You're probably expecting an essay on the outrage -- the murders -- in France.
I don't have to. You don't need to read it. The dead tell their own story. The murder weapon tells its own story, too: a rented truck.
Let that soak in: a rented truck. The killer had a gun -- not all that easy to come by in France -- but he used a truck. There are reports the killer had one or more grenades, too, but he used a truck.
Not quite twelve hours ago, I was pointing out that a couple of tons of vehicle moving at 20 mpg -- the upper limit for Pokemon Go -- is a deadly weapon, packing more kinetic energy (72,518 Joules*) than the total of every bullet in a 30-round AR-15 magazine (1,767 J x 30, 53010 J); and the truck doesn't need to be reloaded for hours.
Civilization is vulnerable to those who have no use for civilization. Radical Islam is a mind virus, closely akin to violent racism, nazism, and communism (etc. If you're willing to go kill the innocent over it, you're one, too). In the hands of individuals and groups only a generation removed from goat-herding, to whom electricity is a novel luxury, such mind viruses can deadly to an advanced culture.
On one level, you can blame T. E. Lawrence, though this is a lesson the fuzzy-wuzzies have been learning for themselves since the first Neandertals stole fire from their neighbors and used it to burn them out. Still, a peek back at the First World War in the Middle East yields this gem: "The Arab Bureau of Britain's Foreign Office conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East. [...]. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the "asymmetry" of such conflict." Once the "War To End All Wars" was won, the strategic tool eventually turned on the wielder.
Crazed, violent Islam may, eventually, run its course. I think it will; even with a talent pool marinated in the faith and the promise of everlasting rewards in the sweet by-and-by, a short, violent career ending in ugly death isn't that great a seller. (ISIS's "old-time religion and a quartet of child-brides" gets a lot more takers and presents a greater danger over the long term.) The problem of murders, mass-murderers, turning the devices of modern civilization against modern civilized people will not go away. It's been a problem since fire, since irrigation, since a baddie stole a cleverer guy's atl-atl and tried to wipe out the family down the hill from a safe distance. The more powerful our devices, the greater the danger. All I have by way of advice is to be alert -- and to understand that on a scale of more than minutes, the odds are always against the killers.
Despite them, we build. Despite them, we co-operate. Mourn the dead but do not be cowed.
* Unless I have dropped a decimal or gone askew on a conversion. 20 mph, 4000 lbs., many of my readers are better at classical physics than I am. The sheer mass of a motor vehicle makes it far more destructive than a single rifle bullet.
4 weeks ago