Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Kansas City Star -- When TV goes bad, it's time to dial up the shark-jumper

My wife told me about this a couple of months ago. This is one of those catch-phrases that is instantly perfect and recognizable.
'National Geographic' tracks down Afghan girl

How cool is this. The anonymous green-eyed Afghan girl from that old National Geographic cover -- you know the one -- has been located living near Jalalabad. She never saw the cover of the magazine and never knew the photo was famous.
STATS at Work: Most Strangers Not Evil, Daily News

Another awesome story from the site. This is one of my favorite "pet causes" that I unexpectedly harangue people with from time to time. Bottom line: America is much safer than the evening news would have you believe. - Disarming Bellesiles

I never cease to be amazed by the variety of valuable resources you can find on the Internet. I just came across the web site for, which is a group devoted to debunking junk science and inaccurate reporting of statistical studies in the media.

This particular article is a debunking of the anti-gun book "Arming America" which got a lot of press when it was released in 2000. This book claimed to show that early Americans didn't own very many guns. The only problem was that the author played pretty fast-and-loose with the facts to back up his claims.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big gun-control guy. But I believe strongly that it only harms the public debate when someone poisons their arguments with bad data.

I think there's a lot more good stuff on the web site. They claim to be unbiased, and as far as I can tell they skewer false claims from the left and right.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Kansas City Star - Military's precision bombing attacks depend on product from Missouri plant

Local angle on JDAMs, the little tailfins that turn dumb bombs into smart ones. If you think that the Gulf War was "modern" warfare, you don't realize how far we've come in the last 10 years.

Three things I got from the article:

1. Laser-guided weapons cost a whole lot more than these, and they don't work well in bad weather. These things aren't affected by weather, which is a huge boost next time we're fighting in the unpredictable climes of Europe.

2. These rely on GPS satellites, like everything else these days. If our next major enemy could take out those satellites, I guess we wouldn't be very effective with our bombing, would we? Hence the dire need for an active Space Command.

3. These things work so well, we can accomplish more with less planes. There's a brief quote at the end of the article that says "at some point we should look at buying less planes". If I was Boeing, who is the manufacturer of these bombs, that might scare me a little. If the entire planned stockpile of these things is 10,000, that means only $200 million at $20,000 apiece. If they eliminate the need for 10 extra B2 bombers (say $1 billion apiece), that's not a very good trade. Death of a drug lord

Another good Salon interview with Mark Bowden, the author of Blackhawk Down. This interview is about Bowden's book "Killing Pablo", which details the hunt for Pablo Escobar.

After reading this interview, I'll have to put that book on my "to-read" list. Hunting Osama

Here's a really old story from September of last year. But it still gives a lot of interesting insight into what Delta Force guys are like. Did "Black Hawk Down" sell out?

Some people on the left have been criticizing the movie "Black Hawk Down" for being pro-war and jingoistic. They assume the military must have edited the content heavily in return for their help producing the film.

After reading the original stories I can only say that the movie was extremely loyal to the newspaper version.

One amusing thing in the article is the way they poke fun at the protesting actor's complaints as "undergraduate radical-chic bombast".
Washington Post - Onward and Upward

Interesting column by George Will. He says that since Sep. 11, people have tended to reject the prevailing wisdom of relativism, and are turning back to the old standards of thought and music.

Monday, March 11, 2002

Heritage Foundation - Missile Defense resources

I sometimes find myself torn on missile defense, but not for any of the reasons mentioned by these guys. Still, I like to give equal time to opposing viewpoints. So here are a bunch of op-eds, position papers, etc. from the The Heritage Foundation.

This conservative think tank is so hot-and-heavy on missile defense that I'd be interested to see if any defense contractors are among their financial supporters.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - For some, it's all about crunching numbers

March Madness is a somewhat lighter topic -- but no less timely! Here's a look at the science of bracketology.
FMSO Document - Ground Combat at High Altitude

Relevant article from the Foreign Military Studies Office, which is a pseudo-military office at Ft. Leavenworth which publishes non-classified research about armies around the world. This article is a primer on high-mountain warfare by an officer in the Argentine army. As the author points out, there are a lot of nations with more experience than the U.S. when it comes to fighting in these extreme conditions.