The Wild Again

The Wild Again:

I will be on one of my regular excursions into the wilderness, from this afternoon until Monday. I'm heading out now, so I wish you all the best until next week.

Going Dark

Going Dark:

Following the Geek, this blog is going dark to protest the blackout of speech led by McCain, and Feingold. This travesty is a direct assault on the kind of free speech the Founders most cared to protect: political speech.

Reason has a good piece on the subject. My curse on all the politicians who participated in this business.

Oddly, for all we've heard about the supposed assault on rights coming from the GWOT, the two worst destructions of our real rights have been in other areas. McCain-Feingold is one, and the Kelo decision is the other. If you want to know where your real rights are being attacked, it's not in the attempt to stop terrorists -- it's in the attempt to undermine those few protections that keep the government from silencing you, or taking your land.



InstaPundit notes the problems in Thailand, and asks:

Sounds like ethnic cleansing by terror. Why isn't the UN protesting? If this sort of terror were directed at Muslims in Israel, or the United States, it would be an international cause celebre.
So it is, actually, among those particularly interested in SouthEast Asia -- except the Muslims here are said by the internationalists to be the victims. The role of "evil brutes stirring up all this trouble with excessive force" is reserved for those Thai soldiers and police who have brought down the death rate.

That is to say, the internationalists are following the same script in Thailand (versus a key non-NATO US ally) that they are using in Iraq (versus the Coalition). Thailand's conflict has also had it's "Abu Ghraib," in this case, an incident called Tak Bai. Just as with Abu Ghraib, it appears that there was some genuinely awful behavior by the soldiers immediately on the scene. Just as with Abu Ghraib, this has been projected by the internationalists into a vision of a government conspiracy to use excessive, inappropriate force to quell Muslims.

Also following the usual script, Thailand has its own internal political divisions, with the opposition (amusingly enough, the opposition is led by a group called the "Democratic Party") using the internationalist script to demonize the existing leadership. Their spiritual leader in this effort is a man with Jimmy Carter-like stature: former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun.

That's not exactly fair. Unlike Carter, who has been uniformly awful, Anand's record is mixed. Anand became Prime Minister by invitation of the military following a coup against the democractically-elected government. However, he did do yeoman work in restoring democracy and getting the military to agree to step back from politics, though he left the coup leader in power (the general who led the coup succeeded him as Prime Minister), and in increased wealth (the same general became head of a new national telecom firm that Anand helped to set up).

I've met him. He is a charming man and a good speaker, in English as well as his native language. He believes in the internationalist vision of peace through negotiation, which often means giving violent people what they want in order that they should stop hurting folks. And, for what it's worth, that script -- which I despise on principle -- actually seems to have worked in the case of Thailand's politics. The payoffs to the general seem to have bought space to quell the tensions, and Thailand's military today is admirably detached from political turmoil.

Anand leads the way on the dissenting efforts to bring peace to Thaliand's south through the same basic notion: pay off the violent to buy peace, during which you can build institutions that may be of use in keeping that peace.

The problem is that his National Reconciliation Commission advocates giving away the store entirely. Its proposals include submitting to the introduction of Islamic law in the South of Thailand, as well as recognizing Malay as well as Thai as the official language of the state, and disarming the peackeeping forces ('so it will be easier for the Muslims to trust them,' if you want to know why).

Internationally, several leading regional figures have spoken about the issue or visited Thailand, including Haysim Muzadi, who leads the largest Islamic organization in the world -- Indonesia's Nahdlatul Ulama, which has forty million members. Also following script, these leaders have treated the combatants as moral equals: they negotiate evenly between the Muslim rebels, who murder unarmed noncombatants as their normal means of operation, and the Thai government -- those brutes who committed Tak Bai.

All this has led the Thai government to basically ask the UN and the international community to keep its nose out of Thailand. If the UN were to protest, there's little doubt whom they'd protest. It would be the government, which has 'brutalized Muslims,' 'oppressed human rights,' and refuses to enact the simple solutions that the internationalists have already negotiated with local Islamic leaders.

When they came to make those protests, key political figures in Thailand would be right there to endorse them.



Cam Edwards apparently had a program recently that treated the dangers of knife-fighters for firearms owners, which is summarized (with links) here. The summary itself can be summarized: carry a gun, stay alert.

Still, it's an interesting read in that the author (and, I expect, Cam) expresses a sense of the threat posed by knives that makes them sound more dangerous than guns. Partially that may be the NRA line: guns are simple tools that all citizens should have, whereas knives are wild dangerous things criminals use.

Partly, though, it's a perfectly accurate statement -- one I've often made here. Just to make it again: at close ranges, fighting knives are more dangerous than guns, assuming the wielder is equal to the task.

If you're choosing a close-defense weapon, then, what makes more sense? A .22 pistol or a .38 pistol? Well, the more-effective weapon, right?

The same principle works here too. Unless you have a physical reason not to do so, learn to use a knife, and carry one. See the "Gunfighting & Bladework" links to the right.

Even in jurisdictions where guns are simply illegal, knives -- at least some knives -- often are not. If you've trained to use them, and have one to hand, they can be better than a gun in many situations in which its likely you will have to defend yourself, or do your duty as a citizen to defend the common peace.

The Bowie knife is a weapon particularly suited to the American gentleman. Learn to use it -- or, if you live in a restrictive jursidiction, its closest legal relative. You will be glad that you did, and you will be upholding a tradition -- bladesmanship -- that is thousands of years old and as noble as a tradition can be.


Speaking of Older Matters:

While looking back for those older posts, I came across my first post on "Fitzmas." I wrote:

Indictments are, as everyone knows, proof of nothing except the prosecutor's intentions. The actual trial, at which a defense is permitted, is the point at which real information is likely to emerge. I have known real-world indictments that were dropped entirely without trial, and the prosecutor forced to apologize, once the defense lawyers got involved and began to unmake the case. This prosecutor, however, seems unlikely to have made gross errors of the sort that lead to such a situation.

My basic principles about government-official indictments remain the same:

1) A desire to defend the weaker party, which wants to see the matter resolved in the favor of the innocent whenever an innocent man is threatened by the state's power.

2) A desire to see corruption in government restrained, which desires to see the matter resolved by hurling any guilty men into the dungeon in this case. This is true whether "the guilty" is Delay, or the prosecutor, should the prosecutor in fact be engaged in a political prosecution.
Looks like principle #1 was the governing one. Also, I was wrong about Fitz being a good prosecutor: though I was right that the indictment shows nothing except the prosecutor's intent.

Too bad about Fitz. He was a good official, once.

thanks to GOP

Thanks to the Grand Old Party:

Mark Noonan of GOP Bloggers wrote to ask me to guest blog over there. I had to decline, of course, because I am a Democrat. It was nice of them to offer, though, and I wish to express my gratitude for the kindness of their words regarding the content of this site.

As to which content, allow me to post a few links explaining why I remain a Democrat. In brief, it is because it is too high and fine a heritage to surrender.

On Kelo.

On James Jackson.

"Both Barrels, and the Bowie Knife."

No offense, lads. But I was born a Democrat, and mean to die one.

The Smell of Death

The Smell of Death:

I have posted a philosophical piece at Winds of Change. It may be of interest to some of you. It's rather long, though, which doesn't work well on a Blogger blog.

Friday Laugh

We've a new "flex-time" option at work... so I decided to head out on Friday, and take care of some things at the University of Houston. While I was there, I decided to declare my minor. I had in my mind either English or Military Science... so I went and spoke with the English department... easy enough, fill out the paperwork and get it stamped. Then I headed over to the Military Science building, walked into the Army ROTC office and was told the Major was out to lunch. That was no big deal, I needed lunch myself... but I decided to walk into the Air Force ROTC building and get the low-down on their military science program. I was promptly told by the Air Force Sergeant that they were not military science and that I needed to speak to the Army.

So there was my Friday laugh.

RV Send

Russ Vaughn Sends:

Russ has a piece for you calling defense contractors to charity. It's worth some attention. I don't know to what degree a corporation is morally required to perform charity of any sort -- they are legal persons, it's true, but unlike real persons, a corporation is amoral and meant to be so. Its moral effects are felt, as Adam Smith reminds us, in the good that arises naturally from people pursuing their own ends.

Nevertheless, these contractors make their living on government dollars, which means that their profits are extorted from us all. We each, therefore, have a claim on what they do with the money -- unlike with truly private corporations, whose monies are their own, earned in the market.

So, give it a read, and see what you think.

Croc Hunter

On the Death of the Crocodile Hunter:

I saw (via InstaPundit) that the "Crocodile Hunter," whom I learned was really named Steve Irwin, died after an encounter with a sting ray. Austin Bay has some words for the event, with which I find I entirely disagree. He portrays Steve Irwin as some sort of haunted figure, suffering from some dark inner need:

In the komodo dragon show I thought Irwin crossed the line from skilled showmanship to inexcuseable thrill-seeking – wagered mortality is tantalizing, but adds a queasy, dark twist to a family program. I told my wife “I wonder if this guy (Irwin) has a death wish?”

If my comments on the komodo dragon show seem a bit harsh, understand I’ve watched it a half-dozen times. I’ve gaped with the rest of the circus audience.

But I may never watch it again. Irwin died over the weekend, died while filming at-close-quarters another dangerous species. The poisoned barb of a sting ray put a hole in his heart.... [It was a] violent, unnecessary death.

Irwin was idiosyncratic, personable, enthusiastic, informed, and physically courageous. That’s a lot to admire. But what drove him to get too close one too many times?
I myself have seen only one episode of "The Crocodile Hunter," one time -- precisely because I can't stand some of the qualities Austin Bay admires. What he found enthusiastic and personable, I found irritating and noisy.

That said, Irwin may have been the least dark, haunted figure in easy memory. He got close to those animals because he loved them. That is the same reason he read all he could about them, and loved to tell others about them.

Far from a death wish -- a wish easy to fulfill, if it is genuine! -- Irwin seems to me to have had a real love of life and of the world into which he was born. It is a dangerous world, but he refused to be afraid of it. He embraced that world as he found it, and if it killed him, well, it's going to kill all of us, too.

So, no, it wasn't an unnecessary death: he was already going to die. So are you.

It was a violent death, but so what? Violent is not a synonym for bad. Do you really want to die from organ failure in some hospital, or after some lingering illness? If not, you've really only got two options: die suddenly from a heart attack or other quick-acting cause, or die violently.

An argument can be made that a family man has a duty to survive, as long as survival is honorable, in order to provide for his family. Well, I don't doubt that Irwin had laid plenty of investments, so that his family is protected from ruin. His death will surely cause them grief, but so would his death from a heart attack. We aren't entitled to have those we love around forever, any more than we are entitled not to die.

A serious engagement with the deepest philosophical questions in life suggests to me that Irwin lived exactly the right way. He was an adventurer, and if I found his television manner impossible to tolerate, I admire everything else about the man. May I die the same way: engaged in experiencing, and loving, the world into which I was born.

Not fearing death is not the same thing as wishing for it. Neither is it dark. It is the right and proper attitude: the one to which the sages and the religions alike counsel us, and which martial art and meditation both seek to create.

The Crocodile Hunter got that, got all of it. Good for him!


Podcast with Abizaid:

The Saint Petersburg Times has an audio interview with CDRUSCENTCOM General John Abizaid. You can download it, or listen to it from the website.

The general emphasizes cautious optimism on Iraq, with a focus on steady progress. However, he also warns that most of what remains to be done has to be done by the Iraqi people themselves -- and if they choose not to, but prefer sectarian conflict, we cannot hope to stabilize Iraq in spite of them. He also warns against US public pessimism arising from negative press reporting in the news cycle.

It's a quick interview, with nothing surprising, but it is good to hear the General expressing confidence.

Geek Grendel

Terror House II:

The actual description of Geek with a .45's trip to Hungary's Terror House is posted. You can, and you should, read it here.