Don’t Know Much About History


The BBC reports that protestors in England are demanding that a statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi be torn down because he publicly expressed negative opinions about blacks when he lived in South Africa over a hundred years ago. It seems that these protestors have forgotten, if they ever knew, Gandhi’s contribution to the dismantling of the British Empire, whose colonization of the undeveloped world was arguably the greatest example of white supremacy.

A Similarity and a Difference


Both the 1972 and 2016 presidential elections were plagued with irregularities committed by persons associated with the party that was in the White House during the election.

However, IIRC none of the criminal acts committed during the 1972 election (as opposed to the 1973/74 coverup) were perpetrated by currently serving law enforcement officials.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


Ridicule has been on of the most effective (and quite satisfying) weapons to use on Team Kimberlin. Four years ago, I poked fun at Bill Schmalfeldt with an I’m Not Making This Up, You Know post.

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The Cabin Boy™ was trying to write something clever about politics and succeeded in showing how little he knows about The Little Corporal. Of course, it was Napoleon who was tagged with that nickname because of his supposedly short stature and a rumor that corporal was his pre-revolutionary rank. Actually, he was of average height and had been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Artillery in 1785. Adolph Hitler, OTOH, was referred to as The Bohemian Corporal, originally by the Paul von Hindenburg, the last German president to serve before the Nazi takeover. Hitler had served as corporal in WWI, and “Bohemian” referred to his supposed lifestyle.

#SMH. This just another example of something the Cabin Boy™ knows that isn’t so.

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This has been in many ways a battle of wits with unarmed men.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


Eight years ago was Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day. Lots of websites participated, including one that was then known as Breitbart Big Government. I linked to their coverage in a post titled I’m Shocked, Shocked …

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Big Government reports that Mr. Kimberlin’s 501c3 funders are “stunned” to be supporting him.

Uh, huh.

I’m reminded of Captain Louis Renault.

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Many of the usual suspects no longer associate with Kimberlin. Openly.

Fighting the Last War


There’s an old adage which states that most armies are prepared to fight the last war. It has a deep basis in Reality. After our 1892 medium-power Krag rifles were outclassed by the full-power Mausers used by the Spanish in 1898, we adopted the Mauser-clone 1903 Springfield for World War I. The lessons learned about firepower in that war led to the adoption of the M1, which would have been a superior weapon in WW1, but was outclassed by the German Strumgewehr 44 (the original assault rifle) by the end of WW2. We entered the Viet Nam War armed with the M14, which would have been a great weapon for WW2, only to be outgunned by the other side’s AK47s, true assault rifles. I went through basic training with an M14, but was finally issued an M16 in Viet Nam.

Armies aren’t the only bureaucracies that cling to outdated “solutions.” The public health response to the Wuhan virus pandemic is a case in point.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was worse than it had to be, in part, because of the failure of some communities to take proper measures to prevent rapid spreading. The proper lesson from that pandemic is that dangerous communicable diseases must be contained by reducing interpersonal contact until other means of fighting it are available.

The initial restrictions imposed as public health measures dealing with Covid-19 were reasonable and cautious responses to a potentially catastrophic situation. They would have been excellent in combating the 1918 flu, but it appears that they’ve been overkill in vast swaths of America with disastrous unintended (I hope) consequences. For many the cure is worse than the disease.

Most Real World situations don’t track well with our attempt to model them because we never seem to be able to understand all of the ways that things interact. Experience and common sense and a willingness to take risks are necessary live in the Real World. Credentials are not the same thing as experience, and non-expert expertise has failed. It’s time to get back to living in the Real World. That will require that public health concerns take their rightful place among other factors to balances with economic realities and civil rights.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


“The ram has touched the wall” is a saying derived from Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico (About the War in Gaul) which signals that a contest has moved past the negotiating stage. The phrase is rendered in Latin as murum aries attigit. Because so few people take Latin in school these days and even fewer have read Caesar, I published this except from the book as the TKPOTD four years ago today.

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This is the origin of one of the Latin expressions I use. It’s from Book II of Caesar’s Commentary on the War in Gaul

Chapter 32

To these things Caesar replied, “That he, in accordance with his custom rather than owing to their desert, should spare the city, if they should surrender themselves before the battering-ram should touch the wall; but that there was no condition of surrender, except upon their arms being delivered up; that he should do to them that which he had done in the case of the Nervii, and would command their neighbors not to offer any injury to those who had surrendered to the Roman people.” The matter being reported to their countrymen, they said that they would execute his commands. Having thrown a very large quantity of their arms from the wall into the trench that was before the town so that the heaps of arms almost equalled the top of the wall and the rampart, and nevertheless having retained and concealed, as we afterward discovered, about a third of their arms in the town, the gates were opened, and they enjoyed peace for that day.

Chapter 33

Toward evening Caesar ordered the gates to be shut and the soldiers to go out of the town lest the towns-people should receive any injury from them by night. The Aduatuci, by a design before entered into, as we afterwards understood, because they believed that, as a surrender had been made, our men would dismiss their guards or at least would keep watch less carefully, partly with those arms which they had retained and concealed, partly with shields made of bark or interwoven wickers which they had hastily covered over with skins (as the shortness of time required), in the third watch, suddenly made a sally from the town with all their forces in the direction which the ascent to our fortifications seemed the least difficult. The signal having been immediately given by fires, as Caesar had previously commended, a rush was made thither by Roman soldiers from the nearest fort; and the battle was fought by the enemy as vigorously as it ought to be fought by brave men in the last hope of safety, in a disadvantageous place, and against those who were throwing their weapons from a rampart and from towers; since all hope of safety depended on their courage alone. About 4,000 of the men having been slain, the rest were forced back into the town. The next day, Caesar, after breaking open the gates which there was no one then to defend, and sending in our soldiers, sold the whole spoil of that town. The number of 53,000 persons was reported to him by those who had bought them.

Murum aries attigit.

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Murum Aries Attigit branded goodies are still available at The Hogewash Store.

“Chinese Chernobyl”


The Gentle Reader has no doubt heard of a catastrophic reactor accident that occurred in the Soviet Union in 1985 at a place called Chernobyl (now in Ukraine). The reactor was a typical example of Socialist engineering—the RBMK-type was in common use throughout the USSR—with an inherent design flaw related to the core’s cooling system. The Chernobyl reactor exploded during a reactor test of the core’s cooling system. This risk of a core meltdown was not made evident in the test operating instructions, so the operators proceeded with  testing the reactor in an unstable state. Upon test completion, the operators triggered a reactor shutdown, but a combination of unstable conditions and reactor design flaws caused an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction instead. Poor design, bureaucratic inertia, and operator carelessness created history’s worst peacetime nuclear event.

It’s being suggested that the Wuhan virus pandemic is China’s Chernobyl. If the virus got into the wild because of improper procedures in a Chinese laboratory, it would be a striking parallel example of Socialist bureaucratic incompetence acting with disregard for public safety. However, even if the actual source is something else, a wet market or whatever, the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to strong-arm reality so as to avoid blame for the meltdown resulting from their carelessness and mendacity is a nearly perfect example of why socialist systems all fail. Wishing won’t make it so. Facts are stubborn things.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, when compounded with Murphy’s Law, assure us that bad stuff will happen on a random basis. It’s wise to take steps to protect ourselves from such events. “The battle is not always to the strong, or the race to the swift, but it’s the way to bet.” History tells us that competition in free markets has the best track record for generating the resources needed for healthy living.

The Chinese people will have to sort out their own political destiny. It may be that they will grow tired of their current masters and that the CCP virus pandemic will inch them along a path to something new.

Meanwhile, the Wuhan virus pandemic has given many Americans a 30-day free trial of nanny state control.

Good Advice—From China


My training as a military officer included reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The most famous quote from that ancient Chinese classic is probably

是故勝兵先勝而後求戰,敗兵先戰而後求勝。Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Patricia McCarthy has a post over at The American Thinker titled The unbearable pettiness of the Washington press corps which looks at the disrespectful manner in which the press treats Donald Trump at the manner in which the President turns their futile behavior back on them, especially during the Wuhan virus pandemic briefings. Throughout her piece, she quotes Sun Tzu.

What makes these briefings so entertaining is when the president calls them out for their dishonesty.  He has a steel-trap mind and remembers what he has said.  When they twist or edit his words, he knows it and humiliates them.  But they seem not to realize they are being humiliated.

President Trump has been teaching us all.  It is only the men and women of the media who fail to learn.  Donald Trump, as John Perazzo has written, is a superb and unappreciated president.

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” —Sun Tzu

This is that moment.

Read the whole thing. I’ll add this—

上兵伐謀 What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

The Art of War is available from Amazon.

Generational Differences


Mrs. Hoge and I were both Baby Boomers, but she was seven years younger. Her idea of old time rock was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Mine was Bill Halley and Elvis, so even within a “generation” there are differences in world experience. I was old enough to be subject to the draft during the Vietnam War. Many younger boomers weren’t. (I served in Vietnam as an officer in the Army Signal Corps.)

I saw this tweet go by, and it reminded me of how the lack of big wars over the past couple of generations as lulled some people into a false sense of security.When one has experienced the fear of running out of ammunition, the prospect of running out of toilet paper is less likely to be viewed as a existential threat.

UPDATE—America’s Newspaper of Record reports that some are responding to The Pandemic properly—

CPAC 2020, Day Two


There’s a lot of speechifying at CPAC, and some of it’s worth hearing, but I spend most of my time networking and developing background information for future posts. I spent most of my time today on the floor of the exhibit hall, on broadcast row (where talk radio outlets are set up doing interviews), and in the lobby bar. One recurring theme I heard today was about outreach to minority voters and especially about bring black voters back into the Republican party.

I live in a far suburb of DC which is in range of WCSP-FM, C-SPAN’s local FM station, so during the drive home this evening I was able to listen to President Trump’s speech at a rally in South Carolina. His opening seemed almost like a standup comedy routine; he was clearly having a good time with a friendly audience. Toward the end of the speech, he made a pitch targeted explicitly at black voters which he ended by reminding everyone that the Republicans are the party of Lincoln. The crowd, a South Carolina crowd, erupted in cheers and applause.

The Republican Party has changed since I was growing up in the ’50s.

And so has South Carolina.

What Apollo 13 Saw


These animations uses data obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter depict views of the lunar surface that would have been visible to the crew of Apollo 13 during its one turn around the Moon, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. The animations don’t run in real-time but has been sped up for this short video.

Video Credit: NASA

Meanwhile, in Dixville Notch …


… the New Hampshire town with the longest tradition of midnight voting has given the majority of its votes in today’s Democrat primary to a write-in candidate Michael Bloomberg.

BTW, Dixville Notch has a roughly 50/50 record of selecting the eventual winner of the Democrat’s nomination. Here are their previous winners who wound up failing to receive the nomination.

1968 Richard Nixon (I’m not making this up!)
1972 Edward Muskie
1984 Ernest Hollings
1988 Dick Gephart
2000 Bill Bradley
2016 Bernie Sanders

Well, we see how things go over the next few weeks and months.

Choosing Not to Choose


Matthew Stewart has a post over at City Journal titled Multiculturalism, or Cultural Appropriation? in which he make a case that Progressives need to decide between one or the other. It looks at history and the facts and concludes

Another puzzling aspect of the cultural-appropriation focus is that it seems clearly to clash with another progressive imperative: the need to nurture multicultural appreciation. Multiculturalism has been a prominent cause among progressives for more than a generation, but today, admiration for other cultures apparently comes with a warning sign: look, but don’t adopt, lest you face accusations of “theft” or insensitivity.

Most reasonable people have no trouble understanding that to adopt an artifact or practice doesn’t diminish the culture from which it originates. “You can’t steal a culture,” as Columbia University linguist John McWhorter has observed. Cultural exchange is enriching, not impoverishing, and imitation remains, as in the old formulation, the sincerest form of flattery. It’s time for progressives to decide between embracing multiculturalism or policing “cultural appropriation.” They can’t have it both ways.

The Progressive position flies in the face of the logical principle that A is not not-A which our culture inherited from the ancient Greeks. But Progressives never let logic or the facts get in the way of their desire to be in control. O’Brien explained it this way—

‘You are a slow learner, Winston,’ said O’Brien gently.

‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

And have you noticed that Progressives keep trying to change the meanings of words?