Tuesday, October 31, 2023

IQ and potential, both individual and national


IQ ("Intelligence Quotient") is a hotly debated topic.  Some (usually of left-wing/progressive ideology) maintain it's a chimera, a meaningless assessment.  Others (including myself) regard it as a valid predictor of academic capability and likely future prosperity.

I've written about IQ and the developing world (specifically Africa) in years past, including these two articles:

IQ, countries, and coping skills

What to do about Africa?

In the first of those articles, I reproduced this graphic.  Click the image for a larger view.

I ended it by saying:

There are many who decry such statistics as meaningless, racist, discriminatory, and all the rest.  Trouble is, for those of us who've been "on the ground" all over the world, in many of those countries, the IQ statistics are a very accurate predictor of how much we'll be able to do in a given location, and how well the locals will be able to assimilate what we do with them, and take control of their own destinies once we're no longer there to hold their hands.  The correlation, in my experience, is as close to 100% as makes no difference.

Last week we looked at an article from HMS Defiant, in which he posed the question:

What do you do in a modern society with an entire underclass of useless people that can't read, won't work, aren't qualified temperamentally to behave like civilized beings and actively harm/destroy civilization wherever they run into it?

We talked about that in the context of education, and agreed that "public schools are the breeding-ground, and their "graduates" are the cannon fodder, for the "underclass of useless people" identified by HMS Defiant . . . yet we, the taxpayers of America, continue to sit back and accept the situation.  That applies to all taxpayers everywhere, by the way;  left-wing and right-wing taxpayers are equally deficient in not acting to correct matters.  It's not a political thing, it's a complacency thing (particularly because most of us wouldn't even dream of sending our children to such schools - we'd ensure they had better options)."

IQ definitely plays into that conclusion.  If one examines the academic record of success of every school in America, and correlates that with the average IQ of the students in each of those schools, the correlation appears to be very high indeed.  High average IQ = good record of success.  Low average IQ = poor record of success.  Of course, it's politically incorrect to conduct such studies these days, more's the pity.  Truth appears to be less important than "woke" ideology to the powers that be.

In his most recent article, John Wilder examines "IQ, Lies, and National Wealth".  Among other things, he points out:

On a societal level ... we’re busy sending people off to college that have no real business being there. The result is a large number of people in society today who think that they have all the tools necessary to be exceptionally successful at intellectual pursuits and it’s just not so. This creates a society-wide level of bitterness. It’s especially bad when those college kids with no intellectual prospects get worthless degrees (if it ends in “studies” it’s a worthless degree) and are then saddled with huge amounts of student loan debt.

. . .

Society has a very, very particular relationship with the concept of the heritability of intelligence so much so that this is a huge hot button issue. Certain incentives in our current system encourage mothers of lesser intelligence to have even more not-so-bright babies. This is, of course, as featured in the documentary movie Idiocracy. Since this idea has such significant implications, not the least of which is the fate of nations: smart nations do better than, um, less bright ones. Here’s the data:

The data is from the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, so it dates back to before the year 2000, as far as I can tell. That really shouldn’t matter much, since the relationship is so strong. Smarter countries are richer – a lot richer.

We’re entering a period of time where resources will be far more constrained than at any point in my lifetime. We’re entering a time where we will have no choice but to stop lying to ourselves about IQ and its impact.

There's more at the link.  It's worth reading his entire article in full.  Recommended.

It bears saying again, and repeating, that our typical inner-city society is screwed up to the point of absurdity.  As a pastor and chaplain, I soon lost count of the number of kids (both "on the street" and in our prisons) who aspired to be basketball stars or rap "musicians".  They didn't have the athletic ability to be the first, and completely lacked the talent to be the second (not that much "talent" is involved in that field), but they didn't stop to consider that at all.  If they wanted it, it's what they were going to get - practicality be damned.  Any failure to do so wasn't their fault, but because "the system" or "the Man" or "racism" or whatever was against them.  That was the compass of their world view, and nothing and nobody would shake them out of it.  Reality was irrelevant.

Yet, as John Wilder points out, people like that are doomed to disappointment:

If anyone told Zeke he was five inches taller than he was, he would have laughed. But people told him he was smart, and he believed that.

I can understand how that might seem to the compassionate thing to do – to tell someone that they’re smart. The downside of that is simple – if Zeke feels like he’s smart because everyone told him he was just as smart as anyone else, what happens when he doesn’t have the success that other people have?

He becomes resentful. He sees others succeeding because of things he can’t fathom happening around him. What, then, must be the reason that other people are successful? They must have some sort of system that is rigged against Zeke.

That's the problem, right there.  People like that can't accept the fact that each and every one of us has a certain potential.  Some few of us work so hard, and are so motivated, as to exceed that potential, but most of us don't.  We should aspire to succeed to the fullest extent of our potential, but we shouldn't be surprised to find that we have limits.  Unfortunately, nobody is telling our kids that they have limits.  Instead, they're encouraging them to believe they can achieve anything they want to.  When life stops them dead in their tracks, they don't learn from that - instead, they grow resentful and angry, because they know they can do anything.  They've been told that almost from birth.  How can we expect them believe anything else?

That's the problem with our country right now, too.  Too many people like that are running things.  They believe that because this is the USA, with its track record of success, this country can do anything it wants.  Government has only to decree something, and it will happen.  That's how they see our society, and the world as a whole.  They ignore the fact that our economy is vastly less capable and flexible than it was even a generation ago, and our workers are on average a lot less smart and less capable than they were then.  Therefore, they're pushing our nation into an untenable situation, where they're gleefully seeking to remake everything without the resources and skills needed to make that work.

We're all going to pay the price for that insouciance.


The law of unintended consequences strikes again


Last week, in a fit of triumphalism, an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee was melted down into ingots of anonymous, faceless metal.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was at the center of the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., was secretly melted down last week to be remade into a more inclusive artwork ... It was cut into nine pieces, weighed about 6,000 pounds and required a forklift to move ... It was melted down and then molded into a brick-like casting.

The controversial statue had been removed from its spot in 2021 and placed in a bus depot until it was handed over to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, which had to move the artwork to various locations over safety concerns.

. . .

Charlottesville’s black history museum went forward with their melting plans at a foundry outside of the state last week and there’s no plans to recast the metal into cannons, as some confederacy groups proposed.

Andrea Douglas and Jalane Schmidt – who run Swords into Plowshares – plan on taking the bronze and remake into something that city residents come up with.

They’ve already started getting ideas from residents, the Washington Post said.

Schmidt was happy to see Lee go, saying the statue was like “if there’s a rabid dog in the neighborhood that’s been hurting people, and it needs to be euthanized.”

However, one of the foundrymen, who was not named, said he hopes the melting doesn’t “convey a message of hate on hate.”

The group had a hard time finding someone that would melt down the metal and the foundry they did use is owned by a black man.

“The risk is being targeted by people of hate, having my business damaged, having threats to family and friends, [but] when you are approached with such an honor, especially to destroy hate, you have to do it,” the owner told the outlet.

There's more at the link.

Trouble is, lashing out in hatred or triumphalism or whatever against a hated symbol . . . well, two can play at that game.  The red-hot face of the Lee statue was photographed just before it finally melted down into slag, and that image has become a rallying cry for those on the other side.  Witness this T-shirt already available on Amazon:

I'm sure it won't be the last of its kind, or the only memorial to the statue and the man it depicted.

I hold no brief for the long-dead Confederate States of America, or their leading figures.  I wasn't born then, and didn't come to America until my 37th year of age, so I was far removed from those memories and still am.  However, millions of others aren't, and they take what was done to the Lee statue as a personal, cultural and historical insult.  They aren't about to forget it, and are (to judge by some of the comments I've seen on social media) more than likely to find ways to retaliate.  I wonder how many statues of George Floyd, or Martin Luther King Jr., or other figures important to black history and culture, are likely to be kidnapped and melted down?  If that happens, I doubt whether the reaction of the black community will be mild acceptance . . . so why couldn't the black leaders who demanded, and got, the destruction of the Lee statue have foreseen the reaction to their intemperate act?

This isn't over, not by a long way.  It's left a legacy of bitterness that will take years, perhaps decades, to work out of the American system - and who knows what further consequences it may spawn?


Monday, October 30, 2023

True dat...


Sadly, a very plausible cartoon for this Halloween season.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the 'Pearls Before Swine' Web page.

As he so often does, Stephan Pastis nails the current zeitgeist with uncanny accuracy.


"US insistence on intervention has created chaos" in the Middle East - and may risk World War Three


The inimitable Neil Oliver discusses the Middle East crisis with retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, joined by others in a panel discussion who contribute their thoughts.  It's a free-ranging and controversial discussion that covers ground most of the mainstream media in the USA are ignoring.  Indispensable and essential viewing, IMHO.

I think we're standing on very dangerous ground indeed right now.  If the Middle East conflict escalates into a regional war, it can have massive consequences for the world's energy supply;  for geopolitical relationships across Europe and Asia;  and possibly even a third World War, if things go far enough, because if Iran and Russia become embroiled, China can't (it dare not) be far behind.

God have mercy on us all.


Memes that made me laugh 183


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

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sunday morning music


As regular visitors will know, I'm a fan of English country music, in both traditional and modern forms.  I recently came across the YouTube channel of Edward Brackstone Films, which seeks to preserve some of that tradition (among other things).  I was very pleased with two collections of folk music he's put together, and thought you might enjoy them too.  Click through to the videos' YouTube pages to see details of the music.

Easy listening, and historic too.  What's not to like?  You'll find more at the channel's Web page.


Saturday, October 28, 2023

No Saturday Snippet today


I've had a busy week, and haven't been able to take the time to transcribe an excerpt for the usual Saturday Snippet feature.  Please amuse yourselves with the bloggers listed in the sidebar.  They write good, too!



Friday, October 27, 2023

Preparing for emergencies: The devil's in the details...


I received an e-mail this morning from reader Chad B.  He and his family have just learned a very important lesson in preparedness.  He writes:

We recently moved into a new place back in May - about 20 acres, house has a water catchment system. I'm an electrician, self employed, no employees. I have invested in a portable backup generator / welder and the house comes with three 1000 gallon rain water catchment tanks for the two sides of the house, and one for the shop. We have a good stock of food, and animals on property. I mention these things just to say that we have the tools on hand should things go sideways.

But, running a business, and homeschooling 5 children all 6 and under, life gets away from you. You get into a mode of just getting by day to day when work gets busy, the animals get into breeding season, and you have to stock up everything for the winter. Especially when the house wasn't kept well by the previous people living in it, and you're having to make constant repairs.

On Tuesday the local water company, without any warning, shut off the water in the middle of our animal chores, citing that we had a massive leak of 588,600 gallons over the last 30 days. The kitchen was covered with dirty dishes, the stock tank 3/4 full, we weren't set up for using the catchment system regularly (but luckily one of the repairs was making sure it worked!), and all the floors in the house were a mess.

We quickly realized we had no real, workable plan for not contaminating our Berkey filter. We had no clean dishes for eating, no easy way to bath, no sanitation plans in place for dishes, no plan on how to teach little children how to act in this new situation.

We probably spent 3/4 of a day and 50 gallons of water just prepping for actually living in this new environment, with me having to take off work, and having to jump back and forth between a world that is not in "disaster mode" and our own issues. We could have done with less, but luckily we have that abundance in the tanks and had a bunch of rain to top them off. Thank goodness we still have electricity and God's timing of rain!

Now it's Friday, and we have some of the day to day worked out, but it's still hit and miss. Because we still have to go to work, deal with children, animals breaking out of fencing, and all the other life issues; it doesn't let us focus on really buckling down as much as I'd like. The wife and I discussed that we definitely need to set up times to do "grid down" exercises, and I really, really suggest it to all your readers. It surprised me how a simple thing like cleanliness can trip you up so much.

When my wife and I sat down to talk, we found the lesson is this:

If your house isn't clean and ready for a disaster right now, you're already three steps behind when you need to be two steps ahead.

In a second e-mail, he added:

Oh, I forgot to mention in the first email that, in order to keep the house running, on her way back home from a Dr appointment the morning that they shut off the water, my wife had to stop at the store for paper plates, bottled water, plastic utensils, and sandwich stuff so that the family could keep going without skipping a beat - and that we've had to keep using that stuff to keep pace with modern society. If not for the store, we wouldn't be able to function right now. Basically, all our prepping, and all we've been able to do is wash dishes, flush toilets, and keep sanitation - no ability to cook, and maintain regular house functions. 


Sadly, he and his family learned their lesson the hard way;  but we all have to keep it in mind.  Disasters, or even the less troublesome difficulties in life, mostly don't bother to give us advance warning that they're about to arrive.  One minute things are going smoothly, the next we hit a gigantic bump in the road.  If we're ready for it, all well and good.  If not . . . bad things can happen, and very quickly.  Furthermore, one bad thing happening can cause a chain reaction of more bad things happening, to our extreme discomfort and annoyance.

A last thought.  Arthur Sido notes:

Now we are actively dropping bombs in a sovereign nation that we are not at war with, hitting “proxies” for a different foreign nation. All of this in a country, Syria, with a large Russian military presence.

As I have stated repeatedly, I am not a military strategist, but it seems to me that if you keep dropping bombs near Russian soldiers, the odds of “accidentally” killing some goes way up and the more troops and assets you have in a region experiencing a hot war, the better the chances some of our troops will get killed.

. . .

It certainly seems like the pieces are in place ... to finally go after the neocon’s favorite wet dream of a war with Iran, perhaps Russia and China for the fun of it as well.

Things are pretty quiet right now on the homefront but if we get into a shooting war, as seems likely, watch for store shelves to empty out in a hurry. You should be sitting pretty already but if you aren’t, time is a wastin’ to get ready.

Again, more at the link.

The war in Israel has already drastically affected price and availability of ammunition in this country, as we noted recently.  In its latest newsletter, SGAmmo observed:

We have seen surging demand over the past 19 days at levels not seen since the outbreak of Covid19 in March of 2020, and demand continues to remain elevated at extremely high levels even after over 2 full weeks have passed. Expect shipping delays in the 5 to 10 day range ... Fear driven stockpiling can be extremely intense causing ammo to sell in mass volumes, and can overwhelm the supply chain quickly and lead to shortages, spotty availability and higher prices. We have now recently seen a major shock affect the market with the horror of the Israel / Hamas war, and now a major mass shooting as an aftershock. These conditions back to back have driven demand to new levels, and will continue to pressure the supply chain, as the masses of customers all move to stock up on the same products at the same time. Should another shocking event happen, the market could spiral out of control similar to it did in 2020 and 2021. What you do is your business, but I could easily see additional price increases, and a simple lack of availability on popular calibers to come in the months ahead.

Take heed.  You should already have most of what you need.  Buy what you lack now, before the supply dries up, because if a war hits us, it's going to become literally impossible to buy any - all the ammo factories will be switched over to war production.

Furthermore, if a shooting war breaks out, expect oil supplies from the Middle East to be restricted almost at once;  and don't forget that although we produce much of the oil we need, our allies who will be cut off from their normal suppliers will turn to us for help, reducing fuel available to the consumer market.  If so, fuel will almost certainly be in short supply for an unknown period of time.  If you run a generator, get more fuel for it;  and if you operate a vehicle, I very strongly suggest storing enough fuel to fill its tank at least twice.  If everything goes wrong and you have to leave for a safer place, use part of that fuel to fill your vehicle and take the rest with you, because if everybody else is also traveling, you're unlikely to find more at gas stations along the road.  Also, from now on, keep your vehicle's tank at least half-full on a permanent basis.  Some suggest two-thirds to three-quarters full.  That may not be practical, but it's something I'll try to achieve whenever possible.

A final thought.  We're never going to have everything right, and be prepared for every possible eventuality.  We may think we've covered all the bases, but when things go pear-shaped, we'll almost certainly find holes in our plans and preparations.  That's OK.  It's inevitable.  If we try to cover as much of the essential elements as we can, that will get us through the worst;  and when we find gaps and shortages, we'll cover them as best we can (including by trading preps of which we have a lot with those who need them, and have what we need).  Flexibility and versatility are good things in an emergency.  Never despair - just shrug your shoulders, resolve to do better next time, and get on with it.  As the late President Theodore Roosevelt used to say, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are".  If you can't do it, or don't have it, or it isn't practicable where you are, don't sit there and fret over it.  Do something else!


Your legal options if caught in a riot or demonstration


Earlier this week I published an article titled "Organized mayhem on American streets", analyzing a demonstration in Minneapolis last weekend and pointing out that it was highly organized and directed.

William Kirk, president of Washington Gun Law, has analyzed the same incident, and offers a legal framework within which self-defense is justifiable under such circumstances.

Zero Hedge summarizes his recommendations like this:

Legal Standpoint:

- Understanding of self-defense laws is crucial.

- Key principles of self-defense:

  • Force can be used in self-defense if it is necessary, reasonable, and proportional.
  • Lethal force can only be used under specific conditions (imminent threat of death, serious injury, etc.).
  • Driving into or over individuals can be considered deadly force.

- Defending property:

  • Cannot use lethal force solely to defend property.
  • Physical threats to individuals inside the car can justify the use of force.


- If only the car is being damaged, lethal force is not justified [with the possible exception of Texas - see below].
- If windows are being smashed, the potential threat of serious bodily injury arises.
- If attackers are trying to pull people out of the car, it indicates an imminent threat, potentially justifying lethal force.
- The driver in the video showed restraint and did not use lethal force despite being surrounded twice.

There's more at the link.

Texas law does allow the use of lethal force to protect property under certain conditions and circumstances, but that's (as far as I know) unique to that state.  What's more, given liberal/progressive prosecuting authorities, I'd be careful about claiming that as a legal defense, because they might bring a bunch of extraneous factors into play to nullify it.  In general, no matter where you are, property is "stuff".  Let it go.  Human lives are more important - particularly human lives lived together in freedom, and not in prison.


A tragedy for a fallen hero, and for the firearms community


I was saddened to learn that a well-known shooter and veteran, Larry Vickers, has pleaded guilty to serious firearms offenses.

Special operations combat veteran, firearms industry consultant, tactical instructor and YouTube personality with more than a million loyal followers, Larry Allen Vickers, pleaded guilty last week to a multi-count federal indictment that accused him of conspiring to illegally import and obtain machineguns and other restricted firearms, and conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against a Russian arms manufacturer.

Vickers, 60, faces up to 25 years in prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. The judge overseeing the case has not yet scheduled a sentencing date.

. . .

Vickers’ influence on the firearms industry was massive ... [his] expertise was much sought after by small arms manufacturers. He developed improvements, innovations and accessories for Wilson Combat, Aimpoint, GLOCK and most notably, Heckler & Koch. He helped the German firm with their redesign of the M16, which led to the HK416 – the rifle of choice for special operations units around the world ... Vickers was one of the country’s most successful firearms instructors ... he was one of the first Delta Force retirees to train civilians and law enforcement. His classes almost always sold out.

There's more at the link.

I'm sad for Mr. Vickers himself, of course.  His record of service to his country, both in and out of uniform, has been exemplary.  It's a tragedy that it's now been tarnished by his admitted involvement in criminal activity.  Some will doubtless argue that his are "victimless crimes", paper transgressions rather than actually harming people;  but the law doesn't recognize shades of gray in most such matters.  It's strictly a black-or-white proposition.

I'm also sad for those of us who own, use and enjoy firearms and related fields.  Mr. Vickers' plea will undoubtedly be used by those seeking to demonize and restrict firearms ownership.  He's such a well-known figure that his fall from grace will inevitably impact the causes, individuals and companies with or for whom he worked.  That's likely to impact us all in some way.

Almost everybody has feet of clay, but most of us manage to conceal that, more or less.  Unfortunately, Mr. Vickers could not, and will now pay the price.  He's already battling cancer, with what long-term success I don't know.  The stress resulting from this indictment won't help that, either.


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Quote of the day


From Commander Zero:

"The notion that you can forecast how severe a winter will be seems akin to telling the future by squeezing the goat’s scrotum or something."

Er . . . well . . . yes, quite!  I've never tried that particular method of forecasting, but our neighbor keeps goats . . .


Exploring an ancient way of life


In the midst of all the nastiness, trouble and violence in the world, I was intrigued by a BBC report about two "experimental archaeologists" who paddled down the Thames River in England in leather canoes, replicas of Stone Age watercraft.

Nine days into their quest to paddle the full length of the River Thames, Theresa Emmerich Kamper and Sarah Day watched as a slate grey stormfront swallowed the blue sky. The onrush of rain was moving so fast there was no time to paddle ashore and unload their gear. Their buckskin dresses weren't waterproof. And if their reindeer fur bedding got soaked, it would never dry. So, they draped their leather tent over themselves and huddled inside their cowhide canoe as they were hammered with hail, singing silly songs and bailing water with a wooden cup.

A man moored nearby poked his head out of his houseboat. "If you're gonna do it like the Flintstones," he called out, "you're gonna get wet!"

Over the howling wind, they shouted, "It's for science!"

Facing the elements while surrounding themselves with leather is, in fact, an important part of Day and Emmerich Kamper's work. As experimental archaeologists, they research and recreate ancient technologies to gain insight into how our ancestors lived. They teach ancestral skills, such making clothing, pouches, preserved meat and bone tools from animals.

. . .

If they took animal skin boats on a multi-day journey, they reasoned, they could learn more about how Paleolithic peoples might have traded along rivers and even migrated to islands around Scotland and the Mediterranean.

The idea was born: they would paddle 255km [about 158 miles] of the Thames with handcrafted canoes, equipment and food that mimicked – as closely as they could practically and legally manage it – those made by Stone Age peoples.

There's more at the link, describing their journey and what they learned from their experiences.  I enjoyed it as a total change of pace from the frenetic reality around us.  Recommended reading.


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Lessons for today from the Civil War era


The growing, already possibly unbridgeable divisions in American society today have deep parallels with the pre-Civil War society of our forefathers.  The lack of tolerance, open hostility between factions, and propensity to violence erupted into the first American Civil War during the 1860's.  Can it happen again?  Might we be on the brink of a second American Civil War?  It's possible.  It most likely won't be along the same lines as the first, with formal armies and battlefields and rival governments.  It'll be more like the conflict in "Bleeding Kansas", where pro- and anti-slavery militias waged internecine warfare on their neighbors, butchering in the name of their beliefs and causing chaos and misery that lasted for generations.

One of the best depictions of the Kansas conflict is Ang Lee's 1999 film "Ride With The Devil".  Most unusually, it's available on YouTube at present, although how long it remains there is unpredictable - most such movies get taken down by copyright claims in short order.  Until then, here it is.  (If it gets taken down, I think it's worth viewing it on streaming media or even buying your own copy.)

I recommend taking the time to watch this movie, and think about the social division and hatred it portrays.  I'm seeing far too much of the same thing these days to be complacent about it.  I genuinely fear we may see something similar before too long, although probably in a different way to the Civil War era.  I won't be surprised to see vigilante gangs "punishing" those among them who don't see things the same way, just as gangs of Border Ruffians and Free-Staters "punished" the communities of western Missouri and Kansas.  (The infamous John Brown was an ally of the Free-Staters.)

God forbid we should see such hatred spill over into violence again.


Another good question


Yesterday's "Good Question" article attracted many responses.  Here's another along the same lines, from Francis Porretto.

They Want You To Notice

Just now, the normal people of America are being barraged with studied insults. They’re being issued by the Usurpers who’ve captured our political system and their enablers in the domesticated “opposition.” And they want us to notice.

The question good-hearted people of every kind have been asking since January 20, 2021 is simple and plaintive: “How could they not have known this would happen?” The stolen elections of November 2020 were followed by one incredibly “stupid” policy after another. Surely the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch remember the high points:

  • Strangling the supply of oil and gas.
  • Opening wide the southern border.
  • Massive inflation of the currency.
  • Pansification of the military.
  • Involvement in Russia-Ukraine War.
  • Massive financial gifts to Iran.
  • Abandonment of $80 billion in weaponry to the Taliban.
  • Use of the DOJ and FBI as political tools.
  • De facto legalization of rioting, vandalism, vagrancy, and theft.
  • Sam Brinton, Karine Jean-Pierre, and “Rachel” Levine.

I could go on, of course. Every single thing in the list above was done deliberately, with full foreknowledge of its consequences. They were strokes intentionally delivered to achieve two effects:

  • To weaken the United States, whether politically, militarily, or economically;
  • To insult decent Americans so blatantly that there could be no doubt about it.

Many good-hearted people simply can’t believe that the Usurpers really meant to offend us so blatantly…that those were studied insults. But in fact they’d been planned since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Those barbs were intended to be blunt and brutal: We can do what we like to you, and there’s not one damn thing you can do about it.

I’m a fair hand with such things, and I tell you plainly: I could not have contrived more blatant, humiliating insults if I were given a decade to do it.

. . .

I predict that just about any day now, it will become an admitted fact – admitted by those who are perpetrating the outrages against us. They will tire of concealing their glee at making us suffer. They will want to celebrate our subjection openly, perhaps with a public fete and the declaration of a federal holiday.

What will we do on that day?

There's more at the link.

I have to agree with Mr. Porretto.  This is deliberate, in-your-face intimidation and triumphalism.  "We got rid of Trump and his ilk, and now we're in charge, and there's nothing you can do about it!"  That's the message.  That's also why I, and many others, believe the 2024 elections will be a sham, and a fake, and a public lie.  Having gone this far, the powers that be dare not see their handiwork overturned by another Trumpian revolution.  They have to protect it, and themselves for having fostered and accomplished it:  and that means we've probably seen the last free and fair elections in America for some time to come, until people get fed up enough to do something about the corruption and dishonesty that have come to rule the "old ways" of government.

Mr. Porretto asks, "What will we do on that day?"  My question is, "When will that day come?"  Either way, it's not a comfortable thought.  I've lived in disintegrating societies and nations in the Third World, and seen at first hand how many become casualties of the process - militarily, economically, socially, politically, culturally and in every other way imaginable.  I think most of us will learn more about that in the not too distant future, because when the rot has set into a society as deeply as it has into ours, there's a certain inevitability about the process.  What's more, unless the decent majority "screws their courage to the sticking place", the end result is unlikely to be happy.  The intimidation currently on display is designed to stop them doing that.  Will it succeed?  Or will it provoke them to say, "So far and no further!"?

J. R. R. Tolkien put it well through the mouth of his character, Gandalf, in The Lord Of The Rings.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”



Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Creating a crime by official definition - and killing people for it


There's a distinction in law between crimes, wrongdoing or evil acts that are either malum in se (i.e. bad/wrong/evil always because of their very nature, intrinsic to them) or malum prohibitum (i.e. bad/wrong/evil because some authority says so - the "wrongness" is not intrinsic to them as such).  Examples of malum in se would include murder, rape, theft, etc.  Examples of malum prohibitum would include speeding, tax evasion, and the like.

The trouble is, authorities love to define something as malum (evil, a crime, forbidden) and then punish people for committing it, even when there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the act concerned.  A good example is the furore over the January 6, 2020 protests in Washington D.C.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with demonstrating;  in fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution specifically lists "peaceful assembly" as a right of the people.  However, by defining the mere presence of the demonstrators as an act of violent insurgency in itself, whether or not those present engaged in violence, the authorities have charged and convicted many of them of a crime or crimes.  Another common example is speeding.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with traveling fast (although it may be foolish, and possibly dangerous to those doing it and/or other road users).  Nevertheless, if they're caught, they'll be punished because they've "done wrong" according to the letter of the law.

We see another very common use of malum prohibitum in wartime.  An occupier may declare it a crime for citizens of an occupied territory to be armed in any way.  That may have been legal prior to the occupation, but now it's not.  The citizens may need to hunt, or defend themselves or their livestock against predators, but nobody cares about that now.  They are to hand in their weapons and obey, or face the consequences, which may extend even to execution as "rebels" or "traitors" - despite the fact that they never swore allegiance to the occupying power and never owed it any loyalty.

Sadly, we're seeing it yet again in Gaza.  Israel has ordered everyone in the northern part of the territory to evacuate southwards, and has arbitrarily declared that anyone remaining "could be identified as sympathisers with a 'terrorist organisation' if they stayed put."  This ignores several critical facts:

  1. There may be nowhere for them to go - southern Gaza is already full to overflowing with refugees, and has no space to take in any more.
  2. There may be no transport for them to move south - the roads are often clogged by rubble as a result of Israeli bombardment, and many vehicles have already left.
  3. Hamas, which rules Gaza, has forbidden people to leave, so trying to obey Israel's order to evacuate risks death at the hands of a ruthless organization that won't hesitate to execute disobedient citizens as a public warning to others to obey - or else.
So, in effect, Israel's order may be a death sentence for those who try to obey it, yet probably can't be obeyed by most of them - who nevertheless risk being killed by Israeli military action if they stay.  They're in a no-win, Catch-22 situation.

I'm in no way a Hamas sympathizer, and agree that Israel must neutralize Palestinian terrorism in Gaza as a matter of national security.  However, for Israel to do it by essentially putting Gazans in a no-win hard place, where no matter what they do they risk death for themselves and their families, is not a solution at all.  It merely puts an official stamp on their deaths.  "They didn't obey us, therefore they were killed - but we couldn't help it.  It's their fault, because they could have obeyed."  Either Israel or Hamas could use precisely those words when they kill people, and according to the logic both sides employ, they'd both be right.  That's cold comfort to those killed in the process...

I know I'm pointing out the obvious here.  Nevertheless, it's important to keep this in mind, because when we read official propaganda from either or both sides, they're going to justify their actions on this basis as often as they can.  It's worth remembering that both sides in the coming Gaza battle will effectively be killing innocent people - those who have never themselves perpetrated violence or terrorism, but are trapped in the company of those that have.  It's not restricted to one side only.  I saw precisely the same in Africa, and experienced it personally.  I've seen entire villages burned down, and the residents made homeless, and their cattle killed and crops burnt, because they didn't warn about an ambush set up by terrorists near the village - despite the fact that the terrorists would have done the same to them, and worse, if they had warned the authorities about the ambush.  The villagers faced an impossible conundrum, and suffered for it.

Let's pray for all those caught up in such no-win situations.  There are going to be a lot of them in the near future, I fear.


Good question


HMS Defiant notes:

In this country the law is taking a beating and that it is mostly at the hands of the law is a surprise to me. This society has not even begun to try to control unlawfulness and it is allowing it to spread unchecked from the streets to the courts to the universities and to all the rest. This is how vigilantism works. When the law has irretrievably broken down and there is no justice, people will start to make it themselves.

. . .

The world gets used to a certain number of youths blown away every single day doing something wrong or just being in the wrong place. Simply look at Chicago. Nobody riots about the 15-20 shootings every day there because by and large nobody really cares. By the same token, nobody really cares if hamas rock throwers and missile men get shot and blown up every day. It's just another day of shooting a minor irritant that nobody really cares about.

They share an underlying problem. The people doing all the violence? They're otherwise completely and totally useless to society. Only an absolute moron would employ them, befriend them, allow them in their home and so society is finally forced to wonder, just what the Hell do we do with this thing we let our school teachers and news media create?

What do you do in a modern society with an entire underclass of useless people that can't read, won't work, aren't qualified temperamentally to behave like civilized beings and actively harm/destroy civilization wherever they run into it? 

Think about it. At this moment they are the punishment. I still feel some sympathy for the original inhabitants of Seattle and Portland and the other cities ruined by barbarians run amok.

There's more at the link.

I'm reminded of the mess produced by so-called "Bantu Education" in South Africa.  The apartheid government there deliberately "dumbed down" education for black people, ostensibly on the grounds that they didn't need it.  Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd actually made a statement in Parliament to the effect that blacks were the biblical "children of Ham", intended by God to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water", and he was going to see to it that they received only the education needed for those tasks.  It's estimated that a black school-leaving certificate (the equivalent of US grade 12) was roughly equivalent to a white grade 6-8, depending on the school(s) involved.  As a result, a vast mass of people built up in society that were not only unemployed, but unemployable in a modern economy, because they didn't have the educational background and skills required to function in it.  As a further result, the levels of crime and violence in that society skyrocketed, until they're today among the highest in the worldWhat else do such people have to turn to but crime?

Contrast that with the state of black education in America today.  Some headlines:

I could provide many more links, but why bother?  The problem is the same everywhere.  Public school systems are producing vast numbers of uneducated, unemployable students who will probably depend for a basic, unfulfilling existence on entitlement programs and other welfare supports for the rest of their lives.  Who pays?  You and I, dear reader:  the taxpayers of America.

Such public schools are the breeding-ground, and their "graduates" are the cannon fodder, for the "underclass of useless people" identified by HMS Defiant . . . yet we, the taxpayers of America, continue to sit back and accept the situation.  That applies to all taxpayers everywhere, by the way;  left-wing and right-wing taxpayers are equally deficient in not acting to correct matters.  It's not a political thing, it's a complacency thing (particularly because most of us wouldn't even dream of sending our children to such schools - we'd ensure they had better options).

HMS Defiant's question remains:

What do you do in a modern society with an entire underclass of useless people that can't read, won't work, aren't qualified temperamentally to behave like civilized beings and actively harm/destroy civilization wherever they run into it?

I don't know the answer . . . but we're going to have that question violently shoved into our collective faces by the growing rate of crime and violence on our streets.  Perhaps we should be looking for constructive answers before we're forced to default to a less ideal but more hands-on practical solution.


When crises collide, what happens next?


There are so many crisis points worldwide at the moment that there's no predicting what might happen next.  A development in one crisis may precipitate developments in another - or even a new crisis to add to those already on our plate.

Axios identifies five current crises:

  1. Israel's response to the Hamas terrorist attack, and growing fear of a spreading war that reaches to Iran and beyond.
  2. Vladimir Putin meeting in China this week with Xi Jinping to further strengthen their anti-America alliance.
  3. A malicious Iran.
  4. North Korea's frequent testing of long-range, nuclear-capable missiles.
  5. "A new weapon is being deployed in all these conflicts: a massive spread of doctored or wholly fake videos to manipulate what people see and think in real time."
It worries about what might happen next.

Never before have we talked to so many top government officials who, in private, are so worried about so many overseas conflicts at once.

Why it matters: We don't like to sound dire. But to sound a siren of clinical, clear-eyed realism: U.S. officials say this confluence of crises poses epic concern and historic danger.

. . .

Not one of the crises can be solved and checked off. All five could spiral into something much bigger.

. . .

These simultaneous threats are hitting at the very moment the American political system seems — and sometimes is — literally broken.

  • It's not just that Republicans don't have a House speaker and can't seem to elect one, or that we might shut down the government in the middle of this mess, or that we're hurtling toward another toxic presidential election in which big chunks of both parties want different candidates.
  • Former top intelligence officials tell us domestic unrest is one of their biggest fears — whether it's triggered by court rulings against former President Trump or protests over war in the Middle East. Biden allies frame these flare-ups as a reminder that global chaos requires calm and experience. "With age comes wisdom," Ron Klain, Biden's first chief of staff, told us.

But there has been a total collapse of people's trust in the opposing party, the media, what they see or share on social platforms, and even the top-secret intelligence the government relies on to measure these threats.

  • This, as much as the five individual threats above, is what worries officials. They know things could get worse — fast — and require tough actions — fast. And no one knows whether Congress or the public could unite in an emergency.

There's more at the link.

I think those five crises are too narrowly tailored, and ignore a number of other crises that are imminent, such as:

  • The US deficit is out of control, growing by about $2 trillion over the past year alone.  Effectively, we're having to borrow more than $166 billion every month just to fund our current expenditure.  How could we afford a war on top of that?
  • The migration surge across our southern border is completely out of control, and is putting immense strain on not just our financial, but also our social fabric.  If foreign crises take up too much attention, the situation could get much worse, very quickly.  Who will deal with it?
  • The ongoing conflict between progressive-left statists and conservative constitutionalists.  If a war demands immediate and urgent attention, will it also lead to a crackdown against internal opposition, a disregard for constitutional norms?  It's happened before, and could easily happen again.
There are many others I could cite, but you get the idea.

As a nation in an unstable world, we're balanced on a knife-edge right now.  Things could very easily tip out of control.  For those so inclined, I strongly urge prayer for peace and stability.  For all of us, people of faith or otherwise, I strongly suggest preparing for what may lie ahead, as best we can.


Monday, October 23, 2023

Organized mayhem on American streets


Matthew Braken posted a link to this video on X (previously Twitter).  At 1m. 41sec. in the video, you can see a minivan try to get away from a horde of Antifa "demonstrators", only to be intercepted by highly organized and well-equipped rioters.  He notes:

Notice the three rapid-reaction ATVs that arrive at 1:41. This was just a street takeover today, but they have command and control via a hovering drone and inter-squad radio/cell phones, so imagine them when they have their AR-15s and arrive in your cul-de-sac for a "Hamas-style" operation. They are organized. When they escalate to Hamas terror tactics, it will be brutally effective. They already have the guns and the organization. In this video they doxxed the man's car license #, why? Sure, they can re-attack him at the riot, but they can also now find his home for retaliation. This is terrorism.

There's more at the link, including a detailed photographic analysis of what happened.  I highly recommend that you watch the video and read the original post.

Please note that the organizers of this "demonstration" had foreseen the need for such highly organized, well equipped, aggressive agents, and provided for it.  This was no casual gathering:  it was a professional operation, planned and executed with precision.  We've seen it before in left-wing progressive-dominated cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland and elsewhere.  Now we're seeing it in many more cities.


It's as simple as that.

All my previous warnings to get out of "big blue" American cities are reinforced by this video.  If you live in such an environment, the risks to your safety grow daily.  Get out if possible.  If you can't get out, or if you have to visit such cities from time to time, pay attention to the ever-growing need to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones against such organized criminality, if necessary.

This is what the organized left intends to bring to America's streets everywhere.  Plan, train and equip yourselves accordingly.


Johnny Nash would agree


The late Johnny Nash was a well-known singer-songwriter.  One of his hits was "There Are More Questions Than Answers", which included the famous line "The more I find out, the less I know".  From that perspective, I think he'd have approved of this cartoon from Stephan Pastis.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the "Pearls Before Swine" Web page.

I suspect most of those on both sides of the political aisle in Washington D.C. (and all 50 state capitols) would fit Wise Ass's categorization!


Memes that made me laugh 182


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

The harvest is meagre this week, because too many memes are war- and politics-related, and do anything but make me laugh.  Let's hope for more humor and less grimness next time.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Sunday morning music


Earlier this week I put up a comedy video clip of Jeff Foxworthy talking about his colonoscopy.  It made me laugh a lot, and while doing so I had a thought.  How many songs have been written about this procedure?

See (and hear) a few for yourself.

And, in honor of the doctor who takes care of such problems, here's Bowser and Blue with their famous Colorectal Surgeon Song, which we've encountered in these pages several times before.

I hope that's encouraged those of you looking forward (?) to this procedure!


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday Snippet: A teenage girl, her rescue, and its consequences


I recently discovered a novel titled "Needles and Delaney", and found it intriguing.

The blurb reads:

Needles, a retired Special Forces medic and owner of Dawes’s Salvage has a problem. Her name is Delaney. She’s a thirteen years old. She’s foul-mouthed, disrespectful, and hates authority. As far as Needles is concerned, those are her good points, because she’s also his manipulative ex-wife’s daughter, and he’s been extorted to go find her. An awful lot of people really want Delaney dead. They just didn’t figure on Needles getting in the way.

The preface to the book is interesting.  Todd Dorsey writes:

It all started on a dare. Really. The Missus was going on a trip to help her family for an extended period and I was stuck working. We really don’t like to be apart. After twenty years in the Army, with all that time apart, all those goodbyes at airports, our main goal since has been to be together as much as possible. We are that couple.

The Missus dared me to try writing some fiction while she was gone; something I’d never considered doing. So I did, then posted my efforts to see if I could get some feedback. There are writer’s groups, where knowledgeable views are exchanged, well thought out critiques given and experienced writers mentor newcomers. That certainly sounded nice, but a bit out of my league, to say the least. I just wanted some reader feedback.

I looked for places where there was real feedback from real readers. I ended up posting my decidedly non-erotic short story onto an erotic story website, fully expecting to be blasted. It didn’t happen; instead I got a flood of encouragement to write more. I wrote more and the encouragement continued from readers and other writers. I can’t begin to explain how important the readers were and are to getting us to write more.

The Missus eventually joined in, helping at first, but then becoming a full partner in it, coming up with plotlines, characters and ideas. She’s brilliant. She was even named by the readers who decided “my wife” was just too plain for someone who could frame a plot and build characters the way she did, so they named her “The Missus.”

We really don’t write the stories at the computer. That is where the words are put down, but the stories are written on long drives, evenings on the couch, and back and forth over the kitchen counter. We tell each other crazy stories, try out ideas for scenes. The Missus even does voices. It’s fun, it’s something we do together and it is apparently something a lot of people like. Some of the stories have been read nearly 300,000 times. That’s stunning, given that 11,000 sales can get someone on the NYT Best Seller list.

The Needles & Delaney stories, springing from an idea The Missus had, are easily the most popular we’ve written, and after a lot of requests we decided to expand them a bit and get the first three into a book and out there.

These are amazingly fun characters to write; They’re vulgar, violent, and angry to the core. But they are absolutely unrefined, unafraid and unapologetic about what they are. I think there is a bit of them hidden away in all of us.

Since my wife, too, is an author (her latest book was published earlier this month), and we spend quite a lot of time discussing plot points, action sequences and so on, that preface caught my attention, and persuaded me to try the book.  I'm glad I did.  It's entertaining, and rather better than most novice authors' first efforts - the constructive criticism offered by readers, and the effect of constant improvement, are clearly visible.

WARNING:  There's a lot of foul language in this book, particularly F-bombs.  However, it fits the characters and scenario.  If such language is unacceptable to you, I suggest you pass on this one.  I've edited it out of the snippet below, because this is a family-friendly blog.

The book opens when Needles is asked by his ex-wife to find and rescue Delaney from wherever she's disappeared to.  Reluctantly, he agrees, and accepts a tracking device that shows the current location of her cellphone.  Here's what happens when he finds her.

I went up to the trailer, pulled out the keys to Sally and, after a bit of thought, pulled my .45, a Springfield 1911, out of the bedside table, then pulled a couple extra magazines for it.

I probably wouldn’t need it, maybe the girl was probably hiding out with some summer camp friend or some boy she’d met, but I’d learned the hard way not to be caught unarmed and unprepared.

Some of that I learned from guerrillas in places nobody likes to talk about anymore. Some of it I’d learned from Charlotte.

Besides, the marker on Charlotte’s tracking app was sitting in what I knew to be a pretty ugly neighborhood, the kind of place where cops don’t go alone if they can avoid it, and that might not be a good sign for a rich little runaway. Or anyone sent to pick her up.

I walked out into the yard then pulled the roller door up on Sally’s garage and stared at her. Mostly primer with a brilliant yellow hood, and passenger door, she was certainly no beauty, looking more like a rent-a-wreck beater than anything else. That boxy-looking “Fox” body style didn’t exactly scream Fast and Furious. Still, she had it where it counted. A 1979 Mustang Cobra four-speed with all the internal trimmings and some extra upgrades beyond anything Ford offered. It’d been a total pain in the ass, but I’d put in a Gen2 5.0L Coyote engine, the best sway bars money could buy and racing seats with five-point harnesses. If this got stupid, I wanted something that could run with anything out there, and for all her cosmetic problems, Sally was that girl.

When I rolled out of the yard, I passed the square and caught a glimpse of the sheriff leaning against the grill of his Tahoe as he watched me leave.

After some deliberation, I took the back roads to the outskirts of Durham; I’d been that way hundreds of times to pick up loads; wrecked cars mostly. The dusty rock roads kept me off the highway and out of traffic, away from idiot drivers in a hurry to get someplace. I occasionally checked the tablet to see if my quarry had moved, maybe to a mall or something. No such luck.

It took almost two and a half hours to get to the rundown neighborhood. I figured by that time, according to the tracker, she’d been there for nearly five hours. I parked a few houses away. A shiny black Lincoln Navigator and a dark blue Pontiac G8 GT sat outside what was obviously a condemned house. Or at least it should have been condemned. Not good. Not good at all. I tucked my .45 into my belt and glanced up and down the street. There wasn’t any movement and damned few cars.

I straightened my hat, looked at myself in the reflection in the window and hoped that the idiots in the two-story house were desperately stupid.

When the door opened, I held the tracker up as if it meant something. “I’m looking for a Delaney Morris. I’m the Uber driver.”

The guy who opened the door had a half a head of height on me, and a dizzying array of tattoos. A huge “NCWB” tattoo ran up his neck. He opened the door just far enough that I could see nobody was in the room behind him. “Nobody called an Uber here.”

“Look, can you check? I’m pretty sure she’s here, the instructions are pretty specific.” I looked at the tablet as if I were reading it. “She’s a minor, so I have to do the pickup or I get in trouble.” I had no idea if Uber worked that way, but the guy didn’t exactly look overly sharp. I pulled her picture up and held the tablet up in my left hand. “You know her?”

“She ain’t leavin’. She’s our girl now.” His eyes flicked to a closed door.

I pretended to look at my tablet. “Dude, she’s like thirteen years old.”

Chuckling, he glanced back at the same door. “You know what they say, man. Old enough to bleed, old enough to—”

He never quite finished the sentence; medics learn a great deal about anatomy. Such as the fact that the point where the jaw attaches to the skull is particularly vulnerable to a sudden hard strike, say a really hard right cross delivered with no warning.

He staggered back and fell to his knees, so I hammered another one in on the same point and rammed my knee into his face as he sagged loosely to the ground. God, that felt good.

A trickle of blood dripped out of his mouth. I guess he was old enough.

I walked over to the door he’d looked at. There was a hasp with a screwdriver through it, locking the door shut. I pulled the screwdriver out and yanked the door open.

She was sitting, pale and obviously terrified, on the edge of a ratty mattress that had been dragged into the room. She blinked as the extra light poured in. The windows to the room had been mostly painted over on the outside. At least she was still wearing clothes; that was a damn good sign.

“Let’s go. I’m here to take you home.”

She didn’t say anything, just jumped to her feet and scrambled for the door. She stopped, looked at the guy on the ground and paused long enough to kick him in the face as hard as she could.

I heard something moving upstairs. Lots of somethings. “Keep moving.” I grabbed her arm, dragging her out the door and toward Sally.

“That? Seriously?” Even as scared as she was, she was clearly appalled by the car.

“Keep moving, Pumpkin. The limo is in the shop.” I shoved her into the passenger seat.

“What are these things?” She fumbled with the five-point.

“Jesus. It’s a safety harness. Like a seat belt.” I leaned over and began pulling the straps into place. She froze when I yanked the crotch strap into place.

“Easy there. Just getting you strapped in.” I snapped the belts shut and pulled the release rotator off, dropping it into my pocket as I rushed around the car, keeping one eye on the door to the house while I slid into my seat.

She fumbled with the center of the harness. “It’s broken. I can’t get out.”

“I’ll fix it later.” I fired the engine up.

“But I can’t get out.”

“Yeah, well that’s sort of the point, Powder Puff. Why the hell are you trying to get out of the seat in the first place...” I stopped, figures were pouring out of the front door of the house. I reflexively counted eight of them. S***. “Time to go. Your boyfriend’s asshat friends are on the way.” I tried to pull away slowly and quietly, but a few of them looked in my direction.

“He isn’t my boyfriend. These guys are just friends of Brandon’s. Brandon couldn’t make it, so they picked me up.” 

“Let me guess, you met Brandon on the internet? Un-****ing-believable. Hard to believe anybody still falls for that s***. You actually still believe he’s real?”

“**** you.” She did look a little sheepish.

“My, my, my. Would you look at her, using bad words like she’s all growed-up. You shouldn’t ****ing curse, it’s not ladylike.”

“**** you!” She glared hatefully this time.

“You already said that, Tinkerbell. Not very creative, are you?” In the rearview mirror, I could see them piling into the SUV and G8. I held my breath hoping they’d run for it, afraid, maybe that somebody’d called the cops.

“**** you!” She yanked at the webbing of the harness furiously.

“You really are going to have to work on that vocabulary.” S***. They were turning in our direction. I was sure Sally could outrun that SUV, but the G8 was going to be a problem, no matter what. Besides, even if we could outrun the damn thing, it might not be the best idea in the world. I might just be trading one problem for another.

Clueless, the girl apparently thought one unconscious thug had ended the danger. She sneered at me. “What are you some kind of pervert, kidnapping little girls?”

“Nah. Doesn’t sound very challenging. Apparently, all you have to do is pretend to be a guy named Brandon on the internet and they come running.” I needed to do this without involving the police; the last thing I wanted was for Charlotte to get pissed off and drop my grandfather’s gun into the ocean. I headed back for the route I’d come in on. Familiar ground.


“That’s better, at least now you’re showing a little creativity.” The SUV had pulled out in front of the G8; not a great plan, the G8 could have maybe outpaced me and boxed me in, but I could outmaneuver and outrun the SUV if I needed to. I didn’t need them to know that, though. Not yet. I accelerated away as smoothly as possible.

“I didn’t need your ****ing help.”

“I could see that. You had them right where you wanted them. Very clever.”

“**** you. Why’d you even get involved?”

“Your mother railroaded me into it.”

“She’s a ****ing bitch.”

“Well, we agree on that. Charlotte is one grade-A, ****ing cold-blooded, heartless, soulless bitch.”

“Oh God, you do know her.”

“No s***. Score one for Nancy Drew, Girl Detective.” I kept Sally a quarter mile ahead of the SUV, pacing as if I wasn’t aware of them. Push them too early and they’d act on it before I was ready.

I was pretty sure they were looking for the same thing I was: a quiet place with no witnesses. I had just the place for all of us, if only they were patient enough to wait fifteen minutes or so.

“We need to go back. That guy took my backpack with my clothes. He also took my phone. He said it needed to be charged.”

I looked over at her and rolled my eyes but didn’t say a word.

She slumped back in her seat a bit, clenching her eyes shut for a second. “You must think I’m an idiot.”

“Not really. You’ll need to try harder to work your way up to idiot. Do you still not have a ****ing clue what was happening?”

She stared down at her feet silently.

I rolled on. “You were about to become a goddamned party favor. There were at least eight guys there, and probably more on the way. You have to know what they would have done to you. Use your ****ing head.”

She shrunk in on herself, breathing in spasms. I could tell she was crying but she didn’t want me to know. She didn’t want me to think she was weak. She caught her breath and gritted her teeth. “Asshole.”

I laughed. “Good girl. If you can’t be smart, you’d better learn to be tough. Because you’re gonna ****ing need it if you don’t wise up.” We were getting close. I turned down a broad gravel road. I’d been through here dozens of times and I knew the roads here; I just hoped I had enough luck to pull this off.

She turned her head to wipe the tears from her eyes so I wouldn’t see them. “You don’t have to be a dick all the time. I’ve had a really awful day.”

“You want sympathy, it’s in the dictionary between s*** and syphilis. You did this to yourself. You put yourself here. Learn from it, and don’t do stupid s***.” The SUV moved aside and the G8 started to move up fast; I stepped on the gas and the engine snarled in exhilaration, the sudden acceleration punching a wide-eyed Delaney back into her seat.

“Holy s***!”

“Hang on. Your friends have decided that they don’t want witnesses.”

She looked back around the edge of her seat and saw the blue car gaining. “Oh God! Do something!”

Needless to say, Needles does, indeed, do something.  It's a well-written action sequence, and the whole book develops from and builds on this incident.

Recommended reading.