You Are Apparently Very Bad People

I've been considering leaving the Democratic Party for a long time, but the Republican Party doesn't seem like either a natural home or a real alternative. However, some Republicans have decided that they either want to be put firmly back in charge of their party, or else to leave it for a new party of their own.

“When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,” reads the preamble to the full statement, which is expected to be released on Thursday....

“I’m still a Republican, but I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth because how quickly the party has divorced itself from truth and reason,” Mr. Taylor said. “I’m one of those in the group that feels very strongly that if we can’t get the G.O.P. back to a rational party that supports free minds, free markets, and free people, I’m out and a lot of people are coming with me.”
Now, I did recently read about a conspiracy that effected the result (not a typo) of a recent election. However, I gather that many of these same people may have supported -- or even participated in -- that conspiracy, which is described by its members in their interview as 'bipartisan.' I assume that the "forces of conspiracy" they're worried about are the people taking notice of and commenting on the conspiracy, not the actual conspiracy to which the members confessed in a major publication. 

So, since many of you are disobedient Republicans of the sort that exasperates these officials, why are you being so ungrateful to your natural mast... er, leadership? Is it free minds that you oppose? Free markets? Free people? Is it your love of despotism? 

Maybe I'll join the Pirate Party.

She's outta here

Never-Trumper Liz Cheney was just booted from the No. 3 position in the U.S. House. I'm already hearing carping about how this is "cancel culture." It's hard to see how the cancel-culture concept applies to a politcian who's booted because of revulsion with the political ideas she expresses. One would almost suspect bad faith in the making of that argument, if it weren't for the incontrovertible virtue signalling that makes such a conclusion unpossible.

Idylls of the King

John Derbyshire still publishes a monthly memo that I very occasionally read. The most recent one includes quite a bit about poets, first at the beginning and then later on.

[O]ld-style colonialism was constructive as well as destructive, spreading the glories of our civilization world-wide. Today's educators, by contrast, only destroy—a colonial type of activity that they have the gross impertinence to describe as "decolonizing." To replace what they have destroyed they offer only worthless, soul-less dreck like Critical Race Theory.

A school principal in Massachusetts has boasted of removing the Odyssey from the curriculum. That, too, is cast as "decolonization." It is beyond ridiculous. For many decades, we have been tossing classical education into the ditch. Forget about studying Latin or Greek. Very few college students will have read Milton. Almost none will have read Tennyson. Most will not have heard of this Victorian poet; I know this from long experience.

That shocked me perhaps more than the average reader. For one thing, I am a major fan of Tennyson.... For another thing there was a memory from my days teaching English literature at a college in communist China forty years ago. My teaching materials were of course government-approved, the commentaries following the Party line. The classic English poets were well represented: Shakespeare (Marx was a fan), Shelley (major lefty), Burns (a peasant!), even Wordsworth (praised the French Revolution … at first).

Tennyson, however, didn't even get a mention. Why not? I consulted a standard 1979 ChiCom encyclopedia, which I still own. Here is the entire entry for Tennyson:

Dingnísheng (Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892). English poet. Born into a clerical family. All his poems beautify capitalist society and bourgeois morality and ethics. In 1850 he was made Poet Laureate. His works one-sidedly promote lyricism and become merely ornate. His most important poems are "The Princess," "Maud," "In Memoriam," "Enoch Arden," "Idylls of the King," etc.
So, a class enemy. Just another reminder, if you needed one, that there isn't much daylight between the ideology that has taken over our schools today and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought.

It occurs to me that an academy that is disposing of the Odyssey would of course not teach Tennyson. If you have gotten as far as disposing of Homer you have certainly disposed of Sir Thomas Malory, without whom Idylls of the King would make little sense. Idylls is too long to try to teach to contemporary undergraduates anyway; more likely, you would teach Ulysses for its heroic and inspiring close:
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
But how would they understand this story, if you have disposed of the Odyssey

It's not just that he is a class enemy, though he is also that. It's that his grandeur comes precisely from standing within a powerful tradition, one whose chief currents he could shape to new heights like Elrond bending the Bruinen into a flood of wild horses.  

Without the river, what power does even Elrond have against the Nine? Without that current flowing from Homer and Malory into Tennyson's hands, what power has he against the evils and corruptions of our own day? Little; none, except in the resistance he may still encourage in those few of us left who do know how to see the flood. 

Retired Flag Officers Call for New Defense of America

 A letter signed by more than a hundred and twenty once-top officers points out that Marxism is winning in America. 

Our Nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.

During the 2020 election an “Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders” was signed by 317retired Generals and Admirals and, it said the 2020 election could be the most important election since our country was founded. “With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.” Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself. Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the “will of the people” our Constitutional Republic is lost. Election integrity demands insuring there is one legal vote castand counted per citizen. Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved control susing government IDs, verified signatures, etc. Today, many are calling such commonsense controls “racist” in an attempt to avoid having fair and honest elections....

There's quite a bit more, including rule of law issues, China, attacks on free speech, and so forth. It is good to see people with established reputations for service starting to say something. 

News from 1814

The British Royal Navy deployed gunboats against a French blockade, which caused the French navy to respond in kind. 

The heraldry on the fishing boats could be a little confusing. It's actually the heraldry of Normandy, but it would be easy to mistake it for British because the Norman coat of arms is retained in the Queen's coat of arms, which she often deploys as a standard. However, that usage is strictly personal; it would be incorrect to fly her flag from even a British navy ship unless she were on it. 

Checking Up on Common Ground

I have had the strong sense that 'conservatism' has largely failed as an intellectual and political movement; it has not in fact conserved anything successfully, leading us to a moment in which something more counterrevolutionary may be needed. However, I came across a 2016 post by Tom which cited a few core tenets:
1. An objective moral order

2. The human person as the center of political and social thought

3. A distaste for the use of state power to enforce ideological patterns upon human beings

4. A rejection of social engineering, or the "planned" society

5. The spirit of the Constitution of the United States as originally conceived, especially the division of powers between state and federal governments and between the three branches of the federal government

6. A devotion to Western civilization and an awareness of the need to defend it
I definitely believe that there is an objective moral order, one that is discoverable in nature -- for example, one discovers that the virtues Aristotle praised are in fact the things that make your life better if practiced. That is simply true; and yet the idea that one should draw ethical lessons from nature, even or especially human nature, is very much under attack. 

I'm not quite sure what the alternative to proposition 2 was intended be; perhaps the preservation of an institution, such as the Church or a city-state? I would say that this proposition is shared by right and left, though; feminism, for example, is all about the lives of human women (and not, say, lionesses); our cultural disputes are more about whether this or that person's interests should be upheld where they conflict. The dispute about trans-* athletes is really just a dispute about whether their individual interests should trump those of the individual women athletes they might be displacing; it's not a dispute over whether the interests of a person should or shouldn't be the root of the decision. 

Proposition three is framed in terms of tastes, which might be right; although it might not be. I suspect many conservatives, if asked, would be happy to resume criminalizing certain sexual practices and/or lifestyles; and some remaining laws banning sexual practices, such as pedophilia, are hotly supported by conservatives. Meanwhile the state sometimes does provide a useful corrective to non-state attempts to impose ideological agendas; people have successfully sued in court to restore rights that were being suppressed by employers or corporations. 

The fourth proposition is where the failure is most obvious; the proposition is the right principle, but so far the planners are stealing one Long March after another. 

I would submit that the fifth proposition is misguided, although I once held to it. I have decided, however, that it is not the Constitution but the Declaration of Independence whose spirit must be the eternal and unyielding guide. The Articles of Confederation came and went, and the Constitution may do likewise. As long as we hold that 'all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights,' and that 'governments are instituted among men (solely) to secure those rights,' and may be replaced whenever they become destructive to that end -- as long, too, as we do not yield our original understanding of what rights these were, to include freedom of speech and thought, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to be secure from official oppression -- well, that is the thing to be preserved. 

The sixth one is true, and never more true than now. A defense is needed. 

Grave Concerns

The audit in Arizona continues, although Democrats' legal efforts have forced them to stop checking signatures, and some of the external hard drives with data from the audit have disappeared. The "Justice" Department is threatening the audit, too. 

They've probably done enough damage that the audit could not now restore confidence among voters who believe that fraud was rampant; if the audit 'finds no fraud' after they were forced to stop checking ballot signatures and whole hard drives of data were stolen, the conclusion will justly be that the fraud was simply concealed. That's what you would ordinarily assume about similar facts, that the party interested in derailing the audit by any means necessary had something to hide.

Keep your eyes on it anyway. If they manage to find something interesting in spire of these efforts to derail them, we will want similar audits in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere. 

UPDATE: The county is withholding some subpoenaed servers from the election, claiming that turning them over to be audited would somehow 'put law enforcement lives at risk.'  It is hard for me to see how that claim could possibly be plausible. 

Home Anew

It is a strange fact that leaving home for a while makes you see it anew when you return. Of course, in my case I went at the change of seasons, so the trees that were barely beginning to green when I left are suddenly nearly leafed out the next time I saw them. Still, what a pretty part of the world Western North Carolina is.

I should do more traveling, I suppose. Just at the moment, though, I don't really wish to be anywhere else.

What I do need to do is to pick the next work to read through. 

Is it still legal to call it Wuhan virus?

It's a pleasure to read a technical article trying to sort through the origin of the SARS virus that causes COVID without running into constant special pleading or politically driven "just so" stories. Nicholas Wade used to write for the New York Times, but evidently in an era when that was compatible with retaining rigor and honesty of thought and expression. He won't definitively conclude that the COVID virus emerged from a Wuhan lab, but he believes that conclusion is so far the best bet by a considerable margin. He also points out the trashiness of much of the public discourse on this controversy starting over a year ago. Mr. Wade's Wiki writeup sniffs that he believes genes have important effects on human characteristics. No wonder he quit writing for the NYT in 2012.


The point is so elementary that it should not be necessary to state: a model is not evidence. It is a theory expressed in arithmetic terms. A theory is either validated or disproved by observation. A model that is contradicted by experience is simply wrong, and is useless. History is littered with theories that sounded plausible at the time, but were invalidated by experience.
He's right, it shouldn't be necessary to state, but evidently it's necessary to go outside and shout it every day.

Non-Euclidean Dwarves

Thanks to a feud with a necromancer, a city of dwarves has a mapping challenge: a math exercise in prose. 

Music and Universal Beauty

An essay, with video of quite a performance, from Arts & Letters Daily.
DakhaBrakha is the perfect band to make the view ring true that people around the world speak the same musical language. It steeps its songs in traditional Ukrainian folk music but spices them with ingredients from around the world, such as raga drones from India, metrical drumming from Japan, and languid blues from America. DakhaBrakha call its music “ethno-chaos” but what makes it captivating is not the chaos but the way the global sounds amplify the Ukrainian ones. The quartet has released six albums and played concerts across the globe since 2007. Everywhere DakhaBrakha has played, fans have rhapsodized about the joy and pathos in their music. 
You may like the essay; you will probably like the music. The latter says something about the quality of the former. 

It reminds me of this, which is Mongolian but also heavily influenced by American biker culture.