Making Toast:
I wish this book had never been written, because it is the account of an unbearable sorrow, and I wish it had never befallen Roger Rosenblatt. On December 8, 2007, his daughter, Amy Rosenblatt Solomon, thirty-eight years old, the mother of three children, a pediatrician, collapsed at home in Bethesda and died. Rosenblatt and his wife... immediately left their home on Long Island and drove to their mutilated family. When one of his little grandchildren asked how long he is staying, Rosenblatt replied, "Forever."
That was a reply worthy of a man.

Gotta Love the Corps

Gotta Love the Marine Corps:

Apparently the USMC and the UFC have decided that they'd be good for each other; you've probably seen the new Marine recruting ads. What I hadn't seen until this evening is the USMC's supplementary material: MMA fighers invited to Marine Corps martial arts training.

They never had a chance, of course. 'You're going to die in this situation. Your job is just to take one guy out, so your buddy coming behind you has one fewer to fight.'

That's not the mindset of a competition fighter. There was no way they were going to be able to make the shift in time. Uncertain, they hesitate, and are lost.



Strange things are being taught in school...

Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said the action taken by the school on Wednesday was warranted if their objective was to maintain the security and safety of the other students.

"Was there a danger of a fight between the students celebrating Cinco de Mayo and the students wearing the American T-shirts? If there was a threat, then their action was ethical," Hanson said.

"The decisions regarding student dress are always difficult for school authorities and it is possible that any particular dress, including the American flag, could under circumstances be threatening," Hanson said. "But when the students' rights are at stake, the school authorities clearly should try to find some way to protect those rights and at the same time defuse the situation."
Got it? If freedom of expression is faced with the threat of illegal violence, freedom should be curtailed.

Note also that this guy is supposedly an expert on ethics. So now it's ethical to give into violent mobs.

The Tea Party has gotten beaten up for the past year for embodying a threat of violence that doesn't actually exist.

The lesson we are getting is that maybe it should.
That is true only if you mean by "should" that the market is structured to provide incentives for that kind of behavior. Ethics goes well beyond market oriented behavior; though it is a truism to say that 'incentives work.'

The Tea Party movement isn't going to resort to violence, purely and only because of the ethics of its members. If they ever capture power and leadership, however, they'll have a lot of problems to solve that are coming from these failures of leadership we see so often today. From local school boards to the Federal government in the face of Iran and others: cowardice rules, bullies are bowed down before, and the wicked dance. This is their hour.

This is Why I Hate Pop Music

This Is Why:

...I hate nearly all modern music.

Hat tip: Chuck Z.

It's like musicians forgot how to write music; and in response, the people forgot how to listen to music.

More Armor from The Met, fluted Italian sunburst styled.

What I think is funny is that the sign says it's a rare example of Italian armor, and that it has pictures etched on it of the Blessed Mother. As a person of half Italian descent, there is nothing rare about an Italian with a picture of the Blessed Mother either on his person, in his car, and certainly pictured in his house numerous times. In fact, my thought when I saw this was - here's their version of tattoos!

Variations of R.2

Variations of Diego Ortiz's Recercada Segunda:

Here are three variations on a piece written by sixteenth century Spanish musician, composer and choirmaster, Diego Ortiz.

This version is played at very high tempo, with a recorder. The pipe adds a lively air to the piece; taken together with the change in tempo, it's almost a different song.

Here's a variation with a crumhorn, which has much the sound of a giant kazoo. There's also a tambourine, and a harpsichord instead of the strings.

An interesting piece, and strong enough to handle the variations well.

We Know That You're Absolutely Correct

"We Know That You're Absolutely Correct"

The lady speaks on religion and the Founding. The trick here -- the magic trick, the illusion -- is the fact that there is no other faith but that which came out of the European, Christian tradition that is compatible with this particular kind of pluralism. America is a 'Christian nation' even if it is not: only Christianity, in 1776, could have considered a principle like anti-Establishmentarianism.

There is one clear competitor: China once knew a similar principle: it would permit Buddhists or Taoists or whatever other traditions of religion arose. Obviously that principle failed during the Maoist period. It seems to be reasserting itself now.

Still, Chinese pluralism was not in any sense at the root of the Founding; it is a similar tradition, but an entirely unrelated one. Our respect for its wisdom does not require us to set aside the fact that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual business of founding this nation, or establishing its fundamental principles.

Mother's Day Poetry

Mother's Day Poetry:

So. This weekend is Mother's Day. All of you have mothers. Many of you have wives who are the mothers of your children.

Let's have a contest. Best sonnet in honor of a mother, yours or your children's, wins... well, the honor of the hall and a chance to win the Hero's Portion. My own entry won't count, so I can honestly judge them.

You've got a couple of days. Let's see what you can do. If you really don't like sonnets, I will certainly also accept Viking/Anglo-Saxon alliterative poetry. But you'd better know what you're doing, because I'll know if you're faking it. ;)

Viking Longspears

Viking Longspears:

Via our friend Lars Walker's blog, this:

Note that the shield, hung over the shoulder, is of use even if you make no effort to articulate it. You may find that helpful to understanding a few passages of Medieval writing on war, if you are inclined to them.

Lars also has an interesting piece on the economics of the duel. This is much in accord with Louis L'amour's commentary on why it was right to shoot a man who called you a liar, in the West.

Chopper II

Chopper, Part Two:

Since you folks liked the first post, here's another one I liked somewhat.

"Journalists! Like those two bloody poor blokes down in the mine! 400 F'ing journalists standing around... if half those journalists brought a f'ing shovel, they would have been out weeks earlier."

(STILL NOT safe. But a good point.)

Highlights Game

How many items can you spot and name?

Chopper Reed

"Chopper" Read:

A commenter at BlackFive mentioned this to me:

(NOT safe; language warning!)

"You're f'ing spot on, Devan."

Interesting thing about this comedy spot; it's based on a real guy. "Chopper Read" is a real guy. This guy:

You know, I kind of like that guy.

I made a comment a while back that the USA is actually a police state.

People disagreed with me.

Watch this:

Still think we aren't living in a police state?

(Reason via Instapundit)

The Greater Insurgency

The Greater Insurgency:

There are two reasons peoples wage war on each other. The first is over what we might call matters of engineering; the second is over what we might call matters of identity.

The first kind are disputes over things like water rights, land, etc. Engineering disputes are easy to resolve in theory, though they may be impossible to resolve in practice: that is why they are 'engineering' disputes. The question is whether you can (and can afford to) craft and build a solution that allows an acceptable distribution of whatever is being fought over. Wealth, power, whatever: the only reason people are fighting is because they want more than what they have. If we can craft a better way to use and arrange access to what we have, we can often put an end to the conflict.

The second type of war is nearly impossible to solve, because it touches not mere practical goods, but matters of the human heart.

The AP describes the Times Square bomber as a man whose life seemed to unravel; but that is to take the passive voice. The truth is that he unraveled it. He had every success that a young man in Pakistan is taught to seek: he obtained an H1-B visa, giving him access to the opportunity to compete for wealth and work in the world's richest market. He obtained an advanced education, including an MBA. He had a nice home in the suburbs, a family, and even U.S. citizenship. He had it all: tens of millions in India and Pakistan are working and dreaming of what he got.

He let it go, choosing instead to return to Pakistan, seek out the training camps of the Jihad, to learn to build bombs and try to destroy the land that gave him such wealth, success, and stability.

This is not the first time. Remember Zacarias Moussaoui:

He holds a master's degree in International Business from South Bank University in London, having enrolled in 1993 and graduated in 1995.
These are the people that al Qaeda sought out, and that radicals today still seek. They have the education and passports to move freely in the West. They are almost untouchable. Yet they are unsatisfied with the life of the West, hate it in their hearts, and long for something else.

Insofar as we do not understand just what it is they want, we won't be able to begin to address this problem. So here is a sketch: what they want is the story. They want the heroic epic. They want to be a hero fighting for God, in a clash of good against evil.

That is a conflict of identity. There is no engineering solution: you cannot give them greater access to wealth or resources, because they are already throwing away wealth and resources that are the very dream of millions and tens of millions. It is a question of who they want to be: it is a question of a fury at the core of the being, that comes from failing to be a man you can yourself respect.

Deficit commission & Constitution

The Anti-Constitution Faction:

News today comes that the left is planning to use the President's anti-deficit commission to push for amnesty for illegals. Let's remember why this is 'the President's' commission, and not the Senate's:

Obama's version of the commission is a weak substitute for what he really wanted: a panel created by Congress that could force lawmakers to consider unpopular remedies to reduce the debt, including curbing politically sensitive entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
The weaker version of the panel doesn't have any such requirement; its recommendations do not automatically force a vote. That was what the President wanted.

Why? Allegedly because of concern that the Congress will otherwise avoid tackling the tough issues that we need to tackle in order to bring down the deficit. We see the immediate expansive view of that power, though: given 'an inch' to tackle this pressing problem, they immediately want to assume the power to pass laws addressing anything at all.

The idea of a limited Federal government apparently does not compute! T99 comments:
Some liberals have difficulty with the idea that government should have a limited role. They assume that everyone must choose between supporting an all-encompassing role or a non-existent one. Anything else strikes them as hypocritical.
What is lost is the idea that there are rules about what the Federal government can or can't do: it has a defined role. Within that role it is free to act, but there are specified limits: there is nothing hypocritical about praising an action within that range, and condemning as intrusive another action that defies the lawful limits of authority. As Cassandra's post points out, limited government advocates can easily support a Federal role in the case of the BP oil spill: it's in the Constitution.
... conservatives understand that maritime affairs traditionally are within the purview of federal jurisdiction, see Article I, Section 10 and Article III, Section 2 of the document known as the United States Constitution.
In a wide and diverse society like this one, where people have divergent values and backgrounds, clear Constitutional limits can inspire trust that would otherwise be lacking. The Federal government would be far more trusted, admired and respected if -- instead of chafing at limits on its power -- it was careful to demonstrate specific Constitutional authority for its every action, and showed clear deference to the limits imposed upon it.

The Tenth Amendment holds that powers not delegated to the Federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people. If a tragedy comes up that the Federal government legitimately cannot address, a state-based government response is therefore always possible. The Federal government might even assist the states at their request, and following their lead: but it would need to set aside its claim to power and authority, and merely help as directed.

Such a government, humble and obedient to the permanent will of the people as expressed and codified by our Constitution, would have both wide and deep support. A government that looks for every opportunity to bypass any limits on its power and authority is rightly regarded with suspicion.

MKH on the Bomber

MKH on the Bomber Theories:

My favorite part of this quote is not the part that everyone has been mocking -- you know, the bit about 'the health care bill or something.' No, my favorite line was this one:

"It looks like an amateurish job done by at least one person," he told Couric.
I'm glad we can rule out nobody from our list of suspects, then.

Other good news today: apparently training to build bombs at a Pakistani jihad camp teaches you absolutely nothing about how to build an effective bomb. This bomb was a remarkable joke: the wrong kind of fertilizer, unmodified by any of the things that make fertilizer more explosive, with propane canisters that are designed not to explode, involving an initiation mechanism that was entirely inappropriate.

Greek Weapons

More fun from The Met:

The Narrative

Controlling the Narrative:

Or, not.

The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.

Majority supports Arizona on immigration law -- actually, in spite of the President personally attacking the state and its citizens, 51% think the law "is about right" and another 9% thinks it "doesn't go far enough." That's 60% in support of these or stronger measures. 36% think it goes too far.

Meanwhile, the Post has "storylines to watch" from today's elections. That's an interesting concept, but it's true: we all craft stories all the time. Storytelling is one of the arts, and arts are what makes us human: the fact that we make art wherever we go, and use it to define meaning and answer questions for ourselves that other kinds of creatures never ask.

Sometimes that gets missed; but it's true all the same. So of course we have "narratives" and "storylines" in politics -- even in things as disconnected as an oil rig here, and a special election there. To some degree these things all converge in the White House, but only because we have decided to tell the story that way. If we had made a different decision, an age ago, the White House would not now be in a position to consolidate so much power. They can because we have come to tell stories that make them the reflex point for all these disconnected things; and if they are to be held responsible, isn't it easy to argue that they obviously therefore must be allotted the power to control whatever events for which they're being held responsible?

That's worth thinking about. We should tell a different kind of story: about how this or that event should be considered on its own terms; and if we mention the White House, it should be to underline the fact that the affair is none of their business. Unless, of course, it's a delegated Article II power -- in which case, it certainly is.

The Minstrel Boy

The Minstrel Boy:

Those of you who follow BLACKFIVE probably noticed that I pulled a video clip from The Man Who Would Be King this weekend. Some of you might be wondering about the song.

There's a history of the tune here; but the words don't belong to it. The words belong to another hymn, "The Son of God Goes Forth To War."

Some young ladies follow The Man Who Would Be King by conflating the two songs.

Here is a video of a newer version of "The Minstrel Boy" made by the 2d Platoon "Regulators," 2nd of the 87th, Tenth Mountain Division:

And here is the hymn:

Presidential Humor

Presidential Humor:

The Washington Post has a good article on the kind of jokes a President should tell, and the kind he shouldn't. Gerald Ford had one of the best lines:

"So much has happened since I accepted your kind invitation to be here today," Ford said. "At that point I was America's first instant vice president, and now I find myself America's first instant president. The Marine Corps band is so confused, they don't know whether to play 'Hail to the Chief' or 'You've Come a Long Way, Baby.'"
The point of the article is that previous Presidents have normally tended to self-deprecation, unlike the current President. They call him, "Barack Obama, the Insult Comic President."

The article has a noteworthy omission: Reagan. Here he is in 1988.

Pretty even mix, there. "Dukakis got great news today about the Jimmy Carter endorsement..." Good lines on the Panama situation, too.

The closing remarks, though, are full of class. I miss that about the man.

Time for another Met Trip

Time for Another Met Trip, DB:

The New Criterion has a review of an exhibit:

[A]rt made almost six centuries ago stars in some of this spring’s most compelling exhibitions—a trio of remarkable, more or less concurrent, shows: “The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry” and “The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and “Demons and Devotion: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves” at the Morgan Library Museum.
I know you wouldn't want your friends and companions to miss out on that.


IPAs of Spring: RANGER!

Today's entry is from New Belgium, which makes a very good porter in their 1554. Their IPA is called "RANGER!!!!!!"... er, "Ranger," named after the friendly beer rangers of the Pacific Northwest. Not the high-speed death machines. Who fight tigers.

(I must have seen that RANGER!!!! video a hundred times in Iraq. People just kept sending it out, or showing it to you when you'd walk into the room because it was new to them. A battalion S-3 who was a ranger had a version made for him by his captains, called "RANGER!!! -- Special Field Grade Edition." Another Major I knew would call out "Ranger!" every time he saw anyone with a fresh haircut.)

I'd place this one right below the Sierra Nevada. It's got almost the same richness of flavor. Someone who likes a drier ale might prefer this one to the Torpedo. Your call.


Progress and Stability:

Once in a while, you will meet a Muslim who will defend Islam's position on women in something like the following terms: 'Islam represented a great advance for women's status in the region. Before the Prophet Muhammad, the treatment of women was much worse. Islam's rules raised women's stature a great deal.'

Historians and anthropologists might contest the claim to some degree, but for the sake of argument let's say that it's perfectly correct. Islam, in the seventh century, vastly raised the status of women. It also created a stable floor, so that women could never again be traded like cattle. This progress had real value for the lives of women in that era, and the stability has continued to protect each new generation of women since then. Again, for the sake of argument, let's assume all this is exactly true.

The problem is that the same stability that continues to protect women from being treated like chattel slaves -- which we are assuming that Islam does, for this argument -- also prevents any further alteration. To the degree that you undermine that stability in order to change women's status for the better, you also risk undermining the positive change. Perhaps you will enjoy the change you say you want; but it's also possible that you will enjoy the change you didn't want. As women are -- even under this system -- less powerful than men, undermining the stability is a dangerous proposition. It might more easily result in a backlash against women that lowers their status below the floor they currently enjoy, than force society to adhere to these new standards.

The one thing that might prevent that collapse is a stern preservation of the Prophet Muhammad's reasoning for the "floor" position. If you're struggling for progress, it would be easy to see these people fighting for stability as your enemy. Yet actually they are not: your enemies are the ones who are pushing for a backlash. The people who are fighting for stability are your allies even if you find yourself clashing with them, because they are your backstop against a serious backlash. Given that the people pushing for progress are necessarily weaker than the forces that could impose a backlash, those who want progress should never forget the value of those who merely want stability.

The stable foundation they preserve is, after all, what you're pushing off from in your attempt to achieve some greater height. It'd be best not to undermine that foundation.

Mutatis mutandis, this is a point that I wish certain New York progressives understood as well. Of course, as Mr. Kristof notes, the difference is that in much of the developing world, the Catholic Church is not simply holding the line and preserving stability. It is the primary force advancing the cause.

Yet even here at home, the people who want stability are not the enemy of the progressive. As frustrating as stability may be for those who want change, it is the stable foundation that they are pushing against. If that foundation gives way, there's a long fall to the bottom.

Car Bomb

Car Bomb in Times Square:

A fuel-air bomb of "an amateurish" sort is still a significant threat. America does not realize how lucky it has been to go this far without these things being common in our cities; if they are hard to stop in Baghdad, with divisions of the US and Iraqi armies controlling approaches and manning checkpoints, there's honestly nothing at all to stop them in New York except good luck.

One reason horrible crimes often set off copycats is just that there are always horrible people who hadn't thought of it yet. Seeing it done is enough to wake their minds to the possibility that it could be done.

A shooting rampage, or a stabbing rampage like the one cited above, can be stopped while in progress by armed citizens -- indeed, even just by brave citizens. Car bombs aren't like that. You can harden society against them -- look at Ireland or Israel, or Baghdad -- but they are a different order of threat.

UPDATE: Allah at Hot Air remarks:

Read this Time magazine piece from five years ago about Al Qaeda capo Dhiren Barot’s “Gas Limo Plot,” which involved packing limousines with tanks of compressed gas, driving them into underground garages, and detonating them to create a fuel-air concussion that would bring down the building. As I understand it, an enclosed place is ideal for maximum damage from a bomb like that, but obviously not essential.
Well, in fact that's true for any kind of explosive. The force of an explosion is the pressure wave, at the edge of which gas or shrapnel is being thrown away from the blast. If it hits a wall, that wave will reflect back upon you. Thus, if you get hit twice by the pressure wave, it roughly doubles the amount of pressure that you are subject to.

The force of the pressure of a bomb above regular atmospheric pressures is called "overpressure." Enclosure is one way to increase it, but not the only way. Fuel-air bombs have a longer pressure wave than many kinds of bombs, so the concept of generating overpressure by reflection is even more useful with them.

American Interest on Europe

On Europe:

The American Interest has an article on Europe which begins:

Of late most predictions, especially those coming out of Europe, have been on the dour and pessimistic side. So it is refreshing to come across a book like Steven Hill’s Europe’s Promise, which reaffirms the earlier optimistic take: The European model is not only superior to the American in almost every possible way, but also, as its subtitle proclaims, the world’s “best hope in an insecure age.” According to Hill, Europe’s vastly superior stores of smart power will even allow it to solve the problem of the Iranian bomb.

Optimism can be refreshing, however, even when it is neither correct nor justified.
It's a pretty snide piece after that. That isn't to say that the piece is not balanced; it has lots of snide things to say about America, too.

In this he is joined by Mark Steyn, who points out that we are accepting one of the things that undid Europe -- mass immigration -- at the same time that our, ah, "leadership" is interested in installing the other -- massive new social welfare programs -- at the same time that our existing entitlements are about to balloon out of control. Immigration was touted as the solution in Europe, once:
Almost every claim made for the benefits of mass immigration is false. Europeans were told that they needed immigrants to help prop up their otherwise unaffordable social entitlements: In reality, Turks in Germany have three times the rate of welfare dependency as ethnic Germans, and their average retirement age is 50. Two-thirds of French imams are on the dole.

But wait: What about the broader economic benefits? The World Bank calculated that if rich countries increased their workforce by a mere 3 percent through admitting an extra 14 million people from developing countries, it would benefit the populations of those rich countries by $139 billion. Wow!

As Christopher Caldwell points out in his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, “The aggregate gross domestic product of the advanced economies for the year 2008 is estimated by the International Monetary Fund at close to $40 trillion.” So an extra $139 billion works out to a spectacular 0.35 percent. Caldwell compares the World Bank argument to Austin Powers’s nemesis, Dr. Evil, holding the world hostage for one million dollars! “Sacrificing 0.0035 of your economy would be a pittance to pay for starting to get your country back.” A dependence on mass immigration is not a gold-mine or an opportunity to flaunt your multicultural bona fides, but a structural weakness, and should be addressed as such.
Most Greeks and Turks are good folks. Their culture was never worse than Germany's culture; it was just different. The Germans had an equilibrium of savings and hard work that allowed for a certain level of social programs, especially since their national defense was being outsourced to the US Army. The Greeks had a different culture, but accepted a lower standard of living. With the coming of the EU to Greece, these cultures were suddenly blended; the Greeks were able to spend like Germans without having to adopt the German culture.

Now we see the results; but it isn't that Greece is morally flawed. Everyone is morally flawed. That is what it means to be human. The difference is that the equilibriums of these two cultures were both ruined by the sudden mixing of the cultures. The Greeks weren't getting any better, but they weren't getting any worse. Before easy credit was put in front of them, apparently for free, they accepted a lower standard of living in return for their culture of relative ease. The Germans worked harder but saved and spent more, even if they weren't really being honest with themselves about how much of their freedom to engage in social spending was being financed by the US military and taxpayer.

Then came the EU, and the sudden change in rules was not accompanied by a sudden change in behavior. The law can be changed overnight. People change slowly. This fact was somehow not written into anyone's plan.
Why were investors so complacent? The answer was that almost everyone believed that historical precedents were irrelevant. Greece was now part of Europe, and even more important, since 2001 part of the eurozone—sharing a currency with its more affluent neighbors. And that changed everything. Except that it didn’t.
Armed Liberal at Winds of Change tells a joke that's on point.

Greek Armor