Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit and the Sky is Falling

Among the establishment types, globalist elites, and their allies, reactions to the results of the June 23rd Brexit referendum in Britain have been uniformly dire. You would think that Godzilla walked up the Thames, belched out a fireball, and smoked London. 

There have been widespread assertions that the Brexit was nothing more than xenophobic bigotry. There have also been prognostications of disaster for the UK, Europe…and possibly the entire world! Maybe even the whole universe, while we’re at it!

I’m exaggerating, but only a little. Even J.K. Rowling—the author of all those Harry Potter books—is getting in on the post-Brexit, anti-Brexit action. A noisily outspoken advocate of “remain” for months, Rowling has used her public media footprint and her social media accounts to shame to the “leave” faction and signal her own globalist virtues. 

Rowling declared her pride in being part of the 48% who voted for a continuation of the status quo—and then proceeded to compare “leave” voters to the villains in her children’s stories. And, of course, mini-Trumps.

Rowling is to be commended for her success as a children’s author; but nothing in her background makes her uniquely qualified to hold forth on political or economic matters. Where the Brexit is concerned, in other words, she’s just another citizen, another blokette. Her guess is no better than yours, and possibly it’s much worse: The “Voldemort argument” isn't exactly brilliant as rhetoric. And the “mini-Trump” charge is embarrassingly low-hanging fruit for people of a certain political persuasion.

The U.S. mainstream media, meanwhile, has engaged in slightly more subdued finger-wagging, predicting that Anglo-American relations will be strained in the wake of the Brexit. President Obama is in full crisis mode. (Prior to the referendum, he publicly scolded British voters, declaring that they should reject independence.) 

You would think, by all this melodrama, that Britain had just declared war on the Continent. And far too many people have been taught to conflate any assertion of national sovereignty with “bigotry” or “xenophobia”—on both sides of the Atlantic pond.

But these latter two words exist in a separate category for a reason. As an American, I have nothing against the good people of Poland or France—or Mexico— for that matter. That does not mean that I would like to see the U.S. merge politically and economically with any of these nations. 

Does that sentiment make me bigoted or xenophobic? Among some globalist extremists, it would.

The fact of the matter is that bigger is not always better where political bodies are concerned. We Americans have enough difficulty resolving differences among the states. And we come from a common culture and speak the same language—most of the time. 

I live on the Ohio side of the Ohio-Kentucky border. There are plenty of people on both sides of the Ohio River who will tell you that the land on the opposite bank is a different country, or should be. And that’s Ohio and Kentucky. Alabama and California practically are different countries. 

Europeans have spent centuries resisting political domination by a single administrative entity: the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany, the USSR. Why all this sentimentality over the Beast of Brussels, and shaming for those who resist its expensive, meddling embrace?

We also see amid this fracas how self-declared progressives and liberals (the main advocates of “remain”) can be so, well…selectively reactionary. These are the people who have insisted, for roughly the past fifty years or so, that we should jettison our age-old institutions of Judeo-Christianity, and socially engineer new definitions for family and gender. But we mustn't tamper with a supranational political union that has existed in its current form for less than twenty-five years! If we do that, all hell will break loose, and we’ll probably deserve it.

The Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992 and implemented in 1993. The Euro was introduced only in 1999. If the Euro were a person, it would barely be old enough to drive, and it wouldn't be able to vote yet.

If my high school history classes served me well, Britain and the United Kingdom have been around since slightly before all that. Throughout many of those years—those centuries, rather—the country did quite well on its own. 

And don’t give me any of those but-this-is-the-era-of-globalization cliches. It’s always been the era of globalization. Ask the Gauls who were conquered by the ancient Romans. Ask the millions throughout the Mediterranean who were absorbed into the Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great. Ask the Native Americans who were displaced by Europeans. 

Moreover, can we forget for a moment that an accident of geography has placed the British Isles off the coast of Europe? Would you insist that your daughter marry your neighbor’s son just because his parents happen to live next door? If you were going to pick a business partner, would your next-door neighbor be your automatic first choice? If we’re so darn global nowadays, then geography should not be the sole determinant of the countries you align yourself with.

There are plenty of countries—the United States, Canada, and Japan come immediately to mind—that have done quite well without membership in the EU. There is no reason to think that the UK can’t prosper without it as well. After all, the UK has prospered without he European Union in the past.

Far from seeing the Brexit as a British self-detonation or an expression of xenophobia, we should see the Brexit as an exercise of national self-determination. 

The UK gave the EU more than twenty years—about a generation. A substantial number of Britons didn't like the results; things didn't work out as promised and planned. 

Therefore, last week the country’s electorate voted in a national referendum to change course. 

That isn't bigotry or suicide; that’s democracy and self-determination in action.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

'Gate Time: a short tale of terror': the video

From my YouTube channel: a reading of my short story, 'Gate Time': This is a short story about a frequent business travel who sees ghosts in airports:

"Josh Gardner spent a lot of time in airports. That territory came with a job in software sales. As a sales rep for EntroSoft, Josh was responsible for three dozen corporate accounts in eleven states. Every week it was the same routine: airports and hotel rooms and rental cars. But EntroSoft’s commission structure was decent; and Josh preferred living out of a suitcase to being stuck in an office all day, like so many other working schmucks. It was still work—but work with a certain degree of freedom. 
Not that there was no monotony involved. Flying often meant hours stranded in an airport, waiting for a connecting flight. When the flights lined up poorly, a layover could last as long as three hours. 
The key to staying sane during a long layover was knowing how to entertain yourself. He had that problem solved. Airports were a great place for people-watching. Josh was in his early thirties and still single, so most of his people-watching involved people of the female persuasion. (And women always dressed to the nines when they flew.) But airports offered human novelties of every gender, age, and creed: foreigners babbling in incomprehensible languages, oddballs peddling flowers and handing out pamphlets, and so many businesspersons like himself. 
Josh was not shy about talking to strangers (how could you be, and survive in sales?); and he occasionally struck up a conversation with someone who might prove influential in the next deal, or even the next job. It could never hurt to pad your Rolodex. 
So Josh was not particularly taken aback when the man in the navy uniform spoke to him out of the blue.....

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

'Luk Thep: an online novel': Chapter 17

Previous: Chapter 16


TRX Automotive’s annual business meeting was held in the auditorium at the company’s Novi headquarters. (TRX, like many corporate entities, had in recent years developed the trendy affectation of referring to its main office complex as a “campus”, though practically no one among the employee ranks ever referred to it as such.)

There was no assigned seating. The auditorium was filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Jane walked into the thrumming mass, and tried to spot Khajee among the hundreds of people in attendance. Finding a seat for herself would be difficult enough. 

She found a seat in the middle of the vast crowd. At the center of the stage, the master of ceremonies, a vice president of accounting, was testing the microphone at the podium, his face cast in angular shadows by the overhead stage lights. Even he seemed to regard the forthcoming proceedings as an arduous forced march. This was going to be a long day, and she might not have a chance to confront Khajee.

When Martin spoke in her ear, Jane almost cried aloud,

“Are you all right?” Martin said in a low whisper, but loud enough so that he could be heard above the general buzz of conversation.

Jane swiveled around in her seat. The auditorium was laid out like a classical amphitheater. Each row of seats was slightly more elevated than the one closer to the stage. Therefore Martin, being seated behind her, was also slightly above her. 

“I’m doing much better, thanks,” she said. She did not believe her own words, and she doubted that Martin believed them, either.

“That’s good, Jane. I’m glad to hear it. We have some important projects ahead of us, you know?”

“Absolutely.” Jane forced her best boardroom smile. She was relieved to hear the accounting VP call for everyone’s attention. Her conversation with Martin would not be a long one.

She avoided Martin during the shortened lunch break and during the day’s two smaller breaks. Although she looked for Khajee, there was no sign of the Thai woman. 

Then, as everyone was filing out of the auditorium at 5:00 p.m., Jane finally caught sight of Khajee and Ram. They were leaving by the exit on the opposite side of the auditorium. There was no way Jane could thread her way through the crowd in time to reach them. They were almost certainly headed for their rental car. 

Jane could theoretically have waited until the second day of the annual business meeting. That was not an acceptable option. If she missed Khajee during tomorrow’s gathering, she would elude her indefinitely, perhaps. Khajee and Ram were probably scheduled on an evening flight to Bangkok tomorrow.

Jane therefore returned to her departmental office. Leslie, the group’s administrative assistant, was preparing to leave for the day. Leslie was a divorced mother in her thirties. She struggled with childcare issues. She left work in a hurry each day, to pick up her children from daycare, from their babysitter, or some combination thereof.

“Leslie!” Jane hailed. 

“Oh, hi.” Leslie was pretending that she was glad to see Jane. Leslie was clearly no more glad to see Jane right now than Jane had been happy to see Martin in the seat behind her in the auditorium. 

Leslie thought she had escaped for the day. Well, Jane would not detain her for very long.

"Leslie, I needed to talk to one of the foreign subsidiary reps, but I missed her at the meeting. I was wondering if you would be able to tell me which hotel she's staying at."

Leslie, Jane knew, would have access to this information. Each department at the headquarters customarily made hotel arrangements for the global subsidiary representatives who fell under its purview. As the administrative assistant for the Asian Supply Chain Team, Leslie would have made hotel arrangements for Ram and Khajee.

"You don't have her cell number?" Leslie asked. Leslie said this without sarcasm. It was a legitimate question.

Jane came back with a nimble response. “No, I don't have a cell number for her. I always call her at her desk."

"Oh," Leslie said. "Let me check the hotel information, then.” Leslie consulted a notepad on her desk blotter. "Everyone from the Asian group is staying at the Marriott in Novi. I think you know where that is."

"Yes, of course. Thank you, Leslie."

Jane had Lawan in her car, stowed securely in the trunk this time. It was a short drive to the Marriott in Novi; and then Jane would be completely free of that doll, for once and for all. 

Chapter 18 coming soon. Check back often!

Monday, June 20, 2016

'Luk Thep: an online novel,' Chapter 16

Previous: Chapter 15


Jane had been incredibly brave for a brief while. This was what she told herself. She had faced the impossibly returned doll head-on. She had made the decision to take it home with her once again, lest it do more damage. 

She had even confronted it in her car, taunting it to do to her as it had done to David. 

Once she was home in her condo, though, her courage began to falter. She opened the front closet at the edge of the foyer. She pushed aside her spare coats and empty luggage, then tossed Lawan in the back of the enclosure, as she had contemplated when she had first brought the doll home.

I can't have it looking at me now, she thought. Not after it returned to me…or at least that's what I think.

Despite the pills skewing her memories, despite what Martin had said about seeing the doll in her office for some time now, Jane believed that her assessment of events, her worst-case scenario, had to be correct.

That night she slept fitfully, despite taking another zolpidem. She imagined David in bed beside her, arguing with her about the doll once again.

But now his line of argument had changed. "Why did you put poor little Lawan in the closet?" he asked, his question a harsh rebuke. "She's our only child, after all. The only one we're ever going to have."

She awoke abruptly from that dream, panting, gasping for air. 

As she awakened, she became aware of sounds: There was a minor clamor in the front of the condo unit. One internal voice told her that she really should get up to investigate; but another told her that she could just as well remain in bed and let the matter go. Lightning only struck so many times in the same person's lifetime, within the same proximity of time and space. She had endured so much of late: David's death, most of all, and evidence that her worst fears about Khajee's evil gift might be true. It did not figure that amid all of that, she would be the victim of a burglary, too.

In the morning Jane was not sure how much she had actually slept, or if she had taken another sleeping pill during the night. She could count them and find out, she supposed. 

Then she forgot about the pills when she saw Lawan on her sofa, seated on the middle cushion. The front closet door was open. Several coats and a piece of luggage were strewn on the floor. 

Jane recalled the noises she had heard last night.

"Come at me!" she shouted. Jane stood before the doll, trembling with fear and rage. She had to be brave, to honor David's memory. She owed him that much.

"Why is it that you never do anything when I can see you?" she shouted in challenge. "Are you afraid of me?"

The irony of that question struck her, and she heard herself emit a dry little laugh. She stood there, facing down Lawan, waiting for the doll to move or speak, or for the ghost of the once-human Lawan to appear.

But none of that happened. Finally she turned away, and walked back into her bedroom, to ready herself for the workday. 

*    *   *