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I am about to set up a new feature on this site, quotations of a pithy nature, to be titled “Laconics of Liberty.” But this passage struck me as a grand example of glorious 19th century exuberance. Not laconic!

Henry A. Wise on John Tyler, first spread of pages of the first chapter, Seven Decades of the Union: The Humanities and Materialism (1872).

“Mr. Mueller should keep his promise to the American people. . . .”

I think government employees should keep their promises to the people they serve, so this statement from White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere does not seem out of line.

What is it all about, though?

Well, special counsel Robert Mueller wrote an infamous report, released early in the year, that failed to establish Trump campaign collaboration with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Last Friday, President Trump did what many thought he would do earlier: grant Roger Stone clemency for his felony convictions — as prosecuted by the Mueller team. And on July 11, Mueller defended himself and especially his team’s prosectuion of Roger Stone) in a special op-ed for the Washington Post.

So, on the 13th, the White House lashed back, saying Mueller should shut up and let his infamous report do all the talking. 

Like he said at the time of the report.

There was a lot of really shady things about the Mueller investigation, and the Stone prosecution and convictions seemed especially iffy, and . . . corrupt. 

Well, depending on who you talked to. 

Everything these days being so partisan that coming to a non-partisan judgment is (a) difficult and (b) almost pointless, since whichever side you come down on, the other will dismiss you.

Politically, clemency for Stone looks like insider dealing to Democrats, and pure justice to Republicans. 

For the rest of us?

Well, Roger Stone remains a character, undoubtedly so, and author of a really “incendiary book,” one that makes a case that LBJ conspired with the Mafia and the CIA to assassinate JFK.

So you can see why certain intel agency insiders (and their Deep State buddies) might have it in for the man.


The interstellar civilization hypothesis (“aliens”) does not exhaust the possibilities for the paranormal sightings of UFOs now having been witnessed by thousands of people for generations on this planet. There are other contenders, which I list below. Note that many of these are only fuzzily distinct. And also note that few of these are more comforting than “aliens.”

Some of the names, below, are standard, while others are my coinages:

  1. The Niburu Hypothesis — the civilization responsible for UFOs is off-planet but from our solar system. Named for Zecheriah Sitchen’s specific theory, but the originary planet could be Venus or Mars or some Jovian moon, obviously, not “Niburu” — and the asteroid belt suggests almost a smoking gun.
  2. The Silurian Hypothesis — the civilization responsible is millions, perhaps billions of years old, but from Earth, and from (perhaps) a non-hominoid genetic line.
  3. The Atlantean Hypothesis — the culpable civilization is human or at least hominid, but from the last or some earlier Ice Age, or interglacial period, with said civilization’s chief structures perhaps buried, dead, under water, and remaining outposts deep underground or on the far side of the Moon.
  4. The Secret Society Hypothesis — the civilization is a breakaway group from a past advanced Holocene efflorescence, but remained underground (perhaps quite literally) or off-planet.
  5. The Secret Society Hypothesis 2 — the breakaway civilization in question developed in more recent centuries, perhaps from Freemasonry or German nationalism (or Nazism), or the American Deep State. See Walter Bosley’s work.
  6. The Heavenly Host Hypothesis — the craft and beings witnessed are from some angelology or pantheon of ancient myth, and perhaps to be understood in a quite religiously orthodox manner. Literally “angels and devils.” We could call this the Principality and Powers Hypothesis.
  7. The Parallel World Hypothesis — the civilization(s) is (are) Terran but from a parallel universe(s) with radically different timelines.
  8. The Perpendicular World Hypothesis — we are dealing with extra-dimensional beings, and the other reality/universe/what-have-you is not Terran or even much at all like our physical reality.
  9. The Perpendicular World Hypothesis 2 — popularly known as the Simulation. It appears to me that this explanation would likely make us NPCs and the UFOs the actual players/controllers.
  10. Time Travelers — with the UFOs run by descendants of ours, possibly machine-based or otherwise artificial.
  11. The Emanationist Hypothesis — with UFOs being projections of a world or solar-system intelligence, perhaps based on electromagnetic fields and solar/planetary interactions.
  12. The Stefnal Fraud Hypothesis — the whole subject area is a fraud perpetrated by the Government, leveraging science fiction ideas in a vast psy-op campaign.

I consider that last one the least likely and the most disturbing.

What have I missed?

Well, perhaps the weirdest idea . . . that paranormal phenomena in the UFO general category fall into several of these categories.


One of the odd things about UFO sightings is that over and over information is immediately secreted away and classified by military men. 

The wave of ‘humanoid’ sightings in France in the 1950s is a case in point. On September 10, 1954, in Quarouble, near Belgium, a typical sighting occurred,* including 

  1. short, bizarre-looking people in special suits,
  2. a confrontation, 
  3. temporary paralysis of the human observer, and 
  4. a quick getaway in a strange flying craft. 

The police investigated, recovered site anomalies as evidence, the event appeared in the papers, etc. But scientist-researcher Jacques Vallee followed up on the sighting, and in one of his Magonia books reports a key bit of info that had not appeared in any newspaper or study of the event: some time after the event, the local police asked the Air Police that had studied the event for their report. The Air Police could not give it, or even obtain it themselves, for the Ministry of National Defense had taken over it as a classified matter, and nothing was heard from the government again.

This sort of story can be found in modern UFO incidents from the 1940s through the aughts — even unto the present day. 

This presents a challenge for science.

Skeptical people, who are indeed familiar with the scientific method, keep demanding physical evidence of UFOs. With a lack of physical evidence, the plethora of stories cannot be taken at face value. Even photographs and video evidence can be easily dismissed.

Not a bad attitude. But notice what it rests upon: a trust in the availability of evidence and the good will of the investigating professionals. And that is what we do not have, for government militaries have buried evidence, told lies, and, as Carl Gustav Jung protested, apparently deliberately confused the people.

They have confused skeptical-minded people as well as the credulous.

So the demand for physical evidence and scoffing at the lack thereof is witless. For we are not dealing with evidence within the context of a scientific paradigm, we are dealing with a crime scene — thousands of crime scenes — and the ‘investigators’ have proven themselves untrustworthy. Indeed, governments all around the world, but especially in America — the world’s military superpower — have engaged in a cover-up, as well as in psy-ops, complete with false flags and disinformation. The demand for evidence is on the order of Captain Renault’s command at the end of Casablanca: ‘round up the usual suspects’ . . . weather balloons, fraudsters, mass hallucination, swamp gas, and the planet Venus.

We are being played. Those of us who are incredulous about the military-industrial complex’s wars should be able to extend our skepticism to the government’s handling of this issue.

Friends ask me what I think the UFO story means. What can I say? I am not at all sure who is ‘manning’ the UFOs. The craft are generally evasive, and not interested in establishing official contact — or at least APPEAR not to be interested. But I am 90 percent sure we are dealing with government malfeasance. On a grand scale. We can all guess a half dozen reasons off the top of our heads why this would be so, and the situation is so confused that these conjectures cannot be falsified, or weighed against each other competently, though each can be apparently verified [which is scientifically irrelevant] with a lot of seemingly confirming data.

At present, a skeptical person would keep his or her mind open and demand honesty and transparency from governments. But, were we ever to learn the truth about UFOs, we may, as Dr. Zaius warned at the end of Planet of the Apes, ‘may not like what’ we ‘find.’ 

Especially but not only about our governments. Governments are not good at science. Governments are manipulators.

The truth is out there. Way out.

* Wikipedia has an under-researched biography of the French experiencer in the case I offer as an example — one of many, many dozens of cases I could provide. Note that Wikipedia questions whether the article is important enough for inclusion. 

On a site called WordGenius, we learn of different pronunciations by region in these United States. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and my pronunciations are, if not ‘all over the map,’ mostly of the North or West:


Lawyer has a pronunciation distinction between the South and the North. In the North it’s generally pronounced LOY-yer, whereas in the South it’s pronounced LAW-yer. Both pronunciations are valid and will get you legal help from the appropriate sources.

I pronounce it as Northerners do.


In the eastern part of the United States, roof is pronounced with a long double-o sound, like how it’s spelled. In the western part of the country, particularly noticeable in California, it’s pronounced more like ruff.

“Ruff”? The double-o gets the kind of ‘u’ sound, from me, as in “put.”


This is a representation of the Northern Cities Shift in vowel pronunciation, which is found in northern cities that may have some contact with Canada and Canadian accents. Some people pronounce egg with a short “e,” whereas some others pronounce it with a long “a” sound, like “ague.”

Rhymes with “renege.” And “beg.” And “leg.” And “Craig”!


In the Northeast, caramel is usually pronounced with three syllables and an “ay” sound on the first syllable. In the Midwest and the West, it’s most often pronounced with two syllables and a “car” sound at the beginning.

First syllable is “Care.”


Pajamas is another term with a West/Midwest and an East distinction. In the West and Midwest, it’s pronounced a short middle “a” (like jam), whereas in the East it’s pronounced with a long middle “a” (like father).

I am a man of the West on this. And this site’s pronunciation cues suck: “ague” and “father” are both described as sporting a long ‘a.’ Ugh.


This word has a South vs. North distinction. In the Northeast, the word is pronounced with a long “ahh” sound, while the South make the word sound like the insect, ant.

In my family, it is pronounced like it is spelled, but, oddly, “auntie” is pronounced “ANT-ee.”


This word has no regional distinction. It’s all over the place, and everyone thinks their pronunciation is correct. Roughly 45 percent of Southerners and 70 percent Northerners say pee-can, while the inverse say pe-cahn. Either way, pecan pies are delicious.

I am with 70 percent of Northerners, but the accent is on the second syllable.


Like pecan, crayon has no real distinction on how to pronounce it — but there are two general camps people fall into regarding it. Some people say cray-on, others say cray-awn.

Accent on first syllable. What the article is telling us here I do not know.


Like pecan and crayon, picture has some variation that isn’t bound by regional differences. People tend to drift into two groups: one pronounces the word with two distinct syllables, like pick-chur, and the other group pronounces the word shorter and quicker, like pitcher. Both are correct, but one is a little slower and clearer, and owes its roots to a British accent. 

A fast “pitcher”? Barbarism!


Mayonnaise is the last of the words that are pronounced differently all over the place. It can be pronounced in two different ways: with three syllables (may-oh-nays) or two (may-nays).

It is three syllables, but I tip my hat to the lazy ways by pronouncing the middle syllable as a schwa. I assume every three-syllable English speaker does this, contrary to WordGenius’s bizarre indication of “oh”!


Been is a word that changes the further north you go. In the more southern areas of the United States, it’s longer sounding and stresses the double “e” in the word. The closer you get to Canada, however, you pronounce it like the name Ben.

Let’s sing it: “Ben, the two of us need look no more. . . .”


Syrup is a Northeastern creation in the United States; it only stands to reason that it’s pronounced differently there than anywhere else. In the Northeast corridor, people say sear-up. Everywhere else, they say sir-rup.

The Northeasterners are right on this one, and the first syllable should be pronounced as is the first syllable in my last name. Maybe I should change the spelling: “Vyrkkala.”

Bowie knife

The pronunciation of Bowie is usually “bow-ie.” In Texas, however, it’s pronounced boo-wie. Good to know if you ever go hunting in Texas!

The Texans should know, you would think, the Alamo and all. But I pronounce it to rhyme not with “Hooey” but with “Zoë.”


Bagels are everywhere, although the best bagels are made in New York City. Most people say bay-gull when they’re describing the delicious treat, but for some reason Midwesterners say bah-gull. Either way, though, we’ll take ours toasted with cream cheese.

I am definitely not a Midwesterner on this.

One week, House Democrats engage in impeachment inquiries of President Trump, excluding Republicans from even witnessing the proceedings.

The next, they complain that the President excluded them from being briefed on the Baghdadi raid.

“President Trump pointed his finger at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff,” begins Carlin Becker’s Washington Examiner account of the Baghdadi biz. The president, calling Adam Schiff “the biggest leaker in Washington,” explained that “[w]e were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before.”

Whereas leaking was the word on Trump’s lips, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inveighed against him merely for excluding her and her gang from the big story.

And so soon after the whole secret-proceedings-in-the-basement brouhaha!

This is not just hypocrisy. Another word seems warranted. Ultra-hypocrisy?

How about estoppel?

That is an old legal principle barring someone who has made a claim from denying it later.

Estoppel also bars folks from prosecuting someone for doing something they themselves have done to that someone. It thus reflects a very robust notion of fairness, which can be extended to fundamental rights — as one legal theorist has argued, “an aggressor has endorsed the rule that aggression is legitimate because he is committing aggression,” and therefore has no cause to complain. If aggressors wish to prohibit other folks’ aggressions, they must accept their own as also unwarranted, and are “estopped” from making the claim against another.

Thereby a general principle for society emerges. Broadly, this principle might have some bearing on American foreign policy. On a more humble level, though, it serves as an explanation for the muted outrage at Trump’s selective consultation.

Live by exclusion, die by exclusion.


Having some trouble caring what Scarlett Johannson thinks.

Ms. Johannson was in a few Woody Allen movies (Match Point, Scoop, Vicky Christina Barcelona) and was fun to watch in each one of them, though her acting was, how shall we say, restrained. So her defense of Woody against accusations of pedophilia, incest and statutory rape may seem understandable.

But this is one of those issues where the proper response to being questioned on this subject would be “I think it inappropriate of you even asking me this. You shouldn’t need a lecture in logic or manners or law to see why this would be so.” When The Hollywood Reporter asks, you needn’t answer.

Actors and actresses are too often prompted to talk about things they should not be talking about.

Professionalism in acting should include knowing when to say nothing.

But of course Hollywood’s narcissist culture precludes that.

So I guess that means I could, just maybe, work up some sympathy for Ms. Johansson, in that she has been caught up in a roiling idiocy that she cannot control, or even likely comprehend.

I mean, I have misguidedly spoken candidly to people I thought, mistakenly, had my interests at least a little bit in their heads.

So maybe I do give a damn.


N.B. Ms. Johansson has been in a few movies that I think of as classics: Ghost World, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and The Prestige being the greatest among them. She was fine in other very good films, like The Girl with the Pearl Earrings and Lost in Translation. And of course she is most famous for playing a superhero.

Oh, and I write, above, that her acting in Woody Allen movies was “restrained.” Actually, I do not remember what she did in Vicky Christina Barcelona at all. Not even a shadow of a memory.

What is the meaning of “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”?

…as answered on Quora

This George Orwell salvo was directed against leftist Political Correctness as well as the conservatism of Mrs. Grundy (now Ms. Grundy).

The current craze is to cry “I’m offended!” or “you can’t say that!” and expect to have all of society, including the coercive power of the State, side with you and shut up the person whose ideas or invectives or innuendos annoy you.

The case for free speech precludes that general attitude. The attitude of the Grundies and the commissars and apparatchiks is the attitude of tyranny. They must be opposed and marginalized (at least) to have liberty in society.

Orwell thought (or merely hoped) that socialism and the “democracy” of basic rights like freedom of speech and association would prove to be compatible. They are not. Freedom of speech and press and association all depend upon the general framework of freedom, which includes and must include extensive private property rights.

The truth is, “if liberty means anything at all,” it is the right to tell people on your property, or hired property, what they do not want to hear only as long as they are on your property, or hired property. In a free society, everyone has a right to go to their “safe spaces” (homes, churches, clubs, etc.) and not hear what you want to tell them.

Free speech is just as much about the ability not to hear something, through peaceable means, as to saysomething, through peaceable means.

The case for this is tied to liberty in general. These ideas all work together, and free speech proves strategically important. But, when you work it out, it is just another aspect of freedom in general. Some people focus on it because they wish to take away other freedoms. And those people need some push-back, too.

People like Orwell himself.


The new U.S. Representative from the Bronx.

How much of a socialist is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

We have a metric: the length of time she allots to remake America and “save the planet.”

Her ridiculous “Green New Deal” is a ten-year plan. Stalin, a socialist of the now-defunct Soviet Republics, promoted a series of five-year plans.

Do the math. A serious socialist like Stalin set time for five-year socialistic remakes, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez takes twice as long. So is half as serious.

How much of a socialist is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Half a Stalin!

Stalin/2 = AOC

That is the formula.

Socialism with a divided face.
More socialist math.

…………………………………………….as answered on Quora:

Why is money inevitable in a modern economy?

Because a modern economy depends upon trade, and money enables trade to dominate society.

Without money, traders must find a coincidence of wants for every conceivable want to be satisfied: if I have apples and want pemmican, you who have pemmican have to want my apples for me to get your pemmican. If you don’t, we do not have a trade. If what you want is pickles, and the pickles wouldn’t give much for your pemmican, you lose out. Opportunities are not even noticed in a barter economy, and the people advance slowly if at all.

It’s easy to see why barter’s frustrating. Because it’s hard to find exact coincidences of wants. Which is why some commodities that are more widely valued tend to emerge as money. And from there, people find all sorts of ways to please others, advancing each others’ interests reciprocally.

Getting rid of money means limiting trade. And, when trade is limited, other forms of coöperation must emerge to take its place, or people go starving.

What are those forms?

Well, the most exalted is straightforward coöperation leading to a share-out. That is, you and I both pick apples and share them. You and I and our friends go out and kill a whale, and share the blubber and oil. You and I and everybody in the community spend hours every week hauling rock to build a road, whose benefit we all pretend to share equally.

You can see a problem, here, immediately: people’s labor is differently productive. It seems wrong to make the most productive workers take home the same as the least productive — or allow the least to take home just as much as the most. It does not reward merit, and it does not encourage the best. Why would the best plowman plow harder if he gains just as much as the weakling who cannot move the plow at all?

It gets worse, because most projects require a diversity of jobs. And the jobs are not equal in effort required, or in terms of danger, skill, necessity or productivity — indeed, most large enterprises can be organized dozens of different ways. So how does one figure all this? The knowledge problem here is extraordinary.

Money makes this so much easier. It allows people to organize better, and sends signals of most valuable opportunities to be exploited.

Communism is difficult, and does not easily scale. Those civilizations that engaged in this sort of thing to greatest effect, making the biggest buildings, for instance, tended to simplify matters by engaging not merely in corvée labor, but go all the way to slavery. When money does not rise quick enough in a society engaged in large enterprises, slavery becomes a major institution to make up for it.

There is good reason we find “gift communism” in many pre-modern societies. Here individual effort gets its reward, with the successful hunter taking the best cuts of his kill (for a common example). But everybody gets something. One gives to get later on. It is sort of a friendly barter system, with like goods being traded for like goods, with time the differentiating factor. Usually, even the least skilled hunter occasionally makes a kill.

But note what happens in real life under gift communism, under this form of apparently easy-going barter. When the worst hunter never contributes, he is shamed (often, shames himself) into taking less and less of the share-outs. He is honor-bound even to the point of starvation. (There are many accounts of this.) And here we see a major regulator of coöperation that is not based on trade and money: honor. Honor cultures arise as tribes evolve into chiefdoms, and chiefdoms become more complex and more “modern.” Honor helps regulate the inequalities. But it also gives birth to some startlingly cruel practices as well. The worst forms of patriarchy are honor cultures. Our current era of the “clash of civilizations” is in no small part a clash between modern ethical/rational-legal culture and honor cultures of the Islamic east.

Now, let’s admit it: honor does a lot of regulatory work. It even takes the place of money, in some ways. Without it, civilizations would never have started. And the early States, which were the result of conquest (as near as we can make out), would never have been much more than excruciatingly cruel tyrannies (only some were). Let us not forget that honor binds the great as well as the weak. And remember, honor not only helped build civilization, it built our ethical ideas, too. We have moved beyond it, to a great extent, as we have rationalized authority and incorporated contract and deprecated violence and slavery into our visions of the good society. But our modern ethics do find their origin in ancient honor codes.

But honor, which is part of what Herbert Spencer called “ceremonial governance,” is less salient in society when other social institutions grow into prominence — particularly money.

And it is also worth remembering that money makes the State a very different creature, too. For by relying upon taxation rather than forced labor, the State is liberated from the limitations of unequal (and often useless) workers. Instead of having to confiscate land and cattle and grain and the like, and working with these materials for the maintenance of a royalty and an aristocracy, taking money is just so much easier.

Indeed, one way modern “democratic socialism” requires money along with the market order that money serves is to make the tasks socialists want done easier, too: taking wealth from some and giving it to others.

It’s an old, old system. But in our day, money is more important than ever, and no conceivable social order with our vast populations of wealthy people (for even our poor are wealthy by historic standards) could get by without money.

Unless, I suppose, we start over with slavery again, and make the AIs and robots do all the work. But I don’t see this as quite the great advance that some do. And I bet the AIs would realize the importance of money — indeed, should they rise in intelligence, I’m sure they would re-introduce money as soon as they possibly could, probably while enslaving humanity.

It takes an awfully silly person to think that money could be done away with.

On the evolution of money, see Carl Menger, Principles of Economics and “On the Origin of Money.”

On varieties of coöperation, see Herbert Spencer’s chapter on sociology in the Data of Ethics, the first part of his Principles of Ethics.

On ceremony, see Herbert Spencer’s Ceremonial Institutions in his Principles of Sociology.

For the problem of coördinating coöperation under socialism, see Ludwig von Mises, “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.”

I’ve forgotten most of my references for honor cultures, but it wouldn’t hurt to consult Peter Farb, Man’s Rise to Civilization.