Category Archive: These Are The Crazy Years

9/11 again

And I find that I’m having a harder time caring this year.  Oh, sure, I can and do still empathize with those who lost loved ones, and I’m still angry that anyone could actually be heartless enough to plan and execute such an attack (and damn glad the main pig-fucker is dead and tossed to the sharks).  It’s our increasingly-feeble response to 9/11 that I’m having a harder time caring about.

For all the initial calls to find the bastards and destroy them utterly, here we are, 16 years later, still playing whack-a-mole with the RIFs.  Of course for at least eight of those years, we weren’t serious about it, thanks to our unlamentedly-former so-called president.  And the guy before him, much as I liked the cut of his jib at the time, frankly didn’t go about it right.  (If he’d studied his father’s response to the invasion of Kuwait more closely, we’d have been a lot better off.)  And I’ll never forgive the guy before him for not taking Osama’s head when it was offered to him on a plate.  But I digress.

It was my great privilege to meet Harry Truman’s oldest grandson last Friday night.  Clifton Truman Daniel is a great man and a great American, and for all that he’s an antiwar no-nukes type, he is at least rational about it.  Hell, I even agree with him; I’d prefer never to see such weapons used in anger again.  On the other hand, you maintain the peace by preparing for war.

The point is, Mr. Daniel demonstrated that he fully and completely understood his Grandpa.  “Grandpa never reconsidered his decision to use the bombs.  His decision was based solely on the premise that doing so would save American lives.”*

How’s that old song go?  “Mister, we could use a man like Harry Truman again.”**  Because America isn’t Sally Field; we don’t really care if the world likes us.  We want the world to respect us sufficiently to fear our response if someone tries to pull something like 9/11 again.  That we are currently being threatened by a North Korean Louse That Roared with nuclear devastation and/or EMP attack only points up the fact that our leaders have been unserious in this endeavor.  For what it’s worth, it appears that President Trump is deadly serious about it, and the fat boy hasn’t yet actually achieved an understanding of that fact.  Which may end up being very messy, but when you kick the can down the road for 25 years, sooner or later it’s going to come to rest in an uncomfortable place, which it now has pretty much done.

The real lesson and legacy of 9/11 is that nobody is our friend, and we need to start acting accordingly.  Donald Trump and certain members of his administration get it.  Many Americans are tired of all the putzing around and want action.  To be entirely honest, I originally wrote “and closure”, but I think Americans would be willing to support a long-term general cleanup of the asshole of the world if it had clearly-stated intentions and goals.  There’s only one problem with that.

The problem with America (note, “America”, not “Americans”) doing anything long-term is that we have these minor revolutions every couple of years that we call elections.  So everything we do is circumscribed by the two- and four-year election cycles.  George W. Bush found that out in 2006, and in a way, thank goodness, because we hung around in Iraq too long and were doing too many things wrong there.***  We could fix that problem, of course, at the cost of more of our already circumscribed essential liberties.  Or we could fix it by simply deciding, as a people, that we have the power to make the world be the way we want it to be, and dedicating our lives and treasure to that end — much as did the Romans.

As for the rest of the world, well, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  I’m not particularly interested in their opinion and neither should you be.

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* Paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the essence of what he said in response to a question from the audience after his talk.

** Yeah, I know.

*** His daddy had the right idea — kick ass, take names, then get the hell out — but didn’t hang tough quite long enough.  The true end game in Gulf War I should have been Saddam dead or in a jail cell.  Instead, that wound festered for another ten years and resulted in another war.  On the other hand, who knew what might have replaced Saddam.

Of course, Jerry Pournelle (PBUH) for many years opined that we should have instituted a Legionary Corps and literally settled legionary troops there much like the Romans did when they extended their frontiers.  With 25 years’ worth of 20/20 hindsight, I have to wonder if that wasn’t a better solution.  Although today I’d be inclined to simply hand the keys to the Kurds and say, “It’s all yours, boys.  Call us when you need air strikes or more ammo.”

It’s not climate change.

A friend posted something about Houston on Facebook and actually implied that Harvey proved the case for climate change.

Neglecting the fact that a major hurricane has not hit the United States since Katrina, 12 years ago.*

Neglecting the fact that hurricanes aren’t driven by climate, they’re driven by weather.  If you don’t have a deep low pressure zone over warm water, you don’t generate a hurricane.  But that is completely and totally dependent on the chaotic system known as “weather”, that the experts in the field can’t even predict accurately more than about 12 hours out, let alone your lazy ass that looks at the outdoor thermometer for the last week or so and gasps, “OMG it’s global climate change!  It’s August (or now September) and it’s still summer and it’s ONLY 70 degrees!” without bothering to look at the latest NOAA surface analysis map (as if you took the junior-level Weather and Climate class from Prof Tom many years ago and actually know what all those squiggly lines mean) to find out why that might be.**

Climate is what we expect.  Weather is what we get, and it doesn’t always track with climatic expectations.

And still nobody on the Chicken Little side of the climate debate has explained why all the “warming” they saw suddenly stopped in 1997 and hasn’t started back up since.  (Oh, sure, they keep adjusting the models and fudging the data, but the models don’t jibe with what we see and we all know the data is being fudged.)

And nobody — but nobody — wants to admit that the solar cycle has anything at all to do with that, even with us going into one of the deepest solar minimums since the Maunder or the Dalton. No, the big hydrogen fusion furnace in the sky that burns your skin if you stay out in it too long has nothing to do with temperature on earth.  Y’all just keep believing that.

And keep believing that increased atmospheric CO2 means increased atmospheric heating, when actual research shows that CO2 gets released during cooling cycles, and trapped during warming cycles.  It’s almost as if the planet has a thermostat.  Oh, wait.

The fact is that the human race has seen warmer times and colder times.  Indeed, when I was in high school, Al Gore was ranting about global cooling, with just about as much reason to pay attention to him then as there is now, i.e., none.  But let’s face it:  Around the turn of the first millennium, the Vikings named their colony in eastern Canada “Vinland”.  Because they fucking grew grapevines there and were making wine, that’s why.  And as another friend of mine who is another global warming advocate (and ought to be smart enough to know better) keeps pointing out to me, there are ancient farmsteads being uncovered by melting ice in Greenland, another Viking haunt from about the same period of history.

Is it possible that we’re just living during a period when the natural variation either way just seems like it might be catastrophic?  There are stories of winter festivals held on the iced-over Thames River in London during the “Little Ice Age” (1645-1715) coincident with the Maunder Minimum.  (The Thames, for those of you who aren’t keeping up, doesn’t freeze in the winter these days.  Neither does the Hudson or Long Island Sound in New York, but both did in 1780 — the winter of Valley Forge — and the British troops rolled cannon across them to Staten Island to defend it from American partisans who were sneaking across the river to attack them.)

The US was just getting a good start when the Dalton Minimum hit in 1790. and winters turned awful until around 1830.  Have you ever read any good stories about pioneering in the Midwest during the Northwest Territories period?  Look what they have to say about the winters.  Hint:  They were nasty.  And the New Madrid fault famously cut loose during the depths of winter right in the middle of it, 1811-1812, probably making folks in proto-Illinois and proto-Indiana even more miserable than they already were.

Conversely, the Romans at their height lived through a warm era that probably fostered the growth of their empire.  It’s called the Roman Warm Period. You or Al Gore could look it up.  And there was another warm period later called the Medieval Warm Period that might have had a lot to do with the Renaissance.  You or Al Gore could look that up, too.  That one coincides with the Vinland colonization, by the way.

But you try to make that sort of logical argument these days, and the Luddites put you in the stocks and throw rotten vegetables at your head.  Or the virtual equivalent thereof.

Won’t they all be disappointed when it all works out just fine.

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* And never mind that another one is bearing down on either Florida, or the Carolinas, or the Gulf, or somewhere (the models — remember what I said about models? — disagree fairly violently) even as we speak.  To all my friends in Florida, hang in there; we’re thinking of you.

** Your concept of that sort of map may well be along the lines of, “Weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be compared to a Mexican high, ha ha ha.”

That slippery slope is going to be quite a ride.

A friend noted that one of our local television stations had prematurely labeled church vandalism (Nazi-esque, pro-Donald Trump graffiti spray-painted on the exterior) in a southern Indiana county last February as a “hate crime”, prior to discovering that, in fact, the church organist vandalized the building as a protest against Donald Trump.

Talk about egg on their face.  But, nah, let’s talk about “hate crimes” instead.

On some level, all crimes are potentially hate crimes. Designating certain types of crimes as official hate crimes under law is an exercise in legislative opinion (and as a primarily-political opinion, it makes for bad law). It’s all well and good to fix in law that vandalism of a religious property is a hate crime, to be prosecuted with special attention to the mental state of the perpetrator; but once you have designated one thing as a hate crime, you’ve got a foot stuck in the door to eventually broadening the definition of a hate crime. And we’re already headed down that slippery slope, with “thoughtcrime” already being sanctioned, however unofficially, by the media and by various Internet services like Facebook and Twitter.

And you thought 1984 was just a book.  “Two-Minutes Hate,” anyone?

I, for one, strongly believe that tearing down Confederate memorials is a hate crime. Not because I hold any brief for slavery, or for the rebels and their ill-conceived secession and the war it engendered, but because to destroy or remove these monuments destroys our national history out of no emotion other than hatred for that history. As an historian, I strongly believe that we MUST embrace our history honestly, warts and all, and not try to erase the “uncomfortable” parts just to make ourselves feel better.

On the other hand, there are people out there who believe the opinion I just expressed is itself a hate crime. The next thing we know, it may become a hate crime to express opinions that are out of the mainstream.*  If you think that’s impossible, don’t think the First Amendment will protect us from that; remember, the Second Amendment is very clear that the right to bear arms is not to be infringed, yet there exists a multitude of local, state, and federal laws that significantly infringe the right. Legislators can always find a way to get around the Bill of Rights, and with the right (meaning the left) judges in place, they can take away God-given rights we have long thought inviolable.

Don’t be so quick to label anything as a hate crime. Or at least, wait until the investigation is complete and the facts of the case have been made public. Remember that a lie can make it around the world twice while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

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* Oh, wait — as I pointed out, it already is, on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s not moral relativism to blame both sides.

I was accused of moral relativism on Facebook when I stated that both sides were to blame in Charlottesville.  This was supposedly because, by blaming both sides equally, I was entirely absolving one side from blame in the death of the young woman who was struck by the jerk in the car.

I can’t parse that, and you probably can’t either.  To me, that young woman would still be alive today if both sides had stayed the hell home.  There is indeed blame on both sides.  Both sides are full of hate and both sides espouse hate.  That one side in this particular contretemps espouses hate against non-whites, and the other side espouses hate against those who hate non-whites, seems immaterial to me.  Either side is as bad as the other.

After all, the SS blackshirts were just as bad as the SA brownshirts whom they destroyed.  But that’s history, after all, and not many people actually learn history anymore.  But the analogy holds.

I was so assaulted because I dared (in this person’s opinion, anyway) to diminish the culpability of the white supremacists who, after all, started it all by having their protest in the first place.  However, I suspect the real reason for this assault on my integrity is merely because the person who did so is a rabid neverTrumper who will never back down from his now-untenable position; I mean, come on, the guy was elected and he’s president, and he’s not a Nazi.  And by insisting that I’m letting the Nazis off by including antifa in the mix, this person is implicitly stating that antifa bears no blame whatsoever.  Does he support antifa?  I’m going to guess he’d be horrified if someone told him that.  But that’s what he’s doing by claiming it’s moral relativism to blame antifa equally with the Nazi group for the death of that young woman.

As I told him repeatedly, if antifa hadn’t shown up, that young woman would still be alive.  But it would have been even better if neither side had shown up at all.

However, the main point this person misses in the process of being all het up about spreading the blame around is that any culpability for the young woman’s death is not placed on the group — it’s placed on the person who actually ran that car down the street and killed her with it.  And that’s an important point.

In our system, the group to which that young fool belonged won’t be on trial anywhere except in the court of public opinion.  The court of law that will try said young fool for vehicular homicide isn’t going to be interested in his political views, or what hate group he happens to belong to — they will be concerned only with his disregard for the law and the consequences of that disregard.  And that is because our courts are courts of law, not courts of political justice.

Make no mistake — antifa would like nothing better than for our courts to become courts of political justice, wherein they could, in Stalinesque show trials, condemn the 1% to death and then start in on the bourgeois middle class.  Which is why I oppose antifa as much as I oppose asshole white supremacists who dress up in swastika-festooned clothing, wave the swastika flag, and play at being National Socialists just like the bunch of pin-headed, slack-jawed wanna-be Hitler Youth they are.

These two groups are two sides of the same adulterated coin.  National Socialists vs. International Socialists.  All left-wing, no matter how hard the left tries to push them off on the right (the soi-disant “alt-right” being little more than a fabrication of feverish brains on the left side of the spectrum).  All of the repugnant ideologies on parade last weekend, nay, since it became clear that Donald Trump was a serious threat to Hillary Clinton’s coronation, originated on the left.  The KKK?  A left-wing Democrat institution for many, many years.  Fascists and Nazis were both leftists, and made no bones about being leftists, despite generations of Gramscian historians who have tried to frame them as being phenomena of the far-right.  Black Lives Matter?  Left-wing anarchists with a desire to destroy the police as a force for civil order.  Name a disruptive domestic terrorist group that has been in the ascendant in the past two or three years, and every one of them is a tool of the left.  Hell, even the Southern Poverty Law Center has become a leftist tool of destruction, by tarring innocent and well-meaning right-wing organizations with the “hate group” moniker.

And they are all to blame for what happened last weekend.  Because they have weakened the social structure of this country to the point where such things not only can happen, they are happening — with great regularity.

What is most alarming about this is that the number of people actually involved in these actions is tiny in comparison to the rest of the country.  In other words, we could easily scrum ’em if we chose to.

I fear we’re coming to that.  And sooner than we think.  It’s going to be messy.

And there won’t be a damn thing that’s morally relative about it.

Hell, yes.

“[S]ize matters, and Silicon Valley’s giants are just too darn big. Time to chop them up like old Ma Bell. Let’s apply the antitrust laws that were made for taming just these types of octopod monopolies. For example, Google and Facebook’s tentacles have slithered into every corner of the web and strangled the competition. There was a word for that back in the day – what was it? Oh, yeah. ‘Monopoly.'”

Kurt Schlichter: On fire.

And by the way, the same could be said for monolithic media companies like Gannett, too. When everybody’s “local” newspaper is being run by the same company in Tyson’s Corner, VA, copyediting and composition occurs at a central facility in another city two hours down the road, and the local reportorial staff has shrunk to nearly nothing, what level of independent journalism is actually left?

You’re sure as hell not going to get anything like the crusading style that used to keep local government on its toes instead of sitting back dumb and happy while the tax revenues roll in and the local fat cats get fatter. This is how outrageous billion-dollar stadium deals and 10-year bribes, er, property tax abatements, to entice companies to relocate to your city happen with little to no public comment, even as property and other taxes (like the county option tax) keep rising steadily as the years go by.

Case in point: How does the mayor of Carmel, Indiana, keep getting re-elected? He’s destroyed traffic patterns throughout Clay Township, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure and grand architecture that I don’t think anybody up there has a clue how it’s all going to be paid for, and to hear people talk, everybody hates him — but they keep voting for him anyway. A good, crusading local newspaper might have chucked a spanner into Brainard’s gears before now, but Carmel hasn’t got one, and the Gannett Star isn’t going to worry itself over what goes on in the next county.

Break ’em up. Go back to local control of media.

Fuck that defeatist shit.

The defeatist bullshit I’ve been reading on Facebook ever since the election has reached a breaking point.

The assholes in Charlottesville yesterday do not represent the vast majority of good, non-bigoted Americans who are just trying to make it through life. In fact, they do not represent America at all.

I just read a post from an old fart like me who has, to all intents and purposes, given up and decided to watch it burn while sitting back and wishing the next generation the best of luck.

Well, to hell with you, old man. My father and uncles didn’t spend several years on a European shooting vacation so I could sit back in my old age watching everything they held dear collapse around me. I have skin in the game — two lovely grandchildren who will have to grow up in the world you’re happy to watch crumble. Well, fuck that. Wake up and fight the future, you unmitigated pussy.  What the hell are you afraid of?  Dying?  That’s coming anyway.

The world does NOT end with our death. Other people have to live in it.  So, why not fight on to the end?  It’s what we were made to do, not to go quietly into that dark night while, unopposed, the forces of evil claim the field.

Publishers are idiots.

SF novels published on Kindle that cost $13.99 are nothing short of insanity.  There is nothing special about such expensive novels; they’re no longer than any other novel, they don’t have “extras” like (say) a Blu-Ray movie does, and often they don’t even have a full-sized copy of the cover bundled in.  And any illustrations from the print edition, if included, are often poorly-reproduced.

There are many self-published SF authors charging $3.99 and $4.99 for full-length novels that are just as good or better than the crap coming out of Tor or Macmillan or Penguin, which Amazon can’t discount because “the price was set by the publisher”.  And often the Kindle price is double or more the price of the mass-market paperback edition (I rarely buy hardback SF, or even trade paperback, because again, too fucking expensive).

The major publishers are trying to squeeze hardback price out of something they’ve already put into electronic format to print.  It ain’t that hard to reformat for Kindle; even a guy like me can do it, with something like Calibre.  So for a work product that has nearly no work* in it, and as such is as near to being pure profit as anything in the world, they’re going to try to stick readers who prefer e-books with full paperback production price.

I don’t think so.  In fact, I’ve often waited over a year after publication of certain series that I follow for the price to come down after the mass-market paperback is issued.  One example, George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series.  I read the first two and politely said “no thanks” when the third one came up at some horrendous hardback level price — and I’ve never gone back to see if the price went down, because I found plenty else to read at affordable prices.  I’m happy to go back and re-read stuff I already own, or grab something off of Gutenberg, or buy indie.

(And yeah, this is coming from the guy who spent over $200 purchasing the 20-novel Aubrey-Maturin series some years ago — but, fooled ya!  About half of that was from a gift card I got from my in-laws.  So it wasn’t “my” money.  And I’ve read the entire series front to back three or four times since.)

The big publishing houses have a problem — the rise of independent self-publishing at a fraction of their inflated prices — and they’re not handling it well.  They should remember what happened to the buggy-whip makers.

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* Of course, I don’t mean the author’s work.  I mean the publishing house’s work, that they had to do anyway to put the book in print in the first place.  E-books for big publishers are pretty much an afterthought, and it often shows in the formatting.

And the response from the left? *crickets*

You know what irks me more than anything else about the Scalise assassination attempt?

None of my liberal friends have explicitly disowned or condemned what happened yesterday. Except for a few non-specific posts about sadness that people can be evil, I’ve seen nothing on the left like the posts I’ve seen on the right.

No human being should be anything but outraged about what happened on that ball field yesterday. I used to think that was a universal moral imperative. Now I’m not so sure the other side believes in moral anything anymore.

If the left wants to be taken seriously in the future, it needs to step up, condemn this violence, and start disowning antifa and BLM and all the other lefty hate groups they’ve allowed to spring up.

The left can spend all day pointing fingers at what they claim is a neo-Nazi, neo-Fascist fringe right (which is hilarious, because real Nazis and Fascists were socialists, as I have pointed out numerous times on this blog), but the fact is that nobody on the right is going around tearing up college campuses, play-acting presidential assassinations, and now shooting politicians for no reason other than that they are Republicans. We’re on a slippery slope to escalation right now, and all the left is doing with their hippie tears is greasing the ways to general insurrection. Hope they can live with that when it matures into open warfare.

And if any of my left wing friends read this and become angry, tough toenails. You own this mess because you couldn’t accept the results of an election that proved the country really didn’t want your fundamental transformation. Don’t try to shift the blame off on people who just want to be left alone and get on with their lives.

My biggest problem with the left at the moment, though, is that they don’t seem to realize how much damage they’re doing to their own party’s legitimacy. They need to consider very carefully what is going on in the hearts and minds of the silent majority who were responsible for Donald Trump’s election. The actions of the left — or more to the point, their inaction in stopping the political and actual violence taking place in their name — only cements the desire in the hearts and minds of the silent to throw more of them to the curb. While some may consider that a good thing, I don’t. Tension between left and right is healthy in a democratic republic. The actions of the fringe left coupled with the inaction of the soi-disant “moderate” left threatens that tension and thereby threatens the very fabric of the Republic. For that reason alone, the left has a vested interest in controlling their run-wild fringe before they bring down all before them.

You want more Trump? Because…oh, you know the drill.

Well…that’s how you get more Trump.

Steve Scalise, aide shot in Virginia

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told Fox News he left just before the shooting. As he walked to his car, a man asked DeSantis if it was Republicans or Democrats practicing. About three minutes later, at around 7:15 a.m. the shooting began, DeSantis said. It reportedly last about 10 minutes.

All y’all on the left really need to start policing your folks better. The violence and threats aren’t coming from our side, and even under your Anointed One, the right always promptly disavowed anyone who talked this kind of smack.

The left has never apologized for this kind of thing, though, or done much to prevent it from escalating, and I doubt it will start now.

If the left had an actual leader who would step up and vociferously condemn what is going on, that person might actually have a chance in 2020. But the “leaders” on the left are too busy trashing Trump and trying to find ways to block his agenda.

I have said it before and I will say it again: I am not a huge Trump fan, but this kind of behavior is precisely what got Trump elected, and to let it go on continues to damage the Democrats more and more. The silent majority is not happy right now, and as we saw in 2016, plenty of them vote, and they are pretty much unpollable because they won’t talk to pollsters, whom they tend to view as slanted and dishonest. And that’s how you get an election where it’s supposedly Hillary in a walk, and then instead you get Trump as a complete surprise to the media and the establishment — but not to the people who are sick and tired of the status quo in Washington.

Ben Sasse said it best in his maiden speech in the Senate: “The people despise us all.” And he was and remains 100% correct.

The folks out there who are whinging about how Weimar-esque the US is starting to look (and that includes some folks on the right — it’s a theme that comes up regularly at Instapundit, for instance) don’t seem to understand that, contra Santayana, history really doesn’t repeat itself; it merely repeats overarching themes.  There will be no American Hitler, because the silent majority remains well-armed and unwilling to kowtow to anyone who bids fair to take those arms (and the rights they protect) away.  There may be hard and bad times coming in America, but a true dystopia seems to me to be pretty unlikely.  And of course, it will never be as bad here as it will be in the rest of the world, given it’s still true that when America gets the sniffles, the rest of the world catches cold — or worse.

The American spirit still lives in a lot of Americans.  As much crap as I throw at GenX, GenY, and millennials, there are plenty of patriots in those groups as well.  These Americans may not speak out or make their true feelings known until the feces truly impact the turbine, but they will step up when their country needs them.  Count on it.

Despite the worst the Democrats could do to us, we shrugged off a Great Depression and won a World War.  What we have today isn’t nearly what our parents and grandparents had.

We can prevail — but we need to put a stop to the turbulence on the left that is being driven by a completely irrational hatred of Donald Trump, capitalism, and classical liberal conservatism.  Put bluntly, the left wants to destroy our country, or “fundamentally transform” it as their Anointed One put it.

But there’s still a lot of us out here who have no interest in being transformed, either fundamentally or otherwise.  The left should fear us.

That they don’t — yet — speaks volumes.

Green is about control, not about efficiency.

From an away game:

Efficiency is a wonderful thing, but eventually you reach the point of diminishing returns.

Our air today in the US is cleaner than it has been at any time in our industrial history. You simply can’t burn coal or petroleum products any cleaner without a huge investment in technologies that produce smaller and smaller returns with every new generation. Our water today is also cleaner than it has been since the Industrial Revolution, for similar reasons. (The main issue with water today is overuse, not purity. If we don’t start refilling aquifiers pretty soon, we’re going to be in trouble.)

Yet the rest of the world (particularly the developing part, and I’m looking at you, China) continues to use old technologies that pollute the air and the water at rates higher than the US did at any time in my lifetime.

If you want clean and green power, you’d better be considering nuclear, or you’re not serious about operating a high-tech civilization. Today’s nuclear power is not Three Mile Island (which accident, by the way, has always been overhyped by the green left anyway).

If you want clean and green water, stop letting the EPA do things like what it did to the Animas River last year and then get away scot free. And if you want water at all in another couple of decades, start paying more attention to how water is used by farmers and industry, rather than making me flush a “low-flow” toilet four times where I could flush one of the old ones in my home once.

Remember, all these efficiencies are being forced on us by people who think they know better than we do, primarily for the purpose of obtaining and maintaining control, not because tiny improvements costing billions of dollars in new infrastructure and damage to the economy are actually doing us any real and lasting good.

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