The Long View 2005-02-14: The Irrelevance of Violence; March 25; The Obsolescence of Violence
The security robot developed by the University of Uppsala mentioned here would probably be a quadcopter drone today.
The Irrelevance of Violence; March 25; The Obsolescence of Violence
We should be reluctant to see signs of progress in the mounting toll of civilian deaths in Iraq from suicide bombers. Nonetheless, the Coalition military and even portions of the press are increasingly inclined to do just that. With a genuine national assembly in the process of formation, these almost daily atrocities have become politically irrelevant. The Jihadis keep doing it because they are at a loss about how else to proceed. They are also doing it less well. As the New York Times put it yesterday:
In an interview at his headquarters near Baghdad's international airport on Friday, Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of the First Cavalry Division, cited the eight suicide bombings aimed at polling stations in the city on election day, none of which reached their targets. "It was almost as if the suicide bombers didn't know what they were doing," he said.
This is not the kind of tactic that creates a corps of experienced veterans over time.
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Meanwhile, I was asked to do some posters for the Latin Mass I attend here in downtown Jersey City. Here's the one for Holy Week. [The poster is now offline; I can send it to anyone who is interested.] I mention this, not to show off my exiguous graphic skills, but because I noticed that Good Friday falls on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.
Readers of Tolkien will recall that Sauron fell on March 25. In choosing that date, Tolkien acted as a good medievalist. The Feast of the Annunciation itself commemorates the revelation by an angel to the Virgin Mary that she had conceived Jesus: nine months from Christmas, you see. By rumor and tradition, however, almost everything important that ever happened was ascribed to March 25, if it could not be positively dated otherwise. As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains:
All Christian antiquity (against all astronomical possibility) recognized the 25th of March as the actual day of Our Lord's death. The opinion that the Incarnation also took place on that date is found in the pseudo-Cyprianic work "De Pascha Computus", c. 240. It argues that the coming of Our Lord and His death must have coincided with the creation and fall of Adam. And since the world was created in spring, the Saviour was also conceived and died shortly after the equinox of spring...Consequently the ancient martyrologies assign to the 25th of March the creation of Adam and the crucifixion of Our Lord; also, the fall of Lucifer, the passing of Israel through the Red Sea and the immolation of Isaac.
And if March 25 is the anniversary of the Creation, then it follows, sort of, that it is likely to be the date of the Second Coming. Dr. Richard Landes notes this document from about the year AD 1000:
[M]y abbot of blessed memory and keen mind rejected another error which grew about the End of the World; and after he received correspondence from Lotharingians he ordered me to answer. For a rumor had filled almost the entire world that when the Annunciation fell on Good Friday, without any question, it would be the End of the World.
Now far be it from me to suggest that the world will end this March 25, leaving us only a few weeks to get our shiftless acts together. Still, for those of you who live in the New York area and would like to be on the safe side, let me remind you that Holy Rosary Church does a Tridentine Mass every Sunday at 12:30 PM. Coffee hour follows. Autographs will be provided upon request.
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Speaking of avenging angels, we may soon see a whole new class of security robot:
The device, developed at the University of Uppsala, acts as a high-tech security guard capable of detecting an intruder thanks to either radar or infra-red sensors. Once alerted, it can summon help, sound an alarm or pursue the intruders, taking pictures.
That quotation is from the Daily Telegraph, of Britain. When I read it, I was astonished to note that the piece did not mention that the Swedish robot closely resembles the intelligent balloon in The Prisoner, that old Granada televison series. The balloon used to track down and subdue Patrick McGoohan whenever he tried to escape from the Village.
Shopping-mall security may never be the same again.
Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly