Sunday, December 22, 2019

Two Kindly Strangers


This happened yesterday. 

Our housemate, Jerry, finally got a call back from his PCP doctor about the MRI he got last Monday, which showed that he had a torn rotator-cuff and a torn tendon, telling him to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  As our household's Speaker To Bureaucrats, I did the phonecalling to the doctor and the insurance company and the specialist, and got him an appointment with the surgeon in early January, as well as a promise of effective pain-killers to last him that long.  Institutionalized healthcare in this state moves with the speed of glaciers, but its possible to apply some heat to it.  So anyway, Jerry asked that we have Chinese food for dinner as compensation for his having to wait more long days in considerable pain.  Seeing that was a fair enough request, I set off for the only Chinese restaurant in town, a Panda franchise, which is a good five miles away.  I took my car, since there's no way I can drive Rasty's truck. 

On the way to the restaurant I noticed that the car was riding a little rough on the left side.  On the way back I noticed that it was riding a lot rougher, and noisier, and guessed that one of the tires was going flat.  As I was pulling away from the commercial zone and out into the farms, the tire got a lot rougher, and noisier, so I pulled off onto the wide shoulder beside a cornfield.  As I did, another car pulled up and parked behind me, and the driver got out and asked if I needed some help.  Yes, I surely did.  When I climbed out (favoring my bad right ankle and walking with my steel cane) I saw that the left rear tire wasn't just flat but shredded.  It must have been an impressive sight to someone driving behind me. 

So I pulled the trunk-release lever and went to open the trunk, but the trunk-door was so stiff that I couldn't get it open by myself.  The kindly stranger helped me heave it open, then reached down and pulled out the spare tire himself.  He also looked over the somewhat inadequate jack I had in the spare-tire-well, went back to his car, and pulled out a sturdy blue jack of his own.  He took one look at the spare tire and woefully announced that there was no air in it.  I mentioned that I had an AAA membership, and maybe they could send a truck that had its own air-pump.  Kindly mister blue-jack offered to take the tire up to one of the gas-stations farther back up the road and get it filled.  I thanked him heartily, and he took off -- leaving his blue jack by my car as a tacit surety that he really would return.  In about a quarter-hour he was back, with the tire filled and driveable.  He then pulled a professional-looking toolkit out of his car, positioned the jack, and started changing the wheel.  He was obliged to put on my hand-brake to keep the car from moving, even though I had it in park.  We also learned, the hard way, that the nuts on the wheel were painfully tight.  I honestly couldn't help him much, so I stood by the edge of the tarmac and steered oncoming traffic to swerve wide away from us -- rather necessary, since the sun was on the horizon and the lighting wasn't any too good.  Altogether, it took maybe half an hour after he returned to get that tire changed.  He didn't feel too confident in that tire, so he made sure to ask that I was going straight home and my house wasn't too far away.  I thanked him, promised that I owed him one, and wished I had something to give him for his trouble -- and right then I remembered that, along with the tires, the car had come with a CD in the player.  It was the soundtrack from "My Best Friend's Wedding", which I surely had no use for, so I hauled it out and gave it to him, along with a somewhat premature Merry Christmas.  He went back to his car and watched while I started up my engine before he drove off.

Unfortunately, I discovered another problem with that car;  I couldn't get the hand-brake to release.  I pushed the release-button down as hard as I could, even hammered it with my cane-handle, and simply couldn't get it to move.  Damn.

Well, I couldn't think of anything to do but get out of the car and wave for help.  It was getting into twilight now and traffic was thinning out, but eventually another car slowed and pulled over and parked on the shoulder.  Out of it got a plumply pretty young woman, with long turquoise-enameled fingernails, who asked if I needed help.  I explained that I surely did, and could she help me get that damned brake-handle to release.  I wasn't sure if she could do any better than I had, with those long nails, but she offered to take a crack at it.  She tried from the passenger's side, had no luck, and then got into the driver's seat and wrestled it with both hands -- and damned if she didn't manage to get it loose.  I thanked her much and promised I owed her one, which she waved off with a smile as she started back to her car, and wished her Merry Christmas since I didn't have anything else. 

So I got back to the house only an hour or so late, with the somewhat-cooled Chinese food (easily reheated in the microwave) and an interesting tale to tell. 

I've noticed this kind of common civility to strangers, here in Arizona, not just out in the countryside and not just during the Christmas-etc. season.  Still, this sort of kindness -- involving so much effort at a moment's notice -- is remarkable, and worth honoring.  So again, Mr. Blue-Jack and Ms. Turquoise-Nails, I owe you one and I wish you all the blessings of the season.  If I never run across you again, I'll just pay it forward to any of my other neighbors whom I might find in trouble -- and become a kindly stranger myself.   Bless you both.

--Leslie <;)))>< 


 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Season's Considerations


First off, here's my usual boilerplate generic holiday greeting:


SEASON’S GREETINGS!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Jolly Solstice, Joyful Sir Isaac Newton’s Birthday, Jolly Mawlid un-Nabi, Good Yule, Enlightened Bodhi Day, Merry Boxing Day, Joyful Ganesha's Birthday, Bright Ada Lovelace Day, Lusty Saturnalia, Happy New Year, Jolly Hogmanay, Merry Twelfth Night – and a partridge in a pear tree!


--Leslie <;)))>< Fish   )O(

My address:  1300 S. Watson Road, #114-288, Buckeye, AZ 85326
New phone:  602-373-0320
Cell phone:  310-339-4345 
Website:   www.lesliefish.com

Second, a holiday appeal: my computer burped and lost my entire address book!  So please, anyone who  has ever exchanged holiday cards, email or snail-mail, with me -- or would like to -- please write to me at either of the above addresses (e- or snail) and let me know where you are.  I'll get back to you sometime before Twelfth Night, I promise!

As to what I and my weird household will be doing for the holidays (besides contacting friends and family to make sure they're all still there), well...  Being Pagans, but having no close Pagan neighbors to party with, we'll most likely head out to Fry's or Wal-Mart, pick up some real evergreen greenery to perfume the house and hide presents under, get some cookies and hand them around to the neighbors, and swap presents with each other: tasty boozes and sweets for us humans, tasty treats and maybe a potted catnip plant for the cats, and a vinegar-watering -- the soil hereabouts being alkaline -- for our trees.  

Yes, we give presents to our plants, thank you;  they've given us a good amount of food this year -- the pomegranates not so much, but the tangerine tree is practically busting with fruit.  They're complex living things, after all, and they deserve our gratitude as much as anyone else.  As I said, we're Pagans.

If anybody has a problem with that, either because we're not "sensitive" to Sharia compliance or insufficiently Christian, just let us know when you'll be showing up in person.  Bear in mind that Arizona is a "constitutional carry" and "castle doctrine" state.  Grinches beware.

To everybody else, as the song says: "Love and joy come to you, And to you your wassail too."  My favorite wassail is brandy-spiked egg-nog with lots of cinnamon.  What's yours?

Seriously, I don't think there's a human culture on Earth that doesn't notice the shortening of days, and feel a need to go check on the neighbors and give presents, on or around the winter solstice.  Of course the custom is more pronounced as you get closer to the poles, which is why Santa Claus was given his generous nature (and winter clothing, and transport) in the far northern countries.  

There isn't much population close to the south pole, but I'd be interested in learning what the Australians, the South Africans, and the folk of Tierra Del Fuego have come up with, regardless of cross-cultural "contamination".  Maybe in Sydney Santa/Father Christmas shows up in red and green swim shorts, but I'll bet that the real winter solstice gets some special consideration.  

After all, it's a bit dismaying to see the days growing shorter, the weather getting colder, and the sun appearing to get weaker.  We don't need to be told what would happen to us if the sun really did die out, not that such is likely to happen soon.  It's enough to make us consider what blessings we already have, and want to celebrate them, no matter where on Earth we live -- and no matter what the local Wokes, imams, or other grinches may say. 

So in that sense, Santa Claus is real;  he's the spirit of, if not specifically Christmas, certainly the winter solstice season.  Ask me sometime about the time I was Santa Claus, and I don't mean just putting on the costume.  

So, until January takes over, happy holidays to all of you -- and stay in touch.

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(   
       



  

       



Saturday, December 7, 2019

Enough, Already!


So CNN and MSNBC reported, first: "Mass Shooting In Pensacola!" with the usual boilerplate about how horrible civilian gun ownership is, and how terribly we need Common-Sense Gun Control.  Then the later data came in from the police -- that the shooter was a Navy man -- and the tune changed to how terribly we need Mental Health Screening and Care.  Finally, today, CNN dared to admit that the shooter was an Arab -- one of those exchange students our military trains on the weapons our government sells to their governments.  How it works: soldiers/sailors from allied countries -- such as Saudi Arabia -- come to our military training bases and learn how to use the weapons that our govt. sells to theirs.  These military exchange students are supposed to be thoroughly "vetted".  Right.

I recall hearing, twenty years ago, about how one of those training bases made the mistake of putting an Israeli student-soldier up in a fighter-jet on the same base, at the same time, as a Saudi Arab -- with live ammunition.  Once they got in the air, the Saudi pilot just couldn't resist attacking the Israeli.  Despite all his "vetting" and persistent orders from the ground, given a chance, the Arab just couldn't resist the chance to kill a Jew.  The Israeli pilot tried to avoid the fight, but the Saudi refused to obey orders to break off and kept attacking.  The Israeli shot down the Arab and then bailed out of his shot-up plane.  Needless to add, the US military afterward adopted strict security measures against putting Israeli and Arab exchange students anywhere near each other.

The military has had no problems with Israeli exchange-students since.  There have, however, been quite a few problems with Arabs -- and other Muslims.  It seems that however well they're "vetted", give them legal access to weapons and sooner or later they'll howl "Allahu akbar!" and start shooting up the nearest non-Muslims.  This little problem has reliably been whitewashed by the media, which do their damnedest to conceal the shooter's religion and ethnicity while pushing the usual boilerplate about the evils of guns and civilian ownership thereof.  What's unusual about this case is that CNN admitted the shooter's ethnicity and religion only two days after the original incident.  This implies that the word has seeped out, through the lesser media, about the problem with giving military weapons and training to "allies" from Muslim-majority countries.

Nonetheless, when criticism of our present relationship with Muslim-majority countries comes up, the media -- and the usual assorted politicians and "humanitarian" organizations -- reliably denounce it as "Islamophobia".  Right.

The term "Islamophobia" was first invented by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the ancestor of all modern Jihadist groups, and was pushed by all of them at any tolerant/gullible ear they could catch.  The term "phobia" is commonly used in psychology to describe "an irrational and persistent fear".  This is useful in denouncing any criticism of Islam or its practitioners as irrational, therefore bigoted and probably some degree of insane.

But is that fear really irrational?  Consider reports from no less than the United Nations.

Given that a study by the UN found that 65-80% of all Muslims in the world are fundamentalists, which means they believe that every word in the Koran is totally, eternally, and literally true--

Given that the Koran does not just describe war-atrocities of the distant past but commands its readers, several times over, to go and do likewise today--

Given that fundamentalist Muslims have committed some 36,000 deadly attacks on non-Muslims, worldwide, since 9/11/2001--

Given that Muslim immigrants to non-Muslim countries have caused those countries' violent-crime rates to skyrocket--

Given that the majority of "hate crimes"worldwide are committed against Jews, and by Muslims or their sympathizers--

Given that Arab/Muslim-majority countries have broken almost every peace agreement made with Israel--

Given that the three major Arab powers -- Iran, Turkey and Arabia -- contend bitterly with each other over which of them will conquer the world for Allah--

--there is nothing "irrational" about a fear of Islam and Muslims in general.  There is nothing wrong with "Islamophobia".  It's not a "prejudice", because that word -- which comes from Latin and means to "pre-judge" -- means to make a conclusion, usually negative, before getting sufficient facts.  We have seen the facts, many times over, and the only rational conclusion is that Islam is not a safe religion to have around, and its practitioners are not safe people to have near you.

Despite the best desperate propagandizing by politicians and their cronies in the media, the real story is beginning to get around.   This is why CNN was willing to mention the Pensacola shooter's real nature and motivation.

--Leslie <;)))><







Sunday, November 24, 2019

Medical Fashions and Bigotries


Growing up in a medical family, I got to see the medical community -- and yes, it is a community -- from the ground up, and I can tell you that like any other community it has its biases and bigotries.

By now, everybody knows about the racist bigotries of doctors and scientists a century ago, but not so well known is the community's belief in eugenics and its own role therein.  I've seen and heard of too many cases where obstetricians made a point of pressuring non-White female patients into getting unnecessary tubal ligations and Caesarian deliveries, precisely because C-section operations always put inelastic scars on the uterus, which limits the woman's future fertility.  This is not just a case of simple greed, urging more surgeries to get more money, because I've also seen cases where doctors pressured White patients not to get recommended surgeries which also would have sterilized them.  Related to this is the willingness of a large number of doctors to perform "gender re-assignment" surgery;  it's Politically Correct, it rakes in money, and it also guarantees that the patient will never thereafter have children.  The unspoken idea behind this particular cultural drift is that people unhappy with their sex, who don't have visible physical signs of genetic anomalies tending toward "hermaphroditism", are mental weaklings who shouldn't pass on their failings to the next generation.  And of course people with resistant mental failings are encouraged not to breed also.

Sonewhat different, and more financially motivated, are the fashions in drugs.  It's no secret that the medical community is in bed with the pharmaceutical companies, which push their newest and priciest products to everyone with a legal license to prescribe drugs.  This can lead to the downright creation of "epidemics" -- either of diseases which really aren't, or of the overuse of no-longer-profitable (often because the patents have run out) drugs. 

As a modern example of the first, consider "depression".  Back when depression was called "the blues", most people accepted the idea that it was caused by real-life environmental conditions -- usually economic hard times or loss of a lover.  The medical community was aware that there are some people, then called "melancholiacs", who had natural-born gloomy personalities and who would be depressed no matter what happened in their environments.  As the science of psychology advanced, the medical community discovered that "extreme melancholia" was indeed a neurological condition that could be treated with various chemicals -- ranging from cocaine to lithium salts.  The pharmaceutical companies were quick to pick up on this, and to push the idea that virtually all cases of The Blues were caused by an ailment now called "depression" which should be treated by a whole range of shiny new drugs -- now a trillion-dollar industry.  In fact, as any honest researcher will tell you, a very low percentage of "depression"  cases are caused by physical ailments: neurological or serious (as in stage two diabetes serious) glandular problems, or by constant and inescapable pain.  The vast majority of cases are caused by real-life situational problems or by hopeless rage: anger that cannot strike its target, and so turns back on its source.  That last cause is easily treated without prescriptions for expensive drugs;  identify the source of the rage, admit to and accept the feeling of rage, then find an acceptable way to physically express it -- which is simple enough, but not as easy as it sounds. 

The trouble with drug fashions is not just that they push shiny-new overpriced drugs, which often are found later to have nasty side-effects, but that they also ruin the reputations, or even the usefulness, of tried and reliable existing drugs.  We've all heard the story of how over-use of the earlier (out of patent) antibiotics were "overused", and therefore bred up resistant strains of bacteria;  what's not so commonly known is that those antibiotics were not just over-applied (like, fed to livestock) but under-dosed.  To  thoroughly kill a bacterial infection requires giving enough of the antibiotic for a long enough time -- usually ten days to two weeks -- to overcome all the defensive strategies the bacteria can come up with.  Taking too low a dose, or for not enough time, allows the bacteria that survive that long (and therefore have at least one defense that works) to keep on surviving and possibly spread to other hosts, taking that defense with them. 

I myself saw a doctor, and his allies, deliberately under-prescribe tetracycline (one of those reliable old out-of-patent antibiotics);  he prescribed me the minimum dosage for only one week's time, when it's usually prescribed for at least ten days and at a stronger dosage.  When I called him out on that, he grew offended and self-righteous and superior and offered to show me "official papers" recommending that dosage of tetracycline.  He backed off quickly when I said that yes, I would indeed like to see those papers, and could I also xerox them, please.  Anyway, I kept that prescription and took it to a local pharmacist, and asked if this looked all right to her.  She pretended ignorance, but filled the prescription as written.  I went to another doctor with the same complaint, and got a similar prescription -- which I filled;  two minimal prescriptions for two weeks were enough to make a complete dosage.  I also phoned everyone I could think of, from the local board of health to the office of the CDC in Washington, asking if this was common practice, and if so, why.  None of them gave me an answer, but soon after that tetracycline was quietly taken off the market -- for a good three years, while new (under patent) brands of antibiotics became fashionable. 

And then there's the "current opioid crisis", which has become another talking-point for a horde of political candidates.  For thousands of years Asian people  have known that the sap of the seed-case of the Asian poppy -- known as opium -- can relieve even severe pain, and also cause colorful dreams.  If a person takes too much (eating or smoking), it can kill, and taking it too often can cause physical addiction.  That's all it does.  Opium addiction was a borderline medical problem throughout the world for ages.  In the 19th century medical researchers found a way to refine opium into Morphine, a very effective pain-killer that was used all through World War Two.  Like opium, if a patent took too much it could kill, and if taken too often it could physically addict.  The war ended with a lot of wounded soldiers addicted to Morphine, and the medical community decided that this was now a serious problem.  Their solution was to restrict Morphine to hospital use and develop a substitute: a shiny-new painkiller called Heroin.  Again, too much could kill, and taken too often it could addict, and a noticeable percent of the population got addicted.  Again, the solution the medical community came up with was to ban and replace.  The replacement was the "codone" family: Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.  These too were effective painkillers, but again, too much could kill and taken too often they could addict -- and more: taken at the normal dosage they can damage the kidneys and liver.  Some improvement.  Again, the legal/medical solution was to ban and try to replace, which only added yet another couple of dangerous drugs to the list of illegal and therefore illegally-supplied painkiller market.  All things considered, the medical community should have stuck with classic old Morphine.

What the medical community doesn't talk about in public is the fact that physical addiction -- habituation to a foreign substance -- isn't the problem, nor even the pains of withdrawal.  The real problem with addiction is actually mental;  it's obsession -- with the particular feel of the ingested drug, in this case painkillers.  Now bear in mind that there's a difference between pleasure and relief -- though they can seem very similar under some circumstances.  Simple opium is reputed to give both relief from pain and the pleasure of sweet elaborate dreams.  Morphine and Heroin, according to the reports of real junkies, give both relief from pain and -- if injected -- the pleasure of an initial "buzz", which fades quickly.  The codones give nothing bur relief from pain.  So, the main appeal of the opioids is relief from pain.  This would explain why "pain addicts" -- people who become addicted because of pain from injuries -- are those who can "kick the habit" most easily;  when the source of the pain stops, the obsession fades.  Now, what sort of personality would become obsessed with relief from pain?  The only logical answer is somebody whose life contains so much pain that what they want most is for the pain of living to stop.  Historically, there have been whole societies who fell prey to opium addiction, which tells you something about those societies.

The medical community has carefully avoided dealing with these facts.  Why?  Because, if they were taken seriously, then the solution to the "opiod crisis" would have to include squarely facing the psychological and social problems that are its root causes -- and who wants to deal with that? 

Still, the community may have to bite that bullet, if only because the politicians are now putting pressure on doctors in general to make them stop prescribing all "opioids", but particularly the codones.  This is where pursuit of convenient medical fashions has led them. 

Meanwhile, the community must deal with another fact: that there really are a lot of people who suffer from real physical pain, and denying them the painkillers they really need will only drive them off the the black market, where they'll become unnecessarily part of the "opioid crisis".  It might actually be better to relax the old fashionable ban on straight Morphine and simple opium.  Now, who's going to bell that cat and be first to tackle the bias/fashion in public?  Good luck, whoever.

--Leslie <;)))><                      



     

Friday, November 15, 2019

Telling Us What We've Just Seen


After watching the second day of the impeachment hearings, and then the CNN/MSNBC reports on them, I'm convinced that the "mainstream media" thinks we're all idiots. 

The hearings themselves were plodding and picky, and full of congresscritters asking blatantly leading questions.  Today it was ex-ambassador Yovanovitch obediently being led into giving the right answers.  For instance, when asked about how she lost her job, she mentioned that she got a phonecall from her immediate boss saying that there was a question about her "security";  she asked if this was her physical security, and was told no -- she was just being ordered home, and thought this was "irregular".  Assorted Democrats then asked her if she thought this was "intimidation", to which she obediently replied yes.  About then Trump sent out a tweet that grumbled about Yovanovitch, the congresscritters picked up on it, and asked if she thought his complaints were "intimidation" -- to which she promptly agreed.  The newsies reported, on the news directly afterward, that Trump was "intimidating witnesses".  Uhuh.

I recall that when Trump fired Comey, a couple years back, MSNBC showed an interview with Trump in which the reporter asked: "Didn't you think about how it would look?" -- referring to the then active Mueller investigation.  Trump replied: "Sure I thought about it" -- meaning how it would look -- and then went on to say that the investigation was all BS anyway, so "I went ahead and fired him."  Immediately after that, the camera cut to Rachel Maddow saying: "There you have it, people.  Trump just admitted that he fired Comey to stop the investigation."  In other words, she told us that what we had just seen and heard for ourselves wasn't what really happened. 

I have to wonder just how stupid the media think we are, that they can tell us something different from what we've seen and heard and expect that we'll believe it.

This also makes me doubt everything they say about incidents we haven't directly seen and heard.  Back when I was working for a union newspaper in Chicago, I learned how to analyze photographs -- and eventually videos -- and since then I've seen case after case of the media showing pictures and telling stories about them, "interpretations", that don't match the visible facts.  The media have been getting away with this for decades without being caught, or at least without a major scandal about it, so I suppose they think they can expand the tactic and nobody will notice. 

Well, some people have noticed.  No less than Alan Dershowitz, the ultimate liberal lawyer, went up on the Internet and denounced the impeachment proceedings on legal and constitutional grounds: including the congresscritters' cherry-picking of witnesses, behind-closed-doors hearings, extensive use of hearsay ("he-said-that-she-said-that-Trump-siad"), and -- yes -- leading -- of witnesses.  He had to publish his complaint on the Internet because the mainstream media wouldn't hear him.  This is incredible, considering how they used to hang on his every word back when he was attacking racially-biased laws.  In short, when he took up this subject they quietly censored him. 

Less famous citizens have noticed too, which is probably why the more obviously left-biased media have been losing their audiences.  It takes a bit of searching to discover this, but both CNN and the venerable New York Times are worried about how much they've lost viewers.  To be fair, Fox News has lost viewers too, but not on the same scale.  It seems that the citizens are voting with their attention as well as their dollars, forsaking the mainstream media for the vast and varied sources of the Internet.  This can be both liberating and dangerous, since a plethora of information sources are hard to track down and verify.  Still, it can't be worse than a near-monopoly on news reporting that treats its viewers as idiots.

And in my opinion, Trump should fire the inept Giuliani and hire Alan Dershowitz as his lawyer.

--Leslie <;)))>< 

        

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Another Shameless Plug


This will be a short one, since Rasty and I are busy celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary, which involves a lot of champagne and cheesecake, among other things.  Eight years, and we haven't killed each other yet.  Amazing!

Anyway, I have a new book out on Amazon.com:  "Nobody's Victims", a collection of Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror stories wrapped generally around the theme of women who refuse to be victims, no matter how weird the circumstances.  It's had mixed reviews so far, with wildly varying criticisms and favorites.  Apparently the book has stories guaranteed to both delight and annoy everybody, at which I'm quite tickled.  It's proof that I've got a wide creative range!  Heheheheh.  Enjoy!  I welcome more comments. 


--Leslie <;)))><     

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A New Paranoid Theory To Play With


I've been noticing for the past few weeks that I'm unreasonably tired a lot of the time, and so is Rasty, and so are my local friends and neighbors.  What really got me to thinking is that I got a call from Chris, my old buddy in Wisconsin, wherein he admitted that he's unreasonably tired a lot of the time, too.  After that I did a bit of web-searching and noticed online ads for various cures for "lack of energy", "constant fatigue", and so on.  Apparently this is not a local problem. 

Now "chronic fatigue syndrome" turns out to be a bacterial infection, caused by a relative of Lyme disease, and it doesn't affect that much of the population. Neither does mononucleosis, which has similar symptoms.  So why are so many people, from all over the country, so unreasonably tired all the time?  The usual suspects -- air pollution, water pollution, not enough natural foods, under-mineralized crops, sedentary lifestyles, and somehow Climate Change -- don't have enough verifiable evidence.  They also don't explain why the fits of tiredness seem to go in cycles: a couple weeks on, then a couple weeks off -- as if one were catching a cold, fighting it off, then catching another.  But what kind of cold would have no other symptoms?

At that point I remembered an old conspiracy theory invented by my old college buddy, Mary.  We'd been sitting around at a party glooming about the latest headlines, when somebody -- I think it was Nick the medical student -- brought up the spectre of germ warfare and how ill-prepared the US (or any other country, for that matter) was to deal with it, and how many millions would die before a plague was contained and cured. 

That's when Mary came up with her idea.  The best form of germ warfare, she claimed was not a plague that would kill millions, but simply some virus that mutated readily so that human immune systems couldn't keep up with it, was hard to identify in the blood-system, and did nothing but weaken its victims: weaken them enough to reduce their usual energy, keep the immune system busy fighting it, and generally keep people tired -- therefore below maximum efficiency -- for as long as possible.  This would cut industrial production, military effectiveness, innovation, and efficiency in general, without drawing enough attention to itself to create any serious medical research, or even recognition.  The rest of us agreed that yes, that would be the ideal germ-warfare weapon, and we went back to glooming over politics.

Now this was decades ago, and nobody was present at the party except our usual gang of radicals -- and maybe an FBI spy or two -- so there wasn't much chance that the theory would get back to anybody who could put it into practice.  But looking back I realize that it wasn't too long after that when Chronic Fatigue Syndrome began showing up on the back pages of the news.  CFS eventually became noticed enough that the medical researchers really did study it, find the cause, and get to work on a cure. 

Here comes the paranoia;  was CFS a dress rehearsal?  Did somebody take Mary's theory and run with it?  Did somebody take, say, the mononucleosis virus and play with it, make it airborne and mild but persistent?  I can think of a few possible villains who would like nothing better than to loose a sub-plague like this on the US.  The gods know, there are plenty of Gene Modification labs in the world that could produce it.

So, does anybody know what research is being done on broad-spectrum anti-viral medicines, and where we can find them?  Maybe I should be telling this story to the Life Extension Foundation.


--Leslie <;)))><     

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Red Skies” – Cole and Shapero


A few years ago Niall Shapero asked me to write a song-to-order, an anthem for a Furry rebellion, that included the words “crimson skies” at the end of the last verse.  No problem: I was already working on a song – guaranteed to put a twist in the knickers of the Parlor Pink crowd – called “God Bless Hate”, and I could easily slip the code-words into the last verse, which I did.  When I asked him about the peculiar phrase, he explained that he was writing a Sci-Fi novel about, yes, a Furry rebellion.  Of course I wanted to read it right away, so he sent me then-current first draft.  I really liked what I saw, including the libertarian politics of course, so I sent him the song (hard-copy and, IIRC, I sang it to him over the phone), and urged him to hurry up and finish the novel.

Well, he didn’t exactly hurry up, he picked up a co-author/conspirator on the way, and the novel has expanded into a trilogy called “The Chinese Curse”, but the first book – “Red Skies” – is finally in print, from Jarlidium Press, and should soon be up on Amazon soon, if it isn’t there already.  No, my song isn’t in this book, but I expect it’ll show up further in the trilogy when the revolution starts.  “Red Skies” is about the set-up situation that makes the rebellion necessary.

As it stands, the book is a tight and complex police-procedural thriller, whose hero is a classic honest cop in a crooked police department.  The police department is in a future Los Angeles, the cop is a Siamese-cat Furry, the other cops are mostly human bigots, and the background is a recent war fought with Furry cannon-fodder in which the Furry veterans are seriously mistreated (sound familiar?).  Detective Carl Siam is tapped by a federal secret task force to go undercover in the LA Furry ghetto, to find and infiltrate a rumored Furry revolutionary/domestic-terrorist group (familiar again?), only to find that the rebels are friends and neighbors in his own back yard, and their goals and tactics are very different from what he’s been told.  Naturally, his own loyalties come under a lot of strain (ditto).  Within the familiar tropes, though, there are a lot of original situations and plot-twists.

Furry Sci-Fi very often consists of allegories on present-day human racism and political corruption, and political attitudes in modern Sci-Fi vary between classic Progressivism and Libertarianism, often taken to theoretical extremes.  “Red Skies” clocks in solidly on the Libertarian side, but the politics are far from preachy;  they’re smoothly shown, not told, leaving the reader to connect the allegorical dots him/herself.  In that sense, “Red Skies” compares favorably with Heinlein’s classic “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress”.  We’ll have to wait for the rest of the trilogy to see how well the Furry rebellion is depicted as a possible handbook for the future, but I expect it will be very convincing. 

I’m particularly impressed with the ring of authenticity in the detailss of police procedures and politics, and don’t doubt that the next two books will be just as keenly researched and plotted.  The true test of Science Fiction is how realistic it appears, and on that score “Red Skies” succeeds masterfully. 

Well done, Niall.  I can’t wait to see the rest of the story.


--Leslie <;)))><          

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Righteous Use of the Forbidden Word


This past week I've seen a few news stories about teachers, editors, and even low-level politicians losing their jobs because somebody, somewhere, caught them using "the N-word" sometime-- and promptly were harassed and denounced as "racists", which is the Kiss of Death these days.  So the tale I'm about to tell, might be enough to get me cyber-mobbed -- again -- except that I have no boss to be pressured into firing me.  There's also the fact that I'm not what you'd call entirely White, which collapses one of the main features of the Politically Incorrect stereotype.  Tsk.  This is a true story, and in my book truth outweighs anybody's offendedness.

My husband Rasty is a sometimes-annoyingly hereditary Democrat, but he came by it honestly.  His father, Dale Ralston, was chief administrator for the WPA in Depression-era Yuma County, Arizona.  At that time the chief industry of the county was, of all things, farming -- thanks to the rivers, the Gila and the Colorado, that ran through it.  Its population was about 18,000 total, not counting migrant workers who came up from Mexico during the harvest season.  It was a poor county, in a poor state, during the Great Depression, and it sorely needed the services of the Works Progress Administration.

Dale Ralston became well known as a fair and very efficient local WPA administrator.  The "clients" had previously had to ride to the work-sites on a truck, which never had enough room, but he managed to obtain a bus and sent it to the local office, where the clients showed up early in the morning, to take them to their workplace -- which then happened to be a government construction-site.

The first day that he had the bus brought into the office parking-lot and steered the clients toward it, a problem showed up.  About half of the White clients were clustered by the bus but not getting on it, only blocking the doorway, and glowering.  Everyone else -- White, Black, Indian and Mexican -- was milling about at a distance, looking bewildered.  Ralston marched up to the glowering crowd and asked them why they weren't getting on the bus.

One of the men stepped forward and claimed that he and his buddies didn't intend to get on a bus with "niggers", or to work with them.  It wasn't "seemly".

  Dale Ralston pulled himself up to his full 5'8" height, glowered right back, and gave the grumblers a speech that everybody remembered.

"Don't you think that a nigger's got to eat, and work for his money, the same as you?" he snapped.  "Don't you think a nigger's got to feed his family, the same as you?  Don't you think a nigger has a hard time finding work these days, the same as you?  And if you're so much better than the niggers, then what are you doing down here on the dole, the same as them?"

There was a long moment when nobody spoke or moved, so he went on. 

"So I'm going to open that door, and you can get on the bus and go to work -- the same as the niggers -- or you can stay here being all righteous, and go get work somewhere else.  Your choice."

As he stepped toward the bus door the grumbling crowd moved aside for him, but one of them insisted: "All right, we'll get on, but the niggers have gotta ride in the back of the bus."

Ralston laughed as he pushed the bus door open, and he shouted to the rest of the crowd:  "All you niggers, get over here -- get on the bus first, and go to the back."

The rest of the crowd hurried to comply, the Blacks first, then the Mexicans and Indians, then the other Whites who hadn't complained.  And all of them were chuckling, because they'd figured out that whoever was sitting in the back of the bus would get off the bus last -- and would therefore stay in the shade longest, while everyone in front would get off first, and spend an extra few minutes outdoors -- doing physical labor, in the Arizona sunlight.  The "nigger-haters" paid a noticeable price for their pride.

When Dale Ralston got home that night he told the whole story to his wife, who was a local school principal, and they both had a good laugh about it.  She urged him to write down the story in his journal, where he kept his daily record of his job, and he agreed. 

In time that journal was handed down to Rasty's daughter, and Rasty's been urging her to make a clear typed copy of it and get it published.  I hope he can talk her into it;  that record would make interesting reading all these years later.

--Leslie <;)))><   
 



       

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Mowing Month


Now for something completely different: the fun and games of trying to raise a miniature orchard on a large lot in a rural town in central Arizona.  Wheee! 

Many of you readers have been following my reports -- admittedly few and far between -- of my Go Fund Me campaign ("Rare and Endangered Orchard"), and have read a few tales of my adventures on this venture.  Ahem.  But a lot of it looks incredible, I know, unless you've actually tried fruit-farming in Arizona. 

The main problem, bar none, is water.  This isn't called the Great Desert State for nothing.  The topsoil is actually quite good, which is why the town of Buckeye came to be founded in the first place.  The tale goes, after the Great Locust Plague of the 1870s, ruined farmers from Ohio went looking for some of the still free-for-the-homesteading lands to the west.  A bunch of them -- driven by the harsh winter -- went south as far as Arizona, intending to turn west for the fabled lands of the west coast. 

Most of them completed the journey, got to the west coast and then turned north, if you please, for the recently-opened-for-settlement lands of Oregon and Washington.  They finally ended their march in the lush and lovely Klamath River valley, and there they eagerly started claiming and plowing the land. 

Now unknowingly, this gave them the ultimate revenge on the locusts that had ruined them in the first place.  It seems that the great locust swarm, having fed themselves well on all the crops in the midwest, went home to lay their eggs -- and their home just happened to be in, yes, the Klamath valley.  There they dutifully laid their eggs and died, no doubt expecting that their next generation was safe.  Ah, but when the farmers plowed and harrowed the Klamath valley, they exposed those eggs to the wind and rain and sun -- and to all the birds in the territory.  Farmers' accounts from that time mention the peculiar phenomenon of huge flocks of birds following the plows and harrows, and pecking up the ground as if there were no tomorrow.  Well, that smorgasbord for the birds meant the extinction of the Rocky Mountain Locust.  The breed hasn't been seen since.  Thus did the farmers get their revenge -- not to mention bumper crops thereafter -- on the locusts, without realizing it.

But not all those refugee farmers made it all the way to the west coast.  A number of them, from Ohio if you please, stumbled across the land flanking the Gila river.  Seeing that the land was reliably watered from the river, besides being deep old-river-bottom silt, they decided to settle where they were.  They named their biggest town Buckeye, in memory of their old territory, cleared it and farmed it, and they've been farming it ever since.  My yard is a subdivision of an old farm that was broken up for residences after World War Two.  There are working farms within a block of my house. 

Aside from the salt content in the soil, which makes it impossible to grow avocado trees -- and the eternal war with the #%&$*@ gophers -- the only problem is  getting enough water during the summer.  That's actually the major problem.  In a year when the summer "monsoon" rains are plentiful, all you have to do is plant your crops and stand back.  For professional farmers who can pay for regular irrigation from the Gila river, a dry summer is survivable.  For mini-farmers like me, it's a different story.  Not having irrigation, I have to water my trees from "city water": purified for drinking, and therefore expensive. 

This year started with a fine, cool, wet spring -- which promptly turned into an excessively hot and dry summer, starting on Mayday.  There were maybe three rainstorms, all short and light, between Mayday and the end of September: a "non-soon" rather than a monsoon.  This meant that my trees, which had put out lots of branches during the spring, had to be watered by hand -- every other day -- all summer.  I tried to keep the watering contained to small areas right around the trees' roots, but the mini-topography of the land -- including treacherous tunnels dug by those #@$%&* gophers -- carried a lot of it off to other patches.  This meant that the native grass, and weeds, grew unchecked.  Being distracted with mundane problems, not to mention short on cash, I wasn't able to keep up with the mowing.

So I finally got around to it last week, and it was a battle.  The grass is almost up to my waist, and some of the weeds are over my head.  Worse, some of those weeds have thick woody stems.  This is the only yard I've ever seen that has to be mowed partly with a power-saw.  No kidding.  Even machetes won't cut through some of those stalks!  I'll be at it for the next couple weeks, at least.

The cut grass, weeds, and twigs from the Palo Verde and Mesquite trees form a thick mat on the ground that we'll have to rake up and feed through our new wood-chipper.  Some pieces are too thick for the wood-chipper, and will have to be cut into billets for firewood -- which is where the power-saw will be helpful again.  What does get chipped and shredded will more than fill the compost-pit, which we'll have to expand. 

And what am I going to do with all that firewood?  I suppose I can burn it to charcoal, and then plow that into the topsoil, but the plowing-in will take a lot of work too.  And that's not even counting the pruning we'll have to do on the pomegranate trees and the grapevine.  *Sigh*  I always knew that farmers have to work hard, but the sheer labor (or money, to pay for somebody else to do the labor) of working even a micro-farm like mine is incredible. 

I no longer sympathize with the Beatles'  song, "Hard Day's Night".  Working "like a dog" is nothing compared to working like a farmer! 

So if I don't keep up very well with my blog entries, or comments on my FB page, or Go Fund Me page, or even on the Sci-Fi blog "The Sietch" (which I heartily recommend), it's because I'll be outside swinging the heavy-duty weed-whacker or the power-saw.  Patience, fans!  At any rate, you'll know where to find me.

--Leslie <;)))><       

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Raving Over the Line


Yesterday in the UN President Trump, who's usually a sloppy speaker, made a remarkably calm and clear speech defending freedom or religion and promising that the US would continue to defend freedom or religion -- all religions.  This was a clear put-down of the assorted Muslim groups who've been attacking communities of Christians in Africa.

The US media gave the speech no coverage, because they were filled with the latest Democrat hysteria about starting the first steps on impeaching Trump -- as if they hadn't been planning to impeach Trump ever since inauguration day -- on the word of a "whistleblower" who claimed that Trump had made a deal with the Ukrainian government to "dig up dirt" on Joe Biden, and this was clear proof of "collusion".  How interesting!  The Media/Democrats have been claiming for two years now that Trump is Putin's "bitch";  not the Ukraine's.  The whistleblower admitted that he hadn't heard Trump actually do this himself, but knew that there was a phonecall that Trump had made to the president of Ukraine and there was a transcript of it somewhere.

Trump himself released the transcript of that phonecall, which happened just after Zelenski had won the Ukraine national election, and you can find it on the Internet right now.  In fact, I hunted it up and will print it right here.  I invite everybody to read it themselves and draw their own conclusions.

·                                 LINKEDIN
·                                 TWITTER
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Here’s the complete transcript of President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, presented without commentary or media spin.
"Trump: Congratulations on a great victory. We all watched from the United States and you did a terrific job. The way you came from behind, somebody who wasn’t given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It’s a fantastic achievement. Congratulations.
Zelensky: You are absolutely right Mr. President. We did win big and we worked hard for this. We worked a lot but I would like to confess to you that I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge and were able to use it as an example for our elections and yes it is true that these were unique elections. We were in a unique situation that we were able to achieve a unique success. I’m able to tell you the following; the first time, you called me to congratulate me when I won my presidential election, and the second time you are now calling me when my party won the parliamentary election. I think I should run more often so you can call me more often and we can talk over the phone more often.
Trump: (laughter) That’s a very good idea. I think your country is very happy about that.
Zelensky: Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. You are a great teacher for us and in that.
Trump: Well it’s very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel, she talks Ukraine but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.
Zelensky: Yes you are absolutely right. Not only 100%, but actually 1000% and I can tell you the following; I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the UnitedStates for defense purposes.
Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.
Zelensky: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. G1uliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.
Trump: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.
Zelensky: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
Trump: Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.
Zelensky: I would like to tell you that I also have quite a few Ukrainian friends that live in the United States. Actually last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower. I will talk to them and I hope to see them again in the future. I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC. On the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. As to the economy, there is much potential for our two countries and one of the issues that is very important for Ukraine is energy independence. I believe we can be very successful and cooperating on energy independence with United States. We are already working on cooperation. We are buying American oil but I am very hopeful for a future meeting. We will have more time and more opportunities to discuss these opportunities and get to know each other better. I would like to thank you very much for your support.
Trump: Good. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call. Thank you. Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.
Zelensky: Thank you very much. I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet with you personally and get to know you better. I am looking forward to our meeting and also would like to invite you to visit Ukraine and come to the city of Kyiv which is a beautiful city. We have a beautiful country which would welcome you. On the other hand, I believe that on September 1 we will be in Poland and we can meet in Poland hopefully. After that, it might be a very good idea for you to travel to Ukraine. We can either take my plane and go to Ukraine or we can take your plane, which is probably much better than mine.
Trump: Okay. We can work that out. I look forward to seeing you in Washington and maybe in Poland because I think we are going to be there at that time.
Zelensky: Thank you very much Mr. President.
Trump: Congratulations on a fantastic job you’ve done. The whole world was watching. I’m not sure it was so much of an upset but congratulations.
Zelensky: Thank you Mr. President bye-bye."
Decide for yourself what they were talking about.
--Leslie <;)))><  

Addendum:  When Trump says "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution", what he's talking about is:

(from the NEW YORK SUN, Sept. 25th) ' The bragging by Mr. Biden to which Mr. Trump was referring was about the {Ukraine] state prosecutor looking into, among other things, Hunter Biden. The bragging happened at the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018. The former vice president was on a stage with CFR’s president, Richard Haass. The video of it is on Youtube.com. Mr. Biden is talking one of his visits to Kiev.
“I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee,” Mr. Biden said.
“I had gotten,” he added, “a commitment from [President] Poroshenko and from [Prime Minister] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had — they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to — or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘you have no authority. You’re not the president.’”

“The president said — I said, call him,” Mr. Biden replied, evoking, the CFR transcript notes, laughter.
“I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in,’ I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. [Laughter.] He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.” '
The video of Biden making the brag can be found on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXA--dj2-CY



 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

On Shooting Oneself In The Foot


I'll go out on a limb here and make a wild prediction: that Trump will win re-election in 2020 (unless someone shoots him first, in which case we'll get Pence -- oh, joy), and that the wiser heads among the Democratic National Committee know it.

No, really!  Back in my wild and woolly youth I did a lot of grassroots political work -- in Michigan and Chicago, where I also worked for minor but well-run newspapers.  One thing I learned was that when a political party is facing an election, when it knows it's going to lose, it will put up at least one candidate who's severely "ideological" -- i.e. flogs the party's wildest and most extreme policies.  Why?  In order to win the loyalty of the new young voters -- preferably voting for their first time: the idealistic, politically inexperienced and naive youngsters, the kids who really believe they can change the whole world with one vote if they can just turn out enough voters.  Offering the kids their political dream is a good way to win their loyalty for the next 20 years, hopefully.  It doesn't matter if the candidate is too far out to possibly win the election;  the party was going to lose it anyway.  This is why the Republicans put up Barry Goldwater in 1964.  Check your history.

This would also explain, as nothing else can, the DNC and its media-flacks frantically hyping members, policies, and candidates that are totally unelectable -- while doing its best to shoot down its one really electable candidate.  Over the past year we've seen the usual Democrat crew fawning over grotesque Jew-haters like Tlaib, Omar and Sarsour, with no sense of how these characters annoy and actually worry the majority of American voters.  We've also seen them trying to rehabilitate "Socialism" by selling it to high school students who have little to no idea what the term means, but just might be eligible to vote in 2020, much to the dismay of their parents.  And then there's the amazing circus of the Democratic candidate debates, which have spurred the candidates to astonishing feats of public idiocy.  Swalwell took himself out of the race early by promising to ban all civilian firearms and send the police from house to house confiscating them.  And then no less than Robert O'Rourke (who's 100% Irish-American but took the nickname "Beto" in order to snuggle up to the Latino voters, who would have to be prize idiots to trust him) not only boasted of loving the same policy but proved himself outrageously ignorant about firearms by claiming that the AR-15 was a "weapon of war" and the AK-47 could be easily bought by civilians anywhere in the US.  And then, at the last debate, the other candidates turned on Joe Biden, of all people, and accused him of being too old and senile to take the job of president;  this will not sit well with the older Democrat voters.  If this was intended to funnel Democrat voters into going for Warren and Harris, both nicely liberal women (as Hillary was supposed to have been), it's too little and too late;  smart Republicans have already dug up political and financial dirt on both of them, and will doubtless find more.  About the only selling-point the Democrats have left is hate-Trump-get-Trump-anything-but-Trump, a tune which the voters are growing bored with hearing.

So why are the Democrats so determinedly shooting themselves in the foot like this?  If it isn't the losing-year sacrifice, what's the reason?  They can't really believe that their way-out agenda actually appeals to to the majority of voters, can they?  Do they think that their bloated media-campaign will make up for contrary information which voters can see for themselves?  Or are they thinking ahead not to 2020 but 2024, hoping that by then they will have dutifully propagandized enough of the new young voters to bring in a Democrat landslide? 

Or have they so thoroughly brainwashed themselves that they actually believe their own propaganda, and think that voters hate Trump and adore their people and policies as much as they themselves do?  Such thundering stupidity is hard to believe, but stranger things have happened. 

Still, going on the assumption that the average politically-active Democrat has at least average intelligence, I'll hold out for the ideological-sacrifice theory and a foreseen second term for Trump -- or maybe a term for Pence.

--Leslie <;)))><      

Sunday, September 8, 2019

CORRUPTING SCIENCE



Have you ever heard of the Milankovitch Climate Theory?  You should have. 

Milutin Milankovitch was a Serbian astrophysicist and mathematician, born in 1879, who became fascinated with discoveries about the Ice Ages, and determined to find what caused them.  First he studied variations in the cycles of Earth’s orbit and noted how seasonal and latitudinal variations in solar radiation hit the Earth at different times and in different ways.  Then, working without the aid of any computer, he calculated back over 600,000 years to analyze the rise and fall of global temperatures, particularly in the northern latitudes where the great glacier sheets began.  He came up with an astrological theory which thoroughly explained the advance and retreat of Ice Ages.

He concluded that Earth’s orbit varies in three cycles of reliable, but different, lengths.  The shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun varies from more to less elliptical in cycles of about 96,000 years.  Then there’s axial tilt;  this tilt changes from 21.5 to 24.5 degrees and back again every 41,000 years.  Third, Earth’s axis of spin wobbles in a cycle of 23,000 years.  When the three cycles coincide with each other, they can produce a difference of 20% in the amount of sunlight that reaches Earth’s surface in the northern latitudes.  In 1941 he published “The Canon of Insolation and the Ice Age Problem” which laid out his climate theory. 

Milankovitch died in 1958.  Since then, advanced techniques in paleontology showed that the Ice Ages did, in fact, follow his analyses.  In 1976 the journal Scinece published confirmation of Milankovitch’s theory and showed that it corresponded accurately to various cooling and warming periods in Earth’s history.  In 1982 the National Research Council of the US National Academy of Sciences adopted Milankovitch’s theory as solid truth.  Then, in 2000, NASA published information on its Earth Observatory website, cautiously confirming the Milankovitch Climate Theory, and showing that Earth’s climate depends far more on external factors than any human activity.  If anything, human deforestation of the planet, over the last 5000 years, has had far more to do with the climate than carbon dioxide – or methane or water vapor -- added to the atmosphere. 

In fact, all those three gasses occur naturally, and have limitations imposed by nature.  Water vapor condenses into rain and falls where the winds drive it.  Methane is created by decomposition of organic materials, and is burned by lightning – which strikes 200 times per second in Earth’s atmosphere -- into water and carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide is promptly inhaled by plants, and encourages their growth.  If excess CO2 is worrisome, the obvious answer is to plant more plants: preferably big and long-lived ones, like trees, especially fruit and nut trees, which produce food.  Any biologist could tell you this.

What particularly worries me is not just that the biologists haven’t been speaking out on the cure for “global warming” but that NASA knew – almost 20 years ago – about the true cause of “climate change”, and kept the knowledge quiet.
 
Why?  What did NASA, or the country’s biologists for that matter, have to gain by allowing the global-warming/climate-change panic to reach such ridiculous proportions?  What did these scientists have to gain by letting politicians rant about “carbon taxes”, subsidizing electric cars, banning plastic or pushing vegetarianism?  One can guess at the old standby carrot-and-stick of research grants offered or reputations spoiled, but why did so many fall prey to it?  Has the scientific community become so thoroughly dependent on the good will of politicians that it let’s itself be this thoroughly corrupted?

And by the way, the cure to the plastic-garbage problem is depolymerization – reducing the plastic back to crude oil – for which there are several patented processes.  Go look them up.

--Leslie <;)))><         

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Gardening Rough


Now for something completely different: the fun and games of mini-farming in a small town in rural Arizona.  Doubtless most of you have heard about my little house on a large lot in Buckeye, AZ, and my efforts to grow a small (less than 20 trees) orchard.  So far I have eight pomegranate trees of different breeds, colors, and flavors, plus one surviving grapevine, one pecan tree, two (one may not survive) apricot trees, one stunted tangerine tree, one struggling almond tree, and a sour orange tree that started out to be a Bearss lime tree (long story).  That's not counting my breed of super-smart cats.  I put together a legal club -- the Ralston-Fish Land Club -- just to have a legal entity (I can't afford to create a legal "trust") that I can will the land to, that will continue to keep the trees and the cats alive if I should knock off suddenly.  I've got a Go Fund Me project to support the club which I don't report to nearly often enough.

Anyway, the main problem with doing any kind of farming or gardening in Arizona is water.  The heat is secondary, and after that there's the salt in the soil (which is why I can't grow avocados here), and after that the #%!&*@ gophers.

Starting from the top, this year started out wonderfully cool and rainy, perfect for farmers, but almost exactly on May Day everything changed.  The temperature rocketed to over 110 F and stayed there.  The summer Monsoon became a Non-soon -- all of two small rainstorms and then nothing.  I've had to go out and water the trees by hand every other day.  This has not made my water-bill easy to pay, and the trees took heat damage anyway.  The pomegranates fruited all right, but the fruits are small and hard.  I'll go out this week and gather all the ones that are ripe (and when they're this hard it's difficult to tell just which ones are ripe) and run them through the juicer.  I'll be lucky to get a single gallon of juice from the lot of them. 'Twas even worse for the grapevine;  the only grapes that grew were snatched up by the local birds.  And I lost the little American Chestnut tree, and won't be able to replace it until December, damn.  I may have lost one of the apricots, but the other's surviving.  The pecan tree was sunburned and stunted, though it's surviving too.  I'll need to get another pecan, of a different breed, to cross-pollinate with it in order to get nuts off either of them.  Oh, headache!

Nothing can be done about the salt in the soil;  most of Arizona is old sea-bed silt.  The best I can do is keep adding fiber and compost.  Given all the vegetable-trash that the local grasses and weeds produce -- not to mention the available stable-sweepings from my neighbors who keep horses -- that wouldn't be a problem except for the effects of the @#$%&! gophers.

The local critters are a breed called "pocket gophers" -- which means they're small enough for a cat to catch when they poke their noses above ground, if the cat happens to be crouching in ambush at the right place, at the right time.  Alas, that's not enough kills to cut down on the gopher population.  Getting at the damn diggers when they're in their network of tunnels as another story.  I haven't been able to find any source of gopher-snakes anywhere in the state, and hiring an exterminator costs a good chunk of change.

Even so, that wouldn't have been much of a problem (gophers don't like the taste of pomegranate roots, or pecan or citrus roots) if it hadn't been for the tenant's dogs.  We  had a couple of tenants living in the trailer outside who had dogs, and both dogs enthusiastically declared war on the gophers.  They'd chase the gophers into their holes and then try to dig them out.  The result is potholes all over the yard, some of them nearly a yard deep, not to mention the equally-large mounds of dug-up dirt.  The yard would look like a fairy-sized barttlefield, except that -- as in the famous World War One poem -- the grass, and the native weeds, did their work.  All that loosened soil made fine bedding for every kind of seed in the territory, and my necessary tree-watering benefited the damned weeds as well.  The result is that my orchard is more like a miniature jungle.

The cats love it.  They can hunt through the tall weeds or stay cool under the leaves during the heat of the day, or they can stroll back into their roofed kennel, or hop through the pet-door into the back room of the house, as they please.  It's not so much fun for me, since I have to drag the watering-hoses up and down the yard full of thick weeds and disguised pot-holes that could easily catch and twist my rather-fragile ankles.

So I've got to go out and mow that sizable yard, then rake up all the vegetable-trash and run it through a wood-shredder, dump it in a compost-pit, and then flatten out the ground.  This kind of mowing can't be done with a lawnmower;  it'll take a weed-whacker, a machete, a hoe, a pick-axe, a tiller a wood-shredder and maybe an axe.  Yes, the weeds grow tough in Arizona!  Aside from the wood-shredder, I've managed to collect the tools -- including a new weed-whacker which I've named Goses, because I want him to Mow Down the land -- but the problem is the time and labor that all this is going to take.  Between me and Rasty and Jerry Marin, our current guest, we don't have a single body athletic enough to do all this in a single day -- or weekend, or week.  Neither can we assemble enough $$$ between us to hire professional landscapers to come do the job for us.  Damn.  We've got to do it ourselves, and it'll take a month at least.

So this is another reason (besides finances) why I didn't show up at CokoCon this weekend, and don't foresee going to any other local cons soon.  No, I haven't given up on fandom, really.  If anyone asks what Leslie's doing this season, tell them she's hacking her way through the fairies' jungle, trying to reclaim the land for her orchard.

Now you know.

--Leslie <;)))><  )O( 

    


Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Seven Stupid States


This is an expansion on a post I made years ago, so let me repeat that one first:


ON ABORTION
by Leslie Fish

One of the not-so-minor points in the recent presidential race was the abortion question.  Obama stated that he believed in a woman's right to abortion.  McCain and Palin announced that they didn’t personally believe in abortion but, if elected, they would not make a federal case of it but would leave the legality of abortion to the individual states.  Still, the word went out: “If McCain gets elected, you can kiss Roe vs. Wade goodbye.”  That helped tip the balance toward Obama.  It’s pretty obvious that, no matter what the Family Values crowd may think, a vast number of Americans – particularly women –  want to keep abortion legal.  Those who don’t had best consider the following facts.

First, abortion can take place only during the first trimester of pregnancy.  After that it becomes dangerous to the mother, and no doctor will do it for anything less than a direct threat to the mother’s life.  Now, during the first trimester of pregnancy the object in a woman’s uterus is certainly not a “baby”;  it won’t become that until the last trimester.  It isn’t even properly called a “fetus”;  it won’t be that until the second trimester.  The proper scientific name for it is “embryo” – as in “embryonic” – and it is absolutely not a human being.  It does not have a human heart or a human spine or human lungs, and it certainly does not have a human brain.  For the religious-minded, consider that without a brain you cannot grow a mind, and without a mind, how can there be a soul?

Yes, an embryo is made of human tissue, but then, so are your toenails. Yes, it’s technically alive, but then, so is a virus.  Yes, it will eventually develop to become a human being, but then, given enough time, so will whole species of monkeys;  the only difference is time – six months versus six million years.  The physical condition of an embryo is somewhere between that of a primitive worm and a salamander.  Its life is certainly not worth the life, or health, or freedom, of a real human being – such as a woman – not unless you’re going to claim that women are not really human beings.

Now, on the question of the “value of life”…  Ask: whose life?

No man has ever died in childbirth, but countless hundreds of millions of women have.  Childbirth is not safe.  It has not been safe since human beings began walking upright, and growing big brains and big skulls to hold them.  Even in America today with all our boasted medical science, according to the medical actuarial tables, for women between the ages of 15 and 50, of the 12 most common causes of death, childbirth is not the last.  Any woman who becomes pregnant is placing her life at risk.  No one should be forced to place their life at risk without their consent.  No one should be forced to risk their life for someone else’s beliefs.  No man has the right to order a woman to risk her life for what he wants.

In any country that calls itself free, to risk your life or not must always be the individual’s choice.  Therefore, to abort or not must always be the individual woman’s choice – and nobody else’s.  Anything less is tyranny.


                                                                      *****

As you can tell from the names of the contestants, this was originally written a few elections ago.  Since then, the political divisions -- and stupidities -- have grown worse.   Trump won the 2016 presidential election, driving the Democrats into a continuing fit of hysteria which has led them to become blatant Socialists.  The Democrats then won enough seats in the 2018 congressional election to start openly pushing their Socialist agenda, which scared the Republicans at the state level to start passing some ridiculously Reactionary laws.  Among these were the various laws in the Seven Stupid States which restrict access to safe legal abortions down to almost nothing.

Now whatever your attitude toward abortion itself, a bit of reflection will show that these laws -- and the politicians who voted them in -- are just plain stupid.  For one thing, they make those states (I'll name no names) look like hotbeds of religious fanaticism and misogyny.  Any business with female managers or corporate officers will avoid building or investing there, which will do those states' economies no great good.  Neither will the lawsuits already in the works, launched not only by women's-rights groups but by medical organizations which rather resent politicians practicing medicine.

For another thing, these laws will do nothing to cut down on the actual numbers of abortions.  There are still the other 43 states where abortion is legal, often right next door to the Seven Stupids, where determined women can go to get the operation done -- often cheaper than they could have at home, even counting the cost of travel and an overnight motel stay.  Where that cost becomes burdensome, the burden will fall -- as it did back in the days when abortion was illegal all over the US -- on the poor, the people most in need of baby-making restriction.  Women too poor to get out-of-state abortions will certainly wind up on welfare, if they aren't there already, and so will their unwanted children.  States that won't pay for poor women's abortions today will find themselves paying for the support of those children for the next several years.

the only advantage gained by those laws is to make the politicians who voted for them feel wonderfully self-righteous.  The taxpayers who will have to live with the effects of those laws are not likely to be grateful, and they are likely to make their opinions known at election time.

Moral grandstanding doesn't really pay well, and it's ultimately stupid.

--Leslie <;)))><