Sometimes a judge gets one right

Woke Woodstock?  Go for it.  Jewish funeral?  Not so fast.

Goal posts on skids

The anxiety level in my county has jumped significantly, though I'm still not quite able to see a big change in objective danger.  Two articles today, one in Spectator and one by Avik Roy, put their finger on my frustration in reading about 20 headlines a day on the uptick in cases in June (say, what happened in June?), which is that reports focus almost exclusively on new cases.  Of course there are going to be more new reported cases if we test a lot more.  What we need to know is, are we getting more hospitalizations?  In particular, are we getting more serious hospitalizations, more ICU impact, enough hospital and ICU impact to overwhelm our medical facilities?  Ultimately, more deaths? Not only do the press reports avoid these issues, preferring to blame Republican governors for forcing people at gunpoint to crowd up against each other in bars and churches, but I'm finding it harder and harder to find good data anywhere on the burden on hospital resources.  Texas hospitalization rates are up, but why wouldn't they be, given that we made people delay elective procedures for several months?  A good number of all the people who show up for knee surgery will also test positive for COVID.  Is that what they're counting?  It's impossible to tell from any of the data sources I've been able to find.

The Spectator article does try:
There are no crises in hospital capacity anywhere in the country. Nursing homes, meat-packing plants, and prisons remain the main sources of new infections. Half the states are seeing cases decline or hold steady. Case counts are affected by more testing; the positive infection rate captured by testing is declining. The current caseload is younger, which is a good thing. The more people who have been infected and who recover, the more herd immunity is created.
Mind you. I'm not 100% persuaded this is a fair picture overall. For one thing, deaths lag case reports--but deaths lag serious hospitalizations a lot less, so I'd rather hear about the latter. Also, overall U.S. rates may obscure an impending problem in a particular area, such as the state that's nearest and dearest to me.

Still, for the last several months, there's been a very weird inability to keep our eyes on the original ball: hunkering down while the virus works its way through the population--something we never seriously imagined we could prevent--while protecting the people at highest risk and avoiding high-tech medical service crunches of the sort that initially terrified us in reports from Italy.

Somewhere along the way, people seem to have gotten the idea, first, that we could make the virus go poof! if we locked down long enough, and second, that we can really lock the economy down indefinitely.


I normally enjoy the New York Post, but this is off-base:  "Democrats in Congress just doomed police reform."  There's no reason for the United States Congress to be involved in any "police reform" except as concerns federal police agencies like the FBI, which admittedly could use some work.  If a local police force work needs work, state and local officials should be taking care of it, unless we want to see results every bit an inspiring as those that resulted from federal reform of public schools.

The underlying red/blue political argument I do get, of course.

OK, now they're just having fun up there

Drones tire of keeping noses to grindstone, strike blow for freedom, teach themselves acrobatics.  Soon they'll be skateboarding instead of looking for jobs.

This just in

Groundbreaking research:
With beauty being a valuable commodity in our society, it's no surprise that women might use it to their advantage when competition heats up.
But only when competition heats up, mind you, which is why they found the phenomenon more pronounced in areas of "gender income inequality."  Get rid of the competition, and everything becomes a reimagined paradise.

Have they considered taxing the rich?

Grizzly Bear Blues

Corb Lund's new album got some of my time today.

Here's a fun song for anyone who might spend part of the weekend with a glass of something.

The young lady singing with him is Jaida Dreyer, if you liked her voice. She's a little too Nashville for me, but she knows her tradition; and she turns out a powerful song now and then.

Compensating the choir unseen

I prefer to think of them as differently vital.  What could better qualify someone as vibrantly alive, helping to weave the exciting human tapestry, than cashing a government check?

We need to reimagine what it means to be among the living, and every other part of society.  I'll begin by denouncing my own part in othering the dead and failing to center their voices.

Ymar’s Post

Friday. All metaphysical commentary goes here.

Drums, drums in the deep

A Balrog stirs.  Or maybe Chthulhu, the results aren't in yet.

Orcs are just Misunderstood

Because of course, Dungeons & Dragons is taking steps to fight racial bias against orcs and dark elves.
Wizards also pledged to take a more nuanced approach with the way it portrays the drow, a race of dark-skinned elves that are depicted as evil, cave-dwelling murderers.... Wizards says it will try to present these races as “just as morally and culturally complex as other peoples” in both the RPG game and its various works of fiction. It also pledged to loosen up the RPG game’s rules around racial bonuses, which previously deemed certain species to be stronger, smarter or more agile than others.

“This option emphasizes that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own,” the company said in its statement.
That's going to make for exciting campaigns, the struggle of good against evil... light against dark, no that one clearly won't do... hm, strong versus weak is right out, because no one is 'really' weak (whatever their Strength score)... 'woke versus unwoke' is too close to 'good against evil'... well, the story's conflict will be, hm, how about 'us against the guys from down the street we just don't like'?


Good news sometimes comes if you wait long enough.

The New National Anthem: "Imagine" by John Lennon

Honestly, if they don't understand why that's a terrible idea, I don't know where to start explaining it.

Getting Warmer

The President keeps using this word, heretofore unfairly, but his opponents are drifting more and more in the direction of making him right.

Strzok had a big mouth

Well, metaphorically. He was way too explicit in his notes and texts, and inexplicably careless about destroying them. He must have felt completely invulnerable.

Muscular dialoguing

From HotAir via Maggie's Farm: another "mostly peaceful" demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin, last night that started with a guy haranguing restaurant patrons saying "I'm disturbing the peace and I've got a bat" (with "Black Lives Matter" helpfully painted on it), followed by his (resisted) arrest, followed by a riot that included beating up a state senator and leaving him on the ground. Also from Maggie's Farm: but we were protected from violence when Twitter censored a dangerous Trump tweet. I'm so old, I can remember when we were being lectured about over-reacting to "non-violent" riots because they only destroyed property, which can recover, unlike bodies. It could be worse. We could be fishing dozens of bodies out of storm drains. Maybe we will be soon, if we keep trying to pretend that violence isn't violence, or that the real violence is silence, or whatever new drivel is being peddled with every new day.

Cleaning up the blood

We watched an old episode of "House" last night, which makes me a doctor, right? The patient had some kind of autoimmune inflammatory problem, so at one point they treated her with plasmapheresis, describing it as a way to filter out excessive ... I don't know, immuno-particle thingies in her blood. That made me wonder if anyone's using that for COVID cytokine storms.

A search for "COVID and plasmapheresis" mostly gets you stories about convalescent serum, which is finally getting going on a significant scale now that there are more recovered COVID patients worldwide.href="">This article suggests that convalescent serum might work even better if plasmapheresis were first used to strain out the excess immuno-stuff, so score one for the House screenwriters. There was a wild, wild story in my local newspaper about the 24-year-old son of a woman I know slightly. Her son came down with COVID back in March, in a sudden and catastrophic form. He seems to have been in ordinarily robust health, just unlucky enough to suffer a vicious immune over-reaction. You can read about it here if you want the gory details, but the short version is that in 3 months in an Austin hospital, where he seems to have received excellent care, he had just about everything done to him that can possibly be done to someone who ultimately survives: medically induced coma, heart-lung machine, dialysis, treatment for septic shock, treatment for a lung abscess, pneumothorax, and collapsed lung, 7 weeks of intubation, tracheostomy, and feeding tubes. One of the things they tried was convalescent serum, the first trial in that hospital. Whether that also included the "coffee filter" aspect of plasmapheresis isn't clear.

I'm also not sure whether they tried dexamethasone, either (the article mentioned "experimental drug to try and treat the cytokine storm"), but that's getting some interest lately, too. We don't hate it yet, because the Bad Man hasn't recommended it.

The New York Times is already cautioning us that it may not be all it's cracked up to be in 100% of cases, so don't start getting optimistic about COVID, the economy, or society, because the important thing is DOOM.

Ymar’s Post

Forgotten yesterday, but here today.

Carts and horses

From Ace: "Old-fashioned virtues like honesty, gentleness, respect, kindness, forbearance, and self-control are not important in a woke environment." The new idea, he says, is that all that matters is the wokeness level. I'd argue that wokeness--however threadbare the concept has become--is not irrelevant to virtue, it's just being applied backwards. The important thing is the traditional virtues. Wokeness comes in when we face the challenge of living up to our virtues even in a conflict with someone from an outgroup, which might be someone with a different race, sex, political philosophy, etc. You don't become a more honest, just, or kind person by self-flagellation over the crimes of your ancestors, or dramatic indulgence in guilt over your previous advantages in life, or stoning un-woke pariahs. You do it by keeping in mind your basic duties even to people who are alien to you in some annoying way. You do it by setting a good example and standing up for people who are being victimized. I mean actually victimized in a particular situation, not per se victimized according to some kind of definition published in a magazine. Unjust situations aren't all that hard to find; we don't need thought police to drum them up for us in our daily lives.

Andy McCarthy: Rule of Law Collapsing

I agree, and have said as much myself; but read his analysis. I do take exception to this line:
Suddenly, Brooks assaulted the police, stole the Taser from one officer and used it on them to help free himself. As he fled, he shot the Taser at the pursuing Rolfe from a little over a yard away, barely missing Rolfe’s head. Rolfe returned fire, striking Rolfe in the back. The police desperately tried to save Brooks with CPR, but he died.
Unless they were able to stop the bleeding from the gunshot wound, I would have phrased that "The police vigorously applied CPR to a gunshot wound patient, significantly contributing to his death." You're just pumping the blood out onto the street at that point.

Did the police know that? Did they have the capacity to stop the bleeding before trying to restart the heart? Was this an attempt to ensure he didn't survive, or an attempt to save him? Those are the sort of questions a trial might well sort out.

However, felony murder (as I've written here before) is an absurd charge, and almost certainly prosecutorial misconduct in this case (and other recent cases). I read it as at minimum an attempt to avoid having to prove the case before a jury by coercing a plea bargain; at worst, an attempt to use the lives of these officers to sway an election, as a kind of blood sacrifice to the demons guiding the mob.

Segregation Leader Joe Biden

So say historians.

JUSTICE Act Wobbly

Sen. Tim Scott's police reform bill just failed to muster the 60 Senate votes needed to proceed to a real vote. Mitch McConnell is using parliamentary procedures to get a second round attempt at getting it past the filibuster.

As has become usual, the motive is not to attain a compromise that nevertheless advances the ball; it's to prevent progress so you have something to complain about.

The Wokal Hoax

Quillette published a variation on the Sokal Squared hoax designed to see just how crazy wokeness really is.
In order to find out how willing liberal Americans are to jettison the country’s cultural identity, I decided, on May 7th, to ask what I thought were outlandish questions—almost to the point of inflicting a Sokal Squared-style hoax on survey respondents. The answers I received amazed me. I then repeated the exercise on June 15th, after the George Floyd killing and subsequent protests to see whether things had gotten even crazier. It turns out they have.

After the preface, “To what extent do you think that the following should be done to address structural barriers to race and gender equality in America,” I presented 16 statements that an amalgamated sample of 870 American respondents could agree or disagree with. The sample is not representative of the American population—I used the Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic survey platforms that thousands of academics use. Respondents on these platforms lean young, liberal, and white. But as this is precisely the group I wished to study, this is not a major limitation. Indeed, I have removed conservatives and centrists to focus only on liberals. Liberals are defined as those who rate themselves as a one “very liberal” or two “liberal” on a five-point scale from “very liberal” to “very conservative.” The liberal sample, consisting of 414 people, was 86 percent white and 53 percent male. Forty percent of liberals identified as “very liberal” and the other 60 percent as just “liberal.”
Topline findings: 70% of his supermajority-white liberals want a new Constitution (79% of 'very liberal's). 44% want Mount Rushmore "respectfully" destroyed (58% of 'very'). Several of the outlandish proposals have majority support, and even more among 'very's.

The smallest level of support came in for a truly extraordinary proposal: 15/17% would like America to abandon English and adopt another language as its national standard -- and not a living language, but a constructed artificial one "forged from the immigrant and Native linguistic diversity of this country’s past." That's more than one in eight who are willing to jettison our entire literary cultural heritage in favor of a language in which no works of literature have ever been written, because that language does not exist.

Arms & the Citizen

My sense is that your duty as a citizen, which includes militia service -- service you should be thinking about as a likely reality in the near future -- suggests that you should own an AR-15 platform in 5.56mm NATO.  That is the rifle that will allow you to interoperate most effectively with regular and National Guard forces, while tying into their supply chains as necessary.  Plus, they have innumerable experts who can train you as opportunity arises if you are not fully trained on the weapon yourself.

Colonel Kurt wrote a longer piece.  He recommends a minimal three-gun setup, with the AR-15 filling the rifle role.

Uh-Oh Barack & Biden

Speaking of Flynn, newly released handwritten notes say Obama personally ordered an investigation by “the right people” and Biden brought up the Logan Act. This looks like a political hit job on the incoming NSA, directed by the President himself — and after the Crossfire Razor investigation showed Flynn not guilty of illicit Russia connections, and while Comey was declaring that the call with the ambassador looked legitimate.

UPDATE: More from The Federalist.

Flynn Case Ordered Dismissed

Appeals court rules no more shenanigans. I expect there might be at least one more, though.

A Shame on our Nation

Another statue:
A few weeks ago, Tadeusz Kościuszko’s monument was vandalized. President @AndrzejDuda begins his visit in #WashingtonDC by paying tribute to a proponent for the abolition of slavery, a distinguished son of #Poland, and hero of the American Revolution. We remember your sacrifice!
They have a right to wonder why we have let the name of their beloved son be slandered.

Statues of the World, Unite

Recent destructions include:

Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant who spent almost his whole adult life as an anti-slavery activist, and who was also a Union officer that died at Chickamagua at age 33.

Lady Forward, a symbolic sculpture of progress made by a female sculptor in the 1890s, during the early phase of the suffrage movement in the US. (Or, if you prefer, "the symbolic gatekeeper of an almost all white capitol that legislates in racism" whose destruction shows "the extent of white fragility".)

Planned destructions include:

* The Emancipation Memorial, erected after the Civil War solely with donations from freed slaves; Frederick Douglass gave the keynote address at its dedication.

This last one is interesting both for the gall of the protesters in putting their opinions before actual freed slaves and Douglass himself, but also because they announced their intent to demolish it days in advance.  They're going to come for it on Thursday at 7 PM local time.  That means that (a) it's an obvious trap, and also (b) they can't pretend that the selection of this statute was a mistake made in the heat of the moment.

What sort of a trap?  That's an interesting question.  Probably they are hoping to draw an aggressive response they can film and then use as propaganda against the government.  However, if I were preparing the government response, I would take care to surveil the site for snipers and the placement of IEDs targeting responders.

You could also steal a march by arresting these people today; they've publicly confessed to conspiracy to destroy public property.

Arms & White Samite Update

After three go-rounds and multiple print proofs, I think the paperback is correct at last. (If any of you should find a printing error, please let me know because I can correct it.) The cover has been adjusted again, and it seems good enough to be re-issued for publication.

So if you wanted one, here it is.

Daily bafflegab report

The best I've found so far today is in an ABC report on the Seattle Mayor's announced plans to work together with others to de-escalate and implement community wishes and expand our consciousness and like wow man:
Durkan said she has met with community leaders, local organizations, protesters, businesses and residents in recent weeks, and there will be continued dialogue on how to reimagine policing itself as well as "every other component of our society."
"Racism is a living, breathing organism," she said. "It permeates our society in so many ways, and we can only undo racism and begin to undo the trauma and injustice by really centering the voices of the people who are affected."
I had a pretty good dose yesterday, too, in a county commissioners meeting in which an inordinate amount of time was spent discussing subcommittees and action plans devoted to the mystery of what they like to call "entrepreneurship incubation."

These people wouldn't know a business plan if it ate them for breakfast. They've heard of a business start-up before, and they think that something must stand between a stalwart would-be local "home-grown" business entrepreneur and fabulous success, followed by buying a home, raising a family, and paying a lot of local taxes. They gather that what most such hopeful young idealists lack is something called "cash," a/k/a what bloodsucking capitalists call capital. They aren't in a position to give startups any cash, because sadly the local tax structure is such that an Economic Development sales tax slot was previously eaten by some other sales tax, and they've hit the ceiling on that. They know ad valorem tax abatements probably won't fly. What to do?

They're going down the usual road: appoint sub-committees to chase grants for business incubation. I must say, they have an extremely firm grip on where the grant money is and how to advance relentlessly toward putting their hands on it: talk about community needs and workforce development and leveraging strengths and light, clean industry and diversification and resilience. What they don't seem to understand is that an entrepreneur has a product to sell, to people who want it and have money to spare from other wants to spend on it, and a business plan for how to finance production and sales until he can turn a "profit" (eek), plus an iron determination to work himself half to death pulling the whole thing off.

When real people with capital to invest see a structure like this, they sometimes write checks in return for a share of the potential future profits. It's called capital. The county doesn't have any, and neither do any of the sub-committees. They're not even going to grab the grant money and use it as capital; all the money will go for studies and salaries of indispensable chairmen and directors to study business incubation.

But at least they didn't spend the meeting talking about centering voices and having continued dialogue on how to reimagine business incubation and every other aspect of our society.


This story about destroying Jesus and Mary statues and stained glass windows has actually been developing for a good part of a week to my certain knowledge; I was watching a woman argue that Christianity's use in colonialism meant that Christianity itself was impossibly wrapped up in white supremacy. Shaun King is at least only interested in destroying 'white Jesus' (and Mary, and priceless artworks dating back many centuries). That woman wanted to eliminate Christianity per se for practitioners' crimes against wokeness.

There remains an open question about whether we shall be allowed to convert to a more acceptable faith, perhaps one of the gay-and-trans-friendly versions of Islam, certainly not Orthodox Judaism; or whether, as in Communist China, we are required to become Scientific Atheists in order to maintain our social credit.

If you are interested in social credit. Maybe it's not the kind of treasure that's really worth having.

Well You Shouldn't, Obviously

Reason: "The CIA Can't Protect Its Own Hacking Tools. Why Should We Trust Government Privacy and Security Proposals?"

A Hammer and Sickle, You Say?

Communists are taking off the mask, I see. In North Carolina, even.

"Social Science" and Racism

A test with the imprimatur of the University of Maryland and UC Santa Barbara, which purports to help you reveal your racism to yourself, is a better example of why these 'social science' field are frauds.

Let us count the ways.

1) Scientific tests should seek to eliminate all but one variable; you control the rest so you can be clear on what has changed. This test, instead, varies its language in ways that muddy what it is measuring, e.g., asking about 'it is offensive' only some of the time, and 'it is okay to...' on other occasions.

2) That ambiguity is made much worse by the fact that 'okay' is an almost endlessly ambiguous word. It can mean anything from "yes" to "I understand" to "enough already!" to "I will do that," and many other things besides. So when you ask people to what degree they agree that 'it is okay to... X' you need to spell out what kind of 'okay' you mean.

For example, is it okay to insult a President? Well, it's legal, unless you are a serving military member; it may be morally permissible even where it isn't legal, in cases where the President may really deserve the words; it may be virtuous even where it isn't legal. Or do you mean that it's 'okay' in the sense of being socially acceptable? It is highly acceptable to insult the current president in some crowds, but completely unacceptable to insult the previous one in similar terms.

3) When they ask about what is offensive, there is no objective fact of the matter about that. People get offended, and people are different. Is the question whether I think a thing is or ought to be offensive, or whether I think that there are people somewhere in my society who would be offended (or that they ought to be, or ought not to be)? If the test cannot avoid these ambiguities, how could it pretend to be offering an apples-to-apples comparison across the responses of different readers? The readers may well have thought they were answering meaningfully different questions.

4) We begin to unravel the real purpose of the exam when we realize that answering "no opinion" counts against you every time. Having no opinion is always treated as evidence of racism. The only answers that won't count against you are the extreme ones -- double thumbs up or double thumbs down -- provided you select the correct one of those options.

5) This is not a test of racism, in other words, but a test of your knowledge of the content of an ideology. You might have no opinion about a question because you haven't thought about it before; that wouldn't be evidence one way or the other about your internal racism. What you are being tested on is having developed the right opinions, and knowing to express them as strongly as possible when asked for them.

6) In that sense the test involves the sort of demand for successful mind-reading one sometimes encounters in bad emotional relationships: if you didn't know this was a problem, that is a proof that you're wrong because you should have picked up on it. If you didn't know what I meant when I said something ambiguous, that is proof that you aren't thinking about this the right way. You should have known what I meant.

7) Finally, a lot of the questions are about fictional cases, where presumably the moral stakes are a lot lower. These cases are run into the same index as cases that affect actual human beings, as if there were an equivalence between real and pretend cases.

Yet in spite of all of this, the test is very proud of itself and its team.
Why Use This Test?
1. Free....

2. Validity and reliability. Empirical testing and factor analysis has shown the validity of the Racism Test. The evidence has been published in scientific journals and has good scientific validity.

3. Based on peer-reviewed research. The present test is based on peer-reviewed research, as published in notable scientific journals and conducted by professional researchers at the University of Maryland and University of California Santa Barbara.

4. Statistical controls. Test scores are logged into an anonymized database. Statistical analysis of the test is conducted to ensure maximum accuracy and validity of the test scores.

5. Made by professionals. The authors of this free online test are certified in the use of numerous psychological tests and have worked professionally with personality and psychological testing.
The fraud is bigger than the test; the real fraud is that these people have been taught to think of what they are doing here as valid, reliable, professional work. They're the real victims; probably they each paid tens of thousands of dollars into this fraudulent scheme. They'll be paying off that debt for decades, and look where it got them.

SlateStar Down

The New York Times brought about the destruction of one of the great blogs.
The second reason is more prosaic: some people want to kill me or ruin my life, and I would prefer not to make it too easy. I’ve received various death threats. I had someone on an anti-psychiatry subreddit put out a bounty for any information that could take me down (the mods deleted the post quickly, which I am grateful for). I’ve had dissatisfied blog readers call my work pretending to be dissatisfied patients in order to get me fired. And I recently learned that someone on SSC got SWATted in a way that they link to using their real name on the blog. I live with ten housemates including a three-year-old and an infant, and I would prefer this not happen to me or to them. Although I realize I accept some risk of this just by writing a blog with imperfect anonymity, getting doxxed on national news would take it to another level.

When I expressed these fears to the reporter, he said that it was New York Times policy to include real names, and he couldn’t change that. After considering my options, I decided on the one you see now. If there’s no blog, there’s no story.
That is most disappointing. We are in a moment in which great works of art, and here the humanities, are destroyed by mobs (or in this case a reasonable fear of the mob). The Times should be ashamed of its role here, insofar as they are capable of shame.

Do Not Trouble the Ghost of Andrew Jackson

Protesters / insurgents tonight met up with a stronger response than they were expecting. The President is idly mentioning that this targeting of Federal monuments is a serious felony, which you might not have realized from the last few weeks.

I read that the Old Guard hopefully issued bayonets and ammunition when this first started. Andrew Jackson would approve.

REH Was Right Part CXXVIII

Norway’s first Viking Age could have been 3,000 years ago.

Ymar's Post

First post in the summertime, astrologically.

Happy Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day

Via BB, of course.

Hendersonville on a Fathers’ Day

It’s a strange year.

But a man can still get a quiet pint. 

The audience as instrument

Bobby McFerrin riffs on the Tom Hanks floor-piano toy scene, while instructing us on the pentatonic scale.

Tesla in Texas

Some weeks back, Elon Musk threatened to move at least some Tesla manufacturing operations to Texas, having lost patience with the California COVID program.  He's reported to be well advanced in negotiations for a site in Austin that might add 5,000 local jobs.  As usual, there's a bidding war, perhaps pitting Austin against Tulsa, Oklahoma, for tax concessions.

I'm not generally a big fan of buying business with personalized tax breaks, but this article mentioned a concession that might make the usual tawdry bargain worth it:  Musk is devoted to the "direct sale" model, while Texas is still wed to the dealer-protection racket.  Musk would demand an exemption from that law, if not an outright appeal.  Get that camel's nose right under the tent, I say, and start shoving.

Also, it would be fun to watch Austin progressives try to reconcile their conflicting views about Musk--job creator!  Gay!  Hostility to COVID submission! Non-approved social views!  Rich guy!--not to mention their approval of "clean" cars and suspicion of factories.

This should be interesting

Yesterday police tried to answer a call in the Seattle Open-Air Faculty Lounge about a shooting that killed one and put another in the hospital in critical condition, but they're turned back by a mob.

Today, I see flag-waving bikers are headed for our newest experiment in brotherly love and tolerance here in the Amerika.