High Adventure

It is often hard to know if you've saved someone's life. I don’t always know with these search and rescue missions if we actually did save the people, just that they were alive when we put them on the ambulance; or, in other cases, if they were really in deadly danger. Mostly they're tourists and you never hear about them again, so you don't know how it went one way or the other.

That wasn't true today. This guy was succumbing to hypothermia when we got there, with a broken foot at the bottom of the second waterfall deep in a gorge. He was soaked to the bone because he fell in the river, and at three hundred pounds he was not coming out of there. His family knew where he was, but all of them together couldn't have brought him out. It was in the forties and more cold rain was falling.

The trails were precipices, slick with mud and sometimes so narrow that only one foot could step on it, with nothing but the gorge and the waterfall on the other side. It took hours to get him out, with ropes and pulleys and main strength, two feet at a time the whole way up. Then we had to carry him about a mile. That was as close as an ATV could get to where he had fallen, because for all that long distance the trails were too bad for one to travel.

He'll be ok now. A broken foot isn't that big a deal, not once you're safe and warm in a hospital instead of at the bottom of a cold, wet gorge. This time I know we brought somebody home. 

Active lies

A HotAir article reports on Vanity Fair's discovery of a mildly encouraging trend at the New York Times, to resist woke staff's demands for censorship and cancellation of their colleagues. The reasoning is odd, though.

The editorial staff correctly asserts that the accurate reporting of facts cannot be presumed to create a "hostile workplace." Next, it assumes that the woke crowd is really objecting to expert journalistic decisions from upper management. Management then makes the wild and unsupported leap of equating its journalistic decisions with fidelity to facts. It goes on to strike an even weirder note by asserting that objecting to the accurate reporting of facts is "activism," which it will not tolerate. The conclusion is that the NYT can allow debate over journalistic controversies, but must prohibit attacks on the "journalism" of colleagues.

This is very confused. All journalists should pursue accuracy whether or not they're also activists. A partisan journalist might report nothing but true facts, then inject a lot of opinion in the service of activism, as long as the opinion is clearly identified as such. This approach need not be particularly balanced or fair: a partisan might also choose to dwell only on the (true) facts and issues that support his cause, but he need not publish lies if he understands at all the duty of honesty. Once a writer jettisons the need for accuracy and values only the success of his cause, however, he abandons journalism for propaganda. What's more, he is the lowest sort of propagandist: not just a selective partisan but a deliberate liar.

I suspect that NYT management correctly appraises its partisan reporters as habitually dishonest. It's not a big problem for management, however, unless management disagrees with the rank and file over whether their particular form of dishonesty serves management's overaraching journalistic goals, which are every bit as partisan as those of the most crazed junior staff. Similarly, the junior staff aren't agitating to force management to be more truthful, only to agree with them more closely on which truths must be suppressed, and how viciously the group will excommunicate anyone who steps out of line.

This is how you get mainstream newsrooms--and presidential administrations--arguing with a straight face for the censorship of facts, not because they are untrue, but because knowledge of them might have a "dangerous" effect on the behavior of the unwashed masses. As always, it puts me in mind of Screwtape's advice to his nephew, the junior tempter, always to advise his target to "believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason."

Carl Schmitt

AVI links to a piece about Carl Schmitt, who might or might not be described as an important 20th century political philosopher. AVI says he hadn't encountered him before, and that is not surprising: I don't recall a single one of my philosophy professors ever saying his name or referring us to a reading of anything he wrote, not even the ones who apologized for Heidegger and included his work. Heidegger was an important 20th century philosopher who was also a devoted Nazi; Schmitt was a devoted Nazi who also engaged in philosophy (but more importantly to his own career, in law of a sort -- another devotee of the idea that 'legal' and 'lawful' might come apart, perhaps). 

The article AVI links ends up making both cases: that he was an important philosopher, because his ideas were influential in his lifetime and have become important in ours due to being picked up by contemporary totalitarians in China and across the worldwide authoritarian Left; and that he was not, because he was never able to escape from the legacy of Hobbes that he meant to criticize. 

I think there's ultimately some good philosophical advice about how to handle Schmitt at the end:
It should be no wonder, then, why despairing conservatives in the West might see echoes of Schmitt’s ideas in action everywhere, and then to logically look to him for understanding. And they absolutely should read him, just as they should read the cutting analyses of Marx. But, just as when reading Marx, they’d best do so while maintaining a very healthy wariness about his prescriptions...

It’s possible they would be better off listening, as Schmitt might have, to Ernst Jünger. He despised totalitarianism (and in particular “the Munich version – the shallowest of them all”) as the worst manifestation of liberal modernity, a force capable only of turning men into soulless automatons. Like his estranged friend, Jünger would also ask himself during the war what one could “advise a man, especially a simple man, to do in order to extricate himself from the conformity that is constantly being produced by technology?” In contrast to Schmitt, the answer Jünger, an atheist, eventually settled on was: “Only prayer.” For, “In situations that can cause the cleverest of us to fail and the bravest of us to look for avenues of escape, we occasionally see someone who quietly recognizes the right thing to do and does good. You can be sure that is a man who prays.”
Schmitt's legal theories end up setting aside law in favor of power. The author is correct that this is also the position of many on the authoritarian Left today. The shift to a 'friend/enemy dynamic' instead of traditional American politics has intensified (which AVI often calls tribalism).

He is also correct that the rule by permanent emergency is becoming a feature that our government, and not only ours, cannot seem to walk away from. Witness Justin Trudeau in Canada, who set aside everything of Canadian civil liberties by embracing emergency powers that would allow him to freeze the bank accounts of citizens on suspicion alone. Thereby he forbade them from participating in the market, buying or selling even basic goods, making mortgage payments -- all for the unproven 'crime' of having made donations to a lawful charity approved for such donations by his own government.

So I agree the article is worth reading, and Schmitt as well. I also agree that it is crucial not to lose sight of the transcendent and the divine while you do so. Or, as Nietzsche warned, "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." 

Abyssus abyssum invocat. Beware.


With a hat tip to D29, a new book analyzes the election of 2020 with some care. The author is careful, for example, not to focus only on the one side of things: the book has chapters on fraud claims that obviously proved false, such as the 'Kraken' claims. The author is also careful to say that the Biden administration was the legal winner... just not the credible winner.

If you follow the third link, you'll find several excepts that give one claim each from each of the swing states. Some of them are pretty explosive even after all this time. I'll give just one of those, and leave you to read the rest if you find it intriguing. It's from Georgia, the one of these states I know best.

The number of unsupportable ballots found for [Atlanta's Fulton] county is forty-five times larger than Biden’s margin of victory for the entire state. Here are just five of the 15 findings:

  1. Although it takes one second to scan a ballot, there are over 4,000 ballots with precisely the same timestamp -- to the second. Not possible.
  2. 16,034 mail-in ballot authentication (sha) files were added several days after scanning. Also impossible.
  3. There are no ballot images to support 17,724 final certified recount presidential votes.
  4. There are no images to support 374,128 “certified” in-person votes, which is a violation of both federal and Georgia law.
  5. 132,284 mail-in ballot images have no authentication files.

I assume the author's description of Biden as the "legal" winner is an attempt to stay out of jail by warding off, say, an FBI investigation into himself. I notice that he identifies several law violations even in just the article excerpts. That certainly sounds like a lawless election to me, from which therefore there could be no lawful winner. 

I suppose it is no surprise that a nation that can no longer define the difference between a man and a woman also makes fuzzy distinctions between lawful and legal

Expert Advice

It would be a shame if a government shutdown were to cause us to have to do without such sage advice from expert professionals.

WARNO: Grim’s Hall 20th Anniversary Celebration

According to my calculations, St. Patrick’s Day of this year will mark the first full day of Grim’s Hall’s third decade. This happens to be a Friday, and St. Patrick’s Day. Prepare appropriately. 


If I become Empress of all the Known Worlds, I'd like this to be my private office.

Unthinkable but Inevitable

Many times in life, physical forces make inevitable a thing that human beings find unthinkable. Some things are unthinkable because they don't seem logical, but reality doesn't obey strict logic (as physical objects are unique and logical objects are alike by kind). Other times the consequences of the thing are so horrible that the mind refuses to think about it. Yet there can come a point at which that thing, however impossible to consider, is no longer avoidable. The ship is going to sink, and nothing can save it now.

I think all this talk about a 'national divorce' is close to that category. Not for ordinary people; many and almost most of us not only can think about it, we can see the value of it. 
...we’re almost certainly talking about somewhere between 100 and 150 million Americans who think it’s entirely possible the country may need to be split into red/blue sections or alternately, who expect a civil war to crank up. In other words, we’re not talking about a few cranks here. This is a mainstream belief, and it seems entirely possible that we could reach a MAJORITY of Americans that would like to see the country split up in the next few years.
The advantages of the Union are so powerfully compelling to the establishment, though, that neither party can entertain the thought. They can't talk about it as something that might really happen; and because they control the conventional levers of power, they think that settles the matter.

It doesn't, though. At some point if trends continue, the decision will be made without the government... in spite of the government... to put an end to the government. That does not necessarily entail violence. The government in Washington may continue to meet, but it will no longer rule because people will no longer obey -- and no power exists that can compel 330 million people to obey a power they no longer recognize.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the matter is inevitable yet, but it's getting closer to becoming so. If people in power are serious about avoiding this they need to start thinking.


Yesterday was the 80th birthday of one of the more memorable cartoon songs.

Smartphones, Social Media, and the Youth

I have observed several discussions about this subject led by some of you. I want to think about it in terms of the danger to military recruitment of a youth that seems increasingly to be struggling with mental illness (as well as obesity and drug use). This, then, is what we used to call a 'bleg,' i.e. a request by a blogger for links and information. What are your favorite pieces on these issues, which make and defend what you consider to be the most important points? 

Tuesday Morning Blues

 Albert King with a young Stevie Ray Vaughn back in 1983


Alec Baldwin blew it big time when he carelessly shot his camerawoman on set, and shouldn't get kid-glove treatment just because he's a rich, powerful Hollywood celebrity. Still, "enhancing" his criminal charges because a firearm was involved looks to me like prosecutorial game-playing.

We add firearms enhancements to other criminal charges on the theory that a firearm provides a criminal with a visible threat to use again his victims, and that its use converts an only moderately dangerous criminal enterprise into a deliberately deadly one. That reasoning shouldn't apply to an actor who is holding firearm as a prop on a film set. The prosecution hasn't argued that Baldwin intended to hurt the camerawoman, only that the gun had been negligently handled by a group of people that included Baldwin, partly because he should have checked it personally before pointing it at anyone, and partly because he was a principal in the production, rather than a mere actor with no effective control over safety procedures on the set. There was no alleged separate criminal enterprise for the firearm to enhance. I'm satisfied, therefore, to see the "firearms enhancement" charge dropped.

Mashed turnips

We found a Palestinian cookbook with a recipe for mashed turnips with greens, onions, and feta cheese. We added the bacon on general principles.