Category: Steve Campbell

The Grim Lessons of Charles Whitman


Texas Monthly Magazine published an in-depth story for the 40th anniversary of this episode in American history.  It is entitled “96 Minutes” – you know why.  It contains many quotes from individuals who were there or were immediately affected by those events. If, after you read that, Whitman’s Lessons are not then apparent, then come back and read on, because those lessons are here named and explained.

I. There will be warnings.

Whitman sought out psychiatric help.  He mentioned that the Tower would be a great place from which to shoot people.

From the note he left behind:

I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.  After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is any visible physical disorder[.] … Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.

II. There are reasons.

This type of behavior does not occur at random.  People see trouble coming, but they don’t imagine the magnitude of consequences.

Was it his abusive childhood?  His overwhelming anger?  The amphetamines he consumed, observed one friend, “like popcorn”?

This reporter has seen his type a few times before.  There are tales of more.  They go along, these amphetamine addicts, energetic and good-natured, until they explode.  To reinforce that anecdotal information, the reader is encouraged to research the term “amphetamine psychosis.”

Charles Whitman was:

… a good son, a top Boy Scout, an excellent Marine, an honor student, a hard worker, a loving husband, a fine scout master, a handsome man, a wonderful friend to all who knew him – and an expert sniper.

He himself recognized the symptoms (but not the cause) and asked for help that never arrived.  One might doubt that the danger was known at the time.  A bit of research turned this up:

… a letter by P.H. Connell published in the British Medical Journal on March 9, 1957 … “[a] common result of amphetamine intoxication is the development of a paranoid psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia, during which the patient may be a serious social danger,” he wrote.

III. Help will not be in time to save you.

In the absence of any visible police presence, students decided to defend themselves.

The police were armed with revolvers and shotguns.  Neither was effective against an enemy atop a 300-foot tower shooting over a chest-high wall.

The populace of U.T. and Austin in 1966 was an armed society.  These people felt every right to defend themselves, and they did so in numbers.  Among civilians, students and police were those who owned high-powered rifles, many with scopes for long-range targeting.  Within 20 minutes, they began to return fire on Whitman, who was forced to give up his place shooting over the wall and from then on shot only through the drain holes at the base of the deck.

In the seventy-odd minutes after that, only one more fatality occurred.  When the Tower deck was “stormed” by a lone cop with a revolver, backed up by a volunteer with a shotgun, Whitman was prone on the deck, with his rifle’s barrel through a drain hole.  While he was furiously reversing the rifle out to shoot these “intruders,” he met the revolver bullets – all of them.  The officer then grabbed the shotgun and emptied that as well.

Had Whitman been standing to shoot over the wall and undistracted by return fire, it might have been a very different story.  Thanks, armed society!

IV. Do not dwell on the tragedy.

This one is not immediately obvious. 

In the aftermath, don’t glorify or name the shooter.  Don’t dwell on the event.  It might be best to just shut up about it – perhaps for many years.  Excess attention to the event makes it, in some twisted minds, an exaltation of the actions of the maniac, and that seems to promote similar events.  It is known that the publication of suicide stories is a stimulus for more suicides.  That once kept people from publishing such stories.  The incident was not spoken of much. 

A similar event did not occur until 1984 in San Ysidro, California.  Another disturbed individual went on a rampage in a fast food restaurant.  Among civilians, nobody shot back at all.  The police did have a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, which arrived only after the majority of deaths had occurred.  Whitman’s Third Lesson had been ignored, and the shooter had managed to kill 21 and wound 19 others.

The San Ysidro perpetrator had called a mental health clinic and said he had a problem on the day before the event.  He made an “offhand” comment about hunting humans on the morning of the incident.  Whitman’s First Lesson was ignored as well.

Was the 18-year gap a result of the reluctance to talk about Whitman?  Perhaps.  Whitman’s Fourth Lesson could be said to have been postulated that day.  Ensuing years seem to have confirmed it – in a negative and tragic way – as the rhetoric about shooting incidents increased and the gaps between such incidents shortened.

The current state of affairs: Paralysis

There have been more and more arms restrictions and regulation.  The role of defenders has been taken away from the people and deposited with SWAT teams.  Has it improved the situation?  Not at all! 

Perpetrators are being spotted in advance, but their actions and words are ignored by the very authorities charged with defending the public.  Schools are institutionally disarmed and advertised as such.  Crimes that would disqualify perpetrators from purchasing weapons under existing laws are not being prosecuted.  And some of these shooters seem to have been taking drugs with dangerous side-effects.

So how would we solve these problems?

Let’s take the first two together. 

The warning and the reason

The answer would have been to take Whitman’s Warning seriously and help him to give up his speed habit.  Medical science knew the reason, even if Whitman himself did not.  If someone had described the problem to him, he might have cooperated with the solution – he wanted to get better!

Don’t wait for help

They didn’t.  How many were saved by the return fire is uncertain, but it is unquestionably “many.”  The armed society also – albeit unknowingly – paved the way for the final assault on Whitman’s “fortress.”

Your defense is your responsibility. Blaming others is denial.  That you were unprepared is tragic, regrettable, forgivable, even understandable – but not correctable. 

The stark reality of Whitman’s Third Lesson is this: the best way to deal with a mass shooter is to aim your own gun and shoot back.  Even if you miss, you may save lives.

That last thing

What shall we call it?  Forbearance?  Discretion?  Responsibility?  Don’t talk so much?  If mere chronology is any indicator, keeping quiet about Whitman perhaps delayed for 18 years any repeat of the situation.  These days, not a year seems to pass without one, while the media analyze and accuse for as long as ratings persist.

Perhaps there is a time to shut up about the subject?

Steve Campbell attended the University of Texas at Austin some years after the Whitman Event.  See his writings at Goingwalkabout.blog.

The era of mass public shootings began with Charles Whitman in 1966.  He taught us all we need to know to prevent or minimize such events.  We ignored his lessons.

On August first of that year,Whitman rode the elevator to the top of the Clock Tower at the University of Texas at Austin.  He rolled a hand truck along with him that carried a footlocker full of guns and ammunition.  Soon after ensued the first mass murder in a public place in America.

Texas Monthly Magazine published an in-depth story for the 40th anniversary of this episode in American history.  It is entitled “96 Minutes” – you know why.  It contains many quotes from individuals who were there or were immediately affected by those events. If, after you read that, Whitman’s Lessons are not then apparent, then come back and read on, because those lessons are here named and explained.

I. There will be warnings.

Whitman sought out psychiatric help.  He mentioned that the Tower would be a great place from which to shoot people.

From the note he left behind:

I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.  After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is any visible physical disorder[.] … Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.

II. There are reasons.

This type of behavior does not occur at random.  People see trouble coming, but they don’t imagine the magnitude of consequences.

Was it his abusive childhood?  His overwhelming anger?  The amphetamines he consumed, observed one friend, “like popcorn”?

This reporter has seen his type a few times before.  There are tales of more.  They go along, these amphetamine addicts, energetic and good-natured, until they explode.  To reinforce that anecdotal information, the reader is encouraged to research the term “amphetamine psychosis.”

Charles Whitman was:

… a good son, a top Boy Scout, an excellent Marine, an honor student, a hard worker, a loving husband, a fine scout master, a handsome man, a wonderful friend to all who knew him – and an expert sniper.

He himself recognized the symptoms (but not the cause) and asked for help that never arrived.  One might doubt that the danger was known at the time.  A bit of research turned this up:

… a letter by P.H. Connell published in the British Medical Journal on March 9, 1957 … “[a] common result of amphetamine intoxication is the development of a paranoid psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia, during which the patient may be a serious social danger,” he wrote.

III. Help will not be in time to save you.

In the absence of any visible police presence, students decided to defend themselves.

The police were armed with revolvers and shotguns.  Neither was effective against an enemy atop a 300-foot tower shooting over a chest-high wall.

The populace of U.T. and Austin in 1966 was an armed society.  These people felt every right to defend themselves, and they did so in numbers.  Among civilians, students and police were those who owned high-powered rifles, many with scopes for long-range targeting.  Within 20 minutes, they began to return fire on Whitman, who was forced to give up his place shooting over the wall and from then on shot only through the drain holes at the base of the deck.

In the seventy-odd minutes after that, only one more fatality occurred.  When the Tower deck was “stormed” by a lone cop with a revolver, backed up by a volunteer with a shotgun, Whitman was prone on the deck, with his rifle’s barrel through a drain hole.  While he was furiously reversing the rifle out to shoot these “intruders,” he met the revolver bullets – all of them.  The officer then grabbed the shotgun and emptied that as well.

Had Whitman been standing to shoot over the wall and undistracted by return fire, it might have been a very different story.  Thanks, armed society!

IV. Do not dwell on the tragedy.

This one is not immediately obvious. 

In the aftermath, don’t glorify or name the shooter.  Don’t dwell on the event.  It might be best to just shut up about it – perhaps for many years.  Excess attention to the event makes it, in some twisted minds, an exaltation of the actions of the maniac, and that seems to promote similar events.  It is known that the publication of suicide stories is a stimulus for more suicides.  That once kept people from publishing such stories.  The incident was not spoken of much. 

A similar event did not occur until 1984 in San Ysidro, California.  Another disturbed individual went on a rampage in a fast food restaurant.  Among civilians, nobody shot back at all.  The police did have a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, which arrived only after the majority of deaths had occurred.  Whitman’s Third Lesson had been ignored, and the shooter had managed to kill 21 and wound 19 others.

The San Ysidro perpetrator had called a mental health clinic and said he had a problem on the day before the event.  He made an “offhand” comment about hunting humans on the morning of the incident.  Whitman’s First Lesson was ignored as well.

Was the 18-year gap a result of the reluctance to talk about Whitman?  Perhaps.  Whitman’s Fourth Lesson could be said to have been postulated that day.  Ensuing years seem to have confirmed it – in a negative and tragic way – as the rhetoric about shooting incidents increased and the gaps between such incidents shortened.

The current state of affairs: Paralysis

There have been more and more arms restrictions and regulation.  The role of defenders has been taken away from the people and deposited with SWAT teams.  Has it improved the situation?  Not at all! 

Perpetrators are being spotted in advance, but their actions and words are ignored by the very authorities charged with defending the public.  Schools are institutionally disarmed and advertised as such.  Crimes that would disqualify perpetrators from purchasing weapons under existing laws are not being prosecuted.  And some of these shooters seem to have been taking drugs with dangerous side-effects.

So how would we solve these problems?

Let’s take the first two together. 

The warning and the reason

The answer would have been to take Whitman’s Warning seriously and help him to give up his speed habit.  Medical science knew the reason, even if Whitman himself did not.  If someone had described the problem to him, he might have cooperated with the solution – he wanted to get better!

Don’t wait for help

They didn’t.  How many were saved by the return fire is uncertain, but it is unquestionably “many.”  The armed society also – albeit unknowingly – paved the way for the final assault on Whitman’s “fortress.”

Your defense is your responsibility. Blaming others is denial.  That you were unprepared is tragic, regrettable, forgivable, even understandable – but not correctable. 

The stark reality of Whitman’s Third Lesson is this: the best way to deal with a mass shooter is to aim your own gun and shoot back.  Even if you miss, you may save lives.

That last thing

What shall we call it?  Forbearance?  Discretion?  Responsibility?  Don’t talk so much?  If mere chronology is any indicator, keeping quiet about Whitman perhaps delayed for 18 years any repeat of the situation.  These days, not a year seems to pass without one, while the media analyze and accuse for as long as ratings persist.

Perhaps there is a time to shut up about the subject?

Steve Campbell attended the University of Texas at Austin some years after the Whitman Event.  See his writings at Goingwalkabout.blog.



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The Great Hurricane Absence


You will see story after story in the news about how hurricanes are stronger and more frequent. They will tell you that Harvey and Irma are the worst-ever storms and are unprecedented. They will scare up the looming threat of “Global Warming” as if it were a proven fact. They will say that Al Gore predicted this a decade ago in his movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006).

Do not be fooled. That is all a lie. While Harvey and Irma were devastating, they were far from “the worst”. Global Warming has proven to be a myth. Al Gore was dead wrong then and now. What Gore predicted was the exact opposite of what happened. Hurricanes are right now less frequent and milder on average than they were when Vice President Al Gore made that movie.

The data on hurricanes is widely and freely available. So, there is no excuse for the panic-mongering regarding this subject.

The “Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)” index is calculated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Accumulated Cyclone Energy — An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.

This is basically a measure of seasonal hurricane strength as it varies from year to year and should definitively answer the question of whether hurricanes are stronger and more frequent, or not.

The chart below shows the data for 1985 to 2016:

Accumulated Cyclone Energy 1985 to 2016

While there was indeed a peak in 2005, the index has been substantially less – not only in the actual year of Al Gore’s movie debut, but also in every year since then.

To address the frequency of hurricanes, let us examine another NOAA dataset.

The graph below shows the number of days between major hurricane landfalls in the United States. Major Hurricanes are defined as category 3,4 or 5. 

Days Between Landfall of Major Hurricanes in the U.S. Credit NOAA

You see that the dates of the original graph (produced by Roger Pielke Jr.) were from 1900 to June 15, 2017. A new record gap between storms had occurred at that time. This author has added (the orange parts) the intervening time to show the end of the Great Hurricane Absence. You see that this gap (nearly twelve years) is almost twice as long as the previous record in 1900. The “trend” (red line) is now toward slightly longer gaps between storms. i.e., Strong hurricanes are less frequent now.

The IPCC’s website defines their purpose:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change… The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is the Fifth Assessment Report which was finalized in November 2014.

With that in mind, here is the IPCC’s statement on hurricane frequency:

IPCC AR5 (2013) Working Group I, Chapter 2

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.

The deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas. Speaking from my own family’s oral history:

My great-grandfather Ben was visiting his brother in Galveston when all were trapped by a rising storm surge that reached the attic of the two-story house before it broke apart. Ben was washed across Galveston Bay to Hitchcock, Texas in the midst of that devastating tempest. By then, Ben had lost his brother and all his brother’s family, who died along with six to ten thousand others on the island and the mainland (Galveston had less than 38,000 inhabitants at the time). Ben barely survived by clinging to a wooden bedstead while being torn by building debris with lots of exposed nails.

Ben told his tale and showed his horrible scars to his little granddaughter who later told her son – that’s me. This makes the 1900 storm very real to this author.  

Now that you have the real story, read and watch as the alarmists try to tell you that Harvey or Irma is the worst storm ever and these hundred-year storms are happening every year.

You can tell them of the “Great Hurricane Absence” and show them these graphs. You can quote the IPCC, a group founded to study (allegedly objectively) the idea of manmade climate change. You can tell them that the deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas.

When you tell the alarmists, they will not believe you because it does not fit their narrative of “Global Warming.” To them, nothing that happened before they were born was real. And nothing since then that does not fit their myth, is fact.

Steve Campbell is a geophysicist idled by the Shale Revolution. Read his blog and contact him at Goingwalkabout.blog. Please include job leads.

 

You will see story after story in the news about how hurricanes are stronger and more frequent. They will tell you that Harvey and Irma are the worst-ever storms and are unprecedented. They will scare up the looming threat of “Global Warming” as if it were a proven fact. They will say that Al Gore predicted this a decade ago in his movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006).

Do not be fooled. That is all a lie. While Harvey and Irma were devastating, they were far from “the worst”. Global Warming has proven to be a myth. Al Gore was dead wrong then and now. What Gore predicted was the exact opposite of what happened. Hurricanes are right now less frequent and milder on average than they were when Vice President Al Gore made that movie.

The data on hurricanes is widely and freely available. So, there is no excuse for the panic-mongering regarding this subject.

The “Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)” index is calculated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Accumulated Cyclone Energy — An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.

This is basically a measure of seasonal hurricane strength as it varies from year to year and should definitively answer the question of whether hurricanes are stronger and more frequent, or not.

The chart below shows the data for 1985 to 2016:

Accumulated Cyclone Energy 1985 to 2016

While there was indeed a peak in 2005, the index has been substantially less – not only in the actual year of Al Gore’s movie debut, but also in every year since then.

To address the frequency of hurricanes, let us examine another NOAA dataset.

The graph below shows the number of days between major hurricane landfalls in the United States. Major Hurricanes are defined as category 3,4 or 5. 

Days Between Landfall of Major Hurricanes in the U.S. Credit NOAA

You see that the dates of the original graph (produced by Roger Pielke Jr.) were from 1900 to June 15, 2017. A new record gap between storms had occurred at that time. This author has added (the orange parts) the intervening time to show the end of the Great Hurricane Absence. You see that this gap (nearly twelve years) is almost twice as long as the previous record in 1900. The “trend” (red line) is now toward slightly longer gaps between storms. i.e., Strong hurricanes are less frequent now.

The IPCC’s website defines their purpose:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change… The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is the Fifth Assessment Report which was finalized in November 2014.

With that in mind, here is the IPCC’s statement on hurricane frequency:

IPCC AR5 (2013) Working Group I, Chapter 2

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.

The deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas. Speaking from my own family’s oral history:

My great-grandfather Ben was visiting his brother in Galveston when all were trapped by a rising storm surge that reached the attic of the two-story house before it broke apart. Ben was washed across Galveston Bay to Hitchcock, Texas in the midst of that devastating tempest. By then, Ben had lost his brother and all his brother’s family, who died along with six to ten thousand others on the island and the mainland (Galveston had less than 38,000 inhabitants at the time). Ben barely survived by clinging to a wooden bedstead while being torn by building debris with lots of exposed nails.

Ben told his tale and showed his horrible scars to his little granddaughter who later told her son – that’s me. This makes the 1900 storm very real to this author.  

Now that you have the real story, read and watch as the alarmists try to tell you that Harvey or Irma is the worst storm ever and these hundred-year storms are happening every year.

You can tell them of the “Great Hurricane Absence” and show them these graphs. You can quote the IPCC, a group founded to study (allegedly objectively) the idea of manmade climate change. You can tell them that the deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas.

When you tell the alarmists, they will not believe you because it does not fit their narrative of “Global Warming.” To them, nothing that happened before they were born was real. And nothing since then that does not fit their myth, is fact.

Steve Campbell is a geophysicist idled by the Shale Revolution. Read his blog and contact him at Goingwalkabout.blog. Please include job leads.

 



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