A New Middle East

Egypt's President urges Palestinians to lay aside grievances, co-exist with Israel. In completely unrelated news, the United States just opened a permanent military base in Israel for the first time.

Israel's survival is not thereby assured; Iran keeps promising to wipe it out with its missile program. But I heard somebody say something encouraging on that front today, so maybe it'll work out.

UPDATE: Also good news, Turkey isn't going to get some US weapons. They're not really allies any more, not under this government. Many Turks are great people, but at the moment we can no longer regard them as an ally.

Carrying a Knife is Legal in Georgia

This story has all the tribal things going on, which is going to make it hard to discuss rationally. Nevertheless, I think the headline captures the most crucial factor. Let's go to the story.
When Lynne Schultz first heard that her oldest child, Scout, had been shot and killed by a Georgia Tech police officer late Saturday night, she assumed it occurred at a protest rally.

Scout, she says, was politically active in progressive causes.... According to Georgia Tech police, Scout was seen walking toward police and ignored numerous orders to drop what appeared to be a pocket knife. Photos of the knife taken at the scene reveal the blade was not extended.

Video of the incident showed Scout, 21, shouting “Shoot me!” to the four officers on the scene. A minute later, one of them did.
The GBI is investigating. I also have some questions I'd like answered.

Under current law, a pocket knife of the size in question doesn't even qualify as a regulated weapon -- only knives 12" or longer are regulated, and those are legal to carry if you have a Weapons Carry Permit. Thus, when you see someone carrying around even a big knife, you can't assume they're committing a crime.

On a college campus, well, the law has just recently changed there too: Georgia instituted Campus Carry this spring. So, "person carrying a knife" is not evidence of a crime; the right response by the police might include 'lets keep an eye on them' but not 'let's draw guns and order them to drop the weapon.' Legally, it's not even considered a weapon.

The video makes it clear that the police bracketed this student from at least two and probably three positions (the last judging from an officer appearing from that direction right after the shooting). The closest one was behind a physical barricade.

The student was definitely being challenging and aggressive towards the police, which is usually a bad idea. The student chose to advance on the female officer, who was not the one behind a physical barricade. Though this student "identifies as non-gender-binary," the student was born male and was larger than the female officer. A reasonable female officer of her size, opposed by a larger person whom the officers clearly took for a male, might have felt that her options for effective self defense were limited. Though the knife was closed, it can be opened quickly; though she had numerous friends, and they had their target bracketed, she could not be sure anyone else would kill the student before a clash became actualized. Shooting to stop the aggressive advance may well have made sense, once she found herself in that position.

But why did they get in this position at all? I'm not concerned for myself, as there's an obvious road to avoiding getting killed in this circumstance -- put down the knife and discuss the issue with the police once you've made them comfortable. But this was clearly legal behavior, which they responded to by initiating an interaction built around the immediate threat of lethal force. They did this in spite of superior numbers on the scene, and in spite of the fact that the perfectly legal knife wasn't even open.

Lethal force in Georgia is supposed to be used only to stop an immediate threat of death or grievous bodily harm. In theory, that standard applies to police and other citizens equally. While they may have gotten to a place where the officer could reasonably claim that she felt she met that standard, they put themselves one step away from shooting in the absence of evidence of any crime at all.

View from the eye

This is a compilation I was looking for earlier, taken in mid-Rockport, with good time markers so you can see what part of the storm you're in and how long each part lasted--hours of intense wind from the east, then a long calm, then hours of intense wind from the west. This is the new Fairmont Hotel on Hwy. 35, looking north to the La Quinta across the street. I think we lost our internet feed around 7:30 or 8:00 pm Friday night; my last post reported that the house wasn't shuddering yet. We're about 10 miles northeast of where this footage was shot, so the eye went over us maybe half an hour later than it did in town, at about the same intensity. The peak winds from the first wall hit us around 10:45pm, the second wall a couple of hours later, and we were calm again before dawn. Notice that this hotel came apart but our house did not!

Sorry about the ad at the beginning, you can skip after a few seconds.

The cleanup effort is having an odd effect on me.  People I was trying to help before who were making me miserable because I couldn't find anything to do that they wouldn't obstruct or bat away in some fashion have now fallen completely off my radar.  It's a variety of triage:  if you're part of the problem instead of the solution, if your attitude is making things worse instead of better, I suddenly have other priorities to turn to, almost completely guilt-free.  Want to tell me how your daughter-in-law presumed to arrange for repairs without something or other first, poor you, FEMA is too stingy, I'm not insured, etc.?  Nope.  Moving on.  A neighbor called me yesterday somewhat miffed that she was just now hearing that there was some kind of list she was supposed to get on for help getting the roving volunteer teams to come to her.  She didn't know she had to get on a list.  I didn't even get mad at her; I just observed mildly that it was important to ask clearly for help (a lesson I've always had trouble learning).

Survivor guilt is making lots of us medium crazy.  Yesterday I found myself eating a piece of cake and mentioned to a companion that I was eating things I normally wouldn't, but I keep weighing every day and am not gaining, so I guess it's OK.  She sniffed at me, "Well.  I guess if you have time to weigh yourself, you're not very busy."  Again, not even tempted to snap at her.  She just moves off of my radar screen for the time being.  If you know you're helping enough, you don't have to pay attention to the self-appointed monitors' opinion of whether your effort is up to snuff, or where your level of suffering fits in her scale of just deserts.

This morning on our dog walk my husband got a cell-phone call, a rare event for him, as he hates to conduct business by phone.  Some chick was on the line was yelling at him that she just wanted to get hold of the person who called her a butthead.  I could hear him saying, "Whom did you think you were calling?  I really have no idea what you're talking about."  She finally instructed him never to call again.  He readily undertook not to do so, and blocked her number.  Ironically, of course, now we do think she is a butthead, whoever she is, the creature.

My husband keeps explaining to me that survivor guilt is irrational.  Why should he feel guilty because he built a sturdy house?  Well, that's like explaining that a fear of heights is irrational.  Sure it is; so what?  Do people really think feelings don't happen because we know they're different from rational analysis?  (OK, I know the answer to that question.  ;-))

One day more

Three things I can't resist:  flash-mob re-enactments, the Les Miz song "One Day More," and the Texas flag.

The Ridge

Majority of CA Democrats Oppose Free Speech

A clean majority, too: 53% of Democrats in California, a state that has elected no Republicans whatsoever to office, say that they prefer to curb speech than to endure the violence recently associated with controversial speech. Forty-six percent of California voters overall said the same thing.

In a way, of course, this is common sense. One can understand a preference for fewer violent protests, and many of the ideas being advocated are ugly. Why protect ugly ideas at the cost of undesirable turmoil? For the most part, people don't: codes restricting the freedom of speech for disfavored ideas are quite common in Europe.

Once we thought there was an important American principle, codified in our First Amendment, which it was our duty to defend. Once Democrats, and especially California Democrats, were at the forefront of defending that principle. No longer.

DB: Salon.Com Gives Weekend Safety Brief

This is for you, the Marine, soldier, sailor, airman, or whatever other title we give to the living tools of imperialist aggression. Look on these words and the unbearable whiteness of the page behind them and become woke to the dangers of the weekend....

If you are arrested in a military town, the police won’t respect whatever privileges you possess, be they white, male, or able-bodied. You will be treated the way the police treat young black males, and inmates will show you how it feels to be a person of color in White America every day....

We don’t want you drinking to excess because that supports white supremacy. Also when you get your haircuts, don’t comb them over to the side, because that supports white supremacy.
Turns out a lot of things do.

Fantasies About Vikings

UPDATE: Lars Walker pointed out yesterday that a noted scholar on women in the Viking age made the same points raised here last week (her post and mine were apparently more or less contemporaneous). They're obvious points, but it's good to see them not being ignored by serious thinkers in the field.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Morell

This decision is about honor, which will make it very difficult for some to understand. Praising and celebrating someone, or creating sinecures for them, are forms of honor. Morell is resigning an honor to protest the assignment of a similar honor by the same organization, thus in effect choosing to enjoy less honor himself in order to shame another. The other in question deserves the shame, and thus the honor assigned them becomes in a sense emptied: better men will refuse to share Manning's company.

Well done, Mr. Morell.


It worked, too.

But notice the penultimate paragraph, which shows that Harvard simply does not understand honor. The fact of a fellowship is an honor. The attention is an honor. The position is an honor. The opportunity to present yourself in a well-regarded environment is an honor.

They got this wrong because they don't understand honor at all. That's a significant problem: these who do not understand honor are training a significant part of our future leaders.

On History

I always think of this when I read about the relentlessly negative portrayals of historic American figures, destruction of their statues, and the like. It's the other side of a coin we were much embracing in the 1950s.

Bowie was indeed a bold man, and adventurous as far as that goes. He was also a rather infamous practitioner of land fraud, so much so that the US Treasury had -- if historian William C. Davis is to be believed -- a whole section devoted to him and his family at one time. Of course he was also engaged in the slave trade.

Once we celebrated such men without great discretion; he was Achilles to Travis' Agamemnon in the John Wayne version of The Alamo. (Wayne's own Crockett was Odysseus, of course.) Now we can't see the good in them.

We might take a lesson from others.
Huanglong said to the great statesman Wang Anshi:

Whatever you set your mind to do, you always should make the road before you wide open, so that all people may traverse it. This is the concern of a great man.

If the way is narrow and perilous, so that others cannot go on it, then you yourself will not have any place to set foot either.

Zhang River Annals
I always thought that particular lesson worthy. Jim Bowie was a man, and he did some great things and some awful ones. Mostly he did noteworthy things: even in fraud, he was greater than most. I wonder who among the critics today is as great as those they criticize, either in worth or in shame. But the great worth and the great shame often lie in the character of the same man. Like Bowie; like Jefferson; like others.

Get Off My Lawn, er, Roof!

83 Year old man ends hours long standoff with police of man jumping from roof to roof in residential neighborhood.  The police spokesman- "The grandpa did what we couldn't".  Good thing for grumpy old men, or who knows how long this nonsense would go on.

What's To Dislike?

The new Clinton book is garnering a lot of commentary today, and some of it is from people who have actually read the thing. I can assure you that I will not be buying a copy, nor reading a copy, at any point. However it happened, I remain grateful on a daily basis for the absence of a Hillary Clinton administration.

Some highlights of the blame game:
Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, who “wouldn’t be worth mentioning” had she not taken tens of thousands of votes in swing states that Trump won.
She wouldn't be worth mentioning, except that she is why you lost. Got it.
“Sexism and misogyny..."
Didn't we just discuss Jill Stein voters? That's why you lost those decisive swing states, right? Because of people who hate women so much that they voted for a different one?
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian hackers, for working “to influence our election and install a friendly puppet.”... Former President Barack Obama, for not giving a national television address about the Russian hacking so that “more Americans would have woken up.”
I have yet to see any convincing evidence that the Russians moved the needle on the election. Thanks to Ms. Clinton and her ilk, however, the Russians have subsequently enjoyed wild success at dividing the nation and convincing people that the American government is illegitimate.
Clinton’s own statement about putting coal miners out of business, which Trump repeatedly used against her....
Oops. But why would you think that would hurt you, after Obama said he was going to employ a plan under which electricity rates would 'necessarily skyrocket,' and that he too would put coal workers out of business? He won by running against these people. Why shouldn't you have gotten away with kicking them too?
Her “basket of deplorables” statement about Trump’s supporters, which was “a political gift” to her opponent. People "misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters."
It's true, they misunderstood. You clearly said that you only meant half of them.
Hillary hate. "I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people — millions and millions of people — decided they just didn’t like me,” Clinton writes — though she doesn’t understand the dislike. “What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I’m really asking … I’m at a loss.”
Look, here's the thing. All things being equal, people like people who like them. You, Ms. Clinton, made clear that you didn't like much of America. You also made clear that you didn't trust most of America, not to make good decisions nor to run their own lives. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially by someone who clearly thinks they can judge from on high how to order one's life.

The people who do like you, Ms. Clinton, are the people who don't like those Americans much either. They share your opinion that those Americans need to be controlled, corralled, and as you once said, have things taken away from them for the common good. You were talking about their money, but you also meant their guns, their choices on health care and their doctors, control over their lives in general. They were too stupid, too selfish, too deplorable in their characters.

That is why so many people do not like you, Ms. Clinton. It is because you don't like them, while at the same time you think yourself entitled to run their lives for them. Nobody wants to be ruled by someone who despises them. It's not the American way, not by a long sight. And that's why you lost an American election, and would do so again if we'd held another vote in July, or if we put it to another vote tomorrow.

At least, that's how it seems to me. Now, if you'll excuse us, Grim's Hall is done with you. I look forward to not having to think about you any more.

Porn, Republican vs. Jihadi

Apparently Ted Cruz and/or an intern of his 'liked' a porn video last night, which led to a huge amount of publicity today. I didn't go look up the porn in question, so I don't know what sort it was, but I figure that it's fairly a private matter that we should probably let slide. People having affairs is one thing, as that cuts in on their capacity to keep their sworn oaths. People having fantasies, well, that's something else.

Yet I do think that there is a kind of public interest in releasing Osama bin Laden's porn.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that the “documents retrieved from the 2011 Navy Seal raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden would be released in ‘weeks’—with the exception of one particular part of the haul, his pornography stash.”

The Newsweek article below indicates that “while these documents are considered operational, his porn collection is not, and will likely remain classified.” Whatever that means.
How is this classified, and what is the legal rationale for classifying this information? Information cannot legally be classified to avoid embarrassment or to cover up illegal activity. Al Qaeda is not a foreign government, so this doesn't qualify as foreign government information. There's no issue of protecting collection methods, as everyone knows how we collected the information: we sent DEVGRU to shoot him and scarf up his computers.

What law allows them to keep this information a secret? FOIA has nine specific exceptions that allow agencies to refuse to release information. The only one that could apply is 6, "information that would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." But Osama bin Laden is dead, and what personal privacy expectations does a dead terrorist have?

Jewish Conservatism

I am not myself the least bit Jewish, and thus might not be thought to care very much about this subject; however, I do have some Jewish friends, including one of the authors of this piece on why Jews might be becoming more conservative than heretofore in American politics. As they point out, there are several different sets of reasons that are impelling a reconsideration of political loyalties on that front.

I'm Pretty Sure That's the Purpose of the Pardon

Two left-leaning legal groups are suing in Federal court, arguing that President Trump's recent pardon limits the power of the courts. Well, the word they use is 'undermine.'

The pardon power exists to limit the power of the courts, just as any of the other checks and balances do. Most commonly, it is used to limit the power of the court when it issues unjust rulings, or unduly harsh ones. But that's not the only way in which the pardon exists to limit the courts; President George H. W. Bush used it to limit the courts' role as a fact-finding agent during the Iran-Contra period. Especially when the courts enter into political disputes, it is reasonable for the other branches to exercise their powers to limit the courts' role.

Indeed, when the branches come into direct conflict like this the resolution is found in the fact that there are three branches rather than some even number. Congress could impeach a president for a use of the pardon power they found unacceptable; if they do not, then de facto they are endorsing the President's use of this power. The courts are not meant to exercise dominance over the other two branches of the government; they are only co-equal to the other branches. When the other two branches are opposed to the courts, the courts should give way.

It'll be interesting to see if they do, though. In general, if you ask a Federal judge if Federal judges should have more power, the answer is nearly always "Yes." Finding judges who believe in courts' being constrained by the Constitution, rather than exercising a plenary power to rewrite it at will, is one of the key difficulties in selecting a better judiciary. My guess is that the courts are likely to accept this argument that no President should be able to limit their authority in this way, even though limiting the courts' power is one of the reasons that the pardon power exists.

Irma Passes Through

Outside of Savannah and its environs, things went reasonably well for a hurricane. Here it was a day of a few hours of strong gusts, plus a whole day of rain, but no serious issues. One transformer exploded nearby, but the power didn't go out for more than a second or two now and again.

Hope it went that well for the rest of you.

That's four hurricanes for me, now: Opal, Floyd, Isabel, and now Irma. At least, those are the ones I remember.

A Strange Anniversary

Sixteen years on, patriotism is bad:
[T]he opening weekend also began with an increasing number of players sitting down or kneeling for the national anthem, a precedent set last season by the now unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

When Kaepernick decided to kneel for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016, he said:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...."

From New York, to Alabama, to California, Americans were unified in support of their country and their flag.

“To me, there is an element of symbolism here with big-city America playing heartland America on the friendly fields of strife,” said then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue at a game between the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs. “We’re very proud to be back.”

Americans stepped back from political squabbles and even Congress got together to demonstrate solidarity. Republican President George W. Bush was movingly greeted with chants of “USA! USA! USA!” in liberal New York City.

The fissures of our society that certainly existed then as now, were smoothed over by the most obvious national threat. The motto of the time was: “United we stand.”

How things have changed 16 years later.
Looting is good:
An author and journalist came under fire on social media Monday, after she tweeted a reply to an anti-looting warning from Miami police by saying: "The carceral state... is inseparable from white supremacy."...
good morning, the carceral state exists to protect private property and is inseparable from white supremacy https://t.co/etynmh0rX5

— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) September 11, 2017
A Foreign Policy writer argues that immigration is coming to save you, but boy does he resent you:
All hail Western civilization, which gave the world the genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and global warming. How hypocritical this whole debate about migration really is.
Gee, only racists wouldn't want to bring aboard a whole lot more people who feel that way about America and the West. Especially since we get to enjoy not just the lecture on how awful our culture and ancestors are, but the resentment for having concerns about the changes to American culture brought about by immigrants who broadcast that they hate it.

All this on 9/11. It's like 'talking about the Queen on Independence Day,' only worse.

UPDATE: Related, I suspect: more Americans can't name any branches of the Federal government than can name all three. Our cultural elites are doing a great job teaching resentment, and a terrible job teaching civics. How does small-r republican self government remain possible under these circumstances?

Enid & Geraint

By custom and tradition, the only post on 9/11 is this recitation. However, this year, posts related to the hurricane or similar emergencies may occur.
Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.


This Dr. Seuss rhyme comes to you from a candidate for the United States Senate.

There's quite a bit of cursing. Also a beach ball.

A Step Closer to Shieldmaidens

A study making the rounds has gotten attention because it has confirmed, again, that Vikings sometimes buried women with what researchers had taken to be "male" grave goods. The study's authors are taking their findings a little further than the evidence suggests, and journalists are of course going even further than that.

The study holds:
Already in the early middle ages, there were narratives about fierce female Vikings fighting alongside men. Although, continuously reoccurring in art as well as in poetry, the women warriors have generally been dismissed as mythological phenomena (Gardeła, 2013; Jesch, 1991; Jochens, 1996).... The existence of female warriors in Viking Age Scandinavia has been debated among scholars (Gardeła, 2013; Jesch, 1991; Jochens, 1996). Though some Viking women buried with weapons are known, a female warrior of this importance has never been determined and Viking scholars have been reluctant to acknowledge the agency of women with weapons (Hernæs, 1984; Moen, 2011) (S1). The osteological analysis triggered questions concerning sex, gender and identity among Viking warriors.
The journalists got all the way here:
The remains of a powerful viking — long thought to be a man — was in fact a real-life Xena Warrior Princess, a study released Friday reveals.
So what this study does show is that high-ranking women in Viking society sometimes were buried with swords and other warrior-oriented grave goods. What it does not show, which both the study's authors and the journalists wish to show, is that the women in question fought in medieval battles. Like other later women of Northern extraction -- the Norman Philippa of Hainault, for example -- they may have commanded forces at a distance from the battle, in the manner of nobility or royalty. The Viking sagas and legends certainly seem to show that as well as the shieldmaidens we find sometimes, especially Lagertha from Saxo Grammaticus' mytho-history.

What you would want to show that someone was a fighter is archaological evidence similar to this from the grave of an English knight:
Four of the man's ribs showed healed fractures that may have occurred simultaneously, suggesting a single instance of trauma, researchers wrote in the pathology report. Another four ribs were in the process of healing, indicating that the man was still recovering from the injuries when he died. The other two damaged ribs also show evidence of trauma, and his left lower leg has an unusual twisting break, one that could have been caused by a direct blow or a rolled ankle, according to the report.
“This image of the male warrior in a patriarchal society was reinforced by research traditions and contemporary preconceptions. Hence, the biological sex of the individual was taken for granted,” the study authors wrote. Fair enough; let's not make the equal and opposite mistake by assuming that a person buried in a rich grave with warlike trappings was actually on the battlefield. This grave gives us a woman associated with war, but not necessarily a shieldmaiden.

Marching through Georgia

Macon, yesterday. Notice that both sides of Interstate 75 are now northbound.

You don't have to march all the way through Georgia, though. Georgia has opened its state parks for free camping, no pet fees if you're traveling with animals. NASCAR has opened the Atlanta Speedway and, if you want to press on a little further, Talledegah for the same purpose.