Hovenweep

What a name for a place.

between 1150-1350 these structures were built in, around, and above this canyon:

Gotta check that out sometime:

Was this era in the American Southwest something like roughly the same period, the early 12th century in Ireland:

To be glib, early medieval Ireland sounds like a somewhat crazed Wisconsin, in which every dairy farm is an armed at perpetual war with its neighbors, and every farmer claims he is a king.

Or was Hovenweep perhaps something more like a monastery?

Some Anasazi taking the Benedict Option?

Thought this was a good trip report from Hovenweep.

Got to Hovenweep trying to read about traditional architecture in the American desert regions. What kinds of buildings have people with few tools and tech built?  What lasts?

This guy took on the challenge of building a pit house and kiva.

Easier than a kiva would be a false kiva:

John Fowler for wikipedia

 

 


Fairy Fort

My assistant shows us the height of the walls.

This part of the fort was too well defended to explore.

Note the width of the walls.  This suggests fairies of significant size.  Not inconceivable that these fairies stood as high as five or even six apples.

The inhabitants of the fort wallow in safety.

Many forts like this can be found in Ireland, sometimes billed as “Iron Age forts.” When was the Iron Age?

The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record. This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire c. 550 BC (considered historical by virtue of the record by Herodotus) is usually taken as a cut-off date, in Central and Western Europe the Roman conquests of the 1st century BC. The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning Viking Age.

The distant and mysterious past, in other words. 

Insight into the “crazed Wisconsin” period of Irish history.


Wars Of The Irish Kings

In fact, land in pre-twelfth century Ireland had little political value.  Although there were rich plains, it was not a farming culture but a decentralized grazing one in which wealth was measured in cattle.  There were no cities, and the kingdoms, which rarely had roads or clearly defined boundaries, were separated by a dense forests and bogs, which were more of a deterrent to travel (or easy military movement) than the mountains.  A reading of the  sometimes-cryptic early annals suggests and endless series of battles and cattle raids.  To be glib, early medieval Ireland sounds like a somewhat crazed Wisconsin, in which every dairy farm is an armed at perpetual war with its neighbors, and every farmer claims he is a king.

Some tite illustrations in the book:

For a dip into Irish history, you can’t top:

The illustrations go a long way towards telling the story.

It’s not all bad. 

Edward McGuire’s portrait of Seamus Heaney.


A real shot

Ryan then took questions. This was the first one: “The President made some new false statements yesterday, notably that there are major terrorist attacks that the media, essentially, isn’t covering. Are you getting concerned at all about his grasp of the truth?”

Ryan shrugged his shoulders.

[…finally he answers]

“Look,” he said. “I’m going to do my job. I’ll let you guys do yours with respect to how you report, or what you don’t report. The problem is we do have a war on terror in front of us. We do have isis trying to conduct terror attacks across the globe. This is a real serious problem. And what I am focussed on is doing our job and making sure our law-enforcement authorities, our military, have the tools to keep us safe.”

from this NYer piece by the great John Cassidy.

Paul Ryan has a real shot at going down in history as a pristine example of cynical soul-selling.

Are the Republicans really for:

  • the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual
  • sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”
  • the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia
  • societal norms and public order
  • the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society
  • the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions
  • a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere

I didn’t pluck those out of thin air, those are exactly what Michael Anton, Bannon advisor, says conservatives should be for in this essay, The Flight 93 Election, his pre-election argument for DT.

Is DT making things better, stronger, or greater on any of those fronts?  How’s his prudent statesmanship?  What message does he send on virtue, morality, character, stability?  He’s rich (maybe) but does he demonstrate industry and thrift?  How’s he on education to inculcate good character and teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia?  “Family values?”

The Republican Party did this to us.  Reince Priebus, Trump chief of staff, is an old Wisconsin buddy of Paul Ryan.

The best case is Paul Ryan is trading all the other values for fighting “the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions” but even he must know by now he’s fighting cannibalism by signing up with a bigger, worse cannibal.

Best case for Ryan is he makes it harder for people to pay for health care first.

Good luck!  Get ‘im, Scott Pelley!


The Generals by Thomas Ricks

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This book is so full of compelling anecdotes, character studies, and surprising, valuable lessons of leadership that I kind of can’t believe I got to it before Malcolm Gladwell or David Brooks or somebody scavenged it for good stories.

Generaling

Consider how hard it would be to get fifteen of your friends to leave for a road trip at the same time.  How much coordination and communication it would take, how likely it was to get fucked up.

Now imagine trying to move 156,000 people across the English Channel, and you have to keep it a surprise, and on the other side there are 50,350 people waiting to try and kill you.

The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment's bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War. Dominic D'Andrea, commissioned by the National Guard Heritage Foundation

The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment’s bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War. Dominic D’Andrea, commissioned by the National Guard Heritage Foundation

Even at a lower scale, say a brigade, a brigadier general might oversee say 4,500 people and hundreds of vehicles.  Those people must be clothed, fed, housed, their medical problems attended to.  Then they have to be armed, trained, given ammo.  You have to find the enemy, kill them, evacuate the wounded, stay in communication, and keep a calm head as many people are trying to kill you and the situation is changing rapidly and constantly.

32nd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ed Hansen, on floor in front of podium, accepts reports from battalion command sergeants major as the brigade forms at the start of the Feb. 17 send-off ceremony at the Dane County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Madison, Wis. Family members and public officials bade farewell to some 3,200 members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and augmenting units, Wisconsin Army National Guard, in the ceremony. The unit is bound for pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a deployment of approximately 10 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Larry Sommers.

32nd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ed Hansen, on floor in front of podium, accepts reports from battalion command sergeants major as the brigade forms at the start of the Feb. 17 send-off ceremony at the Dane County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Madison, Wis. Family members and public officials bade farewell to some 3,200 members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and augmenting units, Wisconsin Army National Guard, in the ceremony. The unit is bound for pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a deployment of approximately 10 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Larry Sommers.

Being a general is a challenging job, I guess is my point.

mattis-and-dempsey

U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, talk on board a C-17 while flying to Baghdad, Dec. 15, 2011.  Source.

I saw this post about Gen. Mattis, possible future Secretary of Defense, on Tom Ricks blog:

A SecDef nominee at war?: What I wrote about General Mattis in ‘The Generals’

The story was so compelling that I immediately ordered Mr. Ricks’ book:

img_8948

A fantastic read.  Eye-opening, shocking, opinionated, compelling.

The way that Marc Norman’s book on screenwriting works as a history of Hollywood:

whn

The Generals works as a kind of history of the US since World War II.   I’d list it with 1491: New Revelations On The Americas Before Columbus as a book I think every citizen should read.

The observation that drives The Generals is this: commanding troops in combat is insanely difficult.  Many generals will fail.  Officers who performed well at lower ranks might completely collapse.

During World War II, generals who failed to perform were swiftly relieved of command.  (Often, they were given second chances, and many stepped up).

Since World War II, swift relief of underperforming generals has not been the case.  The results for American military effectiveness have been devastating.  Much of this book describes catastrophe and disaster, as I guess war is even under the best of circumstances and the finest leadership.

Ricks is such a good writer, so engaging and compelling.  He knows to include stuff like this:

eisenhower

Ricks describes the catastrophes that result from bad military leadership.  How about this, in Korea?:

korea

What kind of effect did this leadership have, in Vietnam?:

fulton

He discusses the relationship of presidents and their generals:

deckers-advice

shitheads

Here is LBJ, years later, describing his nightmares:

lbj

Ricks can be blunt:

westmoreland

Hard lessons the Marines had learned:

advice

marines

Symbolically, There’s a Warning Signal Against Them as Marines Move Down the Main Line to Seoul From RG: 127 General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps National Archives Identifier: 5891316 Local Identifier: 127-N-A3206

A hero in the book is O. P. Smith

smith

who led the Marines’ reverse advance at the Chosin Resevoir, when it was so cold men’s toes were falling off from frostbite inside their boots:

marine-corps-hymn

The story of what they accomplished is incredible, worth a book itself.  Here’s Ricks talking about the book and Smith.

A continued challenge for generals is to understand the strategic circumstances they are operating under, and the political limitations that constrain them.

 

031206-F-2828D-373 Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld walks with Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez after arriving at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on Dec. 6, 2003. Rumsfeld is in Iraq to meet with members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, senior military leaders and the troops deployed there. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

031206-F-2828D-373
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld walks with Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez after arriving at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on Dec. 6, 2003. Rumsfeld is in Iraq to meet with members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, senior military leaders and the troops deployed there. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. (Released) source

iraq

Recommend this book.  One of the best works of military history I’ve ever read, and a sobering reflection on leadership, strategy, and the United States.