Wokeness is a made-up mystery religion that college-educated people invented so they could feel superior to you

March 1st, 2021

Trump stood against the upper class, Scott Alexander argues:

He might define them as: people who live in nice apartments in Manhattan or SF or DC and laugh under their breath if anybody comes from Akron or Tampa. Who eat Thai food and Ethiopian food and anything fusion, think they would gain 200 lbs if they ever stepped in a McDonalds, and won’t even speak the name Chick-Fil-A. Who usually go to Ivy League colleges, though Amherst or Berkeley is acceptable if absolutely necessary. Who conspicuously love Broadway (especially Hamilton), LGBT, education, “expertise”, mass transit, and foreign anything. They conspicuously hate NASCAR, wrestling, football, “fast food”, SUVs, FOX, guns, the South, evangelicals, and reality TV. Who would never get married before age 25 and have cutesy pins about how cats are better than children. Who get jobs in journalism, academia, government, consulting, or anything else with no time-card where you never have to use your hands. Who all have exactly the same political and aesthetic opinions on everything, and think the noblest and most important task imaginable is to gatekeep information in ways that force everyone else to share those opinions too.

He proposes a Republican platform centered around fighting classism:

War On College: As it currently exists, college is a scheme for laundering and perpetuating class advantage. You need to make the case that bogus degree requirements (eg someone without a college degree can’t be a sales manager at X big company, but somebody with any degree, even Art History or Literature, can) are blatantly classist.

War On Experts: Argue that you love and support legitimate experts, but that the Democrats have invented and propped up a fake concept of expertise as a way of making sure upper-class people who can game admissions to top colleges control the discourse.

War On The Upper-Class Media: This is your new term for “mainstream media”. Being against the “mainstream media” sounds kind of conspiratorial. Instead, you’re against the upper-class media, which gains its status by systematically excluding lower-class voices, and which exists mostly as a tool of the upper classes to mock and humiliate the lower class.

War On Wokeness: But now it’s because wokeness is a made-up mystery religion that college-educated people invented so they could feel superior to you.

During the American Civil War they would have been shot

March 1st, 2021

One night, as the temperature dropped to near zero, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), a lieutenant called Busbey’s command post:

“Captain, I have a fully armed NKPA here who has turned himself in —”

Quite a few North Koreans, from time to time, when they could slip past their officers, came voluntarily into U.N. lines. This was nothing new.

But Sadler continued. “He surrendered to the tanks back of me —”

“By God, I hadn’t thought of that — I don’t know, Captain.”

“Well, think about it!” Busbey told him, hanging up.

Sadler roused his platoon sergeant, Trexler, and they got a ROK to query the enemy soldier. He had walked down the road in the valley — right through an area where Sadler had two standing patrols, two foxholes containing three men, with absolute orders that one man remain awake at all times. Sadler and Trexler looked at each other, and went out into the night.

Jack Sadler went up one side of the trail. Trexler the other. On both sides they found all men zipped up in their bags, sound asleep.

If the Inmun Gun had probed that night, they could have walked to Seoul for the weekend, as Busbey said.

After listening to the lame, stumbling stories, Busbey, furious, preferred charges against four enlisted men.

And two night later, while the four were awaiting trial, the NKPA attacked down through the same valley. The outposts were alert; they were repulsed at the main line.

A 76mm artillery round killed Sergeant Trexler, however; and the Division Judge Advocate General said he would have to drop the case against the two men Trexler had caught sleeping on outpost — there was now no witness against them. The two were released.

But the remaining two, with Sadler’s testimony, were convicted by a general court-martial at Division HQ. Each was given ten years at hard labor, and dishonorable discharge.

Because of their stupidity, and their lack of responsibility, hundreds of their comrades might have died. During the American Civil War they would have been shot.

The verdict was reversed:

But inevitably, sooner or later, a people will get the kind of justice and military service they deserve.

The instructor who tasked this assignment will look at you funny

February 28th, 2021

In The Targeter, Nada Bakos explains that she had to take the CIA’s 16-week CAP (Career Analyst Program) course when she switched over to an Analyst role — but she and some of the others who weren’t new to the Agency had trouble taking it seriously:

We also made up our own fake assignment on official letterhead, then dropped it into the bowl from which class teams drew their morning exercises.

The first one read: “A leading radical Islamic cleric is being recruited by the CIA.” Then came the pièce de résistance: “Write a bottom-line assessment of his value to the Agency. Then fold the paper three times, walk to the room with the instructors, stop at their table, and pull on your ear. The instructor who tasked this assignment will look at you funny. Hand said instructor the paper; he will confirm receipt by saying, ‘What’s this?’ To complete the exercise, wink at him and respond, ‘My phone number.’” Soon enough, we watched another analyst fold his paper three times and march straight out of the classroom.

We laughed hysterically — which is how the poor analyst knew whom to yell at when he came back four minutes later looking ready to break things.

We’ve gotten so good at preventing so many diseases, there’s been a loss of knowledge and a loss of experience

February 27th, 2021

In our quest for perfect solutions to the current pandemic, we’d forgotten an extremely obvious and simple one — fresh air:

A colleague joked, at one point, that things would have gone better in the pandemic if we still believed in miasma theory.

Miasma theory — discredited, of course, by the rise of germ theory — held that disease came from “bad air” emanating from decomposing matter and filth. This idea peaked in the 19th century, when doctors, architects, and one particularly influential nurse, Florence Nightingale, became fixated on ventilation’s importance for health. It manifested in the physical layout of buildings: windows, many of them, but also towers erected for the sole purpose of ventilation and elaborate ductwork to move contaminated air outdoors. Historic buildings still bear the vestigial mark of these public-health strategies, long after the scientific thinking has moved on.

The obsession with ventilation — and miasma theory in general — was indeed wrong when it came to pathogens such as cholera and yellow fever that we now know spread through other means (water and mosquitoes, respectively). But it did make sense for the diseases that invisibly stalked people through 19th-century air: measles, tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza — all much diminished as threats in the 21st century. “We’ve gotten so good at preventing so many diseases, there’s been a loss of knowledge and a loss of experience,” Jeanne Kisacky, the author of Rise of the Modern Hospital, says. Science is not a simple linear march toward progress; it also forgets.

Today, amid a pandemic caused by a novel airborne virus, these old ideas about ventilation are returning. But getting enough schools and businesses on board has been difficult. Fixing the air inside modern buildings, where many windows don’t or barely open, means fighting against the very nature of hermetically sealed modern buildings. They were not built to deal with airborne threats. Nineteenth-century hospitals were.

That era saw the rise of well-ventilated “Nightingale pavilions,” named after Florence Nightingale, who popularized the design in her 1859 book, Notes on Hospitals. As a nurse in the Crimean War, she saw 10 times more soldiers die of disease than of battle wounds. Nightingale began a massive hygiene campaign in the overcrowded hospitals, and she collected statistics, which she presented in pioneering infographics. Chief among her concerns was air. Notes even laid out exact proportions for 20-patient pavilions that could allow 1,600 cubic feet of air per bed.

Each pavilion was a separate wing, radiating from a central corridor. And it had large windows that faced each other, which allowed a cross breeze to blow between the beds. The windows stayed open no matter the weather. There were stories, Kisacky told me, of hospitals in winter where “the patients are closing the windows, and the nurses are opening them. And the doctors come and knock the glass out to make sure they stay open.” In some pavilions, a central fireplace heated the room, so that contaminated air rose out of the ward via the chimney effect.

It was a weird war now

February 27th, 2021

T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) tells the story of a company given the mission of covering the valley beyond Heartbreak Ridge:

By day Busbey could cover the valley by fire, but at night it was a matter of setting up ambush patrols near the stream and on the fingers of the covering ridge to prevent the enemy from mining the valley floor and stream bed.

[...]

Several of his men with a light machine gun manned by an assistant gunner who had never fired in combat were sitting close by the stream. They heard the stealthy noises of approaching men, and through the dark were able to make out a mining patrol, 2 NKPA officers, and half a dozen enlisted men carrying AT mines.

“Wait till they’re closer,” the machine gunner whispered.

To fully load a round into the chamber of a light machine gun, the bolt must be pulled to the rear and released twice. The assistant gunner, who had pulled the bolt back once, thought the gun full loaded — until the pressure on the trigger produced only a terrifyingly loud click.

By the time the patrol figured out what was wrong, the North Koreans were six feet away. The first shot tore off the top of an NKPA lieutenant’s head. Swiveling the gun rapidly, the blond young man who had waited just a bit longer than he had intended cut down all of the surprised unfortunates before they could escape.

Next morning Major General Claude Ferenbaugh, the division commander, who visited front positions regularly, was shown the stiff and blasted Korean corpses. “By God,” Ferenbaugh said, “I get these reports all the time, but this is the first time anyone has had the bodies to prove it!”

He decorated the blond gunner before he left.

Now there was no offensive action taken against the enemy — but an army could not sit still. It had to patrol, even as the enemy had to patrol, to keep contact, to see what the other side was doing, and to attempt to keep the other side honest.

It was this patrol action, this continual flirting with danger and death, for reasons many of the enlisted men thought flimsy, that soldiers all across the Eighth Army’s line came to hate. But there was no help for it.

And while the front was still, except for patrols, there was the shelling. The enemy, who had to bring his precious ammunition under air attack over many miles, did not care to waste it. But he was not loath to shoot it, if he had a target.

One of Busbey’s platoon leaders, Jack Sadler, was restive at the inactivity. “How about letting me snipe at them over there with my 75mm recoilless?”

“Hell, you’ll make ’em mad, Jack,” Busbey told him.

“Aw, just one round, anyway —”

Sadler fired one round at the enemy lines, with indeterminate effect.

Then, immediately, the enemy shelled his platoon, heavily. Two of Sadler’s men were killed — and forever afterward Sadler held himself responsible. After that, a sort of gentlemen’s agreement held — each side left the other alone during the day.

It was a weird war now, not so dangerous, but more frustrating than ever.

Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger

February 26th, 2021

Ernest Shackleton famously ran this ad in the newspaper to recruit men for his Endurance expedition:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.

Only no one has ever found a copy of Shackleton’s ad, which was “reprinted” in The 100 Greatest Advertisements: 1852-1958 in 1949.

That apocryphal ad might have inspired Robert Heinlein to include this ad in Glory Road:

ARE YOU A COWARD? This is not for you. We badly need a brave man. He must be 23 to 25 years old, in perfect health, at least six feet tall, weigh about 190 pounds, fluent English with some French, proficient with all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure. Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger. You must apply in person, 17, rue Dante, Nice, 2me étage, appt. D.

That’s a real address, by the way:

Fight the war, but don’t get anyone killed

February 25th, 2021

The losses at Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak, and elsewhere had some result, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

On 22 October the enemy offered to meet in full plenary session once again, and to accept the U.N. preferred site of Panmunjom for future discussions.

[...]

What the enemy wanted was to fix the armistice line irrevocably before the remainder of the agenda was solved. This, of course, would effectively relieve the Communist powers of any further military pressure while the negotiations continued; the United Nations Command could hardly launch an offensive for ground it had already agreed to relinquish.

It would enable the Communists, as Admiral Joy saw and mentioned, to talk forever if they chose, with freedom from the grinding pressure they had been experiencing at Bloody and Heartbreak ridges.

[...]

The limited attacks of the Eighth Army during August, September, and October 1951 had unquestionably improved its military stance, and had unquestionably inflicted deep wounds on the enemy forces.

But as Boatner said, “Everybody was sick to death of the casualties.”

Men die to make others free, or to protect their homeland. They do not willingly die for a piece of real estate ten thousand miles from home, which they know their government will eventually surrender. Nor do the generals appointed over them, nor the governments they elect, willingly spend them so.

[...]

Now field commanders writhed under a new restriction: Fight the war, but don’t get anyone killed. Such orders were never issued — but they were clearly understood.

[...]

The Communists had a great part of what they had wanted from the first hour they had requested peace talks. They had dissipated the danger of a U.N. march to the Yalu, or a disastrous defeat in the field.

[...]

At the end of thirty days the enemy was no nearer signing the armistice than he had been in July. He now felt free to delay as long as he pleased, and it was soon apparent he intended to do so, reaping whatever propaganda coups he could.

[...]

It was now, not openly, but in mess tents and private gatherings along the brooding lines of entrenchments, that some men began to say, “MacArthur was right.”

Instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is

February 24th, 2021

Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road is chock-full of Heinlein-isms— plus dueling scars and methane-burning dragons — but one passage stands out for stating his theme outright:

I wanted a Roc’s egg. I wanted a harem loaded with lovely odalisques less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels, the rust that never stained my sword. I wanted raw red gold in nuggets the size of your fist and feed that lousy claim jumper to the huskies! I wanted to get up feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a likely wench for my droit du seigneur — I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles.

I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.

I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be—instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.

The Roc is the giant bird from Arabian Nights. Odalisque is a word I don’t see often; it means concubine. The only reference to a Nancy Lee that I could find was to a comic song, The Wreck of the Nancy Lee:

I’ll tell you the tale of the Nancy Lee,
The ship that got shipwrecked at sea
The bravest man was Captain Brown,
‘Cause he played his ukulele as the ship went down.

Chorus:
All the crew was in despair,
Some rushed here and some rushed there,
But the Captain sat in the Captain’s chair,
And he played his ukulele as the ship went down.

The Captain said to Seaman Jones:
“You’d best put on your working clothes
While you stand and spray your hose
I can play me ukulele as the ship goes down.”

The owners signalled to the crew, saying:
“Do the best that you can do.
We’re only insured for half-a-crown,
We’ll be out of pocket if the ship goes down.”

The Captain’s wife was on board ship,
And he was very glad of it
But she could swim and she might not drown
So we tied her to the anchor as the ship went down.

The crow’s nest fell and killed the crow,
The starboard watch was two hours slow
But the Captain sang fal-oh-de-oh-doh
And he played his ukulele as the ship went down.

Barsoom is, of course, the fanciful Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories. Poictesme and its capital Storisende serve as the setting for James Branch Cabell‘s Biography of the Life of Manuel.

The Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin come from Huck Finn.

Prester John is the legendary Nestorian patriarch and king who was said to rule over a Christian nation lost amid the pagans and Muslims in the Orient.

Ulysses needs no introduction, but Tros of Samothrace was new to me:

The novel concerns the courageous adventures of the title character (a Greek from Samothrace) as he helps pre-Roman Britons fight the invading forces of Julius Caesar. Over the course of the novel, Tros travels from Britain to Spain, and finally the city of Rome itself.

The author, Talbot Mundy, dedicated Tros of Samothrace to his friend Rose Wilder Lane, who had funded its book publication, and Fritz Leiber was a fan.

The United Nations did not want military victory

February 23rd, 2021

A new pattern, the one that would characterize most of the following hill battles, was being set on Heartbreak Ridge, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

On the disputed terrain, generally a small area, the fighting was hell itself. Artillery fire such as the world had never seen was massed against single hills, day after day. Because of the limitation of the fighting area, units were committed piecemeal, and the committed units were generally quickly cut to pieces, and replaced.

A few miles to either side of the disputed hill, the front lay quiet and brooding, without more than routine activity. And behind regimental headquarters, few men even knew there was a war on.

Action of this kind was contrary to all American military doctrine. The solution to success on Heartbreak, as later on Baldy, Pork Chop, Arrowhead, T-Bone, and a dozen others, would have been to hit the enemy elsewhere, knock him off balance in a dozen places, punch through.

But the United Nations Command had no authority to put massive pressure on the enemy along the whole line. They had no authority to reopen the wholesale fighting; the United Nations did not want military victory; they wanted truce.

And the enemy was perfectly willing to fight to the death over a small piece of ground, seemingly forever. The fought-over hills assumed propaganda and political values out of all proportion to their military worth.

Nobody knows where it comes from but it can’t be ignored

February 22nd, 2021

When I read a friend’s copy of Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road back in high school, only a couple things stuck with me: (1) dueling scars, and (2) methane-burning dragons. When I recently re-read it, it was chock-full of Heinlein-isms. Here’s what jumped out at me in the first few dozen pages:

It was an election year with the customary theme of anything you can do I can do better, to a background of beeping sputniks. I was twenty-one but couldn’t figure out which party to vote against.

I object to conscription the way a lobster objects to boiling water: it may be his finest hour but it’s not his choice.

Nevertheless I love my country. Yes, I do, despite propaganda all through school about how patriotism is obsolete. One of my great-grandfathers died at Gettysburg and my father made that long walk back from Inchon Reservoir, so I didn’t buy this new idea. I argued against it in class—until it got me a “D” in Social Studies, then I shut up and passed the course.

After you’ve spent years and years trying to knock the patriotism out of a boy, don’t expect him to cheer when he gets a notice reading: Greeting: You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States—

Sure, they had Hitler and the Depression ahead of them. But they didn’t know that. We had Khrushchev and the H-bomb and we certainly did know. But we were not a “Lost Generation.” We were worse; we were the “Safe Generation.”

Oh, we talked beatnik jive and dug cool sounds in stereo and disagreed with Playboy’s poll of jazz musicians just as earnestly as if it mattered. We read Salinger and Kerouac and used language that shocked our parents and dressed (sometimes) in beatnik fashion. But we didn’t think that bongo drums and a beard compared with money in the bank. We weren’t rebels. We were as conformist as army worms. “Security” was our unspoken watchword.

Short of a pregnant wife with well-to-do parents the greatest security lay in being 4-F. Punctured eardrums were good but an allergy was best. One of my neighbors had a terrible asthma that lasted till his twenty-sixth birthday. No fake—he was allergic to draft boards.

More than half of my generation were “unfit for military service.”

I was no better off financially as my uncle-in-law was supporting a first wife—under California law much like being an Alabama field hand before the Civil War.

Ever been in Southeast Asia? It makes Florida look like a desert. Wherever you step it squishes. Instead of tractors they use water buffaloes. The bushes are filled with insects and natives who shoot at you. It wasn’t a war—not even a “Police Action.” We were “Military Advisers.” But a Military Adviser who has been dead four days in that heat smells the same way a corpse does in a real war.

I was promoted to corporal. I was promoted seven times. To corporal.

Military policy is like cancer: Nobody knows where it comes from but it can’t be ignored.

In Asia every cab driver speaks enough English to take you to the Red Light district and to shops where you buy “bargains.” But he is never able to find your dock or boat landing.

Do you know how much tax a bachelor pays on $140,000 in the Land of the Brave and the Home of the Fee? $103,000, that’s what he pays.

I wouldn’t be “cheating” Uncle Sugar; the USA had no more moral claim on that money (if I won) than I had on the Holy Roman Empire. What had Uncle Sugar done for me? He had clobbered my father’s life with two wars, one of which we weren’t allowed to win—and thereby made it tough for me to get through college quite aside from what a father may be worth in spiritual intangibles to his son (I didn’t know, I never would know!)—then he had grabbed me out of college and had sent me to fight another unWar and damned near killed me and lost me my sweet girlish laughter.

About then I made a horrible discovery. I didn’t want to go back to school, win, lose, or draw. I no longer gave a damn about three-car garages and swimming pools, nor any other status symbol or “security.” There was no security in this world and only damn fools and mice thought there could be.

Somewhere back in the jungle I had shucked off all ambition of that sort. I had been shot at too many times and had lost interest in supermarkets and exurban subdivisions and tonight is the PTA supper don’t forget dear you promised.

They never quite understood why they were taken

February 21st, 2021

The Judge Advocate General had ruled, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), that any man who had once held a commission, whether he had kept it active or not, could be legally recalled to fight in Korea:

And the Pentagon, when the Chinese poured across the Yalu, had made an incalculable error, one that would damage the Army Reserve Program for a decade. Never certain that a big war would not start any minute, the Pentagon called, not the officers and men in Table of Organization units, receiving pay and training, but the bulk of the inactive reservists, men who had received neither, and whose interest was less. The inactive individuals could be called up for fillers; the units were kept in reserve for a bigger war, which never came.

Most of the forty thousand Reserve officers recalled involuntarily and sent to Korea had never expected service short of all-out war. They never quite understood why they were taken, when hundreds of thousands of National Guardsmen and others, organized in units, were kept at home.

[...]

Hundreds of thousands of officers and men were sent as individual replacements. They arrived in their new divisions friendless and alone. Most of them never developed any feeling for a division in which they had not trained, in which they merely put in their time, until they could rotate out once more, again as individuals.

There have been few reunions of veterans of the Korean War.

And there was a final tragedy, affecting many of the recallees. Reserve officers, recalled from jobs and businesses for two years, on top of the loss of time during 1941–1945, often had no career to return to. Many elected to remain in the Army. But when Korea ended, and Washington, determined once again never to fight a ground war, shrank the Army back below a million men, the Army had no place for these men.

Thousands would have to return to civilian life, short of qualifying for pensions, to seek new jobs after the age of thirty-five or forty.

The head is mostly teeth

February 20th, 2021

I recently mentioned that Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road introduced me to Germany’s tradition of fencing in order to earn a dueling scar. The other tidbit that stuck with me from this book was his science-fiction version of that fantasy staple, the dragon:

Of course these aren’t dragons. No, they are uglier. They are saurians, more like Tyrannosaurus rex than anything else — big hindquarters and heavy hind legs, heavy tail, and smaller front legs that they use either in walking or to grasp their prey. The head is mostly teeth. They are omnivores whereas I understand that T. rex ate only meat. This is no help; the dragons eat meat when they can get it, they prefer it. Furthermore, these not-so-fake dragons have evolved that charming trick of burning their own sewer gas. But no evolutionary quirk can be considered odd if you use the way octopi make love as a comparison.

[...]

“They don’t exactly breathe fire. That would kill them. They hold their breaths while flaming. It’s swamp gas — methane — from the digestive tract. It’s a controlled belch, with a hypergolic effect from an enzyme secreted between the first and second rows of teeth. The gas bursts into flame on the way out.”

[...]

There are only four places to put an arrow into a Nevian dragon; the rest is armored like a rhino only heavier. Those four are his mouth (when open), his eyes (a difficult shot; they are little and piggish), and that spot right under his tail where almost any animal is vulnerable.

[...]

The dragon was weaving its head back and forth and I was trying to weave the other way, so as not to be lined up if it turned on the flame — when suddenly I got my first blast of methane, whiffing it before it lighted, and retreated so fast that I backed into that baby I had stepped on before, went clear over it, landed on my shoulders and rolled, and that saved me.

I doubt I caught this the first time I read the book, but this time I immediately noted that methane is a colorless, odorless gas:

The familiar smell of natural gas as used in homes is achieved by the addition of an odorant, usually blends containing tert-butylthiol, as a safety measure.

I suspect someone caught this detail in one of his early drafts, because Heinlein addresses it:

The reason that I backed away in time was halitosis. It says here that “pure methane is a colorless, odorless gas.” This G.I.-tract methane wasn’t pure; it was so loaded with homemade ketones and aldehydes that it made an unlimed outhouse smell like Shalimar.

[...]

A proper dragon, with castles and captive princesses, has as much fire as it needs, like six-shooters in TV oaters. But these creatures fermented their own methane and couldn’t have too big a reserve tank nor under too high pressure — I hoped. If we could nag one into using all its ammo fast, there was bound to be a lag before it recharged.

I had heard the western genre referred to as horse opera before, but oater was new to me.

The world’s first successfully cloned Black-footed ferret has been born

February 19th, 2021

The world’s first successfully cloned Black-footed ferret has been born, marking the first time a U.S. endangered species has been cloned:

“Elizabeth Ann” was born on December 10, 2020, and is the clone of “Willa,” a wild-caught Black-footed ferret whose cell line was cryopreserved in 1988. A genomic study led, funded, and developed by Revive & Restore in 2014 helped determine that Willa’s genome possessed nearly three times more genetic diversity than the current Black-footed ferret population. This means that her clone Elizabeth Ann is now the most genetically valuable Black-footed ferret alive. This birth is the result of a long-standing genetic rescue effort for the Black-footed ferret species, the goal of which is to increase the genetic diversity and fitness of one of America’s most endangered species to help ensure its full recovery in the wild.

The social problems, of course, were not solved

February 19th, 2021

There had been continual difficulty with the all-Negro units sent into Korea, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

The problem is not one of race or color, but of a minority group, anywhere, which has had much of its essential pride as human beings stripped from it. The strongest urge of any minority group, Armenians, French-Canadians, or Untouchables, is to survive. They have no other effective way of fighting.

The old jokes about the military courage of certain minority groups has some basis in fact. Turks joke about the fighting ability of Turkish Christians. The indigenous Christians that Turks know are submerged, wily folk, sharp with money, slyly sticking together against the Moslem world, absolutely uninterested in going out to fight and die for the Turkish State. They see absolutely nothing to be gained by it — nor is there.

A diplomat from Istanbul, several centuries ago, remarked it was odd that Franks in the Western kingdoms were much more like Turks than like Christians. If this Turkish gentleman had visited the medieval ghettos, he might have begun to understand.

Jews in Eastern Europe often went to the gas chambers without a protest, without lifting a hand. The young men of the same human stock raised in Israel are among the toughest, hardiest folk in the world.

[...]

The Columbia professor, and others, discussed practical means of ending the Army’s trouble. They saw only one solution: desegregation.

In front of white men, the sociologists claimed, colored soldiers would feel an urge to prove themselves, and have a chance to develop pride they could never achieve in a segregated unit. They recommended one per squad, or two, no more — because the tendencies of the persecuted are to group together against the world.

[...]

And the United States Army’s combat problem with colored troops was largely ended. Filtered through the white units, they did well. Three weeks after its fiasco on Bloody Ridge, 3/9 performed with excellence.

The social problems, of course, were not solved. A solution to these can be anticipated only when all men look alike, hold the same views, or are so apathetic that it no longer matters.

The establishment media believes that it is the world’s noble and benevolent arbiter of truth

February 18th, 2021

Fredrik deBoer Describes the recent New York Times hit piece on Scott Alexander and his blog SlateStarCodex as an expression of a constant dynamic in media and the Times in particular:

[T]he establishment media believes that it is the world’s noble and benevolent arbiter of truth, and the kind of people who work for the Times are immensely disdainful of and actively hostile to anyone who seeks to inform or persuade the public who does not write for one of a dozen dusty legacy publications and who did not go to one of 20 or so elite colleges. Scott Alexander built up a large and immensely influential readership completely on his own, writing a blog that, whatever its faults, stepped far outside of the narrow and parochial currents that Very Serious Media refuses to leave. This was a threat, a challenge to people like Cade Metz who think that it is their divine right to be the ones to tell the story. So Metz set out to destroy Alexander, with the full backing of the official paper of crossword addicts and columns about bootstraps and dynamism. I’m sure a lot of ink has been spilled about this story, and more will come. Understand: Cade Metz wrote this story because he had to punish Alexander for writing an influential publication with no backing from the important people. Whatever anyone else says, that is the reality.