Doing no harm

Not having a heart attack? You probably shouldn't have a stent. Beta-blockers are iffy, too; it may be that they will have no effect on your likelihood of heart disease or death, though you'll probably die with better-looking blood pressure numbers. That proposed knee operation might bear a little scrutiny, too. The article doesn't discuss statins, so don't even get me started on those. A good way to look at proposed treatments is to compare the "number needed to treat" with the "number needed to harm."

Walter Russel Mead: No Way Trump is in Russia's Pocket

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he'd be doing:

* Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
* Blocking oil and gas pipelines
* Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
* Cutting U.S. military spending
* Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia's ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice. Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump...
For now, as Dr. Mead goes on to note, this is all talk from Trump. He has a prediction about how to judge the actions that follow the talk too.


We use wooden wasters for a lot of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). Via Insty, here's a video about how dangerous these little things really can be.

Still, you gotta practice with something.

Chaos Keeps Chaos At Bay

In praise of Jim Mattis.

A Pretty Clever Protest

CPAC attendees were tricked into waiving little Russian tricolor flags with "TRUMP" inscribed in gold upon them.

The protest group that pulled that off deserves a moment of credit. I might not have noticed the symbolism myself, given that the Russian tricolor is red, white, and blue. In my mind's eye, the Russian flag still looks like this:

Any other flag is barely going to impact my consciousness as a symbol of Russia.

Bent Out Of Shape

People are all bent up about the 90-day by-country bar on entry in Trump's immigration Executive Order. The only thing it was meant to accomplish was to give the various agencies involved time to come up with a better method of vetting those who wanted to enter the United States from seven terror-prone regions -- I say "regions" and not "countries" as parts of some of them are effectively ungoverned. The bar was never meant to be in place for more than 90 days, it was just meant to buy time for study.

When the AP trumpets this leaked report, they see a pungent criticism of the Trump administration's order.
A draft document obtained by The Associated Press concludes that citizenship is an "unlikely indicator" of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria's civil war started in 2011.... The three-page report challenges Trump's core claims. It said that of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were U.S. citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban.
I don't know that it's right to say that the document "challenges Trump's core claims," since his core claim was that he wanted his agencies to study the issue during the 90 days and come up with a better system. That sounds like what they're trying to do.

It's interesting that one of the early conclusions is that the list of seven "countries" -- which, we all know, was generated by the Obama administration -- was itself faulty in excluding many of the worst offenders. Note that Saudi Arabia didn't make this list either, which is interesting given that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

So: if the list of nations wasn't solid, and citizenship is a poor indicator anyway, what's better? That's the thing that we really need an answer to, and it's work like this that is going to help us get there. Rather than proving that Trump is a fool (quod erat demonstrandum for the media these days), this seems to prove that his people are taking the task seriously and trying to sort out a good answer to that question.

Childhood in Scotland

Not for most Scottish children, more's the pity, but for four blessed ones.

Behold the Bolt-Action Glock

Yes, it's real. Why? California.

Symphony in Consciousness

We're also putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military. And we will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and hopefully we'll never have to use it, but nobody's going to mess with us, folks. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history. No one will dare question, as they have been, because we're very depleted, very, very depleted sequester. Nobody will question our military might again....

I say Democrats, please, approve our Cabinet and get smart on health care, too, if you know me. But we're taking meetings every day with top leaders in business, in science and industry. Yesterday I had 29 of the biggest business leaders in the world in my office. Caterpillar Tractor, Campbell Soup, we had everybody. We had everybody. I like Campbell Soup.
His style is inimitable, but there really is a kind of style to it.

What did you think of the speech?

The Worldview of the Hillary Clinton Supporter

There's a rich irony in finding such a succinct explanation of their view of the right use of power expressed in terms of actual witchcraft. These are instructions for casting a spell against Donald Trump and his supporters.
To clarify, the original document states that this is a binding spell, which seeks to restrain someone from doing harm instead of harming the targeted individual themselves. Binding does not generate the potential negative blowback to the caster’s karma.
So, the idea is that no bad karma comes from using your power to strip away the freedom to do things you think are harmful.

That's almost the whole ideology in a nutshell, isn't it?

The Washington Post as Heavy Metal Album

A gallery.

"Take a Cue from Psychopaths"

That's the title of a whole section of this Vox piece on how to deal with Trump voters.

It's a more fair-minded piece than the title, or the advice, would suggest.

The Fourth Circuit is Wrong

So, let's say you're a liberal judge -- or, in this case, a whole bunch of liberal judges ruling en banc -- and you really don't like the Heller decision. However, the author of that decision recently died, so you figure you can tee up the Supreme Court to reverse it in a new precedent. Thus, you decide to issue a ruling completely ignoring the Heller decision, and creating a wholly new standard for what kind of weapons deserve 2nd Amendment protection.

The problem is that the new standards doesn't just ignore Heller. It also directly violates the logic of the prior most-important 2nd Amendment Supreme Court Ruling, United States vs. Miller.

The Miller ruling appears to say that the only weapons the 2nd Amendment protects are those that are suitable for militia service, as for example by being of "ordinary military equipment." What the new 4th Circuit case says is that no weapons are protected if they are "most useful in military service." In other words, the two categories are mutually exclusive: the Supreme Court's standard is exactly the opposite of the 4th Circuit's.

And that's if you throw out the Heller decision entirely, as if it never existed.

However, it does exist.

DB: Russia Names Snowden Ambassador to United States

"I look forward to investigating the charges of a Russian cyber-hack of the U.S.," a grinning Snowden told reporters....

Though American by birth, Snowden has lived in Russia since 2013 after having what he called "creative differences" with his former employers. He was awarded Russian citizenship last year by Russian president Vladimir Putin for what Putin called, "outstanding and irreplaceable services provided to the Motherland."

An Arthurian Kickstarter Project

From the Kickstarter page:

Le Morte d'Arthur & The Arthurian Concordance

With great pleasure we offer this project to fund the beginning of an “Arthurian Library”. Three amazing books are a part of this single project.

There’s a new edition of the classic text that’s the most important source of the legend as we know it today. We also offer the first volume of an illustrated graphic novelization of Le Morte d’Arthur. Finally, we offer The Arthurian Concordance, an encyclopedia overflowing with lore.


The new text edition of Le Morte d’Arthur is edited by renowned Arthurian scholar John Matthews. The author of dozens of Arthurian books, John brings a lifetime of knowledge and insight to this edition of the classic by Sir Thomas Malory.

The deluxe hardcover book features reinforced binding and an interesting 8x8 inch format to feature the stunning cover art by Natee Puttapipat. The book will be an awesome 750+ pages and full-color throughout.

The interior design features an outside margin for notes to annotate the classic Malory text. This text is provided by John Matthews as well as Arthurian scholar and storyteller Greg Stafford, the renowned game designer of King Arthur Pendragon, a bestselling and award-winning tabletop roleplaying game considered among the most influential.
Photos at the link. I like those wide margins.

3 EPA principles I can live with

Despite being an avid environmentalist, I've come to despise the EPA in recent years.  Scott Pruitt's introductory speech included three points I admire:
“Regulations ought to make things regular,” Pruitt said. He added, “Regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate. Those that we regulate ought to know what’s expected of them so that they can plan and allocate resources to comply.”
Pruitt then turned to the rule of law saying, “As we do rule making…it needs to be tethered to the statute. The only authority that any agency has in the executive branch is the authority given to it by Congress.” He went on to say that sticking closely to the law would help avoid uncertainly and litigation.
Finally, Pruitt said, “Federalism matters.” “I seek to ensure that we engender the trust of those at the state level,” he continued. “That those at the state level see us as partners, in this very important mission we have as an agency, and not adversaries,” he said.


Majorities of Democrats consider Trump "the enemy," but an exactly equal majority of Republicans consider Democrats "the enemy."

That focus is to mis-state the problem, argues The American Interest:
The basic division in American politics today is not over the merits of President Trump. Many of those who voted for him believed that he lacked the moral grounding and gravitas that great Presidents must ultimately draw on. The division is between those who think that, before Trump, things were going just fine and the American elite was doing an excellent job and those who blame the rise of Trump on the failures and blindness of the so-called “meritocratic elite” who, they would argue, have been running the country into the ground.

In foreign policy, the United States has had two failed presidencies in a row.... Domestically, our leadership elite has watched passively as infrastructure decays, state and local pension systems accumulate unsustainable debt loads, the national debt inexorably climbs, and the social capital of the nation erodes.

There was no sign from the Clinton campaign that anybody understood that the nation’s path was unsustainable.
The cursus honorum has ceased to provide us with reliable leadership. We've had a nearly endless stream of people leading the government whose resume reads something like this: 'Ivy League, Ivy League grad school, Ivy League law school, minor post in government or Wall Street, bigger post in government or Wall Street.'

The way they have been trained to think isn't working.

Is the Left Helping Trump?

The NYT asks.
Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.
I can't say that this is true of the people on the left I know, except for a couple of feminists who are super angry about Trump. I understand that the Access Hollywood tape, and the attacks on Ms. Kelly, and many other things about Trump are deeply offensive to them. What they won't grapple with is that people on the right had at last only the choice of accepting Trump, or accepting a Supreme Court that would void their view of the Constitution on every issue.

That's a huge weight to set on the scale against the things you didn't like about Donald Trump. But, of course, they don't accept that any of the views that a Clinton Supreme Court would have ruled against you on are valid moral opinions either. Second amendment? Pah! Religious freedom? Code words for racism and hate!

Trump "Forcefully" Rejects Antisemitism, Racism

This shouldn't be news, given that his grandkids and his beloved daughter are Jewish, as is the son in law whom he obviously respects and trusts. Still, it clearly is news, so there it is.

FBI Raids Atlanta City Hall

It's part of a bribery scandal that's ongoing. I'm not exactly clear on why it's a Federal offense, although it may be that the state government can't be trusted to prosecute the Atlanta city government.

Super Nice People Will Betray You

I'm at severe risk of confirmation bias here, as this is something I have always believed to be true.

More Craziness

Should high school wrestlers be allowed to use steroids and still compete? Obviously not... unless!
Beggs has been transitioning from female to male since 2015 and as a result has been on steroids during that period, however, University Interscholastic League rules state he must compete as the gender listed on his birth certificate, despite the fact that Beggs wants to compete against males.
I suppose we could just put an end to the division and let everyone wrestle each other by weight class, without regard to sex or "gender." That still doesn't solve the problem of whether or not steroids should be permitted in competition, though.

Jorvik Viking Festival

Lars Walker might prefer this one to the more fun, less accurate festival featured most recently. The Jorvik Festival is in York, England, which was named "Jorvik" by the Vikings. There's a long-standing archaeological dig there at the original city, run by the University of York. Back before 9/11, I had intended to go there and study in order to participate in the dig; the war changed my plans for what to do with my life, as is true for many others.

It looks like quite a bit of fun, actually, even though it's not "fun" oriented in the same way. I don't suppose any of us are near York to drop in, but if I'm wrong about that, be sure to get by.

You Got Us There

Former Swedish PM: More murders in Florida, where Trump spoke, than in Sweden.

It's a fair cop. There's no way we can defend the behavior of Florida. It's been completely out of control for a long time. They even have their own Fark tag.

No, Because....

H/t: Bob on the FOB, who confirms this is legitimately H/K's official feed.

McMaster NSA

McMaster is a serving officer, and thus was not in the same position to say "No" as certain other candidates proved to be. However, he's also a fantastic choice, and it will be a real benefit to the Republic to have him in the position.

We Were Kidding About that "Snowflake" Stuff

Apparently Milo Y. is getting run out on a rail. I assume you know the details from other sites.

The thing about that guy is, he's got some real guts. That's what lets him stand up, as he did after the Pulse shooting, and talk about radical Islam in a way that would make him personally a target for violent jihad.

A guy like that has merited the right to an opinion, even if it's one I regard as entirely wrong. For a long time, he's been put forward by the Right for the very quality of spouting offensive opinions to Leftists. Guess he found one that makes the Right want a safe space.

I think we could survive a debate on the question, personally. For one thing, there's plenty to draw on in the Greek tradition -- start with the Symposium. It's not necessary to run and hide from the idea.

For another thing, it's an opinion that turns on an issue that the Right really ought to challenge, which is the currently-accepted orthodoxy that sexuality is set permanently by biology.

That aside, I'd let him speak just because he's proven he's got guts. I can hear and entertain an opinion I don't agree with, if the person bringing it forward is someone who's worth taking seriously. Not everyone is. Someone who's manifestly willing to die for what he believes, however, presumptively is until proven otherwise.

"Sensitivity Readers"

My guess is that the literary value of these works wasn't so high as to carry any risk of anything being damaged. Still, the value of literature lies less in affirming things that are easy and comfortable to believe, and more in forcing confrontations with the difficult and unpleasant. MacBeth doesn't get its value out of its expressions of patriotism, after all.
The service and the loyalty I owe,
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part
Is to receive our duties; and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honour.

Welcome hither:
I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
To make thee full of growing.
Stop there, and you have a kind of Confucian model of easy flourishing by knowing one's place and submitting to the lawful order. The real value comes in confronting the legitimacy of ambition and objections to this model of being ruled, and yet also confronting the perils and stains that come with acting on those things.

The real value in 'sensitivity readers' might be in marking out the parts of the book that are worth further exploration and emphasis.

Presidents' Day

The day originally celebrates George Washington, but now also other presidents. By way of discussion, it might be interesting to hear who you think were the best of the minor presidents (and why). The major ones, ranked by effect for good or ill on the nation, should include:

George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Jackson
Ronald Reagan
Teddy Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson

JFK might also be included if only because of his psychic effect on his generation and the one that followed. Nixon might be included for opening China and getting himself forced to resign, which also provoked a psychic effect that was harmful. Carter definitely produced a psychic effect, but I believe he was too pitiful as president to make anybody's list of "best minor presidents."