A Darwinian theory of beauty

A Ted Talks/RSA animate mashup.

Advertisements

Death from the sky

One of the technologically fascinating but morally disturbing aspects of modern warfare is that the means of attack have taken on the character of a videogame.

Here’s a clip of an aerial attack on a group of hostile insurgents in a house during the Iraq War:

You see the precision of the attack and the calm manner in which it’s carried out. Air support is literally putting missiles in the windows it wants to put them in. Troop on the ground ask for help from the sky, and it’s there in a matter of minutes. From the air perspective, things blow up soundlessly. If the missile doesn’t go off? Fire another. Any motion detected among the insurgents? Then stick another missile in the front window.

But what is actually happening on the ground? Here’s a BBC clip showing what happens when there’s a case of mistaken identity. Ten years ago, the BBC crew was with a group of Kurdish allies in northern Iraq accompanied by Americans prepared to battle Saddam Hussein‘s army. Air support misidentified the allies as insurgents. (Warning: This is very graphic, so keep that in mind before you view the clip.)

Today, instead of troops on the ground and pilots in the air, an attack against enemies can be carried out with a drone aircraft guided by a soldier hundreds of miles away. War is done with pinpoint accuracy and is more efficient and more deadly. But it oddly has become more sterile when seen through the prism of a video screen.

And then a mistake is made. When that happens, we hear terms like “friendly fire” and “collateral damage.

Those words turn into Orwellian profanity, when you fully realize what has happened: People have been blown up, like in the “friendly fire” the BBC crew witnessed. And it isn’t a videogame, where you get a new life after you’re killed.

The worst thing you can do in war is to undermine the horror of what is really happening.

The arsenal of an NRA member

Adam Lanza murdered six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Yesterday, police released details of the arsenal Lanza had access to:

At the school:

  • 1 Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle with a 30-round magazine
  • 1 Glock 10mm handgun
  • 1 9mm Sig Sauer P226 handgun
  • 1 Saiga 12 shotgun with two magazines containing 70 rounds
  • 6 30-round magazines, three of them emptied

At the home:

Guns:

  • 1 Enfield bolt-action .323 rifle
  • 1 Savage Mark II .22 caliber rifle with magazine, 3 live rounds, 1 spent cartridge
  • 1 black marksman BB gun

Ammunition:

  • 5 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells cut open, with buckshot
  • 1 white plastic bag with 30 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells
  • 1 can with .22 caliber and .45 caliber bullets
  • 8 boxes of Winchester Windcat .22 caliber bullets, 50 rounds per box
  • 20 “Estate” 12-gauge shotgun shells
  • 4 boxes of SB buckshot 12-gauge, 10 round per box
  • 1 box of Lightfield 12-gauge slugs
  • 1 box of 20 Prvi Partizan 303 British rifle cartridges
  • 1 box of 20 Federal 303 British rifle cartridges
  • 2 boxes of .22 long rifle Blazer rounds, 50 each box
  • 1 box with numerous rounds of Winchester .45 caliber bullets
  • 2 boxes of 50 rounds of PPU .45 caliber automatic
  • 1 box of 20 rounds for Remington .223 caliber
  • 3 boxes of Blazer 40 S&W, 50 rounds each
  • 2 boxes of Winchester 5.56 mm, 20 rounds each
  • 1 box of Magtech 45ACP with 30 rounds
  • 1 empty Box of SSA 5.56 mm
  • 1 box of Fiocchi .45 auto with 48 rounds
  • 80 rounds of CCI .22 long rifle
  • 6 boxes of PMC .223 rem, 20 rounds each
  • 6 Winchester 9 pellet buckshot shells, 12-gauge
  • 2 Remington 12-gauge slugs
  • 3 Winchester .223 rifle rounds
  • 31 .22 caliber rounds
  • 2 boxes of Underwood 10 mm auto, each with 50 rounds
  • 130 rounds of Lawman 9mm Luger
  • 2 spent shell casings for Glock 10mm
  • 1 empty box of Gold Dot 9mm Luger
  • 2 empty boxes of Winchester 9mm Luger
  • 1 box of Underwood 10mm auto with 34 rounds
  • 1 box of 29 miscellaneous 9mm rounds
  • 1 spent .22 shell casing
  • 1 small plastic bag containing numerous .22 caliber bullets
  • 1 tan bag with numerous Blazer .45 caliber bullets
  • 1 box of Blazer .22 long rifle with 50 rounds
  • 1 box PPU 303 British cartridges with 9 rounds
  • 2 Winchester 9mm rounds
  • 2 brass-colored shell casings
  • 1 small caliber bullet (live round) labeled C

Magazines:

  • 1 Promag 20-round 12-gauge drum magazine
  • 1 MD Arms 20-round 12 gauge drum magazine
  • 3 AGP Arms 12-gauge shotgun magazines
  • 1 Surefire GunMag magazine with 8 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge, 9-pellet buckshot
  • 2 AGP Arms 12-gauge shotgun magazines, taped together, each with 10 rounds of Winchester 9-pellet buckshot
  • 2 empty Ram Line magazines for Ruger 10-22
  • 1 AGP Arms Gen 2 12-gauge shotgun magazine with 10 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge, 9-pellet buckshot
  • 1 clear plastic Ramline magazine for an AR 15
  • 1 magazine with 10 rounds of .223 bullets

Knives:

  • Metal bayonet
  • 1 6-foot-10-inch wood-handled two-sided pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the other
  • 1 Samurai sword with a 28-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 Samurai sword with a 21-inch blade and a sheath
  • 1 Samurai sword with a 13-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 knife with a 12-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 wooden-handle knife with a 7.5-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 wooden-handle knife with a 10-inch blade
  • 1 knife with a 5.5-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 black-handled knife with a 7-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 black rubber-handled knife with 9.5-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 white and brown-handled knife with 5-inch blade and sheath
  • 1 brown wood-handled knife with a 10.25-inch blade
  • 1 Panther brown-handled folding knife with a 3.75 inch blade
  • 1 small blue folding knife

Gear:

  • 1 Volcanic .22 starter pistol wth 5 live rounds and 1 expended round
  • Leightning L3 ear protection
  • Peltor ear plugs
  • Simmons binoculars
  • Uncle Mike’s Sidekick nylon holster
  • Box for vest accessories
  • Leather dual magazine holder
  • Black leather handgun holster
  • High Sierra fanny pack
  • Numerous paper targets
  • 1 cardboard targets
  • 1 Bushnell sport view rifle scope
  • Plastic bag of miscellaneous parts
  • Safariland holster paperwork
  • Glock handgun manual
  • MD-20 20-round shotgun magazine manual
  • MD Arms V-Plug guide
  • Bushmaster XM15 and C15 instruction manual
  • Savage Arms bolt-action rifle manual
  • Glock paperwork

Miscellaneous:

  • Adam Lanza’s National Rifle Association certificate
  • Nancy Lanza’s NRA certificate
  • Three photographs with images of what appears to be a deceased human covered with plastic and what appears to be blood
  • Holiday card with a check from Nancy Lanza to Adam Lanza for purchase of C183 firearm
  • 1 digital print of a child and various firearms
  • 1 military-style uniform
  • Handwritten notes with addresses of local gun shops
  • Receipts and emails documenting firearm and ammunition supplies
  • Blue folder labeled “guns” with receipts and paperwork
  • Paperwork titled “Connecticut Gun Exchange Glock 20SF 10mm” dated 12-21-11
  • Sandy Hook report card for Adam Lanza
  • New York Times article on a 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois Unversity
  • Books: “Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s;” “Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant;” “NRA Guide to Basics of Pistol Shooting;” “Train our Brain to Get Happy”
  • 1 Seagate Barracuda 500gb hard drive, damaged
  • 1 custom-built desktop computer, no hard drive
  • 1 Microsoft Xbox with partially obliterated serial number
  • One cotton swab of blood-like substance
  • 1 tan sheet with blood-like substance
  • 1 tan fitted sheet with blood-like substance
  • 1 striped towel with blood-like substance

So far, the biggest reaction I’ve seen has been from the National Rifle Association, which said:

“There is no record of a member relationship between Newtown killer Adam Lanza, nor between Nancy Lanza, A. Lanza or N. Lanza with the National Rifle Association,” it said in a statement. “Reporting to the contrary is reckless, false and defamatory.”

Except there is a member relationship between the Lanzas and the NRA. Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, were members of the NRA. They had NRA material in their house. They had NRA certificates with their names on them in the house. The NRA is saying, “Who are you going to believe? The Connecticut law enforcement community and the FBI? Or us?” Putting it another way: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

It’s been almost four months since Adam Lanza killed the 20 children and six educators at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. He killed his mother at the beginning of the rampage, and he killed himself at the end. Congress has had almost four months to deal with assault weapons and the kind of arsenal Lanza and his mother accumulated.

The New York Daily News has best described the congressional effort:

ny_dnSo, nothing is going to happen. And now we wait for the next cry of outrage when the next psychopath with an assault rifle goes on a rampage. As we now know from Adam Lanza, it’s possible the next killer will be a card-carrying member of the NRA.

The North Korean army is all wet

I don’t know why, but I find videos out of North Korea fascinating. The quality is from the 1950s. The announcers are overly emotional. The music is absurd. And the people do the strangest things as they praise their leader.

OK. So Kim Jong Eun shows up and the soldiers feel they have to raise the roof? And, you know, when someone is leaving on a boat, you can wave from the shoreline. You don’t have to go into the water fully clothed.

And here’s something to remember. These crazy people want to blow us up.

 

The war in Iraq: We were warned.

The Iraq War began 10 years ago amid overwhelming support among the chattering classes and a major portion of the American population. But let’s remember that some people were pointing out that the idea of even considering an attack on Iraq was a mistake:

TMW9-11-02color-copyThat’s from Tom Tomorrow on Sept. 11 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks on America (which didn’t involve anyone from Iraq) and six months before the war started (in Iraq).