Damn

Charles G. Hill, perspicacious observer, superior wit, and brony, passed away last September. Although his death was not unexpected, it was a bitter loss. However, we did have over twenty years’ worth of commentary at his website to peruse at our leisure. Or so I thought, until just now when I clicked on the link to Dustbury and saw the above.

Hopefully, Hill’s writing is archived somewhere, and perhaps someone will do for him what J Greely and Pixy Misa did for Steven Den Beste.

Update: Greely found that at least part of Dustbury is available from the WayBack Machine.

Garden report

Nigella damascena

The last of the hardy annuals have finally bloomed — disappointingly, I’m afraid. The Nigella damascena flowers are pleasingly complicated and alien-looking, but nearly all of them are either white or blue. Blues are always welcome, but the package promised purples and reds as well. At least a third of them are single, and Nigella is one instance where double flowers are preferable. It’s probably time for the seed producers to re-select their stock.

Gilia capitata

Gilia capitata has small clusters of washed-out blue flowers atop tall, thin plants. The inflorescence above is about two inches across; the individual clusters are less than an inch in diameter. The package claims that it will bloom into October. We’ll see. Possibly shearing back the plants after the initial flowering will induce greater bushiness. G. capitata is a widespread plant with a number of subspecies. I suspect I have the the most common and least interesting form. If I grow it again, I’ll purchase my seeds from a different source.

The Shirley poppies, Papaver rhoeas, are pretty much done. They might have lasted longer were it not for the large mammals that obliviously walked through them or drove into them. I might be able to get another week’s worth of color from the smaller planting out of traffic in front of the house.

For those keeping score, here’s a recap. Most of these were sown at the end of February.

Phacelia campanularia was first to bloom, with flowers of intense blue starting near the end of April on plants six inches to a foot tall.

Gilia tricolor followed shortly after with flowers in shades from violet to white on plants about a foot tall. These allegedly smell like chocolate, but I never detected any fragrance.

Eschscholzia californica was next, in the middle of May. (These were sown around the middle of March.)

Centaurea cyanus followed in the last week of the month.

P. rhoeas began blooming at the end of May.

Each of these bloomed for roughly a month, the Phacelia a little longer, the poppies probably a week less. I expect that I’ll get at least another two weeks of bloom from the Centaurea, Nigella and G. capitata. After that, I’ll be relying on the Mexican and south-western annuals — Zinnia, Cosmos, Tithonia, Thymophylla — for color.

Nigella damascena

Nota bene

An important message from TS:

In the coming days, I encourage each of us to step away from the nonsense, ignore the division sought by the enema1, and engage in productive conversations about the weather. Our goal must be to stamp out “national conversations”. Instead, converse with your family and immediate neighbors only please.

No commentary

David Breitenbeck:

I am determined not to comment on the news. I despise mobs, mass movements, and those who enable them, and my great desire is to be able to move to a nice little corner of the country where there aren’t enough people to form moving blobs of collective stupidity and then shut out as much of the insanity as I can.

Fr. Boniface Endorf (Via TS):

The other threat to our hearts is despair. What can we do when faced with centuries of injustice – indeed, injustice stretching all the way back to Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel? First, do not look too long into the Palantir. The Palantir is an object from the Lord of the Rings used to see what is happening far away. One of the characters in that story, a leader of a nation, looks into it and sees the evil surrounding and besieging his nation. He sees only the evil, not the good, and amidst that darkness, he falls into despair. His despair cripples him spiritually and prevents him from fighting for the good. The same can happen to us. Through the Internet, we can see what’s happening all over the world at any moment, and the sheer volume of evil and darkness can spiritually cripple us too. Despair is stalking us and we must make sure that we grasp for hope instead. Do not focus solely on the darkness! Do not let it fill your mind and sow despair within you.

Hold your horses

Back in ancient times there was an amusement park in the south end of Wichita called “Joyland,” with the usual roller-coaster and rides, cotton candy, snow-cones and noise. I recall it being moderately fun when I was an eighth-grader, but over the years it deteriorated and became a place where you didn’t want to be during the day, let alone the evening. Eventually Joyland was closed, and vandalized, and dismantled.

Several years ago, the botanical garden received the remains of the carousel. Restoring the carousel to working order was the excuse for a long-term fund-raiser at the garden. It’s supposed to be open to riders very soon, but there’s a hitch:

THE KHICHA FAMILY CAROUSEL WILL BE REOPENING.
A FEW THINGS YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW:
Half of the horses will be taken out.
There will be markings on the floor – 6 feet1 apart.
There will be longer times between rides
(an operator will be wiping down each horse).

I took a few pictures during a visit to the garden earlier this week.

Like virtually every other institution in Wichita, it is partly funded by the Kochtopus.

Humor and other depressing things

A little joke:

A man visiting the Kotel – Western Wall – noted an old man praying diligently, all day. He was there every day. Finally [he] went to the old man and asked “What do you pray for”? “For world peace, harmony, the brotherhood of man…”

“Do you get a response”?

“No. It’s like I’m talking to a wall.”

(Via J Greely.)

Joseph Moore recommends a little booklet about some aspects of the CCP virus by a former NY Times writer. The substance won’t be new to those who’ve been following William Briggs, but it’s a handy compendium of information you probably won’t see in your newspaper.

There is a certain slogan popular today that will not be appearing on this website.

Just wondering: is the final stage of every form of government kakistocracy?

A couple of quotes

Theodore Dalrymple:

What seemed to me to be perfectly obvious was that the demonstrators, who appeared superficially to be angry with or about Ms. Hopkins, were in fact enjoying themselves hugely. They were acting in a kind of bad faith, in some sense dishonestly, by disguising from themselves their real emotions. They were stoking themselves up into an agreeable state of fury, believing in a distorted form of Descartes’ cogito, namely, “I’m angry, therefore I’m good.”

A thought: lust may get more press, but wrath may be the most intensely pleasurable of the seven deadly sins.

Heather Mac Donald:

The looters are not grieving over the stomach-churning arrest and death of George Floyd; they are having the time of their lives. You don’t protest or mourn a victim by stealing oxycontin, electronics, jewelry, and sneakers.

Tenderized

Princess Mononoke wasn’t quite what Disney expected:

Disney executives like Michael O. Johnson, the president of Walt Disney International, had only seen Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, and were expecting similar child-friendly films when they took on Ghibli’s world distribution. Johnson was hence entertainingly horrified when he visited the Tokyo office and saw clips of the film in production, including a graphic moment of decapitation, and the heroine wiping blood around her mouth. Johnson begged Suzuki to change it, pleading that his own head would roll unless he could deliver something more sedate: “Do we have to have the arms and heads flying off? Isn’t there something softer in the film? Romance maybe? Can’t I get a nice romantic scene, you know, between the hero and heroine? Maybe a kiss or something?” The final cut of the trailer included a shot of the wolf-girl San feeding Prince Ashitaka a piece of meat, mouth-to-mouth. Johnson went away delighted, and nobody corrected him when he thought he’d just witnessed a tender kiss.

A glimpse of Miyazaki:

In the midst of all of this, surrounded by toadies and flunkies, duelling cockswans and shouty executives, Hayao Miyazaki sends back his drink at a restaurant, telling the waiter that it is not the forty-year-old port that he ordered. The waiter insists that it is, but Miyazaki sticks to his guns, until a sheepish manager admits that they had, indeed, tried to fob him off with a cheaper variety. He remains the only one who is true of heart, in a Sea of Corruption.

Thoughts, short-term and long-term

I am beyond tired of all the CCP virus hysteria, and I don’t intend ever to allude to it again here. Instead, I refer you to the development of Edward Feser’s thoughts on the matter over the past six weeks.1

Some thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis:

In the short run, then, my sympathies are more with those who defend the lockdown than with those who are skeptical of it. However, in the long run those who defend the lockdown need to be more open, rather than less, to the considerations raised by the skeptics.

***

The lockdown’s loyal opposition:

Meanwhile, at The Bulwark, conservative lockdown defender Jonathan V. Last tells us that he won’t link even to Fr. Thomas Joseph’s article, let alone Rusty’s. The reason is that Fr. Thomas Joseph’s article “made matters worse, not better” by granting “legitimacy” to the idea that “there are really two sides to the issue, and that reasonable and intelligent people can disagree.” He compares Rusty’s skepticism to that of flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers.

This is outrageous. Does it not occur to Last that the surest way to reinforce skepticism is precisely to demonize it, even when it is expressed by a serious writer and thinker like Rusty?

***

The burden of proof is on those who impose burdens:

What I am sure of is this much: The burden of proof is not in the first place on him and people of like mind to show that the lockdown should be ended. The burden is on defenders of the lockdown to show that it shouldn’t be….

The issue is not just that doing massive damage to the economy is, if unnecessary, imprudent in the extreme – though, to say the very least, it most certainly is that. It’s that the lockdown entails actions that, in ordinary circumstances, would be very gravely immoral.

***

The lockdown and appeals to authority:

Most people’s opinions depend crucially on what they have heard from political commentators, journalists, politicians, and scientists. None of what any of these people say can be evaluated the way a philosophical argument can, viz. in a manner that entirely abstracts from considerations about the knowledge and biases of the people giving the arguments. And that includes, to some extent, the scientists. Moreover, the knowledge and biases of these experts give us grounds for having at least some reservations about what they say. And that too includes, at least to some extent, the scientists.

***

The lockdown is no longer morally justifiable:

As I have said before, I think that the lockdown that was put in place in the United States two months ago was morally justifiable given the circumstances at the time. In my opinion, under current circumstances, it is no longer morally justifiable. To be sure, I am not denying that some social distancing measures are still justifiable and even necessary. I am also not denying that a more modest lockdown may still be defensible in some localities. But the draconian total lockdown that was put in place across most of the country is at this point no longer defensible, and state and local authorities who are relaxing it are right to do so….

But again, it isn’t those who favor relaxing the lockdown who have the burden of proof. The burden is on those who want to preserve it. Two months ago, they could make a strong case for having met it. Not any longer.

Continue reading “Thoughts, short-term and long-term”

In the pink

The botanical garden finally (partly) reopened today after a two-month hiatus. I spent the afternoon there taking hundreds of pictures. It’s going to take me a while to process them all. Here’s Oenothera speciosa for now. There will be more soon.

***

The close-ups I’ve posted of Gilia tricolor don’t really show what the plant looks like. This should give you a better idea of how it grows in cultivation. It’s roughly a foot tall.

Good things from California

California poppy

The incessant thunderstorms have paused for the moment, and the sun actually came out from behind the clouds, so I grabbed my camera for a few more snapshots. The focus today is on Eschscholzia californica and Gilia tricolor. (Phacelia campanularia is blooming profusely, but the flowers have been battered by the storms and aren’t presentable for closeups.)

Gilia tricolor

As always, click on a picture to see it larger and with better color. The individual Gilia blossoms are three-eighths to one-half inch in diameter.

Continue reading “Good things from California”

W. Heath Robinson expects an apology

Spare room

In a Heath Robinson device, everything has a clear purpose, no matter how strange it appears. For example, there is a clearly discernable logic to the profusion of cables, pulleys and bellows in his “Spare Room,” above, from this year’s HR calendar. It may not be realistic — I wouldn’t want to sleep in that bed — but everything makes sense. (The same is true of the inventions of Heath Robinson’s American counterpart, Rube Goldberg.) Comparing Neil Ferguson’s incomprehensible mathematical model to a Heath Robinson device slanders Robinson.

Bonus calendar picture: Uncle Lubin in color.

Uncle Lubin