Archive for November 2006

Media Matters in Vietnam

November 29, 2006

“Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media for they will steal your honor.” – Bobby McBride, Crew Chief, 128th Assault Helicopter Company, RVN 1969-1970

…you’re a big time media type guy and all……..i was hoping you could thank the media for completely giving up and abandoning everybody who is in and those of us who are going to the suckage……makes us feel like we have a real purpose and all…..just thought they’ld be more inclined to listen to you and all…

This was a response I wrote to this subject.

Dishonor is based upon what your honor code really is. If your honor code sanctions the media, then dishonor obviously ain’t gonna cut it.

The Marines know exactly why they should fear the media. They knew it in Fallujah. They knew it in Haditha. And they know it every freaking time they see CNN cameras draw IEDs and jihadist attacks on themselves, footage bought by Marine lives, used against the mission the Marines are fighting for.

To protect the American people, one of the core rules of honor amongst the Marine Corps. To uphold the traditions of the Corps, to honor the memories of the fallen and those who have gone before. To maintain the tradition of duty and loyalty that the Marines of WWII bought with their sweat and blood. All that, cannot be taken from you by the enemy, not even in death. But the media, they can take your honor away from you, because they can prevent you from honoring the loss of your brothers in arms. They can prevent you from fullfilling your mission to protect the American people. They can prevent you from maintaining the honor of the Corps by broadcasting fake atrocities that they claim the US Marines committed. An illusion that cannot be destroyed by the firepower of a Marine fireteam.

Honor is a hard subject to pin down. Because different cultures have different honor codes, different people have different variations on how they maintain their honor code.

The military was helpless against the media in Vietnam. You fear what you are unable to fight. No matter the courage, no matter the valor or bravery or how their comrades beat unbeatable odds in Vietnam, the media stole all of that. All of the honor, all of the successes, all of the sacrifice. Gone. As if it never was, yet the bodies are still dead aren’t they.

Leyte Gulf. Wake Island. Saipan. People died there. But they are remembered for their honor and for doing their duty, remembered with pride and gratitude. What are the Vietnam generation and veterans remembered for? Are they honored in the same fashion as WWII veterans? By some yes. But mostly America remembers Vietnam as an embarassment, as an American defeat, when we were humbled.

Such a sad state of affairs. It wasn’t the enemy killing our troops that took their honor from them. Dead is dead. But there’s a difference between how people remember your death based upon what the media reported and between how the media caused you to lose. It is a breaking of a promise. You are there to protect the media back home, they should be there to protect you and help you in your mission. Your duty requires you to protect the media, but your honor degrades inch by inch every time you buy a journalist’s life with one of yours, and the journalist provides help to the enemy in turn to kill your buddies. You cannot ignore your duty and at the same time maintain your honor. And yet you cannot do your duty either while the media is there feeding upon your protection.

For this war, imbed journalists aren’t too bad. But their editors, they leech out whatever worth there really is. At the end, the media still takes your honor, regardless. Didn’t blackfive start this blog because he sought to honor the memory of his friend, who died while defending a journalist? What do you really call someone that you have to protect, yet by protecting that person, that person will help the barbarians destroy all that you value and love? Journalist seems a bit inaccurate.

I can easily understand why the Vietnam veterans said that quote.


Dr. Sanity’s Christmas cartoon

November 28, 2006

Check it out, for some laughs.

Some interesting moments from Planescape Torment

November 25, 2006

Sorcerer’s Palace has up a few screenshots of the dialogue in this crpg. Titled Funny NPC Dialogue by Frog. These things aren’t really spoilers, because they don’t have anything to do with the main plot line.

While replaying this game, I had come to realize that its ability to create a rich atmosphere was so complete and well envisioned that I even had sympathy for the undead. One of the storylines of the game plotline. In most rpgs or the Baldur’s Gate series, undead are there for you to kill and there to get in your way. They aren’t people. This is a more serious topic than the very funny dialogue shown in the screen shots here about Annah’s dress and here about Candy Love.

However, it just adds to the richness of the atmosphere. Humans tend to have this mechanism by which we demonize and dehumanize certain groups of people as objects and sub-human, therefore we don’t feel empathy or compassion if they should die. How the Arabs inculcate this in their children, concerning Jews, is a good example. But video game violence is similar in principle, if not effect. When you are just slaughtering a bunch of pixels, that is all they are to you, some game characters. If you start seeing the characters on screen as people, then your societal conditioning and human instincts kick in. In life, this is done by face to face meetings, to put a face on the occupation or friends killed on 9/11. In games, that doesn’t work too well even with precise graphics. In games, words and storylines, the character development used in novels, must be used in order to convey this idea of humanity to the reader and player. When you read words about a person, you are thinking of him as a person, even though he is a fictional character in a fictional world. The game world is the same way, yet so many games try to convey human emotions through graphics. Which is the wrong way to go I believe. The right way is how Planescape Torment did it. Check out the screenshots in the title link, for examples.


I found this review talking about Planescape Torment, with spoiler warnings. It also had a comment section right after it, which did have spoilers. Mostly, though, they were talking about the Sensate portion of the game, not covered in the screenshots.

I thought it was pretty nostalgic. But I wouldn’t recommend people who have not played Planescape Torment to read this. One of the commenters made the point that Planescape Torment like a novel, grabbed you emotionally so that at the end, you didn’t want it to end, or you wanted the story to go on. I felt the same. But alas, to all things there is an end, all that live must die. In an ironic sort of way, playing the game and learning to love the characters and moments in it, prepared for me the shock at the end. Both emotionally and intellectually.

I don’t recommend reading the Torment review if you have not finished the Torment game. So I’ll just write some more concerning why Torment is excellent bar none.

The Sensorium experience is pretty good. I had forgotten it until now. But it was quite emotional, both for the game character and for me who was playing as the game character. Phileosophos used to play, or maybe still plays, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. And he mentioned that Crpgs lacked something that AD and D paper, dice, and face to face gaming had. I didn’t quite get what he was talking about, but I think with Torment I do. In computer rpgs like Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale, the story is about the game mechanics and the spells and the fighting action. In Torment, it is about individual creativity, choices, expression, and character development. So it is indeed more like a novel than a game. For example. When you play Baldur’s Gate II, your sister’s story is weaker than your protagonist’s story. And your protagonist’s story is only told through dreams, not character dialogue. Little Give and take, conversations, discussions. When reading blogs, one of the best things about it is the discussions, the learning. When reading novels, the best thing about it is learning about the characters and seeing them develop and become wiser. In a game like BGII, I found that the best thing was leveling my characters up so they could beat every monster in the game. Or using arcane spell contingencies for my mage, in order to destroy my enemies using creative spell strategies. But it was not about the character interactions between the main character who was a Bhaal Spawn. The dialogue continued to mention that he was the Bhaal Spawn, but there was no surprise about this. What did it mean, how did it affect your soul? None of this was discussed in BGII. So unlike Torment. In fact, one of the best mods for BGII is the Imoen Romance mod. Which adds in quite a lot of backstory and character to Imoen, the sister of the protagonist.

At the end, Chris Avellone made a point that I came to recognize after I had played his game and never even read any interview with the guy.

Read this interview.

I’d say game stories can be a little formulaic at times and a little unpolished, but then I would point up at the sky and say, “Holy s***, look at that!” And when they do, I would punch them in the gut, and while they were gasping for breath, I would lean down and go, “You are wrong. There are several games with compelling stories, stories that achieve greater strength because it’s a story you can interact with. Thus, the experience is even more personal than reading a novel, where you are basically watching the characters go about their adventures without any participation from you except flicking your eyes across the page.” At this point, the person would be about to get up, so I would kick them in the shins and then run.

Interesting. And the same point I made. Which was, the computer experience allowed you to get a more interactive experience, higher than a novel’s. A novel can grip you with emotional ties to the characters, so that you NEED to read the sequel. Well, a game can do the same, except better. Because you are the main character, are you not in this Role Playing Game? It brings the term role playing, to its logical and designed conclusion.

The interview link, is not just with Chris. It has other very very nice video game designers and CEOs. Like KOTOR II with Chris Avellone, like Dreamfall and the Longest Journey. Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear series. Strongly recommended for game afficionados.

Some highlights to whet the thirst.

Q:What specifically about games makes them interesting to you as a storytelling medium? That is, why are you writing stories for games instead of for movies or books?

Chris Avellone: Because video game developers will actually give you a chance. The ability to get your foot in the door as far as story in video games is a lot higher than movies or games, since it’s actually harder to find a decent writer who wants to work in video games–a lot harder than finding programmers and artists, in my opinion, since being a writer seems to require an odd aesthetic sense that doesn’t always translate well into developing games. It requires heavy attention to details, math, logic trees, and a whole mess of other elements.

I find writing for games interesting because I think games are the next untapped ground for storytelling. It’s an interactive entertainment experience, so instead of passively watching a movie or reading a novel, you are actually interacting with the story, which I think is the next stage of entertainment evolution. There’s been a trend of games becoming more like movies and delivering a cinematic experience and drama, and I think that trend will continue. When working on Knights of the Old Republic II, I felt as if we were scripting a movie more than a game at points, and the sheer amount of cinematic direction we (and LucasArts) had for our cutscenes, blocking out character movements and scenery, and then directing the voice actors was staggering.

As I read Chris’s responses, the designer and writer of the Planescape Torment story and game, I tend to realize that his forte and strength is his writing ability. The other designers do not come up to his level in sheer expression and creativity. You have writers that write with a similar level of drama, S.M. Stirling, Eric Flint, or David Weber. But they are not programmers and video game designers at the same time, either. It seems the more skills you bundle up into a person, the more creative that person gets if given a chance.

Ragnar Tørnquist: Technology needn’t get in the way of storytelling unless we focus too much on showing off our cool new shaders and particle effects and not enough on establishing an emotional connection with the player. Technology can definitely facilitate for better storytelling. The best visual stories are just that–visual. There’s that whole “show, don’t tell” rule which has often fallen by the wayside because of technology; The Longest Journey, which I wrote, was definitely an example of that. Mostly everything had to be communicated through dialogues. The more we can show, and thus allow players to figure out for themselves, the better. And nowhere is that more apparent than with human characters. Things like facial expressions and body language enable us to communicate the story in a massively different fashion, making it much more immediate and personal than what’s been possible before.

It needs to be more than a gimmick, however. We need technology that fuels the narrative and the gameplay, and not the other way around. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. We’re still at a gee-whiz stage where every new technological innovation is tossed in there, because gamers will love it. And they do! Hell, I love big explosions as much as the next guy. But we have to look at the technology as a tool, as a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

The Dialectic – Discourse on Human Beings

November 25, 2006

I view it as the pendulum system, a simple system. However, its behavior becomes dynamic when you vary the level of initial force, speed, and height. So if Hegel is refering to opposites and how they interact, then it seems to me, it is simply the truism that if you apply the right force in the right direction, you can make a pendulum not only swing to the right, but so far right you hit the left of the pendulum. Therefore one opposite simply becomes the opposite of itself, or the opposite of the opposite of itself.

VDH called it back biting or was it bite back effect. Where you say and act in one way, when in fact the opposite is true and everyone knows it. Venezuella and gestapo police Fox talking about America and our Berlin walls for example.

So what are they trying to do, are they trying to make America into mirror images of themselves? Or are they trying to make themselves into mirror images of America? Rather, it seems the dialectic process of dialogue becomes simply a method to achieve a goal, that goal independent of spectrums or labels.

The dynamic, that being dictators being the underdogs and America being the top dog, is the meta concept that these dictators using dialogue and the State Depos using dialogue, are trying to overturn. If they apply enough force, then they can overthrow the top dog and make themselves into the leaders and power players. The Shah was said to be more brutal and anti-freedom, compared to the pro-freedom Mullahs. Well. That dialectic came out all right, I think. They succeded in the goal that the dialectic sought.

Another practical application of the oratory dialectic, rather than the philosophical theory, is that of Israel. The meta concept is that Israel and Palestine keeps fighting and that they need to stop. The dialectic for the Palis is that Israelis are the terroists and when Israelis kill, more terroists are born. They want the US to stop supporting Israel.

Well, an opposite dialectic that you could use to counter the dynamic paraxism of the Palis is this. Demand that Israel committ themselves to Total War, a war to the knife and finish, or the US will cut off all military, financial, and diplomatic aid to the state of Israel and begin funding the Palestinian territories with US weapons and money. It’s like Amanie saying he wants nuclear power, it is a smoke screen, a bite back effect. By saying the opposite of what he wants, he thinks he can affect a realistic change towards what he really wants. All these dictators talk about the anti-freedom and weakness of the US, in the attempt to say the opposite of the real in order to change the reality. After all, they don’t criticize us because they really want us to be more free or what not. They criticize us because they want us to be less free and powerful. How do they do this by saying we should be more free and/or powerful? Well, about the same we help the Israelis by threatening to support Palestinian terroists against them and cutting off the aid. It creates an effect. This effect destabilizes the meta concept, and when the meta-concept is destabilized, then the reality changes. These tools always have more than one use, dual use, or manifold uses.

There are ideas and then there are ideas over the ideas. The ideas over the ideas, are the meta-concept. It connects the ideas and rhetoric of a philosophy, into a coherent and consistent whole. So if you listen to the Arabs speak to the West and then listen to them speaking to their jihad folks, you hear different ideas, styles of oration, and rhetoric. It does not mean it is a different philosophy, but the same meta-concept simply expressed through various tentacles of thought and words.

The reason why the US doesn’t say to Israel what Israel needs to hear, is because the US doesn’t understand how to manipulate paradox into crafting reality. The most glib and bureacratic of our government, knows only how to speak in tongues for their own self-aggrandizement and power. When they encounter an ideology that doesn’t believe in personal power so much as a doomsday Final Judgement with a Final Reward in Heaven, their doublespeak is infinitely easier to counter than the jihad’s doublespeak.

The dialectic is used by many people for many different reasons, regardless of what they call it. In point of fact, the dialectic is no longer even the dialectic, because it isn’t a bunch of words written by a philosopher. But the actual mechanical and physical blueprint that human beings have crafted and built. It is what it is because humans are what we are. The principles by which the dialectic work are the same as the principles that humans obey.

Realpolitek from Bush Senior

November 24, 2006

Hattip to Anon, well one anon, at Neo’s comment site for this link.

The realists have it all wrong. This policy was tried for decades on end and it resulted in scenarios where the only prominent opposition to a secular dictator came in the form of even worse religiously fanatical masses. Look for a moment at Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and likeminded Salafists are the main resistance to Mubarak’s rule. Look at the Jordanian kingship, where its people tended to sympathize with Abu al Zarqawi before he started blowing them up. Look at Kuwait – a nation that was liberated by the United States and subsequently ethnically cleansed all Palestinian nomads – where its people polled the highest anti-American sentiment in the region. Look at the Saudi royal family, which brainwash and indoctrinate their youth in systematic fashion in order to get them hating our liberalism just a little bit more than they hate their lack of significance.

Not only must we not talk to our enemies – just ask Sharansky how much he and his fellow dungeon dissidents preferred Reagan’s unapologetic and open moralism to Nixon’s detente – but we must become increasingly suspicious of our once-cherished Arab allies. Dwight Eisenhower once remarked that if one could not solve a problem, he would be wise to enlarge it. The solution to our current quandary in the Mideast is not a reversal and return to the old order, but to rile up a few more hornet nests. We are engaged in an audacious counterinsurgency across hostile Sunni municipalities with hundreds of thousands of indigenous Iraqi allies at our side. If we were to accept any of the ridiculous Vietnam comparisons, at least let us acknowledge that we have not only toppled the adversarial government (which was not done then), but we have also, wisely, skipped the half-decade as loner and have moved on to contemporary Vietnamization.

Keeping the historical analogies alive, if this is in fact the decades-long struggle we are told it is, and victory, as only a determined few define it, rests not only with the capture of specific terrorists or with the continued prevention of domestic attack, but with the transformation of an undemocratic, self-righteously puritanical, and intolerantly hierarchical part of the planet, then let us not embrace a new detente. George Bush Sr., the stone-cold pragmatist, should creep out anyone who champions the promotion of human freedom. Like his associates, the so-called “wise men” from Powell to Baker, Bush the elder served the United States with credit and as he saw fit, in service and in government. But as he saw fit – as Baker, Gates, and that gang see fit – is wrong.

We must never forget their keeping Hussein in power, or their reinstalling of the Kuwaiti thugocracy, or their assurances to the Iraqi people they would receive American assistance in the event of an uprising – and then their ensuing butchery when the aid they believed we would provide never showed up. We must never forget their golfing with loon tyrants and crass despots for the sake of dictatorial constancy. We should not forget Scowcroft apologizing for Wahhabism, or his lunching with the slaughterers of Tiananmen to “avoid isolating China.” We must never forget their nonchalance as the Berlin Wall fell, or their attempts to preserve the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and continued existence of the Soviet Union. We should not overlook their aversion to change – democratic change, above all.

Response to Neo’s Thanksgiving Podcast

November 23, 2006

In your podcast, Neo, you said that it was about values that makes Americans not fire on women and children. But the thing is, Neo, that American value is called honor. So to what extent will those with honor behave honorably against those without honor?

I think you miss out on the distinction that not firing on women and children at all is a popular culture trait, not an American value system. Values come from our ancestors, our ancestors didn’t worry about killing women and children in Japan.

Civilians who are not in the fight, should be saved and America has saved them. But how do you save people who want to die and who think that you won’t kill them so they try and get themselves killed by you?

Not quite, Neo, not quite the abomination as you see it. There is no conflict of honor. Women fight, they are soldiers, and they die. We already did it in Iraq. Our soldiers have shot women and children, armed and unarmed. Our soldiers have also shot women in Somalia when they picked up weapons. The question is, are you going to stop this once and for all, or are you going to allow it to continue? The more you behave as if you are wounded by these actions, the more of these actions the enemy will force you into. It’s a jungle. If you show weakness in one leg, the predator will try to make you use that leg more and more until it breaks down.

By the way. Who are you going to blow up when the terroists detonate an IED in a crowd of children? Yes, if you see some leader, you can kill him. But what happens when you don’t know who ordered the human shielding? Ziggy’s idea is applicable to Israel, but not to us. To apply Ziggy’s idea, you would have to blow up Tehran and Syria. But that isn’t just one bomb and it’ll go away.

Creative, Neo, is defined by me as taking the enemy’s tactics and improving them. As such, you cannot be creative if you do not improve upon the enemy’s tactics. Leaving aside the specifics of how to improve the enemy’s tactics of death, as you’ve already heard some of my ideas on that subject, let’s go to the other subject. How do you convince the terroists NOT to use human shields? How. You are the psychologist, you tell me how. You have the full power of the US nation at your disposal, tell me how you would creatively convince the terroists and their supporters not to use human shields or to blow up children.

I’m going with Grim’s gambit. On the Virtues of killing Children. Which at its base, says you stop people from using a tactic by making that tactic unproductive. Ziggy hits upon this with his idea of making the terror masters pay. You have a similar line of thought with your assertion on creative tactics. There’s two ways to me, that convinces the enemy. You either do it bottom up or top down. Bottom up means killing the human shields. Which I covered here. Link Top down, convincing the leaders, which is actually harder than convincing the followers. Because leaders of terroist orgainzations don’t flinch. Fanaticism empowers them.

When you make your opponent understand that these shields aren’t going to do anything to us, you break through the barrier and the limitation. You said on the podcast, that this is a win-win scenario to the terroists. While true in the sense that this is what the terroist propagandists want to achieve, it is not true in the sense that it is absolute and uniform. No plan survives contact with the enemy, why should the terroist human shield plans be exempt from this truism?

They put the barrier down and try to trap us. If we go one way, we get quashed or the other way and we get drowned. They want to trap us within this dilemma, so that we can’t move around and our mobility is cut. When our mobility is cut, they loose the jackals to tear our flesh off.

But if you ignore the presence of human shields, and you ignore the media attention, and you KEEP doing it as the media pressure increases and increases, what you will be doing is breaking through your own limitations..

You’ve heard doctors say to soldiers that they won’t recover from these wounds and so forth. And yet they did it. How? Will? God? Miracle? Doctors were being stupid?

As I see it. There are popular conceptions, the perceptions people have, which are not really limitations set by God or nature. These conceptions are limitations set by PEOPLE. It is the popular culture and conception that America will bow down to media pressure, that creates that very limitation. It is a barrier, and if you just break through this barrier over and over, then soon it will be as air to you.

The terroists can’t use your weaknesses against you, if you no longer have those weaknesses. Yes, you can go “around” the human shields with technology, but that is simply a recognition that you are weak, that you NEED a crutch. You NEED technology because your heart is unable to do it without technology. It is true to terroists and it is true to me. Anyone that needs a weapon to be lethal, is no warrior.

Technology has not convinced terroists that terrorism is a bad idea. Technology also didn’t convince the Nazis and Japanse militarists that their day and age was over.

The popular culture now a days say that it is wrong to prevent terroists from using human shields, it says that we are helpless and should do nothing except talk or walk around the wall. I say go through the wall. Sooner or later people will stop putting walls in front of you after you break them with no visible effort.

The only thing that is being compromised is the popular misconception that Americans never get our hands dirty and never should. The only way to uphold American values is to transcend popular culture and the perception of Americans in popular society as the bomb first nation that doesn’t want to get our hands dirty.

Also, Ziggy’s idea of bombing has a problem. Not philosophically or technically, but if you look back at Japan, we did not bomb the Imperial Palace for a reason. How do you decide whether this will actually work, because what if you can’t find the right targets? And if you are willing to blow up the politicians as well as anyone in that building, then what is the moral difference between killing human shields and not killing them compared to this. Is it cleaner because human beings are not themselves at the scene pulling the trigger? I think not.

To your point about breaking us. It takes more than the deaths of WWII all together, to break America.

And of course, they’ll just use human shields to protect the politicians. Babies, cameras on the babies. If you don’t have the will, Neo. No bombs, no technology, and no gimmick will ever give you victory over an enemy. Because the enemy is seeking to overthrow your plans as well, the enemy wants to win. Only by proving that you want to win it MORE than the enemy, will he ever even consider the idea of giving up.

The enemy knows that internal angst you feel. This pull and draw between this on the one hand, and the other thing on the other hand. Whatever, it is irregardless of the topics. Any two topics can create a dichotomy. And while this is useful in a free society as for debate, it is not useful in war. Which is why the military isn’t run by committe and votes, you know. The peace mentality is very different from the war mentality, Neo. That is why destroying human shields and making them useless to the enemy does not conflict with American values.

War in the end, isn’t really about technology or morality or tactics or strategy. If it was, we wouldn’t be in one. Because our tactics, strategy, logistics, technology, and morality are all superior to our enemies. It’s about humans. A psychologist’s paradise. It is all about humans. What humans want, what they are willing to kill or die for, what they believe in, and so forth.

There is only so much thinking you can do for a person, until you need to actually do something about that person. A person will not change his mind, after all, because you talked to them or you killed them or you won one battle out of one war. If it is hard for a person to change his mind in peacetime, how hard do you think it is to change the mind of an enemy in war? Especially this enemy. One who indoctrinates their children in jihad, to kill and die for a myth that isn’t even real.

If something is hard, then I think it means more effort must be harnessed in order to apply force and pressure to that problem. If somebody just gave up cause their job was hard, how the heck would human civilization get off the stone age pattern?

It is hard for people who value human life to destroy human life. But if you don’t get past this problem, on a human not technological level, then not only will the terroists kill more people, but they will force you to kill more people in defending yourself. Because it isn’t just going to end with one human shield or two, Neo. They will actively, and they already have, STAGE atrocities in which they kill their OWN people in order to hurt YOU. This is the logical conclusion of not killing their human shields and children, not breaking the barrier when you had a chance. There is only a slim margin where you have the “choice” to kill or not to do so. The terroists are in the process of taking even this limited choice away from you. (nukes) I’ve heard on the podcast that the time is going to be up for the terroists. But time is running out for you guys as well, I believe.

The Marines hold fireside cheats, by real fires, to debrief their soldiers. Because that is how you combat PTSD, by talking it out with the people you fought along with. All the fear, rage, anger, frustration, and emotions when put into words, have a therapeutic effect. But only if soldiers talk with each other. It doesn’t work with therapists or outsiders.

It is true that if soldiers are ordered to kill civilians or women and children, that this will damage their souls. But that is the price of duty, Neo. Some people give their lives for their country, others give their souls. It is why death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than mountains. However, it is also true that soldiers will obey, because they are trained to obey, and it is also true that they will not suffer from combat shock as much as the Vietnam era generation. Because we have improved our medical and counseling process. Which the media does not report because the media is deaf and dumb.

I enjoyed the podcast, especially when ziggy said in a sedate and almost comatose tone that “he was ready to go”. There is something quite funny about how you open up your podcast, Neo. I would say old school, except podcasting is anything but old school.

Comanche Warriors and Honor

November 22, 2006

Was watching a very good history channel program on the Comanches. A tribe of native americans in Texas. Bred on war, on the fight, the spirit of freedom and openess, as well as the fierce determination to defend their territory. They were the uncontested champions of war, no other tribe could challenge their dominance. Not the Apaches to the west, nor the tribe to the North and East.

I won’t bother describing the exact details the program showed, I will just list the facts and plot line, and then give my impressions.

You know how it started. Comanches saw mustang herds left over by Spanish conquistadors (amazingly enough) and used horse power to train themselves as expert hunters, raiders, warriors, herders, etc. They eventually met the white man settlers that were coming into Texas. And from that, history was made for better or worse.

The Comanches were a war like people. They prided themselves on their ability to fight, to be warriors, to protect and to provide. Protecting their “band”, meant defeating anyone that challenged them on their land. So when the white boys came to Texas, they saw that as a challenge, and therefore they treated them as any other tribe of native Americans would be treated.

They raided some farmsteads and single family holds, and captured the family of one settler after killing the men via a fake parley for trade. One girl captured was named Cynthia, and the Comanches took these womenfolk and children captive because they knew how high a price the white man would pay for them. What does that remind you of, need I ask?

But irregardless, Texas was annexed by the US and settlers poured into it. One leader of one band, a band being composed of a comanche group lead by an independent chief with no allegiance to any other comanche group, sought peace deals with the US military commander in Texas.

They brought along one captive to trade in for favorable terms, hoping to use the additional captives for better deals by holding them back. The Colonel in charge demanded that all white captives be released. After talking to the girl that they brought with them, and after she had been released, they had heard from her and seen in her the brutality with which she was treated. She was a slave after all. Slaves were treated no better than horses, in fact worse than horses, because horses were respected. She was only a menial worker that knew not the language or the customs, did not know how to fight, and therefore was not a warrior. So the Indian women punished her when the girl would not obey commands. She is a captive, they gave her no reason to work hard. They burned off her nose, as punishment. The Comanche men treated her as an object to be raped for their pleasure. She was not a warrior, not a Comanche. Humans don’t tend to treat foreigners as human unless they have a good reason. You’ve seen this in the Nazi and Arab treatment of Jews, but they could not have done what they did, if the basic trait wasn’t in humanity to begin with. She didn’t speak the language of the Comanches, she wasn’t a man and therefore in a warrior bred society had second place, and she also was a captive and not part of the band, therefore having slave status below second place status. The Comanches thought it was just natural punishment for anyone that encroached upon their lands. The white men thought otherwise.

The military commander when he heard this, was quite incensed. He demanded that all captives be released and that the Comanches move away from central Texas. The tribal leader could not agree because he did not represent all Comanche Tribes. He also didn’t want to agree to the release of all white captives, because he wanted a better deal. He did not know that the military officer was getting enraged to the point that if you did not give into his demands, he would escalate matters. And he did, the colonel demanded that they release the captives or they would be arrested. The Comanches saw this as an insult and said that they would fight before being captured. The interpreter gave the ultimatum or second clarficiation to the ultimatum and then ran for the door, because he saw what was going to happen .What was going to happen was that the US soldiers would start shooting at the comanches and the comanches would start hacking at the white men.

This is what is known as blood feud. And it began probably the first time the comanches attacked a settler. As it progressed through and past the American Civil War, people forgot who started it all, and they didn’t really care. All the federal troops cared about was ending the war, making the comanches surrender, unconditionally preferably. All the comanches cared after the Ami Civ War was to live free and as warriors. Kind of hard to live free and as warriors when the Americans are killing the comanches left and right.

Yes, comanche leaders did try to make peace deals, and they also went to Washington DC. One of their prime intellectual leaders, the ones interested in the survival and welfare of their people, said that “these people have so much, what would it hurt them to give up some land”. That was the wrong question, and the comanches (and the Americans as well) did not understand.

It was always about honor. Blood and honor. Do you understand this concept? To understand this concept is to understand why the blood feud between Americans and native Americans started. To understand this concept is to also understand why they continued to fight.

The tribal custom of native American scalpings, taking hostages for ransom, attacking settlers on farmsteads, raiding white settlements for captives and slaves. These things are not honorable by American standards, especially by American FRONTIERSman standards. Chivalry was alive and big back then. You wanted to fight, that’s okay, but leave the women and children alone. The comanches not only violated this principle but they kept on doing it because they just didn’t get it, and the language/cultural barrier prevented any further understanding. There weren’t people like me back then that understood cultures. You think the native americans living on buffalo hide and hunting could understand what the white man frontiersman was like, or vice a versa? Those two groups were too busy surviving and trying to make a living, to committ any serious energy to intellectual studies. A benefit, I say, of civilization for me, but not for them.

It wasn’t the comanches alone either. But every native american tribe from sea to shining sea. They were not civilized, and yet they were not Noble Savages either.

This is the stuff from which tragedies are made from. But history is irrevocable and almost inevitable. Meaning, even if disease had not weakened the comanches, the simple economic facts of life would have done them in. If not in this century, then the next or the next one after that. The settlers had huge immigrant populations to draw from, advanced technology which got more and more advanced as time went on. The comanches way of life was being steadily and quickly outpaced. Their buffalo herds were being decimated and annihilated by hunters and trappers using Sharpes .50 caliber rifles on Scottish bypod sticks.

I say tragedy, not in general, but in the specific. You know that girl Cynthia I mentioned above? Well, she was not repatriated. So when a US Texas Ranger company/battalion (Texas Rangers founded to protect against comanche warrior raids) found a comanche camp and annihilated it to the last man and child, they spared this blond woman. She had been held captive for 25 years, starting from childhood. She was Cynthia Parker, of the Parker clan.

She had a son, named Qana, as well as a comanche husband. The US Rangers took her and returned her to the Parker clan. But of course, Cynthia had made a life for herself amongst the Comanche. They were all that she had probably remembered and known. Her friends, people she saw as her family. To be thrust back into the alien hold of a vaguely remembered society, from which she felt separate and strange. No wonder she starved herself to death.

And her son? He lived. Qana renamed himself Qana Parker, and came to lead all of the Comanche bands and warriors. The son of a native american and a white female captive, leading the comanche against federal troops from the white nation. I don’t think Qana ever forgave the white man for destroying his home and family.

Fate is strange and fickle. Stranger still is that these native american warriors, who prided themselves on their ability to fight and hunt and be warriors without peer, had to surrender or be annihilated in the end. And Qana Parker did surrender, after US cavalry leader found his camp, destroyed his food supplies and shot his horse herds. Qana fought a long war, a guerrila war, like his fellow comanches. Focusing on night raids, stealth, the silent and quick kill. They were only beaten by the same tactics. Remember this. The white man did not beat the comanches through superior firepower, but through the tactics of the comanches themselves, by having Apache scouts and other native american scouts who knew the lay of the land. Remember this, for it is important. To forget, is to suffer the pain of defeat.

I say fate is strange, because the commanches even though they surrendered the life of the warrior to life in a enclosed reservation and farm for a living (they would rather die than farm but even still, their leaders decided that living and farming was better. Remind you of the Japanese perhaps? Death before surrendering, then surrendering?), continued to fight on. A commanche company was at Utah beach on D-Day. They are in the American military forces, i.e. Iraq and Gulf War 1.

The warrior blood of the comanches were not exterminated, but incorporated within the greater United States union. And this is why America is strong, not because of a bunch of white men with bombs and superior guns destroying all opposition. Because nature decided that only the strong shall survive and be deserving of leadership. We may only obey nature’s dictates, although we may fight to our last breath against it. The weak perish and the strong survive. Not all the time, but all the time for your people. And it is also why we are in Iraq. How do we exterminate terrorism? We learn from the terroists, and we get terroists to kill terroists. Or rather, Arabs allied with the US, to kill Arabs allied with our enemies.

When facing a dishonorable enemy, to defeat him, you must learn from him. To be inflexible, is to be dead in war.

We name our helicopters the Comanche, the Apache. Why? Because humanity is stronger as a team than as disparate individuals fighting over the crumbs of life. It took generations of warfare for the native americans to realize this. When we think of guerrila warfare, we tend to think that the US isn’t good in, that we can’t beat it, that it is superior. It is not superior. Not if you know of history in the macroscopic scale.

The Comanches and the Apaches, if they truly understood their enemies, would have realized this. The way of buffalo hunting and what not, was over. Times were changing, globalization, agriculture, technology. Either you flow with the times, or you shall be destroyed by the stream of progress. The Arabs are fighting this as well, you know. Progress.

The solution for the native americans was simple, if not easy to see or contemplate. Accept integration into American society, either in the reservations or as American citizens with a background in Amerindian tradition. Join the US military and fight as a coherent force in America’s wars to protect your lands. They had a chance in the Ami Civil War. To fight and bleed with the Union or the Confederacy. Americans respect honorable opponents, like Lee or Grant. In the long term, honorable opponents make for an honorable peace (Japan). They had to make themselves an asset to America. If they were ever going to get what they wanted, land or freedom or whatever, they had to have ALLIES in America, Texas, and various other places. They could talk all they want, raid all they want, acquire as many slaves as they want, torture and scalp as many settlers as they want, but without American allies to smooth the way for them politically and culturally, they were not going to get anywhere in peace. And even their days of being warriors will be cut off by the indomitable might of the US military eventually. The Arabs have learned this well, which is why they manipulate American divisions very adeptly. From CAIR to ACLU, the Arabs have many American allies in America. Something the Native Americans never exploited in large numbers. They didn’t have the technology, the training, the historical knowledge/precedence, and they didn’t have the help of the USSR either. Let’s not forget that.

Even after countless atrocities by the Comanches, the US still accepted their surrender. They appointed Qana Parker as the chief of all Comanche bands. And it was him, that lead the Comanches from a nomadic hunter life to a farming life on reservations. I say history is ironic, because it is either that or it is a tragedy.

Understand this. You may think you have one up on America. You may think you have the upper hand, with the many hostages you have taken and the many scalps you have carved from American heads. But understand this as you die, ever pathetic fools. American power is legion, because we are the compressed strength and history of many many peoples and cultures. Some of them don’t even like us, certainly don’t even like the “White Man” and have had a history of blood feuds. But that doesn’t sap our unity and strength. Our nature is manifold, our strength therefore is diverse and unquantifiable. Our core pillars yet untapped. We have defeated the mightiest warriors and soldiers on this earth, and integrated their skills, their souls, their honor and valor, into our own. From Sun Tzu to the Prussian general Von Clausewitz. You will have to bring harsher methods than beheading to destroy us. You have to weaken us from within, have us commit suicide because we no longer believe in our values if you wish to defeat us. And you had better do this fast before we do you in.

We do not exterminate our enemies or even our perceived enemies as Germany and the Arabs did and do with Jews. We integrate them into our fold, and make ourselves stronger for it. Resistance is futile, because only Honor and Blood matters in the End. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he ne’er so vile.


Comanche war parties usually found easy victims in Texas, and when Americans began to settle there after 1821, Comanches did not distinguish between Anglo and Hispanic. In 1833 Sam Houston arrived in Texas as a United States representative to arrange a treaty with the Texas Comanches. There were some meetings, but Mexican officials began to wonder what he was doing in their country arranging a treaty with their Comanches, and he was asked to leave. Soon after Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, Houston became president of the new republic. In May, 1838, a treaty of peace and friendship was signed with the Texas Comanches but did not address the Comanches’ main concern, a line between Comancheria and the white settlements. In the absence of an agreement on this, the whites steadily encroached, and the Comanches still raided. Houston wanted to set a line but was replaced in December by Mirabeau Lamar, a man determined to deal with Indian problems by war. One of his priorities was the return of Anglo prisoners taken by Comanches during the previous ten years of Mexican rule. Mainly women and children, the Texans were understandably anxious to get them back. In March, 1840 a meeting, under a flag of truce in San Antonio, was held with the Comanches to negotiate their release.

If the Texans had any illusions [as to] the fate of these people, they were about to be shattered. Rape was one of the kinder things Comanches did to women, and many of the children had grown-up as Comanche and had no wish to return [cultural assimilation, not just a white man thing]. The twelve Comanche leaders who attended the meeting expected trade and ransom, but when the Texans saw the condition of a captive they had brought with them, they asked questions about others still in the Comanche camps. They were outraged by what they learned, and the negotiations collapsed. Rather than send the Comanches away, soldiers surrounded the council house to take them hostage to exchange for the white captives still held. The stunned Comanches tried to escape, and the Texans killed them. 27 women and children were taken prisoner. One woman was released to bring in the other captives. She returned with five, and the Texans released five more. No others were exchanged. It was now the Comanches’ turn to be outraged by the killing of their chiefs under a flag of truce. Hundreds of warriors approached San Antonio screaming their rage, but remained just beyond rifle-range. Then suddenly they were gone, and the Texans thought the crisis had passed.

The Comanches had left to plan retaliation. When they got back to their camps, they killed the white prisoners they were planning to exchange. In August, Buffalo Hump led a 500-warrior raid straight into the heart of eastern Texas. Homes were burned, hundreds killed, and before they stopped, the Comanches had reached the Gulf of Mexico near Victoria. Then, loaded with loot, the war party began an unusual slow retreat to the north. Perhaps because of their numbers, the Comanches were overconfident, but this gave the Texans time to organize. With the help of Tonkawa scouts, Texas militia ambushed the main body at Plum Creek (Lockhart, Texas). Abandoning most of their spoils, the surviving Comanches escaped north. Afterwards, they would never again give the Texans such a easy target.

Source Link

Some more historical sources and background information, in more detail, on the incident I was writing about above. [Correction, it does not necessarily have to be the same incident. The plot seems to be same, but I warrant such prisoner exchanges happened more than once and probably led to the same result.]