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Archive for March, 2008
The story about the airline pilot whose pistol went off accidentally — a foreseeable outcome of idiotic storage requirements imposed by bureaucrats — will be analyzed to death by other bloggers, but the posts by Paul Huebl (via Arms & the Law) and Steve H. are particularly good.
Huebl points out that the government bureaucrats who came up with the storage/holster scheme didn’t merely ignore but went out of their way to ignore reasonable advice from law enforcement officials who are experienced with weapons. And I think that almost everyone who has commented has pointed out the absurdity of treating pilots, whom everyone trusts with the lives of hundreds of passengers, as being somehow too irresponsible to use independent judgment in handling simple weapons they have been trained to use.
I don’t think bureaucratic stupidity is the central problem. It’s more likely that the bureaucrats are responding to strong incentives that aren’t visible to outsiders — otherwise, why not take the apparent easy way out by following the cops’ suggestions? Probably, given the way bureaucracies function, and the hostility of TSA and DOT management to armed pilots, and the aversion of airline companies to lawsuits that might be brought if pilots misused their weapons, and perhaps also (as a commenter on Steve’s post suggested) lobbying by vendors of “safe storage” equipment for pilots’ firearms, the easy way out really is to make it as cumbersome and hazardous as possible for pilots to arm themselves. What better way for the bureaucratic decisionmakers and airline executives to minimize their liability while nominally accommodating political demands for armed pilots? Never mind that pilots and passengers, the people who have the most at stake, are mainly either strongly in favor of letting pilots be armed or are neutral.
Dangerous storage of guns on commercial aircraft is a consequence of involving government in an area that should have been left under the control of the people who are most accountable. If airlines could set their own policies they could allow armed pilots to follow sensible procedures, or forbid pilots from being armed. In either case an airline could follow its best judgment about the risks and benefits of armed defense against hijackers. An even better solution would be to leave the arming of pilots to airline discretion and to provide airlines with legislative immunity against lawsuits brought in cases where pilots use their weapons in good faith.
Too much of the public debate about responses to terrorism is driven by fear of lawsuits and by bureaucratic agendas that have nothing to do with national security.
UPDATE: David Foster’s 2002 post on this topic is well worth reading.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my military history reading (mostly WW2) has changed quite a bit over the last few years.
There are only so many books I can read about Barbarossa, Market Garden, Anzio, etc. I was starting to actually get bored of the subject. So I decided to begin to read “niche” books like memoirs, biographies, or books that specialized on one tiny subject. This not only opened my eyes to a lot of things, but made WW2 in particular more colorful.
To that end, I am trying to find a book about Pavlov’s House. Most books I have seen only give it a cursory mention, but you would think that someone, somewhere has written a complete text about this insane subplot in one of the most horrific battles of the 20th century, Stalingrad. My Amazon-fu is very strong, but hardly a mention there. My Google-fu is also pretty strong, but maybe someone has stronger Google-fu than myself.
Any help is appreciated and heck, if nobody can find a book on this, I just may have found myself a topic to write a book on.
I think I have posted on this subject before but this gruesome story from Kerry Howley at Reason about the damage done in Africa by the the western hysteria over genetically modified food leads me to comment again.
The most hilarious thing to me about the entire anti-GM food craze is that people seem perfectly content to eat foods randomly mutated by radiation and chemicals and that consequently contain dozens, if not hundreds, of randomly mutated genes whose effects have never been tested for.
The recent revelation that Saddam Hussein covertly paid for the pre-Liberation trip of U.S. Congress members Jim McDermott, David Bonior and and Mike Thompson, highlights a question that I think more leftists should ask themselves.
To whit: Why do the foreign-policy proposals of the American Left so often agree with and reinforce the naked self-interest of murderous despots and autocrats?
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Yesterday I posted about Spring and the comeback of wildlife in my area and I solicited comments from others in different areas of the country to see if their experiences are the same. It seems like a resounding “yes” (both at ChicagoBoyz and at Life in the Great Midwest). I am always amazed at how nature can adapt and thrive.
If the cougar population goes up, EVERYBODY here in rural Wisconsin will be packing heat, especially farmers (Wisconsin is one of only two states that has not decriminalized conceal carry – the other state is Illinois). Personally, I think that livestock will be targeted by the cougars and that a farmer will simply shoot them and toss their carcasses into one of their fields before they can get steady footing. I sure would shoot it if I were a farmer and was losing livestock.
Wolves have already made somewhat of a comeback in the northern parts of the state, and I have even heard of moose and elk up there as well.
On to Mr. Doughty’s email:
Good morning. I’m writing this as an email rather than as a comment on the Chicago Boyz blog because I’ve got some photos that I want to include.
I live in Colorado, in a development on the western edge of Colorado Springs, in what’s known as an “urban-wildland interface”. Here is a list of larger animals that I’ve seen from my deck or on the road up the hill to my house in the past year or so:
Deer on a daily basis
Bears (actually ON my deck on a number of occasions)
All this within a 15 to 20 minute drive of the middle of downtown Colorado Springs. There is no doubt that wildlife is making a huge comeback in urban/suburban areas. Most people think this is great, as do I with the following reservation: When wildlife returns, predators soon follow. Here in our area, some people are growing increasingly concerned with lions. Here are photos taken this past Monday shortly after midnight outside the house of a guy that lives roughly a third of a mile (as the crow flies) from me. He has motion activated lights and cameras at various points around his home and quite often gets shots like these:
We have had instances of large dogs (over 100 pounds) being attacked, people being stalked, lions around homes in the middle of the day, etc. Inevitably, I fear, we are going to have an attack on a person. Of course, the majority of the people here believe that lions are not a “real” problem and that those of us who have expressed concern are “fear mongering”, etc., although almost none of them have done any research or know anything whatsoever about these animals.
If you’d like to learn more about the whole potential problem with lions expanding their range into urban areas and the reasons for it, an excellent book is The Beast in the Garden. I highly recommend it.
I already ordered that book on Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive. This subject is very interesting to me – and a little scary.
Cross posted at LITGM.
The above photo was taken one block from my house. We have been seeing lots of wild turkeys in my neighborhood the last few years. I live in a mature subdivision that looks like a lot of other mature subdivisions in the United States. In fact, if you were blindfolded and dropped in there and had to identify where you were, I would wager that you would have a lot of difficulty. In other words, it is a pretty unremarkable place.
With the Spring thaw I have been seeing tons of wildlife scurrying about for chow. The deer are all over the place. I have seen the geese heading back north. A red fox ran across the road in front of my car the other day. I have lived in this area of the country all of my life, and in Madison itself for almost 14 years. Is it just me or is wildlife in general making a comeback? Are the different species adapting to development better? I never used to see things like foxes, hawks, turkeys, deer, and coyotes but now these are commonplace.
Of course all of my evidence is anecdotal. I would like some more observations from our readers that live in urban areas around the country (and the world for that matter). Do you see more animals in general? What types?
Cross posted at LITGM.
I love that joke.
It’s very simple and elegant in form (if somewhat morbid in subject). Unlike an ordinary joke it has no setup i.e. it does not create an expectation and then break it. Classic one liners are usually just aphorisms that don’t evoke a story. They just restate something that people already believe true in an interesting way. In this joke, a single continuous sentence causes an entire scene to unfold in the listeners mind.
Can anyone think of a similar joke? I’m starting a collection.
The Democrats face a dangerous quandary. People who support Obama because he is black are in conflict with those who support Hillary because she is a woman. Regardless of who wins the nomination, those who support the loser based on racial or gender identity may feel so betrayed that they will sit out the general election and cost the party the Presidency.
I think this is trap the logical consequence of the genteel fascism of identity politics that the Left adopted in the 1960s. It may become a permanent bar to their power from here on out.
How can you trust someone when they tell you repeatedly that they believe that you are an evil person? How do you trust someone when they tell you repeatedly that you are responsible for all the troubles in their life? How do you trust someone to manage an institution when they repeatedly tell you that they believe the institution an inherently corrupt failure?
I think this is the core problem that leftist African-American politicians face when trying to gain broad support from white Americans.
Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd March 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Easter is the “principal feast of the ecclesial year”. Roman Catholics (and many millions of others, of course) celebrate today the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the hinge event in all of world history.
My best wishes and prayers for the day, and for a happy and fruitful Easter season, to all of our readers.
Posted in Religion | Comments Off
Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd March 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
This is one is for all you armchair warriors out there in blog-land. I doff my czapka to Carl Ortona for this one, Keep ‘em coming, dude.
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Writing about the political turmoil/deadlock in Belgium, Megan McArdle observes:
In the long run, in the modern world it seems hard to have a state without a nation.
America is a state without a nation. Ideology, and not innate identity, unites Americans.
In previous posts, I’ve asked the questions What would you do if you were running General Motors? and What would you do it you were running Sears Holdings? (have to note Ralf’s classic comment about the GM question: “I would stop running the company and start just plain running.”)
So, just for fun, today’s discussion question is: If you were the new owner of Borders, what would you do?
As a thought-starter, here’s a WSJ article (registration required) about the chain’s attempt to increase sales by changing the way books are displayed–with the covers face-out. This is less space-efficient, of course, and reduces the number of titles a store can stock. Borders is also planning to locate digital centers in the stores–these are for downloading books and music, printing digital photos, etc. They are also terminating their relationship with Amazon, choosing instead to operate their own online ordering system.
Disclosure: I’m a current Barnes & Noble shareholder–I was once a BGP holder, but fortunately got out at about $19.
Still, five years on, this endeavor in Iraq is taking hold. The U.S. military was invariably the great corrector. In their stoic acceptance of the mission given them and in the tender mercies they showed Iraqis on a daily basis, our soldiers held out the example of benevolent rule. (In extended travel in and out of Iraq over the last five years, I heard little talk of Abu Ghraib. The people of Iraq understood that Charles Graner and Lynndie England were psychopaths at odds with American military norms.)
In those five years, the scaffolding of the war came under steady assault. People said that there was no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam, that no “smoking gun” had been discovered, and that the invasion of Iraq had turned that country into a breeding ground of jihadists.
But those looking for that smoking gun did not understand that the distinction between secular and religious terror in that Arab landscape was a distinction without a difference. The impulse that took America from Kabul to Baghdad was a correct one. Radical Arabs attacked America on 9/11, and a war of deterrence had to be waged against Arab radicalism.
Baghdad was the proper return address, as a notice was served on the purveyors of terror that a price would be paid by those who aid and abet it. It was Saddam Hussein’s choice — and fate — that he would not duck and stay out of harm’s way in the aftermath of 9/11. We have not fully repaired the ways of the radicals in the intervening years. But the spectacle of the dictator’s defeat, and the sight of him being sent to the gallows, have worked wonders on the temper of the Arab street.
So we did not turn Baghdad into a democratic city on a hill, and we learned that the dismantling of Sunni tyranny would leave the Arab world’s Shiite stepchildren with primacy in Iraq. A better country has nonetheless risen, midwifed by this American war. It is not a flawless democracy. But compare it to the prison it was under Saddam, the tyranny next door in Damascus and the norms of the region, and we can have a measure of pride in what America has brought forth in Baghdad.
The news headline reads “RUSSIA, US FAIL TO AGREE ON MISSILE SHIELD”.
Hardly a surprise.
Russia has been making noise over the past few years like they are still a world power. So far, it is tough to take them seriously.
The Russian economy is doing pretty well right now due to oil exports to Europe, but only if one compares the present situation to what happened at the end of The Cold War. Russia is still having a great many problems, and more than a few pundits have suggested that it is pretty much a 3rd world country. They’re making a big deal about increasing their defense spending to around $40 billion USD per year, but the US spends about $500 billion a year. There isn’t much reason to take Russia seriously.
In fact, the last link will take you to an article that describes the only real card Russia has left to play in order to get any respect.
“Russian weapons are still considered second rate, and it’s the nuclear arsenal that provides Russia with whatever military power it really has.”
Oh, so that’s why they don’t like the idea of a missile shield! If we install the system in European countries friendly to the US, then even Poland would ignore Russia!
For Russia it is sort of like being the schoolyard bully, and then one day the geekiest nerd on the playground announces that he has taken some karate classes and can kick your butt any time he feels like it. If your parents can’t afford to buy you lessons of your own, then you are forever going to be the red headed stepchild of the school.
If you want to understand Russian foreign policy, just assume that everything they do is a desperate attempt to avoid getting a wedgie.
Not a Chicago Boy exactly, but a towering presence in my inner life for many years. The only thing remotely resembling a writing voice I’ve ever had is a pale imitation of him. Requiescat In Pace.
- added “F
RSBIS” (thanks, Jim)
- from Wired, Video: Arthur C. Clarke’s Last Message to Earth
- from SomethingAwful forum goon “SirRobin”:
Tonight, when the sun has gone down, go outside to a place where you can see the stars. Look up. Watch for a point of light that moves fast enough that its motion is obvious … then take the phone out of your pocket and call someone on the other side of the planet.
Having read Obama’s speech on race, it seems to me that his idea of unity boils down to the idea that we are all, regardless of race, equally helpless victims of life in need of rescue by a powerful benevolent state.
He seems to want to explain white Americans to black Americans by saying, “look, you’ve got to understand, white people are victims too.” He seems to want white Americans to view themselves as bothers-in-victimhood with black America. His final story of Ashley really seems to tie the theme all together.
For all that he evokes the Founders, I do not think that they would agree with his vision of an America populated with the helpless and ineffectual. I think Obama is a very nice marketing wrapper for a very dangerous and corrosive view of ourselves.
If your identity as an American hinges on the government benefits you receive, then he is your man. Otherwise, I think you should look elsewhere.
Listening to this song, I begin to wonder if we Irish have a culture based on whining.
The definition of journalism from an online dictionary:
2 a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest
For this purpose, I am going to discuss b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.
Today the front page of the Chicago Tribune described what happened to a poor, innocent woman who was shot down at her place of business in Elmhurst, IL. The headline is “The Law Didn’t Save Her” with the tag line “She tried a court order. She had him arrested. She took all the legal steps she could right up to the day her ex-boyfriend shot her dead in the parking lot.”
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