Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy HELLOWEEN 2014

It's that time of year again, when you see guys dressed like idiots and girls dressed like... well, slutty idiots.

Not, of course, that I'm complaining; Halloween is one of those holidays that allows us to celebrate the blessings of sexual dimorphism to the fullest.

http://laughingsquid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/703550_110354312463540_1121793866_o.jpg
See what I mean?
For those of us of a more metallic persuasion, it's an opportunity to play what was, is, and always will be one of the greatest epic metal songs ever recorded:

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Jeremy Clarkson on the Warthog

TOP GEAR+ HALO = OFF-THE-SCALE EPICNESS


There are no words to deal with this much TEH AWESOME.

(Personally, though, I prefer the M808 Scorpion Main Battle Tank as a way to deal instant and terrible death to one's enemies. There is nothing quite as effective as a 90mm tungsten-core HE round to the face in conveying the true meaning of the phrase, "F*** YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON" to someone you don't like.)

How not to get your ass shot off

Listen to Popp, you'll live longer and it's good for your mental health:


Also, can I just say- "Hot Fuzz" is quite possibly THE FUNNIEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME (that isn't called "Spinal Tap", anyway).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Second Amendment, in simple English

Trust good old Bill Whittle to put the 2nd Amendment in terms that even the average brain-dead liberal should be able to understand:


I especially like what he did when he rephrased the 2nd Amendment in terms of an inalienable right to read books.

Try this on the next idiot liberal who decides to argue that the Founders never intended for the free people of this country to defend themselves using firearms. And then sit back and enjoy watching their heads explode as they go straight into ATTACK!!! mode.

This, by the way, is one thing that Europeans simply cannot understand about Americans. They cannot comprehend why you guys love your guns so much.

All I can say is, I've lived in Europe, and I've lived in New York (which is a lot like living in Europe), and I've visited Texas (i.e. the real world). Out of the three, guess who had the most sensible ideas about how to protect one's home and property?

Yeah. God bless Texas.
Manners 101

Stating the clearly obvious

A young woman and a rather liberal media artist work together to create something that is unintentionally hilarious and instructive:
A 24-year-old aspiring actress has been filmed being catcalled 108 times as she strolled around New York City - even though she was wearing a plain T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

Shoshana Roberts, a graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, was captured on a hidden camera by her friend, Rob Bliss, as she walked through the city's streets. 
Over a ten-hour period, she was pelted with dozens of unsolicited comments, including: 'What's up beautiful?', 'Hey baby', 'Smile' and 'Have a nice evening darling'. 
She was even followed by some men for several minutes, with one repeatedly asking her: 'You don't wanna talk? Because I'm ugly?' Others winked at her, whistled and made inappropriate noises. 
The shocking video, filmed in August, was later posted on YouTube and Facebook by Miss Roberts, who describes herself as 'a New York City-based actress with a black belt'. 
Alongside the clip, Miss Roberts wrote: 'This happens daily to so many people. We don't put up with harassment in school, at home, or at work, so why should we have to put up with it on the street?' 
She added: 'Everyone has a right to feel safe.' 
Mr Bliss, who captured the footage via a camera hidden in his backpack, said he was inspired to film Miss Roberts after his girlfriend, Kendal Pektas, complained of being catcalled by men. 
The unwanted come-ons were picked up by two microphones that Miss Roberts was holding in her hand. The pair did not even realise some of the catcalls had occurred until they viewed the footage.

'I was very shocked by the audio devices picking up comments when I was halfway down the block,' Miss Roberts told the New York Daily News
'I didn't even know that they were occurring, which means there are other times people say things I'm not aware of.' 
In the video, Miss Roberts can be seen looking uncomfortable as men catcall her with phrases such as: 'Someone’s acknowledging you for being beautiful' and 'You should say "thank you" more.' 
Writing on Facebook, Mr Bliss explained: 'It's not just one comment, it's a collective weight. 
'Imagine those same guys saying all those same comments to you as you're going about your day, and imagine how you'd feel. 
'You may think saying something is innocent, but your missing the forest for the trees. 
The disturbing video has since been turned into a public service announcement in collaboration with Hollaback!, an organization that tries to combat street harassment.
So basically a young, reasonably attractive woman wearing a tight t-shirt and jeans wandering all over New York City gets cat-calls. And that's supposed to surprise and anger us?

This, by the way, is what Ms. Roberts looks like, according to the pictures in the article:


Not a total loss, then...
Actually, the fact that a cute girl is complaining about the attention that her looks get is really the second funniest thing about this article.

The funniest thing, hands down, is that I actually happen to know Rob Bliss. And through the most unlikely of connections, too.

You see, Rob trains at the same Krav Maga school that I did before I left. I've actually trained with him quite a few times. I was there for his yellow belt test. And I've sparred with him- actually, it's more accurate to say that I punched him in the face several times and then watched with some amusement as he took that as an invitation to go all-out aggro on me. It was quite funny to watch, especially when I let loose with a few hard jabs right to the nose.

(It's worth noting that he didn't show up to the next sparring class.)

So the moment I saw this article, I just started cracking up. It's one of those coincidences that is too absurd and surreal to make up.

Beyond that, there is a serious point to what Mr. Bliss and Ms. Roberts tried to do with this video that they put together.

It's just not quite what they had in mind.

Apparently, Ms. Roberts received something on the order of 108 catcalls during her time traipsing New York's city streets. To me, this illustrates two important points.

First, if you go strictly by the screenshots supplied in the Daily Mail article, the guys making the catcalls generally hail from the same ethnic background. That's right- they're mostly young, black or Hispanic, and dressed in a fashion that the Brits refer to as "lower-class". (Again, we can only go based on the screenshots in the article here.)

The lesson is quite clear. If you are a young, attractive woman, and you insist on walking through "ethnically diverse" parts of any big city- like, say, Harlem or the Bronx or, well, pretty much anywhere in Manhattan other than the very white-bread upper East Side- then don't be surprised if you get unwanted male attention from men who weren't raised to have the same degree of respect and propriety as the Jewish and Caucasian men that you're used to being around.

Second- and this is the important bit- if you are a young woman with as much... er... front as Ms. Roberts there, and you have nothing better to do than traipse about town in a tight shirt that shows off your, um, assets like that, do not be surprised when you draw attention.

I'm not for one moment arguing that some of these catcalls were not way out of line. Given my thoroughly curmudgeonly tendencies, I am very much of the view that people should be left alone to their own business at all times. That applies to women just as much as it does to men. As long as a woman does nothing to draw much attention to herself and comports herself in a dignified, ladylike fashion, there is absolutely no call to disturb her as she goes about her business.

That being said- a woman is responsible for her dress, her modesty, and her behaviour in public. Would Ms. Roberts have gotten even half as much attention, and as many catcalls, as she did in that video that inspired this bit of silly bile from the Daily Mail if she had worn a baggy formless shirt? Very unlikely. She got the attention that she did because she is:

a) Young
b) Shapely
c) Dressed in a manner that makes these attributes clear
d) Walking through neighbourhoods where, shall we say, Momma didn't necessarily raise them right

And now she's upset about that attention?

Colour me sceptical.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Northern star

Well, I'm back. Just not in the usual place, that's all.

I'm sure that the two men and the dog that follow this pokey little blog of mine were wondering where I'd been for the past week-and-a-bit.

The answer is that I spent the entirety of the past week preparing to leave the USA. And, last Friday night, I did leave.

As it turns out, getting everything ready for a major transcontinental move is not easy, fun, or quick. It's been a while since I had to do that sort of thing- and the last time I did it, I didn't exactly have a whole lot of stuff to my name, so all it involved was packing two large boxes and getting them shipped off. This time was... a trifle more involved.

I have moved around pretty much my entire life. I've lived in six countries; I've visited many more. I know what it's like to leave friends and family behind- I've been doing it for a quarter-century. It's never fun, and it's never easy. It does get more manageable with time. But the longer you spend in any one place, inevitably, the more roots you put down, and the harder it becomes to break away from them, even if only temporarily.

And this is, for the moment, definitely just a temporary departure. The plan is that I will return after a 6-month assignment abroad to resume my duties in the US.

Still doesn't make leaving any easier, though. Not even if you're living in London.

I'd known that I would have to leave for months. The groundwork had been laid for the move long before. Even so, it is no simple matter to just move across continents.

There are many things that I will miss- that I already miss- about the USA: the easy availability of grass-fed beef and organic produce, the vagaries and silliness of American so-called "English", the taste of eighty-five-plus-percent-cacao dark chocolate, sunshine...

But these are all relatively banal and trivial things next to leaving behind the optimism and joy and sense of freedom that was, and to some extent still is, the spirit of America.

It is nearly impossible to explain what America is like to anyone who has never been there- and it is equally difficult to explain to an American just how unusual his own country is if he has never left it. I guess the best way to put it is to quote that story that ol' Dusty related in that famous speech of his:
Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.
It may seem trite to say this, but that is exactly how I feel about America. If Mankind is to be free, there is nowhere else to turn, no other example to follow. America is indeed the last stand, and if America falls, Mankind falls with it.

The country may be losing its way. It may be sinking ever deeper into corruption and misery and decadence. It may well have lost most of the tremendous vitality that made it the envy of the world. It may have lost its lustre as the land of prosperity and good fortune. Its government may well have already become a deadly tyranny, inimical and destructive to the happiness of its own people. It may well have become a perverted, sodomy-loving, feminised, fame-obsessed, grotesquely irreverent and immoral caricature of its austere, Puritanical origins.

And yet for all of that, for all of its failure and corruption and decadence, America remains the last, best hope of Mankind.

Before I came to America, I was always rather puzzled by the messianic tones in which conservatives referred to the country. I just couldn't figure out why it was that so many writers kept referring to the country as the "shining city on the hill", or the "last republic", or the "light of Mankind". I simply didn't understand why Americans were so keen on being so very different from everyone else.

It took me a few years to figure it out. And now that I've left, I can only shake my head in wonder when I see the freedoms and the beauties that Americans seem to take for granted.

Here in Europe- particularly in "sophisticated" metropolitan areas like London- most of America tends to be regarded with anything from faint scorn to outright hostility. Europeans think of themselves as being far more sophisticated and worldly than the average pickup-drivin', gun-totin', cigar-smokin' redneck hillbilly. And perhaps they are right, if you think that sipping espresso and drinking French wine and reading The Guardian every morning on your hour-long drive in a snot-box diesel hatchback is the epitome of "sophistication".


Yet, look what America's European cousins have given up in exchange for all of that "sophistication". Their countries are dying on their feet, thanks to plummeting birth rates, readily available abortion and contraception, and a pathetic, weak-kneed Churchianity that seeks above all else to avoid offending people's precious self-delusions. Their taxes are crazy, even by American standards. Their cost of living is phenomenally high- petrol (I refuse to call it "gas", the way you Americans do) costs on the order of $8/gal here, fresh meat and fish is considerably more expensive even for the CAFO-raised stuff, and don't even get me started on the cost of real estate. Their politics amount to a choice between left and left-er.

And as for their freedoms? What freedoms? The Europeans delude themselves into thinking that they actually have freedoms, that they have any say in what their own national governments can and cannot do. That is certainly not the case when the European Commission and the European Parliament can, and does, overturn national laws on a mere whim.

To see Europe today is to see America's future, twenty or thirty years hence. It is a seductive and potent vision of tyranny within a velvet glove, where the warmly pleasant numbness of the artificial world around you is frantically maintained by extortionate tax rates and absolutely zero control over the politics, culture, and ethnic makeup of one's own nation.

And I assure you, as one who has seen both what America is and what it could still become, for both better and worse, that this soft, enervating tyranny WILL be your future, unless you consciously choose to avoid it.

The simplest and most potent example is the never-ending debate over gun control in the USA. Here in Europe, there is no debate. Private ownership of guns is considered "a badness thing". And that would probably be just fine, if only the Europeans didn't insist on letting in hundreds of thousands of invaders who subscribe to a barbaric so-called "religion" that has no problem whatsoever with emulating the example of a man who thought that beheading captured and defeated opponents was swell and dandy.

At least in America, there actually is a debate- because Americans, for all of their innumerable faults, still recognise that the entire point of guns and the 2nd Amendment is to act as a last-ditch defence against tyrannical government.

When I came to America, I didn't expect to stay there for very long. I expected I'd be there for five years, at most, before packing up and heading back to Asia. For various reasons, that hasn't happened- and now that I have found a family of sorts, and a second home, at my Krav Maga school, it's hard to imagine leaving that family and those connections behind.

I do hope to return in six months, and I do hope to be able to stay. It's not up to me, though, not really. I am, and have always been, a guest in America. I am there because of the generosity of the American people- the fact that I also happen to hold down a decent job, which pays not exactly insubstantial amounts to others in terms of taxes stolen from me at gunpoint, might also have something to do with the reason why I've been able to stay there. And if America will have me, I will gladly return.

On that day, I will follow the northern star back home.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Speech

On October 27th, 1964, a handsome-looking former actor in his early fifties took to the stage of the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California. He was there to deliver a message that he, and he alone, had spent years of his life honing on the lecture circuit as a spokesman for a company called General Electric.

He stepped forward to give the speech because the Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, one Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, was having enormous trouble connecting with the average voter. His politics seemed far too radical even for that progressive time; his communication skills were weak; his message was scattered; his grassroots organisation was terrible compared with the well-oiled political machine of Lyndon B. Johnson.

This speech was perhaps Goldwater's last chance to connect with the American people, and to provide a platform for his ideas about government and its role in the life of the ordinary citizen.

This tremendous burden fell upon the broad, powerful shoulders of a man who, before that night, would never have been thought of as any kind of great politician, or even a great communicator.

Fifty years ago today, that one man met the challenge, and, as he would do so many times over the course of his life, mastered it.

That man was Ronald Wilson Reagan. That speech would later come to be known as "A Time for Choosing", and it remains one of the most powerful speeches of any kind ever delivered.

Reproduced below, with my emphases, is the full text of the speech that he gave that night. Whatever your feelings about Reagan might be, remember that he said these words fifty years ago- and yet look at how relevant his words are today. All you have to do is change the numbers, and you'll find that the wit, wisdom, and erudition of the great man remain truly ageless.

And one more thing- whenever you hear someone deride Reagan as a fool, a simpleton, or a cowboy, remember that Reagan wrote and re-drafted and refined and honed this speech entirely on his own. These were his words, his ideas, his responsibility, his delivery. And look at what a magnificent job he did.

This man was no fool. He was a genius. And we are only now beginning to understand what a brilliant man he was.

Now, bear witness to the greatness of a good man, who did the best that he could with the time that he was given:



Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks. 
I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, "We've never had it so good." 
But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We've raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we've just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value. 
As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers. 
Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. 
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down: [up] man's old -- old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course. 
In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they've been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, "The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says, "The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state." Or, "Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century." Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us" what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government."

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government" -- this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. 
Now, we have no better example of this than government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming -- that's regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we've spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don't grow. 
Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he'll find out that we've had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He'll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He'll find that they've also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil. 
At the same time, there's been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There's now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore. 
Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how -- who are farmers to know what's best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down. 
Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. 
They've just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed. 
We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? 
But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you'll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we'd be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead. 
Now -- so now we declare "war on poverty," or "You, too, can be a Bobby Baker." Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have -- and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs -- do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We're now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we're going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we're going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency. 
But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who'd come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She's eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who'd already done that very thing. 
Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things -- we're never "for" anything.

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.

Now -- we're for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we've accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. 
But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that. 
A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary -- his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due -- that the cupboard isn't bare? 
Barry Goldwater thinks we can. 
At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we're for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we're against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road. 
In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents worth? 
I think we're for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we're against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we're against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations. 
I think we're for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we're against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We're helping 107. We've spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country. 
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments' programs, once launched, never disappear.

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth. 
Federal employees -- federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work.

Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do. 
But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died -- because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England. 
Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the -- or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.

Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men -- that we're to choose just between two personalities. 
Well what of this man that they would destroy -- and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I've been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I've never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing. 
This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there. 
An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he'd load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load. 
During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. 
And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I've discussed academic, unless we realize we're in a war that must be won.

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer -- not an easy answer -- but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right. 
We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace -- and you can have it in the next second -- surrender. 
Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face -- that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand -- the ultimatum. And what then -- when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we're retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he's heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he'd rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. 
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin -- just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all. 
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance." And this -- this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said, "The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we're spirits -- not animals." And he said, "There's something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty." 
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. 
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

A church failed by its Pope

Contrary to current popular belief within society, not all progress is a Good Thing. Sometimes, progress can be downright dangerous to the very fabric of society. Which is why we need institutions like the Catholic Church to stand against those changes that pose real dangers.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the current head of the Catholic Church doesn't quite seem to understand the point of the organisation that he leads:
Suite 201 at Casa Santa Marta is only a shuttle bus ride from the Vatican’s Synod Hall, but it seems a world away. And in the spartan suite of rooms which he calls home, Pope Francis must be feeling especially cut off from the 252 leading Catholics who took part in his recent Extraordinary Synod.

Under the umbrella theme of “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”, the Pope, his bishops and a few selected laypeople have spent the past fortnight discussing some of the thorniest topics in Catholic doctrine: divorce, gay sex, and birth control. 

Even in a Church characterised by its supporters as proudly unchanging (and by its critics as stubbornly anachronistic), these are divisive issues. And when the new Pope last year took the unexpected step of sending out a survey to all Catholic parishes, asking the faithful for their views on birth control, abortion and divorce, the findings made uncomfortable reading: the Church was as split between traditionalists and modernisers as the Conservative Party was at its lowest ebb.

The analogy may infuriate those who say that the Church is about eternal truths, not party squabbles. But it conveys the rift that polarises the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The “universal” Church embraces the Ugandan homophobe and the Manhattan gay rights campaigner; the mother of six who practises the rhythm method and the feminist divorcee on the Pill.

Pope Francis has long regarded these controversies as distractions that keep his followers from their true mission: helping the poor, comforting the miserable, waging war on greed and consumerism. He has as little time for them as he does for the liturgical and theological quirks that were so prominent in the papacy of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. 
For Francis, sexual mores are not at the heart of the Gospel – and they should not be at the heart of his Church’s ministry. The time had come, he believed, to lower the temperature around these issues. If he could persuade the Church to adopt an attitude of compassion towards divorcees, gays and members of other “irregular” unions, he could shift its focus to what really mattered.

Alas, the Pope chose the wrong vehicle to effect his changes. The Extraordinary Synod not only torpedoed his hopes for a more inclusive Church – it may have derailed his entire mission.

From the moment he swapped the regal apartments to which he was entitled for the no-frills hostel of Santa Marta, Francis sparked speculation about his reforming tendencies. There was talk of a phone call to a woman who, though married to a divorced man, wanted to take Communion. “I don’t see why you should be banned from the Sacrament,” the Pope allegedly told her. He also made headlines when asked about the Church’s attitude to homosexuality: “Who am I to judge?” 
I haven't been on this Earth that long, so I have no real idea what Pope John Paul II was like. Based on everything that I have seen, though, that Pope- now a Saint- was everything that a Pope should be. He was a fearless, tireless crusader against the unnatural and unspeakable evil of Communism. He refused to budge so much as an inch on the subject of proper Christian morality. He never wavered in his compassion for those who truly deserved it- and he was relentless in his condemnation of attempts to bend the doctrines of the Mother Church to suit the fashions of the times.

This current Pope is none of those things. And the Church, and its hundreds of millions of followers, are far poorer for it.

What Pope Francis does not seem to understand- what most Christians don't understand- is that the Word is what it is. The words of the Scriptures leave very little wiggle room on uncomfortable subjects like abortion- see e.g. the Sixth Commandment- and homosexuality- see e.g. Leviticus/Deuteronomy. The Word does not change just because our modern culture, in all of its miserable decadence, has decided that it is Right and Just to allow gays to "marry", and thereby render real marriage hollow and meaningless.

Moreover, this argument over whether the Church should be "all-inclusive" or should cater only to "true" believers is frankly silly. Again, there isn't much ambiguity. The Lord Christ Himself stated with perfect clarity that the Christian way is the hard way. To be a Christian requires devotion and sacrifice and willingness to suffer for one's beliefs. Those who are not willing to suffer for being "different" simply aren't going to make very good Christians. That is the entire point of Christianity- to earn an eternal reprieve from suffering and pain and death through the salvation of God.

Why is it that so-called "modernists" think that eternal truths can somehow be changed or modified? The truth is what it is. The Word says what it says. Through Christ, the world was shown a way to salvation that has sustained Mankind through the hellish darkness of war, famine, plague, and death. And the Pope, as (supposedly) God's chosen emissary on Earth, is there to deliver those truths to Mankind, so that through His agents in the Church, He might help set Man free.

In response to clear-cut questions about whether or not homosexuality is wrong, the current Pope has punted by asking, "Who am I to judge?". Uh, dude, you're the Pope. You are God's instrument on Earth. You are (again, supposedly) infallible. You are the representative of the Supreme Judge of the Universe.

If not you, then who?

The Church exists as a rock of faith, an anchor for countless millions and billions of souls who have sought, and found, comfort and salvation in the words of the Lord. It is a bulwark of morality in a world mired in depravity. It is, ultimately, the last bastion of human decency that is left to us. When all else fails, the Church must stand, for it, and by extension its Pope, was set forth by Christ Himself to protect and serve God's Law.

If the Pope cannot understand these things- which I, as a heathen, seem to understand just fine- then the princes of the Church chose very poorly when they named this man as their king. Indeed, it becomes more plain every day that "Pope" Francis is nothing of the sort- he is merely a man, flawed and fallible and weak in his faith in God. He may have compassion and decency- but, absent the iron will needed to uphold and enforce God's Laws, he is nothing more than a puppet on the throne of St. Peter.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Just get the snip, man...

Apparently even big Hollywood stars need to be reminded of the dangers of baby jail:
Jude Law, 41, stunned fans today when he revealed he is set to become a father for the fifth time. 
Upcoming singer/songwriter Catherine Harding, also known as Cat Cavelli, is the woman expecting his child and is said to be around five months pregnant, a statement given by Law's representative to MailOnline revealed.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a romance with the star and it is understood to have conceived around May/June, while spending six weeks with him on location in the Czech Republic where he was believed to have been filming Spy. The baby will be Law's fifth child, by three different partners. 
A spokesman for the actor said in the statement: 'I can confirm that Jude Law and Catherine Harding are expecting a child together in the spring.

'Whilst they are no longer in a relationship, they are both wholeheartedly committed to raising their child.

'They consider this a private matter and other than this confirmation no statement will be made.
In case you're wondering, this is what Jude Law's latest baby mamma looks like:


Not exactly unattractive. Even with that stupid pose.

Now, let's be clear about this- if you've banged Sadie Frost, Sienna Miller, and a woman who looks like that, along with a long list of other paramours, you don't need game advice from anybody.


But if you've had five children by three women, then you're in the running for the Evander Holyfield Award for Terrible Planning, and the Mohammed Ali Award for Poor Choices.

(Side note: what is it about black athletes making absolutely terrible choices with their personal lives? I'm genuinely curious about this; I don't speak jive or ebonics, and I'm not exactly "up" on hip-hop culture, so I have no idea what it comes down to. Anyone got any reasonably cogent theories? Stick 'em in the comments, let's hear 'em.)

I have nothing whatsoever against a high-status man having sex with beautiful women. If anything, such men are to be admired and emulated for their sociosexual prowess.

However, their lack of personal control and planning is not to be admired.

Think about it. A child is a huge and incredibly important responsibility. A human baby is a completely innocent creature, brought into this world either through the results of fecund love and affection, or, in this case, a total lack of any kind of forward planning. What kind of man- even a wealthy and successful man like Jude Law- consigns his child to bastardy and a life without a strong father figure?

Answer: a highly irresponsible, highly reckless, and not particularly sensible one.

I could easily be wrong. Jude Law might well be a fantastic dad. But, given the historical track record of men who have multiple children by multiple women and then, well, don't commit to any of them, I think we're safe in assuming that this is not the case with Mr. Law.

The lesson for the rest of us men is fairly straightforward. If you're not going to settle down and do things the Christian way early on, by all means, go out there and have fun. Enjoy yourself, and enjoy the women that your pursuits bring you. Such a lifestyle is a legitimate choice and as long as you are willing to accept the sacrifices and demands required to maintain that lifestyle, well, that's entirely up to you.

But don't abuse that lifestyle by bringing innocent life into this world in such tawdry fashion. Get snipped or use protection, at all times.

Be honest with yourself and with society; if you know that you're not fit to be, at minimum, a committed and loving parent, and if on top of that you are not prepared to be a partner to the woman who conceived and carried your child, then you are being wantonly foolish and must be held to account for your stupidity. There is absolutely no good reason why the consequences of your foolhardy stupidity should be visited upon your child.

And of course, there's the economic argument. A vasectomy is cheap, simple, easy to procure, and (mostly) reversible if you're crazy enough desperate ready to settle down with a good (enough) woman. (Who hopefully likes dogs. Proper, big dogs. Not those stupid mutated rats that we call "chihuahuas".)

A baby, by contrast, is really damned expensive. Even for a Hollywood movie star. I'm told- since I don't have children, I can't comment on the veracity of this- that babies are Very Very Costly and can take up Significant Amounts of Resources. They also take anywhere between 15 and 25 years to train to the point where they are self-sufficient and can be relied upon to make decisions for themselves without causing themselves and others severe bodily and/or emotional harm.

(Again, so I am told.)

So, if you're like Jude Law and you like a good roll in the hay with a beautiful woman, but don't have the wit, the will, or the wisdom to be a good and committed father and husband, just get snipped and save yourself, your child, and the rest of society a LOT of time, trouble, and expense.

Call Rentokil

If this is what they're finding in the Amazon rainforest these days, then the illegal loggers who are wiping out that forest bloody well need to HURRY THE F*** UP:


What, in the name of all that is holy, is that idiot doing with his HAND next to that monster?!? Most sane and sensible people- a phylum of which this particular berk is plainly not a member- would have run screaming for the nearest can of weapons-grade insecticide.

One is left to wonder what other Lovecraftian horrors remain to be spewed from the bowels of the world's rainforests and jungles. Think about it. Sub-Saharan Africa gave us Ebola; India gave us the Indian cobra; and now the Amazon, which appears to be second only to Australia in terms of pants-crappingly huge and lethal fauna, has given us that... thing.

I tend to be pretty anti-ecomentalist even at the best of times. Stories like this make me think that the absolute best thing we could do for our future as a species would be to turn every rainforest into a biohazard zone.

"Mummy! The big mean boys are picking on me again!!!"

An 18-time tennis Grand Slam champion- no, not the really great one, the other one- takes exception to the comments by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation about her and her sister:
Shamil Tarpischev was also fined $25,000 for making the comments on Russian television. He also said the sisters were ''scary'' to look at. 
''I think the WTA did a great job of taking (the) initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,'' Williams said Sunday in Singapore ahead of her WTA Finals defense. ''I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying. '' 
Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was ''a humorous show.'' When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: ''I can't comment. I don't understand it.'' 
In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any ''malicious intent'' and said his quotes had been taken out of context. 
The WTA said it would seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament, which ends Sunday. 
Russia's Maria Sharapova, also in Singapore for the WTA Finals, condemned her compatriot's comments. 
''I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I'm glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee,'' she said. 
Tarpischev has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia's only WTA event, for all of its 18 years as a women's tour event, and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. During the 1990s, he was the personal tennis coach to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as his adviser on sports matters. 
He made his comments during an appearance on a Russian talk show this month alongside former Olympic singles champion Elena Dementieva. When Dementieva was asked what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev interjected and called them the ''Williams brothers.'' He also said that ''it's scary when you really look at them.''

Williams, the world number 1 at the age of 33, is going into the WTA Finals on the back of another stellar year, winning six titles including the US Open. But she pulled out of the China Open earlier this month with a knee injury, triggering some concerns she might not make the Singapore.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sound demonstration in the difference in the way that men and women deal with snide comments.

A man- one with actual genitalia, anyway- would deal with these comments by taking a page from the Vox Day school of dealing with idiots and either ignore them, or cordially invite them to an MMA cage match. (I wish I could find the link to that post- it had something to do with that whole JournoList thing a few years back.)

A woman, or an effeminate and weak man, deals with asinine comments by running to the nearest organisation that polices such things and begs them to censor such criticisms.

Now, let me say at this point that personally, I DO NOT like Serena Williams's playing style. There is no finesse or grace about it. She grunts- roars, really- whenever she hits the ball, and if you've ever had to listen to a women's tennis match in the last, oh, 15 years, you'll know what I mean when I say that you cannot watch it with the volume up. If you do, your neighbours will be asking some very awkward questions about your sexual proclivities. And a lot of that is because of Serena Williams and Maria Shrieka Sharapova.

And her sister, Venus, isn't very much better- other than the fact that she hasn't won nearly as many titles, of course.

But calling them "brothers" is a bit beyond the pale- though not, however, for the reasons you might be thinking. I don't care whether or not it's sexist or racist or whatever-ist to call the Williams sisters "brothers"- I do care whether or not these two could actually hold their own against men, and thereby merit comparison with men.

And on that subject, the answer is a clear and resounding NO.

You see, early on in their careers as tennis players, the Williams sisters claimed that they could beat any man ranked as low as 200 in the world. A bloke ranked at 203 at the time decided to take them on. He took the challenge as a bit of larf... which is why he showed up to the match having played a round of golf, and drunk a few drinks.

He proceeded to beat Serena Williams 6-1.

And that was after he took roughly 50% off his first serve. Remember, this is a guy ranked at below 200 in the world.

He then beat Venus Williams- who if I remember from back then was actually the better player of the two sisters at the time- 6-2.

(I'm not making up one word of this. It is all absolutely true.)

Now, admittedly, neither woman was really trying. It was all a bit of a giggle. But in reality, if the Williams sisters ever tried to take on, say, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer, or- saints preserve them- Rafael Nadal, they'd be destroyed. Game, set, and match. Personally, I think this would happen against almost any man in the top 50 in current men's tennis.

So, yes, it's certainly a bit ridiculous to call those two the Williams "brothers"- because to do so requires that they be held up to a male standard of performance, and that's one that they cannot match.

It's very difficult to take the Williams sisters seriously as "exemplars" of women's tennis when, every time some bloke with more mouth than sense decides to criticise their (admittedly annoying) playing styles, they run to the nearest governing body with a complaint. If you're going to be the best player in the world in tennis, and you're going to do it with a game that is as physical and, frankly, as lacking in finesse and artistry as that of the Williams sisters, then don't be surprised if people criticise you for it.

The Williams sisters should have reacted to this bit of silliness with simple class- shrug it off, get on with life, and silence critics by simply being the best at what they do. Instead, Serena decided to make a mountain out of a molehill, and diminished herself and her sister in the process.