Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Remembering Uhura


    Nichelle Nichols, the original Star Trek Lieutenant Uhura, is dead, of natural causes.  She was 89 years old.

    One by one the old stars are going out -- Bones, Scotty, Spock, and now Uhura.  They live on now only in legend.  May that legend shine forever.

    I first encountered Star Trek in reruns;  before then I'd been too busy with studies and politics -- which included applying the Civil Rights Act -- to notice anything as trivial as TV programs.  I'd heard of Trek, of course -- everybody had: a well-written, really adult Science Fiction series that took on real, adult subjects -- but in the crush of graduate courses and actively supporting the cleaning out of the old Jim Crow laws, I just hadn't had time to go take a look at it until its first run was over and its fans were agitating to bring it back.  I managed to see my first episode -- "The Mark of Gideon", about overpopulation -- during the summer, when classes had ended, and right from then I became a fan.

     I saw right away that the ensemble cast fell into two general ranks: Kirk, Spock and McCoy, who got the majority of scenes and lines -- and Scott, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura, who at least got lines in every episode.  Uhura, as the communications officer, mostly transmitted messages and served to connect scenes and characters, but she did it with a noticeable flair that always made even the most trivial of the messages important.  Besides, the concept of a woman, and a Black one at that, being a Bridge Officer was new and notable then.  In at least one episode she even took the conn, which put her in command of the entire ship, and none of the other characters acted as if this was at all unusual.  The fact that she was also a stunning beauty, but seemed to ignore it when at work, added to the effect;  this was a mature, egalitarian society, capable of taking on the whole galaxy.

    The major appeal of Star Trek is that it was the first piece of public art in nearly two generations which showed us a future we could believe in, and would strive to reach.

    That was enough to make us overlook the occasional lapses into cultural cliches.  That famous first interracial kiss on TV happened during an otherwise forgettable episode called "Plato's Children" -- which I can only assume was written by someone who had suffered miserably through a Philosophy course in school, and ever afterward hated Plato.  Kirk and Uhura were forced into that kiss by a band of telekinetic aliens, which rather lessened the impact, and Uhura's other lines mostly consisted of: "Captain, I'm so frightened."  The guest stars got more pivotal roles in that one.

    Nonetheless, that episode and that kiss did change the world.  I recall that one of the storm of letters that came to the studio afterwards claimed: "I live in the South and I've always believed in separation of the races, but I can't believe that any red-blooded American boy would pass up a chance to kiss such a gorgeous creature as Lt. Uhura."  The rest of the entertainment industry concurred, and there was no trouble about interracial kisses, or other relationships, thereafter.  

    In other episodes she had short but memorable scenes.  In "I, Mudd" Uhura did a fine job of tricking the alien androids into thinking she wanted an android body for herself, thus distracting them from the officers' real escape plot.  In "Mirror, Mirror" she did an equally fine job of distracting the alternate-universe Sulu from noticing Kirk's escape plot.  In "Gamesters of Triskelion" she acquitted herself well in arena-combat with alien gladiators.  In two or three episodes she climbed into the guts of the ship and did competent engineering work.  In others she showed off, if briefly, her fine singing voice.  Not just the script-writers but Nichelle Nichols herself made Uhura into a fully-rounded character and an important member of the crew.  This was a vital feature in Star Trek's effect on society at large.

    After the show ended, Nichols also made promotional films for NASA, encouraging young women and Blacks to join the space program, which encouraged Sally Ride and Guy Bluford to do exactly that.  She continued to be an activist for social equality and for the space program all her life, through more movies and celebrity events, until slowed down by advancing age.  She became a spokesman for NASA and an advocate for STEM studies in the schools, She became the first Black American to put hr handprints in front of Hollywood's Graumann's Chinese Theatre.  And all of it was rooted in that first iconic role in Star Trek, which launched so much more than its first producers could have imagined.

    Rest in glory, Lieutenant Uhura.

--Leslie <;)))><  



Thursday, July 21, 2022

Fear of Equality

    While checking my varied news-feeds again, I came upon a supposedly-neutral discussion board where people were arguing over the question of trans-gender athletes.  I soon noticed that the contributors divided up pretty neatly into two categories: those who claimed that ingesting enough female hormones would make a male athlete just as weak as a female, and those who claimed that male mammals -- including humans -- are always naturally bigger and stronger and faster than females.  This piqued my interest, because I remembered that the fastest racehorse in history was a Thoroughbred mare -- female -- named Winning Brew, who ran the mile at 44 MPH.  She's generally considered the fastest, even though Quarter Horses have been clocked at 55 MPH, because Quarter Horses -- as the name implies -- race at top speed for only a quarter of a mile.  Winning Brew could maintain that speed for a full mile. 

    I've never seen any evolutionary advantage for females to be smaller, weaker, or slower than their male counterparts.  This is particularly true of mammals, among whom the females have to protect not only themselves but their young.  In fact, there's very little sexual dimorphism among mammals -- and what little there is mostly concerns hair growth;  lions have thick manes and tail-tufts, while lionesses don't.  Among bears and tigers, which are solitary carnivores, there's even less difference;  one usually tells a male tiger or bear from a female by shooting it first and then examining the safely-dead body.  Among hyenas the females are usually bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males.  Among reindeer, it's the females who keep their antlers well after the mating-season;  Santa's sled-team are all does.  As for the primates, among Troglodyte chimpanzees the males are bigger, stronger, and fiercer than the females;  among Bonobo chimps it's just the opposite.

    That got me to thinking about the studies in a remarkable book called "The Dominant Ses", by Mathilde and Matthias Vaerting.  It was published almost a century ago, when a lot of the indigenous societies it mentioned still existed, and it should have been an anthropological blockbuster;  unfortunately, it was published in Germany at just the wrong time politically -- and was suppressed for almost 100 years afterward.  Even today, it's devilishly hard to get your hands on a complete copy.  What the book proposed was that whether a society is male-dominant or female-dominant, the characteristics of the dominant sex were always pretty much the same -- even unto physical characteristics.  While nobody, including the archeologists, has ever found a society in which the females were larger and stronger than the males, there have been several in which the sexes were of the same size and strength.  This shows that, humans being social animals, culture -- the way a society thinks -- can have a remarkable effect on the expression of the genes and the physical development.

    So, considering all that, I proposed an experiment.  Let's gather a breeding-population of at least 1000 healthy and fertile adults, and pledge them to raise their male and female children exactly alike -- same nutrition, exercise, training, education, dress and expectations -- for at least two generations, and better it be six.  Then we can compare the size, strength, and speed of both sexes and see just what is truly natural to the sexes and just what is the result of cultural attitudes.  I proposed this to that discussion forum and waited to see what responses I got.

    Well, the results were surprising to say the least.  I was accused of being a fascist/communist for "forcing" people to raise children according to an "ideology" -- even though I'd simply asked for volunteers.  I found it interesting that those who insisted that raising children according to an ideology was eeeeeevil had no objections to raising their children within the rules of particular religions, and what's a religion if not an ideology?  I also noticed that those who wanted children raised "naturally" were also quite willing to help children identify as the sex they weren't "assigned at birth", by applying puberty-blockers and gender-reassignment surgery.  One thing they all agreed on is that it's either impossible or eeeeevil to raise children in complete gender equality, because that would mean "forcing" them all to be exactly identical, which would make them soulless clones.  

    Phew!  Where do people get the idea that "equal" means "identical"?  That's a flat lie, and I can prove it with simple mathematics:  2 + 2 = 3 + 1.  The two sides of that equation are equal, but they're not identical.

    All I can make out of this squabble is that an awful lot of people are actually afraid of equality.  They can't seem to see equality as like the starting-gate at the racetrack, where all the horses start from the same spot at the same instant, and it's only during the race itself that they sort themselves out according to speed.  

    Or perhaps it's exactly that real-life sorting out that they fear.  Only the first three horses in a race place "in the money";  the rest are also-rans.  Could it be that a lot of our intellectuals today fear that, in a pure meritocracy, they would be also-rans?  Is that why they're so afraid of meritocracy, and of equality -- of the fair starting-gate?  Is it because they secretly fear that they're born losers?  That's a pretty poor excuse for hating equality!

    Meanwhile, I still offer my experiment for consideration.  Is anyone interested?

--Leslie <;)))><             

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Abortion and Bias: Medical LIes on the Internet

 Before anything else, copy this:


    While checking my email I came across two different news-feeds -- one moderate/reasonable right-wing (the Daily Wire), and one shamelessly blatant left-wing (the Daily Kos) -- that were covering the progress of the abortion argument.  

    The Kos crowed gleefully about the number of states that have declared themselves "abortion sanctuary" states, the states where abortion-restriction laws are being challenged, and the largely-covert development of a federal law to protect abortion rights -- one based on better Constitutional footing than the Roe v. Wade argument.  I considered that with mid-term primaries coming up fast, the people backing it had better hurry;  we're likely to get a landslide of Republican Congresscritters from the mid-term elections.  

    The Wire, on the other hand, was uncharacteristically emotional -- weeping and wailing about pro-choice demonstrators noisily harassing politicians and even SCOTUS judges, at home and in public, with the message: "If abortion isn't safe, neither are you".  I couldn't help laughing over their pious outrage, remembering the harassment that pro-choice politicians and Planned Parenthood clinics got over the years from the anti-abortion crowd.  I remember escorting scared little teenaged girls through gauntlets of howling harpies -- more than 90% of them middle-aged or older, fat, ugly women who were most unlikely to ever need an abortion.  And I remember clinics that were bombed, and doctors who were stalked and killed, by self-righteous "pro-lifers".  The pro-choice crowd hasn't gotten anywhere near that far -- yet.

    To back off a bit from all the steaming emotionalism, I thought it would be a good idea to review some facts.  Okay, the "pro-lifers" claim that a fetus is a complete human being -- deserving all the rights thereof -- from the instant of conception onward, but science doesn't support that.  Remember that I was raised in a medical family, in a house attached to a clinic, and after business hours I would often go into the office and read the medical books and journals kept there.  I remember, when I was 12, reading one book that contained photographs of the stages of human fetal development from conception to birth.  Those medical photographs (black and white, in those days), shot partly through a microscope, revealed in detail that an embryo is certainly not a complete human being.  

    There's an old doctor joke: "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny".  The joke is that you have to know a bit about medicine to translate it.  What it means is that a fetus in the womb (or egg, for other creatures) goes through all the stages of evolution leading up to its species.  A human embryo starts with the "zygote", or fertilized ovum -- and until it manages to connect to the lining of the uterus, it's in the condition of a microbe; no different from any of the one-celled critters you can see in a drop of wild pond-water.  It's definitely not a human being.

    If the zygote doesn't attach, it gets flushed out with the woman's next period -- end of story.  If it attaches too far up, to the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, the embryo grows until either it's taken out quickly by emergency surgery or it splits the fallopian tube, whereupon the woman dies -- end of story.  The way the zygote attaches is by bumping into the lining of the uterus, then drilling into it until it reaches a blood-vessel.  There it starts developing the placenta, a device for drilling further into the uterine lining and sucking out the mother's blood to feed the zygote, which then fissions into two cells, then four, then... on and on.  When it has enough copies, somewhere around a hundred of them, it develops a central tube, which pulses through its whole length so as to spread the nutrient blood through its whole body. The sound of this pulsing is often (deliberately?) mistaken for a "heartbeat", but it isn't a heart that's beating.  At this point it's in the condition of a primitive parasite worm.  It's definitely not a human being. 

    Over the next twelve weeks the worm elaborates.  It develops the buds of various organs, visible as blobs inside the tubular body, buds of limbs protruding outward, and a distinct spine.  By now its condition is somewhere between a more complex worm and a primitive fish.  More to the point, the placenta has taken over most of the uterine lining.  At fifteen weeks, abortion starts being dangerous to the mother, and no reputable doctor will perform it for any reason less than a) a direct threat to the health of the mother, b) the embryo is so deformed that it can't survive, or c) both.  During these same fifteen weeks more than 50% of all zygotes/embryos are miscarried, "spontaneously aborted", for countless genetic reasons.  This is the natural limitation on abortion, and during its duration the embryo is definitely not a human being.  

    Since accurate photos of the embryo's development bear this out, I went searching through the internet for the same -- and there I ran into a suspicious phenomenon.  When I Googled "Stages of Fetal Development", the sites on the first page and half of the second showed only evasions and fakes.  There were written articles with skimpy descriptions that invariably referred to "your baby", and a few illustrations -- all of them drawings or models, not actual photographs.  Nowhere did I find those original photos that had been in that textbook, nor any that were equally accurate.  The few I did find were brightly lit and heavily dyed -- so as to make the tissues opaque -- while I knew from those earlier photos that early embryonic tissues are mostly transparent, enough to leave the developing internal organs visible.  

    What gives?  Why were accurate photos of fetal development deliberately hidden?  The only rational answer was political or religious bias.  I'd learned, years earlier while doing research for a historical novel, that even a translator can hold a grudge -- usually for political or particularly religious reasons.  Political bias is bad enough but religious bias is worse, because it's based in irrationality and emotion, and is impervious to facts and reason.  

    So I searched on, and way down near the bottom of the second page, I hit pay-dirt.  The URL is the one I set out at the beginning of this article.  It turned out to be a nexus of various sites which do include illustrations, varying from drawings and models to -- finally -- actual photographs.  A lot of the photos were likewise dyed, but I eventually found a few that were (sic!) transparently accurate.  I even found those original black and white photos from way back when, and yes, they showed the development of the spine and internal organs.  I invite everyone to search that site and find them.  Be warned: it's an immense site, with hundreds of links -- and the links connect to further links.  It's a small medical course by itself.  

    And yes, in one of the links down near the bottom of the page is a site warning that "Abortion Is Murder", but that's only one out of hundreds.  This is an encyclopedic site, and the knowledgeable can use it to dig through the diversions and find the truth.  

    That leads me to wonder, how many other such encyclopedic "master" sites are there -- for every major subject -- on the internet?

    I can think of only one trick for finding them.  When Google-searching on the internet, never stop at just the first page.

--Leslie <;)))><                               

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Very Large Can of Worms


The Conservative wing of the GOP is chortling about a recent SCOTUS decision (no, not that one!) about a Washington high school coach who was fired for leading prayer meetings on the 50-yard line after his school's football games.  According to Fox News:  "in a 6–3 ruling, the conservative majority high court backed a former Washington high school football coach Joe Kennedy, who lost his job for saying a quick, silent prayer on the 50-yard line after football games.    As a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach for the Bremerton School District, Kennedy would say the quick prayer after the game by himself, but the practice quickly became popular with many students, who also began taking part in the prayer.

"Eventually, the prayer time turned into a sort of religious-themed motivational speech for the players, and it didn’t take long for an opposing coach to report the harmless and positive gathering to the school district. The district ordered Kennedy to cease the prayer time, and he did for a short time.  He then made the decision to resume the prayers, and that’s when the situation eventually entered messy legal territory, as the school believed that holding a prayer on the field violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which protects the separation of church and state.

"After enduring years of litigation, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court sided with the coach on Monday, writing, in part, 'Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor.'”.

I'll bet that he reason the court decided in Kennedy's favor is that he led his prayer meetings after the games;  he wasn't imploring the Almighty to let his team win -- at the expense of presumably good Christians on the opposing team.  

In any case, the Conservatives who are cheering for this "triumph of religious liberty" don't realize what a mess they've gotten themselves into.  The very first clause of the very first sentence of the very first amendment to the Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".  That means the government shall not play favorites among religions.  That, in turn, means that whatever the government allows or forbids to any one religion it must equally allow or forbid to all of them -- every last one of them -- and that is opening a large can of worms indeed.  

Consider: if the homeroom teacher allows your Protestant kid (Baptists are Protestants, remember) to stand up and recite a Protestant prayer, then she must also allow the Catholic kid beside him to stand up and recite a Catholic prayer (and even one Decade of the Rosary takes a bit of time), and also the Russian Orthodox kid at his other side to stand up and recite an Orthodox prayer, and the Jewish kid ahead of him can stand up and recite a Jewish prayer (the Shema at least is mercifully brief), and the Muslim kid behind him can recite a Muslim prayer, and the Buddhist kid (Do you have a Chinese restaurant in your town, with real Chinese people working in it?  Then you have Buddhists.) can recite The Eight-Fold Path of the Buddha, and the Hindu kid (Does your town have a clinic with people from India working there?) can recite an invocation of any of the dozen major Hindu gods, and the Pagan kid (We're everywhere!) can recite The Charge of the Goddess at least, and the town atheist's kid can recite The Twelve Points of Atheism, and the rebellious kid can recite an invocation to Satan, just to mess with everybody's heads.  Never mind how confusing this will get;  think of the time it will take.  Homeroom will take an hour every day, and never mind Assembly!

There are two ways out of this mess, and until now the schools have opted for the easiest: 1) Forbid all prayers in school, or 2) Provide a class in "Religions of the World", that will cover all of them over the course of the school year, giving all of them equal time and equal respect.  To date, a few schools -- all of them high schools -- have taken this second course. 

I have not heard a peep out of the Conservatives concerning this tactic.  Nonetheless, they're going to have to consider it -- either that or give up their hope to "bring prayer back to the schools".  The Supreme Court might not be so tolerant of the next case they bring up.

--Leslie <;)))><    



Friday, June 17, 2022

Lenin's Time Bomb


It starts with intellectual arrogance.  

Since the development of literacy, at least, the educated -- literate -- class has believed itself to be not just better educated but more intelligent -- than the mere peasants: the folk who actually do the work of catching game, herding livestock, gathering crops, making tools or furnishings, and all those other lowly tasks that keep humanity alive.  For that reason, at least since Plato elaborated on the concept of the Philosopher King -- the intelligentsia have believed that they were more fit to rule society than those loutish workers and soldiers and sons of successful soldiers who normally run things.  They just couldn't figure out how to elevate their so-intelligent selves into positions of real political power.  The best they could do was make themselves kings' advisors, and hope the kings were manipulable.  

Then came the Age of Revolution -- from about 1776 to the present -- when it became obvious that enough peasants, if decently armed and organized, could overcome even kings' armies, and overthrow kings.  That's when intellectuals started plotting revolution anywhere they could, in the hopes of overthrowing the old kings and putting themselves up in power.  The success of various attempts differed notably.  The American Revolution was a howling success: the French Revolution... not so much.

Then the intelligentsia got a real shot in the arm from Karl Marx, who wrote extensively on the subject of organizing the Oppressed Working Class into the intelligentsia's army by exploiting the workers' real grievances and offering to lead them to victory.  One of the best such plotters was Vladimir Lenin, a lawyer -- whose mother had been a schoolteacher, and whose father was an Inspector of Schools -- in Russia, where the money and power gap between the rulers and the workers was the most obvious in Europe.  Now Russia at the time -- turn of the last century -- was mostly agricultural, didn't have that much industrialization or much of a proper Marxist Proletariat, but Lenin could see that there were enough "oppressed masses" to organize and use.  

Lenin saw that his best weapon was education, carefully sculpted to fit different audiences.  The Masses were to get enough education -- provided by the intelligentsia, of course -- to recognize their oppression, get angry about it, and look to the intelligentsia to lead them.  The intelligentsia were to become a "dedicated cadre", trained in techniques of "leadership".  Under no circumstances were the Masses to be allowed to lead themselves.  Whenever rural peasants organized co-ops or granges for their own benefit, or urban industrial workers put together labor unions, Lenin gave his "cadres" instructions on how to steer such organizations off into political dead ends or simple reforms, while keeping them handy for the revolutionaries' use.  

When the actual Russian Revolution came, it was a surprise to Lenin & Co.  Those workers-and-peasants' organizations ranged themselves behind a minor -- and non-"cadre" -- intellectual named Kerensky, who indeed led them (the "Mensheviks") to victory over the Czar's armies.  Once in power, Kerensky organized a mildly democratic government and started instituting those reforms his followers wanted.  Lenin's cadres (the "Bolsheviks"), not to be satisfied with that, staged an internal coup that threw out Kerensky and put themselves in power, with Lenin and his enforcer Stalin in charge.  Lenin came up with the strategies, and Stalin calculated how to enforce them. 

Other countries in Europe, not to mention the Americas, were not at all sympathetic.  Lenin soon figured out that Russia must "spread the revolution" to those other countries, to keep them from attacking Russia and throwing out the new regime.  At the time, the rest of Europe -- and the US -- was busy fighting the last of World War One, and was too distracted to deal with Russia;  Lenin knew that wouldn't last;  he had to disarm the western industrial nations fast.  

Drawing on his family's experience, Lenin came up with a tactic that was pure genius.  He ordered all his remaining cadres to worm their way into not only the western news media and entertainment systems but to infiltrate the schools of education.  The news media and entertainment businesses, being almost 100% privately owned at the time, were only variably sympathetic to Marxist ideals;  but nobody famous was paying much attention to such uninteresting businesses as teachers' colleges.  The takeover began in 1920, and continued long after Lenin's death, well into the 1930s. 

So what did Lenin's cadres teach to class after class of would-be teachers in the western countries?  I heard this second-hand from my mother, when she was studying to get her music-teacher's license in the '60s, and from college classmates and friends who became teachers in the years thereafter.  First, of course, there's a lot of child psychology and studies of how children learn.  Then there's a slightly-slanted history of education itself, with a large dollop of Marxist class consciousness under any other name.  I recall my mother telling me about how teachers had to always beware of "religious and political" groups (always on the right wing of the political spectrum, of course) trying to "undermine" the public schools so as to get their own "biases" taught there.  Then there were tactics of "defending free education" that worried my mother with their "almost Socialist" bent.  These included forming teachers' unions of course, but also trying to get teachers and former teachers elected to school boards -- local at first, then working up to state and even federal levels -- and of course getting involved in local (etc.) politics.  Teachers were also supposed to keep children "informed" about current politics, and even get them involved: writing letters, signing petitions, and even joining political demonstrations.  

What worried her more was a particularly nasty tactic for giving children "class consciousness" and "awareness of oppression".  First, the teachers at a particular schools would secretly confer with each other to determine which children were "privileged" and which were "oppressed".  In those days, that usually meant the rich kids and the poor.  The teachers would divide up along "good cop/bad cop" lines, with the "good" teacher usually being the younger and prettier.  The (older and uglier) "bad" teacher would make a point of being nasty to the "oppressed" kids while fawning all over the "privileged";  then the "good" teacher would act as the comforter and rescuer of the "oppressed" while sternly reproving -- and inculcating guilt in -- the "privileged".  The whole point was to divide up the kids along class lines, and teach the "oppressed" kids to hate the "privileged".  The kids were also supposed to learn tricks for "getting their own back" from the "privileged".  And of course the "good" teacher, their guide and sympathizer, was the kindly intellectual who shared her/his knowledge.  

Years later, when I was in college and studying political science myself, I learned to call this "The Red Tactic";  it was meant to make things worse so as to encourage the "oppressed" to rebel, to bring on the revolution -- which the intelligentsia could then ride to power, like Lenin.  

I noticed that a lot of my old school pals who were studying to become teachers eventually quit the public schools and took up work in odd intellectual corners: teaching night-school to adults, teaching citizenship classes to immigrants, teaching at charter-schools or home-school "pods", teaching at martial arts dojos, and teaching at mental hospitals.  When I asked, they complained that the public school system was "too corrupt" and "too political" for them to stomach any longer.  It wasn't too hard to trace the source of their complaints to the long-term effects of Lenin's tactic.

Frankly, I think the FBI could earn its budget by conducting a covert investigation of every School of Education in the country, identifying and tracking down the Leninist elements (and instructors!), and exposing them.  The resulting scandal should create a long-needed overhaul of the school system -- its structure, its funding, and above all its ideology.  

It will be fun watching the rest of the intelligentsia react.

--Leslie  <;)))><                    



Saturday, June 11, 2022

Devastating Fashion

Some of this I've said before, but I think it bears repeating.

If ever you want to embarrass a Mormon, there are two names you can mention. 

One is Solomon Spaulding, a failed preacher who, more than 200 years ago, tried to recoup his fortunes by writing a historical novel about the lost tribes of Israel -- only to see his manuscript stolen from the printer, shortly after which he died of broken heart.  A few decades later, his family -- whom he had often subjected to readings of his various drafts -- discovered that his book had resurfaced under a new title: The Book of Mormon.  The Spaulding heirs cried plagiarism and threatened to bring their case to court, whereupon the Mormon church settled out-of-court for the then-staggering sum of a million dollars, provided that the Spauling heirs never mentioned the subject again.

The other name is J. Golden Kimball, second son of an Elder in the Mormon church, who expected that his older brother would inherit his father's business, and so went off to make his living as a cowboy.  His father died, and then unexpectedly his older brother died, so J. Golden inherited the job of Mormon preacher -- but he still tended to talk like a cowboy, which left him a legacy of memorable quotes, such as: "I won't go to hell for swearing because I repent too damn fast", and "I may not always walk the straight and narrow, but I sure as hell try to cross it as often as I can", and -- to a careless driver who almost clipped him: "Son of a bitch!  Ain't you got no respect for the priesthood?"

J. Golden's most memorable quote is very rarely repeated, for reasons which will become obvious.  The church had heard of a Mormon town where the ladies had become too obsessed with fashionable clothes, so they sent him there to straighten them out.  He did indeed preach a fiery sermon against yielding to the temptations of fashion, so fiery a speech that he got carried away and ended by saying: "You wicked ladies, I swear, you would wear a feather sticking out of your @ss if it was in fashion!"  Half the fun of this quote, as I've heard more than one reporter tell me, is "imagining the Mormon ladies so attired."

In fact, that would be far from the worst disaster people have inflicted on themselves -- and their children -- in the name of fashion.  The Victorian English fashion of cinching young girls into ever-tighter corsets left countless women with crippled backs and deformed livers.  Enough has been said about the Chinese fashion for binding women's feet, and the 17th-century French fashion for white face-powder that contained arsenic, or the upper-class Mayan custom of deforming babies' skulls with cradle--boards.  Not enough has been said about the Aztec custom of bobbing women's noses, or the Fundamentalist Russian custom of gelding second sons to as to keep them "pure" -- and unmarriageable, so they would stay home to take care of their families in their parents' old age.  Most of these destructive fashions were foisted on children by their parents -- and ultimately for the parents' benefit, one way or another.

Right up there with foot-binding daughters or gelding second sons is the modern upper-middleclass fashion for childhood transgenderism.  It usually starts with a child claiming that he wants to be a girl, or -- more often -- that she wants to be a boy, and the parents happily going along with this claim even unto prolonged hormone treatments and major surgery, both of which (despite the claims of their supporters) are irreversible;  a transgendered person is gelded, permanently.  The process is also expensive -- $75,000 at last count -- which may be another reason why parents of lower income brackets have no truck with this fashion.

Now I've met many people in my long and public career, and exactly three of them "transitioned" to the opposite sex and remained happy with that choice decades later.  All three of them had five characteristics in common:  1) all of them were well over legal age -- in fact, over 30 -- when they made the change, 2) they had all had successful love-affairs in their original genders 3) they were highly regarded in their communities in their original genders, 4) they were all considered quite handsome -- even notable beauties -- in their original genders, and 5) they were successful in their careers.  These were not troubled teenagers or petulant children.  Their parents had no influence on their choices -- in fact, in most cases their parents were already dead.  It was not parental "acceptance" that made them want to change genders.     

Why some parents actually do go along with this fashion is a good question.  The book "Johnny the Walrus" (currently a best-seller on Amazon.com) kindly suggests that the parents are misled by too much trust in Internet friends.  I can think of less charitable reasons, seeing the fame -- and political support -- that such parents have managed to get for themselves by telling their stories on Internet websites.  

In any case, pre-pubescent children -- and even some adolescents -- definitely don't have the knowledge to make any such choice for themselves.  Most, in fact, seriously don't want any such change.  I recall that at the age of 9 I was a tomboy, because I knew that the version of "femininity" that my mother and aunts tried to foist on me left me totally disgusted.  I absolutely despised the "Little Lady lessons" my mother tried to teach me -- walk just so, talk just so, moo and coo -- when I much preferred running off into the local greenbelt to climb trees and hunt for snakes, and loved riding horses (astride, thank you) most of all.  Even then I knew that I certainly wasn't "really a boy", and I didn't even want to be one;  why should I want a body that was clumsy, smelled bad, and had its tender parts hanging out where they could be easily kicked or poked or snagged on thornbushes?  I didn't want to be a boy;  I wanted to be treated like one -- like a default-setting generalized human being, judged by better standards than how pretty-pretty my clothes were, or how mincingly I could walk. 

One thing I learned early, and have seen no evidence to disbelieve since, is that gender is real and natural, but gender roles are totally artificial social constructs.  For anyone who doubts this, I recommend the undeservedly-blacklisted book, "The Dominant Sex" by Mathilde and Matthias Vaerting.  Quoting a mass of evidence from ancient and modern societies, it shows that the characteristics of whichever gender is dominant in a society are almost exactly the same, whether that gender is male or female.  In fact, in those rare societies where neither sex is dominant, the characteristics of both genders are almost identical.  The only differences which those researchers could find were: 1) females, knowing that they'll have to devote large portions of their time to bearing and nursing children, make arrangements in their marriage contracts for the males to take on larger shares of the family's support;  and 2) in female-dominant societies there is no prostitution -- simply because males aren't capable of performing sexually as often as females, and therefore can't make a living at it.  Those are the only behaviors which seem to be inevitably linked to physical gender.

As for the question of natural physical strength, speed, endurance and so on, those studies of female-dominant and ambiarchal societies show that the females had at least the same size, bone-density, and muscle attachments as males.  This is evidence that the way children are raised has more to do with physical abilities than genetics does, especially considering the effect of the environment on the expression of genes.   

And herein lies a solution to the modern problem of "transgender" men competing in women's sports, not to mention careers.  It's quite simple, really.  We must raise our male and female children -- for at least two generation, and better it be six -- exactly alike.  Give them the same nutrition, exercise, training, education, dress and expectations.  Show no difference in treatment to the genders, and in fact don't mention sex at all -- until the children themselves ask;  then give them the simplest answer possible.  So when your 4-year-old asks: "Why is my wee-wee different from Sandy's?" answer: "That's so that when you're all grown up and married you can put them together and make babies of your own."  Any self-respecting 4-year-old will promptly reply: "I'm no baby!" -- and lose interest in the subject.

Now that would be a fashion well worth following -- and a hell of a lot safer than the "gender-fluidity" fashion of today.

--Leslie <;)))><  




Saturday, June 4, 2022

Really Protecting Schools

Another week, another "mass shooting", gives the Democrats more ammo(!) for their decades-long Victim Disarmament campaign.  It's become so predictable that one could almost imagine the Dems deliberately nudging known lunatics -- or "Manchurian Candidates", if anybody remembers that one -- to go out and shoot up some public place just to add fuel to the political fire.

Here's what we know.  The FBI's original definition of "mass shooting" was "a single incident in which four or more people are shot dead" -- not including the perpetrator himself.  Then a few years ago Congress changed the definition to "a single incident in which three or more people are shot".  For obvious reasons, this change inflates the number of "mass shootings" tremendously.  It helps inflate the numbers that (CDC figures) fully 90% of all gunshot victims recover, 80% of them with no permanent debilitating damage.  I can attest to that myself;  some 15 years ago a surprised punk burglar shot me through the calf with a .22, hit neither bone nor artery (just muscle), and the wound healed leaving no more than two tiny scars -- one on either side.  Had the punk done the same to himself and one other person, within an hour, the media today would call that a "mass shooting", with all the usual hype. 

Second, even with the new definition, "mass shooting" falls into limited categories: personal arguments, robberies gone wrong, gang wars, political assassinations (like the cop-shootings inspired by BLM), and the classic lunatic-shoots-up-crowd situation that gets so much press.  In fact, it's the last category that gets 90% of the press, even though he vast majority of mass shootings -- or all shootings, for that matter -- fall into the previous four.  

Both the media and politicians of a certain stripe offer only one solution to any of these: the reliable old chestnut of  "sensible" gun-control laws.  Since the more than 23,000 gun-control laws already passed have had no positive effect on gun crimes, as the Department of Justice can attest, we can only wonder why these same politicians want to pass more of them.  

Other citizens have come up with better solutions, and are working to put them into practice.  These include:

1)  "Hardening" the targets.  In the case of schools, this means limiting entry -- only the front door opens inward, all the rest open outward and lock as soon as they shut -- putting security cameras in every hallway and classroom, putting bullet-proof panels in doors and desks (and students' backpacks), hiring more professional guards, encouraging teachers (and all other school employees) to obtain Concealed Carry permits and arm themselves, and holding "live shooter" drills as often as fire drills.  In short, fortifying our schools as much as our banks.  This approach can work for other public places too.

2)  Improving the police departments. Instead of defunding the police, expand the police departments and give them more money -- and fierce oversight on how it's spent:

    A)  Hire more Black cops -- and Latino cops, and Asian and Native American cops, if you can get them -- such that no department will be more than 50% White, and all patrol teams will be racially mixed.  This won't prevent accusations of police brutality, but at least this will take the "race card" off the table.  

    B)  Arm the police with the latest in "stun" weaponry: hand-held stun-guns, tasers, stun-batons and stun-shields -- and provide intensive training, and plan tactics, in the use of the same.

    C)  Also arm the police with fleets of camera-drones, coordinated by and reporting to a computer center where all the videos will be archived. 

    D)  Overhaul police procedures to deal with fast-developing mass-shootings, particularly at schools, and increase regular street patrols.

3)  Arm, train, organize and inform the potential victims.  

    A)  Require all schools which receive tax money to teach all students basic gun-safety before the end of 3rd grade, basic gun competence before the end of elementary school, defensive shooting before the end of middle school, and tactical shooting before the end of high school, so that virtually all students can qualify for and obtain a Concealed Carry permit upon graduation.

    B)  Provide every neighborhood with a dedicated phone line and website so that armed citizens can provide a posse comitatus pool and coordinate with local police in case of any civil emergency.  In short, restore the Militia to its original role.

4)  Catch the crazies.  Restore the institution of the county mental asylum and broaden the circumstances justifying involuntary commitment.  Thanks to a Reagan-era ACLU case, we've been allowing people with obvious mental issues and dangerous behavioral patterns to wander around loose, given no treatment except prescriptions for medications and no oversight to make sure they take them.  The result has been a lot of preventable slaughters.  This must end.  

These are techniques that we know will work, because they've been found to work in our past and in other countries.  For example, embattled Israel began arming teachers and providing more armed school guards 40 years ago -- and has not had a single case of school shooting in all the years since.  Switzerland, which requires its citizens to take a basic tour in the military and then sends them home with their full-auto military guns, is the most peaceable country in the world.  The town of Kennesaw, Georgia, more than 30 years ago, required every household to contain at least one working firearm -- and has seen its violent-crime rate drop steadily ever since.  

Incidentally, the DoJ estimates that armed civilians in the US use firearms to prevent crimes approximately 2.5 million times per year.  Compare that with 19,000 gun homicides per year, and out of a total population of 340 million.  Incidentally, the US now has the third largest population in the world -- behind only India and China (which are not renowned for accurate crime reporting).  

We know what tactics will actually work to reduce mass shootings and violent crime in general, but how many political pundits have you heard promoting these tactics?  Instead they repeat the same old demands for "sensible gun-control laws" that we know won't work.  We really have to wonder why.

--Leslie <;)))><