Showing posts from 2004

Sgt. Rafael Peralta

by Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,

Right here in Medina County...

It was a five shot morning. The barista didn't even know what they called that. And that's when you know it's going to be a long day...

Hello from Medina County Ohio, where I'm on the Bush campaign. I might even get stuck here if there's a recount. Sleep is low, we're trying to get our numbers up, and now I remember why I love campaigning, and also why I promised myself not to go on a campaign this year. You love it, you hate it.

The Curse No More

So Boston has won the World Series. Babe Ruth's curse has been broken, or at least it expired. I'll bluster about it to keep up my regional allegiences to the Yankees. But you know what, I really don't care. I woke up this morning, and felt the same. I still had to go to class. The world didn't end, complete lunar eclipse or no eclipse. There is still ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Three more soldiers probably died in Iraq today. Yassar Arafat is sick, and there will be a major power struggle, most likely bloody, when he dies. Russia is accused of smuggling explosives out of Iraq on the eve of the invasion. I still need to find a job.

To summarize. No matter what outcome there is from a bunch of guys running around a diamond every few minutes, life goes on. At it's heart, it's just a game. True, it allows Americans to indulge in "safe" regional loyalties. But no matter who wins, life goes on. Unlike conflicts of a simpler time, Bostonia…

Film as Historical Apologetic

Vietnam Through Two Perspectives

For those of us who were born in the 1980’s, the Vietnam War is a conflict to which we cannot truly relate. We live in a historical hang time: the war is far enough into history that many now living did not experience it, and yet, it is still in recent enough memory that a full historic examination of the conflict is not yet possible. To fill this void, film has become the media whereby 20 and 30-somethings attempt to understand the experiences of previous generations. This film-driven historical dialectic is relatively simple for the struggles that faced our grandparents. Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List provide, if not historical accuracy, at least a general feel for the period. The historical book on WWII has been closed, at least in the modern western mindset, and most specifically in American pop-culture’s historical viewpoint. Sentiment is relatively one-sided as to the reasons and justifications of World War II.

Such clear demarcati…

Rob Simonich

Today is the birthday of Rob Simonich, a friend who died in a car accident last year. He was a good man, and a talented craftsman. October 3, 1958 - November 28, 2003. I didn't know Rob well, but I'm close with many who felt his death more acutely. Fellow custom knifemaker Jerry Hossom wrote this eloquent eulogy for Rob, just thought I'd share it.

"How many men when they die can truthfully say, 'I lived as I wished. I loved. I fought and bear scars as witness. I touched many lives and made them better. I printed my name on steel of my making, weapons for battles yet fought. And though my body rests in the soil of my ancestors, warmed by the love of those I left behind, my spirit lives on. We will meet again.' Rob Simonich lived a life all can admire, and few can emulate."

The Bomb!

Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! Why didn't you tell the world, EH?

North Korea Has THE BOMB!

"Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Problems of War and Strategy Mao Tze-Tung, November 6, 1938, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.

So North Korea has the bomb. Big surprise. Guess that's what happens when we let rogue states bully the UN, rattle their sabres, and generally ignore the requirements of the IAEA. Now what remains to be seen is how the West will deal with a new nuclear power. North Korea has always remained committed to beligerence on the Korean peninsula. The question we must ask ourselves is "Do we truly care about South Korea?" Will we allow the communist North Korea to subsume the free South? Is it still in the interest of the United States to contain the threat of communism, totalitarianism, and nuclear thuggery?

I believe it is still in o…

O'Reilly's Audience Smarter... Eh, not so much

So Bill O'Reilly says that Jon Stewart's audience on "The Daily Show" is a bunch of "stoned slackers." Well, as a committed member of Stewart's audience who is not a slacker, and has never been, nor ever intends to be, stoned, I take offense. Apparently, so did Comedy Central, Stewart's vehicle. They asked Nielson Media Research to conduct a study, a study which revealed that Stewart's viewers are more likely to have finished four years of college than those who watch The O'Reilly Factor, the purported "No Spin Zone."

Amusing. Here is the comment that started it all.

O'Reilly: "You know what's really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true. You've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote."

Stewart: "This election is going to rely on the undecided, and who is more undecided than stoned slackers? Ice cream or …
Mansfield and De Tocqueville

The Charge of the Light Brigade

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn …

Mansfield: Ambivalent Theorist?

A Review of Taming the Prince, by Harvey Mansfield.

Harvey Mansfield’s book Taming the Prince comes at an important point in the development of political theory. We live in a society that unthinkingly accepts the realities of realpolitik and the existence of political necessity without embracing the full implications of these theories. Following the democratic trend in Western culture, the people of many developed constitutional societies are uncomfortable with several aspects of Machiavelli’s political theory. In what is perhaps a cunning example of Machiavellian subterfuge and ambivalence, Mansfield “tames” Machiavelli for the democratic era and regime. It is in this way that Mansfield preserves the essential nature of Machiavelli’s prince, as applied to the modern executive, while necessarily obscuring those portions less palatable to a modern democratic tradition.

Mansfield correctly argues that Machiavelli’s recognition of the necessity of executive power founded in uno solo …

Gunga Din

Here's another good Kipling poem. Many of Kipling's works show a Anglo-centric bias, particularly in his attitudes towards European colonization and "civilization" of India. But Gunga Din appears to show up much of this prejudice. Gunga Din the man is shown to be a compassionate human, and he shames the speaker by his self-sacrfice. The actions of this "heathen" outperform the self-proclaimed European saviors of humanity. How often do we Christians meet pagan Gunga Dins who show a selfless spirit which is so much more Christlike than the attitude of many of us who profess to bear His name?

Gunga Din

You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty…

Please Sir, Can I Have A Guitar.

For Steeg.

Seems to me, that of all the instruments we have in chapel, guitars and drums would be the MOST Biblical. You know, tamborines and harps... God seemed to dig those. Percussion and strings. Anyway, why can't we have an electric guitar and drums? Seriously, are we going to all go to hell for making a rockin' joyful noise?

"We showed weakness, and weak people are beaten"

So said Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, speaking in a news conference where he appeared visibly shaken by the tragedy which concluded the hostage situation at the school in Breslan in southern Russia. The current death toll tops 340.

I don't intend to discuss the merits of the Russo-Chechen conflict. Nor will I offer suggestions on how to resolve the situation. If you want my opinion, track me down and ask me personally.

However, I will say this. Anyone who thinks seizing a school full of over 500 children is a valid way to fight a war or influence politics is scum. Debate the line between terrorist and freedom fighter until doomsday, but those who attack helpless children deserve no such consideration. Does anyone wonder why the FBI considers kidnapping the lowest crime in the pantheon of criminal acts? Human nature innately revolts against the idea. Bastards.

Kipling on First Loves

Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose
From his first love, no matter who she be.
Oh, was there ever sailor free to choose,
That didn't settle somewhere near the sea?

Myself, it don't excite me nor amuse
To watch a pack o' shipping on the sea;
But I can understand my neighbour's views
From certain things which have occured to me.

Men must keep touch with things they used to use
To earn their living, even when they are free;
And so come back upon the least excuse --
Same as the sailor settled near the sea.

He knows he's never going on no cruise --
He knows he's done and finished with the sea;
And yet he likes to feel she's there to use --
If he should ask her -- as she used to be.

Even though she cost him all he had to lose,
Even though she made him sick to hear or see,
Still, what she left of him will mostly choose
Her skirts to sit by. How comes such to be?

Parsons in pulpits, tax-payers in pews,
Kings on your thrones, you know as well as me,
We've only…

Bread and Circuses: An Introduction

"'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure." - Robert Anson Heinlein.You've come to this blog because you want to know what and how I think. Whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts is irrelevant, you're still curious. Bread and Circuses may be an odd name for a blog. Such a title seemed apropos because A: It sounds cool, and B: The concept of 'Bread and Circuses" is intrinsically linked with Roman entertainment. They were the tools of demagogues, instrumental in buying off an easily contented populace. Blogging seems to have a strong entertainment aspect to it. At the same time, there are strong aspects of demagoguery in it, albeit now a democratic demagoguery. Everyone can have a blog, anyone can read them. Yet a common theme is that blogs elevate the opinions of the masses to an equally exalted position, without any Platonic standard of excellence. Yet the blog also presents a powerful tool…