Count De Monet – “Sir, the peasants are revolting!”
King Louis – “You said it. They stink on ice.”

Played for laughs in a movie by a producer/performer whom many of us doubt would ever get a green light today. But the great and good in the media and in the intellectual class – really do affect the pose that the peasants stink on ice, and say so, at every opportunity and in every possible venue. They despise the residents in Flyoverlandia – those who had the temerity to be conservative, conventionally religious, independent of thought, fiscally-careful, or even (gasp!) voting for Trump – or against Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua. Victor Davis Hansen collected up a litany of poisonous disparagement in this recent essay; a collection that is all the more depressing as an assemblage, nasty as each one of them were considered in isolation as they occurred and bubbled up to the top of the outrage cycle.

How did all this come about? (David F. ventured on this topic earlier this month.) I mean, there has always been a certain degree of social snobbery on the part of those who viewed themselves as being of the upper class, the managerial sort, the better-educated, and those who honestly felt they were the winners in the Darwinian struggle. The intellectual and artistic set always did regard themselves as a cut above the common herd. Over in Jolly Olde England, the gentry and nobility enforced their own supreme position with a fine sense of social brutality against ambitious interlopers.
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Honestly, I just meant to get a screwdriver from the toolbox in the garage, and go about my soon-to-be-renovated bathroom, taking down the glass shelf, the towel hook and the little glass vases in nickel-finished holders – all the hardware that I am going to reuse because I liked it very much, and they were pretty expensive when I first purchased them from Crate and Barrel when I did some superficial redecorating of the master bathroom shortly after moving in.

But I found the putty knife when I was going through the toolbox (which I will need to scrape that disgusting popcorn texture off the ceiling) and the big hammer … I am going to be using all of them in the next few days anyway. Yes, I walked into the bathroom with the hammer and began bashing away at the tile surround, just to see how difficult it would be. What with one thing and another, about a third of the nasty stuff is removed. This is featureless white contractor-grade tile of no particular merit, with the grout between permanently grotty and incapable of ever being thoroughly clean … well, I just got carried away, mostly with how much I hate that nasty cheap bathtub and shower surround in the master bathroom. It turns out that although water had seeped through the tile surround at the angles, and where it joined the top of the bathtub – there was not as much catastrophic rot and water-damage as I had feared. Although the drywall immediately underneath is so decayed that it crumbles like chalk, and I can pull it away with my bare hands. Here I thought that the drywall underlay for tile in bathrooms and all – was supposed to be the extra-heavy moisture-resistant stuff with the green paper coating. This wasn’t. It was the ordinary stuff, and moisture had gotten into it. No wonder I couldn’t keep the crud at bay in the grout. This is not the first structural omission I have found in my house, but at least this one will be remedied soon.

The first shipment of the replacement tile for the shower enclosure arrived yesterday – which is what brought all this on. I ordered it from Wayfair, because I liked the looks, and it was on special-reduced sale at an acceptable $2-3 per square foot – a traditionalish pattern in what looked like pale blue on a cream background and would suit the new walk-in shower enclosure. The UPS delivery guy is going to get an extra-special large box of fudge next Christmas, because the boxes with the tile are darned heavy – and little doeth he know that there will be two more boxes next week, as well as the new vanity – which I also ordered off Wayfair, because it also came up on sale; exactly what I wanted for an early 20th century and country look – wainscoting halfway up the walls, anaglypta wallpaper on the ceiling and dressing-room walls, hexagonal white tile on the floor, archaic-appearing faucets and fixtures.

First thing today, I took one of the bathroom tiles down to Lowes’ to match the paint for the walls and woodwork. It turns out that on close examination – the background is more of a white with a bluish cast, and the figure is almost a slate grey-blue. A challenge to match, but the woman at the paint counter took it as her personal mission to do so. Now I have a gallon each of whitish-with-a-blue cast, and slate-grey-bluish paint piled up with the other stuff which will play a part in the renovation, and an ambition to clear out as much as I can, single-handed, before mid-week, when Neighborhood Handy Guy and his pickup truck and I go to collect the last of the necessary materials which don’t fit easily into the back of the Montero.

The new home renovation project for this year has commenced, in a small way. This is the renovation of the master bathroom – number three on my grand five-year plan for sorting out the tiny suburban bungalow – which in another two years will be entirely paid off, mortgage-wise. It was once my ambition to do a second mortgage, once the first had been paid in full, and use the profits from sale of the California raw acreage to purchase a half-acre in the Hill Country and build my dream house on it. This probably will not happen, although I still have hopes of the Adelsverein Trilogy or the Luna City series suddenly (and miraculously) attaining the popularity and stratospheric sales figures of Fifty Shades of Grey, or the Outlander series, and enable us to buy a substantial property and build a bespoke mansion on it. But hope is not a plan – and this; this is the Five-Year Plan to sort out the present house, and make it fit for a local author with modest tastes, a huge library, and a tasteful collection of career mementos to live in.
So – the master bathroom becomes the next item on the list after renovating the guest bath (AKA Blondie’s bathroom), the new roof, and the Amazing Catio. Those three items were completed last spring; the Catio is almost completely paid for. Time to move on to the next two projects; the garage – now a good part cleared out in preparation for a new door – and the master bath.
This facility is a pair of rooms about five by five feet each, as laid out by the construction firm which built most of the Spring Creek Forest subdivision over three decades. They were one of the better firms, which meant that the constructor-grade appliances and installed fixtures were not absolute dreck, constructed from paper straws, tinfoil and bottom-grade cabinets of compressed wood chips and a thin vinyl veneer, and purchased by the railcar-sized lot. (Seriously, when Neighborhood Handy-guy ripped out the small bathroom vanity last year, I demolished it myself with a carpenter’s hammer, and stuffed the remains into the ordinary trash can.) More »

I used to like going to the movies. When I was growing up, going to the movies was an occasional treat. In the very early days, it was the drive-in movie double-feature. Likely this was because it was cheap, and Dad was a grad student with a family, and on a tight budget: JP and I in our pjs, with bedding and our pillows in the venerable 1952 Plymouth station wagon, the back seat folded down, and falling asleep almost as the titles for the second feature rolled; Charlton Heston as El Cid, seen dimly through the windshield of the Plymouth, between Mom and Dad’s heads, and the rearview mirror. Sean Connery as James Bond, bedding another of an enthusiastic series of chance-encountered and spectacularly-endowed women, and me thinking, as I dozed off, “Oh, that’s nice – she hasn’t got a hotel room, and he’s sharing his …”
Yeah, I was six or seven years old. That’s what it looked like to me, curling up in the back of the station wagon, as my parents finagled their own low-budget date night. Later on, it would be a Disney movie in one of the splendid, then-sadly-faded old picture palaces in Pasadena; the Alhambra, the Rialto, or the Academy, accompanied by Granny Jessie – this after much discussion of which movies appropriate for grade-school age children were available at a matinee showing. This would be one of only one or two movies we saw in a theater for the entire year, so we would choose very carefully, indeed. I think Granny Jessie was grateful when we were able to appreciate somewhat more mature fare, such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming, and What Did You Do in the War, Daddy.
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Well, it certainly started off with a bang … or, strike that, a number of spectacular public tantrums on the part of people that ordinary humans might have expected to have cultivated a more mature approach when it came to coping with others in the public sphere. I speak of the Gamestop shop customer of indeterminate sex who went off on the cashier for addressing … ummm, the customer as a man, when on the thin basis of some eye makeup, the customer apparently hoped to pass as a woman and not a member of a 1980s tribute rock band. Let me break it to you gently, guy – as a woman myself, you’re doing the woman-thing all wrong. A little more care with the coiffure, a skirt and some nice stockings and low heels, and a soft-spoken Southern lady demeanor – even adorning a six-foot-something frame with shoulders like a football quarterback – would make it easier for those you encounter in public to go along with a pretense of you being a delicate little flower of womanhood.

Of the vape-store clerk (now a former vape-store clerk) feeling all righteous and entitled to go off on an abusive rant against a customer wearing items of clothing identifying him as a Trump fan … seriously, when did it become OK to be an abusive butthead in public? Or is it just that incidents like this are more likely to be documented in this age of practically everyone having a telephone capable of recording short video? Cannot we all agree on a new year resolution – to act like mature, well-adjusted adults in public? More »

29. December 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Domestic

It’s been a bit since I did one of these year-end and year-looking-forward roundups. Well, since I had gotten a fair number of those goals achieved, or had a good go at them, it all seemed kind of pointless. But I did get certain strategic goals accomplished for 2018 – namely the first couple of items on the Five-Year Home Renovation plan. For a good few years, I had the dream of purchasing half an acre in the Hill Country and building a bespoke retirement home on it, funding that with profits from writing, and from a mortgage on the current home, once that it was paid off – which it will be in another couple of years.

That ambition, I began to see during late 2017 was probably unrealistic. Much as I would like half an acre of Hill Country, or something on the fringe of one of the small towns, and enjoy the sun setting over the distant hills, and fields of wildflowers in spring, and the jolly comradery of a small community, and to be able to keep chickens without worrying about if the rooster is annoying the neighbors … I like the convenience of being five minutes from grocery stores, the mild ego-boost of being one of the home-owners longest-resident in the neighborhood, and internet without any hassle. I also have the sneaking feeling that upkeep of that tiny portion of suburban cottage-and-yard which I do own nearly free-and-clear is probably about all that I can reasonably manage in the future. Unlike Benjamin Button, I am not getting any younger.

While the income from sales of various books, especially the Luna City series is satisfactory, it is very far from JK Rowling ‘buy your own castle!’ territory. While I live in hope of one day making a fair pile – hope is not a strategy. Late last year, I evolved the 5-Year Plan to improve/renovate the present home and am happy to report that three of the elements have been done and dusted. The new roof was completed late in the spring – it turned out that the tornado that ripped through the upper part of the neighborhood had also damaged my own roof, which had been installed in 2003 and was well to the end of its’ scheduled lifespan. The company which first did the work, and which I called again for an estimate on replacing also does small construction/renovation, and they added the covered, hardware-screened Magnificent Catio. I am nearly done with paying the deductible on the roof and for the additional add-on. The other spring project involved renovation of the small bathroom – also done and dusted by Neighborhood Handy Guy, who is skilled at painting, tilework, carpentry, minor electrical, uncomplicated plumbing and general maintenance.
The third project done was renovating the front yard – this done mostly by my daughter and myself. We installed pavers on either side of the entry sidewalk, more pavers by the very front, put in a slightly raised bed, bought some marked-down plants at Lowe’s, put them into pots that we were given by a neighbor clearing out their garage, and had Neighborhood Handy Guy severely trim the trash tree/Arizona ash at the front. (Yes, the original owners of my house opted for the very cheapest trees, and oh, how I wish they had sprung for a burr oak, or something classier than the trash trees!) It makes now for a rather Mediterranean look, with segments of concrete pavers set in sand, and pots of various plants. It will all be lovely, when they are revived by spring, and hopefully, not killed by the next winter freeze or the summer heat.

So – on to the new year’s resolutions. The main home reno goal during 2019 is to get the master bath totally renovated and get a new garage door installed. The old one has been frozen in place for … a while. And the garage is full of stuff. Some of it is my daughters, some of it mine, and suspect that much of it is extraneous to need. We have been circling around the project of reviewing the contents – and I did a good bit of cleaning out late in 2017 when the old hot water heater gave up the ghost and flooded the near regions with an inch or two of warm water. So far, we’ve done two runs to Goodwill, filled the trash and the recycle bin, and put some chairs, two boxes of HVAC ducting (surplus from when we replaced some runs of duct ourselves) and a tall round laundry basket out on the curb. It took only ten minutes for someone driving past to take one of the chairs – I kind of hope the boxes of ducting will be gone by the weekend.

The 2019 ambition for the garage is to not only get the door replaced but clear out enough space that we can put at least one of the cars inside and use one corner as a workshop. The Daughter Unit wants to pick up making stained glass panels again – as she got all of Mom’s glass-cutting gear and certain of the supplies of class and lead caning. We’ll have all the space to do this … as soon as we clear out a bit more…
There’s going to be more stuff going to Goodwill – mostly clothes. Yes, cleaning out the closet and the dresser drawers meant moving it mostly to the garage, and that just won’t do, for several reasons any more. For one, I haven’t worked in an office for someone else in years, and so the wardrobe of business suits and blouses are seriously extraneous to needs. For another – both the Daughter Unit and I started going to the gym three times a week when she came home from California last spring. The Daughter Unit also started running last year when she was in California … nine or ten miles, three times a week. She started also being rigorous about sweets, bread, snacks and portion sizes at meals. We’ve both lost weight – to the tune of three or four sizes in jeans, which is a nice problem to have, but it means that bales of larger-size everyday jeans and casual tops are now also extraneous to needs. My additional mild ambition is to drop another couple of sizes in jeans, which would put me comfortably back in the size that I was wearing upon retirement from the USAF. This would also make my primary medical care provider very happy, since it might make it possible to dial back requirements for the high blood pressure meds.

So there we are for 2019: new bathroom, cleared-out garage, and a size 10/12 in jeans again. Piece of cake, eh?
Oh, and get a good way through writing the next historical, and at least two Luna City chronicles. Definitely a piece of cake.

Oh, Christmas Tree!


With completion of the Splendid Catio, we can have a fully-decorated Christmas tree once more. We haven’t done this in several years; the indoors cats cut a swath through the Christmas ornaments, and the tree itself, and what with the heavy market schedule and all … we haven’t done the Full Griswald in three or four years. Maybe for the outside, not for the inside. But we have three deep tubs of Christmas tree ornaments, and a tall artificial (but generally real-looking at a distance) pine tree out in the garage, and this year, my daughter insisted absolutely on having a decorated tree. In addition to the lighted garlands, tabletop displays, and assorted other seasonal doo-dads, she wanted the Christmas tree brought in and decorated to the full, at least with those ornaments which would not shatter irreparably when hitting the painted concrete floor from the height of at least eighteen inches or so.
Reader, I acquiesced – and so we brought in the tree, and assembled it, with lights and ornaments and all, although we could not find the nice brocade and tassel-and-beadwork ornamented Christmas tree skirt which I am certain that I purchased from Tuesday Morning some years ago. It’s probably still out in the garage somewhere. It may turn up eventually.
Going through the existing boxes of ornaments for the tree became a memory-venture along the maps to our family past. Not very far long it, only as far as me purchasing or contriving ornaments for my little barracks tree when I was stationed in Japan as a baby airman in the late 1970s. The Christmas ornaments that I knew as a kid were all burned in the fire that took Mom and Dad’s retirement house in 2003. Of those things, the one collection I most regret were the stockings that Granny Jessie knit for us as the first two of us kids appeared, with our names worked into the top, and a half-dozen lighted glass Santa Claus ornaments from the 1930s, still in their original box. But as I said – all those are gone, ashes swept away long since. I made an attempt to replace the stockings – but in felt, with our names worked into the top: I suppose that my sister has the lot now, since having to sell Mom and Dad’s house after Mom fell and fractured her spine and was no longer able to live without extensive nursing assistance.

The oldest ornaments I do have – they came from Great Aunt Nan; a pair of small yarn and fabric ladies. They came from Denmark, I dimly recall Nan saying. The one with the tiny bag is a newspaper vendor for the most popular daily; the initials BT must stand for Berlingske Tidende. After that – the oldest are a collection of tiny embroidered fabric animals from India. I probably bought them at the NCO Wives Christmas bazaar early on. The second-oldest I made myself; a wide selection of Styrofoam balls covered with fabric, lace, braid and other trims. Some look a bit battered now, having gone through almost four decades of Christmases and the same years of being hauled here and there in my hold baggage, and being stored in all kinds of odd closets and garage spaces. They have the advantage of being durable, cat-and fall-proof, though – which is why they still endure.
Kind of hard to say which are the next ornaments in order of seniority. In Greece in the early 1980s, I took up the habit of yearly purchasing a box or two of appealing ornaments from some high-end catalog outlet – which I can no longer recall the name of but are probably now out of business entirely. The small vintage airplanes and the papier-mâché globes are from that period. In Greece, I had a small star-pine in a pot which lived on the balcony of the apartment building I lived in. That little live tree served for a couple of Christmases; when we transferred to Spain, I left it to Kyria Penny, the Englishwoman who lived in the next-door apartment building. She and her husband, Kyrie George, used it for their holiday tree until it became too large to move in and out of doors. I don’t know what happened to it after that, although the little airplanes and the globes moved with us to Spain in our hold baggage. Passing through Rome, I bought half a dozen Anri angels.

For a good few years during that period in Spain, my job there favored me with a January TDY to Ramstein, Germany, for a broadcasting squadron confab. The post exchange there had a concession there offering a vast array of traditional wooden Christmas ornaments: I brought home a good collection of them for several years running, and they still adorn the tree, being nearly as indestructible as the home-made ornaments. The NCO Wives Club sponsored a shopping trip to Turkey during one of those years; that fall, they had a booth at a craft fair offering stuff from Turkey. That’s where I bought four tiny brass and glass lamps. Miniatures of the full-sized lamps from there which were popular souvenirs.

In 1991, we rotated back to the States, after twelve years of straight overseas assignments, and celebrated a white snowfall Christmas in Ogden, Utah. In the Hill AFB BX, I had the good luck to buy a starship Enterprise Christmas ornament. I understand they were insanely popular that year, and now are rather rare as these things go. I have two more Star Trek ornaments; the Voyager and the Galileo shuttle, which weren’t quite so rare, and consequently now are available for about the same as I originally paid for them. During another TDY — to New Mexico, this time — I visited Santa Fe and bought a folk-art carved winged leopard in a shop there. By this point, the accumulation of ornaments was sufficient to make a good showing on a full-sized tree. I didn’t have to purchase them by a dozen or so at a whack. We – my daughter was earning her own spending money with regular employment by then – turned to purchasing ornaments one or two at a time. The year that we were both working at a department store, my daughter bought the little Christmas angel-mouse carrying a dove. I bought a couple of ornaments at the Hallmark store around the corner from our neighborhood, when they were on sale after Christmas. Such is our thrifty habit now – we pick up whatever has taken our fancy after Christmas, when they are marked down for quick sale. The tree, after all, is now hung thick with ornaments, most of which have a vivid memory of time and place attached.

(For the rest of December, the first three volumes of the Luna City Chronicles are available on Kindle, for a mere pittance of .99 cents each! Put up your feet, and spend the holiday in the prettiest and most eccentric small town in Texas!)

13. December 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Critters, Domestic, Home Front

Whilst I was perusing this story about the possibilities of trauma being a heritable thing, on my home office computer, my daughter came in to see what I was up to, and to lavish some small affection on our own bit of inherited trauma – that is, Mom’s cat, Isabelle. Isabelle was the last of those purebred apple-head Siamese cats which had been Mom and Dad’s. When their house had to be sold upon Mom becoming an invalid, my sister took the dogs to live with her (along with Mom) and Blondie and I inherited her two cats, one of whom has since passed away from advanced age. But Isabelle … sigh. Mom can’t remember how old she is exactly, since she was one of a long series of pure-bred apple-headed Siamese cats – and this iteration turned out to be as nutty as squirrel poop. Also mind-blowingly timid, unaffectionate, hostile even, unhygienically given to pee and crap where she slept (or where I slept, which was even more disgusting), and negative to the existing cats. We speculated that either Isabelle had been dropped on her head too damned many times as a kitten or was just as inbred as heck.
Anyway, upon completion of the Glorious Catio last spring, Isabelle – with her disgusting toilet habits and bad temperament firmly established – was one of those who moved in full time. There she spent her days and nights, fed and sheltered, amused by the garden outside, receiving some affection whenever we went out to sit – carefully, of course – and all was right with our world. (And it was nice to be able to clean something and have it stay clean for longer than ten minutes.)
Late in October, we rescued a dog from the streets in our neighborhood; a lively pug-chihuahua mix, whom no one recognized or claimed. We started calling him Fang – one has to call animals something, of course – and schemed to rehome Fang with an animal-loving couple of our acquaintance, a couple whose previous small dog had crossed over that rainbow bridge, and looked to us to find them another one, since my daughter and I seemed to have a secret super-power of animal-attracting. Fang seemed agreeable to cats but was (and still is) a consummate escape artist, and speedier than chain-lightening with a link snapped. We were afraid to keep him in the house, where he might tangle with our two small dogs, outside in the yard – too many gaps in the fence where he might escape. The Catio, with hardware mesh walls, brick floor and latched door, was the perfect temporary place. The cats, after all, had their ranks of shelves and perches, far above a small dog, who would perforce be limited to floor-level.
All went well for a couple of days. Our friends agreed to take Fang when no one claimed him, and my daughter went to run some errands, and I settled down to work at the computer. Until the sudden horrific ruckus broke out – howling, snarling, wailing – coming from the Catio. I rushed out there to see two cats on the highest shelves, watching with interest, and Isabelle with one hind leg up to the knee caught through the slats of one of the chairs, and twisting around, yet had her front claws and jaws firmly latched onto Fang’s rump. All too obvious what had happened; Fang had surprised Isabelle, asleep on the chair, she got her leg caught, and retaliated as cats will, with tooth and claw.
Fang, of course, did not like this situation, and commented loudly. Isabelle didn’t seem terribly pleased, either. I grabbed her scruff, eased her leg out from the chair, she let go of Fang and seemed to levitate across the Catio and hang onto the screen door for a moment before falling back to the ground. Fang, whimpering slightly, seemed relatively unhurt save for his dignity. But Isabelle was limping, badly enough to make a visit to the vet obligatory. My daughter thought she might have broken one of the long bones in her leg. So – applied some antibiotic to Fang’s rump, stowed Isabelle in a carrier, and off to the vet. (By coincidence, the one that I had brought Fang to, earlier in the day to have him checked for a chip.)
No, it emerged that Isabelle had not broken her leg – to the astonishment of the veterinarian, she had contrived to blow out the knee tendons in attempting to get her leg out from between the chair slats. The best and least expensive surgical solution he could suggest was to install a long pin through the leg bones to hold the knee rigid, and let the tendons heal. This we agreed to; for a cat we weren’t all that fond of, that to all appearances hitherto wasn’t all that fond of us, either – but Isabelle was Mom’s cat, and we felt obligated to take care of her to the best of our abilities because of that. We warned the veterinary staff of her disobliging and usually hostile nature and left her overnight for the surgery the following day.
When we went to collect her the following afternoon, the vet-tech enthused to us over how good and cooperative she had been, how affectionate she had been, even when the anesthesia wore off. My daughter and I are looking at each other and going, “OK … what have you really done with Mom’s cat, and where did you find this identical Siamese?”
We had to keep her restrained in a crate inside the house for a good few weeks – a crate just large enough for a towel-and-piddle-pad covered pillow, with a dish of food and a water dispenser. She took her daily antibiotic graciously, seemed to briefly retain her old habit of peeing and crapping where she slept, and then … didn’t. The concept of the litterbox seemed to have dawned on her. The surgical wound on her thigh healed over (she’ll go back to the vet after the holidays to have the long pin removed), and she curled up quite amenably in on of the pet beds that we have star-scattered across the household. From there, she moved into claiming the dog-bed at the foot of my bed, from Nemo and Connor (who prefer sleeping on the bed itself,) and to being actually human-affectionate. She sits on laps when offered, purrs affectionately, ‘talks’ to us in ‘Siamese-cat-yowl’ when we pet her.
Really, it’s quite astonishing, the transformation. I can only think that there must be something positive said for trauma. At least in the case of Isabelle.

(Note to all – the first three Luna City books are marked down for 99 cents on Kindle for the month of December only. Yes, as the pusher promised; the first couple of hits are free!)

I was skimming through the various stories about the late President Bush the First this week, especially one about how he and Barbara were so considerate of and beloved by the Security Service agents who guarded them. It was kind of sweet, the account of a peckish agent going through the White House kitchen in the wee hours, looking for the cookies that he knew that the stewards of the kitchen had baked for the next day … and being joined by Bush the First, in ransacking the kitchen in search of the elusive cookies. That Bush the First and Barbara were loved and respected by the agents whose mission I can attest to at second hand. One of the Air Force security service NCOs I served with in Korea had just come off an assignment at the White House protection detachment. He adored Barbara, BTW – to hear him tell it, he was one of her favorite agents. She called him “Timmy”, which was kind of cute, as he was one of these six-foot-something guys and built like a concrete traffic bollard; probably Barbara was the only one aside from his mother who called him by that name.

The Bushes – the first and second – made a point of staying in Washington over Christmas Eve, so that their staff and security teams could spend Christmas with their families. Think on that – as I have. More than times I have to count, I spent holidays on duty – many of them having to listen to news and feature stories about how the day was a time to celebrate with family and loved ones, enjoying a lavish meal and relaxing; this when I was alone at midnight in a dark building, ripping teletype copy off the machine, re-shelving records in the library, and wondering if I would have time to eat a ham sandwich while I typed up spots for the reader book with one hand. That the Bushes held off on traveling out of town in order that their staffs could have a nice Christmas at home with their families, instead of jetting off for two or three weeks over the holidays, bag, baggage, staff and security to … someplace else; that was considerate, above and beyond.

I saw this as an acknowledgement that other people, especially those lower on the power totem pole – their private lives, their families and all, had purpose and value, to which decent folk in a position of power, ought to acknowledge. It was very old-school of the senior Bushes; and quite a contrast to the Obamas, who went swanning off to Hawaii for their Christmas holidays, and having a meet-n-greet for Marines and their families on Christmas morning. I suppose that the Marines and their families may have been flattered and thrilled to be so honored … but still. Christmas morning, having to be on hand hours before, the active duty troops likely having been up to all hours ensuring that everything was ship-shape. Spouses and small children taken from their family time and space on a holiday morning. My daughter still wonders how many of those appearing in the pictures taken of those various events were “volentold” : Their presence was required. For the photo-op. On Christmas morning.

I suppose that some of those present would have been OK, would have been there; because, President of the USA! Personal appearance, deigning to appear among the working stiffs, at the pointy end of the spear … but still. Christmas morning. Military – but can’t there be private time with the family carved out? So, I felt kind of sorry for the troops and their families, put on the spot during what should have been private, family, at-home time.

That led tangentially to another thought – about how certain politicians and activists, who make a big show about how much they care for humanity, or the downtrodden minorities, or women – or whomever – are in their personal sphere rude and abusive to their families, employees, or even just those casually encountered. Ted Kennedy, after all – was the darling of Establishment Feminists. In real life he was a drunken an abusive pig towards say, ordinary working-class women like waitresses. Yet someone like Mitt Romney – who likely hasn’t been impolite to a woman of any class in his entire adult life – had the same Feminists raining scorn and outright hatred down upon him. Even though these very same Establishment Feminists have been insisting for decades that the personal is political. How very fortunate that those who talk a good talk and garner credit for having the correct opinions and political stances in the abstract seem to be allowed all kinds of latitude in their real-life conduct … while those who are the epitome of grace and good manners in personal conduct are damned as racists and misogynist haters for not toeing the politically-correct line. Are we, at this late date, effectively calling out any of these hypocrites? Discuss as you will.

06. December 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry

It’s going on four years now that Blondie, AKA the Daughter Unit and I hit upon making a variety of gourmet fudge to give as gifts to the neighbors, all attractively packaged in individual papers and pretty containers, and to the various enterprises and public service bodies with whom we do regular business: the Frost Bank branch, the mailman, the express delivery services (if we can catch them), the CPS trash collectors (ditto), the Fire Department substation across the way, and the police substation on Jones Maltsburger, among others. (The FD and PD get perfectly huge platters, because – three shifts, and unless there is plenty of it, the shift on duty when we deliver it, usually around mid-day, will bogart the largest portion thereof. So – we purchase lots of bags of premium chocolate (white, bitter-sweet and milk) from Sams’ Club when it becomes available, a fair amount of evaporated milk, cream, butter, sugar and assorted nuts and dried fruit, and get to work in the kitchen sometime around when we are finished with market events for the year. This year, we had but the one in Goliad last weekend and two publishing clients to attend to – and began on this task this week.
There is always one batch which goes disastrously wrong, for one reason or another, and cannot be salvaged – this year, the batch was the peanut butter fudge. Nothing to be done but throw it out, although some previous disasters have been salvaged and put to other use. The second attempt came out satisfactorily; this particular fudge tastes exactly like the filling in Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups. This year, Blondie had the notion of adding a layer of milk chocolate swirled through it, so as she was beating in the last addition (of marshmallow fluff) I was melting some milk-chocolate morsels with a bit of cream and powdered sugar, to be dribbled over the finished product spread in a 9×13 pan and swirled through – and yes, the result does taste exactly like the commercial peanut-butter/chocolate fudges that we have tasted. Today – the Bavarian mint fudge, which is the trickiest to do, as one false move and with too many minutes over the double-broiler is apt to turn into grainy chocolate sludge with a layer of grease, all flavored like mint toothpaste, and another particular version, stuffed full of toasted walnuts and pecans, and dribbled with white chocolate threads by way of garnishment. Tomorrow another couple of batches – and then, when we are all done, another batch made from whatever ingredients we have left over in quantity – Blondie has found a plain recipe for butter fudge.
The slabs of cooled fudge accumulate in the refrigerator – by this weekend we can begin to slice and assemble the holiday bounty. By family custom, we stack each piece in a little candy paper, in a nice tin or box. We spend a morning with hygienic blue gloves on our hands, putting the tins/boxes all together – and then the afternoon delivering it. The list of recipients is on the refrigerator … having grown to about forty or fifty. Of course, the first year that we did this, we made a lot, and were reduced to chasing down neighbors – “Merry Christmas, we’ve spoken to you maybe twice, so here’s a box of fudge!”
By the second year, around in November, our closer neighbors were saying, with the begging puppy-dog eyes, “Hey – are y’all doing that fudge this year? That was good … are y’all doing it again?”
We are. So if you are a neighbor – look to it this weekend sometime. Merry Christmas!

You just know, as surely as the sun rises in the east, that when Thanksgiving Day rolls around (and Columbus Day as well) the usual malignant scolds will be hard at work, planting turds in the harvest-festival punchbowl. They have become pinch-faced, joyless neo-Puritans, ruthlessly seeking out any hint of happy celebration and thankfulness for bounty of harvest and generous fortune, jumping on any display of human fellow-feeling – even just having a pleasant time doing things that make the heart glad – insisting that such occasions and people are to be condemned as earnestly as Savonarola ever did, piling up works of art to be burnt in the public square. As HL Menken observed, it’s the haunting fear of such people, that “someone, somewhere, may be happy.” It is their grim, chosen, killjoy duty to stamp out such emotions and celebrations, wherever they may be found. So sayeth the current crop of student activists, as reported here: Thanksgiving is “a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures across the globe.”

Which is a breathlessly sweeping condemnation. Let’s just pound it in relentlessly, with trip-hammer insistence: we actual or spiritual descendants of Pilgrims are “Bad, Bad People, Who Stole Everything From the Indians, and Celebrating Thanksgiving is As Bad as the Holocaust, Almost!” The 20th century practice of allowing elementary school children to dress up as Indians or Pilgrims these days, reenacting a peaceful feast and celebration of a bountiful harvest together seems in the eyes of the censorious to be about on par with dressing up as SS officers and concentration camp inmates. Never mind that dumping on the poor Pilgrims for three hundred years and a bit of warfare with various Indian rather misses the point of – you know, celebrating a bountiful harvest – as well as grandly oversimplifying history. Never mind the fact that Indians in North America warred on each other with keen enjoyment and no little inventive brutality for centuries. Never mind that according to some accounts, the Wampanoag village and fields adjacent to the Plymouth colony was abandoned, as an epidemic of some kind had depopulated the place two or three years previously. And never mind …

Oh, never mind. Isn’t it more nuanced – or is nuance out of style among the ill-educated inhabitants of the educational-industrial complex – to consider that on that long ago Thanksgiving, two very different peoples, whose descendants would be at each other’s throats for three hundred years, were yet able to join together for a great feast, to be courteous and friendly with each other, for at least a little while? Can we not settle at table with friends and relations, and simply enjoy a good meal, and appreciate those blessings which we have received, deserved or no? At the very least, can we just smile gently at the censorious scolds and ask them to pass the cranberry relish?
Have a happy Thanksgiving Day. Tell the scolds to get bent. Be happy and have another slice of pumpkin pie – that will annoy them more than anything.

We’ve known for at least a decade or so that the so-called “ruling class” here in the US (and possibly in formerly great Britain and Western Europe as well, look down snobbishly on the middle and working class, the regular joes, the residents of flyover country. Those who roost in the higher levels in academia, the media, in the entertainment and intellectual world, in the national bureaucracy, those who are part of the upper caste – have made their contempt for the ordinary citizen pretty darned obvious by their words and actions, to the point where it’s no secret to most of us who have been paying attention. That this contempt is returned is not immediately obvious; after all, the media (with a few honorable exceptions) has little interest in the opinions of the ruled class, or in reporting them with any degree of understanding or sympathy. Still, we in the ruled class have made our displeasure known in small ways – eschewing shopping at Target, watching NFL games, dropping ESPN, and skipping over award shows like the Oscars – which likely the ruling class feels as mere irritating pin-pricks. (They are TWANLOC, in Subotai Bahadur’s elegant phrase.) And if they are being seriously inconvenienced by recalcitrance on the part of the ruled class – we won’t know for certain, for a good while. Possibly in the history books, if we in the ruled class get a chance to write them. More »

11. November 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: History

There is a lovely little classical piece by Maurice Ravel – Le Tombeau d Couperin, composed shortly after the end of the war, five of the six movements dedicated to the memory of an individual, and one for a pair of brothers, all close friends of the composer, every one of them fallen in a war of such ghastliness that it not only put paid to a century of optimistic progress, but barely twenty years later it birthed another and hardly less ghastly war. Maurice Ravel himself was overage, under-tall and not in the most robust of health, but such was the sense of national emergency that he volunteered for the military anyway, eventually serving as driver – frequently under fire and in danger. Not the usual place to find one of France’s contemporarily-famous composers, but they did things differently at the end of the 19th century and heading all wide-eyed and optimistic into the 20th. Citizens of the intellectual and artistic ilk were not ashamed of their country, or feel obliged to apologize for a patriotic attachment, or make a show of sullen ingratitude for having been favored by the public in displaying their talents.
More »

I’ll confess to always having had a bit of cynicism about the professional national media orgs; this dating from my several turns in military public affairs and being one of those in-house media entertainment/news providers for the military broadcasting system. From the latter experience, I learned just how the sausage-news is created, expeditiously and on-schedule for the daily-dish-up. The former served up endless stories of media personalities acting badly from peers who had been there when they happened; checkbook offers for tips, tantrums on the flight-line as the media flight was about to depart, disgustingly snobbish behavior towards military media-relations staff … yep, darned few modern-day embedded reporters earned anything like the affection and respect earned by Ernie Pyle during WWII. Those who flew in to cover Gulf War I did not manage to conceal a tone of gratification and happy surprise in their coverage upon observing that the troops in that war were neat, polite, professional; the very farthest from the bunch of murderous, drug-addled psychotics which the aftermath of the Vietnam War had obviously led them to expect. And yes, we all noticed this at the time.
(Pro tip when it comes to producing local news? The calendar is your friend. A good half of your stories are ruled by the predictable. A significant or insignificant holiday – a story or two or three predicated on that holiday. The bigger the holiday, the more stories which can be milked out of it. Significant local event – a scheduled road closure, or a grand opening? Oh, yeah – another couple of stories to fill the required minutes in the regular broadcast. Even something semi-scheduled, like a rain/hurricane season? At least a story or two about preparations… And so it goes.)
Back to my main point – mainstream national news media: I presume that someone still watches CNN.

Although the last time I went down to the troop clinic at Fort Sam and to the new Wilford Hall establishment, the station on the TV screens in waiting areas seemed to be tuned to the Home and Garden channel. The predilection of CNN personalities for madly, deeply, irrationally anti-Trump materiel is a wonder to behold. If this report in the Spectator is anything to go by, CNN is paying the same price that the Dixie Chicks did, when making their appeal more selective. And so it may be going with other establishment news outlets, the alphabet news networks, which once bestrode the earth like giants in their day. The death spiral of weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek is well-established. Other people – interested bloggers seem to be doing the heavy lifting these days, as well as outlier publications like this one, with an examination of the steamy romance novels written by a candidate for the office of Georgia governor. (Well, it’s an honest living, scribbling for a living, and a nice change from being a lawyer, I guess). As for newspapers; my local newspaper (which subscription I finally cancelled altogether after a particularly offensive editorial cartoon a decade ago) is now shrunken almost to the size of the old Stars and Stripes military newspaper – which was the size of a small-circulation tabloid when I knew it best, and usually featured reiterated AP/UPI content anyway, leavened with a few stories of specific military interest generated by their own staff.

Are the national broadcast networks and the internet spawn they do possess now in the same death spiral, having gone all out for material which they apparently see as damaging to Trump? I know that there still are people who believe what they see on the evening news, and disdain as irrelevant anything that the major national news outlets prefer to ignore. For myself – if it’s in screaming headlines, I’ll assume that they are at least 75% wrong. Discuss, as you will, and with examples.

(PS – speaking of scribbling for a living, the seventh Luna City Chronicle – Luna City Lucky Seven is now available on Kindle! The print version just now appeared, too! I can truthfully promise that there is nothing like the explicit sexual content in Stacey Abrams’ oeuvre … but then, I am not running for political office.)

So – Luna City Lucky Seven is finished, changes suggested by the Beta readers have been incorporated – and the latest installment of the Luna City Chronicles is ready to roll, pending arrival of the final cover. Which should happen over the weekend, or perhaps early next week. While I wait on that happy event, I’ve been scribbling away on the first couple of chapters of the Civil War novel, and mentally mapping out a few plot points. This novel, tentatively entitled That Fateful Lightening, follows Minnie Templeton Vining, a Boston lady of certain years. She is a die-hard Abolitionist in the years before the war, and a volunteer nurse during it, as outlined in Sunset and Steel Rails, in which she was a secondary or even tertiary character.

This new project requires me to really begin reading up on contemporary accounts and memoirs – of which there exists a large number. Many of the lady volunteers who took up this heartbreaking task of nursing soldiers under desperately primitive conditions wrote about it all afterwards; after all, the Civil war was the pivotal event of 19th century America. For better or worse, the issue of free-or-slave roiled politics and intellectual life for twenty years before, and the aftermath of the fighting left scars which, as of a century and a half later, are still vivid and raw. Thanks to having been a devoted reader of American Heritage as a tween and teen, thanks to Mom’s life-long subscription, I have always known this in outline, and in small tableaus – but not in such depth and detail that I could write convincingly and authoritatively about it from the point of view of a woman completely immersed, day to day, in both these issues.

So – another long, deep immersion in memoirs and letter collections – facilitated by the fact that most of the women who penned accounts of their heroic labors in field hospitals, in organizing fairs and markets to fund the purchase of medical supplies and comforts, and the rounds of public speaking and article-scribbling – are mostly obscure these days; their memoirs, letters and diaries are mostly in the public domain and free. Which is another nice benefit, since I am not anywhere near the income level of those authors who can command huge advances from a publisher, a guest shot on the Today Show, or The View, or a carefully-engineered position on the New York Times best-seller list.

Me at a recent Halloween market, as Queen Victoria

The other nice benefit reading this kind of material is that one is able to absorb the vocabulary, those thought-patterns and attitudes of the time. To me, there is no bigger crime in the historical-novel-scribbling set than that of ‘presentism’ – that is, basically dressing up modern characters in period clothing and having them walk through a 21st century plot. The past is a foreign country – they do things differently there. One might as well start with reading the authentic words of the residents. Histories are a useful adjunct to all this, but the problem with that is that the professionals all have their own biases and perceptions – and since so many of the female Civil War memoirists were concurrently, or later involved in various feminist crusades … I do not want to be put through the necessity of fighting my way through a bramble of biases. The original biases of the ladies involved is quite sufficient, thank you. The third nice benefit is that I can count on running across events, characters, small exchanges which will inspire plot twists and secondary characters for That Fateful Lightening. This turns up interesting things as a result. Well, interesting things to me, hunting scavenger-like for interesting bits of fact, turns of phrase, coincidences, and personalities – I swear, most of the plot turns in the Adelsverein Trilogy came about because I ran into something in the research reading and thought, “Ohhh! This has to be in The Book!”

The first such volume I have begun reading is a collection of letters, letters from and to a once-notable Quaker activist named Abigail Hopper Gibbons; who campaigned for various worthy charities benefiting women and orphaned children, the elderly, abolition of slavery, the Sanitary Comission (which provided medical care for soldiers during the war) the welfare of veterans and woman’s rights. She was happily married, it appears, and raised six children with her husband. Alas, one died as an infant, another at the age of five years old, and a third while in college after an accidental fall. She was a good friend of Lucretia Mott, who was also a very good friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton – all these people tended to know each other, I gather – or at the very least, knew of each other. These ladies and a dozen others of whom I have collected up their memoirs would appear to have been very far from being meek, submissive, conventional image of a Victorian lady, sitting passively in her parlor embroidering and murmuring, “Yes, dear,” while her husband pontificated.

In fact, these ladies, in their corsets and bonnets, and skirts to the toes of their high-buttoned boots, threw themselves into battle-field nursing, operating field kitchens, fund-raising to purchase supplies, and personally overseeing the delivery of those supplies to hospitals. They were real fire-crackers, these ladies – and it’s going to be an adventure, exploring their world and their words.

 

19. October 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, Politics

I’m willing to bet a double-batch of our famous-quality gourmet Christmas gift fudge (which my daughter and I make only at Christmas to give to neighbors and friends) that Donald Trump’s secret superpower is the ability to make his enemies run mad and implode, all on their own. What other explanation is there for Elizabeth Warren’s triumphant announcement – that an analysis of her DNA proved that she was really part Native American, or what used to be called Indian – that is, part Cherokee as she has claimed for years! Take that, Trump-monster! seemed to be her attitude, as she flung the winning hand of cards on the table … and then the announcement crashed in flames, once everyone got a good look at the minuscule proportion of so-called Native American DNA involved … and hearty horselaughs resounded in the halls. So, one of her ancestors, six to ten generations in the past might have been from the North or South American aboriginal community. One teensy, teeny single drop … but apparently sufficient to be hired and described by a couple of her previous employers as a woman of color. White and blond of color and wouldn’t have been out of place on a Hitler Youth recruiting poster in her younger days. Kind of makes one wonder about the validity of the concept of “white privilege” – when all the trendy political figures are trying to trade on an identity as an ethnic minority. Is Senator Warren’s political career well and truly sunk? Probably not in Massachusetts; after all, they kept reelecting Teddy Kennedy for decades. But on the national level? Always possible, I’d concede, but having become a laughingstock all across the political spectrum would be a challenge to come back from.

Speaking of trading on an assumed ethnic identity other than “white” – I see eight to ten yard signs for Beto (AKA “Blotto”) O’Rourke in my neighborhood, as opposed to one or two for Ted Cruz, but I don’t think this means anything like a blue wave sweeping Blotto into office; it means mostly that those of a conservative ilk are increasingly wary of advertising any political affiliation on our lawns, vehicles or persons. Any number of recent news stories about the vandalization of property, cars, or attacks on people wearing MAGA hats or tee-shirts can be cited as reason for being damned discrete about one’s political inclinations and intentions. My two cents: Blotto is a handsome showboat, beloved of the bi-coastal Dems and the national media, the successor to Wendy Davis as the object of a mad, passionate lefty political crush, but Texas voters look at him with a mite more skepticism. Well, we’ll know for sure in three weeks and a bit.

Finally, I suppose Rosanne Barr is this weeks’ undisputed front runner in the “Celebrities Behaving Badly” sweepstakes … say, what on earth have mainstream female comics drinking over the past decade which rendered them so profoundly un-funny and hateful? Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell … they all used to be at least mildly amusing. Ladies, being a bitter, shrieking, hate-filled harpy is not the least amusing … you have to admit that Rosanne Barr might have reason this week to feel at least a little bitter. Fired from the TV series which she helmed as the title character for a single tweet … and then having her character written out of the show in a way that pretty much lines out any return, and to add insult to injury, via opiate overdose? Could have been nastier, I guess: the show runners could have had her croaking in the middle of a turn in a Tijuana sex show involving a donkey, but still.

As for Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign saddling up and riding a political ad on the backs of woman who were or weren’t survivors of domestic abuse – damn, it’s like they think women in general are the property of the Dems, to be used as the ruling class judges suitable. Discuss, if y’all have the stomach for it.

So now Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to the Supreme Court, duly sworn in – after weeks of sturm, drang and drama such as a reasonable person can hardly credit, of unproven accusations of every kind of sexual misconduct on the part of Justice Kavanaugh by hysterical and/or malicious people. Seriously, have the Move On, MeToo, Pussy-Hat crowd gone so far off the rails as to believe that the presumption of innocence standard must be utterly disregarded, and the commandment against bearing false witness be revoked entirely? Apparently – and never mind that this single-minded attitude towards accusation and punishment leads straight back to the era of strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree, blood on the leaves and blood at the root. Only not black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, but the actual or metaphorical bodies of husbands, friends, sons and brothers. Requiring proof of an accusation against any male appears to be an utterly outré notion to the vicious brigade of professional 21st century feminists – and the fact that ordinary women of every color and inclination are not merrily following the tumbrils as our uteri are supposed to direct us, appears to be cause for volcanic outrage among the vicious brigade.
Well, life is full of these little tragedies, kids. Better luck next time. Go louder, more obnoxious, and double down on the personal threats – that will so convince us and win overwhelming support to your side! More »

07. October 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: General

Oh, wow – is the first week of October already done? Guess it is; the pension got paid, and all the bills are lined up like dominoes. The biggest one is for the roof replacement, and the Magnificent Catio, which will not be completely paid for until after the end of the year. Still, I don’t regret the expense. The roof was about three or four years past it’s ‘best if used by’ date, and the Magnificent Catio, now houses full-time those cats taken on by my daughter whose careless toilet habits render them unsuitable for indoor residence. Seriously, they are the feline equivalent of guys who cannot hit the urinal, prompting the lament, “Couldn’t you just stand in it and aim out?” The Catio makes it easier to keep the house clean and ready for visitors at a moment’s notice, and at some day in the next decade, given the fact that the oldest offender must be almost twenty years old already (he’s one of the cats we inherited from Mom), we will have a very pleasant covered screened-porch patio, although we might have to have it pressure-washed hard enough to take a layer off the concrete brick flooring materiel.

The oldest of the dogs, Connor the Malti-Poo is now twenty or even more (he was an older dog when we found him, dumped in the next neighborhood over, and that was some years ago), and beginning to fail, so that is another sorrow to face, in the very near future. I have already determined that I will not coax out another few months of existence for him through heroic medical measures. He is already half-blind, mostly deaf, sprinkled with excessive moles, getting senile and with a slightly diminished appetite for food or walkies … Sometime in the next few months, I think, while he still has a little joy in his doggie life, rather than torment him with endless and futile trips to the vet. I wish that I have – as Dad did – those means of doing it relatively painlessly at home, but Connor has always been a very social little dog, and he will likely take considerable enjoyment out of that last trip to the vet, and we will stay with him to the very last. But enough of that.

Luna City Lucky Seven is done – out to the volunteer alpha-readers. And I had an impulse, once I was done with my work for the Teeny Publishing Bidness today, to scribble a bit on one of the proposed next books, the one set in the lead up to and in the Civil War … but here it is, almost time to start fixing supper. The Teeny Publishing Bidness client is coming tomorrow, to collect the most recent installment of his manuscript, now with even more pictures which he judges worthy of inclusion, and the first version of the cover design, which was the Daughter Unit’s artistic inspiration. The Daughter Unit has also taken on – with insane thoroughness – a paid research job for a mutual friend who has real estate property interests in what amounts to an underdeveloped portion of the city. The Daughter Unit describes this as administering a community-based colonoscopy – sorting out the things that would work, and what real estate development would best work, plus a myriad other interesting stats, like the registered sex offenders per square mile. This actually involves going and talking to people in the targeted neighborhood and drafting a prospectus for potential investors. This is a job that came out of the blue – and the Daughter Unit is making the most of it. So far, the client is pleased. It’s a short-term assignment, but we hope that it will lead to other assignments of this kind, for this client and others.

For myself, I am now onto the second chapter of the Civil War novel – with a fortyish heroine who becomes an abolitionist lecturer before the war and a nurse during it. (Great-Aunt Minnie Vining, who appears briefly in Sunset and Steel Rails.) Overall plot is still a little unfocused, but I am starting to be drawn into the world of mid-19th century feminist activism, possibly as a strong reaction to the current version. There were so many strong, passionate, nonconformist women involved in the abolition movement – and other social movements – who did not seem to be the least constrained by Victorian conventionalities; Julia Ward Howe and Clara Barton were not singular curiosities. They had plenty of company.

I am done with officially-sanctioned, automatically-expected-full-throated solidarity with other women no matter what the issue or complaint. I am done with the whole reproductive-health-motte-and-bailey-abortion-sacrament. I am more than done with women who think that the crusade for political, legal, and educational equality is merely an excuse to be viciously-manipulative bitches to those men unfortunate enough to be involved with them personally. I am also so done with women who are of an inter-connected social class sufficiently well-to-do to have had damn-near everything handed to them on a silver platter, complaining at an ear-splitting level about being downtrodden and oppressed; this when women in the Middle East must wear burkas out in public, have to be escorted when out in public by a male relative … and oh, yes – sold as sex slaves in Daesh/ISIL markets, or routinely have their clitorises excised. I am also done, by the way, with female protesters done up in cheap red-cloak and white bonnet costumes drawn from a bad dystrophic novel by a Canadian who knows f**k-all about the American Protestant tradition. (I’d respect Margaret Atwood ever so much more if she had done her Handmaids’ Tale schtick in an Islamic setting, but I guess she isn’t all that brave about having a fatwah declared on her. Pity.) I am extra-so-done with Hollywood personalities screaming about the century-old existence of the casting couch, when I am certain that for most of them, the experience thereof was a carefully-considered quid-pro-quo career move – and they had their benefit delivered from the bargain. I am also done with Triggly-puffesque screamers having spectacular conniption fits at any suggestion that men and women have different yet complementary strengths, talents and values. Finally, I am done with certain so-called feminist mean girls of the academic ilk patrolling the thinking of others with all the sadistic enthusiasm of concentration camp guards pouncing on the slightest gesture of defiance from prisoners. Consider this my final kiss-off to current establishment feminism; nice to have known ya and believe me when I say that a female-ruled society would pure bloody hell, if it ever was or would be enabled. It would be somewhat akin to the hell of last week’s hearing for a new Supreme Court nominee – which for me was the very last straw.

I have come to this breaking point after six decades and a little more on this dirtball, urged along by experience and observations made of the world around me, plus a lot of reading of history and other materials. Let there be absolutely no shred of a doubt about this – I like men. Have always liked men; as kin, co-workers, bosses, friends and lovers. Men are strong, considerate, they know how to fix things, many have tool-boxes and all of them have dicks, generally they can wield both with some skill, and they are the other half of the universal sky, the other half of our human race. Admittedly, some of them are a bit crude, a very few are beyond all help. For some, it takes a couple of years past their teenage years to be at their best – but I also know of the male of our species at their best and most noble, and they are glorious to behold. Strong, yet gentle, gallant enough to bring tears to your eyes, courteous, even chivalrous in the old Victorian sense, but still generally accepting and supportive of female input and choices … unless they have been unlucky to victimized by one of those mean-girl drama-queens and in consequence are justifiably bitter. Feminism wasn’t supposed to be all-misandry, all the time. It was supposed to be, I thought – and I was not alone in this – about having a vote, and having the opportunity to make the same choices that men did; to get the same kind of education and have the chance to work at the same jobs, and if you and your significant-other want to split the housework in some non-traditional way, then that was a private matter and none of anyone elses’ business. Not only is the personal not political, it’s mostly a dead bore, even in pretty pictures on Instagram.
As I said before – I like men. I have brothers, friends, have had clients, co-workers, bosses who are men, of whom I think the world, and who honor me in turn with their respect and friendship. That any of them could have been treated as Judge Kavanaugh was over this past week – a full load of calumny, false witness, and pure shrieking harpy vindictiveness – would have sent me into – well, not murderous berserker rage (I don’t do berserker, for one) – but into cold and calculated fury. I’m in the cold and vengeful fury mode anyway, having followed the whole disgusting charade all last week. Here is a perfectly decent man, from all appearances (from my experience a guy who has been a chivalrous and responsible Boy Scout all his adult life, who has treated his female friends, peers, and employees with consideration for decades, and likely all that even as a clumsy teenager) smeared as a rapist in the national news and entertainment media. And even worse, courtesy of USA Today – accused as a potential pedophile, in a perfectly vile editorial which upon mature consideration, the editors walked back … but not until the disgusting accusation had been out there for hours. OK, thanks, USA Today and other mainstream national outlets; your propensity for going all Salem Witch Trials has been noted. Y’all turned so gradually into Der Stürmer that I barely noticed until now.

Strong, independent and able women of the previous century, and the century before that would barely recognize the world which sprouted like ugly weeds in their simple demands for a vote and respectful consideration of their skills and capabilities. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lizzie Johnson Williamson, Madame C.J. Walker, Clara Barton. Nancy Wake, Margaret Bourke White … I can now imagine these able, confident, successful women revolving in their graves like Black & Decker Drills at how the cause of “feminism” has been degraded. They lived their lives, every one of them, as women of talent, ambition, and skill in their chosen professions, and I do not think that the affection and support of men in their lives and careers was in abeyance, for they all did great things, in what is now supposed to have been a man’s world. And they did it without tearing down men or bringing false witness against them.

The Kavanaugh-Ford-Feinstein kerfuffle appears to be this weeks’ progressive-tantrum du-jour, just as the Kavanaugh hearing was of last week, and John McClain’s funeral and epic post-mortem diss of his former running mate was that of the week before. The whole thing – a hazily recalled teenage memory of a clumsy grope at a booze-fueled suburban bacchanal – reminds me nothing so much as Great Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm and her incessant insistence on having “seen something nasty in the woodshed” which sight so traumatized her that she was able to ride roughshod over the rest of the clan at Cold Comfort for decades. What the ‘something nasty in the woodshed’ was is never actually described in the story – but Great Aunt Ada wields her hysterical claim of having suffered from it with the expertise of a master in conducting guided guilt trips through most of the book, until she is talked down from her room by the clever heroine.

I can only assume that Christine Ford somehow hoped that lobbing such a vague, unsubstantiated accusation in the direction of Brett Kavanaugh would have had the same paralyzing effect as Ada Doom having seen ‘something nasty in the woodshed’ decades previously. I assume that since she went as far as sanitizing her social media, she anticipated some personal scrutiny, yet hoped to avoid the uncomfortable questions asked by those interested in actually discovering the truth, if any, in her accusation. Not being able to pin down a firm date, an exact place, and having those people specifically named as having been involved at Dr. Ford’s unpleasant teenage experience deny categorically ever having been present, and that none of her one-time friends and contemporaries can say that she confided in them at the time, ought to strike a fair-minded observer as cause for doubting that Christine Ford ever encountered Brett Kavanaugh, drunk or sober, at anyone’s house. He seems to have been a man of restraint and probity when it comes to social and professional relations with women. Personal experience with the male of our species suggests to me that a total Boy Scout/Little Lord Fauntleroy as an adult has usually been that since before his testicles dropped, and during all the years between.

Frankly, I am too old to credit vague, unsubstantiated accusations like this. Christine Ford may have been quite the at-large juvenile party animal as a teenager, so I would accept the possibility of an unfortunate, drunken sexual experience being part of her past, as well as a good reason to seek relationship counseling as an adult. Yet I also remember the ‘recovered memory’ phenomenon, the day-care Satanic abuse bruhaha, as well as the more recent Duke stripper rape and the U of V fraternity/Rolling Stone fantasy rape-that-never-was. Yes, there are fads and follies when it comes to mental health and investigating sexual violence, or the possibility thereof. Yes, women are capable of lying, every bit as much as men, and of being vengeful, backbiting witches, completely capable of displacing blame for their own personal dysfunction on any handy target. Christine Ford’s target of blame for her personal woes seems to have landed on a male target of choice, because of his prominence in the news cycle. Would it be too much to ask of women such as herself and her allies in Capital F-feminism that they work out their traumas in privacy, and refrain from inflicting them on the rest of us? Seriously, I would like that. It’s gotten to the point where sensible women are fleeing any association with strident Capital F feminism, and some men are wondering sourly if it was really a good idea to give us a vote at all.
Discuss, as you will.

The indy-author scene is not the only thing which has radically changed over the last decade; just the one that I know the best, though having the great good fortune to start as an indy author just when it was economically and technologically possible. It used to be that there were two means of being a published author. There was the traditional and most-respected way, through submission to a publishing house – which, if you were fortunate enough to catch the eye and favor of an editor, meant a contract and an advance, maybe a spot on the much-vaunted New York Times best-seller list. This was a method which – according to the old-timers – worked fairly well, up until a certain point. Some writers who have been around in the game for a long time say that when publishing houses began viewing books as commodities like cereal brands and ‘pushing’ certain brands with favored places on the aisles and endcaps, and treating authors as interchangeable widgets – that’s when the traditional model began to falter. Other experts say that it began when tax law changed to make it expensive to retain inventory in a warehouse. It was no longer profitable to maintain a goodly stock of mid-list authors with regular, if modest sales. Mainstream publishing shifted to pretty much the mindset of Hollywood movie producers, putting all their bets on a straight diet of blockbusters and nothing but blockbusters.

The other means of getting a book out there was what used to be called the “vanity press”, wherein someone with more literary ambition and money than sense and patience paid for a print run of their book, and usually wound up with a garage full of copies. Strictly speaking, this was not such a bad way to get a book in circulation, especially if it was an obscure topic, such as local history or an impatient, new author. Quite a few of the 19th century greats actually kick-started their writing careers by paying for a print run of their own works. My own Tiny Publishing Bidness was launched nearly forty years ago, and some of the local histories which we published, of interest to researchers in the field since they were mostly based on original research go for quite astounding sums on the rare book market.

Three elements have it possible to route around mainstream establishment publishing over the past decade and for independent authors to make a modest living from writing, or at least have a regular income stream. The first was the shift to digital printing from traditional lithographic press; once those big industrial presses begin rolling, there’s a thousand, ten thousand copies of a book printed in a matter of hours, and at a minimal per-item cost, but at a substantial overall expense for whoever was paying for the print run. Digital printing offered an alternative; a slightly higher per-unit cost but producing only as few copies as were required at a time. Almost at once, industrial printers began offering the digital option. New boutique publishers made their services available, for relatively modest sums: format the text to print specs, generate a nice cover, print only as many copies as required, and make the book available to distributors … like Amazon. Amazon’s development of an e-book reader, the Kindle (followed by other reader systems like Barnes & Noble’s Nook) was the third development which upended the traditional publishing industry, eliminating printing, storage and distribution costs in one go. (Although not editing, formatting and marketing expenses.) It doesn’t help that mainstream publishing, or what I’ve been calling “the literary-industrial complex” has been concentrating itself into fewer and larger houses, just about all of them international when they aren’t based in New York and throwing their energies into mass-marketing a diminishing stable of established authors, and through retail channels such as Barnes & Noble.

Curiously, this all has had the effect of leaving the field wide-open for independents like me, to small regional and specialist publishers – like the authors I spend three days with last week at the Word Wrangler Book Festival in Giddings, Texas. The book festival was started thirteen years ago, to benefit the public library in that town. Book submissions are juried by the committee – and the requirement is that the books have a Texas setting or interest. That’s pretty much it – although if they might be of interest to junior readers, that’s a bonus, as the Festival is the focus of school field trips on one of those days. Picture books, self-help, travel, gothic, romance, mystery, thriller, historical fiction – our books ran the whole gamut of interests. Just about every book on display was a quality production, the equal or better of anything produced by the publishing establishment. Indy authors have now been at it long enough to have developed considerable professional skills, either on their own or through networking with freelance talent, and professional organizations like the Texas Association of Authors. This is a paradigm shift that the mainstream publishing establishment wish would go away, if they even admit the existence of it, beyond some snotty remarks about the bad self-published stuff. (Of which there is quite a lot, admittedly. There is also an equal quantity of awful books published through the mainstream, although the copy-editing tends to be a little better.)

The towers of the Literary Industrial Complex are still standing, however cracked the foundations might be. One of the other writers at Word Wrangler has a lovely series of educational picture books. A couple of years ago, she explored the possibilities of the Texas-local HEB grocery chain stocking them, and regretfully decided against it. Accustomed to the good old ways of doing business with established big publishing, retail corporations like HEB have requirements for quantities, returnability, and pricing that simply can’t be met by indy authors and tiny regional publishers. Alan Bourgeois, who founded the Association, has been working with HEB and other companies to adjust their requirements. He has met with some success in this, although a recent meeting with the CEO of Barnes & Noble proved disappointing. The last big box book store chain still standing is still wedded to their old model, of preferring a policy of top-down management, rather than allowing local store managers latitude when it comes to hosting book events with local indy writers and prominently stocking indy-published books. The late lamented Borders and Hastings were much more receptive and responsive, generally. As a footnote and perhaps a harbinger of things to come; a French author, whose latest book was rejected by publishers, apparently because of the subject matter – went to publish it through Amazon … and that book subsequently won a national literary prize. But the French bookstores won’t stock it, because – Amazon has cooties, or something. When establishment publishers and bookstores reject authors whose books are embraced by readers, this does not portend well for doing business in the same old way. In any case, I believe there is not a better time than now for readers and for independent authors.

When it first became politically trendy to back passage of ‘hate-crime’ legislation, I privately thought it a bad idea, while understanding completely why it was an appealing notion, especially for political and social entities which presumed to act on behalf of those threatened by weaponized hate. The fear in such communities was real, every bit as real as the threats, the vandalism, the lynch mobs, and disenfranchisement. It would take a politician with balls of brass to stand up before a group who justifiably were frightened by all that, and discount those fears. It was the easy way out for politicians, the media and social organizations to portray hate crime legislation as a good and discount those doubts held by those of us with inclinations toward the philosophical. A crime was a crime: there were already laws on the books dealing with vandalism, murder, arson and so on. A motivation for committing a crime ought to be of interest only in establishing the guilt of the perpetrator, not for piling on additional penalties. We do not have windows to peer accurately into the souls of others. Essentially, classifying a crime as a ‘hate crime’ was punishing the thought, over and above the actual crime itself. I didn’t think it was a good idea then, and still don’t think so – especially given the overwhelming numbers of so-called “hate crimes” which turn out to be either deliberate hoaxes, or the deeply imaginative letting their imaginations run away from them.

I feel the same way about hate crime’s dubious cousin – so-called hate speech, which of late seems to be classified lately as anything which the bien-pensant in academia, the media, or politics don’t wish to hear. Early on, the concept seemed to be that hate speech was the stuff of the KKK and the Nazis campaign against racial and religious minorities and encouraging the excision and/or destruction of those minorities from the human race by whatever means. Which was not just bad, it was also – in the words of my mother, one of the most militantly tolerant women on the face of the earth – rude. However, of late, the definition of hate-speech has become so loose as to be useless; a pity, as it once was a shorthand for the genuinely unacceptable in public discourse.

And that is not the worst, although the double standard when it comes to defining what is acceptable is galling to conservatives and moderates: why should nasty, bigoted racists like David Duke be un-personed, when a nasty, bigoted racist like Louis Farrakhan be an honored guest in the halls of the bien-pensant? Why is conservative speech on college campuses condemned as “violence” while violence perpetuated by far-leftists is excused as “free speech”? At this point, we know damned well why – and that is one of the reasons that the media, political, and academic members of the Ruling Class are hemorrhaging trust and credit with at least half the country.

The most troubling recent development on the hate-crime/hate speech front, though, is the concerted and organized effort to cut off organizations accused of having committed so-called “hate speech” (often on very thin grounds) not just from the popular social media outlets, but to pressure credit card and payment processing companies into denying their services. We’ve already seen this done to individuals – now it is an open campaign to economically punish the speech that the current Ruling Class doesn’t want to hear. Discuss our options for routing around this new insult to common sense and decency.

There was a bit of excitement a couple of weeks ago in the suburb where I have lived since the spring of 1995. I should make it clear that this is a working-class to middle-class suburb on the north-eastern fringe of San Antonio, a city which has pretensions to being Democrat-run and a smidge on the libby-lefty side. After all, this place did spawn Julian Castro, of whom I am convinced there is a picture in that Great Universal Dictionary in the sky next to the definition of that German word which means “a face in need of a good punching”. San Antonio may be well stocked with representatives of the lunatic left, but we are pretty far from being Austin, and the fact that one cannot throw a rock in this place without hitting at least four retired colonels and a dozen retired senior NCOs (Army and Air Force, primarily) – well, that keeps a ration of sanity in play. I’ve only spotted two signs for Beto “Blotto” O’Rourke lately, for whatever that counts for.

The houses in the development tend to be small, and relatively affordable for people with moderately-paid jobs or a retirement income; I’d guess, from observing the various lawn signs over the years, that just about all are lived in by owners. Most of the houses are well-cared cared for; a few have spectacular gardens. The trees planted by the original developers are all well-grown, now. There are only a handful of rentals. The talk among the neighbors is that the neighborhood is desirable, in a quiet, unspectacular way, being close to various bases, good public schools, and shopping centers. I’d guess that the racial makeup of the neighborhood tracks very closely with the national average, with a tilt towards slightly more Hispanics; this is Texas, after all.
We have pretty much the same kind of petty crime that happens everywhere, or so I suspect; teenagers egging cars, theft of packages from mailboxes and doorsteps, drunk driving, and speeding; for a time six or seven years ago there were rumors of a peeping tom. The most spectacular crime was a double murder almost six years ago … and then there was last week’s ruckus. A deeply substance-addled moron took it into his head to work his way along the street (a well-traveled and well-lit street which traverses the subdivision), breaking into cars parked in driveways, looking for items of small value to steal. We suspect one of the rental houses is tenanted by a free-lance entrepreneur dealing in illicit recreational substances. Just about everyone on the street adjacent suspects this as well. No one will be the least surprised when they are busted by the police, except possibly the absentee owner of the house; likely this home-based enterprise was what drew said moron into the neighborhood to start with. Although the guy did think far enough ahead to station is equally substance-addled girlfriend act as lookout, he began this burglarious project at an hour when people were beginning to get up, go through their early morning routine, and depart for work. One of the vehicles broken into was the work truck of a guy who installs cable TV, from which he grabbed a bunch of tools and gear. And then, he went to the front door of the house where the truck was parked – and tried to steal the doorbell camera! Which resulted in a lovely picture of our Suburban Criminal Mastermind, with a stack of stolen items in his other hand. He didn’t get the doorbell camera, BTW, but the picture was posted on the Next Door Neighborhood app almost at once, so most of the neighbors were following this saga with appreciative interest.

The owner of the work truck, and another neighbor whose vehicle had also been broken into, gave chase almost immediately, the aspiring Criminal Mastermind vanished down a side street, outdistancing the pursuers for a time. They eventually found him, passed out on a lawn, hog-tied him with an extension cord, and called the police – who when they arrived were generally appreciative to find their job of apprehending a suspect already accomplished. This interlude was the talk of the neighborhood, naturally; we even had a television news crew visiting again. I’m fairly certain that if word has gotten around, it will be a while before another free-lance, substance-addled moron sees breaking into vehicles as the solution to his cash-flow problem.
And the reason that I am ruminating on this small incident? By coincidence, it was the very week that Victor Davis Hanson wrote,

“I live on a farm beside a rural avenue in central California, the fifth generation to reside in the same house. And after years of thefts, home break-ins, and dangerous encounters, I have concluded that it is no longer safe to live where I was born. I stay for a while longer because I am sixty-five years old and either too old to move or too worried about selling the final family parcel of what was homesteaded in the 1870s.”

The rest of his post outlined some of the awful, unchecked and unpunished criminality over the past twenty years which has led him to that sad conclusion: vandalism, destructive trespass, rampant looting of practically everything not nailed down … everything. And local law enforcement seems unwilling or incapable of remediating the situation. VDH’s community has reverted to a lawless jungle. It is no longer a self-organizing, functional place, where neighbors can look to each other, and to local authorities for defense and redress. When the lawless element can intimidate and overwhelm the law-abiding – indeed, when the authorities appear to take the side of the criminals – the law abiding will leave. With sadness and regret, but they will leave. My community still functions – and for that I am grateful.

This week, the month-long mystery of the missing college student, Mollie Tibbits, was sadly resolved, with the discovery of her body in a local cornfield. Developments in the search for her were updated frequently over the last few weeks, and always featured at the top, or near to the top of headlines on the English tabloid, the Daily Mail. Which, for all its’ eccentricities, abuse of grammar, spelling, penchant for the flamingly obvious, providing Piers Morgan with a salary, extreme Kardashian-worship, and light-to-moderate Trump disdain, does cover the American news scene without much fear or favor.
The longer the mystery of her disappearance went on, though – the greater the chance of a less than happy ending. And as it turns out that the chief suspect in her kidnapping and murder is a man with a distinctly dodgy background – an illegal alien of Mexican background, whose’ identity papers are something of a mystery. His American employers seemed to believe that everything was hunky-dory; this lends the cynical among us to assume that such paperwork must have been better forgeries than the usual run.

Political shining star Senator Elizabeth Warren, when asked for a reaction to the Tibbits murder, immediately pivoted to opine indignantly on the matter of children separated from their mothers at the US border, apparently seeing that as a matter of higher priority than of crimes committed by illegal aliens after they cross the border – a remarkably tone-deaf reaction. Or maybe not, considering that Senator Warren speaks from a position ‘ex cathedra’ reflecting, “the set of values and beliefs that justify the existing order of society and, not coincidentally, the privileged place of the managerial aristocracy in that order.” In other words, as a member of the American ruling class, to whom uncounted numbers of illegal immigrants to the country mean restaurants with exotic new international cuisines, very cheap labor, and well-cultivated vote-plantations – an in-the-pocket electorate so much more obedient than stiff-necked members of the middle and working class. Such citizens have, of late, been much less biddable than their betters would wish; witness such indicators of deep dissatisfaction as the Tea Party, the election of Donald Trump, and the Just Walk Away movement.

To the ruling class, an affection for, the sheltering of, and the unstinting support for undocumented immigrants is an unmitigated good. All the benefits listed in the previous paragraph, along with being able to conspicuously virtue-signal, accrue to the ruling class, secure in their wealth, their gated communities, social clubs and private schools. All the disadvantages, hazards, and expenses both social and actual land like a ton of bricks on everyone else – and have been doing so for at least two decades, possibly more. It’s not just the criminal element; incidents of rape, robbery, murder, drunk driving, uninsured driving, and identity theft which victimize ordinary Americans, native and legalized at the hands of the illegal. All over Texas, the Southwest and California – stories of auto accidents caused by uninsured and probably illegal drivers abound, also spectacular drunk driving incidents committed by the same demographic.

A few years ago, another blogger drilled down through the comments appended to Yahoo news story of the woman who was arrested at her OB-gyn’s office – an illegal with such badly-forged picture ID that the office staff called the authorities. As far down as the blogger (and I) explored the comments on the story – which was posted as ‘oh, pity the poor pregnant woman, busted at the doctor’s office’ none of those commenting on the story were sympathetic. Without exception, they were infuriated; outraged over how someone elses’ SSAN had been stolen to facilitate the woman’s residence in the US. Multiply this by a thousand, a million times over the last twenty years and more – and you have ordinary Americans almost lethally angry and with cause over the abuse of our trust, our social cohesion, and our pocketbooks. Illegal aliens willing to work under the table at unskilled labor in construction, agriculture, in factories, and at domestic work for much less than minimum wage undermine native American workers. It’s not that there are jobs that Americans won’t do – they won’t do them for a pittance. The ruling class, and their handmaidens in the established press also prefer to downplay the burden placed on public schools; yes, for every Dreamer who is their high school graduating valedictorian and bound for college to be a doctor or an astronaut or something like that, I’d bet there are ten or twenty who have never adequately learned English, are illiterate in any language, and headed for a lifetime of petty criminality intermixed with welfare poverty. At taxpayers’ expense, coming and going, to our mounting exasperation – an exasperation equally fueled by the insistence of the ruling class that this exasperation and mounting anger is just proof of our own racism.

The establishment press, and the ruling class wish to disappear these incidents and issues, of course. But the murders of Kate Steinle, and now of Mollie Tibbits may be precipitating a preference cascade. Your thoughts?

I should think that Omarosa Manigault Newman must be weeping bitter tears and sticking little pins into a voodoo doll of John Brennan all this weekend, for he has stolen just about all of her publicity thunder in the end-of-week headlines and newscast coverage. A good few things are now obvious about her to that apparently small portion of the public (including myself) who didn’t watch reality TV series. One of those things is that she is a back-biting, vicious witch who blithely assumed that playing one for the cameras on a TV reality show would of course translate perfectly into a job at the White House, and another that taping conversations right and left to produce a tell-all inside book on the Trump administration would be just like secretly taping conversations for a tell-all book on the behind the scenes maneuvering on The Apprentice. Why on earth was she hired in the first place? Aside from being an old pal, for whom the President presumably felt at least a smidgen of loyalty and trust, it may also have been that he was channeling LBJ, who is supposed to have said of J. Edgar Hoover, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” General Kelly never did a job so well as that of giving her the official sack, as is proved in her own tape of the matter: polite, professional and implacable. Of all the people in the world I’d not like to have professionally pissed off at me, General Kelly is in the top five. And as it has now developed – Ms. Manigault Newman’s credibility is pretty much in shreds among those who otherwise might have been inclined to lend an ear to her tales of Trumpindysfunction. When Piers Morgan (Piers Morgan of all personalities!) calls you a “…relentlessly loathsome … a vicious, duplicitous, lying, conniving, backstabbing piece of work,” there is nothing much left to do except for counting up the advance (and hopefully investing it well) from your publisher and gibbering about your geometric logic and steel marbles. And sticking pins in the voodoo doll of John Brennan.

Ah, yes – speaking of another good job, well done; the mass pulling of security clearances from Mr. Brennan and a handful of others, whose political animus against the current administration is so marked as to have become a regular news feature. A security clearance is not a civil right. When you are no longer performing those duties which required such – either through retirement, career change, or getting the sack (see above) than the security clearance goes buh-bye. No exceptions for the inside-the-Beltway elite. Discuss, if you can bear it. There is some discussion in this thread at NeoNeocon’s new place.

 

It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
(From the musical South Pacific)

Or not taught at all. Last week as I sat in my cosy home office contemplating things, the ebb and flow of the internet brought to me the woebegone maunderings of a (presumably) white and (arguably) somewhat credentialed Millennial, who in her search for meaning and purpose in her life wound up involved in those anti-pipeline protests near the Sioux reservation. The ukase of her lament seemed to be that she had no native culture, not in comparison with those charming and dignified tribal elders. She appeared to view them as benign, terribly exotic, definitely ‘other’ – pretty much the same lens with which the old National Geographic viewed and photographed those interesting aboriginal peoples in far distant foreign lands all these decades ago.

And it was terribly sad to read, because the poor child does in fact, have a culture of her own – just that she has been deprived of it; deprived by intent or by cultivated sloth on the part of those who should have taught it to her; the unimaginably rich canon knowledge of western culture – our history, art, literature, music, technology, folkways. Homer and Cervantes, Shakespeare, da Vinci, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner and Rossini, Dickens and Twain, Michelangelo and Machiavelli, Brunel and Bruneschelli, the Brothers Grimm, the Brothers Wright, Don Juan of Austria and Ulysses S. Grant, the Duke of Wellington and whoever it was invented the toilet flush valve and the first working sewing machine. Likely all this and more were never taught to her, or what is worse – badly taught and as examples of western racism or whatever. To live without a sense of history is to be adrift in a kind of cultural sensory-deprivation tank, as exhibited by that child.

I can’t make up my mind which is the bigger crime against the minds of the young these days: the sin of omission in neglecting to teach them anything but the most anodyne little bits and bobs … or the deliberate commission involved in teaching them that western culture is one long sodden exercise in violence, racism, sexism and other -isms yet to be discovered by the tireless exploration of social justice scholars. (I have been told that we have socialist subversion on the part of malignant fools like Antonio Gramsci to blame for this sad state of affairs.) That second alternative has produced bitter, self-involved credentialed idiots like Sarah Jeong, who as of this week still has a prestigious position at our so-called national newspaper of record, the New York Times.

It is a good thing that many responsible parents are turning to home schooling, I suppose – and that many more miseducated adults are embarking on a belated program of independent self-education. Nature does abhor a vacuum, but shouldn’t our society offer a little more of substance to fill that vacuum? Discuss what can and might be done, if you can bear to contemplate the disaster that is education in the western world these days.

(Bonus – meme appropriated from the internet)
Sarah Jeung - Ask Your Grandma

The title of this post is the punchline to an old, old story about the limits of advertising; a story which may or may not be based on fact. The story goes that a big food-manufacturing conglomerate came up with a brand new formulation for dog food, and advertised it with a huge, costly campaign: print ads, TV commercials, product placement in movies, TV shows, county fairs, giveaways and sponsorships; the whole ball of wax … and the product cratered. The CEO of the company is irate and demands answers from anyone who can give him a reason why. Didn’t they do everything possible to make their dog food brand the market leader? Image everyone at that meeting looking nervously at each other at this point – because they have done everything possible … except for one small thing. Finally, someone gets up sufficient nerve to answer. “But the dogs don’t like it.” More »