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Steven Seagal is a Hero

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Don Quixote is Just a Psychopath

I’m sitting here trying to find the gumption to continue reading Don Quixote. No wonder I skipped so much of the reading when I was in college. I feel like I’m getting psyched up for a colonoscopy.

In an earlier post I quoted the author Vladimir Nabokov, who said a bunch of flattering and patently inaccurate things about Don Quixote. For one thing, he called the protagonist “gentle,” which is like calling Richard Speck gentle.

Here’s something weird: Cervantes fan-niños can be found on the web excoriating Nabokov for criticizing Cervantes. Nabokov called Cervantes’ work “crude and cruel.”

I wonder what the truth is. Was Nabokov pro- or anti-?

I have to go with the critical Nabokov. Don Quixote is remarkably free of any type of compassion. When DQ breaks an innocent man’s leg, it’s a trifle. It’s supposed to be funny. Cervantes himself calls a hunchbacked, one-eyed girl who has done nothing wrong “this engaging creature” (en Español). When DQ gets impatient with Sancho Panza, whom he considers a friend, he beats him with his lance, and we’re supposed to go on liking DQ.

I’m thinking Cervantes may have been a sociopath. He may have been unable to feel love or pity, so he may not have realized it when he crossed the line.

To push the notion even further, I think this book may be a good litmus test for sociopathy. If you really enjoy it, and the cruelty doesn’t wear you down, you have an issue. Some essential pieces of your heart are missing. You would probably enjoy a GWAR concert.

One of the rules of fiction is that if you want to put suffering in your work, and you don’t want the reader to sympathize, you should make the characters who suffer look like they deserve it. You can see this rule at work in any Steven Seagal movie. Steven Seagal can’t just march onto the set and start snapping people’s arms backward at the elbow and setting them on fire. Maybe it was hard for his directors to make him understand that, but it’s true. If he wants the audience to root for him, the people he hurts have to be set up in advance. They have to put him in a coma and shoot his partner. Something like that.

If Cervantes had written a Steven Seagal movie, it would have started like this: Steven Seagal is lying in bed with his really good-looking wife. They smile and cuddle. Then he shoves a bayonet through her throat and says something snotty while she dies. No, no, no. That doesn’t work. You have to lay some sort of John Wick-style groundwork. Stomp on a puppy. Steal Keanu’s Mustang.

Maybe the people who defend Cervantes are cruel and underdeveloped. Cervantes can’t see his own problem, and neither can they, because they’re just like him.

Just spitballing here.

What time is it? About 1:30? This isn’t working. I haven’t killed enough time. I still have time to sit down and read. Man.

I saw some foolish person claiming Nabokov was worse than Cervantes, because Humbert Humbert, the main character in Lolita, was a sexual predator who went after a young girl. What a stretch. You’re not supposed to like Humbert Humbert! Hello? It’s okay if a villain does bad things. Obvious, right?

I plan to gag my way through at least 30 pages today. I’m glad the copy I bought was cheap. I would hate to spend more than ten bucks on an experience like this.

It’s 1:34. I guess I better get to work.

Chivalry Isn’t Dead

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

It’s Just Nauseous

Update on my progress through Don Quixote: today I made it to page 206, and I thought I could force myself to go all the way to the start of a horrible verse on the bottom of the page. No dice. After a few sentences, I realized I could not face another line. It’s as if my mind threw up.

Back to work tomorrow, I guess.

The World Gets an Intervention

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

President Tough Love Melts the Snow

Trump’s first couple of weeks in office have been very interesting.

I don’t really follow the news any more, but I’ve noticed a few things. Trump is doing stuff he promised to do, and that is making heads explode all over the world.

This morning I realized that the single thing that makes Trump a revolutionary president is this: he is the first president elected in my lifetime…who didn’t owe anything to special interests. That’s incredible!

You can say I’m wrong, and that this faction or that faction helped him. That’s not what I’m talking about. No one gets elected without support. Trump got help from various groups, but unlike every other president elected in (at least) the last 50 years, he was not the CREATION and SERVANT of any particular group, except for his bona fide grassroots fan base.

Democrats serve large corporations, unions, minority blocs, women, and various fringe-nut groups. Republicans serve wealthy donors and a certain percentage of corporations liberals are trying to destroy. Trump serves millions of nuts in red hats. I don’t mean “nut” in a bad way; I’m just describing their enthusiasm.

I also realized Trump knows exactly what he’s doing. Do I mean he understands foreign policy or the ins and outs of his job? No. I mean that when he acts like a loose cannon, it’s very deliberate. He’s using negotiating skills he learned from multiplying a $1 million seed loan by 9,000. He is being the same aggressive businessman he has always been, and even if he’s a nasty guy on a personal level, his aggression is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It’s just good business.

Americans have a sick tendency to treat business contacts like family members. We talk about “offense” and “feelings.” That’s not healthy at all. Business is hardball. Attorneys use the term “arm’s length” to describe the way businesspeople treat each other. You try to do what’s right, and you avoid breaking the law, but other than that, you look after your own interest, and you expect the other party to look after his. This may not be a great strategy in the Christian world, in interpersonal dealings, but in secular business, it’s normal and correct.

Why is Trump offending foreign leaders and other poobahs who are used to being treated like snowflakes? Because unlike them, he’s a businessman. He has spent his life getting things done, not trying to get elected and collecting poorly disguisded bribes. Unlike government employees around the world (like Obama, who has never had a real job), Trump knows what it’s like to wake up in the morning and know that if he doesn’t hustle, he can lose everything he has and end up selling cars for a living.

Trump is hungry. Most government employees are not. They are parasites, and they’re used to failing upward. Naturally, they expect deference and butt-kissing. The people Trump deals with in business don’t expect that, and Trump probably doesn’t know how to do it anyway.

Trump is giving world leaders a lesson in growing up.

People say he’s going to start a war. Really? Did the Ayatollah Khomeini start a war when he kidnapped and held Americans for 444 days? Did Kim Jong-Il start a war when he violated international agreements and built nuclear weapons? It’s pretty hard to start a war. Even Hitler had to take over half of Europe to really get other countries off their duffs and into uniform. I seriously doubt Trump has the ability to start a war except by large-scale military action. Tweeting and making blunt (truthful) remarks in phone calls will not do it.

People say other countries will be less likely to cooperate with us and help us. Seriously? Like they help us now? Are we going to lose all the aid the Saudis send us? Are the Japanese going to stop funding our military? Are Mexicans going to stop sending us unvetted people they can’t feed? Trump understands something the rest of us have forgotten: we have a very powerful negotiating position. Suddenly, we’re using it, and Trump is the only one who isn’t upset.

This is how he got rich. He wasn’t born a billionaire. This isn’t a charm offensive, intended to butter up nations that don’t respect us and don’t do anything for us. It’s business. Trump isn’t doing anything new. He’s doing what he has done for fifty years, in a different office.

Trump won’t start a war, but he will get us better deals. He doesn’t care what rich people or selfish voting blocs think, because they didn’t do a thing for him, and they can’t give him orders. He will be motivated by egotism, the joy of the game, and a desire to make America more powerful. I never thought I’d see someone like that occupying the Oval Office.

Is this a good thing? I don’t think it matters. His policies, not his manners, are what will determine whether America prospers on his watch. Making stupid decisions politely will kill a country just as quickly as making stupid decisions rudely. Obama used to go on apology tours, criticizing America and bowing to sleazy tinpot leaders in silly nations that cause problems. It wasn’t helpful at all. We lost respect all over the world. He attacked business and caused a dramatic upturn in the pathological entitlement mentality of the unproductive and irresponsible. If the Fed hadn’t inflated our currency, we would still be in a recession, and we will eventually have to eat the bill for that inflation. We cannibalized ourselves. You can’t gain weight by eating your own flesh.

I hope Trump will make good decisions. He probably will, because he is dynamic and extremely capable. His big obstacle will be pride. If he can manage to change direction when needed, admitting error, he’ll be a great president. If not, well, at least he saved us from a socialist federal judiciary, and he slowed down America’s slide into all-out, open, state-sponsored persecution of Christians and Jews. I suppose our lives are worth something.

I don’t care if he offends people. He’s not a game show host. He’s a president. Obama offended me and my kind a thousand times. No one seems to think that matters. If leftists hate listening to Trump and living under his rule, all I can say is, welcome to my world. I got over it, and so will they.

America is a snowflake nation, and because we’re snowflakes, we can’t even see it. Electing Trump is like rolling a car window down while driving on a freezing day. The shock will do us good.

Some Giants are Just Windmills

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Or Just Windy

My efforts to complete the reading list for Columbia College’s Lit. Hum. course continue. I would almost call it a quest at this point, which is fitting, since I’m currently mired in Don Quixote.

Once again, I am having a hard time comprehending the enthusiasm scholars have for an ancient book. I started reading quite some time ago, and it has been so unpleasant, I only reached the hundredth page today. It reminds of of a joke I once read about a book a reader didn’t like. His review read, “I couldn’t pick it up.”

The cover of the book has two blurbs of praise on it. One comes from the author Vladimir Nabokov. I know I’ve read Lolita, because I remember a phrase from the book, but I must not have been very moved, because that phrase is nearly all I remember. Is Nabokov a good writer, or was he just a purveyor of lurid pulp novels? I don’t recall.

Here is what Nabokov says:

Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes’s womb. [He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through [his] sheer vitality. . . . He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.

Based on my hundred pages, that looks pretty crazy.

First of all, I can’t figure out how to make the quotation work with the brackets removed. Sometimes that can be a real puzzle. Try “than he was in Cervantes’s womb. looms so wonderfully…” It’s hard to see how that could make sense. Maybe Nabokov was drunk, and he dictated the blurb into a publisher’s answering machine.

Apart from that, it’s hard to see why anyone would call Don Quixote gentle or unselfish. He was a violent lunatic who went around hacking at innocent people with a sword. How can that be gentle? I don’t know if English was Nabokov’s first language. Maybe he misunderstood the word. He also forced Sancho Panza to share his misery and join in the beatings he received, paying him nothing in exchange. If that’s not selfish, then I need to look the word up and refresh my memory.

In my dim memories of Columbia, Don Quixote is a too-long and somewhat humorous book. I am sticking with “too long,” but I feel I must withdraw “humorous.” It’s not even slightly funny. DQ attacks a windmill, and it lifts him by his lance and drops him on the ground. Is that funny? I don’t think so. It was funny when Rabelais’ Frere Jean D’Entommeures used a cross as a battle weapon and shoved it up a man’s rear end, and it was funny when Gargantua’s horse drowned a bunch of pilgrims in urine. These things were gross and sophomoric, but they were funny. Falling off a windmill is not funny or even clever. It’s not even funny by Three Stooges standards.

Cervantes seems to have a few things going for him. He is intelligent, and he appears to be well-read. He can put a paragraph or a page together. But he’s not very creative, and his stories are pointless. They don’t have any connection to each other. One of the unwritten rules of fiction is that you don’t add anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. When you write an Archie comic book, you don’t have Jughead see a flying saucer on the second page and then never mention it again. DQ wanders from isolated adventure to isolated adventure, and once an event is behind him, it vanishes as though it had never been written. That’s not how novels are supposed to work.

It’s more like a Fifties TV series than a novel. One week, Lucy dresses up as a man so she can join Ricky’s band to see if he’s cheating on her. The next week, Fred is arrested in the ladies’ room of a major department store. One episode has no relationship to the next. DQ has the same kind of existence. He bounces around in Spain, like a chrome bearing in a pinball machine. He hits the windmill bumper and bounces off. He hits the Basque squire bumper and bounces off, minus one ear. I can’t wait for him to roll between the flippers and disappear.

I’m not impressed by Cervantes’ knowledge of old literature. Think about it…how many books did a man of his era have access to? You couldn’t log onto Amazon and have any of millions of titles installed on your tablet in thirty seconds. You had to read the classics and whatever crap had been written up to your time. OF COURSE he had read Virgil and Homer and all the books of chivalry. What else was there to read? If you had been alive back then, you would have read all of that stuff, too. How many books did you read last year? Probably more than Cervantes read in five years.

When I was at Columbia, I took the DQ course taught by a man I will call Dr. S; a scholar people referred to as a genius. Like many other students, I thought it was ridiculous, and I never saw the brilliance of the book or, quite honestly, of the man who taught the course. He’s dead, so I can say that. The course was a rite of passage and an easy B, so everybody took it. S never said anything I considered remotely smart, and I never developed the impression that Cervantes was a writer of real stature.

Not all of my professors were like that. I took an advanced French poetry course taught by a guy named Daniel Penham, and I thought he and the material were great. I kept the textbook and looked for other books by the same author (Morris Bishop). The class was small, all of the students sat around a single table, and Penham told us all sorts of interesting things about France, French, the poets, and so on. I’m not the problem here. If S’s class or Cervantes’ book had had the stuff, I believe I would have perceived it.

People I knew thought S was incoherent. Sure seemed that way to me. Maybe he was slipping by the time I took his course. They said he was being treated for cancer.

It looks like an emperor’s-clothes situation to me. If people say a writer is brilliant for five hundred years, it doesn’t matter whether they’re right. Anyone who disagrees will be sent to sit on the Group W bench. I will take my seat gladly if it means I don’t have to read any more Cervantes. Life is too short.

In the liberal arts, you don’t have to do much or be very smart to be considered brilliant. Memorizing a lot of things and learning a couple of languages will do it. It’s strange that liberal arts professors have big egos and consider themselves gifted, when they walk the same halls as physicists and mathematicians.

Liberal arts people are intellectuals. The thing people forget is that “intellectual” doesn’t mean “intelligent person.” It really means “academic” or “academic buff” in practice. It describes an insular group of people who read the same books and use the same argot to confirm each other’s borrowed perceptions and opinions. Intellectuals use a lot of big words, but that doesn’t mean they’re bright. It just means they’re clannish. Sailors use a lot of funny words, too, but no one thinks it proves they’re smart.

Okay, okay. I’ll go sit on the bench.

I feel like these books are cages. I committed to read them, so I can’t spend much time reading things I actually consider interesting. I’m working on Dark Sun, the follow-up to The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and I really want to read the Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie books I bought. Arrgh. I wish I had one of those Matrix plugs I could jam in the back of my head to get DQ into me in three seconds.

Don Quixote de la Mancha: If you are a gentleman, take up arms that I might engage you in mortal combat. If not, let me know, and I will send my cloth-eared squire to beat you with a stave.

Morpheus: How the hell did you get in here?

I’m glad there are people who dedicate their lives to studying and preserving this material, and I’m also glad there are people who dedicate their lives to embalming the dead and squeezing other people’s boils. I think that sums it up. Was the Vietnam War really so scary that it was worth it for men to bury themselves in this stuff in order to get deferments? How bad can land mines and punji sticks be?

Maybe I can force myself to sit down this week and knock this book off. Like the Abbe Faria, digging his way out of seclusion with a spoon, I could eventually tunnel my way back into the light. I suppose that’s the best option, since I can’t go back in time and pay Cervantes for his manuscript so I can burn it.

Enough for one day. I need to go weld something.

Perspective

Friday, January 27th, 2017

My Worst Day on Earth was not Really That Bad

I used to be able to say I barely watched TV. That’s no longer true. I’m putting more hours into tube time. What I can say is that I barely watch bad TV.

I don’t watch the news. The world is manipulated by supernatural forces, so to me, watching the news and getting worked up about things is like watching a Punch and Judy show and getting mad at the puppets. If you focus on the clock’s face, you forget about the gears and springs that actually make it work.

I don’t watch sitcoms or other broadcast-TV shows. I only watch movies on TV, and I always look for classics first. There is a whole generation of movie and TV stars I barely know. I hear names like Ryan Gosling, Lea Michele, and Jared Leto, and they sound familiar, but I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup.

Signing up for Amazon Prime has opened up a new world of things I failed to catch the first time around. Over the last few days, I’ve binged on The Pacific, which was released in 2010. It’s a miniseries made by the Band of Brothers people, but obviously, it’s set somewhere else.

The series has been very entertaining, but it also makes me feel like my life has amounted to very little. I suppose that’s true! But generally, it doesn’t bother me. I never had much ambition anyway. Watching The Pacific sharpens the sensation somewhat. The men who served in that theatre went through things I would hesitate to inflict on Nazi death camp guards, and they did it for very little pay, to protect other people from invasion and servitude.

I’ve heard men talk about December 7, 1941. Typically, they tell stories of people who left high school and college classrooms immediately and enlisted in any branch of the service that would take them. I suppose I would have done the same thing. The shame of waiting to be drafted would have been impossible to face. But my draft-age years took place in a slot between Vietnam and Desert Storm. I registered, but since Vietnam, no one has been drafted, and when Desert Storm arrived, I was pretty old, and it was not a war that stimulated men from white-collar families to abandon their lives and enlist in droves.

If I understand things correctly, The Pacific is based on the books of marine privates Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge. Guadalcanal was Leckie’s first battle. Sledge had a heart murmur which delayed his enlistment, and he first fought at Peleliu, an important island where the Japanese had built an airstrip.

I read up on these battles a little. When the US landed on Guadalcanal, the Japanese hadn’t figured out how to defend an island. Their strategy was very stupid. They put their energy into stopping attackers at the beach. They sent lightly armed soldiers in human waves called “banzai charges,” straight into our guns. Guadalcanal was a terrible battle, but the Japanese died in piles, and they lost 15 times as many men as we did. By the time we got to Peleliu, the Japanese had adopted a strategy of building pillboxes and other fortifications inland, with tunnels connecting them, so Americans had to pursue them and dig them out like rats, opening themselves up to fire from guarded positions stocked with plenty of food and water. The kill ratio dropped sharply, and the Japanese continued using their brutal new tactics for the rest of the war.

The Pacific, created by the Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers team, features the same grisly realism audiences have come to expect from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. When violence erupts, the screen fills with flying limbs, brains, and blood. I don’t know if the actual battles were as gruesome as the TV series; one scene depicts a fight in which one in six marines died, and to watch, you would think the figure was more like one in two. But whatever the truth is, the young men who fought these battles had to run through small arms and artillery fire, with no protection, over and over. That’s something to think about. If I were in a mall, and a terrorist started shooting one pistol fifty yards away, I would want to find a door, fast. I can’t imagine running through a field with mortars exploding all around me, stepping over the intestines and severed heads of people I knew. How do you make yourself do things like that?

For some reason, America doesn’t seem to think about the Pacific war much. That’s odd, because the Japanese made the Nazis look like Sunday school teachers. They beheaded prisoners of war for fun, not just on the battlefield, but in their camps. They beat, tortured, and starved POW’s as a matter of policy. The atrocities they committed in China are among the vilest acts human beings have ever committed. They brought female slaves from Korea to Japan to serve as prostitutes for the military.

They hated surrender. On the island of Saipan, thousands of Japanese jumped off a cliff to avoid capture, and some jumped with babies in their arms. The astonishing brutality of the Japanese was a major reason for the decision to drop atomic bombs on civilians. It was believed that conquering the Japanese homeland would result in as many as a million pointless Allied casualties.

It’s strange that when we think of World War Two heroism, we generally think about Europe.

Americans shouldn’t forget where we came from, and how easy our lives are. In particular, the “snowflakes” who spend their days vilifying this country and complaining about things like being prohibited from baring their nipples in restaurants should have to learn about our past. They should know about the men and women who gave their lives to buy us the right to demand welfare checks and free contraceptives.

My life has been pretty easy compared to some. That doesn’t bother me at all. I hope my luck holds out until I die. I admire the people who sacrificed everything for me, but I’m not crazy enough to envy them.

I’m going to read the Leckie and Sledge books. Some of the other men featured in the show have also written books. I suppose I’ll read them, too.

If you have Amazon Prime, you might want to take a look at the series. I believe membership also includes Band of Brothers.

Find out what you missed. Be glad.

Orbiting in the Dunning-Kruger Cyclotron

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

It’s Unanimous: I am the Problem

If you’re wondering what’s a good way not to spend a Monday morning, I’ll give you an example: dealing with your dad’s doctor, when your dad has dementia and his doctor is also slipping.

My dad has a bunch of weight-related prescriptions, and because of his cognitive problems, I am now required to manage them for him. His doctor asked me to do it. My dad says we’re both crazy, because there is nothing wrong with him.

I have to put the pills in a special box once a week. The box has compartments, and each compartment is for a day and time of day. He gets his pills by mail, and they keep arriving late. His doctor prescribes once a year, and the mail pharmacy is supposed to send pills at regular intervals, but over and over, things arrive a long time after the last batch ran out.

His statin prescription ran out in December, and it took me about a week to get the doctor to phone a prescription in to a local pharmacy to fill in the gap.

Based on what I have experienced with nearly every other type of business in America, I just assumed that a prominent doctor at a major teaching hospital would have a mechanism for getting medication to his patients during the holidays. I guess that novel concept has not caught on locally. The doctor and key members of his staff went on vacation, all at once, and they didn’t forward patients to anyone in the interval.

I hope no one died.

I would think you would be likely to lose your most lucrative patients during a vacation, because the sickest ones would be most likely to die.

It went like this: I would call them. Whoever took the message would say they would get right on it. Nothing would happen. They would not call to explain. I would call again. They would explain why it was impossible to do anything. They would take another message, promising to do whatever could be done. Nothing would happen. They would not call to explain. I would call again…

The pharmacy called me today and said the doctor had failed to provide a “prior authorization,” whatever that is, so I had to call the doctor again. They said the doctor’s people would know exactly what to do (place your bets). I complained about the pill hiatus thing. They said the way to get the prescriptions to arrive on time was to order them about 15 business days before they needed to be in my dad’s (my) hands. Genius. The Nobel committee must hear about this.

I called his doctor, and I spoke to a woman who is in charge of prescriptions. She started saying she didn’t understand the prior authorization thing (bet lost), and when I told her the pharmacy lady had said she would know exactly what to do, she admitted she actually did know. Okay. Thanks for that (?). She tried to tell me the habitual delays were the pharmacy’s fault, because that was easier than doing her easy, 100% surprise-free job and fixing the problem. I pointed out that she could fix it by doing one of two things: a) shift the order dates back by 15 days, or b) have the doctor prescribe a few more pills than my dad needs. How obvious is that? She said she would talk to the doctor.

The doctor called later on. He is pushing 80, and he does not seem to understand things very well. He has a hard time listening. He prefers speaking. On top of that, he seems to have the physician ego. “I have an IQ of 120, and I got an A in Organic Chemistry, and I am rich, so be still while I deliver the word from on high.” He’s a nice enough guy, but I would guess he is not overly burdened with respect for my intellect.

He kept saying it would be an enormous task, keeping track of the dates of all his patients’ prescriptions. I did not know what to make of that. He has at least four people who work under him, and they have computers. One more relevant fact: they’re supposed to be experts at providing medical care. I think you can see where I’m going with this. It’s a simple job, it’s exactly the kind of thing people in their positions should be taking care of, they get paid a ton of money to do it, and they have technology which far exceeds the demands their work would place on it.

I gave up on making him understand that it was possible to write a prescription earlier instead of later. The learning curve was just too steep. I suggested he call a local pharmacy and order a small amount of each pill, and I would go pick it up. That way, there would be a supply of pills on reserve, and it would fill the gaps. Presumably, this would fix the problem permanently, because there is no issue with the amount of pills prescribed. The timing is what’s killing us. I can dump the manually obtained pills into the mail-order bottles when they arrive, and as far as the math goes, it will be exactly as if the doctor had started ordering pills sooner, except that if the prescriptions are ever discontinued, we will have a few pills left over.

Maybe I’ll take a handful of them and see if I can get my home blood pressure machine to throw an error.

He still didn’t get it. He kept saying the insurance company would not cooperate. He just assumed this was a deal breaker. I had to tell him we would pay for the pills ourselves.

It’s worth it. When a person has dementia, and their pills run out, it’s a major crisis. There is a lot of yelling and criticizing. Then you get to hear it again every day (at least once) until the pills come in, because the patient forgets. You get to call the doctor and be told it’s the pharmacy’s fault. You get to call the pharmacy and be told it’s the doctor’s fault. They all agree it’s partly your fault. You get to be put on hold a lot, because you’re not important. Important people wear scrubs.

I don’t care if the pills cost ten thousand dollars. I don’t care if I have to make fake pills using flour and food coloring. This WILL be done.

After I came up with this Einstein-level, Vizzini-boggling strategy, I had to give my dad the bad news: he was going to have to pay for some of his own pills. That was fun.

So far no one I’ve dealt with has taken even a tiny amount of responsibility, but all four have blamed me without hesitation. And they’re not even my pills! And I’m the only one who has done everything right.

I keep telling people I want the doctor to prescribe Xanax for my dad. So I can take it.

I was commenting on an Internet forum this weekend, and I said something that came as a revelation to me even as I was typing it: everyone I know is completely helpless. No one can turn a screw, change a tire, saw a piece of wood in half, get a prescription to arrive on time, connect anything to the Internet, put the batteries in the right way…you name it; they can’t do it. And unfortunately, they know I can. Because I have a special arcane method: I try.

Don’t tell anyone my secret. I’m thinking of patenting it.

I was talking to God about this, and I stopped myself short. I realized I was complaining about being more blessed than other people. It’s bad to be surrounded by people who can’t do a damned thing, but think how bad it would be to be one of them, always waiting for someone else to come and wipe up the mess.

I told God I was grateful to be a giver and lender instead of a taker and borrower. Not that I never take anything from people, but I’m glad I’m not part of the set of people who lose their minds when a breaker pops or some computer device has to be fixed (“TURN IT OFF AND ON. LOOK, SHUT UP. JUST DO IT”).”

It’s dangerous to start feeling essential, though. When you start believing other people are as helpless as they say they are, you will find they are happy to agree, and then you end up carrying everyone you know around on your back, like a mother possum lugging its young.

Here is some wisdom for you: when you choose to help people do things they say they can’t do for themselves, most of the time they will instantly feel entitled, and they will think there is nothing wrong with criticizing your charitable efforts as though you were being paid.

Here is some more wisdom: people who constantly ask you how to do things will not necessarily have any respect for your intelligence. People have almost no respect for me, but that doesn’t prevent them from asking me how to do things all the time. Figure that out if you can. I would point out the obvious inconsistency, but they wouldn’t respect me enough to think I was right.

I think everyone should hide away for a few days once in a while. Turn off the phone and pretend you’re dead. Then when you reappear, talk to people and find out how they solved their problems while you were gone. Sometimes you’ll find out they survived without you. If they ask where you were, just say you were “trapped near the inner circle of fault.”

I love Rip Torn.

Here is one of my favorite things to say: “They’ll get over it.” People try to burden you with their problems, or they try to manipulate you into doing things you shouldn’t have to do, and you choose not to comply. This upsets people. Say, “They’ll get over it.”

They do.

Not everything is your responsibility. The fact that someone else is upset by something you did or didn’t do is not necessarily important or even worthy of thought.

I remember having a drug addict come to me and demand help getting new housing. This person had refused treatment for years, she had lost her house, and she was about to lose her apartment. Like, the next day. She kept telling me she was going to be on the street, and this bad thing and that bad thing were going to happen to her unless someone gave her large amounts of money right away. I agreed completely! I said things like, “That’s probably right. That will be bad. What are you going to do?”

I don’t know if steam can actually come out of people’s ears, but I think I saw a little. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person on earth who responds to addicts rationally.

I can’t take that attitude with regard to a dementia sufferer’s medications, unfortunately.

We could look for a younger doctor who is more alert, but you know what they say about the devil you know and the devil you don’t. When a person hits 85, you don’t look for medical revolutionaries to turn his life upside-down and work miracles. You think about peace, comfort, safety, and a nice big TV.

I guess I feel better now. My dad has four different blood pressure pills. I have a blog.

What are the odds that the doctor will actually phone the pharmacy?

Think about something else, Steve. Think about something else.

Trump’s Russian Hookers

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Media Floundering Reaches new and Exciting Lows

I don’t watch the news any more, but I’m making an exception today. Donald Trump is having a press conference which will basically be a victory dance over the prone body of the mainstream media.

In 2016, someone put out a ridiculous “dossier” claiming Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a mattress on which Barack and Michelle Obama had slept. Major media outlets have published the story. Some have merely referred to it. CNN’s take on the story is so benign it almost amounts to an endorsement. Now the entire world knows the story is a hoax, and I want to see what Trump says.

Hmm…he was blunt, but he didn’t obsess on the story. He said it might have come from our intelligence agencies, and that this would be a major “blot” on their records.

That was pretty restrained, considering the speaker.

Journalists are not smart people. We can’t seem to absorb that fact. In college, they major in makeup, plastic surgery, diction, and wardrobe. That’s about all they know. Among journalists, people like Megyn Kelly seem like geniuses simply because they went to law school. Why do we trust journalists?

Let me refer to my new buddy Michel Seigneur de Montaigne. He astutely pointed out that people credit things they see in print more than things they hear, and he questioned that mindset. He was right. Put someone’s words in a newspaper, and suddenly they seem like the voice of God. Put a dimwit on TV, and suddenly he seems like the oracle of Delphi.

I think we all remember how Wolf Blitzer did on Jeopardy.

Trump looks pretty good. He is relatively sedate, he is serious, and he seems to be taking his responsibilities seriously. I hope that continues, but even if he spends his whole presidency making childish tweets and calling people names, it will be worth it to have the sane federal judges he appoints.

You have to wonder what the press will try next. Prank phone calls? Toilet-papering the Rose Garden? Sending pizzas to the White House? The childishness and gullibility boggle the mind.

It’s going to be an entertaining four years.

Prisoner of the Sixteenth Century

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

I Want Out

I am not quite done reading the essays of Montaigne. I call him “Montaigne” instead of using his full name because it’s confusing, deciding what to write. “Michel Montaigne”? “Michel de Montaigne”? “Michel Seigneur de Montaigne”? I can’t deal with decisions like that. Anyway, I am working on the last part of the Montaigne assignments in Columbia University’s Lit. Hum. syllabus.

As you might have predicted after reading my other commentaries on this course, I am not terribly impressed by Montaigne. He seems like a fairly typical worldly liberal. He enjoys trolling people who believe in God, decency, and the obvious superiority of western civilization. I don’t need to open a moldy old book to hear that. I can turn on MSNBC.

One of the passages I was required to read is titled “On Cannibals.” In this essay, Montaigne writes about a Brazilian native he met. Predictably, Montaigne thinks savages like the Brazilian are not backward at all. Indeed, he suggests, we are the backward and uncivilized ones. Because, you know, we wear shoes and use soap and read.

Notice I didn’t put “savage” in quotation marks (not the first time I typed it). It’s a perfectly valid term. It’s not something to sniff at. Savages are savages. Their cultures are inferior. They don’t learn anything. They don’t accumulate knowledge or pass it on. A savage’s great-great-great-grandchildren can be expected to have lives just as hard and pointless as his own. When you’re a savage, you don’t solve problems and pass the solutions on. You pass the problems on. Your gift to your descendants is that they have to reinvent the wheel every time life gives them a challenge, and often, they will fail.

I don’t think Montaigne knew much about American Indians, because he died in 1592, a hundred years after Columbus landed in the Americas. Nonetheless, he felt qualified to say a lot about them.

Modern apologists for backward people like to pretend that only civilized people make war. That’s idiotic. Open an old National Geographic and look at the spears and shields. Primitive people are more warlike than the rest of us, because they have nothing better to do, because they are too stupid to write down history and be reminded how bad war is, and because they have less to lose. We worry about having our magnificent cities destroyed and our wealth consumed. That’s not a big concern when rebuilding your largest town takes three hours.

Read up on the Indians, and you will learn that they were heavily into war, slavery, and torture. People love to say the Indians could not be enslaved. All I can say is, “Read a book.” They were all about slavery.

Montaigne doesn’t fall into the trap of claiming Indians are sweet, gentle souls who spend their days dancing with unicorns. He admits they’re violent. He celebrates it.

Montaigne claims Indians ate their defeated enemies. He says they would take prisoners, feed and care for them, and then torture them as much as possible before eating their bodies. I don’t know if that’s true. He says the victims would sneer at their captors and taunt them, saying that when they were eaten, the victors would only be tasting their own ancestors, whom the defeated had eaten in years past.

He admires this behavior. I am not kidding.

It goes without saying that a life without elective war, torture, and cannibalism is superior. I don’t know how to prove it. It’s like proving good is better than bad. Some things are just obvious. I can tell Montaigne secretly felt the same way, because he made no effort to move to South America and get himself captured. He just liked posturing and trolling.

If he lived in America, right now he would be backpedaling on his promise to move to Canada.

Throughout history, swarms of human beings have done their best to escape crude societies and move to sophisticated ones. This was already true in the Sixteenth Century. That ought to tell Montaigne something.

You may say Montaigne was highly original in his views concerning savages. I doubt that. I’m willing to bet that two thousand years before he existed, there were educated Greeks spouting the same nonsense. The grass is always greener, and because that’s a fact based on immutable human nature, the grass has always BEEN greener. I don’t think originality is a good defense.

One of the things I’ve learned from reading the classics is that ideas we think were conceived recently are almost invariably ancient. You will see this in Montaigne’s own work. He cites the Greeks and Romans over and over.

Here’s something revealing. When westerners talk about their own history, they don’t hesitate to label their forebears as losers. We love putting them down. We say life used to be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Here is the exact quote, from Thomas Hobbes:

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

If our ancestors, who were a lot like Montaigne’s Indians, can be criticized as underdeveloped, why are primitive non-western people who live in our time exempt? If anything, they deserve more criticism, because they have been around as long as we have, and we have moved forward, and they haven’t.

I don’t buy into the “noble savage” myth. Give me peace, air conditioning, modern medicine, and the internal combustion engine, any time. Montaigne’s romantic notion was just as silly and untenable in his time as it is now.

People love to defend savages, saying they live in balance with nature and don’t harm the earth. I have a couple of responses to that.

1. The reason they don’t harm the earth is that their infant mortality rate is gargantuan. They don’t multiply fast enough to harm the earth.

2. Not harming the earth is not a legitimate measure of a person’s virtue. Who said it was?

Primitive people don’t harm the earth because it defeats them. Their babies die and fertilize it. The rest of us increase our numbers and make the earth fruitful, and a certain amount of pollution is an inevitable side effect. I like pollution more than I would like living in a society where a typical woman has five kids and raises one.

Today I’ve been reading “On Experience.” It’s a fun read, but it serves to discredit Montaigne to some extent. Much of the essay concerns Montaigne’s views on health and longevity. He advises people to give in to disease, in order to let it take its course and be over quickly. He says we would should yield to evil.

Montaigne had kidney stones all his life, and he died at the age of 59, from complications from tonsillitis. When someone gives you advice about health, you have to consider their track record. He didn’t do too well.

A long time ago, my mother used to read books by a lady named Adelle Davis. This woman held herself out as a health expert. She told people to eat certain foods in order to protect themselves. She said a person should eat three almonds every day, to ward off cancer.

Cancer is what killed Adelle Davis. I don’t read her books.

Montaigne wrote an essay about the Western custom of wearing clothes. I haven’t read it, but I feel like I can write an outline just by guessing. My bet: he’s against it. Why? Because he’s a troll, and because no one would bother taking the time to write an essay in favor of wearing clothes. People are already in favor of it.

Yes, I just took a look. He thinks wearing clothing is a nutty custom imposed on us by people who lack faith in our bodies’ natural ability to protect us from the elements.

How predictable can you be?

I have to wonder if modern educators like Montaigne simply because he agrees with a lot of their quaint, discredited notions. No. That could never happen.

People say Montaigne was humble, but I would say the opposite. I think he was conceited, because he had no regard for the wisdom of people who preceded him. Well, I suppose he would have had wisdom for the brilliant savages way upstream in his ancestral line. The naked ones who tortured unarmed captives to death and ate them, I mean. But he didn’t have much respect for the ones who built the western world.

Montaigne made himself out to be humble, but so did Socrates, and he had an ego the size of a planet. It’s sort of like Obama saying he’s not a socialist; obviously, he’s a socialist. He believes in forced redistribution of wealth. What you say you are doesn’t determine to what you are. It’s not great evidence.

The book isn’t too boring, and it provides an interesting look at sixteenth-century life. It shows you how educated people of Montaigne’s time thought, and it shows how familiar they were with the works of earlier thinkers. It’s worth reading (bits of it), but I wouldn’t go out and start a Montaigne cult after reading it. He’s not particularly wise.

After this comes Cervantes. Thankfully, the syllabus doesn’t require me to read the whole book. I think Cervantes was overrated, and I suspect he was included simply because Spanish literature isn’t as good as literature from other countries. I think he was a diversity pick. I don’t look forward to plodding through hundreds of pages of work by a man who may have been chosen not because of merit, but through affirmative action.

Could be worse. I could be going to an oncologist who got affirmative action. Or riding a space shuttle built by affirmative-action engineers.

Not what I would ever ride a space shuttle. To get me on your airline, you have to get your death risk down below 1%. That’s a rule I have.

I suppose I should have done all the reading for Lit. Hum. back when I was 19, but I see that I spared myself a lot of suffering, and I didn’t cheat myself out of a ton of useful learning. I don’t feel motivated to read a lot more of this stuff. I might read a few things, but not a whole lot.

I’m not a savage. That’s sufficient.

David Caruso and Julianna Margulies Called

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Want Their Career Strategies Back

I just read that Megyn Kelly is leaving Fox News. Actually, I’ve been reading about it for months, in the captions of clickbait ads. But now it comes from a slightly more reliable source: The New York Times.

It’s interesting. I think it’s a very bad move for her.

Megyn Kelly didn’t make Fox big. Fox made her big. Her political views are more in line with the Fox ethos than they are with the liberal culture at other networks, so she had an environment in which she could thrive. They gave her a lot of promotion, and she had viewers handed to her by inertia. People who watched the shows before and after her were likely to have the TV on when she came on the screen.

She’s good at what she does, and she’s a lot smarter than the communications majors and former models on the other networks, but she’s no Bill O’Reilly. People won’t tune in just to see her.

She has another problem: while she’s a little too liberal for Fox, she’s much too conservative for NBC. The organization will try to reject her like a transplanted arm. A lot of people there will want her to fail. Many will see her as a threat to NBC’s imaginary liberal moral superiority.

Other people have departed from Fox with big dreams or simply because they weren’t welcome any more. They don’t tend to do well. Kiran Chetry and Alisyn Camerota pretty much vanished. Andrea Tantaros is MIA. So is Gretchen Carlson. Generally, leaving Fox has been a lateral or downward move, from a career standpoint.

I think she will be considerably less prominent in January of 2018. No one can predict the future, but I think this is what will happen.

I believe this will be good for O’Reilly and Hannity. It will also be good for Shepard Smith, although he will probably leave Fox eventually. There is one less competitor in the pie-eating contest, so the rest will get more pie.

Is this good for Fox? Probably. Kelly had become a thorn in their sides, and she offended a lot of viewers. There is an unlimited reservoir of potential hosts out there, so if the Fox bigwigs choose well, they will be able to fill her slot in a way that improves the bottom line. Of course, these are the people who hired Rachel Marsden, so…

I don’t think much of the way she dealt with the Ailes kerfuffle. Sexual harassment is very bad, but the time to complain about it is before you praise the perpetrator to the skies and let him make you rich. Kelly gushed about Ailes after he allegedly harassed her, and then once he was on the canvas, she piled on with the rest. After that, her credibility is severely damaged.

My feeling is that her only hope of continued success is to pull a Huffington and pretend to have an overnight conversion to leftism. Liberals will support that; to them, honesty is a an outmoded, patriarchal, Eurocentric concept. They support Huffington even though she is clearly a tremendous, shameless liar. Kelly might be able to style herself as a heterosexual, attractive Rachel Maddow. I don’t think she’ll do well without some kind of repackaging.

I don’t watch the news any more, so maybe I shouldn’t comment. For all I know, for the last year, Kermit the Frog has been newsreading for Fox.

Interesting stuff, though.

Anyway, my prediction: bad for Kelly. Good for Fox. Good for other Fox heads.

Check back with me on January 3, 2018, to gloat or kiss my ring.

Quality is Quality

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Good Books Can be Produced Without TPS Reports

A reader sent me a link to a story in which one writer “Fisks” another. If you’re not familiar with Fisking, it means tearing someone’s work apart, line by line. The Fiskee is one Laurie Gough, who has been published somewhere or other and takes the position that self-publishers are losers and hacks. The Fisker is the host of Monsterhunternation.com. I do not know anything about this person. It’s probably not Laurie Gough’s boyfriend.

The Fisking itself is very, very long, so I didn’t read the whole thing, but I did read a lot of it, and I read Gough’s entire piece. I have to agree with the Fisker. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, and a self-publisher imprint doesn’t mean a book is bad. On the other hand, it’s likely that most self-published work is even worse than most publisher-published work, simply because there is no one to hold the bad stuff back.

Not all self-publishers are inept. I think Ms. Gough forgets that there was a time when all authors were self-published. Moses didn’t have to deal with rejection slips. Neither did Homer. Many of the greatest works in history never went through the publication process during their author’s lives. Obviously, a publisher is not an absolute necessity when you want to create a work of real merit.

I don’t know for a fact, but I would be willing to bet a large pizza (cooked by someone else, because that phase of my life is over) that once the publishing industry was established, many of the authors we now revere got in the door by paying publishers.

She also forgets that we have modern authors who started out in post-Internet-creation self-publishing. I don’t know too much about The Martian, but it’s my understanding that it started out on the Internet. The movie version was very good. The author is stinking, filthy, reeking rich. The book and movie would not exist had he waited for a publisher to notice him.

We also have modern authors who did wonderful work without intending to be published at all. Anne Frank comes to mind. Highly reliable Internet rumors say that when her diary was submitted for publication after her death, it was rejected many times by editors. They almost protected us from that hack, Anne Frank!

I can’t agree with the snobby, elitist notion that self-publishing is only for losers. It’s not just wrong; it’s facially absurd. It’s like standing in an orange grove and denying the existence of fruit. It almost sounds like Ms. Hough is trying to set herself apart as a member of a distinct and superior class, simply because she has a publisher. That’s certainly easier than producing quality work and letting it speak for itself.

That being said, there is one very bad thing about self-publishing, and here it is: it’s harder to promote a self-published book. If you want your book to make money, you will almost certainly have to do radio and TV interviews, and to get those interviews, you want to be able to say you have a real publisher.

There are very, very good things about self-publishing. For one thing, if you self-publish, your book will exist. Existence is one of the main qualities a book needs. The book no one can buy anywhere is not a successful book in any meaningful way.

Another nice thing is that you can force your book into existence without help. You have control. You don’t have to beg anyone. You want to have a published book? Fine. Upload it now. Done.

If all you care about is expressing yourself, self-publishing is a great idea. You can write and publish fifty books a year if you’re up to it. The public won’t have to wait through a year-long process before each book appears. You can say anything you want. You won’t have to worry about editors killing your jokes by rewriting them or cutting out the parts of your work that are most important to you. Really, the only solid reason to insist on having a conventional publisher is a desire to make money.

The commenter said he would buy my work if I self-published again, but I think I’m self-publishing right now, so save your money! Anything made available to the public is published.

It’s very ugly for a person who got in the door to lob poop-bombs at all the people who haven’t made it yet, and given that Ms. Hough is not a highly admired author, it also creates opportunities for people to knock her off her high horse. If you really have to insult someone else’s work, you should be able to come up with names and specifics instead of issuing a mindless blanket condemnation of an entire class of writers.

A book is a book; published, not published, published by a publishing house, self-published…whatever. It doesn’t have to be publisher-published to be as legitimate as anything Ms. Hough will ever write. If you print one copy of your book and hide it under your bed, it’s still a real book, and its quality doesn’t depend on the opinions of publishers. Catch-22 was still a monumental achievement before Joseph Heller submitted it to publishers, and it was a monumental achievement while it was winning nothing but rejection slips.

If you feel like writing, write. If you feel like publishing, but you don’t care about fame and money, self-publish. What the hell. No one cares. Enjoy yourself.

New Message From the Literature Troll

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Avoid

I have a few minutes to kill, so I feel like writing about my Lit. Hum. project.

Literature Humanities is a mandatory course I pretty much blew off when I was at Columbia University, and I am going back over the reading to punish myself. So far, it has worked really well. I feel I have been punished greatly. I suffered through Plato’s bizarre tribute to homosexual predators, and I waded through the tedious, venal muck of Homer and Virgil. I am still buried in Boccaccio’s Decameron, and if memory serves, I will soon be tormented with Dostoevsky. I dread that like you can’t imagine.

I loved literature when I was young, and then I got over it. It looks like I’m not going to get a relapse any time soon. Literature is full of whining and self-pity. It’s unrealistic. It takes place in imaginary worlds where there is no loving God. It reinforces just about every type of evil urge a person can have. It tends to promote sexual sin, socialism, irresponsibility, and atheism. I’m starting to wonder how much of it a person can be exposed to without harm.

It kind of reminds me of rap music.

I liked Boccaccio when I started reading his book, but love has withered on the vine. His book goes on forever. It would have been much better had two-thirds of it been burned by his editor. It contains dozens of highly similar stories, and they’re not very imaginative. In terms of literary quality, I would rank it right up there with the Nancy Drew mysteries and John Grisham.

That’s not a compliment. John Grisham writes very badly, and his work doesn’t show much familiarity with the practice of law, which is odd, given his original profession. The wealthiest writers make up one set, and the best make up another. The intersection of these sets is small.

I think I can say with confidence that no one was ever moved or inspired by Boccaccio. There are no memorable quotes, either. You don’t put down the book and exclaim, “Wow! That’s brilliant!” He will never make anyone forget Joseph Heller or William Shakespeare.

Now that I’m farther into the book, I realize there’s a lot of filth in it. I mean real gutter porn, with no real literary value. It’s not even clever porn.

He reminds me of Cervantes. I haven’t read Cervantes since college (I took Columbia’s famous Don Quixote course, which was a farce and a waste of money). I don’t think Cervantes was much of a writer. He was just windy and irreverent. You can’t seriously commpare him to a French homologue such as Rabelais. He isn’t as erudite, nor is he as funny. If you want to read a brilliant, offensive book written several centuries ago in a place other than England, try Voltaire’s Candide. Don Quixote functions best as a doorstop.

Sometimes I think Cervantes gets air time simply because people are desperate to pretend Spain has a rich literary tradition that compares with northern Europe. Were that true, we would have found out about it by now.

I was going to read all of Boccaccio, even though the syllabus doesn’t demand it, but now that I see what a drag his book is, I am adhering to the schedule. I guess I’ll be done in a week. I would be moving faster, but I have other books on my plate, and they’re actually entertaining and/or full of useful knowledge, so they get priority.

I wish I had more good things to say about Boccaccio, because that would mean I was enjoying the book.

The moral, as always, is that you should read certain books in order to be educated, not in order to be entertained or impressed. And of course, they are useful to people who want to be punished.

The News, Condensed

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

In Summary, You Should Just Die

I’ve been looking at news sites on the Internet a lot this year, and I have some information for people who want to skip the effort and reap the benefit.

1. You are obligated to find fat women attractive. It is not a matter of choice. You DO find them attractive, even if they’re not. If you say you have a problem with this, people should use filthy, insulting language to help you get over it.

2. It’s a good thing when a woman exposes her breasts in a restaurant, because asking her to put a thin piece of cloth over them while she breastfeeds is oppression, sort of like…no, EXACTLY like…forced genital mutilation. Also, breasts have nothing to do with sex. That may surprise some women and result in the rewriting of a number of sex manuals.

3. Principals and teachers who correct girls who go to school dressed like sluts need to be “shut down,” and a really good mother will respond with an obnoxious Facebook tirade, preferably with a photo of herself dressed in slutwear. Corollary: even though every type of sexual sin is good, boys who look at girls dressed like sluts are oppressors and need to be shamed relentlessly.

4. If Donald Trump said or did it, it is very, very bad.

5. The proper term for a person who doubts the climate is changing due to human activity is the same term you use for someone who pretends Auschwitz didn’t happen: “denier.” It is not necessary to respond with facts. Deniers are close-minded, but people who insult them and refuse to listen to them are open-minded.

6. It was very, very important for electors to betray their states and vote against Trump, even though he would have won anyway, because the vote would have gone to the House of Representatives. Who are you to argue with an actor from M*A*S*H?

7. When an actress or model or reality TV bimbo wears something skimpy, it’s an important news story.

8. White people need to shut up while everyone else explains why we are the cause of every evil in the world, including evils that occur in places like China and Africa. “Whiteness” is like a form of criminal insanity, and it should be treated, but it can’t, so just suffer and hate yourself until you die. Corollary: every cruel thing people who are not white do or say to white people is good.

9. KARDASHIANS!!!! LOOK!!!! KARDASHIANS!!!

10. It’s great when a hunter gets death threats, dies, suffers a gruesome injury or gets cancer. No sane person questions this or sees anything wrong with celebrating.

11. Your sexual orientation is forced on you from before birth, but you can choose your actual sex at will, and it’s a great day for America when a male sex offender can walk into any locker room or rest room he wants and expose his genitals to young girls.

Saved you a lot of reading.

Hypey Days are Here Again

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Beware the BS Surge

I decided to check on “Hurricane” Matthew just now. It came ashore, which is a giant victory for the global warming people. A giant victory which can’t begin to offset eleven continuous years of total defeat. Still, congratulations.

Matt Drudge is being criticized for suggesting NOAA hypes storms intentionally, exaggerating the threat. Without going so far as to say Drudge is right (because I don’t have enough information to say that), let me point out some amusing facts.

1. The latest NHC assessment calls Matthew a Category 1 hurricane with 75-mph winds.

2. The current wind in Wilmington, North Carolina (where Matthew is now, according to The Weather Channel) is 6.3 mph. That’s 6.3, not 63. Now I’m watching some guy on the beach in Wilmington; the winds appear to be somewhere around 20 mph.

3. If there were any good scenes of destruction or violent wind to show, they would be all over the TV. They are not. That proves they don’t exist.

I want to be fair here, but 75 mph is just barely a hurricane. And if you can stand on the beach during the height of a storm, it’s no hurricane. It’s impossible to stand steadily in sustained hurricane-force winds.

The gulf between the hype and the facts has been enormous ever since Matthew left the Bahamas. I sat here and watched the updates, and I looked out the window to see what was actually happening. There was no relationship between the weather here and the hysterical predictions on the monitor. Nothing at all happened. Not only that; long after the storm had passed this county, I was seeing tropical storm warnings for my area.

A watch means bad weather may occur. A warning means it’s expected to occur. NOAA appears to have kept warnings up for my area long after it became impossible for them to be fulfilled. What’s the explanation for that? Sure, there was a 0.000001% chance the storm could stop instantly, reverse course, and move to the west. And when you flip a coin, it can fall so it stands on its edge. We could also have been struck by a giant meteor. You don’t post warnings for things that improbable.

The storm is dead. I assume they’ll keep the cone of doom on the maps as long as possible, but tiny, weak storms don’t come back to life after going ashore and losing their hurricane status.

The talking heads are hyping the rain now. They know the wind is feeble, so they’re working with what they have. They’re not quitters.

A lot of people have lost power in Florida and Georgia, but you don’t need a powerful storm to knock the power out. Power goes out in different ways. When Andrew hit, it took power out by snapping telephone poles in half and twisting concrete power poles off at their bases. Weak storms take power out by snapping a few wires here and there. Also, power companies shut grids down before damage occurs, so some of the outages are man-made. You can’t just look at the numbers and say a storm that puts a lot of people in the dark is a big deal. You have to look at the time it takes to restore power. Andrew left damage that took about two months to fix.

When Andrew left my area, no one had power. No one. Maybe some hospitals and other facilities with their own generators, but the grid was down and could not be restored. There were no traffic lights. There were no open businesses. If you wanted a hamburger, you had to go to the next county. In areas that were hit by Matthew, power outages are hit and miss.

The flooding is bad, but it’s limited to low-lying areas, and the water goes down when the storm passes. They’re claiming the surge will hit “up to” seven feet. If I had to bet? Four.

They’re saying the storm will be expensive. Sure it will; it hit a huge area. But it’s no Katrina. Light damage over a large area equals big money. The cost doesn’t indicate the type of extinction-level event a crazed Shepard Smith predicted on Fox News.

Whether Drudge is right or not, the threat was grossly exaggerated, and the exaggeration continued even after the storm passed areas to which the hype was being applied.

Some wimp is on Wrightsville Beach right now, moaning about 35-mph winds as if the world is ending. I would be embarrassed to be seen doing that.

When the news people jump on chairs and raise their skirts over nothing, it trains the public to ignore them. They don’t think about that. Some storms are extremely intense, and the public needs to react correctly. When the pundits void themselves over minor storms like Matthew, it assures that the next big hurricane will claim more victims than it should.

The moral of the story seems to be this: turn on the Internet, follow the storms, and use your common sense, because the pundits do not have any. They just want to sell potato chips and land network jobs.

More

Things are getting truly ridiculous. Matthew is supposed to be moving at 13 mph, but somehow it’s also located over Wilmington, North Carolina, where it was hours ago. The maximum sustained wind speed is supposed to be 75 mph, but the current wind measurement in Wilmington is 12.3 mph, with gusts to 17.5.

Are they even trying any more?

Matthew 10:5

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

I Hate Hurricanes

It is 6:16 a.m., and I have already been shopping.

Hurricane Matthew is not cooperating as well as I would like. We are still looking at tropical-storm-force winds, not hurricane winds, but the storm’s projected track is too close to me to make me happy. It might move a little bit to the west, and then I could be eating out of cans for a few days.

Fortunately for me, people here are not flipping out, and CVS is piling in supplies, so I was able to get water and lots of ice very easily. Now if I can get some candles and a few groceries, I’ll be set. Unless you get a direct hit from a major storm, you don’t need to prepare for more than a few days of limited supplies.

At times like these, I feel I should have had more empathy for all the people who were hit by the storms that missed me. Being hit by a strong storm is a miserable experience. I don’t know what happened in Haiti and Cuba, but Haitians always die when hurricanes hit.

It’s very unlikely that I’ll suffer a lot. The storm would have to kill the power at several locations in order to deprive me of electricity, and the threat to the water supply is negligible.

I had forgotten how much I hate hurricanes. Andrew literally filled the streets with downed trees, and it destroyed all the shade. For several days people had to walk wherever they went, stepping over limbs and trunks as they traveled. I had to stay with my dad on his boat for weeks, waiting for electricity. Thank God he had a diesel generator. To get real food and even ice, it was necessary to drive to Broward County. The locals here were gouging everyone ruthlessly on generators and bottled water. On top of that, there was absolutely nothing to do. Once the branches were cleaned up, you just sat and waited for the government to fix everything and turn the world back on.

Speaking of the government, they don’t seem very excited. Schools will be open today, and the authorities haven’t yet decided whether they will be open tomorrow. I hope the government knows something we don’t, and by that, I’m not referring to predictions their algorithms make based on scanning all of our emails and storing our phone calls. I’m just talking about the weather.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t fully absorbed the fact that we live in a police state. But I digress.

I’m watching one of the local channels, to get weather news. I have no idea who most of the personnel are. I go months without looking at a local channel. I have zero interest in what happens to Miami. It can’t be much worse than what has already happened.

Channel 10 has a lady with a tight, very low-cut dress talking about Matthew. She has obvious breast implants, so large they seem to imply deep insecurity. Do I really need to see that? It’s not even seven in the morning! What does her chest have to do with weather? I feel like she’s exposing skin so she can deduct the cost of the surgery.

Women are very disappointing these days. Class is dead.

Right now the weather people are trying to scare us, suggesting Matthew will hit Florida, make a loop, and hit us again. Stuff like that actually happens, but I’m not holding my breath. All the dominoes have to line up just right. Still, it’s fun for the weather people.

I guess I should sit and try to think of other things I need to do.

Pray this storm dries up. I could use another ten years of calm winds.

The Cone of Certain Death Returns

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Matthew Threatens to Kill my A/C

I can’t remember the last time this happened. A hurricane is going to come close enough to me to force me to pen up the lawn furniture.

I still recall the hysterical atmosphere of the “Global warming is going to kill us all with giant hurricanes” days. I got whacked by Rita, Wilma, and Katrina, all in the space of one week. Okay, maybe I remember that wrong. But they were fairly close together. Liberals were beside themselves with glee, hoping to see the world destroyed by Mother Gaia’s vengeful huffing and puffing. “Take that for the great auk, you swine!”

Then it all went south. From a liberal’s point of view. The rest of us were thrilled. The hurricanes dried up, and they have not returned. Al Gore is probably still furious.

By the grace of God, literally, Miami hasn’t had a hurricane since…now I have to look it up…well, it turns out Rita didn’t actually hit Miami. I guess the peripheral winds messed things up, and I remembered it as a hurricane. Wilma sort of went north of us, but it made a big mess here. Katrina actually hit us. All three storms hit in 2005.

I remember thinking Wilma wasn’t that bad. It hit in October, so when the power went out, the temperature in the house was maybe 84 degrees instead of infinity. Sleeping was not possible, but one did not necessarily leave a wet spot when one got off the couch. Katrina was an August storm, so the lack of A/C was ample grounds for suicide. I remember sitting very still, watching drops of sweat pour off my nose.

The center of Matthew is expected to pass about 150 miles to the east, and given the size of the storm, that makes it unlikely that I will see hurricane-force winds. The weather people are projecting 40 mph or so. I can handle that. I’m not even sure I need to take the garbage cans in.

Hurricanes swirl counterclockwise. That means they push water toward the west on their upper sides. We will be to the west of Matthew. Storm surge (rising water due to hurricane winds) should be very light, due to the distance between us and the eye. Andrew put big steel commercial ships on dry land; that won’t happen this time. Not here!

A lot of people flip out with preparations. I do virtually nothing. Unless a true monster storm hits, things go back to normal in a week, and you can buy ice and batteries (and McMuffins) the day after the storm. If another Andrew were coming, I would be pretty depressed right now. I would be wishing I had a diesel generator and 500 pounds of Beef-a-Roni, because I would be looking at maybe six weeks without power, along with maybe three weeks without water. But Andrew was special.

I served with Andrew. I knew Andrew. Andrew was a friend of mine. Matthew, you’re no Andrew.

Maybe I shouldn’t joke. I’m sure terrible things have happened in Haiti. They build flimsy houses, and it seems like every storm that passes kills a lot of people.

I hate a stinking hurricane. I just hope I dodge this latest bullet.

If you live in a place where you might get a real hit, you should get a generator and a huge cooler. Fill the cooler with sandwich stuff and ice. Get jugs of water. If you don’t have a real phone (not mobile or portable), get one, because only hardwired phones work after storms. Get a flashlight for everyone in the house, and get batteries for two weeks.

That’s about all you can do.

Oh…do your laundry.

Don’t worry too much about fuel. Gas stations don’t stay closed long unless your area is totally flattened.

If you don’t hear from me, it means Mother Gaia finally got me. So what? My demise is a drop in the bucket compared to all the times I’ve used my septic tank.

I win on points.