Ukraine Shuffle

So, the latest thing that is definitely going to lead to impeachment according to Twitter is this story that Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son. I am pretty sure the real corruption is the way Biden used his position and US money to derail the investigation in the first place. Am I missing something? It’s wrong to try to undo a corrupt act of a prior administration if it might benefit you politically?

Stripping Words

The Oxford English Dictionary, compiled in part by Tolkien, is asked to strip out offensive words. Offensive to whom? Guess.

Probably Wasn't Going to Vote for Her Anyway

Elizabeth Warren doesn't like men?
Elizabeth Warren made the political calculation this week that she doesn’t need men to win the presidency.

“We’re not here today because of famous arches or famous men,” she told a rally in Washington Square Park Monday night.

“In fact, we’re not here because of men at all,” she said, emphasizing the “m” word like an expletive....

Immediately before saying “we’re not here because of men,” she dissed George Washington and the beautiful Tuckahoe marble arch that bears his name.

“I wanted to give this speech right here and not because of the arch behind me or the president that this square is named for — nope.”
I mean, I can half get why she thinks it's fine to run down Washington, him having been a slave-owner and all. It's dumb, running for the office he dignified and for which he set the terms. Still, in the current moment, it makes a kind of perverse sense.

Why expand the complaint from 'slave-owner' to 'man,' though? That's alienating to a lot of your potential voters.

Perfect


Three faces of fracking

Per Glenn Reynolds:  Because of fracking, (1) the U.S. is suffering only a moderate fuel price shock from the Saudi oil-field strike, (2) China is losing $97 million a day from the same, and (3) while "the U.S. Navy used to have to keep the straits of Hormuz open. Now it only has to be able to close them."

A Few Small Matters Have My Attention

I’m a little behind this week. Tex is doing a great job running the place, with an assist from Tom. I’ll get back with you soon.

Jim Webb: Soldiers without a Country

Sen. Webb tells the story of the burial of 81 ARVN paratroopers in California:

On Friday, a U.S. Air Force aircraft will carry the commingled remains of 81 airborne soldiers of the former South Vietnamese Army from Hawaii, where they have been stored in a military facility for more than 33 years, to California. On Oct. 26, there will be a full military ceremony honoring their service in Westminster, often known as Little Saigon, where tens of thousands of Vietnamese Americans now live. 

This will be a unique occurrence because their names might never be known and because they were soldiers of an allied army. Following the ceremony, these forgotten soldiers will be laid to rest under a commemorative marker in the largest Vietnamese-American cemetery in our country. 


Hanoi declined to take them.

One of the best speeches I ever heard in person was from a former ARVN infantry colonel when the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall came to OKC. That city has a large Vietnamese American community established by refugees from the war.

By the end of that speech, I think half the men in the crowd were ready to go back over and try again.

I'm glad these paratroopers will finally be laid to rest on free soil, even if it isn't in their own country.

What's this "we" jazz, paleface?


Related:


Counter drone world

This isn't going to get any prettier.

Mate selection

No one knows how long DNA has been around, but a confident guess would be some billions of years.  In all that time, it's been trying, in the anthropomorphic sense that leads us to inject purpose into the process of natural selection, to perfect ways of projecting itself from one cell or organism to another, the definition of evolutionary "success."  In the case of sexually reproducing species that go to some trouble finding suitable mates, that has led to a bewildering variety of mating displays and strategies for selecting genetically suitable partners.  In humans, that sometimes includes what we call courtship and marriage.

So what could go wrong with a social trend toward pairs of infertile parents choosing to reproduce with sperm donated by strangers?  Maybe a gay couple, fertile individually but obviously not with each other--with apologies for my ableist bias.  Maybe a gay couple who prefer to buy anonymous sperm from a respectable laboratory with the latest in foolproof genetic screening protocols.  Who says you should get to know anything about the father of your child that can't be read off a medical chart that included the results of a scientific personal interview?

And if the resulting babies have financially crippling special needs, and your union isn't strong enough to hold up under the pressure, who says stuffy old principles about lifelong marital fidelity and loyalty to children are any more workable when couples have a reproductive sexual bond and a genetic relationship to their own children?  Just sue the sperm bank for not giving your reproductive choices the attention they deserved.

Range

David Epstein is out with a book countering Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000," arguing that starting early and practicing endlessly in a narrow range is not the path to all excellence:
David Epstein examined the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields--especially those that are complex and unpredictable--generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They're also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see.
Robert Heinlein famously said that specialization was for insects, but we also know that dabbling is for dilettantes.  Epstein and Gladwell are lining up on either side of the long-running dispute over the purpose of education:  should our children be drilled in facts and techniques, or should be we planting 1,000 seeds in virgin soil and confidently awaiting decades of creative flowering?

"Complex and unpredictable fields" are just what most people aren't going to master. The students who will master them may need a completely different kind of education from what an aggressively leveling public school is equipped to provide, particularly if it's staffed by administrators and teachers who have never mastered a complex or unpredictable field themselves, relying instead on legislated job security and a monopolist's command of the public funding teat.

Schools need to provide a fair shot for all young comers, but the good they can do for some students won't be much like what they can do for others.  Epstein's generalists are probably soaking up basic facts and techniques so easily that teachers barely had a role in the process.  The teachers won't do their average students any favors by skipping the ABCs and hoping for a brilliant synthesist to emerge after years of impoverished job-hopping.

This means war for someone

Best tank up. Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels claim credit for taking out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production (5% of world production) in a drone strike this weekend. Good thing U.S. energy production has soared in the last couple of years.

Robert Burns

And now for a break from ranting:



Fleeting moments of clarity

The New Neo reports on George Packer's description of the moral dilemmas of parents trying to run their kids through public wokeschool.  Packer wants to stay in the fold, but now and then a bit of cognitive rigor intrudes:
Adults who draft young children into their cause might think they’re empowering them and shaping them into virtuous people (a friend calls the Instagram photos parents post of their woke kids “selflessies”). In reality the adults are making themselves feel more righteous, indulging another form of narcissistic pride, expiating their guilt, and shifting the load of their own anxious battles onto children who can’t carry the burden, because they lack the intellectual apparatus and political power. Our goal shouldn’t be to tell children what to think. The point is to teach them how to think so they can grow up to find their own answers.
I wished that our son’s school would teach him civics.
Then he goes back to Trump-bashing.
Packer is sad and he’s bewildered. He doesn’t really know how this all came up, doesn’t connect the dots, and he doesn’t know what to do. The idea that the right has some answers never really occurs to him. I sympathize with him in his struggle, and wonder where it may ultimately lead. At the moment, the cognitive dissonance is fierce.

Destroying humanity to save it

This kind of nonsense would be chilling even if it were not based on a transparent attempt to use ignorant pseudo-science as an excuse to flog one's cultural enemies into submission:
I’m talking, of course, about climate change ... every one of the world’s major polluting countries institute draconian conservation measures, shut down much of its energy and transportation infrastructure, and completely retool its economy ... overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it ... Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, they have to think about death.
I don't need to accept anything of the sort without revolting.

 

Blow this case wide open

Andrew McCabe reportedly has threatened to take them all down with him.  Go for it, Andy.

Loss of accustomed impunity

It's a loss that leaves people sputtering.

Hot, smoking conscience

From "How the Great Truth Dawned":
Many, including Solzhenitsyn, took the next step and accepted God. Why not remain an atheist who believes in an absolute moral law? Here again we must understand the thought-shaping power of Russian literature, particularly Russia’s specialty, the great realist fiction of ideas. Great novels test ideas not by their logical coherence, as in academic philosophy, but by the consequences of believing them.
* * *
Thinking novelistically, Solzhenitsyn asks: how well does morality without God pass the test of Soviet experience? Every camp prisoner sooner or later faced a choice: whether or not to resolve to survive at any price. Do you take the food or shoes of a weaker prisoner? “This is the great fork of camp life. From this point the roads go to the right and to the left. . . . If you go to the right—you lose your life; and if you go to the left—you lose your conscience.” Memoirist after memoirist, including atheists like Evgeniya Ginzburg, report that those who denied anything beyond the material world were the first to choose survival. They may have insisted that high moral ideals do not require belief in God, but when it came down to it, morals grounded in nothing but one’s own conviction and reasoning, however cogent, proved woefully inadequate under experiential, rather than logical, pressure.

Don't Cuss the Fiddle

Ovid Remains Provocative

This is an interesting interview that makes some good points about the timidity (to the point of dishonesty) of 19th century translations. Along the way, though, it provokes an astonishing admission from one of the interviewees.
And also [Ovid's Metamorphoses is] about the only real subject—it’s about power, and it’s about how power transforms, and that is almost the only interesting thing in the world, you know?
Well. I wish the young lady the opportunity to discover some of the other interesting things in the world, but ultimately that will be up to her to decide to pursue or not. Still, how sad -- how shocking -- how impoverished! It is sorrowful to think that someone might say that and mean it.

Still and all, it is an interesting interview. There's a lot of ground it doesn't explore, but exposes for those who might be more interested in it. Ovid remains worth reading, in part because he challenges us to consider a sexual morality so very different from our own. These are, after all, gods engaged in all this sexual violence; and humans, especially women, are expected by the moral order of the universe to suffer it. Yet the people, even the women, are not at all innocents, also engaged in brutal and extractive power, and the Victorians hid that too.
...Let’s talk about Leucothoe. You wrote about that so beautifully; let’s get into the specifics, word by word. That’s another story that stuck with me and flared back to life again when all the Weinstein stuff happened. The sun god comes in while everyone’s weaving; she’s with her friends.

SM: She’s spinning with her slaves, in fact—

JT: Oh f***. God. [Laughs]
They don't discuss Medusa, one of the most famous of the metamorphoses, but it's just as strange to our eyes. Ovid has Perseus recount the story of how she became a Gorgon.
They say that Neptune, lord of the seas, violated [Medusa] in the temple of Minerva. Jupiter’s daughter [i.e., Minerva/Athena] turned away, and hid her chaste eyes behind her aegis. So that it might not go unpunished, she changed the Gorgon’s hair to foul snakes.
Athena is one of the virgin goddesses. Somehow Medusa being raped in her temple violates her, Athena's, sense of modesty or chastity. Medusa is punished for this violation of Athena's sensibilities, even though it was a god who was acting on her against her will. Neptune, of course, is not punished; he is immortal, as beyond human morality as he is beyond human mortality. Medusa is horribly transformed to punish her for offending the gods, but there was no way for her not to offend.

In a way this is worth exploring less in terms of raw power, or even in terms of male and female archetypes, than in terms of the relationship between the human and the divine that the Romans experienced. The divine are not human in a surprising way, given that we often think of the Greco-Roman gods as being anthropomorphic. The Judaeo-Christian God, though ultimately all-powerful to a degree that makes even ordinary language inapplicable except equivocally, turns out to have a more direct relationship to human morality. As we see in Sodom and Gormorrah, Abraham can argue with him and prevail. As Jesus, there is a capacity for perfectly human pity and engagement. The God Neptune, the Sea, is not human but only looks human. The Sea does with humans whatever it wishes, on whatever inscrutable whim, and they alone suffer for it.

But the sea is one of the beautiful things, and one of the interesting ones. It is not only its power that makes it so, though its power can be awesome to behold.

Westerns

Someone asked me to name the two best Western movies ever made. That's an impossible task. There are so many outstanding Westerns, a list of a hundred would leave out some very worthy nominees. Among the very best ones, it is probably not possible to fairly rank them.

Nevertheless, I complied, naming one Western that is for my money the perfect true Western; and one that is of the revisionist mode that has been more popular since the later 1960s.

1) Hondo.

2) Once Upon a Time in the West.

Here follows a defense of these choices, as well as a laying out of what I take to be several plausible alternatives.

Classic Westerns:

Probably most people, asked to pick a single exemplar of the genre, would have named either Shane or High Noon. Both are excellent films, although if you are going to watch High Noon, you should really also watch Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo, which was made as a direct response to it; Hawks thought High Noon was flatly unAmerican. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is another that could be named as a kind of summary of all that has gone before, introducing a criticism but still honoring the past. There are plenty of other plausible entries, such as The Oxbow Incident.

There has also been a small but worthy group of more contemporary Westerns in the classic mode, especially Tombstone and Open Range. They deserve to be mentioned, even though I would tend to select something from the classic era as the pinnacle of the form.

For me, though, Hondo is the perfect Western. It stars John Wayne, as the quintessential American Western ought to do. (So does Rio Bravo, and after a fashion Valance). It was based on a story by Louis L'amour, as the quintessential American Western ought to be. The character is perfect: virtuous and autonomous, he stands on his own two feet and respects the autonomy of others even when he strongly disagrees with them. He is quick to offer a hand, but never does for another to such a degree that they cease to be independent themselves. Though it is a 'cowboy and Indians' movie, Hondo makes enemies among both kinds of folks, and friends among both kinds of folks, and it shows the Apache fairly and indeed positively. Hondo is a perfect statement of what the Western, in its classic era, did best.

You can and should watch more than just one of these movies; watch as many as you can. If I had to name one classic era Western as the pinnacle, though, it would be Hondo.

Revisionist Westerns:

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance might actually fit here as much as in the classic genre. It definitely begins the revision and re-examination of the genre that is more completely done elsewhere. Some other great names, which some might think of first, include Peckinpaw's The Wild Bunch, Leone's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and Eastwood's Unforgiven. All of these are worthy choices.

I picked Once Upon a Time in the West for two reasons. The first is that Sergio Leone took everything he learned from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly and applied it more seriously here. The second but more important reason is that Once Upon a Time comes to a deep metaphysical insight into the human condition that plays out over the course of the film. It is made explicit by the dialogue right before the final gunfight. I think the conclusion is true; and if so, the golden age we have been living in was always going to end. Maybe it isn't true; but if it isn't, there won't be room for men in the golden world to follow.

Revisionist pictures are at their best when they learn the lessons of the old form, and draw deep conclusions that advance our understanding. Of the others I named, Eastwood's Unforgiven does this best; but the conclusion is not that different from Leone's. Indeed, if anything, Leone sets it out in starker terms.

SSGT David G. Belavia

A good speech by the Medal of Honor recipient after his induction into the Hall of Heroes.


Appropriate for 9/12, I think.

Enid & Geraint

By custom and tradition, Grim's Hall will have no posts on September 11th except a republication of this poem.
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.

Obstruction of Injustice

If this is true, well, the "Obstruction!" thing was built around Trump's allegedly attempting to protect Michael Flynn on 'the Russia thing.'
A bombshell revelation was barely noticed at National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s hearing Tuesday, when his counsel revealed in court the existence of a Justice Department memo from Jan. 30, 2017 exonerating Flynn of any collusion with Russia.... the existence of such a memo calls into question Comey’s actions both when he met with Trump privately and when he wrote his personal memos recanting the meetings. If the Jan. 30, 2017 DOJ Flynn memo does exonerate Flynn, then it will call into question Comey’s actions when he had the private meetings with Trump. Why didn’t Comey reveal to Trump that DOJ found no evidence that Flynn was an ‘agent of Russia’ when he met Trump at the White House on Feb. 14 meeting? Why were the stories about Flynn, along with classified information regarding his phone conversations with the former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, leaked to the Washington Post in January, with a followup in early February? Remember, the information was leaked by senior government officials, according to the author and columnist David Ignatius. Ignatius said that senior officials accused Flynn of violating the Logan Act, even worse conspiring with Russia.

Further, new information that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe advised that there was no Logan Act violation, along with the DOJ internal memo of Jan. 30 that Flynn ‘was not an agent of Russia,’ was enough information for Comey to advise the President that Flynn had been cleared of any wrongdoing. Instead, Comey claimed obstruction of justice by the President.
Obstruction of injustice is surely not wrong, although I suppose it might be a crime even if it is morally correct. Flynn is looking to be owed a huge apology by this nation, and the FBI and DOJ need to be disbanded if this level of corruption proves true. We might have to replace the DOJ with something, but I think we can just learn to do without a secret police.

Fake News Today

MS: "List: More Honest Latin Mottoes for your Overrated University."

DB: "Islamic State Joins UN Human Rights Council."

BB: "Insane Guy Shouting He'll Buy Back Your Stuff With Your Own Money Becomes Popular Democratic Candidate."

Family History

Robert Mitchum sings a version of "Thunder Road," a movie he starred in as the outlaw driver.



It's a song that always makes me think of home. My family was not tightly involved in the moonshine trade, but my grandfather -- who was a welder -- did make moonshine stills during Prohibition, as it coincided with the Great Depression and still-welding work was the sort of thing people would pay for when there wasn't much other work to be had. He and my father also worked on the Tennessee muscle cars, and all other sorts of automobiles, that might have transported the stuff.

Mostly, though, it's the geography of the song: Asheville, the Cumberland Gap, Knoxville's Kingston Pike, and the mountains in between them. On the other side of the family, my mother is from Bearden. I get over there from time to time to see my favorite cousin. They're definitely not moonshiners, mom's folk: I think they're all teetotaling Baptists. But it's a connection in the song, all the same.

A Campaign Slogan

I'm not endorsing Trump, although the alternatives at this point are pretty ugly (excepting Major Gabbard, who is becoming more appealing by the day, although also not gaining in the polls as much as she deserves to do). If I were to advise him or his campaign, though, this is the slogan I would recommend he adopt:

"Trump 2020: Peace and Prosperity."

Then see if you can live up to it.

"The Capitalists Are Afraid"

Common Dreams is dreaming again. It may be a nightmare, actually.
The capitalists are determined to protect their wealth. They are determined, and probably able, to block left-leaning candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders from obtaining the Democratic nomination for president. But they are also aware that politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden who have spent their careers serving corporate power are harder and harder to sell to the electorate. The mendacity and hypocrisy of the Democratic Party are evident in the presidency of Barack Obama, who ran as an outsider and reformer in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. Obama—whom Cornel West called “a black mascot for Wall Street”—callously betrayed the party’s base.
The piece ends with a prediction of 'monstrosities worse than Donald Trump,' which makes me think it must be the author who is afraid.

A Robert A. Heinlein Sort of Day

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."
I didn't do all those things just today, but it was a day filled with a wide variety of actions. None of them were especially enjoyable, and some were strenuous, but all in all I do feel as if I have expressed a wide range of human action. I did butcher a top sirloin, and made a pretty tasty meal out of one part of it, paid quarterly taxes and dealt with bank accounts, hoisted felled trees, bucked them into logs with a chainsaw, and then split and stacked those logs under shelter against the winter. I finished a professional paper and brokered a deal, one in which I have none but a patriotic interest. I taught a young person a thing or two that will be of use as they move on through life, and comforted a friend whose family is putting itself through unnecessary stress.

I also drove a stick shift, and I made my wife smile, but I do those things most every day.

There's a First Time for Everything

Apparently to include "belonging to a government-designated domestic terrorist organization."
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorism organization” due to its opposition to more stringent gun-control legislation.... The resolution accuses the NRA of not only resisting legislative reforms that its drafters believe would help curtail the country’s “epidemic of gun violence,” but also of “incit[ing] gun owners to acts of violence.”... The resolution also declares the Board’s intent to “limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization.”
'Greetings, fellow terrorists!'

It's bad enough that the SPLC has been designating fairly mainstream organizations and individuals as 'extremists' or 'hate groups.' Now it's actual government entities, albeit so far not very powerful ones. The penalty for being a 'domestic terrorist' is so far limited to San Francisco businesses being encouraged not to do business with you -- which I suppose means encouragement not to employ members of the NRA. That's a violation of freedom of association that is probably incapable of surviving a court challenge even in the 9th circuit.

Still: what a day for American political rhetoric!

Bee Stings

Biden Claims He Was There 3,000 Years Ago When Isildur Took The Ring And The Strength Of Men Failed

Catholic School Cures Harry Potter Fans By Forcing Them To Read JK Rowling's Twitter Feed

Antifa Unveils New Pumpkin Spice Molotov Cocktails For Fall Protests

Cthulhu Releases Tell-All Book From Time Within Trump Administration

Common sense gun solutions


Never Go Full "1984"

Drudge is leading with some reports today that suggest the administration is considering some radical moves. One of the links is to Infowars, so this may be over the top reporting; but it's worth underlining just how bad an idea it is.

On American Men

Some ladies on Facebook I know were sharing this, which I appreciate.
“Let this sink in for a minute.....Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Florida.

Almost all of them driven by men. They're using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.

Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-used gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there's a preponderance of camo....

...they'll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They'll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.

When disaster strikes, it's what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they'll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they've never met before, and talk about fish or ten-point bucks.

And the next time they hear someone talk about "the patriarchy", or "male privilege", they'll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.

In the meantime, they'll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work's done.

They're unlikely to be reimbursed. There won't be medals. They won't care. They're heroes. And it's what they do.

Mind Your Business

Yet another thing about which Justice Sotomayor and I disagree.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said that the seed for what has become her latest children’s book was planted the day a woman called her a drug addict.

Sotomayor , who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, had gone to the bathroom of an upscale New York restaurant to give herself an insulin shot. She was in her 30s but hiding her diabetes. Another diner came in and saw her and later, as Sotomayor was leaving the restaurant, she heard the woman tell a companion: “She’s a drug addict.”

Outraged, Sotomayor confronted her, explaining that the shot was medicine, not drugs: “If you don’t know something, ask, don’t assume,” Sotomayor said.
I would have thought that the problem wasn't the making of assumptions, but the injecting yourself into someone else's business. Most people would find it intolerably rude for someone to 'just ask' about private issues, which medical ones tend to be; they also object, reasonably, to people gossiping about them. The right thing to do is to be aware that there can be other-than-bad explanations for things you observe, and to let people be. 'Don't ask, don't tell,' to borrow another phrase that the Left generated.

A relevant musical interlude:

Paglia Again

She's always interesting and usually fun as well. The WSJ has an interview.

Stratospheric Warming

Apparently the Antarctic is a whole lot warmer than usual this year -- at least, way, way up.

So does that mean hotter weather lower down? Apparently not.
These events are significant, as the warming and the disruption of the polar vortex eventually makes its way down to the troposphere and can cause a change in weather patterns. It can bring colder weather and snow into lower latitudes, for example, Australia and New Zealand....

These events will also influence the annual growth of the ozone hole over Antarctica. Warming of the stratosphere should limit its growth, and we might see a smaller ozone hole this year. It will depend on the longevity of these events.
So, colder weather and a smaller ozone hole?

Not a fish storm

Dorian turned out to be a real monster, still sitting on top of the Bahamas with inconceivably high winds, barely moving.

The pictures from yesterday evening before it got dark reminded me of the awful vistas here from two years ago, with all the blasted trees.  The trees do come back, though, given time.  Ours are still funny-looking and will be for a few more years, but this is the difference two years can make, September 1, 2017, to September 1, 2019.  The first picture is after the tree-removal crew was here for a day and a half clearing the driveway with chainsaws and tracked vehicles.




Bouncing off highs

With any luck, Dorian could turn out to be a fish storm: those tracks keep drifting east.  Even my neighbors with a nervous eye out on their upcoming trip to D.C. may luck out.  As my husband says, get ready for a lot of frantic TV anchormen urging everyone to watch out for rip currents, the last refuge of a disappointed weather program producer.


There's still that interesting green model that wants the storm to do a loop-de-loop over Okeefenokee, and the standard "what if it just never turns again" reality-check model, with Biloxi in its sights.

This time of year the relentless bright sunny hot days get a little old, but I'll say one thing for them:  if you have a high-pressure area parked over you, you're not getting a hurricane.

Wretchard: China's Communists vs. Western Elites

It's closer than it ought to be.
As Gilder notes "In a just system of growth, business must be open to bankruptcy as well as to profit. When government puts its thumb on the scales of justice, manipulating money through guarantees and other exercises of power designed to stimulate economic growth or protect assets, it stultifies this learning process." He says that like it's a bad thing -- which it is -- but politicians are falling all over themselves to do it.

Such a system can determine who gets a bailout from the Fed and who gets a diploma from de Blasio's diversity schools but generates little information about who can turn a profit and which students will be the next Einstein. By destroying the measuring stick, defining money as a function of government decisions and competence as a consequence of political correctness, the Western elites have created an artificial, gradually shrinking world.
Wretchard is always worth reading.

Ranger School

It was all true, and then some.
...she lost a member of the platoon. In fact, the missing soldier was so thoroughly separated from the rest of his platoon that the RIs had to shut down the entire mission, telling the platoon to go to sleep where they were while the RIs searched for the missing candidate. The platoon never had the chance even to attempt its assigned mission. But the candidate who had served as platoon sergeant, despite a failure in her performance that ended the mission, received a passing grade.

...

Ranger Instructor 1: Female got a “go” last night. I was out there. She shouldn’t have. But it happened and [redacted]

Ranger Instructor 2: Why did she get a go then?

Ranger Instructor 1: I was out there until actions on [that is, the raid or ambush the platoon was supposed to conduct]. Never happened because they missed their hit time. 1SG recocked them [that is, reset the mission conditions and gave them the chance to start over]. That never happened because she gave abad head count three times. We finally realized their [sic] was a missing student.

Ranger Instructor 1: Had to lock the [platoon] down and find this kid.

Ranger Instructor 3: That’s a definite go haha


...

Ranger Instructor B: It’s all [b*******]. On 8-35 [the mission they were on], they walk [sic] the road back into camp under RI control [that is, RIs took over from the candidate leadership and led the platoon to its destination on an open road rather than through the woods]

Ranger Instructor B: And lost a Ranger


...

An RI with firsthand knowledge of the candidate’s evaluation explains, “During clearance of the [objective], she lost control of her squad, leading to fratricide” (i.e. leading to what would have been a friendly-fire incident if live rounds were being used in a non-training environment.) Understandably, this normally earns a failing grade (an “immediate no-go”). But it didn’t here.
This was, remember, the third attempt for these three would-be Rangers; they'd already failed out twice before. On the third go-round, word came down that they were to be passed even in spite of massive and potentially fatal errors.

The author adds, "It is important to emphasize that those whom I interviewed expressed admiration for the graduating females’ grit and perseverance and were not critical of the female candidates’ character or commitment. The officers and enlisted soldiers I spoke to uniformly respected the female candidates’ efforts and willingness to put themselves through the rigors of Ranger training."

That said, standards were suppressed -- and critics were silenced -- in order to obtain politically correct results. This will have deadly results eventually, which is why the training is so severe. As you will recall, the Marine Corps' study was similarly ignroed, and they were forced to proceed in spite of the clear findings.

An Unfair Criticism from VDH

"What is the alternative to Trump?" he asks. He begins with a very fair criticism -- of Trump, no less.
No president for the past 19 years has sought to offer any remotely sane budget. And with still relatively low interest rates, massive federal spending, a $22 trillion national debt, and an annual deficit of nearly $1 trillion, it is hard to imagine, in extremis, that there remains any notion of “stimulus” or “pump-priming” left.

Yet we hear little about such financial profligacy.

Not a word comes from Trump’s critics about the need for Social Security or Medicare reform to ensure the long-term viability of each — other than the Democrats’ promises to extend such financially shaky programs to millions of new clients well beyond the current retiring Baby Boomer cohorts who are already taxing the limits of the system.
I have occasionally noted in this space that I would like to hear a plan to save the Medicare We Have before we float plans for Medicare For All, but so far none have been forthcoming. I am forced to conclude that our two largest generations, who drive most of our politics, are satisfied with the arc toward failure. The Boomers who are still the frontrunners know there's enough for their generation; and the Millennials just beginning to assume office aren't interested in saving programs they can't imagine surviving long enough to serve them.

Anyway, VDH goes on to this:
To counter every signature Trump issue, there is almost no rational alternative advanced.... Instead of vague socialist bombast and promises, where is the actual detailed progressive version of the Contract with America, so voters can read it, digest it, and then decide whether it is superior or inferior to the status quo since 2017?
There's certainly been plenty of vague bombast, but there is actually a detailed set of plans on offer from Elizabeth Warren. They include the following:

* A wealth tax;

* New taxes on corporations, as well as mandates that would force them to put some of their workers on the boards;

* An 'economic patriotism' plan built around 'corporate citizenship' that is, if we are honest, fascist in Mussolini's specific sense of the term ("Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.");

* Essentially every kind of gun control anyone has thought of as an option;

* A plan to eliminate the Electoral College;

* A housing assistance plan that reads as if it were written to satisfy the criticisms raised by Ta-Nehisi Coates;

* Black reparations;

* Native American reparations;

* Gay reparations;

* Female reparations, these to be extracted from their future employers;

* College student reparations;

* Punishment for hospitals with high maternity death rates ("What could possibly go wrong? Well, the hospitals may have no control over the things that are causing the disparity. Yet hospitals that serve large numbers of black women will lose funding."); also, universal child care;

* A plan to boost immigration by decriminalizing currently-illegal entry;

* A plan to shut down mining and other wealth-extraction from public lands;

* ...and numerous other plans.

In fact, the only thing she seems to have no formal plan to do is reforming health care generally. I'm sure it's on her list of things to do, but it's not something she's explained exactly how she'd do.

She's got a pretty sweeping agenda, and I notice that she hasn't spelled it out at her campaign website in anything like the detail she has done elsewhere. It's at least as transformative as anything Obama imagined.

Military Citizenship

If there's one thing the military needs, it's more paperwork.
"The policy change explains that we will not consider children who live abroad with their parents to be residing in the United States even if their parents are U.S. government employees or U.S. service members stationed outside of the United States, and as a result, these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically," USCIS spokesperson Meredith Parker told Task & Purpose.

"For them to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for citizenship on their behalf."

The process under INA 322 must be completed before the child's 18th birthday.
So are they considered 'natural born' citizens for the purpose of running for President? I suppose there's no actual legal standard for that, since there's 'no controlling legal authority.'

A Brexit Gamble

A surprising constitutional maneuver in the UK has people over there a little stirred up.
Prorogation, which suspends parliament from sitting in a period it might otherwise be expected to sit, is an accepted right of a sitting government. But it has never been applied in a manner such as this: as a means of denying parliamentary action opposed by the government. Johnson denies that this is his intent, but few believe him.

By sending members of parliament back to their constituencies in early September and then returning them on Oct. 14th, Johnson has significantly shortened the time they will have to pass legislative alternatives to his Brexit plan. With a final European Council meeting scheduled for Oct. 17th, unless an emergency follow up meeting is held, European leaders will have to accept Johnson's proposals to avoid a no-deal Brexit, or else accept a no-deal Brexit as is.
Good luck, says I.

'Fastest Woman On Four Wheels' Killed in Land Speed Record Attempt

I don't follow the sport and had never heard of her, but she was apparently something else. Her shakedown run went over 483 miles per hour.

The first absolute land speed record, in case you were curious, was a bit over 39 miles an hour. Things have changed since 1894.

Rest in peace, brave lady.

Gillette: You Know What's Awsome? Traditional Masculinity.

Ride the Rotating Earth

Freezing the position of the Milky Way yields interesting results.

Of Course, Of Course

Footage from the camera outside Epstein's cell is "unusable."

Trump "proposal" to nuke hurricanes is "racist."

Performatively pious Congressperson turns out to be a hypocrite who doesn't want to discuss 'personal life.'

Well, these things are just to be expected.

Nine Diabolic Questions

I found another of Tex's crew. It's not a bad piece, especially once the questions are answered.

Fake News Today

MS: "List: Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers."

BB: "Bernie Sanders Arrives In Hong Kong To Lecture Protesters On How Good They Have It Under Communism."

DB: "Guam Finally Capsizes."

TO: "School Administration Reminds Female Students Bulletproof Vests Must Cover Midriff."

Cf. this video:



As The Onion reminds us, there's some female agency involved in all this.

Would You Describe This "Problem" As Sort Of Like A "Burden"?

Headline: "Biden: Racism in US is institutional, ‘white man’s problem’"

Ordo Militaris

Via Douglas, a Catholic 'private military company' with Crusader themes. In principle, the idea of forming an order of knighthood to combat the extensive persecution of Christians worldwide right now seems reasonable to me; and incorporating as a private entity seems rational given that the Church is currently disinclined (especially the Pope!) to anything remotely resembling a real fighting order. Whether or not this particular organization has anything like the capacity to accomplish those goals is not known to me.

They do have a holy rule, which makes them similar to numerous orders of knighthood established during the Crusader period and the period of the Reconquista. Two points that refer to secular realities strike me: that those who held military rank should serve in the Order with the same rank they held in the secular military service; and that those who are wealthy enough to provide their own expenses shall enjoy greater honor than those who depend on the Order to pay their way and/or their salary. Those are the sorts of practicalities that historically bedeviled religious orders, a kind of recognition that the nobility and the wealthy aren't quite prepared to surrender all of their privileges in order to follow God. But the verse says 'if you want to be perfect,' which is more than most of us even want.

Related to our recent discussion, it looks as if they have a Twitter account that was mysteriously temporarily deleted during a Congressional hearing relevant to them.

I'll open the floor to discussion, both of the idea in general and the particular example.

Viking Themed Crosswalk Lights

Via our old friend DL Sly, a whimsical story.

Social Media Building Chinese-Style "Social Credit" System

Well, of course they are. They helped build China's.
Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused have fewer rights.

Social credit systems are an end-run around the pesky complications of the legal system. Unlike China’s government policy, the social credit system emerging in the U.S. is enforced by private companies. If the public objects to how these laws are enforced, it can’t elect new rule-makers.

An increasing number of societal “privileges” related to transportation, accommodations, communications, and the rates we pay for services (like insurance) are either controlled by technology companies or affected by how we use technology services. And Silicon Valley’s rules for being allowed to use their services are getting stricter.

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code, and more by end-user license agreements.
One way of controlling this is to have the government insist that Americans' rights be in no way limited by corporations, and to establish protections that would void any "license agreement" that abridged such rights. That, however, depends on the government being a limit on corporations rather than aligning with them. The alignment of corporate and government power is quite likely, given the resources corporations have, and the benefit to overweening politicians of being able to have a compliant corporation enforce limits on the citizenry that the Constitution would not allow.

Victims of Journalism

Journalists, of course.
“...using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power,” wrote reporters Jeremy Peters and Kenneth Vogel.

Appalachian Orpheus



Anna and Elizabeth are the two women in the "Old Churchyard" video.  Besides singing, they make these hand-cranked cartoons and puppet shows.  Their art is a river of life.

The Orpheus legend is very old.  His music is so beautiful that the rocks and trees dance around him, and he can raise the dead, but he arouses the jealousy of the gods.  Like most stories about the war between life and death, it comes in versions with both sad and happy endings.  One of the modern versions, "Black Orpheus," has both:

The 1949 Mann Gulch disaster

A Song of a Man Who Died Well



His name was Blaze Foley. He had a strange life; much of it he was homeless. Like many who could not maintain a home, he was unable to trust many, and unable to do the basic things that would have enabled his stability. He was important to the Outlaw music scene in Austin, Texas, but he never attained much success in his life.

All the same he died well. Few do, and perhaps there is nothing in life more worthy than a good death.

Why weep for them who will weep no more

Storm

This weekend my county is engaged in a number of two-year anniversary events marking the still-incomplete recovery from Hurricane Harvey.  I took a screenshot of this radar picture showing the landfall.  It's usually hard to tell what the underlying geography is, so I photoshopped a bit, adding green outlines around the inhabited peninsulas (the southern one being Rockport/Fulton proper, and the northern one being ours, Lamar), and black outlines around the uninhabited peninsulas (including the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, home of whooping cranes in the winter) and the barrier islands.  The "X" is about where our house is.  This picture still gives me goosebumps, remembering the sense of a huge wave about to break over us.  Metaphorically, I mean; we weren't overwashed, but the radar pictures we got before we lost our signal looked like a 40,000-foot atmospheric breaker about to crash.


On Dual, and Multiple, Loyalties

I realize that accusations of 'dual loyalty' have a fraught history for the Jewish community especially, and thus that the remarks earlier this week around 'disloyalty' were upsetting to many. Acknowledging that, however, I want to frame a principle in political philosophy in universal terms: not for Jews, or Jewish-Americans, but for all of us everywhere.

The principle is as follows: It is the mark of a healthy political system that it accepts that its members have many other claims on their loyalty, and can negotiate such claims insofar as they are natural or otherwise legitimate. It is the totalitarian system that demands that children turn in their parents to the state for disloyal thoughts, not the healthy system. It is the totalitarian system that demands that religious orders direly violate their conscience, as informed by centuries of theological arguments and developed doctrine, in order to conform to some new fashion in law.

A natural loyalty to one's parents, as well as to those who have taken special interest in one and helped one along, is right and proper. A healthy state neither needs nor ought to command disloyalty to such things in preference to itself. Loyalty to friends, to community organizations, to principles, these things are not undesirable. It is Mussolini who said that the ideal should be 'everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.' The system he was describing literally was fascism; other systems that aim at the same ideal, to include the recently-mentioned People's Republic of China, are actively evil rather than healthy modes of human politics.

To return to the specific case, it is also true that loyalty is a two-way street. I think it is only natural to feel a kind of loyalty -- a degree of loyalty -- to a state that declares itself to exist for the specific purpose of providing you and your kin a safe haven if all else fails; to welcome you whenever you come, and even to welcome you home if you choose; and that has shown a willingness to risk lives in the defense of those like yourself who have fallen into danger. It would be a strange sort of character that did not respond to such a display of loyalty in at least some reciprocal way. I do not suggest that anyone has so responded, and certainly do not name anyone as having such feelings, but I would certainly understand if someone from that particular community did feel that way.

To speak again to the universal, I would say that this is a fit principle for judging the validity of any human state. If it cannot accept natural and otherwise legitimate loyalties that may contravene its designs, the state is overweening. Such a state is suffering from a kind of hubris, which produces tragedy and sometimes a great fall. It is unworthy in spite of whatever other claims it has to glory, as the great Greek tragic heroes were found unworthy in this way in spite of being heroes.

Negotiation may sometimes be necessary in the hardest cases: it is one thing to say that a parent who discovers a beloved child engaged in a great crime might ought to inform the authorities; it is another to say that the parent should not, in that process, hire lawyers to protect the child's interests against the state, or that the parent must disown the child and disavow all sense of natural loyalty to them. These concerns may arise in the hardest cases, I agree. Nevertheless, the principle holds true.

"Hereby" and Orders

As the President should have learned during his attempt to ban trans* servicemembers by Tweet, comments on Twitter do not constitute a lawful order even when you have otherwise lawful authority. On this occasion, I'm not at all clear on the degree of lawful authority that exists via more formal processes. Probably there is some sort of authority, held over from World War II and/or World War I, to issue orders even to privately-held American companies in a time of war. Of course, we are not in fact at war.

Here again, as with the birthright citizenship stuff and for that matter the trans* servicemember ban, the President may be broadly right on the desirable policy. I'm reasonably sanguine about a trade war with China. It will hurt, but it will hurt them more, and they can less afford it. It may expose the structural faults in their economy, which are much more severe than anyone really wants to admit. If so, it may cripple Chinese power designs via mass investment projects like the "New Silk Road." Even if not, it may weaken their hand to undertake new oppression against Hong Kong, and may limit the resources they have for their ongoing cultural genocide against the Uighur in what they like to call their New Frontier ("Xinjiang"). This may be the most we can do for the freedom fighters there, given China's powerful nuclear umbrella. Possibly even some of the longer-term positive effects may come to pass that the President, and some others, have decided can be gained on this road. I'm agnostic about that; but breaking totalitarian China is worth the candle. Humanity may long thank us for once again paying the price to break another totalitarian system of authority that has been creeping out further and further.

President Trump still has to be held to constitutional and legal limits on his power. Even if one trusts him (which not everyone does, to put it mildly), the forms exist to restrain the ones you don't trust who may get their hands on that power later. That might come any day, as health is uncertain for anyone, and he is engendering enemies both wealthy and powerful with these moves.

Fun & Games

Socialist gives new Socialism game a bad review.

Cortez and the Aztecs

As a partial antidote to the NYT's "1619 Project" (which attempts to portray everything exceptional about America as a product of slavery, in order to de-legitimize America as a whole), The Federalist has published an article called "The 1519 Project: How Early Spanish Explorers Took Down A Mass-Murdering Indigenous Cult."
The Aztecs brutal system depended on a steady supply of prisoners of war and human children collected from the empire’s subjects as “taxes.” The scale of the murder one could find in just a single outlying Aztec city was astounding. Abbot relays, “they witnessed the most appalling indications of the horrid atrocities of pagan idolatry. They found, piled in order, as they judged, one hundred thousand skulls of human victims who had been offered in sacrifice to their gods.”...

Cortez ended the grotesque practice of human sacrifice and, according to Abbott, “treated the vanquished natives with great courtesy and kindness.”

Cortez was no saint. He lusted after women, gold, and adventure—so much he missed his first chance at battle due to injuries sustained after falling from a great height trying to sneak into the bedroom of a villager’s daughter. As Abbott concedes, his “love of plunder was a latent motive omnipotent in his soul, and he saw undreamed of wealth lavishly spread before him.”

Cortez will never satisfy a 21st century standard of human rights, and many not even be an exemplary leader. Nor did he set out to liberate anyone. Yet, regardless of his motives in Mexico, the outcome must be conceded: Cortez toppled a mass-murdering cult with the assistance of the oppressed.
Chesterton wrote of this moral conflict in The Everlasting Man.
[T]here are the remains of civilizations in Mexico and South America and other places, some of them apparently so high in civilization as to have reached the most refined forms of devil-worship.

Now it is very right to rebuke our own race or religion for falling short of our own standards and ideals.... There is a very real sense in which the Christian is worse than the heathen, the Spaniard worse than the Red Indian, or even the Roman potentially worse than the Carthaginian. But there is only one sense in which he is worse; and that is not in being positively worse. The Christian is only worse because it is his business to be better.
I wonder how well that idea will hold up to the examination it's being put to today.

The father of her child

I was actually looking for good versions of the Child Ballad "Tam Lin" when I stumbled on "The Dark Island" and got distracted.  But here's an unusual Tam Lin, drastically shortened from the traditional version, leaving out the Queen of Fairies and the wild Halloween ride, and concentrating on the central drama of the unsanctioned pregnancy.  These lyrics get set to a lot of different tunes, this version being close to one of the more common ones.  The "Willie of Winsbury" tune also is common, perhaps because of the similarity in narrative themes; another is the tune that Steeleye Span used.

Something else I stumbled on is a 1970 Ava Gardner movie with an amazingly young and callow Ian McShane called "The Ballad of Tam Lin," which I'll have to watch now.  I assume the movie will concentrate more on the Queen of Fairies and her captive never-aging human lover/ghost.



A more traditional version of the lyrics:

“I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair
To travel to Carterhaugh, for young Tam Lin is there

None that go by Carterhaugh but they leave him a pledge
Either their mantles of green or else their maidenhead”

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to Carterhaugh as fast as go can she

She'd not pulled a double rose, a rose but only two
When up then came young Tam Lin, says, “Lady, pull no more”

“And why come you to Carterhaugh without command from me?”
“I'll come and go,” young Janet said, “and ask no leave of thee”

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to her father as fast as go can she

Well, up then spoke her father dear and he spoke meek and mild
“Oh, and alas, Janet,” he said, “I think you go with child”

“Well, if that be so,” Janet said, “myself shall bear the blame
There's not a knight in all your hall shall get the baby's name

For if my love were an earthly knight, as he is an elfin grey
I'd not change my own true love for any knight you have”

So Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to Carterhaugh as fast as go can she

“Oh, tell to me, Tam Lin,” she said, “why came you here to dwell?”
“The Queen of Fairies caught me when from my horse I fell"

And at the end of seven years she pays a tithe to hell
I so fair and full of flesh and fear it be myself

But tonight is Halloween and the fairy folk ride
Those that would let true love win at Mile's Cross they must bide

So first let pass the horses black and then let pass the brown
Quickly run to the white steed and pull the rider down

For I'll ride on the white steed, the nearest to the town
For I was an earthly knight, they give me that renown

Oh, they will turn me in your arms to a newt or a snake
But hold me tight and fear not, I am your baby's father

And they will turn me in your arms into a lion bold
But hold me tight and fear not and you will love your child

And they will turn me in your arms into a naked knight
But cloak me in your mantle and keep me out of sight”

In the middle of the night she heard the bridle ring
She heeded what he did say and young Tam Lin did win

Then up spoke the Fairy Queen, an angry queen was she
Woe betide her ill-far'd face, an ill death may she die

“Oh, had I known, Tam Lin,” she said, “what this night I did see
I'd have looked him in the eyes and turned him to a tree”

The lyrics are said to have been printed in broadsides as early as the 16th century; the story echoes Peleus's capture of Thetis, the mother of Achilles.

Limited Powers of Government

My guess is that an Executive Order is insufficient for this plan.
Speaking outside the White House Wednesday, Trump told reporters he plans to do away with the Constitutional right, which he called “frankly ridiculous,” through an executive order. This isn’t the first time he’s made that claim: In 2018, he told Axios he had plans to issue an executive order preventing automatic citizenship for the children of non-citizens, including undocumented immigrants, but nothing came of it.

“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby — congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen.”
That's not a terrible idea, but the power of the pen is not unlimited -- and good that it's not.

Dark Island

Apparently everyone knows this beautiful song but me.  I've never heard it before today.

A Primer on Gory Sounds

It turns out that the horrifying noises accompanying some of the goriest video games come from vegetables. Bell peppers are particularly useful.
A lot of non-gamers might not be aware that Mortal Kombat is still being produced. In the early 90s, the game was at the edge of realistic, digitized violence, and the franchise was so controversial that Congress held hearings about it. Believe it or not, the series has only gotten more violent since then....

The unsung heroes of Mortal Kombat might really be the sound designers who sit in a room for hours, trying to smash household objects, fruits, and vegetables together in a way that sounds like a convincing disembowelment.
I find the irony that these horrible sounds are created by perfectly ordinary salad preparations somewhat amusing, although we might have to rethink just how ironic it really is. Trees have feelings, you know.

Merle Haggard is Cool Again

According to Whitey Morgan (and the '78s). He may be right. I heard a live act do this same bit just Friday, although they weren't hipsters. Whitey does it better though.



Mild language warning for those of you watching this from an office, just at the beginning when he's talking about the hipsters of East Nashville. After that, it's just a solid rendition of "Swinging Doors."

Easy Rider

"In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom."

Now that I can do.

Here's the scene that made his career.

Be That America


Once we were that America. I wish we could be again.

On A Book I Will Be Buying

"No Politician in Living Memory has been Treated as Badly as Ilhan Omar"

Even if we restrict the class to American Federal politicians, that's not even close to true. Heck, it's not even true if we restrict "living memory" to the last few years, so as to leave out assassination victims like JFK and RFK. Steve Scalise was shot, as part of a plot to assassinate a whole bunch of Republican Congressmen. Gabby Giffords was shot. Rand Paul was brutally beaten, as was Harry Reid (for reasons that we never really learned, now that I think about it). If we include judges who have to undergo Senate confirmation in the class of 'politicians,' Brett Kavanaugh -- whom RBG describes as a very kind, upstanding man, and credits with the Supreme Court's sudden shift in favor of female clerks -- was publicly savaged as a rapist, gang-rapist, drugger of women, blackout drunk, and these ridiculous charges were broadcast worldwide in front of screaming mobs.

But, OK, 'some people did something' to Omar. Or said something, actually. Nobody's done anything to her, even though she spends enough of her time running down our country that I literally can't recall her ever saying anything else.
Like Omar, I am a Muslim American who also happens to be a person of colour. The combination of hijab and being brown does not always go down well in our predominantly white society. Because of my appearance, I am all too often subjected to judgement. This makes me feel like anything I say, like Omar, has the potential to be taken out of context. It makes me feel that I, like Omar, am also under the magnifying glass. I should not have to fear for my life or that of any other Muslim. If we allow such cruel rhetoric to snowball, we are contributing towards our own demise.

Moving forward, normalizing the hijab would be the first step towards removing stigma and pressure against women like myself and Ilhan. Engaging in dialogue about topics that make us uncomfortable, such as the hijab, can also help to dismantle stereotypes and increase understanding.
Look, I don't know what you mean by 'normalizing,' lady, but you can wear the thing if you want to do. Nobody's going to rip it off your head and beat you up for it. It's not like it's a MAGA hat or something.

If you're ever in my company, you're perfectly safe. I wouldn't hurt you or let anyone else hurt you. But come on, now. Ilhan Omar isn't being hurt. She's being challenged, and that is not because she wears a hijab or because of the color of her skin. It's because she's constantly insulting the nation that took her in and elevated her to power, wealth, and comfort.

As far as I can tell, Ilhan really is an American and really does belong here. She married her brother, after all -- that's American like Jerry Lee Lewis, who married his 13-year-old second-cousin because he wanted to and nobody could stop him. Jerry Lee Lewis did a lot of things like that.



In fact, they're also alike in the 'not actually getting a divorce before marrying again' department.



Speaking of Jerry Lee Lewis and crazy American stuff, here's another story from that series -- Tales from the Tour Bus, the whole first season of which is about Outlaw Country stars.



Maybe it's only America where you can live a life as wild as that, or as wild as the one Ms. Omar seems embarked upon. I don't have a problem with her being here, or with her being in Congress: if that's what the people of MN-5 want representing them, well, that's on them. It's not my business.

But if she wants to be treated with respect and friendship, she might start by showing a little of either or both. Loyalty is a two-way street. She's not shown the first bit of actual loyalty to us, to say nothing of friendship. If she wants a defense, she might defend us once in a while. She's the Congressperson, after all. She is the one with power and access and money, who can literally write laws if she can just write them sane enough to get enough other people to sign off on them. I'm not going to shed tears for her if she has to put up with some hard words once in a while, after her latest rendition of How Awful America Is to the World.

Swinging for the Fences

An assault weapons ban is picking up steam in the House and on the 2020 campaign trail...
And how are we defining 'assault weapons' this time?
...nearly 200 House Democrats have now signed on to legislation... banning semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines. With 198 co-sponsors, the bill is just 20 votes shy of the number needed to push it through the lower chamber.
Oh. All semi-automatic firearms, which includes the most popular pistols and rifles in America.

The Heller standard is that the Second Amendment protects firearms that are in common use for lawful purposes. This approach seems to have adopted the same category that the Supreme Court declared protected to be the first thing to ban. You can call that what you like, but 'common sense' it is not. 'Common sense' means that people have the sense in common. When people differ this sharply, there's no common sense to which to refer.

Waiting for the Facts

Turns out several of Epstein's neck bones were broken. The model on offer is that he tied a bedsheet to a bunk and then knelt down to strangle himself. I'm not sure that's really possible -- it would require a degree of self-discipline that transcends the fight-or-flight instinct, since all you'd have to do to stop it is stand back up. But it doesn't strike me as likely to break several bones.

But hey, as Colonel Kurt points out, why worry about it? Our elite's got this.

This Is What They Think is Legal Now

A 57-year-old man is jailed for "a terroristic threat."

Whom did he threaten? Well, no one exactly; it's more that he was 'threatening.'
Court documents said Marr walked into the Morgan County Public Library last Thursday and asked staff there why the flags were flying at half-staff. An employee replied it was in honor of the victims in the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings.

The probable cause statement signed by Captain J.D. Williams of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office said Marr replied, "If you ask me Patrick did us a favor." Authorities have accused Patrick Crusius of entering a Walmart in El Paso and shooting and killing 22 people.

Deputies said the librarian who reported the incident told them Marr then logged onto a library computer and searched "exclusively" for the manifesto written by Crusius prior to the shooting and articles related to the incident....

Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney Dustin Dunkley signed off on the charge of second-degree making a terroristic threat. In his complaint, he wrote Marr, "knowingly caused a false fear that a condition involving danger to life existed" by entering the library and asking about the flags, then responding with his comment about Crusius.

Additionally, the complaint stated Marr did this with a "reckless disregard of the risk of causing the evacuation or closure" of the library.
At one point in my youth I worked in a library. We didn't even ask for trespass orders or arrests for the people who came in and searched for internet pornography. This guy was reading a document of legitimate public interest. He's doubtless a jerk with nasty opinions, but that's first amendment stuff. You're allowed freedom of conscience, which includes the freedom not to have much of a conscience.

Joe Bob Briggs: Where's the Apology for the Ghostbusters Remake?

A Chinese director makes the mistake of apologizing.

If this is now a thing, he notes, other apologies are very much due.
Okay, your turn, Marcus Nispel. I didn’t say a word when you remade the greatest movie in the history of the world, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,... [b]ut Conan the Barbarian is a different matter. You should be hauled into court and forced to repay every cent of that $110 million, and Jason Momoa should be required to bring you clean socks every day should you fall behind and get sentenced to Fantasy Remake Jail, but I’ll settle for a lengthy humiliating public apology. This would not include any remarks about what you were trying to do. If you utter the words “the art of Frank Frazetta” at any moment, you will be executed.
It's true that the 2011 Conan was definitely not up to the standards of the 1982 classic, to say nothing of the books.

Gun Control Doesn't Work Anyway

As AVI points out, this is the conclusion of a Washington Post piece citing a 538 author -- but they try to mask it with an attractive, easy to watch video arguing the other way on emotional grounds.

Fake News Today

DB: "I would've joined the military too if I didn't think it was beneath me."

Guns and Black Markets

So yesterday in Philadelphia a man with a long gun held off like 50 police officers for hours -- although, it should be said, this was mostly because of their election of restraint. They certainly could have assaulted his position much sooner had they chosen to do so, and I think the whole department deserves praise for their choice to take the time to bring the matter to an end with no deaths. That was a good, moral choice and I appreciate them for having the discipline to carry it out.

Today the politicians are calling for gun control again, because that's always their answer no matter the question. The gunman in this case, though, had priors that prevented him from legally owning a gun. There are strong laws -- Federal laws -- against him possessing a gun. There are also such laws against possession of the narcotics that the officers showed up at that house to arrest people for possessing and distributing. Turns out they had guns and drugs too.

The big story is not that laws don't work, but just why they don't work. Crowds spent the afternoon jeering at the police officers after they were chased off by gunfire. At least one young man got arrested for mocking and harassing the cops. The ability of the police to stop a black market's operation, always limited, depends on their respect and friendship with the community. Here they clearly do not have such friendship, and thus the black market will be unstoppable even if they can manage the occasional raid on good information. What Mao says of guerrillas is as true of gangsters: the population is the sea in which they swim. If that sea is friendly waters to them, there's no way an occupying army (or police force) can finally root them out.

What the gun control politicians don't see is that the ultimate effect of their actions -- should they be successful -- will be to create a much bigger black market, this time for deadly weapons. They'll convert a much larger part of the population into a friendly sea for that black market. They'll alienate the people from the police, and thus make large parts of the nation hostile to their own authority.

More to the point, the People won't be wrong. The People are the sovereigns, after all, and they are free to decide when the government no longer legitimately represents them. It may well be that the drug war itself represents a kind of violation of popular sovereignty, proven by its unenforceability. The 2nd Amendment is encoded in the Constitution. Violations of your right to do what you want with your body isn't as plainly unconstitutional as infringements on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Beware, politicians. Much more than you appreciate is at stake in your lust to take the people's arms.