Can't Get Enough Outlaw Tunes


A Stroll in Downtown Asheville

This was from yesterday. That’s one block from the Mellow Mushroom, so I know where they were headed. 

Outlaw Songs

It's a fine Friday. We'll sing some good songs.


Sing It

A Federal judge knows some lyrics.
People have heard about the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas. They have heard about Sandy Hook, Parkland, the Pulse nightclub, and other tragic mass shootings. But they do not hear of the AR-15 used in Florida by a pregnant wife and mother to defend her family from two armed, hooded, and masked home intruders. As soon as the armed intruders entered the back door of her home they pistol-whipped her husband — fracturing his eye socket and sinus cavity. Then they grabbed the 11-year old daughter. The pregnant wife and mother was able to retrieve the family AR-15 from a bedroom and fire, killing one of the attackers while the other fled.

It does not require much imagination to think what would have happened next if the woman had lived in California and could not possess such a firearm. People do not remember the disabled 61 year-old man living alone on a 20-acre property in Florida with dense woods and a long dirt driveway. After the homeowner had gone to bed, three men armed with a shotgun, pistol, and BB gun invaded. One wore a “Jason” hockey mask. The disabled victim said he was awakened by a loud noise and grabbed the AR-15 laying near his bed. He saw the masked man and a second man coming toward him inside his home. Gunfire was exchanged. By the time police arrived, one attacker had run away, one lay wounded outside, and one was dead on the dining room floor. Police found the disabled man in his bedroom alive, but bleeding from a gunshot wound to the stomach. The AR-15 lay across his legs. Without his modern rifle, the victim would have become an evidence tag and a forgotten statistic.

People do not hear about the AR-15 used by a young man in Oklahoma to defend himself from three masked and armed home invaders clothed in black. The three intruders broke through a rear glass door. Though outnumbered, the homeowner put up a successful defense with his AR-15.People do not hear about the AR-15 that was needed when seven armed and masked men burst through a front door at 4:00 a.m. firing a gun. Outnumbered seven to one, it took the resident 30 rounds from his AR-15 to stop the attackers.

But he did, though. 

Populist Songs

VDH has a discussion of Oliver Anthony, the artist Douglas introduced us to just before he became a sensation.

After Anthony rails against high taxes, a worthless dollar, and ossified wages, he suddenly and strangely pivots both to Jeffrey Epstein—as the incarnation of the corrupt rich—and the subsidized morbidly obese as proof of the baleful effects of the entitlement industry on the poor. Variatio in themes and expression, as the ancients remind us, is the key to good prose and poetry, and Anthony’s song is anything but predictable in its targeting of both the masters of the universe and the welfare class.

That set of lines drew most of the wrath, but it makes a lot of sense. If the anger at the system is appropriate, as it certainly is, you should be able to show both that those who run the system are bad, and that those who are affected most by the system are harmed by it. The accusation is not that the poor on welfare are bad people, but that they are being actively harmed by the system that allegedly benefits them.

One libertarian critic, David Henderson, writing for the website Econlib, complained that Anthony doesn’t understand that “some rich people want to reduce the amount of power the government has over us.” Finally, another commentator on the right, Stephen Daisley, writing for The Spectator, penned an article that was subheaded “Roger Scruton would have thought this country hit was worthless.” The Scottish opinion journalist further groaned of the song’s lyrics, “That is dreck. Doggerel. Objectively bad writing. . . . ‘North of Richmond’ is a squall of hoary nostalgia and pedestrian populism.” Daisley apparently assumes that Anthony should have been a polished literary polemicist rather than a talented failure turned wildly successful singer who wrote from the underbelly of America—a vantage point quite different from Daisley’s own perch.

Well, it wasn't for them. It was for everybody else. 

For this particular elite, rural America’s assumed bias, racism, and sexism offer a tempting target for virtue-signaling, airy lectures, and self-righteous stereotyping. Through a near-medieval sort of exemption, elite progressives relieve the burdens of their own racial guilt by transferring the charge of supposedly unearned white “privilege” to those who rarely had any innate advantage at all.

This is the best insight of the piece. The fact is that working man's wages aren't less affected by these disastrous policies if they're white or if they're black. What he's angry about isn't the things that his critics would like him to be angry about. He's angry that the government is actively harming its citizens rather than actually helping them. It's a betrayal of the mutual loyalty that government is supposed to entail. 

Arguing in favor of that mutual loyalty is, for this elite, itself an affront. The idea that the American government should principally help Americans to prosper and live safe, meaningful lives is described in negative terms like "populist," "white supremacist" (though many Americans are not white, and would benefit right alongside those who are) and even "fascist." 

The concept is actually a necessary condition for any legitimate governance. Even in a feudal society, the king depends upon the knights who, in return for their establishment, keep the king in power. The knights depend upon the king, but also upon the people who farm the land. The knights provide protection in both directions, when the system is legitimate: they protect the king and his order, but also the people from bandits and predation. When that works ideally, the system has a kind of legitimacy.

Lately the idea has become fashionable among the elite that universality rather than loyalty is the mark of legitimacy. We should all live under the same rules, not favoring Americans more than Iranians or the People's Republic of China. That shows we aren't prejudiced, they say; and the fact that the Chinese or Iranian governments don't feel the same way (Iran still holds an annual "Death to America" day) just proves that we are the more evolved and better.

If that sounds like madness, it is. It's all bad philosophy. They read Kant, but they didn't grasp that Kant's attention to the universal didn't mean that he wouldn't believe that you owed more to your father than to any random stranger on the street. 

For those who still believe in bonds of honor, there's this song.

Worldwide Caution

The State Department today issued a worldwide alert for Americans traveling abroad. It's an Orange Alert worldwide; in the Middle East it's Red

The President's decision to hug Netanyahu for the cameras has put a target on the back of every American everywhere. I don't know if any of you are traveling abroad soon, but take care if you are. 

Amazingly, we're also sending "Gaza," meaning Hamas, a bunch of money.
The humanitarian assistance, along with $100 million in new U.S. funding for Gaza and the West Bank announced by Biden, could provide a critical lifeline to Palestinians in the besieged territory where water, food, fuel and medicine are in desperate need.

I suppose it could do that, like the six billion to Iran could have been used for "peaceful purposes."  It's been obvious for a long time that we are governed by fools, but it doesn't seem to get better as time goes along.

The Hermit Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Grim sent me scrambling off to learn what eremetic means, and I ran into this drawing of St. Seraphim of Sarov, which just seemed appropriate for the Hall.

He is said to have spent 25 years in the wilderness, although a wilderness near a monastery.

The Autumn and the Winter

An incredible photo from the mountains above Waynesville shows snow on the autumn color

The Evening and the Morning

Two shots from the same location today. 

A New Law of Nature

For a long time it's been clear that Darwinian Natural Selection and random mutation-based Evolution couldn't be the whole story. For one thing, progress is too quick for the process to be purely random; there has to be something informing what kinds of mutations arise, not just a brute-force extinction mechanism to wipe out nonadaptive ones. Likewise there are examples like the multiple evolutions of crabs (five separate times we know of). Something must be guiding the process along lines that make a kind of sense.

Today I see that scientists have proposed an answer to this problem. 

[N]ine scientists and philosophers on Monday proposed a new law of nature that includes the biological evolution described by Darwin as a vibrant example of a much broader phenomenon, one that appears at the level of atoms, minerals, planetary atmospheres, planets, stars and more.

It holds that complex natural systems evolve to states of greater patterning, diversity and complexity.

"We see evolution as a universal process that applies to numerous systems, both living and nonliving, that increase in diversity and patterning through time," said Carnegie Institution for Science mineralogist and astrobiologist Robert Hazen....

Titled the "law of increasing functional information," it holds that evolving systems, biological and non-biological, always form from numerous interacting building blocks like atoms or cells, and that processes exist - such as cellular mutation - that generate many different configurations. Evolution occurs, it holds, when these various configurations are subject to selection for useful functions.

It's going to take a while to see if this holds water, as is the way with the scientific method. The problem they're treating is real enough, though, so it's good to see them trying out a new theory.

There are a number of second and third order questions that will arise if it does. It's going to have implications for the Fermi Paradox, for example. Of greater interest to me, it has implications for panpsychism and other questions around 'the hard problem' of consciousness. 


Yesterday AVI had a post called "Mountains and Nature" that was, I think, allied with his series of posts about naturalism, vegetarianism, and the like being aligned with Germanic paganism and therefore nazism (of the real sort, not the MSNBC sort). In it he quite correctly argued that early Christians viewed the city as the model for heaven rather than the Wild -- think of St. Augustine's City of God

Mountains have not always been considered beautiful. The Psalmist says that he lifts up his eyes unto the hills, and only then asks, "From whence cometh my help?" He never says that the hills are where his help comes from.  That is an entirely modern interpretation, post Romanticism.  

It was the Romantics who believed that we learned about God through Nature. They had gotten the idea from Puritans and other NW European Protestants, who indirectly inherited it from the concept of Wyrd among the pagans of that region. I discussed that in detail in 2010. (Be warned.  It's a series) 

I commented yesterday in agreement, noting that the Medievals and even Tolkien had made much of the garden, but viewed forest and mountain with grave suspicion -- at best, as places for adventure and spiritual development; at worst, places for madmen and outlaws. Somewhere in between the spiritual and the mad lies the hermit/eremetic ("desert") tradition that is said to have given rise to monasticism, but the monks built gardens and not wildernesses: not even St. Francis did that. 

...wonderful places like Rivendell and Beorn's hall are kinds-of gardens 'on the edge of the Wild,' where travelers can rest and regain strength after a challenging passage through dangerous mountains and forests. Forests, especially Mirkwood but even the old forest right by the Shire, follow the medieval presentation of being dangerous, frightening places.

And so they are; I have been through the certification course for Wilderness Rescue, which comes up regularly out this way. People get lost, hurt, and need rescuing when they go into the wilderness: not every time, but all the time.

I had the opportunity to reflect on this discussion last night, when a Mountain Search and Rescue call went out for a lost hiker, with the weather coming on 35 degrees and humid. We were out past 2 AM doing tight grid searches in a region of mountain wilderness, replaced by others who searched until dawn when we returned for another round. The hiker was eventually found alive, cold and rather viciously scratched up by the thickets of rhododendron and thorn. 

One can say without question that Bilbo Baggins or the Arthurian knights would hardly have been the admirable figures they became without the testing hardship of the Wild. In Tolkien, too, there is a third mode available to the elf whose faerie-like ability to live with the Wild is something like the hermit's, a kind of sacred existence that embraces the genuine wilderness in a way ordinary people can not do. Clearly Tolkien presents his elves as being metaphysically closer to God, beings among whom the angelic maiar walk and even marry. Even the fairy wants for a higher-fairy bride!

It's the sort of place a man can love, though; and for some of us, who hate the cities, the Wild is a happier place. It does require much from a man, and is more difficult to love in the middle of a cold night in a thicket on a steep mountainside. Even then, it is not entirely without its joys. 

We did find a bear on that midnight search. He was above hip-high when sitting down, and not especially inclined to run as many of them are. Eventually, he let us continue our search without incident.

Student Life as a Con

In an article AVI linked from the New Criterion, there is an aside that happens to align with something I was thinking about myself recently.
In the university context, such an inquiry might explore why student debt has gone up from $300 billion in 2000 to $2 trillion today. The cop-out answer is that the $2 trillion of student debt went to pay for $2 trillion worth of lies about how great education is. In my view this reading is too generous. How much of that $2 trillion actually went to education as opposed to room and board? If you analyze the universities in economic terms, you might even conclude that the dorms and residences are the profit center driving an elaborate real-estate racket. And this is not to mention the web of offices and administrators tasked with overseeing not education but “student life.” Scale this model up, and you begin to understand why it’s so hard to exist outside of a big city in the United States—a vast country with swaths of empty space and lots of affordable housing—and why those deplorables who leave the reservation are viewed with such disdain.

When I was walking around the local university, with the very-nice-looking dorms with racy slogans in the windows, I was reflecting on how much the university experience has become a kind of con. Take out the student loans, and you get to start your adult life -- the first time you live away from home -- in a nice little apartment with excellent gym facilities, trash pick-up, plumbing and utilities included, nicely kept grounds, football games and other sporting events available, regular plays and a cheap/free cinema, etc., etc. Your introduction to adult life in America leads you to believe that this is what life is like.

Then you get out and you have to start paying those debts back. Cheap housing in the cities is increasingly impossible to find. Even outside the cities, AirBnB and other short-term rentals have made even small towns expensive places to live, if you can find rentable spaces at all. (Just try it in Jackson, WY -- or even out this way in one of the little towns like Cashiers or Sylva).

Can you get a job with that degree you got? Maybe, if you were savvy in choosing your major. If not, you can always go to grad school and try to get a doctorate so you can teach whatever it was -- for another six figures in student loans, that is, entering into a job market for Ph.D.s that often sees hundreds of applicants for every tenure track position. Nobody explains this to the prospective students, who are sold the line that 'if you choose to do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life.' That may be true in the ironic sense that you'll never find a job! 

Even for those who succeed in getting a white-collar position that pays reasonably well, it's going to be hard to recapture the quality of life that they became accustomed to in college life. Setting their expectations that campus life was what adult life is like -- and with all these attendant luxuries now, paid for by those ever-increasing fees they can charge because they are covered by student loans -- sets them up for disappointment, anger, and a lifelong load of debt that is functionally just another tax they have to pay to the government (who now owns all student loans).

The promises of the university are increasingly fraudulent. It's still possible to go to school and get a job and life a decent life that way, but only if you dodge the system they have set up for you and are very choosy about the parts you accept. The cost of even that successful model is also going to be a lot higher than anyone will explain to you.

Atholl Brose

Speaking of drinks and history, here is an article on a Scottish oat-milk-whiskey concoction with a folk tale background. Along the way you’ll learn a lot more about the history of mixed drinks. 

Self-Hate Embraces Hate

A British writer notes a long, appalling trend. 

La France

My associate in France — Cannes— sent this picture this morning:

They’ve deployed 7,000 soldiers to their streets following a stabbing attack. Infantry units are kind of “disproportionate” to a knife attack, unless you are following the technical use of the term (see comments here).