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An Arms Room Story

The ARMY way -- optics off. (This commercial, non-issue rack would support storage optics on).What’s the definition of misery? To be assigned to the Rear Det when the guys go to war, just because you’re at loggerheads with the CO. The duties of the Rear Det are few, so long as nobody gets whacked: push stuff forward to the guys, maintain the building, manage the property book.

Ah, the property book. It includes, of course, the arms room, so we did all the usual inspections, but with only two of us (the other guy, Craig, stayed back due to a medical problem), we were on the not-quite-legal side. But it was just a formality, right?

There were not many weapons in the arms room. Most of the M4s had gone forward, as had all the MGs we’d borrowed off infantry units. We had six M16A2s that we’d borrowed from somebody for a flag detail, that they wouldn’t take back for some reason; a few deadlined M4s; and the foreign weapons locker which had about 100 foreign and obsolete weapons in there for mechanical training. (We weren’t supposed to shoot them, without some kind of papal encyclical from Aberdeen that Aberdeen would never bestow on us, but we always did, if they’d headspace. We had tagged the junkers that wouldn’t headspace).

When the unit deployed, the property book (the master list of all the unit’s “stuff” was divided into two separate ones — the stuff that went to war stayed on the unit’s books, and the stuff left behind (like all the wall lockers in the team room, chairs and desks in the office, and those wallflower firearms) were put on the stay-behind property book.

Comes the Inspection Team

So one morning about three weeks into our adventure a colonel and a couple other officers show up, unannounced.

“This is a no-notice inspection!”

We looked with some dismay around the trashed office, and Craig (not his real name) slid his porn magazine into his desk. He was that kind of hornball, and was usually hooking up with barfly women on dating websites (much later, we would discover that, stuck for a nom de jig-a-jig and not being a very imaginative fellow, he was using Your Humble Blogger’s).

“We didn’t know you guys were coming.”

“Yeah, Sarge. No-notice, right?”

It turned out they didn’t care about our scuffed floors or grimy windows — it wasn’t that kind of inspection. They wanted to see all the stuff on our property book.

But they had the original property book and would not be convinced that the only stuff they could find was the stuff on the stay-behind detachment’s book. That took most of an hour, by which time the colonel had concluded that the stay behind det was the two dumbest mo-fos in Special Forces. (When we turned out to be, if dumb, at least right, that did not restore us to his good graces. Quite the contrary!)

Having that figured out, we breezed through most of the unit property. Yep the wall lockers were in the team rooms. All that was left was the commo locker and the arms room, which we’d have to open.

“It’s almost noontime!” Craig said. “Let’s break for lunch.”

“I want to get back to HQ,” the colonel announced. Craig kept insisting. The colonel was getting cross.

“Well, let’s do the commo locker first, get it over with,” Craig said. “And then break for lunch.”

“The arms room is right downstairs,” your humble blogger helpfully announced. “Let’s do it… ” but Craig was making all kinds of cut-off gestures from behind the inspecting officer.

At this point, the colonel got paged by the other unit that shared the armory, and went to take a telephone call, and for a moment Craig and your humble blogger were alone.

We’re missing whaat?

“WTF, dude?”

“We can’t let him in the arms room! We’re short a gun.”

W. T. F-itty F?

“I lent a Swedish K to Ben.” (Also not his real name, Ben was a former unit member who was a senior member of the police department in the city where our unit was based).

“You whaaaaat?”

“Look, he’s going to bring it back when he’s done. He busted a part on his own one and wanted to copy the same part from ours. So I gave him the gun last month. We can’t let these guys into the arms room.”

They were already suspicious as hell of us — with, it turns out, good reason. It was time to lay down the law.

“Call Ben now. Have him bring the Swedish K back, now. Take these [censored] out to lunch and try to get some booze into them. I’ll put the gun back in the arms room if Ben brings it in. Otherwise, all three of us are going to be in Leavenworth.”

Craig hauled the inspection team to a very good local restaurant and proceeded to treat them to a fine lunch (on, naturally, YHB’s money, because he “didn’t have any cash, sorry.”) The colonel’s suspicion meter was pretty much pegged when Craig kept trying to buy rounds. It went right through ALARM and was quivering in the RAMPANT PARANOIA range when he arrived back at the unit to see me walking out of the bay the supply room, and, more to the point, the arms room, was in.

“What are you doing?”

“Craig said you’d be back, so I went ahead and opened the arms room for your inventory.”

The colonel’s face betrayed his disbelief. Over his shoulder Craig mouthed the words, “Did you get it?” and we suppressed the initial reaction, and instead gave him a look of sadness and a shake of the head.

About fifteen minutes later, with the colonel (whose branch we have forgotten, but he couldn’t identify most of the weapons, and was quite astonished that we had everything from BARs to Walther P.38s) sitting in a stack of oddball firearms, he called out the next item on his list:

“Swedish M-forty-five Bravo, two each.”

“Here, and here.”

Craig, who’d been cringing like a whipped puppy, suddenly realized what had happened: Ben had arrived in time (in fact, Ben, outgoing, passed the lunch bunch, incoming, in the parking lot). And we’d just been messing with his head.

At the end of the inspection, the colonel laughed. “I’m getting paranoid in my old age. I was convinced you guys were trying to mislead me, but, you passed the inventory perfectly.”

Little did he know.

Craig, who was hiding (known to all of us) a medical problem (which would have dumped him out of the unit pre-retirement eligibility) was able to stay around to retire, and the inspection team had a memorable lunch and a good inspection. So that would have been the end of it

A few days later, Craig said that Ben had asked to borrow the Swedish K again. It turns out, in the month plus Ben had it he hadn’t actually taken any measurements.

Craig didn’t see why we shouldn’t lend out the K again. His argument did not carry the day. Instead, Ben had to come in to make his measurements here. And there was never any discrepancy in the arms room inventory.

Soon after this incident, the CO was relieved, over in Afghanistan; and your humble blogger was on the next thing smoking in that direction.

War is hell, but Rear Det is really hazardous.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 30

This Tour d’Horizon collects a bunch of stuff off the spindle.

This is where we throw a lot of our open tabs.

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Slide Fire Solutions Bumps off Bump Fire Systems

bumpfire_systems_logoSome of the gun media are reporting this as a “settlement,” which it is, technically; but it’s a settlement in which one side takes a deep draught of hemlock. As Guns.com reports:

Bump Fire Systems, as part of the deal, agreed to pay a “confidential sum of money” to Slide Fire Solutions. The company also stopped production and sale of their bump fire stocks per the agreement.

Bump Fire is offering refunds to buyers who bought in the last thirty days, but they have shut down “for the duration of the terms of the patents.”

Slide Fire (left) and Bump Fire (right).

Slide Fire (left) and Bump Fire (right). (Images the two companies, juxtaposition by Guns.com). 

Judging from the grammar on their website (see 1st two lines below), attention to detail was not their thing:

ALL CURRENT MODELS HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED INDEFINITELY !

WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SALE AT THIS TIME

NO STOCKS AVAILABLE

Slide Fire Solutions, LP and Bump Fire Systems, LLC announced that they have resolved their
patent infringement lawsuit. Pursuant to their agreement, Bump Fire Systems, LLC pays a confidential sum of money to Slide Fire, acknowledges the validity of four patents asserted in the litigation and agrees to a judgement under which it must cease and desist from any further sales of bump fire stocks for the duration of the terms of the patents.

Slide Fire’s Jeremiah Cottle has many patents, but four were at issue in this case. Most of the patents were issued from 2004-2014 and have a typical duration of 14 years.

The Guns.com article is a good overview of the case, and there has also been extensive coverage at The Firearm Blog.

State Department Attacks Gunsmiths

If you’re a gunsmith who cuts metal on firearms or firearms parts, the State Department has just mounted an attack on you. You will now need a $2,500 annual “registration fee” to as much as crown a barrel or fit a flash hider, because you’re now “engaged in the export of armament services.”

And Gun Control Group Attacks Gun Shows

The anti-gun Democratic group, “Americans for Responsible Solutions,” led by Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has opened a new front in its pursuit of gun bans: pressuring venues to ban gun shows. They’ve secured bans with the help of friendly anti-gun Democrats in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Nashville, Tennessee(!).

Heil Healey! State AG Attacks Gun Owners; Governor Melts; Manufacturers Shrug

In Massachusetts, national socialist Attorney General Maura Healey (Heil Healey!) banned nearly all semi-automatic centerfire firearms with a broad “reinterpretation” of gun laws, effective midnight the next day; then, after she inspired a run on dealers that cleaned out MA FFLs, she issued a follow up saying that no, it was effective immediately, and the 2,500 or so ARs, etc., that were sold before the deadline — cleaning are, like all the “MA Compliant” ARs, etc., now contraband. She then said that even though the owners of the hundreds of thousands of freshly banned guns are now felons, she isn’t going to prosecute them — now. She reserves the right to do it later. And she just might prosecute the dealers that sold the guns.

Governor Charlie Baker, a nominal Republican, has been talking out of both sides of his mouth, praising Healey’s ban to supporters of it and opposing it to opponents. When his staff finally figured out that the opponents outnumbered the supporters and had opinions of much greater intensity, he wrote a letter begging Healey for “clarification,” to which she responded, surprisingly reasonably: “Hey, you were all for it when we discussed it before I implemented it.” Or as that news story put it:

Healey’s office said that’s different from what the Baker administration told them last week.

Baker’s staff is still telling callers that support the fiat ban one thing and callers that oppose it something else; trying to split the baby between tyranny and resistance, but de facto on the side of the ban. Baker’s weak, vacillating, and cowardly inaction has shown him to be #2 to his own attorney general. She’s twice the man he is.

If Baker has been a coward and a cuckold in this, the state’s remaining gun manufacturers have been utter eunuchs. Smith & Wesson? No statement. Troy? No statement*. Kahr? Crickets. All three make banned firearms in Massachusetts. Even Seecamp, whose products aren’t banned yet? Nothing.

*Unless you call this a statement: “Effective Immediately: TROY cannot sell semi-auto firearms to Massachusetts civilian residents.”

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. (We have nada this week).

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

At the Conventions

Last week, we said:

In case of riot, one of their agencies was tasked to provide thousands of gas masks. Some literal-minded equipment manager duly delivered what looked like the agency’s entire stock of masks.

No filters.

This has been clarified to us, and perhaps we have it right now. 400 gas masks were sent to each convention. It appears that none of the ones sent to the Republicans’ convention had filters, and maybe half of the ones sent to the Democrats’ did. As God protects the fools, the innocent, and the 1% that mismanage Federal agencies, riot control gear wasn’t needed much; the TTPs that work on two-year-olds being generally effective on Black Criminals’ Lives Matter, Occupy Dad’s Basement, and Butthurt Bernie-bros also.

In addition, plate carriers that don’t hold standard size SAPI plates were sent to the convention locations, and plates that are odd sizes and don’t fit any standard carriers. Naurally, neither the odd-size carriers nor the odd-size plates actually match and fit each other.

It didn’t occur to the geniuses issuing this equipment to get the SAs to sign for it, so now, they only know they didn’t get a lot of it back, not who got it, who returned it, and (therefore) who still has it. It’s pretty unlikely any agent wants a protective mask or a set of maladjusted plate carriers as a souvenir of a political convention, so they should probably have thought through issue and turn in a little more. If nothing else, SACs could put out a collection box for returning agents to drop their junk in, and when it fills up, send it to whoever the genius was that send the wrong stuff to special details!

At the Democrats’ convention, there was enough hostility to cops that the managers insisted on tactical and response teams being dressed in suits and not displaying arms or armor overtly. Rather appropriately, the convention was gaveled into order by the Baltimore mayor who gave the Freddie Gray rioters “room to burn” and who has pursued, through her DA, the prosecution of a number of cops, exactly zero of whom have been convicted in what look like fair trials.

 The Perils of Kathleen: Continued

This is our ongoing series where we examine the ongoing meltdown of the paranoid, vengeful and extremely anti-gun Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane.

In addition to the porn question, [Judge] Demchick-Alloy denied a motion by the Kane team to block any testimony regarding her ongoing feud against Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who hired former Kane staffers and pursued a corruption sting Kane had argued was fatally flawed due to racial bias.

Kane had spiked the corruption investigation, possibly because the crooked state politicians were all political allies of hers.

Demchick-Alloy also allowed prosecutors to pursue a taped conversation involving Joshua Morrow, a Kane political consultant who was at the heart of the alleged leaks.

“Morrow questioned the strategy behind the leak and described the defendant as being unhinged,” according to an earlier motion filed by prosecutors.

Kane’s motion to compel the release of handwritten notes from the case against her was also denied by the judge. Steele, the Montgomery County DA, argued that his office had turned over all of the evidence in their possession already.

These developments bode ill for Kane’s defense, but then again, she’s guilty, which always makes a defense attorney earn his pay.

  • Will She Testify? Kane says, “Maybe.” The subtext there is that her lawyer is unlikely to raise some of the stuff that the judge has told him not to raise in these motions denials, so this is her one chance to bang that stuff on the table. This is one of many reasons that the attorney will probably discourage her from testifying. On the other hand, if her goose looks cooked anyway, it gives her a chance to grandstand and play Joan of Political Arc on her way to conviction.
  • The cost of Kane’s corruption? To the taxpayers of PA, at least $436k and counting. Her personal defense in criminal and civil case employs top-dollar legal talent. (That their results have been, shall we say, limited, has less to do with their legal abilities than with the fact patterns she has given her attorneys to work with. They’re lawyers, not miracle workers). (Do Read The Whole Thing™ because it has a rundown on several of the lawsuits, none of which paint Kane in a good light).
  • Kane flunky Doug Gansler, brought in from out of state as her paranoia mounted to the point where she trusted no one local, is lining up to run for governor in Maryland. His issues will clearly be corruption (all for it, obviously), crime (ditto), and guns (unclean! Unclean! He’s against ’em).

Maura Healey (Heil Healey!), have a loo. Kathleen Kane’s political present could be your political future.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

Erdo’s Countercoup

The goats themselves are not safe in the new Turkey. Tens of thousands of Turks have been rendered jobless, thrown in jail, or driven into exile. Austin Bay has a good roundup at the Observer.

It’s a Mystery, My Son

What’s a mystery? Why Moslems keep murdering people while screaming Aloha Snackbar, that’s what. At least, as Tim Blair recounts in the Australian Telegraph, it’s a mystery to the see-no-Moslem enablers of the Press.

UK: Hide, Soldiers, Hide

The British Forces reacted boldly as Brave Sir Robin, when faced with an attack by Moslems on an RAF Marham airman. Did they declare open season on jihadis? No, you silly goose.

They told the troops to run (but not alone!) and hide.

After a spate of terror attacks in France and Germany rocked Europe, Top Brass are determined not to see another Lee Rigby-style attack on a British hero by anyone inspired by the Munich or Nice attacks.

Troops are also warned to run in pairs off base after two Middle Eastern men armed with a blade tried to bundle an RAF airman into the back of a van in a feared abduction attempt this week. …

The guidance, added: “While there remains no ban on the wearing of uniform in public, personnel should not feel compounded to wear it outside MOD establishments when common sense says a lower profile would be more appropriate.”

Yeah, that’ll fix the problem. “And when the enemy reared his head, Sir Robin turned his tail and fled, brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin….”

US: We Need a War on Air Conditioners

That is a supremely silly statement, so you won’t be surprised to learn it comes from the supremely silly Secretary of State, John Kerry, whose previous diplomacy experience includes looking French, marrying African ketchup heiresses, and trying to sell out to the North Vietnamese (who rather sensibly refused to pay even 1 Dong for the turncoatery they were already getting gratis). To wit, the wealthy half-wit twit emits:

Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna on Friday that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big of a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.

Yeah, whatevs. Call us next time an air conditioner beheads a priest, m’kay? When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s you not calling.

Meanwhile, Sumdood reacted appropriately, and filed a petition to strip the overpaid, underworked striped-pants dullards of the Department of State of that murderous air conditioning in their offices, limos, and uparmored Escalades.

India: Bodyguards for Rich Guy’s Wife, Bupkus for Crime Victims

India seems to be pursuing US levels of corruption. Now: commando force detailed to protect a wealthy crony’s consort.

The Indian government was dispatching a team of elite commandos to protect Nita Ambani, the socialite wife of India’s richest man.

Her husband, Mukesh Ambani, an oil and gas magnate worth $21 billion, has had a government security escort since 2013, when he was the subject of terrorist threats, and covers the costs himself.

But in a country where there is a shortage of police officers, the news about 10 additional officers for his wife rankled.

“Women raped daily in Delhi. No security for them despite repeated requests. But [prime minister Narendra Modi] providing security to his friends,” Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said in a tweet.

How crooked does it get? It sounds like that third world country is almost as far gone with crony-capitalist corruption, which the Indians call “VIP Privilege,” as the USA.

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

VA Appears to Encourage Disability Fraud (Again)

That was a headline last week. This week, we heard that a VA rep tried to lure a friend who’s perfectly well-adjusted (well, for an SF guy) into making a PTSD claim, with this argument:

Hey, it’s free money. If you have it, it’s all inside your head, and so no one can ever prove you don’t.

Apparently, the Powers That Be™ are pressing the patient-facing workers to maximize PTSD claims. We don’t know why. Maximize budget? Look like they’re doing something? Your guess is as good as ours. Does anybody else find this morally reprehensible?

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to. 

Photon Torpedoes?

The hoary old science fiction weapon might be realistically possible, say British physics students. Their description seems to suggest a chain-reaction cascade of high energy particles much like a nuclear blast, but directional. If we understand it, but it’s that kind of physics that we probably don’t.

Hat tip: Futurism.com via we forget (sorry)

Urban Ruins: Tire Plant

The US Royal Tire Company, later Uniroyal, made tires and other natural and articficial rubber products for a century in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The 26-acre plant site is now a combination of ruins, Superfund brownfields, and demolition projects. Jeannette DeForge and photo Don Treeger of the Springfield, MA Republican, made a rare visit to the site and there’s a long report and a 44-shot image gallery online. Here’s three of Treeger’s images:

(stand by, we’re having image problems).

Go See The Whole Thing™ if you share our fascination for industrial ruins.

Unfortunately, most of the potentially beautiful riverfront site is under political control, so it will be used for centrally-planned ego projects and to reward cronies, not put to economic use. Most of the 19th and early 20th-century bricks will be used as landfill.

OT: What’s Next in Space Exploration

This amazing graphic is a timeline of the next ten years’ planned space exploration activities, by the four advanced nations/multinationals (NASA. ESA, JAXA,  pursuing space exploration and some Earth-based space research (such as better telescopes). Space exploitation activities, like satellites and the International Space Station, are not included (which is why Russian activities don’t show up; they seem to be out of the planetary probe and interplanetary observation basis, but they do share science with the Big Four, more or less).

what's next in space

 

Souce: Imgur.

Yes, it’s completely off-topic, but isn’t it interesting?

Jump Accident Claims an Allied Soldier

The Army’s been taking its time releasing information on this, but during an 82nd Airborne jump on 14 July 16, Sergeant Arturo Valenzuela fell to his death.

Sgt. Arturo Godinez Valenzuela, 31, died of multiple blunt force injuries during a high-elevation fall during a parachute training incident on July 14, according to a North Carolina death certificate obtained by Army Times.

(Of course, his name could have been Arturo Godinez in the Spanish style…

The cause of the incident remains under investigation, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino.

Maj. Gen. Richard Clarke, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, released a statement:”On behalf of the entire All American Division, I express my deepest sympathies to Sergeant Valenzuelas Family and to his brothers and sisters in arms. Sergeant Valenzuela was part of the Family of Paratroopers and his loss is felt by all of us in the community.  We know that airborne operations are inherently dangerous but we know we must be prepared to do them.  His death is a great sacrifice to his country and our shared values. We are committed to the greatest levels of transparency with our partners throughout the investigation process.”

The thing is, Arturo Valenzuela wasn’t an All American from the 82nd: he was a Mexican soldier, conducting exchange training with the American unit.

Mexican-Norteamericano military-to-military relations tend to be, not exactly frosty, but deliberately correct. Mexican pride still burns from the Mexican-American War, and patriotic Mexican soldiers are very resistant to being the junior partner in anything. And the United States, for historical and cultural reasons that were in place before any of us were born, is viewed by much of Latin America as a bigfooting colonialist empire, much as Russia is viewed by the nations of its Near Abroad. Protesting about our good intentions doesn’t change this (any more than Russian protests about their good intentions does). So, in the light of all that, it is interesting to see Mexican troops actively training with their US-ian counterparts.

The Mexican military (especially special operations units and the navy) bears a lot of the burden of the drug war in Mexico, which has a degree of pervasiveness and depth of violence more like the height of the Iraqi insurgency than anything we’ve seen in the USA, even in the Prohibition gangster era or the height of the crack epidemic of the 90s. Given the degree to which the police are subverted, the military is the critical institution for Mexican security.

This creates opportunities for the USA to work to help Mexico improve its military professionalism further (and opportunities for the Mexican troops who live this reality to share their practical experience with their counterparts of del Norte. The US benefit of these exchanges if often overlooked).

Unfortunately, intensive training often produces injuries, and occasionally fatalities.

via Army IDs foreign soldier killed in parachuting death over Fort Bragg.

We’d like to add that, by now, the accident’s cause should be as understood as it’s going to be, and it’s interesting that the US Army has said nothing publicly about it. There is certainly a lack of trust of the T-11 parachute compared to its thoroughly proven T-10 ancestor. The T-10 was a conventional conical round parachute with essentially no steering capability, intended for mass tactical jumps. Over the decades, it underwent only two major changes, the addition of an anti-inversion net which prevented most inversion and line-over malfunctions, and a late change to zero-porosity fabric that produced a slower descent at the price of greater oscillation. The T-11 is a somewhat more complex chute that looks more squared-off in planform. (It’s still a conventional non-steerable parachute, not the sort of ram-air square used in skydives and HALO).

The sergeant was participating in an exercise with nearly 340 paratroopers. The operation was cancelled in-progress after his fall; 108 completed their jump. The time of death was listed on the death report as 4:32 pm.

Buccino said the soldier was using a T-11 parachute, a new parachute involved in five training deaths of U.S. soldiers since 2011. Root causes have included improper exits from the aircraft, a poorly-secured rucksack that slashed another soldier’s shoot, and an improperly routed static line creating a towed jumper, according to investigations.

“Another soldier’s shoot.” We guess that proves we’re not the only ones who use text-to-speech and don’t have an editor. But Gannett claims to have editors.

The article goes on to note that today’s smaller Army still conducts 60,000 parachute jumps a year (down from about double that in the 1980s). The vast majority of these are static-line jumps, and the vast majority of those are done with the T-11 chute. A retired senior special operations officer who tipped us to this story notes that:

I wasn’t there, so can only speculate about what went wrong. My speculations include jumper lack of airborne experience generally, lack of familiarity with mass exits from high performance aircraft generally, particularly if the jump platform was a C-17, bad and/or weak exit, and a malfunction of the T-11’s slider.

These are all plausible, and our best guess is that even if we (or our correspondent) had been there, we might be none the wiser. A jump mishap often seems inexplicable at first, and only with time and effort can you determine a most probable cause.

We’d also add that the interesting detail wouldn’t be the gross numbers of parachuting deaths (there will always be deaths, although you make every effort to bring them to zero. It’s an inherently risky activity), but the percentage of malfunctions. Because paratroopers are drilled and recurrently trained on most common malfunctions, it’s probable that many other soldiers survived malfunctions; the interesting number that the Army will not share is, are there more or fewer of these per 1,000 jumps than there were in T10 days?

A parachute jump death of a foreigner on US soil using US equipment is guaranteed to produce an unusually intense investigation micromanaged from unusually high levels of command. The last one we can recall was a German soldier jumping an experimental extreme-low-altitude chute in the 1980s. Development of that parachute was discontinued as a result of the investigation.

 

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 29

This Tour d’Horizon comes naked into the world, like a newborn baby; its plaintive cries may draw your attention, at least until the 0600 post tomorrow.

This is where we throw a lot of our open tabs.

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Guy in a Garage Lightweight AR

This AR has been built by a friend of GIAG. He’s assisted with the carbon handguard, and is preparing the rifle for the stock in the next video.

That’s not all he’s been up to, so do take a look around his YouTube Channel if you like this kind of stuff. (And this YouTube channel is unrelated, and entirely off topic, but the guy here — Eric Harrell — has done some cool automotive prints).

Guy in a Garage 3D Printed Stock for LW AR

This video shows GIAG’s latest gun print — a butt plate that converts an ordinary A2 buffer tube into a lightweight stock for a featherweight AR.

When Guns are Outlawed, Some Outlaws build Chemical Weapons

This took place in, of all things, a Wal-Mart.

The man wearing all black is initially seen in the security footage from June 18 blending in like any other shopper.

But, authorities say, he didn’t come to the store to shop, but to build a chemical weapon.

Detectives identified the suspect as Martin Reyes. They say he went to the store after conducting research online on how to build a deadly chemical weapon.

Once inside the store, police said the man assembled all of the ingredients from store shelves, which included some kind of electronic appliance.

Police said he used a socket near the stationary section to plug in the appliance, which was then designed to set the chemical weapon off.

No one was harmed, and Reyes, who is defined as a “mentally ill career criminal,” is safely under lock and key. The whole thing was caught on store video.

We’re not sure what “most adapted” means in this context.It sure does look cool.

Anti Gun Academics Demand Ban on 3D Printing in Firearms

Because it could lead to mayhem… and home-built nukes. Hey, they’re liberal arts profs (strike one) from LSU. (Strike two). And clearly haven’t read anything in the field (strike three and out).  Cue Randy Newman: “College men… from LSU. Went in dumb, come out dumb too.”

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. (We have a lot of that this week).

This Does Not Look Like a Good Shoot

question markIn North Miami, a cop shot a guy who was lying still, hands up.

[Therapist Charles] Kinsey says he was trying to intervene on behalf of an autistic patient who had run off from the group home. According to police, someone called 911 to report a suicidal man walking around with a gun. The group home patient had a toy truck in his hands.

“When I went to the ground, I went to the ground with my hands up,” Kinsey told WSVN, “and I am laying there just like this. Telling them again there is no need for firearms. He is autistic. He has a toy truck in his hand.”

“I was really more worried about him than myself. I was thinking as long as I have my hands up,” Kinsey continued. “They’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.”

Yep, the cop then popped him.

“I thought it was a mosquito bite,” Kinsey explained to WSVN, “and when it hit me I had my hands in the air, and I’m thinking I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.'”

The police department apparently slept through Public Relations 101, as they immediately clammed up, lawyered up, and basically started acting like a bunch of perps that just got caught shootin a guy for no reason:

Police did not identify the police officer who shot Kinsey and would not update WSVN about their investigation, although they say the state is also investigating the incident.

Other media reported that the cop fired deliberately, but was trying to shoot the autistic guy for not complying with his orders. His marksmanship was even worse than his judgment.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Black Criminals’ Lives Matter, I

The city of Slummerville — excuse us, Somerville, it’s an understandable mistake — is sucking up to the black criminals’ social movement with a Black Lives Matter banner. The police union head sent a letter pointing out that it was under the aegis of Black Lives Matter that five Dallas policemen were murdered by a radicalized gunman and 21 cops were injured — one with a fractured spine — in St. Paul by mostly-white “Black Lives Matter” rioters.

Common chants at Black Lives Matter riots have included: “Hands up, don’t shoot” referring to the myth that would-be cop killer Michael Brown had his hands up; “”Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” which is fairly self-explanatory; and “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” which again needs no explaining.

Black Criminals’ Lives Matter, II

The Philadelphia PBA is not too thrilled with Hillary Clinton’s selection of convention speakers for next week — she has packed the stage with family members of criminals shot by police.

At the Republican Convention

Thousands of special agents from other agencies have descended on Cleveland to coddle the protesters ar the Republicans’ National Convention. Their briefing from the Secret Service was eye-opening. A great deal of intelligence preparation had been done, and the officials had their eyes on specific malefactors to make sure they didn’t factor their mal in this time and this place.

In case of riot, one of their agencies was tasked to provide thousands of gas masks. Some literal-minded equipment manager duly delivered what looked like the agency’s entire stock of masks.

No filters.

The whereabouts of the filters are unknown, but they may be in Philadelphia, where thousands of agents will be converging to coddle the protesters at the Democrats’ National Convention. We recommend cardboard boxes, duct tape, and watching Apollo 13. 

Burger Bites Burglar Back

OK, he wasn’t really a burglar, but we couldn’t resist that slightly inaccurate headline: he was a bank robber. Fleeing a crime, he threw something from a car. The cops, hoping for a gun, were upset to find a half-eaten burger instead.

But then some bright spark thought: did he leave DNA on the burger? He did, giving the embattled (and long misled) Chicago PD a well-earned win. Burger Boy and his accomplice are now enjoying an all expenses paid vacation from crime on the Illinois’ taxpayers’ tab.

We bet he doesn’t like the food any better where he is now. Life is tough; it’s tougher when you’re stupid.

Guess Who This Perv Works for?

Perv:

Nicholas Fernandez, 29, was arrested on a charge of voyeurism Tuesday, Seattle police said in an arrest report. The incident occurred on an escalator, and not in a security line.

Fernandez …[followed] a woman up an escalator, where he activated a cell phone flashlight and appeared to take video of the woman

Employer? TSA. Naturally. No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever. As the story reminds us:

Last year, the TSA fired two employees at Denver’s airport after the agency alleged they were involved in the groping of male passengers in a security line.

The employees were not identified and no criminal charged were filed.

Yep, for once TSA protected someone’s privacy: the pervs’. Figures.

Who Else has Committed This Heinous Misdeed?

jessicaregerThis grinning crook (she actually has a long rap sheet) is Jessica Reger, who was busted in Pennsylvania for… well, let’s let The Smoking Gun tell it.

Jessica Marie Reger, 29, was arrested last week and charged with endangering the welfare of her children, ages three and five. Driver Ilena Blackburn, 28, was charged with reckless endangerment and improper child-restraint system counts.

What’d she do?

According to a criminal complaint, Reger was spotted last Sunday night putting her children in the Corvette’s trunk near her home in Hanover, a York County borough. Blackburn and Reger then drove away, but were subsequently pulled over by police responding to a 911 call.

After a cop directed Blackburn to open the car’s trunk, Reger’s children were discovered inside. Officer Andrew Richey noted that the vehicle’s license plate was “RD HOTT1.”

Anybody else given a kid a ride under a Corvette’s bubble? Hell, anyone else been the kid? How about the “way back” of a station wagon, back in the day?

It’s nice to know that crime has been zeroed out in PA, and the cops can concern themselves with parenting. (Judging from the grin and the ink, Ms Reger is Bat Guano Crazy®, but that’s not against the law).

“Green Fuel” Scams Exposed. IRS Penalizes… Guy Who Exposed ’em.

This is one of those things where you have to Read The Whole Thing™. But here’s a bit:

Henck thinks the IRS is retaliating for his decision to publicly question one of the agency’s policies. That policy concerned refundable biofuels tax credits, created to foster new technologies but which ended up being claimed by big paper companies that had been burning a pulping byproduct known as black liquor since the 1930s.

Defying normal practice, the IRS did not issue written guidance at first and did not oppose the paper companies’ claims. Congress did not act either. As a result, the paper companies, which were losing money during the 2009 financial crisis, ended up receiving $8 billion or more in direct payments from the Treasury. The Post published several articles on the subject. Many tax experts, including Martin Sullivan, a former Treasury official and chief economist of the nonprofit group Tax Analysts, condemned the black liquor credits. …

This is not Henck’s first brush with his superiors at IRS. In 2003, he went to the Wall Street Journal to protest the IRS’s failure to treat synthetic fuels cases as tax shelters that would cost the government billions of dollars. He alleged the IRS allowed companies to spray “Elmer’s glue” on ordinary coal to make it look like a synthetic fuel. …

We don’t think there’s a single “green” anything that’s on the level. It’s all scams, all the way down, and the taxpayers are left holding the bag. By the very IRS that enabled these paper companies to walk away with $8 billion of the money they lift from those same taxpayers.

 The Perils of Kathleen: Continued

This is our ongoing series where we examine the ongoing meltdown of the paranoid, vengeful and extremely anti-gun Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

Munich Attacks

CNN is reporting the attacker(s?) shouted allahu akbar and targeted children. Behold the glory of the worship of Mohammed.

President to tell us the motivations of the assailants are unknown in 5… 4… 3…

What was it another politician said? Something about how this doesn’t represent Islam.

We do, however, note that early media are almost always wrong in cases like this.

Snowden Demonstrates: How to Authenticate a Leak

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

Committee Chair Gives Up on Bob McDonald

VA-veterans-affairsBob McDonald, originally appointed to straighten out VA, was quickly “institutionalized,” and realized his real constituency was the VA’s employees, not veterans. But he’s lost some of his early supporters, including the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Military Times:

“I think the next secretary, whoever that is, has got to be an agent of change, somebody that will resist the call from within the department to maintain the status quo,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said during an interview with Military Times at the Republican convention in Cleveland. “And I think, unfortunately, the status quo in many instances remains.”

Usually, the fish rots from the head. In this case, the fish spread its rot to a fresh head. You really don’t want “Well, he wasn’t as bad as Shinseki” as your Washington epitaph. Miller, though, noted that McDonald probably doesn’t want to stay on as VA head: coming from the private sector, he took the job with no clear grasp of how entrenched the dysfunction is in the VA.

If No One Answers the Crisis Line, is there Really a Crisis?

This should have been corrected by now, because it dates to the last days of last month — three weeks ago. Still, we haven’t heard one way or the other. Military Times:

Four months after Veterans Affairs officials announced leadership changes at the agency’s suicide hotline — and praised employees following a scandal over dropped calls — the line’s director has resigned and some staff members still answer as few as one call a day.

Documents obtained by Military Times indicate that Veterans Crisis Line Director Gregory Hughes, hired in January to lead the troubled call center after reports that callers were placed on hold or sent to a voicemail system, resigned effective June 17.

According to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday, 73 percent of calls made to the crisis line during a two-month period in 2015 were answered within the VA’s standard of 30 seconds …. But emails from Hughes to his staff in early May 2016 indicate that matters only got worse — roughly half the calls received at the Crisis Line rolled over to the backup centers because they weren’t answered within 30 seconds.

30 seconds is important, because then — if the wannabe suicide hasn’t hung up and kilt hisself in frustration — the calls are routed to outside contractors. Dunno. Can that be worse than the  VA?

VA Blew PTSD-Dog Study

According to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (paywalled, clumsily robo-paraphrased here) the VA was assigned to study the effectiveness of service dogs for PTSD-afflicted vets. Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the VA botched it.

Embattled Contractor TriWest Loses Alaska Vets Scheduling Gig

Privatizing VA functions tends not to work because the gigantic companies that bid on such contracts, grown fat and slow on government cash, tend to do a crappy job. Consider TriWest, which has received billions in VA handouts and botched scheduling for Alaska vets so badly that VA does it better in-house. And that’s with the Alaska office being run by lower-48 scheduling scandal figure Linda Boyle.

VA Appears to Encourage Disability Fraud

This depresses us. We’ve been seeing legitiamate, good vets corrupted by the system and going down that slippery slope where they claim mental health benefits because of the golden lure of disability money. We’ve always felt the VA makes getting disability for real injuries too difficult, and makes cashing in too easy for fakers. Now the WSJ has noticed. (Paywalled).

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to. 

We’re Changing Browsers

We have a new favorite browser, as of yesterday: Brave. It’s developed by a team led by Brendan Eich (the former CEO who was unpersoned at Mozilla for donating to the “wrong” cause). In the end, it looks like Eich was actually liberated by the firing — not least, from Mozilla’s antediluvian codebase.

Best things about Brave?

  1. It’s wicked fast.
  2. It adblocks by default.
  3. Really, seriously, fast.
  4. It contains antitracking technology (a Stanford study found that half the time users opt out of invasive advertising cookies, the identity thieving ad leeches keep running them anyway.
  5. Privacy is engineered in, not ineptly grafted on (we’re looking at you, Firefox) or not even an option (Edge, Safari).
  6. Its speed is like suddenly getting a faster internet.
  7. It works with everything we’ve thrown at it, with one exception (there doesn’t seem to be any way to use the Press This add-on for WordPress, which dings our workflow a little).
  8. One of the devs’ on-site picture shows him flying an experimental plane! Another brother!
  9. Opera was just bought by the Chinese MSS unidentified Chinese investors (wink).
  10. Did we mention the speed? We really meant to say something about the speed.

Even the lion icon is cool.

In Pursuit of the Complete Set

If you’re a collector you, as the TV ads promising toys in your cereal once exhorted you, “Collect ’em all!”  Or you die trying. As a GEICO ad might say, that’s what you do.

Most every collector has a spouse, friend, or parent who just doesn’t get it. You may have had this conversation, or something very close to it, with that person:

SENSIBLE SPOUSE: “What, another one?”
RABID COLLECTOR: “This one is special. I’ve been looking for it for a long time.”SENSIBLE SPOUSE: “It looks exactly like the one you got in May.”
RABID COLLECTOR: “No, that was the Belgian variant. They’re as common as Tuesdays. This one is the Danish one, and it’s very rare.”
SENSIBLE SPOUSE: “Does it speak Danish then? Let me answer that for you: ‘Not one word.’ Am I right, or am I right?”
RABID COLLECTOR (not going to take the bait and answer that directly): “It’s the rarity of the thing, and it’s place in history….”
SENSIBLE SPOUSE (beetling brows): “You paid [memorized exact figure] for the one in May. This must have cost a king’s ransom. How much?”
RABID COLLECTOR (trying to see if evasion will work): “Not that much really. I was below the low estimate for the auction!”
SENSIBLE SPOUSE (seeing through the dodge, and reddening with rage): “Oh, an auction. What are you, keeping up with the Kardozians? Do you think we’re made of money? I asked you nicely, how ^%#^$% much?!?
RABID COLLECTOR (maybe a lie will fly): “Only [some figure that strikes a balance between plausibility in view of SPOUSE’s eidetic recall of the last buy and the number considered de minimis in the family budget].”
SENSIBLE SPOUSE: “You’re lying, show me the receipt.”

We draw the curtain here, but you may rest assured (indeed, you may know from experience) that the tenor of the conversation seldom improves from this point: there are further depths of dissimulation and rage that must be plumbed before the whole Kabuki enterprise seeks its own equilibrium at last.

If you collect guns, the conventional wisdom is that you must also collect references. Indeed, the wise heads advise you to gather the references first. This wisdom was made conventional by many collectors who went about this in the exact reverse order, and were appalled to discover, on acquiring the references, how badly they’d botched the acquiring of the guns.

And if you’re a collector and writer, you build sets of references. A set of Small Arms Reviews.

sar_setFortunately, the publisher can supply binders to keep them neat.

A set of Gun Digests. These are very handy when you want to look at what’s on offer on the gun market, and how that market changes, longitudinally over time; and when particular models or options entered and exited the market. It’s also full of little enterprises that were born, lived and died without much notice, gun business equivalents of the cherry blossoms of Japanese poetry, each one a story with real people, real hopes, and real heartbreaks. The catalog nature of Gun Digest tends to dehumanize the businesses whose products are listed there, but we can’t help seeing them in human terms.

gun_digest_setYes, the shelves are on the messy side. We didn’t tidy anything up for its portrait. We have most issues from 1970 to present (some may be here and there around the office) and gradually backfill the earlier issues when they come up for sale at a reasonable price.

One of our frequent go-tos is our incomplete set of Waffen Revues. We discovered this in-depth quarterly while visiting Germany in 1974 and bought it regularly on every visit thereafter, and while living there 1985-87.

waffen_revue_setOur best sources for fills (and we still need some) are eBay and Deutsches Waffen Journal, which took over the closed magazine (but not the associated Karl L. Pawlas archives, which we understand were auctioned piecemeal).

motz_and_schuy_austrian_pistolsDWJ has both original back numbers, and, where those are exhausted, reprints; they also sell gun books, like the incredibly in-depth Mötz and Schüy three-volume study of Austrian pistols (right), and they have a great deal on shipping. Postage for $400 worth of books and Waffen Revues was €9.95. The website is all in German, of course — like the books.

If there’s enough demand for it, we’ll publish an English guide to ordering from DWJ. It is a very convenient way to order popular German, Austrian and Swiss gun books, even if you are flummoxed by the Awful German Language.

The books include common English-language gun collector books (and German translations thereof!), but also include lots of novel research by European experts on not only German-speaking nations’ arms but all of the world’s. For instance, Wolfgang Michel’s books on SOE weapons and British silenced weapons are compact but excellent and well illustrated. And we were amused to see this book by Markus Gärtner: Lügen Presse: Wie uns die Massenmedien durch Fälschen, Verdrehen und Verschweigen manipulieren. In English, that title is: Lying Press: How the Mass Media Manipulate Us with Falsehood, Distortion and Silence. Sounds like an American problem has international legs.

The problem for us is this: having opened this door… we need the complete set.

 

Sound familiar?

OT: Carbon Fiber as… You Figure it Out, We Give Up

carbon fiberWe take great pride in being Smarter Than The Average Bear™, even though, we didn’t do anything personally to get that way, unless we selected our parents pre-consciousness.

But we’ll be damned if we can figure out what a typically confused University of London academic with a typically hyphenated name (it was Anna Flakey-Goofy or something like that) wrote in a typically abstruse paper that seems to be some kind of feminist analysis of carbon fiber by and for the hard-of-thinking.

Flakey-Goofy writes (inline references deleted, because they’re probably just as foolish):

Contemporary cultural economies of carbon fibre are, in part, a late capitalist technology of hegemonic (or dominant) masculinity.

Apart from the fact that that is nearly meaningless word salad, lacking denotation as much as connotation, we have to say, “late capitalistm” whaaaa? Crap, did Brezhnev win and we’ve been in a coma since that bad PLF?

And what has carbon fibre got to do with masculinity? Apart, perhaps, from the fact that men invented it, but that scarcely sets it apart from any other advance in materials engineering in the last, oh, all recorded history. Maybe Flakey-Goofy can explain, so let’s give her enough rope to hang herself a fair fighting chance.

As a technology of hegemonic masculinity, carbon fibre extends the surfaces of bodies and produces masculinity on and across surfaces, male and female bodies.

We don’t know how she’s using carbon fiber, but it sure does look like she’s not doing it right. We found this remarkable paper a The Political Hat, where the blogger was almost as bemused as we were by this flaky, goofy paper by Anna Flakey-Goofy.

Yup, in the very first long-winded paragraph, the author comes right out and says that carbon fiber is a tool to oppress the feminine.  But we are living in an age where the hot topic is intersectionalism, so of course, masculine oppressiveness must be intersected with… disability.

Geez, that guy is using these words like they mean something to him. Does he need An Intervention? (Send Mat Best with a 12-pack and two actual women in bikinis?) Let’s see the quote he pulled from Flakey-Goofy:

Firstly, carbon fibre can be a site of the supersession of disability that is affected through masculinized technology. Disability can be ‘overcome’ through carbon fibre. Disability is often culturally coded as feminine.

via The Ultimate Tool of The Patriarchy? Carbon Fiber! | The Political Hat.

Lady, if you’re hiding under your bed because you’re scared witless of carbon fiber, a pretty neat (but decidedly inanimate and passive) structural material, you’re never going to write anything worth reading. (Which is not a risky prediction if one has read any part of her paper). Let’s look at an argument or two from her paper.

[T]hrough his carbon fibre prosthetic legs, [athlete and girlfriend-killer Oscar] Pistorius, who was popularly known as “blade runner,” became a cyborg who traversed culturally constructed, and indeed fictitious, boundaries between human and machine.

The boundaries between human and machine are fictitious? Because Pistorius ran with prostheses? Holy mackerel, what’s she going to say about our cardiac stents?

Does she know about Transformers? (The toys or the movies?). We better not tell her without checking with her therapist — her hold on reality seems rather tenuous.

Pistorius exemplifies the dominant cultural value of carbon fibre and predominant cultural constructions of disability in a way that holds everyday cultures in relief. Carbon fibre is masculinized as a way of dominating space; as a technology of all forms of frontier masculinity it can make vehicles or accessories that allow people to colonize spaces and better others.

For the love of all that is holy, Mizzzz Flakey-Goofy, carbon fiber is just stuff. Most anything you can make out of CF you can make out of nylon, or kevlar, or steel tube and sheet or aluminum alloy, if you work to the materials’ strengths.

But that’s just the cisgendered heteronormative cryptofascist in us coming out, innit?

To put this another way… culturally dominant (not numerically frequent, but popular) forms of masculinity are hegemonic, that such hegemonic masculinity is a way of controlling others. These forms of masculine embodiment are sold within capitalist economies as being desir- able. Disability is not usually seen as a way of dominating and controlling others, and this is one of a number of ways in which disability has been feminized.

You know, if you’re so Bat Guano Crazy® that you think you’re Napoleon, everywhere is fraught with the potential of Waterloo.

And we didn’t even get to her blue-nosed disapproval of homosocial relationships, which is her term for ordinary friendships with people of the same sex. Apparently she has so few of them as to see them as something bizarre and pathological. (If you want to know about it, do read the Political Hat link, because he did bruise his brain trying to follow Flakey-Goofy’s reasoning through the Habitrail of her mind, and his take on it is entertaining).

It’s amazing that someone this detached from reality isn’t safely ensconced in the Happy Home, doing the Thorazine  Shuffle from Finger-Painting Lab to afternoon Activities. But then, she is a professor or instructor at some university or other, which is tantamount to the same thing.

Origins of the BAR, Part I: Prelude

This post is loing to quote a single source, but that source is an authoritative one: Chinn’s The Machine Gun, volume I, pp. 173 et seq.

This BAR is a Colt R075 model.

This BAR is an interwar Colt R075 model.

At the US entry into World War I, the American forces were woefully ill-prepared in every way, but the machine gun shortage, of both quality and quantity, was staggering. War Department planners suggested 100,000 machine guns were needed. The Army had on hand 1,100, of which all but 282 Maxims — among the oldest guns in the inventory! — were obsolete types, the Benet-Mercié and the Colt 1895 “potato digger,” a John Browning design that the Army had acquired without ever actually adopting. (The Navy had adopted it, originally in 6mm… the Navy guns were later rebarreled for .30-40 and .30-06 in a rare example of early-20th-Century common sense in US Ordnance procurement).

This BAR is a 1918 that has been updated with some WWII parts (forend and trigger guard)

This BAR is an original 1918 that has been updated with some WWII parts (forearm, stock and trigger guard)

As Chinn explains it, almost any decision would have given the troops something they could use, but those in charge couldn’t decide what was needed, so the troops got nothing. Indecision is decision.

During this period of timidity and confusion before the war, John Moses Browning showed up in DC with two new designs to show off. One was a machine gun he had been working on since 1900; the other was what he called the Browning Machine Rifle. The Army loved both weapons on first demonstration, but couldn’t decide what to do about them. Thus, our ancestors arrived in April 1917 as participants in a war defined in large part by machine guns, and as completely disarmed of the beastly things as if the Board of Ordnance Officers had been pacifistic Quakers. Chinn:

In order for the United States to participate in the war with a semblance of machine gun armament, it was finally agreed, after still more debate, that until we had put into production something of our own design, our forces sent overseas would be armed with whatever the French had to offer. The arms sold us, as can easily be understood, were their second best.

This problem went far beyond machine guns, although that is Chinn’s natural focus. We were just as backward with airplanes, artillery pieces and tanks, and so we begged them from our Allies, mostly the French, who had excellent war industries by this time, but were running out of young men to operate the weapons after three years of purblind generalship.

Sometimes the French desire to send us second best worked to our benefit; French pilots didn’t care for the Nieuport 28 and SPAD airplanes, and our aviators did well by them. Returning to Chinn and machine guns, however:

The fact remains, regardless of how unpleasant it may be, that the country which originated and showed the world how to produce this deadly instrument actually entered the War with a most obsolete assortment of machine guns. They would have been more in keeping with the armament of the revolutionists in a banana republic then as weapons of soldiers representing one of the richest and most progressive nations on earth.

The typical French arms that came to the AEF were Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns and the CSRG machine rifle, the unloved Chauchat. If the two markers of French machine design, as seen on a 1930s Delage, a 1960s Citroën, or any aircraft from Avions Marcel Dassault, are beauty and quirkiness, these weapons only checked one of the boxes. Moreover, they posed an immediate and intractable logistical problem at all echelons from the AEF itself down to the squad:

The first French machine guns used to arm American troops were chambered for the Lebel 8mm rim-type cartridge, necessitating the issuing of two different types of cartridge by our supply department, one for machine gunners, another for riflemen. And as they invariably operated together as a unit, the logistics involved certainly should have given much aid and comfort to the enemy.

Enter our hero, John Moses Browning, of the Browning Brothers Armory of Utah. Early on, the brothers decided to specialize; Matt had a talent for business, he’d run that end of the shop. John was clearly the most creative inventor, so his portfolio was new designs. The other brothers had their own specialties, and by 1917, they were all old enough that their sons had brought their individual talents into the business.

During the prewar period of indecision,John M. Browning personally brought to Washington, D.C. for purposes of demonstration, two weapons, the heavy (water-cooled) machine gun and the machine rifle (to be known later as the B.A.R.). These were both chambered to take the standard Springfield rifle cartridge known throughout the service as the .30/06.

The BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) had been designed as an answer to the demand for “walking fire” —thought to be so necessary to the individual soldier in trench warfare. The rifle can either be fired single shot or be converted instantly to full automatic with a maximum rate of 480 shots per minute. It is gas actuated, air cooled and employs a 20-shot magazine that can be emptied in 2¼ seconds. The unloaded magazine can be detached and a fresh one put in its place in about the same length of time . Three orifices are on the gun to insure smooth functioning. The weapon’s seventy pieces can be completely disassembled and assembled in 55 seconds.

Now, about that “walking fire…”

The rifle is designed to be carried by the advancing infantryman with the sling over his shoulder,allowing the butt to be held firmly against the hip. When necessary to fire a burst, the safety switch is moved to “Automatic,” and as long as the trigger is held the weapon will continue firing.

At this point, Chinn describes the functioning cycle of the rifle. In the interests of brevity, we’ll skip that, and pick up at the demonstration.

The first public firing demonstration of the B.A.R. and the water-cooled machine gun took place on 27 February 1917 at a location outside the city limits of Washington, D. G. known as Congress Heights. It was witnessed by 300 people including men of high rank in our own military service, many Senators and Congressmen, members of the armed services from Great Britain, France, Belgium, and Italy, and representatives of the press. The latter wrote much about the exhibition. They gave a glowing account of the reliability and tremendous firepower of both weapons and painted verbal pictures in the local papers of how a hundred men advancing with these weapons firing full automatic would literally sweep an enemy out of the way. The only feature they seemed to forget was that though war, at this point, was practically inevitable, the superb weapons demonstrated were the only ones in existence and were a long way from mass production.

The successful exhibition at Congress Heights, however, did create an interest that encouraged Browning to continue personally to improve and function fire his water-cooled gun at the Colt plant until he was satisfied that it was ready for endurance trials. The Government had adopted the B.A.R. from its initial showing at Congress Heights, but felt that a machine gun of the water-cooled type should be tested more thoroughly because of the more rigorous treatment given this type of weapon. In May 1917 he brought his heavy water-cooled gun to the Government Proving Ground at Springfield Armory for an official test.

The thorough test was a thorough success, and the Army finally had its two designs to replace the stopgap French weapons — if they could be manufactured in quantity.

Following this excellent demonstration, the board of five Army officers and two civilians appointed by the Secretary of War to study the problem of machine gun supply recommended for immediate adoption the water-cooled Browning, pronouncing it and the previously accepted B.A.R. the “most effective guns of their type known to the members.”

Chinn judges that

The outstanding features were reliability and simplicity of design. The officers who demonstrated the weapons showed that it was possible for the operator, while blindfolded, to take them down and reassemble them in a matter of minutes. This was so impressive that all machine gun schools adopted the blindfold test as a “must” in their courses of instruction.

The easily constructed mechanism was a great selling point for the Government, as it appeared possible to get the weapons into mass production quickly. Nothing was more important at this critical stage.

To build a gun you must have a production line. To build a production line, you need tools, gages and especially drawings, and these take time to prepare. John M. Browning does not appear to have drawn a single technical, to-scale, dimensioned drawing of even one part of all of his many designs — he would go from an idea to cutting metal, possibly with the intermediate stage of a sketch drawn freehand on wrapping paper, like this one, which appears to be of BAR features. (From Chinn, p. 172).

john_m_browning_sketch

After the hasty adoption of the Browning automatic machine gun and the machine rifle, it was quite apparent that no single manufacturing plant was capable of taking care of the vast war need for these weapons. The Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Co., which had an exclusive concession to manufacture the weapons under the Browning patents,agreed to sell its rights to the Government. By July 1917 it delivered prepared gages and drawings that other companies could work from in producing the guns.

In July and August, 1917, American planners looked for facilities in which these new guns might be built, especially existing gunmakers who had fallow capacity. And that’s where we’ll pick up with Colonel Chinn tomorrow.

What’s Your Vocabulary Size?

Turns out, Hognose is kind of rich in the words department.

hognose_vocab_test

Who knew?

You can check it out yourself and see how you do:

http://www.arealme.com/vocabulary-size-test/en/

Hat tip, Vox Day, who’s up in the same neighborhood. (We don’t know if he’s Shakespeare, too, though; he cut off the bottom of his).

Vox uses his score to make a point, that vocabulary size is strongly correlated with Spearman’s G, or IQ. You’ll probably find (if you’re a native speaker of the language you test in) that the percentile this little test yields correlates closely with the percentiles of your SATs, your IQ scores if you know them, your ASVAB percentile and those of specific subtests like GT (General Technical), etc., etc., etc.

It would be nice if the characters running the site with the quiz did some stuff with the aggregate data.

It’s hard to agree with Day on everything, but we do find that those who tend to deny the reality of a single broad intelligence factor in general, or IQ in particular, tend to be insecure about their own scores. We have found the books he edits and Castalia House publishes entertaining & informative (which reminds us, we owe some reviews to you).

Intelligence is a ridiculous thing to be proud of, because in large part it is inherited from your parents, whom you probably didn’t choose. Like pride in inherited wealth, it’s a bit unseemly, isn’t it? But it does seem that taking pride in smarts is natural.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 27

This Tour d’Horizon comes naked into the world, like a newborn baby; its plaintive cries may draw your attention, at least until the 0600 post tomorrow.

This is where we throw a lot of our open tabs.

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

We Think This is As Rare As it Gets

Some time back, Ian at Forgotten Weapons did a pretty good video on a pair of 6.35mm Little Toms that were up for sale at Rock Island. (We didn’t bid because, like the French Knights, “We already got one.” We did bid on, and win, a 7.65mm one so now we already got two). The differences between what should be two identical auto pistols that Ian examines are fascinating. Even the trigger bows are different, although they’re both unmistakeably Little Toms.

We disagree with the way Ian describes the action. In our opinion, it’s a single-action/double-action pistol, because the hammer stays cocked after firing the first shot. What doesn’t happen is that the trigger doesn’t stay back, and while the weapon is cocked, it has a heck of a long take-up if you release the trigger fully between shots.

In any event, 6.35mm Little Toms are considered rare, 7.65 considered extremely rare, Czech-made ones almost impossibly rare, but we discovered recently that designer Alois Tomiška (a mildly peripatetic designer responsible for several other designs in Austria and Czechoslovakia) designed an earlier brother to the Little Tom in Vienna in 1908, and a larger service-pistol version that has a whiff of P.38 about it — before double-action was a gleam in Fritz Walther’s eye. Even to museum curators in Austria and the Czech Republic and advanced collectors, no examples at all of these two bookends to the story of Little Tom, the first double-action auto pistol, are believed to have survived.

The story of Alois Tomiška and his guns is a very tangled one, and we’re trying to groom it for the Czech and Czechoslovak Pistols book.

New Stock from X Products

Here’s a new stock, and a deal on it. If you wanted an HK or M231 style stock, which is currently the cat’s [bleep] on SBRs and PDWs, you might like this new one from X Products. Here’s the kit:

x-products-roc-rapid-operations-carbine-stock-ar-15-pdw-cqb-stock-dissasembled_0And here it is on a gun…

x-products-roc-rapid-operations-carbine-stock-ar-15-pdw-cqb-stock-on-sbr-rifle-collapsed_0(That pistol grip and the mag are X Products stuff, too).

And here’s what they say about it…

The X Products R.O.C. (Rapid Operation Carbine) Stock is the most adapted PDW stock design available in the smallest package. Ergonomic, easy to use and designed for a low profile, compact platform. The X Products ROC Stock set will fit on any Mil-Spec AR-15/M4 & HKMR556, HK 416 lower receiver. Tested and designed to be used with nearly ALL commercial and LE/Mil ammunition types. Easy to install and durable. Its 5 adjustment points give the shooter maximum versatility. To top it off, the R.O.C. Stock does NOT require a proprietary bolt carrier or special components. Use a true drop on PDW stock set solution for your HK 416C or AR/M4 PDW project. Made 100% in the USA.

We’re not sure what “most adapted” means in this context.It sure does look cool.

And here’s the deal:

Save 17% for the next three days (7/8 through 7/10). On the X Products website only.

We’re not sure whether the price marked on the website now ($289.95) is the 17% off deal, or whether 17% is applied when you check out.

Support the Dallas PD with Trick Glocks

You may remember some time ago when we went to Trick Glocks’ website, and it didn’t work for us? Not only did they fix the problem (their software rejected our hometown name), but they’re giving up any profit they make this weekend

All profits over this weekend will be donated to ATODallas.org. If you would like to make a donation, please visit this page and click on “Support ATO, Donate Now”.

Some of you may not be aware, but our office is located two blocks from the scene of these horrific crimes.

At the current time, our shipping may be impacted until Downtown Dallas streets have been opened back to the public. We are unsure how shipping will be affected, but feel that this situation is more important than a 1-day shipping delay.

ATO stands for “Assist The Officer.” It’s a charity run by Dallas cops (active and retired) for Dallas cops, their families, and, when needed, their survivors. There is a list of Dallas’s fallen cops on the page. It’s a hell of a long list.

And it doesn’t even have the new names on it yet.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way.

Responding to a Home Invader…

This guy did it without any of his guns. Bad guy is the bearded mook in the plaid hoodie; good guy is the clean-shaven thin kid with specs, wearing a light t-shirt. What do you do? (Note: no actual sound on the track, just a canned reggae track. Might wanna reach for the mute button).

He didn’t want to shoot him, so he beat him down and held him for the cops. It worked out well  in this case, but what if the mook was armed?

Was the defender overconfident?

He’s a vet, a paratrooper. Was that a factor?

Self Defense with an Armload of Baby

Talk about a compromising situation. This looks like it might be in Brazil to me. In any event, the defender is bounced by an armed robber as he’s opening the door after arriving home. He’s in about a worst-case scenario for self-defense: baby in his strong arm, his wife a few feet away, and the contact man of a 3-man rip crew all up in his grill.

But he’s armed. John Correia of Active Self Protection (great channel on Yoot Tube by the way) may look like he’s part Wookiee, but he analyzes video like this well.

In case you were wondering, the baby’s OK.

Bet you never ran an IPSC stage with a baby on your arm! Or did live baby live fires, either.

Cops ‘n’ Crims ALL NEW

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Black Criminals’ Lives Matter

As we were saying to our meatworld acquaintances, the Minnesota shooting looked really bad, but “initial stories are always wrong.” It’s now looking like he did have a gun, he did have a criminal record, and he didn’t have a permit after all.

Doesn’t mean the shooting was righteous, but it does mean the initial reporting was, as always, reckless, mendacious, and designed to drive outrage. It did, indeed, bring thousands of protesters out — and at least four cop-killers or wannabees (in Dallas; Ballwin, Tennessee; Georgia; and, St. Louis).

To the press, all the world is the Jerry Springer Show, and they’re never happier than when they’ve baited the ignorant tribals into a gory battle.

Let’s Dive the Depths of Human Depravity

cage under tarpSee this? It’s a tent or a tarp, over a cage. A cage a young woman was kept in by a gang of Louisiana inbreds.

Investigators found the woman wandering around the backyard covered with insect bites and looking malnourished, according to the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff.

She was often locked into the kennel-like crate, blanketed by a tarp, to keep her from wandering away before she was rescued on June 30.

She was autistic. But the Knope family didn’t plan to keep her crated like an unloved dog forever. They had plans for her.

Two men and three women in Louisiana held an autistic 22-year-old woman in a cage and planned to use her as a prostitute, authorities say.

Instead, she’s in the custody of the state (which has a 50-50 chance of treating her better) and, come to think of it, so are various Knopes and Lamberts.

The Last Tweet of a Murdered Cop

Patrick Zamarippa was a three-tour Iraq veteran.

No Cops for You, Donald Trump

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a Democrat who’s backing Hillary Clinton for President, reacted viscerally when he heard Donald Trump, Clinton’s opponent, wanted to speak to NYPD officers at roll call. Bratton stomped on the suggestion — hard.

From Bratton’s point of view, Clinton is a much stronger ally of law enforcement. After all, she’s just been pronounced Too Big to Jail® by the Director of the FBI!

The Perils of Kathleen: Continued

This is our ongoing series where we examine the ongoing meltdown of the paranoid, vengeful and extremely anti-gun Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane.

  • We Actually Had Stuff. But we didn’t have time to post it. We’ll have to pile on next week.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

Someone is Spying on TOR

Gee. We’re totally, totally shocked that a communications system funded in large part by US DOD dollars is full of Peeping Toms. Bruce Schneier’s take.   The two Northeastern University researchers who discovered this, tease a conference talk with an abstract of their discovery and methodology. Vice has a well-reported article on the research, in which the Tor Project reveals that they, too, have found malicious directory nodes of the sort  the researchers say they found.

Is There Anything Science Can’t Tell Us?

Neanderthal bonesCavemen were cannibals, it says here (Scientific Reports). Neanderthals butchered and ate each other.

The pictures on the right are of human femurs with cut marks and percussion damage from butchering and marrow extraction.

Who knew Soylent Green had such a long history?

But really, cannibal cavemen? Nonsense. Why, they were carefree souls, living in harmony with Nature.

What will they be telling us next? Indians scalped people?

(And why is this in “warfare”? Well, who were the dine-ees, if not the guys who lost the fight with the diners?)

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

Nada.

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to. 

Scientists Who Experiment on Brains Say, “Don’t Experiment on your Brain.”

Apparently the root of the problem is that you are not a Trained Professional®.

The growing trend of “do-it-yourself” transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) poses hidden risks to healthy members of the public who seek to use the technique for cognitive enhancement. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, along with several members of the (cognitive) neuroscience research community warn about such risks involved in home use of tDCS, the application of electrical current to the brain. Their Open Letter will appear in the July 7th issue of Annals of Neurology.

So let’s see if we’ve got this straight: scientists who fry volunteers’ brains (or if their university has a research relationship with China, prisoners’ brains) with electricity, warn kids, “Professional Scientist and Third-Party Brain. Do Not Attempt.”

So if you want your brain fried, the neuroscientists’ union says you gotta pay a card-carrying neuroscientist to do it.