In the spirit of the season


Continuing our African fusion theme, here's a song from my favorite Paul Simon album.


My neighbor just posted this on Facebook. I love watching these things just to see the old dancers, and it's fun to have it set to a modern funky song. But even if you don't enjoy that, the final few seconds are not to be missed. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to survive a dance move like that.


Also, I do love me some Fred Astaire, from head to toe.

More Friday Night Music

Continuing with the African theme, I wore out the cassette tape of this album in college. One hoped to see more of the fusion going on here.

Some Very Different Music For a Friday Night

Not sure if this is more diverse or more vibrant, but it's kind of cool.

Zero Hedge: Most of the Country Peaked in the Late 1990s

...and the labor force participation rate hasn't been this low since Carter.

Why Is It So Hard To Speak The Truth?

Someone must have seen that Iraqi comedian making fun of us for not being able to call ISIS "Islamic," and decided they needed to push back really hard.

Really hard.

So now George W. Bush is the spokesman for the Democratic Party? On the right attitude towards the war?

People can't seem to distinguish between the following claims:

1) "ISIS is essentially Islamic."

2) "Islam is essentially like ISIS."

Claim 1 is demonstrably, empirically true. ISIS -- like a number of other Islamic organizations to include Hizb-ut Tahrir and of course al Qaeda -- is founded for no other reason than to realize a particular vision of Islamic law on earth. They have put a tremendous amount of work into developing their visions. Many of their leaders are lifelong religious students. ISIS leader Baghdadi was a cleric before he became a revolutionary. These organizations have published decades' worth of material explaining exactly how their vision aligns with sha'riah law and the life of the Prophet and his companions.

Furthermore -- whether you like it or not -- their interpretations of sha'riah law are not absurd. They are often the most obvious readings of those laws.

Claim 2 is not obviously true.

For one thing, there are a lot of different schools of sha'riah law. Most of the Islamic world doesn't live under any interpretation similar to this, however obvious these interpretations may be, and haven't historically. That makes perfect sense. Catholics have the Bible, and we also have the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas -- a huge series of densely-argued Aristotelian philosophy about how to interpret the Bible, as well as a long history of earlier Catholic philosophers. The results they come up with are not always the most obvious readings of the Bible. Some Protestant schools prefer more obvious and literal readings. That doesn't make Protestants un-Christian, nor Catholics either.

Jews, by the same token, have on the one hand the Torah; and on the other, a vast collection of Rabbinical scholarship that tries to interpret and understand. Islam, for its own sake, has a similar tradition in its history. One of Thomas Aquinas' chief sources was Averroes, also known as Ibn Rushd, who was an Islamic law judge as well as a philosopher and whose reading of Islamic law was fairly humane (especially in his treatment of women).

So, are we at war with Islam? No. Are we at war with a radical Islamic group? Yes. Are they Muslims? Yes. Are all Muslims them? No. Is ISIS Islamic? Yes, essentially so. Is Islam like ISIS? Not all of it, not by far. Does Islam have anything to do with ISIS? Yes, obviously.

Speak the truth.

Safety in Numbers

“This has been an absurdity from the beginning,” Keane said in response to questions from Royce. “The president personally made a statement that has driven air power from the inception.”

“When we agreed we were going to do airpower and the military said, this is how it would work, he [Obama] said, ‘No, I do not want any civilian casualties,’” Keane explained. “And the response was, ‘But there’s always some civilian casualties. We have the best capability in the world to protect from civilians casualties.’”

However, Obama’s response was, “No, you don’t understand. I want no civilian casualties. Zero,’” Keane continued. “So that has driven our so-called rules of engagement to a degree we have never had in any previous air campaign from desert storm to the present.”

This is likely the reason that U.S. pilots are being told to back down when Islamic State targets are in site, Keane said, citing statistics published earlier this year by U.S. Central Command showing that pilots return from sorties in Iraq with about 75 percent of their ordnance unexpended.
President Obama’s marquee deportation amnesty has been stalled by the courts, but the rest of his executive actions on immigration, announced exactly a year ago, are moving forward — including his move protecting more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants from any danger of deportation....

“There are 7 or 8 or 9 million people who are now safe under the current policy. That is a victory to celebrate while we wait for the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who was among the chief cheerleaders pushing Mr. Obama to go around Congress and take unilateral steps last year.

Vibrant diverse youths

The AP staff must have a macro that generates these phrases:
Saint-Denis is one of France's most historic places. French kings were crowned and buried through the centuries in its famed basilica, a majestic Gothic church that towers over the area. Today the district is home to a vibrant and very ethnically diverse population and sees sporadic tension between police and violent youths.

The Flowers of Bermuda

The chorus carries a haunting juxtaposition:

He was the Captain of the Nightingale
Twenty-one days from Clyde in coal
He could smell the flowers of Bermuda in the gale
When he died on the North Rock Shoal

Jacksonians Forever

W. R. Mead is not pleased with the defiance of the old tradition.
To see the full cynicism of the Obama approach to the refugee issue, one has only to ask President Obama’s least favorite question: Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?

Obama’s own policy decisions—allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones—were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American President has made in a long time.

Moreover, many of those “benighted” people were willing to sign up for the U.S. military and go to fight ISIS in Syria to protect the refugees....

The “why are Jacksonians such xenophobes?” conversation, given the way so much of the country’s media works, is the conversation we are having. It is not the conversation the country, or even the President, needs.... Things can and will get worse as long as American policy continues to flounder; instead of arguing about how to shelter a few thousand refugees we need to look hard at how we are failing to address the disaster that has created millions, and that continues to grow.
That's right, first to last.

Challenge Accepted

Instapundit suggests putting this map of states that refused refugees and plugging it into the Electoral College.

Here's what I got, giving the D's all the states that haven't taken the step of formally refusing.

Click the map to create your own at

(Updated with new information this afternoon.)

What is Education For?

Maggie's Farm provides a link to two different conceptions. The latter is from a venture capitalist who often found that education was not a good predictor for who would be good at innovation:
I gravitated toward those with exceptional academic backgrounds, which seemed like the right priority. They had stellar resumes, early career success (often in consulting, investment banking, or corporate America), and were driven to succeed. Yet such patently qualified people often proved hopeless in the world of innovation, and I couldn’t quite figure out why....

When my son was in third grade, his science class was studying simple machines. With twenty bucks and a quick trip to Home Depot, we got everything needed to set up shop in the basement, and started playing around with boards, screws, and pulleys. One evening, we set out to design something that would let him lift a cinder block with his little finger. We came up with an approach that, I remarked in passing, he could use to lift his 250 lb. basketball coach. We laughed.

The next week, he came home from school discouraged: “I guess I’m not good at science.” He showed me his simple-machine test, which had blobs of red ink over the question “What simple machine would you use to lift a grown man?” His response was “a six-pulley system,” and included a sketch with pulleys, rope, and stick figures of a man and a child. While the design looked sound, there was a big red X across his answer with the terse note: “ -17. LEVER ! ! ”

After putting my Tiger Dad response behind me, I approached the teacher with a constructive suggestion: “Instead of asking which simple machine to use, why not ask students to come up with as many designs as possible?” The answer floored me. “Throughout school, these kids will need to take standardized tests. We need to prepare them properly. Open-ended questions can confuse them.”
So, there's your answer: education is to prepare you to excel at standardized tests. Unfortunately, or fortunately, life stops throwing standardized tests at you the minute you leave the schoolhouse.

If you want to learn to innovate, two excellent fields are history and philosophy, especially the history of philosophy. That's probably counter-intuitive: innovation is about the future, not what people did or thought in the past. However, while studying Medieval waterworks won't help you to innovate in the field of plumbing, it might be that you'll find there a concept they brought to bear that will prove to have an analogous application in the field in which you are innovating.

Likewise in the history of ideas generally, problems harmonize even when they are not strictly the same problem. As we were just discussing in the comments to this post about physics, one of the exciting new theories is really just an application of an ancient Greek concept -- atomism -- that was applied first to classical physics, and then to early Medieval theories about time.
They cite Aristotle as the origin point for his opponent's view, but Hogan’s instinct here is actually quite as old. He's arguing the atomist position, which comes up when you try to get a handle on the problems of how motion is possible in a continuum. This is Zeno stuff: if space is really infinitely divisible, then how can you traverse any distance given that you must first traverse an infinite series of divisions of that distance? It is impossible to get through an infinite sequence, so...

The atomist's position falls out of that naturally enough: well, what if there's not a continuum, but a structure made up of smallest-possible units? Then we just do them one at a time, and it's not an infinite number.

Aristotle's answer to Zeno wasn't that different, actually: he ends up arguing that there are no actual infinities, just potential ones. So, yes, theoretically (or even just conceptually) one could make all those divisions -- but they aren't actually made, so you don't have to traverse an infinite series.

The same thing came up years later when the Neoplatonists were trying to get a handle on the nature of time. It seems that time is also infinitely divisible, and it's most obvious unit -- now -- seems to be infinitely small. So one of the Neoplatonists -- Proclus, I think -- came up with the idea of 'time atoms' just as the earlier ancient Greek physicists had come up with the idea of atoms for space. It's a natural enough thing to think of, but that doesn't mean it's true.
This new atomism is really new, but it harmonizes with concepts that were deployed by both the Medievals and Ancients. It's an innovation, but a natural way to find it would be to read some very old thought. The problems aren't quite the same, but they're similar enough that the possible solutions align.

Is education for that? So you can innovate better?

Well, no. Education finally isn't for anything. It's not instrumental: it's a realization of your basic nature as a human being. All men, Aristotle says at the opening of the Metaphysics, desire to know. We don't educate ourselves to pursue some goal. Education is the goal. We want to understand. We want it by nature.

I may pursue instrumental goals on the way toward that ultimate goal, but to learn and to understand is itself the goal. That's what education is, not what it's for. There are a few things in life that are the true ends: love, friendship, honor, and wisdom. Everything else is for them.

Twenty-Five Russian Heavy Bombers attack Syria

There were rumors since the downing of the Russian jetliner that Putin was in talks with the West about using nuclear weapons against ISIS, but wanted to make sure that his deployment of nuclear assets wouldn't cause an accidental world war. It looks as if the truth behind those rumors was that Russia was planning to deploy not nukes themselves, but nuclear-capable heavy bombers in large numbers.
Launching 25 bombers on one mission is an impressive undertaking.... America’s bombers often sortie alone or in pairs, only rarely coming together in large numbers. Seven B-52s flew together to launch cruise missiles at Iraq in the early hours of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and a group of eight of the giant warplanes repeated the feat on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003.
The comparison is a little off, since there were 504 sorties during the opening phase of OIF 1. Even if only eight flew together at one time, we fielded dozens of heavy bombers in that campaign in a sustained manner.

Nevertheless, it clearly shows that Russia wants to make a point -- and not just with ISIS, which couldn't take down far less capable aircraft than they deployed. They're wanting to make a point about the improvement of Russian military capabilities, which they have also been doing in Syria, where their naval gunnery has been far better than we knew they could manage. Putin's investments have been paying off, and so the real message is for us: if he's capable of this, what other cards does he have that he isn't showing?

The lesson we're meant to draw is that we're better off working with him than against him. Accepting clear Russian (and Iranian and Chinese) zones of hegemony is the deal he wants in return for this cooperation against terrorists like ISIS: give up on the idea of humanity living according to what President Obama calls "our universal values," and accept that large sections of humanity are going to live under the domination of very different systems.

It's a deal I suspect the world will prove only too eager to accept. We'll help put the Iron Curtain back up, as long as they promise to keep a heavy hand on those living on their side of it.

It's Not An Argument

An Iraqi humorist describes Western reaction to the Paris attacks.
It’s like a bad Monty Python sketch:

“We did this because our holy texts exhort us to to do it.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Wait, what? Yes we did…”
“No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons.”
“WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers.”
“No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so.”
“Huh!? Who are you to tell us we’re not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being.”
“Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, and that’s why you did this. We’re sorry.”
“What? Why are you apologizing? We just slaughtered you mercilessly in the streets. We targeted unwitting civilians – disenfranchisement doesn’t even enter into it!”
“Listen, it’s our fault. We don’t blame you for feeling unwelcome and lashing out.”
“Seriously, stop taking credit for this! We worked really hard to pull this off, and we’re not going to let you take it away from us.”
“No, we nourished your extremism. We accept full blame.”
“OMG, how many people do we have to kill around here to finally get our message across?”

Wakey Wakey, Lash Up and Stow!

Wikipedia informs:

The first lines of the British Cavalry "Reveille" were for many years rendered as:
Soldiers arise!
Scrub the bloody muck out of your eyes...
The infantry and general "Reveille" ran:
Get out of bed,
Get out of bed,
You lazy bastards! (repeat)
I feel sorry for you, I do!
In the Royal Navy, "Reveille" was usually verbalised as:
Wakey Wakey, Lash up and Stow!
To the U.S. tune:
I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up this morning;
I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up at all!
The corporal's worse than the privates,
The sergeant's worse than the corporals,
Lieutenant's worse than the sergeants,
And the captain's worst of all!
< repeat top six lines >

The Celtic Underbelly of the English Tongue

A missing piece from your philology, perhaps. Everybody knows about the Normans and their importation of a kind of French to impose itself upon the Old English. But how much do you appreciate about the Celts?
[T]ry naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? ...

[T]o the untrained eye, Beowulf might as well be in Turkish.

The first thing that got us from there to here was the fact that, when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (and also Frisians) brought their language to England, the island was already inhabited by people who spoke very different tongues. Their languages were Celtic ones, today represented by Welsh, Irish and Breton across the Channel in France. The Celts were subjugated but survived, and since there were only about 250,000 Germanic invaders – roughly the population of a modest burg such as Jersey City – very quickly most of the people speaking Old English were Celts.

Crucially, their languages were quite unlike English. For one thing, the verb came first (came first the verb). But also, they had an odd construction with the verb do: they used it to form a question, to make a sentence negative, and even just as a kind of seasoning before any verb. Do you walk? I do not walk. I do walk. That looks familiar now because the Celts started doing it in their rendition of English. But before that, such sentences would have seemed bizarre to an English speaker – as they would today in just about any language other than our own and the surviving Celtic ones. Notice how even to dwell upon this queer usage of do is to realise something odd in oneself, like being made aware that there is always a tongue in your mouth.
Not the only really cool insight that was new to me, who has occasionally read into these matters for decades now.

Tuesday Night AMV

Well, seems everybody is...

Same Mouths, Different Day

The same people who are today saying, "The Syrian refugee crisis is just like the Jews in WWII, only racists could not let them in"* are the people who spend most days saying, "The state established by the Jewish refugees from WWII is a racist apartheid hell run by religious fanatics."

And the same people, who are today saying that only racism or Islamophobia could account for not wanting to admit vast numbers of Syrians to America are the ones who -- for years now -- have been loudly celebrating how impending demographic changes from mass immigration are going to destroy American conservatives and win the culture wars for liberals forever.

Also, that it's impossible to undo mass immigration, and we need to hurry up and give them citizenship. So they can destroy your values. Racists.

The effect of all this has been that we now have a leading American candidate for President openly talking about "deportation squads" going house to house to search for illegal immigrants. How sure are you that this fire needs a little more gasoline?

Let's help the Syrian refugees. Let's give them food, clothes, supplies, and a military mission that will ensure they have a home to return to. Let's help them rebuild that home once they're free to return to it. I'll be happy to go myself and be a direct part of the effort.

It's disingenuous, though, to plan on the one hand to use immigration to overrun your domestic political opponents -- and then claim that the only reason to oppose yet more immigration is some kind of racism. You're the ones who made this an all-important political issue that touches every aspect of American culture and values. If you insist on throwing more gasoline onto the fire you yourselves built, it's likely as not that you're going get burned worse than anyone. Imagine how much you'll enjoy an America with deportation squads led by President Donald Trump.

Then, when you're done reflecting on that image, stop throwing gas cans around. Let's address this problem in a way that doesn't further damage the peace of the American republic.

Unfortunately True

This story matches my own experience with the Carson campaign.

How Curious

Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State from 2009 until 2013. How strange that her private foundation suddenly had to amend its tax returns... to account for large donations by foreign nationals... during exactly that time frame.
The foundation refiled its Form 990 tax returns for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, while the Clinton Health Access Initiative refiled its returns for 2012 and 2013 after Reuters discovered errors in the forms earlier this year.
"Errors," yes.

Her critics, especially political rivals in the Republican Party, have said the charities' reliance on millions of dollars from foreign governments creates conflicts of interests for a would-be U.S. president. They have also criticized the charities' admitted failure to comply with an ethics agreement Clinton signed with Barack Obama's incoming presidential administration in 2008 in order for her to become secretary of state.
That's funny. It's like her signature on legally binding documents -- such as a nondisclosure agreement governing access to classified information -- just doesn't mean anything.

Well, I'm sure she can be trusted to be President.

La Marseillaise

Grim's post the other night got me to doing a little research. I think the translated lyrics of La Marseillaise would go well here. Some of them seem quite appropriate.

La Marseillaise

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised,
Bloody banner is raised,
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your women!
To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
Let an impure blood
Water our furrows! (Repeat)

Non-Constitutional Crisis

As far as I know, the President has the Constitutional authority to admit anyone to the United States he wants to admit. Nevertheless, 25 Republican governors plus one Democrat means that more than half of the top elected officials of the states have said that they want nothing to do with this program.

Now, even if the governors lack final authority to bar Syrian refugees from their states -- as they well may -- they can suspend cooperation with the Federal government in the resettlement efforts. Of course, the Federal government has lots of money (as much as cares to spend, in the opinion of the current administration).

It's not a constitutional crisis, but when the Federal government sets out to override the will of a majority of the states, it's a crisis of some sort. Given that our enemy has specifically and repeatedly announced its intention to use this refugee flood as a vector for infiltration and recruitment, it's not exactly insane to think that this is a questionable idea. Perhaps permanent resettlement in the United States is not the right option. Perhaps victory in Syria, so they can return home, is the better way.


The President's campaign to bankroll college protests. Literally, his former campaign, "Obama for America." That's what they do now.
The senseless protests we’re seeing break out on the campuses of the University of Missouri, Yale and other colleges, as well as on bridges and highway overpasses and outside police stations, are precisely the kind of thing Obama was trained to organize while attending leftist agitation schools founded by Chicago communist Saul Alinsky.... Now Obama is returning the favor of his Alinsky masters, training and cloning an army of social justice bullies to carry on his revolution to “fundamentally transform America.” He’s doing it mainly through a little-known but well-funded group called Organizing for Action, or OFA, which will outlast his administration.

OFA, formerly Obama for America, has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who, in turn, are training more than 2 million youths in Alinsky street tactics. The leftist group, which recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular “organizing summits” on college campuses.

Just What You Want In A Commander-in-Chief

A complete lack of confidence from the people who would be serving under her:
A new RallyPoint/Rasmussen Reports national survey of active and retired military personnel finds that only 15% have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with just three percent (3%) who view the former secretary of State Very Favorably. Clinton is seen unfavorably by 81%, including 69% who share a Very Unfavorable impression of her.
Emphasis added.

One of the things pollsters sometimes do is subtract the "very" categories to determine something about the strength of the mood for or against someone or something is in their sample. So if a President has a 55% approval rating, but 45% of that is less than "very strong" support and 30% of his opposition is "very strong," you end up saying that there's a 20% intensity of opinion against him even though he is above water overall.

That gives us an intensity index in this case of two-thirds strongly against.

So Who Do You Think We Are? Morons?

Mr. Obama grew especially animated in rebuffing suggestions by some Republican presidential candidates, governors and lawmakers that the United States should block entry of Syrian refugees to prevent terrorists from slipping into the country.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Without naming him, Mr. Obama singled out a comment by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, one of the Republicans seeking to succeed him, for suggesting the United States focus special attention on Christian refugees. “That’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
That's funny, because as I understood it your State Department specifically rejected visas for Christian refugees. That's been true both in specific cases and as a general policy.

At a time when they are facing specific threats just for being Christians -- and at such a scale that Catholic charities warn that Christianity itself will be wiped out of the Middle East within a decade -- one might think that a religious test would at least not be applied against them. Maybe it even makes some sense to favor Christians, given that they are the ones under threat of extinction, and given that they would fit in pretty well in an America that remains ~75% Christian (and which is culturally informed by Christian values even among those who are not themselves Christians). It would make sense for them, and it would make sense for us.

Over at Hot Air, they're scratching their heads about the politics of this move.
Skip to 2:15 to watch Rhodes, responding to the news that one of the Paris bombers washed up onshore in Greece just six weeks ago, claim that it’s full speed ahead on the U.S. accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees of its own. The Democratic nominee-in-waiting said on Saturday night that she wants 65,000(!) refugees here, albeit “only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine.” That’s a mighty bold move by Democrats given that a majority of Americans already opposed admitting refugees back in September, with that number sure to rise now in the wake of the attack. And it goes without saying that if someone makes it over here via Obama’s refugee policy and promptly blows themselves up in Times Square, it’ll be night-night for Democrats in next year’s election. That’s a gigantic risk for O and Hillary to take. So why are they doing it?
It's not the President's only risky move on this score lately. What's less clear is why Clinton is doubling down on it. Given the polling you'd expect her to make a much vaguer statement of support for the President for the duration of the primary, and then come out hard against him on this in the general. Instead, she really has to hope that there are no Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States this coming year -- especially any that can be tracked to refugees, but really any serious such attacks at all.

A Devil's Dictionary for Wall Street

They're in the news lately due to Mrs. Clinton's love affair with them, which is probably why this came across my desk this morning. It's pretty funny, where "funny" is an adjective that means "accurate."
Thrift (n.)
The obsolete practice of spending less money than you earn; once believed to be a virtue, now regarded as a disturbing form of deviant behavior.

Central bank (n.)
A group of economists who believe that their current forecasts will turn out to be accurate even though their past forecasts have been unreliable, that their present policies will succeed even though their past policies have failed, that they can prevent inflation from occurring next time even though they didn't prevent it last time, that they can foster lower unemployment in the future even though their practices worsened it in the past, and so forth.

You should be able to answer this riddle: What's the difference between a central banker and a weather vane? They both turn in the wind, but only the central banker thinks he or she determines which way the wind blows.

Tolkien's Beowulf: Not A Good Translation?

A scholar named Andy Orchard says that Tolkien's Beowulf was probably never meant to be published:
Orchard is the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford, the same position held by Tolkien from from 1925 to 1945....

Orchard calls the published version of Beowulf by Tolkien “a horrible, horrible, horrible translation” one that the English scholar never imagined would be published. The translation was made by Tolkien in the 1920s and intended it to be “crib notes” that was to be used by students he was teaching at Oxford.... Still, this edition of Beowulf, which was posthumously published over forty years after Tolkien’s death, is very valuable to scholars according to Orchard. He calls the end notes offered with the text “brilliant” and something that can be very useful to those who are studying the poem.
Orchard's interested, of course, in that he has his own translation he'd like you to buy. There's an excerpt at the link.

In Which I Almost Agree With Frank Bruni

Even a near agreement is closer than I can recall us having been before.

Still, in the wake of the Paris attacks, I have seen almost instantly:

* Hillary Clinton leading American gun-control advocates electing to mourn this as an incident of "gun violence," implying that we should defer to them in stripping us of our rights even though Paris has exactly the gun laws they would like us to have.

* Gun-rights advocates suggesting that France needs to adopt the 2nd Amendment -- Bruni cites Coulter among others.

* Bernie Sanders suggesting it just shows that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq, like that despicable woman Clinton agreed to do in accord with George W. Bush.

* Libertarian isolationists suggesting that this proves that Western arrogance in the Middle East bears evil fruit that we more or less deserve.

* Climate change warriors suggesting this was all about climate change (Bruni deserves credit for seeing this one on his own side).

One person who didn't do this was retired Democrat Jim Webb.
Those in France and elsewhere should be able to feel safe and free from the forces of terrorism. This has been our policy for more than thirty years and it will continue to be. But this is not a time for emotional outbursts or empty threats. In key moments such as now it is vitally important for us to assemble a complete picture of what happened and why before recommending what specific actions need to follow. I would urge the President and other national leaders to work carefully with our national security leaders and to apply this approach in the coming days.
That's pretty good advice.

Bait & Switch

I wonder if she even noticed herself the flaw in her logic.
The term “political correctness” may be new but its foundations are not. For centuries, people of color have been expected to not offend white people—and were jailed, whipped, or murdered if they did. From the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century, African Americans were lynched by white mobs for all sorts of “reasons”...

“Political correctness” only acquired a name when, relatively recently in American history, the idea of treating others respectfully was finally extended to include how white people treat black people, how men treat women, and so on. Prior to that, the idea that some people were owed deferentially considerate treatment—even in its most extreme, vicious incarnations—didn’t need a special term. It was just the way things were.
The obvious conclusion is that "political correctness" is the name applied to the idea that "some people [are] owed deferentially considerate treatment[.]"

And, indeed, that's just what it does mean. It means that using language or displaying behavior objected to by the class owed 'deferentially considerate treatment' deserves severe punishment. Fair enough, right? We should object to political correctness as a less-severe incarnation of the same bad idea that undergirded lynchings. I wouldn't have put it that way, but I can see the point: just as not adhering to extreme deference in avoiding offending white women was once grounds for excessively severe punishment, so today...

Of course, she concludes the exact opposite of what logically follows from her setup.
Political correctness is a good thing—the idea that we should treat our fellow human beings with equal respect, despite their race or gender or sexual orientation, and the idea that we might all learn and get better at doing so because of feedback and changing norms.
No, the frame you set up was one in which "political correctness" is the heir to not treating people 'with equal respect,' but asserting that some deserve especial deference -- and that severe punishment should fall on members of the disfavored class(es) who violate that deference.

Political correctness is thus bad, not good, for the same reason (but to a vastly lesser degree) that lynching was bad. It is a system of punishing members of disfavored classes for failing to adhere to standards of excessive deference in avoiding giving offense to members of favored classes. The good thing would be not doing that.

Secure Communications

I suspect Eric Blair is right that important communications are no longer conducted electronically, but Belgium thinks that it has identified at least one such route still in operation: PlayStation 4.