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January 2005 archives

January 19, 2005

we need better guns

I'm currently reading The Shadow of the Sun, a spellbinding collection of writings about Africa in the post-colonial area by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, and came across this passage, one of many in the book I've felt compelled to share:

Abandoned, lonely children gravitate to where troops are garrisoned, where they have their barracks and camps. They help out, work, become part of the army, "sons of the regiment." They are given weapons and quickly undergo a baptism by fire. Their older companions (also children) often laze about, and when a confrontation with the enemy is pending, send the little ones to the front lines, into the thick of battle. These armed encounters between youngsters are particularly fierce and bloody, because a child does not have the instinct for self-preservation, does not feel dread or comprehend death, does not experience the fear that only maturity will evoke.

The wars of children have also been made possible by technological developments. Today, handheld automatic weapons are short and light, the newer models increasingly resembling children's toys. The old Mauser was too long, too big, and too heavy for a child. A child's small arm could not reach freely for the trigger, and he had difficulty taking aim. Modern design has solved these problems, eliminated the inconveniences. The dimensions of the weapons are now perfectly suited to a boy's physique, so much so that in the hands of tall, massive men, the new guns appear somewhat comical and childish.

Because the child is capable only of using handheld, short-range weapons (he cannot conduct long-range artillery fire, or pilot a bomber), clashed in these children's wars take the form of savagely unmediated collisions, of close, almost physical contact; the children fire at one another separated by just a step. The toll, typically, is frightful. And it is not only those killed then and there who perish. In the conditions under which these wars are fought, the wounded will also die---from loss of blood, from infection, from lack of medicines.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, as obvious as it may (should?) be... in isolation, usability has absolutely zero moral or ethical value.

Posted by jheer at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2005


Wow, it has been ages since I've posted anything. Please allow me to crawl out from under my rock to announce that I have finished my master's degree. Those with a geek-streak, an interest in turning data into pictures, or are generally masochistic can check out the report.

Sincere thanks to everyone who helped out along the way. You know who you are.

Posted by jheer at 06:49 PM | Comments (2)