The Feast of St. George

A depiction of the Saint in Jerusalem.

St. George is a martyr, but more famously if less historically certainly a dragonslayer.
There are several stories about George fighting dragons, but in the Western version, a dragon or crocodile made its nest at a spring that provided water to Silene, believed to be modern-day Lcyrene in Libya.

The people were unable to collect water and so attempted to remove the dragon from its nest on several ocassions. It would temporarily leave its nest when they offered it a sheep each day, until the sheep disappeared and the people were distraught.

This was when they decided that a maiden would be just as effective as sending a sheep. The townspeople chose the victim by drawing straws. This continued until one day the princess' straw was drawn.

The monarch begged for her to be spared but the people would not have it. She was offered to the dragon, but before she could be devoured, George appeared. He faced the dragon, protected himself with the sign of the Cross, and slayed the dragon.

After saving the town, the citizens abandoned their paganism and were all converted to Christianity.

Range 15

Probably twenty-five years ago I discovered Joe Bob Briggs, who was at that time on the Movie Channel doing a thing he called "Drive-In Theater." He taught me to appreciate a class of Americana that is sometimes difficult to admire. I can't help but think that this movie, made by Ranger Up and Article 15 clothing, is really perfect for him.

If you want to see it, though, you're going to have to do a little work. Because it is unrated -- and apparently violates so many taboos that they are sure they couldn't get an R rating if they submitted it -- they are distributing it through Tugg. That requires you to find a theater near you where there is a showing scheduled and reserve tickets. The showing will only happen if they sell enough tickets to make it worthwhile, though, so you have to recruit others to come see it with you.

Given that this is a blood-soaked, gory Zombie movie starring foul-mouthed veterans, William Shatner, and Danny Trejo, that might be harder or easier depending on who your friends are.

Ravens of Long Tieng

One of the "Ravens" of the covert war in Laos has just died. Captain Alfred G. Platt, long retired from the Air Force, was awarded the Silver Star as well as other decorations for his service. He was later one of the American Legion Riders, China Post 1.

It's a good moment to remember what these guys did. Here's a documentary about the Ravens.

Prince dead at 57

I suspect most here might identify more with Merle Haggard than Prince, but many folks didn't really know the man very well.  Not that strange, because he was fairly reclusive and not given to self-aggrandizing.  So influential was he, that upon the announcement of his death, MTV did something that they have never done before.  They ceased all ongoing programming and ran wall to wall music videos (apparently, it only takes the death of a music icon who is not David Bowie to get them to play music videos again).

He certainly was an odd man, with bizarre taste in clothing.  But what you may not know is that he was a deeply religious man (Jehovah's Witness).  One who lived with crippling pain resulting from bad hips that he refused to get treated because it would require him to violate his beliefs (JW's don't allow transfusions, and there was no way to do a double hip replacement without them).  While some speak of suffering for their beliefs, he literally did.  And Prince Rogers Nelson (yes, Prince was in fact his given name) was also a rarity in both Minnesota and the music industry.  He was a Republican.  And a fairly conservative one.

There have been many tributes for him over the past 24 hours, but I particularly like this one, and I hope you will too.

Knowing and Horses

One of the pieces that stood out for me in the Vox piece on smugness was the following line:
Knowing that you're actually, like, 30 times more likely to shoot yourself than an intruder.
It occurs to me that there are two ways you can go wrong here. One way is that you could know something that isn't so. Hillary Clinton was just giving a speech on the 'epidemic' of gun violence in America, when in fact gun crime like all violent crime is near an all-time low. It's been cut roughly in half over the last two decades. Still, let's take this statistic as completely accurate for the sake of argument.

The other problem is that you can know this without the knowledge determining a course of action. The author suggests that the knowing realize that such a mathematical proof should determine them to avoid guns. After all, you're then trading a high-percentage threat for a low-percentage threat. That's smart gambling, right?

While I don't know whether or not this figure is really correct, however, I do know that accidental discharges are very dangerous. Crime rates out here in the country are even lower than the national average, although help would be a very long way away if I were to call for it. So, is there any other way to address the dangers of guns without purging guns from my life?

Sure there is. There are lots of ways to limit the dangers of firearms. Of course, the knowing don't know them because actually knowing about guns -- rather than knowing the sexy statistic -- is unfashionable. There are a number of ways to limit the dangers of firearms ownership. For example, you can keep guns and ammunition separate (easily done with, say, an AR-15 whose ammunition comes in detachable magazines). If the firearm is not loaded, it won't go off. Since loading it is the work of a second, you can keep a rifle by your bedside at night and a magazine of ammunition in the nightstand drawer without much sacrificing your ability to bring the rifle to bear if the low-percentage intruder actually does show up.

You can select a single-action revolver as a carry gun instead of a semi-automatic pistol. You can religiously practice the four rules of gun safety, which overlap in such a way that obeying even one of them should reliably prevent tragedy. You can do a lot of things to address the high-percentage danger without sacrificing an option for dealing with the low-percentage danger.

Of course, to do these things you'd have to know the four rules of gun safety, or the difference between single-action revolvers and double-action revolvers (or either and a semi-automatic).

In addition to that, I have another thought, which is that even a utilitarian calculus should take into account the pleasures as well as the pains.

Another thing I know is that riding a motorcycle is not just 30 but 85 times more likely to get you killed than driving a car. Does that mean that the smart play is to purge motorcycles from your life? What about horses? Horses are damn dangerous.

But would you miss out on them?

How much more, then, the joy of being a man of the old fashion? Of being strong, of upholding the weak, of being protector rather than protected? How could you walk away from that at any price?

She Has Worshipers?

It's a strange day when there are two insightful pieces criticizing the left from left-leaning journals. Camille Paglia slams Hillary Clinton supporters in Salon:
As a lifelong Democrat who will be enthusiastically voting for Bernie Sanders in next week’s Pennsylvania primary, I have trouble understanding the fuzzy rosy filter through which Hillary fans see their champion. So much must be overlooked or discounted—from Hillary’s compulsive money-lust and her brazen indifference to normal rules to her conspiratorial use of shadowy surrogates and her sociopathic shape-shifting in policy positions for momentary expedience.

Hillary’s breathtaking lack of concrete achievements or even minimal initiatives over her long public career doesn’t faze her admirers a whit. They have a religious conviction of her essential goodness and blame her blank track record on diabolical sexist obstructionists. When at last week’s debate Hillary crassly blamed President Obama for the disastrous Libyan incursion that she had pushed him into, her acolytes hardly noticed. They don’t give a damn about international affairs—all that matters is transgender bathrooms and instant access to abortion.
She's just getting warmed up, too.

Cop Light Bling

This is arguably the worst music video ever made.

There's a good point, though. Even where it isn't required by law, you should move over and not hit emergency services of any kind when they're operating by the side of the road. As the son of a volunteer fireman who often worked car wrecks, I am grateful that somehow nobody accidentally killed my father when I was growing up.

Tell Us How You Really Feel

I saw one of these signs not too far from the house. If somebody in this neck of the woods will spend $30 to express this sentiment, it's deeply felt.

My favorite political sign this year continues to be this one:

I'm a big fan of the Hillary for Prison signs, too.

Income Flat for Most Americans

Flat for decades, but declining since 2007. The headline is that this explains Trump and Sanders. It's a general problem for someone like Clinton, who is running as the establishment candidate. That's a hard sell right now, even if you didn't have her high personal negatives.

What's more difficult to explain is the delta between President Obama's personal approval ratings, and the right track / wrong track polling. If more than sixty percent of Americans regularly think the country is heading in the wrong direction -- currently over two-thirds -- how is the person normally credited with the greatest personal responsibility for the direction of the nation still about 50/50? George W. Bush's low was 25%, which closely tracked the 23% low for the "right track" figure toward the end of his presidency. You'd expect Barack Obama to be in the same territory. Why isn't he?

If I were to venture a guess, it would be that people aren't telling the truth about how they feel about his performance. Perhaps many people aren't even telling the truth to themselves.

A Very Good Piece from Vox

No irony here, and no sarcasm. This is a self-critical look that deserves respect for its clear-sightedness. If we had more of this reflectiveness, we would have a better political culture.

Skippy's List

I can't believe this has never been linked here. (Maybe I just couldn't find it.) So, without further ado, here is a link to and brief excerpt of the "List of 213 things Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the US Army."

Explanations of these events:
a) I did myself, and either got in trouble or commended. (I had a Major shake my hand for the piss bottle thing, for instance.)
b) I witnessed another soldier do it. (Like the Sergeant we had, that basically went insane, and crucified some dead mice.)
c) Was spontaneously informed I was not allowed to do. (Like start a porn studio.)
d) Was the result of a clarification of the above. (“What about especially patriotic porn?”)
e) I was just minding my own business, when something happened. (“Schwarz…what is *that*?” said the Sgt, as he pointed to the back of my car? “Um….a rubber sheep…I can explain why that’s there….”)

To explain how I’ve stayed out of jail/alive/not beaten up too badly….. I’m funny, so they let me live.

The 213 Things….

2. My proper military title is “Specialist Schwarz” not “Princess Anastasia”.

7. Not allowed to add “In accordance with the prophesy” to the end of answers I give to a question an officer asks me.
8. Not allowed to add pictures of officers I don’t like to War Criminal posters. [He was an illustrator in a Psyop unit ... ]

33. Not allowed to chew gum at formation, unless I brought enough for everybody.
34. (Next day) Not allowed to chew gum at formation even if I *did* bring enough for everybody.
35. Not allowed to sing “High Speed Dirt” by Megadeth during airborne operations. (“See the earth below/Soon to make a crater/Blue sky, black death, I’m off to meet my maker”)
36. Can’t have flashbacks to wars I was not in. (The Spanish-American War isn’t over).

83. Must not start any SITREP (Situation Report) with “I recently had an experience I just had to write you about….”

202. Despite the confusing similarity in the names, the “Safety Dance” and the “Safety Briefing” are never to be combined.
203. “To conquer the earth with an army of flying monkeys” is a bad long term goal to give the re-enlistment NCO.

205. Don’t write up false gigs on a HMMWV PMCS. (“Broken clutch pedal”, “Number three turbine has frequent flame-outs”, “flux capacitor emits loud whine when engaged”)

Texas to Talk Secession

It's an increasingly reasonable idea, which explains its increasing visibility. Just consider the possibility of a Clinton victory in November and its effect on the Supreme Court, which would mean the death of the Constitution as an instrument limiting Federal authority. Would you want out of a union governed by an unlimited Federal government?

Well, maybe not: resistance is still possible through impeachment, which can reach Supreme Court Justices as well as Presidents. Likewise, resistance is possible through state-driven Constitutional conventions.

All that said, escape would look like an increasingly attractive option for anyone who could manage it.

Another Lose/Lose Proposition on Clinton Emails

This should be fun.
In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Vice News reporter Jason Leopold formally protested the classified declaration the FBI filed offering U.S. District Court Judge Randy Moss additional details about the ongoing FBI investigation into how classified information wound up on Clinton's private server, which hosted the personal email account she used in lieu of a government one during her four years as secretary of state.

Leopold's attorneys argue that the Justice Department violated normal legal protocol by failing to seek advance permission from the court or notice to the other side before filing the unusual "ex parte" pleading.

"Because Defendant submitted the declaration ex parte for in camera review without prior permission from the Court, or opportunity for Plaintiff to be heard, there is no public record justifying the need for such secrecy of the portions that are not classified, or for the court to rule on the lawfulness of the Defendant’s nondisclosure," lawyers Jeffrey Light and Ryan James wrote.

The protest gained some traction late Wednesday afternoon when Moss ordered the Justice Department to file publicly a redacted copy of the secret filing or "show cause why" that isn't possible. He gave the government until April 26 to do that.
So, either the Justice Department has to prove that classified information was indeed present... or it has to provide an account of why it would be too damaging to show it in open court. That should make it really fun when it comes time to explain why they aren't prosecuting her.

Boom of the Month Club

A great idea for the man who has everything, but can always use more ammo for it.

Fauxcahontas on Mrs. Clinton

Oh, the humanity.

No, Of Course We Can't Compromise

But if we could, pretty much every Republican would be OK with this. Even as a Democrat of the Jacksonian faction, I have to say that I can see some virtues in this proposed design.

How Much Astroturf is Out There?

A woman named Candace Owens accuses the "Gamergate" fantastic duo of staging a "sexist, racist" attack on her. If she's telling the truth about her evidence, and I have no way of knowing one way or the other, she's got a strong case.
Men, Misogyny, and Gaming. Retrospectively, that was the one thing that was apparent in every single message I received, even down to the e-mail addresses used... My initial suspicion was that Zoe perhaps tipped the gaming community off and they were now coming down on us: hard. However I exited that suspicion when I received this anonymous e-mail that morning, alerting me of a planned attack to debunk our kickstarter efforts... It was another male. He was tipping me off, and simultaneously threatening me against continuing our campaign. He said he “wasn’t doing it to warn [me]”, and yet clearly, “he” was. But that wasn’t what stood out to me.... What stood out to me was the fact that this e-mail came in to my personal e-mail address.... which I had only given to Zoe when she reached out to me via twitter.
The argument here is that a few people -- perhaps as many as twenty -- are operating a vast network of fake online identities. It looks like the ringleaders portray themselves as radical feminists, but the fake identities they're leveraging are presented as men. Men who are racist, sexist, and hateful. Men who, in other words, exemplify the charges being raised against 'men' by these same women.

I see a lot of stories like this via InstaPundit, whom I assume is raising them for the same reason I'm raising this one -- not to assert that this kind of thing is the usual condition, but to ask how common it is. How many of these claims of oppression are created by the very people claiming to be oppressed to justify their narrative?

Some, obviously. Not all of them, equally obviously. The fact that we're asking the question raises the danger of the availability heuristic: are we overestimating the incidence because, now that we're looking for it, we're seeing it everywhere? The legitimate cases we're not looking for are still out there, but at the moment these cases we're looking for are prominent in our minds.

Candace Owens thinks she has a solution, at least a partial one.

The Founders and the Shadows

In popular history, clandestine operations, and their control by the executive, are a cancerous growth that began in the 20th century with the so-called “imperial presidency” and the rise of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. This is fiction. Unfortunately, this fairy tale account of American history is gospel in far too many quarters. It was accepted as fact by the Church Committee in the 1970s, resurrected again in the majority report of the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, and now finds renewed life on the libertarian right. As Jefferson noted, for the founders, the “laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger,” overrode traditional standards of conduct or any written law.

USMC: Actually, Women Won't Have To Do Pull-Ups

Back in the Grand Old Days of Commandant Amos -- you know, 2012 -- the Corps was going to do away with special tests for women. Women wouldn't have to do as many pull-ups as men to get as good a score (and promotions are based in part on PFT scores). But they would have to do at least three pull-ups to stay in the Marines.

Now, well, no.
The plan never made it off the ground, though. Data collected in 2013 found that 55 percent of female recruits couldn’t meet the minimum requirement. A study of 318 female Marines found that the women could complete 1.63 pullups on average. Roughly 20 percent of those Marines could only hit three pullups if they used their lower bodies in a[n illegal] "kipping" motion....

“I think this is a great way to implement the change as it gives an incentive to increase a score without the fear of failing the PFT," Col. Robin Gallant, II Marine Expeditionary Force’s comptroller, said of the proposal. "As women work on them to increase their score, they can be confident that they won't fail a PFT. I think this is a huge benefit and I'm glad it might become a reality."
It is a huge benefit to whom, exactly? To the Corps? Or to those women who can't meet the minimum standards that we were assured would never be lowered? I can see how it's a huge benefit to them to remove the danger of them failing just because they can't pass the test.

Doctor Jones, Call Your Office

A major step forward in Chinese history and philosophy, thanks to tomb robbers adventurous archaeology.

Waco, Plus Badges

A huge difference in this deadly clash between motorcycle clubs -- one of them, the Iron Order, is a police-oriented club. The clash was broken up without recourse to rifles, which could be explained by any number of factors.

Less easy to explain away: the DA is declining to file any charges against the Iron Order members who started the fight and fired the first shot.

UPDATE: Denver PD asked for first degree murder charges, DA refused.

Quit Describing Her Accurately!

On the heels of yesterday's journalist asking Bernie Sanders if he isn't making Donald Trump's argument by telling the truth about Hillary Clinton's campaign financing, the Wall Street Journal points out that the effect of Sanders' critique is to paint Clinton as a uniquely corrupt figure according to Democratic Party standards. They are the party of campaign finance reform. If Clinton and Trump win their respective nominations (which is still far from certain, especially since we have yet to hear from the FBI), they will be taking an electorate that sees corporate money as the root of all evil into an election with the worst possible standard-bearer. How do you ask the committed progressives and liberals, as opposed to the patronage racketeers, to vote for the very emblem of Being In The Pocket of Wall Street?

It's having an effect. Trump is further ahead among Republicans than Clinton is among Democrats -- she's under the 50 percent mark in a two-person race, and it's tightening.

UPDATE: Not that she's doing Herself any favors with her inaccurate descriptions, either.

UPDATE: The New York Post is claims she's lowering expectations.


From the Duffel Blog:
“When he said the name ‘Operation Hajji Stomp,’ you could have heard a pin drop in the briefing room,” said one officer present at the meeting. “The BC [battalion commander] lost his... mind, screaming about local sensibilities and a complete lack of understanding for basic human decency. It was pretty bad.”

Generational Appropriation!

Actually, when you put it that way, you realize that this is the only way we ever raise children who aren't complete barbarians. If kids didn't steal from their parents, we'd have to start civilization over from scratch in every generation. Maybe that 'cultural appropriation' thing is similarly valuable?

A tip from the comments: up the playback speed to 1.25 and hear the difference between rockabilly and psychobilly.

Waco Update

According to this source, 13 of 16 entrance wounds in the Twin Peaks "biker shootout" case were in the .22 caliber range. Well, .22 caliber -- or 5.56mm, the chambering of the rifles the police were using.

The interpretation is that the police shot almost everyone. That's a stronger claim than I've heard from the ballistics so far, but one that has been corroborated by witness accounts. Of course, the witnesses were all arrested, and face felony terms just for being there -- even the ones who didn't have a gun or shoot a round, given that the prosecution has decided to prosecute this as an organized criminal 'association.'

We Like Our Time Out Here

Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Act To Get Vote in the House

Not Senator Cruz's bill, but the House version of the legislation looks like it might get a vote according to Uncle J.

American relations with the Brotherhood date, by the way, to the Eisenhower administration. President Obama's apparent view is that the Bush administration screwed things up by turning against the Brotherhood. I wonder what effect the law would have if passed with enough votes to overturn the obviously-forthcoming veto?

Brazil: The Future of America?

As we watch the Brazilian impeachment proceedings -- if you missed it, the lower house voted for impeachment by a larger-than-expected margin -- it's interesting to note how similar the South American nation looks to the evolving United States model. The Washington Post has decided to name the sides "pro-government" and "pro-impeachment," although the impeachment is being voted by a part of the government. In a way, their naming convention makes sense. On the one side, there are those for whom government is something they want more of in their lives. They are, as here, mostly ethnic and racial minorities -- plus women, who are disproportionately likely to think of the government as an engine for voting themselves benefits that will ease their lives.

On the other side are people for whom the real issue is that the government is totally corrupt. For them, and they like here are mostly white, the real issue with the government is trying to get it to stop engaging in a benefits-and-patronage racket. They think that impeachment is important as part of a reform process, with the hope of crafting a new government that does less but more lawfully. Of course they are the ones, their opponents would point out, for whom the system tends to work.

I was left thinking of the interview Bernie Sanders recently gave in which the journalists asked him if he wasn't making Donald Trump's argument by pointing out that Hillary Clinton has accepted all this oil money. No, he said, he is complaining that the system is corrupt. If that makes Clinton corrupt, then almost every politician in America is corrupt.

Just as in Brazil. And just as in Brazil, for many -- Clinton's faithful legions of voters -- that fact is wholly beside the point. Corruption is just another way of transferring benefits and graft to supporters. Who cares if it's done through legal means or shady ones? What matters is that the benefits flow.

How depressing.

Cultural Appropriation!

Kenya sings country. They're no Merle Haggard, but it's not the worst set of covers I've ever heard.

The Good Lord Giveth and Uncle Sam Taketh Away

The 9th

So, I can't remember quite how I came to this, except that I wanted to hear the Ode to Joy. This is the first time I've seen it represented in English among the singing. I'm sure it's been done before, but I didn't ever think to look up what the words meant.

They are right to make much of the fact that Beethoven shared this without ever having heard it. I notice how the chorus sits there, silent, for an hour. The orchestra is spent, worked through all their paces. It is a majestic symphony well before any of them stand up to sing. And then a man stands up and says above the orchestra: 'No, not these sounds -- something better, and more joyous.'

"A British Politician Said..."

The headline would have been much more informative if it had begun, "Nigel Farage said.."

Didn't a couple of those other Presidents actually fight wars against the British, though?

BreachBangClear: Eating Tacos is Racist

On the scourge of cultural appropriation, with special guests the Three Amigos.

So, I kinda get where the people complaining about this are coming from. I think the real issue isn't the adoption of cultural mores or values, though, but only "appropriation" in the sense of making a mockery of them. Southern cuisine in my lifetime has been much improved by sharing with Mexican cuisine, which I don't view as 'appropriation' but as a very valid and appropriate sort of learning-from-each-other. Texas' excellence is in part a function of the way in which Anglo and Mexican cultures have rubbed up against each other, and rubbed off on each other, for a long time.

On the other hand, I'm not actually all that offended by the genuine 'appropriation.' I find it a little pathetic, at most. Sometimes, the attempts can really be deeply amusing.

These Swedes don't really understand any of the symbols they're leveraging, but you can tell that they're really excited about them. If you are Native American, you might be offended by the appropriation of the hoop dance. But maybe not: maybe you, like me, would find it too laughable to be genuinely offensive.

To be fair, the defenders of the idea that this sort of thing is deeply wrong would say that I am freer to find it funny because there's no power relationship between me and Sweden. Native Americans, or Mexicans, have more to fear from having their symbols appropriated by powerful white cultures. That's the argument, although it's a little attenuated: the Swedes aren't any more dangerous to the Navajo than they are to me, not really. You have to elide them into a group called "whites" for the argument to make any sort of sense. But if we're all one culture, we 'whites,' how could it be that they so clearly don't understand the white American cultural markers they're trying to leverage either? That argument doesn't really make sense.

UPDATE: Related: Apparently the standard for what constitutes a "physical attack" has changed since I was younger.

"Is ‘Higher Education for All’ Based on a Lie?"

Well, yes.
Nietzsche worried that universities would become glorified trade schools focused on skills training that served only the state. He also claimed that Germany’s higher-education system was also coddling young people in to a false belief about their uniqueness. German Gymnasien teachers encouraged their students to express themselves in their essays and university professors shied away from embracing models of excellence.

Education... is about discipline, about subordination to models of excellence that exceed the self. In his bombastic and over-the-top rhetoric, the philosopher describes a pedagogical system that was increasingly anxious about acknowledging this and instead peddled the lie that all students were equally capable.
In case you thought Nietzsche was wrong about everything.

What is the Purpose of America?

There was a reason this country came to be, with the particular political order it had. States were an important part of that vision. The author seems to object to their continued importance because they complicate central planning of the economy. Is having a centrally planned economy an important part of the American vision? It seems to me that the resistance to a centrally planned economy in America was an important protector of the liberty, the protection of which I take to be the real purpose of the government. That the states frustrate central planning is evidence of their continued importance, it seems to me.