Requiescat in Pace, John McCain

Far from perfect, and a man with whom I have regularly had differences on most serious matters, all the same John McCain was a man who spoke his honest mind and had the good of the Republic in his heart. He may have been wrong at times about how to pursue it; perhaps so are we all. I am glad that his suffering is at an end, and wish the best to his family. Honor and respect to a worthy man, whom I will remember for his service especially as a Prisoner of War, but whom I prefer to remember for his good humor.

Wish-fulfillment press conference

Viking Ring Fortress Update

Four years after its discovery, a Viking ring fortress has begun to offer some answers to archaeologists. First, why was it built at all? Originally, they had theorized it was as a show of force, to deter attacks rather than to actually repel them. Now, they think there was an immediate threat in the area -- other Vikings.
And so fortresses were established right across the kingdom. They was a coastal defence: Rather than being Viking fortresses, they were actually “anti-Viking” fortresses.

It was this hypothesis that led us to discover Borgring.

It suggested that Harold Bluetooth must also have had a fortress to protect the east coast of the country, which turned out to be the case.

What we couldn’t explain was, how exactly the fortresses were used as a defence. And this is where the discoveries made at Borgring can shed some new light.

With this in mind, we can propose a new explanation for the fortresses, and a more direct connection between Harold Bluetooth’s fight on the southern borders and his need for coastal defences in the rest of the country.

The excavations at Borgring have revealed a fortress built to the same design as Trelleborg and the other ring fortresses. We also see that the fortifications were well planned and completed swiftly.

The landscape was levelled, and the walls were built in a precise circle, with gently sloping sides inside the fortress. The interior is divided into even sections, with four wooden gates placed at exactly 90 degrees to each other.

But then… nothing.

There’s no sign of repairs or extensions to the walls, there are only feeble traces of wooden constructions, which could have supported a high wall, and unlike Trelleborg, Fyrkat, and Aggersborg, there are no signs of construction in the interior of the fortress.

But there are traces of a damaging fire in numerous places around the fortress, and deep wheel tracks that suggest long-term use by traffic coming in and out.

How can we explain these features? It is possible that the construction was interrupted prematurely, but in this case we might have expected to see more clear traces of the building process, and we wouldn’t expect to see any later activity.

The wheel tracks suggest that Borgring was sufficiently ready for use, even without the construction of actual buildings or dwellings inside.

Looking at the excavation drawings from Trelleborg made in the 1930s, we see that the fortress walls were built up numerous times, with the oldest phase most similar to the walls at Borgring.

And Borgring is not alone: One of the other fortresses, Nonnebakken, does not appear to have any interior buildings either. This suggests, that the primary function of the fortresses was not to house a permanent settlement, but to allow people to flee there for short periods of time.

This function as a place for refugees to seek shelter, points to a new and stronger connection between the fortresses and Harold Bluetooth’s was against Otto II....

Placed on top of a fortified wall, it was possible for a poorly armed and untrained person, man or woman, to fight off a well-trained warrior.

If enough people sought refuge in the fortress, then the attackers were unlikely to take it. They could initiate a siege, but time would be against them.

The fortresses offered protection to locals, in the absence of the warriors who had be called up to protect the south. This allowed locals to withstand Viking attacks, and provided Harold Bluetooth with a mobile army that he could deploy to the German border.
It's an interesting story.

Imran Awan Walks

Somehow I don't feel that this trial fully satisfied our need for answers to all of the questions associated with this case.

UPDATE: Just a strange moment in the intersection of courts and politics all around.

Wise Policy

Americans continue to see government as the top threat to their lives. Since it is, that's a good way to see things.
Agencies, too, can be used as partisan weapons, as we saw under the Obama administration when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was wielded as a bludgeon against conservative organizations with little consequence. Of course, the IRS has a long history of such abuse. "My father," Elliott Roosevelt said of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution." Now that abuse has spread to other areas of government.

But there are consequences to weaponizing law and government. "Now everyone, no matter what their political leanings, will wonder if they too are a political target by an out-of-control agency protected by the Justice Department," Investors Business Daily warned in 2015.

Just three years later, Americans support or vilify a growing number of government agencies depending on their partisan affiliations. Laws have become weapons, and agencies are seen as allies or enemies. That has serious consequences for public perception of the overall government within which those agencies operate. Just 18 percent of Americans "say they trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time," Pew polling found this year.

That's Different

The UK has hit upon the idea of hiring criminals to be magistrates, because diversity.

It is true that you run into few convicts on the bench.

Diverse means different, but different doesn't always mean useful.

A Proposed Resolution

Not a terrible idea, really.

Live by Inequality, Die by It

When you've spent ten years trumpeting 'growing inequality' as the chief economic measure, well...
Take the economy, which is faring better under Mr. Trump by many measures than it has in a generation or longer. Each week throughout this summer has brought almost nothing but economic sunshine. The pace of factory hiring has more than doubled since last year. A July survey from the National Federation of Independent Business notes that optimism among small-business owners, who employ nearly half the nation’s private-sector workforce, is at levels not seen since 1983. Wages are also increasing, which was reflected in a Commerce Department report last week that showed retail sales—on groceries, restaurants and clothing—far exceeding economic forecasts and surging at double the rate of inflation.

The best feature of this economic growth is its inclusiveness. The simultaneous gains among various demographic groups is something the country hasn’t experienced in a long time, if ever. Older workers, women, minorities, seniors and the less-educated all are faring better in the labor force today than they did under President Obama. The jobless rate for Americans age 16 to 24 hit a 50-year low this summer. In May, the black unemployment rate dipped to 5.9%, the lowest number on record at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People who had stopped looking for work are sending out resumes. More people are quitting jobs because they are confident that a better one awaits. Employers are increasing perks and benefits in an effort to attract new hires and keep the ones they already have. There were 6.7 million job openings last quarter, a 17-year high.

When the media reports this good news, the stories too often resemble a Democratic National Committee press release.

Fauxcahontas Rides Again

Last week she had a proposal to introduce 'corporate citizenship,' which is a more interesting idea than NRO gave it credit for being. It's not actually dissimilar from Trump's own idea that corporations like Harley Davidson should show special loyalty to America. The details need to be worked out, but it sounds like a point of commonality -- at least potentially.

This week she has a proposed lifetime ban on lobbying by high Federal officials, as well as other reforms. Again, not a terrible idea in principle; details need work, but in principle it's bold but not outrageous. Also, again, similar to Trump: "Drain the Swamp!"

Sadly, there will be no compromises nor useful discussions between these camps. They are intent on running against each other, not working together. But maybe these ideas will get sharpened against each other in the 2020 race, and leave the winner with a mandate to do something on them.

American Fascism

Carry the American flag in public? That's a beating.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino- Saying What Must Be Said

A letter from the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Bishop Robert C. Morlino was published Saturday.  It is repentant, emphatic, serious, and questioning the direction of the church over the last few decades in terms of the church and it's efforts to live within current cultural norms.  It's the most honest, thoughtful, and serious statement I've seen from the episcopate on the crisis of sexual misconduct the Church has been embroiled in.  Perhaps that he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania means he feels more acutely the pain of the Pennsylvania report.  It's clear he's done holding back:
"It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The Church’s teaching is clear that the homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful, but it is intrinsically disordered in a way that renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest. And the decision to act upon this disordered inclination is a sin so grave that it cries out to heaven for vengeance, especially when it involves preying upon the young or the vulnerable. Such wickedness should be hated with a perfect hatred. Christian charity itself demands that we should hate wickedness just as we love goodness. But while hating the sin, we must never hate the sinner, who is called to conversion, penance, and renewed communion with Christ and His Church, through His inexhaustible mercy."
It's a shame that I'm pleasantly stunned to hear this from a Bishop. All of it must be read, and you can read it here.