20 December 2021


Facebook, excuse me, "Meta" is the worst company in the world. I was putting this together when I found that I was hardly alone in this opinion as Facebook came out on top as the worst entity in a Yahoo Finance survey as well, so this judgement is widespread. How then has it managed to so dominate social media?

 A lot was simply luck, but even more, the missteps of potential competitors. Let’s start with MySpace, which should have been in this position, given its early start, and the fact that it had far more customers initially than Facebook. It had the field to itself initially but blew it by having slow loading pages, blasting music on each one, along with much too heavy individual graphics and multimedia. Still people might have stuck with it except for the painfully slow loading. Fox blew $250 million purchasing  it without realizing what the problem was, so there was plenty of room for Facebook to grow, given its very plain, simple, and consistent interface that loaded right away and focused more on personal connection. But that was really all. 

The real, puzzling might-have-been is AOL, which had a better setup over twenty years ago than Facebook does today. They could and should have dominated this field but failed to adjust. Emerging from the earliest days of the Internet most users went by handles, rather than their real names, and their personal information remained as private as they wanted it to, which in retrospect may have been a plus given the state of privacy these days. But their search mechanism was far better in terms of finding people, they didn’t control who and what you could see, and they didn’t bombard you with ads, but also failed to monetize the service properly. Others, notably Google and Yahoo also tried, but it was too late and they simply abandoned their half-hearted efforts.

So that left Facebook by default, which now owns the field simply because it has the critical mass, which is to say you can assume everyone is here so you basically have to be here to reach them, notwithstanding the fact that you have very little control of who you can actually reach. You can have thousands of friends but only few of them see your posts and vice versa, and you don’t even have any control over what you do see; instead they do based on what their algorithms tell them you want to see. Still the result has been that people have drifted away from sites like Classmates to their equivalent on Facebook because everything now winds up here.

But these algorithms are inexact to say the least. They basically have virtually had a license to print money to the extent that they can micro-target ads to you by tracking your web surfing. But again it is far from perfect and sometimes laughable insofar as you often see ads for something you already just purchased which makes them obviously useless and a complete waste for the advertisers. Only recently have people begun to resist being tracked, and at least one major company, Apple, now makes privacy a priority, making it more difficult for Facebook to follow you without your permission. 

Worse they don’t even screen their advertisers so that people are getting burned by bogus vendors, with, i.e. storage devices with impossibly large memory that simply don’t work. So greedy and warped are they that they ignore crooked vendors but regulate users with a heavy hand. But they have also failed even functionally and aesthetically. Given all that power and control they could have done so much better than they have, but somehow it still feels like black and white in a world of color, there being remarkably few features available. 

But worst of all is the arrogant, almost complete indifference to users. It is just outrageous that a company of this size has no real customer support. If you need help with something you are out of luck. There is simply no one there. There is no number you can call nor even an email address you can write to. You are left with very limited and often useless help pages, or forums of other Users that costs them nothing. I, personally have been struggling for months to fix the link to my personal Home page that neither I, nor anyone else can now see or get to since they zapped the link to it when I set up a public page to post some writings, and switched it to the new page. So far my efforts have been in vain. 

So there’s no staff available to do anything useful so you have to wonder just what all the people working there do. Basically a lot of them just monitor and spy on you, and will interfere with your communications if they don’t like what you’re saying. So we have a situation where some kid is sitting there deciding what you can and cannot say. As if that weren’t bad enough, they are doubling down on it by adding yet more staff to do this sort of thing while still neglecting the basics of customer service that every other company provides. As a result you see more and more “corrections,” advisories, and labels covering your posts that you, of course have no ability to rebut. 

The icing on the cake is the blatant political bias and the concerted attempt to suppress not kooks, but ordinary conservatives from expressing themselves freely. They have censored people, they have blocked people, or arbitrarily completely shut down people, most notably a President of the United States in a breathtaking abuse of power. Even if you loathe the man, the very fact that they have the power to censor even a sitting President ought to be troubling to everyone. The end result is that in this private, not-so-little world, there is effectively no free speech and an inordinate amount of control over what you can do. 

As a private company they have the right to do so, but the result is that people are increasingly chafing under their yoke, and vast numbers of people have become disenchanted, to say the least, with their skulduggery. So although now nobody likes them, users are basically trapped to the extent that if they leave the service they are cut off from all the connections they have accrued and interacted with. No surprise then that they have turned themselves into the most hated company in the world, and I mean that literally because they have also alienated countries everywhere.

But worse for them, soon there are going to be consequences. You don’t screw around with people like this and get away without paying a price. I predict that price will be heavy as sentiment and power increasingly shift in this country. As that power begins to manifest itself they may pay dearly for their transgressions, and it is quite possible that the company will collapse over the next few years. As much as he may try, this time Zuckerberg is not going to be able to buy his way out of the situation he has created. Not only is the public disenchanted, for those likely to assume power are genuinely infuriated with these shenanigans. But if they fail to do anything in spite of all of this abuse, they too will be culpable and the time for revolution then may really have arrived. 


16 December 2021


Anyone who was around in the 1970s will recall how awful inflation was at the time, with high double-digit interest rates, constantly rising prices, and a stagnant economy, or what was then called “stagflation.” Unfortunately we may be on the cusp of a recurrence of these conditions as the Producer Price Index is now approaching a 10% rate of increase. We are now being told that it will probably taper down to 2% by the end of next year, but I don’t believe it for a second. Unless the principles of economics have somehow been miraculously transformed we may be headed towards really troubled waters, with very little maneuvering room left thanks to irresponsible government profligacy.

Even if it eventually passes some of the damage remains. Prior to that period interest rates on things like credit cards were nowhere near their current high double-digit rates, so even though inflation eventually dissipated the rates never went down. The Federal Reserve has incessantly been printing money, while keeping interest rates artificially low, thereby hurting savers and forcing more money into speculative markets, while the congress continues to spend money we don’t have. “Trillions” has now become part of the lexicon, replacing billions, about which Sen. Dirksen of Illinois once said “a billion here, a billion there, and sooner or later you’re talking about real money.” 

When the pandemic first emerged the government response was to flood the economy with money it didn’t have, sending funds to everyone who didn’t need it, and encouraging people not to work instead of targeting those who were most directly hurt by restrictive government policies, i.e. the restaurant industry. A well-thought out carefully implemented, targeted plan would have cost a fraction of what we have spent, but there is no evidence of any capacity for considered, forward thinking policies in this country, so we have now been adding trillions to the deficit, yet this administration and congress now want to run up trillions more in spending that there is no pressing need for, which is just totally insane. If they get away with this the situation may soon transition from perilous to hopeless. 

Someone is going to have to pay for this and that burden is now going to be born by younger people and future generations. Those who support the people responsible for this are simply cutting their own throats. Even if the government continues to print and spend money we don’t have, the only possible result is a lower standard of living and a debased currency that is worth less and less while goods and services cost more and more. Anyone should be able to understand this. If you borrow money today to indulge yourself, going forward when you have to pay it back, you will have that much less to get by on. But individually we can’t do what the government does, i.e. print money and raise taxes, so inflation is the only possible outcome. 

Meanwhile the administration has immeasurably contributed to further inflation for a range of policies, the most egregious of which is a war on the petroleum industry. Stopping pipelines that are nearly done, discouraging domestic production, and ruining the energy independence we had achieved as the largest producer in the world. Then when people chafe under rising gas and heating prices and finding themselves that much poorer  they try desperately to get middle-eastern countries to increase the kind of production they have sabotaged. 

This is all based upon a fantasy, that somehow we are going to precipitously get off of fossil fuels with nothing but fuzzy alternatives in place. The reality is that oil production continues to be the lifeblood of the world economy. It powers everything- vehicles that transport all the goods we consume, shipping, not to mention heating our homes, powering our automobiles, and dozens of other basic necessities. Nothing contributes more to higher prices overall than rising fuel costs. But they remain oblivious, or worse indifferent to the damage they are causing in the service of a murky progressive “green” ideology while those who can least afford it are bearing the burden of these rising costs. 

I truly hope that I am wrong, and that somehow inflation is miraculously going to disappear without having to make serious changes, but if I am right we are all screwed.


15 December 2021


My greatest fear about this weak, incompetent, and feckless administration is increasingly  that is there is a good chance that they may stumble into a major war that we are not prepared for as a result of these attributes. Adversaries are clearly signaling their contempt for this regime and events are unfolding that never would have happened under Trump. For all his supposed aggressiveness and unpredictability there was not a single serious foreign policy crisis under his presidency, and even some significant achievements like the Abraham Accords. 

Who wants to go to war under this Commander-in-Chief? This administration has managed to purloin the one institution left in this society that still was held in near-universal high regard by politicizing it, imposing crazy race theories on the troops, hunting down Trump supporters and non-existent white nationalists while leaving it underfunded. As the disaster they created in Afghanistan showed, we are saddled with a bunch of incompetent military top brass, and if events continue to spin out of control, it is our troops on the ground that are going to suffer. The reality is that we are no longer prepared for war, we have been immeasurably weakened and compromised by these fools, and our adversaries know this. As a result they find themselves with conditions too favorable to their goals to be ignored.

The “stern warnings” of this administration are laughable. No one takes them seriously. It is one thing to ruin the country domestically and something else to greatly increase the chances of a cataclysm abroad. Sadly, too often we have failed to consider all the consequences that might unfold as a result of our policy. It is critical to think things all the way through and consider possible worst-case outcomes. The media and the left-wing government are focused on nonexistent racism above everything else while the Russians are moving on the Ukraine, and most people remain blissfully ignorant of the danger we now face along with the even worse situation with the Chinese Communists in the east. But at this time we simply are not in a position to play with brinksmanship or take chances on the consequences of an escalating situation. 

The unnecessary and continued phony Russia-Russia-Russia obsession of the left has poisoned the well on what otherwise might have potentially  been good relations. You don’t have to approve of the Russian government or be a fan of Vladimir Putin to know that we need to deal with the realities in the world, not ideology. Whatever shortcomings there are, the fact is that the Russians are no longer Communists and that makes a world of difference. Russia’s natural home is in the West. Indeed they have nowhere else to go, because in the long run the threats to that country all lie along its southern and eastern borders, not from the West. But rather than drawing them in we have pushed them away. The argument that they are chronic authoritarians just doesn’t hold up alongside of global strategic considerations. If they solidify an alternative alliance with China, even though it is not in the long-term interests we will be facing a formidable foe. The real long-term threat now is China, and there can be no more important objective in our foreign policy now than discouraging a Russian alliance with China while hopefully enticing them back to the West.

The reality is that between a government run by a group of incompetents, and European allies given to burying their heads in the sand, we are in no position to warn, threaten, and certainly not go to war with anyone right now. Even in the absence of those weaknesses we face a real dilemma. Just how far are we willing to go vis a vis other countries who perceive their core, vital interests at stake when ours are not? As much as we may sympathize with the plight of the Ukraine and their democratic aspirations our vital interests are simply not involved there, where the Russians unavoidably are. Under those circumstances, were things to continuously escalate there is little doubt as to who would have the final word. We have no border anywhere nearby, we are oblivious to the historical interaction and dynamic and play here, and it is utter madness to suggest bringing Ukraine into NATO. There could be no greater signal that NATO is clearly a hostile, anti-Russian alliance to anyone sitting in the Kremlin. A more enlightened policy would be to try in the long run to cement both countries with the West. 

Unfortunately we are in a no-win situation now that has been exasperated by the incompetence of the Biden administration. Who would not take advantage of such obvious weakness? It is a miracle it hasn’t happened yet. So again we need to ask ourselves just how far are we prepared to go against the Russians or Chinese with regard to matters that are close to their home but not ours, at a time when our military has been thrown into disarray. Assuming we manage to get through the next few years without another foreign policy disaster there is only one thing to do, and that is to rebuild our forces, amplify our deterrents, strengthen our alliances, update our weapons technology and hopefully have a leadership in power strong enough to manage any contingency. 

08 December 2021


 I am absolutely furious with the people running the Republican campaign organizations and the annoying WinRed that does the charges.  My mailbox is perpetually flooded with email several times a day. There are literally a dozen or more from Donald Trump alone. Then there is everyone else running for office because the congressional campaign committees gave out my email.  

I of course I  finally took steps to stop this by telling them remove me from their lists but then they simply shifted over to another mailing list and were back again. This goes on continuously even though the next election is still almost a year away, due to the permanent campaign we have to endure. Worse, some of the wording is downright offensive for failing to respond. They have also cried wolf too many times, always falsely claiming they are behind in fundraising. 

As a result I sometimes miss important mail like notices and bills, etc. because of the nonstop flood. What I am going to have to do is make a new mailbox just for bills and other important things. Mind you it’s no secret I have been a lifelong conservative, but I have had it with this. I just don’t know what they think they are accomplishing by annoying people this way. 

I’m even getting mail from the Democrats now due to a publication giving out my address! A good part of the reason for all of this is tunnel vision, that is more and more ubiquitous across the board in today’s society. By that I mean the organizations are now so laser-focused on particular objectives that the staff pull out all the stops to try and achieve them without any consideration of collateral consequences. The campaign people want to raise as much money as they can and nothing else much matters. 

The larger problem, of course, is money and the endless quest for it. Politicians spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising, and most of them hate it. Yet even those who most fervently claim to want campaign finance reform alway make sure to leave loopholes for themselves in any legislation that passes. The reality is it is almost impossible to get money out of the process as everyone is in on it, i.e. the pious media certainly does not want to lose all the money they collect in advertising. 

But what we can do, and what we desperately need to bring about is election reform. A good part of the problem would be mitigated if we limited the amount of time that campaigns can occur in, which would certainly spare us a lot of the cacophony of the endless campaign. Furthermore we need to get rid of primaries, which simply inordinately increase the resources needed to run for office. The idea that they are somehow more “democratic” is a delusion, given that few people vote in them, and those who do tend to be activists which simply pulls the parties to the extremes. The truth is the “party” is really comprised of the elected officials identifying with it, and they are the ones who should be nominating candidates. (I’ve written on this before with regard to the presidency but the idea hasn’t gotten any traction yet).

It does not, however, completely resolve the problem of money. It is not so much that it gives advantage to “the rich” since they are as varied in outlook as the rest of the population and the notion that they form a cohesive “class” is simply not reflected in reality. But there are wealthy individuals who, on a personal level, do get more access than they deserve because politicians are generally easily impressed by big money. So they get to hang around and mostly feed each others’ egos, go to Epstein’s island, etc. Then when it sometimes blows up they have to scramble to disassociate themselves from people they were intimately associated with. 

I will never forget how, years ago, I did a lot of work for a candidate for a top executive position because I took him seriously in his commitment to principle.  At the same time, from the opposite side, a billionaire I had some acquaintance with was doing everything possible to defeat this candidate, organizing and pouring funds into the incumbent’s campaign. My candidate won. But I cannot overstate the shock I felt when barely a few weeks into his term he had dinner with the same billionaire who had just worked against him so strongly. I have never trusted any of them since then and it wasn’t long before I completely walked away from all of that. Money trumps principle, and just about everything else, and these people are never going to change. Thus the only thing to do is to eliminate as much of the need for funds as possible starting with what I have outlined above. 

17 November 2021



Eric Adams, the Mayor-elect of New York City, is ludicrously being assailed by the left for planning to reimpose some policing measures they consider to be “racist,” never mind that he himself is black. He correctly points out that the now-discredited BLM is just a fringe group, and encouragingly is standing his ground instead caving, the way liberals always do, to the radical left. The reality is that his election was the least racially-tinged election in the history of the city, having been chosen by a majority of both black, white and every other middle and working class constituencies in the city. But the left continues to perceive everything through a racial lens, primarIly because it is composed mostly of self-hating white people. 

If Adams continues to resist the prevailing positions of the dominant elite, who otherwise don’t represent anyone, the prospects for a NYC recovery have brightened considerably after the terrible diBlasio administration. I believe that will likely be true in the state as well with prospect that Lee Zeldin will become our next Governor. Like many I have considered leaving, but having lived here all my life I’ve decided I’m not going to abandon my homeland without a fight, and these prospects indicate there is at least one last chance of turning things around after years of corrupt, dysfunctional government. The challenge is still daunting but it may just come about, despite the still-dominant rotten elite. 

For it has never been true that New York is especially “liberal,” and certainly not “left.” It has little in common with some of the loonier places on the west coast. That is a myth that basically ends at the borders of Manhattan and a few other shore points facing it. Most of the city consists of a myriad of vibrant, fairly conservative residential neighborhoods. It is worth noting that Manhattan was the only place Adams didn't carry in the Democratic Party primary, which simply indicates the extent to which the elite who dominate Manhattan are not only out of touch with the country, but the rest of the city as well. It is only monotonous control of the media that creates that impression.

But even there exceptions exist, like the oldest newspaper in America- the New York Post, founded by Alexander Hamilton 220 years ago. For despite pages of frivolous “celebrity” nonsense, it is much more than a feisty tabloid and has arguably become the leading, and often lone, voice pursuing the truth and exposing scandals that the rest of the media ignores or suppresses outright for ideological reasons, like the Hunter Biden story they censored during the last election campaign or the Cuomo nursing home catastrophe. But they won’t get Pulitzers, which nowadays are just prizes liberals like to give themselves, along with so many other once-prestigious awards, (and we really need to start delegitimizing them as such). 

Many years ago, during a disastrous NYC newspaper strike that many never recovered from, Eric Sevareid, then a nightly commentator on the CBS Evening News, worried that the strike might take down the New York Times, which he pompously declared was our “nation’s most necessary newspaper,” which was laughable even then. But today there is a paper that does fit that description, one of the few that has kept the notion of a free and independent press alive, and which virtually alone did not bury the truth but exposed it, the New York Post. 

No one knows what the fate of city it covers will be, and things could still get worse from external factors even if the state is finally well-governed again, nor am I even predicting a certain turnaround, but now there is at least a chance that abysmal mismanagement will no longer be a leading cause of decline. 

19 October 2021


 I came into the world with boundless curiosity. When I was a kid I wanted to know everything about everything, and would read vociferously. I wanted to know all there was to know about the world around me, so I would save up my money to buy books that the local Bay Ridge bookstore would order for me, and in my first experience with debt, joined all the book clubs then advertising in the Times Book Review. I would go to Times Square to a store that used to carry newspapers from cities all over the country as well a foreign publications. I knew what the names of the newspapers were in every city and what they were like, and what were the leading European magazines. I would write to companies to get their annual reports, and amassed a huge collection of them in file cabinets. I would also take the subway to the central New York library branch for information I otherwise couldn’t get.  I wanted to know. 

I began to write file cards about news and information, but given how much there was that proved to be unwieldy, and impossible to maintain. That was my first experience with information overload. Given these predispositions over the years I subscribed to a large number of magazines covering a wide range of subjects. But as they were too numerous they inevitably would accumulate in unread piles. First they started to pile up in my parents’ basement, and subsequently in the garage of my summer house. I still maintained the notion that I would go back and read them at some point, and sometimes did so in spurts, when something caught my interest. 

That all began to change somewhat with the arrival of the Internet, as in the early years I could now go to university sites to get information, and more and more publications began to appear on line. At the same time magazines, like newspapers, began to disappear or survived with a fraction of the thickness they once had. So it became easier to cut back on subscriptions, which, coupled with an aversion to the increasingly atrocious and sloppy writing as well as presumably “serious” articles laced with profanity, coupled with a now-rigid uniform ideology in the remaining mainstream general interest publications. On the other hand my mailbox is now filled up with all kinds of information sources, making it tedious to go through email every day, but that is another story. 

But today I had a sort of epiphany as I resolutely decided to dump all the magazines filling shelves in the garage as it finally registered within me that I would never get to read through them all. I found that depressing but at the same time recognized the futility of keeping periodicals going back over decades. Tomorrow being paper recycling day here I began to go through them, and if something grabbed my interest I still set it aside and/or kept a few for archival purposes, but otherwise filled up boxes and garbage cans with hundreds upon hundreds of magazines, or set those of some value aside to give to the church sale.  There was everything from National Geographic,  Natural History, Astronomy and science,  to Wired and news magazines as well as many various specialized and technical publications, disproportionately British, because their magazines are so much better than ours. There were titles I’ve seen selling well on eBay but I didn’t want to bother with the hassle of posting and selling so they simply got tossed. 

In this process I could see the passage of time and how things have changed over the years as events have transpired and people have come and gone, as well as how many things are still the same, human nature being reliably immutable. However, I am keeping my huge collection of science fiction and fantasy magazines going back to the very first issues, but I’ve decided to limit them to the time before and just past my adolescence so that it doesn’t become too big to manage, and in any case I don’t care much for what passes for SF these days and I think it is basically over. There are still over 10,000 books around but unless they are rare, signed, leather-bound, first editions, or aren’t available electronically many of those will be going too. 

For some time  now I  have realized that despite being widely well-read, it is impossible to ever know everything, and for that matter to really know anything, as I have come to realize the truth of what Socrates meant when he said “I know nothing.”

11 September 2021


 I remember watching the Twin Towers going up in the 1970s from a pier in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Before that there were rows of electronics stores on Cortlandt street I recall going to as a kid for a reel to reel tap recorder that was then still made in the USA. There was still a produce market on nearby Washington Street, before it was all transformed by development. Years later I had an office downtown a few blocks from there and for a time a parking space next to one of the towers due to street signs an associate managed to get put up. I spent a lot of time there either at Windows on the World, the underground mall, or visiting one of the offices in the buildings.

In its early days CNN had a glassed-in studio on the ground floor, and as time passed it was still a place where frivolity was possible, whether it was someone climbing all the way up to the roof of a tower, or an incredible aerial ballet by a man on a wire suspended between the two towers, as everyone looked up in disbelief and delight. All of that was before security became ubiquitous after 9/11. Times have often been characterized as periods of innocence, but now it is clear that was truly the case then.

Today you can't enter an office building in Manhattan without showing a photo ID, stating the purpose of your visit, wearing a mask, then receiving a pass, and being directed to a specific elevator. You used to be able to walk up the City Hall steps, and I remember even being able to temporarily park there. Now it is surrounded by tons of tall iron fencing, concrete barriers and tight security surround the police headquarters, and free movement is a thing of the past.

I was married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, which in the dusk made a tiny rectangular silhouette against the giant towers, dwarfed by their immensity. That image still haunts me to this day as the church was also obliterated on 9/11.

In the early days they had a hard time renting the space so a lot of the World Trade Center wound up being occupied by New York State offices. When George Pataki became Governor he couldn't wait to get away from there and relocated offices to midtown where it was more convenient to railroad to upstate from Grand Central. Thus, but for fate, there could have been a significantly different set of people there on September 11.

I remember well the first failed attack which killed those who unfortunately happened to be in the garage at the time, and people pouring out afterword covered with soot. But the towers stood and no one, in their wildest imagination, could then have conceived of the horror that took place years later in 2001. By that time I was no longer situated in the area, but any of us could have been there, and in truth all of us were there, for it truly was an assault on all Americans.

There has been only one film that really captured all that happened, which was called The Path to 9/11, which once aired on ABC, but which the scoundrels who now run Disney incomprehensibly refuse to re-release. Other attempts at the story have been pretty bad.

I haven't been back to the area where the towers stood since. It is still just too painful, having a vivid memory of what was once there, which has since passed into cruel oblivion, along with all those innocent souls that just happened to be there that day. Given that so much that transpired since has been reversed by recent events, today has become an ever more sad and somber anniversary, but one of events that we must not and will not ever forget.

10 September 2021


The most striking thing about the past twenty years is how little has changed. Think for a moment of what, of any substantive significance, exists today that did not exist twenty years ago, and you will soon conclude the answer is not much. It is an atypical time of stasis, where not much has changed culturally, politically, socially, or technologically.*  Contrast this with almost any other twenty year period that comes to mind, i.e. 1940-1960 and clearly change was far more extensive. Or 1920-1940, or 1900-1920, and on and on. In each instance there are clearly substantial cultural, technological, and social changes that simply have not been equivalently replicated over the past two decades. 

Thus the present moment is atypical compared to the relatively recent past. This may or may not be attributable to the event, but things seem oddly frozen since September 11, 2001. As if to cruelly bookend this phenomenon, the Afghanistan disaster indicates we are now closer to the conditions on September 10 of that year, as much of what transpired has been completely reversed.  

But what has changed during this period is us. We are that much older. Thus, someone young and starting out twenty years ago is now approaching middle age, with the course of their life largely set. Someone just born back then is now fully grown. Much of what characterizes our lives happens over a twenty year period. We are young and then not so young, almost suddenly; for even though we know, objectively that we are going to age, it still comes upon us unexpectedly.  

So we have aged, yet the times seem frozen, which is the opposite of what has usually characterized human experience, where the times change but we remain the same. So most of the problems that were with us then are still with us now, and the stasis that grips us has only become more rigid. Yet nothing stays the same and sooner or later there is going to be a breakpoint. 

What has been lost during this time is a certain faith in progress- that things will always get better, that now seems faded. Yet tragedy has always been a major part of human experience that has perhaps been unnaturally masked in modern times. Things are better, things are worse, there are good times and bad times, and always will be, even though the present seems oddly frozen in place. But sometimes tragedy comes in a different sort of magnitude that overwhelms everything else. That is the legacy of September 11, 2001, now made even worse on its twentieth anniversary as we have so terribly deprived of catharsis due to avoidable recent events. Yet there may be hope, as people have finally had enough and the intolerable present finally reaches a breaking point that ultimately ends the stasis of the times. 

*To be sure the Internet is more widely utilized and woven into the fabric of our lives, and the now giant companies mislabeled as “big tech” were virtually unknown two decades ago, but the basic parameters of the Internet were already well established. (They are, with the exception of Apple, hardly “tech” companies but rather big media companies, still fundamentally based on little more than a website). 

09 September 2021


 During most of the years following the Civil War Robert E. Lee was one of the most admired men in American history, in both the north and the south, for good reason. Lee was never an advocate of slavery, or secession (until federal troops were sent into the south), and above all he was an honorable man of exemplary character. But the main reason Lee was universally respected was his conduct following the Civil War. For it was then that Lee worked tirelessly for reconciliation and peace and contributed greatly to those ends. Just consider the alternative to the honorable surrender he provided. There could have been ongoing  violent resistance and endless guerrilla warfare in the south for many years, in the absence of leadership from such a highly respected figure. Lee was the essential figure in making the conclusion of the war final, and in his efforts to bring the country together going forward. 

Thus, even though he had, with a broken heart, commanded the forces of the rebellion, what resonated was what he did with the rest of his life. There was little controversy about this until recently, when a fanatical radical minority began a campaign to remove confederate, and then other statues from public display, sometimes at the behest of as little as only one “offended” person. But the current removal of Lee’s statute from Richmond, Virginia is even worse, as it is happening with the concurrence of a rotten political establishment that has turned its back on heritage and history. It is ahistorical to the extent that it misconstrues Lee’s true character, as well as anti-historical, in the attempt to erase the past. 

Furthermore it outrageously violates a basic trust given that the statue was donated with the understanding and guarantee that it would stand into perpetuity. That this could so blatantly be undone by the rotten, unprincipled current authorities means that no guarantee, no trust is sacred and can simply be discarded at the whim of a subsequent generation. How then can anything pledged today be taken seriously going forward if it can be subject to subsequent arbitrary dismissal?  This is worse than the Taliban’s destruction of what to them are sacrilegious historic edifices, which at least stood for many centuries unmolested, but without any guarantee. Here, barely a century and a half has passed and the trust has been violated. Such a violation of trust must inevitably be accompanied by a serious loss of legitimacy in the institutions facilitating it. 

Such things are happening despite a lack of pubic support and the (unfortunately passive) opposition of the majority of the people. The scoundrels who have perpetrated this travesty must be held accountable, and if long-term legitimacy is to be restored it must be enshrined in law and precedent that is inviolable. Otherwise we are acquiescing in the notion that everything is ephemeral and relative, that there are no fixed and transcendent principles over time, that our ancestors are totally irrelevant, nothing is sacred, and that a passing change in sentiment can undo all that has come before. If we no longer have a past, we no longer have a future.