More Lies

The Firearms Policy Coalition is a fighting organization. 

If you include Americans under one, the leading cause of death is abortion. In fact, if unborn Americans count, abortion is the leading cause of death for all Americans. Heart disease is right around 700,000/year; abortion, per Guttmacher (which compiles its statistics through a direct count made by contacting all providers in the country) is over 960,000.

Just to keep the numbers consistent, there were about 48,000 gun deaths for all Americans in 2021, the vast majority of which were suicides rather than crimes or accidents. Accidental gun deaths are fairly rare these days, especially among children.

Riding Weather

Tomorrow we ride!

Well, one of us. 

An Ancient, Octagonal Sword

Found in Germany, it is extremely old.  

Come Off It, Washington Post

Today's attack on Americana is an attempt to tar the Gadsden flag by comparing it to... some other flag that nobody has used in a hundred and sixty-three years.

The rattlesnake motif, along with "Don't Tread on Me," have been widely used by Americans for various purposes over various years. My favorite version -- which is on my annual Independence Day post, the flag pictured on the right atop the sidebar -- is the flag of the Veteran's Exempt. These guys fought in the American Revolution under the Declaration of Independence. They were Americans under the Articles of Confederation. They were Americans under the Constitution. Then, as men too old to be drafted in the war of 1812, they volunteered and fought for the American project again. Nobody is more American than they were: to date, they are the only ones of all of us to have lived under all the American systems, and to have supported all of them.

It is also the only American flag to feature a skull and crossbones, which is particularly appropriate given the long connection of pirates and privateers to the success of our democratic ideals. This is likewise not popularly recognized by the elites of the nation, but it is so all the same.

A Materialist Looks at Chesterton

One does not expect to find an essay praising G. K. Chesterton that begins with this sort of assertion.
When you die — when these organized atoms that shimmer with fascination and feeling — disband into disorder to become unfeeling stardust once more, everything that filled your particular mind and its rosary of days with meaning will be gone too. From its particular vantage point, there will be no more meaning, for the point itself will have dissolved — there will only be other humans left, making meaning of their own lives, including any meaning they might make of the residue of yours.  
These are the thoughts coursing through this temporary constellation of consciousness as I pause at the lush mid-June dandelion at the foot of the hill on my morning run — the dandelion, now a fiesta of green where a season ago the small sun of its bloom had been, then the ethereal orb of its seeds, now long dispersed; the dandelion, existing for no better reason than do I, than do you — and no worse — by the same laws of physics beyond meaning: these clauses of exquisite precision punctuated by chance.

Nevertheless this is an essay that particularly appreciates Chesterton's insights into the wonder of the world. The author cites his autobiography, but ironically the admired thoughts are nowhere better expressed than in one especially astonishing chapter of Orthodoxy: "The Ethics of Elfland." I am likewise inclined to agree that the issues he addressed there have never been better described than by him, and that they are exactly as he says of fundamental importance.

Indeed the autobiographical quote the author pulls makes a lot of optimists and pessimists right after making the point of astonishment at natural beauty, a move that follows the narrative structure of Orthodoxy exactly. Chesterton goes right on from "The Ethics of Elfland" to "The Flag of the World." If the essay's author should wish to consider the issue both further and deeper, that work is the one to consult. 

Chesterton himself is thus described: "philosopher, impassioned early eugenics opponent, prolific author of several dozen books, several hundred poems and short stories, and several thousand essays." I think Chesterton himself might have lead with "Catholic" or "Christian," perhaps even with "lover and husband," but certainly it is pleasing to see his opposition to eugenics correctly recognized as deserving of praise. 

The Flag Code

Although part of the US Code, the Flag Code is a non-enforceable law because it lacks any sort of punishment. This happens more often than you might expect. A lot of laws governing the behavior of the government itself lack any sort of punitive clauses, so that -- for example -- if a government should conduct its election in an unconstitutional manner, there's just nothing to be done about it. The Flag Code is like that.

Nor was it any surprise to me to see articles to the effect the Biden Administration had violated it by presenting the Trans-* flag in the position of  honor in a vertical flag arrangement. I was more surprised by Forbes' claim that this wasn't a violation because, however the vertical flags were arranged, there was an American flag atop the building that was in an even more elevated position and that somehow saved the day.

Is Forbes right about that? They are not. The ordering of displays considers the display as a group, not the presence or absence of other flags that are not connected to the display. If I were to arrange a display of fifty national flags that put America's in the last place, the fact that there was a flag somewhere else nearby that was on a taller pole wouldn't have any bearing on my display's intent or effect.

The flagpole atop the building was not part of the group that made up this display, and thus is not relevant to the question. It is a permanent feature, whereas this display was arranged as a unit for a particular event at a particular time for a particular purpose. That is why the offending flags were always photographed together: they were a display meant to be seen together, to create their particular effect. Nobody noticed the flag pole twenty feet up because it wasn't part of the display or the event; it was just a permanent feature of the building. 

The fact is that the question never occurred to these people, for whom the matter is not even of idle interest and never has been. It never occurred to them that they shouldn't put the Trans-* flag at the center of the display, since that was of course the center of the event. It never occurred to them that the United States flag should not be displayed as supporters of the Trans-* flag, as the whole point of the event was in fact that the United States government was in support of the Trans-* movement. It makes perfect sense according to the symbolic logic of their actual system of beliefs, which just don't happen to be the same ones that were held by the earlier generation of Americans who wrote the Flag Code. They are not Americans in the same sense.

Buying Your Way Out of the Constitution

“This report makes it clear that the government continues to think it can buy its way out of constitutional protections using taxpayers’ own money," says Chris Baumohl, a law fellow at [Electronic Privacy Information Center].
That's a good line. It's a nice statement of the problem, which the article explores: the government has decided it needs no warrants for persistent, universal surveillance -- even of people never suspected of any crime -- just as long as it buys the data on the market. If your name ever comes up later, well, they'll already have a ready file with which to prosecute you. 

This Rescue Brought to You by the Number 8

I hadn't realized how many times the Number 8 comes up in this stuff. Just in rescue knots:

The Figure 8 On a Bight (aka "Figure 8 Double Loop")

The Figure 8 Follow Through (almost the same as the Figure 8 Bend, but tied with one rope as a hitch rather than as a means of joining two ropes, which is what a 'bend' is)

But wait, there's more! The rappelling descender of choice for distances of not more than 75-100 feet is "The Rescue 8," so called because of the rabbit-ear design that prevents the rope from slipping over the top of the larger 8 into a girth hitch (which we, in the old Boy Scout days, used to called the 'Lark's Head,' but which is also called a 'cow hitch').

A Rescue 8 descent device

I feel like I should put up one of those Sesame Street videos: "This Rescue brought to you by the letters E, M, S and the Number 8."

Heads must have rolled

Someone at Fox News must have been having fun with the Chyron machine. For nearly half a minute the fresh new post-Dominion-settlement face of the formerly conservative news outlet was marred by the statement "WANNABE DICTATOR SPEAKS AT THE WHITE HOUSE AFTER HAVING HIS POLITICAL RIVAL ARRESTED." Fox quickly reported that “the chyron was taken down immediately and was addressed.” I'll bet it was!

Who can forget the rogue teleprompter operators who got ditzy left coast news anchors to announce with a straight face the purported names of the pilots of the Asiana Flight 214, including "Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo"?

Make Way, Women!


A non-man attracted to non-men. While past definitions refer to ‘lesbian’ as a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to other women, this updated definition includes non-binary people who may also identify with the label.
I was going to link this to the old joke about the biker who realized that he was a lesbian, but he's actually still excluded from this definition. It's only males who aren't men who are now eligible to be lesbians. Women have to move over to make room for them, here as elsewhere. 

Red Balloon Work Ad seems worthwhile if you're looking for a non-woke work environment.

It could complement PublicSq, a site for shopping at businesses that align with more conservative values (or for selling, if you own such a business).

Update: Just because it's a good story about work, here's "Welding in the Desert."

A Maia on the Bed

Gandalf with halo. 

A Biography of Plato

We know little about the famous philosopher for certain, including whether or not he was ever enslaved -- or, if so, by whom:
Contrary to many people’s perception of him, Plato did not spend his entire life listening to Socrates philosophising in colonnades in Athens or writing dialogues meandering through complex ideas. He was once captured in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and put up for sale in a slave market....

The enslavement allegedly occurred while Plato was travelling home from Sicily in 384 BC. A number of ancient biographers claim that the philosopher boarded a ship with a Spartan who enslaved him on the orders of the tyrant of Syracuse, but Plato’s new biographer, Robin Waterfield, suggests it’s more likely that he was on board a merchant ship which caught the eye of pirates. The seas were full of marauders in this period and it is entirely possible that Plato sailed into treacherous waters. His luck changed after he was spotted in the market by an admirer who agreed to pay a ransom to secure his release.

Plato never mentioned any of this in his own writings, but then he rarely wrote about himself at all... Waterfield is reluctant to dismiss the episode of Plato’s capture as pure fallacy because the circumstances are credible and the chronology seems to fit with what we know of his movements.

Well, the story certainly isn't a fallacy because a fallacy is an error in logic, not an error of fact. That is on the reviewer, though, not the author. The author sounds like he's done a creditable job at constructing a history of Plato, which is a task well worth doing even if it is not always as exciting as the stories about Plato.