Friday, June 30, 2017


Popes, saints, and sages have written about bees. I found an affectionate 1948 address by Pope Pius XII to the apiarists of Italy, but my favorite bee quote (so far) is Shakespeare's description of them (in Henry V, Act 1, Scene 2) as "singing masons building roofs of gold." That's not just an evocative line, either -- it's one of more than 20 lines that a character (in this case, the Archbishop of Canterbury) uses to describe bee society while offering geopolitical advice to King Henry V.

Summer bees make me feel fine...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Now watching weasels...

I've long admired the blogging collective that started as "weasel watchers" and became the brain trust behind WoW magazine, so it was an honor to be asked to join them recently. I've accepted that invitation. The WoW gig won't change the focus of this blog, but it does mean that if you read my musings, you won't have to trawl through links in the sidebar to find more good stuff, because I'll feature that content front-and-center. Here, for example, is the current harvest of tasty and thought-provoking commentary from other bloggers in the merry band:

Watcher of Weasels
Another Win – Trump and India PM Modi Speak At The White House   Michael Brown: Eternal Martyr  Julian Assange: "Why The Democrat Party Is Doomed"   Collins, Rubio Help Muslims Pass Senate Resolution 118 to Criminalize Free Speech   Forum: What Is Your Reaction To The Special Elections   The Actual War On Women, Part 1   Whadd’ya Know…Illinois is Bankrupt!  Answers to my questions about America’s opioid crisis   The Secret behind Amazon’s New Bestseller On Palestinian History  The Democrat party is hamstrung because it can’t tell the truth about itself  ReasonTV: College Students ‘Think Freedom is Not a Big Deal’   Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez cries out to wife he is being tortured  [VIDEOS] Paul Joseph Watson on Muslims and Leftists   Israeli Envoy: Anti-Israel Campus Campaigns ‘A Real War’   The Expanse: Forget Star Trek and Watch This Show  At a University of California campus, learning a life lesson about socialism  California travel ban: Blatant hypocrisy about LGBTQ (etc.) rights  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

An old tune

"Before he left for America [from his anchorage off the Island of Groix near L'Orient in northwestern France], [John Paul] Jones needed to live up to his promise to get his men paid and rewarded with their prize earnings. This seemingly straightforward task would require literally decades to accomplish. By the time the U.S. Congress voted to compensate the crew of the Bonhomme Richard for the prizes taken on their famous cruise of September, 1779, the year would be 1848. The men and officers of the Bonhomme Richard were all dead by then. The money -- $165,598.37-- was ultimately paid to their descendants."

-- from the book, John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy, by Evan Thomas

In a doff of my cap to all things nautical, here's a lively arrangement of "Fisher's Hornpipe"

Bonus track: The Navy Hymn --

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

After the rain

I like that this little bird looks both bedraggled and determined. That's how I feel, these days.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Not unity, but civility

In the wake of yesterday's attempted assassination of a Republican Representative and other people at least nominally sympathetic to Republican principles, conservative commentator Mark Steyn makes a point that I had not thought about, but find myself agreeing with:

"If your organization calls people haters, you are the hater. I would like to disagree with the tone of what we have heard here today [on several Fox News broadcast segments], including in the last hour [from on-air talents]  Martha MacCallum and Brit Hume, when they were talking about unity and [asking] 'will this unity last?' "

"Obviously, the unity won't last, because ultimately [Republican Senator] Rand Paul has very little that unites him with [Independent Socialist Senator] Bernie Sanders [who caucuses with the Democrats]. We don't actually need unity. We need robust, civilized disunity -- people honestly recognizing that they disagree with each other on health care, on immigration, on Islam, on transgender bathrooms, and a bazillion other things, but that doesn't make the other person a hater. Simply put, the left has to be willing to actually engage in debate with people that disagree with them."

Steyn's point complements what I've written several times about argument being a lost art. What passes for debate these days is too often less than that, especially on the political left, where a proliferation of idols keeps jealous guard over little fiefdoms with names like Tolerance, Diversity, Fairness, and Sustainability. This is because leftism is hell-bent on finding substitutes for what the (almost touchingly old school) Pledge of Allegiance calls "one nation under God."

It's no good to point at bogey men of the "alt-Right" and claim that the right and the left are mirror images of each other, because the vast majority of conservatives won't give the alt-right the time of day, whereas progressives, propped up by fellow travelers in the media, tend to dismiss conservative concerns as "-isms" or phobias unworthy of engagement (until the shoe is on the other foot and those same little dogs who barked at the parade going by have somehow created a "climate of hate").

Hyperbole and double standards not only exist; reflexive adherence to them is the price of admission to inner circles. When an appeal to reason makes an impression, leftists move the goalposts with variations of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. One example of that is the idea that Communism would work "if it had ever actually been tried properly."

The air these days is thick with Twitter quips, sound bites, insults, and angry assertions (For example: it's not just Donald Trump who is either cartoonishly or frighteningly evil in the eyes of some progressives -- even his budget is evil). People raised on sitcom laugh tracks think a bon mot from someone in their ideological camp is today's version of a speech from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. But the aforementioned items are declarations rather than arguments, because arguments are built from the brick and mortar of premise and evidence. Arguments attempt to persuade by shedding logical light on cause and effect; they're not simply flags to mark holes on the "Golf Course of Disagreement."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Style points

You don't often hear anyone say "Great googly-moogly" anymore, but it certainly fits this context (which is astonishment at the ideological blindness and willful error of a professor of history at Harvard University).

In an ill-advised tweet, one Joyce E. Chaplin (professor) declared that "The USA, created by int'l community in Treaty of Paris in 1783, betrays int'l community by withdrawing from #parisclimateagreement today."

Non-historians with more common sense were quick to point out the several things wrong with that assertion. In no particular order, here are my favorite rebuttals, as culled from the original post and comments on it:
  • Her dates are wrong."The United States wasn't founded in 1783, but rather 1776. July 4th, 1776, to be precise. I believe we have a document floating around from that time period with that specific date on it."
  • The Treaty of Paris "wasn't some sort of international, multi-lateral agreement that created a new country, it was just a peace treaty between two sovereign nations."
  • There was no "int'l community" in 1783. "There was no UN or EU or League of Nations. None of that globaloney crap had been invented yet."
  • The French "gave us a nice statue, not a nation, thank you very much."
  • "That's not stupidity...that's just another blatant attempt to re-write history to push the current agenda."
  • "The U.S. was one of the parties that signed the Treaty of Paris, so we've got some seriously messed-up causality if a country can sign a treaty creating itself."
  • "The first country to recognize the United States of America was Holland, on November 16, 1776."
  • "Our founders were still referring to THESE United States. THE United States wasn't completely settled upon until another war some four score and seven years later."
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the International Community, and to the kleptocracy for which it stands, one Community, under despots, with misery and bloodshed for all."
  • "The comparison breaks down because the climate accord was never a treaty. This is how her intended irony falls flat."
  • "So the International Community okayed slavery in the country they formed?"
  • "If there was anything approaching the 'international community' in 1783, it was Britain and all its colonies and possessions, so yeah we got the okay from the international community because we kicked its ass for our freedom."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My cup runneth over

There are things to worry about in my life (such as employment, finances, college tuition for my children, and whether the car and the household HVAC system will need simultaneous replacement), but there is also much -- so very much -- to be grateful for.

The mighty goblet-looking fountain pictured here is the most prominent feature in a new park down the road apiece from my own domicile. Kudos to city leaders in Cary for approving the design.