Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And the winner is!

What should we call him?  The Nigerian terrorist?  The Christmas Day terrorist?

Mark Steyn found the perfect name for him.

The Panty Bomber!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Barn Door

I have published a bit of research on terrorism, beginning over twenty years ago.  So I think a lot about the subject.  The attempt by a Nigerian to blow up a plane enroute to Detroit has me musing again.

Enhanced security measures adopted after 9-11 exasperated me.  Rude, low intelligence, bureaucratic TSA screeners at airports were doggedly searching for men's razors and throwing them in the trash (no, that never happened to me--I did lose a few bucks worth of bottled water once).  I yelled at the television more than once, "Nobody will ever hijack a plane using box cutters again!  Stop it!"

I did not hear anyone agree with me until I saw a CSPAN Booknotes interview with Tom Clancy.  Clancy said exactly what I had been thinking.  The reason that box cutter hijackings worked on 9-11 was that the passengers had no idea that their plane was being hijacked as a projectile.  They thought that they would be taken to a remote location and held for ransom.

Even on 9-11, the passengers of United-93, once they had used their cell phones to find out that they would likely be flown directly into a large building, attacked the hijackers.  If the United-93 passengers had known the truth an hour or so earlier, the hijackers would have never entered the cockpit.

After 9-11, any hijacker without an AK-47 would be subdued or killed by the passengers.  Clancy's analysis was perfect.

We are always closing the barn door after the horse has escaped--searching for useless box cutters and razors.  Now, after a Nigerian attempt to blow up a plan, we are going to require that passengers keep their seats for the last hour of flight.  Uh . . . because the Nigerian chose this time . . . to prepare . . . uh . . .

If we had this rule in effect before the Nigerian attempt, he would have triggered the explosive earlier in the flight.  The new policy is regulatory lunacy.

If we had taken the box cutters from the hijackers on 9-11 the incidents would not have happened.  But afterward we closed the barn door, by preventing incidents that would never again be successfully launched.

But with the Nigerian, we are not even closing the barn door.  If we had put a new policy in place on the morning of his attempt, he would have had the same measure of success (pants flambe).  This time the horse has escaped and we are painting the barn door.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


1.  So if you are too moral to take bad gamblers' money

2.  Shouldn't you be opposed to government programs that forcibly take your money and use it to take bad gamblers' money?

3.  And shouldn't you be opposed to government programs that forcibly take your money and use it to give incentives to people to eschew productivity, the acquisition of human capital, and to create disfunctional family structures?

Cryptically yours,


Sunday, December 20, 2009


We had to debate in my high school speech class.  Tommy and I were assigned "Pro: Immigration should be limited."  Two young ladies were assigned the "con."

Everyone did a week of research and got their arguments and notes together.  My side went first with an opening statement.

Then a member of the other side said to the teacher.  "That was our argument.  We were supposed to have that side." 

Ms. McCartney looked at her assignment book and said, "No.  You had 'Con: Immigration should be limited.'  That means you should argue that immigration should not be limited."

The student said, "But we prepared to show that immigration should be limited."

Tommy and I made an easy A.  I think the teacher was so disgusted by the ladies that we looked good by contrast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

High School Speech

Two of my best friends in high school were in my speech class.  We had lots of fun.  The funniest thing have happened in class was at the start of a speech by a guy I knew.

Joe C. stood up at the podium and said, "My speech is on Tenne."  Then he looked down at his notes and looked back up at the class and said, "Tennessee."

We laughed until we cried.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stunning Example of Government Failure

A decade ago a probe that NASA sent to Mars disappeared.  An investigation revealed the following:

The peer review preliminary findings indicate that one team used English units (e.g., inches, feet and pounds) while the other used metric units for a key spacecraft operation. This information was critical to the maneuvers required to place the spacecraft in the proper Mars orbit.

"Our inability to recognize and correct this simple error has had major implications," said Dr. Edward Stone, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We have underway a thorough investigation to understand this issue."