July 31, 2006

Israelis should not be depressed by the world’s condemnation of their accidental killing of Lebanese kids paired with its silence on Hezbollah’s deliberate killing of Israeli kids. It’s fueled by a dishonest MSM, anti-Semitism, and envy. There’s nothing to be done about any of these pathologies, so they might as well get on with killing off Hezbollah at minimum cost to themselves.

The 2 day lifting of airstrikes in Southern Lebanon will allow some Hezbollah assets to escape, but leaves those that don’t without their protective civilians. They’ll be easy to eliminate, and then Israel gets a defensible free-fire zone.

Providing the US keeps the ordnance flowing, there’s not much Israel’s many other enemies can do to stop it.

With the possible exception of the Syrians, nobody has the combination of the means and motivation – the EU lacks the motivation, and the Muslims the means.

Syria is a risk. It’s army and airforce won’t survive long but – if Israel’s BMD doesn’t work – Syria can make a mess of Tel Aviv with Scuds. The Syrian dictator might think trying and losing will win him prestige and another few decades in power.

On the other hand, the Israeli drone images I’ve seen indicate that they are really world class – high resolution, high bandwidth, nicely image stabilized, and with splendid pattern recognition. So killing the Syrian leaders may not be that hard.


MSM Lies – A Primer

July 31, 2006

A forensic analysis by Richard North reveals that two dead kids from the Qana bombing were paraded for an entire day by one individual – presumably a Hezbollah operative – to enable Reuters, AP and AFP to stage pictures.

You can read the expose here – what follows is a deconstruction of the fabricated event sequence.

The pictures all show the same man, a claimed “rescue worker” who I’ve given the code “A”, and the dead bodies of two kids, who I’ve coded “1” and “2”.

Here’s the sequence using the times given by the agencies:

“Rescue Worker” Dead Kid Event Time Agency
A 1 Body pulled from wreckage 2:21 PM Reuters
A 1 Display for photographer 12:25 PM Reuters
A 1 Display for photographer 12:53 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 1:01 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 4:09 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 4:30 PM Reuters
A 2 Carrying to Red Cross worker untimed AP
A 2 Display for photographer 10:44 P AP
A 2 Display for photographer untimed AP
A and B 2 Placing body on gurney 7:16 PM AFP
A 2 Placing body in ambulance 10:25 AM AP
None 2 Body in ambulance 7:21 AM AP

It’s a tragedy these kids died, but parading their bodies for a day to stage these sequences was disgusting.

The dishonesty does not stop with AP, Reuters, and AFP – the UN and Red Cross workers on the site must have been complicit.

I hope that this analysis is used to train student journalists in the dangers of dishonest reporting. But doubt it.

Buying Online

July 30, 2006

The laptop quest exposes weaknesses in online vendors and suggests real-world retailers will be with us forever.

Manufacturer websites on my shortlist all have good spec sheets, but don’t answer important questions:
– How hot does it get on your lap?
– How annoying is the fan and how often does it cut in?
– How bright is the screen?
– How quickly does it boot up?
– Are keyboard and trackpoint ergonomics good?
– What’s the battery life like a) now, with screen on full brightness and b) after a year?
– Does it stop you viewing multiregion DVDs?

You look to online user reviews to answer these type questions – but few new products have them. And when they do, they’re either obviously written by their product manager (Fantastic!), or a competitor (Terrible!), or by people enraged by a probably rare quality defect.

That’s in part because if the product works, you don’t use precious time telling the world.

But if there’s a problem with the product, and you’re either public spirited or vengeful, you may post – so where are these negative posts? My experience with CNet & Amazon is that’s because negative posts can be suppressed or delayed, probably for legal reasons.

So online reviews are great for books, but I wouldn’t trust them for anything else.

That’s why people continue to buy big-ticket items from real retailers.

Why Are Muslim Fighters Cowards?

July 30, 2006

Islamic fighters hide behind innocents, a practice we consider cowardly. I suspect it’s all of a piece with Islam’s predilection for rape. The West grew from a high trust religion, Christianity, which emphasizes protection of the weak, whereas Islam is low trust, so treats the weak as fair game.

Western use of human shields is remarkable enough to invite special comment. Here a French WW2 fighter ace described his agonizing decision to proceed with a rocket attack on Wehrmacht tanks the Germans had surrounded by Dutch women and kids.

But Islamic hostage taking is SOP – from the Mullah’s 1981 US embassy hostages, thorough Saddam Hussein’s Brit civilian hostages in the Gulf War, to the present day:

The man suspected in a fatal shooting rampage hid behind a potted plant in a Jewish charity’s foyer and forced his way through a security door by holding a gun to a 13-year-old girl’s head, the police chief said Saturday.

Once inside, police say, Naveed Afzal Haq opened fire with two semiautomatic pistols.

And Hezbollah hiding behind Lebanese civilians:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed deep regret on Sunday for the harm inflicted on civilians in Qana earlier when at least 57 civilians – 37 of who were children – were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town.

Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, “hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area.”

Not to mention Hamas hiding behind a captured Israeli soldier and Arab kids.

I don’t think this behavior arises because it’s the only route available to the powerless – these killers clearly aren’t powerless, they have billions of dollars from Iran and Syria. And would an oppressed Westerner think it OK to hide behind innocents? I don’t think so.

In fact differing attitudes to the weak lie at the core of the clash of our civilizations – Muslims think our protection of the weak is a weakness, which they can exploit. Their religion focuses on physical strength – men can beat their wives, kids can be raped and hanged, and so on.

But in our societies you don’t have to be physically strong to contribute to our prosperity – 13-year-old girls can grow up be a nuclear physicists, or even soldiers. So our nations are rich and theirs are poor.

And that makes the Israelis that died trying to avoid civilian casualties not just local heroes, but heroes of our civilization.


July 29, 2006

Wal-Mart discovers Germans are miserable!

Wal-Mart …,the world’s largest retailer said it was now selling its 85 German hypermarkets… a move that would cost $1bn (£540m) in pre-tax losses, it said.

Wal-Mart entered the German market eight years ago…but despite generating sales of $2.5bn a year, it never posted a profit.

Critics said Wal-Mart failed to understand the different culture in Germany. Its attempts to introduce “greeters” to every store, with orders to smile at every customer, is said to have been particularly unpopular.

Germans shoppers would have flocked to greeters who barked orders at them, delayed them with lengthy complaints about their health problems, and barged in front of them.

Weapons Win Wars

July 29, 2006

Unfortunately few politicians understand this – Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars was a shining exception. Recently, pols in both the US and Israel decided not to deploy essential weapons, and people will die as a result. The president and Mr Olmert should reverse these foolish decisions immediately.

First, a historical example:

The great victory naval over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar was a consequence of one superior Brit weapon – the carronade. This was (p139):

…a short, light, wide calibre gun, with little recoil, known informally as “The Smasher” and…mounted on a fixed carriage. The bores of the guns could be machined with greater accuracy because they were short…as a result, less powder was necessary…

The largest carronade fired a 68 pound ball, making a large ragged and splintered hole in the enemy’s hull, difficult for enemy carpenters to plug. Carronades were, however, useless at long range; Nelson’s tactics were to bring his ships as close as possible to the enemy before he opened fire.

Like all weapons, the carronade was a compromise – devastating, but you had to get in close. It was successful because the Brits had Lord Nelson’s courage, tactical brilliance and leadership to have the Brit ships hold fire until they were very close.

Now consider here’s a modern carronade:

On Thursday, July 20, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee cut funding for the Navy’s Conventional Trident Modification Program, a Bush administration plan to arm Trident-2 ballistic missiles deployed on submarines with conventional, as opposed to nuclear weapons.

Opponents have argued that such a weapon could cause Russia, China, or another third party to mistakenly perceive a U.S. nuclear missile attack.

That means that the US will not have the option of using kinetic weapons to take out the Iranian nuclear program.

So now the US must use nukes (which it won’t), or lose B-2s and F-15s to the Russian/Iranian missile defenses. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s decision is particularly idiotic because the US can deal with the Russia/China concern (no doubt raised by State pinkos) by just extending the protocol the 3 nations now use to warn each other of test firings.

The Israelis can be doltish too (my ellipsis):

Uri Rubin, former head of the Arrow project (ABM system deployed against SRBMs), told me in an interview from Israel this week that the relatively poor accuracy of the cheap Katyushas has been an argument against investing in an expensive anti-Katyusha defense system. This cost-comparison calculus was one reason Israel shelved plans to deploy Northrop Grumman’s THEL system, whose lasers routinely have shot down Katyushas at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Speaking this week about the earlier decision, Mr. Rubin said, “You also have to compare the cost of no defense”–for lives or infrastructure.

Mr. Rubin shared with me an unpublished paper he wrote with Dan Hazanovsky on “The Emerging Threat of Very Short-Range Ballistic Missiles,” or VSBMs…the same dynamic that makes cheap, fast electronic products available to consumers will do the same to electronic missile weaponry.

Rubin is saying that Israel shouldn’t spend money on shooting down Katyushas – 1500 have hit it recently – but instead worry about an as-yet nonexistent threat of GPS guided short-range rockets. His is a common engineering management failing – he wants to solve tomorrow’s problem rather than use today’s boring and imperfect technology. Especially because solving tomorrow’s problem brings lots of nice R&D contracts! Brits call this reasoning “The best is the enemy of the good”.

Israel is fighting for its existence, and the US faces a high mid-term risk of losing cities to Iranian and/or NoKo nukes. Neither nation can afford to entrust its weapons procurement to incompetents.

The president should immediately fund the Trident kinetic warhead as a black program – it’s so inexpensive, nobody will notice it. And put a John Bolton type in charge of the Russian/Chinese negotiation – State will just block it.

The Israelis should deploy THEL immediately – it won’t be perfect, but the IDF will quickly find how to use it best – positioning, provisioning, decoys etc. And, quite possibly, they’ll find all they need to de-fang Hezbollah is a THEL screen in S. Lebanon, which will greatly improve Israel’s political options.

French Electricity

July 28, 2006

Brits believe in Free Trade, so tolerate French buying Brit companies even though the French stop Brits buying theirs. But there’s a price to putting the French in charge – they kill you.

From London today:

Another wave of power cuts could shut down parts of the capital for the second day running, energy giant EDF warned today.

EDF said high demand caused by hot weather was still putting extra pressure on the network.

In a statement, EDF said it “hoped to avoid” further power cuts today, but said: “the current problems, combined with high demand due to the ongoing hot weather, are continuing to put additional pressure on the local network infrastructure.”

Jace Tyrrell, spokesman for the New West End Company which represents traders on Oxford St and Regent St, said: “You would expect a company like EDF to have proper plans in place to restore power supply to the West End and communicate with businesses.

EDF is the French state owned Electricité de France, which in 1998:

Electricite de France (EDF) …won the battle to buy London Electricity from US owner Entergy for a total price tag of £1.9bn ($3.14bn).

Brits presumably weren’t bothered by control moving from a a US company to the French state. But then in 2003:

The French Government has come under attack for its handling of the heatwave gripping the country, which doctors say has claimed 100 lives.

Power remains critical, as French giant EDF urges consumers to reduce their electricity use.

Seems they didn’t reduce their power use enough (my emphasis):

2003 European Heat Wave

14,802 people, mostly elderly, died in France from heat, according to the country’s largest funeral service.

Many bodies were not claimed for many weeks because relatives were on holiday. A refrigerated warehouse outside Paris was used by undertakers, because they didn’t have enough space in their own facilities.

In any other civilized country, a company complicit in 15,000 deaths would have been sued to death – but this was France. It’ll be interesting to see if Brit victims of EDF are as supine.

En passant, France could stop the Middle East fighting simply by putting EDF in charge of Hezbollah’s power supply – without aircon, the terrorists will be Frit in their bunkers. Mmm.

(Sorry about the formatting – Blogger has gone nuts – maybe another EDF customer?)