Saturday, December 31, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Cats and gods


My friend, fellow writer and blogger Cedar Sanderson writes quirky, entertaining fiction that my wife and I both enjoy.  I'm sure many of you may have read her name in these pages, but not any of her books:  so I thought I'd provide the opening to her first young adult novel, "Vulcan's Kittens", published in 2013, to give you an idea of her style.

She's improved since then, as we all do with experience, but this book (and her second, "Pixie For Hire") have remained among my favorites, thanks to their chatty, simple, folksy style and easy reading.  Also, Cedar grew up and lived for many years in homesteading environments in New Hampshire and Alaska, so she speaks with the voice of experience about many of the settings in which she writes.

This book (and its sequel, "The God's Wolfling") tell the story of Linnea Vulkane, whom we meet as a teenager getting used to an adult world - and the more-than-merely-adult beings that run in her family.

Linnea looked out the tiny window of the tiny plane and marveled at the mountains below it. They had flown out of the Boise airport just a half hour before, but already she could see few signs of civilization below them. Her trip had started out that morning, in the Seattle Airport. She leaned her head against the cool window glass and re-lived the earlier scene with her mother.

“Mom, I’ll be fine. I want you to do this.” She’d insisted.

Her mother had hugged her, and Linnaea had leaned into her comfortable bulk, smelling the scent of lilacs and roses her mother always wore. Theta Vulkane was a renowned photographer, and traveled the world taking pictures of volcanoes and forest fires. But for the last two years she had stayed home with her only daughter. When this assignment had come in Linnaea could see how much her mother wanted to go.

“Dad and I, we had a lot of fun when you were gone. He always wanted you to go. Just because he’s not here...” Linnaea tried to keep her lip from wobbling. She took a deep breath and went on. “I’m sure Grampa Heff can keep me out of trouble.”

“Oh, I know he can. He always kept me from getting into too much. He’s just, well, since your grandmother left, he is sad and a bit cranky.”

“Mom, it’s not like I don’t have your phone number. And a new phone - thank you so much!”

Reminded of that in the present, Linn sat up and pulled it out of her jacket pocket. Her mom had always resisted her getting a phone - no amount of teasing and begging had moved her for the last two years, since she had gone into sixth grade and most of her friends had gotten one. But in the whirlwind of packing and preparation her mother had bought her the latest smart phone and loaded it with games and ebooks. Linn suspected the gift was partly to atone for the abandonment.

She didn’t care though. It was cool. She texted her mother now, making sure she didn’t use text speak. Mom would explode if she did, so she wrote, “Almost there. Flying over Nez Perce Mountains.”

She played a game, and then, bored, switched to her ebooks. Her mom had loaded the Diaries of Lewis and Clark onto it, no doubt hoping that she would get interested in the history of the area her grandfather lived in. Linn decided she would read that later and opened the latest fantasy novel instead. It was really cool, about how the gods of myth and folklore were living among humans and hiding their abilities. She read happily until they were on final approach to the Pierce Airport.

Grampa Heff was waiting for her in the little terminal, which was barely the two rooms needed for TSA regulations. He was leaning on his cane, she noticed. She ran to him and hugged him fiercely, which made him snort and lean into her. He smelled of smoke and apple tobacco, which made her sneeze.

He grinned at her when she finally let go. “Ready for a summer with an old coot?”

“Yep. I’m planning to be bored and whiny already.”

“Oh, I remember your mother at this age. Whew. Her moods could change on a dime.” Linn grimaced. She did that too. Frustrating. She’d talked to Mom about it, and although she understood that partly it was her body and hormones and all that, it was still annoying to start crying for no reason at all. Or yelling at her mother.

“I’ll try to be good, Grampa.”

Despite the cane, her grandfather was as strong as the steel that was his trade. He pitched her bags into the back of the truck and climbed into the cab beside her.

“Want to tool around town before we head up to the farm. Need to pick up some groceries. I also remember how much your mom ate at your age.”

Linn sighed. Her mom wouldn’t let her diet, either. Women in her family were supposed to be all ‘generous curves’ according to her, and no, Linn wasn’t fat at all. No matter what her friends said. She had a pretty good idea of what her grandfather would say if she asked for diet food. She helped shop at the grocery store, a very small place, nothing like the massive city supermarkets she was used to. Her grandfather bought a lot of stuff in bulk.

“We’ll have a garden for veggies,” he explained. “And I have a freezer full of meat, so this is mostly staples for the next month. Your Mom said you like to cook and bake?”

“We aren’t coming back to town for a month?”

“Well, maybe. I don’t come to town much.”

Linn blinked up at him, speechless for a moment. Yes, Pierce was a one-horse town, but the idea of not going anywhere for a month had surprised her. Where she lived in Seattle she could walk to the library, or to meet her friends.

“OK.” She finally said, realizing there wasn’t much to do in Pierce anyway. No wonder her mom had bought the phone for her. And no point in arguing with Grandpa Heff. His stubbornness was legendary.

The ride up to his farm was quiet. Linn spent most of it looking out the window admiring the scenery as they climbed up into the mountains. At one point her grandfather pulled over onto the side of the road and she got out and stared in awe at the perfect meadow of wildflowers in front of her. Her grandfather cleared his throat. “The blue ones are Camas. Kinda gets you, don’t it?”

“Wow, Grampa, it’s so beautiful.”

The field reached out endlessly, it seemed. The flowers were as blue as the sky above them, and for a moment she felt like she was floating between sky and sky. The scattered reds and yellows among the river of blue were like rays of sunlight coming through cracks. The scent of the flowers filled her up and she closed her eyes, savoring the warmth on her face. She looked back, realizing that she’d walked a little way out into the field. Her grandfather just leaned against the truck, his arms crossed and a small smile on his face.

Linn took a couple of pictures and climbed back in the truck. “Thanks, Grampa.”

“Thank you, young lady. Helps me see it fresh again through your eyes.” Without taking his eyes off the road, he reached over and ruffled her hair.

When they pulled into the farmyard the chickens scattered from the truck and then gathered again as soon as the engine was off. Linn hopped out and reached in for her bags, but her grandfather waved her off.

“Got a surprise for you in the barn. See if you can find it.”

Linn started for his small barn. Grampa didn’t keep any large livestock, so the barn was just big enough for a couple goats and their hay. As she got to the sliding doors, she saw the cat sitting on the stump beside them. Sitting upright, tail curled around her toes, she was a very elegant tawny cat.

“Hello, pretty lady.” Linn held out her hand to be sniffed. The cat surveyed her for a moment, and then leaped off the stump to wait at the doors. Linn was surprised at the size of her, fully as tall as her knee. The softly weaving tail, tip hooked like a shepherd’s crook at the moment, reached up to her waist. Linn slid the door open and the cat walked into the dimness of the barn. Linn could smell the sweet hay in the loft. The cat turned back and said firmly “Mew.”

Linn chuckled. “I am coming, Cat.”

The cat ascended to the loft in two swift bounds, one to the top of the stall door and the other to the floor of the loft, easily ten feet above them. Linn was impressed, but stopped to rub the noses of Grandpa’s two Alpine does as they stood in the stall. Then the cat miaowed again, and Linn obediently climbed the ladder to the loft. The cat sat on a bale of hay looking down into a little cavity surrounded by four bales on the floor. Linn looked into it.

“Kittens! Oh, how precious!”

She knelt on the floor and reached over the bale toward them, then hesitated. “May I?” she asked the mother cat. This was a very dignified beast, and very different from the house cats Linn knew at home. The cat curled her paws under her chest and began to purr, eyes half lidded. Linn took this to mean yes, and stroked the top of the nearest kitten’s head.

“You are so soft.” She murmured, not wanting to disturb the sleepy kittens. There were four of them. One black, one calico, and two silvery gray with black spots. They bobbed blind little heads at her and opened little pink mouths in soundless mews, but Linn could see they would be even bigger than their mother, as they were already the size of her two fists put together, and they couldn’t be more than two weeks old.

Linn stroked each of the kittens for a few minutes, marveling at the soft fur and cute round tummies. She stopped when their mother flowed into the nest and wrapped herself around them. The kittens immediately nosed into her teats. Even blind they knew exactly where to go. Linn sighed. This was a very nice surprise.

“Linn? Dinnertime.” Her grandfather sounded like he was calling from the porch.

“Coming, Grampa.” She called back, no longer worried about waking the kittens.

She climbed down the ladder and washed up at the pump between the house and the smithy. Her grandfather had designed the pump and basin to overflow into a koi pond, and she trailed her fingers in it to feel the eager mouths nibble at her.

Dinner was a venison stew and rustic bread. Her grandfather was a good cook. She sighed a little, looking down at her half empty bowl. Her father had been a good cook, too.

After dinner her grandfather pointed to the loft. “Up you go! These old knees can’t do the ladder, but you’ll be sleeping up there this summer, unless you decide to sleep in the barn.”

“Could I?” Linn asked, picturing the kittens.

“Not tonight, but yes. Now bed.”

Linn fell asleep quickly, worn out with her long day of traveling. In the middle of the night, she woke up with the familiar feeling of a crampy stomach. Her period had started. Yuck. She rolled over to get out of bed and then realized that there was someone in the cabin talking to Grampa Heff.

“You do realize you cannot stay out of this forever.” A heavy male voice, dripping with anger and a strange accent.

“We choose to treat Hephaestus as a refuge.” A sibilant and melodious female voice. Linn thought she had a speech impediment.

Linn crawled out of bed, her belly cramps forgotten and slid to the edge of the loft where she could see into the sitting area below. Four figures stood down there in the dimly lit room. The two closest to the door were very big. If they walked under the loft they would have to duck. The one on the couch appeared to be huddled under Grampa’s afghan. Grampa Heff himself was straddling a kitchen chair he had turned backwards and was leaning his crossed arms on the back of it.

“Vulcan - ah, Haephestus, as you prefer. You choose to live unnaturally. We would rather not force you to return with us.”

“I chose to make myself happy, not your lot. And do you recall what happened last time I was forced?”

Linn could see a grimace pass over the man’s face. In the firelight his skin was unusually red, as was his hair. She wondered why Grampa hadn’t lit a lamp.

“I cannot and will not leave here.” The woman on the couch declared, sitting up suddenly. Linn startled as she realized that the woman was a cat... This was her grandfather’s barn cat, talking and sitting on the couch.

The big man stepped toward her, casting his face into shadow. Linn could still hear the sneer in his voice. “Bastet’s Daughter, you are the least of our concerns. Vulcan may take on strays and broken... beings, but we do not.”

“I would not go with you, even without my obligations here.” Grampa interjected.

“Oh, the child.” The man’s dismissive tone made Linn’s blood boil.

“Not just a child. Blood of my blood.”

“Which I’m sure she knows nothing about. To her, you are just a broken-down old smith.”

“Her mother has told her what we are, I am certain.”

“She could not even see me if she were able to wake from the spell I cast over her.”

Linn blinked in surprise. Not only was she wide awake, riveted to the conversation below, but she could see the red man, the cat woman, and the bulk of something else (she was no longer sure it was a man) near the door in the shadows. And as for ‘what she was’... she was a human being. Wasn’t she? Linn remembered her mother once telling her that not all myths and fairy tales were made up. Many of the old tales had a grain of truth in them.

“There are very powerful things in this world of ours, things that most people cannot see or accept if they do see them.” Theta’s voice had gone dreamy, and Linn saw that her eyes were focused somewhere far away. “My family is a powerful one, and you have a little of that power, my sweet. If you see strange things, or feel like you did something you cannot explain, then I will tell you more.”

Linn dragged her attention back to the scene below. Her mother wasn’t there to explain, but she knew who she was going to talk to as soon as their visitors left.

“I think the child will surprise you, Mars.” Grampa Heff’s voice was mild. Linn suddenly caught the connection of names. Mars and Vulcan were gods. Bastet was the cat god of Egypt. Who were these people? Who was her grandfather? Linn felt dizzy even lying flat on the floor.

“In any case,” Her grandfather stood up and Linn could see the fire shimmering through his halo of white hair. She suddenly wondered what color it had been when he was young. “You will leave now. I have no intention of abandoning my work.”

“You will come to Olympus.”

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh, I have ways...” Mars backed out of the door. His unseen bodyguard had already gone out.

Grampa Heff sighed and ran his hands through his hair, making it stand even more on end. He looked up toward Linn. “Come on down, child.”

Lid slid down the ladder. “How did you know?”

He chuckled and hugged her. “I could hear you breathing, little one. How much did you hear?”

Linn realized he was asking her how much she had really understood. “Not much... why did he call you Vulcan? Where did he want you to go? Was he really red?”

Her grandfather laughed. “Vulcan is one of my names, the gods are meeting to arrange the fate of the world and he is indeed, red.”

“The fate of the world? Gods? What?” Her dizzy feeling came back.

“Sit, child.” Bastet’s Daughter, forgotten behind her, reached out a soft and very large paw to pull her down onto the couch. Linn sank down next to the warm bulk of the cat, who was now closer to tiger-sized.

“You grew.” Linn muttered.

The cat laughed.

Grampa Heff smiled. “I think we need to explain, but first, hot cocoa.”

There's your introduction to Linnea's world.  This book and its sequel are free to read via Kindle Unlimited, so if you have a KU subscription, click over to Amazon via the links provided and read the whole thing.  You'll enjoy it.


Friday, December 30, 2022

I'd be embarrassed to place an order like this


Courtesy of an e-mail from a regular reader, we come across this coffee order at Starbucks (click the image for a larger view):

Pretentious?  Check.  Twee?  Check.  Ridiculous?  Check.

I'd be embarrassed to place an order like that, making almost impossible demands on the barista and demonstrating my own sense of entitlement above all else.  What happened to ordering a simple cup of coffee, for heaven's sake?

I suppose it's a worthwhile check for sanity.  If you want to hire someone for your business, take them to a coffee shop and listen to what they order.  If it's anything like the above, drop them like a hot potato!


Why Gab is vitally important in the social media sphere


I've mentioned on several occasions that I'm a member of Gab, the social media network that emphasizes personal responsibility and free speech.  Gab does not censor its users, apart from violations of the laws and constitution of the USA.  It expects its members to clean up their own online environment by blocking or muting voices they don't want to hear.  I do that on a daily basis, whenever I come across anti-Semitic or Nazi sympathizers and/or propaganda.  Their ideas are invalid in the most fundamental sense, and are alien to any Christian worthy of the name:  so I block every one of them that I find, and even some of the borderline cases.  It's up to me to keep my timeline free of their nonsense.  It's not Gab's responsibility, or anyone else's.  That respects free speech and online freedom at one and the same time.

Gab is open and honest about not censoring its members when it comes to lawful speech.  It rejects demands from elsewhere to shut down users who have committed no crime under US law.  Yesterday it did so again.

Gab is going to begin publishing the purely censorship-based inbound requests that we receive from governments. These are the cases where for the most part European bodies like the Met and Europol send us transparently political takedown requests with no law enforcement purpose. Essentially they’re trying to silence a person that they’ve already thrown in prison or are about to. If they don’t want us to talk about these frivolous requests, they can stop sending them to us.

Welcome to the Gab Files.

Today we received one such request from the UK government.

They cited Public Order Act 1986 which says the following:

(1) A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting is guilty of an offence if—(a) he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred (b) having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby

They didn’t tell us who the person is who allegedly broke this dystopian nonsense law, they didn’t tell us whether the content which they convicted him of was found on our site, and they didn’t specify which posts, if any, actually violated UK law.

They simply told us that they imprisoned someone for expressing wrongthink online, that person had a Gab account and the UK government expected us to unperson this person from the Internet at their behest when no violation of our TOS was found.

Gab is an American company which operates its business in accordance with U.S. law. Gab has no business or operations in the United Kingdom of any kind, nor does it inquire as to, or log, the residence or criminal records of its users or readers.

Gab’s policy is to not remove material unless it violates Gab’s terms of service which was drafted in accordance with US law, in particular the First Amendment.

“Hate speech” or “offensive speech” as such is not illegal here and in fact benefits from unambiguous constitutional protection backed by a half-century of precedent.

Our response to the UK is the same as it is to Germany, France, China, and every other country who tries to remove lawful content from the American Internet: get bent.

Let's hear it for Gab!  That's precisely what their response should be.  No violation of US law?  Then no interference with free speech.  I wish other social media companies followed the same policy.


Doofus Of The Day #1,099


Today's award goes to a doctor's surgery in Doncaster, England.  The BBC reports:

A GP surgery accidentally told patients they had aggressive lung cancer instead of wishing them a merry Christmas.

Askern Medical Practice sent the text message to people registered with the surgery in Doncaster on 23 December.

There's more at the link.

Understandably, the patients who received the wrong message are not happy about it.  One observed:  "If it's one of their admins that's sent out a mass text, I wouldn't be trusting them to empty the bins."  It's hard to argue with that sentiment.

After that, I daresay a Merry Christmas was not had by all concerned!


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Ask, and you shall receive...


... and therefore, you should be careful what you ask for.

A California sheriff’s office released body camera footage showing a deputy-involved shooting of a man who was riding a bike before wielding a cleaver and claiming to be the Antichrist.

. . .

"Don't touch your weapon. Keep your hands out of your pockets," the deputy is heard telling Wallis.

"Shoot me then, motherf-----. …. Call your f---ing office, because I’m the Antichrist," Wallis responded. 

Wallis attempted to get back onto his bike and ride away, but the deputy pushed him. 

"Alright motherf-----. What's up, G," Wallis asked the deputy, before pulling a cleaver from his backpack. 

The deputy is seen pulling out a baton and his firearm and then shoots Wallis. 

Authorities said the deputy provided medical aid to Wallis until paramedics arrived, but Wallis was ultimately declared dead at the scene. The sheriff’s office recovered a six-inch meat cleaver from the scene.

There's more at the link.

Quite literally, he asked for it!  In particular, if the late Mr. Wallis was, indeed, the Antichrist (something I beg leave to doubt), he should surely have known better than to ignore the promise made by Christ himself.  That promise certainly worked for him - but it's too late now for him to complain...


Ignoring the elephant in the living-room...


Someone put together this pastiche of recent newspaper headlines, all trying to explain the surge in unexplained deaths over the past year or two.  It's currently circulating on social media.  Click the image for a larger view.

Amazing, isn't it?  The powers that be and their lackeys in the news media will grasp at any straw, concoct more and more weird and wonderful explanations, do anything to explain the excess death rate - except acknowledge the obvious one:

More and more researchers - independent researchers, not those dependent on government funding, who are thereby susceptible to official "pressure" to toe the party line and not say anything out of line - are pointing out that the excess death rate largely involves those who've been vaccinated against COVID-19.  Here's just one example, comparing excess death rates in Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  Its conclusion?  "Having higher COVID jab rates is associated with higher accumulation of excess death."  There are many other studies out there, if you'd like to do your own research.

I take no joy in this fact.  With something like two-thirds to three-quarters of the US population having been vaccinated against COVID-19, it bodes ill for our long-term future as a nation.  Nevertheless, I remain profoundly grateful that my wife and myself refused the vaccinations, and are determined to do so in future.  I note, too, that as the word spreads about the dangers involved, many who took the first round or two of vaccines are refusing booster shots.

I'm very concerned to learn that the mRNA technology used in most COVID-19 vaccines is being further developed to produce many other types of vaccines against many other illnesses, including a universal flu vaccine and a malaria vaccine.  Given mRNA vaccines' track record so far, my wife and I won't be getting those, either - not until there's a whole lot more work done to ensure the safety of that technology, and it's been clearly demonstrated.


EDITED TO ADD:  Ed Dowd, a leading analyst of the COVID-19 pandemic and related phenomena, has just said this about the health effects of the vaccines.  It's worth ten minutes of your time.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Verily, the mind doth boggle!!!


I'm still blinking in utter disbelief after reading this tweet.

It's even worse if you magnify the image included with the tweet.  Here's a full-size copy, if you'd like to read the responses from allegedly trans readers.  Clickit to biggit.

I quote:

  • "Thinking of taking my monthly fem cycle to the next level."
  • "Experiencing my period is absolutely essential for completing my femininity!!!"

Uh . . . in the absence of a uterus, precisely what "cycle" are we talking about here?

Some of the comments below the original tweet are also worth reading.  Others are as mind-boggled as I am.  I still can't say for sure whether the quotes are serious, or trying to be facetious, or simply five cents short of a mental health nickel.

Trying to learn more, I came across this article.

... transgenders now claim that they can literally have periods, a physical impossibility due to their total lack of the necessary biological equipment like a uterus or ovaries.

Via The Establishment:

Ashley’s a 23-year-old trans girl who’s been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for over a year. She takes a cocktail of the antiandrogen spironolactone and estradiol, a form of estrogen. About five months into her treatment, she began experiencing a predictable pattern of symptoms: First would come the soreness and swelling in her chest along with bouts of nausea; the next day, she’d endure painful abdominal cramping lasting minutes at a time, as well as constant nausea, hot flashes, dizziness, photosensitive migraines, and bloating. This cycle, she says, lasts for about six to seven days and repeats roughly every five weeks.

. . .

The reaction from most real women, like my wife’s when I posed this dilemma to her, would be: why would anyone voluntarily want to experience menstrual cycles and all the discomfort that comes with them? The answer is that no amount of physical discomfort is too great provided that it buttresses their theatrical performance.

There's more at the link.

And these people expect me to take them seriously???


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Very useful advice for defending yourself with a handgun


American Handgunner has just published an article titled "Close Dark Fast", by Mike Boyle.  It's an analysis of the typical defensive shooting encounter, and the things on which you should concentrate when training and preparing for such an event.

The article's filled with good information, so much so that I won't even try to excerpt it here.  Click over there and read the whole thing.  It's worth your time.

Based on several decades' experience of violent encounters, and training I've undergone from some of the top schools and instructors in the USA, I can only endorse Mr. Boyle's tips and techniques without reserve.  I learned many of them elsewhere, and they've helped to keep me alive and kicking on more than one occasion.  They may do the same for you.


Re-learning a hard lesson on safety and security from Buffalo, NY


The mainstream news media have been deafening in their silence about widespread looting that broke out in Buffalo, NY after the epic winter snowstorm there last week.  The New York Post is one of the few that mentioned it, and then only in passing.

Looters ransack snowbound Buffalo as cops are stuck elsewhere

Deadly blizzard conditions in upstate New York gave cover to local looters over the weekend as they robbed businesses while police were stuck elsewhere.

“I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown raged to reporters Monday.

“They are the ‘lowest of the low,”’ Brown said of the opportunistic crooks.

Some businesses had their windows smashed and merchandise damaged and stolen as snow and ice pummeled the region, local TV station WRGZ reported.

. . .

“They’re not looting foods and medicines, they’re just looting items that they want. So these aren’t even people in distress,” the mayor said. “These are people who are taking advantage of a national disaster and the suffering of many in our community to take what they want.”

There's more at the link.

Gun Free Zone provides links to a number of video clips on social media showing the extent of the looting.  Here's a screen capture from one of them, showing part of what's left of a Walmart supermarket there.

The author goes on to warn:

With the police busy dealing with people who underestimated the harshness of the weather, the Savages who prey upon the civilized set upon stores and businesses to pillage and plunder.

This shows just how tenuous our grasp on civilization really is.

Some sub zero temperatures and a few feet of snow and am American city goes Lord of the Flies.

This is why self reliance and the ability to self rescue are so important.

People will venture out and get stuck.  Law enforcement will go to rescue them.  The savages will use the lack of available law enforcement and the cover of darkness and bad weather to prey upon the helpless, and nobody will come to rescue you.

When the snow piles up, cracks will form in civilization and you are on your own.

Be prepared.

Again, more at the link.

He's right, of course.  That's exactly what we're seeing in Buffalo, and what we're seeing more and more often in many of our Big Blue cities.  When law and order is deliberately downplayed, hamstrung, ignored . . . then the low-lifes come out to play.  Snow was a factor in Buffalo, but it's far from the only one.  Heat, power outages, failure of the EBT benefit system, and a host of other factors might all, jointly or severally, provoke such an outbreak of crime.  Groups such as Black Lives Matter, or Antifa, or others might also deliberately orchestrate such events, to demonstrate that the city administration has to negotiate with them, or else.  (Personally, I think the "or else" option is greatly undervalued, and that salutary lessons need to be administered to such groups and their followers:  but not everyone sees it that way.)

What's even worse is that the flood of illegal aliens crossing our borders almost unchecked is merely adding to the problem.  Most of them come from countries where this sort of thing is rampant.  Do your own research into criminal and gang activity in South America, where most of these illegal aliens come from.  They're bringing those attitudes across our borders, and I'm willing to bet they'll act on them as soon as they realize the welfare money is finite, and they (legally, at least) don't qualify for many of our generous entitlement programs.

If you're fortunate enough to live in a town like ours, where the administration and the police and the populace as a whole are all united in their emphasis on law and order, you'll be spared much of that.  In a Big Blue City, where the cops are underfunded, understaffed, and under pressure from liberal District Attorneys who free many of the criminals they capture . . . not so much.  Again I repeat:  if you live in such a city, get the hell out of there while you still can.  Don't wait passively to become a victim.  Your life, and the lives of your loved ones, are worth more than that.

If you see this sort of criminal axe coming down, get out from under it, and move back to civilization!  Remember the Killhouse Rules, particularly:  No-one is coming to save you.


The last of the Chinese Flying Tigers has passed


Many of us know about the famous Flying Tigers - the First American Volunteer Flying Group (AVG) that fought in China against the Japanese in 1941-42.  What many do not know is that the AVG was disbanded in 1942, and was replaced by the 23rd Fighter Group of the US Army Air Forces.  Some of the AVG pilots were transferred to the new unit, and a number of Chinese pilots were assigned to it as well, to fly alongside them in combat.  (The 23rd Fighter Group exists to this day in the USAF, and is the only unit officially authorized to put the "shark teeth" motif and "FT" [Flying Tiger] tail code on its aircraft.)

Among those Chinese pilots was Chen Bingjing.  He was 24 years old in 1942.

According to a Chinese report (poorly translated into English), he died shortly before Christmas - the last surviving pilot of the World War II 23rd Fighter Group.

[He] reported to Hangzhou Bridge Air Force Officer School Issue 12. Of the more than 2,000 people who signed up, only more than 290 were admitted, but because of lack of equipment, he only went to the 12th Fighter Science Study of Kunming Air Force Officer School in Yunnan after graduating in 1939.

In 1942, the first 49 students of the 12th issue of Chen Bingjing and others were sent to the US Army Aviation Team Flight School in Arizona for flight training and returned to China in December 1942. The 25-year-old Chen Bingjing was divided into the 14th Air Force 23rd Team 75 Squadron in 1943 to become a warrant pilot. The 14th Air Force 23 Brigade is considered to be a Flying Tigers formation unit. The Chinese Air Force, who was transferred to the 14th Air Force with him, had 24 people. By 2015, only he was left.

While performing his mission in October 1943, he took off from the Kunming Wizard Dam and went to Vietnam for sea defense bombing Japan The fleet and warehouse fought against the Japanese zero-fighter, crashed after shooting down a plane, and were captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war. They were caught in Nanjing for 21 months.

He recalled at the Centennial School of Sumerian University in 2018. "The cruelty of the Japanese to Chinese prisoners of war is unimaginable. The jailer will hang us on wooden pillars late at night". Until the defeat of Japan in August 1945, Chen Bingjing was released from prison. He said that the Japanese army, Shaozuo, had his hands to hold Chen Bingjing and was replaced by a blood-stained flying jacket when he was imprisoned. He bowed 90 degrees to him and put the jacket on.

According to the Star Island Daily, after the victory of the anti-war, Chen Bingjing was transferred to the National Army Air Force [i.e. Taiwan] First Team (Air Transport Brigade) Staff in 1948, and transferred to the National Government Embassy in Canada as a trainee military officer in 1948. In 1949, Chen Bingjing went to the station to serve as the Ministry of Defense. In 1957, he served as a military officer of my embassy in the Philippines. In 1959, he retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

There's more at the link.  Chinese speakers will find a video interview with Chen Bingjing here.  Sadly, no subtitles are available.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Chen Bingjing may have been the last surviving Flying Tiger (the Chinese report isn't clear, but I don't know of any surviving American members of that unit).  If so, another link to our past has been taken from us.  May he rest in peace.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A naval anniversary


One hundred years ago today, the first ship to be purpose-built as an aircraft carrier (rather than converted from another type of vessel) was commissioned.  She was the Imperial Japanese Navy ship Hōshō.

(Click the image for a larger view)

She was the second purpose-built aircraft carrier to start construction (the first being the British HMS Hermes), but was completed and commissioned before Hermes.  She's shown above during her sea trials.  Later, her island was removed, leaving her flush decked.

The video below puts Hōshō in perspective, in the context of the naval rivalry between Japan, Britain and the USA in the 1920's and the geopolitical conflicts and currents of the 1930's.

Hōshō saw limited action during the Sino-Japanese wars.  She was present at the Battle of Midway in 1942, but several hundred miles away from the main carrier task force, as she was providing air cover for the battleships of the Main Body.  She spent the rest of World War II as a training carrier, not seeing further action.  She was hit by US bombs in early 1945, but not severely damaged.  After helping to repatriate Japanese servicemen, she was scrapped in 1946.

Hōshō had an unremarkable career, but she was the first of many carriers that followed.  She deserves to be remembered for that.


I know how he feels...


Stephan Pastis' thoughts for Boxing Day.  Click the image to be taken to a larger view at the 'Pearls Before Swine' Web page.

I imagine, after Christmas spending, a lot of us are feeling that way!


Monday, December 26, 2022

A very Christmassy image from the stars


The Bible tells us:  "The heavens declare the glory of God;  And the firmament shows His handiwork."  When one looks at this image, courtesy of the Webb space telescope, of the Cartwheel Galaxy, I can only nod slowly in awed agreement.  Click the image for a much larger view.

How's that for a star to top the cosmic Christmas tree?


Memes that made me laugh 139


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve thoughts


Posted without comment.  Click either image for a larger view.


Christmas hiatus


Miss D. and I are both still recovering from the dreaded lurgy, a.k.a. crud, that's going around at the moment:  and most of the North Texas Troublemakers are down with it as well, so much so that we've postponed our Christmas get-together until next weekend, in the hope that people will be over it by then.

I'm going to take advantage of the situation to have a "down-time" weekend, relaxing and not doing anything much except drinking lots of liquid (in the name of hydration rather than inebriation!) and relaxing.  Regular blogging will resume on Monday.

A blessed Christmas to all of my readers.


Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas for non-believers - with added snark


I had to laugh out loud at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's take on Christmas without Christ.  Clickit to biggit.

If you follow the link to the source page, there's mouseover text as well.


Inflation or deflation, it's a scary situation - until we remember the reason for the season


We're all complaining about the rising cost of food and other essentials.  However, some markets are showing the opposite effect of our miserable economy.  Having soared to previously unthinkable heights, their prices are now collapsing, because nobody's buying at such inflated expectations.  The lumber (wood) market is no exception.

Lumber peaked at $1,336 per thousand board feet in late February but has settled at around $380 this week, representing a dramatic 72% decline in prices, primarily due to elevated mortgage rates, slowing housing activity, waning builder confidence, and overall mounting macroeconomic headwinds.

. . .

Framing, paneling, and plywood, types of lumber used to build a home, are well off their highs. Remember when plywood at Home Depot was fetching nearly $100 per sheet?

If you waited for the lumber bubble to deflate -- this might be the perfect time to buy.

There's more at the link.

That's great news for those planning to use a lot of lumber, but it doesn't do much for the rest of us who are struggling to make ends meet on a weekly or monthly basis.  Inflation - despite denials by the Federal Reserve and more government bureaucrats than you can shake a stick at - has been, and still is, eating away at our net worth.  As Gun Free Zone points out:

My father was a lawyer in a small firm (about 10 employees total).  My mother was a nurse.

We had a 3 bed/3 bath house, my dad drove a Chevy Suburban, my mom drove a minivan.

We road tripped to my grandparent’s house twice a year, summer and Christmas.  I never went overseas, but did vacation in Canada once.

That was the lifestyle of all my friends.  They had parents who were civil engineers, architects, accountants, one was a therapist, another was a dentist.

The federal government defines middle-class as single earners between $45,000 and $130,000 per year, family income between $65,000 and $250,000 per year.

I grew up towards the higher end of that range, but definitely within it.

We were solidly in the “professional white collar middle-class.”

Today I’m an engineer and my wife is a librarian.  Again, solidly white collar professional middle-class.  I make about the same on paper as my dad did.

Adjusted for inflation, my buying power is half of what his was in the 90s.

To buy a 3bd/3br house in California, South Florida, New England, Chicago, any major metropolitan area if going to start at half a million dollars and go up rapidly from there.

My parents bought the house I grew up in for $300K in 1995.  It just sold for $1.2M.

I can’t afford my childhood home making the same salary as my dad.

Again, more at the link.

We grew addicted to "easy money", handed out in the form of easy credit and aided and abetted by US government policy.  We forgot that what goes around, comes around:  that pumping a lot of money into an economy inevitably results in the price of goods and services going up to match the additional liquidity.  It's an invariable cause-and-effect situation.  Some businesses are doing well at the moment, because consumers can afford the higher prices for their goods.  Others, like lumber suppliers, are caught in the boom-then-bust cycle of the economy.  They made out like gangbusters a year ago.  Now they're in real danger of having to close their doors, because the lumber supplies they've built up at higher prices paid to producers can no longer be sold to consumers at a price that will cover their source costs.

As Jeffrey Tucker notes:

A world of easy money is a world without restraint in which every cockamamie ideology can ride high. The Fed was in the process of fixing this problem in 2019 but reversed course under the guise of supporting the pandemic response.

Of course, the only result of that was to prolong lockdowns: When you subsidize something, you get more of it and longer.

The right takeaway: This was all a preventable disaster. No virus and no act of nature robbed you of your money. It was the direct effect of egregious public policy. It began under the leadership of Ben Bernanke, who actually won a Nobel Prize for his efforts.

The currency regime at the Fed is now being forced into finding a fix but they are a long way from solving the problem. At the end of this, the pandemic response might end up slicing off a quarter or more from every dollar.

The only plus side is watching the puffed-up sectors of Big Tech and Big Media be cut down to size. We’re now in a position of finding out ever more about the outrages that were going on at these companies, and how they all cooperated with the government to end our privacy and speech rights.

Are people angry? If they are not, they should be.

Don’t let the major media troll you. This is a systematic pillaging taking place. I wish I could say that there is an end in sight, but I’m not seeing it yet.

More at the link.

In the midst of all this economic and fiscal gloom, it's worth reminding ourselves that the true foundations of our lives are more than merely physical, more than merely monetary.  At this Christmas season, let's remind ourselves why it exists in the first place.  Without Christ, there is no Christmas - merely another season of excess consumption.  We have enough of those.

Let's stop spending money on fripperies, and return to the foundation of our celebration.  If we get our foundations right, the rest will follow - slowly, perhaps, and painfully, but over time we'll restore equilibrium.  If we don't get the foundations right, everything we build on sand will collapse.


Thursday, December 22, 2022

So much for Texas resisting illegal border crossers...


Michael Yon reports:

Texas Governor Abbott is one of the Invasion Commanders. Abbott is aiding and abetting the invasion of United States.

I have published this many times from ground zero.

As for now, we were just right here in El Pason (from the bridge above) 48 hours ago with recently retired LTC Pete “Doc” Chambers (Green Beret doctor who was in Texas National Guard), and two staffers of Congressman Tom Tiffany whom I took into Darien Gap last year.

Texas National Guard are NOT stopping the invasion. They are making photo ops and then aiding the invasion.

Abbott’s troops are acting as part of the invasion force. Taking over from where the cartels left off.

Texas National Guard is being used in a massive child and sex trafficking operation. United States and Texas governments are as guilty as Chinese Communist Party in modern s lave trade.

America is a giant Epstein Island.

There's more at the link, including the URL of a four-hour-long livestream showing Texas National Guard troops doing exactly what Michael Yon describes.

I'm sure many Texans have heard Governor Abbott pontificate about standing up to the federal government over the incessant influx of illegal aliens across our southern border.  I guess this proves he's just another politician.  Q - How do you know he's lying?  A - His lips are moving.

The pressures caused by illegal invaders are growing throughout this country.  Sooner or later the lid's going to blow off . . . and it's not going to be pretty when and where that happens.


Prostitution as a sign of economic decline

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

A medical reminder this Christmas


Friends have been sending me these images for a few days now.  They're obviously circulating on social media.  So, for your Christmas pleasure:

Click either image for a larger view.

I didn't grow up with the Grinch:  it's a very American Christmas story, not widely known in much of the rest of the world.  I'm still not sure I like it, because it's yet another secularization of a very meaningful religious celebration.  Oh, well...  I mustn't be grinchy about it!


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Interesting thoughts on field and fighting gear from a Ukraine veteran


We've had several discussions in these pages about what works, and what doesn't, in a combat situation when it comes to gear and equipment.  I've emphasized the time-honored technique of K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple, Stupid!  That kept me alive, just as it's kept untold numbers of combat veterans alive over the years.

Youtube's Lindybeige channel, an authoritative source of information about modern and historical fighting tools, techniques and equipment, has interviewed a veteran of the International Legion in Ukraine.  This is the unit that takes in volunteers from all over the world and deploys them as part of the Ukrainian armed forces.

The first interview, discussing his experiences in general, may be found here.  It's about an hour long, and is interesting in its own right.  What I found more interesting was the half-hour-long second interview dealing with "useful and useless kit":  what works, what doesn't, and what might actively get you killed in a modern combat zone.  Not surprisingly to me, he comes to several of the same conclusions I reached in African war zones decades ago.  My war(s) may have been a lot hotter (temperature-wise) than Ukraine, but we learned the same lessons, it seems.

Lessons from a soldier who learned them the hard way, and consequently knows what he's talking about.  Useful, and recommended viewing.


Not guilty!


Readers will recall that a few weeks ago, I asked for your support for our blogging, writing friend Lawdog as he faced trial on what all of us who know him were sure were trumped-up, overblown charges.

I'm delighted to report that our efforts paid off.

  • Lawdog was able to raise enough funds, thanks to your generosity, to pay his lawyer and all other expenses.
  • His trial took place yesterday.  It didn't even take a full day before he was declared Not Guilty - an outcome we fully expected.
  • We celebrated his acquittal yesterday afternoon and evening with several bottles of good cheer and BBQ from a local (and extremely good) restaurant.  A good time was had by all.
Some of the expert witnesses who testified on his behalf were dumbfounded that the charges had even been brought in the first place, given the lack of evidence to support them.  I heard a couple of them muttering that a lawsuit for malicious prosecution might not be out of place.  I have no idea whether that will happen.  We'll see what comes out in the wash.

Thank you very much for your support for Lawdog.  I'm delighted that my friend has been freed from this legal weight that's been hanging over him for more than two years, thanks to delays caused by COVID-19 and other issues.  I'm sure he slept well last night, in high spirits (in more ways than one!).

All right, buddy - you've got no excuse any more not to get back to writing!  We want more Lawdog books!


The Arctic is about to visit...


It looks like much of the continental USA will be in the grip of very, very cold temperatures over the next few days.  I hope and trust all of you have stocked up on hot chocolate, soup and firewood, and are prepared to keep yourselves warm.  I'm not sure whether our power grid is robust enough to withstand this, particularly given all the Christmas lights strung around many of our homes.  In total, they must add significantly to the load on power stations at this time of year.

For those who've never thought about cold as a genuine threat to life, consider this wind chill chart that's currently circulating on social media (clickit to biggit).

Given that strong winds are forecast to accompany this Arctic incursion, that should be all the encouragement you need to stay indoors, out of the cold.

If that isn't enough for the manly men among us . . .