Being needed

Arthur Brooks talks about the worst part of poverty.
A few months into the program, I asked Rick, "How is your life?" and he said, "Let me show you." And he showed me an email from his boss: "Rick, emergency bedbug job, East 65th Street. I need you now."
I said, "So what?"
He said, "Read it again: 'I need you now.' That is the first time in my life anybody has said those words to me."

Another Government Shutdown

I guess we'll just have to get along without them, somehow or other.

Hägar the Horrible had a cartoon, years ago, where the little tax-man in his executioner's hood walked into the pub to announce to the assembled Vikings that the government was shutting down. When they throw up a cheer, he exclaims, "You're not supposed to be happy!"

Maybe not, but you'll excuse me if I don't mind particularly. I'm pretty sure we could do without most of what they do even if nobody else ever picked it up -- which somebody would, if it was something they missed. Aside from the military and a few other basic functions I think we could do without them. If I were Congress, I wouldn't get too cocky about us mourning for them and begging them back.

What Were Their Names?

AVI has a post up about the Kingston Trio. I mentioned that a particular favorite of my father's was the following song.



On a similar token, we went to see "12 Strong" this afternoon. A few Hollywoodisms aside, it's not bad. My wife said that she appreciated that they avoided the usual heavy-handed attempts to manipulate our emotions common to Hollywood films. When you start the film with 9/11, I guess you don't need them so much.

Fighting for Western Civilization and the Church


Yesterday morning’s Dennis Prager show had on as a guest Reverend Doctor William J. Slattery (Ph.D in philosophy, with a specialization in epistemology (the theory of cognition) at the Pontifical Gregorian University), to promote his new book "Heroism and Genius”.


In it, he is promoting the great names of Church history, and the heroism they exhibited in serving God and preserving and growing Western Civilization, as a model for priests in today’s world engaging in the fight for the preservation and elevation of Western Culture.
There’s even a chapter titled “Fathers of Chivalry: A New Type of Warrior”.
He also introduced me to a fine quote:
No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.”
-Thomas Carlyle

I’ll be ordering this book immediately.

Blaming Invisible Men

The least surprising headline I've seen lately, except that we haven't had a big mass shooting lately: "Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men."

This part of the argument was more surprising, but she doesn't I think realize what's surprising about it.
Men don’t just constitute almost all mass shooters in recent history; they are also responsible for the vast majority of gun-associated deaths in the country. Men own guns at triple the rate of women in the U.S., at 62 percent compared to 22 percent—and also commit suicide at nearly triple the rate of women.
Mass shootings are a very tiny percentage of shootings. Suicides make up two thirds of deaths from shootings. The problem she wants to talk about is small enough that it's hard to say much of use about it using statistics, because it's already an outlier; but the suicide problem is very much not an outlier. If gun deaths are a problem, then suicide is the main part of the problem.

What does it mean that men commit suicide at three times the rate of women? When we speak of other minorities (and men are, however slightly, a minority), a high suicide rate is considered a sign that society is oppressive towards them. Society is blamed for their suffering. Here, of coure, "Blame Men" is the answer because it is always the answer. They are at fault because of "toxic masculinity," which the author describes as not measuring up to the masculine ideal.

This means that nobody wants them. Maybe that's what's driving all the suicide -- and also some of the mass shootings.
Madfis also notes that many men who commit mass shootings tend to be those who have failed to achieve financial and romantic success in ways that our society values and accredits as “manly.” As a result, Madfis explains, men may feel emboldened to resort to violence to gain both revenge and some level of notoriety as compensation for being denied what they thought they were owed, or felt pressure to attain.
This is roughly parallel to the big discussion our culture is having about transgenderism, except that there the idea is that society is at fault for not wanting them -- for not accepting them just as they are. Here there is no similar move to try to find ways to embrace and extend love or respect or acceptance, even though it might really solve the problem. Certainly, it's supposed to be the solution for others who suffer from social rejection.

This, though, isn't a problem with men -- well, not straight men. It's a problem with women (and gay men). They generally don't tend to find unmanly men attractive.

Should they be retrained, or forced to pretend that they find unmanly men attractive? No one is suggesting it, and of course it's a useless and terrible suggestion. It does happen to be the suggestion being aimed at straight men where trans-women are concerned, of course, because it's always fine to force straight men to carry the blame for problems. But it's a terrible suggestion there, too, as well as an unworkable one. Nobody's going to be attracted to someone they just aren't attracted to, and it's unconscionable to suggest that they have a moral duty to yield themselves up sexually just because (or even though) it would mean a lot to someone else.

As far as I know, feminism doesn't really even have a sketch at an answer to this problem. "Toxic masculinity" is just an attempt to throw the problem of being unwanted back on the unwanted men, who are told that they shouldn't have to measure up. But even if they free themselves from any sense that they ought to measure up, and go around putting on dresses or whatever, still nobody they want is going to want them.

Being isolated like that must be miserable, and it's no surprise that it leads to suicide in many cases. Instead of blaming them, it might be worth at least trying on some sympathy for the bitter loneliness they must be experiencing day in and day out. Mostly they don't kill anyone else, after all. Mostly they just go home one day and kill themselves.

Indeed, the only thing I've read recently that even sounded a little bit like an answer to this problem came from Vox.
Inequality has been so much a part of the conversation — in terms of economic inequality, health care inequality, and educational inequality. This is probably overdue. But people don’t talk about inequalities in our access to intimacy and our access to sex. I don’t think we pay attention to the way in which, through no fault of their own, lots of people just have a lot of trouble finding partners.

They may be disabled. They may just not be conventionally attractive. They may be in situations, like prison or mining camps or something like that, where they can’t find people of the opposite sex. Or they may be gay or lesbian and they may be living in a small town in Alabama. There’s lots of ways in which people just don’t have access to any kind of sexual intimacy. I think that technology may not be as ideal as actually having a human partner, but I think, for many people, it’s better than nothing.
I happen to think that this won't solve the problem, as sex is a small part of the real issue of missing human intimacy. But at least it correctly identifies the problem, rather than resorting to the easy solution of blaming the men nobody wants for the fact that nobody wants them.

Conan Was Right

One of the conceits of the Robert E. Howard stories is that history has simply forgotten many ancient civilizations, which were far more technologically advanced than believed. He may well have been right about that.

Iceland's First Black Resident

Sounds like a fellow with an interesting story.
Hans Jonatan was born into slavery on a Caribbean sugar plantation, and he died in a small Icelandic fishing village. In those intervening 43 years, he fought for the Danish Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, lost a landmark case for his freedom in The General’s Widow v. the Mulatto, then somehow escaped to become a peasant farmer on the Nordic island.
Apparently he was the subject of an academic biography, if you're interested.

Briar Patch

Maybe this threat isn't aimed at Trump voters, whom I agree will probably not be much moved by it.

A Decent Act from the New York Times

The Grey Lady is taking one day off of its constant drum-beat to give a voice to the other side.

"'Mansplaining?' Nonsense, I'm a Democrat"

In fairness to Sen. Booker, 'mansplaining' is a stupid word; he's perfectly right that he should be able to be critical of a cabinet secretary regardless of sex. On the other hand, he wasn't at all fair or reasonable in his conduct at yesterday's hearing.

Ultimately his complaint came down to how unfair it was that the Secretary had produced the report on international terrorism that she had been directed to produce by a formal Executive Order, and not the report on white nationalist domestic terrorism that he would have preferred. He also objected to the fact that she didn't remember the President's use of a word he wanted to take offense to, such that her memory agrees with my Senator (David Perdue) rather than Senator Durbin (who has been known to lie through his teeth on occasion). What he wants is another Sally Yates, a woman who will refuse to do her job or carry out the President's orders, and then call him a racist after she is fired for nonperformance. Anything else? He'll scream at her and insult her publicly.

But that doesn't mean it's sexism. Maybe Sen. Booker would have treated Secretary "Chaos" Mattis exactly the same way, or White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. I mean, no doubt.

A Good Idea

There is a campaign calling itself "New California" that wants to separate the rural parts of California from the existing state. It's much easier to effect than secession, requiring only the consent of Congress and the state legislature. It is also a generally good idea for many states, not merely California.

Probably the biggest divide today is between the interests of big cities and the interests of everyone else. Almost everyone in America would be happier if they lived in a state which reflected the values of their community, and under a Federal government that was much less important. The 10th Amendment is the answer to the second half of that equation: if the Federal government does only what the Constitution says it should do, and the other powers devolve to the states or to the People as the 10th Amendment says that they should, then we don't have to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on a vast and diverse America.

That still leaves the problem that many states are dominated by a big city or a few big cities, whose interests are in grave tension with that of the rest of the state. A few states have big cities that are dominated by the rural majority, leaving them in a similar position.

The New California proposal solves the problem in a novel way. I think we should consider a similar solution in many other places. Perhaps we could do what William Gibson suggested, and combine the 'Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis' into a single state bordered by many rural states.

Parodies of the Day

The Resistance aids Darth Vader, via the Intercept.

Meanwile, DB: "Chelsea Manning hopes to become Senate’s first openly transgender disgrace."
“There have been many disgraceful senators,” said political analyst Rob Tembley. “In fact, there are many serving right now. Manning, however, would be the first openly transgender one.”...

“We need someone willing to fight,” Manning continues, referring to her inability to fight when her supervisor removed the bolt from her rifle after she was found in a cupboard in the fetal position.

Although the 30-year-old traitor with no advanced education is a historically unqualified candidate, supporters claim her emotional problems and mental instability make her a great fit for the current political climate.
It's a joke, kind of.

The Wild in Winter

Looking towards Roan High Knob

Spent the weekend in the border regions between the Cherokee and the Pisgah National Forests. It was fairly cold in the high country, single digits at nights. The stars are clear and bright when it gets that cold.

Two approaches

And as my husband points out, both countries are achieving their goals.

Vikings and Horned Helmets

Generally considered a myth, there turns out to be contemporary images of a man wearing a horned helmet from the Oseberg tapestries.
It seems like the figure with the horned helmet is leading the procession. He is somewhat larger than the others, something that may indicate his high status, and the figure is possibly portraying the god Odin....

The horned figure also appears in another textile fragment discovered inside the burial chamber. He is holding a pair of crossed spears in one hand facing a man wearing something that reminds of a bear skin. It is tempting to interpret the scene as Odin and a Norse berserker warrior (Old Norse: ber-serkir, meaning “bear-shirt”) who was said to be Odin’s special warriors.

The fragment also portrays a group of women bearing shields interpreted to be “shieldmaidens” (Old Norse: skjaldmær), women who had chosen to fight as warriors.
The article assumes the tapestry was capturing a myth, or a ceremonial costume.

A Fine Song for a Friday



If you made it through that, you're probably mad at me. But it's a fine song, just as I said, and so you'll perhaps forgive the shaggy dog story.

Besides, it's not bad advice. The part about the trusty bike, I mean.

"Treason"

On the one hand, I'm not sure that this rises to the level of 'treason.' It's not in the strict sense waging war on the Republic, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Even the latter phrase isn't meant to be construed lightly as 'doing things the enemy might like' or '...that might help the enemy,' but in concert with a war, actively aiding enemy agents. There's no war, at least not in the strictest sense.

On the other hand, it is a kind of coup against the elected government by what is sometimes called 'the Deep State,' and that could be construed as a waging of war on the Republic by certain members of the government.

Also on that same hand, it's a much more plausible charge of 'treason' than the ones that have been being leveled against Trump himself by the Left all this time: that he might have engaged in 'treason' by seeking to find out what Russia knew about Clinton corruption, for example. That's not war-waging against the Republic at all, and could even be said to be a kind of competitive good governance. The reason to have an adversarial politics is that everyone won't be cozy the way that the Clintons tried to be, but that instead things will be brought to light so the citizenry can hold the powerful to account.

I sometimes think that the charge the left really wants to raise isn't 'treason' but 'heresy,' only that they don't know how to frame that charge. What they really seem to mean is that Trump violates their basic ideas of what the Republic should be about. The recent pieces on Oprah as Priestess-Queen make clear the degree to which this is a more primal violation than treason: it is not really that the man has been disloyal to the state, but that he is a committed violator of their sacred ideals. Even if the worst things he'd been accused of was true, it would't be treason: it'd be unwise to take aid from Putin's intelligence officers in order to persuade voters to vote against Hillary Clinton, perhaps, but it would not be illegal. Yet this has always been treated as a capital crime by the President's enemies, intensely and passionately so.

We are getting closer to something. I wonder if all the go-along-get-along in the world among the comfortable establishment can avoid the powers being raised by these invocations.

Cats vs. Communists

Out in Austin, Texas, a young woman had an interesting idea for a business: open a coffee shop populated by her large cat collection, plus some cats who need adoption, and let customers pet the cats while they drink their coffee. Thus was born the "Blue Cat Café."

You might be surprised to learn that cats are compatible with a food service business, but apparently Texas law permits this. You won't be surprised to learn that a young woman caring for very many cats didn't have a ton of money with which to front a business, so she had to find a place with very reasonable rent for this operation. Thereby hangs a tale.



There is a longer version of the clip that opens that video, here:



Transcript: "You know, all you white people, you look really f'ing comfortable right now because you've got a small army of pigs to protect you. But they won't always be here. How does it feel to need a small army of pigs to protect you from the f'ing neighborhood?"

Notice that, in the first clip, the cafe owners confirm that 'they won't always be here' -- the police have told them that there will be no arrests nor prosecutions because they don't want to 'stir up more hate.'

Protest group 'Defend our Hoodz' has a Twitter account. They deny being involved in the vandalism, and raise counter-accusations that the young woman running the cat cafe has a racist brother she has subsequently invited to protect her establishment against these protests. 'Defend our Hoodz' are definitely Communists. They call for communal ownership of 'the land,' by which they mean all the properties in what they consider to be their neighborhood.

The Blue Cat has a Twitter account too. They are just as obviously progressives who consider themselves sensitive and loving. Peruse it for a moment and you'll discover it is full of rainbows, yoga, and women petting cats. One thing that the protesters are right about is that these are definitely "white people," in the sense of Stuff White People Like. But you push them, and you very quickly find the white people like her brother who form Nazi-themed weightlifting clubs ("the Liftwaffe").

Communists vs. Nazis, feuding over a cat-lady hipster cafe in Texas. Things like this don't really happen, do they?

John Hasnas: The Myth of the Rule of Law

The Barrister over at Maggie's Farm posted this the other day. Hasnas holds a JD and a Ph.D. in philosophy. His law review article "The Myth of the Rule of Law" argues that:

... 1) there is no such thing as a government of law and not people, 2) the belief that there is serves to maintain public support for society's power structure, and 3) the establishment of a truly free society requires the abandonment of the myth of the rule of law.
This is something I've often thought about as I've reconsidered my political beliefs over the last 20 years or so. I tend to agree on the first point for simpler reasons than Hasnas gives: People always make and enforce the laws. It's just a matter of which people and how. On the other hand, the government of law is an ideal to strive for, and I believe in the value of striving for unattainable ideals.

I don't know about his conclusions. Maybe we can hash those out in the comments.

Gorgeous Jupiter

It's incredible what a difference a close-up makes.

J. D. Vance Considering Senate Run

The man is most famous as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book that became very popular among coastal elites trying to understand the hinterland. That makes him a kind of celebrity candidate, in that he is really being considered for office on the basis of his fame as a cultural figure. On the other hand, it's not like he's a reality TV host or a talk show host: his fame depends on a set of ideas, set out and defended in book-length form.

I wonder how popular he would be with voters who are actually a part of the culture he discusses in his book. He was not entirely flattering to them. The opioid crisis suggests that some tough-love criticism is not out of order, but that doesn't mean that they'd like his analysis of just what he thinks is wrong with them.

Cliven Bundy Walks Free

The process is the punishment: he has not been free for two years, while the government tried to railroad him by withholding exculpatory evidence. But, at last, a Nevada judge has put an end to it.
A federal judge ruled Monday that the federal government may not retry Cliven Bundy and his sons after rebuking prosecutors for withholding evidence during their felony trial stemming from an armed standoff four years ago.... She said the attorneys were in violation of the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to disclose evidence that could be favorable to a defendant, and told them it wasn’t possible to proceed with the case.

On Monday, she dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning the government cannot retry the defendants. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," Navarro said.

It was yet another defeat for the federal government at the hands of the Bundy family, who have managed to elude prosecution in high-profile trials centered around standoffs with law enforcement over access to public land.

A Philosophy Professor Runs for Congress

Richard Dien Winfield is a Hegelian who teaches at the University of Georgia. He's running for the 10th District seat, which includes the college town of Athens and is thus an island of blue in a sea of red.

Here's his agenda.
1. GUARANTEED JOBS AT A FAIR WAGE
So that anyone who wants a job can get one with pay that truly reflects America’s rising productivity and prosperity

2. A SUPER MEDICARE FOR ALL
So that we all have access to quality care covering all needed physical, mental, and dental treatment without copays or deductibles

3. PAID FAMILY LEAVE, FREE CHILD AND ELDER CARE, AND $500 CHILD ALLOWANCES
So that no one has to make sacrifices to balance family and work

4. WORKER EMPOWERMENT AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Where employees have fair representation on corporate boards and collective bargaining so they have a say in decisions concerning work conditions, including equal pay, outsourcing, and automation

5. LEGAL CARE FOR ALL
To cover the expenses of all personal criminal and civil legal representation, so people can defend against discrimination, sexual harassment, wage theft, and more

WE CAN PAY FOR ALL THIS
By establishing a wealth tax on the trillions of dollars sitting idle in the coffers of the top 10%, instead of being invested productively in our economy
No, he's not kidding. Hegel's effect on Marx was no accident, perhaps: these are similar programs.

Long Live the King?

The New York Times runs a think piece on why the world needs more monarchies.

Tolkien and Kant both thought well of the concept of a monarchy, but the American tradition is not well-served by the idea. None of our political dynasties are a good fit: not the Kennedy family, absolutely not the Clinton crew, nor even the Bush family. I'm sure some people would love to appoint Barack and Michelle Obama as King and Queen of America, but others would greatly despise the idea. King Trump? His wife and daughter would be a good fit for the royalty they'd meet on state occasions, but people go nuts enough about having the Donald as first citizen, primus inter pares. Making him king is right out.

So, it's just a fun piece for a Sunday? Or what?

UPDATE: Queen Oprah? Americans might really vote for that, heaven help us.

Just use your fingernails

It's been a while since we stirred up the subject of automation and the loss of jobs:
The first cargo ship with McLean containers had set off in 1956 from the New Jersey port in Texas. The complete loading of the ship took 8 hours. An extremely short time in comparison with several days needed for the traditional method, and it was reduced shortly afterward by implementing better cranes and parallel unloading and loading of the ships at the same time. But McLean was only interested in one figure: the cost of transporting of one tonne of wares. In 1956, the cost was around $5.83. McLean’s ship Ideal-X managed to do the same for 15.8 cents per tonne.
This way, McLean overcame the first regulatory barrier constraining his containers from controlling the world. By far, this was not the last one. In the introduction, I mention the loaders and unloaders in the docks. These were the workers having one of the most dangerous occupations and generally passed it through generations. In many cities, these workers were having a distinctive social position, and, for example, in New York, not just anyone could reload a truck. This job was exclusive only for the members of a so-called group of “Public Loaders.”
This exclusivity was protected by various trade unions which dictated who could load, for how much, and what could be loaded and unloaded in a port. And this occupation became completely unnecessary with the arrival of containers.
It reminds me of the Milton Friedman story about watching laborers dig holes with shovels. When he asked why they weren't using back-hoes, his hosts explained that back-hoes were expensive but--even worse--they would put workers out of jobs. Friedman answered, "Why not take away their shovels and give them spoons?"

The Feast of the Epiphany

Also known as Three Kings' Day, the feast celebrates the revelation to the Magi that God was before them incarnate. The feast is often taken to be the end of the Christmastide. Some wait to remove decorations, though, until Candlemas.

Here is a famous hymn associated with the feast.



For another, one more time, the Reverend Horton Heat.

Star-splitting

Maggie's Farm puts up good verse:
You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me . . . .

Parris Island and the Bomb Cyclone


Image from an old friend.

UPDATE:

This one is from the Battery in Charleston, South Carolina.

Bedtime

I've read somewhere that a sort of biochemical traffic along the neurons or axons flows backwards during sleep (maybe something like this Scientific American article). This Atlantic article has interesting information about how little we know about what's going on:
If you needed more proof that sleep, with its peculiar many-staged structure and tendency to fill your mind with nonsense, isn’t some passive, energy-saving state, consider that golden hamsters have been observed waking up from bouts of hibernation—in order to nap. Whatever they’re getting from sleep, it’s not available to them while they’re hibernating. Even though they have slowed down nearly every process in their body, sleep pressure still builds up. “What I want to know is, what about this brain activity is so important?” says Kasper Vogt, one of the researchers gathered at the new institute at Tsukuba. He gestures at his screen, showing data on the firing of neurons in sleeping mice. “What is so important that you risk being eaten, not eating yourself, procreation ... you give all that up, for this?”
* * *
Sleep-inducing substances may come from the process of making new connections between neurons. Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi, sleep researchers at the University of Wisconsin, suggest that since making these connections, or synapses, is what our brains do when we are awake, maybe what they do during sleep is scale back the unimportant ones, removing the memories or images that don’t fit with the others, or don’t need to be used to make sense of the world. “Sleep is a way of getting rid of the memories in a way that is good for the brain,” Tononi speculates. Another group has discovered a protein that enters little-used synapses to cause their destruction, and one of the times it can do this is when adenosine levels are high. Maybe sleep is when this cleanup happens.

What a billionaire is like

Devin Foley ruminates on Trump's spat with Steve Bannon:
I don’t know what it is, but there is something about the guys who are billionaires that is very different from everyone else. To you and me, having $500 million is practically the same as being a billionaire. Even having $50 million or just $5 million is a lot of money to me and far more than anything I have. But here’s the thing, the guy with $500 million is just like the guy with $5 million and just like you and me, he will go to his grave scared that he’ll end up destitute in some filthy poorhouse at the mercy of a nurse-maid who hates life.
But not the billionaires. Yes, they care about their wealth, but they’re after something different at the point they have nine zeroes in the bank account. They’re oddly beyond money.
Of the ones I have met, they have been good men and shockingly frugal. They’re very interested in the interplay between ideas, people, and institutions. They’re looking for trends and rely on their gut instinct quite a bit. They have a small group they trust because they know that the vast majority of people around them, no matter all the nice things said, just want some of their money. They must be detached and insulated from the world, while still able to touch and feel it, they need to have their fingers in things just enough to get a sense of the trends and currents.
The most important thing you can be for a billionaire is honest. Flattery and awards work for other men, but the billionaire doesn’t need any of it. The rare gem for him is honesty.
I'm trying to remember if I've ever met a billionaire. Perhaps not. Many extremely wealthy businessmen, but no one truly over the top in wealth in the way Foley is describing, what I think of as "Bill Gates money."  I have at least worked with a number of wealthy guys who valued honesty more than flattery, and therefore were willing to put up with my egregious tactlessness, something I'd have done well to learn to control much earlier in life.  I shudder to think of the number of enemies I made for no good reason and without even being entirely aware of it at the time.

On the other hand, a lot of people probably benefited from my honesty.  I'm interested to see now whether it will play with local voters, who will have to be deeply concerned about opacity in local government in order to find it attractive in a candidate.

Thomases and Henries

Maggie's Farm pointed to a new website, Idlepost, where I found this rumination on Henry II, Thomas à Becket, Henry VIII, and Sir Thomas More:
Let me be plainer. The Covenant is not a collectivist arrangement. It is actually the opposite of a collectivist arrangement, and was so from the beginning. The true Christian teaching stands in anticipation of, and opposition to, the ideals of that “Reformation,” which worked themselves out as a spiritual as well as contractual relation between the People and the State (exalted in “Americanism”). The Covenant is instead with persons, both vertically in their relations with God, and horizontally in their relations with each other: cor ad cor loquitur. To love God and to love thy neighbour: that is the whole teaching. Everything follows from that.

How Does This Happen?

You'd think the scion of a political family of such influence would know better than to produce a headline like this.

Flyover country in Iran

John Ringo's perspective on the Iranian riots.

Full Service

When I was a child, my grandfather ran a service station in rural Tennessee. He'd retired after a long career: welder, working on the atom bombs at Oak Ridge during WWII, then owning a service station for long-haul trucks in the early days of I-75 near Knoxville. He didn't like retirement very much, so after his retirement he bought a smaller service station within walking distance of his house and ran it mostly to keep himself busy. He did light work, oil changes and tire repair, and sold gasoline.

One of the things he offered was "full service," although even in those days it was an option. If you pulled up to the pump closest to the station, you ran over a pressure device that set off a bell inside. He or one of his employees would come out, pump your gas for you -- as much as you wanted, by dollar or by gallon -- and while they pumped it they'd wash your windows, check your tire pressure, clean your headlights, things like that. Though I was a child, he'd often let me do the parts of it that I could do, which I thought was great fun at the time.

Apparently this kind of thing still exists in Oregon. They're very alarmed that it's becoming optional. I hadn't heard of it in years.

The Year of Breaking Things

Often we have spoken about the dangers of ossification to bureaucracy, following Joseph Schumpeter. The usual way this gets solved is through competition, where new and more agile firms break off pieces of the business of giants like IBM. But it turns out there's another way:
The press is doing a good job of telling us what he accomplished in 2017. But they keep leaving out all the stuff he broke that probably needed to be broken. I’ll fix that for you here.

GOP – Trump broke the GOP and reconstructed it along his terms, successfully it seems.

DNC – The DNC has no charismatic leader, no game plan, and little money.

Clinton Dynasty – Done

Bush Dynasty – Done

Mainstream Media – The public learned that news coverage is based on bias as much as fact.

NFL – Ratings down, attendance down.

FBI (leadership) – The FBI as a whole is still highly credible, but the leadership is not.

Pundits – Nearly all the pundits were wrong about Trump’s nomination, election, and successful (by Republican standards) first year.

Government Regulations – For good or bad, we have fewer regulations now.

Hollywood – Big stars are alienating 40% of their potential audience whenever they take time off from groping.

North Korea – They used to have a pathetic but functioning economy. That situation is changing rapidly.

ISIS – Remember ISIS? They used to be a big deal.

TPP – Pulled out

Paris Climate Accord – Pulled out
That's a good point. What else needs to be broken for the good of us all?

Go, Mighty Bulldogs

If you didn't catch the Rose Bowl tonight, you missed perhaps the finest game of football ever played.