Friday, June 14, 2002

MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK
I've mentioned the discontinued Crusader artillery system before in this blog. The Crusader was going to be a state of the art self-propelled artillery system with plenty of extra neato features to keep the pork flowing in many Congressional districts. It would also be a very capable weapon system. The reason they axed the program was due to the fact that we really didn't need the Crusader, since the jobs it was supposed to do could already be done by the Air Force.

All well and good, but that doesn't mean that we could improve the systems we already have. The main 155mm howitzer currently used is the Paladin. Basically a big gun mounted on a light tank chassis, the system has plenty of bells and whistles of it's own. It could be called Crusader Light, the major difference being the number of crew needed and the weight (more crew for the Paladin, more weight for the never-to-be-built Crusader).

So what's the problem? It's basically one of mobility. It seems that the Paladin is so big that it can't fit on the C-130 cargo plane. Take a look at the stats for the various C-130 varients and you'll see that they all have a cargo lift capibility of around 45,000 pounds. Well, the Paladin weighs 63,000 pounds. So it has to go by ship and be unloaded at the shore.

There's plenty of older towd 155mm howitzers. These are light enough to fit in the C-130, but they also have to have a Hummer or truck along to do the towing. But they CAN get to where they're needed in a hurry, even if they're slower and can't go off road.

The French have a solution to this problem. Just mount the 155mm on the truck that normally tows it. This means that it has better off-road capabilities than a towed system, and it's small and light enough to fit in the C-130. Good idea all around.

I came across this article on StrategyPage.com. It seems that the French could supply the U.S.'s needs for this interim artillery system, but the White House is playing it mum. They've ordered military personnel to not even mention the French system. This is obviously due to political reasons, since it wouldn't look good if the U.S. started to buy a foriegn weapon system after cancelling the Crusader.

My opinion is that it really isn't a good idea to play politics like this, but it probably won't hurt us if they do. We've got the Air Force to do the heavy lifting with precision bombing, and they do a pretty good job of it (they've certainly gotten plenty of practice lately). So the ground-pounders can wait for a new, light, self-propelled artillery system to be designed and developed by the U.S. defense firms.
EXTREMIST IS AS EXTREMIST DOES
Just came across this article in the Washington Post. The Brady Campaign, that lobbying group opposed to private citizens owning guns, has targeted Robert L. Erlich and is calling him "an extremist".

So what did this canidate for Maryland's Governor do? What terrible gun atrocity did he condone or take part in? Did he oppose the banning of some sort of gun that was later used to take dozens of innocent lives?

No, none of that. In fact Mr. Erlich is on record for opposing concealed carry laws in his state. He even voted for mandatory background checks before gun purchases, something that the Brady campaign (then called Handgun Control, Inc.) said would reduce gun violence. You'd think that they'd be happy with the guy, not spending $250,000.00 to try and sabotage his election.

But Mr. Erlich has committed the cardinal sin. He's stated that a U.S. citizen actually has the right to own a firearm.

Oh, the horror! What an extremist point of view! Expect to see Mr. Erlich grab himself an assault weapon and start walkign down the street, killing all he comes in contact with!

This sort of rhetoric from the Brady Campaign makes it very clear who the extremists are.

MEET YA DOWN BY THE MOSQUE
Via Natalie Solent is this little nugget of information. According to David Tell, the Middle East Media Research Institute is accurately translating the news from Islamic countries. The stuff going out on the airwaves is pretty horrific.

Ms. Solent makes the case that there are many fine and upstanding people from Islamic countries that are as disgusted by hate mongering as anyone. But these people have to remain silent because they might be targeted by their enraged neighbors if they should speak out against the official line.

This may very well be true. In fact it's almost certain to be true. But I don't see what difference that makes.

A paralell can be drawn between this situation and Shinto, the state religion of Imperial Japan. Practioners of the religion claim that it's non-political, and that's certainly true today. But after the Meiji Restoration, the Shinto religion was very closely affiliated with the government. The central idea of Shinto, that the Emperor is a direct descendant of a god and the Japanese people are superior because of this, was used as a justification for an expansionistic policy that left millions dead. This didn't stop until the Japanese were firmly stopped by the U.S. military. Virtually overnight the religion was forcibly seperated from government control. Since then there's been no reason to complain.

Something similar probably has to happen to Islam. If it's really a peaceful religion then the U.S. is doing the faithful a service by defeating the regimes that are using it to advance their own ends. We'll just have to wait and see what the reaction is.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I NEVER KNEW BUNNIES WERE SO SMART
You can find a flash presentation about the so-called gun show loophole at FlashBunny.org. It's very short, and very informative.

Another one that's worth watching is this FlashBunny movie about the heroes of gun control.

A CURE FOR CHILD OBESITY
I came across this article about a New York couple that almost killed their child through starvation. It seems that they are strict vegans (vegetarians that won't eat any animal products at all), and they fed their infant daughter nothing but crushed nuts, fruit juice, and some flaxseed and cod liver oil (I suppose the cod liver oil was an oversight on their part). The child was only ten pounds at 16 months, and she never grew teeth or was very active.

The question is what to do with this case. The parents don't seem to have acted out of malice. They really think that a diet with milk and other animal products is harmful. They might be sand-poundingly stupid, but they didn't mean to harm the girl.

So what does society do to them? Jail time isn't ruled out, since you can be jailed for harming someone through negligence as well as through willful acts. Placing the child in foster care (where she's been since her parent's arrest) is a pretty good idea. But how do you prevent something like this from happening again? I ask because the mother, Silva Swinton, is pregnant again.

Place the new child in foster care? Not a bad idea, since both parents have shown an inability to care for a newborn. But what's to keep Ms. Swinton from becoming pregnant yet again? Should the court order mandatory psychological counseling? That's probably a good idea, but what happens if Ms. Swinton refuses to change her opinions? It's obvious to anyone that their first child didn't develop normally and the diet they imposed on her was harmful, but the Swintons have vowed to continue on as before.

There comes a time when the welfare of an innocent outweighs the rights of those that may harm them. There are long term contraceptive techniques available that don't permanently impare a woman's ability to become pregnant in the future. The use of DMPA would probably be best in this instance. A court ordered shot every three months would prevent pregnancies, as well as prevent the oppurtunity for the Swintons to neglect another child.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

TO BE OR NOT TO BE
Steven den Beste has been discussing allowing people with incurable illnesses to decide if they want to live or not. You can find the posts I mean here and here.

So far as I'm concerned, why not allow them to make their own choice? Who knows better than the people suffering from the condition as to what they want to do, or whether life is worth living any longer?

I notice that most of the objections seem to be based on religious grounds. Someone's religion states that suicide is wrong so no one can do it. The god on high has spoken, and everyone is going to toe the line even if they have a different interpretation of the same religion, or if they don't even belong to that religion.

I think that's just plain wrong. I'm sorry if anyone reading this has a different opinion, but forcing people to abide by tenants of a faith that they don't agree with or even belong to is criminal.