Banditry is just another matching pennies game. In the movies, you can get away with hollering, “You take the high road; I’ll take the low road,” but all this does is split your forces. Any responsible Dungeon Master will tell you point blank that a split party is a party doomed for TPK. And here, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. A bandit organization can either cover a large geographical area or have a large enough raiding party to take down a decent-sized convoy. Not both. Dealing with natural constraints on ambition is the art of living, whether you’re a butcher, a baker, or a tribute-taker. Complicating the game is that it’s Bayesian. There are two types of traveler, you see. There’s the big, juicy cattle-wagon train, flush with hired guns (and sometimes light artillery) on the one hand and the light, fast, fly-by-night courier type on the other hand. If there were only the big trade convoys, raiding parties would set up appropriate ambushes along the most-likely used trade routes and attack in full force, leaving the old rough, slow logging roads and county blacktop free and clear. Contrarily, if there were only penny-ante quickfoot traders, the bandit organizations, assuming they are interested in maximizing their returns, would disperse, leaving one- or two-man teams to hold up any and all passersby (maybe leaving just enough seed stock to make sure next year’s crop isn’t stunted). The bandits don’t know beforehand which type they’re dealing with, and sending scouts ahead to find out is costly. Similarly, merchants don’t know whether the roads will be staked out by dispersed squads or by a massed force. Under this sickly green sky, it pays to buck trend. The mixed strategy ends up being the most common. Unless, that is, everyone agrees to collapse the uncertainty function and agree to a set of reasonable institutions. It’s costly to raid, and it’s costly to defend. This is the old wisdom, and it’s why we once had police in blue uniforms. Yes, they would shake us down, but they ruthlessly enforced their own self-contained monopoly on violence. And the shakedowns were executed through the tax code so it didn’t feel like a shakedown to most people. And feelings are important. Continue reading “Blood Zombies on Parade”
Relentless link copypasta in my ongoing altfic is becoming tedious. I shall henceforth keep episode links here and simply update and link this post. Relational databases, now in blog form!
The Truth Shall Set You Free
On the peace of nuclear detonation:
Twisted tales, lost morals:
It’s Better to Regret Something You Have Done Than to Regret Something You Haven’t Done
Via Angus meets rotten Chestertonian fence-wood:
That One Time I Met a Bull
Immigration under a festering sky:
Locke and Key
Will you speak up? Will you defend me?:
Ich Bin Ein Ausländer
Land of Sunshine
“There is, to the best of my knowledge, no single right and proper method to construct a gallows.”:
Toward a Model of Efficient Self-Governance
(The idiot is me):
Told by an Idiot
What’s the deal with Texas, anyway?:
Blood Zombies on Parade
Almost caught a break there:
Who Am I To Disagree?
What does an EMP have to do with a robber baron?:
Hávamál and the Golden Strand
A Boat, Floating Slaughters His Prey:
Grab What You Can:
Beware sincere turtles:
Brigands and Bandits
We got… high hopes, we got high hopes. We got:
High Apple Pie in the sky hopes
Bark. Bark bark bark bark bark. Bark bark. Bark bark bark:
It’s just a dream, child:
The Seven Million Year Itch
The contents of a heart:
The Siouxie & The Banshees cover is better than the original:
Won’t You Come Out To Play?
What? Marriage is a storied institution, one that demands commitment:
Committed to an Institution
I can’t resist a pretty face:
Previous to His Career as a Prophet
Meow meow meow meow:
Deus ex Interstitio
Canaries and Coalmines
Girls, Girls, Girls
Frankly, I’m tired of being called a bigot, but that doesn’t matter anymore.
There is now no logical leap required to get from “The state shall not compel me to violate my conscience, which holds fast to a moral tradition at least 3500 years in the making” to “You are a bigoted homophobe.” The two things have come together like the two halves of a beryllium sphere, and there’s no “but…” that is not immediately rejoined with “Spare us the lectures from your angry Middle Eastern storm god.” The most insidious, of course, is the subversion of that moral tradition with the sleight of phrase, “Love thy neighbor” = “Consenting adults,” and, moreover, if you don’t agree, that means you want to put blacks and negros on the back of the bus and make them enter restaurants through the back door.
Like I said, it doesn’t matter. There is no more room for conversation here. None. It’s over. The language has shifted dramatically from persuasive to compulsion. My friend Sam Wilson suggests that, instead of a #BoycottIndiana response to a law preventing the state to compel me to violate my conscience, businesses should employ rainbow stickers. Or whatever. It doesn’t matter.
Why doesn’t it matter? Well, somewhere along the way in Western Civilization (say 1950) it became clear that the cultural guardians of public morality actually were imposing it, and, I’d say, mercilessly imposing it. The pushback was forty years in the making, which means that a generation passed away and a new one came along which did not understand the pushback. So they pushed back, passing laws, which, as we know, are backed with the full authority and force of the government. Since the nineties, another generation has gone and come, with the resulting push back. Now we shall wrest the authority and force of the government from the hands of the enemy in order to fetch a bigger hammer.
As for me, I have consigned myself to bigotry, and I will bow my head to the punishment which will be meted out against me until A) I get my mind right, or B) I die. The problem with choice A), of course, is that no one is actually making arguments anymore, just shouts and legal threats to comply. Thank God for B).
I happen to eschew militancy for submission. In other words, in general, I just want friends, so I’ll nod my head quietly and hope I don’t have to actually engage in violation of my conscience, like some unfortunate others. I also have the advantage of a fair amount of book-learning, which I can use to weasel my way through tricky obstacles. Alas, there are those of my moral persuasion who are far more militant than I am.
I wonder only what kind of conflagration it will be: bodily, symbolical, typological…
Probably all of the above, for it has always been thus. As a Christian, I rejoice in the theology of exile.
What makes Aaron Schock’s departure so disturbing is the almost entirely dropped kayfabe, and we all know what happens when a society drops kayfabe. I remember remarking at the time, considering his penchant for fantasy, that if I were Schock I’d sprint out of the closet, claiming as many of the letters in the acronym as I could for the sake of jury sympathy. But, no, he didn’t do that. He simply resigned, and is resigning himself to a term in prison. This will never do.
He’s practically broadcasting that the whole thing is a sham of grabbing fistfuls of money which belong in the public treasury, putting government prosecutors on hold for a couple of years, lying and obfuscating while laundering the money into numbered accounts in various offshore “banks” just before a plea deal is reached to either avoid jail altogether or to procure a minimal sentence, to keep up appearances, then emerging quietly from prison to be escorted to a deeee-luxe apartment in the Chicago skyline to party with fellow-thieves until age
or decorum prevents.
The trick, of course, is putting government prosecutors on hold for a couple of years, and this is where Schock is embarrassing the whole lot of us, like Karen Hill, when she visited Henry in prison, throwing contraband into the open so that the prison guards had to do quite the two-step to keep up appearances. In a euvoluntary exchange, Aaron, one must give and take, and you have not given the sovereign his necessary encrease of dominion to earn your lifelong vacation, that is, after a quick character laundering through the prison system, where you can publicly repent. The public would have gladly returned a wink and a nod.
We need moar laws, dummy. I hope they throw away the key.
Among those unfamiliar with the hunting behavior of apex predators, it is a common misperception that great cats are in the habit of piercing the jugular vein and carotid artery when making a kill. Appearances, after all, can be deceiving. The tiger does indeed seek the throat, but the killing bite is mild, almost tender in its affection. Crushing the windpipe or rending the sinew of a muscle-bound water buffalo neck puts those extremely-important lateral incisors and canine teeth at great risk. A cat is neither a crocodile nor a shark: if its pearly whites snap off, that’s all she wrote. Instead, for large game, those big scary fangs straddle the carotids, compressing them in the interstitial tooth gap, restricting the flow of blood to the brain. Unconsciousness comes quickly, which means the cat spends a lot less time and energy fighting a beast much larger than itself. Instead, it keeps the clamps on and waits patiently for brain death. Compared to, say, canine alternatives that rely much more heavily on tearing and bleeding out, death by great cat is considerably less unpleasant. Continue reading “Told by an Idiot”
In the lands of the Magna Carta, we have similar signs in our public kitchens: how to wash, how to dry, to what temperature to cook our meats, etc. I was washing my lunch dishes in a public kitchen in the Niagara Region of Ontario, being instructed very kindly by the signs in the mysteries of the Three Sink method of washing dishes, and I was struck by the tender motherliness of the signs which were placed there by the Niagara Region Department of Public Health.
In New York, such signs are squared and harsh, with a concentration of primary colors, mostly reds for do not and green for do, and as much black for high contrast military instruction as is warranted. Residents of New York are brow-beaten into compliance. Niagara Region Health officials have taken a far softer approach, rounding the corners of their signs, dipping amply into the pails of paint holding pastels, using lifelike drawings of human hands and human beings instead of stick figures and representational symbols. In the Niagara Region, there is happiness in compliance. There is no mention of a fine anywhere to be seen.
“Yes,” I said to myself, while I moved my dish from sink to sink to sink. “I am happy here. I want to come into compliance.”
As an aside, I was looking at my bank account, you know, debits and credits, and I noticed that there is a need for better writing in certain quarters of the internet. If anyone is interested in a lazy intellectual with some decent writing chops who might need some dough to make a more gentle case for, I dunno, a ruler who ascends organically from a given culture to make better subjects, instructing them as a mother instructs a child, well, make an offer.
There is, to the best of my knowledge, no single right and proper method to construct a gallows. A few elements are common to just about every design, but the grim carpenters’ flourishes of the scaffold reflect the tastes of the community and the eye of the builders. There is always a raised platform; there are always stairs leading to the platform, usually thirteen; there is always a crossbeam around which to string the noose; and there is always a trapdoor to launch the condemned into the hereafter. Beyond that, the timbers of the frame are a matter of discretion. Supporting braces and thick beams are common for permanent installations. Temporary gallows will often rely on a nock rather than a full cleat to hold the bitter end of the killing rope. A shoreside hanging can even rely on a high tide and the scuttling claws of the merciless deep to clean up the turgid mess left by a dead man dancing. Continue reading “Toward a Model of Efficient Self-Governance”