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 TeasersFred Reed Blogview

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Will Implement Thoughtful and Reasonable Measures
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I have no choice. I must don the mantle of greatness and take the reins of the country. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I will run for the office of dictator, or President in American parlance.

Readers may ask, “But Fred, what makes you think you are qualified to be President?” To which I respond, “Nothing. But have you seen what we have now? You want a White House with John Bolton in it?”

You see.

I append here a few of the enlightened policies which I will effect. Hold your applause until the end. Interspersed for perusal are a few slogans that I may use to incite your fervor.

One: I will end all policies hostile to Cuba. I will not make life difficult for eleven million perfectly good people to please a ratpack of phony Cubans afflicting Miami. In fact, I will offer Havana a twenty-billion-dollar loan if they will take the bastards back. Cuba poses no danger to anyone. They have good cigars. They should be left alone to live as they please and drink mojitos. If nutcake Republicans protest my policy, I will have them stuffed into an abandoned oil well. Along with the pseudo-Cubans.

Two: Elizabeth Warren will be required to take a DNA test to see whether she is a wild Indian. If she is, she will have to wear feathers. Otherwise, to see a psychiatrist.

We have nothing to be afred of but Fred hisself! Has a classic ring, don’t you think?

Three: I will end the Afghan war in an afternoon, relying on use the exit strategy proposed by James P. Coyne, the Sun Tsu of our age:

“OK, on the plane. Now.”

If Lindsey Graham complains that we need to kill more puzzled goatherds, I will have him inserted into the oil well on top of the Republicans and pseudo-Cubans, with Oprah tamped down on top as a sort of cork. There is nothing in Afghanistan that Americans need or want, except opium products, and private enterprise now provides these in abundance. Check the nearest street corner, or ask your kids.

Four: I will make membership in AIPAC a felony, and remind its members that I could have Oprah temporarily removed from the oil well to make more room. Aipackers can act as they please in their own country–I will not meddle in foreign affairs–but leave ours alone.

Fred! Ahhhhhh…. This has a nicely orgasmic quality that will appeal to the younger demographic. It represents the satisfaction that my rule will bring to the entire country.

Five: I will end all sanctions against Iran. Then I will sell those Persian rascals airplanes and cars and electronic stuff and towel softener and lock them into the American economic system. This will make Boeing and AT&T and Intel love me with the deep sweet love that never dies, at least as long as the money flows, and there will be lots of jobs in Seattle.

Six: I will bring charges of treason against the contents of the Great Double Wide on Pennsylvania Avenue. The evidence is incontrovertible. The first rule of empire is Don’t Let Your Enemies Unite. Everybody who has an empire knows this. Except us. Inside the White House a bunch of apparently brain-damaged political mostly left-overs, suffering from Beltway Bubble Syndrome, push China, Russia, and Iran together like some kind of international spaghetti-grope LGTBQRSTUV threesome. Who are our dismal leaders really working for? China?

A Fred in Every Pot This makes no sense, you may say. No, but we are doing politics. It is almost iambic pentameter, like Shakespeare. It will lend class to my campaign.

Seven: I will keep the F-35 program. It provides a lot of jobs. However, I will but get rid of the airplane. Isn’t this brilliant? Instead of building the thing, workers will dig holes and fill them in, but keep their current salaries. It will improve their health, and make America safer. The fewer dangerous things the children in the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel have, the less trouble it can cause.

Better Fred than Dead! Some readers will dispute this. What do they know?

Eight: I have been urged to end affirmative action on the grounds that things should be done by people who can actually do them. This is racist. I will have nothing to do with it. Instead I will make affirmative action democratic and inclusive. Everyone will qualify for it. Special privilege should not be restricted to a minority. It isn’t the American way.

Fred! Good as Any, Better’n Some. Good thinking.

Nine: I will abolish NATO. America should find a cheaper way to control the vassals. There is of course the bedtime story that NATO exists to confront the Russkies, and only incidentally provides a compulsory market for American armament. Nuts. Russia cannot seem dangerous to anyone who wasn’t dropped on his head at some formative juncture in life. Smallish population, low military budget.

Likewise South Korea, which has twice the population and forty times the economy of the North. If it wants to defend itself, it has my blessing. If it doesn’t, it isn’t our problem.

Tippecanoe and Frederick Too! This may require exhumation, but for this we have backhoes.

Ten: I will make a modest reduction in the military budget, say seventy-five percent. To keep the soldiers happy I will invest in high-throughput roller coasters, a shooting range with BB guns, and really loud speaker systems that say Va roooom and Bangbangbang and fzzzzzzzzboom. These will provide psychic emoluments of martial life without the murder.

Eleven: The money thus saved I will use on pressing domestic problems. LA has 68,000 homeless people on the streets, San Francisco loses conventions because of so many homeless defecating on the sidewalks, Portland has homeless riots,. The lower primates in Antifa and BLM rend such social fabric as any longer exists. Dams are aging. Our trains are out of of the Fifties. And we spend a trillion a year on goddam aircraft carriers?

Fred? Well, Got a Better Idea?

Twelve: As an educational reform, I will have the Department of Education filled with linoleum cement, the occupants being left inside. This will raise the national IQ by at least three points. I will pass an amendment to the fragments of the Constitution saying, “No federal entity or person shall say, think, suggest, or do anything whatever regarding schooling on pain of garroting.” Part of the savings from lowering the military budget will go to purchasing garrotes. The duration, content, and nature of the schools shall be left to localities without exception.

Thirteen: The father of any girl subjected to genital mutilation will be awarded a free gender reassignment operation, preferably with tin-snips. Genital mutilation should be inclusive. The father will then be placed for two weeks in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda. If this doesn’t suffice to deter the practice, I may be forced to adopt extreme measures. A country that allows such treatment of daughters deserves to go to hell. And seems to be.

Fourteen: I will impose a literacy test for voting. People too dim to find their way home should not be permitted to influence policies they have never heard of and can’t spell. Yes, this might be called illiberal. If so, it will doubtless be the only example of illiberalism in this meritorious list.

Fifteen: In higher education, I will prescribe horse whipping for anyone saying microaggression, white privilege, whiteness, patriarchy, safe space, people of color, racism, any kind of phobia, or “Resist” in a squalling voice with an exclamation point. No curriculum containing the word “Studies” will be permitted.

Sixteen: Anyone prescribing Ritalin for children under twenty-one will be thrown from a helicopter.

In conclusion, I say to my yearning public, There, you, see, there is hope. Together we can do this. See you at the polls.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Presidents 
Recollectons of the Social Cryogenian
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The big roads were safe then, or we thought they were. Many of us, the more adventurous, poured onto the highways, just going, moving, looking. We were devotees of the long-haul thumb, crossing and recrossing the continent, dropping into Mexico, whatever.

A camaraderie held. There were rules. On an onramp it was first come first served, no butting in line and anybody with his thumb out was taken as a friend, or at least friendly. “Hey, man, got any shit?” was a common question. This meant grass, pot, ganja, herb, and good manners was to share.

A theme of the age was that “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.” This makes more sense than might seem today.

It was wild to be alone in the sun and clarity of the southwestern deserts, trucks howling by, a blast of wind and shining of tires, and it was just you and the whole desert stretching in sand and cactus to the horizon. You might end up sleeping in an arroyo and if there was a gas station in sight there might be a bottle of Triple Jack.

The song that caught the era was Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf, and at my local biker bar in Mexico it still produces an electric shiver and a sadness for things gone. Someone once said, “The symphony ain’t been wrote that matches the lope of a Harley, potatopotatopotato.” Could be.

There were black holes that you could hitch into but not out of, where despite traffic or the lack of it you could spend days without getting a ride. One was in Canada–I swear it was called Wa Wa or something like that–that had a buddy of mine and I contemplating homesteading. On an obscure onramp in California someone had carved into the post of a stop sign, “Day 13. We killed John yesterday and ate him.”

Once in Berkeley, on Telegraph Road, Hill, Avenue, or whatever it is, a friend, a depressive Irishman, was in a phone booth calling back East. The connection was bad. “Plattsburgh. No, Platts–no, P as in psilocybin….” She understood him. Such were the times.

One afternoon after crossing the continent from DC my ride dropped me on on the Riverside exit in California. I was looking for my friend Jimmy Auld, who later killed himself by swimming out into the Rappahannock River at two a.m. in mid-January. But that’s another story. The day was sunny and I felt good after a long haul and in the distance I heard Carmina Burana.

That would be Jimmy. He was a music freak and had a Fisher tube-amp that he managed to carry with him everywhere.

So I reached the house on the main vein through town and there in the living room was Jimmy sitting on one of maybe five pink porcelain toilets, connected to nothing. Just there, in a sort of ring. I asked him why toilets.

“I stole them,” he said, clearly thinking this a reasonable explanation. It seemed he had worked in a hardware store.

“Oh,” I said. “But why toilets?”

“They watched everything else.”

It made as much sense as anything else in those years. It was an age of hunting and gathering.

One thing we all noticed on the road: The less a car cost, the more likely it was to pick you up. Caddies? Forget it. Thing was, people in old cars had probably been down on their luck. They knew what it was. So they pulled over. A crumbling ten-year-old pickup covered in Bondo and pop-rivets would usually stop.

Another thing we noticed was that in the South people were friendlier and more charitable. As you went from DC south, there was a sort of social thermocline at Fredericksburg, a sharp increase in warmth and courtesy. . You could feel that you somehow belonged in Fredericksburg. In the north, you were always just passing through, and usually under suspicion.

I once got dropped off in Boone, North Carolina, almost dead broke. Mountains loomed green and gorgeous and the towns thereabouts had the feel on having been there since at least the Civil War. I went into a local eatery, Dixie Lee’s of something with Dixie in its name I think, to spend my last buck on a coke. The owner could sort of see what was going on and she gave me a burger on the house and offered to let me wash dishes until I found something better. A construction worker, hearing this, put me up on his floor if I needed it. I did.

A lot of kids, late teens, early twenties, were in Brownian motions then, drifting from coast to coast, city to city. Since we seldom had anywhere to stay while in transit, we learned to forage for accomodation. One insight was that if you go ten feet off the sidewalks even in a crowded city, and lie down in tall grass, you no longer exist. In Waverly, New Jersey, hoping for a train south, I spend several nights in a clump of bushes not a yard from a sidewalk and maybe fifty feet from a Puerto Rican bar. Nobody Noticed.

One summer night in one year or another a friend and I–it was Jimmy Auld–had climbed into the Pot Yards–the Potomac Yards in Virginia just outside of DC–planning to hop a freight to New York. I say climbed: The yards were protected by one of those nine-feet-high chain-link fences with the Y-l’shaped out-leading barbed wire.

Why these are thought to provide security, I don’t know. A wiry stripling jumps as high as he can and grables the fence. The gaps provide a toe-hold. He then tests the outleaning Y-piece to be sure it will hold his weight, very carefully throws a leg over, and the other, leaving him inside the Y, and reverses the process down the other side. This might take thirty seconds.

The only sounds were the diesel yowl and the shuddering clangsbangbang of couples hitting each other.

Anyway, we hid under some bushies at the edge of the yards and watched the yard mules making a train to head North, where we wanted to go. The yard crews didn’t really care if you hopped trains, but it was better not to make them decide.

We heard but couldn’t see someone approaching. It was an old black guy–both “old” and “black” were obvious from his voice–with a couple of gallon jugs of water. We said hey, what’s up, nice night. Once it is clear that no one is threatening anyone, people in such circumstance feel pretty much at home with each other, or close enough.

It turned out that he had nowhere to live and was staying in a shelter of some sort that he had put together out of sight and had to go for drinking water. A hell of a way to end your life. Then as now America was killing large numbers of people in foreign countries and then, as now, I wondered why they couldn’t give this old fellow a few C-rations. He gave us some hints as to which trains stopped where. We said goodbye and he walked slowly away with his water. I don’t think his joints worked too welol. The diesels were still howling as mournfully as ever.

There was then in Austin a sort of outdoor beenhall called the Armadillo World Headquarters where various bands played, such as the Greezy Wheels. Austin was where corn-fed blond guys and gals met Haight Ashbury and engaged in joyous syncretism. The presence of the University of Texas did nothing to inhibit this. The result was a rich country-music scene fueled by forbidden substances. At places with names like the Soap Creek Saloon, with girls danced on the tables for the sheer fun of it while a beer-drinking contest raged about them A deeply conservative Texas was properly horrified.

At the Dillo, as it was called, as in Alice’s Restaurant, you could get anything you wanted. The freaks would holler, “Waiter, LSD,” and it would come in mugs.

Lone Star Draft

Today the roads are empty. I’m glad they weren’t when they weren’t.

 

Introducing The Fredian Occasional Latin Tour Guide!

 
• Category: History 
Not Up There with Marco Polo, But the Best We Can Do
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Today, nothing shocking. You won’t need your fibrillator. Some not-too-coherent thoughts from south of the border:

In Guadalajara near the US Consulate there is the Estación de Lulio, an open walled restaurant, cafe and wine bar sort of place with unencrypted Wifi. Early on I could never remember the name and so began calling it the Libélua, or Dragonfly, and so it has remained for us. It is a hangout for students and people who want to do things with laptops or sit for a few hours over coffee or a glass of Merlot and read without being pressured to buy, buy, buy. An advantage is its being about a block from one of the city’s better bookstores, the Librería José Luis Martínez.

When Vi takes the CRV to Honda for its prescribed meals of grease and oil, she typically wanders around the the José Luis a bit, buys something to read, and ensconces herself for a few hours in the Libélula. I stay home and write lies and distortion.

She has a nerdy streak, last time acquiring Descartes’ Discurso del Método, something by Cicero and something else on Zen.

I think that reading philosophy is a sign of mental disorder. It seems to consist of very powerful minds spinning their wheels since they don’t really have anywhere to start. (“I think, therefore I am.” Oh. Rocks don’t think, therefore they aren’t. Or rocks are, therefore they think. I’d rather have a beer and watch old videos of Annette Funicello in a swim suit.)

Anyhow she is a scorched-earth reader, going through everything she can find by an author, Aristotle, the Pre-Socratics, the Apocrypha-all of the Apocrypha. My head hurts at the idea. After my recent eye surgery we have been hanging out in the Libélula after check-ups. We could do worse. Like much of Mexico, the neighborhood has a pleasant European feel. This discovery should not cause heart attacks since Spain after all is in Europe.

I am not sure why anyone would want to look at the outside of a book store. It is a massive place of two storeys, and contains everything ever written. I swear it. Everything. Though almost nothing in English. I throw it in because visiting Americans, the conservative ones anyway, are astonished and perhaps disappointed by unfulfilled expectations. They expect a decent illiteracy, as is proper in Latin countries.
I am not sure why anyone would want to look at the outside of a book store. It is a massive place of two storeys, and contains everything ever written. I swear it. Everything. Though almost nothing in English. I throw it in because visiting Americans, the conservative ones anyway, are astonished and perhaps disappointed by unfulfilled expectations. They expect a decent illiteracy, as is proper in Latin countries.
The Ion Horse, a few miles from us. It is the world’s first physics biker bar. Customers drink free. Only the particles are charged. Slightly out of focus, a common cndition on leaving the Horse.
The Ion Horse, a few miles from us. It is the world’s first physics biker bar. Customers drink free. Only the particles are charged. Slightly out of focus, a common cndition on leaving the Horse.

 

People sometimes ask me why I live here. Various reasons. One is that Mexico is stubbornly itself. It is not conformist, not homogenized, not designed at corporate and imposed on the whole country by remote accountants in Jersey or somewhere. Entering a pueblo you do not encounter a mall with JC Penney’s and Cracker Barrel and Ruby Tuesday’s and Taco Bell, the horrors that make America into one extended prolific center. Downtown in Guad there are McDonald’s, Burger Kings, maybe Dunkin Donuts, all the stations on the road to coronary occlusion. In towns the bars and eateries are one-off and entirely local, each with its own flavor. I like that. It keeps all places from being the same place.

The towns all have their plaza, usually with a church, but these are all different, idiosyncratic, though usually with a central kiosko–used a a bandstand during celebrations.

One afternoon Vi and I set forth with no destination in mind, just driving. The day was sunny but not hot, we had nothing pressing to do, so we drove along the lake to its western end, turned south, and set forth along country roads. Encountering signs to Concepión de Buenos Aires, or Concha la Pedora as its people call it among themselves, we followed them. The land thereabouts is open, with sparse vegetation in understated greens and browns that for some reason I like. It is not excessively manicured.

Concha is low and level, buildings of an older style, with the common layout There is in these towns a sense of time, of calm and permanence. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1517. You can feel it. Yet the kids peck at telephones, soccer plays on big screens, and the young listen to international bands on wifi. An odd mix.

We parked and walked. Few people were out, most being at work, chiefly in agriculture. The quiet contrasted with the bustle and traffic of Guadalajara. Concepción is untouched by expats. I may have been the only American to visit in a month, or many months.

Plaza, or part of it, at San Antonio Tlayacapan, near us.
Plaza, or part of it, at San Antonio Tlayacapan, near us.

From the arcade on one side of the plaza came music, José José, who might be called the Mexican Sinatra. On the other hand, Sinatra might be called the American José José. It was the only sound. We wandered over and found a small restaurant selling tacos and hamburgers. We sat.

The music came from the rocola, a jukebox, in one corner. The only customer sat at a table in front of it, a fellow of perhaps thirty, with his back to the world and a beer in front of him. He paid us no attention. The proprietor, as I took her to be, a brown woman in her mid-forties who looked tired, came to take our order, in my case a burger and a Corona, and chatted a bit. Where were we from? Ajijic, we said, on the lake. She knew it well and asked whether we liked it. Yes, I said, not mentioning that it now has the traffic of an LA freeway at rush hour and that the huge expat population has turned it into Mexico by Disney.

Half a dozen songs, and then again, the man with the beer rising each time to put more coins in the jukebox. We liked his taste. Finally we were about to pay and leave when the tired woman brought us another round of beers, courtesy of the feeder of the juke. We thanked him, spoke briefly of this and that, whereupon he went back to his beer. When strangers buy you a drink there is always danger that they want more company than one wants to supply, but not in this case. We finished the beers and rose. He came to shake hands with us and said Que les vaya bien, which is courteous, and we left.

America is obsessed by race. Mexico is not. If you look like a derelict you will not be permitted in elegant restaurants, but it is economic distaste. Being of one race, or close, Mexicans do not hate each other as we do, or spend all their time honking about racism. There is–not a color line, but a color blur with the lighter-skinned being at the top in prestige, but compared to the US it barely exists. It declines as more kids of darker complexion go to university and come out as doctors and engineers.

While the country is not a nomoculture, it is held together by a common Christianiy, practically interpreted (never mind the parts about adultery and fornication) so you don’t have to watch your neighborhoods when walking.

Americans come to Mexico sometimes thinking to see short, squatty Indians wearing funny clothes. There are still some of these, but usually they are old, and their kids, much taller, peck at cell phones.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Mexico 
by Fred Gibbon
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I am not sure why people write columns. Partly from boredom, I suppose, or lack of anything better to do. Partly from exasperation. Yet partly from the hope that if enough people collectively become aware of problems, they might, just maybe, do something about them. I can’t believe this any longer. Today’s crimes, lunacies, and decays are too many, profitable, and intractable. We are racing out of control toward some as yet dimly limned catastrophe. Hang on and take the ride.

To begin with, America is no longer a country. It is a set of special interests occupying the same place: Corporations, races, ethnicities, faiths, ideologies, foreign agents pretending to be Americans, all at each other’s throats. No cure is possible.

Racial relations are a disaster. Blacks, fourteen percent of the country, are congenitally furious at whites. They neither assimilate nor want to. Whether they should doesn’t matter since it will not happen.

They give their children strange names to differentiate them from whites, maintain a separate language sometimes called Ebonics–blacks in other countries learn to speak normally–and concentrate in huge all-black Sowetos: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Newark, Trenton, Camden, Atlanta, Milwaukee, East St. Louis, New Orleans. And many others. Horrific crime and horrific schools produce each year a large cohort who, barely literate, will for fifty years be unable to fit into the economy or into white (or Hispanic) society. This will not change. If it were going to, it would have.

Hispanics, seventeen percent of the population, have a much higher likelihood of assimilating, and are doing so, but it will not happen overnight and will never be complete. They face intense hostility from much of the white population. Add Somalis, North Africans, Jews, Asians, and various Muslims and you have more than a third of the country. Their interests are their own interests. This cannot be changed.

Americans no longer have a shared identity, a common culture to hold them together. In 1950 America was overwhelmingly white, European, and Christian. How deeply one believed was not the point. Christianity was a matrix binding all, as Catholicism is in Latin America. Today Christianity is like marijuana–tolerated, barely legal, but better not to get caught. Whites are reviled by those of lesser capacity and, weirdly, by themselves. What do we now have in common? Almost nothing. This will not change before some strange looming denouement befalls us.

Government has changed irrevocably, and changes yet. It no longer consists of executive, judicial, and legislative branches. In practice the branches are now the Presidency, Wall Street, the corporations, AIPAC, and the media, with overlap and interlocking directors. Elections are play toys to occupy the public. The levers of governance are no longer accessible to the populace. Governments gain power. They do not give it up. This will not change.

“American” corporations no longer are. When Charlie Wilson said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA,” it was. Today’s corporations are free-floating entities spread over the globe, putting down tentacles in countries of convenience and loyal only to their profits. They are too powerful to be reined in. The prime examples are offshoring and encouraged immigration from Latin America, but many others exist. This cannot be remedied: the corporations needing change own those who might change them.

Wild thought: Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are owned by the government. Ours is a system in which the means of production own the government. Congressmen are commodities and Washington a Coke machine: insert your coins, choose your law, and pull the lever. Voila.

Demographics have consequences. Only whites and East Asians, mostly men, display talent for engineering, mathematics, scientific research, or organization on a large scale. Affirmative action does not put landers on Mars nor program computers. By now it must be obvious that racial gaps in achievement are intractable. Argument over causes changes nothing. The country depends increasingly on a declining number of white brains. The attacks on both whites and brains will continue.

The country crumbles politically. The Constitution has been interpreted into near impotence, a trend that continues. Congress has abdicated most of its important powers and become a passive bribery receptacle. Trump is close to being our first real dictator. At best you could say that America is an oligarchy with Hulk Trump fronting for the corporations in general, the military industry in particular, and the Israelis. At will he imposes sanctions, threatens war, turns much of the world into enemies, sends troops to Africa–Africa?–breaks treaties, discards environmental protections. None dare tell him no, in America or, as yet, abroad. America cannot be brought back.

Democracy, to the extent that it ever existed, doesn’t. Americans have no influence over what their children are taught, where Christmas carols can be sung, over war and peace, whether they can legally choose their neighbors, who they must hire. All of these things are dictated from far away. This cannot be changed. If you disagree, tell me how.

Social control intensifies. Saying the wrong things about blacks, Jews, feminists or homosexuals has in many places become a firing offense–very Soviet, this. The mainstream media, utterly dishonest, are committed mouthpieces for those who rule. This will not change. Who could change it?

The social media, also organs of government, censor us. The CEOs of Google and Facebook, unelected, both of them Jewish, control what almost the entire world is permitted to see. Is this not astonishing? Twitter is now in the same category, and all are censoring both covertly and actively. The silenced may win an occasional lawsuit, but the censoring will not stop., It will grow.

The times approach the oozing last years of Rome. We have mixed martial arts, football, boxing, and now legal bare-knuckle. The country throws national tantrums over who can use what bathrooms. Drug use is high from middle school up. A child who can use a keyboard can watch any conceivable sort of pornography. Twenty percent of America thinks the sun moves around the earth. In rotting societies sexual curiosities come forth. Northwestern University, I think it was, offers a course in sadomasochism. paralleling the dominance of a known torturess heading the CIA.

Schooling has declined badly. Genuine education is now regarded as an elitist imposition by dead white men. The young do not recognize the extent of the deterioration as they have known nothing else. Over twenty years ago I went into a middle school in Arlington, Virginia, an upscale white suburb of Washington, and saw a student’s project honoring Italian contributions to science. Below a photo of Fermi it spoke of his work in “Nucler Phisicts.” In letters six inches high. Uncorrected. The academic content, if so it can be called, of instruction is heavy, heavy, heavy, on social-justice propaganda. This cannot be changed.

Would you dare say anything racially incorrect to your daughter who might tell her teacher? We are approaching what might be called the Soviet Union by Disney.

Universities for the most part are no better. We suffer from an odd sort of civilizational autoimmune disease, eating ourselves. Shakespeare is racist, Mozart elitist, grammar a means of oppression. Two and a half millennia of Western civilization, forgotten by a sea of gilded peasants with no retirement plans. Monkeys chattering over the ruins of a forgotten society. Once the chain of culture is broken, it cannot easily be restored. Anyway, a literate population might cause trouble. We will not have one.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Blacks, Censorship, Political Correctness 
Applicants Must Supply Own Pliers
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By now I suppose that everybody and his dog knows (well, actually, I haven’t asked my dog) that the New York Times has hired, and defended, one Sarah Jeong, an avowedly racist, sexist, mouthy, and apparently kinky twitess as tech writer. “Kinky” is the polite term for people who enjoy cruelty. Which, she says, she does. Anyhow, among her eructations:

“Dumbass f****** white people marking up the internet like dogs pissing on fire hydrants.”

And:

“Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

Wow! What are her rates, I wonder? Does guttersnipe language cost more? She is right, though, it is at least kind of sick. And astonishing that the Times would be so candid about its politics by hiring her. Even David Duke has never said that he wanted to hurt blacks. Sez me, the foul-mouthed little monster doesn’t need a job. She needs a psychiatrist or an internship with Gina Haspel. Or a spanking.

Ever genteel, Sarah also opined, “White men are bullshit.” The latter is boilerplate Left, the normal yowling of the sexually disturbed and racially hostile. Sarah is not exactly an argument for diversity and makes white nationalism look reasonable.

If in my newspapering days I had written, “Gook women are bullshit”–unlikely since, when I lived in various Asian countries, I really liked the women, as white men usually do–I would have been fired. The Times is perfectly happy with her though. Different rules for different people.

But suppose that she had said, “black men are bullshit,” or that she “enjoyed hurting old Jewish men” (presumably not a career-enhancing move at a Jewish paper). She would have been hove out the door on her delicate round sit-down, thump, the door perhaps not having been opened beforehand Which would make sense. When you live in a country where everyone hates everybody else like poison, arguably a newspaper should not publish name-callinglikely to inflame the hatreds for no reason. Or, worse, take sides with some groups against others. Which the Times did: Enjoying the suffering of whites is fine.

So why did the Times, the national school marm, bloated with goodness, give her a pass? Me, I figure it’s because she is a protected twofer, a feminist, and “of color.” (Every time I see that phrase, I want to load my Strunk and White with hollow point and let fly, but never mind.) I guess that if she were found to be grinding white orphans into dog food, the Times would say something about her legacy of colonialism and how getting a job at the Times showed discrimination against women and that she was oppressed and making a political statement and anyway it was only a few orphans. Well, unless they were orphans of color. That would be genocide.

I believe I might say to her as follows regarding old white men:, which I happen to be one of:

Now see here, Sweet Potato. I’ve got nothing against bile and bitchiness and bad manners and ill-breeding, though I suspect they could be cured by application of a baseball bat. Maybe you should see somebody about this. Sort of, you know, therapy. I understand that we can’t all be ladies (though I get the impression that a lot of men in New York are), and feminists traditionally have the the appeal of the underside of a theater seat. This is usual and as the Good Lord intended. I cannot complain. What bothers me, Sweet Pea, is your lack of gratitude.

Look around you, Thistle Down. Take your time. Get some binoculars and look out the window. Unscrew the lid on your computer, if you can find a screwdriver with the instructions on the handle. Contemplate at leisure. Reflect. And tell me:

Do you see anything invented by a Korean feminist?

Now, Buckwheat, I don’t want to seem other than gallant and gracious. That’s just how I am. Urbane and mannered. No one can doubt it. So I would never suggest–even think of suggesting–that old white men have provided everything that keeps you fed and comfortable while you piss and moan.

I would never say that. My mother taught me to be considerate to women, or approximations. But in a minor vein–a capillary, so to speak–I will note that if it weren’t for us old white men, vile though we be, and patriarchal, and probably cannibals, you and the sisterhood would be in grass huts, picking lice out of each other’s hair.

You are welcome.

Further, Moonflower, if I were a curmudgeon–which I assuredly am not–I might say rude, uncouth things such as that you seem to be a confection of mass-market drivel, elegant as a truss ad, and could be replaced by a DO-loop .This is true, but I won’t say it. It wouldn’t be gentlemanly.

But just out of curiosity: Have you ever flushed a toilet in plumbing that was not designed, built, and maintained by men? Been in a building that wasn’t built by men? Yes, yes, we guys are a sorry lot, and dim, and sinners all, but when your car makes a funny sort of, you know, chinalank and then a grinding noise, and the light on the thingamajig starts flashing, who do you take it too? Gloria Steinem?

Just asking.

What I think, Maple Syrup, is live and let live. There’s a place in this big world for everybody. This may be a design flaw, but it is what we have. Since consistency is a virtue, the New York Times would seem about right for you. Soul mates, sort of. Still, since you are a tech writer, I wonder what, without the inventions of men, mostly white, you would have to write about? Buffalo hides? Pointed sticks?

But here we come to deep philosophical waters, specifically relations between the sexes. The truth is that most men like women. You may find this offensive, but I assure you that it is true. I hope you will not hold this affection against us. Our mothers were women. Also our sisters, wives, grandmothers, daughters and girlfriends. We even have female friends. We think women are peaches, often being smart and funny and feminine–I’m sure the Times has an online dictionary–and really good at neat stuff like biochemiswtry. There are no substitutes. Most women are slightly crazy, yes, but then they don’t get into bar fights.

So, Marmalade, when we run tinto what seems to be a woman but with the personality of a menopausing rattlesnake, we are taken aback. It jangles our neves because it isn’t what we are used to, or weren’t until recently, and we don’t know what to do. Remedial drowning comes to mind. Often, though, we are not near a body of water. (Why am I thinking of the East River?)

Tell you what, Sugar Beet, I just don’t know what to think. I live in Mexico, which is sexually dimorphic, so you can understand my confusion in the US. Here women manage to do things without becoming venomous. Up North, I guess, this would be a whole new idea. Mexicanas go into law, medicine, dentistry in volume–it is hard to find a male dentist, here assuming one had a reason for looking–and nobody seems to give a damn.

These women are civil, (try the dictionary again), good at what they do, and of exceedingly muted crocodilian impulses. (My theory is that Mexicans have never interbred with reptiles and so do not act like them. No year of the Dragon and all that.) When a Mexican woman becomes a doctor, she thinks she is a Mexican doctor. She is not full of snot and bile and racial animosity and misandry and kinky urges. You, Sweet Pea, are. That the New York Times fronts for you says something about how far gone the US is.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Political Correctness 
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Recently I wrote a column about the theory of Intelligent Design, which holds that that life, both in its origins and its changes over time, are the result of design instead of chance. Several hundred comments and emails arrived, more than I could read. This was not surprising as there seems to be considerable public interest in the question, while a virulent political correctness prevents discussion in most forums. In particular the major media prevent mention of Intelligent Design except in derogatory terms.

Interesting to me at any rate was that the tone of response was much more civil and thoughtful than it was say, a decade ago.

A fair few respondents quoted the Bible. I wondered why the Bible and not the Koran or Bhagavad Gita. The Bible seems to me the chaotic literature of a barbaric tribe and characterized by morally unpleasant stories. Why it is thought to have any relevance to abiogenesis is not clear to me.

Some readers, quoting Carl Sagan, said approximately, “Fred, an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence to support it.” I don’t disagree. The claim that ocean water will in time produce Manhattan seems to me sufficiently extraordinary to require extraordinary evidence. So far, there is none. Evolutionists have not shown that sea water can produce any life at all, much less the New York Philharmonic.

Other readers insist that Intelligent Design is not scientific. If not, so what? The question should be not whether it is scientific but whether it is true. What an ideological group calling themselves scientists believe is not a valid test of truth. When I was in the eighth grade, I watched Crusader Rabbit on television. This is not science, yet it is true.

If science deals with the reproducible, then paleontology is not science, as neither is the chance creation of life, which has not proved reproducible. If science must make predictions, then physiology is not science, being entirely descriptive. If science is the study of the quantifiable, then evolution isn’t. What is the unit of selective pressure?

Much of evolutionary theory assumes what is to be proved. Many readers did just this.

Consider the spontaneous generation of life from seawater. Do we know of what the primeval seas consisted? Know, as distinct from think, suspect, theorize, wish, or desperately hope.

No, we do not. Remember that chemical reactions, assuredly including organic and biochemical, depend crucially of such things as a pH, temperature, concentrations, radiation, half-lives of intermediate, and presence or absence of other compounds that may or may not inhibit desired reactions.

If we do not know what seas existed, do we at least know what sorts of sea would be necessary for the spontaneous appearance? Again, know. We do not. The question is made more difficult since we do not know just what it is that we think evolved. The event has not been reproduced in the laboratory or even convincingly demonstrated on paper.

You see: Life evolved because the necessary conditions existed. We know the necessary conditons existed, because life evolved. Uh….

Readers asked, “If life was designed, who designed the Designer?”

Consider the following three questions: “Who designed the Designer?” From a five-year-old, “But Mommy, where did God come from?” From a freshman in a dorm room, “What came before the Big Bang?”

These questions are equivalent. Designer, God, or Bang, the human mind cannot handle questions of ultimate origins. No matter to what we attribute life or the universe, the question of what came before will remain unanswered. This is as true of evolutionism as it is of Intelligent Design. The solution sometimes offered, that the universe is eternal and has neither beginning nor end, can equally be applied to Designer, Yahweh, or Shiva.

A problem afflicting evolutionism all through the living world, which I am not sure I conveyed clearly, is that of multiple simultaneous mutations, sometimes called irreducible complexity. These refer to complicated systems which cannot work at all unless all parts appear simultaneously. When the individual parts have no value, which is usually the case, there is no reason for them to stay in the gene pool.

Consider the horn of the rhinoceros. At the forlorn level of National Geographic or NPR, there is nothing mysterious here. The horn obviously evolved so that the rhino could defend itself against lions. (“So that” raises questions of purpose, which run through evolutionism, but we will here let it drop.) All right, that makes sense. Except that it doesn’t.

The Wikipedia will tell you that the horn is not of bone, but of keratin, and thus evolved from hair. Well, who could doubt it–but just how did this happen? Did a mutation occur that caused hair to clump together into a hard substance? Would one mutation do this? Why laterally centered on the forehead instead of, say, on a hind leg? After the hair-stick’’em-together mutation did another occur to make the hard patch a cleanly limited ovoid? Next, was there a grow-really-fast mutation to make the hard patch get longer, or long at all, accompanied by a grow-faster-in-middle mutation to make it pointed–at which time finally, it would be ready for poking lions. So what kept it in the gene pool all that time when it had as yet no function.kl?(Actually the horn is more complex, and therefore even less likely.)

To judge by my mail, I suspect that many people, thanks to popular television, think of mutations as major changes that just happen, such perhaps as the rhino’s horn appearing all at once . In fact mutations are changes in the nucleotide sequence of DNA that may produce a new protein. The mathematical likelihood of getting multiple mutations that just happen to engender a complex result is essentially zero. The mathematics is clear but not easily explained to a television audience, no matter how intelligent.

In many years of of writing columns, I have learned that the tenacity of attachment to emotionally important ideas is nearly infinite. This is as true of evolutionists as it is of Christians, the politically ardent, or the rabidly patriotic. Things that do not fit the belief are just ignored, forbidden, or explained away by wishful thinking.

Consider evolution and male homosexuality. This condition would seem to have very strong selective pressures against it. You do not increase your rate of reproduction by not reproducing. While some homosexuals have children, they do so at a rate far, far below that of normal men. The condition should have long since gone out of existence. Yet homosexuals are still with us, apparently no less commonly than in Greek and Roman times.

This is not a trivial matter.for evolutionism. If no reason can be found, then there exists a clear case of anti-Darwinian descent. To avoid this, evolutionists say that a virus causes homosexuality. There is no evidence for this. People do not have a slight fever and turn into homosexuals. Such a virus has not been found. Evolutionists just know that it exists because if it didn’t, homosexuals could not exist. Here again, the theory is taken for granted and the existence of supporting causes imagined.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Creationism, Darwinism 
An Introduction to Protracted Desperation
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A question that never ceases to fascinate is that of how life originated, and how and why it has progressed as it seems to have. The official story and de rigueur explanation is that that life came about through spontaneous generation from seawater. Believing this is the mark of an Advanced Person, whether one has the slightest knowledge of the matter. In academia researchers have been fired and careers ruined for questioning it. If you doubt that scientists can be ideological herd animals, as petty, intolerant, vindictive, and backstabbing as professors, read Heretic, by the PhD biotechnologist and biochemist Matti Leisola, who fell on the wrong side of the herd. Ths establishment’s continuing effort to stamp out heresy looks increasingly like a protracted desperatoon.

The other, more intuitive view of life is that of Intelligent Design. When one sees an immensely complicated system all of whose parts work together with effect and apparent purpose, such as an automobile or a cell, it is natural to think that someone or something designed it. There is much evidence for this, certainly enough to intrigue those of open mind and intelligence. Those of a philosophic bent may note that Freud, Marx, and Darwin are equally relics of Nineteenth Century determinism, and that Darwin wrote when almost nothing was known about much of biology. Note also that the sciences are tightly constrained and limited by their premises, unable to think outside of their chosen box. Others, wiser, wonder whether there are not more thing in heaven and earth.

The theory of ID is seen by the official story as a form of biblical Creationism of the sort holding that the world was created in 4004 BC. This is either wantonly stupid or deliberately dishonest. There is of course no necessary connection between ID and Buddhism, Islam, or the Cargo Cult. There are scientists who are not proponents of ID but simply see that much of official Darwinism does not make sense or comport with the evidence. Some IDers are Christians, which does not affect the validity, or lack of it, orf what they say. To judge by my mail, many people have serious doubts about the official explanation without being zealots of anything in particulr.

(For what it is worth, I am myself a complete agnostic. Faith and atheism both seem to me categorical beliefs in something one doesn’t know. ID certainly provides no support for the existence of a loving Sunday School god, given that in almost all places and all times most people have lived in misery and died in agony.)

To me, though, things look designed. By what, I don’t know.

Two difficulties affect the presentation of ID to the public. First, most of us have been subjected to thousands of hours of vapid “science” programs and mass-market textbooks. These tell us that doubters must be snake-handling forest Christian with three teeth. The second is that following the argument requires more technical grasp than most have. Trying to explain the question to a network-news audience is hopeless and makes those attempting it seem foolish.

Yet discussion has to be fairly technical to avoid degenerating into vague generalities. Following many of the authors requires familiarity with, or the ability to pick up quickly, such things as the nature of information, both in the Shannon sense of a reduction in uncertainty and of specified information as found in DNA and computer code. Some experience of programming helps as does a minor familiarity with organic chemistry and a nodding aquaintance with early paleontology.

And, alas, much of dispute turns on the mechanics of cell biology: DNA’s structure, codons and anticodons, polymerases and transcriptases, the functions of ribosomes, chirality of alpha amino acids, microRNA, protein folding, ORFans, developmental gene regulatory networks, Ediacaran and Cambrian paleontology (so much for 4004 BC BC), and similar technoglop, It isn’t rocket science, but it takes a bit of study to pick up. Most of us have other things to do.

The less one knows about cellular biology the easier it is to believe in spontaneous generation. Darwin knew nothing. Since then knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology has grown phenomenally. Yet, despite a great deal of effort, the case for the accidental appearance of life has remained one of fervent insistence untainted by either evidence ofrtheoretical plausibility.

What are some of the problems with official Darwinism? First, the spontaneous generation of life has not been replicated. (Granted, repeating a process thought to have taken billions of years might lack appeal as a doctoral project.) Nor has anyone assembled in the laboratory a chemical structure able to metabolize, reproduce, and thus to evolve. It has not been shown to be mathematically possible.

This is true despite endless theories about life arising in tidal pools, on moist clays, in geothermal vents, in shallows, in depths, or that life arrived on carbonaceous chondrites–i.e., meteors. It has even been suggested that life arrived from Mars, which is to say life came from a place where, as far was can be determined, there has never been any. Protracted desperation.

Sooner or later, a hypothesis must be either confirmed or abandoned. Which? When? Doesn’t science require evidence, reproducibility, demonstrated theoretical possibility? These do not exist. Does not the ferocious reaction to doubters of the official story suggest deep-seated doubt even among the believers?

Other serious problems with the official story: Missing intermediate fossils–”missing links”– stubbornly remain missing. “Punctuated equilibrium,” a theory of sudden rapid evolution invented to explain the lack of fossil evidence, seems unable to generate genetic information fast enough. Many proteins bear no resemblance to any others and therefore cannot have evolved from them. On and on.

Finally, the more complex an event, the less likely it is to occur by chance. Over the years, cellular mechanisms have been found to be ever more complex. Darwin thought that in a warm pond, bits of goo clumped together, a membrane formed, and life was off and running. Immediately after Watson and Crick in 1953, the chemical mechanics of cellular function still seemed comparatively simple, though nobody could say where the genetic information came from. Today thousands of proteins are known to take part in elaborate processes in which different parts of proteins are synthesized under control of different genes and then spliced and edited elaborately. Recently with the discovery of epigenetics, complexity has taken a great leap upward. (For anyone wanting to subject himself to such things, there is The Epigenetics Revolution. It is not light reading.)

Worth noting is that that the mantra of evolutionists, that “in millions and millions and billions of years something must have evolved”–does not necessarily hold water. We have all heard of Sir James Jeans assertion that a monkey, typing randomly, would eventually produce all the books in the British Museum. (Actually he would not produce a single chapter in the accepted age of the universe, but never mind.) A strong case can be made that spontaneous generation is similarly of mathematically vanishing probability. If evolutionists could prove the contrary, they would immensely strengthen their case. They haven’t.

Improbabilities are multiplicative. The currents of exponentiation seem to be running ever more heavily against the monkey. If this is not true, evolutionists have not shown it not to be true.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Creationism, Evolution 
A Twelve-Toed Analysis
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I’m trying to figure out politics. It’s slow going. I’m just a holler hopper out of West Virginia, and I guess I puzzle easy. Maybe you can help me.

I reckon America is pretty much a dictatorship now. It’s because one man, just one, does anything he wants to other countries and to us and everything else. I mean, he starts trade wars, to make everything cost more, which I don’t remember anybody voting for. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, though..He sends troops to Africa without telling anybody if he feels like it, which he mostly does. I guess somebody somewhere must want our troops in Africa, but I don’t know anybody who does.

Then he puts sanctions on all the countries he’s heard of, which probably isn’t many, but maybe has a map to find new ones. You know, like Nambia. He obeys Israel like it was his mother, and wants a war with Eye-ran so he’ll get campaign money in New York, and wants a fight with places like China, and Russia too.

Now that’s smart. I bet you wake up at night and think, Dear God, please let us have a war with China, so we can all melt into chicken fat or at least Walmart won’t have anything to sell. Think how much money people would save.

Me, I reckon he’s crazier than a bag of monkeys and, like they say in Alabama, ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple. Maybe that’s just me, though. The big question is do we get turned into pork rinds in a nuclear fry-up, or just starve in a trade war? We don’t know . I don’t guess it’s our business.

On one of those nature shows on TV I saw something about about the endangered Giant Yellow Crested Cockatoon and how it makes nests in cities. I don’t know why I thought of that.

It’s a funny dictatorship, though if you think about dictatorships. It’s a crafty one, not too ugly from inside, until the fry-up anyway, sort of like a movie about that guy Orwell if Disney did it. It seems like we’ve got freedom but no power. That’s really slick. Any mosquito will tell you it’s better to suck blood from something that doesn’t notice you’re doing it.

At the baptist church down the road, the preacher, he’s the Reverend McBilly Osfeiser, he says the End Times are about here. What he said was, “Verily I say unto ye, brethren and sistern, the Last Tribulation is upon us. for in Revelation chapter 8, verses 3-5, saith the Lord, “From the deeps of Sheol a creature shall arise, with the head of a carrot and the body of a man, and he shall smite the nations of the earth, even unto the Stromatolites and Erythrocytes, and none shall remain unsmited, and they shall smite him back, and the world shall end.”

Well, I think that’s what he said. Anyway, he might of said it.

But we were talking about our dictatorship. I was going to say, then there’s Congress, that’s neutered like somebody’s pet dog and only cares about itself. That’s just how Congress is. It’s hard to tell what it’s for anymore.

A lot of people in it don’t seem right in the head. There this woman named Elizabeth Warren who thinks she an Indian. Well, I think I’m a French Poodle. There’s as much evidence. I don’t know whether she wears feathers or anything, maybe a belt with scalps on it. Then there’s Nancy Pelosi, who can’t make her eyes point in the same direction at once. And there’s Maxine Waters, who sticks her tongue out at people like she want to catch flies. I figure with people like that, there ought to be room for a French Poodle. I could have a dog bowl for bribes and bark every little bit for authenticity.

Part of our newfangled dictatorship is the telescreen, television I meant to say, and the newspapers, that never talk about anything they don’t want you to think about. Well, what they do is every few weeks, probably on Saturday night when everybody is out drinking beer and not watching, they put in about a sentence and a half about one of Washington’s wars, with no pictures of dead kids spread around like marmalade on buttered toast. That way they can say they’re covering the wars. They know people don’t remember anything they hear just once if there’s no pictures. But if you tell them twelve thousand times that Russia is poisoning orphans in Utah, they’ll believe it, even if Utah doesn’t have any orphans, and they have to truck a few in so they can look poisoned. Then everybody’ll want a war with Russia. Then you can get more money from them to build aircraft carriers. Some German guy figured it out.

The government doesn’t want people to think too much. It might give them brain cancer. So once in a while they have elections like mixed martial arts or a really good bar fight, fun to watch but don’t mean anything. One rascal wins and people whoop and holler but afterward it’s hard to tell which rascal won because there wasn’t enough difference between them to shine light through. Anyway, they always do what the power and money wants.

In Mexico, the rascals give people a hamburger to vote for them. It’s a better system. I mean, a hamburger is better than nothing, which is what Americans get out of elections.

The reason Washington has to blow up the world is China. If what I hear is true, China is just full of people. I mean, they’re just all over the place. That would be all right, if they left it at that. But it turns out those squinty-eyed scoundrels are smart, too, and mostly engineers, There’s more of them than of almost any kind of people except may in India, and they study pretty much all day.

That might be all right too if they left well enough alone, but they don’t. They make stuff and sell it, and make money and the people that used to be pea-turkey poor have food and flat screens and China is getting rich. Washington doesn’t like that because it can’t figure out how to make money because it’s buying aircraft carriers and so it just prints money instead of having a real economy. It’s called counterfeiting and it seems like the rest of the world is catching on to it. So that’s why we got to have a war while Washington might still win, but most likely we’ll broil like beetles in a bug-zapper. So when it happens you’ll know why, but you’ll have to think fast.

 
How American Business Apparently Sometimes Works
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OK, book report time. I have just finished reading Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal. Good read, fascinating story. It is the saga of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, the miraculous blood-testing company of Silicon Valley. Holmes, formerly said to be worth $4.5 billion, ended up under criminal indictment for fraud as of 2015. I suppose many have heard vaguely of Theranos, as I had, but the actual story is astonishing.

Holmes, 19, drops out of Stanford to start a medical-instrumentation company. She is very smart, very driven, very self-confident, very glib, very cold-blooded, very manipulative, very willing to take risks, very pretty, and very ruthless. Everything about her is very. If the foregoing resembles the clinical description of a psychopath, there is a reason.

She also knows almost nothing of the sciences, and nothing at all of electronic or mechanical engineering, or of medical instrumentation. That is, she has no qualifications in the field. She is just very–that word again–smart and pretty and talks a swell show. And yet…ye gods and little catfishes, what she managed to do.

Her goal was to invent a medical blood-analyzer that could do a large number of tests on a single drop of blood from a pricked finger. It was a bright idea. If it had worked, it would have been a (very) big deal. This of course is also true of anti-gravity space shps and perpetual motion machines. Making it work required nothing beyond difficult mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, programming, microfluidics, and a few things that were impossible. She knew none of these fields.

But holy smack-and-kerpow, Batman, could she talk. Soon she had investment money pouring in. On her board she got–yes–Henry everlovin’ Kissinger and James Mattis (uh-huh, that one,) and former Secretaries of State and Defense and just about every heavy hitter except Pope Francis. More money rained down. I mean with people like that vouching for her, Hank the Kiss and Mad Dog Mattis, it had to be legit–right? She even managed to cozy up to the Clintons and Obama.

Meanwhile the wretched blood gizmo wouldn’t, didn’t, and couldn’t as it turned out, work. It was a metal box with inside it a glue-gun robot arm out of Jersey–I am not inventing this–that made grinding noises and could do only a few tests with wildly unreliable results. You might think of it as Uncle Clunk. Just the thing you want your life to depend on. And lives do depend on good lab results.(“OK, lady, Uncle Clunk says you got brain cancer. We have to remove your brain.”) Heh. Oops.

So Holmes, who could talk the bark off a tree, faked it. To be fair, she probably thought it would work or hoped it might and turned to chicanery only when it didn’t. Anyway, many of her deceptions were clearly fraudulent–well, clearly if you knew about them. For example, most of her results were obtained using commercial analyzers from outfits like Siemens instead of Uncle Clunk. Financial projections were wildly dishonest. Many employees quit over ethhical concerns–but they were bound by sharp-fanged nondisclosure agreements they had to sign to be hired. It was nonsense. Nothing worked. But nobody knew.

Thing was, across America there was a terrific will to believe. Her story was just too good to pass up. People wanted a female Steve Jobs, a girl to join the boys in a startup world of wunderkind guys like Gates and Jobs and Wozniak and Zuckerberg and all. There just weren’t any girls. Sure, a few, sort of, a little bit, like Marissa Mayer at Google, but Page and Bryn were the real starters-up. Holmes was beautiful, smart, so very appealing and just a dynamite entrepreneur. She had this astonishingly successful company.

Which didn’t have a product.

Note that most of the dazzling university dropouts who became billionaires are in software, not biological sciences. The few in hardware brilliantly put together readily comprehended pieces, like CPUs and memory chips. There is a reason for this. Programming takes a lot of brains and little knowledge. Medicine takes reasonable intelligence and lots of knowledge. Molecular biology takes a lot of brains and a lot of knowledge. A (very) bright kid can learn Python or C-plus-plus in a couple of months in mommy’s basement and actually be a programmer. It doesn’t work with complicated multidisciplinary computerized micro-fluidized gadgets involving robotic glue-arms. At least, it didn’t work.

I wonder why nobody thought of this. When asked for evidence, she ducked, dodged, lied, said the check was in the mail, and any day now.

The non-disclosure agreements saved her, for a while. All employees had to sign them. Her lawyer, who was also on her board, was the scary super lawyer David Boies. If you were a midlevel lab worker, and knew that reagents were out of date, that bad results were being hidden, that Uncle Clunk didn’t work–and said so, a savage law firm with unlimited funds and, as events proved, not a lot of ethics, would litigate you into sleeping in alleys. Consequently much was known, but little was said.

Meanwhile–this is crazier than Aunt Sadie, that we kept in the attic–she got freaking Safeway and Walgreens to bite on putting Theranos booths in their stores so customers could get quick finger-prick analyses for very little money. Both companies bought into this, and actually built the booths at considerable expense, without insisting on seeing proof of her claims. I wonder what she was thinking. The scam obviously was going to collapse at some point. And did.

A better question might be what her board members and the chain-store executives were thinking. They were bosses of huge corporations and presumably astute. How did she get away with it? I will guess. Most of those gulled were old men, or nearly so. Note that old men, powerful men, rich men, and famous men, are nevertheless…men. Holmes was a honey, slender, very pretty, well-groomed, appealing, smart, and maybe the daughter or girlfriend or mistress that her prey would have liked.

Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?
Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?

As the Wall Street Journal closed in, and Theranos got wind of it, things became ethically interesting. Holmes of course knew that Theranos was endangering lives, and had already established a lack of morality. Some of the board came to suspect and quietly bailed. The employees were intimidated, though several talked to the Journal anonymously.

But superlawyer David Boies and his associate Heather King among others at the firm knew. They tried every legal means, or maybe I mean lawyerly means, to block publication of the story. When federal regulatory agencies issued a long, detailed investigative report making it absolutely clear that Theranos did not even come close to legality, and was therefore endangering lives–Boies and King tried to suppress that too. Their success was not great as the Journal put the whole gorgeous taco online, but they tried. It is a curious fact, but a fact, that lawyers are often accessories to crime.

Anyway, great fun, great read.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos 
With a Korean Preface
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I don’t get it. I know, I know, I’m just some mutt in Mexico with a computer, and easily puzzled. But…huh? Trump, we are told, pulled off a master stroke in Singapore. All the world reels at this astonishment. We see Talleyrand and Metternich rolled into one gorgeous taco. But…but….

Who did the doing, and who got done?

What really happened, as best I can tell: For years America’s relation with North Korea was its usual one of military intimidation: Submit, or we will forever keep you in poverty if we don’t actually bomb you into rubble, a point kept in North Korean consciousness by annual military exercises aimed at Pyongyang. OK. Business as usual. The Empire barks.

Then this kid Kim decides to build his own deliverable nukes, tell Washington to bugger off, and starts launches. Worse, or better depending on your viewpoint, he rants about turning the US into lava. Washington suddenly pays attention to the North as it never had before.

Cute, huh?

The part about the lava was, sez me, gifted diplomacy. Kim, no fool, couldn’t have actually envisioned attacking the US nuclear-wise. Ah, but: Gordon Liddy once said that if your behavior is unpredictable, and your response to provocation wildly out of proportion to the offense, no one will screw with you. Works.

Then this guy Moon gets elected Prez of the South on a platform of reconciliation and cuddling with the North. Kim thought this was peaches and the two of them started working on it.

The United States had nothing to do with this.

As part of hugs and kisses, the Koreas decided to field joint athletic teams in the Winter Olympics in the South. Gee willikers, Batman! What a concept! The world was, reasonably enough, charmed.

Trump had nothing to do with this either. In fact he was strongly against it. Recall that he told Vice Cipher Mike Pence that, when the joint team entered the stadium, to refuse to stand. Mike Kaeperpence obediently engaged in this adolescent prank. Trump was not in favor of peace, love, and–worse–unification.

Then Kim, as always a very smart cookie if an accomplished monster, invited Trump to sit down and talk. Kim did this, not Trump. Who was running the love-in?

So we then saw the seventy-two-year-old master of the most powerful, indispensable, exceptional nation in history, population over three hundred million, flying to Asia to see the thirty-something dictator of an impoverished country of twenty-five million.

Trump went to Asia, not Kim to the West. The symbolism can’t have been lost on eastern lands. Trump gushed about what a great guy Kim is. They were best pals. They would have each other over for dinner.

Net result? Well, things are lots better for the world. Already Russia and the Koreas have revived the idea of a gas pipeline to South Korea. But…wasn’t it Pompeo who said that nothing would be acceptable but total immediate denuclearization, grrr, bow-wow, woof woof woof? Didn’t happen.

The whole circus was driven entirely by the by the Koreas and, you can bet, China in the background. Such unwonted Korean independence is not popular with supporters of the American Empire, who need enemies, but how can you be against peace?

All very bad for the Empire, but good for America and, potentially, everybody else. Why? China doesn’t want American troops on the peninsula. Neither does the North. Neither does the South. No country likes occupation troops of another country, and another race, diddling its daughters and breaking up bars. If peace unfortunately comes, Korea–singular–is likely to suggest that Washington take its toys and go home.

Bad. Very bad. It would weaken Washington’s anti-Chinese wall of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and, though shakily, the Philippines. See?

OK, Europoodles. In the struggle between Washington’s military and China’s economy, America’s European vassals form a crucial football. They have to be kept under American control. This is what NATO does. Left alone, Europe would contentedly buy oil from Iran and sell it airliners. It would buy Russian gas and sell stuff to Russia. The effect would be to loosen America’s iron grip on the throat of Europe.

This has to be stopped at almost any cost. If the European peninsula of Asia were to integrate itself into the rest of Asia, precisely what Beijing has in mind, the Empire would be over, over, over. America is a medium-sized country, China a big country, and Eurasia a gynormous, sprawling, motingaator behemoth. And it is all in one piece. Think railroads and pipelines.

Blocking trade with Iran is also important to Israel and the Jewish lobbies that largely control American foreign policy. Yet if these did not exist the Empire would still require the neutering of Iran and keeping the Poodles from trading with Asia. They might–horror–begin wondering why they needed NATO. They might begin looking to their own interests, not Washington’s.

Crucial question: Is there a likelihood that the Poodles will find the virility to go independent of Mother Washington? Historically they have been docile and obedient, good doggy, roll over. Now they yap fiercely, having discovered that America is not their ally but their owner. If by remote chance they decide to act in their own interest, methinks we will have moved into another world.

It is worth keeping in mind that neither America nor Americans have a dog in this fight. Trump, Israel, and the Empire do. No danger to America or Americans will arise if Iran buys airliners, or Europe buys gas, or Afghanistan does anything at all, or Venezuelans have enough to eat. The United States has been hijacked and is now used for the benefit of imperial loons and their allies.

The save-the-empire game plays out in much of the world as the US lunges about, strong-arming country after country to keep them in submission. Just now Trump is sanctioning, tarriffing, embargoing, invading, or bombing Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Europe, China, Turkey, Russia, Syria, Somalia, various African countries, and North Korea.

Some of these, such as Venezuela, can do nothing about it. Others, perhaps, can. Washington’s use of financial sanctions leads country after country to get out of the dollar in bilateral trade. Powerful alliances excluding the US spring up in response to Washington’s hostility: SCO, AIIB, NDB, BRICS and so on. Instead of encouraging trade with Russia and Iran, wooing them westward, Washington drives them together.

Think of an aging drunk, muttering, “I can whip any man in this bar.” But all at once?

Fred Reed is a retired news weasel and part-time sociopah living in Mexico with his wife and three useless but agreeable street dogs. He says it suits him.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, EU, North Korea 
Fred Reed
About Fred Reed

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers.


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