Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
NGC3132 ©
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.

E = M

Energy is eternal delight.
William Blake

Impearls: 2003-01-12 Archive

Earthdate 2003-01-14

The Lessons of Rome in an Age of Terror

Victor Davis Hanson has a fine piece in the 2003-01-13 OpinionJournal called “‘Bomb Texas’: The psychological roots of anti-Americanism.”  (The article also appeared in the 2002-12 issue of Commentary.)

It's a competent article on its subject's theme, delving into phenomena of and explanations for the rise of anti-Americanism among what used to be called the intelligentsia (now grown into the hundreds of thousands of Cassandras amidst the horn of plenty).  The article is well worth reading in its entirety.

Hanson really comes into his own, however, in my view, when he unbundles his historical acumen to relate the present situation of widespread demoralizing and corrosive cynicism with that of an earlier age.  Hanson writes:

The anti-Americans often invoke Rome as a warning and as a model, both of our imperialism and of our foreordained collapse.  But the threats to Rome's predominance were more dreadful in 220 b.c. than in a.d. 400.  The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but of something happening within that was not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing.  Earlier Romans knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the alternative, and why their culture had to be defended.  Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared.

The example of Rome, in short, is an apt one, but in a way unintended by critics who use passing contemporary events as occasions for venting a permanent, irrational and often visceral distrust of their own society.  Their creed is really a malady, and it cries out to be confronted and exposed.

I'm no historian myself, but I've read fairly extensively in Roman (especially late Roman) history, and I can affirm that Hanson's precisely right on here.  What killed Rome was not the sort of debauchery usually supposed by the historically naive, as exemplified perhaps by the shenanigans dramatized in the justly-acclaimed miniseries I, Claudius.  Those days occurred, in fact, at the very beginning of the Roman Empire, when it was near the height of its power.  By the time the (Western) Roman state fell to the barbarians, more than four centuries later, the bulk of the Empire had been converted to Christianity, and the mood in general was much more somber and certainly less sensual.

Hanson's summation, “Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared,” is an accurate portrayal, as best I can make out, of those times.  The Roman Senate was strongly pacifist in outlook, for example.  The concept that the dangers of the day demanded upright citizenship, unity and responsibility, was an idea and ideal often lost in the bedlam, the intellectual confusion, and as we see today, corrosive cynicism of the institutions on which their society was built.  As Hanson says, it was primarily that, not a lack of military strength per se, that drove the (Western) Roman Empire to its doom.

The Eastern Roman Empire, by the way, survived an additional thousand years, a fact often overlooked — and certainly reason to think that the fall of Rome wasn't “foreordained.”

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GPS Jamming

Sgt. Stryker comes through again!  CPO Sparkey at Sgt. Stryker does a fine piece "Grooaannn, Not This GPS Jammer Crap Again!," effectively debunking the media hysteria over the last few days about the reported Iraqi purchase of "GPS jammers."  (I'd thought the idea that the U.S. military would all of a sudden be confronting for the first time the possibility that someone might try to jam the GPS signals was a little harebrained!  The Global Positioning System was designed, after all, during Soviet times and with a Soviet threat in mind; sophisticated jamming attempts were to be expected.)

CPO Sparkey points not only to an article of his own from last September on this subject (even the "Fox News Exclusive" photo the media has been carrying is the same one that Sparkey linked to back then!), but also to a Boeing press release from 1998 discussing tests going on half a decade ago to circumvent methods of jamming GPS signals.  (As Sparkey says, "Advantage: ME!")  As one might expect, the U.S. Air Force has a whole project, the Anti-Jam GPS Technology Flight Test (AGTFT) program, devoted to this kind of research.

It's also worth noting a reader's comment to the Sparkey article, who points out that even if a GPS jamming method used by an enemy were someday to be successful, it still wouldn't mean JDAM munitions falling randomly like dead hunks of metal (as bombs used to) out of the sky.  Each JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) apparatus on each "smart" bomb, in addition to a GPS receiver, includes an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which can compute the bomb's falling position fairly accurately with no external inputs whatever.

Impearls: 2003-01-12 Archive

Earthdate 2003-01-13

South Korea vs. the North

In his blog, Clayton Cramer links to a powerful visual comparison of the two Koreas: a satellite photo of the peninsula at night.  The image (shown half scale below) speaks eloquently.

Of the plight of the enslaved and starving North Koreans, reduced to eating grass, I'm reminded of T. S. Eliot's memorable words (in Little Gidding, 1942):

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead; the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond
the language of the living.


Impearls: 2003-01-12 Archive

Earthdate 2003-01-12

Poems of the Soul:  There is a Ship  by Tamara Lynn Scott

We have seen the highest circle of spiraling powers.  We have named this circle God.  We might have given it any other name we wished:  Abyss, Mystery, Absolute Darkness, Absolute Light, Matter, Spirit, Ultimate Hope, Ultimate Despair, Silence.
Nikos Kazantzakis, 1948

There is a ship
that always rides into,
your dreams,
your soul,
the heart of you,
where you always go,
to the land you sail.

There's a part of you that's never free
of what has been,
seen so selectively,
of mind enslaved,
of never freed,
the long dead past,
no complicity,
no hand,
of distant,
victim us,
and living perpetrators,
the all,
the them,
and Them.

Some call it "White".
Some call it "Black".
Some call it "American".
Some call it "Ben Laden".
Some call it "Arab".
Some call it "Power".
Some call it "Oil".
Some call it "Bush".
Some call it "Blame".
Some call it "Republican".
Some call it "Democrat".
Some call it "Money".
Some call it "Gain".
Some call it "Whatever they want".

Some cry out loud
for what they think they've never had.
for what they believe,
backed up with
the stamp of God,
Jesus Christ,

All blamed for the fight,
raging in the breast,
the Wound,
the Beast.

Loose in every eye,
raged in sanctimony,
for what must live,
and what must die,
and who must fall,
and who must try,
and who is sinful,
and who must pay,
and who is sinless,
and who has say.
and who is judge,
and who is wise.
and who gets the resources,
who has to work,
who has to fight.

the spirit cries,
this is the fall,
the hell.

Egged on
to hold another accountable for,
the person that you are,
the rise,
the fall.

Within the heart,
is the heart of all.

Yet in blindness we remain.

For none has the key to lift you up,
none has the words to set you free.
The magic must be

To the beginnings of all eternity,
where the seed takes start,
to where the whole takes wind,
in and of
all that is,
to perfect place,
perfect give,
to all create,
pushing to make,
each more perfect,
each more friend,
to freedom of create.
to all receive
exactly what they've made,
To all can be
what is given soul to shape,
worlds and levels of all you conceive.

Mind and heart give to each,
the god you serve.

There is a ship
that is always sailing,
out of the darkness
into the light,
into new freedom,
new arrive,
new up,
new right,
future place.

Some call it "Love".
Some call it "Hate".

Perfection of being,
you get
what you are,
what you create.

There is a ship
comes sailing in,
on Christmas day
in the morning,
of light,
and hope,
of heart,
and see,
of new born belief.

There is a ship.

© Copyright 2002, 2003 Tamara Lynn Scott.  Published by permission of author.


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