Saturday Night on the Slide Guitar

The Whiskey Daredevils show us the way.

UPDATE: H-Bombs rollin' through the night. If I read the Iran deal right, we might as well get used to the idea.

What An Ass

I assume none of you were even remotely considering supporting this character anyway, but good night.

Texas & the Gold Standard

Texas is apparently launching a gold-backed bank, much to the scorn of its enemies.
Texas lawyers are so unbelievably stupid.


Though this does bring us to the actual reason for the bill: a symbolic gesture to convince morons that Texas is an independent realm instead of a wasteful drain on U.S. tax dollars. Having their own money bin and currency system — writing checks based off stockpiled metals creates, for all intents and purposes, an independent, gold-backed currency — goes a long way toward fluffing the illusion that Texas holds sway over the rest of America. It’s also why the law includes this provision:

And in case the Fed or Obama wants to confiscate Texas’s gold, nice try Fed and Obama! In keeping with this suspicion of the Fed and Washington, the new law also explicitly declares that no “governmental or quasi-governmental authority other than an authority of [Texas]” will be allowed to confiscate or freeze an account inside the depository. Gold that’s entrusted to Texas will stay in Texas.

Nope. Not how it works. “Don’t Mess With Texas” does not supersede the “Supremacy Clause.”
The Tenth Amendment Center doesn't agree with this analysis, nor does the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
Tenth Amendment Center chief Michael Boldin, whose organization promotes states’ rights to rein in the feds under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, called the law “an important first step towards gold and silver as commonly-used legal tender in the state.” He said the move has the potential to open the market to sound money, even in day-to-day transactions. “By making gold and silver available for regular, daily transactions by the general public, the new law has the potential for wide-reaching effect,” Boldin added.

The Tenth Amendment Center also highlighted the constitutional implications. Noting that Article I, Section 10, of the U.S. Constitution prohibits state governments from making anything other than gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, Boldin said the bill takes Texas a step toward fulfilling that long-ignored constitutional obligation. “Such a tactic would undermine the monopoly the Federal Reserve system by introducing competition into the monetary system,” he said.

Other experts also highlighted those effects. “Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a ‘reverse Gresham’s Law’ effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes),” explained constitutional-tender expert William Greene in a paper for the market-oriented Ludwig von Mises Institute.

“As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state — as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money — and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions,” added Greene, who also testified in favor of the law in his capacity as a private citizen.
It does look as if there is an explicit Constitutional warrant for gold and silver tender, as long as Texas does not undertake to "coin money." In any case, the advantages of a gold-backed system in an age of soaring national debts are explored by Forbes magazine. If we're looking for an exit from the Greece problem that the USA is definitely going to face sooner or later, maybe this is one.

Folsom Prison Blues

All right, I'm out. Here's a introduction to the weekend by the Reverend Horton Heat, once again stepping off their rockabilly platform.

Allahpundit on the Deal

By cutting Congress out of the agreement and running to the UN, Obama has heaped even more pressure on congressional Democrats not to defy him on this by making them guilty of breaching international law if they do. He’s crushed Congress at every turn — first in refusing to submit this deal to the Senate as a treaty, as the Constitution requires, then in negotiating that horrible deal with Bob Corker that would let the Senate effectively ratify the deal with just 34 votes, and now by ignoring Congress’s authority in the text of the final agreement itself and moving quickly to get this passed in the Security Council before Congress has even considered it. In a saner world, where the American public gave a wet fart about ridiculous power grabs by the executive, the House would be threatening him credibly with impeachment at this point.
So is this a high crime, or a misdemeanor? Neither one, obviously, unless you want to go all out and call it 'aid and comfort to the enemy.' The Islamic Republic of Iran certainly has been our enemy, its whole existence.
Instead they’re gearing up for another performance of failure theater, where the Senate pretends to try really hard to stop Obama and almost musters the votes needed to do so, but falls just a bit short. The whole thing is a simulacrum of democracy, designed to put Shiite fanatics on track to build a nuclear weapon in 10 years because rapprochement with Iran will look really cool on Obama’s and Kerry’s CVs.

Up The Militia

The morning after a deadly attack on two military centers in Chattanooga, residents in Hiram are standing watch outside the local recruiting office with their personal firearms. It is their unique way of honoring the fallen Marines and they said to protect the lives of those who serve in the military.

“I teared up. I think any human being would be touched by what happened yesterday. Any U.S. citizen that has a heart and a soul to hear what had happened,” said Crystal Tewellow, who organized the watch.

Recruiting offices are designated as being “gun-free zones” which means officers working there cannot carry their sidearm into the building. Tewellow, whose son just enlisted and the army and has a brother who is a recruiter, felt compelled to organize the watch.

“To think the people who are supposed to protect and serve us are unable to protect and serve… protect themselves,” said Tewellow. “So if us, the citizens, who carry permits, are able to help protect them that’s, that’s what we’re gonna be able to do.”

News Radio 106.7′s Nathalie Pozo was at the recruitment center on Friday morning and reported that about 30 people answered the call to arms.
Good. And the idea of having lots of armed citizens everywhere makes sense. When you face a diffuse, widely-distributed threat, you need a diffuse, widely-distributed defense. You can’t do that with police and military because there aren’t enough of them. But you can do it with ordinary citizens. And there’s one group of responders that will always be on the scene of any attack — the citizens who are already there. If they’re able to respond, things are much better than if they’re not.
I suppose I'll start carrying a revolver again. I haven't regularly carried a gun for years, not since I came back from Iraq in 2009. But he's right. We need to be prepared at all times in all places. We need to harden the society again, as we did after 9/11. We have to show that these acts are without profit, that America is always and everywhere ready to respond. You don't see skyjacking attempts on American airliners anymore.

Yeah, Probably Not

Headline: "Loch Ness Monster 'Most Likely Large Catfish.'"

Greatly Appreciated, Dr. Sugrue

A good piece, and an honest one, by a professor at New York University.
Economic segregation is most severe in America’s Northern metropolitan areas, as well, with Milwaukee; Hartford, Conn.; Philadelphia; and Detroit leading large cities nationwide, according to an analysis of 2010 census data by the Atlantic. White suburbanites across the North — even in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adopted home town, Chappaqua, N.Y. — have fought the construction of affordable housing in their neighborhoods, trying to keep out “undesirables” who might threaten their children and undermine their property values. The effects of that segregation are devastating.

Chesterton in America

Via AVI, a letter on America.
America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just....

Now a creed is at once the broadest and the narrowest thing in the world. In its nature it is as broad as its scheme for a brotherhood of all men. In its nature it is limited by its definition of the nature of all men. This was true of the Christian Church, which was truly said to exclude neither Jew nor Greek, but which did definitely substitute something else for Jewish religion or Greek philosophy. It was truly said to be a net drawing in of all kinds; but a net of a certain pattern, the pattern of Peter the Fisherman. And this is true even of the most disastrous distortions or degradations of that creed; and true among others of the Spanish Inquisition. It may have been narrow about theology, it could not confess to being narrow about nationality or ethnology. The Spanish Inquisition might be admittedly Inquisitorial; but the Spanish Inquisition could not be merely Spanish. Such a Spaniard.... might burn a philosopher because he was heterodox; but he must accept a barbarian because he was orthodox....

[America is] a democracy of diverse races which has been compared to a melting-pot. But even that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The melting-pot must not melt. The original shape was traced on the lines of Jeffersonian democracy; and it will remain in that shape until it becomes shapeless. America invites all men to become citizens; but it implies the dogma that there is such a thing as citizenship.
It's interesting that he found in the creed "that governments exist to give them justice" and not, as the Declaration actually says, that government exists to protect their rights. In a sense that is giving justice, but it is largely a project of abstention rather than provision. Mostly, on the original American ideal, the government 'gives justice' by refraining from doing anything to you, or for you, at all.

The "John Doe" Proceedings

Or, "How The IRS, FBI and Justice Departments are Agents of Modern American Tyranny."
Imagine having a vision for your country.

You worked hard to start an organization to promote the ideas and values that you believe can fix our nation.

When you apply for tax-exempt status, which should be a simple matter of paperwork, you face repeated delays and demands from the government that stretch the process across months and years.

Then you learn—not from the government, but from an outside source—that your private information was shared with multiple government agencies, all of whom wanted to “piece together” criminal charges against you.

Imagine being awakened in the middle of the night by a gang of police, shouting and waving their weapons at you. They turn your house inside-out, steal your laptop and phone, then order you not to tell anyone they were there.

All this happened because your political beliefs landed on the wrong side of those officials in power.
We have still the freedom to write about it. At least, we do if we haven't been placed under a gag order.
Jonah’s father may have been the target of the raid on his home, but according to the family, investigators went well beyond the scope of the warrant to seize business records in his mother’s possession, including confidential donor and financial information for two conservative Wisconsin nonprofits, which were paralyzed for weeks as a result. Yet despite the overly expansive search, to this day, no one in Jonah’s family has been charged with a crime. The damage to the family’s reputation was immense. Soon after the raid, and despite court orders mandating confidentiality (orders that prevented the family from publicly defending themselves), their names leaked to the press.


Shapiro’s point is that Zoey Tur, formerly Bob Tur, is male genetically and therefore a man in fact, however he/she may identify. Tur’s reply is to grab him by the neck and threaten to knock him into the middle of next week, which is … about as cartoonishly masculine a response to an insult as I can imagine.
It's true. A woman would have slapped him.

"The Little Sisters of the Poor v. the Big Sisters of the Rich"

While Planned Parenthood does not call itself a religious order, it clearly has many of the trappings of a passionate and serious cult.... Our President, as the unofficial high priest, has asked God’s blessing to come upon them, making them too big to fail with even more business directed their way through Obamacare regulations.

The love and faith of the Little Sisters is perhaps most evident at the end of the lives of the residents they care for. The sisters bring them joy through socializing and even a little dancing, no matter what their physical limitations. And then when they are very close to dying, a sister is assigned around the clock so that no one will die alone.

As for the Big Sisters of the Rich, who have a government allowance of $528 million—nearly 100 times the annual budget of the Sisters of the Poor—their end of life story is slightly different.

Some Positive Eid al-Fitr News

American Muslim groups have raised $90,000 to help rebuild the black churches that have recently burned.
“In the time of the prophet (Muhammed), peace be upon him, there was a really strong history of Muslims working with Christians very closely — some of the first Muslims were sent to seek shelter under a Christian king in Ethiopia,” Islam said. “That connection has always been there.”

To Defend The Weak

``Deny it not, Sir Knight---you are he who decided
the victory to the advantage of the English
against the strangers on the second day of the
tournament at Ashby.''

``And what follows if you guess truly, good
yeoman?'' replied the knight.

``I should in that case hold you,'' replied the
yeoman, ``a friend to the weaker party.''

``Such is the duty of a true knight at least,'' replied
the Black Champion; ``and I would not willingly
that there were reason to think otherwise of
A meditation on that duty from the National Review. I agree: it is the foremost duty of a man to defend the weak. It is why God sent you strength. You will answer for how you used that strength.

Happy Eid Al-Fitr

Six things to know about today's terrorist attack on US Marines.

'Brothers and sisters don't be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.... Take his (Allah's) word as your light and code and do not let other prisoners, whether they are so called "Scholars" or even your family members, divert you from the truth. If you make the intention to follow allahs way 100 per cent and put your desires to the side, allah will guide you to what is right.'

All Right, My Turn

From their CD "Liquor in the Front," the Reverend Horton Heat skipped off their usual rockabilly and surf-rock to do a honky tonk piece. It's completely over the top.

The scoop on Pluto

From xkcd.

Charlie Nagatani and the Cannonballs

Eric reminded me of these cultural juxtapositions.

I'll start out with a Brad Paisley video which features shots at Charlie Nagatani's place in Kumamoto, Japan. It's a good song, if you like Paisley's kind of country, but mostly I want to show you the visuals at Charlie's.

Now, here's Charlie himself, doing foreign culture in a very characteristic Japanese style.

A Helpful Article

I've never heard this allegedly Southern expression, "acting brand new." I can't vouch for anyone ever having said that. However, I find this article very helpful.
He's spoken off the cuff about race relations on a widely circulated podcast (even using the n-word) and then eloquently followed that with what can only be described as a sermon on race relations in America before breaking into song. He's challenged America to go deeper in its support of equality than retiring symbols of slavery (such as the Confederate flag) and impolitic words (such as the n-word).

While eulogizing a slain minister and state lawmaker allegedly killed by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., he outlined a whole raft of ways in which discrimination remains and inequality continues to grow. And now, in the span of two weeks, he has announced two major reform packages — housing last week and criminal justice on Tuesday — that could, if ultimately implemented, be of particular benefit to people of color in the United States.

Here's the thing: This Obama might look or sound "brand new" to some Americans. He might even sound a little something like the black president some white Americans across the political spectrum feared (or hoped for).
We've been strongly critical of the President and his administration on very many points. None of these, however, have come up as criticisms of him. In fact, in general we've supported all of these things -- prison reform, courtesy, with some regret the retirement of the Confederate flag from the war memorial at the South Carolina statehouse as a show of support for black Americans. Housing is the only one in which I suspect there's any strong disagreement lurking, and that simply because the most of you are pretty opposed to government interference in markets of any sort.

She goes on to point out that he spoke to the NAACP. Well, of course he did. The NAACP's call this week to sand blast the monument off Stone Mountain ought to be opposed for the same reason we oppose ISIS or the Taliban when they destroy artistic symbols of the world before Islam. But I don't think the NAACP is a "hate group" because of it. (Oddly enough, that's the kind of rhetoric long-time NAACP-supporter the Southern Poverty Law Center uses.) We understand there's a painful history, and oppose the rhetoric and the idea without thinking they are haters for expressing their anger and bitterness.

The differences ultimately aren't about race. They're about America, about liberty, about sovereignty, about the Constitution and about duty. Those are the things that divide us from this President. The things he does that point to race are the main things that don't bother us.

"Why Aren't Ethicists Better People?"

Because contemporary ethical systems are bad. The two leading ethical systems are utilitarianism and deontology. Utilitarianism is really just a modern form of hedonism, i.e., an ethical system that takes pleasure and the avoidance of pain as its ground for "the good." Quite sophisticated versions of this philosophy have been known for millennia -- Socrates tries out a version towards the end of the Protagoras. It doesn't work because "to be good" doesn't align with "to cause pleasure and not pain."

This is true even if, as Socrates attempts, you suggest a model in which we're talking about 'the most' pleasure, so that minor pleasures now that cause worse pains later are not considered good. Sacrificing your life for your children may not bring any pleasure and only pain, but it might still be the ethical choice. Utilitarians try to avoid this problem by shifting to a kind of aggregate pleasure/pain as experienced by the whole society, but it still doesn't get it right. It still can't say just why it is more obvious for a parent to sacrifice his or her life for their own particular child, but extraordinarily excellent for a stranger to lay down his life to save the child. At worst, the movement to aggregate pleasure as the standard for utilitarianism can end up saying that we ought to sacrifice the child, especially if the death of the child can mean increased aggregate pleasure for the community -- witness the Planned Parenthood atrocities currently under discussion.

So, naturally ethicists who are utilitarians won't be especially excellent people. It's not just (as the article alleges) that they don't follow their own rules. It's that their system is pointed to the wrong ends.

Deontology attempts to establish duties. It's healthier than utilitarianism, but it still has the problem of rooting its ultimate standard for goodness. Does your duty come from reason? Kant makes an argument that it can't come from anywhere else: it is only reason that allows us to make choices that are more than actions from animal instinct. Reason must therefore be the standard for ethics. If ethics comes from reason, well, rationality is the same for all of us. Thus, we will all naturally agree about what is right and wrong. Kant thought this was so obvious that there really could only be one moral philosophy.

Empirical evidence demonstrates conclusively that Kant was not right about that. The problem, I think, is this:

1) Reason applies most perfectly to logical/mathematical objects;
2) Logical objects are like physical objects only by analogy;
3) Analogies always break at some point.

Thus, it turns out that rather than discovering laws of reason that ought to govern all human situations, we end up discovering that no two situations are really alike. We reason by analogy to previous situations, and to general working rules-of-thumb, but we can't come up with rational laws for human behavior of the sort the early moderns hoped to find. Ethicists who do state that they've found such laws and try to apply them end up doing injustice by trying to force square pegs into round holes (because the hole looks at least a little bit like a square, and certainly more like a square than a triangle).

So of course ethicists are bad people. They have devoted their lives to trying to make the world comply with bad systems. Naturally, at some point, the frustration leads them to tend to give up hope and just do what they want.

Attack on Naval Reserve Center

Still waiting for any reliable information. All the news knows for now is that one police officer and two Marines were injured, but not how badly. The shooter is reportedly dead, but no information about who he was has been revealed as yet.

UPDATE: They are now saying four Marines were killed.

UPDATE: Pamela Geller, who whatever you may think of her has good reason to pay attention to ISIS's social media threats, claims that ISIS's account issued a threat specifying Chattanooga at 10:34 AM.

UPDATE: The gunman's name was Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Eid al-Fitr, the feast at the end of Ramadan, begins at sundown.

No One May Have Any Fun

A strident but foolish article on "Medieval-themed" video games.

Italian rock and roll

The Mojomatics, out of Venice. This stuff amuses me no end. If I heard this on the radio, I'd be thinking "hey, a new alt-country rock band, like the Old '97s." But no. They got the style down.

Wise Advice: Anger Can Make You Stupid

It is right and proper to be angry right now. I am myself furious. Just the last month or so has been one heavy blow after another for the country I grew up in and love. This Iran deal, which appears to cede everything to Iran in return for nothing, empowering, enriching, and arming a power that has been the world leader in state sponsored terrorism. The inversion of religious freedom, which has gone from being a point of bipartisan agreement to the next target for elimination by the courts and activists. The assault on Southern culture and history, which went from a bipartisan agreement to do something to show love and respect for our fellow citizens in the wake of a vicious murder to the destruction and defacing of memorials to the dead and calls to sand-blast Stone Mountain. The way in which the two parties have colluded to sell out our sovereignty to foreign courts via the massive TPP and T-TIP deals. Failure theater from the Republican "opposition." Failure theater from the Left, too, where those trade deals are concerned. Of course the political class' absolute determination to foist "comprehensive immigration reform" on us, in spite of endless promises to focus on security. The clear proof, from Lois Lerner and the IRS to Hillary Clinton's emails, that the law will not be enforced to control the powerful. I could go on. These are just stories from the last few weeks. You know them as well as I do.

So yes, anger is right and appropriate. Andrew Klaven is right, though, that we cannot afford to be stupid. We need to be cunning. We need to think and act strategically. The ordinary means of politics have failed. Winning elections isn't enough. Opposition will have to take a new strength from other means -- legal means always, to be sure, but means of resistance to rather than cooperation with authority. This does not come naturally for many conservatives, whose hearts are loyal and who have good reason to think of many expressions of authority -- especially the military and police -- as beloved institutions involving many personal friends. I suggest we remember that this shift is necessary to protect them. It is to protect them from being asked to do things that are violations of their oath, but it is also just to protect them: Iran has already killed many of them, and our government is now acting to empower that nation further. It is in the interest of all our sheepdogs that we resist the current powers that be. We have to save the country from its government.

Here, then, is Klavan's advice, which I think good.
You want to win back your country? Here’s how. Fear nothing. Hate no one. Stick to principles. Unchecked borders are dangerous not because Mexicans are evil but because evil thrives when good men don’t stand guard. Poverty programs are misguided, not because the poor are undeserving criminals, but because dependency on government breeds dysfunction and more poverty. Guns save lives and protect liberty. Property rights guarantee liberty. Religious rights are essential to liberty. Without liberty we are equal only in misery.

These things are true. They’re true for white people and black people, male people and female people, straight people and gay people. We should support the smartest, most proven, most statesmanlike candidate who best represents those principles. And we should do it out of — dare I say the word? — love. Love for our neighbors, our fellow citizens, white and black, male and female, straight and gay.

“Perfect love casts out fear.”
We must proceed without fear, without hate, but with complete commitment and trust in the providence of heaven.

Privileged deliberators

Hillary Clinton and the State Department defend the withholding of a September 29, 2012, email discussing the Benghazi talking points as a "deliberative privilege"--even though it seems that what they were deliberating was the cover-up they were engaged in.

Fighter Pilot Tunes

Have we had Dos Gringos at the Hall before? I don't remember. This is probably their cleanest tune, and it's not pretty.

This one isn't much worse. Maybe.

Something I really appreciate about this band is that, if you don't listen to the words, they could be folk singers playing Kumbaya around a campfire.

Here, as far as I can tell, is their one and only song dedicated to anyone other than an F-16 pilot.

Beer Ticket Rag

Drink while you can.

Almost Forgot -- I Hope You Had a Happy Bastille Day!

My favorite book on the topic has always been Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.

While getting the link I noticed that Project Gutenberg has a warning up,which I'll reproduce here: 

Beware of the TPP!

Project Gutenberg is concerned about a new secret international treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This will extend copyright term protection worldwide, thus halting the growth of the public domain. To learn more, and join Project Gutenberg in speaking out against this treaty, visit The Internet Archive.

I don't know about you, Jacques, but I'm getting tired of a certain privileged class of folk trying to run our lives.

Sources and Votes on the Iran Sanctions

Probably the best quick overview history of US sanctions on Iran that I've seen is at the US institute for Peace's website. The Treasury Department has a significant role in enforcing sanctions, and of course the State Department is involved. Their site has links to relevant executive orders, statutes, and UNSC resolutions.

Until I started reading through this material, I really didn't understand how fully the executive branch had authority over the sanctions. Most of the sanctions depend on executive orders, and even the  legislation that has passed on this gives the president broad authority.

I think this solves a mystery for me. A month or two ago, someone posted a rant at Ace's or Hot Air (or both?) accusing Sen. Bob Corker and the Republicans of effectively guaranteeing that whatever deal Obama struck with the Iranians would be automatically accepted by giving Congress a normal vote on it (which Democrats could block and would not be veto-proof) instead of insisting on a 2/3s majority vote in the Senate as the Constitution requires. However, this appears to ignore the fact that sanctions against Iran have always depended primarily on executive authority, not treaty powers or legislation. So, I may actually defend Corker and the Republicans on this.

Even Worse

The use of psychotherapy as a political discipline was characteristic of Maoists and Stalinists. This is the most alarming thing I've seen in... well, the day includes the Iran deal, so not really all that long.


The Little Sisters of the Poor ordered to pay for contraception. It's been a banner month, hasn't it?


Sixteen reasons to be thrilled about the Iran "deal."

Chuck Z on the Iran "Deal"

I'm sure you all remember long-time milblogger Chuck Z.

Good Hunting

In my experience, Iraqi forces do better on the offense than defense. They can't hold a position in the face of artillery or superior maneuver, but they can take defended ground as long as you don't expect them to hold it later. Since what we all want most is dead ISIS members, that will suffice.


Headline: "Obama adviser wants Israel to give up nukes."
The president of a think tank that arranged a conference call Monday between the White House and progressive activist organizations in which participants discussed how to coordinate public defense of President Obama’s pending Iran deal has another ultimate target in mind.

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, wants Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, arguing such a move will ensure Iran halts its illicit nuclear program and will help to create a Mideast nuclear-free zone.
Two small counterarguments:

1) That worked out great for Ukraine, didn't it?

2) I thought we were supposed to believe that this wonderful new Iran deal was going to "halt Iran's illicit nuclear program." Now the concept is this deal requires Israeli disarmament to ensure Iranian good behavior? Sounds like the deal's promised oversight of Iran isn't as solid as it's being portrayed.

Lost in Translation

You know those guys who get tattoos of Chinese characters that really don't end up meaning what they thought? There's an Asian version of that problem. When I lived in China, a few times I had to gently caution someone about a t-shirt they'd bought with an inappropriate English phrase on it, one that would make them terribly ashamed to wear if they'd understood what it meant. More often, I'd see horrible mistranslations like these.

The lesson, I suppose, is to stick to your own language unless you're really quite fluent.

Where the Boys Are

... and some of the girls, too. This video is best watched full-screen and sound blasting. Some profanity, though.

Groups of players in EVE Online are organized into corporations (corp / corps - yes, the plural is pronounced "corpse" - maybe Obama plays?). Many (though not all) corporations focus on fleet combat -- training players, building the right ships for their missions and tactics, and then running them. Fleet commanders have to recruit volunteers to fight, organize fleets around a particular type of mission, employ scouts to find enemy ships, fleets, or installations, consider logistics such as fleet composition, travel time, solar system features like asteroid belts and other stellar "terrain," repair and re-arming mid-fleet, and of course be good at (virtual) combat command and control.

Each fleet role -- commander, scout, tackler (focused on grabbing and tying down enemy ships), damage dealer, logistics ship, etc. -- has particular player skill, in-game character skill, and ship requirements. Different corporations develop different strategies and tactics depending on their goals. The deadly corporation Rooks and Kings, for example, developed the famous "pipe bomb" tactic which we see near the end of the video.

Besides combat, though, EVE has a more or less complete economy which is about as free market as it gets. The raw components for the ships we fight in are mined from asteroid belts, planets, and moons by players, then sold to other players who build the ships, then sold to other players who transport them to trade systems, then sold to yet other players who sell them to me to go blow up. Prices constantly shift based on supply and demand, and a lot of players pay for their ships by playing the market. Speaking of markets:
Inflation can be a headache for any central banker. But it takes a certain type of economist to know what to do when a belligerent spaceship fleet attacks an interstellar trading post, causing mineral prices to surge across the galaxy.

Eyjólfur Guðmundsson is just that economist. Working for the Icelandic company CCP Games, he oversees the virtual economy of the massively multiplayer video game Eve Online. Within this world, players build their own spaceships and traverse a galaxy of 7,500 star systems. They buy and sell raw materials, creating their own fluctuating markets. They speculate on commodities. They form trade coalitions and banks.

It’s a sprawling economy, with more than 400,000 players participating in its virtual market — more people, in fact, than live in Iceland. Inflation, deflation and even recessions can occur.

In Eve Online, Guðmundsson oversees an economy that can fluctuate wildly — he says it expanded 42 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, then contracted 15 percent by the summer. His team will periodically have to address imbalances in the money supply. For instance, they can curb inflation by introducing a new type of weapon, say, to absorb virtual currency — not unlike the way a central bank might sell bonds to shrink the money supply. (In theory, Eve Online’s currency has real-world value — the highest-level spaceships, the Titans, are worth the equivalent of $5,000 to $8,000.)


“We’ve even seen large alliances trying to manipulate aspects of the market to control the supply and affect prices,” Guðmundsson says. “It’s a lot like OPEC.”

In some ways, the economy of Eve Online is a libertarian experiment on a grand scale. There are few overarching rules. Labor markets quickly bounce back from recession because there’s no minimum wage. Players can voluntarily band together to create all sorts of innovative arrangements, including corporations, trade alliances and financial institutions.

Eve Online’s banks aren’t supported by a central bank or lender of last resort. Much like Ron Paul has proposed for the United States, there’s no fractional reserve banking, in which banks need to keep only a portion of their deposits on hand at any time and can lend the rest out freely.

“That increases the burden on banks to be diligent and efficient,” Guðmundsson says. On the downside, the financial system is sometimes ripe for abuse — one large bank, EBank, collapsed in 2009 when its founder seized its virtual funds and traded them for real-life cash on the black market. ...

The article ends with some interesting speculations about applications in real life.

So how does the new player learn? You can apply to EVE University or join one of the other newb-friendly corps. Watching training videos is a pretty good way to learn specific skills.

Need to know your corp's fleet doctrines for the ships you fly? Join Fleet-Up. Need to keep track of markets around the universe? Eve-Central. Want to quickly play around with different module fittings on a ship to maximize its performance for a particular mission and your character's particular skillset? EFT. Need voice communications for fleet action? Mumble. Want to keep track of who's killing who? Try your corp killboard. Scouting for a fleet and need quick maps of regions and systems, with recent data on kills, jumps, and players in system? Dotlan. Just spent two hours in Jita shopping for good deals on interceptors, then planning and executing a supply run only to get ambushed and incinerated by a pirate fleet three jumps out from home, losing the ships, modules and ammo you'd planned to fly over the weekend, and need to chill out? Try some EVE music videos:

What's the value of all this? Besides fun, I don't know. I do know that fleet planning makes one really think about logistics, that commanding a fleet of volunteers in virtual battle is like directing a mass cat attack, and that the whole thing reeks of free market economics. Kinda cool.

So the Greeks got their bailout again

But it looks like the terms of the agreement are even more strict than what they rejected in their popular referendum.

Well, it seems that being completely out of money will do wonderful things to focus the desire to make a deal.  In reality, the Greek government had no choice.  They could accept the deal and keep themselves afloat a while longer (until this money also inevitably runs out) and deal with the consequences of having to tell the Greek people "yeah, about that referendum..." later, or not take the bailout and simply collapse now.  It is still my considered opinion that by continuing to kick the can down the road, they're just making the (inevitable) collapse worse.  But those in power in Greece wish to remain in power for as long as they can.  But mark my words, they're finished one way or the other.  The people who elected and supported them will see this as a rank betrayal (and honestly, rightly so; you can't claim to run on rejecting austerity measures only to accept even harsher ones without consequence), and the ones who didn't support them in the first place are certainly not going to suddenly change their mind in favor of saying "I told you so."

So having turned to the far-left and having them fold, I now expect the Greeks to turn to the far-right, who will fare no better, but will at least give the people a scapegoat of Jews and foreigners to blame.  And that will pretty much end as it always does.  So, we still have that phase of this tragedy to look forward to.

Return From the Wild

That storm cloud on the left is hung up on Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States.  I had camped on Commissary Ridge the night before, which connects to its shoulders, and was in that storm all night.  There was wind like I've never heard, rain and thunder.  In the morning, just at dawn, packed up the kit and backpacked back to the road.  Just a few hundred vertical feet down, and I found this view from below the storm. 

How America Changed in the 20th Century

In a moderate-length article at Ancient Faith, an Eastern Orthodox website, Joel J. Miller argues that, because of changes in American society in the 1940s, same-sex marriage was inevitable.

Back in 2010, economist and conservative intellectual Thomas Sowell published the book Dismantling America. The Hoover Institution interviewed him about it, and he talked about changes in the US across the 20th century in explaining how our nation is being taken apart. Some highlights of the interview were his comments on patriotism, his childhood in the Harlem public schools, his thoughts on Barack Obama, his comments on same-sex marriage as it was working its way up the courts, and why African Americans shifted from the Republican to the Democratic Party. I became interested in Thomas Sowell in particular after finding out he was very influential on the young Clarence Thomas.

Both the article and interview gave me new things to think about as I wonder how we got where we are today. I think I'll give Sowell's book a read.