31 May 2006

Ranting is Good.


The best rant I've seen in a long time.

30 May 2006

Convoys, Memorial Day, and Constantinople

OK, what I'm been hinting at recently: I'm no longer at FOB Sykes in Tal Afar. I am 'on the road'. Further I cannot discuss until things are more settled.

Memorial Day: Having had a communications blackout at FOB Sykes on the 29th, and subsequently being on the road, I did not get a chance to make a Memorial Day post. So I offer a belated toast to absent comrades.

Speaking of absent comrades, Memorial Day fell on the 29th this year, which also makes it the anniversary of the death of the last Emperor of the Romans, Konstandinos XI Palaiologos and uncounted martyrs in the sack of Constantinople. The 'Funeral Oration of the Roman Empire' as reported by Leonard of Chios shows how this Emperor prepared to meet his fate.

Gentlemen, illustrious captains of the army, and our most Christian comrades in arms: we now see the hour of battle approaching. I have therefore elected to assemble you here to make it clear that you must stand together with firmer resolution than ever. You have always fought with glory against the enemies of Christ. Now the defence of your fatherland and of the city known the world over, which the infidel and evil Turks have been besieging for two and fifty days, is committed to your lofty spirits.
Be not afraid because its walls have been worn down by the enemy's battering. For your strength lies in the protection of God and you must show it with your arms quivering and your swords brandished against the enemy. I know that this undisciplined mob will, as is their custom, rush upon you with loud cries and ceaseless volleys of arrows. These will do you no bodily harm, for I see that you are well covered in armour. They will strike the walls, our breastplates and our shiellds. So do not imitate the Romans who, when the Carthaginians went into battle against them, allowed their cavalry to be terrified by the fearsome sight and sound of elephants.
In this battle you must stand firm and have no fear, no thought of flight, but be inspired to resist with ever more herculean strength. Animals may run away from animals. But you are men, men of stout heart, and you will hold at bay these dumb brutes, thrusting your spears and swords into them, so that they will know that they are fighting not against their own kind but against the masters of animals.
You are aware that the impious and infidel enemy has disturbed the peace unjustly. He has violated the oath and treaty that he made with us; he has slaughtered our farmers at harvest time; he has erected a fortress on the Propontis as it were to devour the Christians; he has encircled Galata under a pretence of peace.
Now he threatens to capture the city of Constantine the Great, your fatherland, the place of ready refuge for all Christians, the guardian of all Greeks, and to profane its holy shrines of God by turning them into stables for fits horses. Oh my lords, my brothers, my sons, the everlasting honour of Christians is in your hands.
You men of Genoa, men of courage and famous for your infinite victories, you who have always protected this city, your mother, in many a conflict with the Turks, show now your prowess and your aggressive spirit toward them with manly vigour.
You men of Venice, most valiant heroes, whose swords have many a time made Turkish blood to flow and who in our time have sent so many ships, so many infidel souls to the depths under the command of Loredano, the most excellent captain of our fleet, you who have adorned this city as if it were your own with fine, outstanding men, lift high your spirits now for battle.
You, my comrades in arms, obey the commands of your leaders in the knowledge that this is the day of your glory -- a day on which, if you shed but a drop of blood, you will win for yourselves crowns of martyrdom and eternal fame.

With that, the Emperor cast off his regalia and descended to the walls to die, sword in hand. His body was so badly mangled that his corpse was recognized only by the distinctive eagles on his boots.

Eternal fame indeed, though in the West this date is often ignored or remembered poorly.

"Perhaps not. Especially in Europe, a Europe that weeps only for the Muslims, never for the Christians or the Jews or the Buddhists or the Hindus, it would not be Politically Correct to know the details of the fall of Constantinople. Its inhabitants who at daybreak, while Mehmet II is shelling Theodosius’ walls, take refuge in the cathedral of St. Sophia and here start to sing psalms. To invoke divine mercy. The patriarch who by candlelight celebrates his last Mass and in order to lessen the panic thunders: “Fear not, my brothers and sisters! Tomorrow you’ll be in the Kingdom of Heaven and your names will survive till the end of time!”. The children who cry in terror, their mothers who give them heart repeating: “Hush, baby, hush! We die for our faith in Jesus Christ! We die for our Emperor Constantine XI, for our homeland!”. The Ottoman troops who beating their drums step over the breaches in the fallen walls, overwhelm the Genovese and Venetian and Spanish defenders, hack them on to death with scimitars, then burst into the cathedral and behead even newborn babies. They amuse themselves by snuffing out the candles with their little severed heads... It lasted from the dawn to the afternoon that massacre. It abated only when the Grand Vizier mounted the pulpit of St. Sophia and said to the slaughterers: “Rest. Now this temple belongs to Allah” Meanwhile the city burns, the soldiery crucify and hang and impale, the Janissaries rape and butcher the nuns (four thousand in a few hours) or put the survivors in chains to sell them at the market of Ankara. And the servants prepare the Victory Feast. The feast during which (in defiance of the Prophet) Mehmet II got drunk on the wines of Cyprus and, having a soft spot for young boys, sent for the firstborn of the Greek Orthodox Grand Duke Notaras. A fourteen year-old adolescent known for his beauty. In front of everyone he raped him, and after the rape he sent for his family. His parents, his grandparents, his uncles, his aunts and cousins. In front of him he beheaded them. One by one. He also had all the altars destroyed, all the bells melted down, all the churches turned into mosques or bazaars. Oh, yes. That’s how Constantinople became Istanbul. But Doudou of the UN and the teachers in our schools don’t want to hear about it."
-- Oriana Fallaci

The fall is also described here: http://www.greece.org/Romiosini/fall.html

H/T http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/05/memorial-day-try-this-one-may-29-1453.html for pointing out the dates and providing the Fallaci quote.

28 May 2006

Things I Hate

OK, I'm feeling highly cranky right now. So let me present my list of top ten things I don't want to hear. Ever. Especially from civilians.

10) You have a relative in the military. That's nice, as far as it goes, I don't mind it. That statement alone doesn't make the list. What makes the list is the follow-up, "Do you know so and so?" Please don't ask me if I know him or her unless you have a real reason to believe I might. Iraq is a big place, the military as a whole is bigger. I don't know your nephew in the Marine Corps in Ramadi, or your daughter in the Air Force in Minot, North Dakota.

9) Any comparison what so ever between Iraq and Vietnam, other than that they are both nations in Asia that smell funny.

8) Any attack on the Bush administration for not adequately equipping the military, or for having too small a military. Unless you lobbied your Congressman back in the goddamn 1980s to jack up military budgets, and wrote letters to the editor all through the Clinton years as budgets were slashed, and then called the White House regularly before 9/11 asking why they weren't buying additional sets of IBA and other goodies, piss off. You were damned happy to watch successive administrations slash our budget when your particular feet weren't being held to the fire of reality. We have a heavily-equipped, highly-trained military, and it doesn't miraculously re-equip itself overnight, nor increase in size rapidly. The time to prepare for a war is BEFORE the damn thing starts, but as usual the Soldier is paying the price for political short-sightedness.

7) Any statement describing me or mine as either ignorant, or to much of a loser to do anything except Soldier. That may be true for Marines. And we have our ignorant jackasses and terminal losers like any job. But we make fun of them in house, try to correct their ways, and in the last resort, cut them loose to sink or swim with the rest of you damned civilians. You aren't family, you aren't entitled to comment.

6) Anything you heard on the news. It's a either an error of fact, or some ignorant reporter's spin on something he doesn't understand.

5) Your opinion on whether or not we should have invaded Iraq. Too frickin' late. More than three years too late. Sod off. We did it, and it isn't affecting your life in any way whatsoever. I live with the consequences of that decision.

4) The reason you aren't in the military. Flat feet, incurable cowardice, it doesn't matter a good Goddamn to me.

4a) A statement to the effect that you couldn't deal with people telling you what to do. Batshit. 99.99999%+ of the population of the United States has a job that includes a supervisor who did less to earn his rank than any NCO or officer, probably has less of a clue, and tells you do to stupid shit that you don't argue with except behind his back. And most of y'all suck it up for the mere motivation of money. You didn't swear any oath to obey lawful orders, it isn't criminal to tell your boss to piss off. You crawl before the altar of the almighty dollar and would eat feces if that was what it took. Don't tell me what you couldn't deal with.

3) Pity. For any reason. Don't tell me you feel bad for me, or I'll probably punch you.

2) any statement containing the word "hero". I know you mean well. But it just ain't true.

1) I support the troops--I want them all home, now. Batshit.

Quote of the Day

"The attitude of a man toward a dog is a perfectly valid indication of his character, if not of his technical education."
--Murray Lienster, The Forgotten Planet

One of the major things in favor of my Beloved was that she had a dog, and that dog was wonderfully playful and friendly.

On a related note, Arabs treat their dogs even worse than they treat their women or their mules. And that's saying a lot.

27 May 2006

More Posting

OK, let me explain something. I've got a lot of free time right now. Shortly, I will have little free time, then after that I should be able to stop being so damned cryptic. Some days the Army drives me bonkers.

Wall Street Journal:


Tigerhawk's Take Thereon.


OK, I'm not so sure I buy Tigerhawk's argument. There is a case to be made for it.

Part of my disagreement is that I don't see myself as particularly heroic, nor do I require adulation from the masses of folks who don't really have a clue. Respect from my fellow vets, that I want to earn. A little appreciation from the rest, that's fine as well. But people who effusive or who throw around terms like "hero" bother me on several levels. Fer crying out loud, I'm a damn fobbit these days anyway.

I'm not sure what it is I want from civilians. I have a confession to make.

Civilians confuse me. Don't get me wrong, I like 'em just fine. My brother's a civilian, and so is my godfather, my mother, and both my grandmothers. Some of my best friends aren't military and never have been. But civilians in general seem to speak a different language. They have long hair and are sloppy and undisciplined. What drives me most bonkers is the self-centeredness of many of them. Not all of them by any means, but most civs have never been in a position of responsibility for another person's life or safety. Well, anyone who has raised a kid has, but that's different. You aren't simultaneously relying on that kid to watch your back and keep some smelly Hajji from putting an RPG into your truck from the other angle.

I'm struggling here with the words. I know what I mean, but I can't figure out how to say it without sounding like I'm sneering down my nose at one sort of person or the other. Part of it is what I have said previously. I'm not a 'citizen-soldier', here to 'do my part' in a 'great crusade'. That's some pre-1978 Draftee nonsense. I Soldier because I love the profession and the men and women I have the honor to serve with. If I choose to stop Soldiering it will be because I no longer enjoy it like I used to. No other reason, no deep sociological or ideological profundity. I am a professional, not an enthusiastic volunteer (in the 19th century sense of the word).

You want to know what I want folks to do for Memorial Day? Stop for thirty seconds at the grave of a veteran and reflect on precisely how your life would be different if he had not done his thing the best he could.

British Populace Formally Deprived of Fully Free Status.


Is this a spoof, parody, or joke?

"This campaign really isn't aimed at the hardened gangster, who's not going to be affected by the advertising, but at people who could drift into knife crime, could get into it because of peer pressure or because of some misguided feeling that this will offer them protection.
"In a survey, 46 per cent of youngsters in Newcastle said they carried around a knife with them. That's a horrifying statistic.
"We have got to get the message through: this is illegal, it is very, verydangerous. You could end up yourself being injured or, worse still, on impulse inflicting some mortal injury on a friend."

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said knife crime was out of control in Britain and called for the introduction of tough mandatory prison sentences.
He said anyone caught in possession of a blade in excess of 3ins, without reasonable excuse, to face a minimum jail sentence of five years.

Other proposals include raising the age at which people can legally purchase knives from 16 to 18 and giving teachers power to search pupils for knives at school.

What in the name of Klono's Curving Carballoy Claws is going on in the UK?

I don't just ask because I've got a folding 4 1/2" single-edged leaf-bladed dagger on my belt in the back and a 5" fixed blade survival knife on my dropleg, as well as a Gerber multi-tool with a blade a bit under 3" also on my belt.

You know, it used to be that the United Kingdom required every free male to own and be proficient with military weaponry. They took away guns, and made it damn near impossible to buy shotguns, and now they are confiscating replica Klingon swords and bowie knives??

The English are descended from Germanic tribes, primarily Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Their aristocracy was descended from Normans, which is what happens when Norse men marry Frankish women. Good Germans all around. Here's the key to understanding this in cultural terms.

In any Germanic society, all free men carried weapons. All of them. Free women would too, if necessary. But that was the differentiation between free men, and those whose status was semi-free or unfree. I'm not saying you have to carry to be a free citizen. But you have to have that option availible to you if you desire to exercise it. If not, you are either a serf or a slave, to be disposed of as your master desires.

The Cheese and the Worms

As many, if not most, of you know, my little brother (the one who got all the brains in the family) is working on his master's degree. In a recent care package, he enclosed three textbooks from one of the classes he's already done.

One was entitled The Cheese and the Worms, The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, by Carlo Ginzburg and translated from the Italian by John and Anne Tedeschi. What a fellow named "Ginzburg" is doing writing in Italian, I do not know.

Anyway, it's pretty much based on the documents from the two trials of on Domenico Scandella for heresy. Menocchio was his nickname, not sure what that signified. This fellow was rather an interesting guy, who was literate and read everything he could get his hands on. There's even a speculation that he got his hands on one of the Italian translations of the Koran that was floating around. He was denounced to the Holy Office (formal name for Inquisition) because for about two decades or so, he was spouting all kinds of lunatic heresies. Apparently he was considered a harmless eccentric, but otherwise respected because he had been mayor of his community, and at another time held a post in his parish concerned with financial management. Eventually, he persisted enough that someone denounced him, probably the parish priest. He was tried, sentenced to prison where he remained for two years, and was then released. This was not enough to discourage him, as he reappeared before the tribunal some years later and was convicted of holding to his former ideas, and was executed.

His heresy is fascinating, a mishmash of ideas drawn from several sources. He had read several books, and used half-remembered quotations and allusion to support his reasoning. However, it is clearly shown by citations from these books that the miller was not constructing a cosmology from these sources, nor was his point of departure anything he had heard in church. He was cherry-picking ideas and metaphors and quotes to support the ideas he already had.

Ginzburg argues cogently that the actual source of his theological fantasies was an undercurrent of popular culture, rooted in the beliefs of the rural peasantry which included pre-Christian elements. This explains some of the similarities between Menocchio's ideas and those of other peasants tried for heresy, as well as some links to the Anabaptist heresy. Most notably there is a consistent denial of the sacraments and denunciations of the church hierarchy for a myriad of abuses both real and imagined. Other key elements of his cosmology include the idea of the death of the soul but the existence of paradise, where the spirit/soul/something will be rewarded for good behavior on earth in material ways, not unlike the Muslim paradise. He also argued against the divinity of Christ and the virgin birth, as well as propounding the idea that all religions were valid and that Jews, Turks, and heretics should persist in their beliefs as they are the customs of their fathers.

The singular title of the book has to do with the account of the formation of the world. Menocchio was thoroughly obsessed with the four elements, and argued that the cosmos was originally a seething mass of chaos in which these four elements mixed at random. Eventually, much as cheese forms in a mass in the midst of milk, the world congealed. Spontaneous generation of life was the current scientific theory, and it was applied to cosmology as well when Menocchio explained that as maggots generate from cheese, so did the angels generate from the world, and the strongest of these angels was God. He then explained that God built the world we have today as a master carpenter builds a house--which is to say, by directing his workers, the angels, to do the actual work according to his plans.

Menocchio also decried all formalized religion, espousing the idea of religion purely as moral behavior to other people and denouncing everything else as a business to keep priests rich. He also was posessed of some pretty socialist egalitarian leanings which would do a good marxist credit today. Yet in this he also contradicted himself, but we can discount the cases of hedging his bets given that he was on trial for his life.

There is a mass of contradiction in the miller's theories, and a lot of shoddy logic. Goes to show how craziness comes from ignorant people getting their hands on just a little knowledge, without a teacher to prevent them from going off the deep end.

I don't know one way or the other about how much of this is crap the miller came up with off the top of his head, and how much truly is representative of this supposed survival of rural peasant culture. Certaintly, some things were common features of peasant culture, such as the dislike of the 'superiors' above them. Perhaps the gross materialism is also a product of the peasant 'mentality'. As for the rest, chaos and the four elements and spontaneous generation of angels, that doesn't strike me as something peasants are going to sit around discussing at night after harvest. That seems to me to be something the miller assembled from these books and from his own imagination.

24 May 2006


The Belmont Club rocks. The top article has some good stuff to say about the impact of 9/11 on political philosophies. As usual, in a defining crisis, political theories had to translate into action.

Yet somehow I just can't work up the enthusiasm for a nice long political rant today. It's too hot.

23 May 2006

Placeholder Post

Been pretty busy lately.

Discussion of what we've been doing would be "indicator" and I haven't had time to do much else. I'm still alive, and should resume normal blogging next month.

21 May 2006

Finally formed a government.

Go Iraq. A government. This is a Good Thing in my mind. Betcha it didn't get 30 seconds of airtime on CNN Headline News. Never fear, The Belmont Club has info here:

Of course, what they don't know about because the media just doesn't cover it is that US troop strengths are declining and will decline further this summer/fall as the Iraqis take over more and more sectors.

This is not in keeping with the Main Stream Media's interpretation of the war, so it won't get covered. Especially since the reductions are in units more than 1 hour drive away from the hotel bars in Baghdad from which the reporters are covering this war.

Iran and Poul Anderson

Iran recently implemented regulations requiring Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to wear colored strips of cloth on their clothing.

Much of the Blogosphere went into orbit upon receipt of this news, which apparently was picked up by a Canadian newspaper and from there went to the Drudge Report.

Hooray for the internet. What's missing is perspective.

Distinctive clothing has always been a part of Dhimmi legislation. Non-Muslims in Persia have long since been subject to regulations on wearing of turbans, the type of shoes worn, and a requirement to wear a belt of a specific style. A Dhimmi which dared dress in such a way as to blend in with the Muslim population was considered to have broken his 'pact' and was subject to being murdered by any Muslim which cared to do so. Of course, the (pro-Western) Shah removed some of these regulations and stopped enforcing others. But Iran's proscriptions are perfectly in line with historical interpretations of Dhimmi regulation. A cloth strip is considerably less obnoxious than some of the things Dhimmis have been forced to wear in the past.

The Iranians are not taking a page from the Nazi playbook. The Nazis took one from the Muslim playbook.

On a more cheerful note, I got some packages of used fiction from an honor society in some private school. Included was the Poul Anderson anthology The Long Night. I was delighted to find that it contains one of my all-time favorite short stories, The Star Plunderer. That story is in a collection my father owned, and it made a great impression on my when I read it as a kid.

20 May 2006

Holding Pattern

OK, so we are going to reverse cycle operations for a little while, don't ask why. I'm getting a little less impressed with HHC every day. I miss the Line like crazy.

I really don't have much else to write about. Stay tuned. . .

18 May 2006

Arab Conquest, the Roman perspective.

Arabic conquest of Roman territories has been skipped over by apologists for that religion, who point to the fact that there were few recorded pitched battles and imply that as Roman administration was shaky, the Muslims sort of moved into a power vacuum with no opposition. This was due to a 20 year war with Persia which had devastated the Empire and during which Egypt, Palestine, and Syria were occupied for years. The Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persians decisively, but the Empire was badly shaken, and the invasion of Arabs was something which apparently took the Empire by surprise. Arab raids were nothing new, they were why the Roman paid the Gassanids to patrol the border. Narrations of St. Nilos and Ammonios reflect the prevailing Roman view of Arabs as ‘barbaroi’ who live a ‘beastly and blood-thirsty life’. In this can be read no more than a sedentary culture’s disdain for nomads who live by pastoralism and raiding.

The Arab invaders obviously intended not merely to carve of pieces of the Empire, but to overthrow it completely. Constantinople itself was first attacked in 669 and again from 674-680. This is shortly after the Arabs got organized post-‘Ali, with the first Umayyad caliphate at Damascus. Anatolia was the subject of annual raids for the entirety of the history of conflict between Islam and the Roman Empire, ending only with the fall of the last Roman possession in Asia. For a variety of reasons, the Muslims seemed to regard the Roman Empire as the primary enemy of the Islamic faith and of their particular political entity in particular. The first author to mention Islam was the Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem. In a sermon delivered in 634, he refers to the “sword of the Saracens” as “Beastly and barbarous. . . filled with every diabolical savagery.” The Arabs had by this point conquered Bethleham and the Patriarch’s traditional celebration of the Feast of the Nativity in Bethleham was prevented by fear of the Saracens. Sophronios likened the state of the Christians in Palestine to that of Adam expelled from Paradise, and their sorrows paralleled his sorrows. The Arabs are described as “Godless foreigners” who threaten massacres and destruction. This was relatively early in the 5 year process of conquering Palestine. Another sermon from 637 describes the advancing troops of the Saracens leaving behind a train of destruction and havoc, bloodshed everywhere and abandoned bodies devoured by wild birds. The “villainous and God-hating Saracens” run through places and capture cities, destroy the crops of the fields, burn down towns, set churches on fire, attack monasteries, and defeat Roman armies. He makes the claim that this is the natural result of the sins of his flock and calls them to repentance. In a synodal encyclical to Patriarch Sergios of Constantinople, Sophronios speaks again of the Arabs as “furious and brutal” and “godless and impious”.

The other Roman author of the 7th century wrote an apocalypse which is attributed to Methodius, Bishop of Patra. This is not certain, of course. It speaks of previous Arab victories, and speaks of the eventual decline of the Arabs and the ends of the world. It describes a catalog of horrors in what is probably hyperbolic language. All these are eschatological signs of the impending end of the world, according to this author.

Anthonios Chozebites, in his life of St. George Chozebites (who reposed ca 638 AD) writes of the Persian invasion of Palestine, and briefly mentions a ‘Saracen’ raid on the Lavra of Chozeba which ended in the murder of several monks.

St. Maximos the Confessor does not directly mention the name of Islam, but refers to the Arabs as barbarians who overrun civilized lands as if they were their own. He writes that they have the form of men but behave like wild and untamed beasts. St. Anastasios Sinaites refers to the Arabic capture and burning of Palestinian cities, and destruction in Egypt. He also delivered a sermon which has been preserved and refers to the Roman defeats at Yarkmouk and Dathemon, the fall of Palestine, the conquest of Egypt, and the capture and enslavement of Christians in Anatolia. He attributes this to the impiety of the Emperor Constans II who favored Monothelitism.

Blaming Constans II’s theological irregularities for misfortunes is the theme of a life of St. Theodore of Edeessa which refers to Arabs conquering Christian lands, defiling Christian churches, and oppressing Christian populations.

A life of St. Andrew, Archbishop of Gortyn and all Crete mentions an attack on Crete which is undated, but presumably refers to the same raid that al-Baladhuri refers to as being made duringthe caliphate of Al-Walid (705-715). According to the life, the Roman troops defeated the Arabs at the fort of Drimeos, which prevented any serious attempts to take Crete until the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, which eventually resulted in the conquest of Crete in either 827 or 828.

The first author to treat Islam seriously as a religion was St. Theophanes the Confessor. He wrote in the first quarter of the 9th century. He ripped Mohammed and his doctrines. He was aware of Islamic ethical teachings, referring to injunctions for the faithful to have sympathy for each other and to assist those who suffer from injustice. But he stresses the negative aspects of Islam and spends more than a little time mocking the hedonistic, purely physical nature of Islamic paradise. He relates the conquest of Syria and Palestine, albeit in fairly general terms. He emphasized the greed, barbarism, and cruelty of the conquerors. After the fall of Damascus, when the Arabs moved against Egypt, Patriarch Kyros of Alexandria offered a huge tribute, which bought a mere three years of breathing space.

The Arab conquest of Egypt was just as brutal. Their persecutions were somewhat cyclic, based upon their relations with the Empire. During the reign of Tiberios II (698 – 705) the Arabs were hammered, and as a result Abd-al-Aziz, brother of the Caliph Abd-al-Malik began vigorously persecuting Christians in Egypt in 704. Mobs set upon Christians and murdered them with impunity. He ordered that all crosses be removed from Christian churches and “Mohammed is the Great Apostle of God” and “God is neither born nor does He give birth” were written on the doors. The ecclesiastical administration of the Orthodox patriarchate of Alexandria was abolished for 91 years, and during that period the Coptic patriarchate also had difficulties electing patriarchs, resulting in prolonged vacancies.

John, the Monophysite bishop of Nikiu, speaks of the invasions of the Arabs are merciless and brutal. The invaders massacred the garrison of Bahnasa, and “they put to the sword all that surrendered, and they spared none, whether old men, babes, or women.” They engaged in acts of violence which spread panic through the province. “A panic fell on all the cities of Egypt, and all their inhabitants took flight.” He refers to the Arab conquest as “heavier than the yoke which had been laid on Israel by Pharaoh.”

Elsewhere, the massacre of the inhabitants of Dara in 940 AD is attested to by both Theophanes and the much later historian/emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitas. Caesarea held out for years, but 7,000 remaining inhabitants were massacred when it fell in 643. Cyprus was ravaged 650 when it fell to the Arabs, and the city of Arados on the island of the same name was utterly destroyed by fire. The invasion of Isauria in 650 resulted in the death of “many” inhabitants and the taking of 5,000 slaves back to Damascus.

The first attempted Armenian genocide was perpetrated in 705, when all the magnates and nobles the Arabs could get their hands on were burned alive.

When the Arabs captured Tyana in 708, they put many of its inhabitants to the sword after offering conversion to Islam. The Caliphs al-Walid I and Suleiman were notorious. Suleiman commanded his tax collector, Usamah b. Zayd, to burn brands into the bodies of Christians who paid taxes. If a Christian was found without the sign, his arms were cut off and then he was beheaded. Omar II discontinued some of these practices, but started a serious program to convert Syrians to Islam. The incentive was, as usual, the avoidance of death. Theophanes writes of these things and his account is confirmed by Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus.

In these times we also see the first persecutions of religious pilgrims. 70 youths from Iconium traveled to Jerusalem, but where then arrested and taken the governor of Caesarea and accused of being spies. They were tortured, and 7 apostasized. The other 63 died as martyrs. Sixty visitors from Amorion were put to death by crucifixion in Jerusalem in 723. Even travelers which were obviously not spies were accused as such. Willibald, an English pilgrim, was arrested, imprisoned and held for some time in 754. What possible motive an Englishman would have for spying in that time period I cannot imagine.

Christians living under the new rulers existed at their sufferance, which would be revoked at a whim. When the Metropolitan Peter of Damascus argued against Islam in the caliphate of Walid II, his tongue was cut out and he was exiled to South Arabia and eventually murdered. Peter, bishop of Maiuma, denounced the “pseudo-prophet” Mohammed and was beheaded for his troubles. During the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, the mosastaries of Palestine, including that of St. Sabbas, were raided and many monks were murdered.

And as seems to be a typical pattern for the rest of Muslim history, any time there was a problem or disorder in the Caliphate, the Christians suffered. From 786-796, a Harun al-Rashid’s authority was challenged by Bedouins and factions in Palestine which spent much time raiding Christian communities. Ascalon, Gaza, and Sariphaia were devastated, and the city of Eleutheropolis was utterly and permenantly destroyed. Monastaries such as the Lavra of Chariton and the Great Lavra of St. Sabbas were a favorite target of bandit gangs who would torture monks to death at random. By 797, Harun al-Rashid had gained effective control and replaced the depredations of bandits with a series of persecutions. He destroyed churches and imprisoned bishops. According to both Greek and Muslim sources, thousands of churches were destroyed in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere. And of course, it was utterly illegal to rebuild or repair churches.

17 May 2006

Well, NIPR is a dead letter. Crapmonkeys. There's stuff going on I can't talk about and there is a good reason NIPR is down in the office.

More in a couple weeks.

So I'm stuck blogging from the MWR. Which doesn't much like gmail, so more crapmonkeys.

Reading Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. Good stuff, and a lot of it resonates with me on several levels. It's the story of a fellow who was a Protestant minister who eventually gave up on Protestantism entire.

I've been asked a couple times to blog about my conversion from being a nonobservant Baptist to being an Orthodox. I've resisted trying to attempt that for several reasons.

First, I'm a lousy Orthodox and a lousy Christian. First among sinners, and all I ever seem to do is stumble and then try to get up again.

Second, the process took well over a decade and summarizing it in a blog entry isn't easy.

Third, Orthodoxy isn't something you can explain. It's something you experience, something you taste. I came at Orthodoxy backwards, looking for something that is, in the big picture, not as important. I found the living God.

There are more reasons, but those are the big ones.

Stuff I found on the Internet


Funny. Warped. VDH has a sense of humor.


Janet Karpinski encounter. God, what a disgrace to the uniform.

Unwilling Self-Negation (see sidebar) has an interesting discussion about Mecca and its centrality in Islam. He raises an interesting point about how the holder of Mecca automatically has a great deal of influence in Islam. And while the House of Saud is not who I think needs to be the standard-bearer of Islam, what alternatives are there? If the US just cut the Sauds loose, some loon who thinks they are too liberal and tolerant would end up in power in Arabia.

15 May 2006

A Peeve!

I think I will love it and pet it and call it George!

I really, really despise being patronized. To wit, a recent comment in another blog.

"kutti - those soldiers did not ask to be there, they have no choice. Many of them volunteered thinking the President would only use them in defensive wars, not wars of aggression. For their sacrifice, they deserve our respect."

Posted by the guy whose blog is here:

Doesn't seem like a bad fellow, really, so I kind of feel bad about using his comment (wherein he probably meant well) as the springboard for a complete rant. But that just really drives me up the wall.

This argument is how liberals and anti-Americans justify to themselves that they "support the troops" while arguing that the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq are illegal, immoral, made with artificial preservatives, fattening, and cause cancer.

Sorry, but no. The invasion of Iraq was launched in early 2003. To anyone with any Nous, it was obviously in the works for a few months prior to that. By that I mean staging large US forces in Kuwait, etc. Everyone should have known by then that Bush was no Clinton, to stage troops then withdraw with his tail between his legs (or, rather, Monica's).

The average initial term of enlistment for new Soldiers is 3-4 years. Some folks sign up for six years right off the bat, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. We then re-enlist for terms ranging from 2 to 6 years, until we hit 10 years of Active Service and then we re-enlist again for an indefinite time period. The minor point I'm driving at here is there are not many Soldiers in the United States Army who have not either enlisted or re-enlisted since 2003. There are almost none who have not done so since 2001, when it became obvious to anyone but a devoted reader of the New York Times that the United States was at war, and that that war would require global commitments of force.

But that's a side note. What really honks me off is the patronizing way the comment treated me and mine. We don't know better. We were duped. Oh, pity the poor soldiers!

I can put up with a lot. I laugh at hatred or opposition. It actually amuses me. What drives me nuts is being patronized. The assumption is that I and those like me were too stupid or uneducated to know what we were doing when we signed the contract. Not by a long shot.

You fold that until it is all pointy corners and pick and orifice to insert it into.

We are all grown men (although I wonder in the case of some of these new privates) capable of reasoned thought and making our own moral decisions. Whatever we do is the result of decisions we made of our own free will. And I believe that we will be held accountable for our decisions eventually.

You cannot seperate the Soldier and the cause he fights in. You can criticize the intelligence gathered before the war, or question whether that intelligence was interpreted correctly. You can bash the timing, the strategy, operational decisions, tactics, or logistical aspects of the war if you actually know more than you can read in your newspapers and see on CNN or al-Reuters. But if you say, "Well, of course Hitler's overruning Belgium was an illegal war of agression against a declared neutral, but I support the average German landser," then you are talking out both sides of your mouth at once.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either you believe the war against Iraq was legally and morally justified, or it isn't. That doesn't adress the details of how well it was planned and executed, nor whether certain decisions made in the initial phases of the occupation were the best decisions that could have been made. It even sets aside the question of whether invading Iraq in the spring of 2003 was the best of all possible methods of dealing with the Iraqi Question. But criminality goes up and down the chain of command. Executing illegal orders is just as immoral as issuing them.

On a lighter note:

14 May 2006

Mother's Day, Wiretapping, and a State of War

Mother's Day. I already mentioned my mother in yesterday's posting. The planned-not-executed mother of my children was also mentioned briefly. I left out my Mother-in-Law. Well, she must have done something right to have produced someone as amazing as her daughter. And she's pretty cool. I'll admit to having been really nervous before meeting my in-laws for the first time, but it was not nearly as bad as I expected. :)

Wiretapping. Everyone else has written about it.

I'm going to take a more relaxed approach to things. Privacy is a 20th century illusion. With increased capabilities on the part of everyone, governmental or otherwise, for all sorts of data collection, we are just going to have to get used to a more transparent lifestyle.

Having said that, the Bush administration is tripping all over their own peckers on this subject. First, they are forgetting that secrecy is like privacy. It's an obsolete notion. This administration can't piss in a pot without it being on the front page of the New York Times. If it isn't some damn liberal nitwit trying to sabotage the War, it's some mouthbreathing administration nitwit leaking deliberately for political gain. Second, when caught doing something that can be summarized in a hostile one-sentence headline, they need to just come clean entirely. Playing the stupid games they are playing now just burns their credibility when they don't have much to burn.

Whether the program is providing any useful intelligence or not, I am not qualified to judge. Neither are any of the pundits pontificating on the subject on the internet or in the media, near as I can tell.

Whether it is legal, I havn't yet seen a cogent argument that it is. The AUMF gives the President near-wartime authority. I'll buy THAT for a dollar. I'll buy that it gives him warrantless wiretap information against enemy combatants who have infiltrated the United States, on a far lower standard of proof than I would require for a law enforcement operation. I do not believe that al-Qaeda and other Islamic NGOs can be defeated going by a law enforcement standard. They are operating as paramilitary terrorist organizations, not mere alliances of criminals.

Collecting that same information against American citizens who are not suspected of any affiliation with an enemy organization? Nor of any crime? That doesn't seem to be legal to me. But I'm not a lawyer. Of course, a lawyer is like a prostitute--just because he or she says something, doesn't make it true. They are paid to spin a fantasy which makes you happy. Believing a lawyer is like believing a hooker who says your sexual technique is amazing. It could be true. But don't bet the farm.

There should be a way to do a couple things. First, leakers. Leakers need to be prosecuted far more stringently. I mean like firing-squad level. And if that's the Chief of Staff of the White House, so freakin' be it.

Second, there should be a way to get Congress in a closed, unrecorded session to discuss matters of national defense. There should be a way for the Administration to be able to present the case for a program, what benefits they expect to get from it, and get Congressional approval or disapproval in a timely and discreet manner. Unfortunately, since this is utterly impossible, the Administration seems to have adopted the scheme of starting a program, and planning to ask forgiveness rather than permission. There should be a way to ask permission without having the proposal discussed in the editorial pages of the New York Times.

Can we declare a moratorium on quoting Ben Franklin? You all know the quote I'm talking about.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. "

It's one guy's opinion. It ain't Holy Writ. And I'm suspicious of folks who think in aphorisms anyway.

It's also patently, provably, untrue. Every society has a contraction of liberty in time of war. Even the freest of nations has practiced forcible enslavement during significant portions of the 20th century. It makes my brain boggle when certain sectors of society demand conscription in one breath, and denounce the government for wiretapping in the next! As if it is a greater infringement of rights to listen to my conversation with my wife than to demand that a person involuntarily run the risk of death! What in God's name is that supposed to mean?

Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus. Wilson had folks imprisoned for years for sedition. And FDR's relocation of the Japanese population did scoop up a number of spies and saboteurs along with a lot of folks who happened to have the wrong ancestry at the wrong time. Even McCarthy dug up a lot of genuine Communists.

Man, in a state of pure liberty (aka the State of Nature) is, by that very nature at war with every other man and has only the rights and liberties that he can take by main force. (Hobbes, Leviathan. Rosseau was a damned fool) The idea that man has natural rights and liberties is an artificial construct of society, an agreement among us all as to what those are. And no right will long survive the collapse of that society. None but the right to keep what you can defend, and to take what your neighbor cannot.

The first duty of any government or any society is to defend the flock. To defend the flock may require measures the flock does not understand nor enjoy. Accept that reality, and maybe you will be able to deal with the world as it is, rather than as you wish it were.

And we are at war, make no mistake of that. Furthermore, we are at war in a situation that the Founders were incapable of comprehending. Modern totalitarianism is not something Ben had any experience with. Not could he conceive of less than two dozen operatives killing several thousand civillians in the space of a few minutes. The Founding Fathers had experience of war in the 18th century between two civilized powers. Granted, the English would have hung them all, but their wives and children would not have been enslaved, and the fundamentals of Colonial culture would have largely been unchanged.

But while the sheep bleat in circles, there is one thing I will keep true to.

Hold your head up high-for there is no greater love
Think of the faces of the people you defend
And promise me, they will never see the tears within our eyes
Although we are men, with mortal sins, angels never cry


So, we are running ranges to reconfirm zeros. This is a periodical thang we do from time to time. I get stuck out there with little to do since we are supposed to have an armorer on hand. I guess that is so that when a weapon breaks I can say, "Yep. It's broken. I need to get a part out of my workshop." Which is SO much better than having a Soldier bring a weapon back to my workshop from the range. It's not that bad, just pointless. And occasionally we get the Stupid Soldier Tricks which make my life a little more entertaining. But mostly I sit in a truck and read.

And we have been dinking around still with Change of Command issues, and repacking MILVANs that got left as a legacy of 3ACR (yes, it takes us 4 months to finish doing that). So I've been busy, but not with anything of any real interest. Mostly just getting hot and sweaty.

Reading my way through Bostom's Legacy of Jihad. Lots and lots of quotes from primary sources on the historical legacy of the institutions of Jihad, Dhimmi, Devrishime, etc. And tons of stuff from Muslim jurists and writers on these subjects. I'm digesting it, but sadly I'm not finding any real surprises.

I'm actually mildly amused by some pathetic trolling attempts in a comment section I commented in. If you are going to troll, stick to a message. Pick one, and stick to it. Don't bounce all over the place, contradicting yourself in your rush to be argumentative.

Another hint for effective trolling: Don't work yourself into such a frenzy that the humor value of watching you foam at the mouth is not greater than the irritation value of your trollery.

I find myself ignoring a lot of little stuff lately that would have gotten under my skin before. I have so much to be happy about. I have all the body parts I brought to Iraq. None of my buddies have been killed yet this time around. My wife is safe, healthy, happy, and getting back to school. My parents are in good health. Maybe this is some sort of reaction. I was crazy stressed out for the first few months I was here, worrying about everything under the sun. I guess there's a limit to how much one can stress about. And if you aren't shooting at me, you aren't going to register.

13 May 2006

Format Issues

I have having huge flaming issues with the formatting here. I got things more or less the way I wanted them, and with about a dozen links on the sidebar.

Then my entire blog disappeared. The Template format, when I check on it, was blank. So I had to re-default to the minima format which was the base of the format I was using.

And now the flippin' thing is not letting me edit the template. I'm annoyed.

The disadvantages of deployment

Cut off from normal society, here in a barren wasteland of despair (snx!) I seem to have missed two items of importance yesterday. The first was, of course, the New York Time's gross incompetence at picture captioning. Fortunately it was sufficiently mocked here:


The other, more serious, was that I did not realize yesterday was Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

On 12 May 2006, Military Spouse Day, we pay special tribute to our Army spouses and honor their magnificent commitment to our soldiers and the Army. Without their patriotism, sacrifices, and support, we could not sustain this high-quality army, an army that is the best it has ever been. Although we enlist soldiers, we retain families, and the army spouse’s support is a critical factor in a soldier’s decision to reenlist. We recognize that the army spouse’s answer to his or her own call to duty has been instrumental in sustaining all components of our Army—Active, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve.

-- The Honorable Francis J. Harvey, Secretary of the Army; General Peter J. Schoomaker, Chief of Staff and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston.

It would be fair to say that my life has been shaped in a large part by two military spouses.

The first (chronologically speaking) was of course my mother. Part of the problem I have with many modern images of women is that they fail to measure up to the prototypical model in my life. I don't mean to imply that my Father was insufficient or absentee, but the reality of the Soldier's life is that it requires absences both frequent and prolonged. Whether it was a few weeks for a field problem or a school, or the two one-year unaccompanied tours my Father pulled, when he was gone, she carried the load.

Of course, that's not an easy thing, and Lord knows we kids didn't always make it any easier. I don't recall often expressing a lot of gratitude for the stuff she did.

The stories I could tell of how she performed with strength, dignity, and as much grace under metaphorical fire as anyone could ask for are legion. We still have our disagreements, but for both Military Spouse Day and Mother's Day, I can only say Thank You.

You don't appreciate how hard a spouse's job is until you have to send someone you love to the Sandbox to get shot at for a year. Which is a bridge to the other Military Spouse in my life. Of course that is my wife. Woo-hoo! Anyone who reads me for much time at all knows I am madly in love with her. She is my rock, my strength, and I am more amazed and more in love with her each day. I don't know where I'd be without her, except a lot more. . . solitary.

11 May 2006

Guns, Testosterone, and General McCaffrey (ret)


Ummmm. . . This one comes as a shock only to weenie academics that have never handled a firearm and to pasty-skinned lib'rul New York Times writers who think that only madmen would want to handle a firearm.

Of COURSE handling a firearm raises the testosterone level. I betcha if you had them break down, clean and lubricate a machine gun, and put some rounds downrange those college brats would be chugging the hotsauce straight.

This is, to quote Grim of Grim's Hall http://grimbeorn.blogspot.com/
"a feature, not a bug."

Guys are designed by God to defend the important people in a society--pregnant women and kids. Testosterone is a useful chemical to have in your bloodstream when you get ready to do that. So handling things that we as modern men have been programmed to associate with violence will get that little monkey brain ready to execute violence.

That is the same reason that women are attracted to men they describe as "dangerous." They know we can defend them when the going gets rough. Displays of testosterone are part of that. Many women (those not brainwashed by anti-violence weenies) like occasional displays of testosterone so long as it is appropriately directed and kept in check when not appropriate.

Example: My Beloved and I were driving from Texas to Atlanta. Along the way, we needed to get gas, and turned off the interstate somewhere in Birmingham, Alabama. Now, I've been in poor neighborhoods before, but this was a ghetto. It wasn't full of working class poor, it was full of ghetto thugs. My Beloved was driving. I pulled the .45, chambered a round, and told her to find a way back onto the Interstate time now. There's really no way to explain to someone who hasn't been in a firefight or three how I was feeling other than to say I had my 'game face' on. Nothing happened, but we didn't stop for any red lights either.

Decency prevent a description of what happened that evening in the motel room. :) Suffice it to say that side of me is something I only trot out once in a long while in the US. But knowing it is there is very attractive to her.

If these weenies would handle guns, maybe they would get laid often enough that they wouldn't have the energy to waste on stupid studies that give results I could have described in detail.

On a totally unrelated topic, General McCaffrey (ret) spent some time hanging out in Iraq last month. If you havn't got the PDF file, Jerry Pournelle has it in HTML on his website

Or you can download it here:

Compare with last year's trip report:

And check out the Belmont Club's commentary here:

Someone once asked back on LJ what two topics I had written about had to do with each other.

And the answer was nothing. I was thinking of the two, or thinking of one and found the others online, or whatever. I do not feel the need to remain on one topic per post. It's my blog and I'll engage in radical topic changes if I want to.

For instance, now I feel the urge to quote the Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun on the subject of Christians and Jews in Seville around 1100AD.

"No Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression] 'peace be upon you.' In effect, 'Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget God's warning. They are the confederates of Satan's party; Satan's confederates will surely be the losers!' A distinctive sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recognized and this will be for them a form of disgrace."

On the Blogging Front

While following links, I came upon a nifty blog I was previously unaware of.


Too frickin' cool. I see references to jizya, Saudi corruption, misogyny and servitude, Armenian genocide, and more. These folks deserve all the traffic I can throw their way.

Following links from there led me to this story:


From this blog:


Which is also pretty cool. Or at least, it appears so at first glance. More reading must be done.

Reading List

Saladin: The Politics of Holy War

Malcolm Cameron Lyons and D. E. P. Jackson

This biography uses Arabic correspondence to paint a more comprehensive picture of this interesting leader in a much more balanced manner than most of the eulogizing that has been done over the centuries by people more interested in making political points than in the truth.

The truth is that Saladin was a medieval Islamic politician. Big surprise, right? As such, he spent the vast majority of his time in power at war with other Muslims for reasons of pure personal greed. He justified his attacks in terms of wanting to unify Islam in order to properly fight Holy War against the Franks. Sounds like some folks that make the evening news these days. Nothing new under the sun, etc.

The chivalrous behavior was entirely fictional, and in his correspondence Saladin boasts over and over of murdering prisoners, even those who surrendered under terms of quarter. After Hattin, he murdered Reynald of Chatillon with his own hands, which shocked even members of his court. All captured Templars and Hospitalars he ransomed from their captors (at 50 dirhams a knight) and as entertainment, had court poets, scribes, and religious men butcher them inexpertly. Some hired people to kill their assigned Franks to avoid embarrassment. The rest of the prisoners were sold into slavery, and the flood of slaves glutted the market in Damascus. After taking Jerusalem, no less than 15,000 people who could not afford a ransom were sold into slavery. This was perhaps a sixth of the population of the city. On another occasion, he refused to ransom some 3,000 Muslim captives from King Richard I of England.

He was a piss-poor administrator. He was perpetually broke as a result of his habit of giving away revenues and lands to anyone who could bring fighting men under his banner. He attracted recruits in great numbers due to his generosity and as a result, had to continually conquer more land to be able to pay them. Circular, isn’t it? He had difficulties paying for fortifications and naval construction consistently.

Saladin also was keen to make political hay by strictly enforcing dhimmi laws in his conquered domains. In fact, in Aleppo he tried to reinstate regulations requiring Christians and Jews to wear distinctive clothing, but dropped this requirement after a number of them were murdered by mobs. On the other hand, he was satirized by his enemies as a patron of prostitutes. There is no good evidence of this in his case, but his nephew wrote several letters graphically describing orgies.

The book is a bit of a slow read, with Arabic names that I could barely keep straight. But if you want to discuss Saladin, you really can’t avoid reading it if you want to understand your topic. It might come as a shock to those with a Kingdom of Heaven level understanding of the Crusades, but anyone who actually has some knowledge of the topic will find few surprises and many details.

Big Butts! And Romantic Musings

This was possibly the funniest thing I have EVER seen in nearly 8 years of Active Service, just under 4 years of Reserve Service, and about, 15 years as a dependant.

I have mentioned Karaoke Night in the DFAC before. Normally folks who I wouldn't listen to if I were drunk take advantage of it. But last night B Company, 501st Support Battalion's First Sergeant went up on stage and did a quite creditable rendition of "All Shook Up" complete with hand movements, hip swinging, and the rest. I was highly amused.

Not as amused as what happened next. Seems this First Shirt managed to get his company commander into the spirt of things, and he presented Sir Mix-a-Lot's "I Like Big Butts." Now this was amusing. What caused me to choke on my food was the fact that the First Sergeant was dancing to the music--shakin' his booty and all. Then the Battalion Commander and someone else (I think a Warrant Officer, but I couldn't tell) jumped up on stage and started dancing too. I have never seen a Lieutenant Colonel "freak" with a Captain before. I fell out of my chair twice and choked on my food. I'm still laughing about it.

Someone found the -7Bs, for which I am highly grateful. I hope lessons have been learned on going on leave with sensitive items in the wall locker.

I'd have blogged about this last night, but the server was down for maintinance. It's up now, obviously!

Also, my wife rocks. I called her up yesterday late and caught her at her Mother's house making curtains. She started to explain in detail what she was doing, then caught herself and said, "You probably don't want to hear all those details."

And I replied, "If you want to talk about them, I'm sure I'll be enthralled."

So she starts laughing at me.

I think that's one of the good things about our relationship. We both have our obsessions, but we can both laugh at them and tolerate the other one's. My honey will let me go on and on when I get going on a rant, even if it is one she's heard before (and by now, she's heard most of them).

And the funny thing is, I usually do manage to follow her when she talks about something she enjoys. It's like. . . burning magnesium. It not only burns, but it throws out sparks everywhere. I find myself actually caring about whatever it is (Elizabeathan and early Baroque costuming was a recent discussion at 0200 her time) for two reasons. First, my Beloved is a magnificent communicator. I rarely have to ask for explanations and she covers the background information I need. I don't do that. It's a bad habit. Second, whatever she loves, she loves whole-heartedly. There's a passion to her that is simply amazing (and even more so when it is directed my way, woo-hoo!). She can communicate that passion and catch others on fire. If I believed in psychic powers I'd suspect she was a projecting empath--or maybe that's just the effect she has on me.

Because she is so whole-hearted, it sometimes doesn't take much to make her really happy, and because what makes her happy tends to make me happy, I find I'm digging around for all sorts of cheesy stuff to do or say or whatever. Someone once gave me a book, I think it was called 101 (or possibly 1001) way for a guy to be romantic or something to that effect. The book is in my household goods, but the idea is simple. Women interpret small actions to mean much more than they do to guys. Every married guy knows that, and we get the bad end of that when the women in our lives burst into tears or get angry over the most trivial of things. As a side note, while my Beloved does this once in a while, she will at least a)explain what is wrong, b) listen to an explanation as to why I didn't mean it that way, and c) accept an apology. This is better than the average XX-chromosome carrier. But the good end of this is that little things that a guy wouldn't think twice about make her feel so appreciated/loved/whatever. So I try to do these things every now and then.

Like the coffee. I am more or less a morning person. My Beloved is NOT. If she had her way, the day would start at noon. Coffee is good for that, though, and I try to get up before her and make coffee so there is usually some when she wakes up. It's nothing to me, since I'd be making the coffee anyway because caffine is a drug and I have a habit. But it is worth so many points it isn't funny.

Also, another reason my wife rocks is that she sent me coffee. I have a coffee pot set up in the Arms Room Workshop now, and I come in early to dink around on the internet and make coffee. While at Ft. Hood and spending much of the weekends in Austin, I got used to good coffee. Don't get me wrong, as long as it is hot and black I'm more or less happy. But I enjoy the good stuff. And she sent me Seattle's Best. I'm not a serious coffee snob, but that beats DFAC coffee any day. And I can brew it as strong as I want it.

Next I need a hotplate, a briki, and some Greek coffee.

I'll be rambling on at somewhat greater length nowdays, I suppose. Since blogger doesn't do the "Friends Page" like LJ, I figure anyone who navigates my way really wants to read me.

10 May 2006

Introduction, Part II

Let's do this in the form of a hypothetical interview.

Q: OK, what's with this Roman stuff. Decurion, Castrorum, blahblah. You even quote T. R. Fehrenbach who is one of the most Roman-obsessed military historians. Ever.

A: I believe in "Western Civilization." It used to be called Christendom. I like that term. Christendom is what happens when you mix in Greek philosophy, Roman law and practical approach to life, and the revealed Word of God. One of the most underappreciated elements of Christendom is the contribution of the Romans. Without the Romans, you got nothing. Romans created the world wherein it was possible for the 12 and the 70 to go out and end up converting the entire civilized world. Without Rome you have no technology, no applied sciences. Without Rome, you get all sorts of Barbarians crushing the light out of Christendom before it has a chance to get on its feet. And finally, without Rome, we'd all be speaking Arabic, be missing our foreskins, and never experience bacon or a good whiskey.

Q: What is up with the move to blogger.com?

A: Websense is behind it all. Some genius at Websense decided Livejournal is a "dating and personal ad" service. The US Armed Forces use Websense indiscriminately and those services are off-limits to United States Soldiers deployed to Iraq. The logic behind that escapes me. It's one of those Army decisions made by someone with no knowledge of what is really going on out there. Milblogging is possibly one of the most potent weapons in the US Army's arsenal to get truth to the American people. It is powerful because it is uncontrolled. It is an authentic medium, unspun. And as such it has credibility in a way that press releases might not in some quarters. I hope that the damn fool behind this decision changes his mind at some stage. But I don't hold out much hope.

Q: So, what is in the future for that Livejournal account.

A: It's probably dead and gone until I return to the United States. I am scheduled to depart Iraq NLT 19 January. My DEROS to return to the US is April '07.

Q: TLAs. . . They suck, don't they.

A: Unfortunately, I am a poor writer. I write more or less as I speak. And I don't really speak civilian anymore. I also can barely spell. My blog will likely contain TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) because it will not occur to me that anyone doesn't know what they mean. DEROS is Date of Estimated Return from OverSeas.

Q: So, how has your day been?

A: It wasn't too bad, until I discovered some verdammt moron has lost a set of AN/PVS-7Bs. These are night vision goggles, and are what is called "sensitive items". This is why I havn't called my beloved wife, because I am waiting for that tāmāde hùndàn of a platoon sergeant to try to track them down. It beats tearing apart my arms room without a good reason, since I know for a fact the zāogāo isn't there.

Q: Chinese swear words?

A: OK, so I like Firefly. Sue me.

Who is This Decurion Guy?

If forced to be laconic (not something I have ever been accused of) and describe myself in one sentence, it would have to be:

"I am an Orthodox Christian husband and Noncomissioned Officer whose hobbies are gaming, history, and writing."

Which would be a bit of a mouthful, so let's take it a piece at a time.

I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a convert to Holy Orthodoxy after spending years dissatisfied with my Protestant background. While my story is entirely too long for this brief introduction, suffice it to say that I have found where I should be. I welcome challenges, discussion, and debate on the subject. I am not tolerant of attacks on faith in general or mine in particular.

I am a husband. I'm happily married to possibly the most incredible woman on the face of the planet. Every day I am more in love with her, and more amazed that she puts up with me.

I am a Noncommissioned Officer. Specifically, I'm a 21B2O, a Combat Engineer Sergeant in the United States Army. I bleed green, and my family has for three generations (my great grandfather never served, although his brother was a Devil Dog at Belleau Woods). I am not a "citizen soldier" such as provided the fodder for the great European civil war (1914-1945), but a throwback to an older breed.

"However repugnant the idea is to liberal societies, the man who will willingly defend the free world in the fringe areas is not the responsible citizen soldier. The man who will go where his colors go, without asking, who will fight as phantom foe in the jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britian to democratic America. He is the stuff of which legions are made. His pride is in his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldy realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obiedience is to his orders. As a legionary, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world; as a bluecoated horseman he swept the Indians for from the Plains; he has been called United States Marine. He does the jobs-the utterly necessary jobs-no militia is willing to do. His task is moral or immoral according to the orders that send him forth. It is inevitable, since men compete."

I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. I do my job because I love the job, for all the pain and heartache and doubt. I do my job because the Soldiers I serve with deserve the best I can give them.

I am temporarily serving in a capacity outside my MOS and without any Soldiers directly under me due to a series of personal problems and interpersonal conflicts. This does not change who I am. I am a decurion. I am acting as a custos armorum.

Hobbies are gaming, history, and writing.

Gaming -- I love dice-chucking. Roleplaying, wargaming, I've even LARPed a few times. If you understand it, you don't need elaboration. If you don't, I can't explain.

History -- Military history is my forte. My beloved wife knows art and costume and so forth, I'm mostly interested in how people have been killing each other over the centuries. My specialty is Roman history from the Late Republic through to 1453.

Writing -- Never used to be much of a writer, but this blogging stuff is addictive. I find I enjoy expressing myself in writing.

So, where does this blog come from?

I'm deployed to Iraq, the lovely garden spot of Tal Afar. I have NIPR because I am an acting TOCroach. I used to have a nice little Livejournal, and suddenly NIPR decided to block it. Apparently Websense thinks LJ is a "dating and personal ad website". Yeah, whatever.