On Hitler’s Mountain

Since 1999 I’ve developed very close ties to German filk fandom and lost count of the number of times I’ve visited the country. It’s been hard for me to reconcile what I’ve seen with its Nazi past; few Germans give the impression of the kind of people who’d support a brutal dictatorship. This weekend I’ve read Irmgard A. Hunt’s On Hitler’s Mountain, an account of the author’s growing up under the Third Reich, and it provides a number of clues.
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An unexpected honor

Today I got a letter from Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, inviting me to the FEE Faculty Network. I checked the web page and found it puts me in some very good company, including Doug Bandow, Marsha Enright, Robert Higgs, Israel Kirzner, and Ilya Somin.

Just to be clear, that and a dollar will get me a cup of coffee, and I don’t even drink coffee. But as the letter pointed out, it’s something to put on my bio and may help me to get noticed when I submit articles for publication. Besides, just getting an honor like that helps to validate the effort I’ve put into my writing.

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The illusion of regress

An article in USA Today, which seems reasonably objective, says that while the lead levels in Flint, Michigan are bad and reflect serious indifference and ineptitude, they would have been normal not long ago. This isn’t the only case where reports of disaster hide long-term trends of improvement. Crime rates have gone down over the years, though people think they’re getting worse. The number of people living in poverty has gone down as the world population has gone up.
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First Amendment suspended in Lowell

The Lowell, Massachusetts police did a very Trumpist thing when Donald Trump came to speak: They set up a “free speech zone,” implying freedom of speech wasn’t permitted elsewhere. I haven’t seen any reports that people were arrested for speaking without permission, but the most visible protesters were apparently intimidated by the massive police presence and stayed in the speech-permitted area.
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The careless use of “triggering”

It’s become an obligation in some circles to to give “trigger warnings” when writing about anything vaguely unpleasant. Let’s think about what sort of view of the audience this presents and whether it’s really appropriate in so many situations.

Triggering implies the setting off of some kind of serious reaction, which might be anything from a panic attack to road rage. Traditionally it implies the triggering of a PTSD response. It suggests that some members of the audience are incapable of dealing with the topic. In severe cases, such as portrayals of graphic violence, this can be appropriate. With audiences that are particularly sensitive, such as a mailing list for abuse survivors, it’s reasonable to be generous with warnings. But it’s often overdone, and an overdose of warnings can be insulting to the people they’re supposed to protect.
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“Birth of a Nation” on MLK Day

I’m a silent movie fan, and I often attend Jeff Rapsis’s presentations of them with live keyboard accompaniment. He’ll be accompanying a silent movie on Friday evening at Arisia, and I recommend going to see it, even though I won’t be there myself.

On Thursday the 14th, he’ll be presenting a more controversial choice in Plymouth, NH: D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. It presents a story of the Civil War and its aftermath and actually makes the Ku Klux Klan the heroes. The intertitles include quotations from Woodrow Wilson praising the Klan. Jeff chose this movie specifically for Martin Luther King’s birthday and explains his reasoning in his blog:
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Fear and stress in New Hampshire

It’s getting far too stressful here. A collection of raving lunatics are running around the state, all trying to obtain the most powerful office in the country. Trump doesn’t even seem like the worst any more. Cruz has declared: “We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” If that’s not a declaration of intent to use nuclear weapons, I don’t know what he means by “glow in the dark,” and my web searches don’t show that he’s ever clarified it. Rubio also supports carpet bombing and doesn’t think Cruz is pro-war enough. We can recover from registering Muslims; can we recover from a nuclear war?

On the Democratic side, every time Sanders opens his mouth he shows his utter ignorance of economics while declaring his intention to command the economy in unprecedented detail. Clinton has declared that citizenship is not a right and has declared that she’ll only appoint Supreme Court judges who’ll promise to overturn a case in which she tried to censor a documentary critical of her and lost.

This goes beyond whom to vote for. It’s gut-level fear that such people run around making such pronouncements and draw cheering crowds when they ought to be greeted with revulsion. What does it say about the people around me?

February 9 will be over in a month. It’s going to be a very hard month.

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Tomorrow’s Songs Today on eBay

Cover for Tomorrow's Songs Today

The cover by Matt Leger for Tomorrow’s Songs Today

I’ve put a signed and numbered copy of Tomorrow’s Songs Today up on Ebay. My supply of the first run is getting low, so this may be the last copy of the original run that I sell, since I want to keep a couple of copies for myself.

The book is available for free in ebook form, and the book’s website has updates, but if you want to help support the book, or if you just like having a paper copy, this is your chance.

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Naxos Music Library revisited

My love-hate relationship with Naxos Music Library continues. It has an ever-growing collection of on-demand streaming music. I love being able to listen to unfamiliar composers without any cash outlay beyond the monthly subscription fee.
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