Go, Mighty Bulldogs

That is all.

Footprints and vectors

As they say, Trump needs a wartime consiglieri.

John Solomon does his usual excellent investigative reporting into the muck that is the Trump-Russia investigation.
Early in my reporting that unraveled the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion probe, tying it to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and possible Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, I started to see patterns just as in the old mob meetings: FBI or intelligence-connected figures kept showing up in Trump Town USA during the 2016 campaign with a common calling card.
The question now is, who sent them and why?
Interviews with more than 50 witnesses in the Trump case and reviews of hundreds of pages of court filings confirm the following:
At least six people with long-established ties to the FBI or to U.S. and Western intelligence made entrees to key figures in the Trump business organization or his presidential campaign between March and October 2016;
Campaign figures were contacted by at least two Russian figures whose justification for being in the United States were rare law enforcement parole visas controlled by the U.S. Justice Department;
Intelligence or diplomatic figures connected to two of America’s closest allies, Britain and Australia, gathered intelligence or instigated contacts with Trump campaign figures during that same period;
Some of the conversations and contacts that were monitored occurred on foreign soil and resulted in the creation of transcripts; Nearly all of the contacts involved the same overture — a discussion about possible political dirt or stolen emails harmful to Hillary Clinton, or unsolicited business in London or Moscow;
Several of the contacts occurred before the FBI formally launched a legally authorized probe into the Trump campaign and possible collusion on July 31, 2016.

The Mari Lywd

Another ancient holdover animal holiday tradition, this one Celtic. It survives in Wales. Although I only encountered it tonight, it has for many years been part of our decorations to put Christmas ornaments for eyes into the bovine rather than equine skulls decorating the walls. It’s festive, even without the ribbons and riddles.

The Yule Goat

An article on the subject of Yule goats, a Christmas tradition with pre-Christian roots in Scandinavia. So do Christmas trees, of course; so do a lot of Christmas rituals. If you find them charming, Grimfrost has Yule goat sets on sale right now.

Thieves in Veterans' Clothing

Some $900,000 worth of clothing, jewelry, and the like.

Believe the Science!

As a case in point, Buss and von Hippel highlight the recent book Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds by psychologist Cordelia Fine – a text that argues against biological differences between the sexes (and in favour of sociological explanations) and which won wide praise from journalists and left-leaning scientists around the globe, while at the same time receiving scathing criticism from evolutionary biologists and psychologists with relevant expertise in evolutionary science.

Buss and von Hippel argue that Fine and others are motivated by social justice goals (in this case gender equality) to reject findings from evolutionary biology and psychology[.]
The hell you say.

Regional Pride, and Rest in Peace

AVI mentioned in passing over at his place a certain tolerance for 'moderate' regional pride. I'm not sure I've adhered to the moderation standard, which I hadn't understood was expected; but in fairness, Southerners are rarely moderate in this regard.

By sad coincidence, Roy Clark passed away just a couple of weeks ago. I don't think I mentioned it at the time. He was a man whom our region could be proud to have born. His contributions to the world included music and humor, and he was great at both. Here he is with Buck Owens and another of my favorite fellows, the late, great Jerry Reed.

And here he is with Buck Trent, doing a playful variation on a playful standard.

Although he was most famous for these Southern types, he was a thoroughly trained musician who could play anything on one of several instruments.

It was nice to share the stage with these men for a while. I hope they will be long remembered.


Let's do a couple more. One older:

And one with Johnny Cash. Both of these are funny because it's impossible to believe Roy Clark ever shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. Johnny Cash could sell the line, but Roy Clark just wants to play tricks on the guitar.

Johnny doesn't care. He's having fun too.

Inappropriate Christmas gifts

This is a gift you should reserve for small children of parents who have deeply offended you--like giving a young boy a drum set.  But I have to admit to a strong temptation.  It's a toy fire truck that lights up and emits a siren, which is bad enough, but it also squirts water out of the hose attached to the ladder, how cool is that?

The best part is the video on the Amazon page, showing an adult running the toy through its paces, complete with a small alcohol fire in what looks like carpet near the truck, which the adult carefully extinguishes.  You can tell by the wording of the toy's description that no American lawyers went anywhere near this promotional video:
IMAGINAIVE EDUCATION TOY: This fire rescue truck is a great educational toy for kids, for it helps to cultivating the toddlers fire protection consciousness and emergency situation handling, so that children can protect themselves in the danger to some extents.

My grand-nephew is in that toddler toy-truck stage.  After last week's snows in the Northeast, his admirable father affixed cardboard snow-plow blades to all his trucks, and now the kid runs around the house delightedly yelling "'no pow! 'no pow!"

A Series of Historical Analogies

Beware the attempts to roll things back to control by 'the experts.'

The author actually has some credentials of his own: a former US Army infantry NCO, with a Ph.D. in history.

A Reasonable Point

"Giving your child a dumb name like ABCDE should be considered child abuse because you’re willing to condemn your child to a lifetime of mockery so you can get attention."

Relevant story.

I wouldn't want the government to have authority to prosecute for 'child abuse,' but I definitely think that we should adopt the cultural stance that this sort of thing is an abusive behavior. We ought to treat parents who do this to their children as bad people.

By the way, why are all these crazy stories coming out of Texas? What's going on down there? Texas used to be reliable.

A Wrinkle in the Texas Divorce Case

This feature of the story about the divorce in which the parents dispute the gender of their child escaped me before.
In their divorce proceedings, the mother has charged the father with child abuse for not affirming James as transgender, has sought restraining orders against him, and is seeking to terminate his parental rights. She is also seeking to require him to pay for the child’s visits to a transgender-affirming therapist and transgender medical alterations, which may include hormonal sterilization starting at age eight.
A mother is asking a court to force a father to pay for the castration of his son. She's not just demanding that the father be forced to accept the castration of his son, which would be a monstrosity by itself. She is demanding that he be forced to pay for it to be done. An American court is actually entertaining that request.

I don't ever want to hear another word about how America is some kind of patriarchy.

In Fairness to Brian Kemp

The Free Beacon points out that registration and turnout both increased under Secretary of State Kemp -- now Governor-Elect Kemp.

OK. Fair enough. The real problem with the system wasn't registration, though: it was the ultra-hackable computers with no way to verify that your vote had been counted, or that it hadn't been altered. I don't think Kemp cheated, because if he had the margin would have been safer: if he had given himself 51% instead of 50.3%, there would have been no talk of a runoff and a lot less pressure toward a recount. The duty of the Secretary of State isn't satisfied simply by not cheating, though: he ought to have done his best to set up a system that no one thought you could cheat.

Unsympathetic Guys Sometimes Deserve to Win

The Supreme Court looks set to deliver a win to a heroin dealer, along with thousands of others punished by excessive fines and asset forfeiture.
A decision in favor of 37-year-old Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana, also could buttress efforts to limit the confiscation by local law enforcement of property belonging to someone suspected of a crime. Police and prosecutors often keep the proceeds.

Timbs was on hand at the high court for arguments that were largely a one-sided affair in which the main question appeared to be how broadly the state would lose.
I hope they lose big.

And Don't Forget the Fire Hazard

Schools in Sweden ban St. Lucia celebrations. (Some of you know these from The Ref's famous Scandinavian dinner scene.)
According to preschool manager Anna Karmskog, they want to avoid discrimination, offensive treatment and do not want to “exclude” anyone.

It is also seen from an “equality perspective”. Many people buy Lucia costumes for one occasion. It does not feel right to force the parents to buy these, she says.

Furthermore, many children are reported to be anxious and sad in a large crowd, and the “gender perspective” as the children “walk in a row” is questioned. The school has not discussed the cancellation with the parents.

In Mellerud, Åsen’s school decided to boycott the Lucia celebrations altogether...

“But last week, the school celebrated Muhammad’s journey to heaven without even informing us.”, [one school parent said].

Some now say that the cancelled Lucia celebration is a prelude to tone down Christmas to adapt to Islam. Recently, to prevent terror attacks, barriers have also been set up at Christmas Markets in Malmö.
Well, in fairness, most of the Muslim migrants are without concerns about gender, equality, exclusivity, or discrimination. So really, everybody is getting their way.

Battle of Visby

I came across this picture of a skull fused to a mail coif, from the 1361 Battle of Visby. The Swedish History Museum hosts the remains.

The issue at stake was, unsurprisingly, which government got to collect taxes. Gotland was paying taxes to the King of Sweden, but the Danes felt they had a claim -- and they also had professional fighting men with recent experience and what were at the time modern arms.
The Danish army was composed mainly of Danish and German troops, many mercenaries from the Baltic coast of Germany, with recent experience in the various feuds and wars between the German and Scandinavian states. These men would have worn what was known as Transitional armour, with iron or steel plates over vital areas and joints over a full suit of chain mail. They were led by Valdemar IV of Denmark. Against them was an army of Gutes, mainly freemen and minor nobles. The ordinary freemen appear to have worn more limited but still effective protection, with many skeletons that were excavated wearing a chain-mail shirt or a coat of plates to protect the torso. Some warriors may have worn a padded Gambeson or a leather jerkin or coat[.]
The battle is contemporaneous with the Hundred Years War, which is why this array of armor is said to be 'transitional.' The early battles of the Hundred Years War were fought mostly in mail armor; by the end of the war, articulated plate armor was common not just for nobles but for knights and men at arms. This occurred somewhere in the middle, and less centrally to Europe than were England and France at that time.

Yeah, it's just like that

USA Today explains that the barbed wire at the U.S.'s southern border evokes troubling images of the Iron Curtain.  It brings back memories, doesn't it?  East Germany frantically pushing its refugees towards West Germany, where they hope to build better lives for themselves, and West Germany callously manning the wall with tear-gas-wielding jackbooted cops.

In other news, apparently tear gas is not a violation of the Geneva Convention when Macron uses it against French protesters.  Speaking of the effect of tear gas, at least one would-be U.S. border-hopper understands what it's for: “If they’re launching tear gas,” Castillo said, “it’s better to head somewhere else.”

"Murphy v. Carpenter" & Tribal Sovereignty

The Supreme Court is hearing an interesting case. From NewsOK.com:

The question before the court in Carpenter v. Murphy is whether Congress disestablished the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in the early 20th century. If not, that reservation created in 1866 still exists and major crimes involving tribal members in that region of eastern Oklahoma must be prosecuted in federal courts, not state courts.


Much of Tuesday's hour of arguments focused on the practical implications of a ruling in favor of the tribe. Several justices showed deep concern about the ramifications of a ruling in favor of the Creeks.
“There are 1.8 million people living in this area,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. “They have built their lives not necessarily on criminal law but on municipal regulations, property law, dog-related law, thousands of details. And now, if we say really this land ... belongs to the tribe, what happens to all those people? What happens to all those laws?”


Justice Neil Gorsuch, a President Donald Trump appointee, did not participate in Tuesday's arguments and will not take a side in an eventual opinion because he was on the 10th Circuit last year when it ruled that the Creek reservation still exists.

The population of Oklahoma is about 3.9 million people, so this affects a large percentage of them in some way.

The Trump administration sided with the state of Oklahoma:

Last August, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the murder conviction and death sentence of Patrick Murphy, who was convicted in state court of mutilating and murdering George Jacobs in 1999. The court ruled the Creek reservation still exists and Murphy therefore must be tried in federal court for the murder on reservation land.

The Justice Department's arguments were three-pronged: Congress abolished the Creek reservation, the 10th Circuit erroneously cherry-picked historical documents to conclude it didn't, and Oklahoma had jurisdiction in the Murphy case regardless.

“Congress granted the state jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving Indians in the former Indian Territory as part of the series of acts leading to Oklahoma statehood,” Francisco wrote.


The states of Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming filed a brief Monday asking the Supreme Court to side with Oklahoma, concerned tribal lands in their states could also be affected.

If you are interested, Mvskoke News, the newspaper of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, provides some historical background to the case.

They also give some details on 6 amicus briefs filed in the case.

I Find It Really Gets to the Spirit of the Yuletide

BB: "Melania Trump Criticized For Decorating White House With Skulls Of Her Enemies."

The Nation on Economics

Laissez-faire for China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey -- but the regulatory state at home!

I suppose that will make for a "fairer world economy," if by "fairer" you mean "the US is no longer far out in front."

The Nation of Islam and Scientology

This is not a topic of interest to me, but it might be to some of you, and I know one of the co-authors.

The Chicago Principles of Free Speech

Apparently the University of Chicago's statement on freedom of speech is now being considered by Australia. The author of this piece doesn't think they need it, which probably means that they need it. If it's purely redundant, there's no harm; it's good to have redundant safeguards for really important things. To whatever degree it isn't redundant, well, that's why you need it.
In 2014, the President (equivalent to the Vice Chancellor of an Australian university) of the University of Chicago convened a committee, chaired by highly acclaimed free speech scholar Professor Geoffrey Stone, to draft a statement that would articulate the university’s commitment to “free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation”.

The university took this step in response to free speech controversies on university campuses in the United States. Examples include disinviting controversial speakers, pressure on faculty to make public apologies for statements some considered offensive, demands for the removal of historic statues or monuments, and the existence of campus speech codes which prohibit students from engaging in hate speech on the ground of race, sexuality, or gender.

The Chicago statement recognises free speech on campus as an issue that goes to the core mission of the university as a place of learning. It defends free and open inquiry in all matters, and guarantees the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.

It also recognises that freedom of speech does not mean people can say whatever they want, wherever they want. It permits restrictions on speech that violates the law, is defamatory, threatens or harasses, invades privacy or confidentiality, or is incompatible with the functioning of a university.

The statement is a well-articulated and clear enunciation of three things:

1) the importance of freedom of speech to learning

2) the recognition that free speech must have limits

3) the articulation that any such limits must be carefully and narrowly circumscribed.

As of February 2018 the Chicago statement had been adopted by 34 other universities in the US. But this still leaves around 1,600 universities that have not signed up, possibly because their existing policies already support the same views.
"Possibly," at least in some cases. However, in other cases, it is clear that that they don't want these principles because they have others.

"Legally Barred"

I suppose the Eighth Amendment probably forbids the court from taking the appropriate measures here.
A Texas father is fighting for his son in court after pushing back on his ex-wife's claim that their six-year-old is a transgender girl.

According to court documents, the young boy only dresses as a girl when he's with his mother, who has enrolled him in first-grade as a female named "Luna." The father, however, contends that his son consistently chooses to wear boys' clothes, "violently refuses to wear girl’s clothes at my home," and identifies as a boy when he is with him.

The Federalist reports that the mother has accused the father of child abuse in their divorce proceedings "for not affirming James as transgender" and is looking to strip the dad of his parental rights. "She is also seeking to require him to pay for the child’s visits to a transgender-affirming therapist and transgender medical alterations, which may include hormonal sterilization starting at age eight," the report adds.

The father has been legally barred from speaking to his child about sexuality and gender from a scientific or religious perspective and from dressing his son in boys' clothes; instead, he has to offer both girls' and boys' outfits. The boy consistently refuses to wear dresses, according to the father.

The boy was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a gender transition therapist the mother, a pediatrician, chose for her son to see. According to the therapist's notes, the boy chose to identify as a girl when he was in sessions alone with his mother; alternatively, he chose to identify as a boy when he was in sessions alone with his father.
This poor kid. Mommy and daddy are fighting; mommy really wishes he weren't a boy. He's six. No adult should be doing this to him.

The court is so far going along with this idiocy, if I am correct to believe that 'legally barred' means that some previous court proceeding is the source of this restriction.

An Aristotelian Proof

I'm posting this here because I want to watch it, but I don't have an hour right now to devote to it. If any of you get to it before I have time, feel free to post thoughts (or questions -- I do have some training here if you're not familiar with Aristotelian thinking and want to walk through it).

Wretchard on the Coming Storm

If it sounds a lot like shadow banning and blacklisting its because it is. As Tyler Grant notes in the Hill the basic algorithms behind the Chinese social scoring system and Western hate speech systems are essentially the same. "It’s tempting to think this government overreach is purely reserved to China, after all they did just forfeit significant freedom by electing Xi Jinping president for life. This is incorrect thinking. The rest of the world is steps away from trailing the Chinese into a surveillance state."
The U.K. fines and even imprisons people for hate speech or speech deemed abhorrent to the prevailing norms of society. The U.S. is not far behind. Last week, a Manhattan judge ruled a bar can toss Trump supporters for their political viewpoints. A recent proliferation of politically motivated boycotts seeks to punish "bad" viewpoints; protesters are eager to shout down incorrect speech. In this political climate, it’s not difficult to imagine businesses or the government assessing social benefit or worth based upon a variety of factors including political speech.

With incredible data collection, the plumbing is already in place for such a system to take hold. Our tech companies catalogue large quantities of data on everyone. As we saw with Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 election, this data can be used to steer particular viewpoints; it’s not a far cry to imagine information being used to control viewpoints.
Read that last with Thomas' bit, just below.

Tricking People Into Changing Their Political Opinions?

Choice blindness, eh?

The experiment relies on a phenomenon known as choice blindness. Choice blindness was discovered in 2005 by a team of Swedish researchers. They presented participants with two photos of faces and asked participants to choose the photo they thought was more attractive, and then handed participants that photo. Using a clever trick inspired by stage magic, when participants received the photo it had been switched to the person not chosen by the participant—the less attractive photo. Remarkably, most participants accepted this card as their own choice and then proceeded to give arguments for why they had chosen that face in the first place. This revealed a striking mismatch between our choices and our ability to rationalize outcomes. This same finding has since been replicated in various domains including taste for jam, financial decisions, and eye-witness testimony.

While it is remarkable that people can be fooled into picking an attractive photo or a sweet jam in the moment, we wondered whether it would be possible to use this false-feedback to alter political beliefs in a way that would stand the test of time.

In our experiment, we first gave false-feedback about their choices, but this time concerning actual political questions (e.g., climate taxes on consumer goods). Participants were then asked to state their views a second time that same day, and again one week later. The results were striking.  Participants’ responses were shifted considerably in the direction of the manipulation. For instance, those who originally had favoured higher taxes were more likely to be undecided or even opposed to it.

Norse Arts and Crafts

A History piece on a find at Ribe, including wooden "'solid houses'" dating back no later than the 720s," and "telling discoveries that include jewelry, coins, and a lyre, a stringed musical instrument."

The journalist who wrote the piece is no scholar, though.
How the Vikings went from building a complex and seemingly stable society to gaining their status as brash and hostile warriors is still unknown.
It's not at all unknown. P. H. Sawyer's Kings and Vikings gives an account of how it happened. The stabilizing society gave rise to stronger kings who pushed out the wilder elements, so that the original 'Vikings' were the bandits and warlords that these stronger kings were driving out of Norway and Denmark and Sweden. The success these raiders found in places like England and France provided the fodder for the later, larger-scale "Viking" raids by later generations of such kings. The story is fairly well known, and evident in sources from the sagas to the Heimskringla.

"Permanently (If Need Be)"

I can't imagine it's more than just words, this threat to close the Mexican border "permanently." I assume it means "for as long as necessary to make the economic pain effective." There's too much money to be made for Americans trading across that border for the closure to really be even long-lasting.

Trump's extravagant threat doesn't even place at the top of the rankings for extravagant border-closing threats. The silver standard for these border threats, is Saudi Arabia's.
Saudi Arabia could consider a proposal to dig a maritime canal along the kingdom’s border with Qatar, turning the peninsula-nation into an island and transforming its only land border into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported Monday.
The gold standard remains McArthur's DPRK/ROK border creation proposal. It started with 30-50 nuclear bombs, followed by a pincer movement invasion to sow a belt of radioactive Cobalt, creating a very firm border indeed.

Oh, by the way, the Border Patrol used pepper spray / tear gas under Obama too. I mean, it's literally their job to stop things like this. It's the whole reason we pay for them to exist year after year.