Fire, Water, Wind

We had a wildfire up Caney Fork about five miles yesterday, one of several fires in the area. All the resources were tied up so we only got one helicopter drop. We did the rest the hard way. 

Today began our annual recertification training on emergency vehicle driving. Tonight was the nighttime road course in the high mountains. Tomorrow is the obstacle course in pouring rain and high winds. 

It’s an adventurous life. 

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.

UPDATE: According to criminal defense lawyer Toni Messina over at Above the Law, it was originally New York Judge Sol Wachtler who said that “If a district attorney wanted, a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.” According to the Wikipedia page "Ham Sandwich," in the cultural impact section, this sentence was then quoted by author Tom Wolfe in his novel, Bonfire of the Vanities.

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.

UPDATE: James thinks the heat map graph is overly dramatic. The data can be presented in ways that make it look less emphatic.

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.