Conan Was Right

One of the conceits of the Robert E. Howard stories is that history has simply forgotten many ancient civilizations, which were far more technologically advanced than believed. He may well have been right about that.

Iceland's First Black Resident

Sounds like a fellow with an interesting story.
Hans Jonatan was born into slavery on a Caribbean sugar plantation, and he died in a small Icelandic fishing village. In those intervening 43 years, he fought for the Danish Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, lost a landmark case for his freedom in The General’s Widow v. the Mulatto, then somehow escaped to become a peasant farmer on the Nordic island.
Apparently he was the subject of an academic biography, if you're interested.

Briar Patch

Maybe this threat isn't aimed at Trump voters, whom I agree will probably not be much moved by it.

A Decent Act from the New York Times

The Grey Lady is taking one day off of its constant drum-beat to give a voice to the other side.

"'Mansplaining?' Nonsense, I'm a Democrat"

In fairness to Sen. Booker, 'mansplaining' is a stupid word; he's perfectly right that he should be able to be critical of a cabinet secretary regardless of sex. On the other hand, he wasn't at all fair or reasonable in his conduct at yesterday's hearing.

Ultimately his complaint came down to how unfair it was that the Secretary had produced the report on international terrorism that she had been directed to produce by a formal Executive Order, and not the report on white nationalist domestic terrorism that he would have preferred. He also objected to the fact that she didn't remember the President's use of a word he wanted to take offense to, such that her memory agrees with my Senator (David Perdue) rather than Senator Durbin (who has been known to lie through his teeth on occasion). What he wants is another Sally Yates, a woman who will refuse to do her job or carry out the President's orders, and then call him a racist after she is fired for nonperformance. Anything else? He'll scream at her and insult her publicly.

But that doesn't mean it's sexism. Maybe Sen. Booker would have treated Secretary "Chaos" Mattis exactly the same way, or White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. I mean, no doubt.

A Good Idea

There is a campaign calling itself "New California" that wants to separate the rural parts of California from the existing state. It's much easier to effect than secession, requiring only the consent of Congress and the state legislature. It is also a generally good idea for many states, not merely California.

Probably the biggest divide today is between the interests of big cities and the interests of everyone else. Almost everyone in America would be happier if they lived in a state which reflected the values of their community, and under a Federal government that was much less important. The 10th Amendment is the answer to the second half of that equation: if the Federal government does only what the Constitution says it should do, and the other powers devolve to the states or to the People as the 10th Amendment says that they should, then we don't have to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on a vast and diverse America.

That still leaves the problem that many states are dominated by a big city or a few big cities, whose interests are in grave tension with that of the rest of the state. A few states have big cities that are dominated by the rural majority, leaving them in a similar position.

The New California proposal solves the problem in a novel way. I think we should consider a similar solution in many other places. Perhaps we could do what William Gibson suggested, and combine the 'Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis' into a single state bordered by many rural states.

Parodies of the Day

The Resistance aids Darth Vader, via the Intercept.

Meanwile, DB: "Chelsea Manning hopes to become Senate’s first openly transgender disgrace."
“There have been many disgraceful senators,” said political analyst Rob Tembley. “In fact, there are many serving right now. Manning, however, would be the first openly transgender one.”...

“We need someone willing to fight,” Manning continues, referring to her inability to fight when her supervisor removed the bolt from her rifle after she was found in a cupboard in the fetal position.

Although the 30-year-old traitor with no advanced education is a historically unqualified candidate, supporters claim her emotional problems and mental instability make her a great fit for the current political climate.
It's a joke, kind of.

The Wild in Winter

Looking towards Roan High Knob

Spent the weekend in the border regions between the Cherokee and the Pisgah National Forests. It was fairly cold in the high country, single digits at nights. The stars are clear and bright when it gets that cold.

Two approaches

And as my husband points out, both countries are achieving their goals.

Vikings and Horned Helmets

Generally considered a myth, there turns out to be contemporary images of a man wearing a horned helmet from the Oseberg tapestries.
It seems like the figure with the horned helmet is leading the procession. He is somewhat larger than the others, something that may indicate his high status, and the figure is possibly portraying the god Odin....

The horned figure also appears in another textile fragment discovered inside the burial chamber. He is holding a pair of crossed spears in one hand facing a man wearing something that reminds of a bear skin. It is tempting to interpret the scene as Odin and a Norse berserker warrior (Old Norse: ber-serkir, meaning “bear-shirt”) who was said to be Odin’s special warriors.

The fragment also portrays a group of women bearing shields interpreted to be “shieldmaidens” (Old Norse: skjaldmær), women who had chosen to fight as warriors.
The article assumes the tapestry was capturing a myth, or a ceremonial costume.

A Fine Song for a Friday



If you made it through that, you're probably mad at me. But it's a fine song, just as I said, and so you'll perhaps forgive the shaggy dog story.

Besides, it's not bad advice. The part about the trusty bike, I mean.

"Treason"

On the one hand, I'm not sure that this rises to the level of 'treason.' It's not in the strict sense waging war on the Republic, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Even the latter phrase isn't meant to be construed lightly as 'doing things the enemy might like' or '...that might help the enemy,' but in concert with a war, actively aiding enemy agents. There's no war, at least not in the strictest sense.

On the other hand, it is a kind of coup against the elected government by what is sometimes called 'the Deep State,' and that could be construed as a waging of war on the Republic by certain members of the government.

Also on that same hand, it's a much more plausible charge of 'treason' than the ones that have been being leveled against Trump himself by the Left all this time: that he might have engaged in 'treason' by seeking to find out what Russia knew about Clinton corruption, for example. That's not war-waging against the Republic at all, and could even be said to be a kind of competitive good governance. The reason to have an adversarial politics is that everyone won't be cozy the way that the Clintons tried to be, but that instead things will be brought to light so the citizenry can hold the powerful to account.

I sometimes think that the charge the left really wants to raise isn't 'treason' but 'heresy,' only that they don't know how to frame that charge. What they really seem to mean is that Trump violates their basic ideas of what the Republic should be about. The recent pieces on Oprah as Priestess-Queen make clear the degree to which this is a more primal violation than treason: it is not really that the man has been disloyal to the state, but that he is a committed violator of their sacred ideals. Even if the worst things he'd been accused of was true, it would't be treason: it'd be unwise to take aid from Putin's intelligence officers in order to persuade voters to vote against Hillary Clinton, perhaps, but it would not be illegal. Yet this has always been treated as a capital crime by the President's enemies, intensely and passionately so.

We are getting closer to something. I wonder if all the go-along-get-along in the world among the comfortable establishment can avoid the powers being raised by these invocations.

Cats vs. Communists

Out in Austin, Texas, a young woman had an interesting idea for a business: open a coffee shop populated by her large cat collection, plus some cats who need adoption, and let customers pet the cats while they drink their coffee. Thus was born the "Blue Cat Café."

You might be surprised to learn that cats are compatible with a food service business, but apparently Texas law permits this. You won't be surprised to learn that a young woman caring for very many cats didn't have a ton of money with which to front a business, so she had to find a place with very reasonable rent for this operation. Thereby hangs a tale.



There is a longer version of the clip that opens that video, here:



Transcript: "You know, all you white people, you look really f'ing comfortable right now because you've got a small army of pigs to protect you. But they won't always be here. How does it feel to need a small army of pigs to protect you from the f'ing neighborhood?"

Notice that, in the first clip, the cafe owners confirm that 'they won't always be here' -- the police have told them that there will be no arrests nor prosecutions because they don't want to 'stir up more hate.'

Protest group 'Defend our Hoodz' has a Twitter account. They deny being involved in the vandalism, and raise counter-accusations that the young woman running the cat cafe has a racist brother she has subsequently invited to protect her establishment against these protests. 'Defend our Hoodz' are definitely Communists. They call for communal ownership of 'the land,' by which they mean all the properties in what they consider to be their neighborhood.

The Blue Cat has a Twitter account too. They are just as obviously progressives who consider themselves sensitive and loving. Peruse it for a moment and you'll discover it is full of rainbows, yoga, and women petting cats. One thing that the protesters are right about is that these are definitely "white people," in the sense of Stuff White People Like. But you push them, and you very quickly find the white people like her brother who form Nazi-themed weightlifting clubs ("the Liftwaffe").

Communists vs. Nazis, feuding over a cat-lady hipster cafe in Texas. Things like this don't really happen, do they?

John Hasnas: The Myth of the Rule of Law

The Barrister over at Maggie's Farm posted this the other day. Hasnas holds a JD and a Ph.D. in philosophy. His law review article "The Myth of the Rule of Law" argues that:

... 1) there is no such thing as a government of law and not people, 2) the belief that there is serves to maintain public support for society's power structure, and 3) the establishment of a truly free society requires the abandonment of the myth of the rule of law.
This is something I've often thought about as I've reconsidered my political beliefs over the last 20 years or so. I tend to agree on the first point for simpler reasons than Hasnas gives: People always make and enforce the laws. It's just a matter of which people and how. On the other hand, the government of law is an ideal to strive for, and I believe in the value of striving for unattainable ideals.

I don't know about his conclusions. Maybe we can hash those out in the comments.

Gorgeous Jupiter

It's incredible what a difference a close-up makes.

J. D. Vance Considering Senate Run

The man is most famous as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book that became very popular among coastal elites trying to understand the hinterland. That makes him a kind of celebrity candidate, in that he is really being considered for office on the basis of his fame as a cultural figure. On the other hand, it's not like he's a reality TV host or a talk show host: his fame depends on a set of ideas, set out and defended in book-length form.

I wonder how popular he would be with voters who are actually a part of the culture he discusses in his book. He was not entirely flattering to them. The opioid crisis suggests that some tough-love criticism is not out of order, but that doesn't mean that they'd like his analysis of just what he thinks is wrong with them.

Cliven Bundy Walks Free

The process is the punishment: he has not been free for two years, while the government tried to railroad him by withholding exculpatory evidence. But, at last, a Nevada judge has put an end to it.
A federal judge ruled Monday that the federal government may not retry Cliven Bundy and his sons after rebuking prosecutors for withholding evidence during their felony trial stemming from an armed standoff four years ago.... She said the attorneys were in violation of the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to disclose evidence that could be favorable to a defendant, and told them it wasn’t possible to proceed with the case.

On Monday, she dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning the government cannot retry the defendants. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," Navarro said.

It was yet another defeat for the federal government at the hands of the Bundy family, who have managed to elude prosecution in high-profile trials centered around standoffs with law enforcement over access to public land.

A Philosophy Professor Runs for Congress

Richard Dien Winfield is a Hegelian who teaches at the University of Georgia. He's running for the 10th District seat, which includes the college town of Athens and is thus an island of blue in a sea of red.

Here's his agenda.
1. GUARANTEED JOBS AT A FAIR WAGE
So that anyone who wants a job can get one with pay that truly reflects America’s rising productivity and prosperity

2. A SUPER MEDICARE FOR ALL
So that we all have access to quality care covering all needed physical, mental, and dental treatment without copays or deductibles

3. PAID FAMILY LEAVE, FREE CHILD AND ELDER CARE, AND $500 CHILD ALLOWANCES
So that no one has to make sacrifices to balance family and work

4. WORKER EMPOWERMENT AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Where employees have fair representation on corporate boards and collective bargaining so they have a say in decisions concerning work conditions, including equal pay, outsourcing, and automation

5. LEGAL CARE FOR ALL
To cover the expenses of all personal criminal and civil legal representation, so people can defend against discrimination, sexual harassment, wage theft, and more

WE CAN PAY FOR ALL THIS
By establishing a wealth tax on the trillions of dollars sitting idle in the coffers of the top 10%, instead of being invested productively in our economy
No, he's not kidding. Hegel's effect on Marx was no accident, perhaps: these are similar programs.