Friday, September 28, 2007

Preping The Battlefield

Via Rand Simberg comes this interesting analyses of the recent Israeli air strike into Syria and how that relates to Iran.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Iran Campaign, Part 2

This is how a country develops an arms industry as a means for advancing national policy. All tried and proven methodology as developed by the largest and most comprehensive arms dealers in the history of the world - the USA, China, Russia, France and the UK.

Regardless of how complementary such mimicry might be, you would think we might at least acknowledge the ramifications to ourselves as a result of such behavior in others. At some point, charges of hypocrisy will become among the least of our worries anyway. Better, I think, to let rhetoric be the primary response of our enemies then to wait until such becomes mere after-thought.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Getting There From Here

This Al Fin post examines how individual competence may be a necessary pre-cursor condition to attaining the goals identified with Aubrey de Grays' SENS movement.

One of the recurring questions I haven't yet answered to my own satisfaction is how we who aren't wealthy are going to take advantage of the biological science advances I'm certain will become possible within the next decade or two at most? Becoming as individually self-sufficent as we are each capable of, from as early an age as we can, seems a reasonably reliable method that at least leaves much of the possibility within our individual control.

The cultural and societal changes required to expand acceptance of such an additudinal adjustment throughout or fellow citizenry will likely be one of the decisive measures by which our individual success will be made possible, I suspect. Simple market economics, scale of economy and the like, you understand.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Does That Latin Bit About Watching The Guardians Go?

Fear of this sort of treatment is much more widespread of late then even semi-paranoid I had been aware. No real evidence to offer I'm afraid, beyond a general sense of dis-ease and distrust seemingly being the default position of present day Americans. It's all too appocraphal, I know, but the presumption of threat from our fellow citizens seems more commonplace then at earlier times of my life.

Via TamaraK.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Viva la ..., No, sorry, I just can't say it yet

Kim du Toit has not one but two posts up today describing stirring changes being proposed by French Prez Sarkozy.

France may be in the process of turning a corner toward a better future. If so, is there a 21st century Lafayette they might lend to the US?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Once Upon A Time ...

... I used to live here.

I was an Aviation Electrician's Mate in VA-93, one of the attached squadrons that made up Carrier Air Wing 5. I was aboard for the last WestPac cruise and the forward deployment to Yokosuka Japan.

If you follow the link, you'll find a listing of accidents that occurred aboard over the ship's years of service. The listing for October 1972 refers to a battle damaged A-6 from VA-115 who's starboard landing gear collapsed upon impact with the flight deck which caused the tail hook to disengage. The plane veered rightward and slid into the aircraft packed into the catapult area towards the bow. AOAN Dan Cherry, along with several others unknown to me personally, was killed as a result. His name can be found on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. I will maintain the solemnity of the moment by not recounting any of several liberty memories from Subic Bay port calls. Sufficient to say that the side was not let down.

I would like to point out that the next listed accident of a fire aboard while the ship was in Long Beach may well have happened, but not in November, 1972; we were all the way across the map to the other side of the Pacific Ocean in November of that year, and only a month away from hosting a Bob Hope Christmas Show while in Singapore harbor.

I also note there is no mention of a North Korean gunboat during 1974. Curious.

Thanks to commenter EX_STAB at Free Market Fairy Tales blog for providing the link down memory lane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The scurrvy yobs I be laborin' behind are startin' ta wear me down.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Well, there's that to look forward to, at least.

I really do need to look into where Mr. FM recruits his crew from though.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fatwa Arbitrage

I have some questions about this whole Islamist "rage boy" happening. As you are no doubt aware by now, Chris Muir has a strip of his "Day By Day" cartoon posted that depicts Mohammad's head atop a pigs body. While I understand that the majority of the anticipated out-pouring of reaction will deservedly be his, there are derivitive issues to be settled as well.

Because I directly link to Chris Muir's Mohammad cartoon, can I expect to share in the, as of this writing yet-to-be-issued, fatwa condemning it and him? If so, to what degree ought I to prepare a reply? Would my actually reproducing the panel substantially alter my standing in the issue, and if so, to what extent?

Should Muir ultimately have a cash bounty posted for his head (literally, if the Swedish Model should hold true for this example too), does some presumably lessor amount somehow derivate down for my noggin as a result of my secondary degree of involvement? If so, and given the popularity of his "Day By Day" cartoon page, at what point does my valuation become so diluted by the presence of others in the Jihadi Outrage market as to effectively negate my participation therein?

More than simple vanity is at stake here, I will have you know! There are serious economic issues involved as well. Does my redeemable value justify the expense of increasing my stock of a premium ammunition like Gold Dot or CorBon? Or is the more pedestrian Federal FMJ a more market-justified option?

We hear and read about these circumstances arising upon occasion, but little information is readily available that makes clear how these decisions are arrived at. Can anyone offer any practical advise from their own experience to aid my determining an appropriate response?

UPDATE: I have substantially re-written this post to better achieve the humorous effect I was trying for in my over-hasty first effort. However successful that result might be, I hope readers of this page understand that humor - however badly realised - doesn't negate sincerity. Not an opportunity I regularly experience, I'm afraid, so apologies for any clumsiness.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Whole Lotta Power In That Candle

"Come on Baby, Fire my Light ... "

Hmmm, doesn't trip very errr, lightly off the tongue (over the teeth?), does it?

(via James Hudnall)

On Campaign

An excellent round-up of Iranian efforts in the Iraq Campaign can be read here courtesy of The Weekly Standard.

Any and all of which is ample justification for US initiation of the Iran Campaign forthwith.

(via Wretchard)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

If ...

James Hudnall points to this tale of the truly weird. For the second time, as his commenter notes.

Should this prove to be anything like what it appears it might be, the most important question I can think of is, does the RF generator require more or less power to operate then the released gases can be used to generate? If the answer is "less", then this may prove to be the most profound bit of serendipity ... well, ever.

UPDATE: Prof. Rustom Roy mentioned in the Post-Gazette story has a web page here with a link to video of the burning salt water.

This is a May 5th news report about John Kanzius and his invention of a promising cancer treatment. Using the same equipment, his further discovery concerning salt water is covered here. Both stories are from the local Jacksonville, Fla. NBC affilliate.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Ed Lasky writes at The American Thinker about how voters in Chicago continue to elect to Congress the representation that most provides them with what they want. Mr. Lasky's outrage speaks well of him personally, but rings a little hollow as political analysis.

Members of Congress (in either chamber, party affiliation notwithstanding) have only one first priority: remain a Member. That's it; all else serves to advance that position. The justification (not to mention outright obfuscation) of measures taken to that end can give the concept of convolution a serious strain as well.

The issue of earmark reform that Mr. Lasky writes about provides a timely example. Seemingly everyone is up in arms about Congressional earmarking of funds into legislative acts having nothing to do with the matter being earmarked.

Not too surprisingly, Congress has responded by "reforming" the earmark process. Since earmarks came into being as a means of advancing Members primary issue in the first place, how naive does one have to be to believe that any attempt to reform such a process would take any form other than to improve its function?

To that end, Congress has acted swiftly and only as to be expected. The membership of both chambers is organised along lines that can only express success to their electoral constituents by being seen to be "doing something" about the issue of the moment. Since Congressional action involves legislation and the Federal budget principally, that's how they "do something" so as to be seen by the voters.

If We The People want to redirect Congressional support away from themselves and back to our joint, national interest, then we might want to re-structure Congress to that end. Since Congress has never been structured toward any other end then it has now, maybe it's We who are the problem and in need of a little structural adjust ourselves. Most likely the problem stems from a combination of the two and the only solace I have to offer in that case is, "This too shall pass".

Be all that as it may, it seems more than a little disingenuous to berate those who only make more efficient the process they can legitimately claim they have been elected to perform. From their strategic position, greater efficiency in the earmark process is a positive reform. It's not even all that convoluted as Congress measures these things.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pulling The Curtain Back

Wretchard has a fretful post up at his Belmont Club blog concerning the question; "What to do about Iran?". There seems to be a wide-spread belief that the Bush Administration intends to commence - something - against the Iranians beginning September 11 or there abouts. Not an actual invasion apparently - though maybe - but possibly some sort of military effort, but most likely a concerted effort to verbally attack Iranian actions within the region as a build up to something more later.

The big fear, apparently, is that Iran is a force to be reckoned with that can't be ignored but not discussed as a military option either.


Iran ceases to be any sort of "player" after, at most, a week spent on the receiving end of limited American air power attention, said attention being paid specifically to the following:

1) all Iranian non-oil related maritime facilities.
2) all Iranian highway infrastructure outside of built up areas.
3) all Iranian electrical generating and distribution facilities, regardless of location.
4) all Iranian communication nodes; military wherever they are identified, as well as civil - cell phone towers, telephone lines, etc - outside of built up areas.
5) all Iranian aviation facilities wherever located within the country.

Along about D+5 American Navy and Air Force target assigners are going to find themselves assigning follow-up attacks only, as they will have essentially run out of previously unattacked targets of any strategic significance, anywhere within the borders of Iran. Wherein, it seems worth noting, all commerce of any description (barring armed robbery, I suppose) will also have ceased to transact.

Effectively simultaneous with that point in time, the Iranian national government will no longer possess the means to influence events anywhere beyond the direct line-of-sight of any given government official. {Nor, it bears mentioning, the means to pay for anything either. Government kleptocrats may possess off-shore bank accounts, but government's themselves do not.} And then, only for so long as said official can maintain tactical superiority over those who, as all shooters ought to know, can also see him in return.

Should President Bush elect to exercise his War Power's authority this coming Tuesday, citing any number of Iranian actions as cassus belli, then before the month is out the United States, no doubt with the very visible support of our Iraqi ally, will find itself at the very forefront of delivering humanitarian aid to the Iranian people without regard to the Iranian government's desires on the matter.

Meanwhile, the rest of the war effort can continue apace with a good deal less capability available to the enemy.

No offense to Wretchard or those others similarly spooked, but I do remain available to look under the bed for you should that be an issue as well.

Booga-Booga! Sorry, that will have to do; I'm utter crap at shadow puppets.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Ultimate Response To Authority

If your reaction to this isn't a spontaneous expression of humor, I don't want to know you.

Osama Bin Maybe/Maybe Not-So-Dead

This isn't sour grapes talking, I've been wrong before and will be again. That said, I want to see the actual OBL video for myself; even more than that, I want to see a video presentation of a professional analysis of the OBL video.

Absent that, I think it justified to regard the transcript alone as a very professionally designed and executed dis-information campaign. And in the best tradition of such, one that works on multiple, self-reinforcing levels of attack. All of which work together to disguise the enemy's actual intentions.

Such a campaign can be effective whether or not OBL is actually alive, of course. Either circumstance can be presented as a positive reinforcement for the jihadist battle position, which can in turn be used to leverage their philosophical position. Rinse and repeat as desired. Those who insist upon regarding the enemy as goat fuckers hiding in caves do so in total disregard of his demonstrated skill at 4th Generation Warfare and small unit urban combat.

If the fey bugger is still alive, I suspect he's mostly been tucked away in the very farthest eastern-most region of Iran these past few years. With a tactically superior combat force, as well as some other equalizing pressure brought to bear, while he negotiates the degree and nature of Iranian involvement in the war (of which the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaigns are only the most visible fronts being contested). The enemy of my enemy, and all that. The Islamist enemy may contest the ultimate outcome between themselves periodically, but the promise of jihad supercedes all else when terms can be arranged.

Assuming the latest video isn't simply brilliant theater, these are my alternative speculations.

UPDATE 9/11/07, 4am CDT: Just for the record, I think this and any other forthcoming "messages from Osama" are a deliberate act of hudna on the enemy's part and that Osama been well and truly dead since late 2002 or early 2003. Just my opinion, of course, your's may vary.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dead Man Talking

I agree with Charles Johnson, Osama Bin Dead for a while now:

"The SITE Institute says a new video is coming from Osama bin Laden, but I expect more old footage recut to look new."

It isn't even especially necessary that the resulting footage be all that convincing, as long as it permits manipulation of the enemy's (that would be us) political and economic decision-making process.

Strategy basicly comes down to positional condition and alignment, both actual and relative to one another. What is the actual state of my position and how does that compare to my opponent's position? Two other important questions are: what is the cost/benefit calculation for improving my actual condition? versus, what is the cost/benefit result from spending that effort/money to degrade the opposition's actual position? The rules of basic economics always apply; why else do you think Yasser Arafat and his Fatah gang were such enthusiastic kidnapping/extortionists?

al Qaeda's principal strategy of tearing down everyone's position to match their own is what will eventually defeat them, I think. We're seeing inklings of this in Iraq now and I expect this effect to spread to other jihadist dominated areas. The trick will be to convince people of the jihadi intention before they can decimate a region.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fan-Boy Speculation a'la Book Review

So, I've spent large chunks of the last couple days reading the latest S. M. Stirling book, The Sunrise Lands. And time well spent it was, too; it's not as though I do more house-cleaning than vacuum the carpets anyway, is it?

The author's official website has this to say about things:

" A trilogy set in the same world as the "Dies the Fire" trilogy.
It's Change Year 22, a generation after high-energy technology died in a catastrophe most of the human race didn't survive. The children born after the Change are now starting to take center stage—and Whoever or Whatever was behind the Change itself may be taking a hand in their rivalries. An expedition must travel to Nantucket across a strange and hostile continent to find some answers."

There are two further titles listed with tentative publication in 2008 and 2009 respectively. My question at this juncture is, just how much of a long-form writing project is our Stephen contemplating here?

I really don't think he's deliberately setting out to mimic Tolkein with this series. Reference to many of the elvish portions of his LOTR books are only inevitable, given the character backgrounds already developed in the preceding books. That said, I don't really expect any direct correlation between events in Tolkein's works and those yet to unfold in the coming books of this series. For one, Mr. Stirling has never been so predictable heretofore. For another, Stirling himself essentially ruled out any active participation by the aliens, even as indirect as those of the Sauron character, in the prologue to each of the two preceding trilogies. I simply don't see any other believable candidate for that role either. The newly elevated "Prophet of The Ascended Ones" might equate to the Sarumon character I suppose, but even that's a pretty bad fit, I think.

I'm not going to speculate on the contents of the upcoming books beyond saying that I hope the unanswered questions in Peshawar Lancers and Conquistador receive a much fuller treatment in this epic. Of concern at this point in the story is that very much more of the "magic" aspect already present in this series will push things right over into outright fantasy. Much of the fascination with these books arises from Stirling's melding of technology with the human propensity for faith/belief in the supernatural and the effect of both upon human behavior.

As ever, Stirling's writing has a certain "God's own perspective" impersonal quality to it. Either that distracts you from the full pleasure of his stories or it doesn't. There is, as they say, no accounting for taste, nor should a non-ghost writer attempt to guide his work to satisfy another's quirk(s). Stephen Stirling packs as much real (or at least realistic) detail as he can into his stories and, as always, has thoroughly developed characters to relate the events across the page. Sometimes, a detail-packed, well told story is preferable to a damp seat or troubled night's sleep.

YMMV of course.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Do You Hear A Spining Noise?

Some things you just have to see for yourself to fully appreciate them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

One For The Ages (all of them apparently)

For the record,
I'm in favor!

That bit of minor snark out of the way, I do think our developing technology is going to make this question gradually more irrelevant. If my choice remains between someone my age (with all that implies) and someone much younger, see above.

As our technology begins to allow us to repair age-induced damage to our bodies however, I'm going to be more attracted to someone who more fully shares my range of experience and frame of reference as a partner.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"... fights don't have rules!" **

I love a good clean fight. As opposed to an actual, real fight when anything goes to achieve victory (I've mostly survived my share of those and am happy to call that sufficient, thankyouverymuch).

However brutalized they may feel after, all who partake of a "clean fight" agree upon parameters and conditions which all participants abide by as a condition of participation. Sports like boxing or wrestling are physical examples of this phenomenon, as debate or argument are of the intellectual exercise of this principle. A clean fight is a test of skill and/or knowledge in a structured and limited environment - safety being too nebulous and relative a descriptive for an activity centered around conflict, I suggest - which brings us to the level of blogs.

A recurring debate I frequently become involved in revolves around the early or foundational history of a thing. A brief (and rather shallow, sad to say) example of what I'm talking about can be read here in the comment exchange between Al Fin and myself and others, wherein I make reference to a primary source*** to support my position.

[Just for the record, my understanding is that such a reference is the limit of "clean fighting" in someone else's comment section; further expansion of such a position should be made on one's own blog and debate continue between the two (or more) involved blogs.]

A primary source is often presented in these adhoc debates as some form of rhetorical ultimate action to which no refutation is possible. This is silly, of course, as no-one now alive can speak with any certainty as to the cited author's motivation to write as he did. The best that can be asserted from any extensive remove in time is that said individual stated such-and-so to someone else within a context that they, at least, shared between themselves. A commonly occurring example, in my experience anyway, is for a commentor to quote a selected passage in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to someone else (often only a sentence or two) as support for some political/ethical/moral/etc. position advanced as regards the US Constitution in a discussion taking place in the 21st Century.

This* is an on-line academic study guide developed and maintained by Bowdoin University. It explains and details the accepted means for placing a primary document within an historically accurate context. It isn't concerned with questions of authenticity (those are addressed elsewhere in the curriculum), but the context that would have existed at the time the source item was created (personally between the sender and recipient, in the hypothetical Jefferson letter example of above). This is in addition to the influences imposed by the societal context within which the source author existed, as well.

It's not enough to argue that "such-n-such said this-n-that to so-n-so which proves my point about whatever-it-was". You are only allowed to make that logical leap if you can demonstrate that the context surrounding the original statement is sufficiently similar to that of your present contention to not alter the conclusion the original statement lead to. Given the fundamental alterations that our technological and scientific understanding of our universe have permitted us over the course of recorded human history, it would be profoundly shocking to come across any thesis that hasn't had to give way in some fashion or degree to subsequent discovery(s). And if this be true for purely historical discussions, how much more so for those speculating upon the effects of matters only now subject to basic research into their practical feasibility at all?

Much of what we do here on the web is dependent upon our adhering to the conventions and mutual understandings that have developed into accepted practice. Whether the topic be politics, history or pure speculation, we each need to take advantage of the methods to educate ourselves that are freely offered via this medium. Otherwise, how can we hope to advance ourselves beyond the short-term tactic of destroying the other's position and work instead on more fully developing our own?

*The linked page is a sub-category of this site.

**Extra points for identifying the film the title is drawn from. Hint: the specific type of fight was pertinent to the original dialogue. :)

***John Taylor Gatto is still very much alive to my knowledge; I regret any inference that may be drawn to the contrary.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ahoy, Mate!

No, this isn't "talk like a pirate day", it's about this recent squeal over copyright piracy. Or, more properly speaking, the response by some to the Science Fiction Writers Association's recent efforts to prevent such.

First of all, being someone who appreciates the difficulty of writing well, I tend to side with those who have successfully made that effort and copyrighted the result as the law allows. While acknowledging that no one in such position can be prohibited from releasing others to abide by the restrictions of his/her copyright, such an individual choice can't be arbitrarily applied to the works of others as a result. Which, I submit, is a fair summation of the contretemps between authors Cory Doctorow and Jerry Pournelle regarding the actions of the SFWA to protect the rights of the latter.

In classic blogospheric disclaimer, IANAL, but I must say that I find the position of one who is such to be highly - ummm what's the word I'm looking for here - nuanced shall we say? Glenn Reynolds, pending execution of true Shakespearian Justice (Ok, that may be a little harsh), would no doubt be screeding from his other foot were this a matter of me making free with my (purchased from Barnes and Noble, I point out) copy of his own book, An Army of Davids.

As he very well knows, we have laws governing that sort of behavior which, I feel certain, he would avail himself of in such a circumstance. As he should; it is largely through our individual efforts to see the law upheld that we remain a "nation of laws" and not some rampaging horde ruled by despot(s). While the SFWA is required to compensate those who their tactics have offended as stipulated by law, the offended receive no special exemption from the requirements of the law either. Indeed, their efforts to manipulate the requirements of the law to their advantage would likely work against their benefit in a court proceeding, I believe.

We are not each of us separately entitled to pick and choose what or how our body of law shall be applied to us or our efforts. To wit; information does not yearn to be free. Rather, those too cheap to pay the going rate yearn for an exception to the market economics of supply and demand. And to disguise their childishness, they advocate "freedom (from the demands of reality, one assumes)" and posture against "the man" by making free with the property of other individuals. Nice work, if you can get it.

I have titled this little diatribe with a piratical theme because I have long observed (and, I confess, participated in) a fascination, by seemingly most people, with pirates and their perceived culture. No doubt, this largely results from popular novels' and motion pictures' presentation of those concepts. That notwithstanding, there remains a strong streak of iconoclastic rebellion in the American culture that often seems to be expressed in a similar fashion to those historical buccaneers.

We generally regard individuals who act out on their own to be outlaws or criminals. At the same time, we are equally willing to band together (or support those who have) who act in similar fashion as a group, and to consider such collection of individuals to be worthy of special consideration before the law. Pirates must be strongly self-organising to function as a ship's crew, for instance, particularly when under sail. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a more socially disruptive activity then their indiscriminate pillage of society's commerce.

While I do understand the fascination presented by such a dichotomy, I also insist upon continuance of the American societal stability within which I have matured and to some extent prospered. I do so out of no great faith in my societal fellow's goodness or righteousness, I have to say. I truly believe ours is the setting which provides the greatest opportunity to achieve individual success, at least harm to others, that exists on this planet.

Instapundit's knee-jerk reaction against authoritarian heavy-handedness is well meant, I'm sure. Were this an action by some arm of the state, my own reaction would likely mirror his. Such is not the case in the present circumstance though, and this makes his stated position an untenable one, I think. If only as a matter of personal self-interest, he would seem to owe Dr. Pournelle and the SFWA a public reconsideration of the events as they have become known.