Category: Uncategorized

Here are Five Thing You Absolutely Don’t Have to Worry About

The now cliche bit of “wisdom” coined by Winston Churchill near the end of World War II and revived by Rahm Emanuel is “never waste a good crisis.” They are great for the ruling class because they use crises to move radical political and social agendas, and they use them to divert attention from their mal and misfeasance. Here are five “crises” that you can ignore because they are bogus, manufactured problems, or don’t affect you.

The Will Smith Slapping Incident. If ever there was an event that should cause the universe to breathe a collective sigh of who cares, it is this one. This silly incident has absolutely no significance to the lives of anyone. The test is if you didn’t know about it, would it affect your life. The answer is no. So quit worrying about super-rich Hollywood movie star Will Smith and his poor, traumatized family. They will likely do better the most of the rest of us.

Climate Change. Climate change, as I have written before, is undoubtedly occurring. That is the nature of climate. Is it a crisis? It could be. Many civilizations on planet Earth have risen and fallen due to weather. Are we in one of those periods now? We don’t know. As the Hoover Institute article (here) points out, temperatures may have risen .8 degrees C since 1850, but that number is well within the measurement margin of error. Statistically, one cannot reject the hypothesis that there has been no temperature rise. Also, if there is a “crisis” with carbon emissions, why are politicians not building nuclear plants, the cleanest, most efficient, and safest form of energy generation.

Never waste a good crisis.

White Supremacists. I don’t know where this whole “white supremacists are the biggest threat to America” narrative started, but it is stupid. It was not “white supremacists” that caused hundreds of millions in damage, burning down American cities in 2020. Radical leftist organizations like the BLM and Antifa did that, goaded on by Democrat politicians. The most absurd example is when Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin took office and ordered a stand down in the US military to weed out white supremacy. A Pentagon study later showed that about a hundred out of 2.5 million US military members participated in that white supremacist activity. One wonders if the Afghanistan fiasco would have occurred if the defense officials were spending more time on defense instead of chasing mythical KKK members in the ranks.

Covid-19 Omicron. First of all, Omicron is pretty mild. I had it at the beginning of March. I had a slight fever, a cough, and a little fatigue. A few days and it had passed. I realize that some may suffer more, and I didn’t because instead of worrying about the Covid, I did something about it early in the pandemic. It was clear from the beginning that the effects of the illness were pretty stratified. It was not pleasant to catch it, but almost everyone who did catch it survived. Those who didn’t were nearly all in particular categories. This included the very elderly (who likely would have been finished off by the flu anyway), the obese, people with low vitamin D3 levels, and those with metabolic disorders like diabetes. I didn’t fit into any of those categories, and to make sure my immune system had a fighting chance, I took D3, zinc, got some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise, and I dropped 20 lbs. of excess weight. Notice that I did not say anything about the vaccine. I am not a test animal for Big Pharma, and the risk of an inadequately tested vaccine is higher than the risk of the disease for me. Maybe not you. Quit worrying. Get informed. Accurately assess the risks. Do something positive to protect yourself.

Voter access. In some counties, the number of people voting in 2020 exceeded the number of registered voters. The rolls of registered voters are bloated by those who had moved before the election, including some who moved on to their eternal reward. It seems like access is not the thing that should worry us.

Back in Twitter Jail-Second Appeal

I am still faced with the heart-wrenching dilemma of getting the suspension of my Twitter account lifted without compromising my support for free speech and my opinion that the suspension is nonsense. The easy path is to just delete the tweet, but in doing so I tacitly admit to violating their rules. I didn’t violate their rule. Engaging in “hateful conduct” would require that I actually hate the subject of my tweet. I don’t. I pity him in the same sense that I pity someone who is delusional and thinks he is George Washington or Gandhi, or like in the case of Joe Biden thinks he is President of the United States.

In any case, I have not yet rationalized enough to hit the “delete” button that is my get out of jail card. On a positive note, Elon Musk, who is very pro-free speech bought 9+% of Twitter and was added to the company’s board of directors. This may benefit stubborn old bastards like me who are trying to get accounts reinstated without compromising.

“Wokeness gives them a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.”

Here is my second appeal.

I again disagree with the suspension of my account for “hateful conduct.” First, my post was entirely accurate. I rechecked the facts, and there is no dispute regarding their accuracy. Facts are stubborn things, but they exist and sometimes conflict with the wishful thinking of weak-minded people who can’t face the truth.
Secondly, the whole concept of “hateful conduct” presupposes that Twitter enforcers can unfailingly discern the emotional state of people posting tweets. In this case, I do not hate the subject of my tweet. If I did, how would you know? In fact, I am indifferent concerning Levine. I am not indifferent to insidious lies that threaten the fabric of a well-ordered society. I don’t apologize for being pro-civilization.
Finally, let me express my concern about those at Twitter engaged in opposing free speech. There is just something morally and socially twisted about someone who seeks to suppress the truth at this stage in history. Your new boss, Elon Musk, refers to them as “mean people”. He said, commenting on them, “Wokeness gives them a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.” I recommend that you examine yourself in light of his comment.

Buy my book, “Trail to Peril” on Amazon. It is a mystery, action, thriller set on the Pacific Crest Trail.

A Brief Review of Stephen Cohen’s “War With Russia?”

A very interesting and thought-provoking book by Russian historian Stephen Cohen. It provides a clear analysis of US and NATO policy toward Russia since the fall of the Soviet empire. It also offers an answer to the important question of why we are now and have been sitting on the brink of World War III for the last four weeks of the Ukrainian invasion by Russia.

Available here at Amazon.

The author is clearly not the sort of pro-Ukraine cheerleader that so dominates the western media right now. Instead, he provides a thoughtful account of the history of relations between the US-led NATO countries and “Putin’s Russia”, and explains the origin of the new cold war and why it is far more dangerous than the old one. In much of the book, Cohen seems sympathetic to the Russians who he argues were badly treated by the west and particularly by successive US Presidents starting with Bill Clinton. He seems to have a grudging admiration for Putin or at least rejects the widely held notion that Putin is the root of all evil.

One of the really interesting topics Cohen discusses is how President Trump sought to mend relations with the Russians, and reverse the contentious relationship that had prevailed for decades. This so threatened the status quo that American political elites such as President Obama and Hillary Clinton and willing accomplices in the intelligence community and Congress used the collusion allegations to attempt to delegitimize President Trump and derail his efforts at detente with Putin. The so-called Russiagate allegation was eventually debunked, but the consequence is the real threat of war between superpowers.

Twitter Appeal Denied

Twitter denied my appeal. Looks like I stay in Twitter jail indefinitely unless I buy into their reality by deleting my tweet. Here is the communication I received:

Hello,

Thank you for your patience as we reviewed your appeal request for account @SteveAshby, regarding the following:

Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision.

You will not be able to access Twitter through your account due to violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules around:

[sic]In order to restore account functionality, you can resolve the violations by logging into your account and completing the on-screen instructions.

Thanks,

Twitter

Meanwhile, as the impasse continues, I am exploring some other social media options and using the time I have been wasting on Twitter writing and otherwise being productive. So, Thanks, Twitter.

Back in Twitter Jail

Twitter suspended me again.

I stuck my nose into a discussion of Richard Levine, the “trans” assistant secretary of health who was ludicrously selected as “Woman of the Year”, by USA Today. My tweet simply said, “Levine is a man. It is an objective, verifiable fact.”

They suspended me for 12 hours and then offered me the option of deleting the tweet in return for release from Twitter jail. I have been giving it some thought for the last 4 days and today decided to appeal.

Back in Twitter Jail

I was suspended three or four months ago. I went ahead and deleted that tweet, but it just did not feel right submitting to the demands of thought bullies. This time I will appeal and at least let them know what I think of their sad attempts to suppress my thought crimes.

Here is the appeal:

I appeal the suspension of my account and dispute the characterization of my tweet as “hateful conduct”. My tweet said, “Levine is a man. It is an objective, verifiable fact.” The tweet refers to Richard Levine, also known as Rachel Levine, a US assistant secretary of health.  The tweet is a factual statement based on information that can easily be obtained on the internet and basic knowledge of biology and genetics. Levine characterizes himself as a woman and that is his prerogative, however, the facts indicate otherwise and there is no compelling reason that any reasonable person should have to agree with him.

Given that my tweet was factual, does it constitute “hateful conduct”? I suppose that it could be in the context of “Twitter Rules” if that phrase “hateful conduct” is twisted beyond all coherence for the purpose of making the rule. In the real world, telling someone the truth is a useful service.  Disseminating factual information—truth, is beneficial and it is why pluralistic societies have long encouraged the open exchange of ideas and information.

If there is any “hateful conduct” here, it is the suppression of facts and ideas by Twitter for what is likely political reasons. Sadly, such malignant conduct does not benefit our society or the users of your service who provide you with the content you need to make money. I regret that I have to make the same ignorant judgment about your conduct and policies as you do about mine, but as the great philosopher Waylon Jennings said, “What goes around comes around.”

More Harm Than Good?

I have been poking around in a lot of COVID data and “information” for the last week or so, trying to satisfy my confirmation bias that Oregon has botched its COVID response. In my interweb wanderings, I came across a video produced by the Canadian Covid Care Alliance in which they analyze Pfizer’s Original Trial Report, published December 31, 2020. According to a couple of sources, Dr. Robert Malone was booted from Twitter for posting this video. If so, it is easy to see why the infocensors would want to suppress it. It is the sort of thing that leaves you scratching your head wondering if maybe it is time to break out the torches and pitchforks.

maybe it is time to break out the torches and pitchforks.

The video uses Pfizer’s own reports to show how the effectiveness of the vaccine was over-hyped and the potential safety risks were ignored. If the information is correct, the vaccine should have not received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Watch the video. You will find it informative and disturbing. Here is the link to the CCCA website. The video is about halfway down the page. There is also a link to a PDF version of the information they present.

If you are interested my first post on Oregon’s COVID response, you can find it here — “Oregon Botched Its Covid Response–Part 1″ .

PS —My book “Trail to Peril” is available on Amazon.

Oregon Botched Its Covid Response, Part 1

It is said that hindsight is twenty-twenty and that it is easy to be an armchair quarterback. Both are true, but I am going to unabashedly engage in both for a bit. Back in January/February 2020, I, like a lot of people began following the news about the Wuhan/COVID-19 virus as the pandemic blossomed in Wuhan, China. I remember reading about the ham-fisted measures taken by the communist government, (mass lockdowns of large cities, quarantines, and masking requirements), and thinking it would never happen in America, the “Land of the Free”. Boy was I wrong. I badly overestimated the competence and intelligence of the Oregon state government. Here, in a few posts, are the ways they blew it.

First, their statistics suck.

A quote often attributed to Peter Drucker is “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. Measurement does not solve the problem. That takes intelligent and timely action by policymakers. Oregon lacked two things. The state lacked good metrics, and it lacked a Governor and state health officials capable of intelligent and timely action, or when warranted, no action.

“…their statistics suck.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an attempt by the state government to measure the spread of Covid. Oregon Health Sciences University began what they called “The Key to Oregon” study by monitoring 100,000 Oregonians by having them report their daily temperatures through a website. The goal was to “help local leaders better track, test and map the prevalence of COVID-19 across the state”. They were only able to recruit around 10,000 volunteers.

The “Key to Oregon” study, which was launched on May 1, 2020, was highly touted by the Governor and then it was dropped roughly three months later because of some sort of racial equity issue involving concerns from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Decolonizing Research and Data Council, (I did not make up that name).  OHSU’s press release is linked below. In other words, the state’s only serious effort to gather real-time information on the pandemic was stopped early because the Governor decided it was racist or something. I took part as a volunteer in the study, and all I got out of it was my time wasted and a free electronic thermometer.

Looking at the “Key to Oregon” press release more than a year later, one wonders if the racial disparity issue, which makes no sense, was real or if it was a pretense for halting the study for other reasons. Perhaps the results they were getting didn’t jib with the political narrative coming out of the Governor’s office and Oregon Health Authority. Maybe the “Key to Oregon” study was never meant to accomplish its stated purpose. Was it was a public relations ploy to give Oregonians the perception that state government was on top of the “crisis”?

I don’t know what the story really is if the official line is a lie, but whatever the case, Oregonians were left with a tyranny driven by metrics flowing out of the Oregon Health Authority, and a close look at those data brings to mind words like “fraud” and “incompetence”. But that is a subject for my next post.

“Key to Oregon Study press release” https://news.ohsu.edu/2020/08/27/key-to-oregon-study-transition-6812195  

Review– The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, is thoughtful, enlightening, and inspiring. Reading it was like sitting down with a trusted friend or mentor and listening as they dissect the barriers to what you want in life and then offer good advice to move forward. There are a couple of books out there that writers should read on a regular basis. Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” is an example. The War of Art should also be on the list, particularly when you suddenly realize your daily literary output has been sitting at zero for a couple of weeks. It is a short book and a quick read. Pressfield does not waste the reader’s time with the type of non-essentials that pad many “self-help” books. He gets to the point and does it in a clear style.

Reading it was like sitting down with a trusted friend…

If I have any criticism, it is that Pressfield is a really poor theologian. If you look past his views on the nature of man and God and treat them as useful fictions that he wields to get to a deeper truth, the book is incredibly helpful.

Playing Games in the Maricopa County Election Audit

Here is the game that Democrats may be playing with the audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

Let’s suppose that you run Maricopa County elections, and you know that election fraud occurred. You also know that if forensic auditors get unfettered access to election documentation, they will expose the scam. What is your best course of action in today’s political environment?

The purpose of any audit is to answer a question. An example is when a company’s financial statements are audited; the question is–are they presented in accordance with accounting standards? The question in the Maricopa audit is probably something like this. Was there was a correct tally of all legally cast votes in the election in Maricopa County in the 2020 election?
The auditor plans the audit and designs an audit program to answer the question. An audit program is a list of procedures that have to be performed to collect enough evidence to lead to a reasonable conclusion. The auditor performs the procedures, assesses the results, and then issues a report communicating their conclusions.

…fabricate a façade of uncertainty.

What happens if the auditor is not able to complete the audit program? What happens if significant evidence that must be examined to answer the question is not available? In that case, the auditor hits a wall with what’s called a scope limitation. He cannot issue an opinion because he does not have enough information to answer the question. He could probably submit a report with detailed descriptions of any discrepancies found, but he could not express a conclusion, yes or no, on the fundamental question.

Why is this significant?

The answer is that if you are Maricopa County elections and get away with withholding key audit evidence, you create a scope limitation. By doing this, you prevent the auditors from issuing a definitive conclusion on whether the tally was correct, and you fabricate a façade of uncertainty that gives you political cover. Political allies, such as Democrat politicians, the left-leaning media, and social media platforms then use the uncertainty to attack any notion that there is a problem.

The net result is that claims of election fraud are marginalized as conspiracy theories, Maricopa County election officials stay out of jail, Democrat politicians remain in power, journalists get access to those in power, and social media platforms avoid costly Congressional and regulatory scrutiny.

The losers in all this are the American people who may have had their votes nullified by criminals.

How to Plan Your Novel–Scene Design Part 2

My last post, “How to Plan Your Novel — Scene Design”, provided a list of things you might want to think about before you start writing. It also focused on one of those things in particular– the importance of establishing goals for the characters in the scene.

Once you have decided on a goal, it is time to give some thought to how to crush any hopes and dreams the character may have of achieving or benefiting from accomplishing the goal. This is called “the disaster”. The basic formula is GOALS –> CONFLICT –> DISASTER. The drama that gets your readers to turn the page is rooted in conflict and disaster. The oft-quoted metaphor that you should get the protagonist up a tree and then throw rocks at him applies here. Maybe a better way to think of it is to throw your character in a hole and try to bury him before he can dig his way out.

There are four basic answers to the question–will the character achieve his goal in this scene? They are “yes”, “yes–but”, “no”, and “no–and”. The first answer–“yes” should rarely, if ever, be used before the ending of the book. A few months ago, I read an action thriller with a pretty good premise and plot and some decent characters. It could have been a good novel, but the story’s glaring problem was that the protagonist was successful at everything he did. The answer to every goal he had in the book was yes, and that lack of drama made for a mediocre story.

There are three appropriate answers to the question in the middle of a novel. The first is in the “be careful what you ask for” department. The answer is “yes–but”. In this scenario, the character achieves the goal she is pursuing in the scene, but there are unpleasant consequences to that success. Maybe the gal gets the guy, but she also gets a dose of the clap.

…throw your character in a hole and try to bury him before he can dig his way out.

An example of this is in the book “Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris. The protagonist, Clarise Starling, an FBI academy trainee, fulfills her goal to get a role in the Buffalo Bill investigation. That success nearly costs her a chance to graduate from the academy and subjects her to an internal affairs complaint that threatens to ruin her career before it even gets started.

“No” is the second answer that creates a disaster. In this case, the character is seeking something and gets the metaphorical door slammed in her face. In “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo, Michael Corleone meets with mobster Moe Greene to tell him the family wants to buy out his casino share. Greene’s response is, “I’ll buy you out. You don’t buy me out.” His answer is a firm no that throws an obstacle in the way of Michael’s goal to move the family to Vegas. It also provides the impetus for a dramatic scene with lots of great conflict and sharp dialog between characters.

The scene with Moe Greene in The Godfather is notable in that not only does Moe say no, but Michael says no to the no of Moe. (Sorry for the bad poetry.) Michael’s no is an example of the third type of disaster–“no–and”. This disaster is perhaps the most effective. Not only is the goal of the character blocked by a firm no, but there are far-reaching consequences from the character’s desire and attempts to accomplish the goal. In Moe Greene’s case (spoiler alert), the no he receives from Michael costs him both his share of the casino and his life.

So as you plan your scenes, know what the characters in the scene want and use one of the three disasters to dash their hopes. Hit them with the shovel as they try to dig their way out of the hole.

Check out my book, Trail to Peril.

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.