CATEGORY: WarSecurity

The human detritus of war

After the U.S. Civil War, the violence didn’t stop. Numerous gangs of bandits continued to fight on for almost thirty years after the war was officially over. The most famous of course was the James-Younger Gang, but there were also the Daltons and the Doolins, Henry Berry Lowrie and the Swamp Outlaws in North Carolina, the Baldknobbers in Arkansas and the Klan. Some of these are purely for-profit initiatives, but as often as not, they have a political bent. They are, along with the maimed, widowed and orphaned, and dislocated and impoverished, the human detritus of war.

Some wars produce more. The Hundred Years War in Europe produced so many companies of bandits that various popes proposed Crusades in an attempt to siphon them off into hopefully deadly wars, just as the French would later enlist SS into the Foreign Legion after WWII and sent them to Indochina. Others produce only a few. The Vietnam War contributed a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Gulf War Timothy McVeigh. Sometimes so many are produced that they destroy entire countries, as the Liberia Civil War ended up ravaging Sierra Leone.

Regardless of nuance, the basic formula is the same. Angry young men, trained in the art of war, who come back disaffected and often with limited prospects. So they do what they know how to do—blow shit up and kill people.

Now we’re seeing the same thing in the recent wave of terrorism. New York, Madrid, London, Mumbai, Boston, and now Paris, again. We don’t know all the details yet, but what we do know suggests military grade weapons handled with military-level expertise in a military-like operation.

It’s not really about Islam or a reaction to the devastation created by the foolish adventuring of the Bushes and Cheney. It’s much simpler than that. They’re young, impassioned, angry and deadly and there are simply too many of them.


ArtSunday: LIterature

Shelley got expelled from Oxford…now we know why….

A little over two hundred years ago a college student named P.B. Shelley got himself expelled from Oxford. Now, at last, we know exactly why.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, war protester (image courtesy Wikimedia)

The Bodleian Library at Oxford has made available a recently discovered copy of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Poetical Essay on the State of Things.” Long thought lost, the poem, along with his essay “The Necessity of Atheism,” got the most intellectual of the Romantic poets expelled from Oxford.

The story of Shelley’s expulsion from university and his subsequent life as poet, free thinker, friend of both Keats and Byron, and political activist are well known and do not need further rehearsal. At this moment, given the horror of the recent attacks in Paris that we’re trying to comprehend, it seems particularly fitting to ponder Shelley’s arguments.  Continue reading


Je suis Paris: the terrorists lose

There is no place on earth where the darkness can overcome the light. Do not be afraid. #todossomosparis

Image courtesy of

Mes frères et soeurs,

They attack us because they fear our strength. We are far stronger than they. Their fortress is only shadows and confusion. Our stronghold is reason, the will of a free people. We will withstand this assault and every assault they attempt. They already know this. That is why they hide, and why they prefer to kill themselves rather than to stand before us and face the light of justice.

I must make a most difficult request of you tonight. Forgive them. They are already condemned to carry the burden of their crimes forever. Every God-fearing person with a rational mind is praying for their souls already, and for peace, because these killers have done great damage both to their own humanity and to the hope for a lasting peace among all mankind, which is our common goal. They have chosen the path of destruction. We must not follow them down that path.

The only thing that can overcome terror is love. Like a soldier who runs toward a suicide bomber to save his brothers and sisters, we must run toward this danger with open arms, embracing our enemy, dooming his strategy and his ideology, eliminating the perceived distance between himself and us. We must hold each other close, every free person, every Christian, every Muslim, all of France, all of America. We must prove them wrong about us. God has given us reason. No one can steal it from us. If we do not surrender it, the terrorists lose.

Yes we killed Jihadi John. He was a war criminal luring innocent Muslim children to their deaths or to slavery. He created the state of war in which he was killed. Who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. These killers in Paris are war criminals. Their accomplices are war criminals. They will share Jihadi John’s fate. They will not be allowed to turn us aside from the straight and narrow path of reason. We will never surrender. Continue reading

Online Dating

Online dating tips for women: how to write a winning profile

New scientific analysis provides insights for women seeking Mr. Right. Works for OK Cupid, eHarmony, Zoosk, Tindr, Christian Mingle and Plenty of Fish, too.

I’ve seen a lot of women’s dating profiles over the past five years. Thousands of them, literally. And I’ve had plenty of conversations with other online daters, men and women alike, as I have sought to better understand this fascinating new (well, relatively new) mode of social interaction.

In the process I have noted a broad range of patterns and tendencies and have come to a highly scientific understanding of what works. Ladies, follow these simple steps and you’ll be reaping the rewards of your successful new dating profile in no time at all.

1: Always – always always ALWAYS – use the word adventure.  Continue reading

Fall in Colorado: it’s been glorious

Monarch Pass, Colorado

Monarch Pass, Colorado

I love almost everything about Colorado. Almost. Sadly, the climate here tends to have very short transitional seasons, and like a lot of people who grew up in my neck of the woods (NC), my favorites times of year have always been fall and spring. I took the long, moderate, invigorating equinox seasons for granted, I guess. Continue reading

Miley Cyrus VMAs

Is this what our culture has come to?

Miley Cyrus VMAsMiley Cyrus is a Girl Scout compared to Wendy O. Williams, whose performances were getting her arrested for lewd conduct 30 years ago.

Three faculty colleagues and I spoke informally last week at a lunchtime program for people who work at the university but don’t teach. They invited us to talk about what it’s like to host a weekly show on the university’s student-run radio station.

One of the speakers is in his early ’70s, I would guess. He’s a good guy: cordial and well traveled, with deep knowledge about a wide range of topics. He began by saying he had seen a clip from an MTV music awards special that showed Miley Cyrus being her faux outrageous, self-promoting self.

“Is this what our culture has come to?” he asked earnestly. Continue reading