Archive for March, 2007

British police think vigilantes are needed…..

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I doubt you will ever see that as a headline in any British Newspaper. But if the various blogs put out by members of the British police are any guide, my post title is not too far from the truth. The British police are a very frustrated bunch.

For a good example of what I am talking about, read this blog post from a blogger who goes by the name Inspector Gadget. On the face of it, there does not seem to be anything noteworthy about it. But read through the comments and you will come across lots of talk of vigilantism from serving British police officers.

You might think that this is an extreme case. After all, they are talking about a reduction in sentence(to about 6 years!!) for two thugs who left a British Police officer in a vegetative state. It is natural that the members of the Police would take this to heart.

But if you read more widely amongst the various British Police Blogs, you will find that this is not just an isolated expression of anger. The opinions expressed may not always be as heated as they are in the above case, but the general tenor is the same.

The British Police are losing faith in the justice system.

If you would like to check out the British police blogs for yourself, here are some that will get you off to a good start.

Inspector Gadget is one of the better written British police blogs, but it is also more restrained than some of them. I already linked to one of his posts, so I shan’t quote him again. But he is well worth reading.

Political Police is just a regular frontline bloke as far as I can tell. Here he is on a directive that he just received…..

And the email we had today from the CPS stated that if we attend the scene of someone who is drunk and disorderly and they were not disorderly prior to our arrival. Then we should NOT arrest them because they are probably disorderly because of our presence at the scene. Only arrest for D&D if they were disorderly before we arrived at the scene.

Read the whole thing here….

PC Bloggs is a female member of the British Force. Here she is on the state of the justice system in Britain….

And of course, I should mention The Policeman’s Blog. It was the one that first got me interested in reading the blogs of British cops. Here he is on his job…..

All of these blogs have blog rolls with even more police blogs on them. If you read through them all, I am sure you will see that I am not exaggerating.

Tribal Pull….

Monday, March 5th, 2007

One of the great struggles of my life is the attempt to escape tribal thinking. To a large extent, I think it is natural for people to think “my country, right or wrong.” But the idea that my team is above all encompasses more then just the idea of country. We forgive things in ideological soul mates that we would never forgive in others.

To most people this is just a matter of course. Why should things be any different?

But to my mind, showing partiality in the judgment of your private thoughts is just as evil as showing partiality in the judgment from a court bench. Your thoughts may not be as harmful as an unfair court ruling, but how can we be moral if we cannot be just in our thoughts?

A little while ago, I was reminded of how unjust I am in my thoughts by how angry this made me….

Hundreds of tearful and angry protesters gathered outside a youth community centre in Copenhagen yesterday to watch as a hydraulic excavator tore into the building, bringing to an end more than 100 years of political history.

The “Ungdomshuset” or Youth House which once hosted Vladimir Lenin, has been the focus of street riots in recent days following the eviction of squatters from the building which has been sold to a rightwing Christian sect.

That was as far as I got before anger made it impossible for me to read further. I had to cool down for awhile before I could finish reading The Guardian article.

Just from those two paragraphs I knew who the villains of The Guardian article were going to be. And it was not going to be the people who had been burning cars and throwing gas bombs at the police. Nor was it going to be those people who came from foreign countries for the privilege of rioting in Copenhagen.

No, the villains of the piece were going to be the government that decided to sell a fire damaged building and the religious group that bought the building (or rightwing Christian sect if you prefer).

Can you imagine what the reaction would be like if Christians rioted because an abortion center bought the building? Can you imagine what the media would say if Christians came from other countries to help fight the police?

But because these people’s motives are “pure”, they are given a free pass.

This is wrong. But it was not what was making me angry.

I did not get angry because of the riot. I don’t expect any better behavior from European youth. Nor did I get angry because it was a twisted news story. I see those all the time and I don’t angry.

What made me angry was that the article seemed like an attack against my tribe.

It is tough to escape the tribal pull.

If you want to learn more about riots, go to this story in the Ethereal Voice. It tries to be Non-tribal. The links it gives are mostly from pro- riot sites after all…..

I have had days go like this……

Monday, March 5th, 2007

HT American Digest

Bureaucracy in action….

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

The M16 has a reputation for being unreliable. So does the M4. The standard army line is that if you properly maintain the M16 and M4 you will not have any problems. In other words, it’s all the soldiers fault.

This is ridicules. It is one thing to expect a solider to maintain his weapon in peacetime. It is another thing to maintain during sustained action. But that is just what is necessary in order for the M16 and M4 to keep working. This problem has been obscured by the fact that in the past American soldiers rarely got into sustained gunfights.

But now that is changing. Iraq and Afghanistan are now being fought with infantry armed with small arms as opposed to tanks and air power. As a consequence, both wars are producing lots of stories about American solders whose guns have become useless in the middle of battle.

The Army’s elite Special Forces unit called Delta got sick of the situation and worked with the German gun manufacture Heckler & Koch to fix the problem. They came up with a weapon called the H&K 416 that is by all accounts significantly superior in terms of reliability to the M16 and M4. Not only that, but the weapon only cost marginally more ($1,300 for the M4, $1,425 for the 416). In fact, H&K people say that if they had bulk orders they might be able to lower to price to where it is comparable to the M4.

So of course the army brass wants to buy the better gun right? Ha!

Their line is that it would cost too much to replace the M4 and besides the M4 is perfectly fine if you maintain it right. Besides…

“We think that somewhere around 2010, we should have enough insight into future technologies to take us in a direction we want to go for the next generation of small arms,” said Radcliffe, director of the Infantry Center’s Directorate of Combat Developments at Fort Benning, Ga.

As Keynes said, “in the long run you are dead“. It is a terrible thing to be at the mercy of a Bureaucracy.

You can read the whole sorry story at this article in the Army Times.

Here is a video on what makes the 416 better….

You can see an excellent flash animation of how the 416 and M4 works here.

Here is the Army Times editorial…..

Repent! The End of the World is close at hand….

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

I am a skeptic when it comes to peak oil. I am a skeptic when it comes to scare talk of Saudi Arabia running out of oil. But today, I must confess that the facts do not seem to be on the side of the skeptic.

I think that everyone who is interested in the subject and certainly every skeptic should read this post by Stuart Staniford over at the Oil Drum (ht Belmont Club). He lays out an excellent case that Saudi Arabia has hit peak oil and is now on a downward trend.

I would love to see a good rebuttal, but the best people can come up with is that Saudi Arabia is cutting production deliberately. Normally I would buy that argument, but it does not fit with certain other data like the huge amount of rigs that are in Saudi Arabia at the moment. Read Staniford’s post for the details.

I will write more on the subject latter when I have had a chance to think it over more. But for right now, my thoughts are pretty much the same as this comment that I have taken from the post….

I cannot and will not disagree with your analysis per se, it is a good one, and of course Stuart is always on top of things…we will just have to wait and see.
This may be the end of the Saudi road as far as having the production clout to pull it off (we all know that day has to come…when is the question), but I am still very cautious about them…..I am an old man, and the spectre of 1982 still haunts me….

I am not an old man, but I know what he is talking about. The so called experts have been very wrong in the past. But that does not mean that they will always be wrong. I would like to think that Staniford is wrong, but I would like stronger reasons for thinking so then just skepticism.

Unbalancing Yin and Yang……

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Sometimes my demographic worries embarrass me. Most of the people who worry about demographics are not people that I want to be associated with. But in spite of the bad company, I can’t but help worry that demographic changes are going to make life very interesting in the near future.

For a good example of why I am worried, read this Washington Times article (ht Free Exchange). Most of the article is just a human interest story devoted to why people in Indian don’t want to have girls. But they do offer up some statistics like this…

Early this year, the British medical journal Lancet estimated the male-female gap at 43 million. Worldwide, Lancet said, there are 100 million “missing girls” who should have been born but were not. Fifty million of them would have been Chinese and 43 million would have been Indian. The rest would have been born in Afghanistan, South Korea, Pakistan and Nepal.

China gave an even bleaker assessment last month, with the government saying that its men will outnumber women in the year 2020 by 300 million.

If the Chinese government is correct, in 13 more years there will be 300 million unmarried men in China. The population of the Untied States is only 300 million. 13 years is not a long time…..

Why should we be worried? Well, is a man or a woman more likely to rob you or commit some other type of violent act? Is a married or unmarried man more likely to engage in risky behavior? Who is more likely to support a militarily aggressive policy by its government?

I think that the answer is obvious to everyone. Statistics and personal experience tell all of us that single men don’t care as much about future as other demographic groups. People who don’t care about the future are a danger to those who do.

I find it ironic that the culture that supposedly puts great value on balancing the Yin and the Yang is going to unbalance it on massive scale.