Sose on Australia

I realize that only a few of you are motorcycle riders, and those of you in clubs or associations are not 1%ers but members of Veteran clubs and the like. Nevertheless I think this is one of those 'first they came for the...' situations, where we ought to stand up for the rights of free expression and free association for the outermost.

Likewise, I realize this is Australia, which is a sovereign nation and not a part of our business. However, these are natural rights violations in the Anglosphere -- a process already too far along in terms of the right to self defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to speak freely even when others call what you say 'hateful,' and now the right to wear clothes or tattoos the powers dislike, or to gather with those you choose as friends.

"We get closer and closer to Communism every day." 

Scroll to 9:30 for his set of solutions if you don't want to hear him discuss the problem at length.

Vikings in America by 1021

A new study radiocarbon-dates the tree rings cut by settlers at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Maoist Self-Criticism

Yalies are upset that people are using the term "Maoist" to describe their forays into self-criticism, declaring with four-letter emphasis that the terminology is "racist." 

These Ivy League places are apparently not very good schools. Mao was of course not a race, but an individual; Maoism was not limited to the practice of any race, but was an intense species of Marxism that became popular among more radical Communists worldwide. 

Meanwhile they are avoiding grappling with the merit of the analogy between their practices and Maoism. Like all analogies, this one only carries as far as it does; but there really is a similarity between Maoist self-criticism (a practice that belongs especially to Maoism as opposed to Communism generally) and their teachings on race. Particularly when they are doing 'white fragility' training, the idea is so close as to look like a straight borrowing from Maoist practice: to constantly examine yourself for ideological failings, to self-confess these publicly, and to seek to make further amends in the hope of becoming more perfectly ideologically aligned. 

All this is of course aimed at providing cover for their efforts to eliminate competing ideologies, in this case the Federalist Society. This too is characteristic of Maoism as well.

Lawyers are often told to bang the table when both the facts and the law are against them, but this is mere childish folderol. Yale should be ashamed to be producing such specimens. 


We got booster Pfizer shots this week.  Sore arms, otherwise no big deal.  I'm increasingly concerned by the trend of growing per capita breakthrough deaths among populations who are farther and farther from their initial vaccination dates.  As a general rule, us older types may have immune systems that need more frequent reminders.  If I'm wrong, well, I made the best guess I could.

I'm thinking of getting caught up on other vaccinations, too:  tetanus, shingles, maybe even flu.  Never having had the flu, as far as I know, I've never been in the habit of giving it much thought.

I continue to spend some time on social media every day spreading what I think is the most reliable information about the relative risks of COVID and COVID vaccine.  Most people haven't a clue about probability or risk, it seems.  Someone almost invariably responds with an anecdote about a single person's counter-experience, an approach that makes sense only when one is presented with a claim that a particular result is 100% uniform, and can be falsified by a single negative result.  The idea of comparing two relatively small risks is quite foreign.  A lot of people complain, too, that they can't find absolute answers to questions like "how long will my natural or vaccinated immunity last exactly?"  It's like asking, "How many days until I get a particular kind of cancer, and then how many days will I live?"  Not that it's an excuse for medical experts (or bureaucrats) who offer paternalizing absolutist pap in the form of ironclad edicts, but sometimes you see what tempts them to snap "Stop arguing about it and just do what I say."

Nevertheless, I'm not an idiot, and I have no plans to enjoy being dictated to by people who have blown their own credibility too many times to count.

Lower Your Expectations

There's a quip going around that yesterday's Washington Post editorial summarizes the current administration's policy as nicely as Trump's slogan summarizes his.

Trump:  "Make America Great Again."
Biden: "Try Lowering Your Expectations."

There's an important distinction to be made between policy and individual life. As an individual, in fact many of these disruptions are going to be quite beyond your power to affect. You may be wiser to accept that, and lower your expectations about what your society is able to achieve -- at least for a while. You'll be happier if you focus on the things you can in fact affect.

Indeed, this is the core insight of both Stoicism and Zen/Ch'an Buddhist ethics. For example:
40. Being in the World Without Misery
Huitang said:
What has been long neglected cannot be restored immediately.
Ills that have been accumulating a long time cannot be cleared away overnight.
One cannot enjoy oneself forever.
Human emotions cannot be just right.
Calamity cannot be avoided by trying to run away from it.
Anyone... who has realized these five things can be in the world without misery. 
[Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership, trans. Thomas Cleary (Boston & London: Shambala Pocket Classics), 1993]

The Stoic knows that he cannot change very much at all about the world, and so focuses on the few things that are in his power. These chiefly include whether he becomes upset about things he cannot control, or accepts the world as he finds it and focuses his effort on behaving virtuously. This begins with accepting that death is certain, and he must live courageously in spite of its certainty. (Cf. 'calamity cannot be avoided by trying to run away from it.') It eventually embraces all things that cannot be changed: the bus is late, the supply chains are disrupted, the autumn is short and the cold winter is coming, beloved dogs do not live as long as we do, and neither do our fathers. 

So, as an individual ethic, this is excellent advice that lies at the core of wise ethical systems. 

It is less good as policy advice. There are more things that an organized community can do than that an individual can do, and merely accepting that things will get worse was not acceptable even to the Stoics or the Buddhists. Marcus Aurelius was both a Roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher. He did not neglect the affairs of the empire out of Stoic virtue, but rather used his Stoic virtue to focus on what he could change for the better at any moment in time. That Zen Lessons in Leadership book is chiefly intended to capture lessons about how monasteries and communities structured themselves and were led by wise men. The best course for anyone is always to do one's duty, and if one must have leaders their duties entail good leadership. 

While these problems cannot be cleared away overnight that does not mean they cannot be cleared away at all. Oil prices are high because of decisions about pipelines and drilling as much as because of other things. We could be building nuclear power plants near cities to pursue both power and clean energy. We could eliminate punitive government regulations that tie up truckers and ports -- indeed even the current administration waived the regulations on port operating hours as a part of its strategy for overcoming the problems. 

Part of the administration's problem is that it refuses another core Stoic lesson, which the Zen and Ch'an Buddhists also accept: living in accordance with nature. They keep wanting wind and solar power to be the answer, so they act as if the technology were as reliable as they want it to be rather than as reliable as it actually is. Germany is having power problems because they focused on wind, and the wind was light this year. China is having power problems because they relied on hydropower -- which works pretty well in some places -- and then this year there wasn't much rain. Solar power likewise has limits they don't want to accept.

It would be very nice for them if everyone would lower his expectations, or hers as the case may be. Then they might be better placed to act as if the world worked the way they wanted it to instead of the way it does. Somehow socialist economies always come around to "lower your expectations" because expectations at any level prove increasingly difficult to satisfy. Humans have a nature too, one that we have to accept rather than trying to change, and this is the core difficulty of their project.

So in a way the quip was right about the political matters, though quite wrong about the ethical ones. That would be an oddity if Plato had been right that the community should be ordered the same way as the soul; then politics would be an exact reflection of ethics, with the community ordered so as to be brave and moderate, wise and good but simply at a higher level of organization.

In fact Plato was wrong about that; that is the fallacy of composition. What is right at one level of organization is not always right at another. A good family operates on different principles than a good state, rather than the state simply being a higher order of the family. A good person is not merely a good member of his various communities, though the Stoics are correct that it is in communities that individuals flourish. The internal virtues remain important even when one is alone, and even when interacting with strangers with whom one shares no community -- as at war, when courage matters in facing an enemy, and magnanimity might lead one to victory or peace through the establishment of a new kind of community. 

Crusader Sword found off Israel

It hasn't been cleaned up yet, but it looks like a 900 year old sword probably lost at sea in battle.

How is this not Satire?

I had to double check because of course it must be; but no. 

"Dr. Rachel Levine becomes nation's first transgender four-star officer."

Headlines from 1984

"Iron Maiden-loving principal will keep her job, despite parents’ petition for dismissal."

Really, Iron Maiden? Did Tipper Gore come out of retirement? 

These days I guess they'd be controversial for a whole new set of reasons. 

RIP Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has died at age 84. The news reports all mention "COVID complications," as well as the fact that he was fully vaccinated. What's probably more telling is that he was also being treated for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells that collapses the immune system. The best vaccine in the world won't help someone whose immune system in kaput.

Who's under the thumb

My old hometown newspaper misses the point of objections to mandates.  In this OpEd, it argues that "a ban on mandates is still a mandate." I suppose so, if you want to put it that way, but what's wrong with mandates is not just that they're an exercise of power.  There's a big difference between a mandate that ties the hands of a government and one that ties the hands of a citizen.  The U.S. Constitution is full of mandates that tie the hands of governments, and thank goodness.

No matter how many COVID mandates Gov. Abbott bans, no individual in Texas is any less free to receive all the vaccines he can get his hands on, provided that the FDA doesn't outlaw them and medical staff don't refuse to administer them.  The push for COVID mandates can't be contorted into a blow for freedom or autonomy, unless by "freedom and autonomy" one means the freedom of governments to bully their citizens.  If someone is breaking no law, the government shouldn't be able to force him to do anything--and we should be careful what laws we pass.

Employers have more discretion, but even they are limited in some of the ways they're entitled to intrude on their employee's religious and medical decisions.  In that arena, though, I'm more inclined, first, to prevent the government from leaning on the employer and, second, to let the employees vote with their feet.

Astonishment on a Ride Through Georgia

I went down to the Stone Mountain Scottish Highland Games this weekend. Friday night was warm, and very little autumn color has occurred there though in other years it is often high color by the weekend of the Stone Games. We camped as always; on Saturday morning a squall blew through hard and fast, and by afternoon the weather was cool and clear.

One of the people around our fire Saturday night was a Canadian singer of Irish traditional music named Michael Kelly. He and I went through a whole host of songs, and to my astonishment he and I knew almost none of the same songs. Wild Rover we both knew, but he had never even heard of Dubliners or Clancy Brothers standards like The Old Orange Flute, or Kelly, the Boy from Killane

Instead, he knew a whole array of songs I've never heard before. It was akin to discovering that there's a second Bible, or a whole set of Tolkien novels you'd never read. 

Looking at his YouTube channel I see that we know a few more of the same songs than we happened to come up with by the fireside, but it's still got a number of songs that may be new to you as they are to me. And of course the echoing joy of will be when he discovers the Clancy Brothers, which a singer of Irish traditional songs will love like finding the first Bible. 

Bari Weiss on Madness

Brian Stetler is pushing back hard on her here, but she's right.

Oz: Bikers May No Longer Have Tattoos, Gather in Public

These are felony offenses. 

Denying Last Rites in the name of Security

There’s just been a complete loss of perspective about what really matters

Closing the Clinic in the name of Health

It’s not like dialysis is important or time-sensitive. 

Not watching the same movie

A CNN political analyst betrays a strange way of thinking about the decisions voters will face in 2022:
[Voters will] look to Virginia to assess the importance of key issues and talking points. Republicans will gauge how effective their culture war agenda is faring. Should they continue railing against vaccine and mask mandates and criticize the way race is taught in schools? Or should they focus on other concerns like inflation and supply chain disruptions to undercut the President and win elections in 2022?
Democrats on the other hand, will assess their core arguments -- namely that the President is normalizing governance and putting forth effective policies to contain the spread of the pandemic. Will this be enough to win the support of voters in swing districts who are crucial to maintaining control of the House in 2022?
This fellow looks at a Republican philosophy of autonomy and personal responsibility and mostly sees a culture war combined with a weird "wailing" about what all right-thinking people obviously acknowledge to be core principles of citizenship: forcing vaccinations and masks on the unwilling while shutting down debate about their efficacy and risks. He apparently believes inflation and supply chain disruptions are more like real issues, but in the hands of Republicans, they become mere tools to "undercut" our rightful leader. On the other hand, when Democrats have ideas, they are "core arguments," even if they consist of patent lunacy, like the notion that the President is doing something we could call "normalizing governance" or pursuing "effective policies," or that responsible parents should keep shoveling their tax dollars into a race-baiting public school curriculum, while letting their daughters be raped in bathrooms by boys in skirts, then jailed for complaining about it.

I suspect the power to manipulate even the squishiest of "I just want everyone to act nice" moderates with the argument that President Biden is normalizing government or pursuing effective policies has sputtered out over the last six months. It may sound like a culture war to CNN, and not the good kind, like keyboard-headbutting acronyms for social justice revolution, but voters in 2022 may have let the current powers that be get on their last nerve.

In the meantime, I hope CNN has its finger on the pulse of the Democrat leadership's preferred path to win voters' hearts and minds, and that the path leads to a flame-out you can see from space.

Speaking of space:

Hands across the water

I'm no Democrat, apart from being a Democrat

This is about like saying, "I'm no Communist, but I advocate seizing all the means of production by force." True, it's intellectual lunacy, but that doesn't matter, because Trump.

Put the Whole Government on Vacation

Amid all these supply chain disruptions, it was just noticed today that the Secretary of Transportation has been on vacation for two months. 

We'd be better off if they'd all take indefinite maternity leave just like him. 

If you'd like answers, try this.


It's a strange world, but sometimes good things happen.


"Permanent Emergency Powers"

Australia has hit upon the winning idea of disqualifying legislators over COVID mandates, "giving Labor a majority in both houses of parliament, allowing them to pass proposed permanent emergency powers."

That's Australia. Here in North Carolina, they're about to disqualify Republican-appointed justices on the state supreme court -- NOT over COVID excuses -- in order to overturn a constitutional amendment requiring Voter ID. 

We are getting to the point that there's no pretense, only power plays. 

No one wants to hear it

Kurt Schlichter looks forward to a GOP primary battle in 2024. He assumes it may be with Mike Pompeo, whom he likes well enough in a (yawn) way, but he'd prefer Trump if his President in Exile can run the right campaign:
Trump has to work out some kinks in his delivery. As Byron York observed, at a recent rally he had the crowd rocking when he was roasting President * over his myriad failures, from the border to Afghanistan to inflation and beyond. Yet, when Trump started going on and on about 2020 in excruciating detail, the rally got off to a flying stop.

The Closer

We watched and enjoyed "The Closer." It's a little startling to see Netflix show some spine about this. "People can and should disagree with one another, but canceling speech is not an argument."

An Eldritch Tale

Once upon a time there was a college of wizards who strove for light and knowledge. Unbeknownst to them, however, their most trusted body of elders were swayed by love of wealth and power into the service of ancient, dark gods. 

For years the college heard dark rumors of graduate students being exploited, forced to work for poverty wages while taking on massive student loans. They heard about students mortgaging their futures to gamble on being one of ten thousand chosen for a tenure-track job. They watched those students work for free for years, producing journal articles for free in the hope of bolstering their chances at one of those rare jobs. 

The tenured wizards watched with dismay, too, as most of their students failed and ended up in adjunct or lecturer positions that held no hope of rising to the security or pay they themselves knew. A scant few managed to obtain positions on the tenure track, but even these lucky few sacrificed years more in unpaid service and free labor producing 'peer-reviewed' scholarship in hopes of finally gaining tenure.

All the while, however great their discomfort, the tenured wizardry let the wicked cabal feast upon the blood of the young and the weak. They kept their own safety around them like a cloak, sorrowing for their students but defending their own gain.

And then one day, it turned out that the blood feasts had brought unspeakable power to the wicked circle at the core of the college. That was the day they proved strong enough to feast upon the tenured, too. 

Least This Complaint is Real

Our Lieutenant Governor is a pretty cool guy, but he shares the conservative black community’s idea about trans*\gay stuff. Normally attempts to cancel conservatives are spun sugar, but this guy is definitely clear about his thoughts.
“I’m saying this now, and I’ve been saying it, and I don’t care who likes it: Those issues have no place in a school,” Robinson said at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, N.C. “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality — any of that filth.”

This is much harsher than my own opinion about homosexuality at least, but it is the traditional understanding— indeed it would have been an unexceptional thing for a man to say, even a politician, when I was young. Critics say that it now represents an unacceptable proof of discrimination, even hate speech. 

He’s an elected official, so you could say that the voters will decide what is acceptable. One might say instead that political officers ought not to hate or discriminate; but I notice that standard is never applied to those who hate conservatives. 

I suppose I care a lot more about his robust defense of gun rights than his opinion of sexual minorities. I can see how a gay man might be alarmed, though. 

Straw men

As this Washington Examiner article notes, it's hard enough to reach a compromise when you have some idea what your opponent wants:
A 2018 study asked 2,100 adults to identify what they believed about a wide range of political issues and then asked them to estimate what people in the other political party believed about those same issues.
The study found that centrists and those not interested in politics did much better at estimating what the other party believed than politically involved partisans. But while a person’s level of education made no difference when Republicans estimated what Democrats believe, the more time Democrats spent in school, the worse they did at identifying what Republicans believed. Democrats with a high school degree did worse than those without. Democrats with a college degree did worse than high school graduates. And Democrats with a graduate degree did worst of all.
It seems that the longer liberals stay walled off in communities dominated by their own kind, which is exactly what higher education has become, the worse they are at understanding and empathizing with those who hold other views.
Censoring all the unclean thoughts comes with a price.

Report on Post-Vaccination Peri/Myocarditis Side Effect

This is a presentation by a cardiology fellow on the issue of pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardial sack around the heart) and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart tissue itself) following COVID-19 vaccination.

I've set it to start when he discusses the wider conclusions and implications. The first roughly 10 minutes are a detailed discussion of two patients who suffered these side effect.

TL; DL (too long; didn't listen):

This side effect is mostly seen in male (76%) patients aged 12-29 (57%). Out of 52 million people vaccinated in that age group, there have been 1,226 reports of this side effect. It's not nothing, but it's pretty rare.

Now that's a press secretary

Selective trust

Grim's post about the Ships of Tarshish reminded me of the excellent Orthosphere site, where I found this useful guide to selective trust and distrust of experts. I can scarcely remember a time in my life when so many people were leaning on me to believe them uncritically, and with so little demonstrated justification. Meanwhile, people who think I should take their journalism seriously are doing their best to hide a fairly big story about a growing trend toward general strike. Could these people finally have jumped the shark?

Blackstrap Molasses

Mentioned in the recent recipe, blackstrap has a long history of recommendation as a health food. 

Not Working Your Service Job is Terrorism

This is getting a little predictable

Beware the Ships of Tarshish

A very nice post at the Orthosphere.

CNN: American Forces in Fallujah were Murderers

It’s par for the course these days, as contemporary left-leaning media continue to play out their Vietnam-redux fantasy. They even mention Vietnam, while quoting only servicemen who describe the battle as a source of shame and moral concern. 

Yale: Official Commitments to Academic Freedom Don't Represent Who We Are as a University

'We're more of a woke kind of place, really.' 

"What are Yale’s promises worth? If we are to believe its lawyers in court a few weeks ago, they’re not worth that fancy paper the Woodward report is printed on."

The princess and the pea

"Come and get me, copper!" I guess we're talking about psychic violence, because otherwise I can't make much sense of allegations of terrorism against soccer moms who raise their voices at school board meetings.
So [in] this crazy time that we’re living in, I can’t even believe it’s happening, you really learn who’s willing to put their boots on your neck, given the opportunity. And when this is all over, we all need to remember who those people were, because we can’t trust them anymore.
Our local schools are nothing to write home about, but the school board doesn't have jackbooted goons on it, either.

Grim's Barbecue Sauce

Tonight I'm making pulled pork and smoked chicken for my guests, the pork being a Boston butt seared on the grill and then slow cooked overnight in the crock pot. I like barbecue as a meal for traveling guests (at least those who are not ethical vegetarians -- I'm not quite sure what I'll feed her yet) because it can enhance the touring experience. Barbecue is a food with many regional sauce variations, and some cooking variations, so you can show outsiders both what the barbecue is like here and what it is like in various regions nearby.

I secured the local barbecue sauce from the firefighter who makes it for the annual VFD fundraiser barbecue. It's more vinegar-based than I like myself, but it is locally very popular. Across the border in South Carolina they make a mustard-based sauce, and across the border in Tennessee they make a ketchup-based sauce.

I grew up in the Great State of Georgia, though, so I make a Georgia-style sauce that is spicy and slightly sweet. I thought some of you might like to try it. I never measure anything, so measurements are somewhat guesswork -- if you make it yourself add more of whatever you think you'd like more of, and less if you'd like less of it.

Grim's Barbecue Sauce

1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
Several cups brewed black coffee
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chipotle powder (a smaller amount of cayenne would be more typical for a Georgia sauce, but the larger quantity of chipotle adds to the smoky flavor)
1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
1 tsp chili powder (or just ancho chili powder)
1 tsp black pepper
Small shot, Apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Scrape the tomato paste out of the can and into a warm (not hot) cast iron pan (or you can do it in a crockpot on low heat). Dissolve the tomato paste in hot black coffee. When I'm doing it, I use French roasted coffee, make more coffee than usual that morning, and leave it to cook down for hours until it is very strong. Dissolve sugar and molasses into this mixture, tasting to ensure it is sweet enough but not sweeter than you'd like. (You might try dividing the tablespoon into three teaspoons if you'd like a not-very-sweet sauce, and adding one of each until it's where you want it. As I said, I'm only guessing about how much I use anyway.)

After you get the sweetness where you want it, add the spices, adjusting as you like until it suits your particular preference.

Cook over low heat until the sugars caramelize, adding more brewed black coffee as necessary to thin it so it doesn't burn. You can also thin it with more apple cider vinegar if you think you'd enjoy a brighter, more acidic flavor. Once the sugars are caramelized properly, you can allow it to thicken. Remove from heat and serve. 

Alternatively, you can double the recipe and cook it all together with the meat in the crock pot. That will give it a much meatier flavor as the sauce will absorb the juices from the pork. 

UPDATE: I often add oregano or sage to it once it boils, especially if they're in season.

Childproof caps

I never thought I'd come to enjoy Matt Taibbi so much. 

This was the beginning of an era in which editors became convinced that all earth’s problems derived from populations failing to accept reports as Talmudic law. It couldn’t be people were just tuning out papers for a hundred different reasons, including sheer boredom. It had to be that their traditional work product was just too damned subtle. The only way to avoid the certain evil of audiences engaging in unsupervised pondering over information was to eliminate all possibility of subtext, through a new communication style that was 100% literal and didactic. Everyone would get the same news and also be instructed, often mid-sentence, on how to respond.

Sleepwalking into disaster

Ezra devotes a great deal of this very interesting political analysis of pollster-strategist David Shor to bemoaning the fact that Democrats are pushing policies that voters should love but in fact hate, and to evaluating competing strategies for finding a way of talking about unpopular policies so that voters see the light and fall in line.  Failing that, to hiding the Dems views on toxic subjects.  Sadly, voters sometimes resist falling in line and even, horrifyingly, find out what Dems really are like to do and therefore vote for the bad people on the right.

Shor’s critics [including Michael Podhorzer, the longtime political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.] argue that he’s too focused on the popularity of what Democrats say, rather than the enthusiasm it can unleash. When pressed, Podhorzer called this theory “viralism” and pointed to Trump as an example of what it can see that popularism cannot. “A lot of things Trump did were grossly unpopular but got him enormous turnout and support from the evangelical community,” Podhorzer said. “Polling is blind to that. Politics isn’t just saying a thing at people who’re evaluating it rationally. It’s about creating energy. Policy positions don’t create energy.”
Podhorzer also pointed to Biden: “He’s done much more than I thought he’d be able to do. All the things he’s doing are popular. And yet he’s underwater.”
I'm not sure how to account for Podhorzer's belief that "all the things Biden's doing are popular," unless he means that they're popular with his buddies. The polls have been brutal lately across the entire board, from COVID strategy to Afghanistan to taxing and spending to the border to Biden's character and mental decline. In any case, Dem strategists betray a strange disconnect from the idea that they are accountable to voters, tending instead to view themselves as doctors who need to slip us a mickey so they can undertake massive reconstructive surgery that we'll thank them for later.
What does create energy, Podhorzer thinks, is fear of the other side. His view is that Democrats’ best chance, even now, is to mobilize their base against Trump and everything he represents. “The challenge in 2022 is to convince people that they’re again voting on whether or not the country is going in a Trumpist direction,” he said.
What he doesn't see, presumably, is the kind of fear his own party creates in its opponents, though he and his friends will speak casually about how much conservative Hispanics turn from blue to red because they fear job destruction, border chaos, and socialism.
This is an argument Shor is happy to have. “I think the conventional wisdom has swung too far toward believing policy isn’t important,” he said. He agrees that enthusiasm matters, but it has to be enthusiasm for a message that doesn’t alienate the undecided. “A lot of politics is about what you talk about,” he told me. You should sort your ideas, he said, by popularity. “Start at the top, and work your way down to find something that excites people. But I think that what actually happens is people sort by excitement first. And the problem is the things that are most exciting to activists and journalists are politically toxic.”
This can read as an affront to those who want to use politics to change Americans’ positions on those issues. “The job of a good message isn’t to say what’s popular but to make popular what needs to be said,” Shenker-Osorio told me.


 I wonder if there were any energy policies we might have been pursuing that could have avoided some of this trouble?

A "global energy crisis caused by weather" is one way to put it, if you want to obscure the fact that the weather in question is cold, while still beating this drum: "Further complicating the picture is mounting pressure on governments to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy as world leaders prepare for a critical climate summit in November."

Just keep digging that hole.

Maricopa County: Yes, We Deleted Election Data

This hearing is lawyerly but brutal. The congressman gets them to admit that they deleted the data ("but we archived it") and did not turn over subpoenaed data to the audit ("because they did not subpoena our archives, only our servers"). It turns out, though, that the data was deleted after the subpoenas arrived.

Then he gets them to intimate that this 'archiving' of data is just standard practice due to the needs of clearing out space on servers for the next election. "Can you explain, then," he asks only after giving them all this rope, "why the records from earlier elections are still present?"


On Scots

An anonymous commenter left a link to an interesting article on the Scots language. I love linguistic history, and Scotland and things Scottish, so it was well-placed here. There is, however, an important omission in the history as presented.
Scots arrived in what is now Scotland sometime around the sixth century. Before then, Scotland wasn’t called Scotland, and wasn’t unified in any real way, least of all linguistically. It was less a kingdom than an area encompassing several different kingdoms, each of which would have thought itself sovereign—the Picts, the Gaels, the Britons, even some Norsemen. In the northern reaches, including the island chains of the Orkneys and the Shetlands, a version of Norwegian was spoken. In the west, it was a Gaelic language, related to Irish Gaelic. In the southwest, the people spoke a Brythonic language, in the same family as Welsh. The northeasterners spoke Pictish, which is one of the great mysterious extinct languages of Europe; nobody really knows anything about what it was.
The Anglian people, who were Germanic, started moving northward through England from the end of the Roman Empire’s influence in England in the fourth century. By the sixth, they started moving up through the northern reaches of England and into the southern parts of Scotland. Scotland and England always had a pretty firm border, with some forbidding hills and land separating the two parts of the island. But the Anglians came through, and as they had in England, began to spread a version of their own Germanic language throughout southern Scotland.

There was no differentiation between the language spoken in Scotland and England at the time; the Scots called their language “Inglis” for almost a thousand years. But the first major break between what is now Scots and what is now English came with the Norman Conquest in the mid-11th century, when the Norman French invaded England....

Norman French began to change English in England, altering spellings and pronunciations and tenses. But the Normans never bothered to cross the border and formally invade Scotland, so Scots never incorporated all that Norman stuff. It would have been a pretty tough trip over land, and the Normans may not have viewed Scotland as a valuable enough prize. Scotland was always poorer than England, which had a robust taxation system and thus an awful lot of money for the taking.

“When the languages started to diverge, Scots preserved a lot of old English sounds and words that died out in standard English,” says Kay. 

Now if that were true, Scots would be nearly as incomprehensible to Modern English speakers as Old English and significantly moreso than Middle English. Middle English is the form of English that resulted after the Norman Conquest changed the language of the English court to French, so that the common people began of necessity to adapt to a lot of French sounds, words, and concepts. In fact the bulk of Modern English's words are Romance words that came into the language through the Anglo-French lords who followed the Norman conquest, though the most common used words are old Germanic words from the original language. 

In fact, Scots is at least as easy to comprehend as a modern English speaker as is Middle English -- probably rather moreso. There are two reasons why this is true. 

First, the account omits the English conquest of Scotland by Edward I "Longshanks," and second, it omits that the nobility of Scotland was even prior to that Anglo-Scottish and intermarried with the Anglo-Normans. Thus, even in the north the Scots language was being influenced by French in parallel with the southern English. As a result, Scots is more like Middle English than Old English both in vocabulary and in difficulty of cross-comprehension with Modern English. 

Scotland benefitted from this familiarity with French in several respects over the centuries. It gave outlaw Scottish lords a place to go during the long War of Independence, and a place to which they could appeal for support. After the Scottish victory under Robert the Bruce, Scotland and France developed warm ties and trade relations. In the Hundred Years War, they were frequently allied against the English.

The English did later try to suppress Scottish culture, as the article goes on to suggest; and yet the French ties remained. The Jacobites who supported the kings who went south to rule over England were eventually to appeal to the French much as their ancestors had done in Robert the Bruce's day, and after their final defeat at Culloden it was to France that Bonnie Prince Charlie fled. 

In any case Scots is a good language to learn, as it helps the mind to be able to stretch into allied languages. Here is an introduction.

Clear as mud

I usually like to put the effort into teasing apart the confusing accounts of U.S. Congressional parliamentary squabbles, but I've about had it with the "bipartisan" $1.5T Spendapalooza Classic vs. the "Build Back Bolshevik" $3.5T(-ish) Spendapalooza on Stilts, and the daily drama over whether one can be done without the other, or whether the national monetary system will crash if we don't do both, or if we don't raise the debt ceiling, adopt more continuing spending resolutions, or pack the Supreme Court, or admit ten new states, or abolish the Electoral College, or put the final stake through the heart of the filibuster. These people have all lost their minds.

HotAir ran a piece that explains a bit about whatever today's possible world-saving pseudo-deal may be. My simplistic take, all I could figure out before exasperation set in, is: reconciliation is a way to get out from under the filibuster without actually abolishing the filibuster. We can do only one (?) reconciliation gambit per year. Reconciliation is unattractive, however, because if you pretend something is a budget bill, people can try to attach endless amendments to it, and U.S. Senators have to vote on each amendment, without any ability to pretend they don't know what their positions are or what's in the bill. Also, it eats up time and patience, hence its nickname Vote-a-Rama. That is, it's OK to eat up the common people's time and patience, but for Vote-a-Rama the Senators actually have to sit through it and cast all those tiresome votes in person when they have better things to do.

So Mitch McConnell agreed to some kind of deadline extension, but threatened to drag the Senate through Vote-a-Rama later, whereas the Democrats have no intention to doing any such thing now or later. In the meantime, we still don't know whether the Dems can resolve their internal dissent long enough to salvage one bad bill, Classic, as the risk of losing their shot at an even worse one, Stilts, absent which no agenda worth having can possibly be shoved down the country's throat before they're all ejected bodily from office. As usual, it's all the GOP's fault for failing to support the Dems' dreams of a perfect world.

Locust Update

The first night I fed our guests protein-plus pasta, topped with home-canned sauces made from my garden. One of the sauces was a rich sausage sauce, partly Italian sausage and partly Andouille. Of course their daughter is an ethical vegetarian -- isn't everyone her age? -- and so separate elements of meals have to be prepared for her. She is nevertheless the least irritating member of the family, so it's fine. I made a sweet basil and tomato sauce that was meatless just by good fortune, so that was easily done the first night. 

The second night I decided to do cowboy cooking. They went off to Asheville with my wife, so I had a quiet day to prepare. I had not intended to make chili, because these people are from Indiana. My wife asked if I was going to make chili, in fact, and I said, "Of course not. These Indiana people can't eat my chili." 

"That's true," she replied at once. 

Nevertheless while they were off for the day I realized I had some hamburger that was getting old, so I decided to make chili for myself for lunch. Since I had it on hand, then, I offered it at supper as well. 

When I do cowboy or 'chuck wagon' cooking, the rule is that everything has to be the kind of thing you could either carry on a chuck wagon or source along the trail. You can incorporate some fresh peppers, since you could pick peppers on the trail, and fresh onions travel well in a chuck wagon. Of course you could kill a steer or pluck some trout out of a stream. Butter travels well if packed in flour, as does bacon. Otherwise everything has to be dry goods: dried peppers and chilies, spices, powdered buttermilk biscuits, dried beans, and so forth. 

So I ended up serving a bone-in chuck roast, cowboy beans, bacon, biscuits, trout for the ethical vegetarian (who will eat fish 'because it isn't raised in horrible factory farms'), and chili because I had it. 

Served all of this, my brother-in-law immediately asked, "Is there some sort of sauce for the meat?" 

"Yes," I said pleasantly. "There's this chili con carne I made. You probably won't want to eat it straight, but it would be an excellent dipping sauce for the meat." 

(That meat was delicious plain, but there's no accounting for bad taste.)

So he dipped his beef in the chili, and shortly thereafter commenced to making gasping sounds and drinking lots of water. Still, I'll give him credit -- he kept going back and trying it again, even though each time he went on about how it had a lot of bite and burn ("About seven seconds in"). 

My wife told me that after I left the room for the evening he allowed that it was the best chili he'd ever tasted, even though he couldn't really eat it. I notice he didn't bring his family by for dinner tonight, though. 

Modeling human action is hard

Powerline linked to an article that tries to think sensibly about what kinds of lockdowns do more good than harm, and why predictive lockdown models failed so miserably.

Still More Truckin' Songs

In the most famous of them all, the truck-driving singer proclaims, "I could have a lot of women, but I'm not like some of the guys." Red Sovine was singing about being one of those guys.

That tune -- which you may recognize from Sesame Street -- is not the original tune for the Motorcycle Song, but Arlo adopted it in some later renditions. (You can scroll back in this video if you want to hear amusing stories.)

Dick Curless sang about being 'one of those guys' too.

I guess there's a sense in which truckers were like the sailors of an earlier era, with 'a wife in every port.' There are a lot of songs about that too.

Still moving in the right direction

Believe These Scientists?

Project Veritas nails Pfizer with multiple interviews from their scientists. Short findings: the vaccines are not as effective as natural immunity; the money is so huge as to be corrupting to the culture in Pfizer; and vax-induced heart attacks are a big enough concern that they're conducting an internal study that might result in the vaccine being pulled from the market. 

FBI Ordered to Mobilize Against Parents

 Oppose critical race theory? You’re a terrorist. 

Oz loses it

New South Wales's government rattles itself to pieces.
In the United States, we tend to think of the Aussies as rugged individualists with little tolerance for government oppression. In that sense, we probably see some similarities between our two peoples. But as one Aussie analyst recently quipped during the evening news, the problem isn’t that Australia is peopled by folks who are the descendants of criminals and prisoners. The problem is that it’s being ruled by the descendants of jailors.

Hamstringing your own IQ

Thoughts about reality testing, or what I would call the ostensible crime of "sowing seeds of doubt," from Jonathan Haidt at Persuasion:
In 1859, John Stuart Mill laid out the case that we need critics to make us smarter, and that we should have no confidence in our beliefs until we have exposed them to intense challenge and have considered alternative views:
[T]he only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner. The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it.
* * * 
By abolishing the right to question, a monomaniacal group condemns itself to holding beliefs that are never tested, verified, or improved. We might even say that monomaniacal groups are likely to be wrong on most of their factual beliefs and their diagnoses of the problems that concern them. And if they are wrong on basic facts and diagnoses, then whatever reforms they propose to an institution are more likely to backfire than to achieve the goals of the reformers.

Maintaining a healthy skepticism is not the same as nihilism.  We can remain open to information and ideas even while adopting temporary, tentative conclusions that aid whatever decisions cannot rightfully be postponed.  There will even be times when a potentially temporary conclusion seems so obvious that we feel entitled, not only to adopt it for our own behavior, but to impose it on others by force.  On those occasions, however, our willingness to tolerate seeds of doubt in ourselves and others is heightened, not relieved.  As compelling as is our duty to use discernment and judgment in reaching conclusions that guide our own behavior, we'd better be all that much more rigorous in our discernment and judgment about people to whom we delegate power, or whose crusades we enlist in, because when we act in concert, we multiply both our power and our blameworthiness if we get it wrong.

We should be fastidious in action and the use of force, but generous in entertaining new data and counterintuitive notions.  What I'm seeing increasingly in my country's culture is the opposite:  careless abandon in imposing wild new schemes of mandatory behavior or commandeering of resources, combined with rigid control over the discussion and dissemination of contrarian ideas and puzzling information.

Rank Betrayal by the 82nd Airborne Commander

The 82nd is a storied unit, and one of the front line forces of the United States because of their rapid deployment capability. They take pride in this difficult duty, and as an Airborne unit their members are authorized distinctive maroon berets. 

Most recently they were rapidly deployed to Kabul to shore up the airhead at HKIA during the military collapse in Afghanistan. For the most part these paratroopers behaved honorably during a difficult and sudden duty. 

During the last hours of the evacuation, according to troops under his command and as documented by photographs and witness statements, Donahue ordered all of the passengers aboard a C-17 transport plane to disembark so he could have a souvenir loaded onto the plane. That souvenir, or “war trophy,” was an inoperable Taliban-owned Toyota Hilux with a fully operational Russian ZU-23 anti-aircraft autocannon mounted in the bed. Once the Hilux was loaded passengers were allowed back on the plane, but, of course, there wasn’t room for all of them. According to troops on the scene, at least 50 people and perhaps as many as 100 people were left at Kabul to make room for the Hilux.

It is believed that many of those left behind have been or will be killed by the Taliban, in part because of information allegedly provided to Taliban commanders by Donahue himself....

One military intelligence source, who requested anonymity, told RedState:
“Some of those on the last planes out were key HUMINT assets. At least 50, likely as many as 100 were left behind after being removed from the flight. But the 50 were bonafide personnel that should have been evacuated. They will likely never be heard from again. The Taliban was given literally everything that would prevent any of those people from hiding or escape and evasion, and we know that there are a lot of ‘disappearings’ going on.”

Nor was that the only failure that the RedState report reveals. The commander did not apparently obey US laws governing war trophies. 

He also failed to destroy sensitive equipment left behind, which can be reverse engineered by the Chinese military now operating in Afghanistan.  Learning to defeat this counter-rocket-and-mortar technology endangers every ship in the US navy, should the Chinese go to war with us. 

So far no accountability has occurred for senior leaders, though; only for the one guy brave enough to put his rank on the line and demand it. He's still in jail. Several Congressmen have demanded his release, so far fruitlessly.

The Fall of Númenor

I saw this at Dad29's place, and it's quite an essay. I won't excerpt it, but I will add that the king who captured Sauron and was later ensnared by him was Ar-Pharazôn the Golden. Probably there are few enough of us who would know that off the top of our heads.

Sent by a Friend

I did verify that these articles are real; you can read them (clockwise from top left) here, here, here, and here.

An Impeachable Offense

Dishonorably discharging those who have served honorably is malfeasance as Commander in Chief. This is a disgrace; forcing out servicemembers who won't take the vaccine is one thing, but treating them as felons and denying them the benefits they have earned at war is monstrous. 
Potential consequences for non-compliance with Pentagon vaccine mandate are dire, including loss of eligibility for a range of important benefits, opportunities, honors and rights. A United States Marine corporal who served in Afghanistan during Operation Freedom Sentinel and Operation Southern Vigilance is facing dishonorable discharge for refusing to take the COVID-19 shots as required by the secretary of defense. 

Having been diagnosed with two heart conditions, arrhythmia and right bundle branch blockage, taking an experimental drug with unknown long-term side effects isn't a medical option for him, he says, especially since the shots have already been proven to cause blood clots and heart inflammation. However, he was informed that the only medical waiver he could receive was if he was diagnosed with congenital heart failure. 

In terms of correlation-not-causation, anecdotal evidence, my blood pressure has shot from 120/80 before the vax into ranges that are causing the nurse practitioner I recently sought out for a physical to demand that I start taking medication. There's no obvious other explanation for why my blood pressure would shoot up tens of points on both scales in months; but if clots are thickening my blood, I might have all kinds of medical problems resulting from it. You can't ask a guy with known heart conditions to take the thing if a previously healthy guy like me develops serious conditions at least correlated with it and with no obvious other cause. 

Likewise, in the UK there is a mysterious rise in heart attacks from blocked arteries. Correlation, not proven causation; but that doesn't make people less dead. 

Using the weapon of dishonorable discharges -- a species worse than 'bad conduct' or 'other than honorable' discharges -- is evil and wrong. This guy deserves an honorable discharge, even if you parted ways with him on this contentious issue. Other case may be otherwise, but 'dishonorable' is almost certainly out of order. It denies you civil rights, including the right to own or bear arms. It's another weapon our enemies in our own government are using against all of us, any of us whom they can.

The Reverend on a Saturday Night

You'll doubtless get a different one on Sunday morning.

And because this is Grim's Hall, here's the Rev doing Johnny Cash.

Old Days Gone

Much of this has to do with the fact that the ‘Old’ left was young, and consequently lacked power; whereas the ‘Modern’ left is old, and has become possessed of all the power of the institutions. 

A Plague of Locusts

Unfortunately my brother-in-law, my wife's brother, will be visiting all next week. I may be called upon to play host, or possibly may be in jail, so I might not be around as much this coming week. 

Own goal

 "If I ever run for office, will you guys please make a video like this about me?"

Report: FBI Running Dragnet Against 200,000 Conservatives

The subject of the dragnet is reportedly Protonmail, which many of you may know. It's based in Switzerland, and is an encrypted email system that I've used for more than a decade. Of course it's not really secure; email is forever, and can never be really deleted. The FBI is asking for formal cooperation, but the NSA can definitely read it. So they already know what they're allegedly looking for; they just need a legal construction they can take before the courts. 

There's not really a good way to communicate via encryption if you really want the government not to see the stuff. Here as elsewhere, you'd need to go lo-fi -- written letters, transmitted through trusted couriers. Cash payments instead of credit cards. Movement via vehicles that don't have electronics onboard, like old fashioned muscle cars or motorcycles. 

If they couldn't beat the Taliban, they can't beat you. Not that any of you would consider doing anything they'd need to worry about anyway, not a fine upstanding lot like yourselves. 

UPDATE: More on Protonmail being used by governments to prosecute activists. 

An Actual Conspiracy

So, AVI is hosting a useful set of reposts about the dangers of paranoia and conspiracy theories. He and his commenters all have good points, and these things are worth keeping in mind.

At the same time, consider the Durham investigation (link is to an Andy McCarthy piece, whom I assume we all think of as a non-conspiracy theorist but rather a reasonably fair former prosecutor). This investigation is looking into what looks increasingly like a very successful conspiracy by the Clinton faction to suborn the national security state, paint Donald Trump falsely as a Russian spy, and obtain (a) FBI investigations that destroyed the lives of several citizens associated with him, none of whom proved to be working with Russia; (b) a Special Counsel investigation, accompanied by loud media coverage of how plausible it supposedly was that these were Russian spies; (c) two impeachments; and (d) the deposing and arrest of a National Security Adviser of the United States, who happened to be a retired three-star general who'd held security clearances his whole adult life (and was therefore regularly, rigorously investigated). Flynn was almost sent to prison, requiring a Presidential pardon to keep a Federal judge who'd bought into all of this from finding a way to put him behind bars.

Indeed, the Presidential election of last year -- one faction of which self-described as a 'conspiracy' -- was largely constructed around Biden's rhetorical painting of Trump as somehow a friend of Putin. This was never plausible; in fact, Biden's decisions e.g. on Russian pipelines have benefitted Putin's strategic position far more than anything Trump ever did. Yet people believed it, and still do believe it, because a vast number of respected professionals across government and the media all told them so.

Ask the same questions about that. How many people had to know? How many people participated without having to know, because they were willing to do just do what their faction asked? How many leaks were there over the years? How much did it matter, given that the media was aligned politically with the faction running the operation and therefore willing to play up the false stories and suppress the true ones? Did anyone have to ask, say, Rachael Maddow to take the latest Trump-Russia leak super seriously and trumpet it to her audience? Did she need to be in the know, or was she functionally a part of the conspiracy who didn't have 'need to know'? 

I suppose I've been in a few conspiracies myself, some of them successful. It's not as hard to believe once you've seen it done, and once you've done it. 

That said, paranoia really is dangerous, and many conspiracy theories really are false. I don't mean this as a counterargument so much as a counter-example; something to consider as leavening what are also important lessons.

Angry Parents are Domestic Terrorists

So says an organization representing school boards around the nation, calling for the PATRIOT Act to be used to quell parental uprisings. 

UPDATE: President Biden's Education secretary says, 'Parents should not be "the primary stakeholder" in their children's education.' 

Former* Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says that parents shouldn't be telling schools what to teach.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action. 

* See comments.

Science Deniers

Economics is a science, right? A dismal one, but a science all the same?

Related: An article in the Washington Post today discusses the need for a better sense of mathematics among Americans, to lead to a less stupid politics. Of course they want to stat with vaccines, because they want to get buy-in from their readers who largely agree that only dumb people resist vaccines; but then they move to Federal spending. 
Last year [the Federal Government] spent $6.6 trillion. How much is that? Well, if you spent a dollar a second, you would finally spend $6.6 trillion by about 6 p.m. (as of writing) on April 30. Of the year 112,932. (It will be Wednesday, presuming the heat death of the universe has not yet occurred.)
Somehow this ends up being a justification for spending even more money, because we already spend so much that the 'much more' isn't so much by comparison. 

"Super Speeder"

I was talking with an old Georgia friend, and she was telling me a fun story about a teenager she knew who got arrested last weekend. He'd been pulled over running a red light, and when they ran his license they found he had an unpaid "super speeder" ticket -- so they took him to jail.

"What," I asked, "constitutes a 'super' speeder?" She sent me the description of the new law.

I laughed, and told her "When we were kids, we just called that 'Friday night.'"

Manchin Talking Sense

Nice to see that one of the more sensible Democrats has the whip hand with the party.

The Republicans, as far as I can tell, are non-entities. 

A Definite "No" From Me

Of course they were always going to decide that coronavirus response was the new model for government intervention in other areas our lives where they'd like control.
CDC implements study on "gun violence" after labeling it a "public health threat," aiming to "craft swift interventions, as they have done to contain the coronavirus pandemic and other national health emergencies." (NPR)
"Swift interventions" using "health and safety" to implement unconstitutional, tyrannical measures -- exactly as expected. 

That's the problem with the slippery slope fallacy: people assume that because it's a fallacy, it won't happen. In fact, all that a fallacy means is that logic can't guarantee that it will happen. It very often happens exactly that way, because why shouldn't it? That's the way we did it last time. 

A Visionary

I don’t always get modern art, but I really feel like I understand what this artist is trying to convey. 

US Govt Blocks American Citizens’ Flight Home

This one isn’t my group, but an allied organization flying through Ethiopia. They have US citizens and green card holders, but Homeland Security says they can’t land anywhere in the USA. 

Guess they should fly to Mexico and walk in like everybody else. 

UPDATE: The organizers tell me they’ve actually discussed that option. There’s a logic to it: set one massive breakdown of the US government against another one, and maybe they’d cancel out. 

Hot Rod Race

You've probably heard Hot Rod Lincoln many times over the years, and not just yesterday when we were mourning Commander Cody. But did you know that it was a reply to an earlier song? The older song, here, is figured in the opening lines: "Let me tell you a story about a hot rod race where the Fords and the Lincolns were setting the pace; that story is true, I'm here to say; I was driving that Model A."

You'll hear of that Model A again in this bit. It's not as good as the later song, but it's rock and roll history. 

There's a follow-up piece. 

There's a third one, as well, about the legal consequences.

And a fourth one, from the perspective of the Mercury.

So you can see how it was easy for another party to apply a reply to this tradition.  Nor did it stop there; the Reverend Horton Heat added to the tradition many years later.

The Times of London: Trump Was Right, It Was Rigged

A small but noteworthy moment on our current path, wherever it leads.

And people say he's senile

 I appreciate the mental agility that allows someone to argue that reducing taxes is spending money, but spending money doesn't cost anything.

Faded Gloryville

Some parts of the place do seem to be getting run down, and I think we all know whose fault that is. There nevertheless remain good things, including this cheerful bit from an album that is all about American decline.

Maybe we can fix it; but even if we can't, at least we can defy our enemies by finding ways to still be happy while we try.

And if you liked that one, here's another one by her. It's neither cheerful nor fun, but it's really pretty good.

Hope You Like Eating Bugs

The $3.5 Trillion "infrastructure" bill under consideration will impose costs on beef cattle at $2,600/head, making meat unaffordable for all but the wealthiest. For dairy cows it's $6,500, so I hope you also like almond milk. 

Only Courageous Officer in USMC Now in Brig

The only officer to demand accountability from senior leaders in the Marine Corps for the Afghanistan debacles is also the only officer punished, being first relieved of command and now arrested

RIP Commander Cody

Another one of our favorites has gone to rest.
“In about 1966 I found a Bob Wills album and marijuana," [he] told No Depression in 2018. "I’m pretty sure those guys were stoned most of the time. I started listening to Jerry Lee Lewis’ album that had 'Crazy Arms' and Buck Owens’ greatest hits. We did [Owens'] 'Tiger by the Tail' regularly. What country music afforded for us was there was no rehearsal, we listened to the record, we drank a bunch of whiskey and coke, and played. Country music is easy to do if someone knows the lyrics and the song, you can follow along relatively easily.”
One of their most famous bits was a cover of Hot Rod Lincoln, a favorite of my father's.

Dad loved the song as a young man, when it reminded him of his youth drag racing along the mountain roads of Tennessee. He grew, I am sorry to say, to understand the father's perspective as well as he experienced my own period of drag racing through the mountains of north Georgia. 

Somehow we both survived. 

FBI Busting A Terror Plot


Referenda on Immigration

France's Le Pen is proposing a referendum on immigration if she is elected. She probably won't be elected, but there's a good chance this kind of thing will become more common regardless.

Hers is pretty tame stuff, arguing for limits and regulations about who can come as well as favoritism for actual French citizens when obtaining government benefits. The real deal will be when groups start revoking the immigration status of those who have already been admitted. Germany admitted a million refugees from Syria and the Middle East; France is awash with immigrants from North Africa; the Scandinavian countries are having significant epidemics of bombings and rapes from their own migrant communities. 

At some point people are going to start wanting to rethink the admission of groups that don't fit in and cause significant problems. Democratic means can be used for any popular end, not only for globalistic or left-leaning priorities; and if democracy alone justifies the right, then it's just as right to vote for a government to expel the unwanted as for a democratically-elected government to vote to let people in. 

Now if there are deeper principles of justice at work, that might not be true. It is not clear to me, however, that Europe has many remaining sources of deep philosophical principles; their governments didn't like the ones they inherited, and so they have worked to abandon them. 

Some Concerns About Policing

Over the last year the 'Defund the Police' crowd's significant success in raising concerns about policing resulted in a loss of funding and support for the police in many places. This correlated with a rise in American murder rates of nearly thirty percent, suggesting that at least in urban areas police do in fact perform a service to the ordinary public. 

Likewise, the ongoing fiasco of lies being foisted especially by the White House against the Border Patrol is clearly aimed at furthering two of their agenda items: 1) Paint America, and the police, as secret white supremacists; 2) Flood the country with illegal immigrants. 

So there is reason to believe that the police are being unfairly treated by politicians and activists. That said, there are also reasons to be concerned about policing and its violence. I have tried to present this argument fairly in this space, but these concerns about violent organized criminality among police are significant enough even to name-brand 'conservatives' to now appear in National Review. The follow-up piece is even worse. (h/t Instapundit).

Meanwhile, in Australia, police are responding to protests against COVID measures with severe violence. (Warning: that link is graphic.) They are shooting at unarmed crowds with what must be nonlethal munitions given the apparent absence of many bodies, but even so are significant violations of the right to peacefully protest. 

These findings suggest that police officers cannot be assumed to be reliable, upstanding figures who enforce the moral order. They frequently form internal criminal gangs -- when I was a young man, District Attorneys in Georgia referred to the county sheriff's departments as "the Dixie Mafia" -- and can turn on a disarmed population with tyrannical brutality. 

And that's the relatively-safe uniformed police. The secret police are an obvious problem

There has to be a middle ground here between defunding/eliminating police in urban areas where crime rates will spike without them, or spreading lies about police in order to further a political agenda on the one hand; and, on the other, supporting police in spite of these significant problems. Reforms are and remain necessary, though in some city-based communities those reforms probably cannot go as far as the outright abolition of policing. We need a better approach to this than the one our politicians and activists are pursuing, both parties and all factions. 

"Climate Change Started Those Wildfires"

In a way, that turns out to be true. That madness inspired by being taught to believe in catastrophic climate change was in fact responsible. 
A former forestry student-turned-shaman and yoga teacher has been charged with starting a huge California wildfire that has destroyed 41 homes - and was being investigated in connection with other fires - after claiming the blaze was triggered accidentally while she tried to boil bear urine so she could drink it.  
Now if you think that sounds like a reasonable explanation, hang with us here folks.
During questioning by investigators, Souverneva... claimed that she had been thirsty whilst out hiking and found a puddle in a dry creek bed which contained bear urine. 

She then claims she attempted to filter the water using a tea bag but when that failed tried to start a fire to boil the water. Souverneva said that it was too wet to start a fire so she drank the water and continued walking. 
Boiling urine does not improve it, but she wasn't even actually able to boil it, so she drank it anyway
Souverneva is known to be a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and former Bay Area biotech employee. 

She has also worked as a yoga teacher and describes herself as a shaman - a person who claims to have a direct connection with the world's good and evil spirits. 
Now, just on the off-chance that any of you out there reading this should think that you're a shaman in contact with good and/or evil spirits, let us have a short safety briefing. 

1) Do not drink urine, boiled or otherwise.

2) Do not start forest fires. 

That is all.

Riding with the Peshmerga

An American "embedded" with the Peshmerga encounters a suicide bomber in a car bomb ("SVBIED" in the post). Language warning, but he's having fun.

FBI Investigating Vet-Led Afghan Rescue Efforts

The few State Department officials who'd been willing to work with any of us are starting to peel off, citing pressure from on high. Now the FBI is showing up at people's door.
In one instance, agency officials showed up at the home of Scott Mann, founder of Task Force Pineapple, said Tim Parlatore, the group’s legal counsel. Such a visit is normal for the FBI, and the group cooperated fully, Parlatore said.

Some of the people described the outreach as nothing out of the ordinary and part of the growing public-private partnership on evacuations. “In my mind, the FBI was trying to be helpful, not intimidating,” a person familiar with the outreach said.

Others saw it differently.

Yeah, ask LTG(R) Michael Flynn how that friendly, helpful FBI visit 'just to clear things up' worked out for him. 

Related: FBI Admits its Really Hard to Solve Crimes They Didn't Make Up Themselves

The Mountain Heritage Festival

Mule Train! The Mountain Heritage Festival occurs annually (except in the annus horribilis of 2020) at Western Carolina University. It features mountain crafts, singing, dancing, and general good fun.

A team of Cherokee from the nearby reservation play a spirited game of stickball, "the little brother of war." It involves wrestling as well as running, tossing the ball with the stick, and so forth. 

If you enlarge the signs in this photo, you'll find that it is a blacksmith next to and working with a Cherokee coppersmith. The blacksmith produced traditional Scottish arts, including knives, swords, hammers, and chain mail armor. The collaboration between them mirrors that of the Scots immigrants and the Cherokee on the frontier, where the two communities were very close. 

Naturally there was bluegrass, gospel, and other mountain music.

Finishing the day with chicken grilled over the coals.

Redrum MC

There were a lot of these guys at the recent bike rally I went to, I think because they're a "First Nations" motorcycle club and it was held on the Cherokee Reservation. They're the only MC to ever address the United Nations; and apparently actor (and one time Conan the Cimmerian actor) Jason Momoa is a patched member. 

Momoa, if we take the whole 'nobody from the wrong ethnic group should ever play a character from another,' is definitely not a Cimmerian -- they're, according to Robert E. Howard who created Conan, the ancestors of the Celts and the Gaels and Highlanders. That said, Momoa is apparently a pretty cool guy and I am not in any way bothered that he played the character. It wasn't a great rendition, but that is more the director's and writer's fault. I thought he was great in Road to Paloma, and I'm looking forward to seeing him and others in the new Dune.

All the members I met or interacted with were honorable and upstanding. They say they're about positive images and respect for their traditions, and I notice that they aren't unwilling to take on non-Natives who happen to share their views. In that way they're inclusive beyond the ethnic lines they represent, which is nice to see going the other way as it often does not.