Saturday, November 22, 2003- - -
"Pioneers pounded by Sioux"
Great headline for the Sports page. That's the U. of NoDak Fighting Sioux and the U. of Denver Pioneers. No. 1-rated UND has always been tough in hockey & they've trounced 8th-rated Denver 8-2. UND's rifle team ushered at home games to earn money for our trips and they were always exciting matches to watch.
According to L.M. Boyd Revisited in today's Casper Star [not on-line]: "The Navajos, having no native word for "reporter," use their word "gossiper" to identify that professional."
Friday, November 21, 2003- - -
Terrorists with tofu breath
Michelle Malkin ties into the environmental extremists.
Which reminds me to tell you about the bumper sticker I saw on the back of an old pickup a few days ago: "Save a cow, eat a vegetarian" Okaaay… I suspect they'd be a bit stringy.
The folks at Strategypage are panning the new Thunderbolt AGS today. Unfortunately, they seem to have misinterpreted the news release on a couple of points:
First, if the Thunderbolt's hybrid engines live up to their advertisement, they will operate the vehicle for four miles silently, not for four hours. Although four hours of silent operation would be great, it's pretty unrealistic -- imagine the batteries that would take!
Second, I doubt they're using the same main gun as the Abrams. Rather, I suspect that the gun is an upgrade or takeoff on the XM35 autoloading cannon, which was originally mounted on this same platform when it was the FMC XM8. The XM35 was designed specifically to produce lower recoil, although if it only reduces recoil by 20%, as this Popular Mechanics article states, I wonder if it won't still be a bit much.
Finally, the criticism of the Thunderbolt's armor, or lack thereof, seems silly. Yes, any tank in the world can take out a Thunderbolt. But then any tank in the world can take out a Stryker, or an Abrams for that matter, if they hit it from the right angle. The whole point of the Armored Gun System concept, as far as I can see, is to produce an air-transportable vehicle; air-transportability and invulnerable armor are simply incompatible goals.
StrategyPage is quite correct though to wonder how long it would take to put these beasties into production. The Army's been fooling with the LAV concept since the early '80s, that I know of. And, as Capt. Heinrichs points out in an email, there might be a few bugs in the Thunderbolt. The rubber band track, for instance, is 'not quite ready'. I've also got to wonder how far from production they are with the hybrid engines.
I think the big selling point of the Thunderbolt is its use of the same 120mm round employed by the Abrams. If they can pull that off, whether the gun is mounted on the Stryker or the Thunderbolt, it will greatly simplify logistics.
The petroglyph site I went to look at yesterday is spectacular. Several of the utterly surreal Dinwoody-style figures that could only derive from visions experienced in religious ecstatic states. It's pristine, and it's never been professionally reported before. God, I'm glad I'm not an accountant.
More from KrugmanWorld™
It sounds like Paul Krugman will be burning his
bra AARP card.
Actually, he makes a good point: "So do AARP executives support this bill because they hope to share in the bounty? Maybe, but it probably runs deeper than that. Once an advocacy group becomes as much a business as a service organization, its executives are likely to start identifying more with industry interests than with the groups they are supposed to serve."
Keeping the membership stirred up is good business if your income depends on donations from the faithful. The same point can be made for the NRA, the United Way, the Sierra Club, the National Libertarian Party, and all the other varmints who have learned that fund-raising is a lucrative business that can pay handsome salaries.
I've got to admit that the AARP baffles me though. Along with the public employees' unions they've been among the most staunch supporters of the Democrats. Perhaps this is a bow to realpolitik and an acknowledgment that there isn't much difference between the fiscal policies of the Party of Big Government and those of the Party of Really Big Government. We'll know the Dems are doomed and any hopes for federal fiscal restraint are dead when the public employees' unions start endorsing Republican initiatives.
Welcome to the wild, wild west
Denver -- People moving into the foothills of the Front Range down in Colorado aren't too happy with their neighbors' eating habits. The nerve of them, devouring a deer right under your bedroom window! I like David Baron's take: "… More people in Colorado have been eaten by other people than by mountain lions."
And the Genesee police dispatcher gets the final word: "You live in the mountains. So do mountain lions."
Thursday, November 20, 2003- - -
My consulting company, which by the way will be celebrating it's 10th anniversary in a couple of months, I've named Wind River Archaeology. So today I get a spam addressed: Dear Wind.
We're getting awfully informal there. That's Mr. Archaeology to you, schmuck.
Every day is ammo day!
Dang it, I forgot National Ammo Day! Of course, I picked up a carton of .22 hollowpoints last Friday, and bought a box of 12 ga. 3" #2 steel on Monday. This afternoon I'm going to try to shoot some of it up.
Heaven help you both ;^}
We got bonz
I've been out assessing a scatter of bones that have washed up on the beach of one of our local reservoirs, an entertaining job because we don't often find much in the way of faunal material and I don't often get to employ my somewhat rusty osteology skills. So far I've identified mule deer, elk, horse, and bison remains, but it's apparent that it's not the kill site that the folks who found it were hoping for. Just bones washing down the stream and depositing on the shore of the reservoir.
Now this morning I'm going out with a local amateur to look at the petroglyph site he's found. Such are rare here in the basin, but often spectacular when you find them.
A strange business: The fun jobs don't pay anything. Sort of like blogging that way...
First it was draft cards, then bras, now AARP membership cards. Time marches on. [Via the InstaPundit]
Are we winning those hearts and minds?
Incidents like this would suggest that we're making headway: Kabul residents tipped off Canadian forces of an impending rocket attack.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003- - -
Tsk! Silly bunny huggers
Calgary -- Workers at a wildlife rescue group are wondering why a pellet-gun wielding assailant would riddle a Canada goose with BBs -- nearly killing it.
"We believe it was from a BB gun rather than a shotgun because some of the pellets didn't penetrate the muscle tissue," said [Gillian] Laird [of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society].
Sheesh! Even the fat black dogs know what to do with a wounded goose… bring it to me, heheheh. But seriously, BBs for air rifles are commonly copper or brass-plated, while steel BBs from shotguns are usually zinc-plated, nor are BBs for shotguns as highly polished and uniform in size. The difference should be obvious. Personally, I've got to wonder whether it was actually some slob hunter sky-scrapping (shooting much too far out of range), as I can't see a goose hanging around while you shot it eight times with a BB gun. This is a real problem with steel shot -- it loses velocity and penetrative ability quickly and shouldn't be used at ranges much beyond 40 yards, particularly on something as tough as a goose.
Phone rushed to hospital
Along with the guy who got his finger caught in the coin return slot.
No more donuts for you, little dumplings!
They're instituting physical fitness testing for Billings police, although the testing will be voluntary for those who pass the initial mandatory test. The standards seem a little low though: Scoring at the 40th percentile -- doing better than 40% of the general population -- will be considered 'passing'. Running 1.5 miles in 13:36 will be acceptable for an officer 38 years old.
This reminds me of a children's song on a record I had as a little kid: "Ho Ho Ho, Hee Hee Hee, little fat policeman can't catch me!" (What were they teaching us back then? Why has that song stuck in my head for 45 years?)
It's a two-humper!
Okay, there's a drought going on, but this is ridiculous! Don Golder, a rancher in Yellowstone county, Montana, has got himself a Bactrian camel. Says he's going to break it to ride. Now all he has to do is find a saddle to fit -- good luck on that.
Who's this 'we' paleface?
In yesterday's Best of the Web, James Taranto writes: "We just hope this ruling has a grandfather clause. It was in Massachusetts that our parents--a man and a woman, each a different sex from the other--got married some 40 years ago. If Massachusetts marriage law was unconstitutional, it stands to reason that our parents' marriage is a nullity, and all those readers who've sent us e-mails calling us a bastard are actually on to something."
The UDI Thunderbolt
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs has forwarded a link to this press release announcing the 'new' United Defense Industries Thunderbolt Armored Gun System demonstrator. As they outline, the point of this exercise is to show that they can quickly modernize existing platforms. As Capt. Heinrichs points out, the platform they're modernizing in this case appears to be the FMC M8 AGS, whose chassis and turret appear nearly identical.
What sets the Thunderbolt apart from the earlier M8, and from the Stryker AGS, is its 120mm cannon, which appears to use the same ammo as the Abrams. Incidentally, check out the stop-action photo of the APFSDS round discarding its sabot at the bottom of that page -- bearing in mind that that puppy is going over 5000 fps, that's quite a photo. Standardizing ammo is always a good idea, and this move makes a great deal more sense to me than reverting to the 105mm round for the AGS, as has been done in the Stryker AGS. The Thunderbolt main gun is also an autoloader, which I think is an outstanding idea.
Another little twist they've incorporated in the Thunderbolt is a 'band track system'. Look closely at the photo of the Thunderbolt and you'll see that the track has no visible end connectors. Apparently the track is a continuous band rather than a series of individual blocks, although I'm only speculating on this. Surely the track must come apart somehow, but the fewer places it comes apart the more seldom it should self-destruct. Anyone out there who's ever broken track on one of these beasties in a mudhole in the middle of the night should appreciate that enormously.
Finally, the Thunderbolt is a hybrid! It has a 600 mile range, which is outstanding, and it will operate for four miles silently, running solely on its electric system. That is just too, too cool.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003- - -
I'm intrigued by Rush Limbaugh's statement yesterday: "What you know -- what you think you know -- you don't know." And I wondered if I might have been too harsh on ol' Rush in my past posts (1, 2).
Not being a listener and not giving a damn about him one way or the other, I really hadn't bothered to research the news in any great depth, and he's certainly not been arrested, much less convicted of anything at this point. Also, he has a point in saying that the National Enquirer isn't exactly a news authority. There have been a lot of allegations made, and Limbaugh certainly seems to be tap dancing around the subject in his statement yesterday, but even an innocent man is wise to keep his mouth shut if he's under investigation. So what do we know?
In his departing comments last October 10th, Limbaugh admitted his addiction to painkillers, but he says he was treating his pain with "prescribed medication." My reading of his actual comments seems to fall short of being a 'taped confession' as some, including myself, have suggested. So I think I can scratch the 'taped confession' bit -- my bad.
However, CNN's 'law enforcement sources' say that the National Enquirer article is substantially accurate. Those same sources say that his former housekeeper, Wilma Cline, has turned over emails and answering machine messages about drugs that appear to be from Limbaugh. Elsewhere, an ABCNews 'source close to the investigation' says investigators have audiotapes of at least two drug transactions recorded by Cline that allegedly contain Limbaugh's voice.
In another article, CNN reports that Limbaugh's name came up as a possible buyer during an investigation into illegal sales of prescription drugs, but he wasn't the focus of the investigation, they were after the dealers. The New York Daily News "independently confirmed" that Limbaugh is under investigation. According to the NY Daily News, Cline wore a wire during her last two deliveries to Limbaugh and gave those tapes to the authorities.
And the plot thickens: Again according to the NY Daily News: "[Cline] claimed that a lawyer for Limbaugh gave her a payoff -- $80,000 he owed her, plus another $120,000 -- and asked her to destroy the computer that contained the E-mail records."
So… I'm generally wary of unnamed 'sources' and it is possible that, in their attempts to obtain independent confirmation, the various news agencies have all talked to the same source, who might very well have an undisclosed ax to grind. That is, however, an extremely ad hoc defense. This is obviously a complicated case with several other suspects, including Ms. Cline.
On the other hand, if Limbaugh had obtained the drugs he became addicted to legally -- with a valid prescription -- I can't think of any reason why he would not simply say so, whether he is under investigation or not. I would think he would be eager to make sure the investigators and his listeners knew he had obtained his painkillers legally. So why the tap dance? To protect his privacy? That's been pretty well shot. I suppose he might be cooperating with an investigation and not allowed to say anything about that investigation, but I don't see how a simple 'I'm innocent' could jeopardize the investigation, and it's those two words we're not hearing here.
Limbaugh is right -- there's a lot we don't know. But it doesn't look good when the 'mouth that roared' puts a sock in it. I may indeed be rushing to judgment, but I think he's guilty as sin. I think he should be investigated. If the investigation pans out I think he should be tried, and if he's convicted as a result I think he should be imprisoned.
Okay, now you're pullin' my other leg
Today's CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "In light of the recent spate of stabbings in Calgary, do you think there needs to be stricter controls on the possession of knives?" So far, 73.8% say 'Yes'.
The Cornershot Gun
Via StrategyPage, I think I feel something tugging on my leg here.
"If riding an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. "
-- H.S. Thompson
That old slippery slope
WaPo -- "Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ashcroft's advisers stopped the FBI from comparing a list of Sept. 11-related detainees against a list of approved gun purchasers. They said that under the Brady law, the Justice Department is prohibited from using such records for law enforcement purposes. Before it was interrupted, the search had resulted in two matches, sources said at the time."
Hmm… Not only is the Justice Department prohibited from using such records, they're specifically prohibited from keeping such records -- the Brady Law was specifically crafted not to be a form of de facto gun registration. Therefore, there should have been no "list of approved gun purchasers," thus no matches could have been found, unless the Justice Department and/or FBI was violating the Brady Act long before 9/11.
Now once again we see calls for a fishing expedition through those records that supposedly don't exist. It would appear that the law is a rather mutable quantity for those charged with enforcing it. And you wonder why some of us are opposed to all gun laws?
A giant flushing sound
When the AARP jumps ship on one of the oldster's core issues like Medicare, I've got to think the Democrats are indeed doomed.
Monday, November 17, 2003- - -
And speaking of reviled minorities
One more from Phil Ochs:
Love me, I'm a liberal
I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
Of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crane?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
Timeless and priceless.
The last revilable minorities
Back when, I wrote that rednecks are the last revilable minority: What do you call two rednecks in a pickup with two dogs in the back? A double date. Try replacing 'redneck' with any other group you can think of and tell that one on TV. But then Steve Den Beste said a few days ago that white men in general are the last acceptable targets for jokes.
I pondered that for awhile and came to the conclusion that there has been quite a bit of fun poked at metrosexuals lately. They certainly are somewhere on the other end of the spectrum from rednecks -- I certainly doubt that any of my friends have ever plucked their eyebrows or waxed their chest (Ow! You must be kidding!) -- so all things considered I've got to agree with Steve.
But then as I was checking out at the grocery this evening the cashier made a mistake and said "I'm so blonde." Unhuh. I suppose blondes are the exception that proves the rule. Even my wife, who suffers sometimes from an excess of PC, loves blonde jokes. Of course, a couple of her least favorite people are archetypal blondes, so she might be a little bit prejudiced there.
"I've not been phony here!"
"You can boil it down to one real simple essence: I can't be responsible for anybody's happiness but my own, and if I allow somebody else the power to determine my happiness, then...well...that's something I don't want to do."
For just a moment there, I thought ol' Rush was going to go into a libertarian screed about the horrors of the drug war in particular and government intruding into our lives in general. I should have known better. It does look like he's taking the advice of his lawyer though. While he admitted he was wrong, he didn't admit to doing anything prosecutable that I could see. Says he: "It's quite hilarious to listen to people quote the National Enquirer as the world's foremost authority, and I'm here to tell you that they're not, ladies and gentlemen. What you know - what you think you know - you don't know. But you will when I am able to tell you all about it, and I hope that's going to be very, very soon."
Well I know one thing: This sounds like someone who might still do the perp walk. That's a lot of tap dancing for an innocent man who 'isn't a phony'. Perhaps that's just his way of saying he's a genuine hypocrite. Personally, I can wait 'five to ten' to hear the rest of his story.
Steve Den Beste says TV induced his strange dreams, I'll blame mine last night on taco pizza.
I was working in one of those adult novelty stores [and I don't think I've ever been in an adult novelty store] when some kid grabbed the cash drawer and ran. I was chasing him down the street as fast as I could run and almost had the little miscreant in my clutches when my wife woke me up. Apparently I was kicking and twitching something fierce and she thought I was having a bad dream. Bummer. Now I'll never get back to perusing those magazines.
Mark Goldblatt delivers a scathing review of Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country?
Hey! Maybe we'll get to listen while they arrest Limbaugh on the air. Maybe he'll turn himself in… Maybe pigs will learn to fly.
Ps. Newsday says: "A law enforcement source in Palm Beach County, where Limbaugh owns a $24 million oceanfront mansion, said last week that Limbaugh's drug use is still under investigation by the state attorney's office."
What's to investigate? They've got a taped confession.
Thanks for warning us!
It's that time again, Beaujolais Nouveau is hitting the market. Just remember: Beaujolais Nouveau is the leading cause of Nouveau Flu.
And speaking of draft dodgers
It appears that all is not well in the Draft Hillary camps.
Draft Dodger Rag
Speaking of Phil Ochs, the man was a genius with a lyric. Check out this one:
I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American town
I believe in God and Senator Dodd and keeping old Castro down
And when it came my time to serve I knew better dead than red
But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said:
Sarge, I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat, my feet are flat, and my asthma's
O think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old
Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a goin' to school, and I'm
working in a defense plant
I've got a dislocated disc and a racked up back
I'm allergic to flowers and bugs
And when the bombshell hits, I get epileptic fits
And I'm addicted to a thousand drugs
I got the weakness woes, and I can't touch my toes
I can hardly reach my knees
And if the enemy came close to me
I'd probably start to sneeze
I hate Chou En Lai, and I hope he dies,
but one thing you gotta see
That someone's gotta go over there
and that someone isn't me
So I wish you well, Sarge, give 'em Hell
Yeah, Kill me a thousand or so
And if you ever get a war without blood and gore
Well I'll be the first to go
Some things never change, do they?
Hey! Somebody besides me remembers Phil Ochs! The Denver Post editorializes on the down-side of government efforts at economic development, concluding that "… economic development, like charity, best begins at home." I'd go one step farther and suggest that neither economic development nor charity should be the business of government.
The horror story they tell about Denver's near miss with the now defunct United Airlines maintenance center ought to be an object lesson in the pitfalls of government bureaucrats trying to pick winners and losers in business. Stories about massive subsidies to WalMart particularly chap me.
Wyoming boy makes good!
The Dave True family has won the Citizen of the West award for 2004.
"The Board of Education"
I certainly understand the temptation to give the little miscreants a swift swat, but I wouldn't risk my job to do it, and in our modern litigious society I also understand why school boards forbid corporal punishment. Unfortunately, a stern talking-to just doesn't make it in all cases.
It's a man's world
Following up on the Air Force Academy scandal [check out the right side bar for dozens of Denver Post articles] the DP has conducted a nine-month investigation that has found, not surprisingly, that the academy's woes are only the tip of the iceberg. Today they present a multi-media documentary of their findings. It's not a pretty picture.
Do check this one out, it's a Pulitzer-quality presentation.
And another good one!
We opened the HRM Rex Goliath chardonnay for lunch yesterday and it too is quite good. It's been awhile since our local liquor stores got in any new wines -- wine and hard liquor are a state monopoly, naturally the supply is limited -- so it's fun to try something new that we didn't have to drive to Colorado to get. The cellar is getting low and I think I'll have them set aside a case of each for us.
Incidentally, the original Rex Goliath was a 47# rooster. A forty-seven pound rooster!? Wow!
And don't let the door hit you…
Speaking in Regina, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says he won't miss outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's "temper" and heavy-handed ways in dealing with the provinces. ...
Klein said that's why he's looking forward to working with [incoming Prime Minister Paul] Martin, who has repeatedly signalled [sic] he wants to forge a new relationship with the provinces.
Judging from today's CalgarySun on-line poll, the citizens are about evenly divided. The poll asks: "Will a Paul Martin-led federal government lead to better relations between Ottawa and Western Canada?" So far 43.2% say 'Yes' and 56.8% say 'No'. Compared to their opinions of Chrétien, this is positively brimming with enthusiasm.
All aren't so happy with Klein though. Link Byfield takes the Premier and the Alberta provincial government to task for knuckling under on a challenge to the Firearms Act.
Ps. Okay, one more piece. Today's CalgarySun editorial waxes optimistic for the new Premier [Erg! I meant to say Prime Minister], hoping he will rebuild Canada's relationship with the US: "Chretien seems to have gone out of his way to infuriate, perplex and snub Washington at every turn. It’s surprising the Americans have been so patient with Canadians — rather than explode in anger." Hey, if we were than easily provoked we'd have nuked California years ago!
The Juno Beach Academy of Canadian Studies
A new military academy operated by the Calgary public school system. Fascinating idea.
Sunday, November 16, 2003- - -
Terms of Endearment
In a "Message" today, which is unfortunately not on-line, Casper Star-Tribune editor Dan Neal says "If we're going to be the Red Star, I want that to be an affectionate term, not one of disdain."
Okaaay… I suppose that for those who admired the old Soviet Union and revered it's government mouthpieces, "Red Star" and "Pravda on the Platte" could be considered affectionate terms. But how many such folks do you think you'd find in Wyoming outside the hallowed halls of academe, and the good folks employed by the Red Star? This latest certainly seems to handily bridge the gap between self-criticism and naval gazing.
The InstaPundit touches on a topic I've considered: No matter what the Bush administration says, the 'loyal' opposition is going to contradict it. So the surest way to garner support for our continued efforts in Iraq is to threaten to pull out. That Bush, he's the dumbest man in Washington… except for all the rest of them.
And you expected?
Anyone out there think these folks would be happy about losing their phony baloney jobs? Did you think the bureaucrats who were required to evaluate the effects of privatization would conclude that it was a good idea? If so, let me know, because I've got a lead on some terrific desert land...
Bowling for Bozos
Calgary -- Parents at a southeast junior high school are upset an R-rated movie was shown to young students, and the Calgary Board of Education is scrambling to ensure others don't see the controversial flick.
Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine was shown recently to a Grade 9 health class at Sherwood Community School without parents being informed their children would watch the politically-charged documentary. …
The controversial film was shown to illustrate the consequences of violence and of poor decision-making, [CBE spokeswoman Barb] Kuester said.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the parties responsible will learn the consequences of their poor decision-making.
We opened the HRM Rex Goliath cabernet for lunch yesterday and it is very good for cheap swill.
The BLM has upped the ante on the damage done to the BA rock shelter. Now they're saying $7 million! I'm forced to wonder what my evil twin Mikey has been smoking. At least in the Billings Gazette article they admit they don't know what, if anything, the looters made off with, but they're still very vague on how they've arrived at this $7 million figure.
I'd posted on this earlier, and pointed out that the damages are pretty much pie-in-the-sky, no matter what figure they might arrive at, and further arguing that exaggerating the monetary value of the artifacts to be had from such illicit digging is irresponsible in the extreme -- it can only encourage future looters.
Oddly, it is the craze for prehistoric artifacts that has eliminated much of their monetary value. By making projectile points valuable, the market has encouraged fakery, and for a while there the fakers were knocking down some big bucks. Then, along came Woody Blackwell, who was made famous by an article in the Nov. 15, 1999 New Yorker, Woody's Dream. You see, Woody had gotten so good at replicating artifacts that his productions fooled the experts. In the process, he sold a handful of replicated Clovis points for many thousands of dollars, burning one of the biggest of the big bucks collectors.
Now, thanks to Woody Blackwell and his artifact-faking brethren, those collectors who were willing to pay big bucks for the rarest artifacts -- mostly Paleoindian-age projectile points such as Woody's Clovis creations -- are very leery of any artifact that doesn't have a well-documented provenience. Needless to say, if what you have to sell was looted from federal lands, providing the provenience would be self-incriminating.
To be fair, many of these folks aren't trying to fool anyone, they flint knap as a hobby. Some (1, 2, 3, 4) are very good at it. But in pursuing their hobby, and trading and selling their creations, they've cast a shadow of doubt over every 'genuine artifact' offered for sale.
The temptation is obvious. Purchase an exquisite point from one of these folks for $50-100, and pass it off as genuine for ten times that amount, or more. But serious collectors are wise to this and, thanks to Woody Blackwell and the New Yorker, they know that it can be impossible even for a professional to distinguish between genuine and reproduction. Some folks are still trying to sell 'genuine' artifacts (1, 2, 3), but even at their most wildly optimistic their points are valued in the $2000-3000 range, and frankly, a lot of their artifacts are questionable in the extreme. Caveat emptor indeed.
Finally, those folks who have excavated archaeological sites, either professionally or illicitly, have learned pretty quickly how much digging you can do without finding anything that would excite a collector. Most serious amateurs know excavation is a waste of time. If all you're after is a pretty arrowhead, excavation is hard work for little reward.
So why is the BLM persisting with these outrageous figures? I suspect that they're laying the groundwork to demand a bunch more law enforcement rangers and archaeologists to protect this oh so valuable resource:
From the Gazette -- David Tarler, an attorney and consultant on protection issues, said looting on federal lands is a problem that often goes unnoticed. "Looting isn't like robbing a bank," he said.
The BLM has just six law-enforcement rangers in Wyoming, spokeswoman Cindy Wertz said, and relies on employees and the public to report problems on the roughly 18 million acres the agency oversees.
"We really rely on education, getting the word out that things they find on public land are protected," Wertz said.
But, she acknowledged, publicizing certain areas - such as the Black Mountain Archaeological District that includes the BA Cave and similar formations and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places - can be a double-edge [sic] sword.
A double-edged sword indeed. Such vandalism is quite rare at present, but by publicizing this event and tossing about such huge figures, they may very well create a bigger problem and grow their bureaucracy.
Saturday, November 15, 2003- - -
I've been busy catching up on all the latest gossip and war stories with my favorite Montana State Trooper, who's been visiting for the last couple days. He's a walking advertisement for defensive driving: "I tried to give the guy CPR, but when I pushed on his chest his brains came out his nose." Now there's a graphic image for you. I certainly wouldn't want Scott's job, but we should all be glad that someone is willing to do this.
High Speed Vessel
Here's a picture of the HSV 2 in operation off the shore of Iraq, via StrategyPage. That is one Star Wars lookin' outfit!
Wednesday, November 12, 2003- - -
Cry me a river
According to his grandmother, Omar Khadr, a Canadian teenager being held at Guantanamo, is blind in one eye and has an injured shoulder. Says granny: "I'm telling you now. I want somebody to scream for this boy." The article concludes in an accusatory tone: "Canadian officials, who have visited the 17-year-old at the U.S. military base where he is held, have never mentioned such injuries.
I can see why granny is upset. There's more to the story that the CalgarySun doesn't tell us. You see, according to Michelle Malkin, poor little Omar is also "… accused of lobbing the hand grenade that killed Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, a 28-year-old medic with the U.S. Special Forces." Omar's dad, Ahmad Said Khadr, "... is considered by intelligence officials to be the highest-ranking Canadian within Osama bin Laden's inner circle." He and Omar's brother are on the run.
Poor granny, her whole family is falling apart.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003- - -
Your punishment for the day
"Register Today for the Howard Dean MeatUp," says the headline at today's Best of the Web. "… it becomes clear just how huge are the political steaks."
Low humor, my favorite kind.
StrategyPage has an interesting take on the recent terrorist bombing in Saudi.
We had intended to attend the march on the BLM, if only to see what these folks seem so upset about. They were to rally at 8am, march through town and arrive at the BLM offices for speeches and a chili lunch. Unfortunately, they were still rallying at 10:30, with trucks and horse trailers still trickling into the staging area. I got the distinct impression that only a handful of folks had shown at 8 and they were calling all their buddies to hurry on down (a handful of cranks aren't going to impress the BLM much). Heaven knows when they finally got their act together, as we gave up and went home at 10:30.
From the Billings Gazette article it appears that their chief complaint was with the BLM restricting grazing on the public range this last summer, and I can certainly see how this would affect the pocketbooks of all the local ranchers. However, nowhere do I see these folks acknowledging that the range is in horrible shape due to the on-going drought (although it was better this summer than the last couple of years). I can understand why these folks are upset, but I can also understand why the BLM would restrict grazing.
Monday, November 10, 2003- - -
"This wine is no turkey"
We picked up a bottle each of the store's latest wines: HRM Rex Goliath's chardonnay and cabernet. We haven't tried it yet, but at the very least the vintner has a sense of humor, the label proclaims that it's "free range."
Why guns aren't magic wands to be waved about
I can't find a reference, but I believe it was the Colonel who tells the story of the hapless hunter stalking dangerous game, his gunbearer and tracker at his side. Heading into thick brush, the hunter disengages his safety, the better to shoot quickly. Continuing on, he hears a faint sound ahead and puts his finger on the trigger, ready to shoot. Then, of a sudden he sees movement at the corner of his eye, spins, and shoots his tracker dead.
The moral of this story, and one the police in Goose Step might be wise to heed: Never set yourself up to shoot faster than you can think.
Ps. Armed Liberal has two excellent posts on the topic of gun-waving cops, via an update at the InstaPundit's.
Check out these guys: WhyWork.Org, a website dedicated to "comfortable and creative unemployment." Oddly, I bet they're not Republicans, although I could see some libertarians getting into this.
The Guilty Party
Now there's a political organization I could get behind.
Sunday, November 09, 2003- - -
Way back when, I posted a short bit on different approaches the government has used to enforce the same off-road vehicle policy. They used to ask nicely. That worked. Now they threaten dire consequences. That doesn't.
I think that probably explains the current hubbub over the Forest Service' food storage rules in grizzly country. At first blush it only makes sense to store food carefully in bear country. I've never known anyone who didn't do that. But now the Forest Service wants to establish rules for food storage and everyone is pissed. Why? I can only guess that it's because, rather than reminding everyone to be careful, they're coming down with arbitrary rules and dire warnings of major penalties. A lot of folks out this way don't care much for the Forest Service to begin with. They care even less for being threatened.
Across the great divide
Via the InstaPundit, Michael Barone suggests that "What we are seeing is a civil war between the two halves of the baby boom, the liberal half that basked in national publicity in the late 1960s and the conservative half that smoldered in resentment for many years until its more recent rise to prominence."
I think he's mistaken to suggest that half the boomers have always been conservatives and smoldering in resentment. If that were the case, I don't think we'd be seeing the sort of shift in voting that Bill Quick recently pointed out. Did all those resentful conservative boomers simply not vote all these years? I think not. Rather, I think Winston Churchill had it right when he said "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head." We boomers are aging and, I think, most of us are growing up albeit perhaps belatedly. 9/11 certainly provided a catalyst, but I would hope to think that we'd have come around eventually regardless.
However, we've come of age in our own unique way. At least for myself, growing up under the influence of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war -- watching police set their dogs on civil rights marchers and National Guardsmen firing on college students -- has certainly left an indelible mark on me and I will never suffer from an excess of love of government. While I've certainly grown out of my early socialistic idealism, I have not grown from a 'government knows best' liberal into a 'government knows best' conservative. I haven't shifted from left to right, but rather from left to 'leave me alone' libertarian.
That I support President Bush and the war on terror derives not from a love of Republican politics, but rather from the full knowledge that as bad as our government might sometimes be, it's nothing compared to what the radical Islamists would perpetrate on us if they had half a chance.
Punks in jackboots
What I find most alarming about incidents like this high-school drug raid in South Carolina is how eager small town cops often are to go for their guns, and how very little training a lot of them have.
Goose Creek, SC, is a town of about 30,000 that doesn't have a huge crime problem (1 murder, 3 rapes, and 14 robberies in 2001). Most such small towns don't have big budgets for law enforcement and frequently don't pay the greatest salaries for their cops.
There are pros and cons to this. For someone looking to start a career in law enforcement, small town police forces provide a lot of entry-level jobs. You get a job in Tiny Town, pick up some training and experience, buff your résumé, and move on to bigger cities with better training and better pay as your career progresses. Of course, this is grossly oversimplified. Some cops are tied to the community and spend their entire careers in one place. Some don't want the stress of the big city cop shop. Some just prefer to be a big fish in a small pond. Whatever. Bottom line: Low law enforcement budgets also mean short funds for training and a high percentage of rookies.
A Tiny Town friend tells of being caught in one of those 'wrong address' drug raids a few years back, where the cops came barreling in, put everyone on their faces in cuffs, and then searched (no, they didn't find anything). In the process, my friend found himself on his face, with a cop's foot on the middle of his back and a gun pressed to the back of his head. That would be scary enough under any circumstance, but he said what scared him most was the fact that he could feel the cop shaking like a shaved Chihuahua.
Were I a Tiny Town police chief, I believe I'd have a policy that no weapon was to be unholstered unless the officer was in immediate fear for his life or that of another citizen. Likewise, that the M16s and MP5s stay in the locked rack unless weapons were in evidence. The swat team would come out only as a last resort to reinforce the uniformed patrolmen. As much as it would grieve me to have an officer wounded or killed, it would be far, far worse if they killed an innocent with an adrenaline-induced accidental discharge. And lest you think that would only happen in Tiny Town, don't you suppose that was what precipitated the Diallo shooting?
Cops are human too. Give them minimal training and the idea that guns are some sort of magic wand to be waved about, put them in highly adrenaline-charged situations, and it's only a matter of time before some innocent will be shot. It's hard to imagine just how fumble-fingered, and brain-fogged you get under extreme stress, and in such situations accidents will happen. Far, far better to give them enough training and confidence in their gun handling that they don't feel the need to have their gun in their hand in such situations, and don't feel the need to go for the heavy firepower every time they bust some pot dealer.
I don't blame the officers on the scene in such shootings. Rather, I blame their superiors for poor training, poor policy, and poor judgment in putting them in such situations, and for allowing the 'us v. them' mindset that devalues the lives of the civilian population to the point where they think that charging into every situation with guns drawn is acceptable.
Pulling a gun on a crowd of high-school kids is simply unacceptable behavior. If a citizen did it you can bet they'd be charged -- 'assault with a deadly weapon' comes to mind. Yet, somehow this sort of behavior has become SOP for law enforcement. Consider for a moment: Just what were those goofuses going to do if a kid did pull a gun? Hose down the crowd? What were they thinking?
Ps. I'm really not joking about poor training. The police here in Worland used to train at the public shooting range. Then a few years back they decided they needed their own private range so they could practice their "secret tactics." One can only wonder what those might be: The 'fast draw and pitch your handgun at the target' move? The 'trip and fall on your fat belly running from one barricade to the next' move? Those of us who go to the range for fun often got a good laugh at their expense. Some of them were quite good, but some were truly awful, and I'm sure having us watching didn't help.
PPs. Andrew Ian Dodge, commenting at Samizdata asks the obvious question: Where are the lawsuits? David Paglia, also commenting at Samizdata says "[m]ost police departments have very strict rules about drawing one's gun. It is considered "use of force", and something you only do if the situation justifies it." Hmm… Yes, I would certainly hope that police departments have strict rules on this sort of thing, but I'm not sure how widespread such rules really are. If they are widespread they certainly are ignored often enough.
I'd been thinking about this post and wondering if I'd been too harsh, but then I watch the video again. My granddad was a city cop and my dad was a deputy sheriff. I have friends who are law enforcement and correctional officers. I believe wholeheartedly in protecting the weak and maintaining a civil society. But I'm afraid that law enforcement in this country has gone out of control. And I think my dad's right: "Law enforcement" is the key term here. At some point these folks ceased being peace officers serving the people and became law enforcement officers serving the state.
The rest of the story
Remember the Afghan cutie in the red bikini who competed in the Miss Earth contest last month? Well, it sounds like she'd better not return to Afghanistan.
Saturday, November 08, 2003- - -
The Worland Warriors won the Class 4A State football championship back to back in 2001 and 2002. This afternoon they staged a three-peat, trouncing the Buffalo Bison.
The Bison starting line-up were markedly taller than our boys, averaging around 6' 2", but most weighed in around 170-180, tall and skinny. On the other hand, our kids were squatty and stout, 5' 8" and 215#, 5' 11" and 230#, etc. They only had a couple of kids who went over 200#, while we only had a couple under that weight.
Given the poundage disparity, it's not too surprising that Worland's running game rolled over the Bison, averaging darn close to 5 yards per carry all afternoon. Conversely, the Bison probably wound up with negative running yards, being knocked on their butts practically every time they tried a ground attack. Worland took it to them up the middle right from the start and the Bison simply didn't have the beef to stop them. Virtually every time the front lines met the Bison gave ground. It wasn't a pretty game, we didn't get to see much variety in our offense, but it was a short game, with not much reason to stop the clock.
The Bison did manage to put together a decent air game briefly, scoring 13 quick points in the 2nd and third quarters and tying the game -- they had me worried for a minute there -- but the worry only lasted a minute or two, as Worland responded with another TD in about four plays, flat. A late field goal added another three to make the final tally 23-13, but the game wasn't as close as the score would suggest.
Friday, November 07, 2003- - -
I'd buy that
BarCodeKing has a hillarious comment at Bill Quick's:
The Oh Hillary candy bar. It contains peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts, enrobed in sugar-free bitter chocolate. Like the rest of the Democratic Party, the part that isn't bitter is just plain nuts.
The boob tube
It's not an appliance, it's a relationship.
I see that Kim du Toit's post on manliness is causing quite a furor, with the InstaPundit devoting an uncharacteristicly lengthy post to the topic.
Now I'm in that group of people who simply don't watch network TV. I watch the weather channel for a few minutes at lunch and I watch the occasional sporting event, although even with the later the tube is on mostly as background noise. That's it. I've never watched Survivor, I've never seen even one single episode of Buffy. I don't watch TV news except when we're on the road and don't have newspaper delivery and internet access. I don't avoid TV because I feel that it denigrates me, I simply find most all TV programming lame beyond words. It's formulaic, it's predictable, it's boring. It's not worth the effort of deconstructing it for its deep social message.
Harlan Ellison pointed out years ago that one of the networks had a policy that all their programming be oriented to a 3rd grader's level of understanding and intellect. It appears to me that that policy has spread across the broadcast spectrum. Don't like the TV programming you're watching? Well, there's a really easy way to solve that. Get up off the couch and go do something. If you're not feeling manly enough go kill something. Eat the kidneys raw, that will boost your testosterone. But don't sit there on the couch watching and then complain that the programming people watch is turning them into pussies, warping their minds, or whatever. Do the manly thing: Turn it off.
But whatever you do, spare me the 'pussies this' and 'faggots that' business. Whether I hear it from some loudmouth in the bar or read it on the internet, it always gets the same reaction from me: Me thinks thou doth protest too much.
Ps. Say! I might actually watch Biker Billy Cooks With Fire. But what I want to know is where they found that old picture of me for their entry page.
Practicing psychology without a license...
Further pondering UC Berserkley professor George Lakoff's seemingly nonsensical lament that conservatives use language to dominate politics, I find that my problem is similar to Nietzsche's:
"This has given me the greatest trouble and still does: to realize that what things are called is incomparably more important that what they are."
In addition to providing that delightful quote, an article by Brian K. Smith may provide an insight into the psychology underlying Lakoff's thinking and at least a partial explanation for our difficulties in maintaining a discourse with both the far left and far right ends of our political spectrum.
It might be argued that the root of the problem is a conflict between Mythos and Logos, between the sacred and the profane, between reasoning that springs from the heart, and that which derives from the mind. It's the difference between appealing to the emotions and appeals to reason. Says Smith:
"Mythos, in its earliest usage, was distinguished from logos not because it was thought to be false but, on the contrary, unquestionably true. As Kees Bolle notes in his article "Myth and Mythology" in the Encyclopedia Britannica, "The original Greek term for myth (mythos) denotes 'word' in the sense of a decisive, final pronouncement. It differs from logos, the word whose validity or truth can be argued and demonstrated.""
This highlights the fundamental problem that I believe Zeyad at Healing Iraq is pointing to in quoting Jonathan Swift: "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into." [If you're not reading Healing Iraq you should be!!]
I've been having a very entertaining email discussion with Michael Parker on this topic that made me flash on the old Myers-Briggs Personality Types and the inherent conflict between thinking/reasoning and feeling/intuiting. Myers-Briggs shows thinking v. feeling, reasoning [sensing] v. intuiting not to be dichotomies, but rather continua, with most folks falling somewhere in between, but also some tending toward the extremes.
Unfortunately, to take this line of thought to it's logical conclusion, it might be suggested that, as Swift implied, it is useless to attempt to reason with those whose thought processes are rooted in emotion.
I'm still pondering the implications of this, both for our domestic political discourse, and for our efforts in the WOT. In either case it would seem that reasoned discourse will inevitably fail to reach a certain percentage on the fringes. We can only pray that the percentage is a small one, but I fear it may be larger than I think.
Thursday, November 06, 2003- - -
This just out from StrategyPage. They've captured shells in Iraq from a 160mm breach-loading Chinese mortar so big it must be towed! To put that in perspective, the standard US mortars are 81mm and 4.2" (105mm). breach-loading? Wow.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003- - -
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
-- Galatians 6:7
Whatever you might think of the literal truth of the Bible, there certainly is a great deal of wisdom contained therein, including this pithy comment which springs to mind whenever I hear anyone defending 'poor old Rush'. The latest I've come across is this little epistle from Steve Dasbach, past National Chairman and National Director of the Libertarian Party, USA. Says he:
"Nothing will be gained by sending Rush to prison. Nothing is gained by imprisoning other less-famous drug users either. If Rush's fellow conservatives resolve their dilemma with compassion, perhaps we can all agree to stop treating drug use as a crime and stop wasting lives. And we can continue to enjoy "Excellence in Broadcasting" for many years to come. "
Now ordinarily, I'd be the first to argue for compassion, there are few things I despise more than the idiotic and totally counterproductive 'war on drugs'. However, in Limbaugh's case I'll make an exception. As I argued in the comments to Dasbach's little apologia, let's call it Sauce for the Gander. The scum bucket should get exactly the treatment he has so long and so loudly advocated for the rest of us, if only because advocacy of the war on drugs by the Great and Powerful Rush has certainly helped to perpetuate this misery upon the rest of us. He has no compassion, why should he benefit from ours?
I'd be willing to reconsider if I thought there was the slightest chance that this might cause the dittoheads to also reconsider, and advocate actually changing the law. But I find this to be wishful thinking of the most starry-eyed sort. The hypocrisy of the drug war is just too blatant. The rich and powerful go to Betty Ford, the rest of us go to jail. This isn't the first time, nor do I think it will be the last that we will see this principle in action.
Nothing gained by sending Rush to prison? On the contrary, I'd gain a great deal of personal satisfaction by seeing him do the perp walk. But I really doubt I'll have that satisfaction. I expect that good ol' Rush will be back snortin' & bellerin' "Lock 'em up!" inside six months, as if nothing had happened. This is terribly cynical and I do hope I'm wrong, but I'm not a cynic for nothing.
"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.
"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
-- Rush Limbaugh, Oct. 5, 1995
Ps. Think I'm being harsh? Check out what Rachel Mills, LP candidate for the North Carolina House (District 31) in 2002 has to say:
"But to be fair and to make an example of him, he should be sent to prison. In fact, he should volunteer, if not charged. We have, I believe, a taped confession, so evidence is no problem for the prosecution. Go for it! He should go willingly, pain untreated, to writhe in agony for a mandatory minimum sentence, like the rest of us without political friends, at the mercy of the pundits and moralizers.
"Do I want to see Rush suffer? Am I hateful and uncompassionate? Emphatically no. But what I do want is for Drug Warriors to be subject to the same scrutiny they impose on others. Fairness.
"I want Rush, a person with intellectual access to more people, arguably than any other political analyst, to witness first-hand what the implications are for what he espouses; that lack of understanding for others, limiting the freedom of others, can also mean prison for you.
"I want him to go to prison, have all his assets forfeited, be taken away from his family and career for 5-10 years, and then after he's paid his "debt," never be able to vote or own a firearm again because he's a convicted felon.
"Is it so much to ask for seeking relief from excruciating pain? I only ask what he and the other drug warriors he stands behind demand of the unwashed and faceless masses that suffer under these policies every day."
Snicker, Snort, Guffaw!
Via The Smallest Minority, Dipnut at isntapundit has one of the funniest posts I've read lately, a send-up of UC Berserkley professor George Lakoff's lament that conservatives use language to dominate politics.
No, don't tell me, I think I can guess:
We say things that make sense, and you don't?
Warm up your laugh muscles before you read this one.
Ps. The original interview with professor Lakoff is very worthwhile reading, if only to get an insight into a very twisted mindset. Here's the prof's take on traditional liberalism: "Also, within traditional liberalism you have a history of rational thought that was born out of the Enlightenment: all meanings should be literal, and everything should follow logically. So if you just tell people the facts, that should be enough — the truth shall set you free. All people are fully rational, so if you tell them the truth, they should reach the right conclusions. That, of course, has been a disaster."
Rationality, logic, and truth lead to disaster, eh? That should send a chill down your spine. So what is the good professor getting at here? He's forming a progressive think tank (could there be anything more oxymoronic than a "progressive think tank"?) to 'reframe the public debate'. At first gasp this appears to be academic onanism at its finest, but do read on… it gets positively Orwellian. Particularly note Lakoff's characterization of the progressive 'nurturant parent' worldview v. the conservative 'strict father' model:
"Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.
"The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world."
I don't believe I've ever before read anyone who could make raising your children to be disciplined and self-reliant sound like a bad thing, although there's nothing new about boosting the nanny state. And I particularly like the professor's discussion of tax relief:
"The phrase "Tax relief" began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain."
Taxation as affliction? I don't have any problem with that construction, but the good professor would prefer to think that taxes are the 'dues you pay to be an American'. I wonder at this as, in the prof's frame of reference, those undisciplined slackers he so wants to 'nurture' mostly don't pay any dues. Logically therefore, we ought to be able to cancel their membership in the American Club, but I doubt the prof had that conclusion in mind. Remember: rationality, logic, and truth lead to disaster.
The prof continues in much the same vein, taking whacks at the California energy crisis and recall election, gay marriage, free markets, etc. etc. He does make a few good points though. Says he: "Right now the Democrat Party is into marketing. They pick a number of issues like prescription drugs and Social Security and ask which ones sell best across the spectrum, and they run on those issues. They have no moral perspective, no general values, no identity." Good lord prof! You mean they're bloodless, soulless, and clueless?
At the risk of practicing pop psychology without a license, I'd point out that 'reframing the terms of political debate', the first stated goal of the professor's new Rockridge Institute would seem to be a classic psychological avoidance mechanism: by diddling their rhetoric -- you don't pay 'taxes' you pay 'dues' -- they can continue on in deep denial of their failed socialist agenda. One wonders if the good professor has had a hand in trying to convince us that the Dems new 'gun safety' agenda is somehow different from their old 'gun control' agenda, for instance. I don't think this sort of thing deceives anyone but themselves.
One is only left to wonder why the good professor didn't call his think tank the Ministry of Truth, as what he proposes sounds chillingly like an exercise in blackwhite. (Orwell described blackwhite as "...loyal willingness to say black is white when party discipline demands this. It also means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know black is white, and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.") The good professor is correct on one point: "Liberals don't get it."
Wolves help feed scavengers
Of course. All those Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife biologists have to eat too you know.
This oughta be interesting
A western lifestyle rally [scroll down; link good today only] has been planned for Monday, November 10th, here in Worland. Local businessmen and ranchers will be marching on the BLM, complaining of 'heavy-handed bureaucrats'. I'll be there taking notes and cheering them on.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003- - -
What? Did someone make fun of your hat?
Sounds like someone needs to spend a week on the mountain, killing small furry animals, swilling beer, eating his own cooking, peeing off the porch, and warming his butt by chopping wood and burning it. That puts all those pussified things like refrigeration, flush toilets, and hot running water in a whole different perspective.
More on the Stryker
In regard to my post yesterday on the Stryker MGS, Phil Fraering of news from the fridge writes:
Just wondering, but I've seen reference to the MGS Stryker variant _not_ being C-130 transportable; heck, one person I know of who works at Air Mobility Command says the non-gun-armed version is only very marginally transportable in a C-130.
Mr. Fraering enclosed several links outlining the problems with the Stryker in general and with the MGS variant. I'll work those in below.
My reply: I've wondered about that myself. The GlobalSecurity.org website I linked to does state that the goal is to have a vehicle that weighs no more than 38,000 pounds, enabling them to fly on a C130 [barely], but that as of early 2002 the MGS is about 3000 pounds overweight. They claim to be working on that. I've also read that the Stryker isn't RPG-proof without appliqué armor, as your first link to the Washington Times through Porphyrogenitus maintains. I'm assuming the weight of that appliqué armor isn't included in the vehicle's stated weight, and I wouldn't be surprised if the stated weight is 'dry' -- without fuel or ammo.
On the other hand, it's a bit unfair to complain that the Stryker even with appliqué armor still won't be entirely proof against RPGs, as consultant Victor O'Reilly is quoted in the Washington Times. Even the M1 Abrams is vulnerable to attacks from the top, rear, sides, and belly. Put enough armor on any of these vehicles to make them entirely safe from RPGs and they'd be too heavy to move under their own power. That's why only the front of armored vehicles are typically heavily armored. -- Except for French tanks, I hear they're heavily armored on the *back* ;^)
James Pate makes several good points in his comments to Porphyrogenitus, chief among them whether it is possible to deploy a Stryker brigade in the stated 96-hour timeframe. He doesn't mention this, but the C130 is a short-haul, in-theater cargo craft. Thus, he is quite correct that an around-the-world deployment would require C17s [and C5s]. Could we deploy an entire Stryker-equipped brigade half-way around the world in 96 hours with the fleet of C17s and C5s that we have? I too seriously doubt that. On the other hand, we'd damn sure deploy them a lot faster than we could a regular armored brigade -- that would take *weeks* at best.
As to Mr. Pate's assertion that the MGS Stryker would only be suitable for breaking up bar fights... That 105mm main gun doesn't give up much to the Abrams' 120mm. That would be one hell of a bar fight. Also, is the M113 *really* superior to the Stryker? Well, yeah, it will fit in a C130, but I've never seen one mount the sort of firepower we're talking with a 105mm gun. Would an M113 with this new gun fit in a C130? No, probably not, the M113 will barely fit through the cargo door as is. And the M113 is far from RPG-proof. In fact, the Russian 14.5mm heavy machinegun will make Swiss cheese of a standard M113. So... they've added appliqué armor to the M113 too, making it heavier and slower and etc. All the same complaints you'll hear with the Stryker. Don't get me wrong, I've argued that the military would be money ahead to upgrade and modify the M113 instead of developing the LAV concept -- the M113 is a tough little brute, fast, maneuverable, and easy to maintain -- but dang it, they don't seem to be listening to me.
As for the lack of artillery support for the Stryker brigade, I do note that one of the Stryker variants is a mortar carrier, implying that at least some of these would be deployed. Certainly the 4.2" mortar isn't a long-range gun, but they're not to be discounted either. Also, Porphyrogenitus is certainly correct that a plane can only carry so much ordinance, and probably less than a ground-based artillery unit. However, the plane can fly back to a secure area in the rear for re-supply pretty darn quickly, while the artillery unit is dependent on its combat trains for re-supply. Re-supply of ground units in Iraq was one of our bigger problems...
A big part of the problem here, I think, is in creating unreasonable expectations. This 'deploy a brigade around the world in 96 hours' and 'oh yeah, their armored vehicles must be very fast, completely proof against RPGs, and pack heavy firepower' is a great goal, but darn near impossible to achieve, just like the seeming expectations of the press that we do all this without incurring so much as a hangnail in the process. If I seem a bit overenthusiastic about the Stryker, it's because they appear to be a lot closer to achieving the impossible than we were 25 years ago. [I hope.] Unfortunately, the Stryker appears to be another example of the 'elephant is a mouse designed by a committee' syndrome, just like the Bradley before it. The powers that be have either got to get a bigger plane than the C130 to haul these beasties -- not likely -- or they've got to accept the fact that they can't have every damn thing they want included in the design.
Still, I'll grant you that they've a ways to go and there are serious issues with the Stryker. The problems with defective armor noted in the Seattle Times and MSNBC links you sent do indeed seem damning, and I'd certainly be among the first in line to hang the contractor that provided the faulty armor, as they apparently knew they were delivering a faulty product. But hey, the military quality control caught the faulty armor -- that's got to be a good thing. On the other hand, should the military make public the weaknesses of its equipment, as MSNBC would seem to be arguing? That's just nuts. The 'weak chink in the armor' is proverbial for a reason -- there always will be weak spots. Let the enemy figure out where those are for himself.
Ps. For comparison's sake, here's everything you ever wanted to know about the M113. That first picture is an interesting looking outfit, including the fanciest 'chicken plate' I've ever seen. This link also gives an excellent overview of the whole concept of light armored vehicles, with many examples of their successful deployment. Incidentally, I've never before heard the M113 referred to as the "Gavin".
PPs. Of course, in comparing the pros and cons of the Stryker v. M113, it might help to know something of the capabilities of the C130 Hercules.
In your dreams
Does anyone but me find it amusing that an organization dedicated to "… working to bring progressive Americans together to promote progressive visions for America's future" would be called Common Dreams? I suppose that dreams and visions can be a useful sop for those who have 'issues with reality'.
Monday, November 03, 2003- - -
The Stryker MGS
A few days ago, Cpt. J.M. Heinrichs emailed a copy of this photo of the new Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) firing its 105mm cannon. My first reaction was 'My god, how do they control the recoil?', but on further investigation I don't believe that they have mounted the old M68 main gun on that poor little Stryker (although the Stryker specs put out by General Motors, also forwarded by Cpt. Heinrich, would suggest they have), I believe it's actually an M35 main gun, or its descendent, designed as a low-recoil replacement for the M68, and capable of using the same ammo, always an excellent idea. This photo shows the M35 mounted on an FMC XM8, which I think was just a rather Frankensteined test bed for the autoloading cannon. Yes, indeed. Look closely at the Stryker MGS and you'll notice that there's really no room in that 'turret' for crewmen, they all sit down in the hull. The tiny turret also convinces me that this is not the manually loaded M68 cannon -- where would the loader ride, on the back deck?
This is the supreme advantage of an autoloading cannon: In a hull-down prepared firing position, with nothing exposed except your gun, you make a very small target while commanding major firepower. Even if they do hit the gun, which provides perhaps a 1.5 x 3 foot frontal area, the crew is contained in the hull, which can be separated from the gun by a firewall and made very survivable. This sounded like a great idea back in the early 1980s when the Soviet Union was "The Threat" and our doctrine called for a defense in depth of our friends, the Germans and French.
So... With the Cold War over and no other military force extant that is capable of defending against us, much less over-running us, why now? Why develop a vehicle who's greatest strength is in defense? On the assault, the Stryker's armor is bound to leave something desired compared to either of the US tanks that usually sport the M68 main gun, the M48A5 and M60A1/A3. The Stryker MGS uses the same ammo, so there's no advantage there. So what's with the Stryker MGS?
Well, it appears that we've finally come up with a vehicle that can bear a 105mm gun and fit in a C130! We finally have succeeded in producing the "highly deployable, light-weight vehicle, with high firepower" that the XM8 was supposed to be. That the XM2 -- the Bradley -- was supposed to be. Highly deployable. That's what tanks aren't.
I was puzzled at first by the Stryker MGS for another reason as well: I didn't see what they gain over the same Stryker mounted with an anti-tank missile system. But on reflection, I think the key there is firepower. The MGS can fire 18 rounds, while most missile systems are limited to two or four shots before they must be reloaded. 105mm rounds are also considerably less expensive, and the 105mm gun is relatively versatile, with High Explosive, High Explosive Anti-Tank, Kinetic Energy, and Anti-Personnel rounds commonly carried.
The more I think about it, the more I think that the Stryker MGS will be a great addition to the forces we need most: Highly deployable, fast-moving light strike forces. Now don't get me wrong. I like tanks. I don't think much of the body armor worn by the infantry, it doesn't cover some of my favorite body parts. But deploying a significant force of tanks takes forever. They're just too, too heavy. Our air transport capability for tanks is very limited and our allies have essentially none. And tanks aren't necessary if you're dealing with the sort of ill-equipped and undisciplined forces we've so far encountered in the Middle East. For that, the Stryker MGS should certainly provide the desired 'overmatch'.
Ps. Incidentally, Cpt. Heinrichs also forwarded a pdf of the Objective Force White Paper, which sets out the doctrine for 'conducting military operations in the future'. "Objective Force units … rapidly impose our will on our opponents." They are "… strategically responsive, deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable and sustainable across an entire spectrum of military operations from Major Theater Wars through counter terrorism to Homeland Security."
Interesting that the military reorganization that now quite ably supports President Bush's supposedly imperialist ambitions was set in motion back in 1999, during the Clinton administration.
PPs. Multiple personalities seem to be at work in writing the White Paper. First, we have 'Army Objective Force units will … create synergy. Soldiers and leaders enabled by advanced technologies …" the sort of pointy-haired babble we expect from bureaucrats. Then, barely a paragraph later we have bluntly spoken truths: "At its most fundamental level, war is a brutal contest of wills. Winning decisively means dominating our enemies. Potential opponents must be convinced that we are able to break them physically and psychologically and that we are willing to bear the cost of doing so."
No kiddies, this ain't your local doggie patrol's 'war on drugs'. This is War with a decidedly capital 'W", the real shit. It's not a euphemism for yet another bureaucratic full employment initiative. It's not an abstract debating point for the Deep Space Nine. This is War, with the survival of our society and culture at stake. Thank God our military understands that.
The Queens of Battle
I always wondered about those Infantry guys.
Sunday, November 02, 2003- - -
Well, I guess that settles it
I scored a perfect 0 on ESPN's Are you a metrosexual? quiz.
Newspaper editors, gotta love 'em. Today's Billings Gazette has an interesting article about natural gas production in Wyoming. Yet, I've got to wonder if the guy who wrote the caption for the article actually read the article. The caption: Wyoming's catch-22: Plenty of gasoline, lack of pipelines to move it. Nope, the article doesn't mention gasoline.