Bully in the Alley

This festival in New Hampshire seems like it still exists. It's in September. Perhaps?

Going to the Wild

Following my own recommendation, I went out to the Wild on Friday through today. There's some significant landscape in this photo. The highest peak you can make out is Clingman's Dome, which is the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one of the highest in the Eastern United States (Mount Mitchell, which you can see from atop it on a clear day, is slightly taller). The Appalachian Trail crosses there. If you're southbound, you'll climb three mountains that day to get to it, and then have a long decline to the closest shelter down by some springs below.

Back to the photo. If your eye should follow that ridge to the right, where the squiggly peaks are, the low point on the ridge is Newfound Gap. That's where the road between Gatlinburg and the Cherokee reservation passes. (Much of the valley you can see before the ridgeline is the Qualla Boundary Lands).

We'll pause for a musical interlude at the mention of Gatlinburg.

Far off to the left are the Unicoi mountains in Tennessee. The gap in the Clingman's Dome ridge headed that way is Deal's Gap, which is the location of the Tail of the Dragon, the most famous motorcycle road in the world.

I've ridden the Dragon quite a few times, but the hardest trip I ever had on it was in a Chevy whose power steering went out. I've seen guys ride right off the edge, though.

BB, Chickenhawk Edition

I'm not a big fan of the chickenhawk rhetorical move, but it's the Bee.

Aristotelian Warmup

While you're waiting for Tom's next post on the topic, here's something that turned up on Instapundit today. "Is human nature good or bad?" Since we talked about "the good" last week, the challenge (for those of you who wish to accept it) is to try to give an Aristotelian account of the answer. I think last week's discussion gave you enough mental furniture to do it.

I'll leave this for a few days and then come back and reply to any attempts. It's more important to think it through yourself than to have me tell you an answer.

"Pro-Choice" Socialism

Oliver Wendell Holmes smiles from beyond the grave.
A British judge ordered Friday that an abortion be performed on a mentally disabled woman who is 22 weeks pregnant, despite objections from the woman and her mother....

“I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn't want it is an immense intrusion,” the justice said. “I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination."

The unnamed woman, a Roman Catholic, reportedly has developmental disabilities and the mental age of a 6- to 9-year-old.... The woman’s mother, a former midwife, opposes the abortion procedure and told the court that she could take care of the child with the support from the daughter, Sky News reported.

A social worker who works with the woman also said the pregnancy should not be terminated.

But the judge said the woman didn’t have the mental capacity to make her own decisions even it look like she wanted to continue the pregnancy.
She doesn't have the mental capacity to make her own decisions about religion? The Church allows confirmation at seven, which is in the 'six to nine' age range, and the British government doesn't see fit to tell children they can't make that call yet. If she can make that decision for herself, then her opposition to abortion follows.

The British government is long due to be overthrown as a tyranny. This is just part of what an earlier set of over-throwers called "a long train of abuses." Lately, the worst abuses are all at home.

Dim bulbs

None of my bulbs are this smart.

Diminishing returns

Michigan's spending on roads increased even as road quality decreased.  I think we've seen this same trend in school spending.  Could there be a common thread?

Crime journalism

This report had to have been turned in by his partner, who's just jacking with him now.


It's time to go to the Wild, as you are able. Pentecost is gone, and if you remembered you re-swore your oaths. So now it comes summer, and knights ride out for adventure in the forest. One thing comes and another, but only if you go out to meet them.

So go, as you are able.

The Black Watch

It's one of the universal tartans, these days: anyone can wear it. Once it was not so.

An Invitation from a Polish MP

A propos a Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY) scurrilous remark and a post below, I offer this from a Polish Member of Parliament.

 It can be seen here, too, if that image isn't blow-up-able: https://twitter.com/D_Tarczynski/status/1141704905436160001/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1141704905436160001%7Ctwgr%5E393039363b636f6e74726f6c&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpjmedia.com%2Ftrending%2Fmember-of-polish-parliament-invites-ocasio-cortez-to-visit-real-concentration-camps%2F

Ocasio-Cortez won't trouble herself to visit the detention centers on our own border, though, so I doubt she'll do anything more than ridicule this invitation. If she has the grace to respond to it at all.

Eric Hines


Today is my twentieth wedding anniversary. My mother and father were wed forty-nine years, so potentially this is not even the halfway mark; although one never knows what Fate has in store. My wife has been around for all the best parts of my life, but also all of the hardest parts. Life has plenty of those, but the good parts can be good indeed.

Our wedding album looks different to me now. At the time I remember being annoyed by all the pictures for which they made us pose, and later I used to find the book fun to look at to remember the pleasure of the day. This year I am suddenly struck by how many of the attendees are no longer with us. Dad is gone and my uncle; my wife's mother and father and sister; my sister is still alive, but the boyfriend she brought to the wedding is gone. If we were to reassemble the wedding party it would be rather hollow, although children in the photos -- and others who have come along since -- are now young adults.

My best man was an Evangelical Marine, and the other two groomsmen were a Quaker who converted to Judaism after he learned his family had changed their names to hide their Jewishness when they immigrated, and a Scottish-American who had converted to Islam to escape alcoholism (this was before 9/11, remember). It was a dry wedding, as rural Georgia on a Sunday was required to be.

Oddly enough my Best Man and my wife's Matron of Honor are the only two of the wedding party we don't still talk with at least occasionally. Somehow the ones who seemed closest at the time are the ones who fell off.

The Havamal says to praise the day at evening, a weapon when proved, ice when crossed, and ale when it has been drunk. By that standard I can only say that the first twenty years were worthy. For twenty years, in hard times and in good ones, it was well.

Hot woke-on-woke action

The irresistible force of women who have suffered for years from grinding injustice in sports programs meets the immoveable mountain of the right of people who are lots stronger and faster because they are men but have the right to identify as women you bigot.

Wow, doxxing actually can be prosecuted

Remember the young fellow who doxxed Lindsay Graham and others in fury over the Kavanaugh hearings?  To my amazement, he has been tried and sentenced to four years in prison.  A promising career in burglary and hacking has been cut short.

Gee, I don't know

Why Do Conservatives Hate Oberlin So Much?  You have to admire the chutzpah of Salon's publishing an article with this title that makes no attempt whatever to look at or think about the college's behavior leading to the recent award of $33MM in damages for defamation.

China Sets the Example

Not a good example, again, except as an example of commitment to a bad idea: if you're going to build concentration camps, why not go all the way?
The tribunal found that "the Commission of Crimes Against Humanity against the Falun Gong and Uyghurs has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt," with the "torture of Falun Gong and Uyghurs" in addition to "forced organ harvesting," but stopped short of concluding that genocide had taken place. The tribunal left that open for further investigation: "There can be no doubt that there is a duty on those who have the power to institute investigations for, and proceedings at, international courts or at the UN to test whether Genocide has been committed."
Ask the Uyghurs how many of them are free to leave if they decide to go home.

By the way, China doesn't call its camps "concentration camps." It calls them "Thought Transformation Camps."

Illinois Sets the Example

Not a good example, mind, but the example.
An Illinois state lawmaker, during a town hall over a proposed ban on semiautomatic weapons, responded to a gun owner's questions about the bill by threatening to change the bill to call for outright confiscation of previously legally-obtained firearms, according to a video posted by the Illinois State Rifle Association.

The discussion was about Senate Bill 107, which would ban future purchases of semiautomatic guns and require those who keep previously purchased semiautomatics to pay a fine and register the weapon.
A fine for what? Having obeyed existing law?

The legislator's snooty answer tells me that she thinks she's the reasonable one, and that the peons should be grateful that she's considering allowing them to keep their property under any terms at all.

Concentration Camps

There is some debate about whether what is going on at the border is properly described as "concentration camps." This will be an unedifying debate.

Brittanica defines them as such:
Concentration camp, internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial.
On that model, arguably FDR's Japanese internment camps were American concentration camps; but so, then, were the reservations onto which the Native Americans were forced. However, the current camps are not, because anyone who wants to leave can go whenever they want to go -- provided they go home, to their own country, rather than coming into ours.

I gather that no one is being confined, except by their own choice to remain and not leave. Nor is it because of 'identification with a particular ethnic or political group,' as people from all over are showing up right now: not just Latin America but African migrants are appearing in large numbers at the southern border. The only thing that's putting you in such a camp is being a foreigner with no legal right to enter America, insisting on entering anyway, and then insisting on remaining even after you are caught. The only reason there are camps at all is that so many people are insisting on that -- hundreds of thousands of people, probably more than a million this year alone.

We are going to need a better answer than we've got, but it isn't going to be "suspend the laws, admit everyone, and pay whatever it costs." It's impossible even to estimate what it would cost, but the people proposing we pay whatever it is are also proposing free college, universal health care, Green New Deals, maybe a universal basic income... the promises are endless, but our resources are not, especially given that our political system can't even pass an ordinary budget half the time. You want Medicare for All? First show me how you're going to pay for the Medicare we have.

What If No One Told You That You Were Free?

Today is "Juneteenth," a celebration I hadn't heard of until recently -- but it's apparently as old as 1865 in places.
Laura Smalley, who was freed from a plantation near Bellville, Texas, remembered in a 1941 interview that her former master had gone to fight in the Civil War and came home without telling his slaves what had happened.

“Old master didn’t tell, you know, they was free,” Smalley said . “I think now they say they worked them, six months after that. Six months. And turn them loose on the 19th of June. That’s why, you know, we celebrate that day.”

It was June 19, 1865 when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his Union troops arrived at Galveston with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
I wonder what we might be free of, that we just haven't been told about yet? You don't have to do that anymore: maybe it's carrying a grudge against a family member, or drinking too much, or whatever else. You can stop. You are free. Just nobody told you.

Thought of that way, it's a universal story rather than a particular one. I'll bet we all have things like that.

Privateering We Will Go

Ranger Up has a new line of Ts celebrating the privateers that helped the US win its freedom from England.

Here's an appropriate tune, although from the other side.

Shocked, Shocked to Find That Gambling is Involved

A feud between tribe nations in the American southeast is going on right now. Senator Richard Burr writes:
Recently, a Native American tribe with deep historic ties to North Carolina announced its intent to purchase land across state lines for an “economic development” that could include a new casino. In order to put up a casino, the legislature would have to pass a measure allowing gambling on the site, but the legislation has already been introduced by the tribe’s political allies.

The tribe is the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the land in question is in Sevierville, Tennessee.

Yet here in North Carolina, the Cherokee are doing everything in their power to prevent the Catawba Tribe from acquiring land near Kings Mountain for “economic development” (also known as a casino). The episode is only the latest example of the Cherokee’s willingness to disenfranchise other tribes in order to protect their own lucrative gaming monopoly.
I really don't understand this casinos-on-reservations thing. Georgia has had several fights about this recently as well. There's no incentive to the state to permit it, since such casinos are exempt from both state and Federal taxes. Many Southerners object to gambling casinos in spite of the South's long tradition of poker-playing as, unlike poker, casinos are structurally unfair due to the house edge. Often Evangelicals regard gambling of any sort as morally corrupting, and ruinous to poor families.

The South has nevertheless in my lifetime increasingly endorsed state-run gambling, especially lotteries, because they produce revenue that can be used for purposes like education. I don't tend to object, given that all of this revenue is freely given rather than (like taxes) extorted at gunpoint. Still, if more casinos are something that would be good for Southern states to have, why not legalize casinos outright and then tax them? I can understand why the Catawba Tribe would want a tax-free casino, but why should the rest of the citizenry go along with it?

Aristotle's Ethics: The Good

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Hillsdale College's free online course on Aristotle's Ethics, taught by Larry P. Arnn. Since our host seems to know a bit about Aristotle (ahem), I thought I would bring discussion questions here. The focus of the course is appropriately the Nicomachean Ethics, but there are readings in other works as well.

I don't plan to just rehash the lessons. Instead, I will take thoughts and questions the lesson sparked in me, develop them a bit, and bring them here for discussion. I am going through one lesson each week. If time allows, I will then post one discussion topic here each week. I will also include a link to the lesson at Hillsdale’s website.

There is a key point in the first lesson that I think will bear on all of the lessons. In the third chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle plainly states that we can't be equally precise in all things (e.g., physics vs. history vs. justice). He acknowledges that topics such as the beautiful, justice, and goodness involve great disagreement and depend on convention, and in fact can include inconsistencies, as some things considered good can result in harm. Therefore, "one ought to be content ... to point out the truth roughly and in outline," and in general when speaking and reasoning about things that are true for the most part, to reach conclusions that are also true for the most part. This seems quite reasonable to me.

One last point before we get started is that my goal in these 10 lessons is to understand Aristotle’s ideas. As such, I don’t plan to spend much time trying to pick them apart. I learn by trying to apply, so my discussion topics will focus more on trying to apply or extend Aristotle's ideas than on whether or not I agree with Aristotle. Once I feel like I have a reasonable understanding, I might then try to pick some of his ideas apart, but I want to understand first. You, on the other hand, should feel free to attack his ideas right away. That's your business.

I'll get to the first lesson, "The Good," under the fold.

Cruel luck, hard times

I always knew my maternal grandfather (born 1886) had a shockingly hard childhood after he and his elder sister were orphaned in Chicago in the early 1890s, both parents dying within a month of each other.  My sister, who has bitten by the genealogy bug, figured out a while back that they had a maternal grandfather in California, and she always wondered why the family didn't hear what had happened and somehow take them in.  Instead, my grandfather ended up being hired out to do farm labor for other families while he was still quite young.  His sister went to an orphanage.  I knew that my grandfather, whom I never met, was a singularly hardened man in adult life.  He died when I was still quite young, so estranged from my mother (who predeceased him by a few years) that he didn't attend her funeral.

My sister has dug up an 1891 article from an San Diego newspaper that explains a little:
Asa White [my maternal grandfather's maternal grandfather], a well-to-do rancher living near Otay [California], died suddenly about one o'clock yesterday morning at the residence of his friend, John B. Palmer, at 1157 State street.
Mr. White had written for his daughter [my grandfather's mother] and son-in-law in Chicago to come to California. They were preparing to do so, when his daughter was run over by an omnibus in that city, from the effects of which she died. The husband then intended to bring the two children and come on, but was taken ill and died within twenty days after his wife's death. There being no relatives in Chicago, friends put the two children, a girl of seven and a boy of five years [my grandfather], on the train, and they came through, safely arriving [in San Diego] at 8 o'clock Monday night. They were met at the train by their grandfather, Mr. White, and taken to the residence of Mr. Palmer, an old friend, where the three were to pass the night and get an early start in the morning for home, where the children would find a home in the loving arms of tender hearted grandma. During the night Mr. Palmer heard a strange sound emanating from the room occupied by Mr. White, and entering, found him speechless and gasping, and he breathed but twice after Mr. Palmer's entrance. Dr. Magee was summoned, but of course could do nothing. The body was removed to undertaking parlors, where the post mortem and inquest was held at 10 o'clock. The verdict was death from heart disease. Mrs. White was notified, and is grief stricken over the sudden death of her aged partner, Mr. White being almost 70 years of age. They have another daughter married to one of the cooks at the Commado hotel. The funeral will take place on Thursday.
Who knows what happened then? What became of "tender hearted grandma," widow of the aged well-to-do rancher?  She was a second wife, no blood relation to the orphaned children.  Somehow the children ended up back in Kansas without a dime, where distant relatives or friends made some effort to provide for them. I don't know whether that happened right away, but it can't have been much more than a few years later, because by the age of 12 or so my grandfather was already a hired farm hand in Kansas and my grandmother was in an orphanage. We've never found out what became of her.

Mother, father, distant would-be rescuing grandfather, all dead within a month.  What those children must have thought!  These events cast long shadows in my family.

A Song of Faraway Wars

The wars were getting bigger, three hundred years ago.

War has great days, when a man can change his station in an hour. We think of the 'gentling' Shakespeare mentions, but it was well true through the Spanish wars of reconquest in the Middle Ages. If you wanted to be a knight, and weren't born to it, you could still yet become one on the frontier. If you wanted to be free, or to marry the beloved other your families refused, you could do it on the frontier. You just had to be ready to fight. So too at periods in England's history, and in our own. You could make your own way, on the frontier.

More famously, recently, this title "Over the Hills and Faraway" belongs to a Led Zeppelin song.

It's not quite the same idea at all. And yet...