Another way to say "I'm too old for this shit"
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

John Adams got it right, in that we must secure for ourselves an order, a government capable of protecting us and our children, before we can prosper, and that we must be prosperous before we can make and appreciate art. It is a sort of recapitulation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, on the scale of a society rather than the individual.

But something is missing. This sentence to Abigail implies that John expected to be able to fight war and conduct statesmanship as if once it were done right, it would stay done forever and his progeny would be relieved of such heavy and exacting responsibility. Of course this is not what he meant in this letter, but that's what it sounds like. And it is not so.

Each generation must study politics and war, to assure that future generations even draw breath. War will not go away, become obsolete, cease to matter or forget to be waged. As each generation matures, it has bought for itself the opportunity to teach the sword to its successor, and the successor generation has reached the age when they must learn how dear life is, so we teach them to preserve it.

We then lay these studies aside for mathematics, philosophy, geography, and the other sciences. And then teach those to the successor generation as they lay aside the sword, in their turn.
Fifteen days late, a dollar short
I note some of the reactions of the Blogosphere in regard to the possibility of Al-Qa'eda commandos entering the US and corpsing up citizens by small arms fire.

"I can tell you the first time any such incident occurs anywhere in America, I'm carrying from then on, legal or not."
(Comment on Rand Simberg's Transterrestrial Musings.)

It's about damned time somebody said it. But: If one hundredth of the United States adult population eligible to own firearms contemplate doing what you are, then the entire available US stock of suitable firearms will be depleted before you get yours. Update: the commenter I quoted above is not one of those deathbed-converts picking up his rifle for the first time. Visit him at Safety Valve.

If you can visualize today a plausible circumstance where you'll want and need a firearm for your own safety, then the time to go get it is not when that circumstance ratchets from "plausible" to "certain."

The time is today.

And if you live in a particular jurisdiction that includes a substantial fraction of America's ocean ports, airports, and vulnerable/excitable population, you will not take immediate delivery of your firearm. California makes you wait fifteen days. The time for you Californians was fifteen days ago.

"Owning a gun makes you an armed man no more than owning a piano makes you a pianist."
Getting your firearm is only the first hurdle. Whether you've owned other guns in the past, you haven't practiced with this one. Forget about how the cops feel (they don't like this one bit), even I might not appreciate you packing in public a piece you have never fired. An afternoon at the quarry won't suffice.

Note that people who are skilled at arms retrain periodically, by going to privately-operated schools that admit private citizens and graduate them as armed men and women. Those seats will be scarce---during normal times, the waiting lists are like trying to get a kid into swimming lessons in the Denver suburbs. But the school itself, which gets you to a basic level of competence, takes about a week (Gunsite is linked on the left).

(And one must deal with the downside, and there is one, of the many concealed-carry laws enacted in so many states recently: one of the legislative tradeoffs often made to make permits possible was the upgrading of carrying without permit from a misdemeanor to a felony.)

All this talk of ordinary men and women studying arms leads me to another post.
The Sum of Tom Tancredo's Fears
Mr. Al-Muhajir represents an interesting question. Could he be Al-Qa'eda's incarnation of Ding Chavez?
I've been around a few Middle Easterners during my, ahem, travels, and some of them could surely pass as Latinos as easily as some Latinos could pass for Middle Easterners, as Tom Clancy's character did. The challenge is teaching someone how to walk, speak, dress, make change, and gesture in a way that does not attract attention among natives of the impersonated culture. The infiltration of such agents is made easier if the impersonated culture is underground, such as the migrant workers crossing the border with Mexico.

Like so many other problems we Americans have, the answer here is to normalize, meaning decriminalize, the flow of Latinos into the United States. We can't count them, document them, examine them, and winnow out the saboteurs and terrorists, if they will not present themselves to the authorities to be counted, documented, and examined. Require them to identify themselves as they enter a suitable border station, but let them enter, and require them to leave periodically, even if it's just to prove where they are.

And while mentioning Clancy: Sum of All Fears just didn't set the hooks for me. The only part I liked was the casting of John Clark---righteous.


Okay, seriously
Maybe the reason that the rest of the Islamic world is so willing to hang the Palestinians out to dry, while shedding crocodile tears over their plight in Israel, is because the Palestinians (at least the ones I can put a name to or have paid a dollar to) appear to be secularized, martyr-moms notwithstanding.

Hanan Ashrawi is a Christian, an educated woman.

Edward Said is Christian.

I recall a videotape of a Palestinian wedding in Israel, offered as an alibi for someone accused of being one of the September hijackers. The tape shows women dancing (provocatively) with men, with their faces, hair, hands, even (scandal!) their legs showing. There might have been intoxicating liquors at that party. Looked like a pretty good time, in fact.

In the Palestinian restaurants I've enjoyed in the Detroit suburbs, I was waited on by attractive young women, wearing tight jeans and clingy tops, heels, makeup, all of that.

I admit that the foregoing is not an adequate sampling, but gimme a break here, this isn't my day job. My post on the sleep-suggestion dolls demonstrated that.

If the Wahhabists look down their pointed noses at the Palestinians (and secularism is ample cause for that; Christianity and teaching their women to write are mere penalty enhancers), it becomes vastly easier for them to use the Palestinians as a rank of pawns. Throw money at them to earn their loyalty, distract the West, occupy a convenient external enemy, direct attention away from their own brutal regimes, and forge some kind of pathetic "unity" among the rest of the Arab world, who already have nation-states.

There's something in here that must be exploited for us to succeed in the present conflict.


Repeat after me: "bacon cheeseburger"
The Institute's Evil Subversion Dolls are going beta. They are careful copies of Sara and Dara , the good Islamic dolls that Iran's mullahocracy hopes will displace the Satanic Barbie doll, but with subtle differences.

An infrared sensor can detect the presence of a human in the same room, and discriminate child from adult. Motion and sound sensors measure the human pulse and the cadence of breathing. When cuddled by a child, the doll verifies that no adults or other children are in the room, and waits until the child is in a suggestion-receptive stage of sleep to whisper subversive thoughts, such as "Lipstick is OK," "Imams are so stupid," "when Dad goes on and on about jihad, I just nod, grin, and think yada yada yada," or "if martyrdom is so great why didn't Mom do it?"

Subversive suggestions will be adjusted for the gender of the doll, though the Institute's psychologists note that most suggestions will be effective for both genders.

The beta dolls will carry voice coding for Farsi, to exploit our most receptive test market. The dolls' plastic bodies and faux-retail packaging will withstand the harsh environment of a covert 45,000-foot airdrop.

Full-release models will be shipped to their respective markets through conventional consumer channels, with voice coding and retail packaging in Arabic, Urdu, Dani, Baloch, and Pashto. An on-board receiver downloads additional suggestions and supplemental code through second-audio program and teletext content inserted into the baseband PAL television signal. This enables the Institute to adjust each doll's playback coding to the dialect most frequently heard by its owner, among other adminstrative functions.

The doll's internal battery enables it to place up to 10,000 suggestions during a 3 year service life.
If it doesn't have sharp edges, sir, I guess you can keep it
Found via BoingBoing: the Bill of Rights printed on a metal card that begs to be discovered by TSA goons.

Suddenly the AvantGo copy of the US Constitution on my Palm isn't cool any more.
Sheree's got her gun
Courtesy of CNN via Armed Forces Network, I saw Sheree Stevens take delivery of her Keltec, in violation of Chicago's law.

The audio was breaking and the video was tiled up, so I didn't hear whether CNN's reporter was asking genuinely dumbass questions or skewing the report. What I heard seemed to be balanced, more so than I expect from CNN.

WTF 1: No link to CNN because this article could not be found on their site.
WTF 2: No word of it LP of Chicago's site either. To their credit they have a hand in this.

By the way, I now have a good appreciation for what heavily compressed video looks like.


Isn't it about time for another Bellesiles Update?
. . . what Immortal Hand or Eye could frame thy fearful symmetrye?
Uma Thurman must be cast as Olivia Presteign, or I'll be very upset.
WAS: Pamphleteering for armed airline pilots
Airline executives are very reluctant to allow airline pilots to be armed. Since the airlines were responsible for security prior to the Al Qa'eda attacks and they screwed it up, they're pleased to hand that responsibility over to the Feds, in the form of the Transportation Security Agency. Now that they've gotten rid of it, they don't want it back in any form. An airline pilot arming himself is an airline employee taking responsibility for the security of the craft. So nobody should be surprised that the management teams of the airlines oppose it.

They will drop this opposition only if it costs them, and "costing them" is meant literally, by making them make no money. This happens most directly when they don't sell enough seats. This is happening in some form right now, but only with travelers who know better and have the choice not to fly.

Most business travelers, such as myself, don't have that choice---choosing not to fly equates directly to choosing not to draw a salary. We're trapped, in a way. So how do we cost them while still flying, or trying to?

Every cause these days identifies itself with a loop of ribbon worn on the lapel. The success of these ribbons or the causes behind them is questionable. With today's "airport security" anality, such a ribbon for the cause of arming airline pilots will mark you for special attention. It costs you without costing them. So don't bother with it.

Having had second thoughts on the rest of this post, I chose to pull a CAIR and delete it. Sorry. It's my blog.