So, one of ya'll recommended Dogfish's "60 Minute IPA." I happened to be traveling the other day, and found a little store that sold a few things that aren't available locally. This was one of them!
The Dogfish is much drier than the Sierra Nevada I wrote about recently, but that is not a bad thing. It's got a similar spicy character. Good stuff, but in a different way.
I've begun working Eric's plethora of links into the sidebar. Also, at the very bottom of the sidebar, you'll find a new way of accessing the archives. I found the code in some ancient Blogger files today. It only works because I've never updated anything, but hey: it works!
There's no such thing as "backwards compatible" if you refuse to move forward. :)
Isn't the usefulness of this analysis outweighed by the irony?
"We have a deadlocked democracy," said Pat Buchanan, a conservative commentator and three-time presidential candidate. "Both parties, held hostage by their extremes, are incapable of tackling the issues that threaten this country."So, Pat "Ride to the Sound of Guns" Buchanan, leader of the "Buchanan Brigades," complains that the two major parties are each captured by their extremists? If that's the case, why aren't you "Former President Pat Buchanan"?
I thought this was a much better analysis of what's really going on. The reason Pat Buchanan couldn't capture the GOP's leadership position isn't that he isn't an adequately extreme conservative. It's that he wasn't the insider candidate. If the Tea Party is successfully purging the GOP of many insiders, I'll be amazed, but hardly displeased.
But how many months be in the year?
There are thirteen, I say;
The midsummer moon is the merryest of all
Next to the merry month of May.
IN summer time, when leaves grow green,
And flowers are fresh and gay,
Robin Hood and his merry men
Were [all] disposed to play.
Then some would leap, and some would run,
And some use artillery:
'Which of you can a good bow draw,
A good archer to be?
'Which of you can kill a buck?
Or who can kill a doe?
Or who can kill a hart of grease,
Five hundred foot him fro?
Why, yes, this is what I like about her, although I find your formulation interesting:
Republican primary voters like macho candidates and no one is more macho than Sarah Palin.Note that it isn't the right saying that this is 'unladylike' behavior. We're saying, "We love that lady." I don't think she's even intending to run at this point; but she is serving as a great stalking horse, drawing all the fire away from those who probably will run. She's getting rich doing it, and having fun doing it.
In a way the fashionista and mother of five evokes more toughness than any man regularly mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in the GOP. Palin is visceral, in your face, relishes combat, and won't be shamed. (Her hobbies include ice fishing, snowmobiling, running, and hunting.) These are traits usually and stereotypically associated with men - and they're especially endearing to Republicans, who like to see President Obama hit with the most force possible....
Republicans know she won't bow to what they think are elite sensitivities or political correctness. Say she was "going rogue" as a diss? She'll make it the title of her book. Dismiss the GOP as the "party of no?" Palin will rename it "the party of hell no!"
Live to fight, love to fight. How could I fail to admire someone like that?
The best of the three I could lay to hand, by far, was Sierra Nevada's Torpedo "Extra" IPA.
It's close to their "Celebration Ale," which is the best beer in the world.* It makes use of different hops during the brewing process, but ends up with a similar character. While it lacks the perfection of Celebration Ale, it's a fine substitute for the rest of the year. (After all, there ought to be something special about Christmas!)
You can see the rich character in its color. For me, it's as good as I expect an ale to be, outside of the Yuletide.
* In my opinion.
I found the following list at a group called "Western Martial Arts" on Facebook.
So, as it says:
Here are some links for your reading pleasure:
Info and Forums:
A HEMA print periodical:
To save me typing out the rest of them go here to find more links to many different websites and groups who study HEMA/WMA:
Groups represented in WMA (many of them have websites and you know that http://www.google.com is your friend ;-)
KdF - UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden
Schola Gladiatoria - UK
The Grange - UK
European Historical Combat Group - UK, Denmark, Sweden, Eire and Germany
Boar's Tooth Fight School - London
Selohaar Fechtschule - USA
The School of European Swordsmanship - Finland
Schola Saint George - USA
Academia Duellatoria - USA
Academy of Historical Fencing - UK
Dawn Duellists - UK
Association for Renaissance Martial Arts - USA and Europe
Society for Medieval Martial Artists - USA
Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild - Canada
Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts - Canada
Melbourne Swordplay Guild - Australia
Summer Knights (childrens summer camp) - USA
Western Swordsmanship Technique & Research - USA
De Taille et d'Estoc - France (Holders of the famed International HEMA Gathering)
British Quarterstaff Association - UK
GHFS (Gothenberg Historical Fencing Society and hosts of the hopefully soon to be annual Swordfish HEMA event) - Sweden
Saint George Fencing Group - Serbia
PBSMCS - South Africa
Society for the Study of Swordsmanship - UK
The Company for Historical Combat - UK
Academy of Historical Fencing - UK
Aisle O'var Backswording Clubbe
Medieval European Martial Arts Guild - USA
Academy of European Swordsmanship - Canada
Frie Duellister / Free Duellists Norway, Bergen.
New Zealand Schools of European Martial Arts
Academia della Spada - USA
Martinez Academy of Arms - USA
Northwest Academy of Arms - USA
Chicago Swordplay Guild - USA
English Fighting Arts - UK
Company of Maisters
Facebook Classical Fencing Group
Kuzgun Spor Turkish Hema Group - Turkey
Kuzgun Spor Turkish Hema Group Facebook
Willington Backsword Club - USA (looking for Rapier enthusiasts in New England Area)
Pirate Dojo - USA
Virginia Academy of Fencing - USA
The Academy of Arms - USA
MACS (Medieval Armed Combat Society) - South Africa
Mid-Atlantic Society for Historic Swordsmanship - USA
Academie Duello - Canada
Roanoke Valley Sword Guild - USA
HEMA cph - Copenhagen, Denmark
Die Schlachtschule - USA
Meyer Frei Fechter Guild - USA
Krigarenve - USA
LaFratellanza della Spada - USA
Glima - Denmark
Durban Sword and Shield Club - South Africa
Jojo de Pau Club - Portugal
Historical Fencing School - Vienna, Austria
Loyal Order of the Sword - Phoenix and NY, USA
School of Traditional Medieval Fencing - UK
Ochs - historische Kampfkünste - Germany
In recognition of Iran's leadership on the issue, the United Nations has elevated that republic to its commission governing the rights of women. The vote was by acclamation, as no nation could see any reason to object. This is a proud day for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The U.S. couldn’t muster a word of opposition — not even call for a vote. That would be because . . . why? Because our policy is not to confront and challenge the brutal regime for which rape and discrimination are institutionalized policies. No, rather, we are in the business of trying to ingratiate ourselves, and making the U.S. as inoffensive as possible to the world’s thugocracies.It wasn't long ago we talked about these matters in other terms.
First, even though Smith was in many ways the pioneering analyst of the need for impartiality and universality in ethics (Moral Sentiments preceded the better-known and much more influential contributions of Immanuel Kant, who refers to Smith generously), he has been fairly comprehensively ignored in contemporary ethics and philosophy...."Market-including interventions" are not a bad approach: they may include things like targeted small business loans designed to help people enter a market for which they are well suited, if they were too poor to afford the entry costs. More locally to Smith's own time, you could read the Colony of Georgia as such an intervention: Sir James Edward Oglethorpe's attempt to give some 'worthy poor' in debtor's prison a chance to build a new life, by giving them land to work.
The spirited attempt to see Smith as an advocate of pure capitalism, with complete reliance on the market mechanism guided by pure profit motive, is altogether misconceived. Smith never used the term "capitalism" (I have certainly not found an instance). More importantly, he was not aiming to be the great champion of the profit-based market mechanism, nor was he arguing against the importance of economic institutions other than the markets.
Smith was convinced of the necessity of a well-functioning market economy, but not of its sufficiency. He argued powerfully against many false diagnoses of the terrible "commissions" of the market economy, and yet nowhere did he deny that the market economy yields important "omissions". He rejected market-excluding interventions, but not market-including interventions aimed at doing those important things that the market may leave undone.
Of course, Oglethorpe eventually ran afoul of the profit instinct: the clashes he had here had much to do with those who wanted to own, and not merely control, resources. Smith could learn from both impulses: the need to respect the profit instinct as reasonable and moral, but also the need to give a helping hand to those who would work hard, but didn't have the means to get started.
Our second IPA is by another local brewery, this time local to Athens, Georgia instead of Atlanta: the "Hopsecutioner" by the Terrapin Beer Company.
As you can see, the color is a bit richer than the Sweetwater ale, and that is reflected in the taste. It has a good smell to it (if you like the smell of hoppy beer!). While it lacks the richness of flavor that beer #3 will have, I find this to be a very acceptable beer. Terrapin makes a few other robust ales of the 'big hops' type, which is an approach I like a great deal.
Yesterday we were talking about analytic v. synthetic a priori concepts in ethics, and I said that synthetic a priori was as close as you could get to 'a priori' in ethics. After all, true analytic a priori principles are supposed to be derived merely from "an analysis" of a concept -- that is, breaking the concept down to see what it contains. Ethics requires more than concepts, but real situations that necessarily involve particular things, people, and cases: so even those philosophers, like Kant, who want to do 'a priori' ethical thinking end up with synthetics. For example, Kant's famous "categorical imperative" is supposed to be synthetic a priori.
However, I am reminded this morning that Kant did believe that he had at least one analytic a priori principle at work in his Doctrine of Right: the principle of right. This principle doesn't deal with ethics precisely -- Kant explicitly divides his Metaphysics of Morals into "The Doctrine of Right" and "The Doctrine of Virtue," the latter of which contains his moral system:
...the system of the doctrine of duties in general is now divided into the system of the doctrine of rights (ius), which deals with duties that can be given by external laws, and the system of the doctrine of virtue (Ethica), which treats of duties that cannot be so given...(6:379)"The Doctrine of Right" is about what we might call law: cases in which coercive force can be used.
Dr. Allen Wood wrote, in "The Final Form of Kant's Practical Philosophy," that:
Kant declares that the concept of right is not made up of two elements -- namely, an obligation to act in accordance with universal law and also an authorization to coerce others to fulfill this obligation.... [Gottlieb] Hufeland had derived the authorization to coerce those who would violate rights from an alleged natural obligation to increase our own perfection. Kant insisted that this would have the absurd consequence that one may not refrain from enforcing all one's rights to the full. Instead, he argued that the authorization to coerce another who hinders one's rightful actions is already contained analytically in the concept of the action as rightful.So, the idea is that if I have rights at all, the authority to use force to enforce those rights is contained in the concept of 'what it is to have a right.' The answer to the question 'do I have any rights?' is supposed to be analytic as well, but I'm not sure that's really true. Aside from a right to die, it's hard to think of anything that the world really provides you as a right.
The rest we get from God, if you follow the Declaration of Independence account; or else from valor alone, which is empirical. I mean by that: we would not have the rights we do if it hadn't been for the particular chain of events that we can trace to the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Declaration of Independence, and the various wars that were fought to enforce and extend those concepts.
The spring brings many joyous things, but also -- to many of us -- allergies. One of the few good cures is a fine hoppy ale, of which the India Pale Ales (IPA) are the hoppiest. As a service to you, the readers, I have undertaken a review of a few IPAs on sale here in the local market. Here is the least of the three I considered, Sweetwater IPA.
Sweetwater IPA has a taste that I would describe as flat and empty compared with the other candidates. It's not exactly unpleasant, but it seems to be missing quite a bit of the robust flavor that the others have to offer. Pity, because I'd like to praise a native Georgia brewery; but you can probably do better.
I know nobody's really happy to see him traipsing around the heartland, but it's rude to scare your guests. I mean, if you bring out such dangerous crowds, it's only natural that they'd call in the SWAT Team.
Seriously, though, what on earth is this? Ever since my eye doctor, Sal Culosi, was shot and killed by a SWAT Team for 'gambling on sporting events,' I've had a very baleful notion of calling out the SWAT team for anything except the special cases that SWAT teams are really intended to address. Calling them out, as seems to be common, for serving ordinary warrants is wrong; calling them out because a few senior citizens are engaged in a perfectly peaceful First Amendment exercise is indefensible.
If the President is this afraid of Americans, he should resign. If the Secret Service is this afraid of Americans' First Amendment rights, they need to seriously revisit their doctrine.
UPDATE: A friend of Sal Culosi's writes to object that he would not want to be associated with my sentiments. Insofar as the political sentiments are involved, that may well be true; I cite him only in the paragraph about SWAT teams. All politics aside, he was a good man and I liked him. I think of him whenever I see cases of SWAT-type teams being used outside of the very rare and special cases for which they were designed. While they may be necessary in that limited context, they are not appropriate to be used against ordinary citizens engaged in peaceful lives. It's simply reckless to field that kind of force against normal people who mean no harm.
So, for about a month, every morning at first light I have been awakened by this cardinal with a throat like a siren. The first time he piped up in the dim pre-dawn, I leaped out of bed. I had never heard a bird with a voice like that, or a song like that -- it sounded more like a SPACE INVADERS game on loudspeakers than any living creature.
Apparently he got the girl, though.
Douglas sends a link to a Volokh piece on the debate regarding concealed carry in 1872 Philadelphia. As he says, it's remarkably similar to the debate today -- except, I note, that the debate then was concealed v. open carry, while the debate today is normally concealed carry v. banning the carrying of arms entirely.
Open carry is something I've long advocated, and still do. Our society would be better off if it got over its fear of weapons in the hands of law-abiding and honorable men and women. A lot of that is just a question of being accustomed to seeing people carrying arms, so that it becomes a normal thing. It's a service, then, to carry openly -- appropriately, and where you can do so legally.
Somehow when I saw this I thought of all of you. I know you'll appreciate - as I do - the comeback of the non-metrosexual male. Or do we call that just a regular guy?
I didn't even have to invent the "glamor" tag. Interesting!
OK, so the full and final version of the law does nothing but provide police with instructions to seek immigration status during already lawful stops. It doesn't, as we might have thought from earlier versions, create a new kind of 'stop and frisk' rule for people who look like they might possibly be aliens.
It does contain an anti-racial-profiling clause about which Richard Cohen is probably correct: "Since this law is aimed at illegal immigrants from Mexico, the cops are almost certain to bend over backwards to avoid any suggestion of racial profiling and will, as a matter of fairness, stop and frisk the odd Scandinavian." As it happens, as a Stetson-hat-wearing Southerner, I was invariably given the "special" treatment every time I flew anywhere for a few years after 9/11. It was necessary, you see, so they'd have the numbers right in order to be free to search people who did match the profiles. You know, the profiles they aren't allowed to have, but also don't need to formalize since everyone understood that they were looking for Muslims from the Middle East, not, say, Mexican immigrants. (Or me.)
Now, Mr. Cohen also says that this is a kind of tea party moment. That's right -- and it's the point that Eugene Robinson missed, although it is possible that Mr. Robinson has never understood the Tea Party's real complaint. The Tea Party is a "small government" movement only by accident; it's really a strict-Constitutionalist movement. If the Federal government is exceeding its specified Constitutional authority, it needs to be restrained. Since, mostly, that is what the Federal government is doing, the Tea Party is mostly a small-government movement.
However, here we have an area where the Federal government is failing to perform its Constitutional duty! So here, the Tea Party is a large-government movement. That is, the Tea Party wants the Federal government to perform all and only its specifically authorized duties, using only specifically authorized powers. If it tries to exceed its mandate, it needs to be checked. If it fails to perform its duty, it needs to be spurred and driven.
I am hoping this particular spur does the trick, though I'm not sure I see how it possibly can. The overwhelming problem is that the government will have to start serving the interests of the citizens instead of the political interests of the ruling faction. I honestly doubt if this government is at all capable of doing that.
We've talked at times about the importance of a state-led Article V Constitutional Convention, to rebalance the power relationship between the states and Federal government to something more like what the Founders intended. There also has to be a reform of the Federal government itself. That will be easier to do when it is less powerful, because there will be less opposition from interest groups (insofar as they will have less to gain!). On some of these points, it will be difficult. If a Congressman wishes to pass a law addressing this issue, he will ask his staff to help compose it. They will go to interest groups and lobbyists who are contributors, and get draft text from them.
Even if the Congress wished to do the right thing, to look out for the People instead of their interest groups, I'm not sure they have the capacity. I don't think they would know how to begin.
I don't know that any of you will be voting in the Parliamentary election in Salisbury, but if you are, by all means vote for Arthur Pendragon. A member of the Stonehenge Druid movement, he apparently hauls one of those "Excalibur" reproductions around everywhere. The Guardian notes that there is a rule specifically forbidding Members of Parliament from bringing their swords into the chamber. Fear not, however! The traditional accommodation has not been abandoned:
There are two parallel red lines woven into the carpet that run the length of the chamber, one each side. The distance between them is about two sword lengths plus six inches.This just shows you how wise is the conservative habit of preserving old traditions. You never know when they might become useful again.
Members must speak from their side of the line and may not cross it. They must toe the line! Anyone standing from the front row who does allow a foot to stray across towards the opposite side, is frequently ordered back quite sharply. It is a good tactic to disconcert the Member who is speaking.
It dates from days when Members carried swords into the Chamber as part of their daily dress, and were not afraid to use them against those opposite when passions were aroused. Nowadays of course, Members are not allowed to take swords (or any other weapon) into the chamber, but the lines persist.
As do little ribbon loops dangling from the hangers in the Members’ cloakroom by their private entrance, designed to hold their swords. The swords they are not allowed to take into the chamber!
Dennis the Peasant beautifully deconstructs a post by Matthew Yglesias on what should be done with the banking industry:
He's under the hood of the engine of finance - pulling on wires and touching things - and all the while his readership, which knows even less about banking than he does (if that is indeed possible), is standing there waiting for some sort of reassurance. All they know is the engine isn't running and they can't do anything to change that situation themselves. And Matthew, being the bright boy that he is, has figured out about banking what I've figured out about cars:
Sometimes the important thing is to let others pretend you know what you're talking about.
As instapundit says: "Read the whole thing."
I guess the question is, why did he think this joke was a useful way to introduce the subject at hand? There's nothing wrong with telling a joke, if it is to introduce a serious point: sometimes, the shock effect that jokes produce can open the mind to new possibilities, or clear a ground for discussion.
The transcript of the general's remarks is here. What was the point this joke was supposed to introduce?
I am honestly unsure what he meant to convey by it. Yet these remarks include the strongest statement yet from this administration about the Israeli/American alliance.
America’s commitment to Israel will endure. And everyone must know that there is no space—no space—between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable. It is as strong as ever. This President and this Administration understands very well the environment—regionally and internationally—in which Israel and the United States must operate. We understand very well that for peace and stability in the Middle East, Israel must be secure.Perhaps the joke is a joke that the general learned from one of his Israeli partners, at some point in these deep and abiding friendships. It's not a joke on the Jews, after all (although I understand the sense being expressed this morning by this Jewish blogger that the joke plays on stereotypes he'd rather leave behind). The joke is on the Taliban, who finds himself entirely at their mercy in spite of his anger.
The United States will never waiver in defense of Israel’s security. That is why we provide billions of dollars annually in security assistance to Israel, why we have reinvigorated our consultations to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, and why we undertake joint military exercises, such as the Juniper Cobra ballistic missile defense exercise that involved more than 1,000 United States servicemen and women. We view these efforts as essential elements of our regional security approach, because many of the same forces that threaten Israel also threaten the United States.
I can also say from long experience that our security relationship with Israel is important for America. Our military benefits from Israeli innovations in technology, from shared intelligence, from exercises that help our readiness and joint training that enhances our capabilities and from lessons learned in Israel’s own battles against terrorism and asymmetric threats.
Over the years, and like so many Americans—like so many of you here tonight—I’ve spent a great deal of time with my Israeli partners, including my friends in the IDF. These partnerships are deep and abiding.
Obviously there are few Jews selling ties in Afghanistan, because the Taliban would simply kill them and take whatever water they required. This joke is really about how poorly adapted the Taliban mode is to a certain kind of life in which violence has lost its force. We are pleased to call this "the modern world," but the Taliban's world is just as "modern" as ours chronologically. Violence is still the currency there, as it is in much of the modern world.
There real question in front of us is: will the parts of the world where violence is the currency shrink, or grow? When the "modern" world is a few years older, will it be more violent or less? What probability would you assign? Would you go as high as 'even money'?
UPDATE: Beltway confidential responds to Jones' remarks thus:
"Somehow I can't envision a scenario where the White House would make a similar joke about Islam. This is doubly true since Jones has a reputation has prominent Israel critic"
That would be a fair point, except that this is a joke about a Muslim (the Taliban who ends up being the butt of the joke) as much as it's a joke about a Jew. It's not a joke about Islam, but neither is it a joke about Judaism. It trades on stereotypes -- but of the Muslims as angry but impotent as much as of Jews as merchants and manipulators.
The stereotypes are doubtless offensive; but jokes are allowed to be offensive, if there's a serious point they can help us understand. The question is, did Jones have a point? Or was he just telling a joke?
I suppose this is the business of the day. Financial reform is not among my chief interests, but a citizen ought to try to develop a basic understanding of critical matters even where he is not interested in them. We do have to advise our representatives, and keep watch on them as well as we can.
So, here are two interesting pieces, and one comment:
This piece by an IMF 'old hand' was very interesting, and I think you should all consider it. We might discuss it here, to see how plausible his analysis is. If he's right, something like a 'bank tax' is nonsense; the banks are quite undercapitalized as it is. He recommends nationalization, bank breakup, and a turnover of our 'elites' in this society so that the US government is no longer captured by the financial industry. Radical stuff; but he says that other nations that have taken such radical measures have enjoyed rapid turnarounds. The US is unlikely to do so, because our financiers don't want to be turned out, and they control the government; plus, unlike many third world nations, we pay our debts in our own currency and can therefore simply print more of it. That way lies disaster, he says.
Another piece suggests that 'global rules' for capital might be in order. This is in keeping with the IMF hand's general concept that an internal US political solution would need to be more radical than Washington is likely to support. The bankers themselves were consulted, and here is where I would like to comment:
One participant at a US Federal Reserve meeting this month to discuss the new regime said “full and frank” did not do justice to the furious response from some industry delegates.Now that is very plausible, given Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Fourth Quadrant argument, which I find highly persuasive. Risk modeling in these cases is doomed to failure, if the 4Q argument is correct: thus, any reliance on 'sophistication of risk models' is overreliance.
The reaction from capital hawks was that a blunt backstop might be better than an overreliance on the sophistication of risk models and regulators. They also said banks would be given plenty of time to adjust to the new system, perhaps several years, to minimise the immediate impact on credit provision.
Sometimes blunt instruments are the right tool for the job; there are things one can do with a sledgehammer that cannot be done with a scapel. If you insist on using only the scapel, you will eventually fail at the task.
Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”But there were not ten. There was only one.
So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.”
And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it on account of the forty.” Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” And he said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.”
Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.”
The NYT has a piece today by a man who was once a Boy Scout, and remembers it fondly.
But we were keenly aware that being a Boy Scout allowed us to shoot guns, build fires and take overnight camping trips on our own. In every sense it was revenge of the nerds. You have a curve ball; I can hit a bull’s-eye with my .22.As might be expected from a writer for the Times, he ends up advocating that the Scouts should abandon certain traditional standards. Well, as to that, reasonable men can differ. Overall, a very nice piece.
We were bookish, but in nonacademic ways. My interests were fingerprinting, Native-American skills and customs, rock climbing, map reading, canoeing and marksmanship. All of those represented merit badges that I studied for and earned. My Indian Lore badge taught me more about that aspect of American history than I was learning at school. And this wasn’t warmed-over “cowboys and Indians” fare: from the beginning the Boy Scouts taught respect for Native Americans, their values, as well as reminders of their victimization — indeed, their genocide.
Stifled by the hearty and the homoerotic in jock culture, I found refuge in the Boy Scouts, and an outlet for my love of hiking and swimming and solitude. It was important for me to separate myself from my parents. While other mothers and fathers cheered on their children at ballgames, we were on our own — two or three of us on an all-day hike, or target shooting up at the Stoneham sandpits.
Even Scout camp involved minimal authority, and its relative chaos was salutary. I earned badges for rowing and sailing — skills that have served me to this day. My lifesaving badges and Red Cross certification not only got me jobs at ponds and swimming pools in the Boston area, but enabled me, over the years, to rescue a number of hapless swimmers.