Advocacy in Favour of Our Client, Belial.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes that it were possible in the current political climate, and frankly the general societal climate overall, to have a serious discussion. He means this just as broadly as he plainly stated it. No one, at least in the West, is capable of having a serious discussion. Certainly those with opposite political views can discourse seriously on whatever topic you like. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it can happen. When it does it is noteworthy. But getting those with opposite views together to seriously and sanely discuss an issue hasn’t happened in a while. Additionally, particularly in the West, we are not fond of analysis after a crisis event to figure out how we can do things better. And thus we start to segue into the point of this virtual epistle.

It would be, at least in your Maximum Leader’s opinion, worth having a serious discussion about how we in the United States should deal with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, it actually seems too late to have this discussion now, in the thick of it. We really should have had a national discussion (or at least a Blue Ribbon Commission that studied and made recommendations) based on the H1N1, or SARS epidemics. It would have been nice to look over what was done, how it was done, what didn’t work, what did, and lay down a framework for future epidemics. But that didn’t happen and honestly is not going to happen after Covid-19 subsides.

In this discourse, your Maximum Leader wishes to just put a few points to ponder out there for you, loyal minion and dear reader, to consider. Thus far our national response to Covid-19 seems to be a patchwork of recommendations about self-isolation, followed by general closures of public institutions (schools, universities, and the like), and then the imposition of mandatory partial quarantines (such as in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Washington). There is a general clamor for a broader national shutdown of all but essential services. The rationale for these actions is to slow the spread of the virus so as to not overwhelm the health care system. These actions are all about slowing the spread of the virus. If one is listening carefully, the number of people that will catch the virus isn’t changing just the period of time over which the infected will become infected. By limiting the spread, one allows the health care system to prepare for what is coming, better manage the crisis when it is fully upon us, and save as many lives as possible. The societal cost of this the national economy comes to a stand-still.

Some brave souls, and with this post your Maximum Leader supposes he is one of them, have asked us to consider alternatives. He doesn’t believe many are advocating doing nothing, though some are. The general thrust of many of the alternatives is think about the economy. That is the where your Maximum Leader is going to go. If we shut down the economy, as we are doing, the repercussions are great and worthy of consideration. Many small businesses will close permanently. It seems as though people are happy to believe that the Federal government sending checks to taxpayers and providing loans at low (or zero) interest will magically allow a small business to weather all this and reopen as though we had all taken a long vacation from everything. This is magical thinking. The trillions of dollars circulating through the US economy are not going to be replicated by gifts or loans from the Federal government. Restaurants, small shops, many of the self-employed, are not going to be able to reopen. If these businesses do not reopen, then their employees as well as the business owners will suffer. No one knows how the economy will restart or how much will restart. There is much talk of a bailout of the airline industry. But these bailouts will come with strings. Don’t buy-back stock. No executive bonuses. Companies must retain their work force. Your Maximum Leader asks, how exactly does this work out? If the government bails out Boeing, is the bailout coming with the certification that the 737-MAX is also safe to fly and start producing? Is United going to have to maintain, and fly jets on routes that are mostly empty due to a recession or depression? How does this work out? Heavy-handed government intervention in these areas often has unintended and disastrous consequences. The shocks will come at some point. If the bailouts come with conditions, as seems likely, the shock will be delayed. But they will come.

So why are we proceeding with an economic shutdown? To prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed and thus saving more lives. If the virus spreads unchecked, or even weakly checked, the health care system will be unable to keep up with the care of those infected with the virus as well as those who would have needed services without the virus. We are talking about potentially millions of people dying due to the virus or due to being unable to received needed care. On the other hand, by stopping the economy we are creating a crisis of unemployment, contraction, and medium/long-term dependency on public funds. We all should probably ask if it is worth it. If in fact those most at risk for death from Covid-19 are the elderly and those with immunodeficiencies, are these people fully-participating members of the economy? Where are our people who clamor for wealth redistribution here? We know that retirees have a fair amount of saved wealth which is supplemented by programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. If a substantial portion of this population were to die due to the Covid-19 epidemic, wouldn’t that wealth be freed up? Wouldn’t the pressure on the Federal budget be lessened because the number of transfer payments would be greatly reduced? Isn’t that an overall positive societal benefit?

What about other potential upsides for the economy? Your Maximum Leader will not argue that history repeats itself. He will, however, argue that history has leitmotifs. A leitmotif we might look to is Europe after the Black Death. The plague had pretty much run its course by the early 1400s. The (greatly reduced) population of Europe experienced a tremendous period of economic and cultural growth. A period that later became known as the Renaissance. You may have heard of the Renaissance. It wasn’t just a lot of painting going on. The manorial system of the middle ages had been literally destroyed by the plague and peasants (due to their scarcity) realized that they didn’t have to be tethered to the land of a single lord. It was the beginning of what we might call social mobility. The Renaissance saw the growth of cities, trades, art, music, and that crazy group known as the middle class. Your Maximum Leader will not argue that this would definitely happen in a post-Covid-19 world. But perhaps it is worth considering. Economic historians might also look to the periods of economic growth after the epidemics (plague, smallpox, and others) that occurred in the early 1600s and 1700s. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that there is a serious analogue to the Roaring 20s and the end of the Spanish Flu of 1919, but there might be some small connection there as well.

What your Maximum Leader is stating here is that we all ought to consider the trade-offs between shutting down our economy and saving (potentially millions) of lives, and not shutting down our economy and potentially saving ourselves from economic catastrophe.

That is all.

Carry on.

(Don’t forget the tweety-box @maximumleader.)

Sunday Potpourri

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, despite the flu fears, ventured from the Villainschloss today. He traveled to Charlottesville, VA and visited Monticello. As you all are no doubt aware, Monticello is the ingenious home of Thomas Jefferson. If he had not called in some favors and gotten a special tour of the house (along with a trip to the upper floors and the Dome Room) he might have opted to stay at home and not sojourn amongst his fellow citizens and expose himself (and his family) to the flu. For what it is worth, he didn’t touch much of anything. He washed his hands as often as it was feasible. And once the visit to Monticello was done, he proceeded directly back to the Villainschloss.

Your Maximum Leader really likes Monticello. You wouldn’t have guessed it because he hasn’t visited there in 22 years. But he really does love Monticello. He doesn’t love it as much as he LOVES Mount Vernon. (NB: Since his last visit to Monticello he has probably visited Mount Vernon seven times.) But then again, your Maximum Leader is a great Washington partisan so that may play a role in his tastes. Regardless of preferences, Monticello is completely deserving of its World Heritage Site designation. In so many ways it shows the character and contradictions of Jefferson himself. While your Maximum Leader isn’t a fan of psycho-history (or psychological analysis of historical figures as it were) he does think you can pick up many elements of Jefferson in his home. The dining room for example is comfortable and lavish, but the dumb-waiter and rotating door for serving food allowed Jefferson to keep his slaves out of sight to his guests. (All but one at any rate.) One the other hand, the main entry hallway is a veritable natural history museum of early America and speaks to his inquisitive mind and superior intelligence. Jefferson is a complicated character. Sort of like the country he is instrumental in founding. If you are in the area and have never visited Monticello, it is worth a visit. Frankly, if you are just passing through Virginia (say on I-95 heading north or south) it is worth a diversion to see.

Interesting… In getting the links to both Monticello and Mount Vernon he sees that both places are now closed to the end of the month. There are too many closures to note. It would probably be easier to note what places are still open and what events are still going on? Like the XFL. The XFL played games today. In front of live people. Your Maximum Leader was a bit surprised to see it actually. He wonders if their ratings were good? They are the only live sport on (it seems). One would think they would get a lot of eyes on TV from a population that is anxiously looking for some distraction.

Speaking of distractions… Here is a mental exercise for you. Your Maximum Leader thought of this one in the car driving back from Charlottesville. Ready? Here you go: Assume the former/late Presidents of the United States were alive and in their retirement after leaving office, but living in 2020. What vehicle do you think they would drive?

That is it. That is the game. If all the men who have served as chief executive of our great republic were alive today, what would they regularly drive?

Your Maximum Leader will go first. George Washington would drive a 2018 Ford F-250 SuperCab with a Powerstroke Turbo Diesel. Washington, after his presidency went back to Mount Vernon and managed his farms. He regularly rode 15-20 miles a day checking in and being personally involved in keeping things running. He would need a big vehicle suited to farm work to get around in. Your Maximum Leader thinks that he would put lots of hours on his truck and would keep it for a long time, which is why this truck isn’t brand-new, but a few years old. Your Maximum Leader thinks he would get a new one when he needed, and that was a few years ago.

John Adams, in retirement, would drive an early 2000’s model Subaru Outback LL Bean edition. It would be very high mileage, but still well kept and maintained. Adams would need the all-wheel drive and heated seats up in Quincy. Plus your Maximum Leader imagines that Adams would be a big-time client of LL Bean. (When Adams died, he would leave the car to John Quincy Adams, who would be happy to keep driving it as it would lessen the load on his own Outback LL Bean edition.)

[UPDATED: Loyal reader, Buckethead of the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, comments that Adams would probably drive a Volvo. Your Maximum Leader endorses this idea. More in comments.]

Thomas Jefferson would drive a 2020 BMW 750i x-drive sedan. It is a big car (he had a large extended family living with him so he would need the space) but the car also sends off that vibe of “I pretend not to be a real jerk, but secretly am a huge jerk.” He would claim that he wanted a car that would befit his station, but still be “practical” for his needs. Of course, this car would be leased and he would get a new one as soon as he hit 25,000 miles.

Andrew Jackson was a toughie. Really tough in fact. On the one hand, he was, like Washington, very engaged in his farm. So it stands to reason that he would need a vehicle that he could drive around The Hermitage. But on the other hand, Jackson was a small angry man who needs a car befitting that part of his personality. If your Maximum Leader was to choose a “farm vehicle” for Jackson it would be a 2014 Chevy Suburban. He has the space and power he needs to move people and stuff around around on the farm. But unlike Washington, who your Maximum Leader can imagine putting stuff in his truck and moving it where it needed to be; he can’t imagine Jackson actually moving stuff around in his own vehicle. He *could* move stuff in the Suburban. But he is more likely just to tell others to get the job done and drive away and circle back later. If your Maximum Leader was choosing the “non-farm” vehicle for Jackson it would be a 1968 Chevy Camaro SS. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why, but he can imagine Jackson in a blue ‘68 Camaro wearing a leather jacket, mirrored shades, and cruising the streets of Nashville looking to beat the crap out of someone.

Those are the only ones your Maximum Leader could think of in the time he had in the car to think of these things to himself. He wants to think about what vehicle Abraham Lincoln would drive in more detail (he thinks it is probably a Ford F-150). He also is ruminating over what James Madison would drive. (In fact, your Maximum Leader doesn’t think Madison would drive in his retirement. He imagines that Dolley Madison would have a 4-door Jeep Wrangler and would drive little Jimmy where he wanted to go.)

Anyway… If you, dear reader, have any you can suggest, your Maximum Leader would be glad to hear from you.

By the way… This is the type of content your Maximum Leader should be posting more frequently… The really random crap…

Carry on.

Don’t forget your Maximum Leader on the tweety-box: @maximumleader.

Flu Fear

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will remind readers of his (generally) annual trip to the pork capital of Virginia to buy his Easter ham. Last weekend was the glorious Hamquest. (Your Maximum Leader thinks he should hashtag and trademark “Hamquest” lest some lesser mortal try to muscle in on the term.)

Last Saturday your Maximum Leader roused Mrs. Villain, Villainette #2, and the foreign exchange student he is hosting - who we will call FE - from their slumbers to get into the car and head to Smithfield, VA. Smithfield is the home of Smithfield Foods one of the largest pork processors in the world. It also has a 350+ year tradition of producing country hams. Your Maximum Leader took his intrepid band down to Jamestown, VA and caught the ferry to Scotland, VA. From there he proceeded to Surry, then on to Smithfield. He initially bypassed the town to head directly to his ham provider of choice, Darden’s Country Store.

On arriving at Darden’s your Maximum Leader’s party got a treat. You see, last weekend was the weekend that they pack the new hams in the smokehouse. To describe this process for your benefit, before last Saturday, the extended Darden clan had taken the remaining hams from last year (about 30 or so) and placed them in a temporary storage unit they had next to the smokehouse. In another temporary storage unit (which was actually an old shipping container) they had started the process of curing this year’s hams. They had covered the floor of the container with salt then started stacking the fresh hams in the salt. When one layer was down, they cover the layer in salt. Then they add another layer. Then salt the new layer. And so on until they had over 1300 hams packed in salt. They remained in the salt for 2-3 weeks. On the day we arrived, they were taking the hams out of the salt, wiping them off lightly with a dry towel, and then covering them in pepper. Once the salted hams had been peppered, they were hung in the rafters of the smokehouse. They will hang to dry for another week. Then they will be smoked. The smoldering fire will be built and tended for 7-10 days. Day and night the smoke will cover the hams. At the end of 7-10 days the hams are fully cured and then they just age. Your Maximum Leader, as he noted, got one of last year’s hams. So his has aged for over a year. Aging adds more saltiness to the ham and requires more water before cooking. Once a ham is cured it can last years. In fact, the longest your Maximum Leader has kept a cured country ham is 6 years. He didn’t mean to keep the ham that long. He bought one, hung it in the basement. Forgot about the ham. Bought another and prepared it. And the ham sat in a back corner of the basement (of his parents house actually) for 6 years until his mother moved a shelf and saw it. She was going to throw it away, but your Maximum Leader forbade it and prepared the ham shortly after its rediscovery. It was delicious by the way.

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader selected a lovely 22 pound ham and paid for it.

While your Maximum Leader was waiting for the ham to be wrapped, he introduced FE to Mr. Darden and explained how FE was an exchange student from China and how we were showing him bits of America you don’t see by visiting New York or DC. Mr. Darden and FE spoke a bit about the Chinese love of pork and how much pork Smithfield Foods exported to China. (In fact, Smithfield Foods it largely owned by the Chinese national investment trust or some such thing. Perhaps that is a post for another day.) So we had a lovely time with the Dardens. We got the ham and went into town to our favorite restaurant, Smithfield Station for lunch.

For lunch your Maximum Leader had the “Smithfield chowder” and the “Station burger.” The chowder was a thin clear broth with potatoes, onion, celery, country bacon (think country ham, but bacon) and chopped clams. It was quite tasty. The burger was a 1/4 pound aged angus burger, with a healthy slice of country ham, 2 slices of country bacon, cheddar cheese, a generous helping of lump crab meat, with chopped purple onion, lettuce, and tomato on a grilled Hawaiian bun. It was really something else. Mrs. Villain had the creamy crab soup, and fish tacos. Villainette #2 had crab soup and and a grilled chicken dish (with country ham as a compliment to the chicken). FE had the crab soup as well and the pork BBQ sandwich.

We had a lovely lunch, and then went to walk through town…

Now, your Maximum Leader has visited Smithfield many many times (pretty much annually) and has always had a wonderful time and found a way to chat with the lovely people of the town. He was proceeding to do so during this visit. He would introduce himself and explain that we were visiting for ham and to show FE parts of America and American life. After our second stop Mrs. Villain took your Maximum Leader aside and said that he shouldn’t mention that FE was from China. You see, she had observed that after mentioning that FE was an exchange student from China a few people we encountered stepped back and were considerably more restrained than they were before that bit of information was exchanged.

So your Maximum Leader said that he would refrain from sharing that bit of information. But, it came up again at some of our other stops. Only this time FE himself mentioned that he was from China. Your Maximum Leader observed that people did seem to change their body language very subtly after that information was exchanged. Furthermore, if your Maximum Leader offered up that FE had been studying in the US for four years in an attempt to reassure people that he wasn’t a walking viral infection fresh from Wuhan, people didn’t change their posture towards him.

All in all it made me a little sad. FE did go to visit his family in China over Christmas break. But he returned before anyone had heard of the Covid-19 virus. He is, as is the whole family here, clear and feeling fine. But you show some people anyone from China (a large country with a population of over a billion people) and they get all squirmy and fearful that they are going to die from the flu. It was a bit disappointing to see in fact. It made your Maximum Leader more than a little sad in fact.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader isn’t going to let this stop him from continuing to take FE out to see this great nation and learn more about America and Americans.

Carry on.

Ashes

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader should try to blog more for Lent… In year’s past he’s tried to “do something more” rather than “give something up” for Lent. He had a priest tell him once that perhaps he (your Maximum Leader) should try to use the 40 days to create a new good habit rather than to try to break a bad one. His rationale was that when one give up something for Lent it makes one pine for it when Lent is over. It would be better to try to improve yourself in some way (while still being true to the spirit of Lent in showing abstinence, moderation, prayerfulness, and the like).

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader will ask a general question here. On Ash Wednesday the Gospel reading is Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-18. For those who do not want to click, here are the passages:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

So, here is the thing your Maximum Leader has contemplated for the past few years, but only seems to contemplate on Ash Wednesday and then forgets about until the next Ash Wednesday. How does one reconcile walking around all day (or some portion of the day) with ashes on your head when the Gospel reading one heard just before receiving the ashes admonishes the faithful to not make a great show of their faith lest they be a hypocrite?

Yes. That is what your Maximum Leader has been thinking about today. In years past your Maximum Leader has washed the ashes off his forehead shortly after Mass. He didn’t want to appear “overly pious.” If you Maximum Leader was forced to describe what type of Catholic he is he would say “observant.” He (generally) does what he ought to do. He falls short in so many areas. But he tries. Perhaps more than the average person in the United States that describes themselves as Catholic. Anyhow, today the ashes stayed on almost all day. This was mostly a factor of not having time to wash properly. He did think, more than once, that he was being “showy” by keeping the ashes on his forehead.

Anyway… If you are observant, your Maximum Leader wishes that your Lenten observations are spiritually beneficial to you and serve to deepen your faith.

One final note… Your Maximum Leader is of British stock. Mostly Scottish. Much English. Some Welsh. Little Irish. (And, he’s told, a smidgen of Norwegian and German). He knows that his Catholic faith is something that “came into” his family only recently. More of his ancestors, certainly those that immigrated and were born in America, were Presbyterian. Presbyterian which befits his predominantly Scottish heritage. Recently Mrs. Villain has started to attend the local Presbyterian Church. Your Maximum Leader sometimes goes with her. For reason that do not need detail here, your Maximum Leader is good friends with the local Presbyterian Pastor at this church. In fact, your Maximum Leader regards the pastor as one of the best homilists (as a Catholic might say - preacher/sermoniser as others might say) that he’s ever had the pleasure to hear. Well… Here’s the point. It dawned on your Maximum Leader that the pastor might be trying to slow-roll a conversion to Presbyterianism on your Maximum Leader. He is very subtle about it, but there are some signs that he may be signalling to your Maximum Leader that the church of his ancestors is always out there if he wanted to come to the Calvinist side… Your Maximum Leader has not plans to do this… But he’s seen signs. As it were.

Carry on.

We Have An Answer to My Rhetorical Question

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader asked in his last post “What is the protocol for killing people storming your Embassy?” Apparently the protocol is to use an airstrike to kill the commander of the of Iran’s Qud Guards, Qassem Soleimani.

So, a few thoughts on this situation right now. Broadly speaking, your Maximum Leader only favors killing important leaders when you know how far you are prepared to go in dealing with the consequences of killing that leader. If Soleimani was just a “terrorist leader” and not officially affiliated with a proper nation-state, his killing would have some consequences similar to those that we have dealt with in killing other terrorist group leaders. Killing a senior general in the Iranian Army, even one that actively plots, plans, funds, and directs anti-American actions is a little different. My point here is not that we should not have killed Soleimani, it is that I hope we are ready and have a plan to deal with possible escalation and retaliation resulting from our actions.

It is possible that Iran will not retaliate at all. Your Maximum Leader thinks that is improbable, but possible. What if Iran steps up attacks on US forces in the Middle East (which is highly probable)? We can likely deal with that. What if Iran attacks Israel (also probable)? We, and Israel, can likely deal with that. How do you deal with Iranian agents killing a US Cabinet member in the United States? How do you deal with Iranian agents blowing up an oil refinery in the US, or in Saudi Arabia?

Your Maximum Leader isn’t saying that there isn’t a plan, or that people haven’t considered how this could escalate, he just hopes that they are prepared for the worse and know how far they are prepared to go.

Carry on.

A New Year’s Message

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you a Happy New Year. May it be filled with the emotions you allow yourself to be overcome with!

In our current social climate it seems a bit wrong to just wish you a peaceful, prosperous, and joyful 2020. If one is dissatisfied with politics, nothing your Maximum Leader writes will help you. If one is anxious about the health of the planet, nothing your Maximum Leader writes will help you. If one is upset that others are not sufficiently accommodating or accepting of others, nothing your Maximum Leader writes will help you. What your Maximum Leader is expressing is that you will only allow yourself the peace, joy, and mental/emotional well-being that you are predisposed to allow yourself. Allow your Maximum Leader to take the long view for a moment. We live in an age of miracle and wonder. (To crib Paul Simon’s lyric.) 2020 is the best time to be alive for a human being in the whole of human history. You may think politics are shit (and they are). You may think that life on the planet is going to collapse in 15-100 years (and it may). You may be offended by people that do not share your beliefs (and it is likely many don’t). But all in all and across the globe things that made life miserable and short are diminishing with each passing year. If you step back and look at the broad swath of history, none of your ancestors every had it so good. Perhaps you should be a little thankful and take a moment to see how you can make a positive change to yourself. A little change to yourself may have ripples outward to others.

Enough of the hippy-esque talk now! Down to business.

First of all, you’re welcome for this post. Your Maximum Leader is certain that all of you that might stumble across this page (or even navigate to it on purpose) are glad to see the new of the Washington Nationals winning the World Series pushed down the page.

Your Maximum Leader is coming to you from the dungeon of the Villainschloss. A dungeon in great disarray. It upsets his . Yes. Your Maximum Leader’s harmony is disturbed. It is due to a number of improvements being made to the Villainschloss. You see, the dungeon bathroom is being remodeled. He hopes that the work on that room will be done by Monday, but he isn’t 100% sure it will be. Additionally, the stairs down to the dungeon are being stained (after being replaced recently). This means that your Maximum Leader must walk out of the Villainschloss, around to the dungeon door, and then come back in. Of course, a little more walking would do your Maximum Leader good, but it is damned annoying.

As today is New Year’s Day, your Maximum Leader has attended Mass to fulfil his obligation to observe the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. (NB: Wasn’t this day at one point known as “Mary, Queen of the Universe?” Has your Maximum Leader imagined that? Too lazy to Google it right now.) He attended Mass at 7am as is his habit. He wanted to go to the Vigil Mass last night at 7pm that was celebrated in Latin. Sadly, his plans did not pan out and he went this morning.

Why did his plans not pan out you may ask? Well, it is because he was smoking pork shoulder and it just didn’t get done until much later than he planned. You see, your Maximum Leader was gifted this Christmas with some of his favorite seasoning rub. It is from Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous restaurant in Memphis, TN. If he is being forthcoming, he was gifted with a lot of spice rub in fact. (The gifter misread the ordering page and rather than ordering 1 box of 8 jars of rub, ordered 8 boxes of 8 jars of rub.) Faced with an embarrassment of delightful spices, your Maximum Leader took out two nice sized pieces of pork shoulder from the freezer, thawed them, brined them, then covered them in Rendezvous rub and set them to cook in the smoker. Sadly, due to the shape of one of the bones, and the breeze that must have kept the temperature down a bit lower than his smoker’s thermometer read, the pieces took a few hours longer to cook than planned. Not only that, one of the two pieces still wasn’t fully done when he took them out of the smoker. Sadly a little time in the oven to correct this error was needed before they could be served. They tasted great, but the need for extra heat upset your Maximum Leader a touch.

Anyhow, dinner on New Year’s Eve didn’t occur until 7pm. So Latin Mass was out.

Back to Mass… Your Maximum Leader prayed for many of you that might see this. And he offered up general intentions for everyone. He is going to try to be more prayerful this year. Specifically, he is going to try to change the general thrust of his prayers (such as they are) to be more thankful and to ask to be more receptive to good in the world around him. He has been reflecting on many things and realizes that a (however small) change is his outlook might reap manifold benefits. This applies to prayer as much as everything else. So there is that…

Ellipses…

Your Maximum Leader has been reading on the interwebs (specifically on the Tweety-box follow your Maximum Leader!) that people who use ellipses to “trail off” in their writing are generally evil and horrible people. To quote Carl Spackler, “So, I’ve got that going for me.”

To turn to topical news…

What is the protocol for killing people storming your Embassy? Your Maximum Leader’s personal opinion is that Embassies, Ambassadors, and Embassy Staff are sacrosanct. Once people breached a clearly demarcated perimeter, all bets are off. Your Maximum Leader falls in line, historically, with the Mongol Khans in this particular area of diplomacy. As evinced by this Ambassadorial medallion from Kublai Khan in 1240.
Khan Passport

Your Maximum Leader is declaring right now that there is not one single person running for the office of President of the United States of America for whom he can vote in good conscience. That is saying something, because there are about 100 people running. As you may recall, your Maximum Leader cast his vote in 2016 for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Not knowing who the Libertarian candidate might be yet, there is a big empty spot right now in your Maximum Leader’s mental ballot paper. Your Maximum Leader is no fan of Donald Trump, but the Democrat candidates seem to only be able to push your Maximum Leader towards Trump. Your Maximum Leader can hardly believe he is typing these words are they appear on the screen in front of him. Trump is awful, but every Democrat is as bad or worse. They aren’t worse from a personal point of view. Trump is a terrible person. But the Democrats are terrible from a policy perspective. From the point of view of presidential politics, 2020 doesn’t look all that good. At this point your Maximum Leader might write in “zombie Richard Nixon” for President.

Which brings up the question, would a zombie Richard Nixon be eligible to be elected President of the US? A quick reading of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution tells us that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” So there we have it. Richard Nixon, even reanimated Richard Nixon, is not eligible to serve as President.

Speaking of zombies, when your Maximum Leader contemplates melee weapons to keep in handy for the zombie apocalypse, one of the first ones he thinks of is a Venetian war hammer. Clicky here to see one if you are unfamiliar. They have some length (to keep the zombies a little way away from you). They have a pointy bits (for when you want to get stabby). They have the hammer bit (for when you want to get smashy). And the have the hook bit (for when you want to pull down a zombie before your get stabby or smashy on them). (NB: for those D&D players out there, a Venetian war hammer depending on it’s size causes 1d6 to 1d10 of damage.)

Of course, you want to have a ranged weapon too. Guns are great for as long as one can get ammo. Then you need bows or crossbows…

Speaking of guns. Did you see that video of the terrible shooting at the church in Texas? The one where more bloodshed was averted by 71 year old Jack Wilson. Mr. Wilson drew his weapon and shot the assailant in the head at a distance of 50 (or so feet) within seconds of the assailant’s first shot. It was a masterful and timely display of skill and expertise. Your Maximum Leader is not nearly as skilled and isn’t sure how he would have reacted in Mr. Wilson’s place. Of course, your Maximum Leader will freely admit that he would feel awkward bringing a gun into church. Even if it was legal and okay with the church in question. Your Maximum Leader’s awkwardness would leave him to his fate and having to rely on people like Mr. Wilson to save him.

Well… The ellipses indicate that your Maximum Leader is trailing off now. He has come to the end of things in his brain to put down in the blog right now.

Merry Christmas (until Epiphany at least) and Happy New Year.

Carry on.

Merry Christmas!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is feeling saucy and rather than posting his normal link to the Adoration by El Greco, you get this image instead for your Christmas viewing.

Christmas by Randall

Merry Christmas to all and to all a naughty night.

Carry on.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader must have forgotten to publish this on Christmas. You have his apologies.)

World Series Champions!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a little tired this morning. He didn’t sleep much or well last night. Why you may ask yourself?

HE DIDN’T SLEEP WELL BECAUSE HE WAS WATCHING THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!

Good times.

Very good times.

He waited his whole life (practically) before his beloved Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018. He is happy that he only had to wait 15 years to see his baseball team win the World Series.

He suspects he’ll be seeing some Nationals players swimming in fountains before too long.

The Nats stayed in the fight. They won the fight. We should all try to go 1-0 every day.

Carry on.
The Nat’s curly “W”

Hopeful

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader religiously follows two sports. They are hockey and baseball. He loves his Washington Capitals and Washington Nationals. Two years ago, during the playoff run that culminated with his beloved Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, he was always hopeful that they would win but held out an understanding that they may not. When they were down during the Columbus series, and again during the Tampa series, he had years (decades really) of experience weighing on him and telling him that this was likely the end of the run. But it wasn’t. The Caps kept winning, and eventually raised the Cup in Vegas (and all around the Nation’s Capital and the world).

Your Maximum Leader is having the same sort of feeling, more or less, about his beloved Nationals right now. He was very worried during the Wild Card play in game. Then he was worried at many point during the Dodgers series. He’ll admit that the Cardinals seemed generally overmatched by the Nationals in that 4 game sweep. And finally, in the first two games of the World Series he has been a little on edge. Okay, he wasn’t on edge after the 7th inning of game 2, but he was until then. He still feels like the Astros are a strong team and will likely win a game (or two). He likes his National’s odds right now. But there is a lot of baseball left to play…

Carry on.

Searching

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a man. This is known. He has a tendency towards what has been referred to by a woman friend as “man search” for things. A “man search” is where a man (or boy - a male) is asked to look for something (generally by a woman) and he looks around for the something but cannot seem to find it though it is in plain sight. The man looks right past the something in question and claims he can’t find it. The woman then follows behind and takes great glee in pointing out the something and observing that it was in plain sight and she can’t understand how he missed it. This is often followed by a longish conversation in which getting an vision check is suggested and griping by the woman that she can’t trust the man to accomplish a simple task.

Your Maximum Leader brings this up because he has “man searched” for two items in the past 24 hours and is now wondering if he should get his eyes checked. The second object in question was a 10 foot long collapsable table set against a wall in a well-traveled location. He probably passes this table 4-6 times a day and just “didn’t see it.”

There is probably some fancy sciencey term for this…

Carry on.

Learn About Commas

Greetings loyal minions. You should go and learn more about commas over at my friend’s, Kevin, place. He is, quite, smart on, these, things.

Commas, Part 1.

Your Maximum Leader, should, be more conscious of his own, comma, usage.

Carry on.

UPDATED: Your Maximum Leader’s subtle attempt at some comma humor, by setting off “Kevin” in commas just looked like a error. So he has gone whole hog on improper comma use. Go over to Kevin’s site and check out more comma goodness.

Wednesday Randoms

Greetings, loyal minions. You Maximum Leader has been falling down on the proverbial blogging job and not updating. (After a spate of erratic updates… If it can be called a spate…) Here are some random thoughts.

Twitter is a real hellhole. That doesn’t prevent your Maximum Leader from hanging out there. (@maximumleader, check him out!) There are a few people out there with whom your Maximum Leader likes to engage. That is the miracle of social media in general. He doesn’t leave the platform precisely because of those people that he’s “met” virtually and genuinely likes. But some days Twitter is just terrible. For example, last week when David Koch died. So many progressives/leftist/Democrats/Communists/Socialist/whatever-they-call-themselves were tripping over themselves to gleefully celebrate the death of a man. It was awful. Regardless of what you might think of someone’s politics and how they used their fortune to advance their beliefs (all within the bounds of the law and generally accepted behavior) one shouldn’t make merry at their death. Your Maximum Leader was sorely tempted to ask how they would react to a conservative/rightist/Republican/fascist/nationalist/what-ever-the-other-side-calls-themselves dancing on the grave of someone like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should she have passed. (NB: Your Maximum Leader, while not agreeing with RBG on many items, bears her no ill-will and hopes she recovers fully from her recent surgery and is able to fully return to her duties at the Court. Your Maximum Leader isn’t advocating she retire. She’ll retire when she is ready. Or she’ll never retire and die on the bench like her friend, and political opposite, the late Antonin Scalia. That is her prerogative.) Of course, some did make this observation on Twitter and your Maximum Leader did not. There is no point. You can’t stop the Twitter mob and there is very little point to trying to do so.

General update on domestic situation. Our exchange student is fitting in generally well at the Villainschloss. He is picking up chores and the routine. Your Maximum Leader is figuring out how much parentis he can exercise in the ole concept of in loco parentis. We are still working on the details of supervision. We had some missteps (in your Maximum Leader’s opinion) over how our student (we’ll call him “J”) chose to change sports teams over the weekend. J didn’t give proper notice to the coaches of both teams. Your Maximum Leader has encouraged him to take some steps today to smooth things over with the coach who’s team J departed without notice or discussion. This can be a problem at a small private school. One has to maintain good relationships all around. Communication is the key. In addition to the sports situation, your Maximum Leader is apparently the proofreader/editor of J’s essays. This is something of a surprise as your Maximum Leader has the reputation in the house of being a hardass editor and “mean” proofreader of papers. (Villainette #1 didn’t come to him for help until well into her Senior year of HS. The Wee Villain will not come to him at all. Villainette #2 is thick skinned and will sometimes ask for editing services. But her writing is clear and technical - she is studying mechanical engineering after all - and doesn’t need much editing.) Your Maximum Leader has written a few emails to J’s teachers to get guidance on what type of help he should, and should not, give J. One teacher has responded already with a number of very helpful suggestions which your Maximum Leader will implement. These include making sure J reads his essays aloud to make sure he’s gotten all his words down, using Google docs to exchange drafts, and point out problems (tense, subject/verb agreement, run-on sentences, etc.) and have him make corrections then do it again. All good common sense advice. So there is that.

Also domestically, your Maximum Leader has been spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about trains and railroads. He has spent many hours (yes, hours) watching live cams of various rail road sites. His favorites include: Strasburg RR Cam 1, Strasburg RR Cam 2, Ashland, VA CAM, and the Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania. He is becoming a fat, middle-aged, white, male, railfan it seems. Well… It keeps him off the streets and out of jail…

Carry on.

Remembrance

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader looked at the date and realized that his late mother would have celebrated her birthday this week had cancer not taken her last year.

Gus am bris an latha agus an teich na sgailean.

Carry on.

Rutger Hauer - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads that actor Rutger Hauer has shuffled off his mortal coil, aged 75. Your Maximum Leader first became aware of Rutger Hauer when he played his iconic role of Roy Batty in “Blade Runner.” He remembers watching that film in the small cinema at Beacon Mall on Route 1 in Alexandria (Fairfax County actually), VA in 1982. He loved the film when he saw it, and loves the film to this day. It is on your Maximum Leader’s personal Top Ten Films of All Time list. Your Maximum Leader loves the original cinematic release (with all of its cuts and with that voice over). He loves the “Director’s Cut” even more. (Some scenes were added in, the voice over narration was removed, and the “happy ending” was removed.) And he loves the “Final Cut” most of all. (With the “infamous” unicorn dream sequence.) Oddly, or not so oddly, your Maximum Leader didn’t care for “Blade Runner, 2049.” Cinematically, “2049″ was gorgeous. Then again, your Maximum Leader expects visual magnificence from Ridley Scott. In the end, your Maximum Leader felt that the “2049″ story didn’t need telling. The sequel is, in his mind, pointless. So, there is that.

One of the things (one of the many things) that made Blade Runner work was the stellar performance of Rutger Hauer. His brilliance in this role shows in this, Roy Batty’s final scene:

Your Maximum Leader has seen many other Hauer films, and films in which Hauer appeared. He was always as good as the role allowed him to be. He was, your Maximum Leader would say, a solid character actor that could be a leading man in the right role.

Rutger Hauer died last week (apparently) after a very brief illness. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, and children, and grandchildren. Gus am bris en la, Mr. Hauer.

Carry on.

Some Randoms

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has some random thoughts that he will share here, rather than on the olde tweety-box.

You know, baseball is a hard game to explain to someone from China. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t recall that it was as hard to explain to his own children as they grew up as it is to our exchange student. There are, apparently, many things that don’t make sense to him about the game.

By the way, baseball is everything to which America should aspire. Football is everything that America is.

It is damned hot out. Really damned hot out. Walking a few blocks around downtown is enough to make your Maximum Leader think that he has sweat off 5 pounds.

The metric system is quite easy to use and understand. It is something of a pity that it never caught on here. (By the way, it is 32C outside right now.)

Your Maximum Leader ordered a biography of Aelfred the Great and it should be here today.

Your Maximum Leader has been quite fond of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” He really enjoyed Season 1. He also really enjoyed Season 2. He is watching Season 3 now (1 or 2 episodes to go - he forgets). He feels that Season 3 is weak and disjointed. There is also a plot line that he has real difficulty stomaching. So last night your Maximum Leader was talking about this hang-up in Season 3 with a friend. At one point the friend said, “So let me get this straight. You are just fine with mind flayers, demi-gorgons, and the whole ‘upside down,’ but an underground base filled with Russians is too much for you to handle?” To which your Maximum Leader replied, “Yes. That is it. I don’t know how the Soviets could move millions of cubic yards of dirt to build that base in Indiana without attracting attention. And how many uniformed Soviets do they have down there and how did they get to Indiana without causing a stir?”

Speaking of Stranger Things… Your Maximum Leader has always had a soft spot in his heart for Winona Ryder. He described her last night as his “secret, wonderfully-wacky, Oscar-nominated, shoplifting, hippy commune loving, girlfriend.” Your Maximum Leader seriously does love her.

Sometimes, dealing with “customer service” departments of large corporations can be a pain in the ass.

Did he mention it is hot out?

And in the TMI department, tomorrow morning your Maximum Leader is going to get a haircut (7:30am) and swing by his parish for some “time in the box” as Robbo would call it. Your Maximum Leader is always amazed at the line for Confession at 8am on Saturday mornings…

There it is. (As Emperor Franz Joseph might say…)

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.

Naked Villainy… We promise it won’t make you go blind.

    Villainous Commerce

    Villainous Sponsors

      • Get your link here.

      Villainous Search