Richard Feynman, John Wheeler and an alternative reality for the Atom Bomb

There is an interesting story about two physicists who participated in the “Manhattan Project” – the project that produced the atom bombs that blew up Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Richard Feynman and John Wheeler were radical thinkers as far as science went, and were good friends who collaborated on research at Princeton. But their reaction to the bomb was quite different.

The following comes from the book “The Quantum Labyrinth” by Paul Halpern:

Feynman felt a lot of guilt:

One afternoon, Feynman was meeting his mom for lunch in New York City, when a wave of depression came over him unexpectedly. Observing the street life around him—all the businessmen, tourists, and others roaming the skyscraper canyons of the city—he mentally calculated how many blocks an atomic bomb would decimate. He thought about the feasibility of making destructive nuclear weapons and trembled at the possibility that Manhattan could end up like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Suddenly he realized the extent of the horror that he and his colleagues at Los Alamos had unleashed. There was no hope for the world, he concluded. Everything was futile.
As a human, not an elementary particle, like a positron, or an advanced wave, Feynman knew that he couldn’t go back in time and change history. Rather, he would learn an important lesson from his mistake. He had erred in assuming that the initial mission of the Manhattan Project—to prevent the Nazis from developing the bomb and gaining a monopoly on its use—justified its completion. On realizing that the Nazis had made no progress, he and others should have opted out. The world would have been better off without the sword of Damocles of nuclear war hanging over it.

Wheeler, on the other hand, was guilty he hadn’t made the bomb sooner!

Though much less vocal and militant about his decision than Teller, Wheeler would surprisingly follow a similarly pro-nuclear path. He would continue his weapons research up until 1953, becoming an important contributor to and advocate of H-bomb development.
Why would Wheeler, a quiet, peaceful disciple of internationalists Bohr and Einstein, pursue such a hawkish course? A tragedy— the battlefield death of his younger brother Joe, only thirty at the time—may have steered him toward supporting more nuclear weapons research and development.
Joe was a talented young historian who had received his PhD from Brown University. With a promising career ahead of him, he enlisted as a private first class in the US Army. Fighting Germans in Italy, he found himself in the thick of battle. Sometime in 1944, he sent John a postcard with a simple but powerful message: “Hurry up!”
In hindsight, Wheeler surmised that his brother, who knew about his fission research, suspected that he was developing a superweapon with the potential to end the war. While the Allies had Hitler in their crosshairs, a powerful show of force would help speed his defeat along.
Tragically, shortly after Joe sent the card, he went missing in action; his decomposed body wasn’t found until 1946. When John and his family learned the bitter truth, the loss was devastating.
From that point on, thinking over and over again about his brother’s message, Wheeler became obsessed with an alternative history in which he had never put aside his fission research. In the parallel, early 1940s of his imagination, rather than switching gears and focusing exclusively on his electrodynamics work with Feynman (along with his teaching and other duties), he would push strongly for the development of nuclear weapons. Lending his considerable research and organizational skills to an expedited Manhattan Project, he’d make sure that the Roosevelt administration devoted enough manpower and resources to the mission. By the time the United States entered the war, the bomb would already be well under development. If it were ready by mid-1944, Wheeler envisioned, perhaps Nazi Germany would surrender one year earlier, sparing millions of lives—including numerous soldiers and civilians caught up in the final stages of the conflict and a large portion of those murdered in the Holocaust.

“I am convinced that the United States, with the help of its British and Canadian allies, could have had an atomic bomb sooner…if scientific and political leaders had committed themselves to the task earlier,” Wheeler later wrote in his memoirs. “One cannot escape the conclusion that an atomic bomb program started a year earlier and concluded a year sooner would have spared 15 million lives, my brother Joe’s among them.”
Decades after his brother’s death, Wheeler would mention, in public talks about the era, his guilt over not pushing earlier and harder to develop the atomic bomb. Tears would well up in his eyes, as he described what could have been if the Allies had defeated the Nazis sooner and his brother were still alive. Once again, those heartbreaking two words: “What if?”

nibbelink-fig-1
One response to the power of nuclear weapons was to make the technology public. This was advocated by Neils Bohr, who along with Einstein and some other physicists, became supporters of arms control groups.

According to Angelo Codevilla, a similar attitude exists today to missile defense, perhaps since some people think an effective defense would make nuclear war more likely. (At least, that’s how I understand this quote from a recent article of his titled “What Will It Take to Get Serious About Missile Defense?”)

U.S. policy continues to be one of not having missile defense—the public’s support for it notwithstanding—the government’s response to its programs’ failure is to pour more money into them. Since the 1960s, the government and elite opinion have obfuscated that policy by pretending that technology is lacking….Washington’s response to North Korea’s missiles has been typical: throw words and money at the problem. Everybody, it seems, has nice words for missile defense. But because few know or bother to learn the details, interest group logic ensures that the same people who have kept America vulnerable are continuing to do so.

I’ll throw in my two cents here: the atom bomb was first dropped on cities, with the knowledge that many civilians would die. It is no wonder that it has created such a strong negative response. However, not defending with ABMs against countries that could wipe out OUR civilians is not moral. Feynman imagined what could happen to Manhattan, and it still can happen.

A reader of this blog argued that Hiroshima set a precedent that we are still paying for, but personally, I believe recent bombings with no regard for civilians (such as happened in Syria) would have happened anyway. The world is full of merciless people, especially when their back is against the wall, as was the case of the rulers of Syria. (Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 331,765 and 475,000). There are about 5 million Syrian refugees who have fled Syria, and I doubt that they will become a fashionable cause on campus like the Palestinians have been though if you compare numbers, they are more than 5 times the population of the original Palestinian refugees.

As far as the American atom bomb, I read one soldier’s opinion. He later recounted how relieved he was that the war was over, and that his life would not end on some god-forsaken Pacific island fighting a determined enemy who would fight to the  very end.

Sources:
The Quantum Labyrinth – Paul Halpern (2017)
https://amgreatness.com/2017/12/01/what-will-it-take-to-get-serious-about-missile-defense/

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My life as a sexual predator (I mean prey)

When I heard about film producer Harvey Weinstein’s various sexual displays and assaults on women, it came as a surprise. I was also dismayed that he was Jewish.
.I was unaware of the trade of favors or promotions by powerful men to underlings in industries for sex.
My parents and brother though did know some of this. My mother knew about early studio moguls Harry Cohn and Darryl Zanuck (Harry was Jewish, Darryl was not) and their preying on starlets, and my younger brother, who had tried to write sitcoms for Hollywood, said he was told by a friend that Hollywood was a like a ‘high school’. (it is an odd comparison,  my high school was quite moral).
My mother does not believe that fundamental changes will be made, she says maybe the predators will be a little more careful for a while, but that’s it.
Then we started hearing about more shenanigans – in the U.S. government, for example. Here if a politician is caught in sexual harassment, “if they are lucky, they get a secret settlement paid for by tax payers from the Treasury.”
Then it turns out that its not always as simple as predator and prey.
Angelo Codevilla tells you why:

First, the basics. During my eight years on the Senate staff, sex was a currency for renting rungs on ladders to power. Uninvolved and with a hygroscopic shoulder, I listened to accounts of the trade, in which some one-third of senators, male senior staff, and corresponding numbers of females seemed to be involved. I write “trade,” because not once did I hear of anyone forcing his attention. Given what seemed an endless supply of the willing, anyone who might feel compelled to do that would have been a loser otherwise unfit for survival in that demanding environment.

This, I wager, is not so different from others’ experiences in Washington. Senior female staffers were far more open than secretaries in describing their conquests of places up the ladder, especially of senators. …
Innocence was the one quality entirely absent on all sides.
In the basic bargain, the female proposes. The power holder has the prerogative to say “no,” or just to do nothing. By a lesser token, wealthy men need not offer cash to have female attention showered on them. Money is silver currency. Power is gold. A few, occasionally, get impatient and grab. But taking egregious behavior as the norm of the relationship between power and sex willfully disregards reality. Banish the grabbing, and the fundamental reality remains unchanged.

Despite this account I’m sure there are plenty of decent folk out there across the fruited plain, and even in Codevilla’s account, two thirds of the senate were not involved.

I’m a believer in incentives. Where moral inhibitions are missing, incentives might work. I just can’t think of any incentives here, apart from public shaming.

False accusations do happen. Take:

former California high school football star Brian Banks, who had spent five years in prison for raping his classmate Wanetta Gibson, was exonerated after Gibson contacted him to apologize and admitted making up the attack. In 2009, New Yorker William McCaffrey was released after serving four years of a 20-year prison sentence for a rape his friend Biurny Peguero had made up to explain her injuries from a fight with several women. In 2012 a Michigan man, James Grissom, was freed after nearly 10 years in prison when the woman who accused him, Sara Ylen, was caught making another false allegation (and faking cancer to bilk money from insurance companies and sympathetic donors).

And this leads to counterproductive incentives – because if a false sexual harassment claim is made (and this does happen), a company can have an expensive law-suit to settle.

My story involves being looked at as a sex-maniac (I was told I was one, at one point, by a total stranger) but arguably being at the receiving end since:

I was sexually assaulted in multiple ways, over an extended period.

There were ironies in the story, which I’ll try to bring out here. I’m going to use some graphic words here, and you maybe should quit this post at this point.

Last chance to quit…. 🙂

OK.

First, imagine a scenario where a somewhat demented Jewish teenager develops depression, complete with fatigue, freezing extremities, etc, and also an inability to exert willpower. He gets eating disorders, and masturbates a lot. He hates himself. But he doesn’t stop. Its horrible.
The behavior becomes so bad that in high school, he is called a “filthy Arab”, and even a teacher makes jokes about him “being on the ball”.
As I said, it was horrible.
But this was just a rehearsal for what was to come.
The Jewish teen was me, of course.
Oddly enough, my willpower did come on line in the last year of high school, in reaction to all the piggishness I responded by fasting (skipping lunch, and sometimes breakfast too), and my body and mind was changing for the better. The sexual behavior also stopped.
At this point I hoped for a job in my future, but certainly not matrimony or even dates. I wasn’t even really interested.
However, in graduate school a young woman with a pretty face seemed taken with my appearance, and I started dancing around in front of my mirror, making silly speeches that I thought of addressing to her (of course in reality I would not have dared, but my life was somewhat unreal).
It is true that men sometimes make monkeys of themselves over the opposite sex, but this was beyond embarrassing.
The woman made it clear eventually that I was Mr. Wrong, but I kept dancing in front of the mirror. I was admiring my own face in that mirror, which for some reason I thought had become incredibly good looking.
Yes, I know its painful.
Believe me, I know its painful.
But this was only the start of the fun.
A dorm-mate got wind of my behavior, and shot a film, unknownst to me, of some of it.

The movie went viral.

It spread over the continent.

It spread to other countries.

Remember Anthony Weiner, a politician and a co-religionist who sent pictures of his private parts over the internet?

Well the difference between him and me is that it was a merry crew of truth-tellers that spread my behavior all over the world. In his case, he had to do the work.

So at this point, you might think I would have concluded it was time to jump out a window.

I didn’t, and learned something really interesting about how the world works.

I caught the attention of a Mafia of some sort. This Mafia is equipped with drugs that affect behavior. The drugs include sex-drugs.

They got into my apartment. They used those drugs.

There is a huge amount of evidence (all subjective) for this being true, as opposed to my just having “feelings”.

But I won’t go into the evidence. In the last 24 years, nobody has asked me for evidence. In fact, nobody has told me that the movie exists in the past 37 years. Folks, if you can’t communicate, you don’t deserve the truth.

Back to the Mafia: I was also sexually assaulted physically by this bunch- but they drugged me first. This happened at least twice. One time involved real rape by a woman. (When I came back into consciousness, I had to clean up, but lets not get into the details).

What I’ve learned is this. If you have five ingredients
1. a movie (as I described) in your background
2. a fan-club (I had a sort of unofficial fan-club that believed positive things about me). This fan-club annoys the truth tellers…
3. a history of not even going on a date with a woman
4. a belief that you treated a woman badly, and should, for ideological and justice reasons “be kept down”
5. a belief that you are a racist who pretends to be friendly to minorities, but secretly despises them

then there will be this major effort to
1. frame you
2. sexually compromise you

and a bonus, rape you too.

It is food for thought. I doubt this Mafia would have attacked me if I had been just some corrupt politician, or Hollywood mogul, or even a participant in the so-called “hook-up” culture.

People are odd. Even Mafiosi are.

Not that I’m not embarrassed. Its really hard to be positive about yourself with all this in your background, but I tell myself that life is short, and the main victim of me has been me.
There is one disturbing corollary to my story. What if you want to destroy someone’s reputation? I’m claiming that powerful drugs that raise sex-drive exist, and are being used. One conceivable use would be on some politico that is in the way, or disliked. A month of dosing on this stuff, and who knows what behavior he’d be caught in.

Sources:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-casting-couch-perverts-who-peddled-fairy-tales
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2017/11/26/carly-fiorina-slams-the-politicization-of-sexual-assault-n2414278
http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2017/11/26/power-sex-and-politics-by-angelo-codevilla/
http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/09/false_rape_accusations_why_must_be_pretend_they_never_happen.html

Should the center hold?

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard, and he was interviewed in N.Y. recently by Chris Cuomo at the 92nd Street Y.
One point he made was this:

We live in dangerous times and extremism on both sides is equally dangerous. This is a Jewish venue; I have to tell you the Jews have historically been caught between the black and the red. The black of fascism and the red of Communism….Jews thrive at the center, America thrives at the center, Israel thrives at the center and decency thrives at the center.

Alan Dershowitz votes for Democrats (usually) but he says this:

There are too many college students today who think that the role of college is first to get drunk, to hook up, and then to become a radical member of the left and silence the opposition. That has to stop. We have to retrieve the educational system from the radicals and then I think we’ll have hope but beyond that I’m very very very concerned about our future 10 years from now!

 

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Alan Dershowitz

 

I understand Professor Dershowitz’s point of view, but I disagree that you can generally define truth as being at the center. It might be a rule of thumb, but its not always true.

For instance Dershowitz supports a Palestinian state as a solution to the fighting in the Middle East that involves Israel. This is a kind of centrist thinking. You have two peoples who claim a land, so why not divide it in half, maybe make the capital into an international city or divide that in half too, and justice will be served, and peace will reign.

That might work with a lot of default assumptions being true, but what happens when you start replacing those default assumptions with facts?

Hunter Stuart moved to Israel for over a year to do some free-lance reporting. He says this:

Before I moved to Jerusalem, I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was. I grew up Protestant in a quaint, politically correct New England town; almost everyone around me was liberal. And being liberal in America comes with a pantheon of beliefs: You support pluralism, tolerance and diversity. You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.
The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon.

But Mr. Stuart actually talked to Palestinians there, and found something out:

I spent close to six weeks visiting Nablus and Ramallah and Hebron, and even the Gaza Strip. I met some incredible people in these places; I saw generosity and hospitality unlike anywhere else I’ve ever traveled to. I’ll be friends with some of them for the rest of my life. But almost without fail, their views of the conflict and of Israel and of Jewish people in general was extremely disappointing.

First of all, even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100 percent of Israel … They simply will not be content with a two-state solution. What they want is to return to their ancestral homes in Ramle and Jaffa and Haifa and other places in 1948 Israel, within the Green Line. And they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back “their” land.

I know a lot of Jewish-Israelis who are willing to share the land with Muslim Palestinians, but for some reason finding a Palestinian who feels the same way was near impossible.

So Alan Dershowitz’s “centrist” solution would not work.

In general, certain assumptions have to be true for the “center” to be the right place to be. You have to ask first: “center of what?”

If the society as a whole moves in one direction steadily for a few generations, then the remnant of yesterday’s centrists may be looked at as extremists.

Sol Sanders (born 1926) was also a reporter for years, and he says this about our political parties.

..the two parties ultimately represented within their respective borders differences greater than the differences between them….What is happening today is the growing domination within the minority Democratic Party of its leftwing. No more evidence is necessary than the near riot set off when Democratic House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a scion of a Baltimore, Md., political family but a product of San Francisco, CA, leftwing politics, was attacked on camera by Democratic activists. Their growing influence in what has been a dwindling party, apparently determined not to incorporate the broad spectrum that insures the life of the two-party system, is now a danger for a system that with all its faults has worked relatively well. One could, indeed, make the case it has worked better than the more fractured and ideological European configuration.

College faculties have shown a sharp movement to the left, relative to the American public as a whole, since the sixties. So has the news media.

So who defines what the center is? The center opinions of the faculty at Yale will be different than the center opinions of entrepreneurs or farmers in the mid-West.

Even politics is not just a 2 dimensional tug of war between left and right. Saying that “America thrives at the center” is a somewhat lazy way of looking at things.

From W.B. Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Sources:

http://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/A-view-from-the-frontlines-480829
http://92yondemand.org/alan-dershowitz-jeffrey-toobin-trumped
https://yeoldecrabb.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/22a-political-threat/

Who hates Capitalists?

My parents are American conservatives, also Jewish, also pro-Israel, and so they get a lot of emails related to any of these topics. One interesting sidelight I noticed from some of material they get is the converging (and in my view wrong) economic attitudes of various movements out there. For instance, here is an article that came in yesterday: “60,000 participate in Polish nationalist march amid shouts of ‘Jews out’” The beliefs of some of the marchers in that recent march were that the Jews are pushing homosexuality on Poland, and also responsible for Muslim immigration into Europe.
But the economic attitudes of the radical groups in the march is what I want to discuss here. I noticed  that they want to nationalize foreign companies investments in Poland.
This converges with the left. I remember when Hugo Chavez took power in Venezuela, he was cheered by an audience of businessmen for nationalizing foreign investments.
Those businessmen must be very sorry now, as they look at the wreck of their country, with women turning to prostitution to survive, among other things, that they applauded any of Chavez’s economic moves.

When Donald Trump ran on an anti-NAFTA (free-trade agreement with Mexico and Canada) platform, for president, he was running on the same platform as Bernie Sanders, the socialist who was trying to get the nomination of the Democratic party and who also wanted to get rid of it).
Its an odd convergence.

Trump’s attitudes are somewhat of a mystery to me, but on trade they are straightforward. And I disagree with them, to some extent. (I do think he has his good points, unlike my more liberal relatives).

Christian Picciolini was an Italian American kid who fell in with a White-Power Crowd. They would listen to lyrics by the British band Skrewdriver, such as:

I stand and watch my country Going down the drain
We are all at fault We are all to blame
We’re letting them take over We just let ’em come
Once we had an empire And now we’ve got a slum
Are we going to sit and let them come?
Have they got the white man on the run?

Christian P. became a famous white supremacist, but eventually left the movement and became an opponent.

From his book, “Romantic Violence” there is this fragment where the word “capitalism” first occurs: (he was a teen at the time, and had been smoking a marijuana joint)

With the intermittent amber glow of the streetlamp lighting the car from above, the passenger door snapped open, and this older dude with a shaved head and black combat boots headed straight toward us. He wasn’t unnaturally tall or imposing physically, but his closely cropped hair and shiny boots smacked of authority. Over a crisp white T-shirt, thin scarlet suspenders held up his bleach-spotted jeans. He stepped across the beam of headlights and swiftly closed the distance between us. You’d have thought he’d turned in that alley specifically to hunt us down. I pulled back, wondering what the hell we’d done to piss this guy off….. Barely opening his mouth, he spoke softly, with a listen-closely-now attitude. “Don’t you know that’s exactly what the capitalists and Jews want you to do, so they can keep you docile?” Not knowing exactly what the hell a capitalist was, or what “docile” meant, my nervous instinct was to take a swift draw from the joint and involuntarily cough smoke straight into his face. With stunning, ninja-like speed, this guy with the penetrating gray eyes smacked the back of my head with one hand and simultaneously snatched the joint from my lips with the other, crushing it with his shiny black boot.

Years later, when Christian P. was a bigshot, his position on Capitalism was: “Capitalists can all rot in hell with their dirty blood money.”

So you have odd agreements, in this case between a white racist movement and a leftist universalist movement on economic issues.

Just from my point of view, Capitalism as such is just the free exchange of goods and services. It is not exploitation by some weird Jewish conspiracy of innocent inhabitants of Poland, for example.  There are exceptions, of course.    Selling harmful substances  to people may be one of them.  Some stock market  manipulations may also be harmful.   On the other hand, free trade is beneficial, as long as it is fair trade. The U.S. has some crazy law that if an American company suffers from trade, even though there was no unfairness involved, it can seek redress. I see no major unfairness in NAFTA, and I do see benefits, especially for our farming sector, and I think we are playing with fire if we try to get rid of it.
In fact, economics is a moral science. You learn (for instance by reading a book such as Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics”, that life has tradeoffs. You can decide that something is a social good, and subsidize it, but your wealth is finite, and you are withdrawing that wealth from an alternative good.
3836-square-1536

Many people have created societies that are supposedly structured without the profit motive.  They end up with societies that have plenty of exploitation, less wealth, and a lack of basic  freedoms.

Sources:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/polish-nationalist-youth-march-draws-thousands-in-capital-1510429006

https://www.jta.org/2017/11/13/news-opinion/world/60000-participate-in-polish-nationalist-march-amid-shouts-of-jews-out?utm_source=JTA%20Maropost&utm_campaign=JTA&utm_medium=email&mpweb=1161-1655-4078
Picciolini, Christian. Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead (p. 198). Goldmill Group LLC. Kindle Edition.

I will kill you, but don’t take it personally?

One question we might have to someone who tries to hurt us is “What did I do to you?”.
The assumption there is that people only attack in defense of something – we must have wronged them, or at least they believe they were wronged.
So when an American immigrant from Uzbekistan named Sayfullo Saipov deliberately drives a truck down a bicycle path along the Hudson river in Manhattan, murdering bicyclist after bicyclist, we tend to ask why. And he did have a ‘defense’ reason, or rather a ‘revenge’ reason. He said he was motivated in particular by a video in which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asked what Muslims in America and around the world were doing to respond to Muslims being killed in Iraq.
One of the people who were not killed, but just injured, was Marion Van Reeth, a Belgian woman who biked hundreds of kilometres through rugged parts of the world on charity excursions.

marionreeth

The bikeforAfrica web page has a blurb by her:

I participated to the first Bike for Africa in 2012 and 2014 and want to be part of the bikers team again. An experience not to miss : discover Senegal and The Gambia while bicycling , meet the local population , team building and support 3 charity projects!

It sounds like she had fun. She was able, on her own power to travel through beautiful, rugged, and interesting places.  And contribute to good works in the process.

africapath

The most dangerous place for her turned out to be New York city when that radicalized Muslim truck driver ended both the fun. And the freedom of the road.

So why doesn’t someone such as Sayfullo Saipov care about Marion? What did she do to Sayfullo to warrant this fate (she lost both her legs)?

Obviously Sayfullo looked at his act as a collective punishment to American society.

About a month before that, a 64-year-old Nevada man, Stephen Paddock, systematically killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 200 at a country music concert in Las Vegas.

We have no evidence at the moment that Mr. Paddock had an ideology, but like many mass killers, it is safe to say he wanted to kill as many people as possible. Professor John Lott has noted that these killers choose venues that are undefended, whether by police or citizens with guns.

Then we had another mass shooting, when Devin Patrick Kelley systematically killed people in a church in Texas. Among the people he killed were the family of John Holcombe, whose parents, wife, three of her children, a brother and a niece died from his rampage. John Holcombe could ask “Why me”, but in a way, it wasn’t personal. His family was just part of a collective.  It was just in the wrong place in the wrong time.

holcombes
Holcombe family

There were warning signs with some of these shooters, though with Paddock, the main oddity was that his father was on the FBI’s most wanted list as a psychopathic bank robber. Somehow Stephen carried in large guns and ammo into a hotel without being stopped.  Devin Kelley, on the other hand, had a violent history, and the air force failed to communicate this to civilian law enforcement.

Maybe these killers feel sorry for themselves. Maybe they feel they were wronged in some way by society, and now want to be remembered as world-record killers. Maybe there is a lot of hatred, or contempt, or resentment, within them.

Some of these killers have written manifestos, for instance Anders Breivik, who shot dead 69 participants of a Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp on the island of Utøya (these were children of left-leaning politicians in Norway). He wanted to stop Muslim immigration, among other things.

Again, he probably didn’t have any personal hatred to any individual on the island, he hated them as a group.
He laughed as some tried to get away.

It seems you can divide shooters who kill for a cause, and others who kill because they feel society has wronged them, and others who simply have a disordered brain.

But one point that emerges is that people’s motives for doing evil are not always rational to their victims. The victims have not necessarily wronged them as individuals. The victims can be expendable pawns.

Here is an interesting fragment from a book review by Danusha Goska. The book was by a brave American Muslim policeman, who went undercover to stop Jihadis. The policeman, Tamer Elnoury, says that the Islam he was taught was nothing like the Islam these people believed in. Goska thinks the real Islam is probably more like the Jihadi version, and she says this at the end of her review:

The Muslims on whom Elnoury is spying fly on American and Canadian airplanes, dine on lobster in American and Canadian restaurants, shop at The Gap, slurp down coffee and scarf down pastry in Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donuts, sleep in Marriott hotels, stroll through crowds at tourist destinations, attend university classes and scholarly conferences. All the while they are hating and wanting to murder everyone around them: helpful stewardesses, bubbly waitresses, passing pedestrians, babies in strollers. Three Muslim men walking across a bridge on a sunny day are there for one purpose in Elnoury’s book – not to retreat to a private place for a heart-to-heart talk, not to admire the scenery, not to stretch their legs or get a breath of fresh air. They are walking across that bridge to plot to demolish that bridge and thereby to murder kuffar. Chiheb Esseghaier, Elnoury’s main target, works with deadly diseases. Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian student at Canada’s Laval University, tells Esseghaier to put a virus into a reservoir. We can, he said, reap a harvest of “thousands of dead Americans.”…

Why do jihadis feel they must murder kuffar? Because Americans and other non-Muslims “are spreading adultery, they are spreading alcohol … they are spreading Christianity … it’s our duty to make trouble in their homes … God almighty says fight their leaders … Islam is a very powerful weapon … you can bulldoze the whole world.” Esseghaier and his fellow sleeper jihadis are outraged by liquor sales, by a friendly waitress who goes out of her way to be kind, and belly dancers in Middle Eastern restaurants. The terrorists Elnoury shadows are outraged by women in attractive dresses and men with alcohol on their breath.

It is interesting that Judaism, as opposed to Islam, is a self-limiting religion. Judaism has the idea of a particular people that was given a particular land. The Jews are supposed to obey certain commandments, but there is no imperative for them to make others obey those commandments (though some of the prophets do speak of a time when the world will recognize God). For the types that Elnoury tried to first reason with, and then combat, this is not the case. In the above explanation by Goska, they seem to feel under siege by Christianity and immorality, as well.

Part of wisdom is not dismissing unpleasant realities by saying a motivation is impossible. There are so many strange motivations out there.  Someone could be happy to shoot you for any one of them!

Sources:

http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/argentine-survivors-of-nyc-terror-attack-love-will-unite-us-with-fallen-friends/news-story/3627e3cffadb70359851877d2c805715
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/02/us/sayfullo-saipov-path-terror-suspect/index.html
Viagra sprays: https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/2073008/scienctists-create-viagra-mouth-spray-that-perks-up-blokes-in-seconds/

The good, the bad, and the Ugly

I was once hiking with a local group, and one Jewish man told me that he had seen this absolutely beautiful woman on TV – but she was talking of her admiration for Osama Bin Laden. He couldn’t get over the fact that such a beautiful woman could admire a man responsible for killing thousands of innocent Americans – people who went to work one day, and never came back.

I have unfortunately always been a person to judge by appearances. Its kind of automatic – and we all do it, at least initially, to some extent. The tall willowy blonde woman with green eyes makes a better impression in general than the overweight diabetic woman with big glasses.
I might be more comfortable chatting with the overweight diabetic woman, but I would be more likely to check my appearance in a store window after meeting the willowy woman with green eyes.

So is this a valid way to initially judge people?
I think to some extent it is, as a rough sketch. If you see a man with bloodshot eyes, a paunch, and a bloated face, he is likely to be an alcoholic, for instance, and that may (or may not) tell you about his character. A person with a healthy lifestyle, who has led a fairly low-stress life, will probably look better than the opposite.

I do believe that seeing people in motion, and watching how their expressions change when provoked, can tell you much more.

Take a look at these static faces, and guess who is good, and who was bad:

suzannespaak
lisolettemeier
handsomebad
johnallen
boggshero

The first one is named Suzanne Spaak.
The second is named Lisolette Meier
The third is Henrique Gomes da Rocha
The fourth was named John Allen Williams
The fifth is Temar Boggs

Suzanne left the comfort of her upper-class home in Paris to join the Underground and rescue Jews.

Liselotte Meier, joined her boss, an SS officer on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport.

Henrique confessed to murdering 39 people, including a 14-year-old teenage girl and homeless people.

John Allen Williams shot people randomly with a sniper rifle in the states of Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ten people were killed and three others were critically injured. He admired Osama Bin Laden.

Temar Boggs helped save a 5-year-old girl when he and his teen friends chased down her kidnapper’s car on their bikes.

So the faces don’t really tell you much.

The playwright William Shakespeare (born 1565) wrote that “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

But as I said earlier, I think when you see a flitting series of expressions on a person, and you also have the context for the emotional reaction you are seeing, you can tell more than most people would think.

Then again, as my mother says, “Never Assume!

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432620/Hitlers-Furies-The-Nazi-women-bit-evil-men.html#ixzz4xVAbsr6K

http://gawker.com/incredibly-handsome-serial-killer-confesses-to-39-murde-1649020842

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hero-teens-chase-kidnapper-bikes-article-1.1398831

http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous-women/index.asp

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432620/Hitlers-Furies-The-Nazi-women-bit-evil-men.html

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/appearance/how-alcohol-affects-your-appearance/

Pirate gold in the yard, Pirates in the halls.

Imagine that you have a treasure chest of pirate gold buried in your back yard. Its been there since 1700, but you don’t know about it. So you struggle at to pay the rent and the mortgage, and to put your kids through school, and now you have a large debt, and cannot retire, but nobody wants to hire you because you have macular degeneration.  You end up in an old age home subsidized by the state.

The point I’m making is that you could be in close proximity to a major solution to your problems, but if you don’t know about it, it might as well not be there.

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Conversely, imagine you’ve been in a jail cell for 20 years. The cell has a window with bars, and a cot, and a toilet. Twenty years have passed, and you are about to be let out. You jump around for joy in your cell, and accidentally kick the toilet out of place. Under it, you are astonished to see that a previous inmate has secreted a metal file. In other words, you might have escaped decades ago, by using that file on the bars.

But again, what you don’t know about might as well not exist.

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Does this kind of thing happen in reality? In a way it does. I once hiked with a group in a scenic area north of Phoenix, and got to talking with one of their members. The whole group had worked for Motorola, originally. The hiker told me that Motorola had a big lead on cell phones, but decided to go with analog technology, rather than digital. So it missed the boat (or the treasure chest).
As an aside, many of this hiker’s former colleagues were unemployed after it collapsed, and quite a few decided to go on disability, rather than search for a new job.

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Another example, this time of warnings that could have saved people, was the story of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. He warned that small planes could successfully bomb big ships, and he warned that the Japanese would attack America, and would bomb Pearl Harbor.  Instead of being listened to, he was court-martialed! (He wasn’t court-martialed for making that warning, but still, the point is, if you don’t believe the truth when it is handed to you, you will can end up in a disaster.)

billmitch

In my case, I’ve not been believed for many years. I’ve tried to warn society, and I’ve tried to warn my own family. I won’t go into the details here, but it is interesting to see what non-belief means. I can tell my family that their house is not secure, that it is being entered, every day, every night, by bad people who have decided to make me, and possibly my parents as a bonus, into a grand pharmacological experiment. Of course nobody would believe that, but the interesting part is to see the serene calmness that reigns among the people in my household, when in my world, a slow-motion horror movie is occurring there.

Arguments I hear are:
“Bad guys are not interested in persecuting people like you. They are interested in money!”
“Nobody but you believes this crazy story”.

And so forth.

In truth, I can’t presume to explain “bad guys”, but they can be motivated by many things, even ideology. They can be motivated by a desire to keep a lid on someone who knows too much. They can be motivated by revenge. They can be motivated by disgust. They can be in a situation where they don’t want to kill you, but they don’t want to let you go either.
Psychopaths are often motivated by a desire to “make people jump”, according to Martha Stout, who wrote a book about them.

People don’t understand the implications of the existence of organized crime either. Criminals are early adopters of technology, and are often very determined people. Organized crime is in every state of the United States. Criminals can hold a regular job, and yet have their secret identity, like the superheroes in our comic books. I’m not just talking about bodegas that sell drugs on the side, I’m talking about people who could be a receptionist at an office, a social worker, a doctor, and so forth.

It is my view that at least some criminality is like autism. A certain percent of the population is going to be born with it. They see the world differently. It is a big mistake to rule out any harmful motivation with some assumption like “They won’t hurt me, they are just interested in money!”