Independence Day Storytime: You Could Learn a Lot From Julia Child

This article on women not apologizing -- but just telling people what they want, which by the way would be incredibly helpful -- ends with a citation.
We are not sorry to ask for an email that should have been sent to us weeks ago, or to expect to receive the item we paid for, or to be bumped into on the subway. Yes, we should take the shampoo commercial’s advice and weed out the word when it’s superfluous. But it’s just as important to articulate exactly what we mean in its place.

Julia Child, a consummate charmer, said it best: “Never apologize.”
Child was doubtless quoting John Wayne who said that too, fifty-five years earlier in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Nevertheless Julia Child is a great source for inspiration, although the linked article might give you an incomplete idea of just why she was so charming.
She had arrived in France in November 1948 not speaking the language or knowing how to cook. ''I had never even heard of a shallot,'' she said. ''I was there as Paul's extra baggage.'' Ten years older than Julia, he ran the visual presentation department at the United States Information Service. By the time they left for other postings six years later, Julia was fluent in French, ran a cooking school and was co-authoring a comprehensive cookbook that would later make her famous.

She learned many things in Paris, she said, one of the most important of which was how to shop like a Parisian. ''It was life-changing,'' she said, ''because shopping in France taught me about human relations.''...

With a smile, she added: ''I quickly learned how to communicate. If I wasn't willing to spend time to get to know the sellers and what they were selling, then I wouldn't go home with the freshest head of lettuce or best bit of steak in my basket. They really made me work for my supper. But what a supper -- yum! And it was such fun.''
The truth is that she had been carefully taught long before France.  What she doesn't explain in this rather modest interview is that by 1948 she had been working as an American spy for six years. She joined the OSS under Wild Bill Donovan during the war and served across Asia. She met Paul doing this work, which was at an extremely high level. She wasn't her husband's baggage -- the US Information Agency was our core propaganda outfit during the Cold War -- but it was sure helpful if she could appear that way.

American Comebacks

I'm not normally a fan of Buzzfeed's clickbait, but I'll make this exception for Freedom Day.

Celebrating the Rockets' Red Glare

Last night's celebration went well. Tonight's will be shot from a semi trailer.

View from the Celebration


The early rain finally broke, though it held off long enough for a good lesson in building a campfire with wet wood. Once that fire was lit it was used to start the charcoal. Andouille and firecracker brats have been cooked and eaten, basted with Yuengling lager (America's oldest brewery). Other American beers have also been drunk. Fireworks have been laid in. A cigar given me by Mr. Wolf has been assigned for fuse-lighting duty later in the evening.

Hope it looks good where you are, too.

Independence Day Celebration: Leadslingers Bourbon


If you're ever thirsty out in Indian Territory, let me recommend Leadslingers Bourbon Whiskey. It's perfectly enjoyable neat and can be found at larger liquor stores (a bit too niche for the smaller ones, I suppose).

From the back label: "Leadslingers Whiskey was founded in 2013 by seven combat veterans. When USAF TACPS, U.S. Army Rangers, Green Berets, and Paratroopers combined their love for America and fine whiskey, LSW was born."


It's crafted by Scissortail Distillery, in Moore, Oklahoma, whose bourbon I also recommend.

Continuing Our Musical Appreciation....

As usual with the Damn Few, trigger warnings include absolutely everything. You probably should pass right on without watching this.

Amazing Grace, with Condoleezza Rice and Jenny Oaks Baker


The Spirit of Rebellion


Happy Independence Day.  Today we celebrate treason, treason that prospered, treason that flourished, treason that created what was for a while -- what might someday be again -- the living symbol of virtuous human liberty.

"Going Armed To the Terror of the People"

Here's an offense I didn't know existed, but apparently in North Carolina you can be charged with a crime for doing something that is otherwise legal if it scares people.

What apparently happened was that a soldier from FT Bragg went to a local mall to have glamour shots made of himself with his body armor and rifle. The result was a complete panic, the closing of the mall, the arrest of the soldier, and his being charged with this obscure crime.

The Duffel Blog mocks the soldier for his lack of self-awareness, pointing out that this was right after a reported shooting at the Navy Yard. That story turned out to be false, of course, which suggests that a kind of public hysteria is at work. I suppose one has to be aware of the hysteria of one's fellow Americans as well, though frankly, at this time that requires a tremendous amount of awareness. America is hysterical about everything just now.

In any case, while scaring others is adequate for being arrested and charged with the crime, actual conviction will require proof that his intent was to terrify people. Assuming they don't manage to bluff him into pleading guilty, our boy ought to walk on that one.

Bikers Against Flag-Burning

Jazz Shaw has some video and commentary about a scuffle in New York this weekend, in which some bikers and veterans got together to disrupt a flag-burning. The group burning the flag looks to be an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement, one that claims its purposes is to disarm the NYPD. This group has put together a hoary collection of activists that makes this look just like an episode from the late 1960s, including devoted communists as you can see from their placards about capitalism.

Adding to the nostalgia, the veterans among the bikers seem to be Vietnam veterans. The largest group, though, are Hallowed Sons MC, which isn't an old group at all:
I’ve been riding for almost fifty years, but I’ve only been with the Hallowed Sons for a couple years. The club is new - we started up a few years in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We got together to help. I spent two months living on the street in New Dorp (a neighborhood of Staten Island hard hit by Sandy) serving people food, helping with mold removal, doing whatever people needed. The Hallowed Sons are hard guys and we’ll fight when we have to but we don’t have to because we stand with strength and unity and brotherhood. We put our energy into the community, supporting first responders, vets, cleaning up the neighborhood, cleaning up the highways. We’re community driven.
This is the kind of guy whose conservatism and patriotism -- indeed whose presence, whose alliance -- is often found embarrassing by the well-educated Republican. Like early volunteer firefighters (who also have a very rough and tumble history entangled with a certain amount of brawling and politics), these guys put themselves together in response to a natural disaster to help their community. The kind of guys who do that have a sort of native love of home, of neighborhood, of village, of city, of country. It's not necessarily closely examined, but it is deeply felt, and they'll fight you if you insult it.

You know, these guys.



A lot of people find them embarrassing, but I love guys like this. It is important, in the right place and time, to reflect soberly on the history and be able to criticize your own where they deserve it. You might be able to analyze in a sophisticated way the history of American, and indeed of Western, policy in the Middle East and the way in which it ties in to the phenomena of terrorism and radical Islamic revival. That's important. It can even be helpful.

All the same, don't go talking about the queen on Independence Day.

UPDATE:  Heh.

"Weenies burn flag to protest cops, get attacked by bikers, need cops to save their asses."

Facta Non Verba

Seen on FB:

Yeah, OK.
The Navy Cross is presented to James H. Webb, Jr., First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On July 10, 1969, while participating in a company-sized search and destroy operation deep in hostile territory, First Lieutenant Webb's platoon discovered a well-camouflaged bunker complex that appeared to be unoccupied. Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers. Accompanied by one of his men, he then approached the second bunker and called for the enemy to surrender. When the hostile soldiers failed to answer him and threw a grenade that detonated dangerously close to him, First Lieutenant Webb detonated a claymore mine in the bunker aperture, accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel. Despite the smoke and debris from the explosion and the possibility of enemy soldiers hiding in the tunnel, he then conducted a thorough search that yielded several items of equipment and numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data. Continuing the assault, he approached a third bunker and was preparing to fire into it when the enemy threw another grenade. Observing the grenade land dangerously close to his companion, First Lieutenant Webb simultaneously fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body. Although sustaining painful fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the aperture and completely destroy the remaining bunker. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Webb upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Completely Missing the Point

George Takei, the actor most famous for having been Mr. Sulu, made a comment to the effect that Justice Thomas was a "clown in blackface." This occasioned some comment, as you might imagine. Mr. Takei has put out a statement on the subject.
A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a "clown in blackface."

"Blackface" is a lesser known theatrical term for a white actor who blackens his face to play a black buffoon. In traditional theater lingo, and in my view and intent, that is not racist. It is instead part of a racist history in this country.

I feel Justice Thomas has abdicated and abandoned his African American heritage by claiming slavery did not strip dignity from human beings. He made a similar remark about the Japanese American internment, of which I am a survivor. A sitting Justice of the Supreme Court ought to know better.

I have expressed my full thoughts on the matter here.
I'll leave it to others to decide whether "blackface" is, as he suggests, not a racist term in this context. (Whether it is "a lesser known theatrical term" as well.)

What strikes me as more important is that he completely misses Justice Thomas' point. What does it mean to say that the slave's dignity is not harmed by the chains? It is to say that the dignity of the human soul is a high thing, so high as to be beyond the grasp of tyrants. It is to say that all the human efforts to reduce the dignity of the slaves were wasted, were foolish as much as they were wrong.

Perhaps human dignity can be surrendered, but on this account it can never be stolen. It could, perhaps, be laid down. It cannot be taken away.

That is a very positive message and a very traditional one in the Christian church, which believes the Divinely-crafted soul is the seat of dignity. Such a faith in a human dignity that could not be destroyed was the deadly message of Christianity to the slaver, the consolation of the slave, the harbinger of the abolitionist. I'm surprised to find an educated man who is deaf to Justice Thomas' message.

War on Women! Part II (For Today)

The Secretary of the Navy has announced today that woman Marines and sailors will have 18 weeks of maternity leave, bringing the US Navy in line with Europe.
"In the Navy and the Marine Corps, we are continually looking for ways to recruit and retain the best people," Mabus said. "We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way. We can do that for them. Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members."
Paternity leave? Ten days. And that's only since 2008: before that, "paternity" was just a form of lawsuit for the Navy.

UPDATE: This policy will be even more fun once we get those new transgender rules in place.

War on Women!

Actual Headline: "Retired Army colonel seeks to challenge Congress's youngest woman."

The nerve of that guy!

An Independence Weekend Story

How about a story about an immigrant who joined the US Special Forces? A story about a man who fought the Red Army? A story about a patriot of his native land who became a patriot of his adopted America? Oh, and a story about an officer in the Waffen-SS: and these are all the same guy.

That's not the kind of story you expect, is it? But it's the story of Lauri Törni aka Larry Thorne. He appears to have been killed while on a reconnaissance mission in the mountains near Da Nang. It's a story worth reflecting on this week, as we consider issues of history, redemption, and forgiveness.

Mysterious ordnance

Per Ace:  Racist, Confederate-Flag Sporting Ex-CNN Reporter's Racist, Anti-Government White Hispanic Husband Kills Innocent Home Invader in Hotel Room With Racist Gun With One of Those Parts That Goes Up.
De Caro, who was in the shower, emerged completely naked and tried talking to the gunman, who was demanding the couple fork over their money and valuables.
Naked, but he quickly clothed himself with a rakish .35 caliber gun,* which is really all the fashion a man needs. . . .
* Hey yeah I know that's a weird caliber, but that's what the article claims.

How To Speak Middle English

A four part series on the pronunciation of Middle English, with some thoughts on its regional and temporal variations.

Forget it, Jake--it's Madison

Bernie Sanders plays to a crowd of 10,000.

These people are insane

The ECB has rules for the "investments" it can make.  So far they've been limited to bonds issued by sovereign governments or their agencies, which is crazy enough.  Many is the private bank that's gotten itself into trouble obeying rules deeming sovereign debt to be triple-A safe no matter how high an interest rate some shaky government had to pay in order to lure suckers in the door.  Hey, if it's all AAA, why not buy the Italian bonds with high interest instead of those boring German bonds?  If the bonds go bust, we can just say we were following orders and are entitled to a bailout.  No one's job or bonus is on the line.

Now the ECB has decided to expand the list of approved bonds to include "corporate bonds."  That's not such a terrible idea, in an alternative universe where people choose private-sector investments according to traditional principles like price and risk.  "Senior Eurozone Economist" Frederik Ducrozet at Credit Agricole explains that the move to "quasi-corporate bonds the ECB could seek a greater transmission of QE to the real economy." Almost sounds like a dawning realization that there's such a thing as a real economy, and that it's not transfer payments by sovereign entities, but what's with the "quasi-corporate"? Turns out what they really mean is Italian utility companies. Here's the punchline:
Hyung-Ja de Zeeuw, a credit strategist at ABN AMRO says she thinks they chose these specific corporate names "because it wouldn't disrupt the level playing field (competition). They have natural monopolies."
So that's their idea of the "real economy": something with a natural monopoly that's immune to competitive forces.  Gosh, I wonder why the EU is in crisis?

Hockey Sticks

Let's say we did a study in which we asked Americans how many of them owned a hockey stick, and then asked them whether or not they or anyone in their family participated in playing hockey. Did they belong to a hockey club? Did they play hockey with friends sometimes? Did they belong to a place with a good hockey-playing rink? Everyone who answers 'yes' to the questions after 'Do you own a hockey stick?' is said to belong to a 'hockey culture.'

What do you think the delta would be between hockey-stick-ownership rates for those who do, and do not, belong to a hockey culture?

Attention -- Row!

I've enjoyed rowing for several years now, so when some friends entered Oklahoma City's annual Stars and Stripes Regatta, I drove out to enjoy the day with them.



The skyline is dominated by the Devon Tower, and the boathouse to my right is the Devon Boathouse.



Here they come!


Coming up to the catch ... One of the rowers on this crew is blind.



I guess he's racing in the singles bracket?


A few folks brought their hounds with them, and one gentleman brought his peregrine falcon. I asked what he hunts - duck. Looking at the Wikipedia entry, I see that historically the peregrine was actually called a duck hawk in the US.

All in all, a good summer day at the Oklahoma River. I guess it's only appropriate to finish with some home-grown red dirt country.