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 TeasersFred Reed Blogview

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What the government Doesn’t Want You to Know
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OK, every self-respecting columnist is writing about that wretched virus, so I suppose I have to. (Actually any self-respecting columnist is probably delusional. but never mind.) Columnists do what they are programmed to do, like bugs.

I think I’m supposed to say that the coronavirus is most perilous, and like the Black Death that is thought to have killed a third of Europe in 1348. Well, if a million people died in the US, it would be less than a third of one percent of the population. If we want to beat the Black Death we had better get cracking. So far we don’t even have a tenth of a million, though we are working on it. So we are at less than a tenth of a third of one percent.

I don’t know. I’m patriotic and all, and like to see America being a light to the world in pauses in bombing it, and setting an example. I don’t have much hope. Unless we start injecting Lysol like the Main Cockatoo says.

We will begin our discussion with a dose of sanity. If we can find any. It’s pretty scarce on the ground in this plague. I imagine dead bodies piled everywhere, whole hecatombs of them. (This column believes in up-town Greek words. It’s a toney column, after all. The trick is to throw them off casually as if you barely noticed. Don’t let the reader suspect that you have spent ten minutes devising a run-up to them so they look natural.)

Anyway, sanity. This miserable virus breeds all manner of conspiracy theories, most of them negligible. The Chloroquine Concealment story may actually persuade people to dose themselves with a drug they don’t understand. We have Pepe Escobar, a columnist appearing in Asia Times among several other places. He asserts that to his certain knowledge the French government is hiding a “cheap, tested” sure-fire cure, chloroquine. Yes, hiding it. The results of a French study, he says, show that chloroquine, a well-known antimalarial drug, is a cure.

So why are the French dying like mayflies in a bug zapper? Because the French government doesn’t want to save its people’s lives. And why this? So that Big Pharma can find a vaccine and get rich.

Saith Pepe, “… major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19.”

He is sure of this. And maybe also of poltergeists, though he hasn’t said so.

Chloroquine discovered in 1934, has been extensively used by large numbers of people for long periods. It is in the public domain. If it protects against the virus, Why not just put everybody on it en masse? Problem solved, no masks or ventilators need apply. No?

The tale has all the earmarks of the classic nutball conspiracy theory. It is fundamentally implausible (Macron is letting thousands of the French die and crippling the economy for the benefit of one industry, Big Pharma). It relies on blind sourcing and unsupported assertion. It requires the complicity of tens of thousands in the French medical community, none of whom spills the beans and saves thousands. Since chloroquine’s alleged effectiveness has been published on sites of large circulation, such as the Unz Review and Lew Rockwell, as well as being touted by Trump, it would seem not to be particularly well hidden.

Yet no country has jumped on this simple, cheap means of saving its population. it follows that...all the world’s governments are in on the conspiracy! Yes! The entire governmental earth.plots to make money for Big Pharma. And the media are hiding it, so they must be in on it. All bought off by Big pharma.

Why didn’t I think of that?

What I want to know is where the damned thing came from. On one hand it came from eating bats in Wuhan, for which there is no evidence so we will defend the story furiously. But actually it leaked from a Chinese germ-war lab, except that it was seen in California, like Elvis, before it appeared in China. Except those squinty-eyed rascals let it loose on their own people, because they’ve got so many they don’t mind losing ten or twenty million, hardly notice them, so it would spread to America and destroy the economy. Except, really, the Pentagon sent it to China with an athletic team–I guess it was going to play shortstop or something–to destroy China,

See? We’ve got the origin nailed down.

Now, as I understand it, the Head Witch Doctor in the White House for weeks kept saying, shucks, t’ain’t nothing, why, no worse than a head cold, just think about something else, folks, don’t worry your pretty little heads about a thing. Then it turned out the DOW didn’t have antibodies and dropped like a prom dress, and that was serious, so he went into hyperdrive and started blaming China for not saying anything for weeks, just like he didn’t either.

Here, a parenthesis. (See? More sky-brow Greek words.) Anyway, I’m never sure. Are tweets those email things, and twits the people who send them, or are twits the messages….?

What I can’t get a handle on is who the virus is dispatching to a Better Place. (I’m not religious, but almost any place would be better than New York in summer.) Yes, we hear that being morbidly fat doesn’t help, or having diabetes, or fifth-stage cancer, or being old, or already dead. Actually, we could have guessed as much. But what are the actual numbers? Of a thousand people infected, how many die? Of a thousand symptomatic people, however defined, how many die? What is the breakdown by age for otherwise healthy people? In short, now dangerous is the foul molecule to whom? Why don’t we know?

Easy. Because the US response has been chaotic, incompetent, unprepared, ridiculous, embarrassing, and ineffectual. Nothing that should have been stocked was. Because the First Source of Tweets is more interested in reelection than in the country. Because it turns out that the All-Galactic Omnipower, feared unto the Crab Nebula for is gaudy aircraft carriers and stupid bombers, can’t supply its people with face-masks–you know, little piece of cloth, two strings. Or just one stretchy string.

Actually, I have my own conspiracy theory. The virus was designed in a Jewish biowarfare lab deep under Manhattan to provide clients for the Rosenthal Happy Bye-Bye chain of morgues, and incidentally to supply an organ-harvesting network run by Mossad to do experiments on Palestinian orphans. But Bill and Melinda Gates heard of it and bought it to infect bats. These were sent to China under the influence of a suspended-animation drug invented by the Nazis. (This explains why Hitler has been seen at a donut shop in Buenos Aires.) Bill and Mel knew that the virus would come back to America where the lock-down would let the government impose totalitarianism, destroy our freedoms, and make everybody take vaccines and get chips implanted in their heads.

Ha! Escobar has met his match.

A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be”

Amazon review: “Another collection of Fred’s Fred on Everything columns, seditious, outrageous, inflammatory, evilly funny. Fred dislikes everything he is supposed to like, and likes everything he is supposed to dislike. He likes downscale bars, thinks bar girls are decent human beings, approves of dogs, motorcycles, and really loud blues. He detests wars, which he has seen several of, loathes ugly feminists with politically significant hairy armpits, believes that congressmen would serve well as skeet, and proposes to tie everyone on Wall Street to an anvil and drop it in a river. Obviously he is

Write Fred at [email protected]. put the letters “pdq” anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Coronavirus 
Totalitarianism for Dummies
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The genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. Truly total government–“Your papers, citizen,” stop-and-frisk, permission needed to travel from city to city–might spark revolt. By contrast, a sufficiency of totalitarianism, but not an excess, keeps the populace in adequate torpidity. Thus done astutely, totalitarianism is hardly noticed.

The founder of this philosophy was that rascal, Abe Lincoln. As we have all heard in what has become almost a cliche, he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” He wisely did not add, “…but you can fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

Lincoln’s Principle of Sufficiency is the First Pillar of Practical Totalitarianism. The Second Pillar is reliance on the private sector for effectuation. This gives the government plausible deniability. For example, Google has all your email for decades back, This is annoying but not truly alarming. If the federal government (openly) collected emails, conservatives would shriek about…totalitarianism. But Google isn’t the government–is it?

The Third pillar: A press not too noticeably controlled, with enough apparent difference of opinion to simulate savage debate of ideas–without touching on any important ones. For example, Rachel Maddow rattles that Trump is a Russian agent while Rush Limbaugh, the Rachel Maddow of the Right, demurs furiously. This allows people to be excited and engaged without endangering either Wall Street or the military budget.

Hermetic control of information isn’t needed, and would be noticed. Most people get most of their news from the lobotomy box. Anything that doesn’t appear on the flickering screen doesn’t exist for most, and these are enough. It is thus possible to suppress information not by suppressing it, but by ignoring it.

We have now listed the fundamentals of American government. Now let us examine the use and intersection of these principles here and abroad.

China is typically offered as practicing the blackest totalitarianism, the implicit contrast being with the enlightened democracy enjoyed by Americans. For example, we are told that In China, everything you say or do is monitored. Obviously China is a most terrible place. Who could doubt it?

By contrast, in America, cameras are everywhere, all email is recorded, every bank transaction, credit-card purchase, who you called by telephone and when, and of course criminal records. Depending on location, traffic lights photograph your license number if you run a light (and for all you know, if you don’t), license-plate readers check for stolen vehicles and (perhaps) delete legal plates. Cell towers know approximately where you and Google Maps knows to within a few feet. Locations can be cross-checked with those of other phones to see who you were with. Now face-recognition comes along.

Since little of this is directly done by the federal government, we do not live in a surveillance state. After all, none of the entities involved would share their information with the feds–would they?

In China,we are told, there is no freedom of expression. Well, actually there is, as long as you don’t say the wrong things about the wrong things. In America we have freedom of speech. It says so in the Constitution.

Well, we have freedom of speech as long as we don’t say the wrong things about the wrong things. We all know what we can’t say and who we can’t say it about. In many places, certainly in the media where you might influence others, you can lose your job for saying things that upset blacks, Jews, feminists, homosexuals, LBGQXYZs, Hispanics, or Muslims. In the media you cannot say anything if favor of the Second Amendment, against abortion, about black crime, against the military budget or the wars. You cannot doubt accounts of such events as the Trayvon Martin adventure. On the web, sites can be and increasingly are “deplatformed” by the social media.

But as these are not formally part of government, we have freedom of speech. See? No unelected dictator decides what we are permitted to know or say. Mark Zuckerberg does.

This is very different from China in that…in that…wait. I’ll think of something.

Here we come to the Fourth Pillar of Sufficient Totalitarianism: Repetition, repetition, repetition. In Mein Kampf (now removed from Amazon) Adolf said that propaganda should not be entrusted to.intellectuals They are, he said, easily bored, like sophisticated ideas, and constantly want to change the message.

Instead, he said, keep it simple enough for the masses to understand, and say it over and over and over, and they will come to believe it. More precisely, enough will come to believe it. The rest don’t matter. This is much cheaper than kicking in doors at three a.m. and doesn’t arouse potentially dangerous resentment

RussiaGateRussiaGateRussiaGateChinaDidItChinaDidItChinaDidItIranIsEvilIranIsEvilIranIsEvilGoYoBeginningAndRepeat

We are told, over and over and over, that America is a democracy and virtually choking on freedoms. We are told three times in a half hour during the Super Bowl, that we need to buy a sandwich from Subway. Same principle, exactly. It works.

Here we come to the Bicephalous Monoparty, the stage set of American democracy. In this production, actors called Republicans and Democrats feign combat. It is like professional wrestling but without the dignity. By Instinct or prearrangement they avoid mention of things that might produce restiveness among the electorate: Wall Street, the military budget, corruption, corporate price-fixing, or Epstein’s ability to hang himself from a bedstead two feet shorter than himself. It is prettily done. By engaging the glands of the multitude with shiny political baubles–transgender bathrooms, making America great again–the avoid endangering larceny as usual.

And so, unlike China where democracy does not exist and people have no influence, we have democracy but no influence. This is much slicker.

For example, if you oppose the interminable wars, what party do you vote for? There are neither antiwar parties nor serious candidates. Who do you vote for if you want to cut the goiterous military budget? If you are against torture? If you oppose a militarily aggressive foreign policy?

Can you influence what your children are taught in school, what is in their textbooks? If you are against the ongoing enstupidation of education, or against the pulling down of statues? Against affirmative action? The list could go on.

Thank God we don’t live in China. Their government works, ours doesn’t, but at least we have our freedoms.

Write Fred at [email protected]. Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

Nekkid in Austin

Amazon review: “Essays on America, life, politics, and just about everything. The author chronicles among other adventures an aging stripper in Austin, dressed in a paper-mache horse, who had with her a cobra and a tarantula like a yak-hair pillow with legs and alternately charmed and terrified a room full of cowboys sucking down Bud and…. Fred was an apostle of the long-haul thumb during the Sixties and saw…many things. He tells of standing by the big roads across the desert, rockin in the wind blast of the heavy rigs roaring by and the whine of tires and dropping into an arroyo at night with a bottle of cheap red and watching the stars and perhaps smoking things not approved by the government. He tells of..well, that’s what the book is for. Join him.”

 
Que Será, Será
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The most portentous events in American history were the enforced importation of African blacks by the New England slavers, and the opening of the southern border to Latin America. Both have proved disastrous. Compulsory mixing of disparate peoples has not worked.

In response to the Latino influx, Nativist groups arose to oppose immigration and (not the same thing) immigrants. Typically, Nativist hostility remains until the newcomers assimilate, if they do, and stop being disparate. Blacks haven’t done this. With Latinos, it is a work in progress.

Nativism Is far from new to America, and not always racial. The KKK Revival of the 1920s, far more successful than today’s Nativists, opposed chiefly not blacks but Catholic Irish and Italians. As late as the 1960s an argument against JFK as President was that he was Catholic and the Pope would control America. Today this seems silly. It didn’t then.

The Nativists of today, very similar to those of yore, Protestant, Nordic, and angry, speaking of an almost sacred white America, call themselves White Nationalists, the Alt Right, the Dissident Right, Immigration Patriots, and so on. Do they amount to anything? Or will they, like earlier Nativists, fade away, having accomplished little?

They will fade, methinks. They lack the horsepower to start an uprising, the votes to pass major policies, support in Congress, the courts, or the media. The immigrants are numerous enough that neither party is going to antagonize them. And the crafty brown rascals aren’t behaving badly enough to change this.

A Few Facts

Fact One: Some sixty million Hispanics live in the US, mostly and increasingly citizens, along with an unknown but substantial number of illegals.

Fact Two: They are in America to stay. The citizens cannot be deported. Nobody is going to force tens of millions, legal or otherwise, across the Mexican border. If you think otherwise, you need to stop smoking that brass polish. It isn’t good for you.

Fact Three: Intermarriage with whites is high, will remain high, and very likely increase. Latin Americans are attractive people. Nativists may regard them as repellent on ideological grounds, but this will remain a minority view among young white men.

(You ask: Why will intermarriage increase? Because increasingly the Hispanics speak native English. Language and accent are sharp markers of difference. Lupita Gutierrez, nineteen, speaking flawless American English (as distinct from Hisbonics), pretty, talking about the same movies as everyone else and pecking at her telephone, will repel few young white men.)

Fact Four: Pace the Nativists, America is not a white country. Maybe it should be, or could have been, or something, but it isn’t. It is roughly thirteen percent black, at least eighteen percent Hispanic, and several percent Asian, in total more than a third non-white. You can applaud this, deplore it, jump up and down and screech, or think warm fuzzy thoughts about inclusiveness. When you are through, the numbers will be exactly the same.

Fact Five: Increasingly, Hispanics vote.

Together the foregoing suggest that Nativism, if not a dead letter, is at least a dying letter, with time working against it. Maybe a ventilator would help.

Some Political Demographics

Geography and concentration increase the political leverage of minorities. If they were distributed evenly across the country, Nativists and sympathizers might outvote them. They are not so distributed. Blacks are concentrated in the downtowns of cities in the North, South, and Midwest, and control them, or nearly do, by ballot or sheer numbers. They tend to bloc vote, giving them great heft among Democrats and causing fear among Republicans. This is not going to change.

Latinos dominate, or shortly will, in the states of the Southwest. If Nativists make an electoral fight of it in these states, they will lose. Republicans might think about this.

Lost Cause Department

Judging by their websites, Nativists believe, or try to, that Real Americans will shortly awake from their slumber in fury at the pollution of their country, rise in a tsunami of white racial solidarity, and do…something. Just what isn’t clear.

Various problems afflict this understanding. Many liberals think of themselves as Real Americans. They too vote. We would then have competing tsunamis. Young whites, such as university students, seem less disturbed by immigration than their elders. Blacks vote Demographic regardless of immigration. Whether some, any, or all of this makes sense doesn’t matter. It happens. A successful tsunami seems unlikely.

Who Thinks What

Nativists (correctly) cite polls showing that the public regards immigration as a serious problem. From this they conclude that the majority of Americans agree with them in their antipathies. But agree with them about what?

Consider a spectrum of possible policies toward illegals arranged in ascending order of improbability: Deport MS-13. Close the border. End birthright citizenship. End welfare and drivers licenses for illegals. End medical care for them. Declare the DACA people illegal and deport all 850,000 of them. Pull third-grade children of illegals sobbing from their classrooms and leave them on the sidewalks (in front of 12,000 network cameras). Deport all illegals. Outlaw intermarriage. Establish legal segregation. Death camps.

While Nativists seem to favor all of these except the last–perhaps except the last–the general public would begin to fall off earlier in the list. Note the large number of sanctuary cities, counties, and states that refuse to cooperate with ICE. Remember again that liberals think they are Americans, and they too vote. While Nativists would happily contemplate the humanitarian disasters caused by, say, mass deportation, much of the public would recoil.

All of these measures would leave the millions of citizens in place. Here is a point worth noting: Nativists have no policy suggestions regarding Hispanic citizens. Hatred is not a policy.

Race and Nativism: The Box

Politically, Nativists are in a box from which there is no exit. The box exists because their hostility to Hispanics (and blacks and Asians) is racial, not political or behavioral. The racial basis, implicit in much of their writing, is often explicitly stated. Yes, they speak of strewn trash and poor English, but race is their underlying concern. They are clear about it.

This matters. It is The Box. Since Hispanics cannot change their race, there is no room for compromise, accommodation, assimilation, or even a modus vivendi. Any of these would lead to intermarriage, which causes night horrors in Nativists.

Their thinking is starkly binary. White is good, everything else is bad: blacks, Indians (of either kind), Vietnamese, Chinese, Muslims (Nativists tend to regard Islam as a race), what have you. No shades exist, no degrees. It is White, and everyone else. The Box means that no matter what Hispanics do, no matter how many languages they learn, how many babies they fail to rape, Nativists will hate them. In a country more than a third non-white, this is not going to work.

The Political Consequences of the Binary Box

Nativists invariably are hardcore conservatives and so detest Democrats almost as much as they detest nonwhites. Yet by their attacks on Hispanics they seem determined to elect Democrats.

On Nativist sites one reads endlessly that Hispanics are filthy, don’t learn English, carry medieval diseases, molest orphans, can’t read, are stupid, attack teachers, hate America, and breed like flies. The Nativists are then outraged that the ungrateful bastards vote Democratic.

Damn! Who would have thought it?

The Refrigerator as Contraceptive

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Immigration, Latinos 
A Cosmo-Galactic Five-Raio Super Bankshot Explanation of Everything
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We will start this magisterial explanation of everything with the time-honored approach of the philosoñher, beginning with the things we know beyond doubt and then reasoning from them to suitably astonishing truths. As we know, Descartes began by saying, “Cogito ergo sum,” I think therefore I am.” (Ambrose Bierce, a more profound thinker, said, “Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum. Cogito.” Butthis way lies madness.) So with what certain knowledge can we begin our quest?

Our only certain knowledge is that we don’t have any. Acceptance of this condition will diminish the world’s output of philosophy, or so we may hope, but this column faces reality with a brave front. We may now list our certainties:

We don’t know where we came from, where we are, why, what if anything we should do while we are here, and where if anywhere we go when we die.

On this bedrock we shall construct our philosophy of everything. However, before we begin thinking about these profound matters, we need to take into account one more certainty:

Thinking is impossible.

I will explain. But what it comes to is that while we know nothing about which to think, it doesn’t matter because we couldn’t think about it if we did know something.

Why? Consider the brain. It is an electrochemical mechanism, blindly obeying the laws of physics and chemistry (chemistry being the physics of the interactions of atoms). For example, consider a nerve impulse propagating along a neural fiber, depolarizing, sodium in, potassium out. Pure chemistry and physics. When the impulse comes to a synapse, a neurotransmitter diffuses across the gap, pure chemistry and physics. It can’t do anything else. Even chemicals with long, imposing names cannot make choices. The neurotransmitter then binds to receptor sites, because it has to. Textbooks of neurophysiology state it thus: “A brain has less free will than a wind-up clock.” Or at least if it were so stated, it would be. This is close enough for philosophy.

Putting it precisely, the state of a physical system is determined entirely by its previous state. This establishes beyond doubt that we have no free will, and that what we think are thoughts were determined at the time of the Big Bang, if any.

Now, no philosophical essay can be held in repute unless it contains words ending “ism.” The reigning creed today is materialism, the philosophy of the wantonly inattentive. Many who believe in materialism are of high intelligence, and so can only be sufficiently inattentive by great effort.

Anyway, a materialist believes than nothing exists but space, time, matter, and energy, however hyphenated. That is, physics. As the physicist Joe Friday said.

“The physics, ma’am, just the physics, and nothing but the physics.”

This means that the Big Bang, if any, was set up, or I suppose I should say, set itself up, like one of those billiard-table trick shots. You know the kind: The balls seem randomly placed on the table but bounce around a lot before miraculously running into the pockets like birds returning to their nests. In the Bang, if any, all those subatomic whatsamajigggers erupted forth at exactly the right angles and velocities so that, billions of years later, they formed Elvis, San Francisco, and Hillary. (This had to be by chance, since no one in his right mind would form Hillary on purpose. QED.)

Next, consider plane geometry as taught in high school. (You may wonder why we have to consider it. Well, we just do.) Plane geometry deals with planes, lines, points, angles, and nothing else. It is useful and interesting, but it cannot explain a cheeseburger, Formula One race, or political hysteria. Why? Because cheeseburgers exist in three dimensions, which plane geometry doesn’t have. Formula One races involve matter, energy, and motion, which plane geometry also doesn’t have. Hysteria is an emotional state associated with liberal co-eds in pricey northern colleges who, thank God, do not exist in mathematics.

What it comes to is that a logical system is defined by its premises, and all downstream results are mere elaboration. (Of course, as established in the beginning of this luminous essay, we have no premises except the lack of premises, but philosophy readily overlooks such minor hindrances.) Plane geometry is not wrong. It is just incomplete.

To state it in mathematical terms, you cannot flatten a cheeseburger enough to fit into a plane.

Physics, the foundation of the current official story of everything, also depends on its premises. Physics is just mathematical materialism. From its equations one may derive all manner of fascinating and useful things, such as planetary motion, npn transistors, smartphones, nerve gas, and hydrogen bombs. (Some of these may be more useful than others.)

But, just as you cannot get strawberry milkshakes from plane geometry, because they are not implicit in it, there are things you cannot derive from the equations of physics: Consciousness, free will, beauty, morality, or curiosity–the whiches there just ain’t in physics. This would not worry a rational thinker. He (or, assuredly, she) would simply state the obvious: Physics is not wrong, but incomplete. It does what it does, and doesn’t do what it can’t. Not too mysterious, that.

However, the true-believing physics-is-all Neo-Darwinian matter-monger cannot admit that anything–anything at all–exists outside of physics. Since some things obviously do, the only-physics enthusiasts have to resort to contorted logic. I think of kite string in a ceiling fan. Or simple denial.

For example, sometimes they say that consciousness is merely an “epiphenomenon.” Oh. And what does that mean? Nothing. (Actually it means, “I don’t know, but if I use a polysyllabic Greek word, maybe nobody will notice.”) Epiphenomenon of what?

Sometimes they will say, “Well, consciousness is just a by-product of complexity.” But if consciousness is a byproduct what is the primary product? A computer is somewhat complex, so is it somewhat conscious? Is a mouse less conscious than a human or just, in some cases, less intelligent?

A materialist ignoring consciousness is exactly equivalent to a geometer ignoring cheeseburgers.

We will now examine the question, where did we come from? The answer is ready to hand: We don’t have a clue. We make up stories. The physics-only folk say, see, there was the Big Bang and all these electrons and protons and things flew out and just by chance formed Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in the most motingator a-stonishing pool-table trick shot ever set up. Just by accident. Damn! Who would have thought it?

Of course any sane person, to include materialists when they are thinking of something else, would say that TSMC was designed by hordes of Chinese engineers. But of course designing anything requires mind and intelligence (or a computer designed to simulate these things), But Mind cannot be derived from the equations of physics. Therefore we are all mindless. In general human behavior supports this.

Of course other stories exist. Yahweh created the world, or maybe Shiva, or Allah, and I think some remote tribes believe that it just appeared on the back of a giant turtle. I have no information on the matter, though frankly I incline to the turtle story, but will let the reader know the instant I find out.

The weakness of creation myths from Bang to Turtle is the question of the five-year-old, “But Mommy, where did God come from?” or “Who made God?” Fifteen years later in dorm-room bull sessions he will phrase it differently, “Well, what came before the Big Bang?” Same question.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Brain, Darwinism 
The Truth and its Consequences
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“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years, because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis said. “You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot ’em.”

The first rule of human thought is that everything is somebody else’s fault. American whites note that violent crime is mostly committed by blacks or Hispanics, who see all their problems as due to whites. Terrorism is the domain of Muslems. Democrats blame everything on Republicans and vice versa.

Most of the world points out that America causes most of avoidable destruction and suffering on the planet. The Americans believe themselves virtuous, indispensable, exceptional, and entirely dedicated to promulgating democracy. No group is itself guilty of anything.

Nobody (except feminists) says the obvious, that all of these evils are committed by….

Men.

It is always men–some other men, of course, men of another race or country, or religion or tribe or social class. We ourselves–men–are pure. But however you cut it, it is men.

The crucial problem for humanity is, probably always has been, how to control men, how to to harness their vigor and inventiveness for the common good while restraining their penchant for destruction, mass homicide, individual mlurder, rape, pillage, depravity, and foolishness.

Wars are the vilest masculine behavior. They never end. Wars are not about anything. They are just wars. Men always find something for them to be about, but really they are just what men–men–do.

The martial urge is deep in the steroid chemistry. Little boys want to play with guns. If you force dolls upon them, they shoot each other with dolls. When grown up, to the extent they ever are, they fight wars. If there is no reason for war, as for example now, they invent reasons. The Russians are coming. The Chinese are coming. North Korea will nuke us. So will Iran. We must gird our loins and fight, fight, fight.

It is the behavior of a pack of dogs. For example, when an obsolete lumbering propeller-driven Soviet-era bomber approaches American air space, fighter pilots sprint for their planes and roar into the air–loud martial noises are important to men–to intercept the intruder, bow wow, arf, woof. They cannot in sanity think that the dread Russkis have sent a single slow plane to destroy America, but that, presumably due to nucleotide arrangement, is how they behave.

It is innate and starts early. When I was a little boy of twelve, my buddies Dukesy and Mincemeat and I often set out in our perfectly safe suburb to invade the equally perfectly safe nearby suburbs in search of action. We got into rock fights with other little boys who equally had no reason to get into rock fights. We were experiencing the germ of the hunting pack or war party. Girls did not do this.

If we had lived in the downtown of a city where the frail bonds of civilization are weaker, the next step would have been membership in urban gangs. These have both the behavior of the dog pack and the trappings of armies: insignia (baseball hats worn sideways or jackets of particular colors), territory (Rolling Eighties Crips), imposing titles (War Counselor), and brutal initiations (getting jumped in). There is, as with kids of twelve, the sense of belonging, the visceral appeal of concerted action, the adrenal pull of combat. Thus do we overcome the greyness of existence.

In 1916 in the battle of the Somme, England lost 20,000 dead–men–when their generals, men, ordered them to run across open ground covered by the fire of artillery and machine guns manned–note word–by German men. Can you imagine women being so goddam stupid? The war was caused, organized, and waged by, of course, men.

The world’s history consists chiefly of men killing each other and everybody else within reach. Cannae. Zama. Thermopylae, The Bulge. Bosworth Field. The Nile, Trafalgar. Yorktown. Antietam. Custer’s Last Stand. Borodin. Austerlitz. The Varian Disaster. Midway. You could fill encyclopedias with battles, none of them making sense.

In the American West, the men of the savage tribes constantly made war on other savage tribes to steal horses and women and get captives to torture. Spanish men made war on the Aztecs, who made war on everybody around them. Later, American men invaded Mexico to kill Mexican men, who wanted to kill the American men. The free will of army ants.

The literature of most peoples, chiefly written by men, glorifies war. The Iliad, the Anabasis, the Aeneid, Bhagavad Gita, the Old Testament, El Cid, the Gilgamesh Epic, Orlando Furioso. When men are not doing war, they write about war, talk about it, do high-fives in the O Club. In old age they fondly remember their wars as the most pungent and intense times they ever knew.

Men engaging in such behavior speak of honor. There is no honor in war, only hormonally mediated lunacy. Where is the honor in bombing cities, putting them to the sword, raping and looting? The perpetrators-men–care nothing for the horrors they infliict–Dresden, the Rape of Nanjing, Nagasaki, Nine-Eleven, the “pacification” of the Philippines after the American conquest.

Men. Can anyone deny this?

These days, when a thin patina of moralism lightly coats the public mind, soldiers–men–pride themselves on protecting their homelands, the national security, our precious values lauded but seldom practiced, and so forth. Why do countries need protecting? Because otherwise the men of other countries will attack. Our men must protect us against their men. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” but men who carry big sticks cannot speak softly. They always want to use the stick.

The barbaric behavior of men is not restricted to soldiers. Watch documentaries about serial killers on YouTube. You will note that all are men. Men will kill thirteen women after torturing them at length, perhaps copulating with the corpse, will kidnap and rape a chilod of seven for three days before throwing her off a bridge (an actual case). Women do not do this. There is an occasional nurse poisoner and women sometimes kill their husbands, but we do not have Jane Wayne Gacys, Theodora Bundys, or Jessica Dahmers. Sexual torture-murders are, as we say, a male thing.

In cities like Chicago and Baltimore–there are many cities like these–barely organized black men–men–kill each other in hundreds. Black women do not. In Mexico, well organized criminal gangs kill each other in tens of thousand. Mexican women do not. In America, men kill with truly national enthusiasm , constantly attacking other countries and killing, killing, killing. A few women are involved as political baubles, but it is a man’s game. Which is how they regard it. As a game, an adventure.

The mass murderers of history–Joshua, Alexander, Timurlane, Genghis Khan, Titus, Napoleon, Pol Pot, Stalin, Adolf, Mao– were all–men.

In the past, men were not disingenuous about their moves. Conquering was expected of kings and emperors. They did it for its own sake. Alexander didn’t really need Afghanistan. Today men have to speak of spreading democracy and human rights and overthrowing evil dictators. Like wind-up victrolas they speak of duty, honor, country. They insist that war crimes are isolated incidents. In fact a war crime is business as usual that a reporter has heard about.

Short of genetic engineering, how can this grotesque misbehavior be controlled? The question is made difficult because men would have to do the controlling. They will not. They won’t give up their aircraft carriers and tanks and hero treehouses like the Green Berets.

 
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Readers sometimes reproach me, usually gently, for typos. These exist because I have poor and deteriorating vision because, years back, Dr. Phillip Francis Stanley, an ophthalmologist of sorts then at Bethesda Naval Hospital, pulled apart my good eye while removing sutures from a successful corneal transplant at Johns Hopkins. The transplant was done by Dr. Albert Jun, reputedly an excellent surgeon. I have no reason to doubt this. Progressive edema in my remaining eye will probably lead to a soon termination of my column, doubtless to consternation in this and all nearby galaxies.

The disaster at Bethesda led to a successful malpractice suit. By law you cannot sue a military doctor, but you can sue the government which, seeing that it could not win in court, settled. An account of the fiasco, submitted as part of the malpractice filing, is here if anyone is interested. After this Stanley was hired by Hopkins which–or so I hope–did not know what had happened since my suit was filed over a year later. Stanley now practises in Singapore.

Several months back my remaining eye began to experience corneal problems. These diminished vision already below legal blindness due, initially, to shrapnel injuries sustained while a Marine in Vietnam. Thanks to the kindness of a reader, a retired ophthalmologist, I made an appointment with Dr. Yassine Daoud at Hopkins. He proved to be an impressive man whom I would recommend to anyone.

One thinks, I supposes, or wants to think, of doctors as being dedicated to the repair of their patients. This is probably true of most doctors most of the time. It is certainly not true of all of them all of the time. It is not true even of the best doctors at the best institutions. After hearing of my lawsuit, everybody at Hopkins abruptly stopped communicating with me–doctors, secretaries, everybody. Having been a crime reporter for years, I expected this sort of behavior from police departments. I did not expect it from Hopkins. Anyway, I wrote Dr. Daoud as follows:

Dr. Daoud,

Do doctors ever look at malpractice from the patient’s point of view? I had a perfectly good eye, no retinal problems, with a successful transplant. I was then a prosperous mid-level journalist, with an assignment in Afghanistan from the Washington Times and a parallel magazine assignment from Harper’s. I could support my wife and stepdaughter. After fifteen minutes with Dr. Stanley, my career was over. I couldn’t drive, read a book–that God for Kindle and the iPad which can read kindle books aloud. I have lived on disability ever since. Without the malpractice settlement we would have no home and my stepdaughter would have had to drop out of university.

Do you see why a patient might be angry? How would you feel if you went for a checkup and somehow came out with only one eye, and that eye at 20/250 vision and a rapidly deteriorating cornea?

I know little of malpractice suits. The ones I have heard of typically involved carelessness, as in leaving a hemostat inside the patient or prescribing the wrong medication. These are in a sense understandable. We all make mistakes. Everyone runs a redlight occasionally through inattention and might hit someone. Journalists get facts wrong.

My case was not of this sort. Dr. Stanley knew what he was doing, forcing one resistant suture…after another…after another, until he tore the eye open. The choroidal hemorrhage ensued with blood pouring from the open eye. Why did he do this? What doctor possibly could do it? It was not carelessness. It was not a slip of the hand.

As this was going on, I sensed that something was wrong. But I was a patient. Patients expect doctors to know what they are doing. It takes more gall than I had to back away from a slit lamp in the middle of what has been described as a minor procedure and say “Stop!” to a surgeon. And so my wife has to lead me around city streets.

I understand that not all outcomes are good. I know that if I have to have a PK, which I hope I don’t, another hemorrhage is entirely possible. It would not be the surgeon’s fault. The eye is old and has undergone a lot of trauma. But this is different from having an eye pulled apart…suture…by suture…by suture, until aqueous runs down the patient’s cheek, in what should have been a trivial procedure.

I have spent considerable time wondering why he did it. It proved easy to find textbooks of ophthalmology saying that if a suture resists, stop pulling. Didn’t Dr. Stanley know this?

When I came in days later for a follow up, I don’t know whether it was more nightmare or parody. I was too groggy on oxycontin to be entirely aware. Two or three people other than Dr. Stannley were there. One was a white woman who spoke abominable Spanish, obviously brought in to talk to my wife, who spoke better English than the woman did Spanish. Nurse? Secretary? Doctor? I don’t know.

What followed was astonishing, or would seem so months later when I came down from the massive supply of oxycontin prescribed by Dr. Stanley. They all assured me that the hemorrhage was inevitable. Yes. Tearing one suture after another resistant suture from a wounded eye is inevitable. The woman who barely spoke Spanish told my wife that in a few months my eye would probably be recovered. The assumption seemed to be that my wife, as Americans tend to believe of all people of the “Third World,” was stupid, but here I speculate. Dr. Stanley and another female other than the almost Spanish speaker told me that the eye would probably recover but that it would take many months. Sure. After a massive choroidal hemorrhage, with half my retina floating loose, half of my visual field already gone, everything would be all right. Is this in accord with medical ethics?

Then Dr. Stanley sent me back home to Mexico with a huge supply of oxycontin, two tablets every six hours I think, which kept me sleeping most of the day for what my wife estimates at three months. I suspect it was somewhat less, but it was far longer than any pain would have lasted. During this time my visual field diminished from half to nothing as the retina progressively detached.

The upshot? I came out with my life ruined and needing an escort when walking outside of the house. Dr. Stanley, having done this, suffers no inconvenience, is hired by Hopkins, and now, in Singapore where apparently medical standards are lower, sells himself online as a product of Johns Hopkins. While I apparently am blacklisted by the medical profession.

Best regards,

Fred”

No response.

Anyway, this is why the typos, and why I expect that I will shortly have to give up the column.

Write Fred at [email protected] Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Medicine 
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A mixed bag. This morning we sallied forth to stock up on the essentials of life in time of plague, such as throat sanitizer–Wild Turkey serves well. In the liquor store, employees wore face masks. At Walmart there was a hand-sanitizer squirter that all had to use before entering, and the PA system exhorted us to viral countermeasures, but the checkout people did not wear masks. In most of Lakeside, bars and restaurants were closed, but in Chapala a couple of waterfront restaurants loudly were not. In Guadalajara there are hand wipes to use before entering big stores, six foot spaces in checkout lines, and employees masked like highwaymen. Also gloves. .

As I write–I am not going to try to keep up– Johns Hopkins says the US has 76,000 confirmed cases, and Mexico, a bit north of 500. At least one White Nationalist site celebrates the closing of the border as an admirable measure to prevent infection by an abominable Third World country. Which abominable Third World country, I wonder, is infecting which?

Still, all in all, it doesn’t look good. The virus is here. In East Asian countries governments can make decisions and the people will abide by them for the common good but Western individualistic confusocracies seem unable to do this. And Mexico is not remotely prepared for massive numbers of the badly sick.

Up north, in the headwaters of exceptionalism, chaos reigns. How is this? I don’t know. It seems to me that the United States thrashes in a severe case of Incremental Third-Word Creep, hereinafter ITWC. Remember when the country built astonishing airplanes like the SR-71, sent men to the moon, and had a government distinguishable from that of Guatemala? Uh, what happened?

COVD 19 Testing Blunders Cripple US Response

WASHINGTON – A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.

President Donald Trump assured Americans early this month that the COVID-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “perfect” and that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” But more than two months after the first U.S. case of the new disease was confirmed, many people still cannot get tested.”

Trump was either lying or ignorant of what was going on in America. Maybe he had more-important things to think about.

By contrast, South Korea is producing 350,000 tests per day, will ramp up to a million.

ITWC began at least as far back as Katrina. The world looked on astounded as the planet’s richest and Most Exceptional Country spent months swinging wildly about to little effect, unable to do anything quickly or, often, at all. Meanwhile the looting went on, ignored because of who was doing it. How did this happen?

ITWC likewise appeared after the Puerto Rico hurricane, also mismanaged, but the Creep is not limited to disastrous disaster response. Lockheed-Martin is mother to the F-35, a dismal aircraft with an unending supply of birth defects. Boeing gave us the 737 MAX, which it knew to be dangerous and sold anyway. Now it seems that other Boeing models are peddled with debris in their fuel tanks. What could be a better idea? Why didn’t Airbus think of this?

And when the US does make virus test-kits, they don’t work. A few decades back America would have been the world’s leader in plague response. Now it receives charity from–Russia and China?

Huge shipment of donated COVID-19 test kits, masks moves through Memphis”

From Jack Ma of China’s Alibaba. It seems that the Baffled Galactic Superpower can’t make masks. These immensely complex intricacies consist of a piece of cloth and a few strings. Puzzled, America turns to China. Did Trump say thanks?

Incremental Third-World Creep, I tell you.

It isn’t just America that receives help from the grownup countries to the East:

Earlier this week a delegation of Chinese medics arrived at Malpensa airport near Milan from Shanghai on a special China Eastern flight carrying 400,000 masks and 17 tons of equipment. The salutation banner the visitors rolled out on the tarmac, in red and white, read, “We’re waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.”

In Washington, Congress engages in a dynamic program of linger, loiter, dawdle, and fumble, but vows to employ “quantitative easing” to save the corporations and banks. The proper term is “counterfeiting.” (Anyway, what linguistic vandal came up with “quantitative easing”? It has a dort of bathroom ring to it.)

Now you, gentle reader, being a financial naif, as am I, might ask, “Instead of just printing money, and hoping nobody catches on, why not take funds from some bloated and useless money sump run by scamps, perhaps one associated with explosions in other people’s countries, and thus pay for the bailout with real money?”

Charity of the sort of aid flowing from the East will have consequences. The entire planet except for Israel and American conservatives is sick of America and its constant bombing, bombing, bombing, invading, sanctioning, tariffing, embargoing, threatening, attempting to destroy economies, and murder of officials. When the plague finally ends, Italy (et al) will remember plane load after plane load of supplies from eastwards, and that America provided nothing.

And that America blocked delivery of medicines and respirators to Iran. President Pompeo is a goddam monster, pulling Vice President Trump’s need-for-masculinity strings, and Pompeo is the face America presents to the world. Pop quiz. What country will Italy (and the others) regard as the desirable ally?:

Just checked John the Hop. One hundred thousand plus and climbing. Excuse me. I am going to sanitize my throat.

Write Fred a [email protected] .

Put the letters “pdq” anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Coronavirus, Mexico 
A Peek into the Drains
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As you cross the Fourteenth Street Bridge from Arlington into Washington on a sunny spring day, the vista is magnificent, uplifting. Huge blue sky, brisk wind, the broad brown river flashing in the sunlight. As a portal to the capital of a world empire, it is suitable, even convincing. This new Tiber is at the confluence of the Rio Bravo, Orinoco, and Nile, which has its implications, but never mind. The streams of tourists debouching from the bridge into Georgetown think themselves in the new Rome, a beguiling conurbation of power and glory.

Not everywhere. Amid the blank buildings and empty night somewhere near P Street, a cop finds a blonde woman of maybe forty crawling on the sidewalk. In jeans and sweatshirt, she hugs the rest of a bottle of Jim Beam. She has profusely wet her pants. She sees the cop and says no, no in alarm and begins sprinting for a nearby alley–sprinting to the extent that one can on all fours while clutching a bottle. Blind drunk and nursing a cirrhosis aborning.

The cop walks on. Arresting her would clog the jails, the judge would let her out on recog, and the next night she would be with another bottle. This will not go on forever. She has obvious motor problems and does not crawl well.

In many ways unseen by awed tourists, the city resembles that of Juvenal in corruption, mendacity, and vice. There is the undercity, mostly black, in districts never walked by provincials, angry, hopeless, ready to burn, baby, burn. There is the overcity, discreet behind closed doors, of pols and lobbyists, avaricious, with its Chivas and lines of white powder. The tourists see the middle city of bureaucrats and bartenders and, on the Capitoline, maybe a fleeting glimpse of Newt Gingrich or Mitch McConnnell. “Barb, look, it’s…I think…yes, it’s Newt.”

Occasional fissures appear in the armor of the elite. We now learn of the monied and powerful who thronged to Epstein’s island to frolic in pedophilic lubricity, Bill and Hillary among them. My gracious, the little sweetties would do anything…Is this not purest Caligula?

Ah, the island, shhhh! Here were luscious succulents of sixteen, nymphets fit for the amusement of jaded pols. Yes, nymphettes reconstituted as virgins every morning, their chastity a renewable resource, like the liver of Prometheus. Libido candy, fantasy fodder, worthy to satisfy a British prince. Which they did. Was it Andrew or Charles? I cannot keep them straight, but the Lolitas could. That after all was their job. They were good for a romp on the workbench under hidden cameras, thus fortifying relations between Buckingham Palace and Mossad. There is nothing like video of royalty and underage ginch to clinch a desired treaty with Tel Aviv. Especially so if the princeling has a taste for the more exotic disciplines.

But the yearning public will never know since Epstein, a man of six feet, hanged himself from a bedstead two feet from the floor–or was it three? Presumably by standing on his head.

The understanding of Washington peddles daily on the lobotomy box to the lobotomized of Middle America is properly charming. For example there is Connecticut Avenue lovely over forested Rock Creek Park. Or we see well-swept Capitoline Hill, old and aristocratic. It is as yet only lightly hunted over by predatory black gangs, gathering and hunting. There, in Lincoln Park, Abe in statuary perpetually frees the slaves, which of course he didn’t, but the pols and politically correct control history. All is wholesome.

The public is not invited to see long rows of abandoned Victorian homes, windows boarded over, or whole developments with orifices mostly bricked up and, within, filthy mattresses stained with things better not thought about. There are old needles and remnants of the traditional banquet of shooting galleries, Night Train bottles and empty cans of Vienna sausages.

No. Here is the seat of Empire. All must be seemly. It is only fitting. In the interest of propriety we hide the better class of vice, the suited agents of the arms industry carrying valises of money for waiting congressmen. We hide the crack whores ugly as the corpses they will soon be, and the occasional dead body of an unsuccessful purveyor of drugs. Free enterprise is not without risk.

Across the dark city in Southwest, on Half Street if memory serves, a down-demo gay bar throbs like…never mind. It is small, isolated, an old wooden building. Southwest is not a place where you would see a suburban family with 2.1 perfect children and a Volvo. Macho Man by the Village People thumps from the juke. On the bar a buff and hirsute fag who looks like Sergeant Rock the Killer Marine is dancing naked and teabagging all who volunteer for this service. Which many do. A pair of outrageous queens mince and prance and lisp like Castillian gentry. In the men’s room–there is no other–a gorgeous, slender, nicely curving redhead in a cocktail dress bats her eyes at the urinating inverts. Whether she is a pre-op transexual , a really good TV, or already done isn’t clear. She could pass in any night club in Rome.

In the clean sweep of Connecticut Ave above the Park, prosperous office scum float atop the hidden city, well-dressed, lawyers and office serfs chattering in shi-shi restaurants of the stock market and who is paying what to buy votes in Congress for what legislation. The Indispensable Country never sleeps, not anyway until the bars close.

It is more like Rome than most know. Many blocks away in Shaw, come night, a black transvestite of 230 pounds waits in the bushes. He is built like a running back and wears a thong bikini and size 15 high heels. He is soliciting customers for…it is better not to ask for what.

A passing police car ignores him. Arresting him would entail paperwork, an important consideration near the end of a shift. Besides, the car would smell for days.

Further off, skanks in plastic miniskirts lean against lamp poles, offering a quick-and-dirty stand-up in an alley for twenty bucks. Commerce cannot be crushed, even in Washington.

Around the dogleg on Pennsylvania Avenue the President watches himself on television into the small hours. He is advised by Ivanka, the Palace Athena, who has written of the UK as “the United Kingston.” Athenas these days are not what they were. Her father, Trump Pater, may be a hybrid of Nero and Clarabelle the Clown, but at least he likes big girls.

Across Connecticut from the entrance of the Zoo is a small restaurant that once was a blues bar but has degenerated into a nocturnal hangout for the squalling stupid, chiefly recent graduates of University Shaped Places dedicated to extracting money from the unwise by means of debt slaveery. They talk loudly and vulgarly, the boys coxcombs and the girls honking through their noses like poorly played kazoos. Should the city be attacked by another Hannibal, whom they would think of as Lecter, perhaps they would rush manfully, or personfully, out and smite the invaders with mighty blows of weighty smartphones. My guess is that they would hide under the tables.

Off Dupont Circle in an old brownstone, Black Rose, the local S&M club, holds a party. Under the federal log many things scuttle. A guy, nekkid as a jaybird, is attached to chains dangling from the ceiling while his girlfriend, a nice looking blonde in a catwoman suit, whacks him with a riding crop. Perhaps she is a descendant of Messalina, who was said to have such tastes. No one pays attention. They instead stand around with drinks and talk of bond prices. This is hobbyist kink, played at by people who have known each other for years. They are bureaucrats, legislative assistants, upper middle class but not Congressmen, who do such things more discreetly.

 
In Action, I Meant to Say --- Same Thing
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Oh God. Oh God. We are down to Biden. I think. Bad. Bad. But maybe no worse than any of the other dwarves and surreal curiosities offering themselves as our managers Look, if you can bear it, at what we started with. Two billionaires, three women, two Jews, a black, a self-proclaimed Indian, two threshold octogenarians in mid petrification, an advocate of busing, a poofter, and an utterly unqualied small-town mayor with the additiona electoral handicap of being documentably intelligent. It’s nuts. What are we doing? At Biden’s age he probably had trilobites as house pets. Never mind, though, as he probably can’t remember them.

The only one fit to be seen in public with was Tulsi Gabbard, but she was a threat to military budgets and so snuffed like an unwanted candle.These frightening candidates have dropped out like rotten peaches from a tree until Stochastic Joe is the only dropping left undropped Oh help.

Lurking in the wings is Hillary, like some terrifying bat hanging by her feet in a cavern below the DNC. A bat with theropod instincts. I tell you, I am going to move to Mexico..

Are we daft? A nuclear-armed country of three hundred twenty-seven million with more problems than people, in desperate need of leadership, In the grip of an epidemic yet unable to design a virus test, and this dreck is the best we can do? You could find better in a New York bus station at three a.m. Maybe we should look there.

Meanwhile, in the Great Doublewide on Pennsylvania Avenue? Pompeo, an ambulatory clot of malign suet, apparently with a pudgy boy’s manhood problem, who wants war with Iran. The country is decaying like a corpse in August, everything going wrong, declining technologically, infrastructure antiquated–and we need a war with Iran. Why didn’t I think of that?

Mike Pence, a lethally boring Christian heretic who thinks he is about to be sucked up to heaven in the Rapture. We can only hope. As I understand it, the Rapture seems to be a theological vacuum cleaner, schloop. Perhaps he can advise God on avoiding The Virus.

And of course the gorgeous grand guacamaya hisself, the head parrot, golden-haired and baffled, who fluffs his plumes and talks like a confused child of twelve. In these transgender days, he may lay eggs.

Think Kaiser Bill’s court invited partying in Caligula’s basement.

But back to Fingers Joe the Geriatric Groper, cause for all to hide their daughters, who seems to teeter on the raw edge of senility and lies about how he hugged Nelson Mandela and marched in the civil rights movement. Yeeesh. Only in America does electing a dementia patient seem reasonable. And maybe it is, giver the alternative.

I mean seriously, think about it. The man apparently is suffering from Alzheimer’s, or at least Somesheimers and waiting for the rest. This is documented to the roots of its teeth. Yes. The Democrats are trying to elect a genuine, diagnosable empty skull and the Republicans want to stay with the Pompeo Posse of Ragheard Killers.

Are we kidding, I hope? These inverts, losers, clowns and embarrassments are going to play grrr-bowwow-woof with grownups like Putin and Xi Jinping?

Oh, I forgot. Elizabether “Tonto” Warren who seems to have traded her feathers and tomahawk for third-grade economics. Taken together, remind me of nothing so much as the debating society of a land-grant high school.

If Burbling Joe gets the nod, who will be the Veep? Will Hillary come flapping down with codpiece bulging? After all, she did get the popular vote the last time around.

None of these, note, is running on competence. It’s more like a competitive freak show. Maybe all of them will win. Americans don’t want competence. They want someone who isn’t threatening. Thus the Republicans work the Deplorable pump handle, Mekkamerkagrettagain!, while the Democrats open the googoo spigot fullbore, Everything free! Twice as free for the nonperforming!

Well then, how about Congress? The cream of democracy, right? Profound minds, products of the Enlightenment, just like Jefferson and Madison and Franklin, no?

No.

A friend in a position to know estimates that ninety percent of the Senate doesn’t know where Burma is. The Senate is supposed to be up-demo, aristocratic, and scholarly, not like the rabble in the 435-member bus station. They don’t know where freaking Burma is? You know, the house that does, like, foreign policy?

Thing is, the whole journalistic establishment colludes to hide the blank ignorance of much of Congress, and their own. It’s a set-up. Reporters ask, “Senator, what do you think of Afghanistan?” To which he answers, “Well, I think we need to reassess our options and consider alternative strategies that will enhance national security and foster democracy.”

Oh.

They do not ask, “Senator, where is Afghanistan?” or “What is the population of Russia? Can you name the countries littoral to the Caspian Sea? Can you tell us why this might be important?”

The public? Says the National Science Foundation, 26% of the public think the sun goes around the earth, 74% can’t name the three branches of government. The Education Department says that 14% can’t read, which means that a hell of a lot more don’t.

Isaac Asimov nails it: ““There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

Exactly. If we actually wanted to essay democracy in America, which we don’t, we would mandate a voting age of twenty-five and require a literacy test. Fifty questions, published in advance. As lagniappe we might demand some minor evidence of good character, even to the extreme of elimiinating those convicted of armed robbery, rape, drug dealing. Don’t hold your breath. That curious Pelosi woman wants to enfranchise children of sixteen.

It really doesn’t matter. American democracy, as we curiously persist in calling it, is as finely designed as a Swiss watch to keep the national reins in the hands of reliable hacks. Biden, Warren, Bloomberg, Clitler should she run again, or Pence or Pompeo, or any number of collusive footsoldiers. These would make appropriate noises about trivial issues like abortion, gun control, and the pressing question of transgender confused. They would also do what they were elected to do: protect the military budget, waffle on the wars, prevent investigation of Wall Street, and collaborate with the big corporations in fleecing the public. This, beyond doubt, we will get.

Write Fred at [email protected]

Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

 
Possibly Interesting Response to a Reader
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Over the years I have written columns about the growing doubts among scientists and mathematicians over aspects of Darwinian evolution. The fury aroused among the faithful has been intense and often personal, the doubts being called “ridiculous” but with no explanation of why they are ridiculous. These assertions are frequently, but not always, made by people who couldn’t tell toluene from the Taj Mahal. The following, for what if anything it is worth, is a response I wrote to an internet acquaintance whom I will call Derek.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Derek,

Since you have attacked me harshly and even insultingly for my doubts about what might be called doctrinaire evolutionism’s official story, perhaps you will permit me to defend myself.

I note that your castigation of me has been devoid of substance, being partly ad hominem (“Fred, you are just a retired reporter….”), partly crowd-sourced appeal to authority (“Ninety-nine point nine percent of biologists agree….”), and partly rank-pulling (“I hold the following imposing degrees from Berkeley, an imposing university….”)–none of these degrees, I note, related to evolution.

Should not a conversation on evolution deal with evolution rather than the personal virtues and defects of those conversing? And I am not clear just how you know regarding which matters I have, as you say, “absolutely no knowledge,” but there are many of these and I presume you have your sources.

But to the matter at hand:

Perhaps I err, but I do not believe that science can best be advanced by refusing to examine it. Had this approach been followed in the past, we would still believe in epicycles and the spontaneous generation of mice (as we now believe in the spontaneous generation of all life). The angry dismissal of questions seems to have less in common with science than with religious fanaticism, the more distant shores of Marxism, and conspiracy theories. I will add that in decades of journalism I have noticed that the intensity of outrage at the questioning of a belief is inversely proportional to confidence in the belief. It is not necessary to defend the invulnerable.

It is not true that virtually all biologists accept orthodox evolutionism. The ideas you deride in my writing are of course chiefly not mine. They are those of the substantial and growing number of highly qualified men who question Darwin. Many of them hold doctorates in the evolutionary sciences from such places as CalTech and Cambrigde and have done decades of research at these or similar institutions. Many have written books. From previous correspondence I gather that it is not your practice to read things that you might disagree with (I apologize preemptively if I am wrong) but I can give suggestions if you will make an exception. Perhaps obtusely, I adhere to my prejudice that it is unseemly to dismiss as ridiculous books that one has not read and ideas that one has not encountered.

That doubts arise regarding Darwin is not surprising since the theory when propounded was more a philosophical idea than a scientific principle, and based on almost nothing, which is how much was known of the relevant cell biology. The 161 years since the publication of The Origin is an awful long time for a scientific theory to go unquestioned. In that period physics suffered (among other astonishments) the Michaelson Morley experiment, special relativity, general relativity, the wave-particle duality, the EPR paradox, and quantization of light. In astronomy, the red shift, the 4K background, pulsars, black holes and all sorts of other things. Biology became a field that would have been unrecognizable in 1859. Why should evolution, uniquely among the sciences, enjoy an almost religious aura of infallibility?

I plead not guilty to the arrogance you charge me with. Most of what I have written on evolution consists of questions. A question is an admission of ignorance. How is that arrogant? Permit me an example:

Evolution proceeds by incremental, viable steps from earlier forms. (Is this not so? Am I misstating?) Today’s cells employ three nucleotides per codon, providing 64 permutations to code for 20 aminos, control codons, and some redundancy. (Is this not so?)

My question: from what simpler, viable system can this have evolved? From two nucleotides per codon, allowing coding for sixteen aminos with no control codons?

If no transition from two to three can be adduced, then how did the current system come about?

This is a clear and simple question about a simple and universally well understood coding system, probably taught in high-school biology. If you think the question stupid, tell me why it is stupid. Otherwise, please answer it clearly, or have a specialist of your acquaintance do so, whereupon I will stop asking. But if you do not answer, I will ask why it is not a clear case of irreducible complexity.

I offer the foregoing example because it is unambiguous and does not lend itself to evasion. But a great many other questions, quite fascinating, exist regarding the Ediacaran biota, the Calmbrian phyla, the Chengjiang Maotianshan shales, intraflagellar transport, the various protein fractions of sequence space, DGRNs, multiple simultaneous mutations, and the countless examples of what seem clearly to be irreducible complexity from Behe’s famous bacterial flagellum on.

You say that I am not an evolutionary biologist. I am not. i know no one who is. And as we have had pounded into our heads, A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring. On this basis only PhDs would be permitted to write and only on their subjects, not a particularly practical arrangement. You write on many subjects in which you have no formal expertise. We all do. But of course the warning is most wisely made against those going beyond the limits of their knowledge.

For example, while I am not a trained classicist, and you are, in a column I could name (though I am not sure why I would) the members of the Second Triumvirate or the competitors for the throne after the death of Nero, without going beyond the bounds of my competence. These are simple and uncontested facts within the purview of anyone who reads. By contrast, if I waded into the deep waters of classical controversy, such as whether Claudius really was pulled from hiding by Praetorians and made emperor against his will, or whether this story was concocted to keep him from seeming an usurper in a city still unhappy with the demise of the Republic, I would be going far beyond my competence. So I don’t do it. In short, the foundations of most fields are accessible to anyone bothering to open a book. A deep understanding is not.

So with technical subjects. If I were to write (God knows why) that vector cross products, being determinants, are not commutative, or that rotaxanes have been considered as bistable devices for computation, or that pH is the negative logarithm of the hydronium ion concentration, or mention the difference between Shannon information and specified information, or say that thrashing is what happens when the domain of a loop crosses a page-frame boundary, or other such basic stuff, I could do so with confidence though I am not a

mathematician, chemist, information theoretician, or professional programmer. But I do not pretend to be any of these. Most of the things mentioned above are the stuff of introductory undergraduate courses.

The same reasoning holds for the evolutionary sciences. For example, I certainly make no claim to authority in biochemistry. The little I know comes mostly from having read a single book, University Biochemistry, which is at the Dick and Jane level for a biochemist, presumably an undergraduate text. I do not doubt that you, being of a technical background, know vastly more than I do.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Creationism, Darwinism 
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.


Personal Classics
Not What Tom Jefferson Had in Mind
Sounds Like A Low-Ranked American University To Me
Very Long, Will Bore Hell Out Of Most People, But I Felt Like Doing It
It's Not A Job. It's An Adventure.
Cloudy, With Possible Tidal Wave