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The Magistrate

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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 93,572

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Aeroplane In A Bottle: From This One, I Will Be Getting Some Cash....

This was my entry in a small modeling contest. It took the first prize, which just arrived today --- a very large scale kit, one which I would never build myself, but that I can probably sell off for something around a hundred fifty dollars. Might work out to a dollar an hour on the assembly....

It is built from scratch, in 1/72 scale ( six feet to the inch ), and the wingspan is a bit under nine inches.

It is a Short Admiralty Type 827, one of three which were sent out to Zanzibar in the late spring of 1915, and then were sent up to Basra, and employed by the Royal Naval Air Service in support of Gen. Townsend's drive on Baghdad, operating around Kut-al-Amara when it was taken in September, and subsequently. The 827 was designed as a floatplane, but at least two of those in Iraq, one of which was No. 822, had their floats replaced with wheels, as operating from the surface of the Tigris River presented many difficulties.
Posted by The Magistrate | Fri Aug 29, 2014, 10:09 PM (47 replies)

The 'Volunteer' Wheeze Is Very Old, Sir

Russia sent four squadrons of fighters, two of bombers, and a tank regiment plus infantry for local security, to China in the late thirties to fight Japanese; all personnel were officially described as volunteers, in no way formed units of the Russian armed forces, and there was a money out one pocket to another bit of book-keeping to pretend the Chinese purchased the equipment, and claims that anyway, the aircrew were there only to train Chinese. Japan not wanting war with Russia much more than Russia did with Japan, did not treat this as grounds for more than strenuous protest, even though the Russian units were quite effective, and some of their personnel captured. No one was fooled, everyone involved, and all informed un-lookers, understood Russia had sent a sizeable ready-made air force to assist China, and did so because it wanted Japan kept busy away from Siberia and the Maritime Provinces.

It is simply a fact that Russia is now sending formed units of Russian soldiery, with their equipment, into Ukraine. You are free to whinge that this is not 'an invasion' because Russia could surely move several divisions under air cover into Ukraine, rather than something which seems in total about the equivalent of a brigade at present. But that does not mean it is not an act of the Russian government, not a deployment of Russian soldiers and equipment under Russian orders into combat with Ukraine's armed forces. The paper-work does not impress me, and it does not alter the essence of the matter. Russia is waging a war against Ukraine, a low intensity war, but a war all the same, and its purpose in waging this is the seizure of territory from a neighboring state --- in short, an act of imperialist aggression. It is intended to pay, with full control of oil and gas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov which otherwise would benefit Ukraine, and it is viewed as the first essential step to reconstituting the old Russian land empire, or at least as much of this as can practicably be snarfled up in the present day.

Russia has as much right to try this as anyone else has to employ violence for their own aggrandizement, certainly. The problem I have, and a number of other people have as well, is with people who pretend that Russia is not engaged in imperialist aggression, who couch defense of Russia's aggression in Ukraine in terms of resistance to aggression against Russia, and who give every evidence of believing the shabbiest and most threadbare of lies Russia tells about its actions and purposes, all the while insisting everyone who disagrees is duped by propaganda. I could have some respect for someone who made a case on straight realpolitik grounds, and stated straight out their preferred outcome was that Russia achieve its goals, take as much of Ukraine as it thought best for its interests, and reconstituted its old empire. I could respect someone who viewed the thing as a clash between two imperialisms over who would have the sole exploitation of Ukraine, and preferred it to be Russia who became sole exploiter of Ukraine. But I cannot have the slightest respect for the sort of cant which makes up the overwhelming bulk of the commentary made in support of Russian imperialism here.
Posted by The Magistrate | Fri Aug 29, 2014, 01:51 AM (0 replies)

I Support The Actions Described By President Obama Tonight, Ladies And Gentlemen

I think they are right and proper.


( edited to add, with thanks, a link to Ms. Cha's post below with link to video of our President's speech, and transcript of his remarks )
Posted by The Magistrate | Thu Aug 7, 2014, 09:43 PM (350 replies)

That Was Not An Accident, Ma'am: That Was a Crime

The official Israeli explanation, as of last night, anyway, was that they were attempting to kill some Hamas people on a motorcycle that was passing by the school. So they were trying to hit something moving in the road nearby, it was not a stray round or something that struck where it did by gross mistake. I have pointed out before that the standard an attacker must meet when attacking a legitimate military target, if doing so could endanger non-combatants, is that the direct military benefit gained by neutralizing that target must be so great as to outweigh the risk of harm to non-combatants. I understand people may view that balance differently, and that reasonable people of sound mind and good heart might come to different conclusions as to where it rests in specific instances, but as someone willing to give latitude to claims of military necessity, I assure you that there is no way in Hell a reasonable argument can be made for the proposition that the direct military benefit of killing a couple of people on a motorcycle, however militant and combatant they may be, is or can be sufficiently great as to outweigh the risk of harm to non-combatants inherent in trying to land artillery in the street alongside a facility known to be sheltering several thousand non-combatants.
Posted by The Magistrate | Tue Aug 5, 2014, 11:58 AM (4 replies)

Indeed, Sir: Holding A Man To Account For His Previous Words Is Not Argumentm Ad Hominem

People chant 'agumentum ad hominem' here as though it were some magical phrase of power which puts its utterer in the right on any occasion. It does not, and it is almost never used correctly.

The fallacy of argumentum ad hominem refers to a response attacking the person making the argument, by saying that he or he is unworthy to speak, or to be taken seriously, for reasons unrelated to the argument made. An example might be to say that since a person has gone bankrupt recently, his opinion that the United States should provide military assistance to Iraq cannot be taken seriously. The flaw cited, true or not, has no relevance to the subject. But if a person has expressed the opinion that stock in the Beefsteak Mine is an excellent buy at ten cents a share, pointing out that he filed for bankruptcy last month is not irrelevant to the point at hand, but speaks to the quality of the person's judgement on financial matters. Similarly, if a person states it as a fact that, say, the U.S. government is buying up great quantities of ammunition in order to drive up the price and so disarm the people, pointing out that earlier this person stated as a fact that the government has a machine that creates and directs tornadoes and uses it to destroy resistance to tyranny in the heartland is wholly appropriate, because it speaks to both judgement and pre-disposition, establishing the person is delusional and is in actual fact not worthy of being taken seriously. If someone predicts that, say, President Obama is going to resign in disgrace before the year is out to avoid impeachment, it is wholly legitimate to point out that earlier, this person predicted President Obama would be defeated in a landslide by Romney, thus establishing that this person's predictions are worth less than those of the average 'psychic friends' operator.

A leader or spokesman for Hamas being called to account for having circulated the classic blood libel, and having stating his aim is expulsion of all Jews from Israel whose ancestry traces to immigrants arriving there in the twentieth century, is wholly appropriate, and in no sense an argumentum ad hominem. It speaks directly to the worth of any statement he may subsequently make avowing an interest in any form of peaceful accommodation, or that he and his fellows are unfairly described as driven by hate. Viewed in the coldest light, it even calls into question whether the man is so gripped by delusion that it might be an error to consider him wholly sane. And of course, it would be quite easy to settle the matter when called to account for having made such statements: the man would need only to state that he does not stand by them, that he knows the blood libel is a despicable slander he regrets having circulated as truth, and that he knows he cannot expel nearly six million Jews from Israel, and does not desire to do so. That is all it would take, and if the man will not say that and move on, one is entitled to wonder why this is....
Posted by The Magistrate | Tue Aug 5, 2014, 11:46 AM (1 replies)

The Problem With That Boiler-Plate, Sir, Is This

There is absolutely no reason to believe that a Likud government in Israel is any more interested in peace with the people of Arab Palestine than the leadership and militants of Hamas are in peace with Israel.

It has been evident for some years the actual policy of the present government of Israel is one of de facto annexation of the portions of the Jordan valley over-run in '67, or in short, a policy of 'one land between the river and the sea', without great dissimilarity to the banner the most militant of Arab Palestinians fly. There would be some difference in detail of outcome; a Hamas victory would be accompanied by massacre and rapid flight, a Likud victory would feature less immediate killing and a more gradual departure of the defeated, but these are differences of style and sophistication more than differences of kind. Both sides at present are aiming for a peace of victory, in which the defeated can have no part or presence. Partisans on both sides need to understand this, and to face up to it squarely, particularly when engaged in slanging the character and motive of their opponents.

At some point in a fight, one must begin to assess capabilities as well as motives, to examine whether one or another of the parties are capable of doing what they clearly intend. The fact that someone, even an obviously angry someone, has shouted 'I'll kill you!' does not really justify my breaking his arm and several ribs, especially if he is not actually armed with more than a pocket knife and spotting me thirty pounds of muscle and a half foot in reach and many years of practice. If I did something like that, I would not expect a police sergeant surveying the scene to believe I was really in fear for my life, and would expect to be arrested and face some charge greater than misdemeanor battery.

It is a fact that Hamas lacks the capability to do serious harm to Israel, let alone destroy Israel, and that is so even if it intends to destroy Israel and its leaders and militants go to sleep each night dreaming of destroying Israel.

It is a fact that Israel does have the capability to maintain occupation of the Cis-Jordan indefinitely, and has the capability to complete its de facto annexation of that area, and constriction of the existence of its Arab population to the point the bulk of them give it up and depart.

Success in the latter endeavor is no more right and just than success in the former.
Posted by The Magistrate | Sat Aug 2, 2014, 01:30 PM (1 replies)
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