Tuesday, September 21, 2021

2021 is apparently making a run at 2020's "Worst Year of the Century" Award.

According to Claremont colleague Dave Reaboi, Angelo Codevilla has passed away.

A fine scholar, writer and patriot, he will be greatly missed--especially now. May he rest in peace.

And in Year Zero News, Ford's Theatre has some revisionist thoughts about its most famous attendee.

I have some thoughts of my own, the most printable involve increasing disgust and impatience with living in an era where moral and mental Lilliputians run the show. 

I will let Leo Tolstoy have the last word:

“If one would know the greatness of Lincoln one should lis­ten to the stories which are told about him in other parts of the world. I have been in wild places, where one hears the name of America uttered with such mystery as if it were some heaven or hell. I have heard various tribes of barbarians discussing the New World, but I heard this only in connection with the name of Lincoln. Lincoln as the wonderful hero of America is known by the most primitive nations of Asia. This may be illustrated through the following incident:

“Once while travelling in the Caucasus I happened to be the guest of a Caucasian chief of the Circassians, who, living far away from civilized life in the mountains, had but a fragmentary and childish comprehension of the world and its history. The fingers of civilization had never reached him nor his tribe, and all life beyond his native valleys was a dark mystery. Being a Mussulman he was naturally opposed to all ideas of progress and education.

“I was received with the usual Oriental hospitality and after our meal was asked by my host to tell him something of my life. Yielding to his request I began to tell him of my profession, of the development of our industries and inventions and of the schools. He listened to everything with indifference, but when I began to tell about the great statesmen and the great generals of the world he seemed at once to become very much interested.

“‘Wait a moment,’ he interrupted, after I had talked a few minutes. ‘I want all my neighbors and my sons to listen to you. I will call them immediately.’

“He soon returned with a score of wild looking riders and asked me politely to continue. It was indeed a solemn moment when those sons of the wilderness sat around me on the floor and gazed at me as if hungering for knowledge. I spoke at first of our Czars and of their victories; then I spoke of the foreign rulers and of some of the greatest military leaders. My talk seemed to impress them deeply. The story of Napoleon was so interesting to them that I had to tell them every detail, as, for instance, how his hands looked, how tall he was, who made his guns and pistols and the color of his horse. It was very difficult to satisfy them and to meet their point of view, but I did my best. When I declared that I had finished my talk, my host, a gray-bearded, tall rider, rose, lifted his hand and said very gravely:

“‘But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest gen­eral and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know some­thing about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would con­ceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.’

“‘Tell us, please, and we will present you with the best horse of our stock,’ shouted the others.

“I looked at them and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend. I told them of Lincoln and his wisdom, of his home life and youth. They asked me ten questions to one which I was able to answer. They wanted to know all about his habits, his influence upon the people and his physical strength. But they were very astonished to hear that Lincoln made a sorry figure on a horse and that he lived such a simple life.

“‘Tell us why he was killed,’ one of them said.

“I had to tell everything. After all my knowledge of Lincoln was exhausted they seemed to be satisfied. I can hardly forget the great enthusiasm which they expressed in their wild thanks and desire to get a picture of the great American hero. I said that I probably could secure one from my friend in the nearest town, and this seemed to give them great pleasure.

“The next morning when I left the chief a wonderful Arabian horse was brought me as a present for my marvellous story, and our farewell was very impressive.

“One of the riders agreed to accompany me to the town and get the promised picture, which I was now bound to secure at any price. I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend, and I handed it to the man with my greetings to his associates. It was interesting to witness the gravity of his face and the trembling of his hands when he received my present. He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in a reverent prayer; his eyes filled with tears. He was deeply touched and I asked him why he became so sad. After pondering my question for a few moments he replied:

“‘I am sad because I feel sorry that he had to die by the hand of a villain. Don’t you find, judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?'"


Friday, September 17, 2021

Meme for a Friday.

Just not as hope-filled as a Warhammer 40K meme, alas.

But, yeah, 'tis our contemporary world:

 


Fine, some hope:

Dante, Chapter Master of the heroic Blood Angels chapter, Warden of the Imperium Nihilus and the oldest surviving Space Marine not honorably interred in a Dreadnought, doing what he does best: striking back at the encroaching darkness.

 
Seriously, Guy Haley's Dante and The Devastation of Baal are two of the best 40k books, period. Not a flawless Mary Sue, Dante is just a man turned into a superhuman who carries the heavy burdens that come with leadership.

Even victory can be almost too much to bear.


This is ugly as Hell.

And for the record, it's the evil, cultic behavior forcing Gonzalez to step down

I think the merits of the second impeachment are arguable, but it appears that too many have gone round the bend in demanding a no vote and cultic litmus test.

If your loyalty to a political figure/ideology motivates you to threatening behavior, you need to break the hold before you lose your soul.

It's evil, cultic behavior regardless of which side of the spectrum it comes from

It either ends or more people will get hurt or worse.

At the rate things are going, bet on option number 2, God save us.

The Internet is NOT an archive.

Thanks to Amy Welborn for a link to this:

The internet does not preserve knowledge--it was not designed to, so it does not.

Enterprising students designed web crawlers to automatically follow and record every single link they could find, and then follow every link at the end of that link, and then build a concordance that would allow people to search across a seamless whole, creating search engines returning the top 10 hits for a word or phrase among, today, more than 100 trillion possible pages. As Google puts it, “The web is like an ever-growing library with billions of books and no central filing system.”

Now, I just quoted from Google’s corporate website, and I used a hyperlink so you can see my source. Sourcing is the glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together. It’s what allows you to learn more about what’s only briefly mentioned in an article like this one, and for others to double-check the facts as I represent them to be. The link I used points to https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing/. Suppose Google were to change what’s on that page, or reorganize its website anytime between when I’m writing this article and when you’re reading it, eliminating it entirely. Changing what’s there would be an example of content drift; eliminating it entirely is known as link rot.

It turns out that link rot and content drift are endemic to the web, which is both unsurprising and shockingly risky for a library that has “billions of books and no central filing system.” Imagine if libraries didn’t exist and there was only a “sharing economy” for physical books: People could register what books they happened to have at home, and then others who wanted them could visit and peruse them. It’s no surprise that such a system could fall out of date, with books no longer where they were advertised to be—especially if someone reported a book being in someone else’s home in 2015, and then an interested reader saw that 2015 report in 2021 and tried to visit the original home mentioned as holding it. That’s what we have right now on the web.

. . .

The first study, with Kendra Albert and Larry Lessig, focused on documents meant to endure indefinitely: links within scholarly papers, as found in the Harvard Law Review, and judicial opinions of the Supreme Court. We found that 50 percent of the links embedded in Court opinions since 1996, when the first hyperlink was used, no longer worked. And 75 percent of the links in the Harvard Law Review no longer worked.

People tend to overlook the decay of the modern web, when in fact these numbers are extraordinary—they represent a comprehensive breakdown in the chain of custody for facts. Libraries exist, and they still have books in them, but they aren’t stewarding a huge percentage of the information that people are linking to, including within formal, legal documents. No one is. The flexibility of the web—the very feature that makes it work, that had it eclipse CompuServe and other centrally organized networks—diffuses responsibility for this core societal function.

I have seen it happen here: I have block-quoted from news and story links which no longer exist. But for the block-quotes, they might as well never have.

If you want it to last, print it. There is no other option.

Otherwise, it could inadvertently (?) go down the memory hole. 

Speaking of which, your daily reminder that Big Tech is only the friend of shareholders and congressbeings:

Similarly, books are now often purchased on Kindles, which are the Hotel Californias of digital devices: They enter but can’t be extracted, except by Amazon. Purchased books can be involuntarily zapped by Amazon, which has been known to do so, refunding the original purchase price. For example, 10 years ago, a third-party bookseller offered a well-known book in Kindle format on Amazon for 99 cents a copy, mistakenly thinking it was no longer under copyright. Once the error was noted, Amazon—in something of a panic—reached into every Kindle that had downloaded the book and deleted it. The book was, fittingly enough, George Orwell’s 1984. (You don’t have 1984. In fact, you never had 1984. There is no such book as 1984.)

At the time, the incident was seen as evocative but not truly worrisome; after all, plenty of physical copies of 1984 were available. Today, as both individual and library book buying shifts from physical to digital, a de-platforming of a Kindle book—including a retroactive one—can carry much more weight.

Physical copies of media, people. There are no substitutes.

Anyway, read the whole thing--it's the unpleasant reminder you need.

As they say, you can't spell "class" without the vowel and repeating consonants.

 


Like most of the bummers set forth in Alanis Morisette's iconic pop tune, the pontiff's observation about an unvaccinated colleague does not qualify as an example of situational irony. 

A guide for the perplexed:


So here, situational irony would be more along the lines of suffering life-threatening complications from a life-saving vaccine.

Don't you think?

Anyway, while the observation is not irony, it does smack of schadenfreude. 

Which is fine, because you can probably find that in the Beatitudes or something.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Need to see this one again.

"So now you give the Devil the benefit of law!"

"Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"

"Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"

"Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down--and you're just the man to do it--do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law--for my own safety's sake!"

 

Accessories to mass rape.

That's the only way to read the FBI's handling of its purported investigation into the rape of hundreds of girls perpetrated over the course of 18 years.

Falsifying victim statements.

Let that sink in for ten seconds. 

Impossible to argue with this:

[Gymnast McKayla] Maroney testified that she was met with silence by an FBI agent after telling the agent of Nassar's "...molestations in extreme detail." She further stated that the FBI falsified her statement, said the agents involved should be indicted, and criticized Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco for not appearing at the hearing. [Gymnast Aly] Raisman testified that the FBI made her feel that the "abuse didn't count" but she felt said it "was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.”

Institutional corruption and societal distrust are a mutually-reinforcing spiral.

We are just about at fusion levels in that process.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Norm MacDonald, Rest in Peace.

The Canadian comic and actor died after a secret nine-year battle with cancer.

Effortlessly funny, and his cadence was part of it.

I predict he will be appreciated more now than while he was with us.

May God rest his soul.



Seven Days in January?

I think it is wise to keep the powder dry on this one.

Milley is a tacking oaf, but Woodward isn't entirely reliable in his reporting. 

If it is true--and it's still a big if--then he needs to be booted out the door posthaste.

Civilian control of the military is one of those essential norms that are supposed to be sacrosanct in a true republic. 

Recall MacArthur being tossed out on his arse by President Truman, and rightfully so?

If it's true, Milley should get the boot, too. 

But in our polarized madhouse, maybe not. And if not, Lord have mercy.

A lot of people these days seem to want something like a Caesar...and in the end, people in a democracy tend to get what they want. Good and hard, as Mencken said.



Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A sense of Providence.


 

As I have more than occasionally griped in these precincts, the family motor vehicle situation is a source of recurring drama.

The second most recent example was the SUV getting t-boned by a car while in a small town near Michigan's thumb. Everyone's fine, which is the most important part. But the insurance totaled out the vehicle rather than repairing it. Repairs would have cost more than the SUV is worth.

Still driveable, but...yeah. I'm ready for a bit part in a Mad Max reboot/sequel. And in this market, we're going to still be driving it for a while.

The most recent example is related to the second. In the process of trying to get the "Totaled" payment out of the insurer, I had to drive the Impala a bit, roughly 390 miles round trip, for some essential paperwork. The left side of the car was thumping like there was an unbalanced tire or something--not so bad at highway speeds, but obnoxious otherwise. And hey, there were two tornado warnings in the destination county while I was there. One which caused the brief closure of the institution I was visiting as I was there.


 

The transaction was completed, I made it back, and decided to finally take it into the mechanic. 

The left side tie-rod was almost broken. So "almost" that he said "I'm glad you brought it in."

While he was at it, he replaced the right side one and said that the gents who replaced the transmission had not put the cotter pins back in the tie rods--not that that was the problem, but a bit of a problematic oversight. Also, the transmission's whine sounds off to him. Too high pitched.

Argh moments, but nothing compared to the sense of relieved what-if at the timely fixing of the problem.

I have been in a car where a tie-rod gave out--at that point, it ceases to be a vehicle and becomes a primitive surface to surface missile. Blessedly, I was in a parking garage on that occasion, and the 10mph missile glided safely into a parking spot. 

And blessedly, on this occasion, it did not give out at all. Because there was no shortage of opportunities for it to have ended horribly. And for that I have to thank God.

Whether or not what we experienced was an according-to-Hoyle miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved.

My sense of faith is undoubtedly complicated, subjective, ranges all over the emotional map and can be difficult to express. But the sense of God sometimes imposes itself in dramatic fashion. And here He did so again, in the report of a not-quite-broken tie-rod.

In a sky filled to the far horizon with scudding gray clouds, the ragged rays of Providence still shear through.

 

 

 

Friday, September 10, 2021

The dehumanizing power of Information Age technology cannot be denied.

But on the other hand, there are mash-ups.

I give you Hip To Be The Sandman from James Hetfield & The News.

 



2021 is apparently making a run at 2020's "Worst Year of the Century" Award.

According to Claremont colleague Dave Reaboi , Angelo Codevilla has passed away. A fine scholar, writer and patriot, he will be greatly mis...