The Department of Nonviolence & Peace:

We had a discussion recently that touched on the philosophy of nonviolence. Tigerhawk wonders further, noting that 25-30% of the Democratic House has aligned on a bill forcing the creation of a new Cabinet-level position.

Meeting the Wounded:

Fuzzybear Lioness talks about the jolt of working with the wounded, and fearing she is not worthy of the sacrifice they have made for her.

And for us.

Backroad Pics

Backroad Pictures:

InstaPundit today links to a nice back road Tennessee picture. We can do good pictures from backcountry Georgia. They're not art shots, but you might like them.

If you ever wondered what it was like to sit on top of one of the Wild Bunch, here's a shot taken from atop Delaney. You can click on the picture for a bigger version. The tiny legs at the top of the photo are the puppy hiding by a chair and mounting block.

Speaking of the puppy, here's another shot of her.

Here's Blue Streke, who left this morning for his new home.

Not all the beasties are huge. Cinnamon the pony isn't exactly friendly (to anyone, although I have bad luck with creatures named "Cinnamon"), but he does have the virtue of being small.

And here's a good shot of the road, with Sherlock in the foreground.

It's not black and white, and the hills of Georgia are "small sky" rather than "big sky" country, but it's still a pretty place to be.



The subject of heroes has come up at two blogs I visit regularly. Some of the questions raised are provocative: Why are certain kinds of men revered as heroes? What is the difference between the scholarly historian's list of heroes and the ordinary man's list of heroes? How does the creation of a list of heroes reflect the values of the culture?

In the comments thread at Kim duToit's place, several examples of heroes are mentioned. While many are 'big names', several are nobodies. These small-name heroes somehow seem more impressive in that they have tried to stay out of the limelight of public attention.

This raises a question about the definition of a hero--the Platonic ideal of a hero, as it were.

The great heroic legends are full of heroes who are eager to tell of their greatness to all who will listen. (Neither Achilles nor Beowulf are shy about mentioning their past deeds.) However, the boasts are not their sole claim to fame--the heroes rise to the challenge at hand, the challenge that is the center of the story.

These men are not viewed as heroes because of their boasts, but because of their deeds. Their boasts are not out of place.

In the modern world, this seems less common. One recurring image of a modern hero (especially those mentioned in this comments thread) is of a man who has done heroic deeds, and would rather not share that history with anyone else. His family and friends know, but few others have that knowledge.

Which image is a truer representation of the hero? Or do both represent the bearing of a man of heroic stature in different cultural situations?

After some deliberation on the subject matter, I am leaning towards the idea that the heroic ideal is silent about whether the hero spends his time advertising his stature. That is, the heroic ideal is centered on the actions of the hero, rather than his attitude towards telling his own heroic tale.

However, I am also deeply aware that traditional measures of heroic stature have lost most of their cultural currency in the West. We have men and women who proclaim themselves as heroes because they are in a default attitude of rebellion against the excesses of past generations. We have publicists and media personalities declaring celebrity for a variety of reasons; rarely are those reasons connected to heroic deeds. Anyone who wins the celebrity lottery has lost almost all privacy for the purposes of feeding a novelty-driven media culture.

This makes me very happy to be able to learn about heroic stories from locations like the weblogs I linked--or locations like the Someone You Should Know series at BlackFive. I can learn their stories without them being subjected to the attention of the mass media.

When discussing why a man might not want to become the center of a media circus, I pause to wonder if the existence of this corrosive media environment is a sign of sickness in the culture. If so, how deep does the sickness run? How could such a sickness be healed?
On Suits:

Arts & Letters Daily answers a question that has bothered me for decades: where did we ever get the idea that the suit was the right way for a gentleman to dress? A good one feels like you're wearing pajamas in public, compared to the rugged clothing suited for work or adventure: denim, wool, leather. The necktie is preposterous, and the only actually useful piece of the suit -- the hat -- has since been discarded by fashion. You don't see "the great men" of any other civilization dressed up like this.

It turns out there is a good reason for the development, one that arises naturally from the roots of the gentleman:

Suits are, in fact, unnatural. The peoples of antiquity, the early Middle Ages, and traditional Asia, Africa, and the pre-Columbian Americas dressed beautifully with a minimum of cutting and sewing. Togas, kimonos, pre-Columbian mantles, dashikis — however luxurious or elegant — were not constructed as second skins.

The present male uniform began to emerge in the 14th century as an unintended consequence of military innovation. The body-fitting plate armor that we now admire in museums was replacing mail of the earlier Middle Ages. New craftsmen, the linen armorers, emerged to construct padding to cushion warriors' new exoskeletons, cutting and stitching pieces of cloth to fit the body. Those artisans, Anne Hollander declares in Sex and Suits (Knopf, 1994), "can really count as the first tailors of Europe."
It goes on from there, through revolutions French and Industrial, but that is the root of the thing.

German Medals

Righting an old Wrong:

I had not been aware that 15 April was the official day for members of the Jewish faith to remember the Holocaust. I was very pleased, however, to read this account of a small measure of justice being done by the German government.

Although the army he fought in was an enemy of ours at the time, it's good to see justice done for a man who once fought for hearth and home.

H/t: InstaPundit.


Bill Whittle:

He's written another long essay, and as always, it merits your attention. This essay is on reason, and conspiracy:

My father was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in 2002. I will never forget that day. It changed my life, and was the event that started me writing here at Eject! Eject! Eject!

The man who coordinated that service was on a hill about a half-mile from that side of the Pentagon on the morning of September 11th, 2001. He told me that they had been informed that something was going on in New York that morning. Then he heard something that he said he thought was a missile attack – a roar so loud and so far beyond a normal jet sound that he looked up at that exact moment expecting to die.

What he saw emerge from the trees overhead, perhaps a hundred feet above him, was American Airlines Flight 77 as it went by in a silver blur, engines screaming in a power dive as it hit the near side of the Pentagon. He told me – to my face – that body parts had rained down all over that sacred field. Just like red hail on a summer day. Those body parts are buried in a special place at the base of that hill.

Now. If Rosie O’Donnell and the rest of that Lunatic Brigade is right and I am wrong, then that man – that insignificant Army chaplain and his Honor Guard of forty men – are all liars. He is lying to me for Halliburton and Big Oil. That Chaplain—and all of those decent, patriotic young men in the Honor Guard, and all the commuters on the roads who saw an American Airlines jet instead of a missile – ALL of those people are liars and accessories to murder. And all of the firefighters who went into buildings rigged to explode were pre-recruited suicide martyrs dying for George W. Bush’s plans for world conquest.
Whittle mentions Popular Mechanics' tireless attempts to trod down this mire. I'd like to mention Sovay's site on the subject, which has been devoted to disproving 9/11 conspiracy theories since not very long after 9/11.

This is something that concerns us all. It is important to get it right. Kudos to those who have, as Whittle says, shed the light of reason on these matters.

Feminist Reviews

There is a Beauty in Being a Feminist Voice... Germaine Greer certainly is. That beauty is that you can write a review that says, 'This book is so bad a woman must have written it.'

The review is a masterpiece of the art of criticism, brutal and insightful at once. My thanks to the ever-valuable Arts & Letters Daily for the link.


Some Great Reading:

BlackFive has a story about two good young men living the fantasy of every Marine. Ooh-rah, Lance Corporals.

Karrde, who really should be posting this stuff here as well, put up his thoughts on the subject of a man's word of honor. It was occasioned by Kim du Toit's draft chapter of his book.

There's little doubt that keeping your word is the main, most important test of a man. There's a very great deal that can be forgiven or ignored, as long as you do what you say you will do, and keep your oaths.

I see that long-time reader and commenter Noel is now blogging at Cold Fury. I would have thought I'd have put CF on the blogroll a long time ago, but apparently it escaped my attention. I'll do it now, though, for certain. Noel's stuff is either very good or very, very bad, depending on how many puns he tries to work into his arguments.

Either way, it's always worth reading.

No Riding

No Riding Today:

Today my saddle busted a fender; and one of our electrical fences suffered a rather astonishing failure occasioned by two young horses barreling through it at high speed. So, lots of work, but no time for me to ride.

Plus there was one additional distraction from regular business:

The puppy picture is by way of apology to the ladies who complained about the last entry about the horses. There are good things about the horse farm, too.

There are fewer horses to ride just now anyway. In addition to Blue Streke, we've got another one of the Wild Bunch sold if he vets out. His name is Sherlock. I'm going to miss having him around -- he's the best tempered of the bunch.

Sherlock's always friendly, and according to his trainer has taken quickly to his lessons. He's been trained as a dressage horse, and I know nothing about dressage, so I have spent little time with him. Still, when I have worked with him, I've always liked him.

So, you see, it's not always terror and fury out of these beasts. Most of the time, it's pleasant and relaxing in spite of the hard work.



I had a post at BlackFive responding to a lady blogger from the sinister side of the blogosphere. She had given us a backhanded compliment:

Do you think Jihad Watch and LaShawn Barber’s Corner and BLACKFIVE and Mudville Gazette and Wizbang got to be in the top 25 at TTLB only (or even mostly) because of their writing or their core fan base? Not at all! They zoomed to the top because bloggers like Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and Hugh Hewitt talked them up, linked to them, befriended them. It does not make me happy to know that people whose worldview is so narrow, intolerant, exclusive, and hateful are so much better at supporting their ideological soulmates than we on the left, whose values run to diversity, inclusiveness, a place at the table for everyone, human needs before defense contractors’ wish lists.
Yeah, the lady has a good backhand. Let me tell you about intolerance and hate.

About a week ago, I had one of the Wild Bunch throw me hard. (We're about to sell one of them, by the name of Blue Streke. He's an outstanding blue roan, with spirit. The guy came out to ride him on Saturday, and the horse bucked him right up into the air. Took two people on the reins to get the horse straightened out. The guy said, "If my vet says he's healthy, I'll take him." That's a horseman.)

This horse who threw me, I've ridden before. He is the one who threw me earlier last month, and put me briefly in the hospital. But he'd been scared by a truck that day, and on the day in question, he seemed to be calm. I'd ridden him since the incident without a problem, and he seemed happy. He came willingly to me when I showed him the rope, and he let me saddle him without any complaint.

In other words, he lied to me.

No sooner did I get on this horse than all fourteen hundred pounds of him started to run and buck. I pulled his head around and stopped him, with an effort. My partner for the ride was ready to go, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time on this horse, so I said I was going to swap out to another for the ride.

The instant he felt me take my feet out the stirrups, he threw back on with all he had. The young lady (same one from the missing-mare episode) said it was like watching a rodeo: he bucked and reared and fought as hard as a 1,400 pound horse can go. I had him in a headlock for a second, but he reared so hard I had to lean far forward to stay balanced. He got his head free, and then while I was forward he dropped and bucked and I went flying.

I landed right on my skull, with an impact that should have broken my neck. The only reason it didn't is all those years of jujitsu training and teaching: I fell exactly the right way, against instinct but with muscle memory. Because I had pressed my chin to my chest, instead of my neck breaking the impact was distributed through the muscles of my back and chest. My back still hurts every time I do anything.

The horse went running, and my brave but young companion foolishly went after him. It took me a couple of seconds to get to my feet (my Stetson had a big dent right in the back-of-the-skull section) and by the time I caught up to her, she was doing something I wouldn't advise any of you to do. My horse had run into the barn, and she had dismounted and followed him. She still had her horse by the reins in one hand (Doc, for those of you who remember the post about him) and the Wild Buncher by her other hand. He was still rearing and snorting and yelling when I got there.

This all means that she was in a narrow place, with an angry horse on one side of her and a horse that was increasingly frightened on the other, and she was holding both of them. Brave, brave girl. But it was not a good place for her to be.

I came in and took control of the horse that just threw me. In order to do that, I had to get his reins -- and in order to get the girl to safety, I needed to do it in a way that wouldn't further spook him, and therefore her horse also. I could see the fear mixed with the anger in the beast's eye when I grabbed his reins. There was only one thing to do.

I pushed all the anger out of my heart, let it go, and looked him in the eye. "I am not angry at you," I said in level tones. "Come on. Calm down."

A horse can tell if it's true. They know if you're mad. If I wanted him to be calm, he had to know I had forgiven him. All this was less than a minute after he lied to me, sucker-punched me, and almost killed me because of it.

Everything worked out. I convinced the young lady to take her horse out of the barn and go on her way without me. I got the horse to his stall, and took his tack off, so that I could go and hurt in peace. My back still hurts, but it will be all right in time. When the girl got back, I took Doc for a short ride -- because you don't want to get thrown and walk away without riding if you can help it. You need to get back on a horse.

This story is about forgiveness. If you're going to ride horses, you have to be able to clear your mind of hate and intolerance in an instant. It has to be truly empty of those things when you grab the reins or the halter of a frightened beast.

Now, there is (I admit) a certain part of me that thinks this particular horse would make an excellent rug. But it's not the part of my soul that entertains hate; it's the part that entertains humor.

I've said from time to time that I'm not aware of hating anyone, and I honestly believe that is true. There are people I like and people I don't; there are people I'm proud to know and people I think ought to be ashamed of themselves. I don't think, though, that I hate anyone.

The lady has a Shel Silverstein quote on her homepage: "If you are a dreamer, come in." My mother used to read that poem to me. If she thinks I hate her kind, she's wrong: in that she reminds me of my mother, I'm predisposed to love rather than to hate her.

What she may not understand about me and my kind could be explained this way: Shel Silverstein also wrote "A Boy Named Sue."

America, like the poet, has room for both of us. If there's room for the part that is 'a magic-bean buyer,' and there's room for the part that came "up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear."

Now, how's that for tolerance? For ladies and horses, I have more than you might imagine.