You Get What You Pay For

In May I participated in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Pure Silk Championship at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, not as a player (my golf game as much as my gender disqualified me) but as a volunteer. The LPGA is dependent on hundreds of volunteers to pull off their tournaments. Volunteers man signs identifying the players and their score, shuttle players around in golf carts, check admission tickets, etc. Volunteers receive a logoed shirt and cap and free lunches, in return for paying $120 for the privilege of contributing their time. If a volunteer completes the required three 6-hour shifts, he also gets a free round on the resort’s fabled golf course (they’re all “fabled” to Golf Channel commentators.).

I had followed the LPGA off and on ever since my wife and I watched Annika Sorenstam, a legend of the game with 72 victories over her 13-year career (versus Tiger Woods’ 82 in his 25-year and counting career), win her first victory at the US Women’s Open in 1995. We’ve been to 4 or 5 tournaments since, favoring the LPGA over the PGA as the admission fee is substantially less and the golf just as astounding. It’s a pleasant way to spend a day midst beautiful surroundings and golf is the only sport my wife really understands, her understanding beginning and ending with the knowledge that whoever gets the ball in the holes with the fewest strokes wins.  

These days I’m addicted to ladies golf (a less harmful complication brought on by pandemic lockdowns than killing one’s cellmate). So, unable to attend tournaments as they aren’t allowing spectators these days, I decided to volunteer. As soon as I arrived at Kingsmill, I dropped by the volunteer tent at the practice range where I would be working to say hello to the man in charge, Dave Hamada. Dave, I learned, is something of a legend in the ladies golfing world. After retiring at 51, Dave puttered (pardon the pun) at various charitable pursuits before settling on following the LPGA around as a volunteer. He has now volunteered at some 200 tournaments. Dave runs a tight but amicable ship, our duties boiling down to making sure the players have plenty of balls to practice with.

As I was leaving the range, I noticed a cart about to depart and thought “How nice of the resort to provide shuttle service.” As I walked towards the cart, the young lady in the back seat moved over to make room. We had a nice chat in broken English (she was Korean) on the way to the putting green. I learned later that the carts are for players and their caddies only. My breach of tournament etiquette could have gotten me escorted off the premises as they are pretty uptight about protocol at these hoity-toity events.

And for good reason. Most of the volunteers are post-menopossible (pronounced mē-no-possible) men, some a bit grubby (The number of “balls” jokes exchanged belied the many years since these guys had been in junior high!). As you might imagine, the DOMs were giddy to be hanging out with young, mini-skirted females—many barely out of their teens, some not yet. Fraternizing with the comely is strictly forbidden, and, so far as I experienced, my fellow letches acted impeccably. My ride with the friendly Korean golfer led me to muse whether the reverse is true. Do some of the duffers who do not even cover their expenses (half the players in a tournament do not “make the cut” and so have no share in the prize money) have less interest in the golf match than in match-making, i.e., latching onto some well-heeled, silver-haired member of the country-club set (preferably with a heart condition) with the prospect of marriage (and a green card)?

Getting back to business, so to speak, my first assignment was to run balls collected by a volunteer driving a contraption which picked up hit balls from around the range through a ball-washing machine. The first time I did so, I neglected to put a basket under the spout the cleaned balls came out of, resulting in balls scattering all over the floor. On my second run I again neglected to put a basket in place and some of the balls spewing out rolled to the feet of the tournament’s Director of Volunteers, an officious, unsmiling type who failed to see the humor in the situation.

I recycled the now dirty balls, then carried the two baskets I had washed to the volunteer tent. I was about to start my third run when a colleague brought one of the baskets back saying the balls in that basket had not been cleaned. I was confused as I distinctly remembered running two baskets through the machine, but less distinctly remembered I had washed one basket twice because of my technical glitch and the other not at all.           

I was relieved of my ball-cleaning duties at that point and transferred to a task Dave thought I might better handle: collecting balls at the far end of the range that went too far awry for the ball-scooper to pick up. No sooner had I arrived on post than I realized I needed to pee and so trudged the 300 yards back to the porta-potty near the volunteer tent. His highness, the D of V, asked why I had abandoned my post and, when I explained, uttered not a word, just frowned. I later heard him berate the scoop driver for taking a pee break without asking his permission first.

The next day when I was about to head to the outback again, one of my colleagues jokingly reminded me to pee first, but I felt no urge and so ignored the suggestion. Ten minutes into collecting wayward balls I got the first inklings (more like tinklings) of nature’s call. I wasn’t about to suffer the humiliation of an urgent return to the john again, so I applied my home remedy for such emergencies: farting. That provided temporary relief, but I soon felt a few droplets leaking involuntarily from my bloated bladder (I vowed to swallow my pride and wear a Depends next time).

After an hour of dancing in place, I saw Dave carting out to see how I was doing. I hoped he was going to relieve me (amazing how many puns can be derived from a simple bodily function), but I was disappointed. As he drove off, I noticed what I took to be a few drops of effluent had actually been a gusher that had left a conspicuous dampness in the crotch of my pants. Mindful that a friend had almost been tried as a sex offender for peeing in the bushes at a closed rest stop on the Jersey turnpike, I took my chances and did likewise. For the next hour, I sat with my legs widespread to encourage evaporation, hoping the telltale mark would disappear before I finished my shift and returned to the volunteer tent.  

By the time I was relieved the air-drying had worked; but, from the barely concealed grins of my fellow volunteers as they snuck a glance at my nether region, I concluded Dave had noticed the wet spot on his visit downrange and mentioned my faux passing. I suspected the heartless crew had encouraged him to prolong my shift to add to my no-pot-to-piss-in dilemma. If this was the case, I felt sure I had become something of a legend in my own right: The LPGA’s  “Most Indecorous, Incompetent, Incontinent Volunteer”. Maybe if word got around, I consoled myself, the next time I applied to be a volunteer they would pay me to withdraw my application.   

A Crime Against Humanity

If Covid-19 had originated any where in the United States, and was covered up as thoroughly as it has been by the CCP, the USA would be facing Charges of Crimes against Humanity by a rightfully angered World.

So wrote someone who goes by the moniker “Shadowdust” in commenting on an article about the origin of COVID-19.* He’s right, so let’s consider what the punishment should be if the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a lab from which it was leaked accidentally (The possibility the release was intentional will not be considered here as the punishment in such a case is clear: a war crimes tribunal**). I will expand on the scope of Shadowdust’s indictment by including the possibility that the virus originated in the United States; specifically, at the US Army biolab at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.***   

Clearly, any nation which is responsible for committing actions (outside of war) which result in harm to another nation or nations owes the inflicted nation(s) compensation. This debt is generally accepted and paid when the extent of the damage is measurable and the nation responsible for the damage is clear. For instance, when the United States shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988 and when Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner in 2020, compensation was paid by the hapless marksmen. When the harm inflicted is less quantifiable and involves many countries, the question of compensation becomes more complicated. No compensation was received, for example, from the Soviet Union by European countries adversely affected by the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in 1986.

Compensation for pandemics is problematic not only because of the difficulty in calculating damages but even more so because of the difficulty of determining how and where a virus originated.**** Moreover, the nation where Patient Zero is found to reside is not to be held to account if the virus evolved naturally and was transferred to humans zoonotically, i.e., from an animal. So, understandably, China was not held liable for the outbreak of the original SARS virus in 2003 or Saudi Arabia for the MERS virus in 2012. 

But for the purposes of this discussion we are assuming the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a lab and that the lab will eventually be identified. In this case, it is vital that the country whose lab turns out to be the culprit is held accountable. Many countries are engaged in gain-of-function research involving pathogens and leaks from biolabs have been frequent.***** If such research is allowed to go on as it has in the past, another pandemic—likely worse than the present one—is a certainty.

For this reason, a reliable process for determining where a virus came from must be devised and an international body established to assess damages and see that compensation is paid, should a leaky lab cause an outbreak.  Those who engage in research involving dangerous pathogens must work in fear of the onerous penalty their country will incur if they are careless, overconfident, or nefarious, especially if the research engaged in is for creating a “politically useful tool”, as one group of prominent sociopaths described bioweapons which target a specific genotype.  

That either of those precautions should come to pass is probably pie-in-the-sky romanticism. As long as the world is divided into competing nation-states, fear, greed, and myopia will inexorably cause those in power to seek to turn the latest scientific advancements into better ways to kill and destroy, no matter what international agreement prohibits it. Recall that the major European powers outlawed the use of poison gas in warfare through the Hague Convention of 1907—a decade before they all used the heinous weapon during World War I. Even after the ghastly, gaseous horror of that war, we produced so much chemical weaponry during the second global conflict that we still have not destroyed our entire stockpile, as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997.  

But maybe there is hope, given the stakes. Can you imagine the moral turmoil those in the know must be going through right now, as they struggle to decide whether to remain silent out of loyalty to their country or to spill the beans out of love for their fellow man? May wisdom, courage, and compassion be their guide as they choose which path to follow. We are all counting on you.

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* A footnote, amusing to those of us who have sometimes run afoul of the Inquisitors: With all the current hullabaloo about a leak from the lab in Wuhan,  Facebook announced it has reversed its longstanding ban on claims the SARS-CoV-2 virus was man-made. (Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to delete.)

** But with fewer defendants than at Nuremberg. I suspect no more than a dozen or so cognoscenti at the apex of our power structure know fully what is going on at the US Army lab at Ft. Detrick, Maryland. The same is probably true for China and its labs. Note that the cognizant elite in this country does not necessarily include the Commander in Chief. When Trump was President, what responsible Deep Stater would have enlightened that blabbermouth? Even Obama may have been kept in the dark, though for a different reason: his irrelevancy. To borrow from Churchill, never in the field of human conflict have so many been put in such peril by so few.

*** The evidence that the virus may have originated at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Ft. Detrick is part circumstantial, part incriminating. The circumstantial evidence includes: (1) the date of the earliest known case of COVID-19 keeps getting pushed back to well before the disease appeared in China, (2) Trump reinstated funding for gain-of-function research at Ft. Detrick and USAMRIID is known to work with coronaviruses, (3) Ft. Detrick is demonstrably leaky—remember the post-911 anthrax scare?, (4) our refusal to allow an independent body to investigate Ft. Detrick’s possible culpability, (5) the near universal ban in our media of even suggesting Ft. Detrick should be investigated, (6) our failure to thoroughly investigate when the virus first appeared in this country. The incriminating evidence (fully substantiated, unlike most of the charges levelled against the Wuhan lab by anonymous intelligence sources who provide little or no evidence to back up their claims) are: (1) USAMRIID was closed down for safety violations in August 2019, shortly after some unidentified pathogen killed a dozen or so at two nursing homes in Virginia and the lab remained closed until November— the exact period when SARS-CoV-2 made its appearance, (2) A handful of US military personnel were treated for some ailment, possibly respiratory, at the World Military Games held in Wuhan in October 2019, (3) A memo warning that China was in the grips of an epidemic made the rounds in the Pentagon even before the Chinese were aware of their plight. Hardly a smoking gun, but enough to justify an investigation (and as much as there is indicting the Wuhan lab!).     

**** I am personally invested in a theory about how Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014. The official line is that some bat flew thousands of miles from the Congo—the only place Ebola had previously been known—to West Africa and infected some bat-eater (without infecting anyone along the way!). Just a month before the outbreak, a Canadian company, Tekmira, began field-testing a treatment for Ebola they had developed. To test a treatment, seems to me you need some patients with the disease. If it’s ever revealed Tekmira’s testing took place in West Africa and involved infecting locals with Ebola, I’m going to get insufferably smug. (See https://1drv.ms/w/s!AlN0wDRkG73zgtkvq1ifGkSiAJjBSw?e=rF3afK)      

***** In July 2019 Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey attached an amendment to the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2020 requiring the Pentagon to reveal what research was being done at its lab on Plum Island, New York as Smith suspects ticks purposefully infected with the virus which causes Lyme Disease came from that lab . The amendment was deleted from the final version of the NDAA, passed in December 2019, perhaps because by then some realized the possibility of any leak from an American lab could become a touchy subject in the near future. Nevertheless, the indefatigable Rep. Smith keeps pushing for an investigation.

The Irony of Zionism

In 1896, Theodore Herzl, an Austrian Jewish journalist, published the pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), in which he proposed the solution to anti-Semitism was for the Jews to have their own state. “The Jewish Question”, as it was known to both Jews and Gentiles, was framed by Herzl thusly: “”The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level.””

Not an observant Jew–in fact, an atheist—Herzl was not particular as to where such a state should be founded (early on he argued in favor of Uganda); but the Jews’ millennia-old attachment to their former homeland (“Next Year in Jerusalem …”) led inevitably to the Zionist movement settling on Palestine for their exercise in state-building. Rallying behind the slogan “The people without a land for the land without a people”, Jews began emigrating to Palestine, especially during the British Mandate for Palestine (1922-48).

The Zionist movement had gotten an initial boost in 1917 when Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, declared, “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.” Curiously, Balfour is considered by many Jews to have been an anti-Semite. He once opined that the Zionist movement would “mitigate the age-long miseries created for Western civilization by the presence in its midst of a Body [Jews] which it too long regarded as alien and even hostile, but which it was equally unable to expel or to absorb.” Not surprisingly, when Britain passed a law meant to restrict the immigration of Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia, Balfour, then Prime Minister, was instrumental in getting the law passed.

This is the irony of Zionism, that it shares with anti-Semites the desire to rid the countries of the world of their Jews, the Zionists’ hope being to ingather all Jews in a state of their own; the anti-Semites’ desire being to make their country devoid of Jews without regard as to where the Jews end up. This shared interest led some Zionists to collaborate with the most notorious proponents of making a country Judenrein, offering the Nazis Jewish financial support in return for their facilitating the emigration of German Jews to Palestine.   

Is the support Zionism receives from so-called Christian Zionists—primarily Evangelicals—equally suspect? Is their devotion to Israel heartfelt, believing the Jews return to their homeland is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, a precursor to the long-overdue Second Coming, or are they just desirous to remove infidels—in this case, a people who deny the divinity of Christ—from Christendom? Could it be that, as with the more secular anti-Semites, the faithful are motivated more by the prophecy found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion than that in the Old Testament?

With rockets reigning down on Israeli cities as never before and Arabs under Israeli control—long quiescent—protesting their second-class citizenship, do Israelis feel time is not on their side, even if the direction in which the wind is blowing is not yet as clear in their case as in the case of our rivalry with China. As the suffering of Palestinians becomes increasingly manifest, might the invocations to charity in the New Testament cause Christian fundamentalists to conclude Israel may not be what God has in mind regarding the Jews return to Zion? Might such considerations—more immediate than biblical prophecy—lead to a mass exodus of Israelis to what has been the Promised Land for so many of their co-religionists: the United States. If so, might the resolution to the Palestine Problem advocated by the Arabs ever since a plan to partition Palestine was debated in the UN, namely, the establishment of a secular, binational, democratic state in all of Palestine, finally come to pass, ushering in an era of peace in the land holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike?    

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It’s a sad commentary on man’s imperfection that as the victors in WWII were prosecuting at Nuremberg those who had engaged in ethnic cleansing in Europe, they ignored the ethnic cleansing being perpetrated at the same time by those who would make Palestine Arabrein, a cleansing which resulted in almost half a million Palestinians becoming refugees (putting the lie to the “land without a people” claim). Those responsible took pride in their role in causing this modern Exodus. In his autobiography, Menachem Begin, the leader of a terrorist group at the time of the Nakba (Catastrophe), as the Palestinians call it, and later a Prime Minister of Israel, boasted, “In a state of terror the Arabs fled, crying ‘Deir Yassin’”. (Deir Yassin was an Arab village where Begin’s gang, the Irgun, murdered 200 or so Arab men, women, and children and stuffed their bodies down a well, a month before the British Mandate for Palestine ended and Israel came into being.)

The Lesson of a Tragic Death

As is their wont, the media is missing a great teaching moment with their cliche-ridden, moralistic coverage of the killing of Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old girl killed by a policeman last Tuesday. The Washington Post provided a classic example of such coverage on Friday, the headline saying it all: Ma’Khia Bryant’s family remember her as loving, affectionate: ‘She didn’t even have a chance to live her life’. Yet another tear-jerking story of an exemplary young person cut down in the prime of her life by a trigger-happy cop, complete with grieving family and publicity-craving office-seeker. No mention of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, which I believe in this case are particularly instructive.

Miss Bryant had recently moved into the foster home she charged out of wielding a knife. Her sister was also living in the home. Why did her mother, who has three other children, put the two girls into foster care?   

When I put that question to someone close to my heart both emotionally and physically, she replied “probably a drug addict”, her unsympathetic reply making her the posterchild for the “systemic racism” supposedly endemic in America. Her assumption is especially significant because she did not grow up in this fair (double entendre) land, but in a country with no history of African enslavement, no Black underclass, and hardly any Blacks in residence. Moreover, she is by nature a compassionate person with no inherent animosity towards any person or group (well, maybe one). So, the racist contagion infecting her brain she acquired in this color-plagued country.  

There are other questions than the one I posed to my housemate that the media might seek to answer, instead of just giving voice to hollow platitudes and holier-than-thou outrage. Is Ma’Khia’s mother employed? If so, how much does she make? Why did she place two of her five kids in foster care? Where is Ma’Khia’s father? Is the foster parent a relative of Ma’Khia? If the answers to these questions are that Ma’Khia’s mother works two jobs but still does not earn enough to house and feed her daughters properly, so she placed them in foster care; that Ma’Khia’s dad dotes on his daughters but is in prison for some petty crime committed in trying to provide for his family; that the foster mother is Ma’Khia’s grandmother, who shares her home out of love for her grandchildren. If this is Ma’Khia’s story, the media could perform the social good they are tasked with by making these facts known. It would go a long way towards correcting the prejudicial assumptions of many more than just my cohabitant.

Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in the South, I had little contact with or awareness of the Black residents of my hometown, Dallas. There was the maid who showed up at our door every morning after an hour-long bus ride from the other side of the Trinity River where the Blacks lived. The Thanksgiving food baskets my high school (still segregated in 1962) distributed to the poor went to Whites in West Dallas, not even poorer Blacks. Despite being engaged in the single-minded pursuit typical of a teenage boy with raging testosterone, when I walked the streets of downtown Dallas, the pretty black girls passing by were invisible to me. College at an Ivy League school, where my class of 800 included three Blacks, did little to expand my knowledge of African-Americans.

A few years after college—late in the turbulent decade of the 1960s when so many were experiencing awakenings of one sort or another—I read Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice. Cleaver’s moving autobiography, fraught with the hardships experienced by Blacks in this country, literally brought tears to my now widely opened eyes. The insight I gained about what it means to be Black in America—while still superficial—was a revelation. (For those of you too young to remember, Cleaver was a leader of the Black Panthers, defenders of their race whose armed militancy attracted the lethal attention of the FBI).

I think many Americans would experience the same epiphany if the media provided an informed, dispassionate description of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, instead of offering us a morality play with a victim as pure as driven snow (metaphorically speaking) and a brutal villain clad in blue instead of black (In my opinion, the police officer deserves a medal for reacting so quickly to a chaotic, potentially fatal situation).

On the other hand, if investigative reporting revealed that Ma’Khia’s mother receives a welfare check ample to provide a decent living for her kids were it not for her drug habit; that Ma’Khia was a troubled, obnoxious teenager her mother couldn’t handle; that Ma’Khia’s father and the fathers of her siblings abandoned their offspring even before they were born and could be found on the corner dealing drugs, at a liquor store tanking up, or behind bars for some vicious felony; and that the foster mother is a nasty shrew who doesn’t care a hoot about the children under her care, just the monthly check she receives from the government for housing them, the story of Ma’Khia Bryant would still be a teaching moment (and I would owe my wife an apology for overreacting to her astute speculation).            

If this is the story behind the Ma’Khia Bryant incident, rather than the rosy picture I painted earlier, and you are inclined to attach a race-centric interpretation to it, I encourage you to read J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, in which he describes the same semiliterate, violence-prone, drug addicted, broken-family, crime-record lifestyle of the Whites he grew up with in Appalachia as Cleaver chronicled with regard to ghetto Blacks . The conclusion which should be drawn is that the dysfunctionality manifest by both our Black and Hillbilly subcultures has a common cause: poverty. This is the issue Ma’Khia’s sad fate should cause us to address.

It would help if we would start by recognizing that police work is inherently dangerous (that’s why they carry guns) and they make mistakes just like the rest of us (sometimes tragic ones, because they carry guns). I suspect that even if the number of Blacks killed by the police each year was reduced to zero, it would not reduce the number of Blacks incarcerated in our prisons by so much as one father, husband, brother, son. Ending the poverty that spawns criminality in the Black and Hillbilly communities—as in any other community so afflicted—would go further towards reforming the police than any of the proposed reforms I’ve heard of, and would make the job of the police mundane, amicable, and safe for all.

EZENGLISH – A Difficult Language Simplified

Let’s face it. English is a bastardized language, a hodgepodge of idiosyncrasies, exceptions to the rule, and just plain nonsense, born of the multilingual addenda contributed by the diverse peoples who have invaded, occupied, ruled or been ruled by the “scepter’d isle”: Britons, Celts, Romans, Germans, Scandinavians, Normans, and most recently the polyglot ex-colonized of the British Empire. Those of us born in an English-speaking land can count our lucky stars and only marvel at those less fortunate who have somehow mastered our garbled tongue as a second language.

Despite its absurdity, English has become the global lingua franca (If only Spain had been in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution instead of Great Britain!), but there are still many out there unfamiliar with even the language’s simplicities, much less its complexities. Some of them may have an immediate need to be able to communicate in English, if only at the most rudimentary level; for instance, the tourist about to embark on a trip abroad, the businessman about to attend an international conference, the hostess about to welcome an English-speaking guest, or the grandparent about to be visited by an English-only grandchild. 

For such, I believe I have come up with an approach by which they can acquire a basic facility in English as quickly as possible. The secret lies in simplifying (some would say further bastardizing) the language. I have applied this approach in developing a course I call “Ezenglish” (pronounced in three syllables). The course, which I envision being taught in 10 one- to two-hour classes over two weeks, incorporates the following simplifications:

(1) The definite and indefinite articles are not taught. Though sometimes useful, intelligible English can be spoken without the use of articles, so why perplex the student with rules about when to use “the” and when to use “a”, an understanding even advanced students find hard to master.

(2) With regard to verbs, only the present, past, and future tenses are taught. Except for the ubiquitous and vital verb “be”, whose full conjugation is taught (“I am, you are, he is …”), the “s” form of verbs in the Third Person Singular Present Tense is not used (“He go”, instead of “He goes”). The past tense of all verbs—even irregular ones (except “be”, “have”, and “do”, whose proper past tense forms are taught)—is formed by adding “ed” to the verb (“They growed”, instead of “They grew”). The future is only expressed by using the auxiliary verb ”will” (“We will go tomorrow”, not “I am going tomorrow”). The present participle (“ing” form of verbs) is taught, but only in its usage as an adjective (“sleeping baby”) or noun (“Camping is fun”).

(3) With regard to nouns and pronouns, noun plurals are formed simply by adding “s”, i.e., irregular plurals are not taught (“mouses”, not “mice”). All pronoun forms are taught, except the possessive pronoun (“It is their book”, but not “Book is theirs”).

(4)  With regard to sentence structure, negation is expressed simply by placing “not” before the verb (“I not goed with Sally”), except for “be”, “will”, and helping verbs (“can”, “must”, etc.), where the “not” is placed after the verb (“I am not hungry”). Questions are formed by placing the verb before the subject (“Finded you your book?”). In the case of verb phrases, only the helping verb comes before the subject in questions (“Can you find your book?”).

(4) With regard to modifiers, only “more” and “most” are used for comparison, not the “er/est” forms (“He is more tall than her”; “He is most tall”), except for the important adjectives “good” and “bad”, whose comparative/superlative forms are taught (“Tom is better student than John”, “Mary is best student”). Adjectives always come before the noun they modify; adverbs always after the verb they modify (“triumphant army”, but not “army triumphant”; “He solved it quickly”, but not “He quickly solved it”).

Further simplification lies in just not teaching many facets of the English language, such as the indirect object, progressive tenses, passive voice, etc.    

No prior knowledge of English, or even a familiarity with the Latin script, is expected of the Ezenglish student. Consequently, the first lesson in the course teaches the Latin alphabet, as used in English. The next two lessons—the most difficult in the course, requiring considerable outside-of-class practice by the student—cover pronunciation. The remaining lessons are on the elements of English covered in the course: sentence structure, pronouns, verbs, modifiers, prepositions, and clauses. (Note: For those already with a grounding in English or who anticipate spending the years of study required to gain fluency in the language, a course teaching proper English is more appropriate.)  

So far, I have advanced my project to the point of having written a 10-lesson course manual and launched a website (www.ezenglish.site). In addition to describing the course, the website provides teaching aids, including videos on pronunciation and lists of irregular noun plurals, irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and common English words, which students can use to improve their English on their own after completing the course.     

The next step is to “beta test” my concept. To do so, I am ready to provide 10 free copies of the course manual to any bold, enterprising instructor who commits to recruiting the students and teaching the course. Would you like to be the first to teach a class in Ezenglish?

The Orange Peril

Back in the 19th century Americans lived in fear of the Yellow Peril: a fear of the country being flooded with pig-tailed, sallow-skinned Chinese. So, once the Chinamen had helped build our first transcontinental railroad, we banned further immigration from the Celestial Empire. Today we are experiencing a reprise of that peril, this time tinted with red—the color associated with the ideologues who have ruled China for the last 70 years. Call it “The Orange Peril”.

I took solace over losing the entertainment value of presidential antics with the defeat of Donald Trump in knowing I would no longer hear the SARS-CofV-2 thoughtlessly and unfairly referred to as the “China virus”. But the slightly less charismatic figure who now occupies the White House talks of China largely to the same effect, albeit in words less bombastic.  He has labeled China our “most serious competitor”, accusing them of “coercive and unfair” trade practices and threatening “repercussions” for China’s human rights violations. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-eat-lunch-biden-warns-000813951.html)        

With the recent attacks on Asian-Americans there has been much virtuous signaling of vocal support for those of a golden hue, but I think most of it is misdirected at the perpetrators of the attacks and largely ineffective, as handwringing and noble sentiments are unlikely to sway those of that ilk. A better target for changing the anti-Asian bias of Americans fearful of the Orange Peril is our leaders. As two academics of Asian ethnicity have pointed out, both the pre- and post-Trump administrations have “spent their careers embracing critical takes on China that have overlapped with Trump’s and that may have helped accelerate Sinophobic sentiment.” () If our leaders would stop portraying China as an enemy, it would do wonders in transforming the hateful attitude toward Asians gruesomely manifesting itself today, just as our friendly ties with Japan since the end of WW II have redeemed the Japanese in our eyes.

Consider this cartoon by the vilified Dr. Seuss:

Not a flattering portrayal of our Japanese allies, is it? But consider the context: there was a war going on. A lot worse things than being portrayed with slits for eyes was happening to the Japanese in this country—and in Japan—at that time. And not just Dr. Seuss was caught up in the war fervor. Here’s how Hollywood contributed to the war effort:

(With regard to the eyes, guess who drew this portrait of a Japanese woman:

Was it Dr. Seuss? Maybe that mediocre painter and noted racist, the mustachioed German. No, it’s by Kitagawa Utamaro, a noted Japanese artist of the 18th century known for his “large-headed pictures of beautiful women”. It seems slit eyes were seen as a mark of beauty in old Japan. So why is it racist today?)

China does not have to be feared as an enemy just because it is catching up with us industrially. As we ourselves rose to power in the 19th century, Great Britain saw us as a threatening competitor, contending with us for possession of the northern tier of this continent and suspicious of our covetous attitude toward Canada (As late as the 1920s, Canadians considered the biggest threat to their existence to come from the United States). Imagine if the British had taken the opportunity of our Civil War to counter us by supporting the South. I suspect the consequences would have been tragic for both us and them.

Our opposition to the rise of two earlier rising powers, Germany and Japan, resulted in two world wars.  Fortunately, despite all the trading of nasty allegations, we are unlikely to go to war with the Chinese. Just as the British were dissuaded from supporting the South because of the economic and military power of the North, the consequences of any war with China would be so horrific for both sides our geostrategists are unlikely to lead us there. (Watch this video of the Chinese celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic and ask yourself whether we really want to go to war with such a people.    

So let’s drop the pretense. Let’s accept—even celebrate—the success of the Chinese, recognize that our dominance of the Western Pacific—much less of the world—is not god-ordained or eternal, and work in peace with all the world’s peoples to confront the mammoth threats we face to our mutual existence. That’s the most effective way to fight anti-Asian hostility.

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When I travel to countries which have borne the brunt of our “humanitarian interventionism”, I wear a t-shirt that has a large maple leaf and the word “Canada” emblazoned on it. I wonder if Asian-Americans of other than Chinese ethnicity will start doing something similar, so that race-challenged ignoramuses will not do harm to anyone who simply looks Chinese. I hope non-Chinese Asians will not resort to my self-defense measure, however, out of solidarity with the Chinese.    

Conspiracy Theories

In 1953 the CIA was deeply involved in the uprising which overthrew the Prime Minister of Iran, inaugurating 26 years of rule by the Shah. I’m not quite old enough to testify as an eyewitness but I suspect there were voces clamantes in deserto back then who accused the CIA of being involved and they were written off as “conspiracy theorists” in the face of the government’s adamant denial that we had been involved (Back then, most Americans had never even heard of the CIA). It was 40 years before President Clinton admitted our involvement and another 20 before the CIA released documents detailing our role. Which just goes to show, if you’re a conspiracy theorist who longs to be vindicated, you’d better take care of yourself so you’ll live long enough.

The story of the Shah’s enthronement does not stand alone as a case were what was once considered the paranoid imaginings of tin-hatted wackos eventually came to be recognized as established fact. Long before governmental machinations were concealed behind umpteen levels of classification as they are today, the secret meeting of some moguls of Wall Street at which the Federal Reserve was devised was successfully denied to have occurred by the participants until one of them spilled the beans 20 years later. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, under which black sufferers from syphilis were purposely left untreated—a study conducted from 1932 on by the inaptly-named Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with the shameful collaboration of the Tuskegee Institute—was not known about or even suspected (except perhaps by its unfortunate victims) until it made headlines 40 years later. The Kennedy-era Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to blow up an American commercial airliner in flight and blame it on the Cubans came to light only 25 years later.  

And so on and so forth. Just a few of the as yet unresolved (yet invariably labeled “discredited”) theories out there include the attack on the USS Liberty; the crash of TWA flight 800; the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11; and the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Most of us will probably be long dead before the truth of these events is settled, the power of the state to conceal the truth being even greater today than in times past and  our “investigative journalists” showing no great interest in what is going on inside those windowless, nameless, football field-sized buildings going up in places like Ashburn, Virginia, as  if they assume those inside are up to nothing more nefarious than exchanging cat videos. (Do you even know the name of the most powerful person in America, the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), someone with the capability to read everyone’s emails, listen to everyone’s telephone conversations? It’s General Paul  M. Nakasone, appointed by President Trump and still in place (I had  to look it up myself)).          

Note that all these instances have one thing in common: government involvement at the highest level. What distinguishes these intrigues from others of a commercial nature (e.g., Crest plotting against Colgate) is the vast power of the government to enforce concealment of what it is up to (aided by a generally trusting public). Just look what happened to Julian Assange of Wikileaks for performing the same journalistic function as the New York Times  but of a “leak” not acceptable to, much less sanctioned by, those in power.             

It’s the secrecy concealing governmental machinations which breeds conspiracy theories. because we are all—whether we buy the “party line” or question it—often pretty much in the dark concerning many of the facts. Take last summer’s case of the purloined Democratic Party emails. The Mueller investigation claimed Russian military intelligence hacked into the Democrat’s computer and stole the emails, but a former Technical Director at the NSA who had access to the metadata about the files claims the emails were downloaded at such a rapid speed they must have been downloaded to a device directly connected to the computer (e.g., a thumb drive), not transmitted thousands of miles over the much slower internet. Who should we believe? Take your pick, based on what you would like to believe is true, as that’s the best you can do given the information available. (Note that both theories are conspiratorial.)

When Deep State mouthpieces (I’m talking about you, CNN!)  speak of such and such conspiracy theory having been “debunked”, they never mention the evidence supporting the theory or how the theory has been debunked (They also like to set up strawmen by mockingly bringing up the most bizarre theories). One of their  favorites is the saga known as “Pizzagate”. To acquaint you with the evidence behind that theory (as CNN fails to do), I offer you  an interview I conducted with a Washington Post reporter for my TV show: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AlN0wDRkG73zgtkgb3pvOlA5lXxCmg?e=j9NtTK . I’ll wait while you watch the video ………….. Finished? Good. So, what do you think? Is Pizzagate an “insane” conspiracy theory as the Post would have it or something worthy of official investigation? (Incidentally, as I understand it, the website from which I obtained most of the information in my video was created by the same person who is behind the much-disparaged QAnon site.)

Short of a thorough investigation, there is no way of knowing what the truth is about Pizzagate. As it is, with one side believing and the other side scoffing, neither side can prove themselves right or the other side wrong from the evidence available, which is generally the case with conspiracy theories. What we’re left with is little more than opinion; and, to paraphrase Hannah Arendt, “The result of a consistent and total substitution of opinion for factual truth is not that opinion will now be accepted as truth, and truth be defamed as opinion, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus opinion is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.” (Substitute “lies” for “opinion” and you have Ms. Arendt’s exact quote.)    

Without all the facts, meaningful discussion of divisive issues of great import is futile. Is this why so many Americans—from squabbling, partisan politicians to opinionated next-door neighbors—are not on speaking terms? If so, the solution is obvious: more transparency, the only thing that can assure both sides are arriving at their opinions from the same factual base. Facts are immutable; opinions can change. Unfortunately, transparency is one of those principles, like freedom of speech, which everyone is in favor of but few want to see practiced when it works to the advantage of “the other side”. As with free speech, believing  in the ultimate value of transparency is an act of faith, faith that “The Truth shall make us free”, including  free to discuss discordant views on controversial topics in a constructive, mutually respectful, civil manner.  

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I’ve got a newly minted conspiracy theory for you. You may have noticed that the  number of new cases of COVID-19 each day has plummeted from 250,000 to less than 100,000 over the last three weeks.

 At this rate, we’ll be down to a Chinese-level case count by March and can ditch the masks! The remarkable drop and its equally remarkable timing (coincidental with a change in presidential administration) caused my tin hat to buzz like a bee. I have yet to read an explanation for the miracle, but I did hear a doctor say her insurance is no longer paying her enough to cover the cost of performing SARS-CofV-2 tests. Also, it’s my understanding the government has been paying hospitals $70,000 for every COVID-19 patient they treat. If that’s no longer the case, bingo!, we have our explanation (and you can expect the mortality rate from the flu to now skyrocket).

A change in monetary inducement as the explanation for the drop in COVID  is less damning  to the reputation of whoever it is who comes up with the count than a conclusion someone is simply fudging the numbers (as CNN does with its fanciful, up-to-the-minute count of the number of deaths from COVID each day, an amazing statistical achievement considering the CDC can only give a rough estimate of the deaths from last year’s flu season, even when the calculation is made ex post facto).  

Which begs the question, if some cabal is willing and able to muck with a figure of such vital importance as the number of cases of COVID-19, could they also have tampered with an election? 

Anti-Semitism: Facing the Facts

If you can believe the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country. If so, it is timely and important to examine this venerable, provocative ism. We’ll do so by evaluating the factual base behind one of the charges traditionally levelled against Jews, that they are out to gain control in this country.

But before we do that, let’s see if we can agree on one thing at least; namely, how many Jews there are in the United States. For the answer we cannot just look to the census as census takers are not allowed to ask about a person’s religion. Further complicating the count is the issue of what makes someone Jewish. Is it religion, ethnicity, nationality, or race? Let’s bypass these obstacles and just go with the estimate of the  Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University: 7.8 million Jews in this country or about 2% of the population.     

To consider the power of Jews in America, we’ll start at the very top: the Presidency of the United States. There’s never been a Jewish president, though we came close with Bernie Sander’s run to be the Democratic candidate. This is not surprising, considering Joe Biden is only the second Catholic president and Catholics comprise almost a quarter to the population, and it certainly does not mean that Jews are without power in the highest governmental circles. Among President Biden’s top-level appointees, Jews have been nominated for Attorney General, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, CIA Director, Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the State Department, and Director of National Intelligence, and, of course, the position almost exclusively reserved for Jews, Treasury Secretary (six of the nine Treasurers over the last 25 years, including the three most recent, have been Jews). Playing the role often assumed by Jews, that of eminence grise, is Biden’s Jewish Chief of Staff, Ron Klain.

A more subtle power-behind-the-throne role can be found when we look at the families of the current and former president. All three of Joe Biden’s children married Jews, as did all three of Donald Trump’s (though the Jewishness of one daughter-in-law is in question. His daughter, Ivanka, even converted to Orthodox Judaism. (What is it about Jewish men that shicksas find so alluring? No wonder all those aspiring actresses could not resist the charms of Harvey Weinstein!)

The predominance of Jews in the world of high finance is well enough known as to not need reviewing here, but let’s look at another business Jews are known to be prominent in: the media. A reporter for the L.A. Times—himself Jewish—once looked into the role of Jews in Hollywood and found that all eight major studios in Tinseltown were headed by Jews. Moreover, there was a strike by actors going on at the time, causing the studio heads to write a letter to the head of the Screen Actors Guild, also a  Jew, and the letter was responded to by Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Ari.

Jewish dominance in the television industry isn’t quite so… well, universal, but still way disproportionate to their numbers. Going back to television’s early days, the founders of all three major networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—were  Jews. Today, the  media is a kaleidoscope of diverse companies—large and small—operating on a diversity of platforms; but, nonetheless, most of the media in this country is controlled by just six corporations—National Amusements, Disney, Time-Warner, Comcast, News Corp, and SONY—three of which are headed by Jews). To what extent the people ultimately in control of these megamonsters, the owners, are Jewish is beyond my expertise to estimate.  

Less well known than the dominant role of Jews in the media is the prevalence of Jews in education at the highest level. Six of the eight Ivy League schools have Jewish presidents, as do Stanford, MIT, and many other prominent universities. Jewish predominance extends down the academic totem pole, Jews occupying 80% of the top posts other than president (Vice President, Provost, Chairman of the Board) at the Ivies. (If six of the eight Ivy League presidents were women, do you think it would be noted and remarked upon? How about if six of the eight were black? How about if they were Jewish? If the fact that so many Ivy League presidents are Jews was news to you, you have your answer.)

Overall, quite an accomplishment for a people who constitute 2% of the population. How to explain Jewish success? Ay, there’s the rub. For in that interpreting of fact what nightmares may come! Yet, despite the potential danger, the question merits being asked. It’s a wonderful thing that here in America, with our historic melding of immigrants of diverse national origin, ethnic heritage, and religious affiliation, we tend to ignore such considerations (at least amongst those of a pallid hue) in choosing our leaders. But we live in an age of identity politics. Will Jews escape the pigeonholing, scrutiny, suspicion that characterizes our fractious nation. If the ADL proves more prescient than paranoid, they will not.

We should not fear facts. We should gather them assiduously. We should not be afraid to mention the facts or to reflect upon them. But in interpreting the facts, we must proceed cautiously, openly, objectively, compassionately, factually.   

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UPDATE (2/1/21): Since penning this poignant piece I’ve come across a graphic concerning Jews on Wall Street, the factuality of which I cannot attest to but which seems plausible (and enlightening):   

UPDATE (3/4/21):

We may be witnessing a case study in how Jews come to such prominence in the media. Longtime host  of the game show Jeopardy! Alex Trebek having died last year, the show has lined up a coterie of guest hosts, starting with Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy! GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), having come out victorious last year in a contest which matched the three biggest winners in Jeopardy! history. Currently, Mike Richards, Executive Producer of Jeopardy!, is guest-hosting the show.

The host of the show doesn’t have much opportunity to show off his personality, less than contestants who manage to win a couple of contests, so I was surprised to read media folks raving about what a great job Richards is doing:  TMZ: Richards “absolutely crushes it!”; Yahoo: Richards an “overnight sensation”; Just Jared: Tweeters demand Richards be named permanent host. I found the performances by Jennings and Richards indistinguishable. Both did competent jobs and seem personable enough, but Jennings’ reviews were far less gushing: USA Today: Jennings a “worthy substitute”; MSN:  “fans seemed to be pleased”;  Newsbreak: Jenning’s stint “not going well.”

My review of the literature is admittedly unscientific and anecdotal (maybe someone with more expertise could refine it), but I wonder if we aren’t seeing the Jewish candidate for new Jeopardy! host being primed for coronation through the clique-ish machinations of Jewish media moguls. Of course, if Richards is not Jewish, it does weaken my argument (but doesn’t entirely discredit it).      


Shades of Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia, is where a clique representing that era’s Deep State met in 1910 midst sumptuous surroundings and devised a plan for a new financial institution, which they hoped would ameliorate the boom-bust cycles which characterize capitalist economies.* The bottom-dwelling cabal enlisted surface-feeders from the public side of the curtain, including President Woodrow Wilson, to push their idea through Congress and in 1913 the Federal Reserve Act was passed into law. (The Fed plays such a critical role in our monetary system most assume it is a government agency, but, while its Board of Governors is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, it is controlled by its member banks; namely, all nationally chartered banks—Wells Fargo , Chase, et al.—plus any other banks which choose to join).      

The Federal Reserve was spawned in an atmosphere of financial turmoil; specifically, the Panic of 1907, which started with the New York Stock Exchange losing half its value and ended with many a bank going under. The larger context was the increasing threat to the capitalist system from socialists of various stripes. To wit, the Socialist Party of America won 8% of the vote for members of the House of Representatives in the election of 1912. Internationally, the socialist British Labour Party had won 43 seats in parliament in 1910, and just four years after the Fed was founded the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia.

Some argue American capitalism faces a similar threat today from a gaggle of chatterboxes in the House and a wizened graybeard (sans beard) in the Senate fomenting radical change. Seems like a stretch to me. On the other hand, when World War I started, no one would have given the Bolsheviks much of a chance, but the loss of faith in established institutions the prolonged, senseless  bloodletting caused gave the revolutionaries their chance. Might the current COVID-19 pandemic with its grisly toll making manifest the imperfections in our economic and political institutions give a similar impetus to those seeking the demise of Capitalism?       

Critics of Capitalism have been predicting its imminent collapse since Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto in 1848. The anti-capitalist faithful have not yet been tested as fully as those awaiting the Second Coming—now some 2000 years overdue—and the hallelujahs of past generations at the long-awaited dawn of Socialism are echoed still today, much like TV evangelists announcing the Day of Judgement is nigh. The causes expounded for the collapse vary—from “contradictions” inherent in Capitalism to growing income inequality, mounting public and private debt, and, most specifically, ill-advised policies of the Fed. My own belief is that Capitalism is destined to change dramatically in the not-so-distant future, though what will replace it or how it might survive in altered form is not clear.

If I’m going to discuss Capitalism, I should first define it. Conventional definitions of Capitalism speak of private property, free markets, wage labor, and the like. I’ve got a more succinct and, I think, more germane definition: Capitalism is an economic system based on usury, i.e., the charging of interest for the use of capital (Note: Usury is charging any interest, not just exorbitant interest like most people think). The other definitions are a bit imprecise as they include characteristics not exclusive to Capitalism. Other societies—from ancient Babylon to pre-capitalistic Europe—had their wealthy individuals, competitive marketplaces, and compensated labor, but no previous economic system had usury as its founding principle.      

In fact, throughout most of human history—at least that part starting with the first Abrahamic religion—the practice of usury was condemned as sinful. “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him”, God commanded through Moses (Exodus 22:24); and later, through the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:13), he decreed capital punishment for usurers.** Religions based on the Old Testament—Christianity and Islam—adopted the same attitude toward those who today are your friendly, neighborhood banker.***

It is understandable why usury was of such ill-repute in times past if we consider that throughout most of human history economic growth was essentially nil. Take a medieval farmer whose crop has been wiped out by drought, flood, or locusts and so contracts a loan to get him through till next year’s crop comes in. Being a no-growth economy, the  loan could not be invested to increase his crop, but was meant  simply to get him by until the next harvest. To take advantage of the farmer’s misfortune by requiring him to pay back more than he borrowed would be… well, unchristian. Forced to beg at the usurer’s door repeatedly would lead to the farmer’s impoverishment. Hence, the usurer was seen as a parasite, profiting off others without contributing anything material to society himself—what we would call, in our more tolerant age, a beneficiary of unearned income.

So, what happened to cause usury to become no longer an eighth deadly sin but an honorable business practice?** The discovery of the New World and the wonders of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions are what happened.  Whole continents waiting to be exploited and inventions opening up new ways to exploit the earth’s resources made economic growth not only possible but spectacular, especially once a cheap, new source of energy, fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), was discovered. Enterprising businessmen happily paid interest to acquire capital as they could invest the funds—say, in building a ship—to yield a return much greater than the cost of the interest. Capitalism was born!

Ideologues of Capitalism came up with a theory to explain the new rules of finance: Present Value (Note that the practice of usury came first, the ideology to justify it later).The idea is that money available today is worth more than the same amount of money sometime in the future. For example, $100 today is worth more than $100 five years from now because it can be invested profitably so that five years later the investor has, say, $150. With such returns possible, investors are happy to pay interest on a loan. (Of course, not all loans are for investment, so a corollary of the Present Value theory is that consumers are so childish they can’t defer gratification and so will borrow at interest to have that car, house, trip to France today instead of waiting until they’ve saved up enough to pay for them.)

The Present Value theory is premised on the assumption that investments will turn a profit, but is this true in present circumstances, circumstances which go beyond  any short-term condition, such as a pandemic. Is there a fundamental change in our capitalistic economy that negates the concept of Present Value? There are indications that opportunities for profitable investment are growing limited: the low rate of interest banks can charge on loans, corporations buying back their own stock instead of investing in expansion, the stock and real estate markets booming because investors can’t find anything more productive to invest in, Central Banks charging negative interest on deposits, etc. Is it no longer the case that money today is worth more than money in the future?

To examine this possibility, let’s talk about the value of commodities. As price is a poor indicator of a commodity’s value being determined by factors beyond simple supply and demand, we’ll talk about the value of the commodities themselves.  As an example, we’ll take a commodity central to our economic wellbeing: oil. The real value of a barrel of oil can be calculated in terms of the Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI). In simple terms, the ERoEI quotient represents how many barrels of oil (or their energy equivalent) are gained from the investment of a barrel of oil (or its energy equivalent) in discovering and extracting the oil. In a world where conventional means of oil production are being superseded by more expensive methods (hydraulic fracturing, tar sands mining, deep sea drilling, etc.), the ERoEI for oil has been  going down (i.e., fewer barrels returned per barrel invested), no matter what the price of a barrel of oil is.                 

Given this trend, is a gallon of gasoline worth more today than it will be in the future? Common sense argues “No”. In the face of a dwindling or more costly supply, might not gasoline be reserved for essential transport (ambulances, busses, tanks) or be available only to the rich? If so, would an investor be willing to pay, say, $3 for a gallon of gas to be delivered five years hence, when the current price is $1 a gallon—exactly the opposite of Present Value theory? Seems reasonable.

If what is true for oil applies to many of the commodities which sustain us, does it mean we are entering an era of zero economic growth or even degrowth? If so, is it time for the titans of Wall Street to meet once again on Jekyll Island to devise some reformed kind of capitalistic financial system not based on usury, lest Jekyll Island become their moated refuge as the powder-puffed Squad and their septuagenarian comrade lead the socialistic horde in finally tossing Capitalism onto the “Ash Heap of History”?

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* Of particular interest, perhaps, for those of you who scoff at the notion of a “Deep State”, for 20 years the participants at the meeting on Jekyll Island successfully denied that such a meeting ever took place  in the face of claims it did by “conspiracy theorists” before the truth finally came out.

** If usury is proscribed to Jews, how did it come about that the Jews were the medieval  world’s most prominent moneylenders, aka usurers? The answer is found in the phrase “among  my people” in the quote from Exodus. As supremacist ideologies tend to do, belief in being a Chosen People lends itself to a moral code which differentiates between relations with one’s fellow chosen and relations between the chosen and the unchosen. Lending at interest was only proscribed in dealings between Jews. (So far as I know, Jewish bankers lend at interest to Jews as well as Gentiles these days.)

*** If usury is proscribed to Christians, how did it come about that Christians joined the Jews in lending at interest? As religious ideologues tend to do, Renaissance theologians, especially Protestant reformer John Calvin, reinterpreted the bible to adapt to changing times. Calvin thought usury should be allowed so long as it conformed to Christian notions of fairness and charity, the acid test being whether the motive to charge interest was to help others or to profit personally. Their guilt assuaged by Calvin and others, Christian bankers hopped on the usury bandwagon. (What would Calvin think of the usurious loans extended today to finance palatial mansions, gambling casinos, and weapons production?)

The Grand Inquisitor of Climate Change Heresy

At a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chris Coons of President-Suspect Biden’s home state of Delaware, asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ,”You don’t have a stand-alone climate change misinformation policy. Why not?” He urged Dorsey, “to reconsider that because helping to disseminate climate denialism in my view further facilitates and accelerates one of the greatest existential threats to our world.” Coons is one of those sanctimonious hypocrites, “a saint abroad and a devil at home”, who no doubt lectures the benighted of countries not blessed with a constitutional guarantee of free speech on human rights, while calling for the censoring of free speech in this country. (Perhaps Coons, who attends his wife’s Catholic church, would like to see Mr. Dorsey enlist the aid of the Church in determining truth vs. heresy, as the Catholic Church has some experience in that regard.)  

I wonder if Coons is even aware of the beliefs of so-called Global Warming deniers; for instance, those of one of the most prominent heretics, Roy Spencer, a former climate scientist at NASA who, along with his colleague, John Christie, received an award for being the first to figure out how to derive a mean global temperature from weather satellite data. So, let me clarify for Sen. Coons and any of the rest of you who might not be aware of it: virtually all “deniers” believe that the earth is getting warmer! The issues that separate the faithful from the heretical are what the causes of the warming are, how fast the earth is warming, how much the earth will warm, what the consequences of the warming are, and how devastating the consequences will be.  So, as with medieval heretics and their inquisitorial prosecutors, who all agreed on the divinity of Christ, climate change believers and heretics both agree on the most fundamental article of their faith.

Here’s what Dr. Spencer’s  calculation of the earth’s temperature for the years since weather satellites were first launched in 1979 looks like graphically:        

The trend line over the last 42 years has the earth warming at a rate of 1.4 degrees centigrade per century. Interestingly, the current Tribunal of the Climate Change Inquisition, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has lately taken to postulating a rise in global temperatures of an almost-exactly-the-same 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. This is down from their hallowed, apocalyptic prophecy of 2 degrees centigrade. Perhaps they have been influenced (or intimidated) by Spencer’s widely respected work, just as the Church came to accept the heliocentric nature of the solar system as that theory gained acceptance amongst the faithful.

Coons, like so many, probably falls for the non sequitur that the financial loss from extreme weather equates to the strength of the phenomenon in meteorological terms, a logical fallacy even a precocious kindergartener would see through. Clearly, a hurricane, tornado, or forest fire causes greater financial loss today, when houses line beaches just above the high-water mark, suburbs have replaced cornfields, and towns have been implanted in the middle of the forest, than in years past when hurricanes swept away deserted  beaches, tornadoes ripped through corn fields, and the only things set alight by forest fires were trees. Yet, even meteorologists talk about some occasion of extreme weather as the “most destructive ever” in financial terms. They can only get away with because, apparently, there are so many who didn’t pass kindergarten.

Another case of alarmists creating distorted impressions arises from their failing to tell the whole story.  For example, you’ve probably seen photos of flooding in Annapolis or elsewhere on Chesapeake Bay, flooding which the purveyors of the photos imply, if not state, results from a warming-induced rising sea. What they fail to mention is that the flooding is caused in equal measure by land subsidence in the bay area (When’s the last time you heard an alarmist excitedly demand that we do something about land subsidence?). I’d like to believe such distortions are just shoddy reporting, but I suspect it is more often willful. Again, they couldn’t get away with it if the rest of us weren’t so trusting , or receptive to reports which confirm our own beliefs.

Speaking of willfulness, perhaps the Inquisitors who push climate change orthodoxy and call for the punishment of heretics have the same  noble motive as did the Inquisitors of yore; namely, the fear that the Truth might cause believers to question their faith, with a devastating effect on the cohesion and morality of society (not just that the Truth would put their own privileged position in jeopardy). Just as medieval Christian dogmatists quashed anyone who, for instance, asked what happens to those who have never heard of Jesus in the afterlife if entrance into Heaven is only for those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, do latter-day guardians of Climate Change orthodoxy fear the Truth is too faith-shattering to be revealed.

If so, what is “the Truth which dare not be spoken”? I believe it is the fact that we have passed the peak of global fossil fuel production, at least of the liquid and gaseous variety (For an exposition on my claim global oil production has peaked, see my blog posting “Peaked Oil”). If this be true, its implications are too frightening to contemplate. In a world founded on a belief that economic growth is not only good but essential for continued prosperity, the idea that the resource that literally greased the wheels of our modern, industrialized society is in increasingly short supply is devilish heresy. It means we will, of necessity, be forced to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels in the future, with all the deleterious impact on our wellbeing that implies.**

One way to reduce our use of fossil fuels without shaking consumers’ confidence in Earth’s bounty, the High Priests of Endless Growth might conclude, is to posit to their materialistic adherents that our dependence on fossil fuels is causing the earth to heat up, to the point it represents an existential threat. Thus, changes in our lifestyle we must necessarily make in the face of a declining fossil fuel supply, namely, switching to alternative source of energy (wind, solar, geothermal etc.), becomes a virtue: saving the planet for our grandchildren.       

Frankly, I ‘m not sure this misdirection is going to work. The fly in the ointment is the fact alternative energy sources are not yet as cheap as once abundant fossil fuels. They may be someday; but, whether or not—and regardless of their role in mitigating climate change—in the face of a declining supply of oil and natural gas we will, of necessity, have to rely on alternatives, even if it means a decline in our living standards.

Future generations may look back on those who censor climate change heresy today with the same bemusement we find in the purblind arrogance of the Defenders of Geocentricism and the same contempt we feel for them for inflicting brutal punishment on those with keener vision. That’s not much solace for today’s climate change “deniers” who suffer professionally and personally from those who would silence them, but at least they don’t have to worry about suffering the ultimate Inquisitorial punishment—being burnt at the stake—as Defenders of Climate Change Alarmism would condemn the resulting emission of carbon dioxide as contributing to the greenhouse effect.

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        * The next time you hear of the most destructive hurricane ever, a record-breaking temperature, or the most acres-burned forest fire, I encourage you to consult Tony Heller’s website,  Real Science. Heller makes a living (of sorts) debunking such claims.

** I suspect the plans announced by automakers to phase out production of gas-powered cars within the next 5 to 10 years is not motivated by environmental concerns so much as by visions of their guzzlers up on blocks, littering the front yards of America, because there is nothing to fill their tanks with. If the manufacturers fulfill their promises, consider what fuel will power the hundreds of new power plants required to charge all those batteries. Most likely it will be the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel: coal (of which there is an abundant supply). Even if we here in the USA attain the Energy Information Administration’s rosy prediction of all new plants in this country being powered by something less polluting than coal (natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear, etc.), China has more  than the entire coal power capacity of the United States under development, and India, which gets 2/3 of its electricity from coal, is not far behind, having slashed plans to replace coal-fired plants with nuclear reactors. So, all those electric vehicles of the future had better come with enhanced windshield wipers capable of removing soot as well as rain drops.