Saturday, August 28, 2021

So, I've started reading Thomas Carlyle.

I found a 19th Century anthology a few years back, but hadn't gotten to it because Giant Pile of Other Books. Now, however, I feel compelled to try. Albeit beginning with a shorter paperback anthology, because Fear of Damaging 19th Century Book with Cracked Binding Even Further is a real thing.

So, yes, taking up a Scottish philosopher long eclipsed and in disrepute? You have your mid-life crisis, I have mine.

Anyway, first impression: very evocative, and cares little for what the reader might think. Fun turns of phrase, and a good grasp of historical figures and current affairs.

Also: frequently a verbose, alienating, florid crank yelling into the ether to no good effect who can't bear to edit himself even when he should.


We might get along fine.

The Crucible of Disaster.

One of the recurring features of American history is that we don't prep well as a society for the long term. Delivering now, reaping short term gains, "yes, sir--here you go, just like you asked"--that we can handle, no sweat.

But trying to tell which distant clouds are thunderheads and which are harmless gray stratus, and to prepare accordingly--we have historically sucked at that.

So, traditionally, we have reaped the whirlwind for our congenital inability to read the signs--sometimes quite obvious--paying in blood and ruined lives. Over and over again. Reading about the green American troops fed into the meatgrinder Western Front of the First World War is enough to call down all manner of justified curses on a generation of American leaders, starting (but hardly ending) with Woodrow Wilson.

And now, we add in our Ruling Class's determination to never, ever account for their own corruption and failures.

Thank God for men like Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller, determined to point out the corpulent nudity of our equestrian imperial class, military and civilian, even at the cost of his career.

Alas that he will never see high command, where he is so desperately needed.

And alas even more for us, when the next nation-threatening crisis is upon us. 


It is true that there is a lot of ruin in a nation. 

But there is only so much.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Whip[ped by] Inflation Now.

 

So my Much Better Half let me know we were running out of printer paper as I ran the youngest out to his weekly Young Marines meeting.

No worries: there's an Office Max a mile and a half away from his meeting locale.

So, I stride boldly up to the store, walk up to the printer paper display, goggle briefly and mentally retort:

USE A GUN NEXT TIME--IT'S MORE HONEST.

Actually, there was something of a sale going on: 2 reams of paper for $12.  One thousand sheets, a dozen dollars. A cent a page.

As with everything, the cost has gone up due to "supply chain issues."

In the back of the store, I found a slightly better deal via buying in bulk, grabbing a banker's box. The recent work with free weights seems to be paying off, so that's nice. And while it cost even more, who knows how much paper will cost after the schools gear up and they add their massive weight to demand.

And what next?

I mean, besides being unable to find a replacement for our t-boned Expedition because the used car market is officially insane and the insurance company won't authorize repair because it costs more than the KBB value of the vehicle.

Might as well get used to it.

Behold my 2021 anthem, an underrated classic from 1982.


 

 


 

 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

"U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate"

And they did so knowing full well evacuating them all by August 31 was not possible.

On the other hand, the abandoned future hostages and death squad victims can console themselves with the fact that the compassionate, experienced, and competent are back in charge of America.

Not for nothing did Dante put betrayers in the Ninth Circle of Hell.

 


"People chose not to leave. That's their business," says anthropomorphic sewage.

In a more civilized era, someone like Ross Wilson would be sent to do penance for the rest of his life.

In ours, he will still enjoy the cocktail circuit.

Because in America's death throes, no one important ever gets fired. 

Instead, we have a weekly Two Minutes Hate where we digitally scream at some nonentity bad actor who was recorded saying or doing something bad.

Aren't we great?

The harsh people who will have to pick up the pieces of this continental clusterf--k will no doubt be a nasty lot. But they cannot possibly be worse than the leadership cadres--public and private--which run the show now.


Prayers for Dr. Philip Blosser.

From his son Christopher Blosser, 23 hours ago:

Hello all -- Prayers would be greatly appreciated for my father (Philip Blosser), who is in the hospital with bilateral pneumonia/COVID.

The elder Blosser is a professor of philosophy at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, and a fine gentleman. We are supposed to meet in real life one of these days (his suggestion), and God grant that I will be able to take him up on that.

 

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

John Allen has lost a lot off his fastball.

 John Allen is someone whose writing benefited greatly from trying to understand good faith people he disagreed with. It made him a must-read from 2000 to 2013. You might not have agreed with him at the end, but wrestling with opposing views made his views more intelligible and thought-provoking.

As has been said on a monthly basis since March 2013: what a difference a conclave makes.

Now that he interacts with messaging far more congenial to his left-of-center-outlook, he no longer has to wrestle with discordant arguments, and his output has suffered accordingly.

For example, there's this Crux piece bemoaning the paucity of religious places listed in the New York Times Style section's 25 most significant post-WWII works of architecture.

It's...not good. Not at all.

Where to begin?

Well, how about with the article Allen touts as the basis of his warning light?

Who are these folks, and why is their judgment so devastating in the eyes of Allen?

No explanation. One is tempted to say that for Allen, that it appeared in the Times is all the imprimatur he needed. 

Sulzberger locuta est, causa finita est?

The solons who weighed in on The Most Important Architecture in the Past Four Generations are simply identified as "contributors" whom "we'd all do well to pay a bit more attention to."

As opposed to matters such as:

That striking fact [the Style supplement's listing of only two religious buildings] has passed largely without comment in the arena of Catholic media right now, consumed by whether the President of the United States should be denied communion, which senior church official will be the next to be outed for private use of a gay hookup app, and who’s stabbing whom in the back in the Vatican’s blockbuster trial over a $400 million property deal in London gone bad.

I'm reminded of the King of the Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail urging the traumatized citizenry: "Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who."

In the midst of the rot and filth sloshing around the ankles of the passengers of the so-called Barque of Peter, Allen boldly stands on a barrel near the forecastle and hollers:

"Get over fixations on the endemic moral, financial and doctrinal corruption of Catholicism from top to bottom and focus on what's really important--modernist architects don't like our new buildings!!!

And make no mistake, the Style Section's Magnificent Seven loves itself some architectural modernism:

Modernists, of course, played an important role in this discussion, and a few of them — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Lina Bo Bardi, Luis Barragán — were named again and again on our individual ballots. There were also three buildings — Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (1951; Plano, Ill.); Kahn’s Salk Institute (1965; La Jolla, Calif.); Bo Bardi’s SESC Pompéia (1986; São Paulo) — that received three preliminary votes each, practically mandating their inclusion as finalists.  

And hoo boy, is there a cavalcade of Bauhaus 'N' Brutalism at the Times piece.

Perhaps sensing the trivial nature of his complaint, Allen attempts to tie the allegedly-damning judgment of the Perdon No Te Conozco literati to a wider theme of defensive-crouch religion in 2021. 

It...doesn't work. 

Leaving aside that we aren't given any reason to regard the judgment of the Times piece as authoritative, much less damning, Allen manages to miss the fact that Catholicism's taste managers have taken runs at avant garde architecture. For example, $190 million was dropped on Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Not for nothing did the Reverend Mahony utter these timeless words in 1997:

Writing a check or coming up with cash is a vital liturgical deed in the root meaning of liturgy, a work done by people on behalf of the larger community.

Moving on.

Two generations before OLA saw Muskegon, Michigan's brutalist invitation to Christ, Our Lady of Room 101--------------er, Saint Francis de Sales Church. 

Heavily redolent of Le Corbusier's



 


Lest we forget, examples such as OLA and SFdS can be multiplied by numerous modern-thinking Catholic builds. And yet none of them--despite being within the general gestalt of modern architecture--came to the attention of the supposedly definitive judgment of the Style essay. Maybe because the label of the architect matters more than the product? Such is true in the rest of the fashion world. Why should fashion employing rebar be any different?

I like to think that the Iron-Sharpening-Iron Allen of a decade ago would have pondered different questions and not have worried about Catholics getting gold stars from their secular betters. He might have, at a minimum, wondered aloud if there was a disconnect between modern architectural fads and Catholic worship.

He definitely would not have castigated the faithful for their well-founded outrage and concerns about corruption. Least of all juxtaposing that criticism with a cringe-inducing plea for forward-thinking architecture.

In the end, the bauhausiest "worship space" in the world isn't going to make up for the bad witness of Catholic clerics and laity. A genuine shame the Allen of 2021 can't see that.

 

The Detroit City Council changes members, but never turns the corner.

One member recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and it was reported that he was cooperating with the feds.

And the fruits of said cooperation seem to be blossoming in public.

FBI agents were executing search warrants at the homes of Detroit City Council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson and at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Wednesday morning, the latest escalation of a federal corruption investigation that has already led to charges against Councilman André Spivey.

The exact focus of the investigation and what led investigators to mount the raids Wednesday were unclear. No criminal charges have been filed and search warrant documents remained sealed in court.

The raids Wednesday represent the largest federal investigation into City Hall corruption in the eight years since former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. President Donald Trump commuted the sentence in January.

The searches come three weeks after Spivey was arraigned in federal court on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery over claims he accepted more than $35,000 to be "influenced and rewarded" for votes.

The beat goes ever on.

Film Review.

I am morally certain it was Nate Winchester who referred me to a snippet from the film being reviewed today--for which, many thanks.



Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds is a recent (2017) Korean film, and the Blu-Ray only offers English subtitles, no dubs. So if that bothers you, alas.

For those who are more amenable, AWTG is an old-school crowd-pleaser that offers plenty of Matrix-like action, humor and jerking of tears.

The film is the story of a young South Korean fireman, Kim Ja-hong, who dies in the line of duty. He is then escorted through what is asserted to be the Buddhist afterlife, with his conduct and sins judged by the various gods of the Buddhist hells.

Now, what I know about Buddhism can fit into an authoritative-sounding paragraph, so I am in no position to assess whether the Buddhist Last Things are accurately depicted. However, given (1) East Asia's tendency to smorgasbord the big religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism) and (2) the proclivity of movie studios worldwide for cack-handling of matters religious, I suspect it should not be relied upon as a careful canonical depiction.

In any event, the story works well enough on its own terms.

After he dies, Kim Ja-hong is greeted by his three guardians, who are to escort him through the stations of judgment in the afterlife. He is believed by all three to be a paragon, whose moral rectitude warrants his immediate reincarnation. But he will have to pass the judgement of the Gods of the Hells first--and there are two giddy devil's advocates (to borrow from the Catholic tradition) who are all too enthusiastic about undercutting Ja-hong's alleged sanctity to send him to any of the very-Christian-like Hells.

[Mild spoiler-y warning.]

Along the way, it turns out that the efforts to undercut Ja-hong are thwarted by the determined efforts of his guardians, who manage to show what Paul Harvey fans recognize as The Rest of the Story

And the guardians are extremely well motivated, as they will be seriously punished if they try to pass off a fraud as a paragon.

And so it proceeds until Ja-hong faces the last test before the Hell of Filial Impiety.

Here is where things become complicated: Ja-hong's family life was unhappy. His father was absent, his mother is deaf and mute, and his surviving brother loathes him.

A shocking incident is shown, horrifying the Guardians, appalling the final judge, King Yeomra, and making the devil's advocates rejoice.

What happens throughout this portion of the film has to be seen to appreciate it.

So I will give you no spoilers.

From a technical aspect, the film is very solid. The main players--especially the guardians--are excellent. And one of the side characters is not only not exactly what the character appears to be, it is strongly suggested the character is God. Doing what the Almighty does, making sure the scales are just and intervening with nudges to ensure that justice is done. 

It is a worthwhile film, if not flawless. The moving to a side story involving Ja-hong's brother is somewhat clumsily-handled, disrupting the narrative flow. And it tries a little too hard and too often to offer humor where it could have been avoided. Then again, when the humor works, it works well. Finally, there's an interesting look and sin and forgiveness, with Yeomra making sure all and sundry know about the effect of the latter.

Overall, I was pleased to discover it and am happy to recommend it.



 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Well, no--of course not.

The president won't fire anyone for the Afghanistan disaster.

The first reason is that the ruling class does not get shitcanned or prosecuted for things that would have mere mortals spending years trying to rebuild their lives afterwards.

Not even the well-heeled can get away with (supposedly) lying to the Baals of Washington. See, e.g., Martha Stewart.

But the made men sure can--for a recent example, see John Brennan. 

And, winding back a few years earlier, note the refusal of Caesar to prosecute anyone for blowing up the economy in 2008.

Grotesque incompetence that has a body count is no bar to continued employment when you're an Oligarch.

The second reason you don't fire an oligarch is that he will spend years trying to undermine you afterwards. And he will have an audience of courtier media giddy to lap up leaks. No matter what a foaming incompetent and phony the record demonstrates he is.

Tactically, it makes sense in the short term. In the long term, it is another handful of termites flung at the load-bearing posts of legitimacy.



Thursday, August 19, 2021

Lying the whole time.

When you hear the pronouncements from officialdom that nobody could have foreseen the debacle in Afghanistan, remember that lying to the public about the situation became a reflex.

 Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”

As always, follow the money. As in, the most recent disbursement for the former Afghan government was not delivered to the government, contrary to expectations.

In a sign of the monetary difficulties any future Afghan government will face, the head of Afghanistan's Central Bank said the country's supply of physical U.S. dollars is "close to zero." Afghanistan has some $9 billion in reserves, Ajmal Ahmady tweeted, but most is held outside the country, with some $7 billion held in U.S. Federal Reserve bonds, assets and gold.

Ahmady said the country did not receive a planned cash shipment amid the Taliban offensive.

"The next shipment never arrived," he wrote. "Seems like our partners had good intelligence as to what was going to happen." 

So it seems. A smart move, stopping the wastage of funds. But it shows someone saw what was going on and acted accordingly, suggesting that the "UNFORESEEABLE!" mantra being repeated all over the place was far from universally shared.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Never Explain, Never Apologize.

That's the State of Hawaii's response to the homeless man it wrongfully arrested and pumped full of drugs four years ago. That, along with cover their tracks and hide from sunshine laws.

Read it all:

Joshua Spriestersbach fell asleep on a sidewalk outside the Safe Haven homeless shelter in Chinatown on May 11, 2017 while waiting for a free meal.

When he woke, a Honolulu police officer arrested him for the crimes of another man — Thomas Castleberry — who was wanted for a probation violation related to a series of drug charges in 2006.

The mix-up led to Spriestersbach spending more than two years inside a state-run mental institution where he was heavily medicated and repeatedly told he was someone he was not despite his repeated protestations.

In January 2020, when the mistake was discovered, he was given 50 cents and released back onto the street outside the shelter where he was arrested in the first place.

The whole ordeal happened almost entirely out of public view — that is, until the Hawaii Innocence Project last week filed a petition in state court to clear Spriestersbach’s name and make sure he’s never arrested again for the crimes of Thomas R. Castleberry, a man who’s been incarcerated in Alaska since at least 2016.

Spriestersbach’s story of mistaken identity has since garnered national attention, from the Associated Press to the New York Times, yet officials in Hawaii have mostly kept quiet about a key question still on many people’s minds — how could this happen?

“We’re doing this to exonerate our client, but also to expose the system and its failures,” said Kenneth Lawson, a co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project. “Mr. Spriestersbach was telling everyone who he was, that he wasn’t Thomas Castleberry, yet nobody was listening. And nobody was listening because nobody cared about a mentally ill man who was houseless.”

Lawson and the Innocence Project have questioned whether officials, from HPD to the public defender to the Hawaii attorney general to the judiciary itself, have tried to hide what happened to Spriestersbach in an attempt to escape public embarrassment and legal accountability.

His case, the petition states, represents a “miscarriage of justice” of the greatest proportions, one that could have been solved in just a few minutes by comparing Spriestersbach’s photo and fingerprints to those of Castleberry.

Instead of trying to address what went wrong, the petition states that those who were culpable “attempted to sweep their mistakes under the rug.”

For instance, the petition highlights court records that show the judge in the case held a closed-door meeting with the lawyers involved, including from the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office, shortly after Spriestersbach was released. Yet few details have come out about what was actually discussed.

The only note in the record says Judge Shirley Kawamura told those at the meeting to “inform their administrators of the situation.”

Kakistocracies everywhere. And it doesn't matter whose lives are ruined, so long as the made men are unhindered in going about their merry ways.


Platinum Members of Mitre Club get all the privileges.

Shot and chaser.

If only the Bopping Bishop had taken Eric Idle's advice from The Meaning of Life:

But don't take it out in public/

Or they will stick you in the dock/

And you won't come back

The Kakistocracy That Is Rome keeps slouching towards Bethlehem.

 

"[T[here is no plan to evacuate Americans who are outside Kabul..."

Citizens of a once-great nation, take note:

In media briefings, the State Department has declined to divulge its estimates of Americans in Afghanistan.

According to the aides, the administration officials — from the State and Defense departments, as well as the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff — also told the assembled Senate staffers that there is no plan to evacuate Americans who are outside Kabul, as they do not have a way of getting through the Taliban checkpoints outside the Afghan capital.

Officials did not specify how many Americans are outside Kabul, the aides said. The briefing, which was held Tuesday morning and attended by aides representing a wide swath of Senate offices, lasted half an hour.

Numberless hostages to a triumphant and gloating theocratic regime.

Since there's no copyright on historical events, there's nothing to stop Clio from gleefully ripping off the past. And so she has here.

" Sorry--it was just too tempting."

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

A Generational Failure Ends in Bloody Disgrace.

 Literal blood.

Which will flow for months.

God forgive us for the betrayal of those who trusted our nation.



The Official Phrase of 2021: "Supply Chain Issues."

The nine new windows for the family manor are delayed somewhat. Two weeks, they tell us. 

Here's hoping. The originals on a 73 year old house are really showing their age this year.

Trips to various stores appear to confirm similar issues.

Here's hoping those get worked out, too.

In related news, the Expedition got t-boned while heading up for a micro-vacation last weekend. Everybody's fine, which is the most important part.

The second most important part is that the vehicle is still driveable.

The third most important is that I didn't get the ticket for the collision. 

Now here's hoping the phrase of the year doesn't screw up the repair efforts. I have a bad feeling they just might total out the old girl and give us some (insufficient) cash to go car shopping again.




 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Waning protection over time makes the most sense.

 An interesting analysis of why Moderna is apparently outperforming Pfizer right now.

Moderna come out a little later, and--most intriguingly--had more time between the two shots. 

Which may explain the better immune reaction.  

The British one-shot-for-everyone-first strategy seems to be paying off big time.

If you're lucky, conspiracy theories will only kill your mind.

If you're not, this will happen.

Bastard. 

Men who murder children make me want to braid ropes.

And the people who feed the paranoia deserve the same fate.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Zero Rs.

It is often said that federalism is a laboratory that allows States to try their own solutions to assorted domestic problems. 

If that's the case, the Beaver State is brewing up a bold concoction: 

Students no longer have to demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing and math to get a diploma.

Why?

Equity is a jealous god:

The governor’s deputy communications director said that dropping the requirements “will benefit Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

The hard bigotry of no expectations has returned.


Monday, August 09, 2021

Megatron Gets His Due.

Calvin Johnson was inducted into Canton yesterday.

“Lions fans and city of Detroit, when we were 0-16 you never stopped showing up," Johnson said. "You were disappointed, but you never stopped showing up. Every week, you showed up. And this motivated me to do the same thing for you. You loved me and my family unconditionally over these 15 years. I want you to know Michigan is our home, Detroit is our city and Lions fans are our pride."

A warrior who played through injuries repeatedly, he earned this moment. 

He deserved a shot at a ring, but playing your career with the Lions rules that out. 

Anyway, good to see.


Been under the weather for a week plus.

Cold symptoms. 

Mild, but persistent.

No fever or nagging coughs, thankfully. Really, apart from frequent-ish nose-blowing, it's been a very light malady.

I received the Pfizer shots back in April, so I am among the Fully Vaccinated.

In any year not ending in -20 or -21 I would wave it away as a very mild summer cold. And it still probably is? And yet, one of my middle son's Little League teammates came down with a mild case of corona two weeks ago.

In any event, I seem to be coming out from under it today, so good. 


Worthwhile book review of tome from somewhat noteworthy pundit.

A thorough critique of a book by one of the more visible of America's soi disant experts and adjunct intellectuals, Tom Nichols. A lec...