"White Rabbit" (opens in separate window)

a fairy story

friday, september 3rd, 2021

Once upon a time in a prosperous land, a rumor swept across the kingdom that there was an invisible vapor floating through the air. Many vapors had come before, but this one was so extraordinary, it called for an extraordinary response.

[FULL TITLE: "The Vapor, the Hot Hat, & the Witches’ Potion."]

This vapor, the town criers cried, could kill you at any time, anywhere. You could get it by talking, breathing, or singing. You could get it by standing or walking too closely to someone. You could even get it by playing. And the scariest thing of all – you could get it and not even know you had it.

The only way to escape was to hide indoors, keep away from people, and rub your hands with a clear jelly every time you touched something. Merchants stopped trading, apprentices stopped learning, and people stopped seeing people.

Every day, the town criers yelled out the number of people who had caught the vapor, although most didn’t know it since they felt the same as usual – just a lot more scared. They only learned they had it because of a certain spell a sorcerer had written down before the vapor came.

The sorcerer had said it wasn’t supposed to be cast for vapors and couldn’t tell people if they had caught a vapor or not. But the sorcerer had died, and the king’s counselors decided to cast the spell, anyway, and that is how people found out they had the vapor.

The town criers shouted the latest death tolls so often their voices grew hoarse. Almost every one who died was very, very old or very, very sick or very, very fat. Hardly anyone else died, and at the end of the year, it would turn out about the same number had died as had in other years.

Still, it was a very scary vapor, and the entire kingdom had to change for the good of the public. The land was no longer prosperous, but the king just minted more coins and tossed them out to his subjects so they wouldn’t notice right away.

Eventually, people were told they could come out of hiding and the marketplace could open back up if everyone followed a few rules.

They had to wear a hot, scratchy hat that covered their ears and eyes so the vapor couldn’t get into their earholes or eyeholes. They had to hop five times forward and five times backward if they accidentally got too close to another person. And, of course, they had to rub their hands with jelly after touching anything.

Some people thought the hats looked silly and were even a little dangerous since they made it hard for them to hear and see and made them sweat in the summer. The hopping took so much time, people weren’t able to get much done.

When those people didn’t wear the hats or hop around, the rest of the people got very, very angry and said it was their fault people were dying and getting sick and couldn’t live the way they used to live. Some even took to wearing two or more hats for extra protection against the anti-hatters and anti-hoppers.

Every so often, the king would tell people to hide back inside again because too many people were catching the vapor. They couldn’t work or shop or visit people they loved. There wasn’t much to do besides lie around listening to the town criers, who always let people know how scared and angry and resentful they should all feel, especially toward the anti-hatters and anti-hoppers.

Suddenly, people started feeling more hopeful. A few witches who were richer than all the world’s kingdoms and queendoms combined offered to make a potion people would need to swallow every so often to keep them safe from the vapor—but it would only work if everyone drank it together.

It took a few months, but eventually the witches each had their own flavor—grape and orange and tropical punch—and they were ready to pour them into people’s mouths. Whenever potions had been made in the past, the witches had had to spend years and years making sure it was safe before giving it to people.

This time, though, the vapor was so scary, they skipped all those steps so people could be saved sooner. They even got the king to issue a special decree so no one could hurt the witches if anything bad happened to them after drinking the potion.

The king gathered three-quarters of the coins he had collected from the people that year and presented them to the witches.

Almost everybody couldn’t wait to drink the grape or orange or tropical punch potion. They bragged about going to get it and told everyone after they got their first and second drinks. When they came across someone who didn’t want to drink it, they got very, very cross. The town criers told everyone to yell at the anti-drinkers because it was their fault they couldn’t go back to life like it was before the vapor.

Something strange happened after people started drinking the potion. Some of them caught the vapor, anyway, but that was because it was a version of the vapor the witches hadn’t planned for – still, it was important to drink both doses of the potion because it was better than not drinking them.

To be safe, though, the town criers said they should go back to wearing hot hats and hopping—although most hadn’t stopped to begin with because they were afraid of what would happen if they did (or worse, they might be mistaken for an anti-hatter, anti-hopper, or anti-drinker).

Even stranger, some of the people who had drunk the potion died either right after or not long after drinking it. Unlike the people who died from the vapor, these people were often very, very young or very, very healthy or very, very fit. The town criers never shouted about these deaths. If anyone brought it up, they called them an anti-hatter, anti-hopper, and anti-drinker.

Being an anti-drinker was the worst of all because everyone knows you need to drink to survive. If you’re against drinking the potion, you must surely be against drinking water, too, and we all know you can’t live without drinking water.

Not everyone who drank the potion died. Some just had peculiar things happen to their bodies. They shook all the time or got rare diseases or noticed parts of their bodies stopped working. They were bedridden or lame or hurt in different ways and couldn’t live the way they did before or even after the vapor. The town criers didn’t tell anyone about these people, either.

And then there were the drinkers who felt perfectly fine – for now. The potion had never been tried for longer than a few months, so no one was really sure what would happen in the next year or two or longer. It was also a different kind of potion than anyone had ever drunk before. This potion changed something inside you that could never be undone.

People would also need to drink new versions of the potion every few months, and the king would need to continue giving three-quarters of the kingdom’s coins to the witches forever, or at least as long as the kingdom existed.

All the surviving drinkers were grateful to the witches and thanked them for saving their lives. They proudly displayed a mark on their chin that meant they’d drunk the potion. The ones who’d drunk it twice had two marks.

Those who didn’t have any marks were to blame for the kingdom’s problems. They weren’t permitted to shop in the marketplace or work or apprentice or take part in any public activities. They were shamed and shunned for being a threat to the people of the land.

These people started to feel like they should leave the kingdom, but they weren’t allowed to travel without the double marks, and besides, all the other kingdoms and queendoms were the same as theirs, anyway. There wasn’t anyplace left where people weren’t afraid of the vapor and where they didn’t demand that everyone drink the potion.

Soon, the king decided the anti-drinkers were so dangerous, they would need to be locked in a dungeon until they agreed to drink the potion. They were free to choose whichever flavor they liked. If they decided not to drink, they would simply remain in the dungeon. It was entirely up to them.

One year passed, and then another. There were fewer and fewer people left in the kingdom. Eventually, so few people were left, the king could no longer collect enough coins to pay the witches. The rest of the kingdoms and queendoms around the world were in the same fix. They decided to join together into one king-queendom so they could collect enough coins to buy the potion.

After eight more years passed, there weren’t enough people left in all the world to cover the witches’ dues. The rulers decided everything that belonged to the people now belonged to the king-queendom. The people could still live in their hovels, but they wouldn’t own anything. They could earn their keep through labor – indeed, they might be put to work making the potion!

People no longer needed to decide what they wanted to do or be in life because the king-queendom would decide for them. People didn’t need to pay for anything because all the subjects got equally small amounts of the necessities. Everyone looked the same, acted the same, and thought the same.

Most people didn’t remember what it was like before the vapor. Some didn’t even know there was such a time.

The rulers, on the other hand, never wanted for anything. Nor did their friends, the town criers. The witches were the wealthiest of all—and deservedly so, as they had saved the world from the deadly vapor.

It wasn’t long before there were no more subjects. The rulers, the counselors, the town criers, and the witches had all the earth’s riches to themselves, and they lived happily ever after.

© 8/22/2021 by Margaret Anna Alice, "Off Guardian" blog. (H/T to Pastor Tom.)

A Day In The Life.

Up at 8:30a on Friday, I went thru my finger stick routine to check my BSL (Blood Sugar Level) and recorded it on my Diabetes 2 chart, made coffee and breakfast, had a couple smokes in the semi-cool garage and checked to leftover errands list. It was already 81°, very, very humid, and it would get much worse by mid-afternoon. A ***SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING*** and ***FLASH FLOOD WATCH*** was posted to all the weather channels, and it was forecast to hit 92°, with a Heat Index of 99°, and very heavy t-storms. Not much relief from the past 4-5 days.

After running some errands to Southern York County, I spent part of the afternoon, and much of the shortened evening, watching news upates on Biden's Trashcanistan Disaster. I heard a lot of thunder, saw a lot of dark clouds, but we got very little rainfall. Most was south and west of the York area. I had terrible pain in my right knee and calf, late morning, so I rubbed-in CBD Pain Relief Level-5 Ointment, took a 10mg Valium, turned-off the TV and phone, and fell asleep on the couch for 4hrs, with my right leg elevated. I thought it might be from the Fall Influenza Shot I got Thursday, at Rite Aid, but it wasn't. I used my wooden cane in the condo, to keep my balance. After a light dinner, I watched new episodes of Discovery's "Gold Rush", and called it a day at 9:30p.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

I slept-in until 9:30a on Saturday, and my right knee and calf were still sore. I really didn't need the cane anymore, so I put it back into the Jeep, did the usual morning finger stick, had coffee and an English Muffin for breakfast, and checked the weather and news. I slathered CBD Pain Relief Level-5 Ointment on the knee and calf, laid down on the couch and slept for a few hours, with my leg elevated by pillows. The pain was absent when I was asleep, so I made it an early evening, and unplugged at 9p. Tomorrow is the F-1 Belgian Grand Prix, at 9a.

I also slept-in on Sunday, got up at 9a, made coffee and breakfast, only to find that, when I tuned into ESPN2, the F-1 Belgian GP was red-flagged due to monsoon rain storms, washing over the track and making any kind of racing very dangerous. They did 2 slow laps behind a pace-safety car, and called it a "race", with ½ pts awarded to each driver's total for their F-1 World Championship totals.

High for the very cloudy day was only 78°, but the humidity was oppresasive, and it'll be a like week ahead. I finished-up some lingering paperwork, watched TV, called Sherry and finally had dinner. I saw some of our dead servicemen and women coming home on an Angel Flight, to Andrews Air Force Base. A sad day. I watched Fox News and a couple car shows until 10:30p, then quit for the day.

Volume Is Inversely Proportional To Sincerity.

Up at 7:30a on Monday, it looked like another rainy, cloudy day, but the rain was coming up from the Gulf, courtesy of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida, tomorrow and the next few days. Only 73° outside, but very, very humid, I did the usual finger stick to check my BSL, made coffee and breakfast and had a few smokes in the garage with my beloved Pure Kona Hawaiian Coffee. The sun finally came out around 10a, and it got real steamy. Hey, it's Summer in the Mid-Atlamtic!

I had a couple errands to do, went food shopping at Weis Market and unloaded when I got home. After lunch, I closed-up the condo and stayed-in for the rest of the über-humid day. By dinner, it waa 91° and starting to drop, but I was surprised at the massive t-storm that hit the York area. We'd have rain and t-storms until Friday and Saturday, when temps would finally drop into the mid-70s and the humidity would disappear. Nice. I watched History's "American Pickers" thru the evening, until 10p, then switched-over to Fox news for "Laura" and part of "Gutfeld". Lights out.

Up at 7:15a on Tuesday, it would be a sunny, humid day, until TS Ida started to come thru the York area mid-afternoon and the t-storms would start. I made coffee, did a finger stick, had potato bread toast with orange marmelade, and had a couple smokes in the cool, but humid garage and took my morning 18 pill regimen. I listened to the daily "Chris Plante Show" until 10:30, as usual, and then ran some nearby quick errands. School is already open at a few locations, since I see the yellow buses zooming around after dropping-off the kids.

Is pretending COVID an emergency, killing America? That's what Mass Psychosis is.

After lunch, I took a Lasix (water pill) and had to stay inside for the afternoon, do some computer work and wait for Sherry to get finished at The Tea Room in nearby Hallam, and stop by to visit me. She arrived shortly after 4p, and we had a good time, as usual. She left just after 6, and I had a simple Chicken Salad Sandwich on Croissant, watched Fox News to hear more about hundreds of Americans and our service dogs, that shit-for-brain Joey Bidet left behind in Transcanistan. Drop dead, Biden!

No sign of TS Ida, yet. By 11p, I'd had enough bad news, and watched part of "Gutfeld" for a little levity. I unplugged at 11:45p.

The torrential downpour woke me at 8:15a, on Wednesday, and I checked the back patio's rain gauge to see we'd already had 3¼". I'd moved the Jeep into the garage, last evening, to prevent any debris from the neighbor's 80ft Pin Oak from littering or damaging the vehicle. I made coffee, did the BSL check, got breakfast ready and had a couple smokes in the cool (69°), breezy garage. I tuned into the daily "Chris Plante Show" and decided to stay in for the day. Nothing on my calendar, no errands; besides, I'd taken a Lasix (water pill), and pretty much needed to stay-in for at least the morning. Hard to believe it's already September 1st.

After upping the AC from 73° to 74°, I just relaxed and scanned the weather channels to watch TS Ida move up and thru the York area, into New England. Forecast was for 4-8" of rain, and possible tornadoes. Shit.

Flash Flood Warning

Wednesday, September 1, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday, September 2, 8:00 AM EDT
Source: U.S. National Weather Service, State College, PA
The Flash Flood Warning continues for:
• A portion of central Pennsylvania, including the following areas, Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northern Centre, Northern Clinton, Northern Lycoming, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Southern Centre, Southern Clinton, Southern Lycoming, Sullivan, Union and York.
• Through Thursday morning.
• HAZARD: Life threatening flash flooding. Heavy rain producing flash flooding.
• Heavy to extreme rainfall associated with the remnants of Ida will likely result in significant rapid-onset and inundation flooding. The heaviest rainfall of 4 to 8 inches is expected in the southern portion of the watch area.
• IMPACT: Life threatening flash flooding of creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses. • Considerable river flooding is forecast with several small streams, creeks, and tributaries in the Juniata and Lower Main Stem Susquehanna River basins expected to crest above minor to moderate flood levels early Thursday. A few points could crest above major flood stage.
Turn around, don't drown, when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

I remember Fall 2011's Tropical Storm Lee, when I was still in business, hitting Pennsylvania, and we got 14" of rainfall in just over a day, causing historic flooding in the central, southern and eastern part of the state. I closed the Ol' Garden Center & Nursery for 2 days, until the floods subsided – neither my condo nor business were affected – but it took months to clean-up York and the many surrounding counties. There was over $2.1 Billion in damage.

By 4:30p, my back patio's rain gauge showed 7¼", and it was still raining torrentially, with much more to come, according to AccuWeather.com's maps. I had PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie for dinner, and watched Motor Trend's rerun episodes of "Iron Resurrection", my favorite car show series on TV. Local station, WGAL-TV issued an ***EMERGENCY FLOOD WARNING*** at 6p, first time in their history, so I continued to stay off any roads, and home. By 9:30p, the TS Ida was a mere memory and had passed thru the area. I watched new episodes of Discovery's "Expedition Unknown" until 11, and quit for the night. I'll do a damage/flood tour in the morning. Cleaning ladies in at 8:30a.

Thursday, the Morning After TS Ida. Lots of floding and damage, everywhere. Fortunately, here in the York area, we didn't get any of the tornado activity and home damage; just a mere 9" of rain and lots of flooded streets and roads. I was up at 6a, to re-check my basement and all is OK. The cleaning lady, JoAnne, arrived at 8:30 and finished-up by 11 and left. I just enjoyed the cool day, with condo windows and doors wide open. The fresh air was astounding. After lunch, I napped on the LR couch for 3hrs, did some paperwork and just enjoyed the nice day, for a change. I called Sherry and we made plans for tomorrow. After dinner, I watched Discovery's "Homestead Rescue", FNC's "Tucker", "Laura" and part of "Gutfeld". Lights out.

Tomorrow starts another week here in the "Journal", and it potends to be a decent one in the 70s.

Simple Lesson.

Joe Biden is being roasted for his indefensible handling of the Afghanistan exit. As well he should be. Indeed, his incompetence is so legion that he’s actually getting roasted by a media whose only job appears to be to prop up the Biden regime. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post pilloried him while over at CNN: ‘the debacle of defeat and chaotic retreat in Afghanistan’ is a ‘political disaster’ for President Biden. The Wall Street Journal suggested his statement ‘washing hands’ of Afghanistan ‘is one of most shameful in US history‘.

[FULL TITLE: "The Lesson of Afghanistan is a Simple One, But Probably Not What You Think."]

They’re of course right. This may be the most incompetent diplomatic/military exercise in American history… and it came straight from the Commander in Chief and his incompetent cabal of woke advisors.

Given the tragedy unfolding today, one wonders if Americans will learn the real lesson of Afghanistan. Sure, while one lesson would be to never put a senile incompetent leftist in the position of Commander in Chief, that’s not the real lesson to be learned…

American direct involvement in Afghanistan started out twenty years ago after the attacks of September 11th. It didn’t take long to discover that the Taliban had been giving Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda training bases and a home from which to attack the US. George W. Bush sent troops in to rout them, which was largely accomplished within months. But of course, the troops didn’t come home. They stayed, with the ostensible mission of helping Afghanistan craft a nation that would no longer be a haven for terrorists, and a government unwilling to protect them. We – Americans, not me personally as I did not serve during that time nor in that theater – built roads, schools, bases, buildings, shepherded the writing of a constitution, facilitated elections, and helped form a government with all the trappings of legitimacy. One of the most laudable efforts was help to give girls and women opportunities that they had not seen in Afghanistan in generations.

Of course, the Taliban, while defeated in terms of running the country, never quite went away. They hid in the hills. They hid in Pakistan and actually took parts of it over. They operated under the cover of night and gave a constant reminder that they were never far away.

All of this “progress” cost a great deal, both in terms of money and the lives of brave servicemen. When all is said and done, the United States will have spent somewhere between $1 and $2 trillion seeking to build Afghanistan into a democracy with a functioning military and government. At the same time, 2,500 American service members lost their lives executing that mission.

All for what? Not much, apparently. In just a number of days, the Taliban took over the entire country. The president fled. Americans were airlifted from the roof of the embassy. Girls are now being stolen from their families to be given as wives to Taliban fighters. Those who assisted the Americans and local police are being rounded up and killed. The Afghan military has essentially evaporated, leaving the Taliban in possession of tens of billions of dollars of American-supplied weapons and equipment. Soon the Taliban will bring Afghanistan back to the 7th century, from whence they came. Sharia law. Women in bondage. No freedom. Economic backwater.

The lesson of Afghanistan is not that the United States couldn’t turn The Graveyard of Empires into a thriving democracy, such as our own. That was never in the cards. The American colonies grew up as part of the British Empire and had been marching slowly towards a representative government with individual freedoms for centuries, culminating in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution. Of course, neither of those was the final word and the United States has been evolving towards a More Perfect Union ever since.

Afghanistan doesn’t have anything resembling the history we have. Just the opposite. The nation, to the degree that is actually a nation, exists largely on a map. The people are far more tribal than they are Afghani, and most live lives like those their ancestors lived 1,000 years ago. Nation-building in Afghanistan was always likely to be a failure, whether the United States spent $2 trillion or $20.

And therein lays the lesson of Afghanistan, through the words of Ronald Reagan. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Americans live in the greatest nation in the history of man, one that took literally centuries to get where it is today. It’s far from perfect of course, and it’s always evolving, but the fundamental principles of limited government, individual freedom, and free markets have been guides the entire journey. But because it’s not perfect, the left wants to destroy it. Tear down our Founding Fathers because they didn’t think about 21st century mores when they were busy carving out a new nation. Eliminate free speech because mean words offend vulnerable sensibilities. Eliminate free markets because they do not provide for a perfectly equal distribution of wealth. Divide the country by an endless array of hyphens so that professional victims can identify their “oppressors”.

The freedom that Reagan spoke of, the prosperity the United States has created, and the opportunities Americans enjoy are not predestined. They aren’t written into our DNA, not guaranteed by God, and not irreversible. Just as a generation of Afghanis who grew up in a relatively free nation are about to discover, what is here today is not guaranteed to still be here tomorrow. History is important. Culture is important. Shared values are important.

To the degree that pampered leftists who, in a global sense were born on third and think they hit a triple, want to change the rules of the game called America, change the dimensions of the playing field and change the players in the lineup, they’re playing with fire. They think they know where those changes will lead. They’re wrong. Free speech, and the respect for the free exercise of such, once gone are almost impossible to regain. Private property, once taken, almost never makes it back into the hands of the rightful owners and with it goes free markets and prosperity. Government programs once launched almost never end, and edicts, once written are almost never rescinded. A government unleashed from the constraint of the Bill of Rights will never find its way back into the cage.

Some people know that reality while others clearly don’t. Compare a 25-year-old Afghani woman who is now facing home detention, a burqa for life, and a husband she didn’t choose to a 25-year-old American grad student standing in $300 sneakers holding a $1,000 phone and barking “F the police”. One clearly understands what freedom is while the other wallows in his utopian fantasy utterly clueless of how the world actually works. There’s a reason millions of people risk their lives every year to come to America or literally cling to the wing of a flying plane in order to escape Taliban Afghanistan. It’s called reality.

It would be nice if the left would learn the simple lesson of Afghanistan, that freedom is fleeting and must be prized and protected, but sadly they are unlikely to allow machinations in the real world to intrude on their delusional fantasies.

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