H/T to Never Yet Melted for the link.
November 9, 2014
September 3, 2014
In many video games, especially MMOs, you can do the same kind of combat with a male or female avatar (in other words, from a gaming perspective, the differences are literally cosmetic). This is not a reflection of physical reality, although it is a nod to sexual equality in other areas. That being said, it is silly to pretend that before gunpowder came along to diminish the advantages that upper body strength confers in hand-to-hand combat, women could be equally effective in combat. ESR calls bullshit on a recent article that goes out of its way to imply that half of Viking warriors were actually female:
Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female insists an article at tor.com. It’s complete bullshit.
What you find when you read the linked article is an obvious, though as it turns out a superficial problem. The linked research doesn’t say what the article claims. What it establishes is that a hair less than half of Viking migrants were female, which is no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. The leap from that to “half the warriors were female” is unjustified and quite large.
There’s a deeper problem the article is trying to ignore or gaslight out of existence: reality is, at least where pre-gunpowder weapons are involved, viciously sexist.
Supporting this, there is only very scant archeological evidence for female warriors (burials with weapons). There is almost no such evidence from Viking cultures, and what little we have is disputed; the Scythians and earlier Germanics from the Migration period have substantially more burials that might have been warrior women. Tellingly, they are almost always archers.
I’m excluding personal daggers for self-defense here and speaking of the battlefield contact weapons that go with the shieldmaidens of myth and legend. I also acknowledge that a very few exceptionally able women can fight on equal terms with men. My circle of friends contains several such exceptional women; alas, this tells us nothing about woman as a class but much about how I select my friends.
But it is a very few. And if a pre-industrial culture has chosen to train more than a tiny fraction of its women as shieldmaidens, it would have lost out to a culture that protected and used their reproductive capacity to birth more male warriors. Brynhilde may be a sexy idea, but she’s a bioenergetic gamble that is near certain to be a net waste.
Firearms changes all this, of course – some of the physiological differences that make them inferior with contact weapons are actual advantages at shooting (again I speak from experience, as I teach women to shoot). So much so that anyone who wants to suppress personal firearms is objectively anti-female and automatically oppressive of women.
May 12, 2014
P.J. O’Rourke says we need to take the long view in regard to Vladimir Putin, and provides a rough history of Russia to back up his contention:
In the sixth century A.D. Russia was the middle of nowhere in the great Eurasian flat spot bounded by fuck-all on the north and east, barbarian hordes and the remains of the Byzantine Empire on the south, and the Dark Ages on the west.
Wandering around in here, up and down the watershed of the Dnieper River from Novgorod (which hadn’t been built yet) to Kiev (ditto) were disorganized tribes of Slavic pastoral herdsmen herding whatever was available, pastorally. They were harried by Goths, Huns, Khazars, and other people who had the name and nature of outlaw motorcycle gangs long before the motorcycle was invented.
The original Russian state, “Old Russia,” was established at Novgorod in A.D. 862 by marauding Vikings. They’d set off to discover Iceland, Greenland, and America, took a wrong turn, and wound up with their dragon boat stuck on a mud bar in the Dnieper. (Historians have their own theories, involving trade and colonization, but this sounds more likely.)
The first ruler of Old Russia was the Viking Prince Ryurik. Imagine being so disorganized that you need marauding Vikings to found your nation — them with their battle axes, crazed pillaging, riotous Meade Hall feasts, and horns on their helmets. (Actually, Vikings didn’t wear horns on their helmets — but they would have if they’d thought of it, just like they would have worn meade helmets if they’d thought of it.) Some government it must have been.
Viking Prince Ryurik: “Yah, let’s build Novgorod!”
Viking Chieftain Sven: “Yah, so we can burn it down and loot!”
April 21, 2014
– Spotted yesterday in the Times (which is behind a paywall) of the day before yesterday by 6k. “Very good” says he. Indeed.
Brian Micklethwait, “Samizdata quote of the day”, Samizdata, 2014-04-19.
January 30, 2014
You can always trust Duffelblog to give you the latest US military news:
Marines Convert To Norse Paganism, Demand Horns And Wings On Helmets
CAMP LEJEUNE, NC — An entire rifle squad which has converted to Asatru, or Northern European Heathenry, has expressed disappointment in new Pentagon dress code requirements claiming religious exemptions to military uniform standards are not inclusive enough.
The Asatru devotees complain they are not allowed to wear their religious clothing in uniform unlike Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish members. Focused on historical Norse paganism, the Marines want to affix horns and wings on their helmets in order to accommodate individual expression of their beliefs.
“It’s the only way Valkyrie can identify the Kindred if we fall righteously in battle,” said Sgt. Bram Gunbjorn, who serves as both squad leader and gothi (priest) of his squad of housescarls, otherwise known as 3rd Squad, Second Platoon, Charlie Company.
The squad believes upon their worthy death in combat, the Valkyrie will lead them to Valhalla, the mythological hall presided over by Odin, the Allfather.
“I think these clowns have been reading too many comic books,” said battalion Sgt. Maj. Mike Brooks. “There’s no actual historical evidence Vikings or any Northern European groups wore that garbage into battle.”
Soon after the sergeant major made this statement, the horrified Marines submitted a complaint to their Equal Opportunity Officer on the grounds of religious intolerance.
February 12, 2010
I’m just as happy that my area didn’t receive any of the snow that’s been blanketing areas to the south of us. Eric Raymond wasn’t as lucky:
Now I understand the Viking Era
So I’m sitting here, looking out my window at the 3-foot snow and the 5-foot icicles, reverting to ancestral type. Thinking:
“Fuck this. Let’s go sack Miklagard.”
And Ken Burnside points out even more opportunity for enriching historical knowledge:
The reason why Minnesota and Wisconsin were settled by Norwege and Swenske isn’t because the other cultures couldn’t hack the winters.
It’s because compared to 19th century Norway and Sweden, Upper Minneosta and Upper Wisconsin are *paradise*.
“Look! Farmland! Lakes for fishing! Timber and lumber to build from! And no morass of petty aristocracy to tell you no. And, hey, it only snows for five whole months here! They won’t believe THAT back in the old country!”
The only reason there weren’t more of them was because a lot of Norski STILL remember the marketing flimflam that was Greenland. They had a completely justified 900 year old mistrust of ANYONE telling them about ‘great farmland, only snows for five months of the year, plenty of timber…’