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.