A Honky Tonk Band Blocking the Door of a Route 66 Barbecue Joint

If you're planning a trip, they're the "Pulled Pork Pickers" and the joint is Pappy's Place in Springfield, Missouri.

I love how they take charge of making sure the door gets closed as people pass in and out.

"Cheer up, boys!"

I wish I could find this on YouTube, but all I have is a transcript from a 1976 SNL skit with Kris Kristofferson and Chevy Chase, "Waiting for Pardo":
Bill: Is he comin'? 
Bob: I don't think so. 
Bill: Have you ever seen him? 
Bob: No. Nobody has. 
Bill: Well, how do you know he exists? 
Bob: What? 
Bill: How do you know he exists? 
Bob: I've heard him. 
Bill: Where? On game shows? 
Bob: Yes. "Jeopardy." 
Bill: We can't wait much longer. 
Bob: We don't have much time. 
Don Pardo: Yes, you do, boys! 'Cause here's good news! [iris to an image of wristwatches in deep space - the brand of watch is IMMANUEL KANT OF GERMANY] Space and time are empirically real but transcendentally ideal, Bill! Yours from Immanuel Kant -- where Time and Space work hand-in-hand for you! [dissolve back to the tramps
Bill: What's it like? 
Bob: What? 
Bill: The face of Pardo. 
Bob: It's been said that it's very beautiful. 
Bill: Yes. 
Bob: Though no one's ever seen it. 
Bill: Let's look for it. [Bob looks inside a boot that he carries while Bill looks skyward at the sound of Don Pardo's Olympian voice
Don Pardo: Keep looking, boys! [iris to an image of luggage - brand name: Spinoza] 'Cause all things which are, are in themselves, or in another thing, Bill! Another quality idea from Spinoza! [dissolve back to the tramps
Bob: [off his boot] Well, he's not in here. 
Bill: [off his shoe] Not in here either. 
Bob: [tries to put on Bill's shoe] It's a struggle. 
Bill: Puttin' on your shoe? 
Bob: No, puttin' on yours. 
Bill: [puts his hat on his foot] I think we're losing this game. 
Don Pardo: No way, big fella! [iris to an image of fine jewelry - brand name: MARX OF LONDON] The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains! Workers of the world unite, Bob! From "Das Kapital" by Marx! Back to you, Bill! [dissolve back to the tramps]  
Bob: Tell me ... you like my T-shirt? 
Bill: I have one. 
Bob: Bloomingdale's? 
Bill: Macy's. 
Bob: Let's just ... keep waiting. 
Don Pardo: And you'll be glad you did, you lucky devils, you! [iris to image of cruise ships with the words 5 DAYS 6 NIGHTS - I CHING TO HONG KONG] Because, from the fabulous Book of Changes, comes success! It furthers one to cross the great water! Perseverance furthers, Bill! From the good folks at I Ching! 
Bill: He must be very smart. 
Don Pardo: I think, therefore I am, Bill! [dissolve to image of men's designer slacks and the Eiffel Tower - brand name: René Descartes of Paris] Something to think about from René Descartes of Paris! [dissolve back to the tramps
Bob: Knock knock. 
Bill: Who's there? 
Bob: Bob. 
Bill: Knock knock. 
Bob: Who's there? 
Bill: Bill. 
Bob: One hundred bottles of beer on the wall ... 
Bill: One hundred bottles of beer ... 
Bob: If one of those bottles should happen to fall ... 
Bill and Bob: Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall ... 
Don Pardo: And while you're waiting for Pardo, have a nice day, Bill! [dissolve to image of a smiley face underneath which is the name of Rod McKuen] Loosely based on a concept by Rod McKuen. 
Bob: Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall ... 
Bill: Ninety-eight bottles of beer ... 
Bob: If one of those bottles should happen to fall ... [stage darkens]


We've had great music all week, but very secular and sometimes hard hitting stuff. Now, on Friday night when the rest of the world is going wild, let's have Bach.

Inspired by a discussion at AVI's.

Availability Heuristic

So, a lot of people I know (almost universally white, millennial, left-leaning) are following the Black Lives Matter movement with some real intensity. I don't object to that. It's raising some serious questions that we ought to address. I wonder, though, if there isn't a distortion beginning to appear arising from the intense focus on black people killed by police to the exclusion of other data.

According to USA Today, police kill black Americans about twice a week, which is to say around 100 times a year. But last year, 68 police died in the line of duty. Now there were about 38,929,319 blacks in America last year, whereas the United States has about 120,000 police. So even if you eliminate deaths of police from non-violent causes, the death rate of police from violence is much higher than the death rate of black Americans from police.

But the point is that we're not paying attention to the same information. Everyone who is concerned about the Black Lives Matter movement are focused on the one data set, rather intensely to the exclusion of others. You can be reasonably sure that most police officers hear about it when a brother officer is shot or killed in the line of duty. The world looks very different to these two sets of people who keep coming into violent conflict.

I've talked in the past about how the police treat me as a threat, but they're not wrong to do so. I'm a very dangerous man. I bear them no ill will, and so in point of fact they are not in peril with me, but they have no way of knowing that until I show it to them. Given what they do know -- the availability heuristic operating on all those stories of officer deaths in the line of duty -- their actions are not irrational. Once they've had the benefit of seeing how I interact with them, they've almost always been very helpful (sometimes even when I was really at fault).

We have to get over this hump to fix the problem. Officers are probably being overly aggressive because they are thinking about a subset of information that suggests that interactions with the public (and perhaps especially with black members of the public) are more dangerous than they really are. But members of the public are also overreacting, because they don't see the degree to which peace officers are bearing a substantially higher cost in loss of life and exposure to violence. Both perspectives make sense on their terms, but neither one is complete.

Just a thought.

The Challenge of Equal Female Success Absolutely Requires...

...treating women like women and not men, says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox in the Harvard Business Review. Who is Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, you might ask? HBR will be happy to tell you. "Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-first, one of the world’s leading gender consulting firms, and author of Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business."

Given how extremely vague the suggestions in the article are, I take it that she wrote the piece largely to scare up business for herself. Businesses (like everyone) are scrambling to show that they are taking positive steps to promote diversity, especially on matters of sex and race (though not East Asian races). Here she's telling you that everything the industry's been doing is wrong, and that if you want to show you're really serious, you should take her unspecified advice. She doesn't even have a position on whether the differences she's promising to help you transcend are innate or not. Good luck applying what you learned in this article.

If you'd like specified advice, no problem: she has a "leading gender consulting firm" ready to sell you as much consulting as you can pay for. You'll learn how to treat women differently, so as to encourage them to be successful. Her standard of measure is zero-sum -- the percentage of partners by sex in major firms -- so presumably the changes brought about by this consulting are going to come at the expense of the men you employ. So how do you avoid sex discrimination lawsuits? Insisting on disparate impact standards as the measure of fairness? You're going to have explicitly different treatment by sex designed to discriminate in favor of one sex.

"Like St. Peter, he said it three times."

Inspectors General at Work

So those IGs that the Obama administration officially moved to handicap yesterday seem to be moving on then-Secretary Clinton's illegal use of email. The inspector general for the intelligence community has found four instances of improperly marked, classified information transmitted on her private server.

Now, the IG only got to review a "limited selection" of her emails because, as you know, she destroyed the rest of them before turning the 'archive' over to State. (In a hard copy format that is difficult to search, at that.) So what we have here are the ones that her team didn't find and filter out -- presumably because the information wasn't properly marked as classified, which means they didn't know to pull it.

We know that she will pay no political price for this within the party, which is still moving to nominate her with all reckless speed. How unexpected and hopeful to think that the law might actually be enforced upon this most well-connected of persons. It would have the effect of a miracle, restoring faith in a system of law that has for so long been incapable of restraining the politically connected.

UPDATE: Hope fades quickly. The Department of Justice denies that it received any requests for a criminal inquiry, and is merely entertaining a request to look into what damage may have been caused by the disclosure of classified information.

Why Don't We Just Ship Them Some Nuclear Weapons?

A guy with some relevant experience writes about yesterday's new information.
The hearing produced a new bombshell: In its investigation of Iran’s past nuclear-weapons-related work, the IAEA will rely on Iran to collect samples at its Parchin military base and other locations. As a former intelligence analyst experienced in the collection of environmental samples for investigations of weapons of mass destruction, I found this allegation impossible to believe when I heard Senator James Risch (R., Idaho) make it yesterday morning.
I like Sen. Risch's take: "Even the NFL wouldn’t go along with this."


The good old boys in Jackson Hole are rooting for the bison.

Interesting Proposition

A self described "traditional right" critic of Gen. Dunford's says that non-state actors are the real threat, and that we should seek alliance with any tyranny who will help us control them.
Russia has no troops in Mexico or Canada, nor is she considering sending arms to the Taliban, ISIS, Mexican drug cartels, or anyone else we are fighting. Just who is the threat to whom here? Most fundamentally–and I am going to write this in big letters–THE WORLD HAS CHANGED!

The main threat to the United States is not any other state. The main threat is spreading statelessness and the Fourth Generation elements that fill the resulting space. What the U.S. and the international sate system need is an alliance of all states against non-state forces. The two allies we need most, the only two strong enough to do us some good, are China and Russia. The only way Russia would be likely to become a threat to us is if the Russian state were to disintegrate. That was a real possibility under President Yeltsin. President Putin’s great achievement has been strengthening the Russian state. For that, we should thank him.
What about Iran, which has been assisting non-state actors to fight us in Afghanistan and, especially, in Iraq? Maybe our new Russian and Chinese friends can help pressure them to play nice? Not apparently:
We may be able to destroy most Iranian nuclear facilities. But we cannot destroy the knowledge Iran has, knowledge which would enable them to rebuild quickly. After such an attack, Iran would unquestionalbly move to build a bomb, something it is not doing now. And Iran would respond on the ground using allied Shiite militias to round up all the American troops in Iraq and probably attacking those in Afghanistan as well, with plenty of help from Afghans.
I suppose this leaves us with isolationism, and yet he seems very concerned about preparing for threats from non-state actors. If non-state actors like Mexican cartels are the real danger, shouldn't we deal harshly with states like Iran that empower those actors and use them as proxies?

I Really Like This Concept

The Buzzfeed videos where people eat foods from the other side of the world are funny. Even funnier are the videos where people eat commercial versions of the food they have made their whole lives. Here are some soft-spoken women who do their best to hide their disappointment with the food.

IAEA to Trust Iran. Really, Really Trust Iran.

In other words, if nuclear inspectors get a hot tip that Iran is conducting (or conducted in the past) atomic-bomb work at a secret site, they don’t get to go to the site themselves and take samples from the soil, the walls, etc, to see if there’s uranium present. They get their samples … from Iran. That’s like drug-testing a junkie by asking him to bring a sample from home.

Is that what this deal commits us to?
Kerry's answer: It's classified.

Fraud Investigations are the Enemy of All That's Good & Right

So I intuit.
The Obama administration formally announced inspectors general will have to be granted permission by their agency heads to gain access to grand jury, wiretap and fair credit information – an action that severely limits the watchdogs oversight capabilities, independence, and power to uncover fraud.
Well, it's not as if fraud or corruption of Federal government agencies is a problem.

What is a Citizen?

The Obama administration has decided to alter the oath of citizenship.
Effective July 21, 2015, new guidance (PA-2015-001) in the USCIS Policy Manual clarifies the eligibility requirements for modifications to the Oath of Allegiance. Reciting the Oath is part of the naturalization process. Candidates for citizenship normally declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. A candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.
Conscientious objectors are still required to perform noncombatant service, and they are still subject to the duty to bear arms when required by law -- it's just that the law doesn't require them to bear arms so long as they serve in other capacities. Presumably that is going to be true for newly arrived immigrants as well.

But this is to ask, again, what is going on with citizenship? Citizenship is ultimately a mutual defense pact. We maintain our liberty by defending the liberty of our fellows, who defend ours in return. That's how we hold a space in the world in which to make real our vision of a just society.

Someone who won't participate in that is not properly a citizen. Under the 14th Amendment, if they were born here they have a legal right to be considered a citizen and treated as one. Yet they are violating the more basic nature of the bargain. Before there was a 14th Amendment, before there was a Constitution, before there could be a country needing a Constitution, people had to come together and pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the mutual defense of each other and their liberties.

That's what it is really all about. If you have an objection to defending America's vision of liberty, don't apply for citizenship.

How to Make a Medieval Crossbow

You'll watch the first part, and think, "Oh, sure, chisel, chisel, stock removal from a piece of wood." But hang with it, and enjoy the metal forging and assembly.

The thing is a monster. A hundred seventy-five pound draw. With the right bolt and angle of impact, that thing will punch through modern steel.


In keeping with the blues theme from last night, a contemporary band called Husky Burnette rockin' out hard enough to make the PBR signs tremble.

That pump reminds me of one of my favorite bands ever, the Humpabillies, here doing a blend of Johnny Cash and Motörhead. It's far from their best -- they did a slamming version of Waylon Jennings' "Mental Revenge" -- but it's what I can find online.

Totally Bi-Partisan

Huge rally in NYC against the Iran deal. Jimbo is there.
The Stop Iran Rally Coalition — which claims to be a bi-partisan group — is also calling out Sen. Charles Schumer, saying he “has the votes as presumptive leader to override this deal….If this deal is not stopped, New York voters will know whom to blame.”

Sen. Schumer said in a statement Wednesday that he wasn’t ready to make a decision on the deal yet.

“I’ve read the agreement and I’m seeking answers to the many questions I have. Before I make a decision, I’m going to speak at length with experts on both sides,” the lawmaker said.
I can personally vouch for the bipartisan nature of the Stop Iran Rally Coalition. Jimbo is a Republican, and I'm a Southern Democrat. There's your bipartisan right there. This is an insanely bad deal, and we need to stop it dead.

I'm with the furry guy

Via Ace via Maggie's Farm:


Headline: "BREAKING: Obama Made Side-Deal on Iran’s Military Site, Hid Details From Congress."

UPDATE: State Department refuses to comment.

Tangled webs of privilege

Does using the term "PC" make you a reactionary?  Can minority groups engage in systematic oppression, and is that more reprehensible than other kinds of oppression?  These are the quandaries explored in the comments sections of a series of articles (via a Daily Caller link) about recent movement to stem the tide of culture-appropriative costumes in the drag-queen context.  If I understand correctly, it's OK to put on a drag performance in a gay-pride parade if you're trans-gay but not if you're cis-gay (cis- meaning that you continue to perform socially in the gender you were "assigned" at birth, and as you know, all gender is performance).  But not so fast--it's not clear it's OK for parade organizers to ask whether a performer is trans- or cis-.  It boils down to who is being most safe and inclusive.  One group's rule of thumb is that all doubts must be resolved in favor of "the most marginalised groups within our community."

Another deep concern is practices that make one or more of these groups into a joke, which would be bad.

The National Union of Students Women's Conference explains that "drag “as an expression or exploration of queer identity is to be encouraged”, and that this can be “easily distinguished” from other forms." In addition, the NUS LGBT Committee wants "to eradicate the appropriation of black women by white gay men," as in drag performers who claim they are "strong black women."

I lost track of some of the competing interests after reading the following explanation posted on Free Pride's Facebook page:
People appeared to understand that we attempted to communicate that trans drag performers' rights are secondary to other trans people's rights. We did not mean to send this message and apologise to trans drag performers for unintentionally doing so. Unfortunately this also appears to have offended trans drag performers. We did not in any way mean to equate cis (who are often seen as transmisogynistic by some portions of the Trans community) drag performers with trans drag performers. . . . 
We would like to reaffirm that this is not to say that we do not want gender expression, which we do encourage, at our event. We encourage everyone to wear what they want and express their gender however they please! There will be no policing of peoples gender identity. We will be re-inforcing our safer spaces policy at the event and asking that no-one assume anyone else gender and remember to always ask pronouns.
I have noted a deplorable failure to ask pronouns here at the Hall lately, and would ask you all to police your privilege.

Congress Should Say No

A piece by two scholars finds that the Iran deal is unacceptably permissive.

The Mysterious Case of The Disappearing Car

...and the reappearing tow-truck driver.
The Texas Department of Public Safety released almost an hour of dash cam video. But in several parts of the footage, the video is looped while the officer's audio continues uninterrupted.

For example, there are moments when a car or wrecker driver appears in the frame, suddenly disappears, and then appears once again.

It's not clear whether the video was deliberately edited, or if the looped video over the audio track is the result of an equipment problem.
Also unclear is why the woman was found dead in her cell the next morning. You can be sure this case isn't going away anytime soon.

What seems clear is that the officer was just going to give her a warning until she got argumentative and, eventually, combative. She decided to assert her independence, and it got her a trip to jail. Somehow, she was hanged that night in her cell. A suicide? A lynching? We may never know. But now that the video tape shows signs of either editing or an equipment failure, expect gasoline on the fire.

Walking Blues

For tonight's selection, forty-one minutes of bad blues.

It's got a contemporary sound, this album, but the singer was born in the '20s. Hang out for Hitler talking to Tojo, if you've got nothing much against profanity.

Western Civilization

Mozart, as played closer to Mozart's day.

Umm, Roger...

Fox News owes Donald Trump a bazillion dollars. He has single-handedly transformed their broadcast of the first Republican presidential debate on August 6 — normally a routine event almost a year and a half out from an election and of significant interest only to political junkies – into a coup de television equivalent to Caitlyn Jenner appearing nude on Sixty Minutes. Who wouldn’t want to watch?

I'd pay money for the privilege of being excluded, as I'm sure would many.

"Life is Short. Have an Affair."

I assume I don't need to persuade anyone here about the awfulness of this advice, but I would like to offer a counter-point. Some months ago, my priest offered the following story during his homily. He had just been to visit an old friend and fellow priest and, getting quite old himself, he asked his friend how he was doing. "I am very happy," he was told, "because I am about to achieve a lifelong goal: to die a Franciscan."

Life is short, though there are stretches when it does not seem so. But it is always falling away, and there always comes the last day when you wake up in the house you will never live in any longer. There comes the last time you will ever pick up your child, because they are just too big. There comes the last time you will ever see an old friend. And when it's over, what do you want to have to say for yourself?

Many people today seem to think that what they will want at that hour is to have a list of pleasures they've experienced. But how much finer -- is it not? -- to have kept an oath.

OAF Does Analytic Philosophy

"Why do we fight?" is the question. The answer he gives is not the one you usually hear, after he's given an account of why he thinks the usual accounts don't measure up. They are, as he explains, inadequate motivation. Yet we lack a cultural context to support the true answers.

John F Kerry 'very Disturbed' to Learn Iran Still Hates Us

Maybe that’s why Kerry’s “disturbed.” Maybe it just dawned on him that he and Obama greenlit the idea of a terror state run by Shiite fanatics going nuclear with no assurances whatsoever that that fanaticism would abate. We’re in good hands, my friends.
Those of you who are interested in this deal might want to read IranTruth, a website focused on opposition to the deal.

UPDATE: Canada refuses to lift sanctions until it sees credible signs of Iranian reform.

UPDATE: Another good argument against the Iran deal.

"I believe in miracles, Marquet. It's part of my job."

Headline: "Why is Pope Francis so obsessed with the devil?"

Half-Mast Update

The University of Tennessee's Chattanooga campus is flying flags at half-mast, but because of the governor's order only: no Federal order to honor the slain Marines and sailor in this way has been given. An acquaintance at Dover Air Force Base, where their bodies were transported today, reports that flags are at full staff there.

This didn't happen after the FT Hood shootings, when the President issued the following proclamation. The generous spirit of the mayor mentioned below notwithstanding, if this were an oversight by now someone has had time to bring it up.

A message is being sent by this silence and inaction, but what is the message? And for whom is it intended?

UPDATE: Marcus Luttrell seems to agree.

UPDATE: The President relents to the "mounting pressure" and issues the order.

Cooling down

After our record-breaking 35 inches of rain during the first six months of the year, we've had next to no rain in July, and is it hot out there.  We've both just come in from all the yardwork we could stand.  The cistern being above-ground, it's at Gulf-of-Mexico temperatures, which is to say high 80's, so the water out of the hoses and faucets is not much cooler than I am.  I took the almost unheard-of step of putting ice cubes in my water glass.

Luckily there's just the thing in the frig:  leftover chilled cucumber-and-yogurt soup.

4 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 small or 1/2 large clove garlic
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup water
4 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut 1 cucumber into small dice, and set aside for garnish. Cut others into large chunks. Combine cucumber chunks, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and water in a blender, and puree until smooth. Add scallions and mint leaves, reserving some of the mint for garnish, and puree briefly. Season with salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if a tarter flavor is desired. Chill until ready to serve. Stir well before serving, and ladle into bowls or mugs, garnishing each serving with a big spoonful of diced cucumber and a sprig of mint.

Getting Older? The Government Wants Your Guns

There came a time when my grandfather needed to surrender his pistol. He'd carried it for years, operating a service station that mostly catered to long haul truckers, but that was occasionally the target for criminals -- never successfully that I heard. It was a time of much greater violence than today, the late '70s and early '80s, as is explored in the context of NYC in this short film. This pistol was mostly to protect them at the shop, which had expensive tools as well as cash. Sometimes when he left he'd hand it off to my uncle, who once used it to repel a carload of robbers.

In time, though, he grew old. He had a series of strokes, and began to lose his mental focus. His judgment became questionable. He had always had a fearsome temper, but we began to wonder if he would restrain it as reliably as in the past. Finally, the day came when it was necessary that he stop carrying a pistol.

What happened to it? Well, for a while my grandmother kept it -- she had not had the strokes, and was still mentally in the clear. After he died, it passed to my uncle. After that, I'm not sure. Possibly he still has it. Possibly he sold it or gave it to someone. It was inherited, in other words, like any other property.
The Obama administration wants to keep people collecting Social Security benefits from owning guns if it is determined they are unable to manage their own affairs, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The push, which could potentially affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others, is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws that prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the United States illegally, and others, according to the paper.

The language of federal gun laws restricts ownership to people who are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease” – which could potentially affect a large group within Social Security, the LA Times reported.
So what happens if the government determines you are no longer fit to carry, or even to own, a firearm? It's not clear to me that the government is the right choice for this responsibility: in fact, no government bureaucrat would have had knowledge of my grandfather's mental acuity, and certainly not the granular knowledge that we his family had.

More to the point, though, what happens to the property if the government determines that you aren't fit to own it anymore? Transferring it from one family member to another doesn't require any government involvement. The government has no similar rights. We are talking about property that doesn't belong to them.

They're getting right on it

After the murder of four Marines and a U.S. sailor at a recruiting station, the smart people immediately got to work thinking about  how to improve security.  I know the first thing that came to all of our minds was not the knee-jerk "Hey, these guys have been trained in weapons, right; suppose they carried some?" but the much more sensible proposal to close some recruiting stations and advise recruiters not to wear their uniforms at others.

Via Maggie's Farm, which is experiencing technical difficulties this week.

Veterans Exempt T-Shirts

I would not normally post advertisements here, but this evening I found that Gadsden and Culpeper has these shirts on sale for $13. They're calling them the "War of 1812 Battle of Plattsburgh" shirts, and the flag is a little different than the one Grim has up top now, but close enough for my tastes.

They also carry the flag itself, though it's a bit ... well, you can see for yourself.

There's a lot of other Tea Party and generally patriotic shirts, etc., on sale as well.

UPDATE: Does anyone have a picture of this flag? A painting in a book or something? Or do we just have a description? I'd really like to see one.

I'm Confused

Protesters Greet Obama in Oklahoma Waving Confederate Flags — and Demonstration Organizer Is Black

Local Oklahoma coverage: Oklahoma black man leads presidential protest by waving Confederate flag 

"To the Fallen in Chattanooga"

A beautiful tribute by Lars Walker's comrade at Brandywine Books.

Who Are You Calling "White," White Boy?

To me, this is just a funny little bit of inside-baseball commentary. Following an article in Haaretz called "Jews, White Privilege, and the fight against racism in America," there's been a tug of war going on about whether Jews are, or are not, white. A blogger at the Times of Israel says definitely not. Another blogger who writes at a place called "Jewnited Nations" says that, actually, Ashkenazi Jews are totally white.

This is obviously not my fight, and I don't care about the outcome of the argument. I'm just amused by the fact that they're having an argument over it. Personally, I don't care whether Jews want to think of themselves as white, not-white, white but Jewish first, Jewish and not anything else, or what have you. If they want to be white, I'm fine with that. If they don't, I'm happy to accept their desire to be left out.

It's not an easy question to answer anyway. The word means almost nothing. The underlying concept -- a "white race" or a set of "white races" -- was believed to exist in the 19th century, but now we don't believe there is anything real to which the term refers. In America, we use it very loosely compared to the way it was used a hundred years ago when people thought it meant something important.

In any case, there's probably no better marker for whiteness today than to be concerned about whether you have "white privilege."

Civil Disobedience by a Small-Town Mayor

"It was the right thing to do," Panto said Saturday afternoon. "Sometimes the inappropriate thing is the right thing. I'm sure the president just forgot."

According to flag code, only the president and governor can order flags be flown at half-staff.

Panto freely admitted he overstepped his authority.

"I'm fully aware I don't have the authority to do this but I feel I just had to remind the president," he said. "He just needed a little reminder and I'm happy to do that. There's so many other things going on. I don't think he realized that this was something that he should do."
That's a very generous sentiment, Your Honor.

Ranger School Update, And An Alternative View

Havok Journal tells us that the three women who were recycled yet again did manage to complete the Darby phase on the third try.  They will now go on to the Mountain Warfare phase in north Georgia.

The author posits that the reason women have been failing so badly at Ranger school is that the Army is doing it wrong.  The lesson to be learned is the Marine Corps':
A three-week pre-Ranger course or Ranger Training Assessment Course... is designed to ensure prospective Ranger students can meet the week 1 Ranger Assessment Phase standards, and to hone the patrolling and fieldcraft techniques they already know. Notice I did not say, ‘learn the patrolling and fieldcraft techniques,’ I said ‘hone.’

Pre-Ranger courses are designed to improve the knowledge of basic infantry tasks, patrolling techniques, and troop leading procedures a Ranger student already possesses, not to learn them for the first time. The women who entered the Ranger School did not have this baseline knowledge, and were thus set up for failure.... The Marines sent their female enlisted to the Marine Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) course at Camp Lejeune, NC and their officer volunteers to the Infantry Officer’s Course (IOC). 122 of the 358 women who entered ITB graduated (34%), while all 29 female Marine officers failed to complete IOC.

You cannot be successful at advanced training unless you demonstrate proficiency in the fundamentals. If the Army wants women to be successful at its premier combat arms course, they must send women through foundational combat arms training.
It is true that the USMC experienced a much higher pass rate with female enlisted than the 0% rate for female officers. On the other hand, the enlisted course is also easier -- easier than either IOC or Ranger School -- and it appears that the USMC lowered upper body strength standards for the women at ITB but not IOC.

IOC is also longer, as is Ranger school, and a lot of the difficulties for women with these standards show up over time through higher injury rates.

In any case, congratulations to the three women at Mountain Warfare school. They've done more than any of their peers before them, and those who do best at the hardest things deserve the greatest respect.

Hypocrisy Is Better Than This

I told the wife, when we were first married and discussing such things, that if she ever met another man who really sparked a special love in her heart she'd better stay away from him just as she loved him.  She understood, and appreciated the sense of commitment implied by the willingness to deal harshly with any man who thought to trouble our union.  Apparently they do things differently in New York.

Old Merle tried to hit the middle ground, where 'Friendly Henrys' could exist as long as they knew the right time to scram. But I saw a lot of guys in Iraq have their spirit broken by a woman -- admittedly young, with their men admittedly gone for 15 months at a time -- who betrayed their trust, and often their wedding vows.

Here's Ranger UP on Jodie, with the usual warnings about their videos.