Flying Boats.

That Macchi M33 was a sweet design.

Okay, You Tell Me, Then

Yesterday I suggested a way to change Conservative rhetoric to create openings to persuade Progressives, but the comments mostly agreed that it was too late for persuasion:

raven: I have given up, and I largely avoid them. I do not believe they can be trusted, not on any grounds of compassion, but because they accept orders unconditionally, and will perform mental contortions to reconcile the new belief with the old. The gulag is the gulag and they always end up putting their opponents there....

Mississippi: Wow, I back Raven's comments. She is correct. Progressives are smug. They deem non-progressives as inferior....

Eric Blair: I think Raven has the sense of it....

Krag: I view this as an exercise in extreme futility. I think we are far past reconciliation with the left. The views for the future are too different for one nation to move forward. One side has to win, through bloody means, before America will take any more steps forward....

Anonymous: I disagree. Progressives are a manifestation of arrested development and the infantile, Nietzschean "will to power," unrestrained by any sense of reason born of maturity, discipline, reason, or Christian temperance. ... I have become convinced that this cannot be reasoned with....

So what have you tried? What convinced you that persuasion isn't possible?

And what's your solution? Or, if you don't think there's a solution, how do you think things will play out?

Don't Tread On Me

[By Lexicon, Vikrum - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,]

So, before today, did any of you know that Gadsden owned slaves?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is gathering information to determine whether the iconic Gadsden flag is racist and punishable under federal workplace harassment regulations.

The impetus was a Jan. 8, 2014, complaint brought by a black federal employee who was upset by his coworker’s hat, which bore the flag.

The individual who filed the complaint did so because the flag is allegedly an “indicator of white resentment against blacks,” specifically tied to the tea party movement, and that its creator, South Carolina statesmen Christopher Gadsden, owned slaves.

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who specializes in First Amendment issues and runs a blog for The Washington Post, wrote that the case includes no evidence that racial epithets were ever uttered — though some details of the case are not revealed due to secret proceedings — and the EEOC acknowledged that Gadsden created the flag “in a nonracial context” prior to the Revolutionary War.
How likely is it that someone displaying a Gadsden flag knew that Gadsden was a slave-owner if we didn't? I would like to point out that the word "slave" doesn't appear anywhere on the Wikipedia entry for the Gadsden flag. I therefore reason that your average American displaying the flag probably isn't thinking of race or slavery. They're thinking of rebellion against an overweening government.

And that's downright American. It's the core of what America is all about.

Sounds Reasonable

Pentagon kills defense reporter after toddler falls into press enclosure:

ARLINGTON, Va. — Members of the national press and the military are in shock today after a small child fell into the Pentagon’s press enclosure and officials were forced to shoot and kill a 35-year old reporter to protect the child.
I know this sounds like a drastic measure, and PETA is already up in arms, but once you know all the facts, it just makes sense.

A Hunch about Persuading Progressives to Change

Progressivism is a moral philosophy: Progress is, finally, moral progress. We get there through a process of evolution, which is very slow and very messy. Each generation may only make a little Progress. We know our society is making Progress because we are rewarded, overall, with better lives and a more just society.

Progressives live in a very simple, but powerful, moral world:

  • Progressives care about other people, especially the poor, the helpless, and the victims of injustice.
  • Conservatives are selfish and myopic; they often can't even see injustice.

  • Progressives are generous, good-hearted people willing to sacrifice for others.
  • Conservatives are greedy and only want to improve the lot of themselves and their own kind.

  • Progressives are open-minded, willing to explore new ideas, and willing to accept strangers as fellow-travelers on the road to a better future.
  • Conservatives are close-minded: they are afraid of new ideas, and they are afraid of strangers.

One of the reasons it is difficult to change minds is that we have this ideal of reasoning toward a good conclusion, but that's not how most people work. People work from a general paradigm, a view of how the world works. If you share their worldview, then you can get somewhere through reason. However, if you do not, if your worldview is quite different, they will write off your arguments as violations of how the world works. They won't even really consider them; they can't and still hold on to their identity.

Reading Tex's experiences with Obamacare is gut-wrenching. But when I've talked to Progressives about the problems with the law, in the end, it comes down to their sense of identity: Progressives care about other people and they are generous. Obamacare, then, is a good-hearted law designed to help the needy, and it has some flaws that should be fixed. In the end, neither the problems the program has caused nor the hazards of increased government control over our lives has made any difference to Progressives because they believe it's a generous law that will (when corrected) really help the disadvantaged. These things take time, you know. Evolution is a messy process.

Progressives are also humble. They are more than willing to admit mistakes. Sometimes their hearts overrule their heads and, overcome with a tremendous desire to help others, they don't think everything through and just rush to help. But we can fix those mistakes and make things better. Just watch.

You see, no matter what the Conservative's argument is, until it gets to the heart, it doesn't really matter. Progressive thought always ends up in the heart as its last defense: We care about others; we're generous; we're open-minded; in the end, through messy evolutionary processes, this will all work out for the better. This is the inner fortress of Progressive identity.

To really change a Progressive's mind, then, we need to challenge this identity. We have to show not just that their policies are harmful, but that they are heartless. We have to indict them as selfish and close-minded, more concerned with power than actually helping anyone. We have to show them that evolution is blind.

I think if we do that, we can create real openings.

The second part is one of of Khun's rules: No matter how problematic one's worldview is, no one abandons it until they can see a new, better paradigm to replace it with. We need to have a clear replacement to offer them, one that focuses on selflessness, service, generosity, genuine charity (in the old caritas / love they neighbor sense) and making the world a better place. I think Conservatives in general need to have a much better understanding of their own ideals and their own moral values, and they need to be able to articulate them clearly and succinctly. We each need our elevator speech, and we need to be able to back it up with in-depth discussions at the coffee house and pub.

Of course, this is just a hunch.

95 Is The Dividing Line

If you're experiencing any existential crises, your motorcycle may lead you out of them. Your motorcycle will guide you past them, but only once you gear it up over 95. That's for a bike without windshield or fairing. I assume those things raise the point at which you have no choice but to focus your attention on the bike and nothing else.

At some point I am going to have a talk with the Good Lord about why He built the world in such a way that these things are necessary. But maybe He did it just so we could ride motorcycles like this in something like good conscience. Not all the time. Mostly it's a sin that I've ridden this way, and Lord knows I've ridden like this a lot.

Maybe this time it's all right.

Or just as possibly, it may... be... not.

Well, I confess my sins to you.

Blowing Out That Neck

Dizzy Gillespie breaks all our rules.

I Guess It's Good That It's "Official"

The Washington Post: "A slew of bad economic headlines last week made it official: The Obama economy has failed."


"Which agency?"

"I can't say that in an open hearing, sir."

Oh, Good, We're Paying Ransoms Now

I mean, what are the odds that Iran will interpret this as an incentive to take more Americans hostage, right?

Oh, you say they're already doing that? Gee, who could have predicted that?

You know, Trump may be right. As ridiculous as the claim seems, he may really understand foreign policy better than President Obama.

Dark Ages Palace Discovered in Cornwall

Some Arthurian news of more interest:
Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.

How to Start a Clash of Civilizations

Foreign Policy has an interesting piece by that title. The sub-head is:

If the Islamic State wants to renew the Crusades by attacking churches and killing priests, Catholic France won’t run from the fight.

And then:

Whatever the extent of Western reluctance or prudence, the truth is there’s no better way to shake Europe out of what many now see as its guilt-ridden paralysis than to assault French Catholicism — the oldest, most ingrained force that transcends nationalism in Europe’s most powerful proud nation.

It's an interesting and brief article that discusses the history of Catholicism in France and recent statements about refugees and Islam by European politicians and the pope, then turns to Marion Le Pen and the French Catholic reaction.

I think it's too little, too late: How much of France is still really Catholic? I've heard the term "culturally Catholic" to describe western European Catholics who are really secular and often atheists. So, maybe the small number of real French Catholics are willing to stand up against violent jihad, but what about the rest of France?

On the other hand, I really know little of European politics. Maybe it's true that while there is life there is hope.

Seventy Years Since

The Battle of Athens ought to be an inspiration to us all -- if only we all knew about it.

It Was Over A Hundred This Afternoon.... the country.

I imagine it was right brutal in the city.

The Elitist Elites Rally Against The Donald

Joe Bob Briggs, drive in movie reviewer to the stars, writes about journalists' treatment of Donald Trump. I'm going to quote only one of his points about the way the self-appointed elite gatekeepers of our democracy view Trump.
But let’s cut to the chase and look at what I’m calling the Big Eight. Of all the words used by the press to describe Donald Trump, the million-hit wonders are these:

bully 1.4 million
self-obsessed 2.5 million
vicious 9.1 million
rude 13.3 million
cruel 13.3 million
liar 16.2 million
angry 19.3 million
And the winner—drum roll, please:
idiot 20.5 million

Notice that five of the eight are internal attributes, only one can be fact-checked, and the most popular epithet of them all is the last refuge of sputtering incoherent rage. It’s reminiscent of the old Saturday Night Live routine, with Dan Aykroyd responding to anything Jane Curtin said with, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”
You should read the rest, which is at Taki's magazine in the UK.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States himself has come out to declare the opposition party's candidate manifestly unfit to serve. It's hard to get more elite than the sitting President, and he's simply declaring that the opponent's candidate should be dismissed outright from consideration.

Now, I also happen to think that Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit for the office he's seeking. I also think that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is morally unfit for the same office. Of the two, I regard a defect in moral character as the more disqualifying.

Still, it's a predictable brouhaha in a way. Donald Trump, the billionaire, has somehow become the voice of the anti-establishment movement. The whole establishment is united against him. They're united against him in a more vocal way than we've ever yet seen.

I suppose that means they think he's going to win. You only pull out all the stops like this when you're terrified of what's about to happen.

A Purely Personal Note About the Protests

So, in addition to the things I've written previously, I want to note for the record that protesters like me on sight. Not everyone usually does. I'm not the sort of person who comes by protests often, but they really appreciated that I was there. They were vocal about it.

Whole years go by without someone complimenting my appearance, but I had a pretty young lady come up and shake my hand emphatically. "You're just so cool," she said.

At the Black Men for Bernie protest, one of the Black Men for Bernie came up to me and said, "What's up, my brother with the best beard ever?" He proved, in a few seconds conversation, to have accurately guessed that I'd been to Iraq. I'm not sure what he was picking up on -- I wasn't wearing my "Baghdad Summer Camp" T-shirt.

I also met a very nice, older lesbian couple who had spent their younger years as trappers in the north, and were now raising exotic plant species. They were great fun to talk to, worried about corporate influence on our elections but very much in favor of the freedom to wander the forests.

There was also a reporter I met from Australia, who said he was working for their version of VICE. He was a fun guy to hang out with and swap stories. His opinion was that these protests were proof that, for the first time in a while, personal character had become a real issue in an American Presidential election. The rise of third parties wasn't mostly about ideology, but about the fact that both major party nominees were really bad people.

He was right about that, I think. For a while, I was carrying a sign somebody gave me that read, "Which Liar Do You Trust?"

It does seem to be the relevant question this year.

No, These Do Not Constitute 'Similarities'

This guy is apparently both a Ph.D. and a "retired senior military officer," so he claims.
Contentious as it might sound, there are significant similarities between the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Of course there are differences as well, but examining issues of congruence adds another dimension to the gun violence controversy.

The most important parallels between ISIS and the NRA are:

- Institutionally, both organizations are remorseless about the deaths of victims
- Both use fear and intimidation to obtain their objectives
- Both assume their ideology is superior to the wishes of the majority of citizens
- Both have intensely loyal followers
- Both recruit and indoctrinate members who are ignorant of the basic facts
- Both are relatively small organizations that have impact far beyond their size
- Neither organization will apologize for the harm they cause
I hardly know where to begin. Fear and intimidation? Defy ISIS and they'll murder a hundred people in cafes in your peaceful city. Defy the NRA, and you'll get lots of angry postcards.

At one point I had a computer program glance over the page, and it found that less than 1% of the posts and commentary in the Hall included profanity. My capacity to keep up those standards is being intensely pressured by nonsense like this.

Oh, Really?

Vox is worried that Trump's talk about a "rigged election" could take a sledgehammer to the bedrock of America's faith in democracy.

I'd have thought it was the DNC's proven rigging of elections that was undermining faith in the fairness of elections. I mean, the only reason Trump doesn't sound paranoid is that you've just proven that you Vox types are totally on board with actively rigging elections -- and also totally on board with making sure no one suffers any consequences for it, as long as they're on your side.

Not Just A Right, But A Duty

D29 has an important distinction on the matter of defense:
Turning the other cheek is the counsel Christ gave in the instance of an individual when morally insulted: Humility conquers pride. It has nothing to do with self-defense.

The Catholic Church has always maintained that the defiance of an evil force is not only a right but an obligation. Its Catechism (cf. #2265) cites St. Thomas Aquinas: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the State.”

A father is culpable if he does not protect his family.
Presumably, outside of Catholic circles, we would say that the mother has an equal responsibility rather than standing on the idea of complementarianism. I leave that decision to you each to make for yourselves. I can see arguments for complementarianism in some spheres, of which the family is perhaps the most obvious. Still, even there, there is something to be said for the liberty for families to order themselves without much if any external interference. There is no greater space for liberty than the human family, which is a genuinely pre-political structure that politics should not, in general, intrude upon. There may be exceptions to that principle, but I am suspicious of the business of crafting exceptions to it. The argument for each particular exception would need to be quite strong.

In any case, it is worth making clear that the right to defense is only part of the issue. A duty also exists in some cases. We are less responsible for the defense of our fellow citizens than for our family members, but I'm not sure there ought not to be a moral duty of citizens to defend one another as well. Just as we say that you must stop and render aid and assistance in the case of an accident, ought you not to aid your fellows if you find them being robbed or beaten?

'Ought implies can,' so the duty is less onerous for those who are less capable. Yet this is a good reason for an expansive reading of the 2nd Amendment: we are all more capable if we keep and bear arms, especially if they are arms in which we regularly train.

Texas Readers Take Note

Six nights of the Reverend Horton Heat at the Continental Club in Austin.
The undisputed Godfather of Psychobilly, The Reverend Horton Heat, invites its congregation to join them this October in Austin, TX for six white-hot nights as the legendary Continental Club is transformed to The Continental Church Of The Reverend Horton Heat.

For the first time ever in its historic 50 years plus existence a band will be selling out 6 consecutive nights of shows, guaranteeing this event’s rightful place in Austin’s music and folklore history.

Making the event even more special, each show will feature a unique line up with some VERY SPECIAL guest artists and bands.

Get ready… as hot rods, lowriders and choppers descend on South Congress to The Continental Church of The Reverend Horton Heat.
That's going to be an amazing set of shows.

A Hunch about the Democrats' Foreign Policy

I suspect Obama's Iran deal and Hillary's support for Russian weapons development are parts of a strategy to limit the power of the United States and force US politics to focus on domestic issues, where Democrats believe they are strong and Republicans are weak.

Generally, Republicans are more focused on foreign involvement, and Democrats on domestic involvement. If the Democrats can make foreign involvement much less meaningful, then they force US politics to focus on the Democrats' strengths.

By helping Iran and Russia become militarily powerful nations, they make the stakes for US military involvement overseas much, much higher. In addition, weakening relations with our traditional military allies also limits us. Doing these things will almost certainly lead to a much lower probability of US military action in those regions. This can be used to claim we don't need as much military power and then to reduce our forces, which will further limit our options. (As a bonus, the military is a hotbed of Republican support, so reducing it is always good for Democrats.)

Given our own weakness in the face of powerful foreign forces, they can then, quite reasonably, claim that since we can't do much about what foreign nations do, we should focus on social justice here. Voila! The entire national debate shifts dramatically.

It's just a hunch, though.
I think somebody's been watching too much "Game of Thrones". Or something. I guess.

Of Course She Doesn't Want to "Repeal" It

Hillary Clinton claims she doesn't want to 'repeal' the Second Amendment.

Of course she doesn't. Repealing it would require a supermajority vote of the legislature, followed by ratification by numerous states. That's exactly the kind of democracy she opposes as insufficiently submissive to the whims of the elite.

What she wants is to appoint a reliable majority to the Supreme court that will redefine the Second Amendment so that it says what she wants it to say. We shall all have the right to keep and bear arms insofar as we belong to an official state militia, none of which shall be allowed as the National Guard is a perfectly appropriate substitute for them. It won't be repealed, just interpreted in a way that ensures that none of us can appeal to it for any legal reason whatsoever.

How Many Americans Voted for Trump Or Clinton?

Would you believe nine percent?

Death to Wells Fargo

I don't especially like when corporations go after gun rights, and I'd be only too happy to see a few heads on pikes as a warning to others. A company that goes after knife manufacturers, though: that's a bridge too far. Now it's not about the particular dangers of guns of this or that type. You're just opposed to weapons. To be opposed to weapons is not to oppose the human right of self-defense. It's just to oppose the tools that would make such a right realizable.

It's like favoring voting rights, but being opposed to polling stations.

It's like favoring freedom of speech, but being against people being allowed to keep their tongues.

It's like favoring freedom of religion, but opposing anyone building a church.

Corporations that try to destroy the practical realization of any of our freedoms deserve to be destroyed in turn.

The Glories of Obamacare Continue to Shine

That grandfathered plan I have had since the enactment of this monstrosity we call Obamacare is being canceled next year. The company just doesn't want to offer it any longer, though I was promised that 'if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.' They're offering a similar plan, with the much-smaller network associated with Obamacare, for only 122% of the price of my current plan.

Of course, "you should know changing your health care plan will cause you to lose your grandfathered status -- and under the health care law, you can't get it back."

So, I have the option of changing my plan and losing that status, or having the plan canceled out from under me and replaced with a much more expensive one that isn't nearly as good.

UPDATE: I should add that this plan has more or less doubled in price since 2010 already. At this point, I'd be paying nearly three times the original rate for less access to health care.

Maybe this monster worked for somebody, but from my perspective Obama's signature legislative accomplishment has been an unmitigated disaster.

Jill Stein: Winner of the Protests

Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, was the clear winner from the protests. Opinions about Bernie's endorsement of Hillary ran from heartbreak to outrage, but not compliance. Jill Stein, on the other hand, showed up in person to several protests and was allowed to take the mic. She was warmly welcomed, and her chant -- "JILL NOT HILL!" -- became a very common refrain by the end of the week.

Even by Tuesday, she joined the march on the DNC by the protesters that was later joined by the walkout delegates, and kept marching with them through the night. I would not be surprised to see her take leadership of a breakaway faction of the progressive left. Again, the DNC brought it on themselves with their own corrupt conduct and refusal to abide by democratic norms.

Here is some chalk art from Thomas Paine Square, on Friday at the protests.

Six Days on the Road

I got home after midnight, so it might even qualify as seven days -- I was just about five hours short of seven full days, in fact. I'm back home now.

The big lesson of the DNC is that it was exactly unlike the RNC on the question of real democracy. The RNC was chaotic in the hall, but eventually followed the will of the voters against the party elites, as you will remember.

The DNC ran exactly the other way. Everything that happened at the DNC was designed to create the greatest possible show of unity, in the face of a massive revolt by the rank and file voters.

There was a big walkout of Bernie delegates on Tuesday. It's not clear how big, because the media spent more time debunking numbers that were too big (in order to suggest that there was really nothing to the story at all). Reports of up to 700 walkouts are probably overstated. Reports of 150 -- which is around three times as many as the Dixiecrat walkout of 1948 -- might not be unreasonable. I met a number of delegates in the protest areas, and heard more of them speak. The cameras I saw didn't reflect the big number of empty seats.

Bernie Sanders himself was apparently pressed into trying to force his delegates to agree to electing Hillary Clinton by acclamation. That provoked a movement by the protesters to march on the convention on Tuesday afternoon, and was what apparently provoked the walkout -- after the delegates defeated that attempt, and had placed their votes against Hillary Clinton.

There were a lot of boos inside the building before the walkout on Tuesday, and fewer afterwards. In addition to just having fewer people to boo, though, I gather that the Democratic party installed noise machines designed to overwhelm the booers with fake applause. I didn't see that personally, but it would fit.

There were reports that the Democrats hired seat-fillers to fill the empty seats left by Bernie delegates. I saw a media report "debunking" that story too. OK. But I also met a rather drunk black man on the bus home Wednesday night who claimed, before I'd read any such stories or any purported debunking, to have spent the day in the convention hall in just that role, where he claimed to have met several leading Democrats during the course of the day. Now, he was trying to impress this girl he was hitting on at the time. Maybe he was making it up. Nevertheless, the stories he was telling lined up perfectly with the reports that the media was trying hard to debunk later.

I would just like to state that, in decades of being around many radical thinkers on both the left and the right, I have never heard such passionate profanity directed at Hillary Clinton as I heard from the progressives this week. I don't say that to condemn the progressives, who were badly cheated by this whole process. Their anger is righteous, even if it has indecent expression on occasion. (Another thing covered up by the media, I gather: you're supposed to think that hateful sexist language is the preserve of the right, but it was way more intense at the progressive protests this week than I've ever heard from a right-winger of any kind.)

Meanwhile, of course, the protests themselves were designed to erect another means of control that would prevent the DNC from being embarrassed on television. The protests were confined to 'free speech zones' at least some distance from the convention hall. The official protest groups bought access to the microphone by agreeing to be confined away from television cameras. Mostly, in return for submission to this system, they were left alone to say what they wanted to say. However, during the "Black Men for Bernie" protest -- which happened to occur the same afternoon that the last of the Freddie Gray charges were dropped -- the police invaded the "free speech zone" in force, with lots of zip cuffs at the ready.

It wasn't necessary. The Black Men for Bernie were furious, but they restricted their objections to the free speech they'd signed up to provide.

The only people who stormed the barricades were a band of anarchists on Wednesday night. There weren't enough of them to do more than create a spectacle, though, because every kind of cop in America was there in as large a number as could be provided.

The show of party unity you watched on television was just that: a show. The Democratic Party is going into this election divided like never before. They've brought it on themselves through corruption of their own electoral systems, as revealed by the DNC email leak as well as what is now multiple studies. The DNC chose to favor the interests of the powerful, rich, well-connected Clinton machine instead of obedience to a real democratic contest. They deserve to bear the consequences of that decision.

A Handmade Longbow

Neeman Tools, maker of hand-forged woodworking tools and knives, will soon be selling handmade longbows. Here's a great video they made of a bowyer crafting one.

The Birth Of A Weapon. Part I. English longbow making. from John Neeman Tools on Vimeo.

H/t Popular Mechanics