Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Dust Destroyer

She tried huffing the whole 12-pack.

She tried huffing the whole 12-pack. And ran out of brain cells two cans short.

Know what else it destroys, besides dust?

You.

If you’re a dumb-ass.

One more experiment in the ongoing parade of bold experimenters trying to Respirate Gases Other That Oxygen, with the usual results one can expect from a bold experiment unmediated by a sufficient (or second-grade) level of knowledge. Trish Nadolny at the Philadelphia Daily News:

An employee at the Chestnut Hill store called police at 12:11 a.m. after managers, realizing a woman had been locked in the bathroom since 9:40 p.m., gained entry with a crowbar.

Investigators found 10 empty cans of “Dust Destroyer” keyboard cleaner in the trash can and two more in the woman’s handbag, police said. The warning label on the cans, which police said the woman had stolen from the store, warn that “inhaling contents may be fatal.”

via Woman found dead in Staples with 10 empty aerosol cans – philly-archives.

Another news story reports that the death was ruled a suicide. It also contains this small tidbit of advice:

The warning label on the can states, “inhaling contents may be fatal.”

You don’t say.

It may not have gotten her a write-up in the Huffington Post but now she’s one post-huffing ghost.

Japan Tests X-2 Stealth Jet While Buying F-35s

At first glance, the X-2 Shinshin looks like a jet of the F-“teen” generation, but on closer inspection the hard chines and crafted angles of a stealth airframe are apparent. From the Daily Mail:

Japan F-2

The jet took to the air for the first time in its seven-year development cycle just last week. Its prime contractor is a name that resonates in Japanese aviation, Mitsubishi.

The Japan Air Self Defense Force has an urgent need to update its airframes to match the nation’s first-class airmen and electronics — not to mention, to keep pace with regional competitors.

Japan’s first stealth fighter jet has successfully taken to the skies as the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology.

The X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight as dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off.

The single-pilot prototype safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with ‘no particular problems,’ said an official at the defence ministry’s acquisition agency.

via Japan’s X-2 stealth fighter jet completes its maiden flight with ‘no particular problems’ | Daily Mail Online.

Many Japanese squadrons still fly upgraded F-4EJ “Kai” (“Improved”) fighters, an airframe that first took to the air in 1955.

JASDF AIR_F-4EJ_Kai_lg

The US last deployed F-4G Wild Weasels in the Gulf War, and immediately thereafter began expending its F-4 fleet as QF-4 target drones. Other Japanese types include F-15s (which are manufactured locally) and the domestic F-2, which is a ringer for the F-16 but is larger in most dimensions in order to have more Pacific-suitable range.

JASDF AIR_F-2_Armed_AA-3s_lg

The F-2 order was capped at 94 airframes, and 18 of them were destroyed in the March 2011 tsunami.

The Japanese wanted to purchase the F-22 Raptor, but the pro-China tilt of the foreign policy establishment managed to prevent transfer of this effective aircraft to the island nation. This leaves the JASDF stuck with the F-35 — with costs rapidly blowing past what might have been spent on the F-22, but far less capability. However, Japanese officers are confident that this aircraft will meet their needs, and plan to buy 42, of which the first handful are under construction. After the four pilot aircraft are built in the USA, the remaining 38 will be constructed in Nagoya, Japan.

Japan F-35

 

The Chinese have tested a number of stealth designs (Chengdu J-20 below) but there is no visibility on combat readiness or operationalization of these prototypes.

Chinese AIR_J-20_1st_Flight_Underside_lg

For their part, Chinese analysts seem to think that their own plane is superior.

At this time, the X-2 is only a technology demonstrator and experimental aircraft, and is not envisioned as a prototype for a warplane. For that aircraft, known to the JASDF as the F-3, the conceptual design phase seems to still be ongoing.

However, even if the X-2 fails to make any of its milestones, it has done something that neither Russian, nor Chinese, nor American designers have done: make a plane that combines attention to low observability technology and just plain eye appeal.

Keeping Your Remington .45s Straight

10x10_Remington-Logo_V01We recently read an article by Philip Schreier that corrected a bit of confusion that we didn’t even know we had about “Remington” made M1911 and 1911A1 pistols. The article was a sidebar to an article on Remington’s 200th anniversary in the current (April, 2016) American Rifleman. 

Remington is the oldest industrial firm in the Americas still making its original kind of product, which reinforces, perhaps, how important firearms manufacturing was to early American industrial development. But the company’s long and tangled history explains how three different runs of “Remington” 1911s have come to exist.  Here’s a timeline:

 

remington_history_and_1911s

Note: Timelines ending in “2017” are ongoing. Who knows where they will end… or where they will go next?

Simple, eh? All the corporate history is in the lower part of the timeline — at the top, you can see the three 1911 production events, including the two wartime production contracts. The first contract was actual for half a million .45s, but on the German surrender in 1918, the contract was canceled and only 22,000 Remington .45s had been made, making it a relatively rare GI .45. These pistols were made in Remington’s ancestral Ilion, NY plant. This rather battered example, Serial Number 2900, has retired to the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia:

Remington UMC M1911 Nº 2900. Source.

Remington UMC M1911 Nº 2900. Source.

The Bridgeport, Connecticut plant whose location was marked on this slide was one of four 1,000,000+ square foot plants constructed by the company between 1914 and 1918 (the others were small arms plants in Ilion, Eddystone, PA, and an ammo plant also in Bridgeport). Both of the Bridgeport factories were destroyed in approximately 2010-13. As the National Firearms Museum recounts, Remington-UMC did not find it easy to fulfill its contract. Prior to 1917, only Colt, Springfield Armory (in very low quantities), and the Norwegian State Armories had produced the .45 pistol, and the Norwegians didn’t expect their modified pistol to interchange with American 1911s. Colt’s technical data package was wanting:

Colt provided technical assistance in the form of sample pistols and production drawings, but problems quickly arose. In addition to numerous discrepancies, these drawings contained only nominal dimensions and no tolerances. Finding it easier to make their own blueprints based on measurements obtained from the Colt-produced sample pistols rather than reconcile more than 400 known discrepancies, Remington-U.M.C. created a set of “salvage drawings” that were later used by other contractors as well. The Army suspended its contract with Remington-U.M.C. on December 12, 1918, but allowed the company to manufacture additional examples to reduce parts inventories on hand. All told, nearly 22,000 M1911s were delivered to the government before Remington-U.M.C. shut down its production line.

In the summer of 1919, the company turned over its pistol manufacturing equipment to Springfield Armory, where it was placed in storage until the Second World War.

The problem with the data was that Colt processes in 1917 were little improved from processes in the Civil War, with drawings mediated by the tribal knowledge of skilled workmen and foremen on the shop floor. For a modern, high-throughput plant with less-skilled labor, this wasn’t going to work.

In the grand scheme of things, the trickle of pistols from Remington-UMC in 1918 was a thunderous success; other contractors failed to produce anything, produced only hand-fitted prototypes (North American Arms of Quebec), or produced only parts (Winchester and Savage, to name two). Winchester had a contract, like Remington’s, that initially called for half a million pistols; like all WWI production contracts, it was voided after the Armistice, and the parts produced went into spares bins at Springfield Armory. And for the rest of the 20th Century, Remington Arms and its gun-making successor firms would not make another .45 auto.

Remington-Rand, on the other hand, was the spinoff of the sewing-machine-and-typewriter part of the company. (It’s also the company that gave us the Remington electric shaver, not part of this version 1.1 graphic). In World War II, Remington-Rand got a contract to make M1911A1 pistols, and they definitely delivered, thanks in part to a far superior technical data package. Remington-Rand was set up not far from Ilion in the larger industrial city of Syracuse, NY. Remington-Rand was the largest single producer of WWII M1911A1s, with 900,000 produced. Here’s one of them:

Remington Rand M1911A1 Serial 091674. Source.

Remington Rand M1911A1 Serial 091674. Source.

Ergo, there are no Remington M1911A1s, and no Remington-Rand M1911s, except insofar as GI rebuilds and part shuffles have created mixmasters.

This was all pretty simple, straightforward, and easy to keep track of, until Remington, which hadn’t made pistols since the excellent Model 51, re-entered the pistol market in 2011 with a bang — from a .45 caliber 1911. These pistols, available in several models and finishes, are not GI .45s but incorporate many currently popular features, especially in “enhanced” trim. Even the base version (shown) has larger, more visible sights.

remington_1911_r1

The initial run of 1911 R1s was produced in Remington’s ancient plant in Ilion, New York.

At the insistence of the triumvirate that ran New York at the time, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-Too Big To Jail), Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-BOP Inmate Number Pending), and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-BOP Inmate Number Pending), Remington relocated 1911 production and the associated jobs to Huntsville, Alabama in 2013. The 1911 R1 remains in production there.

Sources

“JPM, Jr.” M1911A1:The Homepage for the Collector of the Model 1911A1 .45 Cal Service Pistol. Retrieved from: http://www.model1911a1.com

Remington Outdoor Company. Remington History, n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.remington.com/about-us

Schreier, Philip. Remington, Typewriters, M1911s and The Rand Co. The American Rifleman, April, 2016, p. 82.

Torres Occasio, Keila. RemGrit Buildings Set to Fall. Connecticut Post, 1 April 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/RemGrit-buildings-set-to-fall-3451511.php

Uncredited. Remington Knives. All About Pocket Knives. Retrieved from: http://www.allaboutpocketknives.com/remington_knives/  (This information was used in the timeline only).

 

Home, on a Wing and a Prayer

Ignore the childish video-game splash screen. This video shows an SA-6 hit that an A-10 took and kept on booking, bringing the pilot — and the plane — home.

Supposedly, the plane wasn’t even written off after this but restored to combat status. That doesn’t seem possible, looking at that shredded starboard wing. But in fact, it’s true. A decade later, pilot and plane were reunited at the 75th Fighter Squadron when Paul “PJ” Johnson took command of the unit. The story also mentions something that the video doesn’t — Johnson was awarded the Air Force Cross for this flight.

Johnson had a great line:

the 20-year-old A-10s “may no longer be cutting-edge technology, but they still are cutting-edge airpower.”

Of course that was 15 years ago, but it’s still true.

Here’s a great site on the work of the unsung repair crews and their efforts to bring shot-up Warthogs back on the flight line. (One, with 300 holes in it, was flying combat missions again in 7 days): http://www.2951clss-gulfwar.com/

 

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Sinks

It’s a shocking story, a parent’s nightmare, and one more illustration of why letting the public schools have your kid in most American cities is the basest form of child abuse.

[16 year old Amy] Francis-Joyner was pronounced dead at  A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital, where she had been airlifted in critical condition, police spokeswoman Sgt. Andrea Janvier said.

“I think this is a dream and I’m trying to wake up,” the girl’s father, Sonny Francis, told Fox 29 Philadelphia. “All I know is my daughter is gone. She was the love of my life and it hurts.”

Student Kayla Wilson said she was in a stall in the girl’s restroom when the fight broke out.

“She was fighting a girl, and then that’s when all these other girls started banking her — like jumping her — and she hit her head on the sink,” Philadelphia TV station WPVI quoted Wilson as saying about the victim.

via Fight in Delaware high school bathroom kills 16-year-old girl | Fox News.

In what sort of world is it normal for teenage girls to fight to the death? Apparently in the urban high schools of Wilmington, Delaware. There’s obviously all the usual weaknesses of early reporting in place, but naturally, the victim’s father is devastated:

“I thought schools were a safe place,” Francis said. “You drop your kids off and they would come home after school. Aapparently that’s not the case with some schools now. Children are just out of control.”

Your heart just breaks in sympathy for the guy. Maybe his daughter did something dumb, but who did not do something dumb at 16?

On the other hand, the politicians who are largely responsible for the lawless schools couldn’t miss an opportunity for showboating:

“My heart bleeds for the family,” Mayor Dennis Williams told a news conference.

Yeah, then how about supporting real discipline in the schools? Yeah, we know. Not happening. That would be “disparate impact.” The detail missing from the story — one of them, anyway — is that all the fighting girls were apparently African American. But over the past five years we’ve seen a movement in the schools to give black malefactors de facto impunity for school misconduct, including violent misconduct.

Because punishing disruptive, bad, just plain violent kids doesn’t break down equally along racial lines. This is a major concern of top-down beancounters.

The one thing the State of Delaware could do that would help is promise speedy and harsh punishment for the miscreants in this case, pour encourager les aûtres. Did they do that?

State agencies will help provide support for those affected by the tragedy, Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement.

Nope.

No one told poor Sonny Francis that his daughter was in an environment where the response to her murder would be “theraputified” and ineffective. But this should be notice to the rest of the poor wretches whose kids are in the Hobbsean nightmare that is the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington. Get them out — you can’t save them all, but you can save your own flesh and blood.

Meanwhile, the bièns-pensants of the Howard High School of Technology are shocked, shocked that this could have happened, because:

…the school has an anti-bullying campaign that kicks off every spring.

To which we ask: what is the effective range of “an anti-bullying campaign”?

Ever more pathetic nonsense issues forth from people who cannot distinguish process from progress.

Mattis, Squelching Presidential Talk, Illustrates Why There’s Talk

Jim Mattis is a guy who did several major jobs in the Federal Government and came out of it with no visible Napoleon complex. With the field of Presidential candidates full of would-be Napoleons and maybe a Stalin or two, naturally people wish he was on the ballot.

Hell, Napoleon Himself would look better, and he’s disqualified on two separate grounds, being dead, and French (yes, Corsican; but aren’t Puerto Ricans Americans? Corsicans are like French Puerto Ricans). Mattis:

Following his lecture on the Middle East and Iranian aggression, Mattis, the former four-star commander of U.S. Central Command and a current fellow at the Hoover Institution in California, implied he was mystified by the buzz surrounding his hypothetical candidacy.
“It’s been going on for 15 months. Since coming back from overseas, this is more of a foreign country than the places overseas,” he said. “I don’t understand it. It’s like America has lost faith in rational thought.”

Tell it, General. This  is why people want you, even though it is an irrational thought; it’s less irrational than any of the remaining possibilities. One of which will come to pass.

He declined to comment on the current field of candidates, saying that 40 years as a naval officer had ingrained in him an aversion to taking a partisan stance.

via Mattis: ‘I Don’t Understand’ Speculation about Presidential Run | Military.com.

Some more examples of Mattis logic, something that’s been sadly lacking in what appears to be a bong-fired National Capital Area for quite a while:

Mattis’ remarks focused on Iran, which he characterized as the “single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East” ….  And it’s clear from Iranian rhetoric and actions, he added, that the country’s leaders do not plan to act in good faith.

“[Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] summed it up very well when he said those who say that the future lies in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” Mattis said. “That is the Supreme Leader. I think we should take him at his word.”

It’s unfortunate to say this, but whose statements about the Middle East have better foreshadowed events, Khamenei’s or Obama’s?

At least we don’t call our guy, “Supreme Leader.” Any country with a “Supreme Leader” — the position for which at least two of our candidates seem to think they’re running — is a caricature of villainy.

In the face of the Iranian nuclear threat and clear hostile intentions and following an imperfect nuclear deal, the U.S. is in a “strategy-free mode,” he said, shifting attention from one region of the world to another without consistency.

Well, that’s what happens when you don’t understand foreign policy except as an extension of domestic politics.

“My point is, we’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

You mean, like the one-major-one-regional war preparedness standard that the last several social-justice-over-readiness SecDefs and service secretaries have cut to ribbons. (And yeah, 15 years of war in Centcom, all gains completely undone by an unforced bugout, didn’t help).

“For a sitting U.S. president to see our allies as freeloaders is nuts.”

Only if he values those allies.

Congress, too, has failed, Mattis said.

Yeah. He named three specifics: no standby Iran sanctions (not the Obama would use them, even if Khamenei nuked Pearl Harbor). No AUMF against ISIL. No intelligence funding against our enemies in the Centcom area, like Iran. (And he could have mentioned, against our competitors in PacRim, where there’s an even bigger mess brewing.

“The bottom line on the American situation is that the next president is going to inherit a mess. That’s the most diplomatic word for it.” Iran is a “revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.”

And what could we do to counter that?

“Worth more than 10 battleships or five armed divisions is a sense of American political resolve.”

Amen. And the thing is, the very reason those thoughts ring out with unexpected clarity for a Washington speech — Mattis delivered these remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Friday — is the same reason we don’t have Mattis as an option. The guy is simply too smart; unlike every single presidential candidate in the race, he has a grasp of the scope of the job, while the rest of them are deluding themselves that they can somehow pick up this dog-dropping of a task by the clean end.

In the end, the very common sense that keeps him on the sidelines is the exact thing that is lacking not just in Washington, but all along the Acela Corridor, where highly verbal people whose entire life has been coasting on their high SATs think that they can lever themselves out of any predicament with the right juxtaposition of words.

Update

We have been reminded of this story about Mattis, a Marine Corps legend that turns out to be true. Enter then-Commandant General Charles Krulak, doing his USMC legend: delivering Christmas cookies to the duty Marines and duty officers at DC-area commands in 1998. Last stop was Marine Combat Development Command. And he asked the duty Marine who the OOD was:

“The young Marine said, ‘Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.’”

Krulak thought the Marine had misunderstood him, so he asked again, but he got the same answer.

“I looked around the duty hut and in the back, there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for young Marine. I said, ‘OK, let me cut through all of this: Who was the officer who slept in that bed last night?’

“And the Marine said, ‘Sir, Brigadier General Mattis.’”

At that moment, Mattis walked around the corner.

“So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.’ ”

Never before or since has Krulak run into a general officer standing duty on Christmas Day.

“I think it says volumes about Jim Mattis and his leadership style,” Krulak said. “He did it very unobtrusively. He just took the duty.”

One would like to think that other generals, like, say, George Washington, who for all his talents and strengths didn’t have this kind of common-man touch, are sending a Bravo Zulu down from Eternity for that.

And I don’t suppose we need to guess what that major (perhaps a retired colonel or general officer, by now, himself?) and his family think of Jim Mattis.

Update

Prof. Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, has covered the Mattis story from his wise angle, also. His points were ably summed up by the USA Today subhead:

Retired general doesn’t want to be the one who cleans up Obama’s foreign policy mess, and who blames him?

Amen. Reynolds’s story is proof that great minds do, indeed, run on the same channel. (What they don’t do, these days, is run for office, evidently). Do Read The Whole Thing™.

CNN Awakes to RIA Gun Auction

It’s probably the sheer dollar values that got CNN’s Aaron Smith to notice Rock Island Auctions’ upcoming Premier Auction, but Smith penned such an entirely reasonable post that we kept scrolling back up to see if it was really on CNN, the network that will always be associated in our minds with Peter Arnett’s ridiculous “Operation Tailwind” hoax (not to mention his notorious “Baby Milk Factory” propaganda).

rock-island-auction-company-780x439

The first gun that caught Smith’s eye was this revolver. Rare, beautiful, and attributed to an A-list historical figure: Mormon faith prophet Brigham Young. Smith:

The gun, with its “flawlessly executed scroll work” and “wolf head motif” has an estimated price of $550,000 to $850,000, according to Rock Island Auction Company, which is putting more than 3,000 guns up to bid from April 29 to May 1.

The auction house in Rock Island, Illinois, says the gun comes with a “deluxe rosewood case lined in red wine velvet,” a silver powder flask, a bullet mold and other tools. It is the gun that Young “personally cleaned, loaded and kept at the ready” for use against “nefarious persons.”

Brigham Young’s pistol is expected to get at least $550,000 at auction.

Next up — Smith seems to be following the money — is a Winchester rifle associated with the officer who led the capture of the great Apache war leader, Geronimo.

rock-island-auction-company-rifle-780x439

The Geronimo rifle, a Winchester lever action from 1886, is also expected to bring in at least half a million dollars. Rock Island set a pre-auction estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.

Rock Island says the rifle was presented as a reward to Capt. Henry Ware Lawton for accepting the surrender of the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo in 1886. Lawton, who won a Medal of Honor in the Civil War, fought a running battle more than 20 years later with the last Apache warriors in Southwest canyon country before negotiating their surrender.

According to Rock Island, the rifle was given to Lawton by Lt. George Albe, who served with him in the Civil War before going to work for Winchester Repeating Arms. Albe also gave Lawton a pocket watch for “his gallant service in the capture of Apache Indian Chief Geronimo and his band,” according to its inscription, which is included in the same auction lot as the rifle.

He also gave him a sword, which is being auctioned in a separate lot.

via Brigham Young’s gun up for auction – Apr. 21, 2016.

We’ve been going over the three full-color catalogs for this auction, and they are indeed that good. We personally are not attracted to the Indian War stuff, but there’s a transferable FG42 that has the potential to draw in the vicinity of a quarter million dollars, based on last year’s sales.

In fact, we could do our 0600 Gun History/Tech/Usage post for the next year off this auction catalog, in which time a bunch more catalogs would pile up. These catalogs are excellent educational material, although we would note that RIA is (by their own admission) an auction house, not an authentication house. We’re extremely leery of things that are frequently counterfeited — that includes all Western stuff (double for Indian stuff), all Confederate stuff, and all Nazi stuff.

For those of you who didn’t order the RIA catalogs, or just for the convenience of electronic search, the listings are online here.

Sunday Socializing

People's Republic of MassachusettsSo today, as you read this, Kid and Nose are bound for the People’s Republic of Massachusetts to hang out with a couple of Nose’s old (civilian) friends.

They are both interesting characters. Don (not his real name) is a former high-powered salesman who nearly lost everything to Old Demon Alcohol. He has a new life as a part-time chef in a rehab joint — the very one that saved him — where he’s also a role model to the attendees. The sad fact is that most of them do not succeed. The ones that do succeed don’t often do it on their first attempt.

It’s funny that a frendship still endures, when it was originally built, largely, on booze, chasing women, and sports cars. These days we’re not boozing, for different reasons; we’re both cynical about women; and we haven’t got a single “interesting” car between us.

Eric (not his real name), the other fellow was, and is, a brilliant software engineer who works on projects you haven’t heard of for a company whose technology you have probably used within the last couple of hours. He’s also a bon vivant and sportsman, although his life too has seen abrupt changes. An immigrant with no trace of an accent, he still loves Old Country comfort food recipes and is our reliable guide to the best in that nation’s cuisine.

Eric was a sports car and motorcycle guy, until an inattentive woman t-boned his motorcycle and left him paralyzed at about the nipple line of his chest. Sure, he got a decent settlement, but it’s not like anything can be done for him — yet.

Mostly, he gets around perfectly well and you forget he’s in the chair. It’s good to have a face to put with wheelchair ramps and curb cuts, sometimes. He drives a car with hand controls. Every time we see some able-bodied jerk in a hurry park in a handicap spot, we think of Eric and get angry. Eric sees it and he just laughs; that’s the kind of guy he is.

Neither of these guys is a gun guy, so we’re unlikely to talk about that. Our conversation will likely cover all the usual subjects but there will be a lot of science and technology and futurism, ’cause we all dig that stuff. And we’re hoping to see Kid square off against Eric in a video game, because they’re both enthusiastic gamers.

We do not like going to the PRM and avoid it when possible. We go for events at a college where the family name is on stuff, and we go to meet friends, and we pass through there on our way to the rest of  the United States much the way we used to travel the Autobahn Helmstedt-Berlin.

Update — Oops

About midnight this AM we noticed that the Friday Tour d’Horizon hadn’t gone live. It’s been put up now. Sheesh….

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Bacteria

Elizabethkingia_2048x1152Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: “… and then the government officials dropped the ball.”

five more people had died after being infected with Elizabethkingia, a disease linked to the deaths of 15 people in neighboring Wisconsin.

The cause of death was not identified as Elizabethkingia because many of those people had underlying health conditions, the department said. Ten Illinois residents have been diagnosed with Elizabethkingia, and six have died.

Symptoms of Elizabethkingia can include fever, shortness of breath and chills or cellulitis, but officials have said that the bacteria are rarely reported to cause illness in humans.

via Illinois says 5 more people with bacterial infection have died | Fox News.

Who’s Elizabeth King to have this horrible bug named after her? Actually, it’s a whole genus of horrible bugs. The specific agent here is Elizabethkingia meningoseptica, the one that’s whacking people across the upper Midwest, and that’s illustrated in the blood agar growth medium in this story.

But the eponymous E. King was the brilliant and hard working microbiologist that found and named the bug in the first place — not after herself, though; she was a modest person. It was only long after she passed away that new DNA technologies produced a phylogenetic tree relocating this series of bugs in the bacterial bestiary, requiring new taxonomy. And then the scientists responsible for the new discovery — as modest as King herself — renamed the bugs, not for themselves, but for her.

To be fair to the public health officials who have been very tardy with Elizabethkingia calls, it’s a disease that has several ways of presenting itself, all of which are shared with other bugs, making differential diagnosis a challenge. And the people it kills are disproportionately people who are already sick with one thing or another.

For the rest of us it’s a reminder that DNA can kill you — that’s Damn Near Anything — even if it’s completely invisible. Especially if it’s completely invisible.

 

“Bubble” Culture and the Military

Are you in a bubble?

Are you in a bubble?

Lucky enough to get stationed only 40 miles or so from home, when the 10th Special Forces Group , or our little slice of it, at least, wasn’t out and doing, the gang regularly surged into the Hognose family manse, for any of a number of reasons. This put Hognose’s parents — a corporate executive and a teacher, the first in their families to have attended college — in close proximity to a crowd of high-functioning but demographically diverse SF teamies and support guys.

‘Nose didn’t notice anything unusual… the team guys were about similar, in intellect and interests, to his high school and college friends. It was his mother who noticed something: she was the only one of the guys’ mothers still married to the guy’s father. Many of them came from families that were marginal, if not chaotic.

A series of explorations on the cultural divide that PBS, of all things (Public Broadcasting System, a teleision and radio broadcaster run by the Government as an alternative to commercial channels, and a de facto infotainment subsidy for the wealthy elite) has been running, made us think about how the culture of the Army and armed forces in general is so different from the culture of the corrupt, greedy, inbred snobs who are running the country into the ground.

Charles Murray notes, in one of these posts:

One of my central propositions in my 2012 book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010″ was that a high-IQ, highly educated new upper class has formed over the last half century. It has a culture of its own that is largely disconnected from the culture of mainstream white America. I could expect that many of my readers would be part of that new upper class. The problem that stumped me for a while was how to convince them that their isolation is real. Eventually, I decided to try self-recognition. And so Chapter 4 of “Coming Apart” was titled “How Thick is Your Bubble?” and contained a 25-item quiz that let readers see for themselves where they stood on a 100-point scale. The lower their scores, the thicker the cultural bubble that separated them from the lives of ordinary Americans.

For a kid from a well-off, bookish, and somewhat genteel family, the Army is a culture shock. For ‘Nose, it was a welcome shock, like diving into a cool lake on a baking August day, but for some others, it’s a horrifying one. This is kind of like the shock PBS viewers and listeners get as their rich-man’s-welfare-broadcaster shows them the horror of Trump, and worse, from their point of view, his teeming horde of oiks.

10th SF -- not a bad bubble to be in, 1980-1985.

10th SF — not a bad bubble to be in, 1980-1985.

You get the impression that the PBS types are all for democracy, but not if it means their guys can be voted out.

To the credit of PBS, someone over there is trying to understand, In any event. They have been asking the eminent social scientist (if there is a such thing) Charles Murray to clarify things, and he’s developed a quiz based on social isolation…. the Do You Live in a Bubble quiz.

Our hypothesis: most of the readers of this blog, don’t. Even though it’s probable that they average higher than, well, average, on markers of social status like education and income.

Murray on what your Bubble Score says about you.

Murray on the most socially inbred zip codes in the country. Stop us if this surprises you, but they’re not places like Hog Waller, Tennessee, Dry Toad, Tejas, or Brother Darrell, Vermont. They’re pretty much all in Manhattan.

The service can also be isolating, if you let it be. We know many vets who get along fine with vets and nonvets alike, but whose preferred social circle is, at its core, the Brotherhood that has Seen the Elephant.

It’s easy to get isolated from other vets if your veterans’ group is of low density on the ground — you can always find another soldier, but how many SF vets live in your community? In Nose’s, he’s it, although there’s at least one guy two towns south — social media is lifesaving. SF guys have an email list of some 20 years’ standing, a more recent Facebook page (SF Brothers), and a number of forums, some for SF alone (like quietprofessionals.com) and some for all-service SOF (like socnet.com); all of these require authentication to post, or to be identified as an SF vet. There are other means of communication that open up once you’re tapped in to the community, but they operate according to the First Rule of Fight Club.

The armed forces also has the effect of raising your bubble score (higher the score, the lower the cultural isolation). Our guess is that the Blogbrother, who is not a vet, but who is by far the more social, less misanthropic brother, will score substantially lower on the quiz than Hognose, his own brother. That is because many of the things that raised Nose’s score apart from his mere veteranitude, are things he only experienced as a consequence of joining up — marching in a parade, living in poverty, living among a lot of non-college grads (which neither of us does anymore, our neighbors are all Ward and June Cleaver) .

Come to think of it, Blogbro went through a financial cauterizing, too, at one point in his life, and definitely lived on a low income — probably lower than mine as a private.

Thinking of it, Nose should not be proud of his high score (56) as it’s mostly an artifact of his decision to join up decades ago. But that alone had some pretty profound de-isolating effects.