Reason to quit
Some eight hundred thousand unemployed persons will soon stop receiving unemployment compensation.

Naturally there is pressure from certain quarters for Congress to find some way to extend this compensation.

The first instinct of fiscal conservatives and libertarians would be to attempt to persuade the public that this extension of benefits would hurt the economy. Let me suggest an alternative.

Pressure Congress and the White House to offer an escape hatch. Go ahead, offer an extension of benefits, but with a catch. In exchange for accepting the extended unemployment compensation, the unemployed person agrees in writing to be exempted from all future Social Security benefits of any kind, and will no longer have FICA collected from him or her.

In short, "if you take The Package, it's over. Ninety more days, then you're out for good, no coming back. No paying into it either. Deal? Sign here."

Update: did I mention that anyone taking The Package also receives a handsomely-framed certificate stating that future employers of said person will no longer collect from nor contribute FICA for that person?
Been through this once already
After reloading this template, then adding my blogroll back in, then Sitemeter, BlogHop, and Enetation, I figured I had WeckUpToThees back on line and fully functional again after some sort of terrible hacking.

How mistaken I was. Less than one day after things were restored, whatever hosed me up in the first place hosed me up again. All links in the template have lost their href arguments. Every g*****ned one.


Holidays make me think about such things
While preparing our large list of Christmas cards, Mama-san and I were faced with the grim task of reprinting several envelopes. Divorces and separations, in addition to a death, have caused several "Mr and Mrs" to become just "Mr" or "Mrs."

Being an INTP, it struck me that one's way of dealing with that event would be useful as a personality type indicator. Expect to see the following question on a Meyers-Briggs test someday.

Do you:

  • strike through the "and Mrs" with a pen,

  • cover the whole address with an adhesive label, and fret that the thin paper label still allows one to read the mistake (and the strikethrough) through it,

  • ask Mama-san to print a new envelope (only two or three left!),

  • kick yourself viciously for having let the mistake through in the mail-merge stage?

  • All of the above.

I am not a number! I am a free man!
One of my Christmas gifts arrived already, but was not gift-wrapped inside the shipping carton. So I feel guilty that I know what it is already: a boxed set of the first three episodes of The Prisoner. Mama-san, aka Barbaloot, will not let me watch it until Christmas day.
Mooooore sugar!
Nineteen liters of wheat beer are fermenting in a carboy in the guestroom. They will be bottled on New Year's Eve.
Merry Christmas!

We hope this letter finds you well.
Boy is a two-year-old Force of Nature, who is growing into his maternal grandfather’s physique.
Middlechild wears glasses now at age four, and is doing well at school. She is daddy’s girl.
Firstborn reads very well at six, and enjoys learning Spanish. She has tried climbing an indoor pinnacle at the local REI shop, and has expressed an interest in skiing. She is a self-described chatterbox.
Fuze is back from a year of active duty with the Air Force, serving in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Qatar. He returned to regular work with a systems integration firm, but this job takes him away from home too much.
Barbaloot participates in a mothers’ group, Bible study, and the choir. Until recently she signed regularly for some deaf people in our parish. She is the center of our home, and still manages to give time and attention to church and neighbors.
We are thankful for everything we have, and all we would ask is more time with each other.
Please enjoy your Christmas season, and may this time renew your faith and energy for the coming New Year.


Met fellow blogger Walter in Denver the other night, at a party of a mutual friend. He immediately knew who I was. Pseudonymity is a pretense.


My blogroll is hosed
Either Blogger has come down with another bug, or someone has hacked it to the point that the hrefs are all gone from the links in my blogroll.


Update: partially restored. Will validate links to blogs who have moved. Please let me know if you link to me but I have not reciprocated.
Update to the update: partially restored my a**. The template keeps losing the href arguments to all links on the blog.


Ah ayahm ruh'miss . . .
. . . in welcoming to my blogroll, Jakester and Chicago Boyz.

My feeble connections to Chicago amount to one memorable lunch at the Berghoff and many plane changes at my least favorite airport (so far), O'Hare. Sorry.

Seattle holds more for me, as I had a customer in Bellevue, and still have a friend in North Bend. And a coffee mug from Poulsbo.

Update: . . . and my wife's cousin in Seattle proper, and two trips to the pie shop in North Bend, featured in the show Twin Peaks.


Darwinian testimonials
James Rummel asks why many people who depend upon handguns in their professions appear to be so emotional about the caliber .45 Automatic Centerfire Pistol cartridge.

The very unscientific answer to James's question is that many users either survived a lethal encounter, or know closely someone who has, while using said caliber. Those who entered similiar lethal encounters with arms or cartridges dispensing less power, uh, are less likely to have survived them, so there are fewer people available to testify to their effectiveness. Doubtless many cops have shot their way out of such encounters with a 9mm, for example, but I seriously have never heard anyone in that business say "If the 9mm Parabellum weren't such a potent and decisive manstopper, son, I wouldn't be standing here today." I have heard quite the opposite, from people who were skilled or lucky enough to survive in spite of the round. Reports of orcs absorbing multiple hits from .45, or from 10mm, are met with head-scratching puzzlement, because they are so rare.

Consider the term Darwinian testimonial, though perhaps a better term can be found. I do not claim to have had such an experience either way, but I know enough people who have, and their consensus is that the 9mm is an inadequate round for the application, all other things being equal. That suffices. If recoil, expense, platform, or other reasons require that one choose the 9mm over a larger caliber, its lesser effectiveness could be compensated, say through training to emphasize shot placement.

Update: Please visit James's post, and the comments thereunto. This argument is as old as either cartridge is, and will not be resolved any time soon. Your humble narrator is mulling a further post on the "conceptual space occupied by a handgun" the better to frame my flimsy argument.
What she said
This is just one more reason I admire Megan McArdle's writing. Conciseness, and an appeal to shared experience.
I think we've all had the experience of saying something accidentally that appeared to have an unequivocal horrifying meaning which was not at all what we had meant to say.

I've said such things more times than I want to remember.


Aww shucks
This blog is listed under "Other Fine Blogs" by Mr. duToit. Many thanks.

Yes, I've been away, devoting all of my Thanksgiving time to my wife and children. I managed to fit in a shooting expedition in Boulder County with a friend I hadn't seen for a year, helped him break his fiancee's Jeep's front driveshaft, and function-fired an FAL and an Ishapore pseudo-Scout.

My firstborn has also tried out the Pinnacle at the nearest REI store.

Sorry I've been away so long, but like James Rummel, I've had other things to do than sit in front of a computer. Upon returning from this hiatus, I was checking to see if anyone dropped links to me, and I'm grateful that James and Kim have not.
It's a stinkin' NAAK, Greta
Greta Van Susteren was interviewing a talking head on her Fox News program this evening about smallpox vaccinations. The file footage running along with the interview showed a BDU-clad woman demonstrating a Mark I nerve agent antidote auto-injector kit. Two injectors yoked together, a short one loaded with atropine sulfate, and a long one loaded with pralidoxime.

The Mark I's only application is to counter nerve agent poisoning. Self-administered or buddy-administered when symptoms are presented, intramuscular, right through the protective clothing. They contain huge needles, backed by huge cocked steel springs, to inject the drugs into the large outer muscle of your thigh while your hands are shaking.

This kit has no relation to vaccination against smallpox whatever.

Even Fox News is not immune to the errors that accompany reporting about the military, even on a topic that has been receiving much (deserved) attention, NBC defense.


but do you think anybody would be grateful? Nooooooo

Glenn Reynolds sees the value in third parties, by keeping the extremists from prevailing:
this is how third parties traditionally have an impact -- by costing one of the two major parties close elections.

As Thomas Sowell put it, the GOP offers (mostly) second-rate firemen to protect my liberties, and the Democrat party (mostly) first-rate arsonists who would burn those liberties down. Having the second-rate firemen firmly in charge, with a majority capable of cloture over a filibuster, can be just as bad as having the arsonists in charge by just one seat.

Anyone from the Dems or the "moderate" GOP who appreciates the valuable service we Libertarians provide in keeping the even keel, please donate to one of the charities in the ribbon to the right, or to the LP itself. In a way we keep you guys from looking worse than you would, even without getting our own people into office.

What would really fix this problem, though, would be a return to the original State appointment (and State recall) of Senators, instead of directly electing them. But Libertarians would still have the Governorships to regulate.


My wife will be home from work any minute now

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You're cautious, a bit paranoid. You left the scene for the suburban married life, but somehow, trouble seems to follow you and piss on your mornings. You are quick to share your point of view, but have no problems with giving in to the requests of wives and wolves.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

the Fighting Uruk-hai!
Orcs are a hideous breed of distorted elven shape - bred in spells and twisted sorcery.

Iraq = Uruk = Orc.

It has got to be a prank, a ruse of some kind. Iraq is a province of Mordor?
Found via Sgt Stryker.
sans Toto
Northwestern Kansas is much like Southwestern Nebraska, or Eastern Colorado, or the Oklahoma Panhandle.

At night, while driving along whatever Interstate Highway that President Eisenhower has provided through that country, one can see the next town about 30 klicks out. One has a stunning view of a meteor should one enter the atmosphere. For the record, it burned out into tiny orange splinters directly south of me at mile marker 44 on I-70.

And at 0530, one can see both Venus and Mercury.

But no witches, no ruby slippers, no wizards behind the curtain. If I am lucky, no tornadoes either.


I prefer "breasteses"
I laud the idea of bloggers baring their breasts for charity and cancer awareness. Sainted Wyff would agree that I am what would be called a "breast man." However, just as Andrea Harris despises the usage "coming with?" or "going with?", I despise the word "booby" when used for a woman's breast.

Tits, please. Or hoots. Or a rack. Boobies sounds, umm, undignified.


Back in bidness
Good thing I keep a copy of everything, so I could see what was wrong with the comment tags. Sorry, I obliterated two comments from regular readers in the process (yes, MommaBear, the blog title must be made orange). But all else should be restored and working.

Update: but now my archives have disappeared.


Straightforward . . . yeah, right, straightforward my a**
It wasn't just the bloody image tags. When I edited them with the actual image locations, then saved changes and republished, they got un-changed.

I moved everything into a new template, then brought over BlogHop, Enetation, and SiteMeter. Now how to make the blogtitle orange again?


Flatulating for Columbine
Rachel Lucas takes apart Michael Moore's grape-juice fart attack on Chuck Heston. The comments were so good I had to chip in. Do visit.
well, right there's your problem
A peek at my template shows that all of the source arguments are missing from the image tags in my rightmost column. That should be straightforward enough. Sorry for the eyesore for all this time. It will have to wait for tomorrow night.
the island of misfit toys
After two weeks back at work, I realize I work for a very dysfunctional firm. Everyone who has been there more than a year has something wrong with him or her, such as a personality disorder, a criminal record (not unusual for the cable TV industry), or just general low self-esteem, to the point that he or she doesn't believe another, more enjoyable job is out there to be had. For me, it's a port in the storm.

During a call with my manager yesterday, I said without even a hitch in my voice, that if the owner of the company objected in a particular way to how I was running my project, I would just as soon be unemployed. That is not like me. Not at all. Especially considering the job market in this area and this industry. It just came out.

But the project will teach me a lot of valuable things, and I am glad to have a crack at it. But it is keeping me from maintaining my blog, which appears to have suffered from the hacking earlier this week. BlogHop and Enetation buttons are all hosed up. Maybe this weekend I can clean these things up, and loft a goodly post on the pending attack on Iraq.


I could have sworn . . .
. . . that I heard one of Phil Hendrie's voices calling in to Glenn Beck's show today.
Twenty-seven days until Ammo Day
Would it count if I bought the components for 100 rounds instead?

Reminds me, I need a new primer follower for the RL550B press.
My attorney's phone number is . . .
One more reason comes to mind about why many gunbloggers are reluctant to speculate about the I-95 shootings.

We don't want to attract the attention of agencies investigating the shootings, like that paid to poodle-shooter owners in the area. They are being treated rather poorly, if what I hear is true. I'm rehearsing, "all attorneys advise their clients never to consent to a search, so I won't. Either give me your consent to record this conversation, or this conversation is over" and similar phrases in case I get a call like they've gotten.


Back in the yoke
I have returned to my civilian job, finally, after more than a year's absence. It was sad, and weird. My manager didn't remember my skills and could not find my resume. I had two handshakes and one literal "thanks for your service" from the whole office.

Of course I should be grateful that I still had a job to which to return. The industry is in the chumbucket and I could easily have been laid off, so I'm grateful to be drawing a salary. Still, I am disappointed. More on this topic later.
No dead pool here
With a tip of the hat to James Rummel over at Hell in a Handbasket, your humble blogger will speculate a bit further on the Beltway shootings.

There is a shooter and a driver: two people. The shooter does most of the shooting, the driver does most of the driving. Changing roles may be responsible for the muffs that have occurred so far.

Whether the shooter-and-driver team are al-Qaeda-connected is not relevant. If they are, we've a full-blown nightmare. If they aren't, they are still establishing the feasibility of such attacks to the world. Look for similar attacks to appear elsewhere. They will continue against lone targets of opportunity, where they are exposed and alone, not in groups or within places of cover.

There have been discussions in the shooting community about the rules of engagement that would apply should an armed citizen be in position to challenge such an attack, just as the anti-defense community has editorialized that armed citizens are "powerless against such attacks." Powerless, hell. Folks, the solutions are being developed by people who know what they are talking about, away from the media glare. The solutions simply haven't been tried, and those who hold themselves responsible for Our Safety would rather eat ground glass than promote them.

It is not necessary for an armed citizen to wound or kill the shooter or driver to help bring these shootings to an end. A motor vehicle with a punctured radiator, shattered windshield, or body with non-factory ventilation will be easier to find than one that has not been challenged. Find the vehicle and we're that much closer to finding the perpetrators.

The most urgent point is that the armed citizen must call the police at once, within seconds of ceasing fire, to warn them of location, direction, markings, and what things he or she shot out of the vehicle, so the police can assemble their cordon immediately and tightly.

I won't try to argue that our police, through the media, should be briefing citizens of our imperial capitol and nearby provinces about the pertinent law. When to shoot, when not to, what to aim for, whom to call and when. Which arms and ammunition would be best for the application. What would happen to the armed citizen who did not follow these instructions carefully.

For those citizens who aren't taking the armed option, what to carry instead, such as a camera with a date-time imprint, on a lanyard around the left wrist at all times between car and building. The mobile phones with integral cameras come to mind. A voice-activated digital recorder might also be useful, in the hands of a person trained to stream consciousness into it if shooting starts.

Surely a Fox affiliate could summarize these instructions so pithily, after in-depth interviews with the experts, that motorists at the Seb'me Leb'm would be reciting them unconsciously under their breath while stroking their ATM cards in the gas pumps.

Naah. Never happen.


The heretofore-unknown aphrodisiac
The most powerful aphrodisiac for a married woman is, strangely enough, a trusted babysitter, or family of babysitters, that will look after the children for a whole weekend. Then leave town for, say, Laramie.
Add two Bombay martinis and a digital camera, and shake. The erotic effects may last well into the following week if you cook dinner and get the kids to bed on time.


The migratory pattern of the Netscape profile
The problem of migrating user profiles from Netscape 4.7 to 7.0 has been figgered out. As usual with my skills and equipment, a kluge was involved.

The Profile Migration tool included with 7.0 gave me nothing but blank stares because it did not prompt for a location of profiles, insisting that it was smart enought to look for them itself. Not finding any on its present drive, it had nothing to migrate and plopped me at Netscape's home page to read today's news.

The profiles were, of course, on the original drive, not the new drive upon which OS X, OS 9.2 and Netscape 7.0 were installed "clean." I first copied them over to a folder on the new drive and ran the Profile Migration tool. No dice, still blank stares, here are today's headlines. So I restarted with OS 9.2 on the new drive, ran Netscape 4.7 on the new drive, and used its Profile Manager to port over the profiles from the older drive. Then restarted with OS X, and ran the Profile Migration tool again. The tool now saw a previous version of Netscape on its present drive, and recognized the profiles, and migrated them.

Would it have been unreasonable to expect a paragraph in a readme to explain this?


Keep it clean around here . . .
A man of the cloth now visits from time to time. Please welcome Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping. Owing to his military service, he is listed among Bloggers in Force.


The Sidearm and the Militia-Utility Test
Instapundit pointed me to this post, where Mark Kleiman argues that there is Constitutional protection for a long gun, owing to what I would call a militia utility test. If one can demonstrate what the militia is for, and how it should be armed, the Constitution protects the right to own that kind of arm---but none other. He then turns that argument to sidearms.

"A side-arm is not a weapon of war, because it lacks the range to strike the enemy. No private soldier carries one. Side-arms are for officers, to threaten, or if need be to shoot, disobedient subordinates. The rank-and-file carry long guns."
This is true for the Russian model, and others, but not for the present American one.

Sidearms are indispensable for searches of or working in such places as buildings, tunnels, and vessels, for driving vehicles, or for those carrying specialized equipment where weight of one's kit is at a premium. All of these are conceivable roles for members of various teams in a well-regulated militia.

I carried a sidearm, as a mid-level enlisted man, just last year in Central Asia. It was there in those cases when I could not carry a rifle; each time, I had an escort with a rifle nearby. I was issued both pistol and rifle, and I was free to choose which to bear according to the situation.

Anyone who carries a crew-served weapon, such as an MG, rocket launcher, in fact anything other than the standard service rifle, carries a sidearm as the backup in case the primary arm fails or its ammunition is exhausted. Private soldiers tend to acquire sidearms whenever they can; if they are not issued sidearms at the outset it is more likely a budgetary or training decision rather than one of philosophy of how men should be armed.

This also:
"A militia member fights as a soldier, with whatever arms are conventional at the time . . . "
Even soldiers fight less like soldiers today, as there are fewer and fewer of them, and more specialists in support and services fields, enhancing the effectiveness of the fewer but better-equipped and better-supported infantrymen. The tooth-to-tail ratio of the modern army is diminishing (whether this is sound theory, or effective in practice, is outside our scope here); we can expect the same for the militia if they are to be easily assimilated into the army, especially in a culture that prizes diverse experience, advanced education, initiative, and individualism. If our militia reflects our society and its values, we will not be forming waves of conscripts prodded forward by pistol-waving officers.

Organizationally, they'll look more like investment clubs, HAM radio clubs, and fantasy-football leagues. (I expect ridicule out of this last point, and perhaps I deserve it. So horse-laugh now and get it over with.)

Historically, the sidearm was developed for cavalry, because the service rifle (or its equivalent of that period) was too cumbersome for operation from horseback. The Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby was the first cavalry officer to order all of his troops to abandon the saber completely and standardize on the revolver among his troops.

The M1 Carbine of World War II was conceived, among other reasons, as a means to eliminate the several other classes of small arm, including the sidearm, so that the US would need to supply only the Carbine and the M1 service rifle. Obviously the sidearm continues to this day, because there was, and is, still a valid and fairly common need for it. Uncle doesn't issue M1 Carbines any more.

So I disagree that the sidearm would not enjoy strict Constitutional protection under the militia-utility standard. It is neither an officers-only nor a specialist's weapon. It is a tool designed for certain applications, and a militia could be called upon to carry out those applications. The same can be said for the shotgun and the SMG; Jeff Cooper's essay "The Role of the Five" explains this, and if I can find it online I will link it here later. They have their uses in a militia organization, especially one formed as American values and character would have it. The full-dress service rifle should be considered its principal arm, necessary but not sufficient.


More on the Warthog
Toren at The Safety Valve and Kathy on the Third Hand praise the A-10.
Let the Army have them, because the Air Force won't fly them, or will shoehorn them into "observation" roles. It will require a change in Federal law to make it possible, but that's what we have a Congress for, right?


These nutjobs have to be stopped
They will be stopped with forensic ballistics, not by vigilant cops catching the sniper in the act. What ballistic facts have been released are sketchy, and have been (characteristically for the press) poorly reported.

The bullets recovered may indeed be consistent with those used in the .223 Remington cartridge. But that does not mean that they were fired from a .223 Remington, also known as 5.56 x 45mm or 5.56mm NATO. The same diameter bullet, even the same bullet models themselves, are used in dozens of other, more powerful hunting cartridges. The graphic descriptions I have read so far of the wounds and placement suggest this, rather than .223 in the urban carbine. Any shooting enthusiast can rattle off the names of such cartridges. Update: Kim du Toit rattles some of them here.

Handguns can be had in these cartridges too, though these will be single-shot handguns with a bolt action or a "cannon lock" to contain high pressures. These handguns do not lend themselves to concealment inside the waistband. But they are capable of the accuracy and range exhibited here.

The police reports confirming the .223 caliber---the diameter of the bullet, actually dot two two four inches---can also be smoke. How much of the bullet's material has been recovered?

Bullet manufacturers routinely brag on "high weight retention," how much of the bullet is left, as a percentage of original weight---some is expected to be lost. Hunting bullets get mushroomed, flattened, and fragmented, such that the original dimensions of the bullet may be difficult to determine. They are built to expand, to bring the animal down immediately, nothing inhumane about it. In contrast, military bullets are more likely to be recovered intact, and less likely to do such spectacular damage, because they are constructed not to expand, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and they are driven with less energy so the rifles firing them have a longer useful life.

So the bits of lead and gilding metal that were recovered could be from a .243", a .25", maybe even a .264". Blogs4God has conjectured a caliber of .308" though I don't buy that either. They could have been fired from your granddad's Savage 99 in .22-250, or a Swedish Mauser '96 in 6.5x55 (the model numbers are abbreviated years of introduction, beginning in Eighteen, not Nineteen). The rifle could be older than everyone investigating the crime today.

Of course, if I were investigating these crimes, I would not release more of the ballistics I've discovered than I absolutely must to satisfy the baying press. Nor would I be above minor disinformation to protect the progress of the investigation.

So I'm not sold yet on the notion that the sniping is being done with off-the-shelf .223 Remington ammunition and/or with an AR.


Keep it outside the squadron, kids
Donald Sensing posted something a few weeks back, about some military force (not the US, likely) instructing its members not to sleep with each other, because it harms morale. Unfortunately, the link in his post did not lead me to the article he cited. But weigh in on the topic, I will.

If you haven't figured it out already, I just came back from a year of active duty in the War on Terrorism. I started this blog while deployed overseas for that duty. I observed a few things that will be described, in due time, in this space, as I figure out what safely to say about it and what not to. This is the first.

Trying to keep young men and women working and living together, and sharing hardship, from knocking boots is like keeping them from getting tattoos. I spent nearly six months at one location, a logistics center, where the split was nearly 60-40 men to women. There was ample evidence that sexual congress was occurring, and clear communication that Uncle Sugar disapproved of it. It is the first instance I've seen of the term "fraternization" applied to anything other than that (properly) harshly forbidden between officers and enlisted folks.

As Donald quoted in his post:
. . . sleeping with fellow soldiers of either sex, or indeed their partners, would be bad for morale, threatening "mutual trust and soldiers' willingness to help each other."

I agree. It can't be stopped, but it should be limited. Soldiers will accept the limits, if the reasons for such limits can be articulated. And the reason is right there in the quote. Mutual trust, morale, unit cohesion are undermined if sex or even courting is taking place among people who work that closely together, even if they are of the same rank. It can be as damaging as O-on-E fraternization.

Keep it outside the squadron. Don't even date within the squadron. Look after the people in your own unit like brothers and sisters. SPs, you can pursue the Loggies. Fire dogs, hit on the babe in the command post. And so forth. But not inside your immediate unit---not anyone who has the same first shirt as you. It's like incest.

I realize that many military marriages started out this way, and it verges on hypocrisy for me to weigh in against it, because my wife and I met through work. Still, the reason for such a prohibition is not hard to argue, nor hard to understand.

Please see my lone comment at Donald's post also.


Amtrak with Boeings
Writer, raconteur and grouch Kim du Toit invites airline executives to pound sand since they have hit economic hard times and are seeking a bailout from Uncle Sugar. Says he:
"F*** 'em.  Let 'em go out of business.  Let new airlines arise from the ashes of these burnt-out, bloated conglomerates, let these new airlines heed the lessons from these failed and extinct dinosaurs, and maybe everyone will be better off."

It's too late for the free market to punish these businesses and reward newcomers. Air travel has already been effectively nationalized. In what meaningful ways can an airline distinguish itself from the dinosaurs and capture business from them? Between local government ownership of the airports and Fed responsibility for security at all points in the air travel experience, there is little left to the airline itself to improve service without diminishing its profits further, or either changing or violating a law.

Air travel won't be profitable as a business again, nor tolerable for Kim or for me, until the present airline security approach is removed, so airlines can begin treating their passengers as paying customers instead of felons. With what to replace it?

Give me back my Gerber E-Z Out.

I've advocated allowing pilots to arm themselves with firearms, and that actually might happen. I've also advocated allowing flight attendants to carry firearms, but that is unlikely and has even been dissed here in the Blogosphere.

Allowing passengers to carry firearms is even less likely. But a few stout folding knives would have been very useful to the brave passengers of United 93, or the folks who restrained the shoe bomber.



Found via Dustbury, a recently invented technique to derive keys from physical objects. This reminded me of a Scientific American article, maybe 1985 to 1989, just a little sidebar story about a technique the US military-industrial complex developed to authenticate serial numbers on cruise missiles.

Spray a mixture of lacquer and microscopic ground glass particles over the serial number, and photograph it from several angles. The reflection patterns of each marking will be unique and reproducible (standardize the flash intensity and color, and the angle of incidence) but difficult or impossible to forge.
Somebody likes me
Somebody who shall remain nameless bought my banner. Thank you.
Should the mood strike you, gentle reader, to look for my tip jar, I do not have one nor will I install one. Please drop shekels into the coffers of the many deserving institutions listed to your left, members of the Public Policy Institute.
OS X upgrade continues
Has anyone used the Profile Migration tool of Netscape 7.0 on the Mac OS X?
Another idea of mine stolen

Found courtesy of Dodgeblog, in an article about women deeply conflicted about what they want from men:
Glenlivet, the whisky brand, ... is opening a male finishing school

First the sleeplearning pillow, then the adaptation of DOCSIS to line-of-sight wireless, now this.


further evidence that I've not kept up with my reading
When did Ruger resume making the .44 Carbine? I saw one at a show last weekend, with a plastic upper handguard. Had to be recent manufacture. Yup, they did.

There's a Thumper candidate.

the universe is badly out-of-balance
My baby-sitter got free tickets to see The Who.
I'm catching up on housework, now that I have the time and the energy. My corner of the basement is being reorganized, the whole garage is straightened up, the flagship PowerMac is upgraded (more on this later). We took delivery of some pavers to purty up the card-table-sized back yard.

Half of the stuff in the garage is now on casters so we can get at it. After saying goodbye to a massive war surplus steel desk (kept in the garage because the movers wouldn't try to get it to the basement) I deck-screwed a plywood plate to the bottom shelf of one of those cheesy-looking plastic
modular shelving
units, then lag-bolted 250-pound casters to the plate. I liked the effect so much I built a few more low platforms on 75-pound casters, just big enough for the Rubbermaid 20-gallon storage tubs that are stacked in the basement.

Yet to go: the Linux box needs device statements to tell KDE where the CD-ROM and CD-RW drives are. A batch of porter needs to be brewed. And my wife and I need to get to Jim Crews's school.
The low spark of Breathe-Right strips
Take a Breathe-Right nasal dilator strip into a completely dark place. Watch as you peel open the paper envelope in which the strip is packaged. A faint blue glow is created as the adhesive holding the two sides of the envelope together yields.


OS upgrade
Just completed upgrade to OS X on the home machine. Rather than pluke around with partitions and so forth on the original drive, we just installed a second drive and installed everything there. The drive cost less than the new OS.
Yes, we're bloody Mac bigots here.
Next, Jaguar?


Getting reacquainted
Returning to my family after six months is like an amnesiac being told that he has a family, a history, whom he must approach almost as if it were an introduction. I didn't appreciate how rich and fortunate a man I was until I met these people again and was charmed by them, learning little things about them that I thought I knew.

Boy is now 2 years old. When my wife handed him to me at the airport, he immediately squirmed to escape me. He didn't recognize me.
He ran back to his mother, who told him that I am his father. He ran back to me. He would not stop talking during the drive back to Castle Rock. His mother says he is one hundred percent boy. After spending some Dad-and-son time with him, I conclude he is also about 30 percent orc.

Middlechild is a Daddy's girl who wears glasses at age 4 due to astigmatism inherited from me. And who was picked up from the school office today because she bit someone who was fiddling with her Spongebob keyring. I need to borrow a polygraph from someone and be shown how to use it, because this girl can lie like a rug.

Firstchild, six years old, started first grade this year. I gave her a small wad of Omani currency to take to school for show-and-tell. I showed her how to look at the watermark, how Arabic reads right-to-left, how currency comes in units and subunits, and how to pronounce rial and baisa. She can make change in US currency, and reads at a better level than I did at her age. She benefits from the marriage of two powerful concepts in education: charter and Montessori.

The town has changed in these six months as well. Mama-san needed to inflate a vinyl wading pool, and I couldn't find my airchucks, so I had to make a tool run. At the point where I normally would turn left to head for the WalMart, hoping they had air-powered parts, the entrance to the new Home Depot came into view off starboard. To hell with anybody's viewshed, and screw your objections about big box stores. I now live within five minutes of a Home Depot and I didn't have to move, thank you.
jardin défendu
The Front Range has been rainy and overcast every day since my return. Still, people worry about the drought, and several municipalities here have restricted water use or are going to court to restrict someone else's water use, which reminds me of Ed Quillen's column about architecture's adaptation to climate, and the water-conserving walled garden homes of the Mediterranean.

Housing developments here, at least in my price range, all have card-table-sized lawns in front and in back. The front lawns are all sodded and have irrigation gear installed, whether you like it or not, and privacy fences running from house to house. Not enough room here to throw a Frisbee, not enough room for a decent porch either.

The rear lawns are left in mud, brown-eyed susans and purslane, and you will install your own privacy fence to separate your mud from your adjacent neighbors' mud. You will also be blessed with some massive green box or doghouse of some kind, to provide the electrical power, telephone, or cable TV service for the block.

Your covenant gives you an arbitrary 60 days to get the rear sodded, or your homeowners association will hound you, financed to do so by your dues. Any landscaping more complex than sodding from fence to fence requires a permit that must be signed by your adjacent neighbors.

I'm the kind of guy who likes to solve more than one problem with one solution, and yes, I classify busybody neighbors with veto power over my front and back yards as a problem. The windswept front lawn whose irrigation system blows acre-feet of water down the street is also a problem.

So somebody please design a development where each block looks in upon itself, like an atrium. Move the houses out to the sidewalk, turn them so they face each other inwardly, and merge each useless little front lawn and its nearly-useless rear lawn into one workable lawn for each property, protected from the wind. Run a sidewalk down the middle, flanked by waist-high fences, where neighborhood kids can bike, skate, toss balls and whatnot, free from the dangers of automobiles and perverts. The paved bike paths that lace these communities together today can be passed through the block.

Anybody who Joneses for a dramatic porch and window treatments can still do so and compete with his neighbors (double entendre intended). Anybody who wants to be able to sunbathe buck naked in his lawn can erect privacy fences, set back from the sidewalk an appropriate distance, thereby closing off the view to his porch.

From the outside, where the automobiles move about, one sees only walls---whether wooden, concrete, or discarded car tires rammed with earth, it doesn't matter---say 8 feet high, and the rears of the houses, punctuated at regular intervals by garage doors. By covenant, these outward facing walls have no windows, or have windows such that no one can look from his window into anyone else's. Balconies here, overlooking the street, would be permissible only if the view is similarly restricted. And by covenant, anything that neighbors see on your house from out there is legit, whether it's a solar collector, a satellite dish, a HAM antenna, or aluminum foil to block the CIA's brain scans: the HOA must keep its hands the hell off.

All of the utilities are accessed from the street, so no hardhats will ever be poking around in your yard. The mailbox pod is placed at one end, and everybody gets to greet each other as they waddle down the central sidewalk to pick up their mail. Heavy deliveries are made through the garage. Firefighting is conducted through the sidewalk entrances, because that's where the hydrants are located.

The security-obsessed developments can put coded gates on the sidewalk entrances, directing transient footpath traffic around the blocks rather than inviting them through.

With this neighborhood design in place, we can then talk about the little stuff, such as recycling the laundry and shower water for irrigation, and putting twenty-buck sensors on the irrigation systems so they don't irrigate when it rains.


. . . and let me deduct the cost from my Federal income taxes

I've closed at least two posts with that line, referring to one of my pet ideas, that because gun ownership is a public good, the public should in some way defray the costs of providing that public good. If not sincerely, I promote it at least with tongue-in-cheek, to reverse-psych leftists into grokking libertarian objections to the Federal income tax.

Apparently someone has unwittingly climbed on board with me. As reported by the Volokh Conspiracy, Gary Wills finds the right to publicly funded sturmgewehren, sort of:
"What Madison and the Congress did was underline the independent action of the militias when they were not federalized, pledging that the new government would keep them equipped for that local purpose. The right to demand this service is the first and foremost meaning of "Second Amendment rights."
Emphasis mine.

Another quote here, from Yevgeniy's post, formatted such that I think it's a quote from or paraphrasing of Gary Wills, not Yevgeniy's own words:
"Rather, it's an affirmative entitlement to a form of government subsidy. Quite a remarkable reading of the phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

Honey, we need to go shopping.
"Customers who bought this book have also bought . . ."
While I was ordering David Brin's book about privacy, The Transparent Society, Amazon informed me which books "Customers who bought this book also bought", which books "Customers who shopped for this book also bought" and which books "Customers who bought this book also recommended". Think what we could learn if Amazon sold, uh, marital appliances.


Blogroll adjustments continue
Weclome to Hell in a Handbasket.
It's the damned "Post" key I should have hesitated to hit
As usual, I have second thoughts about a post, this time on the Vast Masonic Bilderblogger Conspiracy, which in retrospect reads like so much whining by a blogger who just has to accept that he's not as good a writer or thinker, and not as well connected to other good writers and thinkers, as he'd like to be. On the first two points, I can only counsel myself, "practice," and on the third, "blog."

. . . guess I'll go eat worms . . .
And I think there's a trend growing in the Blogosphere, as the truly talented bloggers . . . start getting too much mail to respond to it all and picking to which mail they'll reply or post about, much more carefully than in the humble beginnings. They've started turning inward, to each other.

The self-pity here is astonishing on its own. Underscore it with the fact that Glenn has posted 4 items from me, 2 of them since I started blogging, one of which may have caused him embarrassment because his post quoted a spelling error of mine.

What have I to bitch about? He's linking to my stuff! Considering Glenn's readership, I value those items more than my letters to the editor printed in my hometown papers, where big J-schools can be found.

Hello, McFly?
They will slowly cut themselves off from the flow of esoteric/unusual incoming content that gave them their starts as bloggers. Content that they don't read is content they don't post, which is content that We Wonder What They Did With when we hear about it from another source, instead of from them.

The content, the information, eventually emerges because the means to publish it is now ubiquitous and accessible to anyone. The content will be found and published, even if it's just by a path-of-least-resistance dropout like me.


A cowslip for Bigwig
SiteMeter tells me that somebody Googled their way to my post on the Monty Python skit at USAFA. That reminds me that Bigwig posted the
lines of that skit recently.

Blogroll adjustments
New to the blogroll, Aubrey Turner. Found through MusicPundit's post proposing a right to keep and bear digital arms, through Instapundit.
You know you are working with a public school teacher . . .
. . . when you see him repair a 5-cent file folder with packaging tape, rather than discard it and get a new one.

Bloggin' been berry berry good to me
The Fat Guy posts about paid blogging, and Whether Blogging Has Been Berry Berry Good for Him. I went over the 2500 character limit of his commenting system, so I post the comments here instead.

Re: "I know in my gut that [blogging has] hurt my reading skills...I expect everything I read to be packaged up nicely in one or two paragraphs with pithy and/or snarky comments."
I see that in myself, and in others. To wit, more than once I've commented on other people's blogs after just skimming, without having fully read the post upon which I am commenting. I miss who wrote the post, in the case of a team blog, or the appearance of one idea that I, helpfully or so I think, add to the thread. Only to check back days later to find that, e.g. Woundwort wrote that post and not Bigwig, or Matthew Edgar already acknowledged he's a Deist.

That bothers me. Am I that inattentive in real life?

My own response to that:

  • hesitate on the Submit Comment key, but comment everywhere I go. I wish half of my posts on my blog were as brilliant and thoughtful as this comment here today.
  • read more widely, different blogs, instead of falling into the rut of Instapundit, Vodkapundit, Volokh, Instapundit, Vodkapundit, Volokh, DenBeste ... I'll never make their blogrolls anyway.
  • open my own blog to comments.
  • read all the comments, both on my own blog and everywhere that I post comments. I especially like commenting systems that scroll the post itself along with the comments.
  • read something other than blogs, i.e. have a life to blog about. I won't give up ink-on-paper.

And like you, I don't read "the stuff being commentaried on" (unless I suspect the blogger's interpretation). Why bother? I don't necessarily want to know who's being hacked by the RIAA, for example, I want to know whether it's likely to happen to me, and who I need to talk to, or give money to, or vote for/against, to keep it from happening to me. Blog content is partially-digested news, news I have an idea what to do with.

And I think there's a trend growing in the Blogosphere, as the truly talented bloggers build brand recognition and market share, they start getting too much mail to respond to it all and picking to which mail they'll reply or post about, much more carefully than in the humble beginnings. They've started turning inward, to each other.

They will become the Establishment, The Big Wheels as the Fat Guy called them, instead of the Young Turks, the Outside Looking In. They will slowly cut themselves off from the flow of esoteric/unusual incoming content that gave them their starts as bloggers. Content that they don't read is content they don't post, which is content that We Wonder What They Did Withtm when we hear about it from another source, instead of from them.

What they will have left is their subject matter expertise, and their point-of-view, which for most of them is enough to keep blogging, but not enough to promote new readership of the kind that made these überbloggers famous. What was new will be made old. It's an inevitable, natural process.

Going to paid blogging? As much as I wish them well, I think good, memorable blogging depends too heavily on dialog with readers and other bloggers, hitchhiking on their ideas or proving they're full of shit, or anywhere in between. Any limit or hurdle to readership is a limit to incoming content that blogs depend upon. Blogging isn't a source of content, it's more like a brokerage---or a flea market.

What I find more exciting are proposals (Like NZ Bear's BlogMD initiative) for metacontent mapping
systems. I'd maybe pay for one that allows me to query the whole Blogosphere about a given topic ("Who's writing about Army suspicions that anti-malarial meds are a factor in the murder-suicides in Ft Bragg?") instead of trying to Google it. The blogs and bloggers who want to be read will adopt these meta tagging conventions, because those who have adopted them will be read, commented, and quoted more often than those who do not, caeteris paribus.

In this post, I've far exceeded my quota of sentences ended by prepositions. Sorry, Mrs. McGill; sorry, Mr. Gigliotti.


Those who would trade liberty for frequent traveler miles . . .
In the mail today:

[edited] Airlines
Frequent Traveler Programs Coordinator

Mr. Fusilier Pundit
Front Range, Colorado 80XXX
Frequent Traveler Account number XXX XXX XXXX

Dear Mr. Pundit,

Thank you for taking the time to answer [edited] Airlines' recent passenger satisfaction survey. We understand your concern, as expressed in the comments section of the survey, regarding the inconveniences and discomforts of Federally-mandated airport security measures. We are committed to giving you the highest possible comfort, safety, and satisfaction with our service, while observing Federal law.

One way to show our commitment to you is our introduction of [edited] Airlines' new Freqent Traveler Security Assurance Plussm program, tailored specifically to frequent travelers like you, Mr. Pundit.

In return for a few minutes of your time, to complete an expanded Frequent Traveler profile, we guarantee you an enhanced Passenger Security Screening experience while you receive the level of personal attention that you deserve, both in flight and on the ground.

You will join an exclusive class of Frequent Traveler who receive distinctive complementary travel apparel, designed by today's top fashion consultants---a fresh ensemble every time you enter our Security Assurance Plussm Lounge:

  • A comfortable and stylish one-piece Tyvektm Security Assurance Plussm travel pyjama, in distinctive [edited] Airlines orange, custom-marked with your ticket number and name across the shoulders.
  • Luxurious and convenient underclothes that not only enhance the security of our boarding gates and aircraft, but allow relief in those stressful 30 minutes before your flight lands.
  • Easy-care nitrate-free travel slippers that allow your feet to breathe on those coast-to-coast flights.

Our Security Assurance Plussm Lounge staff will screen your street clothing, vacuum-bag it, check it with your luggage and carry-ons, and return it to you in the Security Assurance Plussm Lounge at your destination.

After every flight, keep this ensemble as our gift to you, our most valued Frequent Traveler, to wear at poolside, in the workout room, or anywhere you relax during your trip, while quietly showing that you fly in the most exclusive tier of Frequent Travelers.

To enroll, please update your clothing sizes in your travel profile. Fax or mail the attached form, or go online to the [edited] Airlines Traveler Profile page. A sizing chart is provided on the form and at our online profile update page to help you.

Then, the next time you check in for a [edited] Airlines flight, follow the [edited] Airlines orange signs to the exclusive SAPsm Lounge. The first check-in after enrollment, we ask you to arrive about 15 minutes earlier than usual so we can take front and profile photographs of you for our records.

Other airlines would charge hundreds of dollars per year to offer you this level of attention, convenience, and privilege. But we offer this program to you free of charge, except for a one-time $75 fee for the criminal records background check (double miles if you use an [edited] Airlines credit card). And we'll credit your Frequent Traveler account 200,000 miles when you enroll as a SAPsm.

As you can see, we're anxious to get you back in the air, Mr. Pundit. Please enroll today.


[edited] Airlines


Why she hasn't found Mr. Right
It's not because she's 6'2". It's because she's a vegetarian.
"Bah, Army gibberish" indeed

Says Sergeant Stryker to Wes Dabney:
"We didn't put a gun to [the US Army's] head and force you to buy a clay pigeon. Yeah, we got the A-10 and it's your best friend."

Uhh, no, USAF didn't put the gun to the Army's head. Congress did, in 1947 (Sarge, check your Course 6 materials). They made it against the law for the Army to fly fixed-wing aircraft. The Air Force doesn't want to fly them, either, they aren't glamorous enough. Warthogs will see combat only when the AF is dragged to do so, kicking and screaming. That's why some of them are available in the States to be demonstrated as a next-generation platform for fighting forest fires. So the Army is compelled to try to shoehorn vulnerable helicopters into air support, a role for which they aren't well suited. Helicopters are too easy to bring down; the Army's investments in armor, stealth, and survivability chase diminishing returns, hence "clay pigeon."

The Sarge continues:
"Perhaps your Generals could do some of that General shit and acquire some A-10's of your own. The Air Force has been claiming for years that we don't need them anymore, so maybe your guys can put the squeeze on somebody and get them from us."
That would require an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947, to allow the Army to fly fixed-wing for close air support.

I don't claim that idea as my own (maybe I should, read the comments on Wes's post), but I would support it, if only for the value of countering the hubris of the zipper-suited sun gods.
My only chance to say "neener neener"
My Frequent Traveler Pack of metallic cards bearing the Bill of Rights is waiting for me to get back Stateside, begging me to drop them ostentatiously into the gray plastic buckets of DIA's security screening lines.

As Glenn would put it, "advantage: Fusilier Pundit!"


On hiatus my @ss
If you've come here from Sergeant Stryker's Daily Briefing, thank you for following the comments and for visiting.

Please see my post here, and then go to Kim du Toit's reply to it, and be sure to follow the link in his post to Chuck Hawks.


On hiatus
I'll be posting no more this week. Rather than visit other blogs or look up your horoscope, do something useful and stroll through my archives. That little link up on the right, yes, that one . . . it says "archives" . . .
The politically-correct way to say "redneck"

This article describing the Jacksonian political orientation has disturbed the wildlife in my little watershed of the blogosphere. I admit that it has given me fresh insight into my own personal politics and those of people I know. A source of tension in my own beliefs is now explained in a way that I can act on it. Please go read the article and come back.

First the reservations: I stopped watching professional wrestling at age 13 or so, when WIIC-TV stopped running it on Saturday afternoons, decades before the steroids and the stage lighting. Nor have I named an automobile General Lee. And the comparison between NRA-card-carrying Jacksonians and ACLU-card-carrying Jeffersonians seems to ignore Jefferson's passionate insistence upon an armed populace, and today's growing suspicion among gun-owners of the War on Drugs.

There will be more on this, which will have to wait, but just a thought for now: US military institutions are formally apolitical, and stringently so because of our cherished subordination of the military to the civil power. A formal political movement among the uniformed services would be cause for alarm, and is literally illegal.

But every person has his politics, whether he is aware of them or not, and the job of the military ("war," if you ask a Jacksonian) is the continuation of politics by other means. One hypothetical would have mostly Jacksonian enlisted men serving under mostly Jeffersonian commanders, who take orders from mostly Hamiltonian chiefs of staff following policies written by Wilsonian civilians. That is a too-convenient explanation for our experience in Vietnam.

The stresses of armed conflict (and training for conflict), just like the stresses of study at university, can alter one's politics, if they are not already fully formed. This stress and introspection will forge an orientation or a tradition into an articulable and defensible ideology. Would it be preferable on the one hand for our officer promotion system, for example, to profess to be apolitical, but inadvertently, unconsciously groom disproportionate numbers of, say Wilsonians---or on the other hand, to recognize and understand the diversity, where diversity really would matter? Which would be healthier for the military itself and the country at large?


The Committee of Safety Musket of 2002
The Committee of Safety of Massachusetts was a governing body formed to regulate the general Militia in 1774. To put this Militia in good working order (as the verb "regulate" was meant in English of that time), the Committee determined that the Militia needed to be armed with a long gun of the type in common use by the legitimate army of the time---the English Army.

The Committee of Safety directed local manufacture of a long arm that was identical to the Short Land Musket (New Pattern) carried by the English regulars. The Committee clearly intended the militiamen to be armed competitively to the regulars, whether the fight would be side-by-side, or toe-to-toe. Note well, it had a bayonet. A big one.

The original Committee of Safety musket was smoothbore, not rifled. Its range and accuracy were intentionally traded away for an arm that was cheaper and easier to manufacture, and faster to reload, because those specifications agreed with how armies of that day fought. Rifles existed then, and were common among the colonists, but hadn't been adopted broadly by any military at that time.

American militiamen, once our Independence was declared and rebellion was open, shifted away from smoothbore muskets to rifles as their doctrine and tactics evolved from attrition to maneuver. They needed the accuracy and range to use tactics that reduced the exposure of their own forces to fire. Our militiamen traded up from their smoothbore, giving up high volume of fire and commonality with the regulars, to a more-expensive smaller-caliber hunting gun that offered greater range and finer accuracy, but demanded more of its shooter in skill and planning.

Today's regular soldier carries a third-generation sturmgewehr, black gun, or "conscript weapon," a selective fire carbine with detachable box magazines that feed big stacks of small cartridges, each throwing a light bullet with diminished power. The lower-power cartridges allow the carbine to be smaller, lighter, and easier to control (go look at this post on StrategyPage and scroll down to the 14 July item.) This is the poodle-shooter.

The military tactic that calls for this kind of long arm could sacrifice range (from 1000 meters plus to, say, 300) and power (difficult to quantify without geeking out and starting gunnie arguments, so bear with me) in exchange for reduced weight and size of one round of ammunition, reduced recoil, and the ability to discharge multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger.

Colonel Cooper predicted it, and news from SFTT has confirmed it: the tradeoff towards intermediate-cartridge sturmgewehrs has not yielded the expected results. The light 5.56mm bullet don't deliver the same blow to the target as the older, heavier .30 cals do. American soldiers need to place several bullets of 5.56mm to drop a soldier that would have been felled by one bullet from the World War II calibers. The Soviet tradeoff from big-bottle 7.62mm to intermediate 7.62mm was hardly any better. Having to fire more rounds to achieve the same effect negates the logistical advantages of the intermediate cartridge, actually leaving the soldier worse off, because he may have had the opportunity to fire only one round. So if we have truly awakened and are smelling the coffee, our GIs need to trade up, as Kim du Toit recommends.

The principal reason I write this post is to echo numerous eloquent sentiments in the blogosphere, that the war on terrorism will eventually come to us, directly or indirectly, and affect us as individuals otherwise going about our own business. Each of us must examine our vulnerabilities and take such realistic countermeasures as are within reach, rather than let it catch us fat, dumb, and vaguely dissatisfied.

If you agree with that concept, don't hold your breath waiting for the Congress to put the militia in good order. They are preoccupied with erecting Maginot Lines, and hiring people to maintain them.

So you're on your own. You'll have to fit yourself out, with your own money and on whatever guidance you can collect. What would you get, or have you gotten already? If applicable, what would you get first? Please choose better than Uncle Sugar did the last time around.

Constant across all possible solutions, there are competing schools of thought, represented by tradeoff positions in 3-space:

  • money. It must be allocated among capital equipment, versus expendables, versus professional services, such as training and modifications. Prepackaged solutions cost more at small scale, but save on time and commonality.

  • time. How much will you invest in practice, skill and planning? How long you will look for that ideal component, and wait a professional to integrate it? Will you learn to build, modify, or fix your own? Will you roll your own cartridges?

  • network effects, otherwise known as commonality with friend or foe. Can you, or must you, trade with the guy down the block? Can you use what you steal from the opponent? Will liberated gear compel you to fight the way he did?

Like buying a car or a computer, your kit will express your personality, good, bad and indifferent. It will represent your doctrine (or whether you have one). Will you go for the main battle rifles suggested by Kim duToit? Or a Farnam rifle? Or clean up a WWII turn-bolt rifle, become one with it, brew the perfect round for it and so forth, like a Jedi building his own lightsaber?

Choose your requirements and doctrine realistically, and engineer your system to them. And deduct the costs of your system from your adjusted gross income.

(I've been saving this post for some weeks now, chose to publish now while there is even a shred of currency to it.)


Full upright and locked position
Nude flight attendants are suggested at Harrumph!. Found via The Fat Guy.

Update: After careful consideration, I must turn the thumb down on this idea. It interferes with the concept of discreetly arming flight attendants, discussed here.
Now you funny too . . . everybody funny
Clueless took his down. Now Bill Quick too. Just as I put mine up.

If comments take the fun out of this blog, they come down.

Update: I read the Clueless post where Mr. Den Beste announced that comments weren't fun anymore, and figured that the shutdown was imminent. Bill Quick too. But damned if the comments aren't back up, or never left, at both blogs.
Oh, all right
Since the Webmistress at Spleenville put hers up . . .
B1 d- t- k+ s u f i o x- e- l c+

Generate your own Bloggercode. Follow this link for translators too.

What I'm really waiting for, though, is a personality quiz asking which King of the Hilltm character I am. As long as I come up "Boomhauer."


The soundtracks of our lives
Bigwig's idea of songs that are impressed on his memory reminds me of my blessing/curse. A song is constantly playing in my head, and it usually pertains in some way to what is going on in the real world outside the head. If the same song plays over and over, trouble is brewing.

Ain't talkin bout love---Van Halen. When I was turned down for a date one time too many.

Good Times, Bad Times---Led Zeppelin. When I had my apartment to myself again.

That's the way it oughta be---another LZ. Motoring with Steve around Wisconsin in summer, canoeing down the Kickapoo River from Sparta.

Nature's Way---don't know the artist. When the ex announced she was moving out, and I agreed that it was a good idea.

Kissing with Confidence---Will Powers. When I Finally Met Hertm.

Karn Evil Nine---Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Reading about the recently released motion picture, The Exorcist.
Rethinking the wondernine
William Thomas Quick's post on dissatisfaction with the Beretta 92 as the standard US military sidearm continues a long-running debate over its adoption.

For the record, I vote to go back to the .45, or try the .40 S&W. NATO standardization here is less important than for service-rifle cartridges. To observe the Geneva prohibitions against expanding bullets, heed Jeff Cooper's recommendation for the jacketed truncated-cone design.

For those who oppose changing pistols or calibers because of the cost, allow me to offer this fiscally responsible solution:
Let commissioned officers buy their own, and give NCOs an allowance toward theirs. Give them a list, however short or long the DoD wants to make it, of models which are allowed (better yet, which models are prohibited). Whatever sidearm they pick must use Uncle Sam's chosen caliber and loading. Allow them to deduct the cost of purchase, modification, and accessories on their Federal income taxes. Require them to qualify with it every 60 days, or they can't wear it or deploy with it. Require them to wear it once a week, including designated PT runs, reveilles, and retreats.

What is reliable and what is not will get sorted out quickly and communicated efficiently through the ranks. Fitting the sidearm to the hand of the user becomes the user's responsibility, facilitated by a free market---if the Beretta doesn't fit the hand of the 5'0" 95-pound female, she has several single-stack alternatives.

Objections along the lines of "but you'll put an eye out" will not be entertained.


No Lifeguard on Duty
The hot tub was completed and filled today. A wooden frame encloses a space about 8 by 6 feet, 1 foot deep, with a ledge one feet wide surrounding that, and about 2 feet deeper still. This space is lined with a 20 by 20 foot panel of rubberized vinyl from a discarded fuel bladder.

Add chlorine to about 25 ppm. Wait until the sun goes down and toss in a lightstick for mood lighting. Inspect for solifugids prior to stepping in. Ahhhh.


What Would Bugs Bunny Do?
. . . in the War on Terrorism, asks Glenn Reynolds, as he comments on a post at Cooped-up.

Rather, what would Sam Kinison do?

How about loading up in a Suburban with Saudi plates and an emblem from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, trolling the malls for a mutawa, and, gasping for breath, inviting him to help you bust up the wet T-shirt contest at the Sheraton "cuz we need all the hands we can get." Once he's inside the vehicle, overpower him and get him started immediately on his new diet of lots of Ecstasy. Then deliver on the promise of the wet T-shirts---for several days---and return him safely where you found him. Replace his horsewhip with a sex toy.

Find another mall. Repeat.

Correction: Thanks to Instapundit's readers and Kinison fans for catching my spelling error; please accept my apologies.


Is the RIAA behind this bill?
It's safe to say that Britney Spears or Boyz'n the Hood (sp?), or their promoters, will not be doing time because somebody popped Ecstasy at one of their concerts. Maybe this is another front in the entertainment industry's campaign to make nice with the bluenoses after Frank Zappa spoke truth to Tipper Gore.

Send a file-swapping raver to jail, protect the industry's big acts, get an anti-drug feather in the industry's cap. Win-win-win!
All guns and no butter makes Fuze a dull boy

In spite of the nom de blog I've chosen, other things interest me apart from the ozony tang of burnt smokeless propellant.

For instance, Blogger pointed me to dissatisfaction, which led to bitterness, and anger, associated with the dating scene. Let me submit that dating, courting, finding someone to share your time and happiness with, is an acquired skill set. Some people seem to be born with it, others must teach themselves assiduously, others never quite get the knack. Of these last, some manage to find happiness with a significant other anyway, but statistically the prospects are not good, unless there is some milieu, such as work, church, or some shared intense experience to draw people together who otherwise could not give each other the time of day.

Some (male and female) develop the courting skills to such a fine edge that they put their objects at a disadvantage, and toy with them for amusement in itself, rather than employ dating/courting/NotDatingTM as the means to a wholesome and logical end---finding companionship.

There are wonderful observations about the human condition in these blogs, along with some truly disturbing cries of pain and confusion, some of which I've expressed myself years ago, some very alien, and some self-inflicted.

Something I've thought for years: we need charm schools for men (this is not an invitation for women to suggest curricula, by the way). Unfortunately, such schools would represent the sharing of carefully- (and expensively-)developed competitive trade secrets. There is no incentive for a roué to disclose his technique except in return for another, as if in a guild. This is the main reason dispirited young men who lack these skills conclude that good guys finish last.


Ahh, the smell of a blog
Gunpowder and buffalo wings---guilty as charged.

Don't forget the hops, and the Hoppe's.


This one time? In Mendoza?
I once took a long business trip in Latin America, touring customers with the LA business manager. After taking a bus over Los Caracoles, we had a long stop in Mendoza, Argentina, where the friend of our representative there invited us to dine with the entire family. To honor their guests, the father brought out a bottle of wine that was earmarked for such occasions, bought on the year that his first child, a daughter, was born. She was in her teens at this event.

As a redneck Gringo with one year of high-school Spanish, I had difficulty staying with the conversations. But the idea of setting aside a few bottles of wine, to commemorate milestones in a child's upbringing, stuck with me. The story of el patalana stuck with me too.

Our first child enters first grade. Our second is a kindergartner. The boy won't be in school for another year.

Any suggestions?
Notice to Blogchalkers
For some reason, all blogs where a blogchalk is posted show a placeholder for the graphic instead of the graphic itself. The graphic is 800-odd pixels long, which buggers up the tables upon which blogs depend. Spleenville (thanks for the blogroll, Andrea) is now about two miles wide and I have to use the horizontal scroll bar to read it.

I am Charlie Brown

Which Peanuts Character Are You Quiz


CDs on the way
Fountains of Wayne, Holly Cole, Chemical Brothers.


The Meaning of Life was not grasped
From Boulder's The Daily Camera:
" . . . an investigation has been launched into allegations that [Air Force Academy] cadets used sexually offensive language while performing a skit at a pregraduation party."

The skit was lifted from Monty Python's movie, The Meaning of Life, wherein a public-school don describes the sex act to a class of inattentive boys. The party was a "dining in", closed to the public, where strong drink is present, formalities are observed, and humor is a tradition.

I submit that an Air Force officer will be faced with far more offensive things than sexually offensive language during the typical career. At the risk of romanticizing or hyperbole, I tell you they will be making decisions that send people to their deaths. One goal of all military training, including the service academies, is to toughen the skin for such harsh realities, so they can lead men and women wisely.

Apparently in this case the goal was not achieved for some of our cadets.


But Sweetheart . . .
Payback from wife to husband. The "sweetheart" referenced in the heading is my wife's way of addressing me when payback is en route. Thanks, Bigwig, have a cowslip.
Light reading
Just finished The Postman, am in the middle of And I Lived to Tell It All.
Good riddance
Just heard that John Magaw resigned from TSA. Had to search at Drudge to find a headline on Washington Post to confirm. There's a reason they announce these things on Fridays.



We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.

What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.

Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:

- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties

- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny

We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.

And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.

And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.
Poodle Shooting
Weird. Steven DenBeste posts about the marksmanship drilled into every Swiss male, and Coyote fields a question about poodle-shooters, while I'm working up a post on Committee of Safety muskets. It's coming, please be patient. I'm fact-checking my own ass.

You can study ahead: find the 12th edition of Small Arms of the World by Ezell, and read the chapter on Rifle Development Since World War II.
What's the difference between armed and heavily armed?
In at least one news story of the LAX shooting, the perpetrator Hesham Hedayat is held to be "heavily armed". Two sidearms and a knife? There's a reason they're called "sidearms."

In contrast, Chris Bray explains in a Reason article how the press poorly understands the military:
"U.S. infantry units of every type tend to be grouped in rifle companies of 200 . . . armed in part with machine guns and grenade launchers . . . The very thing that distinguishes the Rangers, if you’re inclined to be picky, is not that they are more heavily armed than other infantrymen, but rather that they are often less heavily armed . . . "
Emphasis mine.

So a force of 200, carrying company machine guns and grenade launchers (in addition to individual weapons such as carbines, sidearms, and yes, [shudder] knives) is lightly armed. But one man carrying two handguns and a knife is heavily armed.

To be fair, it is a question of context. Hedayat was carrying more armament than people usually do in LAX (whether that is true in comparison to the Los Angeles area as a whole, versus the airport, is another matter). He was probably carrying no more than the El Al security were---backup handguns are common, as are folding knifes, in that field.

The meaning of this term has been dulled to cliche by careless usage, much like hard-earned dollars, law-abiding citizen, or unarmed women and children. I humbly propose a moratorium. Just stop writing heavily armed when simply armed will do.


Filthy infidel, can you give us your bankcard PIN too?
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.

Since 1967, in the American armed forces, the Social Security number is the service number. One's "last four" is commonly used as a shorthand identifier when recording or speaking the entire number is impractical.

There is a world of difference between using your Social Security number as an identifier when attending university, or accessing your bank records on line, for example, and using this number as a master identifier in the armed services.

If you are captured or your body is recovered by the armed forces of an enemy, they automatically receive that magical short sequence of digits that are the keys to your medical records, tax records, investments, credit, mortgage, everything. People who want to hurt you have the most powerful, effective, and thorough means to do so.

Would an organization like Al-Qa'eda hesitate to take advantage of this information? Would they refuse to open lines of credit in a captured serviceman's name? Would they somehow find it below them to interrupt phone service or change the address of the family of a soldier they killed, or pay them a visit?

It's stamped on your service ID card. It's embossed in the aluminum of your dog tags. You stencil it on your duffel bag. It is recorded on every form that has anything to do with you.

All the more reason we must get rid of it.

The military routinely orders its members to memorize a mind-numbing litany of dates, places, names, sequences of alphanumeric characters, and symbols already. So the precedent exists to require an accessee to memorize a randomly assigned 9-digit number, stamp it on his uniforms, grid it into computer-scanned forms, and so forth. Then they can stop collecting and using the Social Security number. They will never ask for it again, and never print it again except for one spot on his pay stub, where he is told how much FICA has been bled from him the last two weeks. And the last-four would suffice there.

It will take months or years to remove one's Social Security number from the thousands of fields where it has been recorded. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, at least. Databases will have to be overhauled to wholesale-replace the number, and possibly to teach that software to accept alphas in addition to numerals as the new service number starts to propagate. All the more reason to get started right now.

There will be a modest cost saving, because all of the forms that collect the Social Security number today require proper storage and disposal. The new service number, because it is connected to the old one at only one point in the payroll system, doesn't carry the old number's potential for abuse.


I told them it's shite, but they continue to eat it
Dodgeblog opines:
"pop music in the UK has been utter shite for a considerable period of time. The top of the chart last week was a group clearly ripping off Elvis with a remix track. (Wonk alert: yes I know Elvis spent most of his career ripping off black musicians, but does that it make right, either?) "

Wait a minute. This just underscores the point that Lawrence Lessig maks, and Glenn Reynolds agrees with, that art is normally derivative, and necessarily so. The law is too harsh, and allows too much protection to the established music industry, because it enforces too much protection over artistic intellectual property---it protects too well against "ripping off" by other artists.

A derivative work can still be shite, and deserves to be dissed if it's shite. Don't diss it merely because it's derived or ripped off.
If derivation-as-art gets a little more respect, and legal protection, it will disrupt the cash flow to the record companies who market and distribute the shite, making room in the ecosystem for labels that make less shite---and more original music.
Just a minor reorganization
A new category of links has appeared on the left, to identify blogs by military folk.