Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Beware Old Glory

People might think you're a Republican or something. 

Only fools yield symbols as powerful as that to their enemies. That point is obvious enough that even the NYT is getting it. 
At its 1777 inception, the flag’s very design signified unity, the joining of the 13 colonies, said John R. Vile, a professor of political science and a dean at Middle Tennessee State University.

Politicizing the American flag is thus a perversion of its original intent, according to Professor Vile, who is also the author of “The American Flag: An Encyclopedia of the Stars and Stripes In U.S. History, Culture and Law.” He added, “We can’t allow that to happen.”

So don't. 

Standard American

The band is new to me, but they've got a respectable name: "Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys." 

What interests me about this song is not that it valorizes the usual kinds of Americans -- truck drivers, firefighters, blue collar mechanics, veterans, etc. -- but that it valorizes older men. The band is young, but everyone they portray as their models are at least middle aged. Vietnam Veterans are in their 70s now. 

That is very sensible and healthy, but it's out of order with our society as it has been really since the Vietnam Veterans were young. How does a young man learn how to be a good man? Naturally, they should look to the old men who were

Boys Having Fun

You've all heard this song a million times, as have I. That said, the video they apparently filmed back when they were first performing it is new to me. The first nearly two minutes isn't that interesting -- just performance of the piece -- but after that you get some great footage. 

Riding motorcycles! Jumping motorcycles! Wheelies! Riding horses! Fast cars! Blowguns! The American flag!

Pretty good entry to the Fourth of July weekend. 

A Mousetrap in the Twenty-First Century

The invention of the mousetrap does not date from our days; as soon as societies, in forming, had invented any kind of police, that police invented mousetraps.

As perhaps our readers are not familiar with the slang of the Rue de Jerusalem, and as it is fifteen years since we applied this word for the first time to this thing, allow us to explain to them what is a mousetrap.

When in a house, of whatever kind it may be, an individual suspected of any crime is arrested, the arrest is held secret. Four or five men are placed in ambuscade in the first room. The door is opened to all who knock. It is closed after them, and they are arrested; so that at the end of two or three days they have in their power almost all the HABITUES of the establishment. And that is a mousetrap.

The apartment of M. Bonacieux, then, became a mousetrap; and whoever appeared there was taken and interrogated by the cardinal’s people. It must be observed that as a separate passage led to the first floor, in which d’Artagnan lodged, those who called on him were exempted from this detention.

-Alexander Dumas, Père, The Three Musketeers

To whit.

Catholic Churches Burning in Canada

A rash of church burnings in Canada continues with the destruction of another church in Edmonton. 
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, previously told CBC News there are "mixed emotions" about the Catholic Church among Penticton Indian Band members.

Phillip said some members of the community have "an intense hatred for the Catholic Church in regard to the residential school experience."
What they're talking about is the recent discovery of 751 graves of children located at government-funded boarding schools, which were largely staffed by nuns and priests. The story is being told in Canada (and in the United States in certain circles) that this was a kind of Catholic colonialism and genocide against Native Americans. 
“This was a crime against humanity, an assault on a First Nation people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron, of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the provincial federation of Indigenous groups. “The only crime we ever committed as children was being born Indigenous,” he said.... A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 2008 to investigate the residential schools, called the practice “cultural genocide.” 
However, undermining that narrative is the fact that there is an exactly parallel story in Ireland. There, the issue is just said to be that there were high levels of child mortality in the early 20th century. 
The discovery confirms decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home were interred on the site in unmarked graves, a common practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th-century Ireland.
Naturally, the Biden administration is rushing to investigate American-based schools from the same period to see if any more bodies can be found. Expect this to be a productive field of inquiry since it hits all the right notes: anti-American, anti-Catholic/Christian, with just the right tone of oppression, allegations of racism, and colonialism.

UPDATE: Another reason this narrative has legs: the Chinese government is pushing it as a hedge against its own current practice of actual genocide against the Uighur and cultural genocide against the Tibetans. 

Excess Deaths Among the Young

A subject we've discussed occasionally is the topic of a Bloomberg article. 

Musical Sophistication

Recently under discussion, here are some examples from the 1930s and 1940s of music that is more complex than what you are likely to hear today. 

It might be difficult to say if these are more or less sophisticated than the medieval styles; that probably requires a lot of theoretical framework that I do not have in place. If long-time commenter Piercello happens to be around, he can perhaps provide some of that: it is in his area of expertise. 

FBI Violating Constitutional Rights of "Domestic Extremists" Since Election

Trump was still president when they started routinely violating the Constitution in pursuit of his supporters. 
[T]he FBI has continued to perform warrantless searches through the NSA's most sensitive databases for routine criminal investigations, despite being told by a federal judge in 2018 and 2019 that such a use was an unconstitutional breach of privacy.  

The FBI focused many of its warrantless searches - commonly referred to as backdoor queries - on suspected 'far-right' domestic terrorists, The Daily Beast reported.  

It's unclear from the heavily-redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court report whether the FBI uncovered any criminal extremist behavior or made any arrests resulting from the searches.  

UPDATE: Microsoft executive testifies that they provide clandestine surveillance of Americans to the FBI without a warrant thousands of times a year.  

The Ride

Asheville was perfectly pleasant today. I saw three cops, or one and a half percent of the remaining force, all hanging out together near downtown. 

But man, what a ride today. 

That was from the way home. I’d have taken a photo on the way in, but it would have just looked like the inside of a cloud. 

Crime and its Accidents

Apparently the huge spikes in crime are starting to worry some folks. Not because of the suffering associated with the crime; because of the politics

I'm going to Asheville tomorrow, where fully a third of the police department has resigned. Asheville is currently twice as dangerous as the national rate, making it now one of the more dangerous cities nationwide. There is beginning to be some comment among the politicians there too.
Council members also heard a presentation from APD Chief David Zack regarding various categories of crime in the city. He noted that Asheville’s number of violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, was about 45% higher in 2020 than in 2011.
Am I worried about riding into Asheville? Of course I am not. These will step widely around me. It is not the strong who suffer from increases in aggravated assault, robbery, or rape. The traffic is more dangerous to me than the criminals. 

But I also have only one vote, and thus my opinion can be disregarded by the powerful. Those who live in fear have many votes, provided that elections can be returned to a ground where the votes of the people really matter. 


A style of remixed music of which I've just become aware is "Bardcore," a playful attempt to re-imagine contemporary songs in a medieval style. All are limited by the fact that contemporary music is not as sophisticated as medieval music actually was; but they do have the advantage of being played on beautiful acoustic instruments and, if sung, sung by people who actually know how to sing.

You'll find a lot more if you follow this first link to YouTube. Many of them are of truly contemporary pop music, which is too terrible to sample. I'm going to pick one where the original is actually at least a little interesting. Here's a Bardcore version of an Iron Maiden tune.

Here is Iron Maiden's original.

And here, just to compare, is a random selection of medieval music. This isn't even a fair introduction; there are whole genres of this stuff, from polyphony and chant to chansons and ballads. This is a fun selection of instrumentals similar to what the Bardcore kids are trying to imitate. 

UPDATE: This one's not bad.

UPDATE: A piece from 2020.

Honesty from the Washington Post

Amid the constant gaslighting, how refreshing to see a fully honest fact check
In fact, you do not have to look far in the Constitution to see that private individuals could own cannons. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 gives Congress the power to declare war. But there is another element of that clause that might seem strange to modern ears — Congress also had the power to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.” What’s that? These were special waivers that allowed private individuals to act as pirates on behalf of the United States against countries engaged in war with it. The “letter of marque” allowed a warship to cross into another country’s territory to take a ship, while a “letter of reprisal” gave authorization to bring the ship back to the home port of the capturer. 
Individuals who were given these waivers and owned warships obviously also obtained cannons for use in battle.



A Generation Lost in Latin America

Deep into the second year of the pandemic, Latin America is facing an education crisis. It has suffered the longest school shutdowns of any region in the world.... Millions of children in Latin America may have already left the school system, the World Bank estimates. In Mexico, 1.8 million children and young people abandoned their educations this school year because of the pandemic or economic hardship, according to the national statistics agency.

Ecuador lost an estimated 90,000 primary and secondary school students. Peru says it lost 170,000. And officials worry that the real losses are far higher because countless children, like Maicol, are technically still enrolled but struggling to hang on. More than five million children in Brazil have had no access to education during the pandemic, a level not seen in more than 20 years, Unicef says.

As the article points out, Latin America has for some reason been hit especially hard by the pandemic; with less than 10% of the world's population, it has 30+% of the deaths. Some of that is doubtless a record-keeping issue; statistics from China are assuredly unreliable, as all official information from China. Still, it must be informing the discussion about the wisdom of lockdowns. 

Nevertheless the cost is exceedingly high. In addition to the increases of poverty and even starvation at the margins, millions of children are losing their chance to receive the kind of basic education that would give them a chance. Their children and grandchildren will suffer for decades from what has been done in the last year or so. 

Train as You Fight

The old ways are not forgotten:

 "A Co 2/121 48th IBCT and the Canadian 48th Highlanders initiate an ambush with bagpipe"