the other hand, the visual sweep of Middle Earth was just mind-bogglingly wonderful – the pleasant, rural Shire and golden, stream-threaded Rivendell, the ancient statues looking over the river, Meduseld, the Golden Hall of Rohan, the charge of the Rohirrim before the walls of Minias Tirith, and the splendor of the White City itself. What I really liked over the course of the Trilogy was the care taken in the design of sets and props; instead of settling for a vaguely medieval-fantasy of places and folk, Peter Jackson and his designers made an obvious distinction between the various settings. The Shire was vaguely late Victorian rural cottage, Rivendell was very Art-Deco, while Rohan was early Saxon/Germanic, and Gondor classical Roman/Romanesque. I like that the distinctions were so carefully drawn and noted. This just added so much visual texture to the Trilogy.

The one thing that we both wish, as far as movie-making goes – is that Peter Jackson had decided to do movies all of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, instead of padding out The Hobbit to make three movies out of what could have been only rather long one. I get chills, just imagining what Jackson could have made of that mythic tale. The Prydain story arc could have been a series just as riveting, and with as many yearly releases as the Harry Potter epic. Ah, well – we all have our dreams, in the world of Nerddom.

29. November 2023 · Comments Off on Close to the Edge · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, Media Matters Not, Politics, Tea Time, World

I’ve felt over the last couple of years, that there is a steep precipice in our path, up to which our current Ruling Class is staggering blindly. Not just our American path, but in the developed world generally, and in that of western Europe. Things just can’t continue as they are. There is a breaking point coming. Really, no one might accurately predict exactly what small spark will kick off the explosion or the fall from a great height, or exactly where it might occur. The precipitating powers move in the shadows, veiled by a news media which deliberately veils them anyway. Too many national and international elites are pursuing policies which benefit them, rather than the countries they are supposed to govern. Too many of the transnational ruling class, indeed, seem to be in competition to pour contempt and derision on their less-fortunate, relatively powerless fellow citizens … and that’s a situation which can’t continue indefinitely. People are too stressed, made angry by things which they can’t control. Road rage incidents, riots that flame up like a prairie fire, unprovoked beatings, mass brawls in fast food restaurants and on commercial airliners; people are snapping over the slightest provocation, a misheard word, a momentary inconvenience…

There are just too many small indicia of trouble – small things, taken individually which wouldn’t mean much. But all the big things pile up like firewood, only wanting the tinder – which I fear that the small things will provide, to our cost. Big things like the Covidiocy, locking people into their houses and out of a social life, and then the vax mandate which cost them jobs, BLM/Antifa riots and protests which wrecked downtowns across red states, and inspired city governments to turn a blind eye towards property crime and the organized looting of retail outlets. The erasure of national borders is another one of those big things, stressing on a local level, when mobs of strangers suddenly show up and are favored with shelter, food and considerations not given to local citizens, deserving or not.

A recent incident which caught my attention and hinted to me that we are very close to the disastrous edge was the unprovoked knife attack at a school in Dublin – an attack which severely injured a woman and three children. (Link goes to Neo Neocon, and an interesting and informative discussion in the comment thread.)Initially, the local police were coy about describing the assailant, although he was captured almost at once. In the US, we have learned what to assume – with a high degree of accuracy – when a Person of No Description is apprehended after committing violence. Apparently, the Irish have learned that lesson as well. Having been fed to the back teeth with assorted petty and major crimes committed by an alien element – third-world migrants forced upon their communities by a governing class who appeared to be much more interested in currying favor with their international ruling class elsewhere in Europe, the locals chose to make their unhappiness in a language which the ruling class can’t ignore.
“… Some in Ireland believe too many people have arrived, too quickly, and that we need a ‘mature debate’ about it. But whenever they say something, they’re branded bigots and scum.”
Firey riots appear to be an acceptable means of protesting when it comes to an urban underclass, but only of the aggrieved are the right sort, dontchaknow. In any case, the national stereotype is of the Irish generally being truculent and ready to fight on any ground; after all, they fought being colonized by the British for a good few centuries; who would have expected them to lie down and be colonized by anyone else.

The observation in the above-linked article does ring very true to me; the ruling class willfully closing their ears to the voices of the ruled class by branding them bigots and scum. And deplorable, racists, stupid … Our own ruling elite did the same with the Tea Party. As courteous, reasonable, responsible and thoughtful a body of citizens as ever was in the United States political life, and for all that, called names and abused by the media, entertainment and political class.
Discuss as you will, while we still can.

16. November 2023 · Comments Off on Good Times, We Hardly Knew You · Categories: Ain't That America?

My daughter and I are off on a binge of watching Christmas movies, as it seems that episodes of Cadfael, starring Derek Jacobi and a cast clad in lamentably Ren-fair costumes, inspire nightmares in Wee Jamie. So to my regret, we ditched Cadfael … honestly, why is it that the top English actors are generally so ordinary, and individual in appearance? Too many American actors look like underwear models, one indistinguishable from the next, peeled out of the same mold…

Anyway, we started with Home Alone, and Home Alone 2 … although I do note that McCauley Culkin was one of those kid actors who did not ‘adult’ well as he grew. But it was sad to look back at the Home Alone franchise from a nostalgic point of view. No interminable wait to go through security at the airport, for example. And once upon a time, my children, it was possible to go straight to the gate to meet someone arriving. And Home Alone 2 was even more of a punch to the nostalgia gut – the top of the World Trade Center tower, shining and silver. The Plaza Hotel, with Donald Trump in a brief bit part, when he was just a flamboyant TV and tabloid celeb with a penchant for dating models … New York City streets without crazies punching out total strangers. No one wearing masks because they feared the Commie Crud. The first Gulf War was over and won, the Russian Iron Curtain had fallen … and oh, things weren’t perfect, by any means … but most of us didn’t fear our local cops and we trusted the professionalism of the FBI. We could be sure that our politicians and national media didn’t hate the guts of half the American population with a white-hot passion, and we were also pretty certain that kids in most public schools were learning the basics, and not being perved on by teachers and bullied by the urban thug element … well, mostly.

Life was pretty good – and we didn’t even know it.

30. October 2023 · Comments Off on Tale of the Moroccan Brass Table (And Stand) · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic

So I was wandering though my YouTube subscription channels and noticed this one particular bit of restorage – a mid-century modern Moroccan brass coffee table on a wooden stand, which rather decayed object was being renovated and restored. And it reminded me very much of a similar table which served in my parent’s various houses for nearly four decades, until it was destroyed in the 2003 Paradise Mountain Fire in northern San Diego County. That fire pretty much obliterated Mom and Dad’s retirement house. All that was left standing was a quadrangle of conblock walls … everything else in the house burned to a crisp, unless it was a few things that Mom threw into the back of her car, or which the firemen grabbed when the fire began exploding the glass windows inwards. When all was said and done, the insurance claim paid off and the house rebuilt, I think Mom rather had fun replacing the furniture and contents to her own taste, rather than what had been a random collection of family hand-be-downs and stuff acquired because it was available and either inexpensive or free.

The Moroccan brass table that my parents had in their various living rooms looked more like this one on eBay: almost five feet across, engraved overall with an ornate deckle edge and a matching wood and brass “spider” stand, which folded flat. Mom usually had the current issues of her magazines arranged on it, with an antique globe-shaped bowl with blue irises on it in the center. When we were expecting guests, it was usually my chore to remove all the issues of Harpers, The Atlantic, American Heritage and whatever, to apply about a quart of brass polish and the equivalent amount of elbow grease and polish the darned thing, before replacing the array of magazines. But when Mom and Dad refurnished their house, the Moroccan brass coffee table wasn’t something they were fond enough of to replace. The one like it that I located on eBay is on offer for almost $900, nearly half again what it originally ought to have cost. The insurance would have paid for a replacement … if they had wanted one. And why did Mom and Dad give houseroom for so many years to an expensive, high maintenance but distinctly flashy bit of mid-century exotic modern? They didn’t pick it out or pay for it – it came as a gift from Great-Aunt Nan. And thereby hangs a bit of a family story.

I think Great-Aunt Nan worked a lot of different jobs in her lifetime – I am not entirely certain what some of them were; secretarial positions for certain, possibly up-scale retail sales, a telegraphist in the 1930s, a government job in WWII and an enlistment in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. She might also have had income from what remained of the family fortunes established by her father, my Great-grandfather George. She lived very simply in small rental apartments, and traveled when the urge took her … anyway, one day in the mid-1960s, she was tootling around one of the high-end department stores in downtown Los Angeles. It may have been Bullocks, could have been May Co., or Robinsons. For some reason, Nan went wandering through the furniture department – and spied the Moroccan table and stand.

Holy cow! It was priced at $60, which even then was a steal! Obviously, someone marking the price tag on that table had made a howling blunder by misplacing a decimal point; it should have been marked $600! Well, never one to disdain a bargain, Nan insisted on buying the Moroccan brass table (and stand) for $60, over the strenuous objections of the salesperson, and the department head, and for all that I know, the store manager. No, (said Nan, standing her ground as only a spinster lady of independent means and irreproachable English upbringing could) – she knew the rights of retail sales. What the price on the sales floor was marked as – that was what it would sell for, and she would have that Moroccan brass table (and stand) for the $60 marked price, or else… I have no doubt that Nan would have raised the matter all the way to the Bullock’s company president and the board of directors.

Of course, Nan emerged triumphant, with the $60-dollar Moroccan brass table (and stand) in her possession – an item for which she had about as much use for as a goldfish does for long winter underwear. It was the principle of the thing, and too good a bargain to pass up. She gave it to Mom and Dad, who also appreciated bargains, even if it wasn’t for an item which they liked particularly well. Free was an even better deal than $60.

And that is the tale of the inadvertently marked-down Moroccan brass coffee table (and stand.) You’re welcome.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.