Friday, December 16, 2005

"paintball" begins with "pain"

There were a couple of years back in Tucson when I used to go paintballing a lot. We didn't have a dedicated facility; just me and a few guys would get together out in the desert or occasionally in the woods up on Mt. Lemon. We would break up into two teams and play last man standing or capture the flag. It was a blast. Not only was it a lot of fun, it was a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise.

I always had trouble with my goggles. I wore glasses, and that gave three internal glass surfaces to fog up soy the end of a game, I was usually blind. That's why I eventually gave up paintballing in Arizona.

But I wear contacts now, so I was really looking forward to paintballing with a group of friends last weekend. About 14 of us went to ... well I don't know what you would call it, maybe a "paintball place".

The paintball place is just a shop that rents paintball equipment and has a couple of big open rooms in it with inflated barriers. The paintball place supplies the gun, the paint, the room and the referees, and you supply the murderous intent.

I talked three women into going by promising that the paintballs don't hurt that much. I'm a ba-a-a-ad boy. But I wasn't really lying; I was mistaken. The painful memories had faded into the mists of time; I had just forgotten how much it hurts. And anyway, when you are crawling through cactus to sneak up on someone, the snap of a paintball is relatively not all that painful.

So anyway, paintball guns hurt. At close range (like two or three feet) they can draw blood. But what difference does that make? After all, the goal is to not get shot. You don't go into a game expecting to get shot, you go into a game expecting to win. Only the other guys get shot. If you let someone shoot you, you LOSE. Of what significance is that little snapping pain compared to the humiliation, the agony of inglorious defeat?

I tried to explain this to Sarika and Shreya but they weren't buying it. All three of the women were out by the end of the third game.


You usually get hit on your way back to the safety area. Those are the hits that really hurt. It sort of works like this: you charge forward, your adrenalin pumping, firing high-volume paint at the enemy, looking for an opening, then THWAP, THWAP. You get stung by one to three balls. You go "nuts". Being out of the game is the bad part; you hardly notice the pain.

Then you turn around to trudge disconsolately back to the safety area, your head down, your shoulders slumped in defeat. Then THWAP. A paintball hits you in the back. You go, "OWW! Gosh, durn it, I'm out. Quit shooting!" And you decide that instead of retiring from the field in a slow walk, you should be retreating in a jog. Then THWAP. THWAP. THWAP. And one hits you in the rump where it really stings. "OWW. I'm %#*% OUT! QUIT %%*# SHOOTING AT ME." Of course you are yelling as you convert your jogging retreat into a full sprinting rout.

Frankly, indoor paintball isn't much fun. As I said, you get hit more after you are out than you do during the game. And there isn't any strategy or woodcraft involved. It's just: get behind a barrier and poke your head out as little as possible while you try to hit the little bit of someone else that is poking out from behind a barrier. Bo-o-oring.

That said, it's still something I'd encourage everyone to do once, especially if you can do it outdoors.

This particular session had another problem: the referees. One referee especially, kept yelling at us like a camp counselor at a camp for wayward high schoolers. This guy also gave us the orientation and he immediately got my hackles up with his attitude. I don't have any trouble taking instruction. Really. But this guy was just obnoxious about it.

If it had been just me, I probably would have laid into him right then, but there were the other people in the group and I didn't want to ruin things for everyone so I just kept quiet. I told myself that I could kick his butt later if need be. No, that's not really true. I was really thinking to myself, "This guy is probably really good with high schoolers and that's who he is used to dealing with. I'm sure they don't get a lot of adults in there. He just doesn't know how to adjust his orientation for adults; he's not deliberately trying to provoke us. He may live for now."

Well, that held out for two games. This guy spent the first two games screaming at people for safety infractions. Now, I don't mind the fact that he was just yelling. But you can yell relatively politely, or you can yell with an angry, aggressive voice. And that's what this guy was doing. Fortunately, I followed instructions so the guy didn't have any cause to yell at me directly. Unfortunately, Sarika didn't follow instructions. The guy started screaming at her as she stood right next to me.

I couldn't put up with that. I mean this guy was probably over six feet and close to three hundred pounds, screaming at a slight woman of 5' 2". Not that he intimidated her at all; she just ignored him, but I couldn't ignore it. So I yelled back at him to stop screaming at us like we were a bunch of high schoolers. That led some other referees to gang up on me. If I had known where they were, there would have been a huge fight, but I couldn't see them. I just looked around in bewilderment as these two knew voices joined in the argument. Where the heck were they? It turned out they were right above me on this catwalk, but I couldn't see them because the goggles restrict vision so much.

After that game we had another orientation. This time the guy used a less aggressive tone of voice. He explained again how important the rules are and that they were just trying to protect us. I told him I had no problem with them enforcing the rules but I expected them to do so with courtesy.

There was no more screaming after that, but it may be in part because the people who provoked the screaming didn't play any more.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the execution of Tookie Williams

I'm watching a special news show covering the Tookie Williams execution. Although I'm for the death penalty, there is no doubt that taking the life of a human being is an enormous and terrible thing. It is hard to sit here and follow the death watch.

Williams has had nothing but oatmeal to eat on his last day. He refused his last meal and has only had milk and water. His last visitors left around 6 pm and he has been alone since then, except for corrections people. He did not accept the offer of a clergyman visitor.

Although he originally said that it would be "disgusting" to ask friends and family members to be witnesses for the condemned, Williams changed his mind and he will have his five witnesses. I speculate that as the end of life draws near, the superficial things like pride become less important and the comfort of friends becomes more important.

Williams has already been taken to the building where the death chamber is. He may already be in the chamber. They will (or have already) insert two I.V. needles into him. One is a backup so that the execution is less likely to be interrupted. They will first give him a sedative through the I.V. Then they will give him a saline solution. Then a drug to paralyze his voluntary muscular activity. This will stop his breathing. Then they will administer another saline solution. The last thing they put through the I.V. will stop his heart.

The process will be watched by three groups of witnesses. One group from the media, one group from the families of the victims, and one group by special invitation of the condemned. The different groups of witnesses will not come into contact with each other, and their names will not be made public unless they chose to come forward.


As of 12:36 am on the thirteenth day of December in the year of our Lord 2005, Tookie Williams has gone before his maker to give account of his actions on this earth. I am reminded that some day this will be my fate as well. And I am no more worthy of God's mercy than Mr. Williams. So I say, may God have mercy on his soul.

Interview with a crowd member:

"Why did this execution bring out such a large crowd?"

"I think it's because of what Tookie Williams means. He shows us that we have a chance of change, of redemption."

They said that there were 1,500 people there. A small group was in favor of the execution, but according to the news people, the large majority were opposed.


A press witness describes the execution. Williams did not struggle. He spoke to his witnesses during the process. It took almost ten minutes to find the second vein.

Two men and one woman among Williams's supporters made black power signs during the process. At death announcement someone shouted that California has killed an innocent man. The witnesses were told when they went in that they were not allowed to make outbursts. It comes as no surprise to me that Williams was the kind of man who attracted friends to whom the rules do not apply.

Dora Owens, stepmother of a victim, who had stared passively at Williams throughout the execution, began to cry after the outburst. Maybe she was crying at the end of her long wait for justice or maybe she was crying at the tragedy of a man, the man who shouted, who doesn't grasp the concept of justice.

The man who shouted that accusation used the words of justice, but he didn't really care if Tookie Williams was guilty or innocent. This man cared only about his clan, his tribe, his own people. He took the side of Williams, not because he really believed Williams was innocent, but because Williams was family. He took the side of a murderer and felt righteous about it. And not for one moment will he be humbled by the thought that if the people of California, those who he condemns in such self-righteous terms, shared his own morality, then Williams would have died long ago.

Monday, December 12, 2005

you heard it here first

Dean and Instapundit have posts up with some stories about how Muslims are starting to join the war against terrorism. This is clearly a direct result of George Bush's foreign policy. He is making it safer for Muslims to oppose terrorism and he is making it look like terrorism is the losing side (and nobody wants to be on the losing side).

I predict that the leftists will continue to scorn Bush's foreign policy, insisting that the problems of the Muslim world are too deep, that the "Arab street" will always be full of irrational hatred and anger, and that it is just too dangerous for us to respond to force with force, until it becomes obvious that things really are changing for the better. At that point, these critics will do a 180 and claim that the problems never were that serious, that the "Arab street" never really was behind terrorism, that the whole thing was a historical hiccup that was destined to fade away, and that anyone who was paying attention should have known this.

That's how they responded to Reagan's strategy in the Cold War. The Communists were unbeatable and it was horribly dangerous to resist them until they were beaten. Then they were a paper tiger that never posed us any danger and Ronald Reagan's strategy had nothing to do with it.

Pajamas Media

I got a link from Pajamas Media for that story on the AAP and I'm seeing a lot of traffic from it.

Ironically, I'm sitting here in my pajamas as I write this (I usually log on for a few minutes before I get ready for work).


Donald Crankshaw is accepting submissions for the next Storyblogging Carnival. If you have ever posted a story on your blog you can enter it into the Carnival. There are no date limits.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

without pessimists, all the optimists would be dead

That's an old saying that Donald Crankshaw just made up.

He should put it on his blog business card.

I had to come up with one too: "The optimist dies a thousand deaths, the pessimist only one. And he saw that one coming."

what the AAP won't tell us

Here is an article from the AAP about some mob violence in Australia (via Instapundit). The AAP is the Australian Associated Press, the Australian national news agency.

Go ahead and read the piece. See anything missing? You have to wonder whether the AAP is trying to report the news here or to conceal it. After all, this is a story about mob violence, one group against another, yet the article, throughout most of the narrative, fails to reveal what group the various actors are. If we don't know who did what, we really don't know what happened, do we?

Let's go through some of the article:
an ambulance called to the scene to treat five people injured in today's violence has been attacked by a mob who shattered its windows.
What group were the five people? What group were the ambulance drivers? What group was the mob that broke the windows?
police have been pelted with beer bottles, and their patrol cars stomped on, as the outnumbered officers struggled to maintain control.
Did both groups attack police or only one of the groups?
"What has been occurring on some fronts is that people of Middle Eastern backgrounds that have been seen in the Cronulla area – a swarm of the crowd has approached these people with vile abuse, in the most un-Australian way," Mr Goodwin said.
Ah, finally. Nine paragraphs into the article we learn who the groups are. It seems from this quote that a bunch of people of Middle Eastern backgrounds who were peacefully using the beach were violently attacked by a crazed mob of white Australians. We'll come back to that "it seems" in a moment.
"... we have sections of the crowd that have swollen towards young Arabic males and females, who have been using this beach."
More unprovoked violence against those innocent Arabs?
Earlier today, police rushed to Cronulla train station where a mob ran there from the foreshore after receiving a text message saying a group of Lebanese people were trying to leave. Mr Goodwin said the text message was wrong, but sparked a scuffle at the station between the crowd and police.
Ah hah! Here we have it again. The Lebanese just wanted to leave and a bunch of white hooligans were attacking them and attacking the police.
Earlier, a police spokeswoman said two men, aged 32 and 20, had been charged with offensive behaviour.
A third man had been arrested and was expected to be charged with assault, she said
What group?
Authorities had expected trouble today after two violent incidents at the beach last week – an attack on two lifeguards on Sunday and a brawl later in the week in which youths turned on a media crew. A series of text messages then began circulating, encouraging members of two rival groups of beach users to attack each other.
What race the attackers, what race the lifeguards and what race the media crew? This is apparently where the violence began, but the AAP doesn't tell us what happened. Did a bunch of white Australians beat up some Arab lifeguards? Did a bunch of Arabs beat up some white lifeguards? What started the beating? If it was Arabs beating up the lifeguards, did they do it because the lifeguards were baring too much skin for sensitive Muslim eyes? If it was whites, did they do it because they they don't like brown people? What motivated the violence?

What was the media crew doing there? Were they covering the lifeguard beating or just hanging out? Were they white or Arab?

Were there any arrests in either incident? What did the police do? Where are the quotes from police and civic leaders about those incidents?

Who were these two rival gangs? Was it the whites and the Arabs? If so, this is the first hint that the Arabs weren't passive victims in the event; they may have had a gang too, but the AAP is too coy to tell us outright.

Actually, if you read carefully, there was earlier the faintest breath of a hint that it was Muslims who attacked the news crew also. See the word "youths" there? Recall any recent news stories with the word "youth" being used for a group of violent people? That's what the MSM was calling the rioters in Paris a few weeks ago. Is this a new raceless racial code word? Are we now supposed to translated "youth" to "someone from one of those troublesome Muslim countries" when we read news stories?
One of the messages had urged "Aussies" to take revenge against "Lebs and wogs". Another urged locals to rally at a point on the beach today to take retaliation against "middle eastern" gangs.
Ah, "revenge" and "retaliation" against "Lebs and wogs". So apparently the whites thought that the Arabs had done something worth retaliating against. What? I dunno. I have some guesses, but these are only inferences from vague information; the AAP doesn't tell me. By now, if you are a careful reader, you have realized that perhaps this wasn't an unprovoked attack against peaceful Arabs. It only seemed that way because of the way the AAP reported it.

Fortunately for us, there are blogs. If the professional reporters won't tell us what happened, then blogger Splat Guy will (via Tim Blair):
* Last weekend some people, probably Lebanese Muslims, bashed a bunch of lifeguards at Cronulla Beach, including knocking one unconscious. They also harassed girls and women on the beach.

* Residents, pissed off by the violence, got angry at the lack of police attendance and presence.

* The anger morphed into a rage that the beach was being "invaded" by people from the western suburbs (i.e., a euphemism for Lebanese Muslims).

* Some people started texting to incite others to "defend the beach" from thugs.

* Today they did that by forming a violent, rowdy mob.
Ah hah! So it was the Arabs who attacked first. Even more, it wasn't just one incident. The AAP also failed to tell us that the Arabs were Muslims and were going around harassing white females. We wouldn't know this at all if not for bloggers. Most likely the lifeguards were defending some girls that the Muslims were harassing and they got beat up for it.

Then the police did nothing. We have seen this before in Europe where Muslim violence is met with passivity by officials. If this is actually what happened, then the Aussies had good reason to be angry. The AAP carefully avoided telling us that the trouble started with Muslims using intimidation and violence against non-Muslims.

The offense against good reporting continues in another AAP article (via Tim Blair)
There have been a number of incidents of property damage in the past hour-and-a-half that included broken windows and damage to motor vehicles," he said.

Reports on radio station 2GB indicated up to 50 vehicles with passengers armed with "baseball bats" had been causing trouble in Maroubra, in Sydney's east.

Police have set up a command post in the area, 2GB reported.

Sky News reported that a group of people in cars and with baseball bats, bits of wood and stakes, had "slammed every single car" in some streets.

"The windows were smashed out", one report said.

One eyewitness reported every car in a section of Maroubra Road had had their windows and windscreens smashed, and glass was littering the road.

In Wride Street, a group of 50 local people chased after the offenders on foot before disappearing into units in the area.
Without Tim Blair, we wouldn't know that the bat-wielding thugs that are going around destroying cars are Arab Muslims. Why does the AAP think it's important to report that whites engage in mob violence against Arabs and that local officials are horrified about it, but when Arabs engage in organized mob violence against whites, the details aren't very important, and no one cares enough to say that it's a bad thing?

Here's more from that second article:
There were also reports of crowd trouble at beachside suburbs of Kyeemagh and Brighton Le Sands, in Sydney's south.
Couldn't the AAP find out any details about this violence? Tim Blair didn't help us out with this one but here is my guess based on what the AAP doesn't say: the violence at the other suburbs is organized intimidation by Muslims against Aussies. Following the trends of the rest of these two articles, if the violence in the other suburbs were by Aussies against Muslims or if it were mutual violence, then the AAP would have been sure to tell us that Aussies were getting out of control again. It seems that whenever they won't tell you who is being violent, it's Arabs.

What's interesting about this is how the bloggers, both Tim Blair and Splat Guy can mix news with editorializing and still give me more factual information about what happened than the professional news outfit can give me in a straight news piece.

This is why the MSM is fading.

Steven Malcolm Anderson, RIP

My favorite frequent commenter over at Dean's World, Steven Malcolm Anderson, has died suddenly. I am surprised at how sad I am. I never met the man and all that I knew about him was what he wrote, but I feel that I have lost a friend.

How is it that I feel so bad about a man I never met? Many authors, actors, and performers that I knew have died. What was different about Steven? I suppose it was that I didn't just read what he wrote, but responded to him, and he would sometimes respond to me. We interacted, even if only through the comments at Dean's World. We were aware of each other, not merely as a collection of written ideas, but as living souls.

Rest in Peace, Steven Malcolm Anderson.