01. March 2021 · Comments Off on Picking Up the Pieces · Categories: General

Well, two weeks ago we were freezing our butts off. Two days ago, we are having to run the AC because it turned warm, muggy, and humid. And today it’s cold and rainy again. Welcome to Texas. Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes or a week or two, and it will change. Absolutely-freaking-guaranteed.

However, the damage that a week of sub-zero temperatures did to my neighborhood – the process of picking up the pieces is underway. For the civic stuff – a couple of burst pipes got taken care of by the utility company almost the instant that everyone thawed out. The one house in the neighborhood that burned is still a ruin: the FD had all their hydrants frozen on that night that it burned, couldn’t bring in enough water in the pumper trucks and so the house – which still stands, barely – is a total loss. The smell of burned wood lasts for at least two houses away. The pipes in and under my own house appear to have weathered through the storm all right – most of them are in the concrete foundation slab for most of their run, and the ones which come up through the exterior walls in various places were insulated sufficiently … and we left all the sink faucets and outside taps dripping, in any case. Yes, we have lived in places where this was expected. It also helped enormously that I had paid for a new round of blown-in attic insulation a couple of years ago, also that the new concrete siding was installed last fall, and the new and better windows better-insulated windows had been installed a week before the Great Texas Freeze of 2021. All but the front bedroom, which was supposed to have been replaced with French doors, doors which unaccountably were not delivered with all the other replacement windows. So, it was not horribly uncomfortable inside the house during that week; we could boil water for coffee and tea in the morning and cook a hot meal at night on the propane grill on the front porch. Many of our neighbors also got by simply by having camping gear and propane on hand.

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The stated aim of that murderous freak Charlie Manson and his deranged family of dropouts and druggies in committing the brutal slaughter of seven people in 1969 was to incite a race war. The murderers deliberately left bloody graffiti at the murder scenes, attempting to frame the Black Panthers – yet another set of murderous and equally racist freaks active in that period. In Manson’s twisted vision, the Tate-LaBianca murders would set off a brutal race war; black against white, in which whites would be enthusiastically genocided. During this mayhem Manson and his followers would hide out in a vast underground city. They would then emerge to take command over what remained of society. Manson was a particularly noxious racist, unsavory qualities which were veiled by the last putrid remnants of the hippie commune culture, which let his cult family fly under the social radar as it existed in the afterglow of the so-called “Summer of Love” in the formerly golden state of California. (Jim Jones was another one of those super-organized racist-cult freaks of the era, whose’ commune was slightly longer-lasting and successful, until suddenly it wasn’t. Yeah, a supposedly race-prejudice-free socialist commune, with a white leadership cadre and mostly dead black bodies when it all came crashing down some years later.)

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19. February 2021 · Comments Off on Snowpocalypse Now · Categories: General

Well, my fellow Texas, what have we learned from this disastrous week just passed? Quite a lot, actually – and many of us were reminded anew of those old habits acquired from having lived for a few years in places where winters are reliably ice-cold frozen, dark, snow-packed and last for months. The Army retiree ahead of us in the line to get into the grocery store on Wednesday reminisced with the Daughter Unit and I about such winters spent in less temperate climes, and we racked our collective memories about what had happened to the ice scrapers that we all were certain we had come to Texas with at least two decades ago. (I was sure that mine was somewhere in the trunk of the Very Elderly Volvo, which was sold ten years ago. Possibly the young motorhead who bought the VEV discovered the ice scraper – well, at least now he knows what it was for.)

It’s not that viciously cold, icy winters are completely unknown in Texas; such conditions are routinely experienced on a regular basis in northern Texas, where residences and civic practice are all accustomed to and prepared for such. Southern Texas very rarely experiences ice, snow, sleet; if anything, it’s more of a mild tropical or Mediterranean – hardiness zones 8, 9 and 10 on the USDA maps. Those bouts of below freezing in San Antonio most usually last only for couple of nights and a day. As for snow, the last two rounds of for-real snow melted on the ground almost the moment it landed, or at most, by mid-morning of the following day. If anything, our buildings, civic infrastructure, and public policies are oriented more towards the expectation of blistering summer heat for at least six months out of a year, and relatively mild and temperate conditions for the remainder, interspersed with the occasional hurricane along the coast. Our homes are insulated against the heat; during most winters my central heat barely gets more than a couple of days use. I’d say that most of my neighbors were expecting no more than a couple of nights and a day or two of bitter cold.

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14. February 2021 · Comments Off on Those Whom The Gods Would Destroy… · Categories: General

… they first make mad, or so goes the popular version of a concept which goes back to the ancient Greeks. They who are on that irrevocable final spiral towards destruction do seem addicted to self-destructive or at least counter-productive behavior – either of the personal or institutional sort. I can’t help wondering if the powers-that-be at Lucasfilm/Disney are entering that death spiral, what with firing Gina Carano from the cast of The Mandalorian for … well, nothing much more than pointing out that the Nazi genocide of Jews started with a program of determined “otherization.” Ms Carano merely drew a parallel which has occurred to many another so-called “Deplorable”, and it certainly has not escaped attention of sharper observers than myself that a chorus of so-called tolerant progressives have been clamoring for the punishment and erasure of Republicans, conservatives, Trump supporters and flyover rural residents, ever louder and with increasing urgency of late. Why she should be singled out for cancellation for pointing out the obvious parallel, other than being in a notoriously prog-sympathetic profession?

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The Daughter Unit clued me in this week to a humongous ruckus which brewed among Air Force contributors to military-oriented discussion boards on Reddit – a ruckus which involves the current Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force – which for the laymen audience, means the very tippy-top enlisted, that singular and exemplary senior NCO who supposedly sits at the right hand of the highest military commanders in the land, to keep them appraised of the interests of the enlisted men and women. The Daughter Unit keeps track of this military ‘gen on a more regular basis than I do, as my two-decades long service was a good while ago, and I walked away from it all and constructed another life and long-term interests in writing, book-blogging and publishing. I will confess to some sentimental feelings for my service, as it provided me with a lot of fun, foreign travel, a decent paycheck and benefits (to include the pension and retirement benefits), a chance to hang out with some amazing people (as well as a soupcon of psychos, amiable freaks and the severely mal-adjusted), and a kind of mental grounding, even a rough sympathy when it comes to people who work for a living and get their hands dirty and their fingernails broken. But enough about me, and my not-particularly-rewarding career as an enlisted minion, toiling away in the bowels of the mighty military public affairs machine some two- or three-decades past.

The office of the Chief Master Sergeant of any service is a huge thing, in all the military forces: the name of the current Chief-Master-Whatever is one of the things military recruits to whatever branch are expected to know and recite on demand when in Basic Training. General officers there are, in legions, and the multi-stars roost en masse like grackles in the highest levels of command – but there is only one Chief Enlisted, for all four (five counting the Coast Guard) military services. This one – CMSAF JoAnne Bass – is the first female to take up that exalted office for any of the services. I wish her the best luck in the world. When I began serving, there weren’t but a bare half-dozen of female senior enlisteds in the Air Force, and a fair number of the junior enlisted that I served with were the first or second females in certain traditionally male specialties which had just been opened to females. Unfortunately, as things are shaping up in the first months of her tour of duty, Chief Bass had better buckle in, as it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy flight. She put her foot wrong, straight off the bat, when a young NCO (innocently, or perhaps not so innocently) inquired on the CMSAF’s FB page as to how her last name was pronounced – like the fish or the musical instrument?   

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05. February 2021 · Comments Off on The Cat Who Reformed · Categories: General

We inherited her from my mother – the last in a series of pedigreed ‘apple-head’ Siamese cats owned by my parents – when Mom fell catastrophically one morning in the kitchen of her house in Valley Center, California, and fractured sufficient bones in her upper spine to render her essentially a paraplegic. The house which Mom and Dad had built (the second on that site in Northern San Diego County), in which Mom had lived alone after Dad passed in 2010, had to be sold. There was practically nothing left of the original family relics, after the first house burned in the Paradise Mountain Fire in 2003, so all the furnishings went without a pang of regret from us. Ancestral bits and scraps which meant anything to us all had already been parceled out before the fire anyway.

But that left Mom’s pets; the dogs, which went to my sister Pip – and two cats, Davy and Isabelle, whom my daughter obediently hauled back to Texas from California. Davy was a stray, a bridle and white specimen, fairly elderly at the time when we took him in. He had been dumped in Mom and Dad’s remote neighborhood, escaped being eaten by coyotes, and scraped sufficient acquaintance with Mom and Dad and their next nearest neighbors to be considered for addition to either household. There may have been a coin-toss involved. Anyway, Davy was added to Mom and Dad’s pet collection – I don’t know whether they won or lost the coin-toss. Davy, having remembered starvation and escape/evasion was determined never to be hungry again, and was a hefty chunk-o-cat by the time he passed away of natural old age a year or so ago.

But this is about the other cat-inheritance, Isabelle.

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We read this with much amusement earlier in the week in the Daily Mail– the lamentations of one Brett Alder, a California sales exec who moved his family to Austin apparently in haste and with minimal to non-existent prior research on his new home, who repented at leisure after a brief year and afterwards (upon moving back to California) expanded on woes and the general shortcomings of Texas in an editorial in Business Insider. The original column is behind a paywall, so unavailable to me, but the Daily Mail posted the list of his lamentations. This brought about considerable hilarity in the comments on the various articles which repeated the story, among Texans. The Daughter Unit and I found the article most particularly amusing – especially me; California born and bred, lived there without interruption (save two trips to Europe) until I joined the military, where for twenty years I moved frequently to new communities and wasted little time or heartburn on making a new home. I’ve lived in Texas since 1995 now, with occasional trips to the formerly-Golden State, the last one in 2010 when Dad passed away and I spent a couple of weeks helping Mom sort out things.

To continue with a fisking of Brett-the-male-Karen’s lamentations on life in Austin:

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I’ve just finished and released into the wild a WWII novel, My Dear Cousin, for which the concept came to me in a dream last July. Since the current year-long plus covidiocy demolished nearly every fall market and holiday event which would otherwise have taken up my time, I set to work and finished it in six months.  As much as is possible, I did my research – and the internet makes the kind of information I needed available at my fingertips: a detailed 1930s map of Singapore, a hand-written diary of a woman who escaped Malaya in early 1942, a breakdown of what constituted the tents and facilities for a frontline Army hospital in 1944, and the newspaper archives of the wartime Singapore Straits Times and Brisbane Courier Mail. All that and more went into an account of the war, as seen through the lives of two cousins, on opposite sides of the world.  Accuracy is what I strive for – and most times, I think I come very close. The rest of this entry is what I felt obliged to include in the notes at the back of the book.

In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. However, this book is, as nearly as I can make it, written with an eye to fidelity to the historical record. I will not cut and tailor my fictional cloth in accordance with current fashion. ‘Presentism’, wherein the accepted fashionable attitudes and conventional opinions of the current day are retrofitted, however unsuited and historically unlikely, onto those characters living in past decades and centuries, is a grim transgression against the art of bringing a past era into life, warts and all. Writing a so-called historical novel merely by placing 21st century characters in different costumes and strange technological shortcomings is a disservice to the past, and a hampering to complete understanding. It’s the past – they did things differently, back then.

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14. January 2021 · Comments Off on The New Book · Categories: General

This would be the WWII novel, which concept came to me in a dream last July, at a point in the morning that when I woke up, I remembered the whole thing – the concept, the names of characters, the whole whackadoodle. So – nothing much else to do, what with the restrictions placed on us by the Commie Covid Crud… we actually had only two autumn and Christmas markets this last year, when we would otherwise have participated in at least half a dozen or eight. So, what better project to work on, than another book? I knocked it out in six months – about twice what it took for the first draft of Truckee, but that I was working on full-tilt for three months. I have heard of certain Golden Age of Science Fiction writers who could knock out a decent 70,000-10,000 world novel in a month, but that was out of pure necessity and they were under contract to a publisher and chained to a typewriter for about eighteen hours a day.

Frankly, I can’t really understand those writers determined to produce The Novel of the Century, and who squeeze out an exquisitely perfectly perfect sentence or two a day, over the course of ten, fifteen or twenty years. It suggests to me that if you have to pummel your writing wits that freaking hard for a decade and a half, maybe you don’t really have a gift for producing appealing content and should perhaps take up poetry, or maybe painting scenic landscapes on a grain of rice, or something. Writers write. Poseurs … pose.

Anyway, the novel is done – and having come up with no better a title than “My Dear Cousin: A Novel in Letters” – there you are. It’s not entirely in letters, though – this is an interesting and challenging conceit, most lately displayed in a best-seller like “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, but it has a long, long history, dating from the original epistolary novel, held by most old-fashioned students of the English novel to have been the first pure novel – Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson. It has been noted, though, that characters in some of the more wordy and later epistolary novels must have spent so much time writing lengthy and exhaustively detailed descriptions of their travails that they must have hardly had any time to undergo them, what with having a pen and ink bottle in hand, twenty-four-seven.

I have a facility for writing letters in the period-appropriate voice of my characters. One of the beta readers for “Truckee” marveled at length over how I managed to perfectly replicate the period tone of the diary and letters, thinking that I had actually located and copied a period diary. “No, Dad – I made it all up,” I said.

So the book will be launched around and about the 20th. It’s not all in letters – there is a good chunk of straight narrative, as well. The general plot, as it will appear in various retail outlets.

When Peggy Becker married Englishman Tommy Morehouse in San Antonio in the spring of 1938, her cousin and best friend Venetia “Vennie” Stoneman was her bridesmaid. After the wedding, Peg and Tommy traveled across the Pacific to Malaya, where Tommy managed his family’s rubber plantation. There they expected to raise a family and live a comfortable and rewarding life among the British expatriates in the tropics, while Vennie returned to Galveston to continue training as a nurse.

The start of the Second World War changed those comfortable, settled lives: Tommy Morehouse became a prisoner of war, Peg barely escaped the fall of Singapore with her small son, and Vennie Stoneman was a nurse in the US Army Nurse Corps, tending to battlefield casualties in North Africa, Italy, and France. In Australia, Peg waits out the war, wondering if her husband will survive brutal captivity by the Japanese, and Vennie risks her own life as an air evacuation nurse. Throughout all, the two women write to each other, of their lives, loves, of Vennie’s patients and comrades, and Peg’s children and the woes of running a wartime household among rationing and rationings of shoes for her children.

There is something more – I’ve been quite a bit frank with regard to other topics. From the historical notes appended at the end:

In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. However, this book is, as nearly as I can make it, written with an eye to fidelity to the historical record. I will not cut and tailor my fictional cloth in accordance with current fashion. ‘Presentism’, wherein the accepted fashionable attitudes and conventional opinions of the current day are retrofitted, however unsuited and historically unlikely, onto those characters living in past decades and centuries, is a grim transgression against the art of bringing a past era into life, warts and all. Writing a so-called historical novel merely by placing 21st century characters in different costumes and strange technological shortcomings is a disservice to the past, and a hampering to complete understanding. It’s the past – they did things differently, back then.

As for wartime feelings, Americans, Britons, Australians, Chinese and other participants, even the ‘inadvertent by reason of geography’ had no reason to think well of the Japanese who made bloody, brutal, and imperial war upon them and plenty of excellent reasons to think ill. A brief list of those reasons begins with the war in China, including the ‘rape of Nanking’ and similar atrocities, the attack on Pearl Harbor while diplomatic negotiations were underway, the opening of aggressive hostilities throughout the Pacific theater of operations, extreme brutalities inflicted on those with the misfortune of living in Japanese occupied countries, and the horrific treatment of interned civilians and captured military by the Japanese. The most charitable comment which one can make on this all is that at least they were ecumenical in administering barbaric treatment to all those unlucky to experience the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere at first hand. Americans are, or at least used to be, conversant with the Bataan Death march, but that was just one of the gruesome atrocities against Allied POWs during the war front in the Pacific. Even ghastlier than the Bataan forced march of POWs was the Sandakan Death March, a series of forced marches which took place towards the end of the war on Borneo. Internees and POWs were forced by the retreating Japanese Army to abandon a massive camp at Sandakan airfield and retreat 160 miles through the jungle with them. Of 2,500 British and Australian POWs at the start of those marches, only six men survived by escaping during the confusion. Ritual cannibalism, medical experimentation on living prisoners, mass forced prostitution of women, the deliberate sinking of the AHS Centaur by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Brisbane, massacres of medical personnel and patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Singapore, mass executions of native military there and in Hong Kong, the execution of civilian and military personnel on Bangka Island, the executions of American POWs at Palawan towards the end of the war when all seemed to be lost for the Japanese, the horrific treatment and the death rates of impressed civilian laborers and POWs on the Burma-Siam railway, the wanton destruction of Manila… All of these and even uglier accounts of Japanese brutality were publicized in the last months and weeks of the war, just as the reality of German concentration and extermination camps emerged earlier in 1945. Knowledge of these horrors was why contemporary opinion approved with mild reservations the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even if many were startled by the suddenness of the events, baffled by the science, and apprehensive regarding the implications of atomic weapons.

A further element had to do with knowing how fanatical Japanese resistance had been in New Guinea, on Guadalcanal, on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. An invasion of the Japanese home islands could only be much, much worse. And yet, planning for such an invasion went forward. Part of that planning involved a massive order of 1.5 million Purple Heart medals, in expectation of a huge number of American casualties. That backlog of medals was not drawn down sufficiently for another order until 2008; this after the end of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada and two wars in Gulf and the many pinprick casualties from random terrorism over the following seven decades. Knowing that the cost in blood and human lives would be almost unbearably high for a ground invasion of Japan, among the invading troops, the defending Japanese and the hapless Japanese civilians, the choice for atomic bombing was a necessary albeit cruel calculation. Japanese cities were being pounded unmercifully by American bombing, with destruction and death by many conventional bombs equal to a single atomic bomb … I’m on the side of those historians who believe that turning segments of Nagasaki and Hiroshima into radioactive glass saved lives. A cruel calculation, but one which saved the lives of Allied soldiers who would otherwise have died in an invasion, the lives of Japanese civilians who would have been thrown into the maelstrom and saved the lives of prisoners and internees all across the Japan-occupied territories who were about two weeks from being killed by starvation or hours and minutes of being murdered outright.

Imagine, if you will; how it would have gone if President Truman had let the invasion of Japan go ahead – with all the casualties; the massive deaths of soldiers, civilians, prisoners, and internees … and then finding out that all that torment could have been avoided by dropping two bombs on Japanese cities (cities already being systematically destroyed by conventional bombing). No, the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, as many of these historical choices come down to – the least worst choice of the lot. This is why practically everyone who would have had a real stake in this choice – their lives, the lives of those whom they loved and who would now survive because of it – heaved a sigh of relief at the outcome of a mushroom-shaped cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A perilous choice and one with regrets attached. Because of that decision, they and the ones whom they loved – would live.

13. January 2021 · Comments Off on These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls · Categories: General

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Thomas Paine, The Crisis No. I – December 1776

Frankly, it’s a time which try women’s souls, as well – not just being disenfranchised en masse, but having the Establishment News Presstitutes and the Tech Oligarchs gag all mention of conservative simmering unhappiness and discontent in the major media, and chopping off access to social media for designated so-called ‘thought criminals’ in response to a relatively benign – that is, relatively benign in comparison to what has been going on all year in cities that are prog strongholds – a massive protest at the US Capitol. I’m fairly certain that the ruling political oligarchs had the snot scared out of them last Wednesday, when protestors overran the Capitol building. Here’s my tiny violin to play “My Heart Bleeds For You”, and my dainty Victorian lace-trimmed linen handkerchief to sop up the tears. (And BTW, one of those protesters was shot, fatally, by … well, er, someone, whose’ identity is yet unknown, prompting the observation that if he were a regular policeman and shot a protester of color in a prog-run city he would have his identity instantly spread all over the Presstitute Media, along with his home address, his spouses’ employer and the name of the school that his kids attended. But never mind…)

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12. January 2021 · Comments Off on Stolen From the Internet · Categories: General

Yeah, I just deleted my Twitter account. More than past time, and I hope that Jack Dorsey goes back to living in a tent on the highway verge.

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About those new house projects for this year – the main one now outstanding is the windows, and I hope to hear from the installing company sometime next week. I have already made a down payment on the windows, and the holidays are done, and all the holiday ornaments put away, so someday soon …

The thing is that the big window in the front bedroom will be knocked out entirely and replaced with a pair of French doors. Early in this new year I want to put a short run of privacy fence with a gate in it from the corner of the garage to the gatepost to my next-door neighbor’s yard – a gatepost which was built out of the same bricks as the brick trim on my house. I can only think that there must have been half a pallet of bricks left over from by house, and the original owner of my neighbors’ place had the builders use them for ornamental gateposts to their house. This would enclose a small private patio, opening from the front bedroom, which would about double the living space in the front bedroom – that is, when the weather is temperate. (Which it is, for seven or eight months in a year, Blue Northers notwithstanding.)

Because the window installers will be knocking out the wall underneath the existing window – well, what better time for us to take out the drywall all around that window and see about installing more bookshelves between the studs on either side and above the new French doors, as we did this last year in the hallway. This is a household of books – a great many books and a relatively small house, so efficient use of space is always appreciated. Although it’s an outside wall, the outside side is brick throughout – so, no biggie, insulation-wise. We’re interested to see how much is lacking as regarding studs on that wall, having tried to hang curtain rods over that window, and failed to find a stud at one corner to secure the curtain rod into. (We suspect there were corners cut in building this house. I have utterly failed to find any studs in the wall between my bedroom and the walk-in closet on the other side of that room. Yes, I did do a series of exploratory holes with a pin-hole sized drill, and never did find a stud … that wall is going to be another floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, eventually.).

You see, my daughter is going to give birth to a child in late May, or early June – a grandson, whose name will be James Alexander Page – Jamie, for short. Until my daughter has her real estate license and has done enough business to afford her own place for herself and Jamie, they will have to share that room, which is nice enough for a woman and baby – but the Daughter Unit has determined that she must have her own place by the time Jamie is kindergarten age. Until then, the front room and the little patio will be their space. Other families live quite happily in even smaller spaces, so we’re OK with this. We have a single bed and a nice crib already on the way. Since we’re committed to the French doors and patio, no better time to redo the whole room – cover the nasty popcorn ceiling texture with bead board and cornice molding, and the floor with a continuation of the vinyl flooring that we used last year in the hall. A project indeed. Maybe even repaint the whole room while we’re at it. Although since we’ll be working with Roman the Neighborhood Handy Guy, whose’ work schedule is erratic and subject to constant rescheduling, I suspect this project will take at least a couple of weeks.  

29. December 2020 · Comments Off on Anchorites · Categories: General

We are commanded by our so-called experts in this age of the Chinese Corona Crud, to live the enclosed life as a sort of secular anchorite, walled into our little singular cells, supplied by regular deliveries passed in through one narrow passage to the outside, and to spend our days contemplating the televised media worship of the narrative du jour through the window into the shrine of our authoritative masters. Or at least, those who call themselves our masters, although I am certain that’s not the term which they use for themselves. ‘Experts’, ‘scientists’ ‘elected* leaders’ – that’s probably how they term themselves, commanding us to stay at home, eschew social gatherings (although violent BLMAntifa protests are perfectly OK), church services, seeing a movie, getting sit-down dinner inside a restaurant, walking in a public park, hanging out on a beach … all through fear of the rampaging and almost-always-fatal Chinese Corona Crud. To add insult to the injury, those political leaders, to a man, woman and whatever, don’t seem to feel any need to observe their own dictates; traveling freely to their vacation homes, meeting up for holidays with family, going out to supper with friends to the French Laundry, getting haircuts, and omitting the wear of what I’ve begun to call the FFD (the F**king Face Diaper). Really, it’s as if they are getting their jollies out of flaunting their authority and privilege in our FFD’d faces.

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Who are you? What do you want? Where are you going? Whom do you serve – and whom do you trust?! – TV Series Crusade

I’m an American, of mostly Anglo-English descent, who mostly wants to be left alone to pursue happiness and a modicum of fame as a writer of historical or comic fiction. Frankly, if I am going anywhere, it’s slightly crazy, and as for whom I serve, my family, good friends and close neighbors, more or less in that order. As for whom I trust …

Not as many as I once did. One by one by one, the people and institutions which I once assumed to be competent, honest, and worthy of my trust and respect have revealed themselves to be corrupt, shallow, incompetent, partisan and cynical users of those ordinary American citizens like me.

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The Daughter Unit – who is an even more die-hard conservative than I am – and I have been coming to terms with what happened last week, in the wake of the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, we were distressed, disbelieving, and horrified at how that has gone. And then we were both deeply angry. It’s an anger that I have trouble quantifying, when all is said, considered and done.

Look, we’ve known for years about dirty deeds done with sheep and ballot boxes … especially the ones that show up out of the clear blue. LBJ notoriously got elected by a couple of those, early on. It’s also pretty strongly suggested that JFK got the 1960 election because of fraud at the polls, and Nixon didn’t want to make a big thing out of contesting it, because … reasons. Patriotic reasons, for which he never got any credit at all.

But this latest is just too obvious. Too blatant. Too ‘in your face, and what are you gonna do about it, you lying dogface pony soldier?’ The roughly-reported evidence of ballot boxes appearing out of the blue in the wee hours, of so-called “glitches” transmuting Republican votes to Democrat, of Republican observers told to go home it’s all over – while the fraudulent counting goes on in a closed room. Goes on, and on, and on …

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02. November 2020 · Comments Off on Set Piece · Categories: General

am increasingly convinced – especially over the last few months – that the national news media, with the assistance of a wide swath of academia and those in the business of providing entertainment, are and have been for years constructing a kind of stage set which in their minds represents America. Fake buildings, fake trees with plastic leaves, a painted sky backdrop, concrete boulders and buildings which are either three-fourths actual size or mere painted false fronts with curtains or blinds hung in empty windows. In front of these sets, between the fake trees and the concrete boulders, all sorts of improbable and gruesome things are happening – race riots, fiery car crashes, anti-capitalist social unrest, cartloads of dead from the Commie Covid Virus rolled through the streets, and meanwhile Joe Biden is an honest and upright long-serving member of Senate and former VP who never put a foot wrong, and Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and respected woman ever, Michelle Obama a glamorous and tasteful former First Lady, and meanwhile the whole United States is rancorous with race-hatred, and everyone who has ever attended regular religious services is panting to transform all society into The Handmaids’ Tale.

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15. September 2020 · Comments Off on Where They Burn… · Categories: General

“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.” – wrote the 19th century German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine. Or in English, “Where they burn books, in the end they will also burn men.” I’d update the line to say – “Where they burn cities, they’ll burn the countryside, too.”

And since Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators have been busily setting fires in urban protests, attempting to set fire to police stations, throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks, and incinerating whole city blocks, businesses, pawnshops and bookstores alike, can one really blame residents of rural and small-town Oregon for assuming the worst and suspecting that the catastrophic fires scorching the west coast have a man-made origin? It’s a logical assumption to make, after six months of threats, violence, and deliberate urban arson. It’s not a great leap of imagination on the part of rural residents to assume that Antifa/BLM would move on after having comprehensively fouled their urban strongholds, especially if it meant striking hard at generally more conservative rural and small-town Americans in a way which would hurt, and hurt badly. My parents lost a house and everything in it, in the Paradise Mountain fire in 2003, a fire which was widely suspected to have been started as an illicit bonfire on reservation land. My parents were able to rebuild and counted themselves lucky that all they lost were things; they escaped with their lives and pets, didn’t lose a business or anything that couldn’t be replaced, unlike some of their neighbors.

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03. August 2020 · Comments Off on Consulting My Magic 8-Ball · Categories: General

So, last week the Daughter Unit asked me when the new civil war would kick into high gear. Note she said ‘when’ not ‘if’ – for we’ve been in a cold civil war for some time now. I’d say this cold civil war became manifest with upsurge of Tea Party demonstrations in 2009, and has rumbled along all through the Obama administration, building up reservoirs of bitter anger and resentment ever since. My personal SWAG is that things will get interesting (and even more interesting for certain values of interesting) late in the evening of November 3,2020, when the polls close and the first election results are reported.

And no, it won’t make a particle of difference who wins; Trump or Biden, or whoever has replaced Biden as the Great Dem Party Hope. My sidebar prediction is that the higher echelons of the Democrat Party will realize, probably shortly following the party caucus to be held sometime this month, that Joe Biden has finally and definitively lost track of his single remaining marble, and that there is no possible and convincing way that he can be propped up as a viable candidate. Whoever has the VP nomination will move up to the top of the ticket and one of the remaining hopefuls will be a replacement. For all we know, the Dem Party higher-ups may even have decided that what the hell, they don’t have serious hope at all for 2020, and are only naming candidates for this year with an eye towards establishing visibility and a track record for 2024.

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19. July 2020 · Comments Off on Ephemeral Amusements · Categories: General

The Daughter Unit was a little over two years old when we went to live in Greece, and almost kindergarten age when we left, and during that period we lived in a second-floor apartment in suburban Athens and hardly ever watched television. (I had a television set, but it was 110v, and Greece was a 220v country, and anyway, I was almost never at home in the evenings, the exception being when we went to our neighbors to watch Jewel in the Crown when it aired with subtitles on Greek TV.) This was at a time before wide-spread adoption of video players, before cable, way before streaming video. It was, in bald point of fact, rather like the three to five broadcast channels available when I was growing up. So, no, I didn’t miss TV much, and nor did the Daughter Unit, because we had books.

Heaps and heaps of books; my parents took the opportunity of the Daughter Unit being a military dependent and entitled to have her personal items shipped to Greece gratis to include almost all of the kid-lit that Mom had accumulated for my brothers and sister and I. (Mom and Dad were in the process of moving into a travel trailer parked on the building site of their eventual retirement home, and so took every opportunity to down-size what they didn’t need or want. Like … that part of the personal library.) Off that shipment went to Athens, augmented with new books that I bought through an English mail-order service which offered lovely catalogs aimed mostly at expatriates whiling away the decades in locations devoid of English-language bookstores, and a children’s bookstore in what passed for a mall in Voula or Vouliagmeni, which featured Greek, English and I think German and French-language books. It was a small place, barely one twenty-foot square room in size, with each wall dedicated to a language. I am pretty certain that I bought the Daughter Unit’s favorite comic book series there; the Asterix and Obelix books.

Asterix and Obelix; the series was translated from the French original and available everywhere in Europe; an epic and pun-laden series of books about the heroes; Asterix the canny warrior, his sidekick, the hefty menhir-deliveryman Obelix, and all the residents of the lone Gaulish village holding out against the Roman invaders, thanks to a magical potion brewed up by the Druid Getafix. Asterix and Obelix lived to beat up or out-wile the Romans, have adventures in far exotic lands, and to eat wild boar, presumably nicely roasted, crunchy and with appropriate sauces at a feast to follow their triumphant return. The illustrations were colorful and even surprisingly accurate when it came to Roman art and architecture, and the adventures were easy to follow. They became my daughter’s favorite bedtime story material, mostly because she could follow along. Not for her bland and simplistic materiel like Dr. Seuss; no, not when there were Romans and indomitable Gauls. (True Fact: in the midst of our road-trip through Europe in the autumn of 1985, when I told her that we were about to cross over from Germany into France, which used to be called ‘Gaul’ she perked up and asked if we were going to meet any Indominable Gauls.)

During that wandering journey, she encountered other fans of Asterix; a German teenager in Baden-Baden, who alternated with the Daughter Unit in naming all the cast of reoccurring characters – Getafix the Druid, Vitalstatistix the chieftain, Cacofonix the Bard, Fullyautomatix the blacksmith, Geriatrix the tribe’s senior citizen, and Asterix’s canine pet Dogmatix. In a small town on the edge of the Morvan national park in central France, we walked by a community billboard where there were pictures posted of a recent parade – for Bastille Day, perhaps? Among them was a home-made float on a towed trailer, and an assortment of children and teenagers dressed as characters from the series on the float. The Daughter Unit, of course, recognized them right away. All across Europe, she spotted the series on sale (the covers are very distinctive) and asked for the issues that she hadn’t seen, and of course I had to confess that … I couldn’t buy her those particular volumes, since they were in Italian or French.

And that, my friends – is how the Daughter Unit learned to read. From the English translations of a French comic book series.

18. July 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

The partial haul of Goya products from HEB and the local Hispanic supermarket.

Why, yes, I like Goya Foods. The mojo crillo marinade on a pork roast was superb!
09. July 2020 · Comments Off on Consequences · Categories: General

Do you know, I am thinking that the current wokster crowd knows nothing of the concept of actions having consequences, sometimes of the fatal sort, and now and again of the professional kind. (Yeah, Sgt. Mom, welcome to the freaking obvious, I can hear some of you thinking…) But it’s both sad and infuriating to read of incidents such as that child in an adult body; presumed to be a Harvard graduate and accepted to an internship at a major international accounting firm … blowing all that by going all stabby-stabby-encounter on social media about theoretical opposition to her not-terribly-well thought out position as regards to racism against the black and woke, not to mention near to illiterate levels of grammar and spelling. Silly child, welcome to the 21st century, and let me break it to you that the internet is forever, as long as certain clever people make screen-grabs of your woke idiocy. What you post on social media goes far and wide, and even to the ken of people like … potential employers.(And also that whatever you and/or your parents laid out for Harvard tuition was not money well-spent. Just my .02.)

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19. June 2020 · 1 comment · Categories: General

I had in mind the deliberate destruction of religious icons, and a vague memory of it having happened at least once in the Russian or Eastern Orthodox church in the medieval period; such things being, in the judgment of the sternly orthodox, ungodly and unsuitable, and therefore to be expunged … but it seems that spasms of righteous destruction are almost a human constant, across culture and time. The current passion for defacing and destroying public monuments – and not just those memorializing Confederate heroes – turns out to be not all that new and revolutionary. (channeling Private Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise.)

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11. June 2020 · Comments Off on Saying “No” · Categories: General

I lifted a graphic from last weekends’ Powerline Week in Pictures, and posted it on my Facebook feed (where I post only anodyne stuff and things to do with my books, home improvements, and social schedule) which pretty much sums up how I’m feeling this week. Kermit the Frog stares out a rain-drop-misted window, and says, “Sounds Like Thunder Outside – But With the Way 2020 is Going, It Could Be Godzilla.”

Even before one could draw a breath of relief that the Chinese Commie Crud had not ravaged the US population anything like the 1918 Spanish Flu did, and that life was returning to something like normal, what with businesses slowly reopening – here came the stomping behemoth of violent protests and race-riots, in the wake of the death (possibly caused by drugs rather than the apparent mistreatment) of a long-time violent criminal of color at the hands of a white police officer.

This entire brutal and grotesque encounter was on video and understandably condemned as unacceptable overreaction on the part of the officer by just about every reasonable person of any color who watched it. Serious concerns regarding the militarization of police have been raised for at least a decade among thoughtful citizens, what with so many instances of police barging into houses in no-knock and full SWAT mode (often the wrong house, and opening fire indiscriminately), of abusing civil forfeiture statutes and traffic fines as a means of making budget. This concern was exacerbated by resentment during the Chinese Commie Crud lockdown enforcing social distancing – like pursuing a solitary paddle-boarder, all alone on the ocean, and going all-out on parents tossing a softball in a park with their kid.

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05. June 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

I’m tired, Tired of playing the game Ain’t it a crying shame I’m so tired…

Oops, there I go, channeling Lili Van Shtüpp, the Teutonic Titwillow from the movie Blazing Saddles – which cinematic offering must be about the last time we were allowed to meditate on matters racial in a mainstream entertainment offering with wit, good humor and malice towards none. Sad to say, that movie could not have been made in the last ten years, and certainly not this week. The social media meltdown would achieve nuclear levels even before production began, and by premier time would sink through the mantle of Earth to the burning core of it’s molten center, which I wouldn’t mind observing from a safe distance. Because I am tired.
Tired of a lot of things, so tired that I have gone beyond being polite and considerate of others’ feelings. Of what am I tired? Oh, liebling, let me begin the list …

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01. June 2020 · Comments Off on Deja-Poo · Categories: General

Why, yes, as a matter of fact – I have seen this sh*t before; several times, as a matter of fact. The first go round of racial/political rioting, looting, arson and general mayhem that I took notice of was that long hot summer of ’68, interspersed with political assassinations and anti-Vietnam War protests, although the Watts riot had taken place three years before. I was fourteen in the year of ’68 mayhem, and already well-aware of current events, through reading the Los Angeles Times when it was still a great and meaningful newspaper. Mom also had subscriptions to Harpers’ and Atlantic Monthly, when they also were still solid and more or less centrist publications, and although Mom and Dad didn’t watch TV news regularly, Granny Jessie did. I believe that it was sometime during that late summer, watching coverage of the riot attendant on the Democrat Party national convention, that I remarked to Granny Jessie that it seemed as if the world were all seriously going to Hell. Recall that I was only fourteen, and had led a comfortable, fairly sheltered middle-class life. Violence was something only seen t a distant remove as part of the plot in movies and TV adventure shows (and pretty anodyne, considering what I would have seen in them back then) and the real-life violence played out on the TV news was shocking. Granny Jessie replied, “It always seems that way, I guess.” Her tone was so jaded, and world-weary, I found it actually rather comforting.

Granny Jessie had seen two world wars and a world-wide depression in her time, plus Prohibition, the Korean War, and the early civil rights campaigns. Perhaps a sense of proportion was called for.
She was right, pretty much. Life went on from then after the summer of ‘68, in the way that it usually has, from day to day in the Shire, in spite of temporary hiccups. For the great number of us, life is that way, in spite of wars’ alarms and natural disasters.

The understanding that I am getting around to is that urban riots are not a good thing, long-term, especially not for the residents of those neighborhoods where said riots take place. Detroit was wracked by race riots two years running in 1967 and ’68; together with the collapse of the auto industry (and a simply awesome degree of civic mismanagement) this killed a once-prosperous city as an industrial powerhouse. As hard as local efforts to rebuild and reconstruct try … once a city or a neighborhood has been blasted by a destructive race riot, the earth has been salted. Especially if the city authorities keep giving way to anger-motivated activists. And if those activists keep doing the same destructive thing, over and over again, without care for long-term consequences.
The current civic riots – can I call them the Floyd Riots? Following pretty much the same pattern that I recollect. A righteous cause, local indignation … and a soupcon of professional traveling activists putting in their two cents worth of bricks and destruction … and there you have civic ruin on the installment plan. Deliberate? As a commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place posted:

“Mayhap I’ve got my tinfoil hat wrapped a weeeeeee bit too tight, but … Is it just me, or is the timing of each of these crises just a tad convenient? As in the moment one crisis finally begins losing steam and people start moving on with their lives and things begin returning to normal, BOOM! New crisis! They’re able to drag out the Mueller Report and Impeachment for almost four months, and then as soon as they can’t pretend that they have a case anymore, BOOM! WUHAN KUNG-FLU GONNA KILL US ALL! And then as soon as the WHO and CDC can no longer convincingly fudge the numbers and states start reopening (whether their petty tyrant governors want them to or not), BOOM! Race riots that are somehow being instigated by white supremacists in predominantly black neighborhoods in every major city, all at once. And pallets of loose bricks just randomly happen to appear *poof!* out of thin air in the exact spots where rioters just randomly happen to decide to congregate? Yeah, why am I not buying that any of this shit is spontaneous and “organic?”

So … Antifa organized, lefty-symp organized, with the willing cooperation of the local racial agitator crowd? It seems that the more observant of those are realizing that they’re being used like a rented mule, with their own neighborhoods, stores and small enterprises being trashed in service to the larger narrative, and meanwhile, the celebrity crowd falls all over themselves, nobly kicking in bail for the arrested. Interesting times, no? Comment and testify as you wish.

29. May 2020 · Comments Off on Hitting a Limit · Categories: General

I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly tolerant person; my name isn’t Karen and I don’t feel any particular need to speak to the manager. In this I take after the maternal grandmother; the one who never made scenes upon receiving bad or abusive customer service. The paternal grandmother would and did, although in Granny Dodie’s defense, she didn’t take umbrage over small and inadvertent offenses and usually got some kind of satisfaction or apology from indulging in recreational Karenism. Granny Jessie would gather up her dignity, depart the scene of the offense quietly … and then never, ever return. No threats, no other complaint, no talk with the manager. Granny Jessie was just gone and relentless in determination to never darken that door again.

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11. May 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

As I retired from a relatively uneventful career in the peacetime Air Force in 1997, I’ve been out of the military for longer than I was in it. I don’t hang around so much in military veteran circles online as I did early in the decade afterwards, when my daughter was serving in the Marines after 9/11 and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. But she does venture into veteran social media circles, on a local basis through organizations and outlets like Bourbiz, Grunt Style, Ranger Up, and Black Rifle Coffee … and she called my attention to what amounts to a dumpster fire ongoing in veteran circles. Holy heck, it’s more a raging nuclear inferno than your plain ordinary social media dumpster fire. Read the series of articles, she said, it’s jaw-dropping – and so I did. Oh. My. G*d. I thought the Vietnam-era “stolen valor” incidents so thoroughly documented in this book were the far frozen limit, but this Steele character appears to have ventured into hitherto unexplored dimensions. More »