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Something Wonderful: The Wedding Within the War

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy — Max Ehrmann


A remarkable speech given in fluent Mandarin that most will not have the patience to hear, but those who are under the bootheels of Communist China will hear all too clearly. As a note to this video I have appended the transcript. Pottinger himself is a remarkable man whose career path is stunning.

Pottinger’s career switch was motivated by his experience in China and the Iraq War. By 2004, Pottinger had “sort of a sense of unease that China was not really going to converge with the more liberal order.” He believed that when it was powerful enough, China would “influence the world on its own terms, on the terms of the ruling party.” As he watched all the first phase of Iraq War unfold from a distant location in China, he was a bit troubled that “as a nation, the administration, the Congress and to a great extent the press as well had misjudged the nature of conflict.” China’s rise and the Iraq War had made him realize that democracy is “not inevitable and it shouldn’t be taken for granted but it is a form of government very much worth fighting for.”

In September 2005, Pottinger joined the Marine Corps and served as a military intelligence officer.  He was over-aged and out of shape when he joined. To meet the physical qualifications, he worked out with a Marine officer who was living in Beijing.  He served three deployments: one in Iraq from April to November 2007, and two in Afghanistan from November 2008 to May 2009 and July 2009 to May 2010.  On his second tour in Afghanistan, he met U.S. Army General Michael T. Flynn, with whom he co-wrote a report.  The report, published in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security, was titled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.  After he left active service, Pottinger worked in New York City, including for the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management. Matthew Pottinger – Wikipedia

The following is the English-language version of “The Importance of Being Candid,” a speech delivered by Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger in Mandarin Chinese from the White House during a video conference hosted by Policy Exchange in London. [continue reading…]


Coming Attractions: The Hot Gates

To reiterate: To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for that which would be his finest hour.  – Winston S. Churchill


Strange Daze

Social networks give you the right to speak to legions of idiots who previously spoke only in the bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. They were then quickly silenced, but now have the same right to speak as to a Nobel Prize. It is an invasion of imbeciles. — Umberto Eco

Granted, this is a little-known fact, but plagues can’t be stopped. This was known before the latest one landed, but has apparently been forgotten. One just has to endure them. Modern medicine may reduce the death toll here, while increasing it there, but hey. Almost all who are infected were following social distancing protocols, and have always been doing so, for the last four millennia, at least. But plagues were designed to sprint around and through them. Frugal to the end : Essays in Idleness

Our Gang | The Z Blog  We live in an age in which fools and knaves dress up as serious people and perform serious roles. The typical politician is a dangerously stupid simpleton, but he can play his role well, so he gets the part. He is no different from the kids dressed up in adult clothes. The difference is you could laugh at the kids, but the modern version is nothing but horror.

Just look at the absurdity of the Covid panic. All over we see adult children cast in the role of political leader, playing a real-life action fantasy game where they are heroically fighting the Covid monster. Mario’s Cuomo’s oldest, currently staring as Governor, commissioned a book about himself fighting the Covid. It’s a wonder he did not have it titled My Struggle. Like so many other reckless idiots holding high office in this country, he lives in a fantasy land where he is always the hero.

EXC: Is “Peter Henderson” Joe Biden’s E-mail Pseudonym?  While Biden – or “the big guy” – has his real name attached to his private account for some time, it changed around early 2016, going from “Joseph Biden” to “Peter Henderson” in Hunter’s e-mails. It is unclear whether this change was on Hunter’s end (on his devices) or on Joe’s, but Peter Henderson’s e-mails included messages such as “Keep in touch, Love Dad” and shared links – often about Hillary Clinton. In Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, “Peter Henderson” is the name of a KGB mole that infiltrated the United States government.

Biden does most poorly when he talks for anything more than a few seconds. He seems tired, old, and foggy, and the weird smile/grimace that’s often on his face doesn’t help. How anyone can even think of voting for a corrupt, mendacious, cognitively challenged, low energy old man who was mediocre even in his prime is something I can only explain by saying that Biden voters are motivated by two things: hatred of Trump, and loyalty to the Democrats/left.

[continue reading…]


The Green Flash

Whose Will decreed this landlocked sea
Framed falling sun with glint of green?
What plan determines stone’s design,
Or star’s hot heart, or shadow’s sheen,

Or that we mark, as clever beasts,
The passing haze of Comet’s fall,
And are that glaze of dream on flesh
That sees the need of Plan at all?

I know, I know… No Plan at all
Is said by some to be The Plan.
But what then are these shimmered thoughts
That seem to measure more than man?

Look not down deep but far afield,
Beyond the limits of our sight.
It cannot be that all that is
Is only night on deeper Night.

But should such Night be all that is,
And all as purposeless as stone,
The Heart still sings the body’s chants,
And moves His Light within our bones.

Perhaps this pattern that we live
In woven time between two Lights
Is but some Dance cast to amuse
The Face beyond our blinded sight.

Yet what Dark mind could feel a gleam
Of pleasure from such turns,
Instead of parsing shrouds of Night
From our countenance of burns?

The Countenance of Comets
That the sky at night assumes
Mutes all mathematics learned
On this Continent of Tombs.

For to stand within a meadow
And sense the swell of wind
Is ample compensation
For the Gift that days rescind.

At length our modern marvels
Are but blots of haze on slate
That we note with faint attention
As we step between the Gates,

And dance, to some faint Music,
Along the path of life’s Retreat,
That ancient, ageless Minuet
That rounds our sleep with Sleep.


The More You Joe the More You Know Joe

[HT: Neo]


Stories of the Gone World


Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. — High Flight

NASA Landed a Spacecraft on an Asteroid 200 Million Miles Away and Got It on Video

These images were captured over approximately a five-minute period. The imaging sequence begins at about 82 feet (25 meters) above the surface, and runs through the back-away maneuver, with the last image in the sequence taken at approximately 43 feet (13 meters) in altitude   about 35 seconds after backing away. The sequence was created using 82 SamCam images, with 1.25 seconds between frames. For context, the images are oriented with Bennu’s west at the top.

This follows up on last week’s item The Days of Miracles and Wonders: Bennu Flavor? One Scoop or Two?

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Weekend at Bidens: A Documentary?

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Long Read of the Day: Lileks, James on the Monitors

The Door Guard that will never go away fromLILEKS (James) :: The Bleat 2020 WEDNESDAY

When I entered the office the other day I saw this . . . this thing.

The screen shows an abstraction of a camera lens, looking, searching for something to see and grab. When it wakes, it turns on a bright light and displays a human shape, so you can fit yourself into its contours for evaluation.

It takes your temp. Okay. Question: let’s say you wake, in November of 2020, the Plague Year, and you’re a bit achy and hot. You have two options: work from home, as you’ve been doing since March, or drag yourself to the office. Who’s going to do the latter? I mean, I think I could beg off a Zoom call because I felt a little feverish.

But let’s say you’re a hard-charging sort who just has to go to the office and be a world-beater, bark orders, shove around subordinates. Push! Push! Push! And you’re a bit hot. Do you stop at this thing to get evaluated? No, because you’re important and have things to do. You’re fine and you’re wearing a mask and everyone else is wearing a mask, and besides, there’s not more than six people in this part of the office, because everyone’s working from home.

Will that happen? That will not happen.

It’s there just in case. A reminder. A tool. An assistant. What’s the problem? No problem. Except that it’s off-putting in a way I can’t describe. It’s like a judgment device. A purity monitor. It suggests that it somehow has authority. It presumes I need interrogating. I don’t think it’s connected to the office security database that logs my card-beep on the entrance pad, but why wouldn’t it, some day? Wouldn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t that help with tracking and DEFEATING COVID?

Why wouldn’t you put your face in that thing every time you entered the area?

What’s wrong with you that you’d react with anything but relief and gratitude?

It’s this: I don’t think that thing is ever going to go away. I can’t see a point where building management says “oh, we don’t need those anymore.” Someone pipes up: it’s flu season. You’re right, best keep them there.

At some point in a pandemic, the suspicion of infection morphs into the presumption of infection. That’s smart if it’s bad and widespread and raging. Hospitals overwhelmed, the sick hacking on every street, clinic corridors jammed with the rheumy victims, cordwood stacked like bodies in the morgue, or something. But this is not that. What’s more, this was never that. It was apparent months ago that this is not that. It’s not mild flu, but it’s not that.

The presumption of infection in a situation where A) it’s not the case, and B) the consequences for infection are statistically nominal, well, this is injurious to society, and every incremental introduction of something that bolsters the accumulated paranoia makes it more difficult to surpass the sense of constant suspicion.

These devices become talismans of safety. You start to distrust places that don’t have them. You resent the suggestion that you submit to them, but you go along – it’s anti-social to do otherwise. It just becomes part of life: standing in front of the device and fitting your shoulders to the contours of the anonymous human shape on the screen.

So the casual rote submission is a loyalty oath, of sorts. It’s not some part of a grand scheme. Doesn’t work like that. Doesn’t have to. It’s a series of assumptions and well-intentioned ideas and precautions that nevertheless have the effect of shaping how you feel about the world outside your door.

We’ll get used to it. And then we’ll get used to the next thing.

Note: today I noticed that the secondary entrance to the office has been closed, channeling everyone to the Purity Monitor. This means that a six-elevator bank has been closed, pushing everyone to a four-elevator bank which will pack more people into a confined space.

So no one can use this door? What the hell?

That was today. Tomorrow, I’ll be used to it.

RTWT AT LILEKS (James) :: The Bleat 2020 WEDNESDAY