How to Lie with Data

It was Chesterton, I think, who said: No lie is more dangerous than when it is very nearly true. Propaganda is much more about very nearly telling the truth than about out and out lies. The big lies, the ones repeated over and over until they have beaten down the weak, are usually built upon small half truths. But even the most dedicated propagandist tells the truth much of the time – just not the whole truth.

So we hear that, finally, CDC officials have acknowledged that 43% Covid hospitalizations are *with* not *for* Covid; and that in 75% of Covid deaths the deceased had 4 or more ‘comorbidities’.

Statements such as these should cause a sane person not to trust anything the CDC says. Why is this being mentioned now, when those of us capable of looking at the data could have told- and did tell! – you the same thing back in March of 2020? So one is left playing Kremlinology, trying to suss out why we are being told this now, when one was labelled a terrorist for mentioning it a month ago?

Tedious but necessary background. Looking at any old actuarial mortality table for the US, we see the following pattern: almost everybody lives to be at least 50, then, between ages 50 and 100, almost everybody dies. Before about age 80, most Americans are dead. Between 50 and 80, a little less than half of all Americans die; the other little less than half die between 80 and 100. (Or so – only a comparatively tiny number make it past 100.)

From age 1 to 50, comparatively few people die. Leading causes of death in this age range are accidents, murders, suicides, plus some number of people who just drew a bad hand, and were sickly or caught some nasty disease. But taken all together, less than 8% of men and 4.5% of women don’t make it to 50. By comparison, a mere 15 years later, at age 65, 20% of all American males are dead – it took 50 years to kill off the first 8%, and only 15 to kill off the next 12%. The death rate accelerates from there. A 50 year old man runs only about a .5% chance of death that year; a 90 year old man has a 16% chance of death that year.

This should be common sense. Certainly, we are much more surprised and saddened when somebody under 50 dies; when somebody over 80 dies, it is, or should be, no shock at all.

Keeping this all in mind, let’s talk about ‘comorbidities’. I have 2 comorbidities – I’m fat, and have high blood pressure. Eventually – sooner rather than later, as I’m 63 years old – these health problems are likely to catch up with me and could even kill me. But short term, like over the next 5 to 10 years, probably not, but there’s certainly no guarantee. So my comorbidities are a cause for concern (and action! working on it!), but they are not, so far, interfering with my day to day life.

Now let’s talk about the population where most of the attributed Coved deaths take place: those in nursing homes and hospitals. Such people also have comorbidities, usually a lot of them. But here’s the difference, what is being lied about through omission: the comorbidities of nursing home prisoners HAS destroyed their ability to function. Their health is so poor that they are put in special places where others can care for their most basic needs.

Comorbidities among nursing home incarcerees typically include such things as cancer, renal failure, heart problems, severe respiratory problems. The CDC rules don’t allow ‘old age’ as a cause of death, so, when an old person whose body is failing in a hundred ways finally passes on, the doctor is forced to put something, or some short list of somethings, as the cause of death. Prior to the Covid panic, heart failure and pneumonia were top causes.

In this environment, where a large number of people are awaiting death, and where any old cold or flu is likely to push them over the edge, we add Covid. AND we put in very loose guidelines for a Covid diagnosis, AND we financially incent people to care for Covid patients, AND we remove all independent oversight (visitors) – well, it turns out an awful lot of people, with comorbiditeis like lung cancer and congestive heart failure are all the sudden showing up as Covid deaths.

While it is refreshing to see the CDC talking about comorbidities at all, it would be much more honest (yeah, like that’s gonna happen) to talk about where these people are dying – namely, nursing homes and hospitals. In a nursing home? You’re not long for this world,* Covid or not; not in a nursing home or otherwise very ill? Covid is no worry at all, no more than a cold or flu.

*with the usual caveat that those in dementia care sometimes live years until the decay of their bodies catches up with the decay of their minds. But those in for basic bodily sickness are unlikely to last for more than a year or so, usually much less.

Three Quotations and a Link and an UPDATE

Off in a bit to begin the ceremonies – rehearsal, rehearsal dinner today, then wedding and reception tomorrow – demarking the handing off of Younger Daughter to her husband.

UPDATE: Logistics are a bit – interesting for this wedding. The church is a little over an hour away, near where Younger Daughter lives; the hall where the reception will be is about 20 minutes from there. BUT: the team doing the catering is my middle son (bride’s older brother) and his lovely wife of all of 6 months. They both have years of experience in food service, so it’s not as crazy as it seems. Issue: our nice kitchen has been volunteered for all the food prep – an hour and a half away from the hall. The hall also has a nice kitchen. The proprietors of the hall generously allowed us access starting at 3:00 today for a reception that start around noon tomorrow. But (almost) everybody involved is in the wedding itself, so we need to do as much set up between 3:00 and 4:40 (5:00 start of the rehearsal, a 20 minute drive away). Then, morning of, do the final cooking of the hot stuff so that it comes out warm around noon.

Future son-in-law knows a big Catholic family, the patriarch of which also knows my middle son and his wife – two of his daughters worked with them in the kitchens at Thomas Aquinas College. So, as we’re prepping here like mad, son gets a call from the matriarch of the above large family asking: how many of my kids do you want me to send over to help? So three daughters, two of whom have worked with and for my son, will be meeting the posse at the reception hall at 3:00 to help with set up and prep. Pretty darn cool. One friend of a friend also volunteered to get the cooking started morning of the wedding.

So, it’s working out. I rented a house for tonight in the neighborhood of the church, so we all can crash after the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the finishing touches on the reception hall, and mom can support the bride without a 1:30 (at least – there’s snow on the mountains, skiers will be jamming the road Saturday morning) drive. Again, we are grateful and blessed.

So, quotations – first up: Eddie Burke, because why not?

Where trade and manufactures are wanting to a people, an the spirit of nobility and religion remains, sentiment supplies, and not always ill supplies their place; but if commerce and the arts should be lost in an experiment to try how well a state may stand without these old fundamental principles, what sort of a thing must be a nation of gross, stupid, ferocious, and at the same time, poor and sordid barbarians, destitute of religion, honor, or manly pride, possessing nothing at present, and hoping for nothing hereafter? I wish you may not be going fast, and by the shortest cut, to that horrible and disgustful situation. Already there appears a poverty of conception, a coarseness and vulgarity in all the proceedings of the assembly and of all their instructors. Their liberty is not liberal. Their science is presumptuous ignorance. Their humanity is savage and brutal.

Reflections on the Revolution in France

And

All circumstances taken together, the French revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. The most wonderful things are brought about in many instances by means the most absurd and ridiculous; in the most ridiculous modes; and apparently, by the most contemptible instruments. Every thing seems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies.
In viewing this tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily succeed, and sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indignation; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and horror.

Ditto
Ready, Eddy?

The consistently incisive and depressingly accurate analysis of Clarissa, who grew up under the Soviet Union and teaches at Woke State someplace, commenting on the thought processes of the Supreme Court considered as a bunch of aging Boomers:

Sotomayor has already asked how “a human spewing virus is different from a machine spewing sparks.” As one’s brain ossifies with age, one begins to perceive the world through analogy. Everything gets referred back to one’s past experience. Everything is “just like.” Accepting that anything can be genuinely new means facing that one is outdated, possibly even mortal. And no, not every old person is like that. There are rare but important exceptions. For the most part, though, this is exactly how it works. If you don’t subject your brain to rigorous daily training in processing new information from new sources, you will become that sad old fart who “justlikes” every conversation into the ground.

And her further thoughts. Sigh. I’m so sick of her being right.

Finally, a slightly more amusing quotation:

“Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it.”

St. Philip Neri

Probably check in again next week. Until then, party hardy.

Predictions from Last Year, and for This Year

William Briggs, Statistician to the Stars, asks every year for his readers to make predictions, then, early the next year, scores those predictions. I play along and then promptly forget them until reminded the following year when Briggs publishes the results.

His rules:

  1. Number your predictions, using numbers, like this.
  2. Limit your predictions to 5, a number less than 6 or more.
  3. No sports.
  4. Be specific and provide a way to verify your projections.
  5. Attach a probability word if you are less than certain.
  6. Verified predictions of our coming Doom will receive very little weight unless they are quite specific.

Here are mine for 2021, with Brigg’s comments after the quotation, and my comments in bold italics after that:

My 2021 predictions:

1. “By year end, the state will begin to take away the children of those who fail to comply with ‘public health’ orders, for the kids protection.” This indeed happened, but in isolated cases, usually divorces. Will pick up this year.

2. “A cold war will grow between the schools and those parents who (finally) see what the schools teach.” This happened, you terrorists. Will get worse.

3. “The lockdown it simply too intoxicating to ever end. A new strain will be ‘discovered’, CHILDREN ARE DYING!!!” Yes, twice over. Bingo.

4. “Websites such as this will either be simply eliminated, or, if small enough, shadow-banned.” We are shadow-banned in at least several universities, as anons have written to say.

5. “The election fraud stands, but something else – the inevitable power struggle among the victors, the sudden, unexpected collapse of China, somebody key breaking ranks, enough people starting to actively resist…” Not quite. I don’t remember exactly what I was predicting here – more chaos than we got, something like that. Maybe this year.

Here are mine for 2022:

  1. 2022 is the year the Branch Covidians are phased out and the Greta Fan Club takes over: more and more controls are enforced and less and less freedoms allowed, but the alleged cause gradually switches from fauxvid to Climate Change ™.
  2. Similarly, our all but mandated social scores, currently based on ‘vax’ status, will come to include some sort of carbon score or suchlike.
  3. “The rich” discover that they are not homogenous. The unending power struggles among our betters increase as saner heads try to reign things in. The Soroses and Buffetts of the world may have enough wealth in enough areas to ride out almost anything, but some people who imagine they are wealthy are going to discover they aren’t. Some rich people, for example, have much of their wealth in shipping or airlines. They are not as happy with the direction of things as are the more satanic vermin like Soros, whose fortune is based on currency manipulation. This one is likely complicated to verify, but can be read between the lines when certain industries push back against the control mechanisms.
  4. Public school attendance falls sharply. Private schools boom even as laws and regulations are enforced against them. Conflicts move from school board meetings into the actual schools. (Again, could be hard to verify, as the only reporting will frame the parents as ‘terrorists’ if it gets reported at all.)
  5. Prayers that the pope speedily comes to enjoy his eternal reward will increase in frequency and fervor, but he will hang on for another year.

You heard it here first! Maybe.

Obsessing About Weather: Acting Normally (for me)

Let’s take ourselves on wings of nostalgia as it were and try to help ourselves forget, perhaps, for a while, our drab wretched lives: Let us return to a subject written about here before the world lost its mind. All 12 longtime readers might recall my neurotic obsession interest in California weather. My interest was at first piqued by the incessant harping on and doomsday predictions over what, when looked at objectively, was just typical California weather. Namely: precipitation varies a lot from year to year here in the Golden State. Most years, we get less than average rainfall. Some years, we get a lot more than average rainfall. That’s the pattern evident in the data since there has data to look at.

So, a few years in a row of below average rainfall is not a drought. In any decade, you might get 5, 6, 7 years of below average rainfall, sometimes in a row. Such a pattern seems to simply be the way weather works here on the West Coast, at least since the last glacial maximum ended 10,000 years ago. The existence of California’s extensive system of reservoirs and canals testifies that at some point, some Californians understood that this is the pattern – and built a lot of reservoirs in an attempt to even it out a bit. That these reservoirs are sometimes near empty is a feature, not a bug. If they were always full, that would mean that precipitation around the state was always orderly and consistent. If they were always full, we wouldn’t need them.

Similarly, the three major rivers in the L.A. basin have been turned into concrete lined storm channels. 100 years ago, Angelinos got tired of having their city washed away about every decade, and so made sure the water from the occasional epic storm had somewhere to go. Most years, there will be more skateboarders than water in those channels. But once in a while…

Calling ‘average’ ‘normal’, so that mundane variation become, not ‘below average’, but ‘abnormal’ simply adds to the atmosphere of panic.

So: for the last year, we’ve been hearing about how California had sunk into an unprecedented drought since the epic rain year of 2016/2017 when, you may recall, 200%+ of average rainfall and snowpack nearly washed out the Oroville Dam. the state’s largest reservoir. That ended the then current unprecedented ‘drought’. Before that, the 2005/2006 epic rain year ended another unprecedented drought. And so on, back through the decades. As one remarkably sane meteorologist put it. there are only a few storms between drought and plenty in California.

How are we doing this year? Glad you asked. According to my crazy spread sheet*:

The at a glance summary section of my spreadsheet. The “gages over %” numbers show how many of the 32 total gages have reached the various arbitrary milestones. I’m just amusing myself.

The real accuracy here is probably more in the range of 10 percentage points, rather than the displayed 1/100th of a percentage point -but where’s the fun in that? So, despite the faux accuracy above, we’re really more like something between 70 and 80% of the season average as of today.

Any still here and not drifting into a coma may be interested in the overall pattern of rainfall over time in Contra Costa County, which I’ve determined from other datasets:

Again, while it would be easy (I do it all the time) to come up with a bunch of reasons why it’s wrong to do the math this way, and wrong to mix data from different sets, and so on, it’s also reciprocally hard to come up with any reasons the number would be very off – a bunch of different people calculating rainfall over many years and over a fairly contained and consistent area are not likely to get significantly different results.

The rain season here stretches from July through the following June. The seasonal pattern is something like this: On average, about 16% of total rainfall falls from July through November; about 10% falls in April, May, and June. The other 74% falls in December, January, February, and March.

Using the above as a baseline, as of the end of December, we get on average about 35% of our season total rainfall. This year, we’re at over 200% of expected average rainfall to date so far, and about 75% of the average seasonal total – with the bulk of the rainy season still to come. The Sierra snowpack, the melting of which following summer replenishes many reservoirs, is in a similar state: about 150% of average to date, about 50% of seasonal average.

So, we can stop worrying about the drought for now? Well – no. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the rain and snow to just – stop. A near or completely dry month or two or three, even the peak months, happens regularly. It would be a little unusual if, after a very rainy first half of the season, we got a very dry second half – but hardly unprecedented.

Isn’t this all fascinating? No?

The table is set for a nice 200% year, which would shut up the drought doomsayers for a while, at least. Yet, alas, even only 100% isn’t a sure bet at this point. I’ll keep y’all posted.

*The Contra Costa County Flood Control District maintains a set of 32 rain gages spread across the county. These gages are meant to track current rainfall against a set of “critical antecedent conditions” so as to allow predictions of flooding. The tables on the web page are automatically updated every 15 minutes, allowing the obsessive attentive observer to watch the rainfall spread out across the county in almost real time. These gages are situated at various altitudes and terrain, so that the experts at the CCC Flood Control District can see where the water is piling up and where it will go. I misuse these gages to measure broad rainfall totals, doing a series of logically and mathematically dubious sums and calculations in order to arrive at the magic number you see above – EXACTLY 76.93% of expected seasonal rainfall has, well, fallen so far. Riiiight. Summing up rainfall and averages across a range of gages and then dividing to get percentages – not strictly scientific. I also do averages of averages, which also has its shortcomings. BUT – I tell myself – the situation is such that these iffy methods are probably roughly right. I’m not applying for grant money are trying to whip up some panic here – I just like taking a stab at a broader measure of rainfall.

Faaa-arm Livin’: Update

Been doing stuff, but not posting. Among other things:

Went up to Sacramento to drop off the women folk for a bridal shower for the younger daughter. Collected the future son-in-law, and we took a drive up into the foothills of the Sierra to visit a family friend of his who is doing what I would like to do: living on a few acres out away from the urban areas, where he and his family raise a lot of their own food.

It was cool. He is a very nice man with a nice family. His little micro-farm (7 acres) is located along some south-facing hills, with a a little valley running down the middle. The houses (the one they live in, plus a 100 year old ruin that they restored & rent out through Air B&B) are on the higher end of their little valley, with pastures below, ending in a pond at the bottom. Sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Fruit trees both in a deer-fenced garden area and distributed around the property. A view for miles across the larger valley from the back porch. Beautiful.

Our host was able to point out a dozen important things I’d have likely missed. One needs irrigation district water to keep things green for the cows; city water, if you can even get it, soon becomes too expensive. Having the irrigation canal run up above his property means he doesn’t need pumps to run his sprinklers. The little valley he’s on has soil 4′ deep before you hit the granite that the Sierras are made of – some nice looking sites have little or no soil.

And so on. On the downside, being out away from civilization means mountain lions are a real deal – one had killed and eaten one of his sheep just the day before. The nearly-stripped carcass was still out in the pasture. Yikes. He keeps his shotgun handy, but he’d need to see the big cat to shoot it. And then there’s coyotes. Hawks and foxes kill his birds. The cows are too big for the mountain lions? At least, once grown a little?

Anyway, what an adventure. He and his lovely wife asked exactly what I’m looking for, and said they’d keep an eye out for suitable properties. They also recommended praying to St. Joseph – which we’re already doing.

The ‘neighborhood’ if you call it that consists of other small farms. Everybody knows everybody. Our host was surprised we’d driven up without anyone stopping us – he said all the neighbors watch for cars they don’t recognize, and then, in a friendly way, stop them and ask them who they are looking for – a real question, as it’s not like looking for street numbers in suburbia. One could get lost. But this also serves to reduce possible miscreants from just driving around.

He sang the benefits of raising kids in the country. In this context, he told me about the horsemanship requirement of Wyoming Catholic College. He said that it used an optional one semester deal, but now is required for the full first year. The college discovered that kids got invaluable knowledge and core lessons in basic reality, from learning how to get a big, opinionated animal to do what you want it to do, and from learning how to care for that animal. Any delusions one might entertain about the existence of objective reality die a quick death once you’re on the back of a horse.

The visit was a wonderful experience. While I personally would limit myself to garden, orchard, chickens, and maybe a pig, the kids are talking about sheep, goats and cows for milking. Right. Well, if they do the work…

All this is contingent on getting this house sold, a task I need to focus on with increased urgency. Given the news that is trickling out from San Francisco and L.A., I got to wonder: how many people really want to live in California anymore? Then I recall the stories I’ve read about the Russians hauled off to the gulags in the middle of the night, who believed it was all some big mistake, and that Stalin would certainly set it straight as soon as he found out about it. Our modern, well-schooled front row kids are even better equipped to comply. They got all those gold stats and pats in the head for doing what they were told to do, to believe what they were told to believe, and to despise those who failed to do as they were told and failed to regurgitate upon command. So, as long as they are told nothing is going on, they will prefer to deny the evidence in front of their eyes, or minimize it, or think it’s an exception, right up until it’s their turn to be the carbon that gets reduced.

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”
“That shows you’re still in the nursery, lovey,” said Miss Hardcastle.
“Haven’t you yet realised that it’s the other way round?”
“How do you mean?”
“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All
our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in May-fair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”
“As one of the class you mention,” said Mark with a smile, “I just don’t believe it.”
“Good Lord!” said the Fairy, “where are your eyes? Look at what the weeklies have got away with! Look at the Weekly Question. There’s a paper for you. When Basic English came in simply as the invention of a free-thinking Cambridge don, nothing was too good for it; as soon as it was taken up by a Tory Prime Minister it became a menace to the purity of our language. And wasn’t the Monarchy an expensive absurdity for ten years? And then, when the Duke of Windsor abdicated, didn’t the Question go all monarchist and legitimist for about a fortnight? Did they drop a single reader? Don’t you see that the educated reader can’t stop reading the high-brow Weeklies whatever they do? He can’t. He’s been conditioned.”

That Hideous Strength CH V

Little by little the whole thing came out. These were the refugees from Edgestow. Some had been turned out of their houses, some scared by the riots and still more by the restoration of order. Something like a terror appeared to have been established in the town. “They tell me there were two hundred arrests yesterday,” said the landlord. “Ah,” said the young man. “They’re hard cases, those N.I.C.E. police, every one of them. They put the wind up my old Dad proper, I tell ‘ee.” He ended with a laugh. “’Taint the police so much as the workmen by what I hear,” said another. “They never ought to have brought those Welsh and Irish.” But that was about as far as the criticism went. What struck Mark deeply was the almost complete absence of indignation among the speakers, or even of any distinct sympathy with the refugees. Everyone present knew of at least one outrage in Edgestow; but all agreed that these refugees must be greatly exaggerating. “It says in this morning’s paper that things are pretty well settling down,” said the landlord. “That’s right,” agreed the others. “There’ll always be some who get awkward,” said the potato-faced man. “What’s the good of getting awkward?” asked another, “it’s got to go on. You can’t stop it.” “That’s what I say,” said the Landlord. Fragments of articles which Mark himself had written drifted to and fro. Apparently he and his kind had done their work well; Miss Hardcastle had rated too high the resistance of the working classes to propaganda.

That Hideous Strength, CH X

The kinds of properties I am interested in have been driven up in price 30-40% in the last 20 months – but so have houses in my neighborhood. But how many people really want to go the Green Acres route? Most just want a safer, less crazy city or suburb that reminds them of where they used to live, circa 2015 or so. But enough people evidently are thinking ‘county’ to make it interesting.

The market has cooled in the suburbs, but I don’t know it that’s the usual winter slowdown or if it betokens more than that. Bottom line: I need to get this place ready to sell now. While, of course, also doing Christmas, New Year’s and younger daughter’s wedding.

No problem!

An Intrusion of Cockroaches

(Note: not judging people who have been forced, on pain of the loss of their jobs, to get the jab themselves. Rather, asking: where is the line? What will our betters have to demand of us to make us say ‘No.’? We all had better figure that out, and soon! And then say no and take the consequences. There is no elegant and peaceful out.)

There is nothing so horrible, brutal, and cruel that most people will not go along with it, so long as they think their peers are going along with it.

For centuries, at sites all around the Mediterranean, it was customary for infants and children to be sacrificed to the gods. One does not read of the Punic mothers of the infants ‘passed through fire’ to Moloch fighting to the death on the steps of the local tophet trying to save their babies. Instead, one reads of drums being pounded and priest shouting to drown out the screams of the infants being burned alive, lest their fathers go soft and regret their decision.

The parents, being good, loyal citizens and pious worshippers of the gods, did their duty. Life was cheap, even or perhaps especially the lives of helpless babies. Phoenician society – their families, friends, and neighbors – supported them in their decision. There are too many things so much more important than the lives of babies. Think what will happen to us all if the gods are not appeased? You want all that evil to befall us, simply because you are too soft to do the right thing? How selfish!

I hear an echo of this sense of duty in a story told about the Hatfields and McCoys: a son, having been shot and mortally wounded in a retaliation raid on the other family, was carried, screaming in agony, past his mother. She says: “Shut up, and die like a man.” – which he did. Obedient to the last. Motherly love.

Or the story told about how the Nazis “recruited” female prison camp guards. They would round up likely women – farm girls, shopkeepers, the sort of people the Third Reich could spare a few of – and, in large groups, place a Jewish woman in front of them. The candidates were then instructed to strike the Jew as hard as they could. Typically, something like 95 out of 100 would promptly do it. Four would need some cheering on, but would do it eventually. Only about 1 out of 100 would refuse – and get put in the same cattle cars to the same final destination as the Jews.

Women, supposedly the tender sex, would comply with orders to behave bestially toward another helpless woman. The about 3 to 5 out of every 100 who were already sociopaths (those are the numbers ‘experts’ throw around for the incidences of sociopathy) would find their true calling. The rest simply made accommodations in their hearts and minds, noting, first, that the state, the Fatherland, was telling them to do this, and they had been trained from the cradle in good Prussian-style schools that their entire worth lay in their service to the state; second, they did not want to endure the scorn of their betters and peers; and finally, that they didn’t want to die just yet. I think, given the innumerable examples from history, that that last cause is overrated. Fear of being ostracized in enough to turn most people into animals.

It is prudent to boil the frog slowly. The people in charge of the staffing the prison camps were perhaps in a hurry. They weren’t exactly trying to toss frogs into boiling water – they could rely on the decades of schooling by which the prison guard candidates had been softened up. Therefore, they could settle for a 99% success rate, and simple dispose of the occasional unsuccessful candidate.

The one thing they could not allow was for those who refused to comply to live. They must be isolated, at least, lest they, themselves, form a alternate community where not obeying the state is supported.

We, to our credit, needed more care: it took all of 19 months to move from ‘flatten the curve’ to ‘show your papers if you want to work or buy.’ To the cheering of throngs. 19 whole months. And, to our credit, there are still a significant number who have not yielded. But it’s terrifying how many reject plain English and move directly to the Just So stories:

Plain English: the ‘vaccines’ don’t work. They don’t keep you from catching, spreading, or dying from the disease. Therefore, because they don’t work, everybody must be forced to get them.

Just So story: but, but – jumble of words and terms very few who use them can explain or understand! Herd Immunity! Reduced risk! Asymptomatic transfer! Variants! If ALL these things, and a dozen more, are *exactly* as they are said to be, then, maybe – recall this is all theory, there is no history or evidence behind any of it – it would ‘reduce overall risk’ (something nobody using the term understands!) if *everybody* got the jab – that doesn’t work.

Clarity versus noise.

Now days, it seems maybe something like 80%? 85%? of us can be counted on to do exactly as we’re told, and to perform 2-minute hates on command against those who don’t. As anyone who has tried to reason with Normie knows, the reasoning that underlies this behavior is the language of compliance, not of evidence. *What* we are to comply with is not important, merely that we comply. They use the language of authority, which is the antithesis of the language of evidence and science.

The open question here: how much of that 80% is made up of true believers? How many have just slapped the Jewess because the price of not slapping her is too high, but don’t really believe she and her kind are responsible for the growing failure of the war effort? How many have, or soon will, offer up their own children to Moloch, because failure to do so puts you on team Emmanuel Goldstein, cast out of the company of the *good* people, and gets the two-minute hate directed at them – and what is the life of a child compared to that?

Support & Encouragement: Principle & Tactic

As mentioned earlier, Clarissa made a valid point about engaging Normie: at this point, all you’re doing is feeding the illusion that there is or ever has been open, honest discussion of COVID, lockdowns, masks, vaccines, election fraud, and the constellation of related issues such as ANTIFA and BLM and the various acts of terrorism committed against non-Normies. Normie ain’t interested, and won’t be convinced. If he was willing to set aside panic and fear, pay attention and look at things even remotely objectively, he wouldn’t be spouting this nonsense in the first place. So, it may feel better to us to engage, but it is not helping things at all.

This is no longer a debate. This – 2021 America – is, as Clarissa pointed out, a hostage situation. One side can talk, if they want. The other side can and will destroy the heretics and non-believers, as soon as it can. They have already begun. Sprouting heresy to the faces of their mindless minions is therefore unwise.

Normie, to be clear, is just the guy who has swallowed the stories whole – not an enemy essentially, like a college professor of ‘journalist’, but completely taken in, and committed to staying there. Normie believes what he hears on the news, and is frightened by the prospect of thinking for himself.

Enough of what we can’t do. What can we do? First, maintain basic human dignity. Among other things, this means acknowledging, supporting, and encouraging those who are not buying the lies. I think that the resistance – perfectly good word, we should commandeer it – is basically pretty good at this, since we are much more likely to have families, go to church, and in general hang out with the people around us, than pink-haired nose ring folks, whose entire approach seems to be first: alienate everyone who, by nature, should love you.

Basic decency should be a principle of civilized behavior, but in this current vale of tears, it is also a tactic. I’m going to make supportive interactions – friendliness, I think it was once called – a more conscious practice going forward. It is a great evil that people have been separated, masked, and taught to fear each other, first before all things, as disease vectors. It is easy to get discouraged and tempted to despair, so we need to show friendship and support.

Then, in my circle, are many people who are frustrated, pissed off, and scared. They or people they know have lost or are threatened with the loss of their jobs, are being kept out of restaurants and bars, are seeing mule-headed stupidity among family members and (former) friends. Tell them you understand, we are fighting the good fight, and that giving in is only a short-term salve – we are still the carbon they want to reduce. Fight on!

Invite someone over for dinner. Shake hands. Give a non-Brandon hug where appropriate. Smile. Act like a normal person, with a strong preference toward those others likewise resisting.

And then imagine how and where you will defend yourself, if it comes to that. But, in the meantime, be kind.

Strategy and Tactics?

Let’s round up a couple interesting points. This is all highly speculative on my part, I have little idea what to do. First off, from Clarissa’s blog a couple days ago:

I engage in exactly zero discussions with liberals / leftists / Biden voters / ‘democratic socialists’ / pandemicians / anti-racists or whatever they call themselves. I don’t try to reason with them, I don’t offer evidence, I don’t explain my position. I’m open to discuss shopping, recipes, weather, gossip, etc. But the moment they start on with vaccines, Trump, horse dewormers, insurrections, etc, I change the topic or use the bathroom. There can be no debate with people who hold the power to wipe you out of productive life on a whim. The very act of engaging in a discussion perpetuates the massive lie that there is free and open debate.

Recall that Clarissa grew up under the Soviet Union. Her point: we’re way, way past the point of talking this out. It’s like Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign: people were encouraged to criticize the regime, on the principle that even the regime could use some constructive criticism. All Mao really wanted was to identify those who needed culling – and culled they were.

It’s not that, by now – heck, by April of 2020 – I had written enough badthink on this blog alone to mark me for culling. I’d assume the majority of the people reading this are in the same boat, have said too much. That train has left the station. It’s that those in the grip of the insanity are not in the least interested in, or even capable of, being convinced. Clarissa continues:

I’m talking right now about normal everyday people who have been duped by propaganda. The actual stormtroopers at NYTimes – these are horrid people working for a horrid organization. Only days ago they knowingly perpetuated the lie about 900,000 pediatric COVID deaths. This is a despicable thing to do but it’s one in 25 even worse thing the paper did on that day.

OK then. Confronting Normie is a non-starter. Got it. What I and mine have been doing: as much as possible, simply don’t comply. It’s that ‘as much as possible’ part that killing me at the moment. It’s not my goal to get other little people in trouble, especially churches. One thing near the top of Our Evil Overlord’s agenda: crush churches out of existence, or, at least, drive them underground. People freely attend churches, hang out and talk with each other, spreading badthink. Can’t have that. So, while I don’t usually wear a mask in church (in direct defiance of the state health authorities) I have one on my person, in case the stoolies are on duty. Oops! Musta slipped off there!

But shopping for food? Well, the sad reality is that all I’m likely to do would be putting some low paid worker bee on the spot to tell me to mask up – how is that different from confronting Normie? Not saying I *like* this, but that I want to get out of this alive, not make grandstanding statements.

That said, I’ve now gone to In-n-Out twice since they stood up to the San Francisco Cat Fanciers. Both times, once near dinner time, but once in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, drive-through lines around the block and walk-in lines out the doors and into the parking lot. Two different outlets. In-n-Out was very popular before all this, but not that popular by half. Is this a positive development? How is this going to help, other than getting people to show up at Tiananmen Square, as it were, the better to mow them down?

Or is it the scariest thing to our betters? To see people not complying? Sadly, I kind of doubt it. First of all, there is no uniform group of people doing ‘this’ – however ‘this’ is defined. We may imagine a conspiracy involving thousands, but that’s unlikely. A conspiracy involving dozens or maybe even hundreds -sure. But the major victory here is sidestepping any need for rational (however evil) cooperation: the Faucis and Fergusons of the world don’t believe their own B.S., but they do believe what’s happening is beneficial to them, and, since they can’t imagine otherwise, beneficial to the world.* And it’s what their betters want.

Years of training in bureaucracy and deceit (but I repeat myself) have created legions of such creatures. These Front Row Kids have learned to get ahead by delivering what the people above them want, and have driven any interest in whether what they want is true or good – that never entered into the equation. They have learned to hold those poor, benighted back row kids in utter contempt, for, to even acknowledge the possibility that those not playing the game might have a point about anything has been rendered unimaginable, far too emotionally risky, an attack on their own fundamental sense of self. We *must* be wrong! They *must* be right!

So the cake chart looks like this:

  • On the bottom are those who will not comply. A thin layer.
  • The next layer up are those who comply under duress. A much thicker layer. (I straddle the these first two groups – I do put on a mask to shop, but won’t get the jab.)
  • Then comes those who comply out of reflexive obedience, who don’t really believe this stuff but find making a fuss about it too inconvenient.
  • Then the great mass of those who have been convinced, because they have been trained to view only authority as convincing.
  • Next, the useful idiots: BLM, Antifa. BLM imagined they were much higher up on the cake, flexed their anti-jab muscles, and promptly got memory-holed. If they prove too unmanageable, people know people who do things. Stuff will happen. But as long as they remained useful, they were darlings.
  • Then the Borderline Personality cases and sociopaths of varying degrees, who live to lord it over people. The voluntary enforcement police. Lots of medical professionals, nursing home staff, and ‘educators’ fall into this class – they fell into their professions because it gives them the power to abuse people. This ‘pandemic’ merely poured gasoline on their open flame.
  • Then the bureaucrats, climbers, suck ups. Truth? What is that? Fauci is legion.
  • Then those who imagine they are in charge. Gates, Zuckerberg. They’d get the pillow in a minute if they proved difficult. But the idea that they run the world is simply too intoxicating, and because they think themselves geniuses, they eagerly embrace it. Arrogance make you stupid, and they are very, very arrogant.
  • Then the tiny group who might, on some level, actually be in charge. They, I imagine, are nameless by design. They names we know are no more in charge than Brandon.

Now, there is not and cannot be any sort of consensus among such a mishmash. Even the top layers are at odds, fearing those above and despising those below, all wanting most of all to keep their positions or, better, to move up. If they do move up, they hate those at their previous level more than any others, if possible. Looking for clear goals and agreement in such an environment is a fools game. But I imagine there’s enough agreement among enough of the small group at the very top of this thing to keep the general direction clear.

Example: the top wants the ‘pandemic’ to continue. The level of bureaucrats, climbers, and suck-ups, including most especially the media, will execute this without question. There’s no memos needed -everybody in this layer knows this is the game, or they have already lost their jobs. Thus any good news is simply hunted down and buried, and any lies that promote the panic become banner headlines. (And, to drive sane people crazy, the ‘corrections’ are put at the bottom of page 23 in small print. They don’t care they’ve lied, they issue corrections as a way of rubbing their lies in our faces.)

And, finally, the Father of Lies is at the top. He will burn everything down, especially all the layers immediately beneath him, once he sees he is losing. And the layers immediately beneath him will enthusiastically comply! To their own destruction. And – here’s the problem – do everything in their power to take as many of us down with them as they can.

Strategy? Get the hell out of here. Away from the insanity, as much as possible. ‘Here’ being far too close to the bluest of blue cities in an insane state. Lay low, and ride it out. Homestead-lite. Dispose of the tech toys. (Except that Linux machine to write on, VPN, and? I guess I’m weak – should just go samizdat?) Provide a fall back for the kids, who aren’t as free to pick up and move – or don’t yet think they are.

Tactics? Working on it. Don’t engage Normie seems worth considering. I’ve long held far, far too optimistic a view on the reasonableness of the average American. This fauxdemic has been cold water to the face. And lay low.

*One of the more maddening bits in all this: Fauci’s claim that he lied about masks for everybody for our own good, saying at first that they weren’t needed and then saying they were mandatory. He establishes a principle: Fauci and his ilk will lie their asses off to us – for our own good. What they imagine to be our own good remains unknown and, on this principle, unknowable, because they would lie about that, too! For our own good! And yet – people defend him and comply. Sad.

Freaky Saturday Update: The Weather

Everyone is gone except for my mother-in-law, the cat, and me, the spouse and Caboose are out performing various duties and acts of mercy. Mother-in-law is ensconced in her recliner, the cat asleep on her lap. I’m running a old John Wayne movie marathon for her – True Grit just came up – over YouTube. Thus, I am free to ponder this period between storms.

Right now, it’s puffy clouds and a light breeze. Over the last couple days, it rained an inch here – don’t laugh, that’s a pretty good storm by NoCal standards. Approaching from the north east, due in this part of California starting around 7 this evening as it works its way down the coast from Oregon and Washington, is an ‘atmospheric river‘ storm, or a ‘pineapple express‘. We are told to expect 3 to 5 inches of rain overnight, across Sunday, and into Monday.

By Bay Area standards, that’s a LOT of rain. We usually have a season total rainfall through October of about an inch – this one storm is supposed to be several times that. Our ‘drought’ – a couple of below average rainfall years, such as we have had EVERY FEW YEARS THROUGHOUT THE RECORDED HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA was due to global warming climate change, our betters assure us. I’m sure this unusually large, but by no means unprecedented, storm ‘ending’ the ‘drought’ will also be caused by global warming climate change. There’s nothing that thing can’t do!

Weather.com’s dramatic illustration.

More seriously, because of decades of mismanagement, we have had a lot of wildfires over the last couple years. A whole bunch of rain all at once is going to cause mudslides. This could get ugly.

California gets about 75% of its rainfall over December, January, and February. If this storm comes through as advertised, we’ll have 1/3 of our seasonal average before the rainy season really gets going. Could be interesting.

And there’s always the possibility of an ARkstorm. We’re high enough up that flooding would not be an immediate problem. It’s just the utter destruction of California’s entire drinking water infrastructure and a good chunk of the power grid, while major parts of the highway system are under water, that could be – inconvenient.

Many other distracting thing are happening at the moment. Further details as events warrant.

Public Schooling Sucks: Some Thoughts on History

I’ve seen a couple of those viral videos of parents standing up to their local school boards and making a stink over the latest outrage – critical race theory, gender theory, the order not to watch what the school is teaching their kids, masks, vaccines, the whole load.

One wants to cheer them on, but, unfortunately, those brave, well-meaning parents just don’t get it. From Day 1, however you want to count Day 1, parents and families are the problem compulsory public schooling was invented to solve. By standing up and opposing the ‘educators’ on the school board, all these parents are doing is acting out the role those educators have already assigned them: the backward, ignorant, bigoted hicks from whom it is the school’s calling to ‘rescue’ their kids. Those educators are not trembling in fear, or trying to see how they can work with those parents. They are merely seeing confirmation of everything they already believe about those parents.

So, those educators might try to silence the parents, but, more probably, they’ll let them say whatever they want, then simply lie by omission and commission so that they can keep doing what they do. Go ahead and rant – behind the scenes, those ‘educators’ are working with their allies to simply criminalize your behaviors. Private schools? Home schooling? Those are merely trivial speed bumps, to be disposed of as the one room schools and classic liberal arts schools were disposed of, by the patient application of endless pressure until they conform or can be eliminated.

Boy, isn’t this picture all sorts of ironic and symbolic and all that!

Three moments: one, in which ‘the system’ formally collapses but the behaviors persist; one where the primacy of compliance over sanity is illustrated; and finally one where schooling stops but never ends.

  1. From Clarissa’s blog: the USSR has collapsed, but decades of training persist in both the bureaocrats and the students:

In 1996 I was a college student in Ukraine. One day, we were sitting in class, the professor was speaking, the students were taking notes. Suddenly, an irate secretary from the Dean’s Office burst in. Interrupting the professor in mid-sentence she screeched,

“Everybody, get up and go out. You will be sweeping the alley outside. Now! You, too!” pointing at the professor.

The professor, a youngish guy we thought was very cool because he had traveled the world and spoke an almost fluent English blushed and started stuffing papers into his bag. Everybody got up. Except me.

“What’s going to happen if we don’t?” I asked. “This isn’t the USSR any longer. You can’t make us.”

“Get up and go sweep now!” the secretary bellowed. “Do what you are told!”

“No,” I said. “I’m a student, not a street cleaner. I’m not going to sweep. What can you do to me?”

The secretary looked apoplectic. The other students started shooshing me down.

“It’s OK, we’ll go, we are going right now!” they piped up in mousy little voices.

“You will go because you want to volunteer,” the secretary said. “It’s the right thing to do. The alley needs sweeping. You will go now.”

College students! The professor! All trying to silence Clarissa and get her to comply with the demands of a toothless tiger. Their training is complete.

2. A 16 year old girl who refused to wear a mask was handcuffed and taken out of school by police. Note: the police aren’t masked up; the students take off their masks to eat lunch. The issues is not some farcical sense of safety, but rather that a *student* dared to defy *school officials*. This young woman and her family and lawyer had decided not to put up with the bullying, and the school officials did the only thing they could do: call the cops and have a child handcuffed and hauled away. The option would have been to ignore her – and that would show weakness in front of the kids and their parents.

3. Finally, a personal story: two retired public school teachers ran an annual trip to Mexico so that high school age students could help build houses for the poor. There were usually as nearly as many adults as kids. Many of the adults made the trip year after year, even when they no longer had any kids involved. For 5 or 6 years, when our kids were the right ages, I went along.

The two teachers simply expected to lay down rules and for people to obey them – kids, parents, didn’t matter. Teacher says it, it’s rule, you do it. As you might imagine, almost everyone, kids and adults alike, went along with this without a peep. Except one year, the teachers decided that stopping in Tijuana on our way out for lunch and a little sightseeing was too dangerous, and so was not to be done. Well, one older gentleman, a guy who had run businesses and been mayor of his little town out in the sticks, who had gone on and helped organize the trip for many years, who, not surprisingly, was one of the most capable builders, he wasn’t buying it. Since my kids were catching a ride back with him, and he wanted to stop in Tijuana, he asked ME if I minded, AND asked my kids if they minded, and I of course said I don’t mind, do what you want. I can’t imagine a more competent guy for my kids to hang out with, I trust my kids, and the ‘risks’ of Tijuana were overblown, to say the least.

Well, when this got back to the teachers, I had to deal with a weeping woman asking my how I could have been complicit in such an outrage. She had told people what the rules were! The very idea that one adult simply does not have to do what another adult tells them to do was simply inconceivable to her – she was in charge! She was the teacher.

Note that nobody had any issues with any of the rules about safety while we were encamped in Mexico. We get it. We’re a bunch of kids and adults in a foreign country, so we want to behave well and be safe. But for years, a fun part of the trip was a stop in Tijuana on our way out to grab a bite and maybe buy some trinkets for folks back home. But this year, without any discussion, it was simply decided that it was now ‘unsafe’ to do what we’d done every year before. So it wasn’t a matter of the situation being any different – it was a matter of unsupported feelings that things weren’t as safe as they used to be. So, being a teacher, she just changed the rules. The very idea that other adults might want to have a say and would not instantly go along with whatever she decided brought her to tears.

Teachers are the first victims of schooling. They must be brought to heel, or filtered out.

Getting way long here. Wanted to start a discussion on the beginnings of all this, the mindsets of the people involved. Will limit it to two very early examples, and add more later as time permits. I think both these examples were in the minds of the later champions of state control of education – Fichte, Barnard, Mann, von Humboldt, Harris, certainly Dewey.

Sparta: At least the Spartans made no bones about their intentions: the family had to go so that the ‘free’ men could best defend and serve the state. Spartan children, if they passed inspection, were allowed to be raised by their mothers until age 7, at which point the state took over. Mothers and fathers did not live together, but were more or less temporary breeding couples to produce more Spartans.

Spartan boys were assigned a cohort at age 7, trained to be soldiers until age 18, typically spent a year or two spying on and terrorizing the Helots. They then became full soldiers at 20. At 60, they got to retire. Women were basically breeders, who trained the girls to grow up into the next batch of breeders.

A boy’s whole loyalty and sense of belonging was to his military band. Training was in loyalty and conformity. A boy had essentially no opportunity to develop any independent personality – and that’s the way Sparta liked it.

Despite that whole 300 mythology, the first duty of a Spartan was not war – it was to keep to Helots down. Sparta had conquered and enslaved the surrounding territories. Since you need a minimum of 8 or 9 people producing food for each Spartan soldier and mother not producing food, your slaves are going to outnumber your Spartan citizens something like 10 to 1. The fully-trained young men were sent among the Helots to make sure they knew who was in charge. This reign of terror over their slaves is what enabled the Spartans to sustain the standing army, famous for its bravery and discipline.

I find it difficult to accept how admired Sparta was by many in ancient world, and many people throughout the subsequent ages – but there it is. Sparta remained intact for centuries, but at what cost? Outside their reputation for military prowess and unbending discipline, they left nothing of much worth. Is that enough?

We live in a Sparta-haunted world. The image of Lycurgus reforming Sparta by top-down fiat seems to be a dream of our betters (if a nightmare for us little people!) By, effectively, removing the family from its natural position as the building block of society, modern would-be Lycurguses believe they, in their wisdom, could bring about a utopia of some sort – for our own good, of course.

Martin Luther’s Germany: Not passing judgement on Luther’s theology here aside from his stand on schooling and his relationship with the state in general. I discussed here Luther’s very un-Pauline habit of addressing his epistles largely to secular powers, who he never fails to attempt to recruit for his purposes, explaining what their new freedom requires of them.

Viewed from a strictly practical perspective, to make the Reformation stick, Luther had to overcome opposition from two main camps: first, from those German Catholics not buying his teachings, and second and more serious, from those who accepted his teachings too literally. The first group simply rejected the very idea of the five Solas; the second accepted them too much, so that they thought they, themselves, were as fit as Luther to interpret Scripture as they, themselves, were moved by the Spirit.

That sort of individual freedom of conscience, which later came to be associated with Luther somehow, was not at all what he meant: everyone was free to interpret Scripture the same exact way Luther did. To Luther, his was the only reading that was possible in accord with the primitive Church and under the guidance of the Spirit. If you thought Scripture meant something else, you were wrong. Contradict Luther much, and you were dead – at least, if Luther got his way.

Catholics were, for the most part, merely benighted. They could be and often were converted to believe as Luther did, and a good bit of Luther’s writing and preaching was directed toward that end. Other Protestants who accepted the principles that Scripture could be read and understood by any man under the guidance of the Spirit and acted upon those principles, yet failed to agree with Luther, were a more existential threat. From the very first, Catholics had been pointing out that, without Tradition and the authority of the Church, Scripture can be read in an almost infinite variety of contradictory ways. The existence of Sola-professing Protestants who did not agree with Luther on every point was a problem – for Luther.

From the beginning, Luther saw the hand of God in the support he received from German princes. For their part, German princes had chaffed under the meddling and arrogance of the distant, non-German Pope since at least the 10th century. Throwing off the spiritual yoke of Rome also meant getting out from under the political yoke.

Practically, any church independent of the state and making any spiritual claims at all upon the princes of that state is going to run afoul of those princes sooner rather than later, realpolitik being a thing. The solution since the beginning of history: states control religion. While they have been a spectacular failure through most of history, the Catholic Church’s attempts to stay free of state control is still one of the biggest outliers in history. The Great Schism – speaking simply historically here – lead to the creation of state-controlled Orthodox churches: Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, etc., all of which were firmly under the control of the local king or emperor, at least to the extent that the local patriarch was not likely to attempt to use his spiritual authority to dispose them- something Popes were known to try.

Luther ignored all this, and sided with the German princes, who happily supported him back.* Luther saw the support of the state as the hand of God, and so wrote to the princes and civic leaders under them to exhort them to continue to do God’s work.

Luther soon concluded that God’s work included compulsory state run schooling. He wanted every child to learn to read so that they could study Scripture; he wanted every child to learn to read in a state-controlled school so that they would reach the same conclusions from Scripture that Luther reached. The ‘risks’ of letting everyone read Scripture themselves and reach their own (Spirit-guided) conclusions were almost instantly apparent, once the Reformation got going.

Except for the few destined to be scholars, Luther and Melanchthon, who drafted up the original compulsory public school plan used by Luther, had little use for any schooling beyond the basics. Kids should learn to read, learn a little Latin, and then get on with making a living – all under the management and compulsion of the state. Clearly – and Luther talks about this – if you left such instruction to the discretion of parents, they would do it wrong!

When Fichte modernized Melanchthon’s and Luther’s plan 300 years later, he did away with anything recognizably Lutheran, and simply put the realization of the destiny of the state as the sole goal. To him, the distinction between the spiritual goals of individuals and the spiritual destiny of the (German) state was a misunderstanding, a lack of enlightenment. The value of the individual was the value that individual had to the state; the fulfillment of the state’s destiny was the personal fulfillment of the individual, insofar as personal fulfillment had any meaning.

And, of course, something this important could not be left up to parents. In fact, Fichte agrees with Luther that, left to parents, all the higher goals of education would get frustrated. Parents are the problem schooling is designed to solve. Fichte wanted to simply remove children from all family contact until their state schooling was complete. But more on that later.

* Today, the Lutheran and Catholic churches in Germany are tax-supported – the German Catholic hierarchy is the most likely to act independently from Rome on matters of morals and dogma. The German state has neutered religion – Catholic and Lutheran – in the public sphere, and has a choke collar on it financially.