Wednesday, April 30, 2008

 

When Galaxies Collide



450 million light years away, in the Hercules Galaxy Cluster, are these colliding galaxies, #272 in Hilton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (NGC 6050). The photo, from the Hubble, spans approximately 150,000 light years. Apparently, collision of galaxies is common, which is strange, as there is so much unused space out there a tyro, like me, would thing collisions would be rare. The big blue things peppered along the arms of the galaxies are globular clusters of stars.

So beautiful.

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This Day in the History of Bleak Days

On this day in 1975, South Vietnam, unable to stop a blitzkrieg like attack from the NVA because the ARVN had run out of war necessaries and had no American air cover due to Democratic legislation, unconditionally surrendered to North Vietnam. Then, as in Cambodia next door, the really bad stuff started.

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Thought of the Day

re ipsa repperi facilitate nihil esse homini melius neque clementia

Terence

I have learned the hard way that nothing avails a man more than courtesy and compassion.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

Good News from Iraq

The Mighty Mahdi Army has vacated Basra and is being rooted out block by block from the sprawling slum called Sadr City in Baghdad by Iraqi troops. Or so say the Strategy Page. Money quote:
The dozen or so factions of the Mahdi Army vary in their loyalty to Sadr, or to political solutions. Several of the Mahdi Army factions are basically criminal gangs masquerading as religious zealots. Sadr denies he is a pawn of Iran, but as Mahdi Army houses are captured, more Iranian weapons and equipment show up, as well as religious propaganda from Iran. Iraqi president Maliki has told Sadr that the offensive would halt if the Mahdi Army surrenders all its weapons, stops attacking, or trying to infiltrate (by joining) the security forces, and hands over members wanted for crimes. So far, Sadr refuses, probably because many of his followers would turn on him if he tried. But Sadr also realizes that the Iraqi soldiers and police are capable, eventually, of grinding the Mahdi Army into nothingness. Another month or so of fighting and the Mahdi Army will be no more.

It doesn't get any better than that.

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What's Wrong With This Picture?


Other than Cate Blanchett looks more severe than good, that is. Well, she's manning, if I can use that word, a Browning machine gun, an M1919A6, to be precise, but it's on a tripod. The A6 was designed to be fired from a bi-pod (visible on the front are the folded down legs of that bi-pod), and it could be picked up with the swing away handle (also visible), but it didn't have the place to link in the pintle of a tripod, or so I've been told. Obviously, the wizards of Spielberg/Lucas got it done.

I think the Summer movies are just going to stink, but I'll go see Indy once more, just for nostalgia.

Below is a photo of the A6 in proper use in Korea.


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You Don't Have to Be a Historian to Be Funny

There's a famous story about the late Molly Ivins who once quipped about a speech by Pat Buchanan at the 1992 Republican Convention that it probably sounded better in the original German. See? German equals Nazis which equals Republicans. HaHaHa. That Republicans have nothing at all to do with Nazis doesn't rob it of the humor. (That it's Pat Buchannan supplies about half, I think).

It's also pretty funny that investigators of the Canadian (and provincial) Human Rights Commissions (CHRC) which have been raping and murdering free speech up north (while persecuting Mark Steyn for quoting Muslims among other outrages) are assuming pseudonyms, signing on to neo Nazi websites and leaving hateful messages. See how terrible the problem is, they then say, look at all this hate speech. It is possible, the investigator admitted under oath, that Canadians who run websites have been prosecuted by the CHRC for having hate speech on their website, because of messages which were left by employees of the CHRC.

It also strikes me as funny what the German word is for Human Rights Commission, Menschenrechtskommission. Well, maybe not funny, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah, obscene. The German populace during the Third Reich, especially the young, loved Hitler. The Wehrmacht (not just the SS) enthusiastically participated in ethnic cleansing/political murder. Most of the populace knew about the work camps, if not the death camps, and were OK with it. The Germans don't get to complain about anyone else's actions (other than murder) until the last German alive in 1933 up and dies.

We on the right haven't the wits to make this stuff up. It takes a different sort of mind set and I'm not talking about Reverend Wright's left brain/right brain bigotry.

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Tow the Global Warming Line..or Else

The annual prediction of what the Hurricane season will be like from CSU Professor Emeritus William Grey up at Colorado State University has been no better than other predictions lately. He and others keep saying it will be bad and it isn't. That's because there is no connection between CO2 atmospheric concentration and the formation of big, destructive storms. Now Grey has become a bit of a global warming skeptic and what happens?


But now the institution in Fort Collins, Colo., where he has worked for nearly half a century, has told Gray it may end its support of his seasonal forecasting.

As he enters his 25th year of predicting hurricane season activity, Colorado State University officials say handling media inquiries related to Gray's forecasting requires too much time and detracts from efforts to promote other professors' work.

But Gray, a highly visible and sometimes acerbic skeptic of climate change, says that's a "flimsy excuse" for the real motivation — a desire to push him aside because of his global warming criticism.

Among other comments, Gray has said global warming scientists are "brainwashing our children."


It's never good science to punish those who stray from the politically correct line.

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This Day in the History of Small Chances of Success Reduced to Zero


On this day in 1862, because the rebel forces defending New Orleans had, days before, completely failed to stop a Union attack by ship, the second largest city in the South and its most important port fell. The North controlled the commercial terminus of the Mississippi river from early on in the war and would control the whole river by July 4, 1863. Really, what was the South thinking? Northern losses under the able Admiral Farragut, were negligible while the South lost nearly a thousand killed or wounded and 6 thousand captured. The North kept the entire U.S. Navy when the South left the union and used it well (except for the one day attack at Hampton Roads by the ironclad CSS Virginia) for the whole of the war.

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Thought of the Day

lupus est homo homini non homo quom qualis sit non novit


Plautus


Man is a wolf to man, not a man, when he does not know what he is like.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

 

Gun of the Quarter

This is the ČZ vz. 52, a Czech gun invented by two brothers, Jan and Jaroslav Kratochvíl, in the early '50s back when the Czech Republic was married to Slovakia and known as Czechoslovakia. It still has a very modern look to it, not quite art deco but hearkening back to it. It is quite powerful for a hand gun, firing an improved version of the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge known as the Czech load (85 grain (5.5 g) full metal jacket bullet fired at 1,640 ft/s (500 m/s), 18% faster than the stated velocity of the common Soviet load). The round it uses, pictured with the gun, is 'necked down,' that is, the diameter of the cartridge actually in contact with the bullet is noticeably smaller than most of the round. Like putting your thumb over the garden hose, necking down improves the speed and power of the bullet it fires. Flat shooting and hard hitting is the Czech load.

And it has a sturdy and famous system of locking the action, also of Czech design. This is the short recoil/roller block system used in the great German machine gun, the MG 42. The idea of all self loading guns is to harness the recoil but keep the top part of the gun (the slide and barrel) locked and closed for the brief time it takes the bullet to travel down the barrel, then, still using the recoil from the cartridge's explosion (and Newton's 3rd law), to open it and have the metal slide, surrounding the barrel, slide back over the barrel, extracting the empty, just fired cartridge, flinging it away and then, hitting the end of the cycle, to return by spring power, scooping up a new unfired round from the removable box cartridge in the handle and putting it in the chamber at the interior end of the barrel. The sliding also re-cocks the hammer which is then released at the will of the shooter (by pulling the trigger) to re-fire the gun. Very clever. The brief delay here is accomplished with the rollers and cam block, visible in the middle of the top assembly. The whole, locked assembly travels back about 4mm when the gun is fired (while the lower section remains relatively still in the shooter's hand) then the cam block (inside the two rollers) hits a stop in the gun, moves forward and releases two rollers into the scooped out sections of the cam block. With the rollers released, the slide moves independently of the barrel and opens up as described above. The use of rollers and cam block creates a very powerful lock and allows the higher pressures of the Czech load. We also know that it cycles quickly, as the MG 42 had a rate of fire of at least 1200 per minute, 20 rounds per second. But that quickness of the mechanism is no big deal with the ČZ vz. 52 because its magazine (aka clip) only carries 8 rounds. As with most European hand guns, you have to release a catch at the bottom of the gun to release the magazine and nearly wrestle it out of the gun with both hands. (Most American hand guns drop the magazine cleanly with the mere depression of a button on the side of the handle).

I bought my gun for just over $100 and replaced the somewhat ugly and beat up original Bakelite grips with some hardwood after market ones which are quite stylish, if I say so myself.

The Czechs made about 200,000 of these and it was carried by the serious warriors of their armed forces for 30 years, until it was replaced in 1982 by the ČZ-75, another good gun.

The handle is slim but deep back to front and doesn't sit right in the normal sized hand. The gun is loud and has an impressive muzzle flash, but is very reliable with good ammunition (I like Sellier & Bellot, a Czech firm). It is a fine gun.

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I'm Being Followed by a Moon Shadow


The ice crystal filled sky over Iceland put on quite a display a few nights ago. Almost all the atmospheric lights are visible (except a rainbow). There are moon dogs on either side of the moon just at the conjunction of a 22 degree halo and a parahelion circle. There is also an upper tangent arc on top of the halo. Less visible to me are a rare circumzenithal arc and an even rarer supralateral arc.

I don't see those last two but experts assure me they are there and here is a different, slightly enhanced photo with them pointed out. What a lovely planet we inhabit.



(h/t Spaceweather and Agust Gudmundsson)

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This Day in the History of Genius Passed On

On this day in 1686, the first volume of Isaac Newton's "Principia Mathamatica" (Mathematical Principles) was published in London. He had invented differential and integral calculus in order to calculate things for fun. (Leibnitz invented it at about the same time and independently).

Below are Newton’s Laws of Motion:

1. Every physical body continues in its state of rest, unless it is compelled to change that state by a force or forces impressed upon it.

2. A change of motion is proportional to the force impressed upon the body and is made in the direction of the straight line in which the force is impressed.

3. To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.

Book Three of the Principia opens with two pages headed “Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy.” There are four rules as follows:

1. We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain the appearances.

2. Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

3. The qualities of bodies which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of bodies whatsoever.

4. In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.

All still good rules for everyday life, especially the last rule.

(h/t Perodotos)

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Thought of the Day

quidquid praecipies esto brevis ut cito dicat percipiant animi dociles teneantque fideles omne supervacuum pleno de pectore manat

Horace

Whatever you teach be brief, since what is quickly said the mind readily receives and faithfully retains, everything superfluous runs over as from a vessel full.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Tragedies Upon Tragedies


In this day in 1865, when the Civil War was just weeks ended, nearly 1600 former union soldiers, many of whom had survived the hell hole of the Andersonville, GA prisoner of war camp and were heading home, were killed when the Mississippi steam paddle ship Sultana developed a major boiler problem and blew up. Only 400 of the 2100 people aboard survived the explosion and fire and then the Mississippi at near flood stage. It happened just north of Memphis in the early morning hours. This remains America's worst maritime disaster

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Thought of the Day

The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why and how it is said.

Vaclav Havel

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Friday, April 25, 2008

 

This Day in the Brief History of Good Relations Between the Soviet Union and America


On this day in 1945, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on a half destroyed bridge over the Elbe River deep in Germany. It was the 69th Division, but I don't know who the Russians were with.

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Thought of the Day

qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum

Vegetius (really)

Let him who wishes for peace prepare for war.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

 

Good News From Iraq


The red headed step child of Iraqi war crimes, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has been captured by Iraqi security forces and is now being detained by American troops. A fate similar to Saddam's awaits him.

Note the Brit type salute in the photo. History leaks out in every little detail.

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This Day in the History of Withdrawel Too Early

On this day in 1877, the last Federal troops on duty in the recently conquered Rebel States moved out of New Orleans, ending the North's 12 year military occupation of the South following the Civil War. Almost immediately, white Democrats began taking away from the black freemen the rights the Republicans and Northern troops had fought so hard to bestow. Troops from the North should have enforced the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments in the South until after WWI at least

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Thought of the Day

When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.

R. H. Grant

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

 

Paul Campos Slanders Our Warriors

Rapidly becoming our least favorite property law professor, Paul Campos, has a sniveling column in today's Rocky Mountain News. I have to take my blood pressure medicine having read it. Now calm, I'll comment on some of its worst lapses in judgment. First the set-up (one of my favorite stories from the Iraq war):


"Katie Couric, while interviewing a Marine sniper, asked 'What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?' The Marine shrugged and replied, 'Recoil.' "

The point is that the liberal, America-hating mainstream media, represented by a
stereotypically feminine woman, fail to grasp that manful and masculine warriors
performing manly deeds have no time for sentimental hippie nonsense about peace
and love.

Note that, if the story were both true and an accurate report of the Marine's mental state, he would be a sociopath.

No, he wouldn't. He would be a warrior who has had to disconnect from his emotions to do his job, as a sniper, which requires calm and precise actions to kill an enemy you can see close up through a telescopic sight. Tough work. Not everyone can do it. But people who defend us by killing our enemies are not sociopaths. Shame on Campos for the cheap name calling. It gets worse.

Most soldiers don't become sociopaths, of course. Still, war creates moral monsters just as surely as it generates profits for "defense" contractors, and provides endless material for books, movies and television shows.

Oh, much better! After confirming that some soldiers are turned into sociopaths by service for our country, he then goes on to insult even more by calling them moral monsters. I'll get to that in a second. Then he talks about things that war accomplishes. They are: 1) Profits for 'defense' contractors (I guess the challenge quotes around defense is because he doubts our armed forces actually defend us); and, 2) Materiel for entertainment.

Is that a complete list? How about war produces liberation from slavery and tyranny? How about war saving lives and stopping suffering? How about war reveals in some of our soldiers the ultimate in Christian charity, that they would lay down their life for other soldiers and even for strangers? Any possibility of actual good coming from war? Freedom? Honor? Sacrifice? Not in Paul Campos' dark, personal universe. I genuinely feel sorry for him. But it gets worse.

He finally gets around to the tenuous point of his revealing article:


Consider this quote from a speech McCain gave in 2002: "Theodore Roosevelt is one of my greatest political heroes. The 'strenuous life' was T.R.'s definition of Americanism, a celebration of America's pioneer ethos, the virtues that had won the West and inspired our belief in ourselves as the New Jerusalem, bound by sacred duty to suffer hardship and risk danger to protect the values of our civilization and impart them to humanity. 'We cannot sit huddled within our borders,' he warned, 'and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond.' "

Those are the words of a man who sees war as a noble enterprise: one that builds our collective character, protects us from the moral dangers of an easy life, and gives us a chance to impart our values to the rest of the world. There can be no better reason to vote against him.


Of course if you generally hate this country and don't think that the values of our civilization are worth protecting or that the rest of the world would improve with adoption of at least some of them, then of course Teddy Roosevelt's vision is dangerous. However, if you love your country and think we get a lot of things right and we should continue our republic and the world would do well to study and adopt the many things we get right, then there is no better choice for commander in chief than a Viet Nam warrior, 26 missions over North Viet Nam and 5 years of a very harsh captivity.

Campos doesn't mention any military service in his CV and, despite his apparent age in the RMN photo, he was much too young for Viet Nam. Yet he calls some of the members of our armed forces "moral monsters." Is there any real difference in that and 'baby killer' other than specificity of the morally monstrous act? What is it about the less than clear thinking left that they resort to slander against members of our armed forces? They did it during the Viet Nam war and the tradition continues, in print, unapologetic by a 'thinker' who wouldn't know immoral if it cut his head off. Local real blogger Jeff Goldstein takes Campos apart figuratively for his previous determined anti-American position on Iraq. It's not just I who finds his logic lacking.

Don't get me wrong; there are bad warlike actions: Hitler's invasion of Poland, France, the Soviet Union, etc.; Japan's invasion of China, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, etc.; North Korea's invasion of South Korea; and, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. It was not a bad warlike action to oppose Hitler, Imperial Japan, North Korea or Saddam Hussein. Indeed, our specific reaction to these bad actions was good. Paul Campos must not realize that. It apparently takes a great deal of education to make someone that stupid.

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This Day in the History of Small Comfort Very Late


On this day in 1945, 500 women from the Ravensbrück Womens Concentration Camp north of Berlin were transferred by the Swiss Red Cross to Switzerland. Soviet forces arrived at the camp a week later. Ravensbrück was the largest concentration camp in the Reich built solely to house women. It was a work camp, not a death camp, but nearly 40,000 died there, some from being overworked while being underfed, and some from the horrible medical experiments there starting in 1944.


Although not well publicized, the pretty, or at least the young, women in the camp were sent to about 10 nearby camps to provide 'sexual comfort' to male prisoners who had somehow earned the privilege. No one was ever prosecuted for these crimes. Perhaps 160,000 women passed through the camp between May, 1939 and liberation. Sweden's somewhat more generous Red Cross managed to get 7,000 women transferred to better conditions in Sweden, but only in the last full month of the war in Europe.

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Nice Thought of the Day

hoc erat in votis modus agri non ita magnus hortus ubi et tectu vicinus jugis aquae fons et paulum silvae super his foret

Horace

This was in my prayers--a piece of land not too large, with a garden, and a spring that never went dry near my house and a small wood in front.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Earth Days

On this day in 1970, hundreds of thousands of Americans concerned about the environment observed the first "Earth Day." I gave a regrettable speech at my High School the next Earth Day, where I advocated having only two children. To paraphrase the President, when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid. Now I wish more good, successful people had big families and irresponsible losers had none. Population growth is not the enemy. We have the cleverness to solve almost all our problems but not always the moxie; and more often we lack inspired political leadership to organize our cleverness into realistic solutions. Sometimes we lack the wisdom to foresee the unintended consequences so that too often our solutions are worse than the problem they were intended to solve.

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Thought of the Day

facilius est multa facere quam diu


Quintilianus


It is easier to do many things than one for a long time.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

 

Congratulations Deserved

Danica Patrick is a very pretty woman in a formerly male only sport--IndyCar racing. Now she is the first woman to win one--the 300 mile race in Japan at Montegi. Well done, Danica. She marshaled her fuel better than some of the leaders, who had to head to the pits in the last lap. She won by about 5 seconds. Seriously good job.

It must be tough to be so good looking and also so accomplished. I know I've been haunted by it all my life.

There's another less proper photo of Danica here. I think it would spoil the moment to show it here.

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The Green Flash Phenomenon


Nearly all my life, I've heard of the Green Flash. Just as the sun sets over a broad expanse of water, so the story goes, the sky will flash over green. I've never seen it. Here is what's reported to be a photo of it from California near La Jolla two years ago. The ocean heats up, on the surface, and creates an inversion layer which acts as a lens and screens out all the other colors (somehow) just as the last of the sun is obscured by the horizon. I hope I live long enough to see it once.

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Half the World is Warming

Because it's Spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, it's Fall and it's getting colder. The sea ice in the North has probably peaked and is down from the 21 year normal by half a million square kilometers. Most of the anomaly is from two places--Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. In the South, the sea ice around Antarctica is more than a million and a half square kilometers above the 21 year normal. Therefore world sea ice is a million square Km above normal. The flux density from the sun is low, 71, and the sun is spotless and still hasn't had a normal second new cycle sunspot since January 4, 2008. The four different measurements of global temperature are rebounding from the year long full degree slide.

I'm speculating that there is a recently active volcano under the ice near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula which accounts for the recent melting only there in Antarctica. Is there any way to tell? It is difficult otherwise to account for the record sea ice (which would mean colder than normal temperatures) and single source of ice shelf collapses (which would require warmer than normal temperatures).

Huge, decade long drought continues in Australia, Spring flooding in America's upper south.

In other words, another normal Spring/Autumn here on our beautiful planet.

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This Day in the History of Heroic Flier's Deaths


On this day in 1918, Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen, the German ace known as the "Red Baron," was killed in action during World War I. He shot down 80 Allied planes. That confirmed number is probably lower than the real number. There still is controversy whether it was ground fire or the machine gun fire from a Canadian pilot, Roy Brown, that got him. I think ground fire. What I really want to know is where was Richtofen's wingman, Hermann Göring?
Many historians put the death to target fixation by Richtofen. Could have been. It was a single .303 in under the arm and out through the chest which quickly killed him. He was still able to land his plane before he died.

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Thought of the Day

Vix ulla tam iniqua pax, quin bello vel aequissimo sit potior

Erasmus

Scarcely is there any peace so unjust that it is better than even the fairest war.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

 

How al Sadr Lost in Basra

You can believe the New York Times or you can believe Time magazine, but you can't believe both of them. As horrible as the NYT has become under the leadership of Pinch, Time continues to come in second, and a stupid and shallow second at that.

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60 Minute Spin

I interrupted review of John Adams to watch the Afghanistan story on 60 Minutes. I liked most of it. There are true heroes on our very thin blue lines and that 15 minutes told the story of a few of them, two of whom didn't make it back. But what was the point of the story? Was it to show how heroic and competent our guys are? I fear not. But first some recent history.

Despite the naysayers prominent on the left and in the press (but I repeat myself) we, that is, our side, mainly the CIA and the very POed Northern Alliance, and then the 82nd and other regular Army units, with superb close air support, kicked the snot out of the dreaded Taliban and its al Qaeda, behind-the-scene-guys and the survivors all retreated in disorder to Pakistan, where they regrouped, fended off less than completely determined Pakistan assaults on their 'tribal area' sanctuaries and now, battle hardened, they are returning to Afghanistan, as the weather permits, aiming to do some mischief. Americans have primary military control over the northern part of Afghanistan and our NATO allies, including a lot of American warriors, have the south. Only the English speaking ones are actually fighting, that is, the Americans, the Brits, the Australians and the Canadians, about whom I make fun a lot for having so small an armed forces but who are fighting hard and dealing death to some of the worst people on Earth (my apologies to Keith Olbermann, who wouldn't know real evil even if it cut off his head). Of course the Taliban is better now, we and our allies have killed or captured all the ones who weren't good at it, and we've killed a lot of their good leaders, which is why they did very little last Spring and won't do much, but die in droves, this Spring too.

The South African 60 Minutes correspondent, Lara Logan, who was leading the testimony of our soldiers, seemed non plussed that there was any Taliban activity much less determined Taliban activity that could pin down and threaten to overwhelm American forces (all 17 of them). Of course, we took just two dead and the Taliban took 120 dead. But to CBS, this two year old battle is "a wake-up call about the growing strength of the enemy in Afghanistan." To paraphrase Bill Paxton, as Hicks [no, Hudson], to his fellow space Marines after the first disaster in Aliens, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, Lara, but we just kicked the Taliban's ass (again, again, again and again). If we could go into Pakistan or if the Pakistanis were serious about booting the Taliban out of their country, we could repeat the overwhelming success of Winter, 2001-02 and the Taliban would be even more reduced. But we can't and the Pakistanis won't; and that has nothing to do with any implied failure on the part of American forces or on the part of many of our NATO allies. There is no such failure in Afghanistan.

The ending was a cheap shot too-- "Two years after the battle, the village where the fighting took place - and much of southern Afghanistan - remain under Taliban influence." (Emphasis added). Influence, not control. Oh heavens! Yeah, the Taliban is able to return to the country of most of its fighters origin but when they come out in the open, we, that is, the English speaking soldiers, continue to kick the snot out of them. Let's see whose soldiers give up first. Notice I said soldiers. I have no confidence in many of our political leaders' ability to realize we have a long hard slog ahead of us, a fight for generations to come, perhaps never ending.

Not of our making.

Bring all you've got. We'll eventually wake up and do to them what we did to the actually hard to beat Nazis and Imperial Japanese 63 years ago.

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More Insurgent Deaths, Apache 30mm and UAV Airstrikes

Iraq snuff films or, as the Jawa Report calls it, War Porn. What is that music?


 

Thought of the Day

de alieno largitor et sui restrictor

Cicero

Lavish with what is another's and restrained with what is his.

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This Day in the History of Local Evil


On this day in 1999, Hitler's birthday, high school anarchists Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 classmates and one teacher, wounded another 23, some very seriously, before taking their own lives at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The response of the police, hamstrung with indecisive leadership, was less than impressive.
Conspicuous in dark shirted Klebold's hand is the execrable Intratec Tec-9 pistol in 9mm. More difficult to see is the Hi-Point 995 carbine, also in 9mm, at Harris' side. Both also carried sawed off shotguns, Harris a pump action Savage-Springfield 67H and Kelbold a Stevens 311D double barrell, both in 12 gauge. Harris shot himself in the mouth with the shotgun. Klebold shot himself in the temple with the Tec-9. I have to admit that I like it when the killers self execute shortly after their crimes. They at least know they deserve the death penalty.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

 

This Day in the History of American Massacres


On this day in 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound at Mount Carmel near Waco, Texas, ended when fire destroyed the compound and killed nearly everyone inside. I am not convinced by the films on the subject which state that agents of the United States set the fire, but certainly we didn't have to push the poor, deluded, messianic David Koresh to self immolation. The people in the compound were surrounded and weren't going anywhere; and what Attorney General Janet Reno said was what caused her to order the assault, that children were being abused, is at best her delusion (she had a history of seeing child abuse where there was none) and more likely another bald lie from the Clinton administration. Sad day all around.

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Thought of the Day

quod petiit spernit repetit quod nuper omisit

Horace

What he sought he spurns; he re-seeks what he just threw away.

DSM-IVR would have this guy's number.

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Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather

I remember watching this in a very small theater and when the Nicholas Brothers did the flying splits over each other on the oversized stairs, every man in the room groaned each time they landed. Now I'm impressed that they can rise up nearly as easily as they go down into the splits.

Just incredible.


Friday, April 18, 2008

 

This Day in American History

On this day in 1775, in the early morning, American patriot and silversmith Paul Revere began his famed, but rather brief, ride through Massachusetts immediately around Boston, crying out "The British are coming," before he was arrested. He and his fellow riders, both known and unknown to history, did so in order to rally the Militia, which then, nearly as now, was all the able bodied men who had weapons. Revere and William Dawes made it just to Lexington but another patriot, Samuel Prescott, made it all the way to Concord, and warned the Americans that the British were coming for their guns. The Americans didn't let them.

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Thought of the Day

quodcunque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi

Horace

Thus whatever you boastfully show me, I, incredulous, hate.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

 

Katrina vanden Awful's Eating Habits


There are a lot of vocal lefties out there outraged that the 'hosts' of the recent Clinton/Obama debate, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, would actually ask Hillary and Barak the sort of questions they ask the Republicans all the time.
Boo-freakin'-hoo is my first reaction (channeling Michelle Malkin), followed by "welcome to the party, pal." But what really caught my eye was this from the real bitter American (self confessed), a big wig at The Nation magazine, Katrina vanden Heuvel, who said:


But tonight it's not those sports metaphors that have me throwing my Subway sandwich at the TV. It's the relentless stream of "gotcha" questions that ABC's top news commentators pose that have me angry, frustrated and, yes, bitter.


She's eating Subway sandwiches? Man, things must be getting thin over at The Nation.

Maureen Dowd is so bitter that the lemons in the World worship her as their Queen, but vanden Awful has achieved at least the rank of Baroness in that kingdom.

If you click on the photo of Dowd, it gets a lot bigger; but if you like her, I urge you not to shatter the mask.

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Appreciation for the First Amendment


It always chaps my hide when whiny types complain about so called violations of their First Amendment right to free speech when all that's happening is other citizens are exercising their right to free speech and criticizing the whiny type for the stupid and/or unpatriotic thing he or she just said. All the First Amendment does is make it nearly impossible for the government to prosecute you for mere opinion or true, non-threatening words. Apparently we are the only nation on Earth to offer its citizens such protection from the wrath of the government (think a great conglomeration of whiny types or enablers of whiny types) for mere voiced thoughts of the citizens.


Look just outside the United States. Until recently the great Mark Steyn was being prosecuted by a Canadian star chamber like provincial Human Rights Commission in Ontario (et al.) for true, non-threatening opinion, oh, and for quoting Muslims saying stupid things. The publisher of McCleans faces the same 'charges' for publishing some of the Muslim quotes, et al. Oh, and the tribunals have a 100% conviction rate (the one in Ontario even convicts Steyn and the publisher as it drops the charges.) It is The Trial on stilts and steroids.

Or look to France, where former sex symbol, now 73, Brigitte Bardot faces charges, yet again, for having a negative, but non-threatening, opinion about Muslims in France. I'm going to include before and after photos of Bardot for two reasons: I'm old enough to have really liked her in her prime; and, to illustrate what James Brown said about age taking you on. Sic transit gloria mundi.

But what horrible thing did Ms. Bardot, friend of animals, say? She said the Muslim community was "destroying our country and imposing its acts." Ohhh. So hateful. What chapped her hide was the Eid celebration and the public slaughter of sheep and goats. It is a disturbing custom. But I don't want to face prosecution in a foreign country for the 'crime' of telling the truth about various subsets of the Muslim faith, so I'm going to be silent about any Muslim in the future.
Just kidding. I'm an American, thank God, and I can say pretty much what I want.

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This Day in the History of Humiliating Treaties

On this day in 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki ended the Sino-Japanese War, which had gone badly for the Chinese. Korea went from the frying pan of Chinese occupation to the fire of Japanese occupation; Japan received outright several naval ports; and, five main trading ports in China were opened for favorable treatment to the Japanese. Japan was growing in power and Russia and then the whole Western Pacific Rim were next in line for military expansion. Of course it would all end in tears for the Japanese 50 years later.

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Thought of the Day

potestatem obscuri lateris nescis

George Lucas

You don't know the power of the dark side.

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Licensed Fools

Part of the many layers of meaning in King Lear revolves around 'fools.' There are real fools, floridly psychotic Tom and, for a time, Lear who is also a fool, as we use that word, to leave property to his daughters before his death, and then there is the character of the Fool, with his many layers of meaning. Part of the interest we modern readers of the play have is related to the concept of the 'licensed fool,' the person who is given leave to speak the truth about anyone. We have licensed fools today, however, they generally only have the license for a short or at least well circumscribed time. Stand up comedians are a sort of licensed fool. Leno, Kimmel, Letterman, O'Brien, etc. are licensed fools for a period of their shows (not while talking to another human directly). Last night, at the radio and television correspondents dinner in Washington the TV personality, sans resume, Mo Rocca was the licensed fool able to criticize any and all. He was not without insight, but his time on the stage was pretty much free of anything approaching humor. Vice President Cheney was a lot funnier, which I think is kind of a supreme criticism for a comic.

UPDATE: And funnier still was Mitt Romney, although I didn't see him on C-SPAN II last night. Or so reports Michelle Malkin.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

 

The Power of Inference

There are a few men out there who have never had the misfortune of watching competitive ice skating. This first part is for them. There is a move all skaters do during a spin. They bring their arms in close to their bodies and lo! and behold, the rate of spin increases. There is an explanation in physics having to do with angular momentum and center of mass, and a formula here. Perhaps that formula doesn't completely explain it. It's true though. I don't skate much but I did a similar thing once in a science museum in Munich on a rotating chair with 2 Kg dumbbells in each hand. In fact, the rate of spin increased so much as I pulled my arms in that I almost was thrown from the chair. When I put the weights back out, the rate of spin immediately slowed. Kinda cool.

So, is the Earth doing the same thing? That is, has it moved its 'arms' in or out? Has it increased its mass at the equator or at the poles? The rise in the ocean level near the equator caused by global warming climate change would increase the mass at the edge of the rotation, thus slowing down the rate of rotation (like putting the arms out). A growing of the ice caps in Antarctica and in Greenland would increase the mass of the Earth closer to the axis of rotation (like putting the arms in) thus speeding up the rate of rotation of the planet. Has the rate of rotation sped up or slowed in the past few decades?

It turns out we can tell. There are scientists who are keenly interested in how fast the Earth rotates and we have the reliable timing instruments to know exactly how fast it's spinning which they measure each year) and thus know whether it's speeding up or slowing down. (The Earth would always be slowing down gradually just due to entropy, wouldn't it?)

And here is answer to the question. Money quote:

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) provides very precise data that can answer this question. The IERS calculates leap seconds. Just like leap years add days to keep our calendar in sync with the actual amount of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun, leap seconds are used to keep highly accurate atomic clocks in sync with clocks based on the Earth’s rotation. The Earth’s rotation has slowed down. To keep the clocks in sync leap seconds will have to be added at a constant rate. If the Earth’s rotation continues to slow down leap seconds will need to be added at an increasing rate.

The IERS determines the rotation of the Earth. Data only exists from 1972 to the present. From 1972 thru 1998 (26 years) 21 leap seconds were added. From 1999 to the present (9 years) only 1 leap second has been added. This means since 1999 to the present the Earth’s rate of rotation has increased.

There may be other things causing this (unknown changes in geological features; forces we don't recognize or understand; General Zod, etc.). However, the immediate conclusion is that the ice caps are growing, not the depth of the tropical oceans. This conclusion matches the RSS decline in mean global temperature since the second place high* in 1998 very well. I'm buying it, even though the time scale is so minute as to make it unreliable to ascribe greater meaning thereto.

(h/t Icecap)

*The warmer decade according to the corrected but unheralded GISS was in the 1930s.

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This Day in the History of Final Days


On this day in 1945, the Red Army began the Battle of Berlin. The photo shows how it ended.
There is a museum on the top of the Reichstag now with another photo of its capture. In it all of the Soviet soldiers carry full auto weapons, PPS-43s and PPSh-41s, but they all also carry German handguns. Not a ringing endorsement of the Tokarov TT-30 in my book.

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Thought of the Day

pede poena claudo

Horace

Punishment comes limping.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Success at First

On this day in 1918, German forces, under Erich von Ludendorff, forced the British off Passchendaele Ridge, an area the Brits had captured in November, 1917 at the mere cost of half a million killed or badly wounded (on both sides). In addition to Passchendaele Ridge, the Germans gained control of Messines Ridge, the scene of another, at the time important, Allied victory in June, 1917, which only cost 300,000 casualties, give or take.

It's impossible to be too cynical regarding how WWI was fought.

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Thought of the Day

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

Benjamin Disraeli

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Monday, April 14, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Doing the Right Thing

On this day in 1775, the first American abolition society, the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, was founded in Philadelphia, organized by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush. The acronym was an unfortunate SRFNUHB. 90 years later, after a horrendous civil war, all the slaves in America were freed. More and more difficult to maintain the belief that many of the founding fathers were racists.

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Thought of the Day

Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.


The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus--the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.



Helen Keller

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Less Than Brilliant British Moves

On this day in 1775, Lord Fredrick North extended the New England Restraining Act to South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. The Act prohibited the American colonies from trade with any country other than Great Britain and Ireland.

What a good idea!

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Thought of the Day

A friend in need's a friend indeed,
A friend with weed is better,
A friend with breasts and all the rest,
A friend who’s dressed in leather,

A friend in need's a friend indeed,
A friend who’ll tease is better...

Placebo in Pure Morning

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Presidents Dying in Office


On this day in 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in the company of his former mistress, Lucy Mercer, in Warm Springs, GA, of a brain hemorrhage; and Vice President Harry S Truman became the wartime leader of the United States of America. The portrait here was being painted when he said he had a bad headache and retired to his deathbed. At least he was merely in the company of the mistress rather than going out the way Vice President Nelson Rockefeller did.

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Thought of the Day

latet anguis in herba

Vergil

A snake lies in the grass.

One modern permutation is from W.C. Fields (perhaps in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man), "an Ethiopian in the fuel supply." Uh ho, I've touched the racist tar baby again. Oh no, and again. Signing off now.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

 

Perpetual Motion

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Let's Surge Some More ! Michael Yon

WSJ

April 11, 2008;

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about "GoArmy.com."
As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda's brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.
Iraqis came to respect American soldiers as warriors who would protect them from terror gangs. But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic, school or a neighborhood. They learned that the American soldier is not only the most dangerous enemy in the world, but one of the best friends a neighborhood can have.
Some people charge that we have merely "rented" the Sunni tribesmen, the former insurgents who now fight by our side. This implies that because we pay these people, their loyalty must be for sale to the highest bidder. But as Gen. Petraeus demonstrated in Nineveh province in 2003 to 2004, many of the Iraqis who filled the ranks of the Sunni insurgency from 2003 into 2007 could have been working with us all along, had we treated them intelligently and respectfully. In Nineveh in 2003, under then Maj. Gen. Petraeus's leadership, these men – many of them veterans of the Iraqi army – played a crucial role in restoring civil order. Yet due to excessive de-Baathification and the administration's attempt to marginalize powerful tribal sheiks in Anbar and other provinces – including men even Saddam dared not ignore – we transformed potential partners into dreaded enemies in less than a year.
Then al Qaeda in Iraq, which helped fund and tried to control the Sunni insurgency for its own ends, raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods. By outraging the tribes, it gave birth to the Sunni "awakening." We – and Iraq – got a second chance. Powerful tribes in Anbar province cooperate with us now because they came to see al Qaeda for what it is – and to see Americans for what we truly are.
Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier's money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are "rented" is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington's men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.
Equally misguided were some senators' attempts to use Gen. Petraeus's statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers' achievements as "merely" military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni "awakening" was not primarily a military event any more than it was "bribery." It was a political event with enormous military benefits.
The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big "kinetic" military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.
The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.
This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.
We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can't do it from inside a jet or a tank.
Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory – and a democracy in the Arab world – is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.

 

A Different View of the Recent Fighting in Basra and Baghdad

Amir Tehari has a very interesting piece in the New York Post today. Money quote:


Initially, Quds commanders appeared to have won their bet. Their Special Groups and Mahdi Army allies easily seized control of key areas of Basra when more than 500 Iraqi security personnel abandoned their positions and disappearedinto the woodwork.

Soon, however, the tide turned. Maliki proved that he had the courage to lead the new Iraqi Security Force (ISF) into battle, even if that meant confronting Iran. The ISF showed that it had the capacity and the will to fight.

Only a year ago, the ISF had been unable to provide three brigades (some 9,000 men) to help the US-led "surge" restore security in Baghdad. This time, the ISF had no difficulty deploying 15 brigades (30,000 men) for the battle of Basra.

Read the whole thing.

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Democratic Backstabbing

In several posts over the years I have restated the fact that we had by 1973 won the Viet Nam War, in that we had achieved complete Vietnamization of ground forces and they were capable, with our resupply and air cover, of standing up to a determined NVA invasion. Then in 1974 and 1975 the Democrats in Congress passed laws which prevented our resupply of nearly any war material and then prevented our ability to provide the ARVN with air cover. In 1975, a probe by the NVA became a major invasion due to the lack of effective response by our warplanes and by the ARVN who ran out of everything. We (that is, the Democrats) abandoned our former ally against the spread of communism and stabbed them in the back.

I think that my repetitions of this has been rejected by those on the left side of the political aisle who somehow dicided that the war in Viet Nam could not have been won. (They generally think the same about Iraq).

I assure them, however, that the lesson was not lost on our enemies and on most of our potential allies in the war against extreme Islamists. Here is but a tiny bit of proof:


Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, added: “I advise all those who place their trust in the Americans to learn the lesson of Vietnam ...and to know that when the Americans lose this war --and lose it they will, Allah willing -- they will abandon them to their fate, just like they did to all those who placed their trust in them throughout history."


The Democrats in Congress have been trying to embrace defeat and to stab in the back the guys we asked to stand up to Islamist extremism in Iraq and to abandon our former allies yet again. We must not do that! Ever again. More reason this presidential election is so important.

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This Day in the History of Evil Being Destroyed



On this day in 1945, American soldiers of the 6th Armored and 83rd Infantry Divisions liberated the minor Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. They put the piles of dead and the walking skeleton survivors on film.
Although Buchenwald was not an extermination camp but a work camp, of the quarter million prisoners it held between 1937 and liberation, nearly 60,000 died. Such were the conditions.
We turned the camp over to the Soviets who for a time used it to house Nazi war criminals but then turned it for a short while into one camp in what Solzhenitsyn called the Gulag Archipelago. It was largely demolished except for a few buildings in 1950-51.


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Thought of the Day

manus manum lavat

Petronius

One hand washes the other.

Of course, I have to ask, is there any other way to do it?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

 

Yeah, Dan Rather is the Victim!

As most judges are wont to do, the New York judge hearing Dan Rather's ill conceived lawsuit against his former bosses (for their rather lenient reaction to his putting patently phony documents on the air of 60 Minutes II) cut the Plaintiff's claims drastically. The lawsuit can limp on, however. That's OK with us mere observers. We just want to see the depositions of Rather and Mapes in the matter.

I don't have the money, but if I did, I would offer $50,000 to anyone who could reproduce (the way Charles Johnson was able to exactly reproduce them on Microsoft Word in 2004) any of the phony documents on any typewriter extant in August, 1973 within 20 minutes. The money, if I had it, would be safe from a successful claim.

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Local Good News

I have a peripheral connection to the ICE agent Cory Voorhis case. I met Cory at a gun show recently and gave him some money for his defense fund. I go hunting with his boss. I'm friends with the guv'ner, the supposed victim of Cory's non-criminal use of the NCIC here, and I know Bob Beauprez slightly, having met him at Republican Heaven, about whose unsuccessful campaign the fuss was all about.

So, I was delighted that Mr. Voorhis was acquitted of all charges yesterday after an eight day federal prosecution in front of Judge Kane. People with knowledge say he's a good agent who got a raw deal. Justice, to the extent it can be done, was done. No prosecution should have ever been brought. Hard to believe I agree with the ever less articulate Peter Boyles on this matter.

Unless Beauprez picks up the entire defense counsel fee and costs, looks like I'll be making another contribution. The two or three libertarians who read this site should consider doing the same.

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Death From Above


A Voight F4U Corsair fires several 'mighty mouse' 2.75" rockets at Japanese fortifications. The Corsair was perhaps our finest prop driven plane, and what a prop! The propeller was so big they had to angle the wings down for a few feet in order for it to clear the ground on take off and landing. Thus the gull wing look of the Corsair. It could go much faster than 400 mph and in fact was so fast one of them shot down a MiG jet during the Korean Conflict.
The photo is undated but was taken sometime during the very hard battle for Okinawa, March 18, 1945 to June 23, 1945. Casualties were horrendous, but we were clearly winning the war. Hmmm? That would be a baffling concept to many liberals in this country today.

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Al Sistani Responds

It was reported earlier this week that Shi'ite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he would disband the Mighty Mahdi Army if Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other clerics in Iran told him to. Then it was reported that he never said that. Then it was reported that the answer was don't disband the band. Despite the apparent contradiction inherent in those two subsequent report, it now appears that Muqtada al-Sadr did indeed consult Ali al-Sistani and here is the Grand Ayatollah's responses:


Al-Sistani has a clear opinion in this regard; the law is the only authority in the country. The top Shiite cleric had not been consulted in establishing al-Mahdi army, so it could not interfere in dissolving it. Whosoever established the al-Mahdi army has to dissolve it. Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr established this army and it is only him who has to dissolve it. Al-Sistani asked al-Mahdi army to give in weapons to the government.

Not the model of clarity, due no doubt to translation limitations, but I do like that last part. OK, you can keep the band together if you want but you have to give Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki all your weapons. We can all live with that.

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This Day in the History of Finding a Better General


On this day in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson replaced General Westmoreland with General Creighton Abrams as the general in charge in Vietnam. Abrams changed some tactics and did good; and we were able in early 1972 to remove all our troops who actually fought without the ARVN collapsing. The Democrats in Congress had to pass laws designed to disarm the ARVN in order to make it lose to an NVA blitzkrieg three years after that.

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Thought of the Day

una hirundo non facit ver

Horace

One swallow does not make it Summer.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

 

Report on the American War Dead in Afghanistan and Iraq

For March, as announced by the Department of Defense, 39 service members died--33 from service in Iraq (nearly the same as last month) and 6 from service in Afghanistan (that's up).

Here's a further breakdown: In Iraq, 16 were killed by IEDs. That's nearly the same as last month. Only two were killed by small arms; three were killed in accidents; only one from non-combat causes; five from a suicide bomber on foot; and, five from indirect fire. No marines died in combat operations in al Anbar. That's good. One soldier died but there was no further information.

In Afghanistan, four were killed by IEDs and two in combat operations without further detail. That's five more than the single IED caused death last month. Because of the paucity of firefight deaths, I'd say the (slightly) Dreaded Spring Taliban Offensive is yet to arrive.

Our hopes and prayers go out for all our brave warriors.

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Skeptics Unite!

You have nothing to lose but our ill deserved anxiety. Here is a one two punch against the scam of the new century, anthropogenic global warming. The work of the scientists mentioned in the links does not represent yet a death knell to the climate change crisis, but huge cracks are visibly growing in what Peter Gabriel calls the Grand Façade.

Here is the first article's money quote:

...You may have heard that the IPCC models cannot predict clouds and rain with any accuracy. Their models assume water vapour goes up to the troposphere and hangs around to cook us all in a greenhouse future.

However, there is a mechanism at work that "washes out" the water vapour and returns it to the oceans along with the extra CO2 and thus turns the added water vapour into a NEGATIVE feedback mechanism.

The newly discovered mechanism is a combination of clouds and rain (Spencer's mechanism adds to the mechanism earlier identified by Professor Richard Lindzen called the Iris effect).

The IPCC models assumed water vapour formed clouds at high altitudes that lead to further warming. The Aqua satellite observations and Spencer's analysis show water vapour actually forms clouds at low altitudes that lead to cooling.

Furthermore, Spencer shows the extra rain that falls from these clouds cools the underlying oceans, providing a second negative feedback to negate the CO2 warming.

The second is in pdf form and I can't do anything but link to it. Thanks, Doug. I really like the pie chart of green house gasses and how tiny is our collective contribution.

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This Day in the History of Liberation of Nations From Tyrants


On this day in 2003, American Marines pulled down a big Saddam Hussein statue in Fardus Square, Baghdad, symbolizing the reality of his overthrow and the liberation of the Iraqi people from a very cruel despot. Great moment in history.
He still looks like Craig Silverman to me.

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Thought of the Day

spemque metumque inter dubiis

Vergil


Hover between hope and fear.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Pathetic Failures


On this day in 1946, the League of Nations met for the last time, in order officially to dissolve. The League was created after WWI in order to resolve disputes between nations so that war would not be necessary. It failed to stop Italy's invasions of Albania and Ethiopia. It failed to stop Japan's invasion of China. It failed to stop Hitler's bloodless occupations of Austria and Czechoslovakia and then invasion of Poland and later France. It just plain old failed to stop the resumption of WWI on a far wider scale.
Regarding the nearly as pathetic United Nations, following the next big war, they too will disband. Too bad we'll have to wait that long.

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Who Won the Fighting in Basra and Baghdad?


There were reports from the usual suspects that the Mighty Mahdi Army of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had fought the Iraqi forces to a draw in Basra and had defied the demand from Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki that they put down their weapons. Time reported that the Mahdi Army won in Basra. That Moqtada al-Sadr then asked for a ceasefire tended to undercut that talking point. Austin Bay and Bill Roggio think al Sadr was losing. Now we hear this-- al-Sadr will disband the Mahdi Army if Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other clerics in Iran tell him to. He's willing to order his fighters to put down their weapons and break up the band if told? Doesn't sound like he had the winning boy's mojo to me.

The masked gunmen in the photo are carrying Kalashnikov RPK light machine guns, a little more hard hitting than the plain old AKM 74s everyone else is using.



UPDATE: Allahpundit at Hot Air is reporting (and urging skepticism of the report) that al-Sadr was told, by the clerics he asked, not to disband his militia. I hope that's wrong.

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Thought of the Day

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.



Winston Churchill

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Monday, April 07, 2008

 

The State of the Climate


There is more sea ice than usual.

Most of the Greenland center continues to add ice.

Most of Antarctica continues to add ice. The Antarctic Peninsula recently lost another small ice shelf (on the other side from the Larsen shelf that broke up 5 years ago). Climatologists say neither of these were there during the Medieval Warm Period.

The mean temperature has gone slightly up in the world for the past few months after a sharp, full degree decline over the past 12 months before that.

The flux density number from the sun is back down in the upper 60s (close to the lowest point) after a brief spike to the 80s. The sun is clear again after a raft of old cycle spots appeared. The real start of the next cycle may be delayed to July or even 2009.

The Mauna Loa observatory may show an actual decrease in atmospheric CO2 this past year.

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This Day in the History of Evil Repeating

On this day in 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda began massacring ethnic Tutsis as well as some politically moderate Hutus. Usually the victim was hacked to death with a 5 cent machete. In less than three months, probably 800,000 were so murdered. The 'Never Again' slogan regarding the political murders by Nazis never sounded so hollow. We in the West did absolutely nothing to help the Tutsis and the killing ended only when ethnic Tutsis returned with weapons. Who was the President back then? What was the role of the UN? What is its essential reason for existence? Shame on us, all of us.

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Thought of the Day

male parta male dilabuntur

Cicero

Wrongly gained, wrongly lost.

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Krugman Channels Malthus

Remember the 'end of the world is nigh' books in the late 60s and early 70s? The only one I read was Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb. Thomas Robert Malthus noticed in early 19th Century England that population increased geometrically while food production only arithmetically, so eventually population would outstrip food production and the world as he knew it would end in famine and strife. Ehrlich and the others were just repeating Malthus and were just as wrong--(Ehrlich predicted, in the late 1960s, that hundreds of millions would die from a coming overpopulation-crisis in the 1970s, and that by 1980 inhabitants of the United States would have a life-expectancy of only 42 years) spectacularly wrong! (Food production can increase geometrically as well with technology). So now it's economic troll Paul Krugman's turn.

To his credit he didn't blame George Bush by name, but he does blame the following:


The rise of China and other emerging economies is the main force driving oil prices, but the invasion of Iraq — which proponents promised would lead to cheap oil — has also reduced oil supplies below what they would have been otherwise.

How did Gulf War II reduce oil supplies? We couldn't buy Iraqi oil due to the economic sanctions for years prior to the liberation. Now we can and production is up above prewar levels.


And bad weather, especially the Australian drought, is probably related to climate change. So politicians and governments that have stood in the way of action on greenhouse gases bear some responsibility for food shortages.

Probably related to climate change? Wow, how convincing. There probably were no droughts in Australia before we noticed that the ambient CO2 was rising last century.

But his greatest scorn is for using food to make alcohol fuel which he calls a scam. Well, even a blind hog finds an acorn from time to time.

But here is his bold prediction (note the 'may'): Cheap food, like cheap oil, may be a thing of the past. Let's revisit this prediction in 2011. I predict the price of both food (let's pick corn) and oil will be down from what they are now. From the 'accuracy' of the 60's dire predictions, and Krugman's woeful track record failing to see the future, I'd say I have the edge on him.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

 

Charlton Heston

Chuck Heston was not this country's greatest actor, but a very fine man, on the right side of things vis a vis civil rights in '63; political thinking about that time and thereafter; and, about guns for a very long time (cold dead hands, indeed). Here are some of the movies he actually added to:

He was a good Richelieu in both the 4 and 3 Musketeers;

He was a believable cowboy in Will Penny (points taken away from the movie for Lee Majors);

He could hold his own against Lawrence Olivier, who played the Mahdi, in Khartoum;

Good as the title character in The War Lord;

He was pretty good in Touch of Evil, too bad the movie sucks so bad;

Actually good all the way through in Major Dundee (again title character); and,

The chariot race is still one of the best things on film from Ben-Hur.

Also, even beginning to show the Alzheimers which may have killed him, he elegantly revealed in Bowling For Columbine Michael Moore to be the lying, manipulative, little (figuratively) backbiter he is.

RIP

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A Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Small Minds

Here, in its entirety, is the latest from Welshman Dafydd at Big Lizards blog, just because it would be a crime to leave out a word of it:

Let me see if I have the sequence of Democratic electoral argument straight...


1992: "Don't vote for the World War II combat veteran who was shot down; war is
immoral! Vote for the moral, draft dodging peace protester."

1996: "Don't vote for the World War II combat veteran who was shot up; war is immoral! Vote for the moral, draft dodging peace protester who has led us into wars unrelated to American national security."

2000: "Don't vote for the draft-avoiding non-veteran; he's a chickenhawk! Vote for the combat-reporting veteran. Only a military veteran understands how to be Commander in Chief."

2004: "Don't vote for the draft-avoiding non-veteran; he's a chickenhawk! Vote for the combat veteran with a chest full of medals. Only a heavily decorated military veteran understands how to be Commander in Chief."

2008: "Don't vote for the Navy-brat Vietnam combat veteran who was shot down and held as a POW for five and a half years, served with distinction for more years after his return, is heavily decorated, and who has had three children in either the Navy or Marines in combat positions; the Vietnam and Iraq wars were immoral! Vote for either the wife of the moral, draft-dodging peace protester or the cocaine-abusing "community activist" -- you can't be Commander in Chief if you're too close to the military."


Have I got this about right, or did I miss something (as usual)?

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Alternative Realities

The alternative realities inhabited by Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey and Pollyanna in any of the Glad Books are pleasant ones where things seem better than they actually are. I just finished watching Katrina vanden Awful on This Week with George Stephanopolous. It must be tough living in a place where everything seems worse than it actually is. I'm not going there.

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This Day in the History of Going Over There

On this day in 1917, the U.S. Congress passed a declaration of war against Germany, and the U.S. entered, finally, WWI.

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Thought of the Day

vis consili expers mole ruit sua

Horace

Force bereft of wisdom is ruined by its own mass.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

 

I Thought Roger Might Appreciate This



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