Monday, January 31, 2022

don't follow their script

Just learned, through The Epoch Times, that actress Jacqueline Guzman was recently fired for complaining publicly about a large funeral procession in honor of slain New York City police officer Jason Rivera. The article quotes Guzman as saying, "We do not need to shut down most of Lower Manhattan because one cop died for probably doing his job incorrectly. They kill people who are under 22 every single day for no good reason[,] and we don’t shut down the city for them... What if somebody is having a heart attack in this area[?] Nobody can get to them because it’s all blocked off for one [expletive] cop."

While I find Guzman's opinion odious and ignorant of actual facts, I think firing her was a mistake. She should be free to speak her mind, not fearful of being canceled. I had the same stance regarding Kathy Griffin when Griffin pulled that "bloody Trump head in effigy" stunt—she, too was within her free-speech rights because no one would seriously believe that Griffin was stating an intent to kill the president (incitement is a more complex matter, but I'd still come down on the side of free speech given how so many people today want to use "incitement" as an excuse to close off discourse).

That said, Guzman's firing is another example of the left eating its own, even if in this case, Guzman's employer, Face to Face Films, was merely covering its ass.

got a game for you

Here's me after a shower and toweling off badly. Now, find the ball sac!

I must say, this pic gave me a good laugh. And no, I'm not always this sloppy about toweling off. (You might also use this pic to play find the ass crack and find the dickhead!)

Man, I should be putting this on Substack.

possible (probable) cover design

Too abstract? Off-putting in some way? Silhouette's head needs to be more masculine? Doesn't convey message? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

This is the first image that would pop up on a Kindle screen. They say first impressions matter. I had originally wanted to go with something humorous, like my alien character with an apple popping out of its head, but I realized no one would get the joke. I thought of using a clip-art silhouette but decided that would be too clip-art-y. I had to decide whether to go with a male or female silhouette and settled on male for no particular reason, although a politically correct part of my mind whispered that using a female to represent a teacher might be interpreted by some as sexist (although some will say the same about using a male silhouette—when it comes to oversensitive twats, you can't win).

So, yeah, lemme know what you think. And even after I publish the book, I can still go back and change the cover art if one of you has a good suggestion for a better design.

reactions to the truckers

The trucker protest continues, and people on the left are scared, doing what they can to smear the truckers and maybe even to foment violence so the truckers end up looking bad (arguably what happened on January 6 in the US last year). Some reactions:

more on Neil Young (moron Neil Young)

Didn't know the guy used to be a homophobe:


When Samson lost his hair, his strength left him. When I lost my zipper, my desire to continue my walk left me. 

I was at the 17-kilometer mark—most of the way to Hanam City—when it happened: I had moved over to a shadowy part of the trail to take a piss when I discovered, to my horror, that I couldn't find the little handle that you tug on to get the zipper closed. I assumed the handle had fallen off into the darkness, so the question was what to do next. I was already feeling kind of tired and had been thinking of just stopping in Hanam City for the night, and I think my mind wanted to latch onto any excuse to cut the walk short. It occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to sit and enjoy my much-anticipated tangsuyuk with my fly hanging open, and that settled it: I decided I'd turn back around and either grab a cab or walk all the way back home. 

I ended up walking all the way back. The trip wasn't as bad as all that thanks to the cold, which kept me from sweating, but my feet were achy after 34 kilometers of walking. It took about 3.5 hours to walk 17K toward Hanam, and about 4 hours for the return trip because, as normally happens, I was slower for the latter half of the walk. 

As I walked, I kept looking for a place to break off the trail and grab a cab, but the road going parallel to the Han River task was a freeway, so there was no chance of flagging a cab down unless I went the extra distance and walked to a smaller street. I also kept thinking about being home in a nice, warm bed. The thought was both motivating and torturing. 

But eventually, I made it home just fine, and once I got my pants off and examined the zipper, I saw that the zipper's tiny handle was still attached, but the zipper itself was broken, which is why the handle no longer grasped both sides of the zipper. So I'm going to have to take my pants in for repairs after the holiday. Meanwhile, I'll be stuck wearing my old jeans for a couple days. First-world problems, right?

Don't cry for me, Argentina. It's only pants.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

long walk

If it's like the previous times I've done this, my crazy 60K walk will take me about 16.5 hours, including multiple rest breaks. I'm starting a bit earlier than in previous years: I'll be departing around 8 or 8:30 p.m., walking past Hanam City and ending in Yangpyeong. That means an arrival time in Yangpyeong of about 12:30 or 1 p.m. Average speed will be about 3.6 km/h, but that's because I have to factor in the rest breaks.

I'll be toting along some water bottles and victuals (beef jerky, dried blueberries, nuts) in plastic bags to make sure I don't starve to death along the way. Monday's not technically my cheat day, but I might still do my ritual stopover at the local Chinese place for a large plate of tangsuyuk and gunmandu

I'll be curious to see how my feet fare with this experience. I regained weight over December, but I'm still significantly lighter than when I did the crazy walk last time, pre-stroke. Ought to be interesting. I also took a look at the temperature: tonight, it'll get down to about 15ºF (-9.4ºC), but by noon tomorrow, temps will be up to 35ºF (1.7ºC). Looking at caloric expenditure versus food consumed, I don't expect to lose more than a kilo for the entire trip (and that includes the Chinese meal at the end).

Anyway, expect radio silence until the walk is over. I'll basically be walking through the night, through the following morning, and into the very early afternoon. There might or might not be photos; I've done this walk so many times that I don't want to bore you. Later.

it is accomplished

I won't be leaving for my big walk until 8 p.m. tonight, and since I finished writing my ms last night (in the writing biz, ms is "manuscript" and mss is "manuscripts"), I'm going to spend today reading through my book and making any final tweaks. I'll do the conversion to .epub format when I'm back from the walk Monday afternoon, assuming I have the energy. Otherwise, I'll sleep until New Year’s, enjoy lunch and a cheat day on Tuesday, and try to have the whole shebang finished, cover design and all, by the end of Wednesday. 

Then, its just a matter of marketing the e-book and creating the dead-tree version. If the book makes any money (which I seriously doubt, but I'm hopeful), I'll see about getting it translated into Korean and selling it in the Korean market, where you don't really hear about homeschooling being a thing, but you do have millions of Koreans who, on some level, realize Korean education has its own way of sucking. A lot of what I note in the book as good teaching is simply foreign to Koreans who have grown up practicing rote memorization, being conformist drones, having no culture of discussion, doing nothing to engage higher-cognitive thinking, and taking nothing but multiple-choice tests. 

from PowerLine's Week in Pictures

Nothing but win!

loony new year

Not only is the upcoming lunar new year the Year of the Tiger, it's the Year of the Water Tiger (see this Wikipedia entry to understand the sixty-year sexagenary cycle of "stems" and "branches"—water is one of five stems; tiger is one of twelve branches; 5 × 12 = 60 years). I've already come to think of the "Water Tiger" as the "wet pussy." Change my mind. Anyway, Happy Year of the Wet Pussy! May you be thoroughly drenched.

That reminds me: my buddy Charles's Korean name is Na Suho because, as he explained, "na-su-ho" sounds vaguely like his actual surname. Depending on what hanja you use, the term suho could be written in Chinese as "水虎," or water tiger. But I'm sure Charles's name isn't composed of those two hanja, and besides, the term for "tiger" used in conjunction with the zodiac is 인/in, written as 寅 in Chinese (see above link for source; 寅/in refers specifically to the earthly branch), although there are still associations with tiger/虎/ho.

Saturday, January 29, 2022


Today's exercise = a late-afternoon 2-hour walk, which is much shorter than my usual 18K-plus walks on Saturdays. Why? Because I'm going to do a crazy 60K walk from my place to Yangpyeong starting tomorrow night around 9 p.m. The crazy walk will end around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday. I'll enjoy a meal in town (or not—my real cheat day is Tuesday, i.e., Lunar New Year's Day), then head back to Seoul by subway. I'm doing new-year's lunch at #3 Ajumma's place Tuesday afternoon (cheat day!), then I'm back to the discipline on Wednesday, the final day of this vacation.

That bench-press machine in the park next to my building has me thinking I can start using it to build my pec strength up from the nothing it is right now to, I don't know, maybe 50 reps before I switch to knee pushups. This throws off my pushup schedule for the year, but sometimes you have to reset your goals and do what you can. I suspect that, if I can do 50 reps on the bench-press machine, I can do 10 reps' worth of knee pushups. Check with me much later this year to see how all of that is going.

PJW short videos

Paul Joseph Watson on Pope Francis being an idiot:

PJW on Neil Young shilling for The Man:


You been following the latest Joe Rogan controversy? Keep in mind that Rogan is a self-avowed leftie who is nevertheless open-minded enough, on his popular talk show "The Joe Rogan Experience," to allow opposing viewpoints to be expressed. This automatically makes him persona non grata to the left, which only wants lockstep conformity. 

Recently, Rogan had Dr. Jordan Peterson back on his show (I think the two are becoming friends), and Peterson said some things about climate change, climate modeling, and climate alarmism that triggered a controversy among those who think the public should be kept in a state of constant fear about the environment. Among the things Peterson said was that climate models, being based on so few factors (while climate itself is governed by a near-infinity of factors), are inherently inaccurate. 

Enemies of Peterson went ballistic and immediately committed the genetic fallacy, saying, "Well Peterson isn't a climate scientist, so what he's saying is wrong." This is nonsense, of course. What Peterson said was perfectly rational and could easily be applied to other sciences. Modeling is an inherently flawed way to look at the world, whatever its virtues. Modeling can give us a partial understanding of certain phenomena, and it has definitely been part of many scientific advancements, but if you're unable—because of ideological blindness—to see that modeling is also inherently flawed (which is all Peterson was pointing out; he said the error factor compounds itself the further ahead into the future you try to predict, which is also a reasonable claim), then you're not in touch with reality.

I find it amusing to see the climate-alarmist left so triggered by all this; the recent Neil Young kerfuffle—in which Young made the ultimatum that Spotify, which hosts both music and the Rogan podcast, would have to choose between Young and Rogan—was because of the Peterson interview (Spotify basically chose Rogan; Young's music is now gone). Young contended, along with other lefties, that Rogan and Peterson were purveying "misinformation," the latest leftie buzz word meant to shut down open discourse. In doing so, Neil Young showed himself to be yet another ex-rebel now shilling for The Man. So many in the arts these days are propagandists for the state, at least when the Dems have the power.

Rightie comedian Adam Carolla has weighed in on the controversy. As the naysayers were claiming Dr. Peterson knows nothing about how science works and that climate models are accurate predictors of the future, Carolla had to ask, "What have you guys been right about?" This is a reference to how bad climate models, abetted by a fearmongering mentality, have led to a slew of wild-eyed predictions regarding the environment that simply haven't come true over the years. No more polar ice? Didn't happen. Pacific Island nations totally under water? Didn't happen. No more snows of Kilimanjaro? Didn't happen. Extreme coastal flooding for the US? Didn't happen. On and on and on.

As one Instapundit commenter pointed out, these models can't even "predict the past," i.e., when the models are applied to some past time and used to "predict" what ought to happen ten years after that point, they fail to accord with the actual historical record of what really happened. The models are all garbage. Could they be made more accurate? Theoretically. But for now, they're useless.

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with open discussion and skepticism of these sacred cows of the left. There's nothing bigoted, for example, about noting that a trans woman is still chromosomally male (leftie JK Rowling has been cancelled for stating this common-sense fact) and can outperform cis-women in sports. There should be no controversy in mentioning that, if you eliminated the problem of black-on-black urban violence in America, over 90% of "gun control" problems would disappear. Discussing the problems with the COVID injections shouldn't lead immediately to cries of "misinformation!" All of these very obvious things are treated like farts in a church by the left. The emperor has no clothes, and the left will scream as loudly as it can to avoid hearing that truth. The left is doing its damnedest to stifle any discussion of sensitive matters, and that's the state we find ourselves in today. As a former president liked to tweet: Sad!

holy shit, the glossary

I've been working on my book's glossary of terms, and it's taking longer than I expected because I'm writing rather editorialized definitions of terms and concepts, sometimes discussing them in greater depth than I did in the main text. I've done the book's front matter, but after I finish the glossary, I still need to work on the back-end stuff: the book’s acknowledgments and bio pages. I don't think I need to paginate the ms for the .epub version of this book (e-book software does that automatically; on an e-book, pages vary according to factors like screen size and font size), but I will paginate for the dead-tree version. (I wonder if I can use the .epub software to vary the style of auto-pagination for the e-book version: I want the introduction to have lower-case Roman numerals—i, ii, iii, iv—for its pagination. I'd also like to avoid paginating the title and back-cover pages.) Having two versions of the book also means I have to use two ISBNs, which sucks. I sense I'm going to blow through my batch of 10 ISBNs pretty quickly. Here's a sample glossary entry:

multiple-choice testing (n.)  Testing in which the student encounters questions whose answers are a list of (usually) four or five alternatives, one of which is generally the best (although 2-answer questions and “pick all that apply” questions are also possible). Before a major change in 2016, the American SAT was heavy with multiple-choice questions. Now, more questions on the new SAT are of the fill-in-the-blank variety. My chapter on testing lists reasons why I’m not a fan of multiple-choice questions; you are free to disagree if you think you can formulate good questions in a clever way that exercises the kids’ brains, but you will never totally eliminate the guessing factor: in theory, any student can guess his or her way through an entire test. To me, this is a major strike against multiple-choice testing.

I'm defining a lot of terms, and with many of my definitions running at least as long as the one shown above, this is taking a while, almost as if I were rewriting the book. Writing the glossary is enjoyable, but kind of a slog. I can hear my boss's voice in my head, telling me to cut 90% of the verbiage and to express myself more economically. My boss prefers a very terse, spare, get-to-the-point writing style; his main complaint with my work is that I'm prolix and sesquipedalian (wordy and given to using big, fancy words)—not good for the little kids we're writing for. Well, he doesn't have any say in how I write this book, so there.

Friday, January 28, 2022

barking mad for Bowker

There's only one site in the US for International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs): I used Bowker twenty-one years ago when I self-published a limited run of my book of stupid humor, Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms (from which my blog's title is derived). At the time, I bought a set of 10 ISBNs from Bowker and found an online barcode generator, but Bowker now has barcode service, too, and it's more legit (I guess), so I shelled out for barcodes as well. Lastly, I bought Bowker's ePub converter so I can take my book's manuscript and convert it into an e-book. I think Amazon CreateSpace also has its own way to convert ms data into e-books, but if I understand correctly, CreateSpace also accepts e-books that are already in .epub format. All of this has cost me a pretty penny (a bit under $500), but it's money well spent, I think. I knew I'd be shelling out for the ISBNs, at least.

Finalizing my e-book and getting it online will be one of several projects over the lunar new-year holiday (we're off Monday through Wednesday next week; the idea of being off the entire week fell through). I plan to do my crazy, once-a-year 60K walk from Sunday night to Monday afternoon, but tonight and tomorrow, I'll be devoting my energies to finalizing my book, especially since I'm so close to being done. I think it's safe to say the book will be online and for sale within the first two weeks of February. Things are coming together.

some images

In case you're not aware of what's happening with Canadian truckers (and, I think, with some US truckers who are showing solidarity), read this article. The article comes from the biased press, so... grain of salt and all that.

Alain Finkielkraut: demographic change in Europe "obvious"

From Paul Joseph Watson:

French Philosopher Says Massive Demographic Changes in Europe Are “Obvious”

During a television debate, French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said it would take a “fanatical denial of reality” to disregard the “spectacular” demographic changes that are taking place in Europe.

Alain Finkielkraut, who is one of 40 lifetime members of the 400-year-old Académie Française, which serves to safeguard the French language and culture, made the comments during an appearance on TV channel Europe 1.

Finkielkraut asserted that attempts to shut down such debates by claiming mere discussion of a “Great Replacement” is dangerous are only serving to distract from a very real and “obvious” problem.

“This is in fact a fragmentation and yes, this risk does exists and in any case, I think the demographic change of Europe is extremely spectacular. The historical peoples in certain municipalities and regions are becoming a minority,” Finkielkraut said. “A whole part of French people now live not in the suburbs, but beyond the suburbs, because they are no longer the cultural reference they used to be, because all the butchers are, for example, Halal.”

The philosopher stressed that the issue should be treated “with a lot of precaution, but demonizing it (as racist) is absurd and once again testifies to the fanatical denial of reality.”

The most vocal and outspoken candidate in the upcoming French election when it comes to highlighting demographic replacement is Jewish intellectual Eric Zemmour, a man who Finkielkraut insists is “too radical.”

Zemmour has called for France’s notorious Islamic ghetto no-go zones, which are routinely the scene of violence and mass rioting, to be “re-conquered by force.”

In a speech, Zemmour also warned that 1.5 billion Africans wanting to make their way to Europe represented “the death of France.”

If Eric Zemmour is calling for re-conquering by force, I don't think I can get behind that. I think such a reconquête would be too little, too late, and it would do nothing but create even deeper animosities than already exist. And what's the metric for knowing when an area has been reconquered? I admire Zemmour's proud nationalism and his faith that there is such a thing as French culture, but I'm leery of his apparent radicalism. Zemmour is not Trump.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

homeschooling book: main part finished

I've finished the main text of my homeschooling book. It all came pouring out, like a desperate-but-inspired last-minute research paper, over the past few days. The organization for the book into chapters happened months ago, and I saw no reason to change it (well, I did tweak things a little). I now need to comb through the text for errors, but also to add insights gleaned from a few different interviews I did with people who've homeschooled (I have no kids, so the closest I've come to actual homeschooling is private tutoring, which is a way-easier task). I also need to create front matter, write a bio and acknowledgments, maybe include a glossary of pedagogical terms, design a cover for the book, figure out how to use Amazon CreateSpace to get the manuscript into an acceptable e-book format, then upload the whole thing so that it's officially for sale.*

I hope $1.99 isn't too steep a price point for 25 pages of A4-sized paper (on a cell-phone Kindle app, I expect the book to be 50-75 "pages"**; on regular Kindle, I have no idea what to expect). Long ago, one author contended you don't really need to go above $0.99 no matter how big your book is, but no one abides by that guideline, based on what I've seen. Big authors like Stephen King charge big bucks for their novels in e-book form (King's Fairy Tale, Kindle version, is a whopping $16.99... for buying something as physical as air). When I put out my movie-review book (1,000+ pages), I'll pick a higher price point, like $6.99 or something. Or, hey, maybe $10.00.

Anyway, I'm on the cusp. I think my little e-book on homeschooling will be out sometime next month. Buy it, write reviews, react to me directly. More announcements to come.


*And before I forget: I have to purchase a brace of ISBN numbers for my books. 

**When I set the page to A5 size (5.8" x 8.3" or 148 mm x 210 mm), the book's length shoots up to 54 pages. This is not including the front matter, bio, and acknowledgment pages.

COVID treatment: >150,000 patients, 99.99% survival

From The Epoch Times, this article:

Doctor’s Organization Has Treated Over 150,000 COVID-19 Patients With 99.99 Percent Survival

A doctor who has been offering free telehealth services to COVID-19 patients during the pandemic says that early treatment for COVID-19 works, claiming that he has a [99.99-percent] survival rate.

“We have a team of volunteer free doctors that donate their time to help treat these patients that come to us,” Dr. Ben Marble, the founder of, an online medical consultation service, said at a roundtable discussion hosted by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Jan. 24.

He added, “We deliver the [early-treatment] protocols to them as early as we can, and we have a 99.99 percent survival rate. So, I believe, the free [volunteer] doctors[,] have settled the science on this—early treatment works, period!”

leftist = suicidal

to laugh or to cry?

Good God:

If you don't speak German, be sure you're watching with English captions on.

bad news, but not horrible

I finally used my new Withings Body Digital WiFi Smart Scale, Body Plus version, after days of hesitation, and I see I'm at 109 kg. That represents an 8- or 9-kilo gain from my minimum, which was around 100.5 or 101 kg. I'm tightening my belt two holes past where I'd normally tighten it, so I'd estimate that each inch of belt (belt holes are traditionally an inch apart) represents about 4 kg of weight gain. So I really did a number on myself during the final two weeks of December. I'm assuming I was even heavier than 109 kg in the weeks before I ordered and used the scale, but I've been behaving better since the start of January. Still on track for 90 kg by summertime. Check in with me this July.

Heart rate last night was 68. Staircase training gets the credit.

fuck Neil Young

Neil Young was in a snit, recently, about "vaccine misinformation":

Neil Young Demands Spotify Remove His Music Over ‘False Information About Vaccines’

That blew up in his face.

Virtue-signaling idiots are simultaneously sad and amusing. Neil Young has, for years, been among the worst. He can go fuck a goat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

the movement of culture as seen in cinema

I remember back in the 90s when it was okay for Michelle Pfeiffer to make a movie like "Dangerous Minds," a film based on the true-life story of ex-Marine LouAnne Johnson. The film chronicles Johnson's first year as a teacher at an urban school filled with disaffected minority youths. LouAnne's natural toughness (she teaches the kids some martial arts to get their attention) and her determination to get through to the kids wins them over, and the film ends with LouAnne deciding to re-up for a second year of teaching. (The real-life LouAnne Potts taught at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, for four years before moving on to grad school in New Mexico.)

Could a film like "Dangerous Minds" be made today? Because not long after "Dangerous Minds" came out, politically correct thinking, already an influential undercurrent in American society, became huge, and people started talking about the need to steer clear of what was critically referred to as "white savior" narratives—a denigrating label applied to films like "Avatar" (in which blue aliens stand in for native people). In fact, here's Wikipedia's incomplete list of movies featuring the white-savior trope: "Glory" (1989), "Dangerous Minds" (1996), "Amistad" (1997), "Finding Forrester" (2000), "The Last Samurai" (2003), "Half Nelson" (2006), "Freedom Writers" (2007), "Gran Torino" (2008), "Avatar" (2009), "The Blind Side" (2009), and "The Help" (2011). (I have trouble seeing how "Gran Torino" makes this list. That's utterly baffling to me.)

Anyway, I haven't seen any movies like "Dangerous Minds" out lately. Have you? And I don't think we're going to see such a movie anytime soon. The non-white fantasy is all about empowerment and self-actualization—more wishful thinking than actual reality given current crime statistics in the States. I actually agree with the self-empowering message that "we don't need white help." Races that don't ask for handouts can find dignity by earning their place in society through their own effort, whatever racial prejudice they might encounter along the way. But races that do receive handouts never find their way out from under the seething resentment that comes from realizing they needed someone else's help to make it. 

And that's where Hollywood, with its empowerment fantasies, comes in. We don't need Whitey. The fantasies themselves aren't actually bad if they're thought of as ideals to aspire to: there's absolutely nothing wrong with pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Now we just need to see more people—way more people—make those fantasies a reality instead of holding out their hands and demanding handouts like beggars.

rearranging priorities

I've finished writing Chapter 8 (out of ten chapters) of my little book on homeschooling. I had hoped merely to begin writing this manuscript by the end of January, but the words are pouring out, and to my mind at least, the book (well, booklet) is looking good. So I think I'm going to end up self-publishing the homeschooling guide much, much earlier than planned, and I'll get the movie-review book out much later in the year (because that's a much bigger book, probably over a thousand pages).

Expect more news on the homeschooling book soon!

walking video

This dude advocates walking and calisthenics. What's impressive is that he has a prosthetic leg, a fact that stops him not at all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

another Substack piece

I think I might use Substack, for the moment, as a repository for creative writing, at least until I figure out how to create sub-channels. Take a look at this humorous short-short story I just wrote from the perspective of Darth Vader in the first "Star Wars" movie (1977).

"excellent natural immunity"

Natural immunity after infection offers strong protection from further infection. Getting jabbed adds nothing to this, according to statistics. That said, getting jabbed offers protection to those who've never been infected, but with omicron burning through all populations, this is going to be less and less relevant: everyone's going to be infected.

some images

my very first Substack post is up

I'm still learning the ropes, but here's a link to my first Substack post. It's open to the public; Substack advises us newbies not to think about charging for subscriptions until we've actually gained a bunch of subscribers, so I'll be writing for free for a while. Take advantage of that while you can, but know that, when I do finally switch over to subscriber mode, I'll still put out free content. Meanwhile, I'm still figuring out all of Substack's little doodads while feeling old and irrelevant. So give me some time as I master the basics. More announcements to come.

UPDATE: three subscribers already! Many thanks to Neil, Andy, and Walrus.

Monday, January 24, 2022

end it now

From The Epoch Times comes this commentary:

The time has come to terminate the pandemic state of emergency. It’s time to end the controls, the closures, the restrictions, the plexiglass, the stickers, the exhortations, the panic-mongering, the distancing announcements, the ubiquitous commercials, the forced masking, the vaccine mandates.

We don’t mean that the virus is gone—Omicron is still spreading wildly, and the virus may circulate forever. But with a normal focus on protecting the vulnerable, we can treat the virus as a medical rather than a social matter and manage it in ordinary ways. A declared emergency needs continuous justification, and that’s now lacking.

Over the last six weeks in the United States, the Delta variant strain—the most recent aggressive version of the infection—has according to the CDC been declining in both the proportion of infections (60 percent on Dec. 18 to 0.5 percent on Jan. 15) and the number of daily infected people (95,000 to 2,100). During the next two weeks, Delta will decline to the point that it essentially disappears like the strains before it.

Omicron is mild enough that most people, even many high-risk people, can adequately cope with the infection. Omicron infection is no more severe than seasonal flu, and generally less so. A large portion of the vulnerable population in the developed world is already vaccinated and protected against severe disease. We have learned much about the utility of inexpensive supplements like Vitamin D to reduce disease risk, and there’s a host of good therapeutics available to prevent hospitalization and death should a vulnerable patient become infected. And for younger people, the risk of severe disease—already low before Omicron—is minuscule.

Even in places with strict lockdown measures, there are hundreds of thousands of newly registered Omicron cases daily and countless unregistered positives from home testing. Measures like mandatory masking and distancing have had negligible or at most small effects on transmission. Large-scale population quarantines only delay the inevitable. Vaccination and boosters have not halted Omicron disease spread; heavily vaccinated nations like Israel and Australia have more daily cases per capita than any place on earth at the moment. This wave will run its course despite all of the emergency measures.

Time to end it all and open back up, guys. The disease has gone endemic.

I've started writing my homeschooling book

I have the intro plus the first two chapters of my homeschooling book written, and I've given myself until the end of March to complete the manuscript, which will be ten chapters total. The book isn't meant to be large, and I plan to sell it online via Amazon for about $1.99 per copy. With an Amazon royalty rate of 60-70%, I'll be earning about $1.20 to $1.40 per copy sold. While I seriously doubt this will make me a millionaire, especially since I suck at marketing myself, my hope is that the book will net me a few extra bucks per month for a month or two. (Many books experience a burst of sales at the beginning, then rapidly trail off.) Wish me luck; the book isn't due out until much later this year. Hopefully, homeschooling will still be a thing, at that point, and not merely a forgotten flavor of the week.

rough January

Site stats have been saggy all month, with daily visits averaging somewhere in the 460 range. Yesterday was a rare over-700 day, but that's been about it. I won't make even 20,000 visits this month, but sometimes, them's the breaks.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

sorry for the delay

I keep promising numbers and not delivering them, but I'll be doing so this coming Thursday morning. A special bathroom scale that I had ordered has finally arrived; it measures all sorts of things aside from just weight, including BMI, body-fat percentage, body-water percentage, and muscle mass. It can also measure things like bone density, but when I set the device up using a phone app, I elected not to have that particular stat, which probably won't matter much until I'm in my 60s or 70s.

Numbers soon!

tofu noodles

My building's grocery store is selling fettuccine-shaped tofu noodles. I just tried some; they taste about how you'd expect noodle-shaped tofu to taste, but all in all, they aren't bad, and at 3 g of carbs per 100 g of noodles, they're keto-friendly. Something to keep in mind. Right now, I'm using them to supplement my store-bought packages of budae-jjigae (which come with no rice cakes and are therefore fairly low-carb). The tofu noodles' texture is firm; they don't break apart under fork or chopstick, which is nice. I do have to wonder what artificial binders are holding the noods together, but whatever they are, they aren't translating into calories or carbs. So these are a go for now.

how do you help an addicted friend who refuses help?

I have an addicted friend. You'd think he'd be too mature for this particular addiction, but it's a sickness that strikes a lot of men of his age and financial position. My friend is perfectly aware he's both addicted and forever engaging in self-destructive behavior, and while he's always a good sport about seeming to take the counsel of friends, he keeps right on indulging his addiction. Is he stupid? Is he too far gone? Can anything be done to help him, or should we all just stand aside and watch his sad, slow death-spiral as he crashes again and again, never learning the essential lessons that he should have learned years ago?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
—possibly of 19th-century origin, routinely misattributed to Einstein and Ben Franklin


since I have no pics of Saturday's walk

Out of curiosity, I ordered the variety pack of Magic Spoon cereal, which is supposed to be grain-free, packed with protein, and keto-friendly:

Of the four flavors in my variety pack, I can say that peanut butter and frosty are horrible. The complaints I read on, about how these cereals have a weird, chemical-y taste, apply most strongly to these two cereals. Chocolate is also a bit off, but it's kind of good, and the so-called fruity flavor is an exact match for Froot Loops. Anyone who's eaten Froot Loops knows the cereal doesn't taste natural at all, but if you ever had it during your childhood, you might like Magic Spoon's version, anyway. When I was a kid, our family was more into bland cereals like Cheerios, so I wouldn't eat the more sugary cereals unless I was staying the night at someone else's house. As you might have guessed, Magic Spoon cereals were developed primarily for people on keto who crave the flavors and textures of their previous life (this is the same urge that motivates the development of keto breads, pastas, cakes, etc.).

To sum up: I'd never buy the variety pack again given that 50% of the pack sucks, and while I'd consider buying the chocolate one again, I know I'd almost definitely buy the fruity flavor a second time. Oh, yeah: consistency-wise, I thought Magic Spoon mimicked normal cereal pretty well. I'd seen complaints of the cereal melting in milk and leaving weird, gooey lumps, but that's not what I experienced. Maybe I ate it too fast.

That said, I ordered this variety pack through Coupang, and it was hellaciously expensive ($25 a box—no joke), making this more of a full-on scientific experiment and less of a mere curiosity purchase. So given the astronomical price point, no, I won't be buying this cereal again. It also doesn't help that Magic Spoon cereal boxes are much smaller than average cereal boxes, making the cereal that much more expensive. All in all, I can't recommend Magic Spoon to fellow expats. If the cereal is more reasonably priced in the States, then go for it. Otherwise, I'll be sticking to more keto-style breakfasts (eggs, avocado, keto bagel, etc.).

Among the people I subscribe to on YouTube, some of them shill, occasionally, for Magic Spoon, and I now think they're all lying through their teeth, merely allowing Magic Spoon to sponsor them for the filthy lucre. I certainly wouldn't let the company sponsor me, and I'm not sure that I'd call Magic Spoon "a product you can believe in."

Saturday, January 22, 2022

vaccines have failed; mandates should be dropped

From The Epoch Times:

Dr. Peter McCullough: Vaccines Failed in Stopping COVID-19[,] and Mandates Have to Be Dropped

The COVID-19 vaccines have largely failed in stopping the transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, especially for the most recent Omicron variant, so the vaccine mandate should be thrown away, according to Dr. Peter McCullough.

“The vaccines themselves have basically now become obsolete as the virus has continued to mutate,” McCullough told NTD’s “Capitol Report” in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. “So at this point of time, the vaccine mandates have to be dropped across the board.”

McCullough said some recent studies have shown the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines dropped significantly with the new variants.


“The only thing the vaccines could have done is reduce the chances of getting COVID-19. … So many millions of Americans who have taken the vaccines have been disappointed to find out they contracted COVID-19 anyway,” McCullough continued.

On Wednesday, the CDC published a study showing protection from prior infection, or so-called natural immunity, was better than the protection from COVID-19 vaccines against the Delta variant.

Drop it all.

Althouse's error

I don't normally read Ann Althouse; she was an Obama voter who has been trying to claw her way back to respectability. My friend John McCrarey, perhaps more forgiving, does read her, though, and he occasionally sends Althouse links my way. Althouse is a self-proclaimed language nerd, but as you'll see in the example sentence below, she ain't perfect.

I'm going to try again to watch it, for the sake of this post, but I'm going to publish first, because I don't know how many on-and-off clickings it will take for me to reach the end.

Did you catch it? It's a comma error—one that's rather common among those who think "a comma marks a pause." Specifically, it's the comma in front of because: it needs to be deleted. The word because is a subordinating conjunction; subordinating conjunctions* introduce subordinate (dependent) clauses. I alluded to how comma rules for complex sentences are different from those for compound sentences in my previous "find the error" post, but let's make the rule explicit, here: if the subordinate clause comes first (like in this very sentence), use a comma. If the subordinate clause comes last, then no comma. Here are two simple examples to illustrate how this works:

If you do that again, I'll kill you.
I'll kill you if you do that again.

In the above sentences, if is a subordinating conjunction introducing the subordinate clause you do that again. In the first sentence, the subordinate clause comes first, so there's a comma. In the second sentence, the subordinate clause comes last, so there's no comma. All of this is covered in Part 2 of my ongoing comma series. As I've contended before, if people were to read only Parts 1 and 2 of my series, they'd eliminate 95% of their comma errors. So, what are you waiting for? Go read and master this!

Keep in mind that an actor reading a line with a because in it will often pause before the because. This prepares the listener for the reason that's coming next, and it's a natural thing to do. However, the pause you hear in the voice reading does not translate, on the page, into a pause marked by a comma. This is why I've been at pains, again and again, to get people to stop thinking about how commas mark pauses. They do mark pauses on occasion, but the rule itself is misleading, as we see above. So stop retreating to vapid bullshit like "commas mark pauses" and "this sounds right" or "this sounds awkward" or "this just doesn't flow." That's all a bunch of vague nonsense. Where there are explicit rules to guide your writing, learn them and use them. This is how to improve.


*An incomplete list of subordinating conjunctions would include: because, before, after, if, that, when, although, even though, even if, while, during, in order to, provided that, unless, until, once, so that, etc.


Meat Loaf: dead at 74. Nickname came from a football coach. Real name: Marvin Lee Aday. Cause of death: many are saying COVID. He was certainly in the danger demographic.

Can't say I ever really appreciated his music. I do, however, remember his memorable turn as Robert Paulson in "Fight Club"—the dude with "bitch tits" who ends up getting his head blown out. Mr. Loaf had apparently been anti-vaccine mandate. RIP, O Bat out of Hell.

UPDATE: oh, noes! Comedian Louie Anderson also just died at age 68. Too many ululates!

Friday, January 21, 2022

find the error(s)

Some shit I found online and via Kindle. Find the error or errors:

1. Just because someone is old, doesn't mean they can't hurt you.

2. Howard Stern became Howard Stern because he flaunted authority.

3. The showdown in Eastern Europe might feel like someone else's problem as Americans face a pandemic and high inflation, and wage their own political battles.

4. She’s not sailing across the theater in a hook up, there are no pyrotechnics.

5. It was a good hike with the group and I’ll share some photos at the end of this post.

Highlight the space between the brackets for answers and explanations.

[1. No comma needed. Normally, you never put a comma between a subject and a predicate unless you're using a pair of commas to make a parenthetical expression (e.g., for appositives or whatever). In this sentence, Just because someone is old is a noun clause, i.e., that entire group of words functions as a single noun. In your mind, replace that noun clause with a simpler noun phrase like This fact. Now see what I mean: This fact doesn't mean they can't hurt you. It should be easier, now, to see why you shouldn't insert a comma. I'm also not a fan of the singular "they" in they can't hurt you. I'd rewrite the sentence this way: Just because someone is old doesn't mean she can't hurt you. Note that the singular "they" is nowadays considered acceptable in most types of writing except, perhaps, for very formal registers.

2. Diction: the word is flouted, not flaunted. To flout the law is to show contempt for the law, usually in an obvious, open, unabashed way. To flaunt your new jewels means you're brazenly showing them off to everyone around you. There is, however, some debate on this point: there are experts who argue that flaunt the law can indeed refer to a defiant show of disdain for the law. So consider this correction to be in line with my sometimes-curmudgeonly, old-school worldview. Some experts will push back against what I'm saying here.

3. Delete the comma. This is a compound predicate, so no comma is needed. Sheila sat down and farted. Never: Sheila sat down, and farted. In the above sentence, the compound predicate is face... and wage...

4. One problem is the term hook-up, which should be hyphenated or written as a closed compound: hookup. The other problem is the comma, which should be a semicolon (this is called a comma splice—an error in which you're using a comma when you really ought to use a semicolon). A semicolon separates two independent clauses, which is what you've got here.

5. Sorry, John, but you're a rich source for punctuation errors. I could do a whole textbook using your sentences as examples! Anyway, there ought to be a comma before and. The comma-and locution works like a semicolon, separating two independent clauses, which is what you've got here, too. Don't make the mistake of applying this rule to complex sentences, which have subordinate (dependent) clauses and follow their own rules.]

Redemption: review

Scottish author Will Jordan goes by the moniker The Critical Drinker on YouTube, and he's one of my favorite movie critics. He's been hawking a series of novels he's written, so I finally bit the bullet and bought Redemption, the first book of Jordan's Ryan Drake series. Drake, our protag, is meant to be something like Jason Bourne or Jack Reacher.

Ryan Drake is an ex-SAS Englishman currently working with the American CIA. He is tasked with assembling a team and rescuing a woman code-named Maras from a Russian prison. Maras's rescue is only the first part of the story, though, as Drake finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue regarding who Maras is and why she's such a valuable intelligence asset. The novel's plot includes some twists and turns, and we eventually build up to who the real bad guy is, behind the scenes and pulling the strings.  (As some Amazon reader-reviewers noted, it's not much of a surprise.) Several characters in the story have questionable paths and are seeking some sort of redemption, so the novel's title has multiple meanings.

I used to read Mack Bolan the Executioner adventures back when I was a kid. Jordan's novel reminded me, a little, of those heady days: there are occasional technical descriptions of fighting techniques, weaponry, and military technology, but unlike with the Bolan books, Jordan doesn't beat you over the head with all the technical minutiae.

The plot of Redemption moves along at a healthy pace; Jordan has a good idea of how to set the tempo, which often feels cinematic, smash-cutting Crichton-like from scene to scene as if the author were hoping to have his novel turned into a movie adaptation. Along with being well-paced, the plot offers decent characterization (some unsympathetic characters end up being more dimensional than they appear at first glance), and the story is smart enough to answer questions that might pop up in the reader's mind.

Like Lee Child, author of many Jack Reacher novels, Will Jordan is a Brit who writes American characters. Overall, I think Jordan actually does a better job than Child of capturing the American way of talking, although there are times when certain Britishisms make their way into American mouths. Jordan also slips up with certain iconic American names, like that of Frederick Douglass, whose surname is misspelled as Douglas in the novel.

There were other flaws and inaccuracies in the narrative as well. Jordan's description of DC's climate was a bit off-pitch: he made it out to be more tropical than it really is, and I'm not sure he had the best grasp of DC-MD-VA geography. A Marine character is listed as a West Point graduate, which would be a rare bird, indeed. It wasn't until late in the novel that Jordan used the American term "GPS" to describe what the Brits call "sat nav."

The character of Maras, while shrouded in mystery, also came off, at times, as a bit one-note: a pure killer whose training allows her to defeat almost all opponents. And inevitably, a sort-of romance develops between Maras and protagonist Drake; it comes off a bit corny.

The story seemed to be laced with deliberate or accidental references to TV and movie pop culture; many situations seemed ripped straight out of the series "24," for example: Drake is forced by a terrorist to go against his own team, which is something that happened to Jack Bauer more than once in "24," and later in the novel, an interrogator gets information out of a recalcitrant prisoner by faking a family member's death in exactly the same manner in which the same scene happened in one of the later seasons of "24," right up to the overturning of a chair before the fake-shooting of the victim. Two characters in the story are named Dietrich and Frost, which are the names of two characters in 1986's "Aliens." There's an "I shot a kid" line that is almost definitely from "Die Hard." Another evil character says, "When I found out it was you, I said I'd do it for nothing," which I believe echoes Bennett's line in Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Commando."

On a linguistic note: Will Jordan, being British, writes in an unrepentantly British style. Once you, as an American, get into the flow of the story, you might stop noticing some of the more obvious stylistic quirks, like using single quotes for dialogue, writing colour and manoeuvre instead of color and maneuver, etc., but whenever certain American characters accidentally sound less American, this may prove jarring to your Yankee mind. (I was also amused to see ministry used in an American context instead of department.)

So Redemption contained some admittedly derivative elements and had some linguistic quirks, but overall, the story was gripping, and not in a Dan Brown way. Dan Brown tends to end all his chapters on cliffhangers as a way to keep the reader hooked, but Jordan doesn't repeatedly pull that trick ad nauseam. If you're in the mood for a spy novel with a lot of action, suspense, and decent characters, you could do far worse than pick up a copy of Redemption. It's not Shakespeare, but it's a satisfying read.


ADDENDUM: I should note that, despite my nitpicking about Britishisms, I would be hard-pressed to write a novel featuring British characters who sounded authentically British. I know a lot of little British linguistic quirks, but I can't string them together to create naturalistic British dialogue. So please recalibrate your assessment of my criticism with all that in mind. I'm aware that it's hard to write authentic dialogue in an idiom that's not your own, so if anything, Will Jordan deserves praise for having the balls to try and mostly succeed.