Saturday, October 12, 2002

LET'S PLAY "SPIN THE TERRORIST"
The last post got me to thinkin'. I've noticed that a lot of people in the blogosphere have expressed frustration with the authorities here in the U.S. with the way that they report terrorist acts. This post by Prof. Reynolds about the Maryland sniper attacks expresses some frustration with the way that the police are reluctant to label the attacks as "terrorism". It's expanded here, and here, and here.

Sure, it's terrorism. A criminal act that causes harm for harm's sake certainly fits the bill. But one of the Emails that Prof. Reynolds quotes gets a little hysterical.....

"It was indeed terrorism. We in Montgomery County were absolutely terrorized: kids locked into schools, people afraid to leave home, police everywhere."

Hmmmm. This pretty much describes what happens down in Florida every time a hurricane sweeps through. To be fair, the reader was making the point that it didn't have to be a foreign or organized terrorist network like al Queda. Just some bozos that want to shoot people will do. But it seems that people look at the reluctance by law enforcement to label an act as "terrorism" is an attempt to put one over on the public. Somehow. For some reason.

The police in the U.S. are very sensitive to public opinion. They're subject to the will of the voters, and their budget is allocated out of tax money that is controlled by elected officials. No matter how well staffed or equipped a police agency is there's never enough resources to do everything that needs to be done. If the voters demand that these resources be allocated to something then the police have little choice but to do it, even if a professional can tell in a hot minute that it's going to be a waste of time.

When someone hears the word "terrorist" they think of someone who has a vast network of support behind them. An outlaw organization that provides money, planning, equipment and training so the poor dupe can give his all for the movement. If the public demands that the police investigate such an organization then that's what they'll try to do, even if there's no such organization.

You can see how reluctant the police are to say the T word when it came to the LAX shooting. A guy, acting alone, with no ties to a terrorist organization, shoots up some people at LAX. A terrorist act? Sure. But there's very good reasons why the police aren't going to come out and say it is when there's no evidence of the bogey man under the bed.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF "SPIN"
I read the Yahoo! news first because I have my email account through them. Sometimes I link to those stories found there, even though Yahoo! usually deletes them after a month or so.

With that in mind, I found this news story about an explosion in Helsinki. The explosion occurred at the Myyrmanni Mall. Seven people have died and 80 were injured.

Okay, sounds like a criminal act. But the way that the authorities have handled it is extremely puzzling.

The police are saying that "It is most likely caused by something that has been brought in from the outside," There had been previous reports that the explosion was caused by faulty gas canisters.

True there are sometimes explosions caused by faulty gas lines or other flammable material, but it's usually extremely obvious as to the cause. This looks to me like the ostrich reflex. Refuse to say that it's a terrorist act and it won't be a terrorist act.

UPDATE Just saw that Prof. Reynolds was all over this story last night. He links to a BBC news story, which should last longer than the Yahoo! story. Prof. Reynolds also mentions a car bomb that went off last July which killed a guy in Helsinki.

Friday, October 11, 2002

A FINE EXAMPLE OF MARKET FORCES AT WORK
I looked back through my archives and noted that I was writing about a wider range of subjects when I started this blog. Politics, mostly, but I also talked about just about anything.

So when did this become a gun-centric blog?

A few people linked to me and left comments when I was talking about other subjects, but the greatest feedback is to the posts RE firearms.

Well, what the heck? Give the people what they want, I always say. I just hope that my few regular readers won't be too disappointed if I still post about military issues. Particularly the really cool weapons that they have. Even if these weapons won't fit in the gun safe.

DEATH FROM ABOVE
I was just reading StrategyPage.com when I came across this item. It states that aircraft-mounted beam weapons will be available for testing as soon as 2010, with full scale production not long after.

The advantages to a beam weapon are obvious. Pin-point targeting, inexhaustible ammunition supply (as long as the fuel holds out), and that it's useful for both attack and defense (as an anti-missile weapon).

All well and good. But when are they gonna get a man-portable version? Heck, I still want something for hand-to-hand combat and general household chores.

THEY GET PAID FOR IDIOTARIAN RANTS?
So I'm reading the usual editorials about the recent sniper attacks. It's the same old story. Maryland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the U.S., and that did nothing to prevent the attacks. The vast majority of the news items/editorials state that the situation proves that more gun control is needed. Maryland just isn't draconian enough.

Yeah, whatever. A typical example is this idiocy. One little paragraph jumped out at me.

"To get a driver's license is infinitely more complicated than to acquire a high-powered rifle or a semi-automatic weapon capable of mass human destruction."

Ummm, excuse me, but don't you need a driver's license or other government issued ID before they'll sell you a gun!

So this means what? That the effort to buy a gun is infinity plus one?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

THIS NEVER HAPPENED ON THE JETSONS
So I'm trolling the news servers like I do every day when I come across this news item. Seems some guys who used to work for the guy who owns the original Rocket Belt decide to build their own. The next thing you know there's murders, kidnapping and theft. Strange stuff.

Whatever. The Rocket Belt would be pretty neat, but I still want a flying car. They've been promising me one for 50 years and no one has delivered yet.

Somewhere along the line we've been gypped.

PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN THE HANDBASKET
Steven Den Beste recently wrote this post, where he compares the general attitude about business prevalent in the United States with the one more commonly found in Europe. Broadly speaking, competition is considered an asset in the United States while it's looked on as a waste of time and resources in Europe. Again speaking very broadly, the U.S. view has proven to be superior.

I was interested to find this article while browsing around on the Jane's Defence server. The article comments on a recent conference sponsored by Jane's and held in Greece. The purpose of the conference was to allow an airing of ideas about defense issues. Right at the start the main theme was one of eleminating competition. The idea is that a pooling of resources under a central planning agency is what's really needed to be efficient.

What seems particularly surreal to me is that one of the speakers at the conference, a Dr Spiros Travlos, even admits that Greece herself is reaping some benefits through competition. But he makes it clear that he thinks the situation won't last.

"Greece is benefitting well from competition among European countries because Greece is procuring, and European internal competition helps keep the prices down. However, this is not an ideal situation for Europe because proactive development and co-operation is needed - not over-competitiveness - if Europe is to adequately focus its energies in a unified direction,"

Read the whole thing yourself. Everyone at the conference seems to believe that competition is bad bad bad. What's needed is an EU committee to make sure that there's no wasted effort.

I try to look on the bright side. With this attitude dominating European thought, I don't think that the United States is in any danger of losing her competitive edge any time soon.

NEATO BOAT
Came across this article about a big, ultra fast catamaran that the U.S. Navy is using to conduct experiments.

I think these craft are pretty neat, but so far a military role for such craft hasn't developed. Not that the Navy hasn't explored this design. This news item from GlobalSecurity.org reports that there are experiments with a variety of catamarans.

One thing's for sure. If they do decide to build and deploy these vessels, they're gonna have to recruit crew that aren't subject to seasickness.

NO ACTION ON THE REACTION
For some years now I've been watching the "development" of the NATO Rapid Reaction Force. I've mentioned it before on this blog, and I've generally thought it would be a good idea. A 60,000 troop, highly mobile, with enough transport to move the force and supply it anywhere in the world for up to a year.

The only problem is that the EU and NATO can't afford it. Not even 60,000 men! I mean, c'mon!

So Rumsfeld recently proposed a smaller force of 21,000 men. The original 60,000 man force was originally proposed in 1991 and they haven't made any progress yet. So maybe the project can actually get moving if they scale things way, way back. Some NATO pundits are saying that things will finally be ready to go by 2006.

Okay, whatever. Notice that I'm not holding my breath.

Some of the links in this post were gotten from Steven's blog.

THE APPLE vs MAC DEBATE IS ABOUT TO GET UGLY
I was reading this Bleat from James Lileks when I saw that he had linked to a new blog. It seems to be written by Tony Saprano.

Can't say that I'm all that interested in the HBO series. I've seen a few episodes and they've all bored me to tears....except for this one, which was directed by Steve Buscemi. Otherwise it just doesn't appeal to me.

The blog, on the other hand, is hilarious! Really good idea, done very well.

Now if we can only encourage ol' Tony to post more.