May 2018


While Strolling Through the Park One Day...

...from a couple thousand miles away...

There was a better view of the eruption but like an idiot I didn't capture that one before refreshing the page.

Anyway, this seems like as good an excuse as any to open comments for a month-ending open thread.

Update, June 5: Here, maybe you'll like this pic better. I do.


“What do you think?”

Caught in the spam trap, for some unfathomable reason:

Maybe, it’s the first time when a true lingerie model texts you and offers sex.
It sounds unreal but it is so.
I am not crazy and not a whore.
What do you think?

"It sounds unreal" — yes, it does so. And it is so.

The message included a link. I'd have to be crazy — whore or not — to click it.

Update, Thursday: Just got another one, almost identical, except substituting "flapper" for "whore." I'd still have to be crazy — flapper or not — to click the included link.


Don’t Jump, You’ll Make a Mess

I heard about the alleged suicide threat by Bradley Chelsea Manning, and didn't take it seriously, because I've never taken him/her seriously.

Everything Manning has done that has gotten my attention was clearly designed accomplish only that — getting attention — and nothing else. Consequences beyond that precise objective have never entered into his/her thinking. He/she is clearly insane and in need of something our society has lost the will and the means to do: commit him/her involuntarily to a mental institution for the rest of his/her life for his/her own safety and everybody else's peace of mind.

There are people from whom talk of suicide is to be taken seriously. As a rule they are substantive people whose positive contributions to the world around them would be missed if they were to follow through. I have seen no reason to count Manning among them.

Encouraging anyone to kill themselves, though, makes one an accessory to self-murder. Man's law may not prescribe a penalty, but if you're a Christian, you believe suicide itself is a sin — and you'd better believe pushing someone into it, literally or figuratively, is as well. Dante described what he believed happens to suicides in Hell; I think suicide-pushers should be at risk of the same.


Things Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Say (on the Last Monday in May)

The dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg took place on November 19, 1863. Decoration Day didn't originate until a few years later and President Lincoln was gone by then. Still, these are powerful enough words of remembrance that they seem appropriate.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


I Have a Soft Spot for Charles Starrett

Instapundit links a list of "Durango Kid" movies rated from best to worst, and I confess I have no basis to judge the rankings. I saw one Durango Kid movie on TV some years ago, only because the star was Charles Starrett. Now, you may ask why Starrett matters to me.

Back in 1934, a man named Stark Young wrote what was, at the time, widely hailed as the greatest Civil War novel of all time. Shortly afterward, a woman named Margaret Mitchell said, "Hold my mint julep." However, Mitchell didn't get her book published before Paramount made a movie out of Young's book.

The novel told the story of two Natchez, Mississippi families: the Bedfords and the McGehees, focusing on the various family members' reactions to the advent, duration, and aftermath of the Civil War. There was a side plot about young Miss Valette Bedford and her love for a young man who went away to war and was killed — as were young men from both families. Paramount chose to emphasize this romance, and wrote all but one of the McGehees out of the movie altogether: George McGehee — whose exact place in the novel I would have to read it again to get right.

George was played by Charles Starrett. To the best of my knowledge he remains the only actor ever to play a member of the McGehee clan in any significant cinematic production — in a movie released 83 years ago. There are McGehees who were born after this movie came out, who lived to ripe old ages and have now passed on.

Young based the McGehees in his novel on a portion of the clan to which he himself was closely related, descended from one of two major branches that originated in the late 1600s in Virginia; I'm descended from the other. While my branch included anti-slavery Quakers, and while I'm descended from one of the very few McGehees to have worn Union blue during the Civil War, both branches were rooted firmly in the South and included slaveholders. Some were even Quakers shunned by their fellows for defying the doctrine against slavery.

Anyway, that's why I watched that Durango Kid movie. I've never been able to find So Red the Rose for home viewing. I wonder whether I'd be able to sit through it — though it starred Randolph Scott and Margaret Sullavan. For that matter, Robert Cummings was in it, and I've tended to find him watchable when I've seen him. But the movie did poorly, and were it not for Jezebel and Gone With the Wind the whole Civil War genre might have disappeared from the silver screen afterward.


I Hope the Prospective Jurors Aren’t Seeing These

...because if they are, there's no way their verdict stands on appeal.

Then again, neither does the defendant — but they've made him look worse than a Dick Tracy vilain.


Thoughts My Brain Made

No intelligent person will deny fear, but neither will he use it as an excuse to hide from truth. Fear is merely a sign that he needs more information, and must find it in order to understand the danger and, if possible, overcome it.


New Privacy Policy

Or, if you are a citizen of a European Union member state, you have the right to be held in contempt by free peoples elsewhere in the world, until you kick your bureaucrats' asses and make them serve you instead of letting them force us — the rest of the world — to serve them.

Incidentally, the sole penalty the EU can impose on me for failure to comply, is to block your access to my site. I'm-a let 'em.


Ends and Odds

Note to Fisher Investments: When your mailout envelope carries the claim, "The favor of a reply is requested," and the reply envelope includes return postage, you might want to consider shelling out a little extra for some adhesive on the reply envelope flap. My reply, by the way, is "No."

Ah, graduation weekend! When the future leaders of Western civilization borrow the family car and go out to demonstrate they have no clue how to drive.

The official storm-naming agency of the federal government — the one that doesn't name winter storms — has dubbed the first named storm of the 2018 tropical storm season. And it's only subtropical. I've heard of grade inflation, but...


Thoughts My Brain Made

Justice, being no more than we deserve, is more to be feared than hoped for. Pray for mercy instead.


The Town Other Wyomingites Don’t Claim

Oh give me a home where plastic shopping bags don't roam, and you have to pay a dime for paper....

As daily news reports of the growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch haunt the headlines —


— a ban on plastics bags has suddenly become an easier sell. Easier than it was in Jackson in 2011.

Councilman Jim Stanford said it was a good first step and something that should be fairly easy to implement. Other municipalities have done it, California imposed a statewide ban on plastic bags and New York State is mulling the same.

Mayor Pete Muldoon called it a “no-brainer, especially for a community considering itself a leader in conservation.”

If anybody knows from "no-brainer," it's Pete Muldoon. The fact is that plastic shopping bags were designed from the start to biodegrade more quickly than most paper bags that were being used at the time.

When denizens of Wyoming are looking to California and New York as examples of what to do, it may be time for the rest of the state to invite Teton County to secede.

As for this particular notion, I think if I ever have occasion to shop in Jackson, I'll opt to bring my own bags. Plastic ones. From Walmart.


An Abundance of Runoffs

In Georgia, it is not possible to win an election without an absolute majority of the votes cast, and quite a few races in yesterday's primary ended with no candidate receiving such a majority, so there will be a runoff election on July 24.

For the Republican nomination for Governor (a very crowded field), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp will have to keep campaigning for a few more weeks; Cagle finished with only 39%, still well ahead of Kemp who took 25½%. I get one more chance to vote against Cagle, but I expect him to be on my November ballot, and my reasons for voting against Cagle now aren't big enough to make me vote against him then.

David Shafer and Geoff Duncan will be in the runoff for Lieutenant Governor, Shafer falling just 1.1% short of a majority.

With the incumbent Governor term-limited, and the two next-highest incumbents both running for Governor themselves, it should be no surprise that a lot of people want those jobs too, and Kemp's old job, Secretary of State, will have a runoff between Brad Raffensperger (35%) and David Bell Isle (28½%). The winner of this runoff will go up against a Democrat with high name recognition — John Barrow — so this could get hairy.

All the other statewide offices' Republican primaries ended with outright winners, but the Democrats will have to settle their nomination for State School Superintendent; Otha E. Thornton, Jr. came up short and will have to face Sid Chapman in a runoff.

Our state senator was literally the only candidate for his seat, so unless somebody stages a write-in campaign (and almost certainly even then) he will be re-elected in November. He had no Democrat opponents in 2016 either (Georgia state senators have two-year terms, just like their lower-house countmerparts). Our state representative, who's been in office way too long, had an opponent on the ballot, but he withdrew before voting started. I wrote in another name but she squeaked to a win anyway, and has no opponent in November.

Our congressman, who voted for that monstrosity of a budget bill that Trump threatened to veto, and should have, but didn't, made almost 75% of the vote against his primary opponent. He'll have a Democrat opponent this fall, but in the unlikely event I decide not to vote to re-elect, I'll write somebody's name in. Maybe his predecessor, Lynn Westmoreland.

Our county commissioner was, and will be, unopposed — but another commissioner was challenged by a friend of ours who, much to our disappointment, only garnered 35.6%. Not that we have anything against the incumbent...

It took almost half an hour to begin writing this post because Windows had a major update and I had to wait for it to finish installing. That by itself might not have been a problem, but these major updates always reset the desktop, start menu, and taskbar and then I have to rebuild them. Microsoft used to be better about that. My Android devices don't do this even when the number and nickname of the OS change — but this is still Windows 10.

I guess Redmond's been reading about Google's crimes against its users and decided they had more fun when they were the embodiment of tech-sector evil.


If You Have to Ask...


Awwwww, Shaddap!

I carry no portfolio for Paul Ryan, but I can kind of see why he's holding on to the gavel until after the November elections.

“Paul is here until the end of election,” McCarthy said, disputing the notion that Ryan is too weak to remain speaker. The majority leader blamed Democrats for last week’s debacle on the farm bill.

“Democrats don’t want to work with us on anything, from the farm bill to taxes to opioids or anything else, so we had to do the farm bill all by ourselves,” McCarthy said.

The whisperers are arguing it isn't "tenable" for Ryan to remain Speaker, so he should step aside. However, unless he also resigns from Congress, his handing off the gavel would leave his successor in the Speakership even weaker than Ryan is now.

But if he resigns from Congress now, it leaves his constituents in Wisconsin without representation in the House for six months. And with a full-time Congress (ugh), that's not a particularly responsible thing to do.

I wasn't real happy with his being pushed into the job to begin with; he didn't want it, but the caucus insisted. Now they're trying to whisper him out of Congress before his time.

And people in Washington wonder why nobody trusts them.


Injudicious Temperament

Dissent in a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court:

In dissent for the court’s liberals, Justice Ruth Bader called the decision “egregiously wrong” and likely to lead to “huge underenforcement of federal and state stautes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.” Ginsburg said that the individual complaints can be very small in dollar terms, “scarcely of a size warranting the expense of seeking redress alone.”

But wait. Here's what the majority opinion says:

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the contracts are valid under the arbitration law. “As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear,” Gorsuch wrote.

Why do the Court's liberals hate the law?

This is why Trump won, and why Neil Gorsuch is on the Court instead of Merrick Garland: the American people are tired of law being made by an unaccountable robed shamanry rather than by their elected representatives. If the application of law in this matter is unsatisfactory to the American people, they need only elect a Congress willing to change the law as the Constitution provides.

Unfortunately, that would also mean electing Senators who would confirm hyperactivist nominees like Ginsburg. The larger implications may sufficiently overshadow the short-term consequences to make that unpalatable to the electorate. I wonder why.


Yes, There Is a Difference

You already know the difference between "ignorant" and "stupid," right? The difference is that ignorance is curable, while stupidity is not.

Turns out there's also a difference between "stupid" and "dumb." Dumbness is also incurable, but at least it isn't virulently contagious.

Many's the day I've found the internet to be stupid. I am happy to report that, today, it is merely dumb.

Tomorrow, of course, could be a very different story.


Is That Slogan Missing a Consonant?

Casey Cagle is not my first choice for Governor, but it's not because of his campaign's lousy choice of a color scheme. Is that supposed to remind me of dried blood?

Judging from the behavior of at least one of the non-first-tier candidates for Governor in next Tuesday's Georgia primary, Cagle is the front-runner. I have to admit he sure seems likely to win outright — it takes at least 50% of the votes to win an election in Georgia; we have a lot of runoffs.

But if people vote for superficial reasons, I have to wonder if the campaign signs reproducing that color scheme (they look worse than the website) might contribute to a not-as-good-as-expected final tally?


Thoughts My Brain Made

Never brake-check a vehicle that weighs more than your house.


This Is My Shocked Face

(...to the tune of "Fight Song"...)

I did not see this coming. Nobody did. Who could? Well, now the science really is settled.

Don’t believe the latest study you read in the headlines, chances are, it could be wrong, according to a new report by the National Association of Scholars that delves into what it calls the “use and abuse of statistics in the sciences.”

The report broke down the issue of irreproducibility, or the problem that a lot of scientific research cannot be reproduced. The report took aim at unverifiable climate science, but also critiqued medical studies, behavioral research and other fields.

The 72-page report took the matter a step further in calling the issue a politicization of science.

“Not all irreproducible research is progressive advocacy; not all progressive advocacy is irreproducible; but the intersection between the two is very large. The intersection between the two is a map of much that is wrong with modern science,” the report states.

Totally settled. You wouldn't want to be a science denier, would you?

Years ago I served on a jury for a drunk driving trial. In voir dire, the defense asked whether anyone in the jury pool was a scientist. Apparently no one was, and the defense lawyer clearly wasn't a rocket scientist if he thought the only people who understood how science worked were people who get paid to... science.

So the defense was built on a study that claimed to find that absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream could result in illegal blood-alcohol content (BAC) results even though the arrestee might not actually have been impaired at the time of his arrest. Presumably police are out there just pulling people in at random and giving them breathalyzer tests at the police station, without having seen any actual, you know, evidence of impaired driving. Or maybe this particular defendant ignored my longstanding advice to my fellow drivers, "If you're sober, drive like it." Who knows?

Anyway, the defense lawyer blew his own case out of the water when he told a jury that included yours truly that a single unreplicated research study that had never been refuted was by definition scientific fact — a contention that I thought turned his voir dire question about scientists into evidence of bad faith, whereas if the study had been replicated and its results reproduced, he would certainly have told us so, and been more than happy to have scientists on the jury. We convicted his client in time to beat the afternoon rush hour.

To explain my position to my fellow jurors once we were in the deliberation room, I reminded them of a then-recent media hubbub about research purporting to show success at creating so-called "cold fusion."

Many scientists tried to replicate the experiment with the few details available. Hopes faded due to the large number of negative replications, the withdrawal of many reported positive replications, the discovery of flaws and sources of experimental error in the original experiment, and finally the discovery that Fleischmann and Pons had not actually detected nuclear reaction byproducts.

It used to be that irreproducible research was fodder for satire. These days it's a multimillion-dollar industry with a profound influence over Western politics.

I think there's reason to believe the planet has been warming for the last 11,000 years or so, though now we're in a decades-long pause. Warming is what happens during what paleoclimatologists call an "interglacial" — until said interglacial ends. Which is also something that happens.

I'm not buying that humanity is even a significant contributor to any current warming, let alone the chief contributor. That claim comes from people who were claiming to have won that argument (and accusing skeptics of being bought off by the fossil-fuel industry) before it even started — in my opinion, clear evidence of bad faith.

Lawyers shouldn't science, and scientists shouldn't politic.


They Treat “Individual” Like a Four-Letter Word

I've consistently argued in favor of free will, as opposed to determinism or predestination, and thanks to this post by Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, I have occasion for another argument. Driscoll quotes:

Instead of acknowledging that identity politics is not a mere synonym for justice — and it certainly isn’t, given that identity politics insists that people be identified by their racial, ethnic, or sexual group rather than as free-thinking individuals...

That's where denying free will inevitably leads: to the complete lack of human agency. The past is not merely prologue, it is the whole show; you and I are the product of our genes and we cannot break any cycle into which we were born — and even if we do, we didn't really, because we only did it to try to fool other people.

The more that the self-proclaimed moral elite disavow religion, the more they preach fire and brimstone on those of us who don't share their certainty on political issues.

The exercise of free will may be why Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden, but it's the denial of free will that's turning the Earth to desolation.


An Experiment

You may recall this from two months ago:

A friend and fellow blogger has offered a small but generous encouragement to find a way to open comments here.

Well, it's occurred to me that the WordPress site which formerly hosted my archives, is still there, hosting my contact form. Maybe — on particular occasions when feedback seems warranted — I could use it to host comments?

So here's what I'm going to try: in the copyright line below, after my name, is a link to a post at the WordPress site. There won't be any content there, just a comment form. To post a comment, or to read what, if any, have been posted, just click.

I may end up only using this at the end of each month to solicit comments about that month's posts; it's certain I won't do it on every post. A lot depends on how much extra work it makes for me. And you know as well as I do, that's what really matters around here.

But for now, I'm going to say something that will shock and amaze you: OPEN THREAD!

Update, Saturday: I didn't plan on appending a comment link to every post since this one, it just worked out that way. It has given me a chance to try out some different workflows, but none I've tried so far are really satisfactory. Meanwhile, I'll try to do more pointless pap for a while, lest anyone think this site is trying to be intellectually challenging...

Update, May 22: The comment period having expired on those posts on which I had open comments, with no comment traffic on any but this one, I'm declaring the experiment ended. I may still go ahead and open comments on an end-of-month post as mentioned above, but if nothing comes of it, well...

Update, July 13: Nothing has come of it.


When You Call Me That, Smile – You Betcha

The first time Mrs. McG and I visited Riverton, Wyoming, she observed to me that the way people talk there reminded her of how my late mother — born and raised in western Montana — spoke.

Mom's accent wasn't "cowboy" like you hear when watching rodeo on TV. In fact, I think she had less of a drawl than I, who grew up in Sacramento, already had before Mrs. McG and I moved to Georgia (I blame it on growing up around descendants of California Okies, but who knows?).

Anyway, rummaging randomly on the internet, I happened on this blog post about the 2017 movie Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. The author, who lives in Wyoming and is closely familiar with the Wind River Indian Reservation, compliments the movie on getting a great many details right when so many previous Wyoming-set movies get almost everything wrong. In particular, he approves the hero's accent:

Very unusually, the regional accent is correctly delivered, which it almost never is.

The main protagonist speaks with the correct Rocky Mountain region accent, the first time I've ever seen this portrayed in film. A subtle accent which is somewhat like the flat Midwestern accent, it is different and tends to have a muttering quality to it. For some really odd reason, most films set in modern Wyoming tend to use a weird exaggerated drawling accent that doesn't exist here at all, and which sound amazingly bizarre to our local ears. Speech as portrayed in accent form by something like The Laramie Project just don't occur here at all, but the speech delivered by Cory Lambert in the film is spot on.

I've previously noted that — as I hear it — the rodeo cowboy accent, spoken by those from places ranging from Washington state to Oklahoma, has hints of a Midwestern accent along with a bit of drawl, but admittedly the kids riding broncs and bulls these days, as well as the announcers describing the action, may be getting some Hollywood influence. I hope and pray it's only the accent.

Anyway, if you're curious about the authentic Rocky Mountain accent and haven't seen Wind River, rent it.

Update: The movie's streaming on Netflix, so I played back some of Renner's dialog for another listen, and what it reminded me of, more than anything, was Mal Reynolds on "Firefly." Now, Nathan Fillion grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, which isn't particularly close to the Rocky Mountains. Renner, on the other hand, is from Modesto, California, about an hour, hour-and-a-half's drive from where I grew up, and thus even further from the Rockies.


This Is My Shocked Face

That one you see over there in the sidebar. Yup, that's the one — at least, it served the purpose as I read this (h/t Watts Up With That?, via Gail Heriot at Instapundit):

Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue "opposed policy solutions," but at the same time, they "were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors," writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.

Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment "were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions."

Anyone who's seen photos of the aftermath of an Earth Day rally — as compared to anything staged by conservatives, from a Tea Party event to "Dan's Bake Sale", in which venues are routinely left cleaner than the participants found them — already knew this.


Who Appropriated the Chopsticks?

The other day, Mrs. McG and I dined at Panda Express. She sometimes prefers to use chopsticks (and is pretty good at it), but there were none available. Only forks.

At the time I thought nothing of it, but the small matter of a prom dress came up since then, and it all became clear. Non-Asians ably using chopsticks to eat pseudo-Chinese food (all food referred to as "Chinese" in American cuisine is pseudo, and has been from the beginning — just like Mexican and Italian) is clearly an impermissible cultural appropriation, so the opportunity must be eliminated.

You may think I'm reaching to make this point, but consider also that when Mrs. McG went back for a knife to cut an unusually large piece of broccoli, there were none of those, either.

Sure, you'll just say that some store employee was negligent in putting out implements, but that never happens. Everything these craven corporate cowards do is deliberate and malicious — and ordered personally by the evil fat-cat CEO. Just ask any college socialist.




May 2018


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