Black Flag Canning

There’s nothing more anarchist than growing your own food and putting it up. Those kids in the city think they’re fighting the power, but they can’t even eat without those trucks we were just talking about. 

You want to be free, there’s a lot of work to do. On the upside, you’re free; and the chow is better too.

Stupid or Evil?

Our regular game continues. On the one hand, the Census Bureau asks a lot of intrusive questions they aren’t really entitled to know about, but which Congress has invested them with legal power to demand. On the other, this would be a first pass at trying to identify handguns purchased privately that the Feds couldn’t track using their background check system (which the administrative state wildly abuses to try to construct a functional registry in defiance of Congress’ laws).

Predictive Analysis

James links to a piece that suggests that thinking hard wears you out because it produces high levels of toxic substances.
Their studies, reported in Current Biology on August 11, show that when intense cognitive work is prolonged for several hours, it causes potentially toxic byproducts to build up in the part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. This in turn alters your control over decisions, so you shift toward low-cost actions requiring no effort or waiting as cognitive fatigue sets in, the researchers explain.  

“Influential theories suggested that fatigue is a sort of illusion cooked up by the brain to make us stop whatever we are doing and turn to a more gratifying activity,” says Mathias Pessiglione of Pitié-Salpêtrière University in Paris, France. “But our findings show that cognitive work results in a true functional alteration—accumulation of noxious substances—so fatigue would indeed be a signal that makes us stop working but for a different purpose: to preserve the integrity of brain functioning.”

I'll wager that further study eventually uncovers that low levels of alcohol consumption tend to dissolve and clear these toxic products, allowing the brain to continue hard work for longer. This explains why creative geniuses are often inclined to drinking at low levels but for long periods of the day; many of them, like Winston Churchill, prove to be quite heavy drinkers eventually. 

This feature of human nature is well enough known to have drawn satire.

Science will catch up.

Gun Control for Nail Guns

Allegedly a January 6 character attacked an FBI field office, attempting I gather to use a nail gun to penetrate the bulletproof glass. I kind of see why he might have thought that would work, but it's bad tactics for a number of reasons I won't go into here in order not to be thought to be trying to improve tactical approaches to violent attacks on the government. 

Still, it makes me wonder if we'll now see gun control attempts aimed at nail guns. It's a billion-dollar annual market, nail guns. They're so useful for all kinds of necessary construction that I wonder if the government would even try to restrict such a thing.

In that way it reminds me of the Nice, France jihadist truck attack that murdered many people. It was a 19-ton truck, which turned out to be much more effective than small arms at murdering a lot of people quickly. There was briefly talk about banning them from urban centers, but we all knew it wouldn't happen because modern cities can't live without these trucks. Cities absolutely depend on big trucks bringing them food and other basic goods every single day. You can't ban them.

This is also why Canada last year, facing the truckers' revolt, resorted to strictly fascist and lawless practices to try to suppress it. It terrified them because it is literally something they can't live without, yet do not control. 

I don't know if nail guns will prove to fall into that category, but it will be interesting to see.

Cut the FBI some slack

Joining the girl's club

The frequent news lately of men joining women's organizations inspired me to post Townes Van Zandt's classic "Fraternity Blues":

Historians Warn Biden: Democracy Teetering

This is the least helpful piece that the journalists could have easily written about this, and the most flattering thing I have ever read about Joe Biden.
President Biden paused last week, during one of the busiest stretches of his presidency, for a nearly two-hour private history lesson from a group of academics who raised alarms about the dire condition of democracy at home and abroad.

The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance[.]

What I would love to have heard is exactly how this 'Socratic dialogue' went: what arguments were made, what counterarguments (if any), which historians were on what side and what they thought specifically. Instead we get "Comparisons were made...." but not by whom or what exactly the comparisons were, other than vaguely that they were to the 1860 period around Lincoln's election and the pre-WWII fascist period.

We do eventually get a list of attendees, from which much can be extrapolated: 

Biden’s occasional speechwriter Jon Meacham, journalist Anne Applebaum, Princeton professor Sean Wilentz, University of Virginia historian Allida Black and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. White House senior adviser Anita Dunn and head speechwriter Vinay Reddy also sat at the table.

That doesn't sound like a Socratic dialogue, except insofar as you mean some of those conversations in which Socrates' interlocutor just says, "Yes, Socrates," and "You're right, Socrates" all through the thing. 

What we are apparently meant to take away from this is less an understanding of the debate -- if it was a debate -- and more an appreciation that Biden is an unusually intelligent president who is capable of carrying on a lengthy discussion with intellectual experts on the subject. Also, that he is more likely than other presidents (especially, of course, Trump) to take time to consult The Wise about his course -- though while always maintaining control and direction, of course.

Democrats broadly expect the same ideas will anchor Biden’s reelection campaign, if he decides to move forward with one, especially if Trump is his opponent again.

Biden has continued to bring up such themes in his public speeches, most recently in a July address to a law enforcement group, where he criticized Trump for taking no immediate action as the rioters he had inspired attacked the U.S. Capitol...

“You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy,” Biden told the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. “You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-American.”

News to General Washington, I suppose. But he was not invited, no more than Jefferson nor Patrick Henry.

You don't have to go back that far, either. His own President Obama backed insurrections in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere precisely on the theory that it was pro-democracy to do so. They took groups off the State Department's terrorist list -- especially in Libya, where they still remain in the warring faction calling itself the 'Government of National Accord,' which name is an obvious lie given the continuing civil war. This collection of allegedly pro-democracy insurgencies was called the Arab Spring, and it was a monumental failure; but I don't get the sense that he is rejecting that model based on reflection on the history. For one thing, he has made no acknowledgement of the unwisdom of his predecessor and former boss, nor his participation in those efforts.

The Right can meme

Suzi Quatro

In one of those internet rabbit holes one sometimes explores, I discovered that Joan Jett in her initial fame as a member of the Runaways described herself as idolizing Suzi Quatro. Now Joan Jett I have known of since I was a youth myself, but I had never heard of Suzi Quatro

Well, she's no Joan Jett, but everything has to start somewhere. For whatever role she played in making Joan Jett and the Blackhearts happen, I am grateful. 

"Restoring the Right to Keep and Bear Arms"

This is the title of David Kopel's latest academic paper (h/t InstaPundit). I'm reading it this morning, and it's quite interesting. My own view of the right to keep and bear arms, and of the Second Amendment, is chiefly philosophical; Kopel understands the legal history quite precisely, having participated in much of it in the last few decades. 
Starting in 1989, the Court began occasionally to take cases that vindicated the rights of gun owners—but always on grounds other than the Second Amendment.4 One such case was 1997’s Printz v. United States. Back in 1993, Congress had enacted a statute ordering local law enforcement officials to carry out background checks on handgun buyers. Sheriffs around the nation sued, arguing that Congress had no power to dragoon local officials into enforcing congressional statutes. If Congress wanted background checks, it could hire federal employees to conduct the checks.

By 5-4, the Supreme Court agreed, with Justice Thomas joining Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion. While Printz was about federalism, not the Second Amendment, Justice Thomas wrote a briefing concurring opinion to point out the Second Amendment issue. He was dubious that the 1993 statute was compliant with the Second Amendment.... he wrote: “Perhaps, at some future date, this Court will have the opportunity to determine whether Justice Story was correct when he wrote that the right to bear arms ‘has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic.’”

In those days there was a strong sense in the establishment that the Second Amendment was like the Ninth or Tenth, something that had been voided by the silent artillery of time. It took decades of disciplined pursuit of good arguments and the developing of thinkers who would rise to be lawyers, judges, and yes philosophers, to restore it to a right that the nation's courts take seriously and apply vigorously.  

That work must continue. As he points out, even a SCOTUS victory does not guarantee that other judges will undermine the decision. This violates their oaths, but they did it anyway:

Most of the lower federal courts adopted the test that Justice Stephen Breyer had proposed in his dissent in Heller, and which had specifically been repudiated by the Heller majority. 

Likewise there was a SCOTUS majority, it turns out, for not taking any gun cases until Ginsberg's death and replacement. Roberts was against it too.

By the end there is a useful meditation on what limits to the Second Amendment may still be enacted under the current decision, and which sorts may not be.

It's All in Your Imagination

People love to write these stories; Glenn Reynolds likes to say that when Republicans screw up, that's the story, but when Democrats do it's the Republican reaction that is the story. What's interesting to me is the intrusion into ostensible straight-news of editorial commentary.
Extremist organizers have tried to hold on to the momentum they built in recent years by finding big-tent causes disparate factions could rally around, such as opposition to pandemic restrictions, “Stop the Steal” election denial, or an imagined socialist “indoctrination” of schoolchildren. 
It's a weird line to walk: "these extremists have millions of followers." How extreme can you be if six million people agree with you enough to watch your podcast every day? I don't, myself, watch "Louder with Crowder," because it's not my kind of thing. But I don't have six million followers; I don't have a thousand. My way of approaching things is far less mainstream (and consequently more extreme if 'extremity' means 'far from the mainstream') than his.  He's doing what lots of other people do successfully: raising the drama level as a way to gain attention. It works because lots of people, ordinary people, like that approach. Heck, this very piece is an example of trying to do the same thing from the left.
An immediate concern is the safety of the federal judge in Florida who approved the search warrant. Once his name made its way to right-wing forums, threats and conspiracy theories soon followed. Online pro-Trump groups spread his contact information and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the judge’s official page was no longer accessible on the court’s website.
That's unprecedented, except by Jane's Revenge doing the same thing to the Supreme Court's right wing justices, who now have loud angry protests outside their homes more or less daily.
In mainstream GOP quarters, extremism trackers say, the nudges toward violence are more subtle, with statements delegitimizing the government as a “police state” or a “banana republic” that must be opposed, starting with the dismantling of federal agencies.
That's a mainstream view now? Good to hear.
Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted “DEFUND THE FBI!!” She added an image of an upside-down U.S. flag, which many on the right have embraced as a symbol of the nation in distress.
US Federal Law defines the upside-down flag as a dire distress symbol, but ok. (§8a) At least she's not burning it, like her counterparts on the other side.
A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that about 1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified, the largest share to feel that way in more than two decades.
As we have discussed here before, there is no way of reading of the Declaration of Independence without outright rejecting it that does not accept that violence against the government is sometimes justified. The opening sections are a philosophical defense of the idea that citizens can have the right, and occasionally the duty, to set aside a government and replace it with a better one.

By all means temper your rhetoric and think things through. Open your eyes, though: this isn't a one-sided thing, and distrust of this process can be rational and considered as well.

Jury Acquits Jarheads MC Killer of all Charges

Three years ago, a group of Jarheads Motorcycle Club members were struck by a truck, killing seven of them. Yesterday the man who killed them was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers. [The NYT wrongly describes the Jarheads MC as a group of "ex-Marines," which is wrong. They were former Marines. "Ex-Marine" generally refers to someone who was discharged other than honorably.]

It sounds like witness statements differed so substantially that there was room for reasonable doubt, which is the legal standard for acquittal. However, there was also a substantial assist from the judge: 

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board released in December 2020 found that on the day of the crash, Mr. Zhukovskyy had been “impaired by several drugs,” including heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. He was working for Westfield Transport, a trucking company, at the time and was driving to Albany, N.Y., and Gorham, according to court records.

Mr. Zhukovskyy also had a suspended license in Connecticut, which should have led the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts to revoke his license, the report said....

Last week, Judge Peter H. Bornstein of Superior Court dismissed eight charges that were related to Mr. Zhukovskyy’s drug and alcohol intake at the time of the crash, saying in court that “there is simply insufficient evidence from which a jury can find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was impaired to a degree.”

If the jury found that he was driving while impaired, then the other counts would have been easy to convict upon. Since they were ordered not to consider that, and had only widely different witness statements to go upon, this result followed.

Rendering Honors

Today in Jackson County they are laying to rest a senior deputy, Sean Bryson, who died after a lengthy illness. There was a special detail to convey his body from Raleigh back to Jackson County for interment. I am told that public safety units, especially police but also fire and rescue, escorted the detail from the time it entered their county  until they handed it off to the next escort at the next county line. 

My son and I did not know him, so we are holding down our fire district so that the others who did could go and participate. This could have gone badly -- it's been a whirlwind few days here, with two structure fires over the last couple of days and a helicopter medivac this morning. Fortunately so far the funeral escort period has been quiet; let's hope it continues.

It is almost six years to the day since we had such a detail for my father. I was not then a firefighter; that came after, during the pandemic. Honor holds the world together. As Aristotle tells us, honor is the guide that shows even the virtuous how to live in the best and highest way.

This Is Fine


And today's award for uncanny prescience goes to Joy Pullman, who this morning published the following:

UPDATES: 8/9/22

by Alan Dershowitz

... it is now up to the Justice Department and the FBI to justify their actions to the American public. They must explain why a different standard appears to have been applied to Democrats such as Clinton and Berger than to Republicans such as Trump and many of his associates.

For an All-Politics View

For an Alt-Reality View

Fire at High Hampton

High Hampton is the name of a mountain above what is charmingly called 'the Cashiers Valley,' which is in fact atop a plateau on the Continental Divide. Just below the mountain is the location of a century-old resort, golf, and country club. Last night their clubhouse caught fire and burned, and this morning right about dawn we were sent as backup to the Glenville-Cashiers Fire Department which needed relief. 

The Fire Marshal came, and there will definitely be trouble about this one. For the most part, fires in this rural county are fought with tanker trucks because there is no such thing as a sewer or water system. In my fire district, we pull our water from free-flowing creeks and rivers in the Nantahala National Forest, or else from Bear or Wolf lake. Other places have different water points, but what nobody has are hydrants you can hook into. Nobody except High Hampton, which installed them as part of their bid to get better prices on insurance. Only last night the hydrants didn't work, and it proves to be because the resort shut them off. The hopeful explanation is that this was in order to increase water pressure to the hotel and homes in the community, as there has been less rain than usual (though it is pouring right now). The explanation that the insurance company is going to want to forward is that they were shut down on purpose to keep firefighters from saving this expensive building. 

I of course do not know the truth of such matters. I will say that the resort management were gracious hosts to the firefighting community. This was the first fire I have ever fought that was catered. They brought us large canisters of coffee, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, likewise fresh breakfast sandwiches -- buttered Texas toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, and cheese -- and lots of water and Gatorade. I didn't eat any cookies, but they looked delicious. Neither did I drink any coffee, as it was adequately warm fighting the fire in the August sun, but I was grateful for the water. 

Tragically during the mop-up I uncovered the remnants of the beer fridge, in which at least a thousand perfectly good beers were destroyed and reduced to steam. I'm told the tennis balls survived very well in their pressurized containers, however. Fortunately the fire appears to have harmed no human beings, nor any animals either as far as we could tell.