21 April 2009

Photo woes

Does anyone know of a free blogger app for the iPhone?

17 April 2009

Update

We cram a combat brigade into an area the size of two walmart parking lots and stores. While we are preparing to operate over hundreds of square miles we end in so condenced that we can't all leave at once.

Keegan wrote that all military units exist in a state of unreadiness. He was right. It takes a lot of effort to dominate the battlespace. Vehicle maintenance, stocking supplies, even getting used to the climate.

I can't figure out how to post pics from the phone, so use your imagination for now.

The best general attacks the enemies alliances.
The next best attacks his plans.
The next his support.
The worst us to attack his enemies Army.
Sun Tzu

Right now we are at our most vulnerable, but like all risks we mitigate it by having others ready to fight and defend us.

16 April 2009

NTC

Made it to Fort Irwin. Posting from my iPhone. Will see how this works.

14 April 2009

Dollhouse

I loved "Firefly" and "Buffy". I watched "Angel" just because. I absolutely hated the first episode of "Dollhouse".

The premise is that people become templates for humans to order. It's a high tech brothel, but the twist is that you can order a safe cracker, ninja, or computer hacker right alongside your dominatrix schoolgirl.

Thankfully unless there are secret labs out there with unlimited funding and no morals the science to be able to do anything like in "Dollhouse" is firmly in the realm of science fiction. The first moral problem with "Dollhouse" is the subtext of coercion. Making someone do something against their will, that they would not normally do, is morally repugnant.

The girl gone wild who has always been a closet exhibitionist isn't doing anything against her will when she flashes her tatas for the camera. She may regret her actions later, but the choice was hers and the experience was hers. Which brings up the second morally repugnant part of "Dollhouse", the idea that you can have your fantasy fulfilled without consequences.

There are always consequences. The justifications "we are giving people what they want" and "everyone chose to be here" are lame. Predators seek their prey at their weakest. Humans aren't machines who will always choose the logical choice, if we were crack dealers would be completely out of business.

I watched two episodes on Hulu to catch up. And I feel dirty, ashamed, and angry. The world of "Dollhouse" is one where money can buy you everything, where law and order are nice concepts for the little people, where human lives are bought and sold on a whim. I feel dirty because it takes the humanity out of human experiences, like "The Stepford Wives". I feel ashamed because I understand the appeal of such a world. And I feel angry because I know that we really do live in such a world.

One of the most endearing traits of "Firefly" was gritty hope. The belief that through sheer guts, know how, and a little luck that they would make it to the next episode. That trait is gone from "Dollhouse", and in its place is a cynical fatalism.

Of course in the light of "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" the death of hope is the price for success. I will keep watching "Dollhouse", because even though there may be no hope on the screen, there has to be some in the audience.

12 April 2009

Gun swapping...

Since I will be out of the state for the next gunshow, I handed three Mauser rifles to Victor (the older bro) to sell for me. I gave him my asking prices, and my minimum prices. People feel like they get a deal if they can talk you down a bit. Two of them have good bores, one has a shootable bore and all of them are in good firing condition, a Turk K.Kale, a German Gew98 remarked to ATF54 by the Turks, and an FN Israeli 7.62. The Israeli has a bit of corrosion in the bore towards the muzzle, but the chamber and throat are just fine.

I want a new rifle, specifically a Savage MkII-FVT which will fulfill the role of "poor man's Anschutz" for me. I get a lot of pleasure from shooting small groups, and even though I can't reload 22lr it is still economical to shoot. So the goal is to sell the milsurps and get enough money to buy the new 22.

Hopefully there will be some young shooter (or old collector) who desperately needs on of these centerfire rifles to satisfy some shooty urge. It would be a much better fate than languishing unshot in my collection.

11 April 2009

From MadOgre.com

I was spending a little time with one of my boys when he said that he wanted to join the Army. It felt like icewater suddenly started pumping through my heart. He then said he wanted to be a sharpshooter. “A professional shooter, like you.” This is one of those strange moments that pop up and catch you right between the eyes all unexpectedly. On one hand, you feel the pride of your son's patriotism, and his love because he “wants to be like you”... but then you feel that chill... knowing what such a life would bring and the risks involved. The ethical and emotional trauma that could be faced. If I could pick a career for this lad, it wouldn't be in Combat Arms. I'll support him in whatever choice he makes – I'll have his back. But I'd rather see him get into another line of work.

I've wondered lately what my new son will do with his life. Paternally my great grandfather was a cowboy and then a Forest Ranger, my grandfather was a college professor with a Ph.D., and my father is a machinist. Maternally my great grandfather was a butcher, and my grandfather was a contractor. I am a soldier.

What my son chooses to do with his life will be his own choice and decision, each generation has to find it's own way in the world. Parents can do their very best and raise strong, intelligent, and honorable children, but how can you then be disappointed when they choose dangerous and challenging careers?

Where a little bird may fly once they leave the safety of the nest is enough to scare anyone who knows the dangers of the world. The only real option is to arm them as best you can before they leave.

Anti-Virus scams

I'm using Ubuntu 8.10.

So I laugh when I come across one of these: http://scanner.rapid-antivir-2009.com/35/?advid=4944&ref=60&p=1000000000

It's nothing more than a scam to scare the ignorant and gullible into downloading malware.

If you are browsing and a screen pops up like that with all the "Windows Defender" Icons and "scanning C:\" in your browser, even if you are using windows it is nothing but a scam.

Range Report

I spent some time at the range with my brother yesterday. We'll call older bro "Victor" so that he will remain safely anonymous on the old interweb.

9.3x62, still not bad at all on the shoulder.

8x57, still fun to shoot.

The most interesting portion was the work we did with 308 and 22lr. Victor's CZ is a tack driving rifle topped with a 4-12x50 Swift scope, and he brought Federal Auto Match ammunition to run through it. My savage MkII is an 80 dollar Walmart abortion from years ago with iron sights and I brought bargain brick Remington ammo.

Victor and I shot his match ammo through both rifles, and my cheap ammo through both rifles at 15 yards. Both rifles shot both brands "tight" even though the sights on my Savage are horrible. Since we are nothing if not curious we used his CZ to see how both brands of ammo would do at 100 yards. The match ammo shot tighter at that distance by at least an inch.

Next we did some work with our heavy barreled 308's, but for the first time at this range we did all our shooting from the prone instead of the bench. I couldn't even get on paper at 100, with the same zero as last time, shooting the same load that shot sub-MOA last time. It turns out that the my head placement was to blame. The slip on recoil pad I use to adjust the length of pull from the bench puts my head too far back from the prone, and the rim of my glasses hid the shadowing effect. Pulled off the recoil pad and all returned to the shooty goodness that I expect from my rifle.

We also played around with his FAL and a few AK's, mainly to diagnose any problems affecting reliability. I need to grind a little bit off the hammer of my AK to reduce drag on the bolt carrier group, but that is an easy operation.

Yorkshire Terriers

from Marko's Safari Search

what’s wrong with yorkies?

Like most small dogs, Yorkies have a mental condition that makes them think they’re roughly twenty times their actual size. In addition, they’re difficult to groom, and easily broken when accidentally stepped on. They’re basically two pounds of matted fur and attitude, usually held together with a cute bow.

Now Marko has a point about the average Yorkie, and there are reasons for it. Little dogs are still dogs, but a lot of Yorkie owners treat their little bundle of energy like a perpetual puppie or substitute child/grandchild to spoil. This is a breed that was developed to kill rats in coal mines, no wonder they have behavior problems when they are treated like a dress up doll.

And a spoiled Yorkie is nothing but attitude, the same way a spoiled child is nothing but attitude. People can "get away with" spoiling a Yorkie because they can't do the damage that a German Shepherd or Labrador can do, and therefore people put up with a lot of bad behavior because "they are so cute" while they misbehave.

As a Yorkie owner I have done three things that ensure my dog is well behaved. First I treat her like a DOG. That means that I am the master, the pack Alpha (in wolfpacks the Alpha is always a female). Secondly I take ownership of her behavior, if she is doing something wrong it is up to me to correct it. Third, I got my wife on board with the discipline since consistent signals from the humans makes it a lot easier for the dog to figure out boundaries and behavior.

And voila, our Yorkie doesn't have the discipline problems that are so common with the breed.

So if you are thinking about getting a Yorkie, remember that they are a high energy breed (like most terriers), very intelligent, and require a lot of dedication. They are not a breed to get "because they are so cute", this is a living being not a fashion accessory. If you have experience with high energy big breeds like Samoyeds or Golden Retrievers then a Yorkie will be no problem for you, but if you have no experience with dogs at all, then perhaps a lower energy breed is a better option.

09 April 2009

The social contract

The idea of a "social contract" is tricky. Ask a hippie about a "social contract" and you'll get a much different answer than if you ask an infantryman.

Generally people will agree that being a good person, behaving responsibly, and being a man of your word (we get the phrase "bonafide" from the Latin for "good word"). After that sort of general agreement hippies sort of meander into meaningless phrases like "socioeconomic justice". If you don't believe that "socioeconomic justice" is a meaningless phrase, just ask a hippie to define it in concrete terms.

But I like to break the "social contract" down into more concrete terms. If it isn't something that you would want done to you and yours, it probably violates the "social contract". That means if some random stranger walks up to you on the street and demands your money and firearm you would think that he is crazy, so you had better expect your Government to not act like a stranger.

We are a Republic, and taxes make all sorts of good things possible, from roads to police officers to a professional Army. Taxes are controlled by the most powerful branch of our government, Congress. Congress is the only branch of government that can change the Constitution, although lately it has been ignoring our founding document without the judicial branch keeping it in check.

And that is part of our broken social contract, when it stops working. When the Government starts treating us like random strangers on the street who demands our money and possessions. When somehow it becomes OK or normal to treat each other in ways that we wouldn't want ourselves to be treated, that is wrong.

Jose Padilla may have been guilty as sin, but being held for three years without being charged is inexcusable. Holding people without charging them for a crime is something that oppressive regimes do...oh wait.

The Patriot Act is nothing of the sort. The new Cybersecurity act will finish off the First amendment the same way the second and fourth have already died a gory death.

I am afraid that our "social contract" is being changed for the worse.

08 April 2009

Israeli Mausers

A few days back Tam posted about the "Holy Grail" of rifle collecting, a Papal Marked Remington. I will admit that it would be teh ultim8 in supernatural slayage. A more common milsurp is the Israeli Mauser.

The story of the the "Izzy's" (also a nickname of firearms manufactured at Izhevsk in Russia but that is another post) starts with the German K98. The newly formed nation of Israel needed arms for defense (being surrounded by hostile nations is justification for a standing Army) and the recently defeated Nazi Germany had a bunch of K98's laying about, and so the weapons of oppression were sent to the Holy Land by various means to defend the children of Abraham. Of all the methods used to send rifles to Israel, only Czechoslovakia kept good records.

Incidently those Nazi markings were peened off as armorers were able, living proof that tools have no inate power either good or evil. The power of a weapon comes from the wielder.

The Mauser rifle became the standard arm for the Israeli Military, and when the 7.62x51 Nato came into existence the rebranded K98's were rebarreled to the new caliber and a big "7.62" stamped onto the receiver ring. Also Isreal enterred into contract with FN to produce new rifles in 7.62x51 and these I believe are some of the finest examples of a military bolt action rifles ever built.

Now the Military Crest of Israel isn't exactly the holy symbol of the Vatican when it comes to evoking thoughts of supernatural authority over the undead, but in terms of a rifle actually used to protect things that are Holy, the Israeli Mauser trumps the Papal Marked Remington.

A little side note, Dr. Ruth was a trained sniper in Israel. And if I remember correctly she used a scoped Mauser rifle. Hopefully on Friday I will get to start cleaning out two FN manufactured Israeli Mausers.

07 April 2009

Sometimes the dragon wins...

Once upon a time there was a cartoon with a happy looking dragon using a lance as a toothpick, and the caption read "Sometimes the Dragon wins..."

No matter how hard you train, how dilligently you practice, how good your habits are, nothing is foolproof.

There are a lot of "what if's" and "what gun is better" and "would a Samurai beat a Gladiator?" sort of discussions. The History Channel has upped the ante with the series "Ultimate Warrior" as if somehow taking humans out of the equation can answer who is the bigger badass.

All men are created equal only in terms of legal representation. This idea flies in the face of "Divine Right", the idea that "I am King because I was born to be King because God ordained it so. To defy me is to defy God". Our American version is simple, that God created with all men to have an equal say in their government.

Men are not created equally in terms of talent, dedication, and environment. Our upbringing, who raises us, is perhaps the most significant factor in determining long term success and survival in our society.

Now that we have these two concepts down, that training doesn't guarantee survival and that men are different, let's get to the point. Being as good as you can be is your best bet at winning. Any trapping of qualification that you earn, whether it is a SEAL trident, Ranger tab, College Diploma, certificate of training from Nacho Pizza Master of Four Weapons, is nothing more than proof that you met minimum requirements.

That is why you can't decide that an Aztec Warrior armed with an obsidian spiked club is a less lethal fighter than a Kung Fu practitioner from the Boxer rebellion. The labels that we put on people are based on some minimum standard, not a maximum. After all, the Professional British "Redcoat" Army had a very hard time against Kentucky irregulars and Afghans alike.

So while it is fun to argue about tactics and training, sometimes the dragon wins. And it is important to recognize that, so we don't train for EVERY scenario, but the most likely ones.

An instructor of mine was asked, "What would you do if somebody snuck up behind you and hit you over the head with a lead pipe?"

His answer was succinct, "Go into a coma and die three days later." Because he knew that having a black belt isn't a guarantee of success or survival.

04 April 2009

Resistance?

Part of my job as a professional Soldier is to study warfare. That means I get to sit around and "think about stuff" on occasion and discuss "stuff" with my fellow Soldiers. With Operation Iraqi Freedom slowing down to the end, I've been thinking long and hard about all the different systems of government that have held sway over that land.

Specifically I've been thinking about the fall of civilizations and the reign of terror that usually follows. There once was a great Empire that had an unbeatable Army, but due to costly wars on the edges of civilization, massive inflation caused by unfettered spending and the devaluation of currency that empire fell, broke in two and cast the world into chaos. Later on the empire of the Czars would fall from within to an immoral philosophy of slavery, and before the span of four score years that empire would collapse from the same problems as the Romans, foreign wars at the edge of civilization, massive inflation and currency devaluation.

Empires are not replaced with benevolent dicatorships or Republics. Empires crumble and descend into chaos, often dragging their neighbors down with them. Right now the USA has an unbeatable Army, engaged in wars at the edges of civilization, rampant spending of the public coffers causing devaluation of the currency and massive inflation...

How far do you go in resisting tyranny? Either in the last ditch efforts of the crumbling Empire to maintain control or against the Tyrants who rise to fill the gap?

Do you line the approach to your front door with a long inverted V cutting charge to take the legs out from under an assault team?

Do you dig tunnels of egress from your home and camouflage them from aerial surveillance?

Do you preposition arms and ammunition at different fighting positions so that you can shoot and run without being weighed down with a rifle?

Do you place a deep buried anti-vehicle explosive in your driveway to stop the armored vehicle of the Jack Booted Thugs?

Do you make 5 inch fireworks mortars and your own shells filled with steel shot to negate the advantage of air superiority?

Do you build an EMP bomb to fry the communications of those hunting you?

How much can you get away with destroying before there is nothing left worth preserving? How do you transition from resisting tyrants to building a functional society? There are some that would argue anarchy is a functional society but historically they don't work so well.

I don't want my government to fail, my society to collapse, but history teaches us that nothing lasts forever. So now I've been thinking about what to do when the oppressors come. After all, if you were facing one of Stalins purges, wouldn't you want to resist?

03 April 2009

Vaccine Controversy at the Munchkin Wranglers

http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/my-ambiguous-opinion-on-vaccinations/#comment-14409

Marko has a valid opinion. Vaccinating is safer than not. However that is not saying that vaccines are perfectly safe, just that statistically they are safer than nothing.

What amazes me is that a man can pound someone else as "unscientific" and have a huge amount of commentors who are spouting psuedo-science supporting him.

Marko claims that there is no credible evidence linking vaccines and autism. That is false as there are multiple studies that have found varying degrees of correlation between vaccines and autism. One of the problems with "credibility" in science when it comes to public health and safety issues is that each side attacks the credibility of the other side. The IPCC reports are prime examples of political doctrine with a bunch of Ph.D's who signed on. Vaccination has even less serious research going into it than climate change, so we can expect REAL science to move forward at an even slower pace.

As a human being I know that when there is no clear road map we really will try anything to see if there is benefit. Parents of autistic children are no different. But blatantly repeating "Vaccines are safe" and insulting parents who don't agree is not going to solve anything.

01 April 2009

Survival Options

John "Oh No" Ringo expanded on the traditional "Fight or Flight" survival options in one of his "Council Wars" books. Instead of a binary choice it became "Fight, Flight, Freeze, Submit".

These are natural responses to danger. Two of them can be used against environmental distasters like earthquake or tornado, Flight and Freeze. But they can all be used when confronted by another human being.

"Don't fight a rapist, it'll only hurt more". Is the advice given by someone who refuses to even acknowledge the "Fight" option. Submission is a horrible option, and history is filled with the examples of those who choose to submit being cruely abused and slaughtered wholesale by their oppressors.

I believe that submission is the choice of last resort. When you can't run anymore, when hiding hasn't concealed you, when you can no longer fight, then submission becomes a viable option. In the military we call that "surrender". Surrender is a dirty word, with it comes feelings of shame and failure.

There is a difference between being captured and choosing to surrender. John McCain was captured, he never surrendered.

In the Phillipines during the Japanese advance down the Luzon, the rearguard knew that they would be abandoned, and they fought until they ran out of ammo, they fled south until their backs were against the sea on the Battan peninsula, they hid in the jungle until they could no longer hide, and then the order came to surrender. And so they did, and the Death March that followed thinned their ranks again. The atrocities of the enemy were every bit as horrible as those committed by the Nazi's.

Years would pass before the survivors were rescued from the prison camps. Years would thin their ranks steadily.

But when I think about the rearguard action of the Phillipines I don't feel shame. They did not surrender because they were cowards, only because they could no longer fight, flee, or hide. They exhausted all their options and by doing so bought the time for MacArthur to escape and begin the process of taking back the Pacific. General Wainwright gave the order to surrender, agonizing over it for years in captivity.

This is why self defense is such an important concept. This is why gun rights are so important. A gay man who can't run isn't going to get any less bashed by submitting to it. A librarian with a prosthetic foot needs the effective means to fight those that are bigger, faster, and stronger. Two attractive women sharing a house could be a tempting target to criminal.

I will never tell the ones I love to "not resist". Resist with all your might, value your life above the human shaped scum attacking you. Even if you fail to stop your attacker you will have preserved your self respect and dignity. Because you were forced to submit doesn't make you a quitter, and there is honor in fighting even when you know you can't win.

Because there is a flip side to the story of Gen Wainwright and the Battle of Luzon. After being liberated in 1945 he witnessed the surrender of Japan on the deck of the Mighty Mo. Later he would personally receive the surrender of the Japanese Commander in the Phillipines. For his actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

He didn't win the encounter, but he survived and went on to continue to fight. So if you have to submit to an oppressor, let it be surrounded by smoking brass with blood soaked fingers.