Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bill O'Reilly And Celebrity Psychosis

I'm listening to Mike Nesmith's autobiography, Infinite Tuesday, these days. Mike was one of the Monkees, in case you didn't know. The book is painfully honest and that gives it tremendous charm. More on that in another blog post, perhaps.

Mike coins the term, "Celebrity Psychosis," to describe what happens to you when you become a big star. You turn into something of a psychotic and it comes to dominate your life if you don't fight it tooth and nail, which most people can't. It's what causes celebrities to park their cars in fire lanes and be deeply offended when the car gets towed. It makes then scream at paparazzi and then pose for photographers to make sure their face is seen in all the right places. You take advantage of those around you because you feel entitled, entitled to everything.

Bill O'Reilly seems to have succumbed to CP. I have to admit that I never watched him, save for catching some Dennis Miller clips on YouTube. I loved his book, Killing Jesus, but I thought his rants and his show to be insufferable. As the stories come out about his behavior, which I must admit I'm watching only tangentially, they're echoes of stories Mike tells in his book about his own horrible actions. Bill O'Reilly never stopped himself because, well, "Don't you know who I am?"

One wonders who Mike or Bill or Bill Cosby, for that matter, might have become in the absence of celebrity. Decent people, probably. Mike Nesmith finds redemption and one hopes both of the Bills will as well.

In Infinite Tuesday, I've just reached the point where MTV was created. Interestingly enough, the genesis of it was this music video that Mike put together to play on European channels as a promo for one of his albums. Up to that point, pop clips, as they were called, were just the artist lip-synching to the song and had no action or plot at all. By comparison, Rio is positively inspired. Enjoy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spanish Flu

My cold is really dragging me down right now. One of my coworkers is starting to get it, too. Sometimes when this happens, I wonder if it's the start of an epidemic and we'll be patient zero in something like the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. We won't, of course, but it makes you wonder what it was like as it started. You've got to figure that the first people who came down with it blew it off as just another flu or cold.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living In Mein Kampf

From an article by Republican political operative Ed Rogers on the recent special Congressional election in Georgia wherein the Democrats, funded lavishly by outside money, fell just short of taking the seat, comes this sentence, the 4th one into the piece.
It seems strange, but today’s liberals invested a huge amount of money, media attention, and hopes and dreams in a 30-year-old straight, white Southern male.
Mein Kampf is a horrible book, and not just for the meat of its content. It's ignorant, bombastic and badly written, accurately reflecting the lousy mind from which it sprung. It also shows that no one felt comfortable editing der future-Führer's work. Had a decent editor taken a whack at it, they might have asked him to do more research, add counter-arguments and debate them and, for the love of God, delete whole sections of utter bollocks.

I feel like we're in that world right now, one of unedited, histrionic, race-crazed rubbish. When Ed Rogers, a guy who probably thinks oatmeal is too spicy, feels the need to whip out the white male card four sentences into an utterly forgettable piece, you know we've entered Spandau Prison and are all pacing back and forth in front of our secretaries, waving our arms and ranting wildly about der Volk.

All of us.

I have the beginnings of a cold today. Praise Jesus for Nyquil because that wonder drug helped me sleep last night and I might avoid the worst of the sickness. I just bought a spring suit (short-limbed wetsuit) and am looking forward to getting back into boogie boarding. At work, I'm thoroughly enjoying being more technical again and have found that I enjoy server configuration and programming. Newcastle United is threatening a late-season collapse that could keep them out of the English Premier League next year, which would be tragic for me.

There is nothing, nothing at all in my life that has anything even remotely to do with der Volk, be they schwarz, weiß oder braun.

What kind of strange, surreal world do we inhabit these days? It's like every story, every opinion piece has to trot out racial facts in the first few lines. Meanwhile, our daily lives are almost completely unaffected by it.

It's enough to make you stop reading and watching the stuff. Which I have done, save for some guilty pleasure time wherein I consume it like I would candy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Prayer And Used Cars

So my friend who had cancer, for whom I was praying and had given up beer, turned out to be alright. The tumors were benign. The affected organ had to come out no matter what, but the results were the best possible. That got me to thinking.

Have you ever bought a used car and later wondered if you could have gotten it for less?

Maybe I didn't need to say a Rosary every day and give up beer. Maybe a Rosary every other day and just give up double IPAs...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ayn Rand And The KKK

How's that for a click-baity title?

I'm currently thoroughly enjoying this biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest (NBF).

NBF was perhaps the most successful Confederate general of the war. If I recall the quote correctly, General Sherman once said, "Even if it took the lives of 10,000 men and bankrupted the Union, that man needs to be caught and killed!" NBF fought with crazed ferocity and was personally credited with killing 30 Union troopers in hand-to-hand combat. NBF's cavalry was feared and rightly so.

That's interesting, but it's not the point. Prior to the war, NBF was a slave trader in Memphis. With the supply of new slaves from Africa cut off as of the early 1800s, slaves were extremely valuable, fetching over $1000 each which today would be on the order of $30,000. The book details his trading and treatment of the slaves and it's quite illuminating. For example, he very rarely separated mothers and children. This was not due to a kind heart, it was a strictly business decision. Young children separated from their mothers did poorly, lowering their price. The same went for mothers whose children had been sold away.

Slaves were seen as livestock. Just as you wouldn't mistreat a prized horse, you certainly didn't mistreat a slave if it could be avoided, slaves being worth many multiples of almost any horse. That's not to say that punishment for infractions wasn't severe, it's just that the slaves were one of the largest investments, if not the largest investment of any enterprise.

Therein lies the connection to Ayn Rand's philosophies. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a true Randian. He did things for money and family and not much else. Up until his last years, he was an unbeliever and there's no indication in the book that he possessed any moral framework outside of his self-interest and his love for his family.

From an Objectivist point of view, why was what NBF did wrong? He was working to maximize economic value, wasn't he? He acted out of cold, impersonal logic and followed no superstitions. That it led him to trade in slaves, defend the Confederacy and become the first Grand Wizard of the KKK after the war seems immaterial to any objections a Randian might raise.

Wouldn't it have made for a more interesting novel if, in Atlas Shrugged, some of the people of Galt's Gulch had owned slaves? Without God and objective morality from a source outside ourselves, why shouldn't they?

Nathan Bedford Forrest fighting to defend his right to make dollars at the expense of human lives. Today, he might have been a board member at Planned Parenthood.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Peaceful Repose

I have a different post written in my head comparing Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ayn Rand, but I don't have the time to type it out, so this lovely photo of our Maximum Leader, Maddi, lying on a cherry floor will have to do. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

What could be more Easter-y than a huge patch of lovely, yellow wildflowers? We saw these while taking the Catican Guards out for maneuvers at Mission Trails Park.

Enjoy and God bless!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why Even Bother With A DSLR?

... when you can get shots like this with your phone.


I tried getting crane fly shots with my Nikon D60 Artillery Piece in macro mode and ended up disappointed. I took two hipshots with my Galaxy S7 and got this one.

I left it big, so I think it's worth a click. You can really see the structure of the wings and the segments on the body. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ladies, It's Important To Let Your Man Pick The Restaurant

... and it should go something like this.
Wife: "Let's go out to eat tonight."

Me: "Great, let's do it!"

Wife: "You pick this time. What sounds good to you?"

Me: "How about Japanese?"

Wife: "No"

Me: "Southern?" 
Wife: "No."

Me: "BBQ?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Indian?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Korean?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Steak?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Cajun?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Brew pub?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Chinese?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "How about Italian?"

Wife: "But you hate Italian."

Me: "Yes, but I know it's something you like and at this point, I'm more worried about starving to death."

Wife: "OK, Italian it is!"

Me, under my breath: "Well, at least I got to pick. (Sigh)"
And that, my fairer readers, is how it's done. ;-)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Plastic Bags And Surgery

A dear friend of mine just went through kidney removal surgery. It had shown masses in it and, as organ cancers are really nasty, the doctors insisted on removal. He went through the surgery easily, still has one good kidney and, best of all, his pathology report came back benign. Woot!

He described the surgery to me. They make an incision under the kidney, wrap it in a plastic bag and then pull it out in the bag.

A plastic bag?!? How did they discover that? Can't you just see the whiteboard at the experimental surgery hospital?

Options for Kidney Removal

  • Turkey baster
  • BBQ tongs
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic bag
Yep, that's the one!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Uncertainty Is The Policy

Jonah Goldberg, whom I respect immensely, approves of the the missile strike on Syria, but doesn't see anything but chaos, confusion and unfocused behavior after that.
If I may extend Krauthammer’s metaphor a bit: A staple of nearly every Western with a new sheriff in town is the nefarious saloon full of scoundrels and women of easy virtue. The new lawman comes in and fires a warning shot in the air. The piano player pauses. The bartender freezes.

And the sheriff says . . . ?

Well that’s just it, isn’t it? Trump got everyone’s attention with those 59 Tomahawk missiles. But he doesn’t seem interested in telling us how to interpret them.
As much as I love Jonah, I think he's missing the point. He's right in that there's no Trump policy; inconsistent statements by his people show that conclusively. What he's missing is that Trump's lack of core beliefs is itself a policy. His policy is whatever he wants right now. His willingness to use the awesome power of the US means his whims have enormous weight, hence China putting 100,000+ troops on the North Korean border.

To continue Jonah's analogy, the sheriff shoots some bad guy's horse, glares around, makes some crazy statements about not liking this or that and then goes back to his office. What does it all mean, the townsfolk wonder. Who knows? Just don't get on his bad side! You have no idea what might set him off, but you know he's perfectly willing to shoot your horse, your dog or even you.

Now I think it's unfair to say Trump has no policy. He doesn't work in detailed policy statements, he works in broad directions. If you doubt that, check out his appointments. They might not know the details of what he wants, but it's clear that jobs is the most important thing domestically and respect is the most important thing internationally.

Is that so bad?


Something like this.

The Great Crane Fly Invasion Of 2017

... is almost over. Due to our extraordinarily wet winter, we had a huge bloom of crane flies. I tried to get photos, but only a few turned out even halfway decent. The camera had a hard time focusing on their tiny bodies and I didn't manually focus because I'm lazy. Here's a selection of 6 photos, 2 from a live one on the wall and 4 from a dead one.

To me, they look like little caterpillars with wings and spindly legs. Which they are. As I understand it, as flyers, all they do is mate, lay eggs and die. They last for about a week in this state.

Aside: For those who have been kind to me and concerned about my recent catastrophe, I've managed to work it down from a grand piano being dropped on me to being hit in the head with a thrown brick. The key to defusing the problem was to be honest and gentle and realize that I could always get angry and vengeful tomorrow.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. Well, as much as anyone can enjoy pictures of dead, spindly insects.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reading Linux Logs Is Easy

Have you ever thought something was black magic and available solely to experts only to discover that it's pretty straightforward? I just had that experience today with logs in Linux.

Back in the day, I was very technical - mathematics, programming, technical writing, etc. These days I'm far less so, but once in a while I need to pitch in and it's good to find out I can still do it if required.

Moral of the story: Don't sell yourself short! Sure, some things will be beyond you, but at least give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Know You've Turned The Corner

... it's when you can start empathizing with others again.

I got whacked with a staggering setback late Thursday afternoon and have been blogging my recovery experiences since then. I apologize to my regular readers who are looking for my normal, hypocritical, uninformed snark. I promise I'll get back to having opinions on things I don't understand soon. For right now, as this blog is a learning tool for me, I want to share the journey from grand-piano-falling-on-me to emotional and mental normalcy.

As blows go in my life, this is in the top 10, maybe as high as #5. It's been a long, strange trip from birth to today. The really big blows have given me perspective and balance, so this one was devastating, but, taken in proportion with the others, not the end of the world.

I tell our kids not to sweat failure because you can recover from almost anything and this is no different.

By the way, next time you have to face a personal hurricane in your life, check out this reddit thread wherein people share the worst things that have ever happened to them. I've got two events in my life that can match most of these examples for sheer horribleness, but some of these are just over-the-top crazy awful. All you want to do is hug and listen to these people and let them know they're loved.

Therein lies the corner-turning.

I was at Mass with my lovely and supportive wife last night, in the pew behind a good friend and his wife. I suddenly had an overpowering urge to take him out for beers and have him tell me about the worst thing(s) that ever happened to him. I didn't want to unload on him, I wanted to learn of his intimate sorrows and comfort him in whatever they were.

I started looking around, particularly at the older parishioners and imagined what they might say. Children lost to disease or drugs, marriages that had failed, abuse by parents, the church was full of people who had experienced deep sorrows. I wanted to hear them all and give them love.

I thought of my own friends and family. A son who had been sick recently. A personal sorrow my wife was experiencing. A dear friend who had just lost her mother. My own parents and their physical ailments. When we left church, I texted our son and asked him how he was doing. I texted another of our sons and asked about his weekend. I thanked our daughter for coming over for dinner on Saturday night. We then went out to dinner with our recently-bereaved friend.

The readings last night were all about those times when you feel God has forsaken you. In my current case, I didn't think for a second that God was somehow behind all of this. He was there for me, I just needed to get past my animal, limbic reaction to the event, calm down my lizard brain and get back to what mattered - being more like Christ.

As an aside, I realized that was what was going on. The shock of the thing had triggered a limbic response and I was simply incapable of spiritual sophistication, hence the difficulty praying. That's a higher-order function and requires stability in the layers below.

This has reached tl;dr territory, so I'll close with this - it's when you can feel for others again and focus on giving them love and support that you know you've turned the corner.

Last night, I finally wanted to be back giving the hugs, not receiving them.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Fasting And Prayer In A Time Of Stress

I blogged in the past about advice given me by a dear friend, re: fasting in crisis.
My friend talked about using alcohol as a pain killer and how you get trapped by it. When you're going through bad times, it's easy to have a drink or three or four to get through it. His bad times were worse than most by a good margin so his analgesic needs were substantial. He said what happened was that when the pain went away, the booze was still there. Just as Screwtape said, the pain-relieving nature of pleasure had turned into a hunger for that pleasure that outlived the need.

My friend said that it's in the bad times when you need to fast more than ever. That shocked me, but it made sense.
That's all well and good, but to put it in practice, you have to be coherent enough to remember to do it.

Almost there.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

God Is My Comfort

This week, I suffered an unbelievably unjust and damaging blow. I won't go into a description of it, but I'm hoping that in time, with patience and honesty, I'll be able to rectify the situation.  This portion of Kipling's If sums the current state of things up nicely.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
It's taken me two days to get my head back together from the impact. It so took me by surprise that I've been reeling ever since. My sleeping and waking schedules have become completely random from the stress. It wasn't until last night around 1:30 AM when I sat down and actually put pen to paper* in composing a response that I've been able to have any kind of peace.

I don't know how secular people deal with things like this, but for me, I was able to turn to prayer. Admittedly, it's taken two days to even get to the point where I could pray and meditate coherently, but now that I've started, it's made a big difference. I started to a Novena to the Holy Spirit and from the start, I saw that all injustices and destructive actions in life are the same.

Each setback is alike, spiritually. It's just another opportunity to turn to God and realize that through life you are given these trials and through mortality there will only be a finite number of them. Setbacks which seriously damage personal accomplishments or put life-goals at risk can be intensely painful, but they do not harm your reason for existence. Being more like Christ is why we're here. Spreading the Gospel is why we're here.

Speedbumps, punches to the face or even grand pianos dropped on you from a great height are only shadows of what really matters. They are phantoms, as temporary as your corporeal body. They will die and fall to dust, but you will not.

I'm still a bit incoherent from the shock of the thing, so I think I'll close this out. My faith gives me solace in a way that nothing else can, as far as I can tell.

I hope you don't find yourself in a similar situation, but if you do, I hope you can find peace in God.
* - Actually, it was fingers to keyboard, but "pen to paper" sounds so much better.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump Strikes Syria, CNN Hardest Hit

I've blogged before that I can't even get to first base on the Russians-hacked-the-election thing.
Trump OK'd the oil pipeline, making it much easier to extract oil out there where the bigots live in flyover country. Russia's primary source of hard currency is raw materials, specifically oil. If we produce more, the price goes down and the Russians are harmed.

Trump is asking for a defense build-up which will make us more able to face off with the Russkies in places like Syria and Ukraine. That's bad for Russia.

Trump is asking NATO to do more than hire hairdressers in their military and finally have armies worthy of the name. Those armies pose a direct threat to Russia's imperialist aims in Ukraine and the Baltics. That's not good for Ivan, either.

What am I missing here? It looks to me like the whole Trump thing has been bad for Putin and his goons. Why should I worry about whether or not some Senator talked to the Russian ambassador, particularly when they all did it as a matter of their normal jobs?
Now we have a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the Russia-backed Syrians using poison gas.

Memo to Barack Obama: That's what reacting to someone crossing a red line looks like, sweetie.

From today's WSJ, we have this:
MOSCOW—Russia on Friday suspended a U.S.-Russian agreement on coordinating air operations over Syria in response to a U.S. strike on a Syrian airfield.

“The Russian President considers the American strikes on Syria aggression against a sovereign government in violation of the norms of international rights and under a contrived pretext,” the Kremlin said.
How much farther can the conspiracy theorists in the media and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) take the Trump-Russian connection now? Meanwhile, Susan Rice's apparent efforts to use the national security apparatus to spy on political enemies looks to be something real.

Here, mainstream media outlets discover they lit the wrong cigar. Again.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Voters Went Nuclear

If we voters wanted comity and calm, honest debate, that's what the politicians in the Senate would be doing. Instead, they nuked the filibuster because the Democrats, fearing the rage of their base, refused to vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

Yay?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fringe Topper

Out at my folks' house, there's a lovely fringe tree with a beautiful tree of unknown type behind it. The geometry of the situation led to what I think is a lovely photo. I left it fairly large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Maxim Gun And The Benedict Option

This is almost to the payoff to the series of posts I've been doing responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. So far, we have:
Today we ask the question, "Why surrender?"

At the Battle of Omdurman, a British force armed with Maxim guns defeated a larger force of Islamic rebels armed with some rifles and lots of pointy things. Hilaire Belloc wrote a poem about it with this snippet.
Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.
That is absolutely the way things are with Christians today. Check out this bit from an old post here on the blog.
Dig this.
For sexual abuse the rates are even higher. Compared to the always intact married family:
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 5 times higher in the single parent family and when both biological parents are cohabiting (i.e. unmarried).
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 8.6 times higher if the child is living in a married step family.
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 20 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.

If we acknowledged these facts, we'd have to re-examine our take on subjective morality and all-families-are-equal. We're not yet prepared to do that. Reality is a funny thing, though. You can only ignore it for so long.
So Christians espouse a way of life that results in, at worst, 5x fewer incidents of sexual abuse and we're losing the culture war?

All kinds of stats show the same thing. Try this quote on porn usage, something our faith tells us is wrong: "As many British men in their teens and twenties have erectile dysfunction as men in their fifties and sixties." Wow.

In those two tidbits alone, we can kick the secular world's butt on child abuse and sex. That's a couple of Maxim guns right there.

The Benedict Option? Retreating into enclaves when you have overwhelming superiority of firepower?

Why?

Monday, April 03, 2017

Doom And The Benedict Option

This is the third in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. So far, we have:

Major shifts in the way the world works are coming. Many of them will be quite unpleasant. Almost none of them are related to religion, save as it applies to Islam. My argument here is that while things seem to be bad right now, 20 years from now things will be wildly different and that will have unknown effects on the Church. Forces larger than the ones we typically associate with faith are at work.

The West is aging. Japan is in really bad shape with more adult diapers being sold than children's diapers. Europe, including Russia, have birth rates well below replacement, except in the Muslim subculture where the population is growing. Nations and institutions we think of as solid are slowly fading away. Larger and larger portions of Europe will become Islamic over the next 20 years.

The global financial system is quite literally living on borrowed time. I've blogged ad nauseam about this, so suffice it to say that nations with low birth rates plus Muslim growth plus crazy levels of debt will resculpt what used to be the Christian West in far-reaching and unpredictable ways in the next 20 years, none of it for the better.

It may be that the future of Christianity will be found in Africa. Yes, they've got problems, but maybe they're coming out of some of the worst of them instead of going into a maelstrom like Europe and Japan. Statistics on religious behavior in Europe and the US may say one thing, but say something else entirely in Africa.

Note that this is almost entirely orthogonal to the points that Rod tries to make because he's dealing with America. What I'm trying to suggest is that there is energy and activity elsewhere. The enervated state of the Church in the West is matched by its economics and demographics. Are those issues similar or related in some way not unique to faith?

Once upon a time, North America imported religious teaching and evangelization in the form of missionaries from across the sea. Having met some African priests, I could see that happening again.

It would be way cool if the next Pope was one of these guys.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Gay Marriage And The Benedict Option

This is the second in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion. The first post is here.

Two points to start.

First, I think gay marriage is silly. It's the fitting topper to a culture that, when asked to play the Sesame Street game, "Which one of these is not like the other ones?," is completely flummoxed and can't bring itself to say there's a difference between human behaviors*. Reproductive biology says otherwise, but what's that compared to how we feel? In any case, I think it's silly, but not much more than that.

Second, bake the damn cake already. Planned Parenthood is slaughtering babies at a rate that would make Eichman jealous and gay marriage is the hill you want to die on? It's a good bet that there's a Einsatzgruppen unit operating within 10 miles of you, but if two guys like playing with Easy Bake Ovens and watching My Little Pony, you lose your marbles? Really? Just bake the cake, arrange the flowers, serve the pizza and move on.

Instead, much of Christian America has had an apoplectic fit over gay marriage. Yes it was a authoritarian move by the court. Yes, we voted against it time and again and yes five would-be-Reichsmarshalls in robes told us what we could do with our precious "democracy," but what of it? We didn't go underground over slavery, we didn't go underground over abortion and we didn't go underground when the first modern progressive president, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, decided to re-segregate the civil service. Why go bonkers over this?

Let me offer you a few choices. Would you rather:
  • Decrease abortions by 50% or fight gay marriage?
  • Decrease illegitimacy by 50% or fight gay marriage?
  • Double church attendance or fight gay marriage?
  • Make your church a lot more active in the community or fight gay marriage?
You tell the world what is important to you by the way you spend your time, money and energy. To me, all four of those are huge while gay marriage, as I said above, is just silly.

This is not the fight to have because the outcome is almost irrelevant.

More thoughts in upcoming posts.

Oh come on. It's not dangerous, it's ludicrous.
* - Unless it involves intolerance, judgment or smoking in some way. Then you can really tell the difference.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Benedict Option In The Antebellum South

Note: Anon has made some excellent corrections to factual errors in this post in the comments. I don't think they significantly change the point, but it's interesting to see how sources I took to be accurate may well have been in error.

Update to the Note: As I say in the post, it's more complicated than that.


This is the first in a series of posts responding to Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option wherein Rod lays out a plan for remaining faithful to orthodoxy in a culture increasingly hostile to religion.

In order to prevent this from becoming a tl;dr post, let me give my sources here and then go straight into a brief analysis.
The world is a mess and it's tough to cling to Catholic orthodoxy while surrounded by temptations, ignorant attacks and criticism. But then the world has always been such a place. Each time has it's own problems, whether that's sex-crazed progressives trying to force priests to marry people to quadrupeds* or it's Antebellum America where we practiced slavery.

The Church was conflicted on slavery. While for the most part, it was anti-slavery, there were members of the clergy who were not. It was very complicated and didn't fall along simple lines. Almost nothing the modern narrative holds forth about slavery is clearly true. 

For example, in the 1830s, Virginia, who would later house the capital of the Confederacy, missed abolishing slavery by a single vote. Robert E. Lee freed his father's slaves after the Confederates' victory at Fredericksburg while U. S. Grant had three during the war. In fact, after the fall of Richmond, his wife came to visit and brought one of the slaves. That meant that the only slave in Richmond belonged to the victorious Union general.

The Pope was against slavery, but gave solace to Jefferson Davis while he was in prison after the war. Nothing about the topic is simple or clear-cut.

The Pope was sympathetic to Jefferson Davis because he felt, probably rightly so, that despite slavery, the South was more supportive of the Church than the North. Just as Pope Francis had a pleasant visit with President Obama, who eagerly financed the American Auschwitz that is Planned Parenthood, Pius IX took a much longer-term view and, as far as I can tell, tried to focus on areas of agreement rather than pitching a fit over slavery. Had he done so, it's not clear that things would have ended well for the Church, whose mission will always be ongoing rather than immediate.

Part of what makes things messy is that the clergy is always drawn from the populace. That may seem like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but consider its implications. Those young men and women who took Holy Orders at the time did so with all of the cultural assumptions they brought with them from their families and surrounding society. Some came from slave-owning families, some came from strict abolitionist families.

That's the way things have always been and always will be. We will forever have to deal with imperfect people, imperfect cultures and imperfect and uneven clergy. We may have the Truth, but in every era, there's some part of the culture that will deny and attack the Truth.

At issue is what to do about it. The modern world, where progressives pretty much own the culture and hold simplistic, binary views about sexual social justice** is not different in principle from the Antebellum US where most Democrats held simplistic, binary views on the humanity of blacks. The Church was incompatible then and it's incompatible now. So what?

I'm starting to steal from my next post, so I'll end it with this.

All things considered, since I must live in a world that is not completely in harmony with my faith, I'd much rather live the one where the people attacking me are doing so for sexual freedom than slavery. The culture is indeed hostile to parts of the Church, but we've had worse.

More later.

Blessed Pope Pius IX. I would not have wanted to be in his shoes.
* - Here, I anticipate the next battle in the war. 

** - If you oppose gay marriage, it's because you're a hateful homophobe. This is followed by fingers being stuck in ears and a shouted "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!"

Friday, March 31, 2017

Daisies As Far As The Eye Can See

I've got a really good series of posts in my head, but don't have the time to share them right now, so this will have to do. On Fiesta Island, where the Catican Guards are sometimes taken for training maneuvers, there is a massive daisy bloom. I took this photo at the daisy-head level, trying to make them seem endless. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Odds And Ends

Seen in La Jolla

Wait, what?

Training

I've been in training for work all week. It was 90 minutes of information crammed into 4 days. I thought about hiring a Mafia hit man to come in and kill me, but I was afraid he'd walk in the door, get some notion about the class and kill himself. I'd be out $20,000 and would still have to complete the thing.
Me: But he didn't kill me!

Don Ferrini: Listen you wanted someone killed and someone was killed. You owe us $20,000.

Rubbish from the bookshelf

Matthew Kelly: Resisting Happiness. Good Lord, Matthew, turn on some sports and have a couple of beers. You've gotten so mopey! You used to be a lot of fun, but now you're a stone drag.

Rod Dreher: The Benedict Option. Rod's book, The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming is awesome. This one is an abject surrender to the modern world. Rod wants us to crawl into a Catholic bunker to weather the storms of modernity. I don't think so.

Saul Alinsky: Rules for Radicals. Reviewed in depth here. Simply horrible. He writes like der Führer, only without the charm. I'm guessing he didn't know what an editor was. It must have been abject ignorance, because there's no way you could produce that amount of chaff and not have some idea you needed someone to cull about 90% of it.

There. That's it for today. Normal ranting and raving will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When Prayer Finds A Silver Lining

Blogging from my phone today so I apologize for the unsophisticated format.

I mentioned a while ago how a dear friend of mine had been diagnosed with cancer and how I had taken up prayer and abstinence from my favorite vices for his sake. I don't know how things will end for him, but devoting part of my day to someone else has brought wider benefits.

During my prayers, as my mind wandered, I meditated on a variety of things - family, life, relationships and more. As a result, I've had conversations with my wife and children that I would not have had otherwise.

My friend's illness might be cured or not, but his suffering has been used to increase love and support far beyond those who know him well through prayer and sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Women Will Not Be Silenced Any More!

... confuses the living daylights out of me.

Dig this.
Hillary's campaign spent, what, a billion dollars on ads? She blew through that much cash screaming at all of us what a swine Trump was, morning, noon and night and the women's, err, rights (? I can't figure out what it is they want, either) are howling at the top of their lungs that they refuse to be silent? How much louder could you get?

I think things like this are what gradually turn guys my age into mumbling, old, bearded dudes, rocking on our front porch, drinking beer with our hound dog, complaining about how things have changed and world don't make no sense no more.

"Can't take no more women complainin'. If'n you got somethin' to say, say it from the street, little miss, if'n you don't want a load of buckshot in your backside."

Monday, March 27, 2017

The State Of College Intellectuals

... described in one link.

Here it is.

Ritual denunciations of Charles Murray are de rigueur. College administrators and professors who allow him to speak on their campuses are quick to let everyone know how much they disagree with him and how they acknowledge he's a crazed racist.

But he's not and no amount of combing through his copious writings will reveal that. In fact, as that link shows, he's quite the opposite and his research and data are excellent.

It's not the philosophical disagreements that cause me to despise the modern academy, it's the anti-intellectualism. The foundation of being an intellectual has to be research and data. If research easily shows that your assertions are wrong, strictly for the sake of honesty you must recant them and reconsider your positions. Without honesty, academia is worse than useless, they are profoundly evil.

That's where we are today. An utterly dishonest and willfully ignorant professoriat. Is it any wonder why college students spout nonsense?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saul Alinsky Violated The Geneva Convention

... because reading his book is torture.

For reasons to be explained in a future blog post, I'm wading through the sludge that is Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. It's horrible. In fact, it's recursively horrible or maybe mutli-dimensionally horrible or perhaps it's over-horribled as it's crammed with examples of every kind of horribility that a book might ever have.

It also reveals why Obama was such an obnoxious and tedious bore. The book is all about community organizing and after you've sampled what bits you can stand, you see a class of people who are at once pompous, hyper-intellectual, unreflective, ignorant, incompetent and completely useless.

First, there's the prose. Alinsky writes like Hitler. He makes broad, sweeping statements based on ignorance and ego that immediately call to mind reams of contradictions.
We approach a critical point when our tongues trap our minds. I do not propose to be trapped by tact at the expense of truth. Striving to avoid the force, vigor, and simplicity of the word "power," we soon become averse to thinking in vigorous, simple, honest terms. We strive to invent sterilized synonyms, cleansed of the opprobrium of the word power— -but the new words mean something different, so that they tranquilize us, begin to shepherd our mental processes off the main, conflict-ridden, grimy... blah blah blah blah blah...
Then there's the description of his life. Here's a bit of the nth Level of Hell that he not only inhabits, but wants you to inhabit as well.
Frequently personal domestic hangups were part of the conferences. An organizer's working schedule is so continuous that time is meaningless; meetings and caucuses drag endlessly into the early morning hours; any schedule is marked by constant unexpected unscheduled meetings; work pursues an organizer into his or her home, so that either he is on the phone or there are people dropping in.
Meetings, meetings, meetings. That's what organizers do. Sit around and talk. It's enough to make you tear gas yourself.

Then there's the utter insipidness of the thing. Here's a real Deep Thought Alinsky feels the need to share.
Communication with others takes place when they understand what you're trying to get across to them.
Please, just stop.

It dawned on me as I listened to this word hash spray out of the speakers of my car that the only people this would resonate with would be college students. Feed this trash to a 40-year-old plumber with a wife and 3 kids and he'll listen for 90 seconds and then find a way to go do something else. Alinsky himself talks about it when he mentions how some organizers finally get a clue and bail out.
Much of an organizer's daily work is detail, repetitive and deadly in its monotony. In the totality of things he is engaged in one small bit. It is as though as an artist he is painting a tiny leaf. It is inevitable that sooner or later he will react with "What am I doing spending my whole life just painting one little leaf? The **** with it, I quit."
Of course they quit. It's all horrible. Alinsky, however, was too in love with his own self-importance and all the meetings to quit. He was the guy who never left college while the rest of his friends grew up and went out into the real world. He was the campus radical with his pony tail turning gray and his hairline receding and his clothes 30 years out of date, lecturing the kids about how this revolution thing is done.

That led me to an explanation of modern college faculty. The majority of the people they interact with are each other and student-children who don't have the experience to see through their drivel. It's all self-reinforcing. That's why Shapiro, Murray and others are driven from campus. It's protection of their tiny world, insulation from people who will be able to point out their nonsense.

Maybe the riots on campus are really acts of mental self-defense, a fanatical spasm of protection of a world-view they know deep down is idiocy.

The idiot himself. I think the glassy stare is my favorite part of this picture.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The London Attack

... was a minor sideshow. Not to the victims, of course, but as far as the outcome of the ongoing civilizational struggle is concerned, it was meaningless.

The real combat is occurring in the maternity wards. Western democracies have made the ballot the primary and almost only weapon. It's all about the votes. Muslims are having babies and Europeans are not. When the Muslims can elect the government of their choice, the war will be over.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Book Of Job

... was the straw that broke the camel's back, causing me to quit reading the Old Testament.

Having said that, it had some interesting things to say. Up to that point, the rule of thumb was that if you were a righteous man, God would pay off with good fortune. When a king was upright and moral, his troops won battles. When he was a pig, his troops lost. Not much was said about the troops who died in combat and their widows, but, hey, we're talking about the kings here, OK?

Job is the answer to the question, Why do bad things happen to good people? It takes five dudes to hash this out. Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite and Elihu the Dude What's Got the Answers.

The scene starts with Job knocking back cheap whisky because his life has gone to pieces despite having been righteous and good and moral and returning all of his library books on time. Eliphaz shows up with a case of Pabst, Bildad with a pair of fifths of Seagrams and Zophar with a loaf of bread. The other three then ask Zophar, "What are we going to do with all that food?"

The four of them proceed to complain about their wives, kids, jobs and the Cleveland Browns. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" they ask. Bildad maintains that the people of Cleveland suck and they deserve it. Eliphaz says the people of Detroit suck worse, yet the Lions have had some decent seasons lately. Job starts talking about the Cavaliers and King James, but has a coughing fit and no one can understand him. Zophar stuffs his mouth full of bread in a fit of pique.

Elihu then shows up, ticked off because he thought the party started at 7 instead of 6 and by now most of the booze is gone. He kicks the dog and then goes on a rant about how no one can understand the ways of God because he's all-powerful and does amazing things we can't explain like oceans, wind and Michael Jordan. "Give it up, you guys. You'll never understand it. And Job, would it kill you to have some orange juice in this dump? I brought a bottle of vodka and there's nothing to mix it with."

"You ended your schentensche wif a preposchistion, you loser. No juische for you," replies Job who then falls off his chair onto the floor.

Or it went something like that. I have to admit I was tuning in and out as the thing droned on and on and on. In any case, that was the conclusion: How the heck should we know why bad things happen to good people? It's all way too hard to understand, kind of like algebraic topology.

So now you don't have to read the beastly thing. You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Frank Rich Drops The Mask

... in the title and tagline, no less. Dig this.
Title: No Sympathy for the Hillbilly

Tagline: Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone’s pain, and hold on to their own anger.
He then goes on at length to endorse bigotry, rage, hate and tantrums. It's not cloaked or allegorical or anything, it's just raw screaming.

The wheels are coming off the progressive movement. The compassion, open-mindedness, tolerance and understanding were never there, but now there isn't even a fig leaf with the words stitched on it. Worse than the article are the comments. It's nothing but enraged progressives whipping each other into a frenzy as far as the eye can see.

Well, this is what we all wanted, I guess. Bigger government means more politics. More politics means more arguing. More arguing means more rage on the losing side.

Scary stuff, amigos. If you dive into politics on Twitter once in a while like I do, I recommend cutting back and interspersing a lot more non-political content in your timeline. It's in all of our best interests to dial things down a bit.


Take it from Tiny Hedgehog. You can do this!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Surrendering To The Old Testament

I've given up. I was trying to listen to the entire Old Testament, but it's finally beaten me. I got through Job and started on Psalms and I just can't do any more. The Koran was a total drag, but this is the Koran times a hundred. At least the Koran was relatively short and full of repetitive chaff where you could tune out or yell at the windshield in unison with the Koran's endlessly repeated boilerplate paragraphs.

I've got some thoughts on the Old Testament that I'll leave for another blog post. In the meantime, I've decided to move on to something more modern and relevant - Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).

Edmund Burke. A smart guy and a snappy dresser.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Going Through Life Confused

... by some of the things I see coming out of the progressive left. Dig this billboard in Phoenix, reported by a news guy over there.

Wait, what?
Dollar signs block-printed and rotated so they resemble swastikas and two mushroom clouds? What pharmaceuticals in what quantities do I need to ingest for this to make sense? It's like the images were chosen at random. Here are some other combinations that would be equally coherent:
  • Broccoli and Venetian blinds
  • Fire hydrants and hamsters
  • Toaster ovens and trees
I'm sure you can think of some yourselves. 

Sigh.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Deep Fried Cornish Game Hens

I used my deep fryer for a third time a few nights back and this proved to be the best dinner yet. I had a pair of Cornish game hens and wanted to give them the hot oil bath treatment. I did some research and the consensus was 375 degrees for 12 minutes, one at a time.

This time, I overcame the whole cooling-oil issue by warming the hens ahead of time. I heated the oven to 200 and popped them in while the oil was heating. I had butterflied one and left the other whole, just in case 12 minutes wasn't enough for a complete hen. By cutting it in half, I made sure the cavity wasn't going to be a reservoir of cold, preventing some of the meat from cooking. I needn't have bothered.

By preheating the meat, the oil temperature barely moved when the hens went in. I pulled them at the requisite 12-minute mark and they ended up perfect. I hadn't seasoned them under the theory that the seasoning would either burn or wash off, polluting the oil I wanted to reuse. That worked out fine as well. The end result was two excellent hens, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. My wife didn't like it as much, saying the white meat was too tough, but I'd attribute that to the hens themselves and not the fryer.

Delish!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Married Priests

I'm all in favor of them. If Pope Francis is so inclined, and I've read rumors saying he is, I say, the sooner the better.

First, it will make the Church younger and more masculine. There's nothing the Catholic Church needs more right now than big infusions of energy and testosterone. Young people have always left churches as a part of them finding their own way apart from their families of origin. Having said that, it's pretty hard to bring them back when they're ready if your priests are 60 years old and effeminate.

Second, I don't think the theological arguments are all that strong against it. I've always had the feeling that they're kind of explaining the reasoning after the fact instead of deriving catechism from first principles. If you want a knock-out punch, there's Matthew 8:14-15.
Jesus entered Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her,
If Peter is the rock upon which He built His Church and Peter was married, it seems perfectly fine to allow married priests. On counterpoint, here's the response from Catholic Straight Answers.
Note that the passage does not mention St. Peter’s wife, but only his mother-in-law. The Gospels, however, make no mention of St. Peter’s wife, living or nonliving. Therefore, St. Peter’s wife must have died before Jesus called him to be an apostle.

For full disclosure, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, III) (c. 202), said St. Peter was married, had children and witnessed his wife’s martyrdom in Rome. These terse points were recorded, citing Clement, in St. Eusebuis’ The History of the Church. Given the silence of other church fathers about St. Peter’s wife and children (who would have had some prominence in the history of the early church), and the lack of any archaeological evidence of ancient Rome, which holds the burial sites of St. Peter and so many other early martyrs, one would conclude St. Peter’s wife died before he had been called as an apostle.
Meh. That's pretty ambiguous data upon which you'd build a crucial point of Catholic doctrine.

Heck, if you really want to go all-in, reclassify priests' wives as nuns and ask that they go through formation as well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How Do You Fight The Lizard?

Some time ago, while having fun at poor Sam Harris' expense, I posted this tidbit.
We all have limbic systems that drive our animal appetites. Sex n' drugs n' rock and roll are desirable because the primitive lizard brains that sit inside of our glorious human brains says they are. Your limbic system is what drives you to do both the things necessary for survival and the things you really oughtn't like lust and gluttony. For Christians, we face a constant fight with our limbic systems as we strive to be what the Bible tells us to be. When we fail, we're hypocrites. We preach one thing and do another.
In my continuing effort to pray and practice abstinence for my friend with cancer, I still find myself tempted to surrender to gluttony, sloth and more.  Last night, I came home craving a beer or three. It was even worse after I did some paperwork at home that I really didn't feel like doing. Usually, I'm very self-indulgent. I like to give myself limbic treats for overcoming even minor problems. I've done an order of magnitude less of it during this period of abstinence and last night, I successfully resisted temptation.

What happened? What was the mechanism by which success was achieved? I was so busy cracking open the can of V-8 as a substitute for the IPA, that I wasn't mindful of the mechanism by which I won the fight. Is it even possible to pinpoint the sequence that led to winning? Can you pick out the moment when the game was over? I think it was when I picked out the V-8 from the pantry because from there, I wasn't going to head out to the garage fridge to get the brewski.

Is it when you begin to do something that makes sin too difficult? Substitution is a commonly-mentioned way of getting past addictions and temptation in general. Is that how it works? Is it just the act of getting the substitution chain started?
  1. Go to pantry
  2. Get V-8
  3. Open it
  4. Make the traditional Monty Python reference, "Crack tubes!"
  5. Drink the first sip
For each step, here's the corresponding step that will put you back on the path to sin.
  1. Close pantry door and head to the garage. (Easy)
  2. Put V-8 in kitchen fridge and go get a beer. (Relatively easy)
  3. Put the full, open V-8 on the counter and go get a beer. (Unlikely. Open beverage containers are often the target of house pixies who love to tip them over.)
  4. Say, "This is the wrong tube!" (Even more unlikely as you've sounded the bugle and the troops have begun their charge.)
  5. Put it down and go get a beer. (Almost impossible. Beer after V-8 sounds dreadful.)
Hmm. Is going to the pantry and grabbing a V-8 right when you get home the answer?

House pixies. They're all fun and games until they tip your V-8 so it spills all over one of the dogs.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

White Privilege, Explained

I have to admit, I did not understand white privilege until today. Now that I know what it is, I see it everywhere. It's like the air we breathe.

This morning, I'm going to make sardines on toast for breakfast. I want to add some sliced mushrooms to the mix, but I can't find the Internet recipe I used once upon a time, so I'm going to have to shotgun the thing. Here's the plan.

Using one of my cast iron skillets, I'm going to drain the oil from a tin of sardines into it and heat it on my stove. While it's warming, I'll slice some whole, brown mushrooms I got from Costco. After it's hot, I'll saute the shrooms with some minced garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes, adding the sardines at the end to warm them up.

While I'm doing this, I'll toast my bread.

At the end, I'll take the bread, put the sardine / mushroom mix on top and eat it.

And that, my friends, is white privilege. It affects you every day. Positively if you're one persuasion, negatively if not. I'm sure that if you work at it, you'll learn to notice it in your own life, like the next time you change a tire, buy some shoes, teach your son to hit a baseball or look for your car keys between the cushions of the couch.

You're welcome.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Rot Of Grubs

I don't know what a group of grubs is called, so I coined the term, "rot." It works on multiple levels. Grubs eat rotting things and it's also great for cheap laughs as you do a crude, Japanese accent.
American: "What are these things?"

Japanese: "A rot of grubs!"
Ha ha.

Ahem.

Yesterday, I was planting our new season's herbs and veggies when I came across a rot of grubs in one of our raised beds. I ended up spending an hour going through the soil by hand, pulling out the grubs as I found them. I must have ended up with about 50. Here they are in all their disgustingness.


When I harvest grubs, I like to throw them out into the middle of our cul-de-sac. It gives the birds and nocturnal varmints something to eat. It's fitting since the grubs were going to eat our plants and now they're dinner for someone else instead.

I've never tossed this many and after I did so and went back into my yard, some of the neighbors spotted them. Excitement and conversations ensued as they tried to figure out how all those grubs ended up in the street. I felt a glow of pleasure for giving them an interesting mystery to solve. Eventually, one of them figured out that it was the crazy guy next door and the conundrum was solved.

KT - bane of grubs, benefactor of neighbors, that's me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hide The Data!

Andrew Sullivan, of all people, has finally discovered the cultists on the left. These are the sort of people who use violence to prevent speeches by people who hold different views. In short, they oppose diversity, in this case, of thought.

While that's interesting, here's a snippet that opens up a different line of inquiry entirely. As Andrew is a member of the cult himself, he has to intone the catechism about race and show his ritual disapproval of Charles Murray. Professor Murray wrote a book called The Bell Curve which discussed IQ and presented reams of data. One chapter out of the book shows the data broken down by race. He doesn't draw any white supremacist conclusions about it, he's just a scientist looking at numbers. That makes him an infidel in the eyes of the cultists. Here's Andrew's reasoning.
(P)rotests against Murray are completely legitimate. The book he co-authored with Harvard professor Richard Herrnstein more than 20 years ago, The Bell Curve, included a chapter on empirical data showing variations in the largely overlapping bell curves of IQ scores between racial groups. Their provocation was to assign these differences to both the environment and genetics. The genetic aspect could be and was exploited by racists and bigots.
The problem isn't that Murray was lying or trying to feed bigotry. The problem is that he published the data at all. Opinion isn't the enemy, science and data are. When that happens, you're in trouble.

How do you hide data? Do you keep it in a jar in a locked cabinet so no one can ever find it? What happens when the data is out in plain sight, like the ethnic makeup of the NBA and NFL? How about data published by the FBI or Justice Department on crime stats? Even if you suppress those, a short drive around town reveals plenty. Where are there bars on the windows and barbed wire on fences?

The way to fight bigots of all kinds is not to suppress data. That's a hopeless task. You need to make the data irrelevant.

If you ask a girl to marry you and she turns you down, who cares if the guy she eventually marries is your race? You didn't marry the girl and that's that. If you apply for a job at an insurance company and you don't get it, who cares if the person they hire is your race? Will you get a percentage of his paycheck as a part of some kind of racial hegemony?

It's not the data, it's the utter irrelevance of the way you parsed it. We are individuals and our lives are mostly governed by our actions. Race plays almost no role in it at all and yet we make a huge deal out of it. Heroin has the same effect on Eskimos as it does on Puerto Ricans. So does getting an Electrical Engineering degree. So does marrying before you have kids.

We've picked a characteristic that's, at best, a third-order effector on our lives and turned it into a religion. So Professor Murray publishes a table of average IQ as a function of race. So what? Did it make you smarter if your race is higher up the table? No. By turning discussions of race into legitimate topics and giving them weight far beyond their actual value, we're arming bigots with the only weapons they will ever have.

In short, obsessing about race creates the bigotry we're all trying to stamp out. It's not the data in the table, it's the row and column headings. The data will be there whether we want to hide it or not. Publish the data or don't, it's irrelevant. Just stop making it such a big deal.

I always knew oranges were inferior. Now I have the data to prove it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Is It Legal To Protest Eric Clapton?

Sort of a follow up to yesterday's post.

What if I was George-Soros-rich and thoroughly hated Eric Clapton? If I bought front-row concert tickets for a bunch of crazy ANTIFA protesters and told them to rush the stage like they do when Professor Murray and Milo or Ben Shapiro try to give talks, what would happen?

Is it illegal to purposefully disrupt a concert? Does it matter if the attendees paid or not? Is it strictly the jurisdiction of the venue to make sure this doesn't happen? How far can the venue go in enforcing its rules?

Is this like the legal issues involving bouncers at clubs?
Generally speaking, bouncers can only use force if it is first used against them. These are the same rights as any ordinary citizen (i.e. the right to self-defense). On the other hand, bouncers are legally allowed to perform such tasks as:
  • Issue verbal warnings
  • Ask you to leave
  • Check for ID
  • Refuse entry if the patron is too intoxicated, fails to comply with establishment policies, or engages in aggressive behavior
  • Call the police
  • Protect innocent bystanders from violence
  • Break up fights that are not involved in
  • Respond with equal force if necessary
Bouncers cannot initiate physical conflict, but they can respond to it. If my valiant Social Justice Warriors protesting that fascist Clapton never did more than chant and wave signs, it doesn't seem like the security team could do more than call the cops. Pondering that, wouldn't chanting and waving signs be breach of the peace or disorderly conduct? That still doesn't allow the security guards to give my ANTIFA goons a whuppin, but it would allow the cops to clear them out and bring them down to the station.

Back to the real examples, if ANTIFA maniacs stop someone from speaking and the cops do not enforce the laws regarding keeping the peace, can the police department be charged with civil rights violations as they conspired to deprive the speaker and audience of their right to freedom of speech?

Hmm.



Eric Clapton, positively dripping with white, male, cis-gendered privilege. Doesn't he enrage you?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Yelling Back Isn't The Answer

I've restrained myself, although it might not seem so, from posting and tweeting on politics. Having an opinion on everything in the world, and the correct one at that, all of the turmoil in the country today is an absolute sumptuous buffet for me.

What gives me pause is the level of incoherent rage on the left. The recent attack on Charles Murray is just one example. I've read most of Professor Murray's books, seen many interviews with him, catch him on podcasts as much as possible and download his talks from YouTube to listen to as I walk or drive. I am, in short, a Charles Murray groupie.

The one thing I can say without fear of contradiction is that there is no academic alive who has greater compassion for the poor, independent of race, creed, sex or orientation. To my taste, he is the gold standard for intellectuals working to improve the lot of the poor. As far as I could tell, the violence he suffered at Middlebury was at the hands of people beyond the reach of reason and argument.

What do you do about such people? Since they are immune to logic and incapable of conversation, do you scream back at them? Do you call them names? Do you create memes and mock them? I don't see that any of these actions will have a desirable outcome and will only serve to increase the overall level of fury in society. Instead, they need to be charged, prosecuted, convicted and jailed.

What they did broke the law. In fact, I recently discovered that conspiracy to deprive a citizen of their right to free speech is itself a crime, meaning that the school professors who encouraged this and the administrators who knowingly allowed it to happen could face charges. And they should. All of them.

This is no longer about debate or discussion, this is about maintaining the rule of law. This is why we have police, court systems and jails. Instead of trying to convince people that Charles Murray isn't a white supremacist or whatever deranged fantasy they've cooked up, these people need to be locked up.

My recommendation is to agitate not for mockery or disputations, but to agitate for law enforcement to do its job. While the Christian side of me wants to stay quiet so as not to contribute to the violence, I don't see that conflicting with upholding standards of behavior codified in our laws. With the people prone to violent protests behind bars, we might be able to move on to rational discourse. Until then, you can forget about it.

A Hot Wheels Paddy Wagon. A slightly larger, more functional version needs to be employed with consistency and regularity on American campuses until the children (and faculty) learn to use their words.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Why Don't The Citizens Of xxx Ever Learn?

I met a very nice young man the other day who works for the San Diego Unified School District. SD Unified, like most local government institutions, is going through the first wave of self-inflicted budget crises. I'd do the standard link-and-excerpt bit here, but my source is the Union-Tribune and it seems they're having a bit of bother managing a safe website these days,

Mainstream Media Fail.
In any case, the school district is laying off about 1,000 people because their pensions are eating them alive. To avoid being called racistsexisthomophobes, we gave the teachers everything they wanted a few years back and now we're firing teachers as the bills come due. I would say this serves everyone right, but if my young friend is any guide, we're not learning from the event, so it's just a dark cloud with no silver lining.

If you've ever wondered why socialism lives on or why Argentinians have never learned to stop hitting themselves on the head with the hammer of social justice fascism - Peronism - this is the perfect example. The young man is watching friends lose their jobs and has no idea why. Not only that, he's not very curious about it. He had some vague notion that there was corruption involved somewhere or "bad investments," but the whole thing was pretty uninteresting to him.

Math is hard.

People of faith prefer to stick with their faith. They don't go looking to become apostates. If the Pope or the Imam or the Teachers' Union President says something, then that's good enough. Getting over the resistance to changing a belief system requires a lot of disruption. If it requires math or learning new skills like budgeting, you can pretty much forget it for most people.

Noting that this is becoming a tl;dr post, I'll try to wrap it up.

The young man is a standard prole. He has faith in the progressive religion and "knows" his positions are morally right. When teachers, who care only about children and have the most important jobs in the Universe because the youth are the future tell them that the Democrats are kind and Republicans are greedy and evil, they ingest their catechism without critical thought and go back to their lives.

The fact that the progressivism has sold us all into debt slavery cannot pierce the bubble of faith encasing this fellow in a warm feeling of moral righteousness. Even if he loses his job because of debt loads inflicted on us all by the left, it's doubtful he'll ever do the hard work of learning how and why it happened. He has his progressive religion and it gives his life meaning and value even when things fall to pieces because of it.

And that, my friends, happening on a large scale, is how the wheels of compound interest mathematics can repeatedly grind the citizens of Argentina, Venezuela and California like grist without said citizens ever learning and changing their minds.

Related: The "Repeal and Replace" of Obamacare is similar religious insanity. It should just be "Repeal." We're $20T deep in debt slavery at the national level. We have no money for promising still more temporary benefits.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

It's Turning Out That I Really Didn't Like Those Vices After All

I blogged recently about a friend of mine who is going through cancer treatments and how I've taken up praying and fasting from certain vices for him. Abstinence is getting easier as I discover that some of my vices weren't really all that much fun.

Taking beer as an example, the first couple of days were hard, but last night, day 12, was pretty easy. I'm not going completely cold turkey, but I'm not getting much of a buzz any more when I do drink and most days I skip it completely. I've yet to find myself regretting it.

I don't know about you, but you could set a watch by my temptations. At about 4:45 PM, I'm usually craving a beer. If I take a pass, by 6:00 PM, the craving is gone. I never find myself wanting to start drinking at 7 or 8. By then, I'm enjoying whatever it is my wife and I are doing that night. Beer was always the transition from the work day to the evening at home. It turns out that transition happens on its own without any help from me.

Whatever comes of this prayer and fasting and whether or not I keep up with my abstinence for the rest of my life, the act of changing my behaviors has been very educational. It's probably a good idea to switch things up dramatically in your habits once in a while just to see what happens.


This might be one of the weirdest videos I've ever seen. How many intoxicants did it take to come up with this one? I love it! Appropriate music and you can never go wrong with Scooby Doo.

Monday, March 06, 2017

This Could Be Fun

I installed a meme creator on my phone yesterday. At a friend's house where they have grandchildren, I found a children's book about the ocean. The rest, as they say, is history.