December 31, 2005


Filed under: — Chap @ 7:03 pm

The concept of hirabah might be a meme worth propagating. Recently I’ve noticed some people discussing what I mentioned last week–“moderate Muslims”–and how to keep us from getting blown up right proper. I’ll describe some articles I’ve recently discovered or seen in the last few days, mention what this harabah thing is, and make a general observation or two. I hope someone who actually can do something about it reads this post or at least thinks about the same things.

Executive Summary

  1. Given that a center of gravity for our enemy is related to their ability to recruit new dopes, it is in the West’s best interest to prevent that recruitment or at least change the environment in which dopes grow. I characterize a little of the environment and mention some possible means of improvement.
  2. Some of the recruitment is a perversion of otherwise noble concepts.
  3. We won’t know how much we affect public opinion until a sudden cascade appears. It is very hard for someone in certain situations to be able to do and say the right thing. We have the ability to influence those situations.
  4. I link to various calls to action: one from the Wall Street Journal, one organization’s categorization of which Muslims are using this word hirabah to refer to who we’re fighting, and a few ideas on information warfare.

Caveat Before You Click

I haven’t taken the time to polish this up yet, in the spirit of “a post published is better than a better post not published”. I plan to update this, and when I do I’ll put a little “update” thing at the end.


December 30, 2005

Working On A Long Post

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:15 am

…and it’s kicking my tail.

It’s going to take a while.

Here’s one link I’m using in it, which started my poor head throbbing.

Oh yeah, and this one which shows up in today’s Wall Street Journal.

I smell a trend.

December 28, 2005


Filed under: — Chap @ 7:08 pm

There is, of course, a Pajamas Media death pool.

And I bring it up only because of the pictures on the right sidebar. Which are pretty funny.

In a way that kind of makes one wince…

I Dub Michael Crichton A Smart Dude

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:44 am

…because he makes presentations like this one, which are very good. He links many things I’ve been thinking about–complexity, information and its effect on behavior, how bad things are suddenly good things again, how Ehrlich is a dangerous demagogue, counterintuition.

The link goes to an annotated lecture with slides that most emphatically does not suck.

…the assumptions I am talking about today represent another kind of map—a map that tells us the way the world works. Since this is a lecture on complexity, you will not be surprised to hear that one important assumption most people make is the assumption of linearity, in a world that is largely non-linear. I hope by the end of this lecture that the meaning of that statement will be clear. But we won’t be getting there in a linear fashion.

Some of you know I have written a book that many people find controversial. It is called State of Fear, and I want to tell you how I came to write it. Because up until five years ago, I had very conventional ideas about the environment and the success of the environmental movement.

The book really began in 1998, when I set out to write a novel about a global disaster. In the course of my preparation, I rather casually reviewed what had happened in Chernobyl, since that was the worst manmade disaster in recent times that I knew about.

What I discovered stunned me. Chernobyl was a tragic event, but nothing remotely close to the global catastrophe I imagined. About 50 people had died in Chernobyl, roughly the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents. I don’t mean to be gruesome, but it was a setback for me. You can’t write a novel about a global disaster in which only 50 people die.

Undaunted, I began to research other kinds of disasters that might fulfill my novelistic requirements. That’s when I began to realize how big our planet really is, and how resilient its systems seem to be. Even though I wanted to create a fictional catastrophe of global proportions, I found it hard to come up with a credible example. In the end, I set the book aside, and wrote Prey instead.

But the shock that I had experienced reverberated within me for a while. Because what I had been led to believe about Chernobyl was not merely wrong—it was astonishingly wrong. Let’s review the data.

I do recommend Crichton’s work here. Maybe you won’t click on volcano documentaries, but click on this one, all right?

Clearly Nobody Got It

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:36 am

I don’t think anybody clicked through to the link on my previous post here.

I was trying to make a funny. Didn’t work–nobody thought they wanted to see a “documentary about volcanoes”.

Oh, just go click the link already. Mutter, mutter, grumble…

December 26, 2005

Tagged Tagged Tagged Tagged

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:49 pm

Yup, tagged. With a “four” theme. By Enrevanche.


One could see this as a chance to plug things you like. I ain’t going to be that helpful.


Stanley Crouch On The NYC Transit Strike

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:51 pm

Not that I care, mind you. Despite the strike having been on every TV news channel, every radio station news, I saw here in Omaha.

I would like you New Yawkers to know I expect the same treatment if our buses stop.

(You can stop laughing now.)

Anyhow. The reason I bring this up is that I discovered Stanley Crouch, columnist for the Daily News. He has useful things to say about the invocation of Rosa Parks for a rather greedy union action. He throws in this bit here that will make someone wince:

At the worst end, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and Sharpton joined Snoop Dogg and other celebrities with brains no larger than mustard seeds in mourning at the funeral of executed murderer and Crips founder Stanley (Tookie) Williams.

Given the rhetoric and the crocodile tears, one would have thought Williams was one of the four little girls blown to bits in 1963 at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Since Sharpton, along with Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, diminished the meaning of the word “racism” in an attempt to defend the Tawana Brawley fraud against criticism, this is not an innocent blunder for our local rabble-rouser.

What he said.

Not Quite There Yet

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:44 pm

Some folks are using the term “information war” like I would like people to do. I think that perhaps I might have been able to push the meme a little bit over the last year–or more likely, convergent evolution and I was just part of a wave.

Two tonight that pop up are Michael Yon and Outside the Beltway. Clearly, the Marines get it; equally clearly, someone in the Army doesn’t. Can you imagine how hard it would be to defend the popular will center of gravity without a separate information path that was more truthful–or at least outside the main narrative frame? I believe email and blogs helped keep the war from becoming disastrous for those reasons.

On the other hand I feel that I’ve not been able to do enough to try to push this effort of getting the information war won, or at least stanch the bleeding. Wish I had more ideas in that direction I could execute.

Update: Tigerhawk goes in deep to examine domestic infowar aspects.

How To Not Make A Friend Of Bill Whittle

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:37 pm

Easy. Just slag Lincoln. I remember some comment threads that looked like USENET flame wars after some guy slagged Lincoln on EjectEjectEject back in the day.

Wonder what Whittle would make of this.

So anyway. This guy Kuttner wrote a nice Christmas present to the current president. By “nice” I mean not at all nice. My take on it is that Kuttner’s impression of the current president does not match what I see, and in any case sure is angry.

Lincoln gained incomparably in wisdom over four years. Does anyone think George W. Bush is wiser now than in 2001?

Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.

Bush’s visits to Iraq are choreographed media events. Lincoln often went to the front on horseback or by ship, almost alone, shunning news coverage, to confer at length with his generals, thank the troops, and educate himself.

Bush relies on secondhand inspirations of a speechwriting staff. He blathers when he wanders off script. Lincoln wrote his own words, including the timeless eloquence of the Second Inaugural or the Gettysburg Address. More often, his eloquence was extemporaneous.

As you can see, Kuttner describes someone who wouldn’t exactly have been reelected, or be held in any regard by the folks in DoD. It doesn’t match my read of the man, politics or no.

Some of the responses in the blogosphere have been rather forceful in their dissent from Kuttner.

Power Line points out that Lincoln would have acted differently than Kuttner posits, using such unfair methods as Lincoln’s own words.

I would enjoy reading Kuttner on Lincoln’s defiance of Chief Justice Taney’s order to free John Merryman on the ground that Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional. Lincoln respectfully disagreed and ignored Taney’s order. I hope Kuttner will get around to writing such a column someday; he might learn something if he studies up enough to write it.

Lincoln enunciated his understanding of public necessity enhancing the constitutional powers of the president during wartime on many occasions, perhaps on no occasion more memorably than in his 1864 letter to Albert Hodges on the Emancipation Proclamation. Read and learn from America’s greatest, most influential interpreter of the Constitution:

Click over to read the excerpt from a famous letter of Lincoln’s.

Instapundit points to Prof. Kenneth Anderson’s passionate dismissal of Kuttner’ s invocation of Lincoln, unhappy that Lincoln is even being brought up in this manner:

Lincoln cannot, should not, be invoked ever in a partisan way in the moral discourse of the United States, because the whole point is that he belongs to all of us. And in an explicitly religious, redemptive way. That is to say, of course any American and American leader should consider carefully and meditatively and historically what he or she thinks Lincoln would have done, how close to the example of Lincoln he or she hews. It is, in this intensely partisan age, a necessary meditation but necessarily and best a private one. And it is never, in the moral discourse of this country, fit grist for the partisan mill. Lincoln is never an opportunity for saying, as Kuttner does in an ugly little parody of the Second Inaugural, that “our nation, in a new birth of freedom, will survive even George W. Bush.”

I wonder if any of this critique even would get back to Kuttner…

I Was Wondering Where He Went

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:58 am

P.J. O’Rourke, that is. Back in the ’80s he was like Mark Steyn and Christopher Hitchens combined in terms of snark. Author on the best civics textbook I’ve ever read. Funniest columnist in Rolling Stone or the Atlantic back in the day. He wrote an “ehh” book, and aside from occasional columns I’ve not heard much from him in a while.

However, he pops up for a foreign issue of his book Peace Kills, and is profiled in the Telegraph–and he discusses the craft of writing.

Humour is just busted logic – a surprise that reveals what you were thinking all along. And since what we were thinking all along is something we oughtn’t have been thinking at all it ties in nicely with Protestant guilt. You enjoy it and feel bad at about it at the same time.”

Which is essentially how he feels about his chosen trade. “Writing is agony,” he grimaces. “I hate it.” But any such agonies are invisible in his finished work, which is put together with the throwaway precision that comes only with hours of loving labour. Even his acknowledgements are laced with wit. O’Rourke once wrote that his cousin Dennis – “my friend, as opposed to relative” – “was the only person in my family to have read a book all the way through, for fun”. Look at that final clause, the way it’s so delicately ballasted by the infinitesimally small pause preceding it. The sentence reads like reflex rather than a thought – a sure sign O’Rourke thought long and hard about it.

All of which raises the question: is O’Rourke a closet Oscar Wilde?

Oh, man. A closet Oscar Wilde.

Looks like interviewer Chris Bray’s on top of the game, too.

December 23, 2005

Oh The Humanity

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:49 pm

That title.

It just hurts, man.

Economist On French Attitudes Towards The US

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:50 pm

You know, this seems to me to be an article that sounds a lot like the Economist: well informed, erudite, and somewhat missing the point.

America is, after all, one of the few western countries with which France has never been to war. Even de Gaulle supported America during the Cuban missile crisis, and reminded a joint session of Congress of the two countries’ history of shared values. The country that supposedly scorns American capitalism has spawned global companies that feed the American army (Sodexho), fit tyres on American cars (Michelin) and put the gloss on American lips (L’Oréal). In many ways, France and America clash so often not because they are so irreconcilably different, but because they are so alike.

Uh, right. Sure. Whatevs. See you in Vichy for the NATO conference, hein?

December 22, 2005

Why, Indeed

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:05 pm

Stephen Schwartz has a great article on why it’s so hard for an American Muslim to speak out in favor of his adopted country.

I have a good friend, a fellow USN shipmate who emigrated from the Middle East, who is a lucky immigrant because he had skills he could quickly put to use in the larger world. He and his wife homeschool their kids because the Islamic schools in the DC area are too Wahabi. This is one reason:

What happens when ordinary Muslims rebel against radical domination in America? They are ostracized, thrown out of mosques, and subjected to extraordinary public insults and threats.

This is one reason why my view of things is a bit different from Charles Johnson’s. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of personal and family risk, to do the right thing sometimes. We saw this in the Civil Rights Movement days, when it was in the best interest of people with power wanted to keep the viewpoints in line.

That’s why the first email I sent after we pulled in following 9/11 was to my Muslim USN friend. It’s pretty lonely in that position, and those folks who get it need all the support we can muster.

Who can you support? How can I find a way to defeat the German-American BundCAIR?

No Comment

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:38 pm

I’ve seen this sort of thing before

Must See TV

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:34 pm

This wonderful documentary about volcanoes is shorter than March of the Penguins, but perhaps more informative about things that can really matter. There’s a delightful section on the volcano’s effect on native art, such as the pottery.

See if you can spot the subtle dig at the French, too. (You might miss it the first time you see it.) My response would be along the lines of “ooh la la”, which I have actually heard a tired French guy say on the subway.

The docu itself is made by one of those cultural preservation organizations that has sprung up to keep a once-dormant culture thriving.

Thanks to the Swankster for picking up on this nice piece of educational television.

December 21, 2005

Oh The Humanity

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:30 pm

There are apparently no tiki bars anywhere near Omaha, Nebraska.


Idiot Alert

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:36 am

The Greenwich Village Idiot, that is. Twenty-one megabytes of pained squeaking.

So the kid can’t walk yet unassisted, so we’re in the Stoop Labor phase of child rearing. Kid’s living room habit is to walk to where the portable record player is, look up, and “ask” for a record to be played (I think he got how to ask from our cat). Then he walks to the portable victrola and does the same thing. Repeat ad infinitum. I spared you some of the ones he likes the most–although the Hoosier Hot Shots would be a good podcast ingredient.

Barry’s more right than he knows. The 78 on this podcast was recorded at 45RPM and sped up to fit. I should have put up a podcordance, but perhaps I should just tease with the mention of our favorite NYC VIking, Moondog. He’s in there, too.

Random Thoughts On A Small Horror Story

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:16 am

This is truth never publicly spoken by a Senior Officer….although us Mid Level Looies know it when it happens!

By the way, I’ve absolutely no evidence with which to support any of this, and am fully aware of counter-indicators, but I’m trying to get a roll going here, so back off, man.

The rest of the post… Well, that’s very good, too, and boy am I happy this kidlet in the house is a boy kid in the situation he describes, but geez.

Maybe Lex could tell his lovely daughter that the only time I see people wearing those things in their ear is clerks at the Dairy Queen and that they’re going out of style already.

Yeah, that’s it. Okay, the coffee guy at the Borders had one, too.

So if you’re into retail sales, then maybe it’s for you.

Van Steenwyk Has A Point

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:06 am

They killed the kid because he had a military ID card. They beat him first. It wasn’t pretty.

Now one of the people who murdered my shipmate is being freed in ransom for a kidnapped German citizen. (Note to CNN: A Hezbollah hijacker who murders American servicemen is not a “militant”. Figure out what the right word is. Understand they have blood on their hands and the US military knows what that word is, too.)

The German frigate Niedersachsen saluted us when alongside. They are shamed by their government’s action this week.

Van Steenwyk says it best.

This dog killed a US citizen while committing an act of terrorism.

He is a combatant.

Find him.

Kill him.

Update: If he needs interim transportation to hell, we’ve got just the vessel, as Bubblehead reminds us.

December 20, 2005

What Was That Noise?

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:41 pm

So. Barry points to an iTunes Signature Maker.

Like the late, lamented Eigenradio, this java applet takes a snapshot of music and mungs it all together. Except this time, the Signature Maker rummages through your iTunes library and tries to figure out what you listen to, and squishes little snippets together to make a minute or so of ghosts of familiar songs whizzing by you.

The program doesn’t work too well for me because I spend too much time listening to three podcasts (one of which I have to build myself): Soulville, Sinner’s Crossroads and Gilles Peterson’s Radio One show. However, the program has enough to seriously mess with my head listening to the “signature”. The added bonus is that nobody else really will know what is going on there, I think–if you ever hear my iTunes signature and ‘get’ all the songs, please email me and tell me where you put my record collection.

And get some professional help…

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