A Companion Piece:

Once you've read Doc Russia's piece, below, you might try Mark Steyn's latest:

I hope if ever I find myself one of the unfortunate subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship, that it's Bush and the Republicans who take up my cause rather than the Left.

The other day I found myself, for the umpteenth time, driving in Vermont behind a Kerry/Edwards supporter whose vehicle also bore the slogan FREE TIBET. It must be great to be the guy with the printing contract for the FREE TIBET stickers. Not so good to be the guy back in Tibet wondering when the freeing thereof will actually get under way...

If Rumsfeld were to say, "Free Tibet? Jiminy, what a swell idea! The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday," the bumper-sticker crowd would be aghast. But for those of us on the arrogant unilateralist side of things, that's not how it works. FREE AFGHANISTAN? Done. FREE IRAQ? Done.
Cuba Libre. It's not just a cocktail.

"The Death Throes of Hope"

Doc Russia has a post you really ought to read. Brace yourself, first.

"Big Dwarf Rodeo": Reverend Horton Heat: Compilation Albums: Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush?


The mother-in-law is sick, so the wife and boy are off visiting them this last little while. As I was telling Sovay yesterday, when I happened to have a chance to talk to her for a few minutes, the experience has been enlightening.

As a youngster, I always thought I was a loner by nature. Turns out, that's not quite true. I don't have much use for people, and am happy going whole days without speaking to anyone or seeing anyone -- except my family, which extends to my closest friends. So, turns out I'm not a loner but a family man. I just want to locate my family way out away from the rest of humanity.

In the meantime, life around here is a bit like the Rev. Horton Heat song, "Where In The H*** Did You Go With My Toothbrush?" The house seems suddenly and surprisingly empty, but the unpaid bills keep turning up in the mail.

No reason any of you should care about that. Still, since there's nobody else around to listen to my stories, you're stuck with it.

Belmont Club

Indonesia at the Belmont Club

Wretchard has a thorough piece on reactions to the Bashir sentence. Those interested in the Southeast Asian front will find it worth reading.


More Fun From PACOM

I'll bet Admiral Fargo is glad to be retiring:

Tensions in the Sulawesi Sea rose a notch yesterday when three Indonesian warships moved into the waters to bolster Jakarta's claim to the potentially-oil-rich area over which they are in dispute with Malaysia.

Meanwhile, across Indonesia, students and workers protested against diesel fuel price hikes in massive street rallies, describing the move to raise prices a mark of government arrogance. Their anger rose further when plans for transport fare increases were announced in Jakarta.

All too soon, it seemed, the goodwill generated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's recent visit to Malaysia, where Malaysian Prime Minster Abdullah Badawi warmly feted him, was fast evaporating.
Well, what's three little warships? Or four, or...
The warships were now patrolling the disputed area off the coast of Malaysia's Sabah state and the Indonesia's East Kalimantan province, Navy spokesman First Admiral Abdul Maliki Yusuf told AFP.

A fourth ship was on its way, Adm Yusuf said, adding that the navy was also considering sending a submarine to the area.

Two Nomad maritime aircraft to conduct reconnaissance for possible incursions into Indonesian territory, including airspace violations by foreign aircraft, had also been deployed, Lt Col Guntur Wahyudi, a spokesman for Indonesia's Eastern Fleet told dpa.
Then there's a little excursion into some reporting on oil prices, which news you probably saw on today's Drudge. The one marked OPEC: Prices Could Hit $80. That's the kind of thing that will inconvenience a lot of Americans, but it can drive poorer states to the brink of resource war.



I had occasion last night to play poker with a World War II Marine.

There isn't much to say about it, even thought I thought it was a remarkable experience. The fellow is now nearly eighty, and still a good poker player though he had a bad night. As a consequence, I also had a bad night -- I was damned if I was going to leave the table having made money off a World War II Marine. I ended up playing to lose until he left for the evening. I won my stake back on the last few hands, but I barely came out better than even for the evening.

I asked if he was a Marine because he was, nearly sixty years after having left the Corps, still wearing a cap with the USMC emblem on it. He allowed that he was, and said nothing more about it. Others at the table filled me in on his record with enthusiasm, but he only growled about it and insisted that somebody cut the #$@!ing cards.

Once a Marine, always a Marine.

It made me remember that it was time to change the charity linked behind the Leatherneck Tartan at the top right of the blog. I've set it to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Those of you in a giving mood, etc.

The Courier-Mail: Cleric Bashir gets 2� years [03mar05]

Bakar Bashir:

Well, he didn't walk. Not exactly. The death-penalty prosecution, in the most important terror trial in Asia, did manage to find a charge that pinned 2 1/2 years on the fellow. He was, however, cleared of most of the charges.

The trial is telling. At the end, supporters from the Indonesian Holy Warrior's Council (Majelis Mujahedeen Indonesia) cried aloud, dominating the courtroom and the streets beyond. "Allah Akbar!

The judges, meanwhile, immediately vacated the court, and vanished behind the protection of the state.


Sign & Sight

That is the name of a new website, devoted to European thinking. It is to be published in English, which Arts & Letters Daily describes as 'the only pan-European language.'

Curiously, S&S has an article on just that topic: Manifesto. It begins with the death of a famous French writer, who hated the French press, but loved the German one. So, he stipulated that his final work could only be published in France after it had been published in Germany:

What happened was nothing. Several months after Bourdieu's death, Suhrkamp published "Esquisse pour une auto-analyse" as a slim volume. Utter silence. The German media failed to understand this as a scoop, a text that was awaited elsewhere, a gift from Bourdieu to what he considered a qualified German public. Months later the press published a few obligatory reviews. The French didn't bat an eyelid. While a small excerpt had provoked a scandal only a few months before, the full text went unnoticed. No one in the French media reads the German papers thoroughly, and no scouts are keeping track of cultural trends in Germany. Only when the volume was published in France did the usual brouhaha begin.
The author of this piece asks, "Is there a Europe beyond milk quotas?" If the cultures are that disconnected and disinterested, to what degree is there a Europe at all? Not only are the cultures disconnected, but their understanding of core symbols is often reversed:
The Bourdieu effect is not uncommon. When Jürgen Habermas launched his "Core Europe" initiative, no one joined the debate. Who outside the Netherlands had heard of Theo van Gogh before he was murdered? And when everybody in Paris was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the city's liberation in August last year, no one was aware of what was happening in Warsaw at the same time. While a few streets in Paris were being named after members of the communist resistance, whose valour is indisputable, Warsaw was fixated on the enduring memory of Stalin's icy smile as he watched Hitler bomb the Polish resistance into the ground. The end of liberation.
The piece then turns to the case for, and against, English; and by extension, for and against America. It's an interesting read, but it finishes with this conclusion: "Let's talk European!"

By which they mean English.

Mudville Gazette


The Mudville Gazette has a photo essay on the breaking of chains. De Oppresso Liber.

Al invites US military men to break their own chains:

If you are united states military personnel and a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq, don’t wait any longer! As soon as you get back to America, pack your bags and head north.

You can go to the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C. for more information however, in order to make a clean escape, it is recommended that you tell as few people as possible of your plans and just make a break for the boarder.

When you arrive in Canada, head for the first government building you see, and tell them that you are in the united states military and that you would like to seek asylum in Canada.
What are the advantages of desertion? There's a list:






So really, we're all on the same side here. We just want to free people. Just some of us are vicious about it.

Pacific Currents: Gore draws Chinese to animal parks

Chinese Animal Parks:

Via the Best of the Web today, I saw this article on Chinese animal parks:

While some of these visitors may be animal lovers, they have not paid $7 apiece merely to drive around and admire the huge felines lounging about in their snowy compounds.

They are here to see some action. But first, they must pay.

"You can buy a domesticated chicken for 40 yuan ($4.80) or for 100 yuan ($12.10) you can buy a wild one, which flies," the driver announces. "The effect is much different; it's exceptionally thrilling."

In their hourlong tour of this park, tourists will watch ravenous tigers chasing down live chickens, sheep and cows. Feathers will be plucked and limbs torn by the 300-pound cats while the tourists gasp, scream, cheer and recoil at the carnage.
But there is an innate sort of fairness at work:
Like many new industries in China, this one grew quickly without government oversight. Several people have been mauled to death at parks.
Well, sometimes:
One park put a turtle in a glass box and allowed people to throw coins at it so they could try to hit its shell. At another, a tiger's head was chained down so that children could climb on its back for photos.

A few parks even allow visitors to pay extra to watch a live horse get devoured by lions and tigers.
This all reminds me of my time in China. In the city of HangZhou, once capital of the Southern Song Dynasty, there is a place called "the HangZhou Bird's Paradise."

The chief attraction? Daily Cockfights, noon and three.

There are some photos from HangZhou here, which look enough like mine that I won't bother to upload the things.

Times Online - Sunday Times

The March of Science:

Yeah, okay. But I'm still planning on eating one now and then.

The Blue Bus is calling us...: Iraq Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 110

Car Bombs & The Fourth Generation:

It's things like this that have spurred me to teach the military science classes online. It isn't enough to be horrified; you have to go the next step, and realize that these things are probably going to come to America sooner or later. Many military scientists think that in "Fourth Generation" warfare, the distinction between civilian and military will largely disappear: the enemy will attack civilian targets so often that it will no longer be possible to rely on professional forces -- military or police -- as the primary defense of targets.

In broad terms, fourth generation warfare seems likely to be widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between "civilian" and "military" may disappear.
The car bomb (or VBIED/SVBIED, in military-lingo) is by far the most deadly weapon in the hands of modern insurgents -- in Iraq or otherwise. Unless they get their hands on radiological / nuclear material, that will probably remain true; and even the radiological material is most effective when combined with a car bomb.

Car bombs can't be controlled by restricting access to explosives; the ones in Iraq often use tank or artillery shells just because there were so many weapons depots in Iraq, but it's just as easy to make them out of common household or farm chemicals. For the same reasons -- power and access to explosives -- they have been the most popular weapons for serious terrorists. The IRA's long-argued-over surrender of its guns is purely symbolic; the successes of the movement have been won with bombs, not guns.

There isn't a good way of countering these things. The standard way is to create checkpoints where you can stop and search every vehicle that passes, but these are so manpower intensive that you can't set up very many. As a consequence, the best you can usually do is to set them up randomly in the hope of catching the car bomber by surprise. Even then, a suicide car bomber will probably just detonate at the checkpoint, still managing to kill quite a few people. It is possible that in the future, technology solutions may arise to aid these problems: robots to man checkpoints, chemical sniffers to search cars (though again, the wide variety of potential explosives hampers the effort to develop such sniffers).

The other option is to erect barriers and create no-vehicle zones. There are some notable side benefits to doing so -- they create pleasant areas for families and children, a kind of "main street" feel for small-business friendly districts, etc.

However, their size is limited by pratical considerations (e.g., how do you get food to restaurants/grocery stores in these zones? Well, you have to carry it in, which you can only do over so much distance; therefore, the zone can only be so big). They end up being practical for small popular concentrations, such as small towns, but not for large cities (imagine trying to subdivide Manhattan into a series of no-vehicle zones). However, large cities are where they are needed most, b/c of the population concentration that makes it easiest to kill lots of people there.

The logical consequence is the finality of a trend that started fifty years ago: the death of big American cities. America is large enough, and rich, enough to redistribute its population into a series of no-vehicle exurb-style towns if the business becomes important. There is some indication that Americans would prefer that lifestyle anyway, and it's consistent with the service-based economy and increasing telecommunication. In fact, life in or near such a zone could be relatively more pleasant than in current, vehicle-based suburbs.

It won't work for nations whose economic base is manufacturing, however, where there has to be concentration of manpower in zones easy to reach by transportation. Technology solutions will have to serve there; but, of course, these relatively poorer nations are the least well-suited to developing those solutions.

From the Halls to the Shores


Mike the Marine has some movie reviews for you:

Regardless of all that, "Gung Ho!" is a film for the ages. It lets us see what America saw during a time of crisis sixty years ago. It clues us into the mindset required to win a war. And it lets us know just how far the Hollywood elites have removed themselves from their country in the sixty years since.
Sometime Grim's Hall poster Daniel has book reviews.

And Doc Russia has (in addition to his take on the Tyler shooting) a few firearm reviews.

There you go: performance art, literature, and physical education. We aim for the well rounded man here at Grim's Hall.


And a Little Child...

BlackFive links to this column from the Tennessean. The land of Davy Crockett continues to produce men who volunteer their services in the cause of liberty. That, we expect. But what shall we say to these children of Mesopotamia?