Errors in Firearms Materials are Nothing New

Recently, the gang at Small Arms of the World posted a World War II vintage German language weapons manual (subscription required) that focused mostly on German service submachine guns.1 The manual was developed by a retired officer, Colonel Schmitt. Col. Schmitt was a prolific author of small arms and military manuals (of the sort that might be popular with earnest young soldiers, and youth looking forward to military service). He was also the editor of a range of war maps. His materials appeared though the publishing house of R. Eisenschmidt, located on Mittelstraße 18 in Berlin NW7.

At first we thought so the introductory material would be useful in an ongoing research project on early submachineguns. Even though this is not a primary source on early SMG’s, it’s an earlier secondary source than many of the documents we’ve been working with. So we thought it might be authoritative. Indeed, it starts off making sense, and it’s chock full of interesting material; but there are enough errors to give us considerable pause. Let’s start with the sensible bit (our translation):

General Information for all MPs Found in Units

The MP is a weapon that is particularly suited for close combat.

Due to the weapon’s stability in automatic fire, a tight grouping of bursts of fire is enabled. Small targets can be engaged with good success at distances to 100 meters, and larger targets up to 200 m. Beyond 200 m distance, ammunition expenditure is unlikely to meet with success.

The low number of cartridges that can be carried by troopers, and the heavy ammunition demand in the front line, constrain the employment of the MP to snap missions at short distance and to close combat.

This is good, interesting information. But can we trust it, about the MPs that were carried in the first world war? Certainly, we want to trust it; Colonel Schmitt must surely know what he’s talking about, mustn’t he?

Very soon, we come upon information that turns out to be less than trustworthy, on the same page of this same document:

The following models are currently employed:

  • MP 18I (System Bergmann)
  • MP 28II (System Schmeisser),
  • MP Erma (System Vollmer),
  • MP 38 (smooth receiver),
  • MP 40 (receiver with flutes), and
  • MP 34 (with mounted bayonet M.95).

The MPs only fire the pistol cartridge 08 (cal. 9 mm) except the MP 34 which to date only fires the Steyr cartridge (9mm). 2

(The unusual use of superscript Roman numerals in the MP 18 and MP 28 designators is like that in Schmitt’s original).

Now, the world of early German MPs is grey enough that we can let the distinction between “System Bergmann” and “System Schmeisser” slide. (As we understand it, Schmeisser was the primary designer of both, and the magazine housings were generally marked with “Schmeissers Patent” for the double-column, single-feed magazine, but the guns were made by Bergmann).

But notice, that the good Colonel has the MP.38 and MP.40 exactly backwards. While there were many other changes between the 38 and 40, and additional running changes in production (like the two-part “safety” bolt-handle, sometimes called an MP.40 feature but actually introduced as a running change in the MP.38), one of the key improvements in the MP.40 was the lack of fluting, which allowed more rapid, less costly manufacture.

It wasn’t just a single error, for if you skip ahead to where Schmitt treats the MP.38 and .40 (as a single section of his book, which makes perfect sense given the guns’ near-identical nature)3, he makes the same error:

mp38_mis-id_d_as_mp40

The footnote (with asterisk) refers to a reference to the receiver, higher on the page, and reads, “On the MP.38, the receiver is smooth; on the MP.40 it is provided with flutes.”

We assume that Colonel Schmitt was truly an expert, and that he took good care with his manuals, which he knew would be bought and read by Wehrmacht troopers and those soon to be Wehrmacht men. But here’s an example of a mistake he made on a simple thing. It reinforces the importance or critical reading of sources, even of period sources (and even primary sources).

It’s also important to weigh the expertise of a source with the left and right limits of his knowledge… his expertise’s “range fan,” if you will. Combat soldiers may have their heads full of mistaken ideas about the development and manufacture of their weapons, and design engineers, contract managers, and hands-on manufacturing workers may be in the dark about how their products are employed in the field.

And everybody’s human, and makes mistakes. Nicht wahr, Oberst Schmitt?

This is one place where 21st Century scholarship has an edge. If poor old Schmitt made an error, by the time he heard about it R. Eisenschmidt could have printed 20,000 copies of the booklet with the error. If a blogger makes an error, he’s called out on it in the comments forthwith (don’t ask us how we know this).

Notes

1. Schmitt, Colonel. Maschinenpistolen 18I/28II/Erma/38/40/34; Leucht-Pistole, 2er Auflage: Beschreibung und Zusammenwirken der Teile, Beseitigung von hemmungine; Ausinandernehmen und Zusammensetzen; Schulschießübung. Leuchtpistole mit Munition.  (English: Submachine guns MP 18-I, MP28-II, Erma, MP 38, 40, and 34; Flare guns; 2nd Edition: Description ). Berlin, R. Eisenschmidt: 1940. Retrieved from Small Arms of the World archive (subscription required): https://www.smallarmsoftheworld.com/archive/September.2013/5dgdbf7fhpdf/R00221.pdf

2. Schmitt, op. cit., p. 5.

3. Schmitt, op. cit., p. 23. 

Bleg: OCR for German Fraktur script

Our favorite OCR programs, Adobe’s Acrobat and Nuance’s PDF Converter for Mac, choke on the “Fraktur” or Old German type script that was widely used pre-1945. (Indeed, even though early-20th-Century German typographers were among the pioneers of clean, highly readable sans serif Roman fonts, the Third Reich’s national nostalgia jag seemed to spawn a resurgence of this medieval-looking stuff).

fraktur_sample

If you don’t know what we’re talking about, we want a program that will convert documents written in Old German lettering into editable text. The kind of lettering we mean is the Germanic script used in newspaper mastheads, or on the signs at your local German restaurant, if you’re lucky enough to have one. We want to OCR that stuff, but, “Wait!” as Ron Popeil would say, that’s not all. We want to do it on a Mac. (We only use a PC when absolutely necessary, or when the application program is so cool that it makes the platform irrelevant: check out SpaceClaim).

You might wonder who was ever sadistic enough to typeset tons of documents in this stuff (documents meant for instruction of average-IQ people, no less). We are looking at a 1940-vintage document now, so that probably answers the question. (There are times when you can go there, Mike Godwin be damned).

That document sample looks like it was copied by hand by a gang of medieval monks, but it’s actually from a privately printed manual for German submachine guns.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have oranges.

Once the idea to commit homicide is formed in the ultimate weapon, the human mind, that practically anything that falls to hand becomes a weapon. Even things you’d never expect.

Two men in rural South Africa are suspected of killing a farmworker by throwing oranges at him.

Citing witness accounts, police lieutenant-colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the suspects had allegedly argued with the man, then collected oranges and begun hurling them at him.

“They started pelting the deceased with all those loose oranges, killing him on the spot,” Ngoepe said. However, he cautioned that an investigation was still under way and aspects of a case he described as complicated still had to be verified.

The man was declared dead at the scene and had “no visible injury”, suggesting he might have suffered blunt trauma, according to Ngoepe. He did not comment on the cause of the argument that led to the assault. Police and prosecutors are awaiting the results of a postmortem examination.

via Two men arrested after South African worker is ‘pelted to death with oranges’ | World news | The Guardian.

So far, there have been no riots, no demands for a ban on deadly assault citrus, no police pursuing permission to provide pulp permits.

Yet.

But give the Regulatory State time. In time, they will realize these things must be done. For the Children™.

The First, Forgotten, Nuclear Cruise Missile: Regulus

USS Tunny, SSG-282, launches a Regulus in January, 1958.

USS Tunny, SSG-282, launches a Regulus in January, 1958.

It died too soon. That was the opinion of tag-end-of-Vietnam Chief of Naval Operations (i.e., top dog) Elmo Zumwalt. Zumwalt was noted not only for his unforgettable name, but also his “Z-Gram” messages to all hands, his many regulation changes (many of which would be reversed by successors), and, especially, blunt talk. Here’s what he said about the Navy’s 1964 cancellation of the Regulus missile, something that the Navy deployed on carriers, cruisers, and submarines, and that actually was the Navy’s first nuclear deterrent missile. It was the:

…single worst decision about weapons [the Navy] made during my years of service.

The Navy didn’t think it was that big a screwup, but Zumwalt was a big cruise missile fan, in many ways the father of the Tomahawk (which seems to be on its way out of submarine service, as the four remaining cruise missile SSGNs are all scheduled for scrapping. But that’s another post).

Regulus, though, was never anything but a stopgap. A conceptual child of the German Fieseler Fi103 V1 “buzz bomb,” it was an unmanned airplane that could be dismantled, stuffed into a cylindrical “hangar” atop a modified sub, and in the event of The Big One, the sub could surface, sailors could quickly assemble and arm the Regulus, and it would fire from a zero-length launcher and travel a preprogrammed course to a predetermined destination — over a Soviet target, where it would detonate its nuclear warhead.

A restored Regulus on its zero-length launcher.

A restored Regulus on its zero-length launcher.

Regulus was an aerodynamic oddity, with swept wings and vertical fin, but no horizontal tail at all, relying in part of the prewar and wartime work of Prof. Alexander Lippisch, who created the German Me163 rocket fighter. (The US was working its way through this “found technology” in the 1950s; Lippisch took American citizenship in this period). The robot jet had a single turbojet engine with its intake in the nose. The missile, which was first launched from a sub in 1953, resembled a period fighter aircraft, but the absence of any provision for a pilot or for landing gear made it lighter and more streamlined.  (Although some test missiles carried a parachute as a means of recovering the missile, and the data it carried, operational missiles dispensed with that).

The Regulus had huge conceptual problems. For one thing, the sub was exposed, wallowing on the surface as the crew assembled and prepared it. For another, subs had a total offensive punch of one or two missiles, that’s it. Here’s the description from a Navy historical report:

The hangar could accommodate two Regulus I missiles in a rotating ring arrangement. The weapons could be checked out while the submarine was still submerged by entering the hangar through an access trunk, but actual launching required the submarine to surface and manhandle the weapon onto the rails before it could be fired. Then, the boat would have to remain at least at periscope depth to guide the missile to the radar horizon.

In addition, the targeting of the missile was fairly inflexible, requiring at least a launch boat and later, also, a boat near the target to come up to periscope depth, extend a radar mast, and radiate. If that wasn’t all, Regulus was basically a subsonic jet plane, and if we knew one thing from the fate of the V1 offensive, it was that manned airplanes guided by radar — something the Soviets had in great quantity — could hunt down unmanned airplanes rather well. In addition to their manned interceptors, the Soviets also constructed an anti-aircraft defense in depth which threatened bombers and Regulus-like cruise missiles alike (the Air Force was working on parallel programs at the time) with anti-aircraft artillery guided by fire-control and height-finding radar, and several interlocking types of anti-aircraft guided missiles.

Zumwalt wouldn’t like to hear it, but by 1964 his beloved Regulus was a dead duck. A Regulus II was designed to be faster (both faster to launch, and faster in the air) but it didn’t address the core problems.

In time, technology would allow all these problems to be answered with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile and other cruise missiles. Subs could fire them from under the sea; their programming was rapidly changeable; they flew low, often below hostile radar, and many could be carried with much less hazard to the subs and surface combatants that launched them. It was still a subsonic jet plane, but the enemy would find it harder to find, hit and kill.

But in 1964, the weapon that had come on line and signed the decommissioning chit for Regulus was the Navy’s Polaris: the first submarine-launched ballistic missile. Polaris was a conceptual child of the V1′s Vergeltungswaffe stablemate, the V2 (Army A4) rocket. Unlike any subsonic airplane, in 1964 a re-entering ballistic missile was a target with no solution for enemy air defenses. But Polaris is another story.

And what happened to the subs that had huge hangars built on their decks for Regulus cruise missile? Well, they went to work for Navy Special Operations, and that, too, is another story.

Between 1953 and 1964, one cruiser and five converted fleet subs were equipped to launch Regulus. They were the nation’s only submarine nuclear deterrent until the George Washington class Polaris boats came on line. No Regulus was ever fired in anger, so you can argue they fulfilled their mission perfectly.

Within the last few years, the Navy has retroactively awarded the officers and sailors of the Regulus fleet the badge that recognizes today’s sailors for their patrols in missile boats. Nowadays, the Regulus I and its never-deployed descendant, the supersonic Regulus II, are only historical curiosities; transitional weapons studied by those interested in weapons technology, and in how weapons change history, and history changes them.

Slow Start Sunday

Safely in Indiana farm country with three friends, three of their kids, one elderly Jack Russell (whose old age has tuned him down to a delightfully serene level — for a Jack), and, at last count, eight cats, of which several used me for a warm bed last night.

One of the cats has no tail, courtesy, the vet thinks, of a cat-hating neighbor who used it as an Official Throwing-Kitty Cat Handle. The suspect has a sign on his lawn, celebrating a certain famous trade union: he might have made Right to Work Republicans of the cat’s family.

We are enjoying the company of the critters, because the other humans sleep. We regret not filling Saturday’s dance card here, but 14 hours in a car will do that to you. We suspect blogging will remain light until Tuesday (and Tuesday we have a real-world work problem that may tie us up all day).

Our Host here flies the line for an airline you would know. He’s a veteran of the Army and the Air Force, and is one of the few people who have Black Hawk, Boeing, F-16, and Fokker in his logbook. We defer to him on all matters of piloting, that’s for sure. He’s also, like many pilots, a gun guy. Last night we played with a FLIR thermal, watching the critters gambol in the dark. We had forgotten one of the key limitations of thermals: they can’t see through insulated glass. One of many reasons the dream night-sight is one that combines image intensification with thermal imaging, something that’s issue now but very expensive.

In order to get the FLIR unit, as with all night vision, our friend had to certify that he would not export the unit. He makes sure it is not in his bag before he takes an overseas flight, just so he’s never accused of an inadvertent ITAR violation.

Update

Circumstances prevented this post from going up until Sunday was nearly over. The Road Trip continues.

A Millennium of Burdens: What The Grunt Carried

This incredible photo essay at the Telegraph has an image with the equipment a British soldier war at a significant battle at various historical inflection points — as they put it, from Hastings to Helmand. You absolutely, positively should Read The Whole Thing™, and also go through the photo essay.

We’ll pick out one for you — the Battle of Tilbury, in 1588. (Regular readers may be more interested in the Helmand trooper’s gear, or the one from Arnhem or the Somme. We found every single one fascinating). Tilbury wasn’t actually a battle; it was an assembly of troops, in anticipation of a battle, and it is best remembered for the speech purportedly given by Queen Elizabeth I to her assembled troopers:

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

In the end, there was no battle because the Royal Navy had thoroughly cleaned the clock of the Spanish Armada (that’s why that 1588 seemed naggingly familiar to you) and the armies of the Spanish King and the Duke of Parma were unable to land.
army-tilbury_2994165k

1588 trainband caliverman, Tilbury
1 Black woollen doublet with a leather jerkin over the top; the black cloth indicated relative wealth of the soldier
2 Venetian hose
3 Petticoat – holds the trousers up (comes from the word little coat)
4 Ruff
5 White braes – underpants- and white linen shift
6 Cabaset (helmet) with a broad rim which provided good cover to face and back of neck. The helmet has cheek pieces that fold down.
7 Copintank felt hat with African imported ostrich feathers
8 Shoes
9 Gloves
10 Piece of horn
11 Costrel – water bottle
12 Scabbards
13 Drinking tankard and earthenware pot; the stated rations for army facing Armada was two pounds of beef, two pounds of bread, a pound cheese and eight pints of beer
14 Knife and pricker – forks weren’t in wide use, although Elizabeth I was using one
15 Bowl and spoon
16 Grey woollen bag with playing cards, dice and pouch
17 Rapier
18 Side sword
19 Sword belt and pouch; hanging below is a chain with a pricker and brush for cleaning the gun
20 Powder flask for priming powder – to set the gun off with
21 Powder flask for coarser powder that would go down the barrel of the gun
22 Brown pouch with a pocket gold sundial; the mirror was attached to a cord and encased in a walnut-wood ball, stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs. Usually worn around the neck
23 Fire lighting kit including flint and striker and tinder
24 Yard of match – the cord that burns to give fire to the gun
26 Worm – for clearing blockages
27 Ramrod
28 Bag of 20 caliver lead balls
29 Caliver – before Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1559 gunsmiths around the country would make the muskets used in battle to their own specifications. The new queen insisted on standardisation, and so the 20-bore caliver was introduced
30 Money bag with gold coins

via Military kit through the ages: from the Battle of Hastings to Helmand – Telegraph.

Here is the picture with the photo key:

Tilbury_2996013b

Our biggest take-away was how little the load of the infantryman has changed through the centuries, and how brutal the actual business of ground combat always was, and still is. Few pieces of gear exist in every loadout (at least one does: every set of gear has a spoon), and the weapons provide increased range and hit probability, but the grunt’s burden is relatively constant throughout.

We suggest there may be a Law: the infantryman’s burden expands to the maximum he can bear, always and everywhere.

The photo essay begins here.

UW: When it’s Gotta Go: Destroying Documents

FOOM!In the process of setting up a few safes (separate ones for guns and documents, thank you very much), we ran across some old Destruction Priority tags and stickers from some old community work. Checking the regs in hopes of finding out which was which taught us that, as something standardized, they are apparently now long since deprecated, especially with the English labels these had, like “Destruction Priority: Charlie” and so forth. Apparently, if you don’t work through your destruction priorities, you have just handed the Adverse Party his exploitation priorities. D’oh.

It did get us thinking about destruction plans, because even the most security-conscious operation can’t help generate paper, and paper (and nowadays, e-files, which are several orders of magnitude worse from a data-destruction standpoint) will not only hang you in the Unconventional Warfare environment, it will also roll up your cells, réseaux, networks, call them what you will. And hang all of them. Which would be on your conscience, if you hadn’t hung first.

We’ve seen good destruction plans that would have left the enemy with the bitter taste of ashes. We’ve also seen finger-drill destruction plans that merely checked a box, while guaranteeing that the enemy would have many hours of productive reading if he rolled the site up. In the bad old days, the Warsaw Pact actually had special operations forces targeted on certain repositories of Allied information, and at D minus a certain value the race would already have been “on” at these sites. The WarPac operators would have won some of those races, and lost others.

You can do a number of things to limit your exposure, including never writing down what you can memorize (exercising the mind and mnemonics help here); using a good code or cipher (but you would be astonished how readily amateur codes are broken, and how hard professional codes are to use); and relentlessly purging working papers and minimizing archival material and working aids.

But there’s always something. You can’t collect signals intelligence without working aids containing frequencies and call signs. You can’t conduct and communicate target reconnaissance without producing a target folder. You can’t exploit enemy personnel vulnerabilities without personality files, link lists, etc. Even running human sources from a position itself embedded in the enemy’s population, which is about as exposed as one is likely to get, you need some paper to operate with efficiency. And the capture of that paper is life or death for the sources and for the operation. (Not for you. Capture is pretty much death for you, so you take great pains not to get captured).

And the way the USG teaches source management or agent handling these days, it produces reams of paper. Much of which is, frankly, more use to an enemy than to us. But so far, we’ve only covered the collection phase of the intelligence cycle. Even more paper gets generated in the analysis phase.

So how do you manage the destruction of that information, should bug-out time come? (No doubt, US activities across the Mideast have been thinking about this since Benghazi signaled just how Washington has their collective back). Let’s begin from some first principles:

  1. Your objective is to buy your network 24-48 hours to go underground or escape. More than that is not realistic.
  2. Keep the barest minimum of paper. Shred, mulch or burn as you go.
  3. Periodically review your “barest minimum” — and pare it down every time.
  4. Paper is better than computer files. If you put it on a computer, you have lost control of it.
  5. Encryption can buy time. Low quality encryption cannot buy enough to justify the effort.
  6. Dividing the who from the what can help. Cover names can be helpful. (Perhaps we’ll elaborate this one in the future).
  7. Chemical destruction <- chemically assisted burning <- burning <- shredding.

Chemical destruction is not practical for most nongovernmental, non-industrial-scale installations, so we have to rule it out.

Shredders are problematical. Unless you are a huge activity, your shredder handles only a few sheets of paper at a time. The shredders that can take whole burn bags need power, and take time to render the paper within unreadable. Shredded material can be reconstituted, although to do it from a Level 6 shredder takes time and specialized software. (Iranian revolutionaries recovered the material the CIA shredded in what they thought was a state-of-the-art shredder in 1979, simply by deploying an army of students to work on lining up the shreds. Newer shredders crosscut to counter that approach, and naturally, there is a counter to the counter). Burning shredded matter adds another step, but shredded paper (unlike paper in books, binders or folders) burns rapidly. Post-burning, the ashes must be stirred to eliminate ghost material.

Burning is much faster, but has its limitations, assuming you’re talking about burning the whole thing, not the shredder product.

A once-classified NSA report explains one of these limitations:

The conventional procedure on land has always been destruction by fire. There is no doubt but that this can be highly effective. As anyone who has attempted it knows, however, paper burns slowly when in quantity and particularly when in the form of books and pamphlets. Even a modest-sized book can be thrown in the middle of a fire and yet, after an hour, remain more than half readable. The problem is largely one of adequate oxygen.

You should Read The Whole Thing™, because it’s informative and, like many IC internal documents, entertainingly written. They suggest either “agitating the material” (recommending “an enlisted man with a poker” for that purpose) or adding “a high concentration of oxygen,” which has the advantage, in combat conditions, of not being susceptible to enemy countermeasures, such as shooting PFC Burn Stick, which rings down the curtain on his agitation of the burning material.

Chemically-assisted burning is simply what rockets do: boost the fire by providing our own oxidant, and that’s where NSA is going in the above document. Despite having that much in common with a Saturn V, using chemical oxidant to destroy documents isn’t rocket science — it’s not much higher-tech, really, than PFC Burn Stick’s death-defying efforts in the preceding paragraph.

Now, you do need a chemical oxidant. If you’re experimenting with liquid-fueled rockets you might have some high-test peroxide around the lab, and some other nitrates will also do what we’re about to walk through, but for most people the answer is Sodium Nitrate. And you do need a container: a steel drum will do.

Mixtures of paper and sodium nitrate, which is a substance resembling ordinary salt, should burn rapidly and fiercely and, if the proportions are right, undergo complete destruction in a very few minutes. An added benefit is apparent even before experimental tests. The end product of the burning will consist largely of sodium carbonate. At the temperatures encountered this will be a liquid and should actually dissolve the ash. In this way the danger of text being recovered as ghosts on the white flaky ash is eliminated.

So the solution is this: prepare 100 pounds of nitrate for every 65 pounds of paper. In an open 55-gallon drum, (or a proportionate but smaller charge in steel bucket). Do not ventilate the drum or bucket: remember, the nitrate is providing the oxygen for combustion. Begin with a thin layer of sodium nitrate, then alternate: divide your volume of paper into quarters, your nitrate into fifths, and load nitrate-paper-nitrate-paper until you get to the last layer, nitrate. In this case, the reaction goes better if the paper is together in stacks or in books. Put a steel wire screen over the top (this holds down any papers that might otherwise rise on the column of flame. Apply a match. Woosh! It actually starts off slowly, and then gets going at a frightening rate — until it’s out of paper, then it stops abruptly, leaving liquid slag solidifying in the bottom of the barrel.

Not much is critical, except the initial layer of nitrate at the bottom, and the screen at the top (don’t use aluminum or plastic screen. It will melt).

Sodium nitrate is not as cheap as it was when NSA drafted that guidance 50-plus years ago, but it won’t break the bank; you can get it from bulk suppliers like this on eBay (expect to pay about $200/100lb, delivered; the same vendor can ship smaller lots), from Grainger in small quantities (but you’re paying a premium for highly refined nitrate, which you don’t need), or simply as “Chilean Nitrate” 16-0-0 fertilizer, used by organic farmers for nitration, which is less pure than chemical nitrate but plenty good enough to burn your secrets. If you have a lot of secrets, you can go on Alibaba and buy it by the containerload, FOB China.

Sodium nitrate is not as closely watched as ammonium nitrate, because it’s not as readily repurposed to explosives. It’s widely used in chemical manufacturing and in extractive industries.

NSA’s experiments with destruction resulted in the Army developing a document destruction kit, which it labeled E-12 (this is according to the article; we’ve never seen one, and suspect it’s long obsolete). The one thing it added was an igniter mixture of nitrate and wood flour as an aid to rapid starting. You can make that yourself if you like (you can also use 50% nitrate and 50% table sugar). The Army found that a crew of two could pack and ignite a barrel in 3 minutes. Ten to twenty minutes later, the barrel is empty but for “greenish liquid slag.”

Bonus: this’ll do your hard drives, too. Just throw them in with the paper as you load the drum. Nothing should be left but blackened steel screws and other steel parts: the aluminum cases, the disks and the cache chips will leave no trace but salts in the slag.

Recover that, hostile intelligence service.

Here’s the file at NSA: http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/_files/tech_journals/emergency_destruction.pdf

If you’re diffident about going to NSA, and would rather they intercepted you reading this file here, here it is: emergency_destruction.pdf

 

Road Trip!

road-trip-signThe font of weapons expertise and otherwise inexpert opinion is enroute West at oh-dark-thirty to help a friend pick up a car in Indiana. (Hey, free car from his brother). This is the kind of friend who bails a guy out of jail and even though that one’s been repaid in kind, a wise man hangs on to friends like that.

The need for departure means the office reorg (which freed up the old desk for, we hope, moar gunzmithing!) didn’t quite get done. The professional movers who moved the desk in the first place lost half the cam screws needed to put it together. Even 10 years ago, that would have been curtains for the desk. Today? Go to Amazon and search for “cam nuts and cam screws.” Yowza.

All we needed to do was measure the one cam screw the Unibrow Brothers Moving & Storage Co. didn’t lose, and then order the matching one, and they’d be waiting for us on the return home. Of course, with the office in mid-reorg, where’s all the rulers?

Well, Putin’s in the Kremlin, President Obama is on the links, and the ISIL guy is hanging upside down in a tower somewhere, waiting for night to fall so he can feed…. Oh, wait, the measuring rulers? Beats us with a yardstick. Down to the shop, measure it with a micrometer. So the Win goes half to Amazon and half to Mitutoyo, although using a micrometer to measure a cam screw is kind of like calculating your weight to four significant places.

Somewhere, a wise old grandfather who always urged, “the right tool for the right job,” is faceplanting in his coffin. He’d really have liked Mitutoyo metrology gear, though. Good thing he doesn’t know that Plan B was to use a DRO to measure the thing.

Of course, we had to order $136 worth of books to get the $5 worth of cam screws, because of some new Prime shipping restriction. Well, and we wanted the books. There was that.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have gravity

wile_e_coyote_gravityOne more for the “nothing good happens at 0235″ file, although, in a certain Darwinian way, some good comes of it: think of it as evolution in action.

In Crook County, near Chicongo, 16-year-old Dallas Harden met an untimely end. He was remembered, by his friends, as — what else — an “aspiring rapper.” Unfortunately he was not a respiring rapper, for his feeble chest was insufficient to hold up the 17-ton slab of brick-faced precast concrete that fell on him. The concrete fell, not because shit just happens, but because young Harden and his friends had just stolen the steel rods that held it in place.

 

His friend Chris Wright — not one of the two friends who survived Harden’s spectacular failure of a Wealth Redistribution Engineer phase test — had some memories of Harden that seem almost comical, in the light of his grand exit. CBS Chicongo:

“Every time, being with him was an adventure,” he said. “We always had fun. There hasn’t been one moment that we didn’t have fun.”

Harden enjoyed rap music and was pretty good at rapping, Wright said.

“Dallas was a really good guy. I just don’t understand how this happened.”

Well, Chris, if you’d had the sort of friends who paid attention to school rather than schemed up nocturnal requisitions, you’d have had it all explained to you one of the times you went through third grade. See, there’s this thing called, “gravity.” And it’s not just a good idea: it’s the law. Your flat former friend managed to perturb a stable system, which sought new stability by converting potential energy into kinetic energy — and Dallas Harden into the human equivalent of roadkill.

Other family members give us another look into the values of their demographic:

A woman who said she was the aunt of one of the 15-year-olds, the boy who called 911, said her nephew told her that the boys were looking for scrap to “make money from it.”

You know, “to make money from it.” For the love of God, these people think of stealing as just another job.

“One of the pipes came loose, and another pipe, Dallas was trying to kick it, and when he did, the wall came down on him. They tried to get the wall off them, but the wall kept coming down,” she said.

Yeah, that gravity thing. It’s in all the books. No books in your house, are there? Maybe, to reach your family, we have to put it on The Bling Channel or something.

“Why put your life in danger like that? Is it an adrenaline rush to know that you all can get caught?” she asked.

Well, generally, people steal because they:

  1. are greedy and want something for nothing;
  2. lack morals or a conscience;
  3. are strongly narcissistic (products of “self-esteem education”);
  4. simply enjoy destroying things and harming others, because it gives them a feeling of power; or,
  5. Any combination, including all, of the above.

Alsip police Lt. Jay Miller said there’s no fence around the yard, only “No trespassing” signs.
“They probably figure it’s pretty hard to steal things that heavy,” Miller said of the company.

Once again, behold! The mighty power of the prohibitive sign.

Never underestimate the urban underclass. Never in the course of human events have so many worked so hard to avoid productive paid physical labor.

The steel rods were “instrumental” in keeping the construction walls in place, and when Harden removed one or more of them, the walls fell, police said.

via Police: Teen Crushed To Death In Alsip Was Stealing Metal Rods « CBS Chicago.

Looks like this time, being with him was a misadventure.

Life itself is an IQ test every day. Dallas Harden, you are a no-go at this station.

In Red Square he’s on display, but in Berlin Lenin Stays Buried

German Communists nostalgic for the days of Stasi surveillance and torture have failed in an attempt to have a gigantic “socialist realism” statue of Russian dictator Lenin exhumed for display.

The real Lenin statue gets the chop: 1991.

The real Lenin statue gets the hook: 1991. German Communists want him back.

Lenin, creator of the Soviet Union, the lawless government which held the undisputed world record for mass murder until the rise of Mao Tse-Tung, was imposed on East Germany by a massive 22-division Soviet army, the Group of Soviet Forces Germany, and a regime of German quislings. Many of the first-generation Stasi were Gestapo retreads, who served their Soviet masters as ruthlessly as they’d served Nazi ones. Only the uniforms changed.

Curators of an exhibition about the German capital’s monuments had proposed to including the Russian revolutionary’s 1.7-metre (5.6ft) head in their show, scheduled for spring 2015. Between 1970 and 1991, the statue had stood on Lenin Square in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district. After its removal, it was cut into 129 pieces and buried in a pit in Köpenick.

Lenin wasn’t melted down because he was a low-budget stone statue: the Workers’ and Peasants’ proletarian paradise couldn’t afford bronze. (People remember him as metallic because he, or at least his prop version was upgraded to bronze in the Ostalgie flick, Good-bye Lenin). 

Movie Lenin gets the hook: Good-Bye Lenin's prop.

Movie Lenin gets the hook: Good-Bye Lenin’s prop. Communism is the terrorist totalitarian ideology that never gave up, just got tenure at university and dreams of a comeback.

But last week the Berlin senate rejected the curators’ proposal to excavate Lenin’s head, arguing that they didn’t know its precise location and would therefore have to dig up the entire pit, long overgrown with shrubs and trees: too costly an undertaking for the city’s cash-strapped authorities.

Politicians and historians have criticised the decision.

What politicians? What historians?

Members of the leftwing Die Linke went as far as suggesting that the mayor, Klaus Wowereit, was ideologically motivated: “They are even still scared of that stupid old head,” the MP Wolfgang Brauer told the Taz newspaper.

Ah, those politicians. Die Linke is the euphemism for the former Socialistiches Einheitspartie Deutschlands, the guys who brought you the land mines along the Berlin Wall, hundreds of murders,  torture chambers in every city in their dystopian cesspool, and systematic and pervasive surveillance. Brauer is a guy who wants to bring all that back. (Complete with Russians to do his thinking for him? Probably).

via Berlin’s giant Lenin statue may have been lost, say city authorities | World news | The Guardian.

It’s all about the art and the history, Brauer mumbles (his mouth is full of Brezhnev’s private parts, still). Hey, didn’t Arno Breker sculpt another famous 20th-Century leader? Where’s that sculpture if it’s all about the history?

Of course, if you want to see Lenin, his mausoleum in Red Square welcomes his devotees daily (and worship of the rotted mummy of the syphilitic old goat is expected). Thanks to Vladimir Vladimirovich, the man’s mortal remains have a continued appeal as a tourist attraction that the many monumental statues of him that slave labor erected across half the globe have not done.