Miss Carter – From the Confident 1950’s to the Incoherent 2020’s.

Introductory note: I wrote this homage to a beloved teacher, Miss Carter, some time ago and set it aside. I came across it yesterday and reread it. I found a burning need to reset its context in light of current events. It thus reaches an inflection point and takes a sharp, negative turn, like our failing nation. 

It was the era when erasers had to be clapped and blackboards washed. First thing every morning we recited the Lord’s Prayer and read a Psalm. It was the 1955-56 academic year at Alexander Hamilton Junior High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I was in 7th grade. We had a class quaintly called “unified studies.” All I remember, though, is that we learned English. Our teacher that year was Miss Carter. She had gray hair and was older than my parents, so she qualified in my book as old – probably mid 50’s. She was what we called an “old maid” and she lived with Miss Neff a fellow maiden teacher. We and the times were sufficiently innocent back then that I do not recall any speculation whatever as to their sexual orientation; in those days there were only two sexes. They were both respected, indeed beloved teachers; strict disciplinarians, to boot.... [Read More]

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Daniel Greenfield, Mensch Extraordinaire, Nails It.

Most always, I find myself attempting to understand matters in context, to see the big picture, to land on a T.O.E. (theory of everything). I think I see most of the moving parts of our present dishonest, incoherent, execrable, long-planned Marxist hysteria. I have been unable to articulate just how all the parts mesh, however.

Daniel Greenfield, whom I have followed and have even been moved to voluntarily $upport from time to time (going back when he first appeared on Jewish World Review, as I recall in the mid 90’s) has put it all together in a very cogent short essay today. I am pretty sure he is observant, Orthodox. I suspect from his style of writing he has studied a great deal of Talmud. Regardless, I commend to you, my fellow Ratburghers, his essay entitled The High Cost of Racializing Crime. The part he nails is the cui bono of the present Maoist tantrum. We all know the answer, but the manner in which he constructs the case is enlightening. It is well worth a few minutes.

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Our Neighbors, the Wrens and Their Existential Implications

My wife (Gigi)does numerous crafts as hobbies. Among her clever creations are numerous bird-houses made from gourds. One hangs under the roof of our covered but unenclosed back deck and, every year, wrens (we’re not sure which kind – there are several) nest in one of the gourds. There is no doubt about when hatching of eggs occurs, as the area becomes a cacophony of screeching ‘feed me’, rather reminiscent of Audrey2 of Little Shop of Horrors fame (that was made way back when rather innocent and inoffensive [to someone, somewhere] entertainment still existed).

During the 18 days or so before they leave the nest, the parents shuttle non-stop between nearby food sources and the nest. They take turns briefly perching at the opening and delivering the chitinous calories; rinse, repeat. While the parents do not attack us when we are on the porch – like they do cats or snakes – they only screech disapproval.... [Read More]

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A Few Privileges of my Modern Life

I spent most of today trying to complete an application for lost earnings via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The onerous instructions are a literary and physical obstacle course. After spending several hundred dollars with my accountant, who sent what I thought were all the necessary materials, I got an email from the bank with an additional list of near-impossible-to-get-right demands. The final demand was to email it to a nearly indecipherable email address (in a format I have never before seen!) and to put my Social security Number in the subject line (I refused, saying that surely they know it is unsafe to do so, giving my last four numbers only).

While doing all this, my 2 month old MacBook Air is freezing up about every 30 minutes. It has been doing this since I got it, only not as frequently. Two failed attempts at phone support. I have to take to to the Apple Store Friday while it is still under warranty (soon out, of course). I have re-installed the OS several times, stopping short of a clean install – which I suspect is coming soon. Meanwhile, I need to rule out a hardware fault before un-warranty time.... [Read More]

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Yeats’ Timeliness?

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
— William Butler Yeats... [Read More]

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Book Review: “Earth Abides” by George R Stewart

Somehow I missed this magnificent book until now. I owe its discovery to Covid-19 and Amazon. In consideration of the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon took 75% off the price of this post-apocalyptic book and offered it to me based on its analysis of my metadata, no doubt. The story, written in 1949, yet eternally timely, is by far the most insightful exposition of human ontology I have ever read. It is hard to imagine a clearer disquisition of the topic.

‘Human’, of course, is rooted in the same Latin stem as ‘humus’, the rich, life-supporting, organic component of soil, of Earth. Here is a story which, with abundant pathos, fleshes out the meaning of the ancient wisdom, “Earth to Earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, as it traces out about fifty years of life in post-apocalyptic suburban San Francisco. Some modern reviewers cast the book, inevitably and tortiously, as a novel about ecology. It is no such thing. Only those who cannot check their politics at the door would view it from that perspective. To open minds, it is much more important than a tale of quasi-religious, neo-Gaia vogue. Setting forth this review takes on, for me, some urgency, you see. So affected am I by having read it that I need some release, some de-cathexis from a sense of being overwhelmed with fresh and profound knowledge of my own smallness and ineffectuality. My sentiments are running the gamut from creation to eschatology.... [Read More]

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The Leadership Needed Now

Before beginning, I want to recommend another excellent piece by VDH, whose title employs an apt medical metaphor and whose text describes the painful realities of our current status, while putting them in historical context.

Judging by some of my family members’ reactions to the latest massaged ‘news’ of Trump’s musings regarding disinfectants, I am fearing for the prospects of his reelection. Immersed as they are in 14.7 psi column of legacy propaganda molecules (like the atmosphere it pervades everything, it extends from the surface of the Earth to outer space) [actually, their frantic subterfuges render our environment more like a hyperbaric chamber of air-fluid venom aimed at infusing our very bones], my family are more negative than usual about Trump. Rather than debate them – politics, like religion, is generally not amenable to persuasion – I am focused on what Trump ought to be saying; I am asking what would a real leader say to the public? It is less my enthusiasm for him than my terror at the election of a Dem which is at work here.... [Read More]

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Socialism at Work in the PRP

That’s the Commonwealth People’s Republic of Pennsylvania again. You might be tempted to imagine that our overseers are drunk with power; they may well be, but the rest of us are sober in its shadow. Interesting fact: The state’s PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) is the largest purveyor of alcoholic beverages in the world. One might think such a huge purchaser would have great bargaining power when buying its line of goods and offer good prices to its customers. Anyone with real world experience, of course, knows that, since the bored board have no ‘skin in the game’, much better prices can always be had by just driving across the state line to a private establishment in an adjacent state. In its munificence, a few years ago, the Commonwealth even decriminalized that particularly odious, antisocial act – comparison shopping across state lines! This generosity was merely a sop to groups who had been ardently trying for 40 years to privatize the stores.

Early in his term, our Democrat governor, Wolf, vetoed the first privatization bill to finally reach a governor’s desk (I wonder which candidate the PLCB employees’ union supported?). This is the same governor who ordered the stores closed for our ‘safety’, unlike any of the surrounding states (which now require proof of residence to purchase alcohol in their states; they don’t ‘want foreigners’ to bring virus across state lines). As I write, the local news is touting today’s PLCB press release claiming they have increased the number of allowable online sales to a whopping 6500 per day. That’s right, 6500 sales for shipment in a state with a population of nearly 13 million inhabitants. The PLCB’s website allows random access (for ‘fairness’) to 6500 requests per day. It has nearly 600 stores and 5000+ employees throughout the state, BTW. So, they are patting themselves on the back for managing to take 10 whole orders per store (for up-to-six-bottle purchases). That comes out to slightly more than one order per employee per day! I can hardly wait till these guys (with post office and DMV as consultants) are running the ‘single-payer’ health ‘care’ system.... [Read More]

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Lessons of Emerging Clarity – The Power of Misdirection

All of us are focused on Covid-19, aka SARS – CoV2 and anxiously awaiting its complete characterization. As with prior diseases, giving it a name has always been important to its understanding and treatment. Nowadays, even this is made controversial, with a hidden purpose, as it turns out. Previously and uncontroversially, viral diseases were named for the region in which they first arose or were recognized. e.g. West Nile Virus, Ebola Virus, Zika, Spanish Flu, Coxsackie.

Now, however, rather than discussing what we do not know and what we urgently need to find out, we are regaled with lectures about the impropriety of unfairly stigmatizing China. That, we are told, is more important than learning facts about the illness or its spread (but not as important as criticizing Trump). In point of fact, it is very likely that the totalitarian Chinese government, as is the wont of dictatorships everywhere and at all times, has stigmatized itself through the propaganda and misinformation it continues to spread about the origin and dissemination of this disease. Were so-called ‘wet markets’ operant in the United States, the “media” horde would descend upon them (in hazmat suits) like flies on dung; the markets and bat smoothies would be outlawed by executive order. ‘No need to wait for legislation’, would spout the approving media. Any practice deemed ‘dangerous’ by them must be outlawed immediately!... [Read More]

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Computer Platforms Go Full Circle

I began using Apple II then Mac computers back when. Then, when everybody around me at the hospital was using Windows machines, I switched over. I was frequently in over my head and, on occasion, drowned, so to speak. I came up with the aphorism – with which most everybody agreed – “install any new software at your peril”. Something else will surely not work, even if the new software does (by no means guaranteed). I often wondered out loud back then, say, early 90’s, why Apple didn’t own the world. Their machines were so much better for guys like me, non- computer literate.

Well. My new MacBook Air (I went back to Apple around 2002 as I recall) has OS Catalina. Over the past few days, the following quit working (having all worked fine on the 5 year-old machine I migrated over to this one): Safari – just quit doing anything; 1Password – likewise. I couldn’t even re-download it; Carbon Copy Cloner – cloned not. I already spent 45 minutes the phone with Apple. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Safari (Firefox worked fine). After playing around with extensions (there were none operating) and network settings, it suddenly started up & worked for 2 days then quit again.... [Read More]

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USSA, PRP…

United Socialist States of America, People’s Republic of Pennsylvania.

The governor of the erstwhile “Commonwealth” of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, has issued an executive order, demanding that all health care institutions – public and private – within 5 days, forward an inventory of all drugs, equipment and supplies and asserting the power to “allocate” them by his sole prerogative.... [Read More]

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Unjustified Whiplash. Evidence of Just How Little We Really Know About Covid-19

If you’re like me, you may have the sense we’re all on a rollercoaster ride. I will forego describing the feelings. If you need evidence that much of what is being broadcast (by media of all sorts) is of questionable validity, just look at the Worldometer.info statistics on the disease.

I am particularly referring to the ‘deaths per 1 million population’ figure – a rather broad parameter which is very important to our big picture understanding. One would expect some variation of this figure between countries. The number per million, though varies by a factor of 10 or more. I cite this only to highlight the fact that if such a broad measure can vary by a large enough factor to call the validity of the entire measure for whole countries into question, how much credit ought we give to the next breathless anecdote or ‘news bulletin’?... [Read More]

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Simulation Hypothesis/Many Worlds Hypothesis. Juxtaposition?

Not long ago, just before the corona virus induced a sudden age spurt in our psyches, John Walker reviewed The Simulation Hypothesis. Now, this idea has been fulminating in my mind since I came across it a few years ago. John’s review clarified some concepts I was struggling to understand. Rationally, it makes sense. Emotionally it makes waves.

A few days ago, while doing my daily hour of exercise on my Precor AMT, I watched a YouTube video on the ‘many worlds’ hypothesis – the assertion that there are many branching parallel universes. The guy made a plausible case based in quantum mechanics, as to why it may be true. I finished with the same unsettled feeling with which I leave consideration of the simulation hypothesis. I have a deep need to understand definite, fundamental eternal truths – you know, like all the ones I had before I turned 6 (though, setting aside this stab at humor, it just may be it is this very drive for understanding in most everyone which has led to humanity’s astounding material progress over the past few hundred years).... [Read More]

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The Lost Virtues. Is a Resurgence Pending?

During all of recorded history, until quite recently, life was far more difficult than it has been for us and the past few generations. Previously, human life had been noted as “nasty, brutish and short”. Being largely ahistorical as a culture, such thoughts, of late, have been generally avoided. Of course, there are many ways to broadly characterize the various facets of our recent lives in what I call ‘modernity’ for want of a better term, but Covid-19 suggests we consider one particular attribute of our present culture: excess. From a world history of pervasive scarcity, in the 20th century we emerged into one of plenty; sufficiency was supplanted by distribution as the predominant societal issue when it comes to ‘stuff’. “Distributive justice” emerged as a rallying cry along with the vocation of social justice warriors. I allude to the dogmatic nature of such folks by observing that the words, distributive justice, became flesh of SJW’s. Worse for our moral character, (those who dared speak of traditional morals were promptly marginalized with ad hominem attacks) our astounding material wellbeing was promptly pocketed and led to new mantras: ‘I am entitled’, ‘more’; ‘what’s next?’ Nothing exemplified such excess like a visit to Las Vegas; at least that was true until a few weeks ago. Further, ‘excess’ encapsulates the intersection (to borrow a term) of most if not all the (all-but-forgotten) seven deadly sins. If spoken of at all, such ideas were considered quaint or fanatical.

Various facets of human existence lend themselves to description on a range or spectrum whose extremes characterize the range. “On the spectrum”, in common usage, refers to the range of behaviors of Asberger’s Syndrome, from interactive with others to non-responsive. Other examples: idealist – pragmatist; materialist – spiritualist; progressive – conservative; statist – libertarian; religious – secular; ideologue – relativist; etc. All these are general and may be vague or subject to wide interpretation – or disputed unto oblivion by dismissive sophists. That does not vitiate their utility, however. Although distilled by many cultures, Christianity condensed certain polarities of human nature (even if one denies moral standing to these, as a practical matter we tend get on better with each other if we generally eschew these motives when we act) – certain ideals jelled into a moral code of actions to be avoided – listed as the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. As we respond to Covid-19, it seems timely to consider the scale of our recent hedonism vs. its opposite, asceticism; otherwise put – Las Vegas vs. Trappist Monastery. Hedonism, like excess, can be seen as encompassing an element of most every sin; asceticism can be seen as an earnest (or excessive) effort to avoid them.... [Read More]

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Life is Too Complicated, Series III, 43rd edition

Last evening, my wife found a new series (I think on Netflix) called Vice. It began with a female reporter interviewing ISIS members. I did’t pay much attention, but I caught enough to be appalled.. The next item was about something I never heard of, called “SIM swapping”. That got my full attention. Apparently, someone who has hacked your mobile account credentials (which they say can be obtained for a $100 bribe from an unscrupulous mobile phone company employee), a hacker can call the company saying they are you and request a new sim card for YOUR phone number. They can then use it as second factor access to your accounts with most anybody. As if there isn’t enough to worry about. This is a big enough problem that AT&T Wireless is being sued for  over $200 million over this issue. Their defense is that they are not in the security business. It’s not their fault you use your phone to identify yourself.

The program interviewed several victims whose entire life savings disappeared – without recourse in most cases, as it is near impossible to catch these guys. They even interviewed one still-functioning perp, whose identity was electronically masked, and he was quite proud of himself for being able to “make” so much money. An articulate monster, he assiduously avoided the word “steal”. The victims were shown addressing one of the rare perps who had been caught (only because he bragged about his feats on social media) in court after his sentencing to 10 years in prison (of which they expected him to serve 4) and explained that he would be out at age 24 and they were pretty sure he had over $4 million hidden in cryptocurrency which they couldn’t find. I found myself saying to my wife that were I that victim, I might be telling the guy he could reliably expect me to make my presence known to him immediately upon his release… We call this justice today: steal someone’s life savings, make $4 million in exchange for 4 years minimum security incarceration.... [Read More]

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