Tuesday, September 29, 2020


Mispronouncing a word only means that you read it before you heard it. People who assign a lot of meaning to this are admitting they tend to be the opposite. If they only knew how foolish it makes them look to those who understand the realities of vocabulary, they would be humiliated.

During our early courtship I, a Theatre & Speech, literature, chattering classes sort of person, would sometimes correct my wife's (massive vocabulary, then a librarian) pronunciation.  After a pause of a few seconds I would ask "what's it mean?"

Sometimes it is meaningful though.  When Obama said "corpseman," it meant that he had read the word but not heard it.  That might not be a bad thing in a constitutional law professor.  It's a bad thing for a commander-in-chief, though.

Solitude and Silence

We talked about these at Men's Night.  I should get some of both, but they are elusive.

Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King)

Great North Woods

We are off to the Great North Woods for a couple of days.  We will take time out for covered bridges and historical markers we have not seen, both of which will be plentiful.  We will be staying in the Republic of Indian Stream, which may be an idea whose time has again come.

I have heard grumbling for years about larger conservative sections of states seceding from the biggest city's control of their state - which sounds more like expelling, but you take the point.  I have never taken it seriously. Unless they get to keep the name and kick the other guys out there is just to much emotional weight to tradition for conservatives.  Which is fine, and as it should be.  It should take a lot to overcome a tradition that has generally worked, and most states think their identity has worked. I can't quite say I value being a Newhampshireman over being an American, as some of my ancestors around 1800 might have said, but I think I at least have some understanding of the idea.

Now there are grumblings from liberals about states seceding from the Union, and I don't take that seriously either.  These are merely statements of "Yeah, we've got all the good and important stuff, which you rubes take for granted! You couldn't live without us." They aren't going anywhere, they are just being insulting in order to compliment themselves. They should follow the Tolkien rule of secondary creation though if they are going to fantacise about such stuff. The rules of an alternative world can't be arbitrary, they have to make internal sense.  If the blue states put together a package to leave, their own states are really purple.  They might attract some liberals from Utah or South Dakota to move and join them, but those folks aren't going to bring much in the way of territory.  If everyone is already splitting things up along state lines, a lot of those states will separate from the huge Democratic-majority cities and put the rest into the stay-American pile. The NYC metro area might greatly desire to join California, DC, and Massachusetts.  But they might not even keep much of their own states of NY, NJ, CT, and PA. They might also find that - funny thing - when push comes to shove they retain a certain affection for being American and 90% of them vote against leaving. Even the 20th C immigrants.

They'd get VT and Hawaii. They would get Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and other blue cities. Not those states, though, I don't think. They would carry a 25-mile strip from Boston to DC or even Richmond (well, maybe only Fredricksburg. Dale City, anyway), throwing all those states into disarray if secession was in the air. Well, no matter about the details.  My predictive powers are demonstrably poor, and as I said, it ain't happening anyway. I just got carried away with the game. Returning to my real point, once secession is considered a real alternative, other dominoes fall. You have to play out such scenarios a week or two down the road, don't you? Heck, let's be radical.  You have to think about what people will actually do in response if you even start down this path.  And more meaningfully, once you have even pretended that secession is possible, just putting it out there as a rhetorical device, you are fueling hatred.

It's a funny thing.  Zachriel got the idea that I was saying songs didn't have any effect on things.  Oh, they do, they do, but not always the effects intended.  The songs of the Folk Song Army contributed greatly to increasing hatred in their day, and they may have set in motion some of the violence we see now. Admittedly, things have many causes at that distance and no one gets much blame or credit 50 years later. Most of the earnest people advocating all that good peace 'n love were mostly sincere and decent folk, though rather easily swayed by fashion to follow demagogues.

Others though, knew exactly what they were doing, sneering and deceiving intentionally. Seeger had to hurry back from his tour of Russia, where he asked no questions about the GULAG even though Solzhenitsyn's work was published, in order to sing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on the Smothers Brothers show. Here's his take on being an American.

John Sebastian Has Late-Career Gig

My younger brother sent this along, as a modern nostalgia.  Mona Lisa Twins plays both covers of 60s-70s stuff and originals.

Sebastian would be 76 now. The boomer heroes were not boomers themselves, of course, as they were already adults and allowed to stay up late when they became famous. They were all wartime babies. I have wondered how that influenced the popular culture. I suppose it likely means that individual similarities are stronger than generational ones.

This looks like a better gig for him than doing Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears in the 80s.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett's Opponents

It's about Roe v Wade.  Nothing else. That in turn is not about actual women having actual abortions, but a proxy for a "one of us" tribal membership. Once you apprehend that, all their statements point back to it. I don't like the words always and never in disputes, but I have yet to see an example where this was not framed in the extremist language of overthrowing abortion rights in their entirety, as if any modification of notifying parents, restricting late-term or even partial birth abortion, imposing waiting periods, the giving of information about the procedure or notifying of alternatives, or returning some or all of the decisions to the various states, are all just the same thing as sending women to back-alley abortions forever. That is the sign that the surface issue is not the actual issue, but a proxy.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Raiders and Conquerors

Update:  I was wondering whether there was any insight into looting when I wrote this post.  Probably only minor similarities.

The Anglo-Saxons raided on the English coasts for years before they started staying over the winters and eventually conquering territory and setting up farms of their own.  They got their foot in being hired by the leftover nobility to protect those coasts against other raiders.  It is a common story, which the Romans used often enough that by the fall of the Western Empire, most of the Roman army was made up largely of those tribes which had been doing the invading, such as the Goths.  In England, Ireland, and Scotland, the pickings were pretty easy, as there was no unified response and the invaders had much greater mobility.  Over a period of two centuries, the invaders gradually became neighbors and trading partners, more in some places than others, but still consistently.

A couple of centuries later the Vikings - both Danish and Norwegian and thus not always allies of each other - did the same thing, starting off by raiding.  Easy pickings again, as they were able to smash and grab, making off with gold and silver, only later trying to permanently take territory and settle in as farmers.  Pillaging was a precursor to conquest, and the original pillagers did not tend to think of themselves as an advance guard for conquest.  They just had this job, pillaging with low risk, and set about to do that. They had somewhat less impact on settlement overall, though they established strong y-chromosome dominance in substantial areas, indicating that they displaced the original males.

Well, raiding is easier than governing, if one is willing to take risks. This was all before the long process of reducing intragroup violence that began in NW Europe and eastern England around 1100 with a) feudalism or b) avoiding cousin marriage, so enormous cruelty and violence were still the reality. The English also used the strategy of buying off the invaders with ever-increasing sums of money, with the hopes that they would go home, or at least go Somewhere Else. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.  Usually the latter.  They found they had to fight eventually, except now thy had tens of thousands of pounds less money with which to raise an army.

If you wonder how they could be so short-sighted, not seeing the danger to their country in this, it was because these were the rulers doing the paying off, and their more pressing need was usually someone else who wanted to be king, not the general welfare.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

P F Sloan

I had never heard of him, but if you know music of the 60's P F Sloan, a Jewish-Romanian kid from NYC is all over it, songwriter for Johnny Rivers, Jan & Dean, Mamas & Papas, Barry McGuire, Herman's Hermits.

He got out of music shortly after this, reemerging around 2000. Thanks to David Foster to putting me on to this not-very-usual protest song in the comments under "Blood on the Coal."

David also put us on to another one, by the Mitchell Trio, "The Sound of Protest (Has Begun to Pay.)" Anyone want to guess who that is on the left?  Granite Dad?

State Police

We have a very sick young man, who has been catatonic or near-catatonic for two months.  We lost our first attempt to get authorisation to treat him against his will, we succeeded on our second try.  He became animated (for him) speaking in complete sentences, though very slowly, tearfully pleading with the doctor not to give him medication*. When the psychiatrist explained what meds would be offered orally that evening, and which ones given by injection if he refused he collapsed to the floor.  An hour later he suddenly leaped up into a place with a dropped ceiling and hoisted himself up into it.  There is an entire second floor beyond the ceiling, but he thought he might find some way of escaping there.  It was very sudden.  The person sitting next to him on 1:1 did not lay a finger on him on his way into the ceiling.

It's dangerous up there, with plumbing, electrical wires, ductwork with sharp edges, and God-knows-what to breathe. He started rapidly crawling in the mostly dark, even running at a crouch along some ductwork.  When he came to the cement drywall he kicked it in with some effort and went into the next area, harder to reach from below (though with no possible exit from the building.) We call the fire department in a few similar situations of patients wedging themselves into an area or getting into an unusual part of the building. They in turn call the State Police who have some specific training in various building excavation.  It took hours, but they got him down with only minor injuries, to his feet where he kicked the wall, and some scrapes on his back.

I mention this because they spoke to him very calmly, were entirely patient, were concerned for his safety at all times.  They would not tase him because they felt the risk was he might fall out of the ceiling to the floor if not conscious. Once he was partly-pulled, partly persuaded to come down to the floor and immediately headed toward a locked door, roughly shoving others out of his way and butting them, they did tase him. No damage.

So what is all this training in dealing with the mentally ill that the police supposedly don't have? Their detractors speak as if they are somehow the first ones to think of the idea that maybe a social worker or two might be a good thing. (Facepalm: Mental health specialists!  Jim, why didn't we think of that?)  Frankly, the police call on social workers all the time, and social workers call on them. We have mental health courts and drug courts in NH, which are generally a very good thing.  So maybe we need more, that's fine.  Maybe other places don't have so many, and need to put them in place.  All a good thing, to my mind.

I have also seen the police acting badly and heard a good deal more secondhand, some of it credible. I'm not claiming otherwise. It's just this idea that nobody knows anything, with people arriving on the scene last Tuesday suddenly acting like experts.

Walk a mile in my shoes. Or police shoes.

*He is particularly extreme in his good response to medication.  When treated he holds down a part-time job, has hobbies, and takes art and photography courses at the local college.


Early in the worry about overreaction to covid there was a lot of talk about jobs, and I completely get that as a counterpoint negative to lockdown positives. It's still a good point, actually, even with lots of people back to work. But lately, I just see lots of people royally ticked off about masks and insulted that they were ever required anywhere and accusing government of overreach on those grounds.  I confess I don't get it.  Even if they are useless and we never should have bothered about them in the least, it's not a big deal, and I get suspicious of people who think it is.  Why? What am I missing?

Maybe I don't mind so much because I'm not that pretty to begin with and don't feel my appearance is suffering much. It might be the better-looking people who feel they are paying a higher price.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Blood On the Coal

Zachriel brought up the closing song to "A Mighty Wind" with its risque joke - exactly the sort of thing an earnest folksinger might have unintentionally missed at the time, or a smirking one done on purpose. On my only viewing of the film, I thought the dialogue and situations clever, with some holes. I was uncomfortable with the songs because I actually sort of liked them, and felt I was being made fun of myself. I mentioned this again years later. I wrote songs like this, and certainly sang many more. I like to think I had some perspective, even as a twenty-year old, and wouldn't be that far over the top, but...then I remember what I actually did sing, with my little cheat-sheet of the order of the set taped to the top of my 12-string. I didn't write any coal-mining songs, nor perform any I can recall. As a northerner playing in the south, I knew I didn't have the cred for that. OTOH, I sang lots of songs I didn't have the cred for.
Since seeing the movie I have gradually reversed field. The scenes and dialogue are a pretty good sendup, but ultimately, they are an oversell. But the songs. They got those right. I now think they got them just close enough for pain. Brilliant. Easy enough to imagine the Kingston Trio singing this.  Now imagine Pete Seeger singing a slightly different, "more authentic" version.

Who Does That?

I read an article a week or two ago about the non-silence of many Trump voters, with a bit of cultural disdain for people who write TRUMP in big letters on the hulls of their boats.  Who does that?  You never saw anyone do that with Obama, however much they admired him. Fair enough.  That does seem a bit much, though no harm done.

Who puts up lists of haranguing strawman criticisms in their yard, in rainbow colors?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cultural Liberalism and Conservatism

Glenn Greenwald's discussion with Shant Misrobian gets it right, and very much in the spirit of my many discussions of the Arts & Humanities Tribe (and Government & Unions Tribe) years ago.  I don't like Rogan much because of his liberal views, and am neutral about his emphatic regular guy shtick. A&H Liberals are very concerned with cultural feel and social acceptability, overwhelming even their actual political views, and I am not just being cute in calling them a tribe. These have largely been my people for all of my life, though I acknowledge having a foot in both worlds for much of it. They seldom see how predictable they are and how driven by popular opinion, because they choose to be dedicated nonfollowers of the most popular fashions of the masses (ugh), thereby proving they are discerning and above all that. I have provided many examples of that culture's heroes over the years, from Pete Seeger to late-night hosts, but Tom Lehrer's characterisation remains one of the best:

It's likely unfair to include Dylan so much, who displayed a fair bit of independence of thought after he stopped sleeping with Joan Baez.

It is fair to note that many strands of conservatism fall prey to the same overvaluing of the symbolic over the content-driven.  On that side there tends to be a sentimentalism rather than a social popularity that interferes with the strictly rational.

Monday, September 21, 2020

If Ye Love Me

Cousin Marriage

I recently mentioned the genetic advantages of discouraging cousin marriage, which the Roman Catholic Church tried to do everywhere but mostly only succeeded in northern Europe.  I focused then on the longer-term selection of developing traits for determining whether to trust strangers or not and developing attractiveness skills for business, mating, and safety. I had not known that James Thompson had reported in 2014 on research showing just how much impact cousin marriage has on IQ in the next generation.  He linked to it today in the West Hunter thread that just went up about inter-caste mating in India, Wedding Planners.

It's grim.

Switched Sides

I saw many quotes today from Democrats saying the exact opposite about SCOTUS nominees of what they said four years ago.  Hillary Clinton!  Nancy Pelosi! Joe Biden!  RBG herself!  I don't even need to look.  There are comments just as opposite from Republicans that are being quoted elsewhere on the web, aren't there?  I mentioned yesterday that it's all just the usual jostling.  Don't get me going on who started it, but since about 1994, it's just the same reversal every time.  Andrew McCarthy over at National Review has a nice summary of how that is.