Friday Night Concert


Clown World

 New tune from Remy

Bigger Idiots than Usual

Two morons from an organization called "Just Stop Oil" attempted to destroy a Van Gogh painting of sunflowers. Well, sunflower oil is a thing, I guess. Destroying an oil painting of an oil-producing plant must have seemed like it was in their lane.

Their minds don't seem to work very well in general:
She went on to say: "The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil prices.

"Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can't even afford to heat a tin of soup."

She started to add "meanwhile, crops are failing..." before a gallery security guard arrived and moved onlookers away and the clip comes to an end.....

Ms Holland, from Newcastle, told a reporter: "UK families will be forced to choose between heating or eating this winter, as fossil fuel companies reap record profits. But the cost of oil and gas isn't limited to our bills.

"Somalia is now facing an apocalyptic famine, caused by drought and fuelled by the climate crisis.

"Millions are being forced to move and tens of thousands face starvation.

"This is the future we choose for ourselves if we push for new oil and gas."

Ms Plummer, from London, said: "Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?

"The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels-everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold hungry families-they can't even afford to heat a tin of soup.

While it is true that oil prices are part of the cost of living, the relationship is almost inverse from the one she imagines. If you want to help feed more people, or help poor people afford food, reducing the transport costs is one of the best ways you can do it. If you want crops not to fail, fertilizer is part of the answer -- and fertilizer needs to be transported too. On a small farm with a horse, you can do that with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, but there are limits to that production model.

Apparently destroying works of art is their new thing, though:

Cake has previously been smeared across the Mona Lisa in Paris while other activists have glued their hands to masterpieces by Botticelli and Boccioni.

While Two Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia last weekend after gluing themselves to the 1951 Picasso painting Massacre in Korea.

Destroying these works of art makes sense for them. Their real target is civilization, after all.

Just Write It Down

I have a phone call in a few minutes so that this woman I work with can 'relay a request' to me. If she had just written down the request in an email, the request would already be relayed and I would have a written record of exactly what its terms are. Instead, I spent more time than it would have taken to read an email on back-and-forth texting to arrange the call she wanted half an hour later, and that call will now take as long as it takes for her to tell me what she didn't write down.

The written word is your friend. You can absorb ten times as much information by reading an article about a topic than by watching a TV news report about it. There are some few people who are so personally important to me that I'd rather talk to them than read what they have to say, and for them I'd rather have the call or the meeting. Everyone else, write it down.

Sixty/Forty: Giving or Taking?

Laughing Wolf is one of the old BLACKFIVE crew; I've had tacos with him. He's putting the odds of nuclear war at 40/60, but the odds of 'a nuclear incident' at 60/40. He expects some escalatory measures first:
Third, I would expect to see MOPP gear show up for Russian/Wagner troops. Open question for any OSINT who read this: is anyone seeing any MOPP gear with any Russian troops anywhere? Heck, is anyone seeing any MOPP gear anywhere?

That's a good point. 

Fall Festival Season

Being a very lucky man, I have two unplanned calendar benefits in my life that keep me from missing important anniversaries. First, my birthday occurs immediately before my wife's, so that even if I happen to forget about both of them completely I am reminded right before my having forgotten could become a problem. Second, our anniversary happens to coincide exactly with our son's birthday and, on many years, Father's Day. That gives us two family festivals, one in October and one in June, in addition to the high festivals such as Christmas.

Usually the fall festival includes a trip to the Stone Mountain Highland Games, but this year we are not able to make the trip. Things should be beautiful up here as well, though, so it should be all right.

These aren't such high holidays that I get off of work for them -- I had five hours of meetings today, for example -- but they do provide a moment of joy.

Starlink and War Fighting

Apparently Elon Musk has begun standing down his early support for Ukraine, on the stated concern that further Russian reverses might lead to nuclear war. I also think that Russia might use nuclear weapons. Partly this is because Soviet Russia never believed in the US doctrine of "Mutually Assured Destruction," but rather in a doctrine called "Nuclear War Fighting." Use of nuclear weapons on a tactical basis was always part of their doctrine. 

More, it's because the collapse of the prestige of the Russian military poses a kind of existential threat to Russia. China, which opened this game pledging support for Russia in order to gain a precedent for its own longed-for seizure of Taiwan, must now be looking west at Russia with a growing appetite. If Russia proves gutless as well as toothless, why not take Siberia or some of the 'stans? Taiwan can wait.

Further, I notice with alarm that American and NATO support for the Ukrainian war continues well beyond what we can plausibly deny. There are aspects of some of this that we can pretend might or might not have been us, but there's no doubt that the US military and intelligence community are outright involved in the war. One can only carry out acts of war, even against an aggressor nation like Russia, for so long without tripping any tripwires that are out there.

Our intelligence community continues to assert in public that they see no signs that Russia's nuclear forces might be readying for action. Perhaps; but they saw no signs that Pakistan nor Libya were developing nuclear weapons at all. Assuredly watching the Russians has been a major focus of theirs, but so too was watching the Taliban -- which they assured us could not hope to advance rapidly on Kabul. 

The Musk proposal conveys everything Russia wants, allowing them -- like the Mouth of Sauron's ask -- to gain at the table what they otherwise might have to fight a long war to obtain. Perhaps they do not have the strength for that war, nuclear weapons or not. Yet we also do not have the strength our leadership seems to believe that we do; we are no longer the power we once were, the one that bestrode the world at the end of Reagan's time. Our military now is far smaller, its equipment exhausted by decades of war, and presently unable to recruit soldiers or sailors or even many Marines. The nation is too divided for a draft, especially for another foreign adventure in a place to which few Americans have personal ties. 

Perhaps the beatitudes are right, and the peacemakers are blessed. 

A Threat to Our Democracy

Tulsi Gabbard leaves the Democratic Party, citing "God-given freedoms." 

More Autumnal Glory

A panoramic view from Sam Knob (6068 ft).

Myself looking at the Devil's Courthouse / Judaculla's Judgment Seat from the opposite direction as last time. This is the view from the northeast; yesterday, from the southwest.

On the way back from this jaunt, we came across a party of Germans near Balsam Lake, one of whom had suffered a traumatic compound fracture of her femur. This was occasioned by slipping and falling down while trying to reach the lake for some tourist purpose. Strongman practice proved very useful in clearing fallen trees off the trail so that the ambulance could deliver a stretcher to within ten (vertical) feet of her location; and then I got to tie one of the knots in the Technical Rescue system we used to move her up those ten feet. After that I assisted in moving the stretcher to the ambulance. 

Very satisfying day.

Happy Ethnic Pandering Festival

Today and tomorrow include three competing holidays. The main one currently is "Indigenous People's Day."
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor the sovereignty, resilience, and immense contributions that Native Americans have made to the world; and we recommit to upholding our solemn trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, strengthening our Nation-to-Nation ties.

For centuries, Indigenous Peoples were forcibly removed from ancestral lands, displaced, assimilated, and banned from worshiping or performing many sacred ceremonies.  Yet today, they remain some of our greatest environmental stewards.  They maintain strong religious beliefs that still feed the soul of our Nation.  And they have chosen to serve in the United States Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group.  Native peoples challenge us to confront our past and do better, and their contributions to scholarship, law, the arts, public service, and more continue to guide us forward.
Leif Erikson Day, which is today, also drew a presidential proclamation this year.
Over 1,000 years ago, Leif Erikson, son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, embarked on a historic journey across the Atlantic, landing on the shores of North America.  Widely believed to be the first Europeans to set foot on this continent, he and his crew embodied traits that would come to define a uniquely American spirit — restless and bold, brave and optimistic, and in search of a better future.  This same spirit would guide generations of Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes to immigrate and build new lives in the United States.  It would lead countless families to plant roots in the Great Lakes States, the northern Great Plains, and enclaves across the Nation.  It remains ingrained in the hearts of roughly 11 million Americans who trace their ancestry to Nordic countries today.

On Leif Erikson Day, we celebrate Nordic-Americans and all the ways they strengthen the fabric of our Nation.  They are leaders in business and philanthropy, educators and scholars, artists and inventors, doctors and nurses, first responders, service members, and so much more.  In every field and throughout every community, their contributions help bring us closer to making the promise of America real for every American.

On this day, we also reaffirm our strong partnerships with Nordic nations and their people. 

And the displaced Columbus Day got one too.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from the Spanish port of Palos de la Frontera on behalf of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, but his roots trace back to Genoa, Italy.  The story of his journey remains a source of pride for many Italian Americans whose families also crossed the Atlantic.  His voyage inspired many others to follow and ultimately contributed to the founding of America, which has been a beacon for immigrants across the world.

Many of these immigrants were Italian, and for generations, Italian immigrants have harnessed the courage to leave so much behind, driven by their faith in the American dream — to build a new life of hope and possibility in the United States. Today, Italian Americans are leaders in all fields, including government, health, business, innovation, and culture.

Columbus Day is formally on the 12th of October, but used to get moved around in order to craft a 3-day weekend for government workers. For some reason they're still moving it to Monday even though they no longer consider it a day off -- well, they still take the day off, but not on account of Columbus any more. 

I'm struck by how each of these proclamations is almost identical: mention the historic issue, pander to a particular ethnic group, talk about their contributions to 'all fields' or 'every field' or 'every community.' Your group is so special, just like everyone else's!

"Alleged to be Associated with Groups Connected To..."

A Furman University professor is on leave after having attended a very unpopular political rally back in 2017. (H/t: Instapundit) As noted at the link, his activity appears to be protected by both the Constitution and South Carolina state law as well as Furham's own rules, but he is on leave anyway.

The university president explains: of our faculty members participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and is alleged to be associated with other organizations that are connected with white supremacist groups that promote racism, exclusion and hatred.

Now that is quite a standard, even under the old definition of "white supremacist groups." Say the KKK is your white supremacist group -- and no arguing they are, and that they are evil and undesirable elements in society. So now we are looking at a group that is "connected" to them, which could mean a group from which they occasionally recruit or with which they share certain views -- say the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Barring a faculty member in South Carolina for being a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans would be a remarkable standard.

These days, however, the new definition of 'white supremacism' already embraces the Sons of Confederate Veterans. So now you're looking for people who are 'alleged to be associated' with groups that are connected to SCV -- say, the local historical society in Charleston, SC, which might have speakers occasionally who are SCV members (as they are often amateur historians who have done a lot of research and may have collections of primary sources). 

And this is an allegation of an association with a group connected, etc. 

I don't know the guy; maybe he's an outspoken jerk in real life. It does seem like we're pretty far down the string, though, if we're roping in people who are 'alleged to be associated with those connected with....'