Yo, ho

Yo, Ho:

Looks like they found Blackbeard's ship.

Several officials said historical data and coral-covered artifacts recovered from the site - including 25 cannons, which experts said was a large number for the area in the early 18th century - remove any doubt the wreckage belonged to Blackbeard.
Blackbeard was a fascinating character, in that he seems to have used literal terrorism to achieve his ends rather than violence. He built up a mighty reputation for cruelty and violence, and yet there is no historical evidence that he ever killed anyone at all.

Contrast with the French pirate L'Ollonais:
L'Ollonais approached it from its undefended landward side and took it. His pirates then proceeded to pillage the city, but found that most of the residents had fled and that their gold had been hidden. L'Ollonais' men tracked down the residents and tortured them until they revealed the location of their possessions. They also seized the fort's cannon and demolished most of the town's defence walls to ensure that a hasty retreat was possible.

L'Ollonais himself was an expert torturer, and his techniques included slicing portions of flesh off the victim with a sword, burning them alive, or "woolding", which involved tying knotted rope around the victim's head until their eyes were forced out.
They probably won't find any relics of L'Ollonais, however, as he was apparently captured and eaten by cannibals.

Adding Francis


I have finally remembered to add Special Forces blogger Francis Marion to the blogroll. I am terrible at the tech side of this blogging business, I know.

If any of you want me to add some links, let me know in the comments or by email. Joe, you should know that you're entitled to a "Joe's Favorites" section if you've got some blogs or whatever that aren't already on the list. Same for you, Karrde.

Finally, Karrde reminds me that we need to do a Grim's Hall Movie Club soon. Eric Blair gets to pick the film this time. Take it away, Eric.

PJM Today

PJM Has a Good Day:

Some very interesting stuff in the morning mail from Pajamas Media. The Glen & Helen show is on training the Afghan police; and you can read about the successes of the surge from Baghdad editor Omar Fadhil, in "Life During War."

Jules Crittenden has a piece wondering about a coming dark age, which is rather old hat for most of us here, but it's interesting to see the concept penetrating into the mainstream. For now, he's still writing elegies for the glories that may be past; keep your eyes out for when they start running simulation games.

Texas Independence

Happy Texas Independence Day!

In a shack alongside the majestic Brazos River, my native country was formed. On March 2, 1836, the Convention of 1836 led by Richard Ellis declared their Independence from Mexico. They elected David G. Burnett as Interim-President. He wasn't very notable, but he did challenge Sam Houston to a duel in later years.

Four days after it was signed, the Alamo fell.

Contest - Novel/Movie

Contest: Finding Yourself

I'd like to propose a contest to Grim's Hall readers. If the first phase goes well, I have a second phase in mind; but let's see how the first phase works.

I'd like you each, in the comments, to tell me what character from literature most reminds you of yourself. Then, what movie and which character from that movie most reminds you of yourself going through your life.

If you know how to do links, and want to link to the novel/movie at Amazon, that'd be a good idea. Also, if you are planning to cite an obscure work, you can also cite a second-best example that people are more likely be familiar with. Your call.

The main rule here is not to laugh at anyone for what they come up with. Obviously, movies are more dramatic than real life usually is. If somebody says that James Bond reminds him of himself, and you happen to know that he is an accountant (say), no laughing. :) The point here is that he relates to the stories; they mean something to him.

Finally, the last question for the third phase is: is there any character created in the last ten years, either from literature or the movies, who you really feel relates to you or your life? In other words, are our stories getting better -- or is the story-creating industry losing touch with us? I suspect the latter, but I want to put it to the test.


The Permalink Situation:

Castle Argghhh! linked us this morning, with this note:

Grim provides an old school example that seems to support JRobb’s Global Guerillas theory. Scary. [Armorer's interjection - Grim's permalink URL isn't behaving as expected. The post Ry is referring to is "The Old Model Army" which is the top post for 27 Feb at Grim's Hall.]
That's right -- all permalinks have been broken since we moved to New Blogger, including both the old ones from before the move, and the new once since. I've been trying to work a solution out through Blogger's help mechanisms (such as they are), but have given up.

Anyone who might know about moving a blog from Blogger to another service, please email me by clicking on the shield, above. I know how to use both MovableType and TypePad, but I don't know how to move the archives and stuff. Any help would be appreciated.

7 Words

The "7 Words" Test:

Proposed by InstaPunk, now performed by Newsbuckit, who gives his methodology. I ran the test on Grim's Hall, and our score is zero.

Now, the method he chose won't search the comments here, so it's possible some of you folks have been profane on occasion down in the HaloScan section of the blog. My good co-bloggers, however, have demonstrated gentlemanly restraint (given the topics we discuss here sometimes, a whole lot of restraint).

Gore / Carbon sink

A Question for Mr. Gore:

So, by now we've all heard about Gore's gigantic house, and his likewise gigantic electrical bill. (If you haven't, see here and its supporting links). The defense is, essentially, that Gore is "carbon neutral" by using services that plant trees for him, offsetting his power usage.

So my question is: What about this?

Although the United States and Canada produce a substantial amount of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, a new study contends that the North American continent is a net carbon sink whose vegetation may be absorbing the entire annual emissions of the two countries.... Fan attributes the North American sink to four factors:

* U.S. forests are being replenished, in part by new methods of feeding livestock brought on by a growing demand for meat. For example, during the last century hogs and cattle were permitted to wander the mountainous areas of the eastern United States. Today, however, such animals are restricted to concentrated areas like feed lots.

* Air in the Northern Hemisphere is rich in nitrogen (a plant food), thanks to the area’s industry and agriculture. Science reported in 1992 that nitrogen fertilization was stimulating European forests in the same manner and surmised that China and tropical rain forests were sure to follow this trend.

* Increased amounts of CO2 increase photosynthesis and water-use efficiency.

* Satellite data indicate a lengthening of the growing season in the highest latitudes.
The last one is ironic: global warming from greenhouse gases yields longer growing seasons for agriculture, which in theory reduce global warming by greenhouse gases.

But as to the larger question: if North America is a carbon sink, does that mean we can just carry on like this forever? If it's good enough for Al Gore, why shouldn't we do just as we like also? We're planting trees too -- lots of them.

VCDL Update

Update on the Manassas Story:

VCDL has posted a lot of pictures and video from the event mentioned yesterday. You can also read some members' writeups. They've got a page with links to all that here.

I wish we had a VCDL in Georgia. I may have to look into starting one...

The Old Model Army:

The Belmont Club has been worrying about the anonymity of the terrorists and ethnic cleansers in southern Thailand. The Thai Army has admitted for years that it has no real knowledge about who is behind the increasingly powerful insurgency, or the murders growing in frequency as well as number. Wretchard speaks especially here but also here to the problem. He then says, "But the anonymity that the International Herald Tribune describes is only partial. Much is known about some of those who are causing the trouble. The International Crisis Group has listed out the known insurgent groups."

Yes, and there are several. Some of them -- most notably PULO, the Pattani United Liberation Organization -- even claim to speak for the insurgency. But why would you believe that they do, besides that they say so? The truth is, most of the statements supposedly from the organization are from retired leaders of an older insurgency, now living in Europe.

Wretchard wonders what the "goal" of the insurgency is. Let me suggest a model. I can't prove it, any more than anyone else can. But see if it doesn't make some pieces click into place.

In southern Arizona in the 1880s, there was a band of American outlaws. They lived mostly out of the saddle, and made their living originally in raiding the Mexican settlements in Sonora. The cross-border crime and violence got so bad that the Mexican government constructed three new forts on the border, and used its army to close that border to traffic that wasn't of verified legality. (This story, in addition to being background to the model I'm about to offer, is of some interest to another current debate).

Once the border was effectively closed, the outlaws turned to crime within the United States, both rustling and stage-coach robbing among other adventures. From Texas to San Francisco, the frontier wondered at their exploits and demanded action to stop them. The threat to the Wells, Fargo shipments, in particular, was almost existential to the southern Arizona silver mines. Wells, Fargo was the only service in the area willing to insure transported goods against theft. If they stopped carrying the silver, there would be little point in mining it.

As a result, a lot of attention was focused on this band, which was widely called "the Cowboys." The famous Earp brothers, Deputy US Marshals, were only some of those involved in trying to understand and to stop them.

I will here quote from Casey Tefertiller's Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend, p. 111.

More complicated, however, was that no one really quite understood whether or not the cowboys were organized or knew who served as their real leaders. At various times, Old Man Clanton, George Turner, Ike Clanton, John Ringo, and Curley Bill [Brocious] were all identified as the leaders. Wells, Fargo officials said in March of 1882 that the cowboys were a gang of about seventy-five under the leadership of Ike Clanton. At about the same time, Virgil Earp told the Examiner that there had been about two hundred cowboys, but fifty had been killed, and they were under Ringo's leadership. Thornotn, the Galeyville hotel manager and friend of Curley Bill, probably had the bset understanding of the group when he said: "The cowboys have no chief, nor do they run in gangs, as is generally supposed. Curly Bill... has no gang, and since his last partner shot him... Bill don't take well to partners. No, sir, the 'cowboys' don't herd together in droves, but come and go about their own personal business wherever they desire to go."
I've been watching Southern Thailand for several years and in some detail, and I wonder if that isn't the model. I wonder if it isn't "terrorist groups" or even gangs, but a loose collection of like-minded people, two or three of whom get together once in a while and kill some Buddhists. Or ten or twenty of whom get together once and again and rob someplace, while laying ambush for the police on likely pursuit routes.

That last is a degree of sophistication that suggests organization. But it doesn't take much organization. I've just suggested it to you, and if you decided to set up an insurgency, you'd probably remember that I suggested it. That doesn't mean we're organized together; and if you once did it that way and it was reported in the press, a third person thinking the same way would say, "Right, that worked well. I should do that when I rob the train."

Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group has pointed to some evidence of Bangladeshi folks in some of the bigger acts; a few such would be all it takes to start passing the ideas among a community of young outlaws. A few people passing hints, making contact where they can, would be all it took.

That would account for the anonymity, and also for the difficulty that intelligence services have had in penetrating the insurgent groups. A setup like this would be less easy to penetrate than the old cellular system employed by the PIRA and others.

So, what if this is right? What if you've got a loose group of young Muslims who, instead of rustling or robbing stages, have decided to murder a Buddhist here and there when they have a chance? Is that more, or less worrisome than an organized insurgency? Why?

It suggests a goal, by the way: ethnic cleansing. Any greater goal would require more organization than they appear to feel necessary; and there is no obvious financial motive. It appears to be a simple desire to rid their own personal world of non-Muslims.

Think about that for a bit, and see if it doesn't fit. It may open some doors in understanding the conflict.

NoVA meets VCDL

NoVA meets VCDL:

A while back, a group of gun owners were having dinner in a pizza joint in Manassas, VA. As required by VA law, when dining in a restaurant which serves alcohol, they had their firearms openly displayed.

Somebody called the cops and reported a bunch of armed men eating dinner, and said the guns made him "uncomfortable." The cops apparently harrassed the dinner party, and then went to the manager of the restaurant to get him to ask them to leave so they, the cops, could throw out the gun-owning diners.

No one was arrested because no laws had been broken by anyone. But the cops got what they wanted -- a chance to show that, if you carry a gun, legally or not, you'll be in trouble with the police.

Last night, the gun owners gave their reply.

More than a hundred members of the Virginia Citizens' Defense League showed up at the Manassas city council meeting to protest the action and demand the officers be disciplined. Speakers from the organization held the floor for one and a half hours -- video will apparently be available soon -- to explain the virtues of gun ownership and gun rights, and to demand that people exercising those rights be treated with respect.

According to the VCDL page, "The Mayor led off by saying that he could not remember ever seeing such a large crowd for **anything** they had done before!"

Good job.

Kilcullen "Marathon" Post

Kilcullen "Marathon" Post at Small Wars Journal

At the SWJ blog, LTC Kilcullen has a good post on the "Baghdad Marathon." This was interesting in light of our recent discussion of victory and time in Iraq.

In comments to my post, Grim rightly pointed out that how long an "insurgency" last is sometimes a matter of opinion - depending on whether, say, you count intense IRA campaigns punctuated by years of peace (and preparation) as one long insurgency or a series of discrete ones (and whether you include those periods of preparation as part of the insurgency). I suggested that the most problematic groups in Iraq, "offensive" Sunni militias and AQIZ, couldn't afford to lengthen their lifespan by lying low for a while, because their ability to make Iraq look like a "failed state" relies on their ability to keep up the violence year after year, continuously from the beginning.

On that minor point, if Kilcullen is right, the enemy seems to agree with me:

"By shifting our approach away from directly hunting down insurgents, and towards protecting the population, we have undercut their influence – they know it, and their options are to flee, wait us out, or come into the open to contest control of the neighborhoods. The fact that some are coming into the open suggests they realize that waiting us out is not an option. It also makes the job of finding the enemy far easier. This is encouraging, as long as we can protect the people."

That doesn't give me hope for quick victory - and the title of his post, "The Iraq Marathon," suggests that it doesn't do that for him either. I still think 15 years is more realistic than 5. (And I still welcome thoughts on improving my estimate.)


Horses, IV:

About a week ago, we got in a whole new shipment of horses from Wisconsin. They were fuzzy beasts, with the shaggy winter coat you'd need up Wisconsin way if you were in an open field. They apparently never had shoes, not any of them, because I spent the better part of last week helping the farrier get them fixed up. One of them in particular, named Sherlock, really does not like to have his feet messed with. Even now that he has shoes on, you have to rope him three different ways to clean his back feet, and he still tries to get you.

They were at one point or another broken to riding, but, ah, not all of it stuck with them all the way down to Georgia. We train horses both for Western trail riding and various English sports, and so we have several trainers who work with the animals. Our top dressage trainer got bucked right off the new mare last week, which is always hilarious as long as nobody really gets hurt.

And then there's Romeo:

This one was a diamond in the rough. Once we clipped off his coat, we found a very charming, patient horse who can go straight to a canter from a walk. He's not quite as brave as some horses, but he's easy and willing and friendly.

And he's a handsome beast, too.

Yeah, I figured that if I wanted some pictures of Romeo for you, I'd better get them up in a hurry. I don't expect he'll be around real long.

By the way, that vest in the picture is from Coronado Leather. They're famous because they were the ones who came up with the idea of building concealed holsters into the vest. I use that vest for camping and hiking, because it's like a cuirass against briars and thorns and brush. It's not ideal for trail riding because it's not cut right for the saddle, but they make some that are. They also make leather jackets, for those of you who want a full-sized bomber or something similar.

The thing holds up beautifully with little effort. I carry my short-barrled Ruger New Model Vaquero .45 in it, and it retains the revolver just fine when the horse is at the canter.

My point is that Coronado's stuff is good kit, for those of you who like to adventure in the backcountry.