is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


sneaking back

Sean, I love ya, but you're a geek. Admittedly, I've seen the Fellowship of the Ring thrice myself, but you're taking it too seriously, I think. The following is a quote from his weblog.

This review comes to you courtesy of me sitting in ‘FotR’ the second time with my Palm Pilot light on, hastily punching in notes on the pop-up keyboard. I gave myself a head-ache, as you might imagine, but it’s worth it for you, faithful reader!

What can I say about it? It's probably the best movie I've seen in five years, and that's as only a partially satisfied customer. Nice job, Peter Jackson. I really need to get together with Sean and talk about Tolkien and God. There are plenty of crossovers there as well; Tolkien was a Catholic and infused many of his writings with a near-deist conception of an all powerful creator with little power or volition to intervene. The creation story in the beginning of The Silmarillion is reminiscent of Paradise Lost, especially the part about the rebellion in heaven.

What else? Finals, yes. Law school is brutal in that you go on for months and months with no grades or ranks or feedback on your progress in any way, shape, or form, and then in the span of two weeks you take a series of finals and that's all. The grades now will trickle out from now until February; the one I received already is extremely positive. While I'm waiting, there are the new classes that have begun; Constitutional Law, Property, and Criminal Law to go with another term of Civil Procedure. These classes seem a lot closer to what I expected law school would be like. Two of the first cases we're reading are John Marshall cases. As I've previously pointed out, I have considered that Mr. Marshall was an overrated hack with many damaging decisions, but nothing reinforced that opinion more than Johnson v. M'Intosh, which examined the validity of the title of lands of Native American tribes. Johnson is decided on, among other things, a tracing of title back to the European doctrines of discovery and conquest. I can understand the determination by Marshall that the land appropriated by the United States government was valid; to do otherwise would have thrown the whole system of American property into jeopardy. What I fail to understand is how Marshall can at the same time recognize that the Native American tribes have a valid right to possess their lands and that the United States has the right to extinguish that right. After all, virtually from the beginning European colonists recognized that Native Americans had a right to be here (even if recognizing that through a fog of cultural imperialism and racism):

The whole earth is the lords Garden & he hath given it to the sonnes of men, wth a general Condicion, Gen: I.28. Increase & multiply, replenish the earth & subdue it. . . . And for the Natives of New England they inclose noe land neither have any settled habitation nor any tame cattle to improve the land by, & soe have noe other but a naturall right to those countries Soe as if we leave them sufficient for their use wee may lawfully take the rest, ther being more than enough for them & us . . . (Emphasis mine; quote from Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as cited in the link above)

Yet we never did leave their share. I have often criticized those that critique history and politics as not offering an alternative, and I mean not to make the same mistake. As of 1823, Marshall could have recognized that the already settled lands of the United States were ours by way of conquest and he would be correct in fact, if not necessarily by right; for since when is title by conquest subject to that limitation? However, by holding that the First Nations' land titles were not cognizable in American courts of law he did a grave disservice to our credibility as a country; there was a good opportunity to object to our constant habit of reneging and abrogating treaties with these people that were here longer and had more right to the land than we did, and Marshall failed to do it. I'll surely do a "John Marshall Greatest Hits" soon.

and then

I enjoy reading Stephen den Beste's weblog on various intellectual issues, and often agree with him. Yet I couldn't really buy his defense of why the US needs to hold an arsenal of more than 2000 nuclear weapons. As far as I'm concerned, our nuclear arsenal is nothing more than a colossal waste of money at this point. We should ask ourselves, do we ever mean to use these things? I feel confident that the answer to that is no. The moral and political implications mean that no leader would bring him (or her)self to use them. Second, do they deter anything? A good answer would be that they certainly deter a rational actor, and that answerer would point to forty years of experience with the Cold War to prove that. Admittedly this is so. Yet; there is no Cold War. No actor on the world stage would ever use them, at least not a rational one. If an irrational state (or non-state) would use them on us, is that threat deterrable? If not, then there is also no point in keeping the nukes unless for retribution, and it seems hardly worth it. The fact that one ex-Soviet suitcase bomb could be purchased, smuggled in, and then detonated hardly means that we should destroy country X for the sins of a few dozen; if we can't use our nuclear weapons in the most likely scenario for their use, when could we? The fact is that any country rational enough to be deterred is rational enough to not use nuclear weapons regardless of deterrence. At that point, we should unilaterally disarm ourselves of nuclear weapons.

It's good to be back.


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