On Chimps:

Our friends at Southern Appeal are a bit worked up over the London Zoo story. I assume you saw it?

"Warning: Humans in their Natural Environment" read the sign at the entrance to the exhibit, where the captives could be seen on a rock ledge in a bear enclosure, clad in bathing suits and pinned-on fig leaves. Some played with hula hoops, some waved.

Visitors stopped to point and laugh, and several children could be heard asking, "Why are there people in there?"

London Zoo spokeswoman Polly Wills says that's exactly the question the zoo wants to answer.

"Seeing people in a different environment, among other animals ... teaches members of the public that the human is just another primate," Wills said....

"A lot of people think humans are above other animals," he told The Associated Press. "When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds us that we're not that special."

Emphasis per Southern Appeal author MJA, who objects on theological grounds.

It reminds me of a comment I read over at Althouse's blog, which link of course came from the Sage of Knoxville. Althouse was talking about sex-differences research on chimps. One commenter added this:
I read a book a couple of years ago called "the Third Chimp" or something thereabouts. Its point is that genetically, we are close enough to them to be considered the same genus, but different species.

In the end though, the author pointed out that under standard methodology, they should probably become part of genus "homo" instead, as we were scientifically named before they were.

In other words, isn't it really species arrogance that lets us separate the other two species of our genus into a different one?
I think the fellow has a good point. We should re-examine this issue out of the glare of species arrogance.

I suggest we invite a panel of the best chimpanzee biologists, from the top chimpanzee universities, to meet with us to discuss the issue. We can compare their system for cataloging, researching and understanding all forms of life to the one we have separately developed. Then, we can see if this sheds any new...

...oh, right. Well, maybe we're a little special after all.
Gates of Fire.

Michael Yon has another report from Mosul.

This one had me on the edge of my seat. That battalion will miss it's Colonel.


Bathing in Blood:

An unexpected confluence arises in two stories of two very different men. The story of Lieutenant Cathey's family contains a tale of a promise made that could not be kept:

James Cathey received his officer’s commission three years ago and had been deployed in East Timor and twice to Okinawa before going to Iraq. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2004 with a degree in history and another in anthropology after three years. He married Katherine on June 23, 2004.

His family said he had been named Marine of the Year in the division and was on the Super Squad for his battalion twice.

Katherine quoted a card her husband bought before he left July 21 for Iraq with the unit he joined in April.

"He said, 'I'll promise you one thing: I will be home,'" she said. "'I have a wife, a new baby to take care of and you guys are my world.'"
There is no doubt that he meant every word of it; but there are powers in the world stronger than a man's heart. One such power met up with another man, unlike Cathey in every way except that both were Americans:
When Timothy Treadwell, a boyish-looking minor eco-celebrity, went on Letterman in 2001 to tell the world how he spent a substantial portion of his time living in the Alaskan wild, an arm's length from foraging grizzly bears, Dave asked the obvious question. "Is it possible we'll open the paper one day and see you've been eaten by these bears?"

The audience roared. Treadwell looked genuinely taken aback by the suggestion.

"No," he stammered.

At the end of his 13th summer among the bears, federal park rangers found the majority of Treadwell, and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard, in the gastrointestinal tract of a male grizzly.
They are alike, I suppose, in one other way: both believed what they promised. And perhaps in one more way: both were, each in their fashion, brave men.
He camped between fox dens; we see the docile pups perpetually pawing at his tent and running away with his hat. When the bears start sniffing at him he gently pushes them and growls. They lumber away.
The author of the National Review piece means to scorn Treadwell as a madman, or a fool. It is true that Treadwell lacked understanding of a central point, one Cathey surely understood, and which was laid out plainly by G. K. Chesterton. Yet the NR piece does not understand the principle either.
Nature worship is natural enough while the society is young, or, in other words, Pantheism is all right as long as it is the worship of Pan. But Nature has another side which experience and sin are not slow in finding out, and it is no flippancy to say of the god Pan that he soon showed the cloven hoof. The only objection to Natural Religion is that somehow it always becomes unnatural. A man loves Nature in the morning for her innocence and amiability, and at nightfall, if he is loving her still, it is for her darkness and her cruelty. He washes at dawn in clear water as did the Wise Man of the Stoics, yet, somehow at the dark end of the day, he is bathing in hot bull's blood, as did Julian the Apostate.
Catholicism addresses the problem by swearing itself to the light. It warns its members to avoid the darkness. Yet it is aware of this truth, as all wise faiths must be: both natures are real. Catholicism chooses one side; other faiths embrace both. But only the fools deny either part. Treadwell was not a fool to believe that he could play with grizzly bears. He was a fool only because he thought they would always only play with him.

The NR piece is just as foolish, in the other direction.
It's easy to dismiss knee-jerk environmentalists as dopey because of this — as easy as it is to laugh at Timothy Treadwell, or hold him in contempt, as many did. It's less easy to contemplate the possibility that your doting little Terrier, the one you make kissy sounds at every day, would eat you if it got hungry enough.
It is not so. Nature is no more cruel at base than she is kind. She is each at turns. Consider:
Demonstrating his loyalty, another Border stood guard over his dead master for days after the shepherd died while in the hills with the flock.
Or this story, from Japan:
The people from the hospital, upon hearing of his death, where not able retrieve the body for over three hours due to the dogs loyalty to its master. In the end the body had to be retrieved through a window to a vehicle. The faithful dog showed its loyalty by attacking anyone who came near his master and did not partake of food or drink. Even after the body had been taken away, the dog laid on the masters bed for over 3 days without food preventing intruders to enter. The neighbors who had witnessed the event of the dog’s loyalty were moved to tears and considered the dog to be better than human. This Baekgu has once again displayed the superiority of the Jindo dog.
Or, if you want to think on cruelty, consider Buddy:
Buddy, the dog that stole Alaska's heart, had made international headlines in March when he led search parties to the body of his dead master Bill Hitchcock, 45. Bill had been killed by a falling tree, and for 12 days the grieving Labrador stayed by the man's body in the remote wilderness of Knight Island.
Buddy was killed by us, not nature. His adopted owner found him aggressive and, after the dog bit him, had him put down.

One last example, from our nearer neighbors. Jane Goodall awoke the world to the nature of the apes with her work, finding them kind and gentle giants in their forests. That was the case during her long time with them -- until one day, when they suddenly and purposefully began a genocide.
It began as a border patrol. At one point they sat still on a ridge, staring down into Kahama Valley for more than three-quarters of an hour, until they spotted Goliath, apparently hiding only twenty-five meters away. The raiders rushed madly down the slope to their target. While Goliath screamed and the patrol hooted and displayed, he was held and beaten and kicked and lifted and dropped and bitten and jumped on. At first he tried to protect his head, but soon he gave up and lay stretched out and still. His aggressors showed their excitement in a continuous barrage of hooting and drumming and charging and branch-waving and screaming. They kept up the attack for eighteen minutes, then turned for home, still energized, running and screaming and banging on tree-root buttresses. Bleeding freely from his head, gashed on his back, Goliath tried to sit up but fell back shivering. He too was never seen again.

So it went. One by one the six adult males of the Kahama community disappeared, until by the middle of 1977 an adolescent named Sniff, around seventeen years old, was the lone defender. Sniff, who as a youngster in the 1960s had played with the Kasekela males, was caught late on November 11. Six Kasekela males screamed and barked in excitement as they hit, grabbed, and bit their victim viciously--wounding him in the mouth, forehead, nose, and back, and breaking one leg. Goblin struck the victim repeatedly in the nose. Sherry, an adolescent just a year or two younger than Sniff, punched him. Satan grabbed Sniff by the neck and drank the blood streaming down his face. Then Satan was joined by Sherry, and the two screaming males pulled young Sniff down a hill. Sniff was seen one day later, crippled, almost unable to move. After that he was not seen and was presumed dead.

Three adult females, Madam Bee, Mandy, and Wanda, at one time had belonged to the Kahama group, along with their offspring. But Mandy and Wanda eventually disappeared, as did their young, while Madam Bee and her two daughters, Little Bee and Honey Bee, were beaten by Kasekela males several times. Then in September 1975, four adult males charged the old female, dragging, slapping, stomping on her, picking her up and hurling her to the ground, pounding her until she collapsed and lay inert. She managed to crawl away that day, only to die five days later. The assault on Madam Bee, incidentally, was watched by the adolescent Goblin and four Kasekela females, including Little Bee, who had become associated with Kasekela by then. Four months after Madam Bee was killed, her younger daughter, Honey flee, also transferred to Kasekela.

By the end of 1977 Kahama was no more.
The truth of this world is that the darkness is real. But the light is also real. Both joy and murder exist. In every second of your life, either one can reach out to touch you.

You must be prepared for either, at every moment. The best kind of man will be prepared for both.

It is not wrong to play with grizzlies: it is glorious. Yet you must be prepared to deal with them when they have done with playing. If you are going to live boldly, you must love to swim in clear water, yet not fear to bathe in blood.

This will not save you, for death is the one certainty. Yet it might let you live wisely and well, and defend for a while the things that you love.

And it may be that, after you are gone, men will remember.
Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead.
The road of the hero leads only to the grave. Yes, that is true.

Show me the road that leads elsewhere.


2nd Lt. James J. Cathey:

Longtime readers will know that Grim's Hall's adopted unit -- because of JarHeadDad, whose son "da Grunt" belongs to it -- is the 2/2 Marines. I regret to report the death of one of 2/2's officers, Lieutenant Cathey. The DOD press release is here.


Speaking Of...

...Marine "Special Forces," has an interesting interview on the possibility that the USMC may finally send some Marines to work with SOCOM. "Special Operations Capable" is not a new concept for the Corps -- it has whole MEUs that are rated for special ops -- but working with SOCOM is something that the Corps has long resisted. The interview is insightful as to why, and covers some developments that have arisen in the terror war.

Good work

A Report from Abroad:

Here's an AP report by press writer Pauline Jasudason.

Malaysian marine police seized a ship, believed to have been stolen three years ago, in a nighttime operation that ended with commandos rappelling up its side and detaining 20 Chinese crew members, an official said Wednesday.

The police tracked MV Paulijing for 17 hours before boarding the ship off Malaysia's southern Kukup island in the Straits of Malacca before dawn Tuesday, Marine Police Cmdr. Abdul Rahman Ahmad said.

He said police received information that the vessel, which had passed through the central Malaysian port of Klang Monday morning, closely resembled cargo ship MV Natris that was hijacked near Indonesia's Batam island in November 2002.

A patrol boat went up to the ship and ordered the vessel to stop, but the captain ignored the command. Instead of chasing the ship and taking action in the busy waterway, police told officers in Johor, where the ship was headed, to intercept it, he said.

"We could not chase or force them to stop because in that crowded, busy port, that could have endangered other vessels," he said. "So we laid our plans, flew in our special forces south to Johor and waited for the ship there."

Abdul Rahmad said 45 marine special forces and police commandos in four patrol boats surrounded the ship off Johor at 3.15 a.m. Tuesday, before it could enter the waters of neighboring Singapore.

Twelve officers boarded the moving vessel, and the crew surrendered without a fight, Abdul Rahman said.

The captain and mates, all Chinese national aged between 20 and 45 years, were being investigated for the possession of a stolen vessel. Abdul Rahman said authorities are yet to confirm that the ship - carrying soybeans and vinegar and heading from India to Vietnam - is the stolen MV Natris, registered in Panama.

"The verification is in progress, it will take a few days to confirm," he said.

The police were tipped off by the International Maritime Bureau, a watchdog that had been monitoring the vessel for nearly six months, said Noel Choong, head of the Bureau's piracy watch center in Kuala Lumpur.
We shall see if these "marine special forces" were right or not to apprehend this vessel. But what really strikes me about the article is how they can rappel up the side of a ship! These Malaysian commandos are good!


Law Quotes:

I'm sorry for the slow posting today and yesterday, but there has been quite a bit of "business" my way the last little while. To make it up to you, I offer some truly hilarious quotes from America's courts. My favorite one is the one that begins, "Now, doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep..."



Propaganda Wars:

I guess this is understandable, but I have to laugh at the foolishness:

An al-Qaeda linked-group has launched what it calls a media jihad, or holy war, to "terrorise" United States-led forces in Iraq and their families by bombarding them with e-mails and by posting gruesome photos online.
You carry on with this, if you dare. Here you will find men just like you. "Not a businessman after all. Just a man. An ancient race... The future doesn't matter to us."

UPDATE: The above was edited for clarity, but I have also some additional remarks.

On re-reading this post many hours later, I realize it may not be clear to people who haven't recently watched Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. The movie is about a woman who inherits, because her new husband and his family are murdered, a plot of land that appears to be without value. It turns out, however, that it is sitting on the only ground in a patch of Arizona which has enough water to handle steam trains -- and the railroad line is coming.

As a consequence, a businessman named Morton had hired a terrorist named Frank to run off the family. Frank, it being his nature, found it easier to kill them ("People scare better when they're dyin'," he says. Firefly fans will recognize that a far gentler form of the sentiment was on display in Jayne Cobb: "Pain is scary.")

The two villians of the movie are symbolic, Frank of what Leone saw as the bad Old West, and Morton of what Leone saw as the bad New West. Morton is a businessman, and Frank thinks he wants to be one too -- rich, powerful, and cold hearted. The time of Franks is almost over, and he thinks he can become a Morton. In fact, he cannot. When he attempts to doublecross Morton, Morton bribes the members of Frank's gang to turn coats. Frank would have been killed in the ensuing ambush, except for the intervention of the movie's protagonist, a mysterious gunfighter who wants to kill Frank himself.

Morton is himself destroyed by his use of Frank. Frank's terrorist tactics include the use of false flags, by which he attempts to blame a famous local outlaw gang for the murders of the family. That gang, when it learns of the identity of the real killers, descends on Morton's encampment and wipes out everyone. It is their form of justice.

These are forces which are at work, which are bigger than and stronger than the villians. The bad actors bring on their own destruction, not from the legal system, but from each other. Frank is killed by the mysterious gunfighter, who turns out to be the brother of one of his victims. Morton is killed by the outlaws. The leader of the outlaws, himself, later dies from wounds he suffers in the fight. At last, all the violence spins itself out, and what remains are only the folk who wanted to build and run a railroad.

Of course, some of them are also outlaws -- members of that same bandit gang, who are put to work. They can have a new future in the world of honest work. They can make the transition to the new economy and way of life that comes with the railroad.

But not the gunfighter, who must simply ride off. "The future doesn't matter to us," he tells Frank before they shoot it out. What he has come to do is bring justice: to make sure the widow has her land and profits from it, to make sure that Frank gets what is coming to him. When that is done, he leaves. He does not care for the new world, or the old one. There is nothing in it for him.

There are many parallels between the movie and the current war, one in which we are also trying to bring justice to a barren place by building it, not just a railroad but a whole economy. We are also facing the violence of bad men, who turn on each other in their attempts to come out atop the situation.

It remains to be seen if the engine of progress will be strong enough to pull through the situation, letting the violence spin out around it without -- to extend the metaphor -- coming off the rails. It very well may; I think, in fact, that it will. I think it is likely that many of those Sunni tribal fighters will find themselves pulled into the new economy as they find that they have a stake in it.

There are also men like Frank -- hardened, terrorist killers who finally don't really care about the economics. They are not businessmen, not even in the business of insurgency. They do not want and will not be satisfied with a statelet; unlike most successful insurgent movements, they have no goals which might be granted them in negotiations. There is no "West Bank" to give them. They do not want territory, or wealth, or power over some piece of land. Like Frank, they can't get over "the fact that you're out there," and therefore they have no future. They must fight until they die.

In doing so, they are creating their own enemies. We have often heard it said that American policy is creating terrorists, but few reflect on the degree to which terrorist "policy" is creating anti-terrorists. When you kill a man and torment his family -- as they mean to do, with both American and Iraqi families -- some of those families will come back to haunt you. Not only their blood kin will come, but their families as extended through nationalism or patriotism.

The future won't matter to those men, either. They will only be thinking of you.


A Samurai Epic:

So is described the upcoming Japanese elections, in the Asia Times. The author compares current prime minister Koizumi to one of Japan's most famous samurai, apparently a role model of Koizumi's from an early age.

It's an interesting piece, full of haiku, history, and colorful language. Of course, Koizumi's moves are only "just like" these battles in a metaphoric sense: his 'burning down the temple' will not kill thousands of innocents, and his "assassins" are actually just candidates standing for office.

Still, good journalism can use imagery to make a point. If you wanted to know what the story is on these snap elections, this is a good and entertaining article to read.