Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'll take some

Officials in New York say that ammunition that has been found at the bottom of New York Harbor may be from a barge that broke up and dumped its cargo in the 1950's.  They say that the ammunition probably isn't dangerous because of water getting into the cartridges.

However, I'd like to be on the record as saying that if any of this ammunition is viable and sealed in spam cans, I'd be interested in taking it off of their hands.

I've got CMP .30-06 that was manufactured in 1953, and ComBloc 7.62x54r that was manufactured in the 1960's.  The cans the 54r came in look like they were buried under a tool shed behind an apartment building before they were dug up, dusted off, and sold to the importer.  The M-2 ball is in great shape, although it must have been stored in a cow barn somewhere in England until the CMP got hold of it.

It amazes me when people won't shoot bullets that are more than a couple of years old.  As long as they're intact and don't show corrosion, I'll use them.

If Secretary Panetta is interested in letting me dispose of any viable ammunition his crew may find, I can be contacted through the comments.  I'll be waiting.

Do a Good Guy a Favor

Larry Correia, author of the Monster Hunter International and Grimnoir Chronicles series, has his next book coming out on July 26.  He's asking as many of us who want to read it and can afford it to either pre-order it or buy it the first week it's out.  He's hoping to repeat the success that his other books have enjoyed and drum up a little more publicity for his books and his publisher.

I've read the three books that he's published so far, and so has Girlie Bear.  If you're looking for a book that you can share with family or friends, these should fit the bill.

So, if you can and are going to read it anyway, why not do the author a good turn and buy it when it will do the most good?

Every Unit Has One

So no kidding.  There I was:

Ring Ring

I picked up the phone and intoned the litany of a proper military phone answer:

"3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, th MI Battalion, SGT DaddyBear speaking.  This line is not secure and this conversation is being recorded.  How may I help you?"

"Sergeant DaddyBear?  This is Sergeant First Class Rawhide.  Is there anyone else in the office?"
"No Sergeant, I released the rest of the squad after Retreat.  What's up?"
"Are you in a decent uniform, or have you been crawling under your track all day?"
"I'm OK, Sergeant.  We were doing first aid training today in the office."
"Good.  Make sure you look good and get down to the CO's office ASAP."
"On my way, Sergeant."

"What's going on now?", I thought as I put down the receiver.  I'd been in SFC Rawhide's platoon for a few months after coming back from Germany, and I'd never heard his voice so stern.  I'd taken over as a team leader and assistant squad leader just that week when the last guy had been promoted to Staff Sergeant and rotated out to one of the instruction battalions on our little training post.  Basically, as team leader I made sure five other soldiers, four male and one female, showed up for work, got their jobs done, and got what they needed.  I was beginning to realize that being assistant anything means you do the parts of the job the boss doesn't like to do.  Staff Sergeant Schwanz, the squad leader, didn't like paperwork or the personnel side of his job, so I had spent a lot of time that week doing counseling sessions, signing maintenance reports on our armored vehicles and equipment, and filling out duty schedules for the next month or so. 

That morning, instead of conducting the first aid training himself, the SSG Schwanz had grabbed a couple of guys who he was cozy with and disappeared for the day.  I assumed he'd gone down to the motor pool, signed out one of our trucks, and spent the day driving around up in the mountains.  He'd made a habit of that since coming to the squad about a month after me.  Rank hath its privilege with him.

I wiped a cloth across my boots, checked my uniform in the mirror on the Lieutenant's office door, and headed down the hall to company headquarters.

As I got to the commander's office, I noticed a line of people waiting for me.  Lieutenant Schatzie, my platoon leader, was talking to SFC Rawhide.  SSG Schwanz was standing next to one of my guys that he'd taken off with, Specialist Bulldog.  As I came down the corridor, 2LT Schatzie poked her head in Captain Goodman's door.

"SGT DaddyBear is here, sir."

CPT Goodman and First Sergeant Maruchan came out of the office at the same time as I reached it. 

"SGT DaddyBear, line up with the rest of the chain of command."

"Yes, sir.  May I ask what is going on, sir?"

"You mean you don't know?"

"No, sir."

"You'll figure it out as we get through this.  Just keep your mouth shut unless directly spoken to, OK?"

"Gotcha, sir."

I went to the back of our little line and the Captain started off, followed by 1SG Maruchan, 1LT Schatzie, SFC Rawhide, SSG Schwanz, SPC Bulldog, and then me.  We didn't quite march, but it was definitely a coordinated rank that wound its way to the Battalion Commander's area in the other wing of our building.

When we got there, the Captain knocked on the BC's door, then he and the Lieutenant went inside.  As we waited for them to come out, the Battalion Command Sergeant Major, CSM Motorpool came out of his office.  He glared his way down our rank, but he spent most of his energy trying to burn a hole through SPC Bulldog's forehead with his gaze. 

"What in hell is going on?" I thought.  An after-hours meeting with your entire chain of command and one of your soldiers means only one thing:  Bulldog was in big trouble.  I'd known him since I'd come to the unit and he'd been my neighbor in the barracks.  He had a reputation as a hard drinker and a partier, but I'd never seen him do anything wrong while on duty.  He didn't have a car, so a DUI was unlikely.  I looked at Bulldog, but he was glaring back at the CSM as intently as the CSM was glaring at him. 

After a few minutes of watching a very junior soldier and a very senior soldier try to kill each other with their minds, the Captain came out and ordered us into the BC's office.  CSM Motorpool followed me in.  We all squeezed into the periphery of the room, with the CSM taking a position behind Lieutenant-Colonel Wing's desk and Bulldog standing at attention directly in front of his desk. 

Bulldog raised his hand in salute and barked "Sir!  Specialist Bulldog reporting to the battalion commander as ordered!".

The BC returned the salute, but didn't tell Bulldog or the rest of us to stand at ease.  One more bad sign.  LTC Wing was the most casual senior officer I'd ever met, to the point that he'd offered me a cold Coke during my introductory meeting with him in May.

"SPC Bulldog, you are here because you are accused of violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, specifically Articles 92 and 134."

Article 134?  Article 92 was the one that dealt with disobeying an order, but what in hades was Article 134?

The BC read Bulldog his rights under Article 32, which is basically the Miranda warning you hear on TV, right to remain silent, right to counsel, etc. He signed the form he'd read from and then told Bulldog to sign it signifying that he understood his rights.

Then he got to the meat of it:

In March of that year, one of the sergeants in Bulldog's old platoon had thrown a bash.  Apparently it was quite a blow-out, because I'd heard about it when I got to the unit the following month.  He was going away for a deployment to Kuwait and decided to clean out the liquor cabinet before winging his way to the land of no alcohol.  I'd known Sergeant Clueless and his wife when both of them been one class ahead of me in language school.  He'd been, well, clueless, but had been a good sort and graduated by the skin of his teeth.  His then girlfriend was the opposite.  She was brilliant in school, and had a lot of time to enjoy herself while the rest of us pulled our hair out. She became one of the principal party girls in our company.  If someone got in trouble because of sex or alcohol, she was either the cause of it or was in the vicinity. 

Apparently, once her husband and most everyone else was passed out after the party, she'd grabbed Bulldog and headed upstairs for a quick bit of horizontal mambo.  Why she didn't grab her husband instead of one of his soldiers is still a mystery to me.  Clueless worshipped the ground his wife, now a stay at home mom, walked on, and would have gladly woken up from a drunken stupor to attend to her.

The next morning, Clueless flew off to the desert, his wife cleaned up from the party, and Bulldog went back to the barracks.  While the night before might have been a very bad idea, if they had kept their mouths shut, it would have been a secret kept better than anything our little MI unit dealt with.  But of course, someone talked, and that someone was Bulldog.  Like I said, he was a drinker, and he'd bragged to another troop about his escapades during a weekend of partying.  After this troop sobered up, he wrote a letter to Sergeant Clueless in Kuwait, detailing what had happened.

Needless to say, Clueless was snorting and pawing at the dirt when he came home in July.  He confronted his wife with the story right there at the airport, and she apparently was not only gleeful in admitting that she'd done it, but went into detail into what had happened.  She handed him divorce papers, turned on her heel, and walked out of the airport.

Luckily for both Clueless and Bulldog, the battalion's driver that night was a big guy who had served with Clueless in Desert Storm, so after picking Clueless up, he was able to keep him from going up to the barracks and killing Bulldog with his bare hands that night.  He probably did one of the smartest things he'd ever done by putting Clueless into one of the transient rooms at the staff duty officer's desk and calling the chain of command. 

Clueless and Bulldog's platoon sergeant came in, had a long conversation with Clueless, and spent the rest of the night finding a new place for Bulldog in SFC Rawhide's platoon.  He also brought 1SG Maruchan up to speed, who reported the situation to CPT Goodman.  At that point, a personal matter that probably should have been taken care of with a fist fight exploded into a shitstorm of epic proportions.

CPT Goodman was one of the most religious men I'd ever met.  He took his faith as seriously as he did his duty, but didn't push others to follow him in it.  He led by example, and by that example he hoped others would find their own faith.  Unfortunately for Bulldog, he was also as straight as a laser when it came to morals and regulations.  Breaking one of the Ten Commandments and a regulation with the wife of a fellow soldier was a ticket straight to his office and his ire.

CPT Goodman brought Bulldog into his office along with the Lieutenant and tried to talk to him about the situation, but Bulldog pretty much told him that it was none of his business and accused the Captain of singling him out because he was an atheist.  The Captain read Article 134, Adultery, to him, but Bulldog wouldn't relent.  Yes, Virginia, sleeping with a married person that you're not married to is a crime in the military.   My guess is that the Captain was trying to give him a slap on the wrist over it so that Clueless would feel that justice had been meted out, but Bulldog wasn't cooperating.

Bulldog was moved from his platoon to mine, and put in my squad.  A week later, not knowing anything about this (I made it a habit of not listening to the rumor mill in the company.  Duh.), I took over as his team leader.  The NCO I took over for didn't give me much of an in-brief, and didn't mention anything about Bulldog's situation.  I'd planned on having a "Hi, I'm your new boss" session with him that Friday, where I would have probably learned about this drama, but the BC had moved quickly when a very angry Captain Goodman had decided that he could no longer be impartial and had kicked the matter up to the Battalion Commander.

LTC Wing looked up from the paperwork he'd been reading from and centered Bulldog squarely in his gaze.

"SPC Bulldog, do you understand the charges against you, in that you committed adultery and then disobeyed a lawful order?"
"Yes, sir, but if I can explain..."
"SPC Bulldog, have you read the statements that CPT Goodman and SGT Clueless provided?"
"Yes, sir, I have."
"SPC Bulldog, did you have sexual relations with Mrs. Clueless as detailed in the statement from SGT Clueless?", asked the BC.
"Yes, sir, but let me explain..."
"SPC Bulldog, did you, after being ordered by CPT Goodman not to, contact SGT Clueless and his wife?"
"Yes, sir, but if I can just tell you..."
"SPC Bulldog, have you spoken with an attorney about this matter?  If so, do you wish to stop these proceedings while we bring that lawyer here?"
"Yes, sir, SSG Schwanz took me to JAG today.  I don't think it'll be necessary to bring a lawyer in on this."
"SPC Bulldog, do you consent to allow me to decide on your guilt and punishment, or do you wish to have a court martial convened?  I want you to know that if you ask for a court martial, the punishment if you are found guilty is much heavier than what you will receive if I handle it and find you guilty."
"Sir, I don't think that a court martial will be necessary.  I'd like you to handle this."
"Is there anything you want to add that will mitigate your admitted guilt in this matter, SPC Bulldog?"
"Yes sir, there is.  Sir, this is horseshit."
"Aw crap" I thought.
"Excuse me, Specialist?"
"Sir, I admit that I had sex with Mrs. Clueless, but it was consensual, off post, and no-one got hurt.  She was planning on divorcing SGT Clueless anyway.  And I tried to talk to them so that we could find a way to take care of this without someone making a federal case out of it."
"Anything else, Specialist?"
"No, sir."
"All right, then I need nothing more from you.  SPC Bulldog, I find that you are guilty of willfully violating Articles 92 and 134 of the UCMJ.  I sentence you to the harshest punishment I can as a field grade officer.  Your actions have been detrimental to the good order and discipline of my battalion, and your attitude tells me that you have no idea how much I prize good order and discipline."

The BC rose. Everyone in the room stiffened.

"SPC Bulldog, you are reduced in rank two grades to Private, E-2.  You will be docked half a month's pay for two months.  You are restricted to your barracks for 60 days, and will be allowed to leave it only to go to duty, to eat at the chow hall, and to go to the chapel if you choose to do so.  You may make supervised visits to the PX once a week for necessities only.  For the next 45 days, you will do four hours of extra duty after Retreat on each duty day, and will do eight hours of extra duty on each non-duty day.  I am doing this because the violation of trust between you and another soldier was destroyed because of your actions, and my unit was distracted from its mission"

The BC rose from his desk and walked around to Bulldog.  CPT Goodman also came forward, and together they removed the rank pins from Bulldog's collar.  CPT Goodman pulled a set of private's rank out of his pocket, and he and the BC pinned them on now PV2 Bulldog's uniform.  The BC then turned to the CSM.

"Sergeant Major, you will work with these NCO's to work out a duty roster for who will be supervising Private Bulldog's extra duty.  I'd like the officers to stay, but the rest of you are dismissed."

We filed out into the hall.  The Sergeant Major opened the door to his office and motioned us all inside, Bulldog included.  Bulldog looked like he'd been kicked in the gut, but he at least had the sense to come to parade rest in front of the Sergeant Major's desk.

"Bulldog, what are you?" asked the Sergeant Major.
"Excuse me, Sergeant Major?"
"What are you Bulldog?  Are you a soldier?"
"Yes, Sergeant Major, I'm a soldier"
"Bulldog, let me tell you something.  After the way you've acted, you are not a soldier.  You are a man in uniform.  You are no better than the Good Humor man.  You might as well just go out and sell ice cream.  If you want to be a soldier again, you've got a lot of work to do."

Bulldog's eyes bugged out.  I think that shot had hit him harder than losing two stripes.

"Who is this person's supervisor?"
"I am, Sergeant Major." I said, knowing that this was going to suck no matter what happened.
"As his first night of extra duty, PV2 Bulldog will police up the battalion area. When he is done with that, he will begin mowing the PT field."
"Yes Sergeant Major.  Sergeant Major, it's going to be dark in a couple of hours."
"You have a flashlight, don't you, Sergeant DaddyBear?  You will light the way for him."
"Yes Sergeant Major"
"I want a duty roster on my desk by lunchtime tomorrow showing how each of you will supervise this person for the next 45 days, including his visits to the chow hall, chapel, and the PX.  If he'd been properly led, this probably wouldn't have happened in the first place, so the four of you will participate in his rehabilitation.  Sergeant DaddyBear, that's also your responsibility."
"Yes Sergeant Major."
"Get to it."

We all left and led Bulldog back to the squad bay.  I made a quick call to my wife to let her know I'd be home around 11, which did a lot for her mood.  I grabbed my flashlight out of the desk, and proceeded to follow Bulldog around while he picked up the trash around the battalion's buildings.  After he'd done that, he scarfed down an MRE SFC Rawhide brought out for him, and got busy mowing the field.  And yes, once it got dark, I walked beside the mower with a flashlight and made sure he didn't push it into a hole.

Over the next six weeks, I took turns with 1SG Maruchan, SFC Rawhide, and SSG Schwanz supervising Bulldog in doing every menial task we could come up with.  He picked up, swept, washed, mopped, buffed, mowed, stripped, waxed, and painted everything we could think of.  One weekend, he swept and mopped the tarmac in the motor pool, and the next weekend, he swept and mopped the bays in the maintenance garage.  Bulldog quickly tried pushing his luck, but nothing keeps an NCO from becoming chummy with someone as having to give up his own off time to make sure they do as they're told.  On multiple occasions, he got told to shut up and think about how expensive a roll in the hay could be.

I learned a few things over that time:

  1. When you lead someone, you're there for them when they do both good and bad
  2. When you screw up, if no-one got hurt and no damage was done, shut up.
  3. When caught, admit fault and take your lumps.  
  4. You can do a lot of thinking while you watch someone wax and buff hangar floors on a Saturday.
If Bulldog had just admitted that he'd done wrong, CPT Goodman would have given him a slap on the wrist and let it go.  By making it personal, he'd forced CPT Goodman to kick the matter up to a level that could only drop the hammer on Bulldog.  And his entire chain of command suffered for his stupidity.

Bulldog apparently didn't take any lessons away from this.  He got one of those stripes back later that year, but lost it again when he was found sleeping on radio watch.  Some people never learn.

Today's Earworm

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today's Earworm

Mental note - Teaching this to the 3 year old may be cute, but will tend to get you in trouble with the wife.


First, a "turtle stampede" caused delays at New York's JFK Airport.  My first image was Clint Eastwood and Michael Landon riding the worlds slowest ponies to round up the errant terrapins.  Apparently sucking a turtle into a jet engine is a bad thing.

Second, North Korea has been appointed to head up a U.N. conference on disarmament. That's right, Kim Jong Il will be in charge of making sure the world is safe from nuclear armageddon.  What's next?  Is Charlie Sheen going to be put in charge of the ONDCP?  Exactly what is the purpose of the U.N. anyway?

Responsibility and Authority

Bob Owens over at Pajamas Media has a good article on possible outcomes for the investigation into Project Fast and Furious, AKA Project Gunwalker.  This is the program in which the BATFE allowed illegal purchases of weapons in the United States in order to see where they ended up in Mexico.  This led to a lot of guns getting into Mexico, where they have been used to kill Mexicans and at least one American.

Mr. Owens believes that the damage to the Obama administration will probably stop at or below Attorney General Holder, and I tend to agree.  As little as I respect President Obama, he'd have to be stupid on a level that scares me to let himself be culpable for something like this, and I don't think he's that politically ignorant.  I doubt we're going to hear anyone asking "What did the President know and when did he know it?" on this one.

But that doesn't preclude the President taking a hit on this.

When I was in the military, we had an axiom:  "You can delegate authority, but not responsibility."  Basically, you can give your subordinates the authority to do what is necessary to get the job done, but you are responsible for whether or not they are successful and the methods they employ.  Not knowing what they were doing was no excuse.  You couldn't plead ignorance if your soldier got caught with his hands in the cookie jar if by doing your job you should have known his plans to do it and didn't stop him.

President Obama and AG Holder need to man up, admit that the people who worked for them messed up and possibly broke the law, and take responsibility as leaders.  If AG Holder knew or should have known what his subordinates at Justice and the BATFE were doing, he should resign and be investigated for possible criminal activity.  President Obama should come to the American people, admit that people in his administration broke the law and violated a neighboring countries sovereignty, and take personal responsibility for it, whether or not he's criminally culpable.

But forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

Signs, Portents, and Triggers

Over at Free Thinker, Gay_Cynic talks about the fact that no economy, even one as vast as California's, is immune from collapse if it actively tries to destroy its underpinnings.  One could extrapolate his point to include entire countries, including our own.  One phrase that stood out to me was:

The lights will probably stay on. But I wouldn't give odds against the inner cities burning again as the benefit checks start bouncing, particularly if it's about the time that Officer Friendly's check begins bouncing.

President Roosevelt's New Deal and President Johnson's Great Society programs were put in place to put a hard floor on how low Americans could be forced to live.  Problem is, some looked at that hard floor as a pretty comfortable place, maybe not luxurious, but not too shabby.  Since the inception of these programs, they have been sitting on their butts while the rest of us shovel more and more money in their direction.  I'm not talking about the honest person or family that's run into hard times and is trying to survive until things get better.  I'm talking about the people who have always been on public assistance of one form or another, and have no motivation to do anything that will make that assistance unnecessary.
  • Don't want to pay for your own housing?  There's a program for that.
  • Want to spend your grocery money on cigarettes and booze, but still have your kids fed?  There's a program for that.
  • Don't want to get a job, no matter how hard or dirty, to keep food on the table?  There's a program for that.
  • Don't want to be responsible for your own health care costs, and want to have the taxpayer pay for them?  There's a program for that.
  • Don't feel like earning an honest living, especially if you've been injured or sick enough to not do the work you want to do?  There's a program for that.
Again, this isn't directed at people who want to provide for themselves but for some reason can't for a limited amount of time.  It also doesn't apply to those who are truly disabled to the point that they cannot provide some parts of their own upkeep.  This is for the grasshoppers who want to go fishing and take naps while the rest of us ants toil away.

If you've read Huxley's "Brave New World", you've heard of the drug Soma.  This was a government mandated sedative/mood enhancer that citizens were given to keep them and society as a whole on an even keel and under government control.  I've really come to believe that the programs instituted by these two presidents, however good-hearted their intentions were at the time, have become the Soma the government uses to keep a lid on the lower classes of our country.  You won't get lower class people asking the hard questions and making the hard decisions if you keep that IV drip of money going at a steady pace.

GC hits on the head when he posits that our cities will burn when the welfare checks and food stamps stop coming.   When faced with the reality that free money isn't going to keep rolling in, and that they'll have to take whatever employment they can find to keep a roof over their head and food in their mouths, I honestly expect that a majority of the people who have become wholly dependent on the rest of us to provide for them will lose all semblance of self-control.

A few years ago, we had a major wind storm come though Louisville.  It knocked out power to most of the city for a few days.  I was listening to the local AM news station on day 2 when they had a call-in show to see how people were handling the heat and the blackout.  My rough guess is that about half of the callers complained about how they couldn't get access to their welfare benefits and how they were considering coming across town to 'get what was coming to them' from the more affluent sections of town.  There were, in fact, a couple of instances where several stores were robbed, either at gunpoint or while closed due to not having power, by people who turned out to have driven the 20 or 30 miles to get to them from their homes.  Interestingly, these crimes did not seem to include stealing the necessities of life, such as food, diapers, or medicine, but the taking of money, electronics, alcohol, or tobacco. 

Now imagine if instead of a 4 to 7 day power outage, these people were faced with two or three weeks without their economic Soma, with no end in sight.  Their case workers can't help them because there's no money.  Non-governmental charities are tapped out because of the massive demand for their services.  What are they going to do?

Over at the Survival Blog, JWR has discussed on several occasions his expectations that such circumstances will cause the creation of what he calls a "Golden Horde".  Basically, a large mass of people who believe that society owes them a living, will become an army of looters when that living does not materialized or is withdrawn.  I believe that when the government stops sending the checks, first the inner cities will burn, then the suburbs will be swamped with people looking for whatever they can grab. 

I look at the economic news, mainly about the government's debt and the current economic conditions, and I worry.  I worry because I am an ant who is responsible for where the next meal comes from.  I worry because even through I live in a small, middle-class neighborhood, I'm right next to the high-end neighborhoods the grasshoppers will be coming to loot.  But mostly I worry that my children will have to witness the unraveling of a once great country because their forebears didn't have the guts to tell grasshoppers that those who do not work do not eat.

I just don't understand

I've never been an addict, unless you count caffeine.  I hate needles, really don't care for smoking, and don't enjoy being drunk enough to want to do it with something that hits me harder and lasts longer.

I've watched the countryside become the site of 1000's of illicit meth labs.  I've watched cars burning on the side of the road because their mobile lab overheated in the trunk.  I've seen the pictures of people who went from age 25 to 50 in months because of the effects of cocaine or meth.

And now a way to cook codeine into a more potent drug is coming out of Russia.  And the bonus is that in addition to the risks of hepatitis, HIV, and overdose, this new drug, called "krokodil" kills the skin at the injection site, turns it green and scaly, and ultimately makes it fall off.

You know, I just don't get it.  Getting drunk, stoned, high, or whatever is bad enough, but to do it knowing that the substance you're using is going to turn your skin green and cause it to rot away?

I guess you just have to be there to understand.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

News Roundup

Haven't done one of these in a while, so let's have some fun:

From the "Fashion Police" Section - A leader of an Afghan terrorist organization was caught recently while dressed as a woman.  Reports are that this is a common occurrence.  My guess is that he was captured because no woman would wear a navy blue burqa with tan boots.  Guys, our fashion sense just isn't good enough to pull this off.
From the "Animal Commerce" Section - A group of scientists at Yale University are studying whether pictures of a female monkey or an alpha male attracts them more from one type of food or another.  I'd love to see the write-up for that grant.  "We would like to see if male monkeys would rather eat food that's advertised using pictures of sexy females or the food that's advertised with pictures of the monkey Marlboro man."
From the "That's Funny, Ours Can Reach Tehran from Minot" Department - An Iranian official has admitted that Iran's missile forces, including the Shahab-3 and Sajjil, can reach Israel and U.S. assets in the Middle East, and they have the ability to build missiles that go much further.  Dude, you don't want to get into a pissing-for-distance contest with the U.S. over whose missiles have the longest reach.  SAC had perfected ways to hit targets in that neck of the woods before this guy was a twinkle in his father's goat's eye.
From the "Need More Bullets" Department - The latest in a rash of smash and grab mob attacks struck a store in Atlanta on Tuesday morning.  My guess is that the store was closed in this occurrence, but other attacks have happened while stores are manned and taking care of customers.  My recipe for taking care of this problem is a castle doctrine, steady firing position, good sight picture and alignment, breath control, and trigger squeeze.  You can't tell me that this kind of crap would go on when people started getting shot while flash-mob-robbing the Banana Republic.  Some will argue that a shirt isn't worth killing someone over, but I'll retort by saying that a shirt isn't worth dieing over.
Finally, from the "Need More Crazy Glue" Department - A hotel in Austin, Texas, has announced that it will be replacing over 1000 glass panels after several of the existing panels fell and broke on Monday.  My guess is that they need to move their adhesive up from chewing gum and duct tape to Gorilla Glue.

Been a lot of these lately

UPI is reporting yet another prank where electronic roadside information signs are being hacked to show warnings about zombies.  The latest is in Newfoundland, but it seems a week can't go by without a similar story.

What if these aren't pranks?

What if this is the last desperate act of a technician as the undead are beating down his door?  What if all he has to live for is to warn the rest of us through his network of roadside billboards?

What if TBolt is right, and the outbreaks he chronicles in his Romero Operation reports are becoming more widespread and the government is trying to prevent panic by portraying this as electronic vandalism?

Y'all excuse me while I go get boards ready to close up all of my first floor windows and doors.

Dear Chrysler

Just for kicks and grins, I opened up the slick sales brochure you sent to me for your new sedan.  Don't get me wrong.  I'd rather buy a used 1972 VW Bug that's been rusting in a Florida swamp, but that's another story.

I wondered why the brochure came in a sealed plastic envelope, but after flipping through the first few pages, I realized why.  Your brochure had been sprayed with something that emulates the "new car smell".

That's pretty innovative, like a bakery that has fans to send the smell of baking bread out to the sidewalk.  I have to give you points for that.

Feel free to keep sending me more brochures, though.  I find they make good weed barriers.  It's probably something to do with the shiny coating you spray on them.

Does that haircut go well with stripes?

Former Illinois governor Blagojevich was convicted Monday on 17 of 20 counts related to shady dealings to sell the vacant Senate seat created when President Obama was elected.

Leaving a trail of mucous behind him as he left the courtoom, Blagojovich claimed to be stunned, which pretty much demonstrates how utterly stupid you have to be to look for out and out bribes to fill a Senate seat.

I know that all politicians are suspect where honesty is considered, but shameless corruption is despicable.  Hopefully it's also rare.  Bad policies we can withstand; incompetent leaders we can tolerate.  But rot from the inside is the quickest way for our Republic to fall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's the range and CEP on a Minuteman III?

For those of you playing along at home, the circular error probability of a Minuteman III ICBM is 120m, and its range is 13,000km.  We would also have accepted 200m for those of you with older reference material.  Not bad for an upgraded 1960's design.  To put it in gun-person terms, that's sub-MOA at a stationary target located halfway across the world.

In related news, Iran has unveiled underground silos for their missile force.  I guess they hope that deep holes make for untouchable missiles or something.  My guess is that hitting within 120m of a missile silo with a 400-500 kiloton payload would do enough damage to make it inoperable.  You don't have to destroy the bullets, you just have to disable the gun.

The image I have when I think of Iran is the little dog that keeps nipping at a bigger dog because he doesn't believe the big dog will ever take the time to bite back.  Someday, that big dog chews the little dog in half, and I think that someday with Iran is not far off.

Someone needs to tell the Iranian government that any use of a Shahab-3 from one of these silos against any of the countries we care about will be considered an act of war against the United States.  Heaven help them if they mate an atomic weapon up to one and give it a whirl.  Nothing says "Regional Stabilization" like a set of mushroom clouds over Iranian launch sites.

Mission Creep

Our pretty little war in Libya just got a bit more complicated.  The International Criminal Court has indicted Qaddafi, his son, and his security chief for war crimes.  Good luck getting him to negotiate a peaceful end to the war now.  I expect that in the next few days or so, President Obama will start using that to justify his not-really-a-war-because-we-don't-use-the-W-word war against Qaddafi and his regime.

For those of you old enough to remember, this is exactly what happened under President Bush the First in Somalia.  First we were going in to provide security for humanitarian aid, then we were there to stabilize the situation and protect civilians from bands of thugs, then we started hunting for local warlords.

I would not be surprised if Obama didn't use this as an excuse to escalate the conflict a bit, seeing as now his moves are legitimized by the UN, NATO, and the ICC.  Of course, he hasn't gotten authorization from the U.S. Congress.  Details, details.  Who am I to object? There's a kinetic action going on, after all.

Pop Quiz

I know, I know, the syllabus says nothing about quizzes.  Add/Drop forms are available from the TA.

Captain TightPants pointed me over to this civics quiz, and unlike a lot of other quizzes I've taken, this one is actually about civics, not the latest topics in the headlines.

I got a 96.97% when I missed one.  How did y'all do?

This is who we fight

On Sunday, a beautiful little 8 year old girl walked up to a police car carrying a bag.  She had been asked to carry the bag to the policemen by someone she trusts.  When she approached the car, a remote receiver in the bag caused the explosives in it to detonate, killing her.

This is our enemy.  Whether they are in Kabul, or Riyadh, or London, or Detroit, the enemies of liberal Western democracy are prepared to kill anyone and use any means to hurt us.  They will use our freedoms, our openness, our trust, and even our children to kill us.

If you're a parent, a grandparent, or an uncle or aunt, think about the small children you love.  What madness would it take for you to hand one of them a satchel charge?  We are not dealing with a rational foe.  Negotiation is nothing but a delaying tactic.  Mercy is seen as weakness.  While the president of Afghanistan rails against the accidental deaths of civilians in combat, nothing will be said about using children or other helpless members of society as weapon delivery systems.

I advocate leaving the Dar al-Islam to its own ends.  If they want democracy, theocracy, or anarchy, let them have it.  But we should never forget their stated goal of forcing us to believe and behave in the same way they do, and that they will use whatever means they can find to accomplish that goal.

Thought for the Day

Somewhere on this dirtball, at this exact moment, someone is reading "Starship Troopers" for the first time.

I first read it in the overcab sleeping area of my step-dad's RV on a very stormy Minnesota night in 1985.  I read it from cover to cover by flashlight.  I re-read it so many times that when I went to join the Army and the sergeant at the processing station asked me if I wanted to be "MI", I thought he meant Mobile Infantry.  You can imagine my disappointment.

What was your first 'adult' science fiction?  Any good stories of how you discovered it?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quotes of the Day

Two of these today, dealing with the community response to flooding in my hometown:

"For the rest of the country, that is kind of mind boggling. But ... that's how we are in North Dakota," --Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota
"It's one thing to go and visit somebody and stay in their house and enjoy their hospitality for a couple of days. It's another thing to move in indefinitely and wonder, have we overstayed our welcome?" -- Pancoast, Minot North Dakota
The people I grew up with and around are reaching out to one another and helping.  It doesn't seem to matter if it's family, friend, or total stranger.  Growing up, the mantra I had pounded into me was "Never ask for help, but never fail to give it without being asked".

Contrast that to the denizens of New Orleans after Katrina who also had days to prepare, had to be rescued by a massive operation after failing to either leave or provide for themselves, and in some cases had to be removed from 'temporary' shelters by court order.

Now imagine what a different picture we would have seen if people from the parts of New Orleans that were not flooded had opened up their homes, garages, trailers, and hearts to the citizens of the flooded portions of the Crescent City.  

Flies and Honey

A jewelry store owner in Wisconsin has decided to not allow his customers to carry concealed firearms in his store.  He reasons that he already has security procedures in place for a robbery, and he says he doesn't feel comfortable having armed people around while haggling over price.

While I don't agree with him, I fully support his right as a property owner to decide under what conditions he wants to do business. If someone I do business with decided to not allow concealed carry in their establishment, I would politely tell them that I will no longer be in their business and why.  This storeowner has apparently been getting a lot of angry mail and telephone calls.

Remember people, be polite.  If he recognizes that gun owners tend to be civil, honest, and polite people, he may in the future decide to change his mind.  Threatening, haranguing, and scaring business owners like this do nothing but solidify their position and rob us of converts.

Follow-Up to Today's Thought for the Day

Gentlemen, if you're going to look out at the weather, decide your tent can stand up to it, and declare, "We'll be OK", you damn sure better get out and make sure the rain fly to your tent hasn't come loose from kids tripping over the guy lines in the past day or so.

If you don't, you will get to wake up to half an inch of water in the tent, a savagely pissed off spouse, and the opportunity to run outside in a thunderstorm to re-tighten said guy lines.  And enjoy packing up the sodden tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, and clothes the next morning.

Thought for the Day

Ladies, when your loving husband, your soulmate, the love of your life and father to your children, a man who spent almost a decade each in Scouts and the Army sleeping outdoors in places around the world in unspeakable weather, who slept comfortably though a severe thunderstorm last year in the very tent you are sleeping in, looks outside at the weather at 4 AM and says "We'll be OK", it doesn't mean:

He's immature
He's reckless
He doesn't care
He's a jerk

It means that he's seen worse weather, believes that the equipment and conditions on hand are favorable, and doesn't believe that it is necessary to abandone everything you brought to camp and head for the hills.

It also means that he loves you enough to not panic at the first drop of rain, flash of lightning, or rumble of thunder.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just sets me off like a roman candle

While stopping at the local SuperMegaBigBoxMart for camping groceries, I ran into one of the personality types that just gets under my skin:  The Helpless Human Being.

Ladies and gentlemen, no-one has been responsible for you since your mama taught you to not make messes on the good carpet.  There are several things that an adult in our society must be emotionally and psychologically able to do, including:

  • Shop for groceries
  • Pay for groceries, either with cash, check, or plastic
  • Pump gas
  • Cross the street without being killed
  • Not make messes on the carpet when not supervised

Doing the soft voiced "Fiddle dee dee, I've always relied on the kindness of strangers" Katie Scarlett O'Hara imitation is not useful, it's annoying.

Coming to the check out with a basket of stuff, arguing with both the cashier and the manager over the price of your shampoo, toilet paper, tuna fish, peanut butter, potato chips, and personal lubricant, and then not knowing how to properly fill out a check or use your debit card is assenine.  Doing all this while talking in that sweet, soft, Southern accent in an attempt to elicit sympathy from said cashier and manager is manipulative.

It's not the 1950's anymore.  Computers and such are a part of living.  Learn to work with them, or hire someone to do your errands for you.  Either stop acting stupid and start taking care of yourself, or start going to someone else's store.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Overheard in camp

Irish Woman: What did we bring to drink?
Me: We've got sodas, Bud Lite, Sam Adams, Woodford, and Southern Comfort.
Girlie Bear: What's Southern Comfort? I've never heard of that.
Me: Sweetheart, if it weren't for Southern Comfort, you might not exist.
Girlie Bear: ...... Ewwwwwww!


Base camp established. A full 75% of what was packed was necessary.

Casa de Oso, the portable version

My new kitchen. Only cost 5 boxes of .22.

I have sent the older kids to get firewood. Irish Woman is trying to get BooBoo to take a nap. I am becoming acquainted with India Pale Ale.

Slow Posting

Not going to be a lot of posting here for the next few days.  Irish Woman and I are taking the family up to Indiana for the annual Hoosier Hoedown.  All of her Indiana family is getting together for the weekend at one of the lakes.

This year, my goal is to enjoy myself and not come home a raving lunatic.  Toward that end I've simplified what we're taking, told the kids that dad doesn't have a filter if they get on his nerves, and am stopping at the liquor store before we cross the state line.

Y'all have a good weekend!

Military Anniversaries

I don't normally do a "Today in History" bit, but today is quite a date in military history:

1314 - Edward II of England is handed his ass by the Scottish at the battle of Bannockburn.  The battle was a complete rout of the English.  Of approximately 16,000 infantrymen who started the battle on the English side, 11,000 would be dead or captured two days later.  This action sealed the reputation of Robert the Bruce as king of an independent Scotland and probably contributed to the eventual murder of Edward after he abdicated a few years later.

1812 - Napoleon's Grande Armee crossed into Russian territory on their ill-fated invasion.  By the time Napoleon got to Moscow and back, his army of almost 500,000 had been whittled down to about 27,000 soldiers.  380,000 French soldiers were dead, and about 100,000 were prisoners.  Napoleon had lost his charm of invincibility, and he never recovered from the military, political, or diplomatic losses from this fateful decision.

1916 - Artillery preparation for what would become the Battle of the Somme began.  The infantry advance started on July 1.  By the time the battle was declared over in mid-November, Allied and German casualties numbered over 1,000,000,  of which over 300,000 were killed.  This butcher's bill paid for an advance of at most 7 miles along the trenches for the Allies.  British and Commonwealth soldiers, who bore the majority of the casualties on the Allied side, advanced only 2 miles.

1948 - The Berlin Blockade begins when Soviet occupation forces cut off all water and land access to Berlin from Western Germany.  The American, French, and British governments responded by supporting Berlin from the air, using transport aircraft to bring in food, fuel, medicine, and everything else the city needed until the blockade was lifted in May 1949.  This was the opening shot of the Cold War.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yet another reason

This Ain't Hell points out another reason why I will never live in a subdivision or anywhere else that has a Home Owner's Association.

No offense, but I don't like my neighbors enough to let them tell me how my house will be designed or painted, where I will park my vehicles, or how often I mow my grass.  Politely point out something you object to and have a rational discussion with me, and the worst that will happen is we will agree to disagree.  The first time someone stands on my porch and demands I change how I keep up my property is the last time they walk on without a limp.  The good Lord made axe handles for a reason.

My goal is to live far enough out in the country that I can pee off of the porch and the only person who will object is Irish Woman.

Oh, and if you're worried that a smaller house that's accessible to someone with this disabled vet's condition will exert downward pressure on your property values, then you know precisely diddly over squat about the current housing market.

You want the cute?

You can't handle the cute!

That is Qannik, a polar bear cub that was rescued after being separated from her mother and sibling in Alaska.  She will be joining our other polar bear at the new Glacier Run exhibit at the Louisville Zoo.

The zoo also announced that a new baby giraffe was born recently.  So we'll have a baby polar bear, young grizzly bears, and a baby giraffe in our zoo.

The cute, it burns!


It appears that an investment scheme that was supposed to use the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to raise money for terrorists didn't work.  Apparently, $35 million was sent to Chicago, and when the federal government froze the account, there was only $7 million in it.  The rest had been lost on the commodities market.


Allow me to shed a silent tear for the member of the Fifth Column that lost more money than I will earn over the course of my entire life in an effort to raise money for people who want to kill me and people like me.

I honestly hope that this guy gets away from our officials.  My guess is that the retribution from the goat-pimps whose money he lost will be much worse than 20 years with three hots and a cot.

Thought for the Day

During the 2012 campaign, when President Obama and his supporters start chanting "Yes we can!" or "Yes we did!", someone should heckle with "Oh no you didn't!", head bob and all.  And when they get really obnoxious, we should go with "I wish you would!".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

If this is the plan that they went with, what plan did we reject?  -- John Stewart, Comedy Central's Daily Show, talking about Operation Fast and Furious 
H/T to John Richardson at No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money 

Animal Jailbreaks

An alligator farm in Florida had a little excitement recently when 17 reptiles tunneled their way out.  Several have been recovered, but neighbors have been warned to be cautious due to the probably presence of gators on the loose.  Or at least more gators than normal.  It is Florida after all.

No word yet on how the gators got shovels, boards for shoring up the tunnel, or blankets to sew into uniforms.  A blind gator who was left behind refuses to talk except to say that his skills at forging travel documents is legendary.  Floridians are told to be on the lookout for a gator on a BMW motorcycle.

In other news, a cow in Pennsylvania on its way to being slaughtered made a break for it and had one hour of freedom before being corralled with police cars and lassoed using dog leashes.

Bossy apparently outran and outfoxed several humans during her break for freedom.  No word yet on whether or not the exercise was good for her texture or taste.  Thankfully, the local SWAT team was not called out for this incident. We know this because neither the cow, the cow's pets, nor innocent bystanders were shot.

This can't be good

If you're using WordPress, bbPress, or BuddyPress for your bloggage, you're going to have to change your password.

Hackers: can't live with them, can't string them up from a bell tower with their own entrails.

Bad Times in Old Homes

My hometown of Minot, North Dakota is about to have its worst flooding ever.  The Souris River is going to flood the city after raising several feet since Saturday.  At the moment, the city leaders are building secondary dikes to try to safeguard critical infrastructure when the main levees inevitably collapse.  Thousands are being evacuated and hundreds of homes will be destroyed.

On the other extreme, my old duty station of Fort Huachuca, Arizona, is preparing to evacuate because of the Monument fire. Several areas around the post have already been emptied, and the National Guard has been called out to provide security while a great multitude of firefighters tries to direct the fire around Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca.  The Observer has some great pictures of the area and a good report on what's been going on.  Lots of places I used to enjoy hiking in have been charred, and I'm pretty sure my old neighborhood south of post is gone.

One home is being washed away, and another is in danger of burning to the ground.  I'm hoping my worst fears come to nothing.  Please keep those who are being hurt by these two disasters in your thoughts.

Caught with his hand in the cookie jar

The Army drug control officer at Carlisle Barracks appears to have gotten himself into a bit of a pickle.  He's been indicted on charges of distributing drugs and conspiracy.  My one surprise in this is that he wasn't charged with drug use himself.  My experience was that alcohol and drug control officers and NCO's were most likely to be raging alcoholics and/or drug users themselves.

One intrepid soul even changed the program that randomly picked SSN's out of the hat to see who would go through our monthly urinalysis to make sure that he would never get chosen.  He got away with it for almost two years before he OD'ed in a fleabag hotel in Mexico.  Luckily for him it didn't kill him before one of his buddies went looking for him.

Like the old man said, who will watch the watchers?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gotta Collect Them All

Starting in 2012, packs of cigarettes sold in the United States will begin featuring pictures of tracheotomies, corpses, and women smoking while holding a baby.  This is done in an effort to wring a few more people into the ex-smoker bucket.

Smoking rates have dropped considerably over the past few decades, but the curve has flattened.  This is another effort by the government to try to get people to stop doing what they want with their own bodies in the name of "for your own good" public policy.

But let's face it.  If you live in the United States and don't know that consuming tobacco is bad for you, you're either a deaf-mute or you've been ignoring print media, television, billboards, and warnings on the cigarette packs themselves for over a generation.

Graphic pictures of diseased lungs and such may drop the smoking rate a few percentage points, but it won't be a sustained reduction, and after this it would appear that the FDA has shot its bolt.  Once you've raised taxes, stigmatized smoking, and put gross pictures on tobacco packaging, what more can you do?  Prohibition won't work.  Think crack addicts are violent?  Make it nigh unto impossible for a 3 pack a day smoker to get their fix and watch our cities burn.

What I see happening is a marginal decrease in the number of new smokers for a few years, and then the curve will either re-flatten or lose ground as the shock value wears off.  And I see a lot of smokers trying to collect one of each of these graphic packs.  Pokemon meets Marlboro.

This is the FDA version of gun control. It's what you do instead of something constructive.

Render Unto Caesar Part 2

I hate paying taxes.  I truly hate having to do the math to figure out what my income tax burden is going to be, deciding which withholding category to put myself into, and then having a good chunk of my paycheck withheld by the IRS to pay towards my yearly debt to the government.  I absolutely loathe filling out my yearly income tax forms, and hoping that I didn't over- or underestimate what I should have had withheld by too wide a margin.  I try to be within a couple of hundred dollars on either side.  I don't want to write yet another fat check to Uncle Sugar on April 15, but I also don't want to give him a nice interest free loan every year.

Last year, Junior Bear moved out and went to college on day 188 of the Julian calendar.  That's important because he spent just barely over 50% of the year in my home.  So I planned my tax withholdings to have three dependants (Junior, Girlie, and BooBoo.  Little Bear lives with his mother full time, so she writes him off.)  I did a quick analysis of my tax position in January, and I was going to be about $200 in the black come April 15, and that money was going right into the gun savings account.

On or about April 10, I got a call from Junior Bear's mother.  She was in her accountant's office with Junior Bear's tax documents and a power of attorney.  Guess what she was doing?  If you said "She's doing Junior Bear's taxes" you get a cookie and a gold star.  She had convinced my loving son that by filing his own taxes and sticking it to the man (me), he would more quickly become an independent student, and as a happy happenstance, I would get hosed one more time by my loving ex.  After a rather 'emotional' discussion, she pretty much stated that she could show that Junior had spent just enough time outside of my care during those first 188 days of the year that I would not have the right to deduct him from my taxes.  She, and I quote "dared" me to file with him as a dependant, trip an audit, and see who came out the worse.  With me on speaker phone, she instructed her accountant to pull the trigger on e-filing Junior's tax return.

I can honestly say I have never wondered why my life improved after that woman left me.

I reported this to my loving, understanding, and very red-headed Irish wife.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we mutually decided that we would take this as the final kick in the pants of having to deal with ex-wife #1, bite the bullet, and just pay the taxes that were going to be due now that our number of dependants went from three to two.  I also had a very intense heart-to-heart talk with my oldest son about which parent was the one schlepping up to Indiana with groceries every month and which one was doing nothing for him but co-signing on student loans.

A couple of days before April 15, I took out the tax forms again, re-figured everything, and came up with us not getting $200 back as previously figured, but instead owing almost $1100.  Yes, I again thought back to how much better off I am without her.  I swallowed hard, wrote the check, signed the return, and sent it in.  Yes, I did the taxes by hand using paper forms.  Why spend $100+ dollars on an accountant or tax software to do a simple income tax return?

Pride goeth before the fall, a wise man once told me.   I think the classical Greek playwrights would have called this 'hubris'.

Yesterday, I received a nice letter from the IRS.  I had apparently made two errors on my return.  First, I had miscalculated the amount of the interest on our student loans we could deduct, which is easy to do when doing the forms by hand, and probably only added a few dollars to my tax burden.  More seriously, the IRS was disallowing one of our dependants, and had slapped us with an additional $1800.00 in tax burden.


Today, during lunch, I jumped on the phone and called the IRS.  After an hour on hold, a lady I will call Ms. T came on the line.  After making sure that she was indeed speaking to a Mr. Daddy J. Bear of Louisville, Kentucky, we dove into my issues.

Turns out, I fat fingered the Social Security number of Girlie Bear on our tax return, and the Social Security Administration had disavowed any knowledge of such a person.  Ms. T gave me the standard "you should have proofread everything before signing anything" speech, and then corrected my error.  She then went back to the student loan interest issue.  I had written off about $1000 in interest, while the IRS only showed me as being able to write off about $400.  Hey, stress me out, caffeine me up, and hand me a stack of government manuals and forms three inches thick, and I will make an error. 

After entering the correct Social Security number in her system and figuring out how much my error changed my tax burden, she was happy to tell me that my new tax bill was $9.80, not $1800.  And to make the day even better, she told me that since I'd filed on time and paid my tax bill already, they were going to forgive that money.  My hunch is that there's a minimum amount they want to collect because it would cost more to process the check.

Throughout the conversation, Ms. T was professional, friendly, and helpful.  I honestly expected someone a bit more combative to answer the phone.  Just goes to show you can never tell which personality you're going to run into when dealing with the government.

Here's what I took away from this:
  • Taxes suck
  • You gotta pay your taxes
  • There is no such thing as a simple income tax return
  • Money spent on tax software or an accountant is money well spent
  • Not everyone who works for the government is unhelpful or obnoxious
  • Taxes suck

McCain Decries "isolationism"

John McCain, war hero and my former senator, is drawing attention to what he decries as "isolationism".  His concerns seem to be that a thread of isolationism in the current field of Republican candidates could lead the United States to return to the foreign policy mistakes of the 1920's and 1930's.

While he has a point, and I agree that the United States cannot retreat behind the Atlantic and Pacific again, I do believe that we need to re-evaluate all of our overseas commitments.  If the support we give to someone outside our borders doesn't pay off in either stability or cash, then we need to drop it and let regional powers take care of themselves.  Since the end of the Cold War, our 'engagement' with the rest of the world, especially the 3rd world, has gained us nothing but debt and coffins.

  • Did the loss of Rangers in Mogadishu do anything to promote stability in the Horn of Africa?
  • Did the billions of dollars we poured into the Balkans gain us anything at all?
  • Has Saudi Arabia become more democratic after we poured blood and treasure into their sand in the 1990's?
  • Have the wars in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arablia gained us any good will for promoting democracy in the Arab and/or Muslim world?
  • Has decimating Al Qaeda and working to rebuild Afghanistan paid off after 10 years?
  • Has Mexico become more democratic, stable, and prosperous since we started shipping our manufacturing jobs to Nogales and Tijuana?
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  For the most part, our support of despotic regimes in the the developing world has gained us nothing but grief.  Either we get the knife in the front from the people these regimes oppress or we get the knife in the back from those regimes.  It doesn't matter if it's from Karzai or Crown Prince Abdullah, building or supporting these regimes while smiling smile has gained us nothing but a kick to the teeth.

So, while I respect Senator McCain for his life of service to our country, I have to disagree with him on this.  I'm not worried about a Republican administration pulling back too far.  I'm worried about any administration continuing or expanding our commitments to areas and activities that are bankrupting us.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The other four rules

In Texas, two children were injured when a 13 year old found a gun in a storage shed and caused the gun to go off while trying to see if it was loaded.  Luckily, no-one was killed.   I'd say he had to break at least three of the Four Rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
I'm teaching my kids about gun safety and how they should act if they find a gun.  This is different from teaching a child how to handle a gun safely.  What I've taught Girlie Bear, Little Bear, and Junior Bear, and will teach BooBoo when he's old enough to understand, is what to do if they find one of my guns, find a random gun while playing outside, or if they find a gun while they're over at a friend's house.  I've taken advantage of the NRA Eddie Eagle program as a tool in this.  This program has another four rules:

If you see a gun: 
  • STOP!
  • Don't Touch.
  • Leave the Area. 
  • Tell an Adult.
I wish that more schools took advantage of Eddie Eagle and other gun safety programs.  Heck, I wish the schools put all of the kids through gun, hunting, and boating safety courses as part of their PE classes.  A little safety training might keep more kids off of the 6 o'clock news.

What I do, once the kids are old enough (totally subjective), is take them down and open up the gun safe and ammo boxes.  I show them everything I have and explain what its purpose is for.  I show them each type of bullet and line them up so they can compare size and perceived power. Then I remind them that the .22 LR, which is the smallest bullet I have, is big enough to kill.  That takes care of the "I wonder what dad's guns look like" curiosity.  I also let the kids be around when I'm cleaning my guns so they learn what the insides look like and how it all fits together.  Again, satisfy their curiosity safely so they won't satisfy it themselves unsafely.

Then I pound in that they should never see a gun laying around unattended in our house, but if they do, they are to keep their hands off and tell me or another adult.  Same goes for finding a gun while playing outside or at the park (happened once to us in Arizona.  Turns out that losing an AR-15 out of the trunk isn't the only way that LEO misplaces a gun), and especially if they're over at a friend's house. 

I equate these things to when we drown-proofed them, or when we taught them how to cross the street.  I don't want my kids to be afraid of guns, but I want them to respect the harm that mishandling of a gun can cause.  The young man who accidentally shot two other children learned a harsh lesson.  My hope is that my kids and other children learn this lesson in a less traumatic fashion.

Throw the book at him III

You know, I'm getting tired of writing these:

A police report said when the youths refused to leave Dunikowski's stoop he took a 5.56 mm Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle to a second-floor window and started shooting.
Say it with me now:  A gun is not a negotiating tool.  A gun is not there for you to vent frustration at someone else with.  A gun is not to be used to intimidate someone who is not threatening a life or property.  
If someone is on your property but not threatening you, tell them to leave.  If they don't, then either call their parents or call the police.  Don't bust a few caps to "scare them off" or "teach them a lesson".

If we don't police ourselves, we invite others to police us.

An Open Letter

Dear Walgreens:

The man was armed with a handgun, stole prescription drugs and killed everyone in the shop before fleeing with a black backpack.
is why so many of us objected to this.
Disarming people you have enough confidence in that you let them handle your narcotics and money doesn't create a safe place for your customers and employees.  It creates a safe place for the trash that wants to rob and murder both us and you.
"Just give them what they want" doesn't work when dealing with people who are irrational enough to think that robbing a drug store for what's in the pharmacy and the cash registers is a valid way to make a living.  People who rob pharmacies for oxycontin aren't known for making rational decisions, so basing your corporate policy on that ability might be considered a shaky business decision.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Must have been a magical bullet thrower

In New York City, where legal guns are almost non-existant, one person was killed and eight more were wounded when hit by bullets sprayed at a party.

Since no-one in the area had the necessary licenses to own and/or carry a pistol, someone must have come up with some kind of magical lead throwing device.

I can see it now:

A young person is disrespected somehow at a party, goes out to his car or apartment, and returns with his magic wand.  Taking several large lumps of metal out of his belt pouch, he conjures the necessary forces to form them into bullets and fling them into the house, wreaking havoc.  

Or maybe he or she just had a gun in defiance of all the gun laws on the books in NYC.  Occam's Razor and all that.

Someone who wants to have a gun probably doesn't need to break a sweat trying to find one, even in a gun free zone like New York.  No matter how many gallons of ink you waste on making something illegal, it does nothing to prevent someone who really wants to do it from doing it.*

*edited due to a really bad sentence structure.

Victim Selection Process Fail

A misunderstood youth in Chicago thought he'd found an easy mark when he tried robbing a man dressed as a clown the other day.  Seriously, he tried to rob a clown.  That's good for at least a few points towards first class on the bullet train to hell.

Unfortunately for him, his luck was really bad that day.  Said clown was actually an off-duty police officer.  After a struggle, the youth was shot with his own gun.

How crappy is your luck when you try to rob someone at gunpoint in a city that restricts the ownership and carrying of defensive weapons to an exceedingly small minority, and you try to rob an off duty cop that can not only take the gun away from you but also knows which end the bullet comes out of?

Father's Day Earworm

Presented without comment.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Research Follies

A study in New York claims to have found the cause of gray hair.  They injected a certain protein into black mice and found that their hair lightened.  They believe that this research may lead to a cure or preventive treatment for gray hair. Of course, this begs the question as to whether or not such a thing is medically necessary, but I'll leave that for others to figure out.

Funny, I thought this was where gray hair came from:

I swear, before the summer of 1992, I had a full head of thick, dirty blond hair.  Now my hairline is heading north at an accelerating rate, there's more white and gray in my beard than brown, and my temples are starting to look "distinguished".  And I'm pretty sure the damage is permanent.

Well I'll be dipped

The TSA actually found something!  Normally, I'd say that they couldn't catch a cold, but they caught someone who tried to bring a derringer and bullets onto the plane.

Of course, it appears that this was found with an old fashioned baggage x-ray.  It wasn't the porn-o-tron body scanner, enhanced patdowns/colorectal exams, or any of the other stuff that has been put into airport security over the past decade.  It was just a TSA guy, watching a monitor, looking at what was in someone's carry-on.

So, chalk one up to 1970's airport security technology!

Spidey Sense Tingling

OK, I'm probably way off on this, but something's making the back of my neck tingle about three things in the news over the past few days:

  • A Muslim Marine reservist was arrested in Washington DC with a fake bomb and a notebook full of things about the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
  • An illegal immigrant from Guyana stole an identity and worked as a flight attendant.
  • Intelligence gathered when an Al Qaeda leader in Somalia was killed indicates that an attack on London ala Mumbai is either in the planning or preparation stage.

I'm probably just seeing a pattern in chaos, but the methodology of Al Qaeda in the past has been to do a few soft probes to watch our reaction, make a plan adapted to our reaction, make dry runs to see if our preventive measures can be penetrated, and then to drop the hammer.   These things look like plans, probes, and dry runs to me.

What do you all think?  Do these and similar incidents mean the same to you guys or am I just being paranoid?

This is why I watch football

In England, a group of young men were being initiated into rugby and soccer teams, so they got drunk, dressed up like fighter pilots, got on a bus, and "performed lewd sex acts while on the vehicle".

You know, I've been through some initiation rites.  I went through Scouts, which was rife with ceremony.  I have four small scars on my chest where the pins from my sergeant's stripes were pushed through my uniform to make "blood rank".  Heck, you could say that the entire time I spent in basic training was one long hazing session that coincidentally made some semblance of a soldier out of me.

But no-one ever asked me to dress up as Goose and scare the little old ladies on public transportation.  And to be perfectly honest, if Drill Sergeant Hill had told me to put on a flight suit and dry hump my battle buddy on a bus, I might have found a way to be sent home.  

Guys, if any group wants you to do things that you wouldn't do in front of your grandmother in order to join said group, find another group.  No matter if it's a sports team, military organization, religion, sewing circle, reading club, or Cub Scout den.  Your self respect is more important than having your teeth knocked out in a scrum.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I think he played for the Vols

Excavation of a site in Mexico has revealed a statue of an athlete that dates to over 1000 years ago.  No word yet on the subject of the statue's NCAA status, but if he went to Ohio State, I understand they have pre-printed forms for the investigation.   If he went to Kentucky, some of the alumni might have a little something for him, as long as he's related in some way to Richie Farmer.  If he played for Boise State, then at least we know why the statue was buried.  The NCAA can't have that little school having something to crow about, now can they?

Coming to the chow hall of the future

A Japanese scientist has figured out how to process fecal waste, mix it with soy meal and spices, and create artificial meat.  Apparently Japan has a problem with what to do with their waste. At the moment, the cost per pound is significantly more than one would pay for beef in the supermarket.  So thank the Lord for small favors.  If it was cheaper, how quickly do you think Army chow halls and public school lunch rooms would be installing these little wonders of modern science?

"Well Johnny, today we're having crap-burgers, macaroni-and-cheese, boiled peas, and milk.  Now doesn't that sound delicious and nutricious!"


Well, it's been 3 years since I started letting the voices in my head fill up these blog pages.  Almost 1350 posts, and almost 1300 comments in 3 years isn't too shabby.  I have no idea how many people have been here since I started this in 2008, but the number of daily visits is slowly but steadily climbing, so I must be doing something right. Or you all are stopping in to see what the freak is up to. Either way, I'm having a good time.

Since I started doing this, I've moved one kid out of the house, continued at my day job, and somehow stayed sane.  BooBoo is now a little bruiser that is running us ragged, Girlie Bear is about to become a teenage girl, Little Bear starts high school at the end of the summer.  Irish Woman has been through 4 companies but kept the same job.

I've met a lot of really good people through this blog and the GBC, and I've even met a few in the real world.  I've become friends with people from the other side of the globe, and I've gained a lot of new perspectives from reading y'all's work.

For all that, and for putting up with my rants, ramblings, whines, and especially my bad jokes, thank you.

A match, some kerosene, and a cooler of beer

That's my formula for fixing this particular problem.
"It's really hard to rest assured at night to not think you've got a snake in your bed with you or going to step on one when you get up,"
No kidding?  Excuse me while I have an all over body shiver.

Yeah, garter snakes are harmless, and I'm sure this house doesn't have a mouse problem. 

But I wouldn't touch this property until the house had been gassed, burned to the ground, checked for an old Indian burial ground, and rebuilt.

Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe

To sit down and read a book:

That's powdered sugar.  Boo went to bed 45 minutes before this happened, and had been quiet for half an hour.  Now I know why.  There was a trail from the canister into the dining room and living room. It took 10 minutes of rinsing and scrubbing to get it all out of his hair, and then of course he was awake.

He has to get it from Irish Woman.  None of his older brothers and sisters do things like this.  But I'm impressed.  30 years of taking care of children, and I've never seen anything like this.

Maybe this would be easier if I drank more.....

This could be interesting

The Supreme Court today made a pretty interesting ruling in regards to where federal power ends and the power of the states begins.  The Justices specifically mentioned that an international treaty should not be the basis for restricting a citizen's rights:

But the Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said Bond "has standing to challenge the federal statute on grounds that the measure interferes with the powers reserved to states. ... (A lawyer appointed to defend the law, once the administration withdrew) contends that for Bond to argue the national government has interfered with state sovereignty in violation of the 10th Amendment is to assert only a state's legal rights and interests. But in arguing that the government has acted in excess of the authority that federalism defines, Bond seeks to vindicate her own constitutional interests."
Kennedy said, "The statute ... was enacted to comply with a treaty; but (Bond) contends that, at least in the present instance, the treaty cannot be the source of congressional power to regulate or prohibit her conduct."
I'm not a lawyer, and I'm sure that someone with a lot more knowledge of the law and how this decision will be interpreted and applied has more insight into this.  But to me this says that the Supreme Court unanimously believes in a distinct limit on the federal government's power under the 10th Amendment.  It also limits how a treaty can be used against us.

There's been a lot of talk about how the 10th Amendment is dead, and for sure it's not as robust as it could be.  But a unanimous decision, including justices appointed by the current administration, just affirmed that there is still some life in the old girl.  That could have a lot of ramifications.

Also, there's been a lot of shouting about the U.N. treaty on small arms and how it could be used as a back door to force through gun control legislation.  The Supreme Court seems to have shot that down before it became a problem.  If a law based on an international treaty for chemical weapons can't be used against someone who chemically burns someone, then it would seem to me that an international treaty that restricts the private ownership, shipment, and sale of firearms could not be used as the basis for gun control laws that curtail our 2nd Amendment rights.

I'm looking forward to seeing analysis from someone who knows what they're talking about, and to see how this is applied.
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