31 January 2011

An honest answer to a foolish question.

I don't try to compete with Joe Huffman mentally.  I'm smart enough to know that he is smarter than I.

The statement in question was, "gun violence is an inevitable part of there being guns in the society."

Joe, why don't you tell us, using your superior intellect and ability to understand the difference between the true and the false, exactly what's wrong with that statement.

This is the one you quoted Linoge about. There's something in that statement that requires "proof." Is that what you're saying?

First lets take a look at "gun violence".  All those poor disadvantaged guns growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.  Poor Austrian immigrants who have no particular skill other than reliability and willingness to take abuse.  They stay up night after night waiting for work until finally they snap, loading themselves and looking to cause trouble.  They go out and pull their own trigger, firing at random as the last gasp of their attempt to make sense of a cruel and senseless world.  Hat tip to Karl for his essay that I copied from shamelessly here.

Oh wait, maybe this isn't an honest answer to a loaded question.  Because there is no such thing as "gun violence" any more than there is such a thing as "steam engine violence" or "microprocessor violence".

There is only violence.  And most people think they understand violence but haven't looked deeply enough to understand that not all "harsh acts" are "violent".

Cain slew Abel.  Notice what is NOT in that sentence, any sort of noun other than the murderer and the victim.  It does not read, "The club forced itself into Cain's hand and swung itself to clobber Abel upside the head."  The "deodand" concept has no place in a logical society.  Sure random things happen such as volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and earthquakes that kill hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, but no one talks about "mother natures violence is a consequence of having mother nature in society."

Violence is a uniquely human trait because of malice.  We ascribe violence to animals when in fact they have no malice, this is an anthropomorphism that has unfortunately taken root in our society (I blame Disney).  A lion has to eat and as an obligate carnivore there his hunting is merely survival.  Can you tell the difference between a mugging victim and someone who just had rhinoplasty?  Very often they will look the same, and quite often feel the same.  So why do we call a mugger "violent" and not the doctor who performs such an unneeded surgery?

Because of motive.  We assign a malice to the mugger and benevolence to the doctor.  Even though the untrained eye can't tell the difference between the work of a mugger and a doctor.  In nature all animals have a "pure" motive for "violence".  Hunger or survival.  The law of the jungle.  Kill to eat or to keep from being eaten.  There is no malice.

And guns are incapable of malice.  Malice is a uniquely human trait.  And malice is what makes violence scary.

So there is no "gun violence".  There is ONLY "human violence".  MikeB is just a fool who is afraid to see that getting rid of guns won't get rid of "violence".

30 January 2011

This is so true.

Also, don't count on an Apple device to store songs.  If your laptop takes a crap like mine did a while back, and you have to reload iTunes, say goodbye to your music.

Screw the DMCA.

29 January 2011

Gun Show: Columbus, GA

I was disappointed.  No one had an A1 style upper.

Picked up a ball cap with skull and crossed sabers for my roomie.

Picked up an AR armorers tool for myself.

Violence, restraint, and goals

Setting off bombs is a largely unsuccessful tactic for insurgents.  Didn't work for McVeigh, hasn't worked for the Palestinians, hasn't worked for the IRA, but it did work for Al Quaeda with the Madrid bombings.  So the question is why did it work in Spain but not elsewhere?  This goes back to the hearts and minds of the people.  The effect of the bombing in Madrid wasn't so much as to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure as it was to shatter public support for Spain's support of the US led "War on Terror".  So the bombing had a psychological effect greater than just a random explosion of say a gas line or tanker truck.

This is why propaganda is so important to the Strategic and Operational goals of an Insurgency.  The message the Spanish people got loud and clear was "you brought this on yourselves by supporting the US war aims" stick with the "and we won't blow you up any more if you pull support for the US" carrot.  Carrot and stick, alternate state of government option, and one bomb.  None of those operations alone achieved the desired effect, but by combining propaganda with violence Al Quaeda managed a successful operation.

So looking at past successful and unsuccessful attacks, here are some of the things that I see.

When should an insurgent use violence as a tactic?  When it supports the propaganda, reinforces Operational goals, or provides an immediate tactical advantage.  Successful insurgencies do not have to be terribly violent.  But they must always possess the capability of violence to be taken seriously.  When violence supports the Strategic (overall goal) and Operational (an achievable end state in a geographic region) then and only then should violence be considered.

Where should an insurgent target?  Where the enemy is vulnerable.  Is he strong in the cities, suburbs, or rural areas?  Attack where he is weak to show that the government cannot protect itself or its people, but DO NOT TARGET the people. 

Who should the insurgent attack?  Once again there isn't a list, but identify who is most vulnerable.  Picking the low hanging fruit can cause a .gov to expend massive resources to harden itself.  How many additional police officers on the street could be paid for by the TSA's budget?   Attack who is vulnerable.

What should insurgents attack?  Symbols of power and legitimacy.  One of the major victories in Iraq was the establishment of a relatively modern legal system.  The National Police were a continued target by the insurgents because nothing is as legitimate as impartial rule of law (while the Iraqi's don't have that, they are light years ahead of where they were under Baathist rule).  Historically prisons have been symbols of revolution, but Abu Ghraib became a constant target as the insurgents wanted to be seen as liberating Iraqis from abusive American occupiers.  We knew that the insurgents would try to take down the legal system any time they could which is why security around courthouses was very tight.

How should an insurgent attack?  In a manner that targets multiple areas of vulnerability.  A cyber attack that releases classified information can be more devastating to .gov legitimacy than kidnapping a public officials family member.  Totally wiping out a combat outpost is a wet dream for Taliban commanders as it would attack the moral of the American People, the legitimacy of US Forces to provide security, and would provide a persuasive propaganda argument for Taliban might and power to the Afghan people.  Look for multiple effects from a single target.  Think high payoff low tech and NOT targeting the people unless you want to be seen as a criminal/terrorist organization.  Now Al Sadr and the IRA have managed to play "good guy/bad organization" games with limited success, but I do not recommend their model. 

And finally intelligence is the driving factor for the who, what, where, when, how of a successful operation.  Intelligence needs to be broad, deep, and fully developed.  Not only do you need to know how many men the enemy has, but what is the response time for reinforcements, what is his logistical footprint and pipeline, what equipment gives the enemy an advantage, what low tech solution will take away that advantage, where and how does the enemy travel,  and a gajillion other things.  Dutchman6 likes to quote Michael Collins about gathering intelligence "I want to know what they had for breakfast!"  And it is truly the intelligence gathering cycle that drives SUCCESSFUL operations. 

Because while information may flow over the internet, it is on the ground that insurgencies exist.  Even bloodless "open source" insurgencies HAVE to exist on the ground to be effective.

28 January 2011

Solutions?

I'm not trying to be a dick, just focused and brief: Care to offer any solutions? I like your analysis (and blog), but we have plenty of analysts. All of the winnowing jobs are completely full. How about using your expertise to focus on what will work, and building the frameworks of ideas we need to start building a future?

Mike
A game plan for an insurgency is not something you can really script in detail.  There is no successful formula that guarantees success.  However, there are things that are fundamentally sound.

Case in point, the ultra liberal editors of The Stranger, a Seattle publication put together this website http://www.urbanarchipelago.com/ and they make some very good points about the different nature of urban and rural politics.  Which makes a potential insurgency Wyoming or Alaska look very different from one in Los Angeles, Portland, or Boston.

The three levels of war are Strategic, Operational, and Tactical.  Propaganda is a method for achieving a strategic gain.  A group of insurgents in one location would be in charge of the missions and efforts to achieve the strategic mission in that area.  At the tactical level this would be a cell, team, or individual doing a single mission to further the operational goal and strategic goals.

But what to do right now to prepare for the future?  Stock up on things that you may need later.  Recruit young minds to the cause.  The Vietnamese Political Cadre were masters of indoctrination.  Is there any wonder why the Statists have seized control of schools through the Dept of Education and Teachers Unions?  So that is where the enemy is, and the enemy is targeting the next generation (why do you think the Taliban targets teachers in Afghanistan?).  Getting back to a  previous post this is almost a "slow cycle" OODA loop operation.  The fight is always over the hearts and minds of the people.  Insurgents who win the hearts and minds win the war.

I'm not going to tell anyone to how to make an IED, or conduct a linear or L shaped ambush.  When violence is justified this blog will probably have been shut down due to "security concerns" or some such excuse.  There are plenty of resources available to anyone who wants to learn the art of violence.

To succeed an insurgency must offer the perception of a better government than the current regime.  You don't get that by killing people.  If an insurgent kills a cop that is a propaganda loss, unless somehow the media can put forth the stories of how corrupt that cop was.  If you kill someone who rapes grandmothers and eats babies it is usually a propaganda win.  If you kill a cop, just because he is a cop, that is the cold blooded murder of a public servant.

Remember, "The Turner Diaries" is dangerous fiction.  Provoking the .gov to get an oppressive response does not work.  Government oppression is a relative thing, like boiling a frog.  If restrictions of civil liberties sparked insurgencies then the UK and most of Europe would be fighting.  Obviously that is not the case.  The TSA pisses me off so much I think about holding a protest whenever I am near an airport, but the bulk of our population views it as reasonable.  To get support the propaganda cells of the insurgency need to change peoples minds, to think that the TSA is unreasonable.  It is a very tough job, a lot of people like the illusion of security.  In fact people will choose the illusion of security over actual security most of the time.  Which is why minimum wage rent-a-cops are hired instead of redundant passkey and biometric scanning stations at many facilities.

We have a hard time beating Radical Islam because SO MANY MUSLIMS AGREE with the goals and means of Radical Islam.  That is passive support by a large portion of the population.  For an American Insurgency to work, there has to be that large scale passive support.  People who don't want to fight, don't want to have anything to do with the insurgency, but really don't care for the .gov either.

The "Three Percent" number for active insurgents is not wrong.  But that would mean 9 MILLION active insurgents in the US to have a successful insurgency.  That is a lot of people.  If we use Radical Islam as a guide, we need between 25 and 40% of the population to passively support.  That is between 75 and 120 MILLION Americans.  These are large numbers.  But how do insurgents WIN?  By winning the hearts and minds.  Guns are fine, and the threat of force is very important but the war could be won without a shot fired in anger.

So Mike, I can't give you a checklist of things to do.  But as long as you focus your individual efforts to align with the Strategic goals, you will be doing fine.  However, I do not know what the Strategic goals of an American Insurgency would be.  Personally I would like to see a return to a Constitutional Republic with a limited Federal Government.  It would be awesome for the FedGov to declare the Constitution a symbol of insurgency.

However, lets think about the counter propaganda from the .gov.  "A Return to the Original Constitution Is a Return of Slavery" and "Racist Right Wing Terrorists Seek to Impose Jim Crowe Apartheid in the US".  So maybe an edited version of the Constitution.

Hearts and minds.  Can't stress winning hearts and minds enough.

27 January 2011

Legitimacy, it's all about perception.

Every insurgency has a "center of gravity" that shapes the organization, activities, and efforts of the movement.  On the other side every Government has a desire to maintain sole legitimacy over the population.

There is contention among professionals whether the American Revolution was an insurgency or not.  I say that it is based on the following: attempts to reform British rule before seeking independence, specific criminal acts such as the Boston Tea Party for symbolic victory, widespread propaganda efforts through the printing press, establishing a shadow government in the form of the Continental Congress, a population divided between support for the Crown and support for independence, and especially the British response forcing the "reformist insurgency" into "shooting insurgency".

That isn't to say that our Revolution was purely an insurgency, the ending was purely a conventional military affair and the phases of battle did not really follow the "Three Stages".  Revolutions and insurgencies are not mutually exclusive.  What is important is to recognize the parts that worked, and the parts that didn't work.  Stealing from locals to feed the Continental Army did not win the hearts and minds of Loyalists or fence sitters.

The British could have maintained control simply by adopting SOME of the reforms that the colonials wanted.  The Founding Fathers were reasonable men, and they would have traded time for concessions from the Crown.  This model worked quite well in other Commonwealth nations.

Currently the Tea Party is big news.  And now the Republicans are now debating whether to repeal or replace Obamacare.  This is clearly not a reform acceptable to Tea Partiers and most Conservatives.  Instead of taking the hint to reign in spending President Obama paid it lip service and then spoke about "unprecedented investment" into areas of research that the free market has given up on as unprofitable.  If a large portion of the population is feeling betrayed and marginalized, a crafty insurgent will capitalize on that.

A smart American Insurgent would now be stepping up propaganda attacks against the legitimacy of the US Government.  Maybe letting the cat out of the bag that while we still outspend China by 4:1, in the next five years our interest payments to China alone will cover their entire military budget.  Maybe by pointing out the unintended consequences of ethanol and the moratorium on oil drilling.  Maybe by pointing out that since Obama took office more service members have died in Afghanistan than all of the years under Bush.  Maybe the union buy outs, trashing of contract law, and healthcare fiasco.

There are a lot of uncomfortable truths about the current system to use as propaganda.  The other half of propaganda is the promise that the Insurgents can do it better.  That by returning to the rule of law all American's investments would be protected impartially.  That by guaranteeing civil rights, ending the war on (some) drugs that SWAT teams wouldn't kill children with smoke grenades.  There are a lot of ways to promise that life will be better under an Insurgent rule.

And this can all be done without firing a shot.  Our Founding Fathers did this for years before the Legitimate British Government forced them into a fight.  The Battles of Lexington and Concord are a list of nearly everything that a Government can do wrong to suppress internal rebellion or dissent.

Remember back when "dissent is the highest form of patriotism"?  Now that the Statist party holds the reigns of power dissent is categorized as "violent rhetoric" and "hate speech".

Finally, an Insurgency wins by being seen as legitimate.  That means convincing the fence sitters.  If we look at the last three presidential elections they have been decided by less than 2% of the voting population.  That is lot of potential support for a reformist insurgency.  Targeting efforts to win both the active and passive support of that roughly 50% of the population is key.

And here is the hard reality.  Without capacity for violence the Insurgency will not be taken seriously by the Government.  Samizdat did not work in the USSR because they couldn't have resisted simply by lack of means.  Nonviolent protest only works because those in power get the idea of what would happen if the protests became violent.  To gain a propaganda victory the .Gov has to screw up and bring the power and might of the State against dissenters/insurgents. 

Please note, "The Turner Diaries" are a dangerous fiction.  Historically no insurgency has been successful by this method.  Some have tried it, and recently Iraq was a good example of this tactic, but it failed.  Tim McVeigh tried it, and he is rightly viewed as terrorist scum.   If you know anyone who proposes "The Turner Diaries" as a model use the dark parts of your imagination to figure out what to do to him.

In a Socratic method I would like to end with the following questions.  What is or would be the most effective center of gravity for an American insurgency?  What concessions would American Insurgents give to get some of the reforms they desire?   How could an American Insurgent temper the image of an armed radical to that of a reasonable alternative to the current system?  What symbolic battles won OR lost will resonate with the people to gain their support?

26 January 2011

How to win

Insurgents win through the people.  Gaining legitimacy either through reforming the current government or replacing it.  Which brings us first to the skies above Korea and then to the mountains of Afghanistan before ending in Massachusetts.  Col. Boyd was a fighter pilot in Korea and the man who termed the phrase "OODA Loop".  If you don't know what an OODA loop is, go Google.

Col. Boyd noted that American F-86's were shooting down Russian Mig-15's at about a 3:1 kill to loss ratio.  When Col. Boyd started looking for WHY that was, he eliminated pilot skill by comparing Russian Pilots and American Pilot kill ratios against the Luftwaffe in WWII, and the ratios were essentially the same.

So why were they different over the Korean peninsula?

As he continued his investigation Col. Boyd found that the cockpit of the Mig-15 has a very limited view and the pilot can not see behind him at all.  In comparison with the F-86 which had a great big bubble canopy providing excellent observation.  And while the engine on the Mig was more powerful, giving it an altitude advantage, the hydraulics were better on the F-86, giving it a slight maneuverability advantage.

Col. Boyd wrote about how hard it was to bring down Migs even with the six 50 caliber machine guns on the Saber, but as long as the pilot could use his maneuverability advantage to get where the Mig pilot couldn't see, eventually any decision the Mig pilot made would be irrelevant to the outcome of the dogfight.  The very minor detail of cockpit design from an engineering standpoint became a very significant tactical advantage.

Facing a modern government insurgent have to be masters of "fast cycle" operations to stay inside of the OODA loop of the .gov.  In the movie "The Next Three Days" Russel Crowe writes 15 and 35 on his wrist to remind him how long it will take the .gov to shut down the city center and then the city periphery.  This is a very good example of a concrete reminder of the short reaction time that someone seeking to do something of which the .gov disapproves has to successfully complete their operation.

Now back to an insurgency.  Fast cycle operations have to be complete before all the technological might of the .gov can be brought to bear.  Short, quick, raids are a good example.  As are IED attacks.  Something that causes the .gov to go "huh?" and commit assets to respond.  Insurgents have to be gone before the UAV/Helicopter/Spyplane flies overhead and begins directing the movement and maneuver of ground forces.

Fast cycle attacks are what Al Quaeda and Taliban forces are conducting in Afghanistan.  We have lost more Soldiers there in the last two years than all the years under Bush combined.  This is because an Insurgent will win simply by staying on the battlefield, and President Obama has already committed to a timeline for withdrawal.  It is now a race between US Forces to train the Afghan Security Forces to do their job quicker than the bad guys can tear down the progress.

Slow cycle operations are things that take years of recon to end in a day of disaster.  Think USS Cole and 9/11 for examples.  On a different front, think "Heller" and "McDonald", years of work for one day of victory giving a *hopefully* lasting reform.

Let's go to Tucson for a moment.  What did the mainstream media, and even the local sheriff blame for the shooting right away?  Conservative rhetoric.  By blaming conservative ideology they tried to equate the Tea Party as an insurgent group and Sarah Palin as the leader.  The sad fact is that they their lies make their point a truth, that conservatives looking to reform the government are in fact a reformist insurgency.

And currently everything is still legal.  No one has resorted to shooting, bombing, kidnapping, murdering, demolishing, poisoning, or terrorism.  So far it has been people on the internet and alternative media writing, organizing, and working within the system to change it.

However when the police of Arlington Massachusetts confiscated Travis Corcoran's property and firearms license without charging him with a crime, the rules of the game were fundamentally changed.  By protesting an overarching government that trashes the Constitution Travis had the government respond in violation of the Constitution.

When the .gov responds, it's for real.  Will the next battle be in the courts?  Or will the next battle be on the streets?  I hope it is in the courts, and I pray we win.

25 January 2011

Misleading numbers

So the Washington Pissed in their continuing pro-gun control series has taken data from the State of Virginia and proclaimed it the ultimate truth that the AWB kept "high capacity" magazines out of the hands of criminals.

Without ever looking at the actual crime stats.

Considering that the violent crime rate in Virginia was unaffected by the AWB it stands to reason that the reduced number of criminals being apprehended with normal capacity magazines is simply due to market forces, and that since the violent crime rate went down the availability of normal capacity magazines has no deterrent effect on violent crime.

Though the Washington Pissed tries to make the argument that more bullets in a magazine equals more bodies on the ground they end up resorting to anecdotes.  Remember kids, the plural of anecdote is not data.

So, to sum up, one source of data (and I don't have any problem with their data), a couple anecdotes, and some leftist logic later you have the Washington Pissed lobbying for more restrictions on firearms.  A google search for Alice Crites and staff writer Sari Horwitz turns up a long list of articles that bemoan the lack of government power to "stop the violence" or "track the guns".

In fact Alice Crites and Sari Horwitz have a long history of ignoring facts and spinning data to fit an agenda.  Remember, layers and layers of editorial oversight....

The fact that they don't want to talk about VIOLENT CRIME, only number of normal capacity magazines seized should tell you everything you need to know.  An article like this is really all about "the dog that didn't bark".

5 types of insurgents

A successful insurgency has all of these in the mix.

1. Leaders
2. Fighters
3. Trainers
4. Supporters
5. Recruiters

Leaders can be anything from the guy who wrote the plan to the team leader that carries out an attack.  These are the people that provide vision (strategic leadership), specific area goals (operational leadership) and specific unit actions (tactical leadership).  Our own Revolutionary War saw publications by Thomas Paine such as Common Sense provide a strategic vision for America.  George Washington was placed in charge of Operations for the Continental Army, and he provided Operational leadership, holding a rather ragtag militia and forging them into a fighting force.  Men like Francis Marion focused on tactical leadership, conducting operations that were limited in nature, but aligned with the Operational and Strategic leadership.  It is important to remember that not everyone can be a leader.  Too many leaders fighting for control of the insurgency will cause fragmentation and the .gov will win which is why any leader trying to gain power for him or herself must be eliminated for the insurgency to stay focused on the strategic victory. 

Fighters are those that shoot guns and blow stuff up.  Also fighters conduct the traditional "criminal acts" of insurgents such as assassinations, kidnappings, torture, and extortion.  If use of force is necessary for the accomplishment of an operation, you need fighters capable of doing the job.  A fighter needs to be able to take an order and execute. 

Trainers are those who take recruits without skills and give them the skills to be a fighter, supporter, or recruiter.   Trainers also take fighters, supporters, and recruiters and turn them into trainers in their own right.  Whether it is improvised explosive construction, sniper operations, close quarters battle, bridge demolition, every skill needs someone who can pass it on.  Even supporters need to know how to set up a safe house, how to hide and cache supplies, how to provide medical care outside normal channels.

Supporters are the most important part of a successful insurgency.  Because they become the sea that the insurgent swims in.  Support can be active or passive.  Passive support is a win for the insurgent, it allows freedom of movement.  Active support can be logistical, medical, moral, and intelligence.  Intelligence is always key to winning.  Right now there is plenty of support for .gov reform in the US.  This doesn't mean that there is support for a shooting insurgency, that all depends on how the .gov cracks down. 

Recruiters sell the undecided on supporting the insurgency.  Turning someone completely undecided into a passive supporter for the insurgent is a win.  Turning a passive supporter into an active supporter is a win.  Turning that individual who has been wronged by the government into a Fighter is a big win.

24 January 2011

Movie Review: "The Next Three Days"

This is the most disturbing movie I have seen in a long time.  Because everything is plausible, the story is very real, and the acting is superb.  If Russel Crowe doesn't get an Oscar nod for this the Academy isn't doing their job.

I went hoping for a classic prison break action film but instead got an emotional drama.  Instead of focusing on how an innocent person gets locked away they focused on the failure of the appeals process, the failure of police investigators, and the increasing alienation of a man from the system.

During the scenes where Russel Crowe is teaching English, two books come up.  "Don Quixote De La Mancha" by Cervantes and "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Dumas.  The premise is that Don Quixote's refusal to play by the rules of reality and rationality were in fact necessary.

So an otherwise rational man decided to be irrational and break his wife out of prison.  The character struggle between doing what is right and what is necessary made some of the most engaging theater experience that I've ever sat through.  In the end the escape is successful, but success always balances on a fine thread held by razors.

And what disturbs me most is how real everything could be.  How cold and uncaring the bureaucracy that does it's job instead of searching for truth.  How could this movie affect me in such a visceral way when Texas has already executed innocent men?  Our system is supposed to be biased towards letting the guilty go free instead of punishing the innocent.

Have we as a society crossed a boundary where we accept a bureaucracy that is inhuman?

I think we have, and this disturbs me.  While we can change Congressmen every two years, Presidents every four, and Senators every six, we cannot change the Bureaucracy.  This needs to change.

23 January 2011

A poisoned soul

The idea of a "poisoned soul" is pretty universal.  In stories it can be used as a plot device for a saga of redemption, or it can be used to tell the tale of the fall of Lucifer.  The very concept of a poisoned soul, has been on my mind.

But the details of what corrupts has been debated by philosophers through history.  "As you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you."  Nietzsche's take on the subject is probably the most popular.  In literature we have Smeagol turning into Gullem.  Perhaps Tolkein took Gullem from "Ghollem", a soulless monster.  But whatever source you choose, there exists this idea that souls start in a state of innocence or purity and become poisoned or lost through a persons actions.

At the heart of this is "violent and predatory" verses "violent and protective".  But there are those who believe that it isn't the predatory or protective part that poisons the soul, that it is the violent part. 
The impact of your fist on someone also hurts your fist, according to a proverb I read somewhere.

The idea that "spiritual wounds" are caused by violence has taken ground in our culture.  Some have gone so far as "spiritual wounds causes a poisoned soul".  Examples of the "deranged veteran" stories such as "Taxi Driver", "Rambo", or "Apocalypse Now" show how some are willing to create a false link between violence and a damaged soul.

How did we as a culture go from "The Big Red One" to "Taxi Driver"?  From the Greatest Generation celebrating the victory of freedom over oppression in WWII to a public with no coherent concept of sacrifice for the cause of freedom?

Because looking back through the mirror of history, it is easy to see who poisoned their souls.  Not with violence, but with drugs, free love, and undisciplined thoughts.  The men and women who went to Vietnam did come back changed, and some did come back with PTSD, but neither is a symptom of a corrupt soul.  However back home others were corrupting themselves as fast as they could.  Sex is not love, drugs do not expand your consciousness, and having a mind open to all ideas makes it a breeding ground for nonsense.

So thinking about what poisons a soul, I've come up with the following.
It is not violence that corrupts.  It is hate.
It is not righteous anger that corrupts.  It is selfish anger and frustration.
It is not desiring a better job or position that corrupts.  It is refusal to humble yourself to the job you have.
Arrogance corrupts.  Power corrupts. 

Someone who believes that they should be given power over other people has a poisoned soul.  Poisoned with the seductive but fatally flawed belief that one person can make correct decisions for others.  Poisoned with the arrogance to believe that by simple virtue of who they are that they should be obeyed.
 I am very thankful that I work in a job where there is never absolute power.  That no matter how much rank someone wears our actions are accountable to the citizens of the U.S.  Even beyond any individual faith and accountability to God, we are always under the microscope.

This breeds a lot of self reflection.  This is not always productive, but it is generally helpful in avoiding actions that would poison your soul.  The attitude of a servant has been most helpful for me.  By focusing on the welfare of my men I focus instead on their loved ones.  If you love your men you train hard as a unit so that everyone can come home.  If you love your men you will work hard to ensure they never lack for intelligence or supplies.  Working to bring those men home is a tough job, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

22 January 2011

The Reformist Insurgency in English Speaking Nations

The Civil Rights Movement in the US and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa followed a similar sequence of events.  The rise of Indian independence also followed a similar script.

This is the history of "reform insurgents" in a portion of the English Speaking World.

People got organized and began airing grievances.
Then the .gov cracked down.
Then the reformist insurgents gained popular support.
Then the .gov adopted the reforms.

Martin Luther King is now hailed as a civil rights hero, along with Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.  These insurgencies were won by putting the abuses of the .gov on the front page of newspapers and on the evening news.

A larger take away is that a reformist can significantly alter an existing system.  I believe that most American's support the ideals of less government, more individual freedom and responsibility, and a return to the guiding principles of liberty.  But when was the last time a video clip of a police officer attacking an American Citizen for simply having a camera was played on the evening news?  When was the last time a protest was staged outside a Senators office demanding the dismantling of the TSA?

At the local, state, and federal level law enforcement has been trampling on the rights of American citizens and getting away with it.  Always with the excuse of "erring on the side of protecting the public from a suspicious individual". 

Our insurgency needs to draw public outrage from government abuses in order to avoid violence.  Enough outrage to demand reforms.  The Tea Party is a nice start, but so far I'm none too impressed with this Congress.  I do not have a crystal ball, but I think that the lack of public support for the Open Carry movement is indicative that while Americans agree with personal liberty, they have been brainwashed into believing that the .gov knows best about matters of law and security.

And that scares me.  Because when the public becomes truly aware of the lack of .gov ability to actually provide security it will be too late to do anything about it it in a non-violent manner. 

But getting back to the insurgency,

The internet has allowed us to air our grievances in public.
The .gov has started to crack down, TJIC.  With no charges filed his property was confiscated.
We have entered the real propaganda war.  We need to tell the story of the violation of rights for a non-violent man who happens to have a dark sense of humor instead of a police success in disarming a "potential assassin". 

If we fail to gain popular support the peaceful option will have failed.  But if the past is an indicator of the future, TJIC will be only the first of many.  And things have to get worse before they get better.

21 January 2011

My sons

I have been feeling guilty.  I thought it was because my operations order was ripped to shreds today, but that doesn't seem to be it.  I think it is because I am geographically separated from my family.

My elder son P really has three modes.  First is happy.  P is happy most of the time.  Second mode is meltdown.  This is what happens when P runs out of happy.  After meltdown comes collapse and sleep.  P goes to sleep and then wakes up happy again.  Meltdowns are generally very short.  P knows enough sign language to communicate his needs and wants clearly.  I miss him terribly.

I knew that my family needed me, but I underestimated exactly how much I need my family. 

I have not yet met my younger son M.  But he is going on three weeks old now.  He has put on some weight and looks like a darker version of P at that age.  I wonder if M will grow curly hair like P?

Who knows.  Parenthood is really much different than I thought it would be.  With my wife doing all the work all I can do is feel guilty about not being there.  Every day I'm apart is a day I can never get back.  Some people say that kids get fun when they are a little older.  I guess that may be true to some extent, but right now my kids are just awesome.  Every new discovery, every tickle and belly raspberry. 

P and I played a little game.  We would start in the bedroom and I would sneak out to the kitchen.  P would try to keep up, but I would outdistance him and circle back around through the hallway and come up behind him.  When he realized that Daddy WAS in front of him but is now BEHIND him he would turn around and laugh as I picked him up into a bear hug and carried him back to the bedroom to begin the game all over again. 

So it may be true that kids are a little more fun when they are a little older.  For my sons sake I hope they think Daddy is a lot more fun now when they are a little older.

The Streisand Effect and Insurgency.

With the .gov crackdown on TJIC there is now a conversation taking place about violence in speech verses violence in action.

And it is a conversation that the Leftists and Statists really don't want us to be having.  Because the only possible conclusion to this conversation is that violent speech is necessary for liberty, and when a government cracks down on violent speech with violent actions then it is morally justified and even required that a violent resistance respond.

Of course the Left is all about "dialogue" as long as it fits in with their monologue.  The right, Repubs, repubs, Libertarians, libertarians, Anarchists, anarchists, and reconstructionists have no problem with a true dialogue.

After all, here we are talking on my blog about violence against the State in response to violence by the State against a citizen.  If self defense is truly an inalienable human right, then defending oneself against the state is a moral act.  If a government can make the case to "preemptively" attack, then why should anyone expect private citizens to not "preemptively" attack the Government?

So the left doesn't want a dialogue.  The Left wants "violent rhetoric" outlawed, so that only outlaws will use violent rhetoric.  But Barbara Streisand didn't want the location of her home posted on the internet... and that very act of trying to get things her way caused "The Streisand Effect" as we know it.

The very act of censorship by the .gov brings the censored subject further into real debate.  I'll be honest, I don't read every gunblog out there, can't do it don't have time, and while I hopped over to TJICistan fairly regularly, the news that he'd been shut down came from other bloggers.

The Left always talks about "solidarity" with other causes.  There is talk of a "buycott" for Travis' businesses: HeavyInk and SmartFlix.  So to put my money where my fingers are, I've got an older Bro with a birthday coming up who has a fondness for Batman comics.

UPDATE:  Picked up the graphic novel about Shepherd Book for my bro.  Browncoats have to stick together.

How the Gov responds to an insurgent.

The .gov responds to an insurgent in this manner.

1. Identify location.
2. Isolate that location.
3. Kill/Capture/Exploit Insurgent.

There are quite a bit more steps between 1, 2 and 3, but for all intents and purposes those are the three main activities that will end your life and/or freedom.

However, there are things you CAN do if you are identified.  You can "go to ground", you can set up a spoiling attack on the likely avenue of approach, you can turn your area of operation into one big bomb for the feds to walk into.  But key to all of this is that you are ACTING on the knowledge that you have been identified and not REACTING to a tactical team kicking down your door.

Because once you have been isolated, your options shrink down to "slim to none".  You can still fight if you figure out you've been isolated prior to being kill/capture/exploited, you can commit suicide if you know you might talk and put others into harms way, you can possibly even call for reinforcements if you get a signal out in time.  But unless you can fight or sneak your way through a picket line you are pretty well screwed.

Once you've been captured then the only thing you can do is resist to the best of your ability. 

Exploitation comes from the intel they gather from you, either through your belongings such as your computer, or from intel you let spill during interrogation.

So how do you figure out you've been identified?  Your gut is your best friend on this one.  Call it "intuition" if you want.  I say it is your subconscious mind sorting through the thousands of details that have suddenly shifted of which you are not consciously aware. 

So, have a "go to ground" plan.  Have alternate avenues of escape, and don't tell anyone where they are.  Stash "bug out" supplies outside of your base of operations.  Know the avenues of approach to your area, and exploit that knowledge.

Remember that .gov always has the high ground, and trees aren't even concealment from the high ground.  So if you have to run, make sure you can get somewhere out from under open sky. 

20 January 2011

Acknowledging truth, questioning values

Penn Gillette was skewered for his honesty regarding why he hasn't skewered Islam.

Because he and Teller have families.  Acknowledging that in his life there exists something more important than intellectual honesty to him. 

Now others have skewered Penn for having the courage to speak his mind.  But when you think about it clearly, it means that the tactics of intimidation and murder work at least to silence some dissent.

There are others who have taken the courageous stance to attack Islam and expose the unsavory parts.  And some of them have been murdered.  Others have gone into hiding.  Including an author and a cartoonist who made a flip comment about "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day!".

Machiavelli might have been on to something when he said "It is better to be feared than loved."

And while I have issues with Saudi Arabian money being funneled to militant groups, the Government of Saudi Arabia is running a campaign with the slogan "Terror Has No Religion" in an attempt to pull public support for terrorists.  And the terrorists have been attacking the Saudi government with regularity for quite a while now. 

But think about that terror.  Is it a legitimate tactic for an Insurgency?  Is kidnapping the children of a Police Chief worth the effect of having the heat pulled off the insurgent cells?  

I guess that depends whether the Police Chief is like Penn Gillette or like Geert Wilders.  Some people will not bend or yield.  Others will. 

I bring this up because my wife commented about my last quote, and the very real consequences of losing my job.  I know that I do not have true freedom of speech, that I am barred from joining or forming a militia, that the UCMJ effectively dictates a very narrow path of legality.

Am I allowed to be outraged and express that feeling at the flagrant disregard for civil liberties in this country?  Click on "Photography is not a Crime" on the sidebar to see other insane abuses of the 1st Amendment rights of citizens.

I don't just want gun rights, I want ALL of them, the whole lock stock and barrel (to use a gun term).  If I lose my job I would lose a lot, healthcare for my wife and children, my pension, and life would get a lot tougher very quickly.  Even with enough money in the bank to last six months there is no guarantee that I could find a job in that time in our current economy.

But more than economic security I want my sons to grow into real men, who live in a world that values the free exchange of ideas.  Even scary ideas.  Is that just justification I use to say what is on my mind?  Or am I truly clinging to the values and morals that are right and just?

Either way, I want my sons to have freedom.  And if I am a little extreme in this sometimes, I hope that my fellow citizens will forgive should I ever be tried by twelve.

The Government Cracks down on the Insurgency.

1 Down 543 to go.

Those are the words, protected by the 1st Amendment, that prompted the State of Massachusetts to violate the 2nd and 4th Amendment rights of a fellow blogger.

When the Government does not follow the rules it becomes a tyranny.  But when the government went after Randy Weaver did they send the local Sheriff to say, "Hey Randy, you missed your court date, come down and reschedule."

No, they sent a "tactical team" that shot his wife in the head while she held an infant.  That is the face of Government.  A soulless beast populated by soulless people addicted to power who will shoot unarmed women and children.

So given Hobson's Choice between death by the state for exercising your rights, or death by the state for trying to preserve your rights, shoot back.

Because tyrants need to be shot.  Repeatedly.  Until they die from it.

So maybe a tyrant will come to take my guns or life now.  Who knows?

And you know why they crack down so quickly and so hard on gun bloggers, libertarians, and social conservatives?  Because our threats are credible, backed by deadly skill with firearms.  This is why the jackholes carrying "Arrest Me I'm here to kill Bush" signs are never arrested.

Count the Lies

From progressive.org...

The assault weapons ban outlawed semi-automatic pistols and shotguns with a fixed capacity of more than five rounds. Across the country, the NRA targeted Democrats who voted for it, helping to usher in the Republican Congress of 1994.
Today, the group is focused on the threat of a ban on gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.
In the NRA's weird world, having a gun that shoots more than ten rounds at a time--and being able to buy such a weapon without a background check--is a fundamental, Constitutional right: "These magazines are standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of Americans," the NRA declares. "Law-abiding private citizens choose them for many reasons, including the same reason police officers do: to improve their odds in defensive situations."

To argue that guns don't kill people, or that it makes no difference whether crazed citizens cut loose with letter openers or grenade launchers (one of the banned items in the now-defunct assault weapons ban), is completely absurd.


The AWB did not ban semi automatic pistols or shotguns.
No one can buy a semi auto pistol without a background check, and no one is doing away with NICS checks or form 4473.

"Progressives" can't tell the truth.

Let me rewrite that....


The AWB banned certain scary features on rifles and made 10 round "Clinton Clips" the maximum limit for new magazines and had no discernible effect on crime.  In the NRA's reality further restriction of a specifically enumerated right is not needed as the current realm of legislation has every mechanism needed to keep firearms out of the hands of would be assassins such as Loughner or Cho.  That State Governments do not report mental health concerns and arrests for drug use to the FBI to cause would-be-assassins to fail the NICS check is not an excuse to further restrict the rights of all citizens.
To argue that guns don't save lives in light of the historical slaughtering of the minority Hutu people with machetes is ludicrous.  To ignore the home made bombs of the IRA and other effective terrorist organizations would simply be an attempt by this journalist to paint guns as the sole lethal option available to would be assassins such as Guy Fawkes.


Fixed it for ya.

19 January 2011

Sunspots

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/18/nasa-sunspot-number-predictions-revised-again/#more-31931

Seems like I may have a better chance than 50:50 about sea ice formation this year.  I wonder what five years will bring?

Hat Tip to Firehand.

17 January 2011

Arctic Sea Ice minimums

What do Arctic Sea Ice Minimums tell us?

Well, first it tells us that Polar Bears swim in the summer.  At least in Alaska.

Let's look at a few more years.
That is year to year variation, those two pictures look a lot different don't they?

Let's keep looking.
Well now, that looks different too.

How about more data?

So that was last year, and while the projected median ice range calculated for 1979-2000 is larger than all present, we aren't seeing much of a pattern in year to year variation.  These last few years have varied in size, shape, and area.

But let's take a look at what the sea ice looks like now.

Based on the data available I cannot see the claim that the summer minimum is important to winter maximums.  Right now this winters sea ice is being declared as "dangerously low" because of the lack of sea ice.  I wish I could give you pictures of past December sea ice levels, but not surprisingly the "scientific" place where I get these photos from only shows photos that fit the narrative.  So all the photos available will show "below average" sea ice levels.  Seriously, can't find any photos from December for any other year.

I had to go to the Goddard Space Center at nasa.gov to find this little gem "Sea ice coverage over the Arctic Ocean oscillates over the course of a year, growing through winter and reaching a maximum extent by February or March. This year, Arctic sea ice grew to levels beyond those measured in recent years but slightly below average when compared to the 30-year satellite record."

Which means that during a freeze, the Arctic can gain back what it has lost, or lose what it has gained.  Hence the "averaging" thing.  Thirty years of satellite data is nice, but we knew that we have been in a warming trend since about 1975.  This makes the "shrinking sea ice" minimums something that we don't really need to worry about.  Since there is still "chaos in the system" I bet that the 2011 Sea Ice maximum will be greater than that of 2010.  Seriously I have a 50:50 chance on this bet, and given the worldwide cold snap that caused unexpected growth of sea ice this fall I think we have a fairly good chance of getting some good formation going.

Successful Insurgents... a thought experiment

I've been thinking about what the US would look like if we had a shooting insurgency here.  Having been lectured at length last week on the history of insurgencies this has been mulling over in my mind and marinating.  Currently there exists in the US an information insurgency, and while that never lead to a shooting insurgency in the USSR that doesn't mean it won't here.  So without further ado, here is what has been on my mind.

Historically insurgents are successful when the following conditions are met.

1. Organized into operational, training, and support cells and follow Mao's three phase plan.
2. Receive outside assistance in the form of logistics and possibly training.
3. The government in power is stressed through a foreign war or internal division.  This last condition is key.

So we have a recipe for success for insurgents, what causes insurgents to fail?

1. Don't win over the population to their cause.  Either through being too violent or not having a coherent message.  Hint: you get more props from the civilians by blowing up a tax center instead of a nightclub.
2. Engage in direct action against the government while the Government is strong enough to fight back. Violating Mao's three phase plan.  Don't go toe to toe with Goliath, remember asymmetric warfare can be against equipment and infrastructure.
3. Become too organized and end up being infiltrated by agents of the state.  See the ATF infiltration of motorcycle gangs.

So right now the American Insurgency is hardly organized at all, and this is a good thing actually.  It means that those who look to change government still feel that they can work within the system somewhat.

Outside support?  Who would help the American Insurgent?  Most likely China and Russia of all countries.  Don't forget that the US government had no problem assisting Communist insurgents when it suited them to oppose the Axis powers in WWII.  This unfortunately set the stage for a bunch of Communist revolutions in the late 40's and 50's.  China and Russia would both gain economically and militarily from a US weakened through internal strife.  Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Stressed Government?  Right now the FedGov is bloated with personnel.  The chopping block is coming for the military in the name of fiscal sanity.  What does this really do?  It makes a more professional military as units "shake the blanket" and get rid of the dead weight.  Don't expect the Army to become less proficient as it gets smaller, expect it to become more effective as only the dedicated stick around.  The good news is that there are less than half the number of active duty Soldiers in the US as their are law enforcement officers, so military intervention would have to be geographically concentrated.  Even with total mobilization of the National guard concentration around population centers would be the norm.  If the government was forced to completely mobilize the Guard, this would be an economic victory, the insurgency could simply lay low while the FedGov spent money hand over fist to keep security forces active.

Also don't expect the US Military to be an "occupying force" in any early stage of an insurgency.  Expect the historical model of sending the FBI and ATF to handle domestic issues.  The FBI and ATF will likely request military support in their operations though. 

The fate of the insurgents in Iraq can teach us a lot.  The insurgency was never "defeated" so much as "absorbed" by the Iraqi government.  The doubling down of US Forces in the Surge allowed the elected government the power to respond and maintain legitimacy.  However, foreign power deployed to the US would probably be a hard sell to the American public, so I wouldn't expect blue hatted UN troops unless it is the last gasp of government.

One of the things that insurgents do is provide a "shadow government" that directly competes with the legitimate government until they can kill enough government leadership to take over entirely.  Who would an American Insurgent have to kill to provide a shadow government?  How many night letters would have to be placed on the doors of local police to prevent arrests of local insurgents?  How many cops would have to die to give weight to night letters?  How many tax collectors would have to die?  How many tax centers would have to blown up?

I don't know, the US is a big place, and predicting the future based on the past is always tricky.  History really doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Comments welcome.

16 January 2011

From an idiot at Salon

Saul Cornell, an academic who my know something about the history of gun control is out of touch with the history of violence, wrote this:

Rather than simply banning handguns, an unpopular policy in most parts of the country, the new research suggests a more targeted strategy, with the primary goals being to prevent guns from moving into the black market and to restrict the access of dangerous people -- including those with mental illness -- to firearms. Rather than ban handguns, the new model only uses bans for a very narrow range of particularly dangerous items not essential for sport or individual self-defense: high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons and a few highly unusual weapons such as sniper rifles.

Ok, not only does this violate the "it's the eleventh murder that bothers me" logical fallacy but it also calls sniper rifles "highly unusual".  Also the idea of "necessity" for "sport or self defense" is laughable.

Up until 1985 the standard military sidearm was the 1911 pistol with a 7 round magazine.  We went through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Grenada and until the M9 was completely phased in, Panama and Desert Storm.

One of the big complaints by the anti's is that civilians don't need "military style weapons with their increased lethality".  The 1911 pistol was a military style weapon, and it has never been singled out for a ban.

The screed against "sniper rifles" is simply stupid.  Any rifle capable of 2 minutes of accuracy (which is damn near all of them) is more than capable of being used in a sniper role.  From Grandpa's 30-06 to uncle Bill's 30-30, these rifles can turn someones head into red mist several hundred yards away.

Because how do you define "sniper rifle"?  Is it "a rifle of extreme accuracy"?  Or is it a rifle containing three or more of the following features: capable of mounting a scope or target grade iron sights, free floated barrel, weighs more than 9 lbs, chambered in a "military" caliber, capable of attaching a bipod, adjustable cheekpiece or length of pull.  I only say this because this was how "assault weapon" was defined for the AWB, and that didn't do anyone any good.

So if grandpa has a Remingon 700, arguably the most popular deer rifle in America, chambered in 30-06 topped with a Leupold 3-9x40 scope, he has a "sniper rifle" because the forward sling stud is capable of accepting a bipod.  For that matter Uncle Bill's lever action 30-30 meets the same criteria, capable of attaching scope or precision irons, capable of attaching a bipod, and chambered in a "military" caliber because the 30-30 was issued to certain Navy units in WWII.

So Saul, fuck you.  I hope you choke on your sanctimonious bile.  "Sniper rifles" no matter how you try to define them, are so common that you cannot make the case that they are "unusual" in any sense of the word.  High capacity magazines are not the issue.  And trying to control the black market?  Do you realize that in Australia the cops busted an UNDERGROUND WEAPONS FACTORY manufacturing MACHINE GUNS because even the black market recognizes supply and demand?

Sweet shivering Shiva on a pogo stick, the idea that only legitimate companies can manufacture firearms, or that smugglers from other countries won't supply the demand is simply asinine (here's a hint Sherlock, the UK is a fucking island and they haven't been able to stop the flow of handguns).  How can he breath with his head so far up his ass?

Seriously this is "Underpants Gnomes" logic all over again.
1. Ban high capacity magazines and sniper rifles
2. ?
3. UTOPIA!!!!

15 January 2011

Insurgency

We are already in an American Insurgency.  The difference between a dissident and an insurgent is a fine one.  I will say that the difference is the response of the government in question.  If the government tries to crack down on it, it is an insurgency.  If the government allows it, it is dissent. 

Now as far as an American Insurgency I'm not talking about Loughner and his insanity but the government response to it.  Government taking the actions of a crazy person to legally limit the speech of citizens.  I'm talking about the insurgency against big media and for government reform.  I will use Martial Language here because it is only appropriate, and quite frankly the situation demands accurate descriptions.

But first, let us take a look at some history.

The Assault Weapons Ban turned a rather mild mannered engineer into a competitive pistol shooter and Boomershoot Guy.  That is a private citizens response to government oppression.  So far Joe has been such a stickler for playing by the governments rules that he has avoided the heavy boot of oppression. 

The bottom line is this, if the FedGov wants you in jail, you have already done something to get put in jail.  Whenever the FedGov can spin the media to point out the citizen as a bad guy and then go through his/her life with the limitless resources of the State, they will find something and use it.

So I admire Joe for his courage, he has put himself at a position of risk that I personally haven't done.  I blog rather anonymously because of my position as a Soldier.  I have quite frankly given up some of the first amendment protections that private citizens have.

At the fall of the Soviet Union there was not an armed uprising, but there was a low level media insurgency for decades in the form of Samizdat where the Powers That Be tried to completely control media.  Not just mass media, but all forms from poetry, novels, and political tracts. 

If you don't think that the FedGov tries to silence dissent, look at what has happened to Len Savage in the form of bureaucratic sluggishness from the ATF.  Evidently acting as an expert witness in a few cases that the ATF loses will cause you to get put on their crap list.

So we have a nearly monolithic media owned by the leftYou can tell if someone is a leftist because they will argue this point until they are blue in the face.  Unfortunately for them both Harvard and UCLA have done studies on journalism bias in the US, and each university found a leftist bias.  Both Harvard and UCLA are very liberal schools, so it is only rare intellectual honest that allows them to report their findings accurately.  It is intellectual dishonesty on the part of Big Media to not clean house and get back to the true purpose of reporting.  To tell, not to advocate.

The reason for freedom of the press in the US is not to advocate on behalf of government.  However throughout the history of the US those in power found that controlling public opinion was a drug too addictive to give up.  The hate and spite directed against FoxNews are simply the rantings of a drug addict as he vigorously defends his belief that he doesn't have a problem. 

Remember the problem with Talk Radio in the early 90's?  Here is a snippet from The Center for American Progress about talk radio: Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.

The solution to losing control of that media source is of course: MORE GOVERNMENT.  AM radio was dead prior to the repeal of the "fairness doctrine" in 1987.  As restrictive regulations were done away with, that particular media source was allowed to meet market demands and we ended up with Rush Limbaugh spouting his politics on a national level.  I have no doubt about the impact of Rush Limbaugh on the 1994 Republican Revolution.  This is why the Left is still intent on the "fairness doctrine" instead of allowing the market to decide who is on the air, and now on the internet. 

Without control of the media the Left cannot control the public, and it scares the crap out of them.  They still control the schools.  However when a teachers preaches one thing but alternative sources of information are available we begin to see people using their brains.  Without the ability of people like Rush Limbaugh, and even Billy Beck, to put their words into a medium that is accessible to anyone with a radio or internet access, the Left would completely dominate schools and media to effectively indoctrinate the youth of the nation.

The most worrisome legislation, and backdoor regulation of the internet, is the idea of "Net Neutrality".  So far there has been no significant need for any net neutrality because of any censorship.  The net automatically routes around censorship as if it were damage to the network. 

If you are reading this, and you agree with these words, welcome to the insurgency.  I may not be asking you to smash windows like Dutchman6, or take the Oath Keeper pledge, but I am asking you to fight to keep the flow of information in the power of the people.  Because right now members of Congress are considering whether or not to further limit speech by outlawing "martial rhetoric".  This is just further proof that we are in an insurgency, because when the government seeks to limit the ability of the insurgent they have openly declared war.

This is not a Dem/Repub issue, this is a freedom issue.  And one mans insurgent is another's Freedom Fighter.  Now I'm not saying that this will end up in a shooting war, with IED's blowing up UN tanks and anything like that.  I am saying that like the USSR, things can turn around in the blink of an eye and we need to be prepared to capitalize on that the same way the Left is trying to capitalize on the attempted murder of Rep. Gifford.

Alan Turing: Blade Runner

The man who came up with the default test for intelligence didn't come up with a test for emotional responses. In "Blade Runner" the test for "replicants" is based on physiological responses for emotion.

The biggest problem is that it is clear that "replicants" do in fact have emotions based on the very premise of the movie.  And knowing what we know about the range of emotions in "normal" people, it is clear that looking for "abnormal" is a lot trickier than thirty to forty questions about turtles on their backs or a child's butterfly collection.

Now there are "universal responses" in humans.  Anger, fear, and unease all have certain physiological signs.  However these are hardly a way to test for humanity, given that those base responses truly are universal.  If somehow the replicants were not genetically engineered beings (and the conversation between Roy and Tyrell makes it clear that they are) then approach taken by Blade Runners to identify replicants would be valid.

Unfortunately that is not the case.  On the flip side, it makes for more interesting viewing than seeing Decker take a blood sample to identify by genetics.  Much more dialogue with the flawed test.

The real question is where we draw the line about humanity.  As the character Rachel showed, with an emotional framework even a replicant could provide the "correct" responses to the emotional stimulus test.  However, that damned genetic test makes the whole premise of a replicant passing as a human a moot point. 

In a broader context "Blade Runner" and "Millenium Man" are almost the same movie.  What truly makes us human, and what truly makes humanity worthy to lord over it's own creations.  If you liked "Blade Runner", consider watching "Appleseed" to see the flip side of the premise, what happens when the synthetic beings are in charge?

13 January 2011

Economic Collapse of the Soviet Union, a lesson about currency.

The Soviet Union collapsed due to a number of factors.  But all those factors were merely setting the stage for a fall in oil prices to undermine the Soviet economy.  Right now the US economic model requires oil imports, so the important lesson to learn is that no matter how big something is, the basics always apply.

The Soviet Union relied on a model for exporting expensive oil to import cheap wheat.  When the price of oil dropped and the price of wheat rose, that economic model no worked and while North Korea proves that "all nations are three meals away from revolution", without that economic turn to spur change nothing would have happened to the USSR.

On the flip side, the current US economy is sluggish, despite a huge rise in commodities prices for agricultural products; wheat, soy, corn, etc.  Since the US is a huge exporter of these commodities this should be good for us right?  It is not.  Instead of rising prices reflecting increased demand, I see rising prices as a devaluation of the dollar.  There aren't fundamentally more people eating food on the planet, and there wasn't a huge technical leap to turn corn into gasoline.  The rising prices of commodities do not reflect supply and demand, only lack of faith in the dollar as investors look to put their money into something that has intrinsic value instead of only a monetary value.

Why is this?  First off we continue to see the dollar deteriorate because money is being printed nilly willy.  See the Weimar Republic's problem of simply printing money to pay debt.  The "roaring twenties" in the US were not the roaring twenties in Germany.  When the signs of recovery were looking good the stock market crashed and caused US banks to start pulling in short term loans that had been fueling the German recovery.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Right now the idea of "Too Big To Fail" is still running around as both Republican and Democratic administrations have bailed out large financial institutions in a misguided attempt to stop the bleeding.

The very basis of the economy are farmers and miners.  These are the two places that input material into the economic machine.  Everything else is simply extra bells and whistles on the machine.  The collapse of "Credit Default Swaps" and "Mortgage Backed Securities" are economic activities far removed from food or materials generation.

What those "financial services" can do is muck up the process by degrading confidence in currency as a means of turning a seed in Iowa into a microchip in Silicon Valley.  Currency is simply the oil in the machine that keeps things moving.  When there is no lubrication machinery seizes, a simple allegory but it holds true.  Farmers and miners input into the economy, but the bulk of the economic machine is dedicated to turning something into something else.  Companies create by writing software, turning ore into ingots, turning ingots into sheets, and turning sheets into ships and airplanes.  Or turning sand into silicon and silicon into microprocessors.  The loans to start up business, profits from business, ultimately lead to on time payments of currency.  This is the economic model that we want.

I am not a big fan of regulation, but it is really important right now to understand the difference between "rich" and "wealthy".  Wealth is not dependent on a particular currency.  Wealth is an asset or collection of assets that can provide income regardless of medium of exchange.

Rich is having a lot of money.  Money is only a method to transfer assets.  Money is never an asset in and of itself.  A million quadrillion fofillion dollars doesn't do you any good if you have no one willing to give up a loaf of bread in exchange for your otherwise worthless paper.

And that is the problem with rising commodities prices, it is really a devaluation of currency.  People are putting their money into the basics, this is because there is a fundamental lack of confidence in our currency.  Right now the bond market is getting a serious downgrade as Moody internalizes the lesson from the Mortgage Backed Security fiasco, that anything can fail.  Historically mortgages were the safest bet, but they failed because everyone knew that they were a safe bet.  Now everyone knows that safe bets are not so safe.  So their money is going back into the basics.

But back to regulation, you can't effectively regulate an economy.  Money "has to be made" in order for markets to work, and you cannot stop the free market from working, even if it has to go to a barter economy and black market to exist.  So financial regulation needs to streamline the machine, allow the oil to flow and lubricate.

But what?  The purpose of the machine is to take inputs and provide outputs.  Any financial transaction that is not directly involved with a physical commodity needs to be heavily regulated, for example, selling debt on a secondary market.  If Bank A found person or business X an entity worthy of extending credit to, why in the heck are they trying to sell that debt if they aren't trying to leave someone else holding the bag?

So small business and personal loans good.  Selling debt between banks bad.  Bundling debts into "securities" equals really bad.  "Leveraging Assets" is horribly bad, how the heck can you lend more money than you have?  When the music stops and you can't sell the debt to some sucker you go under, see Silver State Mortgage.

I am not an economist, don't play one on TV, and didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  But I do know a thing or two about keeping complex systems going.  But the bottom line solution is this, hold financial institutions to the risk that they allow themselves to get into by not allowing the selling of debt on a secondary market.  You know why this is a good idea?  You can't sell a mortgage to a house that doesn't have electricity (I know, strange law).  The small banks that have held the mortgages for Amish farmers are still doing well because they screened applicants because they had to hold onto that debt. 

And that is what will keep the economy going, and not at a breakneck pace either.  By not allowing institutions or people to pass off risk.  Because right now we are looking at "Japan's Lost Decade" as a best case scenario.  Worst case scenario is hyperinflation, as happened in Germany, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, etc.

Because as some politician said, "The Fundamentals of the Economy are Sound" remains to be true.  But over regulation of business is killing the input side, and lack of regulation of big finance has stalled the machine.  Allowing the bells and whistles of the economy to become so far removed from any sort of reality has consequences, and now we are feeling them, and will be for some time.  Economy stalls, business can't pay back a loan, lays off employee who now can't pay the mortgage, causes mortgage backed securities to fail, causing more businesses to not borrow and not grow, leading to less jobs, leading to more unemployment.  Right now the uncertainty of the currency is in a negative feedback loop.

When will it stop?  Don't know.  Don't have a crystal ball for the future, just enough to see the writing on the subway wall of history as our current crop of economic decision makers whistle past the graveyard of history.

12 January 2011

Did You Know?

Netflix has an "Imaginitive Post-Apocalyptic" category?

10 January 2011

Movie Review: The Korean

The Korean is a debut film by Thomas Dixon.  It is a strong first showing and if you can watch this movie without distraction you will probably enjoy it.

The movie starts out with the hero, Lee, being shot.  Then it goes into a non-linear sequence of backstory that ends once again with Lee being shot.  Then it goes back into time and tells the story again in a linear fashion.  So you get to see Lee being shot three times, and by the third time you are pretty sure Lee has something in up his sleeve to survive being shot.

The biggest problem I had with the film is that all the "firearms" were airguns, and obviously so.  Even the "rifle" in the picture was a barrel cocking air rifle, and it was distracting from the overall film.

But if you can put the prop issue aside, it has the linear time feel of "Pi" the character study grittiness of "Ronin" and is much more serious than "Pulp Fiction".  A good comparison would be "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai" with Forest Whitaker.

09 January 2011

What Planet?

Josh Sugarman, increasingly extreme head of the VPC wrote these words: Such rhetoric turns lethal in a nation where anyone with a grudge and a credit card can outfit himself with the most lethal firearms for sale on the civilian market in the world.

OK Josh, what "rhetoric" are you talking about here?  The rhetoric of the batshit crazy mofo who actually shot people?  Because that kid is nuts, in my non-professional opinion.

Also, you do know that machine guns and silencers are perfectly legal and unregulated in other countries?  Right?  Hello?  Bueller? 

Look Josh, do your blood dance and fade into irrelevance.

Rusty

Went to the range last night, and there were three gentlemen "talking smack" to each other as they shot zombie and werewolf targets at 5 yards and less.  It was kind of surreal, I encountered a situation where a racial stereotype was being presented, and found myself thinking that I might be slightly racist for thinking that the stereotype fit the situation.  However it made my shooting experience unpleasant.  I didn't get a box of 45 through the 1911 before I decided the juice wasn't worth the squeeze and checked out.

I might just be old fashioned, but to me the range isn't a place to talk smack.  To me ranges are like libraries, places people go to perfect themselves and learn skills.

On the flip side, I ran my target out to 15 yards and kept trying to shoot small groups.  I never got as small as I would like.  But the three gentlemen kept buying ammo and sending it downrange, more often missing the target than not past 5 yards.  If those three and I ended up defending a strong point in the zombie apocalypse I would take their ammo and use them as bait.

08 January 2011

Zen and the art of not kicking the crap out of a Honda Magna

Yesterday I fired up the Magna after about six weeks.

She started fine, ran fine for about ten miles then the engine seemed to lose power so I pulled off the road and sure enough, the idle was way down, but almost as quickly the rpms rose back to normal and the bike seemed to recover.

I road to a gas station, filled up with fresh gas, and road for another 25 miles to make sure everything was still running ok.

Today the weather wasn't as warm, but still clear and sunny.  Pulled the choke, turned the tank from off to on, and started her up.  Let her sit while I finished putting on my helmet, vest, gloves, and then the idle started to go down, eventually she died.  And now she won't start.  And I'm pissed off.

So what gives?  I swear to God my next bike will be fuel injected.

07 January 2011

Dumb but motivated

"Men are basically smart or dumb and lazy or ambitious. The dumb and ambitious ones are dangerous and I get rid of them. The dumb and lazy ones I give mundane duties. The smart ambitious ones I put on my staff. The smart and lazy ones I make my commanders." attributed to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and a few other German Generals.  If anybody knows who said it first I'd love to know.

This quote made me think of Joan Peterson, who is sure working hard to make sure that legally owned Machine Guns don't end up in Mexico.  She spent a lot of time writing her blog post saying how the "unregulated sale of machine guns and grenade launchers over the internet" could fuel Mexican drug violence...

Except she didn't know anything about the Form 4, mandatory registration, background checks, and tax stamps.

But she sure is working hard to fix a non-existent problem.  I figured that if someone were really passionate about "gun death" they would spend the time to research the laws already on the books to see how they could be improved, not blindly lobby for laws that are already on the boos...

Joan, you are on the board of directors for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership.  You really need to start getting your facts straight before you marginalize even more Americans.  Because, you DON'T have the public on your side, the NRA doesn't issue us talking points, and your organization is in the hole for the exact amount of your President's salary.

04 January 2011

Dear Sons

Dear P, your younger brother was born today.  M is going to probably be your best friend as you grow older.  Watch out for him, remember blood runs thicker than water.  And family is where when you go there they have to take you in.

But I wanted to tell you two somethings about your family, where you come from and all that. 

My father is a machinist, his father was a college professor, and his father before that was park ranger.  I have two brothers, one is a psychologist about to finish his law degree and the other is still working on figuring out his own path in life.  I am a soldier.  I chose my profession because I ran out of resources to go to college so I signed up for four years to get a little wiser and use the GI bill to pay for my bachelors degree.

Well, the GI Bill did pay for my degree, but along the way I found out that I really like being a soldier.  There are very limited opportunities where your job description changes about every year, but the Army is one of them.  Military life is long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief moments of shear terror. 

So as you can see, each generation has followed something unique from the generation before as far back as living memory in my family.  That is why your Mother and I named you after men outside the family.  P, you were named for two British soldiers who created a firearms company, and M you were named after a Marine awarded the Medal of Honor. 

I can only hope that I haven't saddled either of you with unrealistic expectations about growing up to honor a namesake or any such nonsense, I want the two of you to grow up and choose who you want to be.  And be happy about it, masters of your own destiny and captains of your fates.

I love you both, and I can't wait to watch you grow up and meet who you turn out to be.

Dad

Skype

Less than 24 hours after leaving Washington State my wife and I had a Skype video call.  My son saw me on the TV (I have a media computer hooked into the TV) and he seemed fine.

Little guy will change so much in the next two and a half months, I can't wait to meet him again, find out all the new things he does and says.  I'll miss his second birthday, but not by too much.

But here at Fort Benning it is back to nose to the grindstone.  Life has returned to normal, the magic of the holiday season is over.  Really wish it could have lasted a few extra days though.

03 January 2011

Long Commute

I left my wife and son back in the city of Lacey, Washington.

And I am currently at my apartment in Columbus, Georgia.

Last night my son, 22 months old, began throwing a fit, legs kicking, arms waving, voice screaming, head rolling fit, in his car seat when we arrived at SeaTac Airport.  This was a behavior that I had never seen before, it was as if he were telling me "Don't Go Daddy".

But I kissed him on his red little forehead and went back to work.

It isn't the "being gone" that hurts so much, it's the "leaving" that hurts.  Every time. 

But soon my wife will give birth to our second child, and then conditions will be right for us to be together as a family again, even if it is only for a few weeks before I have to "go to work" over in the sandbox.

01 January 2011

Happy New Year

Hope your year kicks ass.