Weekly Roundup: The Vaccine They Don’t Want You To Get Edition

Good news: There’s a COVID-19 vaccine out there that:

  • Is more than 90% effective in clinical trials at actually preventing infection of all variants, rather than being merely palliative for Delta et al
  • Operates in almost identical fashion to a conventional vaccine, rather than using the mRNA pathway or other methods that reprogram living human cells
  • Doesn’t need to be cold stored
  • Results in fewer, and mild, side effects
  • Was lauded by The Atlantic four months ago as “The Best Vaccine”
  • Has not been linked to heart disorders or anaphylaxis
  • Costs less to produce than any other “vaccine” for COVID-19
  • Was developed in the United States by an American company

Sound good to you? Are you interested in this? Great! You can get it today… in Indonesia, and India. But not here. In fact, there’s no plan to make it available to American citizens — unless those citizens have already had two shots from Pfizer or Moderna.

Surely I’m making this up, right?

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(Double) Weekly Roundup: Dune For Dummies Edition

Long-time readers of this site know that the mythology and cultural detritus of the Dune novels have littered my writing for the best part of two decades now. Unfortunately some of my favorite Dune-related content had to be deleted from Riverside Green during the Time Of The Great Whining To My Employer About Mean Website Articles last year. That’s okay because you can find much of it told somewhat more coherently on Scott Locklin’s site.

There is something about Dune and its sequels that has proven magnetic to the disaffected-individualist-intellectual typa dude again and again since 1965. We called President Trump the “God Emperor” in ironic homage to Leto II, the tragic hero of the fourth book in the series. (In hindsight, we can see that Trump was more like Paul Atreides, who unleashed a jihad then ran into the desert rather than live with the consequences of his actions, but no matter.) During my two decades in tech contracting, I often referred to some enthusiastic but misguided colleague as having “put himself in the way of the Harkonnen fist” and this phrasing never failed to elicit a knowing smile in the nerds around me.

Recently I compelled my twelve-year-old son to put his metaphorical hand in the metaphorical gom-jabbar painbox by making the completion of Dune a condition for the arrival of a new airsoft gun. He’s cheating my directive a bit by listening to the audiobook more than reading the actual pages, but it’s still been tough going for him. So I took him to the theater to see the new Dune movie, figuring it would whet his appetite to pick up the book and see how it all ends. In this attempt, I was successful, much like Miles Teg negotiating the Bene Gesserit forces out of yet another deadly confrontation, or perhaps the Grand Honored Matre forcing a Futar to do her bidding. (You haven’t read Chapterhouse:DUNE? Shame on you!)

My hopes were fairly low, as Dune is one of those books that seems designed to elude a competent film adaptation. This 2021 release, which covers the first half of the first book, is the third complete attempt to tell at least some of Frank Herbert’s story, following the infamous 1984 David Lynch film and the Sci-Fi mini-series. (A moment of silence for Alejandro Jodorowsky and his attempt to make a 14-hour Dune movie.) It’s received generally positive reviews, but that means very little in a world where most film critics are motivated almost entirely by considerations of culture and politics. What follows is a brief review from the perspective of a lifelong Dune fan and compulsive re-reader of the series.

Obviously, there are spoilers ahead, for a 1965 book and its kinda-sorta-faithful adaptation.

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This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1976 Jaguar XJ6C

1970s Jaguars are pretty cars but fraught with period Blighty quality and reliability issues. But they sure look good. And the other day this one popped up on Finding Future Classic Cars. Would I own it? Nah. But I can still appreciate these cars, especially in pillarless coupe form. The white paint, black top and red leather interior is particularly striking. Continue Reading →

1998 Chevrolet Lumina LS: The Invisible Car

My friend in Texas, Mike Massey, recently listed this Lumina. Remember those? The 1990-94s were pretty nice cars, with the Euro high-trim versions, the 3.4 coupes and the ultra-modern looking APV ‘Dustbuster’ minivans. The 1995 restyle made it a sedan only body style, as the coupe was renamed Monte Carlo-though the minivan continued through ’96 before being replaced by the utterly conventional Venture. Those ’95-’00 Lumina sedans were pretty plain to me, with the exception of the seldom-seen LTZ versions with their leather seats and alloys. Sure, the brochures frequently showed them with the LS alloy wheels and such, but most of the Luminas I remember seeing were like this one. You’d expect Mulder and Scully to get out of one. Subdued colors, with the base silver plastic wheel covers. But after Mike posted the ad, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen one in quite a while.
One of the last family vacations my parents took us kids on was to South Padre Island for Christmas 1999. We flew into the Brownsville airport and were supposed to get a Chrysler minivan. None were available, and they actually tried to pawn a pickup on us. Dad flatly refused, and they managed to find a new Lumina LS for us, in burgundy with that then-ubiquitous dark gray interior. I drove it once or twice and it was roomy and comfortable, but a bit plain.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Naked Hellscape Of Net Zero Edition

It sure is hard out here for a hillbilly conspiracy theorist nowadays, ain’t it? No matter how bat-you-know-what crazy your completely nutcase theory might be — there’s a pedophile island visited by Presidents! The United States directly supported gain-of-function coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute! The Chamber Of Commerce organized a secret coalition to subvert the 2020 election! — it almost immediately turns out to be true, either in whole or in part. Heck, even the oft-ridiculed trope about “the chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay!” turns out to have some serious research behind it.

If you clicked the last link, you’ll see that Atrazine doesn’t turn male frogs gay, in the commonly understood sense of the word. Rather, it emasculates most of them and turns a percentage of the rest into female frogs. This rather nice distinction would be enough to earn the Gay Frogs Claim a “False!” from the plagiarists at Snopes or a “Pants On Fire!” from Politifact. Much of the “fact-checking” you see done in today’s media is reliant on such fine-grained examination; see this note on HR 1 as an example.

I mention all of this because you’re about to see a rather disturbing document that purports to show how the British Government will manipulate public opinion to accept everything from eating bugs to staying in their homes while the elite continue to travel at will. The fact-checkers are already hard at work trying to separate the authors of this document from the Government — but in this case, they are likely to fail.

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This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1976 Lincoln Continental Town Car

Another Lincoln? You bet! I spied this ’70s executive yacht last week on FB. As you know I’m interested in everything Brougham, so had to save the pictures. This particular ’76 looks especially nice in triple blue. And the interior has more square footage than some ‘efficiency’ apartments in the bigger cities… Continue Reading →

1973 Buick Electra 225 Coupe: Brougham Whisperer Buick

Note: Today’s Guest Post is by Jason Bagge, AKA The Brougham Whisperer, who most of you may recall from the many ’70s land yachts of his I’ve featured here at RG the past few years. -TK

Well-the ’74 New Yorker sold. Going to a collector in Florida who restores these back to original. Same guy who bought Chris’ 1976 Cadillac Calais in Idaho. So with that-here comes the ’73 455 2 door Buick Deuce and a quarter.

The car, upon arrival.

I’m going to change out the wheels and tires. Back to new whitewalls and hubcaps. I’m going to store the rallyes away with the original tires on them. Planning on going cruising with my Dad next weekend. The whole car is pretty gangster. It just has that vibe. Continue Reading →

Weekly Roundup: Floating Like A Lilo Edition

Arrogant and unpleasant disclaimer: sit this one out, or skip to the end, unless you’re at least 1 SD+. I don’t feel like reading comments from people who will be moving their lips to read the next 2300 words. Sorry about that.

Of all the expensive delicacies out there, from white pearl albino caviar to the “Stingray Burger” at the National Corvette Museum, surely the most indulgent would be the intellectual notion that there is a universal human experience, capable of being accessed by any sufficiently broad-minded person. Our distant ancestors would have scoffed at the notion; virtually all ancient languages make no distinction between “people” and “our people”, the implication being that others are inherently different and probably worse besides. The Romans did not seek to understand the Vandals. Even among the Greek city-states there was always this simmering notion of cultural incompatibility, accompanied by the baggage of equal parts disdain and fear.

Not until the Enlightenment did the intellectual class start to get the notion Amberthat the similarities across races and cultures were greater than the differences. By the middle of the Twentieth Century this had morphed into a sort of outsider worship; I’m thinking in particular of the Western fascination with Indian and Chinese thought and dogma as exemplified by the “guru” fetish and a blossoming interest in Zen. (The late Jeff Cooper, in one of his Commentaries, despaired that young men in the Seventies and Eighties had utterly abandoned the study of Roman and Greek culture in favor of Eastern mysticism and obscurity, thus becoming incompetent at understanding two cultures instead of at least being masters in their own.)

From that outsider worship fifty years ago, we have now degraded to a sort of infantile volunteer tribalism, a perverse figure-ground approach in which power, relevance, and even safety are derived by calculating one’s distance from the untouchable (in the Dalit sense, not the exalted one) state of white Christian American “cis-straight” male. Everything in our society, from hiring decisions to quality of medical care, is now determined via this calculus. The comedian Dave Chappelle just released a comedy special in which he discusses a confrontation he had with a white man at a nightclub. The white man threatened to call the police on Chappelle; the implication here, to anyone sufficiently versed in the identity catechism, is that such a call would be tantamount to attempted murder, since police are killing unarmed Black men at the feverish, breakneck rate of one in 1.3 million annually. This makes the white man a clear villain, and absolutely deserving of some mob justice, real or virtual — until Chappelle notes that the white man was gay. At that point, every person who does any business in modern society finds themselves doing back-of-the-envelope perceived-privilege calculations. Who’s more oppressed here?

In this way, we have leached all meaning from action, which can then only be truly understood in the context of the societal value accorded to each different type of person. If I call the police on you, is that bad? Fifty years ago, we would say “It depends on what you’ve done.” Now, we say that it depends on what you are. Sometimes it is good to burn a Federal building. Sometimes it is treason to walk past one. It all depends on who you are.

This new morality would confuse the living hell out of Pascal or Sartre, but it would have sat perfectly well with any illiterate cave-dweller of prehistoric times. So in a sense it is more authentic, truer, than any outdated notions regarding a “brotherhood of Man” or any of the goofy stuff in our country’s thoroughly irrelevant founding documents. You ignore it at your peril.

All of this is a long-winded way for me to say: I’m not sure I’m allowed to listen to, comment or, or apply critical thinking to the topic at hand, namely: two of the greatest pop records to be released in years, maybe decades. Why? Simple: they are the product of a relationship between two young British lesbians.

Let’s go.

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1974 AMC Matador Oleg Cassini Edition: Klassy Kenoshan

American Motors Corporation, like Studebaker, like Packard, like so many other long-gone automobile companies, breaks your heart. Sometimes I drive myself crazy with what-ifs: What if Roy Abernethy never became president of AMC? What if Packard never got tangled up with Studebaker? What if Studebaker hadn’t rolled over for the union and stockholders EVERY SINGLE TIME? But for this, but for that, could any of these marques have survived? By the same token, if different decisions had been made, would they have disappeared even earlier? If AMC hadn’t purchased Kaiser Jeep in 1970, would they have gone out of business in 1971-72? If Studebaker hadn’t suckered Packard into bailing them out and hidden their book cooking, would they have been toast by 1955? Who knows? But one thing is clear in AMC history: The 1974 Matador coupe was a costly mistake.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Screenless In DC Edition

I got an email last night, more than two days after the fact, from the nice people (by which I mean overseas-sourced Mechanical Turks) at SPIN scooters, telling me something along the lines of Parking Photo Not Approved. As many of you no doubt know, SPIN is one of the half-dozen providers of urban rental scooters, following in the footsteps of BIRD. What makes SPIN different: they have some sort of backing from Ford, and the scooters are slightly but usably faster than the competition from Lime and elsewhere. (As I noted while leaving a Lime in the dust along the reflecting pool near the Washington Monument: “Lime? More like lame, am I right?”) Beyond that, you are also required to take a photo of your scooter when you park it, so they know you didn’t vandalize the scooter or park it on top of a homeless person.

Which I had done, Saturday at 1:07PM. Now, late in Monday’s evening, SPIN was indicating their dissatisfaction. What was I supposed to do? Find the same scooter, two-plus days after the fact, and photograph it again? Why wait this long to tell me the photo wasn’t good enough? I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s famous letter to Lord Chesterfield, who had declined to be a patron to Johnson’s Dictionary until Johnson had effectively finished the work: “The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind: but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary and cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want it.”

What didn’t SPIN like about the photo? Hard to tell. I thought it was pretty well done, particularly since at the time of photography my Samsung S21 Ultra looked as it does in the image opening this column. Yup, that’s what you call “a thoroughly destroyed $1,799 phone” — and on just the fifth day of ownership? Sucks to be me. But that’s not all.

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