November 2004


Needed to add this comment, again from Pournelle:

Jane Jacobs points out that a Dark Age isn’t when you have forgotten how to do things. It is when you have forgotten that you ever could. French peasants in 650 AD were entirely unaware that Roman farmers could get yields of 10 bushels harvest for 1 bushel planted: they thought it a gift of God if they could get 3 bushels from each bushel planted, and generally didn’t get more than 2. And American educators have apparently forgotten that there was a time when 96% of the people who finished 4th grade could read; we now have 100% attendance at schools and a literacy rate somewhat lower than Iraq’s. But all will be well and No Child Will Be Left Behind, so long as we can juggle the tests and get increasing test scores. The purpose of the education system is no longer to educate but to produce people with certain credentials. Hurrah for the educational reforms of the past three decades.”

And so it goes. Another axe in the hands of the barbarians vigorously hacking away at the roots of Western Civilization…

The MMPA, the LLMB and their partners in crime must thank god for government schools (they do that only while looking in the mirror, you know, since that is where they see their god… ).


Well, as you may have discerned by now, “The Essay” concerning the conspiracy to murder Western Civilization, etc., is going to be even longer in coming… Nevertheless, I’ll probably be posting snippets concerning the signs of that “conspiracy” from time to time. Here is one such snippet, from Jerry E. Pournelle:

“In every college classroom in the nation nothing is taught that is inconsistent with the view that within every oppressed human lurks a burning desire for freedom. In my view in every human heart beats a desire, sometimes burning sometimes not to rob his neighbor and possess his wife: it was once known as the doctrine of original sin.

Chesterton once said that anyone who didn’t believe in original sin could not possibly be reading the newspapers.”

While this may be a slight exaggeration (I suspect there may be as many as two classrooms in a Bible College somewhere in a hick “red state” that still teach about original sin and man’s depravity), it is close enough to the mark. And it is symptomatic of one of the axes weilded at the roots of Western Civilization by the barbarians in academia, in the ranks of the Mass Media Podpeoples’ Army and the Loony Left Moonbat Brigade. That, of course, is the current preconceptual bias against the concept of right and wrong. The concept that there is anything that is clearly always, immutably right and thus there are behaviors that are always clearly immutably wrong is the only “always wrong” concept to the barbarians in academia, in the ranks of the Mass Media Podpeoples’ Army and the Loony Left Moonbat Brigade. To them right and wrong are opinions, and that is the only correct opinion about right and wrong.

Try to have a civilization where “every man [does] what is right in his own eyes”. Go ahead. Try it.

Meanwhile, I need to clean this keyboard… (tired of re-typing every blasted “d”).

Carol Platt Liebau has an interesting article and a blogpost (actually, a series of posts) on the “values vs. issues” argument about the outcome of the last national election. One of the key arguments is over the effect of loosely-defined “values” vs. the national security issue. She asks whether nationalk security might actually be seen as a moral value.


“…It is not without purpose that the ruler carries the sword; he is God’s servant, to inflict his wrath upon the wrongdoer…” Romans 13: 4

And Romans 13 is not the only passage that makes clear that civil government has a primary role: creating fear in outlaws by means of the sword.

Did the campaigns in Afganistan and Iraq improve our national security by means of punishing outlaws and creating fear of wrongdoing in other outlaws?

Ask Qadaffi.

But this is not solely applicable to so-called national security issues. We have outlaws a-plenty here at home, as well. The political class as a whole is talking about extending amnesty to one whole class of outlaws: illegal aliens (while disingenuously calling them illegal immigrants).

Martha Stewart was sent to prison NOT for illegal insider trading but for asserting to investigators and the public that she did not engage insider trading. They say she lied, and so they sent her to prison for “lying” to them about something they did not even charge her with. Meanwhile, large numbers of U.S. Senators engage in insider trading on a regular basis and are given a bye.

Jerry Pournelle has famously said (well, if it’s not yet a famous saying, it ought to be),

“We don’t have a rule of law, we have so many laws that if all were enforced impartially we would every one of us be ruined by fines, or in jail, or both. And we know this.”

And this is one major reason why respect for lawful behavior is so low. When you can follow a speeding highway patrolman to his coffee break, you know that not even the law enforcement officers take traffic laws seriously–unless they want to write a ticket. And I doubt that there are many citizens who have not–probably unintentionally!–broken tax laws simply because the laws on what the government takes from our pockets to put in others’ pockets are so arcane as to need a voodoo magister to keep them straight.

With laws designed to make outlaws of everyone and civil government determinbed to NOT make horrible examples of violent outlaws who rape and steal and murder, is it any wonder respect for thr rule of law is a laughable concept today?

A civil government determined to NOT horribly punish (“pour encourager les autres” [heh]) violent criminals and equally determined to have a big stick wherewith to beat citizens into submission, just in case they ever want to (as if that were a remote possibility–ask Martha) is an immoral government.

The primary justification for civil government is to get the outlaws–those who would steal and kill and destroy–off the backs of common citizens. And there’s not much else that is justifiable in our national government functions either biblically or constitutionally.

Yep. Security is a moral values issue.

Just a lil addendum to yesterday’s “thanksgiving”…

Here’s the rub: in a civilized society, civil government is tasked with hounding thieves with “the sword” so that they at least fear being caught out.

The response of the company that shows no shame at having stolen from me (delivered less than what they sold me) seems to indicate they see their behavior as simply business as usual. When that kind of attitude holds sway, thieves run free.

And vigilance committees come into being, because civil government isn’t aprehending such thieves and meting out punishment severe enough to not only discourage them but at least make other potential thieves like them hesitate to show such brazen behavior.

But we can be glad that the choice between civilization and barbarity is becoming plainer. For example, politicians on evbery side of nearly every aisle in this country are calling for “amnesty” for a major class of outlaws, a class that poses a serious threat to the safety and security of citizens of this country: the huge class of illegal aliens. Most Americans (the polls show roughly 3/4) agree that illegal aliens, those who are in the country without valid visas or work permits or legal attempts to gain citizenship, ought to at the very least be expelled.

But our masters in the political realm see it otherwise. And in pushing for amnesty for outlaws, they make clear one line in the war to save (or kill) civilization: honest government. As Jerry Pournelle put it,

“A country that has an elite leadership that defies the vast majority of the citizens is neither a republic nor a democracy.”

OK, back on track, now. Every instance of barbarians at the gate (like the shamefully dishonest merchant I mentioned yesterday and above) or in seats of power (like the politicians who want to give a “bye” to outlaws), there are others who advance the cause of civilization just by holding themselves to a higher standard.

Looked around for another motherboard to suit my needs (because even IF the scoundrels attempt to send me the merchandise I paid for, there’s no telling how long and how much effort it might take to force an ethical response from them). Found one for about the same total cost (delivered) as the one that was NOT delivered… with a case and power supply and other lil goodies thrown in. And—surprise!—it was from a retailer I’d dealt with before and had simply kind of lost track of over the years. No manual. (The other had no manual either, but a manual was easily downloaded.) Problem. It’s an “orphaned” board—the company is still around, but no longer produces motherboards and has removed all documentation for mobos from their website. No search engine produced anything usable.

Hmmm… not good. Nevertheless, I had had good experiences shopping with this small company several years ago, and the same people owned and were running it. Submitted my order, then emailed the company’s owner for help locating a manual or tech sheet. And on a Saturday evening—Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, no less—Steve Weigle at The Village Geek emailed me back with help.

Decent folks, one and all, who have a personal stake in helping their customers.

So, yes, I have seen more and more evidence of creeps, cretins and crooks peopling the landscape of our society, but there does seem to be a remnant of decent folk.


(Yes, there are more than a few other decent, honest business folk doing business on the web, but none of the ones I know seemed to have exactly what I needed—except for the ONE left at The Village Geek, a great place to do business. 🙂

I think the “Western Civ” t-shirt from is a good way to key in on a few of the issues in the current culture war:

“Besides Monotheism, Code of Law, Philosophy, Mathematics, Chemistry, Literacy, Physics, Modern Medicine, Sanitation, Electricity, Transportation, Electronics, Computers and Space Travel, WHAT HAS WESTERN CIV EVER DONE FOR THE WORLD?”


Let the game begin.


[Speaking to self: Self, read yesterday’s post. OK, now you can write this one. 🙂 ]

Wednesday, I recieved the motherboard I was waiting on. Put it away, cos, well, family was here, it was The Anniversary and the next day was Thanksgiving. Very “righteously” avoided even looking at it on Thanksgiving Day.

This morning, opened it up, put all tools, etc., out, arranged everything and began the process of installing the new board.

It was not the board I ordered and paid for. It was not at all the board advertised, promised for delivery or confirmed as being shipped. The company I ordered from stiffed me by shipping me an inferior product.

Not an explosion, but a very, very fast burn…

Later, more calmly, after being stiffed multiple times by a disfunctional voicemail/phone system at the other end of the pipe, I sent an email detailing the need the company had to make me whole, in order to demonstrate good faith.

Hours went by… more attempts to penetrate the impregnable defenses of a disfunctional voicemail/phone system.

Nearly twelve hours later, an email. Their remedy? They’re sending me an RMA#. I am to ship the inferior product that I did not order back to them. The company makes NO representation in the email concerning either replacing the inferior product with the product they advertised, which I ordered and paid for and they said they had shipped OR any reference to a refund!

Now, am I thankful for this lil difficulty (and admittedly, it is a small difficulty)?

Well, yes. And here’s why. I responded to the “RMA” email by detailing a few of the ethical and legal lapses in the company’s behavior. I very truthfully pointed out that should the company NOT make every effort to make me whole that I would bring their illegal bait and switch behavior to the attention of the federal fraud folks ( 😉 and two States’ Attorneys General, as well as complaints to Yahoo (since it was a “Yahoo Store”).

Why take such a hard line?

Well, while it’s no big deal for such companies to cheat me on such a small scale, unless a few folks (metaphorically) rap them upside the head with a brick bat for such behavior, they can mulitiply it hundreds or thousands of times, defrauding–harming–hundreds or thousands of other people.

So, I am grateful for the opportunity to climb on my swaybacked white horse, don my flowerpot helmet and take up my mop-handle in poor imitation of Don Quixote in hopes that this lil inconvenience for me may not be so readily perpetrated upon others, who may very well not find it a small inconcenience, but a heavier burden.

BTW, if you want to drop by the business that stiffed me and just let them know you’ll be spreading the word that you give credence to my opinion (based on my experience with them) that they are unethical, unreliable and altogether despicable, here’s their site and email:

One more dishonest place to avoid doing business with, IMO.

Update [11/30/04] Spent an hour on the phone with a “manager” at having the distinct pleasure of lecturing him on the moral. ethical and legal failings of his firm. Finally wringed from him the “concession” that he would refund the transaction on our credit card (as though he could avoid doing so: by this time, our next step was calling the credit card company to report their fraud and have the CC company get the charge reversed, which they would certainly do [heh]—and he very well knew it by the time he made the “concession”.) By this time, he was also offering to avert complaints to the California Attorney General’s office and the FCC as well, so he told me to simply keep the product we had not ordered (as though he had the ability to demand a return of something we had not ordered! [heh]).

[sigh] Some people are really dense. (Of course, there was also the language barrier… 🙂 I had both those “offers” in my pocket to begin with!

Well, eventually (when it’s convenient for me to be near a UPS dropoff) they’ll get their inferior product back. IF the refund is posted to our account by Thursday.

Warn folks you know: in my opinion doing business with this company means you don’t necessarily have any kind of chance of getting what you pay for and getting any kind of good faith behavior out of them after the sale is a chancy thing at best.

But when you get right down to it, having the distinct pleasure of exercising my “prophetic gift” (speaking forth hard truths, clearly, unequivocally, unreservedly) was nearly worth the inconvenience of doing so while burdened with a (temporarily) deaf “phone ear”… (Laid up today with a frequently painful stopped up left ear… sometimes clears temporarily only to plug up again… drainage? wax? If it goes on, I’ll have it seen to [sigh]).

But man! The guy had to deal with me while I was nursing a case of deaf phone ear… Personally, I bet he’d rather have had to deal with a bear with a tootheache. [heh… heh]

The story of the following hymn speaks for itself. Draw your own comparisons to your own life and responses to your own struggles.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Here’s what one account of the circumstances surrounding this hymn’s authorship says:

“Martin Rinkart was a pastor in the little city of Eisenberg [sic] in
Saxony during the Thirty Years’ War. This walled city was the goal of refugees
during that time. They came and ate all the food, and then there was starvation.
With the starvation came pestilence, until practically the whole population of
the city died. Martin Rinkart, the only pastor left in the city, had as many as
fifty funerals in one day. One evening after having conducted funerals all day,
he sank down exhausted, thinking that he could bear it no longer…”

Actually, Eilenberg was the town’s name, and it was sacked three times during Rinkart’s pastorate. One of those many funerals Rinkart held was for his own wife.

And yet, he wrote the words of this hymn as a response to the trials of the Thirty Years’ War in 1644, toward the end of active conflict.

Consider that as today’s turkey and dressing and the sauces and pies and trimmings wend their way slowly through your system, likely adding another five pounds’ weight by the end of the holidays…

Got troubles?

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

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