A Duel


Compared to What?

My wife is from Indiana, so I spent a little time there when I was younger. We haven't been in quite a few years now, but I remember the place as pretty conservative. The capital city, however, has a prosecutor and a police chief who are a little disappointed in his fellow citizens.
“What's upsetting to me is, if you look at the month of January, I think we had 18 homicides during that month,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. “Fourteen of those were being investigated for self-defense, meaning that someone lost their life, and that case might ultimately be cleared. But that doesn't do anything for that family who lost someone."

...On Jan. 3, a man allegedly wrestled a gun away from an intruder in his home, then shot and killed the man. On Jan. 5, a woman shot and killed her boyfriend who was allegedly attacking her.... Someone died, but no one was ever charged with a crime. 

"So, we're just seeing a significant increase in the number of self-defense cases because we're seeing too many situations where both parties are armed, where multiple parties are firing their weapons during these very simple disputes," said Mears.

The past two weekends, apparent arguments escalated to mass shootings in and outside Indianapolis nightclubs.

"We have to be better to each other, be better human beings,” said IMPD Chief Chris Bailey. “We're better than this. We have to treat each other better."
I don't think the evidence supports the claim that "we are better than this," or that urging people to be better human beings much reduces the incidence of crime. Perhaps it ought to, but as I understand the purpose of police chiefs and prosecutors, they exist as a recognition that it doesn't actually work.

What do they think 'a better human being' would do when she is attacked in her home by a stronger male in an act of domestic violence? Submit to him? 

What would the better man do if an intruder with a gun breaks into his home, once he wrestles away the gun that the intruder brought into his home? Or maybe the better man wouldn't resort to the wrestling, even? 

Sometimes violence is how things get put right. If you have a problem with the violence in these cases, shouldn't your lectures on 'being better human beings' be targeted at the abusers and home invaders? 

Wilderness Safety

Today the WaPo has an article called "How women can stay safe while running or hiking alone," which was later retitled to "Running or hiking solo? 9 ways to stay safer while exercising alone." The article is mostly not bad. Stay aware! Trust your instincts! But also, take care of known health risks that you may have; tell others; prepare for the weather; cultivate situational awareness.

Then they get to "Carry ten essentials." Their suggestions are not terrible. However, as a public service, here's the slide from that section of the course for Search and Rescue teams.

You can use your judgement about the helmet. Bugs really are a big deal, though; and having a fire starting kit, which WaPo recommends, is a great idea if you're hiking just in case you get lost. It's a good way to stay warm and a good way to signal rescuers. Proper clothing against the weather is important. And, yes, light but calorie-dense food and a two-liter supply of water is a great addition to your kit. 

Really, not a terrible article. It's a great time to get out and see the beautiful world. Just, you know, take responsibility for your own affairs. 

Crazy Congresswomen from Georgia

One of my Senators is not too happy with one of Georgia's elected representatives. 
Sen. Thom Tillis’s (R-N.C.) comments to CNN on Tuesday were particularly biting. Amid Greene’s efforts to oust McCarthy’s successor, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Tillis called her a “waste of time” and a “horrible leader.”

“She is dragging our brand down,” Tillis said. “She — not the Democrats — are the biggest risk to us getting back to a majority.”

Tillis added, “I’m embarrassed to have actually lived geographically in her district at one time before she was there.”

I'm not too impressed with Tillis himself, who is reliably bad on issues of liberty like unfettered domestic spying. (My other Senator is even worse; he's on that list too, and has used his office to profit wildly from insider knowledge.) He may think he's better for the brand, but that brand looks pretty tarnished to me. 

However, I would just like to point out that Greene is only the latest in a Georgia tradition -- you could even call it an Atlanta-area tradition -- of sending wild-eyed Congresswomen to Washington. Cynthia McKinney was a long-time Georgia politician, sometimes a Democrat and other times a Green Party member -- even their presidential candidate in 2008. She endorsed a metric ton of crazy ideas in her time, including a suggestion that there were widespread hidden executions following Hurricane Katrina. She claimed that 'Bush knew' about 9/11 and let it happen on purpose; separately, that "Zionists" carried out the attack. She also reliably took the side of America's enemies in her foreign policy work, and was ever-ready to support Hamas or really anyone who was against Israel. Even David Duke.

On September 11, 2023, McKinney promoted a livestream called "Can Black People and White People Work Together to Defeat Our Common Enemy" with the Star of David, indicating that the "common enemy" is Jews. The livestream was to be hosted by Ayo Kimathi, the author of Jews Are the Problem and described by the ADL as "antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ Black nationalist extremist" and David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and anti-semite.In the livestream, Kimathi explicitly advocated for ties with White nationalists to actively eradicate "the Jew."

That said, she was also right some of the time. She saw through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, and she was opposed to that Gaddafi business I was just talking about in the last post. Her ideas were often way out there, but sometimes she saw things others didn't. She was an honest representative of her district, where many of those views are very popular. 

There are hundreds of people in Congress. The few crazies who get in there aren't the real problem: it's the majority that are outright crooked and power-hungry. It doesn't hurt Congress to hear some wild ideas now and then, especially since just a few of them turn out to be true. At least someone is speaking what they think is true and not just parroting the approved lines. 

The Perils of NPR

It was just a couple of weeks ago that we took notice of a self-criticism of NPR by one of its senior journalists; he is, of course, no longer employed there. Speaking the truth is a firing offense in many institutions, and while that in itself is a good reason to criticize the institution, it is far from unique.

Now, however, City Journal has posted an interesting bit of investigative journalism about the new boss there. 
During the volatile Arab Spring period, under a constantly rotating series of NGO affiliations, Maher went to multiple countries that were undergoing U.S.-backed regime change. Beginning in 2011, for example, she traveled multiple times to Tunisia, working with regime-change activists and government officials. In 2012, she traveled to a strategic city on the Turkey-Syria border, which had become a base for Western-backed opposition to Bashar al-Assad. That same year, she traveled to Libya, where the U.S. had just overthrown strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

During much of 2011, Maher worked for the National Democratic Institute, a government-funded NGO with deep connections to U.S. intelligence and the Democratic Party’s foreign policy machine. The organization was “set up to do independently what CIA had done covertly worldwide,” says national security analyst J. Michael Waller. While initially some distance supposedly existed between NDI and the intelligence services, that relationship has devolved back to “the gray zone,” per Waller, and it appears that they often work in concert. “NDI is an instrument of Samantha Power and the global revolution elements of the Obama team,” Waller explains. “It has gone along with, and been significant parts of, color revolutions around the world. It is very much a regime-change actor.”

The broader argument the article makes is that we have been subject to a 'color revolution' here at home. NPR is part of the information warfare apparatus of the victorious coalition, which is tied to the same power structure that overthrew Gaddafi and then endorsed as his replacement the 'Government of National Accord' (GNA) even though that required the State Department delisting several foreign terrorist groups who belonged to GNA in order to allow for our official support. 

That is not to say that it is the CIA, or that the CIA is doing anything to influence American elections. It is to say that the people who learned to use the CIA and the NGO archipelago to overthrow foreign governments during the Obama administration are the people currently being discussed here. They are spread widely among the seats of power in media, government, and the tech corporations. As they all belong to the same class, they have no need of a conspiracy because they all already know what their class interests are and how to advance their membership in that class. 

As Time Magazine put it in early 2021, there was a "shadow campaign" to "fortify" the election using illegal and therefore unconstitutional methods to change voting rules. The article is remembered for being eye-opening and a sort-of confession, but it was wholly celebratory of the shadow campaign and its outcomes. 

Likewise we probably all remember the fervent and constant repetition in the press that there was "no evidence" of any irregularity with the election, which was the most safe and secure ever. Information warfare is an important part of this sort of effort. Controlling the terms of the debate keeps the people from speaking the truth, even when they know the truth. It's not sufficient -- the courts played a crucial role in refusing to consider any of the cases brought, dismissing them all on standing or timing grounds -- but it is a necessary condition. 

The Grave of Plato

New technology allowing the reading of those ancient scrolls seems to have identified the precise place where Plato was buried. 

Automatic Disbarment

A judge who behaves this way should be impeached, as well as disbarred. 
She told us, ‘Do not bring the Second Amendment into this courtroom. It doesn’t exist here. So you can’t argue Second Amendment. This is New York.'

In point of fact, deprivation of rights under color of law is a Federal crime. The statute is confusing in its wording, so perhaps she has a defense in claiming that she was not motivated by prejudice (but would equally deny that right to everyone, under color of law). She ought to be arrested and charged, though, and obligated to make that defense as a former judge to a jury of her peers— her fellow citizens, I mean, not legal elites. 

Hawaii is trying the same thing. It’s a sort of small scale secession, refusing to be bound by the parts of the Constitution that they disapprove of existing. 

A Modest Proposal

How to save American colleges: an essay.
All higher-education courses could be done online via bots with no need for expensive classrooms, dorm rooms and other physical facilities.

Instead of paying college costs currently approaching $100,000 a year, students could earn their degrees conveniently and inexpensively from the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, they would be given access to bots that they can use to take tests and write any essays required by the instructor bots. The students’ test answers would no doubt be perfect, and their essays would be persuasive and error-free, which would allow all students to be given A grades without having to disrupt their lives by attending classes, listening to lectures or reading. 

It's a clever idea, which we are likely to adopt more completely than we like to admit.  

Rodeo Songs

David Foster added a link to a list of some of his favorite rodeo songs in the comments to the bullriding post below. I'm raising it to a post because I wouldn't want anyone to miss it. 

Duty to Protect Yourself

Omri Ceren makes note of a message sent to Jewish students at Columbia University. Mostly the message pertains to the fact that Jews can no longer assume that they will be safe at Columbia, given the atmosphere of abuse and hatred that has been allowed to proliferate there. 

Omri rightly points out that conservatives have been subject to censorship and exclusion for decades on the argument that their events might 'make students feel unsafe.' Actual calls for students who are Jewish women to be raped, or Jewish students to be killed, or Jewish students actually being stabbed in the eye, apparently don't warrant any special notice by the university administration. 

It's important to know who your friends are, and who they are not, I suppose. 

That said, I do wish to object to something the Orthodox rabbi said whom Omri quotes. He writes, "It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus." Perhaps "as Jews" is carrying some weight here, but it absolutely is everyone's job -- and right, and duty -- to ensure their own safety at all times. Even where it is forbidden by positive law, it is demanded by natural law. No positive law is legitimate that disarms a threatened people, nor one that purports to strip them of the right to defend themselves. 

Columbia is in New York City, one of the parts of America with the least legitimate laws as regards self-defense and the right to keep and bear arms. This is a good time to reflect on how evil such laws really are. 

Laws repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. It's time to start defying them accordingly, and enforce the rights with which Nature and Nature's God endow you.

Infinity and the Divine

Last week while I was in Vegas, Dad29 had a post about infinity. I foolishly promised to respond to it, and will attempt to do so now.
There’s a lot to be said about the use of the concept of infinity in theology, which I will write about once I’m not traveling. Different major theologians have thought that it was a wonderful way to think about God; others have disliked the usage for various reasons. Nicholas of Cusa, one of the fans, had diagrams meant to convey the impossibility of finite minds grasping God. Others thought other things.
To be clear, I'm one of the ones who doesn't like the concept of infinity as applied to God, ironically because I think it is too limiting. Mathematicians talk about infinities as having different sizes, which there are good proofs for but which I also think is wrong. 

Infinities crop up regularly in physical calculations, and you can just cancel them out when they do: if you get an infinity on one side and another on the other, you can cross them out like you would an "x" in algebra. The calculations work just fine. It doesn't matter if the infinites are "countable" or not, which is the point the mathematicians are making about them being of different sizes. Maybe that has to do with infinity as applied to physical reality, as opposed to within the theory of math. I hold with Aristotle, however, that actual infinities -- physically real ones included -- are impossible. The Church strictly disagrees with me, and Aristotle, on this point. So do many (most?) modern mathematicians. They are persuaded by the same evidence as me in the opposite direction: since we can use the infinities algebraically, they must be actual. My sense is that since we can use them so in spite of their allegedly (provably!) different sizes, they aren't actual infinities but a place where our mathematical models are reaching their limits. There's no reason to think our mathematical models are right, and very good reasons to think they aren't quite. One such: no human beings before us have ever made mathematical models that really were quite right when applied to reality. 

The impossibility of an actual infinity is an important feature of the proof of God given by Avicenna, which Aquinas gives in brief in the Summa Theologica in spite of the fact that he ends up endorsing actual infinity. To put it in basic terms, every existent thing gets its existence from something else that already exists. You came to be because your parents already were, and they were able to bring you about. If an infinite series were possible, then there is no need for a thing-that-exists-without-being-made to have started the chain. God's necessity stands on the fact that divine existence is necessary in order to account for everything else that follows: the whole chain needs to be rooted, grounded, on something that already existed before anything was made. (There is a second proof along this line as well, in which Avicenna is pleased to say that it just wouldn't be determined if everything actually existed without the necessary divine existant; I'll leave that as an exercise for very interested readers.) 

The fact is that infinity as we know how to discuss it is a feature of reality, meaning that we understand it as well as we do because of concepts that pertain to this world. Perhaps, as Pythagoras said, the math is what makes the world; perhaps, it is our model of the world. Either way, it belongs to this world and not to the eternity beyond the world. A transcendent God that genuinely exists beyond our reality would not be bound by it, and it is not helpful -- I think, against the Church's considered opinion which any devout Catholic should take as authoritative in spite of my dissent -- to try to apply it to God. 

We generated these ideas from our own ideas about mathematics and how they work. All of that belongs to this place and our experience of it. I don't believe it translates beyond the wall of creation. It might, but I see no reason why it must. I'm not entirely convinced we are correct about how it applies here, and I see no reason to believe that it ought to apply there

The Night Ain't Over Yet