Monthly Archives: July 2014

Weaponsman.com Statistics for July 2014

For the sheer OCD of it:

July Month-End Statistics:

Hit Count using Rich Counter
Hits in July 85,701
Year to date 634,239
Year end projections: 1,028,412-1,087,267
Comments in July: 734
Year to date: 4569
Year-end Projection: about 9000

The year-end forecast is a simple multiplication of the last month *12 (that’s the low end number), or a simple projection of the same average rate of hits recorded over the entire year to date (that’s the higher number).

Top Referrers (excluding search engines):

http://thegunwire.com/
http://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/
http://www.theospark.net/
http://www.calguns.net/

A little surprised not to see The Gun Feed on the list, it’s usually there too. Also, we had a few hits from the Google engines in various countries including Canada, Germany, France… and India. Hey, if you want to talk weapons, don’t be shy, speak up!

Weird Keywords

We had a few of these, this month, including many on ebola (no idea why our blog is coming up in ebola searches; we worked biodefense, on the civilian side, for some years and maybe wrote about some of that).

Bottom line on ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers (Marburg, Lassa, etc.): they are so deadly that outbreaks so far have been self-attenuating. What we know about natural selection suggests the virus may evolve towards less mortality (or at least, less rapid mortality) and that’s great if you’re a virus, but paradoxically, a less-immediately-deadly ebola would be worse for humanity. Viruses, being comparatively simple, have the potential to evolve more rapidly than higher organisms. As a fatal disease with no effective treatment, ebola research takes place in Biological Safety Level-4 facilities. (How secure is that? Well, like cancer stages, there is no “5.” We’re talking negative pressure, self-contained facilities and researchers wearing moon suits and isolated from the air).

Statistics FAQ

Why do you do this?

Because we can. 

But we’re not interested!

Why did you read this far, then? You’re overdue to scroll down to the next gun story.

Rich Counter blows goats, you should use _____________ (fill in the blank).

Hey, we needed stats, we picked something. It wasn’t worth a thorough analysis to maximize the benefit. Instead, we did what an economist calls “satisficing.” Show us a better plug-in, we might plug it in. (Actually, if you’re dispensing WordPress plug-ins, one that would do tables or even accept them pasted from Word or something would be The Heat™. Writing tables in html is something we’re ready to outsource to one of Obama’s braceros one of these days, if we can’t automate it. But every table plug-in we’ve looked at has been a stinker. Got a non-bozo one? That is, if you’re the Santa Claus of Plug-in Wisdom or something).

Jesse Ventura Summons the Streisand Effect

Jesse Ventura says he sued Chris, and then after Chris’s death, Taya, Kyle to protect his reputation. Two words: “Streisand Effect.” Even if Kyle’s story wasn’t true (and the testimony was certainly contradictory), it was probably better for him to be known as Glass Jaw Janos than to get the grief he’s getting now, as SOF guys and SEALS pile on him and make him out to be the King of the Blue Falcons. Here’s one image rocketing around the net:

Jesse Ventura widow suit

Ow.

Keep it up, Jesse. “It’s only a flesh wound!” Yeah, that’ll buff right out. Here’s another:

Jesse Ventura hit me

That’s completely unfair, because Jesse sued Chris while he was still among us, and just persisted in his suit after Chris’s murder gave him the chance to make a statesmanlike exit. But that’s the nature of the Streisand Effect: the whole Intertubes piles on. The internet is not where you go to find fairness, or kindness, or restraint. But it is where you find your real reputation, for good or for ill.

Marcus Luttrell, who’s the kind of nobody that doesn’t act in movies but has movies made about him, got his licks in on his Facebook page. At press time, “Tim Ritter, Joseph Burch, Sebastian Smith and 72,344 others like this.” Ventura may not care: before paying a third to a half of it to his attorneys, he’s got $24.88 per “like” of Marcus’s Facebook slam of him. And, as Jesse’s noted, it’s not like he’s going to be blowing it on booze at SEAL conventions any time soon.

That SEAL/UDT “Never Quit” can work against a guy, as Ventura seems doomed to learn. But he has doubled down, saying he’s now going to sue the publisher and more people, because all those people are besmirching his stellar reputation. How can you besmirch a reputation like Ventura’s?

Jonn Lilyea at TAH:

As soon as he left the courtroom, Jimmy went straight to Russia Today studios for his first interview. During that interview, he told the audience that they shouldn’t be mad at him, they should be mad at the jury for finding in his favor and awarding him $1.8 million. Of course, he could have dropped the law suit when Chris Kyle was murdered. He does some more whining…

“I’m already damaged…. I can’t go to a SEAL reunion anymore. That was the one place where I always felt safe. I can’t go there anymore without looking over my shoulder now wondering who is going to come after me next.”

As Jonn points out, if whoever’s “next” is really next, doesn’t that suggest Chris Kyle was first?

(Note: references to “Jimmy” or “Janos” refer to Jesse Ventura’s birth name, James Janos, under which he served in the Navy UDT. He later took the stage name “Jesse Ventura” and still later changed his name legally to his stage identity. That’s why you see people mocking him by several names).

Let a Thousand Streisands Bloom

Here’s SF retiree “Uncle Jimbo” Hanson in a brief, profane video that can be summarized as, “Don’t take the money, assclown.” Hanson writes, “I think this is worth some internet torches and pitchforks….” (See comments above about the Streisand Effect, Jim has nailed a perfect analogy).

Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers) at Blackfive posted another hilarious picture under the title Janos the Anos. We don’t think he likes him.

Humberto Fontova, one of the wonderful gifts that Castroite oppression gave these United States, collects some dreamy Ventura quotes about Fidel Castro and his Cuba. Essence: better than the USG, says the rassler. Lord love a duck, this guy had a reputation?

As a former editor of a nationally significant newspaper, Robert S. McCain had to learn about libel and defamation law. He explains that that Kyle did something a journalist would (or should) not do:

He asserted private knowledge.
This is a line that no smart journalist would ever cross: To claim to know something bad about somebody, a private fact otherwise unknown, on the basis of information not publicly available.
Any reporter could publish a story about the conflict between Ventura and Kyle — the alleged barroom confrontation at the heart of this lawsuit — and write that Kyle says X, Y and Z happened, including Ventura’s denials that any such confrontation occurred, without fear that his reporting could be construed as libelous.
Kyle’s problem was that, if his altercation with Ventura actually occurred, it was not a matter of public record. Nobody called the cops; there was no police report filed. In fact, it appears that Kyle’s editors at Harper Collins recognized the potential liability involved in publishing that anecdote, so that Kyle’s book referred to Ventura as “scruff face.” It was only in subsequent media interviews that Kyle himself said that Ventura was the subject of the anecdote, and thus the truth or falsehood of Kyle’s version of events — his claim that Ventura said vile things, and that he knocked Ventura down — was central to the defamation lawsuit.

But that importance of truth or untruth suggests that it might not be over for Ventura in another way: given the judge’s remarkable jury instruction that the truth or falsehood of what Kyle said didn’t matter at all, Ventura’s success is at risk if Taya Kyle appeals:

I do not believe this case was correctly decided. In a defamation case, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant knowingly or recklessly published a falsehood. Based on what has been reported of the trial, Ventura and his witnesses cast doubt on Kyle’s story, but did not disprove it, as witnesses for the defense testified that Kyle told the truth.
If lawyers for Kyle’s estate appeal the case, I feel they have a good chance to overturn the verdict.

Like McCain, whose expertise in this realm of law we respect, we don’t know what happened that night. We do know that Jesse Ventura is a jerk, and Chris Kyle wasn’t, and that certainly colors our perception of the hostility that arose between the two of them.

If we may be forgiven a display of the other branch’s insignia, for a moment:

Keep Calm and Honor Chris

Our Recommendation:

Let’s take arguendo the claim that Jesse only did this to protect his reputation. It’s possible; he wouldn’t be the first or only guy to have a higher opinion of himself than everyone else does. He still has a possibility for a graceful exit and we’ve already suggested it in a reply to a comment in the previous thread: donate the money to a neutral, SEAL or SOF charity (like the SEAL Foundation or the Special Operations Warrior Foundation). Better yet, do it as a joint donation from Jesse and Taya Kyle, and very, very publicly bury the hatchet. That’s his best, and unless we’re missing something, only, path to reputational recovery. If we were Jesse, we’d be having our expensive lawyers discuss this with Taya’s expensive lawyers already.

But then again, if we were Jesse, we wouldn’t be mired in a reputational problem caused by mouthing off in a bar.

Veterans, 50; Army, 0 (Springfields, that is).

This morning’s Springfield post triggered a way overdue follow-up. Way back in January 2012, we wrote, apropos of Springfield rifles:

But one volunteer cemetery firing party, at Ft. Snelling, Minn., is holding out, grimly hanging on to their WWI-era bolt-actions, spurning an offer of WWII vintage M1 Garand rifles. The Army Times has the story.

It’s weird to see one of our posts with a two-digit number… but we’re not sick of the blog yet, just a bit buried in research. Anyway, we came across this old post and wondered what ever happened to the Fort Snelling vets, who wanted to keep their 50 loaner Springfields. (The Army, cleaning up inventories of obsolete weapons, wanted to pull them back and issue them 15 Garands instead. Why 15? Because a law from Congress restricts them to that number, now).

The fate of the Springfields was uncertain, had the Army repo’d them. The current Administration is on record that surplus rifles are a driver of urban crime, which is why they have banned reimportation of M1 rifles and carbines. (Yes, these relics are seldom if ever used in crime. You argue the point with Eric Holder, we give up). So they might have gone through CMP to auction, but they might have met the “Mexican speedwrench” so beloved of gun controllers.

The fate of the honor guard was clearer. With 50 Springfields, they can field 5 to 7 simultaneous firing parties and a few operational floats, a necessity in a cemetery that does 20 funerals a day. With 15 Garands, they’d have 2 parties, leaving 60% of the vets to go into the ground unsaluted.

The Army suggested using a tape recording or .mp3 file.

Fortunately for the vets of Fort Snelling, a local Congressman got involved and, with him leaning on the Army, they discovered that their “good enough for government work” welders didn’t need to practice on the 1903s after all.

We missed the Army’s decision, which was taken ‘way back in February, 2012, but in the face of determined Congressional resistance, they sounded retreat — at least for now.

This is one it feels good to see the Army lose.

One hopes it will not be 2+ years late, next time we update a story we ran. But better then than never, n’est-ce pas?

 

Springfield Rifles: What’s the Difference?

The US model 1903 Springfield rifle was made in five major versions. New entrents to collecting American martial arms sometimes struggle to tell these very similar rifles apart, but actually it’s pretty easy. Here’s a Springfield cheat sheet to take with you to the fun show:

From GlobalSecurity.org. Note that the stock on the A3 is more commonly like the one shown on the A1.

From GlobalSecurity.org. Note that the stock on the A3 is more commonly like the one shown on the A1.

 

  • The US Rifle Model 1903 was originally made for the M1 Cal. .30-03 cartridge, and service rifles were rechambered to the improved .30-06. There were metallurgical problems with early serial number receivers and bolts, and firearms under number 800,000 from Springfield Armory and 286,596 from Rock Island Arsenal should not be fired, because those are the numbers beyond which improved heat treating methods are known to have resolved this problem. (The bolts aren’t numbered, but any bolt that has a handle “swept back” rather than bent at 90º to the bolt axis is good to go).
    This is the business end of an early (pre-1905) rod bayonet Springfield.

    This is the business end of an early (pre-1905) rod bayonet Springfield.

    A few very early models had rod bayonets, and these were mostly converted to Model 1905 16″ knife bayonets after 1905 (at the insistence, we’ve noted, of Theodore Roosevelt) so they’re extremely rare. The rear sight was a ladder sight that went through several iterations, mounted forward of the front receiver ring. It could be used as an open tangent sight or raised and elevated for volley fire to ranges of almost 3,000 yards. A variant of the 03 called the US Rifle M1903 Mark I was adapted for use with the Pedersen device. Most of these were made in 1918-1919 and they wound up issued as ordinary 1903s. They are not especially rare, but make good conversation pieces. Another rare variant (illustrated) used the Warner & Swasey telescope commonly fitted to the Benet-Mercié “automatic rifle” — it had a terrible time holding zero, but that’s what American snipers had Over There.

The rifle lasted decades more, but the sight didn't.

The rifle lasted decades more, but the sight didn’t.

  • US Rifle Model 1903A1 is identical to the 1903, except for the stock, which has a pistol grip.
  • US Rifle Model 1903A2 is another extreme rarity: a Springfield altered to be a subcaliber device for conducting direct-fire training on various artillery weapons on small arms ranges. The stock, handguards, sights were removed and the gun could be fitted into a 37 mm sleeve for use in a 37mm gun, or the 37mm adapter could in turn be fitted in a larger-caliber adapter for 75mm, 105mm or 8 inch (203mm) artillery. They were generally made from 1903s and will have the “A2″ notation hand stamped after the 1903 on the receiver ring. A brass bushing on the muzzle, just under an inch (0.994”) in diameter, adapted the bare barreled action to the adapter. A few have the A2 electro-penciled in place, it would take a Springfield expert to tell you if that’s authentic (the example Brophy shows is stamped). Most of the A2s were converted back into ordinary rifles, surplused, or scrapped at the end of the war as the Army had abandoned subcaliber artillery training.

M1903A2_Ord18292

  • US Rifle Model 1903A3 is a wartime, cost-reduced version of the 1903A1. Remington had been tooling up to make the 1903, not for the US, but in .303 for the British. WIth American reentry into the war, Remington converted back to making a simplified 1903. The A3 reverts to the straight (no pistol grip) stock, uses a stamped trigger guard, and has a ramp-mounted peep sight like the one on the M1 Carbine. This sight is simpler than the Rube Goldberg arrangement on the 1903, and actually has greater accuracy potential thanks to around 7″ greater sight radius. It is the version most commonly found on the market, and was carried by soldiers in the first months of the Pacific War, and by Marines for longer. Until a working grenade launcher was developed for the M1 and issued in late 1943, an Army rifle squad armed with M1s still had one or two grenadiers armed with M1903A3s and grenade launchers. By D-Day, most combat units had the M1 launchers. Remington (and Smith-Corona) produced 1903A3s from 1941 to February, 1944.

M1903A3 sight

  • US Rifle Model 1903A4 is a 1903A3 fitted with a Weaver 330C or Lyman Alaskan 2 ½ Power optical sight. The Weaver sight is 11 inches long and adds a half-pound to the weight of the rifle, bringing it to a still very manageable 9.7 pounds. The Lyman is a tenth of an inch shorter and a 0.2 pounds heavier (the Lyman was very rare in service compared to the Weaver). Both have an eye relief of about 3 to 5 inches. Very late in the war, the M1C came into service, but the 1903A4 was the Army’s primary sniper rifle throughout the war. Note that several vendors have made replicas of the M1903A4, some of which (like Gibbs Rifle Company’s) are clearly marked. All 1903A4s were made by Remington.

There you have it — the main variants of the Springfield Rifle in a short and digestible format.

Frame-up Fails: Walker Walks

Walker from his arrest mugshot.

Walker from his arrest mugshot. For him, the nightmare is over.

In Maryland, New Jersey detective Joseph Walker was attacked by a fat, angry thug named Joseph Harvey Jr. Harvey and his friend Adam Pidel charged Walker, despite being warned that Walker was a police officer and would shoot them. They continued, and Walker shot Harvey. Pidel then stopped, but Harvey resumed his charged (and Walker resumed shooting him, scoring two more hits). In all, Walker fired three shots and scored three boiler room hits. Harvey has gone to the place where he can no longer menace any motorists.

And the might of the State of Maryland landed hard on Walker. Police and politicians are hostile to out-of-state cops carrying in the gun-free zone (and murder hot spot) of Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland. They can’t stop it, because a national law pre-empts them, but they can pull out all the stops to make an example of anyone who takes advantage of the Federal law to cull the native criminal class — as Walker did. And so an ambitious prosecutor mustered an at-all-costs attempt to imprison Walker on first degree murder charges, or anything else that might do the job. That attempt failed before noon today as the jury acquitted Walker on all charges.

Bringin' the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

Bringin’ the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

District Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who led the attempt to frame Walker, was bitter and angry after the jury rejected her office’s entire case, including multiple fallback arguments and lesser-included offenses her underlings dangled before them to bait a conviction on something, anything. But the jury didn’t bite, and Joe Walker is headed home to his family, while Leitess’s client, Harvey, is still dead. You could argue that that’s the best outcome for society — in both cases.

Race was a factor in Harvey and Pidel’s attack on the Walker family (the two Maryland brutes are white, the Jersey cop and his family black) and seems to have been a factor in Leitess’s relentless pursuit of Walker: even after the trial, she condemned him: “I am concerned that Mr. Walker, as a law enforcement officer, is a very aggressive person,” she told the press in an angry interview, nostrils flaring and lips curling in a contemptuous sneer. She further accused him of “aggressive, threatening behavior” and “hiding behind his badge.” Unlike Harvey and Pidel, Leitess didn’t refer to the Walkers as “niggers,” at least, not in front of the cameras.

Note the message on Harvey's t-shirt. Nuff said.

Note the message on Harvey’s t-shirt. Nuff said.

For example, according to testimony as reported in the media, two bellowed statements from Harvey were, “What’s your fucking problem, nigger?” and, “I’ll fucking kill you, nigger!” The jury may have taken Harvey’s expressed intent into account when asked to judge Walker’s defense of self and family.

Leitess has declined to prosecute Pidel. 

 

A police defense nonprofit complained about Leitess’s and her underlings’ misconduct during the case. Of course, complaining is what nonprofits do, especially when they want to raise money. It’s unlikely that there will be any finding that Leitess’s conduct strayed outside the very broad bonds of what is normal prosecutorial discretion. It’s just tough luck for Joe Walker that he was the ham sandwich du jour.  The Capital Gazette:

[National Police Defense Foundation executive director Joseph] Occhipinti said that in order to get an indictment, [Assistant State’s Attorney Michael] Dunty misrepresented what happened on the night of the shooting.

A prosecutor held responsible for misrepresentation? Occhipinti can ask, but it ain’t gonna happen.

The Baltimore-Washington media were about as angry as Harvey had been, with TV reporters (such as the one that autoplays after an obnoxious ad for the third-rate insurer Hartford, on the Baltimore Sun site) expressing shock and anger that Walker could “just shoot a guy.”(If it wasn’t for The Hartford, we’d include the video, because the guy’s mystified outrage needs to be heard to be believed).  Of course, TV reporters could scarcely be blamed for being ignorant about the case and about self-defense in general: they’re typical of the low-information news consumers who get their news in predigested, inaccurate chunks from their own stations. And the reporters didn’t use the n-word; you gotta give them that.

A CBS Local story is typical, retelling the story in tones that make Walker look like a guilty man who beat a solid rap:

It was June 8, 2013, when Walker, his wife and kids in their minivan were cut off by a car driven by Anne Arundel County native Joe Harvey and one of his friends. A racial slur-filled road rage episode followed for more than a mile. When it was over, Harvey lay dead on the side of the highway, shot three times.

After getting the date right, that’s pretty much the limit of accuracy in this post. Actually, Harvey flipped out because he thought Walker’s minivan cut him off — testimony in the court case agreed on that. The racial slurs all came from Harvey and Pidel (one of them also seems likely to have thrown a bottle at the van). And Harvey and Pidel attacked the Walkers after Walker stopped. “A road rage episode followed.” Subject, verb, but they don’t teach that in J-School these days.

Walker’s conduct is certainly subject to criticism, if for no other reason than that it put him at the mercy of an Ahab of a prosecutor and a Maryland jury — that’s not a position any rational man would reason himself into. In a road rage case, it’s better to let some guy blow off steam in his car and remove yourself from the scene than it is to confront him. And if you’re legally carrying a gun (with or without a badge), you should feel the weight of that firearm as a pull towards the side of restraint and moderation. Had things gone that way, Joe Walker would not have had the scare of his life and a months-long ordeal in the courts. Of course, improving the gene pool by whacking Harvey would have been left to someone else, but this is the classic case where it does not pay you to be the volunteer.

For the best coverage of the case (if spotty because of the lack of public streaming or transcripts) we recommend, as always in self-defense cases, Andrew Branca of the Law of Self-Defense book and blog. He covered this case at Legal Insurrection, where’s he’s part of a crack legal blog team.

UPDATE

This post has been corrected, to eliminate a bonehead error in the first line that made Walker a “Maryland” cop. He is a Jersey cop who came close to being a Maryland <i>con</I> but is now home with his family. Thanks to Joshua in the comments for the correction! -Eds.

Answer Untruthfully!

With increasing frequency, news sites are hiding their news stories behind an intrusive question. Most of them ask about consumer preferences or personal matters (such as political preferences). This is one of the mildest, which asks about whether you will be making a business decision about purchasing certain technology:

nsa_wants_to_know_you_better

 

Let’s leave apart, a minute, the fact that this is coming from the post-American, Constitution-hostile throne room of a corporation that holds itself above the law and even above the society. Let’s just talk about what it is and what it means to you. 

You may notice these questions tracking advertising you have previously clicked on across many sites, or you may see them coming from out of left field. If you have a normal level of healthy paranoia, the kind that recognizes that even paranoids have real enemies, you will soon be asking yourself some questions.

Some of the questions are a bit… intrusive, when you considered that your answers will be shared with everybody at Google, everyone who gives money to Google, and every agency in a government from which Google makes a life of seeking favors:

a_real_google-nsa_question

Again, this stuff goes into your personal file, and is used to target both advertisers and warrantless, persistent, pervasive government surveillance.

How to answer them? Who is behind them? Where does your answer go, and why? Who has access to your answers? Is it really a good thing to “answer truthfully,” as the shadowy organization behind the questions wants?

Answering truthfully is the worst mistake you can make.

The questions originate either from Google, or from the Mountain View company’s de facto managing partner, the National Security Agency. Google’s interest is to sell your profile to advertisers for more money. They say they safeguard your personal privacy in this, which they only do to the extent it’s needed for them not to lose control of the profile to their customersYour own interests are no factor in the equation. You are never respected, never represented, never consulted.

But that’s only half of it. Your answer is appended to your permanent profile across all the shadow realms of Google, and is available to all with access to Google, including, directly or directly, all United States government agencies, and an increasing number of foreign ones. In the USA, Google is credibly reported to provide direct access to its servers only to NSA. But that claim offers no reassurance, both because NSA does not respect your privacy (or even the laws it ostensibly works under), and because NSA provides unlimited and unsupervised access to other government agencies through so-called task forces and fusion centers, which permit any Federal, state or local agent pull your profile for any or no reason. (The agents are instructed to lie about their information sources on any resulting court documents, which is called by the euphemism “parallel construction”).

What’s more, the NSA connection to Google is not read-only. They can also alter data in your profile. How cool is that? (From their, and Google’s point of view, if not from yours).

Google’s real motto: “Don’t do evil… or we’ll make some money off of it.”

Once the source of the questions and destination of the answers is understood, only a madman would “Answer Truthfully!” even one of these questions.

So you have three options at this point:

  1. Do not answer the questions. In time, the data for the number of people who made it to the Google/NSA Privacy Invasion Questionnaire and backed out may encourage Google and advertisers to throw in the towel on this particular intrusion. In time, it may encourage newspaper managers to see that it is not in their best interest to drive away readers. However, that hinges on newspaper managers being alert enough to recognize their own interests, a proposition for which evidence is weak.
  2. Do answer the questions, but untruthfully. There are several approaches to this. Anything that can provide a hint of the right answer (such as, always choosing the most wrong answer) is probably a mistake. Google (and NSA, and Google’s other spy agency partners) will analyze your answers with very sophisticated algorithms. Choosing your answer consistently based on the position of the response (always first one, always last one, always middle, alternating first and last, etc.) is a superior choice because (1) it betrays nothing about you but your dislike for Google’s, NSA’s, and the newspaper’s invasion of your privacy and (2) it allows you to get through the pop-up Privacy Invasion Questionnaire without reading the responses. This information will be used against you. You gain nothing by providing it. You are under no obligation to tell these moral lepers the truth. 
  3. If you can figure out the advertisers who sponsor these questions, drop their marketing honchos a note telling them you’ve seen the company’s ad for Sex Tours of Thailand or whatever they sell popping up on every single one of your Google results, and you’ve never been in the market for a Patpong boom-boom vacation; the purpose of this is to set the two anti-privacy forces (marketing dweebs and Google) at one another’s throats.

Note that #3 is not exclusive of doing #1 or #2. The first two are mutually exclusive.

If enough people do this, we can pollute Google’s data, and that of the world’s spy agencies.

Exit thought: everyone has heard Google’s sanctimonious, prolefeed-for-the-public motto, and has come to mentally add the in-group-morality extension Google insiders have long operated by: “Don’t be evil… unless there’s a ha’penny in it.” Remember that Google has given complete access to US intelligence agencies, without any apparent thought or consideration. Now, you may be the person who thinks you are completely boring to NSA, but can you guarantee that no government agency, from the politicized IRS to the Amtrak SWAT team, will ever take an interest in you?

Why make these enemies of liberty more knowledgeable about you and yours? It’s not in your best interest. Answer untruthfully.

Drunk pulls (toy) gun on police, lives to have legal problems

Daniel E Sears mugshotThere are things everyone ought to know not to do. Like, pull a gun on the cops. Doing that is generally an indicator you’re committing Suicide By Cop, or otherwise are tired of living. No help if it’s a toy gun: by the time the PC Plod figures it out, numerous new orifices in your epidermis will be letting air in, and blood out.

But this guy — the picture looks like a selfie, but it’s actually his mugshot — managed to run into a couple of York, Maine cops who were flying high on the spirit of Christian forbearance.

He, on the other hand, seems to have been flying high on other spirits entirely. Now, a splitting hangover is far from his only problem.

After York police on Saturday asked a Canadian man staying at a local hotel for his identification, he returned with a gun by his side, according to police.

Police didn’t immediately know it was a toy gun, according to Sgt. Steve Spofford.

Daniel E. Sears, 42, 2931 Park Lane SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is charged on a felony count of criminal threatening with a weapon, according to the police report.

Wait, what? Canadian? Aren’t they the ones who shake their head sadly at Yanks With Guns? Well, it takes all kinds to make a country.

The incident happened at the Atlantic House Inn in York Beach around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the report.

Police went to the hotel because some women who were also staying there complained Sears was harassing them, according to police.

“The officers responded to disorderly conduct at the Atlantic House,” Spofford said.

This is one of the first hints that Sears had been hitting the Judgment Juice™. One thing that magical chemical elixir does, when it’s not turning run-of-the-mill Canadians into Mr Hyde, is make that same Mr Hyde cocksure that all the women within his bursting radius love him. Why, he can tell by the way they try to ignore him!

At first Sears appeared cooperative, he said. When the officers asked him for identification, he said he would get it.

“He returned with a gun, held at his side,” Spofford said.

via Intoxicated man with toy gun arrested in York, police say | SeacoastOnline.com.

This is the part where the cops had every right in the world to blast Sears to Kingdom Come, but instead they backed off, de-escalated, called for backup (you know, that one of the Rule for Gunfights that says, “bring friends with guns”?), and then asked him to come out, please, without the gun.

He did, and was taken into custody without further ado. The cops found two kids in the room, apparently Sears’s kids; family members are coming to take charge of them. Sears is in York County Jail for the time being.

We’d offer a thumbs down for Sears’s conduct, but we think he’s probably getting that from enough points of the compass already. We would like to note the professional, responsible (and, it turned out, correct) approach the York PD took to what turned out to be not all that routine a call. Sometimes the hardest correct call is not to shoot.

The Fix is In on “Dishonest John” Walsh

vote for felonsAccording to the Billings, Montana, Gazettepolitical appointees at the Department of Defense have taken control of the investigation in the War College paper of appointed Senator John Walsh. The bulk of the thesis, including all of its conclusions, previously appeared in other publications under other bylines; not to put too fine a point on it, “Dishonest John” Walsh’s submission, for which he was granted a Master of Science in Strategic Studies degree, was fundamentally not his work. But Dishonest John is an important political ally for the Administration and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. So Hagel has stepped in and seized control of the investigation, apparently intending to prevent any consequences for Dishonest John. From here on out, the “investigation” will be stage-managed by DOD political appointees.

A U.S. Army War College official says the Department of Defense has taken the unusual step of overseeing a plagiarism investigation against Sen. John Walsh of Montana. The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, college began the investigation after a New York Times story showed Walsh used others’ work without attribution in a 2007 research paper required for a master’s degree.

Knowing that this has been taken away from biased, shifty military officers and given to selfless public servants whose mortgage payments and kids’ tuitions depend on staying in the good graces of the politician under investigation and his cronies certainly ought to boost your confidence in the integrity of the investigation. The War College has, in recent years, revoked six degrees for plagiarism. The DOD never stepped in to protect a plagiarist before. Gee, what’s different about Dishonest John? Hat tip, the Chronicle of Higher Education (of all things).

Land of the Lost… Guns: Afghanistan

So, we saw this at Miguel’s, which led us to Fox News, which led us to the Washington Times, which still didn’t give up the primary source document. We wanted the primary source document because the numbers in the Times’s story didn’t add up.

The essential claims in these media versions of the story are:

  1. The Afghans have lost or sold off tens of thousands of the guns we gave them; and,
  2. The databases are poisoned with many duplicates; and,
  3. Most or many of the US-provided weapons were never entered in the database; therefore:
  4. Accountability for weapons in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANA/ANP) is nonexistent.

Here are the numbers as we pulled them from the report, and as the media spun ’em:

The narrative is that the Afghan National Army has lost tens if not hundreds of thousands of small arms, and that as a result We Are Doomed. It took some doing (anyone who thinks Obamacare’s website was uniquely mishandled has spent no time among the web gardens of the .gov or .mil) but we did unearth the document.

Two Databases Stood Back-to-Back, Refusing to Say a Word…

The problem is at once more complex, more nuanced, and more interesting than that. And for gloom and doom fans, we’re probably still doomed. The bottom line is that the US’s incredibly complex and inefficient inventory systems, which famously do not talk to one another, also don’t mesh with the inventory system we provided to Afghanistan. Three completely different (and fundamentally incompatible) IT systems track US-provided small arms in OEF. Those systems include:

  • SCIP, the Security Cooperation Information Portal, used in the USA by logisticians supplying materiel to American allies worldwide.
  • OVERLORD, the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database, developed in-country by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), the latest of several names for the US training HQ in-country.
  • CoreIMS, the Core Inventory Management System, a US-spec COTS inventory database that has been foisted off on our valiant Afghan allies.

Here’s a graphic from that famous primary source document that the Times and Fox wouldn’t show you, preferring to predigest your informational meal. (Here’s a link to the document: SIGAR 14-84.pdf. We’ve saved a copy in case the link goes  tango uniform). This shows what the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction thinks the process is:

dod_weapons_inventory_process

 

So what we have turns out to be, not vast numbers of guns vanishing as they take each step along the pipeline, but three different and incompatible databases having data that are at odds with one another.

Which database is right? Who knows? Could be any of them. Or none of them! In fact, all three databases could have wide discrepancies, and yet none of them have totals close to what actually exists in inventory.

But it turns out, if you actually read the SIGAR report instead of act like a Media Luminary and Skim Until Shocked, the auditors did that, and as it turns out, some of the numbers are before they deep-dove the data, and some of the numbers don’t represent what they appear to represent. Yes, Afghan inventories are a mess, but they’re not the mess the news stories describe. A spot check of weapons in storage at the ANA Kandahar depot, for example, found the weapons in the crates the database said they’d be in, and traced every weapon back in inventories that matched the weapons on site. A similar exercise at the ANP 22 Bunkers Depot appeared to have similar results, but the inspectors didn’t have time to complete the inspection.  True, other depots and units had more fragmentary records, and the ANA Central Supply Depot’s records were far off from what was inventoried on site. But by Afghan standards, it wasn’t all that bad.

Remember that the idea of weapons inventories was something that Afghans have never done, except when compelled by Soviet or NATO allies. That they don’t do it as well as the US DOD, while using a stack of incompatible and user-hostile systems imposed from outside, shouldn’t shock anybody.

If you’re an old Afghan hand, one fundamental error in this whole process will have jumped out at you from the very beginning: trying to impose a sophisticated Western computer system (actually, multiple systems; a fourth incompatible database called ULTRA, Universal Listing of Transactions for Record Accounting, is under construction for the ANP) on a nation of Iron Age illiterates. Illiteracy was 94% to 97% when we first went into Afghanistan (the Taliban had closed all schools except madrassas). Illiterates make weak computer operators, something that American loggies never considered for a minute before deciding to spin up the Afghans in Microsoft World. Results predictable:

According to CSTC-A officials, efforts to develop the capabilities of ANSF personnel to manage the central depots have been hindered by the lack of basic education or skills among ANSF personnel and frequent turnover of Afghan staff.

Gee, there’s a shocker. We impose US-style personnel turbulence and military bureaucracy on an ally where most of the population is illiterate and borderline innumerate, and as Wilkins Micawber might say, “results, misery.”

The Duplicate Serials Problem: Not Such a Big Deal

Then, there’s the duplicate serial numbers problem , which comes to rise for two reasons:

  1. The procurers, developers and operators of the system did not understand that different weapon makes and models may indeed use the same serial numbers, and different manufacturers may use the same serial numbers for their versions of the same firearm, and so they erred in trying to use serial number by itself as a unique key;
  2. Lack of communication between databases

Even the authors of the report don’t seem to find that their discovery of some duplicate numbers is meaningless. Here’s their table from the report:

sigar_serial_number_dupes

¡Ay, Chihuahua! (Old Afghan phrase). Yes, it’s not just an Afghan thing to have two weapons with the same serial number. Heck, the USA did it:

M1 Rifle Serial 1,608,803: these two receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

M1 Rifle Serial 1,628,802: these twin receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

Someone who knows weapons can clear these three discrepancies in about two tenths of a second. Like this:

  • DX2383 needs to be reconciled by eyes-on physical inventory, because it’s possible that this represents two different guns, but because an AMD-65 is a variant of AK-47, it’s equally possible that this is one gun described two ways. Several manufacturers made AK variants using serial numbers of this pattern, so only physical inventory can establish whether we’re talking about one gun or two here.
  • 178203 is obviously two different weapons, and a properly constructed database would not confuse an M203 with an M249 of the same serial number.
  • A598 is the very same problem, Russian-designed-weapons style.

As anyone who’s ever accounted for any significant quantity of firearms can tell you, serial numbers are only likely to be unique on a single type (i.e. make/model/caliber) of weapon made for a single customer by a single manufacturer. Now, we’re not sure what other US arms have duped serial numbers like the M1 example above. (We know M16A1 rifles and XM177 “submachine guns” had absolutely unique numbers because manufacturers had independent sN blocks).

But this duplication is spun by SIGAR, in their ignorance of firearms, as a major problem, and it is spun in turn by the media as a Chicken Little sky-is-falling moment. It’s only a problem because the database designers and auditors are ignorant of the limits of serial numbering.

We certainly admit that the SIGAR report does identify some real challenges facing Afghan services on weapons-inventory issues, and it points up the poor visibility into those issues that US service elements, including CSTC-A, have into Afghan inventories. As far as the weaknesses of Afghan inventory controls are concerned, this is news to us in which way? We were pleasantly surprised to see that some Afghan National Police elements are tracking their assigned weapons using Microsoft Excel. This means they have some literate cops, who can even use computers — that’s miles ahead of 2002, let us tell you. But the SIGAR is shocked by this, and by the fact they’re not using some high-dollar, centralized, fiddly data management system instead of Excel.

Crawl, walk, run, people. Trying to drop Afghans into RDBMS management when they not only haven’t got the hang of Excel, but are largely utterly unlettered, is asking for trouble.

One is reminded of Lawrence’s maxim not to do things for the locals, but to let them do it themselves, however imperfectly.

Breaking: Scruff Face Wins

When he was clean-shaven, and had a career (>30 years ago)

When he was clean-shaven, and had a career (30 years ago).

We didn’t see this coming…

Although verdicts in such cases are customarily unanimous, both sides agreed to a split verdict. The verdict of 8 to 2 was reached after more than a week of deliberations. Jurors awarded Mr. Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for what was termed the author’s unjust enrichment.

via Jesse Ventura Wins Defamation Case – NYTimes.com.

We hope he enjoys the money.

Does he think his reputation was worth it? Because that’s taken a bigger Streisand Effect hit from the suit than it did from the story in American Sniper — and both of those clobberin’s are bigger than the belt he took (or didn’t) to the jaw.