Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Captain’s Journal

This week’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, The Captain’s Journal, has been around for a very long time in blog time. As we approach our one-year anniversary, we realize we’ve been reading Herschel Smith for six years, and knowing the effort blogging takes rather better than we did before we tried it our own damnselves, we’re impressed.

Smith is a retired Marine officer and combat veteran whose son is also a combat veteran. He provides a unique Marine-scented insight to current issues of war and peace, and often enough shares his adumbrations on weapons from handguns to nukes. We don’t always agree with him (hell, we don’t always agree with us) but we do so often enough that he’s in the read once-a-week tickler. (If we were going back to the sandbox, we’d probably kick that up to read daily).

Monday Smith had an excellent post that, in a few hundred words, illustrated just why he’s so good. He distilled the current armor plate brouhaha in the press down to its basics — some plates are badly manufactured. (This is nothing new. We were doing the “ping test” on our plates in SF six years ago when he started blogging, and the press is just waking up to it). He went on from there to make several points you will not see in the media coverage: it was pretty dumb to outsource production of these to China for environmental reasons, and hey, isn’t moving hazardous and toxic industrial processes offshore hypocritical? You will not see that argument elsewhere. He also expresses caution about quoting the Strategy Page, which (like some gun blogs, who ought to do better) like to put things up unsourced and unlinked.

I usually don’t like citing Strategy Page for anything.  They don’t provide sources, and if it’s public domain (as it is from time to time), they don’t supply URLs.  I also think that this particular Strategy Page article spends too much effort to explain something fairly simple.

Personally, we don’t quote them for another reason: it’s a bunch of guys who became experts on strategy by dint of playing board wargames. “Ha hah, I just took Stalingrad.”  Around here, we read the grown-ups’ war pages, thank you very much.

We will take one point of disagreement with Smith’s China/ESAPI article to you readers, though: while he’s correct in citing China as a place with a complete absence of a QA culture (communism and 5-year-plans will do that to you), he’s wrong in including Japan. Japan not only internalized a QA culture thanks to W. Edwards Deming, they brought it back to the United States, where Deming was a prophet without honor in the 1970s. You can’t get through a B-school curriculum these days without spending time on the kaizen concept, which is a process of continuous improvement in manufacturing (or service) processes that would strike Henry Ford as familiar, and the 1970-up heads of General Motors as weird and foreign. You can’t lump Japanese culture in with Chinese. (Exercise for the reader: drive a Toyota for a week. Then go back to your American car or truck. If you can). However, Japan was legendary for shoddy merchandise and slipshod manufacturing from the 1930s up until those same 1970s when the US motor manufacturers lost their way. If the Japanese could turn it around in thirty years, taking “Made in Japan” from a watchword for cheap schlock to a mark of pride, there’s no reason China can’t, too — or the US, for that matter.

On Tuesday — yesterday -- Recently (note: this post was made in September, not this week as we thought — Ed.) he branched off in a different direction, with a well-crafted Christian apologetic for the human right and duty of self-defense. His conclusion, and first update, is notable:

Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right. It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image. It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss. Finally, self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14).

UPDATE #1: David Codrea wisely remarks:

It’s not an easy subject to tackle.

I’ve always been kind of partial to this 1747 Philadelphia sermon, cited in the above:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one who has no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God has enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend [it]self.

Thanks David.

The original is link-rich, another reason we are very fond of Herschel Smith’s blog and a reason we’re linking it for you today as the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. We almost hate to send you there, because it’s so good you might not come back.

Update: this post has been edited. The link to the Christian self defense theory article has been corrected, and a couple of typos have been fixed. Thanks to the reader who phoned with the correction.