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Is or is not

I’m referring, in my mediocre attempt to channel Yoda, to freedom of speech. For a freedom to truly be such, it must be, I submit, limited only in that I may not use my freedom to infringe upon yours. That’s it. This brings us to a succinct treatment of the topic, both freedom of speech in general and the Baen’s Bar kerfuffle specifically, by LawDog in a post he wrote for Sarah Hoyt’s blog. From my time in newspapers I can remember when most of the population knew and understood that attacking freedom of speech, or the press, was a losing proposition. The freedom(s) were that important. Sadly, we seem to have regressed to the point of having a loud and possibly large number of people who believe it is their job to police and regulate speech they don’t like. This qualifies as a Very Bad Thing. Read the article.

A new holiday?

I’ll admit to being a bit of a traditionalist in some ways. That includes my views of holidays, especially many proposed new ones. However, I have found one I can absolutely get behind.

What do you think?

A sad day

While I tend to think of politicians, as a class, as lying, scheming and not terribly bright, scoundrels, I find it more than a little depressing to find such obvious evidence of that when it comes to the POTUS. That said, I am convinced that President Biden is either a liar or an idiot…or perhaps both. This is, I believe, from 2015.

Of course, The Writer in Black put it far better than I in this post.

The apparent ease with which lies pour from the mouths of politicians is perhaps more nauseating than the lies themselves.

The coldz, pt 2

Water is back up (the boil notice remains in effect) and temps are supposed to top out in the low 40s, today, with a day-by-day increase into next week. We did pretty well here at RM Ranch. We’re reworking the preparedness plan(s) based on lessons learned. Hopefully, things will go more smoothly the next time something inconvenient occurs.

On a related note, I should like to point out that as a resident of Texas (though not a native) I don’t care that Senator Ted Cruz took his family to Cancun while it was so cold and snowy. He’s not a snowplow driver, and his presence or absence in the state made no difference in how things proceeded. I was not any more inconvenienced by his absence than I would have been less so had he been here. People could, and probably should, find something else about which to feel offended. If you can’t think of something, feel free to contact me and I’ll provide you with a list.

The coldz!

On Sunday, RM Ranch “received” a glorious 14.8 inches of the white stuff. Fortunately, it was composed of the tiny dry flakes rather than what my dad had called “great-big, fat, wet” flakes. The former are pretty easy to shovel. The latter, not so much. We got more, yesterday, and may get even more today. All of that is not really a big deal. I have lived and worked in snow country, before. However, as it turns out, Texas infrastructure is ill-suited for this sort of weather. We’ve had power outages, which lead to a loss of pressure and ultimate failure of the city’s water supply…and the fire department having to watch a house burn to the ground because there simply wasn’t enough water to adequately fight the fire. The first estimate was that water would be back online on Friday. It may come back sooner, though a boil notice is in effect. We have been far more fortunate than most. So far, we haven’t lost power. We heat and cook with gas. We have adequate food supplies for the duration of this winter wonderland. Which brings us to the topic of preparedness.

If you are just starting to incorporate preparedness into your lifestyle, what should be your initial focus? Food and water are the answer. To the greatest extent possible, I recommend you orient your pantry/food stores around things you and yours will actually eat. “I got a great deal on a crate of MREs” is meaningless if you think MREs taste so bad it’s all you can do to force yourself to swallow them (I actually like MREs, but there are, for us, better and less expensive options out there). As for water, I can assure you it will take more than you think. “One gallon per person per day” is both a minimum and a starting point. Stored water should be supplemented with filtering systems (by Sawyer of LifeStraw, for instance) as well as water purification tablets. Have an alternate way to cook. Have a way to flush your toilet(s) that doesn’t require using your stored potable water. We have a well on our property, but due to pump problems we’ve melted snow for toilet flushing. I’ll be building a manual pump for the well, along with a rain catchment system, once it’s warmer. One or more of those may not be options for you due to circumstances. (Water, for instance, is heavy and there are limits to what an apartment floor will support. You can’t melt snow if it’s 115 degrees.) The point is to do what you can before the inconvenient thing occurs.

For us, one benefit of the storm has been the way it has highlighted weaknesses in our general preparedness plan. It has also served to remind us that preparedness will reduce the suck, but not eliminate it completely. With a nod to my Ranger friends, the suck that remains must be embraced (though my plan is to continue improving my suck reduction efforts).

Stay safe. Stay warm.

February 14, 1911

On this date, in 1911, the original patent was issued to the prophet John Moses Browning (PBUH) for what is arguably his signature semiautomatic pistol. You know, this minor little thing, here:

Kipling

Given our nation’s decision to apparently fling itself headlong into full-blown insanity, it’s time for a return a Kipling classic. Some things simply do not change, the human propensity for trying to deny basic reality among them.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

The song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone, asked “Oh, when will they ever learn?” It appears that the answer is “never, in this life.”

Of typos and that which lives in my computer

There lives within my computer an Evil Thing. It seeks to destroy my writing, either by turning it into so much indecipherable gibberish or by perverting it into something I never meant to express. I typically do my writing in Word. I have a standard format which I use. Word faithfully reproduces that format, time after time after time. Until it doesn’t. Then, it does strange and wonderful things with typefaces and sizes (together those are a font), paragraphs, and both word and line spacing. None of that, though, is as strange as what it does with spell check. Now, understand, my dad was a printer for many years, my mom was a proofreader and I put in my own time in newspapers and print shops. I don’t depend on spell check. I don’t trust it. But I swear that in spite of spell check and my rather anal retentive proofreading, Word occasionally manages to make unexpected changes to my text. As a result, I have discovered that

  • there is a rock band called Piss
  • there is another rock band called The Beagles
  • at one time there was a rock band called Herman’s Helmets
  • Operation Market Garden was “a bridge to fat”
  • the US military has a rank called COW
  • the penis mightier than the sword
  • the worn outside of a house is a withered exterminator

All of which brings to mind a classic, and sadly anonymous, poem from when newspapers were actually a big thing.

Ode to the Typographical Error

The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;
You can hunt till you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.
Till the forms are on the press, it is strange how still it keeps.
It shrinks down in a corner, and it never stirs or peeps –
That typographical error, too small for human eyes –
Till the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.
The boss, he stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans;
The copyreader drops his head upon his hands and moans.
The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,
But the typographical error is the only thing you see.

Some things never change

Culture wars are interesting things. They often bear an uncanny resemblance to revolutions. As a rule, revolutions, for all their talk of making things better for the oppressed, righting wrongs, and providing for a better future, are usually nightmarish things — even if a gun is never fired. Not only must those in power be deposed, but an ever increasing number of people and institutions, including those who supported the revolution, are found to be wanting. They are found to be less than sufficiently ideologically pure as the revolution, which knows little of either constraint or restraint, must constantly seek new targets as it constantly narrows its definition of who and what is acceptable. The result is that those who were often champions are then “discovered” to be enemies. This is why we often hear some version of “supporters of the revolution are surprised to find themselves lined up in front of the wall.”

This characteristic is shared by culture wars, and certainly by the one in the US. Larry Correia, who has been writing about this stuff for years, makes that point quite well in this post. Regardless of how convinced you are that “this is different,” regardless of how much you have bought into the asinine and intellectually unsupportable belief that history has a “right” and “wrong” side, the odds are that the current culture war will find you. Rest assured, many before you have said the same thing and were honestly surprised when they became targets. You can deny it if you wish, but history is not your friend in this.

Predictability

There are times predictability is a virtue. For instance, when my dad was alive, even after I became an adult, I knew that if there was something I truly needed (as opposed to wanted really badly) that I didn’t have but which he could provide, he would do so and without hesitation. There are also, of course, times when predictability is most assuredly not a virtue. One of my relatives was an alcoholic. His response to stress was predictable. He dealt with stress by drinking more than he already drank. Or, as another example, the odds are that J. Wellington Wimpy would never pay anyone back for his hamburgers and everyone knew it.

People who are strongly in favor of various political ideologies are much the same. Lately, I have been picking on the Left more than usual. There are multiple reasons for that, but it’s true. What I’ve noticed is that the responses I get from the Left, including from people for whom I have a great deal of respect and especially after conceding some criticism of the Left might be true, are references to “rabbit holes,” insinuations that those who disagree with them are believing lies (and are therefor gullible?), and an almost inevitable litany of “what I dislike about the Right/conservatives/libertarians is…” It’s like someone deciding to combine some bizarre version of Eric Berne’s of “Yes, but” fame with Tommy Smothers “Oh, yeah?” snappy comeback. For what it’s worth, there are people on the Right who do the same thing.

I despise ideologues.