Monthly Archives: July 2016

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Bridges

wile_e_coyote_gravityRemember, when you hear about “gun violence,” with staggering numbers, 2/3 of the numbers used by the Democrats’ gun control groups like Everytown and Americans for Responsible Solutions are suicides.

What do people without guns do, when they want to snuff it? Turns out, a firearm is not a necessity. A suicide has options from the old Sylvia Plath gas oven to Socrates’s poison to the ever popular leap into eternity from a high place.

A woman who jumped from the Interstate 95 bridge last Thursday died from her injuries and was identified as Tanya Neal, age 38.

Responders from multiple agencies were called Thursday when a witness reported seeing the woman jump from the northbound side of the I-95 bridge, which spans the Piscataqua River. Responding at 10:11 a.m. were police and firefighters from Portsmouth, Kittery and Maine State Police, said Portsmouth Fire Chief Steve Achilles. Assisting were the Coast Guard and Marine Patrol, both of which recovered the woman from the river, Achilles said.

Neal was transported by Marine Patrol and the Coast Guard to Portsmouth firefighters/EMTs who were waiting in Prescott Park, Achilles said. She was then transported by ambulance to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

via Woman dies after jump from I-95 bridge – News – – Portsmouth, NH.

Somewhere, Shannon “40” Watts is furious that Ms Neal did not use a firearm to end her sad life, thereby depriving Watts of a statistic.

We’re grateful for the USCG and the Marine Patrol for fishing her remains out of the river. If not immediately recovered, the leapers’ carcasses wash up on the beach in my town in three weeks to a month, in a state of advanced ripeness.

Better yet, if you’re thinking about killing yourself, don’t. It might end your suffering, but it casts misery into many lives, and those good people don’t deserve to have you messing their heads up. So suck it up, Sunshine, and seek help for your depression before it gets to the bridge catwalk.

Defense Incompetence: It’s Not Just American Anymore

bundeswehrAs a week of wanton violence in Germany by the equivalent of issei immigrants and nisei sons of immigrants wrapped up with a suicide bombing, Mutti Merkel’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, spilled to the German media that the Bundeswehr is training Syrians in noncombat specialties.


Like every other aspect of Merkel’s foreign and defense policy, the answer seems to come down to feelz.

The German military is training more than 100 Syrian migrants for civilian roles suited to helping the eventual reconstruction of their country, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in remarks released ahead of publication on Sunday.
Von der Leyen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily that the pilot programme was focused on training migrants in a variety of areas such as technology, medicine and logistics.

It was not immediately clear if von der Leyen planned to expand the programme to include more of the one million migrants who arrived in Germany last year.

“The idea is that they will go back to Syria one day and help with the reconstruction” of their war-shattered country, von der Leyen told the newspaper.

Do the German people get to pick the “one day”? If so, look for this word: the German for “yesterday” is Gestern. Germans are joining the citizenry of the US and UK in a certain loss of faith in their Anointed Ones.

She said Germany could also play a role in training Syrian security forces once it had a responsible government.

Well, it has several of them, and there’s no bottom to the depths of depravities that each of them is responsible for. But that’s probably not what she means.

Syrian refugees can carry out civilian tasks for the German military, but are not eligible to work as soldiers, she said.

She says that like it’s a bad thing. Why she’s tempted to suit up these warm bodies in Feldgrau is clear enough. Right now, the BW is at its lowest headcount ever since it was first fully established in the postwar era. That is matched by a similar weakness in the usual counters of military strength, like numbers of tank or combat aviation units (which are down) and percentages of equipment in a green readiness state (which is below 50% everywhere, even lower than the availability of trained human crews.

For crying out loud, the nation that powered the rise of Krupp can’t even get their infantry rifle sorted out, and they’re the literal descendants of the brilliant engineers and technicians that conceptualized, developed, and fielded the original assault rifle — while two mighty air forces were bombing them back to a first approximation of the Stone Age, and three and a half armies (½=the Free French) were gnawing at their every frontier.

Some of us are old enough to remember when American and Russian designers borrowed ideas from German arms. But the students have turned the tables on the teacher, here.

And now, they want to recruit the jihadi diaspora, of whom a good one in ten is a clandestinely sworn opponent1, into their Army, to try to arrest its decline towards Ruritanian status.

Ask a Roman, if only you can find one: how did the barbarians work out as legionaries?

Von der Leyen sparked controversy within her own Christian Democratic party recently when she suggested that EU citizens could in certain cases take over armed roles in the German military. The defence minister also advocates greater diversity in the German military and moves to recruit more immigrants.

via German Military Trains Over 100 Syrian Migrants.

The Germans have some history with foreign mercenaries, both using them during the Second World Unpleasantness, and being them during various 18th and 19th century conflicts, including the American War of Independence. Historically, mercenary armies have seldom benefited their paymasters much, and it’s seldom been a good deal for the individual soldiers themselves. (Maybe for those of George III’s Hessians who deserted and remained in the New World). Mercenaries have been effective from time to time against Arabs or Africans, but not against competent soldiers. One reason is baked into the whole thing: a guy who fights for a paycheck is always one tight spot away from deciding that they don’t pay him enough for this $#!+.

But then, if mercenaries generally make little sense for modern civilized armies, they make no sense of all when you recruit them from among civilization’s enemies.

Seriously, we thought it took an Ash Carter to be this stupid.


  1. We don’t know how many of the “Syrian” migrants accepted into Germany are cuckoo’s eggs; we do, however, know that 13% of them dropped off the radar on admission and never showed up at the refugee centers to which they were directed.

Negligent Discharge: The Shooter’s Story

think safety signThis story was told by a Marine, Private Johnathan T. Markert, while he was in the the Marine brig at Camp Hansen, Japan, for the negligent homicide of a friend. We believe that he has since been released from confinement on completion of his sentence.

You’ve heard the basic safety rules for handling weapons and undoubtedly will hear them again. Maybe you’ve heard them so many times you’re getting tired of them. But it’s vitally important that you understand these rules, accept their value, and, above all, follow them when you’re handling a weapon in any situation. Believe me, I know.

As we will see, his problem was not just a violation of common safety rules, but a complete lapse of self-discipline.

I graduated boot camp and infantry school with ease, and I was eager and motivated to hit the fleet. Being sent to Hawaii was a dream come true. Senior Marines were very encouraging and told me I was going to go places in the Corps. We went on our annual unit deployment program to Okinawa, Japan, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was assigned to stand post as a sentry at the gates of Camp Hansen, which would involve handling loaded 9 mm pistols. Not a problem for me; I thought, “I’m a machine gunner and a pistol is my secondary weapon. I know this gun inside and out.” Unfortunately, I disregarded basic safety rules and ignored what a 9 mm round can do to a human being.

You wan to guess what comes next? If it were a crime, it would be “clowning with a firearm, First Degree, your honor.” But we’ll let Markert describe it:

On a quiet Sunday evening in June 2003, two Marines and I were scheduled for duty at one of Camp Hansen’s gates. We climbed into the back of a HMMWV to be driven to post. A quarter-mile ride to the gate was all it took for my life to change and a fellow Marine’s life to end.

toe tagA close friend and I pulled out our 9 mm pistols and began to play around with them. We pointed the weapons in all directions, including at each other; put them on “fire; ”and cocked the hammers. We then began a mock tussle, which was all it took for my pistol to fire.

My world stopped moving at that point, and a tragedy began for me, my friend, our families, and many others.  I went into shock and thought it couldn’t be happening, but it was happening right in front of me. I’d shot my friend and fellow Marine in the head.

I froze as he slumped to the floor of the HMMWV. Blood pooled on the floor as I scrambled to give him first aid. By this time other Marines had converged on the HMMWV. Someone said he was dead, but I found he still was breathing.

I thought I could stop the bleeding with my shirt. But as I wrapped the shirt around his head, I felt tissue and other matter near the wound. I feared for my friend’s life and was numb with despair by the time EMT personnel arrived and took him from my arms. They took him to the hospital, where he languished for 8 days before succumbing to the wound I’d inflicted.

And then, as the saying goes, his troubles began.

I was handcuffed and taken to the provost marshal’s office, where the investigation and the longest night of my life began. The investigators asked detailed questions and focused on our horseplay. The process was painstaking and added a helpless feeling of regret to my fear and despair. I couldn’t see—let alone accept—that a moment of foolishness could lead to something so horrible. I was placed under suicide watch after questioning and on legal hold and liberty risk upon my release.

We’d like to add at this point that the M9 is an extremely safe firearm, to the extent that such an oxymoron can ever be true. It has several positive safeties, including a heavy first-round double-action trigger pull; a positive visual and tactile loaded-chamber indicator; and a simple operating system that can be taught to a basic operator in a couple of hours. It has been operated safely by literally millions of troops since its 1980s introduction. (And some of us had our hands on M9 precursors in the late 70s).

M9-pistolBut even this idiot-proofed weapon can’t compete with the natural skills of the improvisational idiot. He ignored the passive safeties and defeated the active ones, including the double-action lockwork of the pistol. He never looked at or finger-swept the loaded chamber indicator. He put it in a state of readiness to fire, and then, according to all the survivors, engaged in some kind of tussle. His buddy was just as big an idiot for playing along with him.

This is a relatively rare example of someone being court-martialed for a negligent discharge. It’s understandable in the light of the consequences, and, not to put too fine a point on it, in the light of Markert’s lowly rank at the time (about to get lower, of course). People make excuses for higher ranking officers in similar circumstances, but the services land with both feet on a junior enlisted guy.

This kind of make-an-example-of-him approach is hard on the negligent shooter, but he’s damaged, probably irreparably, at that point, so why not use him to send a message pour encourager les aûtres?

Six months of agony and anguish passed before my court-martial, which was as heart-wrenching as a funeral and as bad as reliving your worst nightmare. Facing more than 20 years in prison and discharge from the Corps was very frightening and difficult. However, nothing was as hard as seeing and hearing what my friend’s mother, father, and sister had been through. I also had to face the effect my trial had on my own mother and brother-in-law, a former Marine who’d accompanied her to Okinawa for support.

I stood up at sentencing and told my friend’s family how sorry I was. Somehow they were able to graciously accept my apology. I believe they understand their son was my close friend and his death was an accident. Even so, I must live each day knowing I killed my friend and a good Marine.

No matter how skilled or comfortable you are with a weapon, the basic safety rules still apply. Remember “Treat, Never, Keep, Keep:”

  • Treat every weapon as if it’s loaded
  • Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot
  • Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you’re ready to fire
  • Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire

I write this from the brig as a discharged Marine with the belief I can be of some help to anyone who reads or hears my story. This tragedy, with all its pain and suffering, could’ve been avoided if I’d simply followed the above rules. Weapons don’t care if you’re just playing around and have no regard for you, your skill, intentions, or brother Marines. It’s you who must think and act with care and purpose.

What a tragic story. And what a price paid by all concerned — including Markert and his Marine buddy — for two young men’s carelessness.

Sure, he seems to have matured considerably while in prison. But as he observed, his life has taken on a new direction. May he make the best of it.

OT: What’s Next in Space Exploration

This amazing graphic is a timeline of the next ten years’ planned space exploration activities, by the four advanced nations/multinationals (NASA. ESA, JAXA,  pursuing space exploration and some Earth-based space research (such as better telescopes). Space exploitation activities, like satellites and the International Space Station, are not included (which is why Russian activities don’t show up; they seem to be out of the planetary probe and interplanetary observation basis, but they do share science with the Big Four, more or less).

what's next in space


Souce: Imgur.

Yes, it’s completely off-topic, but isn’t it interesting?

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have ATVs

File photo of -- not the mishap in this report. Sure does suck to be him, though, eh?

File photo of an ATV prang — not the mishap in this report. Sure does suck to be him, though, eh?

Things that are scary are fun. Until the time comes when they’re not fun any more. Then it’s too late.

A 23-year-old Washington woman died Saturday afternoon in a West Virginia hospital after an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Mariah Zambelli was pronounced dead at Broaddus Hospital in Phillippi, Barbour County.

The accident happened about 2:14 p.m. at King Knob, a motorsport park outside Phillippi, said Phillippi fire Chief David Utt.

Zambelli and an unidentified man were on a four-wheeler going up a high wall when the vehicle rolled over the wall. The man who was operating the vehicle was not injured, Utt said. An emergency helicopter was called, but Zambelli was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

via Mariah Zambelli (23) was killed in an ATV accident –

The Army used to publish an unintentionally hilarious safety magazine, Countermeasures. For all we know it still does. (Ah. We just checked. It was closed down in 2006 when the Army Safety Center became the Combat Readiness Center and began to bog down in — we are not making this up — concern about sexual assault).

One of Countermeasures’s stock laugh lines was, usually immediately after dolefully recounting the demise of the driver or crew of a HMMWV or M1 tank that had turned turtle, “Vehicles that overturn cause significantly more casualties.” (That what, vehicles standing still? A scatalogical comment referencing a Victorian detective of fictional notoriety comes to mind. Hey, if you guys think that vehicles that overturn cause casualties, you ought to see the aftermath of vehicles that essss-plode). 

Jump Accident Claims an Allied Soldier

The Army’s been taking its time releasing information on this, but during an 82nd Airborne jump on 14 July 16, Sergeant Arturo Valenzuela fell to his death.

Sgt. Arturo Godinez Valenzuela, 31, died of multiple blunt force injuries during a high-elevation fall during a parachute training incident on July 14, according to a North Carolina death certificate obtained by Army Times.

(Of course, his name could have been Arturo Godinez in the Spanish style…

The cause of the incident remains under investigation, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino.

Maj. Gen. Richard Clarke, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, released a statement:”On behalf of the entire All American Division, I express my deepest sympathies to Sergeant Valenzuelas Family and to his brothers and sisters in arms. Sergeant Valenzuela was part of the Family of Paratroopers and his loss is felt by all of us in the community.  We know that airborne operations are inherently dangerous but we know we must be prepared to do them.  His death is a great sacrifice to his country and our shared values. We are committed to the greatest levels of transparency with our partners throughout the investigation process.”

The thing is, Arturo Valenzuela wasn’t an All American from the 82nd: he was a Mexican soldier, conducting exchange training with the American unit.

Mexican-Norteamericano military-to-military relations tend to be, not exactly frosty, but deliberately correct. Mexican pride still burns from the Mexican-American War, and patriotic Mexican soldiers are very resistant to being the junior partner in anything. And the United States, for historical and cultural reasons that were in place before any of us were born, is viewed by much of Latin America as a bigfooting colonialist empire, much as Russia is viewed by the nations of its Near Abroad. Protesting about our good intentions doesn’t change this (any more than Russian protests about their good intentions does). So, in the light of all that, it is interesting to see Mexican troops actively training with their US-ian counterparts.

The Mexican military (especially special operations units and the navy) bears a lot of the burden of the drug war in Mexico, which has a degree of pervasiveness and depth of violence more like the height of the Iraqi insurgency than anything we’ve seen in the USA, even in the Prohibition gangster era or the height of the crack epidemic of the 90s. Given the degree to which the police are subverted, the military is the critical institution for Mexican security.

This creates opportunities for the USA to work to help Mexico improve its military professionalism further (and opportunities for the Mexican troops who live this reality to share their practical experience with their counterparts of del Norte. The US benefit of these exchanges if often overlooked).

Unfortunately, intensive training often produces injuries, and occasionally fatalities.

via Army IDs foreign soldier killed in parachuting death over Fort Bragg.

We’d like to add that, by now, the accident’s cause should be as understood as it’s going to be, and it’s interesting that the US Army has said nothing publicly about it. There is certainly a lack of trust of the T-11 parachute compared to its thoroughly proven T-10 ancestor. The T-10 was a conventional conical round parachute with essentially no steering capability, intended for mass tactical jumps. Over the decades, it underwent only two major changes, the addition of an anti-inversion net which prevented most inversion and line-over malfunctions, and a late change to zero-porosity fabric that produced a slower descent at the price of greater oscillation. The T-11 is a somewhat more complex chute that looks more squared-off in planform. (It’s still a conventional non-steerable parachute, not the sort of ram-air square used in skydives and HALO).

The sergeant was participating in an exercise with nearly 340 paratroopers. The operation was cancelled in-progress after his fall; 108 completed their jump. The time of death was listed on the death report as 4:32 pm.

Buccino said the soldier was using a T-11 parachute, a new parachute involved in five training deaths of U.S. soldiers since 2011. Root causes have included improper exits from the aircraft, a poorly-secured rucksack that slashed another soldier’s shoot, and an improperly routed static line creating a towed jumper, according to investigations.

“Another soldier’s shoot.” We guess that proves we’re not the only ones who use text-to-speech and don’t have an editor. But Gannett claims to have editors.

The article goes on to note that today’s smaller Army still conducts 60,000 parachute jumps a year (down from about double that in the 1980s). The vast majority of these are static-line jumps, and the vast majority of those are done with the T-11 chute. A retired senior special operations officer who tipped us to this story notes that:

I wasn’t there, so can only speculate about what went wrong. My speculations include jumper lack of airborne experience generally, lack of familiarity with mass exits from high performance aircraft generally, particularly if the jump platform was a C-17, bad and/or weak exit, and a malfunction of the T-11’s slider.

These are all plausible, and our best guess is that even if we (or our correspondent) had been there, we might be none the wiser. A jump mishap often seems inexplicable at first, and only with time and effort can you determine a most probable cause.

We’d also add that the interesting detail wouldn’t be the gross numbers of parachuting deaths (there will always be deaths, although you make every effort to bring them to zero. It’s an inherently risky activity), but the percentage of malfunctions. Because paratroopers are drilled and recurrently trained on most common malfunctions, it’s probable that many other soldiers survived malfunctions; the interesting number that the Army will not share is, are there more or fewer of these per 1,000 jumps than there were in T10 days?

A parachute jump death of a foreigner on US soil using US equipment is guaranteed to produce an unusually intense investigation micromanaged from unusually high levels of command. The last one we can recall was a German soldier jumping an experimental extreme-low-altitude chute in the 1980s. Development of that parachute was discontinued as a result of the investigation.


Silenced Enfield Obrez…? Uh, no.

Hey, what’s this? We found it on a Russian forum, and it almost looks like a suppressed version of one of those cut-down Mosin “Obrez” sawn-offs used by various  Russian mischief makers. But that can’t be what it really is. Where would Russians get a Lee Enfield (well, apart from any left behind by the Allied intervention in Archangelsk 1918-19)?

Enfield GL

A pre-World War I vintage “Sht. L.E. III” which breaks out to “Short Lee Enfield Mk III,” it says here:

Enfield GL 3

It has a King’s Crown and the cartouche ER, of Edward VII, who was King and Emperor in the first decade of the 20th Century. (He was succeeded by George V, King during the First World War).

It even looks a little like a suppressor if you take it down:

Enfield GL 4

But we’ll let you in on a secret — the muzzle end is wide open, like the X Products “Can Cannon.” That’s a clue. Know what it is yet?

Here it is in place, wrapped up:

Enfield GL 5

…and unwrapped. Got it yet?Enfield GL 6

It’s a grenade launcher for the light Universal Carrier, aka Bren-Gun Carrier, a tiny armored vehicle much used by British and Commonwealth forces and descended from the flimsy Carden-Lloyd light tanks of the 1920s. The launchers were meant to be used with blanks only to fire (as far as we know, only smoke) grenades. Depending on the Mark of the Carrier and where it was built, this launcher might have been built on any available .303 action — Enfield, Ross, or even Martini. Here’s a Martini one in context:

Carrier 010

Yes, the Bren gunner or TC served this launcher from the left seat, whilst the driver jockeyed the vehicle from the right (even in the Canadian models, made in vast quantities by Ford of Canada and still occasionally turning up rusty in a Saskatchewan wheatfield). This sketch shows you where it all goes in the Mark II carrier (this one set up for a Boys 0.55″ Anti-Tank Rifle crew).

carrier mk 2

It was a tight fit for several men and all their kit in this tiny armored fighting vehicle, and it was at the mercy of nearly anything the Germans or Italians chose to fire at it. But you go to war with the Army you have.

Puts British and Commonwealth nerve in a bit of perspective, to think of calling this “armor.” It’s at the very bottom of the mechanized war food chain.

Here are a couple of pictures of restored carriers. The firearms and helmets should give you some idea of the scale of these toy poodles of the tank world:

Enfield GL 7 enfield GL 8

After the jump, two videos of running carriers: one enthusiastically driven (he actually drifts a curve), and the New Zealanders Motor Vehicles Collectors Club in 2015, breaking an Aussie record for most running carriers at a display!

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Sunday Scratching

Last night the Blogbrother came over and we continued to work on the right wing of the RV-12. When we last left you, the bottom of the wing was skinned*, but what we didn’t tell you is that these skins weren’t fully attached, because they wrap around the leading edge to the top surface and go back about a foot or so, where they’ll form (we think, without reading ahead in the plans in detail) a lap joint with the skins that run aft from that point. The aft upper skins have a lip that hooks into the wing ribs and also serves to stiffen the skin (and therefore the wing, when all is assembled) considerably.


The wing is designed so that the aerodynamic forces of flight, which can be calculated straightforwardly with algebra and trigonometry, are transferred to the spars, which are the backbones of the wing, and then to the fuselage. Many pilots know useful rules of thumb here. The wing must support the whole weight of the plane and its passengers and contents, which are limited by regulation to 1,320 lbs. So each wing bears 660 lbs of force in unaccelerated flight (If you suspect the numbers are metric figures expressed in Imperial units, you’re quite right — the Light Sport Aircraft standard is a 600-KG standard, vis-a-vis the parallel Euro regulation which limits the planes to 450-Kg gross weight). This is not an aerobatic category airplane, which limits the maneuvers it is designed for (again by regulation, one is not to exceed 60º of nose-up, -down, or bank). At 60º of bank, some of the force vector of the wings (“lift”) goes to oppose gravity and keep the plane in the air, and some goes to keep the plane turning in a tight circle…conveniently enough, that doubles the load-bearing of the wing, so each wing (left and right) is independently bearing 1,320 lbs.

So the designer must make each wing twice as strong as the bare minimum to lift the plane off in a straight line… but wait! We haven’t accounted for any safety margins. In practice, most light planes are designed for +3.8 and -1 G, unless they are destined for hard work (“utility” category) or aerial athleticism (“aerobatic” category), and they are designed for that load plus a safety margin, which is usually a multiple of 1.5.

Some airplanes are built much stronger (one well-known aerobatic plane is good for 12G in all axes, an acceleration which would conk most of us right out if applied quickly. And big transports are designed for lower maximum air loads, and are flown within narrower parameters. (The -1 manual for the C-130, for example, restricts pilots to +1.5, -0 G at Maximum Take-Off Weight). So how does the AC-130 fly in up to a 60º bank? Ah, those restrictions are at MTOW, the equivalent of max gross weight. So the limit is 1.5 x the plane’s full gross weight, loaded. If the airplane is many tons lighter, the pilots can horse it around quite a bit more without worrying about it reverting to kit form inflight.

Light airplanes may be certificated in multiple categories at different gross weights, also. So you might be Normal at 1670 lbs, Utility at 1400 lbs, and Aerobatic at 1200 lbs., with different maneuvers permitted at each level. It all comes back to the engineer’s original calculation of the load bearing capability  of the structure, and of the air loads imposed on the wing. Of course, the design should not only be substantiated by engineering calculations, but also proven by flight test. (Even engineers make mistakes). The FAA requires homebuilt experimentals to undergo a period of flight testing before they’re used to carry passengers or fly over congested areas: airplanes falling from the sky in a rain of aluminum pieces are generally bad for the occupants, anyone underneath, and the reputation of aviation as a whole.

Every once in a while, some national socialist gets the idea that there’s way too much freedom loose in the country when people can build and fly their own airplanes. Not surprisingly, these are often the same national socialists who are alarmed at the idea that you might manufacture your own firearm. So far, we’ve retained this liberty (from some time in the New Deal until 1952, building your own airplane was verboten in the USA).

So, what has all this airplane stuff got to do with “scratching?” Last night, the mosquitos had their way with us as we worked in an open garage. Hence today’s pruritis. Hence, scratching.


Administrative note: later today we may have a movie review up (slotted in yesterday) for the first time in a while. We have quite a backlog of films to review, but the one scheduled for yesterday’s review is only half watched!

* Isn’t “skinned” a funny word? If you’ve got an airplane wing skeleton and a pile of aluminum sheets, it’s “skinned” when you put the skins on. If you’re Hannibal Lecter, on the other hand….

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Canyons

grandcanyonIt took millions of years for Nature’s own erosion to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, through the inexorable flow of the mighty Colorado River. You, however, have options: you can get to the bottom of the canyon a lot faster by leaping — or slipping, like unfortunate tech exec Colleen Burns.

If she had fallen the Canyon’s max depth, she’d be falling for about thirty-seven and a half seconds. Of course, the fall is harmless: it’s the sudden stop at the end that’ll kill ya. But she only fell about 400 feet — maybe four or five seconds, max. And it’s got to be a lot less fun without a parachute.

A Yelp executive originally from Morton, Delaware County, accidentally stepped off an edge at Grand Canyon National Park and plummeted hundreds of feet to her death.

Officials said Colleen Burns, 35, of Orlando, Fla., fell at Ooh Aah Point on Friday, about a mile down the popular South Kaibab Trail. Park rangers found her body about 400 feet from where she had been standing.

Park officials said Burns, a graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School, had been with family hiking and taking pictures of the sunrise on the trail.

via Florida woman dies after fall from Grand Canyon trail.

Then again… Florida woman… Burns… works for… Yelp… fell at… Ooh Aah Point. Is someone having us on?

Some $1 Kindle Military History Books


Who says a good read has to cost a fortune?

These may not be available to users outside the USA, but you can try. We’ve had good luck ordering physical books from other nations’ Amazon stores, but have never tried an e-book. Maybe one of you guys out there can let us know if the system lets you order.

The cool thing about these books? Mostly older books, they’re on Kindle for 99¢. You can read Kindle books (in the .Here are four, oldest (in terms of war covered) to newest:

Three Years with Quantrill: A True Story Told By His Scout by John McCorkle & O. S. Barton.

This 1914 memoir was reportedly dictated by the then-elderly McCorkle to Barton. The smallest taste:

We rode up to a house and found two ladies at home. One of them asked me if we were in the fight that had taken place there shortly before. I told her “Yes.” She then asked me if any of us had lost part of a pistol in that fight. Jim Younger told her that he had lost the cylinder of his pistol and the lady remarked, “Well, we found some part of a pistol out there in the road; I don’t know what you call it, but here it is,” and it was the cylinder of Jim Younger’s pistol that he had lost in the road.

Yes, that Jim Younger. Both Younger brothers, Jim and Cole, are mentioned several times, but there is only one reference to their postwar partner in crime, Jesse James. We think we’ll really enjoy this one. At the end, the unit disguises itself in Union uniforms and tries to make is way to Virginia through swarms of victorious Unionists. (We just skimmed it).

Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War by Deneys Reitz

This is apparently one man’s memoir of the war from the Afrikaner side. Haven’t even opened it yet. Several other Reitz memoirs (sections of a lifelong diary, perhaps?) are also available.

Q-Ships and Their Story by E. Keble-Chatterton, Lt. Cmdr,, RNVR

This is the story of the daring Q-Ship operations of World War I, originally written and published in 1922. The author observes that the submarine war was one of imagination, more than brute force. One of the surprising discoveries here is the degree to which sailing ships were commissioned as His Majesty’s warships.

Vassili Zaitsev: Secrets from a Sniper’s Notebook By Robert F. Burgess.

This is a brief overview of the famous Soviet sniper’s wartime efforts. It’s one of a series of short books by WWII veteran Burgess on snipers and sniping. Short but informative, and includes as an appendix a list of rules for snipers that Zaitsev established. There’s a newer version of this book with a different title if your budget goes to $3.

Best thing about all these books is that, any one that you pick (here, Three Years with Quantrill), Amazon suggests a umber of other 99¢ specials for you…


And there you have it. Four books, $4, and more just awaiting the discovery.