R.I.P. Southern Icons

Jerry Lee Lewis, wildest of pianists and rockabilly lord, died this week after a false report earlier in the week. He was recently inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame, having long been in the one for rock and roll. 

Vince Dooley, legendary coach who led the Georgia Bulldogs to their previous national championship four decades ago, also passed on this week. 

When I was at UGA, his wife and he and I went to the same church. I never met either of them, though, because they were such celebrities locally that they were always mobbed.

The National Defense Strategy

The Biden administration put out a National Security Strategy last year; the Office of the Secretary of Defense has now put out its companion piece, the National Defense Strategy. This will inform the National Military Strategy yet to come from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a high level strategic document, it's not terrible except in one huge way: it demonstrates that OSD thinks it still has a lot of time. This is made clear right at the beginning.
President Biden has stated that we are living in a “decisive decade,” one stamped by dramatic changes in geopolitics, technology, economics, and our environment. The defense strategy that the United States pursues will set the Department’s course for decades to come. The Department of Defense owes it to our All-Volunteer Force and the American people to provide a clear picture of the challenges we expect to face in the crucial years ahead...
Frankly they'll be lucky if they've got a year before some of these bills come due. Some of it is here already, and more of it is coming faster than 'by the end of this decade' or 'in the crucial years ahead.' 

Magic Drinks and Poisons

Professor Emeritus Ann Sheffield begins with the Saga of Olav Tryggvason. It's about twenty minutes for those of you who, like me, enjoy discussions of Norse sagas. 

Psychology of Woke

Definitely a confirmation bias issue here, but this does fit my experience of the people I have personally known who partake in this stuff.

One ought always to be suspicious of attempts to psychoanalyze people who have not actually been examined in person, or to apply psychoanalysis [apparently I was not using the right term; see comments. -Grim] not to individuals but groups. Combining that with my own confirmation bias issues on the subject, I can't actually place any confidence in these conclusions; but I forward them for discussion by those of you who might feel competent to do so.


One of these is me, Christmas 2008. One of the others in the photo, a good friend of mine, sent it to me today. I must have been just back from outside the wire, because I was in armor with a pack slung over my shoulder. I have no memory of what I might have been doing. 

Strength Sports & Exploitation

The Washington Post has an exposé today on exploitation of female bodybuilders. Because of the well-known differential in average male and female desires and visual nature of much male desires, these things are always about women being exploited. Gay males do it to males, too, but at a much reduced rate simply because of numbers. Of all the forms of exploitation we regularly encounter, this seems to have been less violent and aggressive than we often find: soft-core rather than otherwise, consensual rather than otherwise, coerced only by offers of money, denial of fair treatment for those who didn't play, or promises of favoritism in treatment if  you did. 

Possibly this is because the women were stronger than the men who sought to coerce them! Physical strength is a virtue in the strict sense, and has the pragmatic consequences of being protective as well as enabling one to do certain practical things that others cannot do.

I would advance the hypothesis, though, that this would not be found to the same degree in the other strength sports that women participate in -- I mean my own sport of Strongman ("Strongwoman") and Power Lifting. Of the three, bodybuilding is intensely focused on perfecting physical appearance rather than performance at lifting or carrying weight. This results in body styles that are less attractive, but more functional. 

These charts are about men, but it's not all that different.

Hollywood loves the bodybuilder physique, the triangular one with the abs and the v-cuts. Conan the Cimmerian tends to be portrayed in movies by bodybuilders like Arnold or Jason Momoa, and also artists who depict Conan usually do so in the bodybuilder physique since Frank Frazetta. They are not, though, as strong as those with the rectangular physique and the thick core muscles. They are just preferred aesthetically. Bodybuilding as a sport focuses on achieving that aesthetic, not on lifting huge weights or carrying them over distances or through obstacles. 

My hypothesis is that people who are erotically motivated by sight of strong people probably gravitate towards bodybuilding in a way that they don't towards the other communities. Women who want to compete in a strength sport without such exploitation thus probably have a live option. Women who want to look good in a bodybuilder way, say like a comic book heroine like Red Sonja, are beginning from a path of looking attractive rather than being strong, and that is going to tend to lead to encounters with men like these. 

That's not a moral judgment; you should do what you want. If you want to look good, though, you're probably going to have to develop stronger "coping skills" as Mr. Hines likes to call it. 

Fire Leaves


Sharing is Caring

Do yellow jackets get drunk? A social experiment:

UPDATE: Apparently. This one’s definitely not walking straight anymore, and I’ve had to fish him out twice after he fell in.