Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Bubba “Mills” an 80% Lower

The Continuing Adventures of Bubba the Gunsmite have taken a new direction, towards home manufacture of the venerable AR-15. To Bubba’s surprise, it did not work.

Bubbas 80-percenter

Bubba does spend an inordinate amount of time at his gun smiting bench in a state of surprise.

That’s one to challenge the Association of Firearms Toolmarks Examiners. Identify that dog’s breakfast. If you can.

Possible reasons for this outcome:

  1. It’s Bubba. Say no more.
  2. Made in Colorado, where standard capacity mags are banned, but operating metal-cutting machinery while stoned out of your gourd is perfectly legal.
  3. Bubba was fibbing when he compared his hands’ grip to a vise.
  4. Al alloy + Judgment Juice™ +  drill press = this monstrosity.
  5. He took thalidomide whilst pregnant with an AR-15.
  6. New MA(ura) legal AR: no parts interchange with a real one, and it can’t shoot.
  7. This is the good one, you should have seen his first ten attempts.

Smart Diplomacy!

"Wait, wait, I've almost got it..."

“Wait, wait, I’ve almost got it…”

According to Foreign Policy, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Moscow to negotiate a military alliance with Russia. Objective: some Smart Diplomacy! to take on the campaign trail for their party in the fall.

Kerry, of the double-digit IQ, gigolo reputation and “Gentleman’s C-minus” education as a “legacy” at Yale, is a diplomat without historical peer. He was last involved in negotiating a pact to end Iranian nuclear ambitions, the secret terms of which are emerging to have been, (1) paying Iran approximately $150 billion and (2) accepting Iranian terror-sponsorship and hostage taking, in return for which Iran has redoubled their nuclear efforts under the Farsi banners of Marg bar Amrika and Marg bar Yahud, which probably don’t need translation to this erudite audience. Such a deal!

"Aw. Thought I had it. Those sneaky Iranians. I paid what for the rug?"

“Aw. Thought I had it. Those sneaky Iranians. I paid what for the rug?”

So now, off to Russia to try to cut a deal on Syria and perhaps, relations beyond that point. Since the US’s point of departure is that Boy Assad must go (leaving what? The Moslem Brotherhood President Obama and Secretaries Kerry and Clinton tried to install in Egypt? The terrorist-spawning vaccuum they’ve left behind in Libya, Syria and Iraq? The benign, no, malicious, neglect they’ve delivered to the AfPak region?), and the Russian position is that Assad must stay, where’s the point of compromise?

You heard it here first: the US folds. It’s all Kerry, a moral and intellectual zero, has ever known how to do.

The AP’s Bradley Klapper notes:

Russia would be getting what it wanted since it first intervened in Syria on Assad’s behalf last September — to be a leader in an international alliance.

"Honestly, it's just coincidence that my entire career has served foreign, not American, interests."

“Honestly, it’s merest coincidence that my entire career has served foreign, not American, interests. Because Americans are Jenjhiss Khaahhhn.”

And Kerry is getting what he has wanted all his life — some boots to lick.

Meanwhile, Assad noted in an English-language interview reported in Lebanon that the Russians have given him absolute support, and never asked the de facto king to step down.

While the US and RU have places that they can, reasonably, cooperate, one needs to recall that the Russian president and foreign minister are skilled at foreign and military policy, and their American counterparts are neither competent or even, in the President’s case, very interested in it. And the principal place for principled cooperation — against Islamic terrorism that threatens both our nations — won’t work when the American President and his men of hench deny the very existence of Islamic terrorism.

With the Iranians having gotten Kerry’s pants, one wonders what’s left for Vladimir Vladimirovich to take from him? Rectal virginity? (Wouldn’t that have been sacrificed in prep school already?)

When Infographics Stink

Here’s an infographic that purports to tell the story of “Domestic Terrorism”. There’s only one problem with it — it stinks.

Regroup_Terr_Infographic_15_years_201510.pdf

Sponsored by “Regroup,” which is a commercial attempt to spin off Stanford U’s snitch app and related software, the thing was thrown together without any attempt at doing anything but, perhaps, pimping their Stasi-bot.

Here’s just a few of the howlers:

unknown_terrorists_no_bleep_sherlock

While the authors of the infographic seem mystified by the affiliations and motivations of the terrorists at the Boston Marathon (that would be Flashbang and Speedbump, energized by the local mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston, and al-Awlaki) and their pal at Fort Hood (“Killeen, TX”) (that would be Nidal Hasan, energized by… his local mosque, and al-Awlaki), those of us not handicapped by a Stanford education can probably figure it out.

Also, including the 9/11 dead makes seeing patterns a bit hard. In addition, if we’re going to count the 9/11 dead, what about the 9/11 injured. There were over six thousand of them in New York, and over 100 (106, exactly) seriously injured at the Pentagon. But to these California software salesmen, they apparently don’t count.

OK, next slide, and we’ll see what they screwed up next….

who_does_terrorism_per_stanford

Now, all those groups do exist, in that there’s some sphincter muscle somewhere who claims to be one of ’em. But they don’t have a like impact. If you look back at the heavy hitters from the previous excerpt, you’ll see that they have something in common: the Religion of Peace®. But what do they have here? A half dozen right-wing groups who probably have about the same number of members, one each… and about the same number of teeth. 

Minuteman American Defense, for example, was made up of two criminals who were drop-outs from the larger Minuteman movement, and they murdered a Hispanic man and his daughter in 2009, not in an act of terrorism so much as to facilitate a robbery. The two criminals, Jason Bush and Shawna Forde, were convicted of capital murder and are on death row in Arizona. That is the entire capsule history of Minuteman American Defense: not a terrorist group but a criminal gang with a faux-political name. But at least they killed somebody. 

Veterans United for Non-Religious Memorials appears to be a terrorist underground counterpart of Mikey Weinstein’s group, or the ACLU, militant atheists of Jewish extraction bent out of shape by the Christian cross symbol. All it’s done is set off a small bomb — too small to damage anything — on a Coos Bay, Oregon, memorial.

And Revolutionary Cells — Animal Liberation Brigade is typical of ecoterrorists in that they, too, like to make symbolic attacks on empty facilities. None of the ecoterrorists has killed anybody in this period, although they’ve burned down a lot of facilities, and a good bit of forest (because environmentalism?) and if they keep it up they’ll have a bodycount someday out of sheer dumb luck.

The Ku Klux Klan isn’t as dead as we thought, but it has pretty much checked into Assisted Living at this juncture. Even the SPLC, who see Klansmen under their own white sheets, has only come up with one murder and one uncompleted murder conspiracy in the last 20 or so years. (However, justice still catches up with 1960s-era Klansmen from time to time). Although they do have the potential to kill, they’re pathetic; less like the terrifying Klan that lynched thousands than the “Illinois Nazis” of the movie The Blues Brothers. 

The Sovereign  Citizens do show up more frequently in crime: a triple murder last month, and a double-murder in January 2015 (by an ex-con), and an unrealized 2011 plot to whack a judge, for example. But they are not exactly a terrorist organization: they’re loopy individuals who have convinced themselves that the law does not apply to them. (While the typical Sovereign Citizen is a white extremist, an SPLC roundup of these schmoes includes four rap promoters/criminals). It’s hard to accept these as terrorists — they’re just criminals with a patter.

But while the Shadow of Doom in the shape of non-Islamic domestic terrorism keeps being threatened by the usual suspects like the Southern Poverty Law (and Fund-Raising) Center, when doom actually falls it’s always shouting allahu akbar. 

None of the rest of the groups seem to be a worthwhile use of CT resources, to tell the truth. They seem like ordinary criminals, if sometimes weird and off-kilter in their motivation, and there’s no evidence ordinary police work can’t handle them appropriately.

On to the next, and we’ll talk about the Curse of Innumeracy.

a_chart_out_of_balance

Innumeracy is a true plague, striking down tens of thousands since colleges and even high schools stopped requiring lazy liberal arts students to master some simple maths. For instance, how many victims has the dread terrorist group, Unknown, had? That depends on what end of the infographic you look at. But of course, we already know that they’ve screwed up the numbers by dropping all the Al-Q wounded and by distributing the ISIL and AQAP fellow-travelers and other Sudden Jihad Syndrome sufferers among the Unknown and Individual groups.

By not having a category for Islamic Terrorism, they’re clouding the picture of terrorism, either deliberately or (Occam’s Razor says…) out of sheer incompetence. It simply confuses the picture of terrorism to give credence to every inbred bank-robber or graffiti vandal’s claim to represent some shadowy group.

Gee, who else has a problem giving Islamic Terrorism a name?

Then there’s the long pull quote, suggesting that “right-wing terrorism” like the toothless trailer trash we’ve already mentioned are twice as big a problem as Islamic terror, because twice as many “police executives” (not sworn officers, but political appointees) are worried about the Klan/Sovereign/Minute losers as are worried about jihadis.

If you know anything about terrorism, you’ll know less after you read this shallow, lazy, and inaccurate infographic. And that’s why it stinks.

One wonders just how bad their snitch app is.

Life in the ‘Shire: Big City Police Blotter

It’s that time again, when we look through a couple of days of the Big City police blotter to see just what crime and public service the cops of the Seacoast of New Hampshire get up to.

July 6

8:03 a.m.: A caller reported a turtle in Maplewood Avenue, but an officer reported “someone must have moved it or he made it across.”

Yes, it all begins with a turtle. No more turtles in this span of about 24 hours, but there will be dogs.

8:58 a.m.: Assisted with a collision involving a tractor trailer on Route 33.

10:03 a.m.: Caller reported a passing postal truck clipped the mirror of a public works truck.

11:34 a.m.: Assisted on the traffic circle with a crash.

12:30 p.m.: Assisted on Lafayette Road with a minor crash in a parking lot.

1:45 p.m.: A woman said she was receiving harassing phone calls from her ex and police told the ex to stop.

1:48 p.m.: Verbal warning given to dog owners who tied a dog to a van in 90-degree weather.

That’s Dog #1.

2:48 p.m.: Found wallet returned to owner.

2:51 p.m.: Found “scruffy” dog was brought to the SPCA in Stratham.

Hmmm. We just checked SPCA for a proper follow-on for Small Dog, and they had nothing but pit bulls (and a Chihuahua). Shelters are all full of abandoned pit bulls.

3:07 p.m.: Caller reported a hibachi grill on Four Tree Island. Police determined it was a “normal” grill and there was nothing suspicious about it.

3:07 p.m.: Assisted N.H. State Police with a crash on the traffic circle.

3:51 p.m.: Investigated a report about a man who made threats about “suicide by police.”

4:03 p.m.: Responded to Echo Avenue for a call about a woman in a wheelchair who appeared to be stuck. She was gone when police arrived.

Disappearing wheelchair witch? Was the turtle her familiar?

4:57 p.m.: Assisted firefighters with someone thought to be in distress, but was sleeping.

5:03 p.m.: Caller reported someone in Market Square who seemed suspicious because he was wearing a lot of clothing on a warm day. Police dealt with him the day before and determined he wasnt doing anything illegal, “just dressed warm.”

5:12 p.m.: After a report that a woman was being held against her will, by a man court-ordered to have no contact with her, launched a search for the man. Found the woman bloodied and intoxicated. Arrested at gunpoint was Jeffrey Pesarik, 52, of 28 Mill Pond Road, Epping, on a charge alleging he violated a protection order.

Hmm. An actual crime, but… doesn’t actually sound like a kidnapping.

6:21 p.m.: Caller asked police to try to locate her daughter who has mental health problems, doesn’t take her medication and was barred from the homeless shelter.

Notice how many police calls have to do with people who ought to be in some kind of custodial setting?

7:20 p.m.: A Market Square caller reported the theft of a sweater by someone who was “sweating profusely” and was believed to be staying at a city hotel.

Another actual crime!

7:34 p.m.: A caller said cars were parked on both sides of Mechanic Street and a fire truck would not be able to get through.

8:00 p.m.: Hospital staff asked for help with locating a man detoxing from alcohol who was “polite and a nice patient” and may be looking for a drink. The man was located and refused a ride back to the hospital.

8:97 p.m.: Responded to Weald Road for a dispute.

Yeah, that’s really what it says. We note that some genius put the 9 next to the 0 on the keyboard.

8:14 p.m.: Caller said a man was walking on Chapel Street and said he was going to jump off a bridge. Police were familiar with him and he was fine.

What, this guy threatens bridge jumping all the time, or what?

10:34 a.m.: After a caller reported a woman throwing things at a window, arrested Crystalline Verrill, 29, of 15 Chartergrant Road, Dover, on two counts of criminal mischief, a charge alleging simple assault and a count of resisting arrest.

July 7

1:07 a.m.: Responded to Concord Way for a complaint about a barking dog.

via Portsmouth police log, July 6-7, 2016 – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

And we go out as we come in — with a police call about an animal situation the caller could have handled him- or herself.

Two Training Firms Accused of Stiffing Instructors

burning-wasting-moneyOver the weekend, an interesting situation began to develop in the training community. It was kicked off by a message from Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts, breaking off his longstanding relationship with Alias Training & Security due to longstanding nonpayment and bad communication. Soon, several other top-level trainers had joined Jeff, including Pat McNamara, Mike Pannone and Larry Vickers. Jeff wrote:

As many of you are aware we have been utilizing the services of Alias Training and Security (ATS) over the last 20 months. Recently, we have experienced some major problems forcing us to reconsider our association with ATS. They have been delinquent on paying us for the last several classes and more than likely will not be paying us for our CQB class in Alliance, OH I am currently getting ready for this coming week.

I am not the only one who has experienced these problems, good friends and fellow trainers Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara and Craig Douglas have all had similar experience both in delinquency of revenue owed as well as lack of communications with ATS. I feel and I know I echo the others my level of frustration has reached a point where I have exhausted all avenues and the benefit of the doubt has reached the reasonable limit.

Alias was slow to respond (which, if you’ve ever had any dealings with them, is par for the course) but finally stopped taking deposits on all open courses, marking them “sold out.”

Finally they posted this to their Facebook page:

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that as of Monday July 13, 1016 Alias Training & Security Services, LLC will be closing its doors. An ongoing dispute with our merchant services financial company has made things untenable. Our apologies to all affected students, instructors, etc. To all students of upcoming classes please expect an email early this week to explain the situation in more detail.

Again our most sincere apologies,

Alias Staff

What makes this interesting is the claim that “an ongoing dispute with our merchant services financial company” is the root of their problem. That certainly sounds like a Choke Point attack, the kind the DOJ, IRS and banking regulators have used in the past against the Administration’s political “enemies.”

But the problem with that is this: while Choke Point could keep you from paying Gonzales, Pannone or Vickers what you owed ’em, it can’t stop you from telling them about it. If that was the case, would Jeff really be talking about

…lack of communications with ATS…

…the rest of the group and I went above and beyond trying to remedy this situation. I take this matter very seriously and I’m sure you will all see how the group and I have acted in the most professional manner, but now it is time to move forward…

instead of criticizing the regulator?

By the way, it looks like Jeff is planning to go forward with the Alliance class even though he has not received and doesn’t expect to receive the money the students paid (through Alias’s web site).

Meanwhile, Paul Howe has been fighting his own battle with Pantaeo Productions. In his July newsletter (.pdf), he writes:

It is with regret that I ask CSAT followers not to purchase or stream any CSAT content at Panteao at this time. This is reference to not receiving compensation for my work.

Life is a people business and I try to give everyone chances and support them until I see things go in the wrong direction. Even then I still try to correct issues give positive advice. At some point I must step in and do what I think is right.

Pantaeo has made some dynamic videos and has an excellent e-commerce website. However, its principal, Fernando Coelho, is a convicted felon, and what’s more, what he was convicted for was, specifically, financial fraud. This was in relation to the long and drama-rich collapse of an ammunition firm, Triton Cartridge Corporation, he once owned in upstate New York. (The newspaper headline called him, “Swindler,” not an epithet we’d want to wear). He got five years’ probation and was ordered to repay $328k he had essentially embezzled from a creditor and/or stolen from his own employees by not paying them. We’re unaware of whether he ever paid that money back, or any of it. Maybe he did.

Unlike Alias, as far as we know Pantaeo hasn’t even tried telling a story about why they’re stiffing Howe.

So — are Pantaeo and Alias being squeezed by Operation Choke Point or some nameless, more deniable successor? Or are they themselves doing the squeezing, to the instructors they haven’t paid?

UPDATE

This story continues to develop. Soldier-Systems has a story with comment from both Mike Pannone and Larry Vickers (LAV is actually in the comments, not the story). Do read the comments — some of the background on Alias is, well, let’s just say it’s no wonder they called it “Alias.” They seemed to be planning on needing one.

 

USMC: The Few, the Proud, the Fat Chicks

FemaleMarineFeminists wanted women in combat — they got it. They wanted more promotion quotas for women qua women — they got it. They wanted to maintain the fiction that standards are being held, while standards instead get “adjusted” and “improved” — and they’re getting it.

First up, they’ll accept pudgier recruits:

Female Marines will now be allowed to weigh five to seven pounds more than previously accepted for each inch of their height, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. A 5-foot-9 woman, for example, who was previously allowed to weigh up to 169 pounds, can now weigh up to 176 pounds.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, detailed the changes Friday as the military continues to fully integrate women into combat positions. He also outlined an overhaul to the Marines Corps’ annual combat fitness and physical fitness tests.

via The Marine Corps Is Letting Heavier Women Join the Service.

Next, they’re jiggering the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to make pull-ups, at which women tend to underperform men, optional. 

The service will also give Marines the option to replace pull-ups with pushups to test upper-body strength. The flexed-arm hang, which women could previously do instead of pull-ups, will be entirely phased out.

Then, they’re just going to drop body fat testing, as long as PFC or Lt. Butterball can squeak through the PFT.

The Marines will also drop body fat limits for service members who receive high scores on their fitness tests….

You could say the Marines have the unisex blues, alright....

You could say the Marines have the unisex blues, alright….

(Actually, to be fully exempt, you have to score a 285, which is fairly fit. Scoring a 250 gets you a 1% body-fat allowance).

These changes, the Commandant noted, were “the biggest changes to the PFT since 1972 and CFT since 2009.” And when did they announce this policy? How proud of it is the USMC?

The Marine Corps issued new guidelines over the Fourth of July holiday weekend that will relax weight limits for servicewomen.

Gee, it’s nice to know our Marines are working hard on a holiday /sarc. Unbelievably, a couple of  the service’s political generals were able to step forward with Orwellian quotes about how lowering standards is raising standards. Example:

Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, the commanding general of Training and Education Command, said the new standards “raise the bar” for physical fitness in the service.

In other news, the chocolate ration has been increased from 6 to 5 grams, and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

In an ALMAR GENADMIN message, Commandant Robert B. Neller wrote that the objective of the new standards was:

…a physical fitness program that incentivizes behavior toward an end state of a healthy and fit force able to better answer the call in any clime and place.

He did, at least, clarify that the substitution of push-ups for pull-ups was, at least until the next change, not a complete abandonment of a Marine standard that has worked for the Corps without change for 44 years.

Push-ups become an option on the PFT, but Marines are incentivized toward pull-ups, as these are a better test of functional, dynamic upper body strength and correlate stronger to physically demanding tasks.  Push-ups are also a valid exercise and good test; however maximum points can only be earned by executing pull-ups.

One thing that is certainly over is 44 years of steady standards. Neller has already promised more MARADMINs with more changes, as the standards adapt to meet the political requirements. That’s not going back in Pandora’s Box.

The real losers, of course, include the Marine women who met the old standards without a thumb on the scale.

But it should all work out. While Marines have had an institutional aversion to fat chicks for a while, anyone who’s been in a bar in Jacksonville, NC around closing time knows that the fighting Marines can handle fat chicks as well as anything else you throw at ’em.

For more information, Washington Post blogger Dan Lamothe has a typical Righteous SJWs view of the policy on the Post website, with plenty of the spin you’d expect.

TSA Beats Sick Kid

No one good, decent, moral, ethical, competent or intelligent has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever… but in this case the brutality, criminality and lack of accountability in the Government’s most incompetent organization has plumbed new depths. This incident happened over a year ago, and TSA spent the intervening year covering it up.

They beat a sick little girl who was traveling for cancer treatment into a bloody pulp in Chattanooga, and then threw her into jail. “Respect my authoritah!”

Hannah Cohen beaten by TSA

Now, they’ve lawyered up — and sent one of their six-figure-salary-and-benefits public relations dollies out to abuse the victim and her family — and then refuse to answer press questions.

WREG, Memphis:

Hannah set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint

“They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother Shirley Cohen.

Cohen told us she tried to tell TSA agents her daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused, but said she was kept at a distance by police.

“She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” said Cohen.

Hannah was arrested, booked and on the night she should have been celebrating the end of her treatment, she was locked up in Jail East.

“Here we were with nowhere to go, not even a toothbrush, our bags had gone to Chattanooga,” said Cohen.

via Disabled St. Jude patient sues airport and TSA after bloody scuffle with Airport Police | WREG.com.

Some TSA spokesbimbo named Sari Koshetz sneered that it was all Hannah and her mom’s fault; they could have called “ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.” Which apparently involves having your head used as a kettledrum by some mouth-breathing TSA mall cops.

The story is in the news because, stiff-armed by the TSA Security Theater thugs, the family’s finally suing.

Reason intern Alex Thomas notes that this wasn’t a trip to Disney World for Hannah and her family, but the latest in 17 years of life-extending, but side-effect-rich, treatment for brain cancer that struck Hannah in infancy.

For 17 years, Hannah Cohen and her family have traveled between their home in Chattanooga and Memphis so she could receive treatment for a brain tumor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After completing the end of her treatment on June 30 of last year, then-18-year-old Hannah and her mother, Shirley, made their way through Memphis International Airport to get on a flight home, as they had so many times before.

However, the Cohens did not make it back to Chattanooga that night. Instead, Hannah was locked up in a Shelby County jail, her face bloodied and bruised after a confrontation with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents.

Her years of treatment left the teenager partially deaf, blind in one eye, and limited in her abilities to walk and talk. She also, according to her mother, can become easily confused.

That means she’s about 100% superior, cognitively, to any TSA employee or executive.

Remember, these edge cases are not rare instances where the TSA went off the reservation. These are cases where the TSA ran their usual procedures, and the rare bit is that the press found out about it. (In this case, a year later when a suit was filed). The nation would be better off if every single one of these bums was off the payroll and back on welfare where he came from.

After all, no one good, decent, moral, ethical, competent or intelligent has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

As Complexity Increases, Officers are Getting Dumber

The Good Idea Fairy (aka Ash Carter) as a Child

The Good Idea Fairy (aka Ash Carter) as a Child

We considered something less blunt than “getting dumber” for the title, but we wanted to be sure that officers could read it. Matthew Cancian in Joint Forces Quarterly starts off with the Marines, simply because he has their data handy. We’ve deleted the footnote references (you can always go to the link) for readability, and added some bold emphasis of our own.

According to data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request, the intelligence of new Marine Corps officers has declined steadily since 1980. Two-thirds of the new officers commissioned in 2014 would be in the bottom one-third of the class of 1980; 41 percent of new officers in 2014 would not have qualified to be officers by the standards held at the time of World War II. Similarly, at the top of the distribution, there are fewer of the very intelligent officers who will eventually become senior leaders.

This trend has not been caused by Marine Corps policies; it is a reflection of the expansion of higher education in America. In 1980, 18.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were in college. Today, that number is close to 30 percent. The dramatic rise in college attendance has increased the pool of people eligible to become officers in the military (possession of a bachelor’s degree being one of the chief requirements to be commissioned as an officer in all branches), but it also means that possession of a college degree is a less significant indicator of intelligence now than it once was. Marine Corps officers have reflected this trend, declining in average intelligence along with the population of college graduates (see figure 1).cancian-figure1

Well, that’s a pretty well fitted curve. What it says to us is that a college degree alone is now nearly worthless as a signal of leadership-level intelligence. However, we also disagree that high intelligence is necessarily the mark of a leader. We’ve made fun before of beetle-browed officers who majored in football at Flyover State, but intelligence is more of a threshold item for a leader than an item where more is always better. Don’t believe us? Consider this thought experiment: the 2nd Ranger Battalion as led by the sociology and cultural anthropology postdocs at Columbia.

Yeah, we probably should have given you a trigger warning on that one.

We think Cancian’s theory of the cause of the intelligence decline he documents is highly probable. (To which we’d add the military’s absolute refusal to distinguish between highly cognitively loaded undergraduate degrees and entirely unloaded ones: a Berkeley B.S. in Physics ≠ a Berkeley B.A. in Grievance Studies, and the second candidate brings nothing of value to the armed services).

A similar decline in intelligence has likely occurred in the other Services’ officer corps, as this is a trend in the pool of all college graduates and not something specific to the Marine Corps. For example, the average Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score of a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate in 2014 was the same as that of a new Marine officer. In the Army, the test scores of previously enlisted officer candidates have been declining since at least the mid-1990s (although the Army attributes this decline to changes in accession sources, unlike this article, which views the issue as more broadly based).

The Army has long refused to subject officer candidates to the same psychometric testing as enlisted soldiers. The party line is that the Army has effectively outsourced intelligence selection to the colleges (which is why TrigglyPuff might be your next infantry platoon leader, if she cal lose 150 pounds). The cynic’s view is that the Army does not want the Joes finding out that Lieutenant Fuzz really is below average in the Brain Housing Group. Either way, the result is the same: lots of hard-of-thinking Lt. Fuzzes and Wink Curtises misleading their men because they’re just not bright enough.

This article focuses on the Marine Corps because it has administered the same test, the General Classification Test (GCT), for decades and because of its responsiveness to the Freedom of Information Act process.

Translation: the Marines gave Cancian the data he asked for (“responsiveness to the Freedom of Information Act”) and the other services told him to go copulate with a rolling doughnut — not in so many words, but in a bunch of OSS Simple Sabotage Manual-approved acts of obstruction, foot-dragging, feigned (or maybe not) stupidity and dumb insolence.

More study is needed to ascertain the degree to which this phenomenon presents across the Department of Defense. A good first step would be to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to all officer candidates in all Services, study what makes an effective officer, and implement long-term reforms to strengthen the officer corps of the 21st century.

via Officers Are Less Intelligent: What Does It Mean? > National Defense University Press > Joint Force Quarterly 81.

Cancian’s suggestions are so good that the probability of any uptake on them before Sol goes nova is functionally zero. The personnel system, itself a creaky construct of self-serving officers, the lowest-quality enlisted troops in the services, and layers of obsolete procedures and practices layered atop scriptural Regulations which perch in turn on the leadership-by-jerking-you-around that emanates from Congress, always seeks homeostasis.

army troubleshooting flowchartDecentralizing power and giving commanders more hire and fire authority, while eliminating those tens of thousands of clerk positions and introducing them to the joys of life in a mortar platoon, would go a long way. Otherwise, with a centrally managed, bureaucratic promotions system, and commanders’ hands tied with respect to their ability to man their units, you get Army Troubleshooting (left).

We can’t speak for the Marines or other services here, but the only-a-college-degree-but-any-college-degree requirement is just one instance of the Army’s obsession with easily-gamed and empty credentialism. While the Army has internalized credentialism in its processes, the original requirement comes from, where else? Congress, in DOPMA and ROPMA. Acceptance of low-content degrees is also driven by bean-counting Affirmative Action, and other Diversity is Our Vibrancy® programs that reduce all soldiers and officers to their skin color and ancestry. The Armed Forces would be better off never even noting or recording the race, religion and other personal characteristics of their volunteers.

Striker-Fired Gun Loose in a Bag = Bad Idea

It wasn't his foot this time.

It wasn’t his foot this time.

Unfortunately for a former member of the Indianapolis Colts, this is one of the cases where Experience gives the examination before the lesson, and since the student has assumed ambient temperature, the retest will not be scheduled.

A former NFL player died Tuesday after accidentally shooting himself in the stomach.

Zurlon Tipton, 26, a former Indianapolis Colts running back, was dropping off his car at a dealership in Roseville, Michigan when he reached into a bag, firing a gun inside.

Tipton was hit in the abdomen and taken to the hospital. He was alert and able to talk during the transport, police said according to the Detroit News.

But officials confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Tipton had died.

Not that unusual. Exsanguination internally; he popped the round into a major vessel or an organ that was heavily vascularized.

Tipton, who had a young daughter, went to get a transmission leak on his vehicle fixed between 9 and 9:30 Tuesday morning, the car dealership’s manager Mark DeMara told the Detroit News.

He was putting his personal belongings inside the bag when the shooting happened, authorities said.

via Zurlon Tipton who played for the Indianapolis Colts, dies after accidentally shooting himself in a car dealership in Michigan | Daily Mail Online.

Holsters, people. Also, one gun in your car and your little ditty bag of personal stuff you don’t trust your car dealer with is plenty.

Tipton has some history with guns, says the Detroit News:

Early Christmas morning Tipton was arrested for firing a gun outside his girlfriend’s home in the Indianapolis area, according to police. The Indianapolis Star reported Tipton was charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. According to media reports, the prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges against him.

Tipton told Greenwood police he went to the home after he received threatening texts from his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend stating the woman was going to be harmed. Believing the ex-boyfriend was inside the home, Tipton fired one round from an AR-15 assault weapon, police said.

The Colts put him on waiver last December, although what relation (temporal? Causal? None?) this has with his 2015 gun problem is unknown.

Update

Between writing this and it going live, two young (23-24 years old) knuckleheads in Stoughton, Mass., were playing with several things that ought not to be mixed:

  1. A firearm, to wit a pistol, legally licensed to one of the individuals;
  2. Judgment Juice™, which both of the worthies had consumed in super-therapeutic quantities; and,
  3. Some kind of camera(s) with which they were filming their tomfoolery.

It is our observation that the presence of a camera lowers the IQ of all within range approximately 30%. And the dyscognition produced by ingested ethanol is well known. While private drunkenness is not society’s business, private drunkenness  with firearm escalates the behavior from Mere Stupid, which is the normal operating level for a large part of society, to Felony Stupid.

As you might expect, one drunk pointed the gun at the other drunk, pulling the trigger and expecting a “click.” It gives a new meaning to the term Dead Drunk.

Dead Drunk his ownself is on a mortuary slab, awaiting autopsy, and Dead Drunk’s Buddy is on house arrest with an ankle bracelet, awaiting trial. His license to carry has been revoked and the local cops have divvied up his other guns, if any with one of the two politically connected “bonded warehouses” that scam guns with the help of the police.

Mama Gump used to always say, “Stupid is as stupid does, but not for long if stupid does it with booze and a gun.”

Craftsmanship, College, and Conceit

California_Institute_of_Technology_Logo-200x200A fascinating story in the Los Angeles Times (of all places) describes what the imminent retirement of 71-year-old Rick Gerhart means to CalTech, the prominent science and engineering school.

CalTech scientists depend on Gerhart’s craft. He is one of the world’s most creative and experienced scientific glass blowers, able to construct and repair the bespoke scientific equipment that you might need if you were doing cutting-edge chemical, chemical-engineering, or biological research.

When he retired the glass-blowing lab might have to close, as the one at Cal State Los Angeles did.

The article explores at length what might happen when Gerhart retires, but it never addresses why the university never hired an apprentice to learn the craft and take it over from him. The question doesn’t seem to have occurred to the reporter, Rosanna Xia.

Here in Caltech’s one-man glass shop, where Gerhart transforms a researcher’s doodles into intricate laboratory equipment, craftsmanship is king. No two pieces of scientific glassware are the same, and for more than two decades, students and Nobel laureates alike have begun each project with Gerhart’s blessing that, yes, he can create the tools to make their experiments possible.

But Gerhart, 71, is retiring, and the search is on to find someone, anyone, who can fill his shoes. In a cost-cutting world of machines and assembly plants, few glass blowers remain with the level of mastery needed at research hubs like Caltech.

“He’s a somewhat dying breed,” said Sarah Reisman, who relied on Gerhart to create 20 maze-like contraptions for her synthetic organic chemistry lab. “There just aren’t as many scientific glass blowers anymore, and certainly not ones that have Rick’s level of experience. Even a fraction of that experience, I think, just isn’t out there.”

There just aren’t as many scientific glassblowers anymore, and certainly not ones that have Rick’s level of experience.
— Sarah Reisman, professor of chemistry

Rick Gerhart, scientific glass blower at Caltech, has been helping to make scientific research possible at the campus since 1992. Gerhart plans to retire, and the school is searching for someone to take his place.

Full-time university glass blowers are considered tops in their field, but few institutions still offer such positions or give young glass blowers the chance to hone their craft. When Cal State L.A.’s longtime glass blower retired last year, the shop which he had run for 30 years closed down. Similar fates have befallen glass blowing at UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At UC Riverside, which once had three full-time glass blowers and two glass shops, a glass blower now comes in one day a week.

USC is the only other university in the L.A. area that still has a full-time glass blower, Gerhart said. Across the U.S., those who land such jobs tend to stay until retirement.

“So now, to take my place” — Gerhart paused, spinning through his mental Rolodex. He chuckled: “Looks like we have to steal somebody.”

To master scientific glass blowing, proper training and apprenticeships are key. Only one school in the nation, Salem Community College in New Jersey, offers a degree program.

In addition to the hands-on training, which requires a knack for precision as well as coordination, students must take courses in organic chemistry, math and computer drawing.

“You need to know enough about everything, about mechanics, about chemistry, about physics, about thermodynamics — whatever a chemist can come up with, you need to know just a little bit to get that chemist through,” said Dennis Briening, instructional chair of Salem’s two-year program. “And of course, you need to be very skilled, technique-wise. So it really takes a long time to get to a position like Rick’s.”

Gerhart enrolled in the Salem program in 1965, after dropping out of college to give his father’s profession a try.

It was the heyday of scientific glass blowing. The craft, which dates back to alchemy in the 2nd century, took hold in America by the 1930s and 1940s, after World War I cut off glassware supply from Germany. Glass — Pyrex and quartz in particular — remains popular because it can withstand high heat, reacts with very few elements and is transparent, allowing researchers to observe chemical processes.

The profession peaked after World War II, when booms in oil and government-funded research opened up numerous glass blowing jobs in many a lab. Scientific glass blowers didn’t only make research equipment, they created glass parts for such inventions as the laser printer.

At first, Gerhart hopped around a number of firms and worked alongside more experienced glass blowers at TRW Inc. and UCLA.

When he settled at Caltech in 1992, the glass blower before him handed over the key to the shop and said, “Good luck.” On his own, Gerhart pieced together his patchwork of experience to twist and fuse glass beakers and snake glass coils over vacuum chambers.

In a production line, a glass blower might make the same product every day, “I was doing something a little different every time,” he said. “That’s when I really started learning.”

These opportunities to learn on the job are now limited, though interest has not waned: This year, Salem Community College graduated 31 glass blowers — for years, the school graduated about 20 each year — and it expects 66 incoming students next school year. Social media videos have sparked new interest in the craft, Briening said.

But while his students have no trouble getting entry-level jobs at companies like Chemglass Life Sciences, a glass manufacturer, and General Electric Global Research, rarely are universities willing to budget the overhead costs for more than one glassblower, if any.

It’s a remarkable and fascinating article, so do go Read The Whole Thing™.

But why didn’t Cal Tech just hire one of the graduates from the only school in the nation to teach this skill, that New Jersey community college, to learn from Gerhart? Xia never tells you, but we will: priorities.

There are hints of it in Xia’s article:

  • “In a cost-cutting world of machines and assembly plants, few glass blowers remain with the level of mastery needed at research hubs like Caltech.”
  • rarely are universities willing to budget the overhead costs for more than one glassblower, if any.”

Yet, only a seasoned craftsman can do what Gerhart does. Gerhart himself was out of Salem’s glass-blowing program for 27 years before landing at Caltech. It would seem like a no-brainer to give him a student to mentor. Except Caltech ought to have done it ten years ago.

So here’s the reason they didn’t:

They didn’t want to. 

It was not a priority. 

So what is a priority?

Diversity. An all-overhead all-the-time Center for Diversity gets resources that Caltech is no longer willing to waste on archaic stuff like making apparatus for its scientists. It’s constantly hiring more and more executives, who are expected to be doctrinaire diversicrats but don’t really have to know anything about the school’s STEM mission: one 2015 job listing for a six-figures salary “Senior Director for Caltech Center for Diversity” put “an ongoing interest in science and knowledge about many of the scientific and technical topics that are regularly covered at Caltech” into the “nice to have,” but not necessary, “preferred qualifications” bin.

The depredations of the diversicrats are one reason the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) rates Caltech “yellow.” The free-speech-promoting nonprofit identifies three Caltech policies that “that too easily encourage administrative abuse and arbitrary application.”(It could be worse, though. Back in 2009, the speech codes, etc., were so extreme the university was rated “red.”)