Thursday, February 22, 2018

Don't Video Yourself Commiting Felonies

Scott Pappalardo decided that somehow his AR-15 was a danger to humanity. He jumped over all the other things he might have done and decided to destroy it on video to make a moral statement. 

The BBC is sharing that video like Ol' Scotty has just discovered a cure for cancer.

However, what Mr. Pappalardo actually did was commit a felony on camera. He cut off the barrel of his AR-15 rifle. He had made and is now in possession of an unregistered short barreled, single shot, rifle. 

I look forward to hearing more about his entanglement with the BATFE in the near future.

Notes from Canada

Glen Filthie's observations on the gun laws in Canada, enforcement, and reality.

You should read the whole thing, but here's my favorite quote.
If I had one recommendation for Americans, it would be this: if the Second Amendment falls - then you let those liberal fart suckers know that it ALL falls. Their right to free speech goes out the window with your right to keep and bear arms. That in turn should be a declaration of war against those who support the Constitution, and those that won't. Because once you let one group of miscreants start chipping away at it - they will ALL want to re-write it in their favour.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Restoring Ourselves - A Brigid Guest Post

It was that time of the evening when things grow both restless and weary.The sun has dipped below the horizon, just enough light remaining to make out the forms of a couple of bicycles strewn across a lawn down the street, abandoned by children called in to supper. Piled up in the corner by where I sit and read are Abby is the pile of Abby's "stuffies" laying as if napping, where they will remain this late afternoon until she gently carries them to her dog bed at night, to sleep by her side.

As I get ready to go out for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood before dark, it's not hard to see the houses that have big screen TV's in the living room as they are directly evident if the windows are open, or providing that tell tale glare of light through the curtains. For many people, the TV is on as soon as they walk in the door, People come home, turn on the television, turn on the video games, draw the blinds, their view of the world that which comes through on the TV, losing imperceptibly their sense of the outside, of the world beyond a news anchor.

If someone walked past our porch at night, they'd see no such light. For we don't have a big screen TV. We don't have a TV at all, but for a small one in the in basement where we can get the weather with an antenna on the roof if we're down there due to Mr. Tornado.  If we want to watch a favorite show we have boxed sets, (cheaper than cable) from which to pick, watching on the computer monitor that can be turned to face the cozy futon in the office. Even that is something we only do on some weekends.
The crash pad where I lived after I got married, but before I was able to transfer to our Chicago facility, had a nice TV from my old house, but it was given to the young couple in need who are got all of the furniture, which we really have neither need nor room for up here.  They had lost everything in a natural disaster, and on a waiting list to adopt a baby, were anxious to be able to provide a furnished home.  They rented a small house, I provided all of the contents of mine, and they were finally at ease, that baby coming along in two months time from an unwed mother loving enough to give her child up to a good home.  Some things just work themselves out.

I'm fine with my smaller, older home. But anyone curious or casing this place to rob it would see hardwood floors, restored antique furniture, lots of leaded and stained glass and a Victrola, my service revolver in the nightstand and a few vintage LEO pistols of generation's past carefully locked up in the safe.
As big and beautiful as it was, I don't miss my old house.  It was your typical McMansion, those huge suburban  houses that are less home than monopoly game house squares of plastic and cheap lumber and wasted spaced.  What wood is there is usually laminate, the walls not thick enough to withstand a really good storm or the thump of a neighbors bass played too loud. They look OK now, but I can't imagine what it will take to sustain them 100 years from now, if they're even still standing.  But they are big  and "new!" with three car garages full of a lot of things that aren't paid for yet, the neighbors house so close you can't swing a tax assessor without whacking your next door neighbor. Some didn't even have furniture - the people buying them not having enough money after buying the too big house to properly furnish it.
Our house is old, it's small and it's sturdy.  There is no big mortgage, there is no credit card debt for the furnishings.  But for a small table that was a family heirloom, everything in our view we bought with cash, or picked from curbside trash, restoring it as best we can, those items that another found to have little worth.  I think the only things well under 50  years old in the house are the computer, the mattress, the frame of a couch we restored and the two beloved souls I live with, both two and four legged.

I've had a couple casual acquaintances look at the sagging porch that needs to be redone, the antiquated kitchen and a sun porch that makes the Green Acres house look upscale and make a subtlety snarky comment about it. They're not invited back. It's a work in progress, the whole house being a restoration project, much of the work on things you won't see on the surface. I look at it differently, I guess.  I don't see what still needs to be done.  I see what HAS been done.
The little village within the big city we live in is small, with a train station, a small grocers, a mom and pop pizza place and a couple of pubs.  The houses themselves are grey, white, brown or brick, no trendy Victorian doll house colors, no urban renewal shades of  yuppie reclamation.  The houses and porches are the shades of time and shadow and quiet murmured voices gathered between columns, as if time and breath had made them all one quiet color, a hushed vestibule where all is forgiven.

Within a short drive is a trendy urban area where people live in half a million dollar apartments, taking the train into the city, some not even owning cars as every bit of millennial spender and excess is within walking distance. We do go there as that's where the big home improvement store is.  That's where we bought all the copper pipe and wood for the house and a nice runner for the hall at a good discount, because the young man with the trendy haircut couldn't multiply $12.97 times 6 on a piece of paper when the calculator went missing.

No, I'll pass on all the "hip" places unless they have tools.  I'm perfectly happy browsing in an antique book store or standing in line at the grocer with elderly Polish women.  Dressed as if they are going to church, many of them have survived more than one war, holding our numbers and waiting for the deli clerk to slice meat that was roasted in the store, not unwrapped from cellophane, shaving the meats and the cheese and carefully wrapping them up for me with a smile. There's homemade sausages, salads, and potato pancakes, foods known well to the immigrants that settled in this place. I'll pass on the toaster strudel, and buy one of the real thing, made by hand, breathing in the scent of sugar and yeast as I head home with my bounty, driving past an ancient church and a small park which knows know only the shades of those first children that played there.
Am I just getting old - looking at the past as simply stories of youth and bravery, doomed to forgetfulness as I eventually pass, as we all will, those points of affection and regret into a fog that quietly dims the lights? Or have I simply changed what parts of the world are important to me based on how I have touched the world, and it has touched me in return?

I think it is the latter.  Getting to middle age is is some way, like surviving a war.  There are false truces and negotiations, retreat and reconciliation, triumph and treachery. In the end, if you are lucky, there is peace, your warrior's medals and ribbons being internal, only recognized when you look into the mirror and see those first lines around your eyes and smile because you know that despite it all, your sustained breath is its own little victory.
It's a peace I enjoy and as some of my peers rush around getting Botox and fillers, putting on enough makeup to make Krusty the Klown jealous. I'm perfectly content to put on sweat pants and tactical lip gloss and just hit the road, face bare and long red ponytail trailing behind me like those red warning flags you see on timber hanging off the bed of a fast moving little pick up.

So tonight, I'll  take a jog down through the village across the railroad tracks and down past the old church.  In the small graveyard there stands upon a grave site, a  stone angel, her shadow painting a canvas of dimming light as I move past.  She is a melancholy spirit, crafted in another century, her eyes closed as if in prayer, her mouth open as if she turned to stone in the moment she uttered her life's final secret.  Around the grave there is a garland of living flowers, grown wild, even as the rest of the small graveyard fades to dust, flowers reaching for one last bit of sun, there amidst the silent stones, the histories that live on in this place.
I wonder how many people have walked past her, with earbuds on, or their head down with texting, not realizing the significance of a forgotten grave - that one small thing, that soul - at one time, the most important thing in the world to someone, held through sickness and health, and cherished even as they grew old and faded as flowers will.

How many now, truly possess that which holds weight and value, something that when viewed, when held, lights up the eyes with the triumphs of all risks and renunciations. Or have we become a society of the easy and disposable, be it a product, a relationship, or worse, even a life?

As the sky begins to spit snow again, I hurry home, but not before lifting my closed eyes up to heaven, mouth open, catching flakes of snow on my tongue, a self-communion of one, as I say a blessed thanks for a long safe travel through life.
As I approach our house, the light dimming, I see the glow of the television sets in other homes, an unearthly artificial glow, as canned laughter seeps out of an open window. As I arrive home, climbing up the tired stairs unto the large porch, there is light inside from the wall sconces, rewired but decades old, bright as a spark, significant of human shelter and repose. As the key rattles in the door, there is a soft woof of an old Rescue Lab, her grey muzzle snooting me happily as I enter the house

A burglar casing the place would look through the front window and shake their head, seeing little for which they would give value. I look inside and see the riches of a strong house that shelters me with vigilant accord. It has stood for a hundred years, with an air of history and invincible possession, which will remain, long after I am gone.

I set my keys near the Victrola and my husband's Fedora.  As he calls out a greeting from the kitchen, I pat Abby the Lab on the head, looking at the small precious things that have been rescued and now live here, grateful for eyes that finally learned to see.

 - Author L.B. Johnson (otherwise known as Brigid)

What - more altered climate data?

Rick emails to point out interesting happenings at NOAA:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has yet again been caught exaggerating ‘global warming’ by fiddling with the raw temperature data. 
This time, that data concerns the recent record-breaking cold across the northeastern U.S. which NOAA is trying to erase from history.

If you believe NOAA’s charts, there was nothing particularly unusual about this winter’s cold weather which caused sharks to freeze in the ocean and iguanas to drop out of trees.
Basically, NOAA has changed the record cold that the Northeast suffered into something, well, normal.  Rather than the coldest winter on record (remember, cold record were set all over the Northeast), this was kind of in the middle of the pack.

I saw this and my reaction was what, again?

We're told that it's the hottest year ever and yet the record temperatures for most (39) States were set over 50 years ago.

Peer reviewed scientific articles say that NOAA's temperature record does not reflect reality.

The National Academy of Science is worried about the quality of the temperature data.

Government data used for Paris Climate Accords is wildly inaccurate.

This, by the way, is where all the science action is: how trustworthy is the historical record (specifically, has it been modified beyond all resemblance to reality)?  I've been posting about this for going on 10 years now, and so the conclusion that I've reached is that modifying data by 50% or more is considered business as usual among climate scientists.  I see no reason to change any of this from that post:
At this point, climate science in general and Anthropogenic Global Warming in particular are shattered. Nothing in the peer-reviewed journals can be trusted. Any climate data that is not available to John Q Public needs to be dismissed out of hand. Any adjustment process that is not 100% transparent - fully documented procedures, as well as adjustments published on a station-by-station basis, with a justification for each change - needs to be dismissed out of hand.
Think about that - this is considered normal by this branch of science.  There's a reason that there is a tag for posts here called "Junk Science".

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Iwo Jima - 19 February 1945

Years ago I met and talked with an Iwo Jima veteran about his experiences. He went ashore on the 2nd day and was there until the Marines were relieved by the Army sometime in April. He would say, "Sciline remembers, because Sciline was there." He told me that when his company mustered on the beach to leave, there were 13 of them that were original members from the landing.

Sciline is gone. Even his website is only visible on the Wayback Machine. Here's one page from May of 2008. 

The men and women in this interview are likely all gone now. But when they were young, their country called and it fell to them to go and fight and die on a sulfurous island that would serve as a waypoint on the way to Japan.

Take an hour and hear their stories.

Semper Fidelis, Sciline. I remember.

Riddle me this, Gun Control Man

A Million Dollars a Minute

 From Andrew P. Napolitano, a reminder of the real risk. The heart of it is in the quote. The $30 billion he writing about is the money borrowed to finance our participation in WWI.

The $30 billion President Wilson borrowed from the Federal Reserve and others has been rolled over and over and has never been repaid. The federal government still owes the $30 billion principal, and for that it has paid more than $15 billion in interest. Who in his right mind would pay 50 percent interest on a 100-year-old debt? Only the government.
Wilson’s $30 billion debt 100 years ago has ballooned to $20.6 trillion today. At the end of President Donald Trump’s present term – because of the Republican budget signed into law last week – the government’s debt will be about $27 trillion.
That amount is a debt bomb waiting to explode. Here’s why. Every year, the federal government collects about $2.5 trillion in revenue and spends it all. It borrows another $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion and spends it all. To avoid paying back any of the $27 trillion it will owe, the federal government will need to spend about $1 trillion a year in interest payments.
That $1 trillion is 40 percent of the revenue collected by the federal government; that’s 40 cents on every dollar in tax revenue going to interest on old debts – interest payments that are legally unavoidable by taxpayers and voters.
   Here's the whole thing.

Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day musings on the best and worst Presidents

This is my more or less annual post for this holiday. In the 6 years since I wrote it, I haven't seen the need to update it.


It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today. But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.

Top Five:

#5: Calvin Coolidge

Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.

#4. Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase). He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.

#3. Grover Cleveland.

He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now. He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later. This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character."

#2. Ronald Reagan

He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above). He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash. It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.

#1. George Washington

Could have been King. Wasn't. Q.E.D.

Bottom Five:

#5. John Adams.

There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2.

#4. Woodrow Wilson.

Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918. He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy. The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.

#3 Lyndon Johnson.

An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.

#2. Franklin Roosevelt.

America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, rounding up citizens to be interred in concentration camps, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle. At least Mussolini met an honorable end.

#1. Abraham Lincoln.

There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to. Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history. Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit. Needless to say, Progressives adore him.

So happy President's Day. Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad. Yet.

School Shootings - only some are remembered

The Only Ones were the only ones with guns that day.  On a campus, no less.

How long would it take for the Police to confiscate all the guns in America?

TL;DR: it would take 3 years for the police to search American's houses to find and seize guns, and it wouldn't work anyway.  The math is inescapable.

There's been a bunch of great posting recently on the perennial gun control argument.  One thing that stands out for me this time around is (ignoring the sense of futility on the gun grabbers' side) the increasing calls for confiscation.  Call it the "Australian Model" if you want to sugar coat it but it amounts to the same thing: collection of privately owned firearms by the police.

This made me wonder whether this would even be possible.  It sure looks like it isn't.  Let's take a look at why.

Nobody knows for sure just how many households in the USA own firearms, because there is no nation-wide registration requirement.  Estimates that I've seen range from 70 million households to 90 million (or even higher).  For today's thought experiment, let's take the lower number because that will make it easier for the gun grabbers.  So we have 70 million houses that government will have to visit.

We know that the government will have to physically go to and search these houses because we see massive non-compliance to registration and reporting laws where they get passed (example: New York and Connecticut where non-compliance is certainly over 90% and may be over 95%).  People just are not willing to line up at the local Police Station to turn in their guns.  So the police would have to go house to house.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2008 there were 765,246 police officers in the United States.  This is our starting point.  Assume that you need to send 2 officers to search a house for firearms (this is very likely grotesquely under estimated given the expected resistance to 4th Amendment violating household searches; a man's home is his Castle and all that).  This gives us 382,623 pairs of police for searches.

Assume it takes 2 hours per house to travel to the residence, search it, and write up the findings (or non-findings).  Now for the math:  70 million houses divided by 382,000 pairs of police is 183 searches per police pair.  At 2 hours each, this is 366 hours to complete the searches, or 9 weeks.

So the entire police force in the United States would have to take over 2 months to search for and confiscate the national stock of firearms.

But wait, it gets worse for the gun grabbers.  Remember, people haven't reported the fact that they own firearms.  While there are 70 million homes owning guns, the police don't know which households are in the 70 million gun owning group and which are not.  The police would have to search all homes in the USA - The US Census reports that there are 118 million households in the country, so we're looking at 16 weeks (4 months) for the searches to complete.

But remember, this is every police officer in the country working full time on house to house searches.  Crime would explode, and so you can't take the cops off the streets like that.  Probably you couldn't devote more than 10% of the cops' time to searches, so the 16 weeks turns into 160 weeks to search everywhere.

160 weeks is 3 years.  That's so long that once a house had been searched and "cleared", the owner could hide his shooting buddies' guns so that when their houses were searched, the guns were long gone.  It's simply not possible to confiscate guns this way.

Notice that we don't need any speculation at all on how many gun owners might shoot at the police; 3 years of futile house to house searching simply won't do what the gun grabbers think it will.

This is just a thought experiment, of course.  There are many practical issues that we haven't addressed:

  • In an era of collapsing governmental legitimacy, what would police state style house to house searches do to our Republican form of government?
  • How would Black Lives Matter react to such a massive police presence in minority neighborhoods?
  • Just how big would police search teams have to be?  It sure seems you'd need more than 2 officers.
  • How many police officers would actually do this?  How many would refuse, and how many would simply go through the motions to keep their job while not really looking for anything?
  • The Democrat Party in 2009 controlled the White House, the House of Representatives, and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  They didn't pass even watered down gun control then.  What do they know that the gun grabbers don't?
The conclusion is inescapable: people who propose house to house gun confiscation are morons.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Beethoven and the fall of the Berlin Wall

Beethoven's life was basically out of a soap opera - it was all so impossibly over-the-top as to defy belief.  It was a clichéexcept that it was all new then: A towering intellect, writing music like nobody had written before, tragically struck with deafness so that at the end of the premiere of this piece he couldn't hear the audience roaring its applause and the contralto Caroline Unger had to take his hand and turn him around so he could see.  Sadly, she did not get appropriate credit in the scene from Immortal Beloved.

Even in death, he maintained his flair. He died during a huge thunder storm, and witnesses said there was a prodigious thunder clap at the moment of death itself.

His 9th Symphony was so popular in Japan that when the Compact Disc was being engineered, it was decided that the disc had to be physically big enough to get the entire Ninth Symphony on a single disc. Musicologists were employed, searching the archives of recordings. It turned out that the longest recording took 74 minutes. The disc was resized from 11.5 cm to 12 cm to accommodate this symphony.

But that wasn't the end of the Soap Opera.  Beethoven put to music Friedrich Schiller's poem "Ode to Joy" which was, well, about Freude (Joy).  And thus to the final, improbable Beethoven story.

Fast forward from 1824 when Beethoven composed this to 1989.  The East German Politburo decided that they would not order their border guards to machine gun the people lined up at the Brandenburg Gate, trying to visit their relatives in West Berlin.  The Berlin Wall had divided that city for 28 years, 2 months, and 27 days.  But when the Politburo ordered the guards to stand down and the gates were thrown open, the populations on both sides of the wall took things into their own hands and tore down the wall in an orgy of Freiheit (Freedom).

Soon after, Beethoven came to East Berlin.  Leonard Bernstein conducted a symphony from both Germanys where the word Freude was replaced with the word Freiheit.  It was so improbable that if you had written a novel with that scene, nobody would have published it.  Only Beethoven could pull it off.

The Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up.  Berlin - and indeed all of Europe - has been transformed beyond recognition.  28 years later the dreams of Freiheit have cooled somewhat but have not been extinguished.  Beethoven's ghost looks down, waiting for the next improbable chapter in his continuing Soap Opera.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

From The Comments

Jeffrey Smith said...
Cough cough.
If you make history-based arguments, please ensure your history is correct.
German gun control laws were put in place by the Weimar Republic well before the Nazis came to power. And given that the overwhelming number of Jewish victims were living outside of Germany in September 1939, the relevant gun control laws are those of the Soviets, Poles, French, etc. 
I will be blunt and say this: anyone who thinks a group of citizens can outfight the government is the one living in a fantasy world. Bundy faced down the government not because he utilized his Second Amendment rights but because he utilized his First Amendment rights.

This deserves to be on the front page and deserves a reply, thanks to Jeff for taking the time to comment.  Here goes.

1. I know when the laws were passed in Germany and who passed them. Then the Nazis came to power and put them to use. This perfectly proves my point. Trusting the current government with more control because it seems benign sets you up for any future government to misuse power.

2. If you want to discuss the gun control put in place by the USSR, the outcome was more horrific than Germany's. The collectivization of the Stalin Era, the gulags, and resultant famines exceed the deaths in the Nazi extermination camps.

3. The Poles and French, along with other conquered countries including most of the USSR west of Moscow, fell under Nazi control and Nazi martial law, and then the Jews in those countries were rounded up for transport.

4. If you think that it would be possible to disarm the American populace without their active cooperation, you haven't thought it through. All we would have to to do is refuse. Look at drug laws, prohibition, and immigration.

5. There would be no need and no reason to outfight anyone, no one goes up against a superior force. If the people actively resisted, however, it would be impossible for the government to even begin a confiscation. Any indigenous populace on their own land can resist a military force. Consider Vietnam and Afghanistan when you want to talk about the limits of what an army can do. Then, who is going to do it? Are you thinking of using the Army to invade cities and go house to house? Do you think local police will do it? Are you going to assume that either of those groups would even follow those orders when it meant knocking on doors of fathers, brothers, sons, and close friends? Then, do you think the populace would sit in their homes and wait for that knock? Think hard about who the gun owners are. There would be, planned or not, what would amount to a general strike by the very people that are the ones paying taxes, working farms, keeping the lights and water on, etc.

6. Bundy and the people that came out to support him, right or wrong, most definitely used their 2nd Amendment rights along the 1st. You don't have to fire a weapon for the weapon to have the desired effect. Neither side wanted it to come to shooting or it would have. On a more individual level, there are far more many times that a weapon is used to stop or prevent a crime than they are used to shoot criminals. This is true both for police and the citizens that carry. 

I have one more thing to say and this not that this is part of the reply to what I see as an honest comment. If laws were passed that disarmed the citizens of the United States, what you would have by the time the disarmament was accomplished, would be a police state. There be a before and after. All our freedoms are intertwined in ways we barely understand and we pluck at those threads at our own peril. It might not be as bad as Nazi Germany or the USSR at first, but that power to force citizens to comply would corrupt and someone would come along to grasp that power.

Citizen Disarming

Every time we have a shooting in a gun free zone, the idea of disarming the citizens is raised. So you want to take away violate the rights of all of us to ensure that the only people with guns report to the government?

Remember, the government isn't going to disarm. There's no fantasy world you can imagine where the government gives up their weapons. So your plan only ensures that the direct power of the government increases exponentially relative to the citizens.

Let's consider our current President, Donald Trump. He's literally Hitler, right? And you want him and his henchmen to be the only ones armed? What happens if he decides to build that wall and deport every person of Hispanic descent? Maybe build some camps to expedite the process? Then declare martial law and make it illegal to gather and protest? You already believe he would do these things. If you've had all of us line up and turn in our guns, what's your plan when the new Emperor of North America is no longer responsive to polite letters and protest marches in pink hats?
First history lesson:

Germany disarmed their citizens in the 1930s. Went so far as to make it a death penalty offense for a Jew to be caught with a firearm in a follow up law in 1938. It made it a lot easier to kill those same citizens by the millions less than a decade later. The only reason there is a living Jew anywhere in Europe today is that lots of American (and some British and French) boys took guns and went to Germany and killed Nazis until the remaining Nazis decided to quit being Nazis and stop killing Jews.

If every adult Jew had illegally kept a gun and instead of getting in the cattle cars, had shot one Nazi, the Holocaust would not, could not, have happened. The Nazis were only capable of committing the evil of mass murder because they successfully committed the evil of disarming their victims first.
Second history lesson:

On 19 April 1775, the main reason the American colonists decided that this was the day to make a stand against 700 British Regulars at Lexington and Concord was that the British were marching out to disarm the colonists, to confiscate their muskets, powder, and shot. The colonists refused and successfully defended their weapons and supplies. The birth of the United States is a violent response to an attempt at disarmament.

Another fun fact from that 19th of April. One 78 year old farmer from the area, Samuel Whittimore, is remembered as the State Hero of Massachusetts for his actions that day. He had missed the main battle and only heard about things when the British were retreating back toward Boston. He could have stayed out of it, the battle was essentially over.
 Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols, killed a second grenadier and mortally wounded a third. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment had reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was subsequently shot in the face, bayoneted numerous times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found by colonial forces. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore recovered and lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 96. (excerpt from Wikipedia)

Patrick Henry's famous speech was given a month later. You should read the whole thing.
What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
--Patrick Henry, St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1775

Into the Night - A Brigid Guest Post

In Chicago this week, we lost a well-loved and respected police Commander, to a criminal's bullet.  His colleagues were helpless to stop it, but they are there now to honor him as he is laid to rest.  When going into battle soldiers know who has their back. In Law Enforcement, it is much the same. But in the day to day life, we often find out who is around us that would take that literal bullet for us.

Growing up my big brother was my protector. If you've read my first two books you know our story well. He was my best friend and guide despite the age difference.  I still thank him for when he sent the "live toad in a gift box" to the snooty girl down the block that made fun of me for wearing hand-me-downs and home sewed clothes because my Mom chose to be a full-time mom rather than return to the workforce as a Deputy Sheriff when they adopted the two of us late in life.

When Mom died, and Dad briefly checked out emotionally, my beloved brother off in Submarine Service, I left home young, starting college at age 14, fleeing not simply because I was fleeing, but that the absence was the only argument I had at 14 to employ against the losses in my life. I was alone until I was not, then a pregnancy in college and my daughter's subsequent adoption made me realize I needed family around me again, even if not related by blood. So there were friends, and there were toasts and tears and healing as I got past the sound that goodbyes made.
When I graduated and was accepted into flight training to become a pilot I had much the same support system. Our Crew Chief, who often looked at us like something on the bottom of his shoe, honestly was our biggest fan, but using Crew Chief etiquette wasn't allowed to show it. Crew Chiefs were like that, finding the occupation of keeping their emotion steeled against the worst so captivating, that they had no other emotion available. He wasn't scared, but thinking everyone under his charge was such an idiot that we would never see another sunrise, he remained firm in his resolve that what was to be was predestined.   The ground crew was won over by homemade chocolate chip cookies even if they weren't quite sure what to make of the first female Commander in the unit.  My copilots became family, even the one that used to spray the whole cockpit down with Lysol because he was a germaphobe which followed with me puking into his flight bag due to a late night out and a fighter pilot breakfast (you'll have to google that, this is a family-friendly blog).

We'd launch, whether we were ready or not, listening to the sounds of the ground crew (clear on 2) with that listening attention that meant we were ready to go out and confront whatever those words meant. In the distance, a knot of men, moving with deliberate movement, offering a wave as we taxied out, their roles unclear as the wind amped up a slow vibration in the air, but their support unwavering,

But later in life, when my flying was behind me except for the occasional inverted romp in an 8KCAB, my support system was not so structured. There were friends I thought I could rely on that disappeared like smoke when there were clouds on the horizon. There were those that wanted to be friends simply to build their fan base. And there were those that were like the walls of my house - quiet, not always saying anything, but always there to keep me warm and safe.

My team at work has always been a constant. I've worked with gruff curmudgeons who held evidence in their giant paws of hands like the most tender of playthings even as they busied themselves with matters of life and death that brooked no delay. And I've worked with the young probies, so bursting with ambition and testosterone that they always upheld a state of lively satisfaction no matter the amount of deeply questioned bloodshed.

I've been covered in gore, and I've been shot at, ending my day wet, tired, and stiff in every joint, with that momentary hallucination of vision that comes to the insanely exhausted, where like a drowning man reviews his life, I realized that not only did I not find the smoking gun, I left the coffee pot on this morning.
But I always had my support system.

Today, I'm management- more likely to be felled by a paper cut than a bullet. My team still visits, but in doing so I'm "Ma'am" not "Brigid" as I'm the director. Times change, time slows. But I do know that there are those around me I can count on, both personally and professionally, in that enlightened compression that dwells upon the approach of a storm.

Yet, on those nights I'm stuck in a hotel room, the bed linen cold and soundless under my hand, clinging softly to that hand in the quiet air as breathing vaporizes in the faint light as I wait for the phone to ring, I'm aware of something.
I still have those that watch my back, even if they are only friends and family, strong in my life, even if their numbers are as a shadow is larger than the object that casts it. They are there in those mornings where the red dawn crests in the sharp light as if beyond the horizon lay hell not heaven. They are there in those soft nights, where ice cubes tinkle and the air carries on it only the scent of mint and soft lemon verbena perfume as small children chase fireflies in the yard.

As I return from my travels, the taxi taking me from the airport, the old bungalows of Chicago pass by the window in grays and browns, lighter than dust and laid lightly upon the earth, as if one good hard rain would wash them away, I smile. I am simply another suit and a laptop, trying to make a little difference in an insane world, where those that work for me, risk their lives for what is right and good. This is not the life I planned, and it is not the life I imagined, but it is the only life I want, here with those who would walk into the night with me. - Brigid

Friday, February 16, 2018

At Borepatch's Request

Jim Land's rifles on YouTube.

These are some the rifles I got to see and handle last night. Although he did not have the Barrett 50 with him, the others were on the table. And we got a fine dinner of chicken and pastry.

Remember, kids - only the police should have guns

The Father of Marine Corps Snipers

At our monthly club meeting last night, the guest speaker was Major Jim Land. Major Land was the Marine that started and built the modern Marine Corps sniper program. He started with a dozen scoped Garands (M1-D) and a dozen hunting rifles he acquired from Special Services on U.S. bases and built the first sniper team in Vietnam.

He brought a collection of military sniper rifles, starting with a 1917 manufactured 1903 Springfield on up through the M40A6 that is in use in Afghanistan today, and spoke of the evolution of the equipment.

He had stories to tell of his time as a competitive marksman for the Marines as well as his experience leading a team of snipers that included Carlos Hathcock.

Here's another article about him and his experiences from American Rifleman.

Even the blanket he put his rifles on could have been the subject of an interesting presentation.

The "logic" of gun control

Here endeth the lesson.

Walking Dread - On Zombie Spiders - A Brigid Guest Post

While visiting a friends farm in Northern Indiana one fall, someone brought over these round green balls that appeared to be some kind of pod or alien fruit. "What the heck are those?". I asked. Apparently they were the fruit off of the Osage Orange tree, otherwise known as Hedge Apples. My friends  said they repel spiders. You put them in a bowl or on a piece of foil and place them around the house. They won't spoil or mold and eventually just shrink to the side of a walnut. I should have brought more of them home.

For I am afraid of spiders. I can watch "Walking Dead" and sleep like a baby, but spot a big hairy spider in the house and I'm tip toeing around with a rolled up newspaper for days.

Snakes, bats in my hair (been there, done that), no problem. When you're out in the wild, sometimes hiking, sometimes working, you run into it all, bears, wolves, coyotes, horny toads, horny tourists, bugs, ants that bite and those little plastic containered, cellophane-covered sandwiches they carbon date for freshness and sell at gas stations.

I lived in the desert after grad school, and woke once to find a tarantula in my bed. My roommate, raised there, heard my shout and got a dust pan and gently picked it up, talking to it softly, and took it back to the yard to be released. "They do more good than harm" she said. I slept on the couch for the next month.
When I too lived out in the country a few years ago, spiders were a constant, short of running them over with your giant Chevy Subdivision, they were pretty indestructible.  The little ones, I left alone, as they do eat bugs and such around the property, letting them be or gently removing them from house to garden. But those large hairy fast moving spiders scared me to no end.  One night I opened the door to let the dog in and in rushes a grasshopper, into the house as fast as he could go.  What the. . ??  He was being chased, by a large spider.  I got the door closed before a spidey security breach, got the grasshopper picked up in a jar, and put him out the back door at the opposite end of the house..  Next time I opened the front door, the spider was waiting, rushing at the door again. . .

 "I Am Sparta!"  SLAM.

 We used the back door for a couple of weeks.

I can handle a lot of things, be it heights, or horror movies. But not giant spiders.

So there I was, staying with some friends who live out in the country, up at 3:30 in the morning to use the bathroom (note to self no Guinness after 8 pm) and as I'm taking care of business, a wolf spider about the size of a Buick runs across the floor towards me. Barefoot, I threw a hand towel on it and proceeded with my rendition of the Grapes of Wrath stomp.

Stomp Stomp Stomp. Die Spider Die!

No movement from under the towel. He didn't escape, the floor around it was clear. I left it there for the morning.

At 5 am, I got up (wearing slippers just in case) and look at the towel, prepared to just shake it outside and then throw it in the wash. But what caught my eye was the large dead spider, legs curled up, a few inches away. He'd managed to crawl out and expire next to the tub, rolled up like a crescent roll. OK. At least he was dead. I went to get a paper towel to dispose of the remains.

This is where the fun started

I came back and Mr. Spider was completely reanimated, and pissed off, on TOP of the towel, ready to pounce on my foot like a Chihuahua on a pork chop.

He'd been dead. I'd been sure of it. I'm kind of trained in those things. Now he's back.

I had the only zombie spider in all of the Midwest.

Fortunately, I was highly trained in zombie spider removal and wearing nothing but tactical bunny slippers, dispatched him with a roll of paper towels.

Zombie Spider Rule # 2
The Double Tap