Strong Differences

Tex is having a historically low ebb in her trust of pollsters, so perhaps this is an artifact of bad methodology. Still...

All of these things are immoral according to traditional Christian theology. What I find interesting is that (with one exception within the margin of error) majorities of men agree that these traditionally-immoral behaviors are moral only where far larger majorities of women say they are moral. When minorities of men want to say that these traditionally-immoral behaviors are moral, women are less likely than men to agree.

I wonder if this means that the traditional authority on this issue has been sustained in spite of the changing attitudes. What our ancestors used to refer to as 'the civilizing influence of the fairer sex' seems to be intact, perhaps: but it turns out it can be a de-civilizing influence too, where women decide to abandon traditional moral standards for whatever reason.

The new Lysenkoism

Via Maggie's Farm, Matt Ridley:
The IPCC actually admits the possibility of lukewarming within its consensus, because it gives a range of possible future temperatures: it thinks the world will be between about 1.5 and four degrees warmer on average by the end of the century. That’s a huge range, from marginally beneficial to terrifyingly harmful, so it is hardly a consensus of danger, and if you look at the “probability density functions” of climate sensitivity, they always cluster towards the lower end.
What is more, in the small print describing the assumptions of the “representative concentration pathways”, it admits that the top of the range will only be reached if sensitivity to carbon dioxide is high (which is doubtful); if world population growth re-accelerates (which is unlikely); if carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans slows down (which is improbable); and if the world economy goes in a very odd direction, giving up gas but increasing coal use tenfold (which is implausible).
But the commentators ignore all these caveats and babble on about warming of “up to” four degrees (or even more), then castigate as a “denier” anybody who says, as I do, the lower end of the scale looks much more likely given the actual data. This is a deliberate tactic. Following what the psychologist Philip Tetlock called the “psychology of taboo”, there has been a systematic and thorough campaign to rule out the middle ground as heretical: not just wrong, but mistaken, immoral and beyond the pale. That’s what the word denier with its deliberate connotations of Holocaust denial is intended to do. For reasons I do not fully understand, journalists have been shamefully happy to go along with this fundamentally religious project.

Forgetting The Whole Thing

From 1965, a film about that wise advice. You should all watch it, especially if you have not seen it before. It so nicely ties together so many of our recent discussions.

English is a Difficult Language

It's really hard, I know.
The rules are simple. Every time a Republican who is a Catholic is asked for an opinion on the encyclical, place him into one of two categories: the Catholic Republicans or the Republican Catholics.

The difference between the categories depends on which term is doing the modifying. A Catholic Republican is a Republican whose Catholicism comes first, whose faith and devotion to the teaching authority of the Magisterium of the church takes precedence when a conflict or tension arises between it and loyalty to the party's ideology, policy platform, and electoral prospects. A Republican Catholic, on the other hand, is a Republican who puts his devotion to the party ahead of his faith...
You've got it exactly backwards. The "term doing the modifying" is the adjective, not the noun. So in "Republican Catholic," you're talking about a Catholic who happens to be Republican. They're the ones who will put their Catholicism first, and their Republicanism will only modify that essential Catholicism. Vice versa for your other category.

Don't feel bad. A similar error is behind a very common misreading of the Second Amendment.

Mirror neurons

From SlateStarCodex, a thoughtful article about trying to look at things from both sides, sometimes irritating but worth reading if only for the following:
Microagressions. Nanoagressions. Picoagressions. The Planck Hostility.
And perhaps for this conclusion: "If we can get to a point where we don’t feel like requests are part of a giant conspiracy to discredit and silence us, people are sometimes willing to listen." But if you take my advice you'll stay away from the comments.

Orders of Magnitude

Of course, 99 percent of southern whites will never go into a church, sit down with people and then massacre them. But that 99 percent is responsible for the one who does. We white southerners — those of us who left, the others who stayed, and even those millions who have migrated to the Sun Belt — are all Dylann Roof. We are all responsible. We cannot shirk it.
The white population of South Carolina in the last census was 3,253,700 (total population * 68.88 (percent white) / 100). If 99% of them never go into a church and massacre everyone, that means that 32,537 of them do -- for which massive wave of violence the culture is certainly responsible.

No? Well, perhaps it's 3,253 massacres.

No? 325?



I'm prepared to turn the other cheek at the anti-Southern rhetoric today, because I understand people are angry and afraid. But come on. Just because you hate your homeland, and therefore part of yourself, don't try to put that on me or mine. We aren't the source of your problem. We're the kind of men who stand ready to kill or die to stop such things. You may hate us, but we aren't your enemy.

Confidence in Institutions

Gallup's annual "Confidence in Institutions" poll is out.
From a broad perspective, Americans' confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993. The average confidence rating of the 14 institutions asked about annually since 1993 -- excluding small business, asked annually since 2007 -- is 32% this year. This is one percentage point above the all-institution average of 31% last year. Americans were generally more confident in all institutions in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the country enjoyed a strong economy and a rally in support for U.S. institutions after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The biggest collapse in public confidence is with the police as an institution. The obvious reason why that might be true is heavy media coverage of controversial police shootings and militarized police responses to protests in Ferguson and elsewhere. But the media has been relentlessly positive about Pope Francis, and the Catholic Church remains at its historic low point in spite of the glowing attention. (Besides, confidence in the media is pretty low too!)

No Federal institution polls above a third of Americans being confident in it. Congress remains near its record low at 8%.

United States Marine Corps Raiders

The Marines will rename several special operations units as Marine Raiders at a ceremony Friday, resurrecting a moniker made famous by World War II units that carried out risky amphibious and guerrilla operations....

During World War II, the Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt's desire to have a commando-style force that could conduct amphibious raids and operate behind enemy lines. Raider commanders studied unconventional warfare tactics, including Chinese guerrillas, and were given their pick of men and equipment, according to Marine historians.

Raider units were credited with beating larger Japanese forces on difficult terrain in the Pacific and they participated in key battles including Guadalcanal and Bougainville. They were disbanded toward the end of the war and the Raider name hasn't been used in an official capacity since, said Capt. Barry Morris, a U.S. Marines spokesman.

"What the name 'Raider' does, it harkens back to the legacy that the Marine Corps has latched onto and has drawn a lot from, both in an esoteric and practical sense," Connable said. "It is a remarkable legacy."
It's good to have a historical legacy against which to measure yourself.

A Heroine of Charleston

Cassandra points us to a story about a central figure in the capture of the Charleston killer: a florist and minister named Debbie Dills.

Winning Irregular Wars

A long read, but iconoclastic for something published by Leavenworth. Normally when I see a publication from there with a length over six hundred pages, I expect it will be produced-by-committee garbage that managed to 'staff out' every useful thing contributed. This work is not like that. It has a clear, strong voice.

A Plan to Destroy ISIS

Christian Brotherhood

While these acts are probably not related, the Charleston shooting occurred alongside another shooting at a historically black church in Memphis. Meanwhile, a third church in Ferguson, MO, with ties to the explosive police shooting last year was burned to the ground. The KKK is suspected.

It would be good to take a moment, if the opportunity presents itself, to express a sense of brotherhood to our fellow Christians. The talk in the media focuses so much on what divides us, but this far more important thing connects us. American politics, the questions of race, these are passing matters. The eternal truth is brotherhood. It is important to make that clear in an hour in which many must be feeling fear.

Too Late For Uncle Mike

Not that the rule would cover him anyway. He was a Marine, and encountered the stuff more by having it dropped on him in reconnaissance than otherwise.
Ending years of wait, the government agreed Thursday to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to as many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes used in the Vietnam War.
After he went blind, he lost heart. I remember him fondly.

The Spirit of the Age

Mollie Hemingway:
[I]f Lew is right that our currency is supposed to express our values and capture the spirit of our age, a man as good as Hamilton has absolutely no business being on the currency. George Washington definitely doesn’t. Heck, we should replace them all.
She has some suggestions, but they're mostly for effect. Her basic point is made there -- and perhaps she's right. With quantitative easing, the money isn't worth anything anymore. We are just trading on the fact that international markets haven't worked out a solid alternative yet. The people aren't virtuous, as a republic needed them to be. Why shouldn't the paper reflect the people, or for that matter, why shouldn't the symbols on the face of the currency better reflect its true value?


Like thousands and thousands of Americans, I've filled out an SF-86, the Questionnaire for National Security Positions. In order to let the government determine if it can trust me, I trusted them with vast quantities of private personal information. This included not only responses to 127 pages of questions, but personal interviews with security officers, not only for me and my wife but for many people I've known everywhere I'd lived to the date of the adjudication of the clearance. The file, in other words, is as complete a set of information about me as you could hope to procure, given that it was created with my complete cooperation and with a very thorough background investigation.

How nice to know that the government took such good care with my trust.

The Fix

A surprise vote on that TPP fast track bill was called last night, just after news of the Charleston shooting began to flood TV news and social media networks. Fast track was approved by the House while no one was watching.

The Charleston Matter

It is a great sorrow to learn that decent people, brother and sister Christians engaged in Bible study, were murdered by a strange and paranoid figure while at their peaceful and religious work. At times like these, I prefer to look for those who behaved well in the face of danger. During the Sikh temple murders it was Satwant Singh Kaleka, a 65-year-old hero who charged the gunman with the only weapon the law permitted him: a butter knife that reduced his kirpan to a symbol rather than a practical tool for fighting evil. During the Aurora shooting, it was the gallant men who lay down their lives to protect their wives and girlfriends. Such men must be welcomed to heaven by heralding angels.

Today there are no such good stories, except for the work of the policemen who tracked down and captured the murderer. It is being remarked, unfairly, that the fact that they took him alive is proof that cops are racists. Rather, it is their duty when it is reasonably possible. They should be praised for doing their duty against a young man of proven danger.

"So I Went To The New York Times' Science Page..."

"...and it was all about the Pope."

SCOTUS, Texas, and the Confederate Flag

This ruling makes sense to me. The Confederate Flag is, inter alia, a symbol of rebellion against Federal power. Even as a heritage symbol, which is how the Sons of Confederate Veterans want to use it, displaying it aligns one with the historical cause of rejecting the Federal government outright where it overstepped the community's understanding of its constitutional bounds. The Federal courts' extraordinary power over every aspect of American life follows directly from the defeat of that cause and the consequent Reconstruction's 14th Amendment.

So when the SoCV went forward with a lawsuit claiming the right to force the government to accept the symbol, of course the courts are bound to reject that. The liberal wing of the court was united here, joined by Justice Thomas. The article mentions that he is 'the court's only African-American' in a way that suggests this was a causal factor, but Thomas is surely correct as an originalist. The purpose of the Reconstruction amendments was to suppress just this particular political expression. For, as von Clausewitz reminds us, war is only politics by other means.

Where Are The Ice Giants?

A forester in Denmark uncovers the weapons of giants among his pine trees.
The axe heads measure 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length and each one weighs two pounds. Dating revealed they were made sometime during the 16th century BC, making them one of the oldest weapons of their kind discovered in Denmark. They are twice as heavy as axe heads usually are, suggesting that the men who wielded them must have been giant in stature.
A good reminder, as we approach 2016, of what we ought to look for in a leader.

Why teach Shakespeare?

Megan McArdle has dived again into the "pale dead men" pedagogical debate.  Here are a couple of bids to make the Bard more culturally relevant for the modern student:

Also, OMG Romeo.

Death Canyon Approach


I prefer aggression per se, myself, but apparently this is a big deal:
My favorite is “gender plays no part in who we hire,” a policy feminists have spent decades demanding from American businesses only to dismiss it now as aggressively sexist, a self-delusion promoted by the corporate world to disguise their bias against women.
By coincidence I received in my email while off on vacation an advertisement for this scholarship. "This scholarship is available only to women," the tenured (and female) faculty member wrote to the email list without any apparent sense of discomfort.

Well, why shouldn't it be? It's private money, after all. I'm sure we're all OK with the idea of private actors -- corporations and their hiring managers, for example -- acting on their preference for supporting the advancement of the right sex. Or if we are not, why not? It's their money, after all, whether paid out as scholarships or salaries.

God and Gold

A meditation on St. Augustine's wrestling with a problem most modern Christian and Jewish thinkers prefer to avoid. Can you trade earthly gold for heavenly? What does it take to do so?

The Judgment of Grim

So this week I saw a grizzly in Yellowstone. People said he was around, so I searched out the track -- grizzly bears often leave a clear track where they walk back and forth between their favorite feeding areas -- and followed it. He was sleeping on top of his kill, an American Bison, by a small pond. I'm pretty sure this was a reasonable thing to do, in spite of the fact that everyone I've discussed it with thinks it was crazy. The land lay in such a way that there were only a few places he could be that were out of sight, and I approached with what I think was sufficient caution to make sure I didn't get close enough to those places to provoke an encounter. I wouldn't want to hurt a bear, and if it went the other way and he killed me the Rangers would shoot him. Thus, while I really wanted to see him, I approached it in a way that would ensure his safety.

I also crossed a glacier at 10,400 feet and free climbed some rock chimneys without rope or safety gear. This, I learned later, is strongly not recommended by the park rangers. Once again, though, I think I knew what I was doing, and it was awesome.

Thought about Sly when we crossed into Montana. That was really beautiful, but the Grand Tetons are my new favorite place in the world. More, it surprises me to say, even than Georgia.

Crowd-sourcing jobs

Amazon is considering adopting the Uber model, by signing up local workers to deliver packages they volunteer for via smartphone.

Named storms

Something's coming on shore now that's been dignified with the name "Bill."  If you look at this Wind Map, it suggests a dramatic event over our heads (we're just about directly south of the left-hand edge of the "H" in "Houston"), but actually so far it's a bust even as far as rain goes.  The west side of a tropical pattern is usually the dry side, but maybe it will dump something more on us later as it pulls northwest through Texas.  It seems that North Texas and Oklahoma are in for another drenching, and it will be quite wet all the way up the Gulf Coast to the east of us.

Much as we would love to see another hard rain fill the pond all the rest of the way up, we can't complain about this year's extraordinary rainfall total to date, which is as much as we might expect in an entire ordinary year, around 30 inches.  Our rainwater cistern has been topped off for months; lakes and aquifers are being replenished all over the state.  But it's a good time to take rising rivers very seriously.

Update:  OK, not that much yesterday, but we've had 5.5 inches of rain today with power outages.  Now that's more like it!