Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Big Day

Happy anniversary! Today makes 232 years since "the shot heard 'round the world". A day when the American people finally stood up to fight against a repressive government.

Here's a prayer that people remember this fight. Remember that it wasn't easy- it cost blood and treasure, and took another six years of fighting, but it ended in a victory for Liberty. The leaders of the time were incredible men, who knew the risks they ran, but took them anyway. They risked death and financial ruin; but stood up for what was Right rather than what was Easy. Hopefully we can remember the courage- both physical and moral- that they showed.

To celebrate this occasion, I'll throw out a few quotes from a favorite book on the War, The American Heritage Book of The Revolution, by Bruce Lancaster and J.H. Plumb.

(Another favorite that I discovered a couple years ago is Washington's Crossing by D.H. Fischer. Can't recommend it highly enough).


"Day was just breaking, clear and unseasonably warm, with premature appleblossoms shimmering in roadside orchards, as [Royal Marine Major John] Pitcairn and his men wound down the curving hill that leads past Munroe's Tavern into Lexington. They could hardly have been surprised to see two companies (the Minute and the Alarm) in battle order on the near end of the Green, nor the slanting shadows of many men moving through nearby woods and fields.... "(p. 95)


"Over in Concord, men waited through the dark hours, knowing only that a British column was headed north out of Boston, with their own town its probable objective.....

...Concord might have been lacking in military dash, but it had that cold courage which enables men to march out into the unknown, to pick up coolly whatever cards Fate has thrown face down." (p. 96)


"...But a single awesome thought must have occurred to every militiaman-'We've fired on the King's troops!'-a far more serious matter than making inflammatory speeches , writing seditious letters, or dumping tea at Griffin's Wharf." (p. 98)


"...From path and road and field the militia closed in on the column, firing from behind stone walls, from behind houses and woodpiles and sheds. Men ran out of ammunition and went home. Men were killed as the light infantry swept the flanks of the attackers. Men were frightened by bullets that, in the words of one participant, 'whistled well,' and gave up the fight. But always more men and more companies were arriving, so that the British column marched through 'a veritable furnass of musquetry.' A stand was attempted, but [British commander Colonel Francis] Smith was wounded and Pitcairn lost his horse and pistols, and the retreat became a rout, with redcoated veterans of unquestioned courage and discipline throwing away arms and equipment as they ran...." (p.99)


"...What mattered was that a call had been sent out, and men by the thousands, from all walks of life, had answered it. That answering marked not only a day on a calendar but a turning point in the life of a whole continent. An old order died on the nineteenth of April, 1775, simply because so many ordinary citizens believed so deeply in what underlay that call." (p. 100)

"... An immense, glowing horseshoe of scattered lights was closing in an arc about Charlestown and Boston, an arc thickened by the fires of companies from the central and western parts of the Province, still arriving in response to that call.

Those fires, flaring and ebbing and flaring, burned on through the changing seasons of 1775 and 1776. They saw the British fleet carry away the troops who had drawn triggers at the little bridge near Concord. Then they sank into the silver gray of their ashes, only to spring up again, not merely the fires of a Provincial army, but of an American army- on Long Island, in the Jerseys, below Quebec, in Pennsylvania, down in the Carolinas and Georgia, and, at last, before Cornwallis' lines between the York and the James rivers in Virginia."(p.100)


I guess that's enough for now. Hard to make any sort of editorial comments on this sort of thing, except to hope that we- the descendants and successors of these men- will live up to the glorious standards of courage and integrity that they set.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another scary thought

[Thanks and a Tip to Callimachus (link below) for broadening my horizons a bit on this one.]

Speaking again of the events at Va. Tech., I just found a thought that has been percolating in the back of my mind all along. According to the information we now have, it appears that Cho first shot a woman and an RA at a dorm. Then, he possibly returned to his room. Now here's the question. Did nobody see him at the dorm? The thought is that he went and shot the woman, and the RA came to investigate and died for his (her?) curiosity. Then what? He apparently just walked out of the building, and went home. (I'm assuming that he lived in a different dorm, as I've heard nothing either way)

This bothers me. Given that he had weapons and other people had none, there's probably not much people could have done. But couldn't somebody have peeked out a window or a door and caught a glimpse? It's been a long time since I've been in a campus dorm, but I'm having a hard time with the idea that nobody was around at 0730 or whenever it was. Nobody in the hall or anywhere?

It's just odd to me. Somebody should have looked out in the hallway at some point. I might not have, since I know a gunshot when I hear it, but I suspect many of the students would just wonder what the loud noise was- especially if the shots woke them up. When the police responded, nobody was able to say "I saw an Asian guy walking down the hall right after I heard the shots"?

Not drawing any conclusions, but it just doesn't sit right. My ear is twitching a bit on this one, and I'm not sure why.

Probably just good old fashioned paranoia again.


Some thoughts on the obvious

Well, it's been a couple days, so I suppose it's time for me to comment on the affair at Virginia Tech. So much has been said already that it's hard to have an original thought. Also hard to make note of where an idea came from. I'll try to acknowledge where I learned about something, but as a default, one can always assume Gates of Vienna or Ace.

First off, it's clear that the shooter had serious issues. Most people around him thought he was very very strange... several people have now gone on record claiming that they viewed him as "most likely to go on a killing spree", or even flashed to his name when they first heard there had been a shooting at the school. Here's a tip, one that more people should remember: If your subconscious warns you about a person or situation, then there's a good chance you should be worried. If you haven't already, I would suggest reading this book.

That being said, I doubt that calling the police and saying "I think this guy is creepy and will go nuts someday" is overly valid. What can the police do? What should they do? What do we, as the innocent citizens, want them to do?

Then there's the question of notifying the students. Many claim that the school fell down, and that they weren't warned in a timely fashion. I dunno. The administration probably could have done more, but I'm not sure exactly what or how. It needs to be looked at, in the wide world of things. Emails saying "don't go out" don't seem to have helped much.

One of the bigger and uglier questions regards gun control on campuses. It almost sickened me to learn that the topic was put forth in the Virginia legislature a year before, and was shot down almost immediately. The response was immediate:

At the time, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said he was happy to hear of the bill's defeat, according to the Roanoke Times.

"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus," the Virginia Tech spokesman said.

As somebody said, it might have allowed them to "feel safe", but it seems to have missed out on the actual safety of the people. Reminds me of something I read after September 11, where an Israeli Intelligence official was asked by Congress for his take on airport security in the US. His response was something to the effect of "it's good at what it does... which is give people the illusion that they are safe."

Then there's the story of the instructor who died to save his students. We can never state his name, Liviu Librescu, enough. RIP to a brave and true man. This story has been sticking in my craw since I first read it. To my mind, the idea of diving out a window while an old man stays behind to protect me, is disgusting, despicable, and a few other choice terms. But most of the people I've asked think that it's a product of our culture. The young men in his room have never had somebody demonstrate courage or integrity to them, growing up in the me-centered culture of the US today. This being the case, how could they be expected to do the right thing? As my brother just put it to me, they were in a panic situation and somebody- an authority figure- told them to run. So they ran. True enough, but still...

And today we have this story. So mentioning race is a Bad Thing. Nice to know the media is in favor of censoring information, no? While I suppose it is, strictly speaking, not "germane" as they say, the term "Asian" is a descriptive one. Otherwise, people might assume the killer- or should I say butcher- was, for instance Black. Or Arabic, or whatever. To me, the issue here is simply that, as I said, the term Asian merely describes him, and also provides data that the public has a right to know. But the journalists don't want to tell us. Scary stuff from those that are, in their own minds, the protectors of our freedoms. Ack.

Finally, I have a thought from the "I'm sooo gonna burn in hell for this thought" file. This tragedy having occurred at Virginia Tech, I thought at some point "During all of this, where was Marcus Vick?"

That, folks is a "joke". Admittedly a tasteless one, but there it is. I am not in any way implying that Vick was involved. I'm sure he was not. But given his history, I hope I can be forgiven. If not, then I guess life's really a drag.

My thoughts are with the victims of this tragedy, but probably more with their families. Dymphna from GoV posted a response to a comment I made that describes it perfectly. Scroll down to the comments and read it. I'd post it here directly, but I'm writing on the fly, and won't do so without her permission. Perhaps I'll drop her a note and ask. Meanwhile, wander on down and find the comment. It's worth the effort.