Governor DeSantis made something of a revealing statement in the closing of his State of the State address, "Keep the compass set to true north."

There are many things in that address to take issue with, but this particular construction got my attention immediately.

You see, DeSantis likes to make something of a deal about his brief service as a JAG officer in the United States Navy. I liked the JAGs I met in the navy. We had one on the staff of Cruiser-Destroyer Group Twelve when I was assigned there, and we were good friends.

As a JAG, he actually went to sea, deployed. To the best of my knowledge, DeSantis spent his entire time in the navy ashore somewhere. If he ever went to sea, he might have learned about "compasses."

In the navy, a "compass" refers to the magnetic compass, a device that has helped guide mariners for centuries. A magnetic compass points to the north magnetic pole, which is not "true north." To determine one's course based on "true north," one must make certain corrections to the reading of the magnetic compass, accounting for phenomena known as deviation and variation.

A sailor, a navigator worth his salt, doesn't "keep the compass set" anywhere. It points to the magnetic north pole. The device one "sets" is the gyrocompass, commonly referred to simply as "gyro." Nowadays we have GPS, but I'd guess that helmsmen still steer by gyro. Gyros have to be "set" and given time to "settle" if they've lost power.

So the whole phrase just irritated me because it displays the ignorance of a man who wore the uniform for the sole purpose of serving his selfish ambition. That whole schtick may work with the uninformed, but he's not fooling anyone who actually went to sea and was responsible for the safe navigation of a ship.

But what about it as a metaphor? What's he saying there?

I guess it's a more frothy way of saying "Stay the course!" Implying though that "true north" is some special, superior value to which one must adhere ("keep the compass set").

But even that's wrong, which is unsurprising, given the shallow vanity of this odious figure.

The utility of a compass or gyro is its ability to give you some knowledge of your direction over time. Even if the compass isn't set to "true north," but you know the error, you can still steer the correct course to arrive at your destination.

The problem is the destination, the direction the state is headed; and if he's elected president, the direction the country will be headed.

There is no "true north" in DeSantis's moral compass, apart from the direction his blind ambition is driving him.

DeSantis is a poser. A fake. A fraud.

That doesn't make him any less dangerous.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 10:15 Thursday, 16 March 2023