Rodeo Riding

Unexpectedly, the Washington Post writes an in-depth piece about one of the great rodeo riders of our day. 
From under a black felt cowboy hat, hair blacker than coffee runs to the collar of his black shirt. The impression of severity is relieved by blue eyes the color of his jeans and a smile crease from the habit of grinning around a Marlboro. It’s an arresting face, burnished by years of outdoor chores, smoke, roistering humor and pain soothed by shots of Jägermeister. It befits arguably the greatest rodeo bull rider who ever lived and certainly the hardest-bodied, a man who never conceded to any power. Until a bull broke his neck.

“I always knew something like this was going to have to happen,” he says.

Indeed. Every rodeo rider knows something like this is a constant danger.  

The Post deserves some credit for this one. It's a pretty good piece. There is some fulminating in the middle about whether or not rodeo is cruel or should be allowed to exist, given that there is no practical reason for anyone to ride bulls -- and limited need, these days, to break horses. Ultimately, though, raising that concern probably just lets readers of that persuasion feel like their perspective is understood, and allows them to engage with a moving story about a courageous man who loved to ride hard and now has to leave it behind. 

Except for the bull, that is. He took the bull home, where it lives a life befitting a retired rodeo star.

Petra


By the great Stoney Edwards, he followed Charley Pride’s success and made this song a hit in 1973. 

Who Are You?

Daniel C. Dennett died today at the age of 82. His work on intentionality -- by which he meant the inside-your-mind view of yourself, as well as the supposition you take about other people's -- was widely discussed in his own lifetime. The second of those links, to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, will lead you to believe that this is a relatively new field for philosophy, heavily influenced by the philosophy of language.

In fact, however, the basic work is Aristotelian, and the major figure not even mentioned in the SEP article is the Medieval churchman and philosopher* Peter Abelard. By coincidence it's also the subject of an essay sent by Dad29, written by James V. Schall of the Society of Jesus.
At least four famous, not-often-enough-repeated Aristotelian questions can be asked of any given thing when we try to figure out what and why it is. They are: 1) “What is it?” – a tree, a rabbit, a planet? 2) “Is it?” That is, does it exist rather than not exist? Does it stand outside of nothingness? 3) Who or what put it into motion or into being? 4) “Why is it in existence?” What is the reason for which it now exists?

Of human beings, we can add a further question: “Who are you?” That is, each of us has a particular, singular, unrepeatable existence unlike any other being that ever existed, but we are still human. Each human “what” is a “you.”
This is actually a very surprising thing for Aristotelian philosophy, because the basic explanation of things is that they are matter put into a particular form. Yet no matter how precisely similar the form is -- twins were well known in antiquity, but it is true also of clones -- the two objects end up having a completely different inner sense. Intentionality is how you try to predict how other people will behave, but it also entails a recognition that they are beings with their own perspective, which you then try to judge.

It's a topic much too vast to cover in a blog post, but if you're interested in it we can go through some of the writings about it in more detail. In any case, requiescat in pace Dr. Dennett.

* Probably the most famous thing about Peter Abelard is that he was castrated by an angry uncle who didn't appreciate his relations with his niece Heloise, who also went on to become an important figure in the church and in letters. He relates the story (noting that the law blinded and castrated also the uncle and his kinsmen) in the Historia Calamitatum, i.e., 'The Story of my Calamities.' 

The Army has a Navy?

Possibly not a great one. The mission to build a floating pier off Gaza isn't going well Beege Welborn hopes it will be at least a helpful wake-up call.
What this exercise attempting to cross the Atlantic has proven is that we may not need tankers. Our poorly maintained and continually neglected naval vessels, be they Navy or Army, may not be capable of making it to the conflict to begin with.
If someone watching this circus unfold wakes the hell up realizing we are in one hell of a self-inflicted hurt locker and starts to yank chains to immediately effect change?
Then, this crackpot pier idea will be that blessing in disguise.

Home on the Mountain

I have returned to my mountain fastness, after an exhausting near-week in Vegas. 

The spring has advanced rapidly in my absence. When I left on Saturday, the trees were showing signs of green buds; now everything is busting and blooming. 

UFC

One of the things I’m doing out here is visiting with the UFC.

View from the VIP gallery.

They Sure Have Pretty Sunsets

The one thing that isn’t fake in this town is the beautiful Mojave sky. This was taken by the roller coaster in the same casino with the bar mentioned below. 

Coyote Ugly

Everything in Vegas is fake, but this is a special case of fake. Coyote Ugly is a fake Vegas version of a fake Hollywood version of a fake New York City version of a Texas Honky-Tonk. I went in just to see it, which required a ID check even though I could not possibly be underage, and then being wanded by a bouncer with a metal detector. This was amusing given that the crowd struck me as wholly unthreatening children, but I suppose it is part of the act. 

It really was dressed up like the kind of place I’d like if it were real. There was an Indian Motorcycles neon sign, and the walls were decorated with old saddles, Jack Daniels signs, and cowboy hats which were in turn decorated with abandoned bras. 

I had the one beer and then left. The bouncer asked me if I had gotten my hand stamped so I could get back in later. I said I wouldn’t be back. He said he’d remember me if I changed my mind. I’m sure he will, and I’m sure I won’t. 

Las Vegas

The weather is nice in the Mojave right now. I’m in town for a few days on business, if any of you happen to be out this way. 

The worst place on Earth.

My Mother Writes

She was looking through old papers today, and…
...I came across a letter written by your 4 year old preschool teacher. It said you had hit a boy named John. You told her that sometimes John hit you first but not that day. You said you only meant to give him a little muscle but you had eaten all your spinach and you hit him instead.
She said she doubted that I had eaten any spinach. I said you ought to give a boy who admitted that he hit first credit for being a straight-shooter. 

A Reverse for Liberty

Unfortunately the undesirable compromise seems to have emerged. Apparently part of the compromise was reducing the term of the renewal from five years to two, so that Trump could potentially sit on the next renewal as President. I assume that means that the fortifiers of democracy are fairly certain that the election can be stolen fortified; but perhaps they’re simply desperate to keep the power to spy warrantlessly on the people through the election. 

More Lies and Dictatorial Actions

A chief item of the long-held desiridata of the gun control movement has been to 'close the gun-show loophole,' which we have discussed here many times. It's intended as a backdoor way of preventing anyone from transferring a firearm without going through the Federal government, which would open the door to Federal registries and confiscatory measures. Congress has often discussed it, lo and for decades, but has never done it. 

Since no democratically legitimate effort to pass such a law has proven possible, the Biden administration has simply issued a 'final rule' pretending that such a law was on the books all along.
The rules clarify who is required to conduct background checks and aims to close what is known as the “gun show loophole” — which refers to the reality that gun-show sellers and online vendors are subject to much looser federal regulations than vendors who sell at bricks-and-mortar stores.
That is not and has never been the least bit true, but the media reliably claims that it is true in order to justify the gun control it wants. In fact, sellers have had the same regulations whether or not they were selling at a gun show; if they were in the business of selling guns, they had to do the background checks. If they weren't, they didn't whether they sold a gun at a show or anywhere else. Now, they pretend that the law requires pretty much anyone who wants to sell a gun to obtain a Federal Firearms License (an expensive prospect) and also to conduct background checks. 

More to come, Biden promises in a festival of lies intended to justify such things. Some of the lies are his; mostly, again, they're the media lying to frame his remarks for him. 

A Victory for Liberty

I won't go so far as to say that it was an act of political virtue or wisdom, but it's a win for American liberty all the same. Hopefully no compromises emerge, and FISA/702 goes away forever. 

Throw me in that briar patch

I can only be amused by the prospect of young people with absurd notions of effective public policy announcing that they're going to give the finger to all us old jerks by declining to vote this fall. That'll teach us to have bequeathed them a world in which the government doesn't supply all their daily needs.

Baby child, you just go right ahead and finish up that 10-year degree in Self-Actualization. Under no circumstances produce anything of value to others in order to procure the kind of unfair perks your elders lucked into. Never run for office or support anyone who does. That's society's job.

A Western Story

Everybody knows that John B. Stetson invented the famous version of the American cowboy hat, but even I had never heard until today who invented the famous version of the cowboy boot. In the spirit of the story about Walgreens' in the Prohibition post, here's a corporate history of that company.

I don't own a pair of cowboy boots right now, but I wore out a measure of them back when I rode horses a lot. It's a style that seems ostentatious at first, but every apparently ostentatious aspect ends up having a practical ground. The high heel keeps your foot in the stirrup so they don't slip out the front of it. The pointed toes let it slip in and out from the back side easily, simplifying mounting and reducing the hazard of dismounting (especially when it is done without the rider being the one who intended it). The elaborate stitching stiffens the leather, letting it stand up tall against thorns and other hazards. 

On the occasion, here's a piece by Molly Tuttle, a young singer of Western tunes. 

This was NPR

This self-critical view from the inside is going around today. It's always good to see people reflecting on themselves in this way, and I hesitate to criticize it. Plenty of people will do that. I am just glad to see an attempt at honest self-reflection here. 

Bottom Scandal of the Year

With everything wrong with education, I would think this scandal wouldn't merit an article. "Over $100" was spent for a dubious purpose? Seven dollars and twenty-seven cents over, in fact. I haven't seen a grocery bill that low in several years now.

I realize there's a generalized opposition to teaching kids about sex, especially 'alternative' sexualities; but these are young adults, college students, and there's got to be a point at which you let them do adult things. 

As for the instructor being the author of "pornographic stories, including at least one story involving a graphic description of gang rape," we read Last Exit to Brooklyn in high school. I obviously haven't read this story to compare them, but the novel is both infamous for that very thing and also normally assigned by literature departments. If you want to address that problem, the place to start isn't with the $100 thing. 

National Beer Day

Apparently the day after National Tartan Day is National Beer Day, which I didn't find out about in time to celebrate the holiday. It marks the end of Prohibition in 1933.


Recognizing that some people have legitimate difficulties with alcohol, and that there is therefore legitimate concern about it among some, the end of Prohibition also represents a triumph of human liberty. It represents the first failure of the Progressive government-by-the-regulatory-state-for-your-own-good model that continues to bedevil us to this day. 

Also, like similar more recent events, plenty of loopholes were baked in to allow the favored classes to continue to do what they wanted. ["Of course you can ignore these stay-at-home orders, which we assure you are absolutely necessary to save lives, provided you're protesting racism."] Prohibition was about telling the little guy that he couldn't have a beer after work. Those who could afford doctors willing to write them prescriptions, or who owned wineries, or who could claim 'sacramental' use, were allowed to carry on.

That prescription model gave rise to one of the most successful drug store chains in America, by the way, which boomed as it realized that it could provide ordinary people (at least in major cities) access to doctors who would write them that prescription. Just as certain major firms in Boston don't admit to the origins of their fortune in rum or slave ships, that 'family secret' isn't well known and certainly not trumpeted. 

By the way, if you happen to be one of those with concerns about alcohol, the original article discusses the rising popularity of non-alcoholic beer. I drank a lot of that when I could get by the DFACs in Iraq, due to General Order #1 (a sort-of second Prohibition for the working soldier). Guinness has one now, which I haven't tried due to the lack of Prohibition around here. The original article also notes the continuing difficulties faced by a certain beer can sold in a blue container, which is down 28% year-over-year.

The Declaration of Arbroath


Today is National Tartan Day, and more importantly the anniversary of one of humanity’s greatest political documents. The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter submitted in Latin to the Pope, protesting his support of English claims on Scottish independence. Along the way, the knights and barons declared that, while they accepted Robert the Bruce as their divinely-appointed king, they would throw him out and choose another if he failed to protect their rights. 
From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.

May it ever be so.  

Le Morte d'Arthur

My dearest friend in the world, to say the least about her that can be said, told me last night that she has a cancer that has spread to her bones. You may recall that I wrote an Arthurian novel; it was dedicated to her. Starting tomorrow and for five days, which is as long as Amazon will allow it, it will be available for free on Kindle in the hope that more people will know her name. 

There will be no comments on this post.

To Help Your Friends and Harm Your Enemies

Most people who have only read one thing Plato wrote -- or, more likely, excerpts from one thing -- read the Republic. It is without question the most famous of Plato's works, though very far from his best. Plato himself obviously wasn't satisfied with it, as he reprised the subject at much greater length in the Laws (on which I have written a commentary that you can find on the sidebar).

One of the more famous passages of this most famous dialogue has to do with the definition of justice. The antagonist in the dialogue, an aggressive man named Glaucon, gives what must have been the standard definition of the term. This was what Plato wanted to argue against, after all, so he sets up the most plausible definition in the popular sense of the time in the mouth of Socrates' opponent. 

Socrates: And what is that which justice gives, and to whom?

Glaucon: If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the preceding instances, then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.

The justice of that proposition must have been self-evident in ancient times. Your friends help you, so you should help them. Your enemies seek to harm you, so seeking their harm is the 'turnabout' that the proverb states is fair play. 

What could be more just than to do to others as they do to you? From the Christian input into our society, we have two model answers: the Silver and Golden rules. The first is "Do not do unto others that which you hate," which we have from the Book of Tobias; the latter is "Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you," which we have from Jesus himself. Both of these set aside the actions you have received as important considerations. 

It isn't obvious why we should set that aside, though, other than that it comes as instruction from Jesus. Prudentially, the fact that someone is your enemy seems like an important consideration in how you treat with them. It may mark out an ideal of excellence to dispose of the matter as unimportant and to do what you would want them to do for you instead; but you might get knifed, depending on just how seriously they take their enmity.  Raymond Llull risked his life as a martyr having laid down the knightly sword of his youth to try his hand at the peaceful conversion of Muslims in Islamic Tunis, and maybe that's the saintly path. Perhaps it is more for older men, or unmarried ones: husbands and fathers may choose to imperil their souls to save their wives and children.

I'm thinking about this today because of two pieces I read, one from the NYT and one from Protein Wisdom
Its members refer to it as the Axis of Resistance.... The Axis of Resistance includes Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other groups, and both its strategy and its tactics have long been radical. The official slogan of the Houthis — the Yemen-based group that has attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea — includes “death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews,” for example.
Emphasis added. These people are our declared enemies, which either is or is not an important consideration. Against it being so are the authority of Jesus and the arguments of Plato; in favor of it being so is natural prudence and the fact that Plato's arguments are terrible, leading to an endorsement of totalitarian government and an elitism that would eliminate natural families in order to preserve itself. 

Longtime readers understand my position, which is that in matters of war we do what we must and trust in the forgiveness we are promised. Greg, who is not actually welcome here but keeps coming around anyway, raises the just and defensible point that this does not live up to the standard set in the Sermon from the Mount. 

It does not. As Martin Luther, I sin boldly as a proof of my faith in the promised forgiveness. I think we should, as a rule, help our friends; and sometimes I think we must, however disinclined to the business we may be, harm our enemies. 

Frankly, I'm not even especially disinclined to it. This is the sort of revenge that was said, in the recent discussion of Aquinas, to be good because it aims at justice. And justice, as Glaucon said, is very plausibly helping your friends and -- at least sometimes -- harming your enemies. May our trespasses be forgiven, and let us forgive them theirs once they can no longer harm us, but sometimes in this world there is little wiser than to do unto others as they intend to do unto you. 

If you can do more kindly by them, I think that's wonderful. Sometimes, however, you just can't; and as Kant said, 'ought implies can.' 

Addendum to Last

Charles H included a link to a story about how John Prine contributed to the songwriting of the perfect country-Western song. Along the way it makes the point that Coe started as a folksinger, working with pieces much lighter and gentler in character than the Outlaw songs that would later become famous. It claims that "what might be the most underrated song of his career [is] the sweet and harmonious 'Jody Like a Melody.'"

I'd never heard it before. It really is quite nice. 

The Mask of Fame

Ed Driscoll over at Instapundit links a post celebrating Charley Pride, America's real first black country superstar. Charley Pride was so famous he scored a mention in David Allan Coe's most famous hit song, as part of Coe's strategy of name-dropping more famous acts in the hope that they'd return the favor. The song was actually written by Steve Goodman, who was therefore playfully mocking his friend Coe, who returned the favor by improving the song and then recording it himself. In any case it was a great moment when a white singer from the South was only too happy to liken himself to a black singer in the same genre; all forgotten now

Along the way Ed mentions that album we were talking about in the recent post "A Vagueness Problem." One of the songs on it turns out to be a re-imagining of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," which Dolly had said she had hoped young Beyoncé might record. 

As little as I know about the young singer, I knew she wasn't going to record "Jolene." I don't know a single one of her songs, but I read the newspaper enough to understand the persona she affects. The persona she pretends to is often described as a "Queen," and there was no way she would sing a song built on humility like "Jolene." That song is a frank confession by a young woman to another that she is far more beautiful than the first, and a plea -- "I'm begging you" -- not to steal the man she loves. There is simply no way that could be made coherent with the persona that is the real product being sold here. 

Naturally this had to be 'reimagined' as a dominant snarl. "I'm begging you" was re-written to "I'm warning you," the first of several threats: "Your peace depends on how you move, Jolene," culminating with "I know I’m a queen, Jolene/ I’m still a Creole banjee b**** from Louisianne (Don’t try me)."

It's obvious why Dolly Parton would want a mega-act to re-record her song, for which she was given full writing credit even though she clearly wouldn't have written any of that. It's the same reason she wanted Elvis to record another of her hits, and the same reason she eventually turned him down: royalties. She was in talks with Elvis to record her "I will always love you" until his manager pointed out that he would demand half the publishing on that song, not just his version but any version. Dolly Parton making money is not a problem for anyone, I trust: she will doubtless use those royalties as she has used others to provide for the poor people in the Appalachian community she comes from herself. 

Still, it would have been better if someone had suggested a Loretta Lynn tune. The young lady could have done that one without having to drop the mask of fame, without having dared to express another part of herself that would have destroyed her product line.

"Our Democracy" not Democratic

On the subject of a 'terrifying' result from a Rasmussen survey, we learn that the crosstabs identify a major disconnect between elites and actual democracy.
Earlier this year, pollster Scott Rasmussen asked voters a simple question: “Would you rather have your candidate win by cheating or lose by playing fair?”

The answers he got back were, as he put it in a Daily Signal podcast last week, “the most terrifying poll result I’ve ever seen.”

Among all Americans, just 7% said they would want their candidate to win by cheating. As Rasmussen put it, he’d rather see that number lower, but that’s not bad.

But more than a third of the elite 1% he surveyed would condone cheating. And among those who are “politically obsessed” – meaning that they talk about politics every day – that number shot up to 69%.

They go on to list several other views that this group espouses at rates quite at odds with ordinary Americans. 

  •  Nearly 60% say there is too much individual freedom in America – double the rate of all Americans.
  • More than two-thirds (67%) favor rationing of energy and food to combat the threat of “climate change.”
  • Nearly three-quarters (70%) of the elites trust the government to “do the right thing most of the time.”
  • More than two-thirds (67%) say teachers and other educational professionals should decide what children are taught rather than letting parents decide.
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are financially better off than before COVID, compared with 20% of the general public.
Now, democracy -- rule of the many -- is often said on the right to be a corrupt form of government (following Aristotle, wisely) because it allows the majority to override the rights or interests of the minority. However, a democrat would at least admit that a view held by only a minority should not govern. 

Here we see majorities of the 1% differing from the majority of the 99%, which means that the 'general public' view is the one with democratic legitimacy. Yet the same 1% are disproportionately likely to be fine with cheating in order to see their undemocratic view enacted on the majority, especially those who are interested in politics. 

Whatever that view is, it is not democratic. 

Young Men and Women Drifting Apart

Politically, at least, but it can be hard to make a home with someone whose politics you hate.
People in 27 European countries were asked whether they agreed that “advancing women’s and girls’ rights has gone too far because it threatens men’s and boys’ opportunities.” Unsurprisingly, men were more likely to concur than women. Notably, though, young men were more anti-feminist than older men, contradicting the popular notion that each generation is more liberal than the previous one. 
We always used to joke in those old days that the war between men and women would never be won, because there was too much fraternizing with the enemy. Now it sounds like there's a lot less fraternizing. 
In America... Generation Z (typically defined as those born between the late 1990s and early 2000s) have their first romantic relationship years later than did Millennials (born between 1980 and the late 1990s) or Generation X (born in the decade or so to 1980), and are more likely to feel lonely. Also, Gen Z women, unlike older women, are dramatically more likely than their male peers to describe themselves as LGBT (31% to 16%). 

I think partly the reason older men are less anti-feminist is because older men grew up with a better sort of feminism. The "Society for Cutting Up Men" existed in the 1970s, but it was a fringe: mostly women wanted what they plausibly referred to as equality. What young feminists want now is not equality but equity, meaning 'our side deserves more.' That's a different proposition. Apparently it's even worse in Europe. 

Not all male grumbles are groundless. In some countries, divorce courts tend to favour the mother in child custody disputes. In others, pension rules are skewed. Men enter the labour market earlier and die younger, but the retirement age for women in rich countries is on average slightly lower. In Poland it is five years lower, so a Polish man can expect to work three times longer than he will live post-retirement, while for a Polish woman, the ratio is 1.4, notes Michał Gulczyński of Bocconi University. This strikes many men as unfair. Mateusz, the Polish fireman, recalls when a left-wing lawmaker was asked if she was so keen on equal rights, what about equalising the pension age? “She changed the subject,” he scoffs.

We don't do that here, but it is true here that women go to college and grad school more often, enjoy careers in comfortable settings more often, earn more on average in the younger generation (due, presumably, to those education advantages), live longer, and enjoy a consumer society that is built to cater to them because women control the lion's share of spending decisions -- 85%, in fact, if these numbers are right. Men commit suicide more, suffer from every form of violent crime more, go to prison more -- at 90%, even more disproportionately than women control how the money is spent -- and are more likely to work in physically demanding jobs that pay less. Meanwhile, however, if you are a man who wanted to compete for the comfortable jobs with women -- an academic professorship, say -- you'll be facing a formal system that intends to ensure that she has advantages in the selection process. 

It seems like some sort of rough equality has already been reached, and now the conversation for the younger generation is about how much 'equity' is acceptable to those who end up on the short end. It was easier for us older folks to go along, even if there was grumbling, because the fairness of 'equality' was more evident than is the fairness of the current push for 'equity.' 

UPDATE: This analysis puts the 'Gender War Scorecard' at a 66/34 female victory, but has also built out a Google sheet that lets you weight the different factors yourself as you prefer. (The writer is definitely a male.) If you're inclined to play with it, you can see what you come up with in terms of how close to 'equality' we are, and how close to 'how much equity is this going to take?' we are.

One thing that's not on our lists is mental health, which varies both by sex and by ideology. That may be an important factor in one's perception of one's well-being. The original article offers some examples of paranoia that seems to be inculcated by social media, which may be making the female experience phenomenologically unpleasant even as it may be empirically privileged. Liberal women experience the largest share of mental ill-health (over 50% of liberal white women under 30 in that study were diagnosed with a mental health disorder). Thus, this same political trend in young women towards liberalism that is dividing them from the men may also be heightening the problem of making them feel oppressed even if they are empirically doing ok. 

Historical Medieval Battles

YouTuber Sensei Seth (whom I've never heard of before) visits Carolina Carnage, which he claims is the biggest Buhurt (from the Old French béhourd, meaning joust or tournament) tournament in the US.

England vs. USA, 2018

150 vs 150 Battle of the Nations

Devil May Care

Language warning on this one, from North Carolina’s own River (formerly “Sarah”) Shook. Shook is a very common name in these mountains. 


Live version after the jump.

Atlanta had Major Irregularities in 2020

Fulton County Election Board member Mark Wingate's testimony doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know: there were more voters registered in Fulton County than the whole population of the county, the mail-in ballots were totally unsecured, there were never chain of custody documents as required by law, video surveillance of the outdoor drop boxes didn't exist, etc., etc. 

The absentee ballot signature matching was nonfunctional and that legal requirement was simply set aside, which we knew was a problem because the lawsuits back in 2020 drew the line at any actual signature matching being done in any audits. 

Estimated dodgy ballots in that county? About a hundred thousand. The margin of victory, allegedly, was 11,779.

Inculcating Virtue

The College Fix posts this approvingly because these officials are rejecting the designation of a peaceful student protest group as 'terrorist.' That part is right -- chalking sidewalks or walls is not plausibly terrorism -- but notice the reasoning why.
She told The Fix that START’s portrayal of pro-lifers does not resemble how the DHS typically views “radicalization” in any political camp.

“We didn’t have a great definition, so we wanted to clear it up, what we were trying to prevent, which was violent thought,” she said. An act of “vandalism” by college students would not have been a concern, she told The Fix.

There is no legitimate government activity that entails "we were trying to prevent... thought." It doesn't matter what goes in the ellipsis. 

Universities in particular should be places that encourage thought, and then arrange encounters of poor thinking with better thinking. Ideas should not be suppressed but engaged, and the better and more truth-bearing ideas will win out. 

Some encounters can produce thought that is violent or angry in a righteous way, as today's post by D29 points out. If you follow the discussion to the original documents -- Aquinas and Aristotle -- you will find that the object of righteous anger is revenge, which, Aquinas says: 

...is a desire for something good: since revenge belongs to justice. Therefore the object of anger is good.

Now you can go wrong with anger, as Aquinas and Aristotle both warn, because it is a spur to action and yet also an impediment to reason. You have to get the reason right in order to measure the revenge taken against the full interests of justice, both in terms of the scale of the revenge and the means taken to exact revenge. Getting the reason right is hard, but necessary if there is to be a just and virtuous act.

In order to be able to do that, you need to practice thinking in cases when you are angry and, yes, even inclined to violence. Violent thought is important to practice getting right, which means it mustn't be stopped. It needs engagement and training, so that justice can flourish. Indeed, Aristotle holds that such anger is produced by one's excellence: it is one's virtuous attachment to justice that provokes anger when injustice is encountered. 

...it is our duty both to feel sympathy and pity for unmerited distress, and to feel indignation at unmerited prosperity; for whatever is undeserved is unjust, and that is why we ascribe indignation even to the gods.... All these feelings are associated with the same type of moral character. And their contraries are associated with the contrary type; the man who is delighted by others' misfortunes is identical with the man who envies others' prosperity. 

There is a great deal of value here, but you don't develop virtuous citizens by defanging them. You only get virtuous citizens by training and educating them to use their natures well and wisely. That requires practice, even -- especially! -- practicing the dangerous things. 

Charley Crockett


Charley Crockett -- yes, a relation of Davy Crockett -- is another of the young singers bringing good new music. In fact he sings both kinds of music.



Disloyalty

Nurse Practitioners at Fort Stewart, home of the 3rd Infantry Division, have been notified that they’re all being broken a full pay grade. 
“Defense Health Agency at Fort Stewart just announced to all Nurse Practitioners (NP) that they will all be downgraded from GS-13 to GS-12. Many of these NPs are veterans and/or spouses. According to the Winn Army Community Hospital Commander, they did not meet the requirement to continuing receiving the GS-13 compensation they were initially hired on receive. They do not know when it will be effective, they refuse to answer questions regarding the pay of others. It’s not their money, so they don’t care. Expect the availability of PCMs for veterans, spouses, and their families to decrease drastically as these NPs search for jobs with loyal employers.”

Congress just gave the TSA a pay raise, but nurses serving our military? 

Are 78% of Americans racist extremists?

The AP lards this story with scare quotes from the Bad Orange Man, but it can't quite obscure the poll results:
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 45% of Americans described the [border] situation as a crisis, while another 32% said it was a major problem.
So 77% of poll respondents think the border is somewhere between a major problem and a crisis. The AP's take is that this is a result of Trump's illegitimate rhetoric's beginning to "resonate" outside his "base." Even those awful Hispanics on the border, and those awful Chicago Democrats, are objecting. And Gov. Abbott's "publicity stunt" of sending north a tiny fraction of the illegal immigrants has begun to be viewed by faithless progressives as straining local budgets so close to them as to be impossible to ignore any longer. As long as it was just tiny Eagle Pass, Texas, who cares.

Biden-Mart

As political rhetoric goes, this is one of the more clever things I've seen.

H/t Dad29.

Wanted: Knights Templars

Formally the Church still has knightly orders. It has long ago lost heart for using them, however. We could benefit from the restoration of an order designed to protect the faithful and the order of worship. 

One must defend a space for the sacred, for thought and prayer. Raymond Llull, one of the most important of all Christian philosophers, also authored a book of knighthood that explains the importance of the institution. Knights are not less necessary than priests, for without security there is little capacity for contemplation of the divine nor for carrying out the sacraments. Lk. 22:36-8 instructs us that no less than disciples should bear swords even if they need to sell their coats to buy them. 

The greening of the cross

Easter

A happy Easter to all of you. 

A Johnny Silverhand

A "Johnny Silverhand" with a Chile de Arbol garnish

My son is 21 years old, and enjoys a video game called Cyberpunk 2077. (I explained to him that the original game was a paper-and-pencil tabletop game called Cyberpunk 2020, but the years got too advanced to keep up the fantasy.) One of the main characters in the game is named Johnny Silverhand because of his artificial arm; he is variously described as a rebel, a rocker, and the terrorist who set off a nuclear weapon inside the corporate headquarters of an evil international megacorporation. The game entails an interesting exploration of the question of whether such terrorism is always wrong or, in certain cases, an acceptable means of resistance against tyrannical powers. 

In any case, Silverhand is famous enough that he has an in-game drink named after him. It's a sort-of Tequila Old Fashioned, served with a chili garnish. I've never been a cocktail drinker -- straight whiskey's the thing for me if I want something hard -- but I accepted the one he made for me. It was pretty good. Towards the end, the tequila had leeched out enough of the capsaicin from the Arbol to make it a little spicy. 

The Beacons are Lit

We were warned this morning that the wildland fire preparedness level was raised to 4, our of 5 total, because of low relative humidity and the lack of rain. Sure enough, about midmorning the county next to us called us out for mutual aid on a fire in the Nantahala National Forest on Indian Creek. Because our fire district is also mostly national forest, getting from here to there meant taking big fire engines and tankers across high mountains using twisty roads. 

In the old days in Iraq I used to amuse myself, going outside the wire in body armor to face enemies in what then seemed to be to be a noble cause, about the similarity between what we were doing and the Arthurian knights riding out seeking adventure. (I was not alone in having fondness for this sort of imagery.) There's something similar at work in grabbing your fire fighting personal protection equipment, jumping in a heavy truck, and barreling down the mountain roads to help neighbors in need. I was reminded of the beacons that Tolkien references, which were indeed important features in Anglo-Saxon England: a series of costal beacons summoned aid in times of Viking raids.

Today it was my honor to ride with the oldest of our active firefighters, whose years of experience allowed him to plunge that fire engine into curves on steep descents with a confidence the youth could only envy. It takes skill approaching mastery to do that. Those roads are no racetracks, neither designed nor properly banked for speed, nor carefully maintained. No, they're no better than mule trails that were never properly banked at all, indifferently paved by the lowest bidder, and barely maintained even in good years. I have a great deal of admiration for this man, who is at least a decade older than me but is even more active in coming to calls. 

I had meant to do some work around the property today, probably cutting firewood for next winter, but I didn't get to it. Oh, well. This was a worthy way to spend a Saturday such as this one. 

More Destructive Bureaucracy

In my own field, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering a proposed new rule that would greatly impact fire departments. While there is an alleged exemption for volunteer departments, the way the wording of the rule is structured it's not at all clear who (if anyone) would really be exempt. 

If you want to comment on the rule, you can do so here. I submitted a comment to the effect that any new rules are inappropriate at this time, as resources are strained across the board already by economic conditions and the effort to absorb migrants who impose costs but don't add to the tax base. I can't imagine a rule-making agency will be persuaded to stop making rules for a few years to let the economy catch up, but it's crazy to keep imposing regulatory costs on top of existing ones while the economy is struggling. 

They will doubtless do it anyway. It's a one-way ratchet. 

Destructive Bureaucracy

It is a commonplace that every act of creation is also an act of destruction, because you have to change what is into what you're trying to make instead. Sometimes the destruction outweighs the creative act. A regular violator is the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

In the nearby town of Waynesville, a promised highway project made much of the local real estate unsaleable and, as it drug on for years without issue, caused a whole side of town to fall into disrepair. The project was eventually put on indefinite hold. Another local highway has been undergoing traffic-stopping construction for years in order to install a bicycle lane that no one will use, because the NCDOT has decided it likes bicycle lanes. 

Another project, just now getting underway, is going to gut the nearby town of Sylva. The entire town is against the project, and has been engaged in recriminations over how it was allowed to happen. It's already destroyed numerous beloved local businesses, and will wreck the town for years before anything can be rebuilt because of all the road construction. This is to install a "superstreet" which will have, yes, bicycle lanes as well as bus stops (for a bus service that doesn't really exist in the small rural community; there's a shuttle service for seniors, but not buses).

The editor of the Sylva Herald went back through his archives to try to figure out who was at fault. His determination? All the local leaders opposed doing this, and were vocal about not wanting to widen the road for years. NCDOT is doing it anyway. "Superstreets are in vogue and NCDOT, pretty much an uncaring bureaucracy, brought out the cookie cutter to plop down another one."

A lot of people complain about the Federal government, and it's usually warranted; but the state governments are just as bad. 

Dominic Frisby

No doubt I'll be on another list by morning.


Beware -- there's more far right comedy below the jump.

I'll just bet he did

An Israeli hostage describes her surprisingly clear-thinking abuser's worries:
The Times report doesn't offer any more detail about the assult but says that Soussana offered a lot more detail during the 8 hours the paper interviewed her. After it was over, her captor apologized and begged her not to tell Israel about what he had done.

The Way We See Heaven

 


Professions of Faith

I see via Dad29 that there's been some controversy over the use of the phrase "Christ is King." 

The piece has a video by Andrew Klavan, who is a Christian by conversion from Judiasm. He's making a much more reasonable point in the video than the pull quote suggests: not that saying "Christ is King" is anti-Semitic, but that anecdotally he's been welcomed by all the Christians he knows except the ones who tend to hang on that phrase. Maybe that's true. He says the priest who converted him warned him that Christians wouldn't really accept him, but that they broadly have done so anyway. That's what I'd expect: how can you be 'fishers of men' if you're always throwing them back?

Definitely I've come to realize that there's a whole lot more anti-Semitism than I ever believed since October 7th. I always thought the Jews were just making the mistake we all make in thinking that other people are thinking about us much more than they are; in fact, people are usually thinking about themselves and probably aren't thinking about you at all. That said, it's been clear since Hamas started its latest round of war that there are a lot of people thinking about, and hating, Jews.

On the other hand, I think our society needs to recommit itself on freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech. I believe several things that would probably be insulting to people of other faiths: for example, I believe that Muhammad was a false prophet and just made the whole thing up in order to advance his personal interest; I believe the same thing about Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. I am likewise pretty sure that Wicca was invented out of whole cloth and its founding stories to the contrary are made up. I think Southern Baptists are outright wrong in their theologically indefensible opposition to wine. 

However, I don't oppose you being a Mormon or a Muslim or a Baptist or a Wiccan, and as such I support your right to make whatever declarations go along with that faith. I support you in your practicing the faith that you believe in, and if there are any Muslims reading today I wish you a happy Ramadan. It's not the purpose of my beliefs to insult yours; I just happen to have come to the conclusions I have about these things. I'm free to think what I want and believe what I want and say what I want, and I think it's important as a free man and a philosopher to do so honestly. 

So if you believe that Christ is King, you ought to get to say so. Other people can think whatever they want.

Hens Strike to Protest the Death of Feminism

Since the death of the rooster that my wife thought was harassing the hens with too much sex, the hens are not laying any more eggs. I assume they'll resume at some point -- they don't require a rooster to generate eggs, and usually it's light levels that most affect them on this point. Spring is here, so light levels are increasing; but the egg production, which was as high as 11 a day when the rooster was still about, has dropped to zero. 

The irony of this amuses me, and I didn't need 11 eggs a day anyway. Still, I hope they'll get back to laying a reasonable number soon. Eggs are expensive, and a good source of protein. 

Wrestler Awarded for Heroism

A wrestler who saved his friend from a grizzly bear attack -- himself being mauled in the process -- has received an award for his heroism.

“I grabbed and yanked him hard by the ear,” said Cummings, a native of Evanston, Wyoming.

Cummings successfully got the bear’s attention. Backing up as the predator reared up toward him, he described the sensation of the bear’s putrid breath filling his nostrils and himself with a sense of dread.

Cummings described how the bear charged at him with surprising speed, immediately knocking him to the ground. After a short while in the grip of jaws, the bear left him. Cummings’ thoughts were not on his own injuries, but rather that the bear would attack Lowry again. It was when he stood up to look for his teammate that the bear attacked again.

“I called out to Brady to make sure he was alright and I think the bear heard me,” Cummings said. “It kind of circled around and got me again.”

The bear eventually stopped its attack, and Cummings lay still for a few minutes after, hoping to avoid a third encounter.

When it was clear the grizzly had gone, Cummings said he got up and rejoined Lowry. 

Grizzly attacks are usually thus: the bears are surprised and displeased, and often leave once they think the threat has been eliminated.  It can go differently if the bear is sick or hungry, or of course if it is a female with cubs. 

A Benefit Concert

Oliver Anthony (of "Rich Men North of Richmond" fame) is putting on a benefit concert in Hopewell, VA, on Easter Sunday. Here's the description:

Every dollar earned through ticket sales and donations from this Easter Sunday's show in Hopewell, VA will go toward Beacon Hill Church’s food outreach program. 

This church feeds around 400 Hopewell residents every week. 

Instead of them supporting the church, city officials decided instead to try to stop them from doing it. 

Dear city officials, if it pleases the crown, might we help feed the people you have forgotten about? 

This has all been made possible by the Lord above. I can't think of a more important day to have a show like this  than Easter Sunday.

If any of you happen to be in the area, you may wish to attend. 

Update on Crime Rate Post

Douglas points out in the comments to the post below on crime rates that some major police agencies stopped reporting during the COVID period, which can skew things. You can get to the data here if you're interested; it looks to me like NYC is still not reporting, because the New York police agencies who participated only represent 4 million New Yorkers, and NYPD would cover far more than that by itself.

Given that most American murder is a hyper-local problem -- it's a problem in certain neighborhoods of certain cities, one of which is NYC -- the exclusion of one of the major cities could be skewing the numbers significantly. 

Men, Our Secret is Out

My wife sent me this. 


Also today she had me kill the last rooster because she thought he was harassing the hens for sex too much. I rechristened him “Feminism” before I gave him the axe, as he was an instance of a male literally being killed to make life easier on females. She didn’t appreciate the humor, nor the irony of my declaring “Feminism is dead!” after I finished her appointed task. 

Feminism is currently being made into stew. Feminism is stewing, you might say. 

UPDATE: The shambles of Feminism made an excellent New Mexican Green Chile Chicken stew for lunch. I therefore can sincerely say, "Thank you, Feminism."

A Mead-incidence

My first batch of mead. I started this Thursday and didn't have time to post until today, only to see Grim had already posted on mead making.

I only did one gallon since this is a bit experimental. It should be ready to bottle in 2-3 months, if all goes well. For this recipe, they say it's good to drink at that point, but better if it ages 2-3 more months, and  better still after a year.

Meadhall

When I first named this “Grim’s Hall” I had in mind a meadhall, like Beorn’s Hall or Hereot. Now, twenty years and more on, I make sure to keep the vision. 

Ten gallons of blueberry/blackberry mead, made today and hopefully ready by Christmas.

Straight mead, bottled and ready today.

Grim's Smoked Whiskey Cheese

So I learned this recipe from a guy, but his version lacks a lot of the smoke flavor. He gets some from the Jack Daniels, but then he uses just cheese and jalapenos. I like this one better because it gets two additional smoke flavors, making it very rich. Mine is also spicier and less sour because of the substitution of rye whiskey for the Tennessee, but if you like sour mash flavor you could use Jack or even a bourbon.

Grim's Smoked Whiskey Cheese

3 strips bacon (I used applewood-smoked, but any smoked bacon should do)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or just grab a few peppers and mince them as you cook)
1 shot Rye whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
2 cups Queso Chihuahua (or substitute another melting cheese like Monterey Jack)

In a cast iron skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside to cool so it can become brittle for crumbling. Reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat for later use (as in biscuits). In the remaining tablespoon of hot bacon fat, sauté the garlic for just a few seconds until it browns. Add the chipotles and adobo sauce, stirring until fragrant. Add the whiskey and then immediately the cheese, so that the steam from the whiskey begins to melt the cheese. Stir over medium heat until molten. Crush the bacon into crumbles and return to the cheese mixture. Serve over any sort of fried potatoes, or however else you wish. 

Faster than a Greased Pig

The Army Times has a fun retrospective this week on an incident in which a relieving aircraft carrier was bedeviled with greased pigs.

Murder Rate Dropping Sharply

These statistics are subject to some manipulation, though mostly at the local level,* so it is less likely than with the 'happy-happy-joy' economic talk that the Feds are just blustering to try to re-elect Uncle Joe.
The new fourth-quarter numbers showed a 13% decline in murder in 2023 from 2022, a 6% decline in reported violent crime and a 4% decline in reported property crime. That’s based on data from around 13,000 law enforcement agencies, policing about 82% of the U.S. population, that provided the FBI with data through December.

“It suggests that when we get the final data in October, we will have seen likely the largest one-year decline in murder that has ever been recorded,” said Jeff Asher, a former CIA analyst who now studies crime trends.
They would like to blame the pandemic for the anomaly. 
Asher and other experts say the biggest factor behind the drop in crime may simply be the resumption of anti-crime initiatives by local governments and courts that had stopped during the pandemic.

“After a terrible period of underfunding and understaffing caused by the pandemic, local governments have, by most measures, returned to pre-pandemic levels,” wrote John Roman, a criminologist at the University of Chicago. In an interview, Roman said, “The courts were closed, a lot of cops got sick, a lot of police agencies told their officers not to interact with the public. Teachers were not in schools, not working with kids.”

Asher said, “The tools that we ordinarily have used to interrupt these cycles of violence were gone in 2020 [and] 2021.”

While the social chaos caused by all the pandemic emergency measures may have had some effect, I strongly suspect that the real reason for the increase was the BLM movement's success at making police afraid to do their jobs, while undermining government funding for policing. Suddenly police were in danger of prosecution if a stop went bad, risking decades in prison or potentially capital charges. Suddenly, Democratic hostility to police was so stiff that, e.g., the city council in Asheville refused to pay for police body armor -- at once increasing the risk of policing, and demonstrating clearly that police did not have and could not expect the support of their own government. 

So yeah, they pulled back. Small wonder. Since the risk of being caught was down, the perceived cost of the crime was lower. That being the case, it's simple economics why the murder rate went up.


* The FBI Uniform Crime Report has been an occasional topic of this blog from the early years. It's a problematic report in a lot of ways, most especially in that it depends on local reporting. Local agencies don't collect the data in the same way, which means that it's not at all clear that there's an apples-to-apples comparison from one jurisdiction to another. Only some crimes are tracked, so a difference in standards between jurisdictions in how to charge an offense can create noise. 

There is also some outright manipulation. Tourist towns and college towns especially tend to manipulate by doing things like reporting burglary, a tracked crime, as 'trespassing,' which doesn't make the report. "Rape" is often reclassified by college police as "sexual assualt" in order to keep campus rape numbers apparently low. The FBI occasionally messes with the numbers as well, but it's more commonly corrupt local police chiefs who want to artificially decrease their numbers. 

Freaknik

As this NYT article summarizes, Freaknik was a party in Atlanta in the springtime that involved very large crowds of young people, almost entirely black, taking over the streets and having a festival. I was myself young and in Atlanta during those years, and I attended one once. From what I saw of it, it was mostly just young people hanging out, doing drugs and drinking while driving, and generally using the mass of the crowd to violate the sorts of laws that restrict young people from such things. 

There was definitely an element of racial pride at work. Several people expressed to me that I wasn't safe and ought to leave right away, although in fact no one attempted any violence against me. It was clearly in the air, though, that this was a black festival, and that they were the ones who had the power to take over the streets for a while and do what they wanted there. Again, however, no one made any sort of attempt against me; what I received there were warnings that I wasn't safe, not acts of violence. 

I've been to a few things since then that had a similar kind of lawlessness, but without the element of race. Large enough crowds completely overwhelm policing, and tend to produce liberation from ordinary bothersome laws. I've always enjoyed those occasions, though being so liberated I don't find that I actually take any liberties. I like the feeling that comes from the recognition of being free, and being free I do what I want -- which is what I do anyway. I like the absence of law, but not because it changes my behavior. 

In any case I didn't have any bad feelings about it. Just kids having fun, as Crocodile Dundee said.

UPDATE: If you can’t read the article because of a paywall, its major theme is that the once-youthful participants are now 30-40 years older and quite abashed about the whole thing. A new documentary has them worrying about how they might have been caught behaving in that pre-cellphone era when people didn’t expect to be on camera. Now older and respectable, they look back on the event being revealed with trepidation. That’s charming, in a way. 

Reason on Jackson

Reason magazine says that Jackson's words on free speech are being misconstrued. You can consider their arguments if you like.
The government, of course, does not have the right to punish someone criminally for the vast majority of speech. But does it have the right to persuade?

Jackson may think it does. Her "hamstringing" comment came attached to a hypothetical scenario she posed to Benjamin Aguiñaga, Louisiana's solicitor general, who argued the Biden administration had overstepped when it contacted social media platforms and attempted to pressure them to remove posts it found objectionable. Suppose a challenge circulated on social media concerning "teens jumping out of windows at increasing elevations," Jackson said. Could the government try to persuade those platforms to remove that content?

No, Aguiñaga said, because that's still protected speech, no matter how dangerous.

That might very well be the correct interpretation. But Jackson's take—that such a view could place too much restraint on the government—is one that's held by many, including, it appears, some of her more conservative colleagues. Kavanaugh, for example, invoked his experience working with government press staff, who regularly call reporters to criticize them and try to influence their coverage. 

The cases are different: Kavanaugh is talking about the government attempting to persuade reporters to alter their own speech. This is a case about trying to use government "persuasion" to get outlets to ban other people's speech. It's really an attempt to use the publisher to silence opinions the government doesn't like, i.e., to censor by proxy.

I don't think the government should have the power to do by proxy what it is forbidden from doing by itself. However, the SCOTUS has long accepted massive 4th Amendment invasions by a similar argument: that the government can dodge its ordinary duty to obtain a warrant before spying on your communications simply by going to your ISP or cell phone provider and asking them to provide your content out of their free will. 

Trying to get the government to actually respect its constitutional limits in those cases has so far proven impossible; I suspect the SCOTUS will find that the government can violate the first amendment, too, so long as it does it by proxy.

More Tomfoolery on Guns

Chicago is suing Glock, manufacturer of one of the most popular lines of handguns in the world, because criminals have figured out a way to illegally modify Glock's products. 
Glock does not manufacture or sell auto sears, which are illegal. The lawsuit claims that some auto sears are marketed and sold with Glock’s name and logo, but that there is no evidence Glock has tried to protect its trademark from third-party manufacturers.

What, I wonder, is one supposed to do to 'protect one's trademark' from criminal organizations carrying out illegal activity? Sue their nonexistent corporations over trademark violation? Have your lawyers send 'cease and desist' letters to their nonexistent address? 

If you don't know what an auto sear is, the Post would also like to misinform you about that too.

Called “auto sears,” the metal or plastic pieces are fitted inside the firearms and can be purchased on the Internet or made on 3-D printers. They allow weapons to fire up to 1,200 bullets a minute.

It is absolutely not the case that you could fire 1,200 bullets in a minute using any Glock handgun, auto sear or not. Even if you managed to build a couple of magazines that held 600 bullets each, which would reach to the ground, you still couldn't do it. Heat issues alone would destroy the frame of the thing. 

What you can do with an auto sear is fire 15 or 17 bullets at a cyclic rate of 1,200/minute. You won't hit anything you were aiming at, probably, but you can create an impressive display. That's really what the street gangsters are trying to accomplish; it's an elaborate sort of peacocking, dangerous mostly to innocent bystanders who happen to be in the neighborhood.

So they're a bad idea and you shouldn't install one. Should we ban them? We already did. Nobody's trying to repeal the ban. Chicago just wants to force Glock to spend a lot of money redesigning its whole line of products and then retooling its factories; it's just another attempt by people who oppose the Second Amendment to try to damage manufacturers of legal products that are normally used lawfully and responsibly.

I don't think the lawsuit's claim that Glock pistols are uniquely susceptible to these modifications is accurate. It is true that the Glock 18 is a select-fire weapon, manufactured for special police and military units in Europe. However, it's possible to generate automatic fire with a 1911 either intentionally or through accidentally bad gunsmithing. Semi-automatic weapons in general should be modifiable to perform automatic fire. Thus, one of the core claims of the lawsuit seems to be factually false -- and also the camel's nose, should the lawsuit succeed, in going after any other semiautomatic firearm manufacturer. 

Equinox


It’s unusual for the equinox to arrive on the 19th, but Spring began at 11:06 PM local time. The winter was mild, and there were several good rides. Still and all, I look forward to the weather. 

Health (and healthy) skepticism

HotAir sings the praises of Vinay Prasad today, a man remarkable chiefly for his insistence on data and properly conducted experiments before he buys into the daily exciteable expert pronouncement. The feds probably need to round this guy up.

Rio Bravo

It’s 65 years ago this classic came to be. 


The film was a response to High Noon, which Howard Hawks and John Wayne considered against the American spirit. The idea that ordinary people would not step up to resist tyranny offended them. 

It’s a great movie. Maybe give it a try if you haven’t seen it lately, or at all. 

Steak & Guinness Pie

A day late for St. Patrick’s feast, but delicious all the same. 

Unclear on the concept

Ya think?

Politico is struggling to understand the voters' response to the lawfare against ex-President Trump. For months there has been the disconcerting news that Trump rises in the polls every time a new criminal prosecution is launched against him, or a huge civil judgment is imposed for $100MM or more.

Today's news is that the polls show what might be a signal that some voters, at least, would not completely ignore a criminal conviction in one of the pending criminal cases. The disquieting news in the detailed poll data is in two parts. First, the prospect of a criminal conviction moves the needle surprisingly little. About 44% of all voters would shrug it off, while almost 1/3 say it would reduce their likely support. Among independents, the results are similar. As far as I can tell, that could mean mostly that independents are composed of likely Trump supporters and likely Biden supporters, and that one group would dislike Trump even more if he were convicted, while another group would be largely indifferent.

Second, it's clear that poll respondents are answering without any particular reference to the precise lawsuit the poll was trying to ask about. It's almost, the article muses, as if voters were making no effort to think about the relative merits of the various lawsuits. Perhaps there is a group that is thinking "all the lawsuits are fine and no treatment is too harsh for this man I execrate," while the other is thinking "all the lawsuits are equally balderdash, so a conviction in any of them would have about the same (non)effect on me." As the author puts it:
First, it is possible that at least some Americans — perhaps very large numbers of them — are not clearly distinguishing the cases against Trump from one another or do not care about the sorts of distinctions that have occupied some legal commentators, including yours truly. Second, their opinions on Trump’s guilt may be a proxy for their views on Trump more generally and more evidence that we live in a 50-50 politically polarized country.
What the author does not grapple with directly is what it means for this multitude of lawsuits to be eliciting primarily a partisan response on the subject of guilt and innocence. Lawfare undermines the justice system's ability to persuade the public that justice is on the menu. When someone forfeits his credibility, he loses his ability to make his point outside his echo chamber. I think this particular lawfare's point is a bad one, so I'm pleased people are proving somewhat deaf to it, but it's a dangerous game for the broader future.

It occurs to me, as well, that we have been stuck at close to 50/50 for a while, but recent polls suggest we may be tilting. If that's the case, it will not necessarily be suffcient to throw just about any garbage on the wall in the confidence that it will stick with half the electorate. In November, if the stick rate is more like 48/52, Trump's opponents may have to figure out a way to criticize him in a way that can be heard by more than his bitterest and most entrenched enemies.