Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lower infant mortality in Afghanistan

Afghan infant mortality is going down.
That represents a drop of 18 percent, and means that 40,000 to 50,000 fewer infants are dying now than in the Taliban era, Dr. Fatimi said.
With the Taliban gone it only makes sense, doesn't it? The Taliban refused to allow girls to go to school at all. If women weren't supposed to go to school, weren't supposed to be nurses, much less doctors, weren't supposed to get an education at all... who took care of them when they were sick?

They couldn't go to male doctors.

I don't know if we can actually understand just how completely evil the Taliban was (and now they are increasing in Somalia?) even when we hear the stories. Even when we hear about women throwing themselves from apartment high rises from depression and despair at being locked in all day, every day, without end.

Now women can go to school and learn to be nurses and midwives so that women who still aren't going to go to male doctors at least have the option of getting medical care and accurate information.

As Ace of Spades so irreverently points out... sometimes war is good for something.

h/t to Instapundit.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fighting science: Teach your children well.

I followed a link to The Anchoress. I've no idea where or when she studied knife fighting but I'm less surprised that she has than I might have been before I started to train in martial arts. To an extent she seemed to be talking about past knowledge that she'd prefer forgotten.

She says:
Buster’s initial reaction was that Mom was kind of a scary broad, but a few minutes later he said, “teach me that stuff…”

No, I don’t intend to train my son to the blade, nor do I recommend anyone else do it. But, this all has me thinking…in a perfect world, we should not need weapons, nor fighting science…and yet as we see, daily, the world is an imperfect place, and all of our best impulses toward peace may be thwarted at any time by someone with another idea. My son is not exactly a kid who wanders around wondering how he can kill people with the tools at hand, and I’d certainly prefer that he bring his mind around to “restraining and detaining” a bad guy rather than taking his or her life, but sometimes I wonder if we have gone too far in teaching our children that “fighting is bad.”

Skeeter, in comment #5 says:
I had a self defense instructor (who believe me, could VERY easily kill an armed man bare handed) tell the class about the time that he was held up, at gun point, and his wallet was taken. What struck me, though, was that he said that he looked at the guy, made a determination that it was the wallet he was after, and he gave it to him.

Teaching children to fight, with a knife or any other weapon, is not incompatible with teaching that fighting is bad.

Skeeter continues with what the instructor said about cases where taking action is necessary:
In that case, he said, that the choice was always with the individual, but if action was your choice, you must hurt him first, and hurt him badly, badly enough that you could turn your back and walk away, without risk.
My instructor expresses this a little differently. He says to hurt the attacker badly enough that you can get free and run. The principle is exactly the same, however. And there may be more than one attacker. Every strike should be an attempt to stop the attacker permanently. There is no place for a gradual ramping up of action until a person gets to "enough." When the decision is made it must be total because the decision that is made is "is this life and death?" If it's not life and death then it's just *not*. The emphasis is always on avoiding the fight. On getting away.

Now, I will say that this advice is for people who are *not* super-duper martial arts masters. This advice is for *me*. My instructor could undoubtedly "restrain and detain" an attacker in most situations. His father could probably "restrain and detain" an attacker using nothing more than his little finger (and I am almost not even exaggerating) .

Training is what makes it possible to make the less lethal choice.

A lack of training or not enough training *requires* the more lethal choice because *I* don't have the ability or physical control to attack just exactly so, to hit a nerve center or manage a joint manipulation, just exactly right. And if I screw up, I don't get a second chance. I get one chance while my attacker isn't expecting me to fight back and I *have* to take the strikes that are going to be most reliably effective to remove someone who may well be a foot taller and twice as heavy out of action *permanently*.

I'm sure that it's the same with knife fighting as well. A *skilled* fighter might be able to disable an attacker. An unskilled person couldn't risk trying.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blog Roll

I added Dadmanly a while ago. He graciously added me to his blog roll, probably the first and only person to do so. (I've not quite figured out how to *request* blog rolling!)

And today I added Reason with Passion. A new blog I think. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Just Want Shade For My Dog - Plant A Tree Day

Any idea when a good day for that would be?

I don't have a lot of room for trees. I'd probably have to go for fruit trees, but they provide shade suitable for dogs, so that's good.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Self defense, it's an attitude people!

I understand talking about allowing concealed carry on college campuses in response to the Virginia Tech horror but... it's more about the attitude it represents than than the slim chance (which is better than none) that someone would have been present who had a gun with them and would also have had the opportunity to use it.

Instapundit linked to an older post from Dr. Helen. Read it!
Have you noticed that most of the tips you get in recent years for how to survive a violent crime involve an accompanying psychological maneuver of first trying to make you feel impotent?

The assumption, the practice of self-defense, is what makes the difference. You are not impotent. You are not powerless. Without this reality firmly in your head you are *not* going to be able to fight back when under stress.

We are safer when people assume that we each are the first line of defense for our own safety. The assumption is more important than the weapon. The weapon is merely a symbol of that assumption.

Not that all advice on how to survive a violent crime first tries to make you feel powerless or suggests going along with your attacker hoping not to get hurt. But then maybe I listen to people who understand that fighting back makes you safer.

When we first moved here I recall someone saying that it's better to be shot refusing to go along with your attacker because bleeding in the parking lot of Home Depot you're within minutes of the emergency room. Dead on the mesa, you're just dead.

Common sense. Remember poor Polly Class? She could have screamed, she and her friend, and parents would have come running. She obeyed her abductor, believed that obeying was what she should do, (and her friend waited, as told to wait, before reporting that Polly had been taken away, IIRC,) and Polly was killed.

Believing that someone who is threatening you or robbing you or abducting you "doesn't want to hurt you" is incredibly foolish. Believing that going along with them makes you safer is incredibly foolish.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech : A mother's reaction

I plan to arm my children.

Fighting back is always safer, over all. And it doesn't necessarily have to involve having a gun to shoot back with. What it requires is a MINDSET of self-defense and action.

It's bad form to point out what people who are now dead or wounded should have done because invariably someone is going to charge that they are being blamed for what happened to them. Let's be clear. This is one person's fault and one person's fault only.

But no one is helpless.

My family has been studying martial arts for the last two years and I'm well aware of just how little that means *physically*. Mentally is something else. No one with sense would bring a karate chop to a gun fight. The mindset of self-defense, on the other hand, (and the first principle is "run away") is vital. Take action. If you can't run, Fight back.

As we're hearing about this, it seems that any time someone *did* something, they saved lives.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Why do people Love Conspiracy Theory, Part 2.

Here's a wonderful read about conspiracy, h/t to Michelle Malkin who titles her link "It's all Leonard Nimoy's fault."

I recommend everyone read the post at Eject, Eject, Eject. I'm looking forward to the promised post about Global Warming.

Bill Whittle talks about the emotional need people have to believe. I've said similar things.

He rags on conspiracy in entertainment quite a bit, and I suppose he's got a point. And a good point about Leonard Nimoy (or the show he hosted, at any rate). Didn't Commander Riker do a similar show? All the ghost and paranormal and whatnot shows really do teach us not to think critically. In fact, they are the one sure fire "content censorship" in this house. Sex or violence don't come close.

On the other hand, stuff like the X-files is fun.

Still, I have to admit that the *reason* I believe shows like the X-files are so popular is because they tickle the exact same parts of our brains as conspiracy theory.

Where are the pieces of the airplanes?

The lack of plane parts is a common enough Truther contention...

Watch this.

h/t to Eject, Eject, Eject.

via Michelle Malkin.

Seriously, watch the video. It's amazing. And consider that the aircraft used is probably the densest brick-like object ever to be regularly gotten airborne.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gore bans reporters...

h/t to Tim Blair. Gore is speaking in Saskatchewan to raise awareness of global warming.

But he doesn't want reporters to record his speech.

During question period, the Saskatchewan Party asked how residents who can't attend the speech in Regina later this month will hear Gore's message when there are media restrictions on the event.

Gore's contract bans reporters from recording audio or shooting video.

Maybe it’s about him wanting to control the distribution so he can profit from it or maybe it’s about him wanting to control the message.

I would scoff and joke about it but I’m suddenly not the least bit amused. Pelosi refuses to meet with president Bush. The Dem presidential candidates are refusing to debate on FOX. Gore doesn’t want his speeches recorded by potential unfriendlies. And I’m reminded of our last local election cycle where people had to sneak personal recording devices into speeches or debates because the Dem candidates refused to allow themselves to be recorded. And that was at the few debates that happened. Democrat candidates refused debates over and over. I don’t think there was a even single debate between candidates for some of the offices.

And it’s working. And I look around and the same strategy is being employed, no cameras, no recordings, or else no meetings at all.

It’s not funny. It’s frightening, and mostly because the tactic is downright *lauded* by the Democratic base.

Probably it will backfire if the media is pushed too far. I’m an optimistic person and I try to tell myself that this will certainly happen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

J. L. Kirk & Associates

I want to add my two cents in the name of public service.

The way not to get scammed is to have information.

Bob Krumm says this:

BTW, never, under any circumstances*, ever pay a headhunter or a job placement firm to find you a job.

He adds a disclaimer:
(*Okay, not “any circumstances” but those circumstances apply to so few people that you know if you’re at a level and in a field where you need an agent.)

I think that leaves a bit too much wiggle room. Better just to say that it applies to so few people that it is *NOT* you.

Publishing is known for this kind of scam. The thing to remember is that a reputable literary agent or publisher makes money by selling your work. If they want money up front for representing you it means that they don't have to sell anything at all. It's a huge HUGE red light. This is not an acceptable practice in the industry.

The problem is that most people don't know anything about what standard practices are in publishing or with agents, and they might not know what is normal with employment firms.

Employment firms make their money by finding you a job.

Instapundit links to posts about the J. L. Kirk & Associates monkey business that brought this up just now.

This goes to a blog response claimed to be by the women who conducted the interview, claiming to represent J.L. Kirk & Associates business practices. They got a law firm to send a letter to bully Katherine Coble into taking it down.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What global warming consensus?

h/t to Instapundit who links this interview with Freeman Dyson.

Dr. Dyson is promoting his book, _The Scientist as Rebel_.

I didn't know that much about him other than that he's a well known name in Physics, has the same name as my husband, and has the "Dyson Sphere" named for him.

Now I know that he is optimistic, believes that life spreading out into the galaxy is a good thing, and that he is a "global warming heretic."

The interviewer quotes him:
Benny Peiser: In the first chapter of your new book, "The Scientist as Rebel," you write that the common element of the scientific vision "is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture," and that scientists "should be artists and rebels, obeying their own instincts rather than social demands or philosophical principles."

This is compared to the present "consensus" trend in science.

About global warming, Dyson says:
I am always happy to be in the minority.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Blogging Code of Conduct... stuff

Everyone seems to be talking about it today.

I made this comment on Ann Althouse's blog where commentators (Oh gross... the spell check wouldn't take "commentors",) seem to be coming down strongly on the side of "Code? I don't need no stinkin' code!"
"There does seem to be blogging community standards, just not on language or insult. Sock puppetry is soundly denounced. Changing posts without making a note of it is soundly denounced.

Interesting that those two things are trivially easy to do on blogs."

Come to think of it... that should have been, "There *do* seem to be blogging..." Humph. Grammar? I don't need no stinking grammar!

Anywho... the fact that sock-puppets and changing posts is easy to do may be *why* there is a general agreement that it's unacceptable.

I'm reminded of reading Westerns where a person's reputation and word, the prohibition on lying or allowing someone to call you a liar unchallenged, are assumed. It was vitally necessary in a situation where people might make a contract verbally with a handshake for good measure.

And I just thought of another similarity... anonymity. Read a Western and what is described is a place where people could and did reinvent themselves, refuse to identify themselves, yet would not lie.

To the extent that genre Western fiction represents something that was real as a concept (I'm sure people *did* lie) it's interesting to see the parallels with this new Wild Wild West. Not very refined are we, with a whole lot of shooting from the hip going on, but to say there isn't standards isn't true.

What's more, the standards that exist are genuine and organic because they have developed as the result of people rubbing against each other.

(And do I really have to say that criminal behavior, death threats or stalking, are wrong? But that's not a voluntary code of conduct, it's against the law.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Why do people love Conspiracy Theory?

This is what I said in the comments at Ann Althouse's blog about conspiracy nuts:

I think it's a disorder. I really do. I think that conspiracy theories work like a drug in the brain. I think they take our natural functions of pattern recognition and puzzle solving, the very things that make us *sentient* and pervert them to a significant pleasure response at being the one who sees the truth, who figured out the puzzle, who saw the patterns.

This is what I said last week in a comment on Blackfive.

I think conspiracy is like a drug. Or even *is* a drug. I think it does drug-like things to our brains. It tickles the puzzle solving spots and the pattern recognition spots with the added benny of giving people a distinct feeling of superiority to have special knowledge that other people don't.

Both were in response to discussions about Rosie though I've also previously posted about 9-11 conspiracy theorists here.