Comments & Links

Comments Policy & New Links:

I've noticed a dropoff in the number of comments lately. I wanted to take the opportunity to spur you all on to speak up! Probably the part of blogging I enjoy most is the chance to talk to my readers, and examine the issues raised in the light of their experience. If you agree but have a different take; or you disagree; or you just want to think some more about an issue and want to ask questions: by all means post comments!

Since I'm calling for comments, I thought it would be wise to repost the comments policy. I adopted it from the sadly-defunct Texas Mercury, a fringe publication but one whose bold assertion of well considered and unusual ideas I always enjoyed:

As we see it, modern society has all the important ideas of life exactly backwards: we are completely against the belief in sensitivity and tolerance in politics and raffish disregard in private life. The Texas Mercury is founded on the opposite principles- our idea is of tolerance and polite sensitivity in private life and ruthless truth in politics. Be nice to your neighbor. Be hell to his ideas.
Comments failing to uphold those principles run the risk of being deleted without warning. In the year and some months since I adopted that as the policy here, I've added one additional point: hit-and-run comments, as well as anonymous comments, will generally be deleted. If you're a regular here, and willing to stand up and fight for what you believe, you can say pretty much anything that isn't a personal attack on a fellow reader. If you're just wandering through, or unwilling to leave your name (even a false name you'll stand by will do, e.g., "Grim"), pass on. This is a hall, and regular readers are honored guests not to be troubled by cowards.

The second announcement is that I have some new links on the sidebar. I've restructured the links to include an entire section on gun and knife work, plus bloggers who concentrate on those things. If you have suggestions, please let me know. I won't be posting commercial links (i.e., not even to Smith & Wesson firearms), but will post links to places that teach about the safe and effective use of weapons; forums for enthusiasts; and societies founded to teach or preserve historic techniques.

Bladework sites are harder to find, as there are not nearly so many enthusiasts for knife and sword teachings as there are firearms enthusiasts. However, I heartly suggest you visit the Schola St. George, an organization teaching historic Western martial arts. These, which have all but died out, are every bit as impressive as the more-familiar Eastern martial arts. The latter survived because warfighting as a practical matter did not evolve as fast in the East, allowing living masters to survive into the 20th century. The great Western swordsmasters died out a century earlier, when warfighters no longer needed their skills, and the abolition of the duel caused what remained of Western swordfighting to turn into a sport with rigid rules. A living art requires a vibrant engagement with change.

For those of you who would like to learn the old styles, however, a few reconstructionists attempt to bring them back and keep them available. The Schola has a number of links to allied groups, and you may find one in your area. (I'm looking at you, Sovay.)

Finally, I've added a link, under "Other Halls," to the blog of frequent commenter Wilde Karrde. Anyone else who comments regularly and well, and who has a blog I've neglected to link, please let me know by email and I'll be glad to add you. Karrde appears to be a mathematician by training. The world needs more such. My own ability barely escapes basic geometry, algebra and probability theory... indeed, some would say it doesn't escape them. Still, I have a genuine respect for anyone who can master the field. There are few better examples of intellectual treasure than the understanding of mathematics that humanity has built over the centuries. It underlies every real accomplishment in the sciences, and more than a few in the arts. Give him a read, and see what he has to say.

UPDATE: Congratulations to JarHeadGRANDDad! See the comments.

A16DC - Protest the World Bank and IMF - Calendar

Protesters and Darwin:

There are, apparently, anti-World Bank protests scheduled for this "long weekend." Work sent me a warning not to wander downtown, in order to avoid the ruckus. I have to say that I was impressed by the protests' webpage, but probably not the way they intended me to be:

Friday is Play in Traffic Day - Friday, what a great day to disrupt the normal flow of things. At five pm there will be a Critical Mass Bike Ride leaving from Dupont Circle. But why wait until five pm to play in traffic. [sic] It can be fun all day.
Yeah. Ya'll do that, now. Best of luck.

Grim's Hall

Buy A Gun Day:

Today is Buy A Gun Day, which I believe was begun by Aaron's Rantblog. I used to link to it, until it went on hiatus. The notion was to take your tax refund, and use it to purchase a gun -- thus giving the more intrusive portions of the Federal gov't a notion of what you'd rather the money had been spent upon to begin with.

Since Grim is an independent contractor, it has been quite some time since there was anything akin to a "tax refund" around here. I paid the last of my 2004 taxes in January, and now am paying this year's taxes, first quarterly installment. As a consequence, there's no money for guns... which is a real shame, because I can certainly think of one or two... er, or so.

However, I hate to let a holiday of this sort go by uncelebrated, so while I was at the range yesterday I substituted the rituals for National Ammo Day instead.

In the words of Jayne Cobb, 'We're ammo'd up pretty good. I got a discount because of my intimidatin' manner.'

Of course, I shot up a lot of it at the range... well, a man can only do what he can do.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Welcome back, Aaron.


ANGLICO Marines Ask Aid:

BlackFive has more.



Speaking of arms in the sunlight, I've a story I've been meaning to tell for several days. It happened last Sunday, on the last day of the final gun show to be held in Bealton, VA. The show hall is being sold, and the organizers say they don't expect to do it anymore.

I hadn't known that there was a Bealton gun show, but my Canadian friend asked me if I were going when I saw him on Saturday. I probably wouldn't have gone, if it hadn't been the last of its kind, but I thought I might meet some dealers I wouldn't otherwise ever meet. So, on Sunday morning, I piled the wife and our two-year-old son into the car and -- on the way to a nearby park for an afternoon's pleasant hike -- we went by the show.

There was nothing there that interested me at all, except for one fellow named Paul Proctor. He wasn't actually in the show hall. He'd set up his tent out the back of his van, and was selling custom made hunting knives.

I have a lot of knives.

Still, these things were fine looking: hilts of antler or elk bone, and -- although they were made of stainless rather than carbon steel -- they were hand forged by a man who had been making them longer than I have been alive. Beautiful things. But, as I said, I already own a lot of knives.

I talked to Mr. Proctor for a few minutes, and then went into the show hall to look around. After determining that nothing there interested me, I bought a Venison sausage to take on the hike, and then went out to find my family and get on with the day.

When I found my wife and little boy, the wife said, "Hey, I have something to show you." She reached into her belt, pulled out one of these hunting knives -- a small skinner, which would have cost about a hundred dollars -- and handed it to me.

The man had given it to her, she said. As a gift. For our son.

"Have your husband hold it for him," he said, "until the boy is old enough. He looks like a fine boy, and he's going to need a good knife someday."

The world is full of kind and generous people. Maybe the world hasn't prepared you to look for them at gun shows. That's just where one of them found me, though.

I went back and bought a knife for myself, so that my son and I would each have one. You can see the pair of them here. Mr. Proctor turns out to be quite an adventurer. At seventy-four years old, he had a number of stories to tell -- stories I would have been glad to hear even without the gift thrown in.

A salute, then, to a fine man I am proud to barely know. To Mr. Paul Proctor, adventurer, smith, and a man kind to children.


Arms In Sunlight:

Spurred by the recent range reports by Plainsman and the Geek, I decided to head out to the range today. I took along my Winchester 94, and my Smith & Wesson 629. I probably haven't shot it in a year, but the recent chat Plainsman and I were having on wild boar hunting caused me to want to get it out of the safe and work it out.

Like the Geek, winter has left me rusty. After shooting up a practice target (which you can see here, if you want), I took a second target and put six .44 slugs through it.

That target, my "proof of concept" target for the .44 as a defensive firearm, is here. The first four were the ones closest to the center. I can't tell you how disappointing that fifth round was -- the flier off to the lower left. Still a pretty good shot, I guess, for the fifth round of sustained fire out of a .44, and "close enough for gov't work" in a defensive situation. Still, it messed up a fine group. I was able to adjust fire back a bit for the sixth round.

I tried some offhand shooting with the Winchester, and it's given me a sore left shoulder. Not terribly accurate stuff, either. Still, it's good to practice in different ways.

The Chronicle: 4/15/2005: Clever Canines

On Keeping Dogs:

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece on studies related to dog intelligence. The author went by a leading university:

There are no cages at Lorand Eotvos University's department of ethology, the study of animal behavior. And why would there be? asks Mr. Csanyi, the department's founder and chairman. 'The human world is the dog's natural environment,' he says, as a gregarious adolescent mutt pokes into the office, wags his tail, and leaves.
The rest of the article is interesting, but that is a core insight. It is good to keep a dog, and the best way to do it is to let him live with you. Let him guard your truck (or car) while you're in the store; let him lie on the rug by your desk while you work. Take him running with you. In those ways, both you and he will be happier than you would have been otherwise, unless the dog has a malformed personality, or you do.

More or less the same principle applies to children, who are best raised by being kept close to hand. Modern urban society has gone to such lengths to separate children from adults, and to keep dogs out of so many places that it is hard to bring them with you. This is one reason, I suspect, for the growth of the "exurbs" -- people will gladly spend hours of their days in commuting, each day if need be, and fortunes on gasoline, if only they can live in a place that is friendly to children and dogs. Meanwhile, the few exceptions in genuine urban areas -- in the D.C. region, I notice that Alexandria and DuPont Circle are dog-friendly, though only Alexandria is also child-friendly, and not completely at that -- become the most sought-after and expensive of neighborhoods.

Just some idle thinking on a Thursday morning. Hat tip: Arts & Letters Daily.

Marine Reserves Who Lost 12 Return

2/24 Returns:

Here is an article on the return of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, United States Marine Corps Reserve. The 2/24 followed "our own" 2/2 as having responsibility for some of the deadliest parts of the Sunni Triangle. Where as the 2/2 are regulars, the 2/24 is a Reserve unit. We all predicted heavy casualties. The Reservist faces an extra risk in a war zone: every day spent in his civilian life is a day not spent training for war. It therefore takes tremendous courage to volunteer for Reserve service. The duty can be just as tough, and the risks are higher.

In fact the 2/24 lost twelve men, including five from Fox Company. Their service was in keeping with the best traditions of their unit. Captain Joseph J. McCarthy, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service leading Co. G. on Iwo Jima, would be proud of what they accomplished in Iraq. Doc is right: They still make 'em like they used to.

The Corner on National Review Online


The Corner is having a discussion on moustaches and facial hair in politics. By far my favorite post to date is this one by John Derbyshire:

An old China hand emails: "JD---I'm sure you will recall that foreign correspondents in China's capital (do I dare say Peking?) used to call those portraits [i.e. of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin] 'The History of Shaving.'"
I usually wear a full beard by winter, and a moustache in the summer. There is, however, some math involved.

Belmont Club

Belmont Club on China:

The Belmont Club is back up.

The American Thinker

More on China:

The American Thinker has a piece on Chinese container ships, which could (in theory) be used for an out of the blue attack on Taiwan. As professor Wang Jisi says in the article, "The danger of war truly exists. We are not a paper tiger. We are a real tiger."

The Washington Post has a piece on some structural changes in the Chinese military. The Belmont Club had some good words on topic when I looked there earlier today, but Wretchard's site seems to be down at the moment.

The other China news is the anti-Japanese protests of the weekend. The Financial Times quotes Yan Xuetong, a notable Chinese scholar:

Beijing had been put in an "awkward position" by the anger of young Chinese against Japan, said Yan Xuetong, a professor at Tsinghua University, rejecting claims that the government tacitly supported the demonstrations.

"The Chinese government never looks for people to go to the streets according to their own will," said Professor Yan. "These demonstrations can sometimes be turned into something else."
Japan's response has been to demand an apology, and speak dismissively of the protests. Shinzo Abe, the man most likely to be the next Japanese Prime Minister, had this to say:
Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary-general of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, said Sunday that anger at social problems in China, including widening income gaps, are behind the weekend marches.

"Japan is an outlet to vent that anger," Abe said in an appearance on the "Sunday Project" television program. "Since the Tiananmen incident, these kinds of demonstrations were severely restricted, but the authorities tolerated these kinds of anti-Japanese gatherings, and the people themselves used these anti-Japanese marches. Because of the anti-Japanese education there, it's easy to light the fire of these demonstrations and, because of the Internet, it's easy to assemble a lot of people."
While there is doubtless real truth to that, Chinese subjects retain great anger toward the Japanese. Though it was not a frequent topic of conversation while I was in China, when the subject of Japan did come up, the Chinese -- especially my students, still in college and with their history lessons fresh in their minds -- expressed venom. I gather from conversations with my students that the Chinese history of the Second World War goes something like this: evil Japanese came to China, raped the Chinese women, killed their fathers and forced them mothers to smother their babies while hiding; burned the cities; ravaged the landscape; conducted horrible experiments on the people; and then were driven off by the heroic Mao Zedong, who in passing ran out the "bandits" led by Jiang. The existence of a wider war, or America's role in forcing Japan's surrender and the collapse of the Japanese empire, goes almost unmentioned.

Now, a fair amount of the Chinese complaint against Japan is true -- there really were rapings and burnings and killings, as well as horrible experiments. The nationalist element just focuses that wrath and makes it worse.

The Chinese are, of course, aware of their oppression. But they are also divided -- not so much in the sense that there are people who feel one way and people who feel the other, but in the way that the same person feels and believes two different things. The first thing is this: that they are oppressed by the Communists. The second thing is this: that China is the rightful center of all human civilization. Thus, like the young son of an abusive father, they both hate and love their master. It may be, in time, that they will strike him down; but in the meantime, they will fight anyone who raises a fist against him. The Chinese may be counting on a war with Taiwan to hold off their internal divisions for a while.

A Memorial


Corporal Glenn Watkins, husband and father, volunteered to remain an extra year in Iraq in order to serve with his old unit. He was killed by a VBIED, the first combat casualty suffered by his battalion. Asked why he had chosen to stay, he said, "Sir -- someone’s got to teach these guys the ropes."

Another in his unit describes the memorial:

What bothered me most. Though, was all the pomp that went with it. It could have been much simpler, a formation, the field cross, and some words about the man. This was to parade ground, it was somebody's idea of how to have a memorial, like a movie set and we were all just actors in the scene.... To me it cheapened the man's life and all he sacrificed by extending an extra year so he could serve with his old friends in Alpha.
How to say what wants to be said? Not two miles from my house is a mass grave. I have never walked by it without finding fresh flowers there, and little flags -- both American and Confederate -- left around it, posted into the ground on dowel rods.

They died in the hospitals following First and Second Manassas, among so many others that individual graves could not be made for them. Nor could their companions pause even so long as to bury them: that was done by civilians, and their graves were marked only by wooden markers written by schoolchildren. When those markers were used for firewood in 1863's bitter winter, the names were lost for more than a hundred years.

Yet their honor is not less for how they were memorialized. A grateful citizenry tends their graves to this day. When records were discovered in 1982 listing the names of 520 of the 600 dead, a group of such civilians raised a memorial over the mass grave, with the names written this time in stone.

It is a kindness that the tempo of this war is such that we have time to memorialize our dead, and to write their names on our hearts as well as on their markers. We have time to hear their stories, remarkable each one.

To Corporal Watkins.

The Epoch Times | Over 30 Jiaotong University Alumni Withdraw from the Communist Party and League

Major China News:

Were you aware that 750,000 people have resigned from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? If reports are to be believed, CCP resignations are running from 15-20,000 a day.

The New York Times > Washington > U.S. Commanders See Possible Cut in Troops in Iraq

MILSCI: What Victory Looks Like

Now that even The New York Times admits that Iraq is going well, I think it's time to recognize that we are on the road to victory. There remain pitfalls, to be sure, but they are mostly -- as they have been all along -- political rather than military. There is much more risk in the Iraqi political process than in the enemy's attacks.

The enemy has resorted to bold, futile attacks that have little prospect of success -- the rough equivalent, in roulette, of putting all your remaining chips on 22 in the hope of winning enough back to make up for what you've lost. All there is to win, even should they be successful, is a propaganda victory. There are adequate reinforcements to retake any areas almost at once. The increase in Iraqi security forces has allowed for persistant control even in what were "no go" areas six months ago.

In addition, our own units -- always superior to the foe -- have improved and hardened. JHD reports on 2/2's movements via email. For OPSEC reasons, I won't share the details, but I will pass on this: according to his thumbnail estimate, 75% of the 2/2 Marines are now "Senior Marines." Such men will not be lightly overthrown on the field. Indeed, they will ravage anyone who dares to rise up against them.

That said, I invite readers to reconsider the analysis I wrote of the Iraq War back in mid-September. It is called Clausewitz and the Triangle. I think it's fair to say that it predicted all these trends accurately, and well in advance of their appearance.

I wrote at the time that a study of military science was of tremendous importance to all citizens. It allows, I held, for a correct evaluation of what are otherwise confusing and frightening issues. The nation's fortunes are never more at risk than in matters of war and law, two matters on which it is so easy to become dependent on expert opinion. Both are complicated areas, with huge and arcane libraries of information and thought, eternally growing under the hands of men whose lives are devoted to filling them.

Still, we are called by our duty to understand. It can be done, as I hope this exercise has proven. It can be done by citizens, with no better tools than an education in military science, newspapers, and friends in the service who will give them the straight story.

What is unexplained, as yet, is why it couldn't be done by the CIA. But that is a question for another day.

Mudville Gazette

Soldier's Angels Request:

The Mudville Gazette fields a request for aid from readers of MilBlogs, and MilBloggers alike. As Greyhawk points out, the recent talk of progress doesn't change the fact that servicemen are still fighting in Iraq. Mid-April is a hard time to come up with extra cash (thanks for that, Uncle Sam), but you might keep them in mind if you have a few dollars more than you needed to pony up to the taxman.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp was liberated by 6th Armored Division of US Third Army

American Soldiers Humiliate Enemy:

I see via Kim that today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Third Army's liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp. You all know the story, naturally, though perhaps not all the details.

For example, I don't recall ever seeing that photo of Patton before...


Baldilocks Preaches A Sermon:

Relating a story about her haircut, Baldilocks makes an insightful comment. It's a response to an older man who told her that women shaving their heads is forbidden by the Bible. Her response, read more generally, is a good warning for the believer of most any religion:

It's people like you--who don't know what they're talking about--that drive others away from God, the Bible and the church. And I'm willing to bet that God will not forget.
That's a good point, is it not? Heritage & Culture - Tartan Day

Tartan Week:

Eric will be glad to know that The Scotsman shares his amusement with the American fascination with their ancestry. They're running a whole special edition celebrating "stateside Tartan Week."

It seems the UK government is in on the act, too. They don't seem to think it's funny, though. They're proudly laying claim to Americans from Pinkerton to Grant, and from Carnegie to John Paul Jones.