The 2nd South Carolina String Band

For Texas:

According to the band's intro to this next song over on YouTube:

The theme-song of General J.E.B. Stuart’s famous cavalry is attributed to the leader of his camp band and banjoist, Sam Sweeney. This signature song, the words possibly penned by Stuart himself, was “Jine the Cavalry”. Though the composer is uncertain, it is thought to have been adapted by Sweeney, who, after enlisting in the cavalry in 1862, soon came to the general’s attention and suddenly found himself a member of Stuart's staff and his personal minstrel troupe. 

As Burke Davis wrote in his great biography of Stuart, “JEB Stuart - the Last Cavalier”, 

“Stuart must have more music.…there was always music. Sweeney on the banjo, Mulatto Bob on the bones, a couple of fiddlers […] Sweeney rode with Stuart on the outpost day and night. Stuart often sang and Sweeney plucked the strings behind him. . . .”

The chorus is:

If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry!
Jine the cavalry! Jine the cavalry!
If you want to catch the Devil, if you want to have fun,
If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!

And a Union song that apparently became popular on both sides during the Late Unpleasantness.*

The 2nd plays Civil War reenactments, among other things.

*I found this blog post from a Southern historian in looking up the origin of this way of referring to the Civil War and like what he has to say (although apparently he disagrees with calling it the Civil War).


With Biden’s encouragement of millions of illegal aliens entering and taking up residence in the United States along with 2024 being an election year, we might be in for a wild ride. Like Will Rogers, all I know about this is what I read on the internet (loosely paraphrased), but from what I’ve read lately I can easily imagine some bad scenarios. I am very interested in your takes on this, what you think is likely, what you are preparing for, and where you think I’m just being paranoid.

Up to this point, I have thought in terms of short-term disruptions, and that’s what I have been preparing for. This level of prep is also good for natural disasters, so it would be appropriate for everyone to prepare for a week or so of disruption. However, given that any foreign actor who wants direct action teams (terrorist, guerrilla, etc.) in place in the US has had plenty of opportunity to get them here, I’ve been thinking in terms of scattered small-scale actions like, e.g., maybe squad-size terrorist cells shooting up festivals or concerts, maybe even coordinated attacks so several of these squads hit at the same time in different places. Also, infrastructure sabotage, like taking down parts of an electrical grid, seems quite possible. Any of these could produce significant disruptions, but would probably not last too long, so preparing for a week or two of civil unrest seemed reasonable.

However, the recent letter on uncontrolled immigration by ten retired FBI leaders got me thinking in much larger scale terms. I encourage everyone to read the whole letter, but the following paragraph from it sparked this post:

It would be difficult to overstate the danger represented by the presence inside our borders of what is comparatively a multi-division army of young single adult males from hostile nations and regions whose background, intent, or allegiance is completely unknown. They include individuals encountered by border officials and then possibly released into the country, along with a shockingly high estimate of ‘gotaways’ – meaning those who have entered and evaded apprehension.

Several paragraphs later, the letter says:

… elements of this recent surge are likely no accident or coincidence. These men are potential operators in what appears to be an accelerated and strategic penetration, a soft invasion, designed to gain internal access to a country that cannot be invaded militarily in order to inflict catastrophic damage if and when enemies deem it necessary.

So, “multi-division army” caught my thoughts. What if – just thinking through that – we are not looking at possible action by disparate squads, but by platoons or companies? A company-sized element, hidden as smaller elements on different patches of private land around a target area, could carry out repeated coordinated attacks in that area, effectively rendering the area uncontrolled territory. Now, add in that several company-sized units could be coordinating attacks within a state. How long would it take National Guard units to get things under control? And if this were to happen in multiple states at the same time, federal assistance could take a while to arrive in any given affected area.

Or, the October 7 attack in Israel was carried out by about 3 battalions of terrorists, I think. I guess really good intelligence work would be the only thing that might prevent battalions of terrorists in the US from hanging out in small groups in geographically distant areas until the order to go is given and then gathering for and conducting a mass attack. Really good intelligence work is by no means assured.

I think we can all imagine other possible scenarios, and of course it is possible none of this will happen. I certainly hope and pray that none of it happens.

What do the rest of you think? What is likely to happen, in your opinion, and why do you think that? What should we as private citizens be prepared for this year, while we might still have time to make those preparations?

Edit: I just want to clarify that I'm thinking of what preparations to make, not a "let's go down the worst-case scenarios rabbit hole" conversation. Clearly, other than being ready to escape or make a good account of myself and die well, there's nothing I can really do to prepare for a 10/7-sized assault on my city. 

But if I'm not in the targeted area and just affected by loss of services, etc., how should I be prepared? I'm asking because I respect the regulars here and hearing what you think will give me a better idea of what's reasonable. It is a kind of check on my own imagination, if you will.

Burns Night

Forfar Brides, Neeps & Tatties, and Cock-a-Leekie. 

To the immortal soul of Robert Burns. 

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do or die!

Scottish shortbread and an Old Chub Scotch ale.

Has The Federal Government Broken The Compact Between The States And The Union?

We are about to have a serious, and overdue, conversation about the relationship between the states and the federal government. Governor Abbott's letter raises some important issues that Americans need to consider seriously.  

UPDATE BY GRIM: Twenty-five state governments including Texas, as governors have signed a letter of support for Abbot. 

Skin ‘Em Out

The only annoying part of cleaning the chickens (or wild upland fowl) is plucking the feathers. Otherwise, it’s just like cleaning any small game. 

Today my wife suggested just skinning them. For some reason I never thought of that. The skin is valuable for roasting, as it retains moisture and can be stuffed with butter and herbs. But for these little cockerels, which I’m planning to turn into Cock-a-Leekie for Burns Night tomorrow, it’s unnecessary. 

Skinning them saved a great deal of time. In less than an hour I went from three angry roosters to three cleaned birds ready for the pot. 

"Weapons of War"

A favorite argument for gun control advocates talking about the AR-15 and similar platforms -- which were in fact carefully designed as semi-automatics in order not to be weapons of war -- in the UK it now means kitchen knives and machetes. While it is possible to fight a war with a machete -- I suppose the 1990s Rwandan genocide was chiefly conducted with machetes -- they are literally a farming tool, not a purpose-designed weapon of war.
The Government put forward plans to ban some zombie-style* knives in August last year, but Ms Hayes said this is “insufficient” because the ban does not cover all offensive weapons, such as swords.

It turns out that just as there isn't properly a "weapon of war" there isn't really an "offensive weapon" either. All weapons can be used for defense as well as offense: even a tank can be used to deter an invasion rather than to fight one. 

Likewise, just about anything can be a weapon, and therefore 'an offensive weapon' as well.  

* This is a new one to me, who has spent his life around knives. It apparently means "the kind of knives one sees in Zombie TV shows," which accords with the language about banning "Rambo-style knives" as well. Is a "Rambo-style" or "Zombie-style" knife more dangerous? Absolutely not. Was it designed as a weapon of war? No, it was designed to make an impression on television or movie audiences.

In any case, I refer you as always to Havamal 38: "Never step a foot from your door/ without your weapons of war: for never sure is the knowing/ when you might be needing/ your weapons along the road." 

The Wine of Rome

Archaeologists tell us that the wines known in the ancient Roman Empire were quite different from the ones we know today. 
Wine colors, for example, were not standardly subdivided between white and red (as is done today), but for the Romans, they belonged to a wide spectrum of colors ranging from white and yellow to goldish, amber, brown and then red and black, all based on grapes macerated on the skin.

Because the fermentation technology was different, they say the wine would have smelled and tasted different from ours too: it would have had the aroma of bread, and a spicy flavor. The closest thing like it today is wine from the Republic of Georgia, still made in similar vessels called qvevri.

Goodnight, Uga X

In sad news, the University of Georgia's mascot bulldog, Uga X, passed away last night. They have royalty-like numbers after their names, and like royalty they often enjoy credit for things that happened during their reign.
He left as the most decorated mascot in school history, overseeing the Georgia football dynasty that lead to back-to-back national championships, two SEC titles, and victories in the Rose, Sugar, Peach, and Orange Bowls.

Long live the bulldog. 

Thanks, Lady

Cartoon rake, meet cartoon cat.

I grew up in the South in the same period she's talking about, and I never once heard the phrase "brown person" until the late 1990s -- and then it was in the mouths of liberals who were wishing it was a category they could assign to the thoughts of troglodyte rednecks, not a phrase used by the rednecks themselves. Racism against black people was very much a thing in the 1970s South, though as the article points out important aspects of the culture were already moving strongly against it. The irony is that the strength of the black/white division meant that anyone who wasn't black was, well, white. That's why the Irish had settled very easily into Savannah when they struggled in New York and Boston; it's why Jews were quite accepted in the Antebellum South when they were subject to great prejudice elsewhere. 

The people of South Carolina elected her as their governor, for goodness sake, even though she was a Republican who credited Hillary Clinton with inspiring her political career. She didn't win the office with closet Democratic votes, either, as she may hope to do with tonight's election. She was embraced by one of the most strident of the Southern states -- one whose votes she'll have to ask for again, soon. Why she chose to insult them with this falsehood at this time is probably because she's looking for a new constituency, and thinks she can best seek it by publicly rejecting her old one. That sort of disloyalty is typical of a Washington politician, who forget in their moment of wealth and power who it was that trusted them enough to empower them to begin with.

On the side issue of "remembering the 1970s," I heard some young people discussing a theory that people didn't drink water in the 1970s. They asked if bottled water was even for sale in the stores. Well, no, it wasn't: water in those days was free, everywhere, as a general civilizational courtesy. The late, great Lewis Grizzard of the Atlanta Journal wrote that his father thought that only Communists would charge for water (a good laugh line even then, given the obvious capitalism of figuring out how to charge for what had always been free). When Perrier began to become popular among Atlanta Yuppies in the 1980s, he had a lot of fun with the idea that you'd pay good money for a drink of water. It's not so funny now, is it? 

Choice and Happiness

The other day I was responding to a post by David Foster, with a discussion aimed at the unhappy youth. Specifically, I was trying to offer some advice on how to take charge of your happiness and become happier. I held that good philosophy can help you with that, as can bold practical actions:

The thing about anxiety is that it turns out to be one of the things you really can do something about. Stoic philosophy is a practice that tackles the problem of anxiety by helping you identify what you can control, what you can't control, and ways of focusing on the former. This does a great deal to eliminate anxiety from your life, because your focus ends up on things you absolutely can master. As you learn to let go of the other things and focus on your area of control, anxiety will diminish because you care less and less about the things outside your control....

Also, ride horses or motorcycles. As Aristotle teaches, you get virtues by practicing them. Get out and practice taking risks, being courageous, doing dangerous things. You'll get better and better at the things, but you'll also get better and better at handling risky situations in general.

I remember on reflection how exciting Aristotle was to me when I was young, and facing all the uncertainty of youth. Then one day I encountered a professor who told us, “Aristotle says that happiness is an activity, and the particular activity is using your reason to align your vital powers in the pursuit of excellence.”

That was a revelation to me. Happiness was in my hands. All I had to do was do it. The Stoics refined that picture, but that’s the truth. There’s no reason to be anxious. Just go do. 

Now it happened that just a day or so later AVI wrote a post on happiness that contains an implicit challenge to this view. 

Neuroticism decreases as we age.  Stated the other way, our sense of emotional stability increases as we get older. Fewer things bother us. We give a rat's ass about less and less stuff.  Put it however you want to, we calm down....

Because we are all moving in the direction of improved mood anyway - your 50s will likely be your happiest decade and your 60s your second-happiest - it gives us the impression that "when all is said and done, I made mostly right choices."  People who married feel vindicated because they feel emotionally better at 55 than at 25. But people who did not marry are also quite sure they made the right choice. 

(James had a theologically sound comment at that post, by the way.)

So the implicit challenge is that young people just are unhappier than older people; and thus, that adopting a good philosophy or having grand experiences merely correlates with a natural process of declining neuroticism. Correlation is not causation. Of course, getting older is itself also a correlation: it's just one of those things that happens to us -- at least, those of us who get ahold of our mental health sufficiently to avoid suicide or death by drug overdose. Susceptibility to those things may also be heavily influenced by genetics, though, and so also not necessarily the product of good philosophy or activity.

Epictetus tells us in Enchiridion V that misery is in our hands, because we can choose to take a view even of death that is not terrible (as, he points out, did Socrates). He goes on to say one of the most striking things in the whole book, which I think relevant to today's discussion: "It is the action of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes; of one entering upon instruction, to reproach himself; and one perfectly instructed, to reproach neither others nor himself."

This is meant to apply to misfortunes, but it applies just as well to good fortune. I am happier now than I ever was, and I ascribe this to adopting a better philosophy as well as to having trained myself for action. Maybe I should not credit myself for this happiness, nor my teachers (nor, as per AVI's post, even my long-suffering and patient wife). Maybe it's just something that happened to me, like all the other things.

That's more Zen than Stoic, which brings me to a strong counter-argument: Richard Strozzi Heckler's In Search of the Warrior Spirit, his account of teaching Zen meditation to US Special Forces. He did so as part of a program that was meant to create improved capacities for things like marksmanship and stealth in these already-capable men. They absolutely hated the practice of meditation, which went counter to their nature as men of action. However, the practice did in fact increase their scores on the objective tests of their marksmanship and so forth. The practice of the philosophy -- not merely the thinking of philosophcial thoughts, but the union of practice according to philosophy -- did further improve outcomes, in other words. The unity of thought and practice altered their outcomes as predicted.

Of course these were especially excellent men to start with. The fact that they can do it does not mean that everyone can. It does offer hope, though, that it might work. If you happen to be miserable, why not give it a try? The worst that can happen is that you'll get older while you practice, and therefore happier; and in the meanwhile, it'll give you something to help pass the time.

Where the Griz Lives

Long guns loaded. So say wise men; wiser than me.

With Sorrow

Not unexpectedly, US Central Command has announced that the two Navy SEALs who were washed into the ocean during a raid on a vessel carrying Iranian arms are deceased. Such men are strong, but the ocean is stronger.