Greetings, Fellow Irredeemables

Ironically, in a year in which revolt against the establishment has been the theme for voter enthusiasm, Hillary Clinton has managed to assign her worst enemies a pair of names that would both befit a punk rock band.

In fact, I had to check to be sure that neither "The Deplorables" nor "The Irredeemables" was taken.

Bagpipe Swing

Here's something you don't see every day:

Dang -- We Just Missed the World Nomad Games

According to a Guardian writer:

The Rio Olympics might have had Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and the Copacabana beach, but for fans of stick wrestling and horseback battles over a dead goat the shores of Lake Issyk Kul is the place to be this week, as Kyrgyzstan hosts the second World Nomad Games from 3 to 8 September.

The games, designed to celebrate the nomadic heritage of the Central Asian nations, kicked off with a lavish opening ceremony on Saturday night

Forty countries are participating, some of which have long nomadic histories. Others are mainly there for the fun of the games. Sports include eagle hunting, bone throwing and mas-wrestling, a mesmerising game involving two competitors attempting to wrest control of a small stick.


Creed Garnick of Wyoming, the US captain, was the only one of the eight-man team to have even played [kok-boru] before, having spent two years living in Central Asia.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge but we’re going to enjoy it,” he said the evening before the game, as his team-mates looked on with expressions of mild alarm.

Jill Stein to Address Her Arrest Warrant

I've met Dr. Stein several times now, and I don't find this at all surprising. It's important to realize that the American hard Left has created a whole array of "crimes" for which one can be arrested symbolically, in a way that is viewed not as criminal in their context but as proof of personal commitment and virtue. One of the protest groups I met up in Philly had coordinated the process with the police, even, with both the police and the protest leadership having designated, armband-wearing 'liaison officers' to smooth the process of getting people arrested without actually disrupting the DNC in any important way. In return for playing along with your own arrest, you could be pretty sure of facing only administrative charges and a fine that would probably be dropped due to "incomplete" paperwork.

It's a sham, in other words.

Or at least it usually is, in Democrat-controlled cities. It sounds like the sheriff in North Dakota may not be aware that this is just a game people play to signal virtue. The Green Party says that the North Dakota police plan to file charges against her "for participating in civil disobedience against the Dakota Access Pipeline Tuesday morning." What she is actually charged with is "misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief." That could land her in jail for more than a couple of hours in the afternoon: up to 30 days for a Class B misdemeanor, or up to a year if she was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor.

From a little more research, it looks as if the claims that this pipeline will endanger the water supply are not persuading many people to worry too much about it. However, the Feds are concerned about claims that the pipeline company is razing sacred burial sites and other cultural landmarks. It sounds as if at least some of these sacred sites have been rather hastily identified, to be sure, but on the other hand I'm also persuaded by the counterargument I heard this morning: how ready would we be to see a pipeline cut through Arlington? Arlington isn't even a fully sacred site, given its dedication to a secular state not devoted to any particular faith. It's only sacred in a sense, insofar as 'sacred' and 'sacrifice' are so closely linked. Arlington is sacred in the sense that it is where we honor those who have given their lives for our common good, as expressed in the defense of our nation.

UPDATE: "A judge on Friday denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's attempt to halt the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline near its North Dakota reservation, but three federal agencies asked the pipeline company to 'voluntarily pause' work on a segment that tribal officials say holds sacred sites and artifacts."

In-Born Genius

It turns out that practice isn't what makes perfect, at least for those who are most likely to have significant accomplishments. But it isn't being born to the right parents, either -- at least, not 'right' in the sense of 'rich.'
Many of the innovators who are advancing science, technology and culture are those whose unique cognitive abilities were identified and supported in their early years through enrichment programmes such as Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth — which Stanley began in the 1980s as an adjunct to SMPY. At the start, both the study and the centre were open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams....

“Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,” says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program in Durham, North Carolina, which collaborates with the Hopkins centre. Wai combined data from 11 prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies2, including SMPY, to demonstrate the correlation between early cognitive ability and adult achievement. “The kids who test in the top 1% tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” he says.

Such results contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice — that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, by contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status.
I happen to know several friends who have taught at the Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a number of years running. If anything, their commentary reinforces the idea that practice isn't what makes these kids succeed: they have all openly expressed skepticism that CTY does any good at all for these kids. The fact of being smart enough to be admitted is the real thing guaranteeing lifetime success, not what goes on in these enrichment programs.

The other thing they tell me is that CTY is very heavily Asian. I wonder how much of that is because of the alleged disparity in favor of Asians in IQ, and how much is because of the discrimination against Asians in university admissions. If you know your kid is going to suffer in the college admissions process, you're probably more inclined to pay CTY's rates to get them what amounts to a favorable recommendation. The smart kid from any other background is more likely to be able to coast on their test scores.

Silence, Peasants!

For the second time in a week, the Washington Post explains to its comrades in journalism that a damaging story about Hillary Clinton must just stop. This time, it's the full editorial board.

Chris Cillizza has a follow up to his earlier piece about how questions about her health should be off limits, one written after it was pointed out that he had made McCain's health an issue in 2008.

People need to stop talking and writing and thinking about these stories. It's imperiling the coronation of our rightful leader.

Alarm and Disappointment in the Surveillance-for-Thee-But-Not-for-Me-State

James Bamford in Foreign Policy wrote a rather lengthy article that details our current "surveillance state": "Every Move You Make: Over eight years, President Barack Obama has created the most intrusive surveillance apparatus in the world. To what end?"

Here's just one anecdote in the story:

For the Obama administration, the next frontier in spying was being able to eavesdrop on every single person in a country by obtaining “full-take audio” of all cell-phone conversations. For this new program, code-named SOMALGET, it needed a testing ground. The Bahamas — small, contained, peaceful, 50 miles from the Florida coast — fit the bill.

In 2009, not long after Obama had taken office, the NSA gained access to Bahamian communications networks by subterfuge. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration got legal permission to plant monitoring equipment in the nation’s telecom systems by convincing the islands’ government that the operation would help catch drug dealers. Really, though, it opened a backdoor for the NSA so that it could tap, record, and store cellular data. “[O]ur covert mission is the provision of SIGINT [signals intelligence],” a document leaked by Snowden stated. The host country was “not aware.”

Within two years, SOMALGET would achieve its goal of 100 percent surveillance in the Bahamas — all without legal warrants. This included spying on the cell phones of some 6 million U.S. citizens who visit or reside in the country each year; notable celebrities with homes there are Bill Gates, John Travolta, and Tiger Woods.

I always liked Colin Powell through the Bush administration years, so the Daily Mail's report that he really did advise Hillary about how to avoid State Department servers and open records laws is disappointing.

Update: I just noticed that Grim had already posted on the FP article.


It's not much of an endorsement to say that someone is normal, and even less of one to say that they are a normal politician, unless that someone is Hillary Clinton. Then it is apparently the most important thing to convey of all. Witness:

New York Magazine, Headline: "Hillary Clinton Is a Flawed But Normal Politician. Why Can't America See That?"

The Atlantic, opening sentence of another article: "Except for her gender, Hillary Clinton is a highly conventional presidential candidate."

You know, I've sat through a lot of presidential campaigns at this point. Let me point out a few more headlines, just from today only, that undercut this thesis.

The Daily Mail: "‘Read the reports’: Hillary Clinton refuses to explain what she told the FBI about how a concussion impaired her memory"

PR Newswire: "Hillary's Health Concerns Serious, Say Most Doctors Polled by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)"

The Hill: "Clinton campaign warns media to tread carefully"

Hot Air: "When lies collide: New Hillary email spin directly contradicted by own previous claim"

National Review, one of two: "What Did Clinton’s Lawyers Say to Her Tech Guy a Few Days Before He Destroyed Her E-Mails?"

National Review, two of two: "Obstruction of Justice Haunts Hillary’s Future"

This is normal and conventional? A secretive candidate who can get away with threatening the media not to report on her potentially serious health issues, while dodging criminal prosecution on clear national security violations and obstruction of justice charges?

Maybe it's not the American people whose eyes are a bit foggy here, ladies and gentlemen of the press.

It's As If Trump Wanted to Make Joel's Head Explode

Although, as usual, what he said wasn't as stupid as what he is reported to have said.
The issue came up when an audience member asked Trump: "As president, what specifically would you do to support all victims of sexual assault in the military?"

Trump had agreed it's "a massive problem," and something should be done.

"The numbers are staggering, hard to believe it even -- but we're gonna have to run it very tight. I, at the same time, want to keep the court system within the military. I don't think it should be outside of the military," Trump said.

There is an existing military court system, with judges, prosecutors and courts martial, but lawmakers have sought to change the current system to better address sexual assault.
I think every headline version of this I've seen has claimed that Trump said he wanted to 'set up' a court system in the military. What he really said was that he wanted to keep the court system for these charges within the military. Given that some in Congress are talking about what can be done to further stem sexual assault in the military, this sounds less like the blathering of a moron who doesn't know anything and more like a kind of left limit to the sorts of reforms he'd entertain.

I'm not sure that the press didn't really hear him say he wanted to 'set up' a court system in the military, rather than that he wanted to 'keep' these cases there. They seem to want to have heard it very badly.

A Poor Strategy for a Sailor

Showing disrespect to the flag during Colors is not going to go over well with her chain of command. It's protected free speech when a football player does it. It's a violation of regulations for her.

I'm Beginning to Think There Might Be Something Here

I thought the 'she's so sick' rumors were largely just ordinary getting-older stuff until her team started pushing back so hard against reporters asking about it.

Now I wonder what's got her team so worried. She could just go get a physical and publish the results if this were a serious but unfounded concern.

FP: Hey, What's Obama Want With This Giant Surveillance State?

Foreign Policy points out that the United States of America is now the largest surveillance state the world has ever known and asks -- why?

I want one of these

I need to get right to work organizing one on nearby St. Charles Bay.

So What About this Business in North Dakota?

If I lived closer to North Dakota, I think I'd probably go out to these protests.

I'm not a big fan of the NPR spin, where this is somehow part of some overarching American nastiness toward minority groups (especially Native Americans). Oh, they're using dogs, just like in Selma! Whatever.

But I would still go, just because I get not liking having people steamroller your home in the name of 'progress,' oil-related or not. I don't have a problem with oil. I just have a problem with the use of wealth and force to override a community's will about the place where it lives and eats.

Apparently Jill Stein got arrested out there for tagging a bulldozer with spraypaint. My sense of what ought to be done with unwanted bulldozers is somewhat more severe.

XKCD on Geese

Clanadonia & Albannach

Some good Scottish music to go with Beer Lover's Day.

Notice that there is one set of Great Highland Bagpipes among all those big drums, and you can hear it perfectly plainly.

Abolish the Family!

It's a source of inequality, argues.... er, a philosopher.
So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’
They give a history lesson about this argument, which you can read if you want to do. Here's my version of it:

Plato argued in favor of abolishing the family in the Republic, though it's not clear how much that was just a thought experiment. Aristotle rejected the idea outright in the Politics II.2, on the grounds that abolishing the family means abolishing the state. The argument he gives is an early form of the principle of division of labor: the family is more diverse and also more self-sustaining than an individual, and a city more than a family. By eliminating the family in order to give the state greater unity (of which 'less inequality' is a kind), you would end up decreasing the ability to sustain the state.

And indeed that is true. The state is capable of surviving even major disruptions in large part because people can rely upon their families for so much. If the family fails, the state has to pick up a lot more weight -- and, in taking on a vast multiplicity of tasks for which it is unsuited, it becomes far more fragile.

Swift doesn't concede the value of the family to the stability of the state, arguing instead only from Aristotle's formulation of the tragedy of the commons. Rather, he decides that "it is in the interest of the child to be parented, and be parented well." He ends up concluding from this that there may be a higher value than equality (heaven forfend!), and that we shouldn't force parents not to read to their children even though being read to as a child confers advantages later in life.

There's an additional point, which is that a state that tried to abolish the family would become unstable for another reason: parents would unite in destroying it. That doesn't seem to occur to him, but he's an Australian. The value of revolution to the moral health of society is more classically an American point.

Jimbo on Hillary Clinton

Uncle J, guest hosting on the Secure Freedom Radio Show, tees off a full-length monologue against Hillary Clinton. Corruption? Quid pro quo? Lawlessness? It's all there.

Today is Beer Lover's Day?

I didn't realize Scotland had a national holiday for that. Or just one, for that matter.

Lazy Americans

If you were to call any subset of Americans "lazy," you'd be described as engaging in stereotyping or even hate speech.

Republicans for Centralized Government

Trump's friend Peter Thiel suggests that the Republicans have been enabled to move toward a new era in which they push for government that works.

Probably Americans would like government that worked better than the rampant incompetence and wastefulness we see today. However, I still think that central government itself is the problem because it imposes one-size-fits-all solutions on a nation that doesn't agree about what the proper mission of government is.

I don't want a government that will efficiently do the very things I think it ought not to do. Thank you, but no.

Lying to the FBI is Also a Federal Crime

No wonder they want us to swear not to use hacked documents against them.
"Hillary Clinton says that she can’t remember what a 'C' in brackets stands for. Everyone in positions of government and in WikiLeaks knows it stands for classified, confidential. And in fact, we have already released thousands of cables by Hillary Clinton…with a 'C' in brackets right there," said Assange while producing one of the documents. "Thousands of examples, where she herself has used a 'C' in brackets, and signed it off, and more than 22,000 times that she has received cables from others with this 'C' in brackets. So, it’s absolutely incredible for Clinton to lie. She is lying about not knowing what that is, but it’s a bit disturbing that James Comey goes along with that game.”
If that's true, then what she said was an obvious lie. I mean, it was extremely implausible before. At the point that you can show that she used the notation herself, though, then there's no possibility she didn't know what it meant. Her claims to the contrary are false statements, which is a Federal crime in this case.

King Sockpuppet Has A Point

Glen Greenwald writes:
Krugman’s column, chiding the media for its unfairly negative coverage of his beloved candidate, was, predictably, a big hit among Democrats — not just because of their agreement with its content but because of what they regarded as the remarkable courage required to publicly defend someone as marginalized and besieged as the former first lady, two-term New York senator, secretary of state, and current establishment-backed multimillionaire presidential front-runner.... Thankfully, it appears that Krugman — at least thus far — has suffered no governmental recriminations or legal threats, nor any career penalties, for his intrepid, highly risky defense of Hillary Clinton.
Try setting up a 501(c)3 with "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in the name, though, and see what happens.

Or, you know, try giving money to an existing one.

(I suppose it's been long enough that we might consider letting Greenwald walk from the sockpuppet thing, but it's still what I think of every time I see his name.)

What Wrong Looks Like

Nick Palmisciano finds his picture used by the Army as a bad example:

I think they've got you fair and square on this one, Nick.

(Not entirely safe for work.)

Enemy of the State

The odyssey of a cake baker.

Appreciating the Effort

A "liberal sociologist," also known as a "sociologist," spent 5 years in what the article describes as "Trump's America." She was actually trying to find the Tea Party's America, but this was back before the Obama IRS did its best to prevent any actual grassroots Tea Party groups from forming. As a consequence, the Tea Party groups that formed were just fronts for establishment Republicans like Karl Rove, and the popular movement became even more hostile to Washington.

Thus, Trump, the only figure in either party's race who was clearly not a part of anyone's establishment. Whatever bad things can be said about him, that much at least is true.

Here are some of her conclusions. On overall motivation:
They feel their cultural beliefs are denigrated by the culture at large. They feel that they’re seen as rednecks, that they live in a region that’s being discredited. Many of them are deeply devout, but they see the culture at large becoming more secular. And then they see economically that this trapdoor that used to only affect black people and people one class below them is now opening and gobbling up them and their children too. So altogether it makes them feel like a forgotten tribe. “Strangers in their own land” is a phrase that kept recurring to me as I spent time there.

And the main point is that they feel the government, the federal government, has been an instrument of their marginalization. If you give it an arm, it’ll take a leg....
On what she calls "deep story":
Think of people waiting in a long line that stretches up a hill. And at the top of that is the American dream. And the people waiting in line felt like they’d worked extremely hard, sacrificed a lot, tried their best, and were waiting for something they deserved. And this line is increasingly not moving, or moving more slowly [i.e., as the economy stalls].

Then they see people cutting ahead of them in line. Immigrants, blacks, women, refugees, public-sector workers. And even an oil-drenched brown pelican getting priority. In their view, people are cutting ahead unfairly. And then in this narrative, there is Barack Obama, to the side, the line supervisor who seems to be waving these people (and the pelican) ahead. So the government seemed to be on the side of the people who were cutting in line and pushing the people in line back.
On hard work and social class:
Another thing, a lot of the people I talked to were doing really well now — but they had grown up in poverty, or their parents had, they’d struggled hard, and they’d worked hard. They were also white men, and they felt that there was no cultural sympathy for them, in fact there was a tendency to blame the categories of whiteness and maleness. I came to realize that there is a whole sector of society in which the privilege of whiteness and maleness didn’t really trickle down. And I think we have grown highly insensitive to that fact.
I think she puts too much emphasis on race, but she says that someone like me would think that. In any case, it's nice that she actually wanted to know what people like us think about things.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has a less generous take on her book.

Firm Founded by Clinton Chair Reps Corrupt Serbian Oligarch’s Business Interests

Here is the second big Free Beacon story:
A lobbying firm founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and run by one of her top fundraisers represents the business interests of a Serbian oligarch accused by U.S. and Serbian authorities of widespread corruption, public records show.

Since 2013, the Podesta Group has represented two companies run by Miroslav Miskovic, a Serbian billionaire recently convicted of tax evasion charges stemming from a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme....

A diplomatic cable sent to the State Department by the U.S. ambassador to Serbia in 2007 recommended that Miskovic be denied entry to the United States due to his involvement in corrupt business practices.... “We now have solid [evidence] that Miskovic was the beneficiary of egregious political corruption, which has had a serious adverse effect on U.S. national interests, … namely the stability of democratic institutions and U.S. foreign assistance goals,” according to the cable, which was posted online by the group WikiLeaks.

It recommended employing a presidential proclamation designed to combat corruption to preemptively deny Miskovic a U.S. visa “so that he does not derive the further benefit of access to the U.S. from his pillaging of Serbia.”
Read the rest.

How Much Did Beijing Give the Clinton Foundation?

The Washington Free Beacon is on a roll. Story #1: Clinton turned in a Chinese defector to aid Beijing. The case was known, but apparently her story about it was -- as usual -- false.
Earlier, Clinton said during remarks to Chatham House, a British think tank, that Wang “did not fit any of the categories for the United States giving him asylum.” She said he “had a record of corruption, of thuggishness, brutality” and was “an enforcer for Bo Xilai.”

But a State Department document from 2010 contradicts her assertion. The document, labeled “secret,” outlines in detail how officials at U.S. diplomatic outposts should handle foreign nationals who seek to defect. The foreign nationals are called “walk-ins” and can provide valuable intelligence.

“Walk-ins (1) may be sources of invaluable intelligence; (2) pose numerous security challenges; and (3) may need protection,”states the cable, made public by Wikileaks. “Improper handling of walk-ins can put them and post personnel at risk and result in the loss of important intelligence.”

The document lists all categories of potential defectors expected as walk-ins, including “members of the national police and the military,” as well as “political party officials.”

Wang held several senior positions in Chongqing, including deputy Communist Party chief; deputy chief, party chief, and head of Chongqing police, and vice mayor.

Instead of asylum, Clinton could have helped Wang by authorizing “temporary refuge” at the consulate, but that option also was rejected.

He Did Say He Was Going to Pivot to Asia

Having lost America's position in the northern Middle East to Russia and Iran, the Obama administration appears to be losing the Philippines to China.
Obama's framing of Duterte's drug war as a human rights problem, which it doubtless is, missed a key dimension. The drug war is the symptom of a national security problem: the narco invasion of the Philippines. The killings are a result and not the cause in themselves of the problem. And now that the diplomatic breach has opened the door to Chinese subversion on an unprecedented scale with incalculable consequences to regional security it is likely to get worse.

The Era of Hope and Change has been one prolonged act of suicide. If anyone had said that Obama would manage to alienate Israel and the Philippines, lose Turkey, pay Iran a hundred billion dollars, preside over the loss of a won war in Afghanistan, lose billions of dollars in military equipment to ISIS, watch a consulate burn, restart the Cold War with Russia, cause Japan to re-arm and go the knife's edge with China would you have believed it? If someone had told you in 2008 millions of refugees would be heading for Europe and that the UK would leave the EU after Obama went there to campaign for them to remain would you not have laughed?
He has been very consistent.

I Doubt the Quality of This Advice

When the New York Times is willing to publish an op-ed partially entitled, "Save the Republican Party," you can guess what the second part of the headline is.

Editorial Understatement Award

The IBT conveys a judgment:

"ISIS has a poor record when it comes to women's rights, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report."


It's unclear whether the Loch Ness Monster still exists, but once upon a time it did. Scotland is finally devoting some resources to researching its native sea monster, some fifty years after its discovery.

The Perfect Story for the Hall

Combining several recent themes, goose hunters in Iceland recovered a 9th century Viking sword.

We can all take the rest of the day off.

Diversity is Good, Right?

War History: "The American WWII Ace Who Shot Down 7 German, 1 Italian, 1 Japanese, And 1 American Plane!"

What I love about the story is that, instead of courtmartialing him and stripping him of flight status, they just put an American flag kill mark on his plane next to all the others.
Vox on 'the Clinton rules' that cause the media to treat Hillary Clinton so unfairly:
[T]he more power a person wants in our republic, the more voters should know about her or him. But it's also an essential frame for thinking about the long-toxic relationship between the Clintons and the media, why the coverage of Hillary Clinton differs from coverage of other candidates for the presidency, and whether that difference encourages distortions that will ultimately affect the presidential race.
RCP, on the media having a rare interaction with Clinton:
Clinton, under pressure for not holding a press conference for nearly 280 days, was peppered with questions like, "How was your Labor Day weekend?" Another question: "Are you ready?"

"Do you have a Labor Day message?" one reporter asked.

"I do, you'll hear it," Clinton answered. "I definitely, I definitely do. If you want more happy Labor Days, you know who to vote for."

"Thanks, I'll come back later," Clinton said as she exited the cabin that holds the press.
Later, you know, like maybe in mid-November.

The Alt-Right at Chicago Boyz

They have a post wrestling with the term, and what they think the evidence behind the movement looks like.

There is a predictably long comments section, featuring some names you'll recognize.

G20 in Hangzhou

I spent a lot of time in Hangzhou around the turn of the century. This report from the Guardian sounds perfectly plausible to me. China of course has no real property rights, and if they want to show up and bulldoze your building to expand a road (or otherwise for 'the common good'), well, you're just out of luck. You can live in the rubble until you find something better, maybe. So, yes, I'm completely prepared to believe that the Communist Party forced a third of the city's residents to leave for the week.

The article's pictures don't show the pretty parts of Hangzhou, though, just the post-Commie industrial architecture. Hangzhou was a capital during the Southern Song dyansty, and is full of temples and statuary around the beautiful West Lake (Xi Hu). We used to climb Precious Stone Hill and overlook the lake frequently, or take hikes in the tea country near the Dragon Well.

Unfortunately, the massive air pollution from the coal plants that power the city have done a great deal to harm the city's beauty (as well as the health of anyone living there). Still, you can get the sense that it was once very lovely, and almost is still.

Google has many better images of the place. If anything, this collection errs in the other direction. I noticed when I lived there that I had carefully cropped out all the huge piles of trash and rubble from my pictures, all the ugly stuff of Communism, to try to capture just the beautiful things. I went around and took a bunch of photos of that awful stuff as well, so that I wouldn't forget what the city was really like. It is beautiful, almost, in places. But that beauty exists beside incredible ugliness and damage. Parts of Hangzhou looked worse than Baghdad, as even a war in a merely socialist state cannot do damage like peace in a fully Communist one. Such a government destroys merely by its ordinary existence, both directly and indirectly. Unfree to hold any part of it as their own, the people finally give up caring about it.

Trump Supporters

Salena Zito spent some time in Pennsylvania to learn about Trump supporters first hand.

It's a good piece. Here are some excerpts:

In interview after interview in all corners of the state, I've found that Trump's support across the ideological spectrum remains strong. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who have not voted in presidential elections for years — they have not wavered in their support.

Two components of these voters' answers and profiles remain consistent: They are middle-class, and they do not live in a big city....

While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you'll always find one or two who make race the issue) but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power.

Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street board rooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile ...

These are voters who are intellectually offended watching the Affordable Care Act crumble because they warned six years ago that it was an unworkable government overreach. They are the same people who wonder why President Obama has not taken a break from a week of golfing to address the devastating floods in Louisiana. (As one woman told me, “It appears as if he only makes statements during tragedies if there is political gain attached.”)

Voice such a remark, and you risk being labeled a racist in many parts of America. ...

It is no surprise that white identity politics is, if not rising, as least more visible today. The Progressives, especially the culture warriors, have been using identity politics as a political arsenal for decades. At some point, it was probably inevitable that some whites would surrender to the Progressive agenda and embrace identity politics themselves.

That said, I think the vast majority of Trump supporters are not thinking about "white identity" themselves, but are concerned about the racism that's been used against them for the last couple of generations, and which seems to be getting worse. That's a legitimate concern, and no one needs to adopt white identity politics to address that.

Zito's claims make sense to me: Trump support is in large part about being on the losing-but-right side in the culture wars, and it's about the unjust economic consequences of that for the future. She notes that Trump supporters themselves are more likely to be employed and solidly middle class; it is their children and grandchildren they fear for.

The Power of Innocence

The 2012 movie Snow White and the Huntsman unexpectedly asserted many ancient themes, and first among them was the power of innocence. Within the film, innocence brings with it faith, hope, and charity. Two other Christian themes include the power of evil coming from subversion of good and the redemption of the fallen. Although there is almost no visual Christian presence in the movie, no crosses or other symbols, Snow White does recite the Lord's Prayer early on, which I think shows the writer and / or director were aware of some or all of these themes.

Medieval themes include birds as messengers, the power of blood, the dark and dangerous forest, the importance of a virtuous ruler for the natural phenomenon of a kingdom, and chaste love. That last is also a Christian theme, but here it seemed more medieval in expression to me.

And, of course, the story of Snow White is about the nature of Beauty.

The images of Snow White-as-war-leader in the movie are reminiscent of Joan of Arc. With a quick search, this was the best I could find of Snow White:

Here are two images of Joan of Arc from the website Catholic Saint Medals.

Another aspect of the movie is that, while she does wear armor and fight, she is not shown as a great warrior. Rather, she is portrayed as a natural leader: Broken, hopeless warriors who have turned to drunkenness, outlawry, or despair, are redeemed by her innocence and her sense of the mission of redeeming their land and people. With her, they are given new hope and faith. She leads, and with the tremendous power of hope and faithfulness she brings, they fight and die to restore their land and themselves.

A New Rallying Point for the Nation: End Geese

Rich Cromwell over at the Federalist claims that "Geese are the worst animals on the planet and we should end them." Here's a taste of the rest:

Winged Sky Trash

Geese, [compared with venomous snakes who serve a purpose], are actually horrible and deserving of hatred and scorn. They’re big, nasty beasts. They serve no purpose, they’re disgusting, and they definitely do not prefer to leave you alone. You don’t even have to pick them up or accidentally step on them to experience their wrath. Yet some people inexplicably like them.

Can a new War on Geese unite Americans?


Here's a new nanomaterial that blocks visible light, so you don't have to walk around looking naked, but lets infrared radiation pass through, so you stay cooler.  It even wicks moisture.  Next challenge, making it feel nice so someone might actually wear it.  I wish I had some right now: as soon as it gets light I'm about to head out into the breathable soup to take the black dog on a jog.

The end of summer is just coming into sight.  Although it's not what you would call comfortable to run in this, it's no longer asking for heatstroke.  We've even begun planting salad greens for the fall crop.  Fall is right around the corner, marking the beginning of our six-month glorious season.

Nearly 90 lbs. lost, in the neighborhood of 35 to go.  I was really, really fat.  ("Not circus fat, but she gettin' there.")  Now I'm just a bit fat, very close to the high end of medically normal.  It truly is a new life.  Last year at this time I could not have dreamed of jogging.

Okay, the sun is just about riz.  I'm off.