Stark Relief



Semper Fi

The story of a heroic Marine; here's another recounting of the story by a Marine who was there. I should point out that Sgt. Rafael Peralta's actions were not selfless as frequently described in these links; for what could be a better demonstration of the value that he placed upon his fellow Marines?

On a similar topic, here's a history of the inspiring Marines' Hymn.

When addressing West Point students, Ayn Rand told them,
In conclusion, allow me to speak in personal terms. This evening means a great deal to me. I feel deeply honored by the opportunity to address you. I can say--not as a patriotic bromide, but with the full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots--that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. There is a kind of quiet radiance associated in my mind with the name West Point--because you have preserved the spirit of those original founding principles and you are their symbol. There were contradictions and omissions in those principles, and there may be in yours--but I am speaking of essentials. There may be individuals in your history who did not live up to your highest standards--as there are in every institution--since no institution and no social system can guarantee the automatic perfection of all its members; this depends on an individual's free will. I am speaking of your standards. You have preserved three qualities of character which were typical at the time of America's birth, but are virtually nonexistent today; earnestness--dedication--a sense of honor. Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service--it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue. Some of you may not be consciously aware of it. I want to help you realize it.

The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest--as the armies of other countries have done in their histories--only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of a man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. No other army in the world has achieved it. You have.

West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on--which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious.

Since I came from a country [the USSR] guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you.
I feel the same way about all of our Armed Forces, and I'm pretty sure she did, too.


The ideal mouse?

Apparently, researchers have been able to train paralyzed people to move a computer cursor by thinking about it; even better, they have been able to do this by monitoring the brain's energy just outside the scalp, not requiring any surgery [although I would guess that it may require shaving your head, although that is not mentioned]. The article talks about its potential solely to paralyzed people, but I can imagine something like this being very useful once it reachs a stabler level. It has to be less conducive to developing carpal tunnel than using a mouse is. [Hat tip: TIA Daily]


How religious are we?

This poll surprised even me; a taste:
Seventy-nine percent of Americans believe that, as the Bible says, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, without a human father, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll on beliefs about Jesus.

Sixty-seven percent say they believe that the entire story of Christmas—the Virgin Birth, the angelic proclamation to the shepherds, the Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men from the East—is historically accurate. Twenty-four percent of Americans believe the story of Christmas is a theological invention written to affirm faith in Jesus Christ, the poll shows. In general, say 55 percent of those polled, every word of the Bible is literally accurate. Thirty-eight percent do not believe that about the Bible.[emphasis added]


Reason number 8,241,734 why the UN is, de facto, an evil organization

At Belmont Club, Wretchard discusses the recommendations of a United Nations panel for making institutional changes to the UN. The big unstated reason is to try and restrain the United States. With a big dose of moral relativism and Just War Theory:
"It said that if the arguments for "anticipatory self-defense" in such cases were good ones, they should be put to the Security Council, which would have the power to authorize military action under guidelines including the seriousness of the threat, the proportionality of the response, the exhaustion of all alternatives and the balance of consequences. Apparently in anticipation of objections from Washington over that requirement, the report said, 'For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of nonintervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all.'"[International Herald Tribune]