Moonbats in the Colorado classroom

A circular sent to parents at Centennial Elementary, a public grade school in Denver, Colorado, contained the following description of a new “Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles” curriculum that will be taught to children as young as five and six years old:

Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles

1. Restorative Justice

We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

2. Empathy

We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

3. Loving Engagement

We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.

4. Diversity

We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.

5. Globalism

We see ourselves as part of the global Black family and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black folk who exist in different parts of the world.

6. Queer Affirming

We are committed to fostering a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.

7. Trans Affirming

We are committed to embracing and making space for trans siblings to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

8. Collective Value

We are guided by the fact all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location.

9. Intergenerational

We are committed to fostering an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with capacity to lead and learn.

10. Black Families

We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.

11. Black Villages

We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.

12. Unapologetically Black

We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.

13. Black Women

We are committed to building a Black women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness.

Like most radical declarations, the above contains a dollop of the vague yet perfectly reasonable  (“a space free of ageism where we can learn from each other”) as the spoonful of sugar to make the more questionable medicine go down.

And what is questionable here? The declaration includes—to cite one example— “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the collective village”. 

Does that mean a society comprised of single mothers? What else could it mean, in practice? 

Even former President Obama, no one’s idea of a rightwing ideologue, takes a dim view of single motherhood as a new social “norm”. Study after study has shown that kids raised in stable “nuclear family dynamics” do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and generally have an easier path in life. The “collective village” might work—to a degree—in some small tribal societies. In a modern, diverse nation of 330 million, it’s pure utopian fantasy.

Likewise, “Queer Affirming” and “Transgender Affirming”?

Whoa, whoa…wait a minute. The Black Lives Matter movement has long since become like the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea: the actual meaning doesn’t match the name. As a statement divorced from the above manifesto, all of us can agree that, “Black Lives Matter”. But there are plenty of African Americans who would look at the above and say, “WTF?”

I like to get down to brass tacks with these things. How do we get from the self-evident “Black Lives Matter” to “a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists”?

And how, exactly, is heteronormativity to be tossed on the ash heap of history, when 95 to 97% of us are heterosexual? Heterosexuality is the norm, by definition. Tolerance of boutique sexualities is one thing, ignoring the facts of nature is another.

Keep in mind: the above educational manifesto is not the brainchild of some drunk college kids on social media. This is an initiative from a supposedly sane and responsible school board in Denver, Colorado. And they plan to teach this to 5- and 6-year-olds.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion, on the Internet and elsewhere, about parents demanding oversight of what public school teachers are teaching. 

That generally wasn’t an issue when I was a kid, in the 1970s and 1980s. In my childhood days, parents entrusted their children to the school system, and rarely, if ever, intervened. I don’t remember my parents ever questioning me about what my teachers were teaching, from an ideological or political perspective.

But then again, the schools I attended would never have come up with something as aberrant as this. When teachers and school board officials return to responsible behavior, parents will once again trust them.

Until then, expect a lot more parental oversight of what teachers and school board officials are doing behind closed classroom doors. 

Alec Baldwin and the art of grudging charity

I can remember a time when Alec Baldwin was mostly known for his movies. I genuinely enjoyed his performances in Great Balls of Fire (1989) and The Hunt for Red October (1990). He was once a talented actor.

But that was thirty years ago. Nowadays, Baldwin is much more likely to be in the news for giving someone a hard time, shooting off his mouth about politics, or suspicious and tragic events involving firearms and movie sets.

Baldwin doesn’t mingle much with the hoi polloi, and most of his nastiness is reserved for the high and mighty. In the case below, however, an ordinary American learned firsthand about Baldwin’s malicious side.

Jiennah McCollum is the widow of Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul on August 26, 2021. Rylee McCollum’s death was a direct result of the Biden administration’s botched pullout from Afghanistan last year.

Lance Cpl. McCollum’s sister, Roice McCollum, launched a GoFundMe for her brother’s pregnant widow and child last fall. Alec Baldwin saw the post on social media and contributed $5,000. 

Good for him, right? Well, not so fast. Earlier this year, Baldwin learned that Roice McCollum protested at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Baldwin got this information from McCollum’s Instagram feed.) Realizing that he had unwittingly given money to the sister-in-law and niece (Jiennah McCollum gave birth to a baby girl) of a Trump supporter, Baldwin went on the offensive. 

Baldwin drew attention to McCollum on his own Instagram feed, which is of course followed by lots of people with politics and personalities similar to Baldwin’s. The actor, having highlighted McCollum, typed, “Lots of Trumpsters chiming in here with the current cry that the attack on the Capitol was a protest, (a more peaceful form of which got a lot of other protestors imprisoned) and an exercise in democracy. That’s bullsh*t.”

The flying monkeys who follow Baldwin on Instagram predictably unleashed their fury on McCollum, bombarding her with insults, and even death threats. 

McCollum has since initiated a lawsuit against Baldwin. Although Baldwin has called Roice McCollum “an insurrectionist”, Roice’s lawsuit notes that she “was never detained, arrested, charged with or convicted of any crime associated with her attendance at the January 6, 2021, event in Washington, DC.” She merely protested the new administration in Washington D.C., as thousands of Democrats did on January 20, 2017, when Trump took office.

No one with politics much to the right of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a high opinion of Alec Baldwin, and I don’t claim to be an exception in this regard. I don’t actively boycott his movies; but it’s been at least four years since he’s been in a film that I’ve been interested in seeing. Mostly I ignore Baldwin, except when his asshattery (or a fatal movie set mishap involving a firearm) lands him in the news.

If you needed further proof that Alec Baldwin is a petty, vindictive, and possibly sociopathic human being, he has obligingly provided it with this incident. Roice McCollum is a twenty-something unknown from Wyoming. Alec Baldwin is a celebrity with a net worth of $60 million. Talk about not picking on someone your own size.

While he was going after Roice McCollum online, Baldwin made much of the fact that he had unknowingly made a charitable donation to a widow and fatherless child who were related to someone who didn’t share his politics. Typing on Instagram, Baldwin fumed to his 2.4 million followers, “I offered to send her sister-in-law [Jiennah McCollum] some $ as a tribute to her late brother, his widow and their child. Which I did…Then I find this.”

I think we have all occasionally bestowed material kindness, or otherwise given support, to someone whom we later learn to be our polar opposite in matters of religion and/or politics. The only way to avoid this is to never give money to anyone without subjecting them to a personal views audit. And that would be neither practical nor humanitarian.

Alec Baldwin provides an object lesson in how not to be a petty-minded, grudging giver. If you wish to be decent, don’t do as Baldwin does. 

Either give money to strangers in need, or don’t. But once you decide to give, don’t turn charity into aggression, when you later discover that the beneficiary of your giving doesn’t share your political beliefs.

Peloton and price elasticity of demand

I own a prosumer stationary bike (a Schwinn) which I purchased for $999 in December 2002. 

I’m not complaining about the price tag. I use the thing every day, and it still works, almost twenty years running. Best thousand bucks I ever spent. 

I have long had my eye on the high-tech Peloton bike, though. Like millions of exercise aficionados, I’ve been wowed by Peloton’s marketing campaign. 

I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. (My 2002 Schwinn is still perfectly serviceable.) But a Peloton bike remains on my wish list. 

Not all is well, though, with the 10-year-old fitness company. According to some leaked internal documents, Peloton plans to suspend production on some of its models. 

This is not due to a shortage of workers, or the recent supply chain woes. This is because of slackening demand.

This didn’t make sense to me on the surface. After all, the pandemic made home exercise options more attractive than ever. And everyone has seen those Peloton commercials. Product awareness certainly isn’t the problem here.

The problem is the price tag. Depending on which model you get, a Peloton bike will set you back $1,495 to $2,945. Prices are set to increase at the end of January.

Peloton’s pricing is on the steep side, though not exorbitant, for a high-end exercise bike. But that isn’t where the cost of owning a Peloton ends. 

The real sales pitch of the Peloton is the online, interactive group classes that go with the bike…so long as you keep paying. The classes will cost you a monthly fee of $39 for the all-access package. That’s almost what I pay per month for my health club here in Ohio.

Oh, and Peloton will also add delivery and setup fees at the end of this month, ranging from $250 to $350.

Perhaps that was the nail in the coffin, that caused demand for Peloton bikes to plummet(?)

What about the i-word, though? Everyone is aware of the inflation that is driving up the cost of everything, from gasoline to automobiles. 

Some of this inflation was inevitable, given the Great Shutdown of 2020. Last year, brilliant government minds everywhere decided that the best way to secure healthcare was to cripple the economic activity that actually pays for healthcare. Restarting the stopped economy has proven to be more difficult than anyone imagined.

Some of our inflation is also driven by excessive money-printing (aka “Bidenflation”). The Weimar Republic taught us what happens when governments print and spend money like mad. (In the Weimar Republic, they got hyperinflation and Hitler.) But the current crop of Democratic Party hacks never read that particular chapter of Economics for Dummies. 

Some of the recent inflation, though, is simply opportunistic. Otherwise known as “price gouging”. Companies raise prices simply because they can, in an environment in which other companies are raising their prices.

And sometimes it’s a little bit of all of these factors.

Another principle of economics, however, is price elasticity of demand. Basically this means that price increases affect the demand for different products and services to differing degrees, depending on how essential they are, and what substitutes are available. 

For some products, demand will remain more or less constant in the face of price increases. This is the stuff that people absolutely need. Food, water, shelter, and heating oil are all inelastic, meaning that demand largely holds steady, even when the prices of these goods increase.

Other products—like expensive exercise bikes, for example—are highly elastic. This is the stuff that people want, but can live without.

This means that while you might long for a $2,800 Peloton, you can make due with something cheaper—like a lower-priced exercise bike, or maybe a pair of sneakers. (Don’t go jogging without a can of bear spray, though, if you live in a big Democrat-run city. Violent crime has soared in these places, since they “defunded the police”—another 2020 stroke of governmental brilliance.)

I still like the Peloton bike. I want to be like the trendy people in the Peloton commercials. The women in these commercials are invariably hot, and the men all look like perfectly fit stockbrokers and hotshot attorneys. Not a single paunch or case of male pattern baldness among them.

But as someone who has been a consumer of fitness equipment since around 1982, the Peloton just doesn’t seem like a great value to me. I remind you: my $999, 2002 Schwinn stationary bike still works. And when I do inevitably replace it, there are many options that provide better value than the Peloton. 

Maybe the folks who run Peloton will change that equation before my Schwinn stops running; but the company’s recently announced price increases (and added delivery/setup charges) suggest otherwise.

***

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War over Ukraine?

Let’s face it, folks. Thirty years after the collapse of the USSR, Russia is still a pretty messed-up country. 

Not that the USA is in any great shape right now. But Russia has spent the past 20 years under the control of Vladimir Putin, who is basically a cross between a Romanov czar and a Soviet general secretary. 

Putin is intent on reestablishing the old boundaries of the USSR, and the old sphere of influence of the Warsaw Pact. 

As I type this, Putin seems poised for an invasion of Ukraine. (For those readers unfortunate enough to attend an American public school since 1995, Ukraine is a former Soviet republic, and was the breadbasket of the USSR prior to 1991.)

Biden is saying that Putin cannot invade Ukraine…except when Biden says that maybe he can. Except when Vice President Harris tries to do damage control for the incoherent messaging of President Biden. But VP Harris is no model of clarity or decisiveness, either.

In short: there is no way that the USA is going to war with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine. The Biden administration cannot even secure the US border with Mexico. What makes anyone think that he could secure the borders of Ukraine?

So who’s left? The European members of NATO? Don’t make me laugh. Or how about the Swedes, with all their gender-neutral pronouns? (The Vikings must be crying in their mead in Valhalla, glimpsing the 21st-century Swedish male, or what suffices for such.)

How do you say, “a bunch of wussies” in Swedish?

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: Ukraine really isn’t part of the USA’s vital national interests. For much of my life, Moscow controlled Ukraine, and we never noticed any difference. 

This doesn’t mean that I’m cavalier about the matter. I wish the Ukrainians well. But the sad truth is that if Putin invades their country, the outside world will do little to stop or reverse his actions. 

‘The Rockland Horror 4’ available for preorder

I’m presently working on The Rockland Horror 4. As the title suggests, this is the fourth installment in The Rockland Horror series. 

The release date for the book has been set for May 3, 2022. It should be available before then, however. (I would imagine sometime in January or February of next year; March at the latest.)

If you would like to order the book in advance (at a reduced price), then you can do so here, via Amazon. Another advantage to the preorder is that the book will drop automatically onto your Kindle when it comes out.

If you would prefer to wait, or if you haven’t read the first three books of The Rockland Horror series, then you can either check back here (I’ll announce the actual release with a blog post, of course) or check  The Rockland Horror series page at Amazon. 

A note on reading order.  While each of the books is a self-contained story, they are best read in order. If you haven’t read books 1, 2, and 3, I would recommend that you start with those. 

Christmas 1975

Happy Tuesday, everyone. As we are now approaching Christmas, here is a Christmas photo from 46 years ago.

The above photo was taken on Christmas Eve 1975. My maternal grandmother, the camera bug of the family, almost certainly took the photo. 

My parents are the two youngish adults. I am seated on the far right, in red.

The cat’s name was Patches. A very even-tempered cat, as I recall.

The mid-1970s was not a great time for America. Vietnam, Watergate, and the social turmoil of the late 1960s were all still recent memories. Although the specific issues were different, the country was very divided in 1975, much as it is in 2021.  Continue reading “Christmas 1975”

Horror fiction in the factory

Read, “The Robots of Jericho” here on Edward Trimnell Books.

This is one of my early short stories. It was inspired by my many years in the automotive industry.

I’ve spent a lot of time in factories of various kinds, and that means plenty of time around industrial robots.

Industrial robots often seem to be alive. “The Robots of Jericho” is a story about what happens when some actually do come alive.

‘The Winds of War’ by Herman Wouk

I’ve recently started reading Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War. 

Or rather, rereading it, I should say. I read the book for the first time back in the summer of 1986.

That was the summer I graduated from high school. Needless to say, I’m a few years older now. The Winds of War, moreover, is mostly gone from my memory banks, save the barest elements of the plot. So this is like reading it for the first time.

(My general rule of thumb is: If you enjoyed a book, consider reading it again after 10 years; it will be a different book. I’m therefore more than overdue to give The Winds of War a second reading.)

This is a very good novel, even though it breaks some of the “rules” of good novel writing. For example, the novels contains huge swaths of backstory in the opening chapters. 

Vintage cover from the 1980s

I believe that this will be a fast read, despite the page count of over one thousand pages. Continue reading “‘The Winds of War’ by Herman Wouk”

December 7, 1941 + 80 years

The sinking of the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941

On this, the 80th anniversary of the event, remember Pearl Harbor, and those Americans who died there.

I have no memory of the day, obviously. Nor do any of my living relatives. 

But my maternal grandfather told me about it. He heard the news on the radio, within hours of the actual bombardment.  Continue reading “December 7, 1941 + 80 years”

New World War 2 epic

I’ve got a new series coming out, which you’ll be able to preview on Edward Trimnell Books:

THE CAIRO DECEPTION

In 1938, a rogue German physicist flees to Cairo to prevent Hitler from acquiring the atom bomb.

On his side are his rebellious daughter, and a restless American treasure hunter.

Pitted against him are a ruthless Gestapo agent, and a beautiful American woman with Nazi sympathies.

 

BOOK ONE: THE FIFTH COLUMN

It is summer, 1937, in the town of Dutch Falls, Pennsylvania.

Elisabeth “Betty” Lehmann is a 19-year-old woman who works in her family’s business— a small-town general store.

Oh, and she’s also a member of the German-American Bund, an organization that actively supports Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.

Betty is present at a Bund rally when unwelcome visitors arrive.

Read the sample chapters here!

Winter is coming. So is the end of 2021

A view from my lawn this morning. In my part of the world (southern Ohio, Cincinnati area), the last of the warm weather seems to have departed for the year. These last two nights, the temperatures have dipped down into the 20s.

That’s typical for November, of course. And while there’s nothing we can do about the weather, it is worth reflecting for a moment….that 2021 is drawing to a close.

You have 58 days (including today) until the end of the year. The time is now to take stock, and apply the gas pedal to any projects that you want to have completed before January 1, 2022.

I know I have a few of my own. The last 58 days of 2021 will be busy ones, indeed, for me.

What do you have planned before 2021 draws to a close?

Start ‘The Rockland Horror’ series for FREE: November 1 through 5

I am working on BOOK 4 of THE ROCKLAND HORROR series. THE ROCKLAND HORROR is a multigenerational horror saga about a cursed house in Indiana.

BOOK 4 will be set in the immediate post-WWII era of 1945 to 1946. More information on that shortly.

BOOKs 1, 2, and 3 are already available on Amazon, and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (for those of you who read through KU.)

BOOK 1 is FREE on Kindle for everyone from November 1 through 5, 2021. 

Keep in mind that Amazon manages the back end of all of this, and the exact hours at the tail end of the free run may vary, depending on your time zone. (So grab it early. Don’t wait until 11:58 p.m. on November 5.)

If you’re interested in trying out the series with a zero commitment, this is your chance.

If you’re interested in trying out Kindle Unlimited, check it out here.

Trick-or-treat hours, HOA shenanigans, and my Halloween 2021 report

Halloween 2021 went fairly well in my part of the world, with pleasantly warm weather (and the departure of an extended pattern of rain that left the Cincinnati area just in time).

I live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, or HOA. The HOA is a Sovietized institution that is always meddlesome, and occasionally a creative outlet for aspiring Stalins and Pol Pots. Participation in the administration of an HOA is voluntary, and tends to draw personality types who don’t like minding their own business. 

The parents in my HOA got together this year and voted to extend trick-or-treat hours for one hour beyond the 6 pm to 8 pm time frame designated by the local government. (Another thing about HOAs: they regularly mistake themselves for governments.) So trick-or-treat in my neighborhood was set at three hours this year, lasting from 5 pm to 8 pm.

I thought this was unnecessary, but you have to pick your battles in this world. I went along without any outward grumbling. I enjoyed Halloween as a kid (a theme I explore in my novel 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN), and I don’t begrudge today’s children the pleasure of trick-or-treating.

But three hours of trick-or-treating turned out to be more hours on foot than the average child or parent in my neighborhood could handle. The net result of the time extension was that everyone in the neighborhood went trick-or-treating from 5 pm till 7 pm, and the streets were empty during the hour from 7 till 8.

The ambitious members of my HOA at work…

Speaking of parents and Halloween: I have written before of the downside of helicopter parenting; but there is one upside which I must acknowledge: less youthful mischief on October 31. During my youth in the 1970s and 1980s, Halloween was basically a free-for-all, with kids running wild. Sometimes they victimized homeowners with vandalism, and other kids with bullying.

There seems to be much less of that nowadays, at least in my pleasant suburban part of the world. Change is rarely all good or all bad. It almost always involves a series of tradeoffs, with some things getting better, and some things getting worse. 

BLOOD FLATS: new cover

BLOOD FLATS, originally published in 2011, was my first novel. It is the story of a former marine who goes on a quest to clear his name after he is wrongly blamed for a double homicide.

BLOOD FLATS is the story of a journey–with lots of gunfights along the way, of course.

I reedited and republished the book last year; but the cover sorely needed updating. This is the newest cover (and the third since the book’s publication). 

View BLOOD FLATS on Amazon.