Ham Sandwich Time

Mike Lindell Draws Sword, Cuts Off Ear Of Officer Attempting To Arrest Trump

In other news:

Media Calls For Moment Of Silence For Shooter Who Was Misgendered

FBI Vows To Get To The Bottom Of What Christians Did To Provoke Attack

I thought the Bee only did satire.

Good one, Seth


We've talked about the issue of strength sports and trans* issues before. In general powerlifting and Strongman divides between those who worry about the issue and those who don't care at all about the issue because they support any sort of chemical engagement to improve strength anyway. (Why worry about testosterone if you're ok with steroids?) Some of the various leagues have therefore permitted anyone to identify any way they want.

There's really only one issue with this approach.
This is the moment a male coach claims to be a woman and smashes the female bench press record at a powerlifting competition in Canada.

Bearded Avi Silverberg is shown calmly approaching the bench in men's clothing as part of a protest against gender self-identification policies in sport.

Silverberg then unofficially breaks the female bench press record for the 84+ kilograms women's category, which was a 270lbs press - officially set by a trans lifter.

Hell, I could break that record this afternoon in my warmup sets. (Note that it was set by a trans lifter, too, not a biological female). 

More Good Legislative News in NC

The governor of this state is an impediment to every good thing, but he is standing aside from this law because it passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers.
The North Carolina legislature came together recently to pass strong anti-rioting legislation that will increase the penalty for those arrested in Antifa-style riots.

House Bill 40, which passed with bipartisan support, contains the same provisions as a bill that was vetoed in 2021 by Democratic governor Roy Cooper....

The legislation increases the penalty for those arrested for rioting where deaths or injury occurred, or significant damage was inflicted on property. It also increases penalties for anyone convicted of assaulting a first responder during a riot. Since radical organizations supporting Antifa rioters with systematic bail funds has resulted in revolving door justice, the bill also tightens bail and pre-trial release requirements.

Among the provisions of the law is a heightened penalty if you riot while on drugs (or while brandishing weapons). The prohibition against attacking emergency personnel (the term used in the law, rather than 'first responder') is a Class D felony, equivalent to being a member of a terrorist organization, trafficking in serious quantities of cocaine, train robbery, intentional arson, or voluntary manslaughter. 

If we must have laws, at least let them be good laws. Until and unless actual revolution is justified, this kind of rioting is utterly destructive.

Bad News

 In the musical spirit of recent posts ...

Mind Your Business

In the last few years, I've come around to the view that 'minding one's business' is an ethical duty that has become dangerously undervalued. It's a value I think deserves to be in the first rank, because it respects everyone's right to make up his or her own mind about what seems right. Why shouldn't we be emphatic about the importance of minding one's own business?

Just lately, thanks to a link from D29, I have begun to see why it might be so undervalued.

The source for that data is allegedly a Nature article; maybe it's exactly right and maybe not, but I can definitely see where the impulse is coming from. Liberal (in the strict sense) morality aims to be universal rather than particular, and looks (Kant is an exemplar) to the disinterested and purely rational as a measure of avoiding prejudice for kith or kin. 

One might however note that it is surprising at best to value a complete stranger, a tree, or the life on Venus (if any!) to precisely the same degree that you value your own mother. You presumably owe your mother a lot, even if she was a bad mother. You may well never cross paths with the Venusian Central Committee at all, let alone their flock. It's not only not humane, it's inhuman not to care especially about the people close to you.

In a federalist system like ours, the refusal to let the other states go their own way further increases the likelihood of conflict. We have to fight, if everywhere has to be the same and we can't all live with the same rules. We can get along, if you can go your way in Maryland and Georgia can go another way all its own. Alabama, Texas, California, Vermont, etc. If you really hate what you grew up with, you can find another way not so very far off.

Do we really want to have to fight about everything? Is that actually ethical, when it is so easily avoided? We don't have to fight with each other.

So anyway, here's another song. Pause and reflect; selah.

Used to Have a Heart....

...but the highway took it.

This is by Garrett Hedlund, written by singer-songwriter Hayes Carll. This is another young country singer who still knows how it used to be done. Here is Hedlund doing a Merle Haggard classic.

UPDATE: Speaking of Hayes Carll, here’s himself doing one I like. 

Other News of Congress

There are two potentially significant matters happening in Congress -- it's hard to say how significant, but they're worth watching.

A supermajority in the Senate has voted to repeal the Iraq War authorization as part of an attempt to restore Congress' role in deciding whether or not we go to war. The opponents are Republicans, for some reason. There were 65 'yes' votes, which is nearly enough to override a Biden veto if he should choose to veto the repeal in the face of majority support from his party.

The Restrict Act, which aims to ban TikTok, appears to grant the government massive new authority to monitor your internet activity -- and to send you to prison for decades if you use a VPN. It is being framed as a national security measure, and section 3(A)1-2 appears to restrict the intent of the law to measures that are plausibly framed as national security violations. However, it's pretty easy to read section 5 to include almost all privacy technology, and the definition of who is a foreign adversary is open and flexible. 

Also, the bill restricts judicial review to the DC court of appeals (sec. 12(D)). That move appears to be intended to give the government a very large 'home court advantage' in any attempt to address government excesses via litigation. 

I'd suggest opposing this one, if you are still inclined to write to legislators. 

NC Vote on Pistol Permits, Church Carry

NC has a stupid system that allows sheriffs to prevent ordinary people from buying a pistol, even if they pass the FBI background check, just if they want to do so. It dates to the Jim Crow era and was of course intended to prevent black people from buying pistols. It's up for repeal right now: the legislature voted to kill it, the (Democratic) governor vetoed the repeal, and the Senate voted to override the veto. The matter is now with the state house.

The bill also includes a more relevant repeal, which would allow people who attend church to carry guns to church even if their church also has a school attached. Currently churchgoers with schools are mandated to be disarmed during services (but not those whose church lacks a school), even though church services are typically on Sunday when no school is in session. Public schools, meanwhile, enjoy armed police guards as a rule.

Under the present circumstances, when Christian communities seem to be under attack, you might think that allowing churchgoers to protect each other was a reasonable policy. We'll see what the legislature says.

The override requires a 3/5ths vote, which means that 72 representatives must vote in favor of it [see update]. There are 71 Republicans, the rest Democrats. It'll be interesting to see if party has become so powerful that even such a close vote can't be won, in a state that is mostly rural and that mostly is strongly in support of self-defense.

UPDATE: The governor's veto was successfully overridden this morning. 

Apparently the 3/5ths requirement in NC is 'of votes cast,' allowing Democrats to support the bill by simply not showing up for the vote. That saves face, I suppose, which can be an important thing. It also prevents primary opponents from being able to charge them with having voted for a gun access bill supported by Republicans in increasingly partisan times.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, any person seeking to purchase or transfer a handgun in North Carolina is no longer required to apply to the sheriff for a pistol purchase permit.  All pistol purchase permitting laws in North Carolina have been eliminated by the enactment of Senate Bill 41, Guarantee 2nd Amend Freedom and Protections.  

Background checks will by done by the dealer when purchasing a handgun.

More important to my way of thinking was the church carry; you could already have dodged the difficult sheriff by getting a concealed carry permit, which would also serve as a pistol permit but which was 'shall issue' rather than 'may issue' from the perspective of the sheriff. Letting parishioners protect each other is a big deal.  

Definitely no Uvalde

God bless these cops.

On Nashville

In one of those grotesque coincidences that give rise to conspiracy theories, yesterday the major regime newspapers -- the Washington Post and the New York Times -- both had leading stories aimed at trying to gin up support for a gun ban. The Post in particular went with a full court press yesterday, with three different stories on the front page of the website aimed at especially AR-15-style rifles. These were portrayed as having always been intended by their designers for a military audience only, with evil profit-seeking capitalism in the gun industry driving their popularity with civilians. 

An admission against interest made in the Post: as many as 1 in 20 Americans owns an AR-15, meaning that there are fully 16 million such rifles in private hands. Unmentioned, but just as important, is that rifles of all kinds including these account for almost none of the gun violence in America statistically. These rifles aren't the problem: there are too many of them accounting for almost none of the violence. (Those numbers also mean that restrictions on them are presumptively unconstitutional under Bruen.)

The NYT had an extensive photo spread with moving quotes from the people included in the artful photography, talking about the psychological stress that 'the problem of gun violence' brought to their lives. The quotes showed that these people are mostly stressed about the potential for mass shootings. Not admitted by the article: mass shootings account for almost none of the gun violence in the United States statistically. The psychological stress is mostly being created by the media: almost all of the actual gun violence in America is committed with illegally-possessed handguns, and occurs in only a small number of neighborhoods in a few cities nationwide. The numbers are clear: America is a safe country. It has a few bad neighborhoods. 

What a conspiracist will grab upon is the timing of that full-court media press coupled with a mass shooting happening later that same day, carried out by what looks like a likely left-wing agitator (indeed an assassin, perhaps on the model of the anarchists who killed Archduke Ferdinand as a method of compelling political change). 

Even the press is grudgingly admitting that a likely motive seems to be opposition to Tennessee's legislation on what the unnamed movement likes to call "gender-affirming care." 

The most immediately striking fact about yesterday's violence, though, is that it was carried out by a biological female. That almost never happens. Just as mass shootings are a statistical anomaly in the field of gun violence, and rifle shootings are a statistical anomaly in a field of all homicides, murders -- let alone mass murders -- by females are very rare. This is like lightning striking three times.

What strikes me as a probable lane of inquiry is the use of testosterone 'hormone therapy' as an aggravating factor. The difference between the female murder rate and the male murder rate probably has something to do with the presence of this hormone at vastly higher rates in males; adding injections of it to a biological female may well be associated with an increased aggressive violence rate. In other words, the 'gender affirming care' looks like a probable suspect, at least an aggravating factor.

We know for sure that we'll be hearing plenty of inquiries into the other two statistical anomalies because they are the favored hobby horse of the government and media, as a way of trying to restrict an American right they despise. The other one? It looks like the media would like to "correct his pronouns," which is perhaps not merely about political correctness: perhaps it's about burying the issue of hormone therapy by hiding the statistical anomaly. 

UPDATE: The shooter was apparently receiving "mental health treatment," which could mean a lot of different things. Treatment for gender dysphoria is one such treatment, one that often involves hormones. Did it here? How safe is it to inject hormones not to replace ones that have declined with age, injury, or disease, but to add new ones that the body never generated at similar scales on its own? These are the sorts of questions that ought to be asked here.

On "Transgenderism"

I was talking recently with a good friend who is politically strongly in favor of what you might call the transgender rights movement. What I actually called it in the discussion we were having was "transgenderism," which caused her to object. She said they didn't like that word, and there was no such thing as "transgenderism," only people who are trans.

That surprised me a lot, because I hadn't intended the word as a pejorative: I meant it to be exactly equivalent to "feminism," which is a philosophy she strongly espouses. Just as feminism is a philosophy with a political component that advocates for changes to the law and society for the benefit of women ("femina"), so too this seems to be a movement with a political component that advocates for changes to the law and society for the benefit of trans people. 

One may, of course, argue about whether the proposed changes will in fact benefit the class of people it means to benefit; one may argue about the propriety of advocating for benefitting one class of Americans over another. (There's a kind of irony especially in doing so from the ground of equality, though as you all know the argument is that things are so unequal that even more unequal treatment is the only way to level the field.) Still, I wasn't trying to argue about the business at all, I was just trying to refer to it. All I wanted out of the word was a way of naming the thing under discussion. Apparently even referring to the political movement is tracking as offensive for some reason, and the polite thing to do was to pretend that there was no political movement, only people of a certain kind. 

This strikes me as very strange. One would think that they would be only too happy to acknowledge the similarity between their movement and the feminist movement, especially those of them who are trans-women. It's rather obviously an outgrowth, has adopted many of the same arguments, and is broadly supported by feminists (with the exception of the 'trans-exclusive radical feminists,' as such women are called by, er, the political movement under discussion which apparently shouldn't be named). 

A kind of basic hostility to an accurate description of the world is a strange thing to try to build upon. I understand the old Marxist ploy to try to get people to consent to a lie in order to disrupt their morale, and even their morality. This was coming from a good friend, though, who really believes she is helping and motivated only by kindness towards the transgender. Her motives I don't question, but how strange it seems to me to commit to this kind of refusal to refer to a political movement that obviously exists, is quite vocal and active, and which is a clear outgrowth of her own movement that is similarly named. 

Who Defends Free Inquiry?

Journalist Matt Taibbi points out that Democrats as a party have abandoned free speech. Republicans seem to be involved in a wave of book banning over concerns about children being exposed to sexuality at an unreasonably early age. One Republican Congressman, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, said:
“Over time, American communities will build beautiful, church owned public-access libraries. I’m going to help these churches get funding. We will change the whole public library paradigm. The libraries regular Americans recall are gone. They’ve become liberal grooming centers.”

Technically that's not a call to defund public libraries, only to fund a new array of public-access libraries run by churches. It is true that the libraries of today often feature displays of books that are left-wing in character, and the ALA tends to side with the cultural left openly and reliably. Just as there's a desire to separate from each other politically, there's an understandable desire to separate from each other culturally. 

The basic principle of free inquiry needs defenders. I understand that parents may not always want their children exposed to some things at early ages, and I agree that parents should have their rightful authority to guide their children's lives and educations recognized. That said, there needs to be a defense of the right of adult minds to think and speak honestly even when what they have to say is unpopular -- or popular with many ordinary people, but not with the wealthy and powerful.

Right now there doesn't seem to be an agenda by either party to defend freedom of speech and inquiry. There are movements on both sides (to the degree that there are two sides) to oppose it. That's a matter of grave concern. 

UPDATE: Now book burning

"More FBI in the Proud Boys than Proud Boys"

“There’s more C.H.S.s than there are defendants in this case,” Sabino Jauregui, one of Mr. Tarrio’s lawyers said, using an abbreviation for confidential human source, the F.B.I. official term for an informant.

“I asked my intern the other day if she’s a C.H.S.,” he said.

In addition to being the heaviest concentration on J6, they had a secret police informant inside the defense team, which has only just come out -- well into the trial.

Victim-Blaming Pays for Antifa

Andy Ngo gives a glimpse of how Antifa is being funded by the very cities they attacked. 

The basics are, first, Antifa deploys lawyer "green hats" among the rioters to record events from their side. Other Antifa elements are tasked with identifying non-Antifa media for intimidation and theft or destruction of recording equipment to keep anyone else from generating video evidence against them. Then, after the riot, they sue the city for excessive police violence. Typically, the city DA decides not to fight them on it and the city forks over millions. Rinse and repeat.

In your heads

More good links from Maggie's Farm this morning, this time about the late unpleasantness in France. If Western logic is the ultimate authoritarian bugbear, there's something charming and hopeful about an disciplined group of violent anarchists torching MacDonald's outlets to protest the slight erosion of state-funded pension rights.

Prime Minister Macron reportedly called this France's "J6" moment. It's what the Pelosi/Schumer crowd probably wish you'd believe J6 looked like. They keep telling you J6 was a bloodbath of historic proportions, and we're not just talking about the protesters we killed, you guys!--but some of you refuse to prostrate yourselves in shame. I think they'd do well to splice in some footage of the Paris flames and threaten to arrest any Americans who dispute that they're images of the U.S. Capitol.

Pitch perfect

MIT is trying to host a debate on DEI, but the DEI deans are boycotting. I admired their written response:
“We also learned of a debate that will be happening on campus in a few weeks over what I think is an utterly false binary of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ versus ‘merit, fairness, and equality.’ A number of people, including me, were invited to participate in this event last year. We declined based on the framing, but it fueled our thinking about how to set the right conditions for a discussion — avoiding simplified versions of issues and concentrating on a format that will broaden attendees’ perspectives rather than on having one side ‘win,'” Dozier said in a March 15 news release announcing his own set of conversations to be held on campus.
"False binary" is a terrific opening: smug, universal in its application, and announced with dignity and a profound disinclination to explain. Some of you troglodytes may have been thinking there's an inherent conflict between DEI (or as we now apparently call it, DIEB, for "belonging") and merit, fairness, and equality. Well, you're wrong, that's all, and by the way shut up. So much for framing: you did it wrong, now go away.

Also, the format is problematic, an observation that is much deeper and more nuanced than taking a position on the issue to be argued. The whole point is to broaden the perspectives of you troglodytes, not to give you some kind of opportunity to, what do we call it, "win." Winning is very primitive and binary. Also, that other thing, the one that's not winning, is not something we particularly wish to think about, and the fact that you're willing to think about it--yes, we can see you salivaitng over there--only shows how narrow, false, and binary you are.

We need to set the right conditions for a discussion. Actually, several of us make a living enforcing those conditions, for a generous and virtue-affirming fee that supports an enviable lifestyle. The goal is not to simplify issues but to compound them into multifarious enigmas spring-loaded with lots of rage, while preserving the flexibility to shift one's ground constantly, with lots of pained expressions. We call these interactions "conversations." We have ways of making you like them. Shall we have one now? Just nod, we'll tell you if and when it's your turn to speak.

Sagan on Democracy

The introductory remarks are helpful, but the real point starts at 1:07. Sagan was wise enough to frame this as an anti-Republican argument, so it got on major network television even in the Clinton era. It is actually a very serious threat to a self-governing society. 

1) Science and technology are increasingly a focal point of our society, but they are not generally understood by the public -- yet in a democracy, the public has to make decisions. 

2) Since they cannot, actual power passes out of their hands into the hands of 'experts' appointed by the government -- yet the same problem applies to choosing who the experts are. The people cannot assess whether real experts, or mere partisan power-players, have been chosen; and the politicians, not being experts either, can't distinguish the genuine ones either. 

3) Since the politicians have to choose, and can't distinguish between real experts and political allies who are claiming to be experts, they'll generally choose political allies -- there's something in it for them there, at least. Appoint some nobody just because he has a degree or something and that person might do anything once in power. At least the party functionary will do what you want.

4) Thus, the 'scientific and technological society' ends up not only destroying self-government in favor of government by experts, but actually fails to achieve government by experts in favor of government by factional loyalists regardless of their mental or technological capacities. 

Then the second reason, which relates directly to Tex's post below:

5) Science is really about skeptical empiricism, a mode of inquiry rather than a body of knowledge. 

6) A free society needs people who have both education and skepticism, and must be free to question ideas. This is the only way to have a self-governing people.

7) Failing that the people do not run the government, the government runs them. 

We seem to have achieved both of these in the last few years. We are now "governed by experts" to a greater degree than ever before, yet these experts at places like the Department of Energy seem to have been chosen for ideological reasons primarily (and possibly solely). All of this power has passed to the Secretary of Health and the rest of the bureaucracy, and the people in charge of it look to ordinary eyes to be barking mad, interested in political domination rather than actual expertise. 

Meanwhile, attempts to question the science put forward by these experts is increasingly forbidden. Indeed, it looks like the government is investing heavily in technologies and partnerships expressly intended to suppress free inquiry. This is being done in the name of protecting less-qualified ordinary people from drawing wrong conclusions by being exposed to 'bad' information; but what it's actually suppressing is the very spirit of science Sagan described. It is the spirit of skeptical empiricism that is being attacked, to make sure there aren't challenges to the appointed 'experts' who increasingly serve as the replacement for democratic self-government. 

I guess they have a point

NPR may be onto something. I have to agree that there's "limited evidence" that men have an inherent advantage over women in sports, in the same sense that there's limited evidence for essentially every proposition I can imagine. The evidence that the sun rises in the east, for instance, is limited to the number of times any of us has personally witnessed the phenomenon, as well as to our ability to aggregate the testimony of humans throughout recorded history--so far. I applaud NPR's stunning and brave determination not to jump to conclusions.

If any NPR staffers survive the current spate of layoffs, I look forward to their application of the same intellectual humility to all of the truisms routinely spouted by earnest radio personalities. Anthropogenic climate change threatens humanity? Joe Biden is the president of the United States? Childhood genital mutilitation is health-affirming? "There's limited evidence of that."

Seven Spanish Angels

Per Whiskey Riff, this day 1985 an unlikely duet went big. 

Riding Weather

Today was, and tomorrow is reported to be, ideal riding weather. I spent the morning engaged in an adventure I shall not relate because it involves rescue service participation in a murder investigation, and such things are wisely not spoken of before the trial. That was expected to take the day and didn't, so I had taken a day off from work that I suddenly had free. I spent seven glorious hours riding in fine spring weather, with a good meal at a smokehouse in amongst the pleasures of the road. 

We shall see if I am able to get free tomorrow; certainly not all day, as many things need my attention in addition to the motorcycle. Still, the warm parts of the year bring their pleasures.

Chinese Military Tactics Evolve

Time Travel in Fiction

A whiteboard video.

A Curious Question

President Donald Trump is expected to be indicted and charged with a crime soon, and reports are that "he Manhattan District Attorney's office will reach out to Trump and his Secret Service detail to make arrangements for his surrender[.]"

I admit it had not occurred to me to think about him having a Secret Service detail, but of course he does as do all Presidents during and after their term of service. This raises a question I find interesting: what would the Secret Service do in the event of his arrest and/or conviction and sentencing? Presumably as law enforcement officers themselves, they would want to cooperate with the court and penal system; but they also can't simply allow him to be sent to Rikers Island and put in the general population. 

Other nations that have imprisoned opposition political leaders have sometimes resorted to house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest over a 21-year period. Since the Secret Service will be providing police officers to literally stand over the top of him all the time, there's no reason why a similar arrangement couldn't work here too: you wouldn't have to put him in a New York state-owned facility. 

Since a lot of the point of this exercise seems to be public humiliation, however, I expect that the Secret Service will be asked to somehow work with his enclosure in a New York prison or jail of some sort -- certainly if a conviction is obtained, as it may well be given the poisoned jury pool in NYC, and maybe even as he awaits trial. I would expect the Secret Service to demand control over a cordoned-off part of the jail under those circumstances, with NY officers allowed to access Trump but only under observation.

Commentators seem convinced the case is hopelessly weak, but I wouldn't put much hope in the law or the courts here. Trump is a designated object of hate, perhaps the foremost one extant in our country, and he is unlikely to receive a fair trial in Manhattan of all places (only DC might be worse in terms of jury bias). His ability to obtain a dispassionate and fair trial according to our usual aspirational standards anywhere in America must be close to Osama bin Laden's, except that there are areas where it would be unfair in his favor as well. The odds of us having a Political Prisoner in Chief soon are nonzero, no matter what one thinks of the legal strengths or weaknesses of the charge. If I were the Secret Service, I'd be planning now for how to handle this.

"Backlash" exception to the 1st Amendment

I take minor comfort from the fact that this is a decision issued by a 3-judge panel of the Second Circuit, not en banc, but it has some pretty horrifying Constitutional law in it. The court dismissed an NRA complaint alleging that the New York Department of Financial Services bullied financial institutions into blacklisting the NRA on the ground of "reputational risk." The court explained that "backlash" against Second Amendment supporters was a legitimate reason for a state banking regulator to use threats to induce banks to blacklist customers with controversial advocacy records. As Powerline suggests, the only right thing to happen now is for the Supreme Court to accept certioriari and punt this awful decision into the sun. In the meantime, however, it sure would be nice to see people cease to use New York banks. The risk there is very high, even beyond the general concern over concentrating the nation's financial system in any particular location.

Arkansas, Affirmative Action, and Walmart

Gail Heriot posted this on Instapundit. The comment thread there so far is a shining example of sheer ignorance and bad faith attacks on Arkansas Republicans. I don't care to create a Disqus account to comment there, so I thought I might say something useful here, even if it is by no means a complete answer.

Walmart is headquartered in Bentonville, AR, and is a chunk of the state economy. Whenever the Republican dominated legislature takes up conservative legislation to which the woke rulers of the Walmart empire object, Walmart implicitly threatens to take their money somewhere else.

I'm not saying the Republican politicians are right or wrong to take this into account. I'm just saying it's part of the political calculus there.

Rafe Heydel-Mankoo on Reparations

It's a British argument, but a good quick listen at 12 minutes. The title on YouTube ("Woke Cambridge Students HATE Historian's Facts") is misleading, I think -- the Cambridge students sit quietly and let him finish speaking, and there is some applause at the end.

More Weird Numbers

56.3% of liberal women 18-29 have been formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder, compared to 27.3% of conservative women and 16.3% of conservative men in the same age bracket.

There are several general trends visible here. Older people have fewer than younger; men have fewer than women; conservatives have fewer than liberals. 

My sense about psychology is that you get diagnoses more or less because you ask for them, so these numbers may simply be explained as the willingness of these various groups to seek psychological counseling. You have to check however many boxes off for the current DSM, and then you get a diagnosis that will allow your insurance company to pay for the counseling you want. If someone doesn't believe in the value of such counseling, they won't go and they therefore won't get a diagnosis. I don't think this necessarily says anything about the actual mental health of these demographics.

Still, the delta is pretty big. There's an order of magnitude difference between the young liberal women and the oldest conservative men, and right at that big a difference between them and the oldest conservative women. 

Shocking if True

NotTheBee has a summary of some propaganda being put out by a hockey team for some reason or other; of all the places to virtue signal, goalie-fighting hockey teams are a very strange choice. One of these things is actually shocking, though, assuming that the statistic is true.

Now that would be amazing. I'm in no way an expert on the demographics here, but assuming that there is a roughly equal distribution of these qualities across various ethnic groups, black LGBTQ should account for around 13% of the total; and this Gallup poll suggests that trans-* should account for only 10% of that, so 1.3% of the total. But that's all sorts of trans-*, of which transgender women are an additional subset, presumably on the order of half of it. (And that's accounting for the doubling of the rate in the youngest generation, which is an additional weirdness to the numbers we'll ignore for now.)

So that would give us approximately (and admittedly according to very back-of-the-envelope math) 0.8% of the total population being the subject of 50% of the violence. If that's true, it's stunning. 

I'll Allow It

Wretchard asked Chat GPT-4 who he was, to see what it knows. It's a plausible thing to do; what it knows is the internet, and we've published a great deal of content on the internet. 

I decided to try it too, since I was messing with GPT last week. 

Close enough for government work. 


I decided to try again, clueing in the GPT bot that I was asking about a blog. It was under the impression that the blog had closed, when in fact its own database ceases. However, it characterized the philosophy of the blog in this way:

That's actually a pretty good summary.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

It's almost as if price controls led to supply crashes:
This regulatory environment explains why California insurers can’t charge rates that reflect their actual risks. It also shows why there’s so little competition in the state’s insurance industry. Over the long run, competition keeps rates low. Insurance commissioners can certainly hold premiums down by edict, but the result is a contracting market. Homeowners then have little choice but to buy inadequate policies in a government-run marketplace.
Similarly, I made my living for years on the cleanup of the power grid crash in California, caused by regulators who were more interested in pretending that power doesn't cost what it costs than in ensuring that the grid produces power. Voters love the idea of putting bureacrats in charge of prices, until the goods disappear from the market. Then they always seem to like the idea of having the government step in to offer the product at a "fair" price. I call it the DMV-ization of the economy, my favorite examples being Obamacare and public schools.

Source: Wall Street Journal, Insurance Companies Are Quietly Fleeing California (via DuckDuckGo search).

Cheap Delicacies

It's St. Patrick's Day, so I considered making a shepherd's pie. I ended up making jambalaya. Both of these dishes are alike in being cheap local to their point of origin, and rather expensive delicacies further afield. Shepherd's pie is made with lamb or mutton, which if you are a shepherd is the most readily available food; but if you are buying lamb in an American grocery store, it's not so very cheap at all.

Jambalaya meanwhile has shrimp in it (omitted in my version tonight), which is plucked free out of the bayou down where the stuff originated. Shrimp is a lot pricier in the mountains, and of dodgy quality if it isn't frozen. 

Lots of famous foods are like this. You can't even make Scottish haggis in America unless you buy and butcher a sheep. Otherwise it's just not legal to sell you the heart, stomach, and lungs for food consumption. American haggis is mostly made with beef liver instead. You can't get the real thing at any price, but it too was meant to be a cheap food for the locals where it originated.

The jambalaya I made was all dry or frozen ingredients piled into a pressure cooker, except for the liquid chicken stock and some cayenne. It came out pretty great, and preserved the quality of being cheap that was the actual point of the original dish. Recommended. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day

 I always feel like I ought to include some religious content, it being a feast day, so here's a prayer called "the Deer's Cry," or "St. Patrick's Breastplate." 

Here, after, is a Spotify playlist of St. Patrick's Day songs. 

This is the way

"Universal school choice is growing in popularity across the United States, with Florida becoming the fourth in the nation to pass such legislation in the past year. A similar bill was passed in Iowa last month." It's on the legislative agenda in this year's session in Texas. The state school monopoly may have pulled off one of the great boners in history in shutting down schools. If they had it to do over again, maybe they'd think of a way to avoid letting parents look over their kids' shoulders in ZOOM sessions.

Happy 20th Anniversary!

This afternoon Grim's Hall is 20 years old. 

Looking back, the very first post was a call not to censor even a radical "jihadist" with proven ties to terrorists -- so we used to say in those days, still in the wake of the 9/11 and on the very eve of the Iraq War. It does call for the infiltration of the audience as a means of using the radical speaker as a kind of flypaper to attract the genuinely dangerous youth. 

Both of those facets are still quite relevant twenty years on: free speech is under increasing attack as a way of counteracting radicals -- who turn out to be ourselves, and not the 'jihadists' we thought we would be concerned about. Meanwhile the government's shift of enemies from radical Islamists to old-fashioned Americans has caused the 'infiltration' strategy to shift to an actual construction of flypaper groups, organized and led by government informants. I do remember that Patriot Act opponents in those days warned us that these grand new powers would be turned against us; turns out they were right about every part of that.

A lot has changed since those days on the sunny slopes of long ago. Not all of the change was for the worse. Thank you for your company along the way. 

Farmers fight back

No thanks to the mainstream press, which mostly depicts the Dutch farmers as budding Nazis if they cover the protests at all, but here's a bit of good news. Dutch voters just rose up somewhat against the recent wokista attempts to destroy their country's food production.

Ruy Texeira published a plea this week for Democratic messages that avoid the usual crazy-as-a-rat-in-a-coffee-can tone and concentrate on positions ordinary voters can embrace without embarassment or revulsion. He didn't mention things like "let's not destroy either the power grid or food production, because that might starve a lot of poor people in the immediate future," but he did come up with some unusually non-repulsive arguments:
Equality of opportunity is a fundamental American principle; equality of outcome is not.
Racial achievement gaps are bad and we should seek to close them. However, they are not due just to racism and standards of high achievement should be maintained for people of all races.
No one is completely without bias, but calling all white people racists who benefit from white privilege and American society a white supremacist society is not right or fair.
People who want to live as a gender different from their biological sex should have that right. However, biological sex is real and spaces limited to biological women in areas like sports and prisons should be preserved. Medical treatments like drugs and surgery are serious interventions that should not be available on demand, especially for children.
Nah. Never happen.

The darling of clean-tech banking

While it's fun to lambast Silicon Valley Bank for having a risk manager who, shall we say, was focused in a less-than-helpful woke direction, Kimberley Strassel points out a more fact-based criticism of the bank's woke infection.
SVB was the lender of choice for tech dreamers. It claims to have banked nearly half of all U.S. venture-backed tech and healthcare startups. Yet in recent years those clients have skewed ever more in one direction. “We serve those creating positive environmental change,” SVB’s website brags, noting that the bank worked with some 1,550 companies in the “climate technology and sustainability sector.”
Most of these companies weren’t filling some vital market need. Rather, as the Journal reported, SVB was beloved for its willingness to offer “banking services to startups that often weren’t profitable, in some cases didn’t have a product, and would otherwise have a hard time getting a line of credit or a loan from a larger bank.” One tech entrepreneur provided law.com a more scathing description of SVB’s products: “They’re basically subprime business loans. You’re talking about companies that have no credit profile, they’re burning cash and are unlikely to raise the same type of capital because of interest rates. . . . It was basically social credit.”
Paywall issues? Try this link to a search page, which usually takes care of it. If you were willing to drop bucks on an online subscription, though, you could do worse than the OpEd page that employs both Ms. Strassel and Holman Jenkins.

Weirdness in Begging

I was in Asheville again yesterday, crossing east of the French Broad River as usual in support of my wife's artistic endeavors. While in town, two different leftist organizations approached me on the street to panhandle.... er, 'to seek donations,' as it is called when you are begging for your organization instead of yourself. The first one told me that she was collecting to try to feed some hungry children; I offered her the spare change I happened to have.

"We don't take cash," she said. 


"Most nongovernmental organizations have gone away from accepting cash," she replied. "This is for our own safety."

Well, maybe, but she was carrying an iPad in order to process electronic donations. That was worth a lot more than the change I was going to give her, as a mugger would certainly know. Later that afternoon an environmentalist activist stopped me to ask the same thing, and also refused to accept cash.

Beggars cannot be choosers (a fact better understood by the actual homeless, or the various buskers playing instruments around Asheville, neither of whom refuse change when offered). I wonder if it is not allied to the general attempt to switch from cash to electronic funds, though, as those offer greater centralized control of our wealth as well as visibility on where and how we spend it. Left-leaning organizations gently nudge us towards electronic money, and offer us in return perhaps the virtue signal of having a donation to the Nature Conservancy showing up on our monthly statement. 

Maybe it's just that they themselves want to collect our information so they can continue to dun us. A fistful of change, or even a $20 bill, is small potatoes compared to getting the credit card number and contact information of someone who proved willing to pay. 

I guess they'll say anything

H/t Powerline: Imagine the pretzels you'd need to twist your brain into to come out with a rationale like this:
Last month the California Energy Commission thus determined that the state needs Diablo Canyon [Nuclear] Power Plant through 2030 to ensure electricity reliability in the face of energy supply shortfalls during extreme weather events driven by climate change.
But hey, whatever gets them there, even if it's "nukes are the only path to a carbon-free future."

In other good news, Georgia has managed to spin up a new nuclear reactor. I suppose the next step is to replace the new reactor's unexpectedly successful staff with wokistas until everyone is sufficiently distracted by nonsense to let the thing melt down.

In the meantime, I suggest that everything that needs to get done be justified by stamping it with the message: "necessary in the face of shortfalls during extreme weather events driven by climate change." We may also wish to add ". . . and systemic marginalization of heteronormiacs." Troubled by the reasoning? "It's intuitively obvious even to the most casual observer." The explanation is left as an exercise for the reader.


A new recipe for baked potatoes from a new cookbook: slice them very thin, toss them in butter and rosemary, arrange them in a pan, and bake them at 375 for an hour and 20 minutes. They're all crunchy on top and soft underneath. The thinner they're sliced, the nicer the crinkly effect. They look like one of those beautiful open-faced apple tarts.

The recipe called for a mandoline, but I just used a very sharp knife.

Tennessee Waltz

This is a song with an impressive recording history, including multiple hit versions and covers by great names. The thing is, I don’t think there actually is a “Tennessee Waltz,” only a country music song that features one. I wonder what waltz the original author was thinking of here? 

Moody Blues

Moody’s just cut the entire US banking system’s rating to negative. 

Buy high, sell low

Banking isn't as mysterious as we make it out to be. Adam Kessler at the WSJ sums up Silicon Valley Bank neatly:
Management screwed up interest rates, underestimated customer withdrawals, hired the wrong people, and failed to sell equity. You’re really only allowed one mistake; more proved fatal.
In case you hit the WSJ paywall and can't hop over it by Googling "Who Killed Silicon Valley Bank?"--here's a longer excerpt:
In January 2020, SVB had $55 billion in customer deposits on its balance sheet. By the end of 2022, that number exploded to $186 billion....
... There was no way SVB was going to initiate $131 billion in new loans. So the bank put some of this new capital into higher-yielding long-term government bonds and $80 billion into 10-year mortgage-backed securities paying 1.5% instead of short-term Treasurys paying 0.25%.
... SVB got caught with its pants down as interest rates went up.
Everyone, except SVB management it seems, knew interest rates were heading up. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has been shouting this from the mountain tops. Yet SVB froze and kept business as usual, borrowing short-term from depositors and lending long-term, without any interest-rate hedging.
People deposited tons of money in SVB over the federally insured limit. Uninsured deposits should be treated like any other risky investment, which people with more than a quarter of a million dollars they need to park should be considered competent to manage by diversification and otherwise. Naturally, however, the regulatory geniuses responded to SVB's failure by insulating large depositors from any consequences of choosing a risky bank to invest in. Otherwise, wealthy depositors might panic. They might even start evaluating depository banks according to their inherent safety, which would distract everyone from banks' important functions, such as DIE, ESG, and parting bonuses for deserving employees. Why manage risk the old-fashioned way when the regulators will manage it for you by imposing a tax on other banks instead?

Apparently Cross Cultural?

The BB had an amusing video series on Californians who moved to Texas. Apparently that’s just as real a divide if you’re also Mexican. 

Still the King

This week was Bob Wills’ birthday. 

Some Friday Music

There is some good songwriting on display here.

Bluegrass covers of Simpson's existing music.

Jan. 6 Fact Sheet

From Julie Kelly.

Among the most disgusting claims about the January 6 riot is the notion that half a dozen officers were killed. One officer died the following day of a stroke, after suffering from pepper spray on the day of the riot. Several more officers committed suicide later. In contrast, four protesters died on the scene: one was shot by an officer and died immediately, while three others succumbed on the scene to some kind of violence that is less clear in the record. The official version seems to be that two died of heart attacks and the third from an overdose; the protester version is that the heart attacks could be attributed to excessive police force, while the third, an unarmed woman, was frankly clubbed to death. I am aware of at least one later protester who appears to have been hounded to suicide.

If the same standard of lethal causality were applied to the protesters as to the officers, the body count would be far different from what has been peddled by the powers that be for the last couple of years. For that matter, if the same standards of law and order were applied to the BLM and Antifa mayhem throughout 2020, the conviction count would alter drastically. It's hard to imagine a clearer example of "protesting while Republican."

The riot was a stain on conservative politics. The aftermath, especially this week's appalling attempt at censorship, is an even worse stain on this country's leadership, including most recently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. I've defended him for years, but I'm done. There can be no possible excuse for objecting to the airing of video evidence because it "contradicts" the way the police have chosen to "depict" the events. He has proved himself on a level with Senator Schumer.

Kudos to Jonathan Turley for continuing to point out the egregious Brady Rule violation of federal prosecutors in withholding exculpatory evidence for the last two years.

Women in Philosophy

The Cambridge Elements series on women in the history of philosophy is available for free download through the end of next week. They did a similar promotion a year or so ago, but at the time as I recall it was only part of the list that you could download. 

I think several of you would enjoy Early Christian Women by Dawn LaValle Norman of Australian Christian University. It raises an interesting claim about the introduction of these women to philosophy and its effect on how philosophy was anthropomorphized. Probably many of you have read Boethius' Consolation, and are familiar with his picture of Lady Philosophy. It was common to depict Philosophy as a sort-of goddess, sought through difficult and heroic adventures, or found in tragedy like Boethius. That conception was changed by the women who came into the practice: 
The personification of philosophy as a woman assumes that philosophers, her erotic desirers, are symbolically masculine. The binary of male lover–female beloved imagines that the target of such pleas are men who were inspired by the idea of choosing wisely between competing types of women. Yet in the third century CE, the Christian dialogue writer Methodius of Olympus reimagined the gendered relationships of allegorical females in educational ascent myths. Virtue, daughter of Philosophy, still dwelt on top of a mountain that was steep and dangerous. But instead of questing men who attempted to enter her secluded garden, educated women were invited to her garden party.
I can attest for the quality of at least one of the authors in this series, who is a dear friend of mine. I assume the others to be of similar quality. 

AI Illustrations

OpenAI, the same company that put out Chat GPT, also has an illustrator. I asked it to give me illustrations of the Elric the Barbarian story in the style of N. C. Wyeth. This is what it came up with.

"Elric the Barbarian," I suppose.

An older Elric.

These are obviously not anywhere near the quality of N. C. Wyeth illustrations, but they're good enough for a paperback cover. Hope you're not an illustrator, because you're out of work: there's no way a publisher will pay you hundreds or thousands of dollars when the job can be done 'well enough' for free.

Corruption is the Answer

This is an article with multiple significant insights about the problems of the moment. The conclusion is shocking to those of us from another era, but there may not be anything wrong with it.
Under conditions of bureaucratic dysfunction typical of a party-state, corruption isn’t a problem, it is the solution. 

That was certainly my experience living in China, a party state of the sort he is describing. I had the wrong kind of visa to be employed, but I had a job. I didn't worry about it; the man who got me the job was the same man who signed for my visa renewal. I've told the story about getting paid in China before (although if you don't remember reading it, you should: it's one of my better stories). It was many months after I'd been working before I saw any of my promised pay. The problem wasn't that they weren't going to keep their word about paying me, it was that they had to build out a slush fund first. Once they'd solved the practical problem of arranging a corrupt solution, they paid me every single thing they promised.

As our system becomes captured by interests basically hostile to the people and the nation, we are all going to end up having to adopt these ways. They are like the illicit economies that prisoners develop, as a means of escaping the control of the guard towers. They are, in a way, a moral duty to embrace: just as a prisoner of war has a duty to try to escape out of loyalty to the country of his birth, so too do we. 

"Elric the Barbarian"

So the third thing I asked Chat GPT to do -- as discussed in the immediately prior post -- was to write a short story in the manner of Robert E. Howard. Here is what it came up with.

The sun beat down on the dusty plains as Elric the barbarian rode towards the small village. He had been wandering for days, searching for a way to ease the restless fire that burned within him.

As he rode into the village, he could sense the tension in the air. The people were on edge, their eyes darting nervously at him as he passed by.

Ignoring their wary glances, Elric strode into the local inn, his hand resting on the hilt of his trusty broadsword. He knew he needed a stiff drink and a warm meal before he could continue his quest.

The innkeeper eyed him warily as he approached the bar. "What brings a man like you to these parts?" he asked, his voice trembling.

"I'm just passing through," Elric replied, his voice low and rumbling. "I need a meal and a place to rest."

The innkeeper nodded, his eyes flickering towards the door. "You best keep your wits about you," he warned. "There's trouble brewing in these parts."

Elric raised an eyebrow. "Trouble? What kind of trouble?"

The innkeeper leaned in close, his voice dropping to a whisper. "There's a group of bandits that have been raiding the nearby villages. They're ruthless, and they've already killed dozens of innocent people."

Elric's grip tightened on his sword. "I'll take care of them," he growled.

The innkeeper looked skeptical. "You're just one man," he said. "How do you plan to take on a group of bandits?"

Elric smiled grimly. "I've faced worse odds than this," he said. "And I've always come out on top."

With that, Elric left the inn and rode out towards the bandit's hideout. As he drew closer, he could see the flicker of torchlight and hear the sound of raucous laughter.

Elric drew his sword and charged towards the bandit's camp, his battle cry echoing across the plains. The bandits were caught off guard, and they fell quickly to Elric's mighty sword.

As the last of the bandits lay dying at his feet, Elric felt a sense of satisfaction. He had protected the innocent, and he had once again proved that he was the greatest warrior in the land.

With a fierce grin on his face, Elric rode off into the sunset, ready for whatever adventure lay ahead.

You can see elements that are right: the use of a fantasy-style name, the existence of swords, the attempt at dramatic tension leading to violent sword-based conflict. Nevertheless the story is terrible to the point of being ridiculous. 

REH's works are in the public domain, so Chat GPT presumably can access large parts of them and map them. However, creating writing requires more than  just getting a lot of the right words into the right order. 

My guess is that this means we are doomed to even worse popular art than we have been subjected to already. Autotune proved attractive to the recording industry even though it is terrible, obvious, and offensive to the ear. This was because it allowed pop music stars (which now includes contemporary Nashville country music) to be selected for physical looks rather than the ability to sing. Since there are a lot more pretty faces than talented singers, that allowed the recording studios to shift more of the profit to themselves and pay less to the "talent" that is no longer talented.

AI generated visual art is already starting to pop up everywhere, and is having a similar negative function. Actual artists used to be well-paid because their talents took years to develop. Now you can generate something good-enough for free just by plugging a description into somebody's AI. It's not going to be great art, or even good art, but it will have the right elements more-or-less.

I expect we'll see a similar shift to crap like this in screenplays, especially for episodic TV but even for movies. It's free, and all they want is a consumable product to bring in money -- money they get to keep, since they don't have to pay anyone who actually knows how to produce something of genuine value. As a result, our popular entertainment will become even worse than it already is. 

It's a depressing thought. 

Playing with Chat GPT

I had read a bit about this here and there, but was not planning on messing with these Large Language Model "AIs" myself. However, I was explicitly asked to do so by a professional contact who wanted me to evaluate them. I ran three, which produced significantly different results. 

One thing I asked it to do was to explain Aristotle's ethical theory. The answer it gave was plausible at about the college level, or even at the grad school level for people who weren't specialists. The mistakes it made are mistakes that even ethicists who haven't actually studied Aristotle closely might make: for example, it claimed that Aristotle's virtues are means between two extremes. I've heard even trained philosophers make that error, because it's very close to what Aristotle does say; it's just not quite right. I decided that wasn't a good test for Chat GPT, though, because it's too easy for the kind of model it is: if it's just mapping out what experts have said about Aristotle and regurgitating it in a slightly reordered format, that's what you'd expect. Actually understanding and being able to apply the knowledge, as humans do, that's hard. Chat GPT doesn't have to understand, it just has to know that there are very frequent connections between various words that imply that using those words together in the commonly-encountered order is correct.

So the next thing I asked it to do was to diagnose a problem with a 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that I just finished resolving. It involved a poltergeist-like failure of multiple electrical systems. The answer it gave was wrong but plausible: it started with the assumption that there could be multiple system failures and walked through how to diagnose possible issues with each in turn. In fact the problem was that the ECM had gone bad, which I told it. It said that was also a possible cause of the multiple failures I described, and said it was too complex for me to fix so I should take the Jeep to a shop. I told it the shop had refused the job because the ECM was discontinued, and therefore they couldn't get parts from an authorized source. It offered four ways to obtain a functional discontinued ECM, all of which were plausible, but cautioned me that it was too complex to try to fix without substantial technical knowledge. 

In fact, it was the easiest car repair I've ever done: I bought a refurbished one from Flagship One, and just dropped it in. You do have to know which numbers are the right ones so you order exactly the right thing, and you have to take care to have it programmed to the right VIN, which you can do yourself if you buy the diagnostic software from Alfa Romeo (the parent company of Jeep, these days). But FS1 will be happy to do it for you, if you send them your VIN. Once you get the right part there are only three bolts and three electrical connections. 

A plausible reason it might have been thought difficult, which Chat GPT did not mention when I asked why it thought the repair was difficult, is that the ECM is normally located against the firewall. Getting to it is already potentially a pain. This particular Jeep, however, has had it relocated to an easily-accessed space further forward. That's something Chat GPT couldn't possibly know, and didn't; but it didn't know that I ought to have worried about the firewall issue either.

So it was wrong on several points, but the answer was still useful if I had been someone who knew little about car repair. It's not terrible even with physical technology, because a lot has been published online in various help fora. 

The third example was actually terrible, though, so I'll post it separately.

Another Afghanistan Failure

The Marine Corps' snipers are some of the best-trained in the world. The psychological operations team described is a capacity I'm less familiar with; the USMC did not field PSYOP units until very recently. 

The real story here, though, is the fact that the command structure was in complete disarray.
On August 26, 2021, Vargas-Andrews was in position at HKIA when he noticed suspicious individuals outside the gate to the airport as thousands of people were attempting to flee Afghanistan as it fell to the Taliban, fearful for the future and what retribution anyone who'd helped American forces over the previous twenty years would face. 

"I requested engagement authority when my team leader was ready on the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System," Vargas-Andrews said, testifying in his personal capacity. "The response: leadership did not have the engagement authority for us — do not engage."

Vargas-Andrews said he requested that his battalion commander "come to the tower to see what we did. While we waited for him, psychological operations individuals came to our tower immediately and confirmed the suspect met the suicide bomber description," Vargas-Andrews recounted. When the battalion commander "eventually arrived," he was presented with the evidence and photos of two men, one who met the description of a suicide bomber. "Pointedly, we asked him for engagement authority and permission — we asked him if we could shoot," Vargas-Andrews told lawmakers. "Our battalion commander said, and I quote, 'I don't know.'"

"Myself and my team leader asked very harshly, 'Well, who does? Because this is your responsibility, sir," Vargas-Andrews explained. "He again replied he did not know but would find out. We received no update and never got our answer." 

I find it absolutely astonishing that a battalion commander of a unit deployed at war would neither have the authority to approve a self-defense shooting nor even know who did have it. This is the most basic chain-of-command issue: who is in charge?  

The story that has been emerging from the Afghan withdrawal continues to shock. These were professional military units with decades of combat experience, led by men and women who were educated and trained in what were once the finest military science programs in the world. Yet in every aspect of this story we see a complete failure to do even the most basic tasks: 

  • Plan an orderly retreat/retrograde. 
  • Secure and defend the appropriate facilities (for example, by holding Bagram as the final airhead, with its many heavy lift runways and secure perimeters, rather than withdrawing to a civilian airport with only one runway and a perimeter that let the enemy get within easy mortar range). 
  • Assign command authority with clear lines that everyone understands.
  • Evacuate American citizens from a crisis zone.

There were many other failures as well, but some of those could be put down to the exigencies of the crisis. These were issues we had the capacity to control. We had all the time we needed to plan, because we didn't have to go at all. The enemy couldn't force us out. We had plenty of time and force to choose and secure the right airbase -- in fact, it was already secure until we abandoned it. We had plenty of time to clarify chains of command. We had plenty of time to round up all the American citizens before it became a crisis.

There is no excuse.

Oldest-yet Odin Inscription

I’m not sure how newsworthy this is, because my source is my wife sending me a Facebook link. However, I hadn’t heard of it before now. 

That may be because it’s not exactly earth-shattering. It’s an older inscription than before, but in an area where younger inscriptions have been found. It was also supposed to be a challenging translation, which also means that there might be some doubts about it. 

Still, it’s a subject of discussion here. 

A Reflection on Presence


The Bobarosa Saloon

So today I rode out to the Bobarosa Saloon.

In fact everyone was perfectly nice. Armed society, polite society.

The exterior of the main bar.

Tree of shame by the French Broad River. Every time somebody loses a part, they use it to decorate.

"The Deplorables" is a crew of Vietnam Veteran bikers who meet there on Wednesday and Sundays. There's an on-site Vietnam memorial, pictured. The bar is extremely friendly to vets. Two of the bartender's sons are vets, one Army and one Navy.

They are not as friendly to politicians.

Main bar, interior. They also have a kitchen with a psychotic cook -- at least, her husband says she's psychotic.

Vietnam memorial by the river.

This is a good ride out US 70, also accessible by the Tennessee Foothills Parkway via a short jump on I-40. It's a long way from everywhere, but draws hundreds to more than a thousand bikers on a warm summer weekend. There's a motel and campground on site, so you can ride out there, stay for live music, and sleep off the cheap and mostly-American beer. $2.50 a bottle or can. "Froofy drinks" and imports are $3. Cash only.

Highly recommended for those of you who are the right kind of people to like it. You know who you are.