The Daughter Unit and I spent most of Saturday morning in the lovely little town of Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley is situated on a particularly scenic stretch of the Blanco River, in the hills to the west of San Marcos. It’s closer to Austin than to San Antonio and seems to have become even more of a weekend tourist draw, since we first visited it in the late 1990ies. Then there were just a handful of little shops catering to tourists, and one restaurant with had memorable hamburgers and an outside deck which overlooked the riverbank, all grown with cypress trees, great and green. There were a fair number of hippie artisan types; potters, glass-blowers, metal-fabricators and the like, plus the usual number of antique shops, which tended more towards the ‘quaint old country junk’ side of the scale. On the first Saturday of the month, Wimberley stages a mammoth open-air market – something we’ve been to a number of times. It’s supposed to be the oldest and biggest one in Texas.
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D-Day Troops Landing(A reprise post from a decade ago – a reflection on D-Day.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

31. May 2019 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, Media Matters Not

So, I’ve been following, in a desultory fashion, the kerfuffle over various movie projects suddenly discovering that filming in a state where the local voters and their legislature prefer putting limits on the availability of abortion is … OMG! The Handmaids’ Tale is upon us! Flee, Flee for your lives, those TV series and movies choosing to shoot in lower-cost states than California (where about every scenic local has been seen in the background many a time. It was, once a upon a time, my private amusement, in spotting familiar locations in and around Los Angeles appearing in popular TV series.) Geeze, it’s almost as if among the Hollywood glitterati the need for abortion services occurs at least once a month and twice on Sundays. Given the various reports of disgusting rapey-sexual conduct among producers and directors (mostly male) perpetuated upon (mostly but not exclusively) female performers, perhaps on-command abortion services might be required at that. Funny old thing that – these are the same producers and organizations who have no problem filming in foreign countries with even stricter limits on abortion. More »

I was ruminating all this week, after last week’s post on the practice of ‘othering’ and how common it seems of late that that white people (that is, those of us who are on the paler end of the skin-color spectrum and whose ancestors originated somewhere north of the Mediterranean and west of the Urals) are the piñata of choice among a wide swath of lefty academics, and certain media and political personalities. Last week it was the lefty librarian blogger getting her pantyhose in a twist about all those books by white people in academic libraries, this week it’s students at an Oakland HS (of course – Oakland/SF) demanding that murals of George Washington be painted over, a couple of months ago it was a rather nasty bigot named Sarah Jeong landing a cushy gig at the so-called newspaper of record, in spite of a series of tweets that would have seen any writer of pallor and masculinity reduced to waiting tables and driving for Uber. And now it appears that such concepts as a rule of law, assumption of innocence, conventional good manners and even timeliness are now held to be proof of the iniquity of whiteness. Why should this be so, and why now? More »

Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings. – Heinrich Heine

This last week there was a mild kerfuffle in the world of those bloggers who love and often write books, and who also love history. This was caused by a marginally-literate screed published on a personal blog by one Sofia Leung, who professes to be a feminist and a librarian of the totally-woke/social-justice/critical-race-theory variety. Said screed was amplified in the twitter feed of the Library Journal, until the tweet was deleted, (possibly at the urging of someone with a lick of sense and professionalism). I suspect that the Library Journal is a publication which was once much more respected and authoritative; like Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, Harper’s, Smithsonian and National Geographic once were, before being overtaken in a flood of semi-coherent woke/social-justice/critical-race-theory nonsense. Quoth Ms. Leung –

“Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten…”

I swear, those two sentences alone encompass ignorance of such pure, stainless density as to drop into the center of the earth and emerge on the other side. (A close rival this week, is the Twitter feed of a painfully ignorant SJW who insisted that white people shouldn’t be permitted to learn Spanish because it wasn’t properly a ‘white’ language.*) However, the phrase which raises the hair on the back of the neck of any historically-knowledgeable of whatever color or shade of whiteness is her complaint that such materiel – presumably papers, publications and books which reflect that so-called “whiteness” “… are physically taking up space in our libraries.”

Taking up space in our libraries. Reflect on that for a moment. Our libraries. Taking a rather royally-possessive attitude, here, aren’t we, Ms. Leung? Considering that these tenuously United States are still inhabited largely by citizens whose national origins were somewhere north of the Mediterranean, and west of the Ural Mountains and thus are to be ‘white’ by the standards of this current century. (The definition of ‘white’ is curiously elastic; depending on the point to be proven. Americans of Oriental descent, and those whose origins are in South America are frequently also lumped into the ‘white’ category, for purposes of allocating places at prestigious universities or for inflating/deflating categories of certain crimes with regard to the ethnic background of the convicted.) Are we not supposed to be educated and diverted by volumes of whatever – poetry, history, philosophy, drama – in our own tradition? What is it that you are proposing to do with that which you so magisterially disapprove of, Ms. Leung? Remove it, as something unclean? Perhaps you have an auto-da-fe of books in mind, if you have thought that far ahead, when you consider a condemnation of stuff physically taking up space in libraries?

Additionally, I am also fairly certain that – depending on the nature of the library in question – that many of those institutions so casually dismissed by Ms. Leung contain extensive collections of material in the original language or in authoritative translation from the ancient world, from India and the Orient. Indeed, wherever there was a written language, there must be material, both original and informed commentary – from a direct source which in now ways could be considered ‘white’ and layers and layers of comment which perhaps might be …

In any case, Ms. Leung is considered by me to be a disgrace to her profession – a dangerous and bigoted one, with delusions of adequacy far beyond her intelligence, as it is displayed in her blog post. Is this expressed wish of hers – to cleanse “our” libraries of the dreaded taint of “whiteness” a kind of harbinger when it comes to fashion among the woke set? How seriously should we take it? Are we – us ‘normies’ and flyover citizens – now past the second or third marker on the road to be erased, in having our history, what we value intellectually being thrown down the memory hole?

Discuss as you wish.

*Can’t find the link for this – but I know I saw it.

After reading a couple of favorable reviews of The Highwaymen at blogs that I am usually given to trust, I took a flyer on watching the movie – streaming video, of course, on my home computer. I can count the number of movies that I have made a deliberate effort to see in a theater over the last couple of years on the fingers of one hand and … well, wow. Just wow. Kevin Costner isn’t any Kenneth Branagh, or even a John Wayne – but he can act, especially given an intelligent and nuanced script, spare and understated direction, and production values not dependent on flashy special effects. Woody Harrelson may personally be nuttier than squirrel poop – but he also can act. Like Jimmy Stewart did before them – they are better and more interesting playing older, more grizzled characters then they were as smooth-faced young studs. So – The Highwaymen is a retelling of the hunt for and final ambush of gangsters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, glamorized beyond practically all recognition in the 1968 movie.

There were a good few roving criminal gangs in the 1920ies and 30ies, enabled by the ubiquity of motor cars, resentments of banks in a time of Depression and hardship, and a national media inclined – as they have been practically forever – to make popular folk heroes out of ordinary criminals. The Highwaymen, instead of glorifying a pair of vicious and possibly psychotic losers (who hardly appear at all, save at a distance), follows the two former Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault on a long and dusty road trip – down empty country roads, through migrant camps and small towns in the Depression-era middle America: a buddy-cop and road-trip movie. Touchingly, the two of them are not quite sure they are up to it. In real life, Hamer and Gault were in their fifties at the time they were tagged to hunt the Barrow gang, survivors of hard and violent times; the old ‘Wild West’ lingered in Texas well into the 20th century. There is some small humor made from the fact that two-way police radios and phone-tapping were a new concept in law enforcement for a pair of guys who first made their bones in the horseback-and-Winchester-rifle days.

What I appreciated most, though – was how flawlessly the scenery where The Highwaymen was filmed backed up the story – yes, that was genuinely Texas; piney woods and dusty plains, with the sky arching overhead. The lonely little gas stations, the streets of Dallas where the Barrows and the Parkers lived, grimy interiors of roadhouses and coffee shops, the migrant camps and tourist cabins – all perfect, right down to the signage and light fixtures. (This was nothing like that horrible Texas Rising mini-series – filmed entirely in Durango, Mexico, in which the concept of scenic authenticity was flung down and danced upon.) The final ambush of Barrow and Parker was actually filmed at the spot where it happened, which must have creeped out the film crew and actors considerably.

All and all – a good two hours spent with interesting people: Hamer had a long and eventful history in law enforcement, which rightfully should be good for another half a dozen movies. In 1939, for instance, he and 49 other retired Texas Rangers offered their services to King George VI, to protect England against the Nazis. (A local Llano author, Elisabeth G. Wolf worked this into a supernatural alt-history fantasy.) Hamer’s wife, Gladys Johnson Sims (seen briefly in the opening scenes of The Highwaymen) should have her own movie, at that: she was at the center of the last great Texas family feud in which the principals personally took up weapons. This feud was kicked into high gear when she shot her ex-husband as he tried to force the issue of custodial visitation with their young daughters. In the town square of Snyder, Texas. In front of witnesses.

Finally, the high quality of The Highwaymen, in acting and directing talent and production values, is additional proof that cinematic creativity has moved on to new venues. Generators with a ready audience – Amazon, Netflix and the like – are creating original, interesting content. Far more interesting content than what’s nommed for the Academy Awards this year; discuss as you wish.

So, as of this last week, as per the sparkly new members of the House, the Democrat Party line is now one of unapologetic and hard-line anti-Semitism. Not that this should surprise anyone with a grounding in history: in the 19th century, the Democrat Party was the party of slavery and secession, in the 20th, the party of segregation and Jim Crow. And now, in this faintly-tarnished 21st, they appear to have become the party of socialism, anti-Semitism, and the fanatical belief that OMG-The-Planet-Earth-Is-Gonna-Fry!
The Horrendous Climate Change thing is bad enough on its’ own. Look, I have been paying attention long enough to remember when Massive Global Cooling was all the Panic du jour, then followed by the Massive Global Warming – all this human and/or industrial caused. I am so not falling for the scam of the successor to this panic – that of Massive Global Climate Change!!Eleventy!! It was warm enough in Roman times to grow wine grapes in England, warm enough in Medieval times for subsistence farming in Greenland, cold enough in the 17th centuries that the Thames froze over at London, enabling midwinter jollities to be held on the ice. The monumental Cliff Dweller settlements in the American Southwest flowered and flourished until the thirteenth century, when widespread drought and subsequent unrest drove the Anazazi from their aeries among the cliffs. The volcanic explosion of Mt. Tambora in 1815 in the East Indies brought about the following “year with no summer” in the northern European continent and the eastern US – all this when industry was in infancy and automobiles a dream in the mind of whatever madman was doing science fiction at the time… so, not buying anthropomorphic global warming or the Green New Deal for a hot second.

But that kerfuffle is a small thing, next to the revival of anti-Semitism, now apparently a key Dem party feature, with the new kids on the block – Ilhan Omar, Cory Booker, AOC and others apparently having no problem with publicly, unapologetically expressing sentiments regarding Jews that wouldn’t have been out of place in a publication like Der Stűrmer. Anti-Semitism in the United States was, I always thought, not nearly as virulent a feature in the social landscape as in, say, Imperial Russia (with frequent vicious pogroms and generation of the ever-green Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery) or in Belle Epoque France, with the Dryfus affair. Certainly, anti-Semitism existed in the US, but in a paler, social-snobbery kind of way. One has the impression, in surveying a wide selection of contemporary 19th century American readings, that generally American intellectuals and thought leaders knew of anti-Semitism, but didn’t really feel anything about it, one way or the other. Growing up in Southern California in the 1950s and 60ies, anti-Semitism was even farther off the table: it was tacky, ignorant and completely unacceptable. Besides, our family had friends – some of them very dear friends – whose’ lives had been impacted by the Holocaust. It was an uncomplicated path between Jew-hate and loading your fellow-citizens into box-cars for that one-way trip; this, everyone seemed to know and understand … then.
But not now, apparently. The same old Jew-hate staggers back to horrid zombie-life among people who ought to know better, but don’t. And why? The necessity for having a scapegoat for personal and societal failure, I assume. Catastrophic failure in socialist regimes (see Venezuela, the latest example), the sink-hole of dysfunction in the inner-city urban black community, and the slow-rolling disasters that are countries ruled by strict Islamic principles (Pakistan and Somalia immediately come to mind) simply must be the fault of other forces or agencies. Someone or something else must be to blame when it all comes crashing down, as socialists have only the best intentions, the urban black communities are wholly innocent, and Islam is perfect. So the ancient hatred of the successful by the un- shambles forth, once again. Your thoughts?

05. March 2019 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, Media Matters Not

It seems that Ruling Class lackey and unfunny comedian Bill Mahler has unburdened himself of a particularly snide monologue this week just past, outlining what he sees as the difference between the residents of blue and red states – to the denigration of the red states, of course. This monologue was delivered to applause and laughter at every line – especially the one about the Blues (AKA – Our Kind, Darling!) having Wolfgang Puck and those lamentable, deplorable Reds only having Chef Boyardee, har, har, har! (We have Paula Deen, the Pioneer Woman, and Guy Fieri … and anyway, isn’t Wolfgang Puck so 80ies? He was a laugh line in Northern Exposure sub-plot involving Adam the anti-social master chef for petes’ sake.) There was also another laugh line, about how we all in flyover country were living in a state of frustrated envy, because the Blues are the British Royal Family, and the Red Staters are Megan Markle’s dad. More »

No, I don’t think will ever reach Peak Stupid; just as we will probably never reach Peak Oil, either – since there appears to be an inexhaustible supply of the former, and more of the latter than the gloom’n’doom crowd apparently thought. But Deity on a Trisket, the farrago of Stupid on display just this past week is just plain mind-blowing. And I read a lot of history, so it’s not a total surprise to me that individually and en masse, humans are capable of the spectacularly moronic; things like Tulip Mania in 17th century Holland, pursuance of the Flat Earth theory after trips into space, and the Billy Jack movie series, not to mention the whole disco era in general.
So the Jussie Smallett supposed hate-crime on the below-freezing streets of Chicago on the coldest day of the year thus far (hey, it’s only February, I am confident that the remaining ten months of 2019 will bring us ever more bountiful levels of stupidity) has fallen completely apart – much as the intelligent and logical portion of the blogosphere had predicted upon being made aware of the specifics. Yes, a planned – with an astounding level of stupidity even for an actor – hate crime, intended to leverage a pay raise, and garner oodles of that sweet, sweet milk of sympathy for a victim. And the National Establishment Mainstream fell for it, hook, line, sinker and whatever else in an appealing sob story, not to mention quantities of gullible media celebrities, and gullible political celebrities. Oopsie. The most decent of them appear to have the nous to be resoundingly pissed with Mr. Smolett over how their sympathies were exploited. The indecent are lying low and doubtless waiting for the next shiny, flashy supposed hate crime to bubble up to the top of that pond of scum which appears to be our national thought leaders. Live and learn, people – there exists a long, long, long history of faked hate crimes. The most recent of which happened not two weeks previously, with the Covington Catholic students. Memories are short in the National Establishment Media gene pool; measured in hours, I would guess. Possibly this is a variety of genetic defect. More »

Watching this weeks’ major media meltdown regarding Governor Northam and a college buddy having dressed in blackface and as a KKK member for I presume some kind of masquerade party is as entertaining as it is baffling. I was in elementary and middle school during the high points of the civil rights/desegregation campaign – by the time I was an adult, half a dozen years ahead of Governor Northam – civil rights for citizens of whatever color was a done deal. It was all, we thought, done and dusted. Membership in the Klan was an unsavory, disreputable thing. I ought to mention that I grew up in blue-collar California, and if there had ever been a substantial KKK presence there, it managed to escape my notice and the notice of my parents. Things must have been way different in the south-eastern US in the 1980s, I guess.
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I see that the fallout from Covington is still falling – well, admittedly not on the front pages of the Establishment National Media (the ENM for short) – but I hear the echoes quite clearly still, especially among those of a conservative or libertarian inclination. Oh, not the encounter itself; it was still bleedingly obvious to most of us within days that the Covington Catholic schoolboys held up rather well in the face of blatantly racial and relentless barracking on the part of the Black Israelite nutters, and harassment by a drum-pounding professional “activist” whose account of the whole shenanigans afterwards bore only the most coincidental resemblance to those facts easily verified from the numberless videos available. That no one in the Establishment National Media has the least particle of interest in outing the Black Israelite nutters by name and number, or of asking Chief Reefer Ranger to account for the discrepancies in his own personal narrative would lead one to conclude that representatives of the ENM have forsaken impartiality in favor of the “narrative” which posits that MAGA-hat wearing, white, religiously-observant residents of Flyoverlandia are wicked, evil, non-persons, and Persons of Color/Minority – no matter what their conduct and words may be – are blameless and above all criticism.

This bias on the part of the media has been demonstrated so blatantly in this matter arrives on top of a whole range of instances when the ENM fluffed over a great log in the eye of those persons and parties which they held in esteem and had non-stop vapors over the tiniest speck in the eye of those they did not. By this means, one may watch the credibility of the ENM shrivels down at the same rate as their revenues. One may also observe the pink-slipping of reporters and contributors to various print and on-line publications with a degree of schadenfreude and listen with a cold heart to the lamentations of their genders-of-indetermination. Indeed, I have taken a degree of mean-minded satisfaction over these soyboys and girls throwing hissy fits on Twitter over being advised to ‘learn to code’; proof absolute that – like many a middle-school bully – they could dish it out but couldn’t take it without running in tears to teacher. Twitter has joined into the biased fun, too; making it screamingly obvious that they will turn a blind eye towards bad behavior on the part of lefty celebs and activists, but exercise great severity over the smallest transgression by someone perceived as conservative-leaning. Writing off better than half the country – even if they aren’t on Twitter or care to Twit anyway – as irredeemable deplorables, racists, and beneath the contempt does not seem like a sensible position for anyone in the current affairs business. I am assuming that Twitter as an enterprise has some kind of business plan, opaque as it may seem.

As of now it seems that there is another supposed MAGA-related atrocity being exploited by the ENM: an actor of mild color, (of whom I had never heard), in the cast of a TV series (which I had barely heard of and never watched or have any intention of watching) claims to have been assaulted by MAGA-hat wearing racists on the city streets of Chicago. At two in the morning (a time where nothing good really happens), on one of the coldest days in local history. I rather expect that since the local police have not been able to confirm much of anything, and since Jussie Wossname’s story has changed nearly as much as Chief Reefer Rangers’ that this alleged hate crime will dissolve as fast as the Covington Catholic one did, in all but the minds of true believers in MAGA wickedness and racism.

Whether an accusation of race-hate-crime has any credibility at all is not the concern of the Establishment National Media; it is only sufficient that the accusation be made. That an accusation can be made against the designated target for a distributed campaign of hate spearheaded by the ENM, even if such an accusation is made of whole cloth, is the only thing that matters any more. Your thoughts?

07. January 2019 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, Politics, Rant

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 »

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!)

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.

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 »

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.)

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 »

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.

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 »

29. July 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Ain't That America?, World

My childhood and growing-up years were haunted by fire – a thing which I have been reminded about, on reading the horrific accounts of the fast-moving fire that swept a resort town eastern shore of Greece’s Attic Peninsula earlier this week, and on reading about the massive Carr Fire just now threatening whole tracts of northern California. I grew up in Southern California, living there until I enlisted after college, went away and never really returned for more than a couple of weeks. (Less a single year to the day at Mather AFB in 1981-82.) My parents loved living in the hills, preferably at the end of a dirt road; if not out of sight of a neighbor’s fireplace sending up a little plume of smoke – then on at least half an acre and that far distant from their rooftop. Dad was a research biologist. He gave the most wonderful nature walks imaginable, and would have been – as he once confessed, being happy as a desert rat, living in a hut in the Mojave. This meant that we were usually living in, or within sight of California chaparral-covered hills – hills which nature has designed expressly for the purposes of burning over, every twenty or thirty years.

There is no escaping that unadorned fact. Fire governs the wilderness. Certain of the native plant seeds do not even properly germinate until heated to so-many degrees. The plants themselves are resinous and burn readily, when the hot wind desert wind blows. This I knew, early on. The standing old-growth forests, and even the newer pine-woods other parts of California and the west – they are governed, bound, ruthlessly maintained by cycles of naturally-occurring fire and renewal. Fire thins the new seedlings, eliminates disease-weakened trees, clears away the mast and muddle – the broom that ruthlessly sweeps away, and renews. This my father taught us. A lesson which certain environmental groups seem to refuse, with the energy of a small child refusing a spoonful of delicious creamed spinach. No! Don’t cut down those pine-bark-infested pine trees! No, don’t clear-cut that brush! It’s icky interference with nature! And don’t do controlled burns, which endanger the spotted lizard-owl something! So the burnable load increases, increases and increases again, and when it finally all goes up, it burns so hot that the earth turns clean and barren, like a kiln transforming clay into pottery. Nature deferred will extract her penalty. More »