Archive for February, 2012


13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

In the days after the 9/11 attacks I was treated to footage of ecstatic crowds on the ‘arab street’ celebrating our tragedy. This joined the many years of footage from places like Israel and Lebanon depicting the joy with which the ‘arab street’ greeted suicide attacks, bombings of innocent civilians, and the murder of men in wheelchairs.

I saw this unseemly glee condemned by responsible members of the muslim world who were, unfortunately, extremely thin on the ground and very short on action or even calls to action against the responsible groups. I was told again and again that the atrocities committed by the few extremist jihadis, were not in line with the teachings of the Koran and should be condemned by all true muslims. Yet the attacks continued unabated and evidently unopposed by the nations and communities from which the jihadis sprang and operated. In fact, quite the reverse, in ‘Palestine’ the people put the murdering terrorist group Hamas into power in a popular election. And other murderers enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood status in muslim communities around the world, their faces adorning boxes of children’s candy and cereal like a wheaties sports hero among a hundred other things.

This soured in my soul.

However, during my service in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan I met and worked with local people in all three countries who were brave and committed to the principles of peace, personal responsibility, and the rule of law.  They exist.

Now we have this story. Syrians putting their lives on the line to resist the murdering regime and fulfill their human duty to correct the reprehensible actions of other members of their community.

I salute those Syrians fighting for freedom. I would gladly deploy again to help them in their struggle.

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More Climate Change Reading

Climate Scientist from MIT has this to say. Thanks to Jerry Pournelle for the link.

ALSO! Giraffes fighting!

Rather telling I think.

Breaking the Law

This story has set me thinking.

To summarize: Man comes home to find his home burglarized. Man sees the burglar crawling out of his neighbor’s window. Man yells at the burglar to ‘Freeze’. Burglar does not freeze. Man fires handgun into the ground and repeats his command to freeze. Burglar freezes until cops come and arrest him. Man is charged with ‘reckless conduct’ which carries the same penalty as the burglar will get for his two counts of burglary.

What is wrong with this picture? So many things.

My first answer is obvious. The Man should not be charged with reckless conduct. He acted wisely, courageously, and responsibly. He stopped a burglar from getting away with his ill-gotten gains and also prevented the burglar from committing further burglaries, adding to the safety and security of his community. Bravo. On top of that, if the guy crawling out of his neighbor’s window had NOT been the burglar, the worst that would have happened is one citizen being detained by another for a few minutes. So, the Man was doubly responsible for not shooting the guy since there was no way for him to know for sure that the dude in the window was the burglar. Double bravo.

Yet, his actions do fall under the legal definition of reckless conduct. And I think I’m OK with a law against discharging firearms in residential neighborhoods. And I’m also OK with their being a law against detaining random people at the point of your gun. It gives the cops something to throw at the asshole being stupid with his legally owned guns. This result, however, I am not OK with.

So what to do? The answer, obviously, is to show some common sense.  The Man should simply never have been charged. Someone in that police department or prosecutor’s office didn’t have the stones to take personal responsibility for the situation and simply say, ‘The Man acted properly, he shall not be charged.’

Yet, more objections can be raised. Am I really advocating that the law be selectively applied at the human whim of the government? I suppose I am. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. This selective application of the law is an inescapable effect of allowing ourselves to be ruled by laws.

We’re simply not capable of writing laws that would lead, mechanically, precisely, to the just outcome in every case. Can you imagine the wording of a law that would prohibit dickwads from firing their guns into the air in residential neighborhoods but yet would be granular enough to not catch the Man in their net?

It all comes down to actual humans applying common sense. Always.

Enlisted men

“Enlisted men are stupid, but extremely cunning and sly, and bear considerable watching.”

U.S. Army’s Officer Guide, 1863

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He spotted a man below and reduced enough altitude to where the man could hear him and shouted:  ‘Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but i don’t know where I am’. The man below replied, “You’re in a hot balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude”
“You must be an NCO”, said the balloonist

“I am, replied the NCO, “How did you Know?”

“Well, ” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and I’m still lost. I won’t get to where I’m going with the information you gave me.”

The NCO below responded, “You must be an Officer”

“I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

” Well,” said the NCO, “you don’t know where your are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now somehow, it’s my fault.”