Monthly Archives: April 2014

What’s in Your Harassment Package?

The SEALs are being driven out, in part, by Navy leaders’ relentless social-issue focus. Not just SEALs either, although the original message, posted to US Naval Institute discussion board by a serving officer, noted that the SEALs have just had their worst retention year ever, with most of the naval special operations element’s junior officers saying no to staying in service. (Officer and enlisted first-term retention tend to show similar trends). Across the Navy’s warfare communities, two-thirds or more of qualified officers are exiting at the six-to-ten-year point, so unhappy with naval service that they leave one third to one half of a pension on the table (military pensions do not vest; there is no benefit for an officer or enlisted service member who leaves before 20 years).

What’s Got the Community Talking?

Commander Guy M. Snodgrass’s post, and the 24-page paper on which it’s based, mentions SEALs only in passing — Snodgrass is an aviator, and one who was on the rocket to higher command prior to writing this paper. It’s a well-written paper — he was ADM Greenert’s speechwriter before throwing his career away by questioning his lords and betters. (If you can’t download the paper from the website, you can get it here).

Navy-Officer-Manning-White-Paper.pdf

Snodgrass’s paper was then picked up by Rowan Scarborough, a Pentagon reporter who has excellent sources down there at the puzzle palace. Scarborough keyed on the social-issues aspect, which is a small part (as you can see) of a much wider-ranging paper. Scarborough, though, has a Beltway reach that the Naval Institute does not.

Snodgrass mentions enlisted problems from time to time, but his focus is on officer retention. He cites these as the main problems:

  1. prolonged high optempo leading to ever-increasing deployment lengths
  2. a perceived improving economy, offering attractive alternatives to career service
  3. the changing character of a younger generation, less tolerant of what the SAS calls “sickeners” and Snodgrass calls the Navy’s “harassment package,” and,
  4. loss of confidence in “senior leadership,” meaning political appointees and admirals who curry favor up and pass contempt down as if they were political appointees.

Snodgrass has a target-rich environment in looking at the Navy’s personnel problems and “harassment package,” and what makes it interesting to us is not just its SEAL angle, but that it also reflects the situation in the other services, although the Navy has some peculiarities, like its frequent public repudiations of commanding officers, and a ridiculous written exam for ship command that, far from the tactical grilling of the 19th-Century Royal Navy promotion boards, or Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru challenge, focuses on petty regulations and personnel matters. “The Navy,” Snodgrass writes with palpable distaste, “has effectively produced quality commanding officers throughout its 239-year history. Officers are screened for command potential throughout their entire career…” The exam, then is “pro forma and provide[s] little value…” it’s an “administrative burden.” There are 2,500 pages of required reading for the exam, much of it dry administrative regs of no use to anyone but the Navy’s dominant personnel officers.

What’s in Your Harassment Package?

The command exam is a uniquely Navy ingredient. So are some others, like the Navy’s propensity to promote officers non-selected for command or other milestone ahead of the selectees. But some other elements of the Harassment Package are more universal to the services today.

  • Unwillingness to listen to and act on officer and sailor feedback.
  • The Orwellian Reduction of Administrative Distractions team under RADM Herman Shelanski that “needs to redirect their attention to the reduction of administrative distractions, not adding more into the Navy.”
  • Explosive increase in meaningless and burdensome check-the-box annual training.
  • Multiple low-quality, time-sucking and inconvenient personnel-management websites, with multiple independent logins, which defeat security by making sailors write down the numerous passwords.
  • Limited educational opportunities, and promotional punishment for those who pursue them.
  • Efforts wasted pursuing 100% solutions to insoluble problems, like suicide. This does not save the few who suicide but wastes millions of man-hours of the many who never will, and insults their intelligence into the bargain (repeat to the nth power for thou-shalt-not-rape classes, do-not-give-Boris-your-computer-password training, thou-shalt-not-drink, etc). Snodgrass observes that “The perception is that these efforts are not undertaken because they are incredibly effective, but rather because of significant political and public oversight.”
  • Disinterest by senior leaders in, and nonavailability to lower-level leaders of, retention metrics. We’d expand that to “disinterest by senior leaders in subordinates, period.”
  • Nonavailability of optempo information to officers and sailors. This could be trivially added to the leave and earnings statement (pay stub, for you civilians).
  • Suppression of unit-level distinctive uniform items. “Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.” We would add that these kinds of traditions tend to evolve organically and they fail when there is an attempt to impose them from on high.

The whole thing adds up to this, in Snodgrass’s view: “We are competing with global demand to retain our best, brightest, and most talented officers – and we cannot afford to simply let them walk away.”

If it’s that, or change, what do you think Navy bosses are going to do?

He hit “send.” And Then What Happened?

What happened is that Snodgrass’s post went viral, in the Navy and armed services. The influential Commander Salamander blog covered it. We received it several times via various public and private SOF fora, and it’s still going around at least one senior-officer email chain. And, as mentioned above, Rowan Scarborough picked it up, focusing narrowly on the social-issues problem, which is a very small part of Snodgrass’s complaint array, although it is the major focus of the command right now. (The CNO’s personnel plan? He calls it his Diversity Vision for E-Ring buzzword compliance).

The consensus is that Snodgrass’s career has taken a hit, but he’s already screened for and enroute to the XO position at VA-195 in Atsugi. The Navy’s unlikely to solve the optempo problem anytime soon — their plan is to be Boxer the horse in Animal Farm, greeting expanded demands and shrinking ship totals with the mantra, “I will work harder.” Except, coming from the admirals in the E-Ring, it’s more like, “You will work harder.” How’d that work out for ol’ Boxer?

One of the senior officers commented:

Our military is no longer a fitting place for warriors. The good news is that warriors are not made by the military. Warriors are made by God and the parents and mentors He gave them in their youth. …. When freedom must be defended by warriors, they will come as they have throughout America’s history when tyrants were inside the wire. It will not be DoD that collects them as DoD no longer guards freedom. Warriors will not have DoD policy shoved up their asses as a prerequisite to defending their freedom. Their only prerequisite is the will to be free.

Other comments:

Every warrior today must question how his or her life is spent by the government. Is it to bring about an “Arab Spring” that elevates Muslim Brotherhood and al  Qaeda for greater oppression of the Middle East? Is it to stand around in a clueless gaggle while our embassy is being overrun and our ambassador killed? Is it to be subjected unarmed to the jihad of an enemy wearing our uniform, allowed to knowingly communicate with muslim terrorists until the day he pulls the trigger on our soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar”?

and

Part of the problem lies in utter misunderstanding of the warrior ethos, honor and motivation on the part of BUPERS (that big barn of booger eaters). Warriors don’t give a rat’s ass about social issues. They join the military to bring a credible deterrence to those who would encroach our freedom. They don’t seek to die for their country needlessly, but they are willing to die for their freedom if required. That’s what separates warriors from jihadists. The warriors are being driven off….

The comments at Salamander went in another direction, as his readers are disproportionately the very junior officers whose voting-with-feet was the subject of Snodgrass’s study:

As an Officer who left the Navy before going into zone before the next promotion board, I can speak to the reason why I left the Navy. The requirements to support the diversity bullshit, and the NKO mouse and click cover your ass trafficking in humans and red light greenlight crap, simply were out of sort for me. I didn’t NEED this training and I didn’t NEED to pretend I supported it when I don’t. MY Sailors were well led. They were insulated by me from a lot of the bullshit. It was my job to be the filter. Well the filter got full. We started shifting resources into bullshit NON VALUED directorates, like Task Force Uniform, Task Force Excel, and then we started group punishments.

And

My XO told me to SHUT UP when I publicly questioned the need to do an all day “stand-down” to undergo sexual harassment training (post-Tailhook) that was clearly designed for a 2-sexed environment….as a single sexed environment wasn’t this a waste of time? It was. We wasted an entire day pounding a square peg into a tiny round hole.

Yeah, in the Army, in SF, which is an all-male community, we had SH bullshit day-long ordeals at that time, too, thanks to Tailhook’s media/Congressional high profile.

Again, we’ve said before and we’ll say again, there’s nothing wrong with this generation, there’s just some ate-up individuals out there. And there are some ate-up senior leaders there in all the services.

The Scarborough article is a month old. It’s still circulating among aviators, special operators, and current and retired senior field grade and general/flag officers. (We’ve seen it in, or had it forwarded from, all three channels over this past weekend).

UPDATE

The Navy has just canned the commander of the Blue Angels. Why? Because the Blues had “an atmosphere rife with sexually explicit speech, the open display of pornography and jokes about sexual orientation.”  Based on an unsupported claim by an enlisted former squadron member of some navally-privileged race/sex/orientation. (The Washington Post, where that story appears, has led the Social Justice War on the military and been a huge booster of women in the military, to include completely fabricating stories of female heroism — the Post’s story of Jessica Lynch, Warrior Amazon was an unsourced tale completely fabricated by Post reporters Vernon Loeb, Susan Schmidt, and Dana Priest).

Badass, circa 1914

The USA was one of the first nations to adopt a light machine gun, the Benet-Mercie Machine Rifle of 1909. It was a Hotchkiss man-portable, gas-operated, strip-fed gun and was never very reliable, but the sheer novelty of a machine gun that one man could carry and and a crew of two put into action in ordinary military operations carried it into the inventory. (Cycle cavalry picture below from ForgottenWeapons.com).

Benet-Mercier-Machine-Rifle-on-harley

Indeed, the Army was so taken with its portability that they replaced at least some of the far superior, but 170-plus-pound, 1905 Maxims with it. Its unreliability was an issue when troops loyal to Mexican rebel Pancho Villa invaded Columbus, NM, and none of the Benet guns (as they were called for short) was able to sustain fire. During those lean-budget years the USA bought very few machine guns, and the handful of Benets would be replaced by a reversion to the Maxim system with the Vickers gun (which was less than half the weight of its Maxim forebear, in part by using little more than half of the water coolant, 7 1/2 pints instead of 7 quarts — for metricated readers, a quart is loosely approximate to a liter [~1.06Q] and a pint is half a quart).

In Machine Guns (1917), Julian S. Hatcher discusses the emplacement, operation and maintenance of the B-M at some length, including inspecting it for all the things that could go wrong, and clearing all the practically clearable stoppages and jams. He also has numerous photos, including this one, which shows the B-M to best advantage:

Screenshot 2014-04-27 16.01.50

The accompanying text explains what the two badass bolos, a knife which the Army had adopted after the Philippines wars, are doing behind the bipod — or “barrel rest” as the Army called it — of the Benet-Mercie. The bolos are probably the 1910 model (they’re either that or the 1917, and the book was published in 1917, making one wonder about the lead time of the picture. Also, the 1917 has plastic grips, these appear to be the 1910 wood).

The Use of Bolos to Steady the Barrel Rest :

When the Benet Gun is used on the field mount the front legs may be moved in cocking the gun, loading, or reducing a jam. This accident, which will cause a serious loss of time owing to the necessity of resetting the barrel rest and relaying the gun, can be prevented by driving a pair of bolos behind the barrel rest legs, as shown by the photograph.

The Benet was sighted — or “laid,” in the quasi-artillery terminology of early machine gun experts — using either iron sights or the Warner & Swasey prismatic telescope, which was also used (with, we believe, a different reticle) as a sniper sight on Springfield rifles. It was fed from the right, using flat cartridge strips of the Hotchkiss design, and fired the standard US .30-06 M1 ball round. The feed strips were finicky and needed to be “sized” from time to time with a special tool, which itself had to be set to .05″ — for which Hatcher suggested using a penny, as the common coin was just the right thickness. He also recommended a blank-firing adapter, which needed specially loaded blanks to make the gun operate.

The leather strap from the bipod (“barrel rest” through the trigger guard around to tension the other “barrel rest” leg was called a “latigo strap,” a familiar term to horsemen (it’s a strap used to cinch a Western saddle girth, made from a particular type of leather, like this strap). Latigo leather was well-suited to being used outdoors in all weathers. Later LMGs would tension their bipod legs with slings, but the Benet was in the vanguard of the new concept.

Another modern feature first found on the Benet gun was a removable barrel. (The next gun to have it was the 1914 version of the Colt potato-digger). The assistant gunner could change the barrel with thick gloves if it had become to hot. He was also advised to drip water on the barrel using a sponge that was part of the gunner’s kit, or even to dunk the muzzle in water, if available. Hatcher again:

If water is available the barrel should be cooled after about 300 rounds have been fired. This is done by applying water to the radiator of the barrel with the cooling sponge. An other method of cooling, which is very effective when circumstances permit it, is to lift the gun up and dip the muzzle into a cup or bucket of water. The formation of steam will cause the water to geyser up through the barrel, cooling it rapidly. In case water is not available, the barrel should be changed after about 500 rounds, if practicable. If it is impracticable to cool the gun or change barrels, 1000 consecutive rounds may be fired without permanently injuring the gun.

The British called essentially the same weapon the Hotchkiss Portative, and they and the US were the main users of this early LMG design. The British version had a small tripod under the forearm instead of the American “barrel rest” and latigo strap arrangement.

Britain rapidly replaced it with the Lewis during World War I. The Lewis was more reliable and had a better feed mechanism, more stable head space, and far superior cooling.

Ian at Forgotten Weapons has a video disassembly of a Portative, and a period manual.

Sundaycompression….

That’s what’s going on around here today.

Last week, we had an entrepreneurship competition to judge, and a foursome of successful old (well, in our forties through sixties) curmudgeons sat at a table and weighed the presentations of five students selected from a longlist of nine based on written presentations. The presentations were all extremely good — head and shoulders above last years’, which were all good.

People who bemoan the youth of today must not be seeing the kids we’ve seen, either in the service or here. They’re as great as any generation, when they apply themselves, and they’re not shy about applying themselves. We were impressed to learn that one of the candidates had poor English just a few years ago and conducted an intensive english language program before starting his classes. The students before us were, in part, students who took a business-entrepreneurship class, and in part, students from other colleges with good ideas.

Four of the five shortlisters happened to be doing some kind of app development, and a couple of them had app ideas that we would use — and so would you. Every idea had a hole in it somewhere, and we found and worried at that hole a bit and saw how the young men and women reacted to that.

The jurors included a consultant, a life coach, a manufacturer, and a sales EVP, all of whom live startup or growth-phase enterprise every day. We’ll give each of the contestants some advice. Normally the top three win cash prizes, we had a tie and another special circumstance this year that required some creative planning.

We feel pretty good about it, overall. It’s good for the school, good for the business department to tie some of that theory into the real world of making real money, good for the kids, and frankly, it’s good for us, too.

So we will not get up to too much today. Tomorrow, the whirlwind starts again.

Saturday Matinee 2014 17: Non-Stop (2014)

non-stop neeson dvdOK: here’s the thing. This is supposedly an English-language, high-budget remake of a French anti-American propaganda film, which explains a great deal. The producers? America-hating Frenchmen and Hollywood denizens (same thing, practically).

The director? An America-hating Spaniard. Actors: a mixed bag. The bad guys? A 9/11 victim’s son — yeah, they went there — who is a veteran, what else, and another veteran, what else. After all, we’ve seen a worldwide epidemic of people blowing stuff up and they’ve all turned out to be veterans trying to frame some innocent goat herder named Mohammed… oh, wait.

This is the bad guy.

This is the bad guy, the 9/11 victim’s son who’s going to avenge dad with a terror attack of his own. Which you’ll figure out about 15 minutes in. It continues to puzzle Neeson’s character, though.

The first guy is motivated by anti-government rage, and the second, well, what are all soldiers motivated by, if you’re a Hollywood screenwriter who hasn’t had a family member in the service since they started letting cowards manipulate deferments? Why, of course, money, just like all those mercenaries out on the ramparts now. He wants money so badly he’ll suicide-bomb a plane for it, which indicates how deeply these writers thought about their characters’ motivations.

This is the other bad guy. You pick up on that as soon as Neeson meets him.

This is the other bad guy, the soldier committing a suicide attack for money. You pick up on that as soon as Neeson meets him, even before the other guy.

The suspense? None, once you realize that the bad guys are going to be the ones the director and scriptwriters hate, and anybody who looks like a real terrorist — like the guy in the jihad mandress and wifebeater beard — is really a good guy. If you are on to Hollywood’s inverted value system, you’ll nail this.

Of course, the 9/11-son-turned-soldier-turned-crazed-hijacker gets up shot in the head by Neeson, in jet’s-death-plunge-slow-mo, and his dumb-mercenary-sidekick gets hoist by his own petard, pretty literally, as a bomb that provides one of the plot points in his illogical plot blows him into the ether.

The plot is one of those gimmicky forced-suspense things that hits every Save The Cat! beat to the second, making a movie already based on a dull concept a predictable as crotch rot after three weeks in the field.

It has unfortunately been a box-office success, and unfortunately was still hanging on in theaters when we were looking for some non-chick-flick to see.

Well, it is that. It is a non-chick-flick. Of course, it’s also repulsive anti-American and anti-military propaganda. The entire audience, about seven people at this late date, groaned at the end, but then we were in a town where people go to the airbase to greet soldiers returning from overseas. Without meaning to spit on them. So here, it’s a groaner. Maybe it was big in Ithaca and Cambridge.

Acting and Production

non-stop neeson 3Liam Neeson, whiose career is coasting on the fumes of Schindler’s List as a “serious actor,” is certainly more salable as an action hero than some of the losers that Hollywood has tried to foist on us over the years. He was good in The Grey, but then he had animatronic wolves as co-stars; it was hard not to stand out.

Here, Neeson’s character is one of a team of two air marshals, but his partner’s role ends rapidly with the character’s murder. By Neeson’s character. Because the other air marshal was smuggling cocaine. Sure, they do that all the time.

Neeson’s character, Bill Marks, has issues, entirely apart from mouthing lines from screenwriters whose gage of dialog authenticity is other bad action films. The issues can basically be summed up as the character being a dislikable, boozehound loser. And Neeson stays in character. You never really like him. Of course, as the movie wobbles towards its contrived conclusion, you quickly figure out who the “real” bad guys are, and then you start to really dislike him.

We’re going to give the next few Neeson releases a pass in the theaters. If these are the scripts he’s picking, he needs to be sent to the Netflix penalty box for a while.

Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery have thin female roles. About all you can say for them is that Moore has not aged well.

The bulk of the movie is Neeson changing directions and chasing red herrings as he suspects everybody on the plane, except the actual doers and the guy in the jihad clothes, whom even the booze-soaked Bill Marks realizes can’t be a terrorist in the movies, because he’s an Arab.

The production is the usual 2014 overdone montage of jerky camera angles, gratuitous slow-mo (“I heard Peckinpah did this, I gotta watch one of his films sometime”) and bad, TV-Movie-of-the-Week CGI.

Accuracy and Weapons

The key weapons in the movie are the guns of the the air marshals, the terrorist’s (the veterans’, remember, one of whom is a 9/11 family member) bomb, and their — we are not making this up — blowgun and its darts. They use the blowgun to shoot the pilot in his cockpit (through a hole in the lav wall) and to kill another inconvenient person, using a poison that is just like curare, except it’s delayed-action. “But such a poison does not exist!” the medically savvy among you may not. Well, it’s at least as common as 9/11 victims who hijack planes — in Hollywood’s fevered brains, at least.

The Air Marshal guns are correctly depicted as SIGs, although this may have changed since the last time I checked. Neeson’s partner has the right SIG, a 229, and Neeson has a similar but wrong stainless 226.

At one point, the director manipulates the physics so that the 229 and Neeson are falling through space in different directions. (This is where Neeson gets the shot and, whilst flying through the air, nails the 9/11 victim’s son in the head). Sorry, chico, gravity is not just a good idea, it’s the Law. That scene is offensive to everyone who made it through about sixth grade science. Galileo. Cannonballs. When does the eight pounder catch the four pounder? It also suffered from creeping Tarantinomia, namely, all time slows down except for the physical actions of the fifty-something star. You expect to see physics tortured in the Star Trek franchise, not an overproduced B-script actioner.

The bomb and its effects are particularly phony and fake. It generates a fireball and a ring of fire around the perimeter of the damage it causes. (In Hollywood, script problems are frequently handled with ignited gasoline. They should have put the gasoline on the script this time). Just one more example of the “terrifying” CGI that will bring a laugh out of you.

The bottom line

Non-Stop sucks like a cosmic merger of Oreck and Electrolux, raised to the power of the vacuum of interstellar space. Yes, it’s that bad.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • Amazon.com DVD page:

(For preorder. But please don’t). http://www.amazon.com/Non-Stop-Julianne-Moore/dp/B00HLTD3ZW/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_dvd

  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2024469/

  • IMFDB page:

http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Non-Stop

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

Yep, it’s rotten: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/non_stop_2013/

  • Wikipedia  page:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Stop_(film)

OT: Goat, the Other Other White Meat

roast goatCats have a reason to relax in Vermont now. Immigrant communities that resist culinary assimilation as much as they resist other American mores like working for a living, maintaining personal hygiene or respecting others’ personal property, now have access to low-cost goat, the other other white meat.

In our perambulations hither and yon globally, we’ve noticed that communities that dine on goat tend to be communities with extremely low mean IQs. Now, we can’t say which way the arrow of causation points: perhaps eating goat is just a stupid thing to do, and stupid is what stupid does, as Forrest’s mama tells us. Or perhaps eating goat makes you stupid.

But the goat eaters seem to come from societies that have yet to bless us with an astrophysicist or neurosurgeon. Fortunately you need not understand orbital mechanics to live the nasty, brutish, solitary and short life of a stone age savage, and it’s your God-given right to bring that life to our shores, and be supported for life by the square old folks with their jobs and taxes.

This will end well. Well, maybe not for the goats:

The half dozen kids – that is, baby goats – that arrived last week at Pine Island Farm were the latest additions to the Vermont Goat Collaborative, a project that brings together new Americans hungry for goat meat with dairy goat farmers who have no need for young male animals. Some dairy farmers who otherwise would discard bucklings at birth or spend valuable time finding homes for them now can send them to Colchester, where they will be raised and sold to refugees, some of whom have spent full days traveling to Boston or New Hampshire for fresh goat, or have settled for imported frozen meat.

Note that the newly approved Associated Press term for border-crashing welfare leeches is in full effect: “undocumented worker” having lost its euphemistic value for a population that’s infamously work-shy, they’re now “new Americans.” After all, the AP likes them better than the old, working Americans.

Naturally, when you find a pile of stupid, your first impulse is to pull out a shovel and start digging, because there has to be a community organizer here somewhere. And indeed there is, in the very next graf, a community organizer who’s found a grifting middleman position in bumming goats off farmers and then selling them to the assimilation resisters.

When community organizer Karen Freudenberger realized that the roughly 6,000 new Americans from southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere living in the Burlington area were buying what amounted to 3,000 goats a year from Australia and New Zealand, she saw an opportunity. Since some of them had been farmers raising goats in their native countries, why couldn’t they do it in Vermont, prized for its working landscape and locally raised foods?

via New Americans turn to goats to address food demand – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG.

One problem yet to be solved is the seasonality of goat production. The kids born in the spring are ready for slaughter in the fall, and we can’t expect delicate palates accustomed to fresh artisanal goat to lower themselves to imported meat, which, as we’ve already seen, they prefer not to do. But as it is, the goat supply is highly seasonal.

Now, have you ever eaten goat? We have. There are three reasons to do so, if you were raised on real, palatable meat:

  1. In the absence of any other sort of protein;
  2. to ingratiate yourself with the proto-savages whose custom is to eat it;
  3. once, out of idle curiosity.

It’s true, some places consider it a delicacy. A rural restaurant in Jamaica, for instance, often charges more for jerked goat than jerked chicken, but trust us, unless you’re executing #3 above, get the chicken (“jerked” is not a reference to the common verb “to jerk” nor is it to “jerky,” it is merely a spice preparation, and it’s quite good).

Goat meat is stringy, has an unpleasant taste, and comes attached to grim-looking grey bones. It is beastly stuff. But apparently a captive caprine is absolutely necessary for the roadside Santeria ceremonies of some of our “vibrant” immigrant communities. From an Ohio State University paper:

The birth of a baby is reason for a traditional cultural and religious ceremony in the Muslim faith. Somalis are encouraged to get a live goat and sacrifice it to celebrate the baptism of their child. They purchase and kill the goats on the farm by slitting the throat, and dress the carcass themselves. The group indicated that they have a connection with a producer in Mansfield, OH that provides the goats for these celebrations. The parents of the child go to the farm and select the goat, which is then killed (sacrificed) in order to baptize the baby. They then eat the meat in celebration.

(That may be a Somali custom, but animal sacrifice is no more part of mainstream Islam than the Holy Trinity is). It turns out, the Ohio State University study was primarily focused on the operational economics of Somali freeloadersNew Americans’ culinary caprine preferences. As their disposable income increases, they buy more goat. They prefer to eat the whole goat, and turn up their noses at frozen goat. (Because freezing is unknown in Somalia, they are suspicious of it). We are not making this up. It’s in the paper; the science is settled. You’re not going to deny science, are you?

Back to the AP’s story.

Some of the refugees Freudenberger has worked with had trouble communicating with farmers when trying to buy fresh goat meat, while others were questioned by authorities for slaughtering an animal by the side of the road or for having a goat in a car. 

“The whole project is really designed around trying to meet this particular niche demand that this community has … in a way that meets the particular cultural and taste desires of their communities,” Freudenberger said.

In related news, some of the Somali immigrants buying Freudenberger’s goats have difficulty finding a medical practitioner for clitoridectomies, too, another quaint and vibrant custom they have brought with them. One of the many necessary tweaks in Obamacare is to extend it to cover the witch doctors to which our “new Americans” are accustomed.

We’re sure the community organizers are on it.

Karl Marx, the Doctor-hating Poet

Marx's headstone, in London, where he's buried with his wife, mistress, and assorted family members.

Marx’s headstone, in Highgate Cemetery, London, where he’s buried with his wife, mistress, and assorted family members.

As you know, we’re fans of poetry here. But for every line of good verse that’s written, there are encyclopedia-sized outpourings of dismal doggerel, fit only for the lining of bird cages. And here’s a bit of just that stuff.

Karl Marx, before he was the monster founded the most bloodthirsty ideology in the entire blood-soaked history of the human race, was a failed academic and a poor student — “poor” in both senses of the word.

He hated and resented people more successful than himself, which was, at that time, practically everyone. But he really hated doctors and medical students. He also fancied himself as a poet, and produced a wide range of sophomoric doggerel, some of which we’re now going to inflict on you.

These poems, bashing medical students, refer to the gap between nineteenth-century medicine’s scientific aspirations and its scientific attainments, and the rumors that medical students acquired their study cadavers via the intermediary of the grave-robber.

To the Medical Students

Damned philistino-medico-student crew,
The whole world’s just bag of bones to you.
When once you’ve cooled the blood with Hydrogen,
And when you’ve felt the pulse’s throbbing, then
You think, “I’ve done the most I’m able to.
Man could be very comfortable, too.
How clever of Almighty God to be
So very well versed in Anatomy!”
And flowers are all instruments to use,
When they’ve been boiled down into herbal brews.

Medical Student Psychology

Who eats a supper of dumplings and noodles,
Will suffer from–nightmares, oodles and oodles.

Medical Student Metaphysics

No Spirit ever has existed.
Oxen have lived and never missed it.
The Soul is idle fantasy;
In the stomach it certainly can’t be found,
And if one were able to run it to ground,
Then almost any pill would set it free.
Then Spirits would be seen
Emerging in an endless stream.

Medical Student Anthropology

He who would sickness foil
Must learn to rub his nether half with oil,
So that no wind or draught
Can chill him fore and aft.
Man also can achieve his ends
With dietary regimens;
And Culture thus emerges
As soon as Man starts using purges.

Medical Student Ethics

Lest perspiration harm, it’s best
On journeys to wear more than just one vest.
Beware all passion that produces
Disorders of the gastric juices.
Do not let your glances wander
Where flames can burst your eyes asunder.
Mix water with your wine,
Take milk in coffee every time;
And don’t forget to have us called
When leaving for the Afterworld.

via Book of verse–Karl Marx.

Whoever the guy was who looked at this bad poetry and told Karl, “Don’t quit the day job as a bad philosopher,” (probably Marx’s dad), could be forgiven for looking down now upon what Marx hath wrought and regretting the consequences of his career advice.

The link, as it happens, will only be live for a few days, as, in a hilarious event that could only have happened among the canyon of cranial challenge that is world Communism, one of Marx’s and Engels’s Commie publishing houses has won a copyright victory over another group of Communists, marxists.org, and sued the Commies of the Second Part for unlawful use of the private property (snicker) of the Commies of First Part, to wit, the translations of the ancient texts of the Hoary Old Commies of the Original Part.

What’s the weapons relation to this? Not much, except we fought against these guys for a long time, and it’s pure popcorn schadenfreude to see them cannibalizing one another — all the richer to be doing it over ownership of the means of production. Comrades.

And we went to marxists.org while it still has the stuff to see if any of the stuff had value.

OK, comedy value. And we found this. So, we give you Karl Marx: draft dodger, lousy husband and father, wealthy-born chamipion of the working man (in theory; he never did a day’s work in his life), and, most amusingly, piss-poor poet.

Two books by Hatcher

On our return to Stately Hog Manor, after a day behind enemy lines in the halls of academe, we found a package awaiting us. Among other things it contained two volumes by Maj. Julian S. Hatcher, a trained engineer (an honor graduate of the Naval Academy) and one time head of Army small arms development. While Hatcher’s heyday was long ago (he lived from 1888 to 1963, and served from his transfer from the Navy to the Army in 1910 to medical retirement from the Army in 1946), he wrote works of a kind and quality not much produced today.

Hatcher’s books are dense, text-rich tomes with a great deal of wisdom in them, and, as befits an engineer, more than a few facts and figures. One of the books was a replacement of what is, as its subtitle claims, a standard reference: Hatcher’s Notebook: A Standard Reference for Shooters, Gunsmiths, Ballisticians, Historians, Hunters and Collectors. We had a copy, which a friend admired, and so it is now his copy, and Amazon duly sent us a new one. The second book was the lesser-known Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers, which Amazon suggested. This lesser-known work was a 1990s reprint for the Firearms Classic Library of the NRA and the National Firearms Museum. We thought the library was defunct, but it appears as a book club at that link. However, that page isn’t linked from the publisher’s main page, meaning, exactly what? We don’t know.

The Firearms Classic Library editions have a sturdy, old-fashioned leather binding with gold leaf letters and gilt-edged pages. A silk bookmark is bound in. Used ones are a good buy, usually, because they tend to be displayed more than read. (Our Pistols and Revolvers showed signs of careful use). That’s the good news. They are also facsimile editions, which is a double-edged sword. What this means is that, apart from some fresh introductory material, which is of necessity freshly typeset, the remainder of the book is reproduced by photolithography from an original book. That means that the type is murky and hard to read, and the photographs very badly reproduced. Accordingly, you are almost always better off with a first edition than with a Firearms Classic Library reprint, if your objective is to read the jeezly book. To show it off….

The major downside of these Hatcher tomes is the same thing that gives them some of their charm: their age. Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers begins with an attempt to catalog available handguns, but it was published in 1935, as an update to an earlier book published in 1927. Therefore, it’s great historical or foundational knowledge, but blind to all subsequent developments. And its historical information is mostly of the period of its authorship, because Hatcher purged the 1927 edition’s historical content to make space for more “contemporary” (1930s) content.

For example, in discussing ammunition in Pistols and Revolvers, Hatcher says that all American center-fire case are made with the primer anvil as part of the primer (which is Boxer priming, invented by the English ordnance officer Edward Boxer, although Hatcher doesn’t call it that, probably because of the purge of “less relevant” history). Conversely, he says that all European cartridges are made with the anvil as part of the cartridge case (which is Berdan priming, invented by the American gun designer and Civil War regimental commander Hiram Berdan, although Hatcher doesn’t call it that either). That was true in 1935, but is less true today as many European (especially Western European) makers have converted to Boxer priming. The two are functionally, and with modern machinery, economically equivalent, in performance, but Boxer cases are conveniently reloadable and Berdan-primed cases are not. (They can be reloaded, but it’s difficult and not especially practical).

And then there’s the statement, true enough in 1935, that pistol velocities were not enough to make the hollow-pointed or “dum-dum” bullets of the day expand much. It can’t stand as an indictment of our spare mags of Speer Law-Man 9mms, which use materials and manufacturing processes unimaginable to Hatcher.

So why read Hatcher 80 or 90 years after the fact? One reason is that some things haven’t changed, and he is a writer of rare simplicity and clarity. In Pistols and Revolvers he describes how cartridge cases are made:

In the manufacture of a pistol cartridge a sheet of brass about 1/8 of an inch thick is fed into a punch press, which first cuts out a little disc of brass and then forms it into a cup shape. These little cups are fed through successive presses, in each of which the cup is forced through a die by a steel punch in such a manner as to elongate the brass cup. When the cup is long enough to have the approximate shape of a cartridge case it is placed in another press, which flattens the head of it so ad to form a rim around it and puts a cup shaped depression in the head for the primer to fit into. The cases then nearly completed. It is afterwards trimmed to length, and the rim is turned to exact thickness and diameter on a machine similar to a lathe. A hole is also punched in the bottom of the pocket for the flash of the primer to go through. After being washed to free it from all oil and residue the case is ready to have the primer inserted.

He then goes on to explain the use of annealing to prevent the work-hardening of the initially soft brass, and gives a similarly simple and clear explanation of the production of lead bullets. We could describe that same process, but would probably be much wordier and less readable than Hatcher. (“A man’s gotta know his limitations” — Harry Callahan)

Of course, some of the anecdotes in Pistols and Revolvers will make one long for the glory days of police work. Describing the long forgotten 38 S&W Super Police cartridge, which was basically a heavy load of the nearly forgotten 38 S&W with a 200-grain bullet, he quotes this anecdote:

A policeman shot a hold-up artist in East St. Louis the other day with this Super Police. He got him square in the center of the back at 75 yards which was a darn good shot. When the corner dug the bullet out of the crook he found it more than halfway through him and flattened on the point to about the size of a quarter. This officer was certainly good. He had two hold-up artists, one of them broke and ran. Without further ceremony he cracked one over the head with his revolver took deliberate aim at the other end made it dead center bull’s-eye on him.

It’s nice(?) to see that East St. Louis hasn’t changed since 1935. But imagine the hue and cry that would ensue if a modern cop dealt with a couple of hold-up artists disadvantaged yutes that way today.

One place where Pistols and Revolvers really comes in handy is when Hatcher includes carefully drawn chamber diagrams for now-obscure cartridges. A cast of the leade or forcing cone with a dimensionally stable medium (Brownell’s sells some good stuff but they’re on our shit list this week) and a dial indicator and you can break the code on some of those old guns with those obscure markings like “Cal. .38 ctg.” that make you go, “Oh, grreat, which one of a dozen .38s was it?” Aha, .38 Super Police.

Unlike Pistols and Revolvers, Hatcher’s Notebook is not all that well organized. But it is a rich historical source, and it contains much information of timeless value. It was, originally, Hatcher’s notes that he used while serving as an ordnance officer, and if you are interested in either US weapons of the first half of the 20th Century (Hatcher had no involvement with later weapons), or weapons design and technical information in general, you need a copy of this.

Part I begins, and ends, with information about what was clearly one of Hatcher’s great loves, the 1903 Springfield Rifle and its variants. While its early development preceded Hatcher, it was the standard issue rifle when he transferred from the Navy to the Army in 1910, and was still a standard or substitute standard weapon for most of his career. The concluding section is primary source material, a comprehensive list of Springfield receiver failures in service that produced the conventional wisdom about the unsuitability of early Springfields to be fired. (The crux of the problem is metallurgy. The Army used high carbon steel for bolts and receivers for the first 300,000-odd Springfields, and two different heat-treating methods. They changed to nickel steel for some guns in 1918, and for all bolts and receivers by 1927, so every serial number from 1,275,767 is safe, every serial number from about 800,000 (SA) or 285,507 (RIS) when the heat treating was improved is probably safe, and earlier ones are a crapshoot).

The Springfield accidents, 68 in all, were not trivial. Three soldiers lost an eye each, six more were seriously or severely injured, and 27 slightly injured. The cause of each accident varied, but a burst receiver was often caused by case-head separation, and occasionally by firing a German 7.92 x 57mm round in the Springfield’s 7.62 x 63mm chamber. (The only

In between there’s a vast quantity of often highly technical information, including practical formulae for calculating recoil impulses, muzzle energy, and other useful figures. We particularly enjoyed the description of the pros and cons of the rifling used in early and late Springfields, 1917 Enfields, and the comparison to the Metford rifling used by some Japanese rifles.  There are first-hand accounts of the development of the Pedersen Device and the US Rifle M1, and a historical study of the chemistry of primers and their effect on bore corrosion.

Part II is, primarily, a concise text on exterior ballistics. Like the formulae scattered here and there in Part I, it is timeless reference material.

For another review of Hatcher’s Notebook see Ian’s review at Forgotten Weapons.com.

Bottom line is that we recommend both of these books. If you must pick one, Hatcher’s Notebook is the indispensable one. Not for nothing has it remained in print from 1947 to the present day.

Criminals have their own Advocate in NH State House

Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, has long been focused on taking care of the people he sees as his most important constituents — New Hampshire’s violent criminals.

In the current session, he’s sponsored death penalty repeal, a necessary first step before cannibals, child rapist-murderers, and cop killer can enjoy the short sentences they have in nearby Massachusetts which is Cushing’s role model.

Cushing’s latest dodge is a “gun violence study panel,” a bill that proposes a panel of Democratic partisan experts who will take the onus off Cushing’s beloved violent cons and put it on the state’s non-criminal gun owners instead — as is done in Massachusetts, naturally.  Cushing’s co-sponsors are a pair of Democratic ladies who also have been known to see Boston as their lodestar.

But Cushing is not from Massachusetts; he’s a native New Hampshireite. And he’s not unaware of the cost of crime: his father and brother-in-law were both murdered. He just chooses to forgive the murderers,  It’s an idealistic (if foolish) position and makes him one of the most interesting, (if wrong) politicians in a state noted for its practical approach to government.

Of course, while it is noble of him to forgive his relatives’ murderers and want them released, he has no moral standing to forgive other people’s murderers, and he seems completely comfortable in the knowledge that the revolving-door, wrist-tap justice he favors will produce more violent crime. A very interesting (if wrong) character.

When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Pickups

Chevrolet Silverado, the murder weapon (file photo).

Chevrolet Silverado, the murder weapon (file photo).

(two crimes in one post edition, and the second was indeed a firearm murder).

First, pickups. And this highway crash that killed three (including an unborn child) was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt by a mentally ill former executive. Robert Dellinger, 53, wanted to kill himself at the time. He survived the violent collision, but with two counts of second-degree murder (on the young parents) and one of second-degree assault (on the baby) Dellinger succeeded in ending his life in a different manner. He’s almost certain to live out his natural life behind bars.

Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Diana Fenton said at Dellinger’s arraignment in December in Lebanon District Court that Dellinger — of Point Birch Lane in Sunapee — deliberately drove his 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck across the Interstate 89 median in Lebanon and into oncoming traffic while trying to kill himself.

He survived the Dec. 7 crash and was treated at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. But his truck demolished the 2005 Ford Escape in which Murphy was behind the wheel and Timmons a front-seat passenger. Both died from lacerations to the mid-brain, according to the indictments.

Although the Attorney General’s Office had previously upgraded two charges against Dellinger from manslaughter to second-degree murder during the December hearing, felony pleas cannot be entered in lower court in New Hampshire. The matter was later presented to the grand jury in the Superior Court in North Haverhill.

Second-degree murder in New Hampshire carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell said in December that Dellinger left his home on the day of the crash after an argument with his wife over his depression medication and a bedtime curfew imposed by his doctor, and headed south on I-89

via Ex-Fortune 500 executive now facing assault charge in addition to murder counts | New Hampshire Crime.

Of course, he can have some hope. With creeping Bay Statism in the New Hampshire courts and legal establishment, a parricide was just released merely 18 years after whacking his mother and father, and his crime wasn’t a botched suicide, but a cold-blooded ambush murder. Apparently they took pity on him because he was an orphan.

Dingman, then 14, and his brother, Robert, then 17, ambushed their 40-year-old parents as they arrived home after work Feb. 9, 1996, and taunted the wounded couple as the final bullets were fired into their bodies.

Jeffrey Dingman admitted to the murders, turned state’s witness and testified at his brother’s high-profile murder trial that the pair plotted the murders because they “didn’t like” their parents and resented the curfews and other restrictions placed on them.

Ah, yes. As an indicator of this guy’s sterling character, he’d been working on work-release until his parole hearing made the news, and his employer discovered that the quiet worker hadn’t mentioned that he was a con on work-release, let alone a double murderer. Yeah, what’s the over-under on his next trip through the grey bar turnstile?

Of course Dingman’s murder of his parents was a gun crime, no doubt facilitated by the Gun Show Loophole™.

His lawyer says he will make a “quiet re-entry back into society.” What odds before this worthless piece of human effluent commits crime again?

It was a colossal mistake, the kind that can only be committed by out-of-touch politicians and judges (but we repeat ourselves), to remove the death penalty as the default option for murder. The world was a better place with this punk in prison rather than outside, and would be a better place yet if he’d danced on the end of a stout rope back in ’96.

On the latest barbarity in Afghanistan

When we were in Afghanistan, If you could sum up the attitude of most Afghans to our presence, it would be gratitude. Sure, the Taliban and Al Qaeda were not especially thrilled to have us running around the countryside, chasing and cuffing and PUC’ing and killing them. But they were a tiny minority of the Afghan population, and a very unpopular minority at that. In 2002, almost every Afghan had a true horror story about Taliban oppression. At first, we did not believe the stories. Sure some militia commander had murdered 300 people. Yeah, right.

Then the guy confessed.

The villagers hadn’t been shining us on; this guy was a Grade-A sociopath, enabled by a nation maddened by a 35-year civil war of all against all and each for himself.

And we began to find evidence, like entire families massacred in the 1990s, their bodies left unburied as a final insult by Taliban forces.

What has changed, since 2002, to produce events like this barbaric killing of doctors by infiltrators among the Afghan police? We see two things, and neither points to more Taliban popularity.

First, in 2002, the Taliban and their idiosyncratic form of Islamic government were fresh in everyone’s mind, and perhaps more importantly, there was nothing to compare them to. It was the Taliban or “something else,” and the Taliban were horrific enough that just about anyone would pick the Mystery Government Behind Curtain 2. Today, “something else,” the Afghan government, has a name and a history and is no longer a tabula rasa upon which Afghans could write their hopes.

Second, the tactics of asymmetric war call for the weaker party to do what it can. All these guys can do is murder doctors and others.

Fighting the Iraqi army, or fighting Cuban-led insurgents in Central America, special forces guys had a sense that we were fighting a war, against opponents that might be reasonable man, but by whatever accident of birth or upbringing were on the opposite side. The enemy had reasons for what they did; at some level they were reasonable, rational men like ourselves.

There is no such sense in the fight against the Taliban and other Islamist movements. Instead, it’s like a fight against agitated and petulant children, who are perfectly willing to bring the whole evidence of civilization crashing down in pursuit of a religion they were taught by illiterate mullahs.

If there is a solution for Afghanistan, we know it not.