Frequently Asked Questions XIV

Who Is Joe Doakes?  Is he just a pseudonym for…Mitch Berg? – I get this a lot.  I have to chuckle a good-natured chuckle when I do; I’ve written something like 20,000 posts on this blog over the years; I do not need a medium for additional writing on this blog.  That’d be like Rush Limbaugh coming up with some character voice to do another talk show.

Joe Doakes is in fact a pseudym for a local lawyer.  He writes under a pen name because – he’s a local lawyer.

That’s the whole story.

You used to read and report on what a lot of Democrat-leaning blogs were writing about.  You don’t so much anymore.  Why?   I waste less time by just subscribing to the Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota email blasts.

Some of your commenters have to be sock puppets:  Nope.  Never done it, never will.  Oh, it’s been tempting – the idea of abandoning my stentorian detachment under the cover of a fictitious identity and just cutting loose.  But no, ever done it.

Isn’t it high time you updated the DFL Dictionary?:  Oh, yeah  Great idea.  Stay tuned.   More to come shortly.

In your various pieces about “Protect Minnesota”, “Everytown” and “Moms Want Action”, you’ve referred to something called “ELCA Hair” to describe members of the groups.  What do you mean?  That’s a good question; it’s probably pretty opaque to people who aren’t familiar with liberal culture in Minnesota.

There’s something of a “uniform” among upper-middle-class white liberals in Minnesota.  This “uniform” – it’s got plenty of variations, but work with me here – generally includes:

  • a degree from Carlton, Saint Thomas, Macalester, Saint Olaf or the Humphrey Institute
  • a Volvo or Subaru, frequently coated with virtue-signaling bumper stickers
  • “ELCA Hair”.

“ELCA Hair” is, loosely, a hairdo prominent among upper-middle-class white members of the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of America”, a liberal Lutheran synod centered in Minnesota.

What is it?  Well, it’s easier to show than to tell.

This photo is almost a museum-piece of ELCA Hair, something that could appear in an anthropological exhibit:

Every person visible in this photo exhibits a flavor of “ELCA Hair” (except the woman at the microphone; Minnesota liberalism grants Jewish liberals  an exemption from ELCA Hair).  The ‘do is the most effective frame for a face that’s sagged into place from, and for, a lifetime of self-righteous scowling.

Let’s look next at the photo below.  There are several subspecies of “ELCA Hair” in this photo:

  • The young man on the left wears the cut acceptable for men below the age of about 34, provided they work for a non-profit.  At 35, they morph into the versions in the photo above.
  • The three women adjacent to him exhibit the ‘do deemed acceptable to women below roughly age 33.
  • The second woman from the left in the back row has just turned 35; she has hacked her shoulder-length hair off at the ears, apparently to keep her Whole Foods club card.

For men, it’s parted, just long enough to look a wee bit raffish and “counterculture”, just short enough to not draw attention.

For women?  It stands to reason that ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the leader of the denomination, has it,  And she surely does…:

(Bishop Eaton is a little bit unusual; most women with ELCA Hair go gray once they reach about 38 years old.  I suspect divine intervention).

Anyway – that’s it for today!



Jon Stewart Admits “Stand Your Ground” Is Democracy’s Only Legitimate Response To Street Crime

There.   Now that I have your attention…

While I’ve always run a forthrightly ideological conservative blog (that also covers music, history, and pretty much any other subject I want to cover), I’ve also always sought to facilitate a lively discussion in my comment section – one that crosses the proverbial aisle.  That has been my policy since I first figured out how to add comments to this blog, back in 2003 or so.

I italicize the word discussion because that is literally what I’m shooting for; people from all different angles of a subject, going at it, pretty much untrammeled.  Let’s face it – vigorous agreement is just another term for “echo chamber”; a good donnybrook is a chance to convince others.  Or even me – lotsa luck.  Some of this blog’s most celebrated commenters – I’m looking at you, Angryclown – could be fairly called “the opposition” in this space.

And that’s a good thing.

A good discussion  is kind of a rare thing in the world of blogs, these days; most blogs either farm their comments out to a turnkey service in which they participate only rarely (like Hot Air or Powerline), or control access veeeeeery carefully (Sally Jo Sorenson at Bluestem Prairie, who blocks many/most critical comments, and holds most all comments until she can respond), or just block everyone that annoys them (pretty much name any left-leaning MN blogs).

For over a decade, I’ve tried, and succeeded, in focusing my comment section on being a discussion.  In all that time,I’ve rolled out the welcome mat to all, pretty much without exception; I’ve kept to my policy of only blocking people who write things that could get me in legal trouble (two commenters, ever) or people who feel like exercising personal pissing matches with me  – three of them bordering on stalking – to an extent where there was no redeeming value to the “conribution” they made.

But while I feel no desire to change my policy, I’m going to say this; I did not start my comment section as a place for people to do the rhetorical equivalent of leaving a bag of flaming dog poo at my door, ringing the bell and running.

If you make a continuous practice of dumping contentious comments and running, week in, week out, then you’re treating the comment section more like your personal blog.

And since a blog takes literally two minutes to set up, there’s no real reason for you to do that – or for me to host it.

I don’t care if you refer people back to your personal blog (or facebook page, or twitter feed) as much as you want.  Go for it!   That’s how all of us created traffic when we were getting started!  But if you’re dumping a bunch of content here without actually discussing it with, at the very least, me – the person hosting your little outburst – then we’ll need to have a word.

Radio Daze

It occurs to me – even though we’ve got all the internet we want these days, I’ve never gone out and looked up a lot of the people I used to know in the radio business.

Of course, from my first, probably most “famous” gig in Twin Cities radio – KSTP, thirty years ago – some of them are all too easy.  Don Vogel died over twenty years ago; John MacDougal, not long after that.  Cathy Wurzer has been part of the furniture at MPR for almost as long.  Mark Boyle has been the voice of the Indiana Pacers for a quarter century now; his sports sidedkick Bruce Gordon is a communications guy with the State of Minnesota.

But of the people who were on the air, the one I get asked about the most is Geoff Charles.  The self-styled former-marine / former hippie and the only person in American media who’s farther out than Art Bell, who was just as mercurial and enigmatic in person as he was on the air (and one of the genuinely nicest people I’ve ever met in the racket, once I started working for him) is…

…utterly, counterintuitively, a long-time fixture in radio in Providence, Rhode Island.

And the idea of G Charles staying anywhere that long is a psychic acid trip in its own right.


I owe someone some thanks.  And I have no easy way of reaching them.  But what the heck – we’ll try it the hard way:

Last night, I woke up to a knock on my door at 11PM.

After a quarter-century of living in the Midway, I know that there’s no such thing as a good knock on the door after dark – so I took, er, the necessary precautions, and went to the door.

A young woman identifying herself as “Shelby” told me she’d seen a car run into my daughter’s car, which was parked out on the street, and then drive off. She got the license number, called the police, left a note under my daughter’s windshield wiper…and then came and knocked on the door.

First, let me say two things; it takes guts to walk up to a stranger’s door at all, much less in the middle of the night, much less when you’re a (near as I could tell) 5’3, 120 pound woman.

Second thing?  I’m happy I live in a neighborhood where people feel they can walk up to a stranger’s door and knock in the middle of the night.

But I digress.

It was miserably cold last night, and I wasn’t in a state to let anyone in, #ifyacatchmydrift, but she basically told me everything I needed to call the police and the insurance company to get things taken care of.

To my astonishment, the cops actually found the car, and the driver – a woman from up north somewhere who was apparently lost and claimed not to have known she’d hit someone. I can find no record that charges were filed – the woman wasn’t drunk, according to the officer I talked with. I’m going to guess she was texting and didn’t see a black car on a dark street. That’s just a guess.

Thankfully, at least both parties are insured.

Anyway – I don’t know who you are, Shelby, and I hope you’ll forgive my less than stellar late-night hospitality, but I thank you for all you did last night.

And if someone out there in the Midway knows Ms. Shelby (twentysomething, African-American, probably 5’3, possibly a Hamline student), it’d make my day if you could pass on my thanks!

Well, That Snuck Up On Me

Today is this blog’s 14th Anniversary.

On February 5, 2002, I – a fairly recently divorced guy with a couple of kids and a fifteen-year-dead “career” as a pundit, working at a dotcom that was already circling the drain – read an article in Time magazine about “the new generation of conservative intellectuals”.  They directed me to, of all people, Andrew Sullivan – who was a conservative, at the time – and in a sidebar, explained what a “blog” was.

Starving for an outlet, I ran out to “”, signed up, and started writing.   And I’ve kept at it, most weekdays, ever since.

I got lucky – I got a couple of back to back Instalanches bright and early and, on one notable day back in 2004, simultaneous plugs from Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt and James Lileks – which pretty much put me on the map.

Blogs surged, of course, and then settled back into the social media pack behind Twitter and Facebook.  What was once a huge, bustling blogging scene in the Twin Cities is now a couple of blog superstars – Ed Morrissey, Lileks and the Powerline guys – and a small, hard core of people who just love to write; I’m one of them.

Up until that first couple of Instalanches, this blog got maybe 10 hits a day.  I’ve been holding steady around 1,000 visits every weekday for most of the past decade or so – not enough to make it a fulltime job, too many to be anything but thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given.

And it’s been an amazing opportunity.  It led, of course, to meeting a group of amazing friends; Brian, Chad and Atomizer from the Fraters (Brian emailed me back in 2002, the first person to tell me that there were other bloggers in the Twin Cities), John and Scott from Power Line, Lileks, King Banaian (blog is long gone), Brad, the Stroms and the Stewarts, the tireless Mr. D, Enge, Gary, Ryan, Foot, and too many others to mention.

And it led to the show, of which much more next month.

Anyway – thank you all for indulging my little outburst this past almost-decade-and-a-half.

By Any Memes Necessary, 2015!

I’m told it’s a tradition now. I can live with that.

1. Was 2015 a good year for you? :  It was a challenging year – but the challenges were more benign than some previous years.  That’s pretty good!
2. What was your favorite moment(s) of the year?:  Finally putting the worst of the teenage years in behind us.
3. What was your least favorite moment(s) of the year?:  Two job hunts in twelves months (I got caught in two large layoffs).  They both ended well, but it was a stressful year.
4. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?:  Worked mostly from home.
5. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?: “Keep” is such an absolute word.  I did OK.
6. Where were you when 2015 began?:  Mancini’s.
7. Who were you with?:  Friends.
8. Where will you be when 2015 ends?:  I was out with other friends!
9. Who will you be with when 2015 ends?: Asked and answered.
10. Did anyone close to you give birth?:  A couple of my friends had a baby a couple days ago.
11. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2015?:  No. Knock wood.
12. Who did you miss?:  Grandparents.
13. Who was the best new person you met in 2015?:  Too many to name here.
14. What was your favorite month of 2015?:  September.  Finally caught up financially from the aforementioned job goat-rodeo, plus some good family stuff.
15. Did you travel outside of the US in 2015?:  No.  Come to think of it, I haven’t been outside the US since I was last in Canada, in ’84.  I’m due.
16. How many different states did you travel to in 2015?:  Pretty lame year for travel (2013-15 were much better).  Just Minnesota and North Dakota.  I don’t think I even made it to Hudson in 2015.
17. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?:  The ability to be less reactive and more proactive about career stuff.
18. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?:  Probably the day I got my second layoff in six months.  Not pleasant, but it’s etched.
19. What was your biggest achievement of the year?:  Recovering from both layoffs quickly and successfully (knock wood).
20. What was your biggest failure?:  To get back in shape.  It’s a big goal for the coming year.  To be fair, I was doing really good about biking to work, until the second layoff hit.
21. Did you suffer illness or injury?:  Nope.  Pretty healthy year. Knock wood.
22. What was the best thing you bought?:  I picked up a new Mac Mini on Black Friday at Microcenter.  (I hate Black Friday, but the deal was too good to pass up).
23. Whose behavior merited celebration?:  My kids – for different reasons, but in both cases I’m overjoyed.
24. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?:  the various city governments of the Twin Cities.
25. Where did most of your money go?:  Bills!
26. What did you get really, really, really excited about?:  Working at home!
27. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2015?:  I never drink “a lot”.  I probably drank a little more than previous years, since I’ve come to enjoy a glass of wine or whisky in the evening – but in the year 2015, I went through exactly three bottles of whisky, three bottles of wine and a twelve-pack of beer at home.  So no, I didn’t drink a lot.
28. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2015?:  Ibuprofen?
29. Did you treat somebody badly in 2015?:  Nope.
30. Did somebody treat you badly in 2015?:  Other than the usual online oompa-loompas, whom I’ve come to completely ignore, no.
31. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? – Probably happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? – A tad thinner.  Frustratingly little.
iii. richer or poorer? – My money is better-managed this year.
32. What do you wish you’d done more of in 2015?:  Travel.  The second layoff forced me to scrub a planned trip to Nova Scotia.
33. What do you wish you’d done less of?:  Job hunting!
34. Did you fall in love in 2015?:   Love is a constant!
35. What was your favorite TV program(s)?:  Walking Dead, Longmire, Making a Murderer. 
36. What song will always remind you of 2015?:  “Slow Turning” by John Hiatt.  Long story.
37. How many concerts did you see in 2015?:  Two!  First time I’ve seen concerts since 2003.
38. Did you have a favorite concert in 2015?;  Richard Thompson (with Katrina Leskanich in second).
39. What was your greatest musical discovery?:
Finding out that the local classical station plays both “Music from the Hearts of Space” and “Pipe Dreams” on Sunday nights.
40. What was the best book you read?: “Trulbert“.  (Actually, this blog’s long-time friend Ryan Rhodes turned a series of blog posts from the time of the very premature birth of his twins into a rough but wrenching book that was my most affecting read this year, one I highly recommend).
41. What was your favorite film of this year?:  It’s not from this year, but I saw Silver Linings Playbook this year.  Incredible movie.
42. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?:  Went out to dinner, and the same age Springsteen was when he started recording “Ghost of Tom Joad”.
43. What did you want and get?:  Other than a job when I needed it, twice?  I wanted to rebuild my back porch – and I did it.
44. What did you want and not get?:  A national talk radio syndication deal with a six figure salary.
45. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?:  Keeping on my “bike every morning” kick from the spring.  It’s a big goal for the coming year.
46. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?:  I worked at home this past year.  Carhart T-Shirts, Duluth Jeans.
47. What kept you sane?:  All those reassuring voices.
48. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?:  Scarlett Johanson, same as last year.
49. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.:   Relationships matter.
50. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.:  “In the footsteps of Napoleon, the shadow figures stagger through the winter
Falling back before the gates of Moscow, standing in the wings like an avenger.
And far away behind their lines, the partisans are stirring in the forest,
falling unexpectedly upon their outposts, growing like a promise.
You’ll never know, you’ll never know which way to turn, which way to look, you’ll never see us,
as we’re stealing through the blackness of the night you’ll never know, you’ll never hear us”.
 — “Roads to Moscow”, Al Stewart
Same as every year.
Happy New Year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just thought I’d drop a quick line; posting will be light today and, likely, tomorrow.

I’m thankful today for all the usual stuff – family, friends, a job, a home, the means to provide; my kids, my granddaughter, and the opportunities we all have.

And speaking of opportunities, I’m thankful for the chance I get to talk to you every day on this blog, and once a week on the air.  Thank you all for that!

Have a great weekend.  I’ll be on the air Saturday.

Going Long On The Stupidity Of Crowds

A friend of this blog writes:

I don’t know about you, but most of the people think of the bicycle lobby as the leisure class, so it is interesting that one of them is now admitting that we lower class taxpayers are indeed building this infrastructure for the elites.

The piece, on the transportation/transit site “”, is by our old friend Ken “Avidor” Weiner, who since the retirement of Michele Bachmann seems to have mostly vanished from view, but for the odd warm and fuzzy from a Twin Cities media that always seems to keep its lefty “eccentrics” in its orbit.

Its premise:  biking is becoming chic, and it’s up to the working-class rubes to keep up with the Joneses in Minneapolis, with their chic world-class bikeability rating, because of collective pride.  

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love biking.  I do a fair amount of it.  And I do appreciate the taxpayers of Minneapolis, building me all those nice paths (although less so those stupid downtown lanes, squished between the parking lane and the curb, and sometimes seemingly paved with broken glass, and always a slalom looking out for doors opening and people crossing to their cars.  Dumb dumb dumb).

I’m not going to quote Weiner – because I really just did explain the article; “build bike lanes because Yay Saint Paul”.

I mean, read it.  Am I wrong?

Frequently Asked Questions, Part XII

“Why do you allow commenters like “Dog Gone” to do their “Poop and run” commenting, leaving big, easily-debunked comments and never sticking around to defend their mendacity?”  I’ve been blogging almost 14 years, and had a comment section most of that time.  The goal of that comment section has always been to give readers a place to discuss what they think about what I’ve written.  In that time, my policy has always been to never ban anyone, unless

  1. They write something that’ll get me in legal trouble
  2. Their entire reason for being on the blog is to personally bash me.  Not an article, or my reasoning, but me, personally, over and over and over.

Between the two, I’ve probably actually banned half a dozen people in 14 years.  Many of you can probably name them.

I’ve always figured it was more important to have a discussion than an echo chamber – a sentiment the left doesn’t largely subscribe to, by the way – so I let most of it go.  On my show, in fact, liberal callers get on first.  It’s policy.

I do this because I still cling to the notion that discussion is a dying art in this country.

Am I getting tired of the “poop and run” style of commenting?  Sure.  It’s intellectually dishonest; using someone else’s discussion space to dump an argument that one never intends to (and, usually, can’t) defend is basically spam.

“Why do you oppose switching to the metric system?”  I don’t.  I oppose another extended, expensive government program to try to force the general public to use metric in their daily lives.

You ever notice how almost everyone in the Netherlands can communicate in German and English?  How most everyone in Belgium can do a sort of French and Dutch, and usually English to boot?   How Germans very often speak excellent English and decent French, and how Swiss are functionally trilingual?   And how often liberals sniff down their noses and say this is evidence of American provincialism?

It’s not; it’s because European “nations” are the size of US states – and these days, they have about the same barriers between them.   Can you imagine if Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Iowa all spoke different languages than Minnesota?  You’d have a lot of quadrilingual Minnesotans!  Fact is, Europeans need to get around in several languages – so they do.

It works the same with measurement systems.  Just as Belgium and Canada have two languages, America operates, unofficially, with two systems of measurement; one for scientists, engineers, a few people in foreign trade and the military, and one for the rest of us.  Any American who needs to be fluent in metric, is – and translates between the two, if not fluently, then functionally; three kilometers is two miles, a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, a liter is 1.1 quarts, 2.5 acres to a Hectare, an inch is 2.5 centimeters, a meter is 1.1 yards, a foot is 304 mm – it’s just not that hard, and for those translations that are too hard, Siri and Google can calculate even if doing it on a calculator or spreadsheet is too complicated.

There.  I just saved the taxpayer millions of dollars.

“A Good Guy with a Gun is teh falesy!”:   Well, no – it‘s not.

“You are teh Christeean.  You hate teh SCIENCE cuz you believe teh Earth is 4,000 years old!”:  Well, no.  The notion that the Genesis story is literal fact on par with empirical observation is very, very new; its’ only been accepted by parts of Christendom for less than 200 years.  The idea that the earth literally formed in seven days and that the listing of generations in Leviticus and Deuteronomy is, literally, a family tree that more or less precisely dates the universe would have seemed bizarre to Augustine and Aquinas.

There is, literally, nothing about an allegorical reading of the Genesis creation story that is at odds in any significant way with science.

Which is why critics like the ones I “quote” above – who are largely from the “lapsed Catholic with daddy issues” school of militant atheism – spend so much time bashing the “literalist” straw man.  It invalidates the one little thread they connecting them to that feeling of superiority they crave.

“Often, you seem to come across as arrogant and condescending”:  Toots, if I did bother wasting my precious time being arrogant to you, you’d be the last to figure it out.

“You say you’re a libertarian conservative – but there is no such thing!  You must pick one or the other!”:  No, I mustn’t.

American conservatism is built around several important ideas – including the idea that “new ideas have to pass a fairly stern burden of proof”.

Two of the ideas that American conservatives believe have passed that burden:

  1. Individual liberty is an intrinsically good thing.
  2. Without order, freedom is impossible

It’s one of those things that makes true intellectual conservatism so difficult; those are contradictory.  True conservatives recognize the conundrum that exists between the two, and fight constantly to navigate it as unobtrusively as possible.

Without liberty, order is just tyranny.  Without order, liberty is impossible – because to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the moral arc of history bends is long, but it bends toward barbarism.

That truism – and the conundrum – are the theme of a certain book that is on the market even as we speak!

A Sort Of Homecoming

Today’s Columbus Day.  Which, to me, is the 30th anniversary of the day I set out to move from my hometown of Jamestown, North Dakota to the Twin Cities…

…and failed.  Long story, which I told here about ten years ago.

It was October of 1985.  I’d graduated from college almost six months earlier – and, as they say, “failed to launch”, at least immediately. I’d worked on a roofing and siding job, and at a bookstore, and put some money away as I’d tried to figure out what I was going to do after college – until I made the decision in a bout of drunken whimsy two weeks earlier.

Continue reading

Some Blog Housekeeping

I’m going to introduce you to one new feature on this blog, and throw in a mention of one that’s been around for years.

The new one?  “A Guy With A Gun” – a list of episodes where a citizen with a firearm has interrupted a mass shooting.  This information has beens scattered about the blog for years (and it still is; the page is a work in progress); now, this blog has a one-stop page for episodes.  As episodes come to my attention, I’ll be adding them.  Feel free to leave new episodes in the comment section.

Another that’s been around a while, but that I’ll be updating more aggressively, is “Climate of Hate“.   I first started the page 5.5 years ago, as a response to the left’s conceit that there was an epidemic of right-wing violence in this country; it is, in fact, the left that resorts to violence first.

Got new episodes of either mass-shootings ended by citizens, or of lefty violence (or particularly ugly threats or transference)?  Leave a comment in either page (or here – but this post will soon crawl away to obscurity, while the Pages will be up top forever…)

Note:  Unlike everywhere else in this blog, off-topic or threadjacking comments on either of these pages will be deleted without any further ceremony or warnin – as will on-topic comments once I’ve decided if the subject matter merits inclusion or not.

It Was Ten Years Ago Today…

…that it occurred to me that “twenty years ago today, I made the impulsive, borderline-intoxicated decision to move to the Twin Cities.”

Which led to the longest-running series in the history of this blog, Twenty Years Ago Today – a seven year, 130-essay series about my life from that night I decided to move until my daughter was born.

Apropos not much – although it probably got more positive feedback (and, believe it or not, howling anger from certain anonymous leftybloggers) over a longer time than anything else in the history of this blog.  The temptation to put the whole series out as an e-book is definitely there.

Complication: I started the series on my old “Movable Type” blog, and then switched to WordPress in 2006.  I started copying posts over, but never quite finished them.

Here’s the list of the posts before 11/06; here are the remainder and the ones I’ve migrated over.

Anyway – time flies, it seems.


When I was in high school, I may have been the last generation to actually spend any time watching instructional films.  Not videos – productions shot on film.

Now, my beef is not with the medium on which the production was shot; video versus film is an aesthetic argument, and not one that I’m particularly involved in.

But along about time time video supplanted film, computer animation began to replace an older, more fascinating art – the building of explanatory models.

Explaining complex processes, equations, and mechanical concepts is difficult.  And in a way, I’ve found the plethora of computer-based animations used to do the explaining today are almost too accurate to do a job of explaining complex concepts.

Filling that gap, long before there were any computers, was the operating model.

An operating model took a complex concept, mechanism or process, simplified it, magnified the important stuff while omitting (or deferring) the minutia, and explained it.

And it’s kind of a lost art.

Which was why I loved this film – which explains the function of the auto differential, a bit of mechanical engineering that always amazes me…:

…and this one, which is as good an explanation of pretty much every firearm operating system in the business:

And I can watch them for hours.

To Mr. Chunk, Wherever And Whoever You May Be

To: The Piece Of Garbage Throwing Chunks of Cement at Bikers in Minneapolis
From:  Just Plain Mitch Berg
Re:  Consequences

Big Guy With The White Bronco And The Cement Chunks,

Just a hint for you before you go throwing any more chunks of cement at bikers; it is – I’m speaking purely hypothetically, here – possible that not every Twin Cities biker is a sprout-eating, Whole-Foods-shopping, Betsy-Hodges-upsucking, NPR-listening, pacifism-endorsing (against everyone but people who shoot lions), Obama-voting, coffee-shop-folk-music-listening, Daily-Show-watching Peace Studies major.

Again, I’m speaking purely hypothetically, here.

Just saying.  Go back to pulling the wings off of moths and torturing cats.  They probably can’t fight back.  You’re clearly into that.

That is all .

A Dilemma

As the sales of my first book, Trulbert!, continue to outpace my meager expectations, the question “what next” is occupying more and more of my time.

I’ve been thinking about compiling my Twenty Years Ago Today series into an e-book, for all the people who’ve asked me about it over the past decade (and there have been quite a few).  I am strongly thinking about putting that out this September, in time for the tenth anniversary of the series.

But in terms of original books, as opposed to “Hewitts” (books compiled from blog posts)?

There are a few contenders:

  • “An Accidental Conservative”:  how a guy who by all rights should have been a liberal, became a conservative.  Then a libertarian.  Then a libertarian-conservative again.  And why.   Pros:  that book is largely also already written.  Cons:  I have to dig through a little over 12,000 blog posts to assemble it.
  • “Josef Sklrbczsz, American”:  The story of a young man from an Eastern European goat-town whose entire knowledge of America comes from the mass media.  Then, he comes to America.
  • “Purple Sunset”:  An expansion of my “Secession Diaries” stories, from ten years ago.  Pros:  It’d be a fun piece to write.  Cons:  What?  Me, write a book of absurdist speculative political fiction?

The Twenty Years Ago one is kind of a no-brainer.

Beyond that?  The sky is the limit…

John Edwards Was Only 2/3 Right

Former Senator and two-time Presidential hopeful John Edwards was an immensely tragic figure, in a purely satirical sense, in that he may have been the only Democrat candidate in history to be derailed by violating conventional prole social mores.

But he made one great contribution to American life; the phrase starting “There are Two Americas…”.  This is a gift that has kept on giving to satirists, and likely always will.

But in some cases, it doesn’t go far enough.

Because in cities like Saint Paul, at least in re the Met and City Councils’ ongoing plans to bike-ify the streets and make driving cars utterly unpalatable, there are three Saint Pauls:

The Midway, Saint Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Battle Creek, Payne-Phalen, Summit-Uni and the like:  In these neighborhoods, there is a minority of bikers – and no real resistance to the idea of having the neighborhood’s streets whittled down to one lane plus bike lanes and, maybe, parking.

The East Side, The North End, Frogtown, Dayton’s Bluff:  Nobody bikes, and nobody wants to build bike lanes through them.

Highland:  A powerful minority of well-connected bikers went up against a powerful minority of well-organized NOMASs (“Not On My Arterial Steet!”) – and the NOMAS won a victory, even if only temporary.

The council voted 6-0 for Council Member Chris Tolbert’s amendment to study possible bike lanes on Finn Street and Prior Avenue as well as Cleveland, and to ask the Public Works department to draw up “a robust public engagement plan” to get more input from residents, business owners, district councils and others before deciding by the end of the year where to put the lanes.

Finn?  That’s narrow enough already!

Prior?  That’s two blocks from Cleveland!

And four blocks from already bike-friendly Fairview.

Tolbert said based on the feedback he had gotten — “the most public engagement I’ve received since I’ve been on the council” — he wasn’t sure the issue had been properly vetted. He represents the area south of St. Clair Avenue, where business and property owners said they had collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing bike lanes down Cleveland.

“Both sides have brought up a lot of good issues and a lot of issues that need to be resolved, and we haven’t had a lot of time to let that happen,” Tolbert said.

Now, in most cases – see “The Green Line”, the “Lebanon Hills Park Bike Path” – the “public engagement” is just a ticket the bureaucracy punches on the way to doing what it had planned all along.

In this case?  NOMAS in Highland Park might actually bring some teeth to the issue.

Trulbert: A Comic Novella About The End Of The World As We Know It

Welcome, Instapundit Readers!  Thanks for stopping by!  By the way, one of Glenn’s commenters referenced “Berg’s Law” – here they are.

My first book, Trulbert, hits Amazon on Monday; it’ll be available for Kindle and compatible e-book readers.


The book asks the rhetorical question “What if the world shrugged before Atlas did?”

What if every Libertarian purist, every anarchist, everyone who ever walked out of an IRS audit, got their fondest wish, and – poof – government disappeared overnight?  What would happen?

Would the world spontaneously sort itself into a functioning order, and society – now the assortment of individual, autonomous bits of pure reason that some of the Founders dreamed of – prosper and be perfectly happy?  Would mankind spontaneously order the world into the Best Possible one?

Or would the baser impulses of human nature – laziness, demagoguery, evil, or unfamiliarity with the works of Ludwig Von Mises – rot the utopia from the outside in?

The book explores those questions through mankind’s greatest analytical tool – broad, tongue-in-cheek hamfisted satire.

The book takes place from the perspective of a group of neighbors in South Minneapolis:

  • Paul Hendrickson, a mild-mannered, anxiety-prone married father of three and project manager at a Minneapolis healthcare claims software company, and his family
  • Hana Codriciu, a Romanian immigrant and budding American success story, owner of “Dripping With Irony”, a coffee shop plagued with hipsters but percolating with promise
  • Dave Os, firebrand libertarian activist and unpublished anarcho-capitalist philosopher
  • Myron Ilktost, henpecked Methodist church deacon
  • Jessica Hardman, glamorous TV anchor and hard-nosed journalist in the tradition of Chelsea Clinton

Together, these people and a cast of thousands navigate a world where the old assumptions are as obsolete as an iPhone 3, and are changing faster than Google’s definition of “evil”; a world with simultaneously no authority and infinite power.

A world pretty much like ours, only upside down.

Trulbert:  A Comic Novella about the End of the World As We  Know It is available for pre-order today and tomorrow, and will be released on Amazon on Monday!


Posting is a little light this week.  On top of a much busier than normal scrum of regular life events, I’m scrambling to get the manuscript for my upcoming e-book, Trulbert:  A Comic Novella about the End of the World as We Know It” (available for pre-order on Amazon now!) ready by my Thursday night deadline (so far so good), as well as work on some changes to this site.

Things’ll get into more of a groove next week, I’m sure.

Almost Like The Real Thing!

My upcoming e-book, Trulbert:  A Comic Novella about the End of the World As We Know It, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  The release date is June 15.  Trulbert___A_Comic_Novella_About_the_End_of_the_World_As_We_Know_It_-_Kindle_edition_by_Mitch_Berg__Literature___Fiction_Kindle_eBooks___Amazon_com_


In related news, I’ll be doing the traditional “book tour” in coming weeks.  So far, I’m scheduled for:

  • The Ed Morrissey Show on Thursday at 4PM Central
  • I’ll be interviewed by Mitch Berg on the Northern Alliance next Saturday
  • I’ll be on with Brad Carlson this coming Sunday

And there’s more to come!

Trulbert: The Final Installment (V)

 – 7AM, November 10, 2015:  1725 Slough Avenue, Scranton, PA

“You see yourself as a sort of Hendrickson figure?” Schrute said with an air of contempt to his longtime nemesis and recent Bestische Mensch, Jim Halpert.

“Well, yeah”.

“That’s stupid”, Schrute harrumphed.  “I’d be Myron Ilktost”.

“Dwight, in so many ways, I think you’re right”.

Is that how Trulbert ends?  

That’s what she said!  

Check back June 15!

Let’s Try Some Free Association

If you were to learn about the United States entirely from media – news, movies, music, radio, television entertainment, newspapers – what are some of the erroneous things you would believe about this country and our society?

Leave them in the comments. No idea is too dumb – in fact, the farther out they are, the more I may like them.

Trulbert: The Final Installment (IV)

 – 7AM, November 10, 2015:  Holsten’s Restauraunt, Newark, NJ

“But what was it all about?” Carmela asked, as the sound of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” warbled on the jukebox in the background.

Tony and AJ focused on the menu.

“What was what all about?” Tony grunted as AJ compared the Sicilian and German style pork chops.

“The whole thing about the Methodists?”

“Jeez, mom.  They’re a generic yet absurdist enemy figure, selected to avoid bogging the story down in actual current events that would distract from the real theme”, AJ snapped, impatient with his mom.

“Yeah”, Tony grunted.  “What the f*** ya gonna do?”

“Yeah, but why?” Carmela insisted.

Tony started to answer, but noted the dinging of the bell on the door as Meadow walked into the diner, just as the voice of Steve Perry sang the final…

Is this, in fact, how “Trulbert” really ends?  

Check back this summer, when “Trulbert:  A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It” comes out on E-Book!

Featuring new material not found in the blog serial (including, like, an actual ending and a regulation denouement!)

From Buffalo Microchip Publishing