Religious Freedom, Exceptis Excipiendis

Apropos of nothing, Sanders brought up an essay Vought had written as an alumnus of Wheaton College. The Christian school had fired a professor for a Facebook post in which she announced that she would wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims for a season. In an article in response, Vought wrote out a basic Christian tenet: that people cannot know God except through Jesus. "Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology," he wrote. "They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his son, and they stand condemned."

Sanders repeatedly read this passage back to Vought during his confirmation hearing, at one point accusing him of perpetuating Islamophobia.

“In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible. It is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders said. “This country, since its inception, has struggled, sometimes with great pain, to overcome discrimination of all forms … we must not go backwards.”
In fairness, I'm pretty sure that even the Pope no longer believes that statement.

Homeric Hometowns

Now this is a pretty cool map.

Would Putin Like President Sanders?

Michelle Goldberg thinks that he would not.
[Sanders'] unlikely ascendance would be a blow against the corrosive cynicism in which authoritarianism thrives. America would be the country where young people of all races powered a campaign that proved stronger than plutocracy, stronger than nationalist demagogy, stronger than any of the tools that men like Putin have used to bring liberalism to its knees. To young idealists around the world, America would look — dare I say it — great again.

Building a multiracial social democracy is one of the great political challenges of our time. Few nations on earth have figured out how to create, in heterogenous populations, the solidarity needed to sustain a robust public sphere. Putin has exploited this difficulty, stoking tribal fears in countries with changing demographics to make liberalism look like a form of social dissolution.

If enough Americans unite across racial lines to replace Trump with a Jewish socialist, it might mean that our country is figuring out how to transcend the illiberalism of our age. I still find it difficult to believe that Sanders can pull it off. But if he does, Putin won’t be pleased for long.
In a piece arguing against calling people Russian assets, including Sanders, some reasons to think that Putin might be pleased.
If we look at who is actually doing Russia’s work — dividing Americans against one another with these suggestions of foreign influence — it turns out that these journalists are much better candidates for ‘Russian agents’ than any of the politicians (excepting Ms. Clinton, who is right there with the journalists advancing irresponsible rhetoric). I do not say this to accuse them, or anyone, of being a Russian agent. What I mean to say is that Putin has more reason to be happy because major TV networks are accusing the winner of the Nevada caucus of being a spy than he has reason to feel good about Bernie Sanders having won.

Bernie Sanders’ election might possibly be good for Russia insofar as he is able to make good on his campaign rhetoric to undercut America’s energy exports. Russia’s economy and much of its geopolitical power derives chiefly from its energy exports, especially to Europe. Sanders’ desire to cut American exports would drive up prices for energy in the global market, enriching Russia, and make Europe much more dependent than currently on Russian gas and oil. Sanders’ stated desire to cut American military spending would probably also delight the Russians. Yet none of those policies is being advanced by Sanders because they would help Russia. He wants to cut energy exports because he believes it will help the climate; he wants to cut military spending as a believer in a longstanding left-liberal/progressive critique of America as warlike and imperialistic. Any benefit to Russia is coincidental.
So what's more harmful to Putin's Russia and its interests? Hope and aspirations for multi-racial democracies? Or the loss of oil and gas monopolies?

Fake News Today

BB: Russians declare election too chaotic for them to successfully intervene.

TO: (Slideshow) Guide to the 2020 Democratic Candidates.

DB: SEALs quietly end relationship with PR firm behind 'bad boy' media campaign.


Jim Geraghty cautions against complacency, but still believes the "socialist" flag is voting-booth poison in November:
Democrats, perhaps because they differ from the rest of the electorate in their feelings about socialism, are bad at estimating how socialism would play in a general election. Two weeks ago, in the Yahoo News poll, a 49 percent plurality of Democrats said most, nearly all, or about half of Americans would consider voting for a presidential candidate who called himself a democratic socialist. The guess was incorrect. According to the same poll, only 35 percent of voters said they’d consider voting for such a candidate. Democrats got it wrong.
Democrats think that the socialist label is harmless because it has no negative connotation to them and in their circles.

Piercello's Theory of Consensus Argumentation

Our old friend Piercello, whom some of you may remember for his three-factor theory of human nature and his theory of aesthetics, dropped by to ask for some thoughts on a new theory that successful argumentation depends on consensus. It's a short argument if you want to read it.

I have some things to say about it.

1) The kind of argument he is describing is deductive logic. There are other kinds of arguments, but I think they are even more susceptible to the charge he is bringing. Non-logical forms of argument, for example persuasion by appeal to emotion, are even more dependent on 'a consensus about how things should be done' than deduction. I don't actually have to share your feelings -- certainly I don't have to experience them -- to appeal to them. But I do have to understand how you feel in order to frame an argument that will successfully motivate you to action in the way I desire. Induction is already a problematic form of argument, really more a form of guesswork than a proper proof, but that makes it also more subject to consensus about what kinds of guesses we're allowed to make. (Usually: "It's a proper inductive proof if and only if it is based on a random sample from a proper set; if and only if it is repeatable from a number of randomly selected elements from the set," etc. But this still depends on a consensus idea of what 'a proper set' entails, a question that is easy in mathematics or strict logic, but quite hard in practical reality.)

2) Deduction is a limited form of argument, though, because it is incapable of discovering anything. What deduction allows you to do is to prove that since you know X, you also know Y. It's a form of realization, in other words, rather than discovery of new facts about reality. The most classic example of a deductive proof is this one:

Assumption: Socrates is a man.
Assumption: All men are mortal.
∴ Socrates is mortal.

If the assumptions are true, the conclusion follows. The reason it follows isn't actually the one, Piercello, that you're suggesting. It's not that I have chosen a methodology that you agree is valid, based on a standard that you agree is reasonable, which was chosen by method... etc. The reason it follows is that the truth is contained in the assumptions. What the deduction is doing is helping us realize that we know the conclusion because we know the facts in the assumptions. Nothing new is really being added. Something new is being recognized.

Now if your point is rhetorical, it may be that you're correct about the necessity of consensus. In other words, if the argument is that I can only convince you of the conclusion if you agree to the methodology of deductive logic, that might be right. If the point is not rhetorical but logical, however, it is not right. Because deduction is only recognition of the truths I also know from what I already know, the argument is valid whether or not I like it or agree to it.

Notice by the way that the classic syllogism isn't really subject to the third line of attack you mention ("You've cherry-picked your evidence"). Assuming those two assumptions turn out to be factually accurate, the conclusion follows no matter what new assumptions you add to the pot. The only new information that could alter the conclusion is information that invalidates one of the assumptions (e.g., "Socrates is not a man but a god"). Otherwise, the conclusion holds whatever else you add ("All ravens are black"; "Some men are very long-lived"; etc).

There you go.

Well, I Appreciate Your Honesty

Headline: “We Can't Have a Feminist Future Without Abolishing the Family.”

That does clarify things. Now we just have to sort out whether feminism or the family is of greater value. I imagine that even if we left the decision entirely to women, family would come out easily on top.

Mauhuffer Filmed a Commercial

Oddly enough, since I just mentioned the place, they are pushing out a test commercial to see if people think it might draw business. They wisely picked a night when the band was 50s+, which gives the place a veneer of harmlessness as you watch the similarly-aged dancers.

Here is a bit from a night I might have almost been present, except that it was in November and I left after the summer. But I heard this band do this song, which is a better take on an old Waylon Jennings song than Waylon ever did himself. Sadly the recording is substandard, but it would have been hard to record under the best of circumstances. Watch the neon beer signs vibrate under the weight of the sound.

Trans Purge in UK

It's just the Labour Party, which is at its smallest size in a generation so why not purge some of the few 'remain'ing members?

A Ridiculous Overreaction?

The Chinese authorities continue to treat the virus as a serious problem:
...when we got to Starbucks, the employees wouldn’t let us in. Instead, we were told to order our drinks through the Starbucks app from outside the store. While we waited for our lattes, the employees took our temperatures and recorded our information at the door....

The following week the restrictions grew tighter and it wasn’t as easy for us to get out of our neighborhood.... Then roadblocks went up on main thoroughfares....

Then walls were put up. They were on all the side streets of our neighborhood, blocking every way out except for two main entrances.... At about the same time the walls were put up, a curfew was imposed: no one in or out from midnight to 6 a.m....

Then a few days ago, everyone in the neighborhood had to register with a local committee and get a special pass that we now must show to get into our neighborhood. If you don’t have a pass, you cannot get in....

Everything we read and hear maintains that the virus is not an imminent threat to us. Relative to the millions of people in our city, a tiny number of people have gotten sick; far fewer have died. But our effort to be rational about the threat does not really help. The scale of the response seems like an overreaction — or it suggests that things are much worse than we are being told. We have a lot of time on our hands to wonder which it is.

Good News from Oklahoma

An attempt to impose new gun carry licenses fails there. So far the lines are holding imperfectly, but much better than might have been expected in the wake of the 2018 election.

The Sin of the Angels

Wretchard today:
[T]here is in this ruthless idealism the danger of what St Augustine called the sin of angels. "It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels." Pride makes failure the world's fault rather than a defect in the perfect plan. Pride removes the possibility of error under the guise of good intentions. While most doctors, engineers or a developers know that failure means a bug or flaw somewhere -- and back to the drawing board that's not how ideology works. Ideology works by an imposition of the will legitimized by the purity of intention. A perfect plan is rejected only be because the public is unworthy of it.

Yeah, Sure

"Russia backs Trump's re-election, according to classified briefing to lawmakers."

Yeah, I'm sure they definitely want four more years of Trump bankrupting their energy industry, when they could have any of the Democrats shut down fracking and oil exports. Probably they're excited to re-elect the guy who gave Ukraine Javelin missiles to foil their tanks, too. No doubt that's exactly what those clever Russians are banking on getting themselves more of this year.

Happy "Vet Girls" RISE Day!

Actually, apparently it was yesterday.  I only heard about it today because of some very angry female veterans I know who don't much like the name.
On February 19, National Vet Girls RISE Day recognizes the immense dedication of the nearly 2 million U.S. veteran women.

On National Vet Girls RISE Day, not only is it a day to recognize women veterans, but it’s a day for women veterans to support one another and to share resources, build relationships and spread awareness concerning the needs of women veterans.
To me the weirdest thing about the name is the completely unexplained all-caps "RISE." Is that an acronym? If so, for what? If not, what's it doing there?

But it's definitely the "Vet Girls" thing that bugs the, uh, ladies.

Human nature?

Why is it that we consider predators our closest companions?  I'm speaking primarily of cats and dogs.  Oh sure, some people have a pet rat, or rabbit, or bird.  And some people love their horses, I don't dispute it.  But for our companion animals, the ones we give free rein in our own homes, people mainly turn to hunters.  I wonder (as I certainly do not know) if it's because we can see ourselves in them, identify with them on some level, or if it's something else.  Maybe it originally was because they managed the pests we cannot hunt ourselves, and helped up hunt the prey we can.  But I can't help but wonder if there's something more there.  We never bonded with goats, sheep, oxen, cows, chickens, or even pigs (as intelligent and full of personality as they are) in the way we did with cats and dogs.

I have to believe there was something that took them from "just another domesticated animal" to "furry family members".  And I honestly cannot shake the feeling that their carnivorous/predatory nature has something to do with it.  So I'd really like to hear the Hall's thoughts on the matter.

Behind the look

But enough about Bloomberg's debate performance, which at least featured a much-needed rejection of communism.  The real problem with this nanny-state bully is his history, not just of seedy personal relations but of political philosophy and policies backed by whatever political power he could amass:
In order to (inconsistently) enforce this labyrinth of red tape, Bloomberg effectively turned the police into a task force on petty vice, sending them to write up people for harmless offenses (a move their union loudly protested). In a 2004 piece for Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens set out on a crime spree across New York where he tried to break as many of these enforced regulations as possible. This meant not just lighting up in a bar, but sitting on a milk crate ($105 fine for a Bronx man), feeding pigeons (summons for an 86-year-old), and riding a bike without both feet on the pedals. Strangely, though considered crimes against humanity in Bloombergistan, these particular infractions had nothing to do with public health. What they did have to do with was fines, which were then used to fill city coffers, authoritarianism in the service of deficit cutting. This enabled Bloomberg to boast about his fiscal responsibility even as he presided over a hefty expansion of the city’s budget.
And it’s here that we approach the heart of the Bloomberg ethos, as well as a crucial distinction in our politics. Bloomberg is the opposite of a libertarian, yet he defines himself as a “fiscal conservative and social liberal.” Often confused, these two terms are fundamentally different. Libertarianism is concerned with the liberty and dignity of the individual, whereas “fiscal conservative and social liberal” has less philosophical connective tissue. Under its shotgun marriage of terms, “social liberal” can mean, as Bloomberg once told a pregnant subordinate, “kill it,” while “fiscal conservative” can mean reducing people to piggy banks in order to feed finances. What links them is the flowchart. Children are bad for efficiency; so are smokers, drinkers, and fast food diners. This is the ideology of the corporate boardroom. It’s dehumanizing, in that it flattens people into mere budget figures and values of life expectancy.

Not a good look

From Jim Gerraghty on last night's debate:
The former mayor got a little better as the night went on and mostly bad debate performances can be wiped away with another $400 million or so in television ads. But the bottom line of last night is that Bloomberg is what his critics charge: a billionaire who’s been so used to running everything around him for so long that he freezes when someone challenges him and gets in his face. On top of that, he’s a cold fish. He radiates the warmth and empathy of the head of a DMV office. Bloomberg’s convinced he never did anything wrong regarding any of his female employees, and he can’t understand why anyone would think otherwise. 

Good News in Washington State

Gun control bills fail in both chambers. Raven should be happier today.

REH Was Right: Ancient Civilization in Ukraine

This time it’s a kind of city perhaps six thousand years old, before the rise of even the most ancient known religions.

Nobody Cares if Nobody Likes You

All right, you asked for it. Here's the first cut I've managed to work out.
Park your bike and walk into the old bar
Breaking bread with brothers over brew,
Some politician's up there on the TV
Thinks he's gonna tell us what to do.

Hey! Nobody cares if nobody likes you,
You want no guns, no booze, and lots of tax?
We don't know you, and we do not like you
Free men don't have to heed, and that's a fact.
Yeah, nobody cares, if nobody likes you.

Now some guy comes round and wants to butt in
And you know, I think that you just won't.
You're loud and proud and you are uninvited,
So why not remove yourself so that we don't?

Yeah, nobody cares, if nobody likes you.
I did not come here to make new friends.
We don't know you, and we do not like you,
So best that you accept that's how it ends.
Cause nobody cares if nobody likes you.

Now that guy goes down to hit on women,
And down the bar it looks the same as well.
They're too polite to say, else too frightened,
But you can see that they wish he'd go to hell.

Buddy! Nobody cares if nobody likes you.
Those women don't owe you any time.
They don't know you, and they do not like you.
Back off of them and let them drink their wine.
Yeah, nobody cares if nobody likes you.

You know not all those ladies really like me either,
Some do not approve of knives and bikes;
They're free to pick, but I did not ask them,
I live my life exactly how I like.

I don't really care if no one likes us.
We don't ask advice from those who don't;
You're free to disapprove, it's just not for you.
Don't try to make us change, because we won't.
And nobody cares if we do not like you.

It's a big old country, and we don't have to be friends;
We can just leave one another be.
You go your way, my road will take me onward,
There's room for each of us to go on free.

So nobody cares if nobody likes you,
You'll have to earn whatever friends you trust.
It's no one's problem if you don't prove worthy,
You'll have to make that right just how you must.
Nobody cares if nobody likes you.
UPDATE: It occurs to me that I should tell you how to sing it. This is my first attempt at writing a song that wasn't meant to entertain children (or to amuse a girl, when I was younger). I set it to David Allan Coe's basic approach, but it's not a straight theft of his tune; in my head different parts of the song are employed in different lines. Here's the song again.

You'll notice there are four-line verses and a five-line chorus. The chorus is meant to be sung to the part of the DAC tune that begins "My long hair just can't cover up my red neck." The four-line verses are meant to be sung to the part of the tune that opens it, "Country DJs all think I'm an outlaw..." but it's shorter, so you just swap to the chorus part when you get there. Definitely imagine a steel guitar twanging in the background.

As a side note, the DAC tune is deceptively sophisticated. There are about six things going on there musically, even though on the surface it's just a song about 'bikers staring at cowboys, who are laughing at the hippies, who are praying they'll get out of here alive.' Supposedly it's a song about an unsophisticated redneck, and DAC clearly scared the other Outlaw Country singers with his approach to life, but in fact the tune shows a great deal of skill. I do feel better that he admits having stolen part of the tune himself, in that recording, from Tom T. Hall. I first heard it in a dive bar near Tampa called Mauhuffers, which was the perfect place for this particular song.

Election time

March 3 is the Texas primary.  In my little county, the focus isn't on the presidential contest--a foregone conclusion in this deep-red community--or even on the state races, most of which are not realistically contested at the primary level, at least on the Republican side.  The focus is on a handful of county races, which in this county are decided at the primary stage given the small local Democratic party's habit of not fielding any candidates.  When November comes around, we almost never have any contested races for county positions.

This makes for a brief election season, kicked off in December with the filing deadline and finishing up in early March or, at the latest, in May with the run-offs.  This spring it's all two-person races, so we'll be spared a run-off.

The big political event for us this year is that we have at long last a chance to express a view about our County Attorney, who also is our only prosecutor.  In August 2017 she got into a feud with the police force for the county's only town of any size, which led her to boycott prosecuting any of their cases for years.  Recently she's begun to prosecute a few, but given her tendency to announce "not ready for trial" repeatedly, then to dismiss cases, it's not meaning that much to us.

For reasons known only to herself, within the last couple of months she picked a fight with the Sheriff's office.  Now, it was one thing to feud with the city police department, because the city officials, for some reason, are not really tied into the county's old-guard establishment.  The Sheriff is another story.  I don't know the guy well, but he seems to be a fairly regular guy with considerable integrity.  Certainly he's got better credibility than the County Attorney--not that you couldn't say that of most people.  Anyway, it looks as though she finally picked a fight she was unlikely to win.  A week and a half ago she threatened to indict him, in public, at a large gathering.  She's turned coy now and said she won't answer questions about it, because it would be improper to comment publicly on a potential indictment.  That's rich considering the public nature of the threat.

I'm watching the whole thing with unusual interest.  My interest is piqued in part because I really think we deserve a better prosecutor, and we went to a lot of trouble to line up a good challenger and unite behind her.  It's also because there are a couple of good challengers for two seats on the 5-member Commissioners Court.  My life on the court will be more pleasant if I have a couple of allies who will be reliable support on issues of transparency in government.

A fourth race is a peculiar one.  Our soon-to-retire Tax Assessor-Collector has endorsed her chief deputy clerk as successor.  Normally this would be a no-brainer for me, as I know nothing against either the current official or her designated successor.  On the other hand, the successor is a perfectly ordinary bureaucrat, whereas a good friend chose to run against her on an eccentric and rather inspiring platform.  He knows, of course, that the tax office is mostly ministerial and has next to no policy leeway.  Nevertheless, he wants to follow a growing trend among Texas tax offices in pushing citizen education about tax and appraisal issues, especially in deciphering the appraisal protest and exemption processes.

I've been thinking about why his candidacy appeals to me so much, wondering if it's just because he's a friend.  I think it's that he's a dedicated and thoughtful libertarian who puts endless effort into going door to door in every election trying to engage people in a very interesting political debate.  There's an idealism there I don't see often.  He has faith in people and doesn't fear rejection, even when rejection hurts.

I'm pretty sure what I'm connecting with is an echo of the old Borderlands Scots-Irish culture.  If the Nazis were coming over the hill, this certainly would be the guy you wanted to stand with.  Should he be running the tax office?  Well, all I can say is I'd like to see more people like him in government.  Citizens of courage are the only real bulwark between us and even the petty variety of tyranny.

I'll watch it

I've found I rarely can go wrong with a Chris Pratt flick.

Forgiveness not Permission

A USMC pilot dies and is remembered for the time he was almost courtmartialed.

A Mild Rebuke

In the High Court this morning, Mr Justice Julian Knowles ruled that the police had been disproportionate in the action they took against Harry Miller, a former police officer and a shareholder in a plant and machinery company in Lincolnshire, when they recorded as a “non crime hate incident” a series of disobliging comments he had tweeted about transgender issues.

A New Candidate for Beserkergang

The most well-attested candidate in the literature is ergot, but another option is being floated in the media today: herbal tea.

The Gentle and Joyous Passage of Arms of Daytona

Thus ended the memorable field of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, one of the most gallantly contested tournaments of that age; for although only four knights, including one who was smothered by the heat of his armour, had died upon the field, yet upwards of thirty were desperately wounded, four or five of whom never recovered. Several more were disabled for life; and those who escaped best carried the marks of the conflict to the grave with them. Hence it is always mentioned in the old records, as the Gentle and Joyous Passage of Arms of Ashby.
They Daytona 500 fortunately did not kill anyone this year, but it came damn close.

This wasn't even the largest wreck, just the most spectacular. Fortunately the driver, Ryan Newman, is reported to be alive with serious but non-lifethreatening injuries.

Here was the big one:

Now all this might seem like an odd sport to want to be involved with, unless you understand the history of passages of arms. Or the rodeo, which regularly kills and maims and cripples men who nevertheless will nearly bankrupt themselves to follow the circuit. Honor and glory, and sometimes the grave.

Well, did you want to live forever?

UPDATE: Newman has been released from the hospital, walking under his own power.

Plagues, Locusts... Frogs?

China continues to have a difficult winter.

More on Judy Shelton

From John Tamny at RealClear Markets: "The economics profession is increasingly ridiculous, and so is the Fed ridiculous." Re interest rates and the Fed’s role:
Shelton is too smart to believe that price controls work. That’s why her modern stance in favor of so-called Fed ease is so easy to read as politics in play. If we ignore what’s true, that the Fed can’t control access to credit in the first place, the idea that it could expand credit access by lowering the Fed funds rate is as silly as the belief that artificially low apartment rent controls will lead to apartment abundance. No, not at all. And the Fed can’t create easy credit. Shelton knows this. Politics is once again at work, and that’s ok. The Fed has long been a politicized institution, and so it remains under President Trump. It says here that Shelton doesn’t need to compromise her views on the dollar and interest rates, but she knows her own situation better than yours truly.

Excellent News From Virginia

Due to the tireless work of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the patriots among the citizenry of the Old Dominion, the flagship “assault weapons” ban has been sent to die in committee.

Unfortunately it will be back next year, but some breathing room has been won.

Lost City Discovered

Ancient Greek on this occasion.

Second look at coronavirus origin conspiracy theory?

I guess the story isn't going to go away.

Asheville Celtic Festival

"Cimmerian" is a word that Howard borrowed from the Odyssey, a cognate to "Cymric" which led him to write that "the Gaels, ancestors of the Irish and Highland Scots, descended from pure-blooded Cimmerian clans." So it is appropriate that these oft-grey and misty mountains, similar to his poetic description of Cimmeria, hosted a festival of which Conan would have been proud.

There were fighting demonstrations, a small-scale Scottish Highland Games heavy athletics competition, cattle and dogs -- a great number of Irish wolfhounds were present -- beer and mead, and a lot of music and dancing. One of the bands in attendance was Albannach, on tour of the United States from their Scottish homeland.

Glory in the Pictish Wilderness

A “life of feasting, drinking, gaming, and riches” in an ancient hilltop fort.

Oppressing the 0.02%

The WSJ publishes a controversial opinion on sex, to whit, that it is real.
To characterize [the argument that human sex/gender is 'on a spectrum'] as having no basis in reality would be an egregious understatement. It is false at every conceivable scale of resolution....

In humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth 99.98% of the time. The evolutionary function of these two anatomies is to aid in reproduction via the fusion of sperm and ova....

Sex is binary.
It's actually a little stronger than the pull quote, for those who can get past the WSJ paywall. That's the heart of it, though.

A Younger View of Conan

Ehsan Knopf is an Australian filmmaker who was diagnosed late with Asperger's, who also made a short film about discovering Robert E. Howard. I think he must be a decade or so younger than me, and is definitely younger than some of you; this is suggested by the age of his childhood favorite TV show (1992), and also by the fact that he thinks that Game of Thrones is the thing that proves that the Fantasy genre can handle deeper themes and more complex characters than it always does.

It's interesting to see how the next generation encounters something like Howard and Conan. You may also learn some things about Robert Howard, and about L. Sprague de Camp's stewardship (or plundering, as some think) of Howard's legacy.

Of course I will also take the opportunity to remind everyone of our comrade Joel Leggett's piece on Conan as an American mythology (somewhat mis-headlined by the publisher, as sometimes happens, but it's the focus of that particular journal).

Meanwhile in NYC...

Mike Bloomberg is also making public appearances.

I've been kind of waiting to see what Bloomberg would come up with that was his explanation of what he wanted to accomplish by running. Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" explained with simple clarity exactly what the point of his candidacy was. Barack Obama's "Change you can believe in" -- usually with "CHANGE" in big letters and the rest in much smaller print -- was likewise a simple and easy to grasp explanation of the logic of his candidacy. After eight years of George W. Bush, people had an appetite for something different. He promised change, and in fairness he delivered more of it than I'd have liked.

Bloomberg I think gives his message in this clip:

"Maybe I can get the whole country to behave!"

He is the candidate of government limits on what size sodas you can buy and mandatory stop-and-frisk searches by police without probable cause. He's the candidate who thinks he knows better than you, and wants to be the nanny for all of America. He wants you to behave.

I don't think he knows much about America. But I know about people like him.

"The Beast" at the Daytona 500

I haven't watched a NASCAR race since Dad died, but when I was young it was on most every weekend. I was watching when Dale Earnhardt slammed the black #3 car into the wall at Daytona and died as he'd lived. I was watching when Mike Rich was crushed between Bill Elliot's car and another that lost control in the pits. Those moments stand out because of the fatalities; I've seen more car crashes than I could count, but none of them stand out as much as those two.

Today, Donald Trump decided to take the Presidential limo out for a ride.

I have a feeling Dad would have had mixed feelings about Trump, but not entirely negative ones. He would have liked this, I think.

UPDATE: I'm pretty sure Dad would have loved the speech. Dad was a God and Country man. And apparently our friend Dave Bellavia was there.

UPDATE: On the subject of stock car racing, congratulations to the boys at Black Rifle Coffee for having the car they co-sponsor with Bass Pro Shops come in first in yesterday's race.

He's not a "socialist" socialist

As Sanders continues to dominate the polls, progressive commentators and Never Trumpers (assuming those are genuinely different) increasingly try to explain that Sanders isn't really all that radical. You know, he spouts off about stuff, but what he really wants is a few non-radical gestures towards being nice and sharing stuff, because he's realistic enough to know he can't get his real priorities through Congress. As David Harsanyi puts it: “Vote Bernie: He’s got tremendously unpopular positions that will never pass!” Harsanyi points out that "Enacting massive regulatory schemes that dictate what you can buy and what you can sell and how much you can sell it for is as good as controlling the means of production." It might be a good idea to take the guy at his word.

Guess the Line of Business: Noble Victory, Tom

The answer was of course that most hipster of all businesses: the craft brewery with ironic symbolism.

If you’re ever again asked to guess about a business in Asheville, pick brewery or brew pub first. Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other American city.

DSSOLVR distinguishes itself not only by demonic imagery, but also by breeding a full range of brews: not just beer but also mead, cider, and wine. I stopped in to see if any eldritch terrors needed slaying. The beer is not bad.

The artwork is Tolkien themed, with an eye for the Sauronic. Apparently my wife knows the artist.

“The Dragon”


In addition to the bike, I also have a Jeep for those times when the roads are impassable or I just need too much stuff. I’ve had it in my garage for some minor repairs lately, which kept it out of the downpour we had all last week. Today was beautiful—sunny and forty degrees—so I took some time to put it back together and clean it up.

I figured I had better get a picture so the wife would believe that I had actually gotten it clean. With all the mud we’ve got right now it’ll be filthy the next time I drive it.

The Gold Standard

Trump challenges the prevailing wisdom again, this time in pushing Judy Shelton for the Federal Reserve Board.
This mystery bedevils central banks. Productivity—the ability of workers to produce goods and services of real value to others ever more efficiently—is the indispensable ingredient for prosperity. Orthodox theory predicts that lower interest rates should stimulate more investment, and more investment should stimulate more productivity.
Yet since President Nixon slammed shut the gold window in 1971, interest rates broadly have fallen and Wall Street has become hyperactive alongside a declining rate of Main Street productivity growth. Only occasional tax reforms and the 1990s computer revolution have reversed that overarching trend, but never permanently and never to the level that obtained midcentury.
* * *
Recent academic research suggests she’s correct. Economists at major central banks and elsewhere have studied the extent to which capital mispricing by central banks (they don’t always put it that way, but that’s what they’re describing) depresses productivity growth, whether by allowing larger firms to crowd out more-productive upstart competitors or sustaining zombie companies or any of a host of other mechanisms.

Second Chance: Guess the Line of Business

I'm going to post the answer tomorrow, but I'll wait until late to make sure everyone who wants to has a chance to try. If you understand the kind of neighborhood, the answer ends up being very obvious. A further clue: it's not any of the types of businesses mentioned in the post, neither there nor in West Asheville.

Canada Undertakes Gawain's Quest

Pity the poor fools of the Canadian Armed Forces.
A military study group spent three years trying to figure out what will entice more women to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The group called the “Tiger Team” was tasked with finding out where the military could do a better job of getting women to want to enroll and the results included things like referring to medals as “bling,” and more fashionable uniforms like “shorter, tighter skirts” and “more stylish shoes,” according to in a piece published Wednesday.
They should have read Chaucer.
'Thou standest yet,' quod [Guinevere], 'in swich array,
That of thy lyf yet hastow no suretee.
I grante thee lyf, if thou canst tellen me
What thing is it that wommen most desyren?'
Gawain at least came up with an answer that satisfied his own woman. My sense is that accomplishing that much is the most that any man can do with the question.

Fake News Today

"I just don't know if that was entirely fair," she commented afterward. "I'm all for equality and stuff, but I dunno -- the beard might have given her an advantage."
But of course! That is the nature of beards.

Adultery is Good, You Say?

If only your marriage was 'a little gayer,' the NYT says, it would be happier too! By 'gayer' they especially mean more welcoming of adultery.
One distinctive strength of male couples is that their tendency to candidly discuss respective preferences extends to sexuality as well, including choices that may startle some heterosexuals. For example, while the extent of non-monogamy in gay-male partnerships is often exaggerated, openly non-monogamous relationships are more common than among lesbians or heterosexuals. Many gay couples work out detailed agreements about what kinds of sexual contact are permissible outside the relationship, under what circumstances and how often.
Longtime readers will recall that this was not only expected here but fielded as an argument in favor of civil partnerships instead of 'gay marriage.'
This is exactly what we should do: create a separate institution for non-marriage partnerships that can be judged by its own standards. Thus, if for example adultery should prove to be less of a concern in partnerships containing only men -- as many "same sex marriage" supporters openly proclaim -- we don't end up with a watering-down of the protections against adultery in traditional marriages. (If anything, those are far too watery already.) Let them do the things they want, just keep a distinction so we aren't forced to collapse the categories when we come before courts of law. It's only sensible to believe that the needs of these kinds of unions might come apart, so we ought to have the ability to address that in the law.
Now we are at the point that the categories have collapsed. In a traditional, heterosexual marriage, showing that your partner was an adulterer was not only grounds for divorce but for the judge to grant you favorable terms in the division of property. Now we must instead learn that adultery should be negotiated, so that in all marriages it is neither grounds for divorce nor for a punitive division of property. The "Rule of Law" means we must all play by the same rules; there is only one set of laws governing all marriages, and these marriages "work better." We must all learn the new lessons.

Along the way, let us pause to notice the expected conclusion that heterosexual men are the only bad actors:
Researchers recently asked three sets of legally married couples — heterosexual, gay and lesbian — to keep daily diaries recording their experiences of marital strain and distress. Women in different-sex marriages reported the highest levels of psychological distress. Men in same-sex marriages reported the lowest. Men married to women and women married to women were in the middle, recording similar levels of distress.

What’s striking, says the lead author of the study, Michael Garcia, is that earlier research had concluded that women in general were likely to report the most relationship distress. But it turns out that’s only women married to men.
Maybe it's heterosexuals in general who can't get along, but women do all the suffering; those darned heterosexual men end up happier (though not as happy as the men who can avoid dealing with women entirely)! Clearly gayness for everyone is the best, preferable solution: human segregation by sex should become the ordinary norm. If you still want some heterosexual sex in your new gay union, that's ok; just include some arrangement for it in your 'detailed agreements about what kinds of sexual contact are permissible outside the relationship, under what circumstances and how often.'

UPDATE: You could also read the findings as anti-woman: after all, men who are married to women are no happier than women who are married to women. Women who marry men only get angrier. True happiness only comes when you can finally get rid of the women. That’s why they’re called “gay”!

Just In Case

USNORTHCOM is preparing for counter-coronavirus approaches, if necessary. It reads as if the plan is less to deploy to contain civilian outbreaks than to quarantine themselves as necessary to keep the force functional. Immediate actions appear to include quarantines for servicemembers who may have visited China.

Voices from Wuhan

Some messages from the locked-down city that the PRC has tried to suppress, now published at The Federalist.

John Kelly Backs Vindman

I have great respect for Kelly, and at least part of this answer makes perfect sense to me.

Vindman was rightly disturbed by Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Kelly suggested: Having seen something “questionable,” Vindman properly notified his superiors, Kelly said. Vindman, who specialized in Ukraine policy at the National Security Council at the time, was among multiple U.S. officials who listened in on the call. When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth, Kelly said.

“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” Kelly told the audience at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. “He went and told his boss what he just heard.” ...

[Trump's conditioning of aid] amounted to a momentous change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine—one that Vindman was right to flag, because other federal agencies needed to know about the shift, Kelly said.
That's all fair, actually. If he thought he was hearing something illegal, it was proper to raise it to the legal authorities and the chain of command. There remain some matters that are questionable, however. The one that concerns me the most is that he appears to have told Ukrainian officials repeatedly not to work with the Attorney General as requested by the President, and permitted by a treaty between our nations.
Vindman also took action warning Ukrainian officials he spoke to: “I would tell them to not interfere — not get involved in U.S. domestic politics.”
Everyone who has been with the American military for any length of time has dealt with toxic leaders. Navigating one's duty while being under the command of one is both difficult and taxing. I imagine President Trump is a pretty toxic guy to work for, given the way he uses insult and mockery against everyone who disagrees with him. John Kelly doubtless recognizes and (rightly) resents that approach. His sympathy for others subject to this leadership climate is understandable.

That said, I can't say that I approve of the LTC's decisions here. I'm not prepared to wholly condemn him either, not based on the facts in evidence (as opposed to, say, should it prove true that he and his brother were leaking classified information to the press in order to hurt the President). I do think that his reassignment from the NSC was proper and appropriate, both because he served there at the President's pleasure, and also because there is no way the two of them could continue to trust each other enough to work together effectively. The NSC deals with the highest-level concerns, at the right hand of the President. Trust is necessary there.


Duffel Blog.

I question the motive/timing/hypocrisy

Another from Instapundit:
“Arendt had it right,” the late Sen. Pat Moynihan once told an interviewer. “She said one of the great advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.”

Another reason to impeach Trump

He's causing Betelgeuse to to nova by tweeting too much and producing carbon dioxide.

Asheville: Guess the Line of Business

If it helps, the same block on the facing street is bracketed by a store selling tarot card readings and witch supplies, and a crystal shop. So guess what kind of business this one is:

By the way, I passed through “Historic West Asheville” today as well. Now I better understand AVI’s complaints that he couldn’t find waffles in West Asheville. I think of West Asheville as a biker would, i.e., as an area of about ten miles across. I am morally sure that there is a Waffle House there somewhere. But Historic West Asheville has only head shops, a vinyl record outlet I’ve actually been to before, a holistic medicine training center, and hipster farm-to-table joints.

Powerline on the NH debates

Codevilla: Abolish the CIA

First in a series on reforms.

Flushing out political operatives

Roger Stone is not a nice man, so I'm not spending a lot of time weeping over his fate.  Still, I don't like seeing political vindictiveness in a criminal prosecution.  If his prosecutors were political operatives, which is what it looks like to me, I rejoice that they're quitting in a mass huff.

On Tomboys

Apropos of yesterday's post on Xena-type characters, another writer at the NYT -- this time Ms. Lisa Selin Davis -- laments the loss of "tomboy" characters. It's interesting that the Strong Female Lead character rose just as the tomboy character vanished. In a way they might seem like tokens of a type, in that both are female characters who express themselves in part through what Ms. Marling described as "masculine modalities." Davis denies that they are tokens of a type, however:
...the tomboy I refer to is Jo Polniaczek, from the 1980s sitcom “The Facts of Life.” That Jo was a working-class kid on scholarship at a fancy girls’ boarding school. Her signature hairstyle was two little ponytails that connected to a big one in the back. Her signature outfit was a leather jacket — once she even dressed up as Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” for Halloween — and jeans. Her signature ride was a motorcycle — which she fixed herself....

When Jo joined “The Facts of Life” in 1980 for its second season, she was among many tomboys on the big and small screen in that era.... These were often my favorite characters, living examples of the feminist zeitgeist that told me I did not have to be feminine to be female: I could, and maybe should, dress and act like boys and have access to their domains...

But this kind of tomboy began to recede in the mid-1980s.... This was followed by the pink-hued “Girl Power” of the 1990s, which moved away from the more masculine-presenting tomboy toward an image that seemed to comfort the male gaze. Jo gave way to Sporty Spice, Xena, Buffy — coifed, petal-lipped and sometimes baring midriff — with the message that one didn’t need to sacrifice femininity to have power.
Emphasis added. I was struck by that because it could just as easily be a description of my wife. Mostly I fix her motorcycle, actually, but she's not afraid to do it if I'm not available and has performed field repairs and adjustments on a number of occasions.

What strikes me here is that the tomboy character (and, I suppose, my wife) is even more masculine than the Xena-type character. Like Davis, insofar as I watched those shows as a kid (and we had much more limited options in those days), the tomboy characters were my favorite of the girls. It makes sense; there was a lot more to relate to with them, and they seemed like people you could have fun with doing things you liked to do anyway. Probably that dynamic explains the success of my marriage to some degree; we have always gone hiking, motorcycling, and with horses she always liked trail riding rather than the display sports like dressage (which was once a highly masculine sport, but now is generally not).

So it's not a desire to enforce rigid gender roles that bothers me about the Xena-type. Nor was it Xena herself; partly because of the ridiculous Beijing-opera wire work, I just found that show too silly to bother with back when it was around. But the proliferation of that type of character, long now a source of irritation, is here too recognized by a female writer and thinker as somehow harmful to women as well.

"Diversity" and "Fairness"

Via Instapundit, a university promotes a diversity of opinions and viewpoints -- as long as one of the sides is willing to pay to be heard.

"Doing Something" in Wuhan

This video is from The People's Daily, so it's the imagery that the PRC wants you to see about their response in Wuhan. For me it provokes a series of questions:

* What are these substances they are spraying with trucks all over town?

* What is the stuff they are spewing with hand sprayers? It's not the same stuff, judging by the much more dense fog.

* Is any of this stuff safe to breathe? Is it better for you than the virus?

* Why are they washing the outside of a jet plane?

A Welcome Voice

As is well known to readers, this particular archetype -- the Xena Warrior Princess one, transposed into everything -- has long irritated me. Ms. Brit Marling, a former actress and filmmaker, writes of her own reasons for rejecting it.
Enter, stage right: the Strong Female Lead.

She’s an assassin, a spy, a soldier, a superhero, a C.E.O. She can make a wound compress out of a maxi pad while on the lam. She’s got MacGyver’s resourcefulness but looks better in a tank top.

Acting the part of the Strong Female Lead changed both who I was and what I thought I was capable of. Training to do my own stunt work made me feel formidable and respected on set. Playing scenes where I was the boss firing men tasted like empowerment. And it will always feel better to be holding the gun in the scene than to be pleading for your life at the other end of the barrel.

It would be hard to deny that there is nutrition to be drawn from any narrative that gives women agency and voice in a world where they are most often without both. But the more I acted the Strong Female Lead, the more I became aware of the narrow specificity of the characters’ strengths — physical prowess, linear ambition, focused rationality. Masculine modalities of power....

It’s difficult for us to imagine femininity itself — empathy, vulnerability, listening — as strong. When I look at the world our stories have helped us envision and then erect, these are the very qualities that have been vanquished in favor of an overwrought masculinity.
There's a lot in her piece that I am not quoting, some of which some of you may find highly sympathetic; some of which some of you will outright reject. I myself am always amazed when a woman thinks that women are the disposable sex in America, for example; she writes of domestic violence, which is a real problem, but men are far and away exposed to much more violence without anyone even thinking of it as a problem. The statistics she quotes on rape are long disproven, but even with rape, American men are more exposed to it than women thanks to our vast prison culture and disparities in just who gets sent to prison.

I acknowledge those things, as well as the ways in which her feelings -- whether or not they are supported by facts -- are widely shared by many women. I don't want to do more than acknowledge those disputes, because what I want to do is recognize a point of agreement. I also want, and long for, movies that celebrate feminine strength on its own real terms. I miss that as much as she does, because I'm a man who loves women. I want women around, strong women, feminine women.

I long for the days when our movies once again can show women who are strong in the way that Isabeau was strong in Ladyhawke.

UPDATE: A ‘paradox’ of greatest unhappiness.

Now That's Socialism!

Real Headline: "Rep. Ilhan Omar promotes call for GI Bill to apply to all Americans."

No limits on redistribution, apparently.

Who Doesn't Want to Depose Trump These Days?

Technically accurate headline: "Amazon wants to depose Trump after losing $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract."

Oh, right, homonyms.

Hoots Mon

Since the last reminded me of this Scottish tune, well, here you go.


“We monitor many frequencies. We listen always. Came a voice, out of the babel of tongues, speaking to us. It played us a mighty dub.”
In the story it was an AI. It's not hard to see how an AI could be optimized for something like this.

Hate and Anger

A worry, from David French:
Hate has no place in pro-life America. None. And embracing or defending hate—even hatred of the movement’s most vigorous opponents—for the sake of life contradicts the spirit of the movement and stands to do more harm than good to the political cause that so many Christians value the most.

American Evangelicals represent one of the most powerful religious movements in the world. They exercise veto power over the political success of any presidential candidate from one of America’s two great parties. Yet they don’t wield that power to veto the selection of a man who completely rejects—and even scorns—many of their core moral values.

I fully recognize what I’m saying. I fully recognize that refusing to hire a hater and refusing to hire a liar carries costs. If we see politics through worldly eyes, it makes no sense at all. Why would you adopt moral standards that put you at a disadvantage in an existential political struggle? If we don’t stand by Trump we will lose, and losing is unacceptable.
To what degree are you conflating "hate" with "anger"? Anger can be rational. So says Aristotle:
With regard to anger also there is an excess, a deficiency, and a mean. Although they can scarcely be said to have names, yet since we call the intermediate person good-tempered let us call the mean good temper; of the persons at the extremes let the one who exceeds be called irascible, and his vice irascibility, and the man who falls short an inirascible sort of person, and the deficiency inirascibility.
It's possible to be excessively prone to anger, and that is a vice; but notice that it's also possible to be deficiently prone to anger, and that is also a vice. The right soul is angry when anger is appropriate.

But perhaps you want to stand on hate and try to banish it from Christian life. Well, then, a word from G. K. Chesterton describing the Saxon war against the Viking. King Alfred of the Saxons has received a thoughtless blow from a woman cooking cakes that leaves a red scar on his head, and for a moment he is angry with her and thinks of returning it.

Yet then he takes his anger and transforms it into an expression of hate.  His hate is not against her, but against those who have deserved to be hated in the way that Aristotle suggests there are some who deserve our anger.  This transformation is a kind of miracle in that it is an intervention that protects her from wrath.  This little miracle enables the greater miracle of the victory to come:
Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
For the laughter of the King.

And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
Under the greenwood tree—

The giant laughter of Christian men
That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack's away with his master's lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
The farmer with all his flails;

Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
Yet end not all in scorning—
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
And Christmas Day in the morning.

"Now here is a good warrant,"
Cried Alfred, "by my sword;
For he that is struck for an ill servant
Should be a kind lord.

"He that has been a servant
Knows more than priests and kings,
But he that has been an ill servant,
He knows all earthly things.

"Pride flings frail palaces at the sky,
As a man flings up sand,
But the firm feet of humility
Take hold of heavy land.

"Pride juggles with her toppling towers,
They strike the sun and cease,
But the firm feet of humility
They grip the ground like trees.

"He that hath failed in a little thing
Hath a sign upon the brow;
And the Earls of the Great Army
Have no such seal to show.

"The red print on my forehead,
Small flame for a red star,
In the van of the violent marching, then
When the sky is torn of the trumpets ten,
And the hands of the happy howling men
Fling wide the gates of war.

"This blow that I return not
Ten times will I return
On kings and earls of all degree,
And armies wide as empires be
Shall slide like landslips to the sea
If the red star burn.

"One man shall drive a hundred,
As the dead kings drave;
Before me rocking hosts be riven,
And battering cohorts backwards driven,
For I am the first king known of Heaven
That has been struck like a slave.

"Up on the old white road, brothers,
Up on the Roman walls!
For this is the night of the drawing of swords,
And the tainted tower of the heathen hordes
Leans to our hammers, fires and cords,
Leans a little and falls.

"Follow the star that lives and leaps,
Follow the sword that sings,
For we go gathering heathen men,
A terrible harvest, ten by ten,
As the wrath of the last red autumn—then
When Christ reaps down the kings.

"Follow a light that leaps and spins,
Follow the fire unfurled!
For riseth up against realm and rod,
A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod,
The last lost giant, even God,
Is risen against the world."

Roaring they went o'er the Roman wall,
And roaring up the lane,
Their torches tossed a ladder of fire,
Higher their hymn was heard and higher,
More sweet for hate and for heart's desire,
And up in the northern scrub and brier,
They fell upon the Dane.
Chesterton is here a poet, and 'anger' has two syllables while 'hate' has one. But he has a 'for' there that is disposable; he could have easily composed the line, "More sweet for anger and heart's desire," with no loss to the poetic form. He seems to be saying 'hate' on purpose, and in an explicitly Christian context in which one is commanded to love one's enemy. Alfred refuses to return a blow he has received, and instead turns his justified wrath against another more deserving.

In the end, you know, he brought the leader of the Danish army to Christ -- so the story goes. And if you believe the story, that which was done more sweetly for hate had a good end, indeed many good ends for many people. Salvation for some, if you believe the story, in which salvation of the soul is the most valuable prize of all. At minimum the victory brought stability for England, unity, prosperity, if you believe only demonstrable fact. But French wants to speak within the story, as Chesterton did.

Dog Faced Soldiers, Pony Soldiers

Joe Biden may or may not have been thinking of these Redcoats, as the piece suggests, but the phrase "pony soldiers" is used in Hondo to refer to the US Cavalry.  It differs, though, from "Dog-Faced Soldiers," who are infantry -- specifically the 3rd Infantry Division.  It's their Division song; I learned it from them while working with their headquarters element in 2007 because their commanding general made them stand up and sing it to him every morning at the Battle Update Briefing.

That commanding general was Rick Lynch, who seemed very much to be attempting to reprise the role of George Patton. In spite of his cigar-chomping theatrics 3ID had a tremendous run of success during his time there, during which the entire division -- not just the headquarters but all four brigades -- were deployed from Anbar to the Mada'in, and from Baghdad to Al Hillah. The counterinsurgency campaign in that period saw violence drop by about ninety percent.

I guess he went on to become a Lieutenant General before he retired, which is pretty good. He once gave me one of his "challenge coins," which just for fun I dug out tonight to show you.

The dog is "Rocky," created by Walt Disney personally and donated to the division in what I imagine was a fit of patriotism. The coin has a notch in it, I was told, "Because Rocky took a bite out of it."

"Nous Resterons La" is a line from the First World War's deployment of the Third Division as a part of the American Expeditionary Force. It means "We'll stay here," which at the Second Battle of the Marne is just what they did.

I don't know how you get the two concepts confused, although I spent some time with various 1st Cavalry units too and it could be that they're more alike than either of them would like to admit.  Maybe Joltin' Joe can throw in a "Buffalo Soldier" reference next time just for good measure. 

UPDATE:  A reasonable comment on the 3ID page's apology for the Dog Face Soldier song:
The trouble with “honest” soldier songs is that they are generally unprintable parodies of other songs, while the trouble with “official” soldier songs is that they are generally phony-sounding, slick productions which completely lack spontaneity. At the beginning of World War II there was a need for a soldier song which could be accepted by the mud-slogging foot soldiers as well as civilian concert audiences – a song in the happy medium between “honest” and “official”.
Fake but accurate, I think we call that these days.

The dichotomy we never tire of

Robert Plomin, in "Blueprint," compared popular assumptions about the heritability of various traits to the best we can do for scientific evidence for each trait.  In every case but one, traits were much more heritable than people liked to think.  The exception was breast cancer, whose heritability is overestimated 5x.
Table 2 How much are these traits influenced by genetics? [%] The first column of results shows the average opinions of 5,000 young adults in the UK. The second column shows results from genetic research. 
Eye colour 77 95
Height 67 80
Breast cancer 53 10
Schizophrenia 43 50
Autism 42 70
General Intelligence 41 50
Weight 40 70
Reading disability 38 60
Personality 38 40
Spatial ability 33 70
Remembering faces 31 60
Stomach ulcers 29 70
School achievement 29 60
Verbal ability 27 60

Centrists and Democracy

A study suggests that support for democracy is weakest among centrist voters, not extremists.

A Real Crisis

The city and country face “wartime conditions,” Ms. Sun said. “There must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever.”

Sorry, Bette

The lady is having a tough day. I hope she feels better.

A Fine Rollicking Piece

Still sick, but I fear I'll be better soon. After that I'll have no excuses for all the work I'm not getting around to doing.

Thor's Praise

Just yesterday Kirk Douglas died at 103 years old.

They were just as set on the Vikings in his era; and in the era before his. Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem that opens with a celebration of Viking rapine, although what the poem is about is the conversion of the hero to Christianity.
Woe to the realms where he coasted, for there
Was shedding of blood and rending of hair,
Rape of maiden, slaughter of priest,
Gathering of ravens and wolves to the feast!
When he hoisted his standard black
Before him was battle, behind him was wrack!
They fought big wars in the last century, and joyous ones in the century before. The Viking thing isn't new; what's new is the loss of faith in what were long thought to be timeless truths.

Learn to code

It's not like the Iowa Dem caucus was trying to solve a difficult problem--but apparently it was beyond the skills of whatever novice they turned the coding problem over to.

Which still doesn't explain why three days later they still haven't managed to finish the calculations by pencil.  There's just no explanation for any of this that should lead a voter to conclude he can improve life for Americans by voting for these people.  Incompetence?  Corruption?  Inextricable mix of the two?  It's all the same result, and it's what human institutions always get when the guiding principle is "you just have to leave us in power because Reasons."


As expected, President Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment.  Mitt Romney cast the only crossover vote:  to convict on abuse of power, but not on obstruction of Congress.  That made the votes 48-52 and 47-53.

Down Sick

Got the thing the wife had after two weeks of standing it off. I’m going to lay in bed with beer until I feel better. Good luck to you until then.

Cloudy Days

The jet stream and the Polar Vortex are far to the north this winter; there is neither La Niña nor El Niño. As a result we are getting all our winter weather straight off the Gulf of Mexico, which makes this warm and wet. Nearly every day it rains.

People are sick around here, as well. It's a day of ambition on the grand scale, but locally it's little but sickness and rain.

Advice from Colonel Kurt

To Hear the Lamentations of the Women

Specifically, Ms. Kara Swisher, and one other she cites below.
Who won? Who knows? Which is not exactly how the Democrats want to start off these critical primaries. This looks more like my octogenarian mom when her New York Post app does not load correctly than a political party leaning into the future.

This reminds me of another Democratic tech snafu: the debut of the glitch-laden and over-budget Obamacare website, technically called

There was the hashtag #MayorCheat, alleging links between Pete Buttigieg and the company that built the app for the caucuses, Shadow — Could it have a worse name? No, it could not! — and also its funder, a Democratic digital strategy operation called Acronym.... As the writer Maura Quint noted on Twitter: “Feels like you can ask people to trust the process or you can name your election companies Acronym and Shadow like they’re rival gangs of supervillains in a movie where Spiderman teams up with G.I. Joe to save Manhattan, but you can’t do both.”
With 62% of the votes allegedly now being accurately reported, #MayorCheat is very slightly in the lead (in delegates; Sanders leads the popular vote). So-called "Frontrunner" Biden barely made viability. Warren is in third, not very far above Biden but comfortably viable.

"Quality Control"

I'm pretty sure that means "editing."

UPDATE:  The unity headquarters reporting room is apparently located in a boiler room, complete with furnace for undesirable results and documentation.

They're not even pretending anymore.


DNC mulls asking Trump to run as a Democrat, to stop Sanders.

Trump supports impeachment, forcing Dems to oppose it.

In nominally non-satirical news, the Iowa caucus is turning into just about the goat rodeo that was predicted.  Stephen Green says of the lollygagging, "This is a simple game.  You count the votes, you report the votes."

Rider's Journal: Snowmen and Seventy Degrees

It was 66 by the thermometer, but as you can see it hasn't been for long.

It was a nice day today, and I had a few hours this afternoon, so I took a short ride. The longest part of the ride was on North Carolina highway 215, which begins by a rafting and fishing shop (with a credible beer and burger food truck) at US 64, and heads north across the Pisgah Ridge at Beech Gap, then on to Waynesville and eventually I-40. I-40 will take you to Knoxville or Asheville, as you prefer.

Black balsams at this altitude.

I spent the ride listening to Outlaw Country, trying to pick a song to use as the model for the one you folks wanted me to write. I've got the basic structure of the song mapped, but I still need to put it into poetics that match a tune and rhythm. I'm most inclined to use this one:

But David Allan Coe might object, being still alive and ornery.

Another option is this one:

Willie Nelson is still alive too, but he's not so ornery; and since he literally invites you to steal the song in the lyrics, I doubt he'd complain about it.

Or maybe I'll think of something else. As long as it's a good excuse to take motorcycle rides instead of working, I'm game to keep thinking about it.

Super Bowl Ads

A few are making the rounds such that even I saw them, which means you've all seen them already.

But heck, let's watch them again anyway.

Democrats Offline Not Liberals

A clean majority of non-Twitter Democrats are "Moderate," "Conservative," or "Very Conservative." Fifty-eight percent so identify, 49% choosing "moderate" and the rest one of the right-wing labels (which for some reason are depicted on the left side of the chart).

Of those who do have a Twitter account, 56% are either "Liberal" or "Very Liberal."

A New Quarantine

Wuhan is under a radical sort of quarantine, one in which only one resident per household may leave the house -- and that only every two days, and that only if masked. Roads are closed, public places are largely closed as well.

That's intense, but it's not a new approach. What's new is the digital aspect: if you're from Wuhan, your IDs and payment methods will no longer allow you to function anywhere else. China has flagged those IDs and issued orders to deny them service outside Wuhan. You have to go home even if you got out before, or you can't live because you can't buy things or rent hotels. You cannot buy gas to travel, you cannot go to a hospital outside of Wuhan if you develop the illness.

This is a good reason to keep cash on hand, in spite of the convenience of payment cards. The United States government won't do this to you -- today. But it could.

I Didn't Realize You Could Do That

I wish Atlanta had banned growth thirty years ago, like this town in South Carolina. It's actually a suburb of Charlotte, which sits on the NC/SC border.

But watch out, AVI:
Ms. McCauley, who moved here from San Jose, is leaving later this month. Her husband took a job in Boston and will telecommute from the far suburbs of rural New Hampshire.

“New Hampshire has that quiet feel that Lake Wylie used to have,” she said.


An interesting quiz. I matched up 93% with "Agorist," which they describe thus:
Agorists are market anarchists who seek to starve the state of its resources through counter-economics. The concept of counter-economics includes the gray market (unapproved economic activity) and the black market (illegal economic activity that obeys the NAP), but not the white market (state-approved economic activity) or the red market (violence, theft, and/or coercion). The original agorist was Samuel Edward Konkin III (also know as SEK3), who was dissatisfied with the American libertarian movement of his time. He, like Murray Rothbard and the anarcho-capitalists, supported extreme free market principles. Unlike them, however, he held that these principles, taken to their farthest extremes, supported traditionally left-wing goals such as solidarity and worker's self-management. Thus, Agorists consider themselves left-libertarians, and tend not to call themselves capitalists.
They also have a "Which type of Socialist are you?" quiz. It gave me "collectivist anarchist," which was the kind of anarchism that I scored lowest on with the Anarchy quiz. My guess is that it's just the closest results I could get on a quiz about socialism.

I Suppose That's A Fair Point

Mother Jones Worries About Iowa

In addition to eliminating the Senate and the Electoral College in the name of democracy, the Iowa caucuses are also on the list:
A dozen years ago, I set up shop at a Des Moines middle school to cover the Iowa caucuses on a snowy January night.... Back home the next week, friends asked for a debrief. I told them it reminded me of something I’d recently seen on YouTube: grindadráp, a centuries-old community organized whale hunt practiced annually in the Faroe Islands, when the animals are driven out of the North Atlantic into shallow bays and then beached and bludgeoned with clubs, or stabbed with gaffs until the water runs red. Both events were dynamic, homespun, an exercise of tradition, a visual spectacle—yet archaic and totally disturbing. How do these things happen in the 21st century? Could what I witnessed in Des Moines really be the best way to kick off the selection of the next Leader of the Free World?
Sometimes old traditions are exactly the best place to locate democracy, as it happens. A form that has been stable for generations is a form that generations of people have chosen. If the good of democracy comes from considering the views of others and not only of a small group, why not include the choices of your fathers and mothers, grandfathers and great-grandmothers? If this was choice-worthy for so many for so long, why not consider that they perhaps had a point?

Well, that's just a restatement of Chesterton: "Tradition is the democracy of the dead."