Shape Note Singing



This is one of Tex’s things, and she can doubtless speak more intelligently about it than I can. All the same, here is a photo from today’s Mountain Heritage Festival at Western Carolina University. I tried to upload a video but it didn’t work.  

A Cure for the Wokeness Problem in Corporate America?

TheNational Center for Public Policy Research may have found a brilliant solutionto the problem of woke corporate America- they are taking Starbucks to court, arguing its discriminatory policies put shareholders at risk- Turning the very woke programs they enacted favoring certain races against them, and all of them at once, rather than piecemeal.  Perhaps we have finally figured out the terrain we are fighting on and how to fight back.

The lawsuit, filed on August 30 by the public interest law firm the American Civil Rights Project, will showcase a novel legal approach to challenging the race-conscious policies of publicly owned corporations. Typically, the plaintiffs in such cases are employees or job applicants who say the policies violated their civil rights. Here, however, the plaintiff is a conservative nonprofit, the National Center for Public Policy Research, that owns shares in Starbucks.

The group is arguing that the coffee giant’s programs endanger "Starbucks and the interests of all its shareholders"—which the company’s officers have a legal duty to protect—by inviting "nearly endless" civil rights litigation that could force Starbucks to pay out damages.

If they are successful, corporations would have to steer clear of racial preference policies of any type- and go back to being race blind.  What an improvement that would be! 

Outlaw Country

So I've been seeing a lot of commentary online about how contemporary Nashville country is not very much like country music has been historically. I didn't know how seriously to take it because I don't listen to the radio and don't watch TV. 

Yesterday, however, rain forced me into a bar in what was styled as a "Barn & Grill," which bar turned out to be marble and which was playing contemporary country on its audio system. Good gracious. That is the worst stuff I have heard in ages.

Guess the Dallas Moore band was right.

Teachers as Moral Exemplars

Today I read about a school teacher who was fired from her job because she had taken up a second career online
For about six years, Sarah Juree worked full-time as a teacher in South Bend, Indiana.... [b]ut the single mother of twins said she was unable to support her family on the modest salary of $55,000 per year, especially as the cost of living continues to rise across the U.S. 

Juree said her rent alone cost nearly half of her income and her employer didn’t offer health insurance.
Rent is going up, and mortgage rates are skyrocketing, food costs are outrageous and gasoline continues to be expensive. One can easily sympathize with the problem.

The teacher's alternative concept for bringing in some extra money apparently upset her leadership, however, presumably because it makes her seem less moral they wanted a fifth-grade teacher to be. On the other hand, however, fifth graders are presumably not her market -- both because they are too young and because they have no money. Her intent was surely to keep these spheres separate.

Back on the first hand, one can argue that nothing can be kept secret from fifth-graders with internet connections. 

Still, it is striking to me that this kind of thing would get one fired at a time when the schools seem bent on increasing the amount of similar content in what they are pleased to call 'education.' Why forbid this to teachers you've got wearing badges around the school with QR codes that link to such content? You've already got them selling the content; why object if they want to make a little money off the sales? 

Is capitalism the real offense here? Is South Bend, Indiana all that different from Hilliard City, Ohio?

The Use of Trucks as Hate Crimes

In North Dakota, a man has run down and killed another, claiming that the dead man was a "Republican extremist." 
Brandt admitted to consuming alcohol before the incident, and stated he hit Ellingson with his car because he had a political argument with him. Brandt also admitted to deputies that he initially left the crash scene, then returned to call 911, but left again before deputies could arrive.
This reminds me of a Wisconsin incident in 2020, in which a man used his truck to murder a motorcyclist on the assumption that he was a Republican and Trump supporter, and therefore a racist of some sort surely.
[Sheriff] Waldschmidt said Navarro told detectives he targeted Thiessen because he was riding a Harley and “in Wisconsin white people drive Harley-Davison motorcycles and that the Harley culture is made up of white racists."... “Navarro said that if President Donald Trump and white people are going to create the world we are living in he has no choice and that people are going to have to die,” Waldschmidt said.
Of course it also reminds me of the Nice, France murders by an Islamist who killed 86 people and injured several hundred more. Gun massacres get all the media attention, but they rarely kill a dozen people; the largest in American history, the Vegas one where the guy was in a barricaded room at an elevated position over a very large crowd of people who could not seek cover, killed only fifty. Trucks are both more ubiquitous and more dangerous, but they cannot be banned from cities because they are absolutely necessary to the survival of cities. 

Be careful out there.

Mamas Don’t

At a music festival devoted to Waylon Jennings, two sons sing their fathers’ song. 

Putin Reminds NATO that Russia is a Nuclear Power

It has been striking to see how openly NATO has been interfering in this war, sometimes in ways that cross the traditional lines for combatant status. Selling weapons to Ukraine is one thing; funding Ukraine and then 'selling' them weapons with the money you gave them, then providing trainers so they can use those weapons effectively, then providing actionable intelligence and targeting solutions... at some point you've crossed the line. (That leaves as unknowable the truth of reports of NATO special operations forces being more directly involved even than that.)

So Putin, who is now seeing attacks inside Russia itself, mentioned that defending Russia is the reason for his nuclear force array. As indeed it is.

I wish I had some confidence that there was anyone in charge on our team who understood any of this, and wasn't just blundering along. "We mustn't underestimate American blundering. I was with them when they blundered into Berlin in 1918." Yes, and if we blunder into Moscow, we may blunder into a nuclear war as well.

Tolkien as Painter

Smithsonian Magazine has a brief article with a few images from  his lesser-known hobby of painting. He was also, of course, a cartographer. Of greater interest than the article itself is the set of links it contains, which go to other collections of his work.

Aristotelian Men's Fashion

Michael Anton, whom I've met several times through a mutual friend, wrote a book on men's fashion that drew its inspiration from Machiavelli's philosophy. Now Anton, I note, is much more inclined to fashionable attire than I am myself. I am however inclined to philosophy, and I realize on reflection that he has a model that with a slight adjustment proves to be much more broadly applicable. With this one small adjustment, it becomes a unified theory for dressing well as a man.

In entirely too brief a summary, Anton suggests that men's fashion (at least for the DC/NYC types such as himself) is a continuum with two poles: the ultra-conservative pole of strict propriety, and the fop. At the one pole is the charcoal grey suit with a white Oxford shirt and a tie that is red, blue, or a mixture of neutral colors that includes charcoal; it should be knotted according to your neck, with those who have long and thin necks wearing Full Windsor knots and those with short thick necks wearing four-in-hands. The foppish pole includes potentially very wild variations, up to and including purple suits and ostrich feathers. 


The goal, according to Anton's theory, is to get as close to the foppish pole as you can without looking ridiculous. By remaining rooted in a continuum that traces to the conservative, you can add variations until you get as far away as possible without looking like you are wearing a pimp costume from a 70s exploitation film. In this way you will have an attire that is striking, bold, and develops an internal confidence. If you go too far, you will be a laughingstock. Yet by going as far as possible, you will develop a personal style that is unique and demonstrative.

Now on this base model, different people can go more-or-less far on the scale. A big muscular man can probably wear a purple suit if he wants without anyone laughing at him. One sufficiently physically terrifying can wear broad stripes and carry a skull-tipped walking stick. A weaker man may wish to add only one or two flamboyant touches, but even he should not adhere to the perfectly conservative. 

What occurs to me is that this model can be usefully varied by varying the poles. For example, you can hold the one pole steady at conservatism, and replace the fop with the cowboy. Years ago now -- 2004 -- I attended a fundraiser at the Cosmos Club in DC in such an outfit: a charcoal grey suit, but a gambler's vest, cowboy boots, and a bolo tie. 
I had never heard of the Cosmos Club. The email invitation I got mentioned the address of the place, and the name, but nothing more about it. Emailed invitations are particularly informal; this one came from a US Marine, for a time after business hours; and it was at a place called a "club." So, naturally I assumed it was a bar of some sort.

It happened that I had another engagement in town that required semiformal dress, so I figured I'd take a bit of ribbing. Still, I had no way to change, so I planned to go in my suit. It's charcoal grey, in a traditional cut. I wore it with my black Ariat boots, my black Stetson hat, and a bolo tie.

The Cosmos Club turns out not to be a bar at all. It turns out to be...the place where the National Geographic Society was founded in the 19th century. It is contained in a mansion with Second Empire architecture. The interior is as rich as the exterior, and includes numerous treasures of great value, brought back from the corners of the earth and donated by the members.

Well, I'm a gambler from way back, so I simply put on my best poker face and walked right in. The doorman bowed as I entered, and I went upstairs to the gathering.

After a few minutes, a gentleman came up to me and shook my hand. He introduced himself as LtCol Couvillon, United States Marines, and former military governor of Wasit province.

"I had to shake the hand of any man," he said, "who could get in here wearing cowboy boots and a bolo tie."
It worked really well, in other words. You could look ridiculous if you overdo the cowboy thing: if I'd shown up in Wrangler jeans tucked into fancy-stitched cowboy boots, with a pearl-snap shirt and a big sombrero, I probably wouldn't have gotten in. But by blending the styles and pushing the alternate pole as far as you can get away with without looking like you're wearing a costume, you have a striking style that carries you.

You can also swap both poles out for other ones. I was thinking about this over the weekend because of the rather piratical style I adopted for the barbecue, which was coupled (excepting the VFD-issued t-shirt) with my more usual biker boots and jeans. You can look ridiculous if you look like you're wearing a biker costume or a pirate costume. John Travolta did the one in Wild Hogs (2007):


If everything you are wearing was bought at a motorcycle shop, you will probably look like a poser wearing a costume. Yet if you swap out the black pants for jeans, the 'biker' wrap for a silk scarf, and so forth, suddenly your aren't wearing a biker costume or a pirate costume. You have a style of your own.

This is similar to Aristotle's approach in his Nicomachean Ethics to finding virtue as the right mean between two extremes. It's not the perfect middle; it will differ for different persons in different situations. Some should go more one way, some more the other. Yet by finding the balance point between two different poles, the one that is right and appropriate for yourself, you come to the best place in matters of fashion as in matters of ethics. 

Nor should this be surprising; as I have always said in this space, aesthetics is a division of ethics. The confluence should be expected. 

On Human Nature

A professor of psychology writes on studying 'human nature,' as she calls it, in the LA Times. It may be behind a paywall, but here is the part I wanted to discuss.

In the past months, a growing choir of popular media has voiced impassioned concerns with the so-called innateness dogma. These critiques question the possibility that females are instinctively maternal, that biological sex (a notion distinct from gender) is binary, and that biology shapes society... At the root of the anxiety, however, are not the technical scientific merits of these proposals but their social consequences — their potential to elicit harm and perpetuate injustice.

...these concerns have moved to curbing the scientific process itself. In a recent editorial in the journal Nature Human Behavior — one of the leading scientific outlets — the editors have stated that they may request modifications or, in severe cases, refuse publication of “content that is premised upon the assumption of inherent biological, social or cultural superiority or inferiority of one human group over another.”

...Indeed, the notion of inherent cultural differences is not only morally objectionable but also conceptually bankrupt. But inherent biological differences — the topic of much active research — is a different matter. In fact, there is evidence that individual differences in IQ and reading and musical skills are heritable. In the eyes of some, however, this research is socially harmful.

Will restricting investigation into the science of human nature effectively prevent harm and cure the social ills that propagate injustice and prejudice?

Now, her answer to this assumes materialism, which directly defies the largest part of the 'human nature' discussion over the centuries. The Greek version is hylomorphic, with an assumption that there is some kind of form (or Form, for Platonists) governing and organizing the matter. For Christians and similar religious thinkers from the other Western monotheistic religions, this form takes on a spiritual context: it is a God-made or -shaped soul of some description. The author identifies in the piece as a Jew, but her answer dismisses the religious character of the form or the possibility of anything immaterial at work. 

It appears that people wrongly consider the psyche as ethereal, distinct from the body. So, they assume that psychological traits cannot be inborn, coded in our bodies from birth. To anyone operating with that assumption, the notion of inborn psychological differences seems frivolous — it smacks of discrimination. It is no wonder, then, that the very talk of human nature seems offensive....

But science says no such thing. First, science tells us that our bodies and minds (or psyches) are one and the same; so, the possibility that a woman’s genes shape her personality ought to be no more controversial than acknowledging their role in shaping her body. 

 Nor is she willing to go all-in on the idea of seeking the truth wherever it leads in any case:

First, when science directly inflicts harm on people, there is no question that science must yield. Second, talk of inborn group differences can inflict harm. Claims about human nature have been misused to hurt, discriminate and exterminate people... [f]or example, when abortions are curtailed, it is natural for women to fear that talk of “maternal instincts” can be exploited to further limit their reproductive rights.

I suppose it's a baby step in the right direction, at least. It still excludes the bulk of the philosophical tradition, which underlies the whole field that gave rise to the sciences she is interested in -- not merely psychology but biology. I think, and have defended in a paper, that hylomorphism is a better solution than many to many current problems in science from chemistry to biology. That there might be a set of forms inherent in reality that matter is inclined to adhere to would explain, for example, why crabs seem to have evolved multiple times. It makes sense of the relatively rapid timeframe for evolution in general: it's hard to credit a purely random process of occasional mutation with such rapid evolution.

Still, there remain "HERE BE DRAGONS" areas of things that cannot be thought, or at least not expressed -- not even in journals of scientific research. Well, one step at a time.

"The Pandemic is Over"

So says the President, demonstrating clearly that the question was always political rather than medical. The medical facts, whatever they are, do not even get mentioned; there are no statistics quoted. What you hear is that the trade show is back on, and 'look around, nobody is wearing a mask.'

Meanwhile, h/t Wretchard, can we finally get a real investigation into the origins?
Prof. Sachs recently co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calling for an independent inquiry into the virus’s origins. He believes that there is clear proof that the National Institutes of Health and many members of the scientific community have been impeding a serious investigation of the origins of COVID-19 and deflecting attention away from the hypothesis that risky U.S.-supported research may have led to millions of deaths. If that hypothesis is true, the implications would be earth-shaking, because it might mean that esteemed members of the scientific community bore responsibility for a global calamity.

"Inconceivable!" says the little Sicilian with the Spaniard and the giant. 

Also, Stephen Miller points out, Biden just used the COVID emergency as the legal excuse for enacting a trillion dollar student loan relief plan. But there's no emergency -- only the 'state of emergency' he extended in order to retain extra powers.

VFD Barbecue


For those few of you who know the way, Little Canada’s barbecue is today. Noon to six or until we sell out. 

UPDATE: Your hero after many hours of shoveling flaming charcoal into those huge barbecue ovens.

"We Can Read the Scoreboard"

Texas A&M invited Appalachian State University over for a 'tune up' game
Texas A&M came into this season with a ton of hype, bringing in the number one recruiting class because of all that oil money... A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher almost had an aneurism when Alabama coach Nick Saban called the school out for paying players....

A&M has this tradition called the “Midnight Yell,” where every Friday night when the clock turns 12, one of these “hype guys” goes and tries to hype up the crowd by saying the lamest things about the team they’re playing on Saturday.
“I Googled this team to make sure they’re even real. I was really confused, because Appalachia is definitely not a state. But, sure enough I found them, and they’re located deep, and I mean deep in the backwoods, just like you would think any hillbilly college that names themselves the ‘Mountaineers.’ 

I just hope that these guys can get here tomorrow alright, because I know for a fact that half of their football team can barely even read the name on their jerseys, let alone read a map.

It’s a shame that the only two brain cells that all these guys have left are gonna get knocked out by our wrecking crew defense tomorrow.”

The final score was Appalachian State 17, Texas A&M 14. Better luck next year, 'wrecking crew.'  

Logical Engineering in an Analogical World


On the subject of local plaques, here is one I love about the founding of Highlands, NC. It describes the story as a 'local legend,' but it makes perfect sense. If you drew the lines just as shown on the map, logic would seem to dictate that there would be a nexus point exactly where Highlands happens to be.

The only problem is that it's four thousand feet up from Savannah to Highlands, and you can avoid that problem by going through Atlanta instead. Atlanta, whose original name was 'Terminus' because so many different railroads terminated there, already existed in 1875: in fact, it was on its second incarnation. The need for the nexus point was real, real enough that even Sherman couldn't obliterate the city forever. In the physical world we inhabit, though, geography as well as math and logic must be considered. 

Here's a shot of the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands. I left in the street in front of it so you could get a sense of how steep the hills are. That's one thing in San Francisco, where the steepness is justified by the fact that there's an excellent natural harbor right there. It's another thing in Highlands, which was just never going to be a commercial hub. It is a resort, though, allowing richer people from the real terminus to escape the summer heat through the miracle of elevation.

The Rutherford Expedition

On the grounds of the Federal courthouse in Waynesville, North Carolina, stands a statue that bears this plaque:


The Rutherford Expedition was, depending on which sources you consult, either a formative frontier experience that may have been crucial to the success of the American Revolution, destroying dozens of villages and driving hundreds of Cherokee into Tennessee and Florida; or a minor and halting action that burned an empty town at Cullowhee [or Cowee -- see comments] and maybe as many as five more. 

What is clear is that it was a reprisal, though, for Cherokee raids following their decision to align with the British against the frontier settlements. Cherokee leadership decided to align with the distant British in order to drive out the proximate settlers, struck first, and lost in the resulting action. That's not a moral judgment against the Cherokee, for whom that might have made strategic sense had the British proven a reliable ally that could help them against the frontiersmen they decided to try to drive out.  The British power in the back country was not great, however, and the Cherokee found themselves having the war brought back to them by angry frontiersmen organized into irregular light horse and infantry. 

There are several other monuments in the region to this expedition. For now, at least, they aren't related to the Civil War -- when the Cherokee Nation allied with the Confederacy -- so they are not being targeted for removal.

FBI Whistleblowers: "White Supremacy" Threat Way Overblown

The President of the United States is opening a forum at the White House to discuss the danger of white supremacism, but FBI insiders are saying that the threat is already greatly overblown for political reasons. 
[These insiders] say bureau analysts and top officials are pressuring FBI agents to create domestic terrorist cases and tag people as White supremacists to meet internal metrics.

“The demand for White supremacy” coming from FBI headquarters “vastly outstrips the supply of White supremacy,” said one agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We have more people assigned to investigate White supremacists than we can actually find.”

The agent said those driving bureau policies “have already determined that White supremacy is a problem” and set agencywide policy to elevate racially motivated domestic extremism cases as priorities.

“We are sort of the lapdogs as the actual agents doing these sorts of investigations, trying to find a crime to fit otherwise First Amendment-protected activities,” he said. “If they have a Gadsden flag and they own guns and they are mean at school board meetings, that’s probably a domestic terrorist.”
The Gadsden flag is not, of course, a symbol of 'white supremacism' but of the American Revolution; more recently, it was adopted by the TEA Party as a protest against excessive American taxation.

As I've said before, the South I grew up in had occasional Klansmen appear in robes on the courthouse square to recruit and pass out literature. I haven't seen one since I was a boy. Even in the area of the country most inclined to Confederate sympathy, the Klan and its ilk are no longer welcome: haven't been in a very long time. This is wholly to the good, but it's a sea change since the days of my grandfather when they were a secret society with real power in the South. 

If that's true here, I can't imagine it's not true a fortiori everywhere else. There are white supremacist prison gangs because of the unethical way in which we operate our prisons, creating a space in which banding together by ethnicity is both necessary for physical protection (because we allow the prisons to be so dangerous that joining a racist criminal gang seems like a sensible thing to do) and not disrupted by officials (who doubtless know exactly who is in what gang, but permit it to go on). These gangs are dangerous in a few communities in which there are enough former prisoners that there's out-of-prison overlap with the prison gang; they're not a big threat to mainstream America, but insofar as they deserve police attention it should be focused on the specific problem that actually exists. 

Trying to paint the whole culture as if it were racist and wicked is the real point, though. That kind of widespread wickedness is said to require and justify widespread, and deep, control over the lives of everyone. Yet for the most part Americans have rejected all this and are determined to get along, and for the most part we do just that -- as we ought, as is right and proper, both good and very welcome as a change from the days of my grandfather. We make progress in decency in spite of our authorities' attempts to divide us and control us.

The No Justice Department

The Durham investigation has entered its terminal phases with little to show, occasioning celebration from the left. It looks like no more charges will be brought over the lies to the FISA court by the FBI, the spying on a presidential campaign, or the bending of the whole system into a corrupt servant of one political party. The process just drug everything out until it could close past the statute of limitations. 

Meanwhile Carter Page, whose name was defamed by the lies used to spy on the presidential campaign -- and himself -- is likely to receive no compensation in civil court either. The fatal flaw for him was an inspector general report that described all the FBI lies as "errors" caused by a "sloppy" process: in other words, like the Durham investigation, the system protected itself from accountability. 

Such is the best we can hope for out of the system: it is operating exactly as designed and intended. 

UPDATE: DOJ obstructed its own investigation into HRC, argues RealClearInvestigations. The investigation into Team Trump is being handled differently, with an eye towards not just prosecution but shutting down the whole organization as a political force.

UPDATE: DOJ issues subpoena to conservative group in Alabama demanding: “any draft legislation, proposed legislation, or model legislation.” This included all their communique on the subject, e.g., “any social media postings.” All such would be protected First Amendment activity.

Bounty of Summer, Promise of Fall

Pinto beans drying in the sun, with new greens started that need cooler weather for growing. 

I put up another gallon of salsa yesterday, fire roasted tomatoes, homegrown habaneros. 

Exclusive Scene from the Rings of Power

 

Good boys

You can try to ruin them, but some of them will insist on being good human beings anyway.

Jupiter in the East

All month, but especially around the 26th, Jupiter will be especially visible and clear in the eastern sky. 

House Republicans: Nobody's Keeping Election Records

It is very unlikely that a letter from House Republicans is going to produce any motion at the Justice Department, but they're trying anyway.

In the letter, first obtained by the Daily Caller, the lawmakers mention an America First Policy Institute (AFPI) report titled “National Review of Retaining Election Records from the 2020 Election,” which concluded that many of the most heavily populated jurisdictions across the country are not complying with the records retention requirement under the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

AFPI’s report states that only six of 100 of the most heavily populated counties that were contacted by AFPI for information were able to give them their actual voter files from the 2020 election as required by law. Some of the counties failed to retain the records while others did not have timestamped records going back to the 2020 election. The lawmakers were, to put it mildly, displeased.

You can't audit the results if there aren't any records of the results. This is a misdemeanor offense, but it's a Federal offense: failure to retain records is supposedly punishable by up to a year in prison and a thousand dollar fine. Yet apparently almost no jurisdictions are bothering to obey the law.

Happiness is an Activity

The Spectator article says 'a choice,' but it's not just a choice: having made the choice, you must also do the thing. It is an activity, as Aristotle says, one that produces a happy and honorable life through action.

This subject was raised here in 2006, by the way. I happen to know that because I was trying to find an old argument in the archives, but was not able to do so. I was an almost unimaginably different person in 2006, which was before I went to Iraq and before returning to the careful study of philosophy. Yet I can see a clear link in the text between who I was and who I have become. 

The Stamp Act


A new report says that Americans spend more on taxes, on average, than on food, clothing, and health care combined.

What do we get for all that money, again? Not food or clothing or health care. A military that can't win its wars and that is currently fighting a war against pronouns; a justice system that is increasingly targeting political opposition as actual criminals; an education system that turns our youth against their nation and its heritage, with a negative correlation between the cost of the system and its ability to produce people who can read and write and do mathematics; roads, I guess. Some of them are all right. Not so much around here, but the interstate system is fairly nice. The Post Office works reasonably well, but it's been privatized. 

No, what we mostly get are massive transfer payments to people who don't work. This is exactly what Aristotle warned against happening in a democracy: the people voting themselves access to other people's money. It was important that an oligarchy should operate this way, he says in the Politics; that's the only way people will put up with having no power over their situation, if you make sure they are at least made comfortable at public expense. In a democracy it is supposed to be destabilizing, as the (relatively) wealthy will come to resent it and will want to replace the system with one that protects them from being plundered. 

That raises the question, once again, of whether this is in fact in an Aristotelian sense a democracy: this is not the 'democracy versus republic' debate, but merely a question about whether this is a government in which power is widely distributed, a government of the many. Is it that, or is it now a government in which real power is concentrated among a few? If the former, this approach is destabilizing. If the latter, it's the very root of the government's stability.

How Does One Cheat at Chess?

In an article with an obscene title, it is revealed that the reigning chess grandmaster withdrew after defeat at a recent tournament. Speculation is that he thinks his opponent is cheating.

Now I can see how you could cheat at chess in a one-on-one match where your opponent had been drinking and wasn't paying very close attention to the board. Otherwise, and especially in a tournament with all eyes on the board, I think it's a game that is robustly resistant to cheating. Are you going to slip pieces onto or off of the board while no one is watching? You are not. Are you going to peer into your opponent's brain to see what they're planning? You are not. 

The speculation -- which is where the obscenity comes from -- is that maybe someone else is secretly watching the game and cuing him in on how to move. You still need someone who is better at chess than the reigning grandmaster to accomplish this, and if that person exists why wouldn't they just come win the game themselves? 

Games where cheating is possible are more likely to feature cheating, and the more you make cheating possible and convenient the more cheating you are likely to get. On which subject:
An independent panel of experts on computer systems and election security issues has concluded a lengthy investigation into the voting systems currently in place in the state of Georgia and sent recommendations to the State Election Board and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The current system primarily relies on touchscreen voting machines produced by Dominion Voting Systems. The audit must not have gone very well because they advise that the state discontinue the use of the Dominion machines and move immediately to hand-marked paper ballots. They are also recommending a much broader series of mandatory audits of the results after the initial count is concluded. These changes, they say, will not only afford greater accuracy but increased public confidence in the outcome. But at least initially, it doesn’t sound as if Raffensperger and the rest of the board are warming up to the idea. 
You don't say.

If you want public confidence in elections, you should do the things that make cheating harder -- or impossible, insofar as you are able. The more you make it easy to cheat, such as putting control of the elections on machines with invisible processes which machines are in the control of partisans to the election, the more likely it is that there will be cheating and the less confidence people will have in the election anyway. It is first nature for human beings to cheat their way to power, especially if it is easy to do and there are protections against being caught. Only a few develop their second natures -- trained Aristotelian virtues -- so highly as to overcome the first-nature tendency.

Politicians are not generally among these people. Chess grandmasters might hopefully be.

Venison Steak Pie


Inspired by the earlier discussion of venison recipes, I decided to make a great big steak pie this morning. This one features venison browned to a light sear in iron with salt and pepper, then added brown mustard and Worcestershire, then a bunch of mushrooms and onions that survived a cube steak meal earlier this week, then some leftover Guinness gravy from the same cube steak meal. To this I then added chunks of sharp Cheddar, so they would melt into gooey sections of cheese without becoming homogenous with the gravy and venison. The pie is short crust, high protein whole wheat mixed with reserved bacon grease and suet for the fat. Spring water dough, as our water comes from one of the springs here on the mountain.

A Healthy Conversation About Free Drinks

Now I've bought many drinks for others in my lifetime, but mostly these were rounds for the boys, or occasionally a girl who was there as part of comradery. These are not the free drinks that Ms. Brown wants to talk about. She wants to talk about the ones that are purchased as a sort of cheap courtship. I found the discussion somewhat astonishing, as well as a welcome reminder that getting older is not all bad because it excuses us from this sort of thing.

On the one hand, gender justice!
On one hand, accepting a drink can be a no-brainer — especially for women. In a country where female employees are paid just 89 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, why wouldn’t you take a free drink from a stranger you hardly know? “Men spend more on drinks than women because women are, a lot of the time, getting bought drinks,” says economist, influencer, and self-described “financial pop star” Haley Sacks (better known by her alias Mrs. Dow Jones). “Which I’m all for because there is a wage gap. As long as you feel comfortable, I think that’s totally fine.”
So it's women, then, who get bought drinks? These champions of human equality don't buy men drinks? 
In a VinePair study that polled dozens of subjects across the gender spectrum about their experiences buying and receiving drinks at bars, 83 percent of women and gender non-conforming respondents said they’d never bought a potential romantic interest a drink. When asked the reason, responses ranged from “drinks are expensive and I’m a girl,” to “because the patriarchy owes me” to “I hate men.”
If I'm following this discussion, 'gender non-conforming' has just been admitted to be a synonym for 'women,' and a large number of them don't buy drinks for potential romantic partners because they hate the entire opposite sex. That ought to work out well.

Lest you think this economic justice issue resolves the matter, though, there remains the injustice of the men thinking they might be buying a chance at some interest from the women accepting their free drinks. Well, "women" turns out to need more elaboration in the eyes of the author.
In a sense, accepting these drinks without reciprocating can act as a way for femme-presenting individuals to take power back.... With that in mind, a “free” drink can always come with a price — even those that haven’t been altered in any way. Some folks may see the act as a transactional one and therefore expect something in return, whether that be sex or simply prolonged chatting. “Just because you bought me a drink, I still don’t owe you a conversation,” Cockson says. “But there’s this weird pressure that sets in.”

Our poll respondents tended to agree. “It just seems to place a weird expectation — even though I know I don’t owe the person anything in return beyond a ‘thank you,’ I’m never sure if they’ll be thinking the same way,” one woman commented. “It just feels awkward to carry on a conversation with a stranger out of obligation.”
Two things that strike me immediately about this bit:

1) "Femme-presenting" sounds like it entails a different set of ethical issues, especially insofar as this is seen as being a precursor or preliminary to some sort of romantic or sexual relationship. You may not be obligated to go down the path at all, not even as far as conversation; but some of you in the 'femme-presenting' category are going have an additional set of discussions you need to have with the man from the bar somewhere along the way.

2) Carrying on awkward, obligatory conversations with people who won't go away is one of the more difficult parts of life, but strangers are the easiest variation. Wait until it's your neighbor who just loves to bend your ear for hours at a time while not leaving your front porch, or that cousin you were trying to avoid who also wants to borrow more money.

The piece goes on after this to explore the duties of bartenders towards their guests and more fretting about feminism. It does end on some sensible advice, though:
If your gut is telling you “no,” consider heeding Cockson’s advice: “Pay for your own drinks.”

Generally you can't go far wrong in life if you're figuring out how to pay your own freight. 

On the Passing of Elizabeth II

Tolkien in his later years professed that he had become, in his political philosophy, either a monarchist or an anarchist. I am obviously not inclined to monarchy. Few among us living today can even rule himself: who among us is fit to rule another, let alone all others? The British would do well to cast off the monarchy rather than to go along with the farce of King Charles III (the first of whose name got himself killed by his own people, recall, though the second did fairly well), though perhaps for them there is something in Tolkien's wish, and they might yet hope for better kings again.

Sic transit gloria mundi, but even after the pageantry is gone there is something worthy to remember about this one. On her 'Diamond Jubilee' I tried to express what it was.

Is the FBI Using the Patriot Act vs Donald Trump?

In the ongoing J6 trial of the Oath Keepers, a striking admission has come up.

The government has obtained, and of course leaked, a list of 38,000 members of the Oath Keepers. Only around 500 of these are current police, law enforcement, or politicians -- and that includes aspiring politicians. (A politician who kept his oath would be rara avis indeed.) Their lawyer was arrested this week in Texas, but will be prosecuted in D.C. in accord with the standard practice for all of this J6 business.

Of greater interest is that the warrant to search her phone was obtained via the Patriot Act, which allows the DOJ to seek such warrants from magistrates anywhere in the country, which in this case also means in DC.
Federal investigators probing the extremist group Oath Keepers on charges of seditious conspiracy last year invoked the provision that permits the government to obtain a search warrant from a U.S. magistrate judge anywhere in the country rather than one located where the search is to be executed in a domestic terrorism investigation, according to the newly unsealed court records.

The 18-page opinion revealed that in July 2021, prosecutors asked a U.S. magistrate judge in D.C., rather than one in Texas, to approve a court-authorized search of a cellphone owned by a person who appears to match the description of an attorney for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle. The lawyer was arrested last week in Texas and was with the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Emphasis added. Now one of the subjects of significant commentary since the Mar-a-Lago raid was the use of a magistrate rather than an Article III Federal judge to obtain a search warrant. The Federalist says such magistrate-issued warrants are a late 20th century practice, without support in most of American history.
The problem is that Reinhart is a so-called magistrate judge. Many commentators have focused on his personal history and political leanings, but much more significant is that he is not really a judge. 

To be precise, he is not a judge of a court of the United States. The judicial power of the United States is vested in its courts. In the exercise of this power, judges of those courts can issue search warrants. But a magistrate judge is just an assistant to a court and its judges. Not being a judge of one of the courts of the United States, he cannot constitutionally exercise the judicial power of the United States. That means he cannot issue a search warrant.

The Patriot Act does state that magistrates -- and anywhere -- can issue search warrants, and those warrants can be quite broad like the one the FBI executed here. That raises the question of whether the investigation into Trump is a "domestic terror" investigation, as the Oath Keepers are being treated as domestic terrorists and seditious conspirators. 

Trump's fundraising arm has recently received several subpoenas, indicating that the DOJ is looking into his whole organization as conspirators of some sort or other. Ty Cobb, who served under Trump, thinks the whole investigation is ultimately about January 6th (and, it should be noted, thinks Trump is guilty and should be disqualified under the 14th Amendment from seeking the Presidency). This is also coherent with Andy McCarthy's general theory that the M-a-L raid was a J6 fishing expedition. 

That's swinging for the fences, though. I guess if you hate a guy enough to impeach him twice after failing to get him with a Special Counsel, the Patriot Act and the 14th Amendment are not unthinkable escalations. Trying your political opponents as domestic terrorists is new, but as the Alien & Sedition Acts show, treating your opponents as more-or-less traitors is almost as old as the Republic. 

Best Practices for Military-Civilian Relations

For all that military leaders talk about the importance of keeping out of politics and allowing the elected civilian leadership to serve, the sight of an open letter signed by many former generals or admirals has become a standard part of our politics. This happens on both left and right, though the left is generally able to organize larger numbers. Just a brief survey of some recent ones:


So today's letter signed by multiple former Secretaries of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff is an escalation, but it is not a surprising one. The tactic is well-known and at this point well-worn.

They lay out sixteen 'best practices' for civilian control over the military, including when and how it is appropriate for the military to challenge civilian officers. I think everyone should read what they have to say. 

This is a critical topic, and one that has been much in absence of late: the Afghanistan debacle was occasioned in part by military leaders not challenging their elected leadership, but instead blithely ignoring every lesson of military strategy (along with the intelligence community lying, perhaps to itself but certainly to the rest of us, about the Taliban's evident strength). 

Civilian leaders 'have the right to be wrong' the document says, and that's true: but notice that it's true about policy. Bad strategy -- abandoning Bagram, trying to run the evacuation off of Kabul's single landing strip, ceding control of Kabul to the Taliban while attempting to evacuate (now under enemy guns and mortars) -- is not outside the military's professional duty to object. If the policy objective is 'abandon Afghanistan, even if it means abandoning American citizens,' there are still right ways and wrong ways to do that. The leadership's failure to take responsibility for this is a continuing poison in our veins.

So consider what these former top leaders have to say about the situation they presided over creating. A lot of it is good insight, even if their collective records might give you reason to doubt their commitment to the principles they advocate here.

Ouch

H/t Instapundit:



Pot Smokers for Guns

Speaking of the latter, the Biden administration's DOJ is also trying to ensure that legal medicinal marijuana patients in Florida can be disarmed -- like Catholics

Or Native Americans. No, really, that's their own argument, except they said "Indians."
In England and in America from the colonial era through the 19th century, governments regularly disarmed a variety of groups deemed dangerous. England disarmed Catholics in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Many American colonies forbade providing Indians with firearms…. During the American Revolution, several states passed laws providing for the confiscation of weapons owned by persons refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the state or the United States. States also have disarmed the mentally ill and panhandlers.

I wonder if they're planning to get back around to 'confiscation of weapons owned by persons refusing to swear an oath of allegiance' to the government.

There is a difference between a historical tradition and a thing that was actively set aside on purpose. Georgia's original charter banned three classes of persons: slaves, lawyers, and Catholics. (Two out of three ain't bad.) Clearly a lawyer who wanted to move to Georgia would today not be barred from doing so, as that charter was set aside by the Revolution and the US Constitution which allows such movement if the person is a US Citizen. Slaves, meanwhile, were clearly allowed by positive action of the legislature later; but that, too, was formally set aside by the 13th Amendment. Religious equality was enacted by the 1st Amendment. It no more makes sense to appeal to the disarming of Catholics by England in the 17th and 18th centuries than it would make sense for someone to argue that the Confederate tradition of slavery justified the current practice as if there had not been a formal, constitutional process -- backed in both cases by the successful prosecution of a war -- precisely intended to override those traditions and replace them with a charter of liberties.

A Bias Towards Unconstitutionality

In the wake of this summer's Supreme Court ruling on firearm rights, various states and the Federal government have been trying to find new ways to do what the court said they cannot do. In New York, a revised law has been declared by a judge to be 'probably unconstitutional' -- but allowed to go into force anyway.

This bias towards allowing the unconstitutional is also in evidence at the Department of Justice, where new 'rules' governing the 3D-printing of so-called 'ghost guns'  have gone into effect. 

Though manufacturers sell full kits for firearm enthusiasts, the recent rise of 3D printing has allowed tinkerers to create their untraceable lower receivers, which until recently was what legally constituted the “firearm” component of a gun.

The DOJ’s updated language, which it refers to as the “Frame or Receiver” Final Rule, tries to address this issue by explicitly stating kits capable of being converted into functioning firearms are subject to the same regulations as more traditional guns. Prior to this week’s update, realtors were relying on language written in 1968 and 1971 to determine what defined firearms.

A problem with this approach is that the 'language written in 1968' -- in the wake of the MLK assassination -- explicitly defines firearms differently from how the new rule does so. The new rule usurps the authority of Congress, having an executive office by mere internal rule-making alter the meaning of a Federal law. 

The term 'firearm' means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

You can see the problem: the only way this definition admits of parts is if there is already a 'weapon' that 'may be readily converted' into a working firearm. But a bunch of parts are not a weapon, except in that vague sense that literally any physical object can be used as a weapon. The vagueness doctrine exists for attempts to assert powers, even under actual laws and not mere administrative rules, that make it unclear what exactly is and is not banned.

It allows the frame or receiver to be regulated, but not (say) a thing that is only more-or-less shaped like a frame or receiver. For many years now, 80% complete lower receivers have been sold unregulated because they are not, in fact, receivers. The DOJ rule asserts that these just are receivers even though they cannot be used as such; but that also implies unconstitutional vagueness in the law. Why would anyone think that a thing that is 80% X is in fact X? Further, if a thing that is 80% a receiver is a receiver, what about a thing that is 79%? How do I tell the difference, as an ordinary citizen, between a 79% one and an 80% one? 

How about 70%? Two percent? Just a block of aluminum? A dumpster full of aluminum cans that might be recycled into a block of aluminum? At some point the regulation would not apply, and there's no logical reason why it should be either here or there. 

The government's position is consistent, though, in wanting people to have to fight in court every inch of the way. Draining private persons' resources while defending objectively unconstitutional laws with taxpayer money, the governments at both the state and Federal level are working hard to get away with encroaching on what is clearly improper conduct.

A Knightly Hound

A good story about a dog from the age of chivalry. 

‘Epigenetics’ gets Clearer

‘Epi-‘ is sort of a universal preposition in Greek, meaning ‘near’ or ‘next to’ or ‘around’ and the like. For a long time the field of epigenetics has been like that; it was a term that implies “we think it’s something to do with the genes, but not the genes, but it’s gotta be around there somewhere.”

Things are clearing up

Deerslayers II: The Venison

In the comments to yesterday's post, Thomas D. sensibly asks after venison recipes. This is a practical and excellent question to have asked. Thos. suggests this one, adding that he likes to make a paste of the onion on the purée setting of his food processor in order to give the food a silky texture.

Thomas asked for book recommendations as well as recipes. The very best one I know is Dressing & Cooking Wild Game: From Field to Table: Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds & Waterfowl, a product of The Complete Hunter. The material is exactly as advertised. It covers how to skin and dress an animal you've just killed if you don't happen to know, how to butcher, bone, and portion various parts, and includes many recipes that are a good start for learning how to turn it into excellent food. No fish are included, as the title indicates clearly: this is about hunting, not fishing, and even though the distinction between those arts is somewhat technical the latter has plenty of its own material to learn independently.

As for recipes, the first thing to recognize is that the deer has all the same parts as the bovine and the pig. Roughly speaking, and with some adaptations, you can do with one whatever you can do with the other. Pork shoulder makes excellent barbecue; you can barbecue beef chuck or venison shoulder with additional fat using otherwise the same techniques. Lard and suet, that being pork and beef fat respectively, are both good choices for the additional fat. Ribs can be barbecued like beef ribs, low and slow in the smoke. Smoke them at a lower temperature than usual to avoid cooking out fat for two hours, then wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and bring them to 165 degrees internally to kill parasites and bacteria.

(You will notice that all venison is to be grilled to 165 degrees internally, or else cooked at ~205-212 degrees if it is important to break down internal fibers to tenderize it. The latter process is easier to manage, as water boils at 212 F, and the temperature will not rise beyond that as long as water remains to boil: the extra energy will be used to convert liquid to steam instead of raising the heat. When you are grilling, you'll want to check regularly to be sure you don't overcook.)

The steaks come from exactly the same parts on a steer as on a buck. Your steaks will need to be cooked more thoroughly, however: 165 degrees, which is far too done for beef, in order to ensure food safety. A good marinade of red wine, red wine vinegar, and spices you like will help prevent this from drying out the steaks too much. Salt and some sort of pepper are the most important.

One thing that is different from meat that you buy at the store is that you will have all the organs to use if you want to do so. There's a great recipe for heart in the aforementioned cookbook; the stomach and such you can use for venison haggis, using due care to clean them properly before cooking and cooking them to boiling for an hour or more to ensure everything is thoroughly cooked and softened.

Much of the deer carcass will not be steaks, just as much of the steer is not. You will be left with a lot of what is usually turned into burger on a steer: possibly the chuck/shoulder, although that includes some of the best cuts of the steer for many great meals; certainly the round, or muscles of the rear end. Venison burger can be cooked like regular burgers, except that it is usefully wrapped in bacon for extra fat and cooked a bit more slowly to, again, 165 degrees internally. Salt and pepper -- I like chilies more than black pepper, but most people prefer black pepper. 

Some of this can be mechanically tenderized, either by a butcher who will turn it into "cube steak," or by yourself using a sharp knife that makes cuts across the muscle fiber. This is done at right angles, so that you are cutting across the grain first one way at about 45 degrees, then again at 90 degrees to the first cut. If there's a butcher nearby who specializes in game, he or she can run it through a machine much more quickly to accomplish approximately the same thing. Venison cube steak comes out very well. 

Perhaps the best way to cook any sort of venison is to braise it. That is a term of art that lots of cookbooks assume you will know without explanation, which is mysterious to younger people trying to learn to cook who have no idea what it might mean, so I will explain it thoroughly. To braise meat is to cook especially tougher cuts of meat in an appropriate amount of liquid -- possibly water but more wisely stock or beer, my favorite braising beer by far being Guinness -- so that it softens. Cooking is done at the low boil, as at just above 200 degrees muscle fibers and soft connective tissues like tendons begin to break down. It takes time, but the result is a very tender piece of meat as well as a broth that is enriched by the flavor of the process.

A good venison braise takes a minute to set up because there are several steps, but in the end it is fantastic. You start by taking an iron Dutch oven and getting it smoking hot. Then you add fat to the bottom -- lard or suet, but you can use a vegetable oil like avocado or even olive -- and brown the salted and peppered meat in it. (With cube steak, I sometimes like to put it in a plastic bag with some white flour as well as salt and pepper to coat it first: 'country fried' or 'chicken fried' steak, as we called it when I was young.) As soon as it is seared brown on each side, remove it and set it aside.

Next, add chopped or sliced onions, and cook them into the hot oil until they begin to brown. Then add garlic, and any sort of other vegetables you want -- potatoes, tomatoes, whatever you think you want. Cook these until they show browning signs as well. 

Now return the meat to the pot, and add your beef stock or beer or whatever you choose. I said to use "an appropriate amount," and that amount is just enough to cover it and no more. Bring it to a boil on the range, adding aromatics like sage or oregano or rosemary once it is boiling. Then transfer it, covered with the heavy iron lid, to an oven between 300-350 F for an hour or so. After this it will be ready to eat.

Braising is basically also how a crock pot works. You sacrifice the good that comes from the multiple steps in return for the relative ease of just adding everything to the crock pot and leaving it for many hours. At minimum you should brown the meat on the range before you add it to the crock pot, though, or you will lose much of the flavor. 

Another excellent recipe for venison burger is Scottish steak pies. Scotland has its own deer, and venison recipes run deep in the culture there. Any of the several excellent Scottish meat pies can substitute slow-cooked venison in a brown gravy for beef steak. The Forfar Bride ("bride-ee") is especially good because of the onion adding moisture and softness in the cooking -- Thos. idea again, but this time trapped in by the pastry. Traditionally this is short crust, but a lot of people now substitute puff pastry because it's readily available in sheets from the local grocery's frozen food section. It's easy enough either way, but the grocery option saves time and adds butter.

Additional recipes are very welcome in the comments below.

FBI Pressured Citizens to Sign Away Gun Rights

Now, just to root this discussion on the right ground, let's review the Declaration of Independence's statement of the only legitimate purpose of government.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Which goes on to add:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.... when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
So, to be very clear about what this says, the only just reason for a government to exist is to secure the natural rights of the people. A government that begins to be destructive to that end may morally be dissolved and replaced; a government that persists in a long train of abuses on the matter must morally be dissolved. It is not merely the right but also the duty of the citizen.

The FBI secretly pressured Americans into signing forms that relinquish their rights to own, purchase or even use firearms, according to a trove of internal documents and communications obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The forms were presented by the FBI to people at their homes and in other undisclosed locations... At least 15 people between 2016 and 2019 signed the secret forms, which ask signatories to declare themselves as either a “danger” to themselves or others or lacking “mental capacity adequately to contract or manage” their lives.... 
“We’re into a pre-crime, Minority Report type of world where the FBI believes it can take constitutional rights away from anyone it thinks possibly might pose a threat in the future,” said Robert Olson, GOA’s outside counsel who specializes in firearms law. 

Now, the number here is tiny: 'at least 15 people' in a field of 330,000,000. Presumably these are cases where the FBI was convinced that there was great good reason.

On the other hand, the purpose of government is to secure and not 'pressure people to sign away' their rights. At this small a number, it surely does not trigger any duty; but it has to be added to the ledger of the ways in which the government has become an enemy of, rather than the guarantor of, the natural and ancient rights of the People.  

An Escalation

 A judge has for the first time ruled that January 6th was an insurrection and on that basis removed a pro-Trump elected official from office. The office is a county commission seat, and the elected official was present on January 6th. 

The specific act of "insurrection" of which he was found guilty was misdemeanor trespass. He entered parts of the Capitol grounds and, by his own admission, led a prayer rally there. He is now barred for life from holding any office under the United States by the Constitution's 14th Amendment, assuming that this ruling withstands review. 

Danger and Parenting

A study regarding the psychology of political inclination made AVI's place last week. It draws into question what has now become a standard idea in the field, to whit, that conservatives are especially those who think the world a dangerous place, whereas liberals tend to think of it as safe. The research suggests -- as I read what I've been able to read of it -- that conservatives are instead those to whom it seems intuitively proper to read a natural order into the world, and to accept that order as basically just and acceptable. Liberals are more likely to reject both the notion that it is proper to read a natural law out of nature, and that any one that might be read out of it is either decent or acceptable.

Some anecdotal support of that can be found in this article about letting (or even forcing) children to play outside unsupervised, which many a conservative parent I've known regards as the sin qua non of good parenting. This author in fact appears to regard a protective attitude from parents as dangerous precisely because it might lead the children to become conservatives (which, I think, misstates the findings: the issue is that these political divisions are often primal, pre-political, and pre-rational, and thus not very subject to change by any sort of external influence).

You can see the effects of all this worrying in modern parenting behavior. According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, on average, parents say children should be at least 10 years old to play unsupervised in their own front yard, 12 years old to stay home alone for an hour, and 14 to be unsupervised at a public park. It also shows up in what parents teach their kids about the world: Writing in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2021, the psychologists Jeremy D. W. Clifton and Peter Meindl found that 53 percent of respondents preferred “dangerous world” beliefs for their children.

No doubt these beliefs come from the best of intentions. If you want children to be safe (and thus, happy), you should teach them that the world is dangerous—that way, they will be more vigilant and careful. But in fact, teaching them that the world is dangerous is bad for their health, happiness, and success.

Once they digest that this is not actually going to make the children into conservatives I suppose it will seem less unsafe to keep them safe. In the meantime I have known some quite progressive parents who would never dream of letting their children just wander away unsupervised into the forest with their dogs and a Buck knife, as mine used to do in the brave old days of yore. They'd think of that no more than they'd let their children ride bikes on the road, and without helmets; nor drink out of a water hose on a sunny day; nor ride in the back of a station wagon without seat belts, all piled together with the dogs as we go down the road.

Deerslayers

In an excellent account of why the establishment narrative on fascism is backwards, Lance Morrow -- apparently a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center -- gives also an account of what he takes to be the place where Trump comes apart from his supporters. Of the latter, he says: 
As for Mr. Trump’s followers, they belong to the Church of American Nostalgia. They are Norman Rockwellians, or Eisenhowerites. They regard themselves, not without reason, as the last sane Americans. You might think of them as American masculinity in exile; like James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo, living in the forest has made their manners rough.
One rarely encounters literary references to Fenimore Cooper these days. American manhood is hardly 'in exile' in the forest, though; as the reference suggests, the forest was its natal ground. American masculinity historically eats lots of venison, as indeed I do myself. (It's not clear that Fenimore Cooper was actually all that familiar with it, as Mark Twain suggested in a rather scathing review of the Leatherstocking Tales.)

He goes on: 
If there are fascists in America these days, they are apt to be found among the tribes of the left. They are Mr. Biden and his people (including the lion’s share of the media), whose opinions have, since Jan. 6, 2021, hardened into absolute faith that any party or political belief system except their own is illegitimate—impermissible, inhuman, monstrous and (a nice touch) a threat to democracy. The evolution of their overprivileged emotions—their sentimentality gone fanatic—has led them, in 2022, to embrace Mussolini’s formula: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Or against the party. (People forget, if they ever knew it, that both Hitler and Mussolini began as socialists). The state and the Democratic Party must speak and act as one, suppressing all dissent.

Yes, I suppose, on all three counts: Trump is doing something quite different from what most Americans who support him are doing; what those latter Americans are doing is aligned with the foundations and traditions of America in a sane and deeper way than almost anything else going on right now; and the left is embracing the all-inclusive, all-directing state. 

Indeed, if he misses a beat it's in failing to add that the corporations -- Facebook and Twitter especially -- are also being brought into alignment with the state's will to suppress its opponents (in light of last week's speech, one might even say 'its enemies').

The headline suggests that the regular meetings between the administration and social media were designed to suppress COVID misinformation, which might possibly be defended as necessary for public health. Yet if you read even briefly you realize that something much more sinister was going on.

Federal officials in the Biden administration secretly conspired and communicated with social media companies to censor and suppress Americans' private speech. This is revealed in a new lawsuit brought in a joint effort by The New Civil Liberties Alliance, the Attorney General of Missouri, and the Attorney General of Louisiana against the President of the United States. The suit is brought under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. The lawsuit seeks to identify among other things "all meetings with any Social-Media Platform relating to Content Modulation and/or Misinformation."

The discovery shows that there was "A recurring meeting usually entitled USG – Industry meeting, which has generally had a monthly cadence, and is between government agencies and private industry. Government participants have included CISA’s Election Security and Resilience team, DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the FBI’s foreign influence task force, the Justice Department’s national security division, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Industry participants have included Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Microsoft, Verizon Media, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the Wikimedia Foundation. The topics discussed include, but are not limited to: information sharing around elections risk...

Emphasis mine. Those aren't public health officials, they're security state operatives. They aren't aiming at public health, either: they're aiming at influencing -- at least -- elections. 

They aimed to do so via censorship and information operations targeting the United States citizenry. The first of these is unconstitutional even for private companies if they are doing so at government instruction. The second is illegal, at least for the CIA and the US military's professional information operations community. The presence of the Director of National Intelligence's people at these meetings raises big red flags.

Deer season is coming up. It's a good chance to practice some of those exiled masculine virtues, such as riflery, living off the land, and food preservation. You can tan a deer hide -- 'a buck' being the nickname for a dollar because for so long the one was approximately valued at the other -- using the brain mixed with just a little water. There is just enough brain in every mammal to tan its own hide. Lots of little things like that will be rediscovered by those who are so inclined.

Send Me

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

 Isaiah 6:8

When the Nation calls, “whom shall we send?”  A Spartan will respond, “Send Me!”

2nd Armored Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, "Spartans"

"Send Me" is also the title of a new documentary featuring former US Special Forces Operator, and Task Force Pineapple member, Tim Kennedy. Task Force Pineapple, you will recall, was a volunteer effort by some of us to rescue American citizens and allies from the collapse in Afghanistan. My own role was stateside and limited to facilitating international negotiations and trying to help set up a private airline to move refugees. Kennedy went on the ground. 

He was there to do what the US Government failed to do, then refused to do, then actively blocked attempts to do. If there were any justice, the new documentary ought to bring down the government -- and not violently or through insurrection, but by their heartfelt and proper rejection by the American people.

A US Army colonel turned away busloads of Americans, allies and orphans trying to flee Afghanistan during the chaotic evacuation of war-torn country last August, a new documentary claims....

They were met by an unidentified official from the 82nd Airborne Division who would not let the buses through.

“There was a colonel that who came out and wanted to show that essentially he was the one that could decide whether or not somebody could get on a plane or not,” said a member of the team whose identity was concealed by the documentary’s producers.

The colonel made the call to ‘put everybody back out,” MMA fighter turned-solider Tim Kennedy said.

“‘I don’t care who they are, they get back on those buses and those buses go back into Kabul,'” he said, according to Kennedy — even after the team explained their bags had been screened and were already in the airport.

The colonel could not be pleaded with, and would not even make an exception for people with US passports because he didn’t know “if that’s fake or not,” the anonymous team member recalled.

He then ordered the refugees back into the bus and off the base at gunpoint, where they would pass through a vengeful Taliban security force.

No one in the military or the administration has paid any price for this betrayal of duty, of country, and of countrymen. Fourteen thousand Americans were abandoned; only God knows how many finally made it out. 

Homemade Chipotle


The summer garden bounty now includes jalapeño as well as tomato. Since I have a smoker and a dehydrator, I decided to make my own chipotle chilies. These are, of course, merely smoked jalapeños. Given the much higher ambient humidity here, I finish them in the dehydrator for preservation. 


These combine with fire roasted tomatoes to make a fine salsa. Three jars of it are pictured at the top.