April 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Twitterverse is aflame with news of the Boston Marathon incident. Since the start of the bombing, all major news outlets were flooded with a constant stream of information of the crime, video updates, pictures of the suspects, and the capture of one Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev just hours earlier. (His brother, Tamerlan, was killed while running away from the police.) It is believed that Tsarnaev is a US citizen who was naturalized last year. I won’t belabor you with all the details of the manhunt; all major news agencies are running the story as we speak. But mondo kudos to all the law enforcement agencies who worked on the case; it took merely four days to identify and capture the suspect, no small feat on the part of all the officers.
Unfortunately, now that Tsarnaev is captured, no doubt the round of lawyering will begin in earnest. The media circus surrounding the trial should start soon. In the meantime, congratulations to the law enforcement officers who went home safe and sound. You guys did good.
April 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Dad’s got a problem where he installed Mint 14 with the NVIDIA 660 TI. No happiness though because when he tries to log into the system, the screen flashes and kicks him back out to the login screen. I suspect NVIDIA driver issue. So I’m having him execute the following:
$ uname -a
Linux cherubim 3.5.0-17-generic #28-Ubuntu SMP Tue Oct 9 19:31:23 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-3.5.0-17-generic
$ sudo apt-get install nvidia-current nvidia-current-updates nvidia-settings nvidia-settings-updates
Just curious though if anyone out there has a 660 Ti, running Mint 14, and if this worked for you.
March 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
-Wall Street Journal
It was 1998, and Iraq and the U.S. were edging toward war.
The Iraqi dictator, President Clinton warned that February, threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region, and the security of all the rest of us. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal.” In October, the Iraq Liberation Act, which made regime change in Iraq official U.S. policy, passed 360-38 in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate. In December, Mr. Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombardment of Iraq with the declared purpose of degrading Saddam’s WMD capability.”Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, justifying the case for military action on the eve of Mr. Clinton’s impeachment.
Whatever else might be said about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which began 10 years ago, its origins, motives and justifications did not lie in the Administration of George W. Bush. On the contrary, when Mr. Bush came to office in January 2001 he inherited an Iraq that amounted to a simmering and endless crisis for the U.S.—one that Saddam appeared to be winning.
American and British warplanes enforced a no-fly zone over northern and southern Iraq at a cost of $1 billion a year. The U.N.’s Oil for Food sanctions designed to “contain” Saddam were crumbling amid international opposition to its effects on the Iraqi people, even as the regime used the sanctions as a propaganda tool and as a vehicle to bribe foreign officials. Iraqi Kurds were in perpetual jeopardy, as Saddam demonstrated in 1996 when his Republican Guard took the city of Irbil and shot 700 Kurdish partisans.
Most seriously, after 1998 Iraq rid itself of weapons inspectors, meaning there wasn’t even a small check on Saddam’s ambitions to rebuild a WMD capability he had already proved willing to use. When the weapons inspectors finally returned to Iraq in the run-up to the invasion, they found Saddam playing the same cat-and-mouse games that had defeated them in the 1990s.
“No confidence can arise that proscribed programs or items have been eliminated,” chief U.N. weapons inspector (and avowed war opponent) Hans Blix reported to the Security Council in January 2003, adding that “the Iraqi regime had allegedly misplaced 1,000 tons of VX nerve agent—one of the most toxic ever developed.”
It was on these bases, and in the wake of the deadly 9/11 attacks, that Mr. Bush ordered the invasion [The United States Senate supported Mr. Bush 77-23 with approximately half of Democrats supporting Mr. Bush's decision -TK]. If he had lied about the intelligence—as was so widely alleged after the failure to find WMD—then so had Mr. Clinton in 1998, and so had the intelligence services of every Western intelligence service, including those of countries like Germany that opposed the war. Similarly, if Mr. Bush is to be blamed for going to war “illegally” because the U.S. failed to obtain explicit Security Council authorization, then so must Mr. Clinton for going to war with Serbia over Kosovo without U.N. blessing.So much for the usual canards about the war. As for the failure to find WMD, what the postwar Iraq Survey Group concluded was that Saddam had the intention of restarting his weapons programs as soon as sanctions were lifted. “It was reasonable to conclude that Iraq posed an imminent threat,” David Kay, the ISG’s first head, testified to Congress in January 2004. “What we learned during the inspection made Iraq a more dangerous place, potentially, than, in fact, we thought it was even before the war.”
The larger intelligence (and military) failure was not anticipating the kind of war the U.S. would wind up waging in Iraq. General Tommy Franks planned a conventional military thrust to Baghdad while Saddam was laying the groundwork for the insurgency that would follow. The result was that U.S. commanders thought the war was effectively finished before it had really begun.
That mistake was compounded by General John Abizaid’s “light footprint” strategy, which effectively ceded cities such as Fallujah to the insurgents while U.S. forces stayed on secure bases or conducted search-and-destroy operations. By the time Mr. Bush finally ordered Fallujah taken, late in 2004, the insurgency was full-blown and increasingly difficult to contain.
Those weren’t Mr. Bush’s only mistakes. He agreed to Paul Bremer’s over-long regency in Iraq. He allowed Colin Powell to try diplomacy with Syria even as Bashar Assad was turning Damascus into a safe haven for Saddam loyalists and a transit center for al Qaeda jihadists. He did little to stop Iran from supplying both Shiite and Sunni insurgents with armor-busting munitions that killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers. He deferred for too long to mediocre commanders who thought it wasn’t their business to defeat an insurgency they believed could only be solved through political means.
Above all, the Administration proved amazingly inept at rebutting its critics, particularly the politicians and pundits (you know who you are) who supported the war when it was popular and opposed it when it was not. Joe Wilson was proved a liar by a bipartisan Senate report, yet the myth persists that President Bush misled the public in his 2003 State of the Union address by claiming that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa, largely because Administration officials needlessly conceded a point on which they were right.
The Administration also offered shifting rationales for the war. It stressed the WMD threat when it was trying to make a legal case at the U.N., and it later emphasized the importance of bringing democracy to the Middle East. Yet the central goal for the war—the one that topped an eight-point list in an internal White House memo from October 2002—was to create an Iraq that “does not threaten its neighbors.” Had the Bush Administration stressed that the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction in Iraq was Saddam and his family, it would have run into less political trouble on the WMD claims.
These failures were all the more tragic because they obscured much of what the war achieved. Today Iraq threatens none of its neighbors; it’s a measure of the completeness of the transformation that we take this for granted. The war convinced Moammar Gadhafi to acknowledge and abandon his nuclear weapons program, making his eventual overthrow possible, and it even briefly succeeded in halting the Iranian nuclear program, something subsequent diplomatic efforts have failed to do.
Iraq’s people are no longer under constant threat of imprisonment, torture and murder; Kurds, Shiites and Marsh Arabs are not at risk of genocide. And while Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has an authoritarian streak, he is neither a sociopath nor a fanatic, which makes for a favorable comparison with many of his neighbors.
Despite partisan attacks that the war in Iraq was somehow a diversion from the real war on terror in Afghanistan, that’s not how Osama bin Laden saw it. The war in Iraq, he said in December 2004, is “the most important and serious issue today for the whole world”; victory there, Ayman al Zawahiri said the following year, was the necessary condition for establishing a caliphate. What happened instead, thanks to the combination of the U.S. surge and the Sunni Awakening, was that al Qaeda was defeated militarily and rejected politically. That’s more than can be said about the Taliban today.
All this was achieved by the time Mr. Bush left office: Unlike President Clinton, he bequeathed his successor an opportunity instead of a crisis. President Obama could have capitalized strategically on that by negotiating a status of forces agreement that anchored the U.S. relationship to Iraq and provided a U.S. military bulwark against Iran.
Instead, Mr. Obama chose to capitalize politically with a full withdrawal that appealed to his left base and furnished him with a campaign slogan. The result is an Iraq that is looking out for its own interests, with little concern for how they square with America’s. Don’t be surprised if someday Iraq is remembered as the war George Bush won and the peace Barack Obama lost.
Today’s conventional wisdom is that the Iraq war was an unmitigated fiasco that squandered American lives and treasure for the sake of a goal that wasn’t worth the price. It’s certainly true the Iraq war is a cautionary tale about the difficulty democracies have in sustaining lengthy military campaigns for any goal short of national survival.
What’s also true, however, is that the war came about because the crisis of Iraq was allowed to fester for a decade, because Saddam was a real menace, and because a world in which he had been allowed to survive would have been far worse for America and the region. The men and women who fought and died removed a grave threat to the Middle East and to America.
As long as the U.S. remains a great power, it will eventually have to fight such a war again. When that day comes, let’s hope our political and military leaders will have learned the right lessons from this bitter but necessary war.
March 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Recently I heard this liberal (I think) radio talk show host talking about a case where a Wayne Bengston murdered Gregory Rodriguez out of an apparent jealous rage. Rodriguez was a host of a TV hunting show and an editor of Guns & Ammo magazine. (Read the story here.) I don’t remember the whole monologue, but the gist is that having more guns won’t protect you from getting killed, so we should not push for more guns. And because the deceased was a gun magazine editor and a host of a hunting show, he probably had many guns, right?
For some reason, that really irked me. Let’s break this down.
For the rest of this article, I shall refer to radio show host as Mr. Moron (I won’t say which show). In order for Mr. Moron’s argument to work, there have to be a number of assumptions attached to his logic.
- First, we have to assume that Rodriguez actually owned guns. It’s logical to assume that he probably did, but this struck me as laziness. A little fact-checking would have cleared up this point. But if someone won’t even verify something as simple as this, I’m not sure what other corners were cut.
- Second, we have to assume that we in the USA live in a constant and static environment where things stay the same all the time. In the case of Rodriguez, the assumed static environment is that we are ALWAYS in a lawful and civilized society 24/7.
- Third, we have to assume that the assailant is abiding by laws and rules that govern the said society 24/7.
Our astute readers would have figured out the gaping flaws in this line of logic, but in case you don’t, lemme ‘splain. Mr. Moron’s first assumption conveniently ignores what type of gun(s) Mr. Rodriguez might have owned. According to the Reuters article, Mr. Rodriguez was an avid big-game hunter, which means that if Mr. Rodriguez did own firearms, they would most likely be the type used for big-game hunting, the types of arms usually not suited for personal self-defense. But this is actually the smallest of the assumptions, so I won’t spend too much time here.
Mr. Moron’s second assumption is quite dangerous. He assumes that we in the US always live in a lawful and civilized society 24/7; this is patently false. We in the US live in a lawful and civilized society most of the time. But when someone attacks us, the paradigm instantly shifts to survival mode; normal laws of the land no longer applies during the attack. The police can protect us, sure, but only if THEY’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE WHEN THE CRIME OCCURS. (What are the odds of that?!?!) If the policemen aren’t around, you have only you to protect yourself.
Mr. Moron’s third assumption is even more ridiculous. When an assailant decides to attack you with whatever means possible, he or she no longer cares about rules and laws of the land. His or her only mission is to hurt you for whatever reason they thought appropriate. As I stated earlier, the paradigm is now shifted to survival mode. When you are attacked by an assailant, it is no different than being attacked by a bear or a wolf on your scenic hike. All you can do at that moment is to try to survive the encounter so you can go home at the end. When you’re attacked, you should protect yourself, and you should have the right to protect yourself. How you choose to do so is up to you, your self-defense & firearm instructors, and whatever local and federal laws that apply, but you should at least have that option. What amazes me is that the folks who cry bloody murder about their rights of pro-choice is suddenly mute on the issues of gun ownership and smoking. If you think about it, it’s the same thing––the issue of not having the government interfere with your life. But all too often people focus too hard on the tree at the expense of the forest; very little can be done about folks with myopia.
If you happen to be a wealthy politician, of course guns are moot; you have a gaggle of security personnels at your disposal, so you never have to lift a finger to fight for your life. But for average citizens, we can’t afford that option. To make do with what we have, one of the best options for self-defense is a firearm. I’m not saying everyone should by a gun; absolutely not. However, we should have that option should we choose it. Your neighbor may choose not to get a firearm. Great; a gun isn’t for everyone. I am saying that it should be up to the individual to decide.
When you think about it, the Rodriguez case is actually an argument to grant more CCW licenses. The Reuters article did not indicate whether Rodriguez carried a gun or not, and I could not find other articles with more information. If he did, perhaps things happened too fast and he couldn’t reach for his weapon. That happens; sometimes things are out of our control. If not, maybe a gun could have saved his life. As I said with my bears and wolves example, you want as many options at your fingertips as you can when you have a deadly encounter. Angry words (or birds) and gnashing of teeth won’t help you, but you are free to make your choice. Should someone twist his or her ankle while running away from the bear though, I’d want that person to have two shotguns and 10 boxes of shells so he or she would at least have a fighting chance.
Since I personally have no intention to rob banks or hurt people, I want to have self-defense options available, including firearms. You may choose differently, but the choice should be there for everyone, and the government should not be the one to give or take that choice.
February 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
by Victor Davis Hanson
February 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
The global causes of postfamilialism are diverse, and many, on their own, are socially favorable or at least benign. The rush of people worldwide into cities, for example, has ushered in prosperity for hundreds of millions, allowing families to be both smaller and more prosperous. Improvements in contraception and increased access to it have given women far greater control of their reproductive options, which has coincided with a decline in religion in most advanced countries. With women’s rights largely secured in the First World and their seats in the classroom, the statehouse, and the boardroom no longer tokens or novelties, children have ceased being an economic or cultural necessity for many or an eventual outcome of sex.
Wow, no surprise there.
As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees—basically their parents—and working-age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor and creating a culture marked by hyperindividualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes.
Notice the themes: more access to contraception, decline in religion, soaring entitlement costs, diminished economic vigor (today’s economy is the “new normal” the Left tells us), what can I get from government, the erosion of the family, and of course, dependence on the state.
These are all things that keep the Left in power. When the Left wins, America loses.
Remember The Life of Julia , the Obama campaign ad that promised cradle-to-grave (or, preschool to nursing home) care paid for by the government?
As spoken by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright – the chickens of Leftist social policy over the last 30-40 years are coming home to roost. Or, as the article put it -
The lack of productive screwing could further be screwing the screwed generation.
Which means, I guess, we’re all screwed. Yep, elections have consequences.
February 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In Romans 3:23 we read – “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We recognize this as hamartia – missing the mark – in this regard, we are all sinners (subject to the fallen human condition), and we all need a Saviour.
This harmartia and our consequent need for a Saviour are not, however, gradations of evil (I use the terms “sin” and “evil” synonymously throughout). If we look at the Old Testament we see that different penalties were prescribed for different offences. So it seems that God recognizes that certain evil acts are more (or less) serious (i.e. evil) than other evil acts.
For example, even if one always regards killing a person as an evil/sin, there are still gradations of sin (“kill” vs. “murder”, that’s why we have two words in English – as in Hebrew – for homicide). King David “killed his ten thousands” in battle and yet the only “killing” for which he appeared to be held morally accountable was that of Uriah (the immoral killing of an innocent, i.e. murder). While one may posit that all killing is in some degree sinful, not all killing is morally equivalent, i.e. equally sinful.
Another gradation is evil done in God’s name. Evil in the name of God is especially heinous because unlike secular evil (e.g. Nazism, Communism) it brings God’s Name into disrepute, therefore driving people away from God. The chanting of “God is Great” (“Allahu Akbar”) by Muslim terrorists as they slit the throats of innocent people or blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces is perhaps the greatest evil a human being can commit.
There is also evidence from the New Testament that God demarcates certain kinds of evil from other evil. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is condemned by Christ as “unforgivable,” yet nearly every other sin (evil) God has promised to forgive (1 John 1:9).
As a final example consider lying. There are some who wrongly interpret the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” as a prohibition against all lying. Even assuming all lying is (evil) sinful, is lying to a tyrannical government about whether one is hiding a dissident the moral equivalent of perjury (lying under oath in a court of law)? Of course not. Lying to the tyrant is morally virtuous while perjury is a grave sin.
So while the point of demarcation may vary with the context of the sin – which is fine and I have no issue with that – most people intuitively, as well as biblically, understand that there are gradations of sin: the person that takes an office pen is not committing as grievous a sin as the person who commits first-degree murder.
The recognition of gradations of evil by Orthodox Christians cannot be dismissed as a “Jewish” thing, or a “Western”, “Catholic” or scholastic thing.
In fact, our very own Orthodox Prayer Book discusses on page 28, “The Seven Grievous Sins.” Sins that are “grievous” imply the existence of sins that are not grievous (otherwise the word “grievous” is meaningless). Ergo, grievous and non-grievous constitute gradations of sin. One may say that well, we’ve been influenced by the West, but the prayer book was authorized by Metropolitan Philip in 1980, and not all influences of the West are necessarily bad.
Finally, if we hold ourselves as capable of morally distinguishing between evils but we deny that God is able to do the same (or for whatever reason refuses to do so), do we not make ourselves objectively more righteous than our Creator? WE can make moral distinctions but God cannot.
While it’s true that the West has lost the mystical character of ancient Christianity (I avoid the term mysticism, because that conjures up superstition), and while it’s true that human reason cannot explain everything, the Christian Faith needs to be able to stand up to basic precepts of logic. This is especially true in the area of moral theology.
Denying that some sins are in fact worse than others shatters Christianity’s moral compass, and renders moral decision-making quite difficult for the believer.