Arthur in Baghdad

King Arthur in Baghdad:

Though not a Paladin, King Arthur was Charlemagne's chief competitor as a legendary symbol around whose court chivalric tales were told. I mention this because I was over at Camp Slayer today, and in the light of our discussion, I happened to notice their sign:

The flag is a detail from this tapestry of Arthur.

Of course, the Arthurian romances were just that -- "romances," by which Medievals meant, 'stories about adventures and times that were as great as Rome.' One mark of High Medieval civilization was that it self-consciously looked back to Rome, and tried to be like the Romans: you saw it in Charlemagne himself, and the "Holy Roman Empire," and the symbolism of the Church, and in kings like Edward I of England, and the popularity of Vegetius as a guide to how to run an army. In Arthur's case, he was given the Latin title Dux Bellorum very early.

In that sense, even a reference to Arthur is a reference to Rome; and one of the additions to the old Celtic Arthurian tales in the High Middle Ages was an Italian expedition to Rome itself. It's only in the 19th century that you begin to see Medievals as a rejection of Rome. You might say that the thing that made you a Medieval, rather than a barbarian, was the reference to Rome.

Here we see Arthur with pre-14th century Medieval heraldry, although the tapestry is modern.


In reading the page on Arthurian heraldry, I noticed this picture of Lancelot, whose arms -- argent three bends gules -- "have been stable since the 13th century" in the romances.

Here's the heraldry I see on every wall and every soldier:

I was given one of the "right sleeve" SSI patches recently by a Major here: a purely honorary gift, as I am not in the Army, but he said I'd been here more than long enough, and under (indirect, and poorly-aimed) fire often enough, to merit it in his opinion. I will certainly treasure it, and the sentiment that came with it. The Third Division heraldy is azure three bends sinister chief to dexter base argent.

Now if we could just get some round tables into the DFAC, everything would be in order.

Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box:

Let's watch this video:

Did you guess who this ad was for before the end? The New Republic and I, for once, had the same reaction.

The other fellow says he'll never use ads like this to win votes. But that is no sacrifice: he is self-evidently the weakest candidate on this score. Naturally he'd prefer not to discuss the question.

Althouse says she cried a real sob over the video, before "laughing" at herself.

Is this a laughing matter?

Who Love

Who Do You Love?

Foreign Policy asked a few thousand field-grade and general/flag officers, serving and retired, some questions:

When asked how much confidence they have in other U.S. government institutions and departments, the index’s officers report low levels of trust nearly across the board. For instance, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means the officers have a great deal of confidence in the department or institution and 1 means they have none, the officers put their level of confidence in the presidency at 5.5. Some 16 percent express no confidence at all in the president. The index’s officers gave the CIA an average confidence rating of 4.7 and the Department of State, 4.1. The Department of Veterans Affairs received a confidence rating of just 4.5 and the Department of Defense, 5.6. The officers say their level of confidence in the U.S. Congress is the lowest, at an average of just 2.7.
That's not so good. What might fix it?
Sixty-six percent of the officers say they believe America’s elected leaders are either somewhat or very uninformed about the U.S. military. How can the military’s perception of elected leaders be improved? In part, the officers say, by electing people who have served in uniform. Nearly 9 in 10 officers agree that, all other things being equal, the military will respect a president of the United States who has served in the military more than one who has not.
Probably wouldn't hurt for Congressfolk, either.

Si, Se Puedo

Yes, We Can!

Victory through mockery; at least, where mockery is deserved. InstaPundit:

INTERESTING NEW POLL: Pew: Majority now believe U.S. effort in Iraq will succeed, 53-39.

Yes we can!
Best of the Web:
So let's see if we have this straight. Al Qaeda in Iraq isn't worth fighting because it wouldn't be there if it weren't for Bush and McCain. Obama is going to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq to go fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although he will send them back to Iraq if al Qaeda are there, even though he now wants to withdraw notwithstanding al Qaeda's presence.

Yes, we can!
I suppose we can do a lot of things.

Respect / Honor

Respect & Honor:

From a fourteen year old, at that:

When I think of an American soldier, four words come to mind, Honor, Respect, Freedom and Valor.

Your story is filled with Honor and Respect. Honor for our country and all we hold dear. These brave men and women risk their lives to honor this great nation. All of the service men and women show great respect for our flag and everything it stands for. With everything these wonderful people do, I don't think we show them the respect and honor they deserve in return. I can not think of a more honorable profession than to be a United States Soldier.
Nor can I. I could name a few that are not less honorable; but none that are more. Read the rest.
Prince Harry wins his spurs.

I'm sure Grim approves.

I want to know if he helps clean the .50.


On Mead:

Slate has an article on resurgent meads:

Judging by the prominence of honey these days, you'd think there's a run on sugar. Local, flavored honeys are now in restaurant kitchens.... But even more unexpected is the rise of honey for an ancient use: alcohol, in a drink known as mead. You might know mead from Beowulf[.]
In return for the link, I'm going to borrow Slate's graphic:

I expect Sly will be including it in future emails; in the meantime, it's rather cheerful.


Have Gun, Will Travel:

We recently had a side conversation on Rome v. the Middle Ages, and whether our modern age is more like one or the other. I was reflecting on that through the lens of our 155mm self-propelled howitzer, the Paladin, which provides the deep defense of our bases and, in my case, identifies for my comrades an important piece of my equipment, without which my contribution to the war would be even smaller than it is.

But what is a Paladin, properly speaking? The word has an interesting history, before it became the standard of Dungeons and Dragons.

The term paladin was first used in Ancient Rome for a chamberlain of the Emperor, and also for the imperial palace guard, called the Scholae Palatinae by Constantine. In the early Middle Ages, the meaning changed and the term was used for one of the highest officials of the Catholic Church in the pope's service and also for one of the major noblemen of the Holy Roman Empire, who was then named Count Palatine. Similar titles were also used in 19th century Hungary and in the German Empire and United Kingdom during the early 20th century.

In medieval literature, the paladins or Twelve Peers were known in the Matter of France as the retainers of Charlemagne. Based on this usage, the term can also refer to an honorable knight, which has been used in contemporary fantasy literature.
One of the Medieval usages is interesting, because it pertains to the swearing of oaths.
From the Middle Ages on, the term palatine was applied to various different officials across Europe. The most important of these was the comes palatinus, the count palatine, who in Merovingian and Carolingian times (5th through 10th century) was an official of the sovereign's household, in particular of his court of law. The count palatine was the official representative at proceedings of the court such as oath takings or judicial sentences and was in charge of the records of those developments.
The other night I attended a re-enlistment ceremony at the Al Faw Palace. Hundreds of soldiers, assembled together under the heraldry of the Third Division, swore an oath of loyalty and common defense. Three Silver Stars and several Purple Hearts were awarded to some of these men, as were Bronze Stars. It was hard not to hear those oaths sworn in that setting, and not reflect on the belting of swords, in a castle carried by conquest.

This is the nature of echoes: you hear the sound, and its echo, and the echo of the echo, each of the latter distorted slightly by whatever surface it struck. We live as if in a canyon, where the sounds of old return again and again until the whole world seems to tremble.

Mr. Buckley

Goodnight, Mr. Buckley:

There were two things I admired greatly about William F. Buckley, Jr. The first was that he could cut to the bone of a problem in one swipe. The second was that he wrote Latin into his work without explanation or apology. With a little phrase in italics, he would tie an issue of the day to two thousand years' tradition -- and send many a reader to learn a little bit more about just what that tradition contained.

He did this so frequently that he was asked to write the introduction for a book of useful Latin phrases, Amo, Amas, Amat and More. In it he lamented, as Tolkien did, the abandonment of Latin by common education; and increasingly, even by priests and doctors. The common language is now English, of course, and English is as noble and its history even more interesting -- but there is yet a power to the Latin, which was spoken by Caesars and saints, and sung by soldiers and merry scholars alike.

We may have to use it more here, if only to provide some small mortar to the foundations of the West.

Of course National Review has numerous words, but they are not alone. Reason magazine pays tribute as libertarians, and Cassandra as well.


The Pacific Command:

Pacific, in both senses of the term. NPR interviews CDRUSPACOM, Admiral Timothy Keating.

Saudi Harems

The Mandate of Heaven:

God, and the Tourist Board, need you to marry. Lots.

Here’s an official plan submitted to invigorate tourism in Saudi Arabia: Marry four women, domicile them in corners of the kingdom, travel to visit each during the year, and — boom — you’ve stimulated airline business, hotel occupancy, and car rentals. This was submitted by none less than Hassan Alomair, director of self-development in Saudi Arabia, at a Jeddah conference for the development of internal tourism.

The project combines piety with efficacy by uniting Sharia’s entitlements to multiple wives with economic stimulus, Mr. Alomair argued. Sharing the dais was the female dean of the school of literature at King Faisal University, Dr. Feryal al-Hajeri, who remained silent as he prescribed his harem-induced economic scheming.

Not so with the readers and bloggers on the Saudi daily Al Watan’s website, which lit up on February 12 with commentary. “Why not make it four cows? He can fly around to milk them,” one said. “If that is the mentality of our director of self-development,” another asked, ”how are the others in that department?” There was plenty of accord with Mr. Alomair too. Some saw his idea as a “pillar” for building a true Islamic society, a “refuge” for unmarried Saudi women, and a “cure” for a widening spinster phenomena.
Saudi Arabia: as always, out on the forefront of social experimentation.
Oliver Twisted.

LT G among the urchins. One of his men may end up acting the part of Mr. Brownlow.
And it starts.

Killadelphia is the city of brotherly love after all.

(via American Digest)

Crowds Iran

The Wisdom of Crowds:

In Iran, at least, the people are more decent than the law.

It happens every day on the streets of Tehran: a police squad grabbed a young woman for dressing immodestly. But this time, the young woman fought back: and a crowd defended her and attacked the police.
As well they ought.


"Who Among You Will Not Embrace Emptiness?"

Obama has a signal advantage, that is also a signal problem: he is empty. He is the first Presidential candidate to attempt, successfully so far, the strategy that is now usual in getting a Supreme Court Justice approved. He is a stealth candidate.

It is fairly clear that his rhetoric, lofty but without specifics, is serving as a vessel. Many are pouring their hopes into that vessel, imagining it to be full of whatever they want it to contain. Other people are pouring in their fears.

Hillary Clinton has started to try and force his hand by pushing several lines of attack; this is the wrong approach. It will not work because (a) voters, as a whole, cannot and will not follow several lines of attack at once; and (b) it will therefore be easy for him to simply step aside of the arguments, not respond to them, and carry on giving speeches about Hope and Brotherhood.

A vicious, but strategically sounder, approach is to pour just one very bad thing into the vessel, to see if he spits it out. If he does not, he owns it and -- it being the one thing people can now know about him -- it can destroy him; if he does, then you have at least forced him onto the record, and can press him to define just what he does believe if it isn't what you suggest. Getting further and further details from him, you can tie the debate down to actual facts, rather than empty rhetoric.

This appears to be the approach his political opponents from the right have settled upon. The attacks against Obama are in one sense absurd to the point of being offensive. Yet, in another sense they seem perfectly fair: if he is to have the good of being unknown and undefined, he must also have the bad. If he does not want to be defined by his opponent, he can tell us for certain who he is.

Is this Obama?

Or is this?

Or is neither? Are both costumes, as seems likely? Then who is he really?

I don't mean to be vicious; I read Richardson's anecdote also.

But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"
More than anything, that leads me to believe that Obama is probably a pretty decent guy, deep down. The flag-pin thing is silly. His mother clearly was a Communist; that doesn't make him, as Spengler put it, "a mother's revenge against the America she despised."

His wife has a lot of rage against America; that doesn't mean he does. My wife and I disagree about a few things, even a few fairly basic ethical issues (like the morality of suicide). Obama's wife and mother don't necessarily define him.

But I would like to know what does. If he is going to be President, as is not unlikely -- the field has narrowed quite a bit of late -- we need to know, and now, not next January.

For Cricket

The Wisdom of an Attorney:

Cricket asked if we'd like her to drop in and share some things from an attorney, who wrote a book called "The Moral Basis of a Free Society." This post is to permit a space for that discussion.

Canterbury Map

A Map to Canterbury:

Since we were talking about Chaucer a few days ago, and apropos of a discussion at Cass' place, here is an interactive map by a very clever undergraduate student of English lit. It shows where in the journey each of the tales would have been told, provides a short summary of the tale, and the names and backgrounds of the characters involved.


Pledge Pin

"A Pledge Pin? On your Uniform??"

Mr. Juan Cole finds a few people who seem to think a pledge pin is a uniform. H/t Commie.