June 29, 2008

Range Saftey Failure....

Steven Den Beste reports on a terrible accident at a French Marine Corps open house.

While giving a dog and pony show for the public a soldier fired his rifle at a crowd.

 Instead of blanks however the weapon was loaded with live ammo.

17 people were hit, including some children, fortunately no one has died. Without even knowing what weapon he was firing it is not really possible to say muchiven but given the probability that people were very tightly packed it seems likely that he pulled the trigger for a very short time before realizing what had happened.

There is already some speculation that this must have been a deliberate act on the part of the armorer or the soldier. However, it should be remembered that the USAF recently unwittingly flew several atomic warheads over the US before the mistake was caught.

Awful things can happen without a plot or malice.

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June 11, 2008

The Akibahara Stabbing

Several days ago a bitter, worthless, little man drove into the Anime, gaming and comic mecca of Japan, Akihabara. He ran over 3 people, exited the truck he had taken for the purpose and began stabbing people. 7 are now dead.

Japan Probe has a very good roundup here including the medias inevitable focus on the fact that the killer was an Otaku who had virtually no possessions aside from Doujinshi...While this line of reportage is understandable given recent events involving the impending release of another crazy Otaku, it tends to confuse cause and effect. Humanity had bitter petty killers long before modern video games...before Pac-Man,  before Dungeons and Dragons, before cartoons, comic books, dime novels, plays at the Globe, Jousts, or tournaments at the Colosseum. Media is unlikely to have made this sicko sick. No modern day Hays Code or Comic Code Authority is likely to have filled the dark void in this nihilists soul...

The real question is how he was able to stab 14 people before being subdued

UPDATE: Upon reflection, and after sleep, that question is easily answerable...Akihabara on a Sunday is wall to wall highschool and college kids. 14 stabbings, if he was fast would take roughly 14 seconds, especially if the people were unaware of who he was or what he was doing (given the location he could have been momentarily mistaken for a cosplayer doing some ad-libbed street theater).

 Rather more importantly, it appears from the Japan Probe pictures that first aid was indeed being rendered mainly by bystanders including the two in this picture trying to save the stabbed policeman.  

Also here performing mouth to mouth and other first aid..there doesn't seem to be a first responder in sight yet but these kids and someone with a first aid kit have stepped up...

Additionally,  it appears from this picture that a bystander actually helped subdue the assailant (unconfirmed, but likely from the pic)...look at the picture to the left.

None of this has been in any English language media that I've yet seen which does a disservice to the people of Tokyo. The purpose of the post was never to rag on the Japanese in the first place, but this omission needed to be corrected in this post....we now resume the otherwise unmodified ....  but now rather less topical rant...

Steven Den Beste mentioned the sad story on Sunday and it provoked this thoughtful and disturbing comment from Toren Smith. Here is an excerpt, but read the whole thing..

...there was a recent incident on a train where an unarmed guy flashed a girl, and when she protested, he beat her up right in front of the other passengers and at the next stop stuffed her down between the train and the platform.  No one did anything to stop him during the act or his escape, and no one even stayed as a witness...snip... When one of the witnesses to the train flasher assault later came forward via anonymous phone call to a TV station, he said the reason he didn't want to get involved at the time was he didn't want to get hurt (the pathetic pussy) but worse, he would have been late for work if he'd stayed to be a witness for the cops.  He was dead serious with that excuse and had called in to make it clear he had a perfectly understandable reason for not getting involved.

Like a lot of east Asian nations, Japanese culture has what we in the west might perceive as a passive streak. A society influenced by close proximity and limited resources Japan tends to place high premiums on honor, courtesy and not bothering each other. 

That is not the issue here.

There is a large difference between the sort of nonconfrontationalism born from centuries of basically urban society and the sort of aloofness referenced in Toren's comment..

That is NOT unique to Japan. It is becoming endemic in many parts of the world. It is symptomatic of a deeply disturbing sheep-like mindset and is not at all consistent with an adult worldview.

It is every persons responsibility to have at least a cursory preparedness for something out of the ordinary happening and lending assistance if at all possible for those unable to do so.
This is called adulthood.
If you are uncomfortable with that sort of existence, take heart, after adulthood you won't have to worry about it any more.

It should be noted in passing that some of the most restrictive gun control laws on the planet did not prevent this from happening. On the contrary, one of the reasons for having adult citizens being armed in some way, even with a leatherman, is not just for personal safety, it is good citizenship, as it provides a robustly decentralized safety net and deterrent against things such as this. Japan is singularly unlikely to adopt this model for historical and cultural reasons and as such this particular option is of mainly local (USA) interest in discussing this incident...but it does bear discussing.

 However, even in circumstances such as Japan, the UK or Washington DC, where even a cursory armament  is not possible, there are things an adult can do to be prepared...things as low maintenance as simply making a note of the nearest fire exit or knowing enough to apply direct pressure to a wound...or having the gumption to pull someone out of oncoming traffic...
...or to not stand by and let a kid get knifed, do something, throw rocks or your cellphone...
...yet doing just that....which is nondebateably the right thing...is being criminalized.
Toren again...
Also, the honest truth is there is much less likelihood of the passersby stepping in to do anything (mostly for passive societal reasons).  The Japanese are as comprehensively disarmed as the British.  As there, using any item as a weapon proves intent and possession--ie, pick up a rock at the side of the road for defense and you are have now "voluntarily armed yourself "with an "weapon intended to do bodily harm."

(emphasis mine)

This is not unique to Japan. Toren mentions the oft mentioned disarmament in both body and spirit in the UK, and it is a mindset not unheard of here either. But like everywhere it is generally supremely impolitic (and often downright rude) to ask...
 ...for instance...
...why a large group of basically military age people might scamper out a window and leave an 76 year old instructor alone to face an assailant with a .22 ...without so much as helping the old man hold the door shut..... These are painful and indeed hurtful questions but they need to be asked.

Murdoc has rather related thoughts in this well thought out Gunpundit post.

  Citizens need to be adults for a republic to work and,  rather happily,  history has shown they are quite capable of actually  being able to do so.
UPDATE: Post revised 3 hours after timestamp to fix hyperlinks and replace an accidentally deleted block of text...in order to (hopefully) achieve coherence.

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June 01, 2008

China Earthquake Pictures

Galrahn has linked to some incredible pictures from the recent Chinese earthquake.

Many, like this one are hear wrenching....

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