29 February 2008

Propaganda

Propaganda is the art and science of getting large amounts of people to believe the way you want them to believe so that they do what you want them to do.

Buy war bonds, it's patriotic.

Do your part, recycle.

For the most part a simple slogan with a striking image is enough for someone to realize that the message isn't intended to inform the viewer, but to conform the viewer.

So why do people think that only governments are guilty of having propaganda machines?

I went to public school, and when my 5th grade teacher was asked, "What's the difference between Democrats and Republicans?" He answered, "Democrats care about the little guy, while Republicans care more about big business."

Don't tell me that isn't propaganda. I'm sure that Mr. Malone was telling the truth from his point of view, but reducing Democrats to "defender of the little guy" (when there are more wealthy democrats per capita than wealthy republicans) is simply propaganda.

The environmental movement has the best propaganda machine I've ever seen. A lot of crap is taught as fact. "Our landfills are filling up" was one that I was taught in public school. Anyone else remember the acronym NIMBY? Not In My Back Yard? Did everyone else learn about the trash barge Mobro and how no one would take the trash?

The truth is that American landfills are nowhere near filling up, and it has very little to do with the environmental movement. It has more to do with better management from within the waste industry and more efficient methods of business.

Of course it is also true that the number of landfills is declining. This isn't because they are "filling up" it is because it is more profitable to run fewer but larger landfills and have numerous transfer stations to put the trash on rail car. Economy of scale strikes again.

As far as I know the only industry where economy of scale doesn't apply is beekeeping.

But back to the environmental propaganda machine. According to their propaganda recycling is the answer (even though it wastes more resources than simply throwing stuff away), global warming will kill us all unless we drastically change our lifestyles (even though we have been on a cooling trend for the last six years), and that CFC's are responsible for the "hole in the ozone layer" (the "hole" is cyclical, it comes and goes EVERY YEAR).

But somehow the environmental movement has it's propaganda preached as fact to our nations youth, at least it did in my public education. Thank God I didn't drink the koolaid.

26 February 2008

What women think men shouldn't do.

http://men.msn.com/articlees.aspx?cp-documentid=6273622&GT1=10921

I will list only the items with which I happen to take umbrage. I am assuming that this list was put together to help men "get" the girl. A guy who has "gotten" the girl will break more than 50% of these within six months.

Clean your gun.

Cleaning a gun is just maintenance, like changing the oil in your car or blowing the dust from your computer case. Real men perform maintenance, and real women expect their men to protect them. If a woman is afraid of guns take her shooting (everybody smiles after their first range trip). If she is still apprehensive about "guns" then she probably doesn't need to be in a part of your life.

Tip less than 20 percent.

A "tip" is a gratuity. A gratuity is "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service". If the service isn't above and beyond, then my tip isn't above and beyond. Rewarding bad service with a tip is just as evil as stiffing a great server.

Wii.

The Wii is fun. People of all ages like fun. Including women. I think the editors of Marie-Claire should be flogged for putting this on their list.

The list contains a bunch of stuff that a guy would normally do. In some fantasy world maybe a guy would never itch, or *horror* play a video game. If this is what the readers of Marie-Claire expect of a man they are in for a huge disappointment. If a fella followed the advice of Marie-Claire then he would be selling false goods, displaying himself to be something that he isn't.

And then when she says "You aren't the man I dated (or married), the man I dated never scratched himself, or cleaned his gun at the kitchen table, or played video games!" she would have a valid point. So fellas, be as honest as you can about who you are. No one is 100% honest all the time so at least save your lies for when they are really important.

24 February 2008

So no kidding there I was....

I'd been preparing for "The Event" for quite some time. My stockpile of Wolf brand 5.56 was only half of my "comfortable level" so I hopped into the BOV (that's Bug Out Vehicle for you civilian types) and headed down to "Uncle Bob's* Gun Store and Bait Shack" for another couple cases, just in case.

I noticed that the fuel gauge was a tad under a quarter tank and I knew then and there that I needed to fill up, just in case "The Event" happened and I needed to BORT (that's Bug Out Right Then for you civvies). So I bypassed the CITGO station (communist bastards) and pulled into a BP. While pumping my fuel into the main tank on my BOV I noticed the clerk behind the counter selling a military age male a drink. This got my attention because it somehow seemed out of place, I've read on the internet that you should always pay attention to your gut, so I do.

Knowing deep within my soul that something bad was going down I raised my personal security status from "blue" to "orange". I bladed my body to the convenience store and put my right hand to the small of my back to palm my "carry piece". Some people are satisfied with a cheap import like Glock, but me I like the simplicity and reliability of the classic American pistol, the Star Model B. I chose the 9mm "B" as I call her, over a standard 45 like the awesome Norinco 1911 because I can use ammo I capture from the thugs trying to get me in case of "The Event".

The gas pump finished fueling the BOV and I waited for the machine to spit out a receipt, all the while keeping my eyes firmly on the threat inside the store.

"Hey Mr. got some change?" said a new threat to my right. I whipped around to address the new threat by pulling out the "B" and getting it on target. I slipped and fell to the pavement trapping my arm behind my back, lucky that this surprise move had caught "The Threat" off guard. I rolled left and right flailing my legs to keep "The Threat" away.

"Mr. you ok? you try to stay still while I get some help." said "The Threat" and he proceeded into the convenience store to get his buddy as he obviously knew I was more than a match for him. I did a standing base and got to my feet, decided that the receipt wasn't worth waiting around for more enemy reinforcements to arrive.

I got into the BOV, a highly modified Geo Metro, and peeled out of there using the "Rockford" technique. Unbeknownst to me someone had pulled in behind the BOV in an attempt to box me in, just like the Mujahadeen did to the Soviets in Afghanistan. My rear bumper slammed into the front of Range Rover and I decided to change tactics. I slammed the automatic transmission into "D" and exfiltrated with haste. Long ago I decided that I needed the automatic tranny even with the drop in mileage so I could shoot and drive at the same time, just like a SEAL.

Those thugs, if indeed they were thugs and not undercover mercenaries, had been lucky, if I hadn't been able to get out of there safely then the only recourse open to me was the "B". I have the "B" in condition red, locked and cocked, filled with high quality steel cased Wolf 115 grain FMJ bullets.

My gut was still giving me an uneasy feeling, and it wasn't the burrito special I had for dinner last night. Spiderman doesn't have the sense for danger that I do.

I took a couple detours on my way to Uncle Bob's* Gun Store and Bait Shack, circled the same block three times just to see if anyone was tailing me. I pulled into the parking lot and backed into a stall, nose out so that I would have maximum maneuverability in case of rapid egress. I surveyed the damage to the rear of the BOV. Nothing some 100 mile per hour tape wouldn't fix.

Uncle Bob* (name changed for his protection) knows me pretty well. When I walked in he asked, "You want the usual?" and I nodded. I try to never speak so that people don't get emotionally attached to me in case of "The Event". Bob put one box of Wolf 5.56 and 9mm each on the counter. "That'll be 17.93".

I fished exact change from my pocket, careful to sort out any pennies minted before 1982. I took the newest addition to my stockpile and left. The bad feeling in my gut decreasing the closer I got to my domain. A man's home is his castle.

The extra lock I installed on the front door of my 1977 single wide always slows me up for a second, but that's the point. Once inside I pulled the "B" and cleared each room to make sure no one had breached the perimeter. Safely inside of my sanctum I stashed my ammo with the rest of the cache in the living room. I keep a BOB (that's Bug Out Bag for you civilians) in each room just in case.

My world was once in order again, so I booted up the Celeron and logged onto the internet to share my close call.

Global Warmongering

Virgin Atlantic spokesman Paul Charles predicted this biofuel would produce much less CO2 than regular jet fuel, but said it will take weeks to analyze the data from Sunday's flight.

*gigglesnort*

Chemistry happens to be what I spent the majority of my college years studying, and I did earn a B.S. But you don't need a college degree to understand the science of combustion.

Let's use a 16 carbon chain hydrocarbon, saturated, to work out this problem.

2C16H34 + 49O2 => 32CO2 + 34H2O

Now this is the chemical notation showing that it's a one way reaction, that energy is expended breaking down long strings of carbon atoms into the most chemically stable products, carbon dioxide and water.

It doesn't matter where the hydrocarbon comes from. It can come from fossil fuels (which are nothing more than biomass that has been stored in the dirt for quite a long time) or it can come from animal or vegetable sources.

But it doesn't matter, the output in carbon dioxide is the same.

Now in order to make themselves feel better about biofuels we hear all about the "net carbon effect". The "net carbon effect" means that since carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere and fixed into a hydrocarbon by photosynthesis that when that hydrocarbon is burned and the CO2 goes back to the atmosphere there was "zero net change" in the amount of atmospheric CO2. This is bushwa.

When calculating the amount of carbon released by a fuel combusting into the atmosphere you need to take into account all the carbon released in getting that fuel into the vehicle. Last time I checked there was no country that was 100% nuke, wind, tide and solar panel powered. And even if such a country existed fossil fuels will still need to be burnt to keep the cars and trucks rolling because we don't have enough farmland to fuel all our transportation needs with biofuels.

But I wouldn't worry too much about globule warmongering, because combustion is seldom 100%. That means that the products of combustion include ash particles and such.

Aircraft engines cause noise pollution and emit gases and particulates that reduce air quality and contribute to global warming and global dimming, where dust and ash from natural and industrial sources block the sun to create a cooling effect.

I'm sure that the "warming" effect will eventually be countered by the "cooling" effect of incomplete combustion. Huzza for smog.

23 February 2008

TEOTWAWKI

In the movies John Rambo is a super soldier, Special Forces, trained in every form of combat (including how to fly a flipping helicopter). He can air insert, survive only with a knife, kill enemies to obtain more powerful weapons.

The reality is that the lone wolf on the battlefield is quickly taken down like a caribou who strayed too far from the herd. Sure the caribou may take down a wolf or two, but the outcome is not favorable to the caribou.

In real life I have never met anyone who wanted to fight alone. Soldiers fight to keep each other alive, provide each other security and protection.

Now having said that, I have to say this: I have noticed that on discussion boards that permit TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) discussions it is a common theme that people are planning a "me against the world" scenario. Calmer heads normally point out that having a huge stockpile of arms and munitions is probably not what you need to survive.

But there is nothing sexy about stockpiling horse drawn farming equipment. Having a huge stockpile of weapons and ammo must just be cooler than knowing how to grow your own food. In fact having only guns and ammo makes you much more likely to need to steal to survive than any other scenario.

I for one hope that we don't have a TEOTWAWKI situation in my lifetime. I like modern living. Computers, internet, movies, libraries, radio stations, and toilet paper. Nobody will be making toilet paper in a post apocalyptic world, which will chafe some asses. I like modern conveniences.
So have a plan, stockpile some stuff you will probably need to survive for a couple of days. You probably don't need several thousand rounds to fend of hordes of the undead, but having a basic load for enough weapons to defend yourself from looters/bandits/thieves.

So the next time someone tells you how to be "prepared", take a look at their survival plan and ask yourself if they are Mall Ninja idiots or a wannabe Rambo who will probably end up preying on others from lack of planning.

When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

I am a happily married man. My wife is happily married as well (she assures me of this). We are in fact married to each other hand have been for almost 5 years.

And yet some things will continue to astound me.

Such as the zombies. My wife loves zombie movies. Not just any type of zombie movie, but full on take over the world ohmygoodness we need to survive the apocalypse type of zombie movies.

"We" own; "Resident Evil" (all of them that have been released to DVD), "Dawn of the Dead" (remake), "Shaun of the Dead", "Planet Terror", and "Flight of the Living Dead". It is a modest core of a truly epic Zombie movie collection that will continue to grow as my wife finds Zombie movies in the bargain bin. And one book, "The Zombie Survival Guide", which I have read and agree with most of it. Not so sure about the sequel "World War Z" but maybe when it hits the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Other than the Zombie fixation my wife is about as creepy as the Easter Bunny. Little children have walked up and asked her "Are you an angel?" on more than one occasion. I don't know where it started, or why she likes zombie flicks, but there it is.

I don't think that I may ever know, but then again in the words of Oscar Wilde, "Women are to be loved, not understood."

Microstamping Madness

Microstamping is a "new" technology that in theory would help police solve crimes.

The only problem is that for microstamping to be effective there has to be a whole slew of regulatory oversight that is infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.

Having a unique serial number on a shell casing is fine IF AND ONLY IF you have the records to back it up. Who bought the firearm? Who currently owns the firearm? And since it is illegal for the ATF(e) to keep a registry of firearm owners, this technology has absolutely zero benefit to the American People. Unless the information is "shared" with Mexico so that the data can be stored there.

Now one of the proponents of microstamping claims that it is a cheaper alternative to IBIS, or Integrated Ballistic Identification System, which creates a 3d model of a bullet and uses that image to identify which gun fired the bullet.

From my perspective IBIS is preferable to microstamping for several reasons. Reason 1) it places no financial burden upon firearm owners or manufacturers. Reason 2) a Dremel tool can defeat microstamping but only a complete replacement of parts can defeat IBIS (a complete replacement of parts can also defeat microstamping)

Now to be fair, IBIS is expensive. But IBIS has already been around for 8 years and has a proven track record. IBIS works.

Microstamping will not work for exactly the same reasons why "ballistic fingerprinting" of all firearms sold in NY and MA have led to zero arrests. Keeping records of casings for every pistol sold SHOULD give law enforcement officers an edge in identifying firearms used in a crime. But over 9 million dollars spent for zero arrests. Microstamping is the exact same technology.

As a society we get to choose whether we adopt widespread use of IBIS (with the associated cost of lab upgrades), the mandatory use of microstamping, or choose neither and continue with things the way they are currently.

If we choose microstamping it will make firearms cost more but it won't help police. If we choose IBIS upgrades then we'll have to spend more on crime labs (which is probably a good idea anyways). If we choose to do nothing then we haven't increased the cost of firearms or the tax burden on ourselves.

I'm all for spending a little bit more on Law Enforcement.

22 February 2008

Hopeful lies or bitter truth?

Would you rather believe that humans are evil, or that humans are good that is corrupted by outside influence?

Actually it doesn't matter what you would rather believe, because you can find out what you really believe based on your stance on gun control.

If you believe that humans are evil, then you believe that guns are just objects used by evil people to commit crimes. Also you believe that guns are tools that less evil people use to to protect themselves from those who would victimize them.

If you believe that humans are good but corruptible then the gun is the corrupting force. You believe that it is only access to firearms that makes men kill each other. You believe that by getting rid of the corrupting force that the innate goodness of mankind will show through.

One of these beliefs is a hopeful lie, the other the bitter truth. One makes you feel good, and one doesn't.

20 February 2008

Manliness

Manliness and by extension masculinity are kinda like pornography, hard to define but you know it when you see it.

A man who spends more than 10 minutes in the bathroom each morning isn't a real man, unless he's shaving with a straight razor.

A man who cares too much about how other people care about his appearance is probably not much of a man. A man who takes care of his appearance in accordance with some societal expectation (a suit to a wedding, a dinner jacket if required) but doesn't fuss over it, is a real man.

Real men dress for the occasion whether that is chopping wood, slaying zombies, or a formal ball. A real man is comfortable with tools in his hands, whether they be a torque wrench, pen, or firearm. A real man is willing to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done, be it slaughter a cow or comfort a sick child.

Manliness is strength. Deep, quiet, reassuring strength. That reassurance can come from strength of will and character (FDR, Churchill, Reagan) or strength of body (Jesse Ventura, Vietnam Vet and SEAL).

Kim du Toit wrote his classic essay "The Pussification of the Western Male" years ago. One of his points will remain true until the end of time, it takes a man to raise a man. Everywhere you want to point to an "exception" of some single mother raising a successful man, you need to ask how that happened, and if the product really is "manly" instead of just financially successful. A lot of men raise by women point to role models other than their mom, a coach, a teacher, a grandfather, a minister.

Remember though, that there is an exception to every rule, including this one.

I wrote earlier that there are three stages where recruits wash out. The first stage is because they haven't been disciplined. The second stage is because they lack self discipline. The third because all their coping methods have been exhausted and they don't know how else to deal.

Manliness will get you through the first two danger areas, basic training and when you first get to your unit. Manliness will not help you with the third area. It takes something beyond strength to know that your own strength is exhausted, to ask for help.

And that is where some of the more modern ideas about maturity and equality can actually help us. A real man know needs to know when to not stoically take it. Society doesn't care a fig anymore for real men. To survive we have to help each other out.

Run until you can't run.
Walk until you can't walk.
Crawl until you can't crawl.
When you can't crawl find someone to carry you.

Admitting weakness isn't "strong", nor is it manly, but it is mature and necessary.

18 February 2008

Godwin's Law and the 6 stages of forum discussion

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

This is one of those things that makes the internet so fun, web forums.

I frequent a couple "gun forums". And I have found that the threads generally fall into this sequence of events.

1 The starter question.
2 The honest answers.
3 The defense of your honest answer.
4 List your credentials (can be combined with the above step).
5 The "huff" (as in walking away in a huff) in order to claim the moral high ground.
6 The Moderator Intervention (can be combined with any of the above step).

The "starter question" is usually started by a "newb" who didn't use the search function to read the copious amounts of history written by the forum members on the very subject that he is asking.

Usually something like,

Nubbe1: "I bought a Brand X widget, but some people say Brand Y widgets are better. What do you think?"

Simple enough question right? Wrong. Here come the honest answers.

GunGuru5: "You need to upgrade parts A, B, and have operation C done to your Brand X widget, but other than that it's ok."

WiseAce3: "Your Brand X widget is just fine, shoot it and have fun."

NerdNut7: "Brand X is complete crap, sell it and buy a Brand Z for only a little more."

Now that the honest answers have been written down it is time for the posters to start defending their answers. It usually goes something like this.

GunGuru5: "Brand Z? WTF are you smoking something? Brand Z doesn't have milspec dimensions and their parts aren't finished with product B."

WiseAce3: "Like I said before, your Brand X widget is just fine. My brother has one and it's got over 3k rounds through it."

NerdNut7: "Brand X is complete crap, they outsource their barrels, don't have a lifetime warranty and my buddies took a crap on him before the third mag was through it."

Notice that some posters stand by their previous statement while others attack the statements of others. This round usually doesn't last too long before advancing to "Listing Credentials" or a "Moderator Intervention". For sake of continuity we will leave the mods out of it, for now. Generally there are three types of credentials. The artisan (I work with them/repair them), the professional (I use them), and the experience card (I compete/work at a gun range/sell guns) A person can claim all three of these types of credentials, but usually only claim one.

GunGuru5: "I've been a gunsmith for 13 years, I've worked on enough Brand X widgets to know what the common problems are."

WiseAce3: "I compete in competitions, and I started out on a Brand X like most of my buddies."

NerdNut7: "My swat team tried out Brand X but we went with Brand Z because of the high number of failures we experienced during the trials."

This step can also go on for a very long time, or be cut short by a Moderator Intervention. But we will now progress onto the "huff".

GunGuru5: "I've said my piece. You guys with your years of experience gunsmithing can debate it till you're blue in the face. Later."

WiseAce3: "Laters, I know when I'm not wanted."

NerdNut7: "This isn't worth my time."

So ends the discussion unless a moderator steps in. We don't need to go over that step because it either a) locks the thread from further posts, b) gently reminds forum members to be kind and helpful, or c) deletes any portion of a post that the mod deems offending.

Now Godwin's Law comes into play usually at the "defense of honest answer" portion when someone defends by attacking. "OMG you believe that?!?! You're a nazi!" is about as articulate as it is going to get.

Guns of "The Golden Compass"

The movie didn't suck. Didn't rock either but as far as a children's book adapted to movie it was better than "Eragon".

However the armorer did some really good work arming the cast with some nice hardware. From my one watch through I identified the obvious SMLE's and Mauser rifles, and of course Sam Elliot's winchester lever rifle (a full length 94 if my guess is correct). I remember seeing one Mosin Nagant, but I would have liked to see more of them.

This is going to be a fun movie to rewatch and try to ID all the weapons used :)

17 February 2008

The sad part of leadership

Sometimes a new volunteer just isn't cutting it in the military and they wash out.

Typically there are three periods where people "wash out". First is in basic training, second shortly after they finish training and get to a real unit, and lastly right after a deployment.

The first time, in basic training, is usually because they can't make the adjustment from civilian to soldier. They can't adjust to the regimentation.

The second time, when they arrive at a unit is because they can't adjust back from the serious regimented lifestyle of training to the more relaxed "do what you want in your time off" of the regular military.

These first two times are generally in the first year of service and is is no problem to administratively separate the young soldier and get him or her back into civilian life.

The third can happen at anytime in a soldiers career when they can't decompress back into the "land of the big PX"

I've had to deal with the second an third cases of separation all within the first thirty days of showing up at my unit. Life is tough, pray for our soldiers.

15 February 2008

Armored Forces

In battle there is much to be lauded about Tanks. Tanks are a big mobile fortress with a very large gun attached. When they are on your side Tanks are a huge portion of firepower in the combined arms team.

When they are on the other side Tanks are a force to be respected.

A little history. In WWII combined arms teams came into their own as part of military science. Visionaries like Patton and Rommel moved land warfare away from the static power of the defense that characterized the US Civil War and WWI and dragged the world into the era of Maneuver Warfare. The static lines of defense warfare were dominated by entrenchments and artillery. Maneuver warfare is dominated by speed and information, "get there fastest with the mostest".

Now more modern visionaries like Gen. Tommy Franks saw that self propelled artillery when given proper access to a "maneuver information net" (whether by radio or other system) the big behemoths could move, fire, and move again as a valuable asset in maneuver warfare.

And thus we have the common denominator of US Firepower, information. Give me good information and I will win every battle. We have possibly the worlds most potent mix of weapon systems all interconnected by information systems so that we TOTALLY dominate the battlefield.

Thus endeth the Era of Maneuver Warfare. We saw it in Vietnam and the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein wasn't very smart trying to oppose the worlds most refined practitioners in an open field. The Gulf War, and later Operation Iraqi Freedom showed the world that the US is unbeatable in conventional maneuver warfare.

Which is why China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, are all working on updating their weapon systems to be comparable to US standards. I think that this is foolish, rather a waste of resources. Right now the weapon systems are effective because of integration, not because the F-15 is a totally awesome jet fighter or the Abrams is the most badass tank ever.

When we take down an opponent we start by isolating their weapon systems. Take down the air assets (radar sights, commo hubs, etc) so that the ground maneuver units have to fight without air cover. Then we use our air assets to pound their ground assets. We use our ground assets to pound their logistical base.

Tank on Tank warfare is an aberration, and in that case the better lead side usually wins. Leading is more than just tactical brilliance, but the leader who keeps his crews trained and their equipment maintained.

This is why I'm not too concerned about the new Russian/Chinese/Pakistani tanks that are going to start dominating international arms sales. While the threat from any individual weapon system is daunting, we have so many more systems to deal with the threat.

If they manage to down all our spy satellites we still have spy planes. If weather keeps the spy planes grounded we still have scouts. If they jam the radio waves to keep us from talking to each other they keep themselves from talking as well. If nothing else we have shoulder fired javelins and both mounted and dismount versions of the TOW missile that our Infantrymen can use to take out even the worlds best tanks.

That doesn't mean that as a country we don't need to stay on top of military research and continually invest in hardware/software upgrades. After all a weak link in our systems is an exploitable weakness. But warfare is going beyond combined arms maneuver warfare, and projects like "Land Warrior" are going to make that happen, eventually.

The integrated network that makes the combined arms team of infantry/armor/artillery/aviation so lethal will eventually be accessible to individual infantry. Imagine gathering data so fast that a as your soldiers pinpoint enemy locations they can give a grenadier everything he needs to take those locations out, even if he never saw them with his own eyes. This is one possible future for our military, and in this future it will be crucial to remember individual soldier skills so that when the network fails (as all complex things do on occasion) that things don't go totally haywire.

I don't have a crystal ball. Kinda wish I did.

14 February 2008

St. Valentine, or St. Patrick?

The book, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" could probably have been titled, "Men like St. Patrick's Day, Women like St. Valentine's Day".

The days that commemorate these saints clearly demarcate the differences between men and women.

Valentine's Day is all about confessing love, giving flowers, chocolates, and jewelry in the hope that you'll get a little action later on.

St. Patty's Day is all about getting pissed on Guiness at a pub with your mates whilst wearing green (or Orange for those of order of St. Mark).

One saint for women, another saint for men. The way we celebrate their days has absolutely nothing to do with what either saint did in their life. In fact much like Christmas these "Holy Days" have been secularized to the point where we do things just because we have been conditioned to do them.

Could be worse. Could be we have totally forgotten the actions that go with our more "Pagan" holdidays like "May day".

But whether you are a devout Christian or not, I hope that you and the one you love enjoyed this wonderful day. It was wonderful for me because I got off work before the sun set, and whenever that happens it is reason for celebration. Which I did (celebrate) with copious amounts of beer.

13 February 2008

Genitals

There have been exactly two men whom I have known in my decade spanning military career who have taken pride in unbuttoning the fly of their uniform trousers and pulling out their scrotum for all the world to see.

The first guy just happened to do it at random while I was at Camp Mackall in SFAS (that is another story). The other is now one of my subordinates. When I say he has big balls I mean it, in any way you care to interpret "big balls".

The common denominator between the two (who do not know each other as far as I am aware) is that they both hailed from Ft. Lewis, but did not originate from the Pacific Northwest. Although two incidents do not make a trend, I am beginning to think that our rainy weather just might be affecting the mental stability of servicemen assigned to Ft. Lewis.

It is interesting that both men use the same ball "bareing" technique, the scrotum hanging freely while the penis itself hides shyly, tucked modestly away. If past experience is indicative of future performance, in the next decade I will meet two more men who will feel an overwhelming desire to show the world their nutsack. Oh what a life I lead...

11 February 2008

Military not ready says Independent Commission, Pentagon responds with, "Well Duh!"

Look at the budget priorities. Do you really see legislators spending, literally Billions of dollars on equipment that will NEVER go to war, NEVER do anything but lose value, and only be useful if and when America gets hit by a chem/nuke/bio weapon?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,327071,00.html?sPage=fnc/politics/pentagon

The commission's 400-page report concludes that the nation "does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available" to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, "an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk."

"Right now we don't have the forces we need, we don't have them trained, we don't have the equipment," commission Chairman Arnold Punaro said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Even though there is a lot going on in this area, we need to do a lot more. ... There's a lot of things in the pipeline, but in the world we live in — you're either ready or you're not.

There is absolutely no way for ANY government to have a ready force that is massive enough, agile enough, and ready enough to satisfy the publics need for "security" and stay in a reasonable budget.

Oh yeah, and by the way, if there ever was a nuke attack, it wouldn't matter how "ready" we are to deal with it, life would just suck. Chemical isn't so bad, contrary to the Hollywood version of nerve gasses, it takes a metric ton of the stuff to kill a metric ton of people.

You wanna know how it will go down? If it's a nuke, well then kiss a large number of people goodbye, nothing to do but sweep up the ashes.

If it's chemical or "radiological" (conventional bomb laced with nuclear waste) then it won't kill many people right away, but as lots of people with traces of the agent crowd themselves into Emergency Rooms the hospitals will quickly become overwhelmed and unable to function. You wanna know the fix to this thing? Israel already figured it out. Showers. Yup, turn a parking lot into one big outdoor shower area where you can wash patients clean of contamination. It's a one time investment with minimal maintenance costs. And what does this have to do with the Reserves or National Guard? Not a damn thing.

When I was in the Reserves while finishing college I went on a two week Annual Training where we learned to set up a patient decontamination station. It is easy. Even weekend warriors can do it. But it won't be able to get anywhere fast enough to help those initially contaminated. In fact it is hard to get a Federal reserve asset ANYWHERE in less than 72 hours.

Solution? Let the local state and city assets learn how to set up and run some showers. It is easy to deploy an asset that you have right there at the scene. Even a simple solution like using a fire truck to spray a rainbow of water onto naked people while they get scrubbed down with a soapy bleach solution. It works, it's cheap, and you don't need to go calling on the feds to fix your flipping problem.

Unless you are New Orleans or Ray Nagin.

"NorthCom has got to get religion in this area," said Punaro. He said the military needs to avoid "pickup game" type responses, such as the much-criticized federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and put in place the kind of detailed plans that exist for virtually any international crisis.

What was the detailed plan for the Tsunami? What was the detailed plan for the Pakistani earthquake? What was the detailed plan for all the deaths that happened in French Nursing Homes because of a hot August?

That's right kids, if you said "zip zilch nada none zero nothing" then give yourself a pat on the back. Crisis management can only be a pickup football game, because if you have a canned response for it, like say SNOW in South Dakota winter, then it ISN'T a crisis. Even if a blizzard totally shuts down South Dakota or Wyoming it isn't a crisis because the locals are smart, tough, and independent.

As opposed to the citizens of New Orleans who have been sucking off the public welfare tit for three generations. Self reliance will solve your problems, cause you are in for a damn disappointment if you expect the National Guard to solve your problem.

10 February 2008

Dogs and Marines stay off the grass.

It seems like the Marines can't catch a break lately.

The Toledo Blade reports that Toledo Mayor Carty
Finkbeiner ordered the Marines out Friday as their buses were arriving for a three-day training mission in the city, where they have periodically trained since 2004.

The 200 Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., had planned to participate in urban patrol exercises in downtown streets and a vacant building, according to the Blade, which reports that past exercises have included mock gun fights, ambushes and the firing of blank ammunition to simulate urban combat.

Finkbeiner said that would be alarming.

"The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people," Brian Schwartz, the mayor's spokesman, told the newspaper. "He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330197,00.html

It seems that people want a heavily armed military ready to do their bidding at a moments notice. It also seems that they don't want to see it, that maybe if they keep us chained up like a junkyard dog they won't have to think about why we are there in the first place.

The things that go bump in the night need a response that bumps harder.

Sometimes that means sending Marines into streetfights to clear buildings, one by one. Evidently Mayor Fink would rather watch Marines clear buildings on CNN where real bullets fly than in Toledo with blanks.

What a dick.


09 February 2008

Met Joe Huffman

If you have never heard of "Dr. Joe's Cure for Everything" you probably need to get over to http://blog.joehuffman.org/ and read for a bit.

You can thank me later.

Anyways it was a random chance encounter at the Cabelas store. He and a buddy were wearing "Boomershoot" jackets and I recognized Joe's hat.

High thee hence.

06 February 2008

Medical costs less for obese and smokers

A Dutch study found that since obese people die of heart attack and smokers die of lung cancer at an earlier age than thin fit healthy people they cost less in medical expenses overall.

Basically because healthy people live longer they have a higher risk of dieing of something rarer and more expensive.

So eat that donut and light up a stogie, it might cost less over the long run for someone else.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,328367,00.html

04 February 2008

Soldier, Ask Not

Science fiction/fantasy has always had themes of great individuals who steer the course of history.

Gordon R. Dickson explored that a bit in his "The Childe Cycle", Frank Herbert reveled in it in the Dune series, and Robert Jordan based "The Wheel of Time" series around it.

The idea is that there is a web/mesh/net of humanity that pulls average people along whether they want to go with the flow or not. But a few select/selected individuals who can channel the ebb and flow, the direction of travel. Usually the story involves some great push to get humanity "further" or "forward". In the case of Jordan it is to keep humanity and out of darkness.

In both Dickson's and Herbert's works humanity has specialized because of colonization of different planets. The warrior Dorsai, the mentats of IX. In Jordan's works humanity hasn't fractured but culture has splintered in a feudal manner.

I notice similarities between things, notice themes that come up. I don't know why this particular theme keeps popping up in fiction, but maybe because it has such powerful stories in real history.

Would Patton have been Patton without Rommel? Would Churchill have been Churchill without Hitler?

Do heroes create the situation so that they rise to the occasion, or do they rise to the occasion because they are heroes?

Interesting things to think about.

03 February 2008

Berkely Councilperson not a history buff

“I’m ashamed of my vote,” said Councilwoman Betty Olds, who helped approve the parking spot but not the condemnation. “The protesters should have free speech - this is where Free Speech was born, after all - but to tell the Marines they are not welcome is shameful. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t even go for the parking spot.”

Contrary to what Betty Olds may believe, free speech didn't spontaneously come into existence at UC Berkely.

For those not familiar with the story of "Free Speech" it begins in a long time ago, 1789 to be exact, when a man named James Madison put forth some changes he thought should keep the Federal Government in check. In 1791 those amendments, the Bill of Rights, became law as the Constitution finished it's ratification process.

UC Berkely wasn't even a glimmer in Benedict Arnold's eye in 1791.

Many men and quite a few women fought and died to give us the freedoms that we enjoy. There are many liberals that believe the Bill of Rights "gives us the right to say what we want". They couldn't be more wrong, the Bill of Right LIMITS what the government can do. The first ten amendments don't grant anything, they only keep the government from taking God given rights away. God given means that you have them just because you are a human being.

Berkely would do well to remember that, because running a Marine Recruiting office out of town wouldn't be a victory for "free speech" any more than impeding Stryker vehicles moving through the Port of Olympia would be a victory for "peace and justice". It would be a disgraceful tyranny of a vocal minority imposing their will on the majority. This is what the founding fathers, and normal men and women, fought so hard and shed so much blood to be rid of. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom to choose for ones self. If you happen to be a college grad who wants to choose to serve as an officer in the Marine corps, well the city of Berkely doesn't want you to be able to make that choice.

But hey, it's ok to trim a little "fat" off the constitution if it makes you feel good right?

02 February 2008

One step forward, two steps back.

The average Iraqi man is fed up with Al Quaeda and is willing to join a local militia group to keep his neighborhood safe. "Concerned Local Citizens" or CLC groups have greatly improved the security situation in Iraq.

But it has also primed Baghdad for civil war a la Beruit.

Religious extremists (who just might happen to belong to a CLC) have also begun persecuting Iraqi women who don't dress the way they think a woman should dress. Persecution in the form of kidnapping and killing also happens for simple things like, ahem, having a job.

So security improves, but at the same time turns women into second class citizens and primes the country for civil war.

You know some countries just need a ruthless dictator to make people play nice. Tito in Yugoslavia, Saddam in Iraq....