Holy Saturday

Are there hymns for Holy Saturday? My experience has always been that no Mass is said, and so no hymns are sung. We have only secular comforts.

Well here is one of those. It's a mournful song, but the singing itself means something.

And here is Elvis -- I don't think I've ever posted an Elvis piece before, in spite of all the rockabilly I've put up over the years. It's secular, except for being addressed to the Lord; and you can imagine a similar objection being raised in the face of the crucifixion, by a man who would have preferred a different cup.

Good Friday

I don’t have any great words this year, but it is right to mark the occasion. Endure the fast, have faith that better things will come.

Go in Peace

A deliberate lack of subtlety, the analyst suggests; or perhaps a declaration of intent.
California this week declared its independence from the federal government’s feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America’s budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California’s multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear.

Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”

“Nation-state.” “Export.”
The analysis is entirely partisan as usual, but California going its own way is a perfectly acceptable solution.

UPDATE: The sound is different here.

What would we do without the press

 This would make a better press conference:


A Conservative Revolution

This is a good piece. Bdoran will be pleased that its constitutional critique goes beyond the Bill of Rights, and invoked especially Article I Section 8.

Encryption is Good

We should oppose this law, and any other attempt to force government backdoors into our encyrption.

By the way, if you don't already use Signal, it's a pretty good system. From what I can tell, it's as secure as anything is -- which is to say, not perfectly.

Better Watch Out

This report that people are 'panic buying' baby chickens reminds me of a story about my grandmother. This was my mother's mother.

One time there was a special deal on baby chicks, so that they could be had for a penny apiece. She bought a dollar's worth, that is a hundred baby chicks, on the assumption that many of them would die before attaining adulthood. As it happened, every single one of those chicks grew into full-grown adult chickens. As a consequence, she had to kill and pluck a hundred chickens that year.

That's the sort of thing that can happen if you don't watch out.

Masterful Storytelling

The brilliance of this cartoon is that you don't need to see the setup to understand the dynamic. No words are required, either. This was very well done.

I've been thinking about the old cartoons lately, and how well they were able to express things. This is a good example.

Return of the Hyborian Age

Holy Week

I guess I clean missed Palm Sunday this year. Truly, Lent seems to be going on longer than usual. Officially Easter is on Sunday.

Maybe we'll have a miracle. It happens, I've heard; maybe I've even seen one or two. Maybe more than one or two.

Breaking ranks

For a nice change of pace, one of the President's political opponents responds to him like a human being. Earlier I predicted that, if chloroquine proved effective, the press would switch instantly to complaining that President Trump didn't provide it quickly enough. It looks like we have an intermediate step to get through, which is to suspect that he's making money off of supplying it to needy people.

Since We're Doing Language Warnings Today....

...a cautionary tale from Twitter on the use of Zoom.

With appropriate music.

Liberties Lost to be Restored

We have much work to do.

Guns are Durable Goods

The British don't seem to grasp that.
Royal bodyguards responsible for keeping the outcast Prince Andrew and a number of other royals safe have had their guns swapped out for cheaper tasers, it has been reported.

The royal protection officers assigned to Princess Anne and Prince Edward have also allegedly lost their firearms as part of a drive to reduce protection costs for minor royals and politicians, the Sun reports.
So you're going to replace the firearm you already paid for with a taser you're buying new? It's not like you have to replace these things very often. Even with regular training fires they last a long time, and can be maintained at relatively low costs.

It's a false economy in another way, too: how much is the ransom for a kidnapped royal going to cost?


Language warning, although it's 500 years old.
The five sections to the compilation are devoted to religious themes, moral or philosophical themes, love ballads, fables and allegories, and comedy, especially satire. The latter section is where one is most likely to encounter the swears, particularly in the poetry of William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy. Both poets feature in the poem where the notorious F-word appears: "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie."

Flyting is a poetic genre in Scotland—essentially a poetry slam or rap battle, in which participants exchange creative insults with as much verbal pyrotechnics (doubling and tripling of rhymes, lots of alliteration) as they can muster. (It's a safe bet at this art form.)

Dunbar and Kennedy supposedly faced off for a flyting in the court of James IV of Scotland around 1500, and their exchange was set down for posterity in Bannatyne's manuscript. In the poem, Dunbar makes fun of Kennedy's Highland dialect, for instance, as well as his personal appearance, and he suggests his opponent enjoys sexual intercourse with horses. Kennedy retaliates with attacks on Dunbar's diminutive stature and lack of bowel control, suggesting his rival gets his inspiration from drinking "frogspawn" from the waters of a rural pond. You get the idea.
Flyting is not just "a poetic genre in Scotland," but in fact also Old Norse. Several of the surviving stories about the Norse gods involve them mocking each other in this way, especially Lokasenna (Loki actually did have sex with a horse) and Hárbarðsljóð (in which Odin mocks Thor while in disguise as a boatman).

Golden Ring

So this is a George Jones and Tammy Wynette song.

I never liked their version, but here's a version I kind of do like.

If you only know one Tammy Wynette song, it's "Stand by Your Man," more than likely. George Jones was a difficult husband and her well of inspiration to write that song was deep. This song, which takes a love all the way from beginning to end, is probably similarly inspired.

A Novel Finished

This quarantine has lasted long enough that I actually finished editing this novel.  Now I suppose I need to make some decisions about how to publish it.  I guess Amazon is what everyone does now, especially since no one can go to physical bookstores anyway.

If any of you have any useful advice or suggestions, let me know.  I've never published a book before.

Long Ago in Scotland

Today is the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. Longtime readers of Grim's Hall know this declaration well, but just in case:
[Robert the Bruce, and not Edward like the Pope thought], too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
It is one of the great documents of human history, from one of the best moments in human history.

Meanwhile in Scotland...

National Tartan Day

It's National Tartan Day, which is an opportunity for Americans to celebrate Scottish heritage -- both our personal heritage, and the tremendous contributions that Scotland has made to our national heritage. Many states have registered district tartans that residents can wear, including both the state in which I was born and the state in which I currently reside.

The Carolina District Tartan

Georgia District Tartan


Couldn't agree more.

New rules in, but some old rules out

Minor silver lining.As Glenn Reynolds says, let's get to work making it permanent.

Not an OPEC fan

I can live with this:
Trump said Saturday at a White House press briefing he’s opposed OPEC his whole life, and characterized it as a cartel, or monopoly. “I don’t care about OPEC,” he said. He threatened to use tariffs if needed to protect the domestic oil industry, even as he predicted that Saudi Arabia and Russia would come to an agreement.

Test fail

The botched rollout of bottlenecked coronavirus testing is fertile ground for left-vs.-right bashing: it simultaneously shows that the Trump administration callously or stupidly failed to get the CDC to do something right, and that the CDC is the deadly, bottlenecking, calcified, politicized Deep State the Trump administration is saddled with. I remain unconvinced that testing is the most important thing right now, much as I would love to have the luxury of 100% knowledge of who in this country harbors either live virus or effective antibodies.

Powerline notes that the numbers from Japan and Seoul suggest that testing isn't brilliantly correlated with death rates per capita, which is a lot more interesting data than case-positive rates. Early on, fabulous testing might allow a few sparks to be stamped out before they spread; at this point, we're probably past that strategy.  It's possible that masks, or other factors such as social-distancing, ICU beds or ventilators per capita, or treatments will prove more important:
Perhaps these experts should look harder at the actual data and not just their models. The data certainly suggest more testing may not be our savior. Alternatively, the Trump administration should consider asking governors to mandate, not suggest, that their citizens wear face masks in public. South Korea’s and Japan’s experience suggests that combining this policy with one that more surgically isolated the elderly and most vulnerable while allowing most of the country to go back to work would provide more effective protection from the virus and at a far, far lower cost.

The case fatality rate for governments

From Ed Morrissey:
... Europe has rediscovered why borders matter and why government works best on the principle of subsidiarity. The borders lesson got taught the hard way, as I wrote two-plus weeks ago, after Europe and the US precipitated a massive refugee crisis by decapitating the Qaddafi regime in Libya. The flood of refugees from there and Syria created cultural dislocation throughout the Schengen Zone, provoking the Brexit push in the UK and setting the stage for their current disunity.
It should come as no shock that Germans expect the German government to prioritize Germans in an existential crisis rather than a super-national quasi-governing body. Nor should it shock anyone that the same is true for the French, the Italians, and so on. That doesn’t mean that they can’t work cooperatively to approach common interests and problems, but that in a crisis, they’re responsible to their own citizens first and foremost....
"... All these European rules need to be reviewed. In recent years, Europe actually made us close hospitals and schools. Then, in our hour of need, the citizens of Italy realized we are on our own."

Reasserting Constitutional Limits on Government

The Third Amendment to the Constitution is perhaps the one least violated by the government. Yet if the government ever wished to violate it, by quartering soldiers in private homes, it would almost certainly be during an emergency like an insurrection. Governments have an interest in suppressing insurrections, and in many cases it may even be legitimate that they do so. In other cases, governments that have violated natural rights deserve to be overthrown. But whether they are deserving or not, if a future American government desires to place soldiers inside your home to keep an eye on you, it will probably be because of an insurrection. An insurrection is an emergency, but it does not justify setting aside the Third Amendment -- it is precisely for such an emergency situation that the Third was written.

The present emergency has led to a lot of different levels of government violating the Constitution (and state constitutions) in various ways. Always this is said to be a temporary matter with which we should not be overly concerned, because there is a legitimate interest at stake and the powers are only emergency powers. That is not the way the Constitution is supposed to work.

This Reason article focuses on the Second Amendment, which is always in peril as the common right to bear arms is threatening to the powerful in every generation. But consider also the First:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment addresses Congress, but it is supposedly fully incorporated against the states. Lately we have seen bans on worship services being held. That is a violation of "free exercise," and also "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." In fact all of these bans on gatherings of 10 or more people are unconstitutional abuses against the free assembly clause. It may well be wise public policy to suggest that people do not assemble at this time. There may well be an emergency; but that itself cannot be adequate, because governments can always generate emergencies when they wish to do so.

The counterargument is that people should die if we allowed assemblies and 'merely' recommended against them. People may well. But many Americans have died to preserve these liberties, and not just while acting bravely under arms: in the Civil War, for example, disease probably killed more people than weapons. "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free," said the Battle Hymn of the era. Making men free was the important thing; dying was a small matter, even a bad death of disease in an encampment.

I have no wish that anyone should die, though everyone shall. But we must not lose focus on first principles. The only legitimate purpose for any government to exist is to preserve and enforce the natural rights. Any government that becomes destructive to those ends may be altered or abolished. This one has been pressing well past its limits. However wise the policy in terms of suppressing disease, if it destroys our natural rights it puts the cart before the horse. The function of government is not to preserve lives but liberty.

I am willing to endure a tactical pause while it seems to enjoy the democratic support of my countrymen. Soon, though, we shall need to reassert limits on the beast we call Leviathan.

The Great Gold Robbery of 1933

It was conducted by the FDR administration against the American people.