Oh, And By The Way:

Happy St. George's Day.

Grim's Hall honors all dragonslayers. This is one reason I named my son Beowulf. The name contains both his roots, and my hopes for him.

365 and a Wakeup: A True Warrior

CPL Watkins, II:

You may wish to read Thunder 6 today. He has a message that Corporal Watkins left for his unit, in case he might not make it.

Hat tip: Greyhawk.

The Scotsman - Top Stories - 13 years for shoebomb plotter who didn't board jet

Terror Trial:

As we all watch the Moussaoui trial in Alexandria, take a moment to glance over the pond. There, an accomplice of the famous "shoebomber" has just been sentenced to 13 years.

BIONIC HAND: Revolutionizing Prosthetics


Military.com has an article called "BIONIC HAND", which looks at the latest DARPA projects on the topic.

Cyberpunk 2020 looks closer every day, doesn't it?

WorldNetDaily: No charges for soldier who held aliens

Citizens' Arrest:

Daniel has it right: this is too good not to share:

Arizona law conveys the legal right to make a citizen's arrest if a felony is being committed in the citizen's presence or a felony has been committed and the citizen has reasonable grounds to be believe the subject has committed it.
It isn't just Arizona. That is a standard piece of American, and Anglo-Saxon, law. This is one thing that needs repeating from time to time, so here we go:
Historically, in Anglo Saxon law in medieval England citizen's arrests were an important part of community law enforcement. Sheriffs encouraged and relied upon active participation by able bodied persons in the towns and villages of their jurisdiction. From this legacy originated the concept of the posse comitatus which is a part of the United States legal tradition as well as the English. In medieval England, the right of private persons to make arrests was virtually identical to the right of a sheriff and constable to do so. (See Inbau and Thompson, Criminal Procedure, The Foundation Press, Mineola, NY 1974.
A strong argument can be made that the right to make a citizen's arrest is a constitutionally protected right under the Ninth Amendment as its impact includes the individual's natural right to self preservation and the defense of the others. Indeed, the laws of citizens arrest appear to be predicated upon the effectiveness of the Second Amendment. Simply put, without firepower, people are less likely going to be able to make a citizen's arrest. A random sampling of the various states as well as the District of Columbia indicates that a citizen's arrest is valid when a public offense was committed in the presence of the arresting private citizen or when the arresting private citizen has a reasonable belief that the suspect has committed a felony, whether or not in the presence of the arresting citizen.

In the most crime ridden spot in the country, our nation's capitol, District of Columbia Law 23- 582(b) reads as follows:

(b) A private person may arrest another -

(1) who he has probable cause to believe is committing in his presence -

(A) a felony, or

(B) an offense enumerated in section 23-581 (a)(2); or

(2) in aid of a law enforcement officer or special policeman, or other person authorized by law to make an arrest.

(c) Any person making an arrest pursuant to this section shall deliver the person arrested to a law enforcement officer without unreasonable delay. (July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 630, Pub. L. 91-358, Title II, ss. 210(a); 1973 Ed., ss. 23-582; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, ss. 7(e), 35 DCR 147.)

In Tennessee, it has been held that a private citizen has the right to arrest when a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it. Reasonable grounds will justify the arrest, whether the facts turn out to be sufficient or not. (See Wilson v. State, 79 Tenn. 310 (1833).

Contrast this to Massachusetts law, which while permitting a private person to arrest for a felony, permits those acquitted of the felony charge to sue the arresting person for false arrest or false imprisonment. (See Commonwealth v. Harris, 11 Mass. App. 165 (1981))

Kentucky law holds that a person witnessing a felony must take affirmative steps to prevent it, if possible. [The Official Code of Georgia, Annotated, says the same thing: this is "both the right and the duty" of the citizen--Grim] (See Gill v. Commonwealth, 235 KY 351 (1930.)

Indeed, Kentucky citizens are permitted to kill fleeing felons while making a citizen's arrest (Kentucky Criminal Code ss. 37; S 43, §44.) [Aside: Georgia's law permits citizens to use the same degree of force as peace officers in making arrests. Neither are permitted, however, to shoot fleeing suspects in the back.--Grim]

Utah law permits citizen's arrest, but explicitly prohibits deadly force. (See Chapter 76-2-403.)

Making citizen's arrest maliciously or without reasonable basis in belief could lead to civil or criminal penalties. It would obviously be a violation of a suspect's civil rights to use excessive force, to torture, to hold in unsafe or cruel conditions or to invent a reason to arrest for the ulterior motive of settling a private score.

Civil lawsuits against department stores, police departments, and even cult deprogrammers for false imprisonment are legend. Anybody who makes a citizens arrest should not use more force than is necessary, should not delay in turning the suspect over to the proper authorities, and should never mete out any punishment ... unless willing to face the consequences.

As the ability of the powers that be to hold society together and preserve law and order diminishes, citizen's arrests will undoubtedly be more common as a way to help communities cope with the wrongdoers in out midst.
Read this, too.

Southern Gentleman, Marine, Germanic Tribalist -- A Different Point of View

Remember Goliad!

Daniel has a post celebrating the battle of San Jacinto, which happened today in 1836. Among the details he mentions is something I didn't know, about a fellow of the Great State of Georgia:

Brevit Colonel (he was formally a Private)Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar formerly of Georgia, formed the extreme right with his cavalry. Incidentally, this warrior-poet was later a President of The Texas Republic. He's one of my favorite Texan personalities.

Newsday.com: Thailand to Host World Toilet Summit

News from Thailand:

You'll be glad to know that Thailand's tourist economy, devastated for a time by the tsunami, is recovering. The Danish Prime Minister was down in Thailand this week, urging tourists to come back. And, in addition, there's the upcoming World Toilet Summit:

Thailand plans to upgrade hygiene in its public toilets to meet international standards as it prepares to host the World Toilet Summit next year, a health official said Wednesday.
Yeah, good idea. I hope they're better than Chinese "toilets," also known as holes.
"Toilets are very important for the country's image in the eyes of visitors," said Somyos Chareonsak, a senior official of the Public Health Ministry.
But not in the eyes of citizens?
The first summit, organized by the World Toilet Organization, was held in 2001 in Singapore. China, where toilet facilities are often in need of upgrades, hosted one last year.
"Often in need of upgrades." Having used quite a few Chinese "toilets," I can honestly say that "this place needs an upgrade" is not a phrase that ever entered my mind.

But hey, I'm not the only one having fun with this story. Another AP article on the upgrading of Thai toilets begins, "Thailand is watching its bottom line."

The Aussies, who are calling it the "Loo Summit," have another version of the joke:
Showing scant regard for the bottom line, Thailand says it will improve public toilet hygiene standards as it prepares to host next year’s world toilet summit....

In an effort to sniff out those that are not up to scratch, health officials plan to inspect public toilets at schools, restaurants and tourist venues....

Topics to be flushed out include toilet design and technology, toilet management and hygiene and energy-saving measures.

China, notorious for its odorous and unhygienic public toilets, hosted the same event last year.
Apparently my opinion of Chinese toilets is fairly widespread.

And then there's this article, called "Thailand ripe for building," but I think it's on another topic.

Soldiers' Angels

Soldiers' Angels

The Soldiers' Angels are having what they describe, in embarrassed tones, as their "once a year please we need money request." It seems to me that they have nothing to be embarrassed about. If everyone who asked me for money did so well with what I send them (*ahem*IRS*ahem*), it would be a happier world.

UPDATE: Via The Geek, a piece from someone else suffering IRS buyer's remorse.


Desire and the "Dictatorship of Relativism"

In his book Autumn Lightning, Dave Lowry describes his education in the arts of Japanese swordplay. It is mostly a book about philosophy, and history.

There was a rumble, very faint, that could have been thunder when Sensei spoke again. "The swordsmanship that we do, that is nothing. What is cutting with a sword? If I have an atomic bomb now, it will melt your katana and you...

"We keep the Yagyu Shinkage tradition alive for another reason than fighting. Because it is like -- " he paused, reaching for the right word, "it is like an antique that is living. Because we have the ryu [i.e., a school of though in one of the Japanese disciplines], we have something of the past. We can depend on it. All the bugeisha [warriors] in the old days, they are just like us. Same problems, they loved and hated, just like we do. Since they went before, they are an example for us. We must never forget that we are a part of them."

The old samurai fears losing touch with his ancestry; he fears that the "silent artillery of time" will wash away their memory, leaving him without a guide and his people without the values he loves. It is this same problem that the new Pope has set as the central challenge facing the Church today. It is a deeper problem than it appears to be. The solution is not easy, either to conceive or to bring about.

The first complication is this: you cannot, in fact, be "just like" the warriors of old by preserving their traditions. This is because the nature of war has no respect for tradition. War is about innovation. The warrior is first and foremost a man who is engaged with things as they are: he fights to win, which means fighting in the way that allows winning to be possible.

The ancient samurai were not at all concerned with preserving techniques. They were entirely focused on improving techniques, to find some new advantage that would lead them to victory. An art form that seeks to preserve their spirit, first and foremost, must throw out their techniques first of all. The very things that the ryu preserves in order to permit you to approach your ancestors turn out to be the greatest obstacles to really learning to think and live like those ancestors.

What must be preserved is not the mode of dress, nor the secrets of the katana, but the habits of mind. And those are just the opposite of the habits formed in the dojo. It is for this reason that I always refused to engage in martial arts competitions: the true thing is not about learning to win within the rules of a sport. It is not about learning the forms of the sport. It is about developing a fighting spirit, which means casting away old boundaries and forms, and finding the way to victory. The way to victory is ever new.

That is the first hurdle.

The second is harder. It is this: the rational mind cannot avail you in the struggle against relativism.

I am not and never have been a Catholic, but I do share a strong root with the Catholic Church. Catholic ethics follow, in form, on the structures set up by Aristotle. I am also an Aristotelian in my ethical thinking. The word is from Aristotle + telos, an ancient Greek word meaning "the ultimate goal of a process."

Aristotelian thinking is famously rational. Indeed, the American Heritage dictionary provides the definition as: "A person whose thinking and methods tend to be empirical, scientific, or commonsensical." And that is true -- as far as the methods go. The process is rational. The telos -- the goal of the process -- cannot be.

If the goal of ethics is virtue, rationality can help you figure out how to be virtuous. It can tell when you are seeing a particular virtue, but not what makes it a virtue. Reason can recognize bravery, but cannot prove beyond all doubt that bravery is better than cowardice. It certainly cannot make you want to be brave. The proof of the virtue of bravery arises from within your heart. It must come from inside yourself, from your upbringing, from what you are taught by your family and what you experience in the world.

To make this clear, return to the samurai. His methods are rational: he refines his swordsmanship through daily practice, trains with others he trusts, seeks and thinks and considers what he encounters. He applies his knowledge. He trains harder. He looks for holes in common techniques, and ways to exploit them.

That is all rational. But why does he do it? What is his goal? These things are means, but to what end?

"Victory!" is a ready answer, but it is not the real answer. Victory is itself only a means to another, deeper end. He wants to win the fight, but why is he fighting at all?

The same is true of any fight you undertake. There may be several rational reasons lying atop your thinking: "I need to capture this gasoline storage facility in order to make certain I have enough fuel for my tanks." But why are you fighting with tanks? Because they are useful at this moment in history, for winning the war we are fighting. And why are you fighting the war? For oil reserves; or for some political advantage. And why do you care about that?

If you go down far enough, you will hit base. The reason will be: because I love my country; or my fellow soldiers; or I am fighting out of love for my religion, or the kind of society it generates. The final reason is love, or it is hate, or it is fear; or it is some instinctive drive arising from biological impulses that are prior to, rather than subject to, thought; or it is something else, but it is never rational.

That is not to say it is wrong! Irrational doesn't mean, as people seem to believe, bad. I am definitely not saying that your reasons should be rational. I am saying that your final reason cannot be rational.

How could it be? What does reason have to tell you about what you should want? Once it knows what you do want, it can help you set a path to get there. Once it knows that you are hungry, it can tell you that you should find food; and based on previous experience, where you are likely to find it; and that you should go there, and gather whatever tools you might need to collect the food when you arrive. But being hungry is not rational. It comes from the biology. Loving your fellow man is not rational. It comes from the human spirit, not the Reason.

This is the problem for those who have set up to fight against relativism. They already know what they want. From here on out, Reason is their ally in getting what they want. So the first problem to which they apply their Reason is: how do I convince other people to want the same thing? And they find that Reason has no traction on that ground. It was not what brought them to their conviction, and it cannot bring others there.

Consider Professor Bainbridge:
So why is Sullivan so worked up? Here's his real gripe in his own words:
…the impermissibility of any sexual act that does not involve the depositing of semen in a fertile uterus ....
It's always about sex with Andrew, isn't it?
It does appear to be the case that Sullivan's Reason is totally in service to his desire for a certain kind of sex. But one cannot reason him out of it. The devout Catholic and Sullivan are on equal footing in this way: neither one is acting from Reason in holding the particular belief, Sullivan that gay sex should be celebrated, nor the Church that it should be banned.

In trying to persuade the rest of us to adopt one position or the other, arguments from Reason are effectively wasted. You know this is true because you have witnessed them. How many arguments from statistics and evidence have you read on the subject of gay marriage? And how much has any of them persuaded you? They are castles built on sand: however solid the reasoning, however strong the evidence, Reason can provide no foundation to support them. If you reject the foundation the whole structure collapses.

The side whose foundation you embrace, however, seems always to have ironclad arguments: because the Reason is solid, and for you the foundation is solid, the structure is immovable.

Relativism cannot, therefore, be defeated through argument. While it is possible to persuade people to want different things than they do, it must be done by addressing the underlying issues, not through argument. You must make them feel differently. If you want to change Andrew Sullivan, it is not enough to explain why gay sex is unhealthy or ugly or improper or maladaptive or whatever other rational argument against homosexuality you might have. You have change his heart so that he does not want it, or wants something else much more.

The Church, and our samurai, has a second fundamental difficulty arising from this problem. A Sullivan need convince no descendant of the rightness of his desires. An institution, however, has to do so constantly. It is not only at risk from the "relatively" different desires of those outside of the institution, but from the "relatively" different desires of those it is trying to inculcate. This is why the practitioner of the ryu insists on precision in replicating the old forms, and why the Church insists on doctrine.

But as noted at the beginning, that very insistence takes you away from being the kind of man you wanted to be. The ancient samurai cared nothing about dogma, and everything about adapting. We forget this because their writings speak a great deal about "correct" form for training students, but do not mention the underlying reality that they would discard this "correct" form the instant it was no longer useful. It was "correct" only today, not for all time. That mindest is like the ocean to the fish: so obvious and present that it is not noticed nor commented upon.

Similarly, there is a great deal in the early Christian writings about what the correct doctrines are or might be. What is not noticed is how radical were the changes the early Church would embrace, in order to convert. Consider St. Paul. How much of what the Church believes arises, not from what Jesus said, but from what St. Paul said? Thinking of Paul, people think of the man who enforced the rules; what is forgotten is that he was creating and interpreting the rules. He was not, as he appears to us, the agent of dogma; he was the agent of change. He was the one who found Christianity as a Jewish sect, and restructured it so that it could become a religion of mankind.

This is the problem against which Benedict XVI has set himself. The Church would be a refuge against the silent artillery of time, a place where what the Church sees as the true teachings of Christ are kept safe within the walls. This is a means to an end; and the end is the belief in a soul that needs saving, combined with love of those teachings and the kind of society they produce. The foundations of the Church's society will be its reading of the Bible; the structures built on that, which guide the society, will be built according to Aristotelian ethical thinking. With an ancient and well-understood foundation and superstructure, the society should in theory be well ordered -- though perhaps rather smaller than the Church of today.

That society, if in fact it can be produced and maintained, is the answer to the riddle. It is the same reason that people continue to seek out the martial arts: because they admire what they see in the masters, and come to want those traits for themselves. If the Church recreates the "city on a hill," and if it is as bright as it is meant to be, people may choose to flock to it.

But this is not an escape from "the dictatorship of Relativism." People are still making their basic choices because of their relative desires, beliefs, or drives. The dictatorship of Relativism cannot be escaped, but perhaps there can be a regime change.

Hitler's shadow looms over meet- The Times of India

Pope Benedict XVI:

The newly elected pope has an interesting background, notes the Times of India:

Unknown to many members of the church, however, Ratzinger's past includes brief membership of the Hitler Youth movement and wartime service with a German army anti-aircraft unit.
The Cardinal's previous position was the head of the successor to the Inquisition:
Ratzinger's stern leadership of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor to the Inquisition, delighted conservative Catholics but upset moderates and other Christians whose churches he described as deficient.
I only found out myself about the Nazi ties yesterday.

Not very long ago, I wrote this piece on Catholicism, which was somewhat critical. Part of it seems relevant today.
The problem Rome faces is this: it has decided to embrace the Culture of Life without reservation. As Hitchens points out, the Vatican is a government. It has the right of pit and gallows. It has decided not to use them, out of the horror it feels for its own history. The Inquisition has writ terror on their souls. They have cast away the sword entirely, that it may never again be used for evil. That means, also, that it may never strike a blow for good.

The Vatican, in other words, is struck with the same sickness of the soul that afflicts Germany. The pacifism that has arisen in both places is a reaction to the horrors that came before. It is a wound in their hearts. Until it heals, they will not be whole: and as the Church teaches in other matters, in such holes in the soul grows a gnawing and terrible evil.
In embracing a leader of the modern version of the Inquisition, the Church may be undertaking just that healing. In embracing a man who served in the Nazi army, it may help Germans to heal the wounds that remain in their own hearts.

Both things are fundamentally healthy at this point. It is natural, I think, to feel slightly disturbed at the idea of embracing either of these things -- even I feel discomfort at the idea of a former soldier in the Nazi army leading the Church. But why should my comfort, or anyone's, be the chief concern of the Catholic Church? Its concern is saving souls that are, according to its doctrine, in tremendous peril. It must make its decisions on that basis, not on the comfort or discomfort the decisions will inspire.

Surely it is time for these old wounds to heal, and perhaps this is the best chance. A man with that history in almost any other post would be too controversial to allow for new reflection and healing. The Church, because it is militant only in the spiritual sense, offers that opportunity.

There is no other way to heal wounds of the spirit but to confront the wounds directly. In making this choice, the Church has done so, and for that reason at least its flock can surely be proud of their leaders.

As for me, and you who read and agreed with what I wrote: if we thought not long ago that it was time for the Catholics to pick up the "sundering sword," it would be foolish now to complain when they do so. If I chided them for laying down the charge of being the "Fishers of Men" that their faith requires them to be, it is only proper that I should praise them for choosing a man who believes that his is the only true faith. Believing that mens' souls are at risk, he ought to do his best for their salvation.

Good fortune, Benedict XVI. I will be glad, both for the Church and for Germany, if the potential you represent is fulfilled.

UPDATE: According to the Jerusalem Post, the Times (both of India and London) is badly wrong on the details. The evidence the Post brings to bear is formidable. I must express my irritation at having been misled in this way. Naturally, I expect to be misled by the media, and so tried to research the matter in Google News before making the original post. For whatever reason, the search I used did not turn up the Post article, which leaves me indebted to the National Review for pointing it out.

American Soldier

Soldier's Life:

American Soldier approaches the 150,000 mark. He's been writing around for links to try and get over the hump. You might want to drop by, if you haven't been there before. The guy's got some good stories.

The Epoch Times | Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party

China Readings:

China has been getting a lot of interest lately, due to the anti-Japanese riots. Some of you might be interested in reading about anti-Communist activism, both inside and outside of China.

For my left-leaning readers, here is a piece, originally from Indymeda, attempting to explain to the "activist community" why they should care about China. It is by a Director Emeritus of the China Support Network. The reasons they have had little success getting help from the activist community, of course, are that so many of the leading organs of the activist community are Communist in their basic philosophy (most of these openly so); and further that Chinese abuses against human rights are so awful that attention to them drains away much of the force that activists would rather direct against American abuses. Nevertheless, the CSN is perfectly correct to point out that people who care about genocide, torture, and the massacre of innocent people ought to care about China's leadership ("the Butchers of Beijing," as I believe Clinton once called them).

For those seeking critiques from the Chinese themselves, The Epoch Times's "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party" are available online. These are the commentaries that have spurred the mass resignations from the Chinese Communist Party, which are said to be approaching one million (although, in fairness, all the sources for numbers on these track back to the Epoch Times itself).

The commentaries are sternly anti-Communist, and not just anti-CCP. They speak to the root of the problem with Communism as a philosophy, as well as the particular history of the CCP. It is helpful to know that some of the rhetoric used, which may seem over the top, has its origins in CCP rhetoric. For example, the CCP famously called Falun Gong "an evil cult," which is why Commentary Eight is entitled "On How the Chinese Communist Party Is An Evil Cult."

Think Tank's Ideas Shifted As Malaysia Ties Grew (washingtonpost.com)

On Malaysia:

You probably saw this link on the Sage. He said of it:

EITHER THIS IS A DREADFUL HIT PIECE, or the Heritage Foundation has some explaining to do. Or perhaps Heritage's shift in attitude toward Malaysia had something to do with 9/11, which Edsall allows for.
The piece itself raises charges, essentially, that Heritage's newfound respect for the Malaysian government is tied to contributions from Malaysia.
Heritage's new, pro-Malaysian outlook emerged at the same time [i.e., summer 2001] a Hong Kong consulting firm co-founded by Edwin J. Feulner, Heritage's president, began representing Malaysian business interests.
There may be a connection, but there is a good explanation apart from payoffs. I've not been offered a dime from Malaysia (or anyone else), but my own opinion of the place has been on the improve for quite a while.

The context that is missing from the article is this: Mahathir Mohammed, who had been the ruler of the place for more than twenty years, stepped down in 2003. Under his rule, Malaysia had been anti-Western, largely closed and inward looking. Mahathir was strongly anti-US and anti-Israeli, the latter spilling over into genuine antisemitism on occasion. As soon as he appeared to be making moves to retire -- and especially since his actual retirement -- Malaysia began looking better.

In addition, during the late 1990s he was blamed by some for causing the Asian financial crisis -- a crisis that has vanished from both the mind and the market now. Still, this is another reason that an analyst in 1998 would have been critical of his leadership, whereas a more recent analysis would have to take into account the recovery and relative prosperity that has arisen in the wake of the crisis.

How much better are things in Malaysia now? Consider this profile, which was written in about 2000 to judge from its content:
This now leaves Malaysia in the hands of a 72-year-old, who underwent a quintuple heart bypass operation in 1989, has no successor, and is embarking on an economic regimen that flies in the face of free market principles. After 17 years in office and already South-east Asia's longest-serving leader, Dr Mahathir Mohamad shows no signs of stepping down.

The Asian financial crisis - which deposed President Suharto of Indonesia, led to changes of government elsewhere, and plunged Malaysia into its deepest recession - has only consolidated his grip on power.

Pre-empting any challenge to his leadership, he has sacked his deputy and heir apparent, Anwar Ibrahim, and taken control of the Finance Ministry in order to do battle with speculators whom he blames for Malaysia's current economic woes.

Shunning IMF help as part of a neo-colonial plot that serves Western interests, he has implemented controversial currency controls that in effect isolate Malaysia from the global economy, which, in the past decade has fuelled its growth.
Well, Mahathir did step down. Malaysia's isolationism is much lessened (indeed, Malaysia and Australia are discussing a free trade area), and that of it which remains is broadly beneficial to the United States' policies in the region -- for example, because they do not want the US navy patrolling the Malacca Strait, Malaysia is a leading partner in local efforts to do so. These efforts have been only somewhat successful, but they've been successful enough to relieve strain on the US Navy.

Meanwhile, the new leader of Malaysia has abandoned the firey rhetoric of his predecessor. Abdullah Badawi's favorite subject is the need for "Civilizational," that is to say moderate, Islam. He has spoken on the need for reform in Pakistan, at the OIC, and has visited the United States and President Bush. He is still anti-American, broadly speaking -- he would very much like it if he never saw another uniformed member of the American Federal government. However, I would say that his desire not to be interefered with by the American Federal government isn't greater than that of many Southerners I've known, and as I mentioned above, he's willing to put his money where his mouth is. Rather than scowling and firing warning shots at us, his chosen method for keeping us out is to make sure our interests are protected. That way, we don't feel the need to come in.

Malaysia, to me, looks like a prime example of a potential "sub-regional partner." There are still some issues to iron out (as these articles will give you a sense), but there's a lot of reason to hope.

All that is only to say that Heritage and I are on the same page, this time. Nobody had to pay me to think that way.