Sword of the Mountain Man

Mountain Man Jim Baker’s sword has been donated to a museum focused on his life. That’s a Sharps rifle in the picture also. 


Grim’s Mead

It’s commonly claimed (perhaps falsely) that the word ‘honeymoon’ refers to a month after the wedding in which honey mead is drunk in celebration by the newlyweds. Twenty-five years ago mead was hard to find! It’s enjoying some popularity now, but at the time we were married the only production mead was a brand called Chaucer’s that was only available as a speciality item in major cities. It’s not hard to make, but I didn’t know how, so our honeymoon involved no mead. 

Our silver anniversary, however, saw us broaching a bottle of my own concoction. My wife pronounced it to be “a very good batch.” 


Somehow I have never been familiar with this famous piece, the Emperor Concerto, which I stumbled on recently in a movie soundtrack. Other than recognizing it as Beethoven, I couldn't place it. Now I can't stop listening to it and can't wait for the piano sheet music to arrive by mail. This is the second movement, the Adagio. Look at the transport on the faces of the performers.

A Day of Some Local Importance

Twenty-five years ago today my wife and I were married at Amicalola Falls. In the ensuing years she has not accompanied me on all my adventures, but most of them; and when I have gone on ones too far or too dangerous, she has been the one I could trust to keep the home front secure in my absence.

Three years to the day later, we spent our third anniversary in the hospital as she gave birth to our son. He is twenty-two today, now studying emergency management by day and taking firefighter certification courses by night. I am very proud of him.

Today is also the summer solstice, aligning our personal time-keeping with that of the heavens. I hope you all have an excellent day today.

Bump-Stocks: A Compromise

After the Supreme Court struck down an unconstitutional ATF rule, Democrats in Congress tried to fake a vote to pass legislation banning them.
Democrats tried to force a voice vote on the bill to ban bump stocks, a tactic often used by both parties when they know that they don’t have the votes to pass legislation but want to bring an issue to the Senate floor. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, would ban the sale of the devices, similar to the rule issued by President Donald Trump’s administration after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival in 2017 with semiautomatic rifles equipped with the accessories.
The Supreme Court ruling was not that these devices enjoy Second Amendment protections, but that the ATF rule process effectively stole legislative authority from Congress. If Congress did pass such a law, it would probably survive review: as I wrote at the time:
They're not good technology, making the rifle less accurate and unstable. I don't think it meets any the tests SCOTUS has set up for this: it's not a weapon that serves a viable military use suitable for militia service (US v. Miller), nor is it in common use for lawful purposes (it's uncommon), nor is it part of any sort of historical or traditional understanding of the right to bear arms (it's a gimmick mostly used to play on the range).
However, there's good reason to oppose the ratchet effect of increasingly banning things until Americans are less free than once. I could accept adding these devices to the list of those things controlled by the National Firearms Act, but in return we should get something back that we'd rather have. 

I think the obvious choice for a trade is the suppressor, often called the "silencer." The suppressor improves the function and safety of the weapon. Because they lengthen the barrel, they improve both accuracy and power. Because they reduce the noise, they reduce the risks of hearing loss associated with practice. 

They should be protected under the Second Amendment under two of the three tests. They have a clear militia function: the US military uses them, and so you can see a clear use for militia in similar roles. That satisfies Miller. They are in common use for lawful purposes -- they are so valuable that many people go through the trouble of obtaining one through the National Firearms Act regulatory structure. The only test not clearly satisfied is the Bruen test, because we do have about a century of historic tradition of them being regulated by the state. However, if Congress passed a law changing that, there's no reason they shouldn't.

Although I oppose the National Firearms Act in principle, legislation is generally an act of compromise. Here's one that seems reasonable to me: swap suppressor/silencers for bump stocks in an alteration of the National Firearms Act. That would not ban bump stocks, but make them available only under stricter regulations and with high taxes; it would, in return, allow suppressors to be sold more freely than they are currently. We would not be participating in the ratchet effect, but trading something better for something worse. 

As a compromise of the sort that Congress used to do when it was a more serious organization, that makes sense to me.

New Waylon Music

This is the most exciting news I’ve heard in ages. 

Pride and Tolkien

The other day AVI was writing about pride, in the Christian conception that it is a sin rather than the American elite's concept that it is a virtue. (This is, I reminded him in the comments, "Pride month"!)

Thomas Aquinas wrote quite a bit about this subject. As readers know, a major part of Aquinas' work was adopting Aristotle's ethics to Christian practice and theology. Here is an area where it might seem that Aristotle and Christianity come apart, though: for as readers of this blog also know, Aristotle's capstone virtue was Magnanimity, which is the virtue of those who use all their other virtues to pursue 'that which is most honorable.' This is actual, complete virtue, and it is the virtue of the best people who deserve the most honor. 

To do that which is most honorable is to merit high honors; and to seek to merit high honors is surely prideful, since it sets you above others who deserve less. The Latin word for pride is "superbia," meaning that you think you are better than others. But this man really is better than others, and strives to be so. In doing so, he not only becomes better than others, he becomes the best kind of person. This is really a virtue, too, because it creates an excellence in one's self -- and it also improves things for everyone else, who benefit from all the excellent things being done that merit their respect and gratitude. 

Aquinas gives a fairly straightforward answer that aligns magnanimity not with pride but with humility, which might at first seem surprising. The sin of pride is to seek not that which is most honorable, but things beyond what reason tells us is most honorable. To seek that which is best and most honorable, but not beyond what one ought to seek, is humble -- and therefore humility and magnanimity are almost the same thing. 

An analogy to Tolkien will make this puzzle become clear. It was the humility of Gandalf that kept him from taking the Ring and striving for the power of Sauron. In this way, however, he was also doing what was most honorable for a being of his station -- he, indeed, was the only one of the wizards who actually remembered and kept to his assigned mission. In this way he is the most praiseworthy of his order, which is magnanimity realized. He strove always for what was best, and never strove to go beyond his place in the created order. 

Saruman by contrast shows pride. Appointed to a higher position than Gandalf, to be the White Wizard and the leader of the Order of Istari and the White Council both, he strove to seize the Ring. His pride was his downfall, and led him not to deserve the highest praise but to deserve shame and condemnation. 

Honor is therefore a reliable guide to virtue, just as Aristotle says. It may be surprising that a desire for honor turns out to be compatible with humility, but the literary example shows that it is indeed. 

Hunting’s Over

Freedom for the other guy, too

HotAir on the ignorance of workers who overestimate their leverage with people who can walk away.
We have created a generation or two of profoundly ignorant people who think that they don't have to create value in order to extract it from others.

Fire Fighting Flyers

 This looks like fun!

Pickup Truck Song

He Does Not Listen

I will credit the artist once I figure out who it is. 

UPDATE: I got up early and split a load of firewood with my son, then made the egg breakfast from the post below. After that I took my son and dog to run some errands in the pickup truck. Then we had a traumatic injury call we ran together, as my father often did in his day. Now we’re going to have a great dinner of my chili and some tamales my wife whipped up while we were on the call. 

So a very fatherly day, in any event. 

Grim’s Egg Bites

Speaking of the chickens, here’s a breakfast dish I’ve developed because of the surplus of eggs. This dish quickly uses up eight. The three of us eat all eight in one sitting, my wife taking two, three each for my son and I. 

It’s a quick recipe to pull together. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease the muffin baking tin; line with small, street-taco size tortillas.* Add one-half slice American** cheese, then one tsp. sausage***. Crack one egg into each. Sprinkle with herbs,**** and then bake for 20 minutes. 

* They come out nice and crispy this way, but a better version can be made with pastry. It’s more trouble, and this is intended to be a quick breakfast food. Do what you prefer. 
** Or any melting cheese; today I am out of American cheese, so I’m using Swiss. 
*** I use raw Hot Tennessee Pride. You can use anything. It cooks in the same time as the eggs. I tested this with a meat thermometer the first few times to be sure. You may substitute cooked sausage if you want. 
**** This step plus the choice of sausage/cheese gives easy variations: you could use Mexican oregano, chipotle, chorizo and Queso Chihuahua for a Mexican flavor, or Italian sausage, mozzarella, and basil for an Italian flavor. 

Lincoln’s Favorite Chicken

Cowboy Kent Rollins is a chuck wagon artist with a line of seasonings and videos. He’s given to adaptation of traditional recipes to easier substitutions for contemporary audiences— here he offers boneless, skinless chicken thighs as a substitute for starting with a whole (live?) chicken. If you keep chickens like we do, skinning them out is easier than plucking them and deboning them is not hard nor with practice slow. If not, use the substitution. 

Now at one point you might think he says that this dish is made with margarine, but he really says "marjoram," the herb. Margarine is demonstrably ahistorical. Margarine wasn’t invented until 1869, in a French competition to try and find a low price substitute for butter for the army and lower classes. Don’t use the stuff here or at all. I find that birds won’t eat it if you put it out like you would suet, and the internet says it's not good for them because it lacks the kinds of fat they need even if you can get them to eat it. I would suggest never using it, but definitely not in a historical recipe. 

Otherwise I think you might like this. There's an alternative recipe here which is similar and likewise does include the butter, and that one cites its source in case you're wondering about the historical basis of all this. Cowboy Kent is not bad in spite of these occasional lapses; he does sometimes bury a cast iron Dutch oven in the ground in the old way. Some concessions probably make it easier for contemporary audiences to actually get around to trying these things out, too.