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. 

Better precedent

Speaking of the bad precedent we set with unjustified mask policies, this Powerline article pretty much nails the legal frailty of the CDC mandate. There are actually rules for how even benign and omniscient federal agencies can impose mandates, which the CDC refused to follow.

Congress delegated certain powers to CDC under the 1944 Public Health Services Act, 42 U.S.C. § 246(a), including the power to impose emergency "sanitation" requirements. U.S. District Court Kathryn Mizelle found that masks did not qualify as emergency "sanitation,
even assuming that the CDC was substantively correct that masks, if imposed legally, would slow COVID transmission. (A big "if," but she gave it to them.) Sanitation normally refers to things like disinfection of premises or euthanizing infected herds. These are precautionary measures that must be implemented immediately if they are to have effect. They are not comparable to masking the entire human population for two years. Federal nannies typically experience difficulty understanding the difference between a long-term situation that calls for considered legal action and an emergency that allows them to throw the rule book on the fire. You need an emergency measure? OK, impose it very briefly while you run the traps on the usual legal requirements for an extension.

Supposing for argument's sake that a case can be made to mask the entire human population for two years, there's a process for that, too. It includes a proposed regulation followed by a public notice and comment period. The CDC skipped this step entirely, employing the perfunctory defense that a public review would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Why? Because we said so. The CDC merely recited the statutory language, except to make the extraordinary argument that public review would be futile because the CDC's mind was already made up. "Shut up, they explained."

It takes chutzpah to claim that one's mind is so made up that it would be pointless to discuss the issue, while failing to articulate the reasoning when hauled into court over it. I look forward to November. May these people be banished from power for a long, long time.

The unmasking

Masks are a touchy subject, and when I elect to post about the statistical evidence about the efficacy of any COVID strategy, I hesitate to tread on the sore spots felt by people who've lost friends to COVID. I'm thinking especially of AVI here. Nevertheless, I'm linking to this Powerline article because, if the chart is valid at all, it strikes me as powerful evidence that mask mandates were a hugely misguided strategy. Naturally anyone who wants to mask should do so, but we did unnecessary damage to our culture and our country by imposing masks on the unconvinced.
It would have been nice if mask mandates had worked to lessen the toll of an ugly disease, but wishing don't make it so. It may even be the case that masks might have worked if the public had implemented them more effectively, but even if that was possible, mandates clearly weren't the tool to make it happen. Genuinely convincing people of the efficacy of masks might conceivably have made the public employ them in a way that might have worked, though we'll never know now. In any case, imposing the mandates on the unwilling made the job of convincing people otherwise at least less probable, if not downright impossible. We squandered credibility that we may regret having lost in some future crisis. We also set some horrible political precedents that I believe the most ardent mask proponents will live to regret.

Algorithms and Heuristics

Judging solely by the heuristic that she has dyed her hair light blue into middle age, I assume that Dr. Cathy O'Neil and I don't share many opinions in common. However, her new work on the harm caused by social media algorithms strikes me as correct and well-considered.

What, by your own understanding, constitutes shame? Is it universal?

It’s universal. But shaming always happens with respect to a norm. And those norms aren’t necessarily universal. Shame is a social thing that happens in the context of feeling like you’re unworthy and you’ll be unlovable by your community....

Do algorithms target shame, or just anything that is popular?

I think algorithms are optimised to service that which will arouse us the most. That usually means outraging us so we perform shame. In our filter bubble, our in-group, the algorithm serves to us the most outrageous thing that some other filter bubble has managed to arrive at, so we have the opportunity to be righteous and lob shame on to that other group, and to create this shame spiral.

That's a nice insight. Social media algorithms do two things, then: first, they identify by our likes and engagement how to aggregate us into online communities of norms; then, they pit those communities against each other by identifying the most egregious violations of one community's norms by another community (which is not, by its own norms, doing anything wrong). 

The result is an online society that is tearing itself apart, screaming at each other all the time. If you actually go out into physical America, it's a nice place full of nice people. If they disagree with each other, they manage to live side-by-side by simply living and letting-live. Online, though, we are driven by the social media companies into intense, daily conflict that is profitable for them because it maximizes page views and advertising revenue -- and, by driving hotter and more frequent engagement, also helps them develop deeper pictures of our individual and communal likes and dislikes. 

It is, in other words, a grave threat to the stability of this and any nation with a substantial online aspect.

A useful comparison and contrast is provided by the current conflict over Libs of TikTok, which is a meta social media aggregator: it lives on Twitter, but curates videos from TikTok. As Mark Hemingway points out, those doxing the curator in order to attack her don't actually grapple with the content she has been curating. They just assume it is bigoted by nature, and go after her for it. 

The comparison lies in the fact that both she and Twitter are attempting to drive conflict within society by pointing out ways in which other parts of society violate the norms of her part. The contrast is that this is being done by a human being who is actually watching and considering the videos, and pushing out those that point to potentially serious issues that need addressing -- especially in terms of how children are being exposed to intense sexualities in public school, and at young ages. Living and letting-live is a good thing, but the public school aspect especially means that this is an area of common concern where commonly-acceptable standards are needed. Confer also Tex's linked powerful and disturbing essay from yesterday on the importance of protecting especially female children but also children and women in general from sexual violence: it isn't just bigotry, but a defense against predation.

Some of this stuff is necessary in a society that has very different norms embedded in its different parts, but which has to learn to live together. Yet the algorithmic violence, artificial and encouraged so that these corporations can profit off the strife they build up, is causing unnecessary and intense harm to us all. 

Beauty Brings us Closer to God

...and this is particularly beautiful and of the season- I wish it were longer, but their primary job is education.  Perhaps if we're lucky, they'll find a way to make some proper recordings.

All Things Censored

When we lived in China more than twenty years ago, I used to punish bad students by making them stand up and sing their national anthem. Being singled out and made a display was the punishment; I picked the anthem because I figured they couldn’t get in trouble for singing it. 

Apparently that has changed

Particularly bold students would try to defy me by singing some live song or something instead. They thought I couldn’t tell, which would have been true except for the reaction of the other students. I couldn’t have cared less, though. 

Speaking the truth

There's a new genre of "how I transformed from a leftist to a conservative" stories, all fascinating, but this is one of the most harrowing and thoughtful I've read.
Because of my experiences, and the newly fashionable denial of reality being promoted by progressives, I find myself sitting with the politically homeless. For now, we are all retreating to old-fashioned liberalism with unlikely new friends—an exodus to a land none of us can see. This divergent group of progressive dissenters won’t find a land flowing with milk and honey, but we might find a place to speak the truth, to cling to those who belong to us, and protect the vulnerable. I’m not sure there is any higher purpose to politics anyway.


Some reflections on the divine consciousness on Easter, inspired by a pair of posts by AVI.

What was it like for God to look down upon his son on the cross? The short answer that we get from theology is that it is impossible to know because of the limitations of the human mind: we can say some things about it, but we can't experience it. The knowledge of God (here is Aquinas) is perfect, and it extends to all things that follow from his activity -- including the activity of creation. However (see article 7), God does not know things discursively, i.e., as we do via one thought following from another. God apprehends the whole at once, including all of time. (There is a whole lot more to say here, if anyone is interested and wants to ask questions about it.) 

So teaches the theology of the Catholic Church, but also of the Aristotelian branches of Judaism and Islam. Specific to Easter, then, what was it like for God to look upon the cross? Not anything like what it would be for any of us. The point of the Incarnation may have been, then, to allow an aspect of God to experience this mode of mind that -- theologians think -- is not normally available to him. 

But it was not God the Father, but Jesus, who went to Hell. Still too, there, Jesus did not go to Hell as any of us might if condemned to it: Jesus went as master and harrier, and with all the keys. 

These experiences are therefore not like our experiences. They are God's own adventures, unique to himself, which we can observe but in which we cannot readily partake. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but this thing at least has not been given. Our imaginations are inadequate to grasping the mystery. 

Happy Easter -- or Passover, if any of you are Jewish; or Ramadan, as it happens to be, if any of you are Muslim. I'm not aware of any, but I bid welcome to all people of honor and good will.