Ghost Stories

Practically the only ghosts at VMI are First Classmen in good standing and with a full tank of gas. Because VMI’s history as an armory, and as a source of military personnel – some of whom were killed in action – and accidents, VMI takes on a dark cast whenever the sun goes down. While not as scary as the Clifton Bunnyman, there is plenty of creepiness on the post, not just in Smith Hall.
Folks have reported tears coming from Virginia as she mourns her dead. People have seen blood coming from the painting above the altar in JM Hall – a field of lost shoes, and lost souls? In 80s there was a portrait of a cadet which had been painted over a an earlier work of a woman kneeling. Legend went that the woman was the mother of the cadet, who’d been killed in battle. This was one of many legends at VMI.
Two of my BRs broke two legends: First Rat Sentinel never graduates, until BR Cheadle graduated; and no Cadet of Yankee origin who lived over Washington Arch, where General Jackson lay in state, ever graduated.
Given the violence regularly perpetrated on the 5th Stoop, initially as a room for several BR until attrition took effect, and then as HQ of the RDC, it’s little wonder folks have reported oddities.
For myself, the stacks of Preston Hall were too much. I was assigned a carrel there during Rat year and I used it three or four times. After midnight the library takes on a very different nature. I spent the rest of cadetship studying either in Shipp Hall or in the barracks. Nothing against the library, but it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
What sealed the deal for me was an incident that occurred during Second Class Year, when 90 allowed 89 to believe it ruled barracks. My four roomies and I were studying in the room. We were in winter uniform and it was a clear, not too cold night. Jim had his back to the door and his earphones on, but we could still hear Metallica in spite of that. So, Charles (his Christian name, not what we called him) had his bluegrass music turned up in obstinate competition. Bull from Bayonne (he looked like Bull from Night Court) was caught in the middle, as was usual, and going bald from rubbing his scalp. Jeff was talking to the air about becoming a marine (which he did) and I was doing my usual attempt to study.
Not that I’d certify that last statement. Honest.
The stick hadn’t run and it was one of the few nights I didn’t get into trouble. Cursed, demonic stick!
It was over in a second. A grey figure moved across our door. Four of us, except Jim, saw it. “Did you see that?” Four people, except Jim, rushed the door. No one on the stoop(we lived in Gold Coast). No one on the stairs above or below. No one on the stoop above or below us. Nothing on the ceiling of our stoop. No one and nothing.
What got the four of us going was just how smooth the whatever it was moved. Humans bounce, even the Marines at 8th & I have some movement as they walk. Same with the Old Guard, same with anything on wheels. This was flat, smooth and consistent.
Practical joke? If so it was a damned good one. The five of us packed up our books and Jim went off to wherever EE majors study, and the rest of us headed to Shipp Hall, where civilized folk study. Well, except for English majors. The Daniels Den regularly filled with cigarette smoke and BS as English majors discussed the presuppositionalist themes of “The Farmer’s Daughter.” The Daniels Den was known for the Demon of Incoherency possessing its denizens.
VMI is a place where alumni return for any number of reasons. Some never leave. There have been fatal accidents in VMI’s past. There was even a murder. In 1854, Cadet Thomas Blackburn pushed one button too many. Scion of one of Virginia’s top 10 families, Blackburn has crossed a young professor Thomas J. Jackson and had been kicked out of school. Blackburn’s family got him reinstated so Blackburn felt obligated to act the ass. Until he was murdered in the churchyard in downtown Lexington.
Blackburn’s murder, and Major Jackson’s subsequent investigation have all the hallmarks of a fine gothic tale: a castle-like barracks, an old churchyard, indolence and privilege, money, political power as a favorite son oppressed an orphan, and the eternal snit between VMI and Washington & Lee, Virginia’s Masonic Master Lodge, even what became known at VWIL . And, a woman. Read all about it! Or you can ask Blackburn himself
Posted in History, Humor, Just for Fun, Rockbridge County, VMI | 6 Comments

Range Time!

Got to spend some true quality time at the range today, with MDL, Wang, G-Tex (of CivDiv Designs fame) and several others. G-Tex and I arrived early to do some detailed work on the outstanding 100-yard indoor range; he sighted in his new Ruger 10/22 take-down model and I got the Swiss K-31 dialed in.

Back on the 50-yard lanes we commenced a steady fusillade of hot copper and lead from ARs, .45s, 9mms, 22s, an AK, an FAL, a Marlin 30-30, an M44 Mosin-Nagant (impressive fireball and muzzle blast, there), an ’03 Springfield and a sporterized K98 Mauser.

All hands departed smiling and roused.

Posted in Arms and the Citizen | Leave a comment

The Hungarian Revolution

We missed by two days the 60-year anniversary of the brave Hungarian uprising against the evil Communist occupation.

Here’s a very good article recounting one man’s escape from the hell on earth that Marxism creates.  (I’m surprised CNN’s editors allowed the blatant anti-Communist content to see the light of day.)

Likewise, a good photo collection in Time, of all places, with excellent quotes as the events unfolded.

And let us not forget what the Reds did to the Church behind the Iron Curtain, especially the Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty.  They reap what they sow.

The Eastern Europeans have consistently shown us the path to resistance, century after century. I hope we take heed!

Posted in History, Resistance | Leave a comment

When you get overpaid, you pay it back

When 10,000 Soldiers get overpaid while in the National Guard because the Pentagon and the NGB made a mistake.  Why should they have to pay it back.  We all remember during the height of the war how the bonuses were flowing to Active and Reserve Component Soldiers.  It appears in California, the largest of the National Guard organizations, has almost 10,000 Soldiers that have to pay back the bonuses they were paid.  To hold them accountable because retention NCOs and Officers didn’t cross their Ts and dot their Is seems horrible.  This is not just a problem for CalGuard, it’s problem for the NGB.  Some of the incentive program officials have been held accountable as stated in this LA Times article, but the DoD is placing a tremendous burden on Soldiers who served honorably and sacrificed a tremendous amount of their lives for the cause.  But as I recall once being overpaid, I saved that money because the next month DFAS took it back.



Posted in Afghanistan, Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Iraq, Leadership, Readiness, The Long War, Uncategorized, Veterans' Issues | 6 Comments

What Is Worth Conserving?

This year’s election season has been a wild one, with rhetoric slung about like a mastiff’s saliva shaken from its head. One word you’ve undoubtedly read and heard is “conservative.” Usually the word is given as a pejorative, which is reflective of the ignorance surrounding how we use words. A conservative is generally defined as a person who wishes to uphold the current conditions and oppose change. This is a good working definition, like french fries are good working definition of a loaded baked potato.
This suggests thought that is rigid to such a degree as to break stone and this is where the negative comes in: a conservative can never change. Only liberals can change, and only Progressives can take us forward. This is rhetorically true because of the definitions of the words; but, these don’t capture the essence of conservatives, liberals, and certainly not Progressives. To know these in truth one first asks three questions:
  1. What shall be conserved?
  2. What shall be changed?
  3. What is Progress and how shall it be measured?
We defined conservatives above, but not what they want to conserve. The clamor of voices proclaim liberty, lower taxes, religious practice and guns. This isn’t a complete list, but it also isn’t a list of causes – just rewards. The rewards for? The rewards of? These are the rewards of five transcendental desires of humans which have been protected in America by five institutions.
The five transcendental desires are for knowledge of and life in Perfect Truth, Perfect Love, Perfect Justice, Perfect Beauty and Perfect Peace. How complete a knowledge of these is subject to debate, but humans generally strive to get as close to perfect as can be achieved. The five institutions are Church, School, Science, Medicine and Military. These ten are the what shall be conserved.
Plato, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas teach us that we can know each of these desires perfectly because the cause is commensurate with the effect. By this they mean we can eventually know Perfect Truth because Perfect Truth reveals itself. Another way of looking at it is this way: you can know Perfect Truth because you know what a lie is, you know what is incorrect, and that which is less than perfect.
You see this in children and in hobbyists: first comes the observation, then exploration to find the answers to the why, where, when, who, and how. Whether it’s an observation of a bird in flight or a military diorama of Waterloo, or whatever,  every person is sparked with the desire to know the truth.
Similarly we seek Perfect Justice. Ask any child, once caught in mischief but whose sibling went unnoticed, if it is fair for one to be punished and not the other. What is Justice but that consequence (reward or punishment) for an action taken?
America’s Founders took five institutions which were created elsewhere, and embedded them within American life to such a degree that for most of America’s life it has confounded history. Groups that are in opposition to each other find in America a common cause. An example of that is Archbishop Charles Chaput‘s examination of Governor John Winthrop’s writings on reliance on community and in God. Roman Catholics 200+ years removed are learning from Puritans sent into exile to America.
The first institution of conservation is Church. Which church? Whichever one places its reliance on community and in God. America has a Protestant past that is based on Reform Theology of Calvin, Knox and Zwingli. America also has a Jewish and Catholic past wherein Moses Maimonides comfortably shakes hands with the Pope. The Church provided the framework for knowing of the existence of the Five Transcendental Desires, and the context for understanding them and for understanding why imperfection was both human and not to be conserved.
The absence of church is not the absence of Church – substitute a nothing for a cross or menorah but retain the basic moral teachings (don’t murder, steal, and so on) and you are still being Churched. The transcendent desires are resident in all humans.
The next three institutions sprung directly from the heart of the Church: School, Science and Medicine. Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all began as places where priests and pastors learned. There is the argument that faith and science do not mix and that is a false argument. Go back to the first transcendent desire: to know Perfect Truth. Science and Medicine, learned in school, can answer the what, where, when, who and especially the how. They fail to answer the why and therefore make the truth complete and perfect.
Church, working through the School took Science and Medicine out of the realm of magic and gave them discipline and purpose. Church also heavily influenced the Military, which makes perfect sense. What institution is always called upon to uphold all of America’s best instincts? We know that killing every living thing in an enemy state, or inflicting a horror that lasts several generations is the way to lasting peace, but we always, always pull our punches, even when it means an American will die. The Military’s twin focuses are Perfect Justice, which informs the Perfect Truth of America in combat through the governance of the Geneva Convention, Just War Theory and the Code of Conduct. We want our war to be conducted in proportion to the offense to our national person. The Military isn’t focused on Peace except as an object for the citizens to enjoy.
These five institutions are what shall be conserved. These institutions are exactly the flashpoints in our social war. Mao Zedong used the term ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture Lenin’s and his strategy of indirect approach to defeat the Five Transcendental Truths. Mao, Marx and d Lenin all worked for the same Master and to the same goal: the snuffing out of objective Truth.
The purpose of the Church is to transfer knowledge so that a human may discern his purpose in life, in gratitude; and, to restore that person to moral health and gratitude in order to achieve the human’s purpose in life. In some religions there is also the discipline of a relationship with God or god(s). The Church shot itself in the foot. There is an anecdote of an exchange between Pope Pius VII and Napoleon. Napoleon, flush with victory declared he would destroy the Catholic Church. The Pope smiled and replied ‘how can you accomplish where 1700 years of Popes and Bishops failed?’ Sex scandals, doctrinal heterodoxy, and imposition of the false narrative that all religious are Elmer Gantrys and satanic predators have undermined the Church in America. This rebellion began almost as soon as America was born, and culminated in the 1920s disintegration of the orthodoxy of “mainline” churches. Still, what can be saved, shall be saved. This is because there is no other means of knowing the 5 Transcendent Desires exist and are knowable.
The purpose of School is to transfer knowledge so that the human may achieve the wisdom and achieve his purpose in life. The knowledge and wisdom are objective, not subjective. The School today is marked by three communist attributes: 1) collectivization (forcing children into groups such as a class, or even ‘learning groups’ in school in which the majority answer is the correct answer); 2) suppression of knowledge (surprising how many people do not know Abraham Lincoln was a Republican or that the GOP was the force in pushing the Civil Rights legislation into law); and 3) violence powered by having the Transcendental Desire for Perfect Truth and knowing they can’t learn it under the communist NEA. We sometimes call this ‘cognitive dissonance’ such as the current trend of African-Americans creating “Separate but Equal” housing, education, and economy. This is Progress? Dred Scott, was the Supreme Court correct in handing you back to a slave-owner. Dred Scott, are you property? I’m sure Dr. Martin Luther King would vehemently agree with me.
I find it humorous that professors are being run off of campus so that effective education has ended in the Ivy League. Students paying money, and administrators who serve as landlords accepting that money is the future’s “accredited, educated leaders.” The latest trend in School is to compare Science (and Medicine) to Magic. Yes, magic. Not the sleight-of-hand fare but the chicken-beheading hoodoo pagan practices. Because. Progress! A wise man once said that you can learn all there is to learn at the Public Library, and it’s just bus fare.
He hasn’t been to a library then. Much censorship. Too much. The School and it’s playmate the library must be conserved as places of Truth – Truth that is objective and unchanging gives growth. From data comes information. From information comes knowledge. From knowledge comes wisdom. That is worth conserving.
Science has been separated from that which gives it purpose and leads to perfection. You may have heard of Scientism – it is a religious belief that all things can be explained by Science. Except dark matter. And why Grandpa died of the cancer. And why scientific experiments have exactly the outcome the scientists’ sponsors paid for.
Scientists are human, and who doesn’t want to drive a Beemer? Well, besides me? Scientists remind me of Clark Griswold in the “Christmas Vacation” movie. His singular achievement as a scientist? Making a coating for an oat cereal so it slips down the throat. Scientism has lead to the undermining of science, of experimentation, of peer review and experiment output reproduction, of the spread of knowledge.
Quiz: which is more dangerous: fat, or sugar?
The essence of science: the means to learn about a phenomena, to learn objective truth, without regard to where the truth leads is to be conserved. The monetizing of science, bad science, even magic-as-science is not worthy of conservation.
By disconnecting Church and School you get a disconnect of Science from support and defense of the 5 Transcendent Desires. Medicine, which is equally dependent on School and Science is in the same boat. We’ve come leaps and bounds from Galen, and yet…
The doctors used to be respected and even held in awe. They are The Smart People. The Elite of Scientists, of Schooled People, who possess altruisms aligned with the Church. That isn’t true, is it?
What is the purpose, the truth of Medicine? It is to 1) maintain the health of the human in order for that human to achieve his purpose in life; and 2) to restore the human to a condition of health that permits the human to achieve his purpose in life. What is Medicine today in America? Whether one prefers Single-payer (meaning someone else pays for you) or Obamacare or the VA and Indian Health Service, your doctor does not have the freedom to Medicine.
Life-saving surgery? Not if can’t be paid for. In the past your doctor made that call on whether you lived or died, and today it’s a college graduate with a degree in Women’s Studies who thinks Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy is either a hated boy-band from the UK, or something too expensive to pay for with this year’s budget. Thank goodness it’s only a procedure for kidney stones and not a esophagectomy to remove cancer!
What to conserve here? The principle of Subsidiarity gives direction: the human and the doctor are the ones who decide. Not the government. Not the bank. Maintain the human’s health or restore it as best as Science allows.
Which leads us to the Military. Where to begin? The purpose of the Military is inherently conservative. “This We’ll Defend.” What are we defending? Today’s school children are being told that America is the world’s all-time greatest evil. Every immigrant is enslaved, brutalized, and every single woman is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. From Kindergarten through post-doctorate the School teaches that America is too evil to exist.
Semper Fidelis! To what are we being faithful to? Racism? Sexism? Wanton slaughter of Mexicans as they come across the border?
By denying truth, you deny the Military its purpose. Private Manning is getting changed into the appearance of a woman. Private Manning betrayed this country and is being rewarded with free housing, free food, companionship, and now a new body. In the meantime, the Army is refusing to pay the medical bills of a full-time, Active Duty captain in the USAR. The captain didn’t betray his country, but he did have a heart attack during an APFT.
This wasn’t defended. The Military is required to behave in faithlessness. A while back Slater discussed the firing of a 2-star Army general who was faithless to his wife. To what is that general, and our Military faithful to?
Conserving the Military as the faithful defenders of America and American ideals and preserving American lives – even at the ruthless expenditure of non-American lives – is the goal. This isn’t Nationalism with red, white and blue bunting but the conservation of the means of ensuring Americans are free to know and eventually realize each of the 5 Transcendent Truths.
In closing, consider the 3 questions posed at the beginning of this essay. What is to be conserved? What is to be changed? What is progress and how is it measured? For me, America should make the effort to conserve the capability of knowing of and of knowing the 5 Transcendent Truths through the 5 Institutions. As each institution has been overwhelmed by the Progressives taking us back to 1150 CE, there is more to change and less power to do so because there is no knowledge. There is no wisdom. That means true conservatives are in fact liberals because of the need to make changes to restore the foundational institutions and freedoms to pursue happiness: the 5 Transcendental Desires.
Posted in History, Stray Voltage | Leave a comment

Loss of an Ally

An ally of decades’s standing:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Thursday that he was “separating” from the United States and embracing China as the new best friend of the Philippines.

The 71-year-old president, famous for blunt, often profane rhetoric, announced his country’s realignment in a state visit to Beijing, where he was hailed as China’s new “brother.’’

An ally in possession of superb, if somewhat neglected, naval and air bases. Imagine those being put back into shape and turned against us. What does the loss and counter-possession of Subic and Clark mean for Taiwan, Guam, Okinawa and even Japan?

Duterte is a loon, but that doesn’t mean he’s not serious. I hear people in the place where I work say, “Oh, I think he a coup or two in his future,” but what if that’s not true? If this is a done deal, then the Philippines-China deal is an enormity.

Another loss in the ongoing destruction– increasingly seen as the ongoing deliberate act that it is– of American primacy and strategic strength. A military understrength and underfunded, allies deserting, and adversaries laughing. Fundamental transformation, indeed.

I want my country back.

Posted in China, Strategy | 3 Comments

Iraqi Refugee Becomes US Marine

Good story, sent by way of Tango Seven-Six hisself:

Lance Cpl. Amanda Issa — who as a teenager fled the violence of her native Mosul ahead of the arrival of the Islamic State — now proudly wears the Eagle, Globe and Anchor of her childhood heroes, a coveted distinction earned a day after becoming a U.S. citizen.

“I was one of those kids that always ran after the Humvees,” the 21-year-old laughed about growing up in Iraq’s second-largest city after the ousting of Saddam Hussein. “There were a lot of [American] military there — Army, Navy — but the Marines were different.”

The Marines, she recalled, always acted more polite, friendly and professional than others — and they were more fit.

Welcome aboard, Marine.

Posted in Iraq, Marine Corps | Leave a comment