Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frikking BRILLIANT!

Ok, this has got to be the best thing I've ever read about driving around trucks (as in OTR combination tractor trailer vehicles exceeding 10,500lbs GVWR)

Mike’s Rules Of The Road

Reader Eric Parsons thinks that my list of stuff for long distance car trips is overkill; and for some of it he's right; but that list is based on my own personal experience crossing the country by car dozens of times. I've needed everything in my car at least twice.

Specifically, some of those items are for driving through the small mountain highways off the interstate, and on backline county roads. Generally speaking, the interstate is a far less exciting place so to speak.

Although I'm not a commercial truck driver, I HAVE been a courier driver (local and interstate), a security driver, an executive driver, and a roadie for a long haul mover. I've probably logged 4 or 5 times as many miles as the average driver (oh and for Mike, I HAVE been to Bondurants, and Barber, and a couple other. Great times.).

Just as an example, in the last year, during which time I have not been employed as a driver, and I lived at most 20 miles from my place of business, I have driven about 30,000 miles (which considering gas prices.....). Much of that was in long car trips (all around AZ, nor-cal, tour of Utah, tour of CO, trip to TX etc...).

Now think about a long haul truckers road time for a second: My long haul friends tell me they do at least 125,000-150,000 road miles per year, and that's well below maxium.

If you're on O/O (0wner Operator) working as many days per year as you can cram in, at up to 800 miles per day (assuming they keep vaguely legal), you can break in to 200k territory, maybe even 250k (if you're loaded all the time and have no life). If you're team driving you might do 50% more than that.

Think maybe they might know a little bit about driving?

H/T: Eric Parsons

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Driving through...

I got a message from a young friend of mine heading off to college, basically asking for some advice; since I have done the cross country, mountain, and desert drive many times.

His trip will be from central California, to south texas, crossing through AZ, NM, and then into Texas. Not that big a deal for an experienced long distance driver, but it's his first drive half way across the country so hey...

Also, I'll be flying out to jersey to help Jim drive back across country when he moves to AZ at the end of August.

Anyway, here's what I think everyone should know about how to deal with desert and mountain travelling.

Okay first, just on the car front (all of this assumes a basically sound vehicle):
  1. Check your AC out before you leave, and make sure it is fully charged. You very definitely do not want your AC to go out in the middle of the desert at 135 degrees on the blacktop (its from 20 to 40 degrees hotter on the road surface than the "official" temperature).

  2. Check your belts, hoses, tires, and windshield wipers/washer system. All of the first three are absolutely critical, and put under a lot of stress by the heat, and the mountains. If your belts fail, and you dont notice for a while (which is entirely possible) you are going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

    Oh and VERY important, make sure you check your tire pressure every time you get gas (or at least every other time), and inspect the tires for damage.

    Also every time you get gas, wash your head and tail-lights, and your windows.

  3. Change your oil, coolant, and transmission fluid (if you have an automatic). You are going to be spending a lot of time at low speed and high RPM, which is very tough on oil and coolant. Mountains and heat are especially bad for automatic transmissions.

    First, you want to use a heavier viscosity oil (preferably a synthetic); I personally use a 15w50 full synthetic, though some recommend not using such a wide viscosity range.

    Next you want to change your coolant out, and instead of 50:50, you want to mix 1/4 antifreeze, 3/4 water, and a bottle of water wetter . In fact, if you dont drive or live in environments that freeze at all; you should just run straight up water and water wetter. Trust me it's great stuff. Oh, and ALWAYS use distilled water.

    As to your transmission, I HIGHLY recommend a heavy duty synthetic trans fluid (red line is your friend, but expensive).

    If you have a manual, you should probably get your clutch and shift linkage checked, and change the fluids; but it may be prohibitively expensive to do so depending on your vehicle.

  4. Change your air filter. You will be driving through dusty nasty environments, for several thousand miles, and a clogged air filter is a BAD THING. While you're at it, use the opportunity to use a better filter like a K&N etc...

  5. Check out and possibly change your plugs, wires, and battery. Hot weather does bad things to batteries (as bad as very cold weather), and if your battery is iffy, now is the time to change it.
Second, dealing with the desert:
  1. Bring LOTS of water.

  2. BRING LOTS MORE WATER. Just for emergency purposes in case you brake down or overheat, I like to keep at least 2 gallons per person in the car (I usually keep 2 one gallon jugs behind my seat, and a 5 gallon emergency container in the trunk).

  3. Gatorade is your friend (diluted fruit juice is about as good). You can become dehydrated quickly drinking nothing but water, and without electrolytes you'll get some nasty headaches, which brings the next two points up...

  4. Caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine is both a stimulant, and a diuretic, and people tend to overdo it when they are driving. Then when their stomach or nerves complain, they cut off entirely, which casues withdrawal. Tired, wired, and dehydrated is BAD, especially at the 5000-8000 feet you'll hit in the high desert. More nasty headaches...

  5. Eat salty and starchy foods. Salt and carbohydrates let you keep and use the water, and keep your energy up. Helping you to avoid those nasty headaches.

    Also, avoid greasy, very fatty, or very spicy foods; or much dairy. Diarrhea is a VERY bad thing, as are the many and varied forms of indigestion. Yes, truckers and professional drivers LOVE their grease, but they are also used to driving those long distances; plus I don't know a single pro driver who doesnt use tons of antacids etc...

  6. Wear a hat. I hate hats, but I wear them anyway. Also sun screen. You may not realize it, but driving all day inside tinted windows can still give you a nasty sun burn (especially on your left arm).

  7. Bring, and keep easily available; changes of shirts and underwear. You soak t-shirts pretty quickly driving in hot weather for a few hours, even with AC. This makes you itchy and crawly, and jsut generally uncomfortable. You wouldn't believe how much more comfortable you will be if you change your T-shirt (and possibly undies) every time you get gas.

  8. Buy sun shades for your car. Put them in place every time you park for more than a few minutes. They aren't a miracle, but they help.

  9. Books on tape/cd are lifesavers, as is satellite radio. Having done the long distance thing with Sirius radio, I can't tell you how much more pleasant it is.

  10. Bring a two way radio; ham if you're licensed (kb1dxj here), and a CB if you're not (and even if you are really). There are LOTS of places where cell phones dont work, and you may be stuck out somewhere for a couple hours if something goes wrong. Oh and speaking of cell phones and radios, make sure you bring chargers for all of them, preferably car chargers.
Mountain driving:

The mountains are gorgeous, but the prettier they are, the more dangerous they are; PAY ATTENTION.

  1. Get your brakes checked before you start out. They are the only thing keeping you alive. This is doubly true if you are heavily loaded, or carryign a trailer. Oh and if you are towing a trailer through the moutnains, you really should have trailer brakes. The electric ones aren't so bad to hook up. If your brakes are marginal, then change them; with somethign better than the factory pads. Factory pads are designed for low noise, and low dust in normal driving conditions, and almsot to a piece they SUCK for high heat, heavy duty applications. Remember, mountain driving feels the same to your car as running a road race.

  2. Going down is a hell of a lot more dangerous than going up. First thing, dont use your brakes unless you absolutely need to. Most cars brakes are only good for a few minutes on serious mountain roads before they are toast. When that happens you need to find a safe place to pull over and stop for at least half an hour. If it's night time you can watch as your brakes cool down from cherry red.

  3. Those speed limit warnings, and grade warnings arent jsut for truckers. Yes those limits are set pretty low, and no a decent car doesnt need to follow them as much as a truck does; but remember your vehcile will handle very different downhill, heavily loaded, than it does in the flat. Give yourself more margin, and keep close to the limits. But wait, I jsut told you not to use your brakes, how do I follow the limits?

  4. USE LOWER GEARS. Unfortunately most of us dont have jake brakes, but thankfully a few hardy souls still have manual transmissions and can get some decent engine braking going. Yeah autos can use engine braking too, but nowhere near as well, or with as many options; in fact some autos will drop the engine out of gear in an engine braking scenario (optimizing for economoy).

    This is equally true going up as going down. When you are using lower gears, not only do you have the engine braking factor, but the lower gear gives you more throttle control. Select a gear that doesnt require lots of shifting as the road changes in grade and your vehicle changes in speed. The frequent shifting is harder on your transmission (and clutch) than the somewhat higher RPMs. That said, remember those high RPMs are hard on the engine and accessories. Watch your temperatures and fluid pressures if you can, and make frequent stops to rest, and let the car cool down.

  5. Watch the weather. Weather in the mountains can change faster than you could believe. Also darkness can come very quickly after an extended twilight.
Some other random things and supplies for general long distance driving...
  1. Keep some extra maintenance items, and spares of everything expendable (fuses etc...). At the minimum take a decent tool kit, and a replacement bottle jack sized to your car.

    Personally I also keep an air compressor, duct tape, electrical tape, patching wire, safety wire, spare nuts bolts and screws, a tire repair kit, tire sealant (slime super duty, or ultra seal), every fluid in the vehicle, paracord, braided multi core heavy line, bungy cords, tie downs, tow straps, and a couple of ponchos.

  2. Have extra oil, coolant, and bug removing windshield washer fluid (trust me on that last one). Also bug wipes and general cleaning wipes are a good thing.

  3. Big, strong cupholders help a hell of a lot. If you don't have good cupholders, see if you can get some aftermarket cupholders.

  4. 12 volt cigarette lighter power splitters are remarkably useful.

  5. Always bring toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels. Also a couple of real towels and babywipes are great. Oh and hand sanitizer is also a good thing.

  6. Have a good first aid kit, and keep it accessible. When I say, good first aid kit, I mean by my or Doc Russias standards. Also keep a small simple one in your glove compartment. You may never need them, but if you do...

  7. Make sure you keep a good medium sized knife (large folder or small sheath knife), a multi tool, a pair of EMT shears, and at least two flash lights handy.

  8. Have immodium AD, antacids, pepcid/tagamet/zantac, ipuprofen (or your other painkiller of choice), eye drops, and allergy/sinus medications handy; as well as refils of any prescription meds you may need.

  9. Keep a spare pair of glasses, contacts etc.. if you have them; and ALWAYS have a decent pair of sunglasses, and a spare.

  10. Keep copies of your prescriptions of any kind (medical, optical etc...).

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dear god that's expensive...

Yeargh....

Two weeks ago I had the AC on my bimmer serviced; doing the R134A conversion, and a charge and fill, which came out to about $170.

Not bad actually, considering it took a 3lb charge, and R134A is significantly non-cheap (about $10 a pound wholesale, plus the environmental fees associated with it and the disposal of the r12, which darn near triple that).

Well, the AC was doing great, and we headed up north to the canyon. The first day up we took the twisties (89a, GOD I LOVE that road), which necessitated a long time at low medium speeds and high revs; pretty much the worst possible conditions for vehicular machinery.

Some time around Sedona I started hearing a metallic rattle, which sounded suspiciously like my AC compressor. I tried turning the AC on and off, and sure enough, it was the compressor clutch. A little spray lube worked out for a few hours, but the rattling returned. I checked out the clutch when we stopped for the night, and it wasnt rattling/loose etc... so I figured it would take a real mechanical inspection.

We finished up our trip the next day, and the AC was working well the entire time. Unfortunately when we went out the next day, there was no AC whatsoever.

I did a little visual inspection, and there was a pool of fluid under the compressor, and the belt was gone.

Oi

So I went back to my AC guy, and the short story is (too late), I need a new AC compressor.

So six WIDELY varying quotes later, it comes down to $900 installed for a rebuilt third party compressor, out to about $1600 installed for a new OEM compressor.

OUCH.....

Of course you cant really get around here without A/C....

Did I mention OUCH!

I'm jsut going to ahve to bite the bullet and take the cheaper option. It's jsut going to take a nice big bite of my reserves.

Oh and of course I need to change the belts now as well, but honestly I've needed to do that for a while.

GAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!

Ok, I feel ... not better, but a little less irritated

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Having a good day

NOTE: Light blogging to continue til tomorrow.. and I guess through the weekend from general habit...

Well, it's official; my best friend is moving down here. He and his girlfriend are out putting a depost down on an apartment about a mile from here right now. Their move in date is the first week in September.

I'll be posting some "Me and Jim" stories soon, but suffice it to say this man is closer to me than my brother. I love him as my family, as do my mother and brother. I want him to be my best man when I marry again (he missed the first one), and he wants the same for me.

There arent many people in your life you can say you would kill or die for, he's one of them.

Not only am I getting my friend in close proximity, but it's getting him the HELL out of New Jersey, which has been not-so-slowly killing him for the last four years. He's miserable as hell up ther (who wouldn't be).

So obviously this makes me VERY HAPPY.

We played in a three seating poker tournament last night, where I came in 26th of 62 (Jim was 25th), 2nd of 16 (Jim was 6th), and 22nd of 56...

In the first seating I was about to take down a 15k pot, which would have put me in comfortably in the chip lead...

Before I turned my cards over, I said "I've got the straight"; and she only had ace high, and tossed them in.

Only the entire table had mis-read the hand, including me...

See we all thought I had the high straight, and the last caller tossed her hand in face up... Only I DIDN'T have the straight. Yup, we'd all missed that I missed one card.

Now heres where things get tricky...

She had tossed her cards in, but she didnt say fold, they were face up, hadnt touched any other cards, and no-one else had touched them. Technically that's not a fold, but once someone tosses them in it can go either way. In tournament play that would generally have been considered a fold.

One of the other players says "hey, wait a sec... he missed it", and everybody took a double take...

So if I was a bastard, I could have forced the fold and taken down the pot, which would have given me something like 3/4 of the chips on the table; but it was a free game (prize was a poker tabletop) so I just let it go.

I mean, if you cant be a good sport in a free game; what the hell are you?

Anyway we're heading up to one of the local lakes and were' hittin a pontoon boat for the afternoon. Beer, and floating around, playing poker, eatin a picnic...

Good times.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

An interesting coincidence...

Eric Cowperthwaite and I are directly next to each other on N.Z. Bears rankings; both large mammals, he's #282, I'm #281...

Considering hes the founder of the LLP community, and I'm one of the first members; he and I are both classical liberals/muscular minarchists; we often comment on each others blogs etc...

Anyway for months we've been joking that we are doppelganger, or perhaps twins separated by 10 years... the evidence continues to mount.

Literalism and inaction

Theres an interesting discussion going on in some of my comment threads about how Mohammad, and the Koran say things that are innaccurate, untrue, unjust, or insane...

Honestly, and I know this is going to piss off some of my readers (because they are among those of whom I am about to speak), I think koranic, AND biblical (and torah and talmudic) literalists are all completely shithouse nuts.

Nahhh, thats not exactly true. The definition of faith is a belief in that which has no provable or rational basis; and I have faith in some things; but not in a translation of a translation of a translation, of something that somebody wrote down about what some guys said about some other guy 80-300 years after he died, about 2000 years ago...

But hey, if it works for you fine; so long as you dont knock on my door at 6am on a weekend (I WILL come to the door with a shotgun); or try and kill, maim, or otherwise harm those who don't believe as you do.

A significant, vocal, and active minority of muslims fall into that last category; and a significant, silent, and inactive majority are doing nothing about it.

That kind of pisses me off...

UPDATE: Maybe y'all should know a bit mroe about my religious thoughts and affiliations. It's all in my essay "Faith, Belief, and Ideas"

Recovering

Just got back from 560 miles of twisty mountain roads at high speed, breathtaking views, mountain thunderstorms, overpriced meals, and generally a damn good time.

I took Jim and his GF on their first visit to the canyon...

I'll tell you, you never get tired of the views, but after a dozen times, the little incidentals start to bug you. Like the japanese tourist drivers, with a rental down from vegas, doing 5mph below the speed limit and never letting anyone pass them for example.

Oh and one constant, rain or shine, no matter the time of year; Japanese and German tourists. Seriously, it could be 80 below and zero-zero; and theyd still be out there snapping away (japanese), or hiking away (germans).

Anyway, 6 hours of hiking, plus 14 hours (3 hours driving, plus 5 hours as a passenger today; and 6 hours driving yesterday) in the car on aforementioned mountain roads is tiring (but fun and well worth it). Pictures to follow, but sleep for now.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Having a great time

Well I've had a great weekend with Jim and his girlfriend. I've just about convinced them to move down here...

Or rather I HAVE convinced them to move down here, but I've jsut about convinced them to do it now, instead of a year from now.

They'll be here the rest of the week, and posting will continue to be light to non-existent.

Oh and for those of you not paying attention, they are dropping like flies from the heat out here. Sure, it's only 115; but combine that with 60-80% relative humidity (we're hitting our monsoon) and thats just not fun.

JohnOC and I took Jim out shooting yesterday, and we kept telling him "drink more water, if you dont gotta piss, you gotta drink", especially since he had ... overindulged shall we say... on red bull and vodka the night before. Genius ended up puking most of the day yesterday which of course means YOU NEED EVEN MORE WATER.

For all that, he didnt do too badly for someone who hasn't shot since he got out of the army almost 8 years ago; specially since he has a cross eye dominance problem (left hand, right eye).

Anyway, as the day goes on, Jims still not drinking enough water, because he says "but I jsutn puke it up again"... again not understanding that means he needs to jsut FLOOD his system with water (or preferably gatorade, or at least eat salty food), and he's getting more and more miserable. Oh and of course he hasnt kept any food down either.

Of course Jimmy being Jimmy, he insists that he can hang with it...

So we go pick up my brother, who is also Jims friend; and we head out to dinner, and the dollar chip poker tables... well after a couple hours, my brother and Jims GF are just DYING to go out and bar hop for the night.

The look of pain and nausea on Jims face was priceless.

Here's a tip for you folks, just about the worst you can possibly feel without a major illness or injury will result from combining alcohol poisoning, heat stroke, dehydration, and low blood sugar.

Do you see why I love this man?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Light posting for a while

my best friend is vacationing in AZ for the next week, so posting will be light.

Have fun everybody.

Blog performance issues

Y'all might hav noticed, I've been having some issues with long load times, and very high CPU utilization for the past few days.

On my Athlon XP 3200+ with 2 gigs of ram, on a 10mb net link, the page load was taking over 30 seconds, and CPU utilization was at 100% at least half that time. On my old P3-800 laptop with 256megs of RAM (my default testing platform for the low end. I dont have anything slower running windows at the moment) the page would barely load at all.

The funny thing is, this is only in the last few days, and I havent made any changes, so I figure the problem is coming from one of the external links of Java scripts that I'm loading.

Well, I've been doing some testing; removing various items from the page etc... and the only thing adding any significant lag was the Alliance of Free Blogs Blogroll. Unfortunately removing it only made a small (but significant) improvement.

It seemed like the problem was in the sidebar, because it was taking FOREVER to load, while the main frame was loading immediately. To test this, I took everything out of the sidebar but the basic blogger content; unfortunately load times and CPU utilization only improved slightly.

So what I've done, is I've trimmed everything out of my sidebar that doesn't need to be there.
Then I set the "show posts" setting to 3 days. So if it's older than three days, it will be on the archive page (as well as the posts own permalink page of course).

That helped a lot.

I also set the archive attribute to monthly, so THAT page now takes a while to load, but the weekly archive listing was getting pretty long, and I have permalinks for every post, so I figure its a reasonable tradeoff. The July page takes the longest to load by far, though it has no more content than March or April, so I'm guessing a significant portion of the delay is some of the linked images loading.

Overall I seem to have cut load times by about 2/3, and cpu utilization significantly, but it's still spiking at 100%, and the load time is still fairly high.

The only other thing I can do, is move the site to my own hosted server, and use all local images. That should cut load times significantly, but I dont think I can afford the bandwidth increase, plus I don't want to screw up all the stuff that is already linking here.

Honestly, I should just set up a new blogging engine on my shared hosting service, but again, bandwidth and screwing up existing links and rankings etc... etc...

Basically, if it gets any worse I'll start looking into other options. I've had a couple MuNuvians persuading me to come over there, and that may be the solution as well... but it seems like everybody has a lot of issues with their moves, and they spend the next month fixing things...

Anyway, folks please report any performance problems to me so know where we are at, and I'll keep y'all posted.

IWB

I almost always carry IWB; in front of the point of the hip for compact pistols, behind or SOB for full size; and almost always in kydex, because it holds its shape and doesnt retain moisture.

When I’m not carrying IWB, I have a couple of strong side High-Rides (a Galco Cop, and a Wilson Lo-Profile for my Champion), and a don hume convertible belt slide that can do strong side, SOB, or cross draw; all in leather; but they are all for my 1911's (I DO have a Kydex OWB for my USP compact .45, but that only because it was $10 and I couldnt find a decent OWB that wasn’t $100, except for Fobus. I also have a generic beltslide that will fit any medium to large doublestack, but I still mostly carry it in a Kydex IWB.)

Anyway a few weeks ago, after two years of near daily carry; the belt clip on my Predator Kahr K9 Kydex IWB finally split.



Unfortunately everyone is out of stock for that particular model, so I'm going to have to wait a few weeks to get my replacement (lifetime warranty and all that).

In the mean time, I needed another way to carry the Kahr. Now I've generally stayed away from sheath style IWB holsters; as I said above prefering Kydex because it resists moisture, and doesn't deform, but after trying this out at Sportsmans Warehouse in Mesa, I decided to pick it up

NOTE: there is no model specific to the Kahr, however most soft Colt Officers ACP holsters fit the Kahr K series, and this is no exception.





What is different from most of the sheath style IWBs, is that this is a real holster, not some limp buckskin envelope. It's basically a full wet molded holster, turned inside out. It has a reinforced mouth, sewn in sight rail and every bit of the quality I expect from Galco. Actually I'd say its better made than my Galco Cop series high ride.

But thats' just looks, how does it perform?

Honestly, this is the best IWB I've ever used. It retains the weapon properly, and carries it almost invisibly. Most importantly though, it's the most COMFORTABLE IWB I've ever used as well.

The bigggest problem with kydex is that it is hard, and even when well melted and smoothed, it pokes you (and chews up the finish of your gun too). This is a well molded piece of leather, and it very definitely does not. This is one of the few holsters, and almost the only IWB I've used where I can say, I couldnt even feel that I was wearing a gun. Also Kydex has a tendency to slip forward or back on your belt while you're moving around, even if the clip is very tight. Because of the rough side out, but snag free construction of this holster, it doesnt move unintentionally at all; but it's still pretty easy to move when you want to.

The second msot important thing, is how well does the holster conceal the weapon, and in that regard this holster is EXCELLENT. It's quite thing, but its thick and soft edged enough to prefent outline printing; and it carries the weapon low and at a good angle for concealment. Even with a tucked in shirt, you can barely see that I'm carrying the weapon if I blouse the shirt out loosely.

Actually, about the only thing I would change, is to make it in black, so that it would be even less noticible on my waist (black pants, black shirt, black belt, black guns... brown holster)...

Actually, one more thing: although it holds its shape well, I'd put a spring band inside the reinforcing leather band at the holster mouth just to make sure it wont close after years of use and softening against the body.

The price was pretty good for a qualitypiece of leather, at $55, though more expensive than the kydex eqivalent (I think I paid $45 for the predator). Given the quality, and utility of the piece though, I'll call that a bargain.

UPDATE: Prompted by a comment from reader Quasi, I'm looking for good HK USP Compact .45 holster options.

As I said, I cant find any decent non-kydex options except for getting a custom holster. If there are any that people want to share, please let me know.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Network effects...

Windows is the best operating system in the world.
Windows is the most useful operating system in the world.

Now the geeks among you are saying WTF!!!

I HATE windows, it's a piece of junk.

Guess what, so is Linux.

So is OS X.

They ALL SUCK!

But Windows sucks the least for the most amount of people.

The issue at hand here is network effects.

In a market like computing, unless all vendors implement standards interchangeably (which will allow forcommoditization), then a single vendor will always develop an advantage. Because a vendor does not wish to be commoditized, unless they are competing on price alone, they will NOT willingly implement full standards; thus preserving their advantages. These advantage will result in further adoption of their product over other products, which increases their advantage, because no more people have access to identical experience/advantages. This will generally happen with the product that has the most advantages, for the most amount of people (more on this later)

At this point a network effect kicks in. The more individual users using a product, the more value that product has to the individual user. This gives individual users the incentive to switch to that dominant product.

Generally speaking, a viable, but not dominant minority product will rise in popularity, in direct opposition to the dominant product, with niche products developed to meet special needs.

This happens because of that “most advantages for the most people” issue. Yes, one dominant product can server MOST people needs, but the ones who were left out want OTHER advantages. This results in a strong minority product, and multiple niche products, but combined they will almost never achieve more than 25% or so market share (except in certain special circumstances or markets), because of the large network effect of the existing dominant product, which in and of itself has become the biggest advantage for the most people.

Markets without a dominant product tend to stagnate, or fluctuate wildly, unless all products submit to commoditization. This is due to consumer uncertainty, and competing standards. It is only once a defacto standard is estabished that markets tend to exhibit consistent growth, or measurable market patterns.

The "problem" in the OS market, is that this strong minority competitor has not happened with Windows, because the alternatives have been fragmentary and unfocused, or simply not viable. Now, the network effect for Windows is so large at this point, that only a needs based solution will use anything different.

Of course this excludes minority user populations like geeks and hackers (the good kind), who will use a technology for it’s technical superiority. They are by definition a niche market.

The only way this will change, is if Microsoft is unable to satisfy their large user bases needs to a sufficient degree. It doesn't depend on technical superiority, because the network effect is its own inbuilt technical advantage. The degree of technical inferiority required for a network effect to be negated is VERY significant.

This for example is why until recently Macs were still dominant in the graphics design world, and why they have lost that dominance.

For a long time Microsoft was not able to provide a viable solution to designers, who built a strong network with their Macs. This network effect grew stronger as more designers switched to the Mac platform, or made further investments in their already established Macs.

The problem is, as the MS solution got better and better, Apples solution did not improve at all. In fact relative to PCs (which wer eadvancing rapidly), apples solution worsened significantly.

Eventually, rapidly improving PC hardware, combined with a 3 year stagnation in Apples hardware capabilities, the near parity of software with Apple, and the compliance to standards of both major platforms; overcame this strong network effect, and now Macs are being replaced more and more by PCs; some of which run windows, and some runninglinux (for rendering and image processing).

This could easily happen with Windows (and even easier with Internet Explorere for example. Non I.E. browsers already have between 10 and 20% of the market, and there share is growing rapidly).

As more and more services and systems become networked, embedded, and appliance-ized (ugly pseudo-word that), the desktop operating system becomes less an independent operating environment, and more a network hub for managing the input and output of these various devices and services.

This has MS scared stupid, because the network effect works both ways, and is NOT transitive across needs.

These systems and services are standardizing on non-proprietary formats, or on proprietary formats which MS does not control; which means to enter these markets MS has to implement these standards, or to attemtp to establish a network effect with a competing standard, and other competitors have already established strong network effects and standards control in these markets.

MS is trying as hard as possible, as fast as possible, to build strong positions in all these secondary markets, to allow network effects to build. For the most part they are failing. Yes they make huge announcements and push big programs, but basically they are going nowhere. The ones that ARE viable, are moving to more standards compliance with the rest of the market so they can increase their market share.

This has Bill Gates personally frightened. No, I’m serious. Bill is PARANOID about competition and failure.

The next few years should be interesting

Oh and in case anyone missed it, we just had a discussion about market capitalism and microeconomics; not technology.

Now heres a fun thought experiment for you, especially to libertarians out there. Replace "linux" with "libertarian"... e.g. Apply network effect economics as I described above to a multiparty political market with a "first past the post" electoral system.

Yup, I'm an evil bastard.

Well, its a start...

Lovin it



It's only MOSTLY dead...

But not ALL dead, theres a VEEEEEERY big difference....



U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
No. 733-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 19, 2005
Small Arms Weapons Program Reviewed for Joint Service Potential

The Army announced today it temporarily suspended the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of a new family of small weapons - Objective Individual Combat Weapon Increment 1 (OICW-1) - in order to incorporate joint requirements. The Army’s proposal has received interest from the other military services, and is further supported by several internal reviews reinforcing the increase in the potential for joint use.

Congressional notification has been made and today’s suspension of the program allows joint requirements to be viewed and incorporated through the Joint Capability and Integration and Development System process, which will occur immediately. Original solicitation started May 11, 2005, and is temporarily suspended effective July 19, 2005, until the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) convenes, which is currently scheduled for early September.

Upon the JROC’s completion, the committee will issue a memorandum, which incorporates any new joint OICW-1 requirements. The RFP will be amended accordingly, and issued with a revised effective date for receipt of proposals.

OICW-1 is comprised of a family of small arms weapons that consists of a carbine, special compact, designated marksman, and light machine gun weapon systems. These weapons are intended to replace the M4 carbine, the M16 rifle, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and selected M9 pistols. The capabilities development document calls for a family of weapons that possess a high degree of commonality, enhanced capabilities, and much higher reliability than our current weapons.

It’s been going around the defense contractor and parts supplier world for the past couple months that this was the way they were going to unofficially kill the thing, and resurrect it as a MUCH simpler program.

Basically someone realized that:

a. The requirements were fundamentally impossible to combine into a single weapon

b. and that even if it WERE possible, that weapon would not be usable

c. and even if it WERE usable, that weapon would be too expensive

d. and even if it WERE affordable, the requirements were wrong in the first place.

The current word from the suppliers is that they are looking for an AR lower based system, with a modified upper. Theres a lot of stories as to what the mods may be, but most agree on the AR lower.

Also the FN scar is semi-officially dead as well. FN made not nice during the selection process and pissed some folks off, so they decided the program should go bye-bye; which is what everyone really wanted at this point anyway (except for FN of course).

Next up, replacing the M9 with a cheaper version of the USP; that isnt the P2000, and is in either .40 or .45 depending on who you believe.

These are all semi-inside sources that I’m getting it from (I know a couple of subcontractors), and THEY aren't sure how accurate THEIR info is, but it seems that a few weeks after I hear from one of those guys, I see something similar in DR or AFJ etc…

Specifically, about a month ago one of my guys told me that there was going to be an official announcment in a few weeks, and that immediately after a couple of the specialty AR houses would have major announcements as well. So look for a big announcement from DPMS, Bushmaster, Rock River etc... in the next week or two.

Or not... this dance has been going on since 1990.

HT: Kim DuToit

UPDATE: A bunch of folks have been commenting "yeah we knew that two years ago, thats why they brought out the XM-8"

Well, yes and no.

Yes, the XM-8 was continued, as the kinetic portion of the OICW, and using some of the budget, but also as a separate program called the XM program.

But no. the XM-8 has been shelved as well. Last year they insititued a 50% parts commonality requirement on the LMG portion (actually it was always there, but they werent enforcing it before), and the XM8 when in the LMG configuration and 50% compliant would MELT.

No joke, the handguards were actually melting and parts were sometimes catching on fire.

So no M-8 for now; which is funny because HK jsut printed up a whole bunch of armorers manuals, training manuals, and posters with the M8 designation on them.

Obviously HK isnt thrilled with this... Of course HK just got to develop their newest toy using Uncle Sams dime, and Uncle Sams time; something they are quite happy about.

Also, they are contiuing to develop the new grenade launcher component, both as a basic semi-auto grenade loauncer, AND as a smart projectile firing launcher. This is something I can see a use fur actually, I jsut wouldnt issue it to every infantryman (as the OICW was intended for).

It is VERY likely that the new solution will be an HK one, far more so than anyone else; for political anf financial considerations never mind the actual value of the weapon.

I have unnofficial word that the next major announcement for testing is going to be a convertible belt/mag fed heavy QC barrelled upper for the AR platform. What I’ve been told is that it will fire belt fed FA from open bolt, and all other modes of fire will be mag fed and closed bolt.

Take that with as large a grain of salt as you like, because the contractor rumor mill can be impressive.

Bowdlerization and Newspeak

Bowdlerization: tr.v. bowd·ler·ized, bowd·ler·iz·ing, bowd·ler·iz·es
1. To expurgate (a book, for example) prudishly.
2. To modify, as by shortening or simplifying or by skewing the content in a certain manner.

[After Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare in 1818.]

LONDON (Reuters) - The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labeling children. "We recognize that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said.

"But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.

The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.


Well it seems that common sense is in retreat... oh excuse me, I mean it is "Advancing to the rear"... in all our schools, but in Britain it's running just a little bit faster.

Honestly, I could start ranting on this topic right now, and i'd be done... oh some time next week or so I'd guesss...

I mean: "But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary,"

Excuse me for the hackneyd Orwell reference if I say it reminds me of this:
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak," he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. "Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?" [from 1984]
The scary part is though, there are already many schools here in America that do not "fail" students. They give grades marked as "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" rather than F and D.

Grade inflation is a problem at all levels of education, which teachers say is for the beneift of the children, "Because they FEEL that they are doing better"

But they are not, that's the problem.

Of course to these people feelings are as imporant as results. Symbols are as (or more) important than reality. Self-esteem is the right of all etc...

Let me tell you something, self esteem isn't something that you can give out with hugs and smiles, and letting people fail by couching it in kind words. Self esteem is EARNED through COMPETITION, ACHIEVMENT, and SUCCESS. Oh and why is it that there is always talk about self esteem, but you never hear about SELF RESPECT ?

Oh my, those are dirty words arent they.

Could someone please tell me how this is somehow NOT a deliberate effort to institute an ideology of weakness, dependency, and failure?

H/T:
Francis Poretto (for the Orwell quote)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Such wit, Such style, Such Erudition !

From: iyad toom [vze4pdfy@verizon.net]
Subject: an animal like you go have sex with your mom sisters and friends coward
a pig like you with all this bravery to hate others why dont you chicken
fuck go to iraq instead of this false bravery a heck like you who only
knows how to eat shit and horny psycho ugly freak like you and your
loser friends do anyway what can a fuck like you living in shithole
desert like yours do other than fucking his mom and sisters along with
his fucked up cronies he is hanging out with so go fuck yourself burn
yourself and if you brave go to army you chicken shit fuck you loser redneck

If you knew what you were doing you wouldn't be making stupid comments about pigfat sending muslims to hell, retard-face.



Oh god this shit is funny

"The Eagle Has Landed"



36 years ago, July 20th, 1969, 4:17pm Eastern Daylight time, human kind first touched down on another planetary surface with those words.

Piloting the orbiter was Michael Collins, and on the surface were Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Neil Armstong .

When Armstrong stepped out the hatch and mis-spoke his famous line... It was supposed to be "One Small Step for A Man", and Armstrong swears to this day he said it, but the radio noise drowned it out... and we left our footprints in the sand... there has never been a prouder moment in then history of the human race.

I'm going to repost my essay, "The Outside Looking In" here in honor of this day.

The Outside Looking In

Chris Byrne, Feb 3rd 2003

We have spent the last 30 years collectively contemplating our belly buttons.

Let me explain what I mean by that (this is gonna take a while so get comfortable)

Throughout most of history, humanity as a race has been outward looking. We strode out through the world around us to learn, to achieve, and to conquer.

From the earliest days of humanity we have looked outside ourselves for meaning.

First we had medicine men and shamans who looked to the spirits.

Then we had priests who looked to the gods.

Then we had philosophers who looked to the nature of the universe, and sought to find mans place within it.

Finally there came that extraordinary breed of men to whom Isaac Newton belonged to. They called themselves the natural philosophers, we now call them scientists.



More in the extended entry...

Each of these groups of people sought to divine meaning, reason, purpose, from that which surrounded us.
We were on the inside looking out in wonder, and eventually with some degree of understanding.

This point of view was reflected in our societies as well.

We explored, and built, and grew. We strove for bigger, more, faster.

The expression of this has often been called “pioneer spirit”.
It’s the challenge to go forth and do that which has not been done.
It’s the desire to climb the mountain “because it’s there”.

This spirit quickly had us wee humans spread across this globe, living in almost every corner, no matter how hostile it seems to our rather thin skins.

This is the spirit that Americans inherited from the British, the Spanish, and the Portuguese, who it seems, have managed somehow to lose it over the past two hundred and fifty years.

This is the spirit that pushed us from sea to sea, the spirit that flung us up into the sky, the spirit that exploded us out into space.

This is the spirit best voiced by John F. Kennedy when he said “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.



Over the past 100 or so years this spirit became focused primarily on science and technology.
We stopped exploring not because we ran out of places to explore, but because we did not have the technology to explore them. So we built it, and we built it fast.

It took only us 44 years to make the headlong rush from the Wright brothers, to sustained supersonic flight.
It was another ten years before we managed to stick something far enough up there that it wouldn’t come right back down again.

Three and a half years later we finally opened up the door and left our home when on April 12th 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man to see the earth from the outside looking in.

Gene Roddenberry hadn’t written the line yet, but Yuri truly had boldly gone where no man has gone before. One of us had finally made it off the rock.

Then, at 10:56 pm EDT , July 20, 1969 we managed the short hop to the next rock. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, had made it to the moon.

We only went back five more times over the next three years. 12 men spent a total of 170 hours and left behind, not much really.
A few scientific instruments, a few spacecraft bits and pieces, the worlds most expensive dune buggy, an American flag, and a plaque that reads:

"Here Man completed his first exploration of the Moon, December 1972 A.D. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind."

And with these words, spoken by cmdr. Eugene Cernan on December 11th 1972 "America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow", we turned out the lights and went home.

Unfortunately there has been no tomorrow.

As I was saying, we have spent the last 30 years contemplating our belly buttons.

After World War II most of the world stopped looking forward, and started looking inward.
There were too many social problems. There was too much poverty and hunger and disease.
There was far too much pain screaming out at us from the horrors of the preceding 10 years.

The spirit of exploration that had pervaded humanity since it’s earliest days was completely gone from Europe by the 1960’s.
It had never really existed in east Asia, where culture and philosophy had been directed inward for thousands of years.
It had not existed in the middle east since the days before the ottoman empire.

The only explorers left by the 60’s were America, and Russia, and Russia was only really doing it to compete with America.

People all over the world started questioning the values that had formed previous generations’ assumptions.

The generation born between the end of the depression, and just after the war, KNEW that there were more important things than exploration.
They KNEW that this desire for exploration was just another form of conquest and exploitation and imperialism just like the ones that had brought about the worst conflict in human history.
They KNEW that exploring space was waste of time and money that could be better spent on ending hunger, or disease, or racism.

And so we began to turn inward.

With books like “the catcher in the rye”, “On the Road”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest” we started looking more at ourselves, and our neighbors, and less at the outside world, and the outside universe.

It took until 1972, but with the war in Vietnam, Richard Nixon and Watergate, price controls, inflation, the CIA and FBI, the Israeli situation,

the Irish situation, and every other god damned miserable thing going on in this god damned miserable world ,

they KNEW that they weren’t going to spend another dime going to the moon ‘til we had fixed things down here on earth.

In the broader culture things started changing even more.

We encouraged people to take a good long look at themselves.

To find themselves.

To say I’m Ok You’re Ok.

A hell of a lot of good came out of this.


For the first time we started exploring the WHY behind a lot of mental and emotional problems.
We started leaving bad marriages behind, and we started trying to be happier.
We started doing something about racism, sexism and pollution.

But as usual, we went too far.

We started confusing confidence with arrogance.
We decided that power was bad.
We made aggression and competition synonymous with evil.

We started subverting science to ideology, and we decided that ideology was after all, a science.

In our most extreme moments, we decided that boys were bad and girls were good.

That white was bad and black was good.

That both old and new were bad, and only NOW, ME, and US, was good.

We stopped moving forward

We stopped looking outward.

Instead, we are spending all of our time looking sideways, up, down, in, and increasingly backward.

This wouldn’t be too bad if we weren’t so bad at it.

It would be a good thing, if we were able to do so without damaging ourselves, and without halting progress. But so far, we aren’t.

We haven’t been out of high orbit since 1972.

It only took us 66 years to go from being earthbound, to setting foot on another planet.

In the past 30 years we have have gone no farther, no faster, no higher.

We have stopped going where no man has gone before.

Charles Krauthammer wrote in the weekly standard that “we have put ourselves into a low earth orbit holding pattern”.

Putting it a little more directly, we're circling the parking lot looking for a space, instead of getting the fuck out of the mall.

The most significant technologies of the last thirty years have been global telecommunications; exemplified in the internet, and biotechnology.

Both of these are essentially focused inward.

The internet has the potential to be the single greatest advance in mass communication since the printing press.

It allows for true interactive communication on a global scale, but it is essentially inward facing.

Why?

Because it exists to exchange information we already have.

The internet spreads knowledge around better than anything we’ve ever come up with and that’s great.

It’s the greatest enabler of science history has ever known because it allows the freer and easier exchange of ideas, but the net in and of itself does little to advance the state of human knowledge.

The internet is not like the microscope or the telescope or the space craft. Completely new things are not discovered or created by the internet, though they have without doubt been enabled by it.

BioTechnology is by very definition focused inward.

At it’s deepest level BioTech is the study of what makes us what we are. It promises to unlock near limitless potential for our biological beings.

It opens the door to the possibility of ending old age, disease, hunger, even death itself. It offers potential dangers equal to it’s potential wonders.

BioTech is probably the second most important field of technology ever devised, but exploration is still by far the most important.

As no nation can be great without looking beyond its borders, no race can be great without looking beyond its planet.

Whether there are other races out there, or we are alone, if as a race we are ever to progress beyond our current state of semi civilized savagery,
to progress beyond a planet full of petty squabbles between nations, that just might incidentally kill us all, we need to venture off this planet in the largest scale possible.

We need to live on, not just visit other planets.

This is a concrete lesson of history.

We started out as individuals.

We fought and died as individuals until we formed villages, clans, and tribes

With villages we had a larger purpose and organization, and the fighting between individuals lessened.

For thousands of years villages, clans, and tribes killed each other until we formed city-states. Then the fighting between tribes lessened.

We began to form principalities and petty kingdoms, and they repeated the pattern, lessening the conflicts between cities.

Finally we formed nations, and eventually ended most organized conflict between smaller groups.

But we created the nation about 10,000 years ago, and we haven’t really come very far since. Half of Europe was STILL in the city state or principality phase 250 years ago.

Germany is now by far the largest and most important nation in Europe (no matter what France and England may say), but it only became a true nation in 1872.

The United Nations is, at best, an ineffective organization with more politics than solutions.

At worst, it is an organization used to spread the ugliest prejudices of humans, while decrying the actions needed to stop them, and masking it all under cynical self righteousness.

It is clear that until we become an extraplanetary race, we will never achieve anything resembling a global society.

It is similarly clear that once we do become extraplanetary, global society is, if not inevitable, at least likely.

Many would say that we need to solve our problems here on earth first.

They believe that we can’t afford space exploration while people starve, and die of disease, and are denied basic human rights.

They say that it costs too much, that it’s dangerous, that it has little benefit to the vast majority of humanity that has barely enough to eat.

They are right in many ways, but if as a people we don’t get the hell off this rock, what will it matter.

It will be a case of belly button contemplating on a racial scale.

© Chris Byrne 2003

Jimmy Doohan...




James Doohan died today

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor James Doohan, best known as the feisty, Scottish-accented chief engineer on television's original "Star Trek" series -- a role immortalized by the catch phrase "Beam me up, Scotty" -- died on Wednesday at age 85, his manager said.

Doohan died at his home in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, of complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, about a year after he was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological illness, manager Steve Stevens said in an interview.

You know, I could say something silly like "Scotty was beamed up one last time" or some such bullshit, but this really is sad to me.

Yeah yeah I never knew the man, how can he have any impact on my life etc...

Well first, I did meet him at a few events, and he was a very fine gentleman in my own limited experience, and in all reports i have ever heard. He appreciated the fans who loved him.

But more importantly, Scotty was the first "hero engineer" most of us were exposed to. The miracle wworker... A characterization that I can't imagine anyone else delivering, scotty was both an element of humor, and of reassurance in the star trek universe.

I think my absolute favorite scotty moments came in Star Trek IV. I mean he had just about the best line of the movie with "Keyboard... How quaint"

It's funny, but its the anniversary of Apollo 11 today. I think that Jimmy would have liked that.

Masada



WHEN Bassus was dead in Judea, Flavius Silva succeeded him as procurator there; who, when he saw that all the rest of the country was subdued in this war, and that there was but one only strong hold that was still in rebellion, he got all his army together that lay in different places, and made an expedition against it.

This fortress was called Masada. It was one Eleazar, a potent man, and the commander of these Sicarii, that had seized upon it. He was a descendant from that Judas who had persuaded abundance of the Jews, as we have formerly related, not to submit to the taxation when Cyrenius was sent into Judea to make one; for then it was that the Sicarii got together against those that were willing to submit to the Romans, and treated them in all respects as if they had been their enemies, both by plundering them of what they had, by driving away their cattle, and by setting fire to their houses; for they said that they differed not at all from foreigners, by betraying, in so cowardly a manner, that freedom which Jews thought worthy to be contended for to the utmost, and by owning that they preferred slavery under the Romans before such a contention.

--Josephus
I mentioned Masada in my previous post about Israel, "Israelis have guts", and I realized, theres probably a hell of a lot of folks who don't know what I'm talking about.
“Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”

-- Elazar ben Yair, Patriarch of Masada

Here is an excerpt from israel.org about Masada:

By the middle of the first century CE, Masada was held by a small group of Jewish fighting men and their families. When, in 70 CE, after four years of full-scale Jewish revolt against Rome, the Roman General Titus conquered and sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, a number of warriors evaded capture and joined the group at Masada. Together they numbered less than 1000 souls.

For two years their control of Masada remained unchallenged. Then, in 72 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva moved up the 15,000-man Tenth Legion, which camped at the foot of the mountain stronghold and besieged the defending force entrenched on its summit. The Romans built a wall around Masada, as well as a massive ramp of boulders and earth. We are told by the historian Josephus Flavius - who based his story on the testimony of two survivors - how the defenders watched these preparations for the onslaught.

When the defenders' leader, Eleazar ben Ya'ir, realized that the end was near, he bade his followers to remain true to the cause for which they had fought so long and so valiantly. "Let us rather die", he cried, "than be enslaved by our enemy. Let us leave this world in freedom". Nine hundred and sixty men, women and children died by their own hands. The men embraced their wives and children and put them to the sword. Next, lots were cast, and ten men were chosen to take the lives of their comrades. Finally, the last surviving warrior set fire to the palace and fell upon his own blade. The defenders had left untouched abundant supplies of food and water, so that the Romans might know that they had preferred death to enslavement.

Let us rather die than be enslaved by our enemy. This is the spirit that motivates the israelies today, to resist islamist terror.

This was the spirit that inspired the warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943:

Support from outside the Ghetto was limited, but Polish units from Armia Krajowa (AK) and Gwardia Ludowa sporadically attacked German sentry units near the ghetto walls and attempted to smuggle weapons and ammunition inside. One Polish unit from AK, namely KB under the command of Henryk Iwański, even fought inside the Ghetto together with ŻZW. The AK tried twice to blow up the Ghetto Wall, but without much success.

The final battle started on the eve of Passover, April 19, 1943. Jewish partisans shot and threw grenades at German and allied patrols from alleyways, sewers, house windows, and even burning buildings. The Nazis responded by shelling the houses block by block and rounding up or killing any Jew they could capture. Significant resistance ended on April 23, and the uprising ended on May 16. Nevertheless, sporadic shooting could be heard in the area of the Ghetto throughout the summer of 1943.

So tell me, why are American jews so different? Why are they not defiant? Why are they not denouncing terror? Why are they not arming themselves? Why are they against the war...?

Or at least, most politically active or vocal American jewish groups are very much against the war. In fact most jewish groups in America are flamingly lefty, and organized Jewish politics were once very strongly associated with communism in America.

Near and dear to my own heart, most organized Jewish groups (except JPFO who I support wholeheartedely, and have donated to) are explicitly anti gun; yet there is little support for this theologically.

Beresheis 4:23, Ramban: “The sword is not the cause of murder, and there is no sin upon him who made it.”
A weapon, is neutral; It can be used for good or for evil. Calling guns evil or bad is non-sensical, fbecause gun can be used in self-defense. The Torah makes very clear that self defense is a fundamental right.
The Torah (Exodus 22.2) says that a householder may kill a burglar to save his own life.

Gemara Sanhedrin (72A) says: “He who rises to kill you, you must kill first.”
Actually, most of the orthodox and/or conservative jews I know outside of New York strongly support private gun ownership, generally because they remember, every day, what happens to an unarmed populace. That said however, there arent a heck of a lot of jews outside New York, the Northeast, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, and California.

So how did Judaism go from Masada and Warsaw, to "Jewish Students for Palestinian freedom"?

This is a topic that has been debated among Jews of various political persuasions for a loooong time (at least a few hundred years at this point).

The modern American Jewish tendency towards irrational liberalism has far too many causes to talk about in less than a thick book, but let’s start with the history of jews since the second temple, the politics of Europe from the middle ages to today, and a good solid dose of self hatred in the grandest tradition of minority groups everywhere.

A good friend of mine is a Rabbi, a former gun owner and hunter, and a libertarian. He’s originally from Pennsylvania but is now living in London, married to a nice jewish girl from a good family.

He’s also one of the smartest, and most decent people I’ve ever met, but the only evil he is able to percieve is that of anti-semitism, which he seems to see in… well almost everything that isn’t 100% supportive of israel.

This atitude seems to be almost unique to American Judaism, London jews being the major exception (they tend to be even more liberal than American Jews).

This is most probably because America is just about the only place where Jews don’t have the fact that most of the world hates them graphically demonstrated on a daily basis... Unless you live in berkley that is.

Another of my good friends is a VERY conservative taditionalist jew from Switzerland. Her considered experience is that Switzerland is a very polite, very orderly country where Jews, who are a small but significant percentage of the population, are very politely and quietly detested.

And France? The best demonstration of the state of affairs in France has to be this: Hoax or not, the reports last year of a woman being assaulted on the Paris metro for being Jewish, while 20 people watched and did nothing, didn’t particularly shock anyone who’s been paying attention.

So we know why Jews AREN’T so liberal in other places, why ARE they so solidly liberal here?

Well how about the fact that perhaps 1/2 of all Jews in America live and/or grew up in the northeast (as did I, as a catholic) which is about as solidly liberal as is possible in a country divided so evenly down the left/right line.

Then there’s the fact that Jews in America tend to be better educated (yes it’s a sterotype, but demographic statistics say it’s also true), and the “good” colleges and universities in America have been institutions of liberal indoctrination since the ‘60’s

The folks that have dominated significant jewish thinking both religiously and politically in America since the ‘60’s have either been ultra liberal, or ultra conservative, and those on the ultraconservative side have only had one issue, Israel.

Oh and and coincidentally they’ve been, quite frankly, such total whackjobs that they made the ultraliberals look good in comparison.

Take all of these things together, and they have some pretty wide reaching implications.

It’s only been very recently that what people now call “neo-cons” (who have been writing the same stuff in policy journals since the late 60’s) have gotten any attention, or presented any real alternative to the lunatics on both sides. Here’s hoping we get a heck of a lot more of that.

But really lets go into it a little deeper here.

Above I said that Jews as a demographic are better educated. According to intelligence researchers, when looking at certain subgroups of Jews, they are also as a demographic slightly more intelligent

From the results of IQ tests (The Bell Curve - Liberals hate it), Ashkenazi Jews are about 15 IQ points ahead of the standard White Anglo Saxon types (about 1 Standard Deviation). The Sephardic Jews, on the other hand show no real difference from the average.

The best theory I’ve ever seen to explain this is the one was that it was self selection, or rather natural selection in visible action.

For thousands of years the Ashkenazim were in a cultural mode where intellectual performance was by far the most important indicator of success (some might say they still are, and the rest of us are getting there). Quite simply, smart and creative people got married and had kids far more than those of “average” (or below) intellect.

The Ashkenazi were also among the more restrictive in their relationships, not only marrying other jews, but generally only marrying other Ashkenazim, which re-inforced this trend (this is even more strongly evidenced in Hassidim).

But this introduced an isolating element. We forget, but in many places the Jews created their OWN ghettoes, to keep others out (okay it's more complicated than that)...

The Ashkenazi wrapped their culture and intellectual achievment around them like a cloak to keep out the hate of the world. They tried to pretend that they were anything more than loathed and barely tolerated anywhere they werent killed outright, as did most jews in western europe.

The Sephardim were even more self isolating, but they achieved a certain level of prominence in middle ages europe. It was this prominence that caused them to be cast out, and persecuted as the first victims of the spanish inquisiton; and they have never recovered.

The Jews been doing this at least since the 5th century with the adoption of christianity as the official state religion of Rome (and on a more limited scale as far back as 400-600 bc). It’s never worked for them for very long.

Funny, this is the same behavior that certain unpopular kids in high school exhibit. It doesn't work for them either.

Oh and It’s also the same basic philosophy that pacifists have been spouting for a few hundred years. Nope, doesnt work for them either.

It seems to be a basic psychological impluse in those that have a high level of threat against them, and little power to respond to it, “maybe if I act enough like them, or if they don’t notice me, they won’t hurt me” .

Okay back onto the "why Jews are liberal in America" a litt more specificially, we need to take a look at the political and social history of political parties in America.

It’s way too long a discussion (and I’ve done too much typing already), but the reason the Jews first came into the democratic party, is the same reason that the Irish (who were and are generally socially incompatible with the core party values); the democratic machine.

Machine politics absolutely dominated the Democratic party from the 1840’s until at least the 1960’s. During this period, unpopular ethnic groups (other than blacks in the south) were actively recruited by gross pandering, patronage, and lots of promises.

They were then encouraged to pit their interests against those of other groups in the party, and of course the other parties, competing for resources in what was presumed to be a zero sum political game.

All of this this reinforced the machine mentality, and the small group factionalization that prevails in the democratic party even today.

Now, lets add into the mix the fact that the largest single religious demographic in the socialist and communist parties in America were Jews... something I will NEVER understand. Remember, there used to be a lot of socialist Jews in eastern europe, but over the past 120 years most of them were killed, imprisoned, or went to Israel (or America)... to my mind a very graphic illustration of why you shouldnt trust the government to keep you safe.

Starting in the 1930’s and then accelerating greatly in the ‘50s-’60s (after HUAC), the democratic party absorbed most of the socialists and communists left in America. This influence is definitely still a major force in the party today.

So now we have a lot of jews here in America who advocate compelete disarmament. They advocate giving in to the culture of victimhood, or in allowing the state to protect them

A comment on Kim Du Toits site from about a year ago had this quote “They say, ‘Never forget!’ but they’ve forgotten what they were supposed to remember.”

For me.. well I wonder how one says "Molon Labe BITCH!" in hebrew...

But to be serious, if I had to chose between Masada and Majanek, I can only hope I would have the courage of Elazar ben Yair:

“We have preferred death before slavery”