Dolor Occultus

Dolor occultus

An article that takes up where the recent expansion of the official list of psychiatric disorders left off: Asymptomatic Depression: Hidden Epidemic and Huge Untapped Market.

The author proposes a binary approach to diagnosis and treatment. If the patient acknowledges depression, he is treated with drugs that have a variety of unpleasant side effects, the severity of which convince him of their power to alleviate depression. If the patient does not acknowledge depression, he is diagnosed with "putative axiomatic biochemical imbalance" and treated with the same drugs, until the side effects induce a more classical presentation of depression symptoms, after which he can be treated as usual for depression.

H/t Maggie's Farm

Wikileaks & Public Service

Wikileaks & Public Service:

Although the transfer of secret diplomatic documents to Wikileaks was an act of treason, it is not the only betrayal that the episode has revealed. The betrayal of our British allies by this administration does not quite rise to the level of treason, since we cannot commit treason against any country but our own. Nevertheless, it is shocking to the conscience.

The Obama administration plainly dislikes the British, but the rest of us Americans have warm regards for the mother country. We had our disputes at first, but have been strong allies since coming to terms on our independence. That is reasonable, as the British idea of freedom and human liberty -- not the French doctrine, which served as the root of so many of the early democratic movements -- is the root of the American ideal. We have often fought together in defense of our mutual ideals, across many wars and the entire world.

How Bad is This?

How Bad Is This?

Georgia is my home state, so when I see a political story located here I have to take notice. What a doozy this one is!

Georgia Republican state Rep. Bobby Franklin (of gold-standard-wannabe fame) has introduced a bill to change the state’s criminal codes so that in “criminal law and criminal procedure” (read: in court), victims of rape, stalking, and family violence could only be referred to as “accusers” until the defendant has been convicted.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee says:
Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you’ve been victimized. He says you’re an accuser until the courts have determined otherwise.

To diminish a victim’s ordeal by branding him/her an accuser essentially questions whether the crime committed against the victim is a crime at all. Robbery, assault, and fraud are all real crimes with real victims, the Republican asserts with this bill.

Rep. Franklin surely is aware that the crimes for which he believes there are no victims are disproportionately committed against women—and are disproportionately committed by men.
It is a reasonable point that the victim of a rape has suffered emotional damage, and the court should give attention to the question of not inflicting further damage. It's fair to ask that the court use language that will not cause insult or offense.

Where I differ with the DLCC is here: that interest in protecting the victim has to be balanced against the bedrock legal principle of presumptive innocence. That may be of particular importance in cases where one of the questions before the court is whether a rape did, in fact, take place -- either because of disputes about consent, or questions of whether or not there was really sex at all. The court has to be careful not to prejudice the jury in either direction. If those interests cannot be balanced completely, shouldn't we err in favor of the bedrock legal principle that is protecting someone who is in jeopardy of losing freedom or life?

Perhaps not! There may well be cases when the presumption of innocence is a facade that no one can really keep up; frequently in criminal court everyone is quite sure of the guilt of the accused because of numerous past offenses. In those cases, the court may do the minimum necessary to keep up the facade for the sake of the jury, and no more than is required. Certainly in cases where there is no dispute that a rape occurred -- where the accused is merely disputing that he was the one who committed it -- it would make no sense to force the court to refer to the woman as "an accuser" rather than a victim. In cases where there is reasonable doubt, though, and where the fact of the rape is in dispute, it may be necessary for the court to consider the issue of language to ensure a fair outcome.

The issue is surely a complicated one; it is probably best be left to the discretion of the judge, rather than handled with an across-the-board legislative remedy. I agree that this attempt is clumsy and ill-advised. I'm not convinced that the motivating sentiment is immoral, or that a bill aimed at this matter should be taken as prima facie evidence of bias against women.

Permitorium Hell and Waiver Heaven

"Permitorium" Hell and Waiver Heaven

Laws that theoretically allow citizens to conduct their lawful business, but in fact leave the regime's political enemies exposed to the the whim of a bureaucrat who can refuse to grant a permit. Laws that theoretically compel all citizens to adopt an unpopular and ruinous course of business, but in fact leave the regime's political friends a loophole via waivers. None of it is consistent with free citizens co-existing with a properly limited government.

Look at the flap over the Planned Parenthood videos. People who believe in the importance of granting young women unrestricted access to what they call "reproductive healthcare" are alert to the dangers of imposing too many regulations on abortions to minors, such as parental consent requirements. Over-regulation in that context clearly undermines the essential freedom guaranteed by the law, right? Imagine how they'd react to the idea of a law "guaranteeing" the right to abortion by either subjecting it to a permit process, or outlawing it subject to the possibility of a waiver.


The Lottery:

A voluntary tax on the stupid, it has been called; but that may be too strong. It is merely a voluntary tax on the innumerate. Just how much this is true is revealed by the statistician who broke the code:

After analyzing his results, Srivastava realized that the singleton trick worked about 90 percent of the time, allowing him to pick the winning tickets before they were scratched.

His next thought was utterly predictable: “I remember thinking, I’m gonna be rich! I’m gonna plunder the lottery!” he says. However, these grandiose dreams soon gave way to more practical concerns. “Once I worked out how much money I could make if this was my full-time job, I got a lot less excited,” Srivastava says. “I’d have to travel from store to store and spend 45 seconds cracking each card. I estimated that I could expect to make about $600 a day. That’s not bad. But to be honest, I make more as a consultant, and I find consulting to be a lot more interesting than scratch lottery tickets.”
So, in other words, if you're good enough to beat the lottery? You can make more money doing honest work.
A Pheasant Pie:

Served with a good brown ale.



A new book provides a 'biography' of a city.

Over three millennia people have believed the city to be the bridge between heaven and earth. But it has usually been a dangerous crossing. Jerusalem has inspired courage, sacrifice and chivalry; art, architecture, and music. It has also sunk into persecution, brutality, butchery, squalor and venereal disease. Just to its south lies the Valley of Hinnom, notorious for child sacrifices even in the early Jewish era. As a result, it came to be known as Gehenna: hell. Given Jerusalem’s history, it is appropriate that it should have its own branch of Hades.
Jerusalem is surely one of the most fascinating cities in the world, even apart from religious history. Just the question of its relationship to water is fascinating. I have only become interested in it recently, but the more you learn about it, the stranger and more gripping the story becomes.



Fox News reports that President Obama botched a Bible verse.

"Those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint," the president said during a speech to several thousand people at the breakfast.

But the actual passage, from Isaiah 40:31, states: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
The implication Fox wants you to draw from this is almost certainly backwards. Historians normally take an error of that sort to be evidence that someone was quoting from memory, as memory often contains minor errors. For example, Aristotle frequently misquotes Homer; this is usually thought to prove that Aristotle had spent a lot of time reading and thinking about Homer, so that he didn't feel it was necessary to look up the passage he wanted to reference.

So, the President's misquote is probably evidence that he's spent a fair amount of time reading the Bible. That's just the opposite of what is being implied, but it's the normal conclusion we would draw from someone who gives a close misquote.

Lost Music Found

Lost Music Found

When we were kids, my sister and I listened to a four-record set night and day, full of great folk songs. We lost it long ago and couldn't find it online. Although we could remember many of the songs, we were sure we remembered that it was called the Newport Folk Festival of some year or another. Now and then we'd find a recording of one of these festivals, but never what we remembered.

The other day a synapse tripped while my sister was trolling YouTube videos of old music recordings: the record set was called "Folk Songs and Minstrelsy." With this clue, we found a copy of the boxed set on eBay. It was a Book of the Month Vanguard recording; only the fourth record is marked "Newport Folk Festival." Googling it, I noticed that every few years someone writes an article about how much they remember loving this set and how sorry they are it was never released on CD. Some of the artists, like Odetta, were prominent enough that particular tracks, or similar ones, showed up on CDs. But, oh! this boxed set has everything I remember, and cuts I've never been able to find again:


  1. Sumer Is Icumen In: The Deller Consort
  2. He That Will an Alehouse Keep: The Deller Consort
  3. Greensleeves: The Deller Consort
  4. We Be Soldiers Three: The Deller Consort
  5. Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies: Leon Bibb
  6. Squirrel: Leon Bibb
  7. Cotton Eyed Joe: Leon Bibb
  8. Darlin': Leon Bibb
  9. Poor Lolette: Leon Bibb


  1. The Golden Vanity: Ronnie Gilbert
  2. Go From My Window: Ronnie Gilbert
  3. Johnny Is Gone for a Soldier: Ronnie Gilbert
  4. Spanish Is a Loving Tongue: Ronnie Gilbert
  5. House of the Rising Sun: Ronnie Gilbert
  6. East Texas Red: Cisco Houston
  7. The Sinking of the Reuben James: Cisco Houston


  1. Meet The Johnson Boys: The Weavers
  2. The Wild Gooses Grasses: The Weavers
  3. Aweigh, Santy Ano: The Weavers
  4. Get Along, Little Dogies: The Weavers
  5. The Erie Canal: The Weavers
  6. We're All Dodgin': The Weavers
  7. The State of Arkansas: The Weavers
  8. Greenland Whale Fisheries: The Weavers
  9. Eddystone Light: The Weavers

SIDE 4: Odetta

  1. I've Been Driving on Bald Mountain/Water Boy
  2. Saro Jane
  3. God's A-Gonna Cut You Down
  4. John Riley
  5. John Henry
  6. All The Pretty Horses
  7. No More Auction Block for Me

SIDE 5: Odetta

  1. The Foggy Dew
  2. No More Cane on the Brazos
  3. The Fox
  4. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
  5. The Ox Driver
  6. Another Man Done Gone
  7. I'm Going Back to the Red Clay Country

SIDE 6: Cisco Houston

  1. Talking Guitar Blues
  2. Danville Girl
  3. Old Dan Tucker
  4. The Buffalo Skinners
  5. The Streets of Laredo
  6. Hard Travelin'
  7. Bonneville Dam
  8. Do Re Mi
  9. The Wreck of the Old 97
  10. John Hardy


  1. The Bold Fisherman: Ed McCurdy
  2. When Cockle Shells Turn Silver Bells: Ed McCurdy
  3. Frankie and Johnny: Ed McCurdy
  4. Lang A-Growin': Ewan MacColl
  5. Virgin Mary Had One Son: Joan Baez/Bob Gibson
  6. Wayfaring Stranger: Bob Gibson
  7. The Hangman: John Jacob Niles
  8. I Know an Old Lady: Alan Mills


  1. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye: Tom Makem
  2. The Whistling Gypsy: Tom Makem
  3. The Cobbler's Song: Tom Makem
  4. Railroad Bill: Cisco Houston
  5. The Cat Came Back: Cisco Houston
  6. East Virginia Blues: Pete Seeger
  7. Old Joe Clark: Jimmy Driftwood
  8. The Unfortunate Man: Jimmy Driftwood

Reviewer Jim Clark notes:

One of the frequent memories of those older than about 30 is how free childhood was back then. Most of us went outside in the morning, returned briefly for dinner, and returned to the world until bedtime. Games were organized by the kids playing them, streets were avenues to the far corners of the known world, and parents were arbitrary and bizarre creatures who appeared only to bring bad news. We lived free, had fun, and learned life's lessons at our pace and in our way. And most of us made it.

But no longer. No, today's kids are protected from germs, weather, competition, failure, loss, disappointment, and anything distasteful. Who would let their children listen to "The Cat Came Back" today? "They dropped him in the hopper when the butcher wasn't round, the cat disappeared with a blood-curdling shriek, and the town's meat tasted furry for a week."

My neighbor's Christmas present this year included equipment and software for transferring LPs to digital format. If she'll help me digitize this box set, I think I'll even learn how to upload it to YouTube.

Japenese Sword INferor

On the Inferiority of Japanese Swords:

An account:

Some doubts of the temper of these swords arose in consequence of a playful encounter which happened on board one of the ships, in which a Japanese sword suffered some injury from the cuts of an English one, which had received several cuts from the Japanese sword without receiving any dents...

Irish Crochet Lace

Irish Crochet Lace

I've finished my first project from the Irish Crochet Lace book that my sister sent me for Christmas. What fun! This is a christening cap for my newest grand-nephew.

Four Loko = Ethanol

"How Four Loko Became Ethanol"

A video by Mary Katherine Ham examines the way that a popular drink -- one people were eager to buy -- has been banned by the government, and is now being subsidized as ethanol.

If the people were really in charge of the government, this would not happen: not because of Four Loko, which is popular only with the young and foolish, but because we don't want ethanol in our gasoline. This wonderful product absolutely destroys small engines, such as those in chainsaws, and turns gasoline into something like varnish in about a month. I lost a chainsaw to it last year; and when I spoke with several small engine repairmen in the course of trying to get it fixed, I learned that the problem is epidemic.

(Another great idea from the EPA: make chainsaw manufacturers craft engines that run on 50:1 oil mix instead of the richer 40:1 mix. The extra oil in older small engines is of great benefit to keeping those engines from tearing themselves apart when run with the new ethanol mix. Pity they're not allowed to make them that way anymore! Environmentalists who are high-fiving each other can take a few minutes to reflect on the additional coal being burned to power the plants that are making new chainsaws, because the old ones are being destroyed and have to be replaced. Meanwhile, for your average American who just wants a small engine that works reliably? Tough luck, buddy. The government's not in the business of considering your requirements. It's in the business of telling you what to do.)

These ethanol subsidies are great for the massive agricultural corporations that dominate the corn industry. They are terrible for the average American who wants to mow his lawn or cut his own firewood. The poor college kids are getting sucked in as well. None of this is about what we want. All of it is about the government having the power to control our personal decisions, and have the power to choose winners and losers in the market. That power means they can readily command the bribes that have come to define the American political and regulatory system, whether those bribes are paid in the form of campaign contributions, plush honorariums for speeches, or generously-paid jobs or consultancies after their political career.

This activity is framed as beneficial, but it is really parasitic.

Gratuitous Gender Wars Provocation

Gratuitous Gender Wars Provocation

A reader wrote to a favorite word-maven columnist of mine with a question about word usage. Because the usage was called to mind by an episode of Laurel & Hardy, he stopped to muse about why women never seem to like either Laurel & Hardy or The Three Stooges. He said that women of his acquaintance found the humor too "mean." The word maven agreed, and extended the principle to the Marx Brothers.

Now there I have to protest. My sister and I always have been crazy for the Marx Brothers. The word maven defined genuine enthusiasm for this peerless comedy team as "being willing to watch Duck Soup three times a year." I'd happily watch it once a month, and the same goes for "A Night at the Opera." It's my husband that stares a little blankly when they come on. I have to admit that I'm no more than moderately amused by Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges, but I can't say they're any "meaner" than the Marx Brothers. It's true I have a high threshold for meanness as long as no animals are involved.

How about it, Hall members? Does the Y chromosome control the slapstick reflex, by and large, in your experience? Am I an outlier, corrupted by my elder sister?

Snow Strategies

Snow Strategies

Chicago is using a fleet of snowmobiles to transport patients from inaccessible homes or cars to waiting ambulances. The snowmobiles pull the patients on a kind of basket-sled behind them.

Lake Shore Drive was no place to be. This is some AP footage. Be prepared to be annoyed at the attitude struck by the TV crew.

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

I've been meaning to read this piece at The American Thinker since DL Sly recently included the link in a comment. It's hard to know what to make of the account, but it certainly provides a perspective I haven't been reading elsewhere. The author, described as an Egyptian student, sees the uprising as a popular backlash against moderately capitalist reforms by Mubarak's heir apparent, Gamal, which were never sold effectively to a population used to nanny-state control of the economy and a lot of socialist security. He also attributes the uprising almost entirely to the organizational tools of Twitter. He believes that, although the initial "flash" mobs were exaggerated, they were big enough to panic a crusty old autocracyinto shutting down the Internet. Paradoxically, the populace responded with emboldened ridicule of a repressive government running scared of modern communications.

Perhaps most interesting is the account of how, between the withdrawal of the security forces and the arrival of the army, the population took advantage of the power vacuum to storm every police station and prison in the country, free the prisoners, and confiscate the weapons. Then, as widespread looting broke out, neighborhoods spontaneously organized to protect each block with their new weapons. The author feels that the mass of the people have stopped demonstrating and are looking to the army to shut down the Islamist troublemakers. He also feels, however, that the neighborhoods will not soon forget that they took their security into their own hands, and successfully.

The author closes with a strange combination of predicting that nothing important will change, while at the same time suggesting that everything has changed. In the meantime, Egypt's economy won't soon recover, and capitalist reforms (if that is in fact what's been going on there) are at an end for the foreseeable future.

Monster Storm

Monster Storm

This thing was really huge. Even way down here it's giving us several days of hard freeze, with ice and even snow possibly on the way in the next day or two. It's a good thing we prepared for the paradoxical effects of global warmening by wrapping the citrus trees and laying in a supply of firewood.

St. Raymond

St. Raymond of Fitero:

Dad29 sends this story of a warrior monk.

Apparently St. Raymond was a model monk, for he was elected as the prior of the new monastery of Nienzabas on land granted by the King Alfonso VII of Castile and afterwards became abbot, relocating the house to Fitero around 1150.

It is here that St. Raymond’s military career begins. At the death of King Alfonso in 1158, St. Raymond went to Toledo to confirm Fitero’s privileges with the new king, Sancho III, taking with him to court Diego Velásquez, a knight turned Cistercian lay brother. At the same time, the Kinghts Templar had given up hope of holding the stronghold of Calatrava, which sat at the southern border of Christian Spain, and had withdrawn. In desperation, Sancho offered Calatrava to whoever could hold it.
We might consider doing that with Detroit -- at least, if there remain any Cistercians who think they could make it work.


Evils Done:

Some commentary:

When asked how long a girl might have to wait to get back to the work of the sex trade after an abortion, two weeks minimum is the answer. He protests, “We’ve still got to make money.” The clinic worker understands his predicament and so advises that the girls can still work “Waist up, or just be that extra action walking by..." to advertise[.]
For a long time I was persuaded that, however personally opposed I might be to abortion, it was a matter of decent respect to let the individuals involved make such an intimate decision according to their private moral conscience. Here we see no such example. The girl, if she has a private moral conscience kept intact despite the trauma, is not really being consulted. She is left at the mercy of a pimp and his accomplice -- one who probably thinks of herself as a defender of something like "women's rights," at the same time she consorts in the slavery of women.

The American project is conscious of the importance of individual liberty, which is what has allowed the practice of abortion to survive our moral good sense. The rot that has followed from that infection -- is that language too strong? -- now poisons us. Probably this woman got into her line of work thinking she was doing good. This is what she is doing instead.
Ayo Gurkhali!

It's OK to bring a knife to a gunfight, if you know what to do with the knife.

A 35 year-old Gurkha soldier named Bishnu Shrestha was riding a train when he suddenly found himself in the middle of a massive robbery. 40 men armed with knives, swords and guns stormed the train and began robbing the passengers.

Bishnu kept his peace while the gang snatched cell phones, jewelry and cash from other riders. But then, the thugs grabbed the 18 year-old girl sitting next to him and forcefully stripped her naked. Before the bandits could rape the poor girl in front of her helpless parents, Bishnu decided he had enough.

“The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´,” Shrestha recalled. “I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister.”
"One man shall drive a hundred, as the dead kings drave."

Obama Invokes the Kerry Doctrine

Watching various members of the Obama administration twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels over the individual mandate, erstwhile admirers of the former Junior Senator from Massachusetts might be forgiven for wondering whether we're not witnessing the return of the Kerry Doctrine? Here's a short history lesson for those of you who need a refresher:
''There are those trying to say somehow that Democrats should be admitting they were wrong'' in opposing the gulf war resolution, Kerry noted in one Senate floor speech. But he added, ''There is not a right or wrong here. There was a correctness in the president's judgment about timing. But that does not mean there was an incorrectness in the judgment other people made about timing.''

For you see, Kerry continued, ''Again and again and again in the debate, it was made clear that the vote of the U.S. Senate and the House on the authorization of immediate use of force on Jan. 12 was not a vote as to whether or not force should be used.''

In laying out the Kerry Doctrine -- that in voting on a use-of-force resolution that is not a use-of-force resolution, the opposite of the correct answer is also the correct answer -- Kerry was venturing off into the realm of Post-Cartesian Multivariate Co-Directionality that would mark so many of his major foreign policy statements.

Back in 2008 our Fave Constitutional Law Prof was inclined to oppose the individual mandate on the grounds that such measures grant Congress far too much power: 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.

Of course, the beauty of evolving standards of Constitutionality is that legal scholars like the President need wait only a year or two before heaping scorn on their own arguments!
Much of Judge Vinson‘s ruling was a discussion of how the Founding Fathers, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, saw the limits on congressional power. Judge Vinson hypothesized that, under the Obama administration‘s legal theory, the government could mandate that all citizens eat broccoli.

White House officials said that sort of “surpassingly curious reading” called into question Judge Vinson‘s entire ruling.

“There’s something thoroughly odd and unconventional about the analysis,” said a White House official who briefed reporters late Monday afternoon, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

One wonders: did that "anonymous" White House official realize that his boss had made precisely this argument just a short time ago? Ah well... this is hardly the first time the Obama administration has been caught talking out of both sides of its mouth. Why, just a few months ago the individual mandate was not - we repeat, NOT - a tax:
... Mr. Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was equivalent to a tax.

...When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Congress anticipated a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. Accordingly, the law includes 10 detailed findings meant to show that the mandate regulates commercial activity important to the nation’s economy. Nowhere does Congress cite its taxing power as a source of authority.

It took only few months for that argument, too, to become "surpassingly curious", if not downright "odd and unconventional":
When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Here we see the beauty of the Kerry Doctrine, in which the administration and Congressional Democrats can argue that the individual mandate is NOT - we repeat, NOT A TAX - while claiming that it is justified under Congress's well known power to collect things-that-are-NOT-taxes for the general welfare. The severability argument is likewise disposed of by the Kerry Doctrine. Judge Vinson's finding that the individual mandate cannot be severed from the overall bill without fatally compromising the bill's overall objective is plainly an unwarranted and unreasonable judicial power grab:
... both the administration, which is implementing the law and defending it in court, and Congress, which wrote and passed the law, have made clear that the individual mandate is an absolutely critical provision. Vinson explains:

The defendants have acknowledged that the individual mandate and the Act’s health insurance reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community rating, will rise or fall together as these reforms “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate].” As explained in my order on the motion to dismiss: “the defendants concede that [the individual mandate] is absolutely necessary for the Act’s insurance market reforms to work as intended. In fact, they refer to it as an ‘essential’ part of the Act at least fourteen times in their motion to dismiss.” [bold added]

Vinson provides several examples, and also notes that Congress itself, in drafting the law's text, put forth a similar claim:

Congress has also acknowledged in the Act itself that the individual mandate is absolutely “essential” to the Act’s overarching goal of expanding the availability of affordable health insurance coverage and protecting individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.

Of course, when both Congress and the administration made the same argument the searing, Kerryesque logic was impossible to refute.

Lesser minds might see hypocrisy in the administration's toffee nosed condemnation of its own arguments, but discerning intellects know that false dichotomies like "right/wrong" or "then/now" cannot withstand the compelling logic of one John Foragainst Kerry:

Kerry has made clear that if he is elected president, the nation will never face a caveat shortage. He has established the foragainst method, which has enabled him to be foragainst the war in Iraq, foragainst the Patriot Act and foragainst No Child Left Behind. If you decide to vote for him this year, there would be a correctness in that judgment, but if you decide to vote for George Bush, that would also be correct.

How conveeeeeeeeeeeeeenient.

Militia SH

A Militia Stalking Horse?

This maneuver is likely to teach everyone the wrong lesson.

Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense....”

The measure is known as an act “to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self defense of themselves and others.”

Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls, is sponsoring the bill and knows it will be killed. But he said he is introducing it to prove a point that the federal health care reform mandate passed last year is unconstitutional.

“Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance,” he said.
This is a highly problematic approach for two reasons.

1) It blurs the distinction between what a state government can do, and what the Federal government can do. The argument that the Federal government cannot issue a mandate of this type is based on a reading of the Commerce Clause plus the 10th Amendment. There is no similar argument that a state government cannot do so. Indeed, under the 10th Amendment, they could possibly have the power precisely because the Federal government is forbidden it.

2) The militia is the one case where even the Federal government has clear Constitutional authority to require you to provide yourselves with positive goods. The argument against the health care bill's individual mandate arises from the Commerce Clause limitation on Federal authority; but there is specific language in Article I, Section 8 that authorizes Congress to do things precisely like ordering individuals to own a proper weapon for militia service.
The Congress shall have Power.... 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[.]
As an act of grandstanding, then, this misses the point on every possible level. If I didn't have such a generous character, I'd suspect this representative is running a stalking horse operation intentionally to muddy the water between these kinds of cases. Instead, I'll simply assume that he hasn't studied the issue enough to know how dumb his idea his.

UPDATE: InstaPundit put up a post on the same subject sixteen minutes after I posted this. I mention that not to boast about scooping Professor Reynolds -- his contributions to speedy blogging are certainly beyond my ability to contest -- but to make a point about the nature of the TEA Party movement. The idea behind the TEA Party is that the citizen can (and should be able to) understand the Constitution and its foundations, and thus judge whether and how a given law is genuinely an appropriate exercise of government authority. InstaPundit is a law professor; I am not a lawyer at all. He writes:
I don’t think this bill makes the constitutional point its sponsor intends — state governments, unlike the federal government, are not limited to enumerated powers. But even the federal government could require citizens to own guns under its militia power, as opposed to the commerce power. In fact, it did just that in the Militia Act of 1792, but I rather doubt that this power would extend to requiring ObamaCare under that clause, which empowers Congress “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.”
The benefit of being a law professor is obvious in his citation of the Militia Act, which was a concrete example of the general principle. Still, if you had simply read and studied the Constitution itself, you would have everything you needed. It provides both the distinction between state and Federal authorities; and makes clear that in only one of the two cases is there clear enumerated power to do what is proposed.

That's not to disparage the value of a legal education, nor to scorn the contributions of those who have one. It is only to demonstrate that this is the kind of thing that ordinary citizens really can do -- it's not that hard. There's a question about why elected officials don't seem to be able to do it! Yet it is clear that the Constitution is not the province of an elite. It belongs to the citizens, both those living today, and those who crafted it over the centuries.

Kitchen Nostalgia

Kitchen Nostalgia

Megan McArdle has posted a piece on changes in food technology over the last century or so, which has sparked a lively discussion in her comments thread. Commenters obviously hail from all points on the spectrum, from people who can remember their grandparents' ways with cooking stoves and food they raised themselves, to others who rely mostly on restaurants and microwaves and don't see what the fuss is about.

Because of my persistent flirtation with TEOTWAWKI thinking, and our hobby of fiddling around with old-fashioned food preservation techniques like canning and pickle-brining and home-raised ingredients, I find this subject endlessly fascinating. I particularly enjoy reading about people's assumptions regarding the only feasible sources of some kinds of food. It reminds me of my trip to the grocery store a few years ago. I was checking out with some strawberries and some heavy cream. The young checker, chatting me up, asked what I was going to do with the cream, and I explained that I would whip it to go with the strawberries. She was enchanted. It had never occurred to her that you could create whipping cream at home.

We've never lived in a primitive cabin, but we often used to go on brief camping trips in kayaks, where it was impossible to bring much in the way of ice or cooking gear or even potable water, so we learned some tricks of primitive cooking. If need were, we could cook quite well in a fireplace. We also like to learn ways to make things at home, against the day when we might not be able to get supplies, and just because it's fun.

It takes a lot of time, of course. You'd better enjoy doing it, or it never will be worth the trouble. What's more, there's no denying that some modern conveniences eliminate drudgery that no one wants to return to. One commenter, for instance, cracked me up by asking innocently whether anyone had ever personally waxed a floor. It's true that some years back we replaced the linoleum with a hard tile, never again to face the unappealing job of stripping and waxing a kitchen floor, but -- hey -- it hasn't been that long ago. These days, if I were building a new house and couldn't fit tile floors into the budget, I'd be installing a concrete floor sloped toward a center drain: something you could get clean with a garden hose. No more floor wax for this 21st century gal.



It's difficult to know what to make of the Egypt situation. It is clear that there is a genuinely popular movement kicking off there; our instincts ought to be to support such a movement. On the other hand, there are clearly some radical elements in that movement -- and we all remember how well it worked out when we backed the popular movement led by the radical Fidel Castro in Cuba. What happens to be popular at any given moment may not be virtuous, and there are good reasons to be suspicious about the virtues of some of the leadership elements here.

One might be inclined to look to guiding stars, but they are giving mixed signals on this issue. For example, John Kerry is strongly in favor of backing the democracy movement.

...tear gas canisters marked “Made in America” fired at protesters, United States-supplied F-16 jet fighters streaking over central Cairo.
Normally when Kerry starts talking like that, I know just which way to lean; but then comes Richard Cohen, another man whose judgment is highly reliable.
The dream of a democratic Egypt is sure to produce a nightmare.

Egypt's problems are immense. It has a population it cannot support, a standard of living that is stagnant and a self-image as leader of the (Sunni) Arab world that does not, really, correspond to reality. It also lacks the civic and political institutions that are necessary for democracy. The next Egyptian government - or the one after - might well be composed of Islamists. In that case, the peace with Israel will be abrogated and the mob currently in the streets will roar its approval.
The man I really want to consult I don't know how to reach. Our translator/interpreter in Iraq -- he was also my roommate for a while -- was a man from Egypt. He was an older man, just old enough to have only white hair, and a poet in his native Arabic: he was working on a Ph.D. in his spare time. I remember watching President Obama's inauguration with him, on AFN. He was crying -- literally with tears streaming down his face. I asked him why, and he said it was because "This could never happen in my country."

By "this," I took him to mean the peaceful transfer of authority between parties and individuals who disagreed about the right thing to do (peaceful and friendly, even -- Bush was quite jovial about getting to get on that helicopter and get out of town).

My sense is that he would want us to back the movement, because it offers hope instead of only stability. Hope includes the possibility of disappointment: it is hope, after all, not certainty. Still, it is one of the great virtues. Perhaps we should practice it now.


Constitutional Tea:

I didn't have time to read the decision in yesterday's Obamacare case, though I was pleased to learn from news reports that it had voided the entire act. Now that I've had more time, I'm fairly pleased with it. The judge has done precisely what a member of the elite should do: refer to the Constitution and the original principles explicated in the Federalist Papers (or, in the case of later amendments, similar documentation); examine the current case in the light of those principles; and issue a decision that forces adherence to those principles.

That's what the Constitution is for. The law means just what it meant when it was enacted and nothing else; if you want to change the law, that's fine, but you must do so according to Article V (which is also part of the original law). Judges who catch the government trying to pull a fast one on that should slap it down. If the elite -- that is, if Congress and federal judges and administrators and so forth -- consistently did this, there would be little need for a TEA Party, and little reason for it to concern them.

The most impressive aspect of the ruling is that it starts with Federalist 51; it is delightful to see that it includes wording from then-candidate Obama. This was a good line too, and one that shows where the man's heart is:

It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.
That's a very good point. The tea mattered then, and it matters now.

Pathetic Youngsters Going to Die

Pathetic Youngsters Going to Die:

This is framed as a gender story, but it's really a story about rising incompetence among the young. That's too bad, because we needed them to survive to pay all these debts we're putting on their shoulders.

BASIC "female" skills are becoming endangered with fewer young women able to iron a shirt, cook a roast chicken or hem a skirt.

Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily....
That's all well and good, if the reason is that they are acquiring other skills that will let them pay others to roast their chickens and hem their skirts. Too, it's not like you couldn't pick those skills up in short order if you found that you needed them.

Still, today's xkcd flowchart suggests that the problem may be real. How many youngsters can operate a chainsaw? Change a tire, or fix a flat? Hit a man-sized target with a rifle at 300 yards? Fight with a knife? Write a poem?

Is it a big deal that they can't? What can they do instead?


Ya'll Be Careful Out There:

Jousting re-enactor killed in freak accident.

Paul Allen, 54, died when the shard from his wooden lance flew through the eye slit in his helmet and pierced his eye socket, inflicting horrific brain injuries.

The tiny balsa wood splinter was sent flying through the air when a joust struck his shield at Rockingham Castle near Corby, Northants.
Balsa wood!
A Beautiful Day in January:

The temperature today topped at seventy-one degrees. I spent the morning splitting wood -- for next winter -- and then devoted the afternoon to a motorcycle ride.

The photo is from last April, as I forgot to take the camera today, but it was much the same. What a glorious day. All the good things: fine weather, hard work, family, a good ride, and an evening fit for reading philosophy by a bit of wine. If every day were like this, ah!