Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A fun Youtube diversion.

Ordinary Sausage, wherein a gent makes sausages from ingredients both sublime (Beef Wellington) and atrocious (toothpaste).

Very enjoyable.


"That silly man who wouldn't use his wireless!"



Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,

et vobis fratres,

quia peccavi nimis

cogitatione, verbo,

opere et omissione...

--From the 1970 Order of Mass


 I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested/

I'd like to think that if I was I would pass/

Look at the tested, and think "There but for the grace go I"/
Might be a coward, I'm afraid of what I might find out/
Never had to/
Knock on wood/
But I know someone who has/
Which makes me wonder if I could/
It makes me wonder if/
I've never had to/
Knock on wood/
And I'm glad I haven't yet/
Because I'm sure it isn't good/
That's the impression that I get/

 --"The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (1997).

The late American author Walter Lord wisely entitled his immortal book about the S.S. Titanic "A Night To Remember." 

Due in no small part to him, the sinking still has a hold on the collective imagination of the world. Even in places like America, where the majority of people increasingly live in a perpetual present tense. Of course, Robert Ballard's 1987 revelation of the wreck site and James Cameron's technically-stupendous and narratively-vicious film from 1997 certainly play even larger roles.

The flow of books has increased because of the latter two, no doubt. Yet, there are still enduring mysteries from the tragedy. What were done with the ice warnings the ship received? What was the speed of the ship at the time of the accident? Did the coal fire in a fuel bunker play a role?

For my part, the great mystery has always been the identity of the ship whose lights were seen from the Titanic. In fact, the lights were so noteworthy that several of the lifeboats started pulling toward the ship lights.

Could this ship have rescued the Titanic's passengers?

Ever since I read Lord's book, the ship that most likely to fit the bill is the Californian, a 5,000 ton steamer which stopped in the evening before the sinking to avoid trouble with the ice. It is undisputed that the Captain of the Californian, 36 year old Stanley Lord (no relation to Walter), had no experience in dealing with field ice. The decision to stop until morning was quite sensible. 

How the Californian's deck officers behaved after they stopped that evening has been the source of endless controversy.

In my opinion, that controversy has always seemed more apparent than real. To me, the defenders of the "slackness" (to use Captain Lord's own term) of the Californian's officers that night offer arguments that are a colorfully-lit flambé of ingenuity sitting atop an over-cooked hash of special pleading, speculation, hero-worship, unsupported claims of frame-ups and studied ignorance of inconvenient data.

That is because there is no dispute that (1) the crew of the Titanic fired eight white distress rockets into the sky starting around 11:40pm and (2) the crew of the Californian saw a ship firing eight white rockets into the sky at the same time.

The Second Officer of the Californian, Herbert Stone, noted the first rocket and reported it to Captain Lord. In response to this, Lord asked for the color of the rocket (he was napping in the chart room at the time), and was told the first rocket was white. He told Stone to try to contact the ship with a Morse lamp.

White rockets were universally known to be distress signals--there is no dispute here.

The ship did not respond. Stone and other crewman noticed other rockets being fired, and noticed, over time, that the lights of the other ship began to look "queer," and admitted this was consistent with a ship with a list.

Then, some time after 2:00am, both lights and ship vanished.

The Titanic sank at approximately 2:20am.

Ever since, the supporters of Captain Lord have, with much hand-waving and minimizing, dismissed the rockets as roman candle flares, some form of unknown shipping company signal, or something else from an unknown ship that has defied the most dogged nautical research in history and also fired eight somethings into the same night sky in the same basic patch of the ocean. Whatever else may be said, the persecuted Captain Lord's ship definitely did not see the Titanic's distress rockets, say the Captain's defenders.

The last word on the subject should be the late Leslie Reade's 1993 book The Ship That Stood Still: The Californian and Her Mysterious Role in the Titanic Disaster.

As a matter of definition, the defenders of Lord and the Californian are called "Lordites." Their opponents are called "anti-Lordites." Reade was a definite anti-Lordite, but it is to his very great credit that his presentation led me to have more sympathy and respect for Lord by the time I finished. 

This was not what I expected, to put it mildly. In my mind, this is extremely important, as Reade points out that it was Stanley Lord's otherwise spotless record and post-retirement gentlemanly charm which created the dogged devotion of the Lordites that persists to this day. As you can see from my last full paragraph above this one, I am in the anti-Lordite camp, despite that increased sympathy and respect.

If I could sum up the crux of Reade's argument in one vulgar catchphrase, it would be 


As said above, Lordites have tried to dispense with the rockets by claiming such were company signals. 

"Company signals" were a way for ships to identify themselves as part of a particular shipping line--and were fading out of use by 1912 anyway, in part due to the companies themselves frowning on using them. As an example of Reade's impeccable research, he obtained records detailing the company signals used by all the shipping companies which traversed the North Atlantic at the time. And this last company had no ships remotely in the vicinity at the time. Three companies used white lighting or flares, but punctuated them with other lights or signals, and none used full fledged rockets. None of these companies had ships in the area at the time, either.

As can be seen, Reade leaves no shell unturned in his analysis. He read the voluminous transcripts of the American and British inquiries. It is patently clear that Reade regarded the American chairman and Michigan Senator William Alden Smith as a good-hearted buffoon: florid, ignorant of nautical matters, painfully repetitive and given overmuch to bombastic speechifying. And to be fair, there was a good deal of posturing, ignorance and baffling question threads on display from the American Senators on the committee. 

But Reade just as readily concedes that the findings and recommendations of this much-condemned (at least by the British) American assemblage were sensible, well-supported and judicious. And, for all of his understandable facepalming at Smith's rhetorical flights, Reade concedes that Smith's presentation speech for the findings was delivered to a spellbound audience and elicited no few tears. [For a more positive and largely-persuasive evaluation of Smith and the work of the American hearings, I recommend Wyn Craig Wade's The Titanic: End of A Dream.]

Yet Reade is no respecter of persons or nations, and he takes a switch to the flaws in the British hearings, too. He pointedly notes that, unlike the supposedly-inferior American version, there wasn't much interest in hearing from passengers in Britain--certainly no one below First Class. It was the British Board of Trade as both plaintiff and defendant, and despite the selection of capable and knowledgeable men to head the hearing, it was an upper class corporate proceeding from beginning to end. Reade is scathing about that part of it, sounding like an old school Labour man--and I mean that as a compliment. 

Moreover, Reade is in the ideal position to swat at each of the hearings, as his familiarity with and command of both volumes of transcripts is that of a virtuoso.

Finally, to the transcripts themselves and the Californian officers' testimony. 

It is some of the most irritating testimony I have ever read. Most of the Californian's officers refused to admit that they thought the white rockets were "distress rockets." The British questioners, experienced barristers all, were almost indignant with the obtuseness of this evasive testimony, as white rockets were uniformly-recognized as distress signals. 

One can only come to the conclusion that there was a meeting of Lord and the senior officers to coordinate their stories after learning of the sinking. Statements were drawn up on the way back to Boston. An additional dubious oddly was that the ship's "scrap log," a standard draft document which contained the weather conditions and locations of the ship for entry into the official log, went missing. This, to me, suggest that the Californian was much closer to the Titanic than the 19.5 miles claimed by Lord.

These and other problems were noted in the British inquiry, which finally squeezed out of Lord an admission that the white rockets may have been distress signals.

To which the Californian responded with a Morse lamp, but not turning back on its wireless. Tragically, the Californian's wireless officer ended his 16 hour shift at 11:30pm that fateful night, missing the distress signals that blared from the Titanic until nearly the end.

It would have been a simple matter to wake him up and crank up the wireless--but that did not occur to any of the deck officers.

Hence the quote at the top of this post. 

It came from Carpathia Captain Arthur Rostron, whose ship under his orders heroically charged to the rescue of the Titanic's passengers that night. While sympathetic to Lord as a brother officer, he uttered that statement to his fellow officers when privately discussing the controversy.

A final interesting fact about Reade's book is not that he spent years writing it. It is that it took nearly twenty years from his completion of the work in 1975 for it to see print. Edward DeGroot was Reade's Dutch friend and collaborator and authored the final chapter added to the book after Reade's death to account for yet another British inquest in 1992. This last contained conflicting views, and satisfied no one.

He indicates that the publication delay was due in part to the eminent Lordite Leslie Harrison, the greatest champion of Stanley Lord, revoking his permission to use certain material that he originally granted to Reade. After publication, Harrison sued Reade for defamation (on dubious grounds to me, objecting to being characterized as badgering an elderly witness to make a pro-Lord statement) and unauthorized use of a photo of Harrison given to Reade (on more solid ground here, but petty beyond words). If I understand correctly, the suit was settled with an agreement to remove this material in the next printing of The Ship That Stood Still--which never occurred.

Indeed, it is probably safe to say that the antagonism between anti-Lordites and Lordites exceeds that displayed when the principals involved in the incident were still alive. Reade certainly had no respect for Lordite arguments and the bare civil minimum for their persons--though at least some sense of genuine respect for Harrison occasionally glints through the contempt for the latter's efforts.

I've never been a Lordite, and never will be. The answers given by most of the Californian's officers during the British investigation were incredibly (in both senses of the term) evasive. But I do feel considerably more sympathy for Lord. His nautical service was otherwise honorable, including later in wartime. But on the night of the sinking, the "slackness" (to use his own term) of the officers was inexcusable. Faced with that reality, he followed the self-serving route and tried to cover his backside. The cover story broke down under contradictions and sheer weight of falsehood. The stain never came off. 

In the end, I think he came to believe his untruthful version. Ultimately, and unfortunately for Lord, there was another captain on the ocean that night who behaved in the finest traditions of seamanship: Rostron. Against that exemplar, he did not remotely measure up. Lord is not the cartoon villain some anti-Lordites will suggest, but he is certainly a moral cautionary tale. But for the grace of God go I.

Who is 2021 America to judge?

The federal prosecution of FGM cases in Detroit came to a probable end today.

An undoubted horror we are sure to see more of, sadly.

In the meantime, increasingly-common and legal versions of child genital mutilation were given further protection in one-seventh of America

An undoubted horror we are sure to see applauded, sadly. 

A difference being that the latter will be lavishly-funded and lucrative for the doctors and corporate suppliers involved.

Good luck trying to have it both ways, dying empire of empty men.

    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death's twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Labor: The most important part of the economy.

The primacy of labor has never been more on display than right now--people make the machine run.

And this article from the Atlantic does a nice job of summarizing "supply chain issues" worldwide.

If you look hard enough at the problems plaguing any other part of the supply chain, you eventually find the point at which the people who do the actual work of making and moving things just can’t keep up. Container ships wait offshore, sometimes for months, because ports don’t have the capacity—the longshoremen, the warehouse staff, the customs inspectors, the maintenance crews—to unload ships any faster. 

Truck drivers to distribute those goods were in high demand even before the pandemic, and now there are simply not enough of them to do all the work available. The problem is so bad that some U.S. staffing agencies have started recruiting truckers from abroad, and some experts worry that the Biden administration’s recently announced vaccine mandates for large employers could constrain that labor pool even more, at least for a time. 

Many industry groups and freight companies believe the number of vaccinated truckers to be low, according to FreightWaves, a website that covers the shipping industry. Small trucking companies anticipate that a significant number of drivers will want to jump ship from larger carriers, which will likely be subject to the mandates once they go into effect. Even in a best-case scenario, such upheaval would scramble freight availability for months.

Read further, and you'll see the horrors afflicting our meat-packing industry. Remember the death toll before you gripe about beef prices.

Anecdotally, this labor shortage spills down to the retail level, with local chain restaurants having limited hours, one nearby previously-booming sports bar closing permanently because of a labor shortage it couldn't resolve and all sorts of other employers, small and large, ringing the bell with job offers. A friend of mine in Indiana reported that her big box home improvement store had two cashiers available for an entire Sunday recently. And salary managers worked sixteen hours to help fill in.

My eldest son was virtually insta-hired at Home Depot. He has a 401k and, with the scaling up of hours, health insurance benefits in the offing. But my next-door neighbor, a department manager at another Home Depot, reports that they are still hurting for help. 

I don't have the beginnings of a persuasive answer, but it's clear that this problem--and the attendant consequences--will be with us for a long time.

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 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.


Thursday, September 09, 2021

"We regret that you noticed our enlightened book-burning."

You can tart it up all you like, but at the end of the day, you're still burning books.

And even more piquant: Catholics instigated it.

A book burning held by an Ontario francophone school board as an act of reconciliation with Indigenous people has received sharp condemnation from Canadian political leaders and the board itself now says it regrets its symbolic gesture.

The “flame purification” ceremony, first reported by Radio Canada, was held in 2019 by the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which oversees elementary and secondary schools in southwestern Ontario. Some 30 books, the national broadcaster reported, were burned for “educational purposes” and then the ashes were used as fertilizer to plant a tree.

Neat to see the resources of the Faithful so carefully-shepherded into the ground.

As White Goodman said in Dodge Ball: "It's a metaphor--but it really happened!"

The gauleiters of inclusion are, as stated in the title, just sorry that it came to the attention of the public:

“We regret that we did not intervene to ensure a more appropriate plan for the commemorative ceremony and that it was offensive to some members of the community. We sincerely regret the negative impact of this initiative intended as a gesture of reconciliation,” [school board spokesperson Lyne] Cossette wrote.

The old liberal consensus is on its deathbed, and illiberalism is ready to grab the spoils.

But here's the thing: this version isn't the only possible illiberal future. And behavior like this makes other versions more attractive.

The home that keeps on giving.

Suffice it to say, one thing I cannot complain about is the home we bought all the way back in 2010. It's a mite crowded with 8 of us in 2700 square feet (including the basement, which the listing cannot), but we can get away from each other as needed.

Because's needed.

In any event, my middle son has taken to woodworking. It has been a while since I have mentioned his aptitude for disaster--including once literally stepping on a rake in the yard, necessitating a trip to the ER.

And yet now, we are perfectly comfortable with him using saws, power sanders, and even a soldering iron. Though this last he has had less cause to use, so far.

The problem was, he was lumberjacking in our Florida room. The last phrase is a Michigan term for an enclosed, but not insulated, porch. Usually off the back of the house, and sometimes called a three-season room. 

And that is one of the escape places for everyone else 9 months a year.

Another problem was that our garage is not electrified, making the logical place to set up a workshop not workable until we can get some money in hand for the electrician. 


As it turns out, we were wrong--it IS electrified. Has been, the whole time...we just didn't discover it until my wife did some cogitating this weekend. 

You see, we have four switches by the side door. And until last weekend, we only sure of the use for one--our coach light by the driveway. 

My Much Better Half was struck by inspiration, and sent the Middle Son out to the garage with a light bulb, to an empty fixture. A few experimental switch-flips later...Fiat Lux.

So there's electric in the garage. And lost in the midst of our rapid move-in...there turns out to be a long power strip bolted to the left wall. Which is also electrified. 

Almost needless to say, the Woodworker was jacked (rimshot) and lunging to move in. Last weekend, he and my wife moved his workbench, scrap wood and donated bench saw to a newly-cleared and organized part of our 1.5 car garage. I was taking our youngest daughter out to earn a shooting badge, so don't get judgy. Middle son is happy as a clam and has already hacked out two new katanas for friends and family.

I will also note that he previously sawed out an extension platform for our TV stand, which has is useful beyond words. On that one, I helped--including finishing cuts, sanding and painting.

In the meantime, we are a bit unsure of the code-level quality of the electrification, so we are using an LED bulb and telling him to plug in one corded power tool at a time. But so far, so good. With the new roof we had put on the garage five years ago, he'll be in excellent shape for a while. And after some further experiments, we have solved one more mystery switch, leaving one puzzler to go. Presumably something outdoors, so as to fit the pattern of the other three? 

If so, we haven't figured it out yet. And it could be a non-functional switch just for looks, I suppose.


 A happy discovery in a summer of ups and downs.

Ryan George is always worth a watch.

I know: "Youtube Content Creator."

But it's good content.

His jabs at the Evil Rectangle God are worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

And in other news: Sport.

The NFL starts up this weekend, and the newest iteration of "Wait'll Next Year!" is here.

And its central skill players are injured.

I'll be my incorrigible optimist self and project that the Lions finish 4-13. 

I'll be even more optimistic and say that the Lions' playoff victory drought (last victory in 1991) will end before it hits 30 years.

Neither of these two predictions is grounded in anything resembling objective data.

The less I say about the pit-toilet that Wolverines football has become, the better.

The Americans at the Kabul airport are not hostages.

It's just that they're not allowed to leave.

Somewhere between 19 and 143 of them. 

A confidence-inspiring range of numbers there.

Good thing the competent adults are back in charge.

Say, the new "Dancing With The Stars" cast is out--google that, Citizen!


The Largest Collection of Carlist Artifacts in the Old Northwest!

Now that sounds like a contender for Top 5 Failed American Museum Concepts!

Somewhere after the Newseum, though.

And yet, the title accurately describes another quirk of their father for my children to puzzle over after I shuffle off this mortal coil.

But at least this one is stored in a small, easily-lifted-and-moved box, so will be of less annoyance than volumes about the Byzantine Empire. Less annoyance, if not bafflement. 

I have spoken of the Carlists before--here is the main post.

And, over time, I have snaffled a few pieces of Carlist history. Periodically, I will share them with you, who will likely be a slightly-less baffled audience.


For my part, the Carlists and the Basques are the most sympathetic participants in the War, and there is no small overlap between the two. Neither one got what they wanted from the conflict, though nowadays the Basques may one day realize their dream--and then promptly become a small cog in the German-run entity that is the EU. Careful what you wish for, as they say.

Today's collection consists of three of the four ration coupon posters I own (and have laminated as the paper was getting brittle). The posters are themselves 1940s reproductions of Carlist recruitment posters from the Spanish Civil War. They are perforated to allow removal of one of the 10 coupons for food or other items printed on the back. 

After the war, the Falangists ran the economy of Spain until roughly 1959, when Franco decided to put more-liberal minded Opus Dei economists in charge. Like all command economy fanatics, the Falange had a hard time working out the kinks with supply and demand. This was most painfully evident in food production, which was borderline famine-level in the mid-1940s. 

Hence the continuation of wartime rationing coupons (when Nationalist Spain actually ate reasonably well--especially compared to the Republicans). American economic aid following the 1953 Pact of Madrid led to stabilization of Spain, but the economy would not take off until the 1960s.

Boinas rojas manning something like a French 75.

Urging enlistment ("alistaros") in the 62nd Division. Enlistment was not a problem in Navarra, which was all-in for the Carlist cause.

More Navarran patriotism on display. Don't know how to flip it, alas.

The Cross of Burgundy is still used by the Spanish military as well as the Carlists. 

Amongst the options: lentils, bread, sugar, a herring, potatoes, cooking oil and...tobacco.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

And so it begins.

At long last, I realize I have too many books, and of uneven quality. I have also come to the painful realization that my children have little to no interest in reading them, despite what I regard as a wide range of topics. 

As I have told others, "children aren't their parents' clones."

They will follow their own paths, despite your experience-tested guidance.

At least they are not clones yet, but God and ferociously-pagan global Caesars only know what is being cooked up in government/corporate labs as I type this.

This sense of disappointment has also prompted the realization that I'm not really preserving or saving anything for future generations, despite my hopeful delusions to the contrary.

So, with the sense of mortality gradually becoming more acute and the desire to be merciful to the poor sod(s) who will have to deal with the bound tonnage after I am gone, I have begun a purge. A bit tentative at the moment, but I have already pulled about twenty volumes off the shelves. 

I have also become aware that I'm going to have to put a pillow over my sentimentalism. But as with most things, I suspect that will become easier with time.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Day 2 of Ignoring Those Abandoned by America in Afghanistan.

 The President, speaking to the nation about a disastrous job growth report:

"The third thing we have to do is we have to stick together."

Unless sticking together interferes with artificial political goals. In which case sucks to be you, dog-faced pony soldier.

Enjoy the "pivot to domestic issues" as you try to dodge the Taliban and/or ISIS.


Random notes for a darkening sky.

That we live in a time of obvious spiritual, social and political decay does not change our moral obligations to others or to ourselves. Each of us is still obligated to order our lives according to the light given us and the duties of our station.

Personal authenticity and integrity are never conferred by institutions. Least of all in times of universal deceit and corruption.



Thursday, September 02, 2021

Book review inbound.

 My hyper-verbosity is slowing things down, but I have finished an interesting book about one of the lingering controversies surrounding the Titanic and am working on a review.

Specifically, a book about the Californian, a steamer which undisputedly saw eight white rockets fired by a steamship that night. 

It is also undisputed that the Titanic fired eight white distress rockets that night, and saw a ship's lights not too far distant. Indeed, several of the lifeboats pulled toward said ship lights.

The Californian responded to the rockets via a Morse lamp, but did not otherwise act until the next morning, which her wireless radio operator turned back on his Marconi and learned that the Titanic had foundered.

More when I finish flinging too many words on the screen and then prune them back a bit.

And it's November.

  I look forward to making some kind of effigy of 2022 and setting it on fire on December 31.  Things have steadified, to coin a term. My so...