Category Mistake

A category mistake or category error is applying reasoning that’s valid for a type of thing to another thing for which it is not valid. That’s how you get errors that aren’t even wrong, they’re about something else completely different.

Often the trolls who come by don’t seem to realize that, and are arguing things that make no sense for what we were discussing, like that long ago French kept man who thought that the big question is “But who is going to be in charge of what news get published?” While we, basically, just wanted the government to stop using its power to stomp on people speaking the truth.

I mean, he had other — severe — mental issues, but that one was the biggest category error of all. For him it was necessary to have someone in charge of what gets said and published, while we, nurtured on the first amendment, want everything to be said, and let the individual decide what’s believable. Which btw was why the other side of science fiction saying we wanted to silence them was jaw dropping — besides the fact that none of us had the power to silence anyone, even if we wanted to. Saying something sucks is our opinion, not silencing anyone — because we very much want them to be heard. The more they write the more the crazy is visible. We, personally, meanwhile, just want the same privilege.

Then there was the troll we dealt with recently whose main purpose seem to be to demoralize us, but he had no clue where American morale lies, so what he kept saying: our president (Eh. “President”.) sucks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster, and our political class is ruining the economy is all true. But that doesn’t touch what America is, only what is being done to it. (One can’t expect Russians to understand that.) So he was applying a category error, by thinking this blog would be the same as its equivalent in his homeland, and he could make us feel bad by saying what would make him feel bad about his country.

Or take the person who left me a comment (not approved, no.) saying he would contribute to my fundraiser if I promised to donate it all to my “beloved Ukranians.” (Yes, probably Reziac, [Reziac says it’s not him, and I believe him. Sorry to assume it was him without its being him, but the word choice was very similar. Anyway, it doesn’t matter much tot he point.] and I wonder what the heck is going on. Like so many people over the last few years, all I can say is “he used to be sane.) Apparently saying that Putin is a remnant KGB horror, bent on recreating the USSR and that he will continue to take over the former Russian sphere, if allowed to do so is the equivalent of “loving” the Ukraine, which we all agree, yes, is corrupt (All former communist countries are. It’s what it leaves behind.) This is not only a category error, but a philosophy error that consists of “If you don’t love a, you must love b” instead of “I don’t think we should fight on Ukraine’s side (or anyone’s side), we have problems of our own. I’m not comfortable with our massive financing of their defense (mostly because most of it isn’t even going to them, and what is going is not particularly coherent or well supervised. I mean, it’s probably better for them to have weapons than the Taliban, for whom we left weapons, but I’m still not comfortable beyond a bare minimum.) But Putin absolutely needs to be smacked on the nose, and he is a crazy person trying to recreate Russia’s past glory. (Heck, the EU is in the right on this, and this might be the only time you hear me say this about the EU. But I guess they feel the wolf nearer, and like Russia are sclerotic countries with low birthrate and high geriatric populations, for whom he is a much bigger threat.)

This is what RES often refers to as “Talking pussy while we’re talking bear.” (He meant the animal. Get your minds out of the gutter. Okay, fine, at least get them out of the ditch below the gutter.)

This morning, while I was trying to figure out what’s making my tomato plants not fruit (would you believe fungus? I finally figured it out.) I realized all of Marxism is a category error. This is not strange, since Marx came from a completely different society, and even there he was an odd duck who didn’t understand people, and privileged enough to not “get” human native intelligence and cunning.

I mean, even then it was a category error, even back then. While the class structure and the old/old families and fortunes of Europe seem powerful and forever immutable, they are not. That is just the surface they present, because if your entire system is based on “betters and lessers” with this being determined from birth, then you must pretend it is immutable.

But the fact is that the hemophilia that destroyed the royal families of Europe in the last two centuries came from a humble tailor in one of the German principalities. And the very blue blooded Princess Diana was distantly descended from a Shepherd (back in Shakespeare’s day. He became wealthy and married up, and then his children married up and then…. In three generations they were nobility, without this person ever having the kind of attainments that Shakespeare did, for that matter.)

It’s more common than anyone thinks about, even in the most hidebound society, even without involving things like extraordinary genius, or power, or a stroke of great luck, or even marital infidelity. (Though that too. It was said that the faces of Roman patricians often reflected those of famous gladiators of the past generation. I don’t know how true.)

This is because applying “classes” even to a hereditary “nobility and wealth” society is roughly the equivalent of applying something that works in categorizing wool skeins to live sheep. At best you get a temporary and static picture of something that is not even vaguely static.

Yeah, sure, humans inherit temperament as well as physical characteristics from their ancestors. But how that works out is not as clear as “tabby cats have a certain temperament.” We seem to toss out very deep throwbacks, so that a shiftless family with horrible work habits will throw out someone who is driven and with extreme abilities. (Let’s remember, though obviously ADHD as heck from his work history, Leonardo DaVinci was the son of the village bicycle and an accountant of no particular distinction, both of whom had numerous other children who left not a dimple in history.) And vice versa, for whatever reason, families of high achievement will every so often throw out someone who just can’t or don’t wanna.

I sniff at “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations” because it is a gross over-simplification, it’s rarely THREE generations, and it is rarely the WHOLE family. Just a branch of it.

But the “essential tenor” of the ancestry does tend to assert itself, at least in a free market society. (Immigrants from highly regimented societies are different, and might be unleashed by living in a free market. Maybe. There’s a lot that goes into that, including nutrition.)

Supposing the lack of success of a family came from anti-success habits: laziness, lack of planning, etc. you can get the one member who “does good” and marries above (usually a female, but not always.) And you often see the children evenly divided, half staying at the level to which the member elevated her/himself and the other half falling. Or they hold on for a couple of generations, but in the third half of them revert.

And the same way, you can see someone who “falls” for no reason that’s discernible or because of say an alcohol habit, or an injury, but one or two of his grand kids rise.

Understand I’m not talking of eugenics, or of genes as immutable destiny. If I were, I might very well support Marxism or another form of socialism, to compassionately give to those who through no fault of their own, were born unable.

The left is forever going on about our concentrating “smart genes” in some families, but in the whole history of humanity this has never in fact happened. (The fact they use “ivy league degree” as a stamp for “smart” is another category error.) Because as I said, humans seem to have a very scramble-able (totally a word) set of genes, or at least the genes for character traits are given greater leeway than in other animals.

I’m talking about how human genetics are unfathomable and scramble in bizarre ways, that without even considering the side effects of upbringing and the times people live in, the effects of new industries, and other changes in the environment which humans continuously inflict on themselves.

Every change in technology destroys and creates fortunes, and elevates and plunges families through “classes” (in the Marxist sense of ranks based on income. Though in the sense of born to it, too, because rich people tend to marry up in “social class.”) And human technology (way of doing things) is always changing, even in what seems to us now stagnant or has been miss-characterized as stagnant, such as the middle ages.

So what Marx was trying to do: “Equalize the classes” is meaningless. It’s the equivalent of your coming to the kitchen, finding dishes piled on the sink and deciding you’re going to go into farming chickens.

Because there are no “classes” not even in class-based societies. There’s only humans, and we’re smart and fractious apes, forever going up and down and all around, world without end.

Are injustices perpetrated? Sure. We’re humans, not gods or machines (and machines can make category errors. Oooh, boy, can they. Depending on what they were fed.) But there are also injustices fixed. And more importantly, most people are free to at least “pursue happiness” — i.e. try to improve their lot — and the more free the society, the less artificial classification going on, the better chance to catch that happiness.

So, the entire adored theory of the academics is a massive category error. It might apply to machines, or to trees, or something. I don’t think it even applies to most animals. And it most certainly doesn’t apply to humans.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE: We haven’t started fulfilling the pledges from the fundraiser, including the thank yous, because it’s still coming into the mailbox at a rate. We are told it’s coming in, but we haven’t gone to collect, so we don’t know if it’s the new-fun-mail delays, or people mailed late. (And the answer to that is still Thank You. People mail when they can.) There are also still donations coming into paypal, late but marked as part of the fundraiser (and again, the answer is Thank You. I took down the fundraiser so I didn’t bother people with it, not because I wouldn’t accept donations past it.)

At this rate, I will do the thank you post and start emailing and mailing things out the first week of August. Sorry for the delay. Best laid plans, etc.

241 thoughts on “Category Mistake

    1. Congrats on first post! Isn’t it a rare and strange thing?

      Despite an opportunity every day, I don’t think we have a class of first posters, though we certainly have some first-class posters.

      I leave to the reader to decide whether I meant that as a compliment or to indicate in true US Postal Service fashion that the comments are delivered late and mangled.

        1. But unlike DHL, it doesn’t run over people. [After the DHL truck bumped people twice in pedestrian crosswalks on campus, the word at Flat State U was “red and yellow will flatten a fellow” and everyone leaped out of their way. Or formed a fish-ball sort of thing and crossed en mass, on the hope that the driver wouldn’t want to total his truck.]

          1. “red and yellow will flatten a fellow”

            So, coral snakes with wheels and an uncharacteristically bad (for coral snakes) attitude? 🙂

  1. The ‘shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves’ in three generations is partially true in the sense that a commoner marrying nobility, has noble children but only eldest inherits the title unless the siblings also marry nobility or dad has multiple titles he is allowed to spread out through his children. The rest are just well-born commoners and their children are more likely to marry back into the commoner levels. They may still be well off and a “cut above” their commoner grandparent’s level but they are still technically commoners. That is how we’ve seen it in family history research.

  2. “Talking pussy while we’re talking bear.” Of course he meant the animal.

    However, pussy/bear, Category Mistaking, make me think of the old Alaskan saw as to what it took to made a cheechako (newcomer, tenderfoot) a sourdough.

    Basically the requirements were; one had to urinate in the Yukon River, Wrestle an Ursus arctos horribilis and have sexual congress with a far north aboriginal lady.

    So! Cheechako Skagway Sam, a cousin of Paul Bunyan, I suspect, traveled north, relieved himself in the Yukon hence raising the water level enough to free a sternwheeler stuck on a gravel bar ten miles downstream.

    He proceeded up the bank toward Eagle, found a seven foot tall at the shoulder grisly bear and chased her into a box canyon. After much screaming, wailing, thumping, bumping, fur and torn clothing soaring high above the rim of the canyon he came back out and said; “OK gents, where’s that Eskimo lady you want me to wrestle?”

    Yep, yep, yep, category mistaking and terribly inappropriate.

    1. The version I heard started off with drinking a quart of whiskey, rassling a polar bear and…

      Which would explain getting the last two mixed up. 😀

    2. 😀

      Also, gotta love that scientific nomenclature. Ursos Arctos Horribilis codifies the type of “holy crap, would you look at that…” response generally only given to creatures found in fossil form, and the Horrifying Northern Bear may deserve it. Grizzlies are one badass bunch of animals, that’s for sure.

      1. “Bear” means “the brown one.” You don’t want to speak the name of something so terrible.

        1. Then there is Russian “medved,” which means “the honey eater,” or I believe I’ve read that. Another euphemism, like saying “the kindly ones” or “the fair folk.”

      2. Except that “arctus” doesn’t mean “Northern.” It means “bear” in Greek. The Arctic is the place with bears, and the Antarctica is the place without bears. “North” in Greek is “boreas.” And of course, “ursus” is Latin for bear.

        So Ursus arctus horribilis is the Horrible Bear Bear.

        And more fun! The Germanic words for bear, like “bear” and “bruin,” aren’t related to the Indo-European word for bear. The leading theory is that they’re derived from the Germanic word for brown as a circumlocution for a taboo on the word “bear.” Speak of the devil and all that.

    3. I’ve heard that in song form.
      I even remember the song was titled “Pure Blood Alaskan”.
      But according to search engines, I’m completely delusional.

      So, a bit from Homer and Jethro, instead…

      I know an Eskimo named John
      He goes swimming with his overcoat on.
      (Oh, that’s terrible.)
      The coat is made of polar bear hide
      Still got the polar bear inside.
      (Oh, that’s terrible!)

        1. I vaguely remember another poem about the cremation of a hard-drinking Irishman. The highlight was how the pyre burned for a week and couldn’t be put out nohow. 😀

        2. I LOVE that poem! I’ve been know to quote parts of it at times (mostly to myself, true).

          My mother was given Louis Untermeyer’s “Yesterday and Today: A Comparative Anthology of Poetry” as a gift when she was in high school. (I can’t check the edition because it is in one of the 40 or so boxes of my books that haven’t been unpacked yet.) Anyway, sometimes in the evenings she would read these wonderful poems to us, a few of which I still have memorized. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” was right up there as one of my favorites.

          1. The Reader has a copy. Believe it or not, it was assigned reading for his 6th grade correspondence class when the Reader’s father was on field engineering assignment in southern Spain. That was the only time I appreciated poetry.

            1. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Terranova of blessed memory, tasked us with memorizing and reciting poetry. Every week, we had a new poem to memorize, and repeat the assigned stanza every morning. One of those poems was “The Cremation of Sam McGee” – and we recited the whole thing at a school assembly, accompanied by slides made from our drawings illustrating the epic.

  3. Back around the turn of the century, I traveled from California to Massachusetts to see my oldest friend on her fiftieth birthday. And while I was there, knowing what she like, she took me on a tour of used bookstores. (At one of them I picked up a fascinating book on rice cultivation economics . . .) So there I was in one big one, and they had an entire wall and a bit of literary criticism and literary history. I went over and looked at it, and scanned the titles, and I saw that about one-third were based on psychoanalysis, and one-third on Marxism. And I had a moment of something like vertigo, thinking that this was an entire scholarly discipline based on two theories of human beings that had no trace of scientific credibility.

      1. It’s like they’re all still rebelling against anyone, possibly from childhood, who answered their ‘declarations’ with Doubt and the words, “Prove it!” And yet… they don’t actually prove a damned thing, ever. Well, not of what they WISH to be believed.

  4. Which goes back to raising children. I didn’t raise any but our hostess did. OK we know that. But in her post the other day about raising kids she points out you can’t train a people as a set to do or be anything. You can’t even train a child to do that really. And that struck me really hard. I mean of course we know that, right? But the glaring fundamental obliviousness of a set of “betters” who would make that mistake about an entire species. Haven’t they ever even tried to raise a dog? Because even dogs don’t work that way and dogs are trying.

  5. Category: Adults

    People should be considered adults when they act like adults. On this basis, there will be adults of what some folks would consider absurdly young ages — while others will never grow up.
    Complex questions never have simple answers. Hell, most simple questions don’t have simple answers.

    1. And if you want adults in your society, you need to make society such that there are opportunities for them to prove they’re adults.

      1. A lot of them don’t need any particular opportunities to prove they’re not.
        If economists actually understood economics, they’d all be billionaires, and wouldn’t need to be supported by the government.

    2. Every complex question has a solution that is simple, cost-effective, and wrong.

      1. Another Mencken fan! The quote is: “For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution, and it is always wrong.”

    3. Eh, occasionally. “What is making this person show all these complicated symptoms?”

      But never bet on it. (Hickam’s dictum comes into play.)

    1. That “person” needs to be “schooled” in what living under the Taliban is really like. 😡

    2. Ah, but who is that dolt to believe she knows someone else’s “best interests”?

      Sounds like someone NEEDS to get out more, and not just to a different hoity-toity venue.

  6. No, that was not me. I have not attempted to comment here since the day you decided ad hominem attack was the correct way to disagree, and further, that disagreement was not actually allowed. Nor have I sent you any emails. (Tho I still skim through here, most days.) And it’s not like I’m hard to find, if you cared to ask (I own reziac dot com, fer ghu’s sake).

    But being tarred as the village scapegrace for what I did not do confirms that I was right to withdraw from all of this.

    1. Meh. It wasn’t the village scapegrace. I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking it as a personal offense we hadn’t piled on on “Putin is luverly.”
      As for disagreement was not allowed: Discussion requires actual proof, not “I read his ghost-written bio and he sounded luverly.”
      That’s all I’m going to say about it.

      1. I don’t know what Reziac has been saying here, but there’s something else I forgot about: A commenter named Fenrisulven accused you of unethical fundraising conduct in more than one comment thread at Instapundit. The word “grifter” was used. When told that he should take up his (dubious) complaint on your blog, he replied that he cannot because he had given you his word that he would never again post there. There’s not much for you to do about such people, but sometimes it’s good to be aware.

        1. There’s no one who’s ever given me his word he’d never post here again, so he’s a liar.
          And at any rate, WHY is the fundraising unethical? Most bloggers do it. Glenn doesn’t because he does heavy product placement.
          It’s all very well to do this for free when you have 50 readers and it doesn’t take much to keep the comments from imploding. When you have a couple thousand it’s a serious issue. And because I feel a responsibility, it’s been eating my life.
          This time, I did say that it wasn’t an emergency, and I didn’t force anyone to donate!

          1. “I didn’t force anyone to donate!”

            My only response to someone claiming you were doing that would be “Exactly how is this force to be applied? Were you born this stupid, or did that take training?”

            1. apparently the accusation is that I’m “mooching” because you know, you guys didn’t donate in reward for free services provided for years. (Rolls eyes.)

              1. Ignore the idiots. The “fractured Latin” comment applies: “Illegitimati non carborundum”.

            1. So not about this fundraiser, but about the last, when she needed money to remodel her game room. What the heck? Where did that come from?

              1. MY GAME ROOM? TF? I needed money to pay off loans we’d incurred trying to get the other house ready for sale, because it had taken so long we’d run through our resources and house was JUST going up.
                I think idiot confused me with someone else. For one, we’ve never HAD a game room. I don’t game and Dan hasn’t in years. Son has a laptop. We do have a library, but we’ve never “redone it.” It’s ikea bookcases withbooksonthem.

                  1. I mean I’m still embarrassed about getting in that trouble last year, but it had to do with unavailability of materials, being ghosted by contractors mid-job and contractors who made messes I had to do over.
                    All costing money.
                    And I’m very glad we overfunded, because it then took 5 months to sell, and sold much lower than we expected, for various reasons.
                    We didn’t go under BECAUSE it overfunded.
                    I’m embarrassed about it, but I wasn’t building a game room, or a swimming pool. Just trying to move 5 years before we even planned to think about it.

                    1. Ouch. You should listen to Victor Davis Hanson talking about the difficulties and cost overruns he is encountering doing a complete rehab of the farm house his great-grandmother built. Very interesting, in a painful way.

                    2. Not personally. Never knew the costs. But mid-’80s had a fellow Toastmaster give his “Humor” speech on the difficulties of rehabbing their century old farmhouse. First it was the insect infestation and rot. Then it was the wiring, then it was the plumbing, then it was the septic tank and field, then it was the chimney rock work, then it was (is there anything else?), plus items already on the planned rehab was always more extensive than foreseen (roof, floors, etc.) … It was hilarious by his presentation, in a very “ouch my pocketbook feels your pain”, and he never mentioned costs once.

                    3. It was horrible. I didn’t realize how depressed and exhausted I was till after the house finally sold.
                      And this partly propelled me to do this blog fundraiser, instead of continuing to do it for about 4k a year. I want to be prepared when bad stuff hits.
                      Most of the money I raised is going to go towards making more money from fiction writing and other endeavors. Or at least maximizing potential. Next time something hits I don’t want to have to spend six months trying to do heavy physical labor because the contractors are flaky.

                    4. > “But mid-’80s had a fellow Toastmaster give his “Humor” speech on the difficulties of rehabbing their century old farmhouse.”

                      Ouch. From the sound of it he might have gotten off cheaper knocking the place down and starting over.

                    5. Ouch. From the sound of it he might have gotten off cheaper knocking the place down and starting over.

                      This was the mid-80s (’85 – ’86). Now I know (I watch too much HGTV) anything pre-’70s, and even some post ’70s, it is almost a given that rehabs mean at a minimum, new roof, new wiring, new pipes, and probably new septic tank and field; gut to the studs. The really old stuff, baring rot and insects, the structure is sound and likely contains wood and beams that is the envy of most home builders today. Not that the guy giving the speech brought the good things up, because it was more along the lines of the old joke, of “Well, this happened”, “That’s bad!”, “No it’s good because that could have happened”, “That’s good”, “No, it’s bad, because then This happened”, and on down the line.

                    6. What little snippets I saw of the Simpsons led to me banning it in our house. I had had my fill of smart aleckitude from my younger brothers, and having my son take after Bart was a big Do Not Want.

              2. And some other idiot has joined the PJMedia thread (13 hours ago, when everything else is 4 months ago), pointing to this post. So, if anyone is paying attention to an old thread, you might get another influx of idiots here.

            2. I never read the comments. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I read them. I read them here, because I control who is admitted. (NOT as Reziac implied that I don’t tolerate dissent, in fact I’ve had some screaming matches with regulars — Hi Steve! — but I don’t tolerate unremitting malevolence. Or not for long.)

              1. “I never read the comments. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I read them.”
                –That reminds me of the people who angrily complain when an author refuses to read and critique their manuscripts. Which betrays cluelessness and/or selfishness.

                1. I get people asking all the time. I don’t have the time. I’m not a good judge for a lot of them. AND more importantly, I’m afraid they’ll get in my head, and I’ll inadvertently copy something. (Happens.)
                  I do try to read for friends and mentees, but I’ve been VERY BAD at it over the last five years, because we were perpetually outrunning the police (As my mom calls staying just ahead of expenses) due to two grown kids in very expensive training both of whom we were helping in SOME way, though not as much as we’d like to.
                  I was writing for PJ like a machine, (five articles a week, with revisions eat your life) doing this blog for the little bit it brought in, and grabbing every possible short story opportunity. And we never had the money to do the fixes the house needed when we bought at a deep discount. And some months we had NO idea where the money would come from for the mortgage.
                  I SHOULD have done a fundraiser five years ago. I didn’t because I was afraid it would be viewed as “begging.”
                  Ah, well. Trying to do better. And to establish my indie writing career, so it won’t get to that point again. And so that we can do the things THIS house needs. (It wasn’t a matter of buying cheap, but of needing to buy in a hurry. Them’s the breaks.)
                  Fortunately we have the money for the important stuff: air conditioning and heating, before the winter and before it breaks completely. (Keeps going in and out.)
                  I’d LIKE to redo the kitchen, which is a tiny an dark hole. We’ll see.

                  1. “before it breaks completely. (Keeps going in and out.)”

                    Sarah, PLEASE prioritize this. I don’t know where you are, but here I got a frantic call from my next door neighbor’s daughter (lives in MN) saying that her 90 year old father didn’t sound right.

                    We’ve been given spare keys, so I went over, got in, and found that sometime that day his AC had broken down, it was 98 in the house, and that stubborn old gentleman was in the first stage of heatstroke. We got Plano EMS out, they got him to the hospital (less than a mile away, Deo gratias), and he’ll be fine, but it doesn’t take long for this to catch you.

                    He’s going to have to get round the clock care, even though he’ll hate it.

                    1. Thank you. Read this to Dan. It’s now set for next week.
                      So far the main thing is it can be got going again by turning the electrical off and on again 10 minutes later. BUT the problem is that we can’t leave while it’s like this, because we risk baking the cats.

              2. > “I never read the comments.”

                I’m not sure what prompted me to read the comments here back when I followed Instapundit links to your blog posts years ago. But if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be a part of this community now.

        2. Incidentally, I didn’t even do what many bloggers do and say “If I don’t fund, blog will go away.” Because I KNOW and you know it’s not true.

  7. “But Putin absolutely needs to be smacked on the nose,”

    Ah! That daydream of me walking into a live, world-televised, public speech by Putin to the U.N., and smacking him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, scolding him for being a bad boy, and dragging him out by his ear.

    1. Dragging him out of the UN? Wouldn’t it be better to wall off the UN with Putin and the other scum inside?

              1. Hmm possibly, though the possibility of Skynet having robot killer sharks (with or without lasers) seems to argue against it.

        1. Or add a pack of hungry wolves. Or toss violent illegals in with them. Or just leave them to starve.

          1. TheOtherSean you’re onto something here. Only throw down quinoa chips and crickets, and school lunches as defined during the Obama administration. Then stand at the edge of the pit eating juicy hamburgers and french fries and hot fudge sundaes. To quote from W.S. Gilbert
            My object all sublime
            I shall achieve in time —
            To let the punishment fit the crime —
            The punishment fit the crime;
            And make each prisoner pent
            Unwillingly represent
            A source of innocent merriment!
            Of innocent merriment!

      1. Putin running around free would be a small price to pay for getting rid of the abomination that calls itself the UN.

  8. I am reminded that the concept of “regression to the mean” arose because the children and grandchildren of those who excelled were rarely more exceptional than their other forebears.

    The concept of Marxism as category error deserves further development.

  9. The topic of “category error” reminded me of a call-and-response that my high school friends used to love, oh so many decades ago:

    Q. What’s the difference between a duck?

    A. 7, because fish can’t ride bicycles.

      1. True, now that I think about it. It WAS many decades ago, in my defense. Still, I like my answer. (As I recall now, I think we phrased it, “One of its legs is both the same.”)

  10. Prof. Greg Clark, economist, and a dedicated genealogy researcher, wrote The Son Also Rises, dealing with the persistence of status and wealth through generations in several countries…He found that status often lasts far more than 3 generations, or even 10 generations, even if wealth doesn’t necessarily last that long…And it’s true that every President has been descended from the Kings of England, not more than 6 times removed..Andrew Jackson was regarded as an upstart by the blue bloods, but he met that test…So social mobility isn’t as great as we would have wished it…..

    1. Darling? Most of us are descended from the kings of England no more than six times removed. WHAT are you talking about, precisely?
      Also, tracing one line is not all lines.
      Status? Yes, my grandfather, a barefoot carpenter had men doff hats to him because of mom’s many time’s ancestor. A reflexive gesture that did nothing for anything.
      You can believe that bullshit if it gives you pleasure, but I bet that he tracked SOME descendants through the generations, because others were lost in the muck.
      Remember “all people of European ancestry are related no more than six generations back.” Which lends itself to a never end of that type of bullshit of “class is genetic.”
      It’s crap of the rankest sort

      1. Well, I missed the boat on that one–no Kings of England going way back.We have genealogy back to the 15th century..But English nobility has often remained noble for several centuries, assuming they bothered to reproduce….Clark notes that the Japanese Samurai, stripped of rank 150 years ago, are still very overrepresented in the Japanese government…But maybe they just had good genes…That would be the alternate explanation.

        1. Dan and I both have it. So do SEVENTY FIVE percent of Americans. I also have a French king.
          You do realize your genealogy is one line, two at most? NO ONE CAN HAVE ALL. Think about it. You’ll understand it.

          1. Learn something new everyday. Today I learned my grandfather help engineer Highway to the Sun, Glacier National Park (already knew he was the primary engineer for parts of hwy 101 through Oregon). Also learned that Charlemagne’s youngest daughter married into the same grandfather’s paternal line, X centuries ago.

            Wedding reception for a cousin today. One of our co-aunts is ancestor keeper/researcher of both her parents genealogy. Sigh. When fill out scholarships for our son, the ones wanting genealogy back through great-great-grandparents, was easy for my side. His dad’s side OTOH, couldn’t get past hubby’s parents.

            1. Your grandfather and his colleagues did great work. Going to the Sun Road is a masterpiece, and truly one of my top 5 drives anywhere. Alas, it opened several weeks later than average this year due to greater than usual snowfall and extended cold spells, so despite being only a couple hours away from it for my wife’s family reunion, we had to give it skip on our most recent Western trip. In fact, it tied for the latest opening ever, grand opening excepted. I blame Global Cooling.

              1. Came up in a discussion because aunt, at 81, wants to drive over the road, then take one of the red shuttle buses over it. All because her dad help build it. I’ve been over it 3x’s now. The last one Fall 2019 on our way to Banff. Wanted to stop at Logan Pass. Well we did circle the parking lot, 8 AM, not only the lot was full but all the roadside “parking” was full clear down to the tunnel on the east side; um no thanks. We were going to go again this July, but sister and BIL bailed on the trip to Banff (not our preferred time to go, but …). We are still looking to go to Banff/Jasper this Sept/Oct, but haven’t made reservations.

                I know it was really late opening this year. Between that and the flooding in Yellowstone, it has been an interesting Global Warming Cooling summer. Eugene still hasn’t had any heat to speak of. It just stopped raining two weeks ago …

                1. I camped at Glacier at the end of May, 1974. The highway was open for maybe a mile; and the 3′ bank across the road where the plows stopped was sufficient to put an end to that route. All of my subsequent cross country trips have been well south of there, though I took I-90 in 1990 heading to a family reunion in the Midwest.

                  My body isn’t up to long road trips, and the Ridgeline is not a desirable tow vehicle* for the travel trailer, so going over the Sun highway won’t go on my bucket list.

                  (*) It was better suited to the Coleman tent trailer, but the roof died on it–seems to have been a major reason why such are no longer available. OTOH, we have specific uses for the big trailer, though travel isn’t a major one.

                  1. One tows nothing over the Highway to the Sun. Buses, other than the Park Service ones, not allowed. No motorhomes. Some (regular) trucks and vans not allowed as they are over length. Duellys’ not recommended. Pickups with campers (not canopies) not recommended (tunnels do have a height limit).

                    Note. I really do not like driving West to East. Oh the views are better, without actually getting out of the vehicle. For degrees of better. Personally I don’t like looking straight down, a long ways down (over the short rock wall), from the passenger seat.

                    1. I grew up in a couple of flat states, but Dad would take us to various places on vacation. Mom absolutely hated riding shotgun when the edge of the road lead to a dropoff of more than a few feet. I got a strong reminder of this several years ago, when we drove south on US-97, along Klamath Lake. Just the dropoff to the rail tracks (15-25 feet, maybe. I don’t like that route for other reasons, especially in Midge season), but Mom was not a happy passenger.

                      When I left Glacier for Spokane, I took the southern route. Was glad the VW was on the inside of the cutout; the dropoff on the other side was impressive. OTOH, the tendency of the Bug to pop into neutral on a steep downhill didn’t arise until I drove through San Francisco. Made my first impressions of Frisco way too interesting.

                    2. Yes. Highway to the Sun isn’t the only place the “very long drop off occurs”. A few others: 1) Coming out of NE Entrance of Yosmite past the dam, 8% grade on top of that. 2) Hwy 58 headed up to the pass, through the tunnel and past Salt Creek Falls, but can’t “see” unless really look. OTOH have to be really unlucky to make it all the way down to bottom, very large trees and west side brush are good for that. 3) Rainer headed up to Hurricane Ridge.. 4) Tetons, road up to Signal Mountain (parking at the top of Signal Mountain? OMG!) 5) West side of Old McKenzie Hwy 242. Latter 3 have similarity to Salt Creek Falls western approach, not likely to reach bottom for the trees, not very visible, but the latter 3 the switchbacks might give a hint, or two. 6). Then there is the back highway that hits the Utah National Parks, and Dead Horse State park. 7) Or Beartooth Pass and the 8) south entrance to Yellowstone from the Tetons. The problem with those three, like Highway to the Sun, there is very little between you and the bottom, and it is a long, long, way down. Worse, Beartooth and Utah highway system, both the driver and shotgun positions can be saying “wow it is a long way down” at the same time, while looking out their own windows … as the road goes down the spine of a ridge. These, by far, aren’t the only ones I know of, just the ones off the top. Let’s just say as the one generally in the shotgun position, the OMG handles get a workout, and I’m surprised there are not indentations. Also, having witnessed a car roll off of a pull off parking area on the Iceland Parkway in Canada, we might both tend to the vehicle is in park and double check the parking break, when we get out for pictures, etc.

                    3. Utah 12 from Bryce National Park to Capitol Reef National Park is another of my top 5 drives, but there are a few stretches that are a little stress inducing courtesy of the drop-offs.

                    4. Yes. Utah 12 is the drive I’m talking about. Last time we drove it, we drove it north. Just as terrifying.

                    5. Took a bus ride into Denali National Park.(Tip: the regular “bus,” is less plushy than the tour bus but the drivers are knowledgeable, they will stop on request for photo-ops, and it costs a lot less). There’s a “good,” drop-off on that route coming back. As in, “look straight down from the bus window how far?” “good”.

              2. We’ve worked projects in the area twice, and both times it was too early to drive more than a few miles. Really hope third time’s the charm.

                1. Easy to be too early or too late. After all Montana brags about it’s two seasons. Winter and Construction. Not long after we went over in 2019, Aug 1st (ish), the full east access closed for construction maintenance. Open to Logan Pass on the west side, but not on the east side. Could come in east side, don’t remember how many miles were open (after all it was an “oh, wow” moment but didn’t actually affect us, so didn’t pay attention). When we were there in 2019, the Many Glacier road was in horribly bad condition just to the gate, plus there was a huge line to get in. Parking lot was full, so unless were registered at campground, vehicles weren’t let in unless another vehicle came out. We bailed without going in (Glacier was a spontaneous detour of the trip). Good thing we did as the closest border crossing on the east side keeps hours. We might not have made it to our reservation for the first night in Banff.

                  FYI 2022 Arches went to Timed Entry because of this problem regularly occurred in 2021. Not 100% sure if Arches has a season where the timed entry is used as while colder, in the winter, Arches is open and reasonable (temperature) year round. Arches was busy when we were there February 2015. It was “Chilly” but we wore shorts. Now Brice was I’m not kidding, C O L D, same trip.)

                  1. My first trip to Glacier was a day trip from Calgary on the 2013 summer solstice. I was in Calgary on a business trip and since the daylight lasts so long had been planning to go to Banff Friday after work, before flying back to the US in the morning. Flooding made it inadvisable to head to Banff, so I crossed back into the US by car and visited Glacier in the early evening. It was the first day Going to the Sun Road was completely open for the season, and it was breathtaking, especially in the golden light. I made it back across the border with about ten minutes to spare! If I had missed the crossing I’d have missed my flight back to the US the next morning.

                    1. 2019, we got to the border crossing at 2 PM, about 3 cars back. We sat there for 3 (three) hours!!!! Worse on the way home. We came back down the parkway and took Hwy 1 west, figuring it would be “faster”, than the back road highways … We should have taken one of the further eastern entrances into Washington. Traffic was horrible. Last 2 hours was at 15 – 30 MPH (do not ask me KPH, IDK). Lots, and lots of traffic, the pickup/RV freshly off the road in the blackberries, more or less on it’s side didn’t help (ouch, too plausible scenario unfortunately). Border signs write close at 6 PM, but thank goodness they don’t/didn’t(?). Sunday Night. “Sat” in line in the car for 90 minutes at the border. First time it took that long … Oh, wait, that is because we normally took the semi/RV line, which was empty. Five lanes for vehicles, and they sooo were not empty. We’d originally planned on stopping once we were across the border, gas, food, lodging, for the night. Realized, um, deal with Monday morning greater Seattle/Olympia traffic? Oh Hell No. So we headed south, did get gas (kind of had to). Once we got to Longview, the rest the way home was automatic … 16 hours later … GAH. Nope, never again. (We Will Stop The OMG Marathon Run Home! We Will — Until the next time. Grrrrr)

          2. I have ancestors who were French nobility: Got their patent of nobility for hosting a muster of troops for a Crusade, as I recall. Lost everything in the French Revolution and had to flee to America and start over. Scattered all over the Midwest and California, living poor to modest lives. Grandmother grew up on a farm in Iowa, very poor. But they’re still making wine on the old estate in France–kept the family name even though the family is gone. Contrary to what “woke” fools seem to think, I have never thought myself at all superior because of that ancestry; it’s only an interesting bit of history which adds a frisson of personal connection to events for which I can claim neither credit nor blame.

        2. The samurai families are “overrepresented” because they (and daimyo families) were the ones with the education expected for Meiji bureaucrats — ie, not a merchant’s education, but a scholar’s. As time goes on, you see merchant families becoming the heads of corporations, which became zaibatsu family/business groups. Similarly, the yakuza “clans” are overrepresented in traditional yakuza industries such as entertainment, because the yakuza still run them and provide “protection.”

          You are confusing genetics with actual historical happenings.

          Now… mind you, a lot of old Japanese families are related through adopting or adopt-marrying each other’s kids into family lines without male heirs. But also, there’s been a lot of adoption of brilliant young men without any important clan background, because they want to incorporate smartypants kids into their families instead of letting new families rise in importance. (Which means that sometimes a related family also adopts the brothers or even the sisters of the first smartypants to get adopted. All spread out, not enough to become a power bloc or cause fighting, but providing a clear benefit for everyone. Ideally.)

          1. But the biggest reason the Japanese seem to all be so smart is that they get worked like dogs as kids in school, and also that the last couple hundred years has seen a drastic change in the quality and calorie value of the diet of the common people, and even of the rich.

          1. Every American president was descended from King John — except for Martin van Buren.

              1. Compared to Temujin he was a recluse. IIRC, someone calculated that, to a number nearly indistinguishable from 100%, everyone in Europe (which would include New World transplants) in his descendant; 1000+ children tends to do that in 800 or so years…

                So, ready to reestablish the Golden Horde? 🙂

            1. It is claimed they were also all descended from Mohamed.
              What no one is keeping track of is how many people are descended from various kings, and go nowhere.
              Also, and incidentally — are you sure about Van Buren? Because as I said NO genealogy tracks all lines. And say 2000 years back we’re all descended from just about everyone.

              1. I report, I did not research.

                Van Buren was also the only president whose native language was not English

    2. I’ve got some hoity-toityness on my Dad’s side, and I can assure you the status and whatnot never amounted to much more for any of them but some swollen heads on useless morons and a cool family crest.

    3. I’m pretty certain that everyone who can trace Western European ancestry back to the Early Modern Era has some of Charlemagne’s genes in them. Beyond that? Eh, it’s an interesting hobby, and useful if “interesting” medical stuff pops up, but pedigree’s not that important.

      1. Part of it, seriously, is that I KNOW how much I share with my fourth cousins — probably connected back a century and a half ago — and it’s a PERCENTAGE OF A GENE.

  11. “Apparently saying that Putin is a remnant KGB horror, bent on recreating the USSR and that he will continue to take over the former Russian sphere, if allowed to do so is the equivalent of “loving” the Ukraine, which we all agree, yes, is corrupt”
    I run into the “but Ukraine is corrupt” pseudo-argument rather often.
    It reminds me of when Saddam invaded Kuwait: We did not fight Gulf War 1 because the Kuwaitis were noble, pure, freedom-loving folks from Mayberry RFD. We fought because Saddam was worse and because the regional consequences of an expanded Iraq would have been dire.

      1. Plus: why is it better for NATO to fight and risk casualties against Russia directly, rather than give Ukraine weapons which are approaching their use-by date and have them do the fighting and dying?


        1. He might not imagine that France is Historical Greater America.

          Macaroon would probably sell out the rest of Europe if he thought he could.

            1. There’s a certain amount of shall we say “schadenfreude” in pointing out to my overly smug German acquaintances and relatives that their great “green” energy plan that depended on Russian gas along with “green” windmills that don’t work 100% of the time. (But Larry! The Russians are just unwashed peasants like you Americans!)

              Not to mention that their bragging about overly generous employee benefits that never extended to their foreign subsidiaries. Or their complaining about “racist” United States while they nitpick their own citizens surnames for Germanic purity.

              Damn “superior” European fools are stuck in the same liberal neocon WEF NWO “elitist” trap along with the rest of the world. Ha!

          1. Argh. Typo.

            Putin may not imagine France is Historical Greater Russia.

            1. Which country caused Napoleon Bonaparte’s downfall?


              It was Napoleon’s 1812 campaign that destroyed his army, and allowed the European powers to defeat him in the subsequent campaigns. The British and Prussian victory at Waterloo could have never come about if the Russians had not chased Napoleon and his armies out of Russia!

              As a result, France belongs to Russia by right of military victory.


          1. Ukraine brought it on, by wanting to join NATO, you see?

            Ah, now all of this comes into much clearer focus; and without me being non-lazy and trying to search out and read the original, in-time text of this particular… dispute.

            What I recognize here is a familiar argument from some weeks ago, the one that usually ends up using the tag phrase, sooner or later, “poking the bear.” The invasion is the fault of the Ukraine not being deferential or cooperative or innocuous enough, towards Russia, because ‘they are a buffer state and that’s what buffer states who want to survive know they have to do’ (or assorted realpolitik-laced words to that effect).

            The (big, but half-hidden) problem with that viewpoint (which I’ve seen repeated in some places, like Uncover DC, that truly ought to know better and 99+% of the time actually do) is simply that it’s utterly incompatible and irreconcilable with the whole idea and doctrine of “post-Communist Russia’s new role in the world” that so much of the West’s words and deeds have been based on, after the Fall of the Soviet Union.

            Russia, under Putin or anyone else, can be The Old Scary Soviet(-sikh) Bear in the Woods — which you dare to ever anger in any way only at your peril, possibly mortal peril, as a person, leader, or nation. Just as much as their actual military or other aggression can or does enforce.

            Or it can be the non-Evil Empire that you can trust, sort-of, not to simply reach out and grab what it wants in any direction whenever and however the gettin’s good. It can be part of the (cough!) “family of nations” and get treated far better than some scary bear from the dark back woods.

            It cannot be both, under Putin or anyone else. Yet I’ve waded through whole articles (not within a few weeks of now, though) that seem to talk as if it somehow can be both neo-Soviet and post-Soviet at the same time.

            Which is really giving the Big Scary Bear not only a lot more deference, but a lot more cover and implicit if hidden support, that the old “right of conquest” doctrine really deserves here. And those who advance it need to understand that giving the Ukraine invasion their own (even tacit, conditional, and incomplete) support may end up doing their little bit to help bring about the next Russian invasion of a neighbor, or the one after that.

            Not gonna join that parade.

              1. The classic “You forced him to commit murder! You didn’t suicide fast enough!”?

          2. Applying the old Great Power rules and spheres of influence and all that stuff that went out of style a century ago, there might be some basis for such a claim. Oddly enough, most of the people wanting to apply such rules to excuse Russian and Chinese misdeeds also seem to scream the loudest anytime the US applies the slightest diplomatic or economic pressure, even to neighbors. OTOH, all the crap the globalists spouted from 1918 until now either screams about national sovereignty (less so now) and/or the importance of pacific resolution of disputes and international standards of behavior, neither of which are compatible with letting Russia invade and dismember its neighbors.

      2. I’d add that I’m pro-Ukraine in this fight because Russia invaded them, and not the other way around.

        If Ukraine had invaded Russia, or even a Russian puppet state like Belarus, I’d be cheering the Russians on. (And to clarify “invaded”, I mean violating the current territorial sovereignty of Russia, not just controlling territory that Russia thinks belongs to it because the czars or Stalin conquered it.)

    1. Dire for citizens of Kuwait.
      A threat to Saudi Arabia.
      And a strengthened counterweight to Iran.

      I supported the war, but am no longer convinced I was right to do so.
      (In fact, the demonstration of US weapons systems being superior to Russian weapons systems right before the USSR was teetering between exploding and imploding might have been the sole saving grace. If, in fact, that had an impact on implosion occurring instead of explosion, which is a counter factual we can’t actually test.)

    2. The State Department/Rand Corp. plan is to break Russia up into multiple countries, and that is why all that US support exists, along with all the US “advisors” directing the war itself…Rand has also noted that the Ukraine is controlled by a handful of ruthless oligarchs, and concludes that it is the most corrupt country in the world, a tough feat to achieve!

      1. Russia is part of the American sphere of influence the way the Ukraine is part of the Russian sphere of influence.

        Beyond that, it is a) very unlikely that States thinks coherently that far in advance b) if state has any coherent institutional thought, it probably falls into the category of ‘it is nice to have dreams’. That chunk of the bureaucracy is deep into wishcasting idiocy, and is now in dire need of an ‘America’ desk. c) Rand almost certainly does not have a seat on the ad hoc committee making decisions in Biden’s name. If it aligns with any of the factions under Biden, it would be because of one of Biden’s backers buying a bunch of influence at Rand. d) The Democrat/Deep State ‘plan’ to seize power in the US is a shambles dominated by extremely short term thinking. They sure as hockeysticks do not have a better plan created for a foreign policy ‘goal’ that is much less important to them. Certainly, the only opportunity they have was entirely a result of Putin’s screw ups, and not at all something that they could have planned for or controlled.

        There is no mystery to the real explanation of ‘US’ ‘goals’ driving involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

        Biden is a senile figurehead, and nobody has control over the government that his backers assembled. Different bureaucracies and positions are held by different factions, and there is no one in the executive branch with effective control over the factions.

        Biden’s initial preference was for Russia to win, and was initially able to convey that preference, and have it acted on.

        But, DoD is a Lloyd Austin faction.

        Lloyd Austin was basically appointed SecDef because he was the wokest, stupidest shithead in the defense industry.

        No matter how woke and stupid he is, pretty much all his friends and business associates are either defense industry or serving military. And he, following Biden’s orders, massively damaged the business fundamentals of the defense industry with the Afghanistan debacle. Giving crap to Ukraine is a justification to get congress to spend a bunch of money on the defense industry. Either the defense executives think that they can use the current windfall to tide them through a bunch of lean years, or they are just ‘busting out’ the whole industry.

        US is giving missiles to the Ukraine, because Lloyd Austin can get congress to fund buying more missiles, and he wants to buy a lot of missiles because he used to work for Raytheon, and Raytheon makes missiles. This is purely domestic politics, and is a result of the unforeseeable event of Ukraine holding out. Ukraine held out because it used an absurdly short period of time to build a military that wasn’t junk. Lots of countries have been sent a lot of US advisors, and still have militaries that are junk. Any country actually listening to the Americans, and managing to comprehend, is basically like a Black Swan event in rarity and foreseeabilty.

        I know that Russian intel pretty much has to explain every event as being a superintelligent American plan. This is not the case here. Americans are basically operating stupidly. It very much looks like most of the serious strategic thinking for this conflict has been done in other countries, not here. The story here is pretty much purely Russian stupidity, tyranny, mistakes, and screw ups. Ukraine recovered more than Russia from the USSR, because Putin’s totalitarianism did continuing harm to Russia.

        And, frankly, the basic strategic calculation was never in favor of Russia taking Ukraine by pure force of arms. Ukraine is a third of Russia’s size in population. General rule of invasion is that you want six to one advantage in forces. If the equipment and armed forces skill were at parity, that basically would mean that the two countries are at too close to parity for a military conquest and occupation against real resistance. But, equipment and armed forces skill seems to have been initially wildly in favor of the Ukrainians. So, the Russian invasion was a massive screw up, that could not have been predicted or controlled from the outside.

        An American with a plan that is ‘wait for Russia to fuck up everything’, who is trying to get government backing for carrying out that plan, is a very stupid American. If Rand or any other think tank was trying to sell such a plan to the feds, the Feds should probably stop buying analytical products from them, or at least significantly decrease the purchases.

        1. That makes entirely too much sense. You’re scaring me.
          And I’m really, really glad I’m not still working for the Army.

            1. The Russians think people who are not malnourished are actually super soldiers created by the maddest of mad science. Apparently.

          1. Dear Lord, have they been reading David Weber? (The Final War, which led to the creation of the Solarian League, was provoked, in part, by Ukranian nationalists creating “super-soldiers,” then the Chinese successor state went one better, and well….).
            That bit of background was written a few years ago, so no way for Weber and Flint to know this business was coming up.

            1. Ah, but maybe the Ukrainians read Weber, and thought, “Huh… Well, why not?” 😉

              (And for anyone who thinks this is a serious proposition, I have a cluestick plant growing on the Arizona seaside…)

              1. Do you still think that there’s any idiocy some government idjit won’t try?

                  1. …and by current knowledge. It may be possible at some future time to manipulate genetics so as to make “super soldiers” at least a possibility, but we ain’t anywhere near there yet. And given the propensity of the Left to go with “I want it, therefore it is” or, if you prefer, “belief is reality”, they sure as perdition won’t ever get there.

                  2. Sarah, my worry is never about what they can achieve by ability; it’s the collateral damage to everyone else when they try.

            2. I have a vague recollection that the super soldiers in the distant past of the Heavy Gear setting (the super soldiers that are a minor setting footnote for players… until the hints start dropping that their descendants are actually the mysterious nomads hiding out in the very inhospitable and deadly white sands) were also from Russia. And the CEF government that rules Earth – the one that developed the cloned purple-skinned GREL super soldiers based off of partial data from the earlier super soldiers – are definitely from part of what is now Russia.

              Seems to be a thing for that part of the world.


          2. OK, I can’t resist inflicting this on everybody:

            [to the tune of ‘Stink-Foot’ by Frank Zappa]

            Wellll, my Tinfoil Hat was too tight
            I couldn’t get it off last night
            A week went by and now it’s July
            I finally got it off and my roommate cried,
            “You got Lame-Brain!
            Lame-Brain, buddy
            Your Lame-Brain puts a hurt on my head
            Lame-Brain, Lame-Brain, I ain’t lyin’
            Can you still think, or are your brain cells dead?”

        2. Last year, I referred to the SecDef as a graduate of the Nathaniel P. Banks School of Military Operations. I may have been too generous. The US military is starting to look like an ice sculpture in Phoenix in July. One of my more fantastic speculations about the future has been the possibility of an overthrow of the US government by an angry mob of illegal immigrants from Mexico. It’s looking less fantastic all the time.

        3. “But, equipment and armed forces skill seems to have been initially wildly in favor of the Ukrainians. So, the Russian invasion was a massive screw up, that could not have been predicted or controlled from the outside.”
          Blogger Trent Telenko (who mostly writes about war in terms of logistics) has said that after Ukraine’s defeat in the first Russian invasion, the Ukrainians took a serious objective look at their failures and completely rethought their strategy and tactics. The result was massive program of building bunkers and other defensive structures, an emphasis on drones and distributed command & control, and a focus on targeting Russian supply and command–destroy trucks and bridges and rail lines and supply depots because even the most advanced weapons are useless without ammunition and fuel and command and intelligence. The results took the Russians by surprise–and also the Americans to some extent, even though (if I understand correctly) America had been helping the Ukrainians train. But one of the frustrations of following the war is that it’s hard to know what sources of information can be trusted: Who has accurate information? Who is scrupulously honest?

          1. Also, Russia had pretty poor logistical capability even before the Ukrainians began blowing parts of it up. Here’s an article discussing the Russian logistical capabilities in the framework of a hypothetical invasion of either the Baltic States or Poland. Note that it was published in November of last year, and so was written before the current propaganda push from both sides of the Ukraine invasion started.


        4. The early part of the timeline that you describe matches speculation I’ve posted here and elsewhere. Biden’s “minor incursion” comment, coupled with the offer to evacuate Zelensky (which would have caused the collapse of the government) have led me to believe that Biden tacitly consented to the invasion.

          I can’t comment on reasons why the administration reversed course. But it seems clear that the administration’s pre-invasion policy doesn’t match the current policy.

          1. There is a probable reason for the u-turn:

            Once a few days had passed and the Russian hail mary plays had failed everyone in NATO realized “woah! we can totally take them!”. Then they thought about it some more and realized “oh crap; we can effortlessly curbstomp Russia”.

            Which is a problem when you are dealing with a (putative) nuclear armed power who insists on being a bully.

            After that the strategy became pin down and bleed Russia white while they are fighting in a non-NATO country, so NATO never has to risk nukes.

            1. It’s a theory. But that’s the problem – it’s just a theory. And unfortunately, while we can guess at reasons why the administration appears to have made an about face on the invasion of Ukraine, there hasn’t been any
              evidence (that I’m aware of, anyway) suggesting why the administration suddenly about-faced.

              And, of course, I’m sure that the administration is making very sure to project an image that the administration has always supported Ukrainian independence, purely because it supports those freedom-loving Ukrainians.

              It’s possible that the US wants to bleed Russia white. It’s also possible that Bob is right about SecDef. And it’s also possible that Zelensky managed to get sole possession of something so damning regarding participation in corruption in Ukraine that it would bring down multiple Western governments if it were brought to light.

              Or it could be a combination of those three, and something else entirely.

              1. One thing this theory has going for it is that it comes from an ex-spook. So at bare minimum even if it were a deliberate falsehood it reflects the way they think.

              2. also possible that Zelensky managed to get sole possession of something so damning regarding participation in corruption in Ukraine that it would bring down multiple Western governments if it were brought to light.

                If so. I really hope he has it some place that if he goes down, it is triggered on release, multiple outlets, so it can’t be stopped, or discredited, ever.

        1. What comes out of the rear-end of a bull smells better than that. 😉

      2. Not only is taht Bullshit, that’s bullshit on stilts. Russia is not really divisible. They might fear that, but they’re paranoid, and we’ve long ago established you’re if not one of them close kin, haven’t we?
        As for Ukraine, yes, there are corrupt RUSSIAN gangsters trying to control it, and the Ukrainians don’t like it. Yes, they are also corrupt, but hey.

  12. ? Hemophilia didn’t become in the royal families of Europe until Victoria’s descendants. Last I heard the assumption the gene was a spontaneous mutation in her dna or her mother’s. Considering that women are carriers and men display the illness, I find it difficult to understand how some tailor with the illness lived long enough to have an affair with a woman of rank and introduce it into the German nobility.

      1. Okay, that makes more sense. I’m kind of chronically agnostic about the stuff scientists and historians are putting out there, so year’s why my eyebrows went up. Thank you.

        1. The issue is the same for both, and for other “experts”; if either a scientist or an historian says “This is absolutely correct; there can be no valid contradiction.”, back away slowly from the incompetent loon.

      2. Like a lot of genetic things that affect Men more than Women Hemophilia is damage to a sequence that is on chromsome 23 (X or Y). It is also a recessive trait. Basically there are two variants that cause the person to NOT be able to generate one of two clotting factors (VII or IX). Because females have 2 X chromosomes BOTH would have to be of the damaged type for them to show hemophilia. However, any male child they bear has a 50% chance of having the affliction (depending on which of Moms X chromosomes he gets). For a female to show hemophilia her father would HAVE to be a hemophiliac and her mother would have to be a carrier. Given survival of hemophiliacs past ~20 was almost unheard of before we understood factors VII and IX and how to extract them in 60’s this had little chance of happening.

        1. No. The female didn’t show hemophilia, but all her male offspring had it, which didn’t prevent her daughter marrying up, and so forth.
          Look, I read the book on this (And it was reliant on official genealogy so heaven knows) like 20 years ago. I’ve slept since then.
          It could have been this guy’s granddaughter or great granddaughter, even. I don’t know. But that’s apparently how it came in.

          1. Right damage to a single X chromosome would only make her a carrier (gene is recessive). As she’s got to X chromosomes each male child would have a 50/50 shot at conception of being a hemophiliac receiving that X. However that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have all hemophiliac sons, sometimes you get N heads of a coin flip in a row by pure chance if the number of sons get high chance gets smaller. Could also be something wrong with the other X chromosome (e.g. Fragile X) and so sons carrying that X might not make it to full term yielding 100% hemophiliac sons. Either way she was an unlucky woman poor thing.

  13. Speaking of bizarre errors made by leftists: Did you know that we need socialism to End War? And that socialism is the Only Way that we can Save the Earth? Those pearls of wisdom were recently posted by one of those wise Minneapolis leftists, which helps to explain the city’s predicament.

    1. Don’t you know, the answer to every burning social question is Socialism? Myself, I tend to agree with Mencken: “Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

      1. When X is peddled as the solution to every problem, you know that X is a solution to nothing.

        1. And to get all geeky: Marxism is one of those theories which is non-falsifiable: According to its own rules, it cannot be tested and proven wrong because every outcome can be explained away.
          So: Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people. And lazy people. And dishonest people.

            1. Yep, in spades. I’d also point out that “theory” in this sense has the common definition of “a WAG I thought up” (a good description of Marxism, BTW), rather than the rigorous scientific meaning of “a testable hypothesis which has been tested and not disproven, and which makes testable predictions”. Technically, if a conjecture is not falsifiable in principle it cannot be a scientific hypothesis.

            1. Ya know, at this point, it would be hard for the NYT to surprise me. Appall, dismay, occasionally horrify, but not surprise. Sweet shivering Shiva.

              1. “We like humans too! Let’s trade recipes!”

                Some days it’s not worth chewing through the restraints….

              2. I confess it surprised me. Now if it were the WaPo, from the town where eating your own is a hallowed tradition…

            2. Say everloving what? Look, even I have some dang STANDARDS. And, sure, they might be low, but I still HAVE them! And those.. seriously? Sheesh. It’s .. it’s.. how the..

              No. Maybe it’s better I not know.
              But I have this urge to acquire another axe. For myself, even.

              Dear Humans: That thing with moon rockets and Mars spaceships and interplanetary exploration and even wildly insane interstellar probes? THAT! As insanely dangerous as those might seem, it’s SAFER for you (and all those species you might be trying to save, fwiw). The thing you are INSANELY BAD AT is experimenting on your own kind. And I say that as something of an Other, which I know is Insanely Dangerous. So ponder what it takes to get me to tell you!

              1. “Sheesh. It’s .. it’s.. how the..”

                And it’s official, folks: the stunned ox is in da house…. 😉

                1. Does Whitmer, the witless, have children? Grandchildren? Rather than her mother having a late term abortion, besides she is old enough she can’t be a disappointment to her mother anymore (as her mother is probably passed to her just reward), maybe her children and grandchildren can option the DNR, assisted suicide available to those with parents who are witless? Just wondering. Not proposing anything. I mean that is what they are hinting proposing for thee, me, and mine.

            3. One wonders if there is any predatory, abusive, barbaric practice that The New York Times won’t champion.

              One also wonders if it might not be better to burn their entire building down, with all the employees inside.

              One suspects that the champions of cannibalism would be highly offended by that idea.

  14. The Spensers have the good luck to be related to Chaucer, but it doesn’t seem to have helped much.

    Being ridiculously good-looking and having charisma scores of 18 coupled with intelligence of 9 and wisdom of 7… yeah.

  15. The only fault I find in today’s post is the assertion that DaVinci was the son of a village bicycle.

    1. Well, apparently she only slept with Leonardo’s dad outside of marriage. If they’ve identified the right woman, Leonardo’s dad’s family ended up settling with getting custody of Leonardo and giving Leonardo’s mom, Caterina di Meo Lippi, a dowry which she used to get married to a farmer in the area. I gather there’s a book about the whole mess, but hopefully the dowry also got a home for Caterina’s little brother (they were orphans).

      But yeah, she probably had that reputation, at least until she got married and stayed married. Hard to get rid of.

        1. I first heard it in Austin Powers, but it probably predates it. “She’s like the village bicycle. Everyone’s had a ride.”

  16. Not only do I agree that Marxism is one big category mistake, I’d also say it’s (but please do not ask me to Be Specific and Give Examples here) a whole hierarchy of lesser, component category mistakes — to misquote that old line about the elephants, it’s “category mistakes all the way down.”

    Which probably goes far to explain how (once upon a time, decades ago, probably about when some guy name of Reagan was our actual President), when I tried to understand Marxism (along with several other major pieces of then current Lefty-Wet “furniture”), I simply could not make heads or tails of any of the assorted several “explanations” I looked at of Marxism by Marxists, from “inside the system” as it were. Sure, I still understood it was an open door to totalitarianism and incompetent “central planning” and all the horrible rest; but Marxism as a doctrine and idea made no more sense after the reading than before.

    E. F. Schumacher (“Small is Beautiful”), yes. Amory Lovins (“Soft Energy Paths”), understandable too. Never mind how vehemently I might have disagreed… they were at least comprehensible in their systems of thought and belief.

    Until I found a book (and I blush to say I can’t remember who the author was) written by someone who was not only not a Marxist “true believer” but was actually a decently-genuine conservative… because he was able to go through the whole basic structure of the thing, step by step, and point out the assumptions that were being made by Marx and his followers — and how they often contradicted common understanding, or common sense, or (to me at least) the bloody-obvious. (The ones that were never made explicit in all that Marxism-by-Marxists… apparently because you were supposed to swallow them without noticing them going down, as it were, as the authors apparently had done.)

    Marxism is really, as far as I can tell, the political-philosophy equivalent of a Theory of Everything (minus all the nice physical field theories and neat possible predictions and technologies)… except that it’s not only not compatible with experience, it doesn’t have to be. It comes with its own brand-name internal logic that isn’t yours and “explains” why its must be right and yours must be wrong, all the stinkin’ time.

    A category mistake that runs on category mistakes, as lubricant and fuel.

    1. Let’s see if I got this… A “decently-genuine conservative” who was able to not only describe Marxist “logic” in detail, but to show where and how it violated reality (“contradicted common understanding, or common sense, or the bloody-obvious”), and he was still a Marxist true-believer? Is he still running around loose?

      1. The post says specifically that he was not a Marxist true-believer — maybe the “not only” might have thrown you off?

  17. So far, my opinion of Karl Marx has remained intact.

    He was that slimy, scuzzy pot dealer who somehow, somehow got more attention than Hitler from the women of the rich and powerful and was raised so far beyond his level of competence. And, because nobody would admit-especially not him-that what he was saying was bullshit…

    1. nope, he eventually admitted it, that’s why he never published the later books, and someone else had to do it ‘for him’ (i.e. instead of him)

      1. My understanding is that F. Engels gets the credit for taking a lot of Marx’s notes and gobbldy-gook and turning them into semi-coherent tomes and essays. Which is damning with faint praise, but Engels must have had the patience of a saint to wade through all that “stuff.” (Engles on his own was a decent writer, if too wrapped up in The Cause.)

  18. Categories, much like stereotypes, are about as useless as tits on a boar when talking about humans. Re kids, you can give them the ‘best’ direction you can when they are growing up, but what they do is up to them. Some succeed, some don’t, but that comes down to the individual, NOT the way they were raised. ‘Perfect’ example, if you will- Beau Biden vs. Hunter Biden. Same parents, two entirely different outcomes…

  19. Perceptive analysis of Marx on class. It’s similar to Ludwig von Mises’ analysis in “Human Action” and his take down of Marx’s “polylogism” (claim that different classes have different logics).

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