The Frost-Giant’s Daughter

From The Sword, a piece of metal named for one of the great Conan tales. 

An Act of Justice

Following an absurd court case, the Texas governor pardoned a deserving man. 

"White People" and Spicy Food

Via Instapundit, a blog post from a Chinese girl person*** in the San Francisco area who has a German boyfriend. It is, as she(?) herself says, patronizing* about white people's inability to eat spicy food, which is a stereotype that I notice is employed pretty frequently. 

Like many stereotypes, it is not completely without justice: my in-laws from Indiana are incapable of handling any sort of spicy food. My wife, over the years of our association, has learned to handle fairly hot foods -- far hotter than anything made in China, where we lived in 2000-1 -- though still not as spicy as I like them. 

But also like stereotypes usually, this one has limits. There's the usual fault of stereotypes generalizing too much. A German isn't "white" the same way someone from Ohio is, and Cincinnati chili isn't much like Texas red chili, which isn't much like New Mexican red chili. 

More, though, there's a real corollary to this stereotype: while many white people don't like spicy foods, the white people who do like spicy foods like the spiciest food in the world. In fact the hottest chilies were mostly developed in the US, UK, or Australia. There's a reason that the second hottest chile pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, not something made in China (although this is obscured by the fact that all of them are part of the family capsicum chinense, which is due to a misconception by early Spaniards that the habanero and Scotch bonnets were from China; they were actually native to South America). 
In 2001, Paul Bosland, a researcher at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, visited India to collect specimens of ghost pepper, also called the Bhut Jolokia or Naga king chili,** traditionally grown near Assam, India, which was being studied by the Indian army for weaponization.
We put it in food, bred hotter versions of it than nature ever dreamed, and put those in food too. If you go to any festival around the South, there will be a booth selling hot pepper sauces and/or pastes. These will definitely include not just habanero sauces, but sauces made out of Reaper peppers, Scorpion peppers, Viper peppers, and so forth. The super-hot peppers are new, but the love of spice in the South is not. Even when I was a boy, every truck stop restaurant had three kinds of pepper sauces on the table, including one that was just packed with hot peppers and white vinegar. In Smoky and the Bandit, from the same era, the sheriff orders a "diablo sandwich" in a hurry.

A friend of mine down the road was born in Acapulco, and married a Cherokee woman up here; his son is thus half-Mexican and half-Cherokee. That son ate chili with us exactly once, and then pleaded that he was full and wanted to take the rest home. He offered it to his father, who declared that it was too hot to eat; my wife likes to point out that I'd made that batch mild because she had a stomach bug. 

* She's also wrong. The heat of the chile isn't in the seeds, and isn't removed if you remove the seeds. Usually if you're going to be patronizing on purpose, it's a good idea to make sure you know what you're talking about.

** There's not a universal standard on the spelling. Around here we use "chili" for the meat stew made with peppers we call "chiles," which is eaten whether or not the weather is "chilly." It's actually good in hot weather, as it makes you sweat, another reason that spicy food has long been popular in the South -- it's cooling. 


*** I assumed it was a girl because of the story being about a boyfriend, but I forgot how different San Francisco’s community standards are from the ones we have here. 


Back on the “part of this stereotype is justified” hand, I found this cookbook on the “Free! please take it!” shelf of a used bookstore in Waynesville, North Carolina. Apparently there was limited interest. That is too bad! It’s a fantastic cookbook that has great stuff from around the world. I recommend it highly. 

Honky-Tonk Ladies

A few classic pieces by greats of the genre.

High Angle Training in Paradise Gorge


I imagine Mike G. knows of Paradise Falls and its attendant gorge. There are innumerable waterfalls around this part of western North Carolina, but this is one of the most dangerous for several structural reasons. It's also very popular among risk-seeking college kids who obey no safety precautions whatsoever, drink and smoke dope, and sometimes try to leap from the top of the falls to the pool below (not always successfully). 

Naturally, therefore, we train there regularly and operate there regularly as well. Tonight a high-angle team came into the district for a training exercise, which we were invited to join. 

What Could Go Wrong?

The recent movie Oppenheimer pointed out that they set off the Trinity test bomb knowing that their calculations showed a non-zero chance it would destroy the atmosphere and kill all life on Earth. Turns out, that wasn't the craziest idea that came out of the Cold War.
The idea of Project Retro was simple: 1,000 huge rockets, normally used to launch nuclear weapons and spacecraft, would generate so much thrust that Earth’s rotation would briefly pause.

This would mean that Soviet nuclear missiles would overshoot the missile bases they were aimed at.
That's true, it would have meant that if it were technically feasible. But also...
[T]here were several flaws in the plan, Ellsberg realized.

The ‘angular momentum’ of rocks, air and water on Earth’s surface would mean that everything on the planet would continue moving sideways at enormous speed (at the equator, the speed of Earth’s rotation is just over 1,000mph....

'An awful lot of stuff would be flying through the air. Everything, in fact, that wasn't nailed down, and most of what was as well, would be gone with the wind, which would itself be flying at super-hurricane force everywhere at once.’

Ellsberg explained that cities on the coasts would be wiped out by huge tsunamis, and the apocalypse unleashed by Project Retro would, ironically, be as bad as anything that thermonuclear weapons could do to our planet.

Ellsberg wrote: ‘The Minuteman launch control officers, safe in their capsules deep underground, would have even less reason than in the foreseeable conditions of nuclear war either to launch their missiles or to come above ground, since there would be nothing left to destroy on the surface of the Soviet Union, or the United States, or anywhere.

‘All structures would have collapsed, with the rubble, along with all the people joining the wind and the water in their horizontal movement across the face of the earth, into space.’

Fortunately, it wouldn't have worked anyway. You'd need a lot more than a thousand rockets to stop the earth. 

VDH on Collapsing Legal Protections

This is another article on the rampant corruption and unfairness attendant to the multiple lawfare attacks on a certain Republican presidential candidate, but it's by VDH and has his usual care. I think he raises some very important issues, especially his first three points: the vacating of statutes of limitations in virtual bills of attainder; violations of the Bill of Rights being allowed and entertained -- even encouraged -- by the courts; and what he calls "the invention of crimes," which I have described here as "very novel legal theories" about what exactly the crimes are supposed to have been.

It's likely as not that these failures of our normal legal protections will end up hurting the rest of us too. It probably won't be the case that these weapons are cast aside once they've been used against their intended victim. If they prove powerful, those interested in power will continue to want them.

"Female Self-Pity"

I was reading a column by Heather MacDonald last week that contained this striking phrase. (I admit I don't always look at the author's name before reading the column, so it was only at that point that I realized I must be reading a female author and went back to check who it was: probably no male journalist would dare to have used those words.) 

She was talking about the wave of hysterical protests on college campuses that have gotten so much attention lately.
The female tilt among anti-Israel student protesters is an underappreciated aspect of the pro-Hamas campus hysteria. True, when activists need muscle (to echo University of Missouri professor Melissa Click’s immortal call during the 2015 Black Lives Matter protests), males are mobilized to smash windows and doors or hurl projectiles at the police, for example. But the faces behind the masks and before the cameras are disproportionately female...  Why the apparent gender gap?... [note] the sex skew in majors. The hard sciences and economics, whose students are less likely to take days or weeks out from their classes to party (correction: “stand against genocide”) in cool North Face tents, are still majority male. The humanities and soft social sciences, the fields where you might even get extra credit for your intersectional activism, are majority female....

Student protests have always been hilariously self-dramatizing, but the current outbreak is particularly maudlin, in keeping with female self-pity. 
The phrase struck me, though, and I've been trying to decide whether or not -- or to what degree -- it is fair. On the one hand, I think that social media is responsible for giving women a skewed view of reality that leads them to conclude, on the basis of that skewed information, that they ought to view themselves as genuinely oppressed. 

For example, I saw a short clip on Facebook of Taylor Tomlinson talking about how women have to fear never getting home alive when they go out at night. I often see social media stuff that repeats that memetic point: women are in grave danger from men, who by contrast are happy-go-lucky in going abroad in the dark. 

Yet, as is often pointed out in this space, the statistics show the exact opposite: men suffer much higher rates of all forms of violence than women, including rape if our society's prison violence is included in our count. Indeed, the male experience of violence is so different that it can account for why some sex between men and women is thought consensual by one party and rape by the other:
My guess is that this didn't seem like violence at all to him. She invited him in, she didn't fight, she didn't curse or spit, perhaps she didn't even argue when asked "Why not?" In the morning she made him breakfast and carried on as if there was a romance. He may well have no sense of her experience of the evening at all, and can't be expected to without having it explained to him.

The markers that he would rely upon to know that he was entering the territory of violence are not present. In the world he likely lives in, if it's anything like my world, violence and force are accompanied by clear markers of rage and reaction. She showed no sign of either.
These female rage "sessions" are, I think, the product of a similar market function. There's money to be made teaching women they ought to be angry (and therefore pay for what the seller is pleased to describe as "therapy"). People tend to believe what those in authority tell them, and "therapist" is considered a position of authority even when the therapist's training is that they practice yoga and provide "intuitive," psychic, and speak-to-the-dead medium services on the side. (I personally know such a therapist, one highly praised by Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop network.) So of course they ought to be angry: their therapist says they've got a lot of anger to "heal." 

On the other hand, women aren't helpless victims of social media: they're active participants in telling each other these stories about how miserable their lives are. This Mother's Day weekend produced an endless stream of videos by women complaining about how horrible motherhood is, especially while the children are young. There does seem to be some self-pitying going on there, one that doesn't acknowledge or accept that the tough parts are shared by fathers too (another person I know, a younger father, spent ten hours in the ER with his son after a baseball injury this weekend). 

Women aren't given the data fairly, but the data is there for them to see and reflect upon if they wish. 

There's doubtless male self-pity as well, especially among younger men (as younger people in general are more neurotic and therefore less happy; and what makes people happy is weird anyway). It doesn't have the cachet, though: crying women at protests may move mountains, but crying men aren't going to persuade anyone of anything except that they're losers. That may explain why we see a lot less of it on social media: not that men are less inclined to self-pity, but that it doesn't help young men to display it in the same way that it seems to be an important part of advancing the displaying young women's agendas, whether on Climate Change, anti-Zionist, or pro-Progressive/Socialist/Communist. 

In any case, it caught my eye in MacDonald's piece, and I wondered what the rest of you thought about it. 

Big Bear

I finally saw my bear. Conan alerted me. The bear is big and beautiful, 350 pounds at least. 

I’ve been protecting him from bear hunters for five years, and I’ve often seen his scat, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen him. He’s obviously thriven wonderfully under my protection.

He’s a good neighbor. Never bothered me, or my flock, or my garden except to roll the logs back from the raised beds to eat the ants, to which he is wholly welcome. 

Hiking the Graveyard Fields

For Mother’s Day, I took my wife hiking. We ate sandwiches on my fresh-baked bread to eat at the midpoint of the hike. 

The Graveyard Fields is a mile-high valley full of waterfalls and, of greater interest to my wife, innumerable species of trees and flowers that she can identify and lecture me about. Lecturing on her various passions is her very favorite thing; I only wish I were a better audience. I do try to listen politely, but even now I am sure I don’t remember all the details she was telling me about all the different plants. 

Fortunately the hike was pleasant and the motorcycle ride to and from there was also. This is a very popular area right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the crowds quickly winnow if you take the steeper hikes. Soon you will hear nothing but birds and, occasionally, the highway noise of the Parkway itself.