It’s pretty hard to put one over on you guys. (one of the wrong answers is one I put there, and still most of you got it right). Promised answers after the jump. Continue reading
This is a passage from a book of nonfiction by a guy who is, unusually, celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and for his award-winning novels. (He’s also an Army combat veteran, a fact modestly omitted from his book-flap bio). It describes how a child was disciplined. The only change we have made was to substitute generic terms or pronouns for proper names.
His father was old-fashioned, a firm believer that beatings were a part of the boys education. These were administered with such regularity that he was once thrashed, following [a notorious murder], merely because he questioned the notion of his own mortality and eternity. In particular, he became suddenly dismayed by the thought that if he died the world would simply go on without him, and he would be forgotten, and that would be the end of it and of him. His father’s reasoning for beating him was that abstract concepts such as these were better with to his father and other adults rather then occupy important time in a 10-year-old’s mind.
Boy, that sounds rough. And he obviously remembered it, for it to have a place in his biography. Must have scarred the kid for life, don’t you think? Probably made an utter ruin of the boy. What do you think happened to this abused child? Let’s take a poll!
Answer in a separate post (along with the ID of the book) at circa 1800 EDT today.
Ah, what will they think of next? A New Zealand entrepreneur has come up with a small unit called Cyborg Unplug that you can use to kick such users as drones and Google Glass wearers off your network.
They warn that you might be liable for what occurs afterward… like the Google Glass guy collapsing into catatonia because his feed stopped.
Billed as a “wireless anti-surveillance system,” Unplug is, essentially, a portable router that can detect drones, surveillance cameras and mobile tech like Glass trying to access your Wi-Fi signal and boot them off of it.
“Whether business office, restaurant, school or nightclub: it’s your territory and your rules, so make it harder for those that seek to abuse it,” Cyborg’s website reads.
That’s Unplug’s stated purpose, anyway. But, as its creators freely note, it also has an “All Out Mode” that would let you knock devices off of any wireless network, not just yours.
The company says it doesn’t recommend doing that because … you know … it’s probably really, really illegal.
The company notes that the device is not a jammer, which blocks all digital signals in a particular area. Instead, it targets certain devices the user has identified. So, for example, you could tell Unplug that Glass is no bother, but drones and microphones need to be shut down. It uses the unique hardware signature that all Wi-Fi devices have to recognize what it’s seeing before sending a “deauthentication packet” blocking access.
Boy, there’s a great science fiction story to be written around the idea of a “deauthentication packet.” Where’s Philip K. Dick when you need him? Oh, yeah. Dead. Anyway, this device is pretty useless from a surveillance denial point of view, because the typical surveillant is not planning to use your router to stream his drone feed. It’s a parlor trick, albeit a clever one.
After we got over our first shock, that there still is a Time magazine, we had the second shock from Mas recommending the article. Then, we got to the article, where the title was Shock Number 3, or maybe in deserves a Super-Bowl size Roman Numeral: Super Shock III. The title:
Letting Kids Shoot Guns Is Good for Them, by Dan Baum. 28 Aug 2014.
Holy Schnikeys. He said what? In Time magazine? That’s the equivalent of T-34s on Unter den Linden, as a marker of victory in the culture war. That’s the title, though. Was it meant sarcastically? Did the deck row it back? It did not, forsooth:
Marksmanship builds concentration, confidence and trust.
Holy — we said that already. But seriously, Baum makes points that we’ve all seen made before, but in The American Rifleman or Shooting Times. The magazine where this column appeared has a long history of bitter and vehement hostility to guns, gun rights, and gun owners, and to read this column was almost disturbing, in its feeling of having escaped its normal place to invade new habitat, like a gator in the Manhattan sewers. But it’s our gator.
Add to that, that Baum writes well, clearly, and persuasively. The occasion of the article was the disaster of a range accident by a child conducting a range experience under the guidance of an instructor who made several fatal errors. You’ve certainly heard of the mishap and heard all the usual arguments about it, but Baum takes a radically different tack for someone in the legacy media. A short taste of his argument near the leading edge of the article:
Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.
Other activities build skills and concentration, too — archery, calligraphy, photography, painting — but shooting guns is in a class by itself precisely for the reason highlighted by last week’s accident: it can be deadly.
A single-shot .22, while easier to control than an Uzi, can kill you just as dead. So how can such rifles possibly be appropriate for use by children? Again, context is everything. Under proper instruction, shooting is a ritual. You do this for this reason and that for that reason, and you never, ever alter the process, because doing so is a matter of life and death. Learning to slow down and go through such essential steps can be valuable developmentally. The very danger involved gets children’s attention, as it would anybody’s. But there’s an added benefit to teaching children to shoot: it’s a gesture of respect for a group that doesn’t often get any.
It’s not terribly long, so do click over and Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a very insightful and remarkable article — one that may be better to the similar ones we’ve seen in our niche publications, and it will be read by a lot of grey-haired voters who otherwise get their news from the dim light of a TV screen.
It is all the more remarkable in that Baum is not a “gun guy,” and is an opponent of armed self defense and a supporter of gun owners. Here he is on his home ground, in Mother Jones:
The NRA is a catastrophe for the country. It’s a catastrophe for gun owners because the face that the NRA puts on gun owners is an angry, intransigent, male, extremist, frightening scowl. It makes non-gun owners think anyone that owns a gun is that way because they are the only people who speak. It wasn’t always like this. The NRAgot taken over in 1977, and used to be a marksmanship and safety organization. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s a hideous organization.
Part of it may be an old white guy sense that the world is coming apart because old guys used to run the world and now they feel like they run the world no longer. So they just have to believe the chaos is real, and I think that could well be part of it. I think in many cases the desire to carry the gun comes first and later comes the belief that crime is out of control to justify carrying the gun.
The only thing that’s standing between a bunch of sportsmen together at a range enjoying a nice afternoon pursuing their hobby and a mass killing the whole country will be grieving over is the personal choices of the people at the range.
So you see, he’s neither one of us, nor an ally. He supports registration and licensing, and bans on private manufacture, sales and loans, although he opposes “assault-weapon” and magazine bans; and he opposes armed self defense, even in the home. He himself says he has a, “liberal collectivist worldview.” So the article in Time is even more remarkable, for it’s an argument against all his natural political and media allies. It is an article it took moral courage to write, and you don’t see that every day.
As to the question of the ill-fated instructor Charles Vacca and the 9-year-old with the Mini Uzi, we haven’t addressed it because we think it’s pretty obvious. Mr Vacca made a couple of terrible errors, and died for it. A terrible tragedy for him and his family, and no doubt he never intended such an outcome. Our guess is that the girl will be fine, in the long run. It wasn’t her fault and no decent human, and especially no firearms instructor, could ever say it was. Kids are pretty resilient, if their grown-ups don’t lose their grip. (How many perfectly normal victims of childhood trauma do you know? The answer probably is, “More than you think.”) As to the various people arguing about “Age 9 is too young for…”, what a bizarre, collective argument. Have you no kids? No nephews or nieces? Hell’s bells, no recollections from your own childhood? One child at 9 is physically strong, another feeble and uncoordinated. One is a sensible instruction-follower, another willful and impulsive. Every child is an individual, and has to be treated as one. Sure, some kids hew close to the median, but not on everything. There are many lessons to be learnt from the mishap, but to us the first is: treat every new shooter as an individual, and trust only after you verify.
Not having a gerontologist to go to, we’ll probably never see an issue of Time again. But to see this there was… otherworldly. It was followed by more common Time content: a puff piece about Hillary!, an article following the yoga twists of the Administration’s leading-from-behind Middle East policy, and praising its brilliance with the dewy-eyed fanboy fervor of a Wobbly following Stalin in 1939. So its presence was even more jarring, because it’s not part of an overall change of the tired old rag.
“Because looking cool is more important than training.” Heh.
The details of what’s “looking cool” have changed since we stumbled into service on Jimmy Earl Carter’s watch — in those days it was a commando sweater and a Fu Manchu mustache, and a Randall Model 14 and Chippewa boots — but the objective has not.
Here’s to the cool kids everywhere. And when did we become the old man muttering about them on our lawn?
Hat tip, Miguel. Somos agradecidos, hermano.
Press are reporting that two members of the State Police were attacked outside their barracks at shift change by an unknown shooter or shooters, who seem to have escaped. The shots hit at about 11:30PM last night, and a large area remains under intensive investigation with many roads closed, including the east-west Interstate 84 (it may have opened by now).
The press reports are unclear about whether any specific suspect is being sought at this time.
These reports will quickly be obsolete, so your best bet is news searches, but here are a few:
The victims have yet to be identified. The wounded trooper is reported to be in stable condition, which beats “critical,” anyway. (Update: he’s expected to live. Whew).
Another State Trooper, Joshua Miller, was killed in the area in 2009, but he was shot by a suspect after a car chase. This incident appears to have been a deliberate targeting of the state police. The barracks is not located near anything else of significance, so someone went there to shoot cops. Specific cops? These individual cops, for some real or imagined reason? What’s his motivation? All unknown at this time, and anything would be speculation.
We’ve beaten up on the Pennsylvania State Police before for their pistol OCD. However, at this time, we hope the trooper makes a full recovery, the cops quickly nail their shooter, and we extend our condolences to the family of the fallen trooper.
Police have a “person of interest” in custody. No further information. They haven’t stopped searching
But is this case connected to two previous murders that the PSP and Kentucky police already suspect are connected? We’re referring to the ambush murder of Bardstown, Kentucky police officer Jason Ellis, previously covered here (and here), and the highway murder of Timothy Davison, who was on the phone to police as he was chased down across Maryland and Pennsylvania and killed in what has been ascribed to violent road rage.
State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan identified the murdered trooper as Corporal Bryon Dickson of Dunmore, PA. Dickson is survived by his wife, Tiffany Dickson, a nurse, and by his two young sons. He recently transferred from Philadelphia. The wounded man, Trooper Alex Douglass, is in critical but stable condition after surgery. The police have corrected the time of the shooting to 2250 hrs.
The shooter seems to have gotten away clean after firing two shots. Noonan confirmed the PSP were talking to a “person of interest” but said that the man was not a suspect. Noonan would not confirm this person’s identity, but state police spox previously identified him as one Jeffrey Hudak, 48. The police put out a wire with his birth date and license tags.
Paramedics responding to the scene reported being taken under fire, according to news reports.
In the recording of dispatches between paramedics and Pike County 911 operators, the paramedics request the incoming helicopter head to a different meeting spot.
“We are under fire. We are moving the landing zone to the middle school,” a responder is heard saying in the recordings.
The first helicopter takes off with a patient within 30 minutes, the report says, but the second is grounded — that patient didn’t make it.
Transcript and audio:
This is not good. But if the guy who did it did it alone, and did not run his mouth, he’s probably going to get away with it. Of course, if this is his first time, it won’t be his last, and sooner or later he’s going to screw up and get caught.
ITEM: Muslim Fundamentalists Against Terror
Many American and Western defenders define all Islam as the enemy. Islamic extremists do that, too. But Americans who have worked against terrorism, especially SF and SOF guys, know how much our efforts have depended on brave, patriotic people who risk their lives for their vision of the future: one that includes Middle Easterners who take their place at the table of the nations and who don’t strive to compel others to their faith.
We have often asked, “If all Moslems are not terrorists, where are the scholars and imams condemning the terrorists?” Some of our Arab allies, notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, have effective projects to use their nation’s religious leaders to turn terrs away from violence. And here’s something new to us, although it’s been around for a while: Salafi Manhaj, an effort by hard-core fundamentalist imams and scholars to apply rigorous Islamic scholarship to analyzing soi-disant Islamic movements like ISIL and Boko Haram.
Naturally, this kind of contrarianism has its detractors. This Moslem Brotherhood-associated and pro-terrorist site, which venerates Qutb, condemns Khalid al-Anbari, a British imam and one of the principals behind Salafi Manhaj.
ITEM: Fijian Peacekeepers Released
The Fijian Peacekeepers from UNDOF who surrendered to the Syrian al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-aligned group, have been released. There were no conditions and no ransom placed on their release, according to a news report. Their weapons seem to have been retained by the Syrian islamists. They had been promised they would not be harmed if they surrendered without trying to keep the peace or prevent the al-Nusra Front from its program of ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The Fijians plan to return to duty as non-peacekeeping “Peacekeepers,” ready to do whatever else al-Nusra asks. Your UN in action!
ITEM: Before there were Lugers
There were Borchardts. The website Land of Borchardt has some interesting information on this novel invention from the Gay Nineties — and the Lugers that followed it. Good site, and we’d rather mention it now that stick it in reserve for a future W4 and risk forgetting about it. The website design and navigation is redolent of the 1990s, but the photographs (of the site owner’s own collection apparently) are well worth the effort.
ITEM: Anti-hunting woman suggests… exterminating humans instead
I am deeply sad imagining that [the deer she likes to watch] might be killed in this upcoming hunting.
… We as humans …. are so overpopulated, so is the solution just to kill some of us?
What do you do with that kind of bat guano crazy? Come on, you know the answer. You give it tenure! And that’s what the University of Cincinnati did. Lord love a duck.
ITEM: Pistorius Convicted of the RSA Equiv of Negligent Homicide
The legless running champion (well, we do live in the 21st Century, people!) was acquitted of murder. The judge ruled that there was no evidence of the intent needed for a (premeditated) murder conviction, but that he was unreasonably negligent when he fired through a bathroom door. He says he was shooting at what he thought was a home invader, but what he hit was his own girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius’s case was one of the weakest self-defense claims we’ve ever seen, and he was convicted of culpable homicide, the RSA crime most equivalent to negligent homicide in the USA. The South African legal system is very different — for example, the prosecution can now appeal the murder acquittal, if they want.
Pistorius was also convicted on a gun charge. The RSA used to have gun laws that were racially-disparate: liberal for white, confiscatory for blacks. Since the advent of the black majority, the laws have been homogenized racially, but are strongly biased against armed self-defense. (Not that this would have been a strong case of self-defense anywhere).
ITEM: If she only had a brain
She does, but a Chinese woman is missing one rather large organ in it: her cerebellum. This case excites doctors because it’s the first case they’ve had to examine and test a living example of the rare developmental disorder, cerebellar agenesis — meaning, her brain never grew the part that provides balance and some other motor functions. The woman is a bit slow and has balance and gait problems, as you might expect. She’s 24 and otherwise in good health.
ITEM: Cop’s boasts of thug life get him jammed up
Intending to follow in the president’s footsteps with the best-selling autobiography, former New York cop Corey Pegues Shopped around a story of his crack dealing, attempted-murdering past two publishers. When the New York Post ran the story, local cops on Long Island took advantage of New York’s unpleasant anti-gun laws to confiscate his firearms. Next, they’re trying to go after his rich ($135k/year tax free) disability pension. The NY Post ran that story, too. And one about his pride in his notoriety. And one about him claiming that being a criminal made him a better cop. Even the crooked cop’s supposed buddy, a cop killer, isn’t buying it.
ITEM: Cop’s actual thug life gets him jammed up
That’s the way it looks from the headline, which reads: Manchester police officer charged with felony assault on Cape Cod. Yow. Guy sounds like a one-man crime wave. But read the article, and it’s this: he pushed a guy. So he’s maybe a sphincter muscle, but if we’re going to arrest all of those, we’d better build a lot more prisons.
ITEM: GQ Says Everybody in the Military Gets Raped
We have little else to say about this compedium of bullshit war stories, mostly by nutcases, many of whom seem to have been trainee discharges for misconduct or mental illness, and bullshit statistics, except that it’s bullshit. Complete with a guy whining about how the VA won’t see him with his bad discharge. Guess what? There’s only one guy who can cause someone to have a bad discharge — that guy. Anyway, here’s the link if you want to read a thinly-sourced piece about how everybody got raped in the service. (OK, not everybody. But GQ says 14,000 a year, which means that over 4% of military men get raped in a four-year hitch, and another 4% must be the rapists. Clearly, the writer is pulling it out of where he says the rapists are sticking it in).
By the way, what does anybody at the Women’s Wear Daily of the Fire Island set know about the military? That would be like Weaponsman.com writing a feature on the difficulties faced by dress designers.
Dress designers, relax; we promise not to do that.
ITEM: UK too is arming Kurds
We’ve mentioned before Germany’s commitment to arming anti-ISIL Kurds. Good on Mrs Merkel. Not to be outdone, the UK is also sending £1.6M in machine guns and ammo to the Pesh Merga fighters. We don’t have the kind of make and model details we have from the Germans, yet, though.
ITEM: USA Today thinks the Army’s too white
There’s a lot of diversity blather in the article, but it comes down to this: the path to senior command is junior command in the combat arms, and “not enough” black officers seek or win those junior command. So the answer? As we’ve come to expect from Ray Odierno et al., more diversity blather. That’ll fix it.
Funny, there’s no mention of Hispanic or Asian officers. Maybe they’re not underperforming.
ITEM: You’ll Grow Hair on Your Palms
If you were the sort of person who stood up a little picture of President Obama, and then set to fapping, the resulting splatter patterns of ejaculate-on-paper might well resemble this column from the New York Times’s airily lightweight, but incurably infatuated, David Brooks. He works himself up to such a profound orgasm over the recent national-security speech that he manages to compare his favorite Nobel Tee Ball Participation Prize recipient not only with Moses, but also with King David and the Apostle Paul.
For some inexplicable reason, Jesus Christ Himself is missing from Brooks’s comparisons of his Dear Leader. Perhaps he leaves that role for his favorite Beatle to claim for
himself Himself. (There, fixed it for ya. -DB).
We’re used to seeing European metal detectors pull up relic guns, but American ones? Well, it does happen. Here’s a kid whose hobby is metal detecting, and at the start of the video, it’s a few days after he’s found a rusted-solid Uzi. So he came back to the same site. What will he find next?
The thing he doesn’t recognize at about 1:30 is the folding stock from a Czech Samopal Sa. 25 (Vz.48). He also finds the rest of it, and more Uzi, Sten, and Thompson parts, and a rusted suppressor. Best guess — he found the remnants of an illegal armory that someone, probably not the original guy who assembled these parts and guns, disposed of. Some of the parts may be contraband; others have clearly been destroyed by the ravages of corrosion.
Oops. This was supposed to kick off at 0600 today. It’s being posted late (1530 actually) and the rest of the day’s posts will be sent at about two hour intervals after that, all slotted into their original intended slots. Embarrassing.
Reporters from the New York Times interview a massacre survivor. To us, the most moving part was Ali watching his own attempted execution on a reporter’s MacBook, and his wordless reaction. But he also tells a tale of survival that has components of dumb luck, and good-samaritan action by Sunnis who might easily have turned him in.
Ali was one of 660 or so Shia recruits to the Iraqi military, who were massacred before even beginning training. The remainder of them are almost certainly in the mass graves carefully plotted by Human Rights Watch, which has taken a break from its usual bashing of the US and the West to take an uncharacteristic look at the human rights record of a radical Mohammedan group.
Ali’s story was so chilling that it seems to have shaken even the Times reporters’ reflexive support for whoever’s most anti-American in international relations.
As far as Ali goes, relying on luck is never a good idea. It worked for him, but it didn’t work for any of the 659 others in his cohort.
Some other mistakes the recruits made were:
- Placing their fates in the hands of their enemies. There has been absolutely nothing to indicate that ISIL has any quality of mercy, so this was simple wishful thinking on their part. Wishful thinking never works.
- Staying together in large groups. While this is a natural human tendency — we naturally feel more secure among the herd — it just guaranteed their capture.
- Attempting to flee along high-speed avenues of approach. These are naturally the first to be secured by advancing enemies.
- Attempting to flee in daylight. Everything we have seen about ISIL indicates that it’s a day, fair-weather operation. Traveling by day also exposes one to the brutal conditions of the Iraqi desert. Travel by night, get small during the day. Be the nothing good that happens at 0300 — to your enemies, that is.
Had the doomed recruits instead chosen to bombshell, and flee in 660 different directions as individuals, the outcome would have been different. Scores, perhaps hundreds of them would have survived. And they would have put a considerable burden on ISIL to pursue them, as opposed to tying up a few guys with small arms and a couple of dozer operators for the day.
Had they fought, even with their bare hands, instead of submitting meekly to death, they also would’ve had a better outcome. A factor in this may have been the insha’allah fatalism shared by Mohammedans of the Sunni and Shia stripes.
Had they run, that might have worked too. Another survivor, a runner, addressed the Iraqi parliament, describing his capture and escape:
Abdul-Karim said the commander told the troops that there were military trucks waiting for them at a nearby highway to take them to a base near Baghdad. Instead, the soldiers, in civilian clothes, were taken by gunmen who were waiting for them on the highway.
The gunmen later ordered batches of prisoners to go out and started to shoot them.
“We panicked after seeing our colleagues being shot dead,” Abdul-Karim said. “There was a state of chaos and some started to run away and I managed to escape from the place.”
Like Ali, Abdul-Karim survived mostly by blind luck, while many others were not so lucky.
But we must recognize that Ali did some things right, too:
- He played dead. This doesn’t usually work for most people who try it, because the murderers come back for a second shot, whether it’s the NKVD at Katyn, Einsatzgruppe 11 in Poland, the Cheka in Yekaterinburg, Kampfgruppe Peiper at Malmédy or these nameless savages on the south bank of the Tigris. But it does work for some people, and once you’ve let them tie you up and frog-march you to the mass grave, you’re out of all other options.
- He waited a very long time and escaped under the cover of darkness. He took a risk here (there may well have been other massacre survivors who perished when buried, as there were at Katyn; the Malmédy victims were abandoned to the crows, so it’s a crapshoot). But it paid off for him.
- He traveled alone and by night. The “alone” was a necessity in his case, but even a single companion greatly increases an evader’s signature, slows his decisions, and increases his probability of capture. He travels fastest (and safest) who travels alone, at least in the enemy rear area. The advantage of the night bit is obvious.
- He exercised great care in making contact with civilians. He knew he was in a Sunni, and therefore hostile, area (Ali is Shia). He was at very great risk from Tikritis who may support ISIL (a non-zero group as the Islamists have made overtures to Sunni sheikhs and to former Ba’athist elements and their families, still strong in the area). But an even greater risk is that someone might turn him in out of fear. (Or, for that matter, opportunism: what better way to ingratiate yourself with the nouvelle régime than giving them one of their enemies’ heads on a platter?)
So there are negative and positive lessons to take away from the survivors of night’s fall, and satan’s rise, over western Iraq.
Clearly the mass sacking of Captains and Majors (and the rush of officers and NCOs with options for the exits) has produced a brain drain. This left the DA Civilians in Program Executive Office Soldier, the massive bureaucracy that manages to bungle most small arms developments that don’t originate as COTS developments or SOF initiatives at NAVSEA Crane, without adult leadership.
Their EEG flatlined today with this tweet:
They went Full Retard. Never go Full Retard. The Academy doesn’t like it.
Don’t sweat it, guys. Joint SOF working through Crane will develop the next generation of weapons while you continue to monkey around with science-fiction monstrosities like SPIW and OICW.
The last small arm successfully developed by the Army’s own labs was the M14, three small modifications to the M1 (the cartridge, although not the caliber, was changed; the en-bloc clip was replaced by a box mag; and the gas system was improved) that took 12 years.