Scots Songs

The Highland Games are over, but I'm still in the mood. A couple of these are sung by Irishmen, but they're Scots songs. One for T99, who identified it rightly:

"...ere the king's crown go down, there are crowns to be broke. So for each cavalier who loves honor and me, let him follow the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee."

And another, for every good-hearted brawler.

And one more, for true lovers. It's an odd piece of advice, but not a bad one: Go and ask your father, and you know he'll set you right.

UPDATE: See JW's suggestions in the comments; but here are two more.

This one especially is a fine song:

And of course there's American Scots.

A Small Matter

Eugene Robinson speaks in terms that echo Mark Steyn's focus on demographic trends.
Obama’s racial identity is a constant reminder of how much the nation has changed in a relatively short time. In my lifetime, we’ve experienced the civil rights movement, the countercultural explosion of the 1960s, the sexual revolution, the women’s movement and an unprecedented wave of Latino immigration. Within a few decades, there will be no white majority in this country — no majority of any kind, in fact.
Well, that's not quite right, Mr. Robinson. It's true that there won't be a racial or ethnic majority in this country. There will be pluralities. There will presumably be a majority of either male or female voters, most likely female given historic and demographic trends, but it will be a small one.

There will, however, still be one very solid majority in this country: Christians. Christians currently make up 78.4% of Americans, and the growth of Latino voters will not undermine that figure. Catholics, once a reasonably reliable Democratic Party bloc, have been swinging more and more into the Republican column. This is reflected in the party leadership. Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential nominee of the party, is a Catholic. Rick Santorum, near-victor of the Republican primary, is a Knight of Malta. Newt Gingrich, in the top three or four, is a Catholic by conversion.

More and more the Republican party is the party that supports a society roughly built around Christian norms, if not explicitly on Christian teachings. More and more the Democratic Party is the party of undermining and defying those norms. As Christian norms are not all that different from conservative Jewish or even mainstream Islamic norms, there will be a draw even beyond the loose boundaries of the faith of the Cross.

Maybe you can rely on ethnic or racial plurality to overcome that powerful majority interest. I'm betting it won't work out. The very trends making black and Latino voters a richer and more successful part of American society are going to make them less susceptible to manipulation by ethnic patronage. As they rise into the core of American society, they will no longer need -- and may no longer want -- special privileges in hiring or education. They may begin to look to higher values, as people usually do when their economic needs are satisfied.

Just a thought.

No intelligence?

Leon Panetta argued yesterday that help was denied to the besieged U.S. personnel in Benghazi because of a lack of intel.  Jennifer Griffin of Fox News reports otherwise today.  The two SEALS who were later killed were told twice to stand down, but went (with two others) to help the consulate personnel anyway.  Fighting continued at the CIA annex for four hours after the survivors were evacuated from the consulate.  A security officer operating a machine on the roof of the CIA annex "had a laser on the [terrorist mortar position] that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights."  Mortar fire killed the two SEALs.  Communications were intact; it was the response that was missing.

The Importance of Art

Glenn Reynolds' interview with Camile Paglia is worth watching. There is an important point that is raised and lost -- Paglia is moving too fast to recognize it -- which is that a recovery of conservative ideas is necessarily tied to a new birth of conservative art.  There is a huge tradition that she raises, from stained glass windows in cathedrals to the kind of soaring and spiritual music of bygone ages.  We could still make this; we don't.

That's our fault, and it is where we need to focus our efforts if we are to persuade the culture to follow us.  What people follow with their hearts is a vision of beauty.  All the greatest beauty is on our side, but for some reason, we have forgotten how to make and to deploy it.

A first in Nobel history

One laureate sues another . . . sort of.

We're all Nobel winners now.

Campaign dilemmas

A NYT blogger sadly concludes that Obama got bum campaign advice from Bill Clinton.   Obama could have attacked Romney for squishiness, but Clinton advised that no one ever won an election by complaining that his opponent was too shifty, as his own stellar career attests.  So Obama tried to paint Romney as a right-winger, only to find to his horror that no one who gets a direct look at Romney will believe it for a second.
The bottom line here is that one can over-think this whole notion of framing your opponent.  Ninety-nine times out of 100, the line of attack that works best is the one that really rings true.  In the case of Mr. Romney, whatever his stated positions may be, the idea that he’s a far-right ideologue, a kind of Rush Limbaugh with better suits and frosty hair, just doesn’t feel especially persuasive.
It must be painful to find out that the more effective approach would have been to take more account of reality and honesty -- especially since the Obama administration has so little expertise in those directions.

From the Stone Mountain Collection

Here are a few photos I took at the Stone Mountain historic collection of Civil War goods.  Most of these relate to the Battle of Atlanta, and Sherman's march east toward the sea.  I'm afraid I don't have notes, although Lewis Grizzard did:

PS:  Some of you may have found Mr. Grizzard's description of the army of General Sherman a little dismissive.  Here's how he handled our own Georgia Tech:


Elizabeth Duffy:  "How to Like Women."

Megan McArdle:  "Why Does Everyone Hate Women?"

It strikes me is that what people hate isn't the women, but the power structures that women often set up.

I understand disliking a specific woman who is vicious.  I also understand women like Ms. Duffy, who found the power structures that seem natural to girls horrible to live under as a girl, and who therefore wanted no part of them as an adult woman.  Some men, I suppose, are unable to win free of such things, and find themselves driven like cattle from one thing to another.  These women and these men have a natural antipathy to a form of control they do not know how to resist, and which is punishing and hateful to them.

Still, I've always liked women, and part of it is that I've always found myself entirely outside of these sorts of power plays.  The kinds of power that move me are different kinds, and these sorts of things have passed over me like shadows, without the power to bind.

Nevertheless, I can see how they bind others.  The question of how you treat those over whom you exercise power is deeply relevant to whether or not you earn my respect.  The women who have -- and there are many -- share a virtue in this regard.

Believe the Government - or Else!

I've been taking a first look at the complaint in Michael Mann's new lawsuit against Mark Steyn, National Review, and others. There's so much that's interesting, but I want to focus on one aspect.

As others have often noted, such a lawsuit runs up against the hardest standard for libel cases - New York Times v. Sullivan. Basically, if a "public figure" (which Mann essentially admits he is in paragraph 14) sues a "media defendant" (which fits most or all of the defendants here), he can't recover a penny of damages unless he proves "actual malice" - that is, he's got to prove that the person who made the statements knew they were false, or acted with "reckless disregard" as to their falsity. (The latter was important in the original case, because at least one statement printed by the Times actually was false.) Naturally, in reading the complaint, I was interested to see how Mann was going to argue that.

The answer is found in paragraph 21:
Following the publication of the CRU emails, Penn State, the University of East Anglia...and five governmental agencies...have conducted separate and independent investigations into the allegations of scientific misconduct against Dr. Mann and his colleagues. Every one of these investigations has reached the same conclusion: there is no basis to any of the allegations of scientific misconduct or manipulation of data.
Paragraph 30 goes on to say that "well-respected journalists," the pop-science magazine Discover, and (drumroll) the Union of Concerned Scientists all said nasty things about Steyn, NRO, and CEI "in the wake of these attacks."

Now, as it happens, Mann attaches the offending articles from CEI and NRO. And both these articles explain briefly why they don't agree with the "independent" investigations exonerating Mann. The CEI article includes links to the sources for their belief, and Steyn makes a pretty obvious reference to the "Mike's nature trick" Climategate email.

So there you have it. If the government conducts a bunch of investigations, and you don't believe them, and you don't believe left-wing advocacy groups and an editorial in a pop-sci magazine, according to Mann you've got "actual malice." Believe the government - or get sued and pay damages. The Green left has wandered into strange territory indeed!

A few other thoughts from me. In exhibit C (NRO's response to Mann's original threat), Rich Lowry comments that discover in this case may discomfit Mann considerably. That may well be true. Truth is a defense to libel claims, so any evidence that shows Mann is a "data manipulator" is relevant, and he can be made to disgorge it.

But the defendants should still try to have this complaint dismissed before discovery begins. The complaint itself and the attached documents, it seems to me, make a good case for that - a complaint has got to state facts which, if true, entitle the plaintiff to relief. "He had actual malice" is a legal conclusion, not a fact; "the government did investigaitons and said I'm innocent" is a fact, but in light of the attachments is a "so-what?" fact. If they can't get it dismissed, they should above all things try to win on summary judgment - show the judge that Mann has no evidence to prove Steyn disbelieved (or didn't care about the truth of) what he was writing - and not be tempted by courtroom glory, that serpent's eye that charms only to destroy.

Experience has taught me to be against using trials for spectacles. If you're suing someone, you're there to get the money. If you're getting sued, you're there to not have to pay. If you're facing possible criminal charges - you're there to avoid the punishment, or as much of it as you can. You are not there to tell the world about something - there are many forums for that. If discovery turns up the kind of data that Mann is wont to refuse, well and good, but that should never become the purpose of defending the lawsuit. Litigation, civil and criminal, goes its own strange ways, and does strange things to people - shrinks them if they are not careful.

The same goes for the discovery process. It occurs to me that Mann may be playing a slightly deeper game here. To be sure, the defendants can demand documents, e-mails, etc. from him to show he manipulated data; but he can insist the defendants themselves submit to depositions. Now, really, all Steyn has to say is "I read this book and I chased links at this website and I believed them over the government" - and if Mann doesn't have proof to the contrary, he is (or ought to be) hosed.

But maybe his lawyer's planning to grill Steyn at deposition (rather than trial) on his lack of science background, to make the deposition testimony itself embarrassing ("So, you didn't graduate college? - So, you're not a statistician? - So, you just believe these guys over those? - Because they fit your ideology...?") - and leak it publicly, to make him look foolish. I haven't had to deal with the issue of whether that's forbidden in civil litigation, but I have a hard time believing a deposition from this case would stay secret if it had polemically useful material.


UNINSTALLING OBAMA.....……………. █████████████▒▒▒ 90% complete.

The Stone Games

The Fortieth Year of the Stone Mountain Highland Games has come and gone.  I've been going for twenty, excepting years when I've been out of the country.

The carving on the mountain is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world.

The Games for me are a lot of work.  I spend most of the weekend on my feet in the ring, teaching history and the physics of medieval warfare, and telling stories of how American freedom and culture has deep roots in Medieval Scotland and Britain.

The best part of the Games for me, though, comes before and after the crowds.  When the Games are not going on, we spend the weekend camping and feasting with old friends.

Nobody said a word to me about the sword strapped to the bike.

The mountain at dawn.

Rise early, and there is a quiet moment to read by the fire before others get up.

It was good to see reader V. R., who stopped by the ring to chat as she usually does.  For her as with me the Games are mostly work, as she is associated with a charity aimed at helping the elderly and disabled enjoy the festival.  It's a noble thing.

Screwtape for the quantum age

God doesn't play at dice, but the Devil can't get enough of it.

Slow down

Take it easy, and enjoy a lightning strike at 7,207 frames per second.  XKCD explains some things about lightning here.