Friday, May 13, 2022

Not The Hill To Die On

So the big news right now, pushing even Ukraine out of the headlines, is the"leaked" memo from the Supreme Court indicating that the SCOTUS was getting ready to dump the Roe vs. Wade decision -- which would let various states allow or forbid abortion however they want to.  Democrats in Congress tried to pass a federal law that would allow abortion everywhere in the US, but it was voted down in the Senate.  

Seeing that, the legislatures of various Republican-dominated states thought this was their big chance, and passed assorted laws limiting abortion.  This has raised a lot of outrage, since it's not just Democrats who want to keep abortion legal.  The latest Pew studies show that more than 63% of Americans, in all states combined, want to keep abortion legal, safe, and cheap.  Hopeful Republicans ignore these statistics at their peril.  

For the last six months the assorted gaffes of Biden, revelations about Woke school curricula and teachers, the mess in Ukraine, and galloping inflation have soured a lot of voters on the Democrats.  There's a large and growing groundswell that practically guarantees the Republicans big wins in the mid-term elections this November. The only policy that could derail this coming win is the more-conservative Republicans' position on abortion.  

That position, that an embryo is a human being from the instant of conception, and must be treated as such, is not based on science or logic or even assorted monotheistic bibles but only on emotion.  

The Koran and the Hadith claim that a soul doesn't enter a fetus until the 120th day;  before that time Muslims consider abortion a sin, but only a minor one which can be expiated with enough prayer.  The Jewish/Christian Old Testament gives a prescription ("bitter waters") for obtaining an abortion, which a priest is supposed to apply to any woman accused of adultery in order to "cleanse" her so she can go back to her husband.  The Catholic church during the Middle Ages pronounced that a soul does not enter a fetus until at least the 20th week, before which the fetus isn't considered a person.  Jewish Talmudic law holds that a fetus doesn't become a separate being from the mother until its head clears her body.  Studies by scientists show that a fetus doesn't develop even a nearly complete human brain until the 26th week, and even then a fetus removed from the uterus -- even given the best state-of-the-art care -- has only a 50% chance of survival, and if it survives has a less than 50% of developing normal intelligence, so it's best to draw the line there.  This isn't really necessary, since abortion can only be performed safely during the first trimester of pregnancy (he same period during which more than 50% of all fertilized ova are naturally miscarried).  After that time, abortion becomes dangerous to the mother, and no doctor of any standing will do it except when the life and health of the mother are threatened or the fetus is so severely deformed that it can't survive birth by more than a few miserable pain-filled hours.  Thus there is a natural limit to abortion which falls well before the 26th week.

Why then do otherwise rational people insist that even a single cell, if it's a fertilized ovum, is a "human life"?  Their only claim -- "it's alive and has human DNA" -- looks morally and mentally lazy, not to mention superstitious.  It's also been challenged by the development of In-Vitro Fertilization: the process of extracting ova from a woman's ovaries, fertilizing them (usually with the woman's husband's sperm) in a petri dish, then freezing the fertilized ova in storage cannisters, and implanting them in the women when conditions are best for the ova to attach.  This system is used almost exclusively by fertility clinics, but it raises the question about what to do with the rest of the ova and whether they should be regarded as human beings or not.  One Mississippi politician claimed that fertilized ova in a cannister are not human beings because they're not inside a woman.  This implies that an embryo is a human being only because it's inside of, and battening off of, a woman's body.  That looks blatantly misogynistic and biased.    

Consider the other end of life;  when a person is old, terminally sick or injured, undeniably dying, we do have rules about just when that person is effectively dead, and we can pull the plug.  That definition is when a reading of the brain shows a "flatline" -- no brain activity.  If that's true for the end of life, it's equally true for the beginning;  no brain activity means it's not -- yet or still -- a human being.  Since it's impossible to have brain-waves without a brain, we can soon expect to see the devout anti-abortion crowd trying to redefine "brain".  This won't stand up very well against the discoveries of science, and won't make the hard-line anti-abortionists look good.

Worse is the attempt by various state legislatures to reward people who "rat out" their neighbors for obtaining, let alone performing, abortions.  Such laws, history has shown, tend to destroy civil unity and inspire long-lasting feuds.  Still worse is the attempt by those same states to punish any resident woman who goes to another state -- or country, one assumes -- to get an abortion there.  This brings up the specter of the Dred Scott decision, and everything that led to.

And ultimately all these laws are doomed by advancing technology.  Already, the majority of legal abortions are done by chemistry rather than mechanics;  the "morning after pill" (actually two, used 24 hours apart) is good for up to four days after conception, and the pharmaceutical companies -- never prone to ignore a market demand -- are busy producing pills that will flush out an embryo a week after, or a month after, or even three months after conception.  Pills are much more easily smuggled than even small operating rooms, and they'll make their way into every state, regardless of the local laws.  Attempts to stop the flow will only make governments look stupid and incompetent. 

Altogether, there is no way that pushing hard on anti-abortion laws will improve the public image of the Republicans.  Such a course can only cost them voters and break the otherwise inevitable landslide in the November elections.  They should back off from the whole question until after the election, and then argue their case in public on something other than biblical or scientific grounds -- but of course, that doesn't leave them much ground to argue from.  Perhaps they should back away from the whole subject for the foreseeable future.  Opposition to abortion is not worth ruining their chance for victory, and all hope of success for all their other policies.

--Leslie <;)))><  




Saturday, April 30, 2022

Shoveling Out the Crap


Incredibly enough, the "1619 Project" is still being taught in the schools despite being debunked half a dozen times over.  Obviously, there are some political forces keeping it in place.  Just what forces, and who's behind them, and why, are open for speculation. 

The basic idea is that the history of the US really began in 1619, when the first African slaves were imported into the New World colonies, and everything after that was based on slavery.  So, the Revolution was fought to support slavery, the westward expansion was meant to extend slavery, and somehow the Civil War was meant to continue slavery.  What's more, the laws and customs established to maintain slavery have continued to the present day in support of White Supremacy.  In other words, the whole history of America is all about the oppression of Blacks by Whites.  The original book, "The 1619 Project", is a collection of essays, poems, and short stories -- not actual historical research.

What real historians, and archeologists, have found is considerably different.  

First off, slavery was a world-wide phenomenon since most ancient times.  There was no racism about it -- Africans enslaved Africans, Asians enslaved Asians, Native Americans enslaved other Native Americans, and Europeans enslaved Europeans -- until about 4000 years ago, when Ancient Egyptians mastered the casting of bronze into weapons as well as tools, and were able to explore into the depths of Africa.  There they met with local chieftains, who were quite willing to sell prisoners of war to Egyptian slave-traders.  Thus began the Arab African slave-trade, which continues to this day.

Slavery in the Americas began 18,000 years ago, a few centuries after the first humans -- the Clovis Point people -- settled in.  After increasing their numbers to the point of having different clans and different tribes, they began fighting small wars with each other.  The losers of those wars were either killed, driven away, or enslaved by the winners, and the slaves were often traded between the tribes.  As the Ice Age glaciers retreated, more settlers came from across the Pacific and added to the wars and trade.  The pre-Colombus Indians had extensive trade routes which ran from Peru, at least, north up to Alaska and across the Bering Straits into Asia, and then beyond -- which is how traces of nicotine and cocaine came to be found in ancient Egyptian mummies, and, later, how an Algonquin woman wound up in the court of Genghis Khan.

The first African slaves arrived in the NewWorld in 1502, imported by the Conquistadors who found that the local Native American tribes didn't survive very well in captivity.  In 1510 a Spanish Jesuit visited the Spanish colonies in central and South America, and was so appalled by the treatment of the natives that he went home to publish essays and pamphlets about it, which were later collectively called "The Black Legend" although they make little mention of Black slaves.  Some of those slaves were occasionally traded to the Spanish city of St. Augustine in Florida, a trade port founded in 1565, but not in great numbers.  

The first slaves brought in any numbers to North America were White -- "indentured servants", whose indenture could be extended according to circumstances-- beginning in 1607 with the founding of Jamestown.  Irish prisoners of war were sold as slaves in the West Indies from 1625 until the early 19th century. 

The earliest recorded opposition to slavery in America came from Roger Williams, who founded the colony of Rhode Island in 1636.  He bought the land outright from the local Narragansett Indian tribes and based his settlement on the principles of complete religious tolerance, separation of church and state, equality of the races, illegality of slavery, and political democracy.  This attracted large numbers of political and religious dissidents who soon made the colony flourish.  Rhode Island's success inspired William Penn to found the colony of Pennsylvania on similar principles of religious toleration, which attracted Quaker, Lutheran, and especially Mennonite settlers.  These immigrants believed in individualism, simplicity, hard work and prayer, the Golden Rule and toleration.  In 1688 they formally declared that all races were essentially equal and that slavery was un-Christian.  Their agreement with the settlers of Rhode Island formed the nucleus of the American abolitionist movement, which spread rapidly from there.  Quakers brought the concept to England, and in 1787 MP William Wilberforce set up the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.  Thus the concept of opposition to slavery itself began in America and spread to Britain, which took action against slavery all around the world. 

As abolitionism spread, slave-holders developed racism as a holding action.  After all, if the Declaration of Independence declared that "all men are created equal", then the only excuse for keeping slaves had to be that people who looked different and came from "uncivilized" country had to be something less than proper "men". This concept was already popular in Asia and the Arab countries, where it still persists to this day.  

The presence of "civilized" Black freedmen in the American colonies tended to  put the lie to that concept,, so slave-holding states tried to present barriers to the freeing of slaves and therefore the creation of troublesome freedmen.  This did not sit well with those religious groups who held that Africans were the descendants of Adam and Eve, just like everyone else, and were therefore equal to anyone else.

On My 11, 1769 Thomas Jefferson joined the Virginia House of Burgesses.  By custom, first-year members weren't allowed to propose legislation, so Jefferson had a friend propose for him a bill that would have allowed a slave-owner to free his slaves at his own discretion.  Older burgesses denounced the author of this bill as an "Anti-christian, Anarchist, and possibly even a Republican" -- because the colony's charter included a requirement that Virginia buy slaves only from British slave-traders.  Nonetheless, the Burgesses did propose a bill demanding equal standing for the American colonies in the British Parliament.  Five days later, the royal governor dissolved the House of Burgesses.  The members reconvened in a tavern and passed the resolution anyway.  This is considered the first step in the American Revolution.

Through the rest of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, opposition to slavery grew in America, culminating in the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.  Meanwhile Britain, in its shameless imperialism, suppressed the African slave-trade in the rest of the world.  Racism as a cultural artifact continued long after slavery had been (mostly) abolished, but in the Americas and western Europe it steadily eroded through the 19th and 20th centuries.  During World War Two the allies got to see the exceptional performance of Black, Asian-American, Latino and Native American troops;  that, combined with the racism and revealed atrocities of the Nazis, put "White Supremacy" in bad odor in the United States.  By the 1990s "White Supremacy" was dying out, and various organizations that had made their fame -- and income -- on battling it were in danger of dying out themselves.  

That was when various well-to-do Marxist intellectuals began fanning the flames of racism, claiming to find it in even harmless circumstances, inflating incidents of real racism wherever they could be found, in order to keep the specter of "White Supremacy" alive -- and themselves relevant, and well paid. Note the revelations about Black  Lives Matter Inc.'s wealth and adventures in real-estate.  This is where "The 1619 Project" came from, and why it's still defended by those who profit from it.   

In fact it was not slavery but opposition to slavery which began in America and spread to the rest of the world from there.  Both America and Britain paid a high cost -- in lost trade, in the cost of hunting slave-ships, in ruined land and lives -- to put an end to slavery.  No other country has paid such a price for that cause.  We have no reason to keep paying for the sins of long-dead ancestors.  

--Leslie <;)))><   





Thursday, April 14, 2022

A Topical Song: Originally the "Slava"

"Topical" songs became wonderfully popular during the folkmusic boom of the 1960s;  that's where Phil Ochs made his fame, and Tom Lehrer, and to some extent Gordon Lightfoot.  In honor of that quaint old tradition, here's a song about an incident that happened just a few days ago -- lyrics by me and Bill Lehman, tune by Stan Rogers.

Historical fact:  the ship's original name was "Slava", which means "Glory" in Russian.  In the rest of Europe it means "a person descended from the ancient Slavic tribes", or "slave".  There are good historical reasons for both those definitions.  And Sevastopol is a major now-Russian seaport on the shore of Crimea, and Snake Island is where the Moskva was headed..  But anyway...


Oh, the Moskva was flagship of our fleet.

-- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! --

She'd sailed since 1979,

Under different names with changing times.

(Chorus)    God damn them all!  We were told,

                  We'd just show up and the Ukes would fold.

                  They would never fight, but I'll tell you,

                   I'm a broken wreck after what I've been through:

                  The last of Vladimir Putin's crew.

The Russian navy scoured its ranks

 -- how I wish I was in Sevastopol! --

For a good five hundred sailors who

Would make enough for the Moskva's crew.  (Chorus)

She needed that many, just to sail

 -- how I wish I was in Sevastopol! -- 

Her discipline was a savage shame. 

She should have kept her original name.  (Chorus)

Yes, the Moskva was an impressive sight. 

  -- how I wish I was in Sevastopol! -- 

But she chased more ships than she ever caught, 

And was dry-docked more than she ever fought.  (Chorus)

She carried missiles, a dozen and more. 

 -- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! -- 

She'd sailed the Med for forty years,  

And fought just once in her whole career.  (Chorus)

Then we were sent to the north Black Sea. 

 -- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! -- 

We went to pummel the towns on shore 

In Putin's new Ukrainian war.   (Chorus)

The Ukes had rockets based on shore

 -- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! --

We were sent to run their death-count higher, 

But with one smart shot they set us on fire.  (Chorus)

We fought like mad to contain the flames.

-- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! --

We hoped we'd still give the Ukes the slip, 

'Til our captain ordered: "Abandon ship!"  (Chorus)

So here we sit on Snake Islan now. 

-- How I wish I was in Sevastopol! --

Suffering burns and drunk as sin, 

Hoping that the Ukes will take us in.  (Chorus)

--Leslie <;)))><    




Monday, April 4, 2022

From the Cat Front

To everyone who contributed to my cat-vet bills, thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  With your help, I paid off the last bills from poor little Silverstreak, checked in Silversun for a thorough physical and treatment, which included an overnight stay in the hospital and some take-home medicines.  Yes, he's got some unspecified kidney disease, the same thing that killed Streak and Dot, just not as severe.  With the use of the medicines, he should recover completely.

The problem is getting the medicines into him.  Twice a day I have to get a small pill down his throat, and he fights like a demon to avoid that.  If he even thinks I'm coming to give him a pill he runs and hides in some inaccessible spot, like the top of the closet or under the computer-desk, so I have to sneak up on him maybe half an hour in advance, pounce on him and wrap him up in a towel -- a spectacle which gives Rasty much amusement.  Then there's the fun of holding his head (Silversun's, not Rasty's), prying his jaws open, poking the pill inside (I take care to wet it first, so it'll go down easier), and shoving it far enough to the back of his mouth so that he has to swallow it.  Once he's lost that battle, he's usually willing to hold still while I put the antibiotic salve into his eyes.  I always pet him extravagantly afterwards, which he accepts as his due, but the moment I let him loose from the towel, he hops off my lap and marches indignantly away.  I have to do this twice a day.  *Sigh*

And then there's the special (easy on the kidneys) cat food I'm supposed to feed him.  He absolutely refuses to eat the stuff, and there's no way I can shove a full meal of that stuff down his throat.  He'll only deign to eat fresh canned food, and not much of that, either.  I tried feeding him people-food, the sort he normally can't resist (boiled chicken hearts and livers, chopped to cat-bite-size, with the other medicine powdered on top of it), but he'll only eat a little and then walk away.  Not that he's losing weight, but he's not putting any on, either.  

He spends the rest of his time moping, either wandering around the house yowling plaintively or sticking close to me and nudging me for petting.  He's pretty obviously depressed, missing his lost family.  Cats are said to be solitary beasts, but I've seen that they do indeed have a form of society -- and they're smart enough to feel the loss when it's gone.  He's grieving, and he's lonely.  

I promised Rasty that I'd wait a "couple" months before getting any more cats, but May is the usual time for kittens in this part of the world, and I won't wait any longer than that.  I found that the local Petsmart has a "re-homing" service, and I'll sign up with them the next time I have to go up to the plaza where it's located.  I'll also sign on with the Animal Welfare League, which is famous for re-homing pets.  I hope they'll be tolerant of my conditions;  I want a short-haired female, just old enough to eat solid food and too young to be spayed, with five distinct toes on each forefoot and discernible intelligence.  A little pale-pointed Siamese would be about perfect.  Considering how my tomcats for the past ten years have spread their genes around the neighborhood, I expect I'll find something suitable here in town.  All I have to do is search hard enough, which I'll do.  Seeing how Silversun has always been gentle and playful with kittens, I think a sweet little female will be just what he needs to cheer him up.  It'll be good to see him play again.

No, I'm not attributing human characteristics to my animals;  after years of observing this bloodline of cats -- and breeding them for intelligence -- I've seen that they do have very human-like emotions and thought-patterns of their own.  Yes, I've hung around with Furry fandom a bit, and the point where I diverge from them is the assumption that an intelligent animal must have a human-like body.  Why shouldn't a cat remain a cat, and just gain workable thumbs and high intelligence?  

The same holds true for dogs, horses, and other fuzzy critters -- or feathered, or even scaly.  I think it would do humans good to have a lot of intelligent non-human neighbors around.  It just might make us a little more respectful of the natural ecosystem we all share.

--Leslie <;)))><    I             

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Now For Something Completely Different...

An Open Letter To My State's Federal Senators:

Dear Senator ____________ :

As one of your constituents, I am asking you to launch a Senatorial investigation into the Catalytic Depolymerization industry -- particularly to determine just who is placing obstructions in the path of its development, at a time when we need it so badly.

Catalytic Depolymerization is a chemical/mechanical process which turns not just plastic waste but all organic garbage into pure minerals and fuel oils -- diesel oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc.  If put into serious production this industry could produce billions of barrels of fuel while cleaning the garbage out of our seas, sewers and landfills.  It would make petroleum no longer a fossil fuel but something that can be created -- like "natural" gas -- from renewable sources.  It would also  solve our garbage problems for the foreseeable future.

There are already several start-up companies trying to develop and apply this technology right now.  One would think that they'd be welcomed as heroes -- but instead they're running into a lot of opposition, overt and covert, ranging from fanatical environmental groups who want to end all use of plastics or gasoline to big oil companies who don't want rivals producing fuel from cheap and abundant sources.  At a time when fuel is used as a weapon of war and when gas prices are rising to ridiculous heights, bringing on soaring inflation and economic depression, we need to expose this opposition and encourage the growth of this industry.  

You can begin, as I did, simply by looking up "catalytic depolymerization" on the internet and following the leads from there.  Please, Senator, start now.


Leslie Fish    

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Silverdust Report


First, everyone who donated to my veterinarian bills, thank you eternally.  Every little bit helped.  

I went to the vet and paid off Silverstreak's bill, clinched the appointment for Silversun, and got Streak's body back.  They'd stored it in the freezer so it was stiff when I got it home, too stiff to curl up and place in the grave.  So I cut away the plastic bag, put her body on the tattered little rug she used to sleep on, and set her on the couch to warm up.  Silversun came up and sniffed her over intently, then perched on the arm of the couch and watched her for hours.  Eventually she softened enough that I could curl her into a ball, as if she were sleeping, and I wrapped her in the rug and took her outside.  Silversun started to follow us out the door, but then stopped and turned back into the house.  

I put her in the hole at the foot of the Tangerine tree, which Henry had dug respectfully deep, said the ritual words -- primarily Wiccan, with added deities from ancient Egypt and North America -- shoveled the dirt back in and put the stones on top.  When I came back into the house, Silversun was waiting.  He looked carefully, saw that Streak's body was not longer with me, and then he hurried to my side and stayed close for the rest of the day.  He didn't want to get too far from me, but followed me all over the house.  At bedtime, he pushed the bedroom door open and insisted on sleeping on our bed, beside or between my feet.  He's made a point of staying close to me ever since -- except for when he gets up and wanders through the house, wailing.  He knows that his two sweethearts are gone, and he's lonely.

Rasty insists that I not get another kitten, not for a couple months at least.  He claims that he's tired of cats, doesn't want any more cats, and doesn't even like the one I've got left, but I think it's more likely that he's tired of seeing beloved pets die.  He made a big fuss about what a mess the house is, and how that's probably the cause of the illnesses that claimed Streak and Dot, so I made arrangements with Jerry to disinfect the house tomorrow.  We'll block off each room in turn, and run the Ozone generator for half an hour in each, which should be quite enough to kill anything -- virus, microbe, insect, or in between. And I'll lay down a thick line of ortho-boric acid all around the house, maybe mixed with Pyrethrin dust, to make sure the damned scorpions don't come back.  I see no use for those vicious creatures, except as food for the Howling Mouse, and I'm pretty sure there are none of those tough mice on our property.  

Come Monday I'll contact the local small-animal shelter -- Buckeye Animal Rescue Kennel, or BARK for short -- as well as the Animal Welfare League of Arizona, and surprise them by putting in an order for a specific type of kitten two months in advance.  This being a farming town, a lot of the animal shelters hereabouts specialize in dogs, horses, burros and goats.  Only a few even take cats.  Farms, obviously, need their cats and rarely hand them over to the animal shelters.  Still, our neighborhood is residential, so there should be a few cats and kittens sent to the shelters, and I'll search through them until I find a kitten with the right characteristics.  Short-haired coat, five distinct toes on the front paws, a larger than normal cranium and visible intelligence: that will be descendant of at least one of my ranging toms.  The bloodline will go on.

--Leslie <;)))><        

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Last of the Breed

 Sad news, sad news.  I phoned the animal hospital to see how Silverstreak was doing, and the veterinarian solemnly told me that she had died during the night.  "She was improving," the vet said, "and then suddenly she suffered complete kidney breakdown, and all we could do was make her comfortable."  That kidney infection is the same thing that killed little Silverdot.  I wasn't there to pet her one last time.  

They're keeping the body until I can come pick it up today.  I'll bring her home and bury her beside Silverdot, under the tangerine tree.  Henry has already dug a little grave there.

Rasty, who doesn't trust doctors, is already grumbling about "Another $600 for a dead cat", but I know he misses her too.  To all of you who chipped in to pay the vet bills, I'm more grateful than I can say.  Thank you also for the information that it is possible to get pet healthcare insurance;  I'll be exploring that too.

In any case, I'll make an appointment to get Silversun a check-up.  He looks healthy, but I want to be sure.  He's now the last of the bloodline that I've been breeding for all these years, and I can't lose him.  He's wandering around the house, searching and wailing, looking for his lost companions and begging to be petted.  Not trusting commercial cat-food right now, I boiled some chicken gizzards for his dinner -- but he isn't interested.  He wasn't even interested in my dinner, which was breaded fish-sticks.  

I have to get another queen-cat, preferably a kitten old enough for solid food.  I was planning on getting one anyway -- it's time for an out-cross after two generations of breeding close -- but now it's vital.  The problem will be finding one that's close enough in body-type: a rangy Siamese-like build, big skull, and five functioning toes.  I'll test for intelligence as best I can.  

Probably the best place to look will be the local animal shelter.  Over the past ten years that we've lived here, my assorted tomcats have spread their genes all over the neighborhood cat population;  certainly Silversun has cousins that have wound up in the shelter whom I can rescue.  I need a short-haired female, with a big skull and functioning thumbs, old enough to eat solid food but too young to have been spayed, and visibly intelligent.  And, hopefully, with a resistance to whatever is causing that damned kidney infection.  

I went through this once before, decades ago, when Feline Viral Leukemia burned through my cattery -- and all the neighborhood cats besides.  When it was over, I had just two cats left;  fortunately they were a tom and a queen, and both of them were immune to FVL.  This time there's only one left.  He's got to survive.

--Leslie <;)))><       

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Another Short One

Very short:

I don't usually quote or refer to whole articles, but this one deserves study.  Also check out the highlighted portions.  The effectiveness of Chloroquine was mentioned in an episode of "The Dead Zone" shortly before the Covid outbreak.  

--Leslie <;)))><

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

What Did He Mean?

 This will be a short one, friends, because it's primarily asking questions.  

During Biden's State of the Union speech, among a lot of other things which mostly added up to "pass the Build Back Better Act", he made two peculiar statements.  First, he complained about big corporations that have paid zero taxes, and proposed a flat 50% income tax on all corporations -- with only the suggestion that he meant corporations making more than $400,000 per year.  Second, he mentioned two big corporations by name -- Intel and Pfizer -- and gave them glowing reviews.  Don't these two statements look a little bit contradictory?

When was the last time that a POTUS shilled for specific companies?  Does this mean that the federal government will be openly favoring certain big corporations hereafter?  Wouldn't this add up to a government-controlled economy (communism)?  Or does it mean that certain big-rich companies will have heavy influence on the government (fascism)?  

And then there's that proposed 50% flat tax on all corporations.  The vast majority of corporations in the US, and elsewhere, are quite small;  a 50% tax will ruin them.  The giant corporations are already paying more than 50% taxes, so this proposal will actually mean a tax break for them.  Does Biden really intend for our economy to become a handfull of giant government cronies and a host of powerless pygmies?  

What did he mean, really?

--Leslie <;)))><      

Monday, February 21, 2022

A Fast-Turning Tide

When Biden swept into office, bringing a carload of sympathetic congress-critters and senators with him, it looked as if the Democrats had a clear mandate for their thank-god-Trump-is-gone agenda.  In fact, Trump's complaints about vote-fraud and his hijacked January 6th rally only consolidated the Dems' position.  Flushed with victory, backed enthusiastically by the media, Big Tech and academia, Biden & Co. pushed on with their soft-Socialist platform -- including the assorted Covid mandates and massive spending bills.  It seemed that the new administration and its backers could do no wrong.  And indeed BLM and Antifa kindly refrained from throwing any riots or burning large sections of any city, to show their approval. 

But success, it seems, brings excess.  With schools closed and the students stuck with online learning, a lot of parents -- who were necessary for the process -- got to see what the schools were really pushing at their kids, and were not amused.  Once the parents learned that there was a name for the indoctrination they were seeing, "Critical Race Theory" became a nationwide villain.  The school boards, teachers' unions and school administrations who piously denied that any such thing was being taught in the schools promptly became the enemy too, and the parents began voting accordingly.  

Academia itself fell under a cloud when concerned parents learned about the excesses of "woke" colleges, at both public and privately funded schools.  A particular example is Harvard Law School -- arguably the most "privileged" school in the US -- where the students and faculty jointly created the "Reclaim  Harvard Law Movement";  this gang pressured the school to include instruction in "privilege" as part of student orientation.  It also claimed that the school "promotes and sustains systems of systemic racism and exclusion of marginalized groups", and therefore must "provide adequate institutional support for an office of diversity and inclusion, hire critical race theorists, promote staff of color in the workplace to management positions...provide adequate contextualization in curricula, educate its professors, its staff and its students around cultural competency, (and) take the steps that are necessary to accord adequate and equal dignity to marginalized students".  This at a school whose population is 44% "students of color".

Other high-ranking (and expensive) universities have spawned demands for abolition of grades, abolition of tests, private "weeping spaces" for students who are so upset with what they learn in class that they need "safe spaces" in which to cry, and of course the firing of any professor who gives low grades to students "of color".  As such incidents are reported in growing numbers, a lot of parents prefer sending their kids to community colleges or trade schools -- for better skills and much less money -- and the universities are beginning to lose population.  More, an increasing number of parents are taking their underage kids out of public schools in favor of charter schools and homeschooling "pods".

Nor are Biden's corporate allies immune.  There are growing numbers of lawsuits and boycotts aimed at businesses that are discovered ordering their employees into "diversity, inclusion and equity" training sessions.  Even those companies that escape lawsuits and boycotts have noticed that those "woke" training sessions have not improved company morale, but rather the opposite.  Those businesses are now quietly expressing buyer's remorse.  Further, as more tales of excesses pile up, the concepts of "wokeness" and "cancel culture" have fallen into common parlance, and bad odor -- and they're inextricably tied to the reputation of the Democrats. 

Meanwhile, the problem of our beleaguered and porous southern border hasn't gone away -- despite the suspiciously sudden lack of "migrant caravans".  Biden & Co.'s response to this has been to ship "midnight express" bus-loads of unvetted border-crossers to various American cities after dark, which has been noted by local and minor news media if ignored by the major outlets, and has not endeared the administration to the police departments in those cities.  Likewise, the violent-crime rate remains a serious problem, for which various local governments have reversed their earlier "defund the police" policies.  Biden & Co.'s response has been to instigate new gun-control laws, which is not popular outside large Democrat-run cities.  Everyone has felt the pinch of fast-rising inflation, and most citizens relate it to the vast jump in the national debt.  The administration has been woefully silent about this, or else fallen back on blaming Trump for it, which is unconvincing at best.  

Then there's Russia's saber-rattling at Ukraine, which may or may not be serious.  It could be that, given our chaotic retreat from Afghanistan, Russia is teasing the US to show what it really has militarily.  To this the Biden administration has replied with much huffing and puffing and vague promises about heavier sanctions, as well as contradictory threats to "show force" if Russia actually invades Ukraine but also promises that the the US will not send "troops on the ground".  This might mean that the US military will shuck its preoccupation with "diversity" training and show the watching world what we can do with smart missiles and drones, but the voters aren't seeing any sign of that yet.  

Then there are the stories, squeezing through scant mention in the major news media but still spreading, about the expos'e of BLM as a massive confidence racket which has collected billions of donated dollars -- and spent it on buying mansions for its own officers, not on the actual Black community.  There are more stories about legal filings against Hillary and the DNC wiretapping and spying on Trump, both during his campaign and while he was in the White House, which is potentially a far bigger scandal than Watergate.  The Democrats' reaction has been to speed up their efforts, and news reports, on getting Trump into court on various charges;  after the last five years of accusations which turned out to be hollow, this looks only vengeful, questionable, and boring.  

And then there's the Democrats' reaction to the Canadian truckers' convoy.  Biden, still supporting mask and vaccine mandates, cheerfully voiced support of Trudeau -- whose ham-fisted response couldn't have been more appalling, or revelatory.  Trudeau first used the major Canadian news media to paint the truckers and their supporters as "a small fringe minority" which sported "swastikas and Confederate flags" and of course was "white supremacist".  The rapidly-growing independent and Internet media promptly showed that to be a lie.  Then he leaned on crowdfunding companies like GoFundMe -- which locked up the donations for the truckers and promised to distribute the money to other causes that Trudeau approved of, until threatened with serious lawsuits and criminal charges.  Then he invoked the Emergency Act -- the Canadian equivalent of the War Powers Act -- to attack the truckers' bank accounts, insurance and licenses, to send out tow-trucks to haul the convoy-truckers' rigs away, and even mounted police to chase off the truckers and sympathizers on foot.  This backfired spectacularly when the ill-trained police publicly knocked an old lady off her mobility-scooter and trampled her -- and it was all caught on the witnesses' phone-cameras and uploaded to the Internet within the hour.

This seriously upset politicians all over Canada.  The governors of several provinces that the convoy had passed through quickly ended their mask and vaccine mandates, and legislators all over the country complained vigorously about the Emergency Act being "using a sledgehammer to swat a fly".  Trudeau's own party is edging away from him and the media are steadily turning on him.

Here in the US, where a similar "People's Convoy" is shaping up, the organizers looked long and hard at Trudeau's actions and considered that Biden will probably do the same to them.  They're adjusting their tactics accordingly -- starting with pulling their money out of the banks and relying on cash only.  What other defensive tactics they're planning they've kept close to their vests, but we can guess that they'll be relying on CB radios for communications, and those are not under any government or corporate control.  

What all this adds up to is plummeting approval ratings for the Democrats in general, for Biden's administration in particular, and for their corporate or political allies altogether.  Biden's approval rating according to Gallup is at 40% this week -- and Trudeau's is 38%.  This may be less of a problem for Trudeau, since Canada has a multi-party system where a party can win a national election with a minority of the vote, but I somehow doubt that he'll win the next time.  As for Biden, Democrats have begun sidling away from him, too.  Some DNC analysts worry that "our brand is toxic in rural areas", and the crime-suffering cities are grumbling too.  

What's really amazing about this turnaround is how fast it happened.  Democrats claimed a "landslide" in 2020, though it was actually a fairly close election given all the work that the DNC and its allies put into it.  Now, just over a year later, they're in serious danger of losing one or both houses of Congress.  Fortune magazine notes that: "Democrats just lost the most support in one year in Gallup poll history."  No doubt part of this is due to the ubiquity of cell-phones with videocameras, which can capture an incident and transmit it to friends -- or sympathetic news media -- in minutes.  Part of it, too, is due to the spread of minor broadcast and Internet news services, which aren't under the control/influence of the DNC -- a fact which should worry the Democrats.  

But the most of it is the longstanding and deep dissatisfaction of the voters with the corporate and government/bureaucratic oligarchy that has ruled our politics for so long.  There were warning rumbles of this as far back as the Vietnam War, but neither party would take it seriously -- at least until Trump was elected.  That, and not any "systemic racism", is the real reason why Trump won.  The DNC made a monstrous mistake in assuming that a long, loud, and thorough propaganda blitzkrieg -- the whole "Woke" agenda -- would save them.  

--Leslie <;)))><              


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Reason for Sinema's Defection

    Why did Senator Sinema break from the rest of the Democrats and vote against abolishing the filibuster?  Because she's a Senator from Arizona, and she knows something of Arizona history, that's why.

    Look, we all know that the point of getting rid of the filibuster was to allow the Democrats in the Senate to pass HB-1, which would have put the federal government in charge of all elections rather than allowing the states to continue conducting their elections by themselves.  Never mind that, if passed, HB-1 would certainly be found unconstitutional;  the Democrats, and particularly those advising Biden, badly want to get it passed in time to apply it to the 2022 and 2024 elections before it gets knocked down in court.  The motive for this is pretty obvious, given Biden & Co.'s plummeting popularity ratings.  Their usual claim to support the proposed law is that, if election conduct is left up to the states, then of course the "red" -- i.e. majority- Republican -- states will cheat.  

    Nothing is said about majority-Democrat states cheating, even though Democrat states and municipalities have been notorious for election-fraud since at least the days of Boss Tweed.  Over more than a century and a half of such cheating, the Democrats have become quite good at it -- much better than the Republicans.  Having grown up within walking distance of Newark, New Jersey, and having lived for a dozen years in Chicago, I can attest that the old cliche' is true;  Republicans cheat by pushing people off the registration rolls, while Democrats cheat by stuffing the ballot-boxes.  I can tell you in some detail how this is done.  If somebody registers to vote (any party) and then misses one election, s/he will automatically be "purged" off the registry in a Republican state and will  have to register again to vote in the next election.  In a Democrat state, s/he will find that s/he's still on the rolls, but his/her party registration has changed to Democrat -- and somehow somebody with that registration will always vote in all elections thereafter. 

    In the hoo-raw that followed the 2020 elections, a good number of states decided to overhaul their election systems.  These reforms included demanding voter identification for state and federal elections;  now registering voters have to show proof that: a) they are who they say they are, b) they live where they say they live, c) they are at least 18 years old, and d) they are American citizens.  The Democrats, who famously solicit votes among not-necessarily-legal immigrants, refer to this as "voter suppression".  Note that New York City this year passed a law blatantly allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, and so have eleven towns in Maryland and two in Vermont.  The federal law, if passed, would not require strict voter identification for federal elections, such as the state laws do;  the opportunities for fraud are obvious.

    So why would the Senator from Arizona be especially opposed to this?  Consider our state's history.  Back in the 1970s, the ACLU and SPLC were busy ruthlessly applying the punitive portions of the Civil Rights Act to states with bad records of keeping Blacks from voting.  In Arizona, they managed to find one bigoted poll-captain who was caught "losing" non-White votes (most of them Navajo and Latino, Blacks being actually scarce in Arizona), and that was enough to put Arizona elections under federal control for the next 30 years.  For those three decades, it's not surprising, Arizona's votes faithfully paralleled those of the rest of the country. 

    This is odd, because Arizona's demographics are very different from the rest of the US.  Arizona is not a "red" state or a "blue" state;  it's a weird state.  For one thing, this is one state in the union where the Indians (ooh-ooh, Native Americans;  ooh-ooh, Aboriginal Peoples;  ooh-ooh, First Nations...  Ah hell, Indians) didn't lose, and Whites are not a majority.  Whites make up a little over 30% of the population, the assorted tribes of the Navaho Nation comprise a little under 30%, Latinos almost exactly 30%, Blacks a little under 5% and Asians a little over 5%.  The Indians also own outright a good one-sixth of the state's land, including some of the best silver mines, and they own and run all the legal casinos.  They're a formidable voting-bloc and have considerable clout in the state's economy.  This should have been reflected in the election results, but somehow it never was.  Finally, in 2003, the Navaho (when they say their lawyers are real Apaches,  they mean it) hauled their case to the Supreme Court, which finally knocked down the federal government's control of Arizona's elections and handed it back to the state.  In the years since, Arizona's election outcomes have differed noticeably from those of other states.  It's common knowledge here that if you want to succeed in politics, you do not annoy the Indians.  

    Arizonians in general, and the Indians in particular, do not want the federal government running our elections again.  

    So it's not surprising that Sinema voted against ending the filibuster and passing HB-1.  Democrats and their media pundits, who don't understand Arizona at all, mutter darkly that Sinema must have been bribed by Big Pharma.  This is odd, considering that there are very few pharmaceutical companies in Arizona, all of them small and specialized, and none of them have anything to lose or gain if HB-1 passes or not.

    I can think of another reason, much closer to home.

    --Leslie <;)))>< Fish               

Monday, January 24, 2022

Depression: Causes and Cures

Warning: I don't have any kind of medical degree.  I was raised in a family of dentists, most of my family's friends were doctors of some sort, I took a couple basic courses on Psychology in college, and I got a quick course on general First Aid for civilians;  everything else I picked up at random -- sometimes by odd pathways, such as studying Witchcraft, if you please.  Still, I have a knack for seeing patterns, and I've seen this one repeat enough times to have something of an informed opinion..

"Depression" is a doctor's -- and pharmacist's -- dream disease, because the patients don't die and rarely get better;  they just keep coming back for more appointments and more pills.  I haven't looked at the figures lately, but it's safe to say that there are millions of people diagnosed with Depression, and they spend billions of dollars on treatments every year, with no end in sight.  I find this annoying, to say the least, especially when I've seen that there really are cures for it -- and quite often they're cheap.

Now obviously to cure an ailment you must know what causes it, and from what I've seen there are six common causes for what's generally called Depression, each with its own cure.

The first, and all too often overlooked, is just plain self-indulgence.  There is a class of people wealthy enough to feel entitled, and they raise their children to feel the same.  We used to call such kids spoiled brats, but it's Politically Incorrect to use that term these days.  It's currently fashionable to coddle their own and their kids' every emotion, no matter how childish, and to value feelings as much as physical facts.  This is where we get cases of "emotional distress" used to demand ridiculous repayments, or really stupid laws passed, or downright dangerous political actions.  When you hear people claim that having to argue a point with someone causes them "Depression", this is what you're dealing with.  

When you have a gang of such "victims" acting together, the immediate solution is to arrest them -- preferably on a late Friday night, so they can't reach their lawyers until Monday morning and have to spend the weekend in crowded holding cells.  Forty-eight hours or more of real misery should give them the beginnings of a sense of perspective.  The long-term cure is to take each coddled individual and sentence him/her to a long stint at a hard, simple, physical and preferably "dirty" job.  I'd recommend Farm Hand;  it's clearly necessary work, will get your terribly-sensitive "victim" out of convenience-filled cities and away from supportive crowds, will give them healthy exercise and even teach them a useful trade.  It's hard to be self-indulgent when there's no indulgence to be had, and with competence comes confidence -- and maybe even maturity, as viz. Kipling's poem, "The Prodigal Son."

The second common cause is simple real-world sorrow: loss of a loved one, a home, a career, and so on.  Everyone meets trouble and sorrow in life, and the solution is well known: slog on.  Don't be ashamed to ask reliable friends for help, comfort and advice, and don't be too proud to accept their help.  Cherish what you still have, and make a realistic plan to regain something of what you've lost.  There's always something valuable to be done, and something to be gained, even at death's doorway.  Consider the man who was dying of colon cancer and had a last-minute inspiration to donate his body "to science";  he then learned that his still-healthy heart, liver, and kidneys would save the lives of three children, and he died happy.

Third, there's serious -- such as third-stage diabetes, or Addison's Disease -- glandular problems.  A complete endocrinological work-up will reveal this, and there are real, physical solutions.  This is where pills and more pills will actually make a difference.  Cure the glandular ailment and you'll definitely feel better.

Fourth is flat-out neurosis, such as Body Dysphoria.  Nowadays it's fashionable to treat this with offers of hormone and surgery -- even for children as young as four!  A  far more sensible treatment is serious psychoanalysis.  Find out just why the patient hates his/her own body before doing anything drastic to change it.  A complete physical is in order here, including a thorough gene-test.  If little Johnny thinks he's really Jennie, it could be that he has a real genetic anomaly, which must be dealt with.  If there's no genetic or physical problem, it might be that he just envies his sister's doll collection, or really doesn't want to grow up to be a Marine drill-sergeant like his daddy.  In any case, a psychological problem needs a psychological solution, not just a prescription for cheer-up pills.

The fifth common cause is simply pain: nagging, constant, inescapable pain.  It need not be severe, -- just inescapable -- to ruin your day, and your night's sleep, which is guaranteed to make you Depressed.  The obvious cure is to first find out what's causing the pain and repair it -- but if the repair doesn't stop the pain immediately, the victim will definitely need pain-killers and possibly for a long time. 

The problem with applying this cure is the current medical/political fashion for withholding effective pain medication because of The Opioid Crisis.  This "crisis" simply means that politicians looking for useful Causes have discovered that there are a lot of junkies in the world.  In fact, there have been junkies for a very long time, and when you factor out the stresses of the Covid mess, there is no reason to assume that there's a greater percentage of them in the population than there ever was.  Why people become junkies is a whole other question in itself -- one which, curiously, few people are willing to tackle in public -- but the Opioid Crisis is primarily the result of a change in markets.  

It used to be that junkies would contrive to get morphine from amenable doctors or else visit the pusher in the alley to get dirty and overpriced heroin, whose ultimate source was the poppy-fields of southern Asia.  Shifting wars and politics in Asia reduced the supply, at about the same time that the pharmaceutical companies developed new-and-improved painkillers such as oxycontin and hydrocodone, and people inclined to be junkies decided that the official product was cleaner, stronger, and cheaper than street heroin, so they went searching for amenable doctors.  Eventually the police noticed the shift in product and duly reported it to the politicians, who realized that there was gold in them thar ills: a whole new Cause to campaign on.  The political solution was to lean on any amenable doctors, thereby making it difficult for them to prescribe the synthetic opioids to patients who actually needed them.  

This leaves a lot of people stuck with their pain and the resulting depression thereof.  Fortunately, at the same time, the decades-long grassroots campaign to re-legalize marijuana began making serious progress, so that now most states legally allow marijuana for medical and even recreational use.  Marijuana isn't much as a painkiller, but it is a euphoric and tends to put the pain "at a distance", so that the sufferers can at least get decent sleep.

But the sixth cause of Depression, and legally/medically the hardest to deal with, is rage -- hopeless rage, which cannot strike its target so it turns back on its source, which is the victim him/herself.  The way out of this trap is the way you came in;  acknowledge and admit your rage, determine what causes it, and find a way to satisfy it.  The problem with satisfying rage is that strong emotions require physical involvement;  when we're sad we cry, when we're happy we laugh, and when we're angry we want to hit something.  This can cause legal problems, which is why most doctors shy away from this cure.

Here's where a knowledgeable witch can be more helpful than an official doctor.  No law forbids anyone from dancing around a campfire chanting curses while stabbing a voodoo doll, but such can be emotionally very effective.  I've prescribed that technique myself a few times, and it does indeed provide relief.  Besides, if the sufferer has any psychic talent, the ritual may actually strike at the target of his/her rage and exact some satisfyingly real vengeance.

I recall a case of a friend (no names) who was depressed because her daughter was being miserably oppressed by her ex-husband, who was trying to keep all the money, all the property, and all the children.  Since they lived in a different state, making it impossible to get hair or clothes or fingernail-parings from the ex-husband, I got my friend a man-shaped black candle (available at occult shops or online), and had her rub strong-scented oil into the candle for three nights while thinking hard about the nasty ex so as to "identify" him with the candle.  Then I set a fire in a small barbecue-grill in the back yard on the night of the night of the full moon (dark of the moon would have worked as well), and had her dance around the fire, holding the candle and thinking really hard about the Nasty Ex and how much she hated him and stabbing the candle, while my CD player played "March of Cambreadth" (check that one out on YouTube).  When her fury reached a fever pitch, she threw the candle into the fire and watched it burn while the smoke rose -- and, curiously, drifted away in the direction of the state the Nasty Ex lived in.  When the candle burned away and I turned off the CD player, she sat down feeling much better.  

Interestingly enough, she soon learned that the Nasty Ex had gotten good and drunk and drove his car into a ditch, totally wrecking it, and getting himself locked up for drunk driving.  Thus he was in jail during the next court hearing, and the judge -- not being impressed on learning where the absent Nasty Ex was, and why -- awarded custody of the children to their mother.  When my friend heard about this, her depression vanished completely.

It was a lot safer, cheaper, and more effective than Zoloft.

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(   





Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Filk Fragments

In the jolly chaos following the holidays and the new year's paperwork (we changed health insurance companies, among other things), and the usual piled-up medical appointments (including some expensive ones for my cat Silverdot), I haven't had much time for writing.  ...Except, that is, for finishing off a short story intended for the next Darkover anthology, which I just sent off (cross fingers).

However, I did manage to make it to yesterday's LAFA filk -- thanks greatly, Lee and Barry.  It was really nice to do some singing again, with live feedback, even via Internet.  And in between songs we caught up on news, gossip, the usual stuff everybody's been missing during the damned lockdown.

I forget who brought up the subject of the Garbage Crisis, but I knew something about how to deal with it.  I've been doing some Internet searches, and learned a bit about Catalytic Depolymerization -- which is the best way to deal with trashed plastics.  Basically, it's a heat-and-chemistry process that breaks down any polymer -- and all plastics are polymers -- into fuel-oil and pure minerals.  This process could clean up the oceans and the surface of the Earth in ten years or less, making profits all the way, but there's some unseen economic war being waged against it here in the US.  I mean to do my part in the battle by advertizing the process so that as many people as possible know it, and I thought that a great way to do that would be to write a song about it.  

The problem, as I explained to my fellow LAFA filkers, is that "catalytic depolymerization" is hard to rhyme and harder to scan.  We tossed the idea around a bit, and came up with a possible tune -- "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", from the Mary Poppins movie --  provided you stretch one syllable for two beats.  I managed to work out a chorus of lines: 

"Search out  Catalytic De-polymerization. 

It can clean the garbage up, in this or any nation.  

It can make a million jobs and hammer back inflation, 

So look up Catalytic De-polymerization."

That works, sort of.  Now I've got to figure out the verses, and that will be a problem because descriptions of the process, and the politics surrounding it, are even harder to scan or rhyme.  So, that's as far as I've gotten it, and I'm asking for help finishing the song.  Does anybody out there want to volunteer?  All suggestions welcome.

While I'm at it, I've got a tune for my Usual Warning too, but I can't think of any further verses for it, so I suppose I can use some help here, too:  (The tune's my own.)

"I'm a toddler on the Information Highway,
And I do not know computer stuff at all.
Where other people zip around the Internet,
The best that I can manage is a crawl.
I know nothing of programming;
I don't even know the terms.
Can't do a thing with Viruses,
With Spyware or with Worms.
I'm a toddler on the Information Hi-i-ighway,
And I need a live-in Wizard really bad." 

(For proof of the above, note how I managed to get this song-fragment in single-spaced lines, but can't do a thing to single-space the previous song.)  Again, suggestions for further verses would be welcome.

And again, as I was slathering Calamine Lotion on Rasty's nose this afternoon, I came up with a relevant verse about that ancient and honorable remedy, to the tune of "Little Darling":

"Oh little darling, how much you've helped me -- 
Saved me from bug-bites scores of times --
But not so much with mold infections,
Little darling, Calamine."

Feel free to have fun with this one.  No, I don't have any problem with multiple-author creations;  it's also called the Folk Process, and has made many a fine song -- including more than a few in the Filkmusic informal archives.  Go to it, fellow-Fen!  

--Leslie <;)))><