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  • Archive for the 'Civil Society' Category

    Road Trip

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th May 2021 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit and I did a moderately-lengthy road trip this past week. Probably the last until she is delivered by C-section of the Grandson Unit, which momentous event is likely to be scheduled for the last week of this month or the first in June – after the neighborhood baby shower, and before the Memorial Day weekend of the Texas Book Festival in Seguin, at which I have a table. (The festival was cancelled last year, all of us who had bought a place at it were carried over to this year, when hopefully, all festival events will return to something resembling pre-Commie Crud normality.)

    We drove the trusty Montero Sport to suburban Austin, to the Daiso store; Daiso might be described as the Japanese version of the Dollar Tree, Family Dollar or 99 Cent Store; all kinds of relatively inexpensive Japanese tchotchkes for hobby, household, and kitchen. We both have rather a soft spot for Japanese items of this kind, since both of us served military tours at US bases in Japan. There are no Daiso stores anywhere closer than Austin, although there are a number of them in Los Angeles. So – Austin it was, and after Daiso, to Pflugerville for the Aldi grocery store. We both rather like Aldi, home of the quarter-to-get-a-grocery-cart and pack-your-own-bags. They offer a reasonable selection of quality goods at very reasonable prices. It’s just that there is no Aldi closer to San Antonio than Pflugerville, and another in Victoria; a mite too far to go, unless we were in the area for another purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Capitalism, Civil Society, Current Events, Personal Narrative, Society, Texas | 15 Comments »

    Father and Jack: Conversation as Life Preserver

    Posted by Ginny on 1st May 2021 (All posts by )

    My grandsons wonder about life in the fifties, life in their mother’s mother’s village, state. So here’s a personal narrative. Each family was unique, but this does describe another time & place.

    Jack was one of my father’s friends, indeed his best and closest. And I’m pretty sure my father was Jack’s. A bit of a narcissist, still, he would sob about my father’s loss if we ran into him for years after my father died. I doubt the depth of sentimental drunks, but he thought the affection was real – for all I know it was. My father was moody; I suspect he always saw himself (as did those around him) as unfulfilled and unproductive. I brought home a boyfriend well on the way to being an expert in Italian medieval history; he was surprised my father wanted to talk about meta-history – what was true and what wasn’t about the great arcs. I wasn’t surprised my father wanted to talk about that – that was the kind of thing he liked. If your life is unmoored, you want to make sense of it. I suspect he spent some time wondering about those arcs – what was real and what wasn’t, what they meant. He had plenty of time to speculate and Jack was his companion. Conversation went late into the night, beginning when Jack showed up at our door.

    Neither Father nor Jack had much self-discipline, though a lack of self-discipline for those maturing in the dustbowl and enlisting in World War II, husbands and fathers in the fifties was not the immaturity of pajama boys living in their parents’ basements. My father felt some duty: to friends, town. And to tradition in a broad sense – it drove him and the Missouri Synod minster to start the Kenesaw Great Books Club, it made the Legion a social focus, kept him Presbyterian and Republican.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crony Capitalism, Human Behavior, Lit Crit, Personal Narrative | 10 Comments »

    Sax and Violins

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th April 2021 (All posts by )

    I’m being mildly sarcastic about the title of this post, which will mostly be about violence. And violence in the inner city, but the sarcasm comes because I have become increasingly annoyed at how the local public classical channel is making a big thing about highlighting classical composers of color and making a big thing about how they are noted composers of color. They’ve been doing the same thing about female composers, too, which accounts for the sax element. Even if those composers involved are perfectly adequate composers of the classical genre, I’m increasingly annoyed by how the fact that they were female and/or of color is being banged on about, most often in a mini lecture about how hard it was for them to get any respect at all because *insert brief lecture du jour*. It’s April and almost May, FFS: Black History month is done and dusted, and so is Woman’s History Month. I’m pretty much done with hearing about all of that. Just say “this *insert name of American composer of color* is an American composer of the umpty-umpth century, or this *insert name of female composer* is a German/Austrian/French/Luxemburgian composer of the umpty-umpth century and give the social actions-approved mini-lecture a freaking rest.

    So it seems that the mob has gotten the justice that they wanted when it came to the verdict in the matter of one Floyd, George, he of the massive fentanyl overdose while in police custody. Minneapolis, Minnesota has reaped the progressive whirlwind that they planted. The progressive mob demanded a human sacrifice; the rule of law need not apply when the mob bays for blood, local prosecutors go along with the mob, and corrupt hack politicians like Maxine Waters add their voice to the chorus demanding a blood sacrifice. No wonder that progressive school districts are omitting To Kill a Mockingbird from reading lists; too many bright teenagers would absorb the implications and recognize a lynch mob when one presents in real life. It also appears that the attempt to raise a new mob after the death of Ma’Khia Bryant at the hands of a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Except that Ma’Khia had a steak knife in hand, was lunging at another woman with apparently murderous intent, and the Columbus police department had the wit to release video footage of the encounter almost immediately, although certain pertinent questions have yet to be answered – like, why was she in foster care in the first place, who called 911, and what exactly set off the whole imbroglio. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Urban Issues | 20 Comments »

    Better Explanations?

    Posted by Ginny on 5th April 2021 (All posts by )

    We might be forgiven for thinking that China does not have our best interests in mind, given their halt of all national movement from Wuhan and encouragement of all international travel from Wuhan in the pandemic’s early months, given the secrecy that surrounds the Wuhan Institute and the belated admission of and tight controls on the WHO inspectors, etc. etc.

    The tragedy at our border is huge and this seems almost a small part of it, but some acts seem to parallel China’s: Why are Americans expected to isolate themselves from useful pursuits (such as work and education and church), while Covid-infected illegal immigrants are sent on planes and buses to the interior (not that I’m all that crazy about how their policies are also refreshing the epidemic in Texas).

    Stirring division, encouraging wokeness and discouraging economic recovery in Atlanta, ignoring the vulnerability of the border to human trafficking and terrorist entry, encouraging defunding the police and justice systems that show little (in some cases any) respect for property or the victims of violent crime: the quantity of “ironies” might be more easily explained as expected consequences to Biden/Harris policies. And so we might be forgiven for thinking that they, too, do not have our best interests in mind.

    With Trump I’d turn to Instapundit and notice every day little and big things that seemed to free us or make the future more attractive, one of the values was that doing and speaking seemed aligned and Orwellian obfuscation was not omnipresent; it is, now, as opposite patterns can be easily discerned. Both seemed to be “busy” presidents – though that this seems to be coming from Biden seems hard to believe, it certainly is coming from “his” White House. And one’s busyness leads to productivity and the other’s to stasis – the position of a sitting duck.

    Posted in China, Civil Society, Current Events, Immigration, Leftism, Texas | 29 Comments »

    Whose Lives Matter?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st April 2021 (All posts by )

    The seriously insistent woke of mostly upper-caste activists among us now insist that black lives matter, and matter most of all. And why? They claim that those Americans of somewhat African descent are consistently and viciously targeted by the rest of us solely for the color of their skin. The content of the character of the inner-city urban element of that demographic gets rather less consideration on the part of the Professionally Woke. The conduct of those poor, misunderstood children of the inner city sink neighborhoods is, to say the least, somewhat questionable. Examples abound, the most recent example being the pair of feral teenagers who hijacked a delivery driver’s vehicle in Washington DC last weekend, and subsequently crashed the vehicle, killing the delivery driver in the wreck. For decades there have been depressingly violent crimes perpetuated by the urban thug elements of color on their neighbors, local retailers, and passing strangers of all colors and ethnic backgrounds occurring on a regular basis, without much comment by the Professionally Woke other than to blame white prejudice/systemic racism for Making Them Do The Crime.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Leftism, Media, Urban Issues | 73 Comments »

    Trimming the Kids to Fit the Template

    Posted by David Foster on 26th March 2021 (All posts by )

    Kevin Meyer, in his post Leveraging the Solitude of Leadership, cites a lecture delivered at West Point by essayist William Deresiewicz…who started by describing his experience on the Yale admissions committee:

    The first thing the admissions officer would do when presenting a case to the rest of the committee was read what they call the “brag” in admissions lingo, the list of the student’s extracurriculars.

    So what I saw around me were great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers. Any goal you set them, they could achieve. Any test you gave them, they could pass with flying colors. They were, as one of them put it herself, “excellent sheep.” I had no doubt that they would continue to jump through hoops and ace tests and go on to Harvard Business School, or Michigan Law School, or Johns Hopkins Medical School, or Goldman Sachs, or McKinsey consulting, or whatever. And this approach would indeed take them far in life.

    That is exactly what places like Yale mean when they talk about training leaders. Educating people who make a big name for themselves in the world, people with impressive titles, people the university can brag about. People who make it to the top. People who can climb the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy they decide to attach themselves to.

    But I think there’s something desperately wrong, and even dangerous, about that idea.

    Dangerous how?  Largely because of all that emphasis on hoop-jumping…

    What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.

    A couple of weeks ago, a WSJ bookshelf piece titled The Price of Admission reviewed Little Platoons, by Matt Feeney, the theme of which is “a growing incursion of market forces into the family home.”

    In the ambitious, competitive environments that Mr Feeney describes, year-round sports clubs and camps promote not joyful play or healthy exertion but ‘development’ and preparation for advancement to ‘the next level’–where the good, choiceworthy thing is always a few hard steps away.  If there is a terminus to this process, it is admission to a good college, which is, for many of the parents Mr Feeney describes, the all-encompassing goal of child-rearing.

    As a result, the most powerful and insidious interlopers in Mr Feeney’s story turn out to be elite college admissions officers.  These distant commissars quietly communicate a vision of the 18-year-old who will be worthy of passing between their ivied arches, and ‘eager, anxious, ambitious kids’, the author tells us, upon ‘hearing of the latest behavioral and character traits favored by admissions people, will do their best to affect or adopt these traits.’

    The emphasis on college admissions, especially ‘elite’ college admissions, has given enormous power to the administrators involved in this process–people who are ‘vain and blinkered’, in Mr Feeney’s words. They are also capricious:

    Admissions officers once looked favorably upon students who captained every team, founded every club and spent every school break building homes in Africa and drilling for the SATs. Ambitious students and parents obliged, shaping family life in accordance to those preferences. In time, though, colleges found themselves deluged with résumé-padding renaissance students. Doing everything was no longer a sign of distinction, so admissions personnel changed the signals they were sending. “Now,” Mr. Feeney says, “instead of ‘well-rounded’ generalist strivers, admissions officers favor the passionate specialist, otherwise known as the ‘well-lopsided’ applicant.” Striving families are only too happy to comply.

    I haven’t read Mr Feeney’s book, but at least as far as the college admissions process goes, I’d question whether it reflects ‘the intrusion of market forces’ into family life–if America was to go all the way to government ownership and control of those functions now performed by businesses, the malign effects of the admissions hoop-jumping described by the author would be just about the same.

    In any case, people who are taught to center their lives and personalities around this admissions process, and the subsequent educational experience, are unlikely to be either first-class innovators or first-class leaders.

    And, worse, the process makes them less likely to become thoughtful and courageous citizens.  In the comments to this post, commenter OBloodyHell quoted Walt Whitman:

    There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.

    “Roughness and spirit of defiance” are not likely to be compatible with the admissions process…and the education…that are all too common in American universities today.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Education, Society, USA | 48 Comments »

    The World Turned Upside Down – What Is The Endgame?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd March 2021 (All posts by )

    Seriously, I’m still trying to make sense of it all – that an anodyne and apparently harmlessly patriotic organization like the Oathkeepers can suddenly become the Awful Violent and Whiteness-Counterrevolutionary Group From Hell, at least in the eyes of the National Establishment Media and their minions in social media. In my Tea Party days, we met with a couple of members of the Oathkeeper leadership cadre; they were speakers at a couple of events, IIRC. A fair number of the local Tea Party organizers whom I worked with were retired military. And frankly, the Oathkeepers looked to be … well, just ordinary and earnest common or garden-variety patriots with a background in the military and law enforcement.

    This is only to be expected in a town like San Antonio, familiarly known as the Mother In Law to the Air Force (as enlisted basic training is located there as are a number of specialty tech schools, officer training used to be, and flight training for various aircraft is still carried out). San Antonio is also the Home of Army Medicine, as training for Army medical personnel has been performed at Fort Sam and Brooke Army Medical – the end result being that one cannot heave a brick in any direction in San Antonio without hitting at least a dozen military retirees of every rank and service. The schtick of the Oathkeepers was basically – renewing the enlistment oath.

     “I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

    It seems now that the words “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” are those that give the heebie jeebies to the powers that be in the rickety and ramshackle structure that is the Biden Administration, and those sad and addled creatures who have the unenviable task of doing their media bidding. Kind of sad, really – as a sidebar to my main thesis, that the Mainstream Establishment Media is willingly, nay yet enthusiastically volunteering to do the same job that propagandists for Stalin’s Red Empire did at the threat of a sentence to the Gulag or to a shot in the back of the skull in the basement of a CHEKA HQ somewhere. But willing toadies to power are always a dime a dozen.

    Seeing conservative activists being arrested for merely being in Washington on the day of the massive protest (commonly called a riot or insurrection by prog-leaning media and law enforcement) and held indefinitely without bail, while frequent-flyer Antifa/BLM rioters are on the catch-and-released-on-bail/charges dropped program, in spite of the year-long Antifa/BLM riots actually having done reckless damage to various cities. I presume that this difference is because the Antifa/BLM riots actually did substantial damage to ordinary flyover-country American property owners, whereas the Washington protest in January only scared the crap out of the Ruling Class.

    Different strokes for different folks, according to the convenience of the Ruling class. Now there is a political measure afoot to pressure businesses into pledging loyalty to the regime by publicly affirming that the 2020 Election was completely fair and above-board. Or else. What is the eventual endgame in all of this? Pushing ordinary and patriotic citizens into a violent reaction, and thereby justifying further repression of non-prog thought? Discuss as you wish. I’ll get to the politization of the military in another post.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Personal Narrative, Politics, Tea Party, The Press, Urban Issues | 34 Comments »

    Green Shoots

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd March 2021 (All posts by )

    It’s springtime, and there are some signs of hope.

    People who reached their breaking point on ‘wokeness’.

    See also: How to defend free speech.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, USA | 5 Comments »

    A (partially successful) attempt at a reasoned response

    Posted by Ginny on 20th March 2021 (All posts by )

    to Harris/Biden in Atlanta on Friday. Or an exercise explaining Why I swear at the tv. Mid-way to rational thought, it is at least better than ***!!!###. Aside: Posting here is a great gift. Writing – like speech with others – forces us to use words. Our founders would use the word deliberate, to move from gut response to reason. Let’s begin with them for perspective:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . “

    “Hate crimes” violate not only our laws but our core belief that in each (and all) is a divine spark, that is one way we are truly equal. However, “hate” for an individual or a random act of pointless violence is also hate. Inchoate anger is hardly virtuous. Haters choose the weak, the dependent, the isolated, the outlier; they want neither consequences nor pricks of conscience. “Knock out” punches throw the weak, the elderly, the unprepared to the ground and are often too random to easily assign blame; knowing society identifies less with such victims makes quick punishment less likely; an important distance comes from convincing one’s self such a victim is not “equal”, is not human – that stills the conscience.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, COVID-19, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Human Behavior, Immigration, Politics, Texas, Tradeoffs | 59 Comments »

    The Zombie of Reparations

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th March 2021 (All posts by )

    Oh, for the Love of Life Orchestra, the rotting spectral zombie of reparations for slavery of African-Americans is staggering out of the graveyard of bad political ideas once more, and onto the stage of public discussion. It’s a Biden-approved notion (or a notion of whichever puppet-master has their hand up Biden’s fundament) and I note that the thrust of the matter is only to discuss the possibility.

    Which makes me suspect that this new and respectably presidential consideration is a token gesture, a sop to the militant BLM activists and the old racial shakedown coterie, and the constituents they proport to represent; mostly the semi-literate, barely skilled lifetime welfare-receiving urban thug element, who have an insatiable appetite for monetary graft, free stuff and slivers of unearned privilege. The racial shakedown coterie does very well out of catering to those clients in any case, and it is their best interests that the shakedown continues even unto the umpteenth generation. If we are very fortunate, the stupidest, most controversial and divisive bad idea since Prohibition will never get any farther than the discussion phase, but if it does – and I wouldn’t put it past the current batch of Woke-ists to their best to make it work – it won’t. It will likely fail, catastrophically. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Leftism, Politics, Predictions, Urban Issues | 59 Comments »

    Jimmy Stewart and My First Job

    Posted by Ginny on 5th March 2021 (All posts by )

    A comment on one of Dan’s great posts of business reminded me of my work life. Plunging in – getting caught up in the moment – I don’t have much to give someone beginning. I love his ability to step back, to analyze, to learn. This is personal, of a time past.

    I haven’t had a career – I’ve had jobs: a Kelly job here, teaching one there and here, building the business. Hannity talks manual labor, beginning long before he was 16 and ending in front of the cameras in blue jeans; he’d think himself less of a man in a suit. Work = who I am, yes, that I understand. I consider myself the kind of person who delivered papers: from 6th grade through 8th, I think, the Omaha World Herald; in high school the Hastings Tribune. That was who I was, what Kenesaw was, what the fifties were. It reassures me – I came from that time, that place, that role. I’m less and less sure of memories, but bicycling around town, putting the paper in the doors – that was me.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Education, Film, Personal Narrative | 11 Comments »

    Those Whom The Gods Would Destroy

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th February 2021 (All posts by )

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

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Diversions, Film, Leftism, Media | 44 Comments »

    A Sadly Revealing Story

    Posted by David Foster on 13th February 2021 (All posts by )

    A Houston physician named Dr. Hasan Gokal had a limited quantity of the Moderna covid vaccine to distribute.  The vial had been opened, and the vaccine would expire in six hours. He could either find 10 qualified people to administer it to, or just throw it away.  He chose the former course, rounding up 10 people, some of whom were acquaintances and others strangers.

    For that, he was fired from his job and criminally prosecuted.

    Officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away. According to Dr Gokal,  one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.

    So, if he had just thrown away this scarce and valuable vaccine, he would have been just fine.  Because he used his judgment and took action, he lost his job and was prosecuted…the judge threw the charge out for its ridiculousness, but the prosecutor, whose name is Kim Ogg, has vowed to present the matter to a grand jury.

    We seem to be moving to a point in America today where the less you do, the better off you are: don’t use your individual judgment, don’t take action without bureaucratic approvals, don’t conduct informal conversations and don’t tell jokes.

    I am reminded of the Spanish naval official (see my post here) who in 1797 wrote a plaintive essay on the topic: Why do we keep losing to the British, and what can we do about it?

    An Englishman enters a naval action with the firm conviction that his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends and allies without looking out for directions in the midst of the fight; and while he thus clears his mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in confidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated by the same principles as himself, will be bound by the sacred and priceless principle of mutual support.

    Accordingly, both he and his fellows fix their minds on acting with zeal and judgement upon the spur of the moment, and with the certainty that they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, working under a system which leans to formality and strict order being maintained in battle, has no feeling for mutual support, and goes into battle with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of seeing or hearing the commander-in-chief’s signals for such and such manoeures…

    Thus they can never make up their minds to seize any favourable opportunity that may present itself. They are fettered by the strict rule to keep station which is enforced upon then in both navies, and the usual result is that in one place ten of their ships may be firing on four, while in another four of their comrades may be receiving the fire of ten of the enemy. Worst of all they are denied the confidence inspired by mutual support, which is as surely maintained by the English as it is neglected by us, who will not learn from them.

    I think Don Grandallana would recognize many of the behavior patterns in America today as being the same kind of thing that were so destructive to his country’s chances in battle.

    Note that Dr Gokal was questioned about a lack of ‘equity’ in his distribution of the vaccines. “Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” he asked.  Exactly, he was told.

    Time available for the vaccine distribution was strictly limited; Dr Gokal probably contacted patients and other people he knew and many of them were Indian.  Was he supposed to get demographic data for his county and ensure that the people he contacted matched the average statistical profile?

    I am also reminded of something written by historian AJP Taylor about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, cited in my post here:

    The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    We are now at the point in America where every possible decision and situation, down to the time-critical administration of vaccines, must be looked at through ethnic lenses. We may be heading for the same kind of creaky and rather dysfunctional society as was Austria-Hungary…and it’s quite possible that the actual outcome will be something much darker.

    Lead and Gold cited Sir John Keegan on British impressions of American GI’s who arrived in that country during WWII:

    Americans did not defer; that was the first and strongest of the impressions they made. European travelers to the United States had made that observation even in the eighteenth century, and it was made wholesale by British observers of the GIs. In a society which worked by deference, there were many who were shocked by the upstandingness of the individual American soldier. Enlisted men did not know their place, and their officers seemed unconcerned by the free-and-easy ways of their men. Many of the British, who had been taught their place well, found they liked the Americans for their casualness and admired a system of discipline which worked by getting things done. American energy: that was the second impression. 

    In America today, we seem to have lost much of that spirit.  Can we get it back?

     

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Organizational Analysis, Society, USA | 50 Comments »

    Revolutionary Virginia’s Law and Lawyers

    Posted by Ginny on 11th February 2021 (All posts by )

    My middle daughter gave me “Murder in the Shenandoah: Making Law Sovereign in Revolutionary Virginia”, for Christmas. I was touched she thought I’d read a book from Cambridge’s Studies in Legal History; in fact, once I’d started found she was quite right. Her friend, Jessica Lowe, was trained in law but found legal history sufficiently beguiling to finish her doctorate with this dissertation. Full of footnotes, it is also rich with observations on law and human nature, clothed in a lovely style, that proves entertaining to even an uninformed reader.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Law, North America | 3 Comments »

    Narrowing Horizons

    Posted by David Foster on 31st January 2021 (All posts by )

    William Shirer, on his experiences in Germany during the early Nazi era:

    I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for the truth, said they were.

    Even though Shirer had plenty of access to outside news and information sources, and was well aware of Nazi lies, he still found it difficult to escape psychologically from the effects of the stiflingly-constrained information environment.

    Many of us have wondered how intelligent people–some of whom we may know personally–can fall so completely under the spell of the Democrat worldview, as it exists in its present ‘woke’ state…a worldview which is replete with ‘the most outlandish assertions,’ to use Shirer’s phrase.  But consider: if one gets one’s news from CNN, MSNBC, and even the traditional networks, and from newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and their imitators…and one’s entertainment from mainstream movies and musical groups…and one works for a company, university, or ‘nonprofit’…then one is living within a highly uniform information and opinion environment. Yes, you might be exposed to the occasional dissident opinion on social media or directly from friends and acquaintances, but you will develop ‘antibodies’, inculcated by the approved sources, which lead you to dismiss such opinions as conspiracy theories, brainwashing by Trump, or something similar.

    It is, of course, much easier to find dissenting voices in 2021 America than it was in the time and place of which Shirer wrote.  (Shirer does say that ‘in those days, in the Thirties, a German listener could still tune his dial to a score of foreign radio stations’ without taking much risk…but most didn’t, evidently, or chose to disbelieve what they heard from outside sources.)

    The psychological drive to conform reinforces the controlled information environment and discourages explorations outside of it.  In my post Oxytocin and Conformity, I cited some research on how the ‘cuddling and belonging’ hormone oxytocin affects public and private conformity, and recalled one of the episodes of the TV series The World at War in which a German man spoke about the temptation to conform.  He had been strongly anti-Nazi, but admitted that he had felt a strong emotional pull to join the rallies and be a part of the the movement.  (He said it much more eloquently than the foregoing sentence would suggest)  I also cited a blog post whose author, after critiquing the craziness of the extreme “progressives,”  went on to say:

    I’m going to be very real with you for a moment, and take off my hat has a blogger, an author, and whatever else I may be, and just speak to you as a man.

    This could have been me.

    Does that surprise you? There was a time I skirted so close to falling under this spell, it would shock you. I felt the guilt, the social pressure, the desire for conformity. Despite the terrible weight such ideology carries on the mind, it is absurdly easy to fall into it. Every day we are assaulted by the agitprop. It is so easy to just say “yes, it’s all my fault, I will submit and obey.”

    It will bring momentary relief, because you will no longer have to fight a narrative that is bombarded upon you 24 hours a day. That mental effort is, itself, rather exhausting on the mind. But if you accept the chains, that is a far greater weight, one that will destroy you. The chains are seductive. They call, because of the enormous weight of social power behind them.

    The pressure is both great and subtle. Imagine a conversation about the weather, innocent enough on its own. A friend might say “wow, that global warming sure is kicking in today!” You’ve a few choices here. You can challenge him, but the immediate counter is likely to be something like “well, 99% of scientists agree, sooooo….” The implication, of course, is that you are stupid for disagreeing with 99% of scientists (whether or not there is any truth to that claim, either). You could remain silent because it’s easier. Or you could just give in, regardless of the truth of the matter, because it’s easiest. Meanwhile, if you counter your friend successfully, you may be down a friend by the end of the night.

    So whether or not a lot of folks believe this thing, soon consensus is reached, as much to peer pressure as anything else. Then it is, further, easier to agree on welfare, tax policy, affirmative action, black lives matter, social justice, etc… Each one has a superficial rhetorical argument which sounds nice, and which has enormous media programming and social pressure behind it.

    A thousand such chats happen every day, both in the real world, and the social media world. The sum total of which is designed to move you, via peer pressure and Weaponized Empathy, toward self-hatred, and intense personal guilt for things which you neither did, nor were capable of preventing.

    Soon a man might find himself agreeing with lunatic propositions that all Republicans are literal Nazis, and Donald Trump is worse than Hitler because… well, nobody really knows the reasons.

    Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul.

    I am not asserting that the present-day Democrat belief system is identical to Naziism (although there are indeed some disturbing similarities as well as differences), or that the control of the information environment is as tight as what existed in mid-1930s Germany…but still, when you step back and look at all the ways in which a consistent worldview is being promulgated and views from outside that worldview are being suppressed, then the information horizons–especially for those people who don’t have a particularly strong need to think for themselves or willingness to challenge accepted beliefs–are narrowing at a pretty frightening rate.

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Science, Society, USA | 52 Comments »

    Big Brother Watches Dilbert

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd January 2021 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz are excellent managers – and have opinions. I’m curious how effective you see:
    TECH THAT AIMS TO IMPROVE MEETINGS.

    If you aren’t sufficiently paranoid about 25,000 National Guards brought in for a nonexistent “coup” sleeping on the freezing floor of a parking garage and hearing they will be there until March (I don’t know how Abbott’s order to bring his men home is going – at least the Texas contingent should leave sooner), then consider Big Brother recording your blood pressure and eye contact at your next business meeting. (Does this seem a breakthrough in efficiency or something akin the Stasi in The Lives of Others?)

    It gives useful information; it might encourage quieter members and rein in talkative ones. Could interest be faked for the camera? But a leader who doesn’t sense the mood of the room and who doesn’t encourage contributions and differing approaches tactfully would probably not use AI information well either.

    Neither as employee or employer did I find these necessary (probably incorrectly). Forced into biannual meetings, I fell asleep or went off on diversions. This technology would quickly cull me (“Doesn’t play well with others”). But I’m not sure that makes it, well, bad. Invasive, yes. Nonetheless, I suspect it fosters conformity and forces consensus: in short, is UnAmerican. But maybe that’s just me.

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Diversions, Management, Miscellaneous, Organizational Analysis, Tech | 22 Comments »

    Censorship Week

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th January 2021 (All posts by )

    This week has seen a sharp jump in censorship. The most obvious is the ban of President Trump from Twitter. I never joined Twitter but it did give the president a way around the “Legacy Media” which was uniformly hostile. Fox News was a partial exception but that is limited to a few hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

    Trump was not the only one to be censored. An alternative to Twitter was Parler, a similar site that promised an alternative. It was quickly canceled by Amazon Web Services, which is the money making arm of Bezos’ empire. The reason given was the usual “violation of standards,” which means “We disagree with your politics.”

    Thousands of Trump supporters have been banned or deplatformed by the militant left, or in a few instances, the NeverTrump right. I have been suspended by Facebook for using the term “Russia Hoax.” Obviously, the political left is determined to oust anyone who questions the election result. This is more typical of Fascist and authoritarian regimes, like Turkey or China. Since we have an incoming regime aligned with China, this is not much of a surprise.

    What was a bit unusual was the same censorship by the NeverTrump right. I quit and rejoined the blog Ricochet several times. The first was a squabble over evolution. I discussed it at the time.

    Subsequently, I joined again, encouraged by a friend. I quit again, when suspended for using the term “TDS” and then rejoined again. My friend has subsequently quit himself. I had noticed a distinct NeverTrump tone, which has diminished as Trump’s presidency has been successful. What did not diminish is the NeverTrump sentiments of the administrators. Today, I received the email below.

    “Dear MichaelKennedy,

    Your Ricochet account has been suspended for 7 days, during which time you will be unable to post or comment. When you joined Ricochet, you agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct. In the last month you have racked up the following violations.

    You have a habit of insulting members who you disagree with as “Vichy Republicans”.

    https://ricochet.com/857597/senator-tom-cottons-statement/#comment-5109752
    https://ricochet.com/857165/good-for-nick-sandmann/comment-page-2/#comment-5108696
    Perhaps you didn’t realize that this was offensive. But in the following comment a moderator warned people in this thread that it is not acceptable.

    https://ricochet.com/857165/good-for-nick-sandmann/comment-page-2/#comment-5108759
    Rather than acknowledging that warning or letting it pass without comment, you argued your case.

    https://ricochet.com/857165/good-for-nick-sandmann/comment-page-2/#comment-5109503
    Then you continue your defiance in this comment.

    https://ricochet.com/857165/good-for-nick-sandmann/comment-page-3/#comment-5110322
    Then you whip it out again here.

    https://ricochet.com/867992/rep-jim-jordan-to-seek-ouster-of-rep-liz-cheney-from-leadership-position/comment-page-2/#comment-5155010
    Here’s another example of your incivility.

    https://ricochet.com/864572/a-withdrawal/comment-page-4/#comment-5146865
    D.A. Venters has been arguing in good faith and you issued the following insult. “Arsonist in a field of straw men again. Go away. Maybe Democrats would have you.”

    A moderator redacted part of that and in this comment,

    https://ricochet.com/867992/rep-jim-jordan-to-seek-ouster-of-rep-liz-cheney-from-leadership-position/comment-page-2/#comment-5155061
    Regards,

    The Ricochet Moderators”

    Since I consider the administrators, at least those who have posted their opinions, Vichy Republicans, I am not surprised they are upset. I consider those who represent themselves as Republicans and then join the opposition/enemy when a battle is lost or in doubt to be similar to the members of the French government that joined the Nazis when France lost the war in 1940. Some of those Ricochet members that I “insulted” had announced they were voting for Biden, others have supported the sham impeachment.

    Anyway, I quit for the third and last time.

    I should add that I do not like the current version of WordPress. I could not get it to publish this post on my blog.

    

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Internet, Trump | 74 Comments »

    The Times That Try Men’s Souls

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th January 2021 (All posts by )

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

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

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Internet, Leftism, Media | 39 Comments »

    Smashing the State

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 9th January 2021 (All posts by )

    There won’t be any surprises in this one for anyone who knows me at all well, but I’ll try to at least make it entertaining.

    My very first lasting memory of a news event with political content took place on the afternoon of Sunday 21 January 1968. A B-52 with four hydrogen bombs aboard took off from Thule AFB and crashed somewhere in the Arctic, location unknown.
    Ten days later, the Tet Offensive began.
    Nine weeks and one day after that, Dr King was assassinated.
    Nine weeks less one day after that, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
    Twelve weeks to the day after that, I first saw real human blood shed live on television via cameras above the intersection of Michigan and Balbo as the Chicago police attacked demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention.

    I was eight years old.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Libertarianism, Management, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 42 Comments »

    What happened Wednesday?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Roy Says:
    January 7th, 2021 at 10:23 pm
    Mike, does there exist a way to prove your observation about Antifa cadre and about cops helping them specifically up the stairs? I know that we’re not supposed to trust our instincts nor our lying eyes, but…

    We will probably never get proof as the evidence will be swept away as quickly as evidence of vote fraud has been swept away. This operation was designed to harm Trump’s ability to influence policy in the next four years and to discredit him with the gullible who have not already become Democrats.

    Here is one account from eyewitnesses.

    According to the website “wildprotest.com,” the original plan was to gather at the Whitehouse Ellipse from 9am to 12pm, then gather at the North lawn of the Capitol building at 1 pm. As you may well know, not only did it not happen this way, but the aforementioned website went blank. Did they take it down to make it harder for Trump supporters to show that storming the building was never part of the initial plan?

    This account is from an attendee who witnessed some of the events but not inside the capitol.

    My group boarded a D.C. Metro train at 10:30am. Upon arrival to the next station, I saw three young white men board the train with dark clothes and skeleton face masks. My immediate concern was that these were Antifa thugs who would give us trouble as soon as they saw us get off the train with our signs. As I watched them from the corner of my eye, I noticed that one of them wore a cape with the American Revolution snake “Join or die.” Were these Trump supporters? Something did not seem quite right. As the train approached our destination, other rally participants started to fill our coach and we arrived at the Ellipse with no incident.

    It seemed a typical Trump rally.

    The main difference that struck me as unusual during this rally (apart from the three young men who boarded the train) was the frequent smell of marijuana.

    We were present during much of the President’s speech, but since we could not hear it clearly, we walked to the National Mall in search of a bathroom. We found a public restroom on the mall with two lines of over 50 people. We then proceeded to walk down the Mall towards the Capitol building in search of porta-potties and found one with a line of about 20-30 people. Our wait was only 20 minutes, but it was overflowing, and I felt very bad for the women in our group. During the previous rally there had been many portable toilets on the Mall. This lack of facilities was anticipated because we were advised in one list serve to wear diapers. I had the impression the D.C. mayor wanted to make it less comfortable for us.

    There is more, a lot more. You will have to search for it, though.

    Here is another account from the NY Post.

    At least two known Antifa members were spotted among the throngs of pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol on Wednesday, a law enforcement source told The Post.

    The Antifa members disguised themselves with pro-Trump clothing to join in the DC rioting, said the sources, who spotted the infiltrators while monitoring video coverage from the Capitol.

    The infiltrators were recognized due to their participation in New York City demonstrations, and were believed to have joined in the rioting so that Trump would get blamed, the source said.

    Here is another known Antifa/BLM terrorist.

    I expect there was a cadre of up to 100 Antifa terrorists and they used the same tactics we have seen since Minneapolis in June. They do the window breaking and encourage others, black looters in Minneapolis, Trump overenthusiastic supporters in DC, to follow their lead.

    It was a successful op. Someone should have anticipated this but Trump staffers are too busy abandoning ship. I have read of “hundreds” of arrests coming. Who wants to bet that they will all be the Trump people and Antifa will get clean away?

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Law Enforcement, Politics, Trump | 46 Comments »

    Book Review: Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    Posted by David Foster on 5th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    —-

    This is a pulp SF novel from 1954, which has uncomfortable relevance to our present era.

    The story is set in the then-future year of 1990.  The United States is still nominally a democracy, but the real power lies with the social engineers…sophisticated advertising & PR men…who use psychological methods to persuade people that they really want what they are supposed to want.  (Prefiguring “nudging”)  The social engineers are aided in their tasks by a giant computer called Sociac (500,000 vacuum tubes! 860,000 relays!) and colloquially known as ‘Herbie.’  The political system now in place is called Democratic Rule by Consent.  While the US still has a President, he is a figurehead and the administration of the country is actually done by the General Manager of the United States….who himself serves at the pleasure of the social engineers.  The social engineers work in a department called ‘Communications’, which most people believe is limited to such benign tasks as keeping the telephones and the television stations in operation.  Actually, its main function is the carrying out of influence operations.

    One approach involves the publishing of novels which are fictional, but carry implicit social and/or political messages…via, for example, the beliefs and affiliations of the bad guys versus the good guys. Even the structure of novels is managed for messaging reasons: romance-story plots should not be boy gets girl…loses girl…gets girl back, but rather boy gets girl, loses girl, gets different girl who is really right for him.

    Some methods are more direct, although their real objectives are not stated.  One such objective is population control: If the fertility rate is running a little low, advertising is ramped up for a pill called Glamorenes, which are said to create the “rounded, glamorous figure of a TV star…remember–it’s Glamorenes for glamor.”  Actually, the real function of Glamorenes, which is top secret, is to increase a woman’s sex drive and expand the fertility window.  On the other hand, if the birth rate is running too high, the ad emphasis switches to Slimettes for women and Vigorone for men, both of which have a contraceptive effect.  The book’s protagonist, Gerald Leeds, is one of the few who is in on the secret, and when he hears a Glamorenes ad, he realizes that this is the real reason why his girlfriend, Nancy, has been acting especially affectionate lately.

    Few people, even at the highest levels of government, realize just how powerful the Communications Department really is.  “Even the biggest wheels only know part of it.  They think the Communications Administrative Department exists to help them–and not the other way around.”

    The computer known as Sociac (‘Herby’) accumulates vast amounts of data on individuals, including such things as shopping, dining, and vacation preferences. “Thus, when the administration wanted to make a new move, they knew exactly how to condition the people so that it would be backed. Or they knew exactly what sort of man to put up to win a popular election.” Telephone calls are tapped, but are rarely listened to directly by government agents; rather, they are fed directly to “a calculator” (perhaps a front-end to Herbie) and added to “the huge stock of intimate knowledge about the people.”

    Those individuals who resist the conditioning and are found to hold unapproved opinions–or find themselves to hold unapproved opinions–are said to have “communications blocks,” and good citizens will act on their own to request treatment for such blocks. The first level of treatment is the Psychotherapy Calculator, an interactive system which will help the patient change any objectionable opinions and behavior.  But in some cases, the PC determines that stronger methods are necessary, and in those cases, the patient is referred for a lobotomy.  The escorting of patients for mandatory psychotherapy and lobotomy procedures is done by a white-uniformed police force known as the Clinic Squad.

    Citizens are, of course, expected to report any instances of unapproved beliefs or actions.  When the protagonist’s girlfriend Nancy overhears one of her colleagues expressing sympathy for a man who is in serious trouble, she reports the girl immediately. (“For the moment I disliked Nancy,” says Gerald.  “Then I felt sorry for her.”)  Nancy herself is concerned that there may be something wrong with her, and has considered reporting herself for voluntary automated psychotherapy.  “If I did have (something wrong with her), I’d want to be purged of it quickly before it could make me do something awful like that poor Mr Shell”…Gerald notes that her hand was shaking as she lifted her glass to finish the drink.

    Gerald, the protagonist, works within the Communications Department…unknown to his superiors, he is a member of a resistance organization which aims to overthrow the existing system of government and to restore individual liberty. He must feign agreement when his immediate boss talks about how wonderful the system is and how misguided are those who oppose it:

    Never has there been more freedom anywhere than in America today.  We’ve done away with police and even prisons.  Crime has been almost wiped out since we recognized it as a social disease.  We’ve done away with poverty. There are fewer restrictions on people than ever before in the history of mankind.  For the first time they’re really free.

    Gerald reflects:

    Even if it hadn’t been dangerous, I wouldn’t have argued with him.  He believed what he was saying. His faith was the faith of a Torquemada backed by science.  There was no way to make him see that the social engineers had taken away only one freedom, but that it was the ultimate freedom–the right to choose.  Everything…was decided for them and then they were conditioned to want it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Russia, Tech, USA | 16 Comments »

    Anchorites

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th December 2020 (All posts by )

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

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Society, Current Events, Predictions, USA | 33 Comments »

    Whom Do You Trust?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th December 2020 (All posts by )

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

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

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

    Posted in Americas, Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Leftism, Society, Tea Party, Trump | 128 Comments »

    Net Novostey v “Pravde” i net pravdy v “Isvestihakh

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th December 2020 (All posts by )

    The bitter Soviet-era joke about the honesty and reliability of their major news organs translates as “There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia” – Pravda (Truth) being the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party, and Izvestia (The News) was the official government newspaper. Teasing out actual tidbits of accurate and relevant information from those two sources may have been the most popular indoor sport for decades among Russians, after chess, depressing novels and drinking heavily. Pravda and Izvestia told the citizens of Soviet Russia only what the top-tier authorities wanted ordinary people to know about – anything contrary to the interests of party and government was deliberately omitted. Any embarrassing civic disasters with a high casualty count, sexual peccadillos on the part of the Party elite, and serial killers on the prowl – news coverage of that kind of event or development was firmly squelched, as things like that just didn’t happen in the perfect Soviet worker paradise. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, Leftism, Media, Politics, Russia, USA | 56 Comments »

    Reopening — III (Theory ∧ Practice)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 27th November 2020 (All posts by )

    “We should act incrementally as prudent risk minimizers and pursue any effective no-regrets options. We do not have to wait for the formulation and acceptance of grand strategies, for the emergence of global consensual understanding, or for the universal adoption of more rational approaches.”

    — Vaclav Smil (Global Catastrophes and Trends: the Next Fifty Years)

    This post is an attempt at synthesis; those just grazing in (Midwesterners don’t surf) are directed to Reopening — I (Practice) and Reopening — II (Theory) for accounts of my earlier action and contemplation, respectively. For my third installment, I can do no better than lead off with a quadrant diagram of my own devising:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Human Behavior, Management, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Science, Tech, Tradeoffs, USA | 28 Comments »