Saturday, December 2, 2023

Saturday Snippet: Ghosts of the Old West


Holly Messinger appears to be a quirky, hard-to-pin down writer who's also into costume, Kung Fu and sundry other bits and pieces.  Her Web site is called "The Literary Assassin", which is quirky in itself.  She sounds like an interesting person.

I recently came across her "supernatural Western" novel (to coin a phrase), "The Curse of Jacob Tracy".

The blurb reads:

St. Louis in 1880 is full of ghosts -- mangled soldiers, tortured slaves, the innocent victims of war -- and Jacob Tracy can see them all. Ever since Antietam, when he lay delirious among the dead and dying, Trace has been haunted by the country's restless spirits. The curse cost him his family, his calling to the church, and damn near his sanity. He stays out of ghost-populated cities as much as possible these days, guiding wagon trains West with his pragmatic and skeptical partner, Boz. 

Then, just before the spring rush, Trace gets a letter from the wealthy and reclusive Sabine Fairweather. Sickly, sharp-tongued, and far too clever for her own good, Miss Fairweather needs a worthy man to retrieve a dead friend's legacy from a nearby town -- or so she says. When the errand proves far more sinister than advertised, Miss Fairweather admits to knowing about Trace's curse, and suggests she might be able to help him -- in exchange for a few more odd jobs. 

Trace has no interest in being her pet psychic, but he's been searching eighteen years for a way to curb his unruly curse, and Miss Fairweather's knowledge of the spirit world is too tempting to ignore. As she steers him into one macabre situation after another, his powers flourish, and Trace begins to realize some good might be done with this curse of his. But Miss Fairweather is harboring some dark secrets of her own, and her meddling has brought Trace to the attention of something much older and more dangerous than any ghost.

I found the book intriguing.  I'm not a fan of horror (in fact, I refuse to read the genre), and too many supernatural fiction books are way over that boundary line, but this one seems to me to be more balanced, less horrifying and more historical.  At any rate, so far, I'm enjoying it.

Here's the opening to the book.

Miss Fairweather’s Chinese butler showed Trace to the library, which was dark and cavernous, surprisingly masculine. Stuffed animals and birds loomed from the gallery, backlit by the skylights and the rose window at the head of the room. A fire helped dispel the early-March gloom, but Trace was careful not to look into any dark corners. These big old houses tended to hold nasty surprises for him.

“Miss Fairweather will be with you soon,” the Chinese said, bowing.

“Thanks.” Trace worried the brim of his hat in his hands and hoped he wasn’t wasting his time. Usually by this time of year, he liked to have himself and Boz hired on with a supply train or party of settlers headed west, but the railroads stretched out further every year, and there just wasn’t that much wagon traffic headed out of St. Louis anymore. He and Boz had been scratching for work all winter, and this spring looked to be more of the same.

John Jameson at the Seed and Livery hadn’t been able to tell Trace much about Miss Fairweather or what she wanted done. “All I know is she’s English and she’s got money to burn. She bought that old Mannerson place, the one built by the railroad man before he went bust? Renovated the whole thing, but never has anybody in. Doesn’t go out in Society, but I hear she’s got some doings with the medical college. Trying to make them take female students, if you can beat that.”

A glance around the library told Trace something else about her: she was a scholar. The books had a used look about them—cracks in the binding and papers stuffed between the pages. He stepped closer to the nearest shelf, squinting to read the titles, which were wide-ranging and impressive: history, theology, philosophy, medicine. A whole shelf on Spiritualism.

Trace’s mouth curled in distaste. He’d met more than a few tricksters who made their living staging séances, preying like vultures on the emotions of the bereaved. Trace figured if a real dead person ever showed up to one of those productions, the so-called medium would just piss himself, and after that he wouldn’t be so welcome in the fancy parlors.

Light footsteps sounded in the hall, accompanied by the rustling of silk, and Trace turned to see a porcelain doll of a woman enter the library.

She was young, was his first thought. He’d been expecting a withered spinster in black crepe, but this woman was maybe thirty, and seemed younger because of her small stature. She was thin to the point of frailty, with fair hair scraped back from an intelligent, sharp-featured face. Her silk morning gown was steel blue, her eyes as pale and chilly as a November sky.

“Mr. Tracy?” She crossed the Persian carpet and extended a hand to him—palm sideways, like a man. “I am Sabine Fairweather. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

Trace clasped her hand gingerly, conscious of his rough boots, his oilcloth coat over his one good shirt, and the fresh razor scrapes on his jaw. He was used to looking down at people, being well over six feet himself, but she was a dainty little thing—the top of her head barely reached his shoulder. “Pleasure, ma’am.”

“Please, be seated.” She indicated the big leather club chairs on either side of the fireplace, and crossed to the liquor cabinet. “Would you care for a Scotch?”

“That’d be fine, ma’am,” he said, mildly surprised at being offered liquor by a lady at eleven in the morning. She poured each of them a half inch and handed a glass to Trace before perching on the chair opposite him. “Mr. Jameson tells me you were at seminary before the war?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s right.” The whiskey was wonderful, smooth and spicy, and against his better judgment he imagined what a pleasure it would be, to spend an evening in this library with a glass and a book.

“That must make you unusually educated, among your fellows,” she said. “I suppose you read Latin?”

“It’s been awhile, but yes ma’am, I do. Latin and French, a little Greek, a little Hebrew.”

“How many trips to the west coast have you made?”

“Only got out to the coast a couple of times—once to Portland and once to Tacoma. Most of the trips I make are shorter—Montana, Santa Fe.”

“As a guide?”

“Guide, trail boss, security.” His smile twisted. “Most of the folks goin by wagon these days are headed off the beaten path. They’re payin for protection more than my knowledge of Latin.”

“Protection from what?”

“Indians. Outlaws. Their own foolishness.”

That was perhaps not a tactful thing to say, but Miss Fairweather seemed amused. “And do you find it rewarding, championing fools?”

Trace shot her a wry glance. “Well, it doesn’t pay as well as you’d think.”

She acknowledged that with a smile, which lent a fey quality to her sharp features. “Mr. Jameson mentioned you had a young sister at St. Mary’s. Is she your only family?”

If a man had asked him that question, Trace would have asked why he wanted to know. But he supposed a woman in her position—alone, interviewing men like himself—found it reassuring to know she was hiring a family man. “Pretty near. Got a brother in the army, but he’s looked out for himself, since our folks died.” Warrick was a captain at Fort Leavenworth, last Trace had heard. They hadn’t spoken in eight years.

“Well, Mr. Tracy.” Miss Fairweather turned to set her glass on the end table. “I’m sure you would like to know why Mr. Jameson referred you to me.”

“Jameson’s good for throwin work my way.”

“Indeed. I told him I needed a trustworthy man to fetch some property for me. It amounts to a glorified errand, but I need someone reasonably intelligent, capable of discretion.”

“Pleased to be at your service, ma’am.” His curiosity had turned cautious; he hoped she didn’t mean to involve him in some sort of swindle.

“I received a letter, from the solicitor of a dear friend of mine who passed away last year. In her will she made reference to a keepsake she wished me to have, but unfortunately my health prevents me from traveling to retrieve it.”

“How far is it?” He didn’t want to get too far away from St. Louis; he still hoped to get on with a wagon party for the year.

“Sikeston, Missouri. Not far by your standards, perhaps. I’ll pay you two hundred dollars, half in advance and half upon completion.”

Trace nearly choked on the Scotch. Two hundred dollars was five or six months’ pay for the average cowhand. His half would pay Emma’s board and tuition for another term, square him with the livery, and give both of them a little pocket money. “I’m agreeable, ma’am, so long as you give me the particulars of what I’m bringin back, so I can rent a wagon if need be.”

“Oh, no, nothing like that. It’s a box. A trinket box, such as we ladies keep things in. I believe I left the letter on my desk, here…” She rustled away across the long carpet, toward the monumental desk under the rose window. She returned with a folded packet in her hand. “The particulars, as you say, are in there. Would you care for a cigar?”

“Ah, no, ma’am, thank you.” That was an odd question, in his opinion; he hoped he didn’t seem so uncouth that he’d smoke in the presence of a lady. He took the heavy, smooth papers from her hand and folded them open to reveal a fine copperplate script: To whom it may concern … be it herewith known by these … bequeath to Miss Sabine Fairweather …

“Oh, please don’t demur on my account.” She walked to the cabinet again and picked up a wooden casket, inlaid with ivory. “I have always enjoyed the aroma of a good cigar. And these are very fine, I understand. My father’s colleagues always appreciated them.”

Now he couldn’t refuse without offending her. Trace glanced into the velvet-lined box and the sharp smell of tobacco teased his nostrils. They were good cigars. He took one, allowed her to trim the end of it, and let his attention fall back to the paper as she turned to the fireplace for a light.

… One rosewood box by description five inches in length by three inches in breadth by three inches in depth … To be collected by Miss Sabine Fairweather or her appointed agent—

She was coming back with a small iron salamander in her hand, the tip of it glowing hot. He raised the cigar, smiling politely; she was smiling politely, but there was something in her gaze, curiosity perhaps, and she opened her mouth to ask a question at the same time as the iron dipped in her hand—

Pain seared the inside of his wrist. He jerked and dropped the cigar, just managed not to swear out loud. Miss Fairweather started back with a cry of dismay as the smell of burnt flesh rose between them.

“Oh my goodness, how could I have been so clumsy! Mr. Tracy, I do so apologize!”

She set the salamander quickly on the hearth and spun back to grasp his palm in her own, pushing back his sleeve to examine the burn. It was a small, sizzling half circle below the butt of his thumb, angry red and stinging like a bastard.

“I am so very sorry. Please, let me call for Min Chan to treat that.” She crossed to the doorway and pulled the bell cord.

“It’s nothin, ma’am,” Trace said, annoyed but trying to be gracious in the interest of employment. “I’ve had worse brandin calves.”

“But not at my hand,” she said. “Please, let me fetch some salve. I won’t be a minute.”

She hurried away. Trace got up and paced, shaking his hand and folding back his coat sleeve so the oilcloth wouldn’t rub it, amazed at the carelessness of the woman. He’d had the impression she wasn’t half stupid, but now he wasn’t so sure.

He sensed a presence enter the room and spun around, expecting Miss Fairweather or the Chinese, but the new visitor was a pretty colored girl in a white apron and cap. She dropped a curtsy. “Can I get you anything, sir?”

“No, I don’t need anything,” Trace said irritably, and then stopped cold, his throat thickening with revulsion.

The girl was semi-transparent. Trace could see the brass gleam of the doorknob through her chest. She smiled at him, but her features were vague and blurred, as if he were seeing her through a warped pane of glass. She clearly had no idea she was dead.

This was why he didn’t like being in town too long. Too many old houses, too many buried secrets that wouldn’t stay down. Even the harmless ones, like this slave girl, made the hair stand up on his arms and neck, as if the devil were breathing down his collar.

He touched the crucifix that hung against his breastbone, through his shirt, and muttered under his breath, “Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversae…”

She didn’t seem to hear, but they often didn’t. She stood there smiling, hands twisted in her apron, becoming more transparent with every thud of Trace’s heart, until she was gone.

He took a deep, slow breath, and worked his shoulders to ease the tension of fear up his neck. His burned wrist scraped against oilcloth. “Damn it,” he hissed, more in embarrassment than pain.

Miss Fairweather’s silk skirts rustled in the hall. She came into the room carrying a small jar and a bit of white cloth. “I hope you will trust my nursing skills. I make my own salve and I find this to be quite beneficial … Why, Mr. Tracy, whatever is the matter? Are you unwell?”

He flinched at the sound of her voice, which was far too bright, as if she’d walked in on a tea party instead of a surly would-be employee.

“I’m fine,” he said shortly. “I’d be appreciative of that salve, though.”

She came closer, pale eyes keen on his face, her whole frame intent on some devilry. “You weren’t disturbed at all, while I was gone?”

Trace stared at her. For half a heartbeat he wondered if she’d expected him to see … but no, she couldn’t have known about his curse. Everybody who’d had that knowledge was long dead.

But then, everybody knew somebody who’d seen a ghost or visited a haunted place. The Spiritualist craze only encouraged that kind of nonsense. She might well know her library was home to something unearthly, but that didn’t mean she knew about him.

“No,” he said. “Didn’t see a living soul.”

She's written several other books, but doesn't seem to write in series format.  I hope she'll bring out a sequel to this one.


Friday, December 1, 2023



There was an unusual traffic accident near Cleveland, OH yesterday.

A stretch of highway in Ohio was closed Thursday morning when a crash involving two semi trucks covered the roadway in boxes of chocolate and caramel.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said the two trucks collided about 6 a.m. Thursday on westbound Interstate 90 in Lake County.

One of the trucks spilled its load of chocolate and caramel candy into the roadway, prompting officials to direct traffic off the highway.

There's more at the link.

Here's what the cleanup looked like.  The video is silent, so don't adjust your speakers' volume.  Note the color of the road surface.

I bet cleaning up that lot was a nasty, sticky mess, particularly as it congealed on the road surface in the freezing temperatures.  Driving on that stuff must be a nightmare!


Inflation and hard times: we're all in this together


I've written often about inflation and its perils, most recently twice this month.  As I pointed out earlier, we're facing an effective 30% per year inflation rate as consumers, and some of us in more costly areas are staring closer to 50% in the face - and there's no relief in sight.

That's making life very difficult for many of us, including yours truly.  Kim du Toit examines his own situation, and is Not. Happy.

It’s a little sad.  I’ve always wanted to be, or at least stay in the middle class.  Screw the Commies and their lickspittles who sneer at the “bourgeoisie” and their “bourgeois values”;  I’m proud to espouse those values, if they mean things like hard work, a modest lifestyle, good education and aspirations to, well, just live comfortably.

But it seems that recently ... I’m no longer in that class.  Instead, I’m now working class.  And the realization thereof came to me as I was reading this article:

If things are hard for you and your family right now, please understand that you are not alone. Most of the country is in the exact same boat.

No kidding. We are managing — but only just — to keep our heads above water;  but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

In a desperate attempt to maintain their middle class lifestyles, millions upon millions of Americans have been taking on debt like never before, and as a result we are now facing an unprecedented consumer debt bubble.

We haven’t had to resort to that, with some very small exceptions, simply because we’ve cut back hugely on anything we consider non-essentials. But as costs of everything, especially essentials, have rocketed upwards, what that means is that we can’t pay down our small credit card debt to the extent we want, to where we can pay them off altogether.

. . .

I’m telling you because I am not the only one going through this.  I can’t help feeling that there’s an air of desperation in the air, because if I’m feeling it, there are probably thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people in similar circumstances to mine.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

The thing is, there is no short-term political solution to this.  Re-electing President Trump won't solve the problem, because Congress and the Senate are addicted to tax-and-spend policies.  Both parties, the Republicans as much as the Democrats, are to blame for the economic mess we're in:  and we, as voters and taxpayers, bear part of the blame, because we've benefited from their tax-and-spend policies and have therefore continued to tolerate, in some cases even enthusiastically embrace them.  Some of us (take a bow, Karl Denninger among others) have seen the current mess coming for years, and warned about it, but we're "prophets without honor in our own country".  People don't want to hear about coming hard times, and have turned away from common sense.

If you want to get a very cold, uncomfortable look at where this might end up, read "The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047" by Lionel Shriver.

I don't know why the cover-cited Wall Street Journal review of the book found it "a provocative and very funny page-turner".  It's anything but that to me.  The book is sometimes heavy-handed in its treatment of economic issues (Ayn Rand would probably have loved it), but its analysis of where we might find ourselves in five to ten years' time is absolutely in line with historical cases such as Weimar Republic hyperinflation, of which we've spoken extensively in these pages.  I don't like the book.  It makes me feel very uncomfortable, even threatened . . . but it's far more likely to be accurate in its predictions than many of the feel-good everything's-going-to-be-fine newspaper reports and opinion columns we see all around us today.

Folks, we're all in this boat, whether we like it or not.  Some of us are feeling the pinch harder than others, but we all are to a certain extent, and that's almost certain to get worse, rather more quickly than we'd like.  We have to face facts.  We can't shy away from this any longer, or pretend it isn't happening, or cling to the hope that all we need to do is vote harder and elect the "right people" to make it go away.  Things have gone too far for such an easy fix.

  • We need to already be prepared as far as possible, and if we aren't, we need to get that way as quickly as we can.
  • We need to plan ahead for our own economic circumstances, control our spending (and limit it as far as is possible), and put our savings into something that will hold its value rather than be inflated out of existence.  With effective inflation at 30%+ every year, and interest rates on bank savings accounts paying (at most) about a sixth of that, every day that passes means we lose money.  We - my wife and I - are putting our savings into things that will hold their value and be available when we need them, like emergency food reserves and other preparations for hard times.  Sure, we have an emergency fund, but we're watching its buying power shrink almost by the day.  That's a very uncomfortable reality - and there's the threat of confiscation during a banking crisis, as we saw a few years ago.  Put not your trust in bank accounts.  What's in them can be confiscated at the stroke of a pen, and used to pay off what banks owe.  It happened in Cyprus not long ago, and legislation has already been passed enabling so-called "bank bail-ins" in most first-world economies (including ours).
  • Don't put your faith in precious metals, either.  For a start, you can't eat them.  Sure, they're a great store of value, and I own some for that reason:  but they're not my first line of defense against hard times.  Furthermore, they can always be declared illegal and confiscated by a desperate government.  They did it once before.  There's nothing stopping them from doing it again.
  • Don't trust that your retirement savings will always be there, either.  Quite apart from inflation reducing their value at breakneck speed, they, too, can be confiscated.  There have been proposals to do so for some years now.  Want to bet that, as times get harder, those proposals won't get louder and louder?  I don't.
  • Focus on the small things first.  Get out of debt.  Have enough of your basic needs (clothing, shoes, food, cleaning materials, etc.) to cater for your current situation, and put away more if you can to cope with unexpected emergencies.  Get fitter and healthier.  Be aware of potential security risks to you and yours, and prepare yourself as best you can to deal with them.  Only after you've got all of that right need you worry about the bigger picture, because there's nothing any of us as individuals can do about the bigger picture.

Friends, let's face reality, and deal with it as best we can rather than taking on more debt in a desperate attempt to maintain what used to be our standard of living.  Some will be able to afford to do that.  Most of us won't.  The sooner we face up to that, and start dealing with it, the better.


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Your feel-good story (and video) of the day


The BBC reports:

A bride with a rare disorder affecting her mobility surprised her husband-to-be by walking down the aisle on their wedding day in East Yorkshire.

Carrie Redhead, 27, was born with the digestive condition intestinal lymphangiectasia, or Waldmann's disease, which causes the loss of special proteins from sufferers' intestines.

Two years ago her condition deteriorated, leaving her having to use a wheelchair.

But at their wedding ceremony in Faxfleet in October, her fiance, Joel Redhead, had no idea she was determined to walk down the aisle.

With a video of Mrs Redhead's walk having now been viewed online millions of times, she says she wants to inspire and empower people facing similar situations.

The BBC's own video is at the link, but I can't embed it here.  Here's another news report that I found on YouTube, including an interview with the newlyweds.

Amazing courage and determination from the bride.  You can see for yourself in the wedding sequence how her husband had to wipe tears from his eyes as she hobbled towards him on her father's arm.

God bless them both.  May their example help many other people who are facing similar challenges.


Interesting: electronic warfare hides ground activity from satellites


Hans G. Schantz has published a report on Gab illustrating how Russia is trying to jam electronic satellite surveillance of part of its territory.  He writes:

And so on the 24th, the European satellite Sentinel-1 tried to take an image of Sevastopol in the radar range - only then a surprise awaited it.

The Sentinel is equipped with a radar that allows it to form an image of the earth's surface even in conditions of interference. This radar operates at a frequency of 5.405 GHz. Accordingly, any radiation (primarily from military radars) at close frequencies creates interference for the satellite radar.

(Click the image for a larger view)

But in the photo it is clearly not interference from the operation of one or more radars, but the result of the operation of an electronic warfare complex, jamming the radar frequency with counter interference over a huge area.

There's more at the link.

I've had some involvement with electronic warfare (EW) in the past (in a much more primitive form, and now decades out of date).  I've known about EW directed against satellites themselves (the Chinese are pretty far advanced in that field, and although the USA isn't talking about its technology I presume it's at a similar level), but I wasn't aware that EW had advanced to the point where it can "blanket" a ground area (rather than a specific pinpoint target) against space-based electronic surveillance like that.

Since today's satellites use digital electronics rather than film photography or analog technology, such anti-satellite-surveillance EW might render them a lot less useful.  If any readers can point us in the direction of more information (without, of course, compromising its or their security classification), please do so in Comments.  Thanks!


Faith in (belated) action?


I had to laugh at yesterday's "Pearls Before Swine" cartoon.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the comic's Web page.

In the clergy "trade" we used to refer to the "hatch, match and dispatch" crowd - those who would be seen in church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, but at almost no other time.  I think Rat kinda sums up their attitude towards faith:  ignore it until it's absolutely necessary, and then scream for help and hope for the best (and probably sue every church and denomination they can think of in the hereafter if their "faith" fails to bear fruit).

Still, there's nothing wrong with a last-minute plea for mercy.  Who knows?  It might make all the difference . . . assuming you actually have time to make it.  Failing that, "taking care of business" every day is a rather better bet, IMHO.  (If I'm wrong, then my atheist friends are going to be vindicated.  I guess we'll have to wait and see!)


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Too cute!


We often speak of "pink elephants" in regard to what an alcoholic may "see" during his more inebriated moments.  Nevertheless, some baby elephants are, indeed, born pink, although they lose that color as they grow.

A game guide in South Africa had the fun of encountering a mother elephant and her pink baby at a local river.  She videoed the scene.  The elephants are used to tourists and their vehicles, so they're completely unfazed by their presence.

Note the other two elephants in the water with the mother and baby.  They're standing by to help in case any of the local crocodiles decide that baby elephant is on the menu today.  I've seen what happens to crocodiles in such cases . . . it ain't pretty!  When six tons of elephant stands on top of a crocodile, the weight wins!


Tucker Carlson drives home the point


Yesterday we listened to Neil Oliver discussing the immigration dilemma in Ireland and Europe;  how untold numbers of immigrants had poured across borders with little or no control, their presence imposed upon locals by globalist-oriented governments who didn't care about national culture or history.  If you missed that video clip, I highly recommend watching it as soon as you can.

Now Tucker Carlson drives home the same point in a discussion with Steve Bannon.  It's blunt in its analysis, but also entirely correct, IMHO.  Don't miss this one.

The outraged reaction of many Irish to the events of the past weekend is entirely understandable.  What scares the globalists is the thought that such reactions might need to electoral change, as we saw in the Netherlands just last week.  (You can read more about the background to that electoral upset here - it's well worth your time.)  The globalists dare not lose power right now, when they're so close to forcing their views and their policies on the rest of us.  Resistance cannot be tolerated - so they're trying to crack down on it, to rule by decree rather than democracy.  The same is happening in the USA, with the progressive left seeking to politicize the security organs of government and use them against their opponents.

Listen to the Carlson interview all the way through, and don't ignore it.  He and Steve Bannon speak the truth.  If it's taken down by Rumble (from where I embedded it above), you'll find the original on X.


Is deporting unwanted aliens even possible?


In his latest column, Fred Reed goes into detail about the complications that would ensue if the USA decides to deport all those illegals who've flooded over our border during the Biden administration.  He concludes:

I think the consequence of attempting to deport illegals on such a scale would be to throw the country into the worst crisis it has ever experienced without deporting much of anybody. Of course, I have noticed that what I think does not control the workings of the universe, doubtless a cosmic oversight of some sort. Still, it might be a good idea to think things through before undertaking them. Granted, this would be a break with tradition, but a little adventure spices up life.

I'm not going to cherry-pick points from his article, but I do highly recommend that you click over there and read the whole thing.  He's quite right about the difficulties that would be involved - so many of them, and so vast, that they might make the entire project impractical, literally impossible.  It may be that, as far as immigration is concerned, we as a nation have crossed the Rubicon and there's no going back.  I hate the thought - and I'm a legal immigrant myself - but that may be the case.

If you can think of any practical method of achieving the deportation of millions of unwanted illegals, without ripping the country apart in the process, I'd love to hear it.  Please give us details in Comments.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

“If all money becomes worthless, then so does all government, and all society, and all standards”


The title of this article is a quotation from the book "Before the Deluge" by Otto Friedrich, examining the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic in the 1920's, and how that paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler.

It's a very good book, and worth reading.  I may publish an excerpt or two from it in my "Saturday Snippet" series in the not too distant future.

I was reminded of the book when it was cited in an article titled "How Inflation Precipitates Societal Collapse".  Here are a few excerpts.

In the early Republic of Rome, the Roman State engaged in a policy of territorial expansion and with each conquest of a neighboring region the State plundered the defeated empire’s treasury and increased its own hoard. However, after suffering defeat against the Germans in 9 A.D., Emperor Augustus terminated the policy of expansion and the flow of wealth from foreign lands ceased. Augustus, and the emperors who followed, thus faced insufficient revenue. Taxes could only be raised so much without whipping up the sands of revolt, and so, as Joseph Tainter explains:

“When extraordinary expenses arose the supply of coinage was frequently insufficient. To counter this problem, Nero began in 64 A.D. a policy that subsequent emperors found increasingly irresistible.” 

Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies

This policy involved debasing the value of the standard Roman silver coin, the denarius, by infusing it with cheap metals such as copper, and “clipping” both gold and silver coins, or in other words, reducing the size of them. The excess precious metal obtained from clipping and debasing coins was then used to create more coins, and with these newly minted coins the Roman State covered its debts and expenses and fattened the pockets of statesmen and political insiders.

The modern equivalent of this policy is the expansion of the supply of paper, or digital, money. However, whether one debases and clips coins in order to create more coins, prints more paper money, or adds digits to an account held with a central bank, the result is the same – monetary inflation. The quantity of money is increased, and all other things equal, this leads to price inflation and a rise in the cost of living.

. . .

The story of Rome contains often neglected, but important lessons. One of these lessons is that when a government, or banking elite, claims the right to expand the supply of money without limits, it plays with a fire that can quickly spiral out of control and end in economic ruin, revolution, or even outright societal collapse.

There's more at the link.

I recommend reading the article in full, and comparing the historical incidents it describes to what we're seeing from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury in our own time.  The parallels are unmistakeable, and very scary.

I speak from personal experience in dealing with out-of-control inflation.  Not only did I live in a permanently double-digit inflationary economy in South Africa during the 1970's and 1980's, but I was one border away from Zimbabwe and its hyperinflation of the early 2000's.  By then I was living in America, but I'd seen all the precursors to the hyperinflation there during the 1980's and 1990's, and it came as no surprise.  Based on that experience, I predict that unless we radically and quickly change course, we're headed down the same road.  Look at any episode of hyperinflation in history, and compare what caused it then to our economic policies now, and there's no mistaking what's coming.

If anyone says I'm wrong, or the economists who are increasingly drawing attention to those parallels are wrong . . . ask them whether they've studied history.  If they blithely cite "modern monetary theory" instead, you'll know they're charlatans and liars who have no idea what they're talking about.  Listen to those who lived through such times, and learn from them, and prepare yourselves accordingly, to the extent that you can.


Security alert: there are questions about Apple's new NameDrop feature


A surprising number of police departments and other security agencies are issuing warnings about Apple's new NameDrop feature in the latest version of its iPhone operating system.  Here, for example, is what the Oakland County Sheriff's Office in California had to say:


If you have an iPhone and have completed the recent iOS 17 update, they have set a feature called “NameDrop” to default to ON after completing the update.

This feature allows you to share your contact information by being next to another iphone. In that section, you can also limit who can be the recipient of your AirDrop.

To shut this off go to Settings, General, AirDrop, Bringing Devices Together. Change to OFF.

And yes, we know that it allows you to share it and you can refuse but many people do not check their settings and realize how their phone works.  This particular setting defaults to on rather than have you opt in. And again, it is the area where you also decide who can access AirDrop.

PARENTS:  Don’t forget to change these settings after the update on your children’s phones as well.

In response to all these warnings, multiple media and technology resources are claiming that the threat isn't as bad as it seems, and is being overblown.  However, I want to know why the feature is switched on in the first place.  Surely, if it was in any way concerned about security, Apple should have installed the new version of its operating system with the feature switched off, so that users would have to make an informed, conscious decision to turn it on, in full awareness of any security risk that might result?  That, to me, would be the mature, sensible way to do it.  However, I'm not Apple, and the company clearly doesn't see it that way.

Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this particular feature, because I don't use an iPhone.  However, I'm sure someone will bring out something similar for Android phones in the not too distant future . . . so all of us in the non-Apple cellphone universe should learn from this, and be on our guard.


Neil Oliver hits another one out of the park


In his latest commentary, British journalist Neil Oliver points out that the current violence in Ireland - blamed by the Irish government on "far right" activists and extremists - is in fact the direct fruit of that government's allowing almost unlimited immigration over the past few decades.  Ireland has now been swamped by people who owe no allegiance to its history, culture or norms.  The same applies to Britain and to Europe as a whole.  Governments have allowed in so many aliens that their own cultures are in real danger . . . and now they're blaming the "far right" when their own citizens finally come to the point of saying "Enough!" and turning out in protest.

It's precisely the same in these United States, of course.  Almost all recent administrations, Republican as much as Democrat, have allowed illegal aliens to swarm into this country and tolerated their presence.  Some Democrat-controlled cities and states (for example, New York City) are even trying to allow them to vote in "local" elections, ignoring the reality that as soon as they're admitted to a polling precinct, there's little or nothing to stop them voting for the entire slate, national as well as local.  It's precisely the same dynamic at work, and both of our major parties are culpable.  They don't care about America's way of life.  They're concerned only with policies that make money for them, usually by way of lobbyist "contributions to re-election campaigns", or investment tips, or lucrative directorships and other offices that pay them vastly inflated sums in return for voting the way the oligarchs and Big Business want.  The rest of us are completely ignored, and are of no importance in their calculus.

This is a very important video to show to people who haven't yet woken up to reality.  Highly recommended viewing.

Congratulations, readers.  If you believe that only citizens of a country should be allowed to vote on its future leadership, and that immigrants should adapt to its culture rather than be allowed to import their own and impose it on others, you're now by definition a member of the "far right".