Saturday, December 11, 2004

home invasion and Islamic terrorism

The Belmont Club links to this article in which a British writer, Dr. Ian Stephen, gives advice to people whose homes are broken into:
When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. In most cases the best form of defense is always avoidance. If this isn’t possible, act passively, be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle. This allows the victim to take charge of the situation, without the intruder’s awareness, through subtle and non-confrontational means. People can cooperate but initiate nothing. By doing nothing there is no chance of inadvertently initiating violence by saying something such as "Please don’t hurt me".
What strikes me about this advice is how much it reflects the reaction of many in our society to terrorism. Try to avoid (that is, run away). Failing that, don't resist because that will just make them mad. Don't even complain about them because you never know what will set them off.

It even has the feature of pretending that you are in control of the situation while you cower submissively. That's what's implied by the oxymoron, "active passivity" and the claim that by letting the intruder do whatever he wants, you are "taking charge of the situation". The plan, apparently, is to behave like an abject coward while telling yourself that you are really in control of the situation. That isn't as ridiculous as it sounds: the lie you tell yourself helps to control your fear, so it is perfectly in keeping with the overall theme of cowardice.

One thing that may strike you as you read this is the advice against even begging for mercy or doing anything at all to make the intruder see you as a human being. People who give advice about hostage situations often say just the opposite, that if you can get the hostage taker to see you as a human being, you will be safer. But that is a different situation: a hostage taker typically has his motivation and awareness outward-based. The hostages are merely tools to an end, and it is arguably in your interest to be seen as something more than a tool.

By contrast, a home intruder has nothing to think about other than the victims in the house. And more and more home intruders in Britain are deliberately choosing times when the house is occupied. This implies that having victims is part of their reason for being there.

This isn't historically unusual. Millions of people have lived for generations at the mercy of cruel and violent brigands. For these people it was a survival trait for a man to be able to stand passively while thugs vandalized and stole his property, humiliated and abused him, and raped his wife and daughters (and perhaps himself and his sons too, if the notion took them), and then to go on with his life producing more wealth for the brigands to steal so that they would let him continue to live, and probably raising the bastard children of the brigands as well. People once had to live like that. In some parts of the world, they still do.

In such situations it is reasonable to believe that you are better off if the brigands do not see you as a human being at all, but rather as a cow or sheep, an animal to serve their purposes. You don't want them to think how much they would enjoy making another human being suffer. And you certainly don't want them thinking that you might be considering ways to avenge yourself. No, much safer to be a sheep.

(According to reports, it hasn't gotten this bad in Britain yet, but if trends are allowed to continue, it will. Home intruders will become more bold and more cruel as they find that there are no consequences for their actions. And homeowners will become more frightened and more passive as they realize that they can do nothing to help themselves --in this case, not from fear of the brigands, but from fear of the their own government. This isn't historically unusual either. Very often the brigands that abused a population were officials of a larger government or otherwise protected by a large military force. That larger government prevented the private citizens from mobilizing a militia to put an end to the brigands.)

Perhaps this tendency toward actively passive behavior (also known as "cowardice") is partly genetic. If so, there have been powerful environmental influences to make it a common trait and such a genetic trait would help to explain the European/leftist approach to terrorism. They are in many ways mimicking a helpless homeowner confronted by a cruel and brutal foe. They speak bravely when they think the foe cannot hear. They cower in silence when the foe is threatening them. They give the foe whatever he wants and avoid even criticizing him. They tell themselves they deserve the abuse to make it easier to take and to excuse themselves from self defense. They take the part of the foe against their neighbors, terrified that if the neighbors are not passive enough, the foe will be angry at all of them. They make cowardice a virtue and courage a vice. No matter what successes their neighbors have in attacking the foe, they only fear that it will make the foe more angry.

It seems not to matter whether you are a householder in a small village or a nation on the world stage. Some of your neighbors will want to band together for self defense, and other neighbors will want to submissively give up their wealth and women (as in allowing Muslim immigrants to abuse women) to appease the attacker. And when the courageous men of the village actually fight back, the cowards will hate them for it.

This has all happened hundreds of thousands of times before. There is nothing new under the sun.

Friday, December 10, 2004

George Soros owns the Democratic Party

The Moderate Voice notes (pointer from Instapundit) this comment in a letter from Move On to its membership:
In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive, ... Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back.
But the single largest contributor was George Soros with, if I recall correctly some 10 or 20 million dollars in contributions. More than that, it was his initial investment of 10 million dollars that made them a big-time organization able to raise the rest of the money. They own such a huge debt to Soros, that I don't think it's unreasonable to view it as Soros's organization. So what that quote really amounts to is an agent of George Soros saying on his behalf: "Now it's my party, I bought it, I own it, now I'm going to take it back."

What else did anyone expect, when one man invests tens of millions of dollars for one political party? And where are the campaign-finance reformers who so feared this kind of effect?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

kid's games

Monday Afternoon has some fun posts about games he played as a kid. I'd write about my childhood but it was so long ago I can't remember it...

peeing and the sense of smell

Jonah Goldberg links to this story about a sheriff's deputy that was fired because he made a habit of peeing in a public elevator.

When I read stuff like this, I wonder how it could happen. Couldn't the guy tell he was smelling up the elevator and that people would notice? Of course it's possible that he did notice and just didn't care. But another possibility is that he just has a lousy sense of smell. I wonder if any reporters are going to investigate this...

Monday, December 06, 2004

on calling someone a racist

A commenter, Kevin, on the Belmont Club responds to David Horowitz's accusation that liberals use the word "racist" improperly. His response is to point out several times that David Horowitz has used the word and then to accuse him of a double standard.

David Horowitz has one standard: you can call someone a racist if he is a racist. You shouldn't call someone a racist just because you don't like him or just because he disagrees with you on social policy. When David Horowitz uses the word "racist" he actually means that the person is a racist --that is, the person believes that blacks are less human than whites in some sense (for example, because they hold blacks to a lower standard) or believes that race is an important property for judging people, or something similar.

By contrast, Kevin calls Horowitz a racist because of Horowitz's position on reparations. There is nothing in Horowitz's position that implies he holds blacks to a different standard (quite the opposite) or that he thinks race is an important property for judging people (quite the opposite).

It is this cavalier use of the word that Horowitz criticizes, and not the proper use of the word. Can this really be so hard to understand?

Due to the common misuse of the word, if you are going to call someone a racist today, you owe the reader an explicit account of what you mean by that accusation. And if all you mean by it is someone that doesn't believe the government should give special privileges to minorities, then the word, as used by you, is empty.


Storyblogging Carnival Seven is up at Tales By Sheya.

I had a hard time getting my entry in on time, but Sheya let me slide a little. The number of entries seems to be shrinking a bit. I kind of expected that since it's not easy to produce a story every two weeks. I've had about half new stories and half old stories in my entries, but I'm running out of old stories so now I'm on the hook to write a new one every two weeks. That's probably a good thing.

After I finish episode two of Heroes for Hire I think I'm going to go back to Torus and start writing that as a series. I always liked that story, but I've had trouble making up my mind about the approach. I had some cool technology ideas, but they would give the story something of a comic-book superhero flair, whereas I wanted to write something a bit more serious. If I'm forced to write every two weeks, I have to finally make up my mind.

We'll see.

Until then, be sure to check out the latest Carnival.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

am I a conservative?

Andrew Stuttaford quotes the following from an email
"... Conservatism, as I see it, is ultimately about acknowledging and respecting the lessons of experience in shaping and preserving the social, political, and economic institutions that make a society "work." ...
I've read things like this before, and the most striking thing about it is that by this quite reasonable definition, I'm not much of a conservative.

I do think there are good reasons to respect tradition, but I have no compunction about overthrowing long-standing traditions that I find repugnant. Honor killings are one example. There may be good social effects of such extreme intolerance of sex outside of marriage that it carries an automatic death sentence, whether voluntary or not. It may be very effective in keeping marriage strong and families intact. And it certainly carries the weight of long tradition in some parts of the world. But it is a repugnant practice and I want it ended. Tradition can bite me.

I think the only real description for my point of view is liberal-in-the-old-sense. I believe in liberty. I believe that people should not use force on other people except in self-defense or the defense of others. And I think the government is just a bunch of people, so they should follow the same restrictions.

A Meating of the Mines, scene 4

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

The heroes are riding horses through a forest. Zantar’s saddle has the seat built up so that his feet are actually on the horse’s back.

ROLF: … OK, so you hypothesize that the mine that the dwarves are working has silver…

ZANTAR: The bigs wouldn’t know about it because they can’t smell the difference, but lots of lead mines have silver. And that would explain why the dwarves are there. If we play our cards right, we can get a chunk of it.

ROLF: Fine, but then why are we out here guarding a wagon train for the other party? You know, the party that doesn’t appear to have silver in their lead mine?

ZANTER: (obviously trying to think up an answer as he talks) Because … that way … we can … like … make deals with the dwarves at the other mine … (In sudden triumph) AND THEY WON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE!

ROLF: And that matters because …

ZANTAR: Because it’s more sneaky-like?

An arrow takes Zantar’s horse in the neck. The horse rears up and Zantar whips his axe off of his back and buries the head in a nearby tree in an instant. As the horse falls under him, he is holding the axe handle and it keeps him from falling. He then puts his feet against the tree and tugs his axe out to drop to the ground. Meanwhile there are war cries and Rolf shouts:

ROLF: Ambush! To the trees!

Rolf leaps from his saddle onto a nearby branch and disappears into the tree. A half-dozen men with bandanas over their faces charge out with spears and swords. One hurls a spear at Zantar, who catches it one handed, flips it around and hurls it back. It strikes the leader in the chest, hurling him back like he was hit by a truck. Suddenly, Rolf swings down from a branch (he is holding the branch with one hand and one foot and has a sword in the free hand) he sweeps and slices in two the head of one of the attackers, then he is back in the trees, all in one motion.

The attackers all stop and look into the trees, but Zantar is suddenly there, swinging. As the attackers jump away from him, another gets his head sliced by Rolf. In a moment they are all down.

Shift to a view of the battle over the shoulder of an elf, Ronold. He is standing behind a tree and aiming a bow at Zantar as the last attacker falls. He’s shaking a little and having a hard time aiming. Suddenly Rolf’s voice comes from behind him:

ROLF: I say...

Ronold shrieks and releases the arrow which thunks a tree near Zantar.

ROLF: I hate to be rude …

Ronold drops the crossbow, and turns around. Rolf is just standing there, leaning against a tree with one hand. His sword is in the other.

ZANTAR: (from a distance) Now cut that out!

ROLF: … but I must take exception to the direction in which you were aiming that weapon.

Rolf is interrupted by the sound of running horses and a shout. Four men in armor on horseback ride up to Zantar who is still standing in the midst of the carnage, glaring at Ronold.

GUARD1: Hey, you lillies all right? Who are those guys on the ground?

ZANTER: Yeah, we’re OK. I sure hope the ambushers weren’t smart enough to have two groups, cuz if they were, then the other group is running off the cows right now.

GUARD1: Damn! I didn’t think of that! Back to the wagons! Now!
The guards charge back in the direction they came from.

ZANTAR: (to himself) Probably stealing the draft horses too. Idjits.

Zantar walks toward where Rolf is holding Ronold.

ROLF: Oh dear. The dwarf is possessed of a rather hostile and intractable disposition. He certainly intends to subject you to extreme indignities, not to mention maimings, in an effort to gather information.

RONOLD: Indignities? Maimings? Completely unnecessary I assure you! Whatever information you wish, you need merely ask! I am eager to comply! Anxious even!

ROLF: Anxious?

RONOLD: Quite! In fact, “anxious” may be too paltry a description of my enthusiasm for the project! Ask me a question! (looking sidelong at Zantar who has just arrived) In all my life there has been nothing I craved more than I now crave to answer all your questions. The suspense is quite unbearable.

ZANTAR: Who are you?

RONOLD: (doffing his cap) I thank you most passionately for allowing me to answer a question. My name is Ronold. I am a bard, a traveling man-of-action, and sometime briggand, as you are no doubt aware, but I would not seek to hide it anyway, so eager am I to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. I am currently employed as an agent of the family Cannon. So pleased to make your aquaintence.

ROLF: And what was your intent in attacking us?

RONOLD: A perceptive question indeed! Yes! May I say what a pleasure it is to be interogated by an elf of such fine discernment! Well, as you may be aware, you two fine upstanding gentlemen were riding scout for a wagon train of comestibles, including two fine corn-fed steers.

ZANTAR: Got spies at the stock-yard, huh?

RONOLD: I am stunned, stunned at your penetrating intellect, sir! Yes indeed. I am truly honored by the high quality of interview I am facing. The covert agent at the stock yard is one Benjamin Bowley. A cowpuncher, as they say. Although to my knowledge he is not actually employed to punch cows, nor to assault them in any other way. We paid him half a pewter for the information as to your cargo and itinerary. No doubt you will wish to avenge yourself horribly on him. He has two small children that might make excellent …

ROLF: Yes. Yes. Back to my question please! What did you want with a wagon train of commestibles?

RONOLD: As to that, of course. Thank you for making your wishes so clear. It makes my job as the questionee so much more enjoyable! It seems that the dwarves have been threatening to leave the employ of the Cannons if they are not fed larger quantities of meat. Myself and my late companions were commissioned to meat the mines, as it were. We were allocated certain funds for this purpose, but it occurred to us that if we were to find meat at a lower price, say free, for example, then the untapped funds would naturally accrue to those of us agents who were so frugal.

Ronold stops talking expectantly and Zantar and Rolf just look at him. After a moment, he sighs and reaches into his pouch.

RONOLD: Here it is, forty silver, minus a few small expenses such as the commission paid to Mr. Bowley. (he looks very dejected now for the first time) This is going to make it difficult to meet my obligations to my employer. No doubt I shall lose my position.

Rolf takes the money.

ZANTAR: Not necessarily. Was the meat just for the dwarves?

RONOLD: Primarily.

ZANTAR: Did you know that dwarves like horse meat better than cow meat?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this disturbing bit of information.

ZANTAR: Did you know that they like it a lot better? Maybe enough better to give a tip to the guy who gets it for them?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this also. And the information is becoming a bit less disturbing.

ZANTAR: Did you know there is a dead horse right over there?

Zantar points to his late horse and the two elves look over speculatively.

UPDATE: continued.