You Can’t Stop the Signal, Mal.

Reblogged from Sarah A. Hoyt.

As most of you guys know for many years now, Glenn Reynolds, of instapundit (where I post as the “night DJ” most nights) had done a weekly column in USA Today for years.

Frankly in light of a few off-putting moves over the years, the fact they still published the boss was one of the things that I held onto as a sign there was still some sanity at the USA Today, and it made me less p*ssed off whenever I got a “free” copy at my hotel room.

For the first, time ever, they refused to run his column. So he ran it unedited on his own blog.

Needless to say, it involved the Hunter Biden story. Which is, of course, something we peasants can’t be allowed to know in detail, because if we did, we’d also know the Big Guy is snugly kept in Fascist China’s pocket and that a vote for Biden is a vote to subjugate the US to China.

I find it interesting they decided to do this to Glenn, who has more than once proved the power of the New Media. Not the social media, not the mass media, but those of us, tyros, and independents who do this because we care about the truth. We also care about reality. Let’s show these would-be-aristoi there are unintended consequences. Let’s Streisand Effect them.

So, below I’m reproducing the full text of the boss’s column. And I ask you, all of you who have blogs, to do the same. Sure only one or two people might see it on your blog. But it’s not the size of the pebble thrown into the ocean: it’s the size of the ripples.

Ripple away. They can’t stop the signal, Mal.

BIG TECH BURNED BY BIDEN BLUNDER

Glenn Harlan Reynolds

In my 2019 book, The Social Media Upheaval, I warned that the Big Tech companies — especially social media giants like Facebook and Twitter — had grown into powerful monopolists, who were using their power over the national conversation to not only sell ads, but also to promote a political agenda. That was pretty obvious last year, but it was even more obvious last week, when Facebook and Twitter tried to black out the New York Post’s blockbuster report about emails found on a laptop abandoned by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The emails, some of which have been confirmed as genuine with their recipients, show substantial evidence that Hunter Biden used his position as Vice President Joe Biden’s son to extract substantial payments from “clients” in other countries. There are also photos of Hunter with a crack pipe, and engaging in various other unsavory activities. And they demolished the elder Biden’s claim that he never discussed business with his son.

That’s a big election-year news story. Some people doubted its genuineness, and of course it’s always fair to question a big election-year news story, especially one that comes out shortly before the election. (Remember CBS newsman Dan Rather’s promotion of what turned out to be forged memos about George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service?)

But the way you debate whether a story is accurate or not is by debating. (In the case of the Rather memos, it turned out the font was from Microsoft Word, which of course didn’t exist back during the Vietnam War era.) Big Tech could have tried an approach that fostered such a debate. But instead of debate, they went for a blackout: Both services actually blocked links to the New York Post story. That’s right: They blocked readers from discussing a major news story by a major paper, one so old that it was founded by none other than Alexander Hamilton.

I wasn’t advising them — they tend not to ask me for my opinion — but I would have advised against such a blackout. There’s a longstanding Internet term called “the Streisand effect,” going back to when Barbara Streisand demanded that people stop sharing pictures of her beach house. Unsurprisingly, the result was a massive increase in the number of people posting pictures of her beach house. The Big Tech Blackout produced the same result: Now even people who didn’t care so much about Hunter Biden’s racket nonetheless became angry, and started talking about the story.

As lefty journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Intercept, Twitter and Facebook crossed a line far more dangerous than what they censored. Greenwald writes: “Just two hours after the story was online, Facebook intervened. The company dispatched a life-long Democratic Party operative who now works for Facebook — Andy Stone, previously a communications operative for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among other D.C. Democratic jobs — to announce that Facebook was ‘reducing [the article’s] distribution on our platform’: in other words, tinkering with its own algorithms to suppress the ability of users to discuss or share the news article. The long-time Democratic Party official did not try to hide his contempt for the article, beginning his censorship announcement by snidely noting: ‘I will intentionally not link to the New York Post.’”

“Twitter’s suppression efforts went far beyond Facebook’s. They banned entirely all users’ ability to share the Post article — not just on their public timeline but even using the platform’s private Direct Messaging feature.”

“Early in the day, users who attempted to link to the New York Post story either publicly or privately received a cryptic message rejecting the attempt as an ‘error.’ Later in the afternoon, Twitter changed the message, advising users that they could not post that link because the company judged its contents to be ‘potentially harmful.’ Even more astonishing still, Twitter locked the account of the New York Post, banning the paper from posting any content all day and, evidently, into Thursday morning.”

This went badly. The heads Facebook and of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, are now facing Senate subpoenas,the RNC has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that Twitter’s action in blacking out a damaging story constituted an illegal in-kind donation to the Biden Campaign, and most significantly, everyone is talking about the story now, with many understandably assuming that if the story were false, it would have been debunked rather than blacked out.

CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted:  ”Congrats to Twitter on its Streisand Effect award!!!” Big Tech shot itself in the foot, and it didn’t stop the signal.

Regardless of who wins in November, it’s likely that there will be substantial efforts to rein in Big Tech. As Greenwald writes, “State censorship is not the only kind of censorship. Private-sector repression of speech and thought, particularly in the internet era, can be as dangerous and consequential. Imagine, for instance, if these two Silicon Valley giants united with Google to declare: henceforth we will ban all content that is critical of President Trump and/or the Republican Party, but will actively promote criticisms of Joe Biden and the Democrats. 

“Would anyone encounter difficulty understanding why such a decree would constitute dangerous corporate censorship? Would Democrats respond to such a policy by simply shrugging it off on the radical libertarian ground that private corporations have the right to do whatever they want? To ask that question is to answer it.”

“To begin with, Twitter and particularly Facebook are no ordinary companies. Facebook, as the owner not just of its massive social media platform but also other key communication services it has gobbled up such as Instagram and WhatsApp, is one of the most powerful companies ever to exist, if not the most powerful.”

He’s right. And while this heavyhanded censorship effort failed, there’s no reason to assume that other such efforts won’t work in the future. Not many stories are as hard to squash as a major newspaper’s front page expose during an presidential election.

As I wrote in The Social Media Upheaval, the best solution is probably to apply antitrust law to break up these monopolies: Competing companies would police each other, and if they colluded could be prosecuted under antitrust law. There are also moves to strip them of their immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from being sued for things posted or linked on their sites on the theory that they are platforms, not publishers who make publication decisions. And Justice Clarence Thomas has recently called for the Supreme Court to revisit the lower courts’ interpretation of Section 230, which he argues has been overbroad. A decade ago there would have been much more resistance to such proposals, but Big Tech has tarnished its own image since then.

Had Facebook and Twitter approached this story neutrally, as they would have a decade ago, it would probably already be old news to a degree — as Greenwald notes, Hunter’s pay-for-play efforts were already well known, if not in such detail — but instead the story is still hot. More importantly, their heavy handed action has brought home just how much power they wield, and how crudely they’re willing to wield it. They shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences.

My Life, Part Thirteen: Butch

Image is stock photo and not actually representative of Butch.

Not long after my family moved into the new house on Greenwood Drive (see Part 4) my mother brought home a stray dog which she named Christie. Christie was as sweet tempered a dog as you could imagine, very well behaved including being completely housebroken, and absolutely adored my mother. She was also pregnant.

Christie only broke housetraining once. We had been gone for a weekend and came home to find she had been locked in the house and had lost control right next to the back door. She tried, but not having hands with opposable thumbs she couldn’t manage the door.

My mother set up a box in a corner for Christie. When she went into labor my mother was there and, for the first puppy, she had her head in my mother’s lap. After the first one came, she curled up herself as if to say, as my mother described it, “Okay, I’ve got this now.”

Christie dropped five puppies. In the ensuing weeks, the puppies eyes opened and they started getting up and about and roaming the house. We never had to house train them. Christie took care of that. She would take them outside and bring them back in. She was one smart dog.

In due time, once the puppies were weaned, we offered them for adoption “free to good home.” Four of them were quickly snapped up. The fifth, whom we’d named “Butch”, nobody would take, not even free. He was just too ugly for anybody to want.

And so, Butch became my dog. My mother said he was a “springer spaniel (thus the pic up top) beagle mix”. Maybe. The conformation was similar once he grew and the coloration pattern was similar although white and a very light tan, much lighter than the brown in the pic.

I didn’t think him ugly even as the puppy that nobody else wanted. I loved him dearly. My mother insisted that I be the one to feed him (we fed canned food, Ken-L Ration usually) so he would bond exclusively to me. I have since become big on giving any dog I have basic obedience training at the minimum but we didn’t do that then. The extent of any behaviors/tricks we taught was “beg” for treats and to come when called.

Now, today this would be considered a very bad idea but back then it was fairly common to let dogs roam when not in the house and that’s what Butch was allowed to do. Over the years we lost entirely too many dogs that way and well, we’ll get to that later.

Butch was my absolute best friend. He went with me everywhere he was allowed to be (couldn’t go in stores and the like, couldn’t go with me to school, etc.) and I lavished all the love and affection I had on him.

He was my confidante (never revealed a secret) and, most importantly, my solace when the bullying and ostracism got to be too much to bear.

Time passed and we moved to Ohio, first to Uncle Denny’s, then to the place next to it.

One day while I was out with Butch wandering the neighborhood one older man, sitting on his porch, told me that I should have Butch on a leash. In retrospect he was absolutely right. I should have. However, as a 10 or 11 year old, well, I made some pompous little statement about “freedom” and went on my way.

When my mother took my sister and I back to Virginia during her brief separation from Bruce, Butch did not go with us. I don’t know why we left him behind. Maybe we were too rushed to leave or maybe Mother realized that there wouldn’t be any place to have him when we got back to Virginia. We stayed at first with Aunt Pauline and Uncle George for some time. They had a dog of their own, a Pekinese, and there was no telling if the dogs would have gotten along (Butch would have been fine–he was everybody’s friend–but I don’t know about the Peke). Then there was that cheap walk-up. So, no, we really weren’t in a position to keep a dog.

The interlude in Virginia ended and we moved back to Ohio and Butch was still there. I guess Bruce actually took care of him in the interim (or maybe neighbors did, I can’t say, although I prefer to think that Bruce had at least enough humanity to look after the dog).

So, with the return to Ohio, I also experienced the return to the bullying and ostracism I had managed to escape for a time in Virginia (which, perhaps, despite the years and the rather brief time I had there, I feel more of a connection to Virginia than I ever did to Ohio) and thankfully, Butch was there for me, always willing to let me wrap my arms around him and bawl my eyes out in his neck fur when the frustrations and loneliness, and growing depression, grew to be too much.

In due course we moved to the house near Claysville. Butch loved this. Open fields for lots of running. Chickens to chase (okay, he wasn’t supposed to do that, but he didn’t know that, and we did…mostly…get him broken of it). And groundhogs to fight.

This latter one, I think, is what finally proved his bane. (And, I must admit to misting up a bit at writing this.)

One day, after his roaming, he came home bloody from having been in a fight with something where he came out the worse. We cleaned him up and for a while he stayed close to the house. In time he healed and resumed his roaming.

This next part, I have only second hand account. My mother said that one day, after the fight where he came home bloody, he came home carrying a dead groundhog in his mouth. He dropped it in front of Mother and looked up at her, as she says, as if to say “Well, I got him.” Then he picked it up and went off with it. Mother’s theory is that he got into it with a groundhog and got torn up a bit, which was why he came back bloody that time, then when he healed he went out for a rematch and won.

However, sometime after that Butch was just…not there. He went out and he just never came back. We never did learn what happened to him. My mother thinks, and I suspect she’s right, that the most likely thing was that he got into it one too many times with groundhogs and one eventually killed him. Other possibilities are that he got caught in somebody’s trap (hunting and trapping were big activities then and there) or maybe some farmer shot the “stray dog”.

We’ll never know. And I still miss him today.

Damn onion ninjas.

I am so very sorry, Butch. You died much too young because I was an idiot that didn’t know how to properly take care of you.

On This Day: A Bad Day for Empires

Not a particular single event, but I noticed one time when looking through “On this day” in Wikipedia that October 19 seems to be a particularly bad day for empirs.

202 BC

At the end of the 2nd Punic War, after taking major losses at Utica and Great Plains, the Carthaginian’s recalled Hannibal from Italy. Confident in Hannibal’s forces and leadership, they broke the armistice imposed on them after the preceding two defeats and confronted the Romans. Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Massinissa. The Carthaginians had a somewhat larger army of 40,000 men and including 80 war elephants compared to the Roman 35,100 men.

The result was disaster for the Carthaginians with 20,000 men killed and 20,000 captured, wiping out the Carthaginian army and ending the 17 year 2nd Punic War.

1453 AD

Three months after the Battle of Castillon, England finally loses the last of its possessions in southern France, thus bringing to an end the Hundred Years war.

1781

With French ships blockading both resupply and evacuation, Lord Cornwallis is forced to surrender to George Washington, ending the battle of Yorktown, the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War and making American independence a fait accompli although it would be another two years before Great Britain officialy recognized that independence.

1812

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia comes to an end as he is forced to begin his retreat from Moscow. This would mark the furthest extent of the French Empire under Napoleon.

1813

Once again, Napoleon faces a major defeat in the battle of Leipzig. The Sixth Coalition, consisting of troops from the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, Sweden, and the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at 257,000 men outnumbered Napoleon’s 177,000 men. In particular the Sixth Coalition had 1400 guns to Napoleon’s 700. This ended the French Empire’s presence east of the Rhine.

1866

The Austrian Empire, in accordance with the 1866 Treaty of Vienna which ended the Third Italian war of Independence (and a theater of the Austro-Prussian war), handed Veneto and Mantuo to France, which immediately gave them to the new Kingdom of Italy as payback for previous concessions of Savoy and Nice.

1935

Italy, attempting to build itself into an empire, had just invaded Ethiopia, leading to a war that would last until February of 1941. On this date in 1935, the League of Nations would place economic sanctions on Italy which would prove about as effective as such sanctions usually are, that is, not to speak of. While these sanctions caused alarm in Rome, they served to strengthen Musollini’s position as the Italian people saw him as being strong in standing up to the League of Nations and so helped to cement Fascist power in Italy and more strongly drive Italy into the German camp for the coming war.

2005

Not exactly an empire or even a nascent empire (although Iraq did have pretensions of being a leader of the “Arab world”, so perhaps a nascent empire after all) but on October 19, 2005, Saddam Hussein went on trial for Crimes against Humanity.

Goth on Ice: Turn, Turn, Turn

One of the main things I’ve been working on the last few sessions is the forward outside three-turn. You start with a forward outside edge. Shift arm position (like we do with the outside edges). “Check” body and shoulder position. Then twist the lower body around, so that instead of skating forward, you’re skating backward on a backward inside edge.

Last time, I described some of the mistakes I was making. This week, I seem to have been able to finally bring it together.

I had actually recorded a practice set early on, but the results were quite foggy–probably condensation on the lens of my phone’s camera. So I went back out onto the ice specifically to do a couple to record.

I’m still working on the edges (“turning” by making a swooping curve across the ice to keep with the title theme–going “forward” but changing what direction forward happens to be). Forward outside edges are giving me a bit of problem, usually having to put a foot down before I complete the half-circle. Part of that is that I’m getting my weight too far forward on the blade. That forward tilt of my body (a perennial problem I have) is part of that. (Note: As of this posting the next two videos are still uploading. They should be up later.)

Finally, we have the backward crossovers. They are coming along nicely. My instructor pointed out a couple of mistakes I’m making: not bending the rear leg enough during the cross (which will help get a deeper cross and more power) and having my feet too close to parallel during the cross. I could have them “toe out”. To clarify what I mean by “toe out” (since having my legs crossed might confuse the matter my right leg (even when it’s on the left side because crossed) needs to have the toe angled to the right and left leg (even when on the right because crossed) needs to have the toe angled to the left. This, also, will give more power and speed in the cross but more importantly will reduce the chance of having the blades collide, tripping me up.

In class, after the practice session that I was able to record, my instructor had me doing another turn: Forward inside Mohawk. I’m finding it particularly challenging to begin with but, on top of that, he had me doing an exercise where I do one forward crossover, an inside Mohawk, which supposedly now has me going backward (if I can actually do it right) then a backward crossover, followed by a “step out” into forward inside edge. The idea is that we then repeat this, going front to back then back to front over and over along a curved path.

I think it’s supposed to look something like this:

Gas Issues

Well this is just ducky. Got home from afternoon skating session and found a notice on my door that there had been an emergency/maintenance or outage on my gas. They left the gas turned off. I presume that was for safety not knowing the status of any gas-using appliances in the house and fair enough. Only this happened yesterday and I did not know until I went over to look at what appeared to be the results of some digging in my yard. (I was figuring burrowing animals.) Saw the notice on my door and “Call to have gas turned on. Must be home when we turn on gas and light appliances.”

Well, okay, fair enough. I call the number which says “24 hours” and the message is “this is after our regular business hours”. Options to continue (besides waiting for Monday and regular business hours) is report an emergency and several account info options (presumably automated responses). Report emergency has “report a gas leak” and several water/sewer related issues. Nothing about “you guys turned off my gas and I need it back on”. I ended up going with “report a gas leak” as the closest.

The young lady on the other end was very nice. Apparently a contractor hit the gas line (call before you dig!) which was why they had to turn off my gas. She apologized for the trouble and they are going to get someone out tonight. Took my number to call when the guy’s on his way.

Chances are, though, I’m not going to be able to go to tonight’s evening ice skating session.

I could live without the furnace for a couple of days. That wouldn’t bother me. But hot water? That was kind of important. It appears that I had enough hot water in the tank that I didn’t notice when I took my shower this morning. I may have had the spigot biased more toward the hot than usual, hard to say with its design, but there was enough for me to take my shower without getting chilled. And the back of the house is snug enough that internal temperature hadn’t dropped much.

What bothers me most about this is that I won’t get to do my evening skating session. That’s an hour and a half or exercise and practice that I won’t be able to make up. I had planned on a good six and a half hours total skating/training time this weekend but…not going to happen.

This is just…annoying.

Thought for the Day

Each of you (mostly, there are the occasional exceptions) have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell of your body. For each pair, you got one chromosome from your father and one from your mother. Have you ever considered what that actually means? How many possibilities there are for children from those two parents?

During Meiosis, there’s a stage where segments of chromosomes in a pair can be swapped, but let’s ignore that and just look at whole chromosomes.

For the first of those 23 pairs, doesn’t matter which one we count as first, any will do for this purpose. you could have the first of the pair from your mother (call that 1a) and the first from your father (1a) or the first from your mother (1a) and the second from your father (1b) or the second from your mother (1b) and the first from your father (1a) or the second from your mother (1b) and the second from your father (1b). Four possibilities: 1a1a, 1a1b, 1b1a, and 1b1b.

Now, looking at the second chromosome (again, any will do, just so long as it’s not the first one). For each of those first four, there are again four so: 1a1a2a2a, 1a1a2a2b, 1a1a2b2a, and so on. Sixteen possible children from just the first two chromosomes.

The third, produces four more possibilities for each of that sixteen for a total of 64 possible children. The fourth, four more for each of the 64 or 256. And so on, through 23 pairs of chromosomes.

The number of possible children from a single pair of parents, with 23 pairs of chromosomes each is 70,368,744,177,664.

More. Than. Seventy. Trillion. Possible. People.

Estimates of how many people have ever lived on the Earth, from the first time something recognizeable as Homo Sapiens walked the savannah of Africa to today is about 100 billion. The number of possible people, from a single pair of parents, is about seven hundred times that.

On top of that, official figures claim there are over seven billion people on the Earth today. That’s three and a half billion mother-father pairs, give or take. (Some folk won’t pair at all. Others will pair with more than one other individual.) Seventy trillion possible offspring from each of those three and a half billion pairs? That’s a simply staggering number. That’s nearly two hundred and fifty times as many possible people than all the stars in the visible universe.

And out of all of that, only one of you.

Socialism Means Central Control of the Means of Production

BREAKING NEWS, PASS THIS ON BY EVERY CHANNEL AVAILABLE TO YOU: Emails: Top Ukrainian Exec Asked Hunter How to ‘Use Your Influence’ on Burisma’s Behalf AND Facebook, Twitter ‘Reducing’ the Distribution of New York Post Story on Hunter Biden Emails (And by reducing the distribution, read “banning.”) Pass it on: email, phone, your blogs. Just pass it on. Show them they can’t silence AMERICANS!

Now onto the regular post.

Let us be clear on one thing. “Socialism” whatever form it takes: International, National, “Democratic”, “Market” (whatever that’s supposed to mean, but it was apparently a thing back in the 1940’s), whatever, cannot escape from the definition of socialism itself: an economic system where the economy is centrally planned and where the means of production are owned or controlled by the state. “Control” is the key element that makes it socialism. That is the core element of ownership. If one remains an owner “on paper” but the decisions about use are dictated by the state then it’s socialism. Because the real ownership is by those who make the decisions, whatever some piece of paper says about ownership.

Now, this is the important part. Tattoo it on your eyelids, add it as the welcome screen on your computer, whatever it takes to get you to learn it and remember it deep down in your gut:

YOU are a “means of production.” And that means that _you_ need to be “controlled/owned” by the state. You. Not just your neighbor. Not just “the wealthy”, the “1?”, “cishet white males”, or whatever other group you want to bring down. You.

In socialism, the state decides what use you will be put to. Not you, yourself, not the nice party leader in your neighborhood, some bureaucrat a thousand miles away who doesn’t know the first thing about you personally except as a number in his spreadsheet…and cares even less.

Totalitarianism isn’t the result of socialism gone wrong. It’s the very core of socialism, following from the simple fact that the most important means of production, the most important capital, that needs to be centrally controlled by the very definition of socialism, is human capital.

And human capital means you.

Fisking “Anti-Indigenous Things to Quit Saying/Doing”

BREAKING NEWS, PASS THIS ON BY EVERY CHANNEL AVAILABLE TO YOU: Emails: Top Ukrainian Exec Asked Hunter How to ‘Use Your Influence’ on Burisma’s Behalf AND Facebook, Twitter ‘Reducing’ the Distribution of New York Post Story on Hunter Biden Emails (And by reducing the distribution, read “banning.”) Pass it on: email, phone, your blogs. Just pass it on. Show them they can’t silence AMERICANS!

So there was this:

As usual, their text is Bold, my response is Italics.

“Stop saying ‘off the reservation’. It’s a reference to the pass system that was in place restricting Native people from leaving without permission.”

Actually, it was a reference to Natives arming up in groups and attacking folk.

“Stop making ‘1/16th, ‘great-great grandmother’, etc. jokes. All of these reference blood quantum, a system designed to ‘breed out the Natives’. Indigeneity isn’t defined by a percentage, fraction, etc. Quit policing Indigenous identities and quit joking about genocidal tactics.”

First off, citation needed on any kind of declared “system” to “breed out the Natives”. Second, percentages? My initial DNA tests declared that I was 2% sub-Saharan African. So do I get to declare myself African American? Did you look at my profile pic to determine if I could? Okay, later revision of the results removed that (and it seems that someone at 23&Me was just sticking that into people’s results to “mess with racists”, which itself calls into question the accuracy of results), but it still says 0.2% “broadly Western Asian & North African”, which would appear to be people of Arabic ancestry (derived from the Islamic conquest of those areas back in the Middle Ages). So, can I claim to be Arabic American or is that not a “quantum.”

Upshot is, who cares? I am me. These various background things that went into making me who I am are background. I am who I am. Tell the people… (Okay, Bible joke.)

Stop Calling things your “Spirit Animal.” You don’t have one. Only Indigenous people from specific nations have spirit animals.

Now this, right here, is highly insulting to my ancestors. My (Father’s side) Germanic/Norse forebears certainly had Totem (spirit) animals. Likewise, on my mother’s side, my Celtic forebears had an animistic religion where folk could share rapport with the spirits of animals.

Just because you are only familiar with American Indigene beliefs in spirit animals does not mean that that is all that there was.

Stop making dreamcatchers. They are sacred Anishinaabe culture and are not cute trinkets, crafts, etc. Buy them from Anishinaabe artists.

That’s nice. Shall we go into the many things that were sacred and cultural to my ancestors that have become trivialized in modern society? How about the Fighting Irish and their logo? All the iconography and trite decorations around St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe Oktoberfest? And maybe, just maybe, some of the practices centered around a little holiday known as Yule?

Since the dawn of time people have looked at things produced by other cultures and thought “hey, that’s neat” and made copies. Archaeologists trace contact between cultures by noting the spread of cultural styles–pottery, art, religious iconography, all sorts of things. This widening of cultural horizons is a good thing because insular cultures that neither adopt from others or are adopted by others tend to stagnate and die.

Stop buying those little cloth ‘teepees’ for your kids/pets/whatever. Also stuff with tipi prints.

See above about dreamcatchers. Same thing applies here. Also, note that conical tents with an opening at the top is not unique to American Indigenes (specifically to “Plains Indian” cultures). They don’t get to declare sole ownership of something that has been independently used by multiple societies.

And maybe you can pick a spelling? “Teepee” or “Tipi.”

Quit referring to your “tribe”. Enough with the “Bride tribe” nonsense and all the rest. Stop trivializing tribal affiliations.

“Tribe” is a word that existed long before the European encounters with American indigenes. That the word for groupings of related peoples was used for such groupings among indigenes does not give them exclusive ownership of the term.

Humans are tribal. It’s in our very nature. We divide into “tribes”. The wonder of Western Civilization is not how much tribalism remains, but that we’ve been able to overcome it to such an extent, or rather, that we have been able to expand so broadly as to what counts as “our tribe.” Indeed, the wonder of American civilization in particular is that we have been able to define our “tribe” in terms of a core set of beliefs–individual liberty, the supremacy of the individual over the state, self rule and self responsibility–which, of course, certain groups (and I’m pretty sure you are among them) are trying to undermine.

Same thing, by the way, with “chief.”

Don’t wear “War paint”. Don’t put a feather in your hair. Don’t dress up as Native people or characters.

And, again, American Indigenes aren’t the only ones who painted themselves for going into combat. Look up “woad” as one example. American Indigenes aren’t the only ones who wore feathers as hair ornaments. Feathers were common personal adornment through most of history for most of the world. American Indigenes do not get to claim sole ownership of these historically common things.

As for dressing up as Native people or characters, do you apply that to others? Do you object to Viking costumes? Leprechauns? Toga parties? Dressing up as a “jester” (parti-colored tunic and hose, which was actually a fairly common 13th and 14th century Century English dress)? How about that costume I saw of a pregnant nun? Is it your contention that only Native people are too weak to be able to deal with folk taking enough interest in them to actually dress, however imperfectly, like them, even if it’s deliberate mockery (see “pregnant nun”)? Or do you extend that to other POC’s as well? Is it only European people you consider strong enough to deal with people dressing up like their ancestors and cultural icons–even in deliberately mocking fashion (again see “pregnant nun” as one example).

Stop referring to your meetings/side discussions/parties as a “pow wow.”

Languages borrow words from other languages all the time. English is, at root, a Germanic language and yet something like 70% of its vocabulary derives from Latin (largely by way of medieval French, thanks to Duke William of Normandy) but also with Greek, Spanish, Slavic, and a host of other languages thrown in. Why should American Indigenes be excluded from the mix? Why single them out that words cannot be borrowed into English? The meaning changes from what the Natives used it for you say? You mean like “Sanguine” has shifted from “bloody”/”bloodthirsty” to “cheerfully optimistic”?

Languages have always borrowed from other languages, and shifted both meaning and pronunciation over time. That’s just the way language is. You might as well object to the river running out of Pittsburgh being called the “Ohio” which is a word “taken” from the Natives and mispronounced in the bargain “Oyo”.

Or perhaps you do.

Stop supporting sports teams that use racist terms and logos and caricatures of Indigenous people.

Sigh. Vikings. Patriots. Fighting Irish. Pirates. Buccaneers. Saints. 49ers. Brewers. Padres. Yankees. Canadians. Senators. Canucks. Golden Knights. Cavaliers. Warriors.

People don’t name sports teams after things they disrespect. When they name it after a group of people it’s because they represent courage, honor, and fighting spirit, or it’s about some kind of local connection. Sometimes that’s more about the mythology than the reality (“Pirates,” and “Buccaneers” for example) but the idea is there. And, yes, the imagery tends to be stereotypical to the point of caricature. That’s because the point is to be instantly recognizable. That doesn’t make it “racist”. It makes it effective. No real Viking would wear a helmet with grab handles on it and yet the Vikings logo has a horned helmet because that’s what people associate with Vikings. It’s not the sports team’s job to educate people in the true history and culture of Scandinavia but to give people a recognizable image to cheer for.

And I’ll simply note that it was an American Indigene who designed the former logo for the “Washington Sports Team.” It was white folk, like you, who demanded they get rid of it.

Which, then, were truly “anti-indigenous”?

If You Give a Man a Fish: A Blast from the Past

As we go into the election season, this seems relevant. Of the two major party candidates, one wants to make you wealthier in real terms, the other wants to impoverish you. They are not, however, the ones you might think they are (unless you know a thing or two about economics–something I try to address from time to time on this blog).

This is going to ramble a bit.  I ended up going a completely different direction from what I had in mind when I started.

If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, the old saw goes.  And if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

As someone who has come home empty handed often enough from a day of fishing, I’m not so sure it quite works that way, but it’s close enough to be a reasonable metaphor.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

The truth is, there are some people–not everyone, perhaps not even most, but some–who, if you provide them enough for even a basic living without their having to earn it, will accept that and make no attempt to improve their lot through their own efforts.  Oh, they may complain about how hard they have it, but that complaint doesn’t motivate them to go work their way out of their situation.  If anything, it’s intended to influence you to provide more of that “basic living” they’re not having to work for.

This is not to say that there aren’t people who legitimately cannot provide for themselves but how often is that really the case?

The problem is two-fold.  Three-fold, actually.  The first is the “making them easy in poverty”.  Yeah, I can hear the howls now of how hard the poor have it.  Want to try again?  I grew up with an outhouse–having to go outside in the dead of winter to an unheated, drafty wooden building to do my business through a hole in a board.  A wood stove heated the kitchen.  Steam radiators heated the rest of the house.  Air conditioning?  What’s that?  I packed sandwiches for my lunch at school because we couldn’t afford the hot lunch.  We did have electricity–when it worked.  And we weren’t even particularly poor.  So, please, tell me again how “hard” most of the “poor” in the US have it today.   I can use the laugh.

And, no, I don’t begrudge the poor having a better life than I did.  That’s progress.  But, dammit, is it too much to ask that they appreciate what they have?  Apparently so.  Somebody else has more and that’s just too much to bear.

The second and thirds problems are closely related.  The second is that sometimes you just have more people than jobs, at least jobs that one could make a living at.  And the third is mismatch of skills required for the jobs available and skills people seeking work possess.  It doesn’t matter how great a typist you are if the job requires a welder.

So what to do?

First thing, impose the old dictate “if any of you would not work, neither shall he eat.” (And before you start “but what about…” note that word “would”.  It’s a matter of will, not ability.  If a person truly is incapable of doing anything of value that would qualify as work, then that’s a separate story.  But how many of those are there really?)

Personally, I’d like to see government welfare done away with entirely and let helping those who can’t work, or those who’ve temporarily fallen on hard times, devolve to private, mostly local charities.  I realize that such changes do not happen in an instant without causing their own problems.  Still, there’s a lot that can be done to move in that direction and the most important is a work requirement for anybody drawing any kind of government assistance.  Take away the incentive not to work to get off welfare.  You can work for your government assistance or you can work for your own money, but you’re going to work.

A related issue is that even for a person who, for whatever reason got on government assistance and now wants to get off it, can find the prospect daunting.  You find a job that pays more than that welfare check, well, and good, but now you also lose SNAP, oh, and while before you could stay home with the children, now you need to find daycare.  That costs money.  You’re actually worse off than you started.  Another perverse incentive.  Some people will push through that anyway but not everyone will.  And if our goal is to get people off welfare and on their own feet then shouldn’t the incentives work that way?  Say, reduce their total benefits from all sources one dollar for every two dollars they earn?

But in addition to removing the incentives for people to remain on welfare, we need the other side:  to make sure that there are jobs for them to take.  And to do that there’s one thing that so many people have trouble wrapping their heads around.

We.  Need.  A.  Political.  Climate.  Favorable.  To.  Business.

Whether it’s small businesses and people employing themselves, or big businesses employing thousands or even in some cases millions, businesses provide jobs.  Politicians do not provide jobs.  Governments do not provide jobs (except the jobs of government).  Businesses provide jobs.  And basic laws of economics apply.  If you make it more expensive for businesses to hire people, they will hire fewer people, or they will go where it isn’t so expensive (like, say, overseas).  If you cut off their ability to go where it isn’t so expensive, then foreign firms will take advantage of that opportunity to undercut our own businesses.  If you try to use tariffs or other trade restrictions to try to penalize the foreign companies in favor of our own, then they respond in kind and, again, our people suffer.

“But, but…big Megacorporation makes billions in profits!” And has trillions in sales.  The profits are a small fraction of the total amount of the business.  Most of that money goes to people working for the company, or people working for suppliers to the company.  Oh, and much of that profit is paid out to things like pension funds and retirement accounts that invest in things like big Megacorporation, not just to millionaires and billionaires.

“But, but…CEO compensation!” Do the math.  A company has one CEO.  Big ones, the ones where people complain about CEO compensation, employ hundreds of thousands to millions of people.  What the CEO makes is a drop in the bucket compared to the total labor costs.

For any large company, labor costs are their biggest expense.  Increase the cost of hiring people and they hire fewer people.  That’s not just Economics 101.  That falls right out of the first day‘s lecture in Economics 101.  Practically the second thing taught (right after “wants are unlimited, resources at any given time are limited, so it’s not possible for everyone to get everything they want”):  increase the cost of “buying” something and people buy less of it.

Now labor costs are at least something that produces value to the company.  So long as the value of the labor is higher than the cost of the labor it’s possible to come to an agreement.  But there’s another factor, the regulatory cost.  Almost a quarter of our economy is eaten up in regulatory costs.  If those costs were the GDP of a country, it would be larger than Germany’s.  That’s four trillion dollars spent making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed.

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations had the great insight that the wealth of a nation was not in specie, in gold, silver, and precious gems, it was not in paper money, and if he’d had to foresight to predict the modern age he would certainly have said it was not in electronic banking records.  It was in the amount of goods and services available to a nation.  It is not the money in my wallet and my bank account that is my wealth (such as it is).  It’s what that money can buy.  Produce and trade for more goods and services and you are wealthier as a nation, and the people within the nation are wealthier.

And everyone, rich and poor alike, benefits.  That cheap “prepaid minutes” smartphone you can pick up for $50 at Walmart?  A portable phone alone would have been a mark of wealth and prestige just 30 years ago–and one so small, unheard of.  And one with more computing power than supercomputers of the day?  With instant access to a wealth (note that word.  It has meaning) of music, movies and TV shows, to more information than all the libraries in the world held then?   How many millions would somebody have paid for that capability back then?

And it’s cheap.  A device that the wealthy of a generation past would have mortgaged their first three children for and it’s cheap.

You want to teach people to fish?  Economic growth.  And we’re wasting 25%  of our GDP not on developing and growing the economy but on regulatory burden.  Is some regulatory oversight necessary?  Probably.  But 25% of our economy?  That’s resources that could be used to make life better for all of us, frittered away on some government bureaucrats.

Goth on Ice: By George I Think He’s Got It.

The technique I’ve wanted really, really badly to successfully master is the Backward Crossover. I simply think it’s the most elegant and beautiful technique taught in the entire basic and adult progressions. Well, the two foot and one foot spins might compete for that position, but for my money a well-done backward crossover is just pure magic.

You can see how far I’ve come in the video above. I can’t say I’ve mastered it exactly, but I seem to have the basics nailed down.

My Three-turn (specifically forward outside three-turn), however? That’s a whole other ballgame and a frustrating one at that.

During class after this practice session, my instructor made several suggestions how I could improve. The first was to keep the non-gliding foot behind the gliding foot in a “T” (not on the ice, of course, otherwise you’re braking) and keeping that knee turned outward. The second was, once I switched arms from the position for a forward outside edge to that for the turn, I should have both arms up, about shoulder height and not let either one droop. This helps enforce a body posture that helps keep your balance coming out. Finally, he said once switching the arms to hold that position and glide a bit before turning. The turn should be totally the lower body, the upper body is already in place for coming out of the turn. This latter one is also part of my problem with the two-foot-turn back to front (seen in my stumbling direction changes in the backward crossover video).

You can see in the video that the closer I get to getting those elements right, the better the turn works.

Other things my instructor has me working on are my forward outside edges, forward inside edges and backward outside edges as formal figure skating techniques. I am making progress, slowly but surely in those. Right now, as I showed in earlier videos, I’m still just riding the backward edges around and holding them as long as I can. When I reach the point where I can consistently ride the backward edge in a half circle, I’ll start worrying about the arm switching and other things to continue in an “S” curve.

One more technique the instructor introduced me to last week was the forward inside Mohawk turn. The three-turn stays on the same foot but changes direction and changes edge–you start with a left forward outside edge, an end up in a left backward inside edge. For the Mohawk, you change direction, change foot, and keep the same edge. So you start with, a right forward inside edge and end up in a left backward inside edge. It works something like this:

In class I brought up the subject of the Learn to Skate USA “Adult” level progression. I noted it seemed geared more toward recreational skating and not actual figure skating–there are things not covered in the adult level progression that serve as foundational skills for figure skating: back to front two-foot-turn, and a variety of other techniques (described previously). The techniques included in adult that aren’t included in basic (for the young people) appear to be ice dancing moves: Swing rolls and outside to inside changes of edge on a line.

I told my instructor that I intend to continue in figure skating as long as I am physically able. He was quite pleased about that and said that he did try to work those other techniques in when working with adults.

All in all, nice little milestone met and progress made in other things.