“Thank you for saving our House”

The nice lady who lived by the place that burned Monday brought me a cobbler and a very sweet note. I’m glad I was out at the time she brought it by, as I’m not always felicitous with such emotions. Still, I very much appreciate knowing that it meant something to her. 

Apropos of the Last

A hero even in California.

Arming Victims Changes Things

Kerry Slone, who describes herself as a victim of domestic violence, has a suggestion for those like herself.
A firearm represents a much bigger change in a woman’s ability to defend herself. Men can readily hurt women without a gun, and if a woman is already in physical contact with the attacker so that he can take away their gun, they are already in trouble.

The peer-reviewed research shows that murder rates decline when people carry concealed handguns, whether men or women. But a woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3 to 4 times more than a man doing the same.

I have been asked to train women in the use of handguns, when they've separated from a partner and become afraid of him. I did so gladly, even though I might have liked the guy and doubted that he would in fact pursue any sort of harm towards her. If he did not, as I suspected he would not, no harm would befall him; and if he did, well, then he had it coming. 

It's strange, I reflect, to live in an era that turns every piece of once-jovial intellectual property into a complaint by women against men -- Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Marvel comic movies, apparently even Barbie dolls -- yet dodges this simple, practical remedy for the worst sort of actual harm that men do to women. We festoon the complaint rather than solving it.

Victims who are armed aren't victims anymore. They are, to use the language of the complaint, transformed into active agents rather than passive patients. They can assert their will, defend their interests, not be harmed against consent. I might suggest to them that their friends, the real allies, are those who help you get there rather than those who commiserate in the complaint. 

Awful Local News

Three junior Marines dead in North Carolina. 

This was unexpected

The Hunter Biden plea deal is not quite dead, but it's not looking good, either.

A Crisis of Masculinity

There's a bit of a fuss over Politico hosting a 'masculinity' issue without actually asking any men to participate in it. I agree that this is prima facie an odd thing to do, but if you reflect for a moment there are two ways in which it makes sense. First, as my friend Shireen Qudosi argues, men and women exist in (necessary) relationship to each other. (She has thoughts on that necessary connection, too.) It would make a kind of sense to ask women for their independent perspective on how the relationship was going. 

Unfortunately, that wasn't why Politico did it. They did it for the other reason, which is worse: there is a dearth of scholars of masculinity because you could never get tenure in 'male studies.' There are 'women's studies' and 'gender studies' (which apparently never includes one of the major genders, per se unhyphenated males). There are feminists in history departments and literature departments and art departments who are tenured to write feminine-perspective studies of those things. No university on earth has a "masculine studies" program, partly because men are likely to regard that sort of thing as navel-gazing nonsense, and  partly because the whole academic society is hotly against it. 

So we are getting a perspective on masculinity from those who are hostile to it. This is familiar. The New York Times did a similar thing with chivalry, asking a lot of people who weren't chivalrous and didn't really have a notion of what the concept meant whether or not it was important. The Times at least found one person who had some actual relationship to the topic to ask, which is better than this project; he was just not ready to talk about it because he hadn't been asked to think much about it before, only to do it. Politico hasn't even got that, which makes the quality of their work dubious. 

I wrote a response to the Times series, but I don't think I'll write one for Politico. They're allied questions, since chivalry happens to reliably produce the best sort of men. It's not the only way, though: here is a purely religious alternative approach recommended by my cousin the (female) physician. That sufficiently maps out the issue, which is that good men can do a lot of good, and bad men a lot of harm. It's really important to get this right, but our scholars aren't worried about it because they've decided that rising in their social class is more important -- and that requires talking up the hostile-to-the-alleged-patriarchy feminist perspective, and utterly dismissing alternative views (beginning with questioning whether this country in any sense constitutes a 'patriarchy'). 

As Texan99 once put it, since she's a woman anything she does must be feminine. Mutatis mutandis, anything I or any man does must be in some sense masculine. There may be special goods that only good fathers can provide, or good husbands, or good men; or it may only be that there are goods they are more likely to provide. It seems like the maleness is a given, though; the real issue is developing the virtues of masculinity, rather than the masculinity itself. Now that's something I've written a lot about already, and a question that continues to matter year after year.

A Quiet Afternoon

So today, after the weekend of intense rescue training, I intended to take a day off from firefighting and rest up.

As we were driving to the store, not even a half mile from home, I looked over and saw a big fire through the trees. I went running over after I jumped out of the truck and found a building that was so completely engulfed with rolling flames that I couldn't see any part of it. All I could see was the shape of a building, made out of fire.

I got back to my truck and a neighbor lady was saying that she was going to call 911, so instead of doing that I drove as fast as I could to the Fire Station and got my gear. I passed the fire engine on the way -- they'd just been paged off her call -- so I changed into my turnout gear and went back. I got there almost the same time as the truck, was handed one of the attack hoses, and fought the fire on the rear of the house.

We fought that fire for quite a while before any other stations arrived to back us up. After a while, though, there were enough of them that another crew could relieve us. By then we'd knocked down the worst of it.

I told you all of that to tell you this: after we were relieved, some EMTs who had responded were assigned to check the attack team's pulse, blood pressure, and other vitals. The lady who was trying to check mine couldn't get a blood pressure reading because my upper arm was too big. She then shifted to my lower arm. She still couldn't get a blood pressure reading because my lower arm was too big. 

She asked her partner if they had a bigger cuff, and he said no. I replied, "No worries, ma'am. After hearing you say that my arms are too big to get a blood pressure reading, I'll be just fine. I'll be walking on air all afternoon."

She just rolled her eyes and said, "Oh my God. Firefighters."


Without being a Larry Summers fan, I thought he got the boot as Harvard's president under ridiculous circumstances. In this Bari Weiss interview about the future of legacy admission, Summers makes sensible points about the purpose of an elite university's admission process while avoiding several fashionable types of arrant nonsense. Mostly he seems to consider questions like: Should we care whether a student is self-motivated or simply allowing his over-involved parents to stuff his resume with expensive baubles? Does an applicant's history of overcoming adversity tell us how much he'll benefit from a challenging university curriculum? Do we trust ourselves to detect intellectual talent any more, or have we decided that we can teach calculus to a horse if we purify our politics sufficiently? If elitist topics like calculus aren't the point any more, then why not simply mail the diploma to anyone who asks for it, to level the playing field? OK, he doesn't ask those questions exactly, but his thoughts are tempting him into these dangerous heresies.

A question that caught my eye was whether the people paying a fortune in Harvard tuition legitimately expected their little darlings to get the whole Harvard experience, the most important part of which is developing a good rolodex in preparation for a life of nepotistic privilege. Not that I can't see the practical value of such an approach, but it meshes poorly with the image of Harvard as social justice warrior.