Get PJ Media on your Apple

Belmont Club

Avoiding The Evitable

April 4th, 2013 - 10:08 pm

(UPI) — A psychiatrist treating James Holmes warned police her patient was dangerous 38 days before he opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, documents show.” Psychiatrist Lynn Fenton told ” told police officer Lynn Whitten that Holmes had confessed homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public … Fenton also informed the officer Holmes had ended his appointments with her and had been sending her threatening text messages and emails.”

In retrospect everything is obvious. But what exactly is obvious is often a matter of dispute. For example, to some it will be  obvious from Fenton’s report that if only “high powered magazines” had been banned 38 days before the shooting then it would never have happened. If no one can get their hands on guns, then crazy people can’t get their hands on guns.

Or consider the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known as the underwear bomber. What can we learn from his attempt to blow up a Detroit bound airliner?

British intelligence officials sent the U.S. a cable warning about him. Abdulmutallab’s father spoke to two CIA officers at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and tipped them off about his own son. The British had barred him from entering the UK on national security grounds. Still he was able to board his flight and was in the process of igniting his explosive underwear when passengers stopped him. What does it prove? Commenting on Abdulmutallab’s guilty plea Attorney General Eric Holder said “today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe.”

Gee. I would never have thought of that.

Take Nidal Malik Hasan, otherwise known as the Fort Hood shooter, he had been in contact with a known terrorist personality for some time. Law enforcement was surveilling him. “In one of the e-mails, Hasan wrote [a terror personality named] al-Awlaki: ‘I can’t wait to join you’ in the afterlife. Hasan also asked al-Awlaki when jihad is appropriate, and whether it is permissible if innocents are killed in a suicide attack. In the months before the shooting, Hasan increased his contacts with al-Awlaki to discuss how to transfer funds abroad without coming to the attention of law authorities”.

So after Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood shouting “Allahu Akbar!”, the DOD commissioned a careful study to learn what had gone wrong. Their conclusion, as stated verbatim in the report was there was a “shortfall in policies and programs governing and preventing to workplace violence.”

So there you go.

It is commonly believed that men can learn from the past. Yet evidence suggests that people often heed only what reinforces their prejudices. Alduous Huxley once remarked “that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”  He thinks we are unteachable. But observation shows a kind of directed progress in systems, so real learning is taking place in some fashion. How, if it is difficult or even impossible for many individuals and institutions to learn? How is bad information removed from the system?

One possibility is that bad information is removed by failure. Extinction may be nature’s way of learning. While some companies are able to correct their mistakes, many incompetent enterprises vanish by simply going broke. They get yanked off the stage by a hook, as in the old time singing contests. Bankruptcy is capitalism’s way of learning.

In the case of a bureaucracy, which does not respond directly to market forces, extinction may take a more indirect route. Bureaucracies accumulate minor screw-ups until they conflagrate in some massive meltdown that takes down the whole institution with it.

Then nothing is left but ash and the learning has taken place. This notion is captured in the idea “too big to fail” which actually appears to mean “too unresponsive to learn”. The system is structured so that it is incapable of failing in parts so when it eventually fails — it fails catastrophically and completely.

Interestingly TBTF institutions can therefore be treated as a sump of bad information. They are storage batteries of really stupid ideas. Institutions which are small enough to fail are limited in the amount of nonsense they can contain. Beyond a certain point they fail; and by failing often in small doses they remake themselves constantly. By contrast TBTF institutions can trundle along oblivious to reality, storing up wacky ideas like a giant charge until the whole thing goes up in a flash of lightning.

This is probably what happened to the Atlanta Public School system. For year after year it was touted as one of the best run public school systems in the country until the whole thing fell over. Thirty five high ranking educators, including the superintendent were recently indicted for engaging “a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster student test scores and – as a result – receive bonuses for improved student performance.”

All the indicted educators are now out on bail. One moment they were being lionized in Atlanta. The next they were at the bail bondsman’s.

The APS behaved like a tremendous storage battery of lies and dishonesty. It never “learned” anything in Huxleyan sense. There was no subjective change in the minds of those who ran it. That kind of learning never took place. But the bad information was purged though, through extinction, that is to say via indictments on racketeering, theft and other crimes.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that the public will be glad to know that the pundits will now conclude that  Piers Morgan is right: if they’d only controlled guns the theater incident could have been avoided.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (31)
All Comments   (31)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Why are there so many quiet young men unexpectedly commiting violent crimes?
James Holmes, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Nidal Malik Hasan, Adam Lanza
And John David Stutts
You don't remember John David Stutts?
The man who shot Buckwheat in 1983 on a Saturday Night, Live on national television.
Like the others, his crime was completely unexpected.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7ms7i_saturday-night-live-john-david-stut_fun
John David Stutts spent his childhood here, in this modest home in Lima, Ohio. Everyone who knew him called him a loner, a quiet young man.
TED KOPPEL: (off camera)
Do you believe he killed Buckwheat?
MERCY SEAT BAPTIST CHURCH PASTOR: (without hesitation)
Oh, yes. Definitely. That's all he talked about.
TED KOPPEL: (off camera)
Do you believe he killed Buckwheat?
TEXXON STATION OWNER:
Oh, yes, definitely. That's all he talked about. I remember one day, I says, uh, "Stutts, why're you working so hard?" He says, "'Cause I'm saving up to buy a gun, so I can kill Buckwheat." (he shrugs his shoulders)
TED KOPPEL: (off camera)
Do you believe he killed Buckwheat?
SAUL THE TAILOR:
Oh, yes, definitely. That's all he ever talked about. Why, just the other day, he comes in and he says, "Saul, make me a new suit. I'm going to kill Buckwheat and I want to look good on television.

So many unexpected event going on in the world today.
I don't think I like living in a SNL skit. It doesn't seem that funny.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Appropriate to the preceding comments, it is painfully obvious that our governmental, political, and economic system is incapable of receiving and effectively responding to real world inputs. There is going to be a crash. The only choice is whether it will be a semi-controlled crash landing from which there may be some survivors who can rebuild, or it will be a full bore power dive into the ground. Complicating this is that there are foreign "friends" of those in control [regardless of party] who are not on our side and will benefit from the crash.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So: terrorism is a law & order criminal issue, but crime-fighting is increasingly being conducted as a counter-terror operation. Thus organized crime activity in the U.S. becomes "domestic terrorism" so that Consttutional safeguards can be bypassed, but Gitmo prisoners get treated like Mafia Dons and get all lawyered up. You know things are screwy when a government fears its own people more than it does its real enemies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
""""" SpaceX is perhaps the prime example. They have literally screwed up everything they have ever done, step by step, not only in terms of repeating the basic mistakes of the 1950's but in terms of major programmatic decisions """""

Perhaps one reason they repeated legacy mistakes is because the legacy launch personnel are long gone. There is virtually no institutional memory in the space programs world from my observation. That is a result of the huge discontinuity created by politicians for both NASA and AF space programs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As a career prosecutor, I can say with authority that our courts are the least effective tool we have to do anything, especially try terrorists. Do they really think that a jury verdict will frighten a man willing to bring down a passenger plane by blowing up his genitals?
"Poke him with the soft cushions!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If that doesn't work, simply escalate the terror, put him in the comfy chair.
You have to be ruthless when dealing with Jihadis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excellent piece. And in this framework the USRR was a perfect example of the TBTF mode - a large organization that accumulates nonsense (Socialism first and foremost) until it collapses catastrophically. Yet yet there are many (Hugo Chavez, etc.) who since then have advocated the same nonsense with the same results. Aldous Huxley was correct.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Progressives" are called that because their philosophy is to progress along a line of increasing control. They have to do that; it won't work any other way.

Progress to opening the mental hospitals in the name of Civil Rights and you have to progress to tight gun control.

Progress to universal free health care and you have progress to limiting soft drink sizes, restricting trans fats, and all the rest.

Progress to eliminating morality and you have to progress to enabling free abortions.

And it never, ever stops.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One problem with selling nukes on the open market is to imagine what would happen if some crazy speculator/philanthropist or bratty son of a billionaire decides to buy some of those things. Of course, as it is, North Korea shows what happens when the bratty son of a dictator plays around with nukes.

It was obvious that that numerous cheating scandals would break out after “No Child Left Behind”. So, what happened in the Atlanta Public School system is no surprise. The real wonder is that cheating isn't more widespread.

Some systems are designed to fail. Once certain rules are put into place, it is only a matter of time until somebody takes advantage of the loopholes. The military ignored the danger of Nidal Malik Hassan specifically because it was specifically programmed to ignore that danger.

Perhaps some people would rather die than to admit they are wrong. That is a particularly dangerous flaw against a Muslim enemy because opportunism is one of the primary psychological strengths that come from Islamic indoctrination. (The others are fanaticism, hospitality, and trading prowess. These strengths are generally outweighed by narrow-mindedness, pettiness, rudeness, and lack of industry.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"British intelligence officials sent the U.S. a cable warning about him."

They did the same regarding Benghazi. Both of these come about a decade after we we joined in war against Islam. These are not "a piece of paper fell behind the desk" situations. These are "coach got up in your face and yelled at you" situations. And the message was ignored. Deliberately.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“It's much easier to enact a new regulation of physical firearms characteristics, or soda size than () go up against a dysfunctional bureaucracy.”

I have come to believe that it is worse than that. If you take the feel good legislation along with commonly ignored legislation as a whole you have a completely different legal reality all together. Illegal immigration is ignored and 32oz soft drinks are banned. There was a place up in the mountains where many, including my friends and I, would target shoot our rifles and handguns. After the first Feinstein bill was passed the police would show up and confiscate any firearm or accessory that that the owner did not bother to bring the receipt for. The law no longer exists for the average person. It is a sea of grey that can only be uncovered by a powerful legal team. We are in a sense prisoners of a bureaucracy that publishes Newspeak and deals in Lawspeak and Lawfare. All systems are self-supporting by the sheer cohesiveness of authority, the power to tax and to incarcerate or at least to litigate to ruin anyone or any entity smaller than it.

In this model, successful do not adapt, they assimilate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Up here in the spotted owl infested woods of the Pacific NorthWet, the growth industry is steel fabrication under contract to the USFS, building gates for forest roads that used to be free and open and leading to wonderful places to shoot. Any outdoor-oriented BC'ers out there will acknowledge that the USFS's mission has become denying access to any area off pavement; the forests are their personal sanctuaries, and common citizens are no longer welcome in the wilderness.

My short-lived gold prospecting hobby was derailed by being run out of the woods by short fat women in green uniforms driving light-and-antenna-encrusted SUVs and carrying Sam Browns about their hips filled with weapons of communication, arrest, and death.

Idaho is trying thru the corrupt legal system of US Federal Law to regain control and ownership of the 3/4 of the state that is under occupation by the Feds. Other NW states are following (the) suit.

Read David Stockman.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All

One Trackback to “Avoiding The Evitable”