News from 1814

The British Royal Navy deployed gunboats against a French blockade, which caused the French navy to respond in kind. 

The heraldry on the fishing boats could be a little confusing. It's actually the heraldry of Normandy, but it would be easy to mistake it for British because the Norman coat of arms is retained in the Queen's coat of arms, which she often deploys as a standard. However, that usage is strictly personal; it would be incorrect to fly her flag from even a British navy ship unless she were on it. 

Checking Up on Common Ground

I have had the strong sense that 'conservatism' has largely failed as an intellectual and political movement; it has not in fact conserved anything successfully, leading us to a moment in which something more counterrevolutionary may be needed. However, I came across a 2016 post by Tom which cited a few core tenets:
1. An objective moral order

2. The human person as the center of political and social thought

3. A distaste for the use of state power to enforce ideological patterns upon human beings

4. A rejection of social engineering, or the "planned" society

5. The spirit of the Constitution of the United States as originally conceived, especially the division of powers between state and federal governments and between the three branches of the federal government

6. A devotion to Western civilization and an awareness of the need to defend it
I definitely believe that there is an objective moral order, one that is discoverable in nature -- for example, one discovers that the virtues Aristotle praised are in fact the things that make your life better if practiced. That is simply true; and yet the idea that one should draw ethical lessons from nature, even or especially human nature, is very much under attack. 

I'm not quite sure what the alternative to proposition 2 was intended be; perhaps the preservation of an institution, such as the Church or a city-state? I would say that this proposition is shared by right and left, though; feminism, for example, is all about the lives of human women (and not, say, lionesses); our cultural disputes are more about whether this or that person's interests should be upheld where they conflict. The dispute about trans-* athletes is really just a dispute about whether their individual interests should trump those of the individual women athletes they might be displacing; it's not a dispute over whether the interests of a person should or shouldn't be the root of the decision. 

Proposition three is framed in terms of tastes, which might be right; although it might not be. I suspect many conservatives, if asked, would be happy to resume criminalizing certain sexual practices and/or lifestyles; and some remaining laws banning sexual practices, such as pedophilia, are hotly supported by conservatives. Meanwhile the state sometimes does provide a useful corrective to non-state attempts to impose ideological agendas; people have successfully sued in court to restore rights that were being suppressed by employers or corporations. 

The fourth proposition is where the failure is most obvious; the proposition is the right principle, but so far the planners are stealing one Long March after another. 

I would submit that the fifth proposition is misguided, although I once held to it. I have decided, however, that it is not the Constitution but the Declaration of Independence whose spirit must be the eternal and unyielding guide. The Articles of Confederation came and went, and the Constitution may do likewise. As long as we hold that 'all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights,' and that 'governments are instituted among men (solely) to secure those rights,' and may be replaced whenever they become destructive to that end -- as long, too, as we do not yield our original understanding of what rights these were, to include freedom of speech and thought, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to be secure from official oppression -- well, that is the thing to be preserved. 

The sixth one is true, and never more true than now. A defense is needed. 

Grave Concerns

The audit in Arizona continues, although Democrats' legal efforts have forced them to stop checking signatures, and some of the external hard drives with data from the audit have disappeared. The "Justice" Department is threatening the audit, too. 

They've probably done enough damage that the audit could not now restore confidence among voters who believe that fraud was rampant; if the audit 'finds no fraud' after they were forced to stop checking ballot signatures and whole hard drives of data were stolen, the conclusion will justly be that the fraud was simply concealed. That's what you would ordinarily assume about similar facts, that the party interested in derailing the audit by any means necessary had something to hide.

Keep your eyes on it anyway. If they manage to find something interesting in spire of these efforts to derail them, we will want similar audits in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere. 

UPDATE: The county is withholding some subpoenaed servers from the election, claiming that turning them over to be audited would somehow 'put law enforcement lives at risk.'  It is hard for me to see how that claim could possibly be plausible. 

Home Anew

It is a strange fact that leaving home for a while makes you see it anew when you return. Of course, in my case I went at the change of seasons, so the trees that were barely beginning to green when I left are suddenly nearly leafed out the next time I saw them. Still, what a pretty part of the world Western North Carolina is.

I should do more traveling, I suppose. Just at the moment, though, I don't really wish to be anywhere else.

What I do need to do is to pick the next work to read through. 

Is it still legal to call it Wuhan virus?

It's a pleasure to read a technical article trying to sort through the origin of the SARS virus that causes COVID without running into constant special pleading or politically driven "just so" stories. Nicholas Wade used to write for the New York Times, but evidently in an era when that was compatible with retaining rigor and honesty of thought and expression. He won't definitively conclude that the COVID virus emerged from a Wuhan lab, but he believes that conclusion is so far the best bet by a considerable margin. He also points out the trashiness of much of the public discourse on this controversy starting over a year ago. Mr. Wade's Wiki writeup sniffs that he believes genes have important effects on human characteristics. No wonder he quit writing for the NYT in 2012.


The point is so elementary that it should not be necessary to state: a model is not evidence. It is a theory expressed in arithmetic terms. A theory is either validated or disproved by observation. A model that is contradicted by experience is simply wrong, and is useless. History is littered with theories that sounded plausible at the time, but were invalidated by experience.
He's right, it shouldn't be necessary to state, but evidently it's necessary to go outside and shout it every day.

Non-Euclidean Dwarves

Thanks to a feud with a necromancer, a city of dwarves has a mapping challenge: a math exercise in prose. 

Music and Universal Beauty

An essay, with video of quite a performance, from Arts & Letters Daily.
DakhaBrakha is the perfect band to make the view ring true that people around the world speak the same musical language. It steeps its songs in traditional Ukrainian folk music but spices them with ingredients from around the world, such as raga drones from India, metrical drumming from Japan, and languid blues from America. DakhaBrakha call its music “ethno-chaos” but what makes it captivating is not the chaos but the way the global sounds amplify the Ukrainian ones. The quartet has released six albums and played concerts across the globe since 2007. Everywhere DakhaBrakha has played, fans have rhapsodized about the joy and pathos in their music. 
You may like the essay; you will probably like the music. The latter says something about the quality of the former. 

It reminds me of this, which is Mongolian but also heavily influenced by American biker culture.