Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Ever see a “Flute Gun”?

This is a new one on us. It’s a little old — it was turned in during a gun turn in (which they did not, mercifully, refer to as a “buy back”) in Tampa, Florida in February, 2013, making it practically matchlock-era by blog standards, but it’s new to us.

Hillsborough FL flute gun3

Yep, that’s exactly what it looks like — a .22 bolt rifle built into a flute. It looks like an unfinished project, but the details are completely unknown.

Hillsborough FL flute gun

Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull was not available for comment. Naturally, the press fixated on the flute gun and two inert, fired AT weapons, an M72 LAW and an AT-4, to the exclusion of interesting weapons — including one far more deadly than any of these, at least, potentially.

Two rocket launchers and a flute fashioned into a gun were among the weapons turned into the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s Gun Swap program on Saturday. A total of 2,541 weapons were exchanged for $75 and tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays home game at five locations throughout the county.

via Rocket launchers, ‘flute gun’ among weapons turned in at gun buyback |

Here’s a close-up of the muzzle area, where it looks like two flutes were grafted together to make the needed length. Or maybe that’s where a flute takes down. We’re guitar guys, we don’t pretend to know boo about flutes.

Hillsborough FL flute gun2

In all their fright over the flute gun and the harmless-but-scary-looking “rocket launchers,” the media ignored the heavy quantities of sawn-off shotguns in the turn-ins, and they missed the gun in the background here.

Hillsborough FL flute gun etc

Yeah, if you go past the Jennings pistol and the flute gun, and past the crude sawn-offs, that’s a Browning AN/M2 or M3 aircraft machine gun. It looks like an M2 to us, because the buffer is not the full width of the back plate (the dead give-away of the M3 is that huge buffer). Either way, that;s 1,000 to 1,200 RPM of 12.7×99 mm coming at you right there. (Of course, it looks to be in $#!+ state, maybe from a crash site).

The guns from the turn-in were sent to Jacksonville to be torched (which may add more costs). The leadership of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office opposes the private ownership of firearms, which is why they dropped $200k buying these odd guns, and a lot of armed robbers’ older sawn-off shotguns. Your tax (and forfeiture) money in action.

The $200k expenditure (so far) against a $60k budget tells you a lot about the fiscal management and overall priorities of the HCSO.

Ray’s Recruiting Rangerettes; Lower Standards, Commissars, to Guarantee Graduation

This rope traverse in Ranger School is a one-time deal, not part of the PT test. One example of the physical demands on the Ranger candidate. The ladies won't be doing this.

This rope traverse in Ranger School is a one-time deal, not part of the PT test. One example of the physical demands on the Ranger candidate. The ladies won’t be doing this.

Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno has been having his minions actively recruiting Ranger rats for the first coed Ranger class. The Army has learned from the Marines’ experience with their officer and enlisted infantry schools, and he’s not even going to attempt to have the Rangerettes meet the existing standards.

He’s also emplaced a Corps of Commissars — female officer and NCO “observers and advisers” whose mission will be to ensure that the sisters make it through. Some 31 women were selected out of “more than three dozen” who applied. The Corps of Commissars selectees were given a one-week micro-Ranger-school, according to (hat tip, The Captain’s Journal):

…so they can work alongside male instructors and help observe the female students selected for the first-ever co-ed class, known as the Ranger Course Assessment, tentatively scheduled for this spring.

The article has a few more prize quotes. We couldn’t make this crap up:

“Their performance and professionalism over the course of the week was extraordinary,” Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said of the women, according to a release posted on Fort Benning’s Facebook page. “This group did very well for what was a very physically challenging week for any soldier.”

Hey, that’s the toughest week in the Army, troop. A MG (who, dear God, should not ever be approved by the Senate for three or four stars) says so, and when was a general ever wrong?

Service officials hinted that the number of women actually interested in applying for combat assignments will be relatively small.

The reason they’re “hinting” is because, in the Army now, you can’t say anything about bull dykes, even if they’re hitting on subordinates in their own unit, and you’re the commander. Strike that: were the commander, until you asked them to stop swapping spit in uniform at a unit function.

NATO countries that have opened infantry jobs and similar positions to women report that only about 1 percent of potential female recruits apply for the jobs…

Er, what’s the percentage of….? NTTAWWT. Unless they’re in your unit, disrupting unit discipline (and creeping out otherwise-oriented subordinates), and you know now that you can’t say anything lest you and a platter be making like John the Baptist most ricky-tick.

What’s more, if the U.S. military fully integrates women into all jobs, the services’ various recruiting offices will vie to recruit that small subset of the population, she said.

“Unfortunately, all of us will be competing for those same women,” Sheimo said.

Well, m’dear, you’ll just have to get creative.

Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, among others, are expected to make a decision sometime after Jan. 1 on whether to approve the plan to allow female soldiers to enroll in Ranger School.

Well, the decision those two payroll patriots are going to make is a real stone cold mystery. Really.

“Holmes, what do you make of this?”

“I don’t know, my dear Watson; for the first time in my career of detection it beats me with a stick.”

This is the picture used to illustrate their story. Presumably it shows the Corps of Commissars learning how to carry female Ranger candidates through the course.

This is the picture used to illustrate their story. Presumably it shows the Corps of Commissars learning how to carry female Ranger candidates through the course.

On second thought, we have less doubt than that, after all. Indeed, we’ll give you 10-1 that those two crapweasels make a go decision, except that none of you will take us up on it because we all already know they’ve already made the go decision.

Or to be more precise, they’ve already received the go decision and are letting a suitably decent interval elapse, as if they were thinking, before passing it on.

On Wednesday, Odierno said the service plans to finish by spring or summer assessments to determine the feasibility of opening engineering, artillery, armor and infantry jobs to women.

“It’s going very well,” he said. “We still have some final assessments to do.”

See what he did there? He very nearly spilled that the fix was in (“It’s going very well!”), and then he reeled himself in. It takes talent, and the kind of lips-on experience in sucking up that you can only learn in the best schools, to catch a bobble like that. See, that’s why this weasel is Chief of Staff, and you’re not, you slacker.

“For me, it’s about talent management. We need to take the best, no matter who you are, if you’re qualified. We’re not going to lower the standards. If you can meet the standard, we should give them the capability to service.”

Is it just us, or does that last sentence offend against the good order and discipline of the English language? And does anybody think that what has been described here is a process for finding “the best”? No, it’s a process created because certain women officers are whining about unfairness in their careers. 

Focus on your career long enough, and you turn into Ray Odierno. He was probably a great guy as a company grade officer.

[U]nits have until Dec. 1 to provide names of the volunteers to the Army’s Infantry School. Women selected for the highly competitive slots will be identified in January, Sheimo said.

The Ranger Course Assessment was open to all women in the grades E-4 through O-4 who had the support of their chain of command and whose end term of service, or ETS, was no earlier than Oct. 1, 2016, according to All-Army Activities, or Alaract, notices about the proposal.

Odierno is hardly alone in this, but he is a Chief of Staff who inherited an outstanding Army and will leave behind a weaker, less capable one.

Let’s Go to the Primary Documents!

Here’s the cable to All Army Activities (ALARACT) seeking females for the Corps of Commissars.


It’s a lot of Army bureaucratese, in hard-to-read all caps, but here are some of the most interesting details:

  • it’s optional for the female volunteers to pass the Ranger PT test.
  • Optional to pass the Combat Water Survival Test (which tests your ability to swim about ten feet in uniform without dropping your rubber-duck imitation rifle).
  • Optional to pass land nav (a skill anyone can learn to the relatively low Ranger standard).
  • Optional to complete the 12-mile foot march (again, something anyone can learn to do, men, women and children. The women will be required to carry a 35-pound pack).
  • They can’t fail. Literally can’t fail, although they can quit: “Candidates will not be dropped from the assessment except for injury or by self removal.”
  • It’s not even a week long. It’s 8 days, but Day 1 and Day 8 are travel days with no requirements.

Yeah, Ray Odierno is trying real hard to, what was it he said? “Take the best.” Nothing says you’re taking the best like a standard that tells everybody that nobody can fail.

Here’s the cable to All Army Activities (ALARACT) seeking females for the first Rangerette course.


Same complaints about cable formatting apply, but by now you can deal with it, right, Ranger? Hooah. So onward we go to the shorter list of squawks with this document.

  • All the active-duty volunteers will initially be sent to a prep school that the National Guard maintains for pre-Ranger training. (The Guard has, in the past, been embarrassed by some first-day failures and quitters, hence the US Army National Guard, Ranger Training And Assessment Course, which is not available to male active-duty Ranger candidates.
  • Commanders will have to certify that the Rangerette candidates are proficient in all those things that the Rangerette Corps of Commissars was exempted from.
  • For the first time in the sixty-plus-year history of the school, a pregnancy test will be part of inprocessing.

The bigger issue with the special class — they’re calling it an “Assessment,” but that name exists to support the fiction that the conclusions have not been already assumed a priori – is that nobody who’s seen the way the Army handles personnel has any faith that it will be conducted in anything like a fair, objective manner. We could write the Benning press release on this one already and they haven’t even picked a date for the course yet.

Amnesty Winner: Child Rapist

AreveloMeet Luis Arevelo, an 18-year-old who’s just doing the work Americans won’t do: in his case, raping a five-year-old girl, and bestowing upon her his case of chlamydia. For this, he has been elevated to a status above unemployed American workers, in the hopes he’ll hang around and vote.

Before the Burger and Warren courts, the public would at least have had some chance that he’d hang, period, but in our mixed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down world, he has rights. Something the kid he did does not.

So, he’s on the fast track not to be deported, because the latest HSI guidance from Jeh Johnson is that “sexual offenders,” along with aliens who commit, “gun crimes,” should generally not be deported — and senior executives are charged with micromanaging any case where an outraged field agent and an off-message Assistant US Attorney are still trying to incarcerate the poor dears.

Like this one.

If a few kids get raped in the process — for creeps like Luis, preschoolers are like potato chips, they can’t ever do just one — well, them’s the breaks.

The girl may have been a relative. It’s not certain, because Luis seems to have a problem telling the truth, or should we say, since we don’t yet know what the story is, he seems to have a problem sticking to one story, of which any or none might actually be the truth.

Some months ago he surfaced on the Mexican border, walking into a Border Patrol position with a story that he was from Central America, a child refugee, and displaying considerable knowledge of the DREAM Act and the enactment of its provisions by executive order after it failed in Congress. He wanted to be reunited with family members, he said, and showed a slip with a name and address in Upper Darby, PA. It was unknown whether he began his travels with this slip, or whether someone provided him along his route from wherever he came from. (He is now using the Luis Arevelo name, and claiming to be from Ecuador in South America). The family on the slip of paper, contacted by US Customs and Border Patrol, agreed to sponsor the young man under the provisions of the DREAM amnesty. It was unclear whether he actually was a relative. There is a rumor in law enforcement that the same family has sponsored other illegal aliens, and a debate about whether their interest is humanitarian, financial, or ideological that has not been resolved. We’d like to hear from them what their relationship to “Arevelo” is and why they sponsored him — and how they feel about him now.

It was their girl that the man who now calls himself Arevelo raped, and infected. (This was not any arcane or legalistic construction of the word “rape,” either. It was what people traditionally think of when they understand the crime of rape. We don’t need to get graphic, or report the victim’s actual words, we hopw). The girl complained about it to her mom, who shut the kid up. Can’t be looking non-multicultural, eh? But when she took the kid to the hospital for treatment, medical staff wondered how a five-year-old gets a sexually transmitted disease and other indicia of rape by an adult male, and the gaff was stridently blown, leading after a short investigation to a police interview with “Arevelo”.

He admitted to Upper Darby police that he’s also wanted in Ecuador, and other things being equal, he’d just as soon go to jail there, rather than do time in Pennsylvania as a child rapist. “I’m good with that,” Upper Darby Superintendent Michael Chitwood said, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement put a detainer on him, to deport him no later than when the PA legal system finishes with him, which could be after he does his time, or sooner, if there’s an agreement with Ecuador that he’ll do his Pennsylvania time there.

The Philadelphia Daily News blogger Stephanie Farr alternated between calling for his scalp (“there’s not a circle in Hell that he’s worthy of being banished to,” so she must be a recent graduate with Dante on the brain) and floating excuses for him (he’s “barely out of childhood himself”).

But hey, he’s not being banished anywhere now. ¡Graciás al Presidente! ¡Gracias a Jeh Johnson!

What’s the Difference Between Moscow and Washington?

Hint: only one lets you carry a gun in self-defense. And it’s not the one you might think. Russian state-controlled media outlet Russia Today:

Until now Russian gun enthusiasts were only permitted to carry firearms for hunting or target shooting after obtaining a license through the Interior Ministry. Russian gun licenses are to be renewed every five years, and applicants face strict background checks and are required to take gun safety courses.

The addendum to the law now lists self-defense as a legally acceptable reason for carrying a weapon.

Now, they’re not relaxing laws totally in the Wild East. There are still some restrictions, ones that will sound familiar to many licensed carriers in the what Vladimir Vladimirovich learned to call the Glavni Vrag in his days as an intelligence officer:

The government’s press service underscored that carrying a weapon will remain prohibited at educational institutions, establishments which operate at night and serve alcohol, and mass public gatherings such as street demonstrations or protests. The legislation also forbids carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

For many years, pistols were forbidden to ordinary citizens in Russia. But that was then, and this is now:

The law broadly defines self-defense weapons, including smoothbore long barrelled guns, pistols, revolvers, and other firearms, as well as Tasers, and devices equipped with teargas. Long barrelled fire arms and edged weapons are, however, forbidden by the law.

(We suspect that the last sentence means that carrying a rifle or knife for defense is unlawful, but we’re not lawyers, and we’re definitely not Russian lawyers, and taking Russian legal advice from us is a good way to find out how much more pleasant Lefortovo Prison is now than it was in Solzhenitsyn’s day).

RT illustrated their piece with a picture of a display of, mostly, flare and gas guns, a unique Russian adaptation to an earlier, more restrictive law.  You can see them here and here for instance. (In English — Googlish anyway — here and here).

In addition, the amendment softened requirements for foreigners bringing arms into the Russian Federation or purchasing arms on Russian territory. The grace period for foreigners awaiting a license from the Interior Ministry for firearms has been increased from 5 to 10 days.

via ​Russians can now carry guns for ‘self-defense’ — RT News.

A Library of Congress analysis that’s about a year old notes the previous restrictions led to a low level of legal, and a much higher level of black-market, firearms use. There are less than a million rifles in civilian hands legally, then, and no pistols. Restrictions included a first issue of a permit for smooth-bore weapons only; after five years with no incidents, a permit holder could ask for rifle-bore privileges.

Self-defense was already legal under Russian law, what this modification does is liberalize the way in which people are licensed to be armed. As recently as 2012, then-PM Medvedev (generally considered a mouthpiece for Putin) opposed such liberalization.

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free…

Then, there’s Washington, DC that is. And before we tell the story of Washington’s shiny new pistol permit law, we’re going to tell you the story of the Literacy Test in Beauregard County (with apologies to John Ross, from whom we’re pretty sure this example’s stolen).

Well, it was 1952, and there was an election, and  Joe came to the polling place, and got in line behind Ted. Now, Ted was white and Joe was black, which ought not to make a difference to the law, and it sort-of didn’t. But there was a Literacy Test that every voter had to take to ensure that only literate people voted. It was not racist, they pinky-swore, it was just good government.

Who could be against good government? Certainly not Sheriff Buford F. Cruelty, who was the law in Beauregard County personified. The Sheriff handed Ted a newspaper. “Literacy test, sir. Read the headline.”

Ted: “Why, it says, ‘Election Today,’ Sheriff.”

“That it does, sir. Now, you, boy” — he addressed Joe — “Read the headline.”

“But Sheriff, sir! This newspaper is Chinese.

“I didn’t ask you where it was from boy, I said read it. Now what do that headline say?”

“It says, there’s no colored folks voting in Beauregard County today.”

What the Washington Police Department under Chief Cathy Lanier has done is the gun-licensing equivalent of that clown sheriff’s literacy test. No-one not “connected” can succeed.

The way this is done is by requiring training by a Washington Police Department-licensed trainer, and then, by not licensing any trainers. There is only one catch, but it’s Catch-22. Emily Miller explains:


(Hat tip, John Richardson).

Lanier, by the way, devotes much of her limited energy to fighting gun rights in her jurisdiction. She has no discernible interest in closing the city’s thousands of cold homicides (including most of this year’s, of course).

There are so many unsolved murders, and the police department is so incompetent, that they’re not at all sure they list them all, and they appeal to the public to remind them of the murderers their dozing detectives forgot:

The MPD is working to update the Unsolved Murders web page. If your loved one was murdered in DC and their picture does not appear on this web page, please either email us at…. Please provide the name of your loved one and the year they were murdered. If a photo is mailed in, please let us know if we need to return it and include a return address.

Lord love a duck. So she’s not really on top of the unsolved-murder thing, or of pursuing the teeming throngs of violent criminals in certain parts of the city,  but she’s always up for a press conference when the violence spills out of the ghettoes and claims a foreign tourist.

Speaking of which, one more difference between Moscow and Washington: until this law change, only Russian citizens could have guns in Russia… the RT report is unclear but there seem to be some provisions for foreigners to be armed for lawful purposes.

Meanwhile, in the US, this kind of intransigence by bad cops just brings the date of national reciprocity closer. And it might be a century off, but we could see international reciprocity coming in the very long term.

When Guns are Outlawed, they go after Knives

Meat_cleaverAh, yeah. England. Home of a lost gun tradition, plus: Jack the Ripper,  the Yorkshire Ripper, the Suffolk Strangler, and the Moors Murderers, to dredge up a few of Fleet Street’s most colorful epithets for members of the native English criminal class.

Home also to kerb-stomping, football hooliganism, and pathetic imitation biker gangs astride buzzy Vespas.

And some of the strictest gun control on the planet. Plus, rising crime. Unpossible! So, how do they react? A knife ban. And catchy turn-in “amnesties.”

LANCASHIRE Constabulary has joined forces with the ground-breaking national anti-knife crime campaign ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’, as the force’s knife amnesty comes to an end.
Since the amnesty began at the end of August, more than 800 knives have been handed in across the county – including swords, machetes and commando knives. The amnesty was extended for a further week owing to its success.
Lancashire officers have now given their backing to a national initiative designed to raise awareness of knife crime and encourage the surrender of dangerous weapons.

So, what are they going to do with these “dangerous weapons”? Since they’re aping America’s most crime-ridden jurisdictions in the rest of this, the smart money says: weld ‘em up into a rusty, filthy, “public art” eyesore.

The British Ironwork Centre, which is coordinating the project, intends to use the collected knives to create a 20 feet high guardian angel sculpture in memory of those whose lives have so tragically been lost.

angel-guardian1Ding, ding, ding. Of course. A guardian angel. How predictable. How trite.

Ever notice how public art is to art, as public restroom is to your cozy bathroom at home? In both cases, you’re forced to look at someone else’s waste, and you’re paying for the privilege.

In fact, in the early 21st Century, the word “public” as an adjective has come to mean something like “debased” or “squalid,” whether we’re talking about public art, public transportation, public schools — you name it.

Despite the amnesty ending this week, police say people can continue to hand in any knife at any police station with a front counter as well being able to drop them into the designated bins.
Police are looking to keep the bins and extend the number of locations to include job centres, community centres and leisure centres.

Heh. We bet we can predict the relative numbers recoveries from the bins at the “job centres” vis-a-vis the “leisure” ones.

commando knife

The very nation that, with their backs to the ocean, invented the commando knife and made of it a symbol of daring, a badge of excellence, and a legendary calling card of hard men in loyal service to good and just leaders, have now issued a blanket proscription of the thing.

The “Save a Life, Surrender your Knife” campaign is creating and providing bespoke knife collection bins to be located in the cities around the UK.

You only “save a life” if you were planning on stabbing somebody. We could turn in every knife in the place, here, and not a life would be saved. The disheartening fact that a Detective Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police thinks that one might be, suggests that he ought not to be out in public. At least not without some responsible person having signed for him at the desk.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dowson said: “We are keen to raise awareness of the devastating impact of knife crime and to reduce the number of families affected so we have decided to keep the knife bins indefinitely.
While projects encouraging the surrender of knives are not a single solution to violence, they have an important role to play in inspiring communities to get behind education and preventative measures.”

First, they came for the pistols, and I didn’t care because I was a hunter.

Then, they came for the rifles, and I didn’t care, because I had my shotgun.

Then, they came for the shotguns, because the urban diversity were still getting their hands on pistols. But I didn’t care, because it was for the greatest good of the greatest number, and I still had a knife.

Then, they came for the knives, but I gave mine up because these were Top. Men.

Then, they came for me.

via Save a Life – Surrender Your Knife – Lancashire Constabulary.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have teeth

jamesfoster_mugshotNo, that isn’t Austin Powers villain Fat Bastard in the facing mugshot. It’s a character named James Foster, who got bagged Friday after running since August — for biting a guy’s ear off in beautiful downtown Tulsa.

Who does he think he is, Mike Tyson?

An ex-con is facing a maiming charge after allegedly biting off the ear of a male victim during an Oklahoma bowling alley fight that was triggered by a spilled drink, cops report.

James Foster, a 40-year-old convicted felon, was arrested Friday on the felony count and booked into the Tulsa County jail. He was released from custody Saturday after posting $10,200 bond.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the August 31 confrontation began when bowlers on adjacent lanes argued over a drink being spilled on a table that they shared. A group of about seven girls was on one lane, while the other was being used by Chris and Desiree Lyons and their 17-year-old daughter.

“The females eventually left stating that they were going to come back with their boyfriends,” the affidavit notes. When the girls returned, they were accompanied by Foster, an ex-con who has served time for shooting with intent to kill and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Foster is the father of one of the girls who tangled with the Lyons family at The Lanes at Coffee Creek.

A witness told police that Foster began “swinging punches with a closed fist.” During the confrontation, Foster allegedly bit off Chris Lyons’s ear. Lyons, 48, subsequently told investigators that his ear “could not be reattached, that he will have to undergo plastic surgery and skin grafting to repair the damage caused by the defendant.”

Police noted that the Lyons family was fearful that Foster “will find them again and retaliate for the charges sought.”

While cops sought to arrest Foster soon after the fight, they were unable to locate him. After being pulled over for speeding Friday, Foster was arrested on the outstanding maiming warrant. Foster is scheduled for a November 21 Tulsa District Court hearing. (2 pages)

via Ex-Con Bit Off Man’s Ear During Bowling Brawl | The Smoking Gun.

That’s the Smoking Gun’s version of the story, and they have the affidavit,  which makes Foster look even worse, if that’s possible.

In the first place, it appears that the teen slattern who precipitated the fight, and said she’d get her boyfriend… is Foster’s daughter. (And girlfriend? Anything’s possible in Lifestyles of the Criminal and Impetuous™). And then, there’s the fact that Foster didn’t start with his gnawing victim, but started out in the very manly way that he learned as Cletus’s date in the State Pen, beating on another teenage girl. It was when Lyons (the victim) interceded that Foster bit his ear off. Lyons recovered his ear, but doctors couldn’t put it back on.

The affidavit closes:

James Thomas Foster, on or about 8/31/2014, in Tulsa County, State of Oklahoma and within the jurisdiction of this court, did commit the crime of MAIMING, a Felony, by unlawfully, feloniously, willfully and intentionally with a premeditated design to injure one Chris Lyons did then and there inflict upon the person of the said Chris Lyons injuries which disfigured his appearance by then and there biting part of Chris Lyons ear off, with the unlawful and felonious intent then and there on the part of said defendant to injure, maim and commit mayhem on the body of the said Chris Lyons,

Contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State.

Sometimes there is a certain majesty in the forms of the law. Even if there’s barely any humanity in the behavior the laws are arrayed against.

Two views of the M4 can’t both be true

One is expressed by Tom Kratman, a science fiction author who uses an appeal to authority based on his service as some kind of support guy attached to 5th Group as an enlisted dude, and more credibly his time as an 11A (that’s an infantry officer for those of you whose brains remain undamaged by the Army encoding Tom and we have undergone). Tom retired as an infantry LTC and served as an infantry officer in combat, and you can assume he’s well experienced in the capabilities and employment of standard US weapons for the last 20+ years.

Worked for us.

Tom doesn’t like it, but it worked for us.

Tom thinks the M4 sucks like an Electrolux. That’s our paraphrase of the blog posts suspended by these click-bait headlines at some Gawker-looking lowbrow site1:

America’s Soldiers Deserve a Better Rifle

Are U.S. Soldiers Dying From Inadequate Weapons?

Go read them and see if he makes his case.

The other is expressed by firearms expert and TFB writer Nathaniel Finch, who writes in his own blog a careful and thoughtful rebuttal to Tom’s over-the-top position. In fact, he has written very nearly the article we would write, and thought about writing, when we saw Tom’s first article. Only better and more soberly. (We actually didn’t know about the second Kratman article until seeing it linked at Nate’s place).

Are U.S. Soldiers Dying From Inadequate Weapons? No.

We note that Nathaniel’s article gets a rather snippy comment from Tom, correcting him on fine points of Tom’s military service (which Nathaniel is only mistaken about because Tom has not been crystal clear to a non-Army person in his own description. In Tom’s defense it is extremely hard to encapsulate a 20- or 30-year military career in a form civilians will read and understand, let alone in the length you get in a typical online bio: one line).  And then Tom incorrectly refers to “Bennings claim that no improvement in rifles is possible,” in reference to tests that actually concluded that the particular weapons it was testing, at that time, did not offer enough improvement to justify the expense (and, don’t forget, risk) of changing weapons.

Tom knows how to a construct an argument, but he really doesn’t, he just says, I got this:

CIB Combat Infantryman Badge

Well, so do we, but that doesn’t mean we have to take long showers together.

Nathaniel responds rationally to the comment.

And then he gets a comment by some internet commando who asserts that various friendly Armies have taken the great leap forward to 1950s vintage 7.62 rifles (he’s probably misunderstanding the same nations’ adoption of limited numbers of designated marksman rifles) and that the US needs to go to the SCAR-H. As a retired member of one of the formations that received the SCARs early and used them in intensive training and combat (after my retirement!), the word I get is that it’s pretty good and the guys like it, for specific purposes (notably CQB with the short barrel). But it’s not a great leap forward over an M4. For some purposes, it’s great, but the idea of buying a million plus of them to reequip the Joes is silly… it’s a lot of money spent on a negligible improvement in capability.

(And that’s our experience. The Ragnars hated ‘em, although, we’ve heard that some old SGMs gave them to the young bucks with the instruction, “See if you can break these things.” Boy, that’s a lucky break not every private in the Regiment gets. Of course they broke them).

Right now, the M4 can hit beyond the range its average operators can, and giving them a caliber with more range isn’t going to whack any more bad guys. Some improvements in terminal ballistics would be nice. Some improvements in reliability? Any engineer will tell you that as long as initial design was not inept, getting from 90% to 98% is a slam dunk, 98 to 99.9% is a bunch of hard work, and every 9 you add to the right of the decimal point after that is going to cost you orders of magnitude more blood, sweat, tears and toil. Diminishing returns not only pounce on you, they maul you with fang and claw and leave you drained of your precious lifeblood — that is, money.

None of the would-be M4 replacements were significantly more reliable (despite internet bloviation on the subject, caused by release of an apples-v-oranges comparison). The things people are attracted to, like 7.62 NATO or a short-stroke gas system, do not meaningfully improve the weapon (except marginally in terminal ballistics). More effect would be had by going to an improved projectile and be damned to the Staff Judge Advocate — he’s enemy-forces anyway.

Until they invent the death ray or photon torpedoes or something, we’re going to be launching metallic projectiles using energy stored in solid chemicals and released by a combustion or maybe deflagration process. Yes, they can be improved, but we’re into that flattening asymptotic line… diminishing returns.

Now, on the gripping hand, some of Tom’s military science fiction is very good. He had a moving novel (or is it a novelette?) recently about the memories of a damaged and outdated sentient tank of the future as she undergoes the process of assessment and reutilization. That had a whiff of Heinlein and more than a whiff of Philip K. Dick to it, and was well worth the pittance Kindle charged for it, and the rather more-precious time expended reading it, so we’ll keep enjoying the science fiction end of Tom Kratman’s writing career, and keep reading his military weapons opinions skeptically.


1. Gawker-looking? Well, these are the links suggested to us at the top of Tom Kratman’s author page on that site today (in fairness, these are not Tom’s own submissions, all of which have more sober military subject matter and graphics. But they illustrate the advertising-eyeballs nature of the site):

Screenshot 2014-11-18 08.13.00‘Cause nothing says military professionalism like bimbo clickbait. Really, who’s the sideboob here?


When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have screwdrivers

Cat-Looks-ShockedIf you’re a cat hater, you’re cool with that, because the “victim” in this case is a cat — and a cat even cat lovers might hate, as it was not, ahem, using the litter box. Still, you have to love Massachusetts. The lady woman in question is liable to a 5-years-in-State-Pen felony for what the reporter amusingly calls “felicide,” but for assaulting her daughter is only charged with a misdemeanor A&B that usually nets 30 days or less in the county house, or a one-year probation.

A Dudley woman who allegedly used a screwdriver to stab her family’s incontinent pet cat to death Thursday was released on $200 bail after being charged with animal cruelty.

Michelle E. Stegenga, 37, of Shepherd Avenue was arraigned Friday in Dudley District Court after her daughter went to police and reported that her mother had killed the cat and later tussled with her.

Police, according to court documents, went to the Stegenga home and spoke with Ms. Stegenga, who told them she was frustrated because “the cat was peeing on everyone’s clothes, ruining them.”

You can see where this might get old for the housekeeper who launders those clothes. Still, she’s looking like, at least, an anger management failure.

She allegedly told police she used her husband’s screwdriver to kill the cat.

This is one of those things. If she had taken the cat to a vet and had it put down, Massachusetts law wouldn’t care. Kind of like the difference in Massachusetts law between bearing a kid at Planned Parenthood and having it whacked during delivery, or delivering it at home and whacking it yourself. Or the difference between the cops whacking a Wealth Redistribution Specialist® (or a bystander negligently struck whilst engaging said Wealth Redistribution Specialist®), which is A-OK in the Bay State, and you whacking the same individual in your foyer, which the state views as barbarous vigilantism). The state tends to privilege the arm’s length, carried-out-by-trained-professionals approach, and discourage, er, self-help in these things. After all, laws exist to benefit the political class over the working schmoes.

Police wrote that they found the cat buried in the backyard but were unable to find the screwdriver used in the felicide.

Without the murder weapon, she can probably get off — if she pays enough to a lawyer. Another way the political class lines its own pockets.

Police also informed the state Department of Children and Families because there were other children in the household.

Yeah, and the DCF has a really good record. (Some of the meatiest stories are on the third and fourth page of those google results — that’s how bad it is, and how long it’s been bad for).

Under state law, a person convicted of animal cruelty can be sentenced to not more than 5 years in state prison or 2½ years in the house of correction or fined $2,500. Anyone convicted is also prohibited from working in occupations that require them to be in contact with animals.

via Dudley woman allegedly stabbed cat to death – Worcester Telegram & Gazette –

She should have let the cat go, used the screwdriver on her daughter, and explained it was just a 35th-trimester “termination”.

The Joys of Shop Improvement

So, after having a cop buddy warn us off fluorescents that are also used as “grow lamps” (“You’ll never get the DEA to stop bugging your phone and reading your mail after that”)  we settled for LED lamps, and bought a pair of GE lamps.

Loaded them in the truck. Got them home. out of the garage, up the stairs, across the length of the Manor, down the stairs, around the corner, onto the bench. Unpack the lights.

Simple as they come. The light has two cables, and there are two cable anchors that go with it, in a little bag of parts.

In one of the two brand-new GE light units.

So there’s an 800 number on the instruction sheet. Can we get replacement anchors? “Your call is important to us,” a machine lies. “Our usual hours are Monday to Friday….” Lord love a duck, it’s Friday now. Sumdood’ll be answering his phone three days from now. Maybe.

So we google up the unit and see if the anchors are available separately. If so, Amazon can get them here before GE can get off its dead ass and answer their phones. But no joy; you either get the anchors, or you don’t. Dumb us for buying this product!

We could return them to the big-box store, where they were the last two on the shelf. And get something else, or go to another store.

Here’s a Shocker (not): Red Cross Squandered Disaster Donations

Hurricane Sandy press conference, CEO McGovern in front of trucks pulled from relief efforts to be her backdrop.

Potemkin Relief exposed at a Hurricane Sandy press conference, CEO McGovern in front of trucks pulled from relief efforts to be her backdrop.

When someone says non-profit, our impluse is to reach for a revolver. While the term conjures, for many Americans, mental images of saintly do-gooders, the cold hard fact is that the bigger the non-profit, the more the top ranks are Political Class insiders running the soi-disant charity for personal gain.

Take the Red Cross. A recent report from the left-wing journalistic organization ProPublica savages the non-profit for its incompetent and corrupt mishandling of Hurricane Sandy relief.

At ProPublica, it’s baby duck day, but does anybody beyond the down-on-his-cheeks stage remember the ARC’s response to 9/11? It collected a fortune — and sat on it, to the extent that its vast army of headquarters drones didn’t award it to one another. Remember the Red Cross’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Neither do many of the displaced and ruined victims, because the ARC sent empty trucks and staged empty press events. Its focus was, as always, on raising money — it raises, and blows, a billion a year, whether there’s a disaster or not.

In fact, the Red Cross brass welcome disasters, because there’s nothing like some photogenic devastation to tentpole a fund-raising campaign.

Hurricane Sandy led to a fund-raising windfall of almost $400 million. But very little was spent on actual relief, something obvious to people on the ground:

“The Red Cross would have been helpful if it had offered food, water, shelter, cleaning supplies, blankets,” says Rich Wieland, whose house in Toms River, New Jersey was flooded and whose neighborhood lost power for 16 days. His first contact with the charity came two months after the storm when Red Cross workers finally called to offer aid. “It was too little, too late.”
Richard Sturiale, who saw the basement and first floor of his home in the Rockaways destroyed by flooding, recalls that “the only Red Cross truck my neighbors or I saw came two weeks after the storm.” In contrast, he says, Mormon and Amish volunteers “appeared at my doorstep offering much-needed help” just three days after Sandy.

There were plenty of Red Cross trucks, but they were assigned at the personal direction of vastly overpaid CEO Gail McGovern for fund-raising PR duty, standing in the background of press conferences.

That’s the Red X for you: jet-setting to the scene of a disaster — for a fundraising photo op.

Yesterday ProPublica was back with news of an employee survey that found that 39% of employees trusted “senior leadership,” i.e. McGovern and cronies, and only 60% were comfortable with the organization’s ethics.

….[The] survey, which was conducted by IBM, notes that other companies scored better on the questions about trust. About 20 percent of respondents at other companies expressed concern about their organization’s ethics, compared with nearly 40 percent for the Red Cross survey

The charity condemned the journalists for investigating it. Earlier this year, they hired an expensive law firm to conduct a scorched-earth fight against disclosing where the Sandy money went (a fight that was partially successful). Spokeswoman Anna Maria Borrego said at the time that information documenting the charity’s penchant for blowing relief money on fundraising and image-polishing activities was…

proprietary information important to maintaining our ability to raise funds and fulfill our mission.

Here’s a link to ProPublica’s complete Red X coverage.

The Red Cross, in fact, as a hierarchical, centralized, command-driven large enterprise is a lot like military units: a lot depends on the character of the person at the top. The last several people at the top have been the kind that ran the org with a view to their personal bottom lines. It shows.