Clothes don’t make the blog

I was on a Web site devoted to providing instruction in a gamut of subjects (instructables.com).  I was looking for instructions on how to properly wear the keffiyeh I bought earlier in the year (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-wrap-a-Keffiyeh/).   

A keffiyeh is a garment of Middle Eastern origins.  My reason for wanting to know how to wear one follows.  The sad thing I discovered in looking at the comments that followed the simple keffiyeh wrapping instructions was some people trying to politicize the simple presence of a page instructing people how to wear a garment that some people associate with terrorism.  Instructables.com is an apolitical site.  It is there to show people that don’t know things how to do them, period.  This was my response to the post:

Thanks for the instructions.  The keffiyeh is an extremely practical garment.  I am going hunting tomorrow and it is supposed to be unseasonably warm.  I have a cold weather hunting balaclava, but it will be a bit too warm to wear.  I have a bright orange and black keffiyeh to go with my blaze orange and black hunting camouflage.  The first time I used the keffiyeh was at an outdoor garage sale where I was manning a booth in the sun for three+ hours.  It kept my very Caucasian skin from getting very burnt.  Its gauzy structure kept it from getting to be too warm.

For those who are trying to make this political because of its Semitic origins, please don’t go there.  I am a Jew, an American patriot, and a Zionist.  As much as the world tends to forget, Arabs and Jews have a common parentage and a common region.  The keffiyeh is not a religious garment, it is a garment of the desert nomad.  At one time, most of us Semitic folks were nomads in desert areas.  I was in the US Army and was stationed in the desert for three years.  I wish I knew how to wear one of these back then. We wore gauze cravats like keffiyehs but they didn’t stay in place as well and were not so easily converted back and forth to face covers.  My wearing of a keffiyeh does not make me any more of a Palestinian sympathizer than my wearing of an ushanka (the Russian ear-flap hat) makes me a fan of Vladimir Putin.  As a person of Ukrainian heritage, I despise Putin because he embodies the egotistical oligarchical leader who seems to think he is better and smarter than everyone else.  That doesn’t make me want to trade in my ushanka for a ski cap or ear muffs.

When I was a soldier, the Army implemented the PASGT, styled after the German Bundeswehr’s Gefechtshelm (helmet with ear covering that is favored by bikers).  That didn’t me a Nazi.  We wore ponchos too.  They have their origins in South and Central America.  

The bottom line is this, in America, we have a creole culture.  We see it in our arts, cuisine, language, and clothing.  Our nation has been fortunate enough to be able to borrow from the hundreds (if not thousands) of cultures of our citizens.  Let’s not be so ignorant and naive to think that we Americans should avoid cultural garb because it has its origins in cultures some of us might not agree with.

The only solution to domestic terrorism

After the latest tragedy to hit Colorado, let’s hope the governments of the individual states and the federal government don’t make the same mistakes they have made to this point.  Metal detectors, full-body scanners, and bomb sniffing dogs would have all failed to prevent the shooting.  What needs to be done is what El Al Israel Airlines does.  El Al actively profiles everyone, not based on what they look like, but based on what they do.  The entire shooting could have been stopped by an old-fashioned theatre usher with a walkie-talkie that was trained in recognizing suspicious behavior.  In a theatre, profiling behavior is not all that complicated because there is a very small set of activities a theatre patron can perform without rousing suspicion: buying a ticket, buying popcorn, watching the movie, going to the bathroom, playing an arcade game, and leaving the theatre.

When the gunman left the theatre by an emergency exit only minutes into the movie, an usher that was paying attention would think it was strange for someone to have stayed up until midnight and purchase a $12 movie ticket just to run out on one of the most anticipated movies of the year.  All the usher would have had to do was walk down to the emergency door and check to make sure it was closed.  Apparently, the gunman propped the door on the way out, suited up for his killing spree, and returned minutes later.  The usher would have had to remove whatever the prop was and pull the door closed.  If the usher followed that with a quick call to the front desk of the theatre, a place that usually has one or two police officers nearby, the officers could have gone outside to see a frustrated gunman trying to break through a very heavy fire door that was designed to only open from the inside.

With his knowledge of binary chemical agents, the murderer could have even brought weapons into the theatre that would not show up on an x-ray or metal detector, and would be undetectable by dogs.  People trained in behavioral profiling would have spotted him long before he got to the place he could have used those things.  If you aren’t sure about this idea of behavioral profiling, take these two bits of information into consideration.  Since 1948, El Al has had only one hijacking.  Its most sophisticated weapon against terror is a pair of well-trained eyes.  Second, if you don’t believe in the ability of an observant person to predict someone’s actions merely by watching, then attend the World Series of Poker.  Doyle Brunson, a legend of the game, has made a career out of predicting the actions of an opponent through observing the slightest behaviors known as “tells.”  While maybe not as good as Doyle, there are tens of thousands of people in the US that have similar skills and make lots of money using them.

Instead of gambling with our security by putting fairly useless technology in the field, we need to invest in the finest machine walking the face of the Earth, a human being.