The Myth of Equality

It’s popular these days to scream about “equality”.  Equality is a goal to achieve.   A lack of equality is a bad thing and we must stamp it out.  If someone has more, he is to be detested and dragged down.  If somebody has less, he is to be pitied and given handouts to “make it fair.”

But, others point out.  People put in different amounts of effort.  It’s unfair to take from the hard worker and give to the lazy to make them “equal.”  Equality, they say, should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

However, even equality of opportunity has its own problems.  Look, I have worked hard to make opportunities for my daughter that she wouldn’t have otherwise.  There have actually been claims that reading to her when she was small was to give her a horrible unfair advantage. In addition, horror of horrors, I have made sure she had books she enjoyed reading so that she would not only read but read well–after all, you tend to get good at things you do a lot, and you tend to do a lot things you enjoy doing, so giving her books she enjoys reading is a means to the end of creating a good reader.  I have made sure she had the instructional materials and supplies to further her artistic talent.  I have made sure she’s competent in math, not just basic arithmetic but the thinking and reasoning that’s the foundation of higher math.  I have exposed her to political philosophies and the foundations of economics so she can make informed decisions as she grows up.  And before you say otherwise, no, I have not deprived her of her childhood in doing so.  These things don’t take a lot of time out of her day.  She has plenty of time for play and entertainment, for “kid stuff.”

But these things mean she will have far more opportunity than some child whose parents haven’t done this stuff for them.  And I make no apologies for that.

If you think my daughter has an “unfair advantage” which “disadvantages” your child, then get off your hind end and start doing the same kinds of things for your own children.  You make those kinds of opportunities for your children.  It’s not my job to do it for you.  It’s not the State’s job to do it for you.  And it is especially not the job of me or the State to handicap my child because you won’t give your child the same advantages.

What the State can do is not put artificial barriers in the way of your child and mine.  The only equality that is truly the purview of the State is the equality of getting out of the way and letting each person rise or fall on their own merits.

If your child has trouble because you did not instill in them an appreciation of reading, of the benefits of hard, focused work, of dedication to accomplishment and excellence it’s not the fault of my daughter’s privilege.

Now, if you, because of your own background, are trying and are just having trouble because you don’t have the skills–perhaps because your parents, and their parents, and on back–didn’t, there are people who are more than willing to help you.  But blaming those successful at it won’t accomplish that.

I, and many people like me, are more than willing to help people who are trying to pull themselves up.  We’re more resistant to those trying to pull us down.

The problem with the education-industrial complex.

Well, “a” problem, but I think a lot of the various problems stem from this one.

Consider operant conditioning.  As a quick summary, it’s how organisms behavior is modified in response to stimulus.  Behaviors that are associated with a “good” stimulus become more common and behaviors that are associated with a “bad” stimulus become less common.

It worked on rats in B. F, Skinner’s experiments.  It works on people in general (although there are always a few stubborn cusses that will push hard against such conditioning, at least when it’s blatant).  And I submit that it works on institutions.

Now consider that in the context of an educational bureaucracy.  The stimulus is money.  For a long time most of the time the folk who find reasons (however sincerely believed) why they “need” more money were rewarded with more money.  Need computers?  more money.  Need more teachers so we can have smaller classes?  More money. “Need” sports facilities and a coach so we can have a winning football team?  More money.  New textbooks for the latest educational theory to come down the pike?  More money.

And what happens to someone who is frugal and comes in under budget?  There’s a saying about budgets in bureaucracies:  use it or lose it.  Reward is based on coming up with reasons why the kids aren’t learning what they ought (or why the schools should be “teaching” even more things even though they aren’t teaching the basic skills the schools were created for in the first place).  It is not based on how well the kids are actually learning.

For a long time we, as a society, have been rewarding the educational industrial complex for excuses for failure rather than for success.  It doesn’t even require any dishonesty.  People who honestly believe that this is the reason why the kids aren’t learning or that is important enough to take time away from “three ‘r'” work are rewarded.  Folk who say “we need to go back to what works” or “we’re trying to do too much, we need to cut back to basics, get that right, and then think about what’s most important to add without losing those basics”…aren’t.

And the ones who are rewarded end up in positions of power and influence within the education-industrial complex.  It’s the Iron Law of Bureaucracy at a nutshell.

We’ve been rewarding excuses for failure and penalizing success.  As a result we get more excuses for failure and less success.  Exactly the opposite of what we should be doing:  rewarding success and penalizing failure, regardless of what excuses are presented for that failure.

Operant conditioning at work.

Some musings on past, present, and future

I’m going to wax a bit philosophical here.

Folk who know me (most here, I would presume) know that I lean very heavily “pro-liberty” if not outright libertarian.

OTOH, I part company with many Libertarians (the capitalization is no accident) in that I believe that some government, a “state” if you will, with some modest power is necessary for the preservation of liberty. “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men….”

Consider this example:  being able to get up on your roof with a rifle to drive off rampaging hordes of barbarians (whether Avars, Huns, Viking raiders, or rioters) is liberty.  Having to spend all your time on your roof because the barbarian hordes are endemic to your situation, is not.

So the barbarians have to be driven off or kept suppressed, which requires organization with the sanction to use force (since the barbarians, pretty much by definition, aren’t going to respond to sweet reason.  If they did, they wouldn’t be barbarians).  And once you have an organized body with the sanction to use force, there you have government.

Too little government, and your “freedom” is spent fighting off the barbarians piecemeal.  Government itself is a restriction on freedom, also just about by definition.

So there must, then, exist some level of government, some small level, where liberty is maximized, where each individual has the most freedom.

The folk who founded the US appear to have been attempting to find that level.  And perhaps, at the first, they were pretty close to it–or would have been if they could have gotten rid of chattel slavery (which wasn’t politically achievable at that time and the attempt would probably have destroyed the country before it ever got started).

I submit, however, that the level of government that leads to the greatest freedom (which may vary depending on a number of factors) is always unstable–in fact, I wonder if it’s not the least stable form of government–and will immediately begin to move in the direction of either anarchy or totalitarianism (usually, if history is any guide, toward totalitarianism).  The movement may be gradual.  Various “checks and balances” may slow the motion.  But they cannot halt it.

I do wonder if perhaps the checks and balances in the original United States Constitution were not too successful in slowing the move toward totalitarianism.  The Founders did appear to expect a revolution every couple of generations and they got one in the American Civil War, but, although that did lead to an end to chattel slavery I’m not sure that it was a net win for Liberty in the long run with the increase in Federal power that can be traced directly to it.  But the increase was slow enough, before and since, that we, as a people, largely got out of the habit of revolution.  While the old saw about boiling a frog is not true, it remains a useful metaphor and, I think may describe what has happened to the US.  In this case, by the time the water got hot enough to start being a serious problem we had had multiple generations growing up with “There ought to be a law” and “goodies that other people pay for” so that even if a revolution did happen it would just be a faster route toward totalitarianism.

This is why I have been watching the Trump administration with bated breath.  Some people pay more attention to the rhetoric, to the Tweets.  To the protests. (Really?  Trump being a new Hitler?  I’ve addressed that already and the claims have just drifted more from reality since.) I, instead, have looked to the little things on the side.  The appointment of judges, not just Goresuch, but a number of other federal judges, that are closer to Constitutional literalists than folk have been wont to appoint for some time.  An executive order requiring to federal regulations to be repealed to be able to pass one new one.  Tax reform that will actually reduce the tax burden of the majority of taxpayers. (Yes, people will tell you otherwise.  They are lying to you.)

It’s not all roses, of course.  We still have doubling down on the War on Drugs (the recent avenue is restricting people in pain from getting effective relief because a loosely familially related drug in the illegal drug trade is causing an “opiod crisis”).  We still have the endorsement of “civil asset forfeiture” (depriving people of property without due process). Hack.  Spit.  But on balance, the trend does seem to be toward the better.

I’m far from certain that the trends will continue.  The “Reagan Revolution” didn’t.  The Gingrich Revolution didn’t.  In both cases, there was a good start, some “rah rah” from the small government types, and then they passed.  Washington returned to business as usual, and the succeeding administrations and Congresses swallowed up whatever had started in those years without a trace.  The seven withered cows swallowed up the fat cows and remained withered.

I wouldn’t say we’re doomed.  But I wouldn’t say we’re saved either.  I remain…watchful.

Why do some people only see “gun control” as the answer to crime?

In another discussion the proposal of universal gun registration (mechanism was requiring all gun transfers go through an FFL with background check, but the purpose was to ensure there was an unbroken chain of 4473’s to identify who owns a particular firearm–registration by any other name). The claimed goal was to ensure that legal firearms were not “inadvertently” sold to prohibited persons.  The usual “to keep guns out of the hands of criminals” argument.

In the course of the discussion I made two counter proposals:

1) If a person can lose their rights under the 2nd Amendment via due process of law (and the 5th does allow losing liberty, which would include exercise of various rights, via due process of law), then said person can also lose their protection under the 4th. Why not, then, make a person convicted of a violent felony subject to search at any time for any reason, including the simple whim of the searching LEO? A person thus convicted who obtained a firearm would then be under constant threat that someone might pick them for today’s search and if found with said firearm, go back to spending a long period behind bars.

2) Why not have a “violent offenders registry” on the same model as the “sex offenders registry”? If everyone knows who the local violent criminals are, well, then only someone who is a criminal himself would sell a firearm to them, right?

Two different approaches. Sure, they’d have their own problems and issues that would need to be worked out. But they would be at least as effective, probably quite a bit more so, than the registration scheme at keeping guns out of criminal hands. (But then, it wouldn’t take much.)

Naturally, the “registration proponent” in that discussion did not address either of these proposals. Didn’t even acknowledge them at all. Nope, only “registration” was to be on the table.

So if registration is the only thing that will be considered and alternate proposals for achieving the same stated goal without the need of registration are dismissed out of hand as if they had never even been made, then one has to wonder what unstated goal remains that isn’t served by the alternate proposals.

Crime is a complex issue.  The “solution” is likewise going to be complex.  As much as some people want simple answers and others feed that desire in order to use it to get what they want politically the reality is that there are no simple answers.  There is certainly no one answer, no magic pill that will make the problem go away.

Here are a few things we can do:

Concentrate law enforcement on actual violent offenses.  That means we need to roll back the long list of crimes that are little more than annoyances.  California made it an offense to “misgender” someone?  An actual criminal offense?  Every bit of effort spent enforcing as a criminal violation something that is, at worst, rudeness, is effort not available to catch murderers and rapists and get them off the streets.  Since every crime out there is something that, in the extreme of non-compliance, police will kill over, you have to ask yourself:  is this law worth someone being killed over?  It won’t happen every time, but sometimes it will reach that point.  Is it worth it?  Eric Garner was killed for refusing to comply with a law regarding the taxation of cigarettes.  Was that tax worth someone’s life?  If it’s not, it needs to be taken off the books and the problem dealt with by means other than “pass a law.”

As part of that, we need to end the stupid war on drugs.  Yes, the drugs in question are horrible.  They destroy lives.  But a lot of the problems associated with them–particularly the crime and violence–are not because of the drugs themselves but because they were illegal.  We saw that with Prohibition.  The “roaring 20’s” were “roaring” because of the crime associated with the illegal alcohol trade.  In addition to the crime generated not because of the drugs themselves, but simply because they are illegal (not talking about illegal use of drugs here–that would be tautological–but things like gang wars over drug trade which is an “add on” from their being illegal), there’s also the severe damage to the US Constitution from the “war on drugs”.  No knock warrants, many times delivered to the wrong house or based on false information, leading to innocent people, and their pets, being terrorized, abused, and even killed.  “Asset forfeiture” where a person can be deprived of cash or valuable property simply on suspicion, without even being charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.  And if they’re able to get the property back at all (good luck with that) it’s only after spending extensive time and money fighting to have it returned (which is yet another way of depriving them of their property).

On that subject of law enforcement, we need to work on the “us vs. them” mentality of the police.  Instead of “us” being the law abiding and “them” being the criminals we have an “us” of police and a “them” of everybody else.  If I may make a movie allusion here, Robocop had it right in his prime directives.  First was “protect the innocent”.  Second was “serve the public trust”.  Only number three was “Uphold the law.” (Of course, there was that fourth one, but we won’t get into that here.)  We need to go back to “community policing”–“Peace officers” rather than “Law Enforcement Officers”.

Let people defend themselves, and have the means to effectively do it.  Look, the vast majority of people are decent human beings.  They’re the “good guys”.  In a level playing field the bad guys are forced to work on at the fringes because otherwise if even a modest fraction of the majority who are decent turn on them and they end up out of circulation.  But we don’t have a level playing field.  The “good guys” face restrictions that the bad guys ignore (because they’re bad guys) and the “fringes” become a lot larger. (I know.  I know.  “If we let people be armed then…” Except all those dire predictions of what will happen if we let people be armed to defend themselves?  They never materialize.  Fender benders don’t turn into shootouts.  Barfights don’t turn into gunfights.  And blood does not run in the streets.  Yes, I know “country X has strict restrictions and it has much lower crime than we do”.  Well see above about “no simple answers” and go take a look at what their crime was like before they passed the restrictions.  Hint:  you’ll look long and hard without finding a place where they had high crime, passed gun control, and as a result had low crime.  They had the low crime before they had the weapons restrictions.  The weapons restrictions were not the cause.)

A lot of this crime is related to mental health problems.  That, in itself, is a complicated issue.  First off, not all mental health problems lead to crime.  Most people with such issues live their lives perfectly law abiding (or at least as law abiding as anyone else–when the law is so pervasive and self-contradictory as it is, can anyone truly be “law abiding”?).  There are several things that can help in that area.  Many years ago, because of concerns about abuse, it was made extremely difficult to involuntarily commit an individual to in-patient mental health care.  The abuses were real, but the need to be able to make such commitments was also real.  The actions taken to alleviate the former we threw away the latter.  We need to be able to ensure that those who are a direct and present danger to self and (particularly since we’re talking about crime here) others get the help they need to stop being such a danger.  The flip side of that is some people are afraid of getting help because of fear of losing their rights (RKBA is a big one here:  ever been treated with antidepressants?  Lose your guns.  VA says you can’t handle your own finances?  No guns for you.) Such fears keep some people from getting the help they need early, when its more likely to be correctable lest they permanently lose their rights.  Again, we need to find a way to deal with people’s problems without driving them away for fear of such consequences.  And even if now they are a danger and have to have their rights suspended for that reason, they need to be able to have confidence that they can recover and have their rights restored.

There certainly is a lot more that can be done, but that’s a good start.  Those are things that are likely to have an actual, real, effect on violent crime as opposed to “gun control” which won’t.  Indeed, can’t.

So, when someone of the political class, in response to a horrific crime, calls for “gun control” rather than things like the above, it’s not crime they’re looking to control.

It’s you.


“First They Came”

It’s always frustrating to me when I see a “gun rights supporter” buy into the “we just want reasonable gun control” lie.  I’ve dealt with part of that, the “nobody wants to take your guns” claim elsewhere.  The questions you need to ask somebody who claims that is “how much is reasonable?  Where is the line?  At what point do you turn around and say ‘no more’? How far does it have to go before you’d agree we need to roll back the restrictions?” And then, take any answer they give you with a grain of salt because, frankly, whenever they’ve gotten a “we just want this” restriction they merely used that as a springboard for more.

One of the tactics the anti-gun folk use to great effect against us is “divide and conquer.” By going after one small segment of the gun community while assuring others that their guns are safe (at least for now), they get a large number of gun owners to sit back and essentially let them chip away at the 2nd Amendment. So we have the following:

First they came for the “assault weapons”
but I didn’t speak up because who needs an assault weapon?

Then they came for the open carriers
but I didn’t speak up because those people frighten the anti-gunners.

Then they came for the Saturday Night Specials,
but I didn’t speak up because they’re just junk guns.

Then they came for the high capacity magazines,
but I didn’t speak up because I only need a few rounds in the tube

Then they came for all the handguns,
but I didn’t speak up because I don’t use a handgun to hunt

Then they came for the High Powered Sniper Rifles,
but I didn’t speak up because I don’t use one of those.

When they came for the shotguns and muzzleloaders,
there was no one left to speak up.

Folks, the anti-gun crowd are not going to leave you alone. Just because they aren’t going after you today, just because they claim that they support your “right to hunt,” don’t be fooled. They say we need to “compromise” but we’ve been compromising since 1934. The ink isn’t even dry on each new “agreement” before they are talking about the “next step.” Each time you fail to support some portion of the community of law-abiding gun owners, you weaken yourself against the time they eventually come after you.

It’s time to stop compromising. Compromise is a strategy of weakness, of minimizing the effect of a losing position.  We haven’t been on the losing side since the mid 90’s.

It’s time to get back our rights.

The Founders could never have imagined “assault weapons.”

Yes, yes, because James Madison, who wrote the Bill of Rights (with input from plenty of others, but he’s the one who set quill to parchment for the final wording) was still alive when the revolver was invented.  Why I’ve got his note right here that says “these deadly repeating pistols, why a person could easily carry four or five of them on his person ready to use giving a single individual enough firepower to kill thirty people in as many seconds.  The Second Amendment was never intended to protect such wanton engines of destruction.”

No?  What’s that?  He wrote no such thing?

Hmm.  How about the Congressional debates over “Richard Gatling and his horrid engine of war that spits out dozens of bullets every second just by turning a crank” and whether it was protected by the Second?  No?  No such debates?

Well then how about “Hiram Maxim has developed this destructive device that one doesn’t even have to crank!  Just depress the trigger and it will keep firing until it runs out of ammunition.” Surely there were debates over whether it was legal or covered by the Second Amendment.  No?  There weren’t?

Well, then, how about “John Browning has developed a firearm that can be fired as fast as one can pull the trigger, holds more than most revolvers, and can be reloaded in less than two seconds.  This kind of weapon was never intended to be protected by the 2nd Amendment.” Surely the courts and Congress in 1912 or so addressed that issue.  No?  They didn’t?

Seriously, the idea that a group of founders that included folk like Benjamin Franklin (one of those present at the Constitutional Convention) and Thomas Jefferson (not present but a strong voice of influence) could not imagine weapon technology improving, even if they did not envision the specific directions, is beyond ludicrous.  If they’d intended to limit the 2nd to the technology of the 1780’s, they could, and would, have said so.

Indeed, it took until the Miller case in 1939 for the idea that some weapons might not be “covered” by the Second Amendment to be addressed by the courts.  In the Miller case, Miller had died before the case came to the Supreme Court.  Only the government’s side was heard.  And the court still didn’t rule unequivocally in the government’s favor.  Instead, they noted that they did not have “judicial notice” that the specific weapon, a short barreled shotgun (“sawed off” in common parlance, but it’s the barrel length and overall length that were the legal issues whether sawed to get that way or not), was an appropriate weapon for military use (nobody had told them that “trench sweepers” were a common weapon in WWI) and remanded the case back down to lower for review on that basis and there it died because, well, Miller was dead and there was no one left to pursue the matter.

People have since cited Miller saying “See, you have to be in a militia” when actually it only addressed whether the weapons was useful to a militia.

The idea that the 2nd only applies to the arms at the time of the writing of the Constitution is a new one, invented by people who don’t like the idea that people have firearms at all. (Don’t think so?  Get one of them to go so far as to support repealing “gun free zones” so long as the “gun” in question is a flintlock muzzleloader or permitting “constitutional carry” of same.)

And, frankly, the Supreme Court agrees:

Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

Now, one can make the argument that there are weapons that should not be covered under the 2nd (nuclear and bio come to mind), but there’s a solution to that, and one found within the Constitution itself.  The people who wrote the Constitution understood that it would have to adapt to changing circumstances.  That’s why they put in the Amendment process.

If you want to change the 2nd to accommodate changes in weapons technology, then do so, but do it right:  amend. the. Constitution.  Get 2/3 of the Senate and 2/3 of the House to agree to a proposed Amendment, then get 3/4 of the States to sign off on it.

That’s what the Amendment process is there for.

But just deciding that it means something other than both its plain words and the intent of the folk who wrote it (as found in their writings at the time) is to make the Constitution meaningless. because if they can “redefine” that, then they can redefine anything.

Preparing the roast beast

For Christmas I do standing rib roast.  This year I tried preparing it a little bit different from what I’ve done before.


  • 1 3-4 rib (about 9 lbs) Standing Rib Roast
  • 1/2 lb butter (real butter, not margarine)
  • 2-3 tbsp of finely minced garlic (I like garlic, a lot, so adjust for your preferences)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Farenheit

Using cotton twine, bind the roast between the ribs to keep the meat as compact as possible.

Soften the butter.  Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Spread the butter/seasoning mix over the roast.

Place the coated roast on a roasting pan:


Insert “leave in” thermometer to the middle of the meat (not touching any of the bones).  Bake in 250 degree oven until desired doneness.  I like 140 (rare) to 145 (med rare).

Optional, when the meat temperature is a few degrees short of desired increase oven temperature to 350.  This will slightly shorten the cooking time and “brown” the outside a bit more.

The result:


It makes a scrumptious part of a holiday feast:


From: The Hordes of Chanakra

A scene from my fantasy novel, The Hordes of Chanakra:

“Is everything ready?” Kreg asked Shillond as he pulled brush to block the entrance to the small cave.  They had been fortunate in finding the cave.  It offered a place to hide from the soldiers searching for them.

The cave mouth sat halfway up a large hill.  It opened onto a small shelf of level ground above a steep slope of loose, broken rock.

“Ready enough,” Shillond said. “I’ll have to awaken Kaila in order to make the tests.” He had renewed the sleeping spell on her several times over the past two days. “Stand ready.  She is likely to be violent and I am unsure whether her bonds will restrain her.”

“Cripes, if we had any more rope to use…”

“But we don’t.” Such as they had, they had stolen from farmyards in the moonless hours of the night. “Be alert.  I will begin.”

Shillond began to chant.  In a few seconds Kaila’s eyes flew open.  They flashed with pure hatred, a look so grim as to make her usual expression seem positively cheerful.  Her muscles bulged.  The ropes creaked under the strain, but held.  Barely.  Kreg shuddered before Kaila’s stare as Shillond finished the spell.

“We are lucky.” Shillond turned to Kreg. “It is a compulsion rather than a possession.  Unfortunately, it is a greater compulsion rather than a lesser.”

“Which means?”

“I should be able to break it.” Shillond shook his head. “It will be difficult.  Perhaps you should wait outside.”

“Not meant for the eyes of us mortal types, huh?” Kreg regretted the jest at the pain in Shillond’s eyes.  He held up a hand. “Sorry.  I’ll go.”

“Do not reenter the cave,” Shillond said. “That would break the wards and release forces you cannot imagine.”

Kreg thought about the weapons of his own world and thought he could imagine more than Shillond thought.  He nodded and backed out of the cave’s small opening.

Outside, Kreg sat and waited.  In the distance he could see the light of the army’s watchfires, pinpricks of light in the darkness.  Shillond had said that such an army as had been encamped before the castle was not raised in a day, but two days had seen the apparent raising of an even larger army.  Kreg did not doubt that the army was on its way to reinforce the forces attacking Aerioch.

Seeing the apparent size of the army, Kreg frowned.  Shillond had explained that Schah was a small country, not in area but in population.  Although the land area was similar to that of either Aerioch or Shendar the land of Schah was much drier.  As a result, population was sparser.

The armies they had been fielding numbered hosts larger than Schah’s entire population and, judging by the army that was massing below, there did not seem to be any end to them.  Those people had to come from somewhere, but where?  Kreg had suggested Chanakra along with the wizards, but Shillond had said that Chanakra was an even smaller country than Schah.

So lost in thought was Kreg that he nearly missed noting that several of the watchfires were moving.  They also flickered a bit much for watchfires seen at a distance.

Kreg jumped to his feet.  Those were not watchfires.  Those were torches, and they were moving closer.

“Shillond!” Kreg drew his sword. “We’ve got company!”

Kreg’s gaze flitted from shadow, to rock, to twisted bush hoping to find something with which to stave off the attack.  He saw nothing.  First, sticking his sword point first in the ground he gripped his bow, nocked an arrow, and estimated a target under one of the torches.  He loosed and the arrow disappeared in the darkness.  A moment later a cry of pain rewarded Kreg and the torch fell to the ground.  He loosed another arrow after the first but this one missed.

Kreg sent arrow after arrow speeding into the approaching band.  Twenty arrows he loosed.  Seven men fell, dead or wounded.  At least ten more were still approaching.  They had reached the base of the slope and would have to scramble up it to reach Kreg.

Kreg plucked his sword from the ground and drew himself to his full height. “Come on, you bastards!  I may die tonight, but I’ll take a few of you with me.”

He stood at the edge of the slope where he would have solid footing while the men approaching him would still be on the scree.

The first of the men arrived.  Kreg thrust, catching the man through the throat as he scrambled for footing on the loose rocks.  After parrying the next man’s attack, Kreg drove back with a riposte as the third began to clamber to the side in an effort to outflank Kreg.  He sliced past the second’s guard and sidestepped to deal with the third.  Numbers four and five split up, working Kreg between them.

Kreg managed to drop the third just as the larger of the two moons chose to peak from behind a cloud and bathe the scene in a ruddy glow.  He turned to face four, unable to avoid leaving his back to five.  While Kreg dealt with four, he heard a shout behind him.  Something warm and wet thumped against his back, causing him to lose his balance.  As he stumbled, he threw out his arms for balance.  By chance rather than design, Kreg’s sword caught four in the ribs.  Four dropped.

Kreg turned to deal with the others and saw only bodies.  Over them stood Kaila, clad in buff tunic and high leather boots.  She returned his gaze with a grim smile.

“Again, I owe you thanks,” she said.

$2.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Unlimited, $14.99 in Paperback

When even the gods are at a loss, all they can offer is a spark of hope.

Kreg lived an ordinary life as a computer consultant–safe, secure…dull.  He was content, with his hobbies and a passion for history.

Thrice weekly judo classes and weekends at the archery range imagining he was at Agincourt or Crecy let him at least pretend to excitement in his life.

When Kreg saw a rape in progress he tried to be the hero and was struck from behind.  He woke in a world he had never imagined, a world of blood and pain, a world that seemed mired in the Middle Ages.  Trapped and despairing he met and befriended the rough swordsmistress Kaila and her wizardly father.  With new friends came new foes, a horde that poured from the small nation next door in seemingly endless numbers that threatened everything his new friends cared about.

Now, Kreg was in a race against time to find the source of this horde, and to stop it before everything he had come to care about ended in fire and death.

What are they teaching in schools?

A couple of incidents from several years ago.

The first from 2012 when my daughter was in 3rd grade (from my old blog):

Had a little talk with my daughter, Athena.  On her recent report card one of the subjects was social studies and the particular topic was something like “governments are needed to provide services…”


So I asked my daughter what they were teaching her about government. She went into an example of a street sweeper and how it needs to be paid for by tax dollars.

This is her “take away” about the purpose of government?


So we had a little chat.  I explained to here that the people who created our country wrote down what they thought was the purpose of government and it went something like this:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

We spent some time going over what that meant and then I went into some examples:  Police, catching “bad guys” who would harm others and, in so doing, deprive them of their rights.  This is a good and proper function of government.  Courts, allowing people an avenue to resolve disputes without turning them into feuds and shootouts (she came in with “or dagger fights”–that’s my girl).  Proper function of government.  The military, defending against attacks on America and Americans which would deprive us of our rights.  Proper function of government.

Some other things that people want government to do?  Not so much.

Look, I get that different people may have different ideas on what the “purpose of government” is, or should be.  But this country was founded on the principle I gave.  The Constitution was written with enumerated powers that are a pretty good fit to that purpose.  And while other folk are certainly at liberty to have different views on the matter, those are matters of philosophy rather than fact and it is not the job of the schools to dictate one true political philosophy and especially not to attempt to override the philosophy of the parents.

Next, in 2015 (6th grade) on the subject of religion.  Athena came home to me in tears, upset about what her teacher had said about the religion she believed at the time. (For context, I describe as an “Asatru leaning Agnostic”–I find appeal in the Asatru religion and use it to fill my own innate need for ritual and symbolism.  I figure the gods of Asatru don’t care whether I believe or not, only what I do and I can live with that without the hypocrisy of following a religion whose central tenet is belief when I don’t believe.)

This letter I wrote to her teacher explains the incident well enough:

Mr. [Athena’s 5th Grade Teacher],

I just had a talk with Athena that has me somewhat concerned and I’m hoping you can clarify things for me.

If I understand what she was saying (she was upset and teary and can be a bit hard to understand like that) you were discussing a book in class and the comment was made about Thor being from Greek mythology. Athena corrected that. Thor comes from Norse mythology. Athena knows this because she is Asatru. Asatru is a modern revival of historical Germanic paganism. It’s a real, although small, religion. The religion is officially recognized in Iceland and Asatru symbolism is permitted by the military and the VA for use on such things as military dogtags and headstones. (One of a veteran’s benefits is burial at government expense with a headstone also provided by the government.)

Now the concerning part was telling Athena that this was all fake and that Christianity was superior. She already feels isolated by being one of two non-Christians in her class and it does not help to have a figure of authority belittle her beliefs. If Athena misinterpreted what was actually said, please clarify what actually happened.

I have explained to Athena my own belief, as an agnostic. The Universe is a big place with room in it for a god or gods and I don’t know whether he, she, it, or they exist. But, the human animal has a need, bred into our genes, for ritual and symbolism. As a non-believer I think it would be quite hypocritical to find that ritual and symbolism in a system that, at its core, is about belief. You must believe this way. You must accept that premise. Instead, I find my ritual and symbolism in a system that does not care what you believe, but rather what you do. That you are honest, industrious, self-reliant, honorable, and so forth. And so I find Asatru a better fit to my lack of belief than Christianity or other monotheistic religions.

If my daughter goes beyond my lack of belief to actual belief, that is her prerogative. Asatru, at least, is completely at peace with modern science. Modern Asatruar that I know accept that the stories from the Norse Myth are stories told about the Gods and others to explain and inspire, not actual truth. No Asatruar are trying to get the story of Ymir taught in Earth Science class. They are not trying to get the tale of Heimdall and the origin of Thrall, Carl, and Jarl taught in Anthropology class. There is no reason that her belief should conflict to learning the lessons she needs to learn in school. Thus, there is no reason to belittle her belief.

Even if she brings up the subject response should be no more than, “that’s an interesting belief. Other people believe…” if even that.

That said, I’m hoping that all of the above was actually unnecessary and you can explain how Athena misinterpreted something leading to her concern and upset.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing your response soon.

The teacher either “corrected an extreme misunderstanding” or backpedaled furiously. Athena tells me he had a talk with her explaining that he certainly did not mean to belittle her beliefs and, since they were in a “fantasy” segment in their English and were talking about the Avengers movie and Thor he didn’t realize that it was an actual religion in question.

So I didn’t have to go all “papa bear” on him.

Now, as it happened, as Athena has gotten older, she is no longer a believer, following more my “Asatru leaning Agnostic” path and that’s fine.

The point I make here is that once again it is not the school’s job to undermine or override the religious beliefs of children and their parents.   Even in cases where the religion directly contradicts the class (the classic example is Young Earth Creationism in biology or Earth science class) there are ways to handle that without belittling the child:  “Yes, a lot of people believe that.  Scientists, however have come to different conclusions based on their studies and that’s the subject of this class.  There’s always the possibility that further study will lead to different conclusions, but this is their best understanding now.”

The legitimate purpose of public schools, if any*, is to teach our children skills.  It is not a legitimate purpose to indoctrinate them into particular belief contrary to that of the children’s parents.

*An argument can be made that by their very nature public schools funded by tax dollars are illegitimate.  Another argument can be made that at least at the state and local level, education is a valid use of tax dollars.  I can see validity from both points of view and it is not my intent to get into that discussion here.  We have them and are likely to continue to have them for the foreseeable future.  I start from that premise.

EU endorses GOP tax reform.

Okay, they didn’t word it that way, but their recent “complaint” sounds to me like an unqualified endorsement.  The complaint?  Get this.

The GOP tax plan will cause companies to flee Europe and return to the US.

The plan will cause companies to move operations to the US, creating jobs for American workers, creating more demand for American labor.  And in increase in demand invariably (this is really basic economics here) drives up the price meaning American workers, on balance, can be expected to be paid more. (Acme corporation can only get away with paying starvation wages so long as there isn’t a Bdnf corporation down the street that would love to have their skilled workers and is willing to pay a bit more to hire them away from Acme.)

More companies doing their business in the US rather than overseas is almost by definition growth in the US economy.  And economic growth means a larger base for the taxation that remains which offsets the reduced rate.

In short, what Europe is complaining about is that the tax reform will do exactly what the GOP promised for it.  The Democrats can scream about “the one percent” and “tax breaks for the rich” (tax break, as a percentage is actually mostly on the middle class, but they never let truth stop them, neither the Democrat politicians nor their cheering section in the major media). Meanwhile finance ministers in Europe fear not the claims of the Democrats, but that it will actually do what the GOP promised.

So what do they do?  Do they look at their own tax policies and step up to compete?  Nope.  They expect the US to hobble itself back down to their level.

Well, I’ve got news for them.  Donald Trump is President of the United States, not President of Europe.  He was elected to pursue the interests of the United States of America, not those of Europe, China, Brazil, Kenya, or anywhere else.  My Senators and Representatives were voted in to represent _my_ interests, not those of those other nations.  I’m more than willing to have the US work with other countries in mutually beneficial ways.  Mutually.  That means that we benefit as well.  If you (meaning the leaders of other countries) cannot deal with us on those terms, well, that’s your problem, not ours.

You know, there are a lot of people out there who keep trying to make the US more like Europe.  And yet, we’re the world’s sole surviving superpower.  We didn’t get that way by being like the rest of the world.

So instead of complaining when the US does something different, maybe you should consider being more like us?  Or if we’re really making a mistake (as you often claim), then let us.  You can always say “I told you so” later.

But I suspect the reason that folk in Europe keep “advising” us to do things differently is not because they think we are wrong, but because they fear we are right.