Friday, March 31, 2023

Another very - VERY - dubious teacher exposed


Click over to this link.  It's a tweet containing a couple of minutes of video from a Eugene, Oregon school board meeting.  The speaker alleges that a teacher & high school football coach, Kirk Miller, demanded that his students provide detailed sexual fantasies in an assignment he set.  He wants the teacher fired.

Fox News reports:

... parent Justin McCall said his older daughter, who is in the 10th grade at Churchill High School, revealed the assignment had also been conducted in class and that the teacher had asked students to pick the sexual items written on a piece of paper out of a hat that he passed around.

Further scrutiny of the "Health 2 Human Sexuality" class found that students were also allegedly given an assignment called "With Whom Would You Do it." The project involved a virtual spinning wheel labeled with sexual categories. Students were allegedly instructed to respond when the wheel stopped and write the initials of the person they would engage in the sex act with.

"My daughter told me it was literally up on the board and it mentioned you know who are you going to have anal penetration with, oral sex, licking of the ear, kissing and vaginal sex," McCall said, calling the assignment "disgusting and wrong."

There's more at the link, including more allegations against the school and school board.

Personally, if my child came home and told me about something like that, I honestly can't say what my reaction would be:  but I fear it would be rather less verbal and rather more practical than Mr. McCall's.  No teacher has any need - or any right - to ask such questions of his or her pupils.  The very act of asking them is, to my mind, an admission of pedophilia, and should receive an appropriate response from any parent who cares about their children.

I can only hope that attempts to supplant the Eugene School Board later this year in the next elections bear fruit, and that those who've permitted and tolerated this filth are removed from office as fast as possible.


How the supply chain crunch is impacting aircraft


The aircraft industry is amongst the highest of high-tech sectors of the economy.  It's never recovered from the COVID-19 lockdowns and the resultant disruption in supply.  The air freight market has boomed, as a result of turbulence in ocean shipping, but can't get enough freighter aircraft to meet the demand.

Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) conversion programme for Boeing 777s is behind schedule.

. . .

IAI is not the only aerospace company behind schedule with its conversion programme. Elbe Flugzeugwerke, the joint-venture of Airbus and ST Aerospace for Airbus passenger-to-freighter conversions, revealed in October it would miss its target of turning 12 A330s into all-cargo configuration this year and would be struggling to complete more than eight.

The situation is not much better in new aircraft productions: after turning out 51 planes in September, Boeing managed only 35 in October, and with 122 new orders signed that month, the backlog continued to grow.

Airbus delivered 68 commercial aircraft in November, but this was not enough to keep the company on track to meet its 2022 target. A few days ago it officially acknowledged it would not be able to achieve “around 700” deliveries this year, after all.

The aerospace industry has become a poster child for broken supply chains under the long shadow of Covid. Aircraft production and conversions have been hobbled by shortages of labour and parts from raw materials and rivets to microchips and engines.

And the problem is not confined to any specific sector or geography, nor to size of suppliers, as Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury stressed at the end of November.

The meltdown started during the pandemic, which severely disrupted aerospace supply chains. Built on the just-in-time concept, they were not able to cope with problems of quarantines, disrupted schedules, large-scale flight cancellations and travel restrictions. While those issues have largely disappeared, parts shortages and lengthy delays remain chronic and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine and continuing lockdowns in China have exacerbated the problems, Mr Faury said.

And his outlook on a return to normal is bleak. He said: “We believe we will be operating in this supply constraint environment for at least a year.”

Other industry executives are citing wait times of ten or 11 months for certain parts and, with more than 10,000 parts used in a conversion of an aircraft, this opens a veritable Pandora’s box of potential for bottlenecks and disruption.

There's more at the link.

These shortages have led to the bizarre situation of perfectly good aircraft being bought to be broken up for spare parts, rather than to operate them.  For example:

AAR Supply Chain is to acquire nine Boeing 757-200 passenger jets and their 18 Rolls-Royce RB211 engines from American Airlines to provide spare parts for freighter aircraft.

“The acquisition of these aircraft and engines will enable AAR to continue to support the RB211-powered 757 cargo market,” says Brian Salvatori, AAR’s vice-president of asset trading.

Again, more at the link.  (The 757 is a popular freighter:  for example, FedEx flies over 100 of them.)

I understand that some conversion specialists, who are taking older airliners and gutting them to become freighters, are having to obtain parts via the same route, because original equipment manufacturers are concentrating on parts for more modern aircraft and don't have the time or the capacity to produce spares for older planes.

I wonder how many spare parts for passenger-carrying aircraft are coming from similar sources?  I'm sure the airlines will argue that "used" spare parts are thoroughly checked and safe to operate, but it's not a comforting feeling for passengers to ponder the thought.

There's also the ongoing (and worsening) problem of counterfeit spare parts coming from China and infiltrating the supply chain.  Such parts haven't been built and/or documented to the safety standards required by US administrators, and have demonstrated poorer reliability.  Some have been so shoddily made that they're a danger to the aircraft on which they're fitted;  fatal crashes have resulted.

The combination of factors shows how the supply chain problems revealed by COVID-19 have been elevated to a whole new level of risk in the air (and probably in other forms of travel as well).  Not a comforting thought, if one has to fly somewhere . . .


It just goes to show that corruption is widespread throughout the 50 states


This report out of North Carolina is an eye-opener.

In revealing, sometimes emotional, testimony Tuesday before the N.C. House Oversight and Reform Committee, State Bureau of Investigation Director Bob Schurmeier described a culture of political strong-arming from Gov. Roy Cooper’s senior staff.

Schurmeier accused Cooper staffers of interfering with his ability to manage direct reports, intimidating him with threats, and calling for his resignation.

Schurmeier pinpointed Cooper’s Chief of Staff Kristi Jones and General Counsel Eric Fletcher as being the couriers of the pressure campaign, threatening him with a “big investigation” and accusing him of racial discrimination if he did not resign. He refused to do so.

. . .

Schurmeier came forward about the political drama to lawmakers. He said the future of the state’s top criminal investigative agency depended on distancing it from the Department of Public Safety and allowing it to operate more independently, but with accountability.

He described an environment in which senior members of his staff were hired and directed by the governor’s office and had divided loyalties, particularly his lead attorney, listed on the SBI website as Angel Gray, who was allegedly “reminded that she works for the governor” by one of Cooper’s senior advisers.

Schurmeier said both SBI lawyers happened to be “out” when Schurmeier was confronted on two occasions by Jones and Fletcher. When he consulted with Gray as the agency’s general counsel, he said she was not responsive. They went long periods without talking at all. He says he requested to Jones that Gray be reassigned, to no avail.

There's more at the link.

(It's worth noting that Mr. Schurmeier is coming to the end of his term as Director, so he has no personal axe to grind in this matter.  He's trying to clean out the Augean stables so that his successor in office won't have to face the same problems.  I think that's admirable, no matter what politics are involved.)

This just goes to show that every state in the Union has more or less the same problems that we're seeing in Washington D.C.  There's corruption to be found everywhere if one looks for it.  The security of our system of government and way of life depends on ferreting it out, exposing it, and getting rid of it.  It doesn't matter whether the politics are left- or right-wing;  corruption is lethal to democracy, whatever form it takes and whatever side it supports.

Let's hope North Carolina manages to get rid of this round of corrupt politicians, and clean house . . . until the next time, anyway.  Let's also hope other states learn from its example.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Neil Oliver lays it on the line


We've met Neil Oliver many times in these pages.  In his latest podcast video, he points out that "our leaders are no longer for us, they’re against us & they’re doubling down on every one of their failed policies".  He predicts that "Tyranny or revolution, it's coming - a storm is coming".

I highly recommend taking ten minutes out of your day to hear what he has to say.

The worst of it, to me, is that our leaders don't actually care that they're hurting their own people and their own nations so badly.  They're absolutely convinced of their own infallibility.  They're in thrall to an intellectual conception that has little or nothing to do with lived reality, and they're more than willing to sacrifice everything and everyone on that conceptual altar rather than back off and admit they may have it wrong.

One hopes that tyranny will be forestalled, even if that means revolution.  Either way, it's going to be an interesting ride.




Another good one from Stephan Pastis.  This one warms the cockles of my African heart.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the "Pearls Before Swine" Web page.

I beg to differ with Zebra.  "Yum" is, indeed, a very African response!


"Trans activism is sexist and delusional"


That's the position of Jordan Peterson, who lays out the medical, biological and human facts of the matter with devastating clarity in an article for the Telegraph in London.  That article is paywalled, but a non-paywalled edition may be viewed here.  Here are a couple of excerpts.  They're long, but I think they're essential to understanding the Nashville tragedy a couple of days ago.

What is a woman?

A defining question of our times, and the title of a now infamous documentary indicating the breadth of the political chasm dividing us here in the West.

Here is an answer, summarising current scientific understanding and coming from a research psychologist and clinician.  

Let's start with the basics. Sexual differentiation, on the biological front – where the whole woman/man dichotomy originates, after all – happened two billion years in the past, long before nervous systems developed a mere 600 million years ago. The brute fact of sexual dichotomy was already a constant before even the basics of our perceptual, motivational, emotional and cognitive systems made their appearance on the cosmic stage. Thus, it could be argued that sexual differentiation is more ‘real’ than even ‘up’ or ‘down’, ‘forward’ or ‘back’– more so than pain or pleasure – and, as well, that its perception (given the necessity of that perception to successful reproduction) is key to the successful propagation of life itself.  

The fact that such perception and sex-linked action was possible even before nervous systems themselves evolved should provide proof to anyone willing to think that the sexual binary is both fundamental objective fact and primary psychological axiom.

There’s more: sexual differentiation is observable at every level of biological function. Sperm and egg are sexually differentiated; the 40 trillion cells that make up the human body each have a nucleus containing 23 paired chromosomes. Every single cell (with some minor exceptions) in a woman is female, and every single cell in a man male.  

Physiological differences between the sexes, in addition to those that obtain at the cellular level, are manifold. Human males and females differ, on average, in hormonal function, brain organisation, height, weight, strength, endurance, facial features and patterns of bodily hair, to take some obvious examples. But the differences are not limited to the physical. Men and women differ enough in temperament so that they can be distinguished with about 75% accuracy on that basis alone. If differences in interest are taken into account, that distinction becomes even more accurate. Such temperamental and interest differences are also larger, not smaller, in more gender-neutral societies, a strong indication of their biological basis.

Identity is not subjective

The claim of the so-called “progressives”, however, is that feelings alone are sufficient to define personhood. This claim is simultaneously ignorant, preposterous and malevolent. Even if biology was ignored entirely, identity is not and cannot be deemed merely subjective – not least because the environment to which each individual must adapt is social, as well as natural, and not solipsistic. This means that every person must, by the very nature of being human, adopt a way of being that he or she cannot entirely choose.

. . .

This essential truth – that subjective feeling does not and cannot define identity – is now being willfully ignored by those who have a duty to know better.

The American Psychological Association and other ideologically-captured professional bodies have recently claimed that “gender-affirming” care constitutes the proper clinical standard. Furthermore, under the deceptive guise of anti-“conversion-therapy” legislation, this so-called standard has been rendered something legally required.

This is a problem so serious that it threatens not only the utility and integrity of both the clinical and medical professions, but the stability of society itself.

Subjective feeling is not a negotiated identity of the sophisticated and socially-integrated form. It is instead, something akin to raw emotion – something shallow, impulsive, and mutable; something that does not iterate well, in its hedonic excesses, across social situations or time. Thus, those who argue that that emotion (in its most short-term manifestation) must be, ethically and by law, the determining measure of “identity,” of clinical and medical practice, and of legal personhood, are insisting with force on the adoption of an idea as imprudent and immature as can possibly be conceptualised.

. . .

What constitutes “female” has now been reduced to “any human with a hole, however produced, that a man can use as a substitute or replacement for masturbation or dyadic intercourse.” That definition is the ultimate in sexism. That is far and away a more reductionist and derogatory conceptualisation of woman than anything previously foisted on women by even the most oppressive of patriarchal and misogynistic tyrants.

Holding people accountable

The use of puberty blockers, hormone treatment, and surgical intervention on confused children is one of the worst moral crimes that clinical counselors and physicians have perpetrated in the history of their respective professions. It’s at the level of the Tuskegee-syphilis-experiment or widespread-casual-lobotomy-professional conduct. It’s forced sterilisation-eugenics level malpractice, unconscionable and unforgivable. What happened in the UK at the Tavistock clinic was a travesty. To dub it “bad science” is to barely skim the surface. What is happening in the name of narcissistic compassion has crossed the line from self-serving ignorance to the outright felonious.

There is simply no excuse whatsoever, clinical, ethical, political or medical, for this outrage to continue. We are going to look back on this period as another epoch where a form of contagious insanity took hold in multiple forms. First, the trans epidemic itself; and second the epidemic of enabling false virtue, masquerading as compassion that impels those who should know better to insist on the surgical mutilation and sterilisation of children to further terrible claims to a non-existent moral propriety and depth of “care.”

This has to stop, and the perpetrators held responsible. There is every bit of evidence available to suggest that sex is not only immutable, but fundamentally binary, and that the perception of such is as fundamental as any perception conceivable. There is simply no excuse for counsellors and physicians to validate the claims of all-knowing subjective identity put forward by the gender radicals and their “allies.” There is no evidence whatsoever that minors have the wisdom to grant truly informed consent to those delusional and greedy enough to offer them an enticing physical solution to their primarily psychological problems.

There is sufficient evidence to assume that enabling such behavior – even promoting it – has already caused a psychological epidemic among confused young people, whose intensity is still mounting and spread still increasing. There is no data indicating that early transition is in anyone’s best interest, and plenty to suggest that “first do no harm” is the proper course of action when dealing with children who are expressing bodily dysmorphia. The counsellors who refuse to grant credence to this multitude of claims are lying; the physicians and surgeons who rush forward to offer serious and irreversible intervention when mere delay resolves 90% of the cases are acting in no one’s interest but their own (as was clearly the case with the Tavistock clinic).

Enough truly is enough – and there has already been plenty more than enough.

There's more at the link.  I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

I think we owe Dr. Peterson a debt of thanks for daring to speak out against the politically correct perspectives surrounding "trans activism", and laying out the factual, biological, medical truth of the matter.  I strongly suggest that you pass on the link to this article, and/or the link to the full version (provided above), to your friends and relatives.  We need to make sure that the truth is heard.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Health update


Regular readers will know that since my disabling injury in 2004, I've been growing steadily less healthy, thanks to the limitations on mobility and exercise imposed by that injury, plus constant, never-ending pain from nerve damage.  My weight also ballooned, thanks to the wrong mix of medications after a heart attack in 2009, which caused me to put on over 100 pounds in less than a year.  The combination trashed my body's metabolic balance, and I've never been able to lose weight by "regular" means since then.  (I wasn't able to exercise normally, thanks to my earlier injury.)

Blood tests last month warned me that I had to do something, or die soon.  My liver was flashing danger signs, my pre-diabetic symptoms had erupted into full-blown diabetes (Type 2), and other indications warned of potential organ failure unless I did something drastic.  I wrote about it earlier this month.

I'm doing something drastic to try to counter the overall deterioration in my health, including pain levels.  I've recently started a liquid-only fast Monday-Friday every week, with strictly limited food intake (mostly carnivore, i.e. meat-only) at the weekends.  It's helping me to lose weight (a lot of which piled on since my injury, thanks to my inability to exercise much due to pain and physical limitations), and I hope it'll also have the effect of a "hard reset" on some of my bodily problems.  It has for some (not all) others, so I'm hoping it'll benefit me too.  Results won't be verifiable for some months, so watch this space for details in due course.  (Yes, I'm doing it under medical supervision, to try to avoid some of the problems others have encountered.  I'm following the general guidelines provided by Dr. Jason Fung of Canada, with a number of variations on the theme tailored to my needs and abilities.)

Last Friday I did another comprehensive series of blood tests.  They show dramatic improvement in almost all areas of concern, including my liver, which has returned to the mid-range of normal readings in terms of function, etc.  My heart health is also better.  For both organs, the "hard reset" effect of the fast appears to have worked.  My diabetes is well on the way to being not only controlled, but eliminated, if current trends continue.  Best of all, after thirty days on this rigorous fasting diet my weight is down by 30.7 pounds.  That's so high it's potentially cause for concern if I wasn't doing this under medical supervision (too-rapid weight loss can cause organ failure and other problems).  However, with my blood tests being so positive, and no visible or obvious health concerns as a result, I'm happy with it.  I see my doctor tomorrow to have her check me out from head to foot.  If she gives the go-ahead, I'll continue with the weekly fast;  if she thinks I should break before continuing it, I'll eat for a couple of weeks, then get back to business.  That'll be her call.

I expect future months' weight loss to be considerably less, because the initial week or two on this fasting diet always gets rid of the "easy weight" (excess water, etc.).  Later weeks are half, or less than half, of that earlier loss.  Still, if I can maintain 10-12 pounds per month, sooner or later I'll get to where I want to be.  That's going to take a long time, and I know I won't enjoy the process:  but if normal diet and exercise can't work for me, this is about the only thing that will.

Thank you for all the good wishes you've sent.  Here's hoping for continued success.




From reader Andrew in Australia:

Clearly, he lettered (you should pardon the expression) in transatlantic humor . . .


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Russia-China relationship: one-sided?


Peter Ziehan has some interesting thoughts on the reality of the situation.  His video is less than 4 minutes long, and is worth your time, IMHO.

Food for thought, no?  If I were President Putin, I wouldn't be sleeping easily at night . . .


Phil offers valuable advice


Phil from Bustednuckles has some very useful advice.  I've taken the liberty of borrowing much of his post, because it deserves the widest circulation.

Lurch came out and said that [the Biden administration] is going to be mandating changes to cars and both light and heavy trucks because Climate Bull****.

This is on top of them already going after gas stoves and now air conditioners.

The newer refrigerators and washing machines are already very expensive running jokes compared to the ones made even twenty years ago.

Every time the government sticks it’s collective nose into consumer goods everything turns to absolute ****.

. . .

Basically if something has a proven track record and works, we can’t have that anymore.

***** these ***holes I say.

Now would be a good time to get ahead of the game and start looking around for some of these older things that still have life in them. The average price of a new car has got to be over $35 grand by now.

If you can find a decent rig from fifty odd years ago, spending half that much restoring it will get you a rig that will last for years and you will be money ahead.

Even if you have to get it from another state and have it trucked in you will be money ahead.

There won’t be a kill switch in it either.

Same goes with refrigerators and laundry machines.

There are guys out there who specialize in restoring old refrigerators and there are still plenty of outfits around that can repair old laundry equipment.

***** these new computer controlled/ energy and water efficient pieces of ****.

They don’t work worth a damn to begin with and they have a life span measured in months, not years anyway.

There's more at the link.  The comments from Phil's readers are also worth your time.

Seriously, that's good advice.  When I look into the engine compartments of my car and Miss D.'s, I'm at a loss to figure out what needs doing and how to do it.  My first car was a Morris 1100, followed by a Chevrolet Firenza 1300.  In both vehicles, the engines were so well laid out (in accessible engine compartments) and so simply arranged that a shade tree mechanic could do almost anything necessary to keep them running - no computers, no covers concealing fiddly bits, no drain plugs carefully positioned behind half a dozen vital components that had to be removed before changing the oil.  One took it for granted that one could do one's own maintenance if necessary.  Today?  Not so much - unless you have a computer in your garage that can diagnose issues, then issue step-by-step instructions to three robotic assistants to do the actual work.  Sheesh!

As for large appliances . . . when we moved to Texas, we were gifted an older clothes washer and drier by a friend.  The drier is still going strong.  The washer gave up the ghost last year, but Miss D. didn't want to spend the inordinate amount of money demanded by local stores for a new unit.  Instead, she shopped around and bought a used, refurbished unit.  After a bit of fiddling to get it into fully working order, it's performing well for us, and we saved hundreds of dollars.  (Have I ever mentioned how thankful I am that my wife is more mechanically minded and repair-oriented than I am?  She's a gem!)

New vehicles and appliances are just about unaffordable for most of us, with recent-model used examples rapidly going the same way.  Around here we still sometimes find older used vehicles and appliances for sale at halfway affordable prices, and plenty of small repair shops that will restore them to operation for a manageable fee.  They aren't short of business, and the way things are going, that doesn't look like changing.  Take Phil's advice while used examples are still available!


The Tennessee tragedy


So yesterday, a Christian elementary school was attacked by a clearly deranged transsexual criminal - in this case, a woman identifying as a man.  Three children and three adults were murdered before the offender was herself dispatched to her eternal "reward" (which, one fears, may involve a great deal of heat and not very much light at all).

I don't intend to get into the debate over whether to refer to the shooter as "him" or "her".  As far as I'm concerned (and as I've said in these pages several times before), the chromosomes have it.  Was the shooter XX or XY?  That settles once and for all, definitively and incontrovertibly, whether he/she/it was male or female.  End of argument, end of discussion.  Those who wish to distinguish "gender" from "sex" can pontificate to their hearts' content.  Their opinions won't change biological and medical facts.

As a pastor and a man of faith, I must simply point out that evil remains among us, as it has since the dawn of time and as it will until the end of time.  What happened yesterday was evil, pure and simple.  Whether the shooter was an evil person, or whether evil influenced or took her over in some way, is irrelevant at this point.  The deed, and its outcome, can't be described as anything but evil, and her participation was an act of evil.  If there be forgiveness for her - if forgiveness is even possible for such unspeakable evil - then give thanks for God's mercy, and for the fact that He understands far better than ourselves what lies in the hearts of men (and women).  That's His decision.  (Yes, I'm capitalizing God's title and pronouns.  I'm the traditional sort, and this is my blog.  Live with it.)  Since I'm going to be in dire need of God's mercy for my own sins, I won't seek to deny it to anyone else for theirs, no matter how sickened and horrified I may be by what they did.

When I see transsexual advocates actively proclaiming, promoting and participating in morally evil acts - not restricted to school shootings, but including exposing children to drag queen shows and other morally questionable influences, and demanding that the rest of us not only tolerate, but actually approve of such derangement - then it's very hard not to paint that entire section of society as evil in itself.  I know there are many in that section who are deranged, not able to understand good and/or evil and unable to see how the latter has influenced them;  but that doesn't change the objective truth of their actions.  They are denying reality.  They are insisting that reality is what they say it is, rather than what it objectively is.  That's a lie from start to finish.  A well-known tweet hilariously exposes that reality.

No amount of opining will change reality.  No amount of psychological or psychiatric fixation will change human chromosomes.

As a person of faith, I believe that yesterday's school shooting in Tennessee was not only an act of evil in itself:  it was also the inevitable result of allowing inaccurate, untrue, deviant perspectives and "woke" opinions to deny and defy reality.  If one does that for long enough, eventually (I believe) one becomes mentally, spiritually and morally divorced from reality . . . with the result we saw yesterday.

If that opinion be politically incorrect, so be it.  I'm far from alone in holding it.  Indeed, some go considerably further than I do.  It's morally wrong to tar all transgender individuals with the same brush, I know . . . but in the light of yesterday's horror, it's entirely understandable that some do.

Let's hope and pray that such reactions don't spill over into violence in their turn.  Our society is sick enough as it is without returning evil for evil.


Monday, March 27, 2023

"The Future of Warfare is Devastation"


That's the opinion of retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor in an hour-long presentation.  The video recording is embedded below, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a transcript online.  I also don't know when or where his speech was delivered, except that it was in "Carlisle".  Can any reader enlighten us in Comments, please?

I took the time to listen to the whole video, and found it insightful and thought-provoking.  It embodies many realities of modern warfare, some of which I experienced at first hand, others of which have arisen since my time in uniform but have been extensively discussed elsewhere.  I think you'll find it worth your time and attention.

After hearing that, I think I'm going to investigate Col. Macgregor's books as well.


The fundamental dishonesty of those in power


From Neil Oliver in Britain:

Who watches the watchers? Who guards the guards?

The question was posed by the Roman satirist Juvenal 2,000 years ago, but it has never been more relevant. It’s applied now to remind us of the need to keep a watchful eye on those in power.

This should be our paramount concern now, when lies and liars are everywhere.

. . .

It is as obvious as Boris Johnson’s estrangement from the truth that this tyranny should never have been allowed to evolve and that, since it has, we must not tolerate it a moment longer.

Decisions of importance must be made by those with skin in the game, but with no means to profit either directly or indirectly from the decisions they come to.

. . .

Here’s the thing: it’s long past time to watch the guards. What we need, all over the West and once and for all, is a changing of the guards.

There's much more at the link, and it's all worth reading.  If you prefer to listen, here's his weekly monologue on video.

Trouble is, in order to change the guards, we need to change the way in which the guards are chosen - because the present guards control it, and they're not about to surrender that control.  As comedian (and wise man) George Carlin put it (profanity alert!):

Neil Oliver is right - but so was George Carlin . . . so what's the way forward?

It's the "four boxes" conundrum all over again.  If the ballot box is corrupted, and the jury box is rigged, and the soap box is censored, that leaves only one box at our disposal.  No-one in his or her right mind wants to use that . . . but if we have to have a solution (and we do!), what's the alternative?  I have no comforting answer to that question.

Sadly, the lesson of history is that the final box may not be moral, and may not be satisfactory, but all too often it's been rendered inevitable by those who've crippled or disabled the first three.  That lesson appears to have been disregarded by each successive generation of self-focused, self-interested, self-centered leaders, who've all refused to learn from the fate of their predecessors.


Memes that made me laugh 152


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

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sunday morning music


Courtesy of a link at 357 Magnum, I was introduced to the music of German group Qntal.  They're an oddball ensemble, starting with musicians trained in the classical tradition but with a great deal of influence from what the group calls "Electro".  Their Web site says:

When Qntal first appeared on the scene with their previously unheard, bold mixture of medieval melodies and Electro back in 1992, they took the world by surprise. Of course people had heard medieval music before and were fairly familiar with electronic music, too. Combining them, though, was an unexpected novelty. To this day, Qntal are forerunners of a genre they themselves helped establish...

. . .

Sometimes, a start indeed is something magical. Something strange. Just like back then, all these years ago, when Syrah, Michael Popp and Ernst Horn founded this band. A truly unique project was born whose debut “Qntal I” already propelled the trio, exclusively coming from the serious shores of classical music, into a scene that back then didn’t even know it existed. Things are radically different today, of course. And still, Qntal remain the genres’ founding pioneers who managed to extract something truly original from two musical realms – a thoroughly unique voice.

I've selected a few of their songs at random this morning.  I'm still learning more about the group, so I can't claim these are representative of their best - they simply appealed to me.  We'll start with the song linked at 357 Magnum, "Monsieur's Departure".  If you need them, lyrics may be found here.

This one's titled "Before The World Was Made".

And here's "Nox Aeterna".

And finally, from their latest album, "Quis Est Deus?"  Lyrics are here.

An interesting collection.  I can't yet say for sure that I really like this group, but I certainly find their work interesting, particularly their blend of classical and electronic music traditions.  They've been hard at it for over two decades, which speaks to their staying power and fan base.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Saturday Snippet: The Greek gods at Delphi


Mary Renault was an English writer who gained fame for being the first modern novelist to portray homosexuality in a positive light in her books.  She was utterly unlike today's gay activists with their in-your-face propaganda;  rather, she tried to portray homosexuality as a simple fact, a part of human existence that until then had been scorned and vilified in Western society.  She was a lady (in the pre-World-War sense), and wrote in that vein - no steamy sex scenes or raw, unfiltered physicality.

Unfortunately, that aspect of her work has tended to overshadow her eight absolutely magnificent historical novels about classical Greece, which are among the finest of their kind ever written.  I have them all, and re-read them at least every year or two.  I've loved them since my youth.  If historical novels appeal to you, these are truly masterworks that deserve your attention.

For this morning's Snippet, I've chosen her novel "The Mask of Apollo".

It tells the story of Nikeratos, an actor who finds himself caught up in the action and drama of the times, particularly concerning Syracuse and Athens.  It's a brilliant portrayal of Greek society, beliefs and attitudes, and is one of my favorites among her novels.  You can read a brief synopsis here, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing for yourself.  It repays attention.

I've chosen this excerpt to illustrate Greek attitudes towards the theater, and towards their gods:  but in particular, because it illustrates Mary Renault's ability to paint a scene with words, to penetrate beyond the obvious to the inner attitudes of her characters and the world they inhabited (very foreign to our modern eyes and way of thought).  Nikeratos and his friend and fellow actor, Anaxis, have traveled to Delphi to present a play (not yet selected by their sponsors) at a festival there.

Ask some poet to describe the awe of Delphi, and some philosopher to explain it. I work with the words of other men. I looked back down the valley, the olives winding and falling mile on mile to a rock-clipped blink of sea. Beyond a vast gulf of air were the highlands of Mount Korax, cloud-patched with sun and gloom; westward the iron cliffs of Kirphis; above us reared Parnassos, more felt than seen. Its head was hidden by its knees, the rock-towers of the Phaidriades, which themselves seemed to gore the sky. Truly, Apollo is the greatest of all chorus-masters. The town, with his temple in the midst, is tiny as a toy in all this vastness; yet all those titan heads stand around that and look towards it. They are the chorus round his altar; if he raised his arm they would sing a dithyramb. I don’t know any other deity who could bring off such a show. At Delphi, you don’t ask how they know it is the center of the earth.

I looked up the great steeps of the Phaidriades, which stand behind the theater like a skene reaching to heaven. “Look!” I said. “Eagles!”

“My dear Niko, they are as common here as doves. Do let us get to the inn while they have something left to eat. If this is your first visit, you need not tell the world.”

Next morning we looked over the theater. We were pleased to find not a bit of obsolete equipment anywhere; after the big earthquake of five years back, they had had to refit completely. There was still scaffolding round the temple, and the roof a makeshift of pinepoles and thatch; Apollo and the Earth Snake kept up their ancient war. We shouldered back through the town under the tall proud statues, past the treasure houses for the cities’ offerings, Anaxis waiting patiently while I tipped the guardians and gaped at all the gold. He squeezed past sightseers and guides and pilgrims, soldiers and priests and slaves, temple-sweepers with brooms and whores with fans; stalls selling lamps, ribbons, raisins, books of oracles, and sacred bayleaves for lucky dreams. Looking up and about, I thought it was like dwarfs playing on a stage designed for titans. I suppose it was still a small, solemn place when Xerxes’ army came to lift the gold, and they asked Apollo what to do. “Get out,” he said, “I can take care of my own.” They still show the rock-peak he hurled down on the Persians, blazing aloft the Phaidriades and yelling through the thunder. I bought, for keepsake, a little gilded bronze of the god drawing his bow. A pretty thing. The old statue in the temple, that is an Apollo to shoot straight. But the shops don’t copy it now; they say it is crude, and art must move with the times.

Presently came a slave to meet us, bidding us take wine with our choregos.

We were led to a fine painted house beside the Stadium, and saw at once that our sponsor was a syndicate. Three were Delphians; but by watching whom everyone looked at first, we guessed it was the fourth who was putting up the money. He was one Philiskos, an Asian Greek from Abydos. What with his clothes and his ivory fly-whisk, and Delphi being as full of gossip as a winter hive of bees, we added two and two. This was King Artaxerxes’ agent, playing host to the conference with Persian gold.

While sweets and civilities went round, we discussed the play. The citizens of Delphi weren’t mentioned from first to last; it was the delegates who must be pleased. It was my turn to direct and choose a role, and I had proposed Hippolytos with the Garland. It was as good as settled, when some little man, who I’ll swear only wanted to go home saying he had spoken, said it might give offense to the Athenians, by showing King Theseus in the wrong. We both assured them it was revived in Athens about one year in five, and was the surest hit in repertory. Too late; the damage was done, the panic started. At a peace conference, it went without saying that everyone would be looking for slights and insults. Helen in Egypt might affront the Pharaoh; Medea, the Corinthians; Alkestis, the Thessalians. Once or twice I stole a glance at Anaxis, meaning, “Let’s leave them at it; before they miss us we’ll be in Thebes.” But he had set his heart and hopes on this production. When I whispered, under cover of all the dickering, “Try offering them The Persians!” he looked down his nose and would not laugh.

From mere boredom I started dreaming, and dreams bring memories. Next time they paused to scratch their heads, I said, “Why not The Myrmidons?”

How often, if ever, you have seen this play depends upon where you live. It is a favorite in Thebes and well liked in Macedon. In Athens it is hardly ever revived; no sponsor likes to take the risk. Ever since Aischylos’ own day, some people have always disapproved; and you never know when they will get on the judges’ board. Demagogues have proclaimed that the love of man for youth is a relic of aristocracy (a politician will say anything, if it strikes where he wants to hit), and the last thing they want to hear is that the play is noble. They would rather those great avowals did not ring on so in the heart.

Today, however, it turned out to be just the thing. Having looked at it backwards, sideways and upside down, they could not find a single slur on anyone’s ancestors, gods or city.

We went our way, stuffed full of Persian sweets and almonds, cursing the waste of time but satisfied with the outcome. Anaxis was content with his roles. I, being protagonist, would do Achilles; but Patroklos has some lovely lines, and so has Briseis later. Krantor would do Odysseus and the other odd parts. “And,” said Anaxis, “I suppose Apollo in the prologue?”

Walking as we talked, we had come out on top of the theater seats, and were gazing over the temple roof at the mountains. I said, “No, I’ll take Apollo myself.”

Anaxis raised his brows. “Do you want to? It’s a very quick change. Don’t forget Apollo is flown on; you’ll have the harness to get rid of.”

“I’ve a fancy for it. One’s not in Delphi every day. Call it my service to the god.”

That evening we were summoned back to meet the chorus-master, the flute-player and the skene-painter. The painter, Hagnon, was an old friend from Athens. Between rehearsals, I stayed to chat with him while he painted trophies-of-arms on the reveal and Greek tents on the flats. From time to time he would shout for his man to bring him ladder or paint, or shift his scaffolding, complaining that the fellow was never at call. He was lanky and spindle-shanked, with a straggling yellow beard; once I caught him staring at me, and it stirred some memory I could not place; but it was clear he would stare at anything rather than work, and I thought no more of it. Hagnon had had to take him on at Delphi, having come to do murals in a private house and getting this contract afterwards.

Rehearsals went smoothly. The chorus of Myrmidons were fine well-built men and could sing as well. I found a saddler to make me a flying-harness. The crane-man weighed me for the counterweight; finding him skillful, I only did my fly-in once with him, and rehearsed the prologue from the god-walk.

I enjoyed working on The Myrmidons. I had steeped my soul in it when young, and it still moved me. I have heard Patroklos better done—Anaxis had technique enough to sound young, but fell short of charm—still he did bring out the character’s goodness, without which nothing makes sense.

Delphi was filling up every day. Delegates were arriving, and, as Anaxis told me, all kinds of agents to watch the delegates, sent by the opposition in their various cities, their secret allies in rival cities, the interested kings and tyrants, and I don’t know whom. I was more amused by the high-priced hetairas who had come in from other towns and set up house to the rage of the Delphi girls; they would make a better audience than all these peace-traders. Leaving Anaxis to smell about, I went walking on the thymy hillsides or through the olive groves, hearing for chorus the cicadas and mountain birds, while I ran over this speech or that. One day Anaxis came bustling up to say that the envoy of Dionysios had come at last, and bettered our hopes by being some great personage and the tyrant’s kin. My mind was on the placing of a breath-pause, and the name went straight out of my head.

At my request, Hagnon was painting the masks for the principals; the local mask-maker was fit only for chorus work, but Hagnon worked wonders with his carving, as a good painter can. He had done me a fine Achilles, and was working on Patroklos. The Apollo was not yet carved.

Ever since Lamprias died and his widow sold up his things, I had kept the mask of Pheidias hanging, in a box like a little shrine, on the wall of my room in Athens. Remembering Phigeleia, before every contest I would wreathe it and make some offering. There was no good reason why I should have brought it with me—one can always find a friend to mind one’s things when touring—yet some reason had seemed good, and it was on the table at my lodging. That evening, when the lamp was lit and the shadows moved with the flame, it seemed to look straight at me with eyes inside its eyeholes, as if to say, “Nikeratos, you have brought me home. Dionysos’ winter reign at Delphi is past and gone. Have you not heard my music on Parnassos? I should like to smell skene-paint again.”

It gave me a start. I sat down at the pinewood table, chin in hand, as my father had taught me to do before a mask, when one wants to think oneself into it.

“Glorious Apollo,” I said presently, “are you sure? Wouldn’t you like your face to be more in fashion? You could have anything—a solid-gold wreath, jeweled earrings—it’s nothing to the backers here. And they’ll be at the dress rehearsal.”

A night breeze blew in from the heights of Korax; the lamp flame quivered; Apollo looked at me with dark lidless eyes. “At Phigeleia,” he said, “you promised to give me something. Have I asked for anything before?”

In the morning, I took it to the light. The paint was dull and worn, but the carving perfect. Hagnon was in the theater, touching up; I opened the box, and asked him what he thought.

He looked long in silence, frowning and biting his lips. I waited for him to say the usual things: stiff, harsh, primitive. But he looked up as if some pain had griped him, and said, “Oh, God, what was it like when men had certainty like that?”

“God knows,” I said. “I’ll wear it and see what comes to me. Can you repaint it?”

“Oh, yes, of course. I can touch it up and tone it down, till from in front you’d hardly tell it from a modern one. Listen, Niko. I’ll buy you a new one and paint it free. Just give me this and we’re square.”

“No, I meant can you do it as it was?”

He lifted it out, turning it in his hand and scratching the paint with his finger. “I can try,” he said. “God help me. Leave it with me.”

He put it by, and hauled his ladder along the skene. I gave him a hand, asking where his man had got to. “I turned him out, and good riddance. It’s quicker to work alone. Bone-idle, sullen, and drunk half the time. Niko, did you ever hire him?”

“Not I, by the dog.”

“When I paid him off, he said he supposed it was your doing.”

“Mine? What could he mean? It’s true, there was some look about him … What is his name?”

“Meidias … You do know him, then?”

I told the story. I daresay in those days it would have pleased me to see him now; you would think he had been a seedy, shiftless day-laborer all his life. Maybe I might still have known him without a beard; but I think it was his legs had jogged my memory. Who else would have believed that after all these years, having got where I was, I would stoop to rob him of his wretched pittance? I suppose it was what he would have done himself.

“Well,” I thought, “I’ve looked my last on him now.” Which indeed was true.

Next day Hagnon did not come to the theater. Someone said he was shut in his room and would not open; he did not sound sick; he must have company in bed. At evening, he met me in the wineshop. “The paint’s not set,” he said, “but come and see.”

He had propped the mask on a table with a lamp before it. I gazed in silence, while the eyes of Apollo Longsight, full of unplumbed darkness, stared out beyond us. We had served his turn. He had come back to his mountain lair, like a snake in springtime, to have his youth renewed.

My long quiet made Hagnon uneasy. “The room’s too small. I should have shown it you in the theater.”

I said, “Did you do this, or did he do it himself?”

“I’ll tell you what I did. I found it was a day for the oracle; so I sacrificed, and took this with me, and went down to the cave.”

I stared. He looked rather shamefaced. “It was just to get the feel. But one must ask something, so I asked which attributes the god’s face should show; and the Pythia answered—quite clearly, I could hear it without the priest interpreting—‘Pythian Apollo.’ So I went home and started work.”

“Apollo Loxias,” I said. Before, rubbed down almost to bare wood, it had seemed to show only the Olympian, balanced and clear. But poring in the faded lines of mouth and eye and nostril, Hagnon had found lost curves and shadows. A shiver ran down my neck. Here was the double-tongued, whose words move to their meaning like a serpent in a reed-bed, coil and countercoil; how can a man tell all his mind to children, or a god to men?

Presently I asked Hagnon what the Pythia had been like. He answered, “Like weathered rocks. She had lost her teeth, and under the drug she dribbled. But the fact is, I didn’t look at her long. In the back of the cave, behind the tripod, is a crack running into the darkness; and in its mouth is a seven-foot Apollo cast in gold, with eyes of lapis and agate. It must go back beyond the Persian Wars; it has that secret smile. I couldn’t take my eyes from it. But I heard what she said.”

I sent out for some wine, and tried to make him take the price of his time; but he said it would be bad luck. Before we drank, we both tipped our cups before the mask.

I asked him why, if these old forms moved him so, he still worked in the current style. “Just put me back,” he said, “in the glorious age of Perikles, and dose me with Lethe water, to unknow what I know. Once men deserved such gods. And where are they now? They bled to death on battlefields, black with flies; or starved in the siege, being too good to rob their neighbors. Or they sailed off to Sicily singing paeans, and left their bones there in sunken ships, or in the fever swamps or the slave-quarries. If they got home alive, the Thirty Tyrants murdered them. Or if they survived all that, they grew old in dusty corners, mocked by their grandsons, when to speak of greatness was to be a voice from the dead. They’re all gone now; and here are you and I, who know just what became of them. What will you do with that mask, Niko, when you have it on?”

“Well may you ask. At least I’ll play in Aischylos, which is what it was made for. Perhaps it will teach me something.”

The lamp smoked, and Hagnon trimmed it. As he pricked up the wick, there was a flicker on the face of Loxias, and it seemed that the dark side smiled.

I hope you enjoyed that excerpt as much as I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the whole book.  I can't recommend her historical novels too highly.  They've recently been republished in e-book format, and have never been out of print, as far as I know.  You'll find them on Amazon.


Friday, March 24, 2023

A bicycle theft preventer


This looks like it might have possibilities . . .

"Thank you, sir.  Have a nice day.  You're not a virgin anymore."


Keep you and yours safe. That's your ONLY job.


Greg Ellifritz, whom we've met in these pages on numerous occasions, has some vitally important advice for civilian firearms carriers in the face of street and gang shooting incidents in public.

I’ve received several emails similar to this one lately.

“Let’s say I’m at a place of business or some other public place and a scuffle breaks out resulting in shots fired such as at Polaris this week or another mall last week or in front of a bar last night. Last night, 15 shots were fired. Being armed competently what should I do? What would you do?”

I’m going to answer this one simply and directly.  You off-duty cops and legally armed citizens have exactly one role in this situation:  Make sure you and your family/friends don’t get shot.  That’s it.  End of lesson.

When I hear shots nearby, I immediately get down on the ground or behind cover.  I assess where the shots are coming from and I plan a path of retreat in the opposite direction, ideally moving between large pieces of cover as I make my escape.  That’s it.  There is absolutely nothing else you should do.

These are young thugs fighting other young thugs.  These are gang bangers fighting other gang bangers.  These are drunken idiots who decide to whip out a pistol when they are insulted.  None of those situations involves you in any way, even if you are in danger of catching a stray round.

They don’t want to shoot you.  The only way you will get hit is by accident.  Don’t go looking for trouble.  Don’t try to intervene.  There is no “innocent third party” to protect.  Let the dumbshits shoot each other.  You don’t have to play their game.

. . .

Don’t involve yourself in this stupidity.  It will only harm you in the long term.  If you intervene, you will either get shot by the thugs, shot by the cops, sued by the person you shoot, or criminally arrested.  If that doesn’t happen and you make a statement to the cops  you take the chance of being  hunted down by the arrested party’s crew at a future date before trial.

Say it again with me:  “Not your people, not your problem.”

There's more at the link

That's critical in today's violent urban environment.  Don't inject yourself into the problem unless you absolutely have to - meaning, to defend yourself and/or your loved ones from others trying to harm you/them.  I've seen and heard too many wannabe Rambo's asserting that they'd jump in to stop a bad guy . . . but they ignore the very real dangers in doing so.  Even if they survive unhurt, and hit the "bad guy":

  • What if he isn't the bad guy, but trying to defend himself?  How do you know?
  • What if your bullets hit an innocent bystander, either directly or by ricochet?
  • What if the cops come running in response to a call, see you with a gun, and assume you're the bad guy?  A "good guy" was shot and killed by cops doing just that, not so long ago.
  • What if your name ends up in the headlines, and the bad guy's buddies decide that revenge is in order?
  • What if you're summoned to give evidence, and the bad guy decides he doesn't want you testifying, and asks his buddies to make sure of that?
There are many other disadvantages most people never consider.  Unless you absolutely have no other choice, stay out of a potentially lethal confrontation.  That's not being cowardly - it's common sense.

(And to those who say, "Oh, but what if you could stop a rape or an assault, but don't, and an innocent victim gets hurt?", I can only say:  re-read what I said above.  Perhaps you may find yourself in a position to do something good, something heroic, like that, without risking your family in the process - but remember the potential consequences, and make really sure you're ready to face them before you act.  This isn't the frontier, and it isn't the jungle, both places where the rule of law is conspicuous by its absence.  If you interject yourself into a situation where deadly force is in use, that force can kill you or your loved ones as easily as anyone else.)


Heads-up on a very serious eye danger


If you use eyedrops for lubrication or itchiness, you need to be aware that a very serious health problem has arisen concerning some brands.  So far it's killed three people, blinded eight, and led to four persons needing to have an eyeball surgically removed.

Click the image below for a larger view, or click here to be taken to the original tweet.

The New York Post reports:

The drops — manufactured in India — are blamed for a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that “had never been reported in the United States prior to this outbreak,” the CDC said.

It is also “extensively drug-resistant,” the center warned.

The CDC noted that “patients reported over 10 different brands of artificial tears and some patients used multiple brands” — but EzriCare Artificial Tears “was the brand most commonly reported.” 

“This was the only common artificial tears product identified across the four healthcare facility clusters,” the warning stated.

“Patients and healthcare providers should immediately stop the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears,” the agency said.

“Patients who have used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately.”

Users “not experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection” do not need to seek medical care, but should look out for symptoms including blurred vision, redness or feeling like something is in the eye as well as “yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye.”

There's more at the link.

Note that it's not just the named brands of eyedrops that may carry a risk of infection.  Those manufacturers also label their product for other vendors, and unless you check very carefully, you may not know that the latter come from the same factory.

I'm taking this very seriously, as I use eyedrops for lubrication.  I hope none of my readers have been affected.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Quote of the day


From Big Country Expat on Gab:

You know it's a rough morning when you can't get the English muffin out of the bag, then it catches fire while toasting, the toaster shorts out, and the butter next to the toaster melts down all over the counter. Next time, I'll stick to the toast.

To which user Steve_S6 replied:

I think I've met that NCO before . . .


What that $100,000 income is really worth...


SmartAsset examined what a $100,000 annual income is really worth - in terms of buying power - in major US cities.

To see how much $100,000 is actually worth in different parts of the country, SmartAsset compared the after-tax income in 76 of the largest U.S. cities and then adjusted those figures for the cost of living in each place. For more information on our data or how we compiled our findings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • $100K goes furthest in Memphis. The city may be known as the “Home of the Blues,” but Memphis’ low cost of living surely won’t make you sing them. A $100,000 salary is worth more here ($86,444) than in any other city in our study after subtracting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living.
  • Texas cities dominate the top 10. Thanks to no state income tax and the low cost of living, the Lone Star State looms large in our study. Seven out of the 10 cities in our top 10 are located in Texas. After deducting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living, a $100,000 salary on average is worth $77,885 across the 10 Texas cities that we analyzed in our study.
  • Oklahoma City has the lowest cost of living. A $100,000 goes a long way in the Sooner State’s largest city, considering that the cost of living is only 83.2% of the national average – the lowest out of all 76 cities in our study. A $100,000 salary is worth $84,498 in Oklahoma City after adjusting for the cost of living.
  • In New York City, $100K amounts to just $35,791 when you consider taxes and the cost of living. Taxes and cost of living take a big bite out of a $100,000 income in the Big Apple, which ranked last in our analysis. After adjusting for those factors, $100,000 is worth just $35,791.

There's more at the link.

The top 10 cities (in terms of affordability) were:

1. Memphis, TN
2. El Paso, TX
3. Oklahoma City, OK
4. Corpus Christi, TX
5. Lubbock, TX
6. Houston, TX
7. TIE:  San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington (all in TX)
10. St. Louis, MO

The bottom 10 (i.e. least affordable on a $100K salary) were:

67. Seattle, WA
68. Boston, MA
69. Oakland, CA
70. San Diego, CA
71. TIE:  Los Angeles and Long Beach (both in CA)
73. Washington, D.C.
74. San Francisco, CA
75. Honolulu, HI
76. New York, NY

For what it's worth, 7 out of 10 of the top cities are in Texas.  5 out of 10 of the worst are in California.  Explains why so many people are moving eastward from the former to the latter . . .


A commercial water grab?


A few weeks ago I wrote about the declining availability of water in the western and southwestern states.  Now it looks as if Wall Street is getting involved, and trying to prevent locals from realizing what's going on until they've created a fait accompli.

Situated in the Sonoran Desert near the Arizona-California border is the tiny rural town of Cibola -- home to roughly 300 people, depending on the season.

Life here depends almost entirely on the Colorado River, which nourishes thirsty crops like cotton and alfalfa, sustains a nearby wildlife refuge and allows visitors to enjoy boating and other recreation.

It's a place few Americans are likely to have heard of, which made it all the more surprising when investment firm Greenstone Management Partners bought nearly 500 acres of land here. On its website, Greenstone says its "goal is to advance water transactions that benefit both the public good and private enterprise."

But critics accuse Greenstone -- a subsidiary of the East Coast financial services conglomerate MassMutual -- of trying to profit off Cibola's most precious and limited resource: water. And it comes at a time when Arizona's allocation of Colorado River water is being slashed amid a decades-long megadrought.

"These companies aren't buying up plots of land because they want to farm here and be a part of the community, they're buying up land here for the water rights," said Holly Irwin, a Cibola resident and La Paz County district supervisor.

Those water rights could soon benefit Queen Creek, Arizona, a growing Phoenix suburb about 200 miles away. Last September, the town approved the transfer of a $27 million purchase of Colorado River water from Greenstone's properties in Cibola, though the deal is now mired in a lawsuit filed by La Paz, Mohave and Yuma counties against the federal Bureau of Reclamation for signing off on the water transfer.

. . .

"Greenstone is going to make millions at the expense of what it's going to do to our communities in the future and the precedence it's going to set," said Irwin. "We are in the midst of an extreme drought, our communities need this water. At some point, the state has a responsibility to protect the people that are here and to protect our water and not cater to those that are buying property for the water rights to make millions off of it to benefit metropolitan areas."

. . .

In neighboring Mohave County, Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter describes what he sees as a battle for the future of Colorado River communities, adding that a number of East Coast investment firms have been trying to get in on the action.

"These companies are actually pretty savvy in that they come out West, purchase and pick up cheap rural agricultural land, they sit on it for a little while and then they're trying to sell the water," Lingenfelter said. "I don't think that they should be allowed to profiteer off of Arizona's finite resources ... If they're coming after a portion of our only water supply on the river for many of our communities, we have to fight it."

It's not just Arizona. East Coast firms have bought up thousands of acres of irrigated land across the Southwest, local officials told CNN. Water Asset Management, a New York-based investment firm, has become one of the biggest players in the field, with purchases in Arizona, California, Colorado and Nevada as well as pending deals in New Mexico and Texas.

. . .

"Water Asset Management has engaged in a number of different purchase methods to keep their transactions unknown to many of the local jurisdictions," Mueller said. "It's a very unpopular move to come from New York and invest in irrigated agriculture with the intent to dry it up and watch it blow away."

There's more at the link.

The companies involved will, of course, argue that what they're doing is entirely legal.  Trouble is, just because something is legal doesn't mean that it's morally right.  As the famous dictum reminds us:

The companies will, again, doubtless argue that morals are an abstract, a value rather than a commodity that can be quantified in gallons, or dollars and cents.  They deal in the latter, and leave the former to religion and philosophy - knowing that there's so much dissent and disagreement in both disciplines that they'll almost certainly never have to answer for the rights and/or wrongs of what they've done.

That's what the makers of Thalidomide relied on when trying to weasel out of the catastrophic damage their drug had caused.  It's what Pfizer, Moderna and others will almost certainly rely upon when confronted with the equally grave (if not worse) damage caused by their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.  "We were following the science and the law.  That's all anyone can ask of us!"  That's their attitude.  Sadly, they never think of another well-known maxim:  "It's not just about what you can do, but also whether or not you should do it."

I suspect that increasingly, agricultural and riparian communities across the country are going to be confronted by this commercial conundrum.  Their "liquid asset", water, is today liquid in more ways than one.  Water's merely the latest commodity to be "financialized".  However, without it, communities and farms die - and that's a whole new ball game.