November 30, 2004

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to remind all of his loyal minions that today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of your Maximum Leader's great hero. Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born this day (St. Andrew's Day in fact - St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland) in 1874 at Blenheim Palace.

Churchill's life is one of the most interesting lives of modern times. It is filled with glorious triumphs and equally disastrous failures. But through it all Churchill "kept buggering on."

Your Maximum Leader shudders to think where this world would be today were it not for Churchill taking the wheel of the ship of state in Britain in World War Two. For those who would dismiss Churchill's role in keeping Britain in the war, your Maximum Leader will commend to you John Lukac's fantastic book "Five Days in London: May 1940."

Inside the front door to the nave at Westminster Abbey there is a plaque on the floor a few feet from the poppy-lined memorial plaque dedicated to Britain's war dead of the Great War. The plaque reads "Remember Winston Churchill."

And we all should today.

Carry on.

Update: Your Maximum Leader thought it incumbent on him to beef up this post and make it worth of the great man.

If you've never been, visit the site of the Churchill Centre. It is a great resource.

If you are into the faddish (if that is a word derived from fad) trend of short biographies, then you want to read John Keegan's Churchill biography he wrote for the Penguin Lives series. It is the best short biography of Churchill.

If you want to "get a feel" for Churchill and don't want to commit yourself to the 208 pages of the Keegan work... Well if you can't bring yourself to read 208 pages you need help. But in case you need help and want to "get a feel" for Churchill; go to your public libarary (or Borders Book Shop) and get William Manchester's "The Last Lion: Alone." Then sit down and read the first 30-odd pages of the book. The chapter is entitled, "Chartwell, 1932." It is worth your time.

If you are visually stimulated and want to see a great depection of Churchill on film. Rent (or better yet - buy) "The Gathering Storm" with Albert Finney. The bit about Ralph Wigram may be a bit over dramatised, but it is a movie.

Of course, if you are a true Churchill fan (like your Maximum Leader) you need to read the works of the great man himself. Any of them will do. (He did win a Nobel Prize for Literature afterall.) Don't read an edited work containing bits of speeches, articles, and sundries. Get his 6 volumes on World War Two. Or his 4 volumes on World War One. Read those.

Or listen to Churchill's wartime speeches.

In closing, you should do something to remember the man whom your Maximum Leader thinks is the seminal figure in the 20th Century, and without whom we would be living in a world made dark by the perversions of Nazism.

Carry on.

November 29, 2004

Hello. I'm Ellen James

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read with some sadness this article on the Reuters news wire: Plath's Daughter Pleads: Let Her Rest in Peace.

The article reminds your Maximum Leader of one of his favourite books, "The World According to Garp." And how TS Garp has to try to live with his mother's legacy. And there is probably some tangential connection your Maximum Leader could make between the Plath-hangers-on and the Ellen Jamesians...

Carry on.

Grazing Dairy

Producing milk on pasture is better for the farmer, better for the environment, produces healthier milk, solves the problem of overproduction and manure management , and is MUCH more humane for the cows.

We need more dairies like this.

Don't Let the Doorknob...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader waves his hand from the Villainschloss balcony and bids that the doorknob hit John Edwards on the arse as he winds down his absentee Senate career with a Farewell Tour of North Carolina.

Your Maximum Leader is sure that John and his fabulous hair will rebound quickly. Perhaps he'll get back into medical malpractice and sue some drug companies for some reason.

Carry on.

Cooler DVDs

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a number of dual sided DVDs in his collection. (The Man Who Would Be King is the first that leaps to his mind.) And they are always a pain. You have to be careful which side you put in. They are hard to read, since the text describing the disk is printed in a very small font and only on the clear inner ring fo the disk (where it is easily obstructed by fingers and such). So it is with great anticipation that he reads that a firm has introduced a text-friendly coating for 2-sided DVDs (and CDs). Very cool.

And he has also been reading about all this DVD-HD stuff too. He supposes that soon he'll have to buy a new DVD player too. And a new Hi-Fi to plug all this stuff into. Damn.

Carry on.

Rough Weekend at Sweet Seasons Farm

As many of our readers know, the Minister of Agriculture is an organic farmer.

One way that I use to control weeds and brambles in the pasture without spraying chemicals is multi-species grazing. The sheep eat broom straw and I have a goat that tackles the brambles in the fenceline. The organic control seems to be working rather well. I don't have enough sheep to totally handle the broom straw, but the flock will expand over time.

But the goat.

He's a pain.

He is too smart for his own good. He figured out, by watching me, how to open the barn door. On Thanksgiving morning, he popped open the doors, strolled into the barn, and overturned the bins of grain I had for the chickens and my lactating ewe. Bonnie followed him in. And ate a whole bunch of grain.

Grain is not good for cattle. Their rumens are designed to process grass. The bacteria that live in their stomachs break down grass into digestible bits. Given time, and a slow introduction of grain, the bacteria population in cattle stomachs can adjust to digesting grain as a raw material. But, in anything but small quantities, the animal will always be uncomfortable on a high grain diet (kind of like humans who subsist entirely on junk food - it may feel good, they will put on weight, but they will feel lousy). This is a major reason why I raise grass-fed beef. Force-fed grained animals live their lives in constant stomach pain as the grain causes the acid levels of their stomachs to rise - acidosis.

So Bonnie, who does not eat grain, gorged herself. And suffered from lactic acidosis. It was a mild case, but she was clearly unhappy - walking stiff-legged, holding her tail up and out, squirting diarrhea, and laying about moodily.

I had to give her a caulking gun (literally - I used a caulking gun) full of a charcoal solution to neutralize the acid in her stomach, inject 9 ccs of nitrogen into her neck muscle, and feed her a bacteria paste to replace the rumen bacteria killed by the acid conditions. She was not a happy camper. I can't imagine how people whose animals are wild are able to treat their cattle. Bonnie is like a big, 900-pound dog, but a 900-pound dog who doesn't want a caulking gun shoved into her throat is 900 pounds.

She seems a bit better, but is still not back to her old self. I really hope that she didn't loose her pregnancy. The vet is coming for a follow-up next week.

Cross your fingers.

This Explains Everything

Right-thinking fellow travelers often ask how I can remain friends with the Maximum Leader despite our innumerable political disagreements.

The answer is simple.

Whenever we disagree and I'm tempted to be annoyed at the ML, I remember Hanlon's Razor.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Amazing. Your Maximum Leader was quoting Hanlon's Razor just over the weekend. Even more amazing is how humble the Smallholder is in this post for not mentioning that he, not your Maximum Leader, is the stupid one.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE: Yes, oh great leader with purge power, that is exactly what I meant. (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more to our readers).

So They're Supposed To Look Like That.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would like to bring to your attention a flash off the AP news wire concerning Visa photographs. Yes, yes. Your Maximum Leader knows that there is trouble in the Ukraine. There are suicide bombers in Iraq. Julia Roberts (the whore) gave birth to twins. And General/President Musharrif is urging face-to-face talks on Kashmir with India. But he wants to focus on Visa photos.

According to this article, smiling is discouraged in Visa photos. Why? Because it messes up the biometric scans that should be done on you entering or leaving the country. And here your Maximum Leader always assumed it was because they wanted the photo to accurately reflect how you would look after waiting in the visa check lines for hours at the airport.

Carry on.

November 28, 2004

The Judas Thing

Here is my take.
Jesus had a lot of followers, not just "the 12". But there came a point where he was to whittle the group of followers down to the famous 12 Disciples. In Luke 6:12 you can find the passage but pretty much he went up a mountain, spent the night praying, came down the next day and made his choice.

This must have been a difficult task as the Disciples are "special" people that have to have specific personality traits of they won't fit into the flow of sequence of events. By that I mean, he couldn't have chosen 12 Macho Rambo types that would have fought to the death to "save" Jesus from his eventual death. Nor would he want 12 super-intellectuals (like the ministers at Nakedvilliany). He needed certain personality types and men that could be teachers and do it his way. Along with that he needed a traitor in the group.

I don't look at is so much as "pre-determined by God" and that Judas could not escape his fate because God had it out for him. I think about it more along the lines that you have free will to do what you want, but God knows what you are going to do before you do it.

And in a way, I have this power too. I bet that if you put your hand on a hot stove, that you will take it off. I know that you will do this even before you do it. I am not controlling your action and you have free will to leave your hand on the hot stove, I just know what you will do.

So Jesus knew that Judas was the kind of person that, put in the particular circumstance, would betray him. Jesus also knew that Peter would deny him three times and said so before the event.

Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and told the 12 disciples at the last supper. Matthew 26:21 says "and while they were eating, he (Jesus) said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me". Jesus tells them that the one who dips their hand into the bowl is the one that betrays him and Judas says "Surely not I" (but at this point Judas has already cut the deal to betray him".

So Judas had the free will to do what he wished, but God/Jesus knew what was in Judas' heart and what kind of decisions he would make.

Religion itself is a Giant Leap of Faith. You can't prove it in a laboratory or dig up a rock that has all the answers inscribed on it to prove it beyond all doubt. This, I think, is the design. If it was "provable", than anyone would be an idiot not to believe. But since it is an act of faith to choose to love and follow God, it is an act by man that is not forced on us.

I guess that God doesn't want us to love him because of the fancy tricks/miracles that he can do or because scientist in a laboratory have proven his existence thus we should all do it. God wants us to love him like we want to be loved, willingly and by choice.

If you could give your partner (or potential partner) a magic potion that would "make them love you" would you really give it to them? Do you want to be loved because someone is forced to or is made to love you? While it does sound intriguing, I think that the idea would quickly wear on us. We want to be loved for the person we are, warts and all.

And God feels the same way too.

That is why we have the choice to do what we will. But God knows what we will do and loves us enough to give us the choice.

Back to the Trenches...

Minion Molly's Mailbag, Part the Second

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been seriously remiss in posting comments on some e-mails he has gotten. He is particularly delinquent in thanking a few minions for their thoughtful comments on his Pontifications post. So to those of you who sent kind words, unkind words, or other articles for your Maximum Leader's consideration; he thanks you.

But, of all the minions out there your Maximum Leader owes his Divine Minion Molly the most material. So, with that in mind, here is a little something for Minion Molly.

Many moons ago now Minion Molly wrote: "I think you need to blog on what makes a liberal and a conservative." A sensible question indeed. Your Maximum Leader has wracked his brain trying to think up some definitions that were broad enough to encompass the common daily usage of these two terms. But at the same time, not be too partisan or snide in the defining.

Your Maximum Leader could only come up with these definitions. And they only really fit the usage of Liberal and Conservative insofar as domestic affairs in the United States go.

Here they are:
A Liberal seeks to utilize the government as the primary agent to affect social, economic, and civic change as rapidly and evenly as possible.

A Conservative seeks to minimize the intrusion of government, where ever possible, into social, economic, and civic life.
Not terribly exciting eh? Well, they are broad enough to be inclusive of most of the common usages of the two terms. But, being broad, they fail to capture the nuance extant in both the "Liberal" camp and the "Conservative" camp.

Your Maximum Leader would prefer, and might yet, to come up with a series of more "tight" definitions that would convey nuance.

Now you think this is the end of the post. Well you are wrong on that count minions. There is more.

Your Maximum Leader recently received a message from Minion Molly in which she commented on recent posts. Your Maximum Leader thought he would go ahead and share them with you.

Minion Molly writes on the subject of Alexander the Great. (In response to a post in which your Maximum Leader mentions Alexander obliquely, and in the context of a post by the Poet Laureate.) She writes:
First, Alexander the Great was bisexual. The Greek government can get over their homophobic selves. There are numerous primary sources that allude to it. Also, this was 300 years before Christ, and this was the norm for men in the military.

The Spartans were taken away from their parents at the age of 6 and trained. They lived in barracks and weren't allowed to marry until they were in their 30s. Alex was schooled in Athens and would have learned the Greek ways.

You can look at pottery and mosaics from this time period and it is depicted there. I think it's a moot point. He had conquered almost 90% of the known world at this time and was a great strategist. So what if he loved another guy?
Don't you just love a woman who can comment on Alexander the Great as "Alex?" Your Maximum Leader surely does. On this point your Maximum Leader will have to agree with Minion Molly. It is fairly clear that Alexander was what we would now term a bisexual. But, as Molly alludes, sexuality was not what it is today. An important element that has been missing in the ongoing web discussion of Alexander's sexuality is the idea of love espoused by the ancient Greeks. A critical element of love is that it could only occur between equals. And since men and women were not equal, love among equals was out. Your Maximum Leader says sure Alexander batted for both teams, but that doesn't diminish his formidable accomplishments.

Really now. Compare your life to Alexander's. King at 16. Conqueror of the world by 32. Hard not to feel as though you haven't been reaching your full potential.

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader was watching some interview program on TV with Oliver Stone, Colin Farell, and Angelina Jolie discussing "Alexander." Damn Angelina Jolie. Your Maximum Leader can't figure out what draws him to her. She must have the "kavorka." Your Maximum Leader cannot turn her off. No matter what it is, if Angelina is in it your Maximum Leader watches with rapt attention. And in the true confessions mode of blogging, your Maximum Leader got all hot and bothered when, in the interview, Angelina stated that she couldn't have played Olympias (mother of Alexander) until she had become a mother. She said that she knows what it means to be a mother. She said she'd kill someone to protect her son. And your Maximum Leader thought to himself, "Damn, and she only has an adopted son. She'd likely kill thousands for a child sharing half her genes." If Angelina Jolie needs some genes for a child, your Maximum Leader will offer them up gladly. Hummm... Where does this leave Jennifer Love Hewitt... She's still number one with your Maximum Leader. Jolie may have the kavorka, but she is also likely to cut you when you're not looking.

Not only did the Divine Minion Molly comment on Alexander, she also commented on Judas Iscariot. She writes:
Next, the Judas question. I was raised free will Southern Baptist. I have a great Aunt that left the Baptist Church and became Calvanist. She probably knows the Bible better than anyone I know. Her family learned Greek so they could read the Bible in its original form. I had never been crazy about predestination and election, but she in her wily way got me to thinking....

...If you believe in election (the correct term for predestination and election), he was predestined to sell Jesus out. Period. You just have to accept this on faith. So does this mean if any person or persons in history do something "bad", that they can be excused from this because they have been predestined to do this and it was God's will? I have a problem with that. I'm having lunch with my aunt tomorrow and will discuss this further with her.
First off, allow your Maximum Leader to tip his bejeweled floppy hat in the direction of your aunt. Learning ancient Greek to read the Bible. That is worth a hat tip. And your Maximum Leader is keen to know the thoughts of Minion Molly's aunt on Judas.

As for the Judas question. Your Maximum Leader was musing more on the condemnation (or the assumption of the condemnation) of Judas. If you believe in predestination,** then Judas was picked by God to betray Christ. But he was also (presumably) condemned for doing so. There is the heart of the issue at which your Maximum Leader was driving. If your Maximum Leader was predisposed towards believing in predestination, then he would have no problem believing that Judas was picked to do the deed. But if you believe in a benevolent God, why would God then punish Judas forever for acting in the only way God would allow? Even if you don't believe in predestination, the Gospel accounts are pretty clear that Jesus knew what was coming. And Jesus also knew that one of his disciples (perhaps he didn't know Judas specifically) would be the one to betray him. This gives rise to one thinking that, again Judas was ordained to betray Jesus. And once again one wonders if God's punishment was just in the face of Judas apparently having no choice in the matter.

** - Your Maximum Leader feels that predestination might be a better term to use in this context. In his experience the term "elect" or "elected" in this context generally refers to those who have been "elected" by God to go on to heaven and not suffer eternal damnation. Your Maximum Leader has never heard the term "elect" used to describe the condemned sinners.

So the real problem your Maximum Leader (and the always thoughtful Bill) was pondering was the nature of Judas' punishment. If there is free will, then Judas made his own choice and was punished for it. But if Judas had no choice in the matter, then is punishment really fair.

As Bill wrote in his post, this question gets really to the heart of Christian doctrine. If God has determined our course since the beginning (or before the beginning) of time; then is the punishment we receive for a sinful life really just? Afterall, we didn't have a choice in the matter. An all-powerful God, before whom we are powerless, willed our lives to be sinful and for punishment to be metted out accordingly. This hardly is in accord with the typical concept of an omni-benevolent God.

Hummm... Your Maximum Leader is curious to know the minds of other minions in this matter.

Carry on.

November 27, 2004

Sports Team Names

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just finished watching the Virginia vs. Virginia Tech football game on TV. (Tech wins! Tech wins! Tech wins!) And while holding the wee Villain, drinking a beer, and letting his mind run wild he thought of a number of things. But one of them is the subject of this blog.

High Schools, Colleges, and Professional Sport Franchises are always in a quandry about what to call their teams. Your Maximum Leader submits a few little used (but fear inducing names) for your favourite team:
Golden Horde

and of course...
And while Spartans is very popular, the more correct Lacedemonians is not. Humm... Must be that Lacedemonians is hard to embroider on a uniform.

Carry on.

DNC Chairman Troubles Solved.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sometimes amazes himself. Aside from his rapier wit, his propensity towards cleaver understatement, and his mastadon-like genitals; he sometimes just has ideas come to him which are, in fact, penetrating insights into current problems.

Take for example the current problem that the Democratic party is having finding a new party Chairman. There are so many problems confluencing in the position of DNC Chairman. How do we win elections? How do we communicate to the American people that we "believe in something?" How do we convince Americans that we have a "heart?" Etc, etc, etc.

Well your Maximum Leader has the perfect nominiee for DNC Chairman. Ready for it?

Aaron Sorkin.

Yes. Aaron Friggin Sorkin.

He isn't writing for "The West Wing" anymore. And as best your Maximum Leader can tell the only Democrats the American people have any love for at all are those fun-loving liberal ideologues who alternate between highbrow whimsy and furrowed brow concern for one hour every week on NBC and a billion hours a week on Bravo.

Yes Democrats of America, your Maximum Leader, who recently freely dispensed advice to the Kerry Campaign which could have turned the tide, now gives you the perfect DNC Chairman candidate. It is time you heed your Maximum Leader's words; or continue to despair.

Carry on.

November 25, 2004


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes all of his loyal minions and readers (far and wide) a happy Thanksgiving. He especially wishes our brave soliders, sailors, and marines overseas and at home a very happy Thanksgiving.

At first your Maximum Leader had thought that he would try and list off some of those loyal minions for whom he is particularly thankful. But, for fear of leaving someone off, he ditched that plan. Know that your Maximum Leader is thankful for the lot of you.

As it stands now, there is a 22 pound turkey roasting in the ovens of the Villainschloss. Soon the potatoes will be started. The pies are done (Blueberry/Blackberry; Apple; Mince; and Pumpkin), the Onion and Peanut casserole is done. The aparagus and hollandaise will be completed just in time for eating. Rolls are baked. The wheel of Stilton is resting. The spinach salad is refridgerated and waiting for the oil and vinegar. And your Maximum Leader has just poured a jigger of 110 proof bourbon into his egg nog. The holidays have truly begun.

But, just in case you've started to believe that this day is just about feasting (or in case you've never read it), your Maximum Leader presents to you a Thanksgiving proclamation from George Washington for your consideration.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington
Excellent thoughts for this day. May our great republic continue to be blessed with good government, peace, progress, and civic virtue.

Carry on.

Fallen on Porn.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader laughs at his little play on words there. Heh. Regardless of your Maximum Leader's sad attempt at humour, he commends you go over and read the Smouldering Fallen's comments on his recent comments on Porn addiction. Very good stuff. Married couples take heed. Keep your sex life interesting.

Carry on.

Afghani Cultural History preserved.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always likes to hear good news from Afghanistan and Iraq. In case you missed this post over at Wizbang you should review it.

It seems many treasures from the Afghani National Museum were hidden by dedicated staff when the Soviets invaded; and they have been hiding them in complete secrecy ever since. Now the heroic custodians of the priceless artifacts of Afghanistan's history believe the situation is stable enough for the museum's collection to be restored.

If that isn't good news, your Maximum Leader doesn't know what is.

Carry on.

Founding Fathers Banned.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader realized that it was only a matter of time before some overzealot anti-religous school official decided that banning literature wasn't enough. According to a Reuters article linked by Kevin at Wizbang the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journals, and presumably many writings of Thomas Jefferson have been banned from the curriculum. Why? Because they refer to God.

This is just too much. Your Maximum Leader isn't sure that stupified, gobsmacked, or flummoxed even start to convey the sheer idiocy of the school principal in question.

Perhaps the Smallholder can speculate on how you can teach American History without mentioning the Founding Fathers or the Founding Documents of our Republic.


Carry on.

Reading the Riot Act

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is glad to see the invocation of the Riot Act of 1714 being reproduced on the web. He first noticed it on Rite Wing TechnoPagan who in turn noticed it on Volokh.

A quick review of the web also give you other fun links. Like this Wikipedia link (from which your Maximum Leader learned that the Riot Act was - sadly - repealed in 1973).

But for full effect, go to this page in the Guttenberg E-book Project. It contains the full text of the Riot Act of 1714. And it is a great example of fine reading laws.

Carry on.

November 24, 2004

How Does Your Maximum Leader Get a Ticket?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw this on the news wires: Town Raffles Rifles to Raise Money for School. Your Maximum Leader wants to know how he can get a ticket. Hell, the Smallholder needs one too. He borrows guns as it is. We need to fix him up with one of his own.

Carry on.

You Don't Say? Witnesses Disagree?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the stories are beginning to come out in the hunter shooting incident. And (surprise, surprise) the stories don't agree. The shooter says he was confronted with racial epithets and was shot at first. A surviving victim says that the shooter walked away when confronted about trespassing then opened fire at about 100 yards.

It is all very very sad. And it gives responsible gun owners reason to cringe.

Carry on.

Musings on Judas

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is very pleased that at least one reader took the time to read your Maximum Leader's musings on Judas Iscariot.

On his blog, Bill comments thoughtfully on some of the problems your Maximum Leader brought up in thinking about Judas.

Your Maximum Leader is a strong believer in free will. And his general theological tendency is towards believing in a God who does not intercede in events (much - if at all). But, the case of Judas is a tough one.

If you accept the authenticity of the accounts in the Gospels, then it is pretty clear that Jesus knew that one of his trusted disciples would betray him. Jesus also seemed to know of the necessity of his betrayal to set in motion events that were essential to the salvation of man. If one accepts these premises, it would certainly appear as though Judas was the predetermined patsy in the story. It seems particularly vengeful of God to condemn Judas for something that God willed be done.

Not that your Maximum Leader would presume to think that God might not be that vengeful...

If one really wants to start reading between the lines, perhaps the act of betrayal was predestined and that could have been forgiven. But Judas' realiztion of the magnitude of his deeds and his subsequent suicide were his free will choices.

Or, if you want to just be a skeptic, perhaps the Gospels were written with an eye towards creating a scapegoat for all history. Perhaps the authors of the Gospels embellished the story a little and they "created" Jesus' foreknowledge of the events of his demise?


Carry on.

Lincoln Collection Auctioned

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads that one of the largest private collections of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia is up for auction in Los Angeles. The family of collector Lloyd Ostendorf is selling the collection because they don't want the "stress" of maintaining it. The million dollars probably eases the stress some.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the National Archives or the Smithsonian Institution shouldn't try to pony up the money and purchase this collection on behalf of the citizens of our Republic? Your Maximum Leader, generally a great supporter of private collections, would approve of such a sale.

Carry on.

November 23, 2004

Idiocy and Miracles

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader allows this next item to pass without comment.

Cheese Sandwich Bought for $28,000.

Okay, one comment. Yes, you read that correctly. A 10 year old, mold-free, grilled cheese sandwich bearing the imprimatur of the Virgin Mary was purchased on ebay for $28,000.

It is truly a miracle.

Carry on.

Father Christmas Arrested at Buckingham Palace.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the Brits are taking the security of their sovereign monarch seriously for once. It seems as though Santa Claus has been arrested at Buckingham Palace and charged with causing criminal damage and creating a public nusiance.

In this respect, Santa now joins the illustrious ranks of Batman & Robin, Spiderman, and the late Princess Diana as people who have caused a disturbance at the Palace.

It seems as though Santa was protesting for more rights for divorced and separated fathers in Britain. And who knew that his long-lasting marriage to Mrs. Claus (a firery-redhead if the photos are to be believed) was on the rocks? Your Maximum Leader supposes the Heat Miser will have a shot at Mrs. Claus before too long.

And your Maximum Leader supposes that HM the Queen will be getting coal for Christmas.

Carry on.

Dinosaurs, DoDo Birds, Tape

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader takes a moment to report the obvious. While he knows that all his minions are technology savvy people; some other out there are not so swift. And now... The death knell sounds for the VHS system.

VHS is dead! Long live the DVD!

Of course, it is only a matter of time before the DVD goes the way its illustrious predecessors, the Beta and the VHS...

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader is told that Beta tape is still widely used in TV production. Is this so? If any minions can educate your Maximum Leader on this narrow topic it would be appreciated.

Carry on.

Dead Hunters

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn't sure what to make of this story yet. You know the one where the hunter from Minnesota shot and killed some hunters in Wisconsin.

Yesterday it seemed as though one hunter killed six other hunters in a wanton shootout; then gave himself up when the manhunt began. Now, the suspect says he was shot at first by the other hunters. No charges filed yet.

There is still something missing from this whole tale. Your Maximum Leader imagines we'll start to hear more soon.

Carry on.

Musing on Porn Addiction.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the good Smallholder has declared Nakedvillainy to be "All Ally All The Time." While your Maximum Leader is great and can direct his Leaderly Love to many different lovely minions, he does want to write something about one of Ally's recent posts.

Ally writes about porn addiction in a recent post. Your Maximum Leader is somewhat conflicted on porn actually. He believes it has a general coarsening affect on civil society and contributes to forces that rend apart traditional morals and norms that preserve civilization itself. On the other hand, he believes in personal freedom and free will and the marketplace. Those forces should also be allowed to work to provide porn to those who want it. He generally believes that access to porn should be restrictive, but the nature and type of porn produced should not be limited by government.

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader thinks he blogged once before on how he thought there should be an internet "red light" district. Defined by something like a "dot XXX" extension. Of course, how you define porn is a sticky wicket and likely the subject of a future post all its own...

So what is the purpose of this post you ask? Well, it is to discuss porn addiction of a sort. This is not at all related to any details of Ally's life; as your Maximum Leader doesn't know any to comment upon. But Ally's post caused him to remember a couple whom he knew at one point....

You see, Ally's post was not the first one in which he's heard of a married man preferring to sit at his computer and surf for naked teem nympho sluts than go and nail his good lady wife. Indeed, your Maximum Leader knew a couple who are now divorced where this (porn addiction that is) was a contributing factor to the breakup of the marriage.

In this case, the wife (Jane) while in court declared that her husband (Dick - heh...) was "addicted to porn." Jane declared that Dick would spend hours looking at porn on the internet, reading "dirty magazines," and watching "adult films." She further declared that she thought his love of porn was like committing adultery with thousands of women.

Excursus: And if you are both a devout Christian and a married man fantasizing about having sex with nude hairy pregnant teen nympho sluts you are committing adultery. And just to be even handed about this, if you are both a devout Christian and a married woman fantasizing about having sex with naked sweaty abs-of-steel big-dicked man-sluts you too are committing adultery. And as adulterers you should be put to death. Of course it seems in modern parlance "put to death" which used to mean something fun like stoning or slow eviseration now means "put through the ringer by lawyers who suck the life blood out of you."

So, where was your Maximum Leader... Oh yes... Anecdotally speaking...

Well, Dick (in our Dick and Jane senario) countered that he really had no recourse but to turn to porn. Dick, it seems, had "needs." Dick had twice a day "needs." Or so he said. (And so his "special doctor" said too.) When Dick and Jane were dating, it seemed that once or twice a day wasn't all that outrageous. When Dick and Jane were newlyweds, once or twice a day wasn't an imposition. But about a year into their marriage, daily was too much for Jane. And by the three year mark, Jane was a once or twice a quarter type of gal. Dick had a choice to make, find sex in the arms of another woman; or find sex at the tip of his mouse-clicking finger.

Now if you are female, perhaps all you might need to take the place of your man is your handy Milesian do-it-yourself kit. But men are a little different. They like the visual stimulation that sometimes comes with taking the matter into their own hands.

So, your Maximum Leader asks, is porn addiction in a marriage bad if one party is not satisfying the needs of the other? In the case of the couple your Maximum Leader knew, sex was just one part of the problem. (As is so often the case. One particularly salacious part however...) If a person likes the hormone rush and feeling that is part and parcel of the sexual experience and is used to getting it - then doesn't get it anymore should they be allowed to seek it out in other places within reason?

As your Maximum Leader was typing this, Mrs. Villain came down and started reading over his shoulder. (A practice your Maximum Leader cannot stand actually. He normally minimizes the screen and refuses to talk about what he is typing. But in this case, he let Mrs. Villain read...) She believes that porn, while bad in a larger societal sense, is only damaging to a marriage (and adulterous perhaps) if it becomes a replacement by one party to physical relations which are offered by the second party in a marriage. Your Maximum Leader would have to agree with that too. (And not just because Mrs. Villain said so.)

All in all, perhaps studying "porn addiction" isn't all that bad an idea. Your Maximum Leader supposes that if there are Sex Addictions listed in the DSM, a subset of sex addiction would be porn addiction. Of course the article to which Ally linked makes it sound as though there is a particular slant to the aim of the studies. (Which makes one wonder about the validity of the research before it begins doesn't it?)

So... Where does all of this lead? Nowhere really. Like the end of an Eddie Izzard show, this post is concluding with you the reader minion saying "Humm... Is that it?" to yourself.

Yes. That is all.

Carry on.

What is Meritorious?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is the gift that just keeps on giving. More food for thought. This time the topic is what is wrong with academe.

Read this wonderful post by Roger Kimball on Armavirumque. And allow your Maximum Leader to say that any blog that quotes Lord Melbourne freely in the opening lines of a post can't be bad.

Now think... Are non-profit foundations really helping the state of academe in America? What was O'Sullivan's Law again? Any organization that is not specifically chartered to promote a conservative agenda becomes more liberal over time. Surely the Mellon's didn't figure that one day their millions would go to subsidize "junior faculty who have a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, and breaking down stereotypes and promoting cross-racial understanding in their university communities."

And from what your Maximum Leader reads, other foundations are even more egregious in their funding determinations than is the Mellon Foundation.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just thinking aloud on the phone with the Smallholder. And a theological question came to him. He figured he'd post it.

Judas Iscariot.

Riddle your Maximum Leader this... Can Judas really be held responsible for his betrayal of Jesus if one is a good reformed Protestant Christian and believes in predestination? If you do, then it was in God's own plan that Judas do what he did. How can you hold him in fault for something he was predestined to do? Without Judas, how would Jesus have fulfilled his purpose?

Even if you don't believe in predestination, think about it. Jesus would have still needed a betrayer. Jesus had foreknowledge of his betrayal, though perhaps not his betrayer. This would imply, at least, that it was in the Divine Plan for someone to act in the role of betrayer. Can that person, Judas Iscariot, really be fully culpable for his role in The Plan? Does he deserve to be devoured by Satan in the lowest circle of Hell?

Just asking.

Carry on.

Superhero Quiz

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw this quiz over on TexasBestGrok and he decided to take it. Well the responses made him laugh aloud so he's decided to post the results.

Your Superhero Persona
by couplandesque
Your Name
Superhero NameThe Scotsman
Super PowerImpeccable Hearing
Mode Of TransportationGiant Hamster Named Skippy
WeaponA Stapler
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Heh. A giant hamster named Skippy. Heh. Skippy.

Carry on.

November 22, 2004

So where do you guys find the time?

I check in here far more than I post. I just have to wonder though where you guys are finding all the time to post. And not only that, but when your not creating entertaining missives here at Naked Villiany, you are reading or commenting on other peoples blogs.

Geesh and I only have ONE kid!


In the minutes before my wife finishes getting the wee one to sleep so we can have the obligatory "Anniversary Sex" (which by the way is akin to the obligatory "Birthday Sex" (mine was just a few weeks ago Oct 31st), I have a minute or two to chime in.

Where or where is our esteemed Propaganda Minister? I can only assume that he is not still working for Kerry 04 (maybe he is on the team for Kerry 08?).

I have to admit that in the free time I have had (which is usually about 9PM-1AM) I have crafted a web site dedicated to Early 18th Century High Seas Piracy go ahead take a look!

One of my manifestations of Geekiness is that I have been into Living History since about the 8th Grade. I have participated in everything from WW2 to 15th Century (I did 15th C at Warwick Castle even!).

My latest passion is Pirate stuff.

The other thing I have been doing is going to Flea Markets here in Germany. Amazing the things that one can find. Last weekend I found some 1870s beer steins for $5! Just about every Sunday there is a market somewhere.

Anyway, my wife just gave me the "come hither" look so I am going to get Lucky!

Back to the.....

Catching Up

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, like Winston Churchill to the Admiralty in 1939, is back. There is so much to blog about, and so little time to do so. This post will likely be just one big long excursion to where ever your Maximum Leader feels like blogging... Where to begin?

First off, thanks to the Minister of Agriculture for posting while your Maximum Leader was away. He'll be called to do so again in a week or so when your Maximum Leader will have to be gone a few days.

Well, in case any of you are interested. The Virginia Tech vs. Maryland game last Thursday was fun. Well, it was a blow-out actually. Tech 55, Maryland 6. To be honest, your Maximum Leader and his party departed at half-time with the score 41-3. It had begun to rain, and none of us wanted to get wet watching a game where it was clear who the victor would be. One little interesting side-note... Your Maximum Leader was last in Blacksburg, Virginia in 1997-ish. He was there to help the AirMarshal move out after earning his PhD. At that point, Blackburg was a smallish town dominated by a huge university. What a difference about 7 years make. Now there are malls (plural - many of them), highway by-passes, and "urban" sprawl. Amazing really. Your Maximum Leader could hardly find his way around. Indeed, Mrs. Villain, and the Villainous-sister-in-law, both graduates of Virginia Tech, could hardly find their way around either. Crazy really.

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader sees that Uma Thurman and her "boyfriend" are buying the late Bob Guccione's estate in New York. Guccione, the late Penthouse publisher, owned a nice spread up near Albany. Now it will be Uma's. If walls could talk... Your Maximum Leader wonders if Uma is a little minx... Ahem...

Your Maximum Leader recently saw a news article stating that "Humans Were Born to Run." According to this study, scientists are now claiming that mankind's upright stance, arm length and position, curvature of hips and so forth all stem from our ability to run. The scientists go on to say much of our physiology is geared towards running. Your Maximum Leader, while not a researcher in this field, wonders if these scientists examined the human knee. From everything your Maximum Leader had read, the human knee is well designed for upright walking, but takes a real beating when running. And thus, human knees wear out quickly. If we were born to run wouldn't one anticipate better knees?

Your Maximum Leader has been reading regularly about India's decisions to start to demilitarize the disputed provence of Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Singh and Pakistani President Musharrif seem to be moving towards more serious negotiations over the status of this provence. Here is one article (now old) from The Times of India on this subject. Your Maximum Leader had planned to write a larger piece on this subject, but he's been OBE. This will have to do for now.

Excursus: What is OBE you ask? Well, certainly some readers will think "Has our Maximum Leader gone loopy? The Order of the British Empire has no contextual reference in that last line." In this case, loyal minions, your Maximum Leader is using OBE as an abbreviation for "overtaken by events." He uses it from time to time. Just as he sometimes uses Churchill's KBO abbreviation for "keep buggering on."

Thanks to Sadie for her link to the Dante's Inferno Quiz. It appears as though Sadie and your Maximum Leader will cavort with each other in the Second Level of Hell.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Moderate
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Bill suggested your Maximum Leader determine what colour lightsaber he would have. But alas, the quiz is no longer open to the public. But, knowing himself, your Maximum Leader is pretty sure he'd be red.

Damn the Poet Laureate! Your Maximum Leader had planned on doing a whole "Alexander the Great, bisexual" post; but the Big Hominid seems to have already done one. Your Maximum Leader still might opine on this subject. Especially since Greeks are angry about the upcoming movie.

And your Maximum Leader would like to close by thanking the Smallholder, once again. But thank him for his "Uncle John" story. Your Maximum Leader had the good fortune to meet the Smallholder's Uncle John a few times. He will recount one of those meetings here. A number of years ago the US Navy docked the USS Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. At that time, your Maximum Leader had his Villainschloss in Virginia Beach, VA. He got a call one day from the Smallholder's Vater and Uncle John. They had come to town to see the battleship and wondered if they could stop by. They were very welcome of course, and your Maximum Leader got some thick steaks for the grill and proceeded to cook-out.

Over beers, your Maximum Leader asked Uncle John if he had ever seen the Wisconsin before. Uncle John replied that yes he had seen the ship before. But never so close. Uncle John said that the Wisconsin was using her 16 inch guns to blast Japanese positions when he last saw her. He said he remembered that he could hear the report of the Wisconsin's guns OVER his own gun's report. Hearing a 105mm gun he was standing next to being drowned out by the sound of a gun being fired from over 10 miles away filled Uncle John with mixed emotions. Your Maximum Leader remembered him saying, "I felt sorta sorry for them [the Japanese being bombarded]. But I was damn glad it wasn't me they were shooting at." With that Uncle John took a swig of beer (which he called "fancy beer" by the way - it was Sam Adams), and described his memories of seeing the Wisconsin's shells fly over his position and land in his own target area. Then Uncle John changed the subject and we moved on to more mundane topics. But, it was a good conversation to have. Alas, your Maximum Leader never was able to have a similar conversation with his paternal grandfather who was a Seabee in the Pacific Theatre.

God bless, Uncle John.

Carry on.

All Ally All the Time

Ally has been turning out the posts lately. Despite the gloominess of some of the posts, one hopes that she is posting and ranting because life is good.

For our gun-nut readers, I recommend "Gun Ownership." A question for my fellow ministers: since I am the only Minister to have snuffed out life with a firearm, does that qualify me as an honorary gun nut? Just askin'.

"Looking Inside" shows the perils of honesty. I had a similar situation as a teenager. I knicked a car pulling out of my parking space. No one saw me. I could have driven away, but I parked the car, went into each store in the strip mall and asked around until I found the owner and confessed. Since it was a minor scrape, I assumed the person would say not to worry about it. The woman, of course, made a huge deal out of the scratch. I offered to pay for the repair because I knew that it would be less than the deductible and any report would make my insurance go up. But she insisted on going through the insurance company. She reported a set of dents on the other side of her car. Luckily, my insurance company was a bit dubious about how I could have managed to damage two sides of her car and denied the claim. Lesson: even though you are honest, not everyone else is. The fact that Ally was honest when it was likely to be (and was) financially ruinous, speaks well of her character. She may think she would take a different path if she had to do it all over again, but your humble Smallholder doubts it.

Finally, read the post on the Holiday Blues and send her a cheery e-mail.

Holiday Blues actually gave me an idea for a posting meme for the Naked Villains - we have to do something to jump start the Poet Laureate, Air marshal, Foreign Minister and Minister of Propaganda. Post topic: Recount a happy holiday memory.

What is Wrong With Sadie? By Mocha

I write a post about how prisoner-taking can be a dangerous endeavor. I illustrate it with a war story about a beloved uncle.

And what does Sadie do? Does she reflect on the ugly nature of war? Discuss how international legal niceties are the first casulty of conflict? Give thanks for the safe deliverance of a member of the Minister of Agriculture's family.

Of course not.

Rite Wing TechnoPagan

The always scholarly and thoughtful Bill's Comments has linked to Rite Wing TechnoPagan's blog. The teaser article was about green energy alternatives, on which I will riff below. Go check it out.

I respectfully submit to the Maximum Leader that TechnoPagan ought to be added to the blogroll. I don't generally agree with much of what TechnoPagan writes, but he challenges his readers to think and backs up his arguments. Add him, o great arbiter of Nakedvillainous bloggy goodness.

But back to the green energy alternatives.

Technopagan basically argues that subsidies for green energy are misguided since they shift the true cost of those alternatives to taxation, which precludes the invisible hand of the marketplace from making accurate comparisons between energy sources.

A conservative is generally against subsidies.

A liberal is generally for government intervention to determine a "good" result.

I'm a progressive.

The marketplace works. But, to mangle W.C., "Capitalism is the worst form of economics - except for all the others."

As a progressive, I would like to make sure, like Technopagan, that the true costs of any commodity - energy or otherwise - are reflected in prices so that the market can make accurate comparisons between energy sources. I'll agree that green subsidies be eliminated IF:

Traditional energy prices are forced to account for the hidden costs that are generally not reflected in price. Coal plants can keep producing energy, but their pollution must be filtered - why should the populace be forced to bear the byproduct of pollution, which is certainly more injurious to the commonweal than a few more pennies of taxation that are used to subsidize green alternatives. Once the true costs of production are factored into the marketplace, I'm confident that green energy is viable. Or, at the very least, higher fuel costs will offer profit incentives for further energy research.

I think there is a bit of a nod toward this position at the end of TechnoPagan's post:

However, taking the notion of subsidies at face value, it occurs to me that a complete ban on subsidies would put a stop to a lot of arguments. If virgin paper is "really" more expensive than recycled paper, and only looks cheaper because of subsidies, then getting rid of the subsidies would cause people to switch to recycled quite spontaneously. Likewise, if meat is a low in cost as it is because of heavy subsidies to the Meat Industry, removing those subsidies would convert more people into vegetarians.

Hey - and now he is moving into my pet area - agricultural policy. I would love to see the subsidy of industrial agriculture end. At the very minimum, an end to corn subsidies would end the profitability of grain-based feedlots, saving fuel, leading to healthier grass-fed beef, reducing erosion, making actual family farms economically viable, improving the lives of animals, and eliminating environmental problems like manure nutrient overflows.

November 21, 2004

Uncle John at Iwo Jima

Indepundit has more on the Fallujah shooting, in the form of advice he gave his own troops on the rules of engagement.

Read through the discussion thread as well. With a few exceptions (there is always some loon who can't resist using the towelhead epithet), the commentary is interesting.

The issue of not knowing whether a wounded enemy is likely to try to take U.S. marines with him reminded me of a story that my Uncle John told about Iwo Jima.

Uncle John went ashore with a 105 battery - the marines' mobile front line artillery. After the beachhead was secured, they set up operations and began exchaning fire with Japanese guns hidden in caves behind steel doors in Surabachi.

Even after the infantry pushed the perimiter back so the battery was not in range of direct rifle fire, marines were being shot periodically. The battery could not find the sniper anywhere and no one could see any flash. This went on for a couple of days, with two or three marines getting tagged.

The break (as it were) came as the battery commander sat down to take a dump on a used mess can. As he sat there, he saw a flash and a round tore through both buttocks. My Uncle would always start giggling at this point - an officer shot in ass while taking a dump. But as they administer first aid, he directed his men to a length of pipe sticking out of the sand.

The pipe looked like any other piece of detirtus of the shelled beach. But it was actually a breathing/firing tube. As the Americans closed in, a young Japanese soldier - a teenager, crawled into a pit with water and bags of rice. His comrades fashioned postioned the pipe, laid a steel door on top of him, and buried him alive.

You have to respect the courage of this soldier who voluntarily laid down in his own grave. He laid there for days, and whenever a marine stopped in his tunnelvision long enough, the Japanese soldier would light him up.

My uncle was part of the party of marines who dug down through the sand and found the metal door.

One of the marines said that they should take the sniper prisoner.

The sergeant looked at him disdainfully. "He's likely to have a grenade down there with him. You're welcome to try, but I'm going to go stand over there."

The marines considered this.

They pried up the edge of the door and a dozen marines poured rifle fire into the exposed crack.

An execution.

I'm glad the prisoner guy got overruled by his buddies.

Uncle John came home, raised a family, built a dairy farm, and helped feed the nation.

November 19, 2004

The Shooting of a "Prisoner" in Fallujah

Much angst is being expressed about the videotape of an American killing a wounded insurgent.

Was it a war crime violating the Geneva Convention?


First of all, the "prisoner" was not yet a prisoner; he had not been searched and detained. Iraqi jihadis have often played possum and then detonated an explosive when an American attempted to search and detain him. Thus, it was reasonable for the soldier to shoot the Iraqi playing possum. Notably, the two wounded insurgents who were laying on the floor with their hands raised were not killed. As they were clearly submitting and had their hands in plain sight, they were taken prisoner.

More importantly, it did not violate the Geneva Convention because the insurgents are NOT covered by the Geneva convention. (As an aside, neither are the combatants detained at Guantanamo.)

The Geneva Convention
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Clauses 2 and 6 tell the tale. The insurgents do not meet the criteria of resistance in an occupied zone. They also do not meet the criteria of clause six; the insurgents are not spontaneous, having been resisting for a year or more so can legally expected to have uniformed themselves with a fixed sign recognizable at a distance. They also do not respect the laws and customs of war.

Soldiers who refuse to be bound by the wars defining decency in war can have no expectation of receiving mercy. In fact, the insurgents have systematically violated the Geneva Convention's rules:

(From article 3)
a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Hmm. Even if the insurgents had signed the Geneva Convention, they would, by their actions, released any party to the conflict from having to follow the Geneva Convention.

As un-uniformed combatants, they are subject to being shot out of hand even AFTER they have been taken prisoner. The shooting of combatants hiding in civilian clothes has been a well-established law of war for centuries. Remember Major Andre? How about the German sabateurs who landed on Long Island in World War II? How about the SS troops who disguised themselves as Americans during the Battle of the Bulge?

All shot.

Trafalgar 2004

For the Maximum Leader, Wicked Thoughts

Hat tip to Bill's Comments.

November 18, 2004

Britain and Iraq

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has time for one quick one before he leaves. He commends to you all Blimpish: Britain and Iraq II: A nation not yet (too) afraid. It will take you a moment to read, but it is well worth your time.

Carry on.

A Link for Mike

From Llamabutchers.

Just so he can use his favorite new word.


The Shoveler

Sadie Mirth, posting over at Straight White Guy, has posted the results of a silly superhero quiz.



The silly superhero quiz reminded me of a silly superhero movie. I don't hold it to be in the same sill cult classic category as Big Trouble in Little China, but it did amuse me: Mystery Men.

The movie as a whole is a funny conceit: Second-rate superheroes whose powers aren't all that super - a guy who get really angry, a guy who is invisible when no one is looking, a woman who throws bowling balls. The execution of the conceit is rather weak. The part I really enjoyed was the quiet performance "The Shoveler" by William H. Macy.

"Unhand that boy... or you're mulch!"

Explaining why he works to fight evil, he simply says, "I shovel well. I shovel very well."

I really identify with this character; I'm not spectacularly good at anything. I'm pretty much across-the-board average.

But I do try to make my little corner of the world a better place.

That's what matters.

The Top 100 Movie Quotes.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the American Film Institute Takes on Movie Quotes With New List. The good folks at AFI are planning on listing the 100 best movie quotes in history. Hummm.. While your Maximum Leader doesn't have the time for listing 100 of his favourites right now, here are just a few. See if you can guess the films...

"I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!"

"You know how to whistle don't ya? You put your lips together and blow."

"Young man. Young. Young. Man. You make my mouth water."

"Luke, I am your father."

"You talkin' to me?"

"I'll be back."

"Trust me."

"No Prisoners!"

"I know. You know I know. We know Henry knows. And Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgable family."

"What shall we hang? The holly or each other."

"I rode bare-breasted half way to Damascus. I damned nearly died of windburn; but the troops were dazzled."

"When the King is off his arse nobody sleeps!"

"She's like a democratic drawbridge. She goes down for everyone."

and of course:


Carry on.

Memo to the Iranian Parliament

Here's a hint, boys.

Free of charge.

When you claim your nuclear research is for peaceful purposes, your claims will have more credibility if you pass the appropriations bill without chanting "Death to America."

Just sayin'.

New Toys

Ok, so this has nothing to do with Iran. This has to do with ME. My newest toy. The latest thing that has my wife rolling her eyes in disgust and me running around like a kid in a candy shop. I have to say, having one of these gizmos, I now understand what all the fuss is about. This is damn cool. Ladies, this is the perfect gift for your husband for Christmas. or Hannukah. or Kwanza. Or just to let him know that you actually DO appreciate him. Ok, maybe I'm sexist. Guys, buy this for your wife if she's technically inclined and has the gadget bug.

Maybe we should supply all the Shiite Mullah's with iPods loaded with Arabic chants and prayers. They maybe they'd mellow out a bit and realize that we aren't evil, we're merely enjoying the fruits of our well earned superiority.

Thanks, Dad.

November 17, 2004

New Toys.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader recognizes the benefits of ruling like an autocrat. Which, let us not kid ourselves, is pretty much what President Putin is doing in Russia. (How long before we start describing him as "President for Life" Putin?)

One of the benefits of such a style of government is that when the leader wants a new toy. Well by God he's gonna get one. And that is what it appears as though the Russians are doing by developing a new nuclear missile.

From the articles your Maximum Leader has read (not just the linked one but some others) it appears as though the Russians are introducing iether a new type of ballistic missle or a cruise missile. If they get new toys why can't the US Army/Air Force/Navy get new toys. (Your Maximum Leader doesn't think that they let Marines play with nukes. They are likely to use them you know.) What about bunker-buster h-bombs? Your Maximum Leader knows the many arguments against these sorts of weapons, but still thinks we need to research and test them. Just because we will not doesn't mean that anyone will follow our example.

Carry on.

What the...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will allow this headline to pass without comment. Mainly because he just can't think of a comment to make.

Mom Breastfeeds Puppy to Protect Baby.

Carry on.

Moses... It's Your Office Calling...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Cairo is being swarmed with locusts and not just any locusts but pink Libyan ones. Can the Nile turning to blood and the death of first born sons of Egypt be far behind?

What's next? Jews rebuilding the Temple? Dog and Cats living together? It will be mayhem.

Carry on.


I just had a student say to me:

"I'm only late twice a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."


Keith Burgess Jackson has an excellent link to a review of Micheal Walzer's new book.

(Excursus #1: I thank him for the link, but am distressed at the gratuitous ad hominem attack; such unsupported insults have, of late, become endemic over at Analphilospher. KBJ's early blog, while still opinionated and partisan, was much more civil in tone. Methinks the economic marketplace of the blogosphere has led the good professor down the primrose path. Blog readers seem to reward intemperate ranting. While I usually hesitate to attribute unspoken motivations to others, KBJ's early writings show a much more thoughtful individual; my attribution of motives here is actually to give him the benefit of the doubt; he has made a decision to ratchet up the rhetoric to bring in the readers. It appears to work, since he has just been blogrolled by the great Glenn Reynolds.)

At any rate, I was very interested to read the review of Walzer's book.

I have a copy of Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars. The Minister of Propaganda gave it to me as a gift when we were wee undergraduates.

(Excursus #2: Okay, okay, we admit it: the Villains are bibliophiliac geeks. The Maximum Leader has bookshelves of books offered as tribute by his Minister of Agriculture and the humble smallholder has bookshelves of books granted through the Maximum Leader's largesse.)

I enjoyed Walzer's work in college and actually pulled it off the shelf during the run-up to Gulf War II. Walzer is probably the single greatest influence over my understanding of the just war concept. I actually quoted it to the Minister of Propaganda over the phone as we debated the morality of the invasion of Iraq. Based on Walzer's book, I argued that the war was justified. I took particular pleasure in using a book that Rob gave me to challenge Rob's contention that pre-emptive wars were inherently immoral.

(Excursus #3: Another cool Rob/Walzer moment was when I took the book of the shelf and a letter fell out of the jacket. It was the original letter that Rob wrote to me back in 1991. It was a wonderful bit of nostalgia for the idealistic kids we once were.)

But Walzer evidently opposed this war. I need to read the book and see how he has modified his original positions. I really think that his criteria for determining the morality of a particular war DO give the green light to GW II. I want to see how he has redefined/reinterpreted the argument.

Amazon Wish List To the Rescue!

The Law, Semantics, and Education

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just loves Sadie. One minute you think she's all about naughty bits that make your groin wake up and pay attention, the next minute it is quoting Goethe and giving a lucid breakdown of evidenciary standards and the definition of murder.

Your Maximum Leader has long ruminated to himself about the change in the term "malice" as it applies to the law and murder specifically in the example of the Peterson case. Sadie's salient point here goes like this:
The problem with the definition is that the current definition of malice aforethought has gone far beyond both its common sense and original legal meaning. The resulting conflicts resonate throughout homicide law, warping an entire body of law. One would think that the inclusion of "malice" precludes anything but ill will of the defendant towards his victim, if one thinks of the everyday lay use of the word. Nope. Malice as a legal term of art merely leads one to believe that there was a deliberate intention to kill, whether or not this was precipitated through ill will. Blackstone complicated things with pressing the division towards express and implied malice....but generally, it's relatively accurate to say that Malice Aforethought is akin to premeditation or deliberate planning of the killings. Yet jurors consistently express confusion about this concept due to semantic struggles.
This is a point your Maximum Leader has thought about before. And he always seems to come back to the problem inherent in a system that relies on untrained (but not always uneducated) jurors to determine how a law is to be applied. The semantic confusion comes when a juror has to have the law clarified for them. Or even worse, confusion arises when a lawyer feels he must clarify the law for a juror or group of jurors. This is when the parsed definitions and convoluted interpretation of terms comes into play. Sadie continues:
Given the inherent difficulty of instructing juries, and the overriding need for courts to tailor their instructions to conform to the law, criminal statutes should be written in easily understood language. If a crime is defined in terms lay jurors can understand, it will be much easier for courts to give juries understandable instructions that conform to the law.
Bingo! Laws written in easy to understand language. Now, first off your Maximum Leader will speculate that when Blackstone was writing his commentaries the average Briton who would be involved in a jury trial was better educated than is the average American (or Briton) in 2004. A lawyer (or barrister) wouldn't have had to explain malice to them. They would have known what it meant. But now the law and the state of education have been on divergent paths for about 200 years now.

Lawyers have grown more and more specialized. As legal specialzation has grown, so as the need for practicing lawyers to have their own "parlance." It makes them sound more important and knowledgable. Alas, these lawyers are now the ones writing the law for the most part. They take their special parlance and write it into the law so as to make it unreadable to a layman.

Recently, your Maximum Leader was reading a book on Richard III and the Buckingham Rebellion. (He can't remember the exact title - and he can't find it on Amazon either. Perhaps this is a book he picked up in Britain and he'd have to look on And a particularly interesting part to this book was how Richard, as Duke of Gloucester and "Lord of the North" for Edward IV, was particularly adept at assuring the laws were kept and justice was swift, fair, and public. Richard was wildly popular in the north of England because he was such a able administrator and lord. When Richard became King he was not able to translate his success in the north to success in south largely because his vassals in the south were not as committed to keeping the Kings Justice as Richard was.

Your Maximum Leader brings this up because of a long passage he read dealing with the public announcement of court findings. There was a concern by Richard and his vassals that when a judge made a ruling that it be clear and understandable by the people. This is what is missing from our legal system. Our laws and our legal decisions are written by lawyers and judges for the benefit of lawyers and judges. They should be written more with an eye towards the people for who's benefit the laws are made.

Carry on.

Thoughts on Condi Rice

Since the Humble Smallholder has been fulfilling his minionly duties whilst the other Villains languidly repose, slothlike, in their own filth, delivering no posts ere the last weeks, methinks a promotion would be in order.

Smallholder should be elevated, Rice-like, to a new position of:

status showing sophisticated sycophancy.

Vice-Maximum Leader has a nice ring to it.

I will, of course, accept the post as long as I can bring the Undersecretary of Agriculture with me. (Oops, there I go again violating Biblical Morality...)

Seriously, setting aside alliteration and beautiful women, I share the Maximum Leader's concern about Rice's elevation. While she is certainly qualified and tremendously bright, her elevation will further strengthen the hermetic seal surrounding the Commander-in-chief. We have already seen how the narrow funnel of advice that Bush hears has complicated the postwar (read: insurgent) situation in Iraq. Perhaps he should have had more Powells and Shaliskavilis and Zakiras and Pollaks in his inner circle.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Humm... Vice-Maximum Leader, eh? Your Maximum Leader will mull over Vice-Leader, Deputy-Leader, Sous-Leader, Adjunct-Leader, First Minister, Chancellor, Prime Minister, Constable, Prefect, Tribune and Major-Domo. Of course there is always Catamite to fall back on.

And just to clarify, your Maximum Leader doesn't have any problems with Rice becoming Secretary of State. In fact he's all for it. Aside from the question of Rice's temprament being suited to running the State Department, his concern is more losing the moderate voice of Powell. That voice could be replaced elsewhere in the President's foreign policy team. Perhaps he shouldn't have entitled the post "Reservations on Rice" but instead called it "Wanted: Different Opinion."

Mark Your Calendars!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was going to save this until Friday, but he just can't. Remember that Friday (November 19) is "World Toilet Day." It has been thus declared so by the World Toilet Organization. (Which by the way is conducting the World Toilet Summit, even as we blog, in Beijing. NB to the Poet Laureate: If you tried really hard right now you might be able to catch the last day. Go to the airport now! Hie thee to China! Screw classes!)

Want to read some great news releases? Go to the World Toilet Organization's press page. Brilliant!

And finally... Your Maximum Leader understands that some of the stuffy bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization might not like another group sharing their initials. But really now, your Maximum Leader thinks the World Toilet Organization is doing much more important work for humanity.

Carry on.

Bad Headline

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading over the news wires today and noticed this headline:

Marines Kill 10 Militants in Fallujah

Hummm... By this time your Maximum Leader would have thought we'd have killed more than ten.

And if you haven't read the Opinion Journal peice today about killing insurgents not making insurgencies stronger, you should.

Carry on.

Reservations on Rice

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about Condi Rice becoming Secretary of State for a few days. He's been jotting down little thoughts here and there in a little notebook. The thoughts, he thought, could be strung together into a nice post later this week. But as your Maximum Leader may not have time this week to string thoughts together, it is time to be derivative.

Your Maximum Leader's train of thought on the Condi Rice appointment is rather close to Bill's over on INDC Journal. She has great credentials, and certainly understands the issues. But is her natural temprement agressive enough to deal with the "State'ers" AND promote and advance the President's foreign policy objectives?

As for Condi's sex... Well, your Maximum Leader thinks that is less of an issue. The countries we are dealing with in the Muslim world (and by this your Maximum Leader means directly dealing with) are led by, for the most part, secular despots with an affection for the west. They are not the problem. The people who would most have a problem with talking with a woman represenative are the ones most likely to be on the receiving end of fire from a Marine or Ranger.

Your Maximum Leader's concerns are, as he's stated above, her natural disposition and if it would help/hurt her effectiveness. And one other. Condi is, obviously, close to the President's and Vice President's view on how US diplomacy should be managed. With Powell's departure, should the President be trying to replace the "voice" he had in the Adminstration. This is not to say he would need to appoint a Secretary of State who shared Powell's views. But should he have someone in his diplomatic/defence bag of tricks who would reflect a more moderate tone? Your Maximum Leader thinks it would be best if he did.

Carry on.

Compatibility Redux.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader recently took a "Compatibility Test" on the Rum & Monkey site. Indeed, here is the post with the results.

Since that posting, some other minions have taken the test and your Maximum Leader will now share some results...

The Big Hominid was 65% compatible with your Maximum Leader.

Our lonely francophone minion, VeronaMercutio was 90% compatible with your Maximum Leader. Who by the way posted a wonderful photo that your Maximum Leader ruthlessly stole. Wanna see it? Well you can go to his site, or you can click here.

The Smallholder was 68% compatible with your Maximum Leader.

And the highly esteemed Bill of Bill's Comments is 75% compatible with your Maximum Leader.

Well, who'da thunk that so many minions would be so compatible with your Maximum Leader. You all get your own individual doffing of your Maximum Leader's bejeweled floppy hat.

Carry on.