Category Archives: Administrivia

A quick bleg… Newsweek story

Ladies and gents,

We want to compare a new Jeff Stein story at Newsweek that we’re hearing about, to some older information we have handy on MAC-SOG’s failed long-duration penetration agent programs in the Vietnam War.

Screenshot 2015-05-03 09.39.44

(There’s an excellent book by Sedgewick Tourison out there already, and we have some other, less widely-published stuff in the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library). Stein is a serious writer and researcher who formerly wrote for more upscale outlets (Washington Post, CQ Politics, and did a number of pieces for And Magazine including a character assassination of Marty Martin, whom we knew circa 1979 before he joined the agency) and it makes us wonder if he has something more, but we’re walled out of Beastweek. Link:

http://www.newsweek.com/vietnam-cia-40th-anniversary-327033

If someone could be so kind as to squirt us the text of Stein’s report, we’ll compare it to Wick’s book and the other stuff we have, and see if there’s anything new there, or if it’s just the well-known case of Team Ares (despite the name, a singleton named Pham Chuyen), repackaged in Beastweek gloss and glitter.

hognose@networkimpossible.com (that email’s good for anything else you want to send, please tag it WeaponsMan in the subject).

Oh yeah — hat tip. In this case, Mike Vanderboegh.

UPDATE

Call off the dogs! I have the story. Thanks to the reader (and friend) who was first to hit me with it.

Interesting in that Stein quotes Wick as saying something other than what Wick concluded years ago. There’s actually nothing new in the Pham Chuyen story.

Sunday Spring! Spring! Spring!

Spring is here, finally. The first tulip bloomed, although the rest of the usual April early blooms have yet to show their faces. The flox is usually flowering now, and it’s not even green. On the other hand, dandelions seem to be out in force, now that we got most of the oak leaves up. A late spring is bad news because it means a late leaf drop in the fall…

Spring activities include reorganizing the office and shop for some New Stuff, starting up some new contracts in the Day Jobs, and perhaps sneaking out to the Biddeford, Maine Gun Show today.

Making room for a 3D printer. We don’t envision doing gun parts on this, but some aerospace and electronics stuff for our DOD clients. If we get around to doing something that suits the blog, we’ll show it off here.

We also have to make room for the Ghost Gunner which is going to arrive sooner or later.

We also have a new (to us) Graco HVLP turbine sprayer to prime airplane parts with, which should accelerate the process a tad. The same outfit that gave us a good deal on the sprayer, sold us two leather-topped mahogany hotel desks for $10 each so that ups our game on the fine-assembly wall of the shop considerably — yep, they’re the new light-gunsmithing bench. We’re going to hang some LED lights over them. But we have to seriously thin the herd of junk in our basement, garage, and outbuildings.

We’re also cleaning up the ’96 Impala SS for sale. Thanks to a mower shed, we can actually put cars in all the stalls of the garage, unlike most folks we know… but we have four cars (well, five, but one is in perma-restoration) and only three stalls, so something’s gotta go, and the Cop Car With Better Seats is elected. It’s got almost 95k miles, which is pushing it for any non-truck GM product. We’ll wash it, get it detailed, and then Craigslist it.

UPDATE

At the Biddeford show met some interesting characters, including a fellow SOA member who’s one of the originals — a CCN vet, 1968. He was collecting for the SOA scholarship fund, and we did our bit. Of course, any time two guys “claiming SF” meet, there’s a certain amount of circling and eyeing before you start talking, and we had to do all the secret handshakes. Because wedidn’t get there till noon on Sunday, didn’t have time to see everything, but saw a nice Vector SBR version of the MP5 for reasonable money, and should have bought ammo for the Big Box o’ Euro Pistols that came in from Rock Island Auctions in April. The SS ran like the highway hellhound it is. It will be missed. But it’s the one left without a garage stall when the music stopped.

Sunday Spelling

concentrate-hard-and-learn-your-spellings_1Spellng? Yes. Spelling. We’re taking this Sunday morning as a flimsy excuse to go off topic and off the reservation, and say a few words about the utility of proper English orthography and such ancillary arts as grammar and composition. Which are actually three different things, but they have one thing in common: young people are not learning them.

Whether you blame video games, unionized teachers, indulgent parents, tee ball and participation trophies, or the temper of the times, if you have any exposure to today’s teens and twenty-somethings you have had more examples of horrid English language expression before you than you care to remember.

The event that occasioned these thoughts was a recent entrepreneurship competition, in which your humble blogger was one of a panel of judges. It goes like this:

  1. Undergraduates at a small state university, which caters to lower-middle-class strivers (often the first in their family’s entire history to attend college), take a single course in entrepreneurship, which is quite new.
  2. The class is taught by two smart professors, who do not have a business background. (One of them is one of the most natively-intelligent people I’ve ever met, I think).
  3. The students come up with an idea if they can, and present it to a panel of judges and to the non-voting retired CEO who initially sponsored the contest, first by writing and then in a personal presentation.
  4. The judges score the students’ planned businesses on several axes: Idea (originality/scalability, etc); Viability (Practicality, likely ROI, etc); Research (did they do their homework on market, competition, financials?); and, Presentation (did it “pop”? Do they think on their feet? Etc.).
  5. Four cash prizes are awarded. All entrepreneur cubs get an encouraging call from the CEO. The judges (themselves all business people with startup experience) and the professors put their heads together on how it can be better next time. Rinse and repeat.

We were ill-prepared this year, and discovered on the morning of that we’d left key parts of business dress 1,500 miles from home at Hogney World. So an old pair of never-worn almost dressy dark-soled Topsiders were found in the closet and the other missing items were bought when stores opened. The shoes were a matter of trepidation — it’s hard to find things you can stuff 9EEEE paddle feet into without problems, and usually we stick to Clark for dress and New Balance for casual — but they worked fine.

Some may blame the public schools...

Some may blame the public schools… er, wait, what schools?

But the written presentations — Gah, what a collection of disasters. In our draft of this post we originally put a couple of samples here, but we took them out lest we crush the poor little dears when they stumble upon their own words — the Intertubes may not be forever, but so far that they bid fair to outlast Ozymandias’s statuary. Suffice it to say that spelling, verb-subject agreement, pronoun use, paragraphing, capitalization, everything involved in effective written communication was as wrong as a pedophile’s picture album.

Although for the record, it was not this university.

Although for the record, it was not this university.

None of these young folk’s works was really good, although there were some gradations of awful. They were like the Five Lee Sisters: Ug, Home, Ghast, Beast and Gnar. Not one but two packets suffered from an absolutely gobsmacking deficiency: the spelling or the name of the business itself was not consistent internally in the document. As it was, it was sad.

One of the best-written presentations of an idea, which was still substandard, came from a young man who’s not a native English speaker. That’s twice as sad.

And the ideas? For a contest intended to produce the next big idea, they were… small. The best presented of all was an idea for a food truck. Not a food truck franchising operation: One. Food. Truck. A couple more were clear attempts at turning hobbies into employment.

Some blame the general decline in the culture....

Some blame the general decline in the culture….

On the plus side, there weren’t any apps this year. Last year everybody had an app… but their spelling was better.

We mentioned this to the profs and to the administrators at the U (there’s one gal in administration who’s key to this whole event happening, a vital connector between the business and admin world). And the profs told us, in some despair, that, “That’s the way kids are today.” Sheesh. But they’re telling the truth; one of them has tried to enforce some kind of spelling and grammar on her undergraduates, and has been savaged for it on RateMyProfessors.com.

And others keep returning to the baleful influence of education bureaucrats...

And others keep returning to the baleful influence of education bureaucrats…

The judges normally have a conference call to shortlist the packets for presentation. If we were grading these the way VCs would, they’d all go to the shredder unanswered: they were that bad. On the other hand, these were undergraduates. We also remembered that, in the past, there wasn’t a strong correlation between the quality of the written packet and the quality of the presentation. So on all eight of them went to present in an auditorium on campus, in front of a shark tank of real entrepreneurs.

Of course, however bad your spelling error, it could be worse. You could be this guy.

Of course, however bad your spelling error, it could be worse. You could be this guy.

Fortunately, the oral presentations were all stronger than the writtens. And, perhaps because of the efforts of those hard-working professors,  their presentation slides had been purged of any typos or misspellings, and everybody’s business naming was consistent.

Well, the purpose of a University is education, isn’t it? Perhaps we’re helping. But Great Googly Moogly, those written presentations.

Monday, we’ll be back to the usual topics. Later today, we’ll post and backdate a Saturday Matinee (yeah, we said that last week, but only had time to watch half the movie. We suppose we could review them without watching them, like the guy at The New Republic. But we figure you guys deserve a higher level of discourse than that).

UPDATE

It has nothing to do with spelling, but the frustration of this Texas A&M branch campus professor is just one more indicator of the college bubble. Our neighbor’s two sweet, pretty young graduate daughters who are absolutely unemployable with degrees in womens’ studies and nonprofit management is another such sign.

Sunday Satisfaction

We’re dictating this post, because we’re back at home after a roughly 1500-mile one-wy journey, with Small Dog in our arms making displays of doggish affection.

The Mash House promotes this sentiment

The Mash House promotes this sentiment. Who could disagree?

We met a longtime net friend face to face in Fayetteville and found that the friendship there was not simply electronic, over a couple of sociables at The Mash House (highly recommended when you’re in town, and it was helpfully in staggering distance of my usual hotels, not that two beers — their Munich Helles is quite authentic, by the way — induces staggering even in our normally judicious person).

Fayetteville is a company town in a way that even Goodyear, Arizona is not any more. Even the brewmaster at the Mash House is an Army vet.

We also stopped in NoVa to meet an old friend going back to 10th MI Company days. (He showed up in that unit to be one of the insane CI guys, just before your humble host left for SFQC, and we’ve been firm and fast friends, united by a love of books, languages, and ideas, ever since. He and his wife are raising two high-energy bilingual boys). We RON’d there and in the morning got a tour of a unique gun collection (with some interesting pieces likely to feature here shortly, if the pictures are OK).

To our amazement, the snow, which was still following when we flew out 9 April, is gone. Those We Left Behind say the last of it went two days ago. And what we’ve now come back to is a lawn that does look, as we feared, like No Mans Land in World War I, minus only the body parts and  mortally wounded mules and that sort of thing. But they could be there, in the mud.

So some part of today will be spent walking over the manor grounds, maybe putting the fountain back in operation, maybe cutting down some saplings or cutting back the raspberry bushes, maybe checking the mower out and hoovering up some leaves.

And some part of it will be spent, perhaps, taking Kid on an adventure of his choosing, either to the range (always a favorite) or to the airport to talk about flying lessons (in 2015, he’ll be 16 and first eligible to solo a powered aircraft).

And yet a third small part of it will be spent, we hope, on putting up a Saturday Matinee due yesterday. The best-laid plans of doing movie reviews whilst on the road died in the space where a disc crawls inside an Apple superdrive to die, and we now have to find the forgotten BSD commands for ejecting the beastly thing from the command line. (Yes, a button or even the industry-standard pinhole would violate Apple’s all-powerful design language, so one is SOL when the firm’s increasingly neglected, jury-rigged OS software fails. Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, not even close, and “Doesn’t suck as bad as Windows 8″ is too-low a bar to set).

Tomorrow is soon enough for things like thinning the herd of cars here (five is two too many) and starting to deal with the winter’s damage to the house (light fixtures destroyed by a storm, roof leak, gutters wiped out by icefalls). Today is a day to enjoy being home at last.

Sunday Snoring

And that’s probably what ol’ Nez de Porco will be doing as this post autoposts.

We finally installed the “Yosemite” version of MacOS. Mistake. it’s a murderer of productivity, at least for a blogger. It’s full of all the usual Apple chachkas and geegaws — the equivalent of the crapware that ships on a $400 Lenovo disposable PC — and seems to be made for ADHD sufferers with no jobs or need to get work done.

For example, it tries to force you to share your data with Apple’s iCloud, and not incidentally, NSA. ETA: it’s worse that we thought. See hereThe goddamn thing actually sends every search term you use — and not just searching the net, searching your own hard drives — to Apple and to nsa.gov, Tim Cook’s silent managing partner.

For another, there’s some force-fed Calendar Agent crapware that pops up dialog boxes every few minutes — in front of all applications — three and four at a time.

Anyway, it looks like we may be off Macs for the first time since 1986. Not looking forward to configuring BSD or Linux again. But we need a working and trustworthy computer to blog, and OSX 10.10 is not it.

Administrivia: ‘Haxo Angmark’ is Banned. Again. For Good This Time.

SledgehammerThe pseudonymous commenter Haxo Angmark, formerly Wise Cave Owl, formerly Stuka Pilot, is banned here, for the third and final time. We haven’t deleted his old posts but we’ve deleted all the ones he’s attempted since midnight.

We’re not even sure what it was but something in this morning’s comments, which were the usual mix of substantive discussion and snide neo-nazi or conspiracy-theorist bile, made us decide that we’re weary beyond words of him crapping in the pool. To Haxo: Go crap in somebody else’s pool, you’re not wanted here. Ever again. Go back to Stormfront, whence you came, or whatever unholy font spawned you.

When this blog went up, we were warned that we would have a poor S/N  ratio in the comments, that we needed to have the ban hammer ready, and that we should only accept real names because of, well, the persistence of trolls. We never wound up enforcing that original “real name” requirement because from the very first, anonymous and pseudonymous commenters added valuable discussion to the site.

We think it says something about the actual incidence of trolls that, in over three years and nearly 18,000 accepted comments, we’ve had to ban-hammer exactly one guy who couldn’t activate his brain before running his mouth on this site. And it says something about the persistence of trolls that we’ve had to ban him three times.

So far. No doubt he’ll be back again. A leper doesn’t change his spots, right? But we’ll try to cut him off a-spawning next time.

We would like to express our regrets to all the rest of you commenters, who have had to read this guy’s occasionally bilious stuff.

To you, we are humbly grateful that you honor our humble web home with your presence, knowledge and ideas. You guys never let us get away with an error. Information from the comments has extended and expanded our knowledge tremendously, always turning us on to new sites and new ideas.

So, to all of you but one, thank you for commenting.

CORRECTION: ICE Bosses Deny Shooting for S&W

This morning’s story created quite a stir in ICE, both in the field offices and at headquarters. In the headquarters our little story apparently alarmed an organization called OFTP, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs. OFTP used to be called NFTTU, and some ICEmen still refer to it by the old acronym.

Anyway, it’s OFTP that wrote the specs for a new handgun. And insiders say that we were totally wrong — not about whether they had written the contract with one particular gun in mind; a cursory read of the specs makes it pretty clear they did just that. Nope, we were wrong about exactly what handgun they were trying to buy.

OFTP wrote they spec, so they thought, to explicitly exclude everything but the SIG P320 Compact.

The SIG P320 family. The compact is the "Goldilocks" midsize -- about the same size as a G19.

The SIG P320 family. The P320 Compact is the “Goldilocks” midsize — about the same size as a G19. (The smallest is called the P320 Carry).

Some in ICE are in deep denial about that. They remember the fiasco with the SIG 250, SIG’s previous modular polymer pistol. They have fought NFTTU, which also specifies which personal off-duty pistols ICE agents are able to use. Any agent may carry a pistol from an approved list, but he or she must qualify with the pistol, and can only be authorized to carry two firearms. The qualified pistol list is strange: for example, the Glock 26 and Glock 17, compact and full-size 9mm pistols, are authorized, but the intermediate Glock 19 isn’t; fullsized Glocks are OK in .40 but the compact G27 is verboten. Why? No one has gotten a credible answer out of OFTP or its forerunner. Agents who prefer Glock pistols have long suspected NFTTU/OFTP of bias against the Austrian sidearm. OFTP insiders deny this, and claim that the new solicitation doesn’t exclude Glock.

“But it requires an ambidextrous slide release, which no Glock has.”

“Glock could make one.”

Whether that is possible for a company that’s already introduced several new models in the last year is an open question, as is whether it would be economical. (Beretta could tell you how lucrative it isn’t, making a new version of lockwork when a single client holds its breath until it turns blue). Glock has modified its weapons for a single customer in the past, but NYPD was a large customer with some 40,000 armed officers at the time. All ICE is probably a max of 12,000 gun carriers, split roughly evenly between HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations).

The interchangeable grip frames are possible because the trigger mechanism is the legal, serialized "firearm," a feature pioneered on the SIG 250. Absence of a hammer reveals this to be a 320 part.

The interchangeable grip frames are possible because the trigger mechanism is the legal, serialized “firearm,” a feature pioneered on the hammer-fired SIG 250. Absence of a hammer reveals this to be a striker-fired 320 part.

Another weird thing in the solicitation is this: when the competitors provide test guns, they also have to provide magazines. So far, nothing abnormal there, right? But they have to provide, we are not making this up, fifty-two (52!) magazines per pistol. We don’t think we could find 52 mags for any single make and model of pistol around here. We might have 30 or 40 M9 mags, but that would require us to shake out 30 years of rucksacks, ammo pouches, vests, and duffle bags. What earthly goal can one accomplish with as many pistol magazines as cards come in a deck?

UPDATE: Correction to the Correction

The only ICE employees authorized to carry the Glock .40 are members of the Federal Protective Service. FPS was consolidated into ICE after adopting the Glock 22, and so they’re grandfathered. However HSI and ERO agents can’t carry the G22, only 9mm Glocks. We regret not making this clear initially.

UPDATE 2: OFTP’s justification for not approving the G19 is that it supposedly failed an endurance test that the 17 and 26 did.

UPDATE 3: This issue is being discussed on the HSI SA’s forum on Delphi. Note that that is their sandbox and so we don’t usually go there to play. They are

Sunday Slippage

Yeah, uh, when we sat down at this computer we were going to write a quick Sunday post.

But we had a movie review, overdue from yesterday (and a production, actually, recommended by one of our commenters, so thank you, belatedly). And this happened and that happened and there was a plane building session and a grocery run and an exercise bike to fix and…

Well, it’s not as if we’d have said anything profound in this post if it had been up on time first thing in the morning, n’est-ce pas? 

It’s Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Noon will have to do.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 13

That was the week that was TW3The practice of posting That Was The Week That Was, an overview of the recently ended week, has tapered off here, as this kind of admin post is one of the least exciting to do. However, it’s a great way to call retroactive attention down on posts that might have been missed.

This is a truncated version of TW3, just to get the facts and posts up there (although, this will be posted late).

We really need to update our TW3 girl.

Here’s the basic stats:

posts 23
words 14597
mean 748
median 580
comments 257

Most of these are up from last week’s numbers (not yet posted, either) as we recover from some forced time off for family reasons. Thank you for all the comments, every one is read

And these are this week’s posts in brief:

We told you we’d be brief! See you next week with the numbers & posts again.

Gone Shooting!

Trying out a new range. It’s an hour plus away, but it’s supposed to be good. Kid and I have three objectives, well four objectives:

  1. Check it out. Do we want to join?
  2. Test fire the lower that he built. Does it function with live ammo?
  3. Test fire the Afghan build M4 and maybe zero the iron sights.
  4. Blast away with an M9 for sheer shits and grins.

Talk at you later.