‘Tis the season (for asking for money), plus video!

DonationI’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite sites are asking for end-of-year financial donations to help fund ongoing costs (e.g., National Review and Commentary). It seems to me that, if they can do it, there’s surely a message in there for me.

So I come to now you with begging hat in hand: If you aren’t still reeling from the Obama economy, and if the $18 trillion national debt hasn’t caused you to start hoarding your money, and if you feel that my daily maundering contributes some value to your life, perhaps you can see your way to sending me a little small change. You and I both know that I blog because I’m driven to do so, but that doesn’t mean I’m entirely immune to financial incentives.

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Warning about another change to the system

Broken computerI’m making another change to my blog.  My hope is that this change will make the blog more accessible to everyone.  I like my new blog format, which most people find easier to read.  The one down side is that the larger text and narrower columns mean that my posts take up a lot of vertical space.  People who want to see, say, the last five posts I’ve published, will have to scroll and scroll and scroll to discover what’s new since the last time they checked (or, if they’re new to the site entirely, to discover what type of things I write about overall).

The logical answer is to insert a “read more” code into my posts.  I’ve hesitated to do so in the past, because the “read more” button was programmed to send the reader away from the home page and to the page dedicated to that specific post.  After reading the page, one then has to click back to the home page.  This seems like a little thing, but it’s not.  Most people want to stay on the home page.  They want to browse through the beginning of each post and, if one catches their attention, to read more of that post without leaving the home page.

Thankfully, I’ve finally discovered the plug-in to make the ideal a reality.  From here on out, the “read more” link will expand a given post without navigating away from the home page.  Moreover, if you finish reading the article and click the “read more” link a second time, it will close the article up again, still leaving you on the same page.

You can experiment with this new system here:

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More information about the Disqus conversion

disqusMy wonderful webmaster passed on to me some specific information about the way in which existing commenters can convert to being Disqus commenters.  It’s an easy process and allows them to keep their commenting identity.

To reclaim your comments and identity:

  1. Sign up for a Disqus account.
  2. Verify your email address.
  3. Merge your accounts.

And remember, you can use this easy access Disqus account across all websites that subscribe, regardless of whether they’re WordPress or Blogger or some other platform.

Blog news: I’ve changed my comment format to Disqus

disqusBig news: I’ve switched my comment system to Disqus. I made the switch for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that my current system was doing an inadequate job of protecting me against spam. Every day, for the past several weeks, my inbox has been deluged with spam comments requiring moderation. I have enough trouble at the best of times dealing with my inbox, so it was time for a change.

I chose Disqus as the new comment format because it allows people who have Facebook to sign in without having to create a special account, which encourages more conversations. Disqus also allows people who don’t have a Facebook account to easily create a Disqus account just for commenting — and they can use this, not just at my blog, but at all blogs that have the increasingly common Disqus comment feature. There’s also a possibility that, because I’m in the process of exporting all pre-existing WordPress comments into Disqus (which may take up to 24 hours), regular readers will already find their accounts loaded and ready to use.

As is always the case when I switch up the system a bit, I expect that there will be problems. Please don’t hesitate to let me know your opinion, either by leaving a comment (if you can) or by sending an email to me at Bookwormroom at gmail.com. Your feedback matters greatly to me, so don’t be shy about expressing your opinion.

Welcome to the Canardvark

Welcome matAs you see, below, the Bookworm Room welcomes a new contributor, the Canardvark.  He used to blog regularly under his own name at a prestigious site, but the demands of his real-world life made that unsustainable.  After a few years of lying fallow, he asked if he could occasionally contribute to the Bookworm Room.  I jumped at the offer.

I’m not giving too much away about his super-secret identity when I tell you that the Canardvark is clever (hence the funny, punny name), thoughtful, well-informed, and knowledgeable about national security issues, among other things.  I’m absolutely thrilled that he will be writing here occasionally.  Indeed, I’ve urged him to ditch the occasional part and write regularly, but I’ll take anything I can get.

I really have nothing to say

HeadacheSome time ago, I don’t quite remember when, I told you that my output was slow because I was adjusting to a new medicine for controlling my migraines.  Fortunately, not only did the medicine work against the headaches, I also got used to it sufficiently to get my old brain back.  Sadly, though, as is often the case with these medicines, it suddenly stopped doing its job.

Since life with migraines isn’t much to celebrate, I contacted my neurologist, who has put me on a new medicine to control migraines.  I’ve been on the medicine for three days now, and have been migraine-free for the second and third day, so that’s a good sign.

The down side of this experiment is that, as happened with the last go-round of migraine medicines, the creative, analytical part of my brain has shut down.  I usually see words and ideas in these layered, interlocking dimensions.  Ideas for posts explode in my head and the posts pretty much write themselves (for better or worse, as the case may be).

Today, however, with the new medicine doing its anti-migraine magic, I can barely think in one dimension, let alone multiple, interlocking layers.  Ideas float vaguely through my head — e.g., “Obama = hubris = ancient Greeks = new concept in America, which hasn’t ever had rule by an unfettered monarch” — only to lie there.  I can’t build them into anything.

I anticipate that, as happened the last time around, my brain will adjust and I’ll start being able to write with fluidity and verve again (for better or worse, as the case may be).  Until then, I hope you’ll bear with me if my blogging is a little weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.

In the meantime, if you’re desperate for Bookworm prose with some life behind it, feel free to check out my latest collection, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America. Moreover, if you read it, and if you like it, and if you feel in the mood to do a little writing yourself, please don’t hesitate to leave a review at the Amazon page. (Will you think me weak and hypocritical if I don’t suggest that those who dislike it leave reviews as well?)

Gack! I’ve done it again — I’ve self-published a book on Amazon

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERI’ve been silent today for a reason:  I was putting the finishing touches on my Kindle e-book, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, which has just gone live at Amazon. It’s a collection of my favorite posts from the last three years.  I describe it on Amazon as follows:

In 2008, President Barack Obama promised that he would fundamentally transform America — and that’s one of the few promises he’s kept. In a series of clear, elegant, witty essays, Bookworm looks at the changes in American society since Obama became president. These changes have seen America become a poorer, less safe, less free, more racially-charged nation, adrift in a world that, without America as both protector and anchor, is also become increasingly poor and dangerous.

I had a lot of fun assembling the book.  I was rather delighted to see how prescient I was when discussing Obamacare, the Obama economy, foreign policy, educational trends, etc.  I was also pleased to see that my original posts, which I tend to slam out in bouts of frenzied writing between parenting, household maintenance, caring for my mother, and the occasional legal job, were fairly coherent.  They all had typos (sigh!) and awkward phrases, but once I ironed those things out, they seem to me to read pretty darn well.

Also, please note the bee-yoo-ti-ful cover, which a friend of mine, who is a professional graphic designer, created for me.  If you’re interested in working with him on your own e-book, or have other graphic design needs, you can see his contact information on the inside title page.  (You can see that title page simply by downloading a Sample of the book.)

If you enjoy my writing, please consider buying the book (a bargain at $2.99).  I will receive $2.05 for every book sold.  You’ll get reading pleasure (I hope), and I’ll get a return on the effort I put into blogging.  As you know, I blog compulsively, rather than to earn money, but it’s really nice to see a little money coming in for the effort.

Some changes to the site

Hey, everyone!  Notice the snazzy, yet austere, new look?  It’s not permanent.  My wonderful webmaster, Terry Trippany, is trying to figure out why, occasionally, all you see at my site is a string of advertisements.  There’s obviously something nasty buried in my theme’s coding.  After fruitlessly looking through endless lines of code, Terry realized that the only way to deal with the problem is to throw everything out and start anew.

This is a really nice, clean-looking theme, but it has some deficits, most notably the fact that it’s two columns, not three.  And although all the ads were irritating, I want them back, because I was earning money off of them — at least enough to keep the dogs in kibble and the mice in mouse food.

So, expect to see some changes over time as Trip works to get rid of some nasty malware that took up residence at the Bookworm Room

Same old, same old, which I enliven with predictions for the next twelve months *UPDATED*

bored-baby

Here’s an old joke:

An established comedian invited a friend to join him at a very exclusive “comedian’s club.”  The guest instantly noticed something peculiar.  In the main room, a person would periodically stand up and shout out a number.  “57,” one would say, and a few people in the room would chuckle.  After a moment’s silence, someone would holler, “18,” and be rewarded with a chorus of good-natured “boos.”

This pattern continued for a while, until someone shouted out “77.”  While a few people let out a short bark of laughter, one guy in the corner was utterly beside himself.  He roared with laughter, until tears were rolling down his face.

The guest turned to his host and asked, “What gives?  What is it with these numbers?”

“Well,” the host explained, “it’s like this.  We’re all professional comedians here and, to be honest, there are only so many jokes around.  It got tiring and boring for someone to tell a joke that everyone already knew, so we started assigning them numbers.  It’s kind of like a joke short-hand.  People still laugh — if they want — but it definitely saves time.”

“Okay,” said the guest.  “I get that.  But what about that guy in the corner who collapsed with laughter when someone shouted out ’77’.”

Oh, him,” answered the host.  “I guess he hadn’t heard that joke before.”

Yes, it’s a surreal joke, but it also explains why I’m having problems blogging lately.  When I read a story about Obamacare, I can’t add much to posts I’ve written going all the way back to 2009.  I predicted then what would happen now.  “You’ll find that in posts 384, 943, 6749, and 34052.”  Events in the Middle East?  I foresaw those too, including Obama’s love affair with Iran, and Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s entirely predictable coming together against that common enemy.  “See posts 3489 and 9492.”  Government data manipulation?  We covered that too, as we did with gun control, amnesty, foreign policy, etc.

I’ve moved out of fresh and into “I told you so.”  As a writer, “I told you so” is boring.  It’s also especially boring for all of you, because you were right there with me, making the same predictions.  We all saw all of this coming.

The only thing that’s kind of newsy now is watching the oh-so-smart Leftists figure out that they’ve been had.  It’s not actually real news, of course, because we all saw this coming too, but it’s still fun to watch.  As to these Obamabots, it’s not just that a specific politician has “had” them.  Their entire ideology is disintegrating in front of their eyes.  Most, of course, will plunge into frenetic denial.  That’s old stuff too.  For 100 years, communists have been saying that communism is perfect; it’s the implementation that’s flawed.  When today’s Leftist’s rant against the president, the party, and the people, they’re foll0wing an old script.

A few Leftists, however, will draw back and say, “We were wrong.  We were wrong about everything.”  That’s been done too.  They’ll be joining David Horowitz, Michael Medved, Thomas Lifson, David Mamet, Sally Zelikovsky, the Power Line guys, and scores of other people who already had their Road to Damascus moment when they realized that Leftism isn’t poorly implemented; it is, instead, fundamentally flawed.  I certainly won’t think as highly of these new converts as I do of the older generation.  The older generation didn’t need to see America’s economic collapse and her fade into international irrelevance to see which way the wind was blowing.

Since everything seems to be “same old, same old,” except even more so, what would be new and exciting news for a blase blogger in the next twelve months?

1.  Obamacare’s repeal, although unscrambling that egg will be virtually impossible.  Even if they wanted to, huge institutions such as heavily-regulated insurance companies and hospitals cannot turn on a dime.  The somewhat functioning market will have been destroyed, which nothing lined up to take its place.  Worse, we know that Republicans politicians are incapable of using the headwinds of repeal to revitalize the free market.  (Remember:  Democrats have bad ideas and effective politicians; and Republicans have good ideas and brain-dead cretins in office.)

2.  A groundswell of popular support for Obama’s impeachment.  Of course, that would leave Biden in charge, which is not a pretty thought.  The likelihood is that, if he could, he’d move Elizabeth Warren into the Veep seat to stymie Hillary.  It would be amusing, but just as bad for America as Obama himself.

3.  Israel’s alliance with the Gulf States to launch a devastating attack against Iran’s missile systems and nuclear centers.  With strong American leadership, this could actually have a good outcome, freeing Iranians from decades of appalling Islamist repression and destabilizing tyrannies in a way that leads to genuine freedom throughout the Middle East.  With our current leadership, a leadership that will have made such an attack necessary in the first place, one can only imagine that the Middle East, the entire Middle East, will manage simultaneously to implode and explode.  The human costs will exceed imagination and, because of oil, those costs will encompass the entire planet.  Canada, Brazil, the US, and other places may be coming up as major oil producers, but losing Middle Eastern oil in a single day would have incalculable consequences on modern life.

4.  The 2014 elections resulting in a Republican sweep the likes of which has never been seen in America.  In a way, though, coming as it would midway through Obama’s so-far disastrous second term, this would also be ho-hum news, even if both House and Senate changed hands.  What would be more interesting would be to see places such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco jettison their Democrat ruling class.  I’m not holding my breath on that one.  The residents in those cities routinely use elections to double down on failure.

5.  Obama comes out of the closet.  (And, come on, you know he’s in there.)  That wouldn’t affect anything politically, but it would make for great headlines, especially if Hillary refuses to be one-upped and comes out too.

6.  Schadenfreude here, but I will enjoy watching New York in the first year of the de Blasio administration.  I should start running a pool taking bets as to how long it will take de Blasio to reduce New York to its 1970s status.  We all know that it’s easier and faster to tear down and destroy something than it is to renew and revitalize.

7.  The New York Times will declare bankruptcy.  I see that as inevitable, although would actually be surprised if it happened in the next twelve months.

8.  People definitively reject anthropogenic global warming.  As with the New York Times’ bankruptcy, this is inevitable.  I just don’t see it happening in only 12 months.

9.  Oprah recants and announces that she’s no longer calling for the genocide of “racist” people who don’t support Obama.

10.  Palestinians lay down their arms.  The previous nine hoped-for headlines all have a possibility, even a small one, of coming true.  This one does not, but it sure would be great news, and it would snap me completely out of my writer’s doldrums.

And, for those joining me in ennui, some music:

UPDATE: Hmmm. A James O’Keefe tweet suggests that tomorrow may bring some news we haven’t already heard before.

Woot! My post comparing Ted Cruz’s filibuster to the Spartan “300” inspired Chris Muir’s wonderful “Day By Day” cartoon

I’ve long been a big fan of Chris Muir’s “Day By Day” cartoon.  It’s intelligent, witty, and sophisticated.  You can imagine, then, how thrilled I am to have inspired his latest cartoon, this one about Ted Cruz:

Chris Muir cartoon

(If you missed the reference to my blog, check the very bottom of the cartoon panel.)

Honestly, this is so cool.

The post to which Chris refers is this one, which I believe in more now than on the day I wrote it:

"I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare."

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare.”

Most people, whether Democrat or Republican, agree that Ted Cruz’s planned filibuster in the Senate is doomed. It will do nothing to stop Obamacare’s inexorable path towards implementation. (To understand precisely what the filibuster is about, Ace has a good, short explanation.)

Because Ted Cruz is nobody’s fool, I’m guessing that he too knows that it won’t stop Obamacare from getting fully implemented within the next few months. Why, then, is Cruz engaged in this quixotic effort? I think I have the answer, but you’ll have to bear with me, because it involves taking a little trip back, back in time . . . to the Battle of Thermopylae.

[snip]

Even now, 2,500 years later, the Spartans’ brave stand at Thermopylae still has the power to inspire us. Victory wasn’t the point. The point was to fight and to educate Greeks about their merciless enemy and its overwhelming drive for power. Leonidas and his men may have died there, but their ghosts led the Greeks to eventual victory.

Which gets me back to Ted Cruz and his buddies in the Senate. They’re not stupid. They know that this filibuster will be futile. But they know two other things as well: Filibusters grab headlines, which gives them a golden opportunity to lift the cone of silence that the mainstream media places between Republicans and voters.

Under the current media regime, Republican arguments and statements get to the voters only if small fry Republicans get arrested, or say something “provocative” about gay marriage or abortion. Other than that, most voters would be hard pressed to know what conservatives politicians and thinkers are saying.

“Come and take them.”

“Come and take them.”

Imagine someone as intelligent and articulate as Ted Cruz – a man who has a knack for clearly stating complex principles – speaking directly to the voters about Obamacare, without the media acting as his “interpretor.” And remember, if he does filibuster, he’ll be speaking to voters who, for the most part, are already beginning to realize that, with Obamacare, they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Absent a miracle, Cruz will lose on the filibuster. The Republican establishment will start bleating out “I told you so” on every “news” show they can find. And Obamacare will go forward.

But here’s what Cruz also knows: Obamacare will be a disaster. We know that for certain. Indeed, the best evidence you need is Congress’s frantic effort to ward off Obamacare in its own marbled halls. If that’s not enough, look at the diminution in choice, the price increases for the middle class, the lost jobs, the lost insurance coverage, and the downward adjustments in working hours.  We, the people, are going to be badly hurt by Obamacare.

Americans aren’t going to learn about the nasty stuff hiding in Obamacare until they experience it first hand.  What was an abstract political fight in Washington, D.C. will become a genuine problem in their day-to-day lives.  And that’s when Ted Cruz will pop back up again and say (nicely, of course), “Remember me? I tried to warn you and I tried to help. Trust me to have the courage and the wisdom to fix this. But this time, you have to stand with me to win the battle.”

The filibuster is Cruz’s Thermopylae. He knows that, whether he wins or loses, in the long term he will be the victor.  When it all falls apart, Ted Cruz will be seen and remembered for coming down on the side of sanity and freedom.

There’s nothing new under the sun

I’ve always like Ecclesiastes.  The ennui can be a bit much, but it’s a good reminder that humans, like other animals, fall into patterns, and that the earth abides:

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Sometimes we need to remember that, although we are each individuals with a divine spark and the capacity for greatness, we’re also part of a greater whole that has been here before and that will be here long after each individual is gone.

If you’re wondering why I’m waxing poetic (and waxing Biblical), it’s because I’ve been at a bit of a loss lately when it comes to posting.  Part of this is because even I seem to have an upper limit on written output, and between writing for Mr. Conservative morning and evening, and doing legal work for a client in the middle of the day, both my fingers and my brain are tired.

But the real reason I’m not writing so much is because there’s not much to say other than what I’ve said before:  Obama is feckless; Islam is dangerous; Europe is antisemitic; schools are propaganda factories; borders are porous; Republicans like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; the media is dishonest; ObamaCare is a disaster; blah, blah, blah.  Here we are at Wednesday of this week, and I haven’t read anything in the news that strikes me as new or different from anything last week, or the week before.

And so I’ll leave you with a song and the hope that, either the world perks up or my brain does, or both: