Saving Western Civilization, One Mind at a Time

I’ve mentioned my high-school choir teacher David Pool once or twice before; a Juilliard grad, he was known for taking insecure nerds, geeks and social outcasts and turning them into self-confident young men and women, starting by treating us first as men and women, not children. Right out of the gate he’d hold us to higher standards — but teach us how to attain them, too.

Think of a drill sergeant making you a man (or woman) but referencing classical music and art and literature in between barking at you to “FIX it, [enter your name here]!” That command might have applied to hitting a note or sorting out your love life. Great advice in all cases.

I’ve not seen Mr. Holland’s Opus, but my mother said Richard Dreyfuss’ character reminded her of Pool.

Well, Jordan Peterson reminds me a bit of Pool, and he’s made quite the recent splash, viz,:

Now, this bit is certainly entertaining, and reminds me of the way Pool would work us through a music piece at a certain level, but Peterson’s skills at forensic combat aren’t enough to explain why young men are devouring what he says and writes and thinks as though they’re intellectually and emotionally starved for meaning. Given the state of discourse in society and academe, I expect they are. Men like Pool were few and far between when I was a child, perhaps less so now. Yet nowadays one man can have a greater reach than ever before. Who took up that baton? Arguably, Peterson’s running with it now.

The wife and I recently downloaded Peterson’s popular self-help  12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos on Kindle, and the cool thing about the Audible version is that Peterson reads it to you himself.

I really like his approach in this book — it is a useful practical introduction to concepts that I understand are part of his larger project, which seems to be nothing less than saving Western Civilization, as discussed here in the Weekly Standard.

(An aside: I follow the article’s various Twitter feeds, and it was gratifying to watch his tweets sort of talk through the idea of the article, and then get enough feedback that he had something valuable to say that he turned it into the Weekly Standard piece within a matter of days. That, I think, is the best sort of Twitter.)

One lesson of Sidney Hook’s The Hero in History was that great men rise to the need of the times. I’m cautiously optimistic, just three chapters in to 12 Rules for Life, that Peterson and his work may be part of the antidote to our great civilizational malaise.

UPDATE: Well, I guess the ‘Standard article is behind a paywall or something, so here’s the author’s own summary and further discussion of his Grand Theory of Jordan Peterson. Worth a read.

Posted in Heroes, Comrades and Brothers, Kewel! | 1 Comment

7mm Dakota Specialty Pistol Article

Who can argue with a 600-plus-yard pistol for elk? (And yes, I know about Elmer Keith and his .44 Magnum as a long-range elk gun. You and I are not Elmer Keith, and this is not about that.)

7mm Dakota Cover

Ages ago I had a live link to this article by my specialty-pistols mentor and guru Ernie Bishop, but the link’s now dead, so Ernie graciously provided me with a copy to share. Temporarily hosting the files on Facebook until I figure out how to get them on the RNS server. I think clicking on each image below the fold should embiggen them.

Nowadays Ernie’s playing around with things like 6 Creedmoor necked down to .22 caliber at ridiculously fast twists for the 2k prairie-dog goal….

Continue reading

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Accelerate and Disobey

Spivonomist had a favorite EP from the ’80s he’d lost, but he found the track after 18 years of trying to remember the band. There’s got to be a German portmanteau word for the specific feeling of satisfaction in such a circumstance. Cool tunes. Bonus synth Bach sample in the second one.

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Roman Dodecahedron

One of these and some cordage would be a bloody useful piece of kit for the pocket or backpack.

For the last 20 years I’ve kept a pair of cheap Wal-Mart glove liners (usually seasonal items, about a buck a pair) in the pocket of every coat I own. Hands down (heh) that’s easily been the most useful lifehack I’ve done. But one of these and some cordage would work in a pinch.

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We the People

I’ve always loved this song. Seriously — crank the bass for best effect. Beware; it can get dusty when the bell rings.

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Belgrade, 1926

Eric Ambler’s A COFFIN FOR DIMITRIOS (1939) is one of my favorite novels, for the noir atmospherics alone.

(That I number more than one fellow as casually amoral and exotic as Dmitrios Makropoulos among my professional colleagues just adds relish to each rereading.)

Hitchcock’s writer Robert Arthur anthologized the ninth chapter “Belgrade, 1926” as a stand-alone short story, and it remains as near-perfect a piece of short suspense fiction as I could want. Seek it out.

An excerpt:

I don’t know much about these things, but apparently one does not have to lay a couple of hundred miles’ worth of mines to make a two-hundred-mile wide corridor of sea impassible. One just lays one or two small fields without letting one’s enemy know just where. It is necessary, then, for them to find out the positions of those minefields.

That, then, was G.’s job in Belgrade. Italian agents found out about the minefields. G., the expert spy, was commissioned to do the real work of discovering where they were to be laid, without — a most important point this — without letting the Yugoslavs find out that he had done so. If they did find out, of course, they would promptly change the positions.

In that last part of his task G. failed. The reason for his failure was Dimitrios.

It has always seemed to me that a spy’s job must be an extraordinarily difficult one. What I mean is this. If I were sent to Belgrade by the British Government with orders to get hold of the details of a secret mine-laying project for the Straits of Otranto, I should not even know where to start. Supposing I knew, as G. knew, that the details were recorded by means of markings on a navigational chart of the Straits. Very well. How many copies of the chart are kept? I would not know. Where are they kept? I would not know. I might reasonably suppose that at least one copy would be kept somewhere in the Ministry of Marine, but the Ministry of Marine is a large place. Moreover, the chart will almost certainly be under lock and key. And even if, as seems unlikely, I were able to find in which room it is kept and how to get to it, how should I set about obtaining a copy of it without letting the Yugoslavs know that I had done so?

When I tell you that within a month of his arrival in Belgrade, G. had not only found out where a copy of the chart was kept, but had also made up his mind how he was going to copy that copy without the Yugoslavs knowing, you will see that he is entitled to describe himself as competent.

How did he do it? What ingenious manoevre, what subtle trick made it possible? I shall try to break the news gently.

Posing as a German, the representative of an optical instrument-maker in Dresden, he struck up an acquaintance with a clerk in the Submarine Defence Department (which dealt with submarine nets, booms, mine-laying and mine-sweeping) of the Ministry of Marine!

Pitiful, wasn’t it! The amazing thing is that he himself regards it as a very astute move. His sense of humour is quite paralyzed.

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UPS’ drone army

This is a very interesting chart from a very interesting article about surprise and first-strike capability. Also, nanoexplosives. (!!) Emphasis mine.

This brings us to another area where U.S. systems are outranged: ground vehicles. Researchers at the University of Virginia successfully 3D printed a drone body in one day. By snapping in place an electric motor, two batteries, and an Android cell phone, they made a fully autonomous drone that could carry 1.5 pounds approximately 50 kilometers — six times the range of the U.S. Hellfire missile. In 2014, it took about 31 hours to print and assemble the drone at a total cost of about $800. Since then printers have become over 100 times faster and will get faster still. UPS currently plans a 1,000 printer plant, which at today’s printing speeds could potentially print 100,000 drones a day. The limitation is no longer the printing but the assembly and shipment of the finished products. Both processes can be automated with robots. In the near future, drones could be produced at a rate exceeding many types of ammunition — and often for less per round. A swarm of tens of thousands of autonomous but non-coordinating drones is clearly possible. Armed with small explosive loads, these drones could score mobility kills on all non-armored vehicles and even damage thin-skinned armor. Such an attack will bring an armored brigade to a rapid halt due to lack of fuel.

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Orville Bierkle’s War Diary

Somehow it seems I haven’t posted a direct link to Sergeant Orville A. Bierkle’s Korean War diary here — thought I had, but can’t find any such post. So here is the link. If I can figure out how to upload the PDF file here, I’ll do that too.

The war diary, provided by the sergeant’s daughter, gives provenance to his remarkable revolver, showing conclusively that it was used by him in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir, and that he brought it back with him to the United States, where it eventually made its way to me. And most importantly, don’t forget to read the thread.

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Sokath, His Eyes Opened

This Monmouth poll yesterday deserved to receive more attention than it did:

Majority believe ‘deep state’ manipulates U.S. policies. “The majority of the country believes a group of unelected government and military officials secretly manipulate national policy, according to a Monmouth Poll released Monday….”

Let’s understand what is going on here: the overwhelming majority of the American people, having lived through half a century of declines in faith in virtually every American institution – the Congress, the courts, the cops, the church, the media, the National Football League – now believe that one of the most important institutions we have to protect us, the security and intelligence forces that are supposed to ward off threats, have now been turned against them. And not even one out of five Americans believes this invasion of privacy is usually justified – instead, they believe not just that they are being monitored, and not only do they believe this practice is near-constant, but they also belive that this monitoring is typically baseless and unnecessary.

–Ben Domenech, in this morning’s Transom newsletter. Emphasis mine.

Posted in The Government is Not Your Friend | 1 Comment

L’Estro Armonico (and, tangentially, Gene Simmons)

Nowadays you can find even obscure pieces of classical music but a click away on YouTube (such as the Wolf’s Glen scene from Weber’s Der Freischuetz, I mean, that’s amazing really).   In the past, music majors such as my high-school choir teacher and Juilliard alum David Pool would have to dig through a Schwann catalog to find vinyl pressings or tapes of obscure-but-required pieces for their studies, generally recorded by equally obscure ensembles.

Pool used to joke that as a result of all this, he and and his Juilliard classmate Charles Emerson Winchester III had between them the most extensive collection of recorded works by the Chamber Society of Lower East Cleveland.

For my part, as a starving young student I amassed my trove of classical records by signing up repeatedly for Columbia House and Musical Heritage Society “introductory memberships” (“9 albums for 1 cent”), which taught me valuable life lessons about reading the fine print and how to outscam the scammers.

Happily, I also encountered all sorts of relatively obscure treasures, and Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico performed by I Solisti Veneti became my favorite. The other day on YouTube I found this version I may decide I like even better. An excellent listen, and a great introduction to the joys of classical music for the novice or any metalhead — especially with the bass cranked through the roof.

The Red Priest was a genius and a notorious musical icon of his day, composing for royalty, delighting in crossdressing genderplay in his operas, and maintaining the sort of lifestyle that got him, a man of the cloth, barred from entering a city because of his sexcapades. Were he alive today, one suspects an interview with him would sound an awful lot like this.

That's a Mona Lisa smile if I ever saw one

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