Friday, March 23, 2018

The dog that had nine lives

OK, he really only had 5 lives but he was a World War II combat veteran and hero.

Václav Bozděch was a Czech air gunner who left Czechoslovakia when the war began, making his way to Britain where he joined the RAF.  He was in France in 1940 during the "Phony War" of late 1939 and early 1940.  On one mission his two seater bomber went down in no man's land, which is where our story begins.  He and his pilot sought refuge in an abandoned farmhouse where they found a German Shepherd puppy.  He was dehydrated and starving, and so they gave him water and some chocolate to eat.

If their plane hadn't gone down, the puppy surely would have died.  Let's score that as life #1 of the nine 5 lives.

After resting, the two airmen decided they had to make a break for their lines.  They left and shut the puppy in (so it wouldn't follow them) but the puppy started crying, and attracted the attention of a German patrol.  The two decided that one would have to go back and kill the puppy to shut it up.  Bozděch picked up a rock on his way back to the farmhouse but found himself unable to kill the puppy.  Instead, he picked him up and put him in his flight suit and carried him back to the safety of the Allied lines.

Let's score that as life #2 of the 5 lives.

He named the puppy Antis, after the airplane he used to fly in back in Czechoslovakia.  Antis became the unofficial squadron mascot, and flew on missions with Bozděch as he manned the tail gun.  But the Blitzkrieg was unleashed and the squadron's planes were all shot up on the ground, and Bozděch and the others decided that they needed to get out of collapsing France, and made for Spain.  He took Antis with them.

It was a hard journey, as the roads were clogged with refugees.  They scavenged a push cart for their belongings, and put Antis on top but the puppy kept falling off.  Some of the people suggested killing the dog so he wouldn't show them down.  Instead, Bozděch picked him up and carried him, and the other squadron mates took turns carrying him

Let's score that as life #3 of the 5 lives.

They got on a train, which was another story.  The train was packed with refugees and there was no room for them.  But Antis ran to a cattle car at the end of the train; when they knocked on the door, they found just a single family in the car.  The daughter had been eating a chocolate bar and Antis had smelled it.

From Spain, they made their way to Gibraltar to get a ship back to Britain.  They got passage in a convoy, but on the dock the tender refused to let them bring the dog.  They had to leave Antis on the dock.  But when he got to the ship, Bozděch climbed down a ladder to a swimming platform and called to Antis.  The dog swam the 100 yards from the dock to the ship, and Bozděch hid him in the cargo hold.

Let's score that as life #4 of the 5 lives.

As their ship approached Britain, the crew told Bozděch that Britain had strict animal quarantine laws to prevent the introduction of rabies.  Bozděch would have to pay for the 6 month quarantine and if he couldn't, Antis would be put down.  Bozděch had no money.  He smuggled Antis to shore in a box and eluded the Shore Patrol, rejoining the RAF with his dog.

Let's score that as life #5.

Bozděch spent the war flying combat sorties for the RAF, frequently taking Antis up with him.  Both emerged from the war.  Antis was wounded in an air raid but searched for survivors anyway.  The squadron loved him.

After the way, Bozděch returned to Czechoslovakia, but the Communists took power in 1948 and Bozděch had to flee for his life.  This time it was Antis who saved him, showing the way past search parties as they made their way to West Germany and freedom.

Antis and Bozděch lived out their lives in Britain.  In 1949, Antis was awarded the Dickin Medal (sometimes called "the animal's Victoria Cross") for heroism.  Antis lived to a ripe old age for a German Shepherd, crossing the Rainbow Bridge in 1953.

You can read about Antis' story in the 1961 book One Man And His Dog.  There's also a good post about him at the Flight Blog.

This is out of print and pretty expensive ($40 for paperback).  You could look at Damien Lewis' book War Dog.

This is actually Lewis' second book about Antis.  Sharp eyed readers will recognize Lewis from a previous book review here: Sergeant Rex.

Like a psychopath

Thursday, March 22, 2018

In re: the Austin bombings

Here endeth the lesson.

YouTube Goes Full Retard, The Internet Responds

YouTube is going to block all gun videos staring in April. Even the "how-to" disassembly and cleaning videos.

The Internet, which treats all censorship and security efforts as outages to be routed around, has already responded.

Here, and tell everyone, repost this everywhere, every gun forum, every 2A blog, is the site for gun videos.

Hickok45 is already there. So is Forgotten Weapons. I'll see you there. 

Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality. Ben Shapiro
Read more at:

Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality. Ben Shapiro
Read more at:
Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality. Ben Shapiro
Read more at:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Love Rand Paul

Summing up the Maryland school shooting

So by all means, let's ban bump stocks!  Stupid and useless gun control is an infinitely renewable resource.

More gun control ideas destroyed by crummy data

In line with the awesome analysis found by T-Bolt (highly recommended) comes this via Isegoria: How does the number of steps required to buy a gun relate to homicide rates?  Short answer: not really at all.
Not what I wanted to do this morning, but when I saw a fellow sociologist Tweet about a New York Times story on “How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries,” I couldn’t help myself. According to the Times, “Many Americans can buy a gun in less than an hour. In some countries, the process takes months. Here are the basic steps for how most people buy a gun in 15 of them.”
The implication is that adding more steps and required approvals to the process of buying a gun ("Be more like Europe!").  The problem is that it doesn't.  Looking at the homicide rates in other countries vs. how many steps and approvals are required to buy a gun shows no correlation.

The red dots are the data points for each country and while a "best fit" line has been plotted, the bit is very poor.  The "R2" value in the upper right is exceedingly low; normally you need R2 to be at least 0.5 for a valid correlation and mostly you want to see R2 > 0.7.  This value is 0.071, meaning that there is basically no correlation at all between the data points.

Combining homicide and suicide rates, the closest countries to the USA (2 steps, 14.58 combined rate) are Austria (8 steps, 12.61 rate) and Yemen (2 steps, 16.67 rate).

Summing up: The New York Times says that we need to have more restrictions and permission steps to buy a gun ("Be more like Europe!") when this would have precisely ZERO effect on the homicide or suicide rates compared to Europe.  In other words, it's just another comfortably smug northeasterner blabbering nonsense about a topic he knows nothing about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Whisky, Women, and Wi-Fi - A Brigid Guest Post

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” ― Mark Twain 

The picture was taken where friends and family gathered, a night back in January.  The moon was building, the air was quiet, the earth a motionless sphere in cooling space.  Stepping outside, one breathed in the cold, across which the faint scent of a fire touched the palate with smoke. Above, the night streamed in thick indigo threads, beyond which lay myriad points of crystal lights.  It was a good night for a small glass of whisky.

Whiskey vs. whisky?  The difference between whiskey and whisky seems simple but it's not. Whisky typically denotes Scotch or Canadian versions and whiskey denotes the Irish and American beverages. Although both spellings are of Celtic origin, there are substantial differences between the countries products, include the selection of grains, number of distillations, the maturation period and the type of still and barrels used.  Each country's style has its own unique characteristics to savor and there are some further divided into sub categories like bourbon.

Irish vs. Scotch? Unlike Scotch, the malted barley in Irish whiskey is dried in enclosed kilns, not roasted over peat fires, which is why it does not have that distinct smokiness of Scotch. Irish whiskeys maintain the natural flavor of the barley, fragrant, with a unique but softer roundness of body. It's an enjoyable drink indeed, but not the beverage of this cold winter evening. I want something that brings the echo of smoke across my tongue, down my throat, and leaves me with the smallest bit of heat on my breath, after that last sip, that soft lick of flame as a candle gently sighs and goes dark.

Just as in the wine world, where names like Napa Valley, the Okanagan Valley, Bordeaux or Rioja tell someone not just where a wine was made, but what it will bring as far as color, clarity and taste, scotch whisky has its own geographic intricacies. But among all, there is one common thread, the origin of the drink is Scotland.  If you see Scotch Whiskey made in Massachusetts - run!!!
There are friends I know socially and professionally that enjoy a good Scotch. Enjoy to the point there is rumored to be a Scotch Club amongst some of them, a fluid society of friends who meet the first Monday evening of each month.  They meet along the shores of a Great Lake, to share stories of good guys and bad guys, of airplanes and automobiles while sipping the best of that liquid mystery which is brought forth from barley and water. None of us are kids.  Most kids today can't keep up with us.

Some of us have a really cool extra gun safe full of something other than firearms.
Scotch isn't something to drink because it's there, as it's not cheap. One doesn't drink it to get a "buzz".  It's the warm sip of history and tradition, a celebration of artisanship and the deep pleasure of life.  It's a developed taste.  It's a journey; one that will take you through the rugged Highlands, along the waters of the Sound of Islay to the Isle of Jura where George Orwell penned his novel 1984 at the age of 46, describing the place as an extremely "ungetatable place".

Besides, it makes up for the times when we're about ready to go on duty and we need to have iced tea.
But, in all honesty, I never tried Scotch whisky until I was in my 40's, when my best friend brought some back from "duty-free" on a business trip overseas.  I'd tried some amber adult beverages in my youth, but they were of the ultra-cheap American variety, smelling of uncapped magic marker and tasting of sharp heat, the taste equivalent of pulling a hot cast iron pan off the stove with your bare hand. After that, the scotch was a revelation, the honeyed, warm glow of meeting an old friend.

Since I started spending time with folks that actually knew what a good whisky was, and even better, would share it with me, I've learned a lot.  We've also come up with a number of ideas for introducing others to such fine beverages (forget that Bambi Airstream idea, let's get one of these).
As for the many varieties and price ranges of whisky/whiskey. I'd classify them on a Brigid 1 to 10 scale.

(1) Taste buds usually recover from the shock by morning.  May incite anarchy in redheads.
(2) Chock full of dreadfulness. Put aside for the next Democratic National Convention or Sheep Dip, whichever I would want to attend first.
(3) Suitable for antifreeze, almost as tasty.  May improve with age, but usually drunk by the very young at a shotgun wedding bachelor party.
(4) It's like a root canal, sometimes you know you just have to have one.  Doesn't mean you are going to like it. Often blended with 7-Up to get rid of it.
(5) The Keltec of adult beverages.  If it was all that was in the house, I'd sip it.  Otherwise, no.
(6) It's 10 degrees out.  It's this or hot tea.  Maybe I'll just put a splash IN the tea.
(7) You're getting warmer.
(8) Very nice.   I'd not be embarrassed to have this on my side buffet with guests.
(9) I really feel bad that I didn't try this 20 years ago.
(10)  It's like a good quality firearm.  When you want it, cost doesn't matter that much.
So, if you wish to venture into the aisle of whiskys, don't go cheap and don't necessarily go for the brand you see on billboards with a floozy blond.  This isn't a drink for Monday night football and wings.  This is a drink for those gentle dark nights of retrospect, a sip of warmth before the long corridors of sleep.  This is the clink of a glass next to the fire, sipped slowly under the long sound of rain, the taste, a whisper of smoke.  It's life lived richly, profoundly enjoyed in amber miniature.

It's not a drink for youth or debutantes or post tractor pull.  Its taste, whether drunk during travels when you only have WiFi for company or at home, is an invitation, leaving you with a fading aftermath of promis. It's a toast to the brave and the fallen, that secret affirmation, like taste itself.
A Dhé, beannaich an taigh - Brigid

If you torture the data long enough ...

... they will confess to anything.  T-Bolt find an outstanding article about how the gun grabbers torture the data.  This is really, really important, and you should bookmark it.

Hey! Broward County!

Maybe St. Mary's County is providing emergency response training. Because it seems to me that Broward County sure could learn something important from how St. Mary's school resource officer handled today's emergency.

"Run to the sound of the gunfire, engage the threat until it is eliminated, put yourself in harm's way for the children" sounds better than "Whatever you do, make sure you go home at the end of the shift."


Update on the self-driving car pedestrian fatality

The self-driving uber had a dash cam, and analysis of the video is providing some clarity on what happened:
The chief of the Tempe Police has told the San Francisco Chronicle that Uber is likely not responsible for the Sunday evening crash that killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg. 
“I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident," said Chief Sylvia Moir. 
Herzberg was "pushing a bicycle laden with plastic shopping bags," according to the Chronicle's Carolyn Said, when she "abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic." 
After viewing video captured by the Uber vehicle, Moir concluded that “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway."
I still don't trust these things, but it looks like it may have been the pedestrian's fault.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Self-Driving cars: the killer app

Last night a woman was struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. She later died of her injuries in the hospital.

The deadly collision—reported by ABC15 and later confirmed to Gizmodo by Uber and Tempe police—took place around 10PM at the intersection of Mill Avenue and Curry Road, both of which are multi-lane roads. Autonomous vehicle developers often test drive at night, during storms, and other challenging conditions to help their vehicles learn to navigate in a variety of environments.
Think about that last sentence for a moment.  The implication is that these things aren't very good in a variety of environments.

I'm not blaming the car software, at least until we know more than we do now.  But as someone who has made a career from the unanticipated consequences (or purely lousy coding) of software people, I'm really unimpressed with the safety claims of the marketroids here.

The people who have built these devices simply do not know as much as they think they do.  After all, there are known things, unknown things, and things that we do not even know exist.  The designers clearly understand that there are unknown things, which is why they test in (ahem) "challenging conditions". The more honest among them might even admit that this testing might even reveal unknown unknowns.

But not the marketroids.  And today a woman is dead.

It will be a cold day indeed before I ever get into one of those things.  I understand too much about how high tech products are created, and how they fail.  And about the kind of things that programmers don't know.

A Call to Resistance

From Fatale Abstraction comes a post everyone should read.  The topic is the idea that young people have been trained to be so passive that they will not resist even when their lives are at stake. By the end of it I could hear John Williams playing in the background.

Here's a quote:
My mind keeps going back to the eternal question about the Jews and the Nazi death camps: “Why did no one resist? Why did no one fight?” The answers to these questions would probably be as baffling and heartbreaking as anything else about the story itself. In his superb book Ordinary Men, Christopher R. Browning tells of how during the Nazi terror in Poland, 8,000 Jews were loaded onto a train that was overseen by only 20 guards. Can you imagine this? That crowd of humans--even if only a quarter of them were of hearty health to resist--could have CRUSHED the guards, but they did not. Why do American students not rat-pile active shooters? Because they are told to be passive, to hide, to run, to hope for mercy or the dumb luck of the numbers that they will be missed by the shooter. When the subject comes up on campus, I ALWAYS tell my peers that if something like that happens near me, if I am a student or a teacher, I will do my damnedest to get to the shooter from behind and claw their eyeballs out.

OK, so Bitcoin can't completely replace cash

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Internet Trivia

At the end of 1993, there were 623 websites.

At the end of 1994, it was over 10,000 websites.

In 2016, it was 4.5 billion websites.

Here's the very first one. . It was recovered and put back on line as a history project. Here's the About page, . From there, there's a blog and a lot of tech details about their objectives.

All of that so I could share a quote from this post from their blog. It speaks to the heart of computing as I have known it as a technician since the 1980s.
There's plenty more stuff on that NeXT, only I've forgotten the password..."
--Paul Jones, University of North Carolina

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Turlough O'Carolan - Si Bheag Si Mhor

The Dropkick Murphys are Irish(ish), but not traditional.  You want traditional for St. Paddy's Day?  You don't get more traditional Irish than Turlough O'Carolan.  This is one of his most famous compositions, done (as it would have been in his day) on the harp.

Dropkick Murphys - The Wild Rover

Corned beef and cabbage, while delicious (at least, the Queen Of The World's is beyond compare) is not Irish in the slightest.  It was a pure, 100% adaptation by Irish immigrants to the locally available foodstuffs on the shores of the New World.

As are the Dropkick Murphys.  An Irish-punk band from Quincy, Mass, they are Irish in the same way that corned beef and cabbage is.  A tasty, local adaptation to St. Paddy on the shores of the New World.

Country Music is alive and well in Ireland

I don't post much recent Country Music because is American Country Music isn't dead, it's coughing up blood.  It sounds the same: banjo accompanied pop music with lead singers who look like models. It's bland and packaged and boring, and so I don't post much of it.

But Country Music is alive and well in Ireland.  This is a TV show that aired just 3 years ago, one with music that would have been familiar here in the '80s or '90s, sung by people who look, well, like normal people.  It's the opposite of packaged country-pop, and is refreshing as a mint julep on a hot May afternoon.

Today is the feast of St. Patrick.  Here's one more thing to be grateful for the Emerald Isle.  They saved civilization once; it shouldn't be too hard for them to save Country Music.