Riding Free

We may have fewer things under our control than we’d prefer, but not none. Here are some of the things I managed make happen today.

This breakfast of beef ribs I started to make happen the afternoon before so they could slow roast all night. Finished under the broiler with butter to give a nice crust. Fresh guacamole, aged chili.

Lady Luck saddled up.

Mushroom found along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Lone Bald Overlook.

Stone sculpture of a mushroom. The base stone was quite challenging, but I finally managed to lift and carry it. 

Minneapolis goes down the tubes

And Los Angeles, Columbus, Louisville, New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte are trying to follow.

Free Americans

So the other night we saw the video with the guys who came down to protect protests and ended up preventing looting. At one point one says “If it was more than just four of us, we could go stop” looting.

However, the video only shows two.

Up the militia. Supporting each other’s natural rights, life, liberty, and property, without regard to the narrative that we ought to be defined by our differences. When the police fled and the state failed, free Americans together did right.

So the Army Wanted to Haul Some Stuff in the Arctic

The Drive has an interesting article on the history of this beast.

Twitter is . . . oh, you know already

"Looters will be shot" is glorifying violence and must be screened from a delicate public.

Minneapolis is . . . oh, you know already.

Word Has Gotten Around

So that tobacco store that didn’t get burned down last night like everything else, because the two “rednecks” guarded it with rifles?  The community appears to have learned the lesson.

Is Such A Thing Even Possible?

A new study suggests that the authoritarian personality type can sometimes be found on the left. 

On the upside, replicating this finding shouldn’t be a problem.

H/t: Titiana McGrath.

Bill of Rights Suspended by 9th Circuit

This is unacceptable.
The "constitutional standards that would normally govern our review of a Free Exercise claim should not be applied," wrote the two judges in the majority opinion.

"We're dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure. In the words of Justice Robert Jackson, if a '(c)ourt does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact,'" according to the opinion.
It’s hardly a suicide pact to allow low risk people to choose to attend services given that the fatality rate is apparently under one percent. Most won’t choose to go anyway. Less burdensome options like education have already persuaded most people of the wisdom of that.

Meanwhile in Maryland, a local government has banned the Eucharist.

Another Gunfighter Ballad

This ballad is highly implausible on many points historically, but it's very much fitting the cowboy culture of the 1950s Westerns -- especially on television. It's a nice piece anyway.

Rapier vs. Katana

This is a South Korean school playing with a Japanese vs. HEMA martial art match, first at 4/5ths speed and later at full speed.

I'll give you an interpretive hint: this match is going to be rapier all day. The rapier is better steel, it is longer, and it is deadly at the point. The katana has to work mostly on slashing motions that require the shorter blade to use a longer part of the overall blade length to generate killing force. The rapier guy taps his wrist a few times to indicate contact, but he's got a basket hilt that will have limited the force the katana can deliver to his wrists: he's indicating cuts. His blows are deadly penetrating stabs.

Watch how he holds the center through the whole match, his opponent always driven to the periphery. It's objectively a better weapon, a better style.

The rapier is not a joke, even though in our movie culture it's generally treated as a toy, and the katana (following Japanese cinema) as if it were a magic weapon.

It is possible to beat a longer stabbing weapon with a shorter slashing one, but it requires going outside the rules of formal fencing.

Rednecks with AR-15s, Or, "Free Americans"

What are they doing at the riots? Supporting the protests but also protecting stores from being looted, if you take them at their word. Worth watching.

Fake News Today

BB: Time Magazine names Karen ‘Person of the Year.’
Karen will be joining Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Bill Anders, and Hitler as one of the most important and newsworthy people of the last 100 years.

So Not Super Professional?

An analysis of the Crossfire Hurricane basis.
In a normal, legitimate FBI Electronic Communication, or EC, there would be a "To" and a "From" line. The Crossfire Hurricane EC has only a "From" line; it is from a part of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division whose contact is listed as Peter Strzok. The EC was drafted also by Peter Strzok. And, finally, it was approved by Peter Strzok. Essentially, it is a document created by Peter Strzok, approved by Peter Strzok, and sent from Peter Strzok to Peter Strzok.

On that basis alone, the document is an absurdity, violative of all FBI protocols and, therefore, invalid on its face. An agent cannot approve his or her own case; that would make a mockery of the oversight designed to protect Americans. Yet, for this document, Peter Strzok was pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire.
Keep in mind as you read the rest that the Flynn investigation, Crossfire Razor, was a spin-off of this one. Also, that it cleared him.

Crisis in NYC

If the Big Apple doesn't get buckets of federal tax dollars, they'll have to make painful changes in how they do things.

Why don't they just raise taxes on the rich?

It's best for them if they don't get the money.  It's awful to think of the anguish they'd have to endure, considering how they despise the source of the largesse.

Men in space

If the weather holds, we may have a private manned space launch today:
Wednesday’s launch ... will be the first time a commercially built vehicle carries NASA astronauts into orbit and the first time that SpaceX attempts to ferry human passengers to the space station.


They just straight up killed this guy.  If there had been no store video, we'd have been left with the official account:
"After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” police spokesman John Elder told reporters early Tuesday. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress."
Yeah, no. You can't see anything in the video that looks like resisting arrest, and the guy died on the pavement with a knee on his neck for about 8 minutes. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, but he was dead on the pavement.  That's what they meant by noticing that he was going into medical distress, as if it were a coincidence:  oh, look, he's not breathing for some reason!  Pro tip:  a red flag was his repeated cries of "I can't breathe," before he got really still and quiet.

There were lots of witnesses, but it's the video that will be believed.

Advance notice

This is interesting, if it's not just someone cherrypicking:


I can't quit gazing at this iceberg that floated by Newfoundland in 2017.  I'm sure as icebergs go it's not that huge, but when it's close to an inhabited shore it's startling.

Crossing the Rubicon- It's a bad idea

They know what they should not do, and do it anyway.  Power corrupts, and also blinds- both those with it, and too often, those subject to it.
"It’s telling that the same people who won’t allow a single Trump executive order to go into effect without running it past judge after judge after judge to test for “constitutionality” have suspended basic rights for a majority of Americans based on dubious proclamations from mayors and governors." 

Civility Again

Col. Kurt:
“Civility is important,” we barbarians are duly informed, because of course it is. But we have noticed, over time, that in reality it only seems to be important when we are the ones breaching it. For us, it is open season.
I'm a very civil person, and people are nice to me too. I assume they're responding to my good manners and friendly nature, and not to the big beard or the knife on my belt. Still, one way or the other, I generally have only civil conversations. It's a nice way to live.

That said, this Memorial Day weekend they decided to run a column accusing the US military of "celebrating white supremacism." I'm not the least bit interested in their opinions on civility right now.

Georgia Shooting Update

When last we spoke about the Georgia shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, I said I didn't think the two men involved would end up being convicted of anything at trial, given that the local DA put out a statement explaining their theory that no crime was committed. Now I think there won't be a trial -- because the state and Federal government are moving to put extraordinary pressures that look likely to draw a plea bargain.

Not just the father and son but the third man, who was filming the incident, have been arrested and charged with felony murder. Felony murder in Georgia means that you were committing a felony -- any felony will do -- and someone got killed as a result of it. This means you don't really have to prove intent to murder someone, which is important in this case because the facts appear to show that the gun went off during a struggle. You might get an involuntary manslaughter charge out of that. Mr. Hines seemed to think so, and 'type b' does allow an otherwise lawful act to be a crime, so even if the DA was right that no crime was committed, you could perhaps persuade a jury. It would be hard to get even a second degree murder charge. But Felony Murder might fly, assuming you can prove a felony, because you don't have to prove the killing was an intentional murder.

However, the trick to Felony Murder is that it is a capital charge. In Georgia, prosecutors who bring a capital charge get to ask for a "Death Qualified" jury. This is a jury that is self-selected for the willingness to ask for the death penalty if the charge is proven. Death Qualified juries return not just harsher sentencing recommendations compared to other juries, they also convict more often on any charges.

Now the penalty for type-b Involuntary Manslaughter is a misdemeanor penalty, i.e., up to a year in jail. Felony Murder's penalty is death, for both father and son and the guy who ran down the street with his phone out. Clearly the intention is to use the threat of death for you and your son to squeeze out a plea bargain to some other sort of murder charge from the father, which then doesn't have to be proven in court because he'd have admitted to it.

They've still got good odds, though, because the DA's office cleared them after investigation -- right? Well, it turns out, the FBI has decided to investigate the officials who didn't arrest them. Prosecutors would have a field day in court with the claims that the DA's office was such a hotbed of racism that it was being investigated for Federal hate crimes. Such charges aren't likely to be successfully brought against government officials acting in their official capacity, especially since they didn't take any actions. They can be entertained long enough to get to the plea bargain, though, as a threat to the accused.

Ultimately our justice system is badly broken and extremely warped. I don't know what justice actually looks like in this case, but I know it doesn't look like sentencing both a man and his son to death. Even leveling threats like that is indefensible.

Justice also doesn't look like the kind of railroad they're setting up to avoid having to prove a case in court.

Real Violence

Maybe this is what Ms. Cooper was expecting from the police? If so, there’s a problem, though I am not convinced the problem is reducible to racism.

Racism Transcendent

Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black man and a bird-watcher, asked Amy to leash her dog. Dogs must be leashed in Central Park from 9am to 9pm, but in the Ramble they must be leashed at all times. Christian later said that he had been worried about the delicate ecosystem of The Ramble and the way in which the dog might affect the birds.

Amy, clearly offended, responded by saying that she was going to call the police on him. The video Christian took ended up online, and almost instantly went viral.

In response to the video, many on social media began to speculate and insist that Amy Cooper was a Trump supporter and a member of the “MAGA” movement.

However, campaign contribution information — with donations to Democrats such as Barack Obama, Pete Buttigieg, and John Kerry — leaked online earlier today appeared to suggest that Amy actually identifies as a liberal. This matters, because in this political era, during this most critical US presidential election, it is necessary that we understand and recognize that white violence transcends party lines and political ideology.
White Violence!

She clearly is a racist, though, and a privileged woman who thinks the police exist to put other people in their place for her.

Masculinity and the Expert Left

A man called Tom Nichols, apparently chiefly famous for a work on the value of expertise, wrote a piece this weekend wondering why American working-class men accept Trump in spite of Trump's failure to live up to the standards of American working-class manhood.

I'll let you read it rather than summarize it. It's not unreasonable to ask "Is Trump honorable?" "Is Trump courageous?" "Is Trump a man who respects women?" Does he keep his word? Can you rely on him?

Rather I'd like to note something else by way of explanation. Along the way, Nichols cites an American Psychological Association piece on the manhood values these men hold, generally built around how these men are failing and dying off, and one section of which is entitled, "Manhood Gets in the Way." It's not just analysis, it's a general attack on the values they hold -- an assertion that the values are a problem, that the whole system needs to be undermined by 'more educated men' and 'men in positions of power.' Psychologists should work against such manhood; the educational resources of the state should work to undermine these traditional values; power and persuasion alike should be used to unmake these men. For their own alleged good, of course: they'll be 'psychologically healthier' once they give up their ideals and conform to the preferred gender norms.

That's really the answer to the question. These men like Donald Trump not because he's one of them -- he's not one of them. He's not working class, he's a billionaire. He's not a manly man, but he's not from their class. He is, however, on their side. He respects them. He wants them to succeed. He wants them to have good jobs at better pay, and to make American workers like them the envy of the world.

By the same token, for all his flaws, Donald Trump genuinely loves America like they do. He really wants America to be great. He is not willing to trade American greatness for personal gain. He's attached to America, and wants to see her flourish. In that, too, he is on the American worker's side.

The picture might be different if others could manage to be on America's side in the same way, and to respect the values of the American working man rather than bending themselves to undermining those values and that way of life. The whole 'expert' class seems to be united against them, though; it seems to have decided that the world is tired of men like those, and would be better off without them. And so these men find in Donald Trump not just a friend, but practically their only friend in all the halls of power.

That's why they accept him in spite of his flaws. He accepts them, respects them, supports them and their way of life the best that he can. Who else does?

Electric Trucks

I have a friend who builds electric motorcycles as a hobby.  He's a smart guy, a logician by training who works on the design of the LSAT as well as its logical reasoning questions.  He's been bending my ear about the advantages of electric vehicles for years. 

My objections began as a collection of practical points and frankly aesthetic ones:  I like my motorcycle to rumble, for example.  Still, there are also practical reasons why electric vehicles aren't as wise a choice for long-distance work.

That said, he's convinced me that there are many practical arguments in favor of electrics, too.  There are some areas where they are positively superior to gasoline engines:
... it can get out of a jam, such as the mud, because it has a precise, computer-controlled motor built into each wheel. The software slows down the wheels, preventing slippage, giving the vehicle better traction than a traditional pickup, Burns said....

"So a typical gasoline drive-train has well over 1,000 parts. When you look at it that way it’s very prehistoric, it’s essentially a Model T," Burns said. "We have four moving parts."


Typically, when a pickup's bed is empty, it doesn’t drive well because the engine is in the front and the weight is there, Burns said. In the case of the Endurance, the center of gravity is low and the in-wheel motors put weight on the four corners.

"This is a car without a gear, without a transmission and a drive axle, so there is nothing down the middle of the car. The only four moving parts are the wheels," Burns said. "The result is the software that’s driving that and the suspension that’s driving it means you get a pickup that drives like a sports car.”

He said it has performed well in crash tests, too. But Burns knows there are naysayers who don't believe traditional pickup owners will want an electric version, so why enter a truck war you can't win? He believes he will ultimately win it.

"After hundreds of years of refinement and countless hours of engineering, a pickup truck only gets about 17 mpg and it’s not going to get any better," Burns said. "So it really needs a reset. We’re not coming out with a 10% better pickup truck, we’re coming out with a 500% better pickup truck and it’s safer, it’s quieter and it’s fun to drive and it costs less to own.”
Electric trucks also have a big advantage in towing, which is that they can deliver peak torque effectively immediately.

Charging times and range remain practical considerations. Still, we may be approaching the point at which electric vehicles become viable on the long highway and not just in the city.

Rolling Thunder

It turns out last year was the final ride, unless they reconstitute in future years. One year ago today I was there for what organizers billed as the last one. Joel was there too, though we didn’t happen to link up.

Talking About the Queen Again

And on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Ride

Taking Douglas’ suggestion, I took a ride today. This is Bear Lake.

Looking East

Looking South

Bear Lake is near the mountain town of Cashiers, where I stopped for lunch at the newly-reopened (for outdoor seating only) Ugly Dog Pub. This was the first meal I’ve had seated at a restaurant in months. 

After lunch came the ride home, for an evening cookout. 

Local hero

We may never know what motivated this young man, Adam Salem Alsahi, but I'll bet we've got a good idea what motivated the MP, so kudos to her this Memorial Day. Two days ago, a Syrian-born naturalized American citizen with jihadist connections was killed trying to crash the gate of a naval base in Corpus Christi:
The active duty U.S. Navy military police woman at the Ocean Drive gate has probably checked thousands of IDs and allowed access to thousands of authorized people at NAS Corpus Christi.
But yesterday morning, at barely the first light of day, a terrorist tried to get past her. That terrorist, Adam Salem Alsahli (a Syrian born U.S. citizen), picked the wrong gate guard to try to get past. He must’ve thought that all he would have to do is lift the pistol off of his lap, point it at the gate guard (while she looked him in the face) shoot her point blank in the chest and then be able to drive on to the base and use his assault rifle and shotgun to kill as many people as he could.
He sure was wrong!
She took the bullet dead center in her chest, but that happens to be the area of the bullet resistant Kevlar vest, which has a steel, ceramic-coated plate over center mass to protect the heart and vital organs.
Yes, no doubt the impact knocked her down to the floor, but she got right back up and hit the emergency button that activated a very strong pop up barricade, which stopped and disabled the terrorist’s vehicle. Then, as he was getting his assault rifle out of his car, she shot him to death.
In case he was wearing a vest as well, I hope she used a head-shot.  The local press did not oblige with details.

Great printing job on the dog's muzzle:


Have a Grateful Memorial Day

When someone says "Have a happy Memorial Day", it always sounds a little odd.  I saw "Have a <i>grateful</i> Memorial Day" recently, and thought that was perfect.

One reason we erect statues of great historical figures is out of gratitude for their service.  One fine example, and that seems especially fitting for the Hall on Memorial Day is this one-
The Darby Legacy Monument, for BGen William O. Darby, of Darby's Rangers, KIA 30 April 1945 in Torbole, Italy.
The monument features a statue in the form of the classic equestrian statue, but with a twist- General Darby is astride an iron horse instead of one of flesh and bone.  Unique and noble.

So, have a grateful Memorial Day, everyone.  If you're lucky enough to have a steed- either steel or flesh- perhaps go for a ride to celebrate their memories.

The Oldest Saloon West of the Mississippi

Not closing, this American icon.
Hank Williams is moaning his 1949 hit “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” high and mournful from the old quarter-a-song jukebox when we step off the sunny porch and into the neon light....

“Walls went up in the 1850s,” she says. “Was literally a trapping and trading post for mountain men in the area until 1879. When the town got big enough they moved the dry goods next door and this became a saloon ever since then, including the years of Prohibition.”

“The way that happened was the sheriff was in Ogden, so he either came up by mule or by rail,” she smiles, mischief in her eyes. “They knew he was coming. Sometimes he would arrest the owner, his wife would come over and open the bar back up. So that’s why we’ve kind of had a rebellious spirit.”...

The jukebox, underneath a ceiling one regular estimates has $14,000 in signed $1 bills stapled to it, features Willie, Johnny, Merle, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Charlie Pride, and the U.S. Navy Band’s rendition of “The National Anthem.” When they get a new commander, the airmen bring him by and Leslie lets them know he and his family can consider this their home. Some time later, airmen will fondly replace the old commander’s photograph with the new one in its place of honor — the base of the men’s toilet.

Some Good Songs about Motorcycles

LTC Allen West was injured in a motorcycle wreck this evening. I didn't know he was a rider, but I'm not surprised. I've met him in passing, and had him used as a bad example by two sets of JAG lawyers during pre-deployment briefings to Iraq. I hope he'll be just fine.

In his honor, some appropriate music.

That last one is apparently the whole movie, and it's quite a film. It was two years after Easy Rider, and had the same production crew but nothing like the budget. So it's a werewolf film, but they could only afford the makeup artist for three days at the end; and they couldn't mostly afford actors, so they just hired bikers. It's a better movie for both of those restrictions, a plausible new cinema psychedelic piece. I'm not sure it isn't better than Easy Rider, as a biker movie. The more famous film has a better soundtrack in places -- though check the intro to this film, 11:48, and also 31:23 -- and Easy Rider had some great sweeping visuals through Monument Valley, but is otherwise somewhat overrated. These guys were mostly for real.

There is nevertheless a substantial content warning, especially for nudity, sex, and violence. Language, drinking, drugs... well, it's psychedelic new cinema. You're all adults.

UPDATE: LTC West is resting in stable condition, with some fractures. He’s to be released soon.

Herschel Walker?

This is going to go hard for the SEC states. Herschel is a minor god here, even after all this time.