Reading Those With Whom You Disagree

In the comments to a post below AVI suggests "...the intellectual task of reading for six months people who disagree with you.... Grim, who is younger, probably has at least two [such exercises to perform], the poor bastard."

As I suggested in the comments, it might be more difficult for me to find people to read with whom I don't broadly disagree. My 'tribe' is attenuated and small, at this point, and though it exists it isn't much published. Even in the local papers you'll read few examples of the traditional Southern Democrat worldview of a Zell Miller or a Jim Webb. The local papers, like papers everywhere, trend left. 

Even outlets where I've personally published -- to include National Review, Human Events, The Federalist and American Greatness -- are very much not bubbles of like-minded sentiment. We have points of agreement, and broad disagreements. Still, it's better than the New York Times, where even points of agreement are hard to find; but I read their daily newsletter every morning.

I've also had two turns in grad school, which means 9 full years of reading nothing but things and people with whom I disagree to a greater or lesser degree. This is why I have friends I can talk with who are Marxists and socialists. I also have many feminist friends, especially but not only from philosophy circles, which is why I have the ability to reach out and talk with a SCOTUS protest organizer on terms of trust and friendship. (By contrast, I don't know anyone who attended the January 6th protest/riot as a participant, though you might think they were more aligned with my political views.)

Even here, some of you (especially Mr. Hines) frequently tell me that I'm wide of the mark on issues we commonly discuss. That's fine; you're welcome. 

More too, I find that my views are changing in recent years, and may have even fewer in alignment. The intense patriotism I felt as a younger man has been replaced by a horror at how corrupt and indecent our government has become. I once thought of America as a force for good in the world; I don't think I still believe it is a force for good even at home. I think it is past time to dissolve the bonds that unite our nation, and replace them -- as the Declaration of Independence says we have both the right and the duty to do under such circumstances -- with better bonds to guarantee our natural rights and liberties. Increasingly my idea about what 'better bonds' look like is perhaps Tolkien-style anarchist, certainly voluntaryist, in its rejection of concentration of power and its embrace of diffusion of power among the people. 

I'm still working on formalizing the latter into something workable, but it's a project I take to be my own and not one where I have a large following. Certainly I know of no journal devoted to it; the journals of the day are all about retaining or recapturing the Powers that Be, to use them to drive the tribal will and suppress the other tribes. I want no part of that, and raise the black flag -- see sidebar -- as an alternative to that entire project. 

But direct me, if you can.


So last year we heard a lot about the "surge" in violence against Asian Americans. Turns out that, statistically, Asians in America are not only at the bottom of the violence-victim hierarchy, they're the only group whose numbers are trending down.

Partly that may well be because there are so few acts of violence against them anyway; statistics get weird and unreliable whenever numbers are small. And it's good news, to be clear: no decent person wants them to suffer more violence. It's just another example of how our news is so fake and manipulated. We were all sold a narrative based on a few anecdotes and some polling that turns out not to be grounded in the broader reality.

You'd better run to the city of refuge

I love these Sunday-school-lesson folk gospel songs.

God called Moses on the mountain top
And he placed the law in Moses' heart.
And then he stuck this commandment in Moses' mind,
Then said, "Moses, don't you leave my children behind."

You'd better run, etc.

Well people believe and they think they done right;
You can pick up your bible and read it tonight.
You can read in Genesis you'll understand
That Methuselah, he was the oldest man.
Well he lived nine hundred and sixty nine
And then died and gone to heaven in good due time.

Well Paul's command for the Pharisees:
Well old Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews,
He came to Jesus, he came by night,
He said, "I want to be born into the heavenly sight."
Then Christ spoke to Nicodemus as a friend,
Said, "If you want to go to heaven you must be born again."
Well old Nicodemus didn't understand:
How could a man be born when he was so old.

Well beautiful Sampson from his birth,
He was the strongest man that ever lived on earth.
One day Sampson was walking along;
Well Sampson's strength was never found out.
But Delilah came and sat on his knee,
Said, "Please tell me where your strength might be."
He told her, "My strength lies in my hair.
You just shave a my head just as clean as my hand,
And my strength will become as a natural man."

"Sir, that's a window"

In fairness, Feynman really was a genius, but the fun of this story is how he lucked into looking like one on a particular occasion at Oak Ridge, by keeping a straight face. The man could tell a story.

Are COVID hospitalization rates rising?

Per the CDC, COVID hospitalizations are rising among those aged 75 and up, but not noticeably otherwise.

On these charts, it's usually best to ignore the dip in the last week, which persists and apparently relates to slow data processing.

The best kind of redistribution

"Mr. Bernard Shaw proposes to distribute wealth," Chesterton summarized. "We propose to distribute power."
A good Newsweek article by Lee Habeeb about decentralized power and the healthy competition sparked by federalism.

Mean tactics

This is as unfair as Libs of Tik-Tok's habit of publicizing videos that people take of themselves and post online with the expectation that others will watch them. When will the White House put a stop to the horror?

Not so easy this time

From Ed Morissey at HotAir:
Roberts could [hijack the Obamacare ruling] in 2012 because the court was split 4-4 with himself in the middle. All he had to do was persuade himself. This time, however, Roberts finds himself on the outside looking into a five-seat conservative majority. If anything, Thomas (and Alito) want to make sure that Roberts doesn’t keep playing politics by issuing judicially and constitutionally incoherent rulings just to keep favor with the press and the Beltway elite. Given what we know about Thomas, he probably sees that as the poison that led to this moment, and that the best antidote is to make sure you don’t get another dose of it.

Think of it as UBI rather than salary

"You can equalize salaries when the people getting paid aren't doing anything that matters."
This scales up brilliantly to a lot of public-sector work, as well as monopolies and industries heavily infiltrated by the state, which are public-sector-curious.

We Trusted You, Bush

Once upon a time we took your word. We wagered our lives on it. Some killed for it, and still carry the weight of that; some bear scars and great wounds; some died. 

On Sonnets

This is just a creative writing class, not a literature class; I gather the professor's point is that no one going forward will want to write in the classical styles, at least no one who wants to publish in a major creative writing or poetry journal being published today.

All the same, were I the professor I would not have dropped but rather emphasized the traditional forms. The stricter the form, the better the poetry: this is because the more imagination and thought has to be put into how to express one's intended meaning in the given form. Even a poor poet can produce a decent sonnet if they take the time to get the form right. The strictness drives the development of the processes of mind that allow for the construction of better poems then even in the looser forms. 

Tennyson did great things in blank verse, but he didn't start there. "He mercilessly subjected his productions to the most painstaking revision.[3] He attempted various styles, and experimented with all sorts of metres. Thus he served his laborious apprenticeship and acquired a mastery of his art."

(They don't study Tennyson anymore either.)

In any case I have written several sonnets in the 21st century. They are poor poetry, perhaps; they certainly would not obtain publication in a fashionable journal. That was not their purpose, however: nor their intended audience. Addressed to the right person, at the right hour, the form is of lasting value.

More on 18 USC 1507

There's been a lot of discussion about this Federal law preventing, inter alia, protests outside the homes of judges. 
Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

I recently spoke with one of the protest organizers about this to see what she thought -- no names, of course. She said that they were coordinating their protests carefully with the local police to ensure that they remained within the letter of the law. 

A lot of work is being done by the phrase "or near" here: how near do you have to be to trigger enforcement?  According to her they stay on the correct side of police barricades, where they are told it is ok to protest, and are outside the entrances to the neighborhoods rather than outside the actual homes of the Justices. 

It occurs to me on reflection that the Federal law being cited doesn't actually mention Justices anyway. It mentions judges, witnesses, jurors, and so forth. The legislative intent is to protect the integrity of the trial process by preventing intimidation of witnesses, jurors, lawyers and judges. This is because the trial is supposed to be dispassionate in nature; passion is proper to the political branches. The Supreme Court, though, has arguably become a political branch -- indeed, I think it would be hard to argue any other view. If and insofar as it has, it must be subject to the First Amendment's 'free speech / free assembly / right to petition for redress of grievance' guarantees as any other political branch.

Daily dose of lunacy

You may not know that the problem with the Democratic Party is that it's too policy-based and rational. Poor things, they can't compete with the Right's ninja-masters of emotional manipulation. This Politico article explains that Democrats need to get angry to win. Maybe some riots? Some shrieking at the sky in online videos? No more Mr. Nice Guy Wonk. Spitballing here: there could be an issue with policy-based persuasion if the audience doesn't fully appreciate the fabulous results of the policies so far. If your opponent can generate rage and fear in the electorate by simply pointing to the effect of your recent initiatives in the core areas of our lives, the problem may not be the the unfair use of rage and fear in the politics of persuasion. I'll leave for the imagination of the reader the question whether the current batch of Ds could be said to favor gonads over gray matter more than any political movement in human history.

Good to Know

"The mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics does not constitute domestic violent extremism or illegal activity and is constitutionally protected."
From a new DHS memo.

Hiking the Art Loeb Trail

Yesterday I went up on the Art Loeb Trail near the Shining Rock Wilderness, in the Pisgah Forest, just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The pile of rocks you can see behind me in this shot is Mt. Tennent.

I reached it shortly after snapping that shot. It has a plate in honor of its namesake. This view is looking south, over the Nantahala National Forest, this being approximately where the two national forests come together. (For Mike G., the exact border is NC 215, which separates the Pisgah's Shining Rock Wilderness from the Nantahala's Middle Prong Wilderness. There was a motorcycle wreck up there yesterday on my way back, also on a motorcycle. I stopped to help, but Balsam Grove Volunteer Fire Department had it in hand. We often partner on wildfires in the Nantahala.)

Goodbye, Madison Cawthorn

I may have mentioned my opinion that my current congressman is an idiot. A lot of people would describe him in worse terms: embarrassment, vicious, liar, and worse even than that. I don't bother with those matters. Of course a Congressman is a sexually-perverse liar who abuses those over whom he or she has authority. How can you expect any better than that, looking at Congress? They're the scum of the earth, with rare and blessed exceptions -- and fewer of those all the time.

No, what really bothers me is that every time he opens his mouth he says something dumb and/or useless. I don't expect a Congressman to be decent or moral or upright, but I do expect them to be useful. As far as I can tell Cawthorn isn't even useful to his funders or himself. 

Therefore it is with some small pleasure today that I notice his defeat in yesterday's primary. He will not be missed.

The general election will be between a Republican who is a member of the state legislature prayer club and shooting club, and an Asheville councilwoman who is a married lesbian mother of three and an ordained Christian minister. This perfectly summarizes the current condition of Western North Carolina. 

Food riots

There's not much people won't do in the face of starvation.

Crazy as a rat in a coffee can

I can add nothing to expose any more clearly the lunacy embedded in every sentence of this description of a political strategy.

Good wolf

Freddie DeBoer inadvertently makes the case that the last few decades of decline in U.S. colleges has been a clever Republican gambit to eliminate their taxpayer funding.

Dodd. v. Roe

Setting aside for a moment what the law of abortion should be, what the frantic controversy over the Supreme Court's impending ruling in Dodd suggests most strongly is that almost no one in the U.S. has the least notion how the three branches of government interact or what it means to have a system composed of federal and state governments, each with its own proper sphere. It's just too complicated, I think, and editors of moderately respectable newspapers suffer a brain freeze over the notion that there is a Single True Law enforced by a Single Dear Leader.

Jazz Shaw at HotAir often gets these things right:
[I]f they overturn Roe, they will not be criminalizing abortion. Nor will they be mandating it be legal. They will be allowing the states to decide for themselves. If a state chooses to restrict abortions through legislative action, it will not be “defying the Supreme Court” or undermining its authority. They will actually be following the court’s ruling by making their own choice. The same goes for states that elect to keep the procedure legal or even further safeguard it. If anything, the Supreme Court’s relevance and authority would be exemplified by such scenarios.
As the author notes, if you want an example of real confusion created between state and federal law, you have only to look at conflicts on gun law and drug law, and the problem isn't the Supreme Court, it's the other branches of government.

Red-pilled oddballs in LaLaLand

I have no idea if this guy Michael Shellenberger would make a good governor. I bought his book "San Fransicko" a while ago, but haven't yet read it. Still, the bar for sanity in California is low, and he does at least appear to have retained some capacity for rational thought, which makes him a unicorn in that state's politics. Per his interview with Bari Weiss:
It boggled his mind that the other candidates running for governor were 100-percent certain about what they couldn’t know, and weirdly unsure about how to fix things that could be fixed.
“Politics should be a means to an end of a good society,” Shellenberger said. “They’re making it the end.” He was referring to the homeless activists who were his nemesis, but he could have been talking about the environmentalists or the pro-lifers in the desert. “Their real goal is control and moralizing and power. Mine is freedom, care, civilization.”
Not that I agree that the goal of pro-lifers is control and moralizing and power, but the goal of some people in politics on any issue certainly can become that, and it behooves us to watch out for the trend.
[H]e knew there was a chasm between what progressive activists said they wanted and what they actually wanted. They claimed to want to end homelessness, just as the environmentalists had claimed to want to combat climate change. But that wasn’t true. Really, they wanted the fight, the feeling of moral superiority and, of course, the cash for their NGOs.
That sentiment alone makes him a valuable heretic.

Inflation, What Is It?

A bad first day.

The answer, which she never got near, was that government's raising taxes on the wealthiest (corporate or individual) could potentially decrease the money supply, such that fewer dollars were chasing the existing goods. However, since that answer depends on government controlling its own spending rather than just pumping those dollars out on something else, it's as fantastical as a chimera or a unicorn.

Red Moon at Night

My poor cellphone is inadequate for celestial photography, but last night was a clear night excepting a few low clouds. The lunar eclipse settled into the gap below the Corona Borealis, right of Serpens Caput and left of Bootes. 

At first I could only see the brightest five stars around the red moon, so it looked to be inside a pentagon. As the eclipse came on stronger, though, the constellations shone through more and more, until eventually you could see them all clearly. 

It was a fine sight.

One more reason to vote MAGA

Dr. Fauci says he couldn't bring himself to work for Trump again. I'm guessing not for De Santis either.

What Constitutes a Burger

A heated discussion with incorrect poll results. The patty melt is a burger. The patty melt is a variation of a burger, and therefore a member of a subset of the burger set. As a subset, all members of the subset are also members of the set. Therefore, all members of the patty melt subset are also members of the burger set. QED.

One can, however, defend a vagueness-theory answer in which some things are clearly burgers, and some things are clearly not burgers, but there are going to be median cases where -- while there may be a fact of the matter about whether or not they are -- we lose clarity on the question. "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" is a good example of another debate people have in which the answer seems vague rather than clear. 

This approach may finally be similar to AVI's in effect, where we ultimately lose any final answer on what is or isn't a burger or a sandwich; but there are facts of the matter about what different people take to be such things at different times and places.

However, the history of hamburgers is fun to read about. Sources are too unclear to be sure that we have the archetypal hamburger at any point before the 1920s, when early major chains like White Castle went into operation. However, there are viable claims all the way back to the 1740s. 

White Castle actually claims their sandwich originated at the hands of one Otto Krause in 1891, with a fried egg -- still very popular in Australia -- and was popularized by German sailors. I think that sounds entirely plausible: that period knew a great many German sailors, who could easily have spread the style to America and Australia as well. However, German instability had existed since the Thirty Years War, and there had been many earlier waves -- including in the 1700s, making the earlier claims quite possible too.

Of course we would run into that 'but was it really a hamburger qua ground beef mince, or some other kind of sausage that was known in Hamburg and just called a 'Hamburg sausage' in 1747? No one knows.

The late 19th century through all these Worlds Fairs and similar fairs that are mentioned in the article was also the great period for the American popularization of chili -- and also wide variants of exactly what chili might be, from the chili con carne of the Southwest, to Texas Red, to New Mexican Green and Red, to even the Midwest's Cincinnati chilli (not a typo). These days you get chili with and without beans, with and without meat, and with nontraditional meats. 

All quite fascinating stuff, and why I am up after midnight for no good reason.

A Moment of Punk Rock

I don't know Gentleman Jesse, but I went to college with his wife so we know each other on Facebook. She's proud of him and wanted everyone to hear his new single, which is part of a larger recording to be released on Third Man Records. (I don't know of them either, but I get the reference.)

We don't do a lot of punk rock around here, but I like the genre. This has something of the CBGBs era sound, which is later than I usually like; but the subject matter is a little more mature than you often get. It's a song about how your life will turn out to be meaningless if you don't spend it protecting something or someone that matters, because then at the end you won't matter to anyone either.

It doesn't seem to be on YouTube, but if you click through the first link you can listen on SoundCloud or in your browser. [UPDATE: Soundcloud has an embed option, so you can hear it below as well.]

Fear of the WHO

Following James' suggestion at AVI's place, when this wild-eyed letter came across my desk today I looked up the actual treaty they're freaking out over. There really are some worrisome aspects to it, just not the one the out-freakers identified. Actually-worrisome things include Article V, Surveillance, which authorizes the WHO to engage in direct surveillance operations inside member countries if they determine that the member country isn't spying enough on its own. Surely the last thing we need is even more surveillance by spies on ordinary people.

Likewise Article VI, which demands the submission of "wherever possible, genetic sequence data" to the WHO. You can understand exactly why they'd want that information as, you know, the World Health Organization. Genetic sequencing is a highly useful technology for disease control. It's also excellent for developing advanced biological warfare weapons that can target populations based on genetic data. 

Yet the parts the letter says to worry about are anodyne. They call out by name Article XII, sections 2, 3, and 5. Article 3 has already been struck. Article 2 authorizes the WHO's Director-General to "notify," "seek the views of the Committee," and then, if a public health emergency is identified, "seek the views of the Emergency Committee." There's nothing stopping them from doing that now. Everyone has a right to talk to people, notify them and/or seek their views on things. 

All this ultimately refers to Article 49, which lays out a procedure for determining if there is a public health emergency or not. This procedure explicitly permits dissenting views, and requires that all such views -- majority and dissent -- be made available to member states. Then the procedure allows for the collection of even more views, this time from the member state governments. 

The only muscular part of this comes at the very end, where the member states are obligated to enact these regulations into their own domestic laws within five years. Unless they don't: "If a State is not able to adjust its domestic legislative and administrative arrangements fully with these Regulations or amendments thereto within the periods set out in paragraph 2 of this Article, as applicable, that State shall submit within the period specified in paragraph 1 of this Article a declaration to the Director-General regarding the outstanding adjustments and achieve them no later than 12 months after the entry into force of these Regulations or the amendments thereto for that State Party."

So if you don't comply, you are required to send a letter explaining why you won't.

The UN isn't the threat people sometimes imagine it to be. It is, and always will be, a completely useless organization made of of rent-seeking bureaucrats with no actual power. 

News to me

Did Steny Hoyer mean to blurt out that the U.S. is at war in Ukraine?

Sanity outbreak at MIT

Yikes. Did you know MIT students' mean math SAT score is 790? I guess if you can't hit a solid 800 there you're chopped liver. Now for the sanity outbreak: schools all over the country are engaging in the suicide pact of ceasing to require SAT scores in the admissions process. MIT tried it at the beginning of the pandemic, then noticed it was having an awful retention problem with students who had been admitted to a program beyond their reach, so it's reverted to requiring SAT scores. Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but since the school isn't willing to water down its standards, it faced a choice between eliminating students before they arrived or after.

Regardless of how unfair anyone may think it is, SAT scores are a fantastic predictor of academic success, particularly in the elite STEM fields. MIT requires a solid core of STEM courses no matter the students' major, so there's basically no escape from the horsepower requirement. I suppose the next step is to argue that the core STEM curriculum is colonialist and patriarchal.

Choosing a college

This link looked like classic click-bait, but I hit the bait like an eager fish. It turns out to be a fairly interesting list of the "worst" college for your money in each of the 50 states.

On the one hand, the approach of ranking the schools according to average cost per year, average total student debt, average earnings several years after graduation, and default rate on student loans is a helpful organizational and analytical tool. The article largely avoided the subject of the quality of education by focusing instead on whether a student could expect to earn a living sufficient to pay off his student debt. The odd thing was the comments section for each school, which dwelt almost exclusively on students' complaints about how non-nurturing the staff was and how un-fun the extracurricular life was, with a minor emphasis on how dilapidated the buildings were.

I was also surprised by the statistics on admission and graduation. The commentary assumed that a high admission rate was a good thing but a low graduation rate was a bad one. Maybe, and it certainly would interest me to find that schools sucked students dry after a couple of years then kicked them out once they couldn't qualify for any more student debt. When it comes to turning a degree into a job, however, it seems that a low graduation rate might easily result from a school's unexpected adherence to standards for graduation, especially if the admission rate is very high: admit 'em all and let the failure rate sort 'em out. But graduation rates in the neighborhood of 16%? Yikes. That's really testing an approach that encourages everyone to give it a shot, no matter unpromising a match there might be between their backgrounds and the prospects for higher education.

In general, neither the article nor the students interviewed showed much interest in anything that would occupy my attention in evaluating a college. Besides wanting to understand how much academic excellence could be encountered, I'd want to know whether including the degree on a resume would be likely to increase my chances in landing a job in a particular field and whether, once I'd landed it, the content of the coursework would be likely to improve my chances of demonstrating excellence in my new position. There may have been career counselors at my university (no life coaches, I feel sure), but I don't recall meeting any. Our sports programs were barely detectable. Campus party life did exist, but few of us had a lot of leisure for it, and to the extent we did, I suppose we mostly made our own fun. Catapult-propelled water balloon wars between dorms were popular. Parties tended to be private and impromptu. There were some bars and restaurants near the campus, but the supply of students was too small, too cash-strapped, too car-less, and too frantically busy to support the kind of off-campus student scene you might find at, for instance, UT Austin.

We did mostly manage to become gainfully employed. Student debt was not such a thing back then. Only the most determined Peter Pans among us were likely to experience serious difficulty in avoiding a student loan default.

All this made me curious to see how my alma mater's statistics compared to the nation's "worst" schools. The admission rate today is 11%, below any on that list, I think. The on-time graduation rate is 83%, high for the list. The average graduating salary is much higher, especially if you take the easiest path to riches: computer science. (When I graduated in 1978, that was an exotic new choice.) The loan default rate is extremely low, about 1%. I notice that the male/female admissions split is now 50/50. In my time, men outnumbered women about 4 to 1. I'd be interested to see what that ratio looks like today in the STEM majors.

The Two Best Days of My Life

I've just had them, and I can't tell you about them. I didn't get rich, and I very pointedly didn't hurt anybody. There's a convicted felon up on fresh assault charges right now who'll never understand how happy it made me to protect him... from me.

I did the right thing, spoke the truth, hurt no one and I'm a better and happier man than I was two days ago. It's always the morning of the world; every day you can suddenly wake up in it.

No questions.

God Hears You, Boys

Lots of people think they aren’t religious. If you talk to God, you know you’re talking to someone. If you believe enough to pray, I think you believe enough. 

Why Jews are persecuted

Since I was a child and learned about the Holocaust, I've wondered what it is about Jews that makes so many cultures lose their minds. The best theory I ever came up with was something about their alien insularity, which triggers xenophobia and envy as long as they remain differentiated, cohesive, and successful. This canary-in-the-coalmine explanation rings more true for me, though, than anything I ever came up with:
“Since ancient times, in every place they have ever lived, Jews have represented the frightening prospect of freedom. As long as Jews existed in any society, there was evidence that it in fact wasn’t necessary to believe what everyone else believed, that those who disagreed with their neighbors could survive and even flourish against all odds.”
In other words, where liberty thrives, Jews thrive. But where liberty is under siege, Jews will inevitably be, too.
Beware any culture that celebrates antisemitism.

That's some deep bench

The darkest of dark horses just won the Kentucky Derby at 73-to-1 odds after filling in for a scratched horse just before the race.

The overhead video shows absolute nobody Rich Strike starting way back in the pack, then apparently deciding, "I don't like all these horses in front of me. Is this supposed to be a race or something? Is this the best the rest of you guys can do?"

Maybe Not Everybody

Joe Biden today, repeating his campaign misstep of praising the comity he had with segregationists: "Even back in the old days when we had real segregationists... at least we'd end up eating lunch together."

Not everybody would, since the lunch counters were segregated. I guess everyone who was important to him was there, though. 

Platonic versus Aristotelian Causality

Tom asked a question about how things are caused in the post about the philosophy of abortion. This is exactly the sort of question that most people will find impossibly irritating, dense, arcane, and useless to consider; it is also, therefore, exactly the sort of question I love to think about. Aristotle says that the highest things are of course useless: to be useful is to be good for something else, as a tool is good for being able to perform a repair, and the repair is good for being able to return to using the truck, and the truck is good for being able to fetch food for yourself and your family, and the food is good for feeding the people you love so that they won't die. The people you love, though, are good for their own sake: they may not be useful at all. Nevertheless they can become the focus of your whole life: especially a baby is not useful but readily becomes the focus of the parents' lives for quite some time.

So too philosophy, especially metaphysics: it may not be useful at all, but that is because it is the study of the very highest things.

So I'm going to answer this question at length. Out of courtesy for the rest of you, I'll put it beyond a jump break so that you can dodge the question if you want.

PR Firm: Keep Your Corporate Mouths Shut

A major PR firm that reps for Coca-Cola and others is advising its clients not to talk about abortion. They warn that this is a 50/50 issue, and the brands risk permanently alienating a large part of their customer base  no matter what they do. The journalist reporting on this is so unhappy about it that they cited, in parentheses, a poll that found that 72% of Americans object to overturning Roe. Yet the polling is all over the place on this subject; Gallup found that 70% of Americans favor abortion restrictions.
Long term, there have been very durable gains in pro-life sentiment. Gallup polls conducted in 1995 and 1996 indicated that less than 37 percent of Americans identified as “pro-life.” When the results from Gallup polls conducted between 1995 and 2009 are averaged, “pro-choice” outpolled “pro-life” by six points. However, over the past decade, the pro-life position has reached parity with the pro-choice position. The 14 polls Gallup has conducted on this issue since 2010 show that an average 47 percent of Americans identify as pro-life, and an average 47 percent identify as “pro-choice.”
As clearly as I can make out the numbers, there are less than a fifth of Americans in the "ban all abortions" or "ban no abortions" camp. The rest of the country is in the middle somewhere (including me, as you know from reading my philosophical account of it from the other day). How you phrase the question can lead to a 70% figure on either side of the issue, but that's illusory. For the most part Americans want to restrict abortion somewhat but not entirely, and differ about just where the line should be.

The Second Russo-Japanese War

 History rhymes, they say:

Although Russia suffered a number of defeats, Emperor Nicholas II remained convinced that Russia could still win if it fought on; he chose to remain engaged in the war and await the outcomes of key naval battles. As hope of victory dissipated, he continued the war to preserve the dignity of Russia by averting a "humiliating peace". Russia ignored Japan's willingness early on to agree to an armistice and rejected the idea of bringing the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. The war was eventually concluded with the Treaty of Portsmouth (5 September [O.S. 23 August] 1905), mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt. The complete victory of the Japanese military surprised international observers and transformed the balance of power in both East Asia and Eastern Europe, resulting in Japan's emergence as a great power and a decline in the Russian Empire's prestige and influence in eastern Europe. Russia's incurrence of substantial casualties and losses for a cause that resulted in humiliating defeat contributed to a growing domestic unrest which culminated in the 1905 Russian Revolution, and severely damaged the prestige of the Russian autocracy.

The Russians have once again found themselves in a conflict with a power they assumed inferior that they can neither seem to win nor escape. In this case the sticky element is again that the supposedly inferior power proved to have military might much greater than expected: the Japanese because they'd carefully constructed Western-style technologies over the decades following the Meiji Restoration; Ukraine because NATO and especially the United States have found ways to support the conflict without being dragged into it (so far).

Russia is still making slow progress in the Donbas region, which was the main objective of their offensive, so they may avoid a 'humiliating peace.' Their reputation as a military power has been savaged, though, and the prestige of the Putin regime badly damaged. Whether that portents a future revolution in Russia remains to be seen.

A Revealing Press Conference

Jen Psaki says that the President supports no limits on abortion whatsoever, and refuses to condemn people who are posting maps to the homes of Supreme Court Justices.

The Supreme Court put up barricades today, making it now the case that all three constitutional branches of the Federal government feel the need for walls to protect themselves from their own citizens. 

With some justice:

Col. Kurt: Reject Freaks and Weirdos

Kurt Schlichter does have a way with words.
Have you noticed the absolute freakshow quality of the people who want to keep us in chains? Perhaps it’s one thing to be repressed by people who are at least nominally badass, like Romans or Mongols. But these geebos who make up the Democrat Party’s loudmouth wing? The sexually hopeless toads outraged because other people who might someday know the loving touch of another human can’t whack their babies? No. Not only does their tyranny fail the freedom test, it fails the aesthetic test....

[J]ust look at the antics of that fascist disinformation girl. She sings show tunes. She’s into Harry Potter – non-threatening sensitive and magical boys are sooooo dreamy. She’s also eager to shove you into a train car headed to a gulag, and as it pulls away from the station she’ll be shouting at you ruffians to use your inside voices.

That’s right – the mediocre girl who played the lead in your high school’s production of “Hello, Dolly!" – which you skipped to go pound Buds with your pals like normal people – is the harbinger of tyranny.
Young Arlo Guthrie described the crowd at Woodstock thus. Somehow they've taken over.

UPDATE: On reflection, COL Kurt is of course being too harsh here. That's his thing. Yet there is also an Aristotelian point about power and virtue. Power is the most dangerous human quality, and a wise society strictly limits its existence to only absolutely necessary cases, and then further limits its concentration. Where power is unavoidable, power should not be entrusted to people who are not virtuous; having the right virtues to exercise an office is in fact the major qualification for holding that office. These are the true virtues, the classical ones: wisdom, courage, moderation, self-discipline. 

We use the phrase "virtue signaling" to indicate what is actually a vicious behavior. People who engage in it are trying to exercise power that they haven't earned. The Biden administration is engaging in attempting to govern almost exclusively as a performance of virtue signaling, and these appointments are themselves signals of that sort. It's no wonder that everything is falling apart.


"Ultra MAGA"

Now MAGA stands for "Make America Great Again." Therefore, "Ultra MAGA" would imply an intense devotion to doing things that would make America great again. 

Old Uncle Joe Biden seems to think that is a bad thing. What's his alternative? Not making America great again? Making China or Iran great? CNN refers to this as him 'sharpening his midterm message,' but it had better get sharper than this if he wants to make any sense to voters -- who happen, ex officio, to be Americans.

Let Me Explain the Two Rules of Business


LAT: Roe Was Never That Great

I expect to learn that the draft we've seen is merely Alito's argument to the court, rather than a final decision; but it is interesting to see no less than the LA Times admitting that Roe was actually a badly reasoned decision. "Shaky legal foundation" means that we understand why we're going to lose this thing we really care about. 

Confer Mt. 7:24-27.

Philosophy on Abortion

I've written about this at length over the years, but I find this morning that search engines like Google and DuckDuckGo can't find anything I've written on the subject. So let's run through it one time quickly.

1) Abortion kills a living, individual, human being. 

1a) Living: Philosopher Hans Jonas points out that the activity that is life, what makes a living being different from a rock, is that the living being is taking resources from nature and putting it into its own order. Your body does this all the time. You eat, your body digests the food and breaks it into constituent elements or molecules, and then puts those things into the order of your muscles, bones, organs. That's life. That's what life means; that's what life is. A child is doing that from the moment of conception, dividing and ordering, taking resources from its mother to bring itself into the order that also is itself. 

Cf. Aristotle Physics II.1: "Of things that exist, some exist by nature, some from other causes." That's what he meant too: the baby in an important sense causes itself to come to be ('by nature'), whereas the rock came to be because of forces not its own. Heat created magma, uplift created cooling, weather broke it from the earth and made it a rock rather than a part of a mountain. Life entails having a nature, an order of your own, taking from the world and putting a part of the world into your own order.

So: abortion kills a living being.

1b) Individual: The order that the being is putting itself into is its own. It is not its mother's, nor its father's. Even in the case of twins, quickly the orders begin to diverge from each other and are subtly different. The child is a unique being. The child is not you: the child is himself or herself.

1c) Human: Nevertheless, all children have an order that is recognizably human. It is genetically distinct and different from other sorts of beings, e.g. dogs or bats.

Therefore: It is proven that abortion kills a living, individual, human being.

2) Aborted children are usually innocent in the strict sense of the word.

2a) Innocence implies absence of guilt. As a rule, guilt is a matter of the will. The child's will, before birth, is in a minimal state of activity: the child can move about the womb of its own free will in the later stages, but for the most part his or her actions are informed by instinct rather than will. Growing, for example, is an act of the child but not a chosen or willed action.

2b) Occasionally guilt can occur accidentally. When a child's body embeds itself in an intratubal manner, the child through no act of will is going to be guilty of killing his or her mother. Other times, children die in the womb and cannot be ordinarily expelled. These children, likewise, are accidentally guilty of killing their mother through sepsis and the like. This is not guilt in the strict sense, but by analogy; but it is nevertheless the sort of thing that might license violence in self defense (see 3, following). If someone is accidentally about to kill someone, and there is not time or space to reason with them about it, you might reasonably use violence to stop them from doing so.

3) Usually violence towards another individual human being is only justified by defense of self or another who is innocent.

3a) From 2b, I can see limited cases in which abortion is fully justified. If the mother would die and, therefore, the child will also die, it is sensible to save the one life that might be saved. If there's a legitimate choice between saving either life but not both, the mother might sensibly defend her own life if she chooses to do so. This is not the position of the Church, please note; it is a place where I dissent from the Church's teachings for what I take to be honest and honorable reasons. I trust in forgiveness if I am in error.

4) Thought experiment A: The Deer Hunter

4a) Though it is here proven that the child is a living, individual human being, it is sometimes argued that we cannot really know if the child is a 'person' or not. This strikes me as a fiction created for the purpose of creating an ambiguity that might allow for an immoral action, exactly like 'race' was invented as a concept in order to create a class of human beings whose interests might be ignored for convenience. 'Personhood' separate from 'the category of being a living individual human being' is almost nonsense; it could in principle extend to aliens or some such, but even then it would still embrace all living individual human beings.

4b) However, consider the case of a person who has a duty to feed his family. Times are hard and they are hungry. He takes his rifle and goes out into the woods to hunt for food. After a long time, he sees movement. At that distance, though, he cannot quite be sure if what he is seeing is another person or a deer. It could be a deer, but it also might be a neighbor who is walking in the woods in a deer-colored coat. May he morally shoot what might be another person, being uncertain? 

4c) He may not. If he fires and it turns out to be a deer, all is well; but if he fires, and it turns out to be his neighbor, he is guilty of manslaughter. Choosing not to fire, by contrast, is always guiltless. 

4d) The needs of his family for food might be considered a mitigating factor in determining just punishment, but not a sufficient justification for the manslaughter.

4e) Therefore, uncertainty about the personhood of the child is not a defense for killing it. The only certainly moral choice in cases of uncertainty about personhood is not to choose to kill.

5) Thought Experiment B: The Artificial Womb

5a) Another defense of abortion that is sometimes made is that women should not be forced to harbor a child to term if they do not wish to do so. Consider -- as is not hard -- a technology that would allow the child to be safely transferred to an artificial womb, so that the woman did not have to carry the child if she did not wish. Would she still have the right to kill the child, if there were an alternative?

5b) I submit that her bodily autonomy would be adequately preserved if she were free to remove the child to an artificial womb. However, notice that in such a case she would still have duties to her child. Just as a father has to pay child support even if he is not otherwise involved in the child's life, so too would she -- equal rights, equal duties -- have to pay for the support of a child she engendered even if she did not otherwise wish to be involved with the child.

5c) The current status allows a pernicious inequality of rights and duties between men and women, by allowing women to dispose of the child and/or their duties to the child (many states have surrender points where a living child can be abandoned without questions), but requires men to be responsible for 18 years regardless of their choice. This is a basic unfairness in our legal structure.

5d) More, it violates natural law as regards the woman and the child. The purpose of traditional institutions like marriage is the recognition that humanity naturally produces children, and children by nature need to be supported and educated to adulthood so that they can assume proper places in society. Children are due this from their parents by nature. That is true for both parents. It is a natural duty that our society has for decades attempted to relieve for women.

Conclusion: Except in rare cases as provided in (3a), abortion is morally wrong. It ought to be dealt with accordingly. 

Punk Voters Not Entirely Happy With 'Their' Party

“We, therefore, vow to use every procedural and political tactic possible to guarantee every woman imprisoned for seeking abortion access is given a $50 tax credit for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2023. All they have to do is fill out and sign ten simple forms at our web portal, which we expect will be up and running at some point in the next one to three years.”

It's the kind thing to do


From Wikipedia:
Beltane (/ˈbɛl.teɪn/) is the Gaelic May Day festival. It is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine ([l̪ˠaː ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Latha Bealltainn ([l̪ˠaː ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Apparently they've been doing a fire festival in Edinburgh since 1988. The BBC has pictures from this year's seasonal fest. 


There’s one of those map overlays, which we discussed in the comments to the last post on topic. 

It turns out that I do know how to do this stuff, which was gratifying to learn. 

A Tragedy in Rooster

This is one of the saddest songs ever written about cock-fighting. It's a sport that I understand remains popular in Mexico and among the Mexican population -- I mean those born in Mexico, rather than Americans of Mexican descent. But it was also popular in China, when I lived there: there was a place called Hangzhou Birds' Paradise that featured daily cock fights. Perhaps there's some ambiguity in the word "paradise" in Mandarin.

In any case, rope in if you decide to listen to this. It's a genuine tragedy.

The Cathedral of May

Happy May Day from the mountain. 

The devil you say

Next these extremists will start talking about patriotism and the U.S. Constitution.
[M]otherhood is used in women’s Jan. 6 legal defenses to make women appear more sympathetic, by emphasizing their caretaking roles and status as “good” mothers and grandmothers who are devoted to their husbands and families. Such defense strategies paint a picture of these women as nurturers who love their families and are committed to raising productive citizens in an attempt to outweigh the serious charges they face.
My favorite parts of the article: the "historical" context of mothers sewing KKK hoods and homeschooling. My guess is that they're teaching the kids to sew KKK hoods in those homeschools.

Thank goodness no one is teaching the tykes anything horrifying in the government schools.

There's an even worse image-rehabilitation program afoot: the effort to humanize fetuses by revealing their gender, which makes birthing persons more reluctant to kill them.

The new DGB has its work cut out for it.

Orienteering Preparation

It's proven to be hard to locate the proper gear for orienteering -- at least in the timeframe required, i.e., by Monday night. We're supposed to come up with enough baseplate compasses for everyone, plus the kind of map layovers that make grid-finding easy. The latter do not exist at all in any local hiking or outdoors outfitter. The former are sold out in most of the nearby towns, as the one thing tourists know they need before going into the Wild is a compass -- although most of them probably barely have an idea how to use one. Still, A+ for effort on behalf of the local hikers. Maybe we'll have fewer search and rescues this year.

I've taken on this particular task, and have so far been to "hiking" stores in Cashiers and Highlands that were completely barren, an "outdoors outfitter" in Sylva that had five, and a similar store in Bryson City that had two (but better ones). We already had a couple up at the department, so that's probably enough: but we may all have to share the same gridding overlay. 

Today while I was in Bryson City I ate at the worst 'Italian' restaurant I have ever encountered. I'll avoid giving out the name, but it's the only Italian restaurant in Bryson City. Western North Carolina has much to recommend it, but not its take on ethnic food. The tendency is to strip out every kind of spice,. reducing to the absolute basic ingredients. 'Mexican' food -- if you don't go to the increasingly common taco trucks run by actual Mexicans -- is likely to be meat, beans, cheese and sour cream, plus tortillas, with no spice of any kind beyond salt and maybe black pepper. (Especially near and over the Virginia border, there's a local 'white sauce' that is truly horrendous.) 

Now just to be clear. this only bothers me when it's presented as something it's not. There's a restaurant down the street called The Iron Skillet whose flavor profile is more or less exactly the same. It's fine. You can get pork chops (seasoned with white flour, salt and pepper), bacon, eggs, gravy, and it's authentic home cooking. Nothing wrong with the food not being spicy; and the local cuisine is just not. What bothers me is going into a "Mexican" restaurant or an "Italian" restaurant and receiving something that is very much not.

In this case, the food was also bad. The black bean soup I had was literally just black beans from a can, heated in water, with plain white rice and a dollop of sour cream added. This was followed by 'chicken parmigiana,' which was clearly a frozen patty they bought somewhere and reheated, served with overcooked spaghetti and what tasted exactly like Ragu spaghetti sauce on top of it. 

It was terrible, but because I weigh 240 pounds and am a Strongman competitor I ate every last bite of it, desperately needing the protein and calories by lunchtime. The waiter kept commenting on how much I must be enjoying the food since I was demolishing it as fast as he put it in front of me. I didn't have the heart to tell him. 

There is at least one exception on the 'ethnic food in Western North Carolina' rule. There is -- for Mike G, or others who may be passing through the area -- a fantastic Thai restaurant by the railroad tracks between Sylva and Dillsboro. The lady who owns and runs it is really from Thailand. It's amazing, but order at least two dishes because her idea about the amount of food a man needs at a meal is honestly Southeast Asian. So is her cooking, though, so spring for the pair.

There are also some great native Western North Carolina restaurants in Dillsboro, including especially the Heywood Smokehouse. The local barbecue is great, maybe as good as barbecue is anywhere. Nothing wrong with the local cuisine when they're making their own food. 

Rough Weather

Spring can bring rain, but May and October are usually the two most pleasant months of the year. Nevertheless earlier this week, AVI was talking about an old song that I happen to know well. In the discussion I mentioned that exposure to hard weather will take it out of you in about three hours -- after that, if you haven't got shelter, you're going to start making mistakes. 

This wasn't a random fact off the top of my head. We're doing Search and Rescue training this month, and I attended a four-hour training session on Monday night. The point was about setting priorities if you happen to be the first person to come upon someone, wounded or hypothermic or alone in the wilderness. People tend to think about food in survival situations, but you can survive without food for a long time. Water? Days. But you can die of exposure in less than a day, as our musical guest explains.

Our instructor is a man I greatly like. He's some kind of old Army, though he hasn't copped to it exactly; post-Nam Ranger, I'd guess. In his sixties he still BASE jumps and does SCUBA diving into caves. He's an old hillbilly who hates cities and has every kind of Deplorable instinct, another old Southern Democrat like me. 

And just now and then, amidst his long discourse on all these topics, he'll depart into extraordinary explanations that quote physics formulas from memory and then explain how they apply to survival situations. Somebody asked him about those Mylar 'space blankets' they sell. Shouldn't we carry them to wrap up hypothermia victims so they'll warm? Nope, it turns out: his account of why they're useless in those cases was one of the most erudite things I've ever heard, coming from a guy you'd probably have thought a backwoods redneck if you didn't stop and listen to him talk for a long while. 

Here's the formula, by the way. The example is of the surface of the moon, but this is physics, so it applies to the hypothermic guy who fell in a mountain creek with exactly equal force. 

Next week is orienteering, which I think I know how to do. I learned it many years ago and have done quite a bit of it, but I won't be surprised if I understand it better after he's done teaching us.

Quit showing our evidence to people

If I understand the problem correctly, the DNC worries that leaks from the January 6 witchhunt are causing voters to care even less about the agenda they hoped to push just in time for the mid-terms. If they'd been able to keep the evidence under wraps, it would been much more convincing later when they finally decided to unveil it with the proper dramatic flourish. Voters stubbornly keep telling pollsters they couldn't care less and wish their representatives would focus on inflation and the economy.

The only solution I can think of is to censor discussion of irrelevancies like inflation and force everyone to focus on the approved narrative.

Speaking of inflation, Chuck Schumer has a brilliant solution: raise taxes. Schumer didn't try to explain how raising taxes could curb inflation, but the WSJ notes that it's a recognized tenet of Modern Monetary Theory or, as I like to call it, Magic Money Tree. The theory is that raising taxes "removes spending power from the rest of us." Of course, it hands that spending power over to the government, which cheerfully indulges it, but because the money will be spent on things like solar panels it doesn't lead to inflation. That's where part of the Magic comes in. I think the idea is that you decrease demand (you won't) without decreasing supply (again no). As I see it, you decrease demand from citizens while matching it with demand from the government, so no net change in demand, and you decrease supply because government spending is never as economically efficient as citizen spending. At best you leave supply unchanged; I sure can't see how you increase it.

November can't come too soon. Mad economics must be voted out of office.

Those tea leaves are hard to read

Manchin keeps saying he doesn't want to spend a boatload of tax money, because it's making inflation worse. But it's so hard to understand what he means. We keep asking and asking, and all he does is repeat that he's not going to support that program. We ask what it will take to get him to support that program, and he says there isn't anything, he's just not going to do it. And now time's running out, with the mid-terms coming up. It's so unfair. Why can't he stop being so coy?

Why don't you spend your money on what I want?

One of the funnier wails over Elon Musk's announced takeover of Twitter is the now-popular complaint that he could have used "his" (by which they mean "our") $44 billion to end world hunger or (insert pet cause here). I have my usual objection to the neverending quest of virtue-signallers to find a way to make other people pay for the sacrifices that will make them feel personally generous, but there's another idiocy about this complaint. For one thing, Musk hasn't spent the money yet, but for another, when he does, the money doesn't disappear. It just moves into the hands of all the people who used to own Twitter stock. All of those enlightened stockholders are free as a little blue bird to spend the money eliminating world hunger. Each of them can do his tiny part, or they can form a band of brothers and do it jointly.

Not that it's so easy to get a large group of people to march in lockstep toward the One True Goal for which their money is certified appropriate, but that sounds like an argument in favor of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few oligarchs. You can then hope they agree with you, or can be bullied into agreeing with you, or will submit to your confiscation their wealth for the one true certified worthy purpose.

Killing Giants

Dropped a big tree today. It was an old, dead Hemlock. I've been watching it for years, hoping it would lean and fall on its own where it wouldn't threaten anyone. But it was right over the road, which is really a right-of-way over my land and not a state maintained road. If it killed anybody, it was my responsibility. For a long time I hoped it might fall safely, though I always worried about it. Over the last few days, though, it began to look very dangerous.

So today -- after a VFD call in the morning -- I decided that it was time to take that responsibility. It seemed clear in its leaning and compression, but I had no idea what it was like on the inside. Once I started cutting, it might do anything. I took out the initial wedge where I wanted it to fall. In fact it almost fell after the felling cut, but instead settled back and collapsed it, becoming secure again. I made a second felling cut, three-quarters deep like the first one, and it still wouldn't fall. So now there were three very deep cuts were in it, and it seemed perfectly serene while also being totally unstable. 

I put a rope on it, but my longest rope wasn't as tall as the tree. I wrapped that rope around an oak, and got the thing rocking just by pulling it myself. Still nothing. 

Finally I brought my truck up, tied the rope to the hitch, and eased it taught. Then, in 4x4, I let it pull just a little more tension in the line until I heard and saw it break in the rearview mirror. Since I knew the rope was shorter than the tree, I punched the gas to break the rope and get out from under it. The thing fell exactly where I had been meaning to drop it seven hours earlier. 

I sawed it into logs, and rolled them off the road and down the mountainside. My neighbor showed up for this last part, which was physically the hardest part though definitely the least dangerous. 

My neighbor's wife had been there earlier, and she said that she'd noticed a couple days ago that it had gotten looking more dangerous. My neighbor himself said the same thing as we were moving the pieces, that it had really become clear that it was a danger. This evening the UPS driver showed up to pick up a package, and he remarked that he'd had his eye on that tree for a while, and had been worried about it for a long time. 

Big, dead trees will kill you. Malory's knights fighting giants did no greater feat than we do when we take one of these things down.  

USMC Knife Fighting, WWII Training Film

This knife-fighting video is extremely well-grounded. Some of it (like the low thrust they're teaching) only works with a long blade, though -- note how long that bayonet is they're using. That's not a Navy Mark 2, the immediate ancestor of the Kabar. Other techniques, like the double parry, are very solid even with shorter blades. The move to a quick hand cut followed by more deadly techniques is also very well-grounded, as is the inclusion of wrist-grabbing and other grappling as a way of controlling blades.

Those techniques are Great Masters of Europe fencing techniques, descended from the rapier fighting of the Spanish, Italian, and French masters and the Elizabethans who learned from them. They had long ago passed out of Olympic fencing. I had no idea they were still current as late as WWII. 

That said, they're all subject to George Silver's critique of them: He thought that the average brawler from the docks would easily overcome the finest techniques, though they would work against someone else schooled in this form of fencing. You'd probably get a lot further rushing them than adopting a proper fighting stance and trying to out-fence them, and that's assuming (as the video does) that they might be equally armed and not possessed of a rifle and friends quickly called-for. I doubt this sort of fencing made much of a difference in the Pacific Theater of WWII, if indeed anyone ever attempted it at all. 

Still, it's interesting to see the old ways so well preserved in an unexpected place.

Your terms are acceptable

Defense One:
In his recent démarche to the U.S. demanding an end to military support for Ukraine, Putin has helpfully provided a list of those capabilities Russia most fears. The U.S. should treat this message not as a Russian ultimatum but rather as a Ukrainian shopping list.




I know this one. 

Lever Gun

 It occurred to me that you might like to see the thing. 

Equality Under the Law

A lot of the right this week is upset at Florida for having removed a special set of legal protections for Disney. It seems odd to me that restoring Disney to a status of equality under the law, using ordinary legislative means, is considered to be a violation of the 'rule of law.' 

I wonder -- not to be a conspiracy theorist -- if Disney isn't paying for some of this sort of coverage. This is close to incoherent, and these people are not idiots.


My mother reminds me that the father of a friend of mine was the last person sent to prison for making moonshine. His son later married one of my best friends, whom I wish I knew about. She was a good friend. 

Yeah, Obviously

AVI reposted this regional dialect quiz. 

The biggest difference between my dialect and the one native to these mountains is that I was raised with the standard Southern “ya’ll,” whereas here they say “you ‘uns.” Or “we ‘uns,’” as appropriate. In the Deeper South where I was raised we don’t have a first person plural other than “We.”


A Congresswoman from Georgia is being grilled today over whether her attempts to raise questions about the 2020 elections -- which, to be clear, were clearly stolen, illegal, unconstitutional, and illegitimate -- amount to disqualifying insurrection under the 14th Amendment.

Now we all know that the elections featured as many ballots as necessary that were delivered by illegal means like dropboxes. These were not approved by state legislatures nor Congress, as the Constitution requires; and there is no way of knowing if any of them, let alone all of them, accurately represented the will of a real live citizen voter. Being illegal the election was also unconstitutional, and therefore the government of the United States* is illegitimate.

My Congressman, Madison Cawthorn, is under a similar cloud. He is an idiot, however, so I won't be too sorry if he doesn't make it. Still, the principle is important: one ought to be able to object to illegality and fraud without it being deemed 'insurrection.' One might also reasonably fight an insurrection, if necessary to prevent illegality and fraud by the powerful; but that is a separate matter.

* Excepting the 2/3rds of the Senate elected in a different year, and arguably also the President and Vice President, who were elected by the Electoral College. However, determining who the proper electors were was intensely connected to the illegal election, so one might argue that the Executive Branch is entirely illegitimate at this point. 

Bake the Gender-Affirming Abortion

The Biden administration moves to force religious health care workers to violate their faith, or else lose their jobs.

If their kids are going to pre-kindergarten or public K-3 school while they work, the hope must be that maybe they'll be forced to provide 'gender affirming' medicines to their own children soon. That'll fix those religious people.


Two more from the Paper of Record.

Flight from Combined Arms

This is a longer piece at Task & Purpose, which is very critical of the USMC's new force development plan. Here is their summary:
  • Fires and sensors will take precedence over maneuver warfare.  
  • Defense will be favored over offense.  
  • Marines will not possess the type of units and equipment needed to “close with and destroy” an enemy.
  • Infantry will no longer be the mainstay of the Corps; missiles and technologies are to be its strength.
  • Without tanks and sufficient cannon artillery, there will be no basis for combined arms.
  • Marines will not have a mobile, protected, direct-fire weapons system for the first time since 1923.
  • The conviction that every tactical unit must have an integral direct and an indirect fires capability will no longer exist (Loitering precision munitions may alleviate this to some degree).
  • Smaller rifle companies and infantry battalions will belie the preference for large units that can cover more ground and absorb significant casualties and continue to fight. In short, these battalions will be less resilient.  
  • III MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) will no longer be a repository of capabilities used to form task-organized units for missions across the spectrum of conflict. The capabilities of I MEF and II MEF to do the same will be reduced greatly.
The Navy recently unveiled a plan for its future, as well, which has also been harshly criticized by people I take seriously on the subject (as well as people I don't know at all who are still making reasonable points). Of course 'it isn't the critic who counts, but the man in the arena,' as Theodore Roosevelt said. Still, nothing coming out of the leadership of the Department of the Navy is inspiring me to great confidence that they are actually setting the stage for winning wars. 

Lever Guns

I am a big fan of lever-action rifles. I don’t think any of these tips are very surprising, but it was fun thinking about shooting anyway. 

At Least They're an American Company

SpaceX is beating Russian jamming -- and the DOD's capabilities to do the same.