Happy Birthday, Royal Marines


The Royal Marines were formed in 1755 as the Royal Navy's infantry troops. However, the marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.

Update: 352 years, to be exact.

Today's Lesson in Mythology

As appropriate for the afternoon, let me introduce you to the goddess Nemisis, whose purview is "fair distribution of rewards." She is particularly tasked with pursuing those guilty of hubris, and making sure that whatever those guilty of hubris grasped at through the sin was paid for in fair measure.

She is associated with Tyche, better known -- and beloved -- as "Lady Luck."

DB: WWI Vets Overwhelmingly Support Clinton

Some 98 percent of ballots cast from the demographic have been from veterans who are registered Democrats.

“This is tremendous news for the Hillary Clinton campaign and for the Democratic Party,” said Donna Brazile, interim chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. “We knew that if we could get a strong turnout among the doughboy demographic, we could win this election.”

A Little Clarity about the Target Audience and Methods

In previous posts on persuasion, I've been sloppy with language and that's led to some confusion. I've also changed my mind on some things based on comments to my posts. I plan to continue writing about this, so I'm going to try to clarify a couple of things. I'll do that by answering these two questions:

When I post on persuasion, who am I talking about persuading? What do I mean by "persuasion"?

Some Non-Presidential Polls

Not all of the propaganda works all of the time. Two polls show that the American people have rejected two of the Left's beloved causes, gun control and BLM.

Note that the spike in people reporting "a great deal of respect for police" is highest among... liberals (+21) and Millennials (+19). But it's greater among non-white Americans (+14) than among whites (+11, although there's not much ceiling left there).

I still think that BLM had some valid complaints, although it was clear from the beginning that their chosen method of protest was certain to fail. You can't improve relations between a given community and the police by driving that community into lawbreaking confrontations that force the police to arrest them. It's unsurprising that things have turned out this way, except that it's surprising to see the swing so strong in exactly the demographics BLM targeted for its efforts.

I Endorse This Heartily

Scientists have recreated an ancient mead from 2,500 years ago

Dogfish head brewery in Delaware has done something like this with residues found in King Midas' (well, actually his father's) tomb and in 4000 year old Chinese pots.

Mankind. Brewing. You don't get one without the other.

There's Something You Don't Hear Everyday

"Everything conservatives predicted about Obamacare is coming true."
Well, and it has been for a while now. But you don't usually hear that admitted. Obama said we could keep our doctors and our plans if we liked them. That was not true. Obama said it would bring down costs thousands of dollars per family. Not only was that not true, costs are up substantially.

We also said it would destroy the health insurance industry and leave us subject to a government takeover -- a takeover that would be used to ram Nanny State social agendas down our throats. No smoking! No drinking! No motorcycle-riding! No gun ownership! All those things are too dangerous, and raise your prospective cost to the system too much. And since we are all paying for your health care now, we "all" have a right to demand that you live exactly as we prescribe that you should.

The Telos of a University

Jonathan Haidt's video on this topic, which I mentioned in a previous post, turns out to be excellent. It's 66 minutes long; I've watched it twice and plan on watching it at least one more time. Why should you?

He seems to assume he's talking to a Progressive audience, so his arguments are made to persuade them. That in and of itself is worthwhile if you plan to try to discuss issues with Progressives.

And he argues that:
  • gender is biological and real
  • "safe spaces" are damaging to the students they are supposed to protect
  • arguing sexism or racism solely from disparate outcomes is irrational
  • some goals of social justice are unjust
  • the telos of seeking truth and the telos of seeking social justice are incompatible for a university and, if both are sought equally, harmful to both truth and social justice

In the end, while he wants universities to publicly declare one or the other, he champions truth-seeking as the proper telos of the university.

More about Haidt below the fold.

Well, Obviously

Headline: "Aetna CEO Says Young People Pick Weekend Beer Over Obamacare."

So would I.

Power and Liberty: Separation versus Tension

The Declaration of Independence says:
[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., the securing of unalienable rights], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
When it comes time to do that, I hope that whoever has the charge of doing it will remember this lesson: separation of powers is not enough to guarantee liberty. What guarantees a space for liberty is not merely the separation of power, but a tension between the powers.

Consider, for example, AT&T's spying on the American people. "Hemisphere is a secretive program run by AT&T that searches trillions of call records and analyzes cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why."

There is a clear separation of powers between AT&T and the police. If you contract with AT&T, it has a certain power over your life because it gains access to a lot of information about you. Still, AT&T has no police powers.

The police, meanwhile, have no right to demand access to AT&T's proprietary information without a warrant.

Does this protect you? No, it does not: AT&T is happy to provide the police with everything it knows, secretly, in return for a cash payment (one that you are contributing to yourself as a taxpayer).

If the government were to nationalize the telecoms, it would lose access to this kind of spying. A nationalized telecom would have to justify its spying by warrant. By outsourcing this spying to a non-government agency, the government actually increases its powers.

So too with the "death panels," below. A nationalized single payer system would presumably have to respect the claim that you could not be denied life (or liberty or property) without due process. It might not be much better -- the VA's system simply delays the due process so long that you die anyway -- but the corporate/government alignment provides them with immediate access to a power that they could never get through Congress.

For now, the hope lies in an intensification of the tension between the states and the Federal government. There, where the powers have competing interests, there is a chance that some space for liberty will come to be between them. Tension between powers is the thing that really works.

Merely separating the powers, without a competitive tension between the powers, aggregates them just as certainly as a failure to separate them at all. Indeed, in these two examples of corporate/government collusion, the power of the state increases beyond what it could ever legitimately do should it seize the private body and run it as a formal arm of the state.

Death Panels

Remind me how stupid this idea was.
About one-year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s assisted-suicide bill into law....

Now, one young mother says her insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy treatment after originally agreeing to provide the fiscal support for it, but indicated it would be willing to pay for assisted suicide instead.
At some point, we're going to have to grapple with the idea that the government -- or, to be more sophisticated, this alliance of government and for-profit companies -- is evil by all traditional measures. Do we go along with the new ideas, redefining the good as if it were a matter of convention? Or do we deal with the government as harshly as we would with a genuine evil?

It's a serious philosophical question, one going back to Protagoras and Socrates. Is man the measure of all things, or is there some god whose opinion rules? Even if the god is "Nature," you still get a kind of telos in which pursuit of life is the good: after all, all things that can pursue their own survival, and their own furtherance through reproduction. So, even if we reason from the squirrels and the trees of the forest, we get to this idea that life is the good.

The opposite of good is evil, is it not?

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Seriously, no commentary. Just roll the tape.
Aspiring United States Air Force pilots can skip the fitness test if they are transgender and in the process of transitioning, according to new protocol determined by military officials and made public last week.

Transgender pilots who are in the middle of hormone treatment won’t have to retake the exam, which includes pull-ups, pushups, and running, if they have already failed it — so long as the Air Force commander sees that the individual “tried to the best of their ability” to meet the standards associated with their preferred gender.


Steven DenBeste has died.

I didn't always agree with him (imagine that), but he was an important early voice in blogging that I read regularly when he ran the site at USS Clueless.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Good Point

Of 1,000 voters polled by Rasmussen Reports on October 18 and 19; 65% believe that Clinton broke the law with her use of a private server — and 53% believe that the FBI should have filed criminal charges.

Meanwhile, according to Sunday’s daily IBD/TIPP tracking poll, only 43% of voters support Clinton for president.
H/t Gateway Pundit, who points out that this means that more Americans want Hillary Clinton in prison than as President.

Nothing to See Here

Clinton ally donated half a million bucks to a political campaign... led by the wife of an FBI agent who was subsequently promoted and placed in charge of the Clinton investigation.

If it were the only such "little surprise," I suppose we could write it off as a coincidence. It is not, of course. Not hardly.

Final Military Times Poll: Trump Support Grows

Trump leads overall and with enlisted, among whom Clinton doesn't break 1 in 5 and finishes in a distant third place. Trump is narrowly in third place among officers, but Clinton isn't even a half percentage point ahead of Gary Johnson in that subset. Johnson is in second place among enlisted as well.

Female servicemembers look a lot like officers in their voting preferences: Trump is in third, but Johnson is the overall winner. Men prefer Trump.

As has been true in previous polls, support for Trump is strongest and for Clinton weakest among the Marines and the Army. She does better among the Navy and Air Force, but she is still behind Trump (who always wins) and, in the Air Force, also behind Johnson. She leads Johnson narrowly in the Navy, but remains a good distance behind Trump.
Both major parties remain largely unliked by the military. Nearly 83 percent of those surveyed said they are dissatisfied with Clinton as the Democratic Party’s pick to be president, and more than 65 percent said the same of Trump as the Republican nominee.

Only 4 percent of troops polled said they have abundant confidence that Clinton can lead the military as commander in chief. About 9 percent said the same for Trump. More than 60 percent of troops said they had little confidence either could.
One Marine corporal who responded to the survey wrote back, "No one seems to care that Hillary Clinton is directly responsible for leaking classified information. It's an embarrassment that she is on the verge of becoming president.”

Why Universities Must Choose One Telos: Truth or Social Justice

Jonathan Haidt has a very interesting article up at Heterodox Academy by this title.

The article itself is really just the bare outline of a talk he has given on this topic. You can watch a video of the whole talk, all 66 minutes of it, there if you like. I'm going to make time soon to do that.

Here is the introduction:

Aristotle often evaluated a thing with respect to its “telos” – its purpose, end, or goal. The telos of a knife is to cut. The telos of a physician is health or healing. What is the telos of university?

The most obvious answer is “truth” –- the word appears on so many university crests. But increasingly, many of America’s top universities are embracing social justice as their telos, or as a second and equal telos. But can any institution or profession have two teloses (or teloi)? What happens if they conflict?

As a social psychologist who studies morality, I have watched these two teloses come into conflict increasingly often during my 30 years in the academy. The conflicts seemed manageable in the 1990s. But the intensity of conflict has grown since then, at the same time as the political diversity of the professoriate was plummeting, and at the same time as American cross-partisan hostility was rising. I believe the conflict reached its boiling point in the fall of 2015 when student protesters at 80 universities demanded that their universities make much greater and more explicit commitments to social justice, often including mandatory courses and training for everyone in social justice perspectives and content.

Now that many university presidents have agreed to implement many of the demands, I believe that the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable.  Universities will have to choose, and be explicit about their choice, so that potential students and faculty recruits can make an informed choice. Universities that try to honor both will face increasing incoherence and internal conflict.

He follows this with an 8-point argument showing why universities must choose one telos.

UPDATE: The video is excellent. He is giving a talk at Duke University and argues that a university having more than one telos is harmful to everyone at the university, including those who are focused on social justice. I don't think I have ever seen a better presentation of conservative arguments to a progressive audience.

Also, if you are interested in recent changes at our universities or their future, I highly recommend it.

Healthy Dieting, Medieval Style

It was a lot harder to start a fad diet before the printing press, but there was a trade in ideas. One was the Regimen Sanitatus Salernitanum.
The Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum was created, allegedly, by famous doctors for English royalty and disseminated in the form of a poem. It recommends, very specifically, red wine, fresh eggs, figs and grapes. It has little to say about vegetables. In many ways, it’s the antithesis of today’s health fads—it celebrates wheat, emphasizes meat, and involves two significant meals, with no mention of snacking. Water is looked on with suspicion, and juice is nowhere to be found.

But from the 1200s through the 1800s, the Regimen was one of the most well known guides to health in Europe, at a time when the stakes of staying healthy were much higher than they are now. Getting sick could be a death sentence; this regimen promised to keep people well.
The author tried it out to see how it worked. The wine, in the ancient way, was diluted -- drinking raw water made it more likely you would get sick from things in the water, but diluting wine with it meant that the harmful effects of the wine were largely eliminated, while the beneficial effects remained.

There are some aesthetic differences:
One giant difference between diet advice of 1200s and diet advice now is that Salerno never mentions losing weight or keeping skinny. In fact, all the foods Salerno smiles on, the poem describes as “fattening.” When you’re liable as not to face a famine, or at least a food shortage, at basically any time, fattening is good.
In the end, the author consulted a modern specialist for advice.
How did it stack up from a modern point of view? I asked Andrea Grandson, a nutritional therapist who specializes in metabolic health, to go over the Salerno prescriptions with me. “It sounds very healthy, with eggs, wine, and broth,” she says. Eggs are a complete protein and one of the easiest to digest. Red wine is valuable for its resveratrol and antioxidants. Broths and stews extract the nutrients from the bones and organs of animals. “They were on the right track in terms of looking for nutrient density,” she says.

But, most importantly, she said, how did I feel? Was I sleeping ok? Did I feel an afternoon slump?

The truth is, I felt great eating this food. It was simple, hearty, and filling, but I never stuffed myself.

Apparently This Is For Real?

This image is part of a whole series of newspeak lessons in political correctness from a university I'd never heard of before. I gather that they intend them completely seriously and non-ironically, even the ones about "Shemales" and how "Just Kill Me" is insensitive because of suicide. (If you 'just kill me,' how is that a suicide?)

But get a load of this one:

Two things to notice here:

1) There is apparently no such thing as an objective judgment permitted: all judgments of a person's moral qualities are illegitimate applications of someone else's standards to another individual. I believe the academic way of saying this is: "To apply someone else's standards to an individual is to treat the judger as the subject whose experience and standards matter, while the judged is a mere object against which someone else's standards are applied." To treat someone else as an object is taken to be a kind of moral affront to that person, even though it's actually impossible to understand the world without the grammatical categories of subject and object. "No one must ever be treated as an object" is another way of saying "we must give up on describing the world."

2) Since there is no objective judgment, and all judgments must be subjective, there can be no judgment at all. Everyone is entitled to live life on his or her (or whatever's) own terms, without any moral weight being imposed on them from outside of whatever feels right to them.

I expect it is completely impossible to field a winning sports team on this model as you will not win if you cannot assert that players ought to push themselves and train harder and face whatever fears they have. That fact suggests that the Chico State administration are hypocrites. Presumably they don't adhere to this practice to the slightest degree when it comes to training their student athletes for competition, nor should they.

However, the suggestion of hypocrisy isn't needed to prove the case against them. The fact is that this whole set of posters is about teaching students to judge others. You can't apply someone else's standards to anyone? What about the guy who says "retarded"?

Hypocrites and fools are these. They not only don't believe in the standards they're advocating, they don't even know that they don't believe in them.

Dogs from Above

According to the article at Science Alert, this is part of an anti-poaching program in South Africa's Kruger National Park. I liked this bit:

And even though the school isn’t sure if dogs experience adrenaline rushes like human skydivers, they say their tails start to wag when they hear the helicopter.

"The dogs are exceptionally comfortable with skydiving," Eric Ichikowitz from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, who helped start the program, told National Geographic. "They know they’re going to work."

Looks like fun.