Thursday, April 30, 2020

I Am Not A Cop, Judge Or Lawyer....

...but something seems very wrong here.

If you look like any of these guys, you should be arrested as a precaution and never let out.

This pack of freaks and degenerates all have lengthy criminal convictions, ranging from lewd behavior all the way to sexual assault and battery and of course child molestation.

Sex offenders, especially those with crimes against children, have some of the highest recidivism rates of any criminal class. In other words, sex criminals are likely to get out of prison and go right back to committing sex crimes. I guess once you get a taste for it, you can't stop.

So why would you let dangerous people with a propensity to commit more awful crimes back on the streets? Someone with a low level drug offense is one thing but these guys are dangerous and violent.

When we rebuild society, we really need to re-institute the practice of public hanging for murders, sex offenders like these weirdos and anybody else that is a career criminal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Surprisingly Subversive Hunger Games

“President Snow once admitted to me that the Capitol was fragile. At the time, I didn’t know what he meant. It was hard to see clearly because I was so afraid. Now I’m not. The Capitol’s fragile because it depends on the districts for everything. Food, energy, even the Peacekeepers that police us. If we declare our freedom, the Capitol collapses. President Snow, thanks to you, I’m officially declaring mine today.”

Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) . Scholastic Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Amazon Unlimited is a cool idea that stumbles in the execution. For a small fee you can borrow up to ten Kindle titles at a time. Sounds great until you look at the selections. Lots of terrible self-published books, lots of sappy fiction written by and for women with a solid selection of books with pictures of men without shirts, with six pack abs wearing cowboy hats. They should provide a box of wine with those books. A weird number of dissident right books including a bunch from Julius Evola. Generally speaking though, not a great selection. Amazon keeps offering me a free trial for three months at a time, so I take the free trial and cancel before the trial expires and then about a month later they offer me another free trial. So I am in the middle of my latest free trial and was looking for some light reading. I just reread The Hobbit for fun but I also reread the Hunger Games trilogy.

The Hunger Games books are not what anyone would consider great literature, even by Young Adult standards. They are nice for light reading and are lightyears better than the movie adaptations. Jennifer Lawrence as the central character Katniss Everdeen might be one of the worst casting decisions ever made. Sure she is a popular actress and is nice to look at but Katniss is supposed to be a smallish teen girl who has never had enough to eat. She should be slight and relatively short. She can't take on the other "tributes" in raw strength but her skill with a bow gives her an edge. People who grow up on the brink of starvation don't turn into tall, voluptuous women. Lawrence was 22 when the first movie was filmed, she is 5' 9" tall and pretty curvy. I am a big fan of appropriately curvy women but not when they are supposed to be barely getting enough food to eat. Anyway.

The basic gist of the story is that around 75 years before the time frame the books take place in, the North American continent was divided into 13 "districts" and a Capitol that controlled them. At some point the districts grew tired of the oppression and rose up against the Capitol and a civil war ensued. The rebellious people lost to the forces of the Capitol and were forced to agree to a peace treaty that required each district to send one teen boy and one teen girl annually to "The Hunger Games" where they are forced to fight one another to the death. Along with the brutal requirement to sacrifice two of their children, the books describe in detail the way the residents of the districts are forced to barely survive, laboring in unsafe conditions and under the often brutal supervision of the "Peacekeepers", Capitol troops who kept the districts in line. The book describes a terrible mine accident where Katniss Everdeen's father dies, leaving their family with no means of support. Public whippings and executions were common. One Peacekeeper is described as trading food for sex with young women. There is no direct communication between the districts. The people labor endlessly hoping to have enough food and that their children are not chosen for the Hunger Games.

Meanwhile in the Capitol, the elite citizens of "Panem", the name given the reformed nation in North America, live in luxury, spending their days finding new ways to amuse themselves, gorging themselves on food raised in the districts only to take a liquid that causes them to puke so they can eat more. The people in the Capitol look forward to the Hunger Games and choose favorites from the children chosen, oblivious to the fact that they are sending these kids to fight to the death until only one remains. They don't produce or create anything, they live comfortably from the labor of the people of the districts who barely have enough to eat.

Sounding familiar yet?

The message is pretty subversive. A parasitical ruling class in the Capitol that finds the rest of the country revolting and a little scary but at the same time lives off of the labor of the dirty people out in the districts. Substitute "fly-over country" for "the districts" and you start to see the picture.

The power of America's Imperial City is enormous but in terms of actual value, they add nothing to the nation. Mostly the people who work in our capitol are simply siphoning off value from the work of people out in the rest of the country. They make nothing but rules, they produce nothing but paperwork. They eat the food we raise, they power their offices and expensive homes with the electricity we generate. While they are utterly dependent on us and would die without our labor, we would be far better off if places like D.C. and New York slipped quietly into the sea. In spite of the lopsided relationship, they arrogantly think of themselves as our betters and believe themselves to be the very best America has to offer.

It isn't simply that our elites don't understand us, they really hate us and are growing ever more frightened of us. They are baffled that we don't vote the way they want us to and that we don't share their values. Most of the time they act like the hinterlands are wastelands full of roving bands of armed militia looking for some liberals, colored folk or gays to lynch. They can't seem to figure out why we won't be content to send them our tax dollars and provide them with our children to die and get maimed in the wars they start. In The Hunger Games world, the citizens of the Capitol think it is an honor to compete in the Hunger Games while in most of the districts it is horrifying nightmare to watch your own kid or a child that grew up with your kids being butchered for the entertainment of the Capitol, children being punished for a transgression from 75 years earlier. In our capitol, our elites think we should be grateful when we are forced to come, hat in hand, to ask if we can have some of our own money back to spend on our own schools and highways. People in D.C. seem to love nothing more than having peasants from the sticks to sneer at and look down upon.

It is doubtful that Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, was intending to write such an anti-elite book. Many reviewers seem to think it is speaking of "fascism", a concept they don't understand, when the real threat in America is a technocrat elite headed by billionaire oligarchs who operate above and over the "government". If America ends up in a dystopian future resembling the world of The Hunger Games, it won't be because of the rise of a Hitlerian despot but rather the result of the Swamp finally having had enough of the uppity peasants and waging war to teach us some manners. They better think twice and remember that while the Capitol won the civil war in The Hunger Games, they call it fiction for a reason.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mass Shooting Alert! Old Mildoggie Edition

Milwaukee has their second mass shooting in 2020.

Milwaukee police find 5 dead in house; suspect in custody

Police found five people shot to death Monday inside a Milwaukee home and arrested the man who dialed 911 to report the slayings, the city's police chief said.

The police department received a call around 10:30 a.m. from a man who said his family was dead, Chief Alfonso Morales said during a brief news conference. When officers arrived at the house on the city's north side they found five victims ranging in age from 14 to 41, the chief said.

The identity of the shooter is being reported as Christopher Stokes. Mr. Stokes apparently has a lengthy police record, including at least two convictions that would prevent him from owning a firearm and yet he somehow managed to obtain a firearm to murder what appears to be his own family. Mr. Stokes is black man and thanks to his lengthy criminal history littered with domestic abuse, he has two mugshots available online:

He looks nice.

You will recall that angry black man Anthony Ferrill killed five co-workers earlier in 2020 at a Molson Coors brewery so Milwaukee is 2 for 2 on black men committing mass shootings this year. It appears all five victims were also black. 

As you would expect after a tragic event, people pulled together to support one another:

The few hundred residents who crowded the crime scene were described as 'volatile.' 

Distressed relatives cried while others comforted them, fights broke out, verbal arguments were had and paramedics treated a shocked family member.

Well sure, that is what any normal people would do at the scene of a tragedy, start arguing with each other and getting into "fights" (plural). What the actual eff is wrong with people?

In an odd twist, a number of stories about a black man killing five black people in 2020 mention a white guy killing people in 2012. Three stories I read included this blurb verbatim:

White supremacist Wade Michael Page killed seven people at a Sikh temple in suburban Oak Creek before a police officer killed him in a firefight in 2012.

Why would you bring up an event from 8 years ago? I guess when a "white supremacist" kills non-white people, that remains relevant to completely unrelated shootings by a black guy 8 years later. If I didn't know better, I might suspect it was brought up to deflect attention from another black guy committing a mass shooting and reinforce the false narrative that white men commit the majority of mass shootings. Fortunately I am very enlightened and believe everything the media reports, except for that awful Fox News of course.

The Youtube Stasi Say You Are Not Permitted To Watch This

A video made the rounds on Youtube and got a ton of views, featuring two doctors discussing the Chinese coronavirus and offering a dissenting view of the Covid-19 pandemic and our response to it. This is America and therefore dissenting views are not permitted, not even when the people dissenting are apparently medical doctors (unlike the obese gender fluid freaks who censor videos for Youtube). So Youtube nuked the video and made it as if it never existed. It is easy to claim unanimity for your position when dissenting views are stifled. Fortunately people had already downloaded the video and reposted it on an actual free speech platform like Bitchute. So I downloaded it from there and reposted it on Youtube. I already have one community strike so I am risking a second strike and a 30 day suspension by doing this but I thought it was important enough to take the chance.

My video may or may not still be up, if you see the "video deleted" screen instead of a guy in blue scrubs, you will know what happened. If it gets deleted from Youtube, you can still watch it on Ramzpaul's channel on Bitchute here.

Full disclosure: I haven't even watched the video yet, although I plan to. What prompted me to download the video from it's mirror on Bitchute and then upload it again is simple:

If Youtube thinks you shouldn't be allowed to watch this video and consider the information it contains, then you definitely should watch this video and consider the information it contains.

This gets back to something I wrote yesterday:

The topics you are absolutely not allowed to question are exactly the topics you must question. The truth doesn't fear examination.

Watch the video for yourself. Consider what they have to say. Reject it all or in part, accept it all or in part but make an informed decision. Whatever you do, don't blindly accept what the elites tell you to believe.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Language Of Denialism

Living as we do in a world of hordes of self-appointed "subject matter experts", positions on controversial issues take on the air of religious dogma. The most obvious place we see this is the risible topic of "climate change". Everyone agrees that the climate is changing, that the change is bad, that the change is man-made and that the only solution is to institute communism.

Agreeing to 95% of what they are saying isn't good enough and makes you a "denier". Deny any of it, you deny all of it. Climate change fundamentalists are far worse than the stereotypical fundamentalist Christians. If you so much as question the severity or the solutions proposed? You get labelled a "denier" and have an autistic teen-aged girl shriek at you.

Again, you don't have to flat out deny that the climate is changing, whatever that means since the climate is always changing. Any deviation from the ever shifting Absolute Truth As Of Today on the topic gets you labeled a "climate change denier" and that is almost as bad as being a "racist". The end result is we don't actually discuss the issue. If you can't so much as ask a question, why bother? The climate change cult keeps screaming that we are all going to die and the rest of us ignore their warnings.

There are other topics we aren't allowed to question, including a big one I won't even mention. The common feature is that for all of them, the "experts" devotion to their narrative borders of religious fanaticism and if there is anything a religious fanatic can't stand, it is having some peasant suggesting they might be slightly mistaken. The narrative is foundational to their own sense of being. If climate change isn't real or is even mostly exaggerated, it leaves them with no reason for being, no identity other than just another schmuck. It also means that they might have to find gainful employment and that frightens them more than melting icecaps.

The language of denialism has long been a mainstay on the Cultural Marxist Left as a way of deflecting legitimate questions of their sacred dogma. It is a neat trick, instead of contesting the facts you contest the character of the person asking the question. What we have seen in 2020 is this tactic bleeding over into people on this side of the great divide when it comes to the Chinese coronavirus epidemic.

It started off with people on the dissident right shilling for China and praising their response to the virus that they either created or covered up as way to own the Boomers and jab at Orange Man Bad. Others have joined the fray as the dire predictions of massive deaths has unraveled.

Early predictions claimed enormous numbers of deaths, in the millions, if we didn't lock the country down. We had to "flatten the curve" and that meant basically quarantining healthy people. Except we could go to Wal-Mart, but not church or Easter dinner. A couple of months into this fiasco and here is what we don't know.

- We don't have any idea how many people have the coronavirus or had the coronavirus and got better while never even realizing it. Not a clue.

- Because we don't have even a general idea of how many people have/had the Wuhan flu, we don't know how lethal it is compared to other viruses. It certainly seems to be less and less lethal as it comes to light how many people show signs of having picked up  the virus and remaining asymptomatic. If you are reading this, there is a very good chance that you had it and never knew it.

- We are pretty confident when it comes to how many people are listed as dying of coronavirus. What is far less clear is how many people listed died specifically because of the Kung Fu Flu. As many others have pointed out, dying with coronavirus is not the same thing as dying of coronavirus.

- A related note: how many people have died with coronavirus reported as the cause of death but really died of something else? In my state of Indiana, it was quietly reported last week that the state would start to count "presumptive positive" deaths in the official tally of coronavirus deaths. In other words, people that died who never tested positive for coronavirus were still being counted. How can we have accurate numbers like that, especially as there is a lot of chatter about hospitals having a financial incentive to report deaths as Chinese virus deaths?

- On another related note, how many people listed as dying of coronavirus were going to die in this time period anyway? How many people were likely to die anyway? An obese 75 year old with heart problems and diabetes is on death's door, are people like that dying from chronic illnesses and just happened to also have the Wuhan flu that pushed them over the edge a little faster?

We simply don't know and anyone saying they do know is lying.

Herschel at The Captain's Journal has a good series on this and his latest captures the problem well, Concerning Covid-19: All Of Your Models Are Wrong, Part VI:

The second point pertains to number of deaths (especially when compared to number of deaths from flu or any other pathogen).  In order for that ratio to mean anything, you must know the numerator and denominator.  The denominator is number of people who have been exposed.  We know that it’s a lot (millions), but the value is not reliably accurate.

The numerator is a complete joke.  Doctors never logged number of patients who died with flu, or strep, or any other pathogen, if in fact it wasn’t the direct cause of death.  Comparison of these ratios for Coronavirus and any other pathogen, you must formulate very strict definitions and boundary conditions for your study.  Those very strict boundary conditions do not obtain.

Bottom line: we don't know very much about Covid-19.

That is OK. Disease is a weird thing. Diseases crop up, they mutate, they can be devilishly tricky to treat. If it were easy to deal with disease, we wouldn't restrict medical school to the smartest students or at least the students who check off the right boxes on diversity surveys. A lot of people, including people we assumed were the best qualified to address the virus at the CDC and WHO, were wrong from the get-go and seem to be wrong still. Again, people are wrong all the time.

When you take a stand on an issue and then later it turns out you were wrong, you can go one of two ways. You can admit you were wrong and move on with your life or you can get angry at people for noticing that you were wrong and hysterically denounce them for noticing. There are plenty of things I took a stand on that I later realized were mistakes. A big one is supporting the invasion of Iraq. At the time I was still angry about 9/11 based on the official explanation of what happened. I believed that Saddam was in the process of producing WMDs and that without intervention one would be provided to Al Qaeda and used on American soil, and soon. I thought the Iraqi people really would welcome us as liberators. t turned out that none of that was true, there were no WMDs and 9/11 was a lucky coincidence, that may or may not have been orchestrated by powers more sinister than Osama bin Laden. Iraq became an enormous quagmire and the Iraqi people have suffered for two decades. The instability resulting from toppling Saddam reverberated throughout the region and things there are a bloody mess. In short, I was wrong and I admit it.

Many of the Covid-19 cult are choosing the latter option and getting angry that other people are not buying what they are selling.

To state again, you can (and I do) recognize that the Chinese coronavirus is a very serious illness and that common sense and significant precautions can and should be taken, especially by those most vulnerable to the disease (the elderly, people with pre-existing chronic medical problems, etc.). What I question are the extreme measures that were taken to reduce the spread of this disease and whether the long term ramifications for the world will in the end prove worse than the disease itself. We all know the facts and these, unlike the number of Covid cases and deaths, are not really in dispute. In excess of 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in six weeks, perhaps leading to Depression-era level of unemployment. The economy has dramatically slowed down and we are only at the early stages of the waves of layoffs, even if we start to re-open the economy soon. The food supply is a mess. Oil is completely out of whack. While giant globalist companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart are doing great, many small local businesses won't reopen. The disaster to the economy and our cultural fabric are very likely permanent. Apparently that doesn't matter, all that matters is the actual disease itself.

The common refrain is "How many people are you willing to kill to boost your 401k?" or some other similarly juvenile rhetorical trick. Most of the people saying this on social media likely have never had a job that offered a 401k and don't have families to provide for. Most decisions in our society are trade-offs of some sort. For example...

If you reduced the speed limit nationally to 5 mph, you could essentially eliminate traffic deaths. We have had 177,000 people die in car accidents in the U.S. in the last five years, a number that dwarfs the number of alleged Covid-19 deaths. Just make everyone drive 5 mph and we save over 35,000 lives every single year! I'm a genius!

Of course that would also mean that most of us couldn't get to work in a reasonable amount of time. Truckers couldn't deliver material without spending days driving from Indiana to Georgia. Raw material would take ten times as long to be delivered so production would come to a halt. Food couldn't get from the warehouse to the store. Get my point? There is a reason people like to pretend they envy the Amish but don't convert.

But we can't trade a life for the economy, right?

Only a moron would make that claim in this circumstance. No one wants to reduce the speed limit to 5 mph even though it is unquestionable that doing so would save a bunch of lives. The same is true in the case of the Chinese virus. We have quarantined hundreds of millions of people, the vast majority of them basically healthy. We have crashed the economy on purpose and tacked on trillions in new debt in a couple of months and the appetite for more and more spending is limitless right now. We have turned over the economic and business system to medical professionals who know a lot about medicine but not a damn thing about how the economy works and believe me, the medical community is far from unanimous on the issue of Covid-19, grandstanding nurses on social media notwithstanding.

The first lesson here is to avoid staking your reputation on an issue that has a great deal of variability and uncertainty.

The second lesson is to learn to admit when you are wrong with some grace and humor. Nobody likes a know-it-all asshole who can't admit when they make a mistake.

The third and perhaps most important lesson is one of the fundamental things I believe: the topics you are absolutely not allowed to question are exactly the topics you must question. The truth doesn't fear examination.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Fragile Food Supply

Something that was common for all of human history until recently, and is still common in much of the world, is scarcity. Most humans for most of human history lived hand to mouth, a subsistence existence that could be wiped out in the blink of an eye by a famine, natural disaster, war or injury. The idea of having giant stores full of food for the taking wasn't something they could even dream about. Even as recently as my early childhood, it was common for stores to not have fruits and vegetables out of season. Today you can get "fresh" fruits and vegetables year round. Strawberries, mangoes, sweet corn. The seasonal nature of food is mostly lost on us.

Pretty much anything you want you could, up until recently, get almost immediately. Need some ammunition for your .22? Delivered to your door, cheap and fast. Dog treats? Two day free shipping. Almost any food you can imagine could be purchased inexpensively from one of half a dozen grocery stores within a short drive. Socks, diapers, toilet paper. All you could want from the comfort of your chair or perhaps even while sitting on the can.

Therein lies the problem. People who want for nothing find little value in anything. We buy crap, use it once or twice, and then pitch it. We just buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. For example, my mom did a ton of laundry when I was growing up and as far as I can remember she always had the same laundry baskets. Today when you get a laundry basket, you are lucky if it lasts for a few months without breaking. So we go to the store over and over to buy the same cheap crap and congratulate ourselves on getting it so cheap, never realizing the true cost of buying disposable crap.

Preach it George:

Suddenly in early spring of 2020, people are starting to learn about scarcity.

They have a lot more to learn.

There have been a slew of articles talking about the shocks to the American consumer supply chain. Toilet paper is the obvious one and for people like me the ammo scarcity is becoming of greater concern by the day. The recent precipitous drop in oil price is another as plummeting demand coupled with increased production and a lack of storage space had oil futures trading for a negative price recently. For most consumers, gas at the pump just appears by magic but the path of getting oil from the ground, then to a refinery and then finally to their gas station is a long and complicated one. Most of the products we consume are similar. Christmas toys for the next holiday season are ordered and produced well ahead of the shopping season so they can be in place for holiday sets in retailers on time. But there is one segment of the economy that will impact every American: the food supply.

What many people don't understand is how complicated the process is to get food to the grocery store and how much that process relies on consistency and predictability. Just about everyone has experienced the run on stores when bad weather is predicted. Those shortages are usually just bread and milk and only last a few days but the repercussions of the Chinese virus are going to last for much longer. For the "just in time" food supply to function, everything up and down the supply chain has to be working in tandem. When one part of the chain falters, it screws up the whole thing.

Let's look at the meat segment of the grocery market. In normal times, you go to the store at pretty much any time of the day and there is ample beef, pork and chicken. Last night we went to Sam's Club and one of the Meijer stores in Fort Wayne and in both the fresh meat bunkers were pretty bare and especially chicken. You could get chicken drumsticks but no chicken breasts. This has been the case for a long time now. Beef was purchase restricted at Sam's, I didn't see a sign at Meijer. So what is going on?

The disruption is occurring at the slaughter stage. There are stories all over the media about processing plants shutting down:

Beef processors are closing U.S. plants, warn of beef shortages and hoarding

Farms in Maryland, Delaware to Destroy 2 Million Chickens Due to Staffing Shortages

What led to Alberta's biggest outbreak? Cargill meat plant's hundreds of COVID-19 cases

Meat industry warns of possible shortages as more processing plants close: 'Perilously close to the edge'


Tyson Foods idles largest pork plant as virus slams industry

This isn't tinfoil hat panic talk, this is mainstream media outlets and industry publications reporting on processing plants being closed. I know a number of Amish guys who raise cattle and they are very worried as the prices they are being offered for cattle is dropping like a stone and even cattle contracts for sale are being canceled.

Those unfamiliar with the meat industry might be a little confused. So what if some processing plants closed?

When you can't move your fat cattle that are ready to butcher, a lot of things happen. You obviously have to keep feeding these massive cattle and they eat a lot seeing as they are over 1000 pounds of beef on the hoof. They are also crammed together for longer periods of time and that breeds disease so they need more medications to keep them from dying off. Further down the food chain, producers are also experiencing a backlog. How this works is typically something like this:

- A farmer gets day old baby calves that are penned up in barns and bottle fed a milk replacer. He keeps doing this for a number of weeks until they are ready to be weaned off of milk replacer and begin a diet of grain. Imagine a barn with 300 baby calves all upset at not getting their bottles bellowing non-stop for a day. We can always tell when our neighbor weans calves.

- These baby calves are now moved to a different barn where they get fed a straight grain diet to maximize weight gain. Sometimes they get moved again but eventually when they are 500-700 lbs or so, they get shipped out to a different farm where they are finished to slaughter weight. Many of the finishing feedlots are out west in places like Greeley, Colorado, a dumpy town with a bunch of cattle feedlots like this one on the outskirts of town.....

You can't see it well but all of the brown rectangles are giant pens full of cattle. The whole area has a lovely odor of cow manure omnipresent. Even as big as these feedlots are, they are finite in size and you can only truck in so much feed and truck out so much manure.

Cattle are full of meat but it isn't all the same. From the same animal you get the high end cuts of steak and roasts and you also get stew meat and ribs and hamburger.

Normally the different parts of cattle have their own destinations. Hamburger tends to go to fast food places as well as retail sales. Fast food places are still open, at least through the drive-through. On the other hand, a lot of the choice cuts of beef go to sit down restaurants and they are obviously not buying much as places like Outback Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse are essentially closed. That means the demand side of the equation at the processed beef end is screwed up and at the same time the plants that process these fat cattle are closed or running with short staff.

What this means is that big cattle are piling up in feedlots. In turn that means these feedlots don't have capacity to bring smaller cattle in to feed out so now these mid-sized cattle farms can't get rid of their cattle. That leads to people raising bottle babies with nowhere to send their weaned calves, so they are stuck feeding them grain until they get trucked out but that then means that they don't have room to start new bottle babies. Cows are still having calves all the time but now there is a vastly reduced market for these baby calves so I am assuming a lot of them are simply being euthanized. A euthanized calf obviously never grows into a full size beef steer. That is going to lead to shortages in the mid-term as the supply of young cattle shrinks. Cattle take a relatively long time to reach mature weight, compared to hogs and chickens. You can't just flip a switch and make more cattle ready to butcher.

On the other end, there is starting to be some talk of euthanizing fully grown cattle. At $1 per pound, just to use a round number, you are talking close to $1000 animal getting a bullet in the head because the feedlot can't afford to feed them indefinitely and no one is in the market to purchase them. That means enormous losses for the feedlots who put out a bunch of money are few months ago to buy these cattle at 650 pounds and then dumped a ton of food and medicine into them.

Feedlots will go out of business, causing a logjam on the back end. Producers won't have fresh waves of baby calves to replace the cattle moving up the supply chain, leaving a gap on the front end. Our food system has moved away from small local farms raising animals that are slaughtered and processed locally to supply local stores into a globalized system where animals are raised in an industrial fashion to supply stores with just enough meat to supply their needs each day. What this means for the average consumer is that meat is going to become scarce and it is going to get expensive.

This also will impact grain prices as most of the grain you see in fields around America goes into livestock. A disruption to that industry will ripple throughout the agriculture industry as a whole.

What happens when people can't get enough of the food they want? If you think they will just calmly accept the new normal, you haven't been paying attention to what is going on in America with our new "Americans". People are going to get frustrated and angry, and people like that tend to do things like riot and steal.

We have removed the food supply chain from our daily lives. The meat in my freezers is mostly beef and pork that we raised on our own little farm. I have two steers that I could butcher right now if meat were scarce. If things get really bad we could shoot a deer or turkey. The vast majority of Americans don't have that option. They live in concrete urban prisons and sterile suburbs where you can't even have a couple of chickens without raising the ire of the homeowners association. These people are at the mercy of the fragile American food supply and there are warning signs that the system is in trouble.

We might look back at the less than 50,000 people currently listed as dying from coronavirus, a pretty dubious number in the first place, and think things weren't so bad compared to widespread food shortages, Depression-era level of poverty and violent civil unrest.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Fleeting Freedom

No sooner did California's onerous and unconstitutional requirement for a background check to purchase ammo get overturned and open the floodgates for Californians to purchase ammo online, than the oleaginous and generally far left 9th circuit court issued an "emergency stay" to block the order, putting the restrictions back in place.

The judges who signed the order are Mary Murguia, the child of Mexican immigrants and an Obama appointee, and Mark Bennett, a Trump appointee who was confirmed 72-27 but in an unusual situation all 27 votes against him came from Republican Senators who were concerned about his limited understanding of the 2nd Amendment. Turns out their concerns were justified. Trump is generally pretty good when it comes to his court picks but picks like Bennett show that he still makes some serious errors in his nominees.

Back to getting background checks which very often come back with false denials for Commiefornia. If you choose to live there, I really don't understand why you hate yourself so much.

Mass Shooting Alert! Four In The Fort

Nearby Fort Wayne gets into the mass shooting game...

Four people injured in southeast Fort Wayne shooting

Fort Wayne Police are investigating a shooting that left 4 people injured on the city’s southeast side Friday night.

Police responded to the 3200 block of Diplomat Drive just after 9 p.m. Police say officers heard multiple shots in the area.

Officers found 4 adult victims suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.

Police say witnesses told them there may have been a physical altercation at the residence earlier in the evening. The witnesses said the altercation was between one of the shooting victims and another man, who reportedly threated to come back and shoot up the apartment.

Medics transported the 4 victims to local hospitals. One person suffered life-threatening injuries, the other 3 sustained non-life threatening injuries.

No other details yet, just another "altercation" that led to someone coming back afterwards with a gun to settle the dispute.

Fort Wayne has more than her share of shootings but violent crime in the Fort is mostly concentrated in the city's southeast neighborhoods, which also are (not coincidentally) the most "diverse" neighborhoods.

** Update 427/20 **

Fort Wayne police announced an arrest in the mass shooting....

Arrest made in shooting of 4 people at SE-side home

Fort Wayne Police have made an arrest in the shooting of four people on the city’s southeast side Friday night.

Bryshawn D. Terry Sr., 28, faces four counts of Aggravated Battery.

Here is Bryshawn....

While most Hoosiers are "hunkered down", to use the corny phrasing of our governor, people inclined to criminal behavior don't seem to be paying much attention. This pattern is holding true across the country....

- Law abiding, working Americans are getting squeezed more and more, forced out of jobs and locked down at home.

- Criminal and certain other groups are wantonly ignoring the orders.

America is already stratified by race and ethnicity and by income and religion but now add in the division between the people who are ordered to sacrifice for the greater health good of all Americans at the same time they are forced to shoulder the bulk of taxation in the country versus those who ignore the restrictions just as they ignore every other law.

The Chinese virus has been a huge blow to the American economy and working families but while most of us either stay at home or take the risk of going to work as an "essential worker", our criminal population is gleefully shooting each other. From earlier in the week:

Gang Violence Continues Even Under Coronavirus

In one single day in early April, Chicago thugs killed 6 people and shot 21. So far this year, 117 people have been killed, and 522 were wounded. By the time you read this, the numbers will be higher.

Only 86 people in Chicago, so far, have died of the coronavirus.

Chicago’s thugs can give any pandemic a run for its money. And then shoot it in the back.

The article goes on to detail shootings unabated all across our blighted urban landscape: Jacksonville, Jersey, Cleveland, Baltimore.

An article from the Chicago Sun-times gives us another glimpse into the general disdain for obeying the rules from urban residents. The Harrison District in Chicago is not only a shooting gallery ("21 murders and another 60 nonfatal shootings this year", up significantly over last year), it is also home to the open air drug markets....

West Side violence persists amid a pandemic and stay-at-home order

In recent weeks, officers in the Harrison District have worked to keep people indoors — no easy task in the narcotics epicenter of the city.

Between March 25 and April 21, Harrison officers issued nearly 1,450 dispersal orders — police directives telling people to stop congregating outside. All told, officers across the city have issued 3,750 dispersal orders.

In the heart of this urban zone, officers broke up more than 1,400 groups in less than a month. That works out to around 50 times a day, in a single police district.

But we are supposed to suspect that systemic racism is the root cause of blacks dying disproportionately from Covid-19. Maybe if that population would stay at home like the rest of us, they would have fewer deaths from the Chinese coronavirus and from drive-by shootings?

The Chinese coronavirus will come and go, leaving behind a significant number of deaths, mostly from people who were likely to have died this year anyway. But the economic damage and the exposure of the rifts in our society will live on for many years, or at least as long as the Republic endures.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Ammopocalypse 2020

I hope you got wut u wuz needing.

Judge Tosses California Ammunition Purchase Law

A federal judge on Thursday blocked a California law requiring background checks for people buying ammunition, issuing a sharply worded rebuke of “onerous and convoluted” regulations that violate the constitutional right to bear arms.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego ruled in favor of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, which asked him to stop the checks and related restrictions on ammo sales.

“The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” Benitez wrote in a 120-page opinion granting the group's motion for a preliminary injunction.

A judge who understands the Constitution? Go figure!

What this means is that California residents can now order ammo online. So the already thin stock levels of online ammo suppliers just disappeared. I was shopping early this morning at SG Ammo, I just went back and saw this:

F in the chat for people who don't already have plenty of ammo.

This is not going to get better, not anytime soon. Don't get caught unprepared is the lesson here.

** Update **

SGAmmo is back online but stock is moving fast. Same at Academy and other places.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Take My Oil, Please!

In a time of weirdness and unprecedented events, this is a whole different level of weirdness. Oil futures were priced under zero. In other words, negative prices.

From Yahoo! Finance....

Stock market news live updates: Stocks fall, oil crashes into negative territory as energy demand concerns flare

Stock fell, tracking declines in oil prices as concerns over weak energy demand in an oversupplied market built up even further.

The May contract for U.S. West Texas intermediate crude oil (CL=F), which expires on Tuesday, erased all value and dropped below zero for the first time in history. The June contract for the commodity (CLM20.NYM) also sank sharply, but held above $20 per barrel Monday afternoon.

This doesn't mean that gas stations will pay you to haul gas away but it is a significant event reflecting the glut of supply and the plummeting demand. Nations dependent on oil, like the Middle Eastern oil producers, Russia and Venezuela, are going to be suffering mightily. When hundreds of millions of people in the developed world suddenly stop driving to work or vacation or the mall, we don't need all of that oil. Add in the virtual shutdown of the airline industry and you have a serious problem in the oil business.

Things are weird and only getting weirder.

Mass Shooting Alert! Krazee Kanuck Edition

What is being described as the worst mass shooting in Canadian history took place over the weekend, in Nova Scotia of all places with at least 17 dead including the gunman.

RCMP officer among 17 confirmed dead in Nova Scotia killing spree

The whole thing is super weird. It happened in a country with strict gun control laws, relative to America. The guy mocked up his car to look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle and had a RCMP. At one point in the still confused timeline, three houses had been set on fire. The alleged gunman ended up dead but the police are being a little cagey about the whole thing.

The shooter is being identified as Gabriel Wortman, a 51 year old "denturist" or someone who deals with dentures. He appears to own at least two homes, his denture clinic and perhaps 5 other investment properties. He had a residence in Portapique, Nova Scotia where the shooting began and that is a resort town of 100 permanent residents, doubling during the summer as is often the case in places of that sort.

You would be hard pressed to find a less likely gunman than this guy but something made him snap. I will try to update the story as details come out but this could be one of those cases where we never know what led to him going on a rampage.

Mass Shooting Alert! Mass Edition

A running street battle led to five people being shot in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday, April 17th.

One dead, four wounded in Springfield rolling gunfight

From the sketchy reports, it seems that a group of gunmen started shooting up a backyard gathering (during a pandemic). The gunmen fled and some of the people at the party jumped in a car to give chase, caught up to the original gunmen and they exchanged gunfire.

In the aftermath of the gun battle, some of the "victims" were dropped off at a local hospital and cops stopped the vehicle that they were dropped from and according to Western Mass News, made a little discovery:

Outside Mercy Medical Center on Friday, officers stopped the car dropping off the victims and found a firearm and a large quantity of cocaine, the post said, and a man and woman were arrested. The two arrested were not shot. None of the four gunshot victims are cooperating, he said.

I will concede that I am not a hardened criminal but it would seem sensible that if I was taking people who had been shot to the hospital, where cops are often present, I would try to remember to leave my gun and "large quantity" of cocaine at home. The same story contained a photo of the crime scene.

Based on the photo and the circumstances, this looks like yet another mass shooting matching the typical profile that will get no attention in the media.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Speaking Of Philadelphia

This article caught my eye when I was reading about the concealed carry guy shooting the "teens" on a bus in Philadelphia...

Shootings, homicides have doubled in Philadelphia's 22nd police district since last year

Doubled, in the middle of a pandemic and stay-at-home orders. This is the same police district I mentioned a few weeks ago as the result of a mass shooting where a toddler was shot. Yesterday I mentioned three "teens" getting shot after attacking a concealed carry permit holder on a Philadelphia bus.

Philadelphia is turning into yet another inner-city diverse urban shooting gallery.

As it stands now, shooting and homicide victims across the city are up this year compared to last. There have been 54 more shooting victims and 15 more homicides.

But what's especially alarming is the increase within the Philadelphia Police Department's 22nd district in North Philadelphia.

The numbers have more than doubled compared to this time last year.

There are nine more homicides and 31 more shooting victims.

There is trouble in the city of brotherly love.

Fortunately the mayor of Philadelphia has his sights set on the real problem. Not gangs or racially concentrated pockets of violence. Nope, the problem is gun stores legally selling a lawful product during a pandemic.

The violence and guns was something addressed by the mayor on Thursday during his virtual news conference.

He said gun stores remaining open in the state during the pandemic represents an unfortunate part of our culture.

"I've always believed there are too many guns in this society. I didn't think gun shops were an essential business and it's the way this country is. I don't know if I'm going to be able to change the mindset of this entire nation on weapons," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Yes Mr. Mayor, I am sure the people doing the shooting in Philadelphia are dutifully going to a licensed FFL dealer, filling out the form 4473 and submitting to a background check. Since most of the shooters tend to have a laundry list of prior convictions, it makes perfect sense that they would be buying guns from gun stores. Meanwhile in a city that is a slaughterhouse, the last thing anyone would want would be for law-abiding, decent people to be able to purchase a firearm to protect themselves and their family. When you get attacked by three teens on a bus or someone tries to kick in your door, you should just wait for the authorities to arrive. What is the worst that can happen to you in 15 minutes? Sure you can get beaten to death or raped or robbed, but that is a small price to pay for helping Mayor Kenney solve a non-existent problem rather than dealing with the actual problems in the city.

The problem of gun violence in America has two major foundations: minority gang violence and enablement from white liberals who refuse to address the real problems in our nation. Philadelphia is a prime example of both.

Friday, April 17, 2020

When Teen Shenanigans Go Sideways

Oh those crazy "teens", always up to good-natured mischief! Three of them were just having some fun in Philadelphia when some lunatic shot them on a bus. Clearly an injustice has occured!

Man with concealed carry permit shoots 3 teens on SEPTA bus in Northeast Philadelphia

It is noteworthy that the man had a concealed carry permit as it is extraordinarily rare for a legal concealed carrying individual to be involved in a sketchy shooting. However, I am reading between the lines here and I am going to go on a limb and say this guy won't be charged.

Police said a man is claiming self-defense after shooting three teens while riding on a SEPTA bus in Northeast Philadelphia Thursday.

Investigators said the three teenagers were in a physical altercation with the shooter while riding on the Route 58 SEPTA bus around 1 a.m.

The bus came to a stop on Bustleton Avenue at St. Vincent Street, which isn't far from Roosevelt Mall.

Police are still working to determine what led to the altercation and shooting. Investigators said the three teens approached a 24-year-old man who was sitting in the back of the bus. For some reason, they got into a physical altercation, and during that time police said the man ended up shooting each of the teens.

Three teens. A 17 year old, a 16 year old and a 15 year old. All ended up shot. All were on a bus, going after and apparently instigating a fight with  24 year old guy. At 1 AM on a weeknight. How do they stay out so late and still make it to their jobs as nuclear physicists the next day?! The three of them approached a lone man sitting in the back, probably minding his own business, and for "some reason" a fight started. 

Reports are that the shooter turned his firearm over to the cops and was cooperating with authorities. 

Starting to draw a mental picture yet of the people involved?

Three hoodlums think they have an easy victim, a lone guy, that they outnumber 3 to 1 at one o'clock in the morning. He was probably heading home from work. They get in his face and a fight ensues. Keep in mind that "teens", when they outnumber you 3-1, can be extremely dangerous. In understandable fear for his safety, the concealed permit carrier draws his weapon and shoots all three, wounding them. According to reports, all three "teens" were wounded in the leg. That certainly seems to indicate he was sitting down and they were standing up.

I will be surprised if even in a basket-case town like Philadelphia that this guy will get charged and this story isn't all over the news so that makes it more likely that it was a black guy getting attacked by three black kids. There were witnesses and surveillance footage, it is more likely the "teens" will get charged for assaulting and/or trying to rob the 24 year old.

Our contemporary "teens" love to attack people that are outnumbered, smaller and weaker and/or not expecting to be attacked. You rarely see a one-on-one fair fight. They picked the wrong guy to tangle with here. Perhaps a few more "teens" getting shot will discourage them from attacking apparently random stranger for kicks. On the other hand, learning basic lessons and exhibiting self-control are not hallmarks of our "teen" population. 

Bread And Circuses

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
 - Juvenal, Satire 

Someone posted this very solid quote from Robert Heinlein at John Wilder's site, I checked it out to make sure it was accurate and it was so here it is:

“The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

I am on record opposing the "every warm body" model of democracy for these very reasons. America in Heinlein's time was a near paradise compared to today, but in 2020 the ratio of producer to parasite is skewing heavily and unsustainably toward the parasite class.

Over twenty million Americans are recently unemployed. Tens of millions are working from home. Hundreds of millions are getting "stimulus checks", a combination payment to help pay the bills and a bribe to keep people from rioting. An America that was already sedentary has turned into a nation of hermits. The powers-that-be are counting on bread ("stimulus money" and food stamps) and circuses (endless streaming entertainment) to keep us pacified. That might work for the average American who is already law-abiding and tends toward obeying authority reflexively but there are already limits appearing when it comes to how long we will put up with this and of course in the areas already prone to lawlessness, adding in cops stepping back plus convicts being released early, and with warmer weather on the way, civil unrest seems likely if we stay shut down for much longer.

The bread and circuses model has a bunch of flaws but the fatal flaw is that it requires endless escalation of both to keep the crowds happy. Back in the day, the spectacle in the arena had to be more and more grotesque to keep people sated. As people today burn through TV shows and movies, they are going to start getting bored and restless. In the same manner, the first stimulus hadn't even hit our accounts and Congress was already talking about a second (and third, fourth, etc.) round. There is a bill being proposed to give Americans a backdoor Universal Basic Income of $2,000 per month for the duration of the pandemic, which could easily turn into permanent state of crisis. In our case, my wife and I would get $4,000 per month plus an additional $500 per child at home (up to three), or $5500 per month which is equivalent to $66,000 per year. The median household income in the U.S. is less than $64,000 per year so for most families with would be a raise, and a very significant one for a young couple with three kids. Even for us, that sort of "stimulus payment" coupled with what we already earn would be more money than we have ever made. Looks like daddy is getting that Barrett .50 BMG after all!

How long is it sustainable to pay a family of five $66,000 per year for not doing anything other than refraining from rioting? For millions of Americans, people in low wage jobs in the service industry for example, they would get a huge raise in pay. They won't save the bulk of the extra money, they will adjust their spending habits to use it up and then when the "stimulus" payments stop, they will be in serious trouble. Believe me, as a former banker I saw this happen all the time. I was a manager for a couple of banks in an area with a sizable Indian reservation and when the Indian kids turned a certain age they got a bunch of money from some government trust fund and like the sun rising in the east, they blew through that money in no time and were right back where they were in poverty.

Things like a culture-wide death spiral take on a life of their own and that is what we are seeing right now. I get the sense that things are slipping out of control at the highest levels and everyone is trying to keep a lid on the pot. Trump seems very nervous and unsure of himself when he isn't belittling the media (and that never stops being funny). I have to assume he understands how delicate the balance is right now and that it won't take much for it to get out of hand.

You can only bribe the people with their own money and with debt piled on the heads of their grandchildren for so long. I am getting the sense that we don't have enough people bailing out water to keep the Titanic afloat for much longer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Myth Of The Non-Violent Offender

The Left in America loves letting criminals out of prison. Not because it is smart or "just" but because doing so ensure that minority voters will continue to vote for leftist candidates. Even though minority communities, specifically black and mestizo communities, suffer the most at the hands of the significant criminal element in their own people, they still seem loathe to lock up their fellow minorities. It is weird, pathological and suicidal.

The Chinese coronavirus scare/pandemic has given leftist groups like the ACLU, a new reason to push to furlough prisoners. We can't have criminals being exposed to a sickness! Sure, lots of law-abiding regular Americans in essential jobs like health care and law enforcement are required to keep working at great risk to their own safety but people who are generally speaking worthless and more often than not an enormous detriment to society must be protected.

No surprise, we are already getting reports of these "non-violent", "low-level" prisoners committing crimes as soon as they get out. Almost as if people prone to committing crime will keep on committing crime.....

Florida inmate freed amid coronavirus concerns murdered man one day after release, deputies say

An inmate who was released from a Florida jail in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus is back behind bars and accused of committing second-degree murder the day after he got out, deputies say.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirms 26-year-old Joseph Edwards Williams was arrested on a warrant Monday night in Gibsonton.

Joseph Williams was released because he was a "low-level, non-violent" criminal who was arrested earlier on March 13th for possession of heroin.

Here is the timeline:

March 13th, Williams is arrested and jailed on drug possession charges.

March 19th, he is released at 8:02 AM.

March 20th, around 10:30 PM he murders someone.

In less than 48 hours, he was released from jail, managed to get his hands on a gun and murder someone.

It isn't a long road from "non-violent offender" to "murderer". It turns out people willing to break some laws (like drug dealing) are willing to break others (like criminals owning a gun and killing people).

We are supposed to believe our prisons are full of people who are just swell, but they got caught with an ounce of weed and now are incarcerated unjustly for decades. It is a safe bet that "low-level, non-violent" criminal Joseph Edwards Williams wasn't a first time offender and an even safer bet that he has been breaking various laws without being caught for most of his 26 years (** Update**: Guns America reports that Mr. Williams has an extensive rap sheet with 35 previous arrests and several major convictions). You don't go from model citizen to heroin user to murderer in a week.

Almost without exception, people are in jail for a reason. Maybe you think laws against marijuana possession are unjust but everyone knows that it is illegal in most places to possess and especially to sell marijuana. It isn't the fault of the system if you decide to sell pot in spite of it being against the law and are dumb enough to get caught. Again, I doubt there are many people in prison who bought some weed for the first time, got busted and went to jail. For "low-level, non-violent" drug offenses, you either have to have a significant amount of drugs or be busted multiple times to actually do any time.

People who are criminals are almost universally low-lifes who would rather break the law than simply be a decent human being. A lot of them, even the "low-level, non-violent" criminals, are guilty of doing a significant amount of crime before getting caught and are useless for much other than committing crime, being a burden on society and going in and out of jail.

If we want to reduce crime we need to start stringing up people who commit violent crimes in public. Let a few murderers, rapists and child molesters swing from a gibbet for all the world to see and watch the crime rate go down. People like Mr. Williams might decide that instead of shooting someone as soon as he got out of jail, he could maybe look for a job instead. Probably not but at least hanging him would save the taxpayers a ton of money.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dune Dumpster Fire Incoming

There are a handful of books from my youth that were memorable. As a kid I read a lot. A lot. I read in my room, I read in the car, I read on vacation, I read at the dinner table. While we had plenty of money when I was a kid, I didn't get tons of stuff other kids got but my mom never, ever denied me any book I wanted to buy.

In the days before the internet or even cable TV, reading was my escape. I pored endlessly over my Dungeons & Dragons tomes, read science fiction and fantasy books galore and even read through the entire collection of the World Book Encyclopedia. Of the books I read, from the collected works of Piers Anthony to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and Battlefield Earth, Frank Herbert's Dune has stood the test of time perhaps better than them all. In fact, I just re-read Dune last month.

Frank Herbert created a complicated and vast universe without getting too bogged down. He writes of the Great Houses and the Landsraad, the CHOAM (Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles) and the Bene Gesserit, and doesn't spend much time explaining them but you still quickly understand the role they all play and knowing the details isn't critical to the storyline. There are intrigues within intrigues, the fighting between the two houses of Atreides and Harkonnen as the Padishah Emporor Shaddam IV quietly intervenes to destroy Duke Leto Atreides who he sees as a threat. Playing out behind the scenes is the generational quest by the Bene Gesserit to breed a superhuman, a male called the Kwisatz Haderach while the Space Guild seeks to protect their own secret to space travel, the spice melange. In the midst of this vast universe, Herbert focuses all of his attention on a single planet called Arrakis or Dune and the transformation of the Duke's son Paul Atreides from heir to House Atreides into a messianic being. Much of the story takes place off-stage and is only referenced obliquely.

Dune is probably the best selling science fiction book of all time, with well over ten millions copies sold. Plus it carries with it a great deal of nostalgia for older readers who grew up reading Dune (first published in 1965). That makes it very tempting to cash in on the Dune mystique by making it into a movie. Prior efforts have been awful. A 1984 adaptation was corny and confusing, only slightly better than the film adaptation of Battlefield Earth and a later mini-series was not much better. In spite of the failures and the daunting task of trying to capture an extraordinarily complex book into a film, Hollywood is trying again with a new version of Dune set to hit theaters close to Christmas this year. It will apparently be split into two films, and that makes sense, but since this is 2020 and Hollywood long ago abandoned any pretense of film being anything other than subversive propaganda, the casting and early interview already reveals a trainwreck in the making.

First the casting. Director Denis Villeneuve decided to go with the old standby of Hollywood to throw flavor of the day actors into roles just for the sake of star power. The first one that jumped out at me was hulking Jason Momoa as Atreides swordmaster Duncan Idaho. Fighting in the Dune universe is one of those interesting twists that Herbert included. Instead of the typical lasers we see in sci-fi like Star Wars, people in Dune often fight with knives which seems incongruous for a setting tens of thousands of years in the future but Herbert's universe is one where technology is treated with suspicion and the use of personal body shields makes finesse more important than brawn. Using a laser ("lasgun") on someone wearing a shield would result in a small atomic explosion, killing both the target and the shooter. These shields would deflect fast stabbing attacks but slow moving objects could penetrate them. Hacking at someone with a sword or shooting them with a normal projectile (like a bullet) wouldn't work so fighting with shields was more akin to slow motion fencing. So Duncan Idaho has always seemed to me to be a lithe, graceful fighter rather than a Conan the Barbarian type.

Jason Momoa became famous in Game of Thrones for playing Khal Drogo and he was great in this role because he barely spoke. Momoa is 6'4" and generally enormous, but he looks nothing like the subtle swordsman who would train the son of a duke. But hey, he is wildly popular right now and provides some eye candy for the ladies, so let's throw him in the role!

Then there is the concubine of Paul Atreides, a Fremen girl named Chani. She is described as having an elfin face with big eyes and being a young, small girl:

In the moonlight and reflection off gray stone, Paul saw a small figure in Fremen robes, a shadowed face peering out at him from the hood, and the muzzle of one of the projectile weapons aimed at him from a fold of robe. “I am Chani, daughter of Liet.”

Herbert, Frank. Dune (p. 460). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

She is the daughter of Liet Kynes, the Imperial Planetologist (more on his character in a moment). Chani is played by "Zendaya", a young actress who pretentiously goes by only her first name (her birth name is Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman). She is a hot commodity as an actress in large part for playing the role of "MJ", a replacement for Mary Jane Watson, in the recent iteration of Spider-Man. Zendaya is a mixed race young woman with dark brown hair but MJ in the Spider-Man universe was a white girl with red hair. I guess that wasn't hip enough so Spider-Man got a new, more diverse love interest. Anyway, Zendaya is quite tall at 5'8" and 23 years old. She doesn't look anything like a petite, young girl with an elfin face....

But she is a popular actress so who cares what she is supposed to look like. After all this is an era when a Norse god can be played by a black guy.

Stellan Skarsgård was cast as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Stellan is a good actor but Baron Harkonnen is enormously fat and grotesque, and it sounds like he will be in a massive prosthetic suit to simulate this. In the books he is made to seem even more gross because in addition to being cruel and so fat he can't walk under his own power, he was also a homosexual with an eye for young boys. That probably hits a little too close for today's Hollywood so I expect that to be completely erased from the movie.

Charlotte Rampling is the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Rampling is quite thin, almost gaunt. The Reverend Mother is described a bulky and thick in the book, although I guess it doesn't really matter to the story.

That brings me to Liet Kynes. He is a mysterious but critical figure in Dune, the Imperial Planetologist/Ecologist. He is also the father of Chani, the concubine of Paul Atreides and is described as:

The man’s hood was thrown back, its veil hanging to one side, revealing long sandy hair, a sparse beard. The eyes were that fathomless blue-within-blue under thick brows.

Herbert, Frank. Dune (p. 174). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

So obviously the thing to do is cast him as...

....a black woman! No seriously, that is the way they went with it. From the Vanity Fair article I read this morning, they are pulling out all of the stops to rewrite the greatest science fiction masterpiece ever written and pervert it into a SJW nightmare. On changing the father of Chani from a white guy into a black woman,

In an intriguing change to the source material, Villeneuve has also updated Dr. Liet Kynes, the leading ecologist on Arrakis and an independent power broker amid the various warring factions. Although always depicted as a white man, the character is now played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Rogue One), a black woman. “What Denis had stated to me was there was a lack of female characters in his cast, and he had always been very feminist, pro-women, and wanted to write the role for a woman,” Duncan-Brewster says. “This human being manages to basically keep the peace amongst many people. Women are very good at that, so why can’t Kynes be a woman? Why shouldn’t Kynes be a woman?”

Well because in the Dune universe, Liet Kynes was a man and the father of a significant character. Not only that but he was the leader of the Fremen and those leaders are always male. I wonder why non-white and female writers don't create compelling characters of their own instead of appropriating the work and characters of white men?

Paul's mother Lady Jessica in the book is a prototypical Bene Gesserit. She works within the religious order, doing their bidding and working behind the scenes to influence the world. She helps to teach her son and she is dangerous in her own right but it is hidden and subtle in most of the book. Not in the movie!

In the script, which Villeneuve wrote with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, she is even more fearsome than before. The studio’s plot synopsis describes her as a “warrior priestess.” As Villeneuve jokes, “It’s better than ‘space nun.’ ”

Lady Jessica’s duty is to deliver a savior to the universe—and now she has a greater role in defending and training Paul too. “She’s a mother, she’s a concubine, she’s a soldier,” says Ferguson. “Denis was very respectful of Frank’s work in the book, [but] the quality of the arcs for much of the women have been brought up to a new level. There were some shifts he did, and they are beautifully portrayed now.”

In other words, unless a woman is a "warrior priestess", she is worthless. Jessica is a complex, conflicted character in the books, her love of her Duke led her to bear him a son instead of only daughters as she was ordered to. Apparently in the movie she is going to be kicking ass, something that in Dune she can do but only does when it is absolutely necessary. The whole strength of the Bene Gesserit is in being subtle and working the long game so that no one suspects their true strength but that is too nuanced for modern audiences.

The article I mentioned describes Paul Atreides as "Think Greta Thunberg, only she’s a Jedi with a diploma from Hogwarts." and that should be enough to warn off any fan of Dune, science fiction or decent storytelling. How dare you!

But the loudest warning bell came in this quote:

Villeneuve intends to create a Dune that has so far only existed in the imagination of readers....For Villeneuve, this 55-year-old story about a planet being mined to death was not merely a space adventure, but a prophecy. “No matter what you believe, Earth is changing, and we will have to adapt,” he says. “That’s why I think that Dune, this book, was written in the 20th century. It was a distant portrait of the reality of the oil and the capitalism and the exploitation—the overexploitation—of Earth. Today, things are just worse. It’s a coming-of-age story, but also a call for action for the youth.”

What he is describing doesn't exist in the minds of any actual fan of Dune. Ecology is an important theme in Dune but not hippy-dippy, Greta Thunberg/Al Gore "climate change" nonsense. The ecology of Dune wasn't created by the "exploitation" of Arrakis. The theme is the tradeoff between the harsh environment of Arrakis and the production of the spice melange that enables interstellar travel. Oil? That has no relationship to the spice. Capitalism? Herbert makes little mention of it. This was a book published in 1965 and Herbert himself was highly suspicious of government, as he is quoted on Wikipedia as saying:

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

He also wrote in Dune:

A world is supported by four things….” She held up four big-knuckled fingers. “…the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing….” She closed her fingers into a fist. “…without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. Make that the science of your tradition!”

Herbert, Frank. Dune (p. 48). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Dune exists in a quasi-feudal world. Duke Leto Atreides is a sort of noble/tragic figure, someone I think probably influenced George R.R. Martin's GoT character Eddard Stark. His political philosophy seemed to be a blend of libertarian distrust of government, deep suspicion of technology and an appreciation for hierarchy and tradition. Not exactly a proto-social democrat.

Maybe it is possible to faithfully adapt Dune to the big screen but not in this environment. As is so often the case, it is better to simply leave beloved books as books

Monday, April 13, 2020

Currency Confusion

There he lay, a vast red-golden dragon, fast asleep; a thrumming came from his jaws and nostrils, and wisps of smoke, but his fires were low in slumber. Beneath him, under all his limbs and his huge coiled tail, and about him on all sides stretching away across the unseen floors, lay countless piles of precious things, gold wrought and unwrought, gems and jewels, and silver red-stained in the ruddy light.

Smaug lay, with wings folded like an immeasurable bat, turned partly on one side, so that the hobbit could see his underparts and his long pale belly crusted with gems and fragments of gold from his long lying on his costly bed. Behind him where the walls were nearest could dimly be seen coats of mail, helms and axes, swords and spears hanging; and there in rows stood great jars and vessels filled with a wealth that could not be guessed.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Hobbit (Lord of the Rings) (p. 215-216). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.

We can sort of understand a dragon's horde, even though they only exist in fantasy. A dragon laying on a mound of golden coins, jewels and other treasures is something we can wrap out minds around. Some of a dragon's treasure is worth a little less, like silver, and some more, like gold, and most precious of them all is the Arkenstone.

Gold doesn't have much inherent value. Unlike iron which can be made into tools or granite which can be formed into building blocks, gold is relatively soft and malleable. Still, gold has been considered a "precious metal" for much of human history. The Bible mentions gold in the second chapter of Genesis:

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. (Genesis 2:10-12)

The Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (aka King Tut) who reigned in the 1300s B.C. was buried with a famous mask made of gold. The mask weighs 22.6 pounds. At the current price of gold of $1,702.18 per ounce, that mask in gold alone is worth $615,000 although the historical significance makes it priceless.

The average person can understand a 22 pound gold mask. We know what 22 pounds feels like and we know what gold looks like, as most of us have some sort of gold jewelry.

But $615,000 in cash? That is hard for most people to even comprehend. The average person has only ever held a few thousand in cash. Thanks to working in a bank, I often handled tens of thousands of dollars and once saw one million dollars in cash shrink-wrapped so I have a better grasp than most people.

In the grand scheme of things in America, $615,000 isn't a drop in the bucket, it is a molecule of a drop of water in a bucket. It isn't even a rounding error. However for the average American it is an unimaginable sum when thought of as currency.

This is a reminder, yet again, that our society is so enormous that the average person has absolutely no control or connection to most of our governance and economy. We are dealing in sums so vast that it is incomprehensible, not just to Bubba at the gas station but even to the most respected economists. It is an imaginary world and it operates by rules that are both arcane and completely made up.

This brings me back to a frequent topic, money and our relationship to it.

The recent stimulus bill included various spending items that in total came out to around $2 trillion. That is a sum that no one can really wrap their mind around, not least because it is all make believe. That doesn't matter to 99.9999% of people, all they care about is getting their TrumpBux and using that money to buy another gun wisely spending that money on essentials.

Most of us still think of "money" as "currency", in other words bills and coins. Most people would be stunned and a little concerned to realize that their local bank branch has only a fraction of the "money" they show on deposit actually physically present in the building. To put it another way, that vast majority of "money" in America exists only in a computer and will never exist as a dollar bill.

According to the Federal Reserve:

As of April 8, 2020, there was $1.84 trillion worth of Federal Reserve notes in circulation.

That is about $160 billion shy of the $2 trillion we just magically spent in the stimulus bill, much less the several trillion more spent as part of the annual budget.

On the other hand, the M2 money supply which is basically all of the "money" we pretend to us (see here for an explanation) is around $16.6 trillion. Here is a chart of M2 since 1980:

Over the last 40 years, the amount of "money" went from just shy of $2 trillion to over $16 trillion. Where did all of that money come from? That's a trick question, it came from nowhere. At the same time, in 1980 the national debt was around $900 billion. That is a lot of money but today the national debt is north of $24 trillion. I like to write that out for effect:


That is a really big number. Also of note, in 1980 the national debt was 32% of the Gross Domestic Product, so the GDP was around $2.7 trillion. In other words, the total value of the output of all economic activity in America in 1980 was triple what we had in debt. In 2020? The debt is about 108% of GDP, a level we haven't seen since the final year of World War II. In simple terms, what that means is that if we took every shred of economic activity in the United States in 2020 and applied 100% of it toward the debt, we still wouldn't pay it off. Plus we would all starve to death. So we are kind of in trouble.

Back to the money supply. Here is a chart from the beginning of 2020 to now.

Over a trillion dollars in "money" magically appeared since the beginning of the year. Where did that come from? I suspect something like this:

Live webcam at the Federal Reserve

The amount of "money" we have is completely arbitrary. It has no basis in reality. If we need more, we magically make more. No one questions it other than cranks like Ron Paul, and no one questions it because the whole house of cards we call the U.S. and more broadly the world economy relies on no one asking too many questions.

Again the reminder that a dollar bill is "worth" a dollar because we all agree that it does. Why does a gallon of milk cost 3 of those dollars? Because that is what we say it is worth. Why does your job as a welder pay you 18 dollars for every hour we work? Because that is what we say it is worth. Is an hour of work as a welder really equivalent to six gallons of milk? Who knows? With all of the artificial tinkering that goes on with costs and wages, there isn't a real equivalence between one thing and another. The price of a gallon of milk is the result of both demand and production costs for raising cows, feeding and milking them and then selling the milk to a dairy distributor who then processes the milk and puts it into gallon jugs as well as turns it into yogurt and cheese before shipping it to a retailer who then transports the milk and stocks individual stores. Sounds simple but there are a ton of places along the way where the government is intervening, from the actual cost of milk to subsidies and regulations regarding the feed that goes into cows to inspections and fuel taxes on the gas used to transport the milk. I could probably figure up a reasonable cost per gallon of a single cow I owned and milked for my family but trying to expand that out to the national retail average price of a gallon of 2% milk? No way.

The whole thing is insane. Billions of people trading goods and services based on an unspoken agreement that we will pretend that "money" that doesn't exist is actually worth something. We add trillions to the misnamed "debt", which really should be called something else since we are never going to pay it back, and almost no one seems to care.

A debt driven, fiat currency based economy is inherently unstable and we are facing a serious crisis and soon. Tax revenue is likely to be drastically reduced this year as the economy tumbles but spending is way up. Interest payments of make-believe money on make-believe money are eating up more and more of the budget. At some point one of two things will have to happen:

One, we will have to enter an inflationary stage where the "value" of money is inflated in order to keep making payments on the debt, and still be able to engage in entitlement and discretionary spending.

Two, we will have to default on interest payments and that will make the once gold standard of safety, U.S. Treasury backed securities, a lot less attractive so either they will stop selling or the U.S. will have to jack up interest rates to attract investment (this eventually is what leads to "junk bonds").

Should Trump lose and whoever Biden is told to pick as VP takes over, it is likely spending will accelerate and this whole process will quickly spiral out of control. Even if Trump manages to win re-election, he has shown no appetite for fiscal restraint and at this point what does it even matter? There isn't a realistic way to pay it back even if a politician had the courage to try.

Like our government, our economy is simply too large to comprehend and control. It is long past due we start talking about dissolving the union and forming smaller, easier to manage new nations.