"A Cub in the Yard, a Comfort sent by Heaven"

The title of this post is a line from the Haney translation of the Beowulf.

Heh - Hill 44

How many Feminists does it take to change a Lightbulb?

I was reminded of the old joke when I ran across the all-pink site HillaryIs44.org, a webside devoted to her quest for the Presidency. Now, you'll recall that I endorsed her in the Primary, but leaving that aside, it appears she isn't doing too well in the polls just now. What do the folks at Hill44 say about that?

[D]uring the many times Hillary Clinton has been unfairly attacked by Big Media, Democrats supporting Obama have rejoiced. That treachery by Democrats and allies will never be forgotten.
This, of course, is a large part of why she is doing so poorly. It's not that Hillary and her staunchest supporters are all hateful, nasty people bent on vengeance; but they sure give that impression sometimes. It's hard not to want to vote for Mr. Sweetness-N-Light by comparison; at least you don't fear he'd have you shot the minute you disagreed about something. The impression that Hillary might is not undone by the fact that one of their categories for posts, along with "Edwards" and "Health Care," is "Scum".

Of course, there's another reason. On the sidebar, they have a link called "Why Hillary?" and another called "Why not Obama?" Here's what that latter page says:
Coming Soon

This page is under development and will be uploaded soon.

It better be pretty soon. :)
Home is where the heart is. Or something like that.

LT G makes a pit stop and goes. Back. Out. There.

Things aren’t right here, anymore. Or maybe we’re the ones who aren’t right, anymore. I don’t know. Either way, it’s time to go. Time to go back out there. Where the Wild Things Are. Where the paranoia is justified. Where we now know comfort. Where we ride and die and die to ride and ride to die like every scout before us intent on making his way home or making his way to Fiddler’s Green, and no other options exist. Where we fixate on an edge we can’t describe or even prove exists, but feel every time we leave the wire because it sends our senses spinning into a poisonous clarity only the transcendent and reckless drug addicts should ever have to comprehend. We don’t do it for the thrills, though. And we don’t do it for our country, either. Not like we thought we would. We do it because we’re doing it and it seems like we’ve always been doing it so we will continue to do it for the same reason. Only the simplicity of that statement matters. We continue our movement back out there. Where we belong.

Way to channel Paul Baumer. I think I'm beginning to worry about the LT. Well, at least his mom knows what's on his mind. I guess that's something.


Control of the Highest:

Two articles from Arts & Letters Daily today, each in its way on a defense of the heavens.

The first holds against space-based weapons, in the wake of this week's satellite shootdown. They argue at length, but the argument is undone by the very quote from Sun Tzu they themselves provide:

In war, do not launch an ascending attack head-on against the enemy who holds the high ground. Do not engage the enemy when he makes a descending attack from high ground. Lure him to level ground to do battle.
—Sun Tzu, Chinese military strategist, The Art of War, circa 500 B.C.
It will done because it must be done; war will not end, yet the advantage to be had here is one that could stop a war. It could perhaps stop many, as the US Navy has stopped many by ensuring the freedom of the seas so that smaller nations need not fight each other for their commerce; as the US Army has sat through sixty years of peace in the lands around its bases in Germany. Si vis pacem, para bellum.

The other article is on the Crusades. I think often of the Crusades here, in the land of minarets and fortifications, sandstorms and military-issue Bibles. In the scant spare time I have, I am rereading Ivanhoe.

Apparently I'm not the only one to think of it. Unfortunately, not everyone sees clearly where the parallels stop. In the interest of seeing the lessons of history properly learned, I will reprint a section of this critique by Roger Sandall at length.
Hitchens however regards the opportunity as too good to pass up, and on page 35 drags the Iraq War into the argument. The gist being that there’s nothing to choose between Christians and jihadis, and that the modern atrocities of the latter could be seen as a delayed but appropriate response to “the bloodstained spectre of the Crusaders”.

This attitude is widespread. Moreover, as Paul Stenhouse points out in a valuable recent study, “The Crusades in Context”, Hitchens’ “bloodstained spectre” is absurdly seen as the result of unprovoked Christian aggression. It is claimed that “five centuries of peaceful co-existence” between Muslims and Christians were brought to an end by deranged sword-waving Soldiers of the Cross, terrorising, killing, burning and sacking decent, respectable, peace-loving Muslim communities.

More than this, the Crusaders are being presented in schools as the original terrorists. As a Year 8 textbook in the Australian state of Victoria has it: “Those who destroyed the World Trade Centre are regarded as terrorists … Might it be fair to say that the Crusaders who attacked the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem were also terrorists?”

No it wouldn’t be fair. Nor would it be true. In the story Paul Stenhouse tells, the 463 years between the death of Muhammed in 632 AD, and the First Crusade in 1095, were extremely dangerous for Christian Europe. Instead of peace there were unrelenting Islamic wars and incursions; Muslim invasions of Spain, Italy, Sicily and Sardinia; raids, seizures, looting of treasure, military occupations that lasted until Saracen forces were forcibly dislodged, sackings of Christian cities including Rome, and desecrations of Christian shrines. And be it noted: all this went on for 463 years before any Christian Crusade in response to these murderous provocations took place.

Sixteen years after the death of Muhammed, in 648 AD, Cyprus was overrun. Rhodes fell in 653, and by 698 AD the whole of North Africa was lost. In 711 Muslims from Tangier crossed into Spain, set their sights on France, and by 720 AD Narbonne had fallen. Bordeaux was stormed and its churches burnt in 732. As Gibbon emphasised, only the resistance at Poitiers of Charles Martel in 732 saved Europe from occupation, and arrested the Muslim tide.

From 800 on, incursions into Italy began. In 846 a Saracen force of 10,000 landed in Ostia, assaulted Rome, and sacked and desecrated the Basilicas of St Peter and St Paul. In 859 they seized the whole of Sicily. After capturing a fortress near Anzio, Muslim forces “plundered the surrounding countryside for forty years”. In southern France at the end of the ninth century they held a base near Toulon from which they ravaged both Provence and Northern Italy, and controlled the passes over the Alps, robbing and murdering pilgrims on their way to Rome. Genoa was attacked in 934 and taken in 935. In 1015 Sardinia was taken, occupied, and held my Muslim forces until 1050.

In 1076 the Seljuk Turkish capture of Jerusalem finally exhausted the patience of Islam’s victims in Christian Europe. Only then were concerted moves begun to drive back the infidel, launch the First Crusade, and retake Jerusalem.
In fact, even that was not enough. It was the envoys from Constantinople -- the second Rome, the capital of Constantine the Great. In 1095, the Turks had advanced into the lands controlled by Constantinople, and the city sent to its sister Rome for help.

Rome agreed, and asked for men to ride to her defense, and to begin to push back against these incursions. So they left their homes, knights and barons, and went instead to war in distant lands.

Were they right? The folk of their day, like our own, were divided. Even good hearted men of the cloth sometimes could not see the purpose.
"What took the honest knight from home? or what could he expect but to find his mistress agreeably engaged with a rival on his return, and his serenade, as they call it, as little regarded as the caterwauling of a cat in the gutter? Nevertheless, Sir Knight, I drink this cup to thee, to the success of all true lovers."
Others saw further; whether they saw clearly is a debate that could fill many books.

UN: Disappear!

UN sez: Disappear!

You've probably seen the story from InstaPundit. This is a genuinely bad idea that people in power get from time to time. It says more about the UN and Google than it does about the journalist.

Mounting a Camel

Todays Iraq Tip of the Day: How to Mount a Camel

I haven't tried this method myself, but I can't see anything wrong with it:

Brain power

How do you Feel?

FuturePundit had an interesting piece yesterday, which goes back to our theoretical debate about what pills you might take to deal with your spouse having an affair. There may be one, he suggests:

What does the future hold for love? Greater knowledge of a phenomenon very often brings with it the ability to manipulate and control it. I expect the development of drugs and other treatments that cause people to fall in and out of love and to recover more easily from lost love.

Some people will choose to immunize themselves from love by using treatments that prevent the love process from developing in the first place. A person with history of heart breaks might decide that the possibility of a new love is just too painful to bear. Or someone who wants to devote their time to career might decide to innoculate themselves from the risk of romantic distractions. Still others of a more cerebral sort will decide that love is just a costly cognition distorting evolutionary vestige that they are best off without.

The ability to manipulate love medically will inevitably lead to misuse via surreptious reprogramming of the love state of others. Someone who wants to ditch their mate will be tempted to surreptitiously deliver medicine that will cause the mate to fall out of love. Or imagine the case where a suitor is rejected because the object of their love is in love with someone else. Inevitably some suitors will look for ways to surreptiously deliver a medical treatment that will cause the object of their love to fall out of love with someone else and thereby open up the possibility of forming a new love bond with them.
But why fight for love anyway? Only because you're wired too, the studies suggest -- you're almost doomed to a long, miserable slide:
Psychologists studying relationships confirm the steady decline of romantic love. Each year, according to surveys, the average couple loses a little spark. One sociological study of marital satisfaction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Penn State University kept track of more than 2,000 married people over 17 years. Average marital happiness fell sharply in the first 10 years, then entered a slow decline.
Think about all those people becoming steadily less satisfied with each other. The outcomes of natural selection are cruel.
For a certain few people, however, love can last:
Brain scans show the perpetually in love as different than the masses. Those people in long term relationships who profess to still feel very excited about their partners have more intense brain activity in the ventral tegmental area of the brain just like the newly fallen in love do.
Days after Mrs. Tucker's brain scan, Dr. Brown, the neuroscientist, sat in her book-lined office looking at the results. "Wow, just wow," she recalls thinking. Mrs. Tucker's brain reacted to her husband's photo with a frenzy of activity in the ventral tegmental area. "I was shocked," Dr. Brown says.

The brain scan confirmed what Mrs. Tucker said all along. But when she learned the result, she too was a bit surprised. "It's not something I expected after 11 years," she says. "But having it, it's like a gift."

The scan also showed a strong reaction in Mrs. Tucker's ventral pallidum, an area suspected from vole studies to have links with long-term bonds. Mrs. Tucker apparently enjoyed old love and new. In the months since, Dr. Brown analyzed data from four more people, including Ms. Jordan, who also showed brain activity associated with new love. The study is ongoing, and more volunteers are being sought.
Now, what all this means to FuturePundit is that you can save marriage with a pill -- in theory, you can make everyone experience the continuous love that now only a few know.

What is interesting to me, though, is how counterintuitive the findings are. I don't mean counterintuitive only to me -- that is, "not what I'd expect." I mean, counterintuitive to everyone.

For me, it seems odd that the vast majority of marriages experience a sharp drop in happiness over the first ten years. For others, love isn't what it is for me. They and I use the same word, but we don't experience the same thing at all. Yet the science bears it out.

For the others, the concept that you could continue to love someone forever was the counterintuitive part -- but again, the science bears it out. What is genuinely unimaginable for most is simple truth for some.

I can honestly say that anyone I've ever loved, I still love. That's apparently extremely unusual, which I would not have expected. By the same token, others whose brains work the normal way find that they couldn't imagine the way I feel at all. To the psychologists and neuroscientists running the study, such things are -- their words -- shocking.

The thing to remember about all this? If you say to someone, "How do you feel?" and they answer, "I am in love," you still don't know how they feel. They use the same word you do; but the word alone won't tell you. You have to see them ride the river a while to know for sure.

District work period

Happy President's Day:

Hope you had a good holiday, or if you prefer, "district work period."