Thursday, September 13, 2012


When we reject the notions of tradition, of history, we lose track of the simple things.

An embassy is soveriegn ground, a little piece of a country within the host nation.  This is not merely a polite fiction, some cute little ritual proclamation without purpose but a foundational principle of international diplomacy.  Without this tradition, without this reciprocated tradition, recognized by all nations, Ambassadors and Diplomats would be restricted to brief jaunts bearing missives directly from their leaders, and sent away as soon as it was done. Diplomacy would be returned to the Bronze Age and alliances and peace would be much shakier things.

There is a reason why every major embassy has armed soldiers, in the case of the United States Marines, guarding it.

Well, ever Embassy but for the ones in Libya, and the Marines in Cairo had no bullets...

Thus, when armed forces hostile to the nation of origin assault an Embassy, they are, in fact, invading the nation to which that Embassy belongs.

This is not a merely symbolic notion but a statement of legal fact.

We have become sclerotic and foolish in our age, caught up in high minded ideals that do not bare any relation to the real world, to realpolitik.  We have hugged vipers to our breast, only to complain that we have been bitten.  We have beaten our swords into plowshares, and now men with swords demand we plow for them and not ourselves.

I am not surprised by events in Libya, or Cairo. I am not surprised that the limp response of our politicians has invited fresh outbreaks.

I am surprised, even alarmed, to hear of attacks on our Embassy in Tel Aviv... and horrified that no one else feels that this needs greater detail other than passive mention in random lists.

I am not surprised that the media has chosen to focus on shaping the election, for to address the nature and causes of the violence would be to admit their own complicity as journalists and as members of the cultural elite, in creating a world in which the worlds largest and most powerful nation is helpless to defend itself, its own interests.

Day by day we lower our necks upon the block; we have become sheep going eagerly to our own slaughter, and all the while we bleating how superior that makes us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life in the Slow Lane

As I get older my body betrays me, every year on my birthday I get the present of 5-10 additional pounds, without fail.  There have been times when the weight gain has literally seemed to appear on the actual day, which seems a little sketchy.

Normally I am fairly active. I walk alot, preferring it to driving for distances of up to a mile... depending on my need to transport stuff too and fro. However, work has trapped me in a confined geographic space, setting me at a desk for upwards of 12 hours a day, six and seven days a week. Though I have access to a gym, I find I lack the energy.

As the alternative to destroying my health is to live under a bridge, I survive.

As noted in an earlier post, a part of this blog, a small part, is to work on becoming the Perfected Man. I find that announcing my successes and failures, publicly, keeps me from cheating.

So, last night I did two sets of 30 military push ups, part of a program I started two weeks ago but slacked off on after only four days.  I should have done a set this morning, aiming for 35, with a goal of four sets a day, so my first set will be at lunchtime instead.

Tonight I will go weigh myself. A month and a half ago I was 246 pounds, and I can no longer pretend I am not getting fat.  I cut out of my diet the 42 oz. of chocolate soymilk and half the deserts, and for a while I quit the three to four bottles of Starbucks Mocha Frappuchinos, but as the month has worn on I've started the coffee again, and I have had too many snicker's bars, so I have little hope of seeing a month and a half of progress on the weight.

That is my shame.

My goal is simple, but not easy: Slim down to 205-210, then bulk up (add muscle) back to 235. I'm not to worried about my body-fat, normally, I feel no desire to 'rock the six pack', but the soft blobby self I see now irritates me.  I believe I can do this before the new year, or at least the first part.  I will have to work much harder.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Violence is the Answer

Since I'm on a posting tear anyway, and since I put in several references to guns in my last post, I thought I'd make a post specific to guns.

When I see calls to ban guns, to confisticate guns, to eliminate common ownership of guns I have to shake my head. In our largely urbanized society we forget a lot of things that, none the less, remain absolute truths.

One of those truths is that we live in a violent and dangerous world.  The state of peace that we, in the West, have largely enjoyed for the last sixty years is, in fact, a historical anomaly.  It is unnatural, if not at all unwelcome.

That unnatural order came directly from the barrel of a gun. It was, in fact, a direct result of World War Two.

Around the world everyone realized that the old world order was gone. The casual belligerence of nations would not stand, and that a new day had dawned.  We de-fanged the Tiger of Asia, who had destroyed the old and decrepit Dragon before it, and in Europe the old kings and enemities realized that the ultimate winner of any future wars... at least for the foreseeable future, would not be who had the greatest army, but who could bring the slumbering giant to their side.

Faced with that truth, they disbanded their armies, beat their swords into ploughshares and were content to spend the money that once bought bullets upon butter, building one of the most pleasant places in all of history to live.

At home a million veterans returned to work, to fatherhood, to lives. They rarely had the stomach for casual bloodshed, and it is, to me, no surprise that the horrific levels of violence, the local gang wars and anti-union massacres all but disappeared after the war. Look at the tenor of the twenties and thirties, and compare it to that of the late forties and fifties and tell me I'm wrong? Tell me we were not a more violent nation before The War.

Ah, but correlation is not causitation, it is true. But it is still correlation.

You don't see mass civil disobedience and violence again until their children are grown, until the Chicago Riots, the Kent State Massacre and so forth, often instigated, if not outright conducted, by the counter-culture movement, by the disaffected youth that explicitly rejected the Old Order, the world their parents had built.

And not coincidentally, the Peace they had bought with their bodies and their blood.

I cannot, for the life of me, fathom the idea that a veteran of WWII would believe he could do good in the world by planting bombs, as William Ayers did.  I cannot fathom that a man who had seen in person what high explosives did to the human body, to his friends, could believe that any political point could be worth inflicting that on non-combatants.

That is not to say such men have not existed, or could not exist. I have long since outgrown the sort of naivety that would allow me to hold such a untarnished view of mankind.

What baffles me most about those who are anti-gun is how many small, peaceful people are among them. Women especially confuse me in this regards.

The history of violence shows that the strong always oppress the weak. The large man crushes the small man and women are at the mercy of men who wish to do them harm without a male protector.

This is history.  Women feared for their cities to fall to conquerers because they were helpless agains the wanton rapes and slaughters perpetrated by victorious armies. Helpless.

The curious thing about the gun is that the gun does not care if you are large or small, strong or weak. It cares nothing about if you are a man or a woman. Anyone can use a gun, and anyone can die to a bullet.

It is the ultimate equalizer, the great leveler. 

To borrow a famous quote

"God created Man, Sam Colt made them Equal".


Yes. Exactly.

Why then would people who shun violence, who shun the physical training that makes one capable in a fight, who shun the high protien diets necessary to grow to great size... why THESE people, of all people, are the first to reject the gun?

It is, quite literally, the only thing between them and becoming a permanent class of victims.

Not that it matters. Pandora's Box has been opened, the genie has been let out of the bottle. All the King's Horses, and all the King's Men can't stuff any of it back in again.

We will never live in a world without nuclear weapons.  We will never live in a world without guns or bombs or planes or tanks. We will never live in a world without violence and danger.  No amount of wishful thinking will ever change that.   No number of protests or parades will ever eliminate the danger, or remove the threat hanging over all our heads.  No law can save you from the man who wishes to do you harm, and no drumming circle will change his mind.

Its time to take the Red Pill and Free Your Mind.

Alternative Worlds

Every so often I feel as if there is an entire, more interesting, world just hanging out beyond my periphrial vision.  Every so often, when I turn my head unexpectedly I get a glimpse of this other world.

I think most of this odd alienation comes from having lived an entirely mobile lifestyle from early childhood.  I suppose that for many readers it would be akin to spending a week with gypsies or Travellers and discovering just how different their lives are from yours. Only, instead of a rare, epiphanic, event, its a regular occurance for me.

I do exaggerate slightly. I may spend up to half a decade in a single city.  I struggle desperately to put down roots, to find a home where I hope, one day, to feel as if I belong. Yet... even now, mere years after buying my first home, I feel as if I could have done better, chosen... better.

Not that it matters. I haven't seen my home in a full year, haven't actually lived there for almost a year and a half.

But I digress.

Shortly after my last post I stumbled, entirely by accident, upon the EDC movement.

What's that, you ask?

The Every-Day Carry movement. Movement may be somewhat too strong a word for it. Would we discuss the knitting movement?

Now, as a general rule, I have lived closely aligned with this group of fellows. Nine times out of ten were you to meet me on the street I would have a pocket knife on my person. This has been true since I was six or seven years old, though I do admit that I fell out of the habit during school years, eventually.  I was, once upon a time, a boyscout, and though I may have been an exceptionally poor example of the breed, I never forgot the motto "Be Prepared".

It is fascinating, to me, to uncover such gems of the cultural landscape. Doubly so when I am already of a like mind with the afficionados whose works I discover.  This reveals a hint of how other people, in that more interesting world, live and think.   These people should be my friends, my fellow travellers on the road of life.

Alas, I am not a joiner, and I find that pathetic begging for companionship results in the exact opposite effect, universally.  Those who know me well may understand that my default practice is the opposite, the gruff dismissal, the pained tolerance of those who harass me for company... in short I am not a people person.  And so I explain the joke to death, another notch for my belt.

As I revealed, obliquely, in my second post, one purpose of this blog is for my own edification, a sort of journal of my progress towards the Perfected Man.  I will never get there, of course. No one ever does, but I've been.... lagging.  And while any number of topics for blog posts spring to mind, were I to dump them all upon you at once I should find I have little left to speak of... so let us focus then on this one thing: EDC.

I find that when I do not have a knife on my person, someone inevitably calls for a knife.  But, why did I not have one?

Because I have not systemicized my carrying habits.  I am lazy and disorganized.  Normally I wouldn't think much of it, but the pained patting at my pockets from time to time reveals that I have been amiss.  This leads to my understanding of this EDC crowd: carry those things that you will not be able to do without when you actually do need them.  I may not unsheath a blade for weeks at a time, but not having it when I need it is inexcusable.

So that leads me to question: What should I have in my pockets, my precious?

A knife (currently carrying a Cold Steel folding 'tanto' I've had for 15 years)
Fire (currently carrying a bic lighter. Prefer matches, but my hands are tied).
A smartphone (utility: camera, emergency contact, internets. Currently not carrying anything)
A bundle of paracord (not on me, but within five minutes distance, will rectify)
A flashlight (Nada. Failure.)
Gloves of some sort (I have calfskin workgloves within five minutes, will rectify)
A multi-tool or some other 'tool' set.  (Five minutes? unknown...  I ususally either/or this with a single blade knife)
A watch
A good pen, preferrably steel tube construction (failure!)
A concealed carry pistol with spare mag (Currently impossible. Am aiming for one of those new Ruger M1911's I saw advertised. I own, but due to geographic concerns carry is out of the question).
A sturdy leather belt (own, not worn, will rectify)
A carabiner.
A bandana or other utility 'cloth'. (Nada, failure!)
Durable Foodstuffs/pocket munchies (nada. Failure. May not rectify for outside conditions)

I should explain the philosophy behind various items/choices.  I'll save that for another post, perhaps.  Likewise, this is mostly a spitballing list, so I may include additional items. 

However, this philosophy can be, and is, extensible outwards.  Let me call the 'in my pockets' the 'Level 1' carry.  SInce I was a 'yout' I've always carried a backpack of some sort. What I've got now is a sturdy 'blackhawk' bag, which was called a '3-day ruck' that I've owned for only a few years less than the knife at the head of the list.  This would make a good 'bug-out' bag, I suppose, but then it would be harder to lug around on a nearly daily basis.  What should go in my 'leve 2' bag?
To avoid wasting time, I'll point out this is all failure on my part.

Some sort of First Aid kit
Pocket survival kit (Fish-hooks and line, etc)
A liter of water and additional food
A bigger flashlight
Spare ammo
A change of socks or two (never, ever go anywhere far from home without socks! Unless you are a sockless sunofabitch)
An emergency blanket/reflector
A small prybar (12")
Assorted tools (wire snips, screwdrivers... whatever you need to support your pocket carry first)
A spool of sturdy twine
Duct Tape

I dunno. There's got to be a crossover between utility and portability.  Plus, you do need to be aware of your environment. I mean, I'm tempted to put on a 'survival hatchet', but then, I would be carrying my bag mostly in the city and, at that point, its pretty much excess baggage.  On the other hand, if I were out in the wilderness, I'd probably ditch the prybar and tools in favor of said hatchet.  If I get around to refining this list here in the blogosphere I'll probably try to do it as a series of deeper posts for each 'level'.

Level 3 would be the stuff you keep in your car or on your bike.  Stuff you wouldn't want to lug around personally, but might not be able to 'go home' to collect.  This list is really more notional than even the level 2 list at the moment.

Long-arm or shotgun
Ammo for carry pistol and long-arm
Hammer, nails, screws screwdriver and assorted hand tools (saws, etc)
Blanket(s). I keep surplus wool blankets in my car, I may keep a survival sleeping bag in the future.
I do like the IDEA of keeping a few pieces of 4 foot 2X4 in the trunk, but that isn't always feasible
An emergency medical kit (bigger and more extensive than the carry first aid kit). This is such a big one that many car makers are including them as extras when you buy a new car.
A fire extinguisher

Level 4, should it come to that is the 'bug-out bag', which for me means stuff you have packed and ready to go for when the fecal matter impacts the air occilator.  I don't actually have one of those yet, but I can imagine that when I do assemble one it will include 'non-spark emergency tools (Ax, sledge, shovel), air filters/oxy-masks, full camping gear and so forth.  Where I live the purely environmental issues are floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruption... though my actual house is well situated for two out of the three, at least (top of the hill, away from the most likely route of pyroclaustic flow... not as 'away' as I'd like, but we're talking hot-ash falls, not buried in lava, so its do-able).  Hopefully it will never come up, but I betcha the folks living on Mount Saint Helens said the same thing for years...

I should point out that when I said 'floods' I mean full on Tsunami floods are predicted some time in the next, oh, decade or so. I'm not quite far enough inland to ignore that, but far enough to feel confident I can weather the storm. On the other hand, more usual snowmelt floods seem to happen annually in my...neighborhood is too intimate a word here... region.

Do I sound paranoid?

Not really. Paranoia would be dwelling constantly upon the possibilities.  This is a rational, quiet moment 'risk-assessement'.  I feel I should point out that almost one year ago I told my wife to buy a small generator for the house, which she reluctantly did. Within a month and a half our neighborhood lost power in a horrible storm for a full week.  Except, of course, my house, which was powered by a generator my wife had bought based on my own casual risk assesment, made from halfway around the world.

The question then becomes: Do I set up my 'level 4' system to be entirely 'grab and go', or do I stage it so that if I remain in place, should the worst occur, I will be better prepared?

Well, I suppose it won't really matter in the next few months. I've got time to prognosticate.

Listening Too: Shakespear's Sister

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pushing that Envelope

Remember yesterday, when I said that once an entrenched cultural position begins 'winning' that people seeking to push the envelope will start crawling out of the woodwork?

I feel psychic.

Today in Gawker is an article that can only be described as 'pro-pedophilia'.  Now, it never actually comes out and says that it is, in fact, pro-pedo, but the tone and take of the article is simply that those poor pedophiliacs are being unjustly persecuted for their sexual orientation.

It even starts with a pedo's graphic description of one of his crimes.

Now, one could make a very strong, rational case that the point of the article is that these men need help... and its always men, right?  On the other hand it also ends comparing pedophiles to 'other' oppressed, powerless groups like:

 Blacks, women, Latinos, gays and lesbians


More importantly is any lack of consideration at all for the victims. Not one mention is made of how, unlike those 'other oppressed, powerless groups', people who sexually prey on children wreak unimaginable harm on their 'partners'.

Failure to condemn is to condone.

It really is that simple.

On the face of it I encourage scientists to understand why people to fucked up shit to one another.  Simply shrugging away the existence of 'Creepy Uncles', as we used to call them, is to ignore the problem. Arresting them and letting them out, without addressing the underlying issue is only better in that it removes them from their victim pool for a few years.  Research should be squarely aimed at solving the problem, be it early identification for eradication, or actually curing them of their evil desires.

But make no mistake, if your research is presented in such a way as to make them sympathetic victims of biology?

You are wrong.

If you, as a journalist, discover such research and write an article that continues to treat them as sympathetic victims of biology?

You are wrong.

It really is that simple.


EDIT::: obviously I am not entirely familiar with Blogger yet. There is a direct quote in the middle of the story here, but I'll be damned if I can work out how to make it... well... quote.  


Margaret Carlson has an... interesting... article on Bloomberg.

The actual topic of the article is fairly mundane. It is, simply put, a middle of the road take on abortion, probably where most of us tend to fall when we bother to think about it.  If anything it stakes out a position on abortion that seems positively.... conservative.

That, by itself, is hardly interesting.

What is interesting, however, is the tone of the article, the choice of words, phrases and images.

In short, the article uses some of the most virulently pro-abortion (as opposed to pro-choice) language to stake out a position that is entirely the opposite.  It takes a full reading to really sink in what she's doing, lacking that gleeful indulgence that marks out biting satire. Perhaps, too, it takes a bit of familiarity with the arguments on the Right and Left.

I honestly don't think she meant it.  If I had to guess, Ms Carlson probably intended, honestly, to put forth a reasonable, moderate position about Choice, if only because the positions being taken by some of the most vocal pro-choice lobby have crossed over into out and out pro-death.  This is not a new phenomenon, viewed by old feminists gleefully celebrating their abortions in t-shirts.  Ms. Carlson undoubtedly does not wish to be excoriated by the feminists and the radical left, but some bit of her remanent moral center cried out at the simple fact that at some point you stop disposing of fetuses and begin cheerfully slaughtering children.

However, she has been so immersed in the casual biases of the community she occupies, the cocooned and closed environments of the media and the political-urban left that she cannot see that she is attempting to do so using arguments and language that were entirely designed to denigrate the very people who would be her 'fellow travellers' on this particular journey.

It is a fascinating case study in witnessing someone drowning in a bubble, entirely unaware that they, in fact, are in one.

The very core of her argument is a good one to make: When does life begin?

I understand why religious leaders and anti-abortionists chose to go with 'conception'. Its easy, a clear bright line with no shades of grey.  On can clearly mark a stand at 'Conception', and it seems impossible to me that, using that as your banner, you could ever find yourself in a moral quandry. No one is ever 'almost conceived', after all.

However, it is also a remarkably poor choice for convincing ordinary people. No one ever formed an emotional attachment to a blastocyst, after all.  People often don't even know that they've concieved for weeks after the fact.  Thus the blind, fantatic resistance to morning after pills, or for that matter basic contraception, turns ordinary people off of the whole idea of being pro-life. 

I know that I, for one, find the idea of putting the genie back in the bottle, in this case referring to non-procreative sex, an amusing bit of hubris wherever I see it. 

But there does need to be a line. Life, and thus the right to life, must begin somewhere. In their rush to stake out positions opposed to the pro-life movement, the pro-abortionists, dragging the poor, unsuspecting pro-choicers, have gone farther the other way than even the 'at conception' crowd has done.

Opposing a 'Babies Born Alive' act?  You now are making a case for murdering actual infants, stripping away even the veneer of 'pregnancy'.  I have read non-satirical suggestions, some deeply reasoned and rational, that mothers should have the legal right to do away with children as old as five.

Murder, it seems, no longer is a crime.  Simply declare oneself an abortionist and the deed is as moral as any, you are merely exercising choice.

It goes further as well. Some years ago, before Obama was elected president, when Ted Rall was still relevant, he (Rall, not Obama), suggested in all seriousness, that all persons under the age of 25 who found themselves pregnant (willingly even) be frog marched to a clinic and have their children forcibly aborted.

Is it any wonder that he is no longer relevant?

These are not normal, healthy ideas.  In fact, Ted's chosen age is remarkable from a biological standpoint, in that it is at that age that fertility begins declining in women. While it is certainly possible to get pregnant after 25, it gets increasingly harder, and complications, to include autism, rise.

So why sugget them?

See the title of this post. Once one has accepted a position as moral and right, one will often begin forming an entrenched idea that everything necessary to win is also moral and right. The pro-abortion crowd wishes to push the barriers of what is, and is not, acceptable and so thereby strengthen their own position.... all the while forgetting that, should they win the extreme positions they've advocated will not suddenly go away but will become the new front lines in the cultural war.

So too on the other side. Once the pro-life movement begins advocating an end to contraception, as they do, and once they begin gaining ground in support of ending abortions, then not only will we see more anti-contraception movements, but we'll start seeing people advocating for a return to chastity laws, sex only for procreation even in marraige and other extreme positions.

This isn't necessarily to suggest that everything is a slippery slope. Most poeple will reject positions too far from the ordinary.  What does create the slippery slope is when the winning side begins aligning to marginalize their opponents, to demonize them, to shape the entire political discussion so that opposing the new status quo is almost impossible.

What we see in Ms Carlson's article then, is the common man point of view  rejecting the (currently) extreme position, while being walled in by the entrenched language that only demonizes any and all opposition.

Were I a normal person I should be horrified to see this.  However, I can see a thousand other ways that our civilization is doomed, and I can see the seeds of the next civilization already planted in the fertile, rotting zombie corpse of our current one.  For myself I may have some fear, but for the future?

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Armstrong

As a child I was, somewhat infrequently, asked who my idol was, my hero.  I rarely had a good answer for this question, and I am quite afraid that the people around me were of little help in sorting out the fundamental questions I had regarding a proper hero.

I believe we owe it to the very young to not overwhelm them with layers of nuance. It wasn't the question that bothers, after all this time, but the fact that I couldn't answer it.  Perhaps the adults in my life were afraid of indoctrinating me, or feeding me socially acceptable answers. Tragically, I think this is all too likely.

Decades too late I find that I had an answer, if I had but known it. By not knowing it, however, I missed the chance to learn valuable things from that hero, that idol.  It pleases me to note that in some small ways I did along the path forged for me, blindly groping for answers.

My answer, should I return to my youthful days and be asked anew?

Why, Neil Armstrong!

It was not because he was the first man on the moon, but the reason that he was chosen to be that man... and the reason we never much heard from him after.  Neil Armstrong was a quiet professional, driven to excellence and not given to self promotion.  While he was, by all accounts, a masterful pilot, he preferred to see himself as an Engineer, and after his famous small step, he in turn sought only to teach others rather than bask in the limelight.

To say that I admire that sort of humble excellence is putting it mildly.

Now, the eagle eye'd among you might note that I began this blog with a statement that, ultimately, I am responsible for myself, and yet I began my first post lamenting the failure of adults to guide me in my youth.

That is no accident... call it the set up for a moral lesson, as they used to say on TV 'One to Grow On'.

When I was still in the single digit ages I could hardly be held accountable for my own lack of understanding of the question, it is true.  I note instead that it is a harm, usually small, to put such 'self discovery' on children. I do not believe anything was gained, by any party, in denying me the opportunity to emulate a heroic figure, not by me, not by the adults around me, and not by society.

It is, however, upon my own head that the failure to return to the question with any seriousness at such time as I understood what it meant.  I did not ask myself who my hero should have been, did not put my own feet upon the path blazed for me by better men, did not, if you will, make more than the most half hearted attempts at ripping the blinders from my eyes and taking in the full grandeur of What I Might Become.

And so now I blog.

No, more than that. Now, instead of looking back at years of wasted roads and ill-spent youth, I look forward to the future.  I create myself anew, learning the hard lesson that time waits for no man, but now I have my model, my guide, a beacon lighting the way forward. That, after all, is the purpose of a hero, a role model, is it not?  

It may be a risible pop cultural artifact, but as a touchstone to make oneself better there are far worse first steps.  WWAD?

What would Armstrong Do?

Excelsior, Mr. Armstrong.

-Listening To Operation:Mindcrime