Vikings and Horned Helmets

Generally considered a myth, there turns out to be contemporary images of a man wearing a horned helmet from the Oseberg tapestries.
It seems like the figure with the horned helmet is leading the procession. He is somewhat larger than the others, something that may indicate his high status, and the figure is possibly portraying the god Odin....

The horned figure also appears in another textile fragment discovered inside the burial chamber. He is holding a pair of crossed spears in one hand facing a man wearing something that reminds of a bear skin. It is tempting to interpret the scene as Odin and a Norse berserker warrior (Old Norse: ber-serkir, meaning “bear-shirt”) who was said to be Odin’s special warriors.

The fragment also portrays a group of women bearing shields interpreted to be “shieldmaidens” (Old Norse: skjaldmær), women who had chosen to fight as warriors.
The article assumes the tapestry was capturing a myth, or a ceremonial costume.

A Fine Song for a Friday

If you made it through that, you're probably mad at me. But it's a fine song, just as I said, and so you'll perhaps forgive the shaggy dog story.

Besides, it's not bad advice. The part about the trusty bike, I mean.


On the one hand, I'm not sure that this rises to the level of 'treason.' It's not in the strict sense waging war on the Republic, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Even the latter phrase isn't meant to be construed lightly as 'doing things the enemy might like' or '...that might help the enemy,' but in concert with a war, actively aiding enemy agents. There's no war, at least not in the strictest sense.

On the other hand, it is a kind of coup against the elected government by what is sometimes called 'the Deep State,' and that could be construed as a waging of war on the Republic by certain members of the government.

Also on that same hand, it's a much more plausible charge of 'treason' than the ones that have been being leveled against Trump himself by the Left all this time: that he might have engaged in 'treason' by seeking to find out what Russia knew about Clinton corruption, for example. That's not war-waging against the Republic at all, and could even be said to be a kind of competitive good governance. The reason to have an adversarial politics is that everyone won't be cozy the way that the Clintons tried to be, but that instead things will be brought to light so the citizenry can hold the powerful to account.

I sometimes think that the charge the left really wants to raise isn't 'treason' but 'heresy,' only that they don't know how to frame that charge. What they really seem to mean is that Trump violates their basic ideas of what the Republic should be about. The recent pieces on Oprah as Priestess-Queen make clear the degree to which this is a more primal violation than treason: it is not really that the man has been disloyal to the state, but that he is a committed violator of their sacred ideals. Even if the worst things he'd been accused of was true, it would't be treason: it'd be unwise to take aid from Putin's intelligence officers in order to persuade voters to vote against Hillary Clinton, perhaps, but it would not be illegal. Yet this has always been treated as a capital crime by the President's enemies, intensely and passionately so.

We are getting closer to something. I wonder if all the go-along-get-along in the world among the comfortable establishment can avoid the powers being raised by these invocations.

Cats vs. Communists

Out in Austin, Texas, a young woman had an interesting idea for a business: open a coffee shop populated by her large cat collection, plus some cats who need adoption, and let customers pet the cats while they drink their coffee. Thus was born the "Blue Cat Café."

You might be surprised to learn that cats are compatible with a food service business, but apparently Texas law permits this. You won't be surprised to learn that a young woman caring for very many cats didn't have a ton of money with which to front a business, so she had to find a place with very reasonable rent for this operation. Thereby hangs a tale.

There is a longer version of the clip that opens that video, here:

Transcript: "You know, all you white people, you look really f'ing comfortable right now because you've got a small army of pigs to protect you. But they won't always be here. How does it feel to need a small army of pigs to protect you from the f'ing neighborhood?"

Notice that, in the first clip, the cafe owners confirm that 'they won't always be here' -- the police have told them that there will be no arrests nor prosecutions because they don't want to 'stir up more hate.'

Protest group 'Defend our Hoodz' has a Twitter account. They deny being involved in the vandalism, and raise counter-accusations that the young woman running the cat cafe has a racist brother she has subsequently invited to protect her establishment against these protests. 'Defend our Hoodz' are definitely Communists. They call for communal ownership of 'the land,' by which they mean all the properties in what they consider to be their neighborhood.

The Blue Cat has a Twitter account too. They are just as obviously progressives who consider themselves sensitive and loving. Peruse it for a moment and you'll discover it is full of rainbows, yoga, and women petting cats. One thing that the protesters are right about is that these are definitely "white people," in the sense of Stuff White People Like. But you push them, and you very quickly find the white people like her brother who form Nazi-themed weightlifting clubs ("the Liftwaffe").

Communists vs. Nazis, feuding over a cat-lady hipster cafe in Texas. Things like this don't really happen, do they?

John Hasnas: The Myth of the Rule of Law

The Barrister over at Maggie's Farm posted this the other day. Hasnas holds a JD and a Ph.D. in philosophy. His law review article "The Myth of the Rule of Law" argues that:

... 1) there is no such thing as a government of law and not people, 2) the belief that there is serves to maintain public support for society's power structure, and 3) the establishment of a truly free society requires the abandonment of the myth of the rule of law.
This is something I've often thought about as I've reconsidered my political beliefs over the last 20 years or so. I tend to agree on the first point for simpler reasons than Hasnas gives: People always make and enforce the laws. It's just a matter of which people and how. On the other hand, the government of law is an ideal to strive for, and I believe in the value of striving for unattainable ideals.

I don't know about his conclusions. Maybe we can hash those out in the comments.

Gorgeous Jupiter

It's incredible what a difference a close-up makes.

J. D. Vance Considering Senate Run

The man is most famous as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book that became very popular among coastal elites trying to understand the hinterland. That makes him a kind of celebrity candidate, in that he is really being considered for office on the basis of his fame as a cultural figure. On the other hand, it's not like he's a reality TV host or a talk show host: his fame depends on a set of ideas, set out and defended in book-length form.

I wonder how popular he would be with voters who are actually a part of the culture he discusses in his book. He was not entirely flattering to them. The opioid crisis suggests that some tough-love criticism is not out of order, but that doesn't mean that they'd like his analysis of just what he thinks is wrong with them.

Cliven Bundy Walks Free

The process is the punishment: he has not been free for two years, while the government tried to railroad him by withholding exculpatory evidence. But, at last, a Nevada judge has put an end to it.
A federal judge ruled Monday that the federal government may not retry Cliven Bundy and his sons after rebuking prosecutors for withholding evidence during their felony trial stemming from an armed standoff four years ago.... She said the attorneys were in violation of the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to disclose evidence that could be favorable to a defendant, and told them it wasn’t possible to proceed with the case.

On Monday, she dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning the government cannot retry the defendants. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," Navarro said.

It was yet another defeat for the federal government at the hands of the Bundy family, who have managed to elude prosecution in high-profile trials centered around standoffs with law enforcement over access to public land.

A Philosophy Professor Runs for Congress

Richard Dien Winfield is a Hegelian who teaches at the University of Georgia. He's running for the 10th District seat, which includes the college town of Athens and is thus an island of blue in a sea of red.

Here's his agenda.
So that anyone who wants a job can get one with pay that truly reflects America’s rising productivity and prosperity

So that we all have access to quality care covering all needed physical, mental, and dental treatment without copays or deductibles

So that no one has to make sacrifices to balance family and work

Where employees have fair representation on corporate boards and collective bargaining so they have a say in decisions concerning work conditions, including equal pay, outsourcing, and automation

To cover the expenses of all personal criminal and civil legal representation, so people can defend against discrimination, sexual harassment, wage theft, and more

By establishing a wealth tax on the trillions of dollars sitting idle in the coffers of the top 10%, instead of being invested productively in our economy
No, he's not kidding. Hegel's effect on Marx was no accident, perhaps: these are similar programs.

Long Live the King?

The New York Times runs a think piece on why the world needs more monarchies.

Tolkien and Kant both thought well of the concept of a monarchy, but the American tradition is not well-served by the idea. None of our political dynasties are a good fit: not the Kennedy family, absolutely not the Clinton crew, nor even the Bush family. I'm sure some people would love to appoint Barack and Michelle Obama as King and Queen of America, but others would greatly despise the idea. King Trump? His wife and daughter would be a good fit for the royalty they'd meet on state occasions, but people go nuts enough about having the Donald as first citizen, primus inter pares. Making him king is right out.

So, it's just a fun piece for a Sunday? Or what?

UPDATE: Queen Oprah? Americans might really vote for that, heaven help us.

Just use your fingernails

It's been a while since we stirred up the subject of automation and the loss of jobs:
The first cargo ship with McLean containers had set off in 1956 from the New Jersey port in Texas. The complete loading of the ship took 8 hours. An extremely short time in comparison with several days needed for the traditional method, and it was reduced shortly afterward by implementing better cranes and parallel unloading and loading of the ships at the same time. But McLean was only interested in one figure: the cost of transporting of one tonne of wares. In 1956, the cost was around $5.83. McLean’s ship Ideal-X managed to do the same for 15.8 cents per tonne.
This way, McLean overcame the first regulatory barrier constraining his containers from controlling the world. By far, this was not the last one. In the introduction, I mention the loaders and unloaders in the docks. These were the workers having one of the most dangerous occupations and generally passed it through generations. In many cities, these workers were having a distinctive social position, and, for example, in New York, not just anyone could reload a truck. This job was exclusive only for the members of a so-called group of “Public Loaders.”
This exclusivity was protected by various trade unions which dictated who could load, for how much, and what could be loaded and unloaded in a port. And this occupation became completely unnecessary with the arrival of containers.
It reminds me of the Milton Friedman story about watching laborers dig holes with shovels. When he asked why they weren't using back-hoes, his hosts explained that back-hoes were expensive but--even worse--they would put workers out of jobs. Friedman answered, "Why not take away their shovels and give them spoons?"