There is an embarrassment of riches with Steeleye Span.

From the album "Below the Salt":

King Henry

Gaudete (this was a #1 hit in the UK)

Royal Forester

John Barleycorn

From the album "Parcel of Rogues", Came Ye Oer' From France (I think this is is about the '15, not the '45)

To compare, the same song by the Corries:

From the album "Ten Man Mop", Captain Coulston:

From the Album "Please to See the King", Cold haily, windy rainy night:

From the album "Rocket Cottage", Fighting for Strangers:

From the album "Hark the Village Wait", The Lowlands of Holland:

One of my favorites: "All around my Hat" (for you levellers out there) with video of Maddy in full cry:

I think this is from the album "Please to See the King", Female Drummer:

If you can't find something there that pleases, then yer dead.

Dude Music

"Dude Music"

Actually, I hate this stuff too.

This is what I call “dude music.” To clarify, just because music is made by men doesn’t mean it’s dude music. And just because music is made by women doesn’t mean it’s not dude music. No, dude music is music that prioritizes the status quo, that prioritize men’s voices, men’s experiences, and the experiences of people in power and who benefit from the current power structures in our society. Dude music is music that can ever be described as “noodling.” Dude music is post-rock, and prog-rock, and rock that exists not to say anything, but to showcase how awesome the men in the band are at playing guitar. Dude music is music that has nothing to offer people who are disenfranchised or oppressed, because it either is totally uninterested in their disenfranchisement/oppression, or actively profits from it. Dude music is “I went to your concert and I didn’t feel anything.”
I wouldn't say it was wrong to write a song that 'prioritizes men's voices/experiences,' but I also don't think it's wrong to write a song that prioritizes a woman's. One artist might do one and another artist the other without fault; although, perhaps, the best artist might be able to do both. That aside, this entire branch of music is horrible, and she's right to dislike it.

Could it be improved by including women's viewpoints more? Well... that's another question. Let's examine it. On the one hand, a 'dude music' version of "Watkin's Ale" would still be more interesting than anything being written in this genre. I'm going to give you two versions of it, one with a female singer and one with a male. (The female version has the lyrics in subtitles.)

The viewpoint does make a difference. The maiden gets some good lines: "What do you care?" "Your ale, I see, runs very low." It also offers a warning that the women are in a peril that the young men are not, because of the reality of pregnancy, and the ability of the man to simply walk away. The song (as Renaissance and Medieval bawdy songs often do) ends up expressing a moral that is somewhat conventional; but it doesn't show the "maiden" as a wicked or unpleasant person for allowing herself to become pregnant.

This may be an example of a balanced song. The song doesn't really 'prioritize the experience' of either men or women; it's a song about a man and a woman, showing them being young and foolish. It shows the man as being irresponsible and the woman as saddled with the consequences, but that's the reality of anonymous sex. The song can be sung well by men or women.

So, this is a set of advantages it has over modern music. There's another, though: it's just better music. If you take the vocals out entirely, and just look at the music itself, it's objectively better than the 'dude' music that she's talking about. It's more complex, takes more skill, and is composed in a way that more naturally harmonizes with our nature. That is, it's easy to find people who are bored or irritated by 'dude music,' or country music, or hip-hop, or any of the modern 'dance' musics. This kind of music is just naturally pleasant; whether it's "great music" or "folk music," the music itself is really better.

If you did this song on an electric guitar, it would be more interesting and better than any 'dude music.' How much of that is the viewpoint, and how much is the music itself?

Well, I suppose the test for that would be to take a 'dude music' piece and set it to better music. How much would it be improved? Probably this would only serve to make clear just how horrible the lyric writing is: the kind of lyrics these bands write would only deface music of this quality.

I think we have to give the point to the lady. What do you think?

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President:

We should be ashamed.

President Barack Obama struck a hyperpartisan note Thursday, telling Democrats that he was "amused" by the Tax Day Tea Party rallies.

Obama, addressing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Miami, did little to endear himself to the Tea Party groups protesting around the country, saying "they should be saying thank you" because of the tax cuts he has signed into law.
I'm glad you're amused. Also, thank you for being so concerned about our taxes.

A Repeat

"The Boys Won't Leave The Girls Alone"

We did this one a few months ago, but it's worth a repeat.

After the title is given, the man says: "Thank God." And indeed.

CCP Dies

The Death of the CCP:

World Affairs Journal considers the fate of the Chinese Communist Party. They share our view (mine and Eric's, that is) that China isn't quite the rising power that it's said to be in much of the press; its days are numbered.



This is genuinely hard to believe.

Last week Jonathan Allen at Politico reported that the Democrats in Congress might not pass a budget resolution this year. "Indeed, some Democratic insiders suspect that leaders will skip the budget process altogether this year — a way to avoid the political unpleasantness of voting on spending, deficits and taxes in an election year — or simply go through a few of the motions, without any real effort to complete the work," Allen wrote. "If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process."
So what does that mean?
The practical consequences of failing to produce a federal budget for next year are about the same as they are for a family that doesn’t set a plan for income and spending: Congress doesn’t need a budget to tax or spend, but enforcing discipline is harder without one. And, like a family that misses out on efficiencies because it hasn’t taken a hard look at its finances, Congress can’t use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and the Senate don’t adopt the same budget.
So they give up reconciliation; that is the tool that allows them to pass laws on a 51-49 vote instead of a 61-39 vote. Why would that be rational?

If you already expect to lose the Senate this year, it makes sense. It means your opponents can't use reconciliation when they are in the majority.

Underfunded Public Pensions

Underfunded Public Pensions:

Are you fully satisfied with the quality of public education in our country today? Soon, it'll get worse!

Although it is generally acknowledged that education is the foundation of every modern society’s future prosperity, schools unfortunately will have to compete with retirees for scarce dollars. This competition is uneven, because retirees have a legal claim on promised pension benefits that supersedes schools’ budgetary needs. Consequently, Americans can look forward to higher taxes and cuts in services, resulting in fewer teachers, bigger classes, and facilities that are allowed to deteriorate. In several states, these developments have already arrived.
So: we'll soon be paying $933 billion dollars more for retirees not to teach, at the expense of hiring and funding paying active teachers.

That's no problem, though, because there's an infinite supply of money in the world. Stuff grows on trees.

Fertility In the Spring

Spring Fertility:

Of course, to optimize the result, you'll have to enjoy some beer too.

Up the Militia: Ancient Britain

Up the Militia: Ancient Britain

One of the things we've talked about from time to time, over the years, is how effective a militia is (and is not). On the one hand, the Saxon "hue and cry" system worked reasonably well; on the other hand, there is the Battle of Maldon. At least at Maldon, though, the 'militia' was made up of men who were trained as warriors. George Washington's difficulty with the militia, which Eric normally mentions when we talk about this subject, was not unique.

For example, Geoffrey of Monmouth describes how a militia was raised to fight the raiders in Albany, near the wall. The speech was stirring; the results were not.



Neil Armstrong Speaks

Neil Armstrong Speaks:

A name that was, to my boyhood self, greater than Odysseus' or almost any other you could name -- he has spoken today. I honestly hadn't thought of him in years; I didn't know he was even still alive.

There will come a time -- I trust and hope -- when space matters again, in a way it has ceased to seem to matter now. We are fools to pass it up, for any reason.


A Warning Sign:

Among the military, the number of Republicans declines sharply. They aren't becoming Democrats: they're becoming independents.

One of the great stabilizing forces of our country has been the two party system. If you don't like Party A, try Party B. Because you can always elect someone of Party B (Scott Brown!), that keeps disputes within the realm of politics. Third parties aren't like that.

If the uniformed military is rejecting the two party system, we're in for an interesting ride.

What on earth is this?

What On Earth Is This?

Here is a musical instrument I have never seen before.

It's obviously got a 'drone,' like a bagpipe; and clearly the crank is being used to generate air pressure. Anyone know what this is, or what it's history might be?

UPDATE: Apparently it's called a "hurdy gurdy." The drone is right, but those keys that look like valves aren't releasing air pressure; the wheel is moving against strings that the keys are modulating (except the 'drone strings'). I've seen the words "hurdy gurdy" before, but not the instrument!

This tune is the "horse brawl" (Branle des chevaux).

The Pope Should What Now?

Why Should the Pope Stand Trial?

Dr. Richard Dawkins opines that the Pope should stand trial for... well, see for yourself.

Pope Benedict XVI is the head of the institution as a whole, but we can't blame the present head for what was done before his watch. Except that in his particular case, as archbishop of Munich and as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (what used to be called the Inquisition), the very least you can say is that there is a case for him to answer...

It is completely clear that, together with a nod to the welfare of the "young" priest, Ratzinger's primary concern, and the reason he refused to unfrock Kiesle (who went on to re-offend) was "the good of the universal church".
Dr. Dawkins' interest in this matter is what? He's an atheist, so it's not that he is a stakeholder in Catholicism. He's a biologist by training. Why is he interested in this?

A good reason to be interested would be care and concern for the victims. Is that his motivation?

If it is, fine for him. But it seems it is more likely, given his work and extensive writing on the subject, that he is riding his anti-religion hobby horse. His motivation, in other words, would then not be the good of the victims, but "the harm of the universal church."

If then-Cardinal Ratzinger's decisions on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were wrong in this matter, it was not because of having an interest in "the good of the universal church." At least he was working for the good, rather than the harm, of something valued by more than a billion people. No, his fault was in putting that good above justice; and indeed, perhaps in misunderstanding where "the good" really lay.

In using the victims as a means to pursue his own agenda, Dr. Dawkins is guilty of every moral failing he accuses the Pope of having. You might say, "Well, but he is merely opining; the Pope was responsible," but that isn't right either: Dawkins is offering to use his status as a citizen to enforce an arrest, which means that he is assuming a responsible role. He assures us he is serious about it. He must, then, be held to account for how he uses the power he claims.


The Militia:

There's nothing wrong with state lawmakers organizing a militia. As long as you don't....

...some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.... the proponents say they don't know how an armed force would be organized nor how a state-based militia could block federal mandates.
Well, it can't.

Article I of the US Constitution holds that Congress has the power:
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
Article II states:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
So, the state has a perfect right to form a militia. However, Congress has the power to call that militia into Federal service, which places them under the direct command of the President of the United States.

You simply cannot Constitutionally create a state militia for the purpose of resisting the Federal government. The Constitution clearly establishes the authority of the Federal government to command any such militias, explicitly in the case of insurrection.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling Water in the Spring:

Mine Is An Evil Laugh



The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment”
unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law.
Allahpundit adds, "Who knew that when Pelosi said they’d have to pass the bill so that people could find out what’s in it, 'people' meant Congress?"



It's become a working assumption of our culture that there are real differences between men and women, but that racism is really a sort of falsehood that we carry around with us. An odd report lends some credence to the idea that might be the case.

Never has a human population been found that has no racial stereotypes. Not in other cultures or far-flung countries. Nor among tiny tots or people with various psychological conditions.

Until now.

Children with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes them lack normal social anxiety, have no racial biases. They do, however, traffic in gender stereotypes, said study researcher Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
So, a disorder can block racial prejudice; but people continue to recognize and impute importance to sex differences even here.

Which, by the way, what are the "gender stereotypes" at work here?
That is, 99 percent of the 40 children studied pointed to pictures of girls when asked who played with dolls and chose boys when asked, say, who likes toy cars.
Unlike the racial stereotype questions, that is a question with a fairly high predictive value. The probability of X given Y is the test here: does the probability of a child being naughty (X) vary substantially given their race (Y)? Not that I know of, factoring for socioeconomic differences. Yet the probability of playing with dolls instead of cars (X) really does vary substantially given sex (Y). While far from a perfect predictor, sex does offer substantial predictive value here.

That's why the race questions are questions about prejudice. In order to test whether they are prejudiced about sex -- rather than merely performing rational calculations, as well as a child might be expected to do -- we'd need similar questions. Yet sex proves to be a reasonable predictor for "naughtiness" too!

A Paradox of Defense

A Paradox of Defense:

George Silver, a seventeenth century gentleman, wrote:

Set two unskillful men together at the rapier and dagger, being valiant, and you shall see, that once in two bouts there shall either one or both of them be hurt. Then set two skillful men together, being valiant at the rapier and dagger, and they shall do the like. Then set a skillful rapier and dagger man, the best that can be had, and valiant man having no skill together at rapier & dagger, and once in two bouts upon my credit in all the experience I have in fight, the unskillful man, do the other what he can for his life for the contrary, shall hurt him, and most commonly if it were in continuance of fight, you shall see the unskillful man to have the advantage. And if I should choose a valiant man for service of the prince, or to take part with me or any friend of mine in a good quarrel, I would chose the unskillful man, because unencumbered with false fights, because such a man stands free in his valor with strength and agility of body, freely takes the benefit of nature, fights most brave, by loosing no opportunity, either soundly to hurt his enemy, or defend himself.

But the other standing for his defence, upon cunning Italian wards, Punta reversa, the Imbrocata, Stocata, and being fast tied unto these false fights, stands troubled in his wits, and nature thereby racked through the largeness or false lyings or spaces, whereby he is in his fight as a man half maimed, loosing the opportunity of times and benefit of nature, & whereas before being ignorant of these false rapier fights, standing in the free liberty of nature given to him by God, he was able in the field with his weapons to answer the most valiant man in the world, but now being tied unto that false, fickle uncertain fight, thereby has lost in nature his freedom, is now become scarce half a man, and every boy in that fight is become as good a man as himself.
Now, we know that doesn't prove out: but it is definitely the case that you go through a period in which you become less effective when you are learning a new art. The man who walks in off the street will throw a punch or a kick without thinking about it; after he has been taught for a while, he will be focusing his mind on every aspect of the punch and the kick, trying to plan his next moves, and thereby lose all these advantages that Silver describes.

This is why boxers practice combinations: so they can train their body to react without thought, but bring the art into their subconscious. This is why the Zen martial arts practice "no mind," for the same reason. And it is why Bruce Lee said, "Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."

A Georgia SCOTUS Justice?

A Georgia SCOTUS Justice?

I'm sure that none of the President's potential nominees are going to be wholly acceptable to me, but it isn't to be expected that they should be. That said, this one sounds much better than the others I've read about:

Former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears is also on the short list, a senior White House official tells ABC News.‬

Sears, who will turn 55 in June, was the first female African-American chief justice in US history, and when nominated for the state supreme court by then-Gov. Zell Miller in 1992, she became the first woman and the youngest person to ever sit on the court.‬

She stepped down from the court last year and currently practices law at Schiff Hardin.‬

A graduate of Emory University Law School, Sears was on President Obama’s short list last year. A member of the left-leaning American Constitution Society, she is also a friend of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.‬
Two things about her are good things to know. The first is that she was appointed by Zell Miller, who -- while certainly not a Republican-style conservative -- was no leftist even during his centrist period, when he believed more in governmental activism than he did later. Second, her ability to maintain a friendship with Clarence Thomas suggests that she is not predisposed to despise conservatives, as so many on the left seem to do. That quality -- the ability to see past our differences and maintain a friendship in spite of philosophical disagreements -- is one that we should value very highly in a potential Justice.

Of course, all I know about her is what I've read in the source linked here; this is merely an initial impression. Still, given that the President is certain to appoint someone with whom I have strong disagreements on judicial and legal philosophy, this one sounds initially like the sort of opponent I would prefer.


Avrix mi Galanica:

Helmets Galore

Helmets Galore:

Thanks to Dellbabe, we have an impressive selection of helmets, with a few statues to boot.



An odd thing to say during tax week: "No one I’ve met is looking for a handout" JWF reminds us of some of Obama's supporters, who very much were looking for a handout.

Yet what struck me about the line was something different: why would a tax refund be a "handout" in any case? I'll be getting a tax refund this year, partially because I paid withholding at a higher rate than proved to be necessary, and partially because we bought a house and were eligible for the tax credit associated with that.

In the first case, it's not a "handout," because the government is simply returning money of mine that they've held onto for a year or so, collecting the interest (which they will be keeping).

In the second case, it's not a handout, because the government is still returning my money. It's just decided, for policy reasons, that they might like to have me spend my money directly to help stabilize the housing market, rather than spending my money for me. All that money was paid by me into the fund, though, and they held onto it. If they send it back, it was mine to start with.

It's important to understand how this works, because this 'health care' business is going to work the same way. The government decided to make itself a party to my transaction, in order to make housing purchases more attractive. We bought the house back in the fall. The government will, they say, return the tax credit to me soon. So essentially I fronted the money twice: once to the government (in taxes), and once to the bank (for the house). The government held onto "their" portion of that money for another six months (collecting the interest!). Now presumably they'll consent to keep their part of the bargain by refunding "their part" of my money to me.

This was Dennis the Peasant's explanation of how your forced health insurance purchases will work. If you are in the income range to be eligible for government "assistance," it comes as a refundable tax credit. So, this is the deal:

1) You front the money, both by paying taxes and paying for the insurance.

2) Maybe we'll pay you back the tax part.

3) We keep the interest.

4) We kindly imply, on tax week, that we don't think you're "looking for a handout" by collecting your refund.

What a deal!