The Grim Milestone of Blogs "I find the language and rhetoric coming from America too confrontational" - Prince Charles "Nuts" - Gen McAuliffe America: Saving idiots from themselves since WWI

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sometimes the truth sneaks out despite the best efforts of self-righteous do-gooders to bury it alive

Kenyan economist blames aid for Africa famine

This might seem counterintuitive to those people who grew up in privileged societies with rule of law, material plenty, and democratic governance. But the history of aid in Africa, viewed empirically, has never alleviated famine except in the very short term. Aid to the Third World is often stolen, bartered for weapons, used as a means of control over the starving poor, or simply left to rot on the docks.

The Kenyan economist highlights another problem, the culture of dependency and corruption aid to Africa often creates.

"When aid money keeps coming, all our policy-makers do is strategize on how to get more," said the Kenya-based director of the Inter Region Economic Network, an African think tank.

"They forget about getting their own people working to solve these very basic problems. In Africa, we look to outsiders to solve our problems, making the victim not take responsibility to change."

Moving the aid can be nightmare in itself. Africa's good roads are few, and often pass through the front lines of civil wars. But Shikwati notes an additional problem: Even African countries that have food to spare can't easily share it because tariffs on agricultural products within sub-Saharan Africa average as high as 33 percent, compared with 12 percent on similar products imported from Europe.

"It doesn't make sense when they can't even allow their neighbors to feed them. They have to wait for others in Europe or Asia to help," he said. "We don't have any excuses in Africa. We can't blame nature. We have to tell our leadership to open up and get people producing food."

Nature, of course, does bear some of the blame. Recurring drought is a part of life in Africa. Farmers have learned to cope, but exploding population growth sucks up water, pasture and livestock.

Many food crises result from bad government and civil wars. For 30 years after winning independence from France, Niger was ruled by coup and military dictatorship. Now it's a peaceful multiparty democracy, but its desert is getting bigger and drought is unrelenting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

"ships loaded with anti-aircraft guns from stem to stern"

I wonder what the U.S. had in mind for the clouds of kamikazes which were sure to descend on every attempt at invasion?

The U.S.S. Oakland is a WWII anti-aircraft cruiser.

Overall U.S. Army anti-aircraft capabilities were quite good.
Although they receive little attention, US Army anti-aircraft systems were actually quite good. Their smaller tactical needs were filled with quad-mounted 50-calibre machine guns, which were often mounted on the back of a half-track to form the Half Track M16, Anti-Aircraft. Although of even less power than Germany's 20mm systems, they were at least widely available. Their larger 90mm heavy guns would prove, as did the eighty-eight, to make an excellent anti-tank gun as well, and was widely used late in the war in this role. Finally just as the war was ending a new 120mm gun with an impressive 60,000ft altitude capability was introduced, the so-called stratosphere gun, which would continue in use after the war into the 1950s.

US anti-aircraft received little attention firing at German aircraft, due obviously to U.S. dominance of the airspace from June 6, 1944 until VE day.

The mobile quad-50's were very useful against infantry and the 90mm 'anti-aircraft' was the most reliable direct fire tank killer in the US inventory.

This is the standard loadout of the Essex Class Carrier. This was the state of the art at the end of WWII.

Aircraft (average operational complement, October 1944): 90 planes, including 38 F6F day fighters, 4 F6F night fighters, 27 SB2C scout-bombers, 18 TBM torpedo planes, 3 F6F photographic planes.

Gun Armament: Twelve 5"/38 guns in four twin and four single mountings plus a large (and variable) number of 40mm and 20mm machine guns

It's likely each fleet carrier of this type, about ten, would have carried at least 50 F6F Hellcat or Corsair day fighters into the early stages of Operation Downfall. The Corsair link has a comparison between the Hellcat, Corsair, and P-47 Thunderbolt.

The USS Little is a Fletcher Class destroyer, one of many which would have been tasked with protecting the transports, carriers, and other critical high-value naval targets. This is the standard anti-aircraft load.
5x 5"38DP - Dual Purpose
4x 1.1"AA - Anti-Aircraft
4x 20MMAA - Anti-Aircraft

"Eclipse miracle" saved the USS Boyd when it was forward deployed as a screen against kamikaze suicide attackers, deadly duty. However, it was not uncommon for experienced naval gun crews to destroy incoming fighters at ranges over a thousand yards.

On the other hand...


I claimed of the Essex Class aircraft carrier "This was the state of the art at the end of WWII."

Perhaps I was wrong about that. There were ten Essex Class fleet carriers in service for a potential Operation Downfall.

There were also a number of Ticonderoga Class fleet carriers available, and more coming all the time.

This is the most obvious difference:
Throughout the very large program to build Essex class aircraft carriers, modifications were constantly made. The number of 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft machine guns was greatly increased, new and improved radars were added, the original hangar deck catapult installation was deleted, the ventillation system was massively revised, details of protection were altered and hundreds of other large and small changes were executed. In fact, to the skilled observer, no two ships of the class looked exactly the same.

Beginning in March 1943, one visually very significant change was authorized for ships then in the early stages of construction. This involved reshaping the bow into a rather elegant "clipper" form to provide deck space for two 40mm quadruple gun mountings, thus greatly improving forward air defences. Thirteen ships were completed to this "long-hull", or Ticonderoga, class. Four of these were finished in 1944, in time to join their Essex class near-sisters in Pacific combat operations. The rest went into commission between early 1945 and late 1946.

That makes a potential of 23 Essex and Ticonderoga Class fleet carriers - ignoring jeep carriers, anti-sub carriers, land-based planes, and other classes of fleet carriers in operation off the shores of Japan by the end of 1946.

23 fleet carriers with 60 first line fighters of the Hellcat or Corsair variety each is not unreasonable. There was plenty of land-based bombing to allow the carriers to concentrate on killing the kamikazes.

At the kickoff of Operation Downfall that number might have been closer to 'only' fifteen fleet carriers of those two classes.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Operation Downfall

Operation Downfall (Wikipedia) was the evolving set of plans for blockading, bombing, softening, and eventually invading Japan.

Each of the home islands (casualties) would have to be taken with amphibious operations against battle-educated Japanese soldiers.**

**["From Beyond Bushido: Recent Work in Japanese Military History a symposium sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of International Programs, and the Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Kansas. Monday, February 16, 1998."]

The inevitable question, was using the atomic bomb justified?

Richard B. Frank's Downfall: the End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (Amazon link at atomic bomb) is a significant work in the ongoing debate over the two fateful days in nuclear warfare history, August 6th and 9th, 1945. Subsequently, the decision-making process has been scrutinized and criticized from every angle. The comparative advantage versus the comparative horror which resulted, the cold calculus of war, is a harsh reality for every commander in a total war. If dropping the bombs ended the war sooner, how much sooner, and how much more of a toll could the war have exacted on Japan and the Allies?

Downfall - From the Back Cover

Downfall opens with a vivid portrayal of the catastrophic fire raid on Tokyo in March 1945--which was to be followed by the utter destruction of almost every major Japanese city--and ends with the anguished vigil of American and Japanese leaders waiting to learn if Japan's armed forces would obey the Emperor's order to surrender.

America's use of the atom bomb has generated more heated controversy than any other event of the whole war:

Did nuclear weapons save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans poised to invade Japan?
Did U.S. leaders know that Japan was urgently seeking peace and needed only assurance about the Emperor's safety to end the war swiftly?
Was the bomb really used to intimidate the Russians?
Why wasn't the devastating power of the weapon demonstrated first before being unleashed on a city?

Richard B. Frank has brought to life these critical times, working from primary documents, reports, diaries, and newly declassified records. These pages present the untold story of how American leaders learned in the summer of 1945 that their compromise strategy to end the war by blockade and bombardment, followed by invasion, had been shattered; radio intelligence had unmasked a massive Japanese buildup on Kyushu designed to turn the initial invasion into a bloody shambles. Meanwhile, the text and analysis of diplomatic intercepts depicted sterile prospects for negotiation before a final clash of arms. Here also, for the first time, is a full and balanced account of how Japan's leaders risked annihilation by gambling on a military strategy aimed at securing political bargaining leverage to preserve the old order in Japan.

Downfall replaces the myths that now surround the end of the war and the use of the bomb with the stark realities of this great historical controversy.

Consider one mighty battle which never took place. The Japanese were stockpiling kamikaze suicide planes, among other weapons. The suicide planes, guided human bombs, had success sinking American ships in previous engagements. They exacted a toll standard Japanese aviation no longer could against heavily-defended capital ships.

Wikipedia - Operation Downfall
The Japanese defense relied heavily on kamikaze planes. In addition to fighters and bombers, they reassigned almost all of their trainers for the mission, trying to make up in quantity what they lacked in quality. Between them, the Army and Navy had more than 10,000 aircraft ready for use in July, and would have had somewhat more by October—and were planning to use almost all that could reach the invasion fleets.

During the Battle of Okinawa, less than 2,000 kamikazes had gotten about one hit per nine planes that made an attack. At Kyushu, given the more favorable circumstances, they hoped to get one for six. The Japanese estimated that the planes would sink more than 400 ships, and since they were training the pilots to target transports rather than carriers and destroyers, the casualties would be disproportionately greater than at Okinawa. One staff study estimated that the kamikazes could destroy a third to a half of the invasion force before its landings.

A graphic account of the plan of attack.

The Japanese had 58 more airfields on Korea, western Honshu and Shikoku, which also were to be used for massive suicide attacks.

Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more that 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed that 300 would be deployed in suicide attacks.

In August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the Japanese still had 5,651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a total of 12,725 planes of all types. Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing activity. Hidden in mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of department stores, work was being done to construct new planes.

Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective models of the Okka - a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German V-1, but flown by a suicide pilot.

When the invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold aerial plan of attack to destroy up to 800 Allied ships.

While Allied ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open seas, an initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the death to control the skies over Kyushu. A second force of 330 navy combat pilots were to attack the main body of the task force to keep it from using its fire support and air cover to protect the troop carrying transports. While these two forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit the American transports.

As the invasion convoys approached their anchorages, another 2,000 suicide planes were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in hour-by-hour attacks.

By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the American land-based aircraft would be forced to return to their bases, leaving the defense against the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the shipboard gunners.

Carrier pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of continuos firing and ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by nightfall, but still the waves of kamikazes would continue. With the fleet hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be committed to nonstop suicide attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for 10 days. The Japanese planned to coordinate their air strikes with attacks from the 40 remaining submarines from the Imperial Navy - some armed with Long Lance torpedoes with a range of 20 miles - when the invasion fleet was 180 miles off Kyushu.

The Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and 2 cruisers which were operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the American invasion. A number of the destroyers were to be beached at the last minute to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.

Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not only against the attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with suicide attacks from the sea. Japan had established a suicide naval attack unit of midget submarines, human torpedoes and exploding motorboats.

The goal of the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the landing. The Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off or become so demoralized that they would then accept a less-than-unconditional surrender and a more honorable and face-saving end for the Japanese.

But as horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches, it would be on Japanese soil that the American forces would face the most rugged and fanatical defense encountered during the war.

The United States had a plan to blunt some of this kamikaze punch due to evolving intelligence alerting the high command of the reality of the threat.

Wikipedia - Operation Downfall
Air threat
U.S. military intelligence initially estimated the number of Japanese aircraft to be around 2,500. The Okinawa experience was bad—almost two fatalities and a similar number wounded per sortie—and Kyushu was likely to be worse. To attack the ships off Okinawa, planes had to fly long distances over open water; to attack the ships off Kyushu, they could fly overland and then short distances out to the landing fleets. Gradually, intelligence learned that the Japanese were devoting all their aircraft to the kamikaze mission, and taking effective measures to conserve them until the battle. An Army estimate in May was 3,391 planes; in June, 4,862; in August, 5,911. A Navy estimate, abandoning any distinction between training and combat aircraft, in July was 8,750; in August, 10,290.

The Allies made preparations, adding more fighter squadrons to the carriers in place of torpedo- and dive-bombers, and converting B-17s into airborne radar pickets—the ancestors of the AWACS. Adm. Nimitz came up with a plan for a pre-invasion feint, sending a fleet to the invasion beaches a couple of weeks before the real invasion, to lure out the Japanese on their one-way flights, who would then find—instead of the valuable, vulnerable transports—ships loaded with antiaircraft guns from stem to stern.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hat Tip to Rancher: Nasal Stem Cells Funded by RCC

Rancher alerted me to this article. I reserve the right to criticize the Catholic Church so I should point the very good deeds of the Church, this being one of them.
With the help of the Catholic Church, Australian researchers have successfully grown adult stem cells harvested from the human nose, avoiding the ethical and legal problems associated with embryonic stem cells.

Australia bans creating human embryos to harvest stem cells but scientists may use embryos left over from IVF (in-vitro fertility) treatment. Stems cells harvested through other means, such as from the nose, is legal.

Head researcher Alan Mackay-Sim of Griffith University said the adult stem cells taken from inside the nose could potentially be used to grow nerve, heart, liver, kidney and muscle cells.

Partnership between religion and hard science should be encouraged.

I don't think science will ever research the mystery out of the universe. Trying to understanding the Big Bang, Quantum Foam, or String Theories seems to create more mystery to me. Dark matter, dark energy, all the new phenomenon found by the Hubble or other telescopes every day. Planets being discovered for the first time. Now is a time of great discovery for humanity, scientific and religious.

London Can Take It

Can London dish it out?

All signs, hate crimes legislation with an exemption for the Koran, refusing to use surveillance on mosques, and focusing on recruiting Muslims instead of training Europeans in Arabic, point to misconceptions about the enemy we face.

Galloway is an open supporter of the other side in this war, and at least doesn't try very hard to conceal the fact. Far more depressing are the insincere and inauthentic statements made by more "mainstream" types. The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone--another Blair-hater and another flirter with any local Imam who can bring him a few quick votes--managed to say that the murders were directed at "the working class," not the "powerful." That's true enough, but it doesn't avoid the implication that a jihadist bomb in, say, the Stock Exchange would have been less reprehensible. Another dismal statement, issued by the Muslim Council of Britain in concert with something called "Churches Together in Britain and Ireland," got as far as proclaiming that "no good purpose can be achieved by such an indiscriminate and cruel use of terror." This is to say too much and too little. It still hints that the purpose might be ill-served by the means. Further, it fails as an ecumenical statement in that it was evidently not submitted to Britain's large Jewish community for ratification. Why do I think that there were some in both the Muslim and Christian leaderships who thought that, in their proud "inclusiveness," they didn't need to go quite that far?

On the other hand, I must say that the leadership of "Imaan," a "social support group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Muslims," managed to issue a condemnation that was not shaded or angled in any way, and consisted of a simple, unequivocal denunciation and a statement of solidarity with the victims. That's the stuff. At last, the Churchill touch!

"London can take it!" That's what the patriotic proles are supposed to have yelled from the bomb-sites when Churchill toured the battered East End. London can indeed take it. It is a huge and resilient city, and if there were ten thousand jihadist guerrillas operating full time within its precincts, they could scarcely make a dent before they were utterly defeated. Once I had guiltily assured myself of the safety of my own daughter, I allowed myself to think that the long-awaited attack had not been as bad as many of us had expected. It was planned to be worse, and the next assault may be worse still. The tube stations selected for the mayhem show beyond doubt that the perpetrators must have expected to kill quite a number of Muslims, just as their co-thinkers have been doing in Kabul and Baghdad.

But another reflection now deposes the preceding one. In 2001 there was an enemy to hit back at, and some business to conclude with the Taliban. Since then, there has been unfinished business with Saddam Hussein and his notorious fedayeen. But from now on, we must increasingly confront the fact that the war within Islam is also a war within Europe. It's highly probable that the assassins of 7 July are British born, as were several Taliban fighters in the first round in Afghanistan. And the mirror image also exists. Many Muslims take the side of civilization and many European fascists and Communists are sympathetic to jihad.

These are not the bright, clear lines that many people fondly imagine to be heritable from a heroic past. But the nature of the enemy is somewhat similar. Like the fascists that they are, the murderers boast that they love death more than we love life. They imagine that this yell of unreason is intimidating and impressive. We shall undoubtedly go forward and put these grave matters to the proof but, meanwhile: Death to them and Long Live London!

Hitchens is right on the mark. He points out the fertile base for recruiting within European youth already determined the United States and their own government are the greatest threats to world peace. The BBC, Guardian, Mirror, and Independent have seen to that. The Telegraph and Sun, ironically, provide some balance.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Don't get eaten in Florida, Part II

How many times will we see cable news breathlessly reporting,

Terror in the Oceans, Summer of the Shark 200?


Bob: "Why are the sharks suddenly biting people and killing them in the ocean near busy beaches of all places?

Nancy: "We'll have two marine biologists after this break."

Bull sharks have an undeserved reputation for not killing people.

You hear about the great white, tiger, mako, white tip, and hammerhead. At least the nurse shark has an appropriate name. Only #4 (disregarding common sense, below) could get one of those to turn on you.

Bull sharks aren't friendly neighbors. "They're a critical part of the ecosystem...yadda...yadda." That's all true, but we are part of the food chain allowing them to inhabit the ecosystem.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) bull sharks are historically responsible for at least 69 unprovoked attacks on humans around the world, 17 of which resulted in fatality. In reality this species is likely responsible for many more, and has been considered by many experts to be the most dangerous shark in the world. It's large size, occurrence in freshwater bodies, and greater abundance in close proximity to numerous human populations in the tropics makes it more of a potential threat than either the white shark or tiger shark. Since the bull shark occurs in numerous Third World regions including Central America, Mexico, India, east and west Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Pacific Islands, attacks are often not reported. The bull shark is also not as easily identifiable as the white or tiger shark, so is likely responsible for a large percentage of attacks with unidentified culprits.

Note the "occurrence in freshwater bodies," the only shark to do so. Consider where bull sharks live in the ocean.

The bull shark prefers to live in shallow coastal waters less than 100 feet deep (30 m), but ranges from 3-450 feet deep (1-150 m). It commonly enters estuaries, bays, harbors, lagoons, and river mouths. It is the only shark species that readily occurs in freshwater, and apparently can spend long periods of time in such environs. It is not likely that the bull shark's entire life cycle occurs within a freshwater system, however. There is evidence that they can breed in freshwater, but not as regularly as they do in estuarine and marine habitats. Juvenile bull sharks enter low salinity estuaries and lagoons as readily as adults do, and use these shallow areas as nursery grounds. They can also tolerate hypersaline water as high as 53 parts per thousand.

I've seen shots of surfers on the East Coast of Florida circled by bull sharks as the helicopter films, also circling overhead.

Note #4 below:

#1 Avoid swimming near river mouths or other estuaries with turbid waters where bull sharks are known to occur.

#2 Do not swim near schools of fish in inshore areas. These schools are often pursued by large predators.

#3 Be cautious if spearfishing. Bull sharks are known to approach spearfishermen carrying their catch.

#4 Do not duplicate the practices of some television "adventurers" who flagrantly disregard common sense for showboating around sharks while underwater.

Jeremy, who disregarded common sense as a recreational diver, knows everything about bull sharks after that really exciting macho ecotour he paid for.

"Bull sharks have the most fearsome reputation for shark attacks, yet you can flick a hand at them and they will retreat," observed Jeremy.

Jeremy was able to conduct this experiment once and therefore the full range of bull shark behavior had been analyzed for the purposes of selling more dive trips.

The Bull Shark
It lurks in the shallows, even in fresh water. And it loves to kill.

Loves to eat is more like it. Bull sharks are all muscle.

By Douglas McCollam
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2001, at 12:00 AM PT

On July 6, as 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast waded in about 2 feet of water along Florida's Gulf Islands National Seashore, a 7-foot-long bull shark ambushed him, tearing off his right arm and a chunk of his right leg. The attack came so near to shore that Jessie's uncle and another beachgoer were able to grab the shark and drag it onto land where park rangers shot it, pried its mouth open, and retrieved the severed arm. The boy almost bled to death and lapsed into a coma. Surgeons reattached the limb, and though Jessie is showing signs of coming to, doctors say it's too soon to know if he'll make a full recovery.


Less than two months later Thadeus Kubinski, a retired businessman living near Tampa Bay, was attacked by a bull shark when he jumped off his backyard dock into five feet of water. His stunned wife ran to call 911. Kubinski died before help arrived. As I finished this story, the Associated Press reports that a man surfing just down the beach from the scene of the Arbogast attack was bitten while sitting on his board. He was taken to the same hospital, but his condition did not appear serious. The culprit wasn't identified, but the attack fit the bull shark's MO.

The mighty Great White would much rather eat an island seal than slum it at your favorite beach.

The bull shark possesses an indiscriminate palate: It will eat just about anything—other sharks, dolphins, and porpoises. (That stuff about dolphins meaning there aren't sharks around? Forget it.) Compared to their cousins the tiger and blue sharks—whose large, dark, disc of an eye make them such efficient sight hunters—the bull shark is as blind as Magoo. They often hunt in murky waters where visual acuity is less of a factor. Like all sharks, they command a keen sense of smell and can detect erratic movements from long distances. When zeroing in on prey, bulls use either a "bump and bite" technique to investigate the target or a more deadly rush attack where it delivers maximum damage immediately. As its stout build is complemented by disproportionally large jaws and teeth, the bull's bite is a deadly, shredding, vise.

Some day this will be a Trivial Pursuit question or maybe even Final Jeopardy so pay attention.

What animal has the highest testosterone levels?

Surprise, did you guess three-toed sloth? Well, it's the bull shark.

Florida tourist tips from a native, don't let our fauna eat you

Fire Ants are always setting up mounds in my back yard. Ralph Moore takes a dim view of them:
To look at a fire ant, it doesn't seem that scary. It's brown and small, but its bite is ten times bigger. What's worse-- and frequently dangerous-- is the ant's swarming habit. If you find a fire ant mound and brush a stick across its puckered top, thousands of angry ants immediately spill out, biting the air. The only defense is a fast retreat. Those who can't move quickly after inadvertently stepping on a mound -- toddlers, the elderly-- are quickly covered and stung to death. A single mound contains several hundred thousand ants.

While his final statement is true, the actual number of our children and parents consumed by fire ants is not high. Everyone gets bitten - did I mention a huge mound unloaded on me yesterday? - but I've never personally known anyone consumed by fire ants. Even a small child can squash them rubbing with enough vigor, which hundreds of them is sure to produce. Babies would be helpless.

There are fire ants which post guards, warrior ants, atop the plant stalks or long grass they build their nests around. If you disturb the nest, rest assured thousands of fire ants will be manning the towers in a second even if they aren't that particularly nasty kind.

I was playing frisbee golf at Turkey Lake Park in Orlando. A tourist from Europe met me at the first tee. We decided to play along more for someone to run for help if there was a rattlesnake bite than any issues of course crowding. This is frisbee golf after all.

Rattlesnakes, to their credit, won't eat you. Most people are bitten on their hands and arms after consuming alcohol.

Don't step on them and don't grab them by the tail like all the 'trained professionals' on television.

On another occasion I nearly stepped on a large Eastern diamondback rattlesnake at Turkey Lake Park on the ninth fairway. There were many downed limbs after a hurricane made it pretty windy and rainy. Word to the wise, pay attention when you walk fast.

My mind: "stick, stick, weird stick, SNAKE!" At that point I was committed to putting my right foot within a foot or so of its head.

It never raised to strike or rattled. After I skipped past like someone sneaking away in a cartoon, on tiptoes, I turned back once I got to ten feet or so into the clear. Without showing any aggression the rattler continued on its way, which was fine with me. The snake was over five feet long and looked like it had been eating well.

My newly-found European friend asked me about all the large sand mounds around the fifth hole. When I told him fire ants and that he should be careful not to step on the mounds, he said "why?"

As you've read, European conceptions of ants and a Floridian talking about ants must not produce the required survival reaction. I'm doing my public service now for any of you planning on visiting.

Fire Ants won't leave you alone. We are fighting for our property rights, children, the elderly, and small cute furry things. Read about their inflitration into every neighborhood.

The red fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, (invincible stick) live in and around us everywhere and particularly are fond of golf courses and gardens that get plenty of sun. These unwelcome residents came from South America and with the exception of humans have no natural enemies and this explains their ubiquitous presence now throughout most of the South and certainly in South Carolina. A survey conducted in just South Carolina revealed that in the 1990, physicians reported treating 5000 cases of imported fire ant stings on humans. This represented a 14-fold morbidity. In all, there were 27 hospitalizations, one death and 170 cases requiring imported fire ant desensitization by an allergy specialist. Undoubtedly with the growth in ant and human population since 1990 we are talking about a much higher incidence of stings. In fact, in infested areas like Charleston County it is estimated that half of the population will be stung by a fire ant each year.

"gardens that get plenty of sun"

So I'm in my back yard trying to kill this fire ant mound which has grown among my sarracenia plants in my bog garden. I've tried various types of chemical warfare. They seem to use fire ant poison as building material.

I have another approach which is more risky but works if you get lucky. I use a garden hose to flush away the top layers of the nest and some of the first wave of attackers and go after the mound (they dig down and build up) with a probe, hoping to nail the queen or destroy something important. The danger comes when they race up your probe and start biting and stinging your hand, which won't be long.

I needed to get in there and weed. This mound is a good meter across. Keep in mind the amount of underground activity which goes along with that.

So I hit it with water, some hedge clippers, more water, hedge clippers. I tried to let the mound settle down after that. I needed to weed on the other side of the garden about ten feet away. Well, I guess that's a fire ant rally point.

So now both hands, both feet, and the bottom half of my legs are covered in fire ant bites.

The tourist from Europe also asked me if he could swim in Turkey Lake over by some reeds near the course after we finished playing golf? I advised against it. When he heard how big they could get he made a sound like someone punched him in the chest (OUF!)

That would ruin your whole vacation.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

France, France, France

Jacques Chirac has been one of the most arrogant and inept leaders I've seen in a long time. Those are the nice things I can say about him.

Speaking of invading France...

Patton was right.
Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.

It is very easy for ignorant people to think that success in war may be gained by the use of some wonderful invention rather than by hard fighting and superior leadership.

Taking the war to the jihadis in Afghanistan and Iraq has certainly proven the latter true.

France, what would we do without your philosophers? I'd love to test it empirically.

Jean-Francois Revel is one we should keep in the publishing control group.

Moving from our allies the French over the Chunnel to the UK. Howdy friend!

Guardian or Monty Python?

It's OK that the Guardian picks on us a little bit. Our own 'loyal' opposition has been known to stretch some analogies or bend some facts. Dick insists criticism comes from the orchestrated right-wing attack machine. "He's a hero for speaking out," and so forth. Steyn's dose of reality:
But give Mr. Durbin credit. Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis shtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, Senator. If you had a dime for every crackpot Web site that takes up your thoughtful historical comparison, you would be able to retire to the Caribbean and spend the rest of your days torturing yourself with hot weather and loud music, as well as inappropriately provocative women and insufficient choice of hors d'oeuvre and all the other shameful atrocities at Guantanamo.

Do you remember Stripes?

What kind of training have you been doing soldier?

Wahhabi training, brother!
All were being trained as dias--preachers who would, on graduation, go out to Asia and Africa, as well as Europe and America, to do dawa: run mosques, madrasas and Islamic centres, teach and preach.

Where is the Gandhi of Islam?

Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph asks the world.


If you changed one letter of this quote it would make a great T-Shirt
The idea that thes[r]e are divine 007 licences to kill has been explicitly repudiated.

This could prove to be a sticking point when we try to multiculturally blend sharia law in with our English Common Law and U.S. legislative system.

Charles Moore is nobody's dhimmi.

So it must be with Muslims in Britain. In fact, the situation is more serious because we are dealing with a religion, not merely a national aspiration, and the demands of a religion are more absolute than anything else. If fanatics can persuade people that their religion insists that they kill others (and often themselves) in its service, then they will obey. And whereas the IRA, though utterly sadistic and fanatical, kept in mind a political aim which, once achieved, would mean that they need kill no longer, the religious fanatic lacks even this check on his behaviour.

From time to time, perhaps, he will kill for a specific reason - to take power in one country, to drive foreign troops out of another - but, in principle, there is no end to his killing until everyone who does not share his particular version of truth is exterminated.

What strikes one again and again about the reaction of the public authorities, of commentators, of the media, is the terrible lethargy about studying what it is we are up against. We are dealing with an extreme interpretation of one of the great religions of the world.

We flap around, looking for moderates and giving them knighthoods, making placatory noises, putting bits of Islam on to the multi-faith menu in schools, banishing Bibles from hospital beds, trying to criminalise the expression of "religious hatred", blaming George Bush and Tony Blair. But if we do not know the way the faith in question works, its history, its quarrels, its laws and demands, we will not have the faintest chance of distinguishing the true moderate from the fellow-traveller or of bearing down on the fanaticism.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Read this article as if your life depends on it

I'd like to thank Dave Ray, writer of Bulletproof Dandy, contributor to Little Green Footballs, and Discarded Lies, for bringing this article to my attention. Everyone capable of reading English should read this article.

Terror on the Dole

In the event my arm-twisting didn't work, here are some key excerpts.

Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths pour heated words of revolution.

"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."

...But Sayful and his friends laugh at the idea that they are local pariahs. "The mosques say one thing to the public, and something else to us. Let's just say that the face you see and the face we see are two different faces," says Abdul Haq. "Believe me," adds Musa, "behind closed doors, there are no moderate Muslims."

They also mock the idea that they are attracted to al-Muhajiroun because they have suffered alienation from white society. "Do we look like scum?" they ask. "Do we look illiterate?"

As they call for the bill, Abu Malaahim flicks open his 3G mobile phone and, with a satisfied grin, displays the image, downloaded from the internet, of an American Humvee burning in Iraq.

Abu Yusuf says: "That's nothing. I downloaded the picture of the four burnt Americans hanging from the bridge." It's oneupmanship, al-Muhajiroun style.

Sayful, the only married one in the group, prepares to go home to his wife and children. Before he departs, he says he has a message to deliver.

"I want to warn that the police raids - if repeated - could create a bad situation.

"Islam is not like Christianity, where they turn the other cheek. If they raid our homes, it could lead to the covenant of security being broken.

"Islam allows us to retaliate. That would include" - he tugs his "Jihad" coat tight against the night air - "by violent means."