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In which I vent and offer a mea culpa

I have come, once again, to the realization that the vast and overwhelming majority of people on social media have no real interest in a discourse in which each seeks to understand the other. They are, rather, very interested in “winning” arguments. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that I tend to ask a lot of questions that deal with other people’s motivations. It might be that those sorts of question make people pretty uncomfortable.* One of the hazards of years spent as a psych nurse, preacher and life coach, perhaps.

The point of the above observation is this: First, unless the disputants in a discussion can agree on, and commit to, some basic ground rules for that discussion, it is far too easy for it to fall apart. Second, it’s important to recognize that all of us tend to have so much of ourselves invested in our opinions that it’s very difficult to no consider an attack on our opinions as an attack on ourselves. Subconsciously, what is being called into question is not the validity of our opinions, but rather our value as people. That’s a pretty serious psychological threat. No big surprise, then, that we respond with fear-based aggression.

*Okay. There’s no “might be” to it. It’s just so difficult to approach those questions more appropriately once I smell blood in the water. I should probably work on that.

How soon we forget

The news about inflation isn’t good. The jobs report is likely to be dismal, too. Somehow, people are surprised. I’m truly curious. Does no one remember how these things were predicted at the start of the Covid/Wu Flu madness? Covid didn’t cause what we’re currently experiencing. That responsibility needs to be laid at the feet of those who implemented so many government mandated, over-the-top restrictions on activity.

Well, s***

Meat Loaf has died. He was 74. As one person said, “I don’t always listen to Meat Loaf, but when I do, so do my neighbors.” My neighbors and I will be listening, today. Requiescat in pace.


Happy Birthday, Professor


Merry Christmas

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.


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.