Old Man v. New World

In the last week or so I read both The Old Man and the Sea and A Brave New World. I was struck by the exceptionally different views of mankind each book contained.

The old man is the story of a man who has been a fisherman for all of his life. He catches swordfish. The story starts as he is nearing the end of his life. He goes out by himself and manages to hook an enormous fish. The way that he fishes if to hold the line himself, without any pole. The line runs over his shoulders and into his boat. His own strength is all the keeps the fish hooked. Over the course of days, the man stays with the fish as it fights itself out. He fights all kinds of physical ailments (cramps thirst hunger age etc.) and in the end he manages to catch and kill the fish. The fish however, is too large to fit into the old man's boat. He has no choice but to tie the fish alongside his boat and begin to row back to his port, days away. As he is rowing back, sharks get the scent of the dead swordfish and begin to attack and eat the swordfish. The old man fights off the sharks but loses the battle until all that is left if the head, tail, and skeleton. The old man finally makes it back to the port. An interesting subplot is how the other people from the old man's town respond to the old man before and after he catches the fish.

The new world is a futuristic dystopia. the story follows a man who does not fit into society because according to some he had a form of futuristic fetal alcohol syndrome. he goes to a "savage" reservation, and brings back a savage fathered by his boss. this makes him popular with society because the civilized people all want to see the savage and he is the savage's guardian. The resolution is that the head of europe sends the man to an island for discontents. This leader also reveals that he at one time did not fit into society, but chose to give up honesty for power. The savage is forced to live in society, until a mob of people beat him senseless when he tries to escape from society.

The contrast of these books is how each author views the human spirit. the old man triumphs over all obstacles, and even when he fails he manages to be triumphant and unbroken. the new world humans are nothing more than what they are conditioned to be. fleeting happiness is more important than anything else. man has no or very little choice in what he or she is. i do not think that the author of new world thought this was good, but he believed that man could become that.

This has caused me to wonder about myself, do I believe man to be a majestic and triumphant creature, or pathetic and weak? I do not know yet, but i want to believe in the old man, and not the new world.


Scalia at his best.

The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. That consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court’s blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today.

In the long term, then, the Court’s decision today accomplishes little, except perhaps to reduce the well-beingof enemy combatants that the Court ostensibly seeks to protect. In the short term, however, the decision is devastating. At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to the battlefield.See S. Rep. No. 110–90, pt. 7, p. 13 (2007) (Minority Viewsof Sens. Kyl, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, and Coburn) (hereinafter Minority Report). Some have been captured or killed. See ibid.; see also Mintz, Released Detainees Rejoining the Fight, Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2004, pp.A1, A12. But others have succeeded in carrying on theiratrocities against innocent civilians. In one case, a detainee released from Guantanamo Bay masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese dam workers, one of whom was later shot to death when used as a human shield against Pakistani commandoes. See Khan & Lancaster, Pakistanis Rescue Hostage; 2nd Dies, Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2004, p. A18. Another former detainee promptly resumed his post as a senior Taliban commander and murdered a United Nations engineer and three Afghan soldiers. Mintz, supra. Still another murdered an Afghanjudge. See Minority Report 13. It was reported only last month that a released detainee carried out a suicide bombing against Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, Iraq. See White, Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Joined Iraq Suicide Attack, Washington Post, May 8, 2008, p. A18.
These, mind you, were detainees whom the military had concluded were not enemy combatants. Their return to the kill illustrates the incredible difficulty of assessing who is and who is not an enemy combatant in a foreign theater of operations where the environment does not lend itself to rigorous evidence collection.

A mere two Terms ago in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U. S. 557 (2006), when the Court held (quiteamazingly) that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 had not stripped habeas jurisdiction over Guantanamo petitioners’ claims, four Members of today’s five-Justice majority joined an opinion saying the following:
"Nothing prevents the President from returning toCongress to seek the authority [for trial by military commission] he believes necessary.
"Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine— through democratic means—how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democraticmeans." Id., at 636 (BREYER, J., concurring).1
Turns out they were just kidding.

Thats probably enough for now.