Happy Birthday

Happy birthday, Teufel Hunden.

Advice For House-Breakers

From the Saga of Burnt Njal, when some house-breakers decide to go after Gunnar:
Now when they were come near to the house they knew not whether Gunnar were at home, and bade that some one would go straight up to the house and see if he could find out. But the rest sat them down on the ground.

Thorgrim the Easterling went and began to climb up on the hall; Gunnar sees that a red kirtle passed before the window-slit, and thrusts out the halberd, and smote him on the middle. Thorgrim's feet slipped from under him, and he dropped his shield, and down he toppled from the roof.

Then he goes to Gizur and his band as they sat on the ground.

Gizur looked at him and said—

“Well, is Gunnar at home?”

“Find that out for yourselves,” said Thorgrim; “but this I am sure of, that his halberd is at home,” and with that he fell down dead.
(I substitute 'halberd' for 'bill,' both of which are English weapon-names that are sometimes used for the atgeirr, and neither of which is quite right: see this article. My guess is that it was somewhat like the Lochaber Axe, which is another weapon similar to a halberd but not quite, and which may be descended from the atgeirr.)

It's worth noting that, though the house-breakers did finally kill Gunnar, they didn't get him until his bowstring broke. House-breakers facing more reliable artillery may want to rethink their whole approach to life.

Toleration Doesn't Work That Way

Arabic-language 'vloggers' go around mocking LBGTQ culture in the West. Vocativ wonders why a people of a faith potentially subject to discrimination wouldn't be more tolerant.

That's not how toleration works. Toleration is a decision to accept something you dislike in order to obtain benefits, especially peaceful co-existence. That is why religious toleration came to be. It came to be in order to end the religious wars.

If there's no penalty for intolerance, there is no reason to tolerate things that you despise. These folks know they're already protected by the PC culture they're mocking. They know it can't really turn on them. It just has to hope they'll someday agree to be the allies the PC hope they'll become.

Allies against me and you, of course. That's ironic, since I long ago adopted Hondo's rule:
"[A] long time ago, I made me a rule. I let people do what they want to do."
You might think that this rule opens you to abuse from the abusive, but as you can see it tends to work out if backed up with the right spirit.

Problem we've got is that nobody is willing to let people suffer the consequences of doing what they decided they wanted to do.

No Confidence

Corruption in the "counting of votes" sounds highly likely down Florida way, especially given the history of that particular official who is overseeing it.

Georgia and Arizona remain in similar places, with Democratic parts of the states continuing to "find" new votes. We used to say "If it's not close, they can't cheat." The corollary to that is that, when it is close, they certainly can try.

Empathy is Overrated

Matt Y says he 'cannot empathize' with Tucker Carlson's wife, who was frightened last night when Antifa's DC chapter "Smash Racism" busted in her front door after surrounding her house. The move wasn't 'tactically' wise, he says, but it doesn't affect him on a human level.

Empathy in politics is generally unhealthy; it leads to injustice fairly reliably, as it makes the person we feel for more into a victim who deserves redress, or the person they're accusing into a villain who deserves utter destruction. Or, if we should happen to feel for the violator, it makes his crimes minor things that should be brushed away, and his victims persons of no special account. Whenever people tell me they wish there was more empathy in politics, I assume that means they are the sort of person who should be humored rather than heeded.

That said, Matt raises another good point about empathy by his lack of it. We can't rely on people to have empathy for those that they think of as enemies, and Carlson's wife -- whose name he probably doesn't even know, and who has done nothing other than be married to a guy whom he hates -- is going to get tossed in that camp. Whatever happens to her, eh, that kind of thing happens to bad people. They have it coming. Divine justice, he'd have said back before the Party mandated that people stop talking unironically about God (with a few specific exceptions).

An appeal to empathy is overrated. Patrick Henry knew where to appeal in such cases:
Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free... we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!
Henry was right. It might be your house, next.

Forcing Another Bite at the Apple

In Georgia, the Abrams campaign continues to refuse to concede defeat; the candidate says that, if only counting the provisional ballots can lower the margin of victory of her opponent's below 50%, she'll be entitled to a new election under state law. In Florida, a recount is already being required in spite of some highly irregular activity in Boward County, which is "still counting" and refuses to disclose how many more votes they still have to count (as many as necessary, one assumes). Marco Rubio is on the latter case.

"Orange Man Bad"

Molly Hemmingway apparently said on FOX last night that Democrats and Never-Trumpers were united around their idea that "Orange Man Bad."

Turns out that's a frame from the NPC meme we were discussing not long ago.

Speaking of NPC Conan, he's back on today -- with an orange theme, even.

It's not true that 'few would call Conan smart,' by the way; in Howard's stories he is respected as an intelligent and savvy tactician even by his worst enemies.

The Results Come In

This post’s comments thread is the place for election discussion, if anyone is interested in that.

Come down now they'll say

Last night I watched "Homecoming," a Julia Roberts production on Amazon Prime.  Typical antiwar, anticapitalist politics aside, it was an affecting story about the death of identity we court when we numb a painful memory.  The soundtrack to the final scene was this song "The Trapeze Swinger," with its insistent chorus of "Remember Me."  In tracking it down I found I also liked "Such Great Heights," a cover from the same artist.  Actually most of his songs are pretty similar, but dreamy and effective.

In Parting: Georgia Governor's Campaign

As I was saying at AVI's place, I think that Republican candidate Brian Kemp has performed disgracefully in his current role, and I don't trust him nor think that you should either. I don't repose any trust in the voting system he has built, and I can't see why anyone would. His insisting on sitting atop that warped system while the vote is counted -- even saying he'd preside over his own recount, if necessary -- could hardly be more well-designed at destroying whatever confidence remains that Georgia will have a fair vote according to democratic norms.

No, wait... he's found a way to make it worse.

That said, it is a noteworthy irony that his Democratic opponent is talking about door-to-door confiscation of 'assault weapons' on the same day that her New Black Panther Party allies are posing with her signs -- and such weapons.

As of the move last spring I am no longer a citizen of Georgia. I will not return but to visit, though it was the beloved nest of my childhood and young adulthood, and the place where I was educated. I cannot but wish Georgia well, and there are some parts of her that will always be parts of me too. Still, her destiny and mine must now diverge, and her new citizens will have to decide what to do with her and her painful heritage.

As a parting gift, I might endorse a path, as final advice to Georgia from one who loves her. I wish I could do so in earnest. Neither of these characters deserves the office: the one because he is an insincere scoundrel, and the other because she is completely sincere.

The scoundrel will likely do less harm. He'll feather his pockets, he'll abuse his power, but he won't take hammer and tongs to the foundations.

That's the best I can offer. Do what you will.


It may not be in time for Tuesday, but the NYT allows a rare conservative voice to point out that Donald Trump has put the band back together.
[T]he party that President Trump has remade in his image is arguably less divided and in a better position to keep winning the White House than it has been at any time since the 1980s. What Mr. Trump has done is to rediscover the formula that made the landslide Republican Electoral College victories of the Nixon and Reagan years possible. Mr. Trump’s signature themes of economic nationalism and immigration restriction are only 21st-century updates to the issues that brought the Republican Party triumph in all but one of the six presidential elections between 1968 and 1988.
Heck, who knows about Tuesday? But should the left spend the next two years flogging for open borders and socialism, 2020 should look to rebuke them.

Governance up close

I'm not in office yet, not even officially elected until Tuesday, though I'd have to muck it up by the numbers to fail at this point, as I'm running unopposed.

But although I won't be sworn in as a county commissioner until next January, I've begun easing into my role by spinning up on a few projects that were begun under the current commissioner for my precinct, a neighbor and friend, and will still be in full swing when I take office.  One of these is the paving of a nearby road dedicated to the county but not yet accepted into its construction and maintenance program.

This business of a road's appearing in the plats as a "county road," but not yet accepted by the county, is a potent source of public confusion.  In Texas (and maybe elsewhere) they're called "paper roads."  They may be nothing but sand and an easement.  The dedication by the developer appears in the surveyed and recorded plats, but the effect is a standing offer to the county, which in later years it may or may not accept.  If it does accept, under state law it has no obligation to pay the cost of building the road, though once it accepts it, it does take on the obligation to maintain it unless the road is formally abandoned.  In practice, this county follows the usual path of offering to cover a portion of costs if the homeowners unite in requesting a road to be built.  The usual split here is 2/3 homeowner, 1/3 county.  The process of petitioning the county and taking a homeowner vote and collecting the cost over a period of several years seems quite flexible and humane.

It comes as a shock to many of the homeowners, however, who believe that a plat showing a "county road" means that someone promised them something, and they're not very inclined to be precise about who that was.  The idea that they may have a legitimate quarrel with their seller, or their title company, but not the county, is foreign, nitpicking, abhorrent. They are less fascinated than I by the state law that carefully restricts the county's ability to throw largesse around, a product of many years of experience in the crony deals that would result in taxpayer money being spent to build nice streets for the county judge's brother-in-law.

In the current case, a very short piece of residential street became an urgent problem in this fall's extraordinary rains--over 20 inches in October--and is as much a drainage issue as a paving one.  The county does take on the responsibility of improving drainage, more or less, subject to available resources.  Yesterday's meeting featured mostly homeowners who were fairly content with the message that the county probably could do something to improve the specific drainage problem on their small street in the near future at no cost to themselves.  They also seemed happy to learn that the county could build pave their street next summer at the cost of about $2,200 per lot payable over three years, after which the county would maintain the street more or less in perpetuity.

A few struggled hard with the idea that they should have to pay for any of this.  The county engineer bent the rules a bit some weeks back and dumped some gravel on a specially low and damaged spot, but didn't have enough off-budget material lying around to cover the whole street.  The reaction, as one might have guessed, is that people on the rest of the street felt they'd been given an unalterable right to the same largesse.  They reacted furiously to the notion that they ought to pass the hat and buy a few truckloads of gravel to tide themselves over to next summer.  One fellow argued that the drainage problem stemmed from further up the nearest cross-street and somehow was the county's fault, meaning the county owed him a free solution.  I noticed that the current commissioner and engineer simply heard him out patiently, a good lesson for me.  He wasn't carrying the crowd; no one wanted to hear a rebuttal.  There was talk of how engineers in the Panama Canal Zone solved drainage problems caused by 7 feet of rain, without much consideration given to how unusual conditions have to be before we are well-advised to spend tax dollars hardening against them.  The money comes from us, guys!

Those of us living in the unincorporated area of a small and not very rich county mostly do not assume the county will provide us with any services to speak of.  A few have an abiding faith in their right to demand expensive services from government.  They've elected me after a campaign in which I told anyone who would listen that my first instinct is to limit government's powers, not to ensure government services, but of course I know most weren't listening at all; few even voted.  Clearly a commissioner's job is to do what we can to spend the county's limited resources solving the most urgent problems in the fairest way we can manage.  Part of the job is to help people understand how the government works, given that whatever problem they're bringing to my attention could well be the first time they've tried to get the county government involved in a problem.  Most have never thought much about how it should work, let alone grappled with difficult questions about how to balance freedom, security, and convenience.  My first instinct always is "Why should I have to take your input into account in what I want to accomplish on my own property?"--but often what I hear from neighbors is more like "Why should I have to pay for anything that benefits me?"

It's likely to be an interesting four years.