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Kipling, once again

It seems part of the human condition that we must routinely and repeatedly abandon what history teaches, only to be astonished when our stupid actions, based upon our equally stupid distortion of reality, turn around and bite us in the a**. It is, of course, popular and convenient to suggest that the only ones who suffer from this condition are “those people over there,” whoever they might be. The reality, I submit, is that it is a widespread condition, common to us all. Rudyard Kipling put it far better than I:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Three variables

From Ken’s Qwik and Dirty Definitions (also known as Definitions to Which One or More of my Professors Would Object)

  • Variable: something that can change
  • Dependent variable: a variable that can change as a result of another variable
  • Independent variable: a variable that does not change because another variable did
  • Tactical: decisions you make and actions you take that help you achieve an objective
  • Moral: “can you live with yourself” type decisions
  • Legal: at least in the jurisdiction in which it occurred, wha the law says about your actions

I recently had the opportunity to reread a Larry Correia post from several years ago. It offers a brief but very informed explanation of self defense shootings. Of particular interest, to me, is the point he makes that the tactical, moral and legal aspects of any violent encounter “don’t always match up neatly.” I’m going to express that this way: tactical, moral and legal are independent variables. It seems to me that for many people this is fine in the abstract, but not so much when faced with real-world cases. In those real -world cases, we find ourselves outraged because the real world winds up being far messier and less comfortably warm and fuzzy as we might like. We simply cannot tolerate the tension.

The Rittenhouse trial (and the events that necessitated it) are a fine example of the above tension. While I wasn’t there, the tactical aspect seems fairly simple to me, at least at first, and is reflected in my belief that you win 100% of the fights you don’t get in. When possible, it’s far better to avoid than engage. Better to avoid contact than have to break contact. If not possible, then, especially for the average person, better to engage and then break contact (if possible) than to continue to engage and increase your risk. These sorts of questions are answered by neither law nor morals.

The moral issues are perhaps not as clear. That they are moral issues is shown by the frequent use of the word “should.” It’s a word that implies a moral obligation. (Please note that the word “ought” also implies such an obligation, so no attempts at cheating) Thus, we have question like

  • Should he have been in Kenosha?
  • Should he have been where he was in Kenosha?
  • Should he have been armed?
  • Should he have been armed with the rifle he had?
  • Should he have fired the weapon at all?

There are more should type questions, but they are all moral questions. They’re good questions, but they aren’t decided by tactics or law.

Legal questions are the things that depend on statute, precedent and concepts in that world inhabited by lawyers and judges. These are the questions which determine if you get to be a guest of the state for a prolonged period of time – or, sometimes, even if the state is going to kill you.

Then tension comes in, I submit, in that many people thought he “should” have been found guilty. That’s a moral issue. They thought, perhaps, that his guilt was indicated by how he acted tactically once that whole situation went so horribly awry. The thing is, those are not, in and of themselves, legal issues. “But, but, but…he shouldn’t have been there at all.” I tend to agree with that moral assertion. “A warning shot would have been a good idea.” Aside from the fact that “warning shots” are never justified in any US jurisdiction of which I’m aware, that would have been a tactical decision. The jury apparently decided, regardless of what it various members thought regarding the moral and tactical decisions Mr. Rittenhouse made, that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of the crimes with which he was charged under the laws of Wisconsin. That was the legal decision.

I, for one, am beyond appalled that his parent(s) allowed him to go there at all, much less that they allowed him, once there, to venture out armed and without a full-time adult escort. Further, if I were going to be there and armed, I would have been carrying concealed or I would have kept my butt in a controlled area. Those are moral and tactical issues and they are significant ones that many people apparently wanted to address via the law, though arguably that is not the best way to do so.

Kyle Rittenhouse is not legally guilty of murder. Good, bad or indifferent, that’s just the way it is and will not change.

NOTE: If you look at the list of moral questions, I really do think they are good questions. I’d encourage you to be careful with how you answer them. I’ve seen a lot of people express opinions utilizing those questions that were little more than “she was asking for it” comments. That approach is morally reprehensible.

Things I learned from the Rittenhouse debacle

  • A teenage boy should be able to fight off multiple grown men with his bare hands. If he can’t, he just has to take a beating.
  • A length of laminated wood with a weight on the end simply cannot be used as a dealy weapon. No one has ever been beaten to death, or even nearly so, with a skateboard.
  • If you are carrying a firearm, you can’t use it to defend yourself if it’s bigger than an assailant’s firearm.
  • Being somewhere you arguably shouldn’t have been removes your right to self defense.
  • Crossing state lines with a firearm is always illegal, though no one can say when that magical change to the law occurred.
  • Social media is filled with people who possess the ability to read minds.
  • Conclusions that are not based on data are the best conclusions.
  • If you draw a conclusion which differs from the one that’s “obviously correct,” you’re either a rightwing, racist neo fascist OR a leftwing, anti-American neo Marxist.
  • Young Mr Rittenhouse is solely either a murderous villain or a great American hero.
  • People who have never been in a similar situation know exactly how they would have acted had they been in his place.
  • Not only is it a good idea to fire a “warning shot,” it’s a good idea to do so in an urban area.
  • Guns made specifically for right and left handed shooters respectively, do not exist.
  • It is impossible for two equally honest, sincere and well-informed people to look at the same data and draw different conclusions.
  • We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Horror

Among those who like horror, different people have different preferences for one kind of horror or another. Mrs. RM tends toward the visual blood, guts and gore stuff. Me? I like things like Lovecraft’s stories (racist pig though he seemingly was). So, in spite of his social “ickiness,” which really should be a word, I find the whole Cthulu mythos thing (for instance) more than a little fun. Lovecraft said he wrote “weird fiction.” There is a type of horror we might call eldritch horror. Eldritch, as it happens, can mean weird or ghostly. And so, we come to a place I once called home.

When I was a kid, we lived off and on in a part of East Tennessee the locals called “upper Middle East Tennessee.” Sitting squarely in the Appalachians, it was a wondrous place for a teenage boy who loved being outdoors. Appalachia has its own culture (with subcultural differences based on any number of things) with its own folklore. Sometimes, folklore and horror can overlap…

There is a podcast, now in its third season, called Old Gods of Appalachia. It is a horror anthology podcast with a significant eldritch component. Though there is certainly blood, guts and gore, at least on occasion, its eldritch or weird feel is part of what I enjoy. The other part is the respect with which it treats the culture of Appalachia (which we’ll pronounce as “Appalatcha,” out of respect for the section of Appalachia where it makes its home).

The stories are great. Anyway, if you like eldritch horror, if you have appreciate the culture in that part of America, or if you’re simply curious, you can check it out here. If you decide you like it, I recommend using a podcast player so you can set your queue preferences.

Happy Birthday

Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

The punishments will continue until compliance increases

You might think Lithuanians would know better. That’s certainly what I thought. Clearly, I was mistaken.

Click here for the entire thread.

Being positive

I have, on occasion and in different places, expressed less than favorable opinions of politicians, both individually and collectively, that were, uh, less than positive. “99% of politicians are greedy, grasping, cowardly, power-hungry, self-centered quislings whose association with anything approximating truth is casual at best,” probably qualifies as a fairly negative view of politicians and I have occasionally, both privately and publicly, been taken to task for sharing that opinion. After a fair bit of reflection and introspection I have concluded that I could express a more positive opinion. Accordingly, I wish to express my view of politicians as follows: “1% of politicians are not greedy, grasping, cowardly, power-hungry, self-centered quislings whose association with anything approximating truth is casual at best.”

I don’t know about you, but I like my new, more positive self. I feel much better, now.

It’s always about freedom

You may remember the words of our Great and Benevolent Leader when he opined that getting vaccinated, or not, “…is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.” A lot of people agreed and continue to agree. Regardless of how I may or may not feel re: the various covid vaccines and whether I have or have not received one or more of them,* Biden and those who support(ed) his statement was wrong. Of course it’s about freedom.

Let’s begin with a quote I’ve shared more than once. William Pitt the Younger once said that “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” It’s important to note that, at least in this quote, Pitt didn’t address whether the necessity was real or whether the abridgement of freedom was reasonable. It was still about freedom. Government cannot mandate/order/require something without infringing on freedom. That is simply the nature of government, of government mandates and of laws. Freedom is always a casualty. Pretending otherwise is, at best, self-deceptive folly which hides the cost of what government forces one to do or to which it forces one to submit.

As soon, then, as there was a government mandate intending to force businesses with over 100 employees to pressure their employees, under threat of loss of their livelihood, to accept the vaccine or submit to testing, it became about freedom. Most of us recognize that the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to require the bulk of the population to be vaccinated. The mandate is an attempt to do indirectly and through the private sector what it lacks the authority to do on its own. Which leads us to this: “Since we (the federal government) lacks the authority to mandate x, we are going to force the private sector to mandate x with the understanding that if you do not submit, then you will suffer consequences y, also enforced by the private sector.” To put it another way, “We’re going to force the private sector to carry water for the infringement of your freedom for which we have no authority whatsoever.”

Look. Get the vaccine…or don’t. Either way, do it because it is what is right for you in your circumstances. Don’t do it because a bunch of authoritarians, busybodies and quislings, many wearing the guise of public servants, insist you must or else, or even because they promise a benefit they simply cannot guarantee.

Remember, those who so easily, so readily and seemingly so giddily bend the knee to the cry of “necessity” (whether to obey or not) will always belittle those who decline to do likewise. And don’t buy into the lie that it’s not about freedom.

It is always about freedom.

*I’m a registered nurse and a big believer in vaccines in general. That said, I assure you I haven’t shared enough information here for you to accurately determine whether I’ve received the covid vaccine or not. I intend to keep it that way.

Our rescue

Over the last almost 60 years I have had the privilege of living and traveling across a good portion of the United States. Between both coasts, mountains, deserts and plains, the deep South and the upper Mid-West, farms, small towns and some of our biggest cities, I’ve seen quite a bit of the nation, along with a fair number of my fellow Americans who live here. During that time, or at least since I’ve been old enough to notice and remember, there is a scene I have seen play out many times over. People who are unhappy about the “way the nation is going,” or even the way it is, become convinced that if only the right Special People are elected and the right laws passed, the problems the “regular people” see will be dealt with. As a result, there will ensue the desired conditions (peace/love/happiness/respect for religion/abandonment of religion/security/low crime/equality/equity/widespread affluence — take your pick of any combination of those and a myriad of others). Regardless of what some might suggest, this belief is not peculiar to people at any particular point along the American political spectrum, or to people of a given political party, or to any other group. It’s that widespread, that pervasive.

It’s also an erroneous belief.

Regardless of where you are, politically/socially/economically (and/or any other distinction you care to make), neither the politicians you might prefer, nor the parties they represent, nor the laws they might pass, are coming to save you. They aren’t coming to save the United States, either. They pretend they are, of course, and the various pundits and media arms that support them will tell you they are, though not always in those words. But, regardless of the words or how subtly that message of salvation is suggested, they lie. They lie, fervently and incessantly, in the hope you and I will believe them enough to spread the lie, even to teach it to our children.

Let me be more clear. If you are a Democrat or lean toward the left end of the traditional American political spectrum, neither Joe Biden, nor Kamala Harris, nor the Democratic Party are going to rescue you or the nation. The same is true of their Democratic contemporaries and successors. Likewise, if you are a Republican or lean toward the left end of that same spectrum, neither Donald Trump (or some other politician(s)) nor the GOP is coming to the rescue. The same is true of his contemporaries and successors. Some other combination of party and politician? Same thing. One or more of all the above may come on the scene, but they ain’t riding to our rescue. Stop pretending they are. Stop lying to yourself. Stop spreading the lie.

On this date…

On Oct 9, 1967, good ol’ Che got his. Accordingly, I propose we celebrate Oct 9 as a holiday, an example of some real social justice.

For those still stupid enough to follow him, we could have an alternate name. I favor “Eat a Bullet for Che Day.”*

*Chile might want something like “Take a Leap for Che Day.”