Graduation

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader notes that it is college graduation season. He attended one today. His nephew was graduated today from the University of Mary Washington. (NB: Which he still thinks of as Mary Washington College. Because that is what it was for ever and ever. Just like his own alma mater, which went from Longwood College to Longwood University.) This graduation will be the first of a number of them over the next few years. Villainette #1 will be graduating from university next year. Then another nephew from high school the year after that. Then Villainette #2 from university in 2021. Then the Wee Villain and a niece from high school in 2022. Over the next few years your Maximum Leader is going to be compelled to sit through overly long ceremonies in questionable weather listening to people say doubtful things.

All in all, today’s graduation at UMW was very good. We had excellent, and shaded, seats. The ceremony was relatively quick (in that no one spoke for very long - the featured speaker was allowed 10 minutes). Your Maximum Leader was informed that due to a new staff member reading the graduates names in a more crisp and speedy fashion a full 40 minutes was trimmed off last year’s graduation. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap to him. (He did do a fantastic job.)

Your Maximum Leader isn’t as sure that he’ll be as lucky with Villainette #1’s graduation next year. She is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU is the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginny. She will have two ceremonies. The main one with the main speaker and all the graduates. Then a “smaller” one (of about 4000) for just her college within the university. It will be the same when Villainette #2 graduates from Virginia Tech. That is a lot of sitting and listening for your Maximum Leader in the month of May to come. He probably ought to buy a nice cushion to bring with him…

Carry on.

Stir Fry

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as some of you may know, is of British extraction. His ancestry is mostly Scottish and English. There is a smattering of Welsh, Irish, Norse, and German (Bavarian, he’s told) thrown in to complete his Northern European genetics. And like any good person with both British ancestry and a love of British history, he is all up for some cultural appropriation. In this case, culinary appropriation in the form of stir fry.

Your Maximum Leader loves to stir fry. This is not to say that he is authentic in any way whatsoever. In fact, your Maximum Leader would dare to say that no self-respecting Asian person would recognise or condone some of the things that are prepared in your Maximum Leader’s wok. Speaking of the wok, that piece of cookware is likely the best $35.00 he ever spent. In 1991, your Maximum Leader bought a Wally Nash endorsed “Great Wok of China” from a department store in Richmond, VA. (NB: It might have been Miller and Rhodes, but he can’t recall.) He still uses this wok to this day. (He still has the spatula, ladle, and wire strainer that came with the set - though he had to buy new bamboo steaming baskets.) He has affectionately called this the Wally Wok ever since…

So, your Maximum Leader loves his wok and he loves stir frying in it. There is something that appeals to him about the style of cooking. Get all your ingredients together. Do all your prep work. Then the cooking is actually rather quick and you can get down to eating. Additionally, if you prep right, there isn’t a hell of a lot of clean up. Then there is the eating. The food can be eaten in one dish - again, keeping clean up to a minimum.

As your Maximum Leader said, he loves to stir fry though he freely admits that he rarely makes anything that an Asian person might recognise as a traditional dish. Your Maximum Leader’s approach to his style of appropriate stir frying goes something like what happened tonight. Allow him to weave the story now for you…

So, it has been rather busy in the ole Villainschloss over the past few days. This morning Mrs. Villain left early, and your Maximum Leader (and the Wee Villain - who is not so wee any more as he is 6 feet tall at 14 years old) was running late. The hounds haven’t been feeling well either (one of them has been vomiting - though not near meals which is confusing). Needless to say, this morning was a rush and nothing was taken out of the freezer to serve as a major protein for dinner this evening. So, upon arriving home tonight your Maximum Leader had to improvise. Tonight, he knew, was going to be a stir fry night because your Maximum Leader was cooking only for himself and the Wee Villain. Both of whom are fond of stir fry.

Recognising that it was going to be a stir fry night, your Maximum Leader started to think about what he was going to cook. He needed a protein from the freezer that could be mostly thawed quickly in a microwave without destroying the flavour or integrity of the protein by microwaving. He recalled that he had a pound of pork belly in the freezer that was cut into a nice slab that would get mostly thawed, but not cooked, in a few minutes. Your Maximum Leader retrieved the pork belly from the freezer, put it in the microwave, and started the defrost process.

While the pork was thawing, he had started the rice cooker and went to the fridge to get some veggies to add to the mix. He got himself a medium sized onion, 3 stalks of celery, a few green onions (these because they were looking sort of wan and he figured they needed to be eaten quickly), and a nice sized carrot. He also pulled a bag of frozen broccoli out of the freezer. He poured out a nice sized bowl full of broccoli and set about cutting up the fresh veggies. He rough cut the onion. The pieces were small enough so that they would cook quickly, but large enough to be easy to grasp with chop sticks. He did the same with the celery and green onions. He ran the carrot through a mandoline.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader has a cheap and sucky mandoline right now. It is similar to this one. In fact, your Maximum Leader’s isn’t as nice as the one pictured in the link. It is awful. Food gets jammed up in it. The grip piece slips too often. It is a mess. He would prefer a nicer one. Something like this one. Mrs. Villain does not endorse the idea of another mandoline for the simple reason that your Maximum Leader doesn’t use the one he has very often. And even though he explains that he would use one more if he had one that didn’t suck, that argument doesn’t seem to hold water.)

So now your Maximum Leader has veggies prepped and his rice going in the cooker. He took the pork belly out of the microwave and could tell that he had timed it right. The belly was still slightly hard through the middle and the ends had not turned colour (from cooking) yet. So he diced up the pork belly. With all of his mise en place complete he set about getting his spices out.

Your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain tend to like stir fry with a little heat. When cooking for the whole family the spicy heat has to be kept to an absolute minimum as Mrs. Villain doesn’t care for anything spicy. So, with this in mind, your Maximum Leader retrieved from various places around the kitchen the following: peanut oil, soy sauce, cayenne pepper flakes, garlic/chili sauce (made by the same company that makes Sriracha), hoisin sauce, garlic powder (as he has no fresh garlic), salt, pepper, and some peanuts.

The actual cooking of the dish went thusly… The wok was heated up with some oil in it. Then your Maximum Leader added the cubed pork belly in small batches so that it would brown and crisp up a little. He liberally salted and peppered the meat as he cooked it. When all of the pork was in and had been browned (but not fully cooked) he added the onion, celery, and carrot. He added a little more oil and cooked these veggies until the onions started to become translucent. At this stage he added a few tablespoons of soy sauce to the bottom of the wok and threw in the still mostly frozen broccoli. Now your Maximum Leader knows that this introduction of cold veggies reduces the cooking temperature of the wok and somewhat defeats the purpose of using a wok. But, as your Maximum Leader was a little lazy it worked out okay. The combination of thawing broccoli, with soy, and the oil and juices from the meat allowed for a bit of steaming to take place. Your Maximum Leader let the lid sit on the wok while the temperature rose. As this was happening, he used his time to do a few dishes. When the steam started to escape the wok, he went back to stir fry. Removing the lid and letting the steam escape was the starting point to cooking down and thickening up the sauce in the wok. He mixed everything together and also added garlic powder and red pepper flakes very generously. When most of the liquid had cooked down, your Maximum Leader threw in the hoisin sauce and stirred it around. Then he generously threw in the garlic/chili sauce. He mixed this around and then reduced the heat and added in his peanuts. By this time the rice was done as was the rest of dinner.

All in all dinner was tasty. The meat was good (but it is hard to mess up pork belly - which is awesome in general). The veggies were crisp and colourful. The sauce binding everything together had a touch of sweetness (from the hoisin) at the beginning but ended with significant heat at the end. Your Maximum Leader doubts that any aspect of this stir fry melange was “authentic” in any Asian cuisine. But being the appropriator that he is, it used methods and spices and created something that worked.

Your Maximum Leader would, if left to his devices, probably eat stir fry (of one sort of another) 3 times a week. Indeed, when he was single (something that hasn’t been true for over 23 years now) he did eat stir fry 3 nights a week. Mrs. Villain demands more variety so there isn’t as much stir frying as your Maximum Leader would like.

Anyhoo… Stir Fry for dinner is pretty good…

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter! @maximumleader)

Non-spoilery Game of Thrones Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Game of Thrones (and the Song of Ice and Fire novels). He’s made to secret to anyone who wants to listen that his favourite character is Daenerys Targaryen. She has had, in the books, a fascinating character arc. Her arc in the television show has not been quite as in depth, but then again, it is television. (NB: the most interesting character arc in the whole story - books or TV - is Jaime Lannister. But that is a tale for another time.) In addition to her character development, there is the obvious attraction. Your Maximum Leader, as a somewhat nerdy guy, is really turned on by hot women with dragons. Yes, that allure could prove self-destructive, but it is an allure nonetheless.

Until this week’s episode, (Season 8, Ep 4 - The Last of the Starks), your Maximum Leader would have given Daenerys about a 60% chance of “winning” the Game of Throne and sitting on the Iron Throne as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms… Sadly, he is lowering that chance down to 20%. Some of the things said and done in the episode and making your Maximum Leader fear for the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc., etc..

Out of fear that Kevin will read this, that is all your Maximum Leader will say right now. But if it turns out that Dany doesn’t make it to the end of the show, your Maximum Leader is going to be very sad, upset, and destructive. He might even scream “dracarys” and burn his Daenerys Targaryen Funko toy.

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter! @maximumleader)

More Game of Thrones

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader figures that he is going to share some observations about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. This is the episode is entitled “The Long Night” and features the “Battle of Winterfell.” The whole 82 minute episode consists of the final battle between the Night King and the arrayed forces of the North.

Your Maximum Leader will give away some spoilers in his writing. So be advised…

The first observations are technical. Much hay was made about the episode being “feature length.” This is a fancy way of saying it was longer than most. Your Maximum Leader believes that the episode could have benefited from a some editing. It didn’t need to be an hour and a half (roughly). It probably could have been about 15 minutes shorter and been a little tighter and had a nicer flow. So there is that. Others have said that the lighting seemed dark and things were hard to make out. Your Maximum Leader somewhat agrees with this assessment. He would have preferred more light and definition to what he was watching, but he figured this critique is born of two things. The first would be to simulate that all the action is happening during the darkness of the winter made more insidious by the Night King. The second factor was budgetary. Dark and obscured likely costs less to make. And HBO has to squeeze the cash out of this cash cow which has only thee more episodes. Your Maximum Leader also admits that he has grown tired with all the “confusion of battle” that seems to be much of the rage now when choreographing fights. There is a lot of chaos and rapid cutting. The episode wasn’t as bad as many, but the confusion of the battlefield doesn’t have to be honestly depicted on screen. Your Maximum Leader’s biggest item, from a technical point, is that this episode really could have used some editing…

Your Maximum Leader will broadly agree with many items that you’ve likely already read about on the interwebs or spoken about with friends. They are (in no particular order): Don’t seek shelter in a crypt when your enemy reanimates the dead; the whole “use Bran to lure the Night King to you” plan seems irrelevant (couldn’t the Night King have just flown in on his zombie dragon and blasted them from the air?); Arya had a great night (she sleeps with Gentry AND kills the Night King in 24 hours); and plenty of significant characters died (but not as many as one would have expected to die).

So here are some more thoughts in short paragraph form.

Some people seem to want to know why the Night King didn’t turn Arya into a wight the moment he grabbed her by the neck. Your Maximum Leader thinks that the whole “change into a wight” power is one that the Night King has to actively choose to “activate” (for lack of a better term). One can’t imagine that everything he touches just gets reanimated from the dead? He isn’t a zombie creating version of King Midas after all. Every time he raises his arms up from his sides to put on his tunic and armor he doesn’t automatically reanimate anything dead within a mile of where he’s standing. This point bothers some, but doesn’t bother your Maximum Leader.

The aerial dragon combat could have benefited from a technical adviser. Apparently Dany and Jon never spoke strategery when it came to fighting the Night King on his dragon. They should have had been operating in tandem, but with a fair distance between them, at a high altitude to get a better angle of attack on the Night King. Actually, the dragon fighting was your Maximum Leader’s favorite part of the episode.

The Dothraki died stupid. Every last one of them.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how Jaime Lannister survived. The one handed knight was able to fight off the myriad dead with is bad hand… Seems improbable.

Your Maximum Leader figured a few more deaths would be visited upon significant characters… That being said…

All hail Lyanna Mormont! Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island. By the Old Gods and the New, she was your Maximum Leader’s favorite minor character in the show of late. He is sorry to see her shuffle off her mortal coil. She did not die stupid. She died like a badass. Your Maximum Leader may have noticed the room in which he was watching was dusty when she died. But she died the way you would want to see her go. Fighting until the end and getting all stabby through the eye of the zombie giant. Frankly, your Maximum Leader would have like to see Lady Mormont becoming the Warden of the North in the reign of the restored Targaryens. Or getting to be Lady of Bear Island - and Lady of the Twins (since House Frey seems to be gone). Your Maximum Leader is so much more fond of the Lyanna Mormont of the TV show than the quiet, sad, Lady Lyanna of the novels. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap in Bella Ramsey’s direction for the great job she did bringing Lyanna Mormont to life (and then death) in the show. Bravo!

Speaking of Mormonts, your Maximum Leader wasn’t as sad to see Jorah Mormont go. His jig was up. Perhaps his death will temper be a lesson to Dany as she progresses towards the Iron Throne - which your Maximum Leader hopes she will occupy soon.

One final note… Arya jumping out of no where in her attack on the Night King seemed like something out of an 80’s action flick. It just happened. There was no foreshadowing of it. No set up. It just happened. It seemed a bit lame on the one hand, but sort of cool at some other level.

There are all the disjointed thoughts for now. Perhaps your Maximum Leader will write shortly on weightier matters…

Carry on.

Game of Thrones

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has had many things to do over the past few days. He’s delayed in doing is civic duty to and paying the price of civilisation until this weekend. He figured that he’d wind up, due to tax code changes owning some money. He did in fact, but the damage wasn’t as bad as he’d imagined. So there is that.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader was a young lad when President Ronald Reagan got his historic tax cuts passed in the 1982. He was still a young man when Reagan had to increase taxes in 1986. He thought of himself as a supply-sider and tax cutter. But now he finds himself an older man and he wonders if we are not on the left side of the Laffer Curve and not on the right. He had no doubt in the 1980s that we were on the right side of the Laffer Curve and cuts would increase revenues. Of course, we never cut spending, so at some level it didn’t really matter at all what side of the Laffer Curve we found ourselves. But now, in 2019, your Maximum Leader is pretty sure that insofar as tax rates are concerned, the United States is on the wrong side of the collection curve. But, just as it was true in the 1980s, it doesn’t matter because both parties are happy to spend our nation to oblivion.)

Your Maximum Leader was able to oversee (personally) the mowing of the grass in front of the Villainschloss. This may not seem like a big thing. But the weather has been warm and rainy and the grass (see: weeds) has been growing like crazy. Your Maximum Leader spend more time than expected mowing grass. It was tall and wet. It was slow going. So that wasn’t too fun.

But the real object of the weekend will be the premier of the final season of Game of Thrones on HBO tonight. Your Maximum Leader, and millions of others, have been waiting for it. Over the years that your Maximum Leader has read the books, watched the show, and waited for more books. He is now feeling much more sanguine about the story than he was a few years ago. A few years back, he would have been upset if any character other than Danerys Targaryen ended up on the Iron Throne. But now, he is okay with any number of characters ending up on that prickly chair. He is okay with it because he’s come to the point that the story will be what it will be, and nothing he does will change that. Indeed, he is pretty sure that we will now have two different stories to talk about. There will be the story from the TV show and the book story. Your Maximum Leader thinks they will be wildly divergent now. As he understands it, the show producers and story creator (David Benhoff and D.B. Wiess on the show side and George R.R. Martin as the creator) had a big talk. Martin shared the arc of the story (and its ending) with Benhoff and Wiess so that they could do the show. Benhoff and Wiess have now done their show, soon it will be in the books and over. But, as we know, the books are still far from done. Your Maximum Leader thinks that one of the reasons for the delay is that George Martin is re-writing the crap out of the story just to be difficult. He may have had a story arc in mind when he started, and when he shared it with Benhoff and Wiess; but now he’s changing it just because he can. That leaves your Maximum Leader thinking that he is just going to live with whatever is produced in both formats and enjoy it as much as he can.

So he’s got that going for him.

Now your Maximum Leader is going to sign off and have a cocktail. It has been a long weekend.

Carry on.

Musings on Thomas Hobbes 431st Birthday.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader raised a glass of whisky this past Friday (April 5th) and toasted Thomas Hobbes. Thomas Hobbes is on a very short list of political philosophers that your Maximum Leader greatly admires. Thomas Hobbes. Michael Oakeshott. Edmund Burke. Those are the big three…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader wrote recently about how to classify Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He was using old Cold War Soviet terms for his classification. So he had the Soviet Union on his mind. Bringing the Soviet Union more to the forefront of his mind was his watching (probably for the 100th time) “The Death of Stalin.” It happened to be on cable on Friday night. He caught it about 15 minutes in…

NB: Your Maximum Leader loves (LURVES!) “The Death of Stalin.” It is funny. It is intelligent. It is so well acted and well written and well directed. He rented it to watch on a flight to California last year. He saw it and knew he had to own it. He bought it upon landing and watched it three more times that weekend. He’s watched it a bunch since. In the past five years there have been two films that your Maximum Leader has found rewatchable over and over again. They are “Stalin” and “Deadpool.”

So, moving along…

Your Maximum Leader had been thinking about nomenklatura. Then he had been watching the comic antics of the Soviet Politburo jockeying for power in 1953. Then his mind wandered in a bourbon infused fog. At that point he had something of a revelation. And Hobbes has something to do with it too…

The revelation was that many liberals of today genuinely believe that a Soviet/Socialist/Communist political system is a good thing. Now you are saying to yourself, “Self, how it is that my Maximum Leader is just realising this? Is he stupid?” Well, not exactly. You see, intellectually speaking your Maximum Leader has known that many liberals think this way. But there was something of a series of subtle connections that were made in that fog that made things clearer.

You see, your Maximum Leader, in his heart shares a belief espoused by ole Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes famously wrote that in a state of nature life was a war of all against all. His famous sound bite was that life in such a condition was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Now, Hobbes’s view of humanity is more nuanced than this. You can pick up his writings and read a few hundred pages and figure this out for yourself. But here is the rub. Ultimately Hobbes, and your Maximum Leader, believed that human nature is inherently egoistic. We want what we want. We want to do what we want to do. If we think we can get away with something to our advantage, without fear of reprisal, we will do it. To use religious terminology (because in this the religious and political are closely intertwined), man’s nature is fallen. As a being with a fallen nature, we need to be constrained. Constrained, in Hobbes’ mind, by an autocratic state. (At least this the the broad theme of Leviathan.) Please keep this in your mind…

Of course, on the other side of this equation (as it were) are those who prefer the state of nature described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Man was a perfectible, noble, creature. The nature of man was not fallen, or sinful, or bad. Mankind was corrupted by society, but society could be reformed and likewise man will be reformed as a result. Of course, your Maximum Leader is oversimplifying here, but bear with him.

So, broadly speaking, Your Maximum Leader thinks we can all agree that the best (theoretical) type of government to live under would be an autocracy ruled over by a wise, just, and benevolent autocrat. The Philosopher-King of Plato’s musings as it were. A good, wise, just, and benevolent autocrat has the power to “get things done” as well as the restraint to “keep from going too far.” Just laws, just taxes, and justice in general would flow quickly and efficiently from the Philosopher-King at the head of such a state. Things would be good…

Of course, the problem with autocracies is that you aren’t always guaranteed a good autocrat. The odds of a bad one are better than the odds of a good one. This is especially true if you believe, as your Maximum Leader and Hobbes do, in the not-so-good nature of man. But let’s say, you fall more under the Rousseauian theory of mankind. Well, even then you know that you are bound to get a bad egg from time to time. No matter how well you educate and train an autocrat, sometimes you are going to get a bad one. But if you give autocratic power to a bunch of perfectible people. People who are well-trained, well-experienced, and well-educated. Well then, that is a different story…

This is the root of the liberal’s love of technocracy. If mankind is perfectible and generally good, if you give power to right group of technocrats you will get a good outcome. If it doesn’t work out, it is because the “true formula” hasn’t really been tried. Ah… The ole “true socialism has never been tried trope!” Yes. Of course it all comes back to a fervent starting principal. If man is good it is all bound to work out! We just have had the wrong people in place…

Your Maximum Leader, in thinking all this, was musing on a column that Paul Krugman wrote some years ago (and he can’t find on the Google with ease and has given up with trying to link it) in which Krugman waxed admiration on the Chinese Communist government. In his musings, your Maximum Leader thought to himself that if you could look past the human rights abuses, the lack of personal freedoms, the rampant corruption, and the cronyism, there is a lot to like with the style of Chinese Communist rule from Deng Ziaoping through Hu Jintao. The Chinese Communist Politburo was populated by well-educated, experienced technocrats. These technocrats had well-constructed plans for moving their country ahead. They executed those plans (without any hindrance to their power). And presto-chango! China is the second greatest power in the world (and some could argue they are tied for the greatest power in the world). The Chinese Communist leaders are like half a loaf of bread in the argument about Socialism. They get so much right that they are admired, but there is that unsightly side. (All that lack of human rights, corruption, etc. etc.) It is like they are a beta version that just needs some more work.

You see, your Maximum Leader never really “saw” this aspect of how many liberals choose to look at socialism. He couldn’t get past his starting point, namely that humanity is not inherently good or truly perfectible. If you can’t get past that point, you’ll never get to where they are… Of course, your Maximum Leader likes freedom and liberty. He likes republican (truly little “r” republican) government. He likes restraint on government power. He likes it all because he doesn’t fully trust other people’s nature. We (humanity/mankind if you like) constrain our nature within society. We set up institutions and rules to constrain ourselves and others. It makes life better when we have boundaries and constrains, but also have the liberty to act as our own free-will agents.

It is possible that, at some point in the growing ever more distant past, he had this revelation before. But it seemed pretty enlightening the other night. It is possible that he’s never really tried to understand the whole “true Socialism” or “true Communism” hasn’t been tried argument. It’s never been tried, because it isn’t possible for it to be tried. If the nature of man is not predisposed towards it working, true Socialism/Communism just can’t ever work. Of course, many people don’t think as I do. So there is that.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t going to round them up and send them out for re-education or anything…

Carry on.

Twitter Musings

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader engaged in a little Twittering this weekend, to an unexpected result. You see, Democrat Presidential wanna-be Pete Buttigieg tweeted that “You don’t refer to people as animals.” This comment was in reference to our President’s old comments concerning the gang MS-13. The President called the members of the gang animals. Many on the left (or among anti-Trumpers) concurred with Buttigieg’s tweet. Frankly, your Maximum Leader agrees with the broad sentiment of his tweet. One shouldn’t call people animals. Civil discourse suffers with name-calling. It is much too common in what passes for discourse nowadays.

Then again, some people do deserve to be called animals. If anything, some people are worse than animals and have, through their own actions, forfeited the “right” to not be name-called. Some of the people that deserve to be called animals are the members of the MS-13 gang that (allegedly) perpetrated a terrible murder. A terrible murder that your Maximum Leader has the most tangential connection to - thanks to a twist of geography.

According to news reports, Jacson Chicas, was a former member of the MS-13 gang. He tried to leave the gang. Members of the gang hunted him down. Then they murdered him. They stabbed him nearly 100 times. Then they took his body from Maryland (the site of the crime) to my home county and they dumped the body along the Rappahannock River, doused it with gas and lit it aflame. Here is a short piece from NBC 4 in Washington. The body was so badly desecrated that police had to release a photo of Chicas’ arm, which had a distinctive tattoo, in order to help identify the body. (The rumor around town is that Chicas’ face was badly mutilated and couldn’t be identified. But it is, one hopes, only a rumor.)

Your Maximum Leader’s connection to this was that he had to get up early the morning that the body was discovered to run an errand. After he woke, he got a text from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department. (He is on the County text alert system. It tells him all about road closures, bad weather, school closings, police chases, water main breaks… You know, the good stuff.) The text said that River Road was closed due to a police investigation. Your Maximum Leader suspected the investigation was related to a car accident. So, rather than going down River Road, he drove along a different route. A route that put him on the other side of the Rappahannock River from the crime scene. As he drove by he saw cars from the Sheriff’s Department. A few State Trooper cruisers. He also saw what he suspects was a big crime scene investigation van. He also saw a large white sheet over what he suspected was the victim’s body.

That is it. That is the extent of his connection… Geography and a glance at a crime scene…

Anyhoo…

Back to Twitter… Someone responded to Buttigieg’s tweet by citing a news article about this MS-13 murder and said that the people who committed this crime were, indeed, animals. Your Maximum Leader responded to that by tweeting that the body was dumped near his home and that he saw the crime scene. He added that the crime was barbaric.

Well… That Tweet has been retweeted, liked, forwarded, and responded to in ways your Maximum Leader is not used to seeing. You see, he doesn’t have many followers. He isn’t really working hard to gain lots more. But that one tweet seems to have made more than 28,000 impressions. He doesn’t know how twitter calculates these things, but he is certain that this tweet gets a lot more eyeballs looking at it than most of what he tweets. It is the reactions that intrigue him. The way responses line up completely on ideological lines. Party lines really. The discussions has devolved to the absolutes. You either think people can be called animals or you don’t. There is no room for nuance. Where are the sensible people who realise that one can’t call anyone an animal, but some people certainly deserve it.

Certainly 5 people who stab a 16 year old about 100 times, then set his body aflame can be called animals? A person who disagrees with a political stance I espouse ought not to be called an animal (or a Nazi for that matter).

It seems your Maximum Leader is out of touch with the times in which he lives.

Carry on.

Classifications

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was musing the other day about Democratic Congressman and Wunderkinder Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He wasn’t just musing about her lovely complexion, ample bosom, but over-large teeth either. He was thinking about her as a political phenomena of our day. He wondered how, other than her general good looks - which don’t hurt when gaining celebrity, she became such a spokesman for the Democratic Party. Here a 29 years old woman, elected by about 100,000 voters in liberal Brooklyn, New York, seems to have become one of the standard bearers for her party. All that and she is a spokesman for what your Maximum Leader thinks of as the far left-wing element of her party.

Then he started to think back to his youth during the bad ole days of the Cold War. Then something came to him. Was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an apparatchik or a nomenklatura? He posted this, mostly rhetorical, question on the ole Tweety-box. (Your Maximum Leader’s handle by the by is @maximumleader.) One of your Maximum Leader’s tweeps (@arethusaf) suggested that she wasn’t detail oriented enough to be an apparatchik, and that she was certainly now, by virtue of her position, a nomenklatura.

NB: Any of you out there who might stumble across this post would likely know what apparatchiks and nomenklatura are. But in case you don’t here are the wiki definitions. Apparatchik. Nomenklatura. They will suit our purposes here tonight.

So back to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Apparatchik or nomenklatura. Your Maximum Leader agrees with Arethusa that by virtue of her position in Congress she is certainly a member of the Democratic nomenklatura. But she evinces, in your Maximum Leader’s eyes, many of the qualities of an apparatchik. He says this because she is a good reciter of the “party line.” She knows all the lines, everything she should say about all the hot-button issues for the Democratic constituency. You know them: the environment, health care, the environment some more, equal justice, equal pay, the environment even more, and a highly idealised and mostly imagined democratic-socialism of the Nordic type. She knows what to say on these subjects, how to say it, and more importantly how to communicate in Tweet-length soundbites.

NB: Your Maximum Leader wishes we would get legit soundbites. Remember them? People of a certain age remember lamenting the popularisation of the soundbite. Oh how, as a younger man, your Maximum Leader mused “What happened to the American attention span? When did we stop being able to listen to a person for more than 3 minutes? When did we lose the ability to concentrate for over 15 minutes at a time? Why must we be subjected to a 2-3 minute soundbite that doesn’t really give us any information or nuance?” The soundbite was the king of newsworthy statements in the late 80’s and 90’s. Now we don’t even get the soundbite. It is all tweet-length nowadays. If you are lucky you get the Twitter version of the soundbite - the thread… Pretty soon we’ll only understand emojis.

Actually, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ability to tweet is likely as responsible for her meteoric rise in her party as much as her beating Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary in her district (NY - 14). She is a mirror image of our President when it comes to tweeting. To make an old Dungeons & Dragons analogy, Ocasio-Cortez is a Paladin on the Twitter and Donald Trump is the Anti-Paladin on the Twitter. She is on-point and always saying exactly what you think she will (if you are into predicting these things). He is wild and untamed and all over the place. They both are happy to bend the truth while tweeting, but Ocasio-Cortez’s “facts” are generally more popular than Trumps and she is largely immune (in the mainstream) from actual fact-checking. Unlike the President who is oft (and rightfully) fact-checked and exposed as a liar (which he is).

Anyhooo… Back to the classification…

Your Maximum Leader thinks that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a failed apparatchik that has stumbled into the nomenklatura by a happy confluence of events (not the least of which was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States).

NB: Your Maximum Leader can’t imagine that he’s going to have to spend the rest of his life looking at Trump’s ugly mug on a placemat depicting all the Presidents of the United States. Your Maximum Leader might have to swear off Presidential placemats in favor of Civil War generals, the States, or world flags placemats.

Ocasio-Cortez isn’t a bureaucratic functionary. She doesn’t have the talent for details (at least not that your Maximum Leader can observe). But she knows the party line, and that will get her far. It already has gotten her far. Your Maximum Leader wagers that she will serve in Congress long enough to receive a full pension. Ocasio-Cortez will likely be with us (at least those of us who follow politics to some degree) for some time. Your Maximum Leader hopes she’ll at least be entertaining for some of that time. He does not wish, however, that she will be particularly successful and implementing that which she so easily professes on the Twitter.

Carry on.

Aaaaand We’re Back

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader seems to be back up and working. The water damage in the Villainschloss seems to have been stopped and somewhat remediated. (He has some drywall patches yet to do.) His computer seems to be safe and functional. He was worried that the keyboard, which was quite soaked with water, wasn’t going to function. It seems to be fine as he is typing now.

He has some thoughts he might write about in more detail tomorrow. Right now he has a little more clean up to accomplish and then a wedding to go to.

Carry on.

Disaster

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sat down to blog the other night. While he was sitting at his computer, he thought he heard a dripping noise. He couldn’t place where it was, but it seemed irregular and faint. He asked his son to listen for it, but he couldn’t hear it. So you Maximum Leader chalked it up to getting old and hearing things.

Bad move.

The next day, Villainette #2 (home for Spring Break from VA Tech), called around lunch time to announce that your Maximum Leader’s office was soaked. The carpet was soaked. His desk was soaked. And there was water dripping from a light fixture and a vent.

Well, the long and short of this is that there is apparently a leak in the shower above your Maximum Leader’s office. There are holes in the ceiling to inspect to find from whence the water is coming. So far no luck. But the plumbers will be there in a little while. It is looking expensive.

The downside is that your Maximum Leader’s attempt to revive this blog and write is not working out too much. His computer was not damaged, but he may need a new keyboard…

Ugh.

Carry on.

Egg Rolls

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was quite hungry when he came home tonight. His appetite was enhanced as soon as he entered the Villainschloss. Mrs. Villain was cooking chicken on the range-top in an iron skillet. In a large non-stick skillet, she was sauteing some veggies. Into the veggie mixture went some white vino, and some creme of chicken soup, and a touch of sour cream. Eventually the chicken was plated, drenched in sauce, and served with a side of tater tots and green beans.

(NB: Someone remind their Maximum Leader to write about tater tots.)

All in all, dinner was lovely. Quite tasty and filling.

But throughout it all, all your Maximum Leader wanted was egg rolls. Shrimp egg rolls. He wanted them so badly he contemplated calling the local take-away place and ordering a dozen or so shrimp egg rolls to have (by himself) for dinner.

The craving is still upon him, but greatly diminished. Perhaps later this week it may happen.

Carry on.

TWP - Cold Water

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the Bridget/Ms. Abercrombie writing prompt for today is to describe a time he went into cold water.

Allow your Maximum Leader to say that he generally avoids truly cold water. He recalls reading, perhaps in Lady Longford’s biography of the Duke of Wellington, that the Iron Duke (long before he was the Iron Duke) started his day with a bath of ice water. Or very cold water at the least. Your Maximum Leader is not one of those that enjoys the cold water first thing in the morning. Or really at just about any time. The last time he recalls an encounter with truly cold water was a number of years ago when he walked into the Atlantic Ocean in November. He didn’t go all the way in. He was in shorts and took off his shoes and walked out into the surf up to his knees. The air temperature was mild, perhaps in the 60s Fahrenheit. (15C for those of you using the metric system.) The water was not so mild. It might have only been in the high 30s Fahrenheit. (3C for you metric people.) He recalls the needle-like feelings all up and down his calves from the water. Then he recalls the numbing. He wondered how long it might take for his toes to turn blue. He didn’t stay in the water for long. But trudged back out onto the beach. Put his shoes back on. And walked on.

Your Maximum Leader much prefers the civilised choice of warm or hot water. He probably over-heats his water for showers. He isn’t as bad as he used to be, where if his skin color wasn’t just a few shades lighter than a steamed lobster it wasn’t hot enough. But he does like his warm shower. It is funny. In the morning a hot shower is invigorating. But at night the same water can be soothing and relaxing. He wonders why that is. It is probably all in his head…

Anyhoo…

There is the cold water prompt.

Carry on.

TWP - 3 Sentences

Greetings, loyal minions.

Today’s writing prompt was “Write three sentences. They don’t have to connect. They don’t even have to make sense. Just three sentences.”

Here you go:

The Washington Capitals/New York Rangers game is on the TV and is very close.
Today’s Oglaf.com cartoon amused me greatly.
The ham and bean soup I started to make yesterday (and hoped to eat for dinner last night) seems like it is ready to be eaten for dinner tonight.

And a bonus sentence:

I wish it would just stop raining for a week or two.

Carry on.

TWP - The Wall

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is more active on the Twitter than he has been here on his very own blog. This, if you are reading this, you know. On the Twitter (by the way, he is @maximumleader), he follows Bridget Phetasy. (She is @bridgetphetasy.) He really enjoys Bridget’s writing. She is a fascinating person. He would be reluctant to try to describe her simply. He will recommend that if you are interested in learning more about her, just go to her Twitter feed. She is open about herself - sometimes your Maximum Leader finds she is uncomfortably open about herself. Anyhow… Check her out. If you like what you read, consider becoming on of her patrons via Patreon. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why he decided to follow Bridget on Patreon, but he did. He’s not regretted it at all. And that brings us to this post.

In late 2017, Bridget exhorted her followers to write. Your Maximum Leader decided his blog was moribund and decided to try to write more. He wrote a few posts that he titled “The Writing Project.” Well… They didn’t go all that well. A few days ago, Bridget started to offer writing prompts and asked that those who were inclined to do so try and write according the prompts. Your Maximum Leader, though he will be dropping the 3rd person shtick that you’ve all grown to know and love, is trying to do as he’s been exhorted to do…

The writing prompt was thus:

“Write an intention, a new way to look at the block or wall that’s keeping you from writing, or a plan to ignore it an move on. Maybe you have a description of a formidable wall, or a negative monologue, or maybe just random words scattered on the page. It doesn’t matter, as long as you write something, anything, for five minutes. Could your wall also be giving you privacy and protection? Or maybe you need to blast a hole in it or dynamite it to smithereens. It’s your wall; you decide how to handle it.”

This prompt came from Kicking In The Wall by Barbara Abercombie. Though the prompt calls for five minutes of writing, at Bridget’s exhortation, Your Maximum Leader will go for 15 or 25 minutes. As always, what he writes would be better served by having an editor. Here we go:

What is (or was) it that effectively ended my regular blogging? I used to write about anything that popped into my mind. Then nothing? What the hell happened?

The easy answer would be life. Family with growing kids. Marriage. Work. You know (or perhaps you don’t) the regular stuff. But upon reflection it might have been a combination of three things. Those things are (in no particular order): Twitter, Self-confidence, and laziness. Allow me to expound on this…

I use Twitter. That gawd-awful shithole of a social media site. It was billed as “micro-blogging” at one point. Rather than the format in front of your eyes right this moment, Twitter was better. It was short and fast. 140 characters or less and your idea was out there. Shouted (or whispered in my case) into the ether for anyone to consume. It was instantaneous gratification. It was (and is) easy to do from your computer, from your phone, from a table. You name it, it is easy to use Twitter. How fricken hard can 140 (and now upgraded to 240) characters be? Not hard at all is the answer. And anyone can “like” your post. Or they can respond to your post. Or they can retweet your post to others. Twitter is an easy way to communicate the most basic short idea that you can have. You just put it all out there. A tweet takes almost no time. It take almost no effort. It demands almost no reflection. It just satisfies an urge. And it satisfies an urge in the worst way possible. You have an idea. You formulate that idea into a sentence. You type the sentence. You tweet it out. Once the tweet is sent, you feel like you have actually done something. You have shared an idea. You have created. The problem is that you have really just thrown some crap into the ether and hope that someone reads it. Thanks to all the algorithms that Twitter uses you can’t really be sure that anyone actually did see it (without getting some feedback on the tweet). But, you “feel” like you have done something. Also, if you read something on Twitter that strikes your fancy, you can hit that heart-shaped “Like” button. That, too, feels like really doing something. I “liked” that other person’s thought. I’ve co-opted that thought as something I “like” so in some small way you can lay claim to it. Even better, you can retweet something someone else tweets. You can even add your own comment to something you retweet. That is even more fulfilling. You are taking someone else’s thought and amplifying it in your own way. All these things feel like creation, and to some extent they are. But they are a cheap and easy type of creation that doesn’t require a train of thought. It doesn’t really require the discipline of writing lots of words together in a way that someone else could read and understand. In my mind, Twitter became a substitute for writing here. So this place languished. It just happened organically. As long as I have Twitter, I don’t think I’ll blog here like I used to. That does make me a little sad. It also leads to the second point…

I wonder about my self-confidence sometimes. By this I mean, who wants to read this shite (as my Scottish ancestors might have said)? What difference or point is there to adding another voice to the cacophony of voices? What on earth could I have to say that would amount to anything in this crazy world. I don’t know where this lacking of confidence may have come from. It isn’t apparent in the writing here from 2003 to 2015. But it is there now. Perhaps it is the times we are living through. What the hell is going on in the world? I called myself a “conservative Republican” from 1981 until about 2008. From 2008 until 2017 I started calling myself a “conservative.” Now I’m not sure how even to label myself. What am I trying to conserve? I flirted with “conservatarian” for a time. That odd term that is a hybrid of “conservative” and “libertarian.” It fits in a lot of ways. I think I am both a social and economic conservative. But I recognise that we live in a pluralistic society where civil people can agree to disagree. That is the root of my “libertarian” streak. I like freedom. I like liberty. I want you to like both of them as well. I want us to have as much of both as possible. But I also believe that the nature of mankind is generally bad and that we need restrictions on liberty. We need a society of laws. I would like as few laws as needed to have an ordered society in which we can all just get along. But sadly, this broad description of my own philosophy seems to run against the current trends on what we currently refer to as the “right” and the “left.” Both sides seem to enjoy namecalling, “sick burns” on social media, tribalism, and living in their own echo chambers. Both sides also are so gleefully and unabashedly hypocritical in their politics that it has finally gotten to me. I say finally because I’ve known politics make people hypocrites for my whole life. But I could put it aside to advance my side. Now it just upsets me. And there is the root of why this causes me not to write. I don’t want to participate in what passes for debate now. It isn’t debate. It isn’t discourse. I don’t know what it is really. It disappoints me and leads to a feeling that what I have to say is meaningless and without much value. If you don’t think what you might write has value, there isn’t much purpose in committing the words in your head to the ether for anyone to read…

The last point is one most people can wrap their heads around easily. It is easier not to write than it is to write. It is a lot easier for me to sit down in my comfy leather chair with a extra nice bourbon on the side table next to me than it is for me to write. I can sit in my chair and watch a game (mostly hockey and baseball) on TV. Or watch a stupid television show. Or perhaps read a book. It is easier to do any of those things than it is to write. I can justify my laziness as “relaxing” after a “hard day of life.” But it is just lazy. I used to enjoy writing. When I do it, I still enjoy it. But it is a shit-ton easier to sit and have a drink and not write.

So what is the plan? I don’t know. I suppose the past two weeks of writing (including this effort) is a start. It is just trying to re-establish the discipline of writing. In a way, this writing exercise is just another deflection. By writing about why I don’t write anymore I am just putting an apology out there. (And apology in the Aristotelian sense of course.) The wall keeping me from writing is not as wall so much as it is a mirror. A mirror showing me myself as not-a-person-that-writes. There is no way out of that except by not looking in that mirror and deciding to write. I could get rid of Twitter, but I don’t know that I’m going to. I could cut back. Cut back to just a few people on Twitter that I enjoy actually interacting with. Get rid of all the news and political stuff. But the platform creeps into everything. You can’t actually reduce your intake of Twitter. It is an all or nothing thing. You’re an addict or you are in recovery (or you were lucky enough to never experiment with Twitter in the first place).

I’m not sure where any of this leaves me… Except to figure out how to write more…

Carry on.

Armoured Trains

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is quite fond of the choo-choos. Oh yes indeed. He would make most of his travel rail travel if time, expense, and availability of stops weren’t a factor. He would gladly hop on a train and go to just about anywhere he had to go.

Sadly, he does not. He could take a commuter train to DC more often. (But for where and when he goes driving is best.) He does prefer and take the train to Philly, and NYC when he has occasion to go there. He’s planning a trip to Roanoke on the train (to visit Villainette #2). But making the time to get the train that goes to Roanoke is a bit of a chore.

If your Maximum Leader were truly a murderous dictator (or merely a tyrant, or even a person of conspicuous wealth) he would gladly have a private train on which he would travel. Of course, your Maximum Leader’s train would be much nicer looking that Kim Jong-un’s. Kim’s train is nothing special to look at. Your Maximum Leader would prefer more streamlined, and not green. Something like Raymond Loewy would have designed. Like one of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s S-1 or T-1 locomotives (seen here). But obviously (and sadly) not steam powered. One thinks the locomotives would have to be diesel (or some futuristic diesel and electric hybrid - running on electric on the electrified tracks of the Northeast Corridor, but having diesel for the non-electrified track). And it goes without saying that while your Maximum Leader’s train would be stocked full of fine foods, adult beverages, and comely conductors like Kim’s train, it would travel faster than 37 mph.

Of course, your Maximum Leader mentioned the very famous PRR S-1 and T-1 locomotives as a basis for the design of his train. Your Maximum Leader’s favourite locomotive in the whole wide world is the Norfolk & Western J-Class. He would probably use the J-Class as a model for the locomotive on his (completely hypothetical) armoured train.

NB: Your Maximum Leader must have some British English box checked on spell check because armor appears wrong but armour appears to be correct.

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

    • maxldr

    Villainous
    Contacts

    • E-mail your villainous leader:
      "maxldr-blog"-at-yahoo-dot-com or
      "maximumleader"-at-nakedvillainy-dot-com

    • Follow us on Twitter:
      at-maximumleader

    • No really follow on
      Twitter. I tweet a lot.

Got Villainy?

    Villainous Commerce

    Villainous Sponsors

      • Get your link here.

      Villainous Search