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Kid Red in the Far East

Back in the early 2000s I maintained a vanity website called Urban Redneck. One of the sections on that site detailed the career of my grandfather in the US Navy’s Asiatic Fleet in the 1920s, based on a collection of old photographs I had and some on-line research. That old website of static pages disappeared from the Internet some ten or more years ago, though of course I still have the HTML files stored locally.

Recently I was contacted by a cousin in Australia. I didn’t know I had any cousins in Australia, but I do indeed and one of them has been collecting genealogical information on our family for 25 years. He wanted to know if I had any detailed information about my father’s family. I don’t, really. The best I could really offer him was my old account from 2001 of my grandfather’s activities in China and the Philippines in the 1920s. So I uploaded the files to this server and sent him a link. You can read about my grandfather here:

Kid Red in the Far East.

The images are small because that’s how we rolled on-line back in the double-aughts. When I get a chance, I’d like to re-scan the photos and re-post the story of Kid Red in the WordPress database. Until them, you can enjoy my little blast from the past (that is, the 1920s Asiatic Fleet and the early 2000s internet).

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia has briefly appeared on my radar a handful of times in the last twenty years, though I admit I never before paid much attention to her. For some reason, I vaguely associated her with post-modernism and deconstructionism, which of course made me suspicious; while at the same time I have seen a few soundbites and blurbs by her that made me go, “Hmmm.” She was at UCI for a while when I lived in Costa Mesa.

The following video interview is from a few years ago, but it is the first time I’ve ever seen her talk, and the first time I have really gotten a feel for her opinions and attitudes. And I must say hers is certainly one of the most refreshing voices I have heard in many years. In fact, she is a passionate critic of deconstructionism and I wish I had given her more attention earlier.

Here, you should watch the video, it’s definitely worth an hour for any thoughtful American:

She is clearly more comfortable lecturing to a class than engaging with an interviewer (sometimes the best ideas are offered by the worst presenters), but I have to admit that after a short time I found myself getting impatient with the interruptions by Nick Gillespie (who is otherwise an excellent interviewer), and I wanted to hear her just go on with her thoughts for a while. He also kept trying to steer the interview in bizarre directions; I think a subject like Paglia should simply be primed with a few general questions and allowed to go off in whatever direction she wants. Of course, you could end up with a very long video if you did that.

I was shocked that she was repeating so many ideas I have embraced myself, some of them concepts I’ve never heard expressed anywhere else. For example, she is the only other person I have ever heard suggest that the growth in student loans in the last 35 years has led directly to the inflation in college tuition, through greater market liquidity; that’s something I’ve been saying for years (I’m not saying I’m the only person who ever came up with that idea, simply that I have never seen it repeated anywhere else, not that I’m an omnivorous consumer of economic and academic commentary). And she is one of the very few public figures I have seen who seems to have the same problems with Hillary Clinton that I have (that she pretends to be some kind of a progressive while enthusiastically carrying water for the elites who have been plundering this country for the last 30 years), and who addresses the fact that Clinton gets her principles, if you can call them that, from focus groups.

She seems to be an example of what I might call a “thoughtful leftist,” or at least a “thoughtful feminist;” people from the last century who were trying to nudge society in a more liberal and tolerant direction. But leftism and feminism got co-opted by ideological sheep who want to tear down 2,500 years of Western culture. As she says, by the 1970s, none of the smart ones ever bothered with graduate school, which is the root of the intellectual crisis we are seeing today (though her explanation that 1960s idealism was destroyed by drugs is a little too pat for me). The promise of the radicalism of the 1960s was stunted by the rise of mediocre intellects who increasingly focused not on the world, but on personal identity, resulting in an intolerant solipsistic worldview that is tearing modern society apart and making millions of people very, very confused and unhappy.

Some of her petty irritations have big ramifications, like the (claimed) extinction of college survey courses. I loved my survey courses. I always assumed survey courses were necessary so that engineers and microbiologists could still acquire an education with their degrees and certificates. Why would survey courses disappear? Who was behind that? The students or the faculty?

Another thing I got out of the video was the pronunciation of “hegemony” and “academe.” I’d never before heard those words spoken aloud.

I found myself wondering whether Paglia ever met Gore Vidal. I think they would have had a lot to talk about; but on the other hand they probably would have hated each other. Vidal was a patrician to the bone who knew and admired Hillary Clinton; while Paglia revels in her being one generation from Italian peasant farmers (and she loathes Clinton). I strongly suspect she enjoys beer. I would love to share a few beers with her.

Practice video

Came into the office early this morning to make a quick installation video for our new Truckeee forend for the Benelli M4 shotgun, all in one take.

We’ve been meaning to make some high quality installation videos for years now, but we are always allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. We are reluctant to do anything until we have the sound and the lighting right, and we also want to set up a little studio. So nothing ever gets done.

But we are sending this prototype assembly to a guy in the Navy this week and I needed to make an installation video to show him how to install it. No time to make everything perfect. But as you can see, this is on a personal YouTube account of mine and is not ordinarily visible if you don’t have the URL. It’s too crappy and amateurish for our official channel.

More than a year ago we purchased a video editing workstation, lavaliere mic, headphones, Sony Movie Studio 13, etc (we already had a camera), and all this stuff has been sitting in a corner of the warehouse gathering dust. In fact, when I fired up the software this morning to edit the video I had to register the software for the first time.

As with so many things, making videos in-house is a matter of just doing it. I think we can nail the lighting and sound without too much of a problem, so we need to just start shooting stuff. Editing is easy (ironically, over ten years ago I started making innovative (for the time) hiking and shooting videos, but for whatever reason I stopped doing it. Each video was substantially better than the previous one). I’d like to think this first effort has maybe broken the dam, at least a little. It’s no big deal to grab the camera and shoot footage, let’s see what we can do with this.

Bad Harvest forum shut down

The Bad Harvest forum was closed at noon PST today. The reasons why I shut it down were detailed in my announcement from 1 January.

Bad Harvest sticker

During the forum’s final month, I looked in from time to time to see whether anyone was going to accept my advice and start a new forum, and to check for spam and other vandalism. No one started a new forum; instead most of them bleated angrily about my decision to shut down Bad Harvest, though a few conceded they understood my reasoning. Apparently most members migrated to Redspinoff, which had been set up last summer.

I can’t imagine why people got so upset about my decision, especially since the Bad Harvest forum admittedly had many deficiencies, and it is not at all difficult to set up a better one, especially if you are smarter and more capable than almost everyone else on the planet, as most Bad Harvest posters insisted they were (my original farewell message, posted on the site, explained in some detail how to do it; a wasted effort on my part, obviously).

As I said, there were a few who knew where I was coming from. This trenchant bit of emoticon theater was posted anonymously about mid-month (long-time redboarders will recognize the archetypal emotes; everyone else will probably be a little confused):

And sure enough, a great deal of the traffic of the final month of Bad Harvest was dedicated to discussing how the Jews must have got to me. That was the only rational explanation, apparently. Those dirty Jews. They win again.

Well, to set the record straight, no Jews were involved in my decision.

The death of context

The Bad Harvest forum lasted as long as it did because I assumed that no matter how outrageous the content was it didn’t really reflect on me because I wasn’t posting the content, other people were. I never claimed to agree with what was posted there, and I assumed no editorial control. I just hosted and maintained the site.

Since about three or four years ago, that has no longer been a defensible argument. Intolerance is on the upswing in our popular culture, and if we encounter an idea of which we don’t approve the only acceptable reaction is to work to suppress it. Not refute it, but silence it. You sure as fuck don’t host a website where objectionable ideas are freely exchanged.

It’s easy to imagine the eventual interview with some witless paragon of the Fourth Estate:

Cathy Newman: You claim you have nothing to do with the opinions expressed on your web forum?

Me: No, I don’t, I simply host the forum.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is racists and anti-semites should have free forums?

Me: Well, I think if you are hosting a “free speech” forum, you shouldn’t tell people what they can and cannot say, as long as they are not being defamatory or otherwise breaking the law.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is only racists and anti-semites practice free speech?

Me: Eh? Anyone can practice free speech. It’s a free speech forum.

Cathy Newman: Do your customers, especially agencies of the US Federal government, know that you support racists and anti-semites?

Me: I don’t support them, I simply let them say what they want.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is we are lobsters?

Me: Is there someone else there I can talk to?

Channel 4 interview with Mitch Barrie

There’s no explaining it. We are also living in a world where context, which used to be vitally important for complete understanding of any utterance, now means nothing at all.

Remember, the Bad Harvest forum was probably illegal in some English-speaking jurisdictions outside the US. Certainly people have gone to jail in several European countries simply for questioning whether or not the Holocaust happened, or even how severe it really was. Probably the same fate awaits “climate deniers” in the future.

Simply being offensive is a crime in Britain, at least in Scotland:

Luckily for Count Dankula, he was merely fined £800 and didn’t have to go to jail. But even an £800 fine is more than I care to risk for the sake of a gang of anonymous emotionally stunted shut-ins who would never lift a finger for me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell; they hate everyone, except Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin).

Wailing and gnashing of teeth

What’s most odd about the reaction to the shutdown is how so many of these people believed I was in some way obligated to give them a place to post their nonsense, in perpetuity. Now keep in mind, in the ten-year history of the Bad Harvest forum, not one person ever offered to help pay for it. I had a couple (2) offers to assist with moderation, but that’s it. Many, many people had all kinds of fabulous suggestions for making it a better forum, but again, no one ever offered to help code any of these fabulous ideas.

And then they lost their shit because I suggested my livelihood might be put at risk by hosting their racist drivel. Of course, none of them had anything to lose if some nasty person or future atrocity was traced back to the Bad Harvest forum. Only I did. I accepted 100% of the downside for hosting the forum, and they enjoyed 100% of the upside. And I was a bad guy because I decided that was a lousy deal. And once I decided to pull the plug, there was literally nowhere else they could go (aside from Redspinoff). I had silenced them. And silencing a free people is wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong!

As you can see, a lot of the people on Bad Harvest were little children; or at least they had the emotional development of little children.

Keep in mind, nearly everyone on the redboards is completely anonymous. I never was because back when I got started on-line, on USENET in the 1990s, there was no anonymity. Everyone’s IP address was visible and everyone included their full name and e-mail address in their posts. Why not? Why would you post something you didn’t wish to have your name on?

What’s that word they have for someone who won’t sign his name under his opinions?

But I’m digressing. Anyway, once again I was confronted by the phenomenon I experienced back in 2016 of people who would never think of inconveniencing themselves in the slightest over an issue, not just asking but demanding that I accept huge risks on their behalf. I’m frankly baffled by this. Personally, I am simply not capable of the thought process behind such an attitude. It’s alien to me. And I keep running into it.

The end of the Bad Harvest forum

Bad Harvest sticker

The Bad Harvest forum will be shut down at the end of January 2019 after over a decade of continuous operation. The Bad Harvest forum emotes will be available here for a while.

Why is the Forum Shutting Down?

Before saying anything or committing any act, you should always ask yourself Why? Why do I need to say that? Why do I need to do that? I confess it’s not that easy to do that consistently; but at the very least the thoughtful person will ask after the fact: Why did I say that? Why did I do that?

I believe there is widespread misunderstanding as to why I set up the Bad Harvest forum in the first place, and what I mean by “free speech.” The Bad Harvest forum was inaugurated at a time of global financial collapse as well as a decline in the redboards due to heavy-handed moderation. My idea was to establish a truly unmoderated forum so users could post whatever they wanted, under registered monikers or anonymously, without having to worry about being edited by drama queen forum administrators and their helpers, as was common at the time. This was what was meant by “free speech;” freedom from oppressive moderation, not the freedom to post “NIGGER!” and “KIKE!” all day long.

In 2008, people were much freer than they are today to post brainless racist drivel on-line; so giving racists a soapbox of their own was never my primary objective. Things are different now; online speech is much less free for people with hateful or even unfashionable views, it is far more regulated; and while I agree that’s regrettable in what is supposed to be a free society, it’s not really my problem.

Also, as recently as a decade ago the redboards were far more civil than they are today. Oh, by 2008 the shut-ins had chased off most of the women (at least a third of the FuckedCompany forum membership must have been female back in the day), but back then discussion topics ranged a bit farther than partisan politics, how the Jews control our lives, and how black people ruin everything. Not so anymore. The Bad Harvest forum no longer has any substantial appeal for anyone who isn’t a virulent racist, antisemite or misogynist, or all of the above. It certainly has nothing to offer me and so I often wondered why I bother with it.

There are other more serious considerations as well. When Robert Gregory Bowers shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue in November of last year, a great deal of attention was directed at the on-line platforms he used before the shooting. “Hate speech” remains legal in the US, but it has already been outlawed in much of the rest of the world, and there is little doubt in my mind the Bad Harvest forum would be considered a “hate site” by most of the media should they ever see it. Given that I am not even sympathetic to the racism, antisemitism and misogyny that make up the bulk of the Bad Harvest forum content, I became, quite reasonably, alarmed at the thought of what might happen to me and my business should my site fall under widespread scrutiny in the wake of the next inevitable maniac atrocity.

I’d been thinking about the fate of the Bad Harvest forum throughout the autumn of 2018, but the reaction to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting settled things for me.

This New Year’s Day I find myself reading Henry David Thoreau, who “went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” I, too, would like to live more deliberately in the future, to possibly “front only the essential facts of life . . . and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I don’t see where hosting a message board like today’s Bad Harvest forum fits in that. It’s all actual and potential downsides with no upside at all.

Okay, so he wasn’t such a great Governor, but . . .

Dunno where I found this

The Internet died a little today

John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018

It’s just as well he exited when he did.

I remember when the Web was young people like him were dedicated to keeping it free and open and uncensored. These days I notice in places like Ars Technica that the big challenge everyone agrees on is how YouTube and Twitter can more effectively stifle unpopular views.

No one, it seems, is any longer interested in a free and open and uncensored Internet.

Trolling the Euros on YouTube

I look at YouTube because there is content there you simply would never see in the MSM.

I follow this Canadian guy who mostly talks about woodworking, but he’s also a retired software engineer who has a deep curiosity about the world, so sometimes he just videos himself running little science experiments in his basement, just because (he also enjoys trolling Europeans by engaging in home electrical work, always worth a laff).

So today instead of another woodworking project, he is projecting sound onto steel pans and observing interference patterns:

In November he was playing with a pendulum:

Trolling the Euros! *

I do know that teevee people are constantly trawling YouTube looking for acts they can put on teevee, but it’s really hard to do YouTube on teevee, because teevee depends on brainless drama and the better YouTube channels simply don’t have enough brainless drama.

The smarter YouTube personalities I follow won’t have anything to do with teevee. I think Matthias says something like, “Don’t bother me with teevee proposals,” and another guy I follow has a note in his profile like, “Attention teevee people, I am only interested in working with you if you want to do a project that is exactly like what I do on my channel” (in other worlds, no manufactured brainless drama).

I occasionally follow another guy, who is chasing the teevee Holy Grail. He’s always getting involved with projects to put YouTube content on teevee and of course they never go anywhere.

Mattias Wandel has an audience of 1.2 million subscribers, but it’s hard to imagine him carrying an MSM teevee show.

* You do need to know what you are doing to play with electricity. Matthias knows what he’s doing, but he deliberately trolls Europeans (and others) by putting up electrical-related videos.

  • North American electrical codes are pretty relaxed compared to European codes, and the Euros lose their shit when they see Americans and Canadians doing things that would not be permitted in Europe.
  • I believe in most European countries homeowners aren’t allowed to work on their own electrical anyway.
  • Matthias actually does things that are a little dodgy but still perfectly safe in most circumstances.
  • He does play fast and loose with safety. For example, you can safely work on a live panel as he does in the video above, but it’s not really that smart to do so, based on the idea that shit happens (your screwdriver slips, etc). But I’m a careful guy. Matthias infuriates what he calls safety trolls, but most of what he does is perfectly safe if done right. What I don’t like seeing is disregarding the possibility of an accident happening, something out of your control. For example, he likes wearing leather moccasins in the shop. I think that is foolhardy because even the most careful person can slip up and drop something heavy on his foot (I wear boots with protected toes in the shop, always).

Your assignment: ruin Christmas, for everyone

It must be such a miserable existence to be a Grauniad columnist:

I am atheist and anti-consumerist and I love Christmas, always have. Just don’t like the traffic.

Lighten up, Francis.

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