Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Great American Antiwar Novel

Smitten Gate
A few weeks ago an amazing project fell into my lap: an author contacted me to let me know that he is releasing his first novel on Kindle, unedited, having given up on finding a publisher for it. I took a look at his manuscript and discovered that it was a diamond in the rough. The prose was choppy, with major and minor affronts to English grammar, and following no particular style guide at all—but it had plenty of potential! And so I took on the project of transforming it into a polished literary gem and getting it into print.

It is an American antiwar novel. It is written by someone who had a long career in the US military, knows it extremely well and is remarkably able to set the scene and paint the characters. Amazingly for someone who has so far only written nonfiction, he suffers from none of the pathologies that afflict nonfiction authors who foray into fiction. He does not explain or describe—he portrays and he channels. Not only do his dialogues ring true—there was hardly a false note anywhere—but he also reads minds, telepathically inviting the reader into the minds of his characters.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Into the Heart of Darkness

Link to the article

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The October Revolution and You

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It caused a lot of death and destruction, which I won’t go into because you can read all about it elsewhere. It also caused a great outpouring of new art, literature, architecture and culture in general, putting the previously somewhat stodgy Russia securely in the world’s avant-garde. It also resulted in a tremendous surge of industrialization, rapidly transforming a previously mostly agrarian, though gradually industrializing nation into a global industrial powerhouse (at great human cost). But perhaps most importantly, the revolution destroyed all of the previously dominant institutions of privilege based on heredity, class and wealth and replaced them with an egalitarian social model centered on the working class.

And it demonstrated (as much through propaganda as by actual example) how this new model was more competitive: while the West wallowed in the Great Depression, the USSR surged ahead both economically and socially. For all of its many failings, the USSR did serve as a shining city on the hill to the downtrodden millions around the world, including in the USA, fomenting rebellion, so that even there the one-percent ownership class eventually had to stop and think. Reluctantly, they decided to stop trying to destroy organized labor movements, introduced state old-age pensions (misnamed “Social Security”) and declared a euphemistic “war on poverty.” And with that a “middle class” was created—so called because it was literally in the middle, having risen out of poverty but still safely walled off from the one-percent ownership class. But as we shall see this effect was temporary.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

How not to Write a Bestseller

Would you like to be a bestselling author? I know I would! So would many of you, I surmise.

After all, you are all readers, and if you are even slightly ambitious and read lots and lots of books it seems like a matter of time before you begin to think to yourself: “You know, maybe I could do that too!”

And perhaps you could.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Firewalls on Fire

The concept of a firewall is a useful one: if there is a definite chance of something flammable catching on fire and you have to be next to it, then it’s an excellent idea to put a wall of nonflammable material between you and it. Automobiles, for instance, contain the vital ingredients of explosive fuel under pressure, electrical sparks, red-hot exhaust manifolds and humans. Putting a firewall between the car’s engine and the humans in the salon seems like a good one.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, “During 2003-2007 [in the US], the 267,600 highway vehicle [fires] reported per year caused an average of 441 civilian deaths, 1,326 civilian fire injuries, and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. On average, 31 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour. These fires killed one person a day. Overall, highway vehicles fires were involved in 17% of reported U.S. fires, 12% of U.S. fire deaths, 8% of U.S. civilian fire injuries, and 9% of the direct property damage from reported fires.” This would lead us to believe that the firewalls built into cars are no more than 67% effective; still, they seem like a good idea.

I once ended up with a used car—a generally very-hard-to-kill slant-6 Chrysler station wagon—that had been Mickey-Moused by a Middle Eastern car mechanic who apparently liked to kill people, preferably with fire. Whatever material was originally packed between the two sheet metal baffles that made up the firewall (asbestos?) was long gone, and he replaced it with… pine needles! This worked great while the needles were fresh and moist—the engine was quiet and the salon was cool—but once they dried out the engine’s roar started hurting my ears and my feet became painfully hot. I used this car for a while anyway—to haul floor sanding equipment around—then traded it away for a rusty old Fiat which a friend of mine later managed to fold in half—but that’s another story. The guy I traded it to then deposited it in my driveway, with the transmission seized, so the rear wheels wouldn’t turn—how on Earth did he do that? The flatbed driver who then hauled it off to a junkyard told me not to call him again.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Top Five

After the recent marathon writing session, I am taking this Thursday off in order to finish editing and proofreading an excellent new novel by Stan Goff which I plan to publish soon.

In the meantime, I hope that you find the time to peruse the following very popular offerings from the past four years.

It bears noting that this Tuesday’s post, Putin to Western elites: You flunked!—a follow-up to my most popular post ever—has been actively squelched by Facebook (which is, after all, a service of the Western elites) but is still on course with 10000 reads just yesterday.

This, I belive, is normal and to be expected. I know that I am walking a fine line, making use of another man’s public media in nonsanctioned ways—telling people things that they aren’t supposed to know. We should count our blessings that the methods of electronic mind control are as yet imperfect.

I’ll be back next week with a review of some of the most important things you aren’t supposed to know. In the meantime, enjoy...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Putin to Western Elites: You Flunked!

[Tuesdays are free, Thursdays are not; please SUPPORT ME ON PATREON. Minimum pledge is $1/month. And before you ask, no, I don’t work for anyone but my own readers.]

By far the most popular article I ever published on this blog was titled Putin to Western Elites: Play-time is Over. It came out almost exactly three years ago, after that year’s Valdai Club conference, and was based on the speech Putin gave at that conference. It garnered close to 200,000 page hits—more than twice more than the next most popular one—because it pointed out something very significant: a sea change in international relations had occurred, heralding the end of America’s unipolar moment when it could dictate terms to the entire world.

Essentially, in that speech Putin signaled to Western elites that they were no longer qualified to play the game of international relations of today and had to go back to school for retraining. And now, three years later, Putin has issued them a final report card, giving them an F in every category: they have learned nothing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Shape of the Future

I like to flatter myself that the main reason so many people have beaten a path to my blog and keep buying my books is that for over a decade I have consistently guessed correctly at the shape of the future; not all the time, but enough of the time to make people want to pay attention. I try to be very careful in my prognostications. I never predict relatively trivial events such as stock market crashes, shifts in the composition of national governments and other incidents that only happen on paper or on a whim. Instead, I try to focus on aspects of physical reality—flows of energy in particular—that constrain the shape of the future. I also don’t make prediction with regard to timing: whether something will happen is often a question that has an answer; when something will happen is often a question for which no method of finding an answer exists. Bearing that in mind (so that you are not disappointed) I am going to go out on a limb and make a few predictions about the general shape of the future that will materialize over the course of a single human lifetime, and perhaps quite a bit faster.

I believe that the general shape of the future can be guessed at by focusing on the following four factors: weather, energy, population and geopolitics. Let’s look at each one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Limits of Gullibility

The derogatory term “conspiracy theory” automatically gets thrown at anyone with the temerity to question the veracity of stories broadcast by American mainstream media sources: refuse to believe what they are feeding you, and you are automatically branded a “conspiracy theorist.” But what if you refuse to theorize, to impugn, to ascribe, to insinuate or to offer alternative versions, and simply point out that what is being alleged to be true simply isn’t the least bit likely? Of course, anything is possible; for example, it is possible that every single person who reads this article will instantly get hiccoughs. But it just isn’t the least bit likely. If someone were to tell you that everyone who read this article did in fact come down with a case of hiccoughs, I believe that you would be perfectly justified to say “that’s just too unlikely to be true” and leave it at that, without being scorned as a “conspiracy theorist” and without being goaded into providing some sort of alternative account because you are under no obligation to make sense out of anyone else’s nonsense.

The recent massacre in Las Vegas provides a good testing ground for this approach.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Magic Bullshit Decoder

Unbeknownst to most, their brains are a battleground. Those lower down on the intellectual food chain are programmed more or less directly, through a method close to operant conditioning, to engage in status signaling in order to demonstrate their fitness to their peers, mostly by purchasing certain consumer products, while those higher up are manipulated mostly through underhanded uses of language, using a variety of methods, into buying into a fictional narrative and proving their fitness to their peers through virtue signaling. The lower-brow methods of public manipulation, based on television and advertising, have have already been discussed ad nauseam. Not so with the numerous misdirections and fake-outs involving the misuse language: nobody seems to be involved in keeping track of all the major and minor transgressions against our ability to think clearly. Language is what we reason and communicate with, and when the very words we use are twisted and deformed our ability to think suffers also.

Let me walk you through how that’s done.