Getting Pretty on High

 The Devil’s Courthouse in autumnal glory. 

Proper Child Rearing

I don't know how to embed twitter videos here, so here's a link to America's youngest Roman legionnaires. (H/t Ace's Overnight Thread on Twitter)

BB: Californians Move to Texas


Relaxing Neighbors

The mother was just out of frame. These little fellows are here most evenings. The sign you can barely make out behind them reads, “NO HUNTING,” which may partly explain their comfort on my land. I have enforced that rule since moving here. Even the wildlife may have picked up on it. 

Big guy

This fellow is probably about 11 feet long. A neighbor snapped that picture from the local beach road, probably about 30 feet away. We'd seen him at that location on the same day.

Weaving and Power

Archaeologist Michèle Hayeur Smith at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has discovered that Viking women weaved a highly standardized cloth valued as a currency in Iceland in the Viking era....

"Textiles and what women made were as critical as hunting, building houses, and power struggles," Hayeur Smith said... Smith has a fashion degree in Paris and has focused on Viking women's cloth during her Ph.D. studies at Glasgow University in the 1990s. 

This is not exactly a groundbreaking discovery, as the role of women in producing woven cloth was hardly shrouded in mystery. Rather, it is documented extensively in sagas, histories, epics, even mythology -- think of the Norns weaving fate.

She is putting the cart before the horse, though, in claiming that weaving gave women power in Viking society. Women in ancient Greece were extremely talented weavers too. They didn't parlay that into power in their society; in fact, it was one of the qualities that made even aristocratic women sought-after slaves. The fear of the Trojan women in the Iliad is that their husbands and sons will be killed, but that they will spend the rest of their lives weaving for a Greek master. 

Why didn't they just go on strike? The idea of women striking in other ways occurred to the Greeks. Their skills were highly valuable: arguably quality cloth was one of the main forms of wealth produced in the ancient and medieval worlds. 

Fear of violence, I suppose. So why were free Viking women also free of violence? The laws of the North punished any transgression against them especially harshly -- as did the culture. In Njals Saga, Gunnar's wife Hallgerður rebukes her husband's having struck her by refusing to braid some of her hair into a bowstring that might have saved him from an attack. He accepted this even though it meant his death. 

No, the cart goes after the horse. Women in the North were treated with a kind of rough equality and much greater respect than in the south, even though they both could perform excellent weaving. The mastery of the craft did not drive the respect and equality: the respect and equality came first.

Yeah, Us Too, Kids

The Intercept has an investigative journalism piece about the CIA's, and Russia's, failures in Ukraine. I was struck by this explanation for Russian combat inefficiency: 
Additionally, Putin imposed an invasion plan on the Russian military that was impossible to achieve, one current U.S. official argued. “You can’t really separate out the issue of Russian military competency from the fact that they were shackled to an impossible plan, which led to poor military preparation,” the official said.
Let's make some slight substitutions to that.
Additionally, [the Biden administration] imposed an [Afghanistan withdrawal] plan on the [American] military that was impossible to achieve... “You can’t really separate out the issue of [American] military competency from the fact that they were shackled to an impossible plan, which led to poor military preparation[.]"

Ultimately the military leadership in both places is corrupted by their proximity to power, and their refusal to take the professional hit that would come from resigning in protest rather than executing terrible orders. I don't know that the VDV is nearly as good as the 82nd Airborne, but neither of them can execute until the corruption problem is fixed, because the corruption problem handcuffs the military to an incompetence problem. Elected leadership controlling the military's policy may make good sense, but strategy, operations, and tactics should be left to the professionals. 

Some 2nd Amendment Links

The law in NY that was allowed to go into effect even though it was unconstitutional has now been partly halted, for being unconstitutional.

Support for red flag laws turns into opposition to red flags once people are told what red flag laws actually entail.

FBI data on active shooters is massively flawed, argues John Lott's newest research: in non-gun-free zones, 50% of active shootings are stopped by lawfully armed citizens. Including all of America, the number is 34%. The FBI put it at four percent.


Forbes has taken up with something called the "National Voter Education Week Steering Committee." Nothing called a "steering committee" steers otherwise than to the left.
In a poll taken last November, 77% of Americans said they consider their employer the most trusted institution in their lives - ahead of the government and media sources. Consumers are prioritizing socially responsible businesses. The upshot: Corporate America has an unprecedented opportunity to support civic engagement in the United States. Voter education specifically provides a unique space for businesses to support their communities’ civic health, and strengthen their relationships with customers and employees in the process.
If I am reading that right the idea this: having destroyed faith in government and media institutions, the 'steering committee' would like to capture another institution in which you still might have some faith and use that to try to 'steer' you instead. Towards 'socially responsible' things, of course.
Of course, voter education isn’t the only avenue through which businesses can demonstrate values that align with younger voters. America’s youngest generations are the most diverse in the country’s history and care deeply about racial justice. Businesses can also stand more broadly for civic values and practices - specifically in defense against rising threats to democracy.
Great, just what we needed. Thanks Forbes -- and the long list of activist organizations, printed at the bottom of the article -- for trying to bring coerced conformity with your politics into one more area of our lives.

Finding Academic Papers

The old cyberpunk motto from the late 70s/early 80s was 'information wants to be free.' The internet's promise was that it would bring much of human knowledge to everyone. In some ways that promise has been fulfilled -- Project Gutenberg, for example. Yet the twin problems of political/tribal censorship and gatekeeping prevent a lot of knowledge from being accessible.

The problem in academia is that publishing is necessary for a successful career, and the journals with the most prestigious names are not open-source. Academics will generally be more than happy to share their work with you if you can find them and ask for a copy. However, if they want to be successful they have no choice but to try to publish it in a journal that is very likely to be behind gates. This system is terribly corrupt, to my way of thinking: young scholars toil for free, are paid nothing even once they get accepted, and the journals profit off their work by selling it at exorbitant prices to academic universities, where the people cannot read it. My own work is nearly always published in the open sources, which means that I will never be hired by an academic department; but it also means that anyone, anywhere can read it for free.

Here is a list of several ways of getting at academic papers you may be interested in, with a summary of just how legal each method is for anyone concerned about that. To summarize:
How to access papers for free 

1. Sci-Hub
2. Unpaywall
3. Open Access Button
4. Paper Panda
5. 12ft ladder

If you are like me, and occasionally see a story about a paper you'd like to examine for yourself, this may be useful to you. 

The Glories of October

October is my favorite month of the year. The color has only just begun to appear here, and is very far from its eventual glory. The riding weather remains excellent in spite of the sudden drop in temperature following the equinox. My motorcycle is currently in need of a new rear tire -- I noticed cloth showing through on Monday -- but I hope to have it back up and running by Saturday once the new tire is delivered. 

This month contains the nicest weather of the year except for arguably a similar period in the spring. It has the glorious color absent in the spring. It has my birthday and my wife's, Halloween, and all the pleasures of fall. If I'm posting a little less often, it is chiefly because I am out in the weather as much as I can get away from my desk.

In the smoker: Chuck Roast for Carne Asada, Beef Ribs, and some last summer Poblanos being Converted into Anchos

Goodbye, Loretta Lynn

Another gone home. 

UPDATE: Any Loretta Lynn fans might find my choice of songs surprising. She had 14 songs banned from the radio, often for raising feminist perspectives in 1960s country music; and she was the artist of the year in 1972, the first time a woman ever was. 

This song, by contrast, is just as she describes it, laughing: "a silly song." I've always liked it, though. It is both playful and illuminating. I'm struck by the way the female she is playing keeps saying things like, "Do what you want, I don't care," though in fact she obviously does care; indeed, she is the one who wants it. It proves that the boy 'doesn't know why we're here,' and is still trying to play Tom-Sawyer tricks to get the attention of a young woman whose attention he already has.

You rarely see those aspects of romance successfully portrayed in a song, and here in a way in which the inevitable miscommunication leaves them still friendly and romantic. I think it's a nice piece, and she and Conway Twitty are clearly having fun with each other singing it.

A Friend Indeed

An actual amicus brief before the Supreme Court, by The Onion.

A Lonely Life

The [University of Georgia's] comparative literature, English, history, religion and sociology departments do not have any Republicans teaching their students. The classics, geography and philosophy departments each have one Republican professor...

Actually I know that guy, and he isn't lonely:  he is one of the few -- only? -- professors in that department to have a complete and flourishing family life, a religious community, as well as many professional friends and relationships. He is universally beloved even eventually by his students, to whom he is a terrifying master during doctoral research. 

Artist's Representation of UGA's Sole Republican Philosopher

So Why Haven't You?

Whoever writes these things for Joe has a great opening line.
My dad used to say, “Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

And here’s the deal: Democrats want to codify Roe. Republicans want a national ban on abortion. The choice is clear.

I don't know that it's clear that "Republicans" want a national ban on abortion, although Lindsey Graham claims that he does -- claims, I say, since he proposed it knowing that he had nowhere near the votes to effectuate it. I have noticed that Republican politicians frequently propose doing things right up until they have the votes to do them, at which point they suddenly don't manage it -- repealing Obamacare, say, which they ran on for years and years until they had to have McCain defect at the last minute to avoid actually doing it.

But isn't that also true now of Democrats? If "Democrats want to codify Roe," what's stopping it from happening? Democratic politicians have 51 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and the Presidency. Republicans in the Senate, if anything, seem to be hedging in favor of at least a federalist approach to abortion rather than daring to support anything like a ban. Maybe one could get a few of them to overcome a filibuster; or otherwise, set the filibuster aside on abortion issues. 

They aren't any of them serious about this stuff, I begin to think. It's just a way of keeping people divided and fired up, and keeping the donations rolling in.