I once saw a line: "Weather's here. Wish you were beautiful." I always think of it on the first day that the spring weather warms us up.

We rode all winter, but now it's really time.

Ah, The Understanding of Our Superiors

Now I understand why we can't be allowed to have guns. They know what they would do if they had them.
The mayor of Marcus Hook was charged [March 21] with holding an acquaintance hostage during a drunken encounter at his home last month that allegedly ended with the mayor’s firing a gun into the floor. During the encounter, Mayor James D. Schiliro repeatedly offered to perform a sex act with the 20-year-old male, according to police.
Apparently this is one of Bloomberg's anti-gun mayors. Or was, until the website got scrubbed.

Raising them up in the way they should go

I thought Grim would appreciate this excerpt from a book I'm helping proofread at Project Gutenberg (The Doctor's Christmas Eve, by James Lane Allen, 1920):
You tell me that you have tried a method of training and that it is a failure. I don't wonder: any training would be a failure that made it the chief business in life of any creature--human or brute--to fix its mind upon what it is not to do.  You say you are always warning your boys; that you fill their minds with cautions; that your arouse their imaginations with pictures of forbidden things, make them look at life as a check, a halter, a blind bridle.  So far as I can discover, you have prepared a list of the evil traits of humanity and required your boys to memorize these: and then you tell them to beware. Is that it?" 
"That is exactly it." 
The youth lying on the grass laid aside his newspaper and began to listen.  The two men welcomed his attention.  The minister always found it difficult to speak without a congregation--part of which must be sinners:  here was an occasion for outdoor preaching.  The turfman probably welcomed this chance to get before the youth in an indirect way certain suggestions which he relied upon for his:-- 
"Well, that is where your training and my training differ," he resumed.  "I never assemble my colts at the barn door--that is, I would not if I could--and recite to them the vicious traits of the wild horse and require them to memorize those traits and think about them unceasingly, but never to imitate them. . . . You teach [your boys] the failings of mankind as they revealed themselves in an age of primitive transgression.  I say I never try to train a horse that way.  On the contrary I try to let all the ancestral memories slumber, and I take all the ancestral powers and develop them for modern uses.  Why, listen.  We know that a horse's teeth were once useful as a weapon to bite its enemies.  Now I try to give it the notion that its teeth are only useful in feeding.  You know that its hoofs were used to strike its enemies:  it stood on its forefeet and kicked in the rear; it stood on its hind feet and pawed in front.  You know that the horse is timid, it is born timid, dies timid; but had it not been timid, it would have been exterminated:  its speed was one of its means of survival:  if it could not conquer, it had to flee and the sentinel of its safety was its fear; it was the most valuable trait it had; this ancestral trait has not yet been outlived; don't despise the horse for it.  But now I try to teach a horse that feet and legs and speed are to serve another instinct--the instinct to win in the new maddened courage of the race-course.  And I never allow the horse to believe that it has such a thing as an enemy. He is not to fear life, but to trust life.  I teach him that man is not his old hereditary enemy, but his friend--and his master.  I would not suggest to a horse any of its latent bad traits.  I never prohibit its doing anything.   I never try to teach it what not to do, but only what to do.  And so I have good colts, and you have--but excuse me." 
. . . "Aleck," replied the vicar of the stables with his quaint sunniness, "don't you know that no human being can teach any living thing--man or beatst or bird or fish or flea--not to do a thing? you can only teach to do.   If there is a God of this universe, He is a God of doing.  You can no more teach 'a not' than you can 'a nothing."  Now try to teach one of your sons nothing!  This world has never taught, and will never teach, a prohibition, because a prohibition is a nothing; it has never taught anything but the will and desire to do: that is the root of the matter.   Do you suppose I try to keep one of my cows from kicking over the bucket of milk by tying her hind legs?   I go to the other end of the beast and do something for her brain so that when she feels the instinct to kick which is her right, what I have taught her will compel her to waive her right and to keep her feet on the ground.  That is all there is of it."  They were hearty and good-humored in their talk, and the minister did not budge:  but the boy listened only to his uncle.  "Do you remember, Aleck, when you and I were in the school'over yonder and one morning old Bowles issued a new order that none of us boys was to ask for a drink between little recess and big recess?  Now none of us drank at that hour; but the day after the order was issued, every boy wanted a drink, and demanded a drink, and got a drink. It was thirst for principle. Every boy knew it was his right to drink whenever he was thirsty--and even when he was not thirsty; and he disobeyed orders to assert that right.  And if old Bowles had not lowered his authority before that advancing right, there would not have been any old Bowles.  There is one thing greater than any man's authority, and that is any man's right. Isn't that the United States? 
The Romans are going home.

Long ago, when I was young lad in the service, I heard that the Germans had a nick name for the American troops: "The Romans". Not a bad name, really--I heard they referred to the British troops as "Island Apes". I sort thought the name fit. Well, the BAOR hasn't been around for a while now, and it looks like USAREUR will soon join them.

 That worked out real well last time.

Now That's Interesting...

The FAA has established a "no fly zone" over the recent Arkansas oil spill.

Is that for real?

It's a real place, in Nevada, the Green Fly Geyser, a happy mistake:

Located on a gated parcel of private property within the million-acre Black Rock Desert, Fly Geyser is not a natural phenomenon. It was created accidentally in 1964 from a geothermal test well inadequately capped. The scalding water has erupted from the well since then, leaving calcium carbonate deposits growing at the rate of several inches per year. The brilliant red and green coloring on the mounds is from thermophilic algae thriving in the extreme micro-climate of the geysers.

The History of Philosophy "Without Gaps"

That's a bold claim, but it starts here. The podcasts seem to be bite-sized, and popularly-aimed, so that it should be accessible to anyone who wants a daily (or weekly) podcast to go with their commute, or morning coffee.

Body hacking

From Maggie's Farm, a lot of useful tricks, like how to make the room stop spinning, and how to lessen the pain of toothache.

"A Handgun Against an Army"

DL Sly sends a little something she thought I'd like, which I think some of you might like as well.

You Fight How You Train

Out in Arizona, bipartisan support destroyed a bill aimed at training the police to respect 1st Amendment rights of free expression and free association.
A handful of Arizona Senate Republicans joined with Democrats Thursday to reject a bill requiring that police be trained about the illegality of pulling over motorcyclists based solely on their clothing or the fact they're riding motorcycles.... Democrats pushed back Thursday, joined by Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough of Chandler, who argued against creating a new class of protected people and called it the first step toward micromanaging police training.

"Are we going to indeed create a new class of protected persons, and once we do that I can suggest other groups — how about military people, how about young people, how about little old ladies with gray hair?" ...

The bill was opposed by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, known as AzPOST, the entity that oversees police training and certification in the state
Strangely enough, it would also be illegal to pull people over just because they were otherwise-legally operating a vehicle while wearing patches indicating veteran status, or having a bumpersticker expressing political views. This is true even if the views in question are anti-government -- for example, an anti-Obama sticker, or a "I Love My Country But I Fear My Government" sticker (not necessarily a right-wing sentiment only, as Edward Abbey included a version in his collection of aphorisms).

You can even put a Confederate flag sticker on your car, as people around here do just occasionally, even though the Confederacy waged war against the government of the United States. You can express support for utterly odious groups like the KKK. None of this justifies pulling you over, because it is within the lawful rights that the police are supposed to protect.

Nor is this simply a matter of defending abstract rights. In the current environment, encounters with the police are potentially deadly.
Burges urged the full Senate to pass her bill Thursday, saying she did not believe it created a protected class and saying it "is kind of frustrating when you're pulled over and somebody points a gun at you."...

"We're facing situations where they're pointing guns at our heads on a regular basis, and it's getting more intense," [Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs member] Dreyfus said. "The more often this goes on the greater the chance that somebody's going to end up dead."
The Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs includes such notorious outlaws as "Bikers for Christ," "Soldiers for Jesus," and "Sober Riders MC."

Philosophy as Major

It may well be that going to graduate school is a bad investment just now, but if you are interested in it, it turns out that philosophy is a pretty good preparatory course for the usually-mandatory GRE. It is the top major for results in analytic and verbal scores, and ranks with the hard sciences in the quantitative as well.

Is the GRE a good predictor for success in other fields? Probably, if GRE scores are linked to IQ, as is sometimes assumed. Insofar as IQ measures something that is of general applicability, raising your IQ -- which is linked to learning to think about "complex relationships, elaborate systems or difficult problems" -- is a good way to raise your utility across the board. Philosophy regularly deals with all three of these things, or at least the more rigorous schools of it do.

That would suggest that it was practical exactly where it is assumed to be least practical: in asking you to struggle with arcane and abstract systems, whose applicability to the everyday is not obvious. Well, now perhaps it is obvious. It just isn't direct.

I'm insulted, I think

Or maybe I'm just befuddled.  North Korea apparently has just called us a "boiled pumpkin."

Yeah, and yer another.

Our Enemy, Wagner

Or else our ally, as Odysseus was.

The thing I love about this article is that it provides an easy link to the particular piece of music being discussed at each instance. Read what he thinks, and then hear it; and then decide for yourself.

But listen to this, too, before you decide.

Eating for zillions, and a gold rush

Two weeks' pickings from Rocket Science, where I'm catching up after a long period indulging myself over at Project Gutenberg, and several days' worth of technical difficulties in our internet connection.  (It's heck living out in the boonies.)

First, an article about the surprisingly complicated study of breast milk.  It seems that a mother modifies the content of her milk in response to a variety of signals, including (possibly) the sex of her child or the
baby's having caught an infection.  Also, something that caught my eye, as I'm always interested in the emerging science of the gut:
Some human milk oligosaccharides—simple sugar carbohydrates—were recently discovered to be indigestible by infants. When my son was nursing, those oligosaccharides weren’t meant for him. They were meant for bacteria in his gut, which thought they were delicious. My wife was, in a sense, nursing another species altogether, a species that had been evolutionarily selected to protect her child. (A relationship immortalized in the paper titled “Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Every Baby Needs a Sugar Mama.”) In effect, as Hinde and UC-Davis chemist Bruce German have written, “mothers are not just eating for two, they are actually eating for 2 × 1011 (their own intestinal microbiome as well as their infant’s)!”
On a completely unrelated note, earthquakes may stimulate the formation of nearly instantaneous veins of gold.  Small earthquakes can cause sudden local depressurations, with an interesting effect on fluids circulating nearby:
When mineral-laden water at around 390 °C is subjected to that kind of pressure drop, Weatherley says, the liquid rapidly vaporizes and the minerals in the now-supersaturated water crystallize almost instantly—a process that engineers call flash vaporization or flash deposition. The effect, he says, “is sufficiently large that quartz and any of its associated minerals and metals will fall out of solution”.


Then said he to Galahad: Son,
wottest thou what I hold betwixt my hands? Nay, said
he, but if ye will tell me. This is, said he, the holy dish
wherein I ate the lamb on [Holy] Thursday. And now hast
thou seen that thou most desired to see
, but yet hast thou
not seen it so openly as thou shalt see it in the city of
Sarras in the spiritual place. Therefore thou must go
hence and bear with thee this Holy Vessel; for this night
it shall depart from the realm of Logris, that it shall never
be seen more here. And wottest thou wherefore? For
he is not served nor worshipped to his right by them of
this land, for they be turned to evil living; therefore I
shall disherit them of the honour which I have done them.

I owe special thanks to Dad29 today, who has been invaluable in my quest to see the cup.

White Men Are the Problem

Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.
Thus writes a pair of researchers who are as insulated from reality as any two people I've ever encountered. Can you actually imagine "the public" telling a group of 'African American male leaders' that their views were not relevant, and they needed to go focus on their own culture? Of course not. The American public is so afraid of being tarred as racists that they would never react that way, for one thing; and for another, when it actually happens that there is a huge number of gun murders in the black community, as it does regularly in places like Chicago, we look to those leaders as especially relevant because of their participation in the black community. Nobody has ever suggested that they should not lecture to us about how the broader American sweep of history affects their community, or what trends from the wider society might impact the problems we'd all like to see resolved.

When these researchers go on to say, "Unlike other groups, white men are not used to being singled out," I must assume they have somehow managed their academic careers without ever taking a course in history or literature. Aside from slavery, prejudice, imperialism, environmental damage, hate, capitalism and bigotry, I can't think of anything bad for which I've ever heard white men being especially singled out as blameworthy.

It's the common refrain on every subject. How stunning to realize that those making it apparently cannot hear themselves. Perhaps it's the fish/water issue: you can't see the sea in which you swim.


On the gun control/rights issue, by the way, my own native state of Georgia has recently concluded its legislative session. No new gun bills actually survived to pass, but we got close. Governor Nathan Deal was the obstacle to the passage of the bill, on terms that are very close to what we discussed here: guns would be allowed on college campuses as they are not currently (but as they are in most other public spaces), but only if permit holders took special safety training. Apparently Georgia Carry (who views the NRA as complete sellouts on gun rights) opposed the bill because it doesn't want gun rights to be entangled with any requirements or costs -- they're standing firm on "shall not be abridged."

They say Governor Deal has a "storied anti-gun record," but the governor's proposal is almost exactly the proposal I remember endorsing when we were discussing it earlier. I've long believed that the only viable response to terrorism of any sort -- including these mass shootings, which are a species of suicide terrorism except that the ideology underlying each act is usually limited to the single actor -- is to harden the broader society. However, we've allowed college campus culture to devolve into a sort of Saturnalia, especially on the weekends of home football games. Some extra steps need to be taken to ensure that the college students who assume this most adult of adult responsibilities are among the actual, and not merely statutory, adults on the campus.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen many other good recommendations on hand. I'm not immune to the idea of supporting new controls, if the controls are wise, likely to succeed, and written by people who actually understand the technology they want to regulate.