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How I feel about my many liberal friends

If you have suffered abruptly ruptured friendships and precarious family relationships because of politics since Obama, you are not alone. You are among most people, especially if you have any independent, conservative, patriotic, or traditional pro-America beliefs. Obama brought with him the most divisive political atmosphere since the early Cold War, and his believers implemented that divisiveness with astounding aggression.

Here’s a small example.

A couple years ago I sold a really neat “vintage” National Park Service ranger hat to a lady in Texas via an online auction site. She was thrilled with the hat when it arrived, as it was described accurately, packed carefully, and she paid a fair price for it. She was happy about the exchange until she looked me up and saw what I believe. Suddenly she became unpleasant and full of nasty comments; about me, not that hat. Just to be sure, I used one of the many online services to look into her background, and sure enough, she was a rabidly partisan person who brooked zero disagreement. She judged me not by the happy transaction that had caused our paths to cross, but by whether or not I toed her political line.

Here’s another small example.

In early 2016 I was in detailed discussions with a woman in Vermont to buy her small business. It was perfect for what I can do and like to do, and for one of my kids. We got down to brass tacks, and she encouraged me to get my own website ready. I sent her the purchase contract and we set a mid-2016 date to meet and consummate the transaction. And then all hell broke loose. She had looked me up online and went from being an interesting and likable person to a hate-filled, snarling, angry jerk. The deal was off, because I had the “wrong” ideas, none of which had anything to do with the business we were going to transact.

And I am not even mentioning the many actual friends I have had, some for over thirty years, who have disavowed me, walked away from me, harangued me and then abandoned me, because I calmly disagreed with their assertions about politics and culture. It pains me even now to think how these paragons of virtue and open-mindedness behave so poorly, so intolerant of other views. Apparently traditional views that were A-OK in America for 220 years suddenly became so toxic and so, so bad, that anyone espousing them automatically had to be excommunicated, shunned, thrown overboard, humiliated, attacked, and so on.

It’s a crock o’ crap.

Since the 2016 election, liberals seem to have gone collectively lemming-like over a cliff and down into a pool of fiery, angry hate. Whether it is on a street where someone is simply wearing a MAGA hat (I don’t own one yet, but I do plan to get one; Nick Sandmann inspires me), or at a Trump rally, or on a social media site, liberals engage in physical violence, vandalism, and constant bullying of people they simply disagree with. They have worked themselves into a fantastically intolerant lather over election results they dislike, and gosh, they spare no one a full flaming if that person disagrees with them!

Even old friends who love them!

FakeBook’s censorious purge of conservative and independent voices (while retaining true haters), as well as Twitter and Instagram’s ongoing war on independent thinkers and conservatives (while allowing the Hamas terror group’s account to remain), is the natural result of all that intolerant hate for ideas and people who are not in lockstep with liberalism.

And of course I could do the same to them. I think liberalism is a cancer on America. I think the national Democrat Party has become the party of sedition and treason, that it has declared open war on America and its citizens, and that you can easily make the case for outlawing the party and legally punishing its members. I think Obama is an arch criminal who should swing. But all that does not mean I hate my liberal Democrat friends who liked or even adored Obama. That’s their business. I am not going to judge them because they made a mistaken choice about politics.

Here is a simple meme I made up tonight, from one of my favorite movies, “Some Like it Hot,” a truly subversive and pro-tolerance movie that still makes me involuntarily laugh out loud like a bleating camel or a braying donkey. This meme sums up my approach to remaining friends with liberals who, despite their best efforts to ruin our decades-long relationship, I still love and can still enjoy.

I’d say this is a model for how America should work. How it used to work. Tolerance, people, tolerance. We should still all be in the same boat, headed in the same direction, and at least respectful of one another. After all, nobody’s perfect.

NYT caused latest Synagogue shooting

One day last week the New York Times printed an obvious we-really-hate-Jews cartoon almost exactly like one of Adolf Hitler’s best, and the next day a young man filled with that same hate went to a synagogue in San Diego and shot people, one of whom died.

The young man was directly influenced by the NYT cartoon. No way can we separate the two incidents, they are directly connected, and it is time to hold the NYT accountable for the violent havoc it has been wreaking on America for many decades.

The NYT’s incessant drumbeat of hate and vitriol aimed at its political enemies (Republicans, Christians, non-assimilated Jews, conservatives, patriots, constitutionalists, Trump supporters etc) has grown in my adult life to include nearly everything this media outlet produces, daily. No barrier exists between its wild editorial pages and its supposed “news” writings; they are all mixed up, one and the same subjective, politicized, partisan nonsense aimed toward vilifying people the NYT owners and staff hate. For example, like its sister-in-crime the Washington Post, the NYT has actually published articles blithely explaining away ANTIFA violence and vandalism, thereby providing political and legal cover to these modern day Brown Shirt street thugs.

Once the easiest read of the paper, with dreamy fairyland luxury property listings, even the NYT real estate section has references to so-called climate change and environmental policy. That the NYT is 100% propaganda from front page to back page is not a question, and it is doubtful any senior person working there would seriously deny it.

The bigger question is how to hold both the NYT and its readership accountable for Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s death in her house of prayer, and for the myriad other acts of violence and hate directly resulting from hateful things that incite violence which the NYT publishes and prints.

The readership, too, you ask?

Yes, you bet. It is the NYT readership that is truly behind the NYT’s ability to incite violence against people. The effete, latté drinking, supposedly high-minded and oh-so-intellectual know-it-all liberals who read the NYT like it was just handed down from Mount Sinai will, on the one hand, decry the one and only semi-conservative news outlet out of hundreds of leftist ones, Fox News, and yet they will stand by their corrupt NYT, no matter how many times its factually incorrect stories and its corrosive role in our society are documented.

So yes, Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s innocent blood is on the hands of both the NYT and the NYT readers, too, as they alone give credence to and empower this glossy fountain of hate and violence. In a sane and fair world, they would abandon the NYT and denounce it. For shame on the NYT readers that they do not.

One must wonder why the NYT has not yet enjoyed a fate similar to that which it has encouraged against its own political enemies through its ANTIFA proxies, say, some Molotov cocktails through the ground floor windows…a taste of its own medicine would be delicious. I’ll bring the hotdogs and beer. Not that I am suggesting anything, no no no…just ask the NYT!

Below are some photos taken of a protest at the NYT a couple days ago. These are mostly Jewish people, including lawyer Alan Dershowitz, protesting about the cartoon. Imagine the nice sized crowd possible to protest the NYT’s treatment of evangelical Christians, or Mormons (see the ad on the light post for the anti-Mormon “Book of Mormon” play), or conservative Catholics, or American patriots against treason…hopefully those protests will happen. For now, we must be satisfied that a handful of American Jews are waking the hell up that liberals and liberalism are not their friends.

PolyClinic Psychiatric Hospital has the Craziest Signs

“We have been down here in the bowels of the PolyClinic Hospital for over thirty years, and yet we still regularly meet people who have worked upstairs in the same building for years who exclaim ‘I had no idea you were here in our building’,” said Joe Marinak, the Select Hearing Center‘s senior audiologist, now adjusting the ear buds in my head.

Having grown up shooting guns and working around chainsaws and farm machinery at a time before hearing protection became standard issue, my hearing now seemed just a little challenged. So it was time to get it checked again. So I used the closest hearing-checking facility possible, and sauntered over to the hulking concrete building, thinking “how hard could it be to locate…it’s an audiology center in a medical building…right?”

I was lucky to find Joe at all.

The welcome sign and the directory sign that greet visitors to that building are a freak show of bad planning and haphazard carelessness. The signs are almost crazy, kind of like most of the facility, which is, in fact, almost entirely devoted to psychiatric care (that is crazy people in non-PC talk land, which is where you are right now…non-PC talk land, not crazy people).

Here are some photos of some of the signs I encountered at PolyClinic on my journey to the “Select Hearing Center.”

While you are looking at the Memorial Building column, make sure to watch out for Landis Building locations. And how about the Mature Adult Services…is there a place for Immature Adult Services? After all, are not adults by definition mature, as age goes?

 

There is the at-first-glance-normal, quintessential “welcome” sign that is first presented to visitors when they enter the building foyer. The problem with this sign seems to be that there are actually two old buildings (Landis and Memorial) adjoined in the middle, where the common entrance remains, and at one time in the distant past people working and visiting there recognized that each building was separate and served distinctly different purposes. Now, however, each building has evolved and kind of morphed into one big indistinct building, and as such “it” has a bunch of service destinations listed: Lobotomies, second floor, electroshock third floor, padded cells in the basement, and so on (OK, I am joking here; this is just more non-PC, but it is, after all, still a crazy person place). The challenge to the people mis-managing this basic welcome sign developed whenever the services provided began to outnumber the lines on the sign. And so this sign has a greater number of destinations for both buildings than the sign has lines to accommodate. So the various destinations are just kind of listed ad hoc, no particular arrangement. Not even alphabetical. Maybe the people in charge of the signs are conducting experiments on the visitors? Or on the inmates? Or maybe they are laughing at us all, standing there dumbfounded, trying to make any sense out of any of this written communication.

Which way did he go, Mac? If you want Quality, you go one way, and if you want Safety, you go the exact opposite direction. This is called being Vertically Non-Integrated, or Linearly Mis-Aligned. Otherwise known as extremely confusing and unintelligible.

My favorite bizarro sign is the marketing one labeled “Our Pathway Journey.” It purports to represent the clear path upward and onward that the facility is taking toward improvement, better patient care, higher professional standards, and so on. Logically, such a sign, designed as this one is, would indicate that the path toward “quality” is the opposite of that toward “well-being,” despite the natural desire to think that walking the same single path with the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute will eventually arrive at all of these desirable destinations together. These are mutually exclusive directions, and to achieve one, you must trade off some other goal. You cannot walk the same pathway and arrive at all your destinations.

Check it out. The “Our Pathway” sign has arrows literally pointing in all directions, like a medley, like a random scattershot, like a crazy person would do if you asked them for directions. Arrows pointing in mutually exclusive, opposing directions actually tell us that this facility is helter skelter, and not organized. But if you are a crazy person, it probably makes perfect sense. Maybe a crazy person designed this sign for the UPMC Pinnacle Penn State Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute.

Talk about taking that fork in the road!

And nowhere in the building will you encounter a sign that says “You are now on the first floor of the Landis Building.” There is no “You are Here” map, anywhere.

No signs except the barely visible “Vending Area” sign on the very right hand edge of the photo. There were zero vending machines anywhere near this location.

More endless halls with no signs telling you where you were headed, or where you had come from

While on my long, zig-zagging path throughout the building to the audiology department, which I eventually determined is way way below grade, not on the ground floor as one sign stated, I had noticed that most of the long, windowless, door-less, maze-like bunker-like hallways had no signs at all. And when there were signs, they were either for non-existent vending machines or they pointed to a destination straight ahead, when in fact the correct but unmarked way was down the elevator.

The basement is strangely called the “Ground Floor.”

My other favorite sign is the one showing the eventual exact location of the audiology department, where I was headed. As you can see, though you have arrived there, the sign says that you can reach the department by going either left or right. Having wandered aimlessly about there in that basement for a long time, I can report back that this sign is not accurate. You have to go left, like the smaller sign below says.

Since when is the basement designated as the Ground Floor? You enter the building(s) on the ground floor, and work your way to the elevators, which take you down into the basement. The buttons on the elevators are marked B, for Basement.

It is natural to read this large sign overhead when you exit the elevator in the basement. It shows that the Select Hearing Center is both left and right, which I can tell you, is not true. The little eeny weeny sign on the wall beyond tells the truth: Go left, old man.

Let me tell you, if you were not crazy before you entered PolyClinic Psychiatric Hospital, you certainly have a much higher chance of being dazed and confused, if not downright nuts, once you have spent any time in there. Maybe this crazy sign arrangement is meant to keep the inmates from escaping? On my way back out I off-handedly commented about this weird experience to a middle-aged bespectacled worker bee-type lady just then exiting the staff lunch room, which is just above the foyer, invested in the heavy brickwork like a defensive fixture in a medieval castle.

She looked at me briefly, lucidly apprised my appearance, and then without a word in response she smartly walked down the hall to the “other” building on the other side of the foyer at a quick clip, looking down at her smart phone. Maybe she didn’t hear me? I could kind of tell her where the audiology department was, down in the basement, next to the morgue (no lie), if she were interested.

I have never felt so good to leave a building before. It was almost like escaping, and once outside I surreptitiously looked about before entering my vehicle. Had I been seen leaving?

As the old adage goes, truth is stranger than fiction. You couldn’t make these signs up, even if you tried. Ah what the hell, it’s the crazy person building. Who cares.

Book Review: The Uneven Road, by Lord Belhaven

The Uneven Road (1955), by Lord Belhaven

I read this fascinating book twice, and I recommend you read it at least once. Heck, just the old black and white photos of mysterious holy cities, like al Q’ara, (taken with early hand-held cameras from a bi-plane in the 1920s and 1930s) and traditional Arab tribesmen, both even today far out of reach of Westerners, are worth the five or ten bucks it’ll cost you to buy it on eBay or Amazon. For just five bucks you can get one of these fascinating and educational books, and have a most enjoyable weekend reading, and learning. Find me another great, safe, healthy mind trip for five bucks, please.

Why review a book published in 1955, about the now dead Brutish Empire? What made the British Empire so grand, so great? Setting aside the natural feelings of those locals who were subject to British rule, for better and for worse, one cannot help but marvel at the remarkable discipline, planning, administrative organization the British brought to their empire. Any nation today would be well served to get one tenth that level of service from its own government.

And why would a book published in 1955 be interesting today? For one thing, history has a tendency to repeat itself, or to repeat versions of itself — things that happened in the past seem to happen all over again. If we who are living now can harness the lessons of the past, then we can avoid the mistakes of the past, too; or at least so goes the best thinking. Certainly one must know history in order to know what happened, and how to identify when the same forces are at work once again.

In order to understand where we are today, we must look at what decisions and resulting actions got us here, and why those choices were made (come to think of it, I recently read another similarly aged but highly useful book titled Why England Slept, written in the 1940s and 1950s, then authored and published in 1962 by some then-nobody named John F. Kennedy). The Uneven Road does an excellent job of explaining much of the Middle East and East Africa through one man’s colorful and risky exploits from a military and diplomatic hot seat along the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, and then into the Italian Alps. Judging by current events, little has changed in the former.

As the title implies, the author took an uneven road in his long life, following completely neither his traditional Scottish upbringing nor his adopted British devotion to Empire. As he says in so many ways throughout the book, Lord Belhaven is a lot like his forebears, individualistic, strong, self-driven men who admired authority and convention as much as they bucked them and tried to fit into them on their own terms. Or one might say, Lord Belhaven and his ancestors tried to make convention in their own image. As an American, to me this independence streak is a highly laudable trait, even if it did damage to the already impressive careers of Belhaven and his father and grandfather.

The author is both very open-minded for his time, gleefully throwing off class and religious barriers that today seem so unbelievably feudal, especially to Americans (and familiar to those Americans who enjoyed the Downton Abbey series) with our hodge-podge zero-caste-system, but which were quite dominant in his early years. He is also representative of some persistent silly views that are also peculiar to certain groups of people where he is from, even today. To me, an American, whether I agree or not, this is all part of being a natural, well-rounded human being, and a sign of being interesting. Everyone has prejudices and sharp-edged opinions, and everyone is entitled to them. No one is perfect, our author does not claim to be perfect, nor does he engage in the vacuous virtue signaling which so sharply defines today’s Western civilization. More to the point, neither you nor I are anywhere near perfect or nearly as exciting as Lord Belhaven, and only very few people you or I have met or ever will meet are going to be nearly as interesting as Lord Belhaven.

Writing as a soldier, administrator, diplomat, lonely husband and then divorcee, and amateur historian/ethnologist/archaeologist, Belhaven is a gentleman, and also a manly man. He is the old archetypical British\Scottish aristocrat patriot, both swashbuckling and under steely self control, a thing of the past which, my gosh, we now could use much more of in our own time. He is clearly a warrior, and an effective one at that, and yet much of his book is stories about how he was not such a great warrior, or how he was charged with establishing peace in lawless places through diplomacy, and yet relied upon deadly warfare.

As he reminds us, especially with the burning of the village of Jol Madram, diplomacy without the real threat and the occasional implementation of brutal violence is simply indecisive inaction, a weakness that inevitably invites more lawlessness or aggression. For Belhaven, there is no foolish, circular “conflict resolution” without resolving the conflict to concrete terms he likes and which work for the most people. Instead of getting “triggered” and fainting into a safe space when confronted with adversity, Belhaven the man of action responds by putting his finger on the trigger of his revolver and explaining just how things are going to get back to full function, or else. In a Western world today of namby pamby political correctness and feminized men, reading this book I could not help but think How refreshing! And also, Where the hell did our masculinity go?

The author’s voice is forthright, unafraid, honest, and though a few times I may disagree with his views, I keep thinking as the pages are turned, “Now here is a man I could respect and like!” Would that Western Civilization today had many more men like Alex Hamilton, aka Lord Belhaven.

Spanning the 1920s through World War II, and published toward the end of the British Empire, The Uneven Road is one more fascinating on-the-ground report in a line of the “Hell, I was there” genre of personal adventure histories written by British military and political officers across the British Empire, upon which the sun did not truly set until the 1960s. The Uneven Road is one of the last from the frontier, and in my experience it is one of the better written and certainly the most personally reflective. In some ways it is a companion piece (maybe even a necessity) to books written by or about others who traveled, explored, dug archaeological treasures, politicked, and fought in and around the Arab Peninsula, such as Lawrence, Philby, Ingrams, Jacobs, and others.

There are many, many examples of these personal field reports and histories from the 1790s through the 1960s.  Some are famous, most are obscure, some are kind of boring, and many carry an overt agenda, and yet almost all are illuminating about life among the British Empire’s boots-on-the-ground administrators and soldiers, as well as the occasionally momentous political events of the day. The fact that these personal histories exist at all, and that they are often well written, says a lot about the high caliber of the British and Scots of that time, both the writers abroad and the readership waiting back home. The Uneven Road meets or exceeds all these standards.

While other major cultural “encounters” and confrontations have been largely or absolutely settled in the same time period, in key ways that are of great interest to the modern reader, this book is about East-meets-West, a contest that has only grown sharper and more defined a full hundred-plus years after it fully got under way, as described in these pages. 

Britain: A Culture of Selfless Patriotic Duty

One need not read a book to hear or know about England’s long established culture of patriotic duty and self sacrifice for king and country, but reading this book will help the interested reader gain real appreciation for both the depth of feeling most Britons had then, and for the real personal cost it then meant later on in their lives. The unbelievable battlefield losses in World War One and WW II greatly changed England’s culture, resulting in a legacy of pacifism, fear of inevitable conflict, and self-defeat we see officially operating today.

Throughout the first half of his fine book, Belhaven off and on artfully weaves an analysis full of personal anecdotes of British military culture, including how wealthy aristocracy would often take a vow of poverty (as opposed to running a family business or a valuable property) to serve in the military, for the simple satisfaction of providing patriotic service to the nation. The following quote only touches on this, but it covers enough other turf to qualify for mention here:

“One Saturday, towards the end of our last term at Sandhurst, Tony Keogh and I were both excused [from] work because of minor injuries. Tony Keogh was a dour Wellingtonian, whose ambition was to give a lifetime’s service to Waziristan on the northwest frontier of India, a country which his father had been the first to survey.” (page 40)

Waziristan of the 1920s is today several different ‘stans, including parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It included then as it does now all of the intolerant, violent religious fanatics who still make it such a special place. From the 1880s through the 1940s, British troop losses there were big. Can you imagine being the first person to scientifically survey a significant portion of the planet, this very rugged, remote place specifically, surrounded by such danger? And then bear a son who simply wants to pick right up where you left off? Such was the tough, brave stuff the British were made of, once.

<sigh>

And it was that same patriotic fervor and absolute selfless commitment that made such brave soldiers for World War I and then World War II, and then resulted in the pacifism of modern Britain, when few men returned home:

“Toll for the brave!” that most perfect of slow marches – how often had we marched to its slow, sharp rhythm. When I hear the tune now I can see, as I saw then, the high, shining fence of bayonets, the straight, erect lines moving forward with irresistible menace and force, the very symbol and image of war. And all with its glint of youth unafraid, unconquerable. Toll for the brave indeed; few who marched that day have pottered on as I have done for fifty years.” (Page 40)

<sigh>

His description of his surprise at winning the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst is both funny, and then sad, as his stiff-upper-lip military father refuses to acknowledge it until two years afterward, and only then sarcastically. That sword becomes a snapshot of his challenged relationship with his father and also a symbol of British culture.

Report from the Frontier: “It was impossible to be bored in Aden”

If India and Africa provided the greatest quantity of opportunity and adventure (the British defeat of France’s fleet at the Nile, the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ search by naturalist-explorers Burton and Speke for the source of the Nile, the Mahdi, the Zulu Wars, Islandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, the Boer Wars, and so on) for these far-flung representatives of Her Majesty’s Service, it was the Near East and Middle East that created the most vivid and gripping images consumed widely by the public, even today.

Think of “Lawrence of Arabia” and all the thrilling weight that phrase still carries a hundred years later. And so just a decade-plus after a charismatic young Brit, T.E. Lawrence, led the Arab revolt against Ottoman Turk rule throughout the Near and Middle East, it is primarily on and around the Arabian Peninsula that Lord Belhaven’s book takes us. It is an often militarized and occasionally one-man-army journey by foot, camel, horse, donkey, bi-plane, and boats of various type and size, including some pleasure craft of his own construction.

Based in Aden and sallying forth through abandoned ruins from hidden, unknown, lost civilizations to high mountain forts inhabited by fierce tribes, Belhaven fearlessly and luckily does his best to bring order to the fractured tribal chaos of the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, what today is known as Yemen and known then as the British Protectorate of Aden. Like most Brits of his time, Belhaven was an Arabist, an Arabophile who simply looked past the stark differences of Mohammedanism compared to his own culture of gentle mercy and forgiveness, stricken as he so clearly was by exotic Arab ways. His gunfights, in which he was sometimes greatly outnumbered, the aerial bombings, and his knife-edge nose-to-nose confrontations with cutthroat highway gangs and treacherous tribes are the stuff of legend; his fishing and hunting trips during working hours are not, though he does describe them in obvious joy and often at his own expense.

Though in a serious tone Belhaven opens up about his family life in the first third of the book, in the rest he makes it clear that he knew how to have fun and push British foreign office sensibilities beyond their traditional staid demeanor.

Belhaven gets extra credit for a dry wit and self-deprecating humor applied from several miles up. He does not take himself too seriously, or even seriously at all, at times, even as the bullets are flying and his life hangs by a thread. This bon vivant tone heartily leavens the serious life-and-death situations he describes, including shooting himself in the foot in the heat of battle, and nearly shooting his Somali hunting guide who chases a large leopard out of a cave and into Belhaven’s face, not to mention his rear line and front line experiences in World War Two.

One of the artifacts of time and place is the author’s fascination with genetics, a hot (and also destructive) topic of that era. Repeatedly marveling at the “pure” inbreeding of certain tribes along the southern Arabian Peninsula, the author relied upon simplistic, romantic, and plainly incorrect notions of genetics. But this is to be chalked up to the general and long lasting British awe and love for the colorfully fierce Arab nomads of that region. Whatever they did, no matter how backwards or weird, was very cool. Who can blame him for thinking thus? Were you or I to live out there today, we would find it just as alien and compelling as he did, and it would all be just as cool now as then.

Insights into his own family struggles with intimacy and finances, and the perhaps unrealistic lifestyle expectations accompanying title, are illuminating for those wondering how the famous British aristocracy slowly crumbled from the inside and out.

When it comes to archaeology, what is not mentioned is louder than what he might have written. Lord Belhaven apparently had an eye for long lost antiquities easily unearthed with the toe of a boot in the loose sand of some long lost civilization in the middle of the blistering desert. In a tempestuous sea of worldwide archaeological looting by British nobles, scientists and adventurers, Belhaven’s personal interest in a few old broken, abandoned things lying in the dirt was strangely singled out for criticism by a couple of bespectacled Peabody types in imperial administration back home. Belhaven makes no mention of any of this in his book, and maintains his focus on big picture civilizational development. As he should, in the tradition of the fighting naturalist-archaeologist hero; a kind of Indiana Jones.

Detailed references to carved alabaster amid the sands, and marble ruins, lost cities, dams, water works also occasionally appearing and then disappearing amidst the shifting sand dunes add an element of authentic mystery that is harnessed in the Indiana Jones and The Mummy movies. Except that Belhaven was actually there, and saw and explored those ancient mysteries with his own eyes.

Will a couple of “Aw, shucks” ruin all the “Atta Boys” in this book?

Though he does not explicitly set out to do so, the author’s plainly spoken recollections invite the reader to share the author’s unspoken pangs of loss over decreasing British influence and culture.

In 1955 the author was in good company, with his views on race (a word he uses many times with several different meanings), skin color, religion, and social class, even as he was clearly departing from those long-held views. Bigotry and class snobbery were then becoming a thing of the distant past, a change which Belhaven mostly embraces and in many ways led in his own “black sheep” personal way. Those anachronisms particular to that time period he retains were either common figures of speech, cultural crutches, or concrete functions of Caucasian minority survival in otherwise hostile foreign places.

We today may not agree with him or his use of some words, but he usually explains himself well, and so we can often understand his thinking. Understand is the key word here, and it does not mean or infer acceptance or approval. And if the reader wonders why I, myself, am insufficient in my condemnations of the author’s few lapses, may I suggest one consider the word “tolerance,” or the phrase “open minded,” or that almost extinct word “understand.” In other words, that was then, this is now, these are different times than then, and once again, everyone has opinions and views that others find “offensive” or uncomfortable. Get over it, get over yourself, learn to tolerate differences in opinion, and move on. I did, and you can, too.

In an educated and open society such as ours, everyone is entitled to an opinion, even a wrong opinion, and even a bad one. God knows, today’s self-righteous book-burning censors falsely accusing everyone else of political heresy and racism have plenty of bad and wrong opinions themselves. In the past, people have been and should continue to be able to disagree with one another without taking silly offense at the simplest of differences, and then retreating to corners and brandishing the war colors. Goodness gracious, people, put away the guillotines! Give people some space to be wrong, or to explain why they thought they were right. And that maturity is what a reader must bring with them to get the most on this trip through time.

For example, in a book full of many humorous and comical stories, anecdotes and quick turns of phrases, there are a couple references to race and genetics, captured so perfectly in The Uneven Road, that really shine a light onto the important evolutionary changes of thinking and attitude about race and skin color happening in the pivotal 1950s. Recall that Belhaven is a born aristocrat:

“I found the whole subject of breeding, as it was accounted in our curious society, absurd; if a man married the crossing-sweeper’s daughter, no one bothered to find out about her breeding; her father’s trade was enough to condemn the match. When it was discovered that he was a rich Jew, who swept crossings through eccentricity, opposition could be relaxed, particularly if he kept race-horses and was a member of the Carlton.” (P. 29)

One page later Belhaven hilariously describes how his Eton school class failed a basic introductory genetics course on mice, with the best and wildly cheered answer to the teacher’s question being a boy’s half-assertion-half-question that inbreeding causes parents to eat their young.

Fast forward sixteen years and Belhaven, now working as a British Political Agent in the Arabian Peninsula, writes: “I have sat in their gathering of Princes, in their Chief’s lamp-lit reception-room and watched them, their skins shining like polished gun metal in war-paint of oil and indigo, a dull sheen of gold and silver in their great daggers, curved with the curve of the moon; the remnant of a great nation indeed, virile, unconquered by arms or by time, handsome and courageous. And marvelling, I have remembered that these men among whom I sat married always, by long custom amounting almost to law, among their own family; so through the millennia they have achieved an extraordinary purity of breeding…for a period of five thousand years…”  (P. 86, emphasis added)

And so, as much as Belhaven mocked his fellow students on their failure to grasp the essentials of healthy, necessary genetic diversity among mice and humans, he then later includes himself in their unfortunate company by endorsing the worst sort of human inbreeding, still going on even today in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the intellectual price one might pay for getting emotionally involved with something, as did Belhaven and all of his fellow Arabists. However, it remains fact that none in that time could have remotely foreseen that a surprisingly large number of parents across the Middle East would today encourage their own children to engage in suicide bombings and attacks. Talk about parents eating their young…

Just coming out of the real, actual Lawrence of Arabia time, an amazing time of high military and political adventure, and his living and working in that exact location with many of the same people, Belhaven’s near infatuation with all things Arab and Islam were then and are now understandable. His views on the Middle East were widely shared among his fellow Brits and Scots at that time. Even today many British still cling to detached, romantic notions of Arabia and Sharia-compliant beheadings and stonings, though having now painfully absorbed nearly half of the Arab world into London and having watched the other half wage sadistic war amongst themselves at home, and against Western Civilization abroad, has been shifting those old romantic notions into some other cold, hard, realizations.

Similarly, his views on Jews and Judaism range from the ground-breaking class acceptance (done with excellent humor at the expense of his fellow Brits; see above) to the old traditional British snobby disdain. He was only a little less tough on the Church of England. One must wonder what Belhaven would have written had he lived to see most American Jews and the Church of England and the current Pope all almost wholeheartedly embrace Marxism and anti-Western anarchy. If there is a resurrection of the dead, I want to be right beside Belhaven, so I can be the first to hear his colorful, insightful reaction to these unfortunate, really unbelievable facts.

One thing Belhaven did not live to see was the now-modern state of Israel, the then-nascent version of which he refuses to name in his book, but which he negatively alludes to several times. This is the old fashioned British Arabist coming through. Of the Jews of Yemen he has a brief but historically important and also humorous first hand encounter and report; but he then fails to mention their subsequent unjust inclusion among the nearly one million innocent Jewish refugees ethnically cleansed by his cool Arab friends from their ancient, very pre-Islamic communities across North Africa, the Near East, and the Middle East.

“So we came near to the end of our stay in Sa’na. Champion [Sir Reginald Champion, then Civil Secretary to Aden and later its Governor] and I called on the head of the large Jewish community in the city. Although considered by the Arabs to be an inferior race, the Jews of the Yemen were well treated by the Imam [Imam Yehia, a Shia leader who later lost the Arabian Peninsula to the Wahhabi al-Saud family, and whose spiritual descendants today are the once-again rebellious Hauthis]…Now there are no Jews left, they have all gone to Palestine, a Promised Land without either the milk of human kindness or the honey of their expectations…” (P. 104)

Hello, Lord Belhaven, reality is calling now, just as it did in 1955. The Yemenite Jews did not just casually get up and leave their homes in Yemen of 2,000 years for Israel out of a desire for better falafel or flush toilets; they were universally axe murdered and driven out of their homes by the same Muslims you so admire, the lucky survivors arriving in Israel with the shirts on their backs, their family homes and businesses stolen and occupied, their bank accounts looted, their personal property removed by force, like all the other Jews from every other Arab country at the same time. So why Belhaven ignores these facts to get in some shots on Israel is, again, likely a question of the impact of that romantic infatuation with remote alien cultures. Were he alive today, he would probably be a Christian Zionist like another famous and contemporaneous British Arabist, Col. Meinertzhagen (who when introduced in private to Adolf Hitler responded to the perfunctory ‘Heil Hitler‘ with his own ‘Heil Meinertzhagen‘).

Did Belhaven write some occasionally harsh stuff? Maybe so, certainly by today’s standards. But so what. Get over it. On balance, this book is 99.999% fascinating, illuminating, educational, and important history. Why judge and then dismiss the entire work based on a couple anachronisms from his own day?

As briefly mentioned above, one of the big challenges our younger generations are failing at is their tendency to immediately be offended by, and then harshly judge and dismiss, older generations by applying current standards. Instead of trying to understand how the previous generations thought, and why they fought way back when. Surely there must have been compelling reasons for the many momentous decisions that were made and then chiseled into stone or cast in bronze. Not everything back then is “racist,” which has become as hollow a crutch word as can be found. As old statues, symbols from important self-inflicted internal wars across America, are pulled down by screaming, infantile, anti-history mobs, one cannot help but wonder if the screamers will ever be interested in why the statue was erected in the first place. Or do they aim to simply re-write history (irrespective of the actual facts, causes and effects) to suit whatever political purpose suits them at some future time? I would rather have Belhaven’s honest accounting than a dishonest re-writing of who we are and how we got here.

In sum, whatever “Aw, shucks” Belhaven may have earned in a few spots here or there, they are far outweighed by the many “Atta Boys” he racks up over and over throughout this excellent book. For those younger folks who are actually and truly interested in understanding history, and how people’s views on race, religion, and income\ social standing changed over time in Britain and America, and how the Arabian Peninsula yet remains completely unchanged, The Uneven Road is a refreshingly honest and educational Exhibit A at the crucial time of the post-war 1950s.

Obscurity often means fascinating

Many years ago, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it was an actual newspaper that reported much actual news, instead of having the entire paper be one editorial after another masquerading as news, which it does today, the New York Times published a series of articles based on the simple methodology of having a news reporter (another extinct species the younger generations have never seen) open the New York City phone book (‘And what, too, is that?’ the younger generations ask) and randomly place his or her finger on the page. This was done ten times over the course of a bit over a year, as I recall. Whoever’s name was there over the finger nail got a call from the finger’s news reporter, who then did a detailed report on that person’s life. As the subsequent reports showed, despite living almost entirely quietly and privately in the big anonymous city, each and every one of those randomly selected people had nonetheless led a fascinating and often deeply compelling life.

And so, here now we have similarly plucked out of historical obscurity a book long out of print and probably originally of interest to few beyond aging British soldiers and Foreign Service dignitaries. Yes, here in Lord Belhaven we have a man whom very few have heard of, and as he is an aristocrat he is presently out of favor for having violated some social construct or…thing, even though he was a reflective, self-deprecating, risk taking and self-sacrificing humble public servant who enjoyed breaking with his own social norms and elevating many downtrodden. His life was more than fascinating, it was bigger than life, as we say. It was certainly bigger than my life or anyone else’s life I know of, and I know some pretty adventurous people in military and law enforcement, as well as international hunters. And today outside of Britain and America’s special forces operating abroad, very few public officials do anything close to what Belhaven did. And given the opportunity, few today would take it. Pity.

It was people like Lord Belhaven who put the “great” in Great Britain. Given how far and wide Hollywood looks for true-to-life stories, why no one has done a movie based on this book or on Belhaven’s life is one of those mysteries that highlights how shallow Hollywood is. Because it is true that Indiana Jones was mere Hollywood fiction, whereas Lord Belhaven was for real.

Rendering bear grease, Round II

Last year was a first try at something that has beckoned for a long time, and that was making bear grease out of bear fat. If you search here in the blog you will see the kind of double boiler approach that effort started with, and you will see that it took too long, though it did provide a good product.

Why would someone want to make bear grease from rendered bear fat? Fair question.

To begin with, in the natural world, fat is a major and valuable commodity. It is important to survival and is hard to come by; under normal natural conditions, it is a sign of high health. Only in modern, materially successful, over-consumptive Western countries has high human fat become a liability, a health problem. Just a couple hundred years ago, heck even a hundred years ago, most Americans could not eat enough to make up for the energy they spent during their daily lives. Today we Americans are overfed and sedentary, eating ourselves into early health problems. We do not move enough. So we look at fat and think fat is “bad.”

But bear fat is especially good. Because they hibernate from late November through March, bears usually pack on a tremendous amount of fat starting in July and August. The fat reserves they build up will feed their sleeping bodies over the long cold winter in a specialized and not totally understood way. Bear fat is very different from any other kind of fat you will ever see, and some people have said it most closely resembles whale blubber. While whales do not hibernate, they are warm-blooded mammals that occupy freezing cold oceans and dive to unbelievable depths for food. Such a hostile surrounding requires a wall of natural fat that both protects and feeds the whale’s body. So bear fat is supposedly a lot like whale fat, which means it is unique and performs unique tasks that most other animals do not require.

[Sidebar here: Think about the Canada Toad, which survives in frozen tundra by having its body freeze solid over the winter, while a special hormone keeps its blood thinned, liquid, unfrozen, and moving slowly throughout its body to keep its organs alive. Some of these adaptive traits are things we humans can benefit from for medical purposes, if we but care about the animals’ habitats so that they are around when we get around to wanting to study them]

Think about Inuit and Inupiak (“Eskimos”) in the Arctic Circle and North Pole region. Even today, many of them will sit down and eat raw seal and whale blubber as a snack, usually warm right off the carcass. Clearly this is not a bad thing, as these impressive and hardy humans have thrived on this natural food for at least 15,000 years in the most brutal conditions. So again, bear fat is closely related to these other sources of needed fat and thus it is a good fat. If you were to consume mostly bear fat in your daily diet, your body would probably function a lot better. I am willing to bet that bear fat is far easier for human stomachs to break down and for human bodies to metabolize than dairy butter, deadly chemical margarines, and beef and pork tallow.

So why would I make bear grease from bear fat? Because I want to, that’s why. I am drawn to natural living and natural things, and getting back to basics is what a healthy life is all about. While I myself will not eat bear fat or grease (or whale or seal blubber for that matter), there are many people who I care about who can and will eat it. Plus there are other uses for it, which I have experimented with and found it to be amazing. Those uses are as a leather preservative, and bear grease is AMAZING at this, far better than anything you can buy. And then there is the lubricating function on a patched round ball rammed down the barrel of one of our flintlock rifles. So far I have seen bear grease provide a longer lasting, better lubricating film on the metal than any other bullet lube I have used. And I use all the best commercially available bullet and patch lubes on the market. Finally, I have begun experimenting with bear grease as a rust preventative on steel, like shop tools and machine parts. I am in the middle stage of this experiment, so right now I have nothing to report back with. But if it is anything like the patch lube effect on our rifle barrels, it will be excellent.

And again, yes, if you want to bake pastries with bear grease, you can. People say it is absolutely delicious and the best of all oils for that use. Some of the recipients of the bear grease I have created will probably do that. If I hear from them, I will report back here.

So this time around, I used an antique cauldron. A big one, on a tripod, over a propane burner. The fat came from a 611-pound male black bear killed by Travis Dietrich here in Dauphin County, on ground I manage. Travis was able to get about 40 pounds of bear fat into a cooler, and it has sat in a freezer or outside in the frozen cold, since Travis dropped it off at my home a month ago. The cauldron could have held a lot more bear fat, probably a few hundred pounds of it, but we puny humans could only remove and store that one big hunk this time, and so that is what we had to work with. Last year I had about five pounds to work with, from a young, tender bear killed by Kenny Youtz, actually very close to where this year’s bear was taken.

Maybe the next time a bear is killed, we will just move the cauldron and burner to the bear and start tossing the fat right into the pot. That way we can get all of it used, at its freshest, and waste nothing.

Learning from last year’s experiment, the double boiler method was just too damned long. So this time four gallons of well water were poured into the cauldron and heated to a boil, and then chunks of trimmed and cleaned bear fat were tossed in. Remember last year: Include zero meat, and I mean none, not even a tiny sliver, if you want a smell-free grease to result. Even the tiniest pieces of meat impart a pleasant but very meaty aroma to your leather preservative.

Fat chunk sizes ranged from fist to finger, and one of the lessons learned in this trial is that size matters. Actually, smaller is better when it comes to rendering bear fat. Most of the people who do this regularly use a meat grinder to get the bear fat broken down into strands that really truly cook down, quickly, and give up as much of the fat content as can be had.

And let us take note: Bear fat itself is kind of…a meaty consistency. It is not like any fat you have handled before, unless you work on a Japanese or Russian whaling ship, or you are a whale or sea mammal biologist (studying cetaceans). So cutting up the fat with a knife takes time. Use a clean cutting board and be prepared to resharpen your knife along the way.

What was learned this time is that the initial boiling water does buffer the process. It starts gently melting the bear fat and creating a pool of rendered liquid that will itself become the direct rendering agent for the bulk of the fat chunks after the water has steamed off in a great billowing mass. And when the water has boiled off, which you can tell because the steam is reduced and is becoming replaced with light smoke, turn down the heat, or the grease will quickly scald and burn, and then you have just about ruined it. The pool of grease that has been rendered so far will then get to work on rendering the rest of the fat remaining in the pot. It is like deep frying fat chunks.

The resulting chittlins (or cracklings as some people call them) are supposed to be really tasty, and I saved mine for friends to eat and for my own trap bait. Yes, some people will eat trap bait. Or, some people will use gourmet cuisine as trap bait. Strange world we live in. Take your pick.

This has been a lengthy post and I am about out of time and words. Here were my takeaways this time:

  1. Render your bear fat as fast as you can. The longer it sits, the more you will get some faint rancidity on the surface that must be trimmed off.
  2. Cut your bear fat chunks as small as possible, using a meat grinder if possible.
  3. Do not over heat or overcook the bear fat. This year it was on the slightly over-cooked side, because I was operating in the dark and did not notice just how deeply brown the chittliins had become. A slight brown shows they are cooked. A deep brown shows they have been completely deep fried and the oil has become super heated. The oil/ grease will then become brown from the high heat. We are aiming for a creamy white grease that solidifies easily when refrigerated or frozen.
  4. You can strain your bear grease through a cloth or coffee filter, but I did not. As I am not eating it, I just left the cauldron outside overnight in the 25-degree cold, which caused the grease to congeal. In the early morning I scooped up the best fat first, which is easily identifiable as the hard white tallow. Below the surface was the slightly brownish grease with a slightly grainy texture, and then below that were the fine particles that were not scooped out with the strainer. I took everything, each with its own use and purpose. The bottom of the barrel, so to speak, was taken for my friends’ dogs, which will probably enjoy the tasty treat and get a super glossy coat of hair. The creamy white, hard tallow is best for leather preservative. The brownish, unfiltered grease will harden up and is best for greasing ball patches and preserving steel surfaces.

Pictures and captions below should help, and I do hope this helps. Last year’s bear grease post was right up there in the top two or three on all the search engines, so people are really reading up on this neat process.

NOTE: WordPress has recently been “improved,” and it is now much less user-friendly, very hard to use. Especially with posting photos. When I went to the WordPress online forum today, a lot of other users are complaining. I have already spent a lot of time on this essay and lost half of what I put in. The new editor is terrible, and simply deletes a great deal of text. I apologize for the poor photo formatting, but I am not yet used to whatever “improvements” were made to the software. Believe me, I am trying to edit these, but the straight forward commands that WordPress had before are now gone. Like so many things digital today, “improvements” are made that eliminate the simplicity and ease of use of prior generations. Maybe this is a job guarantee for coders. Please bear with our technical difficulties…

These bags of bear grease are not all of the final result, but account for about 90%. About two quarts were bottled for friends and are set aside outside of this photo.
The water is boiling off in a billowing cloud of steam. The white fat chunks are visible

 

The bear fat chunks are now really starting to cook down in the rendered oil. They are being deep fried. I should have stopped it at this point, but instead allowed the process to go on another 25 minutes.
In the dark of night, using only an overhead porch light, the chittlins looked fully cooked at this color. Fact is, they had indeed become fully cooked, but the grease around them was overcooked.
Literally the bottom of the barrel. Not a whole lot of grease was rendered from that forty pounds of fat. The different layers and different qualities of resulting grease can be seen, with that creamy white, pure, hard grease at the very top, and the brownest bottom material held the fines and smallest chittlin bits. Had I cared to strain all of the grease through a cloth, I am sure it would have been cleaner and whiter as a result. But for my needs, this was good enough.

Chittlins. I saved these as trap bait and for friends who like wild game cuisine. The newspaper underneath is the Patriot News, and this is the highest and best use for that partisan propaganda Fake News publication.

Great American Outdoor Show is here!

The Great American Outdoor Show is here all this week, and you owe it to yourself to see it.

Unlike “gun shows” and related flea markets full of rusty junk and Mabel’s old kitchen odds n’ ends, the Great American Outdoor Show is 100% pure beef sprawling across acres and acres of Pennsylvania Farm Show Building. It is a completely unadulterated gear-queer’s heaven-on-earth, with everything from classy side-by-side British shotguns to endless arrays and permutations of tactical gear and “Black Rifle” accoutrements.

Trop Gun Shop usually has some sort of modern “urban assault vehicle” parked there; several years ago it was a 1960s VW van re-designed to look like a Bat Mobile replete with a mini-Vulcan automatic belt-fed rotary cannon on top. Super cool stuff.

Just about every major gun manufacturer is here, except for Kimber, I think, which is sad, because Kimber makes top quality handguns and hunting rifles. The public would benefit from being able to fondle, errr, become acquainted with their fine creations. For example, a friend of mine took a 140-inch whitetail buck this past winter in the Adirondacks wilderness, miles from any roads. His rifle was….a Kimber Adirondack in .308, with which he gets quarter-inch groups at 100 yards. Now that is an accurate gun.

And so with all these gun manufacturers on location, you can pick up and handle just about any handgun made in America today, as well as the Italian revolvers used by Cowboy Action Shooting folks. Concealed carry is a big deal these days, and every serious concealed carry handgun is available to test out. Except the Kimbers.

There are custom knives, mass-produced knives, a Persian guy selling low-cost Damascus blades made in Pakistan and China with God-knows-what-metals in them, duck boats, bass boats, ultra-deluxe fishing kayaks by Hobie, the Portable Winch, animal calls of every sort, specialty ammunition, a gazillion hunting and fishing outfitters from around the world, and everything else you could possibly imagine or want.

Well, JRJ Knives is not there this year, as he has missed the past two years. John has more demand than he can keep up with, and I guess he don’t need no stinkin’ show. But his presence is always enjoyed, and I miss seeing him here.

My appearance at the GAOS is always closely tied to the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen & Conservationists, at whose booth I am an annual volunteer, holding down the fort with the likes of Grouchy Dennis, Happy Phil, Over-Mother Melody and many others who volunteer their time to help PFSC help sportsmen. And there is no other organization in Pennsylvania that helps sportsmen like the PFSC. In fact, right now the NRA does not have a representative working in Pennsylvania, and it is the PFSC lobbyist who is carrying the NRA’s load these days in the legislature.

Of course there is FOAC, and they do amazing work, but when it comes to conservation, science-based wildlife management, AND firearms rights, PFSC is it.

And so for me the GAOS is all about the PFSC, and serving the sportsmen.

The show goes on through Saturday, and you should see it to believe it. It is truly incredible.

 

Speaking of cold weather, here is a wood stove review

Eleven years ago we purchased a new wood burning insert for the big fireplace in the living room. It replaced a small wood burning stove with a blower I had temporarily put there to finally project some real heat into the big space around it. Here is the review of the replacement wood burning insert.

This is an old stone house with beautiful fireplaces upstairs and down, begging to be put to use. Because the 16-inch-thick stone walls have zero insulation, wintertime becomes a simple question of how much energy can you dump into the first floor. The more you dump in, the only marginally more comfortable a person feels. The attic is fully insulated, and there are 1960s storm windows, but these are only part of the efficiency challenge. Basically the place is a big sieve, leaking energy out of every seam, nook, crevice, and old window, so it’s a battle we just won’t win. But with certain types of energy, like wood and coal, we can really keep shoveling it in and enjoy the relatively cheap rewards of abundant heat in one location.

Think of it as a family campfire in the living room.

As I grew up in a rough-sided home that heated only with wood (and where I would see my own breath vapor on winter mornings in my bedroom, because it was the farthest from a heat source), and I grew up splitting tons of wood all summer and fall as one of my chores, running a wood burning stove today is first nature to me. And I like it. Pictures over the years of the entire family snuggled together, asleep on top of and under wild game skins, in front of the fire, makes a dad’s heart grow fond for those early years, before the kids grew up and had their hands out all the time.

Somewhere in the 1970s a gas-burning log insert had been put in this living room fireplace, and we removed it in 2007. It was gaudy, silly looking, and highly vented, which meant it was a show horse and not a work horse. Its heat all went right up the chimney! Ambience? Barely. Heat? Zero.

Though I had my eye set on a QuadraFire 5100 insert, I was sweet talked out of that choice by a stove salesman in Mechanicsburg. He had worked with and for my dad for many years, many years ago, and because of that long relationship I figured he would not lead me astray. Well, that transaction ended up another lesson in “assume nothing,” because the Pacific Energy Summit insert we bought from him just absolutely sucks crap all damned day long. It is nearly trash, and at $5,000 installed, you don’t want or expect trash. It is nowhere near the performance of the QuadraFire, hell it is probably not even the performance of an open campfire.

The primary deficiency with the Pacific Energy Summit is it has a single rudimentary air intake, up front and center. Theoretically this location draws in fresh air across the fire and out the back as the gases are vented around the baffle and up the chimney, theoretically resulting in an even burn that consumes all the wood and produces a lot of heat.

Well, the Summit is a lesson in failed theory, because this one single source of air results in an oxygen-starved fire where 3/4 to 2/3 of the fire box is a mass of half-live half-dead coals and baked wood mixed with heavy ash, and the actual fire and source of heat is just up front by the door. It produces very little heat for all the massive amount of wood that is put in it. And do we ever shovel in the wood here, because the Summit just chews through it. Apparently the baffle is poorly designed, too, because you’d think the steel jacket surrounding the fire box would get hot, but it doesn’t. Most of whatever heat is produced just goes up the chimney, which is a waste of energy.

Our hunting cabin has a small QuadraFire wood stove, and it requires very little wood to turn the house into a hot sauna, even in the dead of  frigid winter. Like our wood stove at the cabin, the QuadraFire 5100 insert I was talked out of also has four points of air entry into the fire box. Air entering from all these angles, front and back, results in an even burn that pulls maximum heat from the wood consumed in the fire box, and it also allows for a fine tuning of each fire. The ash from the QuadraFire is very light, very thin, which means all of the wood is being burned up and converted into fire.

Conversely, the wood ash from the Summit is heavy, meaning a lot of biotic material remains in it, which means it has not completely burned. It is no surprise, because the insert’s design is so bad. Had I not been sold a bill of goods by the Pacific Energy salesman, and had my natural skepticism that guides me so well in all other matters overcome my sense of loyalty to an old acquaintance, I would have purchased the QuadraFire 5100 and I would have been a much happier person for it.

A once-young logger I have worked with for the past twenty years has a QuadraFire 5100 insert at his cabin, and he really likes it. He told me it is “one of my few possessions that actually works correctly and which I would not sell, ever.”

On the other hand, I am about to give away this junky Pacific Energy Summit insert, which has eaten up so much of my hard-won firewood over the years. I would never buy another one.

Lame morning wood in the Pacific Energy Summit. A big bank of hot and cold coals raked forward to the front, the single source of air. This is its usual incomplete burn.

Pacific Energy Summit after a full burn and coals raked forward. An efficient wood stove will burn wood down into ash quickly. The Summit is so grossly inefficient that wood turns to a thick bed of coals that smothers the one single air intake and produces very little heat.

A poker end buried in a heap of coals. Even with the air flue all the way open, the Summit still doesn’t burn efficiently. It wastes firewood.

Even weather.com promotes fake news, fake science

The other day President Trump mocked the anti-science “climate change” political activism crowd when he tweeted about the need for some “global warming” to offset the record low temperatures descending upon  America. He was joking, and mocking, but everything he does creates an opening for enemies of America to attack him.

So cue up the faux indignation and mocking responses in return.

Fake science and lame-ass blatant political activism miraging as news reporting came from everywhere: Business insider, Newsweek, The Independent (UK), CNN, New York Times, Yahoo, Vanity Fair, and many other political activism outlets that pose as news outlets, including, amazingly, weather.com.

Weather.com, you ask?

And the answer is sadly, Yes, even weather.com, which you would think is just about the weather. Turns out that even weather.com is fully in the tank for anti-scientific climate change political activism. The one article weather.com staff wrote actually seriously evaluated just what more “climate change” would mean for America and the planet, and how terrible it is that President Trump wants this.

Either leftist activists have no sense of humor, or they are such crazed activists that no matter what someone says, it must always be turned into a political debate and crisis and a nuclear bomb aimed at whomever it is they disagree with at that moment. I vote for leftists being crazed, because nothing else explains their behavior. And so, weather.com published a very serious-sounding article about Trump’s tweet worthy of something from that source of awesome satire, The Onion. The article actually purports to be about how Trump is both a bad person for wanting more global warming, and how global warming is nothing to laugh at.

So weather.com wants it both ways: Trump is bad, and stupid, and by the way, just in case he wasn’t serious, he shouldn’t joke, either.

Every other mainstream fake news outlet followed suit with variations on this same theme, Trump bad and stupid, and global warming must not be mocked.

What surprised me was just how politicized weather.com is (and Business Insider, for that matter, being that it is aimed at business people). So I submitted a comment on the weather.com feedback page:

Your ridiculous article about President Trump calling for “global warming” was 100% political attack on the president and zero percent science. The president was obviously, plainly joking about having “more global warming” and your decision to treat his joke as something serious worthy of real analysis is either stupid or political activism by your website. I am guessing your article is political activism, because it criticizes the president as if his joke was meant to be serious. I object to weather.com politicizing the weather. I also object to weather.com relying on the opinion of politicized climate activists posing as academics, and then failing to obtain a balanced or opposing view from actual scientists who dispute human-caused climate. You are promoting a religious view, not a scientific view. At the very least human caused “climate change” is a nascent scientific subject to review and debate. Presenting it as settled is a subjective choice weather.com makes and thus, your credibility is damaged. Please leave politics out of your weather reporting. It certainly alienates me from wanting to use your web page or service.

And then I went further into weather.com and discovered entire sections of the website devoted to climate change fraud, and slickly packaged.

Why is it fraud? Because their assertion of human-caused climate change rests almost entirely on the provably false notion that “all scientists agree” that climate science is “settled.”

A) There is no such thing as climate science, and what science there is about climate change is all over the place. Real science is hardly ever “settled,” and it becomes settled then only after a long, robust and transparent debate. This kind of debate has not happened with climate change, because a great deal of it being politicized (“everyone says this is settled, so shut up”).

B) Scientists who have studied weather, climate, forestry, ecology, meteorology etc have come down all over the place. There is no universal agreement among scientists. Asserting there is universal agreement is like politics or religion. Leap of faith, or leap of belief in political outcomes.

So, add weather.com to the long list of political actors masquerading as scientists and humble service providers.

Duly noted!

Politics over weather science:

Holocaust Remembrance Day. What do people remember, and why do they remember it?

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and for the vast majority of Americans citizens, this day is vaguely associated with liberating WWII death camps in Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. That is about it.

Maybe you watched Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan, or the 2008 movie Defiance, about the Belsky brothers, rural redneck Jews who knew how to use guns and live off the land, and who fought back effectively against their homicidal German neighbors. These movies and others keep alive a spirit of awareness that something went really wrong in WWII, but let’s face it, that distant past becomes murkier with every passing year.

In a bunch of American government schools, today is used to teach specifically about the costs of intolerance, broadly speaking, because history lessons are best applied to circumstances in a person’s own life, not to some ghost of the now-distant past. So one view of the history of racial relations in America features prominently; any positive aspects are discarded in the interest of heightening awareness by honing victims’ vulnerabilities. Agendas aside, teaching tolerance of others is generally a good thing. Some teachers probably draw upon more recent examples of genocide like Rwanda, or recently resurrected examples like Turkey’s attempt to ethnically cleanse the Armenian People from Earth.

Still, there is no question about it, Hitler’s Third Reich took an innate German genius for mechanical and physical science to a whole new level and then bent it for evil. A grotesque mis-use of God-given talent followed, devoting entire nationwide train systems and military assets to try to exterminate Europe’s Jews, and any Gypsies, Christians, and gays caught up in the dragnet, while Germany simultaneously and justifiably burned for its sins. And then the Russians walked in….but that is another story of revenge for another time.

Using the otherwise brilliant German creation of Zyklon B gas (which in 1947 spawned a family of super dangerous, super effective organophosphate insecticides used to keep American fruits and vegetables looking shiny and fine for market) to choke to death herds of naked humans in concrete death chambers is really the biggest take-away image of the Holocaust. This cruelty and savagery remains unimaginable, and those dedicated to remembering it the most are Jews from Europe, because they suffered the worst.

So why today do so many (mostly secular) American Jews practically worship the Holocaust, revel in the victimhood, and then simultaneously support political movements and policies that mirror all of the totalitarian behaviors that led up to the Holocaust?

A large majority of today’s American Jews are utterly devoted to the same kind of destructive, intolerant, vitriolic, hate-filled politics that resulted in the creation of Nazi Germany, the demonization of Jews there, and their final destruction. And of course, one of the key policies that enabled the Nazis to take power was their nation-wide civilian disarmament, the removal of all guns, even sporting arms, from private ownership. This is something that would be a dream come true to a majority of today’s American Jews, who also happen to be registered Democrats, which is today’s leading source of intolerance, dehumanizing demonization of political opponents, hate, violence, and political instability in America. The Democrat Party and many of its young Jews are also leading forces against Israel, the one place Jews could go, if they were under mass threat once again.

So one has to wonder: What do people today really, truly remember about the Holocaust? And did they really, truly learn any lessons from it?

The choices you face:

Gillette’s toxic femininity falls flat

If you have missed the latest in big virtue signalling and social justice nonsense, go find the Gillette razors “Be the best a man can be” advertisement.

[And here is a measured analysis of it by Matt Christensen]

This ad is directly insulting to men and basic masculinity. It tries to re-define basic masculinity into a weenie, a wuss, a pansy, a wimp, a limpwristed femi-man who doesn’t look at anyone unless spoken to and who doesn’t speak his mind without raising his hand first and asking permission.

The ad is full of straw man depictions of stupid boorish behavior that any normal person would roll their eyes at, hardly representative of actual men, but it is also really super full of and targeted at behavior that is perfectly normal and healthy. Like two little boys wrestling on the grass at an outdoor BBQ. Yes, even little kids wrestling is considered bad by the wusses at Gillette. Even Gillette is now part of the war on boys and boyhood.

I wrestled, from seventh grade into college. Wrestling is a great sport, because it gives a wholesome outlet to naturally masculine urges to fight, make war, and to win contests through strength. These are traits that humans acquired over 70,000 years of evolution. Anyone who thinks that these urges are dead everywhere except in bad old America is willfully blind to the terrifyingly brutal wars being fought all around the world. In case the people at Gillette haven’t noticed, America is actually a very safe and civilized place, but the onslaught of violent rapists from across our porous border is changing that.

Little kittens play-wrestle, too, as do puppies. Are these natural and long-learned behaviors among cute little animals going to be targeted next for eradication? Teaching the recent descendants of fearsome wolves to makey-nicey amongst themselves may well be on Gillette’s to-do list, but it will probably be as unsuccessful as their attempt to dumb-down we humans.

What is really at work here is toxic femininity, the sexist, destructive and unnatural political force unleashed by a small group of male-hating women and their weakling, feminized male enablers (who would not survive in a hunter-gatherer society for one minute, an indication of how innately unnatural they are). These people are trying to bully the rest of us — we successfully masculine males and our enabling blatantly heterosexual female mates — into adopting their pathetic approach to dying out quickly on Planet Earth.

Toxic femininity is yet another politically correct assault on the basic pillars of human civilization, just one among the many we have witnessed in recent years. But don’t worry, friends, this silliness is falling flat on its face as we speak. But even if it were ultimately successful, the true knuckledraggers down the road would eventually come knocking, kill everyone in their way because by then everyone would be weak and pathetic, take whatever they want, and burn the rest on the way back home. Toxic femininity would be the very first victim, as it is inherently vulnerable, indefensible and undefended. So even if it wins here in Western society, it will ultimately fail.

P.S. Gillette and Proctor and Gamble are now added to the ever increasing list of companies I will not buy from, like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Nike, and Levi’s. All these companies have made the carefully considered decision to attack me, demean me, mis-characterize me, and take policy positions contrary to those I hold. They are driving me away as a customer by their own choice. So I am exercising my right to choose what to buy, and I am choosing not to spend my money on their products. We shall see who wins that contest in the end.