Thursday, August 12, 2004

Kerry's One-Point Plan

Read this Onion piece (courtesy of Ace). It's hilarious.

(I give no excuse for the inactivity. Though I am considering taking a different tack with this blog as I can't seem to find a good niche.)

Monday, July 19, 2004

Four More Wars

Was reading the moonbat comments to this Kevin Drum post, and came upon this gem:

"Four More Wars
Bush Cheney 04

And we can pay for them with four more tax cuts for the rich.

I know he was attempting sarcasm but I think that sounds about right (maybe a little fast). After all, there are still two members of the Axis of Evil left, right? And don't forget about Syria, and maybe Saudia Arabia, Sudan, Lebanon, or China (trying to take advantage of our being distracted) as number five.

We would have to pick up the pace a little but compared to the past four years (only two wars: Afghanistan and Iraq), but I think it could be done. It's also a nice, catchy slogan.

Note: Four more wars is a perfectly defendable idea, but it would probably take ten years instead of four to get it done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Why are we the world's policeman?

Jane Galt has a question today: Why did we become the world's policeman?

This is a question I have some insights into not already offered in the comments to her post.

After the Second World War the United States was ascendant. Our secure base across the ocean had in no way been devastated by the conflict, unlike Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union. At the time, the United States economy was approximately half of the entire world economy. To repeat: HALF of the ENTIRE WORLD's economy was U.S. This was clearly a temporary situation resulting from the massive destruction caused in Europe and Japan and didn't last, but clearly the U.S. was the most powerful nation in the world.

With this much power, it was virtually impossible for the United States to return to its isolationist roots. This was made all the more evident by the emergence of the Soviet Union as a rival ideological and political force. The Soviet Union was a clear threat to the U.S. directly (through nuclear weapons) and indirectly (by threatening to unite Europe under its iron fist, in which case it would have the productive capability to match the U.S.).

The traditional security guarantor of last resort was the United Kingdom, which attained this role as a result of its expansive colonial conquests and leading role in naval power projection capability since the defeat of Napoleon. As a result of the threat from the Soviet Union and Communism, the United States replaced the UK in this role, starting by replacing the UK's security guarantee to Greece as it was under attack by Communist partisans in 1946. The UK handed the torch of "world's policeman" to the United States from this point on.

We currently guarantee the security of Europe through NATO, Japan through bilateral agreements, Australia and New Zealand through the ANZUS treaty, Southeast Asia through ASEAN, and the Middle East through agreements with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. We ARE the world's policeman, whether we like it or not, and it is a result of historical factors as well as the military weakness of our (sometimes) allies. It can certainly be argued that this weakness is often caused by our role as policemen, and that our role incurs a great deal of resentment. But, above and beyond our not insubstantial humanitarian foreign aid, our contribution to the well-being of everyone on Earth is made by securing trade routes on which much of the world's economy depends and greatly reducing political conflict throughout the globe, even if we don't go around reshaping governments or becoming involved in every catastrophe. That is our role, though it is little acknowledged, the U.S. plays a key role in ensuring that civilization as we know it does not fall apart.

Ignorance is Strength

My apologies for the sparse updates lately. I've been remarkably lazy. Today I want to share some thoughts that have been percolating for a while now. It's kind of a technical discussion in that I use big words, but I think anyone can understand the concepts.

The main idea is this: we live in a world that is inherently probabilistic (i.e. many things depend on chance) but we're stuck with minds that work in an inherently deterministic fashion. By deterministic I mean that we think of things as having clear cause and effect relationships. The world doesn't work that way (at least, not from our admittedly limited point of view).

Because of the way our minds work we have a difficult time assessing risks. We easily fall prey to anecdotal evidence, we are misled by historical evidence (in a totally random environment, events in the past do not effect events in the future). We're bombarded with spurious medical evidence about how this-or-that causes a 25% increase in the risk of cancer. This is, by itself, meaningless. A 25% increase relative to what? If the initial rate of cancer was 0.001%, then the "higher" risk is just 0.00125%. For the information to be useful it needs to be placed in context.

For example, yesterday I learned that I have a 0.014% chance of dying this here, according to the government (I'm not going to bother to look up the link, use Google if you're interested). If I were female, however, that chance is only one-third of that (presumably due to the increased risk of violent death and higher auto accident rates). Does that I mean I should be worried that I'm not a woman? I am three times more likely to die after all. Taken by itself it sounds pretty scary.

The way most people cope with risk is to ignore it. Which is perhaps the best possible way. After all, it is impossible for any of us to have a good understanding of the true magnitude of the risks we face, so any worrying at the individual level will be for naught.

On the public policy level the story is different. Risk can be assessed over large groups of people for certain things. And here the tendency towards ignorance is a liability, with the occasional anecdote swaying things in the all-too-often wrong direction.

Hmmm, I was hoping that as I wrote this some sort of point would develop. Oops.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Go read this Ralph Peters article on the lessons learned from the Iraq war and occupation. The key quote:

"And there will be a next time." (Emphasis in original)

I found it heartening. Take your bets now on who's next, Iran or Persia? (Note: they are the same)

Documentary or Schlockumentary?

Film critics behavior toward the schlockumentary/mockumentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been deliciously hypocritical. Just see this article (link via Pejman). It compares the reviews of Passion of the Christ to those for Michael "experiment gone wrong" Moore's latest. They don't even bother to feign objectivity.

One in particular disturbed me. The film reviewer for the "Christian" Science Monitor (aren't scare quotes fun?) said:

"Is the label "documentary" appropriate for this openly activist movie? Of course it is, unless you cling to some idealized notion of "objective" film."

Ummm, OK. I have to agree with Imao, who compares it, unfavorably, to Jackass: the movie. If the film reviewer for CSM is unable to look up "documentary" in a dictionary to see that part of the definition is to be "objective" then I think it fair to say that he is a jackass (and I mean that in the nicest way possible [not that there is a nice way to take it]).

I'm tempted to go see 9/11, though. Why? I think it would be great fun to laugh and clap at inappropriate times, with the express purpose of irritating the crap out of the Moore-o-philes. For example, after the scene that's been in the commercials where Bush says "we will hunt down the terrorist killers, now watch this drive" I would cheer and clap. The problem with this is that some of my money would go to making that fat bastard even fatter, and I don't know if I could live with that. But it would be great to heckle his supporters.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Hitler = ?

The Bush campaign has new ad (which can be seen here and is entitled "Coalition of the Wild-eyed") in which scenes from a TV ad created by Kerry supporters at are spliced with images of Al "he betrayed this country" Gore, Dick "miserable failure" Gephardt, Michael "experiment gone wrong" Moore, and John F'n Kerry. Slate and Citizen Smash seem to think these ads are suggesting that Kerry is somehow equal to Hitler.

Have these people actually watched the ad? The purpose of the ad is to show just how wacky many of Kerry's supporters are. Listening to these clips, you can't help but marvel at how stark, raving mad with Bush-hatred these people are. The Hitler images are showing mainstream America that it is the LEFT that thinks "Bushitler" is the same Hitler (Kerry is waaaay too boring an orator to compare). Many of Kerry's supporters are loons of the first degree, and if Bush's crazed supporters were half as vocal I can guarantee the media would never let go of it. Turn-around is fair-play; Kerry should pay a price for having these wackos on his side. Clinton certainly took advantage of lumping the people who thought he killed Vince Foster in with the rest of his opponents. Apparently Democrats can dish it, but not take it.

And have no doubt that people compare Bush and not Kerry to Hitler. A simple google search, revealed over 500,000 hits for Bush and Hitler and only 156,000 for Kerry and Hitler (all of which on the first page were discussing the aforementioned ad). To give you some idea of the craziness of the Bushitler crowd, just visit here, for a list of wild conspiracy theories that are even crazier than the Vince Foster murder stories (which were made semi-plausible by the general sleaziness of "because I could" Clinton).

Nee Moore no badda. Me chaade su goodie.

Drop whatever you're doing and go read the new In My World, over at IMAO. He has Michael Moore as Jabba the Hut, it's hilarious. Here's a teaser:

"Who the hell is Michael Moore?" Bush asked.

"An experiment gone bad," Clancy said ominously, "The liberals were always trying to create their own Rush Limbaugh since Limbaugh first became a success. To this end, they got some Limbaugh DNA from a discarded cigar. The genes were incomplete, though, and they finished the chromosomes with genes from warthog, gorilla, and skunk DNA. Thus came about the hideous creation known as Michael Moore."

Friday, June 25, 2004

Balloons in Space?

DefenseTech links to an article about a "near-space" balloon that was badly damaged by 20-25 knot (23-26 mph) wind. This balloon is meant to go the 100,000 ft and hover over a battlefield to collect intelligence or serve as a communications hub. Which brings up a simple question: if the balloon can't handle a pidly ~25 mph wind, how exactly is it supposed to stay together on the way to 100,000 ft?

There is a very good reason that there have been very few balloons or airships since the 1930s. They just aren't very robust in bad weather. The idea for this particular one is that at 100,000 ft the conditions are pretty calm, but the damn thing still has to be tough enough to make it that high. So that's a little questionable, but apparently the company is working on the idea of eventually building up to the point of having a BALLOON GO TO SPACE!?!?!!!

----- This is Earth calling JP Aerospace, where are you? Over. -------
----- Could you repeat, Houston. We seem to have our heads in a place where the sun does not shine. ------

The guy from JP explains how it would work like this:

"What if you flatten it out and give it a little bit of aerodynamic shape, and point it up a little bit so you have some of that thrust turned into lift?" Powell asked. "As you climb up, your drag is dropping, and now you're accelerating. The question comes, can you get aerodynamically clean enough, while still supporting the lift enough to slowly get faster and faster ... to get all the way to orbit? Is there a drag-power combination to do that? We think there is. It looks like there's a wide margin."

Wow, let's go over a few of the problems with this concept. First and foremost, what do you make the thing out of? It has to be able to be strong enough to handle the aerodynamic loads, plus any gust conditions, on ascent. Light as possible to accelerate the vehicle. And it must be able to handle the thermal loads from going very fast. Even at high altitude, where the air is thin and cold, at high speeds the friction makes things hot enough to melt most materials (drag increases with the square of velocity). Unless these guys have access to the stuff that UFO's are made of, it will be a bit of a problem.

Next you can't count on purely the buoyant force to make it to space, as beyond a certain altitude, what's inside the vehicle will become more dense than what is outside, reversing the acceleration. The propulsion system would have to be light, and it would have to be attached to structure that could handle the thrust loads.

The placement of the payload for the vehicle would have a similar problem. Wherever it is attached will have to be strong enough, which will make the vehicle heavy and impair its performance again.

As an orbital vehicle, the idea of a frickin' balloon is fundamentally unserious. It might be a concept worth exploring only to determine where the biggest problem areas are such that they could be worked on, but it will not be technically feasible in the foreseeable future.

Opportunities Not Rights

The past couple of days at the Volokh Conspiracy there has been a series of articles about FDR's proposal for a second Bill or Rights. These are the rights listed in the first link:

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education."

Following the links will take you to a discussion on so-called "constitutive commitments" that FDR is supposedly naming. None of the conspirators has directly commented on the rights themselves but something about them strikes me as horribly wrong, and I'm shocked that no one else (at the Conspiracy) has pointed it out. There is no Constitutional basis for ANY of these, with the possible exception of the anti-monopoly "right" being an outgrowth of the interstate commerce clause. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but the only possible justification of these is meeting the "provide for the common welfare" part of the big C (and that would be a HUGE stretch).

Reading the list, it is clear that FDR is proposing Socialism in the Swedish sense (a hop and a skip [but no jump] from Communism). The anti-monopoly one is the only one I have no objection to, the rest do not qualify as "rights". This is not Europe, people have the OPPORTUNITY for a job, a nice home, good medical care, education and so on. No citizen has the "right" to even eat if they are unwilling to work for it (in my opinion, with the obvious exemption of children, the elderly, and sick people [who may be willing but unable]). This is America and these supposed "rights" sound way too much like the EU Constitution. See the following as examples from the EU Constitution that sound just like FDR's proposals:

"Article II-14: Right to education
1. Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational and continuing training.
2. This right includes the possibility to receive free compulsory education.

Article II-34: Social security and social assistance
3. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right
to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack
sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by Union law and national laws
and practices.

Article II-35: Health care
Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical
treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human
health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and

This list would be a recipe for disaster. First, it would bankrupt the country as the government would have to vastly increase in size, raising taxes and/or the national debt. Second, it sets-up all kinds of powerful dis-incentives to improve your lot in life, as the big G would have to give you everything you needed to live (and live well). Socialism has NEVER and will never work, let's kick it to the dust-bin of history and move-on.

What did we expect?

I was thinking about all the supposed bad war news, and how pretty much everyone seems to think that things are going poorly in Iraq and I was thinking: what the heck did we expect? Obviously things are not all hunky-dory; the Iraqis aren't holding hands with Americans singing Kumbaya around a campfire in the desert making smores, but has anything particularly horrible and unexpected happened? I can't come up with anything. Perhaps our ass-kicking of Saddam's army was too complete and it set-up unrealistic expectations in peoples minds for the following occupation.

It should be no surprise that there has been a low-level insurgency. We just put 130,000+ targets right in the middle of terrorist country, OF COURSE we were going to attract some fire. But the level of casualties has been miniscule when compared with essentially any other conflict in history. In World War I more people would die in an hour than we have lost over the past year. In a roughly similar situation in Chechnya, the Russkies have lost many times more people (they have been less than forthcoming with actual numbers). I'm not saying our casualties have been insignificant, but our troops have been performing very, very well. Even when Sadr and his thugs tried to rise up, we kicked his butt, killing thousands of his militamen.

The problem is truly one of perception not reality. The media have been pounding in every shred of bad news and reporting very little of the good. And it's all in pursuit of the selfish aim of undermining Bush. I was not a fan of Clinton, but there was no way in hell that I would have rooted for Serbia to beat us in the Kosovo war. Craven political calculation seems to be driving reportage on this war, and it's disgusting. The only hope of our enemies is for us to shoot ourselves in the head and surrender, and the Chomsky-ites and Michael Moore's among us are only too happy to comply.

My biggest complaint with the Bush administration is the spectacularly poor job they have done of communicating our goals and progress in the war in Iraq. Even with a hostile media there is much more they could do to aid in their own cause. There's been plenty of negative propaganda and an extreme lack of positive propaganda. This is something that blogs do a good job of correcting, the problem being that blogs have limited readership and thus influence. Especially when you average eight hits a day like me ;).

Finding the Right Troop Levels

Sorry for the dearth of posts. I haven't been lacking in ideas or motivation, only in time, as I've been writing a paper for a conference (basically done) and I had a big meeting Wednesday for my research project. But while I was thinking of work-related material yesterday I saw this Slate article entitled "The Pentagon's Fuzzy Math."

Note: I'm an engineer coming from the standpoint that if you can't quantify it, it doesn't exist. Fortunately you can quantify almost anything. The following is mildly technical, but the concepts should be understandable for smart people of any background. [Note to the Note: I may not be the best judge of who will understand this, so if you don't, it doesn't mean you're an idiot.]

The problem of determining optimal troop levels is obviously difficult due to all the uncertainties involved in what wars/peacekeeping/nation-building/insurgent-crushing/war-mongering/et-cetera will happen in the future. But there are techniques for managing uncertainty and risk in these situations that aren't that complicated. How so?

First, assume that the Pentagon has some kind of model that can determine the troop levels required for a wide-range of scenarios. If they don't, heads should roll and some quick assumptions can be made to create a rough one based on past experience and war-gaming results.

Then the intelligence people should develop a list of possible scenarios and provide a range of values capturing the probability of that scenario happening over some specified period of time. For example, suppose they say there is a 0-40% chance of war with Iran over the next five years, that would be one input.

The last step is to integrate these into a combined model that will randomly determine, based off the distributions provided by the intel folks, what scenarios will occur and calculate the required troop levels for that. This model should be run many, many times (tens of thousands, the process is called Monte Carlo simulation) and the results can be analyzed to show what the chance of any troop level being insufficient will be (based on the assumptions made by the troop-required model and the intel scenarios). This gives some idea of the risk associated with any given troop level. See, not so hard. It can be made much more complicated, but this kind of technique is not that difficult to apply, and I'd be surprised if somebody in the Pentagon hasn't done it. I would be tempted to make my own BS assumptions and troop-model for illustrative purposes but since I can't post pictures here I wouldn't be able to share it (oh yeah, and I'm lazy).

The problem is that people aren't interested in getting a real answer; this being politics they are mainly concerned with scoring points at Bush's expense and/or burnishing their tough-on-defense credentials, not that I'm cynical or anything (*cough* *cough*).

Thursday, June 17, 2004

What Does International Law Really Say?

I'm tired of hearing about how the U.S. is violating the Geneva Conventions and other "international law" (see this link to see why I believe this term requires scare quotes). So I looked up the Geneva conventions and the UN Convention against Torture to see what they REALLY say.

First a little background information on the documents. The Third Geneva Convention describes the treatment of prisoners-of-war, including who is a POW and endless regulations on how they are to be treated. The Fourth Geneva Convention describes how civilians are to be treated. And the UN Convention on Torture defines torture and explains how torturers are to be punished and torture is to be prevented. The last is a more recent document which was only ratified by the U.S. ten years ago, the others date from ~1950.

Third Geneva Convention (Prisoners-of-War)

Article 4 defines who qualifies as a POW and hence is protected under this treaty as follows:

"Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war."

Terrorists clearly do not qualify under any of these six categories. The closest would be the second one; however, terrorists do not generally "a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance" or "carry arms openly" and they most certainly do NOT "the laws and customs of war." Therefore, the Third Geneva Convention grants NO rights to terrorists.

Fourth Geneva Convention (Civilians)

Protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention are defined as:

"Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are."

This one is a bit more tricky. Terrorists would qualify under the first paragraph. The second paragraph brings up the question: do terrorists count as Nationals of their original state or do they sacrifice that by affiliating with state-less terrorist groups? Let's assume that they qualify as Nationals of whatever state they are citizens of. Even if this is the case the last sentence in the above quote excludes them from protection as protected persons, as the countries they are from generally "have normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are." Even assuming they would be protected persons there is another loophole by which they could be excluded:

"Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention."

Under the most generous interpretation possible, even if terrorists would have been protected, they are no longer if they are "definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State [i.e. U.S.]" if that is "prejudicial to the security of [the U.S.]."

This explains why the secret detention
of some prisoners in Iraq is not in contravention to the Geneva Conventions.

Geneva Convention Conclusions

Terrorists are not protected under any part of the Geneva Convention (feel free to read the References at the bottom of this post to see for yourself). Journalists who claim the Geneva Convention rules "unquestionably apply" to prisoners in Iraq are either lying or inexcusably ill-informed. Only members of Saddam's military who were captured in uniform, carrying arms openly, and haven't committed any war crimes are eligible for Geneva's generous rights and privileges. Others need not apply. Does this mean that the U.S. has not violated "international law" in its treatment of prisoner and detainees? Not necessarily, there's more.

UN Convention on Torture

The UN Convention defines torture as:

"the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

There are two unclear portions of this definition: how is "severe pain or suffering" defined (i.e. how severe is severe), and the last sentence, which opens a loophole if it arises as part of "lawful sanctions." A clue is perhaps provided in the following section:

"Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture."

This makes it pretty clear that there are no exceptions to the provisions of the treaty. There is still the question of what "severe" means but less us presume that our behavior of detainees in Iraq qualifies, does that mean the U.S. has violated "international law"? We can now answer with a firm maybe.

My Opinion

I would define "severe" as "causing permanent harm." Anything short of this threshold does not constitute torture in my eyes. Therefore only a very small number of the "torture" allegations made against the U.S. actually qualify as such. Interrogation techniques like using dogs for intimidation, depriving prisoners of sleep, and "mild non-injurious physical contact" (to quote the Pentagon) do not qualify as torture.


Third Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
UN Convention on Torture

Color Me Confused (the 737 ?!?)

Color me confused. I've seen several articles on how the Navy has selected the Boeing 737 to be its replacement for the Lockheed P-3 Orion as a submarine hunting vehicle (the best of which is here). The 737 does not compare favorably to the existing P-3 for this mission.

The P-3 originated from the Lockheed Constellation airliner back at the beginning of the jet age in the 1950's. The Constellation was eclipsed by the Boeing 707 and its ilk which were capable of much better performance. It found a niche use in the Navy as sub-hunter and maritime reconnaisance vehicle, for which its slow speed was an advantage, not an impediment. The 737 has been one of the most successful passenger jets of all time, with Boeing having sold many thousands. It was designed for much higher speeds, though its size and range are roughly comparable to the P-3.

Submarine hunting requires the ability for long endurance, low and slow flying. The P-3 handles this mission beautifully. According to this site, it has an endurance of 16 hours at 203 knots (233 mph) and an altitude of 1,000 ft. In contrast, this site lists the 737 specifications. It has a much higher cruise speed (533 mph, and presumably at a much higher altitude, though that's not listed), and a much reduced loiter capability. The site does not list its loiter ability but calculating based off the given cruise speed (938 km/hr) and the cruise range (6,038 km) yields an endurance of 6.4 hours. It is possible that flying slower could improve this, but not by enough to match the P-3. And this is also at a higher altitude at which the vehicle will not likely be operating.

The P-3 is able to loiter more effectively because it is a turbo-prop powered vehicle (see this old post of mine on propulsion systems). Turbo-props are more efficient at moderate subsonic flight speeds (about half the speed of sound). It does not make sense to use a turbo-fan powered vehicle like the 737 for this mission. It makes even less sense to use a vehicle with only two engines (note that the P-3 has four). A submarine hunter will spend much time over the water (obviously) and, even with today's much more reliable jet engines, it still makes sense to have some redundancy for this type of mission.

The only explanation I can come up with for how this vehicle won is that the decision was taken for purely political reasons. The Strategy Page article I link to above hints at this, saying the decision may have been influenced by Boeing's losing the Joint Strike Fighter contract. The contract is also a cost-plus contract, where Boeing's profits increase the more expensive the vehicle is, creating all kinds of dis-incentives for efficiency.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson's Secret Victory Plan

Victor Hanson makes a somewhat questionable claim in his latest column:

"Nearly three years after 9/11 we are in the strangest of all paradoxes: a war against fascists that we can easily win but are clearly not ready to fully wage. We have the best 500,000 soldiers in the history of civilization, a resolute president, and an informed citizenry that has already received a terrible preemptive blow that killed thousands."

If Hanson has some secret victory plan perhaps it is time he shared it with the rest of us. We're not at a point in history where we can go about the world conquering other countries (I'm speculating on this point). The proliferation of small arms is such that we would have to be incredibly ruthless to succeed. That's just not politically feasible for any democracy. Which is unfortunate, because it might be the only way to truly defeat them without destroying the Middle East (which itself would only become tenable after a particularly horrific attack on us). The optimum solution (not requiring divine intervention [hopefully]) is the path we are on, transforming the Middle East such that the terrorist fishes have no sea in which to swim.

In the article I think Hanson gives the terrorists entirely too much credit in creating a strategery with which to "defeat" us. He says:

"I think Islamofascism is brilliant in its reading of the postmodern West and precisely for that reason it is dangerous beyond all description..."

Bin Laden and his ilk are not nearly that brilliant. They are fortunate that the West has become so decadent as to contain a Fifth Column of Leftists who control the media and are desirous of the West's humiliation and destruction for irrational reasons (as it would also mean their own death). Most Leftists are not so idiotic as to voice this goal, but there are some who are; such as the environmentalist wackos who believe killing all human life is necessary to preserve "Mother Earth."

Our terrorist enemies are far from a monolithic foe. Theirs is a behavior that has emerged from many different sources. There are dozens of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and of course Al Qaeda, that do not (and indeed cannot, for fear of being found and destroyed) communicate to the point of creating a grand strategy. Any global strategy that appears is an emergent behavior analogous to an ant colony developing a "hive mind." (The comparison of terrorists to ants is quite fitting, as they are truly on that level) Let us not give our enemies too much credit, for they clearly have not thought their course of action to its only logical end: they all die premature deaths (hopefully at our hand). I would flesh this out more, but it's late and I'm lazy. B-bye.

An Intellectual Basis for Conservatism

Wanted to share this quote from Hayek (from this article in Reason about gay marriage):

"It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depends. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made man submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism."

Much truth is contained in this, the primary point being: don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The glue of civilization is the things we do (or don't do) without thinking about them. Things like waiting in line, where everyone is equal (most of the time, obviously rich people aren't as affected). One of those things used to be the definition of marriage, until recently. People have difficulty coming up with a reasoned objection to gay marriage because the definition of marriage is something that has been taken for granted for...ever, basically.

Unfortunately this is a logical extension of the path we have placed ourselves on a long time ago, with shortsighted policies like no-fault divorce. Even the Reason author (who later in the article comes down on the side of gay marriage) says:

"But when modern societies abolished the stigmas on illegitimacy, divorce, and all the rest, whole portions of the social structure just caved in."

Foolish dabbling with social policy has gotten us to this point. Change should not be pursued for change's sake. That's the point of conservatism.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Not In My Vacation BackYard (NIMVBY)

A friend of mine, has post on her blog type-thing and I thought I'd comment. It's about how city folk in New Zealand are going out to the country and then complaining about the noise the farmers create.

First of all, does New Zealand have big enough cities that people need to escape the "stresses of the city"?

Second, it's not really that surprising. If I've learned anything as an adult it's that adults sure act like children a lot. If, as a kid, I whined about how my mom's vacuuming was disturbing me playing with GI Joe's it's a sure bet that I'd be in trouble. Maybe adults that act like children should be treated like children. For example, these people complaining about the farmers could be sent to their rooms to think about what they did.

How is it that people maintain this child-like sense of privilege into adulthood? I'm thinking it has something to do with the current anti-spanking mindset. Instead of having laws to outlaw spanking, maybe we should have laws that outlaw not-spanking children. Because ALL children deserve to be spanked at some point. I know if my mom didn't spank me I'd be a mess.

The attitude displayed by these people is the same type of attitude that is responsible for higher airline ticket prices. How? Because people who chose to live near airports complained about how noisy airplanes are, there are now regulations limiting the noise levels for aircraft. This constrains the engine such that it is less efficient as well as incurring additional design and maintenace costs, making ticket prices higher. I have a simple solution:

If you don't like the sound of airplanes, don't live near a frelling airport!

Problem solved. No one's forcing anybody to live near an airport. Move, and/or quit yer bitchin'. Same to the New Zealander pansies.

"Everything cool winds up looking like Darth Vader's helmet"

The title is a quote from this post by new blogroll member Ace of Spades. The other new blogroll member, Bastard Sword, has a post
with a picture of a new Swedish stealth destroyer that illustrates his point.

Note in the second article that the Swedes say the key to stealth is angles and that they used a "secret angle." Unless I'm mistaken, we've been stuck with the same angles since Euclid formalized geometry over 2,000 years ago. Perhaps the Swedes have found a dreaded "imaginary" angle.

Also note that the Swedish destroyer "controlled by state-of-the-art computers using a Windows NT operating system." Two points, first Windows NT is not state-of-the-art. Second, WINDOWS? You're placing the defense of your country in the hands of a Microsoft product. Thank God I don't live in Sweden (for more reasons than just that, though).

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Paradox of Political Compromise

I was reading this article on how Reagan won the Cold War and it got me thinking about how and why it is that only those who previously held views on one extreme can implement policies on the other extreme (another way of saying this is that a politician on one side of the political spectrum is better able to implement the policies of the other side). Reagan is a good example of this.

He came into office the consummate Cold Warrior, spending money on defense like a drunken sailor and spouting very hawkish rhetoric about the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. But in his second term he negotiated myriad arms control agreements with the Soviets, even offering to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely. If someone like Carter or Mondale (who has the unique distinction of being the only politician to lose an election in all 50 states [losing 49 states to Reagan and recently losing a Senate race in his home state]) had tried to follow this policy of detente, he would have been eaten alive by conservatives. Because Reagan had already established his bona fides as a hawk, he was able to act like a dove.

This can be very irritating for those on the same side as the perpetrator, like when liberals got angry at Clinton for signing the welfare reform bill. So the paradox is that sometimes the only way to get something relatively extreme enacted is for the other side to do it. Sad but true.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Maybe Osama bin Laden Was Right, Maybe We Are A Nation of Pansies

Sorry I've been away. I took a vacation, and I haven't really felt like posting since. I'm getting weary of it all and haven't thought I had much of an original contribution to make. So I'll talk about that and hopefully I'll bring myself around. Or not, let's see.

Osama bin Laden clearly misjudged the United States short-term response to the 9/11 attacks, thinking he could draw us into an extended guerrilla war in Afghanistan (a la Soviet Union). We kicked terrorist butt by matching their asymmetric attack with our own brand of asymmetry (Special Forces and JDAMs). But Osama may have been correct in thinking us to be a weak, impatient society ready to crumble.

In any war there will be times when victory seems an eternity away and the temptation to give up is great. We are in one of those times now in Iraq. While things are clearly getting better the security situation is still poor and the poor performance of the Iraqi police and security forces make it unlikely that it will change in the near future. Things seem pretty bad.

Once one steps back from the distressing media reports from major media outlets the negativity of the situation seems much more suspect. Many of the links on my blogroll to your right have letters from servicemen who have first-hand knowledge of the situation in Iraq and say that the media greatly exaggerates all negatives while ignoring positive developments. This is unfortunate in that it provides normal people with a distorted view of the true situation.

And yet, even with the media's excessively negative portrayal of Iraq there is no excuse for the lack of resolve displayed by many in the formerly pro-war category (the anti-war people have the excuse of being idiots [or at least woefully misinformed]). Support for the war has fallen significantly and now may be below the .500 level. Are we to give up this easily? Was Osama correct in calling us weak and impatient fools?

I hope not, but it is beginning to look that way. By any rational measure our post-9/11 course has been a resounding success. Al Qaeda has been weakened and splintered, its ability to pull-off massive coordinated attacks destroyed. Saddam Hussein ... rotting in jail. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan ... more free than ever. Attacks on U.S. soil ... ZERO. American military dead ... fewer than a thousand. And yet still we prevaricate and navel-gaze with the 9/11 hearings and the Abu Ghraib prisoner crap.

Hello people, we are winning! Merely because we aren't hearing an unending stream of only good news does not mean we face defeat. If the U.S. had given up after the first six months of WWII when the news was unendingly bad, where would we be? We must have the same level of resolve in facing our own battle. It's time for people to buckle up for the long haul. This will be a "long, hard slog" to quote Rumsfeld. It would be better if we could just snap our fingers and change terrorists to law-abiding citizens, but that's not the way the world works. It's time to pull yourself together and quit yer bitchin'.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Bush Leads to Communism?

Was perusing this Slate article and was amazed by the appalling overstatement of his case. I will therefore give the article two Fisks and call him in the morning. Let us begin.

"While neoconservatives in the Bush administration remake American foreign policy, another cadre of ideologues—call them the neoconomists—is busy attempting to transform American society."

I hate to be the one to break it to ya pal but foreign policy has been remade, only the degree remains to be determined. If we are successful, Iraq may become the model for more forays into democracy production. The follow-on work should be easier as our enemies will have already given our defeat their best shot, but that's another story.

"The revolution in economic policy is not being televised. There was no big speech by President Bush to mark its birth, no "Axis of Evil" catchphrase designed to capture headlines. Yet it is every bit as dramatic and risky a change."

It seems to me that Bush's economic policy has been the cause of much consternation, with its large tax cuts and like-he-has-a-rich-uncle spending.

"The neoconomists have one goal: to increase the rate at which the economy grows by changing how the nation uses its resources. It is a worthy goal, too. Following such as path could lead to a period of untold prosperity, with living standards rising faster than ever before. Or it might not. But even if the plan works, it might just lead to the collapse of the capitalist system."

Sounds like a pretty good goal to me. But whoa, nelly. Don't you think that it leading "to the collapse of the capitalist system" is a little eensy weensy tiny little bit over-the-top? Especially since cutting taxes seems more conducive to capitalism. Let's see if you can back that kind of talk up.

Removed a couple of paragraphs describing Bush's advisor and their super-cool plan to maximize our economic long-term potential. Good times

"With George W. Bush's cooperation, the first steps have already been taken. So far, the president has signed bills eliminating the estate tax, lowering the tax rates on dividends and capital gains, and helping companies to reduce the tax they pay on their profits. In addition, by cutting rates for "ordinary" income, the Bush administration has lowered taxes on interest payments, rental income and income from mutual funds, and pensions and retirement accounts. (Though slated to be temporary, the Bush administration is campaigning to make its tax breaks permanent.) All of these changes make it relatively more attractive to accumulate wealth than to spend money."

Mmmmmm lower taxes. Doh! More money good.

"In addition, the White House is pushing for an initiative that would almost single-handedly accomplish Hubbard and Lindsey's goal: a huge expansion of tax-free savings accounts. And the growth of these tax-free savings accounts would dovetail well with the White House's plan for reforming Social Security, which calls for the creation of another type of tax-free investment account for every working American."

I seem to recall economists and pundits complaining about the lack of savings in the U.S. over the past ten years since I started following this kind of stuff. Shouldn't people be happy that we're encouraging savings?

"Hubbard and Lindsey's agenda is long-term, but it has already incurred some substantial costs. In the short term, their focus on savings has offered relatively little stimulus to the economy. Had the White House directed more incentives toward spending, the lag between recession and recovery might have been shorter."

OK, so it's possible that by changing the tax cuts the recession would have been shorter. So what? The economic policy should try to maximize growth and growth potential over the long-term. You can't win: target short-term growth and be accuse of ignoring economic long-term health for political gain and target long-term growth and people complain that they're not getting everything right now.

"In the long term, the cost of the Bush administration's policy has been forgone opportunities. The combination of the weak economy and the White House's decadelong schedule of tax cuts has left future administrations with little room to maneuver. Forecasts for budget balances from 2002 to 2011 have dropped from $5.6 trillion in surpluses to $2.9 trillion in deficits in the past three years. In the coming years, the federal government will have little money to invest in economic growth directly, by spending money on education, worker training, or basic research, which generate reliably high returns to society in the long run."

Perhaps the whole lack of flexibility is the point. Makes it more difficult for the Droopy-man to screw things up just in case the electorate has a temporary bout of insanity. And long-term economic forecasts based off short-term trends are ALWAYS wrong; meaning those numbers count for jack squat.

"This latter cost is particularly germane, since there is no assurance that the positive chain-reaction the neoconomists envision will actually occur. Hubbard and Lindsey's strategy has never been tried in a large, wealthy economy. One flaw in the theory is that American savings do not always stay in America for use by American companies. In the past two decades, the share of savings sent abroad appears to have risen from about 10 percent to at least 40 percent. And when the Treasury borrows to make up for large deficits, more American savings will end up in the hands of government and less in investments by businesses."

Beep beep, be-be-be-beep, beep. Newsflash: This just in "The future is uncertain!" Uh, thank you very much Captain Obvious. There is no guarantee of anything. The logic is sound and all the economic models predict more growth, what more do want? Someone to come back from the future and tell you everything will be OK?

"The speedy growth of the economy in the last three quarters—averaging more than 5 percent at an annual rate—could signal impressive things to come. And the experience of the Clinton administration proved that even the biggest deficits can disappear given a broad enough expansion in the economy. But even if the Bush administration succeeds, its policies could create two problems that could undo all their positive effects: rising inequality and a drastic change in incentives."

Right now everythings great, but... and there's always a but ... "rising inequality and a drastic change in incentives" will cause the end of the world. We'll talk about inequality later but the whole drastic change in incentives thing is the whole point. That's what's supposed to cause the frickin growth!

"Wealthier people derive more of their income from returns on saving—both in dollar terms and as a proportion of income—than poor people do. When taxes on the return from savings suddenly disappear, the wealthy benefit the most. It may be that people who depend on their jobs for income will benefit, too, in the long run, thanks to an expanding economy and rising wages. But for several years, in all likelihood, the income gap will continue to widen."

So what? (I seem to be saying that alot lately, maybe I need to change the name of my blog?) The income gap is a chimera. No one gives a crap unless their situation is declining, which it shouldn't.

"That income gap poses some real dangers to the economy and even to the earnings of the wealthy. With rising inequality, it's harder for poor people to obtain economic opportunities, because chances to get education and training, or to bring ideas to market, depend on money as well as talent, and because the number of these opportunities is limited."

Rising inequality only makes it harder for poor people if the inequality is resulting from them being worse-off. That shoudn't be the case; the rich will just be more better-off. It will be easier for rich people to donate to charities to help these people get more opportunities or to invest their money to bring more jobs to help these people. And let's remember that we're not stealing from poor people to give to the rich, we're letting the rich keep more of their money.

"The Bush administration has done little to alleviate either of these conditions. So, when income gaps widen, more of the potential of poor people—even the smartest and most innovative poor people—will inevitably be wasted. The wealthier people who own America's companies won't have as skilled a workforce, or as fast a flow of new ideas, as they might have had otherwise."

See above. Why is that some people think the government should solve every problem? There are many opportunities; the people who are "wasted" choose to be that way.

"Perhaps more important, abolishing taxes on saving would give people every incentive to receive all their income from financial assets rather than wages and salaries. For some, spending all day adjusting one's portfolio might make more sense than taking a job. Even people who work will seek ways to avoid taxes, for example by being paid solely in stock options or high-interest bonds."

The number of people who could afford to spend "all day adjusting one's portfolio" is not going to be a big loss; others will fill their shoes. And isn't it possible that these people would actually contribute to the economy by investing in more productive areas to maximize their return on investment? Isn't that the whole point?

"Of course, those people would probably be chief executives and other financial sophisticates, rather than home health workers, call-center operators, and short-order cooks. Eventually, the new incentives could lead to a whole new way of classifying people: working and upper-class would be replaced by taxpayer and free-rider. Titans of industry, heirs and heiresses, and wizards of Wall Street wouldn't pay for national defense, cancer research, or President Bush's trip to Mars. All those costs would be borne by America's breadwinners."

Yawn. Let's take a trend and extrapolate to some point way in the distance and point how horrible it will be. For example, if we continue on our present path we will have invaded every country in the world by the year 2500, and then everyone will be extra-special mad at us. Just as worthless.

"It sounds like a recipe for the kind of social unrest that can make an economy stagger, stagnate, or worse. A political backlash would seem almost inevitable. And something worse—like a riotous manifestation of anticapitalist sentiment—would become a real possibility for the first time in decades. And that's what could happen if the theory works."

And now he reveals his true colors: RED. Looks like contrary to the last 150 years of history Karl Marx was right and capitalism will implode. Don't hold your breath. That's about as over-the-top as it gets. Let's follow his logic:

1. Bush tax cut (Yay!)
2. People save more
3. Rich stop working (if you don't count finding productive places to invest work)
4. Poor people see rich, lazy bastards (and don't make the connection that these rich, lazy bastards are the ones providing them with jobs)
5. Poor people get mad
6. Proletariat revolution (viva la Marx!)

Here's another timeline:

1. Bush tax cut (Yay!)
2. People save more
3. Everyone gets richer
4. We all live happily ever after

OK not counting that last point, which do you think is more likely?

Reality Check

I am sick and tired of hearing about this torture crap. If permanent physical harm was done then they should be punished, otherwise shut the hell up already. What planet do these people think we are on? Let's stop bitching and be realistic here. Let me say it again: Psychological manipulation in pursuit of information (i.e. interrogation) is OK. Do not lump this in with real physical torture. Stripping prisoners naked and standing them in pyramids is NOT A BIG DEAL. Does it look bad? Yes, but so frelling what? Are we adults or are we boy scouts here? Give me a break.

It may be time to initiate some turnabout is fair play action. I'm sure our intelligence agencies have amassed a stockpile of pictures, videos, and testimony of torture and abuse done by governments throughout the world. We should flood the media with pictures from every nation that is condemning us and ask them when the trial date for those torturers will be. I know that would not help people realize the difference between us and them but it would at least be a good start. And maybe, just maybe, it would deflect the useless criticism being tossed like so much dren by the "media."

A Study in Contrasts

Read this Time article and this Wired article, about jet contrails causing warming.

If you just read the Time article you would have only heard one side of the story and you might have believed this crap:

"The only way to prove the point is to keep the jets on the tarmac and see what happens. That's exactly what occurred in 2001, between Sept. 11 and 14, when U.S. air travel was shut down following the terrorist attacks. During that period, the swing between daytime highs and nighttime lows sometimes measured more than twice as much as usual, perhaps owing to a reduction in cirrus clouds that allowed collected solar heat to radiate away."

Anyone who has any kind of science background would laugh at this excerpt. You cannot possibly make a valid conclusion about climate change by examining three days. This example exemplifies the worst kind of science reporting. The Wired article, on the other hand, is actually balanced. It includes the dissenting voice of a professor of atmospheric sciences who says:

"'So many processes affect the temperature of the Earth that contrails could easily be acting to cool the Earth, and yet the overall temperature trend could be increasing,' Detwiler said."

The Tree is on Fire

Being busy I wasn't able to comment on this den Beste article. He receives a lot of critical e-mails over minute details of his post that don't affect his main point. This annoys the crap out of him; I think he misunderstands the meaning of their criticism (or at least some of it).

Some of us (i.e. me) have no difficulty distinguishing the forest from the trees, but become distracted when we see errors. I had one teacher in undergrad, for example, who had atrocius grammar and spelling. It was irritating to get handouts with obvious errors, and made it difficult for me to concentrate on the material. Den Beste is obviously nowhere near this bad, and blog posts should be held to a lower standard than most writing. But to some of us, when we see what we perceive as an error it jumps out of the page and slaps us in the face. It's sort of like looking at a forest and seeing one of the trees on fire. You want to put it out before it burns down the whole forest.

Well, I think that metaphor has been beaten to death now. But to some subset of people, when they see errors they almost cannot help but try to correct them. This does not mean that they don't understand the point; it's almost like an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder type thing. But I can only speak for myself and I've only sent Mr. den Beste one e-mail (and made one blog post). While some people may feel this way, it's a good bet that at least as many people are just jackasses trying to show him up and boost their egos.

I'm back... with comments

As some you may already know, Blogger had a big update in my absence and have added comments. So now everyone out there can whine and moan about what a terrible person I am for condoning torture. Yippee.

I should also be updating more frequently now. I finished some big projects recently and actually have some free time. I didn't post over the weekend because I wanted to be lazy, but it's time to crack the whip again.

Monday, May 03, 2004

So what?

It's been big in the news so I'm going to give my take on the Iraqi prisoner abuse story. I would have done it sooner but I'm still much busy.

I guess my response is:

So what?

To quote Spaceballs: "Welcome to real life." [It's my industrial-strength hair-dryer. And I can't live without it!]

Some of what the soldiers did is unacceptable; the physical abuse should be punished. But some of the stuff sounds just fine to me. Few quotes from this article:

"Frederick, the most senior of the six soldiers charged, wrote of inmates being shot with non-lethal bullets, forced to sleep in 3-by-3-foot closets, handcuffed for long periods to the doors of their cells and made to go naked or wear women's underpants."

I would say that all of this is A-OK except maybe for the shooting. And this:

"Prisoners were interrogated using physical coercion, Frederick wrote. One prisoner with a broken arm was choked, he wrote, and dogs were used as tools of intimidation. Prisoners were made to remain for as long as three days in damp isolation cells without a toilet or running water"

Choking bad, rest fine by me.

Why? It works.

"We have had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break," the soldier, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, wrote in a Dec. 18 e-mail released by Frederick's uncle. "They usually end up breaking within hours."

I think that it's bullshit to treat prisoners with kid gloves. These are the bad guys for crying out loud. What else are we going to do? Put them in a country club? What a load of crap. There should be a price to trying to kill our people. We're merciful for not killing them outright.

These are what the interrogation rules should be:
1. No permanent physical harm.
2. See above.

So it's not ok to kill anybody or permanently harm them but everything else is fair game. You almost never hear people bitching about how almost the entire rest of the world does this stuff to their own people.

I think the worst part of the deal is not what happened, but that pictures were taken. The soldiers should be punished for that alone; no sense giving them a recruiting tool. It's a propaganda coup for the other side, and now people on our side (allegedly) will be whining about it for months. Blaa blaa blaa. So what.


I believe that most people in the U.S. share my view. This story is non-starter. Except for self-righteous condemnation by people who are already anti-war, which will be eaten up by people who are already anti-war and ignored by most of us. The only real effect will be to give the enemy some especially effective propaganda.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

But deliver us from Friedman

I'm back from my trip. But still working. No sleep for me. Sorry to force my late night ramblings onto you but I was reading this Friedman article in the NYT and came across this gem:

"Dear Heavenly Father, please keep the leader of China, President Hu Jintao, healthy and on an even keel. Please see to it that he moves steadily and carefully toward restructuring the Chinese banking system and ridding it of its huge overhang of bad loans and corruption, before there is a real meltdown that would be felt around the world. Give him the wisdom to cool the overheated Chinese economy without creating a recession that would prompt China to stop importing like crazy and start just exporting like crazy. And Father, forgive us for all the bad words we used in recent years to describe China's leaders — terms like `Butchers of Beijing.' We did not mean it. We meant to say `Bankers of Beijing,' because their economy is now fueling growth all over Asia, bolstering Japan and sucking up imports from everywhere. May China's leaders live to 120, and may they enjoy 9 percent G.D.P. growth every year of their lives. Thank you, Father. Amen."

Which brings up the obvious question: What is Tom Friedman smoking, and where can I get some? Cuz it must be pretty powerful stuff for him to come up with this crap. Here's a little secret: It is not in our best interest for China to become an economic powerhouse. This should be monstrously manifest. China is NOT our friend; if they become economically powerful they will gain the means to become militarily powerful and THIS WOULD BE A BAD THING. In caveman-speak: China strong bad; China weak good. On the other hand if China were to become powerful we would be back in Cold War mode, with a well-defined, autocratic, nuclear-armed, commie enemy.

Even if a Chinese economic melt-down negatively affected the U.S. economy if it affected the Chinese worser it would still be preferable to the alternative (i.e. super-fast Chinese growth). This sounds harsh. And it is. Welcome to the real world. Some things in life really are zero-sum.

Nota Bene: All misspellings and poor grammar are intentional, even if I am much sleepy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Nukes are Cool

Much busy... won't be posting until next week. Go read this from Bastard Sword about Chernobyl. Here's a teaser:

Death from radiation, aside of those who fought to contain the reactor -- about 3.
Number of amphibious zombie children – 0.
Death from hype, paranoia, and fear-mongering -- 200,000.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Kill 'em All

Came across this article today. Two comments:

1. Tomorrow is Saddam's birthday. So be sure to think of him while you're sittin' on the toilet tomorrow.

2. This paragraph:

"U.S. commanders have said they will not move against the shrines in order to capture al-Sadr, whose armed supporters have launched attacks against the U.S.-led forces. Under the Geneva Conventions (search), firing upon mosques or other holy sites is prohibited unless the structures are being used in battle."

Grrrrrrrrr. Part of me is frustrated that we are returning to the Vietnam-era policy of telling our enemies where we will and will not kill them (unbelievably dumb). And part of me thinks this is necessary to keep from pissing off more people.

Right now the first part is winning the argument. Osama himself said that Arabs look to see who is the strong horse for who they follow. He thought he was in that position. By acting like such pansies and letting our enemies take advantage of us like this, we look like a pretty weak horse. I think we should mount up, grab a lance and go medieval on them.

(As a snide side note, I noticed the author uses the phrase "in order" which adds nothing and shouldn't be there. Tsk. Tsk.)

The title is referring only those who oppose us, of course, so don't get your knickers in a twist.

Update: Also see this related One Hand Clapping post.

You know you're crazy when tell yourself, out loud, to stop talking to yourself. talk to your computer, again out loud, and expect it to do something. (I feel bad for the guy who I share a cubicle with) growl (audibly) at inanimate objects (including your computer of course).

Monday, April 26, 2004

Classic Joke

I'm bored so I'm going to pass along a dorky math joke proving that girls are evil.

Step one is that girls require time and money or...

Girls = Time * Money

But, as the saying goes, time is equal to money so substituting...

Girls = Money * Money = Money^2

The Bible says that money is the root of all evil so...

sqrt(Money^2) = Evil


Girls = Evil

I have more bad math jokes, but without equation editor I don't think I can get them on this blog. Oh well.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

International Law

International Law has no meaning without international law enforcement. This is a hard reality that too many people refuse to face, but there is no law with no law enforcement.

If A enters into a contract with B, promising to trade ten thousand bucks in exchange for a car, and B accepts his ten thousand but does not hand over the car, B can go to the authorities who will, by force if necessary, fulfill their contract. If there is no authority to go to B's only recourse is to enforce the contract by whatever means are available to him (or just cut his losses).

In the international system there is no authority to enforce contracts (international law) between nations (and the UN definitely does NOT count) and therefore they are in the same boat as B in the example above. The quote from this post is particularly relevant:

"for you know as well as we that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

It matters not who is correct in the legal sense unless the two parties are equal (that is why the phrase "all people are equal before the law" is so important). So whenever someone invokes international law they are spouting out their ass not their mouth, because international law is meaningless without enforcement.

[I thought of a better excuse for creating a post out of that quote.. Yippee]

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Military Reorganization

With a name like "Antidisestablishmentarianismesque" I feel some obligation to be negative (anti-,dis-). But as I mentioned here I also want to include some positive articles where I lay out what I think we should be doing. So in this article I'm going to make some suggestions on how the U.S. can alter its military policies to adapt to the ongoing struggle against Islamo-thugs.

First it is important to recognize some of the realities. The war in Iraq is expensive, in both men and material (I'm using men in the human sense, and I'm not talking about large numbers of death but that many are tied down there). It is causing an immense strain to keep ~130,000 people stationed in Iraq out of a total force of over a million. That should not be; it clearly implies that the basic organization of our forces is out of balance. What can be done?

In the short-term it would be advisable for Bush to make this reality clear to all Americans. We are in a state of war and it will require some sacrifices. As a temporary measure and one of these sacrifices I believe that we should mobilize or adequately equip to mobilize a large portion of our Reserve and National Guard forces. This would send a signal that we are in a serious war that we intend on winning. As a corollary to this the defense budget should be vastly increased to replenish our stocks of equipment and ammunition and ensure there is sufficient funds to allow the high-level of training that is our military's greatest strength.

In a more medium or long-term sense, it appears likely that we will be engaged in this type of low-level, manpower-intensive conflict on a fairly regular basis. We should re-structure our forces to be better prepared for this type of conflict. We should keep a smaller, mechanized force capable of the type of maneuver warfare practiced in Iraq, capable of defeating any possible threat from a threat countries armed forces. But we should also have a large cadre of light infantry troops trained for guerrilla warfare, peacekeeping, reconstruction, counter-insurgency type operations. This would allow us to handle future threats with whichever force is most suited to that threat. Currently we compromise our ability to handle these types of conflicts by primarily training to fight other armies. By maintaining two parallel force structures we could handle either type of conflict equally well. That is my theory anyway. I do not expect it to come about but that is what I think we should do about that.

A Big Bite of Stupid

I'm bored with writing a report on multi-discplinary optimization strategies so I'm going to go all snarky on Oliver Willis, who prominently claims that his blog is "Like Kryptonite to Stupid." That kind of arrogance is just begging for a response. I found the following all on his front page (as of today).

First Monsieur Willis discusses the calls for John Kerry to be more forthcoming on his war records (after explicitly saying that he would open his records up [which Willis conveniently fails to mention]).

The man got injured saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, fighting for his country -- and for that they have the nerve to question his patriotism? No shame.

I, for one, do not understand how asking for some records (which is being done by journalists and not just Republicans) constitutes questioning his patriotism. That charge sounds, well, STUPID. Though I would like it to be noted that it is hard to say that Kerry's Vietnam service qualifies him as a patriot, considering the vitriolic hooey that he spewed upon his return (and those are just examples from the National Review).

Next there's this response to a Denbeste article (link in his post).

Steven Den Beste has an email exchange with a French journalist in which he makes it pretty clear he'd like every journalistic enterprise to act as a stenographer for the Bushes rather than reporting... the news. Thanks, Fox, for lowering the standards!

That would be untrue. It is one thing to talk to vicious, nasty people; it is a very different thing to stand idly by while they do vicious, nasty things to people who you are supposedly allied to. Failing to recognize this clear, simple distinction qualifies as STUPID in my book.

Lastly is this little gem about Bush's comments last night or the night before.

I would like Bush to show a little humility, admit that the government wasn't 100% on point before 9/11 but there wasn't a whole lot he could do to prevent it (something I believe to a point). But I could do a little less with the "America Is Now Open For Terrorism" signs.

"Our intelligence is good -- it's just never perfect, is the problem," Bush said. "We are disrupting some cells here in America. We're chasing people down. But it is . . . a big country."

Bush added: "Have a good night's sleep, now I'm off to my lead-lined bunker!"

Bush is being realistic. It would be STUPID to say that there is no chance of another terrorist attack on our soil. He is trying to make the point that the government is doing what it can but that perfection is not achievable. And, I hate to say it, but true perfection is NEVER achievable in anything, and certainly not anything the government is involved in. This should be obvious, but apparently not for someone who is STUPID.

The Nature of Criticism

I've been thinking that perhaps in my Fiskings I have been too strident and over-the-top. It's more fun the more extreme I take it, but it may not be particularly effective. It's too easy to criticize. As I was commenting to a classmate of mine the other day, I could find something to criticize in ANYTHING (including, no especially, my own work). Focusing purely on negative (i.e. critical) commentary is too easy; it amounts to more of a self-congratulatory intellectual masturbation than any sort of critical thinking. But it is alot of fun, so I'll continue to do it. I will try to accompany my criticism, however, with what I think should be done. Anyone can come up with reasons why something is a bad idea; it's much more difficult to generate a real alternative. This seems to be the problem with John Kerry's campaign; he's running on the not-Bush platform, with no real ideas of his own. And it's clearly not working.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Higher Education

There is an excellent article at Techcentral Station today entitled "The Professoriate and the Truth."

Here's a few choice excerpts with comments:

Most relativists, however, are not consistent. Their actions are at odds with what they claim to believe because no sane person could seriously hold the pernicious and absurd beliefs to which relativists are committed. This is shown every time relativists consult a physician, not a faith healer; call a plumber to unclog a sink, not a magician; want rapists prosecuted, not held up as role-models; and send their children to school, not to a shopping mall.

True enough, these type of absurdist beliefs seem to abound. I find it irritating.

In discussing students, Kekes says:

Doing well is severed from intelligence and hard work. Students see this, it makes them cynical, saps their motivation, and, since learning is often hard, it makes them flock to what are known as "gut courses," that is, courses in which they can count on getting high grades without much effort.

I can certainly relate to this. Even in a field as demanding as Aerospace engineering (which I chose at least in part because it IS difficult) there are certain teachers and classes that are quite easy and a waste of time.

Professors tend to be intelligent and analytical, consequently it is most unlikely that the deplorable state of higher education I have been describing would be news to them.

I think that Kekes is underestimating the power of self-delusion. These people have convinced themselves of something that is manifestly wrong; the only way to do that is to lie to yourself. The problem with that is before long you can't tell the difference between lies and truth (which does make them good little relativists). I think that many don't think that higher education is in a "deplorable state." This type of relativistic self-delusion is a big part of the problem. I have no idea how to burst this kind of idiot bubble, because it's obvious the truth isn't enough.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rock on

The Creator of the Universe links to this picture from the Droopareeno's web site (yes, it is real, and not an [intentional] parody). Just thought I'd pass that along.

Blaa blaa blaa

I've decided to post an e-mail address for people to contact me, see below and in the sidebar. Partly because I'm too lazy to figure out how to get comments added to my blog and partly because I've signed up for a new (and very cool) Google G-mail account and now that I have four (yes, four) e-mail accounts I figure I need some reason to check my hotmail account. This gives me a little motivation to check that account more often. That's all, hopefully I'll have something more substantial to say later.

E-mail Me (if you must)

<----We interrupt this blogging to bring you this public service announcement.---->

It's kind of cheap for me to be taking pot shots left and right without leaving a way for people to shoot back. So if someone really feels the need to talk back send mail to ccj96 -at- I've got it set-up so everything starts out in the junk mail folder so please put "YOU'RE MY HERO" (in all caps, too) in the subject line so I know not to just delete it.

<----We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. Thank you.---->

It's not convincing, if it's written like poo


Sweet. Another idiot makes historically uninformed analogies and ridiculously unsupported arguments about Iraq, in an article entitled "It's Not Nam, But It'll Do." Time to pull out the Fisk stick and beat him in the head with it. Here goes...

I tried making a little fridge list of Iraq options. I came up with one: "nukes?" The nukes aren't much use now, with no Russia to do High Noon with. So dust off a Fallujah-sized neutron bomb, and let it do its thing.

This list of options seems somehow... incomplete. Perhaps the "War Nerd" (scare quotes deliberate) is suffering from a lack of imagination? Oh, and Russia still exists (last time I checked), it's ye olde Soviet Union that is in the dust bin of history... and the Russkies still have nukes, as well as the Chinese, so if we really felt like getting into a nuclear conflagration there are plenty of other possibilities. And if this guy thinks Vietnam was bad, just imagine how pissed the world would be if we nuked Iraq (much better to just Nuke the Moon:)). Before the situation got so bad we needed to pull out nukes we could just pull some of Saddam's methods out because we all know how much the Iraqis loved that.

It'd make more sense that what we're doing now, fighting the enemy's war. It's real simple: when we're fighting a combined-arms, mobile, armored war, we're fighting our war. When we're hunkered down in somebody's backyard trading potshots over the adobe fence, we're fighting their war all the way. At that point it's just rifleman vs. rifleman, and the enemy has the advantage, because he knows the neighborhood.

Wait just a dental-flossing minute here. Who is fighting who's war? If we were fighting the enemy's war we'd still be issuing warrants for terrorists arrest and the Taliban and Saddam would still be in power. We have seized the strategic initiative from the bastards. It is important to not lose that initiative in Iraq, but we ain't lost it yet. We have proved capable of fighting almost any type of war. Obviously we can kick some serious ass in combined arms force-on-force type war, but we haven't exactly been getting our asses handed back to us in Iraq. Take this quote from a recent Belmont Club post,

...the Americans are demonstrating two new countervailing capacities of their own. They have shown that US forces can take any urban area at casualty rates less than 1 to 50. Second, they have begun to wage joint political warfare in cooperation with the Iraqi governing council.

Fifty casualties to one doesn't exactly sound like the "enemy's war." It sounds like an old fashioned ass whoopin'. Our superior training gives us the advantage in any type of battle. The army is not composed of a bunch of Russian conscripts; we give much more than we take.

I just saw video of the Marines in Fallujah sniping by nightscope. They fire over the wall, some Ahmed fires back, it goes on all night and you've got just as good a chance of killing Ahmed's donkey or his two-year-old daughter as getting him.

See above, nothing new here. Our Marines are going to be a much better shot than your average Muhammed. Much more likely that Ahmed will accidently shoot his own two-year-old daughter and then show her to Al Jazeera and claim it was us.

There's another way. You do it the way we were starting to do in Nam, when Colby came up with the Phoenix program. You find out who's shooting at you, and then you send somebody quiet to kill him and anybody who works with him.

Do you honestly think that the military is telling the media the whole story on how we're fighting? If you're that gullible then I've got this website with traffic through-the-roof that I'd be happy to sell you. I can guarantee you that more is happening than you see on the news. I thought nerds were smart.

But to do that you have to have this little thing called intelligence, and we ain't got none, because if we did we'd have to admit the Iraqis are the enemy, and these crazymen, Bush and Wolfowitz, won't admit that. So all we can do when they get unfriendly is fire blind into those mud huts.

You frelling idiot. Have you ever studied Vietnam? Categorizing everyone as the enemy is the surest possible way to turn everybody into an enemy. That would be the dumbest thing possible (other than that nuke suggestion [War Nerd seems to be making a very different list of things to do about Iraq]).

I heard a Marine officer complaining that the insurgents in Fallujah use the locals for human shields. Don't they teach you anything about guerrilla war in the service? The whole idea of guerrilla warfare is to hide in the civilian population. You snipe from the mosque or the kindergarten till finally the occupiers get mad enough to start firing blind at the mosque, the kindergarten, whatever. The people blame the occupiers, not the guerrilla. You're doing the guerrillas' recruiting for them.

Of course the Marines are going to complain about the use of human shields; it's cowardly, and illegal according to the Geneva Convention. What should he do, give the terrorist a medal? With 50:1 exchange ratios it sounds like we're thinning their ranks, not filling them. It'd take a hell of a lot of recruits to replace those kind of losses.

It's a little weird, if you ask me, how nobody in charge seems to know all that. After all, we just went through a whole century of guerrilla warfare. Take a world map, point at random and you'll find a country that probably had a guerrilla war in the past 100 years.

But we're acting like it's a shock, like the Iraqis are breaking the rules. That's like calling a personal foul in a bar brawl.

I'd just like to re-reiterate my point about the 50:1 casualty ratio, because it sure seems to me that we've learned how to handle guerrila war's militarily. Another quote from the Belmont Club article linked above...

Lost in the frenetic headlines of the last week was an unnoticed military revolution. Never in history have 1,200 men stormed a city of 230,000 in urban combat without extensively using heavy weapons before the US Marines did in Fallujah. This is nothing short of amazing because the 90% of the combat power of an infantry unit is embodied in their heavy weapons. And they were stopped only by a truce, not by enemy resistance.

The only thing that is shocking is how thoroughly outclassed the Islamo-thugs are. 'Nuff said.

Well, don't ask me, I just work here. If you want to know the truth, what's pissing me off most is I think the mess in Iraq is getting to me. I had to go to the doctor last week because my back's gone out again, and I was expecting just the usual lecture about losing weight, exercise, buying a bike and wheeling around in green lycra like some Italian or something. You know, painful but short.

Instead he puts the cuff on my arm and inflates it, then grunts and does it again, grunts again, does it for the third time and waves me over to sit down. In other words, we're going to have a serious talk. Turns out it's my blood pressure, and some other blood thing called "purines"--sounds like a dog chow to me, but apparently it's a blood count, and mine is through the roof.

Sounds like someone has serious psychological issues if they're letting events thousands of miles away that only indirectly affect them cause them physical suffering. Perhaps it's time to seek the help of a professional. My sister has a degree in social welfare and some counseling experience, maybe she could help.

I told the guy maybe we could try again after Iraq settles down. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Maybe that's because you ARE crazy.

So then there was another ten minutes of serious lectures about how I need to take care of myself and so on. I was thinking, all I need is for us to get out of this Iraq mess, but I decided it was better not to try explaining that to him again. I took the brochures and the prescriptions and got out.

See above Mr. Crazy Man, I mean War Nerd.

Now I'm on three medications, one for blood pressure, one for these purines, and one for my back disc. Like an old man. I just turned 38 and I've got little brown bottles all over the sink like my grandma did.

Judging from the picture at the top of your post maybe you should exercise. It might help reduce some of the anger issues you seem to have.

The other thing that's driving me nuts about the war is this stupid question, "Is Iraq actually Vietnam?" Answer: no, Vietnam is this place about 5,000 miles east of Fallujah.

Every time I hear that I want to ask them why? Isn't Iraq bad enough for you?

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Same old, same old. Iraq ain't even close to Vietnam.

It's dumb, the Iraq = Nam talk. No war ever repeats exactly, because the technology is changing so fast. And if you had to pick two countries in the world that have nothing in common, it'd be Iraq and Vietnam. The Vietnamese were the most dedicated, disciplined army since Prussia disappeared. If you want to know how dedicated the VC were, read this book, The Tunnels of Cu Chi, about the VC who lived in this huge tunnel network around Saigon. (Back when it was Saigon.) Men and women spent months down there with the spiders and scorpions, no fresh air for weeks, shitting into a bag. They had hospitals down there where they amputated hands with no anaesthetic. This VC doctor said, "Half would die of shock, but half would live."

To paraphrase Colonel John Boyd: the three most important things for a military are the people, ideas and hardware (technology) in that order. Technology is A difference between Vietnam and Iraq; but the biggest change (for our military) is our people and our strategy (ideas). The highly-trained all volunteer force is definitely better than the Vietnam-era conscipt army and we have learned much about how to fight so-called asymmetric warfare like we're doing in Iraq.

To quibble, Prussia never really disappeared. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Germany was formed under Prussian leadership. The vaunted Prussian General Staff was inherited by Germany as well. This was why World War I and II both almost ended in German/Prussian victories. When they put their mind to it, the Krauts know how to fight.

Iraqis aren't like that. They're noisy where the VC were quiet. They're flighty where the VC were coldblooded. They mob up and get each other excited, where the VC could just coldbloodedly do it.

If the Iraqis (errr, not really, many of the people we're fighting are foreign to Iraq) are such pansies you'd think killing a few thousand of them would end it. Sadly this is not the case. Our enemies are not the herd of chickens War Nerd seems to be describing.

But the thing is, Vietnam isn't the only way you can lose a war. Look at what happened to the Israelis in Lebanon. Iraq is a hell of a lot more like Lebanon than Nam.

22 years ago the man in charge of Israel was Menachem Begin, a real weirdo. He and Ariel Sharon were sick of taking mortar rounds from PLO in south Lebanaon. They decided they'd invade Lebanon, push the PLO into the sea.

It went fine, as long as the Israelis were heading north, attacking via combined arms. Their airforce destroyed the opposition. The Syrians lost 82 planes; Israel The IDF zoomed all the way to Beirut in record time, bombarded the PLO district and pushed Arafat into exile in Africa. They lost only about 400 men, but killed thousands of PLO. They kicked ass.

Then came phase two, the occupation. And that was the biggest military disaster Israel ever had. Sound familiar?

Let me get this straight. We're killing our enemies 50:1 and it's like "the biggest military disaster Israel ever had"? That sounds like a compliment... to the Israelis. Moving on from this hyperbole...

The big difference between Iraq and Lebanon is that we're not trying to set-up a minority group as our proxies in Iraq like the Israelis did with the Arab Christians in Lebanon. That's old school empire-building, not a game we play anymore. We're trying to turn Iraq into a real country, not a smoking hole in the ground.

What happened to them is exactly what's happening to us: they woke up the Shiites, who turned out to be way, way scarier than the PLO. In Lebanon, just like in Iraq, the Shiites were the lowest of the low, basically terrorized into keeping quiet and doing all the crummy jobs the Sunni didn't want. And just like in Iraq, the Lebanese Shiites lived either in urban slums or in villages in the South.When the invasion came, the Shiites went from welcoming the invaders to warning them to leave, then to open warfare. Exactly the same script, 20 years apart, Lebanon and Iraq. Once the Shiites started to fight, they showed why it's better not to mess with them.

Sure, whatever you say Chicken Little. The big, bad Shiites (how was that Saddam ever ruled if the Shiites are so terrorfying?) are ticked off because we shut down some criminal crackpot's newspaper (Sadr). He has little support and it isn't growing. Not as big a problem as your making it out to be dumbass.

Shiites are big on martyrdom, and guerrilla wars make a lot of martyrs. Just last week, two Shiites purposely jumped in front of American tanks and got turned into catfood under the tracks. A lot of this Arab bragging about loving death and craving martyrdom is bullshit, but some of it isn't, especially when it's Shiites saying it. After all, their hero is a guy who charged at the Caliph's whole army with 30 men.

I hate to sound like a broken record but 50:1 makes for "a lot of martyrs." The enemies stupidity is NOT a reason to think we're losing.

It was the Shiites in Lebanon who taught the Palestinians to fight. It was Shiite kids, even some girls, who started driving cars full of explosive at Israeli patrols in Lebanon. Pretty soon there were Shiite militias like Hizbollah attacking harder than those softies in the PLO ever had. Israelis and their local proxies, the South Lebanon Army, were getting picked off at a slow steady rate until the Israelis finally gave up and went home a couple of years ago.

The bad guys in Iraq have nowhere near this kind of broad-based support or we'd be taking a lot more casualties. Wake-up. As the article continues you seem to be descending further and further into madness. I may have to end this soon so I don't join your sorry ass.

Wow, the rest of the article good old War Nerd continues with his condescending attitude towards Arabs. Calling the Sunnis "hotheads" and saying " [the Shiites are] always getting worked up about something horrible that happened to their ancestors 500 years ago." He also includes this supposed British quote: "The Arab is either at your feet or at your throat." So apparently Arabs are like a combination of children and animal, but it doesn't sound like he considers them human. That's helpful.

I could continue but I have other stuff to blog about and War Nerd has more than proven his own idiocy. Time to move on, and put this Fisk out of its misery.