Get 'em while you can

It probably will put you on a terrorist watch list, but if you still want to own a Lego U.S. Capitol set, better hurry. Amazon claims the manufacturer has discontinued the item, and the price just hit the roof like it was a Dr. Seuss book.

The on/off switch

After the 2020 election, a tweet that caught my eye said something like, "I don't know for sure that the election was stolen, but I know they couldn't have made it look any dirtier if they'd tried."  This thread makes the same point at greater length, and closely approximates my own views.  We're in a new place.

This is profoundly disorienting. Many [election skeptics] don't know for certain whether ballots were faked in November 2020, but they know for absolute certain that the press, the FBI, etc would lie to them if there was. They have every reason to believe that, and it's probably true.
... They always claimed the media had liberal bias, fine, whatever. They still thought the press would admit truth if they were cornered. Now they don't. It's a different thing to watch them invent stories whole cloth in order to destroy regular lives and spark mass violence.
... The reaction of Trump ppl to all this was not, "no fair!" That's how they felt about Romney's "binders of women" in 2012. This is different. Now they see, correctly, that every institution is captured by ppl who will use any means to exclude them from the political process.

Open Range

I did eventually find the pieces I was looking for, which were from 2005 (in a general discussion of the Western movie tradition) and then 2008 (in a discussion of heroism in Hollywood movies).

More on the Imagination and Sexuality

AVI posted a piece yesterday that references a discussion we had here a couple of weeks ago. The issue, which we are discussing in terms of the new digital 'reality' that the young occupy, is that sex that is disembodied becomes alienating. 

Today, while trying to find an old discussion of Open Range that I wrote years ago, I came across a very similar problem in Hegel's work from the 19th century.
The claim begins in paragraph 448, on the mental faculty of attention. The issue of attention is that you are free to give it, or not; and therefore, if you are to have a passion, it is because you have chosen to give it your attention.

But what is the thing to which you are giving your attention? It is an idea: and, therefore, it is your idea. After all, it exists in your mind, and the thoughts you have are your own. He offers an example:
Thus we know, for example, that if anyone is able to form a clear picture to himself, say in a poem, of the feelings of joy or sorrow that are overwhelming him he rids himself of the thing that was oppressing his mind and thereby procures for himself relief or complete freedom. For although by contemplating the many aspects of his feelings he seems to increase their power over him, yet he does in fact dimnish this power by making his feelings into something confronting him, something that becomes external to him. Goethe, for instance, particularly in his Werther, brougth himself relief while subjecting the readers of this this romance to the power of feeling.
The book he mentions, The Sorrows of Young Werther, sparked a wave of suicides across Europe. The title character is a suicide, killing himself over losing his love.

Why was his love worth dying over, though? She was an idea -- that is to say, she was not just a girl, with all the problems any individual girl might have. She was an ideal girl: it was his mind which had made her an ideal that was worth dying over.

We remember here our discussion around Chaucer's A Knight's Tale, and the objection raised by female readers that the young knights didn't know -- and therefore could not love -- the lady at all. Hegel seems entirely subject to that line of attack.

Here we have exactly the problem that the digital youth are running into, yet in an embodied reality that ought to prevent it. The problem is that they leave the realm of the physical -- where sex is straightforward -- for the imaginary. Being free of the digital world, their imagination is at least tied to their idea of a being they first encountered as a physical being. In chasing after their own idea rather than the actual girl, though, they lose both the girl and their will to live. Apparently this was common enough to have sparked 'a wave of suicides across Europe' when the works of imagination were novels rather than digital pornography. 

At the time I wrote the discussion of Hegel I was still trying to decide if he was on to something, as the ideal gives us aspiration. I am now ready to pronounce upon that. The ideal can point the way to perfection only in the way that art can perfect nature (as Aristotle says). It must begin with what is given by nature, and only seek to perfect what nature has not made perfect. 

Hegel's concept is that the physical and the ideal only appear to be different, and in fact all physical things will turn out to be ideas in a higher mind to which we are striving to return -- God, in a word. Even if you are inclined to that model, the nature of the physical things should still be prioritized as already extant in the higher mind, whereas your own imaginations are still the work of your still-lower mind.

Yet even that kind of perfecting is highly problematic when the object of the imagination is someone else and not yourself. You might look at yourself and draft ideas for more perfectly achieving the highest expression of your nature; that is virtue. You might have similar ideas about how someone else could more perfectly achieve their nature: that may not be virtuous, but domineering. A parent might rightly try to help their child in places, but even there a child who does better by being pushed is not necessarily developing the internal drive to perfect themselves. A girl who does not quite live up to your ideal of love and beauty may not really be any of your business at all, and is certainly not obligated to try to attain your ideal for her (which she cannot even access, since it is only in your imagination and she has no access to that). 

It seems like this philosophical error has led to a lot of human misery over the centuries. The digital has made it worse by making the idealized/imaginary seem more real and more immediate, and by removing the helpful influence of natural things like pheromones and embodied reality. For Hegel, this should have been an improvement, another step towards the realization that the ideal is actually real. Waves of suicides -- then and now -- strongly suggest that it is not. You cannot think your way to God. You cannot even think your way to love

Dominique, notre père, combattit les albigeois

Were any of you Singing Nun fans?  That line in an otherwise cheerful ditty always made me think of Albigensians locked up in a church and burned.

À l'époque où Jean Sans Terre
D'angleterre était le roi
Dominique, notre père, combattit les albigeois

Trying again: Fuller Brush Man

Babylon Bee has good suggestions for how to get rid of the Vaccine Evangelist who comes to your door.

I found decades ago that a polite and painless way of getting rid of anyone at my front door was to smile pleasantly and explain that I don't discuss [whatever] with people I don't know well.  It goes along with Miss Manners's advice to answer impertinent questions with "How soon do you need to know?"

* I have no idea how Blogger could have let me sign in as Grim . . . ?

In Praise of James Jackson

Well known to long-time readers of the Hall is James Jackson, hero of the Revolution and even more heroic in the early American era. Sadly he is not well known outside of students of Georgia's history, but his example is one that we could very much use today as we try to contest corporate domination of what was meant to be a government of, by, and for the people

Human Events has just kindly published a few thousand words on the subject. Hopefully James Jackson's name and example may become better known to the people of our United States. 

"What Happened to You?"

Andrew Sullivan is often asked this question, he says, but would like to reverse the polarity.

The CRT debate is just the latest squall in a tempest brewing and building for five years or so. And, yes, some of the liberal critiques of a Fox News hyped campaign are well taken. Is this a wedge issue for the GOP? Of course it is. Are they using the term “critical race theory” as a cynical, marketing boogeyman? Of course they are. Are some dog whistles involved? A few. Are crude bans on public servants’ speech dangerous? Absolutely. Do many of the alarmists know who Derrick Bell was? Of course not. 

But does that mean there isn’t a real issue here? Of course it doesn’t.

Take a big step back. Observe what has happened in our discourse since around 2015. Forget CRT for a moment and ask yourself: is nothing going on here but Republican propaganda and guile? Can you not see that the Republicans may be acting, but they are also reacting — reacting against something that is right in front of our noses?

What is it? It is, I’d argue, the sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites. It has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation. It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of “white supremacy,” which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.

[Aside: Derrick Bell was the guy who founded what is most properly called CRT (although the demands to know what 'is really CRT' are a motte-and-bailey tactic). His most famous work isn't merely theoretical, it's actually fantastic -- not in the sense of being excellent, but in the sense of being a made-up fantasy story.]

Sullivan goes on to diagnose the issue as the transformation of the elite ideas of 'social justice' into a rejection of liberalism -- not just 'whiteness' or America or the Founding, but a rejection of the whole 300-year liberal project as itself a form of racism and oppression. That, he says, has big consequences in a nation that was founded precisely to pursue those classical liberal principles.

He doesn't want to go so far as supporting Republicans, of course, who are obviously "a nihilist cult" (and who are ironically, for nihilists, devout believers in God and country). He'd like some fellow Democrats to maybe step back from the pit, is all. But at least he's seeing the pit, recognizing a descent into the abyss. 

Fake News Today

BB: "To Combat Transwoman Dominance Of Women's Sports, Olympics Adds Competitive Child Birthing."

That's a great idea, really.

Pattern Recognition

 The question doesn’t mince words. Straight out, people were asked: “Do you agree or disagree with this statement: The media ‘are truly the enemy of the people?'

Thirty-four percent strongly agreed, 24 percent somewhat agreed, 13 percent somewhat disagreed, and 23 percent strongly disagreed.

Allow me to reframe this for emphasis…

When voters were asked if the media are “truly the enemy of the people,” only 23 percent strongly disagreed.

The plurality strongly agrees; the majority of 58% agrees at least somewhat. 

I think of the way in which journalists were hotly opposed to Ronald Reagan, and compare and contrast that to how things have become since Obama's term. 

Obama's people didn't respect journalists at all -- recall his speech dude Ben Rhodes describing journalists as children who "literally know nothing" --  but they did enjoy almost complete submission from the press. In hindsight this was surely because of the proto-woke clarity that Barack Obama could not be criticized without one becoming subject to claims of racism that would be enforced by the whole social class of which journalists were a part.

It got much worse under Trump. As Angelo Codevilla points out -- in an excellent piece that questions Trump's worth as a future leader, and identifies his core failures -- Trump provoked a 'ruling class' consciousness to emerge. Journalists consider themselves to be a part of that class, though they are now even more obviously its abject servants than they were during the Obama administration. I note that the Codevilla essay is carried at no less than American Greatness, a journal whose very name was inspired by Trump's chief slogan. It is healthy to see criticism of the man there; indeed, it is exactly the kind of thing that a healthy journalism does (and ought to refute the pretense that Trump's popularity is the kind of cult of personality sometimes associated with fascism).

It is exactly that kind of criticism that is gone in the current period. The Biden administration finds that journalists are its allies, propping up his regime as hard as they can. They are doing so clearly out of service to this new class consciousness; they are of and for that class. 

What is that class of and for? To say whether they are truly the enemies of the people, you'd need to answer that question. The top of the class is composed of alumni of a particular consulting firm, The Intercept reports: WestExec Advisors, founded in 2017 by Obama alumni, has provided 15 top officials including the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence. A look at the Secretary of State's work between the Obama and Trump administrations is even more telling about what they are of and for: he was paid as a consultant by "AT&T, defense contractor Boeing, shipping magnate FedEx, and the media company Discovery as a WestExec founding partner. He worked for Big Tech pillars Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Uber. He helped niche companies like speakers bureau GLG, art seller Sotheby’s, and biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. Blinken also lists clients that are global investment firms and asset managers, like Blackstone, Lazard, Royal Bank of Canada, and the multinational conglomerate SoftBank[,]" The new DNI had "clients like Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Open Philanthropy," the latter being an NGO with ties to Facebook, whose NGOs also paid for all that 'election fortification' in swing states and counties. The journalists come from a lower tier of the same institutions -- elite colleges, international corporations, and NGOs aimed at transforming America. 

The ideology they espouse is the now-fully-formed wokeness, which is deeply hostile to America and to all of its traditions. This is true not only of the journalist servant class, but of the class of public sector unions -- especially teachers, for whom wokeness in the form of CRT is the lens through which all subjects must be taught. The military leadership is committed to it; the intelligence agencies are also (as you should expect, say our Marxists, because the CIA has been dividing other nations along race and ethnic lines for decades). 

One might well say that they are, then, for something that is against America -- at least as America was understood even in Reagan's time, even in Clinton's. They are of a class rather than the people writ large. It is a class that intends to rule and dominate the rest of the people, and thinks of itself as separate from and better than the ordinary people of the country. 

So it appears the majority is right, more or less. One can quibble about tone, but not substance. 

The Fuller Brush Man

Babylon Bee has good suggestions for how to get rid of the Vaccine Evangelist who comes to your door.

I found decades ago that a polite and painless way of getting rid of anyone at my front door was to smile pleasantly and explain that I don't discuss [whatever] with people I don't know well.  It goes along with Miss Manners's advice to answer impertinent questions with "How soon do you need to know?"

More tales from the floodplain


A sliver of the Texan99 intermittent pond at flood stage.  In a very dry year that's prairie all the way across.  The surface area right now is probably 3 acres, but it's shallow at this end.  That's good, because the gators like to stay in the deeper part off the left, near the road.

The sidewalk in the lower right corner adjoins our downstairs porch at ground level; this picture was taken from the upstairs porch on the living-floor level.  Because the perspective is flattened, you can't see that the water would have to rise another foot or two to hit the sidewalk.  Even with another 3+ inches last night, the pond level seems stable.  Rain is in the forecast for another couple of days, but maybe not as extreme as it has been all this week.

Although my laptop arrived apparently unscathed on Tuesday, it did develop an alarming internal clicking noise after some lightning yesterday.  It's old enough to be out of warranty and beyond the maximum coverage of Apple's tech support contract, so I decided to take the plunge and order a new one.  Apple amused me by promising delivery today, a prospect I declined to take seriously, but we'll see!  Roads are closed all over the coastal region today.  Nevertheless, the trucks can drive through some pretty high water, so as long as the sorting facilities are operating, they may work miracles, depending on where the laptop is coming from.  I was actually surprised not to be told there would be a long wait on delivery, as I'd been hearing that anything with a chip in it was a problem.  Must have been in stock somewhere.

Our septic field is underwater, never an ideal condition, but it's so situated that it doesn't drain either to the house or to the pond, and it probably will be fine in a few days once the rain stops.  Nothing really fazes a septic system as long as solids don't get into the tiny perforations in the leachfield pipes; I understand that if those get plugged up, you just abandon those pipes and lay in a new drainfield.  This experience highlights the wisdom of the rules requiring so many feet of distance between the field and either the house or the pond.  Septic tanks are more environmentally defensible than almost any municipal system, as long as you can ensure that, when flooded, they don't start draining into a public waterway.


I missed this when it was new in December, but it remains relevant. That fatherlessness is a root cause of all sorts of harm is well known; but this author, Mary Eberstadt, expands in a powerful way.
The explosive events of 2020 are but the latest eruption along a fault line running through our already unstable lives. That eruption exposes the threefold crisis of filial attachment that has beset the Western world for more than half a century. Deprived of father, Father, and patria, a critical mass of humanity has become socially dysfunctional on a scale not seen before.

This unified theory of Fatherlessness is more useful than the one that focused on the individual human father alone.  

From First Things, which in its current print edition has an interesting piece on demons. The Grey Mouser would approve of such attention to demonology. 

High water

We've had almost 17 inches of rain in the last 2-3 days.  We're very flat and coastal, so the good news is that the water rises slowly and can't carry anyone away, but the bad news is that it simply rises and stays there a long time, because there's not much of a gradient for it to drain off onto.  Luckily we're not dealing with a storm surge. 

There are a couple of acres of pond next to our house.  The pond level seems to be just about topped off, as there's reasonable drainage across our road through a ditch that eventually empties into the nearest bay.  The culvert at the road gets maxxed out if the rain comes down too intensely, as it has been doing--that incredible tropical downpour that seems like buckets emptying over your head--but the worst we've had to deal with is water deep enough to accommodate fish over our driveway.  Our house is up on stilts; even the ground floor, which is a garage,  appears to be in no danger of taking on water.  I wish I could say the same for all of the homes in the county.  We have homes set at elevations not more than a few feet above sea level.  My foundation is at 17 feet, which is like a mountain around here, and then our living areas are on stilts a full floor above that.

There are fish and turtle and alligators and water birds all over the streets and ditches.

Midnight Basketball for the Sedentary Generation

The NYPD has a hot new idea to lower spiking crime rates: traveling video game trailers

Transportation Difficulties

So the other day the Ford's engine suddenly lost power, and the speedometer stopped working. I nursed it back home and researched the problem. It could be several things. but is probably that the onboard computer went out. I can put in a new one (or maybe even one out of a junkyard) and reprogram it, I learned, with a laptop-linked FORScan system. So I went to town in my Jeep to get one.

On the way to town, the Jeep's clutch suddenly blew out. Probably just a hydraulic line, but it couldn't shift gears and was quickly unable to continue. So I had it towed to a shop for repairs, arranged a ride home, and now have two vehicles down.

Of course I have motorcycles, so I'm not stranded. Still, after the holiday's quiet I suddenly find myself thrust back into the world of difficulties. It is what it is. 

No service

I'm slowly learning to use an iPad instead of a laptop, but it ain't easy. I foolishly left my laptop behind in my hotel last Thursday at the end of a trip to South Padre for required annual Commissioner training hours. I spent the first day and a half trying to get movement out of somnolent hotel employees who don't seem quite to grasp the potential for tips--it's safer to live on salary and go by the book. When I finally got my laptop into the hands of FedEx Friday afternoon, the fun really started. It was supposed to go by overnight, guaranteed delivery by 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, but for some reason they put it on a plane to Memphis, where it sat for many hours. Then it went to Ft. Worth, then to San Antonio early Sunday morning. The holiday weekend shut it all down, so there it remains. In theory it will go to Corpus Christi tomorrow morning (Tuesday) and be trucked out to my house sometime later. All this for a four-hour drive from South Texas to Rockport.

I'm old enough to remember when FedEx gave pretty good service. I think I might actually have done better with the U.S. mail on this one.

You’re a Chancellor, not a GIF!

We have to train ourselves not to roll our eyes.

Chilling Out After the Fireworks

Independence Day Images

The Veterans' Exempt flag is hard to hang because the canton needs to go the same way as it would on an American flag, but that puts it out of order with all the other flags. The American flag is hung at its own right, with its canton on its own right. 

David Mann, 1990 Centerfold 

Reprise in Full

Originally from 2015, but worth reposting this year.


Happy Independence Day.  Today we celebrate treason, treason that prospered, treason that flourished, treason that created what was for a while -- what might someday be again -- the living symbol of virtuous human liberty.

This nation came out of a long tradition of beneficial treason, good treason, treason in the name of the best of the human condition.  It was born of the tradition that fought King John at Runnymede and compelled from him the Great Charter of Liberties, Magna Carta Libertatum.  It is out of the tradition that produced the Declaration of Arbroath in Scotland, in defiance of yet another tyrannical English king, which stated that "It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."  The Scottish national motto was Nemo Me Impune Lacessit, which means, "No One Touches Me With Impunity," or if you like, "No One Messes With Me Without Getting Hurt."  That sentiment was also given in Scotland, as later in Alabama, in the words of John 20:17:  Noli Me Tangere, usually translated "Touch Me Not," but also:

The values of this new nation are rooted in the principle of rebellion against authority.  They are the values of a people who do what they think is right, and will hand you your heads if you try to force them to kneel to your judgment instead of their own.  The Founders considered the philosophy of the Greeks.  They considered the history of the Romans.  They took stock of their reflections on the righteous judgment of God.  Then they pledged their fortunes and their lives, and their sacred honor, and did what they had decided was right without fear.

Today we celebrate men who fought underneath the American flag, but we celebrate them with the certain knowledge that the defiance -- the spirit of rebellion against any authority that transgresses its due  and proper limits -- that the defiance of tyranny is the real thing to be celebrated.  It is not the accidents but the essence of the American revolution that deserves our devotion.  

That goes for this and for all administrations, all branches of government, all foreign tyrants and all wicked powers.  

It may seem as if Americans are not still made of that stuff.  The flag I started with is the flag of the old Veterans Exempt, a militia that fought in the War of 1812 even though it was made up of veterans of the American Revolution who were too old to be drafted.  The last two images are from contemporary veterans' groups.  I've seen each of them posted online in the last few days.  

The right people should rejoice.  The wrong should beware.  You know who you are.  You know where you stand. 

Happy Independence Day.