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Time for a new Dune movie

The 1965 book Dune was to a great extent the basis of most futuristic science fiction books and movies that followed. Star Wars is based on Dune, even beginning on a desert planet where the hero, Luke Skywalker, has been tested and hardened into a ready warrior by the harsh landscape around him, like the Fremen of Dune’s desert planet Arrakis.

“Dune” author Frank Herbert was an eclectic guy, a deep and creative thinker. One might say he was unusual, even by modern terms.

He was against racism but believed in the importance of human genetic improvement through select breeding. Focusing on the importance of tribalism, Herbert nonetheless elevated the self-reliant individual as the highest achievement a person could aim and hope for.

He was for the concretely purposeful use of mind-expanding drugs, such as religious experiences, saw warfare and killing as hardly noticeable inevitabilities in a well-ordered human universe, believed in God and the power of prayer, supported the ongoing evolution of technology, but then elevated the supremacy of human evolution and the human spirit, including personal fighting skills, over that same technology.

If his amalgamation of nearly all current religions on Planet Earth into one or two future strands of religious thought is any indication, Herbert is suggesting that all religions pretty much point us in the same direction, though some are scarier than others.

Herbert was firmly against artificial intelligence and the delegation of human decision making to machines. In Dune, it is the ‘Butlerian Jihad’ that wipes out most computers and all AI, leaving only those computers that could perform the basic elementary functions in lieu of humans, after a close call where AI and its robots nearly took out all humans. On this subject, it could be said that Herbert was prescient and, like many other sci-fi writers, ahead of his time. Even now we childishly rush into AI as if it is just a silly game, when in fact it could quickly kill every human and every other life form on Planet Earth.

In 1984 director David Lynch produced a pretty good movie that captured a lot of the book Dune. No small feat, as most great books result in terrible movies. The David Lynch movie was good because it embraced the book and did not try to dance around it. Its acting was mostly excellent, and some of the scenes are perfectly gritty. But in other ways the 1984 movie is very weak. Its special effects are almost sad, even by the standards of that time. Very 1950s.

A miniseries was attempted years later, and many Dune devotees believed it was a failure in every way. Lacking even the punch of the 1984 movie, it certainly was not what people had hoped for or imagined.

We need a new, updated Dune movie. No, we demand one. A Dune movie that is absolutely true to the book, that has the same quality actors as the 1984 version, and which has updated technology, sets, and special effects. It will have to be long, three hours, to capture the most important scenes and subtle nuances that make the Dune story so powerful.

C’mon, Hollywood, do something good for once. Give us a new Dune movie that is worthy of the name and the book.

Movie review: “White Tiger”

When we think of Russia today and now, our mind might wander off into brutal poisonings of ex-spies across international borders, brutal assassinations of journalists inside Russia, brutal repressions of Chechen independence movements, brutal invasions of South Ossetia, Ukraine, and Georgia (THAT Georgia, not our Georgia), poorly chosen relationships with Iran and Syria, and the current czar riding around bare-chested on a horse with a rifle slung over his back.

Perhaps it was always thus. But if we think and search back a hundred years or more, we will stumble upon buried treasure in the farthest reaches of Russia.

Yes, it is true, Russia was not always just a military force to be reckoned with, it was also a significant cultural center of the very highest magnitude, the very highest achievement. World class music, literature, arts and crafts, poetry, ballet, and so on all were major hallmarks of the Russians.

Not of the oppressed Soviet satellite states, but the actual Russian people themselves.

Rachmaninoff, Dostoyesky, and so on, so many great minds contributing in a singularly unique way, native to Russian culture.

Russians had this knack for art that you would not necessarily see if you looked at the simple surface of their culture or landscape. Behind the eightball on technology, Russian writers and poets and musicians bedazzled Westerners with their brilliance and inspiration.

That all started to die in fits and starts after the violent 1917 revolution led by the Democrat Party of that day and place, but nonetheless art persisted until the 1950s, when Soviet socialist control firmly held every thing and every person in its crushing grasp.

To dissent from all that big government with a pink pussy hat or with a snarky hashtag was unthinkable. Not that people wouldn’t try to do it, but the Soviet thought police, much the same as our own politically correct thought police in America today, would catch the thought crime even before it had taken physical form, and, as our own thought police openly wish they could do, WHOOSH, off to a starvation diet in Siberia went that ‘evil’ free thinker.

I am not sure that the Soviets used the words “sexist,” “racist,” homophobe,” “Islamophobe,” and other overdone American generalities meant to crush dialogue and debate, but if they could have used these terms, they would have. Different words then, but the same anti-democracy process then and now.

So for the past seventy years Russia has had an especially harsh Russian winter, art-wise, because of the Soviets and then their control freak successors, whatever Mr. Putin’s political party is named.

To be an artist in that Russian cultural winter was to walk around every day muzzled, daring not to say much less think your own creative thoughts. Too much was at stake.

But somewhere, somehow, that beautiful old Russian voice began to quietly break through the repressive walls. Finding acceptable subjects and means to convey them became a new form of creativity in and of itself.

Nationalism, patriotism, history are all legitimate subjects of artistic creativity, and so Russian artists have adapted. Very, very well. Albeit with throwback Soviet-style imagery, which is lamentable. Gosh, if the Russians could only be our friends…the things we could achieve together.

And so here we now have a truly artistic Russian movie we can all be proud of, in the mould of the old-time Russian artistic capacity. It is called White Tiger and debuted about 18 months ago. I have been wanting to write about it since watching it back then, but as we know, the past 18 months in America have been pretty intense.  Every time I thought I could breathe again, some new issue would pop up. There was more compelling competition for writing space and creativity of my own.

At least this is how I have experienced the past 18 months.

If you are afflicted with a love of liberty, as I am, then you have shared my somewhat anxious condition as the American “deep state,” or Obama holdovers, or career bureaucrats, or whatever you want to call them, have attempted to reverse the outcome of a presidential election they thought they would win and still cannot stomach the thought of losing, by any means necessary. Which means illegal, unethical, immoral, un-American, anti-democratic means.

That all seems to be unwinding now.

And so now, for this moment, I get to bask in the glow of art, thanks to the Russians. And I really mean it, thank you. Seeing this movie took me way back in time to when my own mind was creative and artistic.

Dear Russians, I lift my glass to you: Tvoye zdorovye!

White Tiger is on its face a war movie set in World War Two. It is about Russians versus Germans, good guys versus bad guys, the Eastern European version of cowboys versus Indians. It is also about tanks and heavy armor, about technological superiority versus the grass roots spirit to survive, and history. Lots of history. And lots of action.

At its core, this movie is mythological and Darwinian, with a lot of symbolism, not the least of which is the theme music, an artfully done refrain of Wagner’s pilgrim’s chorus.

If you care to pay careful attention, and walk a mile in a Russian tank tread, you will end up being impressed by this low-budget, high-performance film.

Briefly summed up with no spoilers, the unlikely (and yet so likely…there’s that symbolism thing) Russian hero is reborn, a plausible enough biological fluke consistent with species adapting.

He goes on to learn his enemy’s ways, to anticipate his next moves, and in the end, he goes on a ghostly chase into both past and future, bound up in one of Russia’s most enduring identities: Not German!

And speaking of German, Germany, and World War Two, no better representation of Adolf Hitler has been captured in cinema than the movie’s very last few minutes, where Satan’s boots on the ground has a heartfelt confession with his sponsor, who sits patiently listening in the shadow.

White Tiger.

And as an aperitif, try this Russian music to settle your soul before bed time.

Krazee K

There once was neighbor named Kathy,

Whose life was so desperately unhappy,

She said with a  yawn,

As she pounced on her lawn,

Volunteering is for those who are crappy…

******************

Folks, volunteering is service to our fellow humans.

Volunteering is the price we pay for being alive.

Volunteering  is a cornerstone of American life. Soup kitchens, homeless and battered women’s shelters, halfway houses, non-profit groups, and public health clinics are all places in need of functioning adults to make them run well.

Bethesda Mission is always advertising for volunteers. They make a huge impact on Harrisburg.

A couple hours a day or a week of your time at one of these places can greatly improve someone else’s life. If you have a specific skill, say as a carpenter, or better, a nurse, then you are doubly needed in these places. And if you are retired, and also physically functional, but you are not only not volunteering, but instead obsessively devoting yourself to every twig and leaf on your lawn, and invading your neighbors’ lives and properties, then you have bad values, you are missing the purpose of being alive, and you are leading a selfish, shallow life. Because hyper lawn care is meaningless, perhaps even a waste of time, and taking it to the extreme where it creates conflict with neighbors is nuts, frankly. It is a luxury that brings little value to the world, but much conflict.

And for the record, yes, I volunteer, a lot, serving on a bunch of non-profit boards, local, regional and state-wide, and I help maintain some elderly people’s properties when I can.  My volunteer work gives me a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. If you do not volunteer, try it. You will like it. Especially if you are retired.

Has anyone considered unplugging Spring and plugging it back in to see if it will work right?

Not my creative headline, unfortunately, but a good one nonetheless, and well put in terms of how odd this Spring has been.

Except that this Spring has not been odd, if my memory serves me right. Not in the context of Spring happening over millennia and even over decades. Spring used to be a lot like the on-again-off-again odd weather we have experienced the past month.

When I was a kid, lo these many decades ago, Spring was a process. It was not a moment in time.

Spring took time to become Spring. It was the spaced-out staging of leaves and buds emerging, green poking up through the soil a bit at a time.

“April showers bring May flowers” went the old adage. Meaning that as a precursor to the warm weather with flowers was a sustained period of rain and cool or cold weather. That was Spring, spanning cold, rain, cold rain, and the gradual emergence of green things and then the crowning sign – flowers!

Showers, heck, I recall a snow blizzard in early April as I was casting a small dry fly on the lower reaches of Big Fishing Creek in Clinton County, near the Lamar trout hatchery. In my early twenties, in fact I might have been just twenty years old, I was stubbornly casting to “rising” trout despite a white-out snow storm blanketing the air and the stream’s surface with big white snowflakes. That a trout could tell the difference between a huge plump snowflake and a measly morsel of a vague-looking aquatic insect landing briefly on the surface was a leap of faith I was fully committed to taking, and making with every cast.

My youth’s crowning moment arrived when a much older man, probably someone my age now, stopped to watch me casting the dry fly amidst the snow storm.

“Pretty ambitious, dontcha think?,” he humorously called out from up above.

And right then a big fish whacked my drifting fly, and I hauled in one of the most colorful symbols of Spring, an iridescent rainbow trout. The guy looked at me slack-jawed, eyes wide in amazement, like I was some kind of fishing genius, and I looked up at the snowing heavens and mouthed a “Thank You.” One of the more memorable fish and fishing moments in a lifetime of fishing.

That day the air temperature was still spring-like, but the obvious above-ground temperatures were cold enough to generate snow. It was a  classic symbol of the kind of gradual and slowly shifting, two steps forward one step back warming change that Spring used to be.

But that was thirty, forty years ago. A different world, a different climate.

Apparently the earth’s switching magnetic polarity is now playing a big role in the Winter-to-Summer “Spring” times we have experienced for a long time now. This switch happens naturally every 200,000 to 300,000 years.

Because the earth’s polarity is switching, which means the North Pole becoming the South Pole and vice-versa (but what we arbitrarily call North and South remain the same) the earth’s magnetic field-cum-shield is at its weakest. Earth’s magnetic shield is at its weakest because the poles are swapping positions and the magnetic field strung up between the two poles is stretched to its thinnest. The earth’s magnetic field-cum-shield is one of the reasons our planet has so much life on it; a great deal of harmful cosmic rays and powerful solar ultraviolet (UV) light are caught in the magnetic “net” and they are blocked from reaching the earth’s surface.

Therefore, a lot more solar radiation has penetrated to the earth’s surface over the past few decades, with the kinds of unusual heat, warming, and strong winds that we have witnessed. As well as a lot more quick sunburns under what appear to be pretty normal sunny conditions. The sun is not necessarily stronger, but a lot more of its energy is reaching us. For now.

And that takes me back to that unplugging Spring. For about 35 years Spring has been kind of unplugged, in a way, and it will remain so for about another decade, until the polar switch is complete. And then these gradual Springtimes, like the one we just had, will become normal again.

I can’t wait for that to happen, because I enjoy a real Spring so very much, the change from one season to the next. Normally temperate climes like Pennsylvania appeal to me for that very reason.

Everything hinges on the nickel-iron core inside the earth. And we won’t be unplugging THAT any time soon.

Motorcycle haiku

this peaceful valley is so beautiful

nature’s tranquil serenity is so rare

why are some motorcycles so loud?

Haiku

Fair trade, Yes

Historically, free trade American-style has come at a huge price to Americans.

Often defined by the same unsustainable standards that bring us endless illegal immigration today, free trade agreements between America and our trading partners have always treated America as a bottomless wallet. America could “afford” to give up more and absorb more costs, just because we were so rich and so great and kind-hearted (went the thinking, even among American decision makers).

America never got the “free” or even the good end of “free trade,” and it always got the burden of abiding by external tariffs on American goods and internal dumping that we could not legally identify, that enable our trading partners to undercut American-made prices every single time, no matter what the item.

So now there is a debate about how trading relationships between America and the world should be structured. If China, for example, has big tariffs on American goods, then it stands to reason that we Americans would benefit from placing similar tariffs on imported Chinese crap. Right?

I mean, fair is fair is fair. If one party can do it, the other can do it, too.

People treat one another fairly every day, and each side benefits in the way that they see fit for themselves. It is a good way to run a relationship.

Thus is fair trade born. The idea that trade ought to be fair, just straight up balanced without artificial contrivances giving one side an unfair advantage, based on symmetrical relationships and transparent production costs.

For example, China tolerates no equal opportunity hiring laws, no environmental laws, no workman’s compensation laws, no feminist demands for equal pay, etc. Chinese citizens who advocate for those things are either shot or jailed. Under those artificial conditions, China is able to produce almost any item far cheaper than Americans, who must comply with all of these laws and social pressures, and much, much more.

On top of that starting point, China will dump its own products at below-cost prices, just to swamp the competition and drive them out of business.

Fair trade tolerates none of this make-believe.

If China, again just as an example, wants to sell us a car here in America, fine. Sell it. Ship them over, and let’s see what the market will bear. But if we want to sell cars in China, by gosh, let us sell them there, for whatever the market will bear.

Free trade is one of those theoretical ideas that never really happens, try as one might. Like the magical unicorn under a rainbow, it paints a pretty picture, but it is mostly myth or fantasy.

Fair trade, yes.

Wild fur makes the best clothing

Wild-caught salmon is a big treat, especially for those inclined to support sustainable fisheries. It is so special it is sold in boutique stores with pink ribbons tied in a bow, and all kinds of fancy messages to its end-users.

People feel good and righteous about eating wild caught salmon, because many salmon farms are not sustainable.

Similarly, wild-caught fur is the best clothing material you can obtain. It is far more beautiful than anything humans can create.

Wild caught fur is natural, not synthetic, so there is no industrial pollution associated with it.

Wild caught fur is a renewable resource, especially where ugly sprawl development has created the unfortunate conditions for predator populations to artificially grow and succeed beyond the surrounding habitat’s carrying capacity. In these suburban populations, trapping is a necessity, especially with raccoons, possums, skunks, fox and coyotes, all of which are exploding in number and tremendously damaging native song bird populations, among other native species.

In any case, wild animals naturally procreate and renew themselves, and all furbearer animals are carefully managed by professional wildlife biologists, who ensure that none are taken that the population cannot sustain.

Wild caught fur is biodegradable. It rots when it is used up, and it returns to its natural constituent parts, becoming soil over time. Contrast this to synthetic clothing, which is made from petrochemicals and industrial pollution, and which remains household waste and then environmental pollution for the next ten thousand years.

Finally, wild caught fur is sustainable. There is not one animal trapped for its fur anywhere in North America that federal or state biologists believe is at risk. Not one animal trapped for its fur in North America is going extinct, at risk of going extinct, or is piquing the concerns of biologists in Canada or America. Sustainable wild caught fur includes wolves, fox, marten, lynx, bobcat, fisher, otter, beaver, and of course raccoon, possum, coyote, mink, and others.

One former staple furbearer is having trouble, and that is the muskrat. For whatever environmental quality reason (likely improved water quality, of all things), muskrat populations are having terrible problems across North America. As a result, some states are carefully studying them. Trapping has a negligible impact on their overall populations.

Another animal that is not at all rare or endangered, but which has been purposefully politicized by people opposed to all trapping is the lynx. Lynx populations from Canada to Alaska are in fine shape.

Lynx do not really live south of the Canadian border, because the habitat conditions here do not support lynx.  However, south of the border, primarily in Maine, lynx are treated as if they are the last remaining examples of their species, and they are now heavily protected.

Lynx are the proverbial tail wagging the trapping dog in Maine. Though silly beyond imagination, newly required lynx exclusion devices have all but ended trapping in Maine. As a result of this silliness, there are certain song birds and native ground-nesting bird species that absolutely will become threatened or endangered, because all of the exploding predator populations no longer being trapped there. Those predators are very hungry and very efficient hunters.

This unintended result from stopping trapping in Maine proves that anti trapping activists do not care about wildlife. Rather, they substitute their sad, sad cartoon-like emotions for logic, reason, and careful thinking. Prohibiting all trapping is their goal, and whatever bad things happening afterwards is of no concern to them. Cute little piping plover birdies on Cape Cod or Long Island will just have to go extinct so the anti trappers can feel good about themselves.

Rest assured, trapping wild caught fur is not cruel, it is not barbaric, it is not mean, it is not sadistic, it is not dangerous to people or pets.

Aside from being a natural part of wildlife death, with modern traps and techniques (offset jaws, lots of swivels), trapping is almost always a humorous contrast between what is said about it by trapping opponents on the one hand, and the calm, relaxed reality waiting for the trapper when she checks her traps the next day, on the other hand.

Buy some wild fur yourself. Wear it with pride.

If you care about environmental quality, and if you care about cute little birds on the seashore, or turtles trying to lay their eggs, or cute little fawn deer trying to learn to walk in their first few days, then you will wear your wild caught fur with joy, knowing that your purchase creates the demand for more wild fur garments, and that healthier wildlife populations result.

It is a neat chain reaction, and you can feel good about it all the way around.

Hollywood trash

Whatever may be said about Hollywood’s corrosive effect on America’s collective soul through its films, there is no debating that it is also a physically disgusting and filthy place.

Blessing or curse, we had the recent opportunity to walk a lot through Hollywood. What we saw was the unfilmed insider look at the real, unfiltered Hollywood.

Beverly Boulevard of Beverly Hills fame was until yesterday loaded with heaps of rotting rubbish and trash. Both sides of the street, block after block after block.

Most of it was deposited by insane homeless bums who hoard every scrap of civilization they can get unto their respective shopping cart, and when it all overfloweth, they leave heaps of this detritus lying on sidewalks.

Everywhere. Every fifty feet, both sides of the street.

And this is Biblical crap: Defecation -covered clothing, food wrappers, styrofoam cups, stained rags, heaps of trash, everything buzzing with insects and smelling of urine and rotting food. Occasionally a dejected  human is guarding a particular heap, but as we witnessed over a week, even homeless bums reeking of long-unwashed bodies and wounded spirits eventually abandon their treasure and castles. They seem to move in unison, crossing the street en masse and setting up their tattered tents and new trash piles against walls, sidewalk benches, each block having its own long line of stench and crap. Old or new, there’s a lot of crap.

But suddenly the city of Los Angeles descended upon the heaps on Beverly Blvd yesterday. Workers wearing environmental protection suits used large snow shovels to scoop up the garbage into green-colored and clean-themed trucks.

While the trash disappeared, stains in the concrete and smells in the air remained.

Talking amongst ourselves, we surmised the situation was so dire that not even Los Angeles city government could ignore it. After all, this situation is hardly representative of America, democracy, successful self-government or even just simple wealth. Wrong again, rational people!

Turns out this morning is the LA Marathon. Beverly Blvd, La Brea Blvd, and nearby connecting roads and streets were shut down to allow new masses of sweaty, smelly humans to stampede through today. All disgusting crap already in place along the route was in the way, and had to be removed.

Plenty more discarded trash will be available to walk around and through tomorrow, after the race has ended.

Takeaway here?

Los Angeles is full of people, run by people, who embrace all kinds of bizarre notions in general, and who daily live completely out of synch with nature, who live wildly consumptive and environmentally unsustainable lives, and yet who also believe they can and must berate the world around them about all kinds of real and fake environmental issues, like human -caused climate change, the evils of cars, etc.

Los Angelinos and their city are literally full of crap.

Speaking of campaign contributions

Is anyone tallying the in-kind political campaign contributions donated by the US media, Google, FakeBook, Twitter, and the rest of Silicon Valley to one particular political party?

The hoopla surrounding the pairing of FakeBook user data with Cambridge Analytica sounds like someone committed a crime. But that is only because conservatives did it, and they actually paid money for it. As opposed to Google and FakeBook, which practically lived full-time at the Obama White House.

For free. As in they donated their private user data to one political party for free. Without disclosure, without attribution.

Google and FakeBook in particular have been working hand-in-glove with just one political party, and especially with the past Obama administration, giving away user data for free, and artificially suppressing users opposed to the Obama revolution.

Recall how typing into the Google search engine variations of “Hillary Clinton crime criminal” would generate ridiculous results, like “Hillary Clinton’s position on crime control” complete with a smiling glamor shot of Hillary Clinton. Nowhere in Google’s search results would be anything about how Hillary Clinton was an actual criminal, or a suspected criminal who had been and was being criminally investigated.

That is worth money.

And how about that September 2016 Barron’s Weekly, with the grinning glamor photo of Hillary Clinton under the headline “Time for President Hillary?”

This kind of free promotional advertising is worth huge bucks.

And the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times were all proud to openly promote Clinton and attack Republicans. Not just in their editorial pages, but in their “news.” Their “news” reporting became wall-to-wall political advertising and attacks.

The US media has been an obvious mouthpiece for this one political party and its candidates, cheering them on and covering up for them. Big bucks, folks, huge contributions.

What’s that you say, what about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity?

Folks, if the US media just did their jobs as reporters – facts instead of activism – there would be no demand for Limbaugh or Fox News or Breitbart. Only because the media is a wholly owned subsidiary of one political party is there a demand for other views to be aired. And that is going to happen somewhere.

God forbid there are literally a handful of news outlets not controlled by the establishment media and their political party!

So what is the value of all this collusion between Google, and FakeBook, and Twitter? All the user data they gleefully provided to the Obama White House and the 2012 Obama campaign? You know, the private user data that the Obama campaign gloated about in public.

Someone needs to get to the bottom of this. I’d just ballpark the in-kind contribution value at about a billion dollars. At least. And none of it was officially disclosed on campaign disclosure documents.

All illegal behavior and political contributions, folks. A lot of fines, and maybe jail time for people. But because the chosen side did it, it’s fine, apparently. Well, not to me, it isn’t, despite the mainstream media’s unwillingness to report it.

Get a special investigator and prosecutor on this right away. Hold these law-breakers accountable. Because we all really care about upholding the law, right?

Last Dance at Julia’s Auction

James D. Julia was in full-throated auctioneer mode when I hung up the phone earlier today, his voice rising high above all the other competing voices.

With a standing-room-only crowd at Julia’s Auction in Fairfield, Maine, the background noise was overwhelming, even on the phone. Today being Julia’s last-ever auction, the place is packed to the gills with people who just want to experience it and be able to say “I was there.”

“Please yell at me, like you are mad at me, OK?,” instructed Debbie, the Julia’s Auction employee assigned to handle my phone-in bid. She could hardly hear herself, much less her client on the other end of the line. I, too, could only hear a roar, a cacophony of voices, with the auctioneer’s voice occasionally rising above it.

I have been to Julia’s several times, and it has never been anything like this chaos.

Yes, it is a long drive from central Pennsylvania, but if you are into the stuff I am into, then the drive is worth it. If for no other reason than to inspect in person the various antiques (my wife calls it all ‘rusty junk’) of interest.

Julia’s firearms catalogues are phenomenal, presently approached in quality and accuracy only by Amoskeag Auctions, but there is no substitute for being there and seeing the items in person.

Please understand that Julia’s catalogues are more than just sales listings. They are historic repositories of hard-won information, useful to researchers of all sorts, as well as helping set some parameters on overall market prices.

Julia’s catalogue photographs set the industry standard. Nor have I ever seen an example where Julia’s mislead or provided an inaccurate description of some item. No doubt it has happened, but compared to the other auction houses, Julia’s descriptions are perfection. Gospel, really.

The Lancaster double rifle I was interested in came up quickly, and before I could indicate a number, it was already at double what I was prepared to bid. On quick second thought, I was ready to bid higher, but by then the auction price was already beyond double my highest bid, which was still forming in my mouth.

“Do you want to bid?,” asked Debbie.

“Nope. I’m out, it is already way beyond my highest” said I.

“But it was nice just to be able to bid one last time at Julia’s, a place I have come to love and fear,” I said.

Debbie laughed at my joke, and then after a few brief pleasantries she said goodbye, moving on to help the next phone bidder in what will probably go down in the history books as the most expensive, frenetic, chaotic firearms auction ever.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Julia’s has been purchased by Morphy Auctions here in central Pennsylvania.

I say unfortunately, because no one likes to see a good thing change, and Julia’s is not only a good thing, it has been the best thing in antique firearms auctions, bar none. So now that it is becoming part of Morphy Auctions, it is disappearing.

I say fortunately, because the merger will bring all the highest-end antique firearms to Morphy, which is much, much closer to my home. No more long, long drives to south-central Maine. But this may be too close.

And that is why I say unfortunately, because now that all these guns will be on display so close to my home, like less than an hour away, I will end up acting like a kid in a candy shop: Out. Of. Control.

Oh, my suffering wife. Yet more rusty junk, honey!

Which brings me to a much more poignant point: Don’t assume things will always be so, because in truth things are always changing. When you see something good, and it looks right, and it is going to bring you pleasure, or happiness, or a good investment, then strike while that iron is hot.

Just five months ago, Julia’s previous firearms auction had barely anyone in attendance. Hardly any bidding occurred on most of the firearms there. Maybe one or two bids per item, except for the especially rare or collectible, with most going for just one low bid, filed by absentee bidders. No one knew then that Julia’s was going to be merged with Morphy, and so no one showed much interest.

Had people known then what they know today…that October 2017 auction would have been a mad house, like today is, and the assemblage of fine, one-of-a-kind firearms would have been much more competitive.

For those of us who did participate, we reaped the benefits of low competition.

Goodbye, Julia’s! You will be missed. We welcome to central Pennsylvania the many outstanding firearms experts who have made Maine their home in the past decades. They will be happy here, surrounded by lots of natural beauty and an all-American culture that does not punish or stigmatize gun ownership.

My only hope is that Morphy carries on the same high quality catalogues that Julia’s produced, in style, substance, photography, and descriptive accuracy. That is one thing the industry cannot afford to lose.