Friday, April 28, 2006

Poor Attila

Take a look:

Feder’s proud of his bigotry. Take a look at this from his bio:

I’m to the right of Sharon on Zionism, to the right of Pat Buchanan on immigration and Americanism, to the right of Mother Angelica on abortion, to the right of Chuck Heston on Second-Amendment rights, and generally make the legendary Atilla look like a limousine liberal.

These people are sick. They have no idea what family values are.

Why does everyone claim that Atilla the Hun was conservative? I haven't really got a problem with day-to-day anachronisms, in general, but this one is awfully common and remarkably wrongheaded. I have no idea what "I'm too the right of Atilla the Hun" should mean if it's something different from "I'm too the right of [pre-modern person select uniformly at random]." I think I must have missed the meeting where conservatives started identifying conservatism with conquest and merciless slaughter and pillage.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A little more on Iran

One of my very first blog posts ever (so that would be like 9 posts ago or something, and 2 years--me being really on top things, as usual) ran something like, "it's not that big a deal if Iran develops nuclear weapons." My next post rescinded it (in fairly pompous style).

Neither one of those posts matters because Iran will or won't produce a nuclear weapon regardless of what the West wants. We can't stop them.

Suppose that the U.S. or Israel launches a preemptive assault, conventional or otherwise, against Iranian nuclear technology infrastructure. Even better(!), suppose that this operation is successful, in the sense that Esfahan and other such places are actually destroyed or rendered inaccessible. Suppose, finally, that there is no subsequent occupation of Iran.

Have we eliminated Iran's capability to make nuclear technologies?

The answer depends somewhat on the strictness of your definition of nuclear technologies. I would speculate, however, that the answer is yes only if you assume (1) that the nuclear physics establishment in Iran is ridiculously incompetent at record keeping and/or (2) that most or all of the qualified scientists and engineers will be killed in the attack. As the population of Iran is about 70,000,000, I would not plan for (2). Then, without (1), resurrecting the nuclear technology program is a question of resources not research, and to my knowledge, the resources are not the complicating factor; for example, one could expect the large part of any fissionable material that Iran might obtain in the future to be enriched successfully and actually used for something.

That is, the question "Is our... family of... nations justified in law and morality in failing to incapacitate this monster?" is not relevant because it is not actually within our means to incapacitate this monster except in the very short term. Like or not, we will have to deal with some kind of brinksmanship in the future, and the reasonable thing to do now is to decide how that will work. In particular, we need to fully assess the possibility of Iran handing over some fraction of its arsenal to terrorist groups and develop a threat of force that can handle the possibility that the national origin of a weapon is not instantaneously clear.
We need to find a way, through intelligence or diplomacy, to inventory Iran's arsenal with some accuracy. We need to know whether or not Ahmadinejad's threats are actually backed by the Guardians.

I don't see that fretting now about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons at all is very useful except in frightening people. A reasonable and well-publicized plan of response to the new situation (which we can't avoid with any amount of ruthlessness short of erasing Iran) is the correct answer.

Carry on.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I think this
Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

is called menacing in the real world. It can be a felony.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


One of the things I noticed in my recent travels (noticed again, I should say) is that there is no ridiculousness upper bound for female flight-attendent uniforms while the male flight-attendent uniform almost uniformly comprises a navy blue suit, possibly with some braiding or tracery. For example, the ladies of KLM wear bright teal/powder blue skirts with matching waistcoats--quite a display, and all quite form fitting. The gentlemen wear navy blue suits. To my knowledge, there are no male flight-attendents with the Korean airline.


Quotes to note

From a wikipedia article on Florida tornado in the 1930s:
When the death toll of 216 was set, over 100 people had been hospitalized in three states. The final death toll was set at 233 (not necessarily including African-American deaths, who were frequently excluded from death tolls until the 1950s).

Regarding the war on drugs (from a retiring district attorney, no less):
Letang said he does not know what the solution is, but added, "If we can take away from your need to pay for a $500-a-day or $200-a-day habit, if we can reduce that to 10 bucks, then you'd hit a lot less people over the head or steal a lot fewer cars than you are now."