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.


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 niece Heloise, the latter of whom also went on to become an important figure in the church and in letters. Abelard 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. 


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.