Category Archives: Uncategorized

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have bottles

People's Republic of MassachusettsMassachusetts, where crime does pay, winds up with more of it than the three Northern New England states put together, for some strange reason. But if you just stay out of the state and read the papers from time to time, it’s hell for entertaining. QED:

DUDLEY — A Massachusetts woman is accused of yanking the false teeth out of another woman’s mouth and throwing a beer bottle at her.
Caterina Froio-Chaput, of Oxford, was released on $100 bail after pleading not guilty Thursday to assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Ah, yeah, a good hyphenated progressivette. We have observed the species in its Bay State habitat. It sometimes feigns amiability, but that is only to draw prey within range.

The “dangerous weapon” is the beer bottle. She could argue that her motive in snatching the dental plates was purely defensive, but that would require her to change her story, as we’ll see.

Police say Froio-Chaput was refused a drink Wednesday at an American Legion and told to leave. They say she started hitting the bartender in the face, then pulled the false teeth from her mouth before hitting her in the chest with the bottle.

To clarify, because it’s kind of unclear, Frodo-Putput, or whatever her name is, snatched the bartender’s false teeth. Wish we’d been there to see it — must have been a truly epic catfight.

The Telegram & Gazette reports Froio-Chaput told police she confronted the bartender who she believed was having an affair with her estranged husband.

Hm. Would the husband be Frodo, or Putput? What an achievement, to have these two women gumming each other’s throats over you. He, too, must be a real specimen.

Of course, Frodo-Putput denies everything, admits nothing, and makes counteraccusations. Her story?

When police found the teeth in her pocket, she said they had been planted there.

Yeah, right.


via Police: Woman pulled dentures from bartender’s mouth – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Framingham, MA.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have bats

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Ah, the dysfuctional lives of Massachusetts liberals.

A Framingham man smashed a romantic rival in the ribs with a baseball bat Friday at a Grant Street apartment, police said.
Police arrested Denis Henriquez, 21, at his home at 6:30 p.m., about 20 minutes after the alleged assault, according to a Framingham Police report filed in Framingham District Court on Monday.
On Friday, the victim told police he was at home with his wife when Henriquez knocked on his door around 6:10 p.m.
“At this point, (the victim ) stated that Denis struck him in the rib cage area (with a bat),” the report said.
The man showed police his chest, and it had a large red mark and he was bleeding, the report said.
The victim’s wife then told police the fight “was her fault.” She said she and her husband have been married for two years, but had lived apart for a period. During that time, she dated Henriquez for seven months. She told police she cares for both men, and that led to the fight.

You just know she is a visual and behavioral no-prize, and these two clowns fighting over her are world-class losers.

Police charged Henriquez, of 67 Cedar St.,  with assault and battery with a bat.

via Romantic rivalry leads to bat assault in Framingham – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Framingham, MA.

“Battery with a bat.” That’s beautiful.

How Many Guns Should You Practice With?

How many guns should you actually practice with,? That’s a common question, but maybe it’s not a common enough question. On one extreme you have the aphorism that says, “Beware a man that only has one gun, he probably knows how to use it.” On the other extreme you have the idea that someone who’s a “weapons expert” can pick up any firearm and instantly use it to trim gnats’ eyelashes a mile away.

This picture dates itself: Kevlar, BDUs, and M16A1 = 1982.

This picture dates itself: Kevlar, BDUs, and M16A1 = 1982. But he’s practicing with his one gun.

There’s an element of truth, and of falsehood, in both extremes. So we suggest a middle road.

Some Considerations on Training with One Gun

There is one gun that is most important. It is the one you carry regularly, whether it’s a holstered revolver or a slung carbine. It is the one that will almost certainly be with you when you need to shoot (a deer, a jihadi, a Wealth Redistribution Specialist, whoever’s on your menu).  It’s true that this gun should be the focus of your training and you should be able to put it into action and in a safe condition, fire accurately as the sights allow, point fire it at close-in targets in pitch black or otherwise without sights (an often neglected skill, but guess where most gunfights take place?), reload it eyes-off (because your eyes will be on the target, or visibility will be restricted), and reduce probable, and possible, stoppages, again, without relying on your vision. That’s a lot to master!

You should conduct most of your training with the gun you are most likely to use, because that is where most of your proficiency should be.

But this does not mean you should neglect training with other firearms, your own, your potential enemies’, common weapons and ones with unusual features. Nothing is quite so sad as seeing a recent-grad 18B stumped by one of the WWII or Cold War weapons that are no longer covered in training and have unusual controls. We sent one guy searching a Vz26 submachine gun for the selector switch in 2007, and we think he’s still looking, because he’s the sort of guy who would only crack a book under extreme duress. (The trigger acts as the selector and enables both semi and auto fire). In a perfect world you’d train with all that stuff, but not more than your main gun. At a dance, you always pay most attention to your own date, right?

Some Considerations on Training with Many Guns

It’s silly to have too many guns for practical use. This scene, from the dreadful movie Tremors (1990), not only shows you what Hollywood thinks of us members of the gun culture, but also illustrates a rather extreme case of firearms dilettantcy:

Yeah, you saw that right. (This wiki post purports to describe the guns on the wall, and here’s a 3D tour of Burt’s Basement. Dunno why Hollywood picked such a rank beginning collector to model). Anyway, you probably cringed at the video. They grabbed a random gun willy-nilly, fired a mag, dropped the gun, and then New York reloaded, only going to the classic .600 or 8-bore elephant/dangerous-game gun at the very end (and reloading that). We dunno about you, but we made the dangerous-game call a lot earlier.

The right answer is not to be the movie’s loopy Burt Gummer. Instead, it’s to master the one gun you are most likely to use first and to apply most of your efforts to getting better with that one.

But many people (police officers, soldiers, citizens) also have a secondary firearm. If we want to make it an SAT Test analogy game, for the soldier primary:secondary may be carbine:pistol or crew-served-weapon:carbine; for the cop the situation is reversed, because his or her pistol is the officer’s primary self-defense and criminal-control firearm. Even though the long gun is vastly more effective (both in accuracy and terminal effect), the pistol is the one Officer Friendly has when he or she meets someone less friendly.

sight alignment and placement

Skills transfer from one kind of weapon to the other is not zero, but it’s weak. Imagine the chaos your muscle memory turns into, if you’re like us and like to shoot 33 different guns on one range trip (we’re getting over that, actually. Better to make more trips with less variety in the hardware each trip).

There are some exceptions, but…

Certainly, there are ways to get shooting experience in general that will enhance, not detract from, your performance on your primary weapon. For instance, lots of shooting of a rimfire gun is likely to improve your firing overall, as is the often-neglected airgun option. This is more so if their grip angle, controls and most importantly sights and trigger are like those of the service weapon.

And effort spent improving your accuracy in one environment pay off in others. Other things being equal, the officer who’s a high-power rifle competitor as a hobby is probably going to bring more fine-motor-skills, and less performance anxiety, to an alley or roadside gunfight, than one who spends off-duty time gardening or fishing.

But the focus of your training effort should be proficiency with the weapon you are most likely to have when you need a weapon (every rifleman can operate an M2, M240, M249 (M27, Marines) or M203/320, but if they’re not his assigned weapon, he spends most of his training time on his rifle or carbine). If you find you can sustain a level of proficiency you’re comfortable with, then you can soften that focus a little and bring other weapons into the mix — one at a time.

And your range time is most effectively spent when you bring one gun and one session’s ammo for that gun to the range, unless you are working on something exotic like transitions — and you shouldn’t be doing that unless you have basic accuracy and precision in the bag. But that’s another blog post.

OT: The Infected Walk Among Us

This was the pinnacle of Shannon Richardson's acting career. She wasn't acting.

This was the pinnacle of Shannon Richardson’s acting career. Maybe the virus made her do it.

This news story explains an awful lot:

A virus that infects human brains and makes us more stupid has been discovered, according to scientists in the US.

The algae virus, never before observed in healthy people, was found to affect cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial awareness.

Dr Robert Yolken, a virologist who led the original study, said: “This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behaviour and cognition.

This is not exactly a bolt from the blue. Every virologist we know has long believed this, there’s a lot of mammalian evidence for viral and even bacterial behavior modification (a simple and well-known example is toxoplasmosis in cats and mice), but there hasn’t been evidence for human behavior being modified by viral DNA or RNA. Now there is.

How this will play in a pop culture that is wedded to the 19th-century view of the human tabula rasa, and that denies that genes have any impact on cognition or behavior, is anybody’s guess.

That viruses can control algae hosts is well established in the literature. But this paper makes a pretty bold assertion. Of course, given that the average science reporter has a grade school science education, we had to go find the paper, only to discover that The Independent had reported it fairly and accurately.

Chlorella algae -- normal host of ATCV-1

Chlorella algae — normal host of ATCV-1

The paper is, “Chlorovirus ATCV-1 is part of the human oropharyngeal virome and is associated with changes in cognitive functions in humans and mice,” by Yolken and over a dozen others. The title means that this virus is routinely found among the viruses in the human mouth and throat, and that its presence is statistically correlated with differences in mental functioning in human beings and in everybody’s favorite expendable lab animal, the mouse.

Chloroviruses are a group of viruses that infect the various Chlorella species of algae. ATCV-1 is Acanthocystis Turfacea Chlorella Virus 1, which explains why the abbreviation.

A press release on the paper is hereThe whole abstract is here (you can download the full paper from that page, if you’re a Proceedings of the National Academy of Science subscriber — pity he didn’t publish in open PLOS ONE). But the two money lines for us, from the abstract, were:

The presence of ATCV-1 was associated with a modest but measurable decrease in cognitive functioning.

Magnified Chlorella (green) infected with a Chlorella Virus (not necessarily ATCV-1)

Magnified Chlorella (green) infected with a Chlorella Virus (not necessarily ATCV-1)

That is the finding The Independent described, broadly accurately, as “the virus makes us more stupid,” although to be fair causation is not proven here, just correlation. Maybe being stupid gives us the virus, although that seems improbable. They demonstrated how ATCV-1 changed cognitive functioning with confirmatory experiments in mice. They suspect, but many more studies would be needed to prove, that the cognitive impairments don’t result directly from the virus but are side effects from the immune response it triggers. 

It’s not quite the interface between environment and genetics that will still the guns in the nature v. nurture wars, but it’s a rather typical scientific discovery: “Hey, something we thought was kind of simple has previously unimagined complications!” Damnable scientists, always discovering stuff, just when we think we have it all worked out.

And the other punch line:

Our study indicates that viruses in the environment not thought to infect humans can have biological effects.

Again, this is a blockbuster confirmation, but it’s just confirming something virologists long believed even without proof. Years ago, one of them explained the mechanism by which they thought this was happening and blew our mind with the statement: “It is plausible that it was viral infection that produced in protohumans the mutations necessary for speech, language and tool making.”

Finally, lost in the shuffle may be the news that these scientists have documented a viral jump not between species, genera, or other taxa of animals, but all the way from the plant kingdom (where the virus’s usual host is Chlorella spp. green algae) to the animal (where it infects, at least, humans and mice, and most probably all mammals).

There are, of course, plenty of weasel words in the paper, which is the way of capital-S Science. But the idea that viruses can alter human cognition and behavior is going to generate a bunch of dystopian science fiction, and — maybe this post isn’t so OT after all — some biological warfare weapons research, in nations that do that.

27 Things to Link, Not enough Time

Sometimes the stuff just stacks up on us. And it occurs to us, better just blast it to you with a couple lines of text, rather than hold it back for a lot of words.

Guns (4)

  1. Confirmed our order for a Can Cannon with Dewey of X Products Thursday. Dewey told us some of the new directions the Can Can was taking X Prod in. We’ll write it up shortly after we’ve got it — we have a ton of M200 blank lying around (mostly in old M4 mags from before retirement).Can_Cannon_Right_Hand_View_with_Logo
  2. In the long-running investigation into ATF’s and DOJ’s systematic gunwalking to favored Mexican cartels, tens of thousands of emails sent during the cover-up that courts had ordered released to the House have finally been delivered… with extensive redactions by the guilty parties at ATF. A lot of stories have focused on Eric Holder’s description of Congressional investigators as “idiots” in this email, but the real interesting thing in that email chain is DOJ’s Matthew Axelrod trying to engineer evasion of a subpoena by a witness, something Holder finally warns him off of.
  3. ND-shot-in-footSafety: this is not doing it right:  “A bozo carrying a loaded sawed-off shotgun in his gym bag accidentally blasted his own leg while waiting to board a bus…. Joseph Riddick, 35, of Worcester, Mass., was standing on line when his foot brushed the bag and the shotgun went off.” The old just-went-off trick, eh. That’ll buff right out, Sunshine. But it turns out to be one of those cases where life imitates art: “Riddick’s Facebook page shows him shirtless with a tattoo of a sawed-off shotgun on his chest.”
  4. Political and cultural conservative Robert Stacy “The Other” McCain and his sidekick Smitty have lost their patience with reporters who are so narrative-wedded that they report a wrongdoer’s lever-action .30-30 as a “semiautomatic assault rifle.” Smitty proposes this rule: “Henceforth, there is no benefit of the doubt for inaccurate reporting about firearms. It is presumed mala fides.” Sounds good to us.

War and SF Lore (9)

  1. SOFREP has the letter that WARCOM, the Naval Special Warfare Command, sent to all hands in criticism of publicity-seeking SEALs.
  2. This may not shock you: the guys released from Gitmo are still going back to war against us. Hey, if the Germans had run Stalag 13 the way we run our wars, Hogan would have been back bombing them in a week.
  3. The Afghanistan bugout is building up a good head of steam.
  4. Remember we had our doubts about whether the Kurdish women were actually fighting? We were wrong to doubt. This cute chick was said by Kurdish propaganda to have single-handedly whacked 100 ISIL assil’s:Kurdish female fighter RehanaUnfortunately, ISIL took a dim view of that. Here’s the after picture:Rehana afterWe should nuke the place from the carrier task group equivalent of orbit. It;s the only way to be sure.
  5. One of the least-known last stands of the Vietnam War took place on so-called Hickory Hill, Hill 950 where classified facilities coded Lemmon Tree and later Hickory took place. It’s where Jon Cavaiani, who passed away this year, earned his MOH. Here’s a collection of SF recollections. This page has a historical article (scroll down to the thumbnails, each one is a .jpg of a page).
  6. Speaking of Vietnam, here’s a USARV Long Range Patrol Conference report from August, 1968. One of the most interesting things is that the conferees were almost all officers, and there were about six NCOs, the guys who actually did patrols. Three were SF guys, instructors from the Recondo school; one was a SOG guy; and there were two guys from a Ranger LRRP outfit. We want to do more about this, but it’s a very rich document, so here it is for all y’all. Part I is the conference, 50 pp: LRRP Conference 1968 Part 1.pdf; Part II is a presentation on Recondo School, 10 pp:LRRP Conference 1968 part II Recondo School.pdf. Primary documents FTW; source, Texas Tech’s outstanding Vietnam Archives (this page).
  7. Anybody from Bad Tölz in the 1950s through the early 1980s will remember the Lodge Act guys. By 1981 Julius “Bear” Reinitzer was one of the last ones; he was the S-2 SGM for SFDAE and later the 1st Battalion, 10th SFG(A) Command Sergeant Major, which is where he was when we met him… he was the proverbial “fluent in German, Czech and Polish, and functional command of English” guy. His daughter has published a book about his WWII experiences: The Nine Lives of Julius: A True Story of Survival by Ilona Reinitzer (it’s written, though, in first person). We enjoyed it, and it’s all of $3 on Kindle. We hope there’s a sequel about his SF years! Last we knew the Bear was still alive, here in NH.
  8. Hardcore resistance-chick TTP: Sleep with the occupiers. Give them the clap one of them gave you when he raped you. Of course, when the Gestapo finds out who’s been the Typhoid Monica of the ville, they’ll shoot you, but 76 years on they’ll put up a marble plaque: “To the Girl of Trebon, who fought the German occupiers with her own body, and paid with her life.” Her name is known but to God, and any surviving old Landser with a memory of waking up peeing needles in the Reichsprotektorat Böhmen u. Mähren one fine morning.
  9. Got a Vietnam casualty in the family, or wonder about one from your hometown? The Virtual Wall has them organized by home of record. Even our tiny NH town gave up two lives. (They were both infantrymen, an Army officer in the Americal and a Marine rifleman in 3rd Force).

Stolen Valor (2)

  1. Back in October, Rep Walter Jones discovered that Marine Commandant James Amos had made a relatively small misrepresentation on his resume and in hearings. He misstated his date and type of completion of basic officer school — instead of doing it immediately, as a transferree from the Navy, Amos skipped it and completed a pencil-whip correspondence version five years later.
  2. Later, Amos fell back on the old “my-resume-was-prepared-by-someone-else-and-I-never-read-it” dodge, which Hagel backed with a wink and a nod, and Jones this week dismissed as “hogwash.”

Crime (4)

  1. Dean Weingarten has a strange, strange story about a shooting in Vermont — and points out that initial news reports in this case, as is often the case, were wrong.
  2. The FBI shut down Silk Road, a “deep web” site trafficking in illegal goods, mostly drugs. A new “Silk Road 2.0″ launched almost immediately, on 6 Nov 13. The FBI shut it down on 6 Nov 14 and the arrested mastermind is a former SpaceX employee. The days the FBI couldn’t play in tech are behind us. (Also, the USG has pretty much the entire net plugged into warrantless surveillance these days).
  3. FBI again, in this case, impersonating an Associated (with terrorists) Press reporter, dragging the reputations of both entities downwards:
  4. Lawless police tactics produce criminal imitations. Case in point, from New Jersistan:

Survival (2)

  1. Peter Seibold survived being thrown from a shattered spaceship at approximately 60,000 feet and Mach 1.1. How, no one is exactly sure; not even Seibold.
  2. Words fail, so here’s the quote: “In Eaten Alive, naturalist and wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie aims to be devoured by an anaconda while in a custom-built snake-proof suit.” Snake-proof suits and hokey religions are a poor substitute for a blaster at your side, kid.

Poly-Ticks (4)

  1. Bob Owens suggests three political axes of advance on page 2 of a 2-pager: National Concealed Carry Reciprocity, Modernizing the NFA by removing SBR/SBS/Suppressors and making them Title 1 firearms, and correcting the FOPA of 1986 by deleting the Hughes Amendment. We see the last as a stretch goal… but all three deserve enactment.
  2. This is ancient political history, but in 1988 Mike Dukakis beclowned himself by getting into a tank in an attempt to distract from his anti-defense and anti-military positions. (Fun fact: Dukakis was once an Army draftee, honorably discharged at the end of his enlisted term). Politico did a long-form story last year, drawing on the reminisces of many Dukakis loyalists, and even some of the Bush campaign team. Excellent story.dukakis_tank
  3. Most of the people apprehended crossing the Southern US border in Fiscal 2014 (which ended 30 Sep 14) were not Mexicans, according to stats posted by the Border Patrol and then removed within hours on Oct. 10. “It worries me that they may have been taken down for purely political reasons,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
  4. A couple towns from here, two state rep candidates got the exact same vote count, 3,109 votes each. There could be a runoff, or a recount, or they could even agree to share the seat and have a half vote each. (In that same district, one of the other state reps, Fred Rice, is a Vietnam SF veteran and a USMA grad, Class of ’60).

Lord Love a Duck (2)

  1. When overseas, pay attention. Don’t take pictures of the Photography Prohibited signs. The guys who put them up may be serious.
  2. A National Guard SF NCO worked to get Guard vehicles and stuff for props for a calendar photo shoot. Subject of the calendar? Smoking-hot chicks in bikinis. Camo bikinis. With guns. Example (we needed to research this calendar in depth, obviously): Cal---march-pageSo, what’s the problem? (Well, apart from her completely unsafe and impractical attire for a trip to the range). Ah, we didn’t say which state. A Utah Guard NCO. He’s in trouble, as is everybody else who helped with the calendar, except the LTC who greenlighted the whole thing. RHIP, different spanks for different ranks, and all that.

Even Terrorists Have Friends

A shattered lid from a 6 liter pressure cooker. Part of one of the Marathon bombs. Image: FBI

A shattered lid from a 6 liter pressure cooker. Part of one of the Marathon bombs. Image: FBI

We’ve discussed, from time to time, the Boston Marathon Bombers, two exemplars of Sudden Jihad Syndrome (now playing also in Canada!) who have multiple names: the Census Bureau and the FSB of the Russian Federation know them as Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnayev, and we know them, named by columnist Howie Carr, as Speedbump (because Tamerlan died from being blown up and then run over by Dzhokar (“Joker” is close enough, pronunciation-wise) and Flashbang (since Joker turned up in the hospital with a lot of self-inflicted burns, along with a few bullet holes from fifteen minutes and ~1500 rounds of unaimed contagious fire by the Massachusetts State Police).

Both of those weirdos had equally weird friends, who are now or have recently been on trial for assisting the bombers — those are Drop-In Auto Sear (real name, Dias Kadyrbayev), Hazmat Manyletters (Azamat Tazhayakov) and Dynamit Robel (Robel Phillipos). We introduced these d-bags in May, 2013, and followed-up by noting their arraignments on multiple charges in September, 2013. We haven’t really followed up with their trials.

Dynamit Robel was on trial recently, and Carr noted one of his bizarre character witnesses:

So there he was, M. Stanley Dukakis — the failed ex-governor of Massachusetts, the failed ex-Democratic presidential candidate — driving his tank down to the federal courthouse yesterday to testify on behalf of the admitted pothead who is also an accused terrorist-helper.


It was totally out of left field. Key word: left.

He’s a good boy, the Duke basically said, a very good boy. Just like all those nice young men the 65-inch-high governor used to give weekend prison furloughs to — Jimmy the Bear Flemmi, Vinnie Federico, etc.

What’s the connection here between Dukakis and the Ethiopian-American weedmeister? Is the Duke a secret pothead? No, it turns out that he took the lad to the 2004 national Democrat convention, the one in which nominee Liveshot Kerry sailed into the city on his yacht from Charlestown.

Poor Robel. No wonder he ended up one toke over the line. I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the moment when I heard those stirring words, “This is Admiral Kerry, reporting for doody.” Er, duty.

The Duke phoned Robel after his first five-hour FBI interview. Robel thought the G-men seemed like “cool-ass dudes.” Hey, Pee Wee thought the same thing about Whitey Bulger’s brother.

The Duke still doesn’t get it. He may be the last Democrat who isn’t too ashamed to cop to voting for Barack Obama. Three words: non compos mentis.

Younger readers may ask, what was it like living in the Dukakis years? And the answer is: It was exactly like it is now! Chaos, confusion, political correctness run amok.

What Obama is nationally — arrogant, incompetent, deficit-ridden, economy-wrecking, illegal alien-coddling, crook-appointing — that was the Duke, only on a state level. A wrecking ball of mis-, mal- and nonfeasance. The year he was finally run out of town on a rail, 1990, there was a statewide bounty on Democrats.

What was the Duke’s administration like? Think one too many Dr. Tom Friedens. The brilliance of Joe Biden, leavened with the ethics of Lois Lerner and the even-handed justice of Eric Holder.

As soon as the Duke got off the stand yesterday, the feds should have moved for a directed verdict of guilty. As a judge of character, well, consider the governor’s stellar record of appointees:

• Ex-Essex Sheriff Charles “Chuckles” Reardon, Bureau of Prisons number 20951-038.

• Ex-Middlesex Sheriff Honest John McGonigle, BOP number 20050-038.

• Ex-education adviser and Bridgewater State College president Gerard Indelicato, BOP number 09793-016.

Robel Phillipos, the bad news is, you’re going to prison. The good news is, your good pal Mike Dukakis can call all of his associates and give you the lowdown on what Club Fed is really like.

via Carr: Robel Phillipos has friends in high places | Boston Herald.

Howie was right, of course. Drop-In Auto Sear and Hazmat were already convicted of obstruction and up the river by the time Dynamit Robel was on trial. And, you probably didn’t see this one coming, but despite using the “I was high out of my mind when I talked to the FBI” defense, Dynamit Robel was convicted and will soon be one more of M. Stanley Dukakis’s friends with his very own BOP number.

That was a longshot defense, of course. The last time it worked was when… uh, when was it exactly? Oh, never, that’s it.

If you’re going to court and your lawyers tell you they’re trying the too-stoned-no-countsies defense, bring your toothbrush.

An Unsung Jump Record: Alan Eustace

In 2012, Felix Baumgartner set a freefall record of four minutes and twenty seconds and an altitude record of 119,000 feet, in a very well-publicized jump, extensively sponsored by the Red Bull energy drink company. Here at, we wrote about it, and its preliminaries, several times:

  1. 15 Aug 2012: Felix Baumgartner did it! (Broke all Joe Kittinger;s records except absolute longest-duration free fall. Kittinger’s drogue gave him 10 extra seconds).
  2. 15 Aug 2012: Felix broke the whaaaat? (Airheaded reporter Andrea Mitchell said he broke the speed of light. Er, no).
  3. 9 Aug 2012: This just in – ‘Fearless Felix’ jump attempt delayed. One of several delays in the run up to the big jump.
  4. 6 Sep 2012: No Bull. An earlier delay, caused by damage to the balloon’s capsule.
  5. 27 July 2012: Now that’s a freefall: 3 min 48 seconds. Sure, it was a record then, but it didn’t last…. This jump was from 96,640 feet (and it was not even an altitude record, thanks to Col. Joe Kittinger’s pioneering 1960 efforts).
  6. 20 March 2012: “Fearless Felix” has a flawless jump. 71,583 feet, freefall for 3:43 (unofficial numbers).

But recently (on Friday, 24 October 2014), Felix’s record fell, and it fell without much drama or publicity to Alan Eustace, an adventurer/researcher funded by Google success. Indeed, Eustace and the Paragon Space Development Corp. team led by Paragon CEO Grant Anderson worked in secrecy. Their mission is to develop a commercially-viable space suit — and not incidentally, to display Paragon’s systems-engineering prowess.


eustace - ascendingEustace rode a balloon to 135,980 feet and jumped out over Roswell, New Mexico, a record altitude, freefell for 4:30, potentially beating or tying Joe Kittinger’s record freefall duration, and hit Mach 1.23, which fell just short of being another record. The Associated Press:

Eustace didn’t feel it when he broke the sound barrier, but the ground crew certainly heard the resulting sonic boom, [US Parachute Ass’n Record Observer, Jim] Hayhurst said.

“He just said it was a fabulous view. He was thrilled,” Hayhurst said of his conversation with Eustace after he landed.

The supersonic skydive happened with little fanfare, out of the media spotlight, unlike the 2012 attempt by daredevil Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team. Baumgartner, who was taken aloft in a capsule with the help of millions of dollars in sponsorships, had set the previous altitude record by jumping from 128,100 feet.

Eustace’s final record altitude appears to have been 41,420m (135,892.3 feet) although that’s Guinness Book record keeping, not an official FAI number. He fell at a slower terminal velocity than Baumgartner (he used a drogue like Kittinger did for stability in the near-space environment at 130k+ feet) so he may have finally broken Kittinger’s duration record as well. His main chute opened at 13,000 feet; had it failed, there was a cutaway/reserve capability available. (Eustace is an experienced pilot and skydiver).

eustace - descending

While you can see the curvature of the earth below, and the black sky and stars above, at that altitude, and while there’s far too little air or air pressure to breathe unassisted,  it’s not technically space: space begins at the Von Kárman line, 100 kilometers or about 384,000 feet.

Alan Eustace is not a young daredevil. He’s 57 years old, and the Paragon team is looking to, in Eustace’s words, “design a system that would allow humans to explore the stratosphere as easily and safely as they do the ocean.” The Paragon system was capsule-less – during his ascent he hung in his suit below the balloon for over two hours. On landing, he appears to have done a face plant in a grassy field (what we called in SF the “feet-knees-face PLF”), but he was uninjured   — and jubilant.

Wallendas and Wannabees

By now, everybody’s heard about Nik Wallenda’s daring feat. No, not the high-wire stuff — that’s the family business, and they’re all pros. You realize he actually went to Chicago? That’s some iron testicles there, folks. We’re serious — Second City Cop reports that even the cops are getting rolled these days. Or kneed in the family jewels.

Anyway, it puts us in mind of our own encounter with the famous family of four generations of high-wire experts and acrobats, and how they did us a good turn — and helped us bust a notorious phony, about 20 years ago.

The phony, an underachieving scion of a successful family who had served creditably in Vietnam, had published an incredible book about his LRRP exploits. But that was the problem — it was “incredible” in the literal sense of “not credible,” and it was a little too focused on his own heroics. It rang false, but we quickly determined that he really had served in that unit — he was on the rosters, even though guys who were in it didn’t remember him. That’s how much of an impression he actually made, but the version in his own mind was rather different.

His vanity caused him to exaggerate his own story, and diminish the actions of everybody else in his and in other units — which made all those guys want to nail him to a wall. But he really had been a LRRP member for, if memory serves, six months or half a tour.

His exaggerations also covered various other periods in his life, including a series of claims about his time as a circus acrobat and member of the Flying Wallendas. He wasn’t just a member, but took over leadership of the troupe while he was there. That claim seemed to be made of the same stuff of his war heroism.

Now, in our experience, a guy who lies about his military service doesn’t stop there. He’s usually told lots of other lies, and along with the bogus biography, he’s also, more often than not,

It struck us that, while they were famous artists, the Wallendas were real people and would be able to weigh in on the truth of that part of the Asscrobat’s (as we began calling him) story. In those days, late 1980s/early 1990s, the internet was a bit spottier than today, but we finally made contact with a young lady who was indeed a Wallanda, currently off the circuit with a baby if we remember properly. She wouldn’t have known a hired acrobat from the sixties, but she handed us off to an uncle, who — mirabile dictu! — remembered our super warrior.

And bedamned if he hadn’t actually trained and prepared to go on tour with the Flying Wallendas, not as a featured soloist but as one of the anonymous myrmidons. Over the years, of course, the family has trained a veritable army of other acrobats and has used them in their acts, and some of them remain family friends. This guy was a one-tour-wonder, or at least, a guy who did all the workups for one tour.

Until the day came to go on the road, and he never showed up for the bus. They waited… ten minutes, then a half hour, then an hour. And then they rolled out of Sarasota without him. He never appeared in public with the act, not once.

He was a Quitting Wallenda. Or maybe a Flying Quitter, since he wasn’t ever a member of the Wallenda family.

The older Mr Wallenda that  we spoke to and exchanged emails with remembered him well, and his verdict was brutal: “I think he was afraid.” Now, having seen what the Wallendas do (and the price they have paid, as a family, to do it), we could not fault a man for being afraid. But of course, that’s not the way it happened in his book. In his book he was the best of all, far superior to the real Wallendas — the ones that actually rode out of Sarasota that day, to entertain tens of thousands with their skill and physicality. And he sold the book as a non-fiction book. His exaggerations of his war record (and belittling of others’) was much the same sort of thing. The guy’s whole self-image was built on a series of borrowed stories and outright lies. Pathetic, really.

There was a kernel of truth in his large book droppings in both the war and circus cases. But in each case, it was surrounded by a vast agglomeration of septic lies; if memory serves, he exaggerated many other episodes of his live, always aggrandizing himself and stealing the experiences of others.

When the Asscrobat was exposed for the phony he was, he ran the whole phony playbook. He threatened beatings. He threatened lawsuits. He threatened the Wallendas with beatings and lawsuits. Everybody blew him off, and we never heard from him again. He’s probably still lying to women in bars somewhere about his exploits — or doing time for fraud. Like we say, it’s never just one thing with these guys.

In contrast to the Asscrobat, we’ve always felt warmth and amazed, humble respect towards the real acrobats, the Wallendas. The Wallendas inspire our imagination because they dare. We celebrate Nik’s achievement over Chicago, and note that he’s already chosen to do it on an even grander scale — and this time, he’s picked a place where he’s at least as safe off the high wire as he is on it. Good on him.

They hate us. They really hate us.

The needle-dick bug buggerers at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, formerly the National Coalition to Ban Handguns1, now whining because they’re not getting a lot of Daddy Bloomberg’s allowance money, have discovered RangerUp. And they’re appalled. My god! Veterans (pronounced in the tones of Martha Stewart reacting to dog feces on the rug) are joking (pronounced as if humor causes them physical pain) about PTSD! (pronounced as if the proper response to an ailment is to lock the sufferer in the attic and speak his name nevermore).

Miguel at Gun Free Zone captured their tweet or FB post or whatever it was:


Then, he hung around and captured their comments in response. Comedy — not even gold, but dilithium crystals, at least. Because the smiles they generate can power the Internet for weeks.

But they do hate’em some veterans, that’s for sure, and they completely missed what RangerUp is all about.  There are many statements that anyone who would wear such a shirt is terrifying, and more than a couple of calls for violence against the wearers — preemptively, of course. They demand that anyone wearing the shirt get beaten, or arrested. One threatens to shoot anyone with the shirt, then backs off. (Wait, they’re a gun-ban group? Threatening to shoot people?)

The impulse to violence is never too deep with these jamokes. But usually, it seems, it’s the impulse to have someone else do their beating or arresting for them. One wonders if it’s that vague and impersonal belligerence that convinces them that all of us can’t be trusted with direct control of the levers of power, to wit, triggers.

The same guys are terrified of 3D printing of firearms, but don’t understand that a firearm can begin as a block of steel, a set of files, and an idea. They are an inch from calling for the ban of the idea (as some have already called for a ban on firearms plans and firearms manufacturing discussions); in their profound insecurity the 1st Amendment is no safer in their hands than the obsolete 2nd. That makes them, as laughably small as their braincases may be, worth watching by those of us who exercise their rights every day. (We also assert our 3rd Amendment rights, and no longer quarter soldiers at Hog Manor. Since retirement).

Now, back on Miguel’s post, where we do insist you go Read The Whole Thing™, he notes that their moderators are madly deleting comments. So someone thinks that calling for the murder of vets wearing a smart-ass shirt is wrong, at least, right?

Wrong. They have been deleting posts by veterans critical of their loathing of us, and responding to their and their followers’ calls for violence. And they wonder why the trends are against them, these violent, vicious, vindictive, totalitarian creepazoids.


1. They didn’t change their name because, as you might suppose, they changed their minds about wanting to ban handguns. Oh, no! They decided they also wanted to ban rifles and shotguns.

A German Guns Follow-up: What a Mystery!

Not what we had planned for this morning, actually, but frequent commenter Oberndorfer Stefan van den Borght (oops, sorry) sends a link to an article about what the reporter clearly thinks is a terrifying explosion of gun ownership in Franconia, a bucolic, mostly rural region of Bavaria.

Before we dig into a brief excerpt that made us laugh out loud, note that Bavaria is arguably the most traditional-minded and conservative of the states of the former West Germany. Bavaria preserved the greatest amount of the Old German hunting tradition. Franconia, specifically, is the home of Germany’s largest and most prominent guns-and-hunting empire, Waffen Frankonia aka Frankonia Jagd, kind of like Kittery Trading Post or Cabela’s with a German accent: traditional tyrolean hats and loden coats instead of Elmer Fudd caps and plaid jackets. So there’s a gun culture of centuries’ standing here, but the reporter, like journos everywhere, is mystified:

Die Zahl der Straftaten mit Schusswaffen im Landkreis Neustadt a.d. Aisch-Bad Windsheim ist der Polizei zufolge trotz der hohen Waffenbesitzquote eher unterdurchschnittlich. Die Polizei registrierte nach eigenen Angaben 15 solcher Fälle im Jahr 2012.

Bwahahaha! Oh wait, you don’t read the language of Goethe (or the nameless reporter), do you? Allow us to translate:

The number of crimes with firearms in the county of Neustast an der Aisch / Bad Windesheim is, according to the police, rather lower than average, despite the high number of weapons-possession permits.

Mystery, innit? And, yes, he said “despite.” We’ve seen more than a few Anglophone journalists make that same logical error, haven’t we? (Note, too, that the permit they’re talking about, the WBK, lets you possess firearms alone. You can’t necessarily do anything with them).

But wait, it gets better. Because to get the number up to “below average,” they have to throw in everything but the kitchen sink as a “gun crime” (another dodge beloved of Yank journos). Let’s continue, auf deutsch and then immediately in good ol;’ American:

Der Durchschnitt in Mittelfranken liege bei 20 – inklusive Straftaten mit Schreckschusswaffen. Davon gab es im Landkreis elf Vorfälle. Straftaten mit scharfem Schusswaffengebrauch, bei denen Menschen verletzt wurden, gab es im Landkreis in den letzten zwei Jahren nicht.

The average in Middle Franconia is about 20 [crimes] — including crimes with non-lethal weapons. Of those there were 11 incidents in the county. Crimes with the use of lethal firearms, in which people were injured, have not occurred in the county in the last two years.

So parsing that into logical English, there are about 20 crimes a year in that counyy with some kind of firearm-looking thing, 11 of which were determined to be with blank, replica, or tear-gas guns. That means there are 9 crimes committed with real guns, or at least, with guns that could not be determined to be fake guns. (A robbery goes down as a real gun unless or until they catch the perp and determine he was packing non-heat).

This was not lost on the readers of the paper. The very first comment, referring to the story’s hyperventilation over the 5,000 registered weapons in the city of Amberg:

In Amberg, it’s like Kennesaw, USA. A city full of weapons brings peace and order….

And at the end of the story, they note that there were 54 dead through firearms in Germany (the construction of the sentence makes us suspect this is homicides, suicides and accidents all together), of which 27 — exactly half! — were with registered weapons. This strongly suggests that gun homicides are disproportionately done with unregistered, black-market guns.

We support freedom everywhere. Germans would be safer if there were 50,000 registered firearms in Amberg, and safer yet if they didn’t have to be registered. Russians would be safer if they could own handguns; how about it, Vladimir Vladimirovich? It’s culture, not weapons, that drives homicides.