Music for Saturday

Seasick Steve is another cigar box guitar discovery. John Paul Jones, bassist for Led Zeppelin, joins him for a concert in the UK.

No, we won't

Rehearsal dinner announcement: "We will be using this time to fellowship with one another as well as rehearsing the flow of the wedding day ceremony."

Private space

As exciting as huge public science projects can be, they can also dry up private initiative.   After the great age of royally funded exploration should come the merchants, eager to dream up and build new kinds of ships.  A Texas company, which is plugged into the only commercial space application that yet exists--satellites--has developed a promising "firefly" drive that may prove cheaper and more efficient for today's increasingly miniature satellites.

September 11th

By custom and tradition, there will be only this post today.

Enid & Geraint

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.


A short movie about A-10s and their pilots, "the red-headed stepchild of the Air Force."

Dives & Lazarus

We watched the first episode of Ken Burns's Civil war this evening.  Hard to believe it first came out 25 years ago.  I paid more attention to the music this time, especially to a tune that didn't get picked up on the soundtrack album or on any of the many websites devoted to the documentary.  I finally placed the old tune, which is sometimes called "Kingsfold," often now played as arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams and adapted to various hymn lyrics, a common one being "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say":

The tune is also associated with Child Ballad #56, "Dives and Lazarus," as well as with "The Star of the County Down."  Perhaps more to the point re the Civil War connection, it's also known as "The Fighting 69th," a/k/a the Irish Brigade.

Good Lord

From a piece entitled "Expel People Who Demand Trigger Warnings," which sounds like it should be promising enough:
You see, my father had severe PTSD from his time as a Green Beret during the Vietnam War. It is probably at least partially because he refused to seek treatment for it that I ended up suffering the same thing to a lesser degree.

My father’s PTSD transformed him into an erratic, explosive, psychologically abusive man who instilled paranoid fantasies in me about everyone, including my own mother, starting when I was at the tender age of five. To make sure I never questioned these ideas, he punished any signs of critical thinking with almost Maoist tactics of repression. He also sweetened his psychological poison pill by alternating his rages and interrogations with grandiose flattery designed to make me even more dependent on his fantasies. Thankfully, my mother kicked him out when I was seven, but to this day I find it difficult to fully trust many people because of the pure paranoia I was forced to experience and embrace at an early age.

I don’t bring this up for pity.
That's good, because none is forthcoming from this station. That charge is a pretty vicious one to lay down at his father's feet, based on things he could only barely remember: engagements between the ages of five and seven, as subsequently explained to him by the other adult who decided she wanted rid of his father and whatever his challenges might have been.

Well, I wasn't there. Maybe it was as it was painted for him later.

Good Point

Protestants used to protest in just this way, NR reminds. That's why Milady was able to turn one, though, in The Three Musketeers.

It's Not a Joke, It's a Dowry

Althouse ponders a concept by parents to save money for a daughter -- but not sons -- to 'compensate for the wage gap.'

Conservatives tend to argue that the wage gap doesn't exist. At least for the elite of the youngest generation coming of age, it seems to be reversed. In fact, women tend to be better paid than men. But mostly these arguments turn on 'if you look at equal time in grade, experience, etc...' -- in other words, just the things that child-birth and child-rearing tend to disrupt -- 'then things are equal.'

But what if women often want to bear children, and drop time in grade?

The concept of the dowry was to pass wealth on with a daughter that would remain hers in the marriage. Traditionally, it was held in trust and must be returned to her undiminished if the marriage should end for some reason. That strikes me as substantially similar to the concept here. She'll bring the money to the marriage. If the marriage fails -- as marriages do much more often now -- the courts are likely to defend her claim to what she brought in as wealth. It will go with her and the children. And insofar as her time out of the workforce does diminish her 'time in grade' claim to wages, she'll have some wealth to offset that.

I don't think it's foolish at all. Irish, but not foolish.

A Religious Resurgence

In the mid-1990s, when Peter L. Berger declared that a religious resurgence was underway, scholars took notice. Since the 1960s, Berger was renowned as one of the leading proponents of the secularisation thesis. Briefly, secularisation describes three interrelated social processes: first, the differentiation of secular institutions (the state and the free market, for example) from religious institutions (such as the church); second, the decline of religious beliefs; and third, the privatisation of religious belief and practice. In short, secularisation describes a process of social change. It is a hypothesis that attempts to explain what is unique about modernity. For this reason, secularisation is ‘twinned’, as it were, to the process of modernisation. With respect to traditional religion (and traditional ways of life, for that matter), modernisation acts like a solvent. As a society modernises, religion loses its distinctive features—for instance, the public prominence and influence of religious institutions and leaders, the social utility of religion (as, say, a source of moral value), and epistemic claims to revelatory authority. Religion recedes from public life into the private. Its universal claims to truth are transmuted as deeply felt personal convictions.
Turns out, secularization looks like a phase receding in the rear-view mirror. China, aggressively secularized by the Communists, is flourishing with Christianity. Israel, founded by secular Jews who intended to run a modern, secularized state, is growing increasingly religious and Orthodox. The Islamic world is returning to its religious roots as well.

Whether this is good or bad depends chiefly on the effects of the particular religion on society. What we seem to see in the big picture is that religion addresses a key human need. We are coming back to it because we can't do without it. The human soul longs to know the highest things, as Aristotle wrote thousands of years ago. We investigate through science, but also through intuition. We investigate through direct experience, and through engagement with the traditions of those who came before us and investigated for themselves while they lived. Religion is at the core of what a human being is.

The key is to do it well.

On the Importance of the 9th and 10th Amendments

A brief video.

The Duffel Blog Strikes Again

Newly confirmed U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley outlined his vision for the Army’s way forward in a press conference today, his first and last as Chief of Staff.

“We’ve focused a lot on the SHARP program in the last few years, and I’m ready to switch gears back to focusing on fighting and winning America’s wars,” said Milley, 15 minutes before his resignation was announced.

In Fairness, It's Just the New York Times

...which, as havens of disreputable journalism go, is infamous.
A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account — including one about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said.

Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and the State Department disputed the inspector general’s finding last month and questioned whether the emails, which are being released to the public, had been overclassified by an arbitrary process. But the special review — by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — concluded that the emails were “Top Secret,” the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011.
"It was allowed," I heard someone say today. Well, in a sense of the words.

Georgian Solidarity

Way back in 2008, as you may remember, the Republic of Georgia was invaded by Russian forces. I was fairly incensed at the time, as the Third Georgian Brigade was deployed with us in Iraq and we did not do anything obvious to stop the Russians from cutting off as much of our friends' territory as they pleased. I wrote:
I met some fine soldiers from the Republic of Georgia in Iraq, where they have heretofore kept a brigade of their fighting men to help the Iraqi people free themselves from the tyrant Saddam, and the petty tyrants who sought in so many places to replace him. The emergence from long tyranny into constitutional liberty is a difficult one, often a painful one, but the Georgian people understand that too well.

As we watch Russia invading their sovereign territory, we should remember that the Georgians have been our friends and allies. They are a good and noble people, though bitterly poor in many places: and we have ties of culture to them as well as our current alliance. The Cross of St. George flies over Georgia as it did over England; one of my friends from Georgia in Iraq was named for the Greek hero Hercules. They are a part of the West, and should enjoy Western liberty and self-determination.

For too long the Soviet Union sought to force Georgia and so many others under the shadow. We should stand by the Georgians at this time and ensure Russia understands that Georgia is not prey to be gobbled up. They have been our friends and our reliable allies, and we have much in common with them.

I suggest that you write to tell your Senators and Representatives today that a strong endorsement of Georgian independence is needed. A wider and more dangerous war may be avoided if Russia is shown that it cannot have an easy victory over a weaker neighbor. They have often stood by us. We should be strong in our support for them now, when they need us.
There is an article in Breitbart right now that suggests that much more was done by then-President "George-ia" W. Bush than was obvious.
[Former Georgian Defense Minister Dmitri] Shashkin reveals:

Many do not know that our peacekeeping brigade returned from Iraq to Tbilisi on American military planes which under the circumstances of war was direct military support by the US.

“Many do not know that Russia could not bomb the Tbilisi airport because American Hercules planes were on the tarmac,” Shishkin continues.”Many do not know that the flagship of the US Fifth Fleet which entered the Black Sea monitored on its radars the airspace in the Tbilisi-Moscow-Volgograd triangle.”

And “many do not know that the August 14 Hercules flights from Jordan were accompanied by (American) fighters. Many do not know that the statement of the commander of these fights that ‘any activity of Russian planes in the Georgian sky will be considered an attack on the United States of America,’ thus effectively closing the Georgian sky to Russian planes.”
It's true: I, at least, did not know any of that. It was well done.

Misbehavior Before the Enemy

It may be rarely used, but it sounds pretty apt.

1) It recognizes the existence of actual enemies.

2) It reinforces that ordinary screwing around isn't acceptable in life-or-death situations.

3) It carries an appropriately stern sentence given the loss of life of people who were sent looking for him.

Now That's Really Weird

A major breakthrough in science is often heralded by these words. This time too? Perhaps.

What's the Standard for "Substance"?

Newsweek, which sounds deep enough in the tank that I'm sure I hear an echo:
Despite the fact that no reputable journalist, including our own Kurt Eichenwald, nor any official government investigator has yet found any substance to the “criminality” charge Republicans level daily, in the hall of mirrors of American politics, she is now a perceived liar.
What would it take for a 'reputable journalist' or 'government investigator' to be taken to have found something of substance? They found Top Secret, SCI, keyword information sent in the clear. She has by her own admission destroyed emails that are, by law, official government records. She sent emails in the clear containing foreign government information, which official standards state clearly must be presumed classified, to a man named Sidney Blumenthal who has no security clearance whatsoever.

All of this is criminal. Indeed, these are all felonies. Some of it we have clear records of her having done, such as the Blumenthal emails that she personally wrote and sent, as well as the TS//SI/TK//NOFORN emails. Some of it we have her admission of having done.

Is it only 'substantial' when the government files charges? When they obtain convictions? When the convictions fail to be overturned on appeal?

"Reputable" journalists are supposed to hold the government to standards. They're not supposed to go along with the willful blindness of the powerful to lawbreaking by important members of their own political party. Shame on Newsweek, and anyone else who defines "reputable" in this way.

UPDATE: Viewed in light of Clinton's statement today, I have to regard this as a coordinated campaign in which Newsweek is only pretending to be an independent journalistic agency. This is the strategy, then: flat denial of any wrongdoing, in the fervent hope that nobody actually prosecutes clear violations of law provable with evidence already in the public sphere. It's astonishing, even for a Clinton.

Oh, Really?

On a piece about countering violent extremism:
"It took us some time," Weilnboeck confesses. "We were blindfolded by our conventions of seeing extremism as a product of male violence. That is not true. Extremism is very much a systemic thing in which women have been involved -- always."

"So do make sure that you also work with women and girls," he continues. "And make sure that you work with the young people on their personal concept of being a male or being a female, because you'll find in these concepts everything that is driving violent extremism itself. There is no violent extremist that is not also a sexist or homophobic."
Emphasis added, because:
I would actually put them all in some kind of camp where they can all drive around in quad bikes, or bicycles, or white vans. I would give them a choice of vehicles to drive around with, give them no porn, they wouldn’t be able to fight – we would have wardens, of course! Women who want to see their sons or male loved ones would be able to go and visit, or take them out like a library book, and then bring them back....

And I am sick of hearing from individual women that their men are all right.
It may just be that successful violent extremism is more likely to come out of communities other than those of radical lesbians. That doesn't mean their hearts aren't just as black.

The Kant Song

A man could be satisfied with himself as a poet if he managed to construct a good rhyme for "innate subjective transcendental ideality."

Is Right-Wing Extremism the Biggest Threat to America?

So asks a writer at the HuffPo, with the following shocking evidence:
Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.
Forty-eight deaths in 14 years in a nation of more than three hundred million does not even rise to the level of statistical noise. Meanwhile, this charming study ignores the thousands of Americans killed by self-proclaimed jihadists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere.

Terrorism in general isn't much threat in America. This is true even if we extend "terrorism" to what would normally be considered random acts by psychopaths rather than part of a coherent terrorist agenda. There have been a few acts directed at police lately, apparently inspired by the BLM movement. If you were reading the news last week, it probably sounded like a crisis -- and each act is certainly a tragedy, especially for the family and the department. All the same, 2015 is shaping up to be among the safest years in a quarter century for police officers. Note that the 36 officers projected is quite close in number to the 48 Americans killed by non-Muslim "extremists," but in a single year. A very safe year.

In the same year, 668 Americans have been killed by police. We can't really say if that's good or bad, because this is the first time anyone's really tried to keep the numbers. Typically, for comparison, there are about 3,500 drownings in a year. Millions of people interact with the water or the police every year, and for the most part neither the water nor the police intend to kill you. However, if you're going to panic about 48 people killed over fourteen years by "radical right wing extremists," police and swimming pools should scare you to death.

UPDATE: Another grave danger: car ownership.