A Soldier finally makes it home, after 88 years.

Welcome home, Pvt. Lupo.

Culture or Genetics

Culture or Genetics?

In the debate over which is more important, here are two new pieces (both via Arts & Letters Daily, which I suggest you do read daily). Each one is demonstrative and well-informed, but they suggest opposite conclusions -- both of which cannot be true.

"Myths of British Ancestry" claims to demonstrate that the whole of British history has altered the genetic makeup of the folk in England not more than 25% -- that 75% of the genetic makeup remains an unknown pre-historic people, most similar to the Basques.

Yet the history of England is engraved with clear periods in art, language, literature, architecture -- in a word, culture. "Anglo-Saxons" may not have changed the genetic makeup more than five percent, yet they totally dominated the way of life of the people. So too the Vikings, in their time, and especially the Normans.

This is suggestive that culture is predominant, with genetics playing a role so deep in the background as to be almost imperceptible.

Taking the alternative, John Derbyshire argues in "Race and Conservatism" some fairly compelling ideas. I'm not sure how to argue against his main thrust, except by pointing out that it is not compatible with the geneticist's evidence from the above.

Yet consider the argument he puts forward, and tell me where the flaw is. Would he say that the change between Basque and Viking is not enough to trigger the differences he notes? If so, both could be true -- genes are defining, but the difference between various northern European genetic lines is so small that it can host any of several cultures without disability.

We are only really beginning to get a notion of what the evidence holds, so it is too early to make certain decisions. It is not too early, though, to begin thinking about what the possibilities are -- if only so, as we advance in our knowledge, we will know how to winnow down the no-longer likely options.


Now, That's Refreshing:

I sometimes wonder why this doesn't always happen:

About a dozen residents of a Dallas neighborhood beat a man after reports that he had been showing pornographic pictures to children on a playground, police said.
Actually, he was caught in the act.
When one of the mothers saw him and asked Burke what he was doing, he tried to run and the woman started screaming, said Elizabeth Williams, the mother of another child. According to a police report, Burke said about 15 men "jumped him and hit him repeatedly on the face with their fists."
Seems kind of natural to me. Of course, the police showed up eventually.
Burke was arrested on suspicion of harmful display to a minor.
One assumes he will also be civilly liable for any injury to local citizens, as he endangered their fists by showing porn to children in a civilized neighborhood.

Noel Explains All

Noel Explains All:

The week's events are put into perspective by our old friend Noel.

Scroll down, while you're there, to read his post on 9/11 conspiracists.

GHMc: Rio Bravo

Grim's Hall Movie Club:

I keep forgetting to do this. :) Since I mentioned it a few posts ago, how about Rio Bravo for this weekend? John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and some of the best character writing in any movie ("Hey Stumpy, got a light?").

If you can manage to see it this weekend, we'll talk about it on Monday.


Still, At Least We Can Have Clean Elections...

Now that we can ensure votes are cast by citizens.

Well, maybe. But that's just a state court. For now.


And Speaking of That...

Southern Appeal commenter advises, "fiddle, son, fiddle."

I just want to know what the anti-DUI crowd will say. "Take a Taxi." Er, well, what if the taxi won't take you? But, as Verity points out, we've got that separation of church and state wall built high in the right places: Muslim taxi drivers may not have to drive drunks, but Catholic pharmacists better not try to send anyone elsewhere to buy birth control pills.


Since We're Talking About Music:

Rock 'N Roll was once said to be the Devil's Music. And so it is.

No, not Bush.

I mean The Devil Himself.


They're Talking to You, Doc:

And your good lady wife, of course.

Thai Coup

Thailand Coup:

Now, here's something I wasn't expecting -- at least, not in this form.

Thailand has had some serious political disruptions in the last year, but the military has heretofore been quite disciplined in staying out of the politics. General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, in particular, has regularly voiced his intent to stay out -- and up to the moment he changed his mind, gave little sign that he might do otherwise. Some in the military have been in favor of a coup, but I had not thought Sonthi was among them.

General Sonthi is Thailand's first Muslim army chief, but he is an ethnic Thai Muslim, not related to the Malay Muslims in the South who have been carrying on the terrorist war there. His appointment, indeed, was meant to help quell the Muslim insurgents by showing that Thailand didn't discriminate against Muslims -- a move which accomplished little, since the real complaint in the South of Thailand is that the government discriminates against Malays.

I wouldn't have been terribly surprised to see a coup that split the military, with some of the hard-core loyalists to the King moving against the elected government, and other elements serving in defense of the Prime Minister. And, given the political chaos of last spring, a coup against the government in Thailand is not entirely unexpected.

I wouldn't have expected to find General Sonthi on this side of it, though. I would have thought he was an obstacle that would have to be pushed aside before a coup could take place. Apparently, when push came to shove, he decided otherwise.

UPDATE: Breitbart puts the 3rd and 5th Armies at the head of the coup. FWIW, it's the 4th Army that has handled the most of the fighting with the insurgents in the South.

UPDATE: I recall in the Spring, Prime Minister Thaksin had a sudden meeting over lunch with several top military leaders. He later told the press that he'd called them to thank them for their discipline in staying out of the political difficulties. At the time, I speculated that the military had really called the meeting -- to let Thaksin know that they wouldn't back him if the chaos pushed to the point of rebellion in the streets of Bangkok. Thaksin took a softer line afterwards, to the point of almost-resigning in a "leave of absence" for much of the spring. He returned after it became clear that no one else available was able to run the government as currently constituted.

More than ever, I wish we had a transcript of what was said at that lunch meeting.

Abi on CNN

Abizaid on CNN:

Here via Central Command is the transcript of Abizaid's recent appearance on CNN's "The Situation Room." As always, the comments and thoughts of the CDRUSCENTCOM on the subject of Iraq are of interest.

Cassandra Never Learns

Cassandra Never Learns:

Another meme from the villainous woman. Apparently, my responses to her previous tags have not had the intended effect.

This time, she (following Fuzzy) wants me to "List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now."

Regular readers know I don't have good moods, and therefore don't "really enjoy" anything at all. Just regular old enjoyment is the best I can normally manage. Still, here are a few songs I sing once in a while.

1) "The Old Dun Cow," which is pronounced "coo" according to the Gaelic. (Chorus: "...and we all got stone-blind, paralytic drunk when the Old Dun Coo caught fire.")

2) "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me," which Dean Martin sings in Rio Bravo. It's a good tune, and the boy likes to hear it.

3) "The Battlecry of Freedom," which has both a Union and a Dixie version. In an earlier version of the same spirit shown by the new SpouseBuzz website, the Dixie version remembers "our noble women [who have aided the soldiers] at home." Surprisingly few war songs do.

4) The "Beat the Wife" song. This is one I wrote myself. It serves in the place of actually having to beat her, which is too much trouble. (It has a close variant, which is the "Get the Boy" song. The effect of singing either is to make the mentioned party squeal and run away, thus leaving me with blessed peace and quiet for a while.)

5) "Kelly, the Boy from Killaine." Written in memorial to the 1798 uprising in Ireland, if you learn everything there is to know about the tune, you will know everything you need to know about Irish history. The United Irishmen, a classical liberal group in the mold of our own American Revolutionaries, were the best hope Ireland ever had. Unfortunately, they relied upon the French, and...

6) "A Boy Named Sue," which needs no introduction.

7) "The Preacher and the Bear," which I know from the Jerry Reed version. Any song that has a preacher with a shotgun and a straight razor fighting a grizzly bear is a song worth knowing.

I'm supposed to tag seven people. Why don't you folks just drop your answers in the comments? First seven qualify, if that many of you care to do it.