The Race Is Not To The Swift

Tonight was a good night for the kind of small-town high-school football around which so much of American culture is built.  The closest small town large enough for a football team is the county seat, and it is so small by local standards that it very rarely carries the day.  The players are as strong as they usually grow in farm country, but there is more to the game than strength and speed.

I am teaching the rules to a young person who is growing in appreciation of the sport.  At the end of the first quarter, while the score was still tied, I asked him which team was going to win and why.  He answered that he thought the visiting team had better plays.  "That's right," I said.  "Their offensive strategy is much more sophisticated, and it is unlikely our team can adapt to it quickly enough.  Nor do we have a similar strategy that will let us match them.  They will likely win easily."

"But not for certain," he said.

"No," I agreed, remembering the verse from Ecclesiastes.  There were three quarters left, and time and chance happen to us all, but so it proved.


What better reason to clean things up than guests arriving in great numbers over the next few weeks?  We've spraywashed the outside of the house, touched up some trim on the porch, repainted old peeling patio furniture and put new cushions on it, and cleaned up any number of horrors in the house.  The spare bedroom becomes such a dump when there's no one planning to sleep in it.  My husband had the bright idea of squeezing my hundreds of skeins of yarn into those vacuum packages that attach to the vacuum cleaner, because I'm on a tiny-tiny white thread crochet kick and probably won't need to get to my yarn for years.  Boxes of this and that left the house for the local thrift store, ladders were climbed in aid of cleaning years' worth of dust off of the tops of windows, doors, light fixtures, and ceiling fans, and corners were de-grimed with toothbrushes.  We're nearly presentable!

Help Kickstart World War III

This sounds fantastic! We could have another 'Greatest Generation'!

Or, you know, part of one, anyway.

9/11 Annual Repost: "Enid & Geraint"

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.

The Ignorance of History

Let's have a short history lesson on the origin of the National Rifle Association, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The National Rifle Association was first chartered in the state of New York on November 17, 1871 by Army and Navy Journal editor William Conant Church and General George Wood Wingate. Its first president was Civil War General Ambrose Burnside, who had worked as a Rhode Island gunsmith, and Wingate was the original secretary of the organization. Church succeeded Burnside as president in the following year.

Union Army records for the Civil War indicate that its troops fired about 1,000 rifle shots for each Confederate soldier hit, causing General Burnside to lament his recruits: "Out of ten soldiers who are perfect in drill and the manual of arms, only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn." The generals attributed this to the use of volley tactics, devised for earlier, less accurate smoothbore muskets.

Recognizing a need for better training, Wingate traveled to Europe and observed European armies' marksmanship training programs. With plans provided by Wingate, the New York Legislature funded the construction of a modern range at Creedmore, Long Island, for long-range shooting competitions. Wingate then wrote a marksmanship manual.
Got that? The NRA was founded by Civil War Union military leaders who recognized that northern prowess with rifles was lacking in the late war with more-rural Southerners. The purpose of the organization was to train potential soldiers in case it became necessary again to suppress a Southern independence movement.

Another mission it took on was arming and training Freedmen in the South. Don't take my word for it.

You can see the full version here.

The NRA was always "the Black NRA." They went to some trouble and expense, from the very beginning, to be just that thing. I would wonder at this shocking ignorance, except that it is such a piece of the historical ignorance of our gentle and generous friends on the Left.

For Those Of You In The Mighty 9th

As you know if you've been watching the last week with an eye for it, Congressman Doug Collins is sounding like a pretty serious "No" at this point on Syria. He's holding a telephone town hall tomorrow night to talk about it with anyone from the district who wants to call in.
This week, I returned to Washington for the House Foreign Affairs Committee's special hearing on Syria. This was the opportunity for Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hagel, and General Dempsey to make President Obama's case for why we should pursue military intervention in Syria. As I said at the time, I left that room with more questions than answers, and I don't believe they made their case.
You can see video of my questions in that hearing here, but tomorrow night, I want to hear your questions.
I'm holding a telephone town hall meeting to talk about Syria on Monday night. The call will start at approximately 7:25 PM, and you are welcome to call in if we don't call you first. The phone number is877-229-8493 and the passcode you'll need to enter is 111377.
I've said what I have to say about it at BLACKFIVE.