The old saying is that the best revenge is to live well.  Now that’s not really true.  The best revenge is luring your enemy into a convenient catacomb, shackle him to the wall and brick him into an alcove where he’ll die of hunger and thirst.

But living well means enjoying the things that make life full and rich.  And the secret to overcoming the toxic effects of the death cult that attacks our lives from all directions is not to spend all our time fighting it.  Sure, we must expend a certain amount of our time in fighting it.  There are political battles and cultural battles and personal battles.  But if we let this fighting take up all our time then we lose.  Because we never have a chance to bring the good things into our lives that make us happy.  Our lives are robbed of beauty and joy.  We survive but we can’t thrive.

So, what we need to do is look at the things that give joy to us and make sure that we make time for them.  And we need to pass these things along to the young people.  Because the Left is attacking many of these things and trying to eliminate them from the world.  They have declared all of western civilization, racist.  Western music, western art, western literature, all of it is suspect.  So, Shakespeare is evil unless all the good characters are portrayed by transgender actors or something.  And Mozart is evil unless there is a female rapper twerking to it somehow.  And worst of all is Christianity.  The Bible is evil unless there is a lesbian minister declaring that Jesus was gay.

Now you can spend all your time battling the woke scolds who declare all these fatwahs against our culture.  But instead it is better to spend time enjoying these forbidden things.  Go to a Shakespeare play or any play.  Or if you can’t find a non-woke production then buy the DVDs of the old productions.  Go to a concert.  It doesn’t have to be classical music.  I also like country music.  Maybe you like jazz.  Find a concert and go listen to something that makes you feel alive.  Have a few beers (not Bud Light) and a burger and go with people who enjoy that music too.

Find a local theater that has revivals of old movies and find the movies that you like there.  And read the classics.  And by classics I don’t mean ancient.  Anything from more than seventy years ago is safe from the taint of our modern disease.  And even today there are authors who aren’t infected.  Look up reviews by people who aren’t woke, like me.

And if your tastes run to action-adventure movies or punk rock or metal then let these things be what you search out.  After all, these are just as forbidden as Shakespeare and Mozart.  They aren’t woke enough for our current rulers.  They still have too much freedom in their DNA.

And make sure you bring along the kids when you do these things.  They aren’t exposed to anything normal in their outside lives.  Everything in the social media world that they live in is steeped in the TikTok, YouTube orthodoxy that reinforces all the lies and prejudices against the good and beautiful things that existed in the past.  They are proselytized to think all the strange and weird things being pushed are normal and healthy.  So, make sure they are exposed to as many of the healthy and normal influences as you possibly can.

So that’s a simple message.  Make sure that you leave plenty of space in your life for the enjoyable and exciting things that the present culture is trying to eliminate.  Fighting the culture war will take care of itself.  And by enjoying your life and sharing it with the young you help to squeeze out the influence of the Left from your life.  And that is priceless.

Aristophanes and the LGBTQ

All this historical comparison to 5th century Athens has made me jealous.  But instead of looking at the military and political similarities, I think I’ll compare the cultural revolutions that occurred in Athens and the United States.  And the primary evidence for the nature of the Athenian cultural change will come from Aristophanes comedy, “The Clouds.”

Rather than going back to the Greek original (for which my extremely rusty knowledge of the Attic comic dialect would be insufficient) I will use the text of Arrowsmith’s mid-twentieth century American English.  And this is fitting because I am also mid-twentieth century American in my origin.

The Clouds is the story of a wealthy but culturally traditional Athenian farmer, Strepsiades, who marries an aristocratic wife and subsequently ends up with a son whose patrician tastes are bankrupting Strepsiades.  In desperation to escape from his debts, he goes to Socrates’ School of Sophistry to learn how to flim-flam his creditors.  But it turns out Strepsiades is too old and adle-pated to learn the sophistic methods.  In desperation he forces his son, Pheidippides, to become a pupil at the school and learn the art of sophistic logic.  Or as it is described, “the art of making the worse argument appear the better.”  But once the boy is trained in the sophistic art, he turns his skill against Strepsiades and beats him when he dares to question the “genius” of some of Pheidippides’ literary favorites like the progressive poet Euripides.  And when Strepsiades complains of the impiety of dishonoring his own father Pheidippides uses his “logic” to prove to Strepsiades that beating his father is logical.  After Strepsiades admits the logic of his argument Pheidippides offers to prove that horsewhipping his own mother is also a reasonable practice.  But that is a bridge too far.  Strepsiades realizes that using the sophistic methods is a deal with the devil and he rushes to Socrates’ school and sets fire to it, to put an end to all the corruption.

During Pheidippides education we are witness to a debate between sophistic logic and normal logic personified as two fighting cocks.  During their exchange we learn that sophistry is completely immune to shame.  When accused of buggery, pederasty and perversion Sophistry laughs saying he’s being pelted with roses.  All such things are complements to the new way of thinking.  Sophistry finally defeats Normal Logic by proving to him that all the successful lawyers, politicians and poets are all perverted buggers.  Therefore, buggery is the successful lifestyle, QED.

Arrowsmith succeeds in putting the Greek into modern idiom but the ideas are all there in the original.  The traditional culture of the Athenians, which included filial and religious piety and a warrior tradition had been replaced among the young with an atheistic, materialistic philosophy wherein respect for tradition, the desire to compete for honor among fellow citizens or even the desire to just raise a family had all been replaced with a hedonistic imperative to eat drink and be merry with whatever money their parents may have accumulated.

The parallels between Aristophanes’ description and what we have in modern America are too striking to miss.  Besides the disrespect for all traditional virtues and heroes we also have the very pointed championing of sexual deviancy.  If this play was being written today, we could name the sophistry character LGBTQ and it would fit right in with Aristophanes’ dialog.  Look at this exchange:


And suppose your pupil, by taking your advice, is promptly convicted of adultery and sentenced to be publicly reamed up the rectum with a radish?  How, Sir, would you save him from that?



Why, what’s the disgrace in being reamed with a radish?



Sir, I can conceive of nothing fouler than being buggered by a radish.

I could just hear this kind of argument being put forth in National Review under the title, “The Conservative Case for Buggery.”

What all this tells me is that the path taken whenever traditional culture is subverted by an effete, materialistic, hedonistic and sexually deviant culture is essentially the same regardless of whether it is 21st century A.D. America, 1st century A.D. Rome, 5th century B.C. Athens or antediluvian Ur.  They go after the children and teach them that their parents are stupid and that the traditional rules are outdated.  And they tell them that raising a family is unnecessary and expensive so the better course is to feed their vices and live as a parasite on society leaving nothing after they die.  We seem to be in the midst of western culture succumbing to this impulse.  Like the Greeks and Romans before us we’ve lost the aspects of our culture that preserved and strengthened it.  I don’t know whether we’ll end up like Rome but at the rate we’re going it shouldn’t take too much longer to find out.  We’re rapidly reaching a crisis point.

And as for escaping this trap, Aristophanes had the right solution too.  Go to the school and burn it down.  Hopefully one day Harvard and Yale will join Socrates’ “Thinkery” in the actual ash heap of history.

Where Will the Next Renaissance Occur?

Human history has a cyclical structure to it.  Civilizations are born, grow, weaken and die.  Each one is unique but they have similarities that cause their histories to resemble older ones.  We are at the end of the European Renaissance Civilization and it’s been a humdinger.  From its origins in the rise of a merchant class in 14th century Florence, Italy it has spawned the growth of human learning and the taming of the forces of nature to such an extant that the world we live in today would be completely unrecognizable to those scholars and even the forward-thinking politicians of the early days.

But without a doubt, the impulse that animated the birth and growth of that mighty endeavor is completely spent.  The United States and the European Union are the main political centers that represent the descendants of the Renaissance civilization.  These two entities are moribund.  Senescence defines everything they do.  Vigor and youthful enthusiasm are completely lacking.  And the whole of their failing energy is directed toward protecting the status quo positions of the wealthy elites.  And even in that sadly myopic endeavor they are losing ground rapidly to a more confident culture, the Chinese.

But very often the birth of the next civilization appears among the ashes of the previous one.  And that brings me to the point of this essay.  Where will the next Florence be found?  Some might say that Silicon Valley is our Florence.  Here the brightest minds are assembled building the trillion-dollar industry that increasingly runs every aspect of modern life.  It sells us our clothes and tools and entertainment and provides our leaders with the information they need to control us.

But I think an organization like Silicon Valley that seeks to subordinate human happiness to an algorithm and openly espouses a worldview that disparages faith and family is hardly a new Florence.  Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg is hardly the next Lorenzo de’ Medici.  You could say that at least Elon Musk might have a chance at claiming to be a new Edison perhaps.  And Peter Thiel does talk about the lack of innovation but that’s not the same as playing patron to Michelangelo or Galileo.

No, I think the next big explosion of heroic human creation will happen elsewhere.  Where?  No one can tell.  Maybe it’ll be in Texas or Hungary or Russia.  Maybe it’ll be in Japan.  Or maybe it’ll be in some third world backwater.  Somewhere people will figure out how to switch things up and get to keep the fruits of their labor without having to pay the Pope and the Emperor.  Somewhere (probably a small place) will break away from the global hive and think and live for themselves.  Will it take a thousand years as it did with post-Rome?  For my grandchildren’s sake, I hope not.  Could it happen today?  I tend to doubt it.  We haven’t successfully revolted against the king in 250 years and we’ve grown weak and fearful.

My guess is it’ll happen elsewhere.  But that’s no excuse for not trying to make it happen here.  As weak and fearful as we are, that doesn’t mean our opponents are brave or strong.  They’re just positioned on the high ground and they’ve done a good job of gaslighting our kids.  If we do a better job of organizing, we may be able to get them off our backs for good.  But that’s a big if.

14JUL2021 – OCF Update Mid-July Report

This will be an outrage free day.  Even though Bastille Day is not my idea of a holiday worth celebrating today is a joyous occasion in my house.  I will therefore accentuate the positive.

I think I will initiate a series of posts devoted to various facets of Western Civilization.  I’ll range over history, culture, ethnography and geography.  I’m tempted to start from ancient historical and geographical facts about the region and then move forward through time introducing the various actors as  they appear on the scene.  Now do I start with the Neanderthals?  Finding out they were red-heads means the Irish may want to claim then for their own.

I will include information on the Yamnaya who appear to have been the mythical proto-Indo-European tribe that expanded East and West and spawned the languages that now dominate half the planet.  Not bad for a bunch of bronze age horsemen from the steppes.  I’d like to touch on especially some of the lesser known nations of Europe, the Georgians, the Lithuanians, the Letts, the Finns and others.  this will serve the dual purpose of allowing me to produce interesting and upbeat content and at the same time satisfy my curiosity about things I’ve always wanted to know.

But just to show I’m not an Indo-European chauvinist, (well actually I am), I’ll include information on the Basques.  These seem to be the descendants of the oldest inhabitants of Europe from a time before the Indo-European ancestors came on the scene.  Or at least before their languages began to dominate.  And I won’t neglect our neighbors to the east.  The river valley civilizations of the Near East were the source of agriculture that was the basis for organized human life on the planet.  So I’ll throw the Sumerians in just to show I’m a sport.  Do I have to include the Egyptians?  I guess I might.  Without them we wouldn’t have had those mummy movies.  Well, we’ll see.

And I mean to trudge on through the third season of Star Trek.  I’ve been dragging my feet because it is a terrible season.  But I’ve promised myself I’ll finish it.  As I’ve mentioned I intend to review Jackie Gleason’s classic 39 episodes of “The Honeymooners” series.  But I probably need to at least start into the Star Trek work to allow myself the reward of watching something fun like the Honeymooners.

The endless rain here in New England continues.  I’ve adapted to the annoying reality of it but I do hope that the second half of July returns to the normal hot dry summer I prefer.  Well, we’ll see.

So this may be a slow day.  I’ll write what the mood provides and enjoy a dinner out for once.  I’m bringing Camera Girl to our favorite Chinese restaurant and we’ll embrace the Orient for a change.

Compared to What?

When leftists attack the history of the United States they point to the expansion of the European settlers in the new world and decry the dislocation that fell upon the Native Americans and they point to the black Africans that were swept up in the slave trade and suffered years of bondage.  And they even point to the role of women as domestic chattel without the right to vote or own property of their own and had to endure the hard work and limited opportunities as wives and mothers.  Finally, they’ll indict our ancestors because they criminalized and stigmatized homosexuals.  The Left will hammer away and condemn the American project as racist, genocidal, misogynistic, homophobic and a host of other slurs.

But I always remember that the Left are relativists.  They don’t believe in absolutes.  So, I am always ready to ask, “We are all these terrible things relative to what?  Compared to what?  Name a society that existed before Enlightenment Europe that was less racist, less misogynistic, less homophobic and less unjust.  And any that came after, show how they don’t derive their policies from the Enlightenment Europeans.”

They can’t do it.  You’ll be met with either silence or absurd lies that don’t stand up to historical examination.  All of the policies that the Left embraces exist because the English or the Americans have allowed them to exist.  The English were the first to abolish slavery.  They eliminated it from their vast empire.  We followed their lead.  Americans gave the vote to emancipated black slaves.  The Americans gave women the vote and the whole world followed suit.  Americans have decriminalized and practically sanctified every form of deviant sexual behavior short of bestiality and pedophilia and that was well in advance of some of the third world societies that the Left is always defending like the Arab countries.  In fact, many of these Muslim nations still have the death penalty by cruel methods to punish homosexuals.

So, when the Left is busy denouncing historical figures and Europeans in general for the sins of not being current with the latest fashion in queer political grievances I can’t help but laugh at the fact that at any other time and place they would be squatting around a mud hut filled with vermin and disease, eating food that was rotting where it sat while their leaders plotted the next raid against their neighboring tribe with the intent of capturing, torturing and killing all of the men and raping and enslaving the women as a grand adventure to enhance their status as the greatest tribe in their crap-hole corner of the jungle or desert or prairie that they inhabited.

You can search across Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas and you will find that the history of mankind is a history of war, slavery and domination of the weaker by the stronger.  To dare to indict the actions and the motives of the Europeans that built the current world civilization because they didn’t anticipate a future where their pampered descendants and those of their former enemies would condemn their relatively enlightened behavior is outrageously illogical and laughably stupid.

So, when the Left comes after Robert E. Lee and even Thomas Jefferson, I say who would you put forth from the same time period in say Sudan or the Congo or any other non-European place that was more enlightened than they were with respect to slavery?  Who was around at the time of Columbus who wouldn’t have been eager to conquer new lands for his king?  Surely not the Aztecs.  They would have slaughtered every stranger they could lay their hands on and cut their hearts out of their bodies on their bloody altars.  How would the transgender HR representative at Google like to demand that its pronouns be honored by the Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran.  I suspect he would find himself being hurled off a ten-story building for his trouble.

So, when a Leftist tells you how evil America is, ask him, “Compared to What?”

In Honor of Columbus Day

I love Columbus Day.  When I was a young guy working to feed a growing family, it was a little oasis of freedom in the long desert of work that stretched from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.  Sure, there’s Veteran’s Day but by then the cold weather has stripped the trees bare of leaves and the cold precludes barbecues and outdoor activities.  But on October 12th you could put some burgers on the grill and back when such things were done you might have a little parade in town and the school would run a competition to see which parents could pretend their children built the best float looking like the Nina and the Pinta and the Santa Maria.  And every little kid could recite, “In Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

But that was before we found out that Columbus was a horrible monster.  His founding of the New World was the cause of the destruction of the indigenous civilizations that lived in North and South America.

And that is the case.  His discovery uniting both halves of our world sparked the greatest expansion of human population, scientific discovery and prosperity since the discovery of fire.  Compare the state of knowledge in any art or science in 1500 and 1700 and you will find a leap forward that can only be explained by the dynamism created by the Age of Discovery.  Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Leibniz, Newton, Huygens and endless other scientists and inventors appear almost magically once the potential for expanding into a boundless new world fired the imagination and provided the material wealth to pay for all those dreams.  And all these advances in mathematics, physics, chemistry, medicine, and the technology that it spawned have changed our world immeasurably.

The children and crackpots who disparage Columbus say he was a genocidal murderer.  They claim that if he had not discovered the New World that the indigenous people would be living in peace and prosperity.  From what I’ve read of the Aztecs peace and prosperity was not their strong suit.  A civilization whose hallmark is conquering neighboring peoples and then dragging the conquered warriors to the top of a pyramid and cutting their still beating hearts out of their chests doesn’t sound like something we should be grieved about putting out of business.  In the same vein what is recorded about the warfare practiced by the North American tribes against each other isn’t exactly what the tree huggers claim was going on.  I think it would be more than fair to say that Old World and New World were fairly evenly matched when it came to cruelty.  Where they differed was in technology.  Swords, spears and arrows really don’t compare to cannons and guns.  Steel beats wood, stone and even bronze.  Cavalry can rout poorly trained infantry pretty handily especially if they’ve never seen a horse before.

The history of mankind is the story of conquest of one people by another.  But what differs is what the conquerors do once they rule.  Genghis Khan and his Mongols conquered the greater part of Eurasia.  But they have left nothing in their wake to justify the slaughter of untold millions of human beings.  The world created by the Europeans following in the wake of Columbus has changed humanity from a short-lived, pain-gripped creature always hungry for his next meal to almost pampered aristocrats trying to keep from being bored by the technological wonders that are strewn around our homes like detritus.  Pictures of the “poor” in a third world country reveals the odd sight that they are all a little on the fat side lately.

And whoever heard of a conqueror giving back his conquests to those he’s conquered.  But that is exactly what the Europeans have allowed in almost the whole of their possessions that they didn’t colonize.  Most of Asia and Africa were handed back to the indigenous peoples during the Twentieth Century.  Whoever heard of that?

So, there is my defense of Columbus Day.  The Europeans proved that they were just as ferocious as every other human population on the planet.  They just had better science and better technology.  The Europeans invented this whole “United Nations, kumbaya, We Are the World” thing and maybe it’ll catch on to a greater extent.  So far it only seems to be us turning the other cheek.  But one day humans will get around to conquering each other on a grand scale again.  There will be other empires and other genocides.  It’s human nature.  But I’d just like to say that Europeans invented the wherewithal to destroy human life on a global scale and so far, they’ve mostly used it only on each other, not the helpless savages that they found around the world.  Hardly a reason to be ashamed.

Happy Columbus Day.

Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 3

Some Evidence

Some case studies of innovation begin with a scientific advance such as the identification of the photoelectric effect or other quantum phenomenon and traces its application to an invention dependent on that advance such as the laser. Other descriptions are more ethnographic, observing an industrial ecosystem, then focusing in on its niche like the Connecticut River Valley manufacturing industry of the 18th century and its development of interchangeable gun parts. More quantitative accounts begin with economic dynamics by measuring the role of capital, labor and then try to show excess growth attributed to changes in technology processes or investment.

All of these approaches seek to account for growth not related to easily measurable factors by looking at newly discovered insights or newly introduced technologies that confer some advantage to an offering competing in a market. Many of these accounts are useful in documenting the precedent conditions to productive change. They have been reduced to a list in many papers and articles on innovation and economic growth. They include access to basic research and related intellectual property, capital, talent, geographic or virtual proximity and so on. Other less concrete factors are also named such as entrepreneurism, leadership or vision. This body of literature is rapidly growing but the more that is written about innovation and the greater the attempts to reduce it to an economic model, the further the goal seems to move. The sudden drop in the total factor productivity in the US after the 1970s seems less understood the more that is written about it. Commentators, whether economist or philosophers, business leaders or politicians, have moved from qualitative analysis to social pleading yet offer no reliable, let alone predictable, hypothesis.

To some, the loss of American vitality is seen as an emergency, a surrendering or dissipation of the most valuable trend in human history. The loss of a cultural and economic heritage that transformed the world from a brutal place to a prosperous one. To others the change was the inevitable correction as resources were redistributed by political systems evolving away from their imperial structures of exploitation. Why do some students and proponents of innovation see it as somehow related to culture? Why do discussions of innovation seem to invite political explanations? At any level of analysis, it would seem innovation has almost nothing to do with politics and philosophy, rather a question of science, economics, and commerce. It is true that politics influence and at times determines investment in science and seek to manage economies, if not specific markets, but does that mean we can find the source of innovation in political processes?

The issue of what changed that precipitated the reduction in growth of the US economy and, apparently, innovation has a stock list of suspects. Government regulation is a commonly cited culprit. In the case of nuclear energy this seems irrefutable. Corporatism is another clear candidate. Anyone who carefully analyzes big company structures and processes, from their silo functions to their anti-competitive strategies and general slow-footedness knows that the landscape of a shrinking number of large companies dominating legacy industries can only be poison to innovation. It is hard to consider these and other familiar hypotheses that purport to account for the decrease in innovation, such as failed schools, family breakdown and the loss of faith, without turning away from the question in despair, even horror.

Perhaps it is better to start with a more direct examination of innovation in the past versus today. For example, the slowing of progress in individual transportation in the last fifty years. Why don’t cars fly? It is harder to make a car fly than roll so innovation today won’t look like innovation a century ago. This is the low hanging fruit explanation, flying is harder, but what does that mean? Well, making a car fly is not an incremental change from progressively making cars roll faster and more efficiently. In fact, making a car fly may not be an innovation at all. Innovation is not the invention of new things for their own sake. Innovation solves replication problems. What replication problem does a flying car solve? How much faster does individual transportation need to move over the earth’s surface than a mile a minute? And, for that matter, how much faster than a mile a second does flight need to achieve? The low hanging fruit explanation does seem to touch on something useful, but not in the ordinary sense of the barrier of increasing complexity. It also points to the question of need.

Commentators point to aging American cities with their 19th century subways and mid-20th century skyscrapers as evidence of our decline. (We might observe, as an aside, that no one ever complains about the age of buildings in Rome or Paris) They point to slower travel times, increasing real energy costs and shortening life expectancies in the same breath to demonstrate the drop in the pace of innovation. These seem alarming symptoms of our loss of progress. But are they really? How high does a building need to rise? How often should they be replaced? How many millions should a city accommodate? Subways certainly age, need to be maintained and improved, but should a civilization’s innovative energies be focused on subways? Surely this is not a problem of complexity, nor was the decision to abandon supersonic transport. These are choices that have little to do with innovation as normally discussed.

It is clear that in the postwar period, in different forms in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the rest of the developed world, much of these societies’ productive energy was focused on “social progress”. Some would call much of it, the changing role of women, concern for the environment, other post-imperial transitions like industrial nationalization and the rise of the welfare state, social engineering that at least in name might be considered innovation. These large reallocations of resources and dislocations of existing social structures undoubtedly had equally large effects on the focus of our productive energies, if not to derail them. For much of the industrial world social progress represented a deliberate regression away from the culture of Manhattan Projects and moon shots. Social progress led not to building more advanced cities but housing projects for the poor, which, in turn, led many to leave cities altogether. In America, the suburban “innovation”, born of the federal interstate highway program, made things cheaper, more convenient at first, and increased standards of living substantially for at least two decades. But it did not just increase the marginal quality of upper middle-class family existence by eventually sending most women into the workforce and expanded the average size of a suburban house and the number of cars in their driveways.  Living standards per capita measured in occupied square feet, miles driven, cost per student, ballooned in the 1970’s and 1980’s until even lower middle-class families living outside of cities occupied larger houses, drove further and spent more per student on education, even consumed more calories, than their counterparts in any other society. Was this not productive change?

Many would say no. Those social and economic changes may have been desired after the two wars and the prospect of global extinction, but they did not yield what innovation always does. Doing more with less, rather the opposite. Reallocation and baby booms might be products of innovation, but they do not bring it about. But the social and material changes in family structure and standards of living do suggest an answer to our question of why building and subway construction have not advanced. They didn’t need to, certainly not with the suburbanization of society and the massive expansion car culture.

There are parallels of this redirection of innovation in energy, in air transportation, even in medicine. A central concept to the development of new medical therapies is the idea of “unmet need”. Still at the dawn of the 20th century most people in the world died of gastric perforation. This mortality was directly tied to waterborne infections and contaminants so the unmet medical need for gastric disease was very high in the year 1900. Epidemiology showed not just mortality, but morbidity, other suffering than death such as poor nourishment, pain, and loss of work, were also caused by digestive disease. At first, slowly through the improvement of urban waste management and water treatment, and then more quickly after World War II through development of a series of pharmacotherapies such as antibiotics, then H-2 antagonists, PPI’s and finally triple antibiotic therapies, the medical unmet need for upper gastric disorders has largely been addressed.

This does not mean that no one suffers an upset stomach anymore. Prosperity and the overabundance of calories ensure that people still need digestive therapies. But as a public health priority, upper digestive disease has fallen from top to bottom. This is reflected in the demand for infrastructure professionals and new upper digestive pharmacotherapies that address digestive disease. Public engineering in the first half of the 20th century in America was a leading professional undertaking as the nation built its cities to postwar capacity. Those same H-2 antagonists and PPIs were the world’s largest selling and most lucrative drugs to treat aging patients born while H. Pylori, a water born pathogen, was prevalent. Today large-scale hydro-engineering projects occur at a small fraction of their former frequency and the gross sales of gastric pharmacotherapies and the innovative creation of new ones are comparatively tiny and few.

Is the contraction of PPI markets and the reduction of sewer treatment projects evidence of an innovation crisis or reduction in unmet need? Why has subway and high-rise construction investment fallen? In the 1920s as the New York City subway system was completed and was the envy of the world, the city had between 8 and 9 million residents that paid a billion fares per year. Those numbers are still largely the same today. Before the completion of most high-rise housing, New York City reached its steady state of population. By the 1970s and during the decades of the decline in US total factor productivity, national firms and their employees were abandoning New York City, raising vacancy rates. So why build and innovate more subways, buildings and their associated technologies? What was the unmet need? The answer is, there was none.

The only objection raised by these facts, that even the poor in the West have excessive basic resources in calories, in utilization of individual transport, spending on education and housing space, is that people are still poor and life for many is grim. But is this a problem of innovation, of productive growth? Would making energy free, as once imagined, or food free, as it nearly is in terms of minimum daily calories, make life less grim? The answer is no, with the sole exception of the extremely poor, defined by the World Bank as less than $1 dollar-a-day of income, a vanishingly small population in the US and one not attributable to jobless or homeless conditions but mental illness and drug addiction. There is no evidence that more square feet or more individual driving or more spending on education will meaningfully reduce the true unmet needs of lower income people. It may make car companies, energy companies, landlords and teacher unions richer but greater innovation in individual transportation, education, energy and food production will not reduce unmet needs in these areas because they are already so low. No amount of additional spending above the already impossibly high per student costs to simply teach a first grader to read will improve literacy rates. Even $100,000 per student per year would not improve the reading scores of the urban and rural poor. And if it did, such improvement would not be due to innovation, which we have defined as doing more with less. Rather, by reducing the scarcity of these resources, suburbanization has led to their inflated worthlessness. Cheap goods and services have led to the devaluing of them to the point of laxity. Is reflected in obesity rates, lowering test scores, falling birthrates, which for any other living system of organisms, would rise with expanding resources. That is until their own waste chokes them. This is the cradle of our heroes, The Muppets.


End of Part 3

Post Script

Ok, if necessity is actually the mother of innovation, lots of needs have been met in the last 100 years, but why did growth stop, the ASB becomes irrelevant and suburban consumerism take hold and become the millennial Muppet cradle sometime in the nineteen seventies? And what about Frank Sinatra? Stay tuned for Part 4.

Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 1

What does it mean when organizations like Antifa and BLM lead the national conversation but are led and populated by arrested, overfed, near-sighted, screen-addicted, basement dwellers? How can these loosely defined groups and others like them write and profess to follow manifestos built on concepts like fascism and communism, the nuclear family and non-binary identity, equality and liberty while clearly not understanding any of them. If we suppress the urge to laugh it off for a few seconds and consider what it means about our country and the West more generally, would that be useful or at least entertaining?

And finally, that our president uses these same concepts in the same contexts as these groups without pausing to at least try and clarify them, does that mean he’s actually their leader too or just the world’s greatest comic?

When you look at the endless tape of the peaceful demonstrators or if you’re lucky as I am and can simply look at the window and watch them at a distance, it is easy to be lulled into a lazy sense of voyeuristic unease. From far away the individuals in the crowds are reduced to hats and black raincoats all carrying some kind of staff and easily mistaken for at least a potential threat. Of course, when the camera pans to ground level or you even walk among them you realize they are those kids you remember from high school, if that was your terminal level of formal education, or junior college, or grad school, even a familiar post doc.  Whatever larval group of which you were a graduating member always included the kids that just weren’t ready, would never be ready, for the real world.

Our peaceful protesters are not the serious kids that just quit school to pursue real careers in crime, banking or software. I’m talking about the ones with the anachronistic long or shaved hair, over decorated skin and clothes, downward facing and backward looking. The basement dwellers, scared of life. Say what you will about Mao and Hitler, they weren’t scared of life. So how did our heroes become their self-appointed fellow travelers?

What brought our contemporary heroes out of the basement to frighten America? More interestingly, how could they frighten anyone? If you’re old enough to remember the summers of rage at the end of the 1960’s you know what real racial unrest looks like. Or anyone that has seen strike violence knows why it scares the average citizen. Those mobs were manned by the citizenry. However segregated Newark was in 1965, the city couldn’t survive with twenty percent of the population burning down buildings, and it didn’t. The Newark of 1962 was disappeared by 1975. Depopulated, de-educated, de-legitimated, poof.

But clearly our heroes didn’t, couldn’t, do that in 2020. The viral panic set the stage. It emptied out the streets like the white flight of the ‘60’s but didn’t spark the theatrical violence we see today. So, what did? Beyond the familiar slacker jobless ennui that inspired the Occupy Wall Street encampment and their occasional traffic-arbitraging self-immolations, what caused this moment? Racism? The word is its own answer. In 1968, even in Jefferson and Baltimore during the Obama years, the putative victims of racism did the rioting. Today it’s largely The Muppets.

The Muppets, hmmm, TV….is that a clue? Roger Scruton, who died in January of our anni mirabiles, took pains to remind us that it is culture, more specifically our definition of aesthetics, precisely the meaning of beauty that is the best way to understand a society. The poor man described the pain he experienced standing on a train platform while traveling in America and finding no escape from “the beat”, the deadening, soulless rhythm of western pop music. The reader can imagine how he felt about our other contemporary cultural products. Our visual arts, our architecture, the terrible things we expose and teach to our children. He no doubt finally rests in peace.

In pacem para bellum. In peace, for war. If you want peace, prepare for war. If we want beauty, if we want wisdom, if we want a growing and enterprising society, what kind of citizens do we need? Citizens. Growing. Are our heroes citizens? Are they growing? They do somehow look familiar? Like the barricade denizens of ’68? No, no they were rich French student hippies. More like tropes from the movies or even a comic book. Yes. But not old movies or comic books, more recent, like graphic novels or The Matrix. Yes, that’s it, they all seem to be aspiring to the art direction that gussied up Keanu Reeves (I only now realized that he has that most famous of comic book actor last names). I get it, our heroes want to be real heroes. But they only know Keanu or Deckard, a few other dystopian action figures. They are graphic heroes. We might charitably call them expressionistic.

Like all contemporary culture actors, our heroes carry the contradictions of Cultural Marxism. They attack the culture, humiliate the bourgeoisie, their parents, their schools, their unemployment offices, then retreat to the basement and their protection. It’s easy to hate them, but for America it is hard to admit she created them. How did it happen, they happen?

For me, it is far more interesting to answer the question by looking at the cultural collapse they reflect. When we do, we will know what the Muppets mean and why America chose them to use to frighten itself.

Why would America want to frighten itself? It’s evident it wants to, hosting all the Devil’s Nights it has in 2020, long before Halloween in places like Portland, Brooklyn and The Loop. In the shadow of the protests the professional criminals can come out of their nests, wave guns at their rivals and redraw their maps. America suffers all this to stir herself, especially our suburban cousins that so swear by the “peaceful protests”, so long as they only burn urban America. It is said when the protests came to Portland’s burbs, the curtains were drawn. Mission accomplished, the brief, but cold snap of fear did penetrate the high-tax school zones.

But from what do we now stir?  Covid, Trump, the caliphate, financial collapse, Iraq, Afghanistan, The Towers, the Kennedys? No, these were mere media trifles, like the Beatles. But they seemed important at the time, serious, didn’t they? In sleep even a fly seems serious and we fell asleep long before the Kennedys. What are the symptoms of sleep that can tell us when we fell? And why do we sense it’s time to get up?

Let’s follow Sir Roger’s advice and take America’s vitals through whatever we can call its culture for ten seconds without laughing. We are told that American popular music was born out of traditional, gospel, anthem and transplanted light opera genres. These genres evolved into what we call R&B and Jazz, Country. The ethnic music of Southern and Eastern European immigrants mixed together with native genres in vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. All of this seemed to gel on the Broadway of the twenties to become what we today call the American Song Book.

You could argue that the ASB did not reach the high musical standard of the opera Toscanini brought to New York and later popularized through radio broadcasts on NBC. But looking back from today’s vantage, in the context of twenty first century western pop music, it sure seems to fit the label of art.

You can make a similar case for American movies. It’s true, there was no visual equivalent to Jazz to act as a foundation for American cinema. But the originality and popularity of Chaplin and Keaton’s output, their success at creating visual conventions that became an almost universally accepted, but wordless, language convinced even arid academic critics that the movies were developing a set of aesthetics that would one day support an artform.

None of this can be said of the other plastic visual arts in America such as painting, sculpture and with the exception of Wright, architecture, all of which were mired in the outpouring of European Modernism throughout the first half of twentieth century. And while there were many interesting American poets and writers, even leading figures such as Stein, Pound and Eliot, their work was primarily grounded in European ideas and precedents.

The fiction of the American Naturalists, Norris, Crane and Dreiser, could be argued to be American originals, but theirs was at best a minor native movement that did not blossom greatly as a literary genre, but did interestingly have an impact on film. Faulkner and his “school” could also be added to this list and can be usefully tracked as we diagnose what ails America.

Another fruitful area of American creativity and certainly the most materially successful is what is today referred to as innovation. Defined simply as growth generating change, innovation is an almost perfect, if indirect, measure of American culture. To innovate a culture must have intact, functioning communities capable of supporting a network of collaborating and competing enterprises. These simultaneous conditions can only exist in places where the culture not only supports the formal rule of law, but voluntary associations such as craft clubs that create the social capital needed to invest in creating new products and services. Innovation shares these requirements with all native American artforms.

We will use these cultural creations, American music, movies, some of its literature and compare it to the advance of innovation in the twentieth century, the American Century, to understand why in the twenty first, the homeland finds itself nurturing fear through home-grown hobgoblins in the form of hand puppets.

End of Part 1


Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 2

Guest Contributor – War Pig – In Defense of Western Civilization

[Editor’s Note:  The following post by War Pig was in reaction to my essay “The Paradox of Western Civilization.”  I thought it was such a good antidote to the usual anti-western diatribes that it deserved to be appended to that earlier piece. – photog]

I am half Blackfoot. The North American Indians were not peaceful, elven protectors of Mother Earth. Being an Indian in the days before the Palefaces is almost a religion, even to Indians who know better.

The tribes in those days were beset by continual internecine warfare. Enemy camps and villages raided, women and even girls raped and maybe carried off or murdered, children old enough to be adopted into the attacking tribe taken. Slaves taken. Children too young to be of use were slaughtered, even babies in their swaddling. Often killed right in front of the mother as a cruel joke. She could then look forward to being gang raped and either taken as a slave or killed. All goods and animals not taken were burned to further try to completely wipe out their rivals. North American Indians committed genocide gladly when they could. Those males and older children too old to adopt were taken back to the victor’s camp where they were tortured to death in slow and devilish ways. It was what the tribes had instead of movies for entertainment.

Even if not under attack, the life was hard. Little agriculture meant hunt or gather or starve. Eventually planting maize caught on. Famine was a threat at every turn, the environment was also cruel. In hard winters the very old would wander off into the winter to die to save resources for the rest of the tribe as the elders were of no use anymore. Also, epidemics could run through an area and kill most if not all.

The North American Indians were not simple Neolithic hunter gatherers. They wasted and polluted. They exploited their environment and committed warfare to the limits of their technology. They stayed in an area until they used it up then moved on, following the buffalo. They littered, leaving broken things carelessly behind them. When they hunted buffalo, it was often near “jumps”. Cliffs where they would stampede the buffalo over said cliffs to die, some instantly, most slowly, below. They killed far more buffalo than they could eat or dry or use the hides and sinew. Most of the dead herd would rot and draw scavengers. They did have some herbal knowledge but most of their medicine was shaman tricks.

When Palefaces arrived the Indians gladly traded with them for metals and especially weapons and liquor.

Now, many a Caucasian group has been a thorn in the side of the world. Leopold of Belgium, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc., etc. The British taught the world how to run a drug empire and taught the world that cross-ocean slavery could be very profitable. But in that they were just parroting the mores of their Neolithic ancestors. Today, Africa and lower Asia are the main flash points for trouble. You mentioned the Rwanda Genocide. Arabs want to kill all Jews. Milosevic wanted to kill all Muslims in his nation. He had a cute trick of forcing them into a mosque or other building, then setting it on fire with men, women and children all dying as his soldiers stood outside and shot any who tried to escape. Slavery is still practiced, sometimes openly, in Africa and lower Asia. Hard line Islamic nations allow girls as young as 8 to be sold or given into marriage to old men to pay debts. The girls are then raped over and over again, often by men sometimes 50 years their senior. When old enough, usually at 12 they become pregnant and many die as a result as they are seldom afforded medical care.

Women’s rights as a whole are not respected outside of the Anglosphere and those places conquered by the same. Women in most of the world outside the anglosphere can be bought and sold. Bride murder is common in rural India even today. Oh, it is made to “look” accidental and no real official notice is taken. Go get another wife with a higher dowry.

Look at Mexico and see a failed narcostate. Look at Venezuela and see a failed socialist/communist state. Dictators and “ruling councils” abound.

And what are our children taught by socialist union members in our public schools? That all is okay, every point of view is valid. People who are successes must be dragged down to the common level, except for the ruling oligarchy, of course.

Our Constitution was not in effect 20 years before the professional politicians began taking over. Why? Because they are ruthless enough and amoral enough to do anything, literally ANYTHING which will get them elected and reelected. The founding fathers figured there would be a complete change in the House of Representatives every 6 years at most. Where they erred was in not establishing term limits from the get-go. Russia, and before them the old Soviets, have been after our institutions of education since the late forties. Agents provocateur planted in universities. Half of FDRs cabinet were closet commies and more than a few Stalin’s agents. Then they began infiltrating the newspapers and magazines. As more commie professors turned out more commie-leaning graduates, their long-term effort saw fruit. Khrushchev would have been so proud.