Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 18, 2016

CLFA Book Bomb! July 18 & 19

Looking for beach/vacation/downtime reads? The first CLFA Book Bomb features 19 books from fellow Conservative and Libertarian Fiction Alliance authors, 18 fiction and one nonfiction. Genres run the gamut: YA, historical fiction, thriller, offbeat detective fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopia, urban fantasy, romance with a twist (that’s me!), satire… You’re sure to find one or more books that are up your alley!

[blockquote from the original]

CLFA is happy to announce that we will now be featuring book bombs, where we focus attention on lesser-known fiction authors who deserve to be better known. For the next two days (Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19), please consider purchasing one or more of the books on this list. (Come on … You know you need a couple good reads for your vacation!) If your friend asks for a good book recommendation, send them a link to this page. If you think pop culture should better represent the voices of conservatives and libertarians, please help spread the word.

Let’s give these authors a boost! Click on the book picture to read more and buy:

  The Notice (Storms of Transformation series book 2)* by Daniella Bova
A young Catholic couple’s family is ripped apart as their unborn child becomes a target in transformed America.

  Honor at Stake (Love at First Bite book 1)* by Declan Finn
One’s a bloodthirsty monster, the other is a vampire.
Welcome to New York City, where Vampires Burn.

  Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine
Geeks and outcasts fight an oppressive regime in near-future America.

  Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright
On an island time has forgotten, a man remembers a lost love, a lost soul, and an eternal evil.

  The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright
Fringe meets Narnia at Hogwarts.

  Her Brother’s Keeper* by Mike Kupari
Military Scifi

 By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World by Roy M. Griffis
The first book in the “By the Hands of Men” historical fiction series, an epic globe-spanning saga of love, honor, and redemption.

  The Gods Defense (Laws of Magic book 1) by Amie Gibbons
In a world where the gods and magic have returned, enforcing justice just got a lot more hazardous!

  Portals of Infinity: Kaiju by John Van Stry
Fantasy–Myths & Legends

  Beyond the Mist (The Chara Series book 1) by Ben Zwycky
A man with nothing – no memories, resources, or even solid ground to stand on – rediscovers life, civilization, and himself (with a foreword by John C. Wright).

  Echo of the High Kings (The Eoriel Saga book 1) by Kal Spriggs
In a world of vengeful spirits and dark gods, a handful stand against the darkness.

  On Different Strings: A Musical Romance by Nitay Arbel
Penniless Texan guitar goddess teaches British engineering professor. Hearts beat in harmony. The world has other ideas.

  Fight for Liberty: Book Three in the Liberty Trilogy by Theresa Linden
YA Dystopia

  Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again by Paul Clayton
Literary YA mashup

  Amy Lynn: The Lady of Castle Dunn (Amy Lynn book 3)* by Jack July
Americana action thriller

  The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama by Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan
Non fiction: politics

  The Devil’s Dictum* by Frederick Heimbach
Alternate history satire

  The Good Fight by Justin Robinson
Toronto is a crowded place. Plenty of eyes and ears all around. Plenty of chances to be overheard. Be careful what you say…

  The Violet Crow: A Bruno X. Psychic Detective Mystery* by Michael Sheldon
Psychic detective Bruno X fights crime in the Philly suburbs using kabbalah and recycled borsht belt routines.

*Finalist in the CLFA Book of the Year 2015 contest.

NOTE: ConservativeLibertarianFictionAlliance.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
CLFA statement: Amazon has long been a pioneer in the independent publishing industry and, in our opinion, is primarily responsible for the egalitarian revolution in fiction publishing. Thanks to CreateSpace, KDP, and other initiatives, Amazon has unbiasedly brought countless stories with conservative and/or libertarian worldview to the reading public. CLFA links primarily to Amazon when recommending purchases. And if you click one of our links and buy, CLFA receives a small advertising fee, which we will invest in growing this website and organization. Thank you.

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

CLFA_BookBomb_graphic

CLFA is happy to announce that we will now be featuring book bombs, where we focus attention on lesser-known fiction authors who deserve to be better known. For the next two days (Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19), please consider purchasing one or more of the books on this list. (Come on … You know you need a couple good reads for your vacation!) If your friend asks for a good book recommendation, send them a link to this page. If you think pop culture should better represent the voices of conservatives and libertarians, please help spread the word.

Let’s give these authors a boost! Click on the book picture to read more and buy:

  The Notice (Storms of Transformation series book 2)* by Daniella Bova
A young Catholic couple’s family is ripped apart as their unborn child becomes a target in transformed America.

  Honor at Stake (Love…

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I thought for a while that the long-awaited “Worst President In History” was going to be released in 2030 or so as an 18-volume box set, but here it is. The Kindle edition is briefly on preorder for just $0.99! Pay this steal price now and get the eBook automatically delivered on July 2!

The Worst President in History

A couple of days ago the eBook of The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama was made available for pre-orders on Amazon.com for a special low price of 99 cents.

It has been an exciting couple of days, and we’ve seen lots pre-orders being made, and, as a result, some impressive rankings on Amazon. We broke into the top 5,000 ebooks overall, and had some impressive rankings in various book categories as well, particularly in the Biographies of US Presidents category:

preorder

Not only did we make it into the top four for that category, our book was the number one “Hot New Release” for the category!

hotnewrelease

Both the eBook and the paperback will be available for sale in July. So, if you’re waiting for the paperback, sign up here to be alerted when you can get a copy. If you’re a Kindle owner, we…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | June 24, 2016

Nine Key Takeaways from Brexit

“Keep calm and head for the exits”.

International Liberty

What an amazing vote. The people of the United Kingdom defied the supposed experts, rejected a fear-based campaign by advocates of the status quo, and declared their independence from the European Union.

Here are some takeaway thoughts on this startling development.

1. The UK has voted to leave a sinking ship. Because of unfavorable demographics and a dirigiste economic model, the European Union has a very grim future.

2. Brexit is a vote against centralization, bureaucratization, and harmonization. It also is a victory for more growth, though the amount of additional long-run growth will depend on whether the UK government seizes the opportunity for lower taxes, less red tape, and a smaller burden of government.

3. President Obama once again fired blanks. Whether it was his failed attempt early in his presidency to get the Olympic Games in Chicago or his feckless attempt in his final year to…

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Good morning y’all: my debut novel, On Different Strings, is still on $0.99 promotion on Kindle through the Fathers Day weekend, then I’ll take it back to $2.99. And yes, it has crossover appeal with nods to several non-romance genres, and was written with both male and female readers in mind. Highlights from two reviews:

[…]I’m not usually a big fan of the Romance genre. This book is just different… I knew I would give this story a very high rating, because I realized how badly I wanted the[ protagonists] to succeed, though it seemed impossible.[…]

[…]An interesting twist on the classic May-November romance and both lead characters are wonderful. The main [antagonist] comes across as both believable and sympathetic… This book is a great example of how you can write a scorching romantic story without explicit sex.[…]

Try it, you might like it :)

Basic RGB

http://www.amazon.com//dp/B01GRYYIYQ

Posted by: New Class Traitor | June 18, 2016

Yet another Jetset Climate Conference – in San Diego

I will know it’s serious when they start holding global warming conferences by video rather than by jet travel…

Watts Up With That?

Green Pass Nobody seems to mind, if a “Green” clocks up a lot of air miles.

Guest Essay by Eric Worrall

These things are proliferating, going viral somehow – the American Association for the Advancement of Science just hosted an international climate conference in San Diego.

Geophysicist Peter Ward, who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey for nearly three decades, discussed warming global temperatures during his Wednesday session.

“There’s a very interesting correlation between warming and volcanism at the end of the last ice age,” Ward said.

He said the past two years of record warmth can be attributed to more than greenhouse gases. Ward blames ozone depletion caused by the Bardarbunga volcano eruption in Iceland in September 2014.

“It was the biggest flow of basalt that’s been observed since 1783,” Ward said. “Now that’s good news, because if it’s Baroarbunga that’s causing the warming, next year we can expect it to…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | June 10, 2016

On Different Strings now on sale for $0.99 on Amazon

Introductory release promotion at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GRYYIYQ

Posted by: New Class Traitor | June 9, 2016

Debut novel, “On Different Strings”

My debut novel, “On Different Strings”, was just released on Amazon. The eBook is available for $2.99 (Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free), while a paperback version will be released soon.

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Amazon summary:

Guitar virtuoso Amy Ziegler ekes out a precarious living as a teaching assistant in the Mays College music department. One day a mysterious older student shows up: Ian Keenan, an engineering professor and closet songwriter. Opposites attract, and music is the language of the spirit.

Each is passionate about music, and each has been deeply wounded in love. Thus a weird yet wonderful friendship grows between the reserved English academic and the outgoing small-town Texan girl who grew up in poverty. Each secretly starts yearning for more, but the world has other ideas. Soon they become caught in a maelstrom between rivals, exes, their own pasts, activists, and campus bureaucrats. Will the rapids tear them apart, or will love and sanity prevail?

Multi-genre author extraordinary Sarah A. Hoyt and her “huns and hoydens” have a lot to answer for, as it was they who first gave me the courage to try my hand at fiction. The good people at the CLFA were also very generous with practical tips and valuable insights.

I greatly enjoyed learning the mechanics of storytelling “on the job” through writing this topsy-turvy student-teacher romance, then polishing it with the kind assistance of two excellent editors and a beta reader. If you love music and/or are familiar with academia, you may enjoy reading it. Note that no Kindle device is required: Kindle book reader apps exist for all major mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile), as well as for both Windows and Macintosh. The browser-based Kindle Cloud Reader is available as a last resort.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | May 21, 2016

Sabbath musical delight: Morgaua Quartet playing prog-rock classics

Via the BabyBlaueSeiten (a German-language progressive rock reviews site), I stumbled upon an unexpectedly pleasant surprise.

The Morgaua [String] Quartet (homepage in Japanese) is the chamber music side project of four top-tier Japanese orchestral musicians:

  • Eiji Arai (1st violin) is the concertmaster of the Tokyo Philharmonic
  • Tetsuo Tozawa (2nd violin) is the concertmaster of the (competing) Tokyo City Philharmonic
  • Hisashi Ono (viola) is the principal violist of the NHK Symphony Orchestra
  • Ryochi Fujimori (cello) is the principal cellist of the same orchestra

They started out recording Shostakovich’s string quartets for Denon (=Japanese Columbia) Records, and have recorded other classical music. Recently, they have recorded two albums of their own arrangements for string quartet of several progressive rock classics. Here is a YouTube video of one of their live concerts.

The setlist:

  1. “Dancing with the moonlit knight” by Genesis
  2. “Money” by Pink Floyd
  3. “And you and I” by Yes
  4. “In the court of the crimson king” by King Crimson
  5. “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression” by ELP (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)
  6. “21st Century schizoid man” by King Crimson

And here comes, as an encore, my favorite King Crimson tune, the edgy “Red””

Enjoy!

/Kudos to Mrs. NCT for language assistance

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | May 19, 2016

The Suicide of Venezuela

Behold the hideous face of “end-stage socialism”.

Joel D. Hirst's Blog

I never expected to witness the slow suicide of a country, a civilization. I suppose nobody does.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing epic about it. We who have the privilege of travel often look down in satisfaction at the ruins of ancient Greece; the Parthenon lit up in blues and greens. The acropolis. The Colosseum in Rome. We walk through the dusty streets of Timbuktu and gaze in wonder at the old mud mosques as we reflect on when these places had energy and purpose. They are not sad musings, for those of us who are tourists. Time has polished over the disaster. Now all that is left are great old buildings that tell a story of when things were remarkable – not of how they quietly fell away. “There was no reason, not really,” we tell each other as we disembark our air-conditioned buses. “These things just happen…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | May 13, 2016

There’s editing, and then there’s editing

[Updated]
With my first novel, “On Different Strings”, in the final stages, I got to deal with a few editors. It appears to be imperative that all parties understand exactly what is expected and agreed upon.

While they go by different names, by and large there appear to be four basic types of editing (maybe five, if “fact-checking” is considered separately). For short stories and other short-form works, an editor may perform all of these at once: for long-form works, especially novels, separation becomes a necessity.

Developmental editing [as described, e.g., here] focuses not so much on your text as on the substance: the story line, the world building, the characters… Is the world building credible? Are the characters believable and do they have enough depth? Are the plot and subplots compelling? How about the general structure of the novel — does it “grab” the reader, or do things only start happening after it is too late and the reader has already tuned out? And so forth…

In terms of “readers”, an “alpha reader” might focus on many of the same aspects as a developmental editor.

Stylistic editing [as advertised, e.g., here] focuses on the style, as the name says. Does each main character have a distinctive voice (and one that credibly matches their background) — or does it all sound as one glop? In a third-person novel, does the narrator have his/her own voice? Is the vocabulary too simplistic, too recondite, or about right for the target audience? Are sentences too long and complex to read smoothly — or, at the other extreme, are sentences so short and choppy that the book acquires a “See Spot Run!” quality?

The stylistic editor tries to address all of these issues. At the same time, (s)he needs to balance this against leaving authors their own voice. Not surprisingly, this is the most difficult and time-consuming type of editing, best left to experienced professionals  — and therefore also the most expensive type.

Sometimes a stylistic editor may rewrite a statement for clarity or style — and change its meaning in the process. In many cases this happens because the original was too vague or ambiguous. If the editor insists on turning statements into their opposites simply because the plain meaning is unpalatable to him/her, there is only one answer — find another editor.

Copy editing [e.g., here] focuses more on the mechanics: ensuring correct spelling, grammar, usage, punctuation. It may also extend to flagging words or constructions repeated in close proximity, and proposing synonyms or alternatives.

Copy editing also deals with the many aspects of usage, capitalization, punctuation,… where there is more than one authoritative answer. Oxford commas, yes or no? Punctuation tucked (common in the US) or untucked (more common outside the US)? Capitalization after a colon? “5 AM” or “five o’clock”? All these issues can be argued either way, as long as the answer is applied consistently throughout the manuscript. Typically, editors work to a specific style guide: mine worked to the Chicago Manual of Style, a.k.a., CMS. Organizations may have their own style book that an editor working for them is expected to follow.

The often-heard term “line editing” appears to correspond to a combination of copy editing and (light to medium) stylistic editing.

Finally, “proofing” or proofreading is limited to catching typos, punctuation errors, formatting errors, repeated or missing words, and perhaps the most blatant malapropisms (misused words). This is the cheapest form of editing. It is best not left only to the author, as one’s brain ‘knows’ what it intended to write and corrects the typos read ‘on the fly’. Another pair of eyes will catch issues you didn’t — it had better be a proofreader than a book buyer with a spelling bee in his bonnet😉

Fact-checking may enter the equation during both developmental and stylistic editing (or line editing) — or it may be performed by a different person altogether. My editor did do a fair amount of fact-checking on matters he was familiar with, but obviously nobody can be expected to be a maven on everything — so one turns to enthusiasts for guns, planes, medieval armor,… or whatever the specific matter at hand might be. Online forums are a great resource for this sort of thing. (This extends to regional social customs, as I learned first-hand :))

What about multiple rounds of editing? Sarah Hoyt appears to belong to  the “one and done” school of thought: for a professional writer, it indeed makes more financial sense to release a “good enough” novel and start writing the next, than to polish endlessly and generate zero income while doing so. In contrast, first-time novel writers — especially those blessed with well-paying day jobs — have an incentive to both put their best foot forward in their debut novel and ‘learn on the job’ as much as possible.

That being said, it appears that a second or third round of proofreading can never hurt. A second round of stylistic editing, however, runs the risk of the second editor undoing much of the work of the first and otherwise clashing with it — thus generating “a horse designed by a committee” in the process. (Unless, of course,the rare scenario pertains that the two editors are used to tag-teaming.) Copy-editing, in the narrow sense of the word. probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps the best way to distinguish between different editing levels is in terms of resolution.

  • Proofreading typically corrects at the character level — misspellings, misplaced or missing punctuation marks, runaway formatting tags.
  • Copy editing typically corrects at the word level — malapropisms (misused words), solecisms (grammatical abuses), inconsistent verb tenses, run-on sentences, missing verbs,… The main ‘nonlocal’ goal it may try to achieve is grammatical consistency for those issues where there is more than one ‘correct’ answer: typically this is achieved by working to a specific style manual.
  • Structural editing typically works at the sentence to paragraph level, trying to achieve a consistent tone, and creating (or honing) distinctive voices for characters and for the third-person narrator, if any.
  • Finally, developmental editing works at the ‘global’ or structural level, and does not typically descend to details of the actual writing. Its goals are a compelling and believable plot, realistic characters,… in other words, for genre fiction: a good yarn.

Summing up: It is essential, when somebody is contracted for a type of editing, that both sides agree beforehand what type of editing is to be performed, and what the “boundaries” are. For example, as I learned the hard way: if you engage somebody with a sharp eye but no prior editing experience for an additional proofreading run of your work — and then (s)he starts performing unsolicited stylistic editing on top of an earlier stylistic edit… there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth on both sides.

Disclaimer: I have no business relationship with indiebooklauncher other than as a satisfied client.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | May 3, 2016

Tudors Tales and Turpitude – James Schardt

Guestblogging at Sarah’s lair, James Schardt writes on how message fiction is not new, and how it flew like a lead zeppelin (and didn’t rock) when even The Bard himself attempted it (in the forgotten “Henry VIII”).

According To Hoyt

Tudors Tales and Turpitude – James Schardt

Greetings everyone. Normally, Sarah would either be posting here, herself, or would have someone who, at least, has a blog of their own post here. However, in the interests of keeping her writing the stories we all want to read instead of the unprofitable columns or gif posts she sometimes feels obligated to write, I am stepping in. Sarah, go write. We gots this. *cracks neck*

Brad Torgersen reposted a link to his “Nutty Nuggets” column Sunday. To summarize it, Brad felt that sales of Science Fiction books had gone down because the stories published had drifted away from the themes that had attracted people to Science Fiction in the first place. I am going to expand on this and point out that the same themes that attracted people to Science Fiction are the same themes that attract people to stories in general…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | April 22, 2016

Passover: Today we celebrate the birth of freedom

Happy Passover
חג פסח שמח

Posted by: New Class Traitor | April 21, 2016

Still alive; writing projects

This blog has been fairly silent due to a combination of real life and three long-form writing projects.

The first project, a quirky music-themed romance novel called “On Different Strings”, is currently being copy-edited, and should hit the Kindle Store sometime next month. I will post one or more teaser chapters later, or create a separate author blog for that purpose.

For the second project, an espionage thriller, I have laid down the “draft zero” (a.k.a. the ‘piano and vocal demo’). Individual chapters are being passed around to FB friends for critiquing.

The third project, currently half written, is a murder mystery involving the protagonists from On Different Strings as sleuths.

The kind of entertainment fiction I like best almost invariably entails some degree of genre crossover: my ambition is to ‘write the books I’d like to read’ in this regard. One recommendation to beginning fiction writers is “write what you know”, so one doesn’t either get mired down in research, or write howlers. Indeed, for my initial forays into fiction writing, I am sticking to settings and subject matter I am intimately familiar with.

This has been a great learning experience. I would not be able to pull this off without a little (more like: a lot) of help from my friends in cyberspace. The greatest challenge has been learning the rules of a game that is radically different from the type of technical nonfiction writing I do for work. There, one wants things to be as clear, unambiguous, and comprehensive as you can, yet also as concise as possible — everything else can be sacrificed to that. A storyteller’s goal is to entertain one’s readers: that often means deliberately leaving things open and ambiguous to the end (or leaving them to the reader’s imagination entirely) — and sacrificing everything for the sake of the story if need be. It also means leaving some things to the reader’s imagination — the very last thing I’d want to do in my day job.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | April 8, 2016

Hidden musical gem: Exodus, “A good day to die”

Exodus were/are a band in the Bay Area thrash metal scene. Two former lead guitarists of the band moved on to greater things: Kirk Hammett of course joined Metallica, while Gary Holt recently replaced the late Jeff Hannemann (RIP) in Slayer.
I’m not a huge Exodus fan, but via Facebook, I found this hidden gem. It’s more melodic than their usual fare, and has a country tinge to it too. But aside from the splendid lead break, the lyrics will hit home to anybody who has ever seen depression and one of its classic symptoms, suicidal ideation, up close.

Without further ado:

Would that this Daily Mail article were an April Fools joke. (The story was earlier reported by the Belgian press in French and in Dutch. I tweeted the coverage in Le Soir.)

Police at Brussels airport have claimed at least 50 Islamic State supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff.

In an astonishing open letter, the officers said they have warned about the terrorist sympathisers whose security badges give them access to planes, but they remain employed.

The airport police, who are threatening to go on strike because of security deficiencies, also said they have raised the issue of terrorists scouting the airport to plan possible attacks.

Police at Brussels airport have claimed at least 50 Islamic State supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff. […]

The extraordinary claims come after the Mail reported how the family of two of the bombers involved in the attacks last week said they had worked as cleaners at the airport.[…]

The officers said they had raised suspicions about certain staff members including those who apparently celebrated after the Paris attacks in November that killed 130 people.

‘When we checked these people, we were surprised more than once. It was men with a radical ideology and a long police history,’ the officers continued.

‘Even today, there are at least 50 supporters of the Islamic state who work at the airport. They have a security badge and have access to the cockpit of a plane.

And get this:

An uncle of Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui last week told how the brothers had been employed at the airport and would have gained intimate knowledge of the terminal destroyed in the carnage.

The man, who asked not to be named, told the Mail: ‘They worked cleaning at the airport and in a restaurant. They didn’t finish high school in the end. They cleaned the airport in the summer months.’

Read the whole thing and weep: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3517493/At-FIFTY-ISIS-supporters-working-baggage-handlers-cleaners-catering-staff-Brussels-airport-claim-police.html#ixzz44apMn9HM

It is high time to bring back the “pole of shame” (schandpaal), the Belgian equivalent of the pillory. On second thought, perhaps the Schwedentrunk would be more fitting…

Posted by: New Class Traitor | March 28, 2016

Brussels, multiculturalism, and political AIDS

But I repeat myself.
“Belgium suffers from political AIDS in the literal sense of the word”  (La Belgique souffre du SIDA politique au sens étymologique du mot.) [Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome, Ed.]
Thus then Minister of Justice Jean Gol, longtime leader of the Reformist Liberal Party (PRL) and himself an ex-leftist, described Belgium’s political situation over two decades ago, in the wake of a wave of murderous supermarket shootings and a reverse-infiltration scandal that rocked the State Security (Belgium’s nebbishy domestic intelligence agency).
He was excoriated for his remarks at the time. Jean Gol turns out to have been a prophet.
The horrifying attacks in Brussels struck very close to home: I fly through Brussels a lot for work, and at one point we had an apartment there not far from the metro station where one bomb went off. A work colleague of mine was supposed to have been at the airport on the day of the attack but her daughter’s flight was rescheduled at the last moment.
From a large collection of anecdotal evidence (from friends, family, and first-hand) we learned that the Belgian law enforcement apparatus might be able to find its own derriere with a voice-assisted GPS on a good day. The story of the bomber about which the Turks (!) issued a warning, yet walked around freely in Belgium, speaks volumes. Here are two articles well worth reading, one by a Belgian businessman now living in the US, another by an expat American in Brussels. Both jibe very closely with my own observations from my younger (ahem) years in Europe.
I have guestblogged at Sarah Hoyt’s place about the psychological phenomenon of “displacement”.  In brief, this is the psychological defense mechanism of a human who is facing a problem or enemy (s)he is unable or unwilling to confront, to go seek out some 7th-order issue or “small fry” enemy, which they can than easily “take care of”, so they can “prove” they are still relevant. We see this also in the EU: faced with the twin powder kegs of Islamofascism and the potential backlash of their own populations against the elites who have nurtured that viper on Europa’s bosom (see my earlier blog post Scenes from Europe before the storm), the Euro elites continue to bury their heads in the sand and instead obsess over such issues of crucial world-historical importance as the labeling of SodaStream dispensers: whether they are produced in Israel or in the “occupied”/disputed territories. (Needless to say, a number of snarky comments could be heard on the Israeli street the day after the attacks ;))
Belgium’s way of “coping” with Islamofascist extremism appears to have been primarily to… let them do their thing as long as they did not run too wild inside Belgian borders. St-Jean-Molenbeek, the borough of Brussels where the “he-goat milkers” (Kurdish insult for DAESHbags/ISISholes) hang out,  has effectively been abandoned by the ‘natives’ and has become a no-go zone for the locals. Other areas in the boroughs of St-Josse and Schaerbeek are at the very least in the same direction, and the last time I walked near the Brussels South station, I wished I were ‘packing heat’.
Speaking of which: some idiotic MSNBC (but I repeat myself) article claimed that the arsenals held by the terrorists “prove the need for gun control”. In fact, Belgium, despite being a major manufacturer and exporter of small arms (FN-Browning in Herstal, near Liege) has among the most stringent gun control laws in the world. Depending on the source, legal gun possession ranges between 4 and 6%, and the number of carry permits is minuscule. (When I used to live there, as an arms dealer explained to me, carrying a handgun required four separate licenses: purchase, possession, transport, and carry — the latter was only issued very rarely.) On the other hand, whoever has underworld connections and/or a lot of money and no questions can procure just about any lethal hardware illegally in Brussels if one knows where to go. This is nothing new, BTW: Brussels has had a flourishing black market in firearms (as well as forged identity documents, etc.) for decades — for so long, in fact, that Frederick Forsyth could incorporate it as a plot device into his classic thriller The Day Of The Jackal, set in the early 1960s.If nothing else, it proves that disarming the law-abiding populace merely empowers criminals and terrorists. (See my earlier reflections here.)
When I first took a job in Israel many, many years ago, a number of Belgian (and other) friends could not understand our decision to go live “in such a violent region”. My response then: “don’t worry, your turn will come”. I wish to G-d I had been wrong then.
There are some signs of hope. The strongest political party now is the conservative, Flemish-Nationalist N-VA, led by an avowed admirer of Edmund Burke. (N-VA is emphatically not to be confused with the collectivist, “blood and soil” Vlaams Belang.) The current government is making baby steps to rolling back the worst excesses of “de multikul/le multicul” as brainless multiculturalism is called in Dutch and French, respectively. (“cul”=’b*tt’ in French, hence kul=‘nonsense, BS’ in Dutch.) In an opinion piece in De Standaard (highbrow Dutch-language newspaper), veteran editor Mia Doornaert even argued for getting rid of the “hapless” (“heilloze”) term “Islamophobia”. She also rightly called the claim that Muslims are the new Jews “an obscenity”.
But will the European elites be mugged by reality, or will they continue to say “après nous le deluge” (after us, come the Great Flood)?

[…] The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying…

PS: lest you think that Islamofascism is only a threat to the West, and not to non-Islamists elsewhere, think again.

PPS: French intellectual celebrity Bernard-Henri Levy, himself threatened by extremists from Belgium: Europe might be dying.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…

UPDATE 3: Belgian soldiers standing on guard had no bullets. As “Dianne” quipped on Facebook, “it’s like a bad Monty Python skit”.

UPDATE 4: A penpal in Belgium sent me this article in Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch), in which former Belgian minister of justice Marc Verwilghen reveals that his prior attempts to institute even limp-wristed anti-terrorist measures were blocked by former PM Elio di Rupo (Socialist Party chairman at the time, as well as alleged “Wicked Uncle Ernie“) and his party comrade, deputy PM Laurette Onkelinx, as “racist” and “creating stateless persons”.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | February 28, 2016

Odds, Ends and Interviews

Chris Nuttall on how traditional book publishers are making themselves irrelevant, and how for indies, Amazon is basically the only game in town.

The Chrishanger

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | February 22, 2016

Scenes from Europe before the storm

Scene one: At a reception at an unnamed organization, as I was talking shop with a few colleagues, I overheard conversation from the next cluster of people over. They were discussing churches being repurposed as libraries, discos, shops, a hotel, and, increasingly… mosques. What struck me (as an non-Christian who largely grew up in Europe) was not that they were discussing this matter. It was the perfunctory tone in which they did so — as if the subject matter was the rainy weather or a 10% increase in the price of vegetables.

Scene two: a number of people — card-carrying New Class members, what else? —  lamenting the “xenophobia” of the common ‘native-born’ people. Needless to say, they live in neighborhoods that are largely insulated from the mass ‘refugee’ wave and its fallout.

Scene three: a former mail carrier in his eighties struck up a conversation with me, after he figured out I was fluent in his language and familiar with the country. He pointed out that, while he had a sizable pension after his 45 years of service, a refugee family that had just moved in across the street got more in welfare payments than his , plus a nearly rent-free house.

The man pointed out he had voted Socialist all his life. But he was so sick and tired of being called a ‘racist’ for even mild criticism on Muslim refugees that he was switching his allegiance to a shady far-right party I myself never would want any truck with. Upon being queried, he basically said: ‘if they’re gonna call me a racist anyway’

Now if I had a Euro for every time in five days I’d heard variations on this theme: “if the Eurocrats and media are  gonna brand us racists anyway, we might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb”, I could have at least paid for a roundtrip flight. Behold the incentive structure the New Class has created.

When things blow up, it will not be pretty. Having largely grown up in Europe, this is heart-wrenching to see.

In some countries, conservative-leaning politicians are trying to stem the tide by reforms that aim at eliminating the worst abuses and at stanching the fiscal hemorrhage from a generally unsustainable welfare state. One such party leader, Bart De Wever of the Belgian N-VA party, actually has the audacity to invoke Edmund Burke — the father of modern conservatism — as an intellectual founding father. One can only hope he and others like him can offer an alternative to, on the one hand, mindless ‘multicul’, and on the other hand, ‘blood-and-soil’ thinking that might lead Europe down equally dark alleys.

Any glimmer of hope is welcome. It is two minutes to midnight.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | February 16, 2016

Government health insurance: the ultimate sickness

The Unaffordable Dontcare Act at work. Whatever bad stories you’ve heard about it are wrong. The reality is WORSE.

The Liberty Zone

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I have a wonderful job I love that pays me well and keeps me intellectually stimulated. I have health insurance paid, in part, by my employer. It isn’t fabulous, but it gets the job done, and I’m sure that if I ever wound up deathly ill, my family wouldn’t be financially broken.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful.

A friend of mine is an incredible intellect, who unfortunately lost his full-time job last year, and with it his health insurance coverage. The following is his account of his experience with healthcare.gov.

The website seized up four times, but finally we were able to make our application. We never got to the marketplace, because my salary as a part time adjunct was so low, we automatically qualified for Medicaid.

I want to stress this point. We never got to the marketplace because the system automatically…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 29, 2016

On socialism, incentives, and kibbutzim

Mark Perry discusses the failure of socialism. Among the cardinal features he singles out is the fact that, if you allow me to translate him into engineering lingo, the system is “not robust”: all it takes for the system to fail is a few people behaving like, well, jerks. In contrast, imperfect as capitalism may be, it’s the equivalent of a piece of machinery that only works “well enough”, but keeps going and going even if severely abused — a “robust” design.

Aside from that, Perry particularly stresses the role of incentives. Now if I’m ever asked to summarize economics while standing on one foot (the Talmudic version of “give an elevator pitch”), I’d say: “Humans respond to incentives. All the rest is commentary.” I am sure Steven Levitt would like this as a summary of his bestselling “Freakonomics” series.

Periodically, people bring up the Israeli kibbutzim in this debate — socialists as an example of “socialism that works”, detractors of Israel (when speaking to conservative or libertarian audiences) as a reason to dislike Israel. Few of them actually have any familiarity with life on a kibbutz.* Unlike them, I have plenty of current and former kibbutzniks around me, and I’ve lived in a kibbutz-like community in the past.

In fact, they are remarkably similar to medieval monasteries from a socio-economic point of view, except of course for the enforced celibacy and religious orientation. Allow me to elaborate on this point a bit. For those interested in more detail, Stanford University economist Ran Abramitzky has published a number of very interesting papers on the subject just as this one and that one.

Some of the points old-school kibbutzim and monasteries (both quasi-socialist micro societies, at least historically) have in common:

  • membership is voluntary (for the first generation of kibbutzniks)
  • prospective members are strongly screened for ideological and personal compatibility
  • even when admitted, they have to go through a probation period (novitiate in monasteries, provisional member status in kibbutzim)
  • they are generally small enough that each individual member knows (almost) all the others personally, which enables:
  • a level of social control that would be unbearable to most Americans. One could go as far as to say that the economic incentive to individuals in such communities has been replaced by a social one: the approval (or censure) of fellow members.

For all the talk about them, it might be hard to believe that kibbutzim only account for a few percent of Israel’s population. Aside from speaking to the imagination, they played a larger-than-life role in Israel’s founding, and still are heavily represented in IDF combat units and in the political scene.

Considering the value that left-wingers attach to “diversity”, Dr. Abramitzky rightly points out that kibbutzim are just about the least “diverse” society one can imagine. Separate kibbutz movements existed for hardline socialists (HaKibbutz HaArtzi), moderate socialists (TAKA”M, Hebrew acronym for United Kibbutz Movement) and religious kibbutzim (HaKibbutz HaDati). Ideological rifts within a kibbutz can end, and have ended, in kibbutz splits — Ein Harod being a prominent example.

The membership of most kibbutzim were nearly wall-to-wall Ashkenazim of Central and Eastern European background — moreover, the founding gar’in (“core” [membership group]) of a kibbutz often all hailed from the same town! A few carefully vetted members of different origins might gain admission, or a like-minded group of such people might found a kibbutz of their own. A few individual kibbutzim were formed by somewhat ‘out there’ communities: Hararit, for instance, was originally founded by a group of  Transcendental Meditation devotees. (She-yihyu bri’im/”bless their hearts”.)

There are a few really large kibbutzim, such as Giv`at Brenner (secular, about 1,700) or Kvutzat Yavne (religious, about 1,100). But more typically, membership is in the range of a couple hundred — which Dr. Abramitzky points out is near the limit of the human mind’s ability to process personal relationships. Kibbutzim that grow larger than that may eventually see rifts or be weakened by attrition — or a gar`in would form and a new kibbutz would be established elsewhere.

The model of “from each voluntary and vetted member according to their abilities, to everyone according to their needs and our resources” worked, after a fashion, until the 1980s. Worldwide economic changes that made agriculture and light industry less profitable were one factor. The second (sometimes third) generation of kibbutzniks being born into a model they had not taken upon themselves voluntarily was another. Many kibbutzim started experiencing an exodus of young people, particularly the talented and ambitious ones.

The 1980s financial “Kibbutz Crisis” forced most kibbutzim to reform in order to stave off bankruptcy. Some were privatized outright and turned into community villages that just retain “Kibbutz” as part of their name. The remainder exist in one of three models:

  • kibbutz mitchadesh, or “renewing kibbutz”, where every member’s only sources of income are their own, from work or trade inside or outside the kibbutz. This is presently the dominant model;
  • kibbutz shitufi (pronounced “sheetoofee”), or “sharing kibbutz”: the old-school model rebooted (a small minority);
  • kibbutz meshulav, or “combined kibbutz”: a hybrid model with wage differentiation

A few “urban kibbutzim” have been founded in recent years, where members voluntarily associate into such a form of living in an urban setting. Some of these groups are a little weird (centering around ecological or “alternative” obsessions), others more mainstream. The key word is, however, voluntary. Such “socialism” is not scalable to a large and diverse country of inhabitants mostly by birth rather than choice.

To the extent the kibbutz/monastery form of “socialism” ever worked, it did so because it was voluntary, vetted, tightly knit, and in tune with local economic circumstances. When one or more of these factors no longer pertained, it had no choice but to transform or disappear.

(*) Footnote: a kibbutz should not be confused with a moshav, which is an agricultural community organized as a smallholders’ cooperative.

 

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