Saturday, July 27, 2002

It seems that there's a little debate raging at Little Green Footballs (yeah, I know. When is it ever peaceful over at LGF?). Some Brit journalist that writes for the Arab News, an English newspaper in the kingdom, is miffed about an entry at OpinionJournal (yeah, I know. When is a Brit journalist ever NOT upset at what people say about them?).

Seems this John R. Bradley guy, the fellow who writes for the Saudis, is claiming credit for past articles and works that no one can find. In fact, it seems that no one of any note has ever heard of the guy. His name just came up post 9/11, when the Warbloggers started to read what passes for news writing in Arab publications. This led LGF to wonder if the guy even existed.

Seems he does. He even decided to defend his apologist position for the Saudi regime in the Comments section at LGF. This was probably a bad move, since he then opened himself up for a Fisking of royal proportions.

Go ahead and read the whole thing. There's 60 comments right now as I type, and more will probably follow. Mr. Bradley's contribution is comment #11.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Jonah Goldberg has a column in the National Review. This week he writes about patriotism, and how it's really not an indicator of whether or not someone is a good American. In the second half of the column he has some very good points about why the U.S. shouldn't ever allow itself to be unduly influenced by the United Nations

But, if you think that America is man's last best hope; if you believe that God or fate arranged for America to be established on this Earth to do two things: chew gum and kick ass (by example or by action); if you are grateful that America has its hands on the steering wheel of history then you will be more than a little skeptical about letting a bunch of backseat drivers in Geneva, the Hague, or Paris tell us where to go and how long it will take to get there. Or, if you're less emotional about these things, you might just look at the historical record of the various nations giving us advice and say, "Hmmm, China doesn't have much to teach us about the rule of law," or "Call me crazy, but Russia can keep its economic advice to itself," or "The Sudan can call us racist all they like but, you know, at least we abolished slavery."

America, true patriots recognize, is a nation and a system of laws and institutions designed to ensure individual liberty. The United Nations — a few charitable enterprises notwithstanding — is an expense-account boondoggle largely designed to fill the wallets of kleptocrats and assuage the egos of runner-up nations.

This is pretty much the way I feel. The rest of the world keeps insiting that America has all of these problems that would be cleared up if we just listened to them and did what they said. And there are some problems. But our problems seem incredibly minor in comparison.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

People make themselves miserable for no good reason. They only look at the bad side of a situation instead of trying to find the silver lining. There's a benefit to be had from almost everything.

Case in point is this. Since I'm 38 years old right now, all this means is that I don't have to bother saving for my retirement. Woo hoo!

The "Golden Age" of science fiction was from the 1930's through the 1960's. This was mainly due to legendary editors of the influential science fiction magazines that insisted on real science being used in all of the stories that they printed. One of the recurring themes from this time was the killing machine running amok, deadly robots that would slaughter without mercy.

Recently Jane's Defence reported on how armed pilotless vehicles are being developed. Of course this isn't a new idea. During World War I a pilotless aerial torpedo was developed. And everyone remembers Germany's V-1 weapon from World War II. But these were one shot kamikaze weapons, and not reusable aircraft.

Development of unpiloted aircraft originally focused on fitting a conventional aircraft with radio controls. But soon it was found that designs that didn't have room for a pilot was the most efficient since the aerodynamic shape could be smoother. No one bothered to arm these craft since reliable fire and forget, self targeting "smart" weapons weren't around yet.

But after the Hellfire missile was upgraded with improved fire control and targeting packages, experiments were conducted to arm a recon drone, specifically this type of drone. It was even used in Afghanistan this year under combat conditions, with some success.

The biggest problem has been one of capacity. The drones are designed to be light and quiet, lurking about undected over areas of interest for up to a day. The way that they could carry any armament was through draining the fuel tanks about halfway. Even so the drone could only carry two missiles. But now larger drones, specifically designed to attack targets, are in development. They'll only have enough fuel to stay in the air for 12 hours or so, the same as the armed Predators we have now. But they'll carry 12 to 16 Hellfire missiles instead of the measly two that are now the best that can be done.

Things are going to get interesting. I wonder if the Air Force is looking for a geek that likes to play computer games? I bet I could do a pretty good job piloting one of those drones around and blowing stuff up. After all, I've had plenty of practice.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

On the Yahoo! news server comes this story. It seems that a 7 year old girl was abducted in front of her grandmother's house in Philadelphia. She had been playing with her 5 year old sister when two men pulled her kicking and screaming in to their car. After calling the grandmother with a ransom demand they tied the young girl with duct tape and left her locked in the basement of an abandoned house.

A recipe for tragedy, many would say. I would've myself, but then I wouldn't have counted on the little girl. She chewed through the duct tape and broke through the door keeping her from the ground floor. She couldn't break down any doors leading to the outside so she broke a window and called to some nearby kids for help. While one of the children helped her through the jagged window the other one hopped on their bike and rode for the police.

Erica Platt is the name of the little girl. She's got a lot of guts. Remember the names of the two men who abducted her, James Burns and Edward Johnson. They're still at large at the time of this writing, but they'll be caught. Rats can't hide forever.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Steven den Beste has a recent post about the International Criminal Court. He states that the ICC can never be viable, at least here in the United States, because so many other countries and cultures have ideas and practices that would be considered criminal to Americans. Things that are perfectly legal in these countries would earn you a lengthy prison sentence here. And there's plenty of things about American behavior that we don't even think about that would mean a long stay in a foriegn jail.

But there's one thing about the ICC that I think everyone is missing. And that's something called the Rule of Law.

When they hear the phrase "Rule of Law", most people think that it means that laws have a means to be enforced. But instead it means that a country's laws apply to everyone equally, from the richest and most influential business tychoon to the lowliest minimum wage earner mopping up his office.

Before anyone chimes up with the obvious let me state that I know that it's an imperfect world. The rich guys have the resources to hire whole law firms for their defense, something which the janitor just can't do. This gives the impression that the law doesn't apply to to those with more influence and money. This isn't exactly the case. While the rich and powerful can employ experts in legal code to ferret out the most obscure kinks in the law that work to their client's advantage, those kinks and loopholes would also apply in the janitor's case if his lawyer knew about them! The rich man isn't writing new laws, he's just able to find the most advantageous way to use the ones we have.

This idea that everybody is subject to the same laws, that the rules apply equally to everyone, isn't a concept that every country embraces. Why is this important? Because many regimes that don't recognize the Rule of Law will certainly use the ICC to try and attack the U.S.

Before the ICC can have any legitimacy it must first insist that every country involved must apply this basic concept to it's own legal systems. 'Course, I'm not going to hold my breath for that one.