The week in pictures

Powerline's week in pictures is always good.  This one adds two good short videos.

The cartoon is tailor-made for our resident philosophers, in case they're planning on a family road trip this summer:

Friday Night AMV

You gotta swing the bat.

So you want to be a moderate

Zero Hedge has an application form for Syrian rebels to fill out.
Complete the following sentence. “American weapons are…”
A) Always a good thing to randomly add to any international hot spot 
B) Exactly what this raging civil war has been missing for the past three years 
C) Best when used moderately 
D) Super easy to resell online


The magic of crowd-sourcing

A Project Gutenberg pen-pal from Spain solved the mystery:  the song was released on a 45 in 1973 or 1974 entitled "Tubular Bells," but the tune I remembered was Side B, also (confusingly) entitled "Tubular Bells."

I remembered the tune very accurately, as it turns out--even the ornaments showed up towards the end--but I'd completely forgotten the background arpeggio except as a dim memory of a kind of rhythm.

I just can't say what a relief this is!  Now I want to go play with the noteflight score to put in the correct left-hand part.

Duffle Blog

The problem with the DB is that its articles so often sound plausible.

". . . the other 24% are comatose."

A new poll finds that 76% of Americans disbelieve the IRS story about the emails.  That includes 63% of Democrats.  And here's a new one:  the dog ate the EPA's subpoenaed emails, too.

This looks handy

A credit-card sized all-purpose tool called the "Grommet."

Doom Awaits You, IRS

Why such uniformity of opinion on the matter? It might have something to do with the fact that no one believes the IRS accidentally lost their email records as the result of a cascading computer failure which the agency remedied by simply throwing the affected hardware away. When asked if they "believe the IRS that the emails were destroyed accidentally," or "they were destroyed deliberately," 76 percent of survey respondents said the latter. Only 11 percent of independents, 5 percent of Republicans, and 20 percent of Democrats managed to convince themselves that the IRS's story was possible, if not likely.
Past due, really. The man was right: a jury, even a jury of public opinion, has every right to conclude that the evidence destroyed was probably not good for the IRS.

Violence and its discontents

From Ricochet:
Kevin [Williamson]’s mistake was stating the biological fact that Laverne Cox is a man. As my new allies inform me, this is hateful and indeed “violence” against transgendered people. I blame kindergarten teachers who have for years trained children to “use their words” as opposed to violence, when apparently, there is no distinction to be drawn between the two.
Anyone who read "Anthem" in his/her/their/xyr youth will remember the fictional society's abolition of the pronoun "I" and the requirement that each persyn self-refer as "we."

Unclear on the concept

More from Maggie's Farm, linking the NY Post:
The New York City Department of Education employs a full-time director of homeschooling to manage the Big Apple’s roughly 4,000 homeschooling families.
Well, as long as a government employee is still drawing a paycheck.

Goals for marriage

The NY Post examines divorce trends in the U.S.  As Cassandra often has reported to us, women have been the primary instigators for a while, but socio-economic clout correlates strongly with staying married:
In the 1970s, when divorce skyrocketed, Wilcox says, many researchers expected that the upper classes would be worst hit.
The sexual revolution seemed to free them from the social strictures of marriage.  Hope for the future of the American family rested on those middle and even lower classes in the heartland.
In fact, the exact opposite has proved true.  Marriage is thriving among the wealthy and educated.
“Who would have thought elites would have devoted themselves maniacally to their children’s success?” asks Wilcox.
It seems as though marriage does well when it is a vehicle for something else — whether that’s making sure your children have food on the table or that they get into an Ivy League school.
Marriage does well when it is a vehicle for "something else"--than the "Cinderella romance" addressed by the article.  Who'da thought.

The author wonders whether women are abandoning marriages because their husbands are maladroit geeks and grubby slackers.  My husband has been remarkably patient with my maladroit geekiness and grubby slackerdom.

"A question foremost on everyone's lips"

An article summarizing trends in the Guardian quotes the burning issues posed by the thinking class, including the exasperation of a professional lesbian over the growing interest in same-sex marriage.  Who needs marriage, anyway?  "Same-sex marriage fits comfortably within the conservative ideology of the self-sufficient family and contributes to the politics of state austerity."  Totally, and what's more:
"Isn’t marriage merely a clever ploy to keep us quiet about the trickier issues such as the deportation of lesbian asylum seekers?"
The scales have fallen from my eyes.

H/t Maggie's Farm.

The Death of the Ugly

Eli Wallach has died.

Only think

Reading about the New York Times's account of the failed negotiations for a status-of-forces agreement in Iraq call irresistibly to mind this passage from "Sense and Sensibility":
Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do for his sisters.  To take three thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little boy would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree. . . .
"It was my father's last request to me," replied her husband, "that I should assist his widow and daughters."
"He did not know what he was talking off, I dare say; ten to one but he was light-headed at the time.  Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought of such a thing as begging you to give away half your fortune from your own child."
"He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only requested me, in general terms, to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable than it was in his power to do.  Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself.  He could hardly suppose I should neglect them.  But as he required the promise, I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so at the time.  The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed.  Something must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new home."
"Well, then, let something be done for them; but that something need not be three thousand pounds.  Consider," she added, "that when the money is once parted with, it never can return.  Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever.  If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy--"
"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely, "that would make great difference.  The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with.  If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would be a very convenient addition."
"To be sure it would."
"Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties, if the sum were diminished one half.  Five hundred pounds would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!"
"Oh! beyond anything great!  What brother on earth would do half so much for his sisters, even if really his sisters!  And as it is--only half blood!--But you have such a generous spirit!"
"I would not wish to do anything mean," he replied.  "One had rather, on such occasions, do too much than too little.  No one, at least, can think I have not done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly expect more."
"There is no knowing what they may expect," said the lady, "but we are not to think of their expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do."
"Certainly; and I think I may afford to give them five hundred pounds apiece.  As it is, without any addition of mine, they will each have about three thousand pounds on their mother's death--a very comfortable fortune for any young woman."
"To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that they can want no addition at all.  They will have ten thousand pounds divided amongst them.  If they marry, they will be sure of doing well, and if they do not, they may all live very comfortably together on the interest of ten thousand pounds."
"That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether, upon the whole, it would not be more advisable to do something for their mother while she lives, rather than for them- something of the annuity kind I mean.  My sisters would feel the good effects of it as well as herself.  A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."
His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving her consent to this plan.
"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with fifteen hundred pounds at once.  But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood should live fifteen years, we shall be completely taken in."
"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot be worth half that purchase."
"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them; and she is very stout and healthy, and hardly forty.  An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over and over every year, and there is no getting rid of it.  You are not aware of what you are doing.  I have known a great deal of the trouble of annuities; for my mother was clogged with the payment of three to old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is amazing how disagreeable she found it.  Twice every year these annuities were to be paid; and then there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then one of them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned out to be no such thing.  My mother was quite sick of it.  Her income was not her own, she said, with such perpetual claims on it; and it was the more unkind in my father, because, otherwise, the money would have been entirely at my mother's disposal, without any restriction whatever.  It has given me such an abhorrence of annuities, that I am sure I would not pin myself down to the payment of one for all the world."
"It is certainly an unpleasant thing," replied Mr. Dashwood, "to have those kind of yearly drains on one's income.  One's fortune, as your mother justly says, is not one's own.  To be tied down to the regular payment of such a sum, on every rent-day, is by no means desirable: it takes away one's independence."
"Undoubtedly; and, after all, you have no thanks for it.  They think themselves secure; you do no more than what is expected, and it raises no gratitude at all.  If I were you, whatever I did should be done at my own discretion entirely.  I would not bind myself to allow them anything yearly.  It may be very inconvenient some years to spare a hundred, or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."
"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better that there should by no annuity in the case: whatever I may give them occasionally will be of far greater assistance than a yearly allowance, because they would only enlarge their style of living if they felt sure of a larger income, and would not be sixpence the richer for it at the end of the year.  It will certainly be much the best way.  A present of fifty pounds, now and then, will prevent their ever being distressed for money, and will, I think, be amply discharging my promise to my father."
"To be sure it will.  Indeed, to say the truth, I am convinced within myself that your father had no idea of your giving them any money at all.  The assistance he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking out for a comfortable small house for them, helping them to move their things, and sending them presents of fish and game, and so forth, whenever they are in season.  I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed, it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did.  Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings them in fifty pounds a year apiece, and, of course, they will pay their mother for their board out of it.  Altogether, they will have five hundred a year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that?--They will live so cheap!  Their house-keeping will be nothing at all.  They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of any kind!  Only conceive how comfortable they will be!  Five hundred a year!  I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it.  They will be much more able to give you something."
"Upon my word," said Mr. Dashwood, "I believe you are perfectly right.  My father certainly could mean nothing more by his request to me than what you say.  I clearly understand it now, and I will strictly fulfil my engagement by such acts of assistance and kindness to them as you have described.  When my mother removes into another house my services shall be readily given to accommodate her as far as I can.  Some little present of furniture too may be acceptable then."
. . .
This argument was irresistible.  It gave to his intentions whatever of decision was wanting before; and he finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary, if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow and children of his father than such kind of neighborly acts as his own wife pointed out.


Gary Oldman apparently decided to reprise his famous role in The Professional while giving an interview to Playboy -- this time in words, rather than with a shotgun.

Well, I hear the hangovers get worse as you get older. Twenty years ago, blow apart a whole family on the silver screen, nobody bats an eye. Now, speak some disapproved words....

Musical question

I liked an instrumental song that was on the radio long ago, I'm thinking the 70s, whose name I can't recall.  I've heard that there are apps now that will let you hum a tune into your phone and get an i.d.  Pretty cool app, but either this song isn't in my memory or I couldn't produce it faithfully enough with a hum.  Then I found an app that will let me hum a tune into my laptop and see it rendered into musical notation.  Now, that is extremely handy!  It does a pretty good job of dealing with the time signatures, but it has a hard time understand where the measures are supposed to start.  Also, this song had some tricky little ornaments that I couldn't sing quickly and accurately enough.  Not daunted, I found a third site with some interactive software that let me type in notes on a staff and fiddle with the lengths of each note.  Then I could hit play and hear how it worked out.  I think you guys can go to this site and hit "play" at the bottom left and hear it, too, so I'm hoping someone will recognize it and remember the title or the artist.

Diamond stars

I'd really like to hear from James whether this is for real or kind of flaky.

Bannockburn, Day II: The Great Battle

Today we celebrate the 700th anniversary of the pivotal battle of the Bannockburn. It turned the course of the Scottish War of Independence against the English for a generation, and set the stage for Robert the Bruce to bring the Scots to full independence before his death. Out of this war would come the Declaration of Arbroath, one of the first times that a people asserted to the Pope that they would insist upon a right of elective kingship: to support the man God sent to be king only so long as he did his duty in protecting their liberty and rights, and to drive him out and choose another if he failed this duty.

The short version of this story is as follows: the English army under Edward II had to relieve Stirling Castle by a certain deadline, or the castle would surrender to the Scottish King, Robert the Bruce. This was not because the castle was starving, or being ravaged by disease. It was a gentleman's agreement to avoid the slaughter associated either with reducing the place by storm, or starving the troops. The keeper of the fortress was a gentleman, and Edward knew he was going to keep his word and surrender if not relieved. So the English army was in a hurry.

Robert the Bruce was there in force, so Edward brought heavy cavalry in large numbers, as well as infantry and longbowmen. The Scottish cavalry was not in any sense the equal to the English cavalry, as you know if you followed last night's link and read Froissart's account of the Scottish way of warfare in the period. The English army was far larger, perhaps as many as ten thousand men larger. Edward intended to force his way to the castle's relief by main strength.

Now Edward I had been a very great king, not just cunning but wise in the ways of strategy and propaganda. His son, Edward II, was not the man his father was. Robert the Bruce had been in this fight since the days of the father, and had developed a keen sense for both strategy and tactics. In addition, as last night's story of his personal combat shows, he was a knight of great personal prowess.

Yesterday's story was about how the English sought to slip a vanguard past the Scottish lines, which would have allowed them to fix the Scottish position so as to allow the English army to cross in safety, and engage the Scots in good order at a place of their choice. The vanguard was repulsed, killed, or captured. The English thus had to try to cross the Bannock Burn without that security. They were fearful about this, because it was in the midst of just such a maneuver that William Wallace had destroyed their army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

Edward elected to cross at night, in the hopes that the crossing might be effected before the Scots knew of it. In this he was successful, but a consequence of his success was that his army had to encamp against the river as it crossed. If they had pushed further in, to secure better ground for a stand, they might have alerted Scottish scouts.

Thus on the morning of the 24th of June, 1314, word came to Robert the Bruce that the English had crossed the river and were tightly encamped among the wetlands on the shore. The Scottish King knew his cavalry could not stand against them, but he recognized he had a substantial advantage if he could trap them in that boggy ground. So he ordered the cavalry to find and disperse the English archers, in order to cover the approach of his foot. These were arranged in a kind of infantry formation known as a schiltron, similar in concept to the later Spanish tercio but oval: a formation chiefly of spearmen, to repel cavalry in the way we saw in last night's story, but with some axemen and others who could rush out of the formation and kill downed men.

Advancing these formations to pin the English in the muck, Robert the Bruce was successfully covered in his approach by his cavalry's action against the English archers. The Scots advanced on the English camp, and it was then that Edward saw the formations suddenly stop and kneel. A friar went among them.
"Think you, will these Scots fight?" Edward had asked one of his knights a short time before.

"Ay, that will they," was the reply, "to the last."

But now, seeing them kneel, Edward cried out, "They kneel, they kneel; they ask for mercy."

"They do, my liege," was the answer, "but it is from God, and not from us."
The king ordered one of his Earls, a man he had recently accused of cowardice, to lead a charge to disperse the Scottish formations. The charge ended in the slaughter of the Earl's forces, and the Scots came on against the camp. Edward tried to deploy his longbowmen, which would have allowed him much the same effects we hope to get out of artillery today: to damage the Scottish formations' structure, but also to deny them the ability to advance over certain parts of the terrain that were under the danger of the longbows. Once more the Scottish cavalry, led by Sir Robert Keith, recognized the danger and dispersed the archers before they could form up to take action.

Edward then attempted to send his heavy cavalry, the knights who had accompanied him for this purpose. But in the narrow neck of land, made of boggy ground, the cavalry could not well come together for a charge, and could not well maneuver their heavy horses. When they came against the schiltrons, their unstable formations broke.

As the Scots advanced toward the English camp, news of the initial victories had spread back to the Scottish camp nearby. There bands of Highlanders -- irregular forces that Robert the Bruce did not wish to employ in the battle, because they would cause confusion and disorder -- heard the news that the English were being defeated, and came rushing in great numbers. The English, already discomfited, heard the warcries and saw the onrushing forces, and broke. But there was nowhere to retreat except through the river.

Edward II escaped, with the help of his picked men. He fled to Dunbar castle, where as quickly as possible he took ship for England. His retreat from the battlefield turned the English retreat into a rout. In the wake of the battle, the destruction of England's army in the north not only allowed Scottish raiders into England, but took so much pressure off Robert the Bruce that he was able to stage an invasion of Ireland, hoping to open a second front in the war on the Anglo-Norman kings.


But you know, he really does look pretty good in sunglasses.  Can't really blame the fanboys in the media.

Gospel music

It's not too early to start putting together our Christmas carol repertoire.  Tell me you can resist the idea of going door to door singing this little number in a quartet:

I've got this song on the indispensable six-CD set "Goodbye, Babylon," but it can also be found on the album "Death Might Be Your Santa Claus," available on iTunes, in case you're looking to spruce up your Christmas music collection.  Who could resist "Papa Ain't No Santa Claus (Mama Ain't No Christmas Tree"?

On a milder note:

And abandoning the carol theme altogether:

And to finish up, something to dance to:

I was going to include "Jesus Dropped the Charges," but really, the title says it all, and the music is almost a disappointment.

Everything is under control

Did the takeover of Mosul come out of the blue?
The Kurds became especially alarmed at signs that ISIS had already formed a shadow government in Mosul, weeks before initiating the carefully planned takeover of the city 10 days ago.  According to the same Kurdish military sources it was accomplished with ease and without serious fighting after local Iraqi commanders agreed to withdraw.
The prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says he warned Baghdad and the United States months ago about the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the group’s plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq.  The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists.
Washington didn’t respond—a claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East.  Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control.

Alternative forms of commerce

I'm all in favor of whatever kind of exchange leaves both parties to the transaction satisfied enough to complete it, but this is a little weird.

"In Fact I'm Glad You Mentioned It."

Apparently prosecutors make good Congressmen sometimes -- especially in the face of corrupt officials. Trey Gowdy raises an important legal point, and then turns the IRS's defense into an invitation to consider what criminal charges ought to be brought against them.

I love hearing an IRS official stating that he doesn't need to know the law, because you can use "common sense" to know what's right. Yes, in theory, that's how it ought to be. The law ought to line up with common sense, such that an ordinary person need not be a lawyer in order to know how to behave in a fashion that is both moral and lawful. That is the only proper way to arrange a state, given the practical need of division of labor in an advanced economy: we can't train everyone as lawyers, because time and money for education are limited and we need most people to do other things. Therefore, the law should accord with the common sense, so that honest people can rely on the resources they can actually expect to have in order to be good citizens and avoid criminality.

Nothing could be further from the actual facts of how our Federal laws and regulations are ordered, however. How charming to see the defense -- which any court would reject were it raised by a citizen without legal training -- raised by a high official of a Federal regulatory agency who is himself a lawyer!

Bannockburn, Day I: The Death of Henry de Bohun

During the events described in the first post below, an English knight named Sir Henry de Bohun broke away from the English vanguard because he saw the Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, and recognized him. The king had come on a palfrey, not a warhorse, to observe the battle and issue orders rather than armed to partake in the battle. This account describes the palfrey as a "pony," which is not I think accurate; but the Scottish horses were generally substantially smaller than the English horses, making them less capable in a heavy charge but better for extended marches and long raids.
Fully armed, riding upon his great war-horse, the English knight came thundering on. Bruce, on his little pony, could have no chance against him. There was a dreadful moment of suspense. The two armies watched breathlessly. Bruce waited calmly, and when Bohun was almost upon him, he suddenly turned his pony aside. Bohun dashed on. As he passed, the King, rising high in his stirrups, brought his battle-axe crashing down upon the knight's head. The steel helmet was shattered by the mighty blow, Bohun fell to the ground dead, and his frightened horse dashed riderless away.

Cheer after cheer rose from the Scottish ranks, and the generals gathered round their King. They were glad that he was safe, yet vexed that he should so have endangered his life. "Bethink you, sire, the fate of all Scotland rests upon you," they said.

But the King answered them never a word. "I have broken my good axe," was all he said, "I have broken my good axe."

"This Is A Totally Dopey Criticism"

Physicist Sean Carroll explains to his colleagues some misconceptions they have about philosophy.

Liberty and education

I realize most people are never going to homeschool, and I'm not going to claim I never disagree with Rand [correction: Ron] Paul, but he speaks to me on education issues:
“The idea that government ‘experts’ can centrally plan a nation’s educational system is just as flawed as the idea that government can centrally plan the economy."
. . . The Ron Paul Curriculum, launched last fall, is designed to be used by homeschoolers, and takes a unique approach to education that reflects Paul’s libertarian-leaning political values.  The Curriculum includes lessons on Austrian economics and libertarian political theory, and teaches students how to start their own business on the Internet.  It almost totally eschews social studies until students are at the high school level, taking the view that early childhood social studies education mostly promotes statism.  The Curriculum also reflects a Christian worldview, with early history education putting significant focus on the Book of Genesis, Biblical Israel and the Reformation.
Paul’s program is also designed to be relatively cheap, as it uses no textbooks and is mostly self-taught, meaning there is little need for costly teachers.  High school learning builds up to students taking CLEP exams that can provide students with college credit, thereby allowing them to graduate earlier and at a lower cost.

Bannockburn, Day I

Here's how Wikipedia describes the first day of the Bannockburn.

Here is the description from In Freedom's Cause:
On the morning of Sunday, the 23d of June, immediately after sunrise, the Scotch attended mass, and confessed as men who had devoted themselves to death. The king, having surveyed the field, caused a proclamation to be made that whosoever felt himself unequal to take part in the battle was at liberty to withdraw. Then, knowing from his scouts that the enemy had passed the night at Falkirk, six or seven miles off, he sent out Sir James Douglas and Sir Robert Keith with a party of horsemen to reconnoitre the advance.

The knights had not gone far when they saw the great army advancing, with the sun shining bright on innumerable standards and pennons, and glistening from lance head, spear, and armour. So grand and terrible was the appearance of the army that upon receiving the report of Douglas and Keith the king thought it prudent to conceal its full extent, and caused it to be bruited abroad that the enemy, although numerous, was approaching in a disorderly manner.

The experienced generals of King Edward now determined upon making an attempt to relieve Stirling Castle without fighting a pitched battle upon ground chosen by the enemy. Had this attempt been successful, the great army, instead of being obliged to cross a rapid stream and attack an enemy posted behind morasses, would have been free to operate as it chose, to have advanced against the strongholds which had been captured by the Scots, and to force Bruce to give battle upon ground of their choosing. Lord Clifford was therefore despatched with 800 picked men-at-arms to cross the Bannock beyond the left wing of the Scottish army, to make their way across the carse, and so to reach Stirling. The ground was, indeed, impassable for a large army; but the troops took with them faggots and beams, by which they could make a passage across the deeper parts of the swamp and bridge the little streams which meandered through it.

As there was no prospect of an immediate engagement, Randolph, Douglas, and the king had left their respective divisions, and had taken up their positions at the village of St. Ninians, on high ground behind the army, whence they could have a clear view of the approaching English army. Archie Forbes had accompanied Randolph, to whose division he, with his retainers, was attached. Randolph had with him 500 pikemen, whom he had withdrawn from his division in order to carry out his appointed task of seeing that the English did not pass along the low ground at the edge of the carse behind St. Ninians to the relief of Stirling; but so absorbed were knights and men-at-arms in watching the magnificent array advancing against the Scottish position that they forgot to keep a watch over the low ground. Suddenly one of the men, who had straggled away into the village, ran up with the startling news that a large party of English horse had crossed the corner of the carse, and had already reached the low ground beyond the church.

"A rose has fallen from your chaplet, Randolph," the king said angrily.

Without a moment's loss of time Randolph and Archie Forbes set off with the spearmen at a run, and succeeded in heading the horsemen at the hamlet of Newhouse. The mail clad horsemen, confident in their numbers, their armour, and horses, laid their lances in rest, struck spurs into their steeds, and, led by Sir William Daynecourt, charged down upon the Scotch spearmen. Two hundred of these consisted of Archie Forbes' retainers, all veterans in war, and who had more than once, shoulder to shoulder, repelled the onslaught of the mailed chivalry of England. Animated by the voices of their lord and Randolph, these, with Moray's own pikemen, threw themselves into a solid square, and, surrounded by a hedge of spears, steadily received the furious onslaught of the cavalry. Daynecourt and many of his men were at the first onslaught unhorsed and slain, and those who followed were repulsed. Again and again they charged down upon the pikemen, but the dense array of spears was more than a match for the lances of the cavalry, and as the horses were wounded and fell, or their riders were unhorsed, men rushed out from the square, and with axe and dagger completed the work. Still the English pressed them hard, and Douglas, from the distance, seeing how hotly the pikemen were pressed by the cavalry, begged the king to allow him to go to Randolph's assistance. Bruce, however, would suffer no change in his position, and said that Randolph must stand or fall by himself. Douglas, however, urged that he should be allowed to go forward with the small body of retainers which he had with him. The king consented, and Douglas set off with his men.

When the English saw him approach they recoiled somewhat from the square, and Douglas, being now better able to see what was going on, commanded his followers to halt, saying that Randolph would speedily prove victorious without their help, and were they now to take part in the struggle they would only lessen the credit of those who had already all but won the victory. Seeing the enemy in some confusion from the appearance of the reinforcement, Randolph and Archie now gave the word for their men to charge, and these, rushing on with spear and axe, completed the discomfiture of the enemy, killed many, and forced the rest to take flight. Numbers, however, were taken. Randolph is said to have had but two men killed in the struggle.
The greater fight was to come.

To Tame A Horse And Ride It To War

The men emerged over the crest of a ridge and guided their horses along a tree line, skirting a wide meadow. They picked their way along narrow trails, climbing higher into the Sierra until a panorama of snowcapped peaks and a broad green valley unfolded beneath them.

The men, Special Forces soldiers dressed in jeans and other civilian clothes, led their horses into a thick stand of pine trees, where they dismounted and let the horses drink from a clear mountain stream before breaking out their own rations.

At this remote training area high in the Sierra, the U.S. Marine Corps is reviving the horsemanship skills that were once a key part of the nation's armed forces but were cast aside when tanks and armored vehicles replaced them. The need to bring these skills back was driven home in Afghanistan in 2001, when the first Special Forces soldiers to arrive found themselves fighting on horseback alongside tribesmen in rugged terrain without roads. Many had never ridden a horse before.

"We don't want to reinvent anything," said Marine Capt. Seth Miller, the officer in charge of formal schools at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. "These are skills that were lost."

Marine instructors are teaching the students, most of them Army Special Forces soldiers, how to control horses, care for them and load packs. The students are taught how to calculate routes and distances for rides and what to look for when purchasing horses from locals. For example, checking teeth is a good way to determine age and avoid getting ripped off by a farmer trying to pass off an ancient mule or horse.

In a throwback to the old Wild West days, instructors are considering training soldiers in how to shoot from a moving horse....
There's quite a bit more at the link. We may see a swelling in our ranks.

More on the IRS Email Backup Firm

So apparently the IRS decided not to renew that company's contract to back up their emails, just weeks after Lerner's hard drive crashed... and just weeks before other crashes of drives of involved parties.

So the first question is, what does Sonasoft have? Were they obligated to destroy, or to retain, the records that the IRS had already paid for them to store?

The second question is, did the IRS decide to go with a different firm -- or to stop backing up its emails?

Public Radio Continues to Shine

This week on NPR: 'Speaking of budgetary concerns, a country doesn't really have to have an army, you know.'

Maleficent and Benghazi

Last night I had a date with my one-and-only, and for reasons I won't discuss we ended up seeing this damnable new take on Sleeping Beauty.

Now I wasn't expecting much. What little I see of current Hollywood doesn't leave me impressed with its imagination; and "reimaginings" without imagination don't do much for me. But I walked out of this one spitting mad. Indulge me a moment while I say why.

If you haven't seen it (lucky souls), the concept is perfectly simple. The king from Sleeping Beauty owed a great debt to the "bad fairy," but instead betrayed her to gain power for himself. (The poor thing didn't understand how greedy men were 'til later...her Green credentials are spotless.) It relates to his desire, and his father's, to steal the peaceful woodlands from the magical creatures who inhabit them -- and if they'd only leave them alone, or make amends and give back what they stole, all would be well. The fairy's curse is a burst of understandable righteous anger at the king's perfidy; but he's able to get a measure of mercy out of her just by begging on his knees, that being the right position to check his privilege. And later on the conscience-ridden Maleficent does everything she can to fix the problem. And in the end "true love" is revealed to be, not a romantic attachment between man and woman (which our female lead denies, and she's never proven wrong), but pity and remorse for a victim.

I expected some genuflections to the prevailing orthodoxies of PC and "Cultural Marxism." I didn't expect them to replace the whole story. If you're a civilized ruler under attack...white male type...well, that settles it, you must have provoked it. In a classic heroic fairy tale (or even a healthy cartoon version), there's evil in the world and it's got to be fought, and kings, princes, knights, and soldiers have an especial duty to do so. In this? There's no evil but what you create yourself; no one's out to attack you unless you provoked it; the "victim card" not only explains but excuses every evil; and those who can play it have all the noblest sentiments. In fact, no one except victims has any noble sentiments, not in this film they don't. The story's been rewritten to include hundreds of soldiers, but they're either villains or faceless dragon fodder, and everyone from king to peasant would be better off without them. The cartoon was truer to life.

It seems to me this new take on the classic tale is the same viewpoint that inspired certain parties' incorrect assertions on the subject of Benghazi. I don't think they invented the "video" story out of whole cloth. I think it was their first instinct. Americans under attack by Muslims? It must be our fault. We must have provoked them. Send in the troops? Get our people out at once? Perish the thought -- that might provoke them some more. Better to show an appeasing image. And when the first instinct turned out to be was still the natural story to run with. Teach every child that view; then our future leaders are secured.

Apparently now not only our schools and our press, but our fairytales as well, must teach suicidalism.. This civilization's going to be hard to rebuild. I think all that's left for Hollywood is to retell Aesop's fable of the Wolves and the Sheep to explain how it's all the Sheepdogs' fault. Which, come to that, is just what the wolves were saying.

Harvey Mansfield Decides To Retire

At least, I assume so, given his decision to publish this as an employee of Harvard.

Well, the man was born in 1932. It's no surprise he might be ready to "spend more time with his family."