Civility and Other Outdated Notions

Time to take notice.

As the public square becomes more and more degraded, as it is consumed by politics (as it once was inflamed by race or religion), it behooves us to pay attention to language. To paraphrase Jordan Peterson, our choice of words is vital to maintaining our own integrity.

Thus, on Gates of Vienna at least, we are going to enforce civility in our comment threads. Civility towards our friends is no problem; courtesy towards our sworn enemies loyal opposition is harder but even more necessary than ever – especially as those on the other side begin to melt in the middle and/or fray around the edges. Let’s take precautions against coming down with their viral infections.

What words will we [edit]? Well, the usual scatological phrases, the ones we learned in the schoolyard but (mostly) knew not to utter in front of the adults. But also scrubbed will be the clever though discourteous ways there are of twisting people’s names or titles. Thus Obummer for Obama is a no-go. So is Shillary for Hillary (and all her variations). Libtard/leftard is another go-to that won’t get through here.

There are lots of sites – Breitbart being one – that don’t moderate their comment threads. You can tell because the IQ level drops precipitously the further down you go into that thread (the permanent Administrative State busy pulling us underwater is not the only Swamp. We have them on the Right, too).

Leftist sites are much worse than Breitbart. For instance, it used to be dangerous to your own personal health to call for the death of a sitting president. Not anymore: you even get to describe your assassination in gory detail, or show up on Twitter holding a papier-maché facsimile of Drump’s head for the camera. Then you’re fêted for your clever double hit. One would be the head, the other would be the twist on his name. No Secret Service agent or FBI employee will show up at your door, as they used to do.

If we’re not careful, we could end up like this doctrinaire leftist who doesn’t understand the basics of the hospitality business in which she is engaged.

“[…]It’s so easy if you just don’t care…”

But at Gates of Vienna we do care. And we request that our commenters abide by our rules for civil dialogue. No doubt you’ve noticed when the words start getting slung around like yesterday’s hash, real dialogue becomes impossible. When integrity remains paramount natural, unforced courtesy blossoms.

Oh, and the comment edits people think Dymphna makes? Guess again. The B tracks the great majority of them. My eyes are worse than his.

Bracket Creep Fundraising

Early Winter Fundraiser 2017, Day Six

Today is the final day of our quarterly fundraising week. For those who have been tardy about clinking the tip cup, there are still 24 hours left! After that, your carriage will turn into a pumpkin drawn by voles.

On my good days — which come and go — cooking and gardening are my favorite activities. With December coming in, my time outside is more limited, though I’m still planting spring bulbs. The skunks don’t eat bulbs, thank Heavens, but the voles sure do. So one of the things I do is bury each one with bone meal (for the bulb) and a healthy dose of cayenne powder in the hole to discourage the voles. Doesn’t hurt the bulb, but it sure does cause the voles some pain. Liberal sprinklings of powdered coyote urine also make them feel unwelcome.

As for cooking, it is the one thing I can do with almost no effort. I’ve been the supper cook in my house since I was ten years old: my mother worked, so I cooked. It was a matter of self-defense, because otherwise she’d come home and fix poached eggs. It wasn’t long before I was doing the weekly shopping. It was a long, hot haul from the grocery store to home.

The B claims I can take a pickle and a glass of water and make a meal for six. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but it’s also the reason why I chose this cartoon: I like to celebrate unlikely food. In this episode, Fat Freddy’s Cat knows darn well his Furry Friends don’t like mouses — he’s releasing them for his own future dining entertainment.

[Remember the late B. Kliban’s cats? My favorite was the one who did the BB King imitation, here. After reading the legalese on that site, it seems one daren’t quote it directly, but that’s still one of my favorite little ditties on cats’ favorite food. It must be the juxtaposition of the lyrics with that BB King-esque blues guitar.]

Tip jarThese quarterly fundraisers are much on my mind when I make my grocery list. How well we do in a given quarter decides the menus for the coming three months. But I’m used to that: being married to a starving artist taught me to make do. In fact, one of our first arguments was in a grocery store: living on very little (I was job-hunting then) meant watching every penny. So we came to the crucial moment of deciding whether to classify parmesan cheese as a necessity or a luxury. The Baron thought it was something we could live without, while I made the case for: “What is the point of living without parmesan for flavor?” Neither of us can remember who won that ‘discussion’. Probably moi — the B is ever a pushover for women’s wantings. Smart man.

I love the things Americans often consider the nasty bits — you know… those tasty entrails. For years I didn’t cook tongue or kidneys or sweetbreads because family members would flee. Now I cook ’em when I can get em’ while still maintaining a standard diet for the Baron and assorted relatives/friends. I love braunschweiger, and I know the difference between it and liverwurst; no one else will eat either one. Oh, well — more for me. Chicken foot broth, anyone? Actually, I prefer to combine the feet with the stripped carcass of the chicken; it makes for a more deeply-flavored broth. I’ve never had prairie oysters, but I’ll bet they make good eating, too.

It was too cold today to work outside so I stayed by the stove, making oxtail soup and pondering this post, this fundraiser… Pondering is a by-product of food preparation in my experience. When the broth was done, I removed the bone and gristle, skimmed the fat for other uses, and made a beef vegetable soup, roasting the vegetables first.

As long as I remove the bones and gristle, the Baron likes it just fine. I saved half the broth to make sweet and sour cabbage later this week. That’s one dish the B really likes, and it’s always better the next day. Once a guest of ours said, with tears in his eyes, that the sweet and sour cabbage I’d served for supper was as good as his Bubbe’s. I was touched by his declaration but made him promise never to tell her that; what grandmother could forgive such a betrayal?

Of late, the flavors of Indian foods don’t appeal as they once did. I’m returning to the comfort food of my childhood, which means that oxymoron, Irish cuisine — or what passed for middle-class food in Ireland when my mother was growing up. Back then, “Irish food” was cabbage, ham, lamb stew, beef brisket. Or shepherd’s pie [these days, I cut the starch by blending mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower]. We seldom had roasts; they were too expensive. But my mother could wax eloquent on the size of the roast in her childhood. Or her mother’s recipe for trifle.

One time her youngest brother, my Irish immigrant uncle who lived with us for a while when he first came to America (my mother was his sponsor), brought home a steak and asked me to prepare it. I cooked it the same way I did every other piece of beef: braised in a thickened broth. In other words, a flatter version of stew. Ummm…it wasn’t a culinary hit; I’d committed the sin of “ruining a nice bit of beef”. To his credit, my uncle ate it anyway and the next day he came home with another steak and showed me how to prepare it properly. My first taste of rare beef! Who knew such a bloody thing could be so good?

Though she was an indifferent cook, my mother took to American foods with gusto. We could (and did) get buckets of fresh shrimp for ten cents a pound. And she loved collard greens with fatback. Grits with eggs and bacon on Sunday mornings. The point of ketchup was lost on her, though. Since it was decidedly American she’d buy a bottle…and after a year or so in the Florida heat it would gum up and turn dark so we’d throw it away and she’d buy a fresh bottle. To this day I’ve never figured it out either; I only use ketchup to make the red seafood sauce the Baron likes. The commercial kind has way too much sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

It must be hard for families today to maintain supper routines. Often both parents work, the kids have sports activities, everyone is connected to a device of some kind. I hope (and literally pray) that children are learning the loving routines involved in breaking bread together every day. Those habits are the mortar that will cement their lives as they grow up and look back fondly at the family of their young years.

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Saturday’s generosity came in from:

Stateside: Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas

Near Abroad: Dominican Republic

Far Abroad: The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Ontario

Australia: New South Wales

The Baron will post a wrap-up of the week (featuring a full list of the places donors came from) sometime tomorrow.

Saturday’s update from the Baron:

Continuing with the Furry Freak Brothers theme, the image at the top is the famous poster of Freewheelin’ Franklin with his big fat doobie.

In my senior year in college there was a guy in our dorm who was a dead ringer for Franklin, right down to the hair and hat. But his schnozz wasn’t quite as big as the Freaker’s.

Those were the days. Sigh…

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After long acquaintance with the New Testament, especially the Gospels, it becomes clear that some of the parables that Jesus told must have been quite humorous to an audience immersed in the language and context of first-century Judea. For example, consider the Parable of the Unjust Judge, as told in Luke 18:2-8 (New International Version):

“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

The widow and the judge were probably both recognizable character types in the context of the time. Widows had very limited rights under Jewish law in those days; that’s why the judge didn’t have to rule in her favor. So she would have been portrayed as pushy and loud-mouthed, and the judge was probably vain, pompous, and haughty.

Who knows what facial expressions and hand gestures Jesus used to mime this story? Did he put on the voices of each character in turn?

It was probably quite a hoot for those who heard it; that’s one of the reasons it was remembered and passed down. But it had to migrate from the original Aramaic into spoken and then written Greek, losing its original flavor in the process. And we English-speakers get yet another translation.

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A Bang Followed by Whimpering… and Silence

Gotta love The Swamp. Now that North Korea (probably) has the capability to fire a missile into our airspace, TPTB have shut down the one governmental organization with the ability to do anything testicular to deter the Fat Boy driving the looming disaster.

Did you think NoKo is going to do something fissionable with its missiles and is going to simply try to “bomb” us? Well, it would seem that’s the intention, but the real problem is the payload on their missiles. All they need is one EMP detonated in our skies (over the East Coast, where lies most of our outdated electrical infrastructure) to send the continent back to say, 1850…and that will mean ninety percent of our population gone within six months or less. One can envision the follow-up: a leisurely walk-through by China. It would be easy-peasy to sort through the pieces of what remained of Canada and the United States.

From The Center for Security Policy [with my emphases — D]:

Inexplicably, just when we need the country’s most knowledgeable and influential minds advising about how to protect against a potentially imminent, nation-ending peril, the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Threat Commission is being shut down.

For seventeen years under the leadership of President Reagan’s Science Advisor, Dr. William Graham, this blue-ribbon panel has warned that we had to protect our electric grid from just the sorts of EMP attacks North Korea is now threatening to unleash upon us. Successive administrations and the electric utilities have shamefully failed to heed those warnings and take corrective action.

Consequently, we could experience on a national scale the sort of devastating, protracted blackouts now afflicting Puerto Rico. President Trump should give Dr. Graham and his team a new mandate as a presidential commission to oversee the immediate implementation of their recommendations.

This disaster happened at the end of September, while the MSM dithered away on their fiddles about the eeevil Trump. Meanwhile, two men who served on the panel appeared in front of this subcommittee to get the views of the panel into the permanent record, i.e. the Congressional Record. If/when it all goes down, their warnings will still exist, if anyone can access them after an EMP explosion:

STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD

DR. WILLIAM R. GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN
DR. PETER VINCENT PRY, CHIEF OF STAFF
COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES FROM
ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND MANAGEMENT EFFICIENCY HEARING
“EMPTY THREAT OR SERIOUS DANGER:
ASSESSING NORTH KOREA’S RISK TO THE HOMELAND”

Here is an excerpt from that “Statement For the Record” [any emphases are mine — D. The footnotes, which have been omitted here, can be found in the pdf linked at the end of this post]:

During the Cold War, major efforts were undertaken by the Department of Defense to assure that the U.S. national command authority and U.S. strategic forces could survive and operate after an EMP attack. However, no major efforts were then thought necessary to protect critical national infrastructures, relying on nuclear deterrence to protect them. With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP.

By way of background, the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack was established by Congress in 2001 to advise the Congress, the President, Department of Defense and other departments and agencies of the U.S. Government on the nuclear EMP threat to military systems and civilian critical infrastructures.The EMP Commission was re-established in 2015 with its charter broadened to include natural EMP from solar storms, all manmade EMP threats, cyber-attack, sabotage and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare. The EMP Commission charter gives it access to all relevant classified and unclassified data and the power to levy analysis upon the Department of Defense.

On September 30, 2017, the Department of Defense, after withholding a significant part of the monies allocated by Congress to support the work of the EMP Commission for the entirety of 2016, terminated funding the EMP Commission. In the same month, North Korea detonated an H-Bomb that it plausibly describes as capable of “super-powerful EMP” attack and released a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing what Russia and China call a “Super-EMP” weapon.

Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to continue the EMP Commission. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would replace the existing EMP Commission with new Commissioners. Yet the existing EMP Commission comprises the nation’s foremost experts who have been officially or unofficially continuously engaged trying to advance national EMP preparedness for 17 years.

And today, as the EMP Commission has long warned, the nation faces a potentially imminent and existential threat of nuclear EMP attack from North Korea. Recent events have proven the EMP Commission’s critics wrong about other highly important aspects of the nuclear missile threat from North Korea:

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About Our Beta Mode Connectivity [UPDATED]

Update February 23, 11:30am: Just to let you know the status on our communication problem:

For the moment all is well. Yesterday, our connection kept flipping in and out, along with our phone line. Sometimes they will fail separately, sometimes together. But this problem has persisted for days now, and affects both phone and computer connections. Not good.

Normally, with a disconnect that goes on and on, flipping in and out, each new green light means a new IP address and with each, the B has to do fiddly things with the modem and/or router. Things I refuse to internalize since I’m saving any remaining space on my neuronal hard drive for important things, like remembering the tricks for a good hollandaise.

The line was down again last night when we went to bed. So first thing this morning we checked our status and it was both systems “Go”. Same IP address as last night and holding steady. So maybe it’s fixed. If not, the B, being a systems analyst and an observant fellow, may have found the problem a mile or so down the road. He’s hoping the phone company has also found it and done the repairs. But if our line goes down again today, he’ll “attempt to find someone at the phone company who speaks English well and is in possession of more than three brain cells.”

Stay tuned…

Mea culpa to those commenters who think their prose is being held hostage or (in some cases) dropped down a mine shaft so deep we can’t hear them land…

Not so. It is our hot-wired-tin-cans internet connection that is to blame. No Drudge, no Bad Blue, no you. I had even almost finished a thank-you note, an extravagant note, but the mail train just whizzes on by, missing our hook… for those of you who remember movies about mail trains, that will make sense.

They promised to have this sucker fixed by tonight. And it has been fixed numerous times since they promised; it just won’t stay fixed. So by tonight, the B will have to call in another trouble ticket but this time he demands the supervisor. Does that help? Who knows? It’s the satisfying feeling one gets in demanding the next level up from the peon…

Our electric company is trying to interest some money people in helping finance connectivity through the electric line as a competitor to this one, which comes via our phone. Competition being what it is, that would send the phone company scuttling to improve whatever they’re using now to provide service. For sure, the phone company’s competition with the satellite offering was a big improvement for us, and a whole lot cheaper, too.

I read where Amazon is going to start some kind of service to Africa. They said the developed world is already well-connected so they won’t be competing here. Too bad. In some areas of our county, it does look rather third-worldish, but with greenery.

The Catholics among you can offer this deprivation up for the suffering souls in Purgatory; they’ll be grateful. I don’t know what to suggest for the Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, or atheists, though. My narrow little childhood ghetto didn’t extend that far.

Hmm… so who’s the patron saint of telephony, pray tell?

Trouble With a Capital “T”…

…Which in this case stands for “Telephony”.

I thought our phone/internet problems had been fixed, but they haven’t. Last night the line went dead again for a while (twice), and then this morning when I woke up it was out. I’m grabbing this opportunity to let y’all know why we may appear to have stalled here today. If your comments don’t get approved for long periods, you’ll know why (Dymphna is catching up with them as I write this).

I’ve filed a “trouble ticket” with the phone company (Slogan borrowed from SNL circa 1977: “We don’t care. We don’t HAVE to care. We’re the phone company.”) and they’ve promised us that the problem will be resolved no later than tomorrow evening (February 22). So we’ll see…

A Crisis of the Intertubes

The Winter Fundraiser is over, so I had big plans for today. I was going to catch up on some of the things that were delayed last week because of the bleg. But then Murphy intervened, big time: Our phone and Internet service went down, and stayed down for hours, thwarting my good intentions.

At the very least I’ll post a summary of the places where all our donors came from during the fundraising week. Among the last-minute arrivals was a gift from Hawaii, which Dymphna and I think may be the first one ever from Obamaland. There was also one from Yukon Territory, which is kind of cool. How many people are there in Yukon, anyway? Maybe half a million?

The List:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Yukon

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria

I’ll post a news feed tonight, but probably not much else.