Accidental Viking Steel

Tex's post about tin made me think of this claim I read recently about the quality of Viking swords.
[T]he majority of iron they had access to was bog iron. Bacteria in bogs oxidize trace amounts of iron to gain energy and, in so doing, concentrate the iron, enabling its collection for smithing. However, the resulting iron is impure and soft, which was a big problem for the Scandinavians....

Scandinavian smiths discovered that the bones of the dead could grant them an edge. Numerous forges scattered across Scandinavia contain the remains of animal and human bones — by incorporating the remains of the dead, their spirits could be transferred into a blade, making it stronger and more durable.

Incorporating bones into the smithing process did in fact make Scandinavian swords stronger, but it wasn't magic — it was technology. What ancient smiths could not have realized is that they were in fact mixing their bog iron with carbon to make a rudimentary form of steel.
Maybe that's true. It's an interesting theory.

Identity and America

I'm not sure if this would be characterized as "white nationalist" or "anti-semitic" or both by Facebook; but it actually argues against divisions by race or faith, and in favor of a union of Americans.
Today, the central threat to the continued existence, let alone health, of the nation is the decimation of meaning in citizenship that has followed the persistent denial of an essential American identity by both the modern Left and Right. Both peddle an ahistorical lie which abetts the trajectory of disunity and destruction: that no common history, culture, or language is required to be an American. Both have conflated these standards with racial discrimination, where no such connection is self-evident. These days, one cannot venture to define what it means to be an American—beyond the vague willingness to contribute to the economy—without enduring unfounded charges of “bigotry.”

Identity best can be understood as the unspoken knowledge of self which is sensed commonly. Its implicit character makes it a bit slippery, but that does not reduce its potency.

The American identity emerged from a shared history. This history is tied up in the habits and principles of ordered liberty, privacy, equality before the law, agrarian grit, self-reliance, Christian charity, British common law, devotion to family, and self-governance through civil society. But is rooted most strongly in the fact of common heritage. Consanguinity is one of the central pillars of any regime, including ours. America, more than any other nation, has a foundation capable of unifying diversity of origin, religion, and blood.
She mentions "the Frankfurt School," criticism of which is -- I read earlier this week -- considered anti-semitic. But it's not criticism of Jews per se, or Judaism, it's criticism of a set of ideas. That should be fair game.

Likewise, the basic idea that America's ideals are good and should be applied to everyone has lately become criticized as a sort of racism. Because America has (allegedly many) social privileges enjoyed by whites, supporting America (or Western civilization generally) is said to be a kind of white nationalism. Aspiring to eliminate racial distinctions is supposedly a way of reinforcing them, if only by hiding them.

So possibly this essay is heavily coded racism and prejudice. Or possibly she's right.
Patriots must unabashedly assert that American identity is real, that it is good, and that we, the people, collectively get to decide who may partake in our American dream according to our cultural preferences. We can honor American artists and heroes, local and national, and prioritize them over more postmodern, deconstructionist options. We can assert, loudly, that our American Founders were good men, and that what they built was entrusted to a good people.
You'll have to decide for yourselves.


"RealClearScience" is doing a series on the elements, including today's "tin."  This kind of thing is always interesting, but something I particularly enjoyed was reading that the first bronze may have been stumbled on when people made an accidental alloy from ores that naturally contained a suitable mixture of copper and tin, perhaps as early as 5800 B.C.  I'd always thought of the Bronze Age as beginning around 3500 or 3000 B.C. Of course dates for these things vary considerably over the world, and it shouldn't be too surprising that the idea crops up here and there quite early before it grabs hold and spreads.  It was a long time before cultures became complex enough to transmit this innovative idea reliably from generation to generation, then from place to place, and also to allow a robust trade in tin over continental distances.  Even slower, perhaps, was the cultural development that favored systematic experimentation with fussy recipes for alloys and counterintuitive stabs in the dark like different quenching methods.

It wasn't a "recusal" recusal

Well, that explains it:

That's a useful term, "colloquial" rather than the "legal sense," especially for a prosecutor's office explaining its legal actions to the public.  Alright, then.  Lots of things we feared were outright lies will turn out to be innocent after all.

Booker T & the M.G.'s

Favorites of my father's, these guys were often on the turntable when I was a boy. This was their biggest hit, I guess:

But this is one I like a little better, for reasons of my own.

How Do You Know Who the Experts Are?

There are two ways to know if someone is an expert. The first one is to have some expertise yourself, so that you can judge the quality of their work. However, no one can be expert in every field, and we often need to judge the quality of an 'expert' exactly when we aren't expert enough in that field (and consequently need to hire someone who is moreso to help us).

The second way is to rely on their reputation. If lots of people report that they did a good job in this field, you might have some reason to judge that they are indeed expert in that field. You might pick a plumber based on online reviews of their work, for example.

However, this method is subject to fraud. Online reviews can be concocted. What happens when a large, overlapping class of fakes mutually reinforce each other's claims to expertise?
The farce that has passed for public discourse the last two years was fueled by a concerted effort of the media and the pundit class to obscure gaping holes in logic as well as law. And yet, they all appeared to be credible because the institutions sustaining them are credible.

Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Moscow—he knows everything about Russia. He wouldn’t invent stuff about national security matters out of thin air. Jane Mayer is a national treasure, one of America’s greatest living journalists who penned a long profile of Christopher Steele in the pages of the New Yorker. Susan Hennessy is a former intelligence community lawyer, who appears as an expert on TV. And how about her colleague at the Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution fellow and a personal friend of James Comey? You think he didn’t have the inside dope, every time he posted a “Boom” GIF on Twitter predicting the final nail just about to be hammered in Trump’s coffin?

Many more jumped on the dog pile along with them, validating each other’s tweets and breathless insider sourcing. The point was to thicken the echo chamber, with voices from the right as well as the left in order to make it seem real. Hey, if this many experts are saying so, there must be something to it.

Except, there wasn’t—ever.
What to do about that? You can become expert yourself, or develop a better network of validators.

The sky's not falling. The sky's the limit.

Ken Paxton (Texas Attorney General) summarizes in USA Today:
It’s a sad commentary that alarms go up among Washington elites when the Trump administration defends the Constitution and holds Congress to its word. That is, after all, what the Department of Justice did this week by agreeing with a federal court that all of Obamacare is unconstitutional.
Pundits declare that this decision will have disastrous political consequences for Republicans. The Constitution’s approval rating is far higher than Congress’, so I think reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated. However, if the pundits are right, the Trump administration deserves all the more credit for putting the Constitution and the rule of law ahead of politics.
* * *
The end of Obamacare is not the end of health care reform, but the beginning. Each state can now decide for itself what type of health care system it wants and how best to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, just as the Founders intended.
States like Texas will be able to return to their plans for pre-existing conditions that use high-risk pools; other states, like Massachusetts, can opt for a system along the lines of Obamacare or something else entirely. The Trump administration knows the sky is not falling on health care — it’s now the limit.

And now for something completely different

No snark on this one, despite this week's unusually rich pickings.

OSS Man Sterling Hayden

Soldier of Fortune magazine has an article about this very interesting career: OSS, Marine Corps, smuggler, Hollywood actor. Unfortunately at points a Communist sympathizer, he had a major role in Dr. Strangelove and was also in The Godfather.

More on Male & Female Brains

Another study on the issue, this one doing actual brain scans of fetuses.

Red Flag Laws

As the Trump administration makes bump stocks a felony, the GOP-led Senate is considering allowing the police to pre-emptively seize your guns if someone files a 'red flag' report.
These laws allow law enforcement, and in some states, relatives and other concerned parties, to petition judges in order to temporarily restrict access to firearms from people who may be a harm to themselves or others.

Supporters of the laws say they can save lives by removing guns from individuals who should not have them. Some states have used the laws to successfully protect individuals from suicide, at least one study shows. Opponents of such laws say they violate the second amendment and say they do nothing to thwart the underlying issues causing the threat....

"I think passing a federal law is probably beyond what the market will bear. But creating an incentive at the federal level for states who want to go down this road...I think that's the best way, at least initially to solve this problem," [Sen.] Graham said.

Instead, he hopes to get a federal law enacted to incentivize states to create their own unique extreme risk laws.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat, said future red flag laws should include what amounts to be a progressive wish list of gun control measures, including universal background checks, closing the so-called Charleston loophole and banning assault weapons.

"To be clear, extreme risk gun laws are a vital part of that effort," Feinstein said.
I'm not entirely sure what I think about these laws. On the one hand, there have been several cases of school shooters, etc., who were repeatedly reported to police before they carried out their murders. It might make some sense to create a mechanism for handling cases like that. On the other hand, since they haven't yet committed any crime, seizing their property -- even temporarily -- would ordinarily be out of line for the government. And, of course, there's no reason to believe that the power to 'temporarily' seize your guns, until you satisfy the government that you're fit to retain them, won't be expanded and abused. The fact that Sen. Fenstein can't help but slaver over the additional measures she wants on top of this highlights the risk of letting this camel get its nose into the tent.

So on balance, I think I'm opposed to the idea, even though I can see why it might be a reasonable thing to want to do in some cases. However, my opposition is weaker than it usually is to gun control measures.

Green New Deal Shot Down

It may rise again, but it garnered zero "yea" votes in the Senate -- not even from its co-author, not even from its co-sponsors.

NBC reports this as "the Senate fails to advance Green New Deal."

Some Minor Changes in Boston

The law hasn't changed, but the prosecutor has taken it on herself to alter the way in which the law is applied.

Not that I'm a huge fan of laws, but it is traditional to consult the legislature before effectively legalizing things like shoplifting, larceny, wanton destruction of property, trespass, breaking and entering....

The part where she is personally to be immediately informed if any personnel suspect an ICE or Homeland Security agent may be attending court is a nice touch, too.

This is absolutely hysterical!

I know this is long, but please make it to at least 4:30.


I would prefer that you could come up with a way to improve the human body's ability to handle alcohol, rather than coming up with a substitute for alcohol; still, this is a potentially helpful field of research. Lots of people's lives would be improved by this.
What Nutt now knows is that there are 15 different Gaba receptor subtypes in multiple brain regions, “and alcohol is very promiscuous. It will bind to them all.” Without giving away his trade secrets, he says he has found which Gaba and other receptors can be stimulated to induce tipsiness without adverse effects. “We know where in the brain alcohol has its ‘good’ effects and ‘bad’ effects, and what particular receptors mediate that – Gaba, glutamate and other ones, such as serotonin and dopamine. The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”

Handily, you can modify the way in which a molecule binds to a receptor to produce different effects. You can design a peak effect into it, so no matter how much Alcarelle you consume, you won’t get hammered. This is well-established science; in fact Nutt says a number of medicines, such as the smoking cessation drug varenicline (marketed as Champix), use a similar shut-off effect. You can create other effects, too, while still avoiding inebriation, so you could choose between a party drink or a business-lunch beverage.

Coming up with the concept was the easy bit, says Nutt. Finding the right molecule was more challenging, “but the real challenge is taking that molecule to a drink. The regulatory side is much harder than the science.”
Now that I believe.

Chicago Justice

That actor who filed a fake hate crime report? All charges dropped, records sealed.

Many years ago there was a populist politician in Knoxville politics named Cas Walker. Dad used to tell stories about him. On his famous radio show, the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (which sometimes featured the likes of Roy Acuff), Cas would often complain about other local politicians. One time he was complaining about the police's new habit of running DUI checkpoints around Knoxville.

'This practice has got to stop,' Dad reported him having said. 'Some of our best citizens are getting caught up in these things.'

Apparently Chicago feels much the same way.

9th Circuit Court A Little Less Wobbly

These judicial picks are good news.

The Glaciers are Growing

It's been a tough week for the major narrative.

Maybe Next Lent

An Army vet loses 25 pounds on his Lenten fast.
When Lent began March 6, Hall initiated a fully liquid diet in order to become less dependent on fatty foods and sugar.

Only, the fluid he settled on consuming to provide his greatest sustenance is beer....

Hall’s fasting inspiration comes from 17th century Bavarian monks, he said, who would observe the holy time of Lent through fasting on a “Bock Beer Diet.”

“Fasting is a big part of being human and we don’t really do that anymore,” he said in a YouTube video documenting his progress. “It’s not necessarily about the weight loss as it is the challenge of replicating what the monks did" over a 46-day fast. “It’s about the journey and learning about yourself.”
I imagine a lot of that lost weight is muscle, though, because beer isn't a great source of protein.

C'mon, would it kill you to submit a little?

That which does not kill you is not a crime, unless it involves a plastic straw or hate speech that hurts feelz.

Trump was exonerated only in the Electoral College report

Kidding.  Sheesh, his readers do take things a little literally.

Below, at Elise's suggestion:

A Good Summary

Seppuku is an option, members of the press.
The betrayal narrative was not reported as metaphor. It was not “Trump likes the Russians so much, he might as well be a spy for them.” It was literal spying, treason, and election-fixing – crimes so severe, former NSA employee John Schindler told reporters, Trump “will die in jail.”

In the early months of this scandal, the New York Times said Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence; the Wall Street Journal told us our spy agencies were withholding intelligence from the new President out of fear he was compromised; news leaked out our spy chiefs had even told other countries like Israel not to share their intel with us, because the Russians might have “leverages of pressure” on Trump.

CNN told us Trump officials had been in “constant contact” with “Russians known to U.S. intelligence,” and the former director of the CIA, who’d helped kick-start the investigation that led to Mueller’s probe, said the President was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” committing acts “nothing short of treasonous.”

Hillary Clinton insisted Russians “could not have known how to weaponize” political ads unless they’d been “guided” by Americans. Asked if she meant Trump, she said, “It’s pretty hard not to.” Harry Reid similarly said he had “no doubt” that the Trump campaign was “in on the deal” to help Russians with the leak.
UPDATE: I just want to say one thing about this fiasco. The whole thing began with General Flynn, who was fired as NSA for having spoken to the Russian ambassador about a possible quid pro quo relationship going forward and then not reporting that fact to the Vice President. The fact that the Russians felt the need to pursue a relationship like that going forward meant that one wasn't already established prior to the election.

The original grounds of the investigation logically entailed an absence of pre-election collusion. That no intelligence officer would ever recruit a man like Donald Trump -- reckless, careless of speech, impulsive, undisciplined -- requires experience to know. That the Flynn accusations contradicted an already-established relationship should have been instantly apparent to anyone with clarity of thought.

Comey was fired, we think, because he wouldn't let go of an investigation that logic should have forestalled. Two years of investigation followed to try to establish what was clearly not the case, just based on the very thing that the Flynn investigation was supposedly about.

This is a huge failure of the press; it is a huge failure of the security state. But it is also a failure of our education system. What do they teach in these schools on which we spend so much money?