Iraq Elections

Congratulations to the People of Iraq:

Today's elections will, I expect, go largely unnoticed back home. In a way that is a mark of the success of the Iraqi nation and our servicemembers.

Speaking only for myself, I was up at 0445 this morning. I spent the day at headquarters, to advise the command staff in case of difficulty across our operating environment. As a show of honor to the Iraqis who stood forth to vote, we began the morning with a playing of the Iraqi national anthem in the TOC. No Iraqis were there to know, but it was for them all the same. All of us know many Iraqis, work with them, eat with them in their homes.

This is their victory, but I cannot help but feel like a small stakeholder in it -- I suppose it is how you would feel if you purchased a few early shares in a company that grew strong. My part in it is negligible, but in small ways it is my fault: I supported the war before it began, and for what I thought and still think were just reasons. I have been here for certain parts of it, and contributed according to my limited powers as well as I can.

In the sense that I supported the war, I must of course accept that a part of the blood shed is my fault. Indeed, in a sense, all of it is at least partially my responsibility: it is the magic of guilt that it can be divided without being lessened.

There is a similar magic at work here, though it is not so powerful as guilt's. Credit must be lessened if divided, and I will claim no part of it. What I do feel a stake in is the pride, and something of the joy, that must attend those people who are voting for the first time not to establish a government but to change one.

Good work, Iraq. Bravo Zulu to the ISF. Thank you, to all who did more than me. It was a pleasure to see it up close.

I'll bet this is a lot funnier to me than to others around here.
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama expressed frustration Wednesday after members of his cabinet failed to recognize his allusion to the 24th issue of the comic series Savage Sword Of Conan during their first major meeting together.

I read "The Savage Sword of Conan" pretty religiously.
Added the president, "For the love of Crom, am I the only one here who wants to keep the U.S. technologically competitive?"

An Article to Discuss:

I wish I had time to engage this article as fully as I would like.

Hutchins’s models of a collegiate education were the medieval Trivium — rhetoric, grammar, and logic — and Quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Technical knowledge was to be strenuously avoided: “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum,” he observed. “Facts do not solve problems. . . . The gadgeteers and the data collectors have threatened to become the supreme chieftains of the scholarly world.” The true stewards of the university, said the career administrator, should be those who deal with the most fundamental problems: metaphysicians.
A worthy concept, with a noble history. What was the problem?
Only St. John’s College maintains a curriculum built exclusively around the Great Books. Every student takes at least two years of ancient Greek, two of French, four of math, and three of laboratory science, the last taught not through textbooks but through primary works like Copernicus’s On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres and Lavoisier’s Elements of Chemistry.

Beam sat in on a St. John’s laboratory seminar and found it “flat, flat, flat.” The same went for a seminar on portions of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (example: “Whether the proposition ‘God exists’ is self-evident?”). “Everyone had done the reading,” Beam laments, “but few could make heads or tails of it.” The problem, as Beam sees it, is that the students aren’t allowed to bring to the discussion anything outside the text. Beam imagines “a thousand interesting questions” that would have enlivened the proceedings: “Why did Aquinas feel the necessity of proving God’s existence? Who in the Middle Ages disagreed with him?”
This reminds me of some of our discussions on the Laches, in which the problem of physical education is considered. Can practice-fighting in armor yield anything of the virtues required to actually fight in armor? Here is the intellectual companion -- for the education of the full man includes both intellectual and physical education.

How can you learn to fight like Odysseus or Musashi? Not by studying how they fought alone, nor by reading their words or only words about them: you must also actually fight. How can you learn to think like Aquinas? Not by reading only Aquinas -- but by learning to fight like Aquinas, which means learning to understand his foes as well as himself. It is the battles he fought that gave rise to the spirit of the argument.

If you want the spirit of the man, you must preserve more than the man. You must also preserve his foes.