Tales Bar

Tales from the Spaceport Bar:

That was the title of a book I remember reading back about twenty years ago -- ah, here it is. I had to go down to Atlanta to pick up someone flying in to Hartsfield-Jackson International, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. Flights tend to be delayed, so you take a seat at the bar, order a Guinness, and see what happens....

Two minutes after I had my beer in front of me, a guy sat down next to me who had the look of someone I needed to talk to. Short hair, muscular, Hawaiian shirt -- I read that as US military, on leave from PACOM. Right the first time, it turned out. He was actually a resident of the US military mission in Thailand, but has been on TDY in Hawaii lately. Passing through ATL to deal with family. We had a lot to talk about, however, as he knew quite a few people in the Philippines right now. Since I'm helping Bill Roggio arrange a mission out there, it was a useful conversation. Nice guy. Showed me pictures of his fiancee, a very pretty Thai girl whom he'll be bringing back.

After he pulled out, my contact was still not there, so I talked to the guy who took his seat. Polish, this one, named Tek. First time in America, but he has excellent English as he attended the American college in Rome, and has lived in England. He dances around polite conversation before asking the question Euros always want to ask: what do you think of the President?

I tell him, and we talk politics for a while. He's got a Polish perspective, but that's all right with me -- I like Poles, a lot in fact, and know the history well enough to join him. We talk about Vietnam, Iraq, the Soviet invasions of Eastern Europe. I tell him that America has always fought for those who wanted to fight for liberty, and he nods at once. "That's true," he says with a serious expression. You can see that matters to him. After half an hour or so, America -- you can tell he's excited to be here -- seems more comfortable.

He asks me about wildlife, so we talk about bears, mountain lions, alligators. He's going to Florida. I warn him about how silent and fast gators can be. He's shocked by all of it. "So you mean you could just be walking along out in the woods and suddenly there would be a bear or a crocodile?" he asks.

"Alligator," I remind him.

"Alligator," he says. "That's amazing. In Europe you could never just be out, and meet a dangerous animal. You must carry a rifle all the time."

"A revolver," I say. This starts him off on another topic, so I show him my firearms license. I explain about how the police have my fingerprints, so if I do anything wrong they'll know it was me. He's lived in London, and knows what gun crime is getting to be like there. Another eye-opening conversation, you can see.

About this time, my contact shows up and it's time to go. We shake hands, Tek and I; I welcome him to America. He's glad to be here. I'm glad he came.

I pay my tab; I've been there three hours, and have three beers on it. Two of them are mine; one of them belonged to the soldier from PACOM. He got one of mine, so we're even, but I met my goal of always buying a beer for a serviceman when I drink at an airport. My contact and I head back towards the mountains.

It's a bad world, my old friend from Freemantle used to say; but it can be a good life. With beer and company, and adventure to discuss, it can be good enough.

It's Friday.

Go get a cold one.

Private Security on the Border

Grits for Breakfast points to an interesting article from The Monitor of McAllen, Texas. In short, there is a proposal to put private contractors on the border in an effort to strengthen the US Border Patrol. Of course a Washington spokesman for the Border Patrol says it’s unthinkable… and of course I’ve already begun seeing the “don’t militarize the Valley” (see the comments on Grits).

I think it’s an excellent idea. Ideally, I would like to see Marine and Army Reserve units deployed down South… but due to the deployment schedule this may not feasible. So I’m willing to privatize the endeavor. While I understand Grits lack of faith in DynCorp there are US firms out there without the stigma they have.

As I said, I don’t trust the Border Patrol’s spokesman. I know it’s anecdotal, but my brother is Texas Highway Patrol in Marfa, Texas (border town) and the security situation is appalling to hear him tell it. Add to that, the Valley is already a pain in the ass as regards Border Patrol checkpoints that are miles from the actual border… complete with overbearing Border Agents.

I realize the popular liberal response is to play the “poor undocumented immigrant looking for a better life” card in response to securing the border. I’m not really concerned with the average dishonest, lawbreaking, Mexicans swimming the border to pick fruit or clean homes… I’m more concerned with the higher level of dishonest, lawbreaking, Mexicans who invade homes, kill citizens, destroy property, or cartels smuggling arms or drugs and outgunning our Border Patrol.

Ev. psych

Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature:

A fascinating article examines the question of human nature, focused particularly on relations between men and women. For example, did you know that monogamy is bad for women, whereas polygamy is bad for men?

Relative to monogamy, polygyny creates greater fitness variance (the distance between the "winners" and the "losers" in the reproductive game) among males than among females because it allows a few males to monopolize all the females in the group. The greater fitness variance among males creates greater pressure for men to compete with each other for mates. Only big and tall males can win mating opportunities. Among pair-bonding species like humans, in which males and females stay together to raise their children, females also prefer to mate with big and tall males because they can provide better physical protection against predators and other males.

In societies where rich men are much richer than poor men, women (and their children) are better off sharing the few wealthy men; one-half, one-quarter, or even one-tenth of a wealthy man is still better than an entire poor man. As George Bernard Shaw puts it, "The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first-rate man to the exclusive possession of a third-rate one." Despite the fact that humans are naturally polygynous, most industrial societies are monogamous because men tend to be more or less equal in their resources compared with their ancestors in medieval times. (Inequality tends to increase as society advances in complexity from hunter-gatherer to advanced agrarian societies. Industrialization tends to decrease the level of inequality.)

When there is resource inequality among men—the case in every human society—most women benefit from polygyny: women can share a wealthy man. Under monogamy, they are stuck with marrying a poorer man.

The only exceptions are extremely desirable women. Under monogamy, they can monopolize the wealthiest men; under polygyny, they must share the men with other, less desirable women. However, the situation is exactly opposite for men. Monogamy guarantees that every man can find a wife. True, less desirable men can marry only less desirable women, but that's much better than not marrying anyone at all.

Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don't realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy.
Actually, it sounds like polygamy is better for men too, in the long run -- it creates men who are stronger and fitter in the future. It's just bad for the current crop of men, who want to get women and can't.

Oh, and for those who'd prefer to avoid suicide bombers. The role of Islamic polygamy in suicide bombing is considered in the article as well. More shockingly, from a personal perspective, is this claim that feminists were right: chivalry and courtesy are forms of discrimination against women. Men who don't discriminate against women instead use sexual harrassment:
Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.
I suppose I'll have to accept the role of a proud discriminator, then. Grim's Hall continues to insist on chivalric behavior toward ladies, in spite of these new revelations.

Marine Cleared

Marine Cleared in Haditha Investigation:

Red State has the story.

He got his wish.

It appears that Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed in the assault on the 'red' mosque in Islamabad today.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, I'm thinking.

Now what will be even more interesting is whether this deflates the radicals, or stirs them up more.

I predict at least two more brazen assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.