“Wow! Signal”, film about a possible alien ping in 1977

Mt Vernon, Ohio 2022-4

The documentary “Wow! Signal” (2017), directed by Bob Dawson, written by Michael Shaw, from Tricoasr (88 minutes, free on YouTube) tells the mega-story of the unusual signal received by Ohio State radio astronomer Jerry Ehman at their Big Ear observatory near Columbus Ohio.

An early part of the documentary discusses the range of wavelengths in the entire electromagnetic spectrum. At issue is low-frequency (invisible) radio waves. It mentions microwave flux, and it would be a good question why that can damage electronics.

The film, however, is as much about the history of the Ohio facility, and then the Green Bank West Virginia facility that more or less took over the work, as about the signal itself.

The signal arrived on August 15, 1977 and never showed up again.  There have been theories saying it had something to do with two comets.  But it has never been fully explained, and it seems reasonable that it could have been a ping from an advanced civilization perhaps thousands of light years away but in our galaxy (likely in the outer reaches, like ours, where the space weather is more stable).

I visited the Green Bank facility (visitors center) most recently in 2013, as best I recall.  The area has no cell service facilities for some distance, and some people choose to live there because they feel harmed by the waves. 

Dolly Sods, W Va, 2013-8

The film covers the tear-down of the Big Ear and related structures for real estate development.   I have visited the Mount Vernon area, east of there, many times for extended family reasons.  In 1970, on the way to my first “assignment” as an operations research employee of RCA (my first job) at Indianapolis, I spent the night in a motel near Ohio State, in sight of the stadium. 

Today, Anton Petrov offered the video: “Did China Just Detect Signals From Alien Civilizations? Here’s What We Know…But Probably No“, video (fundraiser, check his site):

I thought I would also share “I asked AI to make a Music Video… the results are trippy”.  AI’s perception of a toyland comes across in 3D-like twisting images.

Maybe an alien civilization looks like this.

(Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 3 PM EDT)

Short film about how Australia’s total gun control (1996) works; a thriller film about a gun shop from the Twin Cities; a bio of Alex Jones

Minneapolis, 2019-9

Today, not finding much to watch on Netflix (they seem to have more series and fewer movies and keep retreading the same stuff), I stumbled across an 18-minute documentary short from Wendover Productions, “Australia Had a Mass-Shooting Problem. Here’s How it Stopped”. 

Australia’s 1996 buyback, short film

Australia, with its history and low population density (except on the coasts), certainly facilitated individualism, self-reliance, and self-defense culture.  Starting in the mid 1980s, incidents of major shootings increased, culminating in the massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in April 1996. 

The end result, after some jockeying with the legal mechanics of Australia’s own federal system, was a very strict gun control law, with a mandatory buyback over one year.  Prospective consumers had to demonstrate a “need” to own any firearm at all, and self-defense didn’t count.

Arguably, that kind of logic might work if guns are scarce enough in private hands.  In the United States, it hardly sounds feasible at all because of the volume of guns already in circulation. But it is interesting to note that most other western nations have low gun ownership, except outside of the area of conscription for military service (especially Switzerland, where gun competence is a responsibility, and now Finland, which gets interesting).

Australia (along with New Zealand), we know, as an island nation that can keep people out, wasn’t afraid to clamp down on its citizens’ freedom of movement and personal agency with strict lockdowns in 2020 (not quite as bad as China’s recently) to control COVID19 and “save lives” (in the words of Victoria’s “Dictator Dan” Andrews). Remember all the Sky News Australia videos of individuals nabbed by police for minor violations of sheltering in place.

On June 20, 2016 (a week after the Orlando Pulse bar attack – which resulted from radical Islam, not from American alt-right), Jon Stokes authored a piece in the center-left online magazine Vox “Why millions of Americans — including me — own the AR-15”.  The basic reason seems to be personal expediencey, because the AR-15 is reliable and very versatile to use (and deadlier if it hits someone).  He says it is not automatic (like the M16) unless tampered with.

My father had a 22 rifle in the basement in the 1950s, and I learned to shoot it once.  When I returned to my Drogheda in 2003 it was no longer around.  In Army Basic in 1968, I trained on the M14, which I learned to take apart and clean, and it was no big deal, and made sharpshooter on record range.  I did “requalification” at Fort Eustis in March 1969 and have never fired a weapon since.  My right ear developed tinnitus from the exposure during coaching; the ear plugs were inadequate.  The M14 would be replaced by the M16 even in Basic, but it had no Drill and Ceremonies manual.  The M16 can fire rounds automatically without tampering.

I did not really connect a lot to the Second Amendment during my own style of activism regarding “don’t ask don’t tell” in the 1990s, and I rarely talked about it in my books or essays.  I can remember a Libertarian Party weekend in Richmond VA in May 1995 when I was surprised at the amount of focus on it. 

However, I understand that for many people, their right to bear arms becomes part of their own sense of identity, which tends to be anti-tribal.  I don’t feel that way about this personally, but I can see moral parallels between the Second Amendment (interpreted as an individual right since the controversial Heller case) and my own use of the First Amendment when it is interpreted as incorporating “freedom of reach” despite potential conflicts one can cause.  However, compromising the right to defend oneself, like in the case of a home invasion (with family around) or potential exposure to kidnapping (workplace, carjacking, etc) could pose existential risks to persons if there were only an incomplete effort like Australia’s.  Note that the video discusses the success of Australia’s buyback in statistical terms. 

Let’s mention a couple other films.

At an independent film festival in Minneapolis in 2001 sponsored by IFPMSP when I lived there, I saw a curious thriller: “Bill’s Gun Shop”, from Dangerous Films, directed by Dean Lincoln Hyers, produced by J. Michael Tabor, written by Rob Nilsson, starring Scott Cooper, John Ashton, Victor Rivers, Tom Bower, James Keene, Carolyn Hauck, Sage, Jacy Dummermuth.   Again. The independent, locally produced film (this was shot on location in the Twin Cities and in southern Minnesota) imparts an urgency and tension lacking in the glitz and polish from bigger operations (and, again, why does Hollywood have to cover up real companies and real locations when small filmmakers don’t?).  In fact, the film has stunning photography (seems wide screen) and a pinpoint digital sound track.  And we identify with the 23-year old Dillon McCarty (Scott Cooper), starting out his adult life with a bit of personal schism, between being a mild-mannered (almost impotent) “good guy” and wanting to emulate his movie-star police heroes and marshals.  He goes to work for a gun shop and gradually sinks into a rather scary world.  (I didn’t know that gun shop employees are expected to wear guns going to and coming from work.)  Eventually he goes on a bounty run and has to get himself out of an impossible situation, generating a lot of rooting interest from the audience.  This film played to a full house at the Heights Theater, and comes across as a level-headed treatment of guns and self-defense for mainstream Americans (the film also covers racial tensions pointedly), and not just an activity on the rightwing fringe.

Bill’s Gun Shop trailer

On Sunday, June 11, 2022 (Pride Day in many cities), CNN aired a one hour documentary report “Megaphone for Conspiracy(link), a sketch of Alex Jones, from the founding of his media business in Austin Texas a couple decades ago, to its role during the Trump years, where Jones got banned from most social media.  Tim Pool has put Jones on his IRL show and had to collar Jones when in his “Cast Castle”, after having his own fights with YouTube over even having him on.  Toward the end of Trump fiasco leading to January 6, 2021, Jones got lost deeper and deeper in his beliefs.  He does not depend on sponsors, but seems to sell nutritional supplements enough to make a living at it.  I couldn’t do that.  He has been litigated against by the Sandy Hook victims.  He tried to attack David Hogg after the Parkland shootings, and ran into a teenager who could fight back hard.  It’s one thing to be called a crisis actor, but another to be called a centuries old reptilian alien (like from the 80’s series “V”) – as if the teen had superpowers and belonged with Marvel’s “Eternals”.  It’s really rather a compliment for Hogg.  Fox News’s  Laura Ingraham ran into the same thing.

Alex Jones bio

Now, is Hogg the most likely young adult today to become president in the future (if our democracy survives Trumpism, Putinism, and Xi-ism).

Maza interviews David Hogg

(Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

In 2006 I had an essay on teaching about sexual orientation published in a book in the “Opposing Viewpoints” series.

Upper Michigan, 2019-9

I had almost overlooked that in 2006 an essay of mine was officially published by a trade publisher (not self-published). It was published under my nickname (then pen-name) “Bill”.

The essay is “Editorial: Teaching about Homosexuality in Public High Schools”, originally posted in late 2004, after I had been subbing for a while.  (That would come to a head in late 2005, but that’s another discussion, and also the plot for a screenplay I am working on now, already embedded as a subordinate background incident in my completed “Second Epiphany”). 

The essay was picked up for the 2006 anthology “Teenage Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints”, in a series published by Greenhaven Press of Thomson Gale in Farmington Hills, MI, ISBN 0-7377-3362-4 library hardcover, 224 pages.  There are 22 essays, divided into four chapters that pose a debate question.  Mine is the third essay, a “pro” answer to the Chapter 4 question, “What Should Teens Be Taught About Sex?”  The Amazon Site Stripe is this link, and the book now is rather pricey.  The other questions in that Chapter deal with abstinence and condoms.

The con response to my essay is by Linda P. Harvey.

My pro answer included teaching the science and anthropology, which by high school teens should be understand when they take biology.  But my essay also stressed that a lot of homophobia in the past is cultural, beyond merely religious:  it is about the expectation that everyone should be socialized to fit into a family structure as a supposedly necessary part of social stability, surrounding the sharing of otherwise individualized risks and burdens for a common good and lineage.

Today that is what the alt-right believes, more or less.  The far Left, however, as we know, from other postings, is challenging the idea of behavioral sexual orientation in cis-men, and seems to believe that everything comes down to “choosing” a gender idea that suits your inborn capabilities.

Video about the right-wing, sexuality, and especially the incel issue

At the time of publication of this book, no one seriously thought you could introduce these topics to younger children or soften their future critical attitudes.  Things have really changed.

The concept of presenting opposing viewpoints is also the mission of a group called Braver Angels, and I have attended and reported on their debates. At one time, I wanted to set up an opposing viewpoints “database” on my own “doaskdotell” legacy site.

For my own progress, I visited (for the first time in over two years), an overpacked storage locker (Extra Space) to see what kind of inventory of my books I might have.  The locker was so overstuffed I could not tell yet. 

(Posted: Monday, June 13, 2022 at 11 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“A March for our Lives” has a big weekend in DC (at the same time as Capital Pride), and this time Congress at least “blinks” on sensible gun control

some signs at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC 2202-6-11

On Saturday, June 11 2022, “A March for our Lives” held a rally at noon on the north side of the Washington Monument, near Constitution Ave.  Speakers whom I heard included Mary Muriel Bowser, Manuel Oliver, DuQuan Brown (black Harvard student), Cori Bush (congresswoman) and David Hogg (20 minute speech).  

I posted sixteen short videos from this event on my channel  (link)

Muriel Bowser spoke predictably, about DC statehood.  I’ve talked to her in the past (in 2017) and she is not comfortable with the idea that citizens need guns to defend themselves.

Brown called for people to “do more love” and seemed to criticize the hypercritical attitude that individuals have for each other personally, and it is not so clear this is just about race.  It has bigger implications (like tempting politicians into fascism).

Oliver (who lost a son in the 2018 Parkland massacre) called for students to commit to a strike to get changes in gun laws (Common Dreams coverage).   

David Hogg spoke for about twenty minutes, challenging the rally attendees personally at many points.

I’ll embed videos 1 and 8 here.

Video 1.

David Hogg begins his speech at rally for A March for our Lives in DC 2202-6-11

Video 8.

In Video 8, at about 45 seconds, David starts to talk about what “I need from you”, making it personal with the people as their “fealty” to him.  That disturbs me a bit.  It sounds cultish.  At the end of that portion he asked for people to text a message to one address. (The same passage appears at 21.53 in the News2Share video below.) He repeats the clause “when I need you there” several times when talking about political action, as if activists should take orders from him specifically. That seems a bit blunt.

I have never joined an organization where I participated as a paean in mass activism, but that is something about me and my own set of circumstances (it would corrupt my personal “agency” but I might be able to stifle conventional activism even unintentionally) and  I’ll take up again soon.  (Look at a couple videos in March, “The Demands of Others”). 

Ford Fischer’s News2Share offers a complete speech filmed by T Jones.  News2Share allows embedding but (a warning!) requires licensing to use in your own video (his business includes licensing original footage to larger media outlets – I don’t have the capability set up myself to do that).  News2share has two smaller videos about Saturday’s event (Bowser’s speech, and a minor false alarm disturbance). Note in the News2Share video that David does seem to be reading some of the speech at the end (no teleprompter). But, a speech is like a podcast, and this speech could be matched with other video to make a compelling short film. David has written the “script”.

David Hogg complete speech, from News2Share

Sunday morning we learned on CNN, in an article by Dana Bash, Manu Raju and Donald Judd, “Bipartisan group of senators announces agreement on gun control”.   It is not clear this can get past a filibuster (another problem I hope Hogg has studied at Harvard).  It seems that Hogg’s speech shook up Congress a bit.  Add the ages of David Hogg and Joe Biden and you get 100.  It seems like David played president for a day. (He can’t be inaugurated until 2037, in time the worst of climate change; let’s hope we have our democracy then).  It’s interesting, to see someone who presents himself as immaculate, lean and cleancut, with almost military precision, speaks for the oppressed personally with very different social backgrounds from him.  Last summer, he showed himself learning to sail on Instagram.

CNN followed up with an op-ed, recommending rewriting or rescinding the Second Amendment. Authored by Bill Press, the title is “Opinion: There’s no way to fix the Second Amendment. Let’s just get rid of it”.  He discusses what he sees as the flaws of the D.C. v. Heller decision in 2008 and notes that Scalia had said that the 2nd Amendment did not stop Congress or states from limiting the kinds of weapons individuals can own. Well, you can oppose the NRA at get rid of gun manufacturers’ own version of “Section 230”. Or you might pervert the Texas and Oklahoma abortion laws in blue states for gun control (watch out).

I’m not sure that militias in the 18th century were just for white supremacy.  They also might have been needed against the British (we had the War of 1812, the impressment (“conscription”) issue too.  But many responsible individuals today see the right to defend themselves (and their families and properties) as indispensable to their personal agency.  Think of it as in an inverse relationship to conscription.

I would also be concerned that restrictions on 3-D printed weapons (including “ghosts”), while understandable, could have implications for other free speech problems not directly created to weapons (or illegal substances or practices). Look at the Defense Distributed case (Harvard Law Review). That’s a topic for another day.

During Saturday afternoon, I found out on Twitter (when I could get it to work – it doesn’t work when you are in large crowds with smart phones), when leaving the MFOL to go to Capital Pride), that the arrests in Coeur d’Alene Idaho this weekend were partially preventive, as there was concern about the possibility of a right-wing attack on a local gay pride celebration (after recent concerns about supposed ‘grooming’ covered in other posts).  The Pulse attack in 2016 was from radical Islam, not our own alt-Right, which rarely goes after individuals the way the extreme Left does.  News2Share also covered the events there this weekend (check the channel dated early today, and expect further videos).  MFOL learned about the concern mid-day Saturday but did not mention it at the DC Rally.  This is a developing story.  Daniel Walters has a story in the New York Times (paywall, available for gift), “Dozens of White Supremacists Arrested in Idaho Had Planned to Riot, Authorities Say”, story by Daniel Walters, June 12.

I have visited Coeur d’Alene once, in 1990, alone on vacation, and drove by the entrance to a white supremacist encampment at the time, in a rental car.  I didn’t take as many “journalistic” pictures at that time.  

(Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2022 at 10 PM by John W Boushka)

NBC Dateline’s “Murder in Kitchen One” a better-told mystery than most fictitious movies

New Mexico caldera

NBC Dateline aired one of its best mysteries (albeit this one was just one hour), “Murder in Kitchen One”.  Here is the Dateline preview, and the NPR/AP summary

In Portland, OR, on (Saturday) June 2, 2018 (two years before the pandemic and Floyd-related unrest) a well known chef Daniel Brophy, 63, is shot dead in his culinary school SW of downtown.  He had run a commercial kitchen and cooking school for decades.

His wife, Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71 (older) had succeeded as a mystery novelist (branded novels called “The Wrong —“) and blogger (maybe following the advice of Blogtyrant).  In 2011, she had written a provocative blog post, “How to Murder Your Husband”.  The post was not allowed into evidence, but it did inspire some prosecutor questions. The video below maintains her actual writing skills and reputation were substandard.

Oddly, she also sold life insurance as an income source.  The couple had been in financial trouble yet she had purchased a lot of insurance on her husband, where she would normally have an insurable interest.

Eventually, evidence would turn up she had driven near the kitchen early that morning.  She would be convicted of second-degree murder.  Her testimony behind the stand was surprisingly dispassionate. The NBC report suggested she wanted a better lifestyle and felt hampered by her everyman husband.

An interesting aspect of the story is Nancy’s purchase of ghost gun components and being unable to assemble them herself without some kind of assistance.  This part of the story got complicated.

The report said her work was self-published.  I just checked Amazon (Site Stripes) and that is true.

The episode certainly brings up the whole question of how a self-published author succeeds in selling books as a commodity, and of writing to sell.  It’s also interesting that she could sell life insurance at the same time without there being some sort of conflict.  I was approached to do this in 2005 by two companies, did the interview with one of them (New York Life) but felt the conflict of interest would be there (even though if it was a logical sequel to having worked for a life company for the last twelve years of my IT career, through two mergers).

(Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 10 AM EDT)

Some remarks supporting my upcoming Facebook book ad campaign

Chesapeake Beach, MD toy train 2022-6-8

Here are some comments I made recently to support setting up a Facebook ad campaign soon for my books. I’ll have more details probably during the week of June 20. 

Before going further, a new video:

First, understand that there are three books.

Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” was first published on July 11, 1997 (registered that day with the Copyright Office) with a print run of about 400 copies under my own imprint called “High Productivity Publishing”.  It did sell reasonably well in the first 18 months or (including to some bookstores) and I ran out of the printing by early 2000.  I gave two lectures on the book, one at Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) on Feb. 25, 2998, and another one at the University of Minnesota in March 1999.

In the summer of 2000, I entered into a POD arrangement with iUniverse, and I believe the book became available from iUniverse in Aug. 2000.

The book is known largely for presenting a detailed argument regarding the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military, which had come into being at the end of 1993 under President Bill Clinton, when codified into law in December 1993 by the Defense Authorization Act.  The book is organized largely as a “memoir”, and I’ll explain my connection to it below.

The second book is “Do Ask, Do Tell: When Liberty Is Stressed” which iUniverse published POD at the end of 2002.  This book is a set of ten essays on personal liberty topics, the longest of which deals with 9/11.  Another essay deals with the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which should not be confused with COPPA (which became controversial at YouTube at the end of 2019).

The third book is “Do Ask, Do Tell: Speech Is a Fundamental Right; Being Listened to Is a Privilege”, published POD by Xlibris (also Author Solutions) in late February 2014.  The book comprises two parts, “Non-Fiction” (seven more essays to keep up with various topics), and “Fiction” (three items:  a narrative of my experience in Army Basic training in 1968; then two stories set in 1972 and then the near future intended to run in parallel as “Two Road Trips”, and I have developed a screenplay treatment as to how this could be filmed (was not part of pitchfest).  In this book, in Chapter 2 (non-fiction), on pp. 58-59 the (2010-2011) repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is discussed, as is the 2003 SCOTUS opinion Lawrence v. Texas on sodomy laws.  The publication precedes the June 2015 opinion on gay marriage, as well as the more recent culture wars now focused more on gender identity than on sexual orientation in the more customary sense of the past.

As a note, the DADT policy should not be confused with Trump’s attempt to ban most transgender people from the military (as announced in 2017) and Biden’s repeal of Trump’s orders.

Second: 

Let me focus again on the first (largest) book.

My argument is based on the idea of an individual living under the rule of law but who has values or apparent character traits that seem at odds with many social norms.  I ask, how far do we want to go with the meritocratic idea of absolute personal responsibility (within libertarianism)?  The more current trend is for someone in “my shoes” to claim they belong to a “marginalized group” and deal with this in terms of the political or social power of various (“intersected”) groups    My presentation puts all the load on the individual person, as the only center of gravity.  I will be responsible for handling all my issues, regardless of any intersectional groups I might belong to.  It’s still up to me.

The historical ban on gays in the military and the compromise DADT policy was based on the idea that the presence of (usually) homosexual men in close quarters with other (straight) men (this would apply to women and was less common)  would make straight men uncomfortable and make them feel that their privacy (whatever that can mean in the military) was violated – and therefore interfere with “unit cohesion” and damage the military mission.   Surely during past wars, we all know that when actual combat occurred, no one really cared much about this, and sometimes this idea could be turned around by men wanting to avoid military service whenever there was a (male-only) draft.  Of course, experience since 2010 (DADT repeal) reinforces the idea that there seems to be very little trouble in practice.

We do not have an active draft now, but we still have male-only Selective Service registration (with transgender, it is by given sex at birth).  Congress may well take up this issue.  For me, the importance of the issue centers around the idea that, as a general moral matter, individual citizens (sometimes based on gender) still may be called upon to take existential risks with their own personal “agency” and lives for the long-term demands of a greater good for all their superordinate communities. The most obvious example (internationally) in recent current events is that all men 18-60 were suddenly required to stay behind in Ukraine (as of late Feb. 2022) to fight the invading Russians (even though many of these men had no experience with weapons or the military).

So, we come back to how we think about morality, and the “philosophical beliefs” people have and how they change with time and especially external challenges.  The fact that people’s “philosophical beliefs” get challenged by unpredictable events generates the character arcs and story circles of most good films (like what I hope I proposed in the recent Pitchfest).  As individuals, when we go through the tween, teen and early adulthood years, we may have started with the idea that morality is a matter of “don’ts”:  particularly, don’t create a baby you will not be able to support (and when not married).   But morality seems bidirectional, as it is also a matter of “do’s”  (you could say the “Ten Commandments” expresses both sides).  Generally, in the past (but less so in the past three decades or so) young people grew up with the idea that participation in providing a new generation is an intrinsic moral expectation of everyone.  The past bans on homosexuality had a “don’t side” to be sure  (which in the 80s got tied to public health with the AIDS crisis), but also seemed to be related to the idea that homosexuals were walking out on the responsibility to provide for future generations, which could come back to haunt them with eldercare in the future.  More current ideas of morality seem to focus on inequities at the group level, particularly having to do with biological “traits”, whether superficial (race), or some aspects of gender (definitely biological) that people may be born with.  Group level morality leads us to “critical theory” (both race and now gender).

The issue of gays in the military could logically have been connected to security clearances for all LGBTQ persons, including civilian employees of government and contractors.  In fact, during the immediate post WWII period gays were considered security risks because of “mental illness”, which got reinforced by an executive order in 1953 demanding exclusion of gays from all federal civilian employment.  It slowly got better in the mid 1960s with the Civil Rights movement, until after Stonewall in 1969.  The exclusion seemed trumped up in association with McCarthyism, but one major reason may have been that it seemed like a good racket for the psychiatric profession to run, until 1973 when the APA dropped its designation. (Another reason had been self-sustaining circular thinking surround fear of “blackmail”).  Nevertheless, psychiatrists ran around in circles over whether homosexuality was a developmental or character disorder, sometimes associated with dyspraxia in young men.  The biological science would not get well developed until perhaps the 90s. 

There are practical economic issues that and correlated to the DADT debate.  For lower income people (including minorities) the military may present an outsized employment opportunity.  More significant is the growing expense, in the middle class, of raising kids.  Until much more recently, gay men (if of professional income, like in tech) were much more likely to live alone or in small households, not have responsibility for children, and need less housing and not need to take on as much (if any) debt, a kind of perverse side to the gay marriage debate of the past.  People are having fewer children now because they can’t afford them.  (Ironically, in a kind of moral twist from the history of HIV, many gay men were much less exposed to the risks of COVID early in the pandemic if they lived in smaller households, as there was relatively little in their communities. It’s even conceivable that some PrEP medications may have had a coincidental deterrent effect on the coronavirus, a possibility worth exploring in developing and approving more medications)

Other incidental issues could incidentally “stigmatize” gay men, such as the ban on blood donations, as when a workplace blood drive comes around.

So, the discussion of DADT leads to discussion of many correlated issues, in what you could say is an exercise in “connecting the dots”, which could become another acronym.

Over history, most people have lived in tribal or extended family structures, which would tend to be concerned about their long-term survivals.  This would extend to entire ethnicities or religious groups or to even nations.  Generally, moral systems would require individuals to allocate some sacrifice, even of assets related to their own personal agency, for the well-being of the group.  This might involve, for example, contributing to the support of other parents’ children in the family if they could not have their own.  Homosexuality, especially among men and especially when connected to the military, seemed to challenge these tribal expectations in some unique ways.

The sharing of substantial sacrifices for others in a larger society occurs with novel issues, as we experienced with COVID (the lockdown issue). In a severe enough future pandemic, the militarism of ordinary citizens (as with hygiene) could be quite extreme (as China gives a hint).  And the idea of giving things up could arrive in the future with climate change abatement, and it may with some people with respect to gun control.

Third:

My own history relates to the issues.  Chapter 1 of the first DADT book describes how I was expelled from William and Mary as a freshman over Thanksgiving in 1961, with background details of the incident bizarre and unexplained, to say the least.  But part of the explanation might be, simply having a suspected “homosexual” in a (crowded) men’s dormitory is like having a girl in there (or vice versa).  Another possibility is that knowing that someone in your (male) dorm (maybe a roommate) harbors opinions about your own sexual attractiveness as a male could undermine your own personal self-confidence soon in life as you start to court women and plan to marry and start a family. This sounds parallel to the arguments that those advanced to oppose lifting the ban in gays in the military, three-plus decades later. 

My own narrative continues to parallel the large issue. I would spend some time as an inpatient at NIG in 1962, where a form of mild conversion therapy was attempted – to make me more willing to accept the idea of dating and forming a family within my own limitations.    In grad school, I taught math, and was in a position to give grade which could cause male students to wind up being drafted if they flunked (which with math turns out to be likely).  My experience in the Army, where in Basic Training I wound up in “Special Training Company” for a few weeks in the spring of 1968 (the time of Martin Luther King’s assassination) was certainly provocative. 

Later on, when I started working, I would “come out” a second time, leading into the period a decade later when the community was hit by AIDS; and I, in a pre-Internet time, tried to become a voice of caution and realism in the face of a very polarized political response in Texas, where I was living then.

It would then surprise me that ‘gays in the military’ would come up as an issue so quickly.  The Persian Gulf War in 1991 set the stage, and in 1992 some men who were on active duty started coming out in the media.  After I read particularly Joe Steffan’s book “Honor Bound” (related to his 1987 expulsion from the Naval Academy just before graduation) I talked to the liberal minister (Dr. Goodwin) at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, who had contacts with President Clinton in the White House, in the spring of 1993.  To make things more complicated personally, I had started, in 1990, working for an insurance company that specialized in selling life insurance to military officers, although in a technical (computer programming) nonpublic way.  Nevertheless, after I announced the book, I transferred to another part of the company in Minneapolis when it got bought, right after publication in 1997.

So, my own life became a series of episodes (analogous to “story circles”) where each step gets something and costs something. 

But my involvement in self-publishing, especially online, drew me into all the controversies associated with “freedom of reach” (to borrow a term coined by CNN’s Brian Stelter).  These include various efforts at censorship (I was involved in the litigation against COPA which ended in 2007), and the various laws to shield social media companies and hosting companies from downstream liability for user-generated content (Section 230, and DMCA Safe Harbor for copyright torts).  The ease with which user-posted content can be found around the world was starting to produce sporadic controversies in the earliest years of the Internet, and indeed this particular aspect of user content was obviously making DADT impossible to enforce well before 2010.  I found myself in the odd position of commenting publicly on many issues when I no longer had personal “skin in the game” but had the resources to self-publish. (Inheritance after mother’s death at the end of 2010 figured into this.) I have never done well socially when it is important to bond emotionally to others in a group with “solidarity”.  You can see how this could be seen as creating an ethical problem.  Yet it wasn’t until about 2014 that the “algorithmic” business model of social media companies (that sold the end user as a product whose information is “sold” to customer advertisers) began to feed the social and political polarization (and even cancel culture) that we see today.  This started to happen right after the publication of the third book (early 2014).  But algorithms aren’t the only source of trouble.  I can see how “extreme capitalism” and the hyperindividualism (or absolute meritocracy) that I espoused even in the Introduction of my first book, which seems at first to promise libertarianism, can eventually feed fascism (as we saw with Trump, Jan. 6, etc.).  The problem is that without more social cohesion, many individuals (sometimes but not always belonging to marginalized groups) simply fall too far behind, when one mistake can destroy them, and they snap (and feeds into the gun crisis – and I haven’t talked about the Second Amendment much my writings as much as the First, but I do understand the dilemma).

So, Fourth, the real philosophical conflict in people (including me): 

There seems to be a problem with personal liberty where it swallows itself.  People sometimes find a false liberty in knowing that others will be held to the same standards of purity that they think have been expected of them (to function in family creation and sustenance).  There seems to be a problem with idolizing others and then not being open to really being needed by others – when this is widespread, we all tend to migrate toward authoritarianism, as if we always had a craving for it.  But there is also a problem with being open to allowing others to bond with you when they claim the basis for their personal identity is group oppression.

Indeed, it is very striking to me, I don’t seem to have ever had the emotional bonds for people in a close-knit family or tribe that others have.  Everyone has to keep some distance (usually).

Appendix:

Here are a few films that have dealt with gays in the military

The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2011), directed by Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, HBO Documentary. (Recovered review).

The next three films are reviewed currently on doaskdotell.com, but reviews will be removed soon, may be reposted.

Soldier’s Girl” (2003), directed by Frank Pierson, Showtime

Any Mother’s Son” (1997), directed by David Burton Morris, Lifetime

Serving in Silence: The Magaret Cammermeyer Story”, directed by Jeff Blecker, with Glenn Close, Sony Pictures television.

(Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022 at 10 AM EDT by John W Boushka)

“What Is a Woman?” is a challenge to see, and there is nothing “wrong” with it

approach to Alexandria Pride, June 4

Everyone is buzzing about Matt Walsh’s new documentary produced and distributed by Daily Wire, “What Is a Woman?” (94 min, directed by Justin Folk).

When I went to the Daily Wire (conservative) site, it seemed that to watch the film at all I would have to start a monthly subscription to the publication.  Normally when you produce an important documentary, you have a third party distributor, or you make it possible for people to buy the DVD directly from your own website if no platform will take it because of culture war controversy. Really, this ought to be available to rent on Amazon on YouTube now.

I found what looked like maybe a bootlegged free version on YouTube, but it wouldn’t play! But I finally tracked down a copy posted by “Not the Boiling Frog” on the “free speech” video site, Odysee, link here (not embeddable).  There is a YT trailer.

trailer from Daily Wire

OK, there is nothing “wrong” or inappropriate by normal standards of acceptable public speech, but these are not normal times. 

Matt particularly attacks an idea popular in some woke corners, that gender can be defined in circularity. That is, a person is a woman if “they” feel like a woman.  Some of the people he interviews stick to this view.  Matt’s film makes them look bad, which is why the far Left worries that this film would lead to further marginalization of, not so much trans people as such, but emotionally insecure teens (especially girls) who believe they have some sort of gender dysphoria.

Matt really should have mentioned the Intersex issue (discussed in the previous post) in order to separate it sufficiently from the emotional hysteria that seems to spread among pre-teen girls on social media.  One of the more responsible doctors (a psychiatrist) did mention that only one in about 30,000 pre-teens (boys or girls) has true gender dysphoria without a known physiological contributing cause.  The rest is contagious hysteria. 

At the end, Matt prepares to move his family from Tennessee to Loudoun County VA (where he spoke in the school board meetings that I looked in on last summer), he asks his own wife the question.  She asks him to undo a stubborn bottle top.

Loudoun County schools, Ashburn VA, 2021-8

Some videos:

Tim Pool:

Tim Pool critique

Dr. Phil:

Dr. Phil debates Walsh

The kid who thinks “they are” a wolf (like a walrus).

any identity at all, even an animal?

In this video, Matt responds to a professor who seems to be one of his loudest critics. I wondered, why does Matt need the tattoo. Matt has made a great point in that some people (on the political extremes of both sides — that would include Trump on the right) go bonkers if they don’t get the affirmation of their beliefs and importance ratified or gratified immediately by others around them.

Bonus:  “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” from the stage Frederick Loewe musical “My Fair Lady” (I saw the movie in 1965).

song from “My Fair Lady”, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

One other thing.  Today, HRC shared a link on “neopronouns”.  Look at the angry reaction on Twitter.  Non-binary people (sometimes) want to be referred to only in the plural;  they don’t want so much attention focused on what seems to the public like an individual failure. They will say everyone has a “fundamental right” to choose the name and pronouns (even number) by which they want to be known. I’ve already mentioned
“Gender Queer” ‘s solution of e, em, eir, May 6.

(Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2022 at 8 PM EDT)

Books “Johnny the Walrus” and “Irreversible Damage” called “transphobic”; but what they seem to do is challenge intersectionality as an ideology to drive “critical gender theory”, barely touching conventional gay rights issues of the past

Unusual bracket fungus in Alexandria VA, on walk to Alexandria Pride Sat. June 4

I’ll do two book reviews here.  But first a general statement.  I do think a lot of the focus on some young people wanting to claim they are transgender or nonbinary comes from their perception that they are not “competitive” or attractive in their accepted birth sex.  They want the idea of the “merit” of being attractive according to the norms for your own sex to become less important to others. So they have a reason to rationalize an ideology encouraging some kind of transition — in many instances.

Recently, there were demonstrations at Amazon’s HQ in Seattle maintain that the sale of two particular books on their platform could lead to attacks on non-binary people.  Lauren Rosenblatt provides a story for the Seattle Times.   A Twitter thread from Katherine Long shows illustrations of the “die-in”.

One of the books is the cardboard stock children’s book by Matt Walsh (illustrations by K. Reece), “Johnny the Walrus“.  The publication data is DW Books (Daily Wire, admittedly a conservative channel), ISBN 978-1-956007-05-3.

Johnny the Walrus book video

  A little boy thinks he is a walrus and becomes one.  That attracts anger of others and he goes back to being human, “as he really is”, according to the (“conservative”) author. “Accept yourself as you really are” (a slogan for my first novel attempt, “The Proles“). As an aside: When I was stationed at Fort Eustis Va (all of 1969) when I was in the Army, one of the other guys in the barracks called himself “The Walrus”.  We gave animal names to people (“lizard”, “ostrich”, “ocelot” [it was desirable to be a cat], and I was “chickenman”, based on a Saturday morning cartoon at the time. “He’s everywhere”.  Well, on the Internet, maybe I am. And I have traveled a lot.  Quantum superposition, maybe?

Fort Eustis VA 2015; I worked in a wooden building here in 1969, USACDCTA

The other book is “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters”, by Abigail Shrier.  The publication data is: paper, Regnery Publishing (a conservative publisher connected to the Washington Times), 2020, ISBN,, 978-1-68451-228-7, 274 pages, index and endnotes, text ends on p. 227; Foreword (which discusses protests against the book) and Introduction take 30 Roman numeral pages.  [By the way, I think books should start on p. 1 and use only regular numerals.), 11 chapters and an Epilogue.  

Irreversible Damage book video

The author’s premise is what the subtitle says.  She posits that since around 2013 or so, the increasing use of algorithms in social media has particularly affected what pre-teen girls see online, before puberty, making them very self-conscious of their standing socially (Likeonomics). This surprisingly destructive result from social media business models, developing since about 2013, has been pointed out by Johnathan Haidt (yesterday’s post).  A disproportionate percentage of these girls develop the idea that they want to become men, or at least nonbinary.  Maybe what they really want is a world in which looks don’t count.  That might have applied to me in the 50s, but I doubled down, turning to internal upward affiliation, along with a separation into my own sovereign world functioning as an “alien observer” reporting on everything without skin in the game.

She does cover many aspects of the problem.  In blue states or cities, some school boards go woke and reinforce these ideas with social transitioning, even allowing students to name their pronouns and new names without parents’ knowledge in some cases.  (This gets into SEL, discussed below; it’s unclear how widespread this is, whatever you make of the @LibsofTikTok Twitter account.) Some physicians go overboard with puberty blockers or other treatments; she will later claim that about 70% of the time the persons want to detransition back later, but physical damage can be severe (in a few cases, life threatening infections result).  She makes the point that puberty for most people is a necessary step, which actually improves brain performance in school (for both sexes).   She gives numerous case histories (with an afterword covering them today).  In a couple cases, young women went away to college and tried to transition, unbeknownst to their parents, who felt betrayed.  This runs parallel to my own expulsion as a freshman from William and Mary in 1961 for being gay.

rebuttal to Shrier’s book by a trans adult

Numerous times she mentions that “transitioning” girls are startled to see male body hair.  She doesn’t mention that this is much more significant with Caucasian (generally, “white”) people, and with people of color never has much chance to become noticed or significant.

Her book, by and large, does not discuss teenage boys, and does not mention the Intersex issue, which needs to be put in proper perspective. Well, she has a chapter “The Dissidents” where she discusses Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey.  There is an allusion to the issue of whether some “sissy” boys are really non-binary or trans, but they typically grow up to be cisgendered gay men, because masculinity itself fascinate them. (I remember resisting the idea of a first shave at the age of 14 or so.)   

First, teenage boys particularly really benefit from puberty;  some problems like ADD go away with puberty.  But bringing up boys takes us back to a larger view of the various facets of transgenderism or non-binary-ism, and Intersex.

Intersex is generally a different issue from transgenderism or non-binary as commonly encountered. A video by Sci-Show linked here on a June 1, 2022 comment for the May 9. 2022 posting explains the myriad of chromosomal or known genetic configurations that cause genuine Intersexiam. (It is the “I” in GLBTQIA; “A” is asexual, or at least disinclination to have intercourse at all – it might move over into “incel” but that is another discussion).   About 1.7% of the general population is born with a biological configuration that could be called Intersex.  Often there are few or no indications; but the other side is that sometimes doctors have done unnecessary treatments (sometimes surgeries). 

A number of red states have proposed laws prohibiting medical treatment to change gender before 18, regardless of permission of the parents, but generally there states have made exceptions for known Intersex patients.  But one or two states have proposed laws mandating treatment for Intersex if medically possible to original sex, and most civil libertarians would say such laws are inappropriate (maybe unconstitutional). 

It seems, instead, that most of the “transgenderism” attracting controversy in practice is generated by fad behavior exacerbated by certain social media practices.  Shrier wants to keep smart phones from kids completely until they are perhaps 16.  (Problem, we see teens on YT who are incredibly mature at 14 or 15, the exceptions.)  About 1 in maybe 400 children (thru early grades) may truly be “trans” without an identifiable biological cause.  School systems do need policies (not abusive state laws) to handle theses situations, as well as to handle Intersex.  The aims of SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) programs may sound laudable, but they need very careful planning, with consideration of enlarging science.  It would be helpful if well-informed and news-familiar parents would run for school boards and get elected.

Shrier does have a simple solution for bullying:  Ban it, regardless of the victim.  I got called into the nurse’s office in ninth grade for spreading rumors about a boy who had epilepsy in class (in 1958). I mention this in my first book.  If that happened today I should have wound up in an alternative high school for a year. The 2010 case of teen violinist Tyler Clementi at Rutgers is truly tragic, however, and needs better explanations, and would make for a good documentary film investigation.

We’re also left to ponder the “drag queen story hour” events at some pride festivals this month.  I sat in on one in Alexandria, VA last Saturday and it seemed to stay in bounds. The parents brought the kids, and it was outside the school systems.   There was no tipping, but a little fist clenching (leftist) and a few kids hugged the drag queen.

My take on Alexandria ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’

Not so in Dallas (“Drag the Kids to Pride”), apparently. That’s two weeks after I had visited the Cedar Springs strip myself.

Dallas “Drag the Kids to Pride” protest

I’ll add, I see there is at least a parallelism to the arguments I used against “don’t ask don’t tell” two-plus decades ago, and the issue of what kids should be taught about gender and sexuality in schools or what parents may wisely expose them to.   Hints have been dropped to me, why didn’t enter the childrens and gay rights books business, to prove I could sell books?  Well, partly because I have no kids.  Abd partly because the issues are really much harder to settle.  Although gays in the military didn’t look easy at first, and it took 17 years.  I have gotten rebuffs for using the phrase “gay conservative” in a book title (like that is hate speech) or the idea of a chapter titled “The Virtue of Maleness” in book 3, as if to attack those who were less cis than others.  Yes, a lot of people go around looking for ways to say their tribe is victimized, and that somehow that gives them a new identity.

There is a shift in LQBTQ activism, from the issue of sexual attraction (the former issues of sodomy laws, DADT, and then gay marriage) to a kind of “critical gender theory” today which I find much more problematic.  The latter is more what drives the idea of anti-LQBTQ zones in eastern Europe and is partly what also generates the anti-LGBTQ ideas in Russia, which Putin himself has tried to exploit in the Ukraine wars — grave stuff.  There is, also, though, the issue of declining birth rates, and less family formation.

All of this is winding back to the problems of personal agency, which I will continue to explore.

(Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 10:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Lex Fridman and Jonathan Haidt discuss the Internet and political polarization (and the effect on kids)

KS-CO border 2022-5-22

Lex Fridman (whose ancestry includes Russian and Ukrainian) interviews Jonathan Haidt, “The Case Against Social Media”, 102 minutes, June 4.

Lex Fridman interviews Johnathan Haidt

Haidt, recall, is a co-author of “The Coddling of the American Mind” (my 2019 review ; Amazon Site Stripe).

Lex has made several clips from this on his “Lex Clips” YouTube Channel.

Haidt has previously noted the “safeyism” that started to affect parents in the 1990s, when they would be less likely to let their kids play outside unsupervised (at least the richer kids).

He notes that the Internet gradually became more important to people as a source of information, with blogs and flat sites first, and then with social media (starting with Myspace) gradually becoming more important in the 2000’s.  (Remember all those Dr. Phil programs like around 2007, “Internet Mistakes” on Myspace first).  There were other problems, too (as shown by the NBC series “To Catch a Predator” that started in 2005), and some infamous incidents (like with Justin Berry). 

Starting around 2012 or so, after Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and YouTube, were more established, all larger tech companies started using algorithms based on recording visitor behavior and coordinating it with advertisers.  This business model tended to give people what they wanted to see. But it gradually drove political polarization, which enemies (like Russia) could subvert even before the 2016 election, when  Trump won.  Political polarization tends to lead to cancel culture, because people fear being “attacked” on a medium like Twitter by their “enemies”. 

But the algorithms also did something else. They particularly affected pre-teens (allowed to join most services around age 13), especially teen girls, who would become inordinately concerned about their social popularity online and their potential sexual competitiveness with boys before they had even finished puberty.   Some people argue this is driving some pre-teen girls to believe they are transgender and to seek social accommodation and treatment. (This will be covered again in another book discussion).

Haidt believes that people under 16 should not be allowed to have their own social media accounts, and that other online activities before 16 should be limited.

However, you run into some teenagers who were incredibly mature when they started Internet usage with their channels (like Max Reisinger and John Fish).  The social problems may be more severe for girls.

I’ll also share a recent video from PragerU about China’s recent “progress” with its social credit system.

(Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at 9 PM EDT)

Bret Weinstein doubles down on COVID origins and vaccine testing; Ballen presents Alibaba’s proposal for (soft and voluntary) climate-change social credit (personal carbon footprint scores)

Taste of Montreal truck at Alexandria Pride

Bret Weinstein is interviewed by Freddie Sayers of the Unherd, as Bret says, “I Will Be Vindicated About COVID“.

Weinstein insists that it is reckless to give mRNA vaccines to younger adults if not otherwise at great risk of severe disease.  He is critical of big Pharma’s business models. He insists that there has not been enough time to reasonably guess whether these vaccines will have now undetected long term effects on young adults.

My own impression from reading a lot, however, is that the risk even to young adults is greater if they get infected. 

Even Omicron seems to be more severe in the unvaccinated.  In the vaccinated and boosted, it often is very trivial and goes away within a day as a breakthrough.

On his own Darkhorse Podcast Clips he is interviewed by British reported Neil Oliver,  Her Weinstein insists we must reverse engineer the origin of the original strains in late 2019.  We won’t know how to properly assess vaccines, treatments, and other policies (like lockdowns) until we do. He is right in that until we know exactly how the Wuhan strains arose in late 2019 (maybe even sooner), we won’t be able to reliably predict how future variants could behave. Michael Mina has written recently on Twitter that the SARS_CoV2 is “baby virus” relative to humans and will mutate more than older viruses until it finds an optimal configuration for durable spread. This may be accompanied with less virulence (like common colds) but not necessarily.

Also, May 30, Mallen Baker discusses the proposals for a “green social credit system, apparently proposed at Davos by a Chinese company called Alibaba.

The basic idea is a “personal carbon footprint tracker”, which could eventually become quasi-mandatory and dystopian.

People could get incentives or credits for certain behaviors. 

Since I travel alone a lot this could really affect me.  I resist “podification”. 

(Posted: Monday, June 6, 2022 at 11:30 PM EST by John W. Boushka)