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."