Valley Forge & Palace Coups

Sarah Hoyt wants to urge Republicans to stick it out, in spite of the problems resulting from a bad elite that seems to be committed to service to corporate donors against the good of the nation.
This week has been a tough one. And the reason it’s been a tough one is not just the Republicans funding the Obama amnesty nor the “net neutrality” boondoggle where apparently even passing it won’t tell us what’s in it...

Our current administration has brought us far closer to nuclear war than we’ve been since the Soviet Union collapsed in on its corrupt self. And worse, it will be a multiparty war that will leave at best 1/3 of the world in ruins. And what they’re doing to the new generation, between indoctrination, unemployment and setting the sexes against each other doesn’t bear thinking too deeply about, lest the black pit yawns beneath our feet.

One way or another, we already have two more years of this. And that’s enough to make that snow-laden wind of despair howl around our flimsy tents.

If the world were just the US. If we didn’t have to factor on anything from outside, I’d still say “yeah, let it burn is an option.”

But is it?

Like it or not, the Pax Americana is AMERICANA. If we collapse, the world falls in on itself, and more importantly, we get truly overrun. Because we’re still relatively stable. The 7 million of Obama’s imperial amnesty won’t be but a drop in the bucket.
On the Left, though, the mood is not any better. They are also concerned that corporate mastery of their political class is so complete that there may simply be no hope at the national level -- perhaps in a few cities, a few states:
The devolution of the political system through the infusion of corporate money, the rewriting of laws and regulations to remove checks on corporate power, the seizure of the press, especially the electronic press, by a handful of corporations to silence dissent, and the rise of the wholesale security and surveillance state have led to “the death of the party system” and the emergence of what Ali called “an extreme center.”...

“This extreme center, it does not matter which party it is, effectively acts in collusion with the giant corporations, sorts out their interests and makes wars all over the world,” Ali said. “This extreme center extends throughout the Western world. This is why more and more young people are washing their hands of the democratic system as it exists....”

Ali said he was “shocked and angry about all the hopes that were invested in Obama by the left.” He lambasted what he called the American “obsession with identity.” Barack Obama, he said, “is an imperial president and behaves like one, regardless of the color of his skin.” Ali despaired of the gender politics that are fueling a possible run for the White House by Hillary Clinton, who would be the first woman president.

“My reply is, ‘So bloody what?’ ” he said. “If she is going to bomb countries and put drones over whole continents, what difference does her gender make if her politics are the same? That is the key. The political has been devalued and debased under neoliberalism. People retreat into religion or identity. It’s disastrous. I wonder if it is even possible to create something on a national scale in the United States.”
I'm attentive enough to recognize that there's a common theme here, outside of the 'center' (extreme or otherwise). There's a great deal of extra-national power that's come to dominate the governments of all major nations, our own included. Both the hard right and the hard left almost despair at its wealth and power.

Perhaps the real enemy isn't the left at all.

UPDATE: More on the mutiny.

Two History Quizzes

The first one prompts you to put historical events in order. I scored 98% as I got Catherine the Great wrong. I knew dates for the others, but I was just trying to guess based on her clothing where she fit into it.

The second one just asks you which of two things is older. The name of the quiz gives away the game, so it's really not hard at all. Kind of fun, though.

In Deference to Tex's Point

A conversation between a concealed carry instructor and a veteran police officer about how to handle a traffic stop.

He raises a good point about the rookie officer who is probably bracketing you, and who has been tasked with killing you if you prove dangerous. Frequently when a deer hunter accidentally kills another hunter in the forest, it's because he's there to shoot a deer, he's expecting a deer, he's thinking about a deer, and when there's sudden movement the first thing his brain says is: "DEER!"

You have to assume the same thing about the nervous rookie sweating it out back there. His brain is in a totally different place, and he may well kill you on the occasion of any stimulus that falls in on the internal monologue screaming through his head.

H/t: SOF.

Sensitivity Abounds

The US military's own court system has ordered the Army to be sensitive when it refers to an individual who admitted betraying his oaths towards the Army and the nation it defends.
The Army now must refer to incarcerated soldier Chelsea Manning as "she," or in gender-neutral terms, a military appeals court says.

The 27-year old Manning, a former intelligence analyst, is undergoing gender reassignment from male to female while serving a 35-year sentence in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for leaking classified material to the website WikiLeaks. Previously known as Bradley Manning, the young private first class legally changed her name last April to Chelsea.
Apparently they must also issue "female undergarments" for "her" use in the male prison unit at Leavenworth. Special snowflakes must be handled with extreme care.

Mommies and states

Anna Mussmann on our culture's discomfort with the clash between moral relativism and the demands of motherhood:
To varying degrees, our ancestors tended to believe that correct beliefs and behavior should be enforced for the good of the group. Religious heresy should be curbed, political unrest removed, and destabilizing immorality punished. Nowadays, we value diversity and individual expression more than the strength and security of a monolithic culture. As long as no one is obviously hurting others with their beliefs, choices, or actions, we argue for live-and-let live morality in most spheres. It is not our job, we think, to judge the guy who dumped his wife, critique the “open marriage” of the couple down the street, or even to tell our transcendental brother-in-law that his potted plants don’t hear when he talks to them. We are not our brothers’ keepers.
However, as new parents quickly discover, children who do not experience parental judgment become intolerable, unhappy people. Mothers are forced to become authorities for the sake of their families. They must frequently overcome the will of a child (sometimes by force) and say things like, “No, you may not run into the street, no matter how devastatingly disappointing this is,” “No, you are not allowed to use the toothbrushes and toothpaste to create art on the walls,” “No, you may not attend that sleepover at your friend’s house while his parents are out-of-town.”
One way to resolve this conflict is to relieve mothers other their duties to keep their children perfectly safe 24 hours a day and to teach them right from wrong. The government is standing by to take over these obligations, and it is not troubled by any discomfort when it acts judgmental or punishes heresy.

No Privileges for Flags

UC Irvine votes to de-privilege the American flag, putting it on a par with flags in general, all of which are banned.

You might wonder how it helps freedom of expression to suppress the... ah, freedom... to express... um, political sentiments via flag displays.

But take heart! Now the flag of the nation that pays for the existence of this university shall enjoy no privilege over, say, Nazi or Soviet flags. We've become broad minded indeed out there in California. The nation that supports the greatest university system on earth is now on par with this:

No differences there worth... expressing.

Frank J on Science

Really, science is a great tool for using logic to find the answer to absolutely any question — as long as the question isn’t particularly important.

Against Spock

Not everyone loved the character all that much. Oddly, this review is focused on the movies and later series.

Ferguson Update

In the wake of its report on the Ferguson PD, Eric Holder says the Federal government is prepared to take any steps necessary to enforce compliance with reforms up to and including dismantling the department entirely. The President has suggested that, while he doesn't view Ferguson as "typical," he thinks it's not all that uncommon across the country.

Community Standards Differ

...but they're supposed to differ from one community to another.

Is diversity valuable because the attachments we bring -- 'a wise Latina' -- alter our perspectives? Or is it to be feared, precisely because it makes it hard to detach yourself from the interests of your particular group? Apparently for UCLA, the answer is, "it depends on the question of to what groups you belong." Wise Latinas are welcome. Jews, not so much.

Christians of the wrong stripe probably don't come out all that well either.

Profit & Externalities

We were talking about externalities the other day, because libertarians like the concept as a way of talking about the costs your activities impose on others. The economic concept can be widely applied, but it really is an economic concept originally:
The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.
We can think of a time when the American West seemed boundless, not just unspoiled but unspoilable. Remember Clint Eastwood's film Pale Rider:

So the claim this article is making is this:
Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero.
The author thinks this makes the global economy a fraud, but that's too strong. Two things occur to me reading it through:

1) A lot of these economic costs are 'greenhouse gases,' about the effects of which there is still some debate.

2) On the other hand, there's a sense to it. The law of conservation of energy and matter suggests you shouldn't be able to get more out of a thing than you take from it. That applies to systems as well as objects. If we consider the Earth as a system, of course there's no profit to be made from re-ordering the parts of the system in various ways.

What really matters is the order. If I take gold out of the ground and turn it into wire, and then put that wire into a computer, I can do sorts of work I couldn't do before. If I take the uranium in the ground, use power from burning coal to refine it, and then use the refined uranium to run a reactor, I can capture lots of energy that was otherwise existing as a kind of potential in the earth.

Putting things in the right order is therefore very helpful. It's good to provide incentives for people to do the work necessary to get that done. What we call "profit" is or ought to be a sort of incentive to do work of this kind. It's good work, because it's good for people to have things put in the right order.

God creates. We are merely re-ordering things, bringing to actuality what already exists in potency. There are wise and foolish ways to alter the order of the things in the world. We should take some care to be wise.

High horses

Fr. de Souza on disgraced IPCC Rajendra Pachauri's elevation of global warming into a religion:
Religion is not an ideology, though it can be corrupted to become one. Religion treats as fixed those points of revelation that have as their object that which is unchanging, namely God. Yet their application to the social order precisely requires a response to changing circumstances, including the insights of other disciplines, including economics, politics, history and the environmental sciences. That’s why there is no such thing as Christian tax policy, or trade policy or climate policy. For example, Christians have it as a matter of divine revelation that concern for the poor is not optional, but essential. How to best assist the poor remains a matter of differing circumstances and consequently competing policy choices.
H/t comments section at Chicago Boyz.

Not looking at words

"We don't look at four words," Justice Kagan declared during the Supreme Court arguments this week on ACA subsidies in federal-exchange states.  Not if they're inconvenient words, we don't!  If these four words on the specific subject under dispute supported the White House's position, though, we'd sure be looking at them, wouldn't we?  In further discussion it developed that the four words were being taken out of context.  As we've learned in the last four or five years, that's a glaring signal for "We're straight-up lying to you."

The ghost of Willie Horton

Politico argues that politicians on both sides of the aisle have been hagridden by the drubbing Michael Dukakis took with the Willie Horton ads.  When combined with his flaccid response to a law-and-order question during the 1988 presidential campaign, the Horton ads rightfully pegged Dukakis as confused and ineffectual on violent crime.  Almost 30 years later, however, there is growing sentiment that law and order has stopped being about violent crime and drifting into obsessive microcontrol--so much so that the dreaded Charles Koch is teaming up with people like George Soros and Corey Booker to spend oceans of money on a libertarian anti-criminalization campaign.  Sometimes odd bedfellows can agree that government is too big.

I'd like to see the criminal justice system continue to come down like a big hammer on people who think other people's pockets are their natural fishing grounds.  It's bad enough when they use the voting booth to satisfy their avarice, but if they're prepared to knock people on the head over it, they need to be put away.  Still, I wouldn't lift a finger to help convict someone of violations of 3/4 of the nonsense that's ended up on the criminal statute books.  I'd be some prosecutor's nightmare of a juror.  Someone's upset that Martha Stewart may have misspoken during an interrogation about insider trading that no one ever was able to prove?  Civil court, please.  Tsarnaev?  Shoot him, the sooner the better.

Email Insecurity

Maybe the answer is that she wanted China and Russia to read her mail. It's just an expansive head-fake to help them feel comfortable with American diplomacy, because they think they know what you think, but you really know that you said what you wanted them to think you thought on a server they could easily hack into and read.

I mean, that's what I'd have been doing if I'd done this. It's key, though, that they don't think she's smart enough to out-think them. And I think she's got that part of the play down.

"This needs to stop, and now."

When did sports journalism start hectoring its audience to show more sensitivity? I don't read a lot of it, so maybe I missed it.

My first exposure to Ms. Rousey was in Expendables III. I don't watch television, let alone Pay Per View, so I had no idea who she was when she showed up as the bouncer-turned-mercenary in that movie. Now, movies are fantasy, but she beat the crap out of not just one but a whole horde of men in that film. And, I gather, she does have a dominant record in her sport -- really, quite impressive.

So when the guy said, "that Rousey could beat 50 percent of the male bantamweights in the UFC," I'd take that less as an expression of her superlative glory and more as an empirical claim. Can she? Can she beat any of them?

The author apparently feels the answer is definitely not, and having to admit that takes away from all she's accomplished.

But why don't we ask her? Does she want to try?

In related news, the Army announced this week that it's opening 4,100 new Special Operations jobs to women, including 18 Bravo (Special Forces Weapons Sergeant) and other positions long considered the last redoubt of men. I presume women will have to compete for these jobs in some manner. If we agree that it's insulting even to suggest an equal competition with men to the finest female fighter America has ever produced, doesn't that say something about what will be necessary to fill these positions with women?

I'm told I need to stop talking about this. And now.

UPDATE: Ms. Rousey says she thinks it's at least possible that she could beat every male bantamweight. That's admirable self-confidence, and given her record she's earned the right to some self-confidence. Let her try.

Isn't That Illegal?

So, a friend of mine on the Left -- a gentleman scholar, holds a Master's Degree -- responded to my incredulity about claims that the Speaker of the House might be guilty of near-treason for inviting the Prime Minister of Israel to speak before Congress by asking, "Wasn't the invitation against the law?"

Why, no. In fact, why would it be? Congress has Article I powers related to foreign policy including -- not to put too fine a point on it -- the power to declare war! Why shouldn't they be able to invite, say, heads of state from the region where they might be thinking about possibly declaring war to give an opinion relevant to the discussion? I mean, they can order me or you to come testify about whatever they want. Why shouldn't they be able to invite pretty much anyone who has cause to be in the United States legally?

Give credit where credit is due: the propaganda has apparently been extremely strong on this occasion.

New York City Schools to Close for Muslim Holidays

That's interesting.
The official announcement by de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina came four hours later at PS/IS 30 in Brooklyn, where officials said 36 percent of students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha fell on a school day, according to WCBS.... Official estimates of the number of Muslims living in New York City vary from 600,000 to 1 million, with Columbia University estimating that 95 percent of Muslim children attended the city’s public schools in 2008, composing 10 percent of the public education population.
So, 90% of the children are not Muslims, but nearly four in ten didn't bother to come on Eid al-Adha?

On More Important, If Less Urgent, Business

A new argument that King Arthur fought out of Strathclyde.

I've always thought the "northern Arthur" arguments were stronger than the "southern Arthur" arguments, though the latter have historically been much more popular among historians. I suspect some part of that is the outsized influence that England and English sentiment play on the development of history as a discipline, though: where Oxford and Cambridge lead, it's hard not to follow.

Still, I take 'the City of Legions' to be much more plausibly Chester than Caerleon. The center of resistance to the invading Anglo-Saxons may well have been the Christian kingdoms in the north, Strathclyde and Dal Riada, which are likely centers because they had logistical support from areas the Anglo-Saxons never penetrated, and a proven naval trade relationship with Ireland that would have remained undisturbed during the Saxon invasions. Since the evidence of graves suggests a reverse-migration of Saxons back to the mainland during the latter part of the Arthurian period, we have reason to think that the campaign was broadly successful for a couple of decades. That implies a powerful resistance, which is also in line with the legends, not a rag-tag band of guerrillas. Such a resistance needs a strong logistical base.

Après Hillary, le déluge

Ugly news always follows the Clintons, but rarely derails them.  This has been an especially trying week, though, with reports of Secretary Clinton's using official State Department travel as donor-maintenance junkets to the foreign governments with whom she supposedly was negotiating on behalf of the United States, and conducting most if not all of her official State Department business on a private email account, for the apparent purpose of avoiding the need to respond to FOIA requests and in an equally apparent disregard for the continued security of classified information.

Bill Scher at Politico is beginning to entertain the unthinkable:  what will happen to the 2016 race if Hillary Clinton drops out?  The assumption is that at some point this press will become so disabling that Ms. Clinton's hand will be forced.  Will it, though?  Imagine what would have happened if John Ehrlichman had been in charge of the U.S. press in the early 1970s.

Sixty Days Hence

Climate disaster forecasts are very often pushed far enough out that it's hard to believe them -- much like the 1930s claims about how we'd be colonizing Saturn by now. Here's one that is not far out at all: in two months, a city of 20 million people will run out of water.
The city of Sao Paulo is home to 20 million Brazilians, making it the 12th largest mega-city on a planet dominated by shortsighted humans. Shockingly, it has only 60 days of water supply remaining. The city "has about two months of guaranteed water supply remaining as it taps into the second of three emergency reserves," reports Reuters.

Technical reserves have already been released, and as the city enters the heavy water use holiday season, its 20 million residents are riding on a fast-track collision course with severe water rationing and devastating disruptions.
Of course, one city is not 'climate,' just 'weather.' A drought is a drought. Except, the article goes on to say, it really is about a change that affects water-poor regions in general.

Don't expect the government to save you, it goes on to say.
We're often tricked into believing the government will solve all these problems for us. Yep, some Americans foolishly believe the same government which just issued $1 trillion in new debt to pay the interest on its existing debt is somehow really, really good at planning for the future instead of mortgaging it away. [2]

If fresh water were a bank account, the world's spending deficit against that account would be deeply in the red and approaching a tipping point of default. And in precisely the same way the U.S. government borrows money to cover today's expenses with no intention of ever paying it back, human society is also borrowing water to cover today's water demands with no intention or capability of ever paying it back.

Right now in California and around the world, farmers are pumping water out of the ground that should have remained there until the year 2030. As they keep pumping the aquifers dry, they'll be reaching ever more precariously forward into the future, using up water in 2015 that should have lasted until 2050 (or beyond).

In this same way, aquifers that should have lasted 100 - 200 years will be bone dry in the not-too-distant future. Farms that once produced food will instead produce a new Dust Bowl. Populations that depended on cheap food to afford basic living expenses will find themselves starving and bankrupt (and living on government food stamps, with the accompanying loss of freedom that always follows government handouts). The world's governments -- all of which rely on food affordability to keep populations relatively docile -- will find themselves facing mass revolts and social chaos.

You are about to watch a milestone event in the history of our world.
Maybe so. Either way, we only have to wait a couple months to see.

Your program guide for the S. Ct. arguments

This National Review article is the most comprehensive but concise statement I've seen so far on the tangled statement of the arguments to be this week in King v. Burwell.  It even sorts out the confusing state of the many decisions below, most of which are being held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court's decision in the case that is being argued this week.  There is more information than in most articles about the sorry history of the making of the IRS regulation (recall that this lawsuit challenges IRS rules that violate the law; it doesn't challenge the law itself).

The article passes lightly over Congress's intent, as is right in a case where there is no statutory ambiguity, but here is another article that lays out quite clearly how absurd it is to argue that there is any real question that Congress considered versions of the law that did and did not restrict subsidies to states that implemented their own exchanges, and in the end was able to pass only a law that did restrict subsidies in that way.  To the extent the IRS rule has a shred of validity, it can only come from the argument that it has discretion to implement rules consistent with a law's "purpose" even if the statutory language is ambiguous.  If this language is ambiguous, we might as well throw out all of our laws--which, come to think of it, is pretty much what our current administration is up to.

For our Austen Fans

I know we have several! I am not among them, although it sounds like this might be a part of Austen's corpus I could really enjoy.
Edward Bond once wrote, “I write about violence as naturally as Jane Austen does about manners”. Bond may be surprised to know that Austen was interested in violence and began her writing career pushing at the boundaries of what was acceptable and tasteful in literary fiction. As Kathryn Sutherland writes in her introduction to a splendid new edition of the “juvenilia”: “Jane Austen’s earliest writings are violent, restless, anarchic and exuberantly expressionistic. Drunkenness, female brawling, sexual misdemeanour and murder run riot across their pages”.
Perhaps it's too bad she grew up! A sad fate for many of us, it could be.

Good Question

'What are you talking about? Bullying the world, or ruling it through civilization?"

H/t: She Who Knows.

How Far We've Fallen

Headline, with bitter irony: "Leader of the free world speaks to joint session of Congress."

Oyster recipes

Some of my favorites:

Sangrita Oyster Shooters

24 oysters, shucked
2 cups tomato juice
4 serrano chilis
2 limes, juiced
1/2 white onion, peeled & chopped
hot sauce

Shuck oysters and keep well chilled.  For the sangrita, combine all other ingredients in a blender and puree well.  Allow this mixture to chill for one hour.  Put each oyster in a shot glass (best to choose very small oysters) and cover each with the sangrita.  Salt the rim of another set of shot glasses, then fill them with a good silver tequila.  Each guest should lick the rim of a tequila shot glass, down the sangrita/oyster mix from the other shot glass, then down the tequila.

Oysters with Cilantro-Chili-Lime Sauce

24 oysters, raw, on the half shell
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 T cilantro, minced
4 green onions minced
1/2 cup Asian chili paste
2 T sugar
1/2 t lime zest, minced
1/3 cupe lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
1-1/2 T pickled ginger minced

Line a baking sheet with rock salt and nest the oysters in their shells in the salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Combine the reserved oyster liquor and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl or food processor.  Whisk vigorously or blend well, then let sit at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.   Spoon sauce over each oyster and bake for 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the oysters are curled around the edges.  (We often just grill the oysters until they're done enough to pop open easily, then spoon the sauce on top.  It doesn't need to cook.)

Oyster Pan Roast

4 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh fennel, finely chopped
1/2 cup leek, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 t thyme, chopped
1 t sage, chopped
2 T white flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup oyster liquor
2 cups cream
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t Pernod or similar anise-flavored liqueur
1 pint oysters, shucked
salt & pepper to taste
toast points and wilted spinach (optional)

We usually skip the spinach, and bite-sized chunks of any good fresh bread will do instead of toast points.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the onion, fennel, leek, celery, thyme, and sage, stirring, for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes.  Whisk in the white wine and oyster liquor and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the cream, Woo sauce, and Pernod.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes; season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.  Stir the drained oysters into the sauce and bring back to a boil.  Cook just until the edges of the oysters curl.  Spoon the sauce over toast or bread and top with spinach, if desired.

Perhaps more later!


Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death by a military court, for the Ft. Hood shootings.  It was a unanimous decision by thirteen senior officers, but it requires approval by the President as commander-in-chief.

Can God Lie?

An interesting article on Medieval and Early Modern inquiries into the question of whether the divine might lie.
There was one problem with these philosophically-minded defences of God’s essentially honest and transparent nature: scripture suggested otherwise. Robert Holkot, a 14th century Dominican theologian, popular in his day, now unjustly neglected, suggested there were any number of places in the Bible where God deceived demons, sinners and even the faithful. He deceived Abraham, father of the Jewish people, when he ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac, only to revoke that order at the last moment, as Abraham held the knife over his rope-bound and trembling son.

Two centuries later, John Calvin reached the same conclusion while reflecting on the passage in I Kings in which God ‘wills that the false king Ahab be deceived’, sending the Devil to fulfill this wish ‘with a definite command to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets’.
What do you think? Can God lie? If he can, would God lie? If he would, why?

April 1st, eh?


The Cow Joke...

...with only capitalist variations.

I miss the communist and socialist versions, but I suppose those systems are dead and discredited now. Take note, DC.

Isn't It Time That Competence Returned to the White House?

Secretary Clinton: one savvy character.
Federal law requires government officials to conduct business communications on official media, for lots of good reasons. First, it allows for archival without the officials in question having an opportunity to “sanitize” the record. Second — and this is pretty important for the diplomatic corps — it allows the government to protect against intrusion from other nations and entities. Hillary’s practice of doing business through private servers bypassed both of those key protections....

According to the New York Times, Hillary Clinton never used the official e-mail system at all. When the time came to produce e-mails for the Benghazi probe, her aides “found” 300 or so that they chose to reveal years after the event — with no guarantee that these represent the entire record, or even a significant portion of it....

Chances of this being an oversight are nil:
Hacked emails indicate that Clinton used a domain registered the day of her Senate hearings.

— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) March 3, 2015
The day of her Senate confirmation hearing? Give her this much credit: her strategy to avoid oversight and transparency may be the most coherent and well-executed strategy from State in the entire Obama era.

I never would have said it that way...

But I think they have a point:
How Walmart Made Liberals Turn Right

The short of it is, Conservatives have long made the argument that a perpetual welfare state is destructive to virtue, and saps the willingness of the otherwise abled to do the right thing and work for a living.  Now the Liberals are making the same claim about Walmart.  If pays too little to its workers, goes the claim, because the welfare safety net allows its workers to live on the meager wages offered by Walmart (i.e. Walmart is therefore subsidized by the welfare state).  And if only those lazy, greedy Walmart fatcats would be forced off of their welfare subsidies, they'd have to actually pay their workers better.

Useless Knowledge

Aristotle said that metaphysics is useless, in the sense that it's not for anything: every other sort of knowledge is for it. It is in metaphysics that we approach ultimate truths, the nature of being as such. Of course we don't pursue that so we can use it to make better pancakes: we make better pancakes so we can have the strength and leisure to reflect on the truth of the reality we encounter daily.

Here is a very pleasant article that makes similar claims about pure math. It's distinct from applied math, which means math that you can use for something. The article gets around to asking the question Aristotle doesn't ask, as he assumed you'd have to make a living doing something useful in order to pursue metaphysics:
Q: So if “applied” means “useful,” doesn’t it follow that “pure” must mean…

A: Useless?

Q: You said it, not me.

A: Well, I prefer the phrase “for its own sake,” but “useless” isn’t far off.

Pure mathematics is not about applications. It’s not about the “real world.” It’s not about creating faster web browsers, or stronger bridges, or investment banks that are less likely to shatter the world economy.

Pure math is about patterns, puzzles, and abstraction. It’s about ideas. It’s about the other ideas that come before, behind, next to, or on top of those initial ones. It’s about asking, “Well, if that’s true, then what else is true?” It’s about digging deeper.

Q: You’re telling me there are people out there, right this instant, doing mathematics that may never, ever be useful to anyone?

A: *glances over at wife working, verifies that she’s not currently watching Grey’s Anatomy*


Q: Um… why?

A: Because it’s beautiful! They’re charting the frontiers of human knowledge. They’re no different than philosophers, artists, and researchers in other pure sciences.

Q: Sure, that’s why they’re doing pure math. But why are we paying them?

A: Ah! That’s a trickier question. Let me distract you from it with a rambling story.

Oysters triumph again

Oyster night was smashing fun, as always, even though the drizzle kept us from what is many ways my favorite part of the evening:  retiring downstairs to the firepit and getting lost in the music in an ecstatic haze during my one night of dispensation during Lent.  Though the oyster-tequila shooters were a reliable path to more riotous party territory, it's just not the same indoors with the lights on; the party tends to break up earlier than I'd like.  Still, my husband's oyster magic was right on, and I always love the gathering of clan and neighbors and out-of-town friends to stay the weekend.  Before our houseguests left, they dragged a ladder out to the citrus trees and helped us finally harvest all the rest of the fruit, and just in time, for the new blooms are beginning to set.

A neighbor who celebrated her 94th birthday earlier this week brought a killer grapefruit pie, using fruit from our tree.  Having had it before, I knew to recommend it to unfamiliar and skeptical guests.  All evening I watched them take a bite, get a surprised and delighted look on their faces, and make a beeline to my neighbor's comfortable spot to exclaim over her pie.  This is high praise considering that another neighbor brought her key lime tarts, which are fierce competition in the died-and-gone-to-Heaven dessert category.

We're still trying to finish up the oysters (I'm looking at you, lurking neighbors who didn't come over to help eat them last night--but luckily other neighbors picked up the slack!), so the NPH made oyster nachos per a recipe from Jeffrey's in Austin, and they were if possible better than even the many wonderful offerings from the night before:

If you're going to fry an oyster, I can't recommend a buttermilk/flour dredge too highly.  We didn't use homemade yucca chips, which we've tried before without outstanding success; a good fresh corn tortilla chip with a nice crunchy crumbly feel is all you need.  This dish covers all the hot-sour-salty-sweet bases along with creamy-crunchy-chewy-bite-size thrown in.  The habanero cream and mango salsa can be made ahead of time, leaving not too much last-minute craziness for a dinner party.