To Our Patient Subscribers

The Baron grows concerned: my monthly acknowledgements to our subscribers are piling up in his IN box, awaiting my reply so they can be tucked into the DONE box where they rightly belong. Each day I take out my list, hoping I’ll feel well enough to begin my responses, but like the day before the only thing that changes is that the pile is bigger. It will not do any longer to begin a note with a lame “sorry I’m late”, since being sorry implies (as they taught us in Catholic school) a concomitant “firm purpose of amendment” not to repeat our lapse. But since I never do know when I’ll feel well enough to get started, my “firm purpose” even to get out of bed in the morning does not rest on any realistic foundation. Even a few of my unexpected thank-yous — for books and music — are waiting for a response.

After talking over this problem with the Baron, here’s what we decided:

I would write a general post (this one) to tell everyone who sends us monthly donations — y’all know who you are — that I will pick up the baton again very soon. I’ll begin again at the point where I left off some weeks ago, though I no longer remember where that was…

I want to say I’ll start up again very soon but it takes so little to throw me off. For example, this one small yellow jacket sting has left me with a slight fever, weakness, fatigue, and general malaise. As many of you are aware, I actually like writing thank-you notes and other correspondence. Once I get a letter started I’m off and away down the page. It gets me into gratitude mode and that in itself is a good place to be. A kind of mini-vacation. I genuinely enjoy the process, but not right now. Right now everything is an effort, and… “Is it hot in here, or is it me?” Darn fever again.

This is a case of the spirit being willing… even while my energy has gone on vacation. I suppose that’s a tad better than taking leave of my senses, though on my bad days it’s difficult to distinguish those two. Sometimes it’s hard for me to judge how I feel; it’s all so amorphous. I’m told that’s a common condition with chronic pain. I can tell by picking up clues about my behavior. For example, when I stop making “To Do” lists I know I’m not doing well.

The Baron has asked me why, if I can respond to comments, do I find myself unable to write our donors, a task I enjoy. But the thing about comments is when I go to let them in, I notice a remark that seems to pull a response from me, and I’m off to the races. Doesn’t require opening the email window, finding an address, and so on. The comment box is right there in front of me. I even have notes for a few posts on the back burner, but in all good conscience I can’t post those if I’m not more nearly current with notes to our donors.

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When I first began to discover what fibromyalgia was, and then started the long haul of coming to terms with what it meant for my day-to-day life (the reality of it is an ongoing struggle), I’d visit the Fibro forums online. They were a wealth of information on diet, rest (“nap aggressively and often” one father advised his son), vitamins, etc. I learned the wide range of symptoms and became grateful I only had about half of them. I found out the best foods to eat to lessen fatigue and pain. And it turns out that exercise is not a good idea, though walking helps as long as one doesn’t go too far or keep it up too long. From those who’d gone before me, I learned the minerals and herbs that lessened pain — magnesium with malate being a good example, but there are others. For example, I just discovered a new form of vitamin B-12 that is supposed to offer some relief from pain.

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Yellow Jacket Season

Earlier this evening Dymphna and I had a reminder that not all dangerous, marauding, remorseless, aggressive invaders are members of Hamas or ISIS: we had a close encounter with a nest of yellow jackets just a few yards from our kitchen window.

This evening’s events reminded me of a snatch of dialogue from the Firesign Theatre album Everything You Know Is Wrong (1974). At the very beginning of Side 1, the narrator, Dr. “Happy” Harry Cox, is seeking assistance from Lem Ashauler, the editor of the Hellmouth Heater Democrat in Heater County, California. Mr. Ashauler is searching the 1897 archives of his newspaper at Dr. Cox’s request (for reasons that have nothing to do with this post), and he mentions in passing: “There was a big yellow jacket epidemic. They were fashionable in those days.”

Well, yellow jackets have just come back into fashion tonight here at Schloss Bodissey. I haven’t encountered a nest of the buggers for three years or so. There was a lull, but now they’re back.

We’ve been enduring extremely hot and dry conditions in Central Virginia, and Dymphna was outside in the (relative) cool of the evening, watering some of the flowers she planted in the spring. I went with her just for fun, foolishly barefoot and wearing a pair of shorts.

We discovered later that Dymphna had inadvertently dragged her hose directly over the entrance to a yellow jacket nest. The little bastards found me first, and stung me on the back of my knee. As soon as I felt the searing pain — like a hot coal being pressed against my flesh — I knew what it was, and took off across the yard to avoid the second battalion of marauders who inevitably follow the pheromone trail put out by the first sting.

I yelled at Dymphna to get away, to move in the opposite direction towards the pump house. But she didn’t move fast enough, and one of them stung her on the hand.

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The Microscope of Potency

The above title is a reference to the fact that I just returned from my latest appointment with the retinal specialist (for a full explanation of the allusion, see the bottom portion of this post).

The good news is that I seem to have graduated from the School of Eyeball Injections. My condition (wet macular degeneration) has stabilized to the point where, although I will continue to have periodic appointments for scanning and monitoring, I will no longer have to have a needle stuck into my eye every visit. Absent a new vascular eruption, I will only have to endure pupil dilation and the flashing lights of the scanner. No more needles! A real bonus.

Readers who don’t enjoy modern poetry may not want to click below the fold, where I’ve reproduced a poem by Wallace Stevens entitled “Mountains Covered With Cats”. When you read it, the meaning of the title of this post will become clear.*

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Back to Work

My trip to the hinterlands was successful: I now have a temporary part-time gig utilizing the skills of my specialized niche in the programming world. It will eventually be enough to help keep the wolf from the portals of Schloss Bodissey, but not so much as to interfere too drastically with my duties here.

As an added bonus, I got to drive through the beautiful Virginia countryside traveling to and from my meeting. Hurricane Arthur made it a little rainy and windy here and there, but nothing that really interfered with the trip. Although I understand they had it somewhat worse down towards Virginia Beach, and worst of all in Rodanthe, N.C…

Happy Independence Day, everyone. My enthusiasm for the holiday, like Dymphna’s, has become somewhat muted over the past few years. Our government is now openly tyrannical. Flying the flag no longer signifies what it did back when I was a kid.

I’m afraid that the elite usurpers who profess to govern us have forgotten the significance of July 4th, 1776. It may not be all that long before they become reacquainted with its meaning, much to their chagrin.

Their history

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Arthur Heads North & Gates of Vienna Returns from Coventry

Why were we out of business? I have no idea. Henrik did something or other and we’re back. He and the Baron will discuss when the latter returns.

On Fourth of July (tomorrow) Hurricane Arthur should be off the coast of Virginia, bringing assorted weather our way for certain. It had been forecast to remain a Category One but now they’re saying maybe it will move into a Category Two for a brief while during its sojourn past Virginia’s coast. Right now there are lots of passing storms, a breeze mostly from the south, and intermittent sunshine. The temperature has dropped at least fifteen degrees.

We’re about three hours away from the coast – though more like two hours as the crow flies, and hurricanes do use crow flight. In other words, the weatherlies will increase and we’ll get some high winds and rain tomorrow. The rain will be most welcome, the possibility of downed trees not so great. If it is too severe it will delay the Baron’s return until it moves along.

The Baron is having a great time watching the Weather Channel on the TV in his motel room. He gets to see all the forecast models and listen to meteorological geek talk. Why do we like to watch weather so much? How do they keep one channel devoted solely to weather?? Sans TV, I’m watching the live stream from a web camera installed in some inlet in North Carolina; things have picked up in the short time I’ve been watching but the boats there are all safely battened down.

Our beloved Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a part of a long Barrier Reef which runs the length of the North Carolina coast (poking a bit into Virginia), is going to get creamed once again, probably just as Arthur turns into a Category Two. Mandatory evacuations via the state’s ferries is required during one of these super-storms.

The erosion with each new blow means that eventually Ocracoke will disappear, taking a small piece of Britain with it. Hmmm…are Brits like Islam? Bury British bodies on that spot and it becomes a part of Her Majesty’s Empire? The link will show you a few pictures, but I’d recommend doing a Google Image search for more views of the cemetery. We always visited when we were on the Island. To pay our respects, to come smack up against the past, to remind ourselves of our own mortality.

The erosion damage is most apparent on the very thin road that takes one from the mainland to the island. Road crews are always out pushing back the dunes that continue to form as the road washes away. I saw a brief glimpse of it today and the storm is already washing over it. I hope everyone made it off the island – though I have an idea the natives stay home if it’s only a Category Two.

There is a listing of the communities – and a mention of their distinctive “brogue” on this wiki about the Outer Banks. A fascinating place. Yes, it does indeed make me sad to think I will never be well enough to make that long trek again. It’s one of those moments when you wish you could go back to the last time you were there and know at the time you won’t be able to return. But the memories are good ones so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t know…those long bike rides were great fun on the last trip.

Perhaps it’s enough to know our son will continue the tradition since he loves Ocracoke, too.

As for tomorrow, Fourth of July, the annual observance of America’s independence…I think I’ll skip the ceremonies this year. It feels too much like a raw wound at the moment, with little to celebrate.

Whither the Weather

Okay, the Baron is gone searching for some contract work. In his absence, some storms have moved in.

Normally I like the sturm und drang since it provides much-needed rain. And with the B running interference with our internet connection, I just take it in stride when he tells me the connection is out. If the weather is particularly egregious, then he has to talk to the phone company and do things to the gadgets and switches. Oh wait, he does the gadgets first, then he puts in a trouble ticket with the phone company.

His instructions to me, written out and left in three places, concern how to shut down those little doo-hickeys and then how to start them up again and in which order- oh, and how long to wait between knobs. However…

If there’s a general knock-out due to a transformer being hit down the line (actually in our case it’s UP the line, in the nearby mountains), that’s the point where he would call the phone company, but that’s also the point at which he told me, “don’t bother. The techno-talk is annoying at the best of times. If you can call out, get ahold of Vlad so he can notify our readers”.

Strange system. Sometimes it knocks out our phone. Sometimes it leaves the phone alone and takes our internet connection hostage instead. And sometimes the storm rages on and leaves everything intact. This one has a fair amount of lightning in it so I’ll take a pass on standing out in it just to feel the cool. Today the temperature hit 96F with a “feels like” 110. That’s pretty awful, but not near as bad as 13F, with a “feels like” minus 12F.

Speaking of weather: remember that climate alarmist who showed up here not too long ago to frighten us with global warming scary booger stories and y’all jumped on him with science Facts and Figures?

Expect those folks to be sending out great waves of self-satisfied gloats as an early (early by a week) hurricane works its way up the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Arthur will be welcomed here. It’s barely a Category One and it’s wide enough to dump some water inland, lowering the warnings about forest fires.

I Got My Bindle Packed

I’ll be away for a couple days to visit family, and also to look into a possible part-time programming contract. I really need the work, so please send your prayers my way. Or, if you prefer, send your positive karmic vibrations on the astral plane. Whatever works!

There will be no news feed until I get back.

Dymphna will be in charge while I’m gone. Actually, she’s in charge all the time; it’s just more obvious when I’m not here. Just practice saying “yes, ma’am” and you’ll be OK. It works for me.

After the Deluge

As you all know, we just wrapped up the opening week of our summer fundraiser. Theoretically the process will continue all summer until the opening week of autumn fundraiser begins, but last week was the big week. It’s a good thing I don’t have to work so intensely all the time — those eighteen-hour days are grueling.

So what do we call this wrap-up? “Post mortem” doesn’t quite strike the right note. How about “post partum”? We say “antediluvian” for “before the Flood”. Does anyone ever say “postdiluvian”*?

Anyway, here’s a final roster of the locations from which our donors hail. There was a real flurry of first-time donors over the last few days, some of them from places we don’t usually see, such as Mississippi and Thailand:

Stateside: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, W. Virginia, and Washington

Near Abroad: Canada

Far Abroad: Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the UK

A big tip of the Baronial pickelhaube to everyone who made the tip jar clink!

Now we’ll see how things go during the long march of the “Dog Days” this summer. If the interstitial flow swells beyond the trickle we experienced during the previous period, the Steppenwolf may well be kept away from the doors of the great hall at Schloss Bodissey…

* Yes, I know they do. The question was whimsical and rhetorical.

Drinking Your Honour’s Noble Health

Summer Fundraiser 2014, Day Seven

As you all know by now, the theme of this week’s fundraiser is “Curators at the Crossroads”, with me doing the curating and Dymphna looking out at our crossroads. I’ve been attempting all week to explain what my job here involves, and have had a tough time of it — it really is difficult to describe.

Tip jarSo I’ll just let it go. Readers who have been around long enough already know what I do, and what Dymphna does, and why we are asking for donations to help us keep going. To those of you who just got here: Stick around! You’ll soon find out.

Since today is the last day of the fundraiser, I’ll spare you one more explanation of what Being Baron Bodissey means, and let Lewis Carroll do the explaining instead.

As Dymphna mentioned last night, I like to read poetry, and the poems of Lewis Carroll (a.k.a. Charles Dodgson) are among my favorites. The following poem from Through the Looking-Glass is variously identified as “Haddocks’ Eyes”, “The Aged Aged Man”, “Ways and Means”, and “A-sitting on a Gate” by the White Knight, who performs it for Alice.

It’s actually a satire of a poem called “Resolution and Independence” by William Wordsworth. Many of Carroll’s best-known verses were satires of poems that were popular during Victorian times, but have since fallen into obscurity. All that we have left is the humorous echo of them, preserved by the genius of Charles Dodgson.

In the following piece, I play the part of the old man on the gate, while you, our loyal readers, get to hector me for an explanation of what I do whilst thumping me on the head.

On the other hand, the role of the White Knight might also suit me — since he keeps hatching absurd schemes in his head so that he can’t pay attention to anything the old man says.

Here we go:

I’ll tell thee everything I can:
    There’s little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
    A-sitting on a gate.
“Who are you, aged man?” I said,
    “And how is it you live?”
And his answer trickled through my head,
    Like water through a sieve.

He said “I look for butterflies
    That sleep among the wheat:
I make them into mutton-pies,
    And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,” he said,
    “Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread —
    A trifle, if you please.”

But I was thinking of a plan
    To dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
    That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
    To what the old man said,
I cried “Come, tell me how you live!”
    And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale:
    He said “I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
    I set it in a blaze;
And thence they make a stuff they call
    Rowlands’ Macassar-Oil —
Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
    They give me for my toil.”

But I was thinking of a way
    To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
    Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
    Until his face was blue:
“Come, tell me how you live,” I cried,
    “And what it is you do!”

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A Fork in the Road

Summer Fundraiser 2014, Day Six

This fundraiser began with my part being to examine the crossroads we’ve come to, whilst the Baron chose to explain his curator role as the webmaster and coordinator of others’ work. Including mine.

Tip jarAs you know if you’ve been following these money-raising posts, I’ve spent my time on stage (when I wasn’t distracted down other paths) fretting about our finances, which have become rather anemic over time. There is no way I’m ever going to be able to work again. The Baron could get a job locally, but I’d rather he stay chained to his Gates of Vienna desk if at all possible. After ten years’ work, I don’t want to see this endeavor fail just because of a lack of funding.

We aren’t wealthy. A house, a little savings, and our passion to conserve what is good about this country, to delineate what is worth saving here and in Europe. A small host of donors who have faithfully seen us through these lean years and given us a cushion from quarter to quarter.

The Baron’s brain is formidable. One of those rare ones that is equally at home in Math and the Sciences as it is in painting pictures or writing poetry. He’s never been adept at making money, though he certainly never set out to be poor. He just never planned to be rich or secure… it’s not in his character. What a fortunate thing it is he has no vices since he couldn’t begin to indulge them.

What he has always contemplated was how to find ways to accomplish his passion — in his case, in the prime of his life, it was painting. That path closed at the same time it was necessary to send his son to college and voilà, serendipity gave him the opportunity in the form a good friend’s offer of a job. When the door to full-time work closed, we both decided to stay with what we had “accidentally” founded: Gates of Vienna. While we worked toward a more firmly established Counterjihad, we hoped economic times would improve the Baron’s chances of working at least part time in his professional field in order to prop open those Gates. For a long time, those odd jobs did keep coming and, to me, that was an indication we were on the right track. But now those small contracts are also gone as companies cut back to the bone, trying to survive themselves.

Thus this crossroads, which during the course of our current fundraiser has morphed into a fork in the road (or the railroad, considering the image the Baron found for this post). In other words, we’re going to keep on keeping on as long as we can.

Wiser people would probably hang it up, but I know the Baron — as long as he draws breath he will be passionately pushing back against the dissolution and disappearance of Western culture. He also has a son he’s taught well, a grown man now who has also drawn deeply from those same traditions and principles and works in his own way to keep that candle burning.

We all think and believe it’s worth the candle, passionately so. With the Baron’s more deeply grounded knowledge, he leads and we follow. Though in some areas he defers to me — not often! Sometimes I think it can be a burden to know so much about our history since one also is forced to carry a painful awareness of what will disappear without vigilance. If it were simply one age replacing another? Well, that’s merely the flow of life. Bittersweet, but necessary to make way for the next generation.

But that’s not the case now. Between the Islamic love of supremacy and death, combined with their hatred of joy, and the Marxists’ compulsion to diminish individual freedoms in the name of some harshly regimented utopian statelessness, we lovers of all that is Western culture are fighting a rearguard action. But fight we will, not only for life — that ends eventually for us all — but for the preservation of generation upon generation of accumulated knowledge, and especially the freedom to continue to seek that triumvirate of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. There can be no more important task at the moment. At least not for us.

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Project Management

Summer Fundraiser 2014, Day Five

As most of you already know, we’re in the middle of this quarter’s fundraising week. For new readers: this is what we have to do to keep this blog going, in order to avoid taking on annoying advertisements on our sidebar. At least they’re annoying to me, but a number of our readers don’t seem to mind them so much. Which is fortunate, because we may end up having to put them up here after all, depending on how this week (and the following quarter) goes.

Tip jarBut that’s Dymphna’s job. She’s going to look into the ad possibilities while I avoid the whole topic, due to of the fear and loathing I experience when I consider web advertising.

My job, in contrast, is to discuss what it is that we do that we’re asking you to contribute money to help maintain. When I contemplate how to do that, my mind balks, because it’s so difficult to explain.

I wish I could do more writing, but I end up spending most of my time editing texts, communicating, and engaged in project management. A case in point: I’d been trying to write “The Jihad You Can’t See” for five days — I really wanted to — but more urgent matters kept intervening, including this fundraiser. There are a lot of things to do.

What you see posted here (and at other blogs in our neighborhood, such as Vlad, Tundra Tabloids, Snaphanen, and a number of others) is just the published result of what we do. But a lot of other less visible work goes on constantly behind the scenes.

The nature of this enterprise — the necessary work of a decentralized distributed Counterjihad network — means that most projects are parceled out among various people with differing skills. The role of “project manager” is constantly being passed around, depending on the nature of the job to be done. If video production is the main task, then Vlad Tepes or Henrik Ræder Clausen may well be in charge. If a polemical treatise (or even a research paper) needs to be written, I might end up managing it. If a meeting or public conference needs to be organized, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is likely to be the brains behind it.

When any given project is complex enough, the responsibility for project management usually shifts from one person to another, depending on which particular skill is called for. Last year’s OSCE conference in Warsaw may well be the best example of what I’m describing. If you’re not familiar with what happens at OSCE events, see the OSCE Archives.

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Wondrous Things That Won’t Be @ Schloss Bodissey

As y’all know, as part of our Fundraising Week, I’ve been thinking about adverts on our site.

You’ve seen our book links to Amazon on the sidebar, but you may not know I shop for our vitamins, household goods, and garden equipment on Amazon, too.

It’s also a handy place to leave a Wish List for the Baron to peruse since he can never think of what to get me for birthdays and such. When he asks me “what would you like for Christmas, puddin’ lump?”, I can’t think of a thing I need. Thus I took over his Wish List on Amazon so he could simply go there for ideas. Sometimes I add family gifts also because he’s simply too busy to do/think about anything but whatever is right in front of him.

Thus, last Christmas he looked on the list and voila! two weeks later under the tree on Christmas was my wonderful red teakettle… because I remembered to put it on The List. It’s also a handy place to leave things for our house that I’ll forget if I don’t write them down somewhere without losing the post-it note.

Amazon is like WalMart for semi-invalids like me. I mean, I can move around for limited amounts of time; I do a few house and garden chores, and still love to cook. But shopping? No way. I never did like it anyway; those window-shopping expeditions that energize some women were torture, much to my mother’s annoyance when I was a kid. Even then I found the experience exhausting and much to her disappointment, I never “grew out of” my antipathy regarding “browsing” — something I could do at libraries, though. Yes, I realize that if everyone were like me, the economy would soon wither.

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So today, Amazon sent this new ad out to its Frequent Shoppers list. Or its Prime list. Whatever. Bottom line is that its customers can now preorder their Amazon Fire phone.

We will never ever buy this gadget. For one thing, there are no cellphone towers within shouting distance of Schloss Bodissey. For another, we live in the sloooow lane. But for people who like smart phones and who like Amazon and who have a trust fund, why this is probably the bee’s knees. Or the ant’s abdomen.

For me, the specs on this gadget are fascinating. And small Amazon ads might not interfere with Gates of Vienna very much.

Looking at this is a break from thinking about the deliberately malign “humanitarian” crisis our President created on America’s southern border. The most cynical act of an administration marked by extremes of cynical manipulation. Every time I think it can’t get any worse, our President’s nose grows another inch.

Google image search for the crisis on our southern border

The Past as Prologue

Summer Fundraiser 2014, Day Four

“The past is prologue”, right? Well, let’s get our prologues to the Baron’s life as Gates of Vienna’s curator and mine as the fretter observer of crossroads out of the way.

Tip jarI have said that this blog is our “mission”, but that was always qualified by the voices of our audience and team. If ever a point came when there wasn’t enough financial feedback then it would become necessary to figure out our next step.

So that is our crossroads at the moment, and that is what y’all will help us decide. Not an easy task. Women generally speak with a more personal voice than do men, and this post will be no different. The Baron is a reserved introvert and says less about himself generally; I am a flaming extrovert who can say more than you want to hear.

Ah, well. At least there is no confusing us.

The Baron’s Prologue

The Curator has spoken again, and with great clarity accompanied by a wonderful image. I don’t know where he digs up those pictures, but invariably they have a certain élan. Perhaps they succeed because he prefers period pieces, sepia-toned anachronisms. Heck, sometimes I think that’s why he married me.

Now it’s my turn again to stand in the box, though I am one of the Baron’s biggest fans and think he’d do this better. However, since I’m the one who chose to focus on the crossroads it’s up to me to figure out a way to tell you my concerns. Besides, he already carries too much of the weight of this enterprise.

Now he writes effortlessly and well. But at the beginning of GoV, the Baron found it necessary to begin using those old verbal muscles — the ones he’d flexed back in his youth via intensive A-Level studies but even in college hadn’t had occasion to utilize as intensely as would come to be his custom after a few years on this website.

At any rate, when he began to write again after such a long hiatus it was as a commenter rather than a blogger. The ferment was The Belmont Club with Wretchard’s genius for creative analysis. Among the people who commented there, several from that period went on to form their own blogs. We certainly weren’t the only ones in that comment section who felt the need to move off on our own. In all decency at some point one had to stop taking up so much bandwidth on Wretchard’s dime and time. That was way back before Pajamas Media, though.

After all these years of writing so frequently — and sometimes intensively — not to mention his labors as a curator of others’ endeavors, the Baron’s writing has become finely honed. That wasn’t always the case. In the beginning of our joint public writing life he was taken aback by how stiff his written verbal skills had become. For a long time he’d been away from any requirement for that part of his brain — though in a foreshadowing of this work here, we once collaborated on a screenplay. It was his idea and it was his perseverance that saw the project to completion. And, yes, he made it fun — though now if I were to re-read it, I’d be in a frenzy of re-writing while he’d be content to observe an occasional good line or some character delineation he found well done. (One of the best parts of that experience was creating a variety of characters; they weren’t all likeable.)

In our life before Gates of Vienna (which continued more or less the same through the first few years online), a strange and most serendipitous thing happened to the Baron: without so much as a pause between them, he moved from his real vocation of many decades as a painter of rural landscapes straight into a full-time job which utilized his secondary strength as a mathematician and programmer. Suddenly after all those years sitting in the midst of fragrant cow patties he found himself in an urban office setting working as a systems analyst/programmer in the midst of other people. Yes, he landed on his feet quite skillfully, especially considering his introversion.

They tell you not to take a job that requires a new wardrobe, but in his case it was necessary. I doubt his co-workers would’ve thought much of his painting gear (though the jeans were so ripped and painted and worn, he could probably sell them today).

What happened was this: a very good friend of many years, a friend who’d generously bought a sizeable number of the Baron’s paintings over the years, called to ask him to take on a computer job at the company where he hinmself had been for some time. The Baron had kept up his computer skills in the off-season (i.e., deep winter when it was too cold to sit outside). That offer turned out to be serendipitous: after the contract was over, he found other work. This led to a whole new life, one with enough money in it that we lived at a new level; suddenly we were consumers. Not big spenders by any means, just not pinched anymore. I doubt you could have told the difference, really. Except for the clothes. The Baron noticed he was treated more respectfully when he had on a coat and tie. He hadn’t noticed a lack of respect in his painting clothes, but he could feel a discernible response to his costume in public, at, say, a restaurant.

That life of contract computer work and commuting evolved into a salaried job among other groups of congenial people. The Baron was able to pay our son’s way through college and we saw no end in sight for a working life. But all that changed when the private company for which he worked was sold and the new brooms wanted to sweep, as new owners often do. Their main change was to move the senior programmers out of offices and into cubicles — to save rent space on square footage, probably. Years earlier, when the Baron saw others working in that environment, he’d wonder how people had evolved the coping skills required to function in a noisy environment and still be able to do deep thinking. For introverted types like him, he figured it would be torture. In short, the new brooms made a path for him to be laid off graciously. He’d had no trouble finding new work in the previous years and he didn’t think this would be any different.

By then, Gates of Vienna was up and running and the future Baron had fledged and gone. During those fat years before the advent of cubicles, I stuffed money into savings. We’d never had the chance to save before and I investigated every trick I could think of to compile self-employment savings during his contract years, and then those company pension funds during his salaried work. Had I not done that, we would have long ago had to quit the project that has become Gates of Vienna. And then again, our years of living on the edge while he painted had been good preparation for this time when the Wheel would turn again, past the fat years and back here to the lean times. We already know well how to live this way.

Dymphna’s Prologue

While the Baron was busy being a programmer, my own life changed in some radically unexpected ways. Not too long after the Baron became a working stiff, I’d had to leave my job because of severe fatigue. It would eventually turn into full-blown fibromyalgia, though that process took years, and after that years of accepting what it was. I didn’t go down without a “mind-over-matter” fight, but as anyone with this disorder can tell you, fighting it off makes it worse.

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Production Supervisors

Summer Fundraiser 2014, Day Three

The theme for this week’s fundraiser is “Curators at the Crossroads”. Like most joint Dymphna-Baron operations, the topic was a hybrid. Dymphna felt the need to focus on the possibility that we may soon be faced with hard choices about how address the funding crisis at Gates of Vienna. And my idea was to discuss the complex processes at work here — I wanted the people who are being asked to donate to have some idea of what they’re supporting.

Tip jarDymphna and I have arrived at a decision point about what we need to do and how to keep this operation going. But what is actually done here? And, more to the point, who does it?

As I mentioned on Monday, we are now more curators than owners, more managers than authors, more supervisors than entrepreneurs.

The collective endeavor known as “Gates of Vienna” has become a sprawling, eccentric, ad-hoc production facility and clearinghouse for information about the Jihad and the Counterjihad. In order to distribute useful information about what is happening to the West, we are forced to overcome the silence, obstruction, misdirection, and outright mendacity of the mainstream media and our political leaders. To do that we must ferret out material that would otherwise lie buried, organize and collate it, translate and subtitle it as required, and disseminate it in a format that is accessible to a generation that has trouble comprehending any medium more complex than a post-it note.

That’s why video is so important. This is where Vlad Tepes comes in: Vlad has a knack for video, and a two- to five-minute video is the most effective way to catch the attention of members of the Millennial generation. His work is crucial — I often insist that it is more important than anything I do. That’s the reason we assign a tenth of what we receive this week for the upkeep of Vlad.

My primary skills are text and images, while Vlad is adept at audio and video. So we specialize in our collaborations: I write video intros, edit transcripts and supply still images when needed; he cleans up audio, edits video footage, and adds titles and subtitles to the final product.

Although video reaches an audience that is larger by at least an order of magnitude, I still consider text important. There are many old-fashioned people (I admit to being one) who prefer to take in their information that way, and some of them may even be essential for spreading the word in places where textual information still rules.

Images have a propaganda value of their own. A carefully-crafted graphic statement — such as the one at left — can grab attention, excite discussion, and induce viewers to see important issues in new ways. It’s hard to track how much influence they have, because they tend to spread without any link to our blog or any reference to where they came from. One out of every twenty or thirty may have viral tendencies, so I keep churning them out.

But video has the greatest reach of all. A video that goes viral on YouTube may have millions of viewers and change people’s opinions on a topic. Five minutes with Pat Condell or Michael Stürzenberger on video can have a far greater effect than ten thousand words by me — or even Fjordman.

So I give video top priority. Here’s how a typical Vlad-Baron collaboration works:

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