Big Deal

A big story in media this week is Joe Rogan, host of the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, has signed an exclusive deal with Spotify that could be worth over $100 million.

Joe Rogan’s podcast has been around since 2009, and features long (two hours or more) interviews with personalities from every background and occupation.  The long-ranging, free-flowing conversations (really, they’re more conversations than traditional interviews) make for great listening, and I suspect part of the key to Rogan’s success is that he offers something for everyone.  For example, I ignore most of Rogan’s content, but I’ll never miss an interview he does with any of the various figures on the Right, from Ben Shapiro to Gavin McInnes (persona non grata from Rogan’s show these days, unfortunately).

McInnes describes Rogan as a man with a “blue-collar brain,” but who is generally open to learning.  That is, he’s rather meat-headed and unsophisticated in his analysis, but he’s willing to discuss anything with anyone (Flat Earthers, for example, are regulars on his show).  His only real sticking point, until the SJWs targeted him, was marijuana.  He lost it on Steven Crowder for merely suggesting that copious consumption of marijuana isn’t completely benign.  Yikes!

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500

Well, here we are:  500 days of consecutive posts.  What a whirlwindthe laughter, the tears, the celebrity guest appearances.  We’ve sure had some fun.

500 is one of those beautiful, fat, round numbers that everyone loves—it’s got charisma, gravitas.  Five (5) is a strong number, not like the effeminate four (4), or that weaselly three (3), always so mischievous and ubiquitous.  Nor is five a rotund country preacher—that’s eight (8)—or a couple of street toughs, leaning wolf-like at the corner, eyes peeled for their next mark (7 and 9).  Five isn’t a child, like two (2), and while he’s proud, he’s not haughty like that diva, one (1)—always standing alone.

Couple Five with two juicy goose eggs, and you’ve got a number with some real heft, some real authority.  It’s an auspicious number, one that suggest great longevity and antiquity, yet with some spring left in its step.  500 years is a long time, but, historically speaking, it’s just the beginning (well, maybe—we’ll see if America makes it to 500; we’re not even halfway there and we’re struggling).

When you do an image search for the number 500, you come up with a lot of crummy Italian cars—“Fix It Again, Tony.”  While searching, I also recalled that nonlinear romantic comedy, 500 Days of Summer, which spawned a decade of movies about “quirky” hipster chicks, thus ruining the dating landscape forever (suddenly, being flighty and unreliable became virtues, and none of the would-be hipsters looked like Zooey Deschanel).  Curiously, the Indianapolis, Daytona, or even my local Darlington 500s didn’t show up, at least not in the image search.

So here we are.  But where is here?  Let’s take a look at the State of the Blog:

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To the Moon! Part III: Moon Mining

In this blog’s long and storied history, I’ve been a consistent advocate of space exploration, with a particular interest in lunar colonization.  An enduring frustration of this blog is that the United States has satiated its thirst for exploration with the numbing effects of consumer technologies.  Yes, we can FaceTime one another from halfway around the globe and can set our thermostats remotely so the house is cooled down before we arrive—all wonderful conveniences—but is that truly the apex of human endeavor?  Is being comfortable really the point of it all?

There was a time when we dreamed of exploring the stars, or at least of visiting our nearest celestial neighbors.  But that drive for adventure dissipated—or, perhaps, exploded—sometime in the 1980s.  The Age of The Virus further highlights our society’s obsession with safety, an obsession anathema to the derring-do necessary to explore the stars.

To paraphrase Bill Whittle, we’ll know we’re serious about space exploration when our graveyards are filled with astronauts.

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Flynn Flies Free

A big H/T to blogger buddy photog at Orion’s Cold Fire for sharing Tucker Carlson‘s latest Truth Bomb.  photog helpfully shares Tuck’s summary of the Flynn fiasco:

Michael Flynn’s coerced guilty plea is one of the many puzzle pieces clumsily assembled in the vast coup conspiracy against President Trump.  Our ursuline Attorney General, Bill “The Bear” Barr, has pushed for a dismissal of the bogus case against Flynn.

The commentary from the Left boils down to, “But he plead guilty!”  Yes, he plead guilty, out of desperation, to spare his son from a similar witch hunt—a father taking the fall to save his son.

More importantly, the entire investigation was based on FISA warrants obtained under false pretenses.  If your local police department bust into your house without a warrant and went through your underwear drawer, every judge in the country would throw out the case, even if they found bags of cocaine tucked away with your Fruit of the Looms.

The entire Mueller probe was a farceJames Comey is a sanctimonious a-hole who self-righteously mismanaged the FBI because of his own apparent moral superiority.  Two agents involved in an extramarital affair—presumably our moral betters, or least smarter than the rest of us—plotted the overthrow of President Trump.

And yet they all waltz about, consequence-free, while a military man who served his country was facing five years over a guilty plea for something that AG Barr says wasn’t even a crime!  Per Barr:

[P]eople sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes. … And the Department of Justice is not persuaded that this was material to any legitimate counterintelligence investigation. So it was not a crime

It’s the same situation with Roger Stone, who is literally facing four years in prison for forgetting he sent an e-mail, while other, actual convicts—like slick extorionist Michael Avenatti—are being released from prison because of The Virus.  Stone mixed up some dates while being interrogated as a part of—again—the bogus Mueller investigation.

In both cases, the FBI withheld exculpatory evidence—a clear violation of the right to a fair trial, in which the defense is supposed to have access to all the same evidence as the prosecution.

Our federal justice system is a farce.  Barr made this point in a CBS News interview:

I was concerned people were feeling there were two standards of justice in this country. … I wanted to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There’s only one standard of justice.

But our elites are content to destroy due process and rule of law in order to get Trump, or anyone near him.  They’ll violate the spirit and letter of the law with impunity whenever it suits their purposes.

If there was any justice in this world, the Clintons would be in prison, Ilhan Omar would be deported, and James Comey would be dime-store philosophizing on third shift at the 7-11.

Instead, we’re destroying our economy over the flu and arresting salon owners for feeding their families.

Can we just have an amicable divorce from these weirdos?

The Spectator Turns 10,000

The British libertarian magazine The Spectator reached its 10,000th issue.  It is the only magazine ever to reach this milestone.  It began life as a newspaper in July 1828, becoming a magazine “more than 100 years” later, although it was apparently always a weekly.

Throughout its history, The Spectator took radical positions for the times.  They supported the expansion of the franchise in Britain in 1832, and supported the Union in the American Civil War at a time when many Britons were concerned about the impact of cotton shortages on the British textile industry than they were about slavery (correctly or not, The Spectator cast the American Civil War in moral terms).

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The Tyranny of Experts

A couple of years ago, the bees were dying.  Readers may recall the alarmist news coverage:  soon, we were told, the mass extinction of our buzzy little pollinators would destroy agriculture globally, resulting in widespread famines.  We must save the bees!

Meanwhile, I can’t walk to my car without fat, furry bees hovering around, ensuring the giant Sasquatch before them is just getting into his sensible subcompact hatchback, and not coming for their precious hive.  My yard is a dream for bees (especially before I got the winter weeds mowed up)—they particularly love the azalea bushes—and they seem to be doing fine.

The point is, had you listened to the expert apiarists, you’d think that civilization itself rested on the gossamer wings of black-and-yellow insects.  Sure, there probably is a problem with bee populations declining due to exposure to advance insecticides.  But the intense focus of apiarists in their field blinded them to other considerations.  They saw bee populations declining, and nothing else.

Experts know their fields so well, at times they can’t see the hive for the bees.  The dire prophecies of global bee deaths and the resulting famines never came, and we didn’t declare a national emergency over the decline in bee populations because there are a million other priorities.  We didn’t shut down industrial-scale agriculture to save the bees from insecticide, because to do so would result in millions of lost human lives.  The bees would have to figure it out on their own (indeed, as bee populations fell, beekeepers turned a tidy profit renting their hives to farmers, and that incentive encouraged the cultivation of more bees).

You can see where I’m going with this extended bee metaphor.  In the current coronavirus pandemic, we’ve leaned so heavily on the advice of medical professionals, we’re not considering the broader trade-offs.  The old expression “the cure is worse than the disease” is particularly apt here:  while social distancing and government-sanctioned “shelter-in-place” orders will surely slow the spread of infection and save lives, they will also result in massive economic destruction.

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Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

The Age of The Virus is unprecedented.  Well, not entirely—major plagues and pandemics have swept the world before.  What’s unprecedented this time is the wholesale closure of the most commerce, along with rigid governmental and social admonitions to “social distance” and “shelter-in-place.”  Tin-pot municipal tyrants and State governors are engaged in a virtue-signalling race to see who can curtail liberties more rapidly and completely.

Pointing out this reality opens one to social scorn.  It’s amusing—and a bit frightening—to see the earnestness with which some Americans cling to their new mantras, the articles of faith handed down from the CDC and various government apparatchiks.  Even as our knowledge of The Virus seems to change daily, these public health acolytes cling to the every pronouncement from so-called “experts.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.  Yes, we should be vigilant about washing our hands and avoiding the accidental infection of one another, especially the elderly.

What concerns me is how quickly so many of us have been willing to accept greater degrees of control over our lives in the name of combating an invisible threat.  But now it feels like we’re living in the episode of Sliders called “Fever,” in which a totalitarian CDC cracks down on Los Angeles because, in that universe, penicillin was never discovered.

We’re not at Sliders levels—yet—but with that acquiescence has come an expansion of government power at nearly every level. I am not a libertarian, and I fully expect a robust federal response to a difficult international situation (remember, The Virus came from CHI-NA).  But that doesn’t mean local, State, or even federal authorities can simply hand-wave away the Constitution.

The Framers surely knew disease and death in their time.  When the Constitution was drafted in 1787, there was no capability for directing society with relative efficiency; even if there were, though, they would not have wanted to use it to suspend liberties.  The Framers surely knew there would be plagues and sickness in the United States, yet they included no clause such as “in the event of widespread sickness, these Articles contained heretofore in are, and of right to be, suspended until such time as the Congress shall deem suitable for public safety and the common welfare.”

Yet we see officials at the lowest levels of government telling people not just to stay home, but threatening to shut down churches and other assemblies.  Doesn’t that violate the First Amendment protections of freedom of religion and freedom of assembly?  Again, the prudent approach is for churches to accommodate the health of their congregants with remote services or other workarounds, but shouldn’t they be allowed to hold traditional services if they so choose?

The critics and medical scolds by now are howling with rage.  “What do these gossamer rights mean when we’re dead?”  Is that all anyone cares about?  What happened to Patrick Henry’s fiery cry of “Give me liberty, or give me death?”  What’s worse:  death from worshiping the Lord, or life in a soulless, gutless, freedom-less world?

I’m not alone in my assessment here.  Bill Whittle ripped into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this week, arguing that His Dishonor’s promise to shut down churches that continue to congregate would represent a high-handed assault on the First Amendment.  Even Whittle’s colleague Scott Ott thought Whittle’s defense of the Constitution was a bit rich, basically arguing that the Constitution can take a break during this outbreak.

I’m perceiving similarly expedient arguments among others on the Right.  It’s disgusting how many folks on our side are running like slavering dogs to lap up the crumbs of authoritarianism.  Whittle in the video above makes the compelling point that the Constitution functionally means nothing if any government official at any level can simply ignore its protections.  He also correctly points out that these rights are God-given, part of our very human nature.  No government can legitimately deprive us of them.

Another one of the saner voices is RazörFist, who also sees a great deal of big government chicanery in this pandemic (warning, Razör’s videos often contain strong language):

Z Man has also expressed skepticism about The Virus—or, at least, our draconian responses to it—and has received his share of scorn and dismissal.  But in his post Wednesday, “Fermi’s Paradox,” he made an interesting allusion to E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909.  That short story (which I highly recommend you read—it has the same chilling effect as Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”) details a world in which humanity exists in a state of mindless, perpetual comfort, its every need attended to by The Machine.

In the story, humans have become so accustomed to cloistering in their little cells that they abhor face-to-face interaction, instead communicating via blue discs across great distances.  They are so dependent upon The Machine, they come to worship it (an interesting development, as their society has “advanced” beyond the “superstition” of religious belief—another subtle point from Forster).  They only travel on rare occasions, and avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Eventually, The Machine deteriorates, with disastrous results; I will likely write about the story in more detail next week.  For our purposes, it sounds eerily like our current society:  shelter-in-place, “Stay at Home” (as digital signs on the Interstate tell me, implicitly scolding me for being on the highway), watch Netflix, #AloneTogether, etc., etc.—we’re told to be comfortable and to crave safety and comfort above all else.  They are the highest goods.

We’re through the looking glass here.  I’ve been pessimistic that we’re even living under the Constitution anymore, especially after the intelligence agencies attempted to overthrow a sitting President.  Vestiges and scraps of it still reign, but they seem to be the exception.  And most Americans don’t seem to care, so long as they can watch TV, the WiFi is working, and there is pizza.

We’re no longer the Roman Republic, but we’re not the Roman Empire in the 5th century, either.  We’re more like the Roman Empire in the 2nd or 3rd centuries:  coasting along on the remnants of a functioning system, with a play-acting Congress shadowing the motions of republicanism.

I hope I’m wrong.  Regardless, wash your hands.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973

Yesterday morning over at the blog Nebraska Energy Observer, NEO’s in-house guest writer, Audre Meyers, wrote a short, fun piece about prepping, “The Neo made me do it!,” in which she extolled the virtues of preparing ahead of time for disasters, rather then getting caught up in the frenzied mobs of panicked shoppers.  She wrote about some various and sundry items she needed to top off, including the increasingly-precious toilet paper, because “there are some things I simply refuse to do without!”

In reply, commenter “Scoop” referenced a similar toilet paper shortage in 1973 (and provided a handy link to a piece about the scare in a follow-up comment).  There’s even a documentary about it!

With the obligatory hat-tips squared away, let’s dive into this early 1970s TP shortage—one that mirrors our own mania for clean bums.  What is it about toilet paper—and the threat that it will disappear—that drives Americans to hysterics?

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Lazy Sunday LV: Animals

Coronavirus dominates the news, which makes the news both frightening and boring.  Reporting on The Virus is all over the map.  The media can’t even cut President Trump some slack during a national emergency, such as their egregious misreporting on the efficacy of hydroxichloroquine.

Yes, yes, we know that there haven’t been clinical trials, but hydroxichloroquine is a safe, well-established drugs.  It also bears remembering that most medical doctors are, essentially, high-functioning autists:  they can’t help but sacrifice the good to the perfect.  Thus, their reasoning is, “Yes, it seems to be working very well, but we can’t know for sure scientifically without years of testing.”  Meanwhile, people are suffering, but the anti-malaria drug has proven—anecdotally—to be hugely successful.

We’re Americans:  if it works, it works, even if it’s not the theoretically ideal solution.  That seems to be the divide between our elites, who exist in a world of abstractions (because they can afford to indulge in those abstractions) and the rest of us, who live in the earthiness of Reality.

But I digress.  With the persistent incantations of “social distancing” and “flattening the curve,” I’ve been casting about for some interesting blogging material.  This last week I kept going to animals, for some reason, so why not do the truly lazy thing and just feature the posts about them?

I am no great lover of animals, but I don’t dislike them, as long as they aren’t in my house.  I’ve grown more fond of cats and dogs as I’ve gotten older, though, and I’ve always liked fish, lizards, frogs, and the like.  I even wrote an entire digital EP about unicorns.  I even commissioned one of my former students—a true lover of animals—to do the artwork (I think I paid her $20—too little for the quality) for each song (here, here, here, and here), and my “tour” in 2019 I dubbed “The Year of the Panther.”

All that said, here are some primal posts for your enjoyment:

  • New Mustang is a Sign of the Times” – This post isn’t about animals, per se, but the name of this iconic American vehicle is animalistic.  I’m stretching here, so just roll with it.  The occasion for this post (and last week’s TBT) was Ford’s disastrous plans to make a muscle car into an electric hatchback.  I love hatchbacks and fuel efficiency, but let’s stop taking one thing and making them into another.  It’s like when they make James Bond into a black demiqueer woman.  I don’t care if creators make some interesting new character with those racial and gender qualities, but don’t take James Bond—who I think is supposed to be Scottish—and make him something he isn’t.  Imagine if we made Othello into a white woman.  Come now.
  • Albino Giraffes Poached” – This story is truly sad, as it involves the cold-blooded murder (presumably; maybe some tribal had to eat to survive) of two albino giraffes.  I make some wild accusations against the Chinese, so it’s got everything—beautiful creatures, poaching, and casting broad aspersions against an entire group of people.
  • Tarantulas and the Hygge” – My general philosophy towards spiders is live and let live, with the caveat—“you live as long as you stay away from me.”  I don’t mind a little spider hanging out in some dusty corner of my house, eating up whatever lower-order insects shouldn’t be around.  I don’t mind them hanging around outside (that’s even better!), gobbling up all the nasty things.  But when I look at spiders, I have to imagine they are a form of extraterrestrial life—few of God’s creatures appears and acts more alien than do arachnids.

    That said, this post looked at the piece “Tarantulas: Masters of the Art of Hygge,” from the website Tarantula Heaven.  I’ve learned a lot about tarantulas over the past couple of weeks, and they are truly remarkable creatures.  I’m not going to get one, to be sure, but I have a greater appreciation for them and their various arachnid cousins than I once did.

That’s it for this Lazy Sunday.  Be sure to have your pets spayed and neutered—and don’t let your tarantula out of its tank.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: