Just read it.

Synthetic biology.

More when the next carnival comes out.


Hamas and Fatah: Dead Men Walking

Hamas and Fatah believe that it can take over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority. They may be right. Certainly the PA, living as it has under the tutelage of terrorists from abroad such as Arafat, has shown that it wishes to do little for the Palestinian people.(fn1) If these groups, with their significant international funding, is able to do so, it stands a good chance of seizing control from Abbas.

They stand no chance, however, of leveraging the Israeli forced-withdrawal into lasting victory against Ariel Sharon. Consider the picture at right. The Gaza strip is tiny, and of marginal strategic significance vis-a-vis Israeli survival.(fn2)

That the Gaza withdrawal will somehow enable Hamas to defeat Abbas in the West Bank, which is by far the greater threat to Israeli security, is simply wishful thinking. Should the Israelis build the same sort of security cordon(fn3) around the Strip, it will no longer matter whether the Palestinians smuggle explosives in from Egypt for bombings. There will simply be no convenient land route by which Hamas could possibly leverage a tiny slat of beachline into a means by which to hit Israeli towns. Rocket attacks are still an issue, but one that can be handled by back-azimuth radar tracking, and specific attacks to hit rocket squads while they’re still moving to cover.

Israeli security concerns are predicated primarily on stopping suicide bombings. It’s hard to hold society together when you’re busy cleaning your mothers and daughters off the wall with a hose. The security cordon solves that problem handily, making infiltration vastly more difficult. By staking Israeli peace on geography, rather than demographics, Sharon has created a situation where separation becomes an actual possibility. Israel benefitted for years from relatively cheap Palestinian labor, and suffered shocks to its economy due to security shutdowns during the Intifada. The Palestinians, on the other hand, also suffered due to not being able to go to work. This, of course, played directly into Arafat’s hands, since he became one of the only purse-holders left in the region. What Hamas doesn’t seem to grok is that Sharon has fundamentally changed the nature of the game with this withdrawal. Geographic separation is a much more deadly political weapon against Hamas than any helicopter gunship. Up to now, Hamas, Fatah, and other anti-semitic terrorist organizations have profited mightily by blaming Palestinian poverty on the Israeli occupation. They have also profited from being able to point to victorious terror operations against the Israelis. The more they are forced to attempt attacks based on conventional warfare, the more those operations are going to fail.

But what happens, on the other hand, when Israelis are blamed for Palestinian poverty, but there’s not an Israeli in sight, or even over the next horizon? Hamas and Fatah are certainly not going to engage in the building of proper civic institutions and economic development: that would undercut their arms budget, and develop precisely the sort of societal strength that tends to get people like them strung up from streetlamps by otherwise quiet people who previously were too weak to take action. The first acts of any tyrannical force always includes breaking the economic backs of its victims and creating the dependence which the tyrant requires for its survival.

The moral equivalence theory which Fatah and Hamas require for their ongoing international political “air cover” is going to start ringing hollow when international groups decry Palestinian poverty, and the Israeli response is “what does this have to do with me?” Hamas’ fiscal support may loom large for a time in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank, Abbas will be able to point to feats of actual governance, rather than sick millenarian fantasies and bloodshed… and this will count for those who both want peace, and increasingly begin to obtain the freedom from desperate want to make their desires felt.

Hamas is a corpse sculpted from sand, and doesn’t recognize that what it regards as triumph, is actually the flipping of the hourglass on its existence.

(fn1) The PA is not exactly known for financial transparency, and infamously so under Arafat, who did not allow anyone besides himself to have a solid knowledge of Palestinian finances. With US aid alone having run somewhere between 80-100 million USD/yr, it’s quite clear that the PA could have delivered vastly superior infrastructure and basic services to its people had it chosen to do so.
(fn2) Yes, these are the terms under which it must be discussed. Though there are those who adhere to the “two scorpions in a bottle” theory, I have yet, for all of Israel’s numerous faults, heard any Israeli political party call for the worldwide extermination of all Arabs or Muslims. Hamas has degenerated quite a ways from when it could reasonably attempt to claim that it only engaged Israeli military forces.
(fn3) In the supercharged, eternally hyperbolic political rhetoric of the area, one may call it, on the one hand, a “security fence,” as do the Israelis, who overwhelmingly approve of it, or even the “apartheid wall” by those who, well, don’t. Either way, the barrier itself is impressive, and infiltration by Hamas’ murder squads will simply not be possible on a regular basis.

Carnival of the Optimists #18: Back in the game.

Rudy here is an old cat. As close as we can tell, he’s pushing or slightly past 17, and in very good health for his age, minus a recurring gastric problem, but is still, so far as indoor/outdoor cats go, older than dirt.

So when he disappeared unexpectedly at the beginning of the week, suspicion was that he’d gotten sick again and had hauled himself off somewhere to die.

Instead, what we got was his return in a day or so, limping and laying down in an obvious “I hurt I hurt I hurt” marathon of pseudo-sleep. We figured he’d been in a fight, seeing as there was a mark or two on him where he’d clearly bled.

Then later, taking careful stock of the nature and location of his injuries, it became quite apparent, that the old crafty orange-and-white hadn’t gotten mauled by the local young tom trying to establish a territory… but had instead had an up-close and personal encounter with the neighborhood’s young raccoon. Given that said coon weighs probably twenty pounds and has opposable thumbs, and Rudy weighs eight soaking wet and is now too stiff and slow to bag squirrels every day like he used to, we’re impressed.

What we’re more impressed by is the fact that after a day of licking his wounds, he’s outside looking for some bugs to swat, and will undoubtedly come yowling back to the house in about an hour to tell us all about it. Who says you can’t learn from a critter with a brain the size of a walnut?

Welcome, to the Carnival of the Optimists.

Good News

Kevin at Technogypsy would like to gloat: Robin Hood is a verb!

Big Picture Guy at Big Picture Small Office gives a taste of how he keeps the faith, in far from the madding crowd. (Somewhere between Good News and Bootstrap)

Harvey at Bad Example really likes a lingerie ad, particularly ones that use typical women, rather than brutally-starved supermodels. Hrm… safe for work, but… unrepentant masculinity warning? How do you phrase that?


Fred Fry International has a problem: he doesn’t like buying products from other countries. He knows folks who don’t like manufacturing going overseas, too. But unlike those people, he does something about it: going through the effort of checking the label. And no economic-theory debates here, folks: we need more folks who get off their tails and take steps to solve problems, rather than just grousing about it. Kudos, Fred-Fry.

Steve Pavlina has a post up about getting organized. As usual, he ties it to a coherent, simple idea that makes sense…


Just too cool. Yet another buried story about progress that’s under the radar, but has theoretical ramificaitons that could change our world… how’d you like to be able to regrow the thymus in adults, and in the process, drop-kick the immune system back into gear? Right now, it has promising applications for those suffering from cancer and AIDS. Later, this alone might significantly boost both lifespans and quality of life for everybody.

And that’s certainly worth applauding.

Thanks for reading, folks. Keep ’em coming, and see you next week!

Avian Flu pandemic likelihood: 100%?

From the Asian Times.

Still plenty of time to sell your Tyson stock.

Experimental archaeology: the value of dictionaries.

I could beat myself with a stick.

Well, I finally figured out what it was that the Cumans would have been using for their leather armor… turned out I was simply barking up the wrong tree with my vocabulary.

~”they make farsetti of cordovano ….[in four layers]…. and these are good for fighting in blah blah blah”

So sayeth Matteo Villani in his Cronica Nuova (highly abridged Armour Archive translation, 2005, year of the barking moonbat).

Well, hello, dumbass… modern cordovan is uberquality veg-tanned horsehide… medieval cordovan is tawed leather… likely of horsehide, but could be any number of things… which handily explains the following issues:

Q. Why does Villani use a term from clothing instead of a term from armor, you know, “breastplate” or something?
A: Because it’s not cuir boilli, and so basically resembles nothing that the southern or western Europeans use for armor: it’s just tough as old boots, quadruply so in this instance. So it’s not an armored vest (a.k.a breastplate), it’s a very protective doublet (a.k.a. multilayered leather caftan).

Q: If this is some kind of leather armor, why do the period images seem to show regular old flexible clothing or leather as their caftan?
A: Because tawed leather is as stiff or flexible as its maker wants it to be, that’s why…

Q: Why is it made of lots of layers?
A: Because it’s not tanned leather, and therefore doesn’t harden the same way cuir boilli hardens. If it’s glued together, the glue boundaries help resist damage via the Strong Effect, and otherwise, it slows a projectile down to where it then doesn’t have the energy to defeat the underlying mail shirt, which is as fine as 15th-century glove links.
A2: Plus, it keeps the inner layers less likely to absorb moisture and de-taw as the alum salts wash out if it happens to be rainy, especially if they were curried before assembly.

There’s more. There’s lots more, from all the primary sources. And it all falls right into place. Oh, how I could beat myself silly by means of a stick with a nail through it.

Well, that’s why we call it research, boys and girls. Eventually, you stumble onto the right answer…

Huntington, vindicated.

Whose vision best describes the current world?

With revisions, one would now have to say that Huntington has won. Let’s look at the evidence.

1. Moderate Islam. Post-9/11 and Post-7/7, the voice of moderate Islam is finally being heard (fn1). And what is moderate Islam saying? It’s saying that Church and State are really different things. In other words, moderate muslims are saying that it’s good to live within western civilisation… while the home-grown islamist thugs are living in western society, and coming to the conclusion that said entire civilisation needs to be splotted.

2. Geopolitics: Palmer’s movement is fracturing. Palmer (The Real Axis of Evil) is certainly correct (from the perspective of yours truly, small-l libertarian in the west) that we should do everything we can to stomp on tyranny. But as time has passed, one sees more and more that what happens after that is explicitly culturally based. The Orange and Rose and even Tulip revolutions have gone off just fine, as did the revolutions in the Balkans… because we’re seeing over time that the Orthodox civilization and the Catholic/Post-Catholic civilization have little in the way of incompatibility. Indeed, Poland coming out to bat for the average Belorussian has much to say in this regard. However, the other side of the coin also holds true. In regions where more than one civilization’s ideas are represented, it’s not so smooth. Iraq and Egypt both have protestors who clamor for Western freedoms, and similar groups of protestors for whom the phrase “Church and State” is a complete redundancy. Palmer’s vision of “freedom from” is clear and obvious to all: Palmer’s vision of “freedom for” is readily absorbed into Huntington’s vision.

Which, oddly enough, doesn’t necessarily cast Huntington as a vindicator of the realpolitik school.
What Huntington missed, was that he got his factions wrong. And in doing so, he documented but misunderstood a key feature of “The West.”

The New Civilisational Players:

The Strongmen
The Anglosphere
The Statist West
The Islamists

There’s really not a lot of further options involved here in terms of real political players. Certainly Confucian civil society has failed to assert itself in any pronounced way under the PLA. And “Latin America” seems to be less a unified cultural theory or “political culture,” than a heritage, currently bitterly contested between the Strongmen (local and Chinese) and the West.

The Strongmen: Politically speaking, one can see, as Palmer suggests, a worldwide alliance of dictators, regardless of whatever surface ideology is used for domestic support. Ideologically, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has nothing in common with the strongmen in Cuba or Venezuela, let alone the Sudan. But they’re more than willing to do whatever it takes to prop each other up in the face of the West, and the PLA is perfectly happy to prop up anybody anywhere, no matter how blood-soaked, who will give it politically-unquestioned access to raw materials.

The Anglosphere: It turns out that the British Empire left a lasting legacy. Much of what we call libertarian or “classical liberal” ideas come from a framework of laws and attitudes towards the rule of law that essentially boil up out of Common Law and reactions to it. Therefore, while India point-blank refuses to carry our water in any US-China friction (and rightfully so), it turns out that culturally, there’s so much common ground that a strong strategic relationship is inevitable, and good for both parties involved. This has been written about elsewhere recently, notably in The Anglosphere Challenge, which I haven’t read (waiting for it to hit my local library, but I’ll take a review copy if somebody has a dozen available on his shelf) and therefore won’t get into.

The Statist West: Oddly enough, Britain is the state most likely to leave the Anglosphere and become something else, as it more and more accepts Continental European ways of doing things. Culturally speaking, civilizationally speaking, there’s not much separating the Secular West and the Anglosphere. The similarities vastly outweight the differences: take politics out of it, and the differences are so tiny as to be meaningless. Primarily the differences are that leftism in general are taken for granted as the political mainstream, (fn3) and that Continental Europe is almost entirely secular, with only Islam as a growing religion, as opposed. The Statist West has a problem, though, insofar as they would love to wield political power separate from the Anglosphere… but their top-down, centralized, often openly leftist policies have left them simply too weak economically to do anything in the face of opposition. Put bluntly, the Statis West has no muscle to flex, as can rapidly be seen in the decline of Canada from global player to complete irrelevance. Politically, this means that NATO is frequently compromised by what amounts to a brother-sister squabble between its various members, and a wholly-justified sense that some of its member governments are simply not reliable partners. Cooperation between the Statist West (which also tends to be somewhat squishy on individual rights) and the Anglosphere is by no means guaranteed.(fn3)

The Islamists: When leftists or anti-religious bigots in America want to really demonize somebody who’s religious, they characterize them as being the equivalent to the militant Islamists, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong in their quest for a civilization based on the strictest and most misogynistic interpretation possible of Salafi Islam. Huntington is absolutely correct to point out that Islam seems to be incapable of being at peace with its neighbors — as yet another murderous Islamist insurrection, this time in Thailand, seems to bear out. The current track record of militant Islamism, which seems to openly rejoice in the outright brutal murder of the innocent, whether they are men, women, or little children, justifies an interpretation that says that “militant” doesn’t simply mean “interested,” and that its proponents are simply uninterested in any of the civilized behavior that the rest of the world takes for granted. To some extent, one can posit Turkey and Pakistan as teetering between West and Islamism (fn5) in general outlook. A state with Islamic culture enshrined in its laws is no threat: Islam is not a political player any more than Methodism is… it is the political culture of militant Islamism that is the player. So far, the west has been pretty good about appreciatng the difference, much to Al Quaeda’s disappointment.

On the other hand, how does one explain the cooperation of Kifaya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? It si simply another case of the western-influenced sheep cooperating with the wolf to get rid of the lion, at which it is inevitably to become the next course for dinner?
Maybe… maybe not. But the mere existence of Kifaya, and many other reform movemnts, suggests that Huntington missed the boat on one crucial aspect of understanding the West at large (Statist and Anglosphere) . The West is both different, and universalist in outlook. Huntington suggests that this universalism is inherent to westerners’ conflicts, and should be canned in favor of open particularism… the suggestion that the West is completely different. What Huntington misses is that the West, Anglo or Statist, has become influential far out of proportion to its otherwise culturally-set boundaries, precisely because its civilization works so well economically and militarily. The Anglosphere doesn’t need to occupy other places in order to wield economic power… unlike the strongmen, they don’t need to engage in mercantilist economics, because capitalist economics is more efficient, and much better at making the other half of the economic equation rich, to boot… at which point, they start to think a lot like we do. Huntington’s theory has completely failed to accurately predict Japan’s response to a resurgent China, because it has missed the extent to which Western universalism creates an atmosphere in which cultural assimilation on the econopolitical level can be nearly taken for granted after long exposure. It would be insulting to the Japanese to say that they’ve assimilated into Western culture… but it is highly accurate to say that they’ve kept up quite a bit of it economically and politically, long after they could have chosen to discard it.

The ramifications here are quite clear:

1. Realpolitik is alive as a tool but dead as a general thesis, because strongmen don’t behave the way “they’re supposed to.” Learning this has cost the West tremendously during the Cold War, and continues to be a serious problem now, both for America’s prestige, and in the memory of states such as Iran.
2. Similarly, the fact that Islamists seem to ache for a chance to murder non-Muslims across the globe suggests that isolationism continues to be a non-starter. Saving thousands of lives in the great Tsunami has not stopped Islamists from protesting our existence in Malaysia, and as the “Islamist butchery of the week” in Thailand suggests, it’s only going to keep expanding until it’s forcefully beaten.
3. Cultures and civilizations are like a salad bar: they really can pick up the parts that are useful to them, and gradually discard the rest. The PLA are not Confucians, and Al Quaeda is dependent upon Western rhetoric and intellectual capital for its own revolutionary ideals and propaganda.

Does subsuming Palmer’s thesis into a slightly modified Huntington thesis constitute an endorsement of “neoconservative” policy? I don’t think it does, or at least not directly. It certainly endorses smacking the hell out of militant Islamism for as long as it takes for their attitudes to change, or them to die. And this might involve us going to war in both Syria and Iran, because both are exporting well-equipped, well-financed, well-organized murderers on a daily basis. On the other hand, globally, it seems that our greatest weapons are a combination of basic security guarantees — for example, Taiwan — and the greatest spread of free trade and its close facsimiles possible. If one were to make politics a game of Civilization (Sid Meier’s Benthamite cultural simulation game), free trade could be considered to be the geopolitical equivalent of several divisions worth of occupying troops. No wonder Pyonyang can’t stand it.

What prescriptions does it endorse?

1. Defeat Islamic extremism.
2. Guarantee military stability and cooperation whenever reasonably possible.
3. Do not engage in realpolitik deals with strongmen and tyrants: conversely, support freedom movements both on their own merits, and because they’re in our geopolitical interests.
4. Spread free trade, and do not use economic sanctions except where specifically required to keep military technology out of the hands of potential aggressors.

(as a side note, if anybody can tell me how to hardcode a footnote in Blogger, I’d greatly appreciate it.)
1. No counting CAIR, which says one thing to the dhimmi and another to the “faithful.”
2. 3 schools of geopolitical thought: realpolitik, neoconservatism, isolationism. #3 is an unmitigated failure, #1 is a horror in its own right, and #2 is hotly debated. The standard libertarian position is to push the return to isolationism coupled with free trade — effectively abandoning our treaty partners to twist in the wind. Most Americans would like nothing more than to tell the rest of the world to solve its own problems, except that they know that the results would be a global bloodbath.
3. Catholic fundamentalists in Germany who are regarded as a mere twitch away from Al Quaeda status actually hold positions not that far away removed from the Democratic Party, barring gay issues on which the Democratic leaders differ only rhetorically from the Republican party, and actually use “outing” politicians as a political weapon.
4. Realize, of course, that we’re painting with broad brushes here. Where does Poland sit in this politically, for instance, vis-a-vis France?
5. Not because they’re Europeans (some Turks are, some aren’t), or westerners in terms of culture, but because the two nations are divided in terms of political culture between the two of them. This is not meant to be a chauvinist view of the rest of the globe by any stretch, but one must realize the extent to which western political philosophy has fundamentally either dictated the rules of the game or fueled local reactions against it (ironically, often dependent upon it intellectually, such as Baathism or other forms of Islamofascism) for the past hundred years.
— unattached musing. Political cultures representing “Church != State, Church of the State, Church as State, and finally Thugocracy?”

Kissinger speaks up.

Lessons for an exit strategy.”

You don’t have to agree with Kissinger. But if you’re serious, you do have to read and carefully consider his points. Kissinger’s handling of Vietnam may have earned him lifelong enemies among the ’68ers, but by doing so he showed the Russians that we were serious enough that sending tanks to the Saudi oilfields was going to be a non-starter. In short, the guy has played the game at a level most of us will never have to even consider.

UPDATE: Link Fixed.

Farting wetlands will doom us all…

or, so says The Guardian, concerning siberian permafrost that’s about to be perma-bassfishing country. Apparently all these old peat bogs have… well, peat in them, and they contain methane, and now we’ll all die.

Silly Guardian, we’re not going to die of global warming and its tipping points. We’re going to keel over from Bird Flu at the local El Pollo Loco…. get your hysteria straight, mon!

EU to Iran: You have three weeks to stop producing nukes, or we’ll pout at you.

You’d think these theoretically-sophisticated people would get it: diplomacy is an extension of power politics. I care what the EU thinks, because I’m a nice guy. Dictators and uranium-producing terror sponsors, on the other hand, want to know how many divisions you have.

This is getting interesting, though. We’ve caught them shipping bombs. One of their militia groups has staged a municipal coup. Their president openly brags about how many suicide bombers he has… sounds an awful lot like “asymmetric warfare” to lil’ ol’ me…

You think we’re moving an armored division from German to Fort Bliss so we have it free to slap these guys silly once they cross the line? You want to bet the collective EU ministers will cry like children presented with the wrong flavor of ice cream when we do? You want to bet anybody with an actual stake in the game will care?

Useful Idiot collects her fifteen minutes of fame

Just in case you’ve missed it, let’s all have a moment of silence for this poor benighted woman, who decided to milk the loss of her (clearly morally superior) son as an excuse to engage in politically correct hoo-ha outside the President’s ranch. Makes me wonder who raised the boy to have enough morals to step up and lay it on the line as a soldier. Sure wan’t this woman, who’s been reading from the “Gore really won” playbook since the publicity started… and trying to milk her son’s death to score cheap political points.

When will these asshats learn that as soon as they’re no longer useful, the media will drop them like a hot rock? And shiv them in the kidney if that helps their bottom line?

Fortunately, what they haven’t learned is that politically b.s. like this drives their own poll numbers down like a balloon tied to an anvil, since most thinking Americans are able to do the moral math when it comes to “posturing for peace” versus taking out tyrants and splutching asshat baby-killing religious freaks.

Just in case anybody wonders why “New York” is a pejorative term…

NYC is now planning to try to ban trans-fats in its restaurants… “you don’t want to tell people what they can’t eat,” says one waitress.

Well, guess what, Virginia? Yes they do….

Let’s face it. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is crap, an industrial-age manufactured food substitute. But then again, last time I checked, fruit juice containing 80% corn syrup is crap, too, and all sorts of folks enjoy drinking that. Many of those people will probably outlive me.

But it’s so much easier to worry about what people are eating than trying to solve some of the City’s real problems, like unsafe nightmare schools, and a rent-control-fueled housing situation, that in the words of the Wall Street Journal last year, makes it “economically irrational” for a member of the middle class to try to have a career and retire there.

Nevertheless, I’m sure the next transplanted New Yorker I bump into down here in Texas will somehow try to convince me that he’s somehow more sophisticated than all his fellow economic refugees from tax-ridden, corrupt “opportunity-free zones” such as Lagos, Addis Ababa, and the State of California…

UPDATE: Yes, I’m aware that there are really cool folks upstate. man, do I feel sorry for you guys. Maybe you could, I don’t know… engineer a political coup or something in the State House?

Carnival of the Optimists #17: Going for the win.

Just celebrated my fifth anniversary this weekend. It was dicey, because I was down and out with the “not-the-flu-but-close from Planet Fever” the night before I had to leave, and not fully recovered until late yesterday. But we went anyway, albeit with me really pacing myself. Life is like that, you know. All the really cool stuff requires you to damn the torpedoes, go for the win, …and pace yourself, just like Billy Joel says.

Welcome, to the Carnival of the Optimists.

Good News

At Technogypsy, the badger is back! (Having gone scouting and survived Death Camp 2005…). GREAT shot of the Washington monument by the Badgie… and in spite of seeing some bad things, he’s up for more. Check it out.

At Wayne’s World, Wayne’s Mom demonstrates that Vietnam’s over and buried. Those who put it on the line for the rest of us are finally starting to be openly given the expressions of gratitude they deserve, as this story at DFW airport illustrates.


Read this article. Steve Pavlina has hit it out of the park with “Life Lessons from Blackjack.” It’s not what you think. It’s better. This is the best I’ve seen from a long line of good posts out of Steve, and the sort of thing that ought to be stuck under every teenager’s nose, right about the time they have to start making decisions for themselves.

Harvey at Bad Example posits the importance of taking out the emotinal garbage in “and a **really** big broom.” Hoo boy. Good advice.


Tired of having to take medicines, and then suffer through the unwanted effects as the body deals with the medicinal equivalent of carpet bombing? Then this little breakthrough just might be for you. It’s precisely the sort of thing upon which progress rests… a relatively small but important discovery, with a number of open-ended applications. Like helping us all to hang around just a wee bit longer.

That’s all for this week, folks. Keep them coming, and we’ll catch you next Wednesday.

That’s great, it starts with a sick drake…

Lenny Bruce may not be afraid, but the CDC continues to quake in its boots.

Oddly, I don’t think there’s been a single mention of how the current rapid spread of H5N1 is due to affect the Arkansas economy… talk about timing your market shorts…

Unmitigated Geekery

Anybody want to buy a full suit of body armor? Guaranteed not proof against modern munitions…

Am making and will sell two sets of lamellar armor in order to finance the production of some very, very specialized leather. Part and parcel of this is that my next research project is on, just as soon as I can muster the fundage for the testing.

Armor vs. Weapons System: the “heaviness” of heavy cavalry in the Crusading Kingdoms.

Much as I dealt with in my most recent paper (awaiting the return of the editors from their summer break, theoretically to be published in a year or so), medieval military historians, being primarily linguists and text-based researchers, tend to focus on one element of a given weapons system to the exclusion of other considerations. Thus, at Crecy, historians tend to focus on the longbow primarily in terms of either rate of fire, or maximum poundage, without considering that the bow is an analog-power weapon, not a digital/binary one, in contrast to the crossbow, which must be drawn to its maximum force (as strung) in order to be loaded and fired. Similarly, historians tend to depict the Genoese as “crossbowmen,” while giving short shrift to the large shield which was very much an inherent part of their weapons system.

As soon as I have gotten the leathers made, I will build on my previous study of archery and mail, to conduct another archery penetration test in order to determine the relative effectiveness of various sorts of soft armors, and then compare the tactical methods to the totality of the weapons systems involving Norman and western men at arms, and two of their more dangerous opponents in the field, the Cuman and Seljuk “light cavalry” horse archer. The conceit of weapons system as a combination of “equipment strategy” plus “tactical method” should provide a way to discuss the differences in cavalry much more meaningfully than simply marking them as “heavy” or “light.”

This would make a hell of a fun dissertation. I wonder who I might be able to sell it to locally?

Wow. Apparently I’ve been banned…

… and it wasn’t on a political site, either. Pity that, since I wrote up a thoughtful reply to a meaningful question posed on said blog. Well, THAT was a waste of fifteen minutes… banned? I thought that was what teenagers running bbs systems did to each other when they were playing the clique.

How sad. How… predictable.

In other news, the Bunny comes back from traveling this evening, and it looks like I’ll even be healthy enough to appreciate it. I haven’t unpacked my bag, nor opened a single bill (though I *will* have the dishes done when she arrives), on the grounds that, dammit, my anniversary isn’t over until BOTH my wife and I get back to the house…. go us!

Means I’ll at least get to divide up the laser-like focus of two furry aminals that REALLY want attention after our absence, too…

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