Essays in Idleness


Captain Cook

In years past, I would rely on a date book, to remind me of important public events. I had one, for instance, fifty years ago, in which the 200th anniversary of the Botany Bay landing was pre-printed. It wouldn’t have been necessary to consult it, however, for the visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Australia was then prominent in the news. It was, undoubtedly, a glorious anniversary, of which all Australians — note that I wrote, “all” — could be proud. I recall feeling almost antipodean myself that day, for I had been blessed with Australian acquaintance from a very early age; and have been ever since. I could fill pages with memoir of impressive characters I have met from that “far south.”

To a Canadian, that island continent is also a special place for the heart, coloured pink on our old classroom maps of the world: our brothers and our sisters of the Britannic realm.

Captain Cook himself, the first European to look upon Australia’s east coast, with what I must guess was “a wild surmise,” remains by any standard a hero. His feats as navigator — as explorer, surveyor, and cartographer — are in several ways unmatched and unrepeatable in the history of the world.

Australia was only a part of his discoveries and researches, and in Canada’s Newfoundland he also deserves his monument. I have stood upon that hill, over the city of Corner Brook, amid the Blomidon Mountains, and viewed at dusk that water passage, with its string of holy outports, to our own Bay of Islands. It was Captain Cook who accurately surveyed the entrance to the Saint Lawrence, thus speeding General Wolfe to Quebec. Captain Cook stands there in statue, with his quadrant, and likewise stands in statue on our opposite frontier, upon that island named for his protégé, George Vancouver. His noble Whitby collier, the HMS Endeavour, sailed right around the world, and her crew endured terrible privations, to achieve what they did.

Yesterday was the 250th anniversary. Two more generations have now flit by, and as I learn from Australian correspondents, it is not just the Batflu that has tamped celebrations. The Marxist filth are a virus in Australia as they are everywhere else — we saw their work recently in the incarceration of the obviously innocent Father Pell. Wherever great accomplishments of men would be commemorated, for the inspiration of the young and free, these vicious and ignorant “antifa” creatures will be there instead, in their ghoulish costumage, spreading their moral stench. Nihilists, they condemn events upon which their own existence still depends.

It is our duty as civilized men and women to confront these “post-modern” savages, and drive them off, until once more they can be ignored and, except by the devil, forgotten.


For my birthday this morning, the asteroid “(52768) 1998 OR2” is waving “Hiya!” as he whips by my native planet, from the close distance of four million miles, at a speed of nearly 17,000 knots. He is only a mile or two wide, but NASA tells us that’s good enough for an extinction event, and so we’re not to play chicken with him. I, however, am sick of being told what to do by officious, control-freak science types. They name these things as if they were diseases, and even on a red-letter day like today, are no fun at all.

The asteroid himself would appear to be tumbling in his habitually cheerful way, as he essays his closest approach to the Sun and, I assume, adjusts his make-up slightly. (Is he wearing black-face?) Wanting a better view, I have consulted Internet astronomy sites, but he is hard to resolve amid the fundraising pop-ups and subscription offers.

Of course he never asked, and probably didn’t expect to be treated with august formality on the one hand, or even a sporting levity on the other, by an Earth-based space agency, in this age of crass commercialism. Best to ignore us, and go shooting along. As his orbit approximately intersects with ours, he will have more opportunities to test our responses. On this pass, hills and ridges at one of his ends make it look like he is wearing a Batflu mask. But while he is classified as a PHO (“potentially hazardous object”) he is not anti-social, and is just waving d’accord, and then, adieu, adieu, adieu.

Salut, mon petit astéroïde!

He will return in 2079, I gather, when I will be enjoying my 126th solar revolution, unless I have moved. By some Australian calculation he will pass within one million miles next time. We will still need a telescope to see him. Frankly, I’d prefer an asteroid that can be seen with the naked eye, and pull up some tide. But then I am a thrill-seeker; today I plan to attempt another walk, if I can make it, right across Parkdale.

Isaiah says

Given that they have been wildly wrong in each of their predictions about the course of the Red Chinese Batflu, I have no confidence whatever in expert predictions. It is a mystery to me why anyone has, in epidemiology or any area I have observed over the years. About the only thing I would predict with confidence is: “We will fail to predict the future.” The closest we can ever do is to predict what won’t happen, from elementary common sense. When the number of variables is tiny, this may give us some hint. Or we may guess what always happens, because it is a law of nature. If, unaided by any sort of prop, you step off the parapet of a tall building, you will plunge to the ground. This is not a statistical probability: it is 100 percent.

Some of the “rules of economics” are like that. If you spend more, you have less. At some point you go into debt, no matter how much you had to start with. Even Charles Dickens understood this, though like any sentimental progressive, he didn’t like it. There are consequences to going into debt, which will grow the larger the debt is. From this, we enter politics, where we may try to abrogate such rules. All schemes of deficit financing end badly, though it is often possible for one administration to pass onto the next. Eventually, however, someone has to pay, even when the politicians succeed in transferring the load onto another generation. We can’t predict how the disaster will occur, only that it will. By the study of human nature, we can reasonably expect that those consequences will be worse than we foresaw.

Happily, pandemics may be better or worse. The one we have now has, in defiance of very grave epidemiological predictions, proved better so far. Only a couple hundred thousand have died. We can’t know, and we should know we can’t know the future, from the history of pandemics. For instance, serological tests “prove” that the asymptotic are the overwhelming majority of those infected. But maybe they will show real symptoms later. Millions, including many young, will start dropping dead from strokes. Or perhaps they won’t. We’ll see.

We’ll see what happens in the summer, then in the fall. For now, pandemic deaths are falling sharply, and we attribute this to our lockdown. That the rise, crest, and decline of these deaths has followed roughly the same statistical pattern, whether there was a lockdown or not, is interesting. Not having tried such an act of tyranny before, we can have nothing to compare with that lockdown. Still we can say that the virus is indifferent to our measures, and speculate that future waves will not consult our wishes, either.

For all our medical hubris, we are more or less defenceless. A vaccine or some therapeutics may reduce the toll slightly, during a wave, as it does with conventional influenzas each year, but we’ve never had much luck with vaccines against coronaviruses, and are at sea on much physiology. Some die, others live, because individual immune responses are widely variable; we haven’t learnt much except in our imaginations. When we learn more against the last Sars we may know more about the next one, but again, maybe not.

This is what we can say about the future of the Batflu: that we don’t know, and can’t. It may disappear tomorrow. It may grow suddenly much worse. It may seem to disappear, then return.

But whatever it does, if we don’t get back to work, we will starve. We are already watching “supply chains” break down, including some for food, here in North America. I flinch to think of Africa, where conditions for famine are already well advanced, including locust swarms — now also crossing the Middle East. Everywhere, arrangements to merely slow (not end) the Batflu seriously hinder the response to famine.

Fear has been abetted, much of it for obvious political purposes by those who actually want to wreck the economy because they think it is the only way to defeat Trump, or stealth-legislate their political agendas. This derangement is acute in politicians, not only Left but Right, who get a kind of erotic thrill from their newfound powers, which they long to keep. It is reinforced by the arrogance of specialized “medical experts.”

It will be interesting now to see whether this psychic “pandemic” can be tamed: whether people, long cowed by their Nanny States, will find the courage to resist the latest micromanagement. This is where the battiness of progressive ideology most tells, after generations of leftwing infiltration and agitprop — a holdover from the 20th century. Again, we will see what happens. If we are lucky, under pressure of events, “progressiveness” might even become a target, and “wokeness” might be eliminated entirely. All trends are reversible, as I like to say. If we are unlucky, the human race will suffer instead. Courage is among the unpredictables.

As recent popes have said, we must choose: to be on the side of life, or on the side of death. This controversy has been with us for some time.

As Isaiah said: “Choose life!”

Lent is over

Jesus Christ did not hold press conferences. We can see now why He did not. Can you imagine what the hacks would have reported, had Our Lord been engaging with their malice daily? As things stand, we get little hints from the Gospels, of what the hacks of that age were doing with His more paradoxical and parabolic statements.

I was thinking this when reading reports of a Trump press conference. The Natted States President spoke unguardedly about the health advantages of sunlight, heat, and bleach. The hacks reported this as something like, “Trump recommends injecting Lysol and drinking Clorox.”

Were I Trump, I would have doubled down in a Tweet, declaring that, “For sure, if you pump enough Lysol into your veins, and chug a pint or two of bleach, you will NOT get the Chinese Batflu. You will also qualify for a Darwin Award.”

I would then say that Dr Fauci had confirmed this.

When the virus first hit us, we knew so little about it, that in retrospect we can justify almost any fool thing. The idea of closing down whatever the politicians thought “inessential” seemed plausible at the time. By now we know enough to say that our forty-day lockdown was a catastrophic mistake. It was not just economic suicide. Deaths were almost certainly increased by it, overall.

Gentle reader will find evidence around the Internet. I cannot be bothered to fetch it for him.

Had we instead, from the start, instructed everyone to behave as if they were Swedish (Canadians can be quite good at this), the Batflu would have spread in roughly the same way. We should indeed have closed our borders (permanently, to Red China, for this was one Sars-lab accident too many), and maybe indoor chess tournaments. But not baseball, if it were played in the open air.

I don’t deny that the Xi Jinping Batflu can be a real killer: as bad as one of the worst flu seasons (when added to the flu). But trying to defeat it in the Red Chinese manner, by locking everyone up in their cells, is possibly more stupid than it is evil. It creates a secondary disaster significantly greater than the (unavoidable) primary one. We now experience it, as we try to reopen.

A traumatized population now crawls out of its confinement. Their immune systems were compromised during their captivity, in the absence of sunlight, exercise, and fresh air. (I, at least, had Dettol.) Their exposure to the virus was only delayed. Nature’s voluble prison keepers now wait to pounce, as the caseload once again rises. I recommend badass responses to them.

Thank God, sumer is icumen in. As so often, God is our only friend. Welcome the sun, the air, the fields, streams, and beaches.

Oh, and prepare yourself. You are going to have to get back to work when your pogey runs out.

On testing

We need much more testing, as we reopen Western economies. While I cannot see the point of much more testing for Batflu infection, now that it is known to be and to have been at large through the general population, and critical cases announce themselves in hospital emergency rooms, there is an argument for the serological tests that give us a better view of Batflu epidemiology, including fresh insights into its nature and methods of proliferation. We may learn things like, does it kill one in a thousand, or one in ten thousand? This may help us prepare for a resurgence in the fall, or at any other time(s) in the future. In the absence of any immediate prospect of a safe or effective vaccine (we still haven’t got one for the last coronavirus, after many years), it may prove a boon to therapeutic researchers.

At worst, no harm can come from obsessive testing of these two kinds, except for the extravagant expense that we are now used to. Both may give those returning to work some peace of mind, and at a time of panic, this may help to restore some sobriety. But neither will much enlighten us on the origins of the pandemic, which will require the sort of “humint” (human intelligence) spycraft at which the Red Chinese have proved themselves far more adept. Too, we face Communist success in distributing malicious disinformation. (The “Wuhan wet market” story displayed their cynical brilliance). They do this with ease through our progressive media.

Pro-Chinese Communist agents of influence dominate more than our “fake news,” however, where the crudeness and stupidity of our journalists is too obvious. They have infiltrated other institutions tirelessly, and have the money to buy off many who, without this corruption, would know better. The kind of blackmail the Communists can exert against everyone from powerful businessmen with Chinese investments to protect, to prominent scholars and diplomats bought into the globalist fairy tales, down even to sponsored basketball players — ranges from the overt to the exquisite.

By comparison, Communist Russian efforts during the Cold War were modest, and often embarrassingly clumsy. The Soviets lacked such a galaxy of agents. Owing to inferior propaganda, they could not dominate our news cycles as flunkeys of the CCP have learned how to do. They were amateurs when it came to exploiting the pathological “white guilt,” that continues to be an object of the Red Chinese. The latter have become real professionals at seeding infective memes. They are able to spread allegations of “racism,” “xenophobia,” and “paranoia,” against the very people who see their threat most clearly, and make the plainest distinctions between the victimized Chinese people and the monstrous dictatorship that controls them.

The scale of technological theft is also known to be vast. The Red Chinese laugh at fussy Western concepts, such as “property rights.” Their economy, like the much less successful Soviet Russian economy before it, suffers from the domestic oppression of inventors and entrepreneurs, by the suspicious hand of socialist bureaucracy. The state needs to steal its most useful ideas from abroad. The vast network of PRC students and professors on Western campuses is only one dimension of this.

It thus strikes me that, in the course of disengaging from both the Xi Jinping Batflu and the Xi Jinping State, we need a testing programme. We should examine not only Chinese recently settled in the West, but many of our own in an objective, scientific way. This would hardly be racist, for all those sympathizing with Taiwan, or with freedom fighters in Hong Kong, &c, would be welcome to stay.

Only those from China or other foreign citizens (WHO and UN staff, &c) who test positive for allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party would be sent home. Those who test positive but can’t be extradited could be quarantined, indefinitely. As with any lethal and destructive disease, our intention should be to eradicate it.

Prickles the sheep

When the Calgary Stampede is cancelled, one might begin to take the Batflu seriously. There were some preliminary indications in the international death tolls. As the overwhelming majority of victims have multiple “co-morbidities,” however, these counts are arbitrary. The meejah have been able to find a small selection of young, healthy people who were struck down, too, in order to improve the scare. That guvmints all over have locked down their populations might, at first, seem another clue, but the day is long passed when I took a political response to be evidence of anything.

Endure this for a moment. It is my general approach to the Red Chinese Batflu crisis. An open mind, if anyone had one, might postulate a general overreaction. The Swedes, and South Dakotans, to say nothing of others, have shown that if, instead of a Maoist lockdown, we’d simply asked the people to use their brains, we’d get approximately the same death curves on the charts that we get from letting the state bully them. What we wouldn’t get, is a way to appease the Nanny Statists.

They are long-practised in the art of going berserk when they don’t get their way. Our meejah are long-practised in the art of amplifying their holler. Citizens of the modern West are now practised in the art of being pushed around, and have mastered the complacency that is needed while watching their tax money being flushed down various progressive toilets. Our economies are based on massive transfers from those who earn, to those who whine.

Let me expose my own pointless indulgence in meejah reports, by the theft of another story. It appears that Prickles the Sheep has been recaptured, after escaping from a fold in Tasmania. This now-celebrated champion of self-isolation survived in the bush for seven years. Her fleece had grown considerably during this retreat, from the usual hairdressing routines. Locked down once again in her pasture, she will now be paradoxically restyled. I doubt that she will like that. If gentle reader can guess the weight of her woolly locks, I gather, he may win a prize.

Here I wish Mabel Henrietta née Jevon, my paternal grandmother, were still with us. I have a photograph of her winning a classic Kelvinator, for guessing how much frozen food it contained. She was a superhuman estimator of weights and volumes.

But getting back to Prickles, I propose to make her into a religious symbol. Let her stand for all those Catholics abandoned by the neo-pagans who now control the Vatican. Churches everywhere are now closed, but none tighter than those in Red China, where our pope has directed all Catholics to turn themselves in, to the Communist authorities. Some won’t. Some of those may succeed in hiding.

Many all over the world have already become “bush Catholics,” self-isolated from what is rapidly becoming a self-persecuting Church, under extremely contemptible management. Pope Francis hectors these people in vain, with his asinine “Amazon” and “climate change” homilies.

My piece in the Catholic Thing today (here), touches on one dimension of this phenomenon.

Of England & Saint George

One of the first indications that England might be going squishy, was the replacement of Edward the Confessor as her patron saint, by Saint George in the 14th century. While I have no objection to the slaying of dragons, or even of foreigners in certain situations, my view of nationalism tends towards the grim, and I’m particularly suspicious of pop enthusiasms. Saint George has had the misfortune to be associated with jingo thuggery, especially in the far West (England; also Portugal, &c).

Shakespeare’s celebration of Henry V is more ambiguous than, I think, England’s patriotic scholars have assumed. I do not think the dramatist concealed the thug aspect in King Henry’s manipulation of chauvinist emotions on the battlefield. He was orchestrating carnage. Saint George in the West has ever been depicted on the attack.

I prefer his muscular, yet gentler behaviour in the East, for instance Ethiopia and of course Georgia, and even among the Crusaders, rescuing lost Christian tribes. For here Saint George’s rôle as a defender of scattered Christians is the better pronounced. Remember that even before the Mussulmans, we had to deal with the Parsis, who were the more aggressive, once upon a time. Indeed, we sometimes welcomed the Arabs, at first, to save us from worse enemies. Too, there is an aspect of Saint George, that I detect in eastern icons, where the spooky flavour of an Elijah is presented in his character.

Today, for instance, I pray towards Saint George for the succour of our persecuted Christians in Red China. May he slay the Communist dragon.

But in England, at the Protestant Reformation, his image was flown as a replacement for all religious flags, and made a symbol for the Tudors, finally against their pope. His cross became the maritime symbol, and flew on that remarkable fleet of ships that first extended English commerce, across the wide seas. They were engaged mostly in piracy, against the chiefmost Catholic power of the time. I insist that we retain this detail.

My association of violence with mental squishiness may be deemed controversial, however. To me it seems obvious, and to others it might, if they made it a topic for philosophical contemplation. It is when the hard unchangeables of our Faith are selectively abandoned, and the empty spaces they leave are plugged with crowd emotions, that we become the worst representatives of ourselves. This is where the blubbering squishiness  comes in: where sentimentality invades our reason. It is all blancmange or custard on the surface, but beneath this we find the howling murderous rage.

Earth Day revisited

From the latest photographs I see that it is a clear day in Delhi. By eliminating almost all motorized traffic, shutting down all construction sites, closing a dozen coal-fired generators, and this and that, particulate levels in the world’s most air-polluted capital city have fallen to less than half the previous normal. Higher-caste residents are quoted expressing their amazement at how clean the air is, and the pleasure they take in breathing. India’s poor, and Delhi’s, may take a different view, but unknown to our global media.

It is Earth Day, the fiftieth anniversary, and this year I may feel it unnecessary to turn every electric device in my apartment on for Earth Hour, and leave the refrigerator door open. The truth is, that this had little effect anyway, for my instinctively neo-Luddite habits had long since minimized my electrical consumption, and limited my collection of artificially powered gadgets. Too, my Scottish genetic heritage kicks in. I can only bear to leave the fridge door open for about three minutes, and the stovetop burning long enough to make tea. My commitment to “iniquity signalling” is shamefully lax.

I would actually like the air to be cleaner (as it is in all developed countries), and less plastic to be floating in the oceans (mostly from the underdeveloped ones). I would also like the great sprawling conurbations, both East and West, to be downsized, broken into self-reliant neighbourhoods, detoxified, humanized instead, ticky-tack suburbs returned to farmland, and so forth. My plans for this are poorly thought through, and may be as incoherent as any fruitcake environmentalist’s. …

Well, not that incoherent. I’ve left out the maglev trains.

From the age in which I was raised, I retain at least one Whole Earth principle. The hippie it came from was Immanuel Kant. He called it the “categorical imperative,” and held that, for all sentient creatures, the central commandment of reason is to do as you’d be done by. Gentle reader will note that I amended it, discarding Kant’s universalist calculations, and substituting the implicit and explicit commandment of Jesus of Nazareth, the Saints, Moses, Socrates, the Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tan, and older moral authorities. We must not pretend that the Enlightenment changed anything, unless it was to install atheism as the default position for reason itself — which in turn leads to the abandonment of all inconvenient forms of human decency, the innumerable revolutionary massacres that followed, aborting our own children, &c.

Some hippies sometimes glimpsed the ancient truths, on their mentally clear days, grasping if only briefly that “power tripping” is the opposite of goodness.

We should try to recover our moral poise. This involves the replacement of feigned by legitimate reason, and its supplement by wisdom and faith. For better or worse, however, these possessions can be acquired by only one person at a time, through humble and unceasing work.

Earth Day, by contrast, is a celebration of eco-arrogance and vanity, for all the proponents of “structural change.” (This is the current slogan-code for the imposition of socialism.) It is an example of exactly what blocks the advancement of all such unstructured activities as kindness, devotion, loyalty and love.

Typhoid Mary

One is reminded of Typhoid Mary by an item in this morning’s Beeb. She was the Irish girl from County Tyrone who became the talk of New York around the turn of the last century. This she accomplished as a domestic cook. A classic “asymptomatic,” she spread the disease she was carrying to all of her employers and their families; and went through quite a lot of them, for they all died of typhoid. Or, most: journalists told the story, so we will never get it straight. But Mary Mallon herself never got sick. The yellow press lord, William Randolph Hearst, took up her cause, when she was confined on North Brother Island — now a bird sanctuary, but where the smallpox hospital then was. (A nice story in itself, up the East River.) His long deceased newspaper, and their obscurely paid lawyers, got her sprung as an “innocent victim.” But as the trail of death followed her under each of her subsequently assumed names, she was eventually returned to isolation — public sympathy for her having expired.

As unlucky Irish immigrants go, Miss Mallon (finally died 1938) is something of a legend. At least she achieved fame. The same has seldom been realized by history’s other millions of disease spreaders.

We have no idea what the asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus — your Batflu, as I call it — will do. Oh, and let me mention that it came from Red China, and was hosed on the rest of the world intentionally by the CCP (which locked down Wuhan within China, but left international flights open).

Sooner or later we may learn a few reliable things about it. Society — “the economy” — will reopen whether or not a vaccine is discovered (it is no sure thing). There will be “second waves,” perhaps thirdsies, and millions may yet die. Or, the disease will start disappearing from the news in mid-May. Please read this carefully: We don’t know.

We don’t know about many things in this world, though we think we know, which is why we are such prey to surprises. It is why Religion is the Most Essential Service. Only those at peace, with themselves and their Lord, have a chance at coping. That puffball, Trump (I’ve come to quite like him), says that our present contagion is like nothing we’ve ever seen. In fact, while it is “novel,” so once were all of the others which afflicted the human race (which includes Chinese, Blacks, Brown, and even White People) since time out of mind, and will do in the future.

What to do about them? Social distancing is very old hat. Soap was a useful invention of the Babylonians, and its frequent application an important development of the late Victorians. Some medicines are exceptional (most are a waste of money). I’m a great fan of vaccines, and of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and how she learnt things from the Ottomans at Constantinople.

But it is the custom of killer viruses and bacteria to steal a lead on us, when they first break out; and even after we have got the cut of their jib, to still find ways to sink us. Life involves risk, and will not cease to do so. The management of risk will always be a makeshift.

I really wish people would master these platitudes. We should embrace our inner banality.

For that matter, economic collapse is not a novelty either, and while it is the product of human imbecility in almost every instance, that does not mean it is going to stop happening. I marvel at the self-destruction of our commerce, in order not even to stop the Batflu, but to slow it down, so we can enjoy it longer. Whereas, I am hardly enjoying it at all.

Free press

As an antiblogger, I am sometimes curious about such competition as may be offered by blogs, and this morning I became aware of a new one: here. What a marvellous thing, I reflected. I credit the gentleman I believe to have been chiefly responsible for its creation, Mr Michael Gove, a minister of state in the United Kingdom.

If gentle reader will peruse the content I have flagged, he will see that, in a plain, clear, timely and decisive way, it utterly demolishes an “insight” article published in the previous day’s Sunday Times. It does so in about the space required, without unnecessary rhetorical flourishes. It does, more serenely, what the American president less serenely attempts in some of his press conferences: to highlight and expose fraudulent and irresponsible work by those whose trade is to circulate garbage. This (street-cleaning or trash removal, as it were) is an important public service.

Although a man of the 13th century I must say that, before the current pandemic, I used to take holidays in the 18th century. This, unfortunately, was where I acquired my propensity to journalism and diffuse prose-writing, and an excessive familiarity with the origins of modern, so-called “enlightened” literature. I once delivered extempore at King’s College, Halifax (the original of Columbia University in New York), a term’s worth of public blather on “The Lives of the Hacks,” sketching this modern history from Defoe and the periodical essayists forward to our later journalists, novelists, and “generations of swine.” I contrasted this enterprising, business tradition with the older arrangements in which journalists were invariably bought, not sold. (Today, they are once again mostly bought.) They were the running dogs of the powerful, or in some cases, their barking, biting antagonists, until either bought off or “retired.”

Oddly, I favoured the new, capitalist arrangements, of the “free press,” even though it frankly contributed to public literacy (even women were accepted as readers), and other indelicacies. The world would become an unhappier place, as more and more information became available. But hélas!

That was nearly thirty years ago, and since, I have become more conservative and backward-looking. I have inwardly concluded that the whole modern experiment is a mistake, though I have had to concede its prevalence. I consider it as a form of plague — intellectual and spiritual — such that, we must seek what antidotes we can find to survive, as we await divine intervention.

One of these antidotes is true information. The old-fashioned (essentially 17th-century) method of commissioning writers to post calm and reasonable refutations to false and malicious reports, is what has been essayed in my link. It is the best that can be hoped in a time when most if not all commercial journalism is not only false, and malicious, but morally degenerate and obscene.

Ideally, we could still have a few newspapers that tried to be factual, and impartial, and to omit rubbish, at least from their news columns. Of course, they would be dull, grey, and sell poorly among the functionally illiterate. But they would serve that tiny minority who need or want to know what is happening in the world, as well as what is not happening. Given the latest technology, perhaps this material could be posted online.

Up here in the High Doganate, we still try to advance the notion of a “free press” — that is, a press that is free of putrid, stinking garbage. We hope to be able to stay out-of-date in this way.

Keeping one’s peace

Many are opposed to faith, family, industrious habits, common decency and public order. The “radical” will not be able to articulate reasons for his bitter opposition, but one look at his face should make everything clear. Here in Parkdale, we have a lot of Leftists. Perhaps they had unhappy childhoods. I hope gentle reader will not think me a bigot, but I have noticed that they are almost all white people.

Whatever the cause, they cannot “smoak a jest,” recognize other forms of humour, or distinguish the parts of speech. This makes them appear batty (in the old sense, when it would have attracted institutional attention). They are frequently convulsed with anger, then sullen when they have exhausted themselves. Alas, they cannot be left in normal company, for they will immediately and raucously demand a “safe space,” and then not go away. They will accuse the normal person of “racism,” “fascism,” “sexism,” and “microaggressions.” Their spittle represents a health hazard.

It is hard to know what to do with these people, in the absence of the traditional arrangements. When world markets open again, we could sell them into slavery. But in the meantime, I suppose, we must keep them in group homes, ideally under armed guard. Maybe feed them okra; surely there is a surplus, and I’m told it has calming properties.

But that’s just me, always looking for solutions.

Another is to pretend they aren’t there. I saw an encouraging attempt across the street, the other day. A strong-jawed woman, of the usual leftwing views, was shouting obscenities from her porch at a workman as he innocently passed by, observing the six-foot rule along the sidewalk. I doubt he’d ever met her before. She accused him of raping her, stealing her fortune, injecting her with drugs, and other deeds which she characterized as “inappropriate.” It was as if the poor fellow had just received a Trump nomination, and been brought before a committee of Democrats. She warned him to get away from her, shouting louder as he moved farther and farther away. She declared an intention to call the police, and recommended that neighbours dial nine-one-one.

“You can’t fool me,” he called back from a secure distance. “I know you love me.”

Within minutes, he must have been several blocks away: successfully parted from another progressive woman. God bless the sane and stable working class, who keep our telephones working.

But you don’t have to engage, at all.

There are other devices for repelling liberals, of all fifty-seven sexes, that require even less effort, and manufacturers now make quite effective ear plugs. These may be available in the pharmacies still allowed to open, although your local political master, “dressed in a little authority,” may have banned them as “non-essential.” In that case, buy them under the table.

This suggestion is for Canada, of course. In the Natted States, they have the Second Amendment.

Let us express ourselves

It is a little-known fact that no government can do anything, without the cooperation of its victims. Of course that cooperation may be obtained by force and falsehood, but there will always be a few people who won’t play along. This creates a “technical problem” for the tyrant, which can also be solved by violence and deceit, but in the heart of every dictatorship there must be calculations. At what point do so many people want us dead, that they will actually kill us?

This is a political calculation, and it can turn even a genocidal maniac into a thoughtful politician. A monstrously evil country, such as Red China, can be moderated in this way. Superficially, it may sometimes come to resemble a bourgeois, Westernized, rule-of-law state, like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea. It may, indeed must in its own interest, pretend to be benign. But under sufficient pressure it has only two choices. One is to be openly monstrous, with all the risks that entails; and the other is to disintegrate.

My interest has been piqued as a China-watcher. Recent events have been bringing that kettle back to the boil. That the Peking politburo has been making serious mistakes, we may observe. It could not possibly have intended the Batflu crisis, which its own malign incompetence brought about. But as it tries to manage the crisis, for its own purposes, the mistakes multiply. Even the people it had diligently bought — such as our progressive journalists, politicians, and businessmen — are turning against it.

Within China itself, the unthinking default loyalty of the masses, has been disturbed. “Narratives” which conflict with the official ones are circulating, along with the virus — and even among those who “test negative,” as it were. These are people who would never rebel, but they become sympathetic to rebels. Moreover, the state’s image of invincibility — the Mao/Xi portrait, a hundred feet tall — is cracking. Imagined lines of contempt appear in the plaster. Chairman Mao, of course, is dead, but Chairman Xi must be sensing his mortality.

As the Soviet Union was collapsing from within, progressive Westerners tried to ignore it. This wasn’t something they wanted to look at, which is why they were all taken by surprise. The fall of the Berlin Wall inwardly distressed everyone on the Left. For a few years their confidence was shaken, slowing their efforts to regroup around “environmentalism,” or some alternative leftwing cause, that wasn’t in shambles like socialism. But eventually their smugness recovered, and those revealed to have been absolutely wrong about everything they had ever told us, were able to resume their status as “experts.”

Popular fear of the Batflu resembles our fear of Red China itself. It is analogous, at least circumstantially, to the “media wars” this old Cold Warrior remembers (most of which he lost). It is true that its allies don’t actually like the Batflu. Even Communist fellow-travellers, who had some acquaintance with the USSR, would admit that it “wasn’t perfect.” They denied being party affiliates, calling themselves, in effect, “anti-anti-Batflu” instead. They were opposed to that “inordinate fear of Communism” that the American fool, Jimmy Carter, decried. To men like him, it would not even occur to advance Communist interests directly. They did it from stupidity, alone.

Underneath, there was fear of the Batflu. If we antagonize it, what will it do? After all, it is very powerful. What if we failed to keep our six-foot distance, and it suddenly leapt at us? The wise statesman, in this analysis, will surrender whenever the Batflu makes demands. He favours “diplomacy.”

Whereas, I favour the approach of the people in Hong Kong, with their lives on the front line, who have been expressing their views undiplomatically. I was especially charmed, for instance, by the remark one Hong Kong demonstrator provided to a television camera, when asked for his advice to Mr Donald Trump: “Don’t trust China. China is asshole.”

Would Red China retaliate if we, too, were to express ourselves so succinctly? Of course it would try. Tyrannies cannot cope with loss of face, because in the end it is all that they have. And our freedom and dignity as human beings, is all that we have.

Courage, mon ami.

The world cannot be fixed

Mister Trump, the president of a neighbouring country, likes to win. This is his reputation, and it is enhanced by his public enthusiasm for winning, and the fact that he frequently wins. One might almost call him an embodiment of American optimism.

Now, as it becomes more apparent that the danger of the Red Chinese Batflu was overstated, he should be coming into his own. Having correctly anticipated that Americans (also Europeans, Asians, Africans, Brazilians, &c) would be panicked by irresponsible media reports, fed by the interests of massive and incompetent government bureaucracies, he took decisive action — in effect launching a “Green New Deal” overnight. Most other countries followed his lead, after smearing him a bit. The Natted States Opposition Party (so called because it is opposed even to itself) likewise followed the lead of “other countries,” i.e., smearing Trump and then doing what he said.

Unfortunately, he was “played” by the Red Chinese. Their masters had shut off all of Hupeh province (currently spelt “Hubei”), in response to a virus spreading from a bio-research lab that the French and Americans had designed and largely paid for in the conurbation of Wuhan. (This contested fact is no longer deniable.) The Communists stopped all road, rail, river, and air traffic to other locations in China. But through the latter part of January, they intentionally left international flights operating, so that the contagion would spread to, chiefly, Europe and America. Tens of thousands of travellers — anyone rich enough to leave Hupeh — half-knowingly fled abroad.

This was an unambiguously murderous act, by the successors of the butchers of Tienanmen.

So that when Mister Trump began stopping these flights on January 31st, it was already too late. The Xi Jinping Batflu had been seeded. And thanks to the interference being run by the corrupt World Health Organization (still denying that the virus was transmissible to human beings), it would take many weeks to discover what the Chinese government already knew, and showed that it knew by its actions. Fortunately, the virus, product of reckless experiments with bats from the caves of distant Yunnan, was not as lethal as it could have been. Ten-thousands have died when it could have been ten-millions.

The world economy is now crippled. Perhaps gentle reader has heard. This is a natural consequence of putting most of the planet’s population under house arrest. The electorates of the West are still convinced that the medical threat equals that of the Black Death, or the Spanish Flu; but this is wearing off.

Time now for Mister Trump to win by “reopening the economy” — which necessitates letting people out of their houses (or out of their dovecotes, in the case of the cities). Paying them to stay home soon proves as unsustainable as the Green New Deal, and almost as insane. Simply starving them to death is not politically viable. That Mister Trump was acting consistently in good faith (albeit coloured by his gigantic ego), I am convinced. As I say, he was played — along with the whole Western world. Had they been given true information from the outset, they could have taken effective action when the Chinese did.

Those with a broader sense of current history, might observe that Nixon and Kissinger made a grave mistake by their “opening to China.” But that was an argument I lost nearly half a century ago. China should have remained in isolation, until the demonic Maoist regime had collapsed. Here, however, I must not try to lure myself into the bottomless history of lost causes.


As Confucius would say (not to be confused with Xi Jinping), “Don’t hop on the long chariot.” This is among my mottoes from The Book of Songs, and the moral is, “Don’t concern yourself with the sorrows of the world. …

“You will only cover yourself with dust.”

It is the advice I’ve been neglecting in recent Idleposts.

Or put this another way: “The World Cannot be Fixed.” I know this sounds like a highly unsuccessful James Bond movie title, but it plays well in the cinema of my own mind.

The “long chariot” is the world of policy, or politics, where we are endlessly trying to fix the chariot: to keep it moving, or get it moving again. But the world doesn’t work on policy. In the broadest sense, it works on prayer; if I may define prayer so broadly that it includes ancestor worship. Its principles are those of celestial mechanics. It doesn’t go anywhere. Rather, it turns.

And it will continue turning. It didn’t stop when it was told to stop, and since it is already moving, it cannot be restarted, either.