Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Is it possible that moonbats can't see how utterly crazy they've become?


As evidence, I offer you this article.

A 'uterus-shaped' cereal has been launched with the goal of putting conversations about periods on the table.

Feminine care brand Intimina developed its raspberry-flavoured 'Period Crunch' to encourage families to discuss menstruation more openly at breakfast.

Despite being marketed as womb-shaped, the cereal actually resembles the entire female reproductive system.

The wheat-based cereal ... is dyed red to mimic the colour of blood. 

Intimina claims conversations about periods are not 'truly normalised' and it wanted to 'make a statement' about the issue.

There's (unfortunately) more at the link.

Dear readers, please answer me these simple questions:

What normal family discusses menstruation over breakfast???  And why would they eat intimately-shaped, blood-colored cereal while doing so???

Dammit, I grew up with a mother and three sisters.  I'm sure they discussed menstruation, but they did it in private, possibly together, possibly one-on-one.  They certainly never inflicted such discussions on the men of the household, and emphatically not over a shared meal!  I can't believe our family was any different than most others in that regard.  I mean, if one wouldn't discuss wet dreams, or yeast infections, or diarrhea, or toenail fungus in that setting, why make an exception for menstruation?

This cereal is making a statement all right.  The statement is, "I'm so far gone I can no longer tell moonbattery from reality!"

Ye Gods and little fishes . . .


As if we needed more reminders . . .


. . . and yet, some do.  For all that we've discussed food shortages and other current crises in these pages, there are still those driving blithely along, refusing to see - let alone acknowledge - the signs of the times all around them.  I honestly don't know how - or if - they'll cope when reality bites.

Here are a few resources that you may find useful, either for yourself or to pass along to your family and friends.

The impending fall f*ckening

It’s truly difficult for normal people to fathom this but the government wanted to coerce you into buying an electric car so badly that they doubled the price of food for everyone.

In the United States of America, we will experience a food crisis that was purposeful created by our government.

That is utterly Soviet in nature and it happened here to support green energy initiatives.

It’s going to get bad.

USDA Raises Food Price Forecast to Highest Level in 42 Years, Third Wave of U.S. Food Inflation Will Dwarf Prior Price Increases

Have you ever seen egg prices at $1 per egg range, or $12/doz?  Hold on a few months and perhaps you will.  That is the context for the scale of food price increases the USDA is now starting to predict.  The highest predicted change in food costs in well over 40 years, that’s the USDA warning in their revised May “Food Price Outlook”.

. . .

You know how much prices at the supermarket have increased in the last six months.  Double that, and there’s your estimation for food prices later this fall.

Behind all the datasets, statistics, BEA, BLS, USDA and analysis of these things, there are real people living paycheck-to-paycheck that are likely to be in serious food insecurity position for the first time in their lives.

I’m not talking about poor people, I’m talking about solid upper middle-class working families with kids who are already being hit hard by gasoline, energy, housing and grocery store increases.  Another twenty percent increase in food costs can easily become a crisis.

The Destruction Of Our Way Of Life Is Intentional

It is going to get nothing but worse and FAST.

Gas and Diesel prices are already insane around here, I saw $5.49 a gallon three days ago locally for Regular gas.

Food inflation is literally going to DOUBLE from just the two months ago by the end of Summer.

The squeeze is on with the total destruction of the Middle Class as the end goal.

People on Fixed Incomes and the poor are already getting hammered, by Fall we are going to be seeing stories of malnutrition and want all across the country on a daily basis.

This next Winter is going to have people dying from lack of food and heat.

It is coming and it is being done on purpose.

New normals

As I’ve said before, there’s a point at which I stop working the pumps and instead start heading for the lifeboats. As of late, in the last couple years, I’ve narrowed my focus down to what I need to take care of myself and those I care about. My neighbors, distant family, and the total strangers around me…who make more money than me and have more resources…have had plenty of time to get to their lifeboats. I’m not setting a seat aside in my lifeboat for them. They saw the signs, same as me. They could have prepared, same as me. They’re going to have to live with their choices, same as me.

What does that mean, exactly? Am I envisioning starving neighbors begging for food in some Holodomor-like famine? No, I’m not. I’m of the opinion that it’s virtually impossible to starve in this country if you are reasonably intelligent and in generally good health. What I see happening to the unprepared and the head-in-the-sand-crowd is financial impacts that will destroy dreams of retirement, force the sale of homes and vehicles, put plans on hold, reduce a standard of living, and perhaps even drive people into homelessness or a wave of perpetual ‘couch surfing’. There will be a lot less Trader Joes and Whole Foods, and a lot more WalMart in some peoples lives.

Society is going to be remade over everything in the last couple years, and everything thats coming in the next few years. Much like how after 9/11 there was a ‘new normal’, I think by the time this current administration and its epic failures have run it’s course we will have a ‘new normal’. I like to think that the result will be a lot of people ‘coming over to our side’ but it’s entirely possible it may go in the other direction. Sure, the Great Depression set a generation of Americans on a path of being better prepared, but it also created a generation of Americans who believed that government entitlements were a solution.

. . .

Sometimes, like when I saw chicken jump sixty cents overnight, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I wonder if maybe I’ve been right all along. Guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, I’ll continue to observe and note the interesting ‘signs of the times’ that seem to be all around us these days and that we will look back upon later and marvel at.

We’re in It Now for Sure

Many more Amish are landing in the county these days. I hear they go around to the failing or inactive farms with bundles of cash and make an offer, just like that. Evidently the method works. It’s given me a business idea: to start an Amish skills school, buy a few acres with a barn and hire some Amish men to teach all us non-Amish how to do a few things that might be good to know in the years ahead, like how to harness horses to a cart or a mule to a plow. (The Amish like to make a bit of cash-money when they can.) That’s my idea of how to build back better. What do you think?

I can't disagree with any of the opinions above.  I see the same things they do coming down the pike at us.

The only consolation (?) is that I don't have a pension to lose.  When I took my stand some years ago, I lost my pension in the process, so I've known since then I'll have to work until I die.  That kinda simplifies matters.  On the other hand, if you do have a pension, 401(K), IRA or the like, you can expect the powers that be to make a determined effort to "nationalize" them all.  "People can't afford to retire!  It's time for the government to take over their inadequate savings, give everybody a pension, and impose equity on the system!"  The trillions of dollars in private retirement savings would also erase a very substantial slice of our national debt - an almost impossible-to-resist temptation for any politician.  Can't you just hear that thought percolating already in the fetid ooze of Big Brother's propagandists' brains?  Expect it to become a full-bore barrage as things get worse.

Rahm Emanuel put it into words.

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

He was (and still is) one of Big Brother's minions;  and Big Brother, having created the serious crisis we're experiencing, is actively doing precisely what he said.


Two powerful thoughts on gun control


While our senile President blathers on about 9mm "blowing out your lung" (it won't) and threatening more gun control measures, I found two observations over the long weekend that sum up the futility of the latter option.  Click either image for a larger view.

From Larry Lambert:

And from the Latino Rifle Association:

Both all too true - not that gun-grabbers will ever concede either point . . .

Ask yourself this question.  If the state severely restricts firearm possession, and it emerges (as it undoubtedly will) that those measures do nothing whatsoever to reduce crime or violence, do you really think the gun-grabbers will be honest enough to admit they were wrong, and revoke the restrictions?  Like hell they will!  They'll double down, and demand yet more restrictions, because they can never afford to admit, even to themselves, that they were wrong.  They're operating on a doctrinaire, ideological basis, rather than one founded in empirical reality.

The truth is not in them.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Hey! That's my bed!


A kitten mounts a takeover bid for a Golden Retriever's bed.  Guess who wins?


Russian weapons using US microchips


The War Zone reports that many Russian weapons are using US-designed and -made chips.

When Ukrainian forces began to take apart several pieces of captured or partially destroyed Russian military equipment, they found a strong reliance on foreign microchips - especially those made in the United States - according to component lists Ukraine intelligence shared with The War Zone.

The chips in question were found inside a recovered example of the 9S932-1, a radar-equipped air defense command post vehicle that is part of the larger Barnaul-T system, a Pantsir air defense system, a Ka-52 “Alligator” attack helicopter, and a Kh-101 (AS-23A Kodiak) cruise missile.

The component list offers some of the most detailed information to date about the extent of where the Russians are getting critical microchips, semiconductors and other components. The items on those lists raise serious questions about Russia's ability to produce the technological components its war machine relies on and the ability of countries like the U.S. to keep those technologies secure, an expert tells The War Zone.

. . .

On May 11, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told a Senate hearing that sanctions against Russia were forcing it to seek alternate sources of key components.

“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment on the ground, it’s filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” Raimondo testified, who recently met with Ukraine’s prime minister.

There's more at the link.

This doesn't surprise me in the least.  It's a time-honored method of obtaining technology in the face of embargoes and sanctions.  South Africa faced a very severe arms embargo under the apartheid government, but that didn't stop it importing just about anything it really needed.  I've written before about some of its sanctions-busting weapons.  I had direct involvement in some of those projects, and I can't say we had any difficulty in getting our hands on anything important.  When you can pay in gold (untraceable and untaxable), or cash on the barrelhead in any currency the seller demands (easy to obtain in exchange for gold), all sorts of things become possible.

The very ease with which sanctions and embargoes can be circumvented makes them double-edged swords.  Some countries (including the USA) impose such swingeing restrictions on such exports that other countries take over the market by default.  For example, the US is very, very restrictive on what countries can buy its Predator or Reaper drones, and usually insists on rigorous restrictions on their use.  Israeli, Turkish and Chinese exporters have no such scruples - and they've claimed more than 80% of the world market for armed UAV's as a result.  US manufacturers would love to muscle in on that market, and they have very good technology indeed with which to do so:  but they can't, because US legal restrictions block them.  Needless to say, foreign manufacturers are delighted by that;  in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear they're paying lobbying firms to encourage the House and Senate to extend such restrictions, because they're making so much money out of them!

As for chips "from dishwashers and refrigerators", that's also nothing new.  For example, at one time South Africa's armaments industry needed a particular miniaturized component.  It couldn't buy it from the manufacturers, thanks to the arms embargo:  but a functionally identical component was found in certain models of Timex watches (not surprising, because Timex also manufactured complex fuses for the US military).  It didn't take long for South Africa to become one of the world's top export markets for Timex.  As the watches flooded in by the thousand, the necessary component was extracted, repackaged and shipped to Armscor for re-use, while the remaining watch parts were summarily junked.  Timex was reportedly very happy with the commercial success of its watches in South Africa, and - officially, at least - never realized what was going on.


Memes that made me laugh 111


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

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Sunday morning music


I'm sure many of my readers know the Hu - a modern folk-metal group (they call their style "Hunnu rock") out of Mongolia.  Here's their "Wolf Totem", perhaps their signature song.

However, there's another group performing Mongolian music of an entirely different variety.  It's the HAYA band, fronted by soloist Daichin Tana.  They offer Buddhist music as an aid to meditation, drawing on the Mongol folk music tradition and "spiritualizing" it, for want of a better word (much the same as Enya did from the Irish folk music tradition).  According to the group's music label, they employ "the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), tanbur (long-necked lute), khoomei (throat singing), shaman drum, [and] chanting".

Here's a single 20-minute video showcasing four of their songs:

00:00 ⋄ Ongmanibamai
05:43 ⋄ Qinghai Lake
10:23 ⋄ Snow Mountain
14:51 ⋄ Silent Sky

Definitely a very different side of Mongolian music to that offered by the Hu!  Buddhism has a long history among the Mongols, so it's entirely authentic.

You'll find more of their music on YouTube and elsewhere.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

State of the author - exhausted!


I just don't have the time or energy to put up a Saturday Snippet excerpt this week.  Let me explain by giving you a follow-up "State of the Author" post, following on from earlier this month and in early April.

Our new utility/garden/storage shed was erected in mid-May.  The electric power has since been installed, along with air-conditioning, and the garage door has been fitted to its frame.  Next week the insulation will be sprayed in, and the concrete floor sealed.  That will complete the shed, and I'll begin the long process (probably taking several months, a little at a time) to move all our bits and pieces from the garage and a storage unit into the shed, sort and discard what we don't need, and put the rest in some semblance of order on shelves along the walls.

Previous aspects of our renovations have included an upgrade to our electrical circuit-board, a new HVAC system, a patio (slab and roof), ordering an insulated garage door (which won't be ready for some months yet, thanks to supply chain issues), and other minor elements.  It's cost us about 30% more than I'd budgeted, thanks largely to electrical problems we didn't know we had, which were uncovered during the renovation process and required immediate (and expensive) attention.  Still, I'm grateful we found out about them before they developed into, or caused, something really nasty.  I've also taken the advice of those who commented on our shed insulation, and committed to spending money on 2" of closed-cell foam instead of the 1" I'd planned.  It'll cost more, but like the proverb says, "Buy once, cry once".  The insulation contractor strongly endorsed your suggestions that 2" would be far more efficient and effective in the long run, given our hundred-degree-plus Texas heat during summer;  his own utility building has 2" on sides and ceiling for that reason.  (Our winters are relatively mild compared to further north, with only a few days every year at or below freezing point.)

Of course, getting multiple contractors (more than 15 so far) organized, and arranging their visits in a logical sequence so that preliminary work was completed in time for each of them in turn to build on that foundation, has completely occupied my time for three months.  I'm greatly looking forward to a slower pace of upgrades over the rest of the summer.  We've hired a young man to take care of finishing some paint work, sealing some concrete, and doing handyman stuff for us (my fused spine and damaged sciatic nerve make bending and twisting an "interesting" exercise, in the sense of the fabled Chinese curse).  I'm planning on spending an hour or two sorting boxes and shelves each day, and several hours in (hopefully) uninterrupted attention to my writing.

Current plan is to have Maxwell Volume 6, "Venom Strike", published by the end of June.  It may get pushed out into July if there are any more alarums and excursions, but it's well under way, and with time available to devote to it, I think it'll be out soon.  After that I'll take a deep breath, add up the other manuscripts awaiting attention, and tackle them one at a time.

So far, so good.  Onward!


Friday, May 27, 2022

A sign of major imbalance in an unhealthy society?


This report makes troubling reading.

Restaurants continued to increase their share of spending in April, reaching 54.9% of the food dollar, according to U.S. Census data released Tuesday.

That was a 260-basis-point increase from April last year, when the share was 52.3%, said analyst Mark Kalinowski, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Kalinowski Equity Research LLC.

“Even more impressively, as best as we can tell, this 54.9% market share figure for April 2022 is an all-time monthly high for the U.S. restaurant industry,” Kalinowski said in a note released Tuesday about the April U.S. Census data.

. . .

“If you need to eat — and I haven't yet met the person who didn't need to eat — you have got to buy the food from some place unless you're growing it yourself or you have a neighbor who grows it,” he said. “The fact is the restaurant industry offers a lot of convenience. It offers experiences that the grocery stores can't match.

“It is so firmly a part of the American fabric now that Americans don't necessarily want to cut their restaurant spending,” Kalinowski said.

There's more at the link.

Why is it troubling, you ask?

  1. A "restaurant", for the purposes of the report, is any place that sells or serves food outside the home.  A fast-food joint like a McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy's is considered as much a "restaurant" as an Appleby's, Red Lobster or Chili's (or, for that matter, a fine dining establishment).  Trouble is, the food at most such outlets is carb-laden, oil-soaked and salt-sodden, to name only a few pitfalls.  It's tasty, sure, but it's also far less healthy than it should or could be.
  2. It's also far more expensive to buy a burger, or a plate of pasta, or whatever, at a restaurant than it would be to make it at home.  I reckon a family may spend four or five times as much to buy the dish elsewhere than to cook it themselves - and in a time of tight budgets and rising prices, that makes no economic sense at all.  Even worse, more and more current expenditure appears to have been charged to credit cards, rather than paid for out of disposable income - a very dangerous state of financial affairs.  Sooner or later, those bills will fall due.  What happens if they can't be paid?
  3. It may not make economic sense, but it may make the best use of a family's time to eat out rather than cook.  We're so busy these days, what with work, commuting, etc. that many simply don't have time to prepare a meal at leisure, then sit down and enjoy it together, then help each other clean up.  The restaurant is an obvious way out of that - but it also illustrates how poor some families may be in the time it takes to hold that family together, to build, maintain and sustain "the ties that bind".  In that sense, this over-reliance on restaurant food may be a harbinger of much more serious societal problems.  That's made even worse by the fact that individual family members may go to different restaurants or fast-food joints, at different times, to get their food:  or they may order it delivered to their respective tastes.  The shared experience is absent.
  4. In the "old days", housewives used to take pride in their ability to cook appetizing meals for their families.  When I was in my teens, the girls at high school used to take (compulsory) "home economics" classes for the equivalent of Grades 8-10, and could take it all the way to Grade 12 if they wished.  The boys took woodwork (or what American schools called "shop") instead.  The "sexual revolution" and women's rights movements have done away with all that.  Modern girls would probably find it degrading to be "discriminated against" by such "old-fashioned" and "patriarchal" classes.  They may be right:  but it also means that a central core of the traditional family is conspicuous by its absence.  There's an old saying that "The family that prays together, stays together".  It might equally well have read, "The family that eats together, stays together".  Sadly, today neither practice is commonplace - and it shows in the crumbling, almost moribund institution of our families.
  5. Remember what happened to supermarkets in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns?  They couldn't get enough essential supplies to deal with the sudden, vast increase in demand from consumers who were suddenly unable to go to work, restaurants and the like.  Restaurant supply chains shut down, because they had no market to service, while retail supply chains choked on the sudden increase in demand.  That's changed for now - in part because all supply chains are beset with problems at the moment - but it could happen again in another emergency.  Are we any better prepared to deal with it?  I doubt it.  What will happen if those who rely on restaurant meals can't get them any more?
  6. In a real emergency, when little or no food may be available for an extended period, how many families have reserve supplies to cope with that?  If they mostly rely on restaurants to eat, the odds are they won't have much food at home.  Even if they do, how many of them know how to safely preserve and cook their reserves?  I know some people who'd burn water if they tried to boil it.  I shudder to think how they'd flambée fry eggs, or char cook bacon, or incinerate roast a chicken!
  7. Last, but by no means least, what about all those people who rely on restaurants to earn their daily bread?  Wait staff, cleaners, bartenders, cooks, delivery drivers (for both raw materials and meals ordered for delivery) . . . they almost all lost their jobs or were furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis.  The odds are very good that they'll suffer the same fate if there's another interruption to the restaurant trade, for whatever reason.  Uneasy lies the head that wears the cook's hat?  If not, it should!

Those are just a few of the things that come to mind on reading that report.  I'm sure there are others.  I can't help but think that this is a potentially dangerous imbalance, and thus a very unhealthy state of affairs.


The Uvalde shooting: what we're learning is deeply troubling


I posted my initial reaction yesterday to the shooting of 21 people, including 19 children, at Uvalde on Tuesday.  Since then, a lot has emerged that's deeply troubling, to say the least.

The first point at issue is the conduct of local police in response to the incident.  There's video shot at the scene of Uvalde police not only refusing to enter the school in an attempt to stop the shooter, but actively preventing parents from doing so to try to rescue their children.  Official statements are beginning to confirm some of this.

Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said in a Thursday interview with CNN that the first few officers who entered Robb Elementary School after the 18-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos were met with gunfire and retreated to avoid being shot and killed.

“At that point, if they pursued it any further — not knowing where the suspect was at — they could’ve been shot; they could’ve been killed and, at that point, that gunman would have the opportunity to kill other people inside that school,” Olivarez told host Wolf Blitzer.

There's more at the link.

If this report is accurate - and so far, there's no reason to believe it isn't - then accusations of cowardice against the cops concerned are no more than they deserve.  Indeed, the claim that cops retreated because "they could’ve been shot; they could’ve been killed and, at that point, that gunman would have the opportunity to kill other people inside that school" is ludicrous.  At that point, the gunman DID have the opportunity to kill others, BECAUSE the police retreated!

When you swear an oath to protect and serve the public, you don't simultaneously swear an oath never to put yourself at risk while doing so.  The latter goes with the territory of the former.  A policeman's job is, by definition, a dangerous one, and there's no way to make it anything other than that.  I want to know what the official departmental policy(ies) of the Uvalde police force was/is concerning such crimes, and whether they were followed.  It looks very bad for the force, and for responding officers, right now.

The shining exception(s) is/are, of course, those law enforcement personnel (reportedly Border Patrol officers) who responded no matter what the risk to themselves.  For example:

Jacob Albarado had just sat down for a haircut when he received the horrifying message from his wife, Trisha, a fourth grade teacher at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school, he told The New York Times.

“There’s an active shooter,” she wrote.  “Help,” she sent before sending a chilling: “I love you.”

He immediately leapt out of his seat, grabbed the barber’s shotgun and sped off towards the school.

. . .

A tactical team was preparing to enter the school where the killer was located when Albarado arrived at the scene. Desperate to get his daughter and wife out, he made a plan with other officers to try and enter the school and evacuate as many students as possible.

He said he entered the wing of the school where he knew his daughter was located, and as he searched for her began “clearing all the classes in her wing,” he told The Times.

Two officers provided cover with guns drawn while two others guided dozens of “hysterical” children and teachers out to the sidewalk, he said.

When Albarado finally saw his 8-year-old daughter, Jayda, they embraced but he kept moving forward to bring more students to safety.

Again, more at the link.

One can only congratulate and thank those officers for their courage in putting their own lives at risk to save others.  One can also wish that the officers who initially responded to the crisis had shown the same courage.  It appears at present that, because they didn't, twenty-one innocent lives were lost.

More troubling are the renewed calls for gun control legislation that have (inevitably) followed this tragedy.  Some, from anguished parents mourning the loss of their children, are entirely understandable, based on emotion rather than logic.  Others, from politicians, journalists and pundits seeking to exploit this tragedy, are beyond the pale - almost literally dancing in the blood of those who died.  As Tucker Carlson complains:

A mass shooting is just too tempting a moment for [our leaders] to demagog. The public is often grieving and in shock, so it's the perfect moment for the usual opportunists to leap forward and cast blame on their political opponents, to seize all the power they can while the country is too traumatized to notice. You almost never hear anyone in Washington ask what happened. Instead, it's always a race to see who can benefit politically.

. . .

These ghouls drawing politically convenient conclusions, accusing people who have no connection whatsoever to this massacre, of murder, all on the basis of no evidence, and then when the evidence emerges and it doesn't comport with the politically convenient story they want to tell, they simply ignore it.

But the rest of us should not ignore it. We should not avert our gaze. We should demand the truth. We should demand to know what happened. The children who are murdered deserve at least that.

More at the link.

What no politician or commentator appears to be asking is whether more legislation, regulation, etc. would have succeeded in preventing any mass shootings of this kind.  That's my litmus test.  Show me any proposed legislation or regulation concerning firearms, meant to prevent future tragedies of this or any other kind, and my first response will be:  "Show me how this would have prevented/will prevent such tragedies."  If you can't show me, the legislation or regulation is pointless.  It's yet another case of "Don't just stand there - do something!", even if the something will be completely ineffectual.

I'm unashamedly pro-Second Amendment, and always will be.  The trouble is, too many gun control rules and regulations already infringe on that right, to the point that it's almost legislated out of existence in some localities.  (Take a bow, New York City - although there's hope that a pending SCOTUS ruling may go some way towards rectifying things there.)  Other infringements on other enumerated rights have, from time to time, been either ratified or dismissed by SCOTUS, so it's hard to argue that all constitutional rights are unfettered.  Nevertheless, the basic principle appears to be that a right may not be restricted to the point that it becomes difficult to exercise it.  On that basis, it's hard to figure out what new gun control legislation, prompted by the Uvalde massacre, would pass constitutional muster.

There's talk of possible national Red Flag legislation.  That would only work in the case of a shooter who both exhibited warning signs, and was known to possess weapons.  It would not, for example, have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre, where the shooter - not previously "flagged" as any threat to anyone, despite his aberrant behavior - murdered his own mother to gain access to the gun he used.  It would also not work in cases where "red flag" behavior did not present itself, or was not reported, prior to the incident.  Therefore, I'd say it could be classified as "feel-good legislation", giving the appearance of doing something positive to prevent such crimes, but in reality not stopping them at all.  That's the acid test as far as I'm concerned, even without considering enumerated rights.  If the proposed law or regulation won't help, why pass it in the first place?

Gun bans or confiscation won't work.  Not only would they disarm law-abiding citizens as well as actual (or potential) criminals, there are far more guns in America than there are people.  It's been that way for a long time now.  Nothing will change that.  That genie is long since out of the bottle, and we can't cram it back inside again.  There are far too many guns out there to confiscate all, or even most, of them.

Furthermore, I, for one, will refuse to allow my constitutional rights to be trampled in the name of preventing crime by someone else:  and I think the majority of Americans feel the same.  The guns I own at present have never (AFAIK) killed or injured anyone, and I hope and pray they never will - but they have defended me in the past, and put food on my table, and they currently provide security for my wife and I every day.  I regard all those things as necessities, not luxuries.

I have no other answers.  I can only "weep with those who weep" in Uvalde, to use the Biblical standard.  We all share - or should share - their grief.  As to what to do next . . . what - if anything - will actually work to prevent this happening again?  If you, dear reader, have any ideas, let's hear them.


EDITED TO ADD:  Larry Lambert notes:  "Apparently, the kids at the school were in large part, illegal aliens, so the school staff didn’t want a school resource police officer present on campus. True/untrue, who knows at this point?"

Is Georgia still riddled with electoral fraud?


The results of the Republican primary elections in Georgia this week have given much cause for concern.

Brian Kemp was getting 52% of the votes and his main challenger, David Perdue, was getting 38% of the votes just before the race.

On Primary Day in Georgia, Kemp gets 74% and Perdue gets 22%. Nobody in any election in America gets 74% of the votes. Ever. It doesn’t happen.

Brian Kemp’s funny numbers are not the only funny numbers in the Georgia primaries either. In the race for insurance commissioner, Trump-endorsed candidate Patrick Witt lost to a nobody named John King — and John King got 70% of the votes!

Now take a look at Patrick Witt’s numbers county by county: he got the same percentage of votes in 122 out of 159 counties in Georgia.

Let me repeat: the same percentage. Patrick Witt gets the same percentage in deep blue counties as he gets in deep red counties. Uniform numbers.

A month ago, the University of Georgia conducted a poll of Georgia’s Republican voters found very different results that directly contradict these funny numbers. In fact, the University of Georgia was predicting that Trump-endorsed candidates were going to win almost everything — which is happening in every other state in the country right now.

. . .

So, to summarize, Trump’s endorsement is so powerful that Patrick Witt gets 52% of the vote, Jody Hice gets 60% of the vote, and Burt Jones gets 59% in a poll one month before the races.

On Primary Day in Georgia, none of this happened.

In fact, the candidates that were not endorsed by Trump went from single digits in the poll to commanding wins rarely seen in American politics. John King (who won with 70% remember!) was getting only 7% of the poll vote. Brad Raffensperger (who won!) got only 16% of the poll vote. Butch Miller (who might still win in a recount!) got only 8% of the poll vote.

Ask yourself: is that possible?

No, it’s not.

There's more at the link.

When one considers that Kemp and Raffensperger were the politicians who went with the 2020 election results, without challenging them in any way despite overwhelming evidence of cheating, one can't help asking whether they were involved in electoral fraud then - and whether they're simply repeating their performance now, to safeguard their own positions.

I think this smells to high heaven.  The question is, what can be done about it, short of going kinetic?  And, if nothing less than the latter will do it, who in Georgia is going to call the dance?  This isn't something national intervention can solve.  It's got to be a local solution.

Georgia must sort out Georgia's problems - otherwise the state will never again be a trusted member of the US body politic.


EDITED TO ADD:  "Bear" Bussjaeger adds his thoughts on the matter.  They're worth reading.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

A fascinating discussion between two leaders in their fields


Many of my readers are doubtless familiar with the books of Steven Pressfield.  He's one of the premier historical novelists in the field today;  his breakout second novel, "Gates of Fire", went onto the Commandant of the US Marine Corps' reading list, is used as instructional material in several US military academies (including West Point and Annapolis), and is regarded as one of the finest military history novels of the last century.

Many readers are probably also familiar with Clint Smith, retired USMC Lieutenant-Colonel, Vietnam veteran, and firearms and security instructor par excellence.  He and his wife own Thunder Ranch in Oregon, which is one of the top defensive shooting schools in the nation.  I took two courses (handgun and rifle) at the previous incarnation of Thunder Ranch in Texas, and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Clint is notoriously outspoken, not pulling his punches or trying to be politically correct.  To use a Britishism, he "calls a spade a ****ing shovel", and is bluntly realistic about the life-or-death realities of self-defense.  He's famous for quips such as these:

"If pointing an empty gun at your opponent makes him duck, you may live for an extra two seconds-and who knows? I may find another gun, the bad guy may give up, or the ammo fairy may drop me a magazine."

"If we’re going down a hall and I see the end of a double barrel shotgun, I better communicate to my partner, ‘cause I can be pretty sure it’s not the Easter bunny on the other end."

"Shoot what’s available, as long as it’s available, until something else becomes available."

"You can say ‘stop’ or ‘alto’ or use any other word you think will work, but I’ve found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much the universal language."

Speaking from my own, much more limited experience, I can only say he's not wrong!

Steven Pressfield went to Thunder Ranch last year for some shooting instruction, and needless to say, he and Clint Smith found they had much in common.  They recorded a podcast together, which turned into a wide-ranging discussion of numerous points and issues.  I found it very interesting, and I hope you will too.  It's a little over an hour long.

Recommended viewing.


Without class, without compassion and without a clue


Two reactions to the Uvalde shooting, and the murders of 19 elementary schoolchildren, made me see red yesterday.

The first came from former President Obama (although, to be fair, he may not have made these tweets personally:  they may have come from a person on his staff - but if so, he needs to disown and fire that person at once, if not sooner).  Click any image to be taken to the source tweet.

To tap-dance in the blood of innocent children, by treating their murder as nothing more than a political opportunity, is so crass that I'm at a loss to find words to describe it.  (Well, I can find words, but they're not the sort I'd publish on a family-friendly blog like this!)  If President Obama actually wrote these words, he needs to be publicly condemned and pilloried for being an out-and-out asshole.  If he didn't, the person on his staff who wrote them needs to be ditto, and fired as quickly as possible.  In either case, an abject public apology is the least he can do.

The second reaction came from would-be Texas governor Robert Francis O'Rourke, who, to make himself sound more Hispanic, has adopted the moniker "Beto".

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke angrily interrupted a press conference Wednesday convened by Gov. Greg Abbott regarding Tuesday's elementary school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

. . .

O'Rourke ... approached the stage where Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sen. Ted Cruz and others were gathered and directed his ire at the man he will face in November's election.

"This is on you until you choose to do something," O'Rourke told Abbott.

O'Rourke's remarks were quickly drowned out by those on stage with Abbott.

"You're a sick son of a bitch," Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin yelled at O'Rourke, adding, "It's on assholes like you!"

Cruz, who had narrowly defeated O'Rourke in 2018 in a hotly contested Senate race, also shouted him down on Wednesday.

"Sit down and don't pull this stunt," Cruz said.

O'Rourke continued a back-and-forth with those on stage, but security at the venue soon escorted him out.

There's more at the link.

One might think O'Rourke's "outrage" was genuine, until one learns that he had seat-warmers keeping chairs open for him so that he and his party could get close to the stage without security noticing until it was too late, and had photographers and reporters standing by to record his "outrage" for posterity (and for use in his election campaign).

I'm going to use O'Rourke's and Obama's comments as a litmus test for the forthcoming elections.  Any candidate who approves of them, or echoes them, is not worth my attention or my vote.  Anyone who approves of such utter lack of class and compassion is nothing more or less than a waste of oxygen, IMHO.


Quote of the day


From Glenn Reynolds, during a podcast:

If you’re the president, if you’re a member of Congress, if you are a TSA agent, the only reason why somebody should listen to what you say, instead of horsewhipping you out of town for your impertinence, is because you exercise power via the Constitution. If the Constitution doesn’t count, you don’t have any legitimate power. You’re a thief, a brigand, an officious busybody, somebody who should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for trying to exercise power you don’t possess.

So if we’re going to start ignoring the Constitution, I’m fine with that. The first part I’m going to start ignoring is the part that says, I have to do whatever they say.

Given the massively unconstitutional policies and legislation at present being pushed by the progressive left, and by President Biden, I think Prof. Reynolds offers us the perfect response.  It's the same response we should have to any public servants (?) trying to impose upon us some unconstitutional measure, such as gun confiscation, etc.

A plague on all their houses!


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

We're being harvested. There's no other word for it.


I urge you to read John Wilder's blog post "The Modern World Part III: You Exist To Be Farmed", and Arthur Sido's reflections on that topic at "Like The Matrix But Without The Cool Outfits".  The latter article is long and complex, but makes several valuable points.  Here's how it concludes.

When you look around you see a world that is designed to harvest your productivity. Many people in our society are part of the productive class, doing some sort of labor that adds some value. Lots of others, and this is a rapidly increasing percentage of the workforce, are part of what I called The Parasite Class. I wrote:

Our society is divided economically by doers and talkers. Doers are people who have jobs that have traditionally existed in Western society. 300 years ago we had carpenters. Today we have carpenters. The tools have somewhat changed but the job is basically the same. 300 years ago we had teamsters who moved freight. We have the same thing today although they drive trucks instead of horse-drawn wagons and chuck pop bottles full of pee along the interstate. Store clerks. Cooks. Farmers. Mechanics. There is something tangible they do. You can see if a shelf is restocked with cans of chicken soup or not. Either a corn field gets planted or it doesn't. You can't fake that. Did that load of toilet paper make it from the distribution center to the local Wal-Mart or not?

Then we have the talkers. Most of my professional career I was a talker. I didn't do anything of note. I attended meetings, went on sales calls, received and replied to emails. I worked in offices or cubicles surrounded by other people who didn't actually do anything. That didn't mean it wasn't difficult and stressful, it absolutely was primarily because we weren't doing anything. Everything was made up so it was pretty tricky to do it right. It was all about managing people, and especially managing the people above you on the corporate ladder. The key was to convince them you were doing a great job when in fact you weren't actually doing anything useful at all. It didn't really matter if you worked super hard or if you spent your day getting more coffee, blogging and managing your fantasy sports teams because at the end of the day you hadn't done anything either way. As long as your boss thought you were ticking the check-boxes, you were good to go and I spent many, many years getting pretty good at managing fantasy sports teams while convincing my bosses that I was hard at work. It is a world where sycophants and suck-ups thrive and where people with middling talent of any kind can climb the corporate ladder until they find their own personal sweet spot and then they lodge themselves into their corporate host like a tick, sucking blood and impossible to dislodge.

In my parasite jobs I made lots of "money", had great "benefits" and a great "retirement plan". Being self-employed I make less "money" and have basically no "benefits" but our standard of living by my measure is higher and I am far happier. Even still, the parasite class contributes labor. Showing up to sit in a cubicle and spending the entire afternoon tweaking a Powerpoint presentation still requires time and effort. It was amazing how absolutely exhausted I could find myself at the end of a day when I didn't do anything useful. Quite the contrary, I often was more tired, stressed and depressed after a day in the office than now when I have a busy day working for myself. 

Most of us are trapped inside of a system created for the benefit of others at our expense. These people are latched onto the American people, burrowed into us like ticks and sucking the lifeblood of our labor. They are completely dependent on us but constantly tell us how dependent we are on them. Talk about dividing up the country and they sneer at us as if we couldn't possibly survive without them. What would we do without hedge fund managers manipulating imaginary stock prices or Federal flunkies moving paperwork from one folder to another? 

If D.C. were to suddenly fall victim to some cataclysm and be wiped off the face of the earth, most of us wouldn't notice other than people who receive Social Security benefits. Even SS is simply robbing younger generations to provide for older generations, something we used to do as part of our familial obligations, while D.C. takes a huge bite to facilitate taking money out of Oklahoma before sending it back to Oklahoma. 

Should the same thing happen to the Midwest? It wouldn't take long for people in the coastal urban areas to starve, for the lights to go off, and for goods and services to stop moving. As the Covid "pandemic", winter storms and budget impasses have proved over and over, when you really look at who is essential in this country, it turns out almost none of them are in the lofty elite positions in D.C. or New York. Truck drivers, farmers, plumbers. Those are essential workers. Bankers and bureaucrats, HR staff and community activists? Those jobs are not only not essential, they inhibit the productivity and happiness of normal people. 

One of the most red-pilling things you can do is to realize that you are being farmed for your productivity and then finding a way to side-step the system. How to do that is an entirely different post on it's own but suffice it to say it can be done. Given the societal trajectory we are on, I would say it must be done for your own survival. Their plan is to force you into the cities where you can be controlled more easily. Find your own path outside of their system as much as you can, denying them your productivity and insulating yourself from their plans for The Great Reset. 

Discovering you are in your own Matrix is just the first step, the next is to get yourself and your loved ones out.

There's more at the link, all of it well worth your time to read.

We're going to have to focus on this as our economy crumbles around our ears.  Each productive American worker is effectively carrying on his or her back at present at least one non-productive worker:  one whose efforts are basically producing nothing of value, but leeching off the value produced by productive workers.  We can no longer afford that.  In a time when every sinew is being strained towards sheer economic survival, there's no room for parasites any more.


Remember that pilot who passed out in mid-air? This is what happened to him.


A couple of weeks ago we heard the remarkable news that the pilot of a Cessna Caravan light aircraft had passed out in mid-air, leaving a passenger who knew nothing about flying at all to land the plane with the advice and guidance of an air traffic controller on the ground.  It was almost miraculous, and has been rightly celebrated.

Now more news is becoming available about what happened to the pilot.

The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who became incapacitated, leaving his passenger with no flying experience to land the Cessna in Florida earlier this month, suffered a tear in his aorta, his surgeon said.

Dr. Nishant Patel, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, said in a news conference Thursday that Kenneth Allen’s recovery from the aortic dissection was remarkable.

. . .

An ambulance was waiting at the airport and Allen was taken first to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was suffering signs of a stroke that left the left side of his face droopy and the loss of movement on one side of his body.

Patel said when doctors discovered Allen needed complex cardiac care, he was transferred to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.

When Allen arrived, he was “confused and lethargic,” Patel said. He then underwent a nine-hour procedure to correct the aortic dissection.

Patel and his team stopped the blood flow to every organ except Allen’s brain, which meant his body temperature was cooled.

“When you cool someone down that low, the clock is ticking,” Patel said. He said Allen had no excessive bleeding during the surgery or afterward.

“The moment that he was describing to his friends on the plane, ‘Hey guys, I don’t feel well. I have the worst headache of my life. I’m feeling fuzzy, dizzy.’ That is the exact event that the tear occurred in his aorta,” Patel said. “To be able to survive that acute event was really quite remarkable.”

There's more at the link.

Aortic dissection, as it's known, is a very dangerous condition indeed.  If the aorta (the main artery in the body, leading from the heart to other organs) tears, blood pressure can force its inner and outer layers to separate;  and if the outer layer is ruptured, allowing blood to escape into the thoracic cavity, death is almost inevitable (and usually rapid).

I think that pilot had better buy some lottery tickets.  He's very, very lucky to be alive.


The Uvalde shooting: a tragedy with some strange elements


Thoughts, prayers and support go out to the bereaved of Uvalde.  For parents and siblings to lose sons and daughters, brothers and sisters like that, particularly at so early an age, is tragic beyond description.  May God give the survivors what comfort they are able to receive, and accept the souls of the dead into His mercy.

Nevertheless, there are (yet again) elements of this shooting that are disturbingly strange.  I'll let The Intrepid Reporter outline them in more detail:  he has a stronger stomach than I for this sort of thing.  Suffice it to say that there are signs that this may not be just a random incident, but something "generated" - as there have been in disturbingly many recent shooting incidents.  Go read his initial analysis for yourself.  (Profanity warning:  he doesn't mince his words!)  In particular, he notes:

  • The shooter was in possession of a very expensive rifle and holographic sight, far more costly than most of us (including yours truly) can afford.  How does a teenager come by a weapon like that?  He was only 18, the youngest age at which he could legally buy it.  Did he buy it himself, or did someone buy it for him at a younger age?  How did he afford it?  Was it legally bought?
  • The shooter exhibited signs of psychological instability before this, including a photograph of him dressed in drag.  What sort of "treatment" or "counseling" was involved?  Were any medications in the mix, particularly SSRI's (which have been implicated in a number of previous incidents of this nature)?

I have no answers to those questions.  Hopefully some will be forthcoming during the next few days and weeks.  Meanwhile, let us never mention the shooter's name.  Let him be forgotten.  Rather, let's remember his victims, and use this tragedy as a spur to find better ways to protect our young in future.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

True dat


I came across this tweet from RoosterFJB the other day.  I can't find it today, which leads me to suspect it may have been deleted:  but fortunately I'd already saved a screenshot.

Absolutely true, IMHO, based on decades of experience in most of sub-Saharan Africa, and two-and-a-half decades in the USA since then.  Transgenderism is not, repeat, NOT a major worldwide problem.  It's only a big problem in this country, where demented dunderheaded progressive liberals have brainwashed themselves - and the poor children under their care - into believing that it's a thing.  There are, indeed, true transgendered individuals (the phenomenon known as intersex - see one such person's story here;  it's very interesting reading), but they're a tiny minority (usually calculated as less than one-tenth of one per cent of the population).

Also, let's not forget that much of the pressure to have kids think they're transsexual is nothing more or less than sexual predation by others.  As Divemedic points out:

The formative years from about 9 to 12 or so is when children form their sense of who they will become. It would be easy for a manipulative adult to convince a child that his deep friendship for his same sex best friend is really some sort of homosexual attraction of a more erotic nature, rather than of a developmental nature.

Children who are emotionally, sexually, and mentally abused or those who receive emotional trauma during these formative years are those who go on to experience mental health issues as adults. This is why allowing teachers to push these alternative roles upon children in the age groups from Kindergarten through seventh grade is so damaging to children.

This is also why there are teachers who are fighting so hard for access to children in this age group. It is access to young children that allows them to build the next generation of adults with misaligned emotional and psychological compasses.

There's more at the link.  I entirely agree with him.

Basically, in most cases, one can be fairly sure that the individual wondering whether they are, or claiming to be, transgendered is nothing of the sort.  The few genuine cases (I know three such individuals personally) have to cope with a burden I'd hate to carry, and I can only salute their courage and determination.


The Big Two see troubled waters ahead. So do I.


We've spoken often about the economic crisis in which we find ourselves.  Now comes news from Amazon and Walmart - probably the two largest retailers in the country - that both have overextended themselves, and will have to shed jobs and facilities to remain competitive.

Amazon announced that it's planning to shed at least ten million square feet of warehouse space.  (Makes my new 400 sq. ft. utility shed look rather small by comparison!)  Bloomberg reports:

Amazon.com Inc., stuck with too much warehouse capacity now that the surge in pandemic-era shopping has faded, is looking to sublet at least 10 million square feet of space and could vacate even more by ending leases with landlords, according to people familiar with the situation ... The surfeit of space could far exceed 10 million square feet, two of the people said, with one saying it could be triple that. Another person close to the deliberations said a final estimate on the square footage to be vacated hasn’t been reached and that the figure remains in flux.

. . .

In a sign that Amazon is being careful not to cut too deeply should demand quickly rebound, the 10 million square feet the company is looking to sublet is roughly equivalent to about 12 of its largest fulfillment centers or about 5% of the square footage added during the pandemic. In another signal that Amazon is hedging its bets, some of the sublet terms would last just one or two years. 

. . .

Amazon spooked investors last month after reporting slowing growth and a weak profit outlook that it attributed to overbuilding during the pandemic when homebound shoppers stormed online. At the end of 2021, Amazon leased 370 million square feet of industrial space in its home market, twice as much as it had two years earlier. 

In the April earnings report, the company said it expected the excess space to contribute to $10 billion in extra costs in the first half of 2022. The company didn’t divulge how much over-capacity it had, where it was located or what it planned to do with it.

There's more at the link.

This is pretty significant.  Amazon lives or dies by its ability to service its customers' needs accurately and in the shortest possible shipping time.  It's been caught up in a concertina-style ordering frenzy.  At the beginning of the pandemic, consumers who could no longer get to supermarkets (thanks to lockdowns) bought much more from Amazon and other online retailers.  Amazon "bulked up" to meet that demand, hiring tens of thousands more staff and opening warehouses all over the country:  but bricks-and-mortar retailers like Walmart were already doing the same, trying to make up through online sales what they were losing due to fewer shoppers in stores.  Walmart's done particularly well at that:  I now order a lot more from them, finding their prices very competitive with Amazon, and their delivery from nearby stores even faster.

This also has major implications for the trucking and transportation industries.  Walmart already had a very well-established delivery network of its own, and used it ruthlessly to gain advantage and muscle in on Amazon's operations, that were serviced by third-party operators such as UPS, FedEx, etc.  Amazon had seen this coming, and was already moving to bring more transport operations in-house (you've doubtless seen more Amazon-branded 18-wheelers on our major highways over the past year).  Now both companies have to accurately forecast demand, and tailor their transport networks accordingly:  and third-party vendors they've used in the past might find themselves holding the short end of the stick, because I'm sure the stores will give preference to their own transport operations (which have to cover their costs) over outside providers.

Last quarter Amazon's financial results were dismal compared to previous periods.  The company is moving fast to contract, shedding "fat" in both warehouse space and personnel, but if it contracts too much or too sharply, it may not be able to meet its customers' expectations, or respond quickly enough if the economy picks up again.  It's a heck of a conundrum when you're talking billions upon billions of dollars - literally.  (I've seen estimates that a single major Amazon fulfillment center contains goods worth up to one billion dollars - and the company operates hundreds of them.)

Walmart is responding in various ways, including converting space in over 100 of its bricks-and-mortar stores to serve as local fulfillment centers.  It's also automating the operation of its 42 regional distribution centers, making them more efficient (and saving a bundle on staffing costs as well, let it be said - robots don't need leave or sick leave, don't take breaks, and don't earn wages).  Once the process is complete, I expect Walmart's online order processing to be at least as efficient as Amazon's.

Both Amazon and Walmart are now talking openly about shedding staff.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said during the company's quarterly earnings call Tuesday that the company experienced "weeks of overstaffing" during the first quarter of fiscal year 2023, primarily due to the pandemic.

Walmart had hired extra associates at the end of 2021 to cover for staff that was out on COVID leave, but when Omicron cases declined the first half of the quarter, employees came back to work sooner than expected. 

The overstaffing issue was resolved during the quarter, primarily through attrition, McMillon said. 

. . .

But Walmart isn't the only retailer that ran into staffing challenges and elevated wage costs during the first few months of the year: Its primary US competition, Amazon, had the same issues. 

"As the [Omicron] variant subsided in the second half of the quarter and employees returned from leave, we quickly transitioned from being understaffed to being overstaffed, resulting in lower productivity," Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said during the company's first-quarter earnings call late last month. 

That reduced productivity added roughly $2 billion in costs for the company, Olsavsky said.

For Amazon in particular, it's a major shift from previous years. The company has added hundreds of thousands of fulfillment-center jobs since the onset of the pandemic but has shed workers faster than it could hire them. A New York Times investigation last year found that hourly workers had a turnover rate of roughly 150% each year, leading some executives to worry about running out of people to hire.

Again, more at the link.

This has much wider economic implications.  Many towns no longer have smaller local stores, because Walmart (and, to a lesser extent, dollar stores) have driven them out of the market.  If a local Walmart scales back its operations, all those out of work as a result won't be able to find other jobs, because the local economy is already under severe stress.  Amazon employs vast quantities of people, many of whom at the lower levels are now going to find their jobs under increasing pressure.  Again, if they're laid off, the odds of them finding a replacement job right now are very, very poor.  That means all our neighborhoods will be under stress, from people who need help to eat or keep a roof over their heads, to rising crime as people with no alternative turn to anything that will keep body and soul together.  Large cities will be particularly prone to such problems.

If you, dear reader, are one of those whose job might be in jeopardy, or you rely for support on someone in that situation, you might want to re-evaluate your situation right now.  We're all going to feel the consequences of these cutbacks.  Let's do what we can to prepare for them before the full impact makes itself felt.