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  • Types of Liberty

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on June 5th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I just published a flock of posts at my own site and have sought advice what to publish here. Interestingly, one of my earliest posts was suggested. I had reviewed it in December 2019, doing the countdown of my posts at Assistant Village Idiot that had received the most traffic. This was #6 all-time, but had little commentary. I think some of the themes are a propos.

    We are now into territory of posts that have 5,000 hits or more, which is darn good for me.  This is from February 2006, one of my first two hundred posts.  I think a few of you will like the topic. I don’t know who has been reading it over the years, as there haven’t been commenters.

    ************

    A post from last week over at the excellent Albion’s Seedlings reminded me of a topic I had intended to post on weeks ago: the varieties of meaning of the word “liberty” in the American Colonies from the time of founding to independence.

    We think we mean the same thing when we use a word, but this is not often so, especially with large abstracts like kindness, or community. While the concepts of liberty converged somewhat leading up to the Revolution, they sprang from at least four different concepts, associated with the four distinct areas of settlement.

    These founding folkways, and much else besides, led to quite distinct, and often diametrically opposed, ideas about liberty. David Hackett Fischer calls the New England idea “ordered liberty” (freedom to determine the course of one’s own society), at worst exemplified in the stifling, moralistic conformism that we still associate with the word “Puritan”, at best in the strong town-based democracies (and suspicion of anything but local power) still evident in parts of northern New England.

    The Virginia idea was that of “hegemonic liberty” (freedom to rule and not be ruled), at worst exemplified in the hierarchical “Slaveocracy” that valued freedom for those at the top but not for poor white trash or black slaves, at best in the aristocratic excellence of men such as George Washington.

    The Quaker idea was that of “reciprocal liberty” (freedom for me and for thou), at worst exemplified in the pacifistic pursuit of commerce without regard for nation or principle, at best in a quite modern-sounding respect for all human beings to pursue their own fulfillment.

    The frontier idea was that of “natural liberty” (a freedom without restraints of law or custom), at worst exemplified in the violent and often-emotionalistic chaos of life beyond the reach of civilized norms, at best in eternal vigilance with regard to the sovereignty of the individual.

    Frontier in the above means the Appalachian areas settled by the Scots-Irish and English Borderers throughout the middle of the 18th C. Quaker refers not only to the settling of Pennsylvania in the late 17th C, but the other mid-Atlantic states as well. The overall concept is taken from Fischer’s marvellous Albion’s Seed, which traces the founding of the American regions back to distinctive regions of Great Britain.

    New England — ordered liberty — freedom to determine the course of one’s own society. I touched on this two weeks ago. It is close to the idea of Christian Community and consensus living. A modern equivalent would be an environmentalist community which would agree to bind itself to certain principles of organic farming. The individual would not have liberty to do as he pleases in pesticides and fertilizer, but would adhere to group norms, so that all other members could have food free of taint. The European aspirations come closest to this model.

    Virginia — hegemonic liberty — freedom to rule and not be ruled. The right of the few to achieve enormous freedom — by birth, merit, or assignment — is preserved, even at the expense of the many. Americans rebel against such an equality being granted by birth into nobility — but many conservatives are fine with it occurring by merit. Whether justified or no, this is the stereotype of conservatives that liberals rail against.

    Mid-Atlantic — reciprocal liberty — freedom for me and for thee. This is some midpoint between the two above. “I will consent to give up some freedoms, but no one shall force me to give up others.”

    Appalachia — natural liberty — freedom without restraints of law or custom. This would be closer to a libertarian (or hyper-libertarian) framing. The freedom of the individual trumps even local control. Think Alaska.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    Rhinoceros

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on June 3rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    One difficulty is that everyone thinks that it is everyone else who are the rhinoceroses. I might think it’s you.

    And of course, you might think it’s me.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Video | 15 Comments »

    Deja- Poo

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on June 1st, 2020 (All posts by )

    Why, yes, as a matter of fact – I have seen this sh*t before; several times, as a matter of fact. The first go round of racial/political rioting, looting, arson and general mayhem that I took notice of was that long hot summer of ’68, interspersed with political assassinations and anti-Vietnam War protests, although the Watts riot had taken place three years before. I was fourteen in the year of ’68 mayhem, and already well-aware of current events, through reading the Los Angeles Times when it was still a great and meaningful newspaper. Mom also had subscriptions to Harpers’ and Atlantic Monthly, when they also were still solid and more or less centrist publications, and although Mom and Dad didn’t watch TV news regularly, Granny Jessie did. I believe that it was sometime during that late summer, watching coverage of the riot attendant on the Democrat Party national convention, that I remarked to Granny Jessie that it seemed as if the world were all seriously going to Hell. Recall that I was only fourteen, and had led a comfortable, fairly sheltered middle-class life. Violence was something only seen t a distant remove as part of the plot in movies and TV adventure shows (and pretty anodyne, considering what I would have seen in them back then) and the real-life violence played out on the TV news was shocking. Granny Jessie replied, “It always seems that way, I guess.” Her tone was so jaded, and world-weary, I found it actually rather comforting.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Capitalism, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Society, The Press, USA | 22 Comments »

    President Obama’s poor security advice

    Posted by TM Lutas on June 1st, 2020 (All posts by )

    President Obama just published an essay regarding George Floyd and policing. It’s a fundamentally flawed recommendation that funnels energy down the same old pathways that have been failing for decades. I responded:

    This essay is disappointing and shows a lack of vision. When improperly policed neighborhoods have a security alternative that they can choose, the police will have to compete or face the humiliation of being displaced by something better.
    That threat to their jobs, their position in society is already in the law, has been since 1789 when the Constitution was passed, but has been left to molder since the 1913 passage of the Dick Act. A President who understands politics, cares, and actually spent some time thinking about this would have picked up on the opportunity.

    President Obama, you blew that 8 year chance. This essay blows it again.

    Police were invented because professional police of any serious quality are better than the unorganized militia. But the unorganized militia is better than what happened to George Floyd. Revitalizing the unorganized militia, making training available, updating how to communicate with it, making it a real security alternative would place an institutional floor below which any corrupt or incompetent police force would be replaced because there would be an alternative available and it would be an improvement.

    There is a baseline civil rights problem that the minority community faces. Law abiding people who are white have a higher chance of being legally armed than those who are black or latino. The criminals of any color don’t care about the law. That puts minorities in an inferior security position because whites have a higher level of DIY security capability.

    Blacks can and should have the same level of DIY security capability. Latinos should have the same level of DIY security capability.
    The most dangerous people in your neighborhood should be law abiding members who spend time at the range and can hit what’s aimed at. In white neighborhoods, that’s more often the case than in black or latino neighborhoods. That’s something within your power to change.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 17 Comments »

    There is a plan here.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 31st, 2020 (All posts by )

    Patriot_Prayer_vs_Antifa_protests._Photo_11_of_14_(25095096398)

    The present rioting, which is occurring in cities that have leftist Mayors and administrations, is part of a plan. We have seen this slowly coming together. The “Black Lives Matter” theme goes back for years. It is increasingly radicalized. The election of Donald Trump made everything about politics.

    An article in Bazaar from a few days ago: If you are married to a Trump Supporter, Divorce Them:

    Supporting Trump at this point does not indicate a difference of opinions. It indicates a difference of values…You do not need to try to make it work with someone who thinks of people as “illegals.” Just divorce them

    This would be amusing if it were not behind the latest attack on civilization. Are we becoming the Weimar Republic ?

    In 2002, a pro-Israel event at San Francisco State University was interrupted by ‘protestors’, screaming things like “go back to Russia!” and “get out or we will kill you!’ and shoving Hillel students against a wall. Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewis leader “turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, ‘it would start a riot.’ I told them that it already was a riot.”

    That, of course, was San Francisco, ground zero in the war on civilization, which is being directed from walled compounds in rich areas.

    The insurrection, which is going on now, is an attempt to create another Kent State event, which would radicalize more young people as that event did. The Governor of Minnesota, who daughter seems to be a participant in the riot direction is desperate to find a “white supremacist” to blame.

    So far, he has been blaming “outsiders,” a claim that has been proven false. Few of those arrested gave other than Minnesota addresses.

    KARE11 reviewed 36 arrests on the Hennepin County Jail roster and found that 86% of the arrests they reviewed had a Minnesota address.

    Following the revelation, Mayor Carter and Mayor Frey said that the information about rioters being from out of the area was inaccurate, according to KARE11.

    Mayor Carter blamed the police for providing bad information.

    Minneapolis Police spokesman John Elder said that he believes many of those arrested gave false addresses.

    Oh, OK.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement, Society | 23 Comments »

    The Disappearance Of Iwntge Henken

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on May 29th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Iwntge* Henken was a three-and-a-half year old boy who crossed the Atlantic in 1920. He departed Antwerp on the Northern Pacific on October 18, landing in Hoboken on October 28. He was never heard from again.

    He had been scheduled to board the Pocahontas a few weeks before, along with his mother Adrianna, but this was cancelled for unknown reasons. They were traveling as the dependents of John Henken, an American soldier who had been born in Holland but moved to New York as a child. It is likely he served in the Netherlands during and after WWI because of his fluency in Dutch. He was fluent enough to have courted Adrianna successfully, it seems, and he brought her back to the states a year after the war was over. Adrianna was pregnant with a child who would be born in America and come to be named Johanna. One might take a moment to reflect on how miserable it must be to be pregnant on a troop ship crossing the North Atlantic in autumn. Adrianna was remarkably determined to come to America, however, come hell or high water. This is where the complications set in.

    Adrianna Anthonisse may have had some sort of ceremony performed, but she could not have actually been married to John Henken, because she was still married to Willem Heijboer in Holland, who would have been the father of the three-and-a-half year old child. It is not known how long John Henken cared for the two, soon three dependents, but it can’t have been long, as the children show up on an orphanage roll soon after with the notation that their father had abandoned them. It may be that he abandoned them the moment his feet touched American soil again, for all we can tell, and it may even be that Adrianna knew this and agreed to it beforehand, so determined was she to come to America. It may be more accurate to say it is John Henken who was never heard from again, as all our attempts to trace him after come up empty.** Johanna was my wife’s mother. She had been told as a child that her father had died, but suspected as an adult that he had in fact abandoned the family instead. There was no longer anyone to tell her, as Adrianna died in 1929.

    Iwntge was never “heard from” again in the sense that he vanished from all records after embarking from Holland/Belgium.We do know what happened to him, however. He went back to being a girl named Helena, who after a very difficult childhood married a man who loved her dearly and she him all their days, in Florida. She would stay in touch with her half-sister Johanna in Massachusetts throughout and see her every few years. “Iwntge Henken” was a disguise to throw anyone off who was looking for Helena Anthonisse, or Helena Heijboer. Willem Heijboer was indeed looking for her and eventually located her and established contact by correspondence when she was an adult. Very sad for him, really, to have his wife leave with his daughter with no word or explanation. He may not have even known Henken’s name, complicating his search for Helena.

    * The name is likely a mis-writing by the American military official of some other Dutch name, done by sound rather than from been seen written. The last two letters are much more likely to be -je than -ge, for example. I am only guessing after that, but Antje is a girl’s name, and “Wintje” is a Dutch surname, so perhaps one of those is it.

    **We now know from the DNA tracing that he was the brother of Jacob Henken, and one of Jacob’s descendants does remember there was a brother that was occasionally referred to, but never met.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

    Hitting a Limit

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 29th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly tolerant person; my name isn’t Karen and I don’t feel any particular need to speak to the manager. In this I take after the maternal grandmother; the one who never made scenes upon receiving bad or abusive customer service. The paternal grandmother would and did, although in Granny Dodie’s defense, she didn’t take umbrage over small and inadvertent offenses and usually got some kind of satisfaction or apology from indulging in recreational Karenism. Granny Jessie would gather up her dignity, depart the scene of the offense quietly … and then never, ever return. No threats, no other complaint, no talk with the manager. Granny Jessie was just gone and relentless in determination to never darken that door again. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Media, Personal Narrative, Politics, USA | 26 Comments »

    Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?

    Posted by David Foster on May 28th, 2020 (All posts by )

    YouTube is run by a woman named Susan Wojcicki.  She has indicated that videos peddling fake or unproven coronavirus remedies will be banned, and also suggested that video that “goes against” WHO guidance on the pandemic will be blocked.

    So Ms Wojcicki has established WHO as the ultimate worldwide authority on Covid-19, the  imprimatur of said authority being required for dissemination of any relevant information or opinions within Wojcicki’s domains.  One might remind her that on January 23 of this year, WHO decided not to declare that Covid-19 was a global health emergency…hence, had Wojcicki’s present rule been in effect then, any videos asserting that C-19 was, in fact, such an emergency would have been taken down!

    What is the thinking behind this sort of effort to clamp down on information flow?  One can certainly understand and sympathize with a desire to avoid the dissemination of quack cures.  But how does this morph into a justification for shutting down discussion of causes, risk levels, and public-policy responses to the epidemic?

    If I try to take as sympathetic a view as possible to Ms Wojcicki and those like her, I might view their actions as being motivated by a feeling of responsibility for consumer protection.  But Americans are more that just consumers: we are also (and much more importantly) citizens, participants in the public dialog and political process.  (And an interesting argument has been made that in the American system, citizens are officers of the state.)  And citizens, in order to fulfill their public responsibilities, need unfettered access to information and discussion.

    In the case of Twitter’s ‘fact checking’ of President Trump’s tweet about vote-by-mail, I’d say that the raw political bias is pretty evident.  Is vote-by-mail more susceptible to fraud than is conventional voting?  Considerable evidence can be amassed to suggest that it is indeed so susceptible, counter-evidence and arguments can also be presented. It is a legitimate topic for public discussion, yet Twitter chooses to treat is as if it is a matter of absolute black-and-white truth-versus-falsity on which they have to weigh in, as if it were a question of the spherical vs flat shape of the earth or the value of the acceleration of gravity.  (Although I see there are some flat-earth tweets up on Twitter right now.)  And I haven’t seen any Twitter fact-checking of the feed from the People’s Daily of China, or the official Twitter account of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran…or, for that matter, of the statements of Joe Biden.

    We are reaching a state at which the ability to publish information and have it reach certain very large audiences is dependent on the approval of certain individuals at Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook…somewhat similar to the way in which publication of a book in England, prior to 1692, required the imprimatur of the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or one of certain other specified officials.  The analogy is not perfect, of course, and it will be argued that it isn’t very relevant at all, because today, if Twitter won’t distribute your content, you can always try Facebook, and if that doesn’t work either, there’s always Gab or other relatively-minor platforms, or you can just put up your own website or blog…or start your own social media platform.  But, still, a very small number of entities and their officials are exercising a very high degree of control over information flow in America today.

    What, if anything, can/should be done about this situation?  One argument is that nothing can be or needs to be done that Twitter etc are private property, and if they discriminate excessively, other platforms will supplant them.  Another argument is that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be modified/limited…this is the provision which insulates on-line service providers such as social media companies—not only pure internet service providers or hosting companies—from certain forms of liability which are applicable to traditional publishers.  This is the direction in which President Trump’s thinking seems to be going.

    There is also an interesting ‘public square’ argument which has been made, specifically by Prager University in connection with the ‘restricted’ status assigned to its videos by YouTube.  This is based on a 1945 Supreme Court decision in the case of Marsh v Alabama, in which the court ruled that Gulf Shipbuilding Company could not prohibit a Jehovah’s Witness from distributing literature in the the town of Chickasaw, Alabama, even though that town was Gulf Shipbuilding’s private property.  The argument is that the precedent also applies to on-line communities, even though these do not involve physical presence…this argument  was rejected, though, by both the district court and the Ninth Circuit…not sure whether there will be an appeal to the Supremes. (The Federalist has proposed that social media companies could be required to provide specific ‘due process’ protections for content creators, in exchange for retaining their Section 230 immunities.)

    So what are your thoughts on this topic?

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, COVID-19, Current Events, Internet, Tech | 37 Comments »

    To the True Meaning of This Day

    Posted by Grurray on May 25th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Memorial Day address May 30, 1884, at Keene, New Hampshire.

    But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes beyond and above the gold fields the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.

    Thanks to the always excellent Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an organization that all principled young men and women should seriously consider joining, especially now with higher education imploding. And thanks be to God for all Americans who sacrificed their lives so that we may live free on this day, or at least continue to fight to reach the free ideals America was founded on.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

    Retro-Reading, Mechanical Engineering, Part 2

    Posted by David Foster on May 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    (This is a continuation of my Retro-Reading post, based on the April 1930 issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine.  Part One is here)

    A View from the Left.  One of the most interesting things in the magazine is an excerpt from the writing of Sidney Webb, the well-known Fabian socialist.  (The magazine refers to him as a “publicist,” maybe that was 1930-speak for an activist.)

    The manual-working population of the cities was, in fact, mainly composed of laborers who were lifelong hewers of wood and drawers of water whilst that of the vast stretches of farmland and forest outside the cities was as devoid of art as of letters. And the proportion of merely mechanical work in the world s production has, taken as a whole, lessened, not increased. What a multitude of laborers quarried the stones, dragged and carried the stones and lifted the stones of the cathedral walls on which half a dozen skilled and artistic masons carved gargoyles? From the building of the Pyramids down to the present day, the proportion of the world’s work of the nature of mere physical digging, pushing, carrying, lifting and hammering, by the exertion of muscular force, has almost continuously diminished….

    And it must not be forgotten that, in Western civilization to-day, the actual numbers of men and women engaged in daily work of distinctly intellectual character, which is thus not necessarily devoid of art, are positively greater than at any previous time. There are, of course, many more such workers of superior education, artistic capacity, and interesting daily tasks in Henry Ford’s factories at Detroit than there were in the whole city of Detroit fifty years ago! Along side of these successors of the equally exceptional skilled handicraftsmen of the Middle Ages there has come to be a vast multitude of other workers with less interesting tasks, who could not other wise have come into existence, and who represent the laborers of the cities and the semi-servile rural population of past times, and who certainly would not themselves dream of wishing to revert to the conditions of those times. It may be granted, that, in much of their daily tasks (as has always been the case) the workers of to-day can find no joy, and take the very minimum of interest. But there is one all important difference in their lot. Unlike their predecessors, these men spend only half their waking hours at the task by which they gain their bread. In the other half of their day they are, for the first time in history, free (and, in great measure, able) to give themselves to other interests, which in an ever- increasing proportion of cases lead to an intellectual development heretofore unknown among the typical manual workers. It is, in fact, arguable that it is among the lower half of the manual workers of Western civilization rather than among the upper half, that there has been the greatest relative advance during the past couple of centuries. It is, indeed, to the so-called unskilled workers of London and Berlin and Paris, badly off in many respects as they still are and notably to their wives and children that the Machine Age has incidentally brought the greatest advance in freedom and in civilization.

    Rather different from the view of our present-day leftists, wouldn’t you say?  Indeed, both the American New Deal and the Soviet Communist Party were huge supporters of hydroelectric dams… today, many of the Progs want to tear them down.

    I’ll continue in a future post with some other highlights from the magazine, including the articles on transportation and metalworking.

     

    Posted in History, Leftism, Miscellaneous, Tech, USA | 42 Comments »

    If you think Congress does not work, thank John McCain

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 23rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    John McCain was elected to the Senate in 1986, taking Barry Goldwater’s seat after two terms in the House. In 1987, as a rather naive =freshman Senator, he was involved in the “Keating Five” affair This involved assistance to a constituent of McCain’s but was, in fact, a Democrat influence peddling matter. McCain was included chiefly to make it “bipartisan.”

    The five senators—Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), John McCain (Republican of Arizona), and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democrat of Michigan)—were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed in 1989, at a cost of $3.4 billion to the federal government (and thus taxpayers).

    This experience affected McCain severely, making him obsessed with his reputation and leaving him open to more manipulation by Democrats. What followed was The McCain Feingold Act also known as the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.” It made a huge change in the way Congress conducted business.

    McCain-Feingold tilted influence in our political system toward the ideological extremes. For centuries, political parties played a moderating role: Because they comprise a broad coalition of interests, parties had to mediate among competing constituencies, looking for ­middle-ground positions that would draw maximum support. Traditionally, they used their preponderance of resources to impose discipline on extremists who threatened party comity.

    That description is pretty much nonsense. What it really did was to place legislation in the hands of Congressional staffs and lobbyists. Congress members spend their days and months raising money while staffs and lobbyists write the laws. That is why Nancy Pelosi told us that “we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.” She was referring to Obamacare but it applies to all legislation the past 18 years since McCain Feingold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Elections | 11 Comments »

    Consent of the Governed

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 21st, 2020 (All posts by )

    “…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
    “The consent of the governed” – and what a concept, hey? And outlined in our very own Declaration of Independence. That the government has authority only as far as those it governs permits, allows or tolerates; a notion which seems to have escaped the more stubbornly authoritarian among us, such as the governors of certain states: among them Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom, of California, the Unspeakable Kate Brown of Oregon, Gretchen Witmer, the Grand Karenator of Michigan, J.B. “Jabba the Hutt” Pritzker of Illinois, Ralph Northam, the Baby-Killer of Virginia and the weaselly and nipple-pierced autocrat of New York, Andrew “Missed It By That Much!” Cuomo. All the above-listed, and a good few others of lesser notoriety and office went on an authoritarian kick: “Close all the things!” seemed to be their rallying cry, after first ignoring the first warning signs of the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka the Chinese Commie Crud, and then losing their damned minds when the National Establishment Media lost theirs. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior | 13 Comments »

    Video Review: The Dawns Here Are Quiet

    Posted by David Foster on May 17th, 2020 (All posts by )

    This is both a 2015 Russian WWII TV series and a 1972 Russian movie, both based on the same novel.  The original movie is apparently considered a classic in Russia; so much so that making a new version was viewed as almost blasphemous by some.

    Sergeant Vaskov is in charge of an antiaircraft battery in a (so far) quiet area.  His troops have been a drunken and quarrelsome lot, and when they are swapped out and sent to the front, he asks for replacements who will not drink and carouse with the local women so excessively.  He is surprised and initially dismayed when the replacements show up and they are all women…girls, really, just out of AA gunner’s training.

    The movie starts out with a rather light tone, but quickly darkens.  Two German paratroopers—apparently saboteurs targeting a vital transportation junction—are spotted in the woods, and Vaskov takes five of his women and goes out after them.  It turns out that there are actually a lot more of the enemy than two…sixteen, in fact…and stopping them will be practically a mission impossible for Vaskov and his five newly-minted AA gunners.

    I first watched the recent TV series, which has excellent cinematography and some really striking scenery. The backstories of the women and of their male commander are shown via a series of flashbacks. Lisa Britschkina, a shy girl, was sent to Siberia with her family on grounds of being Kulaks, yet she seemingly feels no conflicts about fighting for the Soviet state.  Another of the five ‘volunteers’, Sonia Gurvich, was an excellent student and loves to read poetry aloud. Her husband was killed on the first day of the war–she has a son, who is living with Sonia’s mother. Vaskov when we meet him is a rather troubled person:  his wife has left him for another man, he was wounded on his first day of battle and has guilt feelings about now being assigned to this relatively-safe backwater in the midst of a war for national survival.

    I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review: suffice it to say that this isn’t a strong-and-independent-female-superhero movie. The women accomplish remarkable things, but they and Vaskov are a true team.  Some of the scenes and events seem improbable, but the story draws you in and the characters will not be easily forgotten.

    I was curious as to how the 1972 movie would compare with the more recent series…watched it, and was pleasantly surprised–I was expecting a lot more heavy-handed Soviet propaganda than was in it.  The use of color in this film is interesting: most of it is in black & white, but the flashbacks…most of which refer to the time before the war..are in color. The story is pretty close to that in the 2015 series; the portrayal of the characters, particularly the women, is pretty different–for one thing, those in the 1972 movie seem even younger, and act (at least initially) rather girlier.  One backstory is notably different in this version–that of Lisa Britschkina–the part about her family having been sent to Siberia isn’t there.  (I’m not sure if it was in the original novel, but based on when it was published (1969) I’m guessing not.)  In both versions, some of the women smart off toward Vaskov in a way which they seem unlikely to have been gotten away with in the 1940s or for that matter today, even with a leader as fundamentally kindly as he is portrayed as being.

    One objection some Russians have to the recent video is that it is “too Hollywood-ized”…this is a fair criticism of the action scenes near the end, but not, I think, of the whole thing.  Both versions are worth seeing.

    I’m preaching largely to the converted here, but–we should always keep in mind, when watching Russian WWII films or reading books on the same subject, that the great heroism demonstrated by so many Russians, and the fact that they were allied with America, do not negate the extreme evil of the Soviet regime.

     

     

     

    Posted in Film, History, Leftism, Russia, War and Peace | 25 Comments »

    God Knows Where I Am

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on May 15th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I have been asleep at the switch on the story of Linda Bishop, who was a patient at my hospital in the 2000’s, refusing treatment and eventually being discharged, after which she moved into an abandoned farmhouse and eventually starved to death. It was written up well in the New Yorker in 2011 and I recalled reading that. Since that time it was made into an award-winning documentary in 2016, “God Knows Where I Am,” which I had not known about. I’m not sure how I missed that. Asleep at the switch, apparently. I knew nothing about the case at the time, but her entire treatment team were all people known to me. I worked that unit at other times. I think they are all gone from the hospital by now. The discussions they had are ones I have had repeatedly through the years as well. A person is psychotic, but displays no measurable dangerousness. In the protected environment of the hospital they are able to eat, stay clean, and clothe themselves. They go to a cooking group, make food, and answer a nutritionist’s questions intelligently. Whatever we suspect, we are hard pressed to offer much evidence they won’t be able to care for themselves. We might apply for a guardianship, but the standard for proving that a person is unable to make decisions on their own behalf is high. It is not enough to demonstrate they make bad decisions. Half the state of NH makes bad decisions but we don’t lock them up and get them a guardian. The bar is high because we want it to be high.

    Her story is poignant, and provoking, but all the commentary in all such stories seems to say the same ridiculous things over and over. She fell through the cracks of the mental health system. No she didn’t. The story/film calls into question a system where a person who doesn’t believe they are sick can make decisions for themselves. No it doesn’t, not really, neither the legal nor the mental health system. The hospital refused to notify the family because of HIPAA laws. What’s this word “refused” in there? Do we say that the sheriff “refused” to tear down a building because of zoning laws? As in my post three years ago about the word “systemic,” we use that word system as an evasion. Systemic racism means we can’t actually define what we’re talking about, but we want bad things to stop happening so we start kicking the machine in random places. Someone will pay, dammit! Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 30 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Questions Looking for Answers: Judge Sullivan and General Flynn

    Posted by Jonathan on May 14th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Motion practice query. Where a judge appoints an amicus to represent a party or continue a litigation or prosecution because of an absence of adversity, then do not the parties first get notice and an opportunity to be heard to contest the appointment? Or does the court act on its own, make the appointment, and then allow the parties to make objections after-the-fact?
     
    If the court had prior contacts with the amicus—eg, a beauty contest or competition for the starring amicus role—do the parties get to see the records of those contacts between the court and the amicus?
     
    Who, if anyone, has oversight over Amicus (Inquisitor) Gleeson? Is it DOJ? Can DOJ assert authority over Gleeson or “his” case, like in a qui tam matter? Does Gleeson take an oath of office to support the Constitution? Is Gleeson subject to the ethical guidance which applies to federal prosecutors or the other policies of the DOJ?
     
    [. . .]

    Read the whole thing.

    From the comments:

    The jurisdiction of federal courts is of course limited to “cases and controversies.” If the US wants to dismiss, and the defendant wants to dismiss, where is the case or controversy? If the court has no subject matter jurisdiction, the case ends right there.

     

    Posted in Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Trump | 20 Comments »

    Poetry

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on May 12th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Y’all need a break from C19 and Flynn at the moment. I know I do. Cross-posted at Assistant Village Idiot, as usual.

    We think of poetry as a decorative art, important for beauty and the expression of elusive ideas in a strong or vivid manner. This is true of some early poetry, but many cultures used poetry more functionally. The point was to tell a story, an important story to preserve history. What strike us as decorative items now, such as rhyme or meter, were put there as aids to memory. The poet could not write things down, and did not want to falter or get lost over many passages. Structure locks these in. We still see this even in our literate culture. Children learn the states of the union as a song “There’s AL-abama, AL-aska…Rhode Island, Tennessee!” I have heard at least three songs teaching the books of the Bible: “I’ll tell you the truth about the book of Ruth…There’s Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Job – I want to go to heaven in a righteous robe…” (and that was just from overhearing my sons). It is not unusual for adults in Bible study to laughingly mention that much of their memorized Scripture is from music. (Note: Handel’s Messiah is excellent for this.)

    Telling a story in poetry happens less often these last two centuries. Rudyard Kipling would do it, Tennyson. When story is attempted now, however, the intent is often comic. We don’t allow songs to go on at story length very much these days. But we do see the memory advantage of this, don’t we? “Bumpty, bumpty, bumpty bright, BUMPity, bumpty, bump tonight!” And if you get lost, having to slur a few syllables, you can get right back on the horse next line. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    What is going on with China right now ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 12th, 2020 (All posts by )

    China was admitted into the World Trade Organization in 2001 with the understanding that they would participate in free trade and to international norms.

    Until the 1970s, China’s economy was managed by the communist government and was kept closed from other economies. Together with political reforms, China in the early 1980s began to open its economy and signed a number of regional trade agreements. China gained observer status with GATT and from 1986, began working towards joining that organization. China aimed to be included as a WTO founding member (which would validate it as a world economic power) but this attempt was thwarted because the United States, European countries, and Japan requested that China first reform various tariff policies, including tariff reductions, open markets and industrial policies.

    That has not happened. China has followed a mercantilist trade policy, stealing intellectual property, requiring companies selling to the Chinese to share ownership with often corrupt entities owned by the Peoples Liberation Army and relatives of regime principals.

    Mercantilism is a policy that is designed to maximize the exports and minimize the imports for an economy. It promotes imperialism, tariffs and subsidies on traded goods to achieve that goal. These policies aim to reduce a possible current account deficit or reach a current account surplus. Mercantilism includes an economic policy aimed at accumulating monetary reserves through a positive balance of trade, especially of finished goods. Historically, such policies frequently led to war and also motivated colonial expansion.[1] Mercantilist theory varies in sophistication from one writer to another and has evolved over time.

    America has been largely passive in tolerating this behavior until Donald Trump became president. Some of this passivity may reflect Chinese influence with US politicians.

    While it may seem politics as usual in Washington today, some are alarmed.

    “Nobody in the 1980s would have represented the Russian government. And now you find so many lobbying for the Chinese government,” said Frank Wolf, a retired U.S. representative from Virginia who long served as the co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. “I served in Congress for 34 years. I find it shocking.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in China, COVID-19, Health Care, Markets and Trading | 47 Comments »

    Virus Transmission Modes

    Posted by David Foster on May 11th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Here’s an article with data…or at least assertions…about various ways in which Covid-19 spreads and their relative risks.

    To the extent that data at this level of detail can be obtained and verified, it seems a lot more useful than generic claims about lockdowns and social distancing, or the elimination of same.

    Mike K, any comments?

     

    Posted in COVID-19, Medicine, Science, USA | 25 Comments »

    Adventures in Social Media – Mil-Vet Version

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 11th, 2020 (All posts by )

    As I retired from a relatively uneventful career in the peacetime Air Force in 1997, I’ve been out of the military for longer than I was in it. I don’t hang around so much in military veteran circles online as I did early in the decade afterwards, when my daughter was serving in the Marines after 9/11 and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. But she does venture into veteran social media circles, on a local basis through organizations and outlets like Bourbiz, Grunt Style, Ranger Up, and Black Rifle Coffee … and she called my attention to what amounts to a dumpster fire ongoing in veteran circles. Holy heck, it’s more a raging nuclear inferno than your plain ordinary social media dumpster fire. Read the series of articles, she said, it’s jaw-dropping – and so I did. Oh. My. G*d. I thought the Vietnam-era “stolen valor” incidents so thoroughly documented in this book were the far frozen limit, but this Steele character appears to have ventured into hitherto unexplored dimensions. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Culture, Deep Thoughts, Media, Military Affairs | 32 Comments »

    Rush Limbaugh Went There.

    Posted by Stephen Karlson on May 10th, 2020 (All posts by )

    He was being funny, late on last Thursday’s show, and he came up with this.  “My favorite conspiracy theory is that this virus is the work of a bunch of lunatic billionaires who really believe that we are destroying the planet and they have discovered that we can’t get to Mars in time and we can’t colonize the moon so they have come up with a way to get rid of billions of people to make the world have a longer survivability potential.”  I’ve been referring, recently, to Tom Clancy novels, but I had no plans to go anywhere near Rainbow Six.

    As the novel involves precisely that kind of lunatic billionaire, as well as some clandestine work to shut down the plan and disappear the plotters, because of the risk of “a global panic when people realize what a biotech company can do if it wants,” though, well, perhaps there’s another story in it.

    Regular readers of Tom Clancy know that the likelihood of a secret being blown is proportional to the square of the number of people in on it.  The novel left a number of possible dots to connect to put together yet another story, one with the potential to topple governments.  If I had any sort of novel-writing skills, I might essay such a thing, although it might be more productive to offer some of the dots, as if a mental exercise in quarantine, should anyone wish to essay such an effort.

    There are almost enough dots to make a post as long as a Tom Clancy novel.  They’re below the jump.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Bioethics, Book Notes, COVID-19, Current Events, Diversions, Environment | 20 Comments »

    The Difficult Transition from Black and White Cinematography

    Posted by Dan from Madison on May 10th, 2020 (All posts by )

    During the ‘rona era, I have received a pretty nice benefit – more time. Time to do other things than work, that is. I now understand what they mean when people who fly privately say that private jets are like “time machines”. While private jets harvest time and the ‘rona has made me inherit time, the end game is the same. While I’m making less money, my life sure is more enjoyable. So maybe I actually have more treasure now. I’m digressing.

    In this extra time I have been studying French and watching old movies on FXM and Turner Classic Movies. I love looking at the historical technology (i.e. dial phones), elaborate sets both in sound studios and in locations around the world, and the differences in culture between “then” and “now”. The history of movie making is also interesting to me. We like to take Spring Break in LA and I always try to hit one of the studios for the museum and historical tours they offer.

    This morning’s feature was “Intent to Kill“, a somewhat ridiculous movie with some nice cinematography. As with anything, you win some and you lose some.

    The movie is in black and white. When I looked up the movie I saw that it was filmed in 1958 and thought to myself “Didn’t they have color movies way before then?”. My Google-fu was strong this morning, and now I have the answer to that question. This is a fascinating article for those who like movies (especially old ones) or for those who are interested in economics and old tech.

     

    Posted in History, Tech | 28 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on May 9th, 2020 (All posts by )

    firefly

     

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Respecting Authority

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 9th, 2020 (All posts by )

    As the Deity is my witness, I swear that certain of our elected officials at the state and municipal level are holding a contest to see who can be the most petty, obnoxious, contradictory, and unreasonably dictatorial boot stamping on a human face in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus. (Yes and I will call it the Wuhan coronavirus, or maybe even the Chinese Commie Crud; I owe nothing to the Chinese Communist Party, nor do I expect to sell books in China, so bite me, Premier “Winnie the Poo” Xi, you and your running-dog lackeys in the American media.)

    Lets’ see – Governor Gretchen “Karen” Witmer was making a strong showing for most of the last few weeks; stupid and illogical orders as to what was essential and what was not; yea, even to the point of roping off aisles in general-purpose stores. You could go to the store, look at the merchandise which was sitting right there, in plain sight … but because Governor “Karen” had ruled, in her inexplicable wisdom, that certain items were not essential … you could not purchase them. You could, in fact, order them through the store website … but you could not actually pick up the item and schlep it to the cashier yourself. Governor “Karen” also, in her infinite wisdom, decided that the same quarantine/isolation practices that were marginally appropriate for the Big City in her state were also appropriate for the far-distant rural counties, where one might have to actually arrange for someone with the Wuhan coronavirus to come and cough on you. Governor “Karen” also claimed to see Nazi and Confederate banners at public protests objecting to her idiotic policies. So, not only stupid and illogical … but delusional. If she was auditioning for a spot as the Dem VP-nominee, I suspect that she has bombed the audition. (But one never knows. Like idiocy, there seems to be an infinite and boundless supply of delusions of competence on the part of our current political leadership in blue states.) Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Business, Civil Society, COVID-19 | 20 Comments »

    The Flynn Case Collapses.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 7th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, the Department of Justice (so- called) dropped its prosecution of General Michael Flynn. This followed a ferocious defense by Sidney Powell, an attorney and author of the excellent book, “Licensed to Lie” which explained the federal misbehavior in the Enron cases, one of which resulted in a unanimous decision by the US Supreme Court that reversed the conviction of Arthur Anderson Accounting Corporation in a miscarriage of justice by Andrew Weissmann who should be disbarred for the Mueller investigation which he ran with Mueller as a senile figurehead.

    Why was Flynn prosecuted ?

    Here is an explanation.

    The only other Republican candidate to repudiate the “Bush Freedom Agenda” was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. That is why the 2016 Republican primary became a two-man race between Trump and Cruz. The whole of the American Establishment had signed on to a utopian crusade to impose the liberal world order on the Muslim world. After nine years of frustration in Iraq, it saw in the so-called “Arab Spring” demonstrations of 2011 a second chance to bring its agenda to fruition. The result of this was the near-collapse of Egypt and an eight-year civil war in Syria that killed half a million people and displaced 10 million refugees.

    Flynn called attention to this massive intelligence failure and had to be destroyed. It’s a shame that Cruz did not endorse Trump at the end on become part of a unity campaign.

    I have previously posted my opinion on the Flynn matter, which does not differ from David Goldman except in detail.

    After Flynn was driven out of his post at DIA, things got even more threatening to the intelligence officials, as he became a prime advisor to candidate Trump and, early in the campaign, other Republicans. After the 2016 elections, the IC officials went all-out to keep him out of the White House, sometimes resorting to spreading ridiculous stories. President Obama warned Trump not to appoint Flynn as national security advisor, and Susan Rice actually warned the president-elect that Flynn might be in violation of the Logan Act, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted, and hence blackmailable by the Russians. Meanwhile, the Bureau had opened a counterintelligence investigation of Flynn’s activities. His digital communications were monitored, “unmasked” at the request of Obama officials, and leaked to friendly journalists.

    Goldman’s version is a little different.

    As chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, Flynn had warned that American support for Sunni jihadists in Syria had the unintended effect of supporting the new caliphate movement, that is, ISIS. Among all the heads and former heads of the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, Flynn was the only one who had objected to the disastrous covert intervention in Syria and foreseen its baleful consequences. Obama fired him, but Donald Trump hired him as a top campaign aide and then appointed him national security adviser.

    The Syrian debacle brought Russia into Syria in 2015; the American-backed jihad had turned into a Petri dish for Russian Muslims from the Caucasus, as well as Chinese Uighurs and a motley assortment of foreign militants. Russia had interests of opportunity, for example, a warm-water refueling station for its Mediterranean fleet, but the risk of blowback from the Syrian civil war was the most urgent motive for President Vladimir Putin’s intervention.

    That is the background to the mutiny in the US Intelligence Community against the elected commander-in-chief. America’s noble – or perhaps narcissistic – intentions did more damage than Trump’s indifference.

    In retrospect, I think I agree even more with Goldman on this. I supported the Iraq War at first but it was botched beyond redemption.

    This is another post I made on the same topic last February.

    CIA must be disestablished. Its functions should be returned to the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. FBI must be restricted to law enforcement. At home, the Agencies are partisan institutions illegitimately focused on setting national policy. Abroad, Agencies untied to specific operational concerns are inherently dangerous and low-value.
    Intelligence must return to its natural place as servant, not master, of government. Congress should amend the 1947 National Security Act. The President should broaden intelligence perspectives, including briefs from State, Defense, and Treasury, and abolish CIA’s “covert action.” State should be made responsible for political influence and the armed services for military and paramilitary affairs.

    This is an obvious fact. Our intelligence capability has been destroyed in China and Iran by CIA incompetence in its secure communication systems.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Iraq, Law, National Security, Trump | 17 Comments »

    Real Quarantine

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on May 6th, 2020 (All posts by )

    This article by Lyman Stone at The Dispatch is certainly interesting, and I think has strong persuasive elements.  One has to get to paragraph 32 (I think.  It begins “But while I think decadence is a possible explanation…”) to get to what I think is the strongest point, but the whole thing seems solid. 

    We have chosen the wrong extreme measures, he thinks.  Because we are a wealthy nation, which can afford medical research and expects first-rate medical care, we have tried to dodge the proven solution to epidemics in hopes that something else, which doesn’t involve making people leave their homes, will work instead.

    There is good discussion of masks and other related topics, all done in an efficient few paragraphs each. There is history going back to Leviticus and leprosy, and not just for decoration. There’s a lot of bang for your buck in this article.

    Read that article first.  My own thoughts are next and are less valuable.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 40 Comments »