Monday, 30 June 2014

A costly and irreversible mistake

Yesterday afternoon, returning from a trip into the city that had some rather unpleasant results, I chanced across a poster in the train that went something like this:
Dear 40-year-old Self,
Remember to FREEZE your eggs today so that you can still have a real chance at motherhood!
Love,
Your 30-year-old Self
Obviously an ad aimed at women, it was a poster for a fertility clinic- there is one in my area that is apparently nationally renowned and which does a brisk and profitable business.

I was already in a foul mood from having seen a quite disgraceful spectacle at my martial arts school earlier in the day, and dealing with the after-effects of a gay pride rally in the city didn't help matters- what is it about homosexuals fighting so hard for "equal treatment" that they see the need to shove their beliefs down everyone else's throats?

Seeing that poster certainly didn't put a smile on my face. It did get me to thinking, though- just how delusional are women my age about their chances of conceiving and raising a child?

Apparently, if recent survey results are anything to go by, they are cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs crazy when it comes to understanding just how fast their fertility rates decline with time:
The survey of 1000 women, released today by IVFAustralia, Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group, found a shocking 64 per cent of respondents didn't know their fertility would decline rapidly from 36 onwards.

It also showed 60 per cent of women thought that infertility in their 40s can be resolved through IVF. 
However this is a complete misconception.

Dr Molloy said IVF doesn't guarantee pregnancy as success rates rapidly decline for aging women.

'Your highest chance of success having a child will be if you can conceive before the age of 35. One of the most common reasons we see patients is age-related infertility, they are basically a modern woman – educated and a valuable addition to the workforce, but what has suffered is their fertility,' Dr Molloy told The Courier Mail.

'If you put a 34-year-old through an IVF program, the chance of getting pregnant on a single treatment cycle is in excess of 40 per cent.'

'When we put a 40-year-old through an IVF program, the pregnancy rate is about 20 per cent.'

Karyn Reardon, now mother of two, was 29 when she and husband Gerard first tried to start having children.

'It took me eight challenging years to produce my first baby – if I had waited until after 35, perhaps it would never have happened,' she said.

After several rounds of IVF she gave birth to her first child Flyn, 8, at 37 years of age and Ostyn, 4, at 40.
It gets worse. The only way to really understand how dire things get for a woman's chances to conceive is to look at a picture of the effect that time has:

 

Like most men of the Manosphere, I take the view that younger is definitely better for women who want to start a family. That ad in the subway is yet another malicious lie being fed to women who, for all of their college educations (most of which are a waste of time and money, by the way) and supposed worldly wisdom, do not have the wit or sense to understand the cold realities of female biology.

The reality is that women who look to settle down and get married by the age of 25 are likely to be much happier in their marriages, are much more likely to conceive children at the right age, and are going to be in a much better position to raise strong nuclear families. Women who delay marriage and childbirth, by contrast, to "live their lives" and "enjoy themselves", find themselves stricken by severe baby rabies at the age of 30 or older, only to suddenly find that their sexual market value has plummeted just as the SMV of the men that they most want to settle down with is rapidly rising.

And to those women who persist in deluding themselves that IVF is some sort of magical safety net- it clearly is not. All you have to do is understand percentages- in a single round of IVF treatment, a 40-year-old woman is only about 20% likely to conceive, and that assumes that each treatment is an independent statistical event, which is assuredly not the case. As time goes on, the ability to conceive declines irrevocably, and there is not a damn thing that human technology can do to stop this. We can slow it, to be sure- expensively and painfully- but we cannot stop it.

Furthermore, women who wait to have children make one huge mistake that is perhaps worse than all of the others put together. Because there is a large age gap between me and my little sister, I watched her grow up almost as much as a parent as I did a brother; in fact there were many times between the ages of 15 and 18 that she complained that she had three parents telling her what to do, and not without cause. My father was about 40 when my sister was born; my mother was 32. Both of them still had the energy and the time and the ability to raise a very young (and extremely bratty) child at those ages. If my sister had instead been my brother, my father might have found things a bit more difficult, since his career was really taking off at the time, but because she was a girl and as such required a bit less immediate bonding with my father, it was a little easier on him. (That is not to say that my sister didn't bond with my father, and with me, especially in her later years; we all know that because she's the baby in the family, she has the men wrapped tightly around her little finger.)

A woman over the age of 40 who has just given birth to her first child is going to find it far more difficult to summon the energy to run after a kid, play with a kid, change diapers, deal with colic and head colds and diaper rash, and do all of the other essential things that young mothers do. A woman between 20 and 25, who still has youth and beauty and energy, is going to have a much easier time of it.

Women must pay heed to these biological and statistical realities. Feminism has lied to them, repeatedly, for 50 years, telling them that they can defy biology and reality, but this is simply not the case. The end result has been that companies can make a tidy profit catering to the desperate dreams of supposedly smart women who were really too dumb to know any better.

Don't make this mistake. Make up your mind early on in life whether you want children- and if you do, then do what it takes to settle down early. Find a good man, and bear him good children. It's just that simple. The rest will take care of itself.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Midget-punching



[I had several different titles in mind for this one, ranging from "How to Push a Girl's Buttons: Sparring Edition", to "Punching Girls in the Face", to my personal favourite alternative, "Didact Beats Up Short Chick, Hilarity Ensues", but I prefer to keep things simple. So, without further a-don't, here goes:]

This one is for the ladies. Assuming that any of you can get through this without going into full-blown bratty meltdown, that is.

As I have made clear several times before, it is frankly pointless to spar with women. They are far more prone to injury than men. They move more slowly against men of equivalent or greater size. They lack the strength, speed, and work capacity of men in physical exercise. And they hit like... well, girls. I've had more painful run-ins with a wet towel.

That is not to say, however, that sparring with girls is entirely useless.

In fact, there are times when sparring with a girl who is one-third your size and one-tenth as strong as you can be downright hilarious.

Such an opportunity came up recently during one of my Krav Maga classes. At the end of the class, we all put on boxing gloves and proceeded to engage in some light tag-fighting. This is immensely good fun if you know how to spar- which is to say, you understand what sparring is, and more importantly, what it is not

There are several simple rules to sparring effectively in a training environment:
  1. Sparring is, of course, a dialogue: if you take a hit during sparring, you MUST acknowledge it.
  2. You must never get frustrated. If you keep getting hit at low speed, it's your fault and you need to figure out your mistakes, because clearly you are not defending yourself well enough.
  3. If you're getting overwhelmed at low speed, your natural instinct will be to speed things up. This is a gigantic mistake. If you do this, you will simply signal to your partner that you lack control. This is an open invitation to your partner to hand you some badly needed discipline, in the form of an ass-whoopin'.
  4. Sparring is an opportunity to practice your striking. It is NOT an excuse to engage in full-on melee combat.
  5. If you're up against someone significantly taller and stronger than you... well, you're f***ed, but you can reduce the amount of damage you'll take by moving your feet to get out of trouble where possible.
If you are a woman and you step into a sparring class, your first reaction will be to forget all of this. Please go right ahead and do so, because the consequences for doing this will be very amusing and very enjoyable for the rest of us.

So there I was, at the end of the class, trading light blows with my regular sparring partner, with whom I have a solid rapport. It was a good session- when he tagged me with a good shot, I would acknowledge it, back off for a moment, then come back in, and we'd go back at it, and vice versa.

We then switched to different people, and I started working with an older guy who is still in good shape, but who doesn't spar much, so I kept it light and made sure that he was OK whenever I landed a good hit. Again, same story- if I landed a good hit, he would take it, acknowledge it, and we'd go right back to it. There was no malice or real aggression involved at all- it was a constructive training exercise.

The final switch came around, and I found myself paired against this tiny little 5-foot-nothing chick, about my age or maybe a little younger. In fact, we had done our yellow belt test together, back in the day- and she was the one person in the group to score higher than me, if I remember correctly.

We started sparring, and because I'm not completely heartless, I dialled my punches back to about 25% of full strength- I was hitting her with love-taps, basically. The thing is, I am roughly twice her size and at least five times as strong, with much longer reach, so whenever she came in to punch, she consistently found my glove in her nose, her ear, her mouth, her forehead, or her eyes. (Christ Almighty, that sounds dirty when you read it fast. I'm going to Hell... Though of course it's not like I won't know anyone.)

Actually, it looked sort of like this:

Hey, fighting doesn't always have to be serious...
As time wore on, she got more and more frustrated- and who can blame her? No matter what she tried, she was getting bopped in the face, and I can tell you from personal experience that if you're not used to getting whacked, this is as annoying as having to listen to 10 hours of dubstep. So she started speeding up and throwing wilder punches, with the aim of landing something hard that would stop me from, y'know, punching her.

It was a good plan, with just one major problem: she was trying to hit hard against someone with vastly more muscle, strength, speed, and stamina. Who actually spars on a regular basis. And enjoys the hell out of it.

The natural end result was that, no matter what she tried, she would eat three or four punches for every one that she threw.

For me, of course, this was pure comedy. Behind my mouthpiece, I was doing my absolute level best not to crack up laughing- and believe me, I was putting more effort into not laughing than I was into sparring, because at the end of the session, I wasn't even breathing hard, and this chick was completely spent.

It got to the point where the instructor actually stepped in and advised her to negate my huge advantage in range and height by stepping in under my guard and, uh, hugging me. Now this is actually not bad advice- if you get into a clinch with someone bigger and stronger than you, it is possible to take a moment to recover your breath.

The only problem is that your opponent might just decide to use that time to spike the nearest major organ into paste through a few vicious body shots.

Which, inevitably, is precisely what happened.

I let her get in close, she tried to get me in a clinch, and she ended up taking three hard shots to the kidneys and liver, and several hard shots to the head. And I was still punching at less than 50% of full power.

By the end of the session, I was turning almost blue from the effort of not laughing hysterically on the mat, and she was an angry, spent, irritated puddle of sweat.

Now, lest you think that this post is all about mocking women (which it kind of is), there are in fact some useful lessons to learn here.

The cold, hard truth that modern women need to learn, fast, is that no matter how quick and how skilled and how motivated they are, it is extraordinarily unlikely that they will be able to take a man in a fight. There are exceptions; Katrina Reynolds, Dan 2 (she might actually be Dan 3 by now) was my own teacher's first black belt student from the US, and Avivit Cohen, Dan 3, is a bona fide badass. But they are truly exceptions. The simple fact of the matter is that most women simply will not be able to match a man in terms of size, speed, aggression, or even skill.

So what are the best self-defence options available for women? Well, quite simply, you need to be self-aware, and you need to be carrying a real weapon. I don't care how much Krav Maga you know- even the most skilled practitioners of the art know damn well how dangerous knives are at close range. They're actually more dangerous than guns, at really close ranges, and those who practice the system acknowledge this and respond accordingly.

Also, a gun is the ultimate force equaliser. A man  who deadlifts 500lbs and can break the average woman in two, is still no match for a .38 Luger or Sig. If you're a woman and you have trouble handling guns that are heavy, you can get a decent .22 or a 9mm stub-nosed pistol, which will be much easier to carry.

Most importantly- and this is advice that most modern women just don't seem to understand, for some bizarre reason- be sensible. Don't wander into unsafe areas late at night on your own. Don't pretend that just because you think you know how to kick some guy in the balls or poke him in the eyes, that's going to be enough.

And don't count on men for automatic protection either. It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid and illogical most feminists are these days- they consider women to be equal to or better than men, yet expect men to defend them when the going gets tough or dangerous. Well, we've learned from that and most men today aren't going to do that. For a man, it simply is not worth putting your life in danger to save some unknown woman- you never know how that's going to turn out, and it will probably be bad for you, so why bother?

Women are responsible for their own safety, just like the rest of us, so they should never be stupid about understanding the risks involved on the street. A woman has every right to be armed and to defend herself against aggression, just as a man does. But do not, for one moment, be stupid enough to think that an unarmed woman is in any way equal to an unarmed man. With very rare exceptions, it simply is not so.

BONUS: Check out this video from Fight Quest, from a while back, showcasing both military and civilian Krav Maga, as practiced in Israel itself. If you look really closely, you'll see my teacher right there at the end. (Yes, I've sparred with him. Yes, he is a certified card-carrying Israeli ex-military hardass. And yes, he is death on a pale horse on the mat. When he gets "the face"- we all know what "the face" looks like- then it's time to watch out, because the end result is going to be a bloody nose... at minimum.)


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Just 'cause you got the right...

... don't mean you got the power:


Romney again in 2016??? Seriously?! Hasn't this country suffered enough under President Bonehead Obarmy?


A lot of horse-hockey


Normally I rather agree with what the contributors write over at Return of Kings. Recently, though, one article caught my attention and I couldn't help but chuckling at its advice:
There are many different ways to strengthen the mind such as traveling and seeing more of the world.  However, for the ROK readers who don’t have several thousand dollars and a few months of vacation time that is sitting around unused, there are cheaper ways.  In fact unless you are in a wheelchair you have all the tools you need to do it from right where you are sitting in front of your computer. 
Introducing the horse stance.  It is a core exercise found in many Chinese martial arts.  I am told not to give away any of the secrets of my kung fu school to the public, but I recently found out that horse stance is one of the basic stances in almost all yoga classes so apparently the secret is already out. 
To do it put your legs about one and a half to two shoulder widths apart.  Try to keep your toes pointed forward as best you can. 
Then keeping your back straight and perpendicular to the ground squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground with your knees pointing out to the side.  Before doing it read the part below on proper form to prevent knee problems.  Hold this stance for as long as you can. 
... 
Mental Discipline 
The longer you hold the horse stance the more your legs will burn and burn.  The burn will make your mind go into overdrive to rationalize excuses for why it is OK to give up and stop the burn.  For me this generally starts after about three minutes into a five minute workout.  To block it out I might try to close my eyes and relax despite the burn.  Then I open them to see how much longer I have to endure the burn and see that only 40 seconds of burn have gone by.  My legs are already burning and it will be another minute and twenty seconds of even greater burn before the burning stops.
Now I'm entirely in favour of disciplines that strengthen both body and mind. However, there is a very good reason why I study a martial art that doesn't bother with animal forms or static stances or kata in its attempts to teach you how to be a badass: they are very nearly useless in the real world.

The horse stance is not going to improve your squat form- in fact, if you look at the way the horse stance is executed in the article, you may well end up injuring your hip flexors if you're not careful. I have actually done this- I tore up my hip flexor a long time back while learning how to do a roundhouse kick correctly, and it's never fully healed. Take it from a man who has a persistent problem with his left hip and yet still squats to at least parallel- a hip flexor injury hurts. If you are going to do the horse stance correctly, you'd better be careful about your form, because the penalty for getting it wrong is quite severe.

The article also claims that the horse stance develops incredible leg strength. And that is actually true, because it is essentially an isometric exercise, pitting opposed groups of muscles against each other. But hey, you know what else builds crazy strength in your legs? SQUATS AND DEADLIFTS. And unlike the horse stance, you can actually measure your progress by the amount of weight you can lift and move with those exercises. You tell me who is stronger- someone who can stay in a horse stance with no weight on his back for a couple of minutes, or someone who can squat 315lbs arse-to-grass and then hold the weight there for a count of 5 before powering it back up, and then do that for reps. Go ahead and check on it, I'll wait.

The claim is then made that this power and strength helps in self-defence. I can tell you from very real personal experience that trying to fight power against power is downright stupid. You simply cannot power through opponents in a real fight- you'll end up running out of gas very fast. Trust me on this- when you're in a fight, whether sparring or real street combat, your tank is tiny. People who have never sparred simply have no clue how quickly they get worn out by the sheer physicality of fighting.

Finally, the article claims that a horse stance can help build resistance against a side kick to the knee. This is true. It is also true that a fight is never static. It is fluid, dynamic, ever-changing. If you train to strengthen one particular part of your body like that, you are going to be in for an extremely rude awakening when your opponent goes for something that can't be strengthened, like your balls, your liver, or your kidneys. Getting hit in the balls is an instant incapacitation shot- doesn't matter how much you do the horse stance, you ain't gettin' up after taking a nutshot. Getting hit in the liver is almost as bad; the impact can shut down your entire nervous system, so that you end up a spasming, twitching, inarticulately weeping ball on the ground. Getting hit in the kidneys will knock the wind out of you, which means that you will quickly be out of the fight- if you can't breathe, you can't fight, end of story.

And that doesn't even count getting clocked in the throat. The absolute worst scenario (short of an actual knock-out) is when someone aims a round kick at your throat, and connects with the shin. I'm told that in muay thai matches, a successful attempt at this is generally awarded the highest points short of a full knock-out. If you've ever been kicked in the head (I have, twice), you will know why. If you haven't, you won't have the first clue what I'm talking about, but trust me on this- it hurts. Practising a horse stance will NOT prepare you for that kind of pain and shock. When you get hit like that, you have two options: take the hit and stay down, or somehow recover fast and go on the offensive. It's simple survival at that point.

Moreover, such advice completely ignores Line 1, Verse 1, Chapter 1 of the Book of Fighting: "DON'T GET HIT". If you plan on learning how to fight- and I mean really fight, on the street, in the kind of open-warfare environment that you will encounter out there- then your greatest enemies are your opponent, and the ground. As I said before, a fight is never static, it is fluid, and if you go into a fight having trained only in static fighting stances all your life, you are going to be in for one hell of a rude awakening when someone kicks your teeth into next Tuesday or dive-bombs your midsection into the pavement.

If you want to learn discipline, tolerance for pain, and mental strength, go do 20 squats at 225lbs to depth. (Yes, I can do this.) Or go spar with full contact, arms and legs, for an hour with 15-minute rounds after doing 50 pushups, and let me know if you can still hold your hands up afterwards. (Done that too.) Or let a blue belt roundhouse-kick you in the thigh five times, and tell me whether you're still standing afterwards. (Ditto.) Or deadlift 315lbs for a set of 10. (Check.)

All of these things are more useful for learning how to fight, how to tolerate pain and discomfort, and how to build strength than any static, passive stance steeped in arts that claim their origins from a time when modern weapons like close-range guns, and modern combat environments, did not exist.

You want to learn how to be strong, physically and mentally? You want to develop a real tolerance for pain? You want to build real skills in street fighting and survival? Then learn how to lift weights properly, and learn how to do a real modern martial art. It's just that simple.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Unleashing beast mode

Mike Tuscherer is one of the best drug-free powerlifters in the world, which is sort of like saying that you're one of the best anything in the world. He posted a video a little while back about how to push through the mental barriers that stop you from reaching the next level:


Watch the entire video, all the way through. There is nothing fancy about it- you're basically watching a very, very strong guy lifting very, very heavy weights while his voice-over talks to you. The delivery is not important- the content is.

The basic point that Mike makes here is that you cannot let yourself be afraid or intimidated if you want to reach your goals. You cannot allow yourself to fall into the mental pit of timidity- because the moment you let yourself fall into that trap, you have exactly two options.

First, you can stay there, and keep failing.

Second, you can power through, become a beast, and overcome your limits.

Doing the latter takes willpower. It takes sheer cussed pigheadedness. It requires a mental attitude that simply refuses to admit defeat- or even the possibility of defeat.

This is hard advice to take. It is even harder to apply.
In my own case, Tuesdays are my least favourite days, by far, for exercising. I hate Tuesdays, because that is bench press day for me. Except that I don't just do bench presses- this is what I would call a "typical" Tuesday workout:
  • Squats 5x5 @ 275lbs (or more)
  • Deadlifts 1x10 @ 225lbs, mixed grip- this is just for form and explosiveness
  • Bench press, 3x3 @ 145lbs, 165lbs, 185lbs
  • Bench press, single rep @ 195lbs, 205lbs, 210lbs
  • Possibly also 5x10 chin-ups

(Yes, I know, my bench press sucks. I'm working on it.)

This would be a taxing workout for most men my age and size. When you factor in the 2-hour workouts that I put myself through on Sundays, where I aim to max out my squats, OHPs, and deadlifts all in the same session, and the fact that I engage in full-contact sparring on Monday nights, and the fact that Tuesdays are my worst days at work because they tend to be full of meetings and "face time", well, you may begin to appreciate it when I say that I would rather do almost anything than walk into the gym on a Tuesday evening to lift weights.

But I do it anyway. And it sucks, at first.

Then something clicks- roughly around the time that I start deadlifting. And I get "the face"- the one that says, "stay out of my way or I will murder you right here". It's the face that every powerlifter gets when he's hit "beast mode", and when that happens, you're best off just leaving him the hell alone.

Once you experience the awful lows, and the euphoric highs, of a workout like that, you'll understand what Mike says when he tells you to embrace adversity and to thrive on it. This is what it takes to be the best- you have to be willing to suffer in order to grind out that last rep, but once you embrace the pain and accept it, then you realise that it isn't really that bad.

Thing is, this doesn't just apply to powerlifting. It applies to any and every aspect of your life where you feel like you're not reaching your goals.

Not happy with your love life? Learn online game, day game, or night game, and start approaching. Grind out the numbers. The rejections suck. Embrace them and learn from them.

Wondering why your blog posts don't get much traffic? Keep writing. Keep honing your style. Keep playing with ideas. Write even when you don't feel like it, even when you'd rather just sleep. Work for it.

Trying to figure out why you keep getting screwed over financially? Take charge of yourself and your finances. Learn how to invest. (More on that coming soon.) Pay off your debts- which may mean living well below your means for a while, which always stinks. Suck it up and deal with it.

You have to learn to embrace the pain. It is NOT fun, or pleasant. It is also the only way that you will ever test your limits- the only way that you will ever be able to find out who you truly are. By pushing yourself through those barriers, you push yourself to become better.

There simply is no other way.


Book Review: Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright

If you've been reading sci-fi and fantasy for a long time, eventually you will find that most books in the genre tend to follow predictable, straightforward patterns. For instance, with typical left-wing far-future sci-fi, one standard trope that is quite often seen goes along the lines of:
Impossibly brave, impossibly romanticised, impossibly witty hero with balls of steel (and a horse's cock), yet tragically flawed, sets off in search of <insert MacGuffin plot device here> to save <insert name of impossibly beautiful and chaste, yet also extremely horny, female protagonist here> from the clutches of the evil <insert generic villain/demonic force/nasty future cataclysm here>.
About the only innovation that might be introduced is that the hero might turn out to be a heroine forced to make an impossible choice between two equally attractive and highly unrealistic paramours while confronting some sort of galaxy-spanning evil.

Like I said, it gets really boring after a while.

It is quite something, then, when you encounter a book that not only does not follow the expected course of the genre, but provides such mind-bending entertainment, and operates on such a superb level, that you find yourself gaping in stupefied awe at the level of intelligence required to manufacture the plot, the ideas, and the characters.

If this sort of thing is of interest to you, then I strongly recommend that you give John C. Wright's collection of four short stories- novellas, really- a try.

Awake in the Night Land is without question a work of genius. Remarkably, these novellas are not actually original creations, in the strictest sense. They are actually homages to, and extensions of, the work of a writer whose name is quite obscure- William Hope Hodgson. In 1912, Hodgson published a work called The Night Land, which was simultaneously one of the best and most frustrating books ever released in the horror genre. It is an extremely dense and very long book, written in an almost impenetrable style of archaic English, with no dialogue whatsoever; and despite being written entirely in the first person, the protagonist is never once named. Indeed, it is precisely because the book is so difficult to read that Hodgson's name is not more well-known; his contemporaries, who included perhaps the greatest horror writer of all time, H. P. Lovecraft himself, thought Hodgson was an unsurpassed talent.

The world of The Night Land is Earth, millions of years into the future, after some great (probably man-made) catastrophe has loosed damnation upon the world in the form of brooding, cyclopean horrors that dwell in the eternal twilight and darkness of a dying sun. The last remaining dregs of Mankind dwell inside a gigantic, 8-mile-high pyramid of metal, protected by a quasi-mystical field called the Earth Current. Beyond the Last Redoubt dwell towering horrors that crawl closer every year by fractions of an inch; and in the Night Land itself live ghastly creatures that seem to come from the very depths of Hell itself.

John C. Wright proceeded to insert himself into this world, in order to write four stories set in this post-apocalyptic gloom, as a homage to the writer that he reveres. The first story, "Awake in the Night", concerns the dreams of a young man of his closest childhood friend in terrible pain and distress within the Night Land; seeking to retrieve his friend's soul, he sets out across the Night Land to find his friend and bring his soul back to the shelter of the Last Redoubt. It is a tale of the bonds of lifelong friendship, and the tests that those bonds must face when confronted with the living horrors of a world in which Mankind barely survives. It is, without question, a brilliant tribute to the love story that was the original book, The Night Land.

The second story, "The Cry of the Night Hound", is perhaps the finest story in the collection. It is certainly the one that stood out the most strongly to me. It concerns the tale of a young woman whose brother somehow manages to befriend two of the monstrous Night Hounds that roam the Night Land- imagine, if you can, a dog, a horse, a great white shark, and a scorpion all stuck into a genetic blender, and you will have some idea of what a Night Hound looks like. Her brother falls in the Night Land, just a few dozen miles from the Last Redoubt. His sister, forbidden from leaving the Last Redoubt because she is a woman, nonetheless defies the orders of her superiors and ventures out into the Night Land, alone, to retrieve her brother's body. She succeeds, but in so doing, she nearly sows the seeds of Mankind's destruction- for the Night Hounds have their own agenda. The scene in which the plot of the Night Hounds is confronted and destroyed is still seared into my memory, such is the brilliance of this story. It doesn't end there, either- read it and you'll find out just how good this story is.

The third story, "Silence of the Night", is not nearly as memorable, mostly because it concerns the time closest to the Fall of the Last Redoubt and Mankind's final extinction. Somehow it just didn't grab me, and it took me a while to get through it even though this third story is, from my recollection, the shortest of the three stories in this book.

The fourth story, "The Last of All Suns", is simultaneously so mind-bending and so obtuse that you have to read it a couple of times just to try to figure out what the hell is going on. I certainly couldn't when I read it. Essentially, it takes place trillions of years in the future, long after the extinction of Mankind, close to the extinction of the entire Universe. The last souls of all species in the Universe are crammed into a galley of horrors, the Last Ship, which slowly circles the collapsing centre of the Universe. The last surviving spirits of Man, ranging from all epochs of Mankind's existence, are preyed upon by horrors too numerous and terrible to understand. You find yourself looking through the protagonist's eyes as he stumbles through a dream of his wife on an African plain, and you really do find yourself wondering: was it truly all a dream after all? When I finished reading that last story, I honestly could not tell if there was a separation between dream and fictional reality within that story- such is the power and skill of Mr. Wright's prose.

I suppose at this point I should address one issue that I have seen on another review of Mr. Wright's work. Matt Forney read the first story, "Awake in the Night", and... well, he was less than impressed. In fact, he absolutely savaged the story in his review; his criticisms concerned the language and prose used in the book, but then descended into some rather snarky insults which I thought were thoroughly unnecessary. I respect Matt's writing and opinion, but I think that on this one, he could not possibly be more wrong. Matt's rudeness about Mr. Wright's writing and terminology simply tell me that he didn't even try to understand the story, or show any interest whatsoever in the source material. Indeed, it becomes very apparent that the moment Matt encountered some odd terminology or difficult writing, he simply gave up on the entire thing and stopped reading.

With this set of stories, that is a guaranteed way to deprive yourself of some very entertaining and thoroughly exceptional writing. Besides, it's actually no more challenging to read than Shakespearian prose, or Paradise Lost. (It took me 6 months to read the latter. I didn't say it was easy.)

In order to understand why this is so, you have to understand that Mr. Wright was attempting to do something nearly impossible. He was trying to take a rich, yet dense and almost impenetrable universe created by another author who has been dead for over a century, and adapt his own ideas to fit into that universe. You have to read some of the original book to understand just how dense Hodgson's prose was; compared to the original, Mr. Wright's prose is downright plebian, yet compared to everyday speech, it is stilted, formal, and difficult.

This is a collection of short stories that rewards persistence. It is not a fast read, and nor should it be. These stories are works of a genius at the peak of his powers. Difficult as they might be to understand and digest, I strongly recommend that you give them a try; your persistence will be richly rewarded, for Mr. Wright is a writer of surpassing brilliance and skill.

Didact's Verdict: 4.5/5, some weird and impenetrable moments notwithstanding, this is an amazing collection of astonishing talent. If you liked H. P. Lovecraft- specifically, "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Shadow Out of Time"- then you're going to love this.

Buy/download Awake in the Night Land here.

Monday, 23 June 2014

"Yes dear, you ARE fat"

The Daily Mail asked three very different couples whether they had broken what the Cathedral thinks is a serious taboo in marriage- and got three very interesting answers:
Emily says . . .
My first child, Henry, was just hours old when I noticed my husband Tim’s adoring gaze shift from our beautiful baby boy to the ruinous state of my body. As I sat up in bed in Furness General Hospital, Tim’s eyes slid to my tummy — and he did nothing to disguise his shock. ‘Gosh, you really did put on a lot of weight, didn’t you?’  
Other women will probably argue that I should have slapped him. It was a devastating thing for a husband to say to his wife in those hormonally charged, vulnerable first moments of motherhood. 
Luckily I knew this wasn’t Tim being malicious. He is simply someone who speaks his mind.  
But, that said, this was a particularly low point. After all, he must have known how much his comments would hurt me. I needed to hear that my husband loved me and was proud of me, not that I’d run to fat. Not least because I already knew it. 
I did nothing but eat throughout my pregnancy. I got away with it while I was pregnant, but once I’d given birth it was immediately obvious that I’d piled on masses of non-baby weight. My thighs were huge. My hips vast. My entire body had the consistency of blancmange. 
But it wasn’t as if I was in denial about it. In the shower after giving birth I looked down at my body and my first thought was:  ‘Look at the state of me, I need to sort this out!’ So why did Tim have to point it out to me? I do have eyes! 
Tim and I started dating when I was 28 and a slender size 12[Didact: Only in the corpulent, bloated West would a size 12 be considered "slender".] I worked out several times a week at the gym and was always very toned. Tim was always complimenting me about my sexy 5ft 9ins body. 
Of course children changed all that. I accept that it’s important for my marriage that my husband finds me attractive. It works the other way round too — I would see it as a lack of respect towards me if Tim ballooned and refused to do anything about it.  
Tim is 50 now and losing his hair, but I don’t give him a hard time about it. I simply see him as an older version of the man I fell in love with.  
Nine weeks after Henry was born I was in the gym and walked for miles every day with the pram. Within three months, I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans.  
My weight followed the same pattern with my subsequent two pregnancies. I would go up from 10st to 13st and spend two months working hard after each to shift the weight. 
But each time Tim’s reaction was the same. He was always quick to point out a roll of flab, or a thigh bulge, and make ‘useful’ suggestions about getting back to the gym. 
I’m a size 12 now, but I have a flabby belly which neither of us likes. We’re currently building a new house in France complete with a gym which I’ll be hitting with gusto in a bid to banish my fat stomach. 
So should a husband ever tell a wife she’s fat? For me, the answer is a resounding no, even if a wife asks the awkward question. It’s humiliating and, frankly, downright cruel. It’s also pointless. A woman knows if she has put on weight. 
She just wants you to tell her you adore her, fat or thin. That she’s gorgeous, regardless of her dress size. And, most of all, she wants to believe you.  

Tim says: 

Is it ever OK for a man to tell his wife that she’s fat? I’d say it’s essential. I like attractive, physically fit women and I’ve always appreciated Emily’s figure. She’s got a great bum and gorgeous, willowy legs, but there have been times when she’s filled out. 
After she’d had Henry, I wasn’t overly careful about hiding my horror that she suddenly had rolls of fat everywhere. Still, if anyone else dared comment negatively on Emily’s figure I’d be the first to leap to her defence. Her body has given us four great children and her flabby tummy is the price she’s paid.
What is interesting here is not the fact that a husband told his wife that she was fat- any idiot can do that. The point of interest is the reaction from the wives. If you look carefully, you'll quickly realise that there are very good reasons why the first couple's marriage appears to be stronger and happier due to the honesty, the second couple seems about the same, and the third couple is on the rocks.

Pay close attention to the pictures of the couples in question:

Defender: Despite telling his wife she was fat, Tim says if anyone else dared comment negatively on Emily's figure he'd be the first to leap to her defence

Vulnerable: Sarah was seething that the man who was supposed to love her in sickness and in health could say something so critical

Cutting a slimmer figure: Claire has gained a stone since the couple's wedding day

It is very clear why the reactions in the article are what they are once you judge the men and women in these photos by their relative sex ranks.

Look at the first couple. The husband is clearly fitter, better looking, and has higher socio-sexual status than his wife. He also apparently has no fear of what his wife thinks, but is also an ardent defender of his wife in front of other people. Because of this, when he tells his wife that she is fat, she is appalled and angered by it- but does something about it even so.

The second couple appear to be about equal in socio-sexual status; if anything I would argue that the man is actually slightly lower in rank than his wife, but it's about even if you squint. With this one, frankly, it could have gone either way, but if the article is to be believed, the moment that the husband managed to summon up the balls to tell his wife that she was fat, she snapped at him- and then did something about it.

The third couple is textbook Delta male behaviour. According to the wedding photo, at least, the husband is definitely lower in socio-sexual value than his wife- and his nagging her to lose weight is a perfect example of how NOT to convince a woman to do something she doesn't want to do.

There are enough relationship game lessons here to write a small pamphlet, so I'll just mention the most obvious ones- not that they need much spelling out, to be honest.

First, never be afraid of your woman's emotions. Halfbreed's advice on this subject is pure gold- you are a rock, immune to the tantrums and lashings of any woman's tempestuous sea of emotions. The moment you become afraid of what your woman thinks is the moment that you surrender control of your relationship. You lead, she follows.

Second, never underestimate the power of Dread Game. I know this sounds like something out of a D&D manual, and to a certain extent that's kind of unavoidable- the Manosphere has more than its share of nerdy, introverted shut-ins who just happen to be avid RPG players- but a truth, once uttered, does not lose its impact or its power when expressed by someone else. If you are having trouble in your relationship(s) with a woman (or several women), the single fastest way to get the results you want is to make it very clear that you have options that she does not. If you start going to the gym, losing weight, and learning how to fight or at least spar, you're already making it clear that you have potential options. It doesn't matter if you are actually actively looking for someone else- all that matters is that she thinks you are. Manipulative? Not really, given that all you're doing is letting her psych herself out.

Third- and this is the most important one- DO NOT act like a little bitch. Nagging and whining are female behaviours, and rather ugly ones at that. Nagging is what your bratty little sister does. You should not tolerate it from her; you certainly should not tolerate it from your wife, girlfriend, or LTR. The moment you start acting like a bratty little girl, do not be surprised when your significant other's respect for your opinion goes into free-fall.

In the final analysis, a man should never, ever be afraid to tell his wife that she is fat. And a woman should be expected to keep herself in decent shape. She doesn't have to look like a supermodel- let's face it, most women never will, and the sacrifices that a woman has to make to be a top model are simply insane. However, it is entirely reasonable to expect a woman to stay in shape for her man- after all, a man who marries a woman expects to be having sex with her, and her alone, for the rest of his life, and very few men in their right minds are going to want to go ploughing a field when it looks like a replica of the Moon's surface made with soggy goat cheese.

The men who learn these lessons will be the men who prosper in marriage. The men who fail to learn them will generally end up as bitter Gamma males, divorced, angry, and far poorer for their foolishness.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Amnesty = Lunacy

Jim Goad has an interesting article over at Taki's Magazine that dumps a tub of ice-water on the notion that this country somehow needs to grant amnesty to millions of invaders who have openly flouted your laws:
President Barack Obama—who would never lie…at least not intentionally…or at least he wouldn’t admit it…recently spoke at a Massachusetts school where he claimed that “30 to 40 percent” of the pupils are “DREAM kids,” which basically means that they are dreaming if they think they are here legally. He added that “our future rests on their success.” [Didact: Uh, hey President Jackass, have you even bothered to travel to Mexico recently? If you want that for your future, you're an even bigger numbskull than I thought.]
Is this encouraging? 
Most of the DREAMers are from Mexico, a nation of 120 million whose residents love their country so much, they keep fleeing it to live in the United States. 
Apart from a mean IQ of 87, what will these diminutive and swarthy newcomers bring to the table in terms of success? In his book Travels in Mexico and Life Among The Mexicans, Frederick Albion Ober speaks of the nation’s “inventive genius.” 
OK, then, what have Mexicans invented? 
“Toss a plate of nachos in the microwave and pop open a cerveza, America—you have seen your future.” 
We are told that the ancient Aztecs invented chocolate, chewing gum, and popcorn—well, they didn’t exactly invent popcorn, but at least they shared some with their Spanish conquerors, which shows that they are a fundamentally nice and generous people. They also allegedly invented “mandatory, universal education” and “were familiar with the wheel” but only saw fit to use it in children’s toys rather than as an aid in conveying post-pubescent Aztecs across great stretches of dry terrain. It is also common knowledge that the Aztecs were pioneers in open heart surgery. [Didact: Fun bunch, the Aztecs. So much so that they managed to beat out the Celts, a bunch of bat-s*** insane adrenaline junkies who painted themselves blue and shouted a lot and got into a lot of fights- rather like Portsmouth fans, actually- as one of the most terrifying civilisations in history.]
It is difficult to think of a more truly insane idea than the notion that tens of millions of poorly educated, often quite fat, and/or not particularly intelligent invaders, whose customs and morals are so radically different from your own, could somehow become American citizens overnight. In order to believe such nonsense, you have to ignore the evidence before your own eyes, and the evidence from thousands of years of human history, and conclude that there are indeed no real differences between people from different cultures and different races.

Such a belief system is indeed the very definition of insanity, because it seeks to scrupulously ignore any contradicting evidence and has no logical or empirical foundation whatsoever. All you have to do to make such a system fall apart is to look at the behaviour of two very different races and nationalities at a major sporting event.

There are a great many things to dislike about the idea of granting amnesty to the invaders. For instance, there is the fact that it will cement a permanent progressive/socialist political majority in this country- because Hispanics in this country tend to vote Democrat by quite large margins. (And let's face facts- the Republicans are basically Democrats in different clothes, with red ties instead of blue ones, so it's not like there's much of a choice available.)

Then there is the rather troublesome and quite inconvenient fact that Hispanics tend towards aggressive, violent, and criminal behaviour at a rate that is, in statistical terms, significantly higher than the equivalent rates for whites and Asians. These are facts that the American people, however sheeplike they may have become, do seem to understand at some level, judging by the intense hostility towards the idea of granting blanket amnesty in most polls.

The absolute worst thing about granting blanket amnesty, however, has nothing to do with any amount of facts or empirical evidence. It has to do with the meaning of citizenship. To be a citizen of a modern Western nation is to exercise a degree of sovereign power over the lives of your fellows that is historically unprecedented. If you have the power to vote in any given country, you have the power to decide that country's fate. By definition, you have a responsibility that accompanies that authority to use such power responsibly.

Of course, the reality is that most people simply are not worthy of wielding such power.

Why, then, would any sane nation seek to grant that power to anyone who has not proven, through sacrifice and the demonstrated willingness to put the interests of his country ahead of his own, that he has the ability to wield such power responsibly?

Granting that kind of power to millions of people who have done nothing whatsoever to earn it- and indeed have broken the laws of the country that grants them that power, and tend to use that power to vote for ever-greater largess to themselves at everyone else's expense- is simply insane. It would be like the Romans granting the barbarian tribes of Germania the privileges of Roman citizenship simply because the Romans were too stupid, lazy, and insipid to defend their own empire. (Oh, wait, they actually did that...)

This issue holds a certain amount of personal resonance for me. As anyone who has been reading this blog for more than 5 minutes can tell, I am not an American. I am here on a work visa. That visa expires this October. My firm is currently involved in the application process for a green card for me, but because they didn't time it very well, I will have to leave the US later this year and most likely will return back to Asia. The application process for the green card will take many months- probably years, in fact. Which means that these next three months are pretty much the last that I will spend in America, for a long time.

When I told a friend and former colleague of this, he paid me one of the highest compliments I have ever recieved: "You're more American than most Americans".

Problem is, as honoured as I am to receive such a compliment from a man for whom I have immense respect, it still doesn't make me American.

You see, there is no question that I love this country; I love what it stands for (or at least, what it stood for, once), and I hate to see it being destroyed through its own stupidity like this.

Yet, despite my love for this land and its people, I do not for one moment consider myself an American. The reasons for this are very simple. What have I done to earn the right to be called "American"? What sacrifices have I made in service of this country and its people? What have I done to prove that I am willing to put the nation's survival ahead of my own?

Answer: zip, zilch, nada, bupkes.

All of which means that, by definition, it would be the very height of lunacy to grant someone like me citizenship. And I have obeyed this country's laws, paid (quite a lot of) taxes for its out-of-control cockamamie welfare schemes, kept my head down, worked hard, and generally tried to stay out of people's way.

Why, then, would the political elite of any sane nation, never mind the most powerful nation on Earth, want to grant such privileges and rights to those who not only have done nothing to earn them, but have done the exact opposite of everything that I have done?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Reaping the whirlwind

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. 
Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 
Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. 
They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. 
Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? 
For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. 
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. 
Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.
 -- From the Book of Hosea, King James Bible
More than 11 years of grinding, terrible (if low-intensity) war.

6,675 American service-men and -women killed- and more than 97% of all casualties were male.

51,809 more wounded.

More than 150,000 cases of PTSD among current and former service members deployed to Iraq.

Over 287,000 cases of brain injury, ranging from mild concussions to actual penetration by shrapnel, among all branches of all services.*

And this is what we have to show for all of that blood and sweat and pain and suffering. Retreat in disarray. Panicked rout by the supposedly combat-ready armed forces that America's military trained. The American embassy evacuated. This is what we have to present to the spirits of the dead as evidence that they did not make the ultimate sacrifice in vain.

Somehow, I seriously doubt that they will be convinced:
As Iraq plunges towards civil war, it is worth remembering the dreams of those who thought they were building a better place. 
Emma Sky was one of them. Although opposed to the 2003 invasion, the British academic decided to put her experience of the region to use in the country’s reconstruction, serving first in the Coalition Provisional Authority, the temporary governing body installed following the US-led invasion, and then as governor of Kirkuk, one of the towns at the heart of the present rebellion by the rampant Sunni militia. 
“Iraqis had suffered for a decade under sanctions,” she told me a year ago for a radio programme marking the 10th anniversary of the war. “Before that, it had been the Iran-Iraq war, the Kuwait war, and all they’d lived with was turmoil and increasing poverty. So when America arrived in Iraq, people thought: 'Wow, our country is going to turn into Dubai overnight.’ They could see that they were going to be wealthier, buildings would go up everywhere and their economic wellbeing would increase.” 
But Iraq is no Dubai; it’s a disaster. The consequences of the dramatic events of the past few weeks could not be greater for the region and the wider world. The land grabs by the small band of jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have been stunning. City after city has fallen to a heavily armed and audacious band of little more than 1,000 men who make al-Qaeda seem tame by comparison. Iraq is falling apart. 
Entire populations are being internally displaced. Many are likely to end up seeking asylum in Europe or anywhere that offers a modicum of peace and prosperity. [Didact: And we all know just how swimmingly things tend to go when barbarians export their refugees to civilised lands.] A reverse journey is also being made; young men from the West are going to secret ISIS training camps to join the fight against the ruthless Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the hapless regime of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. Their leader and secretive poster boy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wants to establish a caliphate incorporating large chunks of both countries, both of which are artificial constructs courtesy of the British and French a century ago. From there, he hopes to extend further in the Middle East and beyond. The next brand of global terrorism will have ISIS competing with al-Qaeda. [Didact: Supposed "nutjobs" like me have been warning about the resurgence of a true Islamic caliphate for at least a decade. Sometimes it really does suck to be proven correct.]
Maliki, who has declared a state of emergency, is the author of much of his country’s misfortune. He has pursued a sectarian agenda against the minority Sunni population, turning his forces on largely peaceful protesters and forcing the vice-president out of the country (and slapping a death sentence on him, to boot). A Shi’ite with close links to Iran, he purged Sunnis from his government and disbanded some of their more moderate militias, breaking a promise to incorporate them into his regular army. 
Any analysis of what has gone wrong in Iraq inevitably begins with George W Bush and Tony Blair. Bush went to war to settle scores with Saddam Hussein on behalf of his father, who failed to remove him during the first war in 1991. Regime change was his goal and he was open about it. Blair’s aim was the same but he was required to use sleights of hand to secure the legal authority he required. The rest is dodgy dossiers, non-existent weapons of mass destruction and history. 
By the end of this year, Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry will finally report – after agreeing not to publish important correspondence between president and prime minister. This deal with Whitehall will deprive the report of some corroborating evidence, but the row is a largely confected one. The story is long known. Blair, while at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, gave his famous “I’ll be with you, come what may” assurance. He prepared for war among his tight coterie, but had to keep it a secret. 
That is no way to launch a reconstruction, and that is where British domestic politics collide with the streets of Mosul and Tikrit. The speed and success of the original invasion in March 2003 reinforced the hubris of the Americans and the British. They believed, absurdly, that their vague notions of installing democracy would trump all the problems. 
The US-led interim administration was a bickering mess. The removal of Iraq’s security and political elite spawned disgruntled and heavily armed militia. Bomb attacks began to take place daily. It took months for any proper public services to be restored, while chaos ensued on the streets. By this point, many Iraqis had despaired of their supposed liberators and were easy prey for factional groups. Having declared “mission accomplished”, Bush did not want to hear the detail. 
The murder in a Baghdad bomb attack in August 2003 of the UN special representative to Iraq, Sergio de Mello, was a turning point. The respected Brazilian envoy was seen as one of few international figures who could reconcile the different factions. 
It is not as if they weren’t warned. In the months leading up to the invasion, Blair received a stream of advice from experts warning of the potential conflagration. Arguments such as these were dismissed as defeatist. Instead, president and prime minister pursued the policy of the simpleton. 
Blair now admits he underestimated the complexity of Iraq. “The biggest single lesson out of Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is once you lift the lid off these very repressive regimes, out come pouring these tribal, ethnic and, in particular, religious influences,” he told me last year. The most important difference between 2003 and 2013, he maintained, “is a recognition that once you do lift the lid off – as you can see in Syria today or Yemen or Tunisia, Libya, wherever, Egypt – a fresh set of problems begin. That doesn’t mean to say you leave the regimes in place, by the way, but it does mean you have got to be prepared for a far longer engagement.” It was intriguing to hear, after all these years, a little contrition. 
His logic of perpetual intervention has at least the merit of consistency. The only time order was properly established was between 2007 and 2011 during the American “surge”. The period from mid-2006 to mid-2007 had been the bloodiest in the conflict, with more than 1,000 US personnel and many more Iraqi civilians dead. The Americans had been holed up in their bases, making the occasional and invariably bloody incursion, but largely leaving the militias to wreak havoc. 
It took the deployment of an extra 20,000 US personnel – a deeply contentious decision – to reinforce security and bolster the Iraqi government.
There can be no clearer evidence of failure than this. There can be no more obvious indictment of the failures of the last decade to build a better world. There can be no stronger repudiation of the Wilsonian doctrine of an aggressive, democracy-promoting foreign policy. When America adopted such arrant libprog nonsense as its official foreign policy in the early 20th Century, it left behind the great wisdom of the Monroe Doctrine and did, indeed, go abroad in search of monsters to slay. 

It has become perfectly clear now that such a policy is a fool's gambit. American military might and power has been misused and squandered in the name of a nonsensical dream- that the supposed blessings of democracy can be brought to barbarians who show no inclination to adopt it, and lack any of the basic infrastructure needed to maintain it.

The American military was misused, completely and categorically. Its purpose should always have been restricted to the specific task of breaking the enemy's will to fight, through killing those enemies wherever they hide, and destroying their lines of supply. Instead, it was used for peacekeeping missions better suited to the otherwise useless blue-hats of the UN peacekeeping forces. Its strength and vitality was wasted away in fruitless nation-building exercises, while the enemy bided its time and grew strong again.

The American empire is crumbling before our eyes, and we are seeing its might in full retreat. This is NOT, by the way, an event to be celebrated. Much as I despise the use of military force for anything other than the express purposes of killing enemies and breaking their things, I will be the first to admit that the Pax Americana, like the Pax Britannica and the Pax Romana before it, brought great gifts to the world in the form of a stable, American-led global Anglosphere made up almost entirely of parliamentary democracies with historically deep cultural and philosophical commitments to individual freedom. (Never mind how skin-deep that commitment has become now.) This happy geopolitical accident has been one of the greatest blessings of our time. It has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to the world. And now, its time is rapidly coming to an end.

The only good thing that I can see in this whole mess is that President Jackass has apparently refused to deploy any further American troops to stop the collapse of Iraq. For once, I actually find myself agreeing with that bonehead. There is absolutely no good reason why one more American should have to die in that hole.

(We go live now to the Pit of Tartarus, where our correspondents Lucy Fer and B. El-ze-Bub are bringing us up-to-the-minute reports of flying pigs and- would you believe it?- snow in Hell!!!)

Ahem.

The shades of the dead look back at us now with empty eyes, asking of us whether the sacrifice that you asked of them was truly worthwhile. The men and women who died for this country deserved better than this. They fought for victory; what they got was abject failure.

You have indeed sown the wind as a nation; now, you must reap the whirlwind.

* Statistics taken from Hannah Fischer's report published by the Congressional Research Service.