Monthly Archives: May 2016

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Canoes

Drowning_Man_by_JanooshThere is a lesson in this nameless tragedy: two men went out in a canoe, and only one came back, but this isn’t the close of Godfather II. The survivor, too, came back without the canoe. He and his father had been fishing on a Sunday morning (22 May 16), and they capsized their canoe. The son swam to shore.

The father never surfaced. His remains were found an hour later — which is pretty quick public safety work, given the need to call out the dive team at 0730 Sunday — deceased, presumably drowned (although the ME has yet to weigh in).

As we’ll see, drowning should not be underestimated as a risk, but first, the facts of the case:

A New London man died this morning at Lake Of Isles in North Stonington, after his canoe capsized and he went missing in the water for approximately one hour, police said.

His adult son, who was in the canoe with him, made it safely to shore without any injuries.

The two were fishing when the 14-foot canoe overturned and threw them into them into the water.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was alerted to the incident around 7:30 a.m. after state police received a 911 call.

Police and local fire departments pulled the 50-year-old father from the water and he was pronounced dead on the scene at 8:45 a.m., police said.

via Man Pronounced Dead On Scene After Capsizing Canoe With Son – Hartford Courant.

As it happens, drowning is common. In this interesting comparison, interesting because one of the favorite claims of gun banners is that they only do it “for the children,” economists compared deaths of young children (<=5) in bathtubs to young children by gunfire. The bathtub is the more hazardous device by far.

Humans are fragile creatures. One aspect of that fragilty is that we cannot breathe anything but gaseous oxygen.

 

Loyalty and Love Led me to VA. (Guest Post by Dr. Steve Temerlin)

(Steve, a VA Physician and six-tour Navy Doc, has twice commented on our criticism of the VA, where he works. This comment, occasioned by the Secretary Bob McDonald’s brain-dead comparison of VA waiting lines to those at Disney attractions, moved us and deserved wider readership, so we plucked it out and shared it with you. He’ll get to the picture in a minute. We made one punctuation change, and inserted paragraph breaks. At the end we’ll link to both his comments. -Ed.)

NOW ZAD, AFGHANISTAN - APRIL 02: U.S. Marine Sgt. Jasen Wrubel drags his foot while patroling with his squad on April 2, 2009 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Marines follow behind a land mine sweeper while on patrol, dragging their feet to create a safe path for other Marines to follow safely in single file. Taliban fighters have buried IEDs throughout the city to kill U.S. forces on patrol. The military says the remaining civilian population left the city in 2007. It is now a battleground between Taliban fighters and Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NOW ZAD, AFGHANISTAN – APRIL 02: U.S. Marine Sgt. Jasen Wrubel drags his foot while patroling with his squad on April 2, 2009 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Marines follow behind a land mine sweeper while on patrol, dragging their feet to create a safe path for other Marines to follow safely in single file. Taliban fighters have buried IEDs throughout the city to kill U.S. forces on patrol. The military says the remaining civilian population left the city in 2007. It is now a battleground between Taliban fighters and Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

I’ve written a couple of times sort of semi-defending my fellow actual patient care providers of the VA, so I thought I’d share my reaction to Secretary McDonald’s statement.

It made my left hand hurt.

I few years ago I was in a FOB in Nowzad in Helmand Province Afghanistan.  We had had a rough 48 hours after two EOD Sgt’s were killed trying to disarm an IED. I went out with the Marines to recover the bodies and was caught in an ambush for an hour before we could break free. We spent another day trying to recover as much of the body parts as we could.

At the end of the second day I was going through their recovered gear trying to separate all the remains before we turned the gear in. I found a palm sized piece of skull in one of the plate carriers and had to walk across the FOB back to medical hiding it in my hand. Several Marines came up to talk to me and I remember almost cutting my hand as I involuntarily squeezed the bone. All week I’ve been imagining walking up to Secretary McDonald and handing him the bone, saying “Here, you put this in the body bag.”

I don’t know why. I have 6 deployments worth of other memories, but that’s the one I’ve been having.

I don’t want to shut down the VA, I just want to see the Ruling Class experience the same pain and loss that we’ve had. I doubt it would change anything though.

The image I attached was taken by a Wall Street Journal photographer from the last month of our deployment. He wrote about Marines wearing out the soles of their right boots dragging them behind them on patrol. He thought it was to mark a path to walk in through the IED fields. That’s close but he didn’t understand. It’s easy enough to walk in the footprints in front of you. They were dragging their feet to try to deliberately detonate any IED’s the engineer in front with the metal detector missed, so they would die instead of their brothers. That’s what loyalty and love really is.

That’s why I took the VA job when I left the Navy, because I can never repay the debt of that kind of loyalty. Some days I hate the VA as much as any other Veteran, but what else can I do?

(Ed. again: Steve’s previous comments are here and here, and this comment was placed here. Please read his comments for an insider’s view of the VA and compare that to its current notoriety in the press — including in this blog).

FireClean is Not Crisco

VIDEO Snakes Revenge As Severed Head Bites And Kills Chef

It slices the sssnake, it putss the piecessss in the juicer, it makesss the lotion, it putss the lotion on the gun….

Nope, it’s Snake Oil. As a bunch of stories at Vuurwapen Blog and TFB demonstrated, spectrographic analysis of FireClean is consistent with it being nothing but rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, and/or chemically similar oils. Some people called it Crisco. But Crisco is a very pure, food-grade rapeseed oil; you can fry your morning hash browns in it, and they’ll taste delicious. Neither we nor the FDA recommend doing that with FireClean, and neither do the makers of FireClean. Your cardiologist would probably be equally distressed to see you frying up with either, but hey, if we all ate right, how would cardiologists ever make their Bentley payments?

Naturally, the guys who were buying 55-gallon drums of this stuff ($800/metric ton) and selling it (and a bunch of hype) in tiny plastic plastic squirt bottles for weren’t happy to have their secret outed, and so they sued Andrew Tuohy, the writer who first broke the news that FireClean was predominantly vegetable, specifically rapeseed, oil. They also sued Everett Baker, a chemistry student who did some analysis of the suspect formula as a college project, and published his results.

Apparently, showing the world the spectrum of FireClean is supposed to be like saying the name of God was to the Ancient Hebrews, as you can see in this clip from a Biblical documentary.

Yes, suing people for factually describing your product is certainly the way a corporation acts if its business model is based on developing advanced technology. It’s certainly not what a bunch of con artists would do when their con was exposed.

Or is it?

You can read the lawsuit — Andrew has posted it — and form your own opinion. (His lawyers’ memo in support of motion to dismiss is located here. If you donated to his legal defense fund you helped make that document, now donate again). We’re not lawyers, but what they’re demanding is, first, that Andrew and Everett be muzzled with respect to Crisco, er, FireClean. (Please Crisco, don’t sue us for comparing your fine cooking oil to the generic version marketed as a gun lube. No defamation of Crisco is intended).

Then, of course, they want money, because, well, for the same reason you might put cheap stuff in a bottle and sell it as expensive stuff: because they want money.

Meanwhile, of course, because the only justice that American courts are really concerned about is making sure that lawyers get paid, get paid off the top of the stack, and get paid handsomely, it’s going to cost Andrew and Everett a bunch of money to defend against this shakedown.

So there are two things you can do: never, ever, ever recommend, sell, or use FireClean, and throw a few bucks the defendants’ way.

Don’t feel bad for the brothers who run FireClean — when their product was challenged, rather that post science defending their product (there’s no scientific substance in their suit, just spectra of motor oils that are not like the vegetable oils at issue here), they went on legal attack-dog attack.

And there is this: we do not now, and we will not ever, use or recommend FireClean. (Even though Andrew! says it’s good gun lube).

Not only will they lose their SLAPP suit, they, and their product, deserve to be sent to market Coventry. We’re talking nuclear Streisand Effect in the megaton range.

Their major malfunction seems to be that even though their goop is, by its spectra, generic canola oil, it’s really a blend of three vegetable oils, so you can’t call it vegetable oil. They’re also really PO’d that people (not Andrew, who has been adamant about this) are calling it Crisco. And indeed, it might not deserve such a comparison, because it’s unfair to Crisco. The FireClean oils are somewhat like Crisco, except probably not food-grade; you can cook in Crisco, and it might not be safe in FireClean.

It gets better. If you read the suit, you find out their blend of three magic rapeseed oils ingredients.

The suit (available here) is simply full of conclusory assertions and outright falsehoods. Here’s just one:

53. The suggestion that FIREClean is not suitable for military use is false.

Here’s what the US Army’s graphic maintenance publication, PS Magazine (Issue. 735, February 2014, inside front cover) says about using snake oil lubricants like FireClean:

army_on_unauthorized_lubricants

Which tells you all you need to know about how suitable FireClean is for military use. The assertion that FireClean is suitable for military use is false, according to the US Freaking Army, who apparently were not consulted by FireClean’s ambulance-chasers. The military people in charge of lubricants Just Say No (to FireClean and to many other snake oil formulations).

PS elaborates:

[I]f you think you can improve on what the TM instructs you to do, then you’re asking for trouble. For example, using … a different lubricant than what the TM lists, can leave you … not being able to fire at all because your rifle jammed.
Also, just because something has an NSN doesn’t mean it’s OK to use.

That tells you that the attorneys who wrote line 53 there, Bemara J. DiMuro, Bureau of Prisons Nº (oops, Virginia State Bar Nº, but the mistake is understandable, given that both numbers say the same thing about a person’s character) 18784, and Stacey Rose Harris BOP VSB Nº 65887, aren’t shy about just making facts up and lying to advance their lawsuit.

Well, what do you expect? They’re lawyers, not people.

What to Do

  • Gun owners, do not buy FireClean.
  • If you bought it, return it and demand a refund. If they refuse a refund, complain to the BBB and your state Attorney General or other consumer authority. They want to play with lawyers, let them.
  • Range owners and stocking FFLs, stock other products instead. Return any FireClean to your distributor and demand a refund. After all, even if the company didn’t deserve the Market Death Penalty™ for this, it’s not like you’re going to be able to sell the stuff now.
  • Most of all, support Andrew’s legal defense. We donated, but it looks to us like fundraising has stalled out and he can use some more lettuce to feed his lawyers.

If they want to know why you’re returning it, tell them you thought it was Crisco. But now that you know this product with uncannily similar spectrum to Crisco rapeseed oil is not Crisco, you don’t want it; you want your money back. Because it’s not Crisco, right?

It’s snake oil.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 21

This Tour d’Horizon was built the way it’s supposed to be — gradually, throughout the week. So you might even see it on time!

This week’s installment includes: Guns, Usage & Employment, Cops-n-Crims, Unconventional and Current Warfare, Veterans’ Issues, and Lord Love a Duck.

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

He’s Got a Few Guns, Here

Lee Williams visited the Gun Point “Firepower Weekend”, and found it lived up to the billing.

Gun Point Firepower WeekendFor us, it’s great to see Felex Yukhtman doing well, still. We once bought something from him that was destroyed by UPS in transit. Dealing with Felex and GunPoint in what could have been a miserable deal from all possible directions made us realize that he is really a kindred soul, one of those Americans who wasn’t born here but got here as fast as he could.

You know, any businessman and any company can keep a customer happy when everything goes right. It’s when it all goes pear-shaped that you realize who you can count on.

How Did Suppressors Get Banned?

HiStandard Suppressed OSSAs you probably know, in some countries, suppressors are perfectly legal and sold without any licensing, like any other form of hearing protection; in others, they’re regulated like ordinary firearms. In the USA, they have been nearly forbidden by the cost and bureaucracy barriers imposed by the National Firearms Act for almost a century.

How did that come to pass? It turns out, as a draft law review article by Steven Halbrook explains, the ban was largely racist in origin.

William T. Hornaday published his Our Vanishing Wildlife (1913), which railed against both improved firearms and ethnic groups such as Italians and blacks. Hornaday saw catastrophe looming in the use of more accurate rifles and better binoculars, regretting also that “in Wyoming the Maxim silencer is now being used.” he first trained his wrath on disfavored ethnic groups. Because “all members of the lower classes of southern Europe are a dangerous menace to our wild life,” he proposed a law to “[p]rohibit the use of firearms in hunting by any naturalized alien from southern Europe until after a 10-years’ residence in America.” He denounced the blacks and “poor white trash” of the South for hunting doves and other birds for food… and harkened to the days “when the negroes were too poor to own guns.”

In 1924, Senator John K. Shields (a Democrat from Tennessee) introduced a bill to prohibit importation and restrict interstate commerce of pistols. He supported the bill in part with a report claiming that “we, the dominant race,” must suppress “the carrying by colored people of a concealed deadly weapon, most often a pistol.”

The initial NFA bill, H.R. 9066, would have defined “firearm” to mean “a pistol, revolver, shotgun having a barrel less than sixteen inches in length, or any other firearm capable of being concealed on the person, a muffler or silencer therefor, or a machine gun.”95 A muffler or silencer for a firearm not capable of being concealed on the person,such as a rifle or shotgun, was not included.
Attorney General Homer Cummings was the first witness in the hearings before the House Committee on Ways and Means, and he assured members that the bill would not affect “the ordinary shotgun or rifle.” But revolvers, pistols, “sawed-off” shotguns, and machine guns must be taken from “roving criminals” like John Dillinger.

In the extensive hearings up to this point, not one word was said about criminal misuse of mufflers or silencers….

But they wound up in the bill, anyway. Read The Whole Thing™, and you’ll come away convinced that our politicians today really aren’t a historically unprecedented set of creeps, cretins, and criminals. Yesterday’s pols were

Want a Winchester .30-30?

No? How ’bout a Makarov? Or a HAFDASA Ballester-Molina .45 from Argentina? Well, you can’t have ’em. The anti-gun Michigan State Police is sending them, and hundreds of other firearms, to be destroyed as deodands. (Hat tip, Dean Weingarten).

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way.

Brought a Machete to a Gun Fight

Machete Boy - Raheem Rogers

Machete Boy – Raheem Rogers

Not a recommended course of action. But there’s always some dumb cluck or two who’s gonna try it, and wind up with a few extra portholes for letting the air in and the blood out. Case in point:

Donald David Farrior Jr., 22, of 91 Barley Lane, Clinton, was detained for questioning, while the passenger, Raheem Christopher Rogers, 23, of 2033 Beulah Church Road, Turkey, was taken into the hospital for treatment.

Through investigation by Sampson County Sheriff’s authorities, it was determined that the suspects broke into a residence on Honeycutt Road. The homeowner, who was inside the residence at the time, encountered the suspects, one of which was carrying a machete. Armed himself, the homeowner fired at the subject holding the machete, striking him in the torso, authorities said. Both suspects then fled the residence.

Machete Boy's Buddy, Farrior

Machete Boy’s jailbird buddy, Farrior

Sheriff’s investigators have charged Farrior with breaking and entering and conspiracy to break and enter. Farrior was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under $30,000 secured bond.

Rogers was airlifted to Wake Medical Center, where he was being treated Friday afternoon. Warrants have been issued on him for the same charges of breaking and entering and conspiracy to break and enter.

According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Rogers is a convicted felon and registered sex offender. He was convicted of felony breaking and entering, larceny and indecent liberties with a child on March 28, less than two months ago, stemming from incidents in October 2015 (break-in and larceny) and August 2014 (indecent liberties). His sentence was suspended and he was given three years’ probation for the convictions.

Hey, how about treating a felony like a felony? 10-20-Life for your 1st-2nd-3rd? This guy was convicted of at least three serious felonies less than two months ago. What does a career criminal have to do to go to prison in North Carolina?

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

ATF I: Bureau Armed Killers in at least 69 Murders

ATF BadgeThey’ve been lying about it, but apparently the DOJ has known all along that, as ATF and DOJ leaders intended, the walked guns have been used in numerous homicides and other violent crimes. Judicial Watch, using the courts and the Freedom of Information Act as a lever, has pried loose DOJ documents that trace 94 Fast and Furious firearms recovered in Mexico to 69 killings, including a police chief and his bodyguard.

Fast and Furious was only one of several gunwalking programs intended to arm Mexican cartels. The operation was aimed at changing US public opinion to favor gun control, and increase ATF power.

In related, and unfortunate, news, the end is nigh for one of the two bloggers who broke the Gunwalker scandal wide open, Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars. Mike, who has been written out of much of the history by spotlight-seekers who followed, knows what he did, and so do the rest of us. He is being crazily productive as the Big C begins to close his coffin lid. We haven’t always agreed with him, but we and all Americans owe him quite a debt. (Without him, ATF would still be shipping thousands of modern weapons a year to their Mexican partners).

Canuckistan I: Mounties Want Your Money

Meet the Eye of Providence, canuck surveillance camor at least, the Eye of Proceeds. This combination of a digital single-lens reflex camera and a spotting scope is in use by the RCMP to spot people who menace life and limb by texting whilst driving.

Except they don’t use it for traffic safety. They use it to shake down motorists who are safely stopped — for money.

RCMP isn’t saying where the spotting scopes are being set up for obvious reasons, but it has admitted they are primarily being used at intersections t which drivers are stopped at a red light or a stop sign—where it’s still illegal to use your phone. It’s also easier for officers to snap a sharp photo of the offense when a vehicle isn’t whizzing by.

Of course, when they’re not “whizzing by,” they’re not putting anyone at risk. The coppers considered actually using it for traffic safety, but that was hard. Dudley Doright was not available for comment.

ATF II: Road Rage Roils Roads

An undercover vehicle! That’s like, license to be the biggest sphincter muscle on the road, right?

A citizen called police last week to report that the white unmarked SUV, equipped with red and blue interior dash lights, had attempted to pull him over on the Glenn Highway at around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“As the motorist yielded, the driver sped past him, laughed, and flipped him the middle finger,” police wrote at the time. “The complainant observed this occur three other times with the same results.”

Police said they obtained a photo of the vehicle’s license plate but were unable to find any matches from a computer check. On Monday, the department announced that the incident had been investigated, and the vehicle was in fact assigned to a law enforcement agency.

“Concerns from the public have been forwarded to the agency,” APD said Monday.

Where the agency — which was, for the record, ATF — “laughed, and flipped him the middle finger,” no doubt.

Hey, at least he wasn’t shipping guns to murderers. Or maybe he was. Maybe that’s why he was in such a hurry.

New Jersey: You Are Leaving the American Sector

Leaving the American SectorArthur Vinogradsky was charged with several crimes, but the charges were dropped. So he’s not guilty and he gets his guns back, right? Nope. It’s New Jersey, and an appeals court ruled that even dropped charges mean lifetime loss of his gun rights.

We bet he’s sorry his ancestors emigrated (or at least, didn’t keep going to Texas).

He’s not the only one: the state will also prohibit a person over traffic offenses, and that’s just been upheld in appeals court, too.

Meanwhile, there were 375 homicides in New Jersey last year, 105 of them in Newark. In response the Mayor eliminated the position of police chief, merging it with fire chief.  Yeah, that’ll help.

Canuckistan II: It’s Because I’m Black, Isn’t It?

canuck-the-crow-with-a-knifeMeet Canuck the crow, here in a file photo pilfering a knife. He’s legendary in his native Vancouver for his fondness for shiny things, and has his own Facebook page.

Enter the local cops, processing a crime scene where a guy who set his car on fire then attacked the cops, in a possible Suicide By Cop bid. He was apparently saved by Vancouver PD marksmanship, reconsidered, and submitted to arrest. But then Canuck tried to make off with the evidence. CBC reports:

“The crow was persistent, but the knife was eventually gathered as evidence,” Const. Brian Montague said in an email.

The bird was also spotted sitting on the roof of the burned car and trying to get into a camera operator’s gear

Of course, there’s no way of knowing if this knife-stealing crow was knife-stealing Canuck, specifically. Perhaps he is running a school for charismatic Canadian crows.

Department of Pre-Crime

This is a shock to everyone, except anyone paying attention:

Created by the Chicago Police Department, the list uses data such as number of arrests, shootings and gang member affiliations to assign a score to individuals. The higher the score, the greater the chances of being involved in a violent altercation.

In 2016 thus far, more than 70 percent of the people shot in Chicago were on the list. Also on the list: more than 80 percent of those arrested in connection with shootings.

The police superintendent says that out of nearly 3 million Chicagoans, 1,400 men and boys account for most of the homicides and other violence.

The Perils of Kathleen: When A Crook is All You Got; +P for Paranoia

With most of the Keystone State’s politicians, media, and even prosecutors and judges rolling out the carronades to blast her to Kingdom Come, Korrupt Kathleen Kane needs to hang on to the few loyalists she has left. Like Peeping Patrick Reese.

Kane kept Reese on payroll despite objections from other staff and an office policy — which Kane signed herself in 2013 — stipulating that employees charged in relation to their employment be suspended without pay. According to the policy, the employee “shall be terminated” upon conviction.

Reese, a former police chief from the Lackawanna County borough of Dunmore, was charged last August, convicted in December and sentenced to three to six months in March.

Peeping Patrick is headed to the one of the state’s all-inclusive resorts for spying on other Attorney General’s Office workers’ emails for Kane. He’ll be the only guy in the County House drawing $99,658 salary and $62,000 other benefits! Who says crime doesn’t pay?

In a loosely related matter, interviews with many staffers reveal “Rampant paranoia” in Kane’s office.

Lawsuits from ex-staffers and court filings in the criminal case against Kane detail a culture of paranoia that took hold as she engaged in a protracted war with former prosecutors and then reacted to the consequences of those disputes.

“If I get taken out of here in handcuffs, what do you think my last act will be?” Kane reportedly told her first deputy, Bruce Beemer, according to court documents.

Of course, life inside the Attorney General’s Office is more complicated than the salacious details from case records can possibly convey.

Agents and prosecutors within the office, by their nature, tend to follow the strictures of the chain of command without question. For example, they continue to use Kane’s honorific — “General” — even as she faced criminal charges stemming from the alleged leak of secret grand jury materials, had her law license suspended and virtually disappeared from her Harrisburg office.

The general reportedly still communicates with her top deputies via email, but even those communiqués have grown sporadic. She also occasionally appears in Harrisburg, as she did last Tuesday, but there’s no apparent regularity to her comings and goings. No one in the office seems to know what she does on a day-to-day basis and Kane has not responded to PennLive’s requests for comment.

Paranoia? You’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you. And maybe, just maybe, you deserve to have them out to get you.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. (We’ll have more next week)

TSA Replaces Failure… Slings Him $90k in Bonuses

They made a big deal out of a public sacking of some drone named Kelly Hoggan. But not only did they sling him the money, but they structured it as a bunch of $10k payments to evade Congressional scrutiny. The Washington Post:

One of the practices that led to Kelly Hoggan’s removal as head of the TSA’s crucial security division is common enough to have a name: smurfing.

“Smurfing is breaking specific financial transactions into something below the reporting requirement, which is what happened here,” said John Roth, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

It was undercover agents from the inspector general’s office who last year were able to penetrate security checkpoints at U.S. airports while carrying illegal weapons or simulated bombs, 95 percent of the time.

Hoggan received bonuses of $10,000 on six different occasions, and three others just above or below that amount, over a 13-month period in 2013 and 2014, according to information collected by the DHS, which oversees the TSA.

The bonuses… were in ­addition to Hoggan’s $181,500 salary.

As you might expect for a scheme hatched by the Brain[dead] Trust at TSA, it didn’t work. No one good, decent, moral, ethical, competent or intelligent has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

It gets better though. That public firing? Uh, it didn’t actually happen. Yes, he was sent home, but he’s still drawing that $181,500 salary and benefits that roughly double the value of his pay package. They call it “paid administrative leave” but it looks a lot like bonus vacation.

Of course, the net effect of TSA on security is such that you improve security every time you pay one of these duds not to work.

Nice Work if You Can Get It

Two pointy-headed guys conceive a fruity scenario and then spin it to create an opportunity for one’s company.

Hot tip: if a firm is located in the National Capital Area, or does more than half its business with governments, it’s not an innovator, it’s a rent-seeker.

That site is a great source of armchair expertise, divorced from actual reality. Case in point. There is an occasionally interesting post, but most of them… sheesh.

Veterans’ Issues ALL NEW

Is it time to disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

All the Links you Need on the Disney Kerfuffle

Reporters at a press conference with current VA figurehead Bob McDonald asked — and if you know any reporters, this is nothing short of astonishing — a sensible question about the VA death queues. The New York Times:

At an event with reporters on Monday, Mr. McDonald was asked why the department did not publicly report the so-called create date when veterans first ask for medical care, which could be used to calculate how long they are waiting in lengthy backlogs for their appointments.

Instead of answering the question, McDonald proved he has been fully institutionalized in the VA by pushing back at the idea of any metric or accountability on wait times, possibly because he doesn’t seem to have been effective in reducing them. And then he fired the shot heard round the world:

The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring… When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?

Well, yes, actually, they do; unlike the VA, the Disney theme parks manage their wait times intensively — and imaginatively.

Deep in the bowels of Walt Disney World, inside an underground bunker called the Disney Operational Command Center, technicians know that you are standing in line and that you are most likely annoyed about it. Their clandestine mission: to get you to the fun faster.

And so [Disney] has spent the last year [2011-12] outfitting an underground, nerve center to address that most low-tech of problems, the wait. Located under Cinderella Castle, the new center uses video cameras, computer programs, digital park maps and other whiz-bang tools to spot gridlock before it forms and deploy countermeasures in real time.

Bad choice of example, Bob. Instead, he wants to measure satisfaction with soft-focus surveys and other tools that pretend management concern, rather than with hard data.

A million pointers-n-shriekers demanded McDonald’s head, or at least an apology, which won’t be forthcoming, unless it’s the “I’m sorry you’re such a sorehead over this” variety.

Instead, there’s a crony-capitalist deal with CVS Pharmacy to treat vets for pennies on the dollar at in-pharmacy Minute Clinics.

Billions for Bonuses, but Not One Cent for IT

ClippyThat seems to be the way the VA rolls. The big splash was the use of 8-nch floppies in nuclear missile silos — something that the USAF has mentioned repeatedly in recent years, so it shouldn’t have shocked us — but buried deep in this CNN report, we learn that other agencies, and, naturally…

…Veterans Affairs, “reported using 1980s and 1990s Microsoft operating systems that stopped being supported by the vendor more than a decade ago,” GAO said.

Hey, they’d never be able to process a claim without Clippy to help them.

This is Why Dead Guys Can’t Have Nice Things

In the tiny burg of Hiram, Georgia, one Christian-hating, soldier-hating militant atheist was chortling with glee at getting a memorial removed.

Many thought the crosses on Highway 92 were an appropriate Memorial Day display, but a short time after the crosses went up outside a city of Hiram building, they came down.

The handmade crosses were meant to represent the 79 Paulding Countians who died in America’s wars.

The abrupt disappearance of the display prompted some social media outrage, and many volunteered to put up the crosses on private property.

Others told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt this is political correctness run amok.

“People who are non-Christian shouldn’t be offended by that because they gave their lives for our country, and that’s the way I look at it.”

People who are “non-Christian” probably aren’t. People who are anti-Christian, and, just coincidentally, anti-veteran, on the other hand….

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to. 

This has nothing at all to do with the usual subjects of this blog, but the New York Times, which has supported the execrable Nick Denton and Gawker (perhaps because Gawker is the Times‘s id) in the Hulk Hogan lawsuit, outed Silicon Valley venture cap Peter Thiel as the financier behind Hogan’s GDP-of-Malta (we exaggerate, but…) legal bills.

Why did the Times do it? There’s a clue in the article:

A libertarian, Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

We understand not liking Trump; we don’t like him either (for many of the same reasons we don’t like Nick Denton, actually). We’re probably going to hold our nose and vote for him in November, on the 2nd Amendment issue alone, and may God have mercy on us and the nation. We can understand (although we feel pity) a person or group of them, in this case a newspaper, being  in the tank for one political party to such a depth that that they have to breathe heliox whilst mentioning the other. We can’t understand taking it to the degree where you stroke Denton, the Julius Streicher of the day, and kick Thiel, who seems to have lived a life of engaged productivity. His private life, in that, is of no consequence; he neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg, which is more than you can say for the Times’s usual political enthusiasms.

We came out of the profile liking Thiel (and Hogan!) all the more, and the Times and its reporters Herrman, Goldstein and Benner all the less. The ex-Gawker journalist Owen Thomas quoted in the article comes off even more crass than the Times trio. One suspects that many of these journalists support the commercial use of Hogan’s sex tape for the simple reason that they have no prospect of making one themselves.

There’s ‘posed to be a post…

We’re sure there is. The 1800 Friday post. It was right here a moment ago, and then, and then…

Well, it’s jolly well missing now, isn’t.

No it isn’t, this post is there.

This post? What, are we in a post?

I’m afraid so.

Isn’t that a bad thing? When posts become self-aware?

Not really. If you keep a proper sense of humility about yourself, and don’t go getting a swollen head.

So … we’re inside a computer? Like, a simulation? Like The Matrix?

Oh, lighten up, Francis. The Matrix seemed like a new idea in Hollywood, but that’s because those guys are all baked all the time. The old “we’re in a simulation, waaah,” shtick was old and a cliché when Joe Haldeman did it, and he’s dead.

Haldeman, wasn’t he one of Nixon’s…

Different Haldeman. Never mind. And actually, now that I think about it, he’s not dead. Nixon’s Haldeman is.

Anyway, if the computers are sentient….

Yes?

Bad things happen. All the time.

This is not Skynet, you know. It’s just a blog.

Thank you for clearing that up.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Altitude Sickness

Francys Asteniev was an American climber who died with her husband Sergei on Everest in 1998. For years her body was exposed, but other climbers covered her with this flag. It is not practical to recover bodies from Everest.

Francys Arsentiev was an American climber who died with her husband Sergei on Everest in 1998. For nine years her body was exposed, but other climbers moved her away from the usual ascent route, and covered her with this flag. It is not practixcal to recover bodies from Everest.

Climbing is one of those things. It can kill you, everybody who does it knows it can kill you, and everyone that gets killed was expecting it to kill the other guy.

It’s kind of like being a member of a street gang, but more socially acceptable in civilized and educated circles.

Climbing has a lot of ways to kill you, especially on 8,000 meter peaks (and Everest is almost 9,000). Pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, exposure, hypothermia, falls, snow blindness… it’s still amazing anyone pulls this off (and yet hundreds have this year). But not everybody comes home.

Two Indian climbers have gone missing on Mount Everest, an expedition organizer said Sunday, after two deaths from apparent altitude sickness in recent days highlighted the risks on the world’s highest mountain.

Paresh Nath and Goutam Ghosh have been missing since Saturday, said Wangchu Sherpa of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency in Kathmandu. They were last seen near the Everest summit.

Two of their companions who fell sick were being helped down the mountain, Sherpa said. About 30 climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days.

Most of the sick climbers suffered frostbite while attempting to reach the summit or on their descent, Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said. Favorable weather has allowed nearly 400 climbers to reach the summit from Nepal since May 11, but the altitude, weather and harsh terrain can cause problems at any time.

Several Sherpa guides carried one sick climber from the highest camp, at nearly 26,240 feet, to Camp 2, at 21,000 feet, where attempts were being made to pick her up with a helicopter, said Pemba Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks agency in Kathmandu. Seema Goshwami of India had frostbite to her hands and feet at the South Col camp and was unable to move.

“It took a big and risky effort, but we were able to save her,” Pemba Sherpa said, adding that an Iranian climber identified only as S. Hadi had been brought to Kathmandu and was recovering in a hospital.

A Norwegian woman, 45-year-old Siv Harstad, suffered snow blindness and was helped down from the summit on Saturday, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.

The two climbers who died were on the same expedition team. It was undecided when and if their bodies will be brought down from the high altitude and it will depend on the team and family members, Pasang Phurba of the Seven Summits agency said. Carrying bodies down Everest takes at least eight Sherpa guides, since they become frozen and heavier than normal.

More details were not available because of communication difficulties on the 29,035-foot mountain.

The two deaths were the first confirmed this year on Everest, during a busy climbing season that follows two years in which the peak was virtually empty due to two fatal avalanches.

via 2 climbers dead, 2 missing on Mount Everest – Hartford Courant.

Being missing on Everest just about never ends well. They’re not camping up there, above the 8,000-meter line; they’re dying, and they gamble that they can summit and return before death overtakes them.

That report is a few days old. One of the missing Indians turned up today, not alive but, as everyone who’s ever used an ice axe and crampons could have told you, dead. The toll is now six dead and zero missing.

One of the dead climbers had been on a quixotic adventure to proved that “vegans can do anything!” Sure they can, and women can be infantrymen and you can be any one of 82 “genders” you want, and Black Lives Matter (even if they take up crime?) and no one will ever, ever intrude on your Safe Space.

Turns out, that vegetarians freeze-dry as well as meat-eaters, just like their foods. But Unique and Special [Vegan] Snowflake™’s mom is unhappy about that, and looking for someone to blame.

Maria Strydom, had died of altitude sickness in the arms of her husband, Robert Gropel, Saturday as the couple attempted to climb the world’s tallest peak to prove that vegans can do anything. She was one of four climbers who died on Everest in a grim span of four days.

[Mama] Strydom still wants answers.
She believes her daughter, known by friends and family as Marisa, was in the “death zone” for too long.
“No one is supposed to stay in the death zone longer than 16 to 20 hours. If you stay there longer you will be dead,” Strydom told CNN.

“I am very, very concerned. I’m concerned about a lot of things,” she added. “In their itinerary it was suggested they would sleep over at camp 3 for their acclimatization. They didn’t.”

Strydom also is upset that she had to learn of her daughter’s death on the Internet

And she’s upset that the Sherpas don’t like risking their lives to bring the corpses of dead climbers down. In the end, the Sherpas did recover her daughter’s body, brought it down to Camp 2, and from their it was flown to Katmandu, and presumably, home. So at least she will not join Francys and Sergei Arsentiev, George Mallory, and the other 200 or so bodies on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain.

OT: The Butterfly and the Mower

The butterfly was small — maybe ¾ of an inch wingspan, if it stopped, which it didn’t. It appeared to be looking for something on the rich, long green lawn. It was a light blue with the sort of translucent sunglow that insects achieve effortlessly, and artists strive for a lifetime to get not-quite-right. Small it was, but its color and motion commanded one to look.

The nervous system of a butterfly is fairly rudimentary, so there’s really no way it could have conceived of the doom heading its way. It might have sensed — indeed, given its fragility and relationship with air pressure, it must have sensed — the staccato, rhythmic thunder of an engine, something it could not have conceived; or the sound of blade tips, at a high subsonic speed, shearing the grass to an unnatural, uniform level.

The butterfly could not imagine the lawnmower.

The mower, for its part, could not imagine the butterfly. Built on a production line in America with parts that seemed to come from half the world, it was a dumb machine. Perhaps it was smart for a lawnmower, given its electronic this and solid-state that, but that’s not saying much. The butterfly’s death was written in the swathes, in the next of which it unconsciously gamboled; it could no more know Death advanced than Death itself, Model 150Z Zero-Turn with the 42-inch deck, could know itself.

The death of a butterfly is an inevitability. Every living creature owes God, at the momentary flash of its conception, one death, sooner or later. For a butterfly, the delta between sooner and later is small. Most butterflies, in their adult stage, live only to reproduce — they can’t grow, and many of them don’t even feed. It’s all about the eggs.

It seemed, then, of no consequence that the mower was due to destroy the butterfly. It shouldn’t have mattered one way or another — not to the operator of the mower, who condemned higher animals for meals daily; who had visited all the woe that is war on other humans. After all, it wouldn’t have bothered him if he mowed the butterfly and didn’t know about it. And another time — in crass teenage, perhaps, and certainly Before War — he might have laughed about it.

But today, the operator stopped the mower. Dead in its tracks. The butterfly moved on, unaware that its precious, tiny, one-week life had ever been someone else’s to take. In a minute or so, when the little blue life was safe, the mower moved on as well.

Later, the operator discovered that the little life that he didn’t want on his conscience today was a Karner Blue Butterfly, an endangered species named by, we are not making this up, Nabokov. Yes, that Nabokov; while he’s remembered as a novelist, he was an avid amateur lepidopterist.

Rifles: 2nd Half of the 19th Century

We have commented before on how interesting it is that no firearms advance gives any nation a lasting advantage. This takes place both because everybody who is not experiencing success copies others’ successes with alacrity, and because technology tends to advance at about the same rate everywhere, as equally bright people work to develop new ideas on the shoulders of the same body of prior work.

Reasons notwithstanding, you can pick just about any period in history and watch the armies of the nations of the world advance together, as if they were in step. Let’s pick the second half of the 19th Century, which began with everyone more or less on the same sheet of music — call it Movement I, maestoso, with Minié or other displacing balls fired from muzzle-loading rifle-muskets — and at the end of a rapid flurry of advances was playing a livelier gavotte on repeating bolt-action rifles firing fixed centerfire ammunition.

Experimental 45-70 Springfield

In the middle of the 19th Century, the question was: how do we get from rifle-musket to breechloader? Conversions were the answer almost everywhere.

We’ve made rather a dog’s breakfast of too many metaphors there. We promise to stop; we’ll stick to declarative sentences, here on out.  In military service, service long-arms passed through four stages between 1850 and 1900, almost regardless of nation. Here’s a little graphic illustrating what we mean.

rifle_history_1850-1900Germany is an outlier here, in part because we selected Prussia as our representative German state (the German Empire wasn’t unified under the Prussian crown yet at the start of this period. Had we chosen Bavaria it might have looked more like the other nations).

At the end, we just didn’t have room for the definitive bolt-action repeater, the Mauser 98!

If Germany was a leader, looking at the dates, the United States was a bit of a laggard; the 1888 Springfield was fundamentally unimproved from the 1865 Allin conversion. Imperial Russia, often thought of as backward, doesn’t look nearly as bad. (Of course, adopting a rifle is one thing; producing enough of them to arm the Russian Army is a whole other challenge). It would be interesting to add other powers, such as Spain and Sweden, and perhaps some of the more advanced South American lands, to the chart.

Although we like our bright colors, the next step ought to be to make a proper Gantt chart of it, in which you’d see how much variation there was in years of adoption, visually.

By the way, the individual steps are not nearly as neat and clear as the graphic implies. This comprehensive and illustrated analysis of the Enfield P.53s progress to the Snider is representative. Like the Allin conversion in the USA, the Snider won out over many possible alternatives in testing. (And here’s a great page on the Martini-Henry, the Snider’s follow-on). For every repeater, breech-loader, and conversion that was adopted, there were many also-rans.

The Greatest Gun Salesman in History! Infographic

We’ve covered the growth of the market in many posts with fairly dry statistics and some freeze-dried bar and line charts. But the guys at ammo.com made it all into a slick infographic.

It’s nice to know that, if he isn’t comforted enough by all the racial healing he brought to a benighted and undeserving nation, he still has earned one superlative that no one can take away from him.

Well, except the next President. If we’re unlucky.

Click to activate the fullsizenator.

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Via: Ammo.com

Of course they would appreciate it if you rewarded their hard work by going to their site and signing up for their ammo-deal email, or, better yet, buying some ammo.

We notice they have bulk ammo in some of the odd pistol calibers we use, like .25 and .32.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Camels

Ah, yes, exotic Indja. Seems like only yesterday…

Well, on to the meat, as it were, of the story, it seems we have an outlier of an ill-tempered beast, even among a species known for being ill-tempered beasts. And an owner who learned a one-time lesson (the kind taught by experience, that is, exam first) in humane treatment of animals.

JAISALMER: Left in the heat with its legs tied all day, a camel attacked its owner and severed his head in anger in Rajasthans Barmer district on Saturday. About 25 villagers struggled for 6 hours to calm the animal down.Urjaram of Mangta village was entertaining guests at his house on Saturday night when he suddenly realised that his camel had been out in the heat all day with its legs tied. He was attacked when he tried to untie the annoyed animal.

“The animal lifted him by the neck and threw him on to the ground, chewed the body and severed the head,” villager Thakara Ram said. Villagers revealed that the camel had attacked Urjaram in the past as well.

Areas in Rajasthan are witnessing some of the highest mercury levels in the country. Jawans patrolling the border with Pakistan, too, are facing a tough time dealing with camels in this heat. Recently, a camel attempted to get a jawan off its back while rushing to the shade.

via Tied in heat all day, angry camel severs owner’s head – Times of India.

A “jawan” is a soldier, if you didn’t pick it up from context.

Yeah, it is starting to look like Animal Planet around here. OK, after this we’ll lay off the critter stories, and our When Guns are Outlawed decedents will have to fall to bad luck, acts of God, or other humans for at least a week or so.

Now, in the instant case, camels are notoriously cranky and difficult beasts, the Eurasian/Middle Eastern ones more than their Andean camelid cousins. In Australia, they’re an invasive species; introduced to the American Southwest as military pack animals (the action officer was a young regular named Jefferson Davis), their advantages over horses and mules didn’t override their disadvantages relative to those same creatures. Abandoned to the desert, they mercifully died out.

So, in this case, we had unusual weather, plus, an especially cranky individual of an especially cranky species. Sounds like a recipe for caution, to us.