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      “It’s a horrible tragedy for both families involved in this case.” A young hero shot and killed when other teens play around with guns, according to the Delco DA. The others had been live streaming on Instagram when it happened, says the DA. @NBCPhiladelphia at 11pm pic.twitter.com/f1RhN6XQ7N — Aaron Baskerville (@ABaskerville10) February 1, 2023
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      Victor Orban is not a stupid man even though I disagree with him on a great deal: Hungarian military leadership is receiving a purge. Over 170 generals and high-ranking officers were fired in a matter of a couple days. A deNATOization is occurring in the Hungarian command purging those that were socialized in NATO and international partnerships. Now, it’s ea […]
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Unsung Hero – Katiebird

The Confluence was originally intended to be a refuge from the authoritarian aggression of the Obot mobs. Apparently telling the Obots they were not welcome here made them determined to get inside cause trouble.

The Obots acted pretty cocky because thought they could beat or bypass our moderation and filtering defenses with their video game experience and internet savvy.

They knew they were younger, smarter and better looking than us because Obama told them so. They knew no one could stop them, especially not an old white woman. who was probably an illerate racist. They smirked at each other, knowing that she didn’t stand a chance.

Someone forgot to tell that to Katiebird.

For most of 2008 the Obots had us under constant attack. Wave after wave of Obot trolls hopped up on Kool-aid and hopium charged our comment threads.

These were 4chan veterans who had been hacking and trolling the world wide web since they were still in diapers. If even a single troll got through they could contaminate our whole blog and prevent polite, rational online debate for months or years to come.

Standing in their way was a soft-spoken retired librarian armed with nothing but a razor-sharp 12-inch metal ruler in one hand and a rolled-up guide to the Dewey Decimal System in the other.

It was a bloodbath.

In the end, it was just Katiebird standing there, not a single living troll in sight and thousands of gutted and disemboweled troll bodies scattered around her.

Spammy and me loaded up wheelbarrows full of troll bodies and hauled them out back. The health department wouldn’t let us flush that shit so we had to burn them.

The stench of those burning Obot trolls was actually and improvement over the way they smelled originally.

Those of you who were here at the beginning may have noticed that Katiebird is a little different now than she was before. She’s a little quieter, a little less outgoing. She has that 1000-yard stare that combat veterans get when they’ve been in the jungle too long.

Katiebird still doesn’t like to talk about it.

Come to think of it, she didn’t talk very much before either. She probably has PTSD or is crazy or something but since we don’t have a health insurance plan here at TC we just keep Katiebird stocked up with liquor and cigarettes.

That’s how they did it back in my grandfather’s generation and only the weak ones cracked.

If you want to show your appreciation to Katiebird she likes cuban cigars and 20 year old scotch. If you bring them to me I’ll see to it that they’re delivered.

Book Review: The Passage

Summer is upon us and the time has come to go to the beach and get lost in a book.  But what to take?  If you’re like me, you don’t do trashy chick-lit.  That Candace Bushnell crap will never see my library shelf.  I want plot, action, good character development, some profound meaning.

So, The Passage, by Justin Cronin, may or may not be for you.

This was one of the most frustrating books I have ever read.  Er, listened to.  One word of warning, it is a loooooonnnnnngggg book.  The audible version is 40 hours long.  Maybe the audiobook is not the best format for this book but I’ll get to that in a moment.

I think part of my frustration is that the author tries too hard to be all things to all people.  Is the book an eschatological parable?  Science fiction?  An On-The-Road buddy story?  A love story?  An epic horror story spanning generations ala Stephen King’s interminable It?  A long winded luddite lecture on the perils of modern technology with a soupçon of magical realism?  A Beauty and the Beast fairy tale?  Who the frak knows?  It could be all of these things.  Some of them hang together.  Some of them hang separately.

There are two messages I got loud and clear from The Passage.  As Jackie Kennedy is reported to have said, “If you mess up your childern, nothing else you do really matters”.  The other one is, if you’re going to tinker with viruses, be sure NOT to use sociopathic murderers for your in vivo studies.  I made a note to self on this one because, *clearly*, scientists need to be reminded, ALL THE TIME, of their pretensions to divinity and the hubris that is inextricably linked in their DNA to their interest in biology.  Only scientists are capable of destroying our civilization.  Oil companies and investment bankers can not come close in destructive power to a guy in a white labcoat with a test tube.  We just can’t be trusted.


Actually, it was the military that did it.  They recruited the scientist.

Ok, does anyone doubt that the Army has stocks of mutated biological agents that make smallpox look like a bad case of poison ivy?  Of course not.  But it’s not like they’re out to create a race of orcs.  I mean, come on.

So, here’s the premise of this weighty tome: A grief stricken biologist goes to South America to investigate a bat virus that has the power to cure terminally ill cancer patients.  Well, cure them temporarily.  There are a few kinks that need to be ironed out, like getting them to stop turning into immortal blood thirsty killers.  The Army sees this side effect as a feature, not a bug.  So, it makes the good doctor an offer he can’t refuse and gives him his own personal research lab in the mountains above Telluride, CO.  Enter the FBI agent, Wolgast.  Wolgast’s job is to recruit “volunteers” among death row inmates to participate in “clinical trials”.  The subjects are not told what’s going to happen to them but seeing as they don’t have many alternatives, most of the recruits sign up.  Then, the doctor says his research has progressed to the point where he needs a much younger subject.  He needs a child.  That’s where 6 year old Amy Harper Bellefonte comes in.

Amy is the abandoned child of a homeless woman turned prostitute.  When Amy was born, she and her mom lived with her grandfather in a poor but idyllic existence on an Iowa farm.  A series of unfortunate events leads to Amy’s abandonment at a convent with the eccentric Sister Lacy, and her subsequent abduction by Wolgast.  It doesn’t take long for Wolgast and Amy to bond.  Wolgast can’t bring himself to turn her over to research so he goes on the lam with her.  They’re both caught and Amy is subjected to a mutated form of the virus that brings her close to death.  Then, one night, all hell breaks loose on the mountain, the subjects escape and the world changes.  Once again, Wolgast disappears with Amy.  They retreat to an old summer camp in Oregon and hide from the chaos of the world around them.

And, Oh, what chaos ensues.  This is the most gripping part of the book.  Most of the details are provided by out of date newspapers that Wolgast finds while they’re hiding.  But there is one section concerning the evacuation of children from Philadelphia that is particularly harrowing.  The girl who tells it ends up in a FEMA camp in California.  She is part of the founding generation of survivors.  This is the end of the first part.

The second part concerns the California colony’s kibbutz-like existence.  They’re out in the middle of nowhere, 90 years later.  They haven’t heard from FEMA or the Army or nearly any other non-infected human beings for years.  For all they know, they’re the only ones who are left.  They sleep with the lights on, literally.  Light is the only thing that keeps the soulless virals at bay.  And their wind turbine powered batteries are starting to die.

That’s where the story starts to fall apart.  There are so many logical inconsistencies from this point on that even though the plot is still compelling, the stuff that doesn’t hang together started to grate on my nerves.  For example, the colony seems to have forgotten about modern medicine.  They don’t have antibiotics or anesthesia.  Ok, I know they may have used up the contents of their 50 ton push pack in 90 years but no one bothered to write down the recipe for chloroform or how to make penicillin from cheese mold?  And the battery problem: the guy responsible for running the power supply tells one of the more senior members of the colony of their impending fate and- they keep it to themselves?  No “let’s get together and brainstorm a solution or all 100 of us are going to die horrible deaths in, Oh, about a year”.  No, they just sit on that information.  Then, when a couple of the members of a clique get into trouble, the whole group takes off, leaving the colony to fend for itself, unaware that the lights are about to go out.  The colony is described as being kind and gentle to their children even after they learn the bitter truth about the world but they seem to not to have instilled a sense of moral responsibility to their community in them.  If you think you’re the last 100 people on earth, wouldn’t you go out of your way to make sure that community survival was paramount?

Amy comes back into the story.  Of all of the characters, her thoughts on being and existence are the most convincing.  But in the presence of others, you get no sense of the internal workings of her mind.  She is silent and passive, a mystery that drives the others to take action and her relationship to Peter, the reluctant leader of the group, remains woefully underdeveloped.  The other characters of the second half, trained survivalists, have all of the emotional depth of Degrassi High School students.  The action is punctuated by heart to heart conversations that lead nowhere and resolve nothing.  I don’t care about a bunch of college aged adolescents mooning over each other for months at a stretch.  Grow up and get to the frickin’ point already.

We do come to the point.  It should be thrilling but it seems a bit anti-climactic.  This is where the audiobook has its limitations.  Because, if you had the book, there are certain pages that you could comfortably skip right over but with an audiobook, you have to listen to the words to make sure you haven’t missed anything important and this. takes. for. ever.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the book really is good.  The first part is gripping and hair raising.  There are passages of astonishing beauty that make you ache for Wolgast and Amy.  There is no doubt that Cronin is a talented writer.  I think that the scope of the saga just got a bit too big and unwieldy.  He could have used a better editor to pare some of it back and focus the motivations of the characters.  And I have never heard so much overuse of the word “frown” in my life.  If a character has to express displeasure in any way, the frowny face seems to be the only option.  Didn’t Cronin have access to a Thesaurus?  Were there no other words to describe a furrowing of the brows?  A look of worry and concern?  A sense of disapproval?   But I digress.

Here’s my prediction: The book is going to be wildly popular.  There will be sequels.  The way the book ends, there almost has to be. If I were pushy enough to advise the author, I’d suggest that he spend more time world building.  An epic of this magnitude deserves an almost Tolkienesque attention to detail.  Take your time.  Please, please, please, tighten up the character relationships.  And try to figure out how things actually work. I realize that English majors don’t all flock to the hard sciences but make an effort to extrapolate.

As for the fate of this first of three books, there will be HBO miniseries or movie and a franchise and all sorts of character re-enactments.  There will be Halloween costumes and video games.  I hope they make a Wii version.  Get in on it early enough and you can say you were there when the phenomenon started.  Enjoy it while you can.

You never know when the world might end and the lights go off.

(Bwahahahahahhh!, she says, shaking her test tube)


Don’t be a hater

Ever have a what-the-fuck-moment of clarity?

That’s when you see something and your first reaction is what the fuck? but then it hits you:

So that’s how we got in this fucking mess!

I pulled this little butt nugget from an otherwise forgettable post by Paradox over at The Left Coaster:

The lame theater clanked along through the years, Ronnie’s successor absolutely vilified and despised for the attempt at being responsible in raising taxes, Clinton the moderate Republican actually coming through with a modicum of adherence to principle and luck with a few booms to produce a surplus, Bush the Palin Clone naturally blowing up our money with fission tax bombs.

Let me break this into two pieces:

Clinton the moderate Republican

There has been exactly one Democrat since FDR who was elected and completed two full terms in the White House. He was enormously popular when he left office (without the benefit of being the media darling for a single day) and he remains popular today.

So what’s the best way to promote the Democratic brand name?



Oh, wait, that doesn’t sound right. In fact, it sounds kinda stupid.

I take that back, it’s completely fucking moronic.

Check out this little gratuitous slur

and luck with a few booms to produce a surplus

Let’s say you’re one of those super smart “progressive blogger” types we hear so much about these days. If you wanted to help Democrats win elections, wouldn’t it make just a teensy-weensy bit of sense to emphasize the longest period of sustained economic growth since . . . uh . . . ever?

Not only that, but since the Republicans always claim to be fiscally responsible that “surplus” thingie that the Big Dawg left us is a big ole gob of hocked-up phlegm in the GOP’s eyes.

I don’t want to step on Dakinikat’s toes by spoutin’ off like I know something about that econumberolgy mumbo-jumbo-gumbo she’s always droning on talking about but I seem to recall that most of the wealth created in the nineties went to the poor and the middle class, and the gap between rich and poor actually shrunk a little bit.

(I understand that there are lots of graphs and charts out there on the innertoobz that prove what I just said and all you have to do is use teh google but if I could read graphs and charts I’d be a rich and famous graph and chart readin’ guy.)

Now some people might disagree with me because they think if we talk about how good it was back in the nineties everyone won’t appreciate how much better they have now. So we could try to convince people that the prosperity of the nineties was just an accident, and it had nothing to do with the guy who was running our country. I guess that guy that was running things back then was only in charge of bad stuff.

One thing I haven’t noticed much of yet are the lefty Clinton haters holding Obama to the same standard as Bill. I guess it’s not their fault – How do you hold Obama to the same standard as Bill when he will never measure up to the Big Dawg?

Kool-aid is a helluva drug:

John Cole at Buffoon Juice:

You point out the fact that this is the most successful Democratic Presidency in my lifetime and all you hear is but, but but… He didn’t get single payer!

I was alive during the Clinton years. They were pretty good years, if you like peace and prosperity. Some people prefer war, depression and ecological catastrophe I guess.

John Cole spent the nineties as a Clinton-hating Republican. In fact, he spent most of this millenium as a Clinton Hating Republican too. Then late in 2007 he became a Democrat. A month or so later he became an Obama supporter. Before the end of 2008 he appointed himself Credentials Chairman for the Democratic party and began declaring who the “real”Democrats were. (hint: You, me and Hillary weren’t on his list.)

Now the lefty blogosphere didn’t implode back in 2008 just because a few purists and some CDS infested GOP carpetbaggers bad-mouthed Bill Clinton. But I was thinking the other day about many Obama supporters (then and now) were really Clinton Haters.

Remember the “check his website” bullpucky? It was one of many ways that Obama had no form or substance, he was just “not Hillary.” I saw lots of Clinton hating GOPers in the nineties, but suddenly we had Democrats hating them worse than the Republicans ever did.

But not just the Clintons, they also hate everyone associated with the Clintons, including Clinton supporters. (They especially hate Clinton supporters with them vajajay thingies.)

Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.

Bob Altemeyer wrote about Right Wing Authoritarian followers:

When I say authoritarian followers are aggressive
I don’t mean they stride into bars and start fights. First of all, high RWAs go to church enormously more often than they go to bars. Secondly, they usually avoid anything approaching a fair fight. Instead they aggress when they believe right and might are on their side. “Right” for them means, more than anything else, that their hostility is (in their minds) endorsed by established authority, or supports such authority. “Might” means they have a huge physical advantage over their target, in weaponry say, or in numbers, as in a lynch mob. It’s striking how often authoritarian aggression happens in dark and cowardly ways, in the dark, by cowards who later will do everything they
possibly can to avoid responsibility for what they did. Women, children, and others unable to defend themselves are typical victims. Even more striking, the attackers typically feel morally superior to the people they are assaulting in an unfair fight. We shall see research evidence in the next chapter that this self-righteousness plays a huge role in high RWAs’ hostility.

That sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Except for the part about the right-wing that sure sounds like Obamanation to me. I’ve debated many conservatives, formally and informally, and I never saw anything like the arrogance and sneering condescension of the Obots. But even worse was the hostility and aggression against other Democrats.

Anger, hostility and hatred seem to be etched into Obot DNA, and it’s kind of scary watching them engage in team-hate exercises with designated hate receptacles like Sarah Palin.

Remember when Left Blogistan despised conformity and groupthink? On many blogs they are now considered virtues and on many others independent thought can be fatal, at least for your account.

Think about this:

While we’re pariahs and proud of it, what happened to the Hillary blogs and bloggers that didn’t go PUMA?

If you visit the Obama blogs (aka The Kool-aid Kingdom) you’ll notice that the former pro-Hillary blogs/bloggers have still not been fully reintegrated into Left Blogistan. So even if we hadn’t put principle before party the Kewl Kidz would still hate us.

The Obots keep very close watch on anyone associated with Bill or Hillary. They despise Mark Penn, Peter Daou and the other members of Hillary’s campaign staff. As for Hillary herself, since she is a loyal supporter of Teh Precious they can’t criticize her, so they rarely mention her at all.

This comment from the Buffoons thread will give you an idea how perceptive and well informed Cole’s minions are:

Many “bloggers” (Edwards/Hillary supporters) never got over the primaries. To some race was/is a factor, but to most, they couldn’t believe the lost to someone who only had been a senator for 4 years. They simply never understood the reason they (Edwards/Hillary) lost is because of their support of the iraqi invasion. In short, there are alot of sore losers behind keyboards.

I started the primaries over there with the Buffoons and I was a regular there for a couple years before that. I remember what the issues were that people were talking about. The Iraq War vote was a blogospheric thing mostly , in the real world it didn’t matter as much. But it only really mattered because they could use it against Hillary. in 2008 many Democrats got harassed and hounded over it?

Whatever happened to that Iraq war anyway? It used to be so important. Where are those Commie Pinko Ladies these days?

It’s always kind of weird and amusing when some clueless idiot begins speaking with conviction to an expert on a subject in which he himself is so profoundly ignorant he is ignorant of his ignorance.

I’m something of an expert on Hillary supporters and PUMA types. Like most of you I’ve been hanging around TC and other non-Kool-aid blogs for the past 2+ years. We went from pro-Hillary to PUMA to please god make it stop but I don’t recall EVER seeing a former Hillary supporter saying “I can’t believe she lost to someone who only had been a senator for 4 years.”

I have seen Obama supporters say things about us that are so far off base you have to wonder how they could possibly be that stupid and wonder if they are being intentionally dishonest. According to the Obots, we’re all old, uneducated white women who were never into politics until we identified with a candidate who had a dried-up vagina just like ours.

I don’t know where I put my dried-up vagina but I can say that the former Hillary blogs and bloggers are as good or better (mostly better) than any in the blogosphere. Despite what we always keep hearing (from Obots) racism is their thing, not ours.

Generally speaking, in the United States racism is covert rather than overt these days. And when racism is overt it’s whacka-doodle-doo. It’s a big blogosphere and they don’t keep it locked- up at night. I’ve seen all kinds of crap over the years. (In fact, if you really want to see some crap they got websites that just show crap)

So there’s weirder people than me and Captain Spaulding wondering around loose on the internet. Some of them have turned up at TC from time to time, we sent them packing.

So where are all the racists? I’ll tell you where at least one or two of them are – Over at Blogstalkers. They have one or two regulars over there that like to post comments in our threads like:

“Why don’t you just call Obama a Ni**er and get it over with?”

(In the original blogstalker version the word was spelled out.) So they use racial epithets and project them onto us, and then blame us for words that are not in our vocabularies.

Here’s one Buffoon turning on another :

By using the word “colored,” that commenter just proved that they didn’t want him in office and that they’d turn on him the first moment he wasn’t perfect. They’d accept less than perfection from Hillary Clinton and they accepted it from Bill Clinton. But someone like Obama had to be beyond perfect.

In that regard, the commenter and others of his ilk, are worse than the GOP. At least you expect racist crap from them. But ever since he was elected I’ve had the feeling that the Jane Hamsher type of “progressive” (and I’m not saying every progressive) thinks Obama owes them an apology for winning the election. Every day I’m more and more sure

(I urge you all to check out the comment thread over there. I spent a couple hours just wallowing in scadenfreude)

We have over 4,000 posts and over 450,000 comments in the archives here at TC – RD started cranking them out in January 2008 and we kept it going ever since. If someone really wanted to know about us they could read through what we produced with hard work and drunken inspiration. Or they could just ask us.

This is Obot “truth”:

“. . . this is the most successful Democratic Presidency in my lifetime . . . .”

(Only if John Cole is eight years old)