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Recommended Reading

Volokh Conspiracy –Assault Weapons Bans, in the Words of Some of Their Supporters 

….ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquillity of the kind enjoyed in sister democracies like Canada and Britain. Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically. It will probably take one, maybe two generations. It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today.

Largely why gun control people want desperately to short-circuit any serious national debate of the less difficult to solve public safety problem of the small number of dangerously mentally ill people.  Emphasis on practical measures to reduce mass shootings detracts from long range aspirations to impose, not reasonable controls to keep firearms out of improper hands, but eventually de facto prohibition on private gun ownership.

Steve Metz – Strategic Horizons: The Information Battlefield of Live-Cast War

….Recent events give clear signs of this trend. In 2010, a gun camera video clip from an American Apache helicopter in Iraq, taken in 2007, was released on the Internet by the group WikiLeaks. Two journalists from the news agency Reuters had died in the attack. The U.S. military’s investigation found that the helicopter crews had followed correct procedures and had “neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces.” Despite this, the killings added fuel to rumors that U.S. forces in Iraq targeted journalists, further eroding the increasingly fragile public support for the war. 

While this particular tragedy involved the release of a stolen official video, the insurgents in Iraq also live-casted their operations for propaganda and training purposes. Nearly every insurgent attack was posted on the Internet within days, often within hours and sometimes even within minutes. Then the “Arab Spring” revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya saw the live-casting of violence reach new heights. Many of the battles and actions by government forces were broadcast in real time, and others were quickly uploaded to the Internet. War had become a transfixing public spectacle.

Although the live-casting of armed action has become the new norm, policymakers and military leaders have not yet adjusted. The normal American reaction when the ugliness of war becomes public is an investigation and an eventual public release of the findings. Unfortunately, the belief that truth will win out is old-fashioned, even quaint in an era of information profusion. Today explanations of events form and explode without waiting for a careful collection of the facts or even the truth to emerge. Ideas move with such rapidity and in such complex ways that it is impossible to identify or gauge the authority of their source. Information may have passed through hundreds, thousands and even millions of hands via email, online discussions, blogs, web pages, tweets and social media sites. No one knows its origin. The Internet and new media are rife with myths that sometimes subside and then reappear at unpredictable times. No idea, no matter how delusional, suffers a final death in the virtual world.

SWJ – German Counterinsurgency Operations in East Africa: The Hehe War, 1890-1898 

….The new colonial power now turned its focus to Tanzania’s interior. While the coastal regions were shaped primarily by urban culture, the central and southern parts of German East Africa, as well as the regions around the Great Lakes featured larger hierarchy-based territories. In the southern highlands, the most important ethnic groups were the Ngoni, Sangu and Hehe (Wahehe), the latter being the strongest power since the 1860s.[11] The Ngoni had migrated to Tanzania from South Africa in the 1820s after coming under pressure from the expanding Zulu[12]. By adopting the Zulu military system, the Ngoni tried to become the dominant group in the region. Their efforts were thwarted, first by the Sangu, and finally by the Hehe, who – by improving the Zulu system – became a hegemonial power in southern Tanzania. Speaking of hegemony, one has to consider that members of subjected ethnical groups were integrated into Hehe society, and that “the Hehe” themselves have to be seen as a construction of political elites; the tribal name also was a construct, applied to the Hehe by their enemies.[13] After the death of Chief Munyigumba in 1880, his son Mkwawa[14] took over as ruler of the Hehe. A survey of the conflict between the Hehe and Germany has to reconsider one important fact: one cannot apply the often-mentioned theory that African ethnic groups were just “quiet victims” of colonial powers. Of course, the Hehe can be seen as victims of European imperialism – but their war with German forces was also a clash of two territorial entities focused on expansion. East Africa had been no peaceful paradise prior to the beginning of European activities; the Hehe had been known for their aggressiveness for decades, and it was no coincidence that other tribes, already in the pre-colonial era, had begun calling Chief Mkwawa muhinja, “the butcher” 

Brown Pundits –Female polio workers targeted in Pakistan 

….But let us not compare the CIA’s perfidy with what the terrorists have done before or since.  THAT too would be to miss the point. The terrorists will do what even the CIA has difficulty imagining (and much more difficulty ever publicly admitting or supporting): kill innocent health workers to make their point. And sentence thousands of kids to paralysis or worse. And feel no regret or remorse.

btw, anti-polio vaccine propaganda did NOT start with the Bin Ladin thing. It had been reported from the frontier region (and polio teams had been attacked in that region) for many years prior to the Bin Laden raid

Dart Throwing Chimp –On the Limits of Our Causal Imagination 

The New RepublicWe’re Still Paying the Price for the Borking of Robert Bork

Popular ArchaeologyArchaeologists Uncover Europe’s First Civilization 

The ChronicleThis Is Not a Profile of Nassim Taleb 

That’s it.

18 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. carl Says:

    The comment by Krauthammer advocating gun control is interesting.  He is generally considered to be a conservative but on this issue he is not.  He lines up completely on the side of the liberals/progressives/leftists.  I wonder if this is a case of class trumping philosophy.  Mr. Krauthammer is almost certainly a denizen of what Charles Murray called a ‘superzip’; one of those zip codes inhabited by wealthy people who have grown up with, been educated with, work with and socialize with a very narrow group of people, almost mirror images of themselves.  They tend to have a pretty uniform and generally liberal outlook.  On this issue his outlook is completely in line with that of his class.
    Also the position of that class looks kind of European, to me anyway.  “Us betters have to keep those proles from hurting themselves.”  Murray suggests that that class of superzips is gaining more and more power.  That makes me think that over time we are sort of developing a mandarinate.  That seems sort of Old-worldish too.
    I seek comment on something I have not heard commented upon before.  In the Aurora theatre shooting, hundreds and hundreds of people were in the big room.  Many of those people were extremely close to the criminal, mere feet or even inches, yet to my knowledge nobody tried to resist.  Nobody.  There was no lack of courage, some shielded others but nobody resisted.  I talk to younger people and in the schools they are taught not to fight, no matter what.  My nephew got in trouble for coming to the aid of a friend who was attacked.  Another guy told me they were judged at fault if they even were standing watching an altercation.  They were to ignore it and walk away.
    Has passivity in the face of threat become the desired goal?  Are we actively teaching that?  It is my opinion we are close to that if not already there.  I figure if by some magic a mixed sex and age group of 400 Comanches from 1830 was transported to that theatre with all their mores intact and somebody walked in and began shooting them, that somebody would not have survived the encounter let alone long enough to kill and wound dozens of people.  But this criminal did.

  2. carl Says:

    Let me add one thing that I forgot.  My group of Comanches would not be armed with anything but their cultural values.  They would not have any weapons.  The outcome wouldn’t change.

  3. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    “Has passivity in the face of threat become the desired goal?  Are we actively teaching that? ”
    Turn the other cheek carl, turn the other cheek.   This is a little funny, because if Nietzsche were still around, he’d answer your question with Yes. 

  4. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    Ok, you’ve deflected the question with a smirk and a reference to a dead German.  Now, what do you, Curtis Gale Weeks, think?

  5. larrydunbar Says:

    “He lines up completely on the side of the liberals/progressives/leftists.”

    And perhaps on the side of little children who don’t want to be slaughtered by weapons in the hands of people who only want to use the weapons for target practicing, instead of killing a large mass of people, which the weapons were intended for.

    One advantage of a Christian Nation is that when enough of the passives are sacrificed (sometimes it only takes one), change is usually not far away. While the CIA World Book classifies the US as 80% Christian, I don’t think we actually “suffer” from that advantage anymore, which is what I think Curtis was getting at 🙂

    If we don’t change now, when exactly do we change, when we got security contractors protecting our children from each other? Let’s make it at least hard enough that the mass killers don’t have to just take the weapons from their mommies. 

  6. carl Says:

    Mr. Dunbar:
    Take the time to read the link to Mr. Krauthammer’s quote.  It was written in 1996 and in it he acknowledged that the “assault weapons ban” of that period would have no actual effect on anything other than a symbolic one.  He said that symbolic effect was very important though as it was a needed first step in achieving the goal he advocated, the disarmament of the citizenry.  That was his position.   He belief that the citizenry should be disarmed is consistent with liberals/progressives/leftists.  (I already said that didn’t I)
    Everybody lines up on the side of those against criminal acts of mass murder.  Loudly proclaiming that ‘he does’ or ‘they do’ in a righteous tone is nothing but moral preening.
    I didn’t know what Curtis was getting at beyond scoring points in the sophomore lounge.
    Your last sentence completely confused me.  Discussion would be furthered if the smarm was damped down a bit.
    When you refer to the weapons being intended to kill a large mass of people, I assume you are referring to a magazine holding 30 or so rounds.  That isn’t exactly the case.  30 round magazines have been the military standard since WWII.  They are made practicable by the adoption of lower powered cartridges than the old 30.06, .303 British cartridges.  The newer cartridges are smaller and lighter so more can be carried for the same weight.  Thirty rounds seems to have worked out to be the best compromise between weight and having a large number of rounds readily available without having to change magazines.  The reason you don’t want to change magazines often should be self evident.  Fighting with rifles is very dangerous and stressful and if you run out of rounds unexpectedly, that is bad.  If there are more rounds that is less likely to happen.  In some circumstances the worst sound in the world is to pull the trigger and hear ‘click’ instead of ‘bang’.  That is why those magazines exist, to lessen the chance that a click will be heard.

  7. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    “I didn’t know what Curtis was getting at beyond scoring points in the sophomore lounge.”
    I’m guessing that most sophomores don’t have any clue who Nietzsche was or anything about what he said.  Your inability to connect the dots might serve as a case in point.
    One of Nietzsche’s themes was that, yes, the herd has been trained to be passive, to ignore its deepest instincts and desires because those inner motives are “evil” — trained to be passive by those who want to take advantage of that passivity.   I would imagine that he might say of our present society that such training, now after more than 2000 years or so, has inhibited our ability to understand those inner motivations, to recognize them, to deal with them.  Whenever individuals do act out and violate the herd’s mores, the herd is very shocked, stunned — in the face of that evil.
    I have commented previously that Nietzsche would have had some very harsh things to say about America’s liberals and Left; but then, he might have harsh toward America in general.  He had a very negative view of democracy, considering it a kind of flowering of Christianity and the type of morality that stressed the necessity of herd mores and passivity.  So I think my original comment was apropos considering your suggestion that, ” It is my opinion we are close to that if not already there.  I figure if by some magic a mixed sex and age group of 400 Comanches from 1830 was transported to that theatre with all their mores intact and somebody walked in and began shooting them, that somebody would not have survived the encounter let alone long enough to kill and wound dozens of people. “

  8. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Note, however, that in Connecticut, some DID rush the gunman, just not successfully.

  9. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    Yep.  That’s my hallmark, isolated dots.
    Thank you for the brief on the dead German.  But I am not interested in what the dead German’s themes were or what he would have thought about things that are happening now, long after he died.
    I am interested in what you, Curtis Gale Weeks, think about the questions I asked and my little thought experiment.

  10. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    But what, carl, is your little thought experiment?  Are you asking why Americans aren’t trained to be more militant?  Your original comment started with some reference to class-based morality and ended plaintively with the suggest that people are trained to be pussies.
    By the way, continual reference to “dead German” as if it in any way negates observation is sophomoric in the extreme.  Let’s say the same of those dead Americans who designed the 2nd Amendment and have done with it as well — yeah, right.

  11. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    You are right, some did rush the criminal.  They had great courage, but they had nothing to fight with, so they were unsuccessful.  Individual raw courage without something to fight with can work but it is much more likely to work if there is something useful to fight with.  If they had had something to fight with, things may have been better.
    But you bring up an interesting point.  Those brave women were the authority figures in that context.  They had an official role.  It is my opinion that that role gave them sort of a social permission to act, so they did.  In the Aurora theatre, nobody in the theatre had an official role, so perhaps they defaulted to what seems in to be taught in the schools, complete passivity.

  12. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    After all, those dead Americans created the 2nd Amendment almost a full century before the dead German wrote.

  13. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    I say “dead German” because I think its a little funny and if I think so, I flatter myself in thinking others do too, except you I guess.
    I am still interested in answers, by Curtis Gale Weeks, to my questions.  I gave my opinion.  As far as my wee thought experiment goes, you already know what it is.  But I’ll ask more plainly, even plaintively.  What do you think those Comanches would do?
    My original comment was actually about class affecting political opinion more than putative political stance.

  14. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    I think those Comanches are dead, long dead.  I also think that they lost against better armed foes.

  15. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    I am still interested in the what you, Curtis Gale Weeks, think those Comanches would do in the situation I posited.  I already know they are long dead.  Please answer the question posed.
    It is helpful to be armed adequately for the fight.

  16. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    What would E.T. do?  What would Han Solo do?
    I think you’ll find that even in the glorious Wild West, Native American encampments would be easily overrun by surprise sometimes — and, that wagon trains could be taken quite easily by surprise.
    The point to consider is the fact that equally-armed opponents using extremely deadly force have a significant upper hand when they act pro-actively against a group that might only act reactively.  They have their weapons and ammo at the ready, the lay of he land already scouted, and plans already in place, whereas those being attacked do not.  It’s called “getting the drop” on targets.
    People sitting in a theater are not expecting to be attacked, and until recently people sitting in an elementary classroom.  People going to a mall to do Christmas shopping aren’t expecting to be attacked.
    Whether those people are present-day Americans or Comanches warped into the present day via time machines provided by extra-terrestrial intelligences makes no difference.
    Arguing that such gunmen would decide to avoid attacking groups of civilians who might also be armed probably suggests more mental stability for those gunmen, who are usually suicidal, than they have.  Additionally, the idea that civilian targets might be armed would probably alter the gunman’s attack plan — for instance, bringing smoke grenades, wiring himself up in an IED so that he could get the last laugh, etc.
    Arguing that at least some civilian could get around to drawing his weapon and targeting the gunman once the initial shock passed, limiting the number of deaths caused by the gunman, is not an argument for eliminating such shootings altogether but merely an argument for decreasing the scope and scale of the killings.  It also doesn’t take into account the possibilities of cross-fire between armed citizens and confusion for police responding who have to decide in a moment who are the “good” gunmen and who are the “bad” gunmen in any gunfight.
    But then those who would argue either or both of the above are in fantasy land.  The very real consideration of Comanches being present might serve as a useful metaphor for coming to grips with these issues — but less useful the more they are idealized and de-contextualized.

  17. carl Says:

    Curtis Gale Weeks:
    This is good, both a digest version of Nietzsche and an explication of the tactical advantage of surprise in one post.
    I am still interested in what you think my hypothetical group of Comanches would have done, done you see in the situation I posited.  You have been dancing around that a good long while now but the band is getting tired.
    The insanity of those criminals only goes so far.  Their motivations are nuts and what they do is evil but their planning and execution are quite rational.  They want to kill and they don’t want to fight, so a school is a perfect place.  I think also they want to be known and the media will reliably do that for them.  So given their goals, they know how to get known and they know where to go where they almost certainly won’t be opposed in any way.  Those places even advertise.
    These criminals don’t want to fight.  They want to kill.  When they know they are about to face effective opposition, they either kill themselves or surrender.  They almost never fight.  So naturally, in their planning, they are careful to try and choose targets where they won’t face effective opposition.  And these people do plan.
    The recent mall shooting in Oregon is interesting.  The criminal managed only to kill two people in addition to himself.  I’ve read that he killed himself upon spotting a civilian armed with a legal concealed carry pistol aiming at him.  The next shot the criminal then delivered was to himself.  The civilian didn’t fire immediately because he was afraid if he missed, he would hit a bystander.  Turns out he didn’t have to fire.  The sight of him being there did the trick.  That civilian at the mall didn’t expect what happened to happen by the way.
    So I am still interested in what you think those Comanches would do and some responses to my questions.

  18. joey Says:

    Hi Zen, I was just wondering how you calculate the number of people with the potential to have dangerous mental illnesses, like even if you say .3% of the population could at some point in there lives be at risk of a metal breakdown that could lead to violence thats still over a million people.

    Out of the 12,000 odd gun killings (barring suicides by firearm another 17000) in the US every year,  is there a breakdown of the sane to the insane?  I would imagine that the vast majority are not considered insane.  
    That level of killing can be considered to be the exceptable level of violence in american society.  
    This is the level of gun violence that Americans are willing to put up with as the price for gun ownership.

    Now why out of countries with similar levels of gun ownership is the American murder rate so high?  Thats the real question, why does finland or switerland not have a similar levels of gun crime?

    Anyway America, despite its recent tragedies seems to be converging with the rest of the world as regards murder rates, if current trends continue… 

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