Sunday, December 04, 2022

Philadelphia Deathworld

From CBS News in Philadelphia:

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's summertime curfew could soon become permanent. City council passed a bill Thursday afternoon that would make the summer curfew permanent.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson proposed the legislation and is a mother herself.

Gilmore Richardson says her goal is to protect Philadelphia's young people who all too often fall victim to the city's violence.

"There are too many young people who have been involved in crime or criminal incidents simply because they have been out late at night," she said.

Philadelphia City Council on Thursday passed a bill requiring anyone 17 years old and younger to be home by 10 p.m.

From Harry Harrison's science fiction novel, Deathworld, in which colonists are battling a coordinated effort by a planet's ecosystem to wipe them out:

"This is not a real war, but a disastrous treating of symptoms. Like cutting off cancerous fingers one by one. The only result can be ultimate death. None of you seem to realize that. All you see are the trees. It has never occurred to you that you could treat the causes of this war and end it forever."

...

"You're talking nonsense," Kerk said. "This is just an alien world that must be battled. The causes are self-obvious facts of existence."

"No, they're not," Jason insisted. "Consider for a second. When you are away for any length of time from this planet, you must take a refresher course. To see how things have changed for the worse while you were gone. Well, that's a linear progression. If things get worse when you extend into the future, then they have to get better if you extend into the past. It is also good theory—though I don't know if the facts will bear me out—to say that if you extend it far enough into the past you will reach a time when mankind and Pyrrus were not at war with each other."

They're the same thing.

The curfew didn't exist until this last summer. It was enacted because things got worse to the point where the sociopaths had to be kept in their homes to terrorize their buildings instead of getting out to terrorize the neighborhood. The curfew didn't change the sociopaths, it merely concealed them. You still can't let them loose, so now the curfew is permanent.

If crime is getting worse to the point that you've got to enact authoritarian enforcement mechanisms, then what's really happening is that the citizens are getting more and more dangerous to each other. Like the creatures in Deathworld, they are evolving in a more predatory direction. The curfew isn't going to change things any more than shipments of more advanced weapons changed things in the novel.

Going back farther in time, the late Walter E. Williams, who grew up in Philadelphia, talked about how he had no fear of crime growing up there. Later in his life, he noticed how dangerous it had become. Thomas Sowell says the same thing about New York City. Within living memory, there was a time when curfews to pit a lid on crime would have been unthinkable.

In another echo of the book, it's the core concepts of the leadership class which are creating the conditions that led to the anti-crime lockdowns. With religious fervor, they cling to the belief that all families are equal and all sexual acts are to be celebrated. Sex makes babies and babies need parents. Sex acts that don't occur within traditional marriage are what has led to the curfews.

Further, Philadelphia's leadership and news media stubbornly insist that systemic racism is real and can only be addressed by implementing Critical Race Theory solutions. Hence, the emphasis on race and the unwillingness to use descriptive terms about the criminals other than "youth" or "teens." In Deathworld, characters close their eyes to the results of their actions, in Philadelphia, they close their eyes to the fact that the same race they're professing to love is suffering under their philosophy.

Philadelphia isn't doing anything about the causes, they're simply treating the symptoms and denying reality.

Here, a Philadelphia cop confronts a "youth."

Friday, December 02, 2022

I Think I've Cracked The Code

 Those creepy, saccharine, nauseating LGBTQ+ groomers we see on @LibsOfTikTok are ...

... the modern-day version of Up With People.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

God Is Not Love

Instead, God is love on a framework of objective reality and logic.

I have to admit, I absolutely hate those homilies whose message is "God is love." It's just all so much squishiness and maudlin sentimentality. Life is inherently tragic. You can see that in the hospice process. I find myself missing my parents lately. I looked back on the photos I had of them from their last days. Ghastly, every one of them. Ghastly and real. Death happens. Tragedy happens. It's the nature of life.

"I can't believe in a God who would allow (pain, evil, sending people to hell, that ridiculous no-call on the clear pass interference penalty against the Saints in the playoffs, fill-in-the-blank-with-something-bad)." Why not? If He exists, then He made a world where some insects lay eggs inside of other animals and their larvae eat their way out when they hatch. Lions don't dispatch their prey humanely. Life has strongly tragic elements.

That's one reason why the "God is love" rubbish drives me bonkers. A marshmallow world is a fantasy and telling people it exists doesn't prepare them for reality. Additionally, in the absence of tragedy, how do you measure love? Is it love if your spouse is always attentive, kind and warm to you? Or is it love when you serve them even when they're beastly? Sign me up for the latter definition of love.

To my mind, the "God is love" trash is an act of submission to the secular world. These days, any amount of judgmentalism is too much. God is love is what you say as you lay down, presenting your tummy to the secular world, writhing around on the ground, showing them you're harmless. See? We don't judge! We're all about love and acceptance!

It's an effort to appeal to the popular culture. Who wants to be the stone drag at the party? If we're super-inclusive, people will like us! 

Good luck with that.

The "God is love" sentiment is self-negating. If God is love, then there can be no hell. How can you reconcile hell and unconditional acceptance? You can't. If there is no hell, then what's the point of Jesus? He died on the cross for our ... err ... sins. And if He hadn't? No difference. You weren't going to pay for your sins, even if such things existed. After all, God is love.

It doesn't work. If He exists, if He made a world with nasty bugs and uncaring predators and hospice care for dying parents, then He has some hard edges. He has some expectations. He told you what you needed to do to stay safe. If you choose to slam your hand in a car door, don't blame Him when it hurts. Don't say, "I can't believe in a God that would make it hurt when I closed the car door on a body part!"

That's just stupid.

When my kids were young, we made up a goofy hymn:
Our God is an angry God!
And He'll smite! Smite! Smite!
'Til the sun goes down!
Oh yes, He'll smite! Smite! Smite!
'Til the sun goes down!

No, we don't actually believe that. We do believe in a tragic reality, however.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Catholic Bishops Can't Play Basketball

 ... and only an idiot would be disappointed that they can't.

I am that kind of idiot.

On this blog, I've ranted on and on* about the bishop here in San Diego, Robert W. McElroy. I've accused him of all manners of calumny and I've been pretty much on target with my criticisms. So what?

The guy's job in the Church is to keep the sacraments flowing to the laity and herd the parish cats, maintaining some sort of order in a diocese that goes from the Spanish-speaking, blue-collar barrio to the Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla plutocrats. If he's lousy at certain things or he's got a severe lean to the political left, well, he can't play in the NBA, either. That's not his job.

Everything outside of his main tasks - sacraments and cat-herding - are our jobs. If the number of people in church keeps dwindling, that's our job. What did I think, was our parish priest going to put on a blue leotard with a red S on his chest and red cape and then fly around San Diego, using his x-ray vision to convert people to the faith?

If the Church prelates are cowards who want to go with the cultural zeitgeist and hoist rainbow flags, talk about Global Warming Climate Change and push for Rassengerechtigkeit**, so what? It's not like we've got a particularly effeminate crop of priests and bishops, they were almost certainly always like that. It's that, here in America, we're facing a cultural zombie apocalypse. No one is ever prepared for such a thing and to have expected McElroy to go full Arnold Schwarzenegger was abandoning my duties in the face of evil.

In short, the laity is the Church, too. If we're getting thrashed, it's on us to fix it, each according to his or her talents. In fact, one could make a good argument that the bishop and the priests have more than held up their end of the bargain. I can go to Mass, the churches are well-lit, I can get all of the sacraments, there are buildings for meetings and talks and so forth. I'm the one who has failed the faith, not them.

If the churches are emptying and the RCIA classes are tiny, it was my job to evangelize. That Jesus dude even said so.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

That sounds like marching orders to me.

My blogging here, howling about the stupidity, the incompetence and the utter poltroonery of our leaders has just been a smoke screen deployed against myself, keeping me from seeing my own failures.

None of us were prepared for this. It's no wonder we've all been caught napping. As the left, acting according to its totalitarian nature, has completely taken over the culture, we've been, I've been, sitting around, flapping my gums and pointing at everyone else but me. The clip below from the excellent movie, Zulu, shows the proper way to deal with the situation, each of us filling a spot in the line. We didn't ask for this and we weren't prepared for it, but it is upon us.

I left it a bit long and the payoff is all the way at the end.

* - and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on...

** - Racial justice stuff always sounds so much better in the original German, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tobacco After Action Report

Well, I've had a few pipes full of my homegrown tobacco and all three of our sons have tried it as well. This year's crop can be considered a success. Here are the things I learned along the way.

The Plants

I raised Virginians and Tennesseans. The Virginians grew tall and slender. Their leaves were stately and well-behaved, as you would expect from plants grown in Robert E. Lee's home state. In a very gentlemanly manner, the leaves ripened from the bottom up and, had I not been pressed for time because of our remodel, it would have been easy to harvest them in the proper order as they yellowed. I ended up picking most of them when they were green, but they cooperated and browned nicely in the garage.

The Tennesseans were a squat, unruly lot. They were also impossible to kill, as you would expect from tobacco grown in Nathan Bedford Forrest's native land. Their broad, plentiful leaves never ripened and I ended up hacking off the stalks at the ground when I couldn't wait any longer for them to yellow.

Tennessee tobacco refusing to brown.

While the harvested leaves hung in the garage, the tobacco plants began growing again from the roots and soon there were hearty, new plants coming up in the back yard. Rebels, every one of them! They didn't know when to quit.

Fermentation

I tried a couple of methods of fermentation and finally found the trick. I put the leaves in Mason jars. The jars went into a plastic bin wrapped in insulation. A 60W bulb, controlled by a simple, bimetal spring thermostat, provided the heat. From time to time, I'd crank the thermostat high and let the bin get to 145, but for the most part, it averaged 120.

Some of the jars got spritzes or splashes of water to maintain the humidity inside of them. The splashes were a mistake. In fact, anything more than a spritz or two was a mistake. The more water I added, the more boiled collard greens I made. Two big jars of the Tennessee were effectively ruined in this way. Cranking up the humidity is highly overrated. My bet is that the leaves brought plenty with them.

Smoking

Our oldest son and I tried the first pipes up in Seattle. It turned out that the fermented tobacco was too moist and wouldn't stay lit. He had a real brain wave and put the leaves into his toaster over to dehydrate them. He also crushed the dried leaves and removed all the stems and veins. Properly prepared, the tobacco was jammed into our pipes and lit.

Smoking a pipe takes some experience. I finally learned to light it and then puff a few times on it to get the bowl going. Once it was, you could take drags at your leisure. Each bowl required two to three lightings to get all the way through.

Oldest and middle sons said they got a tobacco rush from it, but not know what that felt like, I'm not sure if I did or not. I do know it was a lot of fun to sit in the back yard, sipping Alabama whiskey and smoking home grown tobacco with the boys.

Worth A Repeat?

I'd say yes. Now that I know how to ferment the stuff, I won't have to grow 25 plants, I can grow nine or ten. I ruined almost all of the Virginia with my initial fermentation failures.

As for which variety, well, that's a tough one. In Seattle, it seemed like the Virginia was clearly better. Here in San Diego, a different selection suggested that the Tennessee was better. I think that to have a fair comparison, I'd need to do it again next year and be much more careful with the harvesting and fermentation in order to get a good reading.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Fight For Racial Justice

Make no mistake, I'm a fan of Rod Dreher and Carl Trueman. On his blog at the American Conservative, Rod pointed out this post by Carl. Here's some relevant snippets.

It is now clear that orthodox Protestants, specifically evangelicals, do not own the country. Whether they ever did is a matter for debate; that they thought they did is indisputable...

As Protestants wake up to this fact that they do not own the country, two things will happen.

First, as the terms of membership in society’s officer class change, those who value their social status will likely change too. I anticipate that the standard “personally opposed but publicly supportive” argument that has served Catholic elites so well for so many years will become a standard part of the elite Protestant playbook, replacing the current penchant for specious “third ways.” It will, of course, only be selectively applied when necessary to slough off the practical implications of embarrassing points of orthodoxy—such as those connected to sexuality—which might interfere with club membership...

(I)t is now obvious the Christian position on the key issues of membership in society today—those of sexual identity, gender, abortion—cannot but implicate one in public debates and will merit the title of bigot. Being literate and urbane, being able to mix a good martini Vesper—such things simply will not compensate for the rejection of whatever identity, act, or right progressive society next decides is non-negotiable. And we now need church leaders and thinkers who understand this and are prepared for the social consequences. If the leaders will not lead with the truth, why should the people take a stand on the truth? 

That last question, "If the leaders will not lead with the truth, why should the people take a stand on the truth?" is a home run. The rest of it is just a lot of useless hand-wringing.

We need to stop whining and start forcing them to live by their own standards.

The progressive positions on racial justice and sexuality don't work on their own terms. They are utterly incompatible. As a scoreboard, let's take the favorite cause of the progressives, black lives. As I understand it, they matter. Let's compare them to Asian lives.

Cause - Illegitimacy

Asians win this one, 7-1. Births out of wedlock are "seven out of ten for African Americans, to one out of ten for Asian Americans." 

Effect - Education

Asians win the SAT score contest 1239-934.

Effect - Murders

In Chicago, Asians win this one 78-4. Here, I'm lumping in whites, just to make the populations more or less equal.

Effect - Income

Asians actually lap blacks, more than doubling their income level, 100-48.

At Any Level, We Win

Up to now, I've resisted calling for "racial justice" because I was engaging in a knee-jerk reaction against the jerks who were giving me the political knee with the term. No more of that for me. If "racial justice" means working for more equal outcomes, then count me in on that team. 

I would like to see everyone have the same opportunities to succeed and thrive as anyone else. To do that, we need to stop kneecapping children by running around claiming that all families are equal. If they were, then Asians and Blacks, both of which are people of color and subject to whatever white supremacist attacks and structural racism are out there, would have similar scores. They clearly don't. It's not even close.

Pursuing racial justice the Ibram X. Kendi way is like owning the Detroit Lions and never firing the coaching staff and front office when the team stinks. Ibram and the rest are losers. Yelling and marching and protesting and voting are useless. There's only one way out.

Instead of fighting the progressives' definitions, we can simply use them ourselves.

BOOM.
"I'll just leave this little pamphlet here. You may read it at your leisure ..."

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Three Noble Virtues

In a group text thread, the San Diego Loyal Order of Bloggers (SLOBs), were recently discussing this reaction to my viral Twitter thread. Here's an excerpt.

The truth on sex was an early casualty in the American left's long waged war on the truth.  For those who have foolishly decided to rule their own world — the age-old problem of humanity — going one's own way in the sexual realm is a popular, and typically very early, decision.  In America, around the middle of the twentieth century, "liberation" and "sexual freedom" were typical battle cries for those who wanted to pursue a life of sexual promiscuity and other hedonistic activities.

As much as I appreciate the author taking the time to discuss my thread, I'm going to push back on the essay. It's not a war on the truth or anything so grand. It's the result of a substitution of moral values. When we got rid of God, we also got rid of the atomic virtues.

  • Thou shalt not lie,
  • Thou shalt not steal,
  • Thou shalt not covet,

... and so on. Those virtues were independent of your aims. Lying is a sin, even when you lie for a good cause. That's been the source of conflict in many lives - was it wrong to lie to my sister about the infidelity of her late husband?

Well, we did away with those in favor of larger-scale virtues. I propose the list below as the current top three. They change over time, but the concept of purpose trumping atomic virtues remains.

  • Climate Change,
  • Racial Justice and
  • Gender Affirmation.

Conservatives get their knickers in a twist over the lies the left uses to advance these goals. I blogged about it two days ago, discussing how NBC News implicitly slandered South Carolina parents as racist. Thinking more about that post and more about the SLOBs conversation, it dawned on me that, as a part of the secularization of America, we're experiencing transfer of moral power. Gone are the virtues from the Bible and taking their place are the progressive virtues listed above.

It's no sin to lie if the lie advances the cause of Racial Justice.

One more example. The left loves to call us fascists. This drives me bonkers as fascism is well-defined and clearly does not apply to the right. Fascism is the dominance and cooperation of government and big business in pursuit of a larger, national goal. Mussolin wrote the foundational document on it, called, appropriately, The Doctrine of Fascism. The thing is short. You can read it in 90 minutes or so. 

When I've seen people call us fascists on Twitter, I reply with an angry, Pavlovian spasm, "Do you even know what fascism is?"

Of course they don't. They don't care. They're not going to waste their time reading some blather from the 1930s and they don't need to do so, not in their moral universe. They're pursuing Racial Justice or Gender Affirmation which excuses any and all lies and distortions.

What's more, they don't see it as a moral problem. That's why the NBC News team had no problem slandering the South Carolinians. 

We're talking past each other. It's one of the sources of our national divide.

"This is all lies!"

"You hate black people!"

Those are discussion points at completely different levels of abstraction. Lies are at the atomic level and racism is at the structural level.

We're talking atoms, they're talking biospehere.