Classic Columns

  • The Possum Chronicles : Fred Admits Journalistic Dishonesty About Mexico
    have a confession to make to my readers. I have been lying about Mexico. Yes. I am a poor sinner and meant no harm, but the devil got into me, and I have done wrong. I have said that Mexico was a pleasant country of agreeable people, and harmless. I have said that children here …
  • Talking to Hant, Figuring Out Women. Sorta. Maybe
    The other day I went up the holler to see Uncle Hant. I figured he could teach me to understand women, because he knows everything. Hant lives in a double-wide with a ’54 Merc on blocks outside, and a fuel-oil tank painted silver, and a three-legged coon dog named Buckshot. A couple of years back, …
  • Hant, the Law, and Moonshine: Hant Defends West Virginia
    ‘Tother day late in the afternoon I went down the holler to get Uncle Hant to explain to me about law and order. Hant knows nearly ‘bout everything, more than anyone in West Virginia, even Bluefield. He makes the best shine for three counties, and sells it to yups from Washington. Hant can do pretty …
  • Sex Finally Explained. If It Can Be
    (This is an ancient column I just found, but represents a great service to humanity, so I republish it.) I’m trying to figure out sex, and why people get in an uproar about it, and run around waving their arms and hollering, and everybody’s mad at everybody else. It’s because men can’t tell sex from …
  • Against Democracy, It Being a Ghastly Mistake
    To begin, we have much too much democracy. We need to discourage people from voting. In fact, the gravest obstacle to the restoration of civilization in North America is universal suffrage. Letting everybody vote makes no sense. Obviously they are no good at it. The whole idea smacks of the fumble-witted idealism of a high-school …
  • How We Were: Rolling the Pluke Bucket
    You gotta understand about the Pluke Bucket and me in rural King George County, Virginia, in 1963. (Maybe you didn’t know you had to understand this. Well, you do. Life is full of surprises.) The county was then mostly woods, the high-school boys gangly farm kids who fished and hunted or pumped gas on long …
  • How We Were: The Canoe as Camel
    The time Frank Green and I paddled the canoe through the dry hills of King George Country in search of water would, I suppose, discourage naval historians. Fact is, we’d have had a better chance of finding water in the Sahara in mid-August of a drought year. I will say, however, that the adventure got …
  • Americans in Bangkok: Bar Girls and Why Not
    Bar girls are a mistake that countless guys make when they first leave the United States. Bar girls are a mistake in two ways. First, lots of gringos think that the girls are typical of the women of the country. Second, they get tangled up with a hooker and perhaps marry her. This is bad …
  • Diving Days: Deep Walls and the U352
    The Atlantic waters off Snead’s Ferry in North Carolina are shallow, maybe 125 feet to the continental shelf. Several wrecks lie on the bottom, mostly in advanced stages of disintegration, sunk by U-boats in the early years of the war. I know them well as for years I was a member of Capital Divers, out …
  • The Case for Drowning Captain Kirk, Scotty, and Spock
    I reckon I’ve figured out why everybody’s brain in the UnitedStates is getting soft, like grits with too much water in them. It’s because of Star Trek. You know, that space opera about how the world’s worst actors set out to go where no man has gone before and, with any luck, stay there. Scientists …
  • Realism and Criminal Justice
    The system of criminal justice doesn’t work too well. A cause of this dysfunction is the notion that criminals can “pay their debt to society,” and then be all better, as if crimes were purchases made on a credit card. Say that a marginal human wielding a bolo knife crawls through a window, burglarizes the …
  • Chicago Swat Operation
    Chicago–The SWAT team of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police was getting ready to make a forced entry at a house belonging to dope dealers. The room filled with guys in Ninja gear-ballistic vests, pistols in tactical holsters, riot guns, what have you. SWAT operations may look spontaneous, but they aren’t. They’re planned like a football …
  • Inside the Cook County Jail
    Cook County Jail, Chicago–They come up, one at a time, from the innards of this place, in handcuffs, sometimes in leg chains, wearing the tan pajamas that are the uniform here. The jail is huge, 9000 prisoners including 850 women, most of the population being black with some hispanics and a few whites. Most are …
  • A Chicago Cop Philosophizes
    Chicago–I spent the other night in the city, chatting with a cop, buddy of mine, who has seen as much of the criminal-justice system as any man I know. I don’t say he speaks for all policemen, but I think many would agree with him. Some of his comments may be of interest. “There isn’t …
  • Dead-End Kids, Chicago
    Sometimes the kids get to you. I was riding with the Cook County Sheriff’s anti-gang unit sometime back. We were driving through the hopeless fourth-generation welfare towns that surround Chicago – Markham, Robbins, Ford Heights, what have you. These drab little burgs are almost entirely black, heavily dependent on public assistance of one sort or …
  • Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, Cook County
    Chicago — When Bill Plahm of the Child Exploitation Unit of the Cook County Sheriff?s Police hands you a photo of a six-month old baby with an adult penis in its mouth, you can develop a dim view of kid porn and pedophilia. They are nasty. For Plahm, who spends his life posing as an …
  • Gangbangers in the Washington Suburbs: How things Really Work or, Usually, Don’t
    It was after ten on Friday night in Arlington and I was riding with Officer Matt O’Brien and absolutely nothing was happening. Nobody was in the streets. The weather was cold. The criminals, who lack strength of character, were hiding indoors. O’Brien told me that nothing would happen until just before his shift ended, so …
  • A Police Reporter Reflects on Long Years in a Dismal Trade
    Having written this column for many years now, I find myself wondering at times, “Whence?” and “Whither?” and “Wherefore?” and “To what end?” What have I gotten out of it, and what, if anything, have the readers gotten? Sure, I’m making a buck, which we all have to. But there’s more to it than that. …
  • Cops and the Media: Nothing Has Changed
    Let’s see. The Puerto Rican celebration in New York turned into turned into a rape fest, and the police were denounced for not stopping it. In Philadelphia, a black shot at cops, the cops thumped him, and the NAACP sued. The rules are fairly clear by now. If white cops do anything to misbehaving minorities, …
  • “Let Them Eat Each Other.” Letter from a Cop on Unannounced Strike: 2000 and Nothing Has Changed
    Some months ago I wrote that cops in a lot of jurisdictions have decided that the current climate of hostility toward the police has led officers to keep their heads down — i.e., not to do anything that could result in criticism by the racial lobbies. Because this column also appears on my web site …
  • The Screwiness of Real-World Policing: An Example
    real-life story of the DC cops. I’m going to keep it vague because a civil suit looks probable. I was in Northwest last week with friends to celebrate a new job one of them had. After dinner for grins we went for a beer at a local girly bar. A buddy of mine, call him …
  • Cops Back Off: From 2001, Still True
    had hoped to spend the summer running columns from my recent trip to Chicago, which gives a picture of big-city policing that Washington can’t. As it happens, however, the growing racial problem, in which cops are declining to risk arresting blacks for fear of being prosecuted, has upset the apple cart. My email on the …
  • Racial Disaster in the Making
    A country deserves what it tolerates, and will assuredly get more of it,” said my favorite political commentator (me). He has also asked, “And this is supposed to help blacks?” Across the country the rabble rampage—Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and mobs sacking stores. They are by no means all black. Whites participate in the vandalism, …
  • Attitudes Toward Cops, and Why
    The other day I was doing some target shooting at a private range with a cop I know, and we started talking about the very common dislike of cops found throughout society. Which got me to thinking. A few observations: There is a clear difference between the sexes in attitudes toward the police. White women, …
  • Profiling: A Realistic View
    In re race and the behavior of police: Reporters and writers of editorials seem to lunge instinctively for the superficial, preferably embodied in easily remembered buzz phrases. One such is “racial profiling.” The implication, and assumption, is that blacks are being targeted for reasons of racial hostility by the police. Generally this isn’t true. If …
  • The Unfortunately Inherent Nature of Intelligence
    Human races are subspecies of Homo sapiens (sic), just as basset hounds and Chihuahuas are subspecies of dog. The breeds of neither are precise genetic categories: In the words of the heroic John Derbyshire, genetically “what you see is a continuum with some pretty sharp clines.” Yet the genetic commonalities are sufficient to be obvious: …
  • The Evolutionary Biology of Political Parties
    Websites pour forth heated arguments between liberals and conservative about almost everything—or, as is becoming clear due to brain research, what seem to be arguments but in fact are genetically determined reflexes. Even before the latest results from PET scans and functional MRI, simple observation convinced the sentient that rationality was not involved in political …
  • The Weirdness of it All: Tales from the American Road
    Times were strange in 1969. Dan and I had just hitchhiked from Thunder Bay in Canada into the main vein of Berkeley. The early afternoon sun was hot and heat shimmered off parked cars in little squiggles. He had a backpack and I had a duffel bag, containing our lives. We had no idea where …
  • Getting Shod in Berkeley: The Wages of Sin is Shoes
    The remarkable rise of the Tloxiproctyl to academic prominence began at UC Berkeley, where the creeping fascism of George Bush gnawed at the professoriate. Worse, no one was paying attention to them, always distressing to the narcissistically irrelevant. They desperately wanted to jumpstart the faltering engines of progressivism. (The metaphor doesn’t quite make sense. Of …
  • Wunxputl Comes to Harvard: Understanding Academia
    The remarkable rise of the Tloxiproctyl to academic prominence began at UC Berkeley, where the creeping fascism of George Bush gnawed at the professoriate. Worse, no one was paying attention to them, always distressing to the narcissistically irrelevant. They desperately wanted to jumpstart the faltering engines of progressivism. (The metaphor doesn’t quite make sense. Of …
  • Chuckie Manson, Thor, and the Ark: Notes from a Lost Amrica
    This is a reprint of a column from long, long ago. I do it not from laziness, though I am fond of laziness, but because it may provide a window into a happier America that we will not see again. These days, we need any cheer we can get. In the year of the Great …
  • Jaws, Godzilla, and Rodan the Reptile Bat: Art You Could Lube a Diesel With
    Hooboy, am I tired of arty movie critics. You know, the ones who talk about Fellini and Rigatoni on National Public Radio, in low gaspy voices that sound like asthmatics on Quaaludes, so you’ll know they’re intellectuals and dreadfully earnest. Me, I’m going to study real movies, for Americans: movies with grit and diesel fumes …
  • The State of the Military, a Few Years Back but, Alas, on the Money
    -T{he current state of the American Army. Troops learn the hardships of pregnancy. The United States seems to be contemplating war with Russia, Iran, China, or all three. Washington pushes NATO ever closer to Russia, leaves the nuclear-missile treaty and tries to destroy both countries and China economically. Why the push for war? Simple. Asia …
  • Just Before Trump, Fred Gets World, Well, Mostly Right
    Oh good. The world reaches a crossroads, or probably a road off a cliff, just when I want to relax and watch gratuitous violence on the tube. To judge by the rapid drift of events aboard our planetary asylum, the talons of Washington and New York on the world’s throat are fast being pried a-loose. …
  • A Users’ Guide to the Supervision of Morning
    RSS Lake Chapala at sunrise. It never looks the same twice. Though it is late in the season and should be chill, we do not seem to be having winter this year. The golondrinas, swallows, seem confused and have not migrated as early as they usually do. This year they sat in their thousands, three …
  • A Codpiece for Hillary
    The other day I saw a photo of Hillary Clinton going into the Senate. I have a kind heart, so I won’t say that she looked like a teenager’s room, but I did conclude that she must have had a better maintenance contract when she was First Basilisk. You could tell that she needed new …
  • Censorship in America, 2023
    hen a government does not itself impose censorship people may think they have freedom of speech, or can be made to think they do, even though they don’t. In America, the government does not need to, uh, “redact.“ Private entities — credit card companies, social media, search engines and so on — do for government …
  • Washington in the Time of Nero: A Snapshot
    As you cross the Fourteenth Street Bridge from Arlington into Washington on a sunny spring day, the vista is magnificent, uplifting. Huge blue sky, brisk wind, the broad brown river flashing in the sunlight. As a portal to the capital of a world empire, it is suitable, even convincing. This new Tiber is at the …
  • Did the Jews Blow Up Krakatoa? A Tale of Death and Mayonnaise
    For many years I had been casually interested in the powerful explosion of Krakatoa in the Sunda  Strait in 1883. As a small boy I had vaguely heard of it, as I had of dinosaurs, and accepted it as it was always described, an enormous volcanic eruption. This appeared reasonable, especially if one accepted the …
  • A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price
    He grew up in the woods and rivers of the county, fishing and swimming and hunting under sprawling blue skies and driving his rattletrap car insanely and lying on the moss with his girl and watching the branches above groping the sky and marveling as the young do at the strangeness of life, and the …
  • Existence as Pool-Hall Trick Shot
    We will start this magisterial explanation of everything with the time-honored approach of the philosopher, beginning with the things we know beyond doubt and then reasoning from them to suitably astonishing truths. As we know, Descartes began by saying, “Cogito ergo sum,” I think therefore I am.” (Ambrose Bierce, a more profound thinker, said, “Cogito …
  • The Abject, Appalling, Unending Stupidity of International Behavior Explained in 1,100 Words
    We’re all crazy. This explains everything. I will elaborate in hopes of joining Plato, Burke, and Hunter Thompson as a lighthouses of the intellects The human mind cannot think of more than a very few things at once. We cannot for example think of a billion citizens of China as individuals, so we say “China,“ …
  • Nobody Wants Racial Integration. Why Not Admit It?
    The campaign to force the comingling of blacks and whites hasn’t worked, isn’t working, shows no sign that it will work, has become an industry, and enjoys the support of few. Usually the proselytizing for what seems unwanted togetherness is intense and swathed in righteousness. It is said to be intended to end mistreatment of …
  • Conversations with Lanc, of the Which There Won’t Be More
    c Ages ago, for reasons of parental misjudgement, I studied at a small college in rural Virginia, Hampden-Sydney. While surprisingly rigorous, being resolutely Southern and as yet untouched by the foolishness that now degrades schools, H-S was also relentlessly preppy. The studentry tended to be vapid future bankers in small towns and pre-meds who would …
  • Down Dixie Way
    Coming up as I did a Southern boy, usually barefoot, lots of times with a cane pole and a string of bream I caught in Machodoc Creek, and other signs of higher civilization, I believe I could get tired of Northerners huffing and puffing about how moral they are. Ain’t nothing like a damn Yankee …
  • King George Days, and Some Sociology
    Mostly wooded, on the Potomac River, Dahlgren Naval Proving Ground the biggest employer, with a fair number of kids who got up at four-thirty in the morning to help their fathers with commercial crabbing on the river. There was nothing special about the class of 1964, or about King George High, except for those of …
  • A Treatise on the Nonexistence of Art
    Art is mostly fraud perpetrated by narcissistic academic quacks on a public easily gulled. They should be prosecuted. This is as true of literature as of painting and sculpture. If modern sculpture were placed in a junkyard, art critics couldn’t find it. Most of what we are told are great works are great works only …
  • It Cometh from the Pit, and Hath a Knout: How Trump Won
    Once upon a time there was a fairy kingdom that lived inside a place called The Beltway, and was surrounded on all four sides by a land called America. The Beltway was aligned with another kingdom called Manhattan, inhabited by disembodied heads that spoke from the walls of bars, and with yet another closed kingdom …
  • Life in Moon’s Curious Church: The Worship of Ammunition
    The tall scrawny freak with the red hair converted in the spring of 1972, several months before Jerry wandered, roaring, onto the scene. I had recently graduated from both Vietnam and college and, not knowing what else to do, was living with a collection of hippies at Stafford Court House, Virginia. The other freaks were …
  • Economics Utterly Explained. University Departments Close in Despair.
    This column contains everything there is to know about economics. Hereafter it will be possible to shut down university deprtments and stop talking about Keynes and the Austrian School, to the great relief of mankind. In gratitude you can send me your childrens’college funds. In 1850 people all lived on farms and grew food, which …
  • The Future, If Any, of Work, If Any
    So the other day I was thinking, which I know better than to do, and started pondering the American economy, which ain´t got the chance of a frog in a French restaurant. Nobody else´s does either. It´s just that we got there first. Start with work. Just about nobody likes it. I hear folk like …
  • In Saigon’s Alleys, a Place I Loved
    Dawn comes to the alleys around Tan Son Nhut Field with a faint grey light seeping past the graveyard and up the dusty road toward the banana market. Pots begin to clatter and red charcoal dims in brightening court-yards. A hungry dog sniffs in the ditch. A cyclo, a motor-driven coal scuttle equally useful as …
  • Up the holler with Uncle Hant: Space Aliens
    T’other day I walked up the holler to ask Uncle Hant about space aliens. It’s because Hant knows everything ? most nearly. It was spring and birds were hooting and hollering in the rail cut through the woods to Hant’s place and bugs were shrieking. The he-bugs, anyway. They rub their legs together like fiddle …
  • Elvis His Own Self
    You gotta understand the grip Elvis has on the automobile-loving basically Iro-Celtic libido of the southern United States. Maybe you think Presley was just the first white rock-n-roll singer. Naw. He’s a state of mind. Anybody who has spent time in the smoky evening fields of the Mississippi Delta, where people talk slow like sorghum …
  • Allahu Akbar! In Mrs. Clinton’s Presidency
    In May of 2018, the second year of Mrs. Clinton’s administration, national puzzlement was high over the continuing wave of mass killings. A week before, nineteen children had died in the Blaintree Kindergarten massacre in San Francisco when Mohammed Shah Massoud, Faisal ibn Saud, and Hussein al Rashid burst into the school and began firing. …
  • Why the American Government Should Be Stuffed into an Abandoned Oil Well, and Corked
    I wonder whether Americans realize just how closely the United States is coming to resemble a country of the Third World, not just in its corruption and attributes of a police state, but in the incompetence of governmental bureaucracies. Federal agencies don’t work. They are rotted by affirmative action. The bureaucrats are inattentive, unaccountable, anonymous, …
  • From Up the Holler: The American-African Riots
    I’m gonna do it anyway. Being as I’m just a West Virginia boy, and mostly barefoot, and don’t have much sense, a lot of folk say, maybe I shouldn’t be explaining the world. But the world don’t make even as much sense as I do, so guess I’ll stick my fork in. Sometimes I go …
  • The Case Against Self-Concept
    What I figure is, we’ll catch all the varmints that talk about self-esteem ? those pale radishy psychotherapists and feeble-minded educators and enormous talk-show ladies who look like slabs of fatback, only a scientist spilled radiation on it and it sprouted legs. Then we’ll get one of those medieval catapults, the kind that can chuck …
  • Life Among the Chinese: Exotic Not at All
    Ages ago, for reasons I no longer remember, I was wandering across Asia and decided to spend some time in Taiwan. The Chinese interested me, and Taiwan was then as close as it was practical to get. Then, as now, the Chinese were thought by many to be exotic, inscrutable, devious and unlike normal people …
  • Schwei-Gwo Syau-Jye: Another View of China
    t was 1975, just after the fall of Saigon, and I was in Taipei, studying Chinese and waiting for the next war, which didn’t come. I abode downtown in the winding labyrinth of backstreets inhabited mostly by workers since I was pretty broke. My roommates were a Chinese teenager, Dingwo, who wanted to be a …
  • A Bicephalous Monoparty and Sufficient Totalitarianism
    The genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. Truly total government–“Your papers, citizen,” stop-and-frisk, permission needed to travel from city to city–might spark revolt. By contrast, a sufficiency of totalitarianism, but not an excess, keeps the …
  • Geogenetic Analysis of Maya Origins: Parsing Errors in RNA Polymorphide Methylation Editing Found
    Controversy has raged for decades in academia as to whether the Maya of ancient Mesoamerica independently invented writing and a sophisticated number system, with many arguing that European influence must have been involved. The recent discovery of carvings, such as the one above, in the hitherto unexplored recesses of the Chac Mool Cenote (a water-filled cave) in …
  • Sadomasochism: More Interesting than, Probably, Stamp Collecting
    Mountings. Large ones. Fog, too. We caught the seven-o’clock goat-and-chicken out of Kat, my daughter Macon and I, two porters, and our trusty guide Karna. A Nepalese rural bus is not the Stork Club. It is much better, depending on your nerves. For eight hours we bounced higher into the Himalayas with the tires a …
  • Kathmandu! Dogwomandon’t. In the Himalayas with Offshoot
    Mountings. Large ones. Fog, too. We caught the seven-o’clock goat-and-chicken out of Kat, my daughter Macon and I, two porters, and our trusty guide Karna. A Nepalese rural bus is not the Stork Club. It is much better, depending on your nerves. For eight hours we bounced higher into the Himalayas with the tires a …
  • How I Was a Big-Time Drag Racer
    In high school I was a nationally ranked drag racer, almost, and nearly went to Bakersfield in California, to race against Don Garlits and Swamp Rat II. Garlits was then the king of high-revvin’ screaming, blown, nitro-fueled, bored-and-stroked, ported, polished, and wildly over-cammed rocket sleds running on exotic chemicals, big rubber, and the bare fringes …
  • Eternity and Pickle Tops
    On that far-off night in August of 1962, the moon floated huge and yellow over dark Virginia forests that stretched away and away to the glittering broad Potomac River. Chip Thompson and I trudged along the shoulder of US Route 301 from the Circle toward Dahlgren. We were sixteen. The county—King George County in the …
  • Among the Potted Plants: A Soldier of Fortune Convention (WashPo Magazine)
    The firing range lay in spectacular desert hills rising to a huge sky over Las Vegas, a blue immensity bounded by worn red stumps of rock like shattered molars. Startling pink strata cut through darker layers the color of clotted blood. Scrub vegetation struggled on the dry earth, forming such a wasteland that it was …
  • The Possum Chronicles: Fred Admits Journalistic Dishonesty about Mexico
    I have a confession to make to my readers. I have been lying about Mexico. Yes. I am a poor sinner and meant no harm, but the devil got into me, and I have done wrong. I have said that Mexico was a pleasant country of agreeable people, and harmless. I have said that children …
  • Aboard the M1 Abrams, Maserati of Tanks
    To an observer on one of Fort Hood’s flattened prominences, the Abrams M1 tank would seem a dark mote below a high plume of dust, a glint of periscopes, a small furor lost in the vastness and pastels of central Texas. Not even the grandest of tanks can intimidate a landscape. By day and night …
  • A Veteran Writes: A Six Pack, Bad Memories, and a Typewriter
    I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran’s psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog-patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies’ fashions, and the wonderful desserts that can be …
  • The Hitchhiking Years: How We Were
    The big roads were safe then, or we thought they were. Many of us, the more adventurous, poured onto the highways, just going, moving, looking. We were devotees of the long-haul thumb, crossing and recrossing the continent, dropping into Mexico, whatever. A camaraderie held. There were rules. On an onramp it was first come first …
  • The Great Fizzled Playboy Undersea Orgasmic Male Fantasy Didn’t Happen Photo Shoot: We Coulda Been Contenders but Heartbreak Got There First
    It was three a.m. in late December and I and Stu Miller, a federal lobbyist and former motorcycle racer, were zooming around the DC beltway in his male-menopause red Miata and discussing what to do for the Millenium. The possibilities were dismal. “God, some black-tie thing on the Hill? I’d rather slit my wrists,” Stu …
  • The Color of Education, Harper”s 1985
    Should anyone in authority say anything sensible about racial policy, an event unlikely to occur before the next Ice Age, he would have to say that when it is not merely futile it often injures the people it is supposed to help; that it succeeds in antagonizing whites without benefiting blacks; that it has become …
  • Computational Aspects of the Murder Hornet
    I have long been a partisan of insects in general, and hornets in particular, as exemplars of the most varied, imaginative and sometimes, in a correct use of an overused word, weird design and engineering in the live world. There is more of the unlikely, preposterous, and inexplicable in our six-footed cocitizens than in all …
  • Irreplexible Conducity: Evolution and its Agues
    In the ever-entertaining dispute over Darwinian evolution, “irreducible complexity”–IC–has provided a serviceable bone on which intellectual rodents, such as myself, can gnaw. Briefly, for those who have had better sense than to entangle themselves in such brambles, irreducible complexity is the observation–if it is an observation–that many things in biology consist of many parts such …
  • Funding the Rabid Bat: Pentagon Budgeting Explained
    In early 2035, the thirty-fourth year of the war against Al Qaeda, the Pentagon issued a White Paper saying that the F22 Raptor, the front-line fighter plane of the United States, was nearing the end of its useful life and needed to be replaced. Not everyone agreed. Various budget-cutting organizations argued that the Raptor had …
  • When I Was Tom Sawyer
    Back before the beginning of time, in the late Fifties when the sun lowered over small-town Alabama like a steaming towel, and it was so humid a tadpole could just about fly, we kids of eleven didn’t have many store-bought toys. We didn’t need’em, neither. On slow barefoot afternoons with nothing to do, we did …
  • Of Sunsets and Mosquito Hawks
    Of a late afternoon long ago I sat in the clearing above the swamp, headwaters of Machodoc Creek, where my parents lived in Virginia’s Tidewater. I was reading. The air was thick with summer almost silent, except for the occasional bird and bug going about their affairs and the distant cough and roar of big …
  • Why the Criminal Justice System Barely Works
    The other day a friend and I were partaking of the mortal remains of quite a number of defenseless grapes, and the subject of law enforce arose. Having spent a number of years as a police reporter, I began thinking of curious and often erroneous ideas that people have of what we regard as a …
  • ´what the Hell Am I Doing Here? cave Diving in Mesico
    Cave divers are the world’s most witless people. This is not mere Freddian assertion but a neurological fact. They have fewer brain cells than normal people. MIT did a massive study, and concluded that a cave diver has the reasoning capacity of a lemur. A smaller study by CalTech equated them intellectually with woodchucks, though …
  • America: An Expert Diagnosis from Years Back, That Came True
    I didn’t believe Bob, I’ll call him, a crazy friend from other times. He knocked around the Pacific for years doing things related to boats, helicopters, and fish, and currently waits in durance vile on the Left Coast awaiting his chance for a jailbreak back to the Orient. What happened was, he came back to …
  • Mossad and the Existence of Mars
    If you write long enough for publication, sooner or later you will make a fool of yourself, and then your choice is to admit it or prevaricate. For years I have regarded what I called “conspiracy theorists” as mildly delusional, as inhabitants of a remote societal fringe. I had never really examined their claims, dismissing …
  • Out and About in Mexico: Braco the Bar Dog
    You need to know about Braco the Bar Dog. You may not think you need to know about him. Ha! This column shares the spirit of federal authoritarianism burgeoning up north. We will tell you what you need to know. (You may address me as “Mommy, sir.”) Anyway, Braco. On the north shore of Lake …
  • The Teaching of Literacy and the Urge to Vomit
    One wearies, or I weary anyway, of the endless news stories reporting that children can barely read or not at all, can’t add, and don’t know anything. Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math” Nationwide, only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading…. This …
  • Don’t Work and Live for Free: The Joys of Poverty in America
    Before I learned about poverty, I was just a country boy from up the holler in West Virginia, with twelve toes, and I guess I didn’t know much. Especially about poverty. When I got to Washington, DC, I decided that I ought to be poor. I just wish I’da started earlier. It’s a good deal. …
  • Women in the Military: Why Not
    Sigh. I have just read that a young woman named Sage Santangelo has failed the infantry-training course for Marine officers at Quantico, bringing the rate of female failure to 29 out of 29. As an old hand with thirty years covering the military, I can attest that this vu is getting more deja all the …
  • The Virtues of Discourtesy: New York
    Merit of Discourtesy New York As The Court Of Louis XIV FRED REED • OCTOBER 15, 2001  • 1,100 WORDS • LEAVE A COMMENT Tweet It’s going to happen, I tell you. Once too often I’ll go into one of those suck-up restaurants that spread now like dry rot in old tires. It will have the nauseating cutesy-sweetsy menu. You …
  • A Codpiece for Hillary
    The other day I saw a photo of Hillary Clinton going into the Senate. I have a kind heart, so I won’t say that she looked like a teenager’s room, but I did conclude that she must have had a better maintenance contract when she was First Basilisk. You could tell that she needed new …
  • A Codpiece for Clinton: The Uses of Detachable Virility
    Tell you how we’re going end the war in Kosovo. We’re going to buy Bill Clinton a codpiece. I figure the whole thing is a manhood ritual. Have you seen those nature movies about swamp birds? You know: the male bird sticks his neck in the air like he thought it was a periscope and …
  • California Dreaming: The Great Kustom Grassblaster Craze
    The Great Custom Lawnmower craze of 1972 caught California unawares. The state is not easily astonished. Still, Mikey Deeter managed it. Mikey lived in Riverside, one of those pseudo-Spanish Levittowns that dangle like beads from the freeways. He was seventeen. He had long blonde hair, a great tan, and the vacant expression one associates with …
  • How We Were: The Night Harry Burrell Didn’t Kill Me and Rosie
    You need to know about how in 1962 I was a half-wild country kid of 16 in the wilds of King George Country, Virginia, and drove a derelict ’53 Chevy that shouldn’t even have started but in fact went places that would terrify an armored corps. (You may think you don’t need to know this. …
  • The Redskins as They Actually Were: The Detwaddling of Fantasy
    As part of wokedom’s fantasy-ridden fascination with indigenes, sports teams, such as the Redskins and Braves, race to change names. (For Washington’s team, the Federal Folders has been suggested.) Outraged conservatives see the changes as nauseating prissiness by historically illiterate ninnies. It is every bit of this. Still, the teams should be renamed. What civilized …
  • Gilbert, Edmund Scientific, and the Post-War Flowering of American Techno-Industrial Virtuosity A Pre-Enstupidation View
    It was 1953 in the white newly prosperous suburbs of Arlington, Virginia, just outside the Yankee Capital. I was eight, having been born, like so many of my small compatriots, nine months and fifteen minutes after our fathers got home from the war. These men, my father anyway, had spent years in the Pacific, being …
  • Talking to Hant. What Tom Jefferson Needed to Know
    The other day I went up the holler to talk to Uncle Hant about Democracy. Hant knows everything. Well, nearly about everything. He lives just past the creek in a double-wide with a satellite dish and his old dog Birdshot. You could call him a mountain man. He’s tall and lank, like they made him …
  • Hant Explaines Foreign Policy, No Worse than State Department
    ‘Tother day in the afternoon I went down the holler to ask Uncle Hant about this here Eye-rack. One of them blonde gals on TV that looks like they’ve been hit on the head or maybe drank Drano and didn’t have her mind working right, if she had one, was talking about it. I didn’t …
  • Tolerating Europeans, Who Probably Evolved from Jock Itch
    I’m baffled all to flinders. It happens a lot in West Virginia. (Though actually I’m not sure what a flinder is.) Recessive genes cause it. They flock here, like they were swallows and thought Bluefield was Capistrano, and make it hard for us to understand foolishness. Or Europeans. On the lobotomy box the other night …
  • A Rural Male Reflects on Feminist Incivility, While Calculating Windage
    Maybe I’m just a country boy at heart, and lack sophistication, and don’t see things the way I should. But when I watch one of those radical-feminist women heave onto a podium, like the forehaunches of an under-nourished giraffe but with more hair on her lip, and start hollering and carrying on about what slugs …
  • Laotian Memories i Wish I Didn’t Have
    As I write, it is Veterans Day. Coincidentally last night, November tenth, the annual Marine Corps birthday party took place at the Tratoria, a local Italian restaurant. I hadn´t gone before, not being much of a joiner, but went this time with Vi and Natalia. The assembled were nice people, well along in years, as …
  • I Peaked Early: A Rural Memoir
    RSS I peaked early. It happened in tenth-grade English in King George High, in rural King George County, Virginia, in 1962. The teacher had asked us to write the beginning of a short story, which she would read aloud to the class for criticism. I wrote about an Indian fur-trapper named Three Feathers in Quebec …
  • The Jefferson Street Wars: Dukesy, Mincemeat, and Me
    Today we will speak of war. I will tell you of my days as a tunnel rat. It was, I think, 1954, not a decade removed from V-E Day. We lived in Arlington, Virginia, where my father was a mathematician designing warships for the Navy Department. It was a time of intense tranquility. After the …
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