Idea number 507

The TIS-1 man-portable military laser is an interesting concept: a reservoir of helium, heated by radioactive decay, releases its helium through a vortex tube into a resonant cavity. The vortex created by the flow of helium causes a population inversion among the helium atoms, which in turn stimulates the release of photons of a common wavelength. With enough helium atoms flowing, you get enough energy resonating in the cavity to emit through one end and damage something.

When the helium flow peters out, the laser shuts down. You have to cool and recompress the helium, then reheat it, to get another blast.

It has its limitations, in that your soldiers will be humping the ruck with compressed gas tanks full of dangerous alpha emitters, and sizeable radiators that will disclose their locations to thermal imagers. There might also be a tactically intolerable delay before a discharged weapon recharges for another blast.

Regular readers of WUTT! will recall that all things weapon-y are appreciated as Things of Beauty here, but sometimes we must consider gathering stones together instead of casting them away.

We also assert that our future is in space, and we have to develop economically feasible ways to explore, exploit, and populate it. Getting out of the atmosphere is one problem to solve, moving about efficiently among the planets is another. With capitalist solutions to the first problem within our grasp, let us turn our attention to the second. We need flight times to Mars and the Asteroid belt on the order of weeks rather than months. I am told the principal means to do that is to separate the problems of power production on the one hand, and generation of thrust on the other. You'll need less thrust if you use only enough to propel your payload, rather than propel your payload plus the power plant itself. Offload the power production and achieve economies of scale with it. Send that power to ships that need only enough to push the payload.

Take that same TIS-1 weapon to the Moon and beat it into a plowshare. Use ammonia or CO2 as the working gas instead of helium. Heat the working gas in solar collectors instead of using fissionable material; we'll need that stuff for future platforms farther away from sunlight.

Make the vortex tube very big, and make a few hundred of them. Mount them on pan-tilt heads slaved to an aiming system. Connect their exhausts to a large radiator to eliminate the remaining heat. The radiators could be located at the Moon's poles or mounted at the bottom of deep narrow trenches to minimize sunlight striking them.

Build the ships to be propelled not by the impingement of photons upon their sails, but by ion motors. The sails will carry large arrays of antennas to collect the microwaves from these lasers and convert them to electricity to power the ion motors.

With a large enough reservoir of masing gas, and a large enough network of radiators and compressors, it may be possible to aim multiple masers continuously at a flight of ships, providing them with constant thrust for days or even weeks, until they are out of range. It will also be possible to beam power to ships that are approaching, to help them decelerate as they reach their destination instead of relying on the nerve-wracking technique of aerobraking. The power to create the thrust will be completely unrelated to the direction of the thrust.

There are always details to be worked out. Will the ion propulsion exhaust reflect or diffract the incoming microwave beam to the extent that range or power is impaired? Will the flow of hundreds of tons of gas through the gasdynamic maser system set up vibrations that make aiming impossible, either for a Lunar platform or a Martian-orbiting one? Will the vortex tube or the cavity wear out? How much of this system can be built from Lunar materials, or will it all have to be boosted to orbit? Can this system be used to loft an X-prize type vehicle the rest of the way to orbit, or will even that thin upper atmosphere attenuate and spread the beam too much?

Update: The massive gasdynamic maser will also come in handy for dealing with these pesky Earth-crossing roids.


We can neither confirm nor deny . . .

. . . that we may now or in the future have received our Colorado CCW, in accordance with Colorado's Revised Statutes section 18-12-201 et seq.

If we have or are about to, it will have been or will be among the low three-hundreds of those issued this year in Douglas County. That puts the per-capita of CCWs for Douglas County rather low, a totally wild-assed guess of .4 percent of total population, as Blog O'Stuff has observed (Hat tip to Renaissance man James Rummel).

The duration of such a CCW permit is five years from date of issue. The application-to-approval process can have taken 60-plus days. The permit itself is prepared on the day that that the application is submitted, and the fingerprints and photograph taken, thus it is technically "issued" on that day, but the you the applicant cannot take possession of it until the approval grinds around and you get your phone call from the Sheriff's office inviting you to come pick it up.

So the useful "life" of the permit is five years minus about 60 days. I couldn't find anything about that in the relevant CRS so I won't cry foul. Note also that the hours when applications are accepted are rather circumscribed. But overall, DCSO does not screw with applicants.

Why the LP should abandon Presidential campaigns

The Quilt.

Hat tip to Jed at FreedomSight.


Toad repair

Toad, Barbaloot and I are holed up in Children's Hospital, getting Toad his palatoplasty and two tympanotomies. All went well, though Toad looks like he went through a round with Tyson, then a tequila hangover.

Much catching up to do. I have Days Off so it's worthwhile for all seven of my regular readers to start checking in again.


Tanned, rested and ready for Senate campaign?

New post on Social Security privatization over here.


Fish. Barrel. Bang.

Hip-hop is too target-rich an environment for Weird Al.


Quote for the day

Roughly $822 million was spent in support of President Bush in 2004, compared to $925 million spent on behalf of Sen. John Kerry.

So much for two of the fundamental lies behind campaign-finance reform. One, that McCain-Feingold, or any other piece of legislation, can "get money out of politics." Two, that "money rules." It turns out that sometimes, strangely enough, elections are decided by voters weighing the issues and making up their minds based on the candidates' positions.

Ryan Sager at Tech Central Station.
We at WUTT! have asserted the latter point for some time. Nice to be proved right in a big race that counts.

Though it certainly helps, money can't buy an election. It's necessary but not sufficient.


Addition to Wish List

One more thing I want to add to my Beggars-Would-Ride wishlist, of things that are achievable but not available for immediate purchase:

I want somebody to offer to recycle old, intermittent, half-lighting strings of Christmas lights. There's too much valuable copper in there for this sh1t to just get shlepped off to a landfill. We're about to ditch a few hundred feet of them because half of the light and they are virtually immune to troubleshooting.

The bulbs can be ground and melted into glass cullet to fill out concrete park benches. The plastic, well, it's probably as valuable as the copper, kilo for kilo, and it could make nice Tyvek envelopes for FedEx someday if it were recovered. The problem, as usual, is identifying what kind of plastic it is so it can be recycled effectively, even if in some cases recycling translates into removal of halogens prior to conversion to Number 2 Diesel fuel.

Here's your bumper sticker:

My Huge SUV burns otherwise-unusable recycled plastics


My new email signature block will read:

"This email message is certified free of slogans, quotes, special backgrounds, special stationeries, digital images, and unusual fonts, in accordance with Air Force Instruction 33-119, Air Force Messaging."

Somebody in the headshed must have objected when he saw a subordinate's email signature was neater-looking than his, and put his Corfam down hard.

Another proud tradition done in just like nose art. Bummer.

A guarantee to deploy

I can't leave this a draft forever. Rather than hack at it further, I release it to the wild.

When I enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1981, I was viewing it as a way to avoid the brewing Central Asian mess. President Carter had pulled the US out of the Olympics in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. I didn't want to go to war. Stupid long-haired me.

Since joining, I settled myself down and matured real fast, and reread the contract. I stayed in the Guard because I felt good about what I was doing, to the point that I wanted to deploy so I could prove my worth.

The first invasion of Iraq came and went, and I was not deployed. I completed 20 years of service and received my letter, allowing me to retire. I had time left on my contract, but small children in the house. I seriously contemplated retirement, but I was also unemployed as a civilian, and not dealing well with that fact. The Guard was the only income I had.

When the WTC and the Pentagon were attacked, that desire to deploy became more urgent, and was finally fulfilled. Just days after accepting a new position with a civilian employer, the phone call came---on my cell, as I was headed to Logan Airport from the job site. I was at Cheyenne the following morning, with bags packed.

* * * *

Phil Carter prompts me to post this as I read his post, "Not your Father's National Guard."
My father served in the Army Reserve during the early 1960s as a way to pay for college; it was then, and is now, an honorable way to serve. But you can't compare service then in the Guard with service now, because of the policy changes adopted by the military which made the National Guard an integral part of America's warfighting force.

The Total Force policy was fully in place when I enlisted. The unit that recruited me was a small truck-mobile radar unit that was Checkered-Flagged to Germany, later to Turkey. After Desert Storm, the whole concept of designating a deployment location in advance was scrapped and the Air Expeditionary Force concept took its place. I can be sent anywhere, and am more likely to go as a unit-type code---small teams to perform specific functions, such as fire-fighting, earthmoving, or in my case NBC defense. I'd deploy only with the swinging d1cks to my immediate left and right, as a team, flight or squadron, not as an entire wing.

Parted out like a junked car. One of the Air Guard's strengths, in my opinion, is that we have less churn, less turnover of personnel than our active duty counterparts. We know each other better, have trained together longer, and have turned that to our advantage. AEFs undermined that advantage by splitting us up and mixing us with other forces whose level of training is different. My criticism of AEF has softened somewhat, now that I've gone through it, because it achieves what it sought to do, to even the deployment burden across a career field.
On the Army side, the "parting out" is not as feasible. This means that entire units, built and equipped for a specific Army function such as air-defense artillery, would be repurposed for another function that was needed downrange more urgently, such as military police. I'm glad I didn't have to go through that.

But the AEF concept did make it more likely to deploy if one had a specialty that was needed down range, or that was in short supply in the first place. The more urgent the need, the more likely and frequent the deployment. The tradeoff is shorter and more fixed deployment durations: 90 days, now grown to 120, with a "hard" wall of 179 days at station at any one time without SECAF waiver. In contrast, Army rotations, Guard or active, start at 180 days.

I nearly ended up going to Afghanistan anyway, though 20 years later. I was within a few hundred km of it. And I will almost certainly deploy again.


F'ing disney world

F'ing disney world blogging wl be light


tech support question for Mac OS X geeks

My iRiver H120 no longer mounts on our G4 running Mac OS X 10.2.8. When I connect it to the Mac's USB, it beachballs for a while, then warns that the drive is unrecognizable and unable to mount, and would I like to format it?

Apple's support site mentions that a command might be missing from the hostconfig file, disabling it from automatically mounting removable drives. Yes, this command was missing (how did it get lost in the first place?), and now that's fixed and the player still doesn't mount.

In fact, I get that same "unrecognizable volume" warning days later, when I log back in. It's as if something is still asserting the presence of the player after it's been removed from the USB port. Even power-cycling doesn't remove the "ghost" player.

iRiver hasn't gotten back to me. Apple's vast support site has only one article on unrecognizable volumes and I've already doen what it advises. I now have to use Win2k to load up my player and frankly that sucks.

Any ideas? Zapping parameter RAM?


The ZSU23-4 had a partner

I don't think I mentioned the other vehicle that was parked beside the ZSU23-4.

It is amphibious (there were propeller housings and thrust diverters on the rear), it has six pneumatic tires, and a radar or two or more on top. It looked like the kind of vehicle that would travel with a pack of ZSU23-4's, to provide search radar and direct the fire of all of those 23mm cannon.

Here's a look at the front, with buddy Doug. I had to crank the brightness and contrast to compensate for bad hangar lighting.

Starboard side:

Can anybody put a name to this unit?

Test msg to wutt fm

Test msg to wutt fm mobile phone


G T squared

Boy is now bringing home the same kinds of notes that marked the beginning of Middlechild's saga.

After a brief consult with the teacher, we think he's also Gifted. He'll be harder to handle than Middlechild, though, because he's big and fast and immune to pain.

God have mercy on us all. At least we're catching this one early.

This should erase all doubt

All right, Gun Lobby, listen carefully. Libertarians have been explaining for years now that there are unmistakable similarities between the War on Drugs and the War on Guns. You discounted us as dope-smoking libertines.

And you drug law reformers, you didn't listen very well either to our pleas to find common cause with the gun lobby. You dismissed us as bigoted rednecks.

Publicola pointed me to Says Uncle, who links to this petition by the Justice Department to reverse a Ninth Circuit ruling regarding home assembly of a full-auto firearm.

The petition says, in effect, that if the Federal government can legislate against private ownership of a home-made full-auto, they can legislate against simple possession of marijuana. The Federal government's lawyers are claiming that it is irrelevant that either the parts of the gun, or the seeds of the marijuana, were not transferred through interstate commerce---they have the power to pass and enforce legislation against it. The petition mentions a medicinal marijuana case and asks the Supreme Court to make a connection between their firearm case and the marijuana case:
"A holding that Section 922(o) is unconstitutional as applied to the possession of “homemade” machineguns raises an important issue that may ultimately warrant review by this Court. Plenary review in this case, however,
would be premature at this time. On June 28, 2004, the Court granted certiorari in Ashcroft v. Raich,
No. 03-1454 (to be argued Nov. 29, 2004), which involves an analogous as-applied constitutional challenge
to the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq. Accordingly, the petition should be held pending this
Court’s decision in Raich and then disposed of as appropriate in light of that decision."

The Department of Justice agrees with us kooky libertarians that there is (at least one) limit to Federal power, that this one limit pertains equally to Federal firearm laws as well as to drug laws, and oh, by the way, they want to remove that limit.

I can see some relevance to the Betamax decision as well; more on that later.

They understand that these two issues are intertwined, that a Federal win on one will give them the framework for a win on the other.

Do you?


How's he on the Second?

Anybody have a feel for how Gonzales has ruled on RKBA issues? He served on the Texas Supreme Court, so he should have some sort of track record that indicates how he'd behave in this respect.

I admit that in some respects I was hopeful for Ashcroft, strictly on RKBA issues. He showed promise but didn't follow through.

I'd like to know whether Gonzales has similar inclinations on this topic. Being a friend of W doesn't bode well. But Napolitano on Fox seems to like him.


Cabinet reshuffle?

President Bush is considering adjustments to his cabinet?

Great! Start with booting Mineta.



Am offline for a while, but had a moment to post, with this question:

Who out here is good at identifying Soviet armored vehicles? I swear to God I was standing next to a ZSU23-4.

Update: Here are two frames.

Looks like mounts for 4 23mm cannon, with case ejection chutes and coolant lines, on the front of the rectangular turret.

Six roadwheels, evenly spaced except for the frontmost, no return rollers. Two reloading hatches on the side of the hull. See again the rectangular turret.

Yup. A ZSU23-4. Compare with photos and (French language) description here.


Quote for the day

For most of us, America wasn't our first choice as much as it was
our last chance.

Varifrank. HT to James Rummel.


Red-headed stepson of RMBR

For your enjoyment, a sampler of some of the best weblogging the Front Range has to offer. Please pardon any typos I failed to catch: I'm typing with 8-month-old Toad in my lap.

As to be expected, election season figures prominently among the submissions by Rocky Mountain bloggers in this Roundup:

  • White Dog draws our attention to Bill Whittle's two-part essay on the value of rhetorical skill vice the message, with respect to the Presidential election. Shall one vote for style, or for substance, given that between the two major-party candidates one cannot have both? Choose well.

  • Dave disputes Josh Claybourn, arguing that the Republic is healthier when more people vote, rather than fewer, more-informed people vote.

  • RMBR founder Walter In Denver argues from experience that the validity of our elections is at greater risk from inaccuracy than from fraud.

  • BigSkyDave challenges the good Senator Kerry on who constitutes a threat to US security. Or world peace. Whatever.


  • The Speculist offers a meta-roundup, headquartered in the Front Range but collecting contributions from faraway corners of the Republic. Raptors, privately-operated space flight, wickedfast computers, improved popcorn, and cancer-sniffing dogs.

  • Jed at FreedomSight reminisces about the quintessential banned-able book. I got my copy. I don't need it---I have it merely to remind myself that I can have it.

  • Publicola fisks an essay defending the Empire, even if it did make the trains run on time, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

  • Your host offers his proposal to deploy high-speed internet service everywhere. We'll have to destroy the internet to save it. Always a downside.

Stop the Presses! A late entrant petitions to be included. We are fair and evenhanded to a fault.

  • Bob at We The Free waxes Lettermanlike with Top Ten debating points. Though I dispute Bob's use of the term liberal . . .


I really don't deserve her

My wife lets me spend most of the day converting antelope into sausage or corned antelope, with the enthusiastic assistance of The Cabinet Man (thanks, TCM).

She and I discuss What Not To Wear as it would apply to her, in the abstract. She really is the kind of woman to whom I could say, "that makes you look fat," and live to not regret it.

Then I discover that she's a closet Farscape fan. I ask her to watch the library for Babylon 5 DVDs. She says "OK."

I am not worthy of her. I'll keep her just the same.


For the Children!

Little Green Footballs asks: Were there plans in the works for a Beslan-like massacre in San Diego?

It doesn't matter whether plans actually existed, or whether a threat was truly posed---they didn't, as the article to which LGF links clearly states. It does not matter. The mere discovery of materials discussing public school security, in the abstract, in the possession of a person engaged in armed conflict against Coalition forces in the Middle East, is enough to contemplate for the moment. It crossed their minds.

Incidentally, a few weeks ago I posted a prediction on this sort of thing happening at StrategyPage's prediction market, though I thought Europe a more likely place for it to occur.

I'm not a particularly bright or well-spoken or uniquely malicious person, and it crossed my mind.

Now take a deep breath and one looong step backward to see the bigger picture.

Public schools are not the only vulnerable public spaces in America. They represent a tiny fraction of them all. Add day care centers, nursing homes, and churches. Then add shopping malls. Then keep on adding.

We can't put armed guards and concertina wire around them all. We can't put automatically locked doors and ID card swipers at all the entrances to them.

My day job is on a military base. I know what it's like to work in facilities that protect themselves like that, 24/7. It is incredibly expensive, incredibly slow, and it brings out the worst in people who think they are smarter than you. I can work like that but I will not live like that, and I won't ask my neighbors or teach my kids to live like that either. Our economy cannot survive it and our national character will not tolerate it.

Still, the threat exists to my neighbors and my kids, even though the most evidence for that threat is a CD-ROM found in Iraq, burnt with a pdf pulled from an open web page. What measures we take to counter that threat must be consistent with the national character we have chosen for ourselves, and otherwise be within our reach.

My Googling skills are failing me in seeking one politician's exhortations that we must not change the way we live, but to change the way the other bastards live. We are indeed doing the latter, at great expense and sacrifice, but it will not be enough. In some way we will have to change how we live, but it will not be in the direction of C-wire and ID badges. These measures simply wrap defensive layers around what remains a vulnerability.

I would rather deny any adversary his ultimate goal, by erasing that vulnerability and giving up some or all of the layers of defense surrounding it. This will have to be a change in attitudes first, then laws second, but little or no money need be spent publicly to bring it about.

I assert this without apology. We will remain vulnerable as long as it is not commonplace for people in public to be armed, able to protect themselves and the innocent among them.

As I have argued in other spaces, the present conflict will not be over until our servicemen begin to bring home Persian wives. That represents the "change how the other bastards live" aspect of the solution.

But it is only half of the solution. The other half will be signaled by, for instance:

  • being able to buy targets at Target, and a brick of .22LR while you're at it;
  • turning on TLC to see Paige Davis or Bob Vila advise a young couple on renovating a rifle on This Old Mauser;
  • the high school yearbook photos show a larger trap shooting team than basketball team;
  • an adult showing anxiety around firearms will earn the same contempt we express today for a man who beats his wife, or the same pity we express to one who lacks the capacity to wipe one's own bottom.

Deny our philosophical enemies their ultimate goal by encouraging their victims to fight back. Celebrate the armed virtue.

The objection will be raised that we would be changing how we live. I concede that. But we would be changing toward a lifestyle of fewer fences and alarms and locked doors, fewer face-commparing cameras and identity badges, more economic prosperity, more confidence in oneself. We would be transferring our uncertainties to those who have taken advantage of our uncertainty.

Those who view human life through the lens of class should welcome the erasure of boundaries between the protected, protecting, and unprotected classes. Increasingly, this is the only stratification that matters, if we are to regard one another as equals before the law.

I do not present this as a complete solution, for no solution can be complete. It does not speak to concerns that jihadis will obtain a nuclear explosive, or smallpox, for example. But those contingencies are best addressed by military force over the course of weeks, months, and years.

The seizure of a school or a church by jihadis, on our own soil, which surely has been contemplated by our enemies, can be thwarted only in seconds, by the spontaneous and violent reaction of the people who were in that school or church at the moment it occurs.



Walter has graciously agreed to let me host the latest Rocky Mountain Blog Roundup.

Please send me a link to your best recent post---sorry, only one post per blogger---with a brief description of it and yourself. Deadline forthcoming.

Deadline 1700 hours Mountain, 10 October for publication on Columbus Day.


Quote for the day

The U.S. military---particularly at the level of NCOs, who are the guardians of its culture and traditions---is a world of beer, cigarettes, instant coffee, and chewing tobacco. It is composed of people who hunt, drive pickups, use profanity as an element of ordinary speech and yet have a simple, sure, demonstrative belief in the Almighty.

Robert Kaplan in Atlantic Monthly. Hat Tip to Lexington Green at ChicagoBoyz.


I gots ambition

If I learn enough Linux to be dangerous, I'll make my mark, and secure my retirement, by selling an intelligible, hotlinked replacement for the MAN pages.


The New Orleans of the Atlantic

The Real Sam Johnson Show reminds me: Savannah, Georgia impresses me as the New Orleans of the Atlantic. And how the Atlantic needs one.

I'll be going there again soon.

The Fusilier Pundit Plan to Deploy Ubiquitous High-Speed Internet Bandwidth

Executive Summary: outlaw the Internet.

Abstract: the fastest way to ensure that high-speed wireless Internet connectivity is deployed to every possible inhabited place in the United States is to chase it into the shadows through the power of US law. The author draws parallels between the the War on Drugs, the War on Guns, and alcohol Prohibition on the one hand, and the availability of high-speed wireless Internet connections on the other.

Making alcohol, abuse drugs, and certain types of firearms illegal encouraged criminal entrepreneurs to ramp up supply to meet suppressed demand. In fact, milieus presumably under total control by government, such as prisons, are incapable of eradicating such "contraband."

A comparable approach, resulting from heavy lobbying by industries who perceive threats to their business model from digital reproducibility of their content, would incentivize a cottage industry of hackers and geeks to circumvent these legal controls, thereby making bandwidth more available, more reliable, more anonymous, and more resilient to malicious code attacks.

The fundamental problem facing developers an underground ubiquitous IP infrastructure are political and economic, not technical. To date there has been no incentive to develop or deploy such an infrastructure because there has been no pressure to do so.

However, if the entertainment industry succeeds in enacting laws that will mandate the inclusion of digital rights management in the existing IP network, for example, there will be ample incentive for industries or activities to move their IP-dependent applications to a network that does not obey those laws. The technology exists, or the precursors to that technology exist, and only await the incentive to be assembled and applied. The demand, today legitimate and above board, will be forced underground. An active community of politicized engineers and technologists already exists to serve them.

The greatest technological obstacle would be replacement of the long-haul high-speed connections provided by such carriers as Level3, Qwest, and Worldcom.

For more, beg and plead for it in Comments.


Not quite there yet

I'm waiting for the market to roll out a PDA/computer hybrid:
  • It would operate as a PDA when it's pulled from its cradle and jammed into my pocket,
  • It can connect to WiFi hotspots and provide a full-featured browser on a low-res monitor in the PDA mode;
  • When it's resting in its cradle, it does not sync with another computer, it reboots as one, and simply interfaces with input devices, peripherals, a high-speed IP connection, etc through the cradle.

For respectable desktop performance, it would farm out the functions of full-power CPU, graphics processor, and vast amounts of memory to the cradle, and run from on-board equivalents only when portable. Separate OSs?

It seems that all of the components are there, only waiting for integration.

At least one company is pursuing it, I don't recall the name (OXO?), but they are, of course, basing theirs on Windows.

Who else is close? One of the reasons I went for the iRiver MP3 player is that it could be the progenitor of such a desktop/PDA killer. It is principally, by weight at least, a hard drive. The desktop/PDA killer will be, mostly, a hard drive, with enough application hardware and an OS wrapped around it to support PDA functions, using information written to that drive. Putting a Palm front-end on this drive will do that, if Palm can be made to access hard drives. The whole Palm front-end can go inert when the device is docked.

When the killer is booted in its cradle, the CPU there strokes the hard drive and accesses everything that the Palm OS has put there.

Other devices will be coming towards the killer from other directions. For example, Tapwave's Zodiac is a game console. Put a HD in it?

WTF for the day

At the Commissary, right up front near the entrance, there was a rack of the current generation of MREs for sale. For about $7, IIRC, marked down from the usual $9.

There's nothing wrong with them, I've lived on them and was able to transition back to real food successfully afterward. Some of them I even like---the pork rib, for example, and the clam chowder.

But I wouldn't actually buy them. Through the normal course of my service, I accumulate enough of them for my other needs, like the car trunk and the occasional hunting trip, even the overnight bag if I'm on a weird commercial airline flight. But somebody out there thinks they're great long-term survival food and they want to buy and hold them against Doomsday? Not at seven bucks a meal.

The real punchline, though: they're for sale, to any qualified Commissary customer, though every package is marked in Uncle Sugar's standard all-caps boldface,

Hey, I just work here.


Bee in My Bonnet

Hello all! Well, just like jumping into a cold pool is best done all at once and quickly... here goes my dive into blogging!

I usually listen to Christian radio while on the job as Mom the Chauffeur. Last week for some reason I tuned into conservative talk radio. Dennis Prager (http://www.dennisprager.com/) was interviewing a gentleman about Liberals - why they act as they do and why they won't change. Maybe this is old news to you, but for me it finally lit a light bulb. The point being made was that for Liberals equality was the overriding priority. Equality is more important to Liberals than morality or freedom or responsibility or anything else. It is their overriding concern.

I asked myself how the world would look though equality colored glasses.

One example: parents versus children. For there to be equality children need to have the same power as parents. And so we have children suing parents and parents afraid to discipline their children when they misbehave in public. Children are smart enough to use their parents hesitation to their own advantage. Parents are responsible for forming morality and decision making in their children and discipline is one of the tools. Oh, but I forgot. That would only be important if morality and decision making had a higher priority than equality.

And what about jobs? In my lifetime I have already seem equality erode job standards. When women wanted to become firemen, they had to lower the standards so the women could qualify for the positions. Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for women being firemen. I think it's great. But I also think they need to meet the same standards as the men for our safety and theirs! Those standards were not plucked out of thin air. If you want the job then work for it and EARN it!

Life is not supposed to be fair and I'd Like to know who started the rumor that it was!


More speedgoat

At 1320 hours Mountain, I felled a pronghorn on Foote Creek Rim, west of McFadden, Wyoming.

This is what leave is for.

Update: The buck fell at 13TDS0365819982. Range was 207 meters, through a light crosswind, with the same 139-grain .284" pointed-soft-point thrown by 50 grains of IMR4350 from the same 7x57mm Ruger as last year. He fell instantly, then after about twenty seconds he got back up. Then he fell again for good.

He was struck through the sternum. The projo was not recovered.

Next time:
  • a laser rangefinder is on order, using miles left over from an old credit card, not enough for a ticket but plenty for this gadget.
  • need to carry a safety-orange object just to mark the place where I took the shot. Having nothing this time, I just stacked some rocks. Not easy to find after dressing the animal.



Make way for another poster

Barbaloot amazes me. She texted me last week: "I want you to help me set up my own blog."

She's been listening to Dennis Prager, some Hugh Hewitt, some Glenn Beck. Her dander is up, dogs. She's gonna do something rash unless she gets to post.

FWIW, she's been following the story of how Dan Rather is imploding, and she now "gets" what web logs can do. She looks at my blogs differently now; she no longer regards the time I spend at them the same way she views playing Harry Potter or Diablo. Blogs have crossed the line from interesting geeky diversion to, well, something deeper, more important, engaged with the world. Those who dismiss arguments that blogging has had its watershed in RatherGate should interview Barbaloot about it.

We discussed it some, and she chose to post here for a while, taking the pseudonym I have always used for her. If she wants, we'll launch her on her own blog later.

I'm hunting antelope this weekend, and plan to have her set up before I go, so watch this space.

Did I mention that she's the best thing that ever happened to me, and that I don't deserve her? And that if she finds out I got that MP3 player she'll kick my ass?

Buy only the amount of electronics you must have to survive to your next paycheck

Consumer electronics prices continue a weird downward spiral. I posted recently about my beloved iRiver iHP120. I scored an open-box special from BestBuy at just under $300---new ones went for $339. When I was choosing a new LeapPad book for Boy's birthday, I glanced at the MP3 players again and got one of the nastiest buyer's remorses of my life.

They had put their existing stocks of iHP120's on clearance for $269. Making room for the 40GB model? Maybe. Or maybe they're making way for a player with a screen that shows JPEGs and BMPs too. Same MSRP as the audio-only player.

That remorseful incident was last Friday. Today, browsing at a CompUSA, I saw they still had their iHP120's at $329.


Toad tries to stand

He's cutting a tooth, and he wants to stand like his brother and sisters do.


More men than women have failed to reproduce in each generation.

This item from FuturePundit is not news, it's merely repeatable objective proof of something geeky men have always known:
"There are men around who aren't able to have children, because they are being outcompeted by more successful males."

Any bearer of a Y chromosome who's seen Roxanne can tell you this, though in less charitable terms: "You wanted it all. All the romance and emotion, all wrapped up in a cute little nose and a cute little ass!"

[FuturePundit's] guess is that the legalization and increasing use of divorce has increased the gap between what percentage of women and what percentage of men manage to reproduce in each generation.

Think of the thousand Princes in Sa'udi Arabia, and how they came to be. Then think of the millions of poor schmucks in such countries, who will never get laid in their lives, let alone sire children, because of a paternal religious/political system that treats women as property and allows men to hoard them under polygamy. Liberalized divorce simply means shifting the balance of power over procreation from man toward woman. Clearly, having all of the power rest with the man has not been beneficial there.

A shortage of females will very likely select for genes carried by males who become more successful.
Check out the quote from Roxanne above. Shifting the balance completely over to the woman will result in attractive, hunky guys who know how to talk women out of their clothes. Is that how brutal Mother Nature would define success?


I don't deserve her

Barbaloot and I celebrated eleven years of marriage this weekend. I chose Moroccan, and suggested to her to invite Firstborn. Like a shot Firstborn agreed.

I am lucky to have this woman. I don't deserve her, but she's mine.



Tasteful, but some are not safe for work. A picture a day of Wanda. HT Instapundit.


Add one more industry, Laila

We would also like WUTT! to be recognized for our opinions on Film and Television. To wit:

Which supporting actor do you think most deserves a lead role in a major Hollywood motion picture?
It's time for the Baldwins, Travolta, Cruise and the others to step aside and let some sunlight reach through the canopy of this knotted forest. These people deserve Star Vehicles.

Winner: !

Runner-up: !!

Actress: !

Please offer yours in Comments.


Ownership society

If a company finds that a particular property has become a liability to the point it affects the company's stock price, it can spin the property off.

Chaz reminds me of a grassroots plan to buy a major anti-gun broadcast network and assign proxy to the fire-breathing gun lobbyist Neal Knox. He'd take the network in a new editorial direction.

The plan looks more feasible today than it did when it was floated years ago. The network? CBS.

I advise holding out a while longer. If VIA goes below 30?

Yes we do, but . . .

Orin Kerr asks at VC, regarding RatherGate: C'mon, folks: don't we have more important things to blog about?

Remember why we Americans in general and bloggers in particular are obsessed with media dishonesty and inaccuracy. That election over which Orin expresses concern cannot be expected to conclude fairly or peacefully if a major media outlet is carelessly reporting a fraud passed to them. The power of the media in political affairs is a given. The responsibility that
the media have in these affairs is unenforceable.

As far as I am concerned there is prima facie that the memos are frauds. Consequently the network that relies on these memos should answer challenges to their validity, and challenges to their fairness in other reporting about the memos' subject as well.

If true, their errors need to be detected and corrected, and I'd rather have bloggers doing it than Congress or the courts.

If false---if the influence of the network media is diminshing, and that of decentralized media is increasing---media consumers are making it so, and should articulate why.

Either way, I don't see this as a matter distracting the body politic from the truly salient issues of a presidential election. I see this as a message to the body politic to be aware of the curvature of the lens through which they view the election, and to either correct that lens or discard it if they feel it cannot be trusted.

The only way to do that, within Constitutional constraints, is to point out the distortions, in painful detail, over and over and over, right now. It will not interfere with discussion of genuine campaign issues, it can only help.


Haven't seen any yet

I was hoping to see some Kalashnikovs in the streets---Sarah Brady said so---but none have surfaced just yet. At least on my usual route along Mississippi, Chambers, and Parker Road, and if there are any in Aurora or Parker, that's where the little bastards would be. Right on the sidewalks. Were they supposed to be falling from the sky?

To anybody reading, if you do see one and don't really want it for yourself, hold it for me, would you?

Maybe I have to wait until after midnight tonight. Tomorrow's another day.

Time for some nomenclature, OK class?

Alphecca rates the Manchester Union-Leader highly in its politically balanced approach to reporting on firearms issues. However, their editor needs some schooling:

About the only material difference New Hampshire gun enthusiasts are likely to see after the federal assault weapons ban expires tomorrow are lower prices for high-capacity gun cartridges that hold more than 10 bullets, gun owners and dealers said.

The thingy that that is projected from the gun, travels to the target and hits it is a bullet. In shotguns, specially built to throw multiple projectiles in a single discharge, the many projectiles are called pellets of shot.

The device that contains the projectile along with a measured quantity of propellant is the cartridge. A shotgun cartridge is called a shotshell.

In a self-loading firearm, such as that class of self-loaders that is now legal to manufacture and market with military cosmetic features, the device that holds and feeds cartridges into the firearm is a magazine. A common misnomer for magazine is clip, which actually refers to a device used to stack cartridges together for insertion into the magazine.

So what the sentence should have said is:
About the only material difference New Hampshire gun enthusiasts are likely to see after the federal assault weapons ban expires tomorrow are lower prices for high-capacity gun magazinesthat hold more than 10 cartridges , gun owners and dealers said.

The editor surely did not mean to refer to the Salvo project, which sought to fit multiple bullets in a single cartridge. This was not a shotgun, in that the cartridge contained a number of simple spherical pellets of lead that are thrown from a smooth barrel in a spreading pattern, but an axial stack of bullets, each fitting the bore of a rifled barrel and taking spin from it.

But I digress. If the press wants to be taken seriously, they need to get even the simplest facts straight, even if didactodorks like me can still figure out what they are trying to say.


"There will be a next move. Count on it."

In reference to the forged Bush TXANG memos, Sandy at comments at ChicagoBoyz that "we're going to see attempts to bring the blogosphere/net under gov't. control."

Could gigital rights management could be applied to this task somehow?

Oh and remind me again how the current McCain-Feingold-reformed situation is better, wherein Big News has a free hand to report on candidates, but certain other entities have legal limits imposed on their political speech within X days of the election.

Red sails in the sunset . . . .

I like Geek's postcard to DiFi.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead. The 1994 AWB sunsets.

Oddly enough, as I've shopped for these dreaded weapons during these ten years, prices spiked on the pre-ban weapons early, but the free(er) market reacted. Rule-beating weapons (no flash hider or bayonet lug, some domestic parts) otherwise identical to the banned weapons appeared promptly and prices quickly settled down, even to levels below those for the pre-bans.

Without realizing it, the proponents of the AWB energized a domestic industry in weapons that used to be strictly imports. Of course they didn't anticipate this unintended consequence. Will they learn from it?

So what will happen to prices? Up, or down? Supply increased during the ban, as companies set themselves up to manufacture domestically what the AWB would not allow them to import, and that capacity isn't going away. It was more affordable for me to get an FAL during the ban than before it. With the AWB sunsetting, some products will be legitimate to import again, so overall supply increases.

On the other side of the price curve, will demand increase simply because a law changes?

My prognostication: many people who get their news from the major press have assumed that these weapons have been unavailable for the last ten years, and now that the ban is over, they'll buy. Prices will spike, but this time the domestic manufacturing capacity will ramp up to absorb it faster than when the ban was imposed (easier to add a shift to machines already tooled up, than to set the tooling up in the first place). Prices won't spike as high and will fall sooner for end items.

Meanwhile, owners of post-ban guns will want to refit theirs with post-post-ban features. Many of these are bolt-on, such as stocks and bayonets. That capacity is there, in fact the products themselves are, since they were removed from complete weapons or parts kits to make post-ban weapons in the first place, as well as third-party firms making domestic parts for rule-beaters.


What separates the clueless con-man from the professional

Note to those who aspire to professional con-man status:

If you're going to hack together a smoking-gun memo backdated before about 1990, use the Courier font. It probably monospaces and it does not kern or ligate.

Ligate, you ask? Quick and dirty: typesetting allows the joining of an "f" and an "i" for example. Another thing typewriters can't do. I don't have the time to scan all of the subject forgeries for ligatures (I have a day job, dammit) but it's another thing to look for, y'all.

Further: Hugh Hewitt's drive-time show last Friday night reminded me of what the cost was, to Michael Gartner, when the NBC fraud of exploding gas tanks in pickup trucks was discovered. Mr Gartner had to find a new job---not in internet time, of course, but the internet didn't move as fast then as it does now. The 48-hour estimate from Instapundit reader John Steele sounds sluggish in comparison.


What we celebrate defines us

In my mailbox this morning:
CES is tasked with 5 personnel for
Saturday's Patriot Day Observance.

Somebody has taken to calling 11 September Patriot Day. This is wrong, folks. "Patriot Day" or "Patriot's Day" is taken. It's 19 April.

Y'know, shot heard 'round the world and all that? Battle of Lexington and Concord, Paul Revere's midnight ride? Or maybe that has become politically incorrect, and now we are directed to celebrate victimhood, to commemorate the times we get struck, instead of celebrating a moment when we fought back.


Quick hits

I'm not done exercising, by a long way. Next week will be hell, but I'll sleep in my own bed. I can see the cardboard sign: "Will do ATP-45(b) plots and VLSTRACK 3.1 fans for food."

Toad has a date for surgery, to knit the roof of his mouth together. He can propel himself toward the cat food bowl.

Mlle Sklodovska is making progress with physical therapy to improve her balance and posture. But she's not getting what she needs in the G&T department. Barbaloot checked out some books on how we need to handle her, and I'm reading the best she found.

Boy is calming down a bit, but Mlle Sklodovska's occupational therapist suggests we'll be sending him to her too.

Firstborn is, as Professor Henry Jones puts it, "becoming interesting."

Several friends from my days in the cable industry have surfaced again, wondering what I've been up to. I tell them I'm staying out. This is probably permanent. The package is going in for 179 days for next fiscal year, and Prairie AFB is asking me to transfer to AF Reserve and serve them as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee. As long as it remains more of a challenge than drudgery.


I'm in love I'm in love I'm in love with a . . .

The market is way ahead of me, or perhaps I'm waaay behind it. Since I no longer subscribe to Shotgun News, I wouldn't have known that a domestic manufacturer is assembling Galil clones. TCM and I took a road trip to an out-of-the-way dealer who had a V73-110 in the rack. Love at first sight, but love that must remain unfulfilled until I win either the race for the US Senate, or the Powerball.

Vulcan must chamber one in 6.5mm Grendel.

Things they need to add to MREs

Single-serving packets of Nutella.

Instead of the pitiful little index-card-sized alcohol towelette, how about a full-sized baby wipe?

Please add your own.


Quote for the day

Richard Posner guesting at Lessig Blog:

And of course once we decide that the way to prevent terrorism is to change our way of life, we create new incentives for people who want us to change our way of life to resort to terrorism.

I used to think, like many Libertarians, that if America behaved differently in the rest of the world, we would inspire no animus against us.

I thought that, in one version or another, with one or more qualifications, right up until shortly after I began this weblog.

No more.


Blogging will be light

Another TDY, this one to 17TWG territory on MGRS grid. Back next week.

Quote for the day

. . . in my mind, there was no failure, OK? I knew exactly upon 9/11 that there would be smoking memoranda found within weeks and that there would be somebody within the intelligence community who had been screaming their head off in the days and weeks and months up to that point.

Thomas P.M. Barnett, in interview by Brian Lamb of C-SPAN, airdate 30 May 2004. Transcript here.


I'll bite

At the request of Backcountry Conservative:

Fûz, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, 1981 to 1999; Wyoming Air National Guard 1999 to 2001; US Air Force October 2001 to present. Non-commissioned officer, NBC Defense.

Quote for the day

Can the people who destroyed the Alien franchise be trusted with the [Alien versus Predator] concept?

In a word: no.

Pool of Thought

I'm tired from wearing MOPP gear for the last two days, I've been drinking, I'm on a 33k6 connection, and I'm tired, but this fact shines through: this guy is good.


Product review as it were

Uncle Sugar owed me a few $$$ since my last TDY and I've been lusting in my heart for a hard-drive based MP3 player for some time. It was fate---kismet . . . .

The iRiver IHP120 was available at a nearby Best Buy (Aurora at Mississippi and Abilene), and the good Geek behind the counter saw me salivating over the display model and discreetly told me of an open-box special. The previous owner had graciously charged it up for me and left me with a few audio files of him muttering "hudda budda" into the microphone for many seconds, and depreciated ten percent from their list price. Done deal.

Now that I've figured out how to get this device to shuffle-play among multiple albums, I can fall asleep to more than one artist. The device has both line-in and microphone inputs (microphone included) so I can import files or record in analog from all of the valuable vinyl albums I still have. I would have bought the iPod but the iRiver has encoding on-board and supports all audio formats I know of so far.

The drawbacks arise from the user interface. I have used only the Rio R30S before this so I am not the conclusive expert on MP3 player user interfaces, but maybe the clumsy user interface is the reason the previous owner turned this thing back in and I got the open-box discount.

So badly Palm needs to license their OS and interface to these devices.

Overall 3 out of five stars, 4-plus of 5 for value for the money, 1 of 5 for user interface, 4 of 5 for feature-to-weight ratio. It's scarcely more discommodating than the 64MB Rio.

For a ride on a C-130, you need noise-cancelling headphones. I'll be using the IHP120 as a USB hard drive too, loading it up with NIMA map files (CADRG, DTED, ArcView).

Warning: read the fscking manual on how to load it with music and navigate the drive. Before you plug it in, I mean.

somebody bought me 2 martinis

so I'll be somewhat stream-of-consciousness. It's definitely autumn in southern Wisconsin, I smell of tobacco, and, well, there were those Tanqueray martinis.

Am preparing a product review of the iRiver IHP120 MP3 player-aka-20GB USB hard drive. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine, with whom I've been out of contact, has been on my mind because his last contact with me was one of those questions about "what is in your CD player RIGHT NOW?" and the answer is, well, a bit of everything I've loaded into the new gizmodified MP3 player so far.

That would be Reverend Horton Heat's Space Heater, two NIN's, two Devo's, an Acoustic Alchemy, a Billy Idol, a Fountains of Wayne, and so forth.

The good friend was my Best Man at my wedding. Since then, his marriage has gone south and he's not sure what to do. Please send him love.

I'm embarking on a change, though one not as heavy with consequence as his. I'm saying goodbye to a Wing full of people I've served well and proudly for five years plus; he's losing a wife. No comparison.

So answer me these questions three:

  • what music are you hearing now?
  • choose the name of the best friend you have now, excepting people you've married or people of your own blood. What is that person's first name?
  • who's the last person you've said "goodbye" to?
  • is that "goodbye" for the better or for the worse?

Post 'em in the comments. It's a Friday night. Or a Saturday morning. Whatever.


OPSEC observed here

I've been observing OPSEC at WUTT! since before the beginning. I think I've adhered to the rules as set down here, and continue to do so, because I might yet go back downrange.

Tip of the K-pot to Lt Smash:

1. Don't violate OPSEC. Never name your unit, be vague about your location and mission, and don't use anyone's real name.

2. Be careful what you say about your seniors. Don't write anything about a superior in your blog that you wouldn't want that person to read back to you.

which would it be?

If you could instantly acquire skill in one but only one musical instrument,
which would it be?


Forgive me Father . . .

. . . for it has been months without number since I've plugged the Carnival of the Vanities. Hosted at Smallest Minority. Please visit.


Another quote for the day

there is no evidence that plentiful networked information can replace killing power and inherent survivability, especially in close combat. Timely and useful information is critical, but it cannot substitute for firepower, mobility and armored protection.

Colonel Douglas Macgregor, PhD, USA (ret.), testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on July 15, 2004. Hat tip: LANDPOWERTRANSFORMATION@yahoogroups.com, August 2004

Quote for the day

Having the the FCC and Congress as foster-parents is at best like being a child-star and at worst like being raised by alcoholics. Either way, stunted growth is a likely outcome.

Tim Wu regarding the regulation of VoIP in its infancy. HT: BoingBoing

Just one more flavor of Kool-Aid to drink

WUTT! today officially endorses the FairTax.

We have in the past proposed many schemes that amount to tinkering with the income tax code. Guilty as charged---with half my tongue firmly in cheek and the other half counting on the building popular exasperation with the complexity and the social engineering aspects of the tax code, which
would eventually spill over into support of some other method of taxation.

From time to time I have doubted that the exasperation would build to the point that the taxed masses would seek redress or revolt, indeed that it was building at all. Such doubts are more pertinent in time of armed conflict.

We will still (flippantly at times) propose income-tax tinkering in these pages, if only to point out how divisive our current system can be, and how serious I am about throwing it aside.

Drink the Kool-Aid, noble Readers.


XM8 on FoxNews

FoxNews Channel just showed off the XM8 and a glimpse of the M307.

Is this the beginning of a press build for seeking funding?


AWB sunset countdown continues

"It's an uphill battle," Sarah Brady, one of the nation's leading gun-
control advocates, said in a telephone interview last week. "Our
streets are going to be filled with AK-47s and Uzis" unless Congress
extends the ban, she said.

So if I see a Bulgarian AK just laying there in the street on the 14th, I can just keep it?

Cool. I'll pass on the Uzi.

My salad days

I was clearing out a 22-gallon Rubbermaid tub in my crawlspace last night, weeding out old documents for which I had no use, and stacking the ones with social security numbers and such for the shredder. I came upon a few folders full of material from my monkey-wrenching days, if you will, when the American Civil Liberties Union pissed me off.

I had just subscribed. The first newsletter they sent me cited all of the wonderful work they did to protect civil liberties, with a page dedicated to each of the Amendments of the Bill of Rights that they worked to protect. The Second and Third were absent. I wrote them asking why, and they replied with their policy as it stood at the time.

This was about the same time that the ACLU's president spoke to a gathering of Libertarians (it might have been a national LP convention, I don't recall) and someone from the audience asked why their policy on RKBA matters was so, uh, wrong. She offered to seek a reexamination of the policy; the audience reacted very favorably.

I kept writing, asking if the policy would be reexamined, and I invited a few of my friends, namely, GOA, CCRKBA, JPFO, and most of the Usenet, to write or call with their support of the notion.

This is no hoax, it's the genuine article. I have a few others like it. The "burdensome flow of communications" effectively shut their offices down for a few weeks until they could sort through it. It was not my goal to shut them down, rather to encourage them to at least reexamine the conventional wisdom and not fear the prospect of an unpopular stand.

I was a younger man, more naive about how hypocrisy and cynicism can survive and even flourish in an organization dedicated to lofty goals (note well: not Ms Strossen I'm talking about here, but the organization she presided). Perhaps I've gained some wisdom and realism along with 20 pounds of body mass since then. And perhaps the ACLU has learned something---they and the Gun Lobby have worked together, on issues affecting conventionally-understood civil rights as well as RKBA, though gun rights definitely remain "not their bag."

But ACLU will have to contribute many thousands of lawyers' hours on some cases they wouldn't have touched in 1991 before I'll spend another dime on them. They know this clearly.

Oh by the way, did they ever change their national policy number 47? Apparently not.


Quote for the day

I also saw the classic [bumpersticker] If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. I don't think education is expensive. Education is a bargain, and an excellent investment. What I object to is the cost of schooling.

triticale, the wheat-rye guy

Clearly, what the folks who wrote that bumpersticker meant to say was that people should not complain about how much education costs or take action to reduce it. Their livelihood depends on an assumption that schools must be expensive to be any good; the more expensive, in fact, the better. The average bloke who shops around for education for his kids will make a horrible mess of them. Leave this matter to Us, citizen.

For inexpensive, and probably superior education, one must, however, buy that education from somebody other than the folks who wrote that bumpersticker aphorism.


Schaeffer versus Coors?

In the primary contest for the Republican nomination for US Senate, to replace Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell: as far as RKBA goes, Schaeffer looks better and is better known, Coors seems too much Owens's buddy for me to trust him on this.

But Schaeffer is beginning to really piss me off with attacks on Coors about reducing the drinking age. This line of attack reeks of Nanny-Statism, and it's out of character for a conservative, neo- or otherwise. I see the same freedom-dynamic behind both RKBA and right to booze. If Schaeffer's support for RKBA is not moored to a deeper philosophy of freedom, one that also sees a right to be stupid with liquor for example, that support can be knocked loose and he'd be no better at protecting RKBA than Bob Dole under pressure or if faced with a hard choice.

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

Why no discussion of the contenders for the Democrat Party's nomination? Well, what about them?

BTW, I'm aware of no Libertarian candidate at all. My copy of the LPCO newsletter did not mention one. If that spot's still open, well . . .


This is my yard

And it's covered in hail. My neighbor photographed it and sent it to a local TV station.


The old joke goes something like, "I got a snowmobile for my wife . . . "

Along the same lines, Roderick Long at Liberty and Power thinks he heard that Bill O'Reilly would be willing to hand himself over for decapitation if the holdouts in Fallujah surrender.

The punchline to both the joke and the O'Reilly story is: "Good trade."

Hat tip: Roderick Long at Liberty and Power.

Quote for the day

I've never understood why recrimination is considered pointless.

Sheldon Richman at Future of Freedom Foundation, speaking about blue-ribbon commissions in general and the 9/11 Commission report in particular. Hat tip to David Beito at Liberty and Power.


More on the tigerstripes

Prairie AFB received a visit from the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force last week. All of us enlisted folk assembled in the gym to hear him. He's a talented speaker.

His last topic, after rotation lengths, force shaping, and pay and benefits, was the proposed new tiger stripe utility uniform. The CMSAF asked us our general opinion of the uniform, pros first and cons second. By an unscientific measure, the volume of the huahs, it appears that the tiger stripes are not only disliked, they're intensely disliked.

CMSAF went on with his pitch, though, as a seasoned senior NCO must. One point he raised was that the current BDUs cost too much over their lifecycles. Because we are expected to press and starch them, they are useless in real combat and they wear out prematurely. The new uniform will save Airmen and the Air Force money over the long run because we'll be putting less effort into maintaining them, and the AF will be replacing them less often (i.e. they can reduce uniform allowances?).

Hell, I could fix that problem in ten seconds.

  1. All USAF activities will immediately read and heed the care label affixed to the Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Camouflage Uniform.
  2. Specifically, all USAF activities will suspend the application of starch, sizing, or other fabric treatment not specifically authorized by the fabric care label affixed to the Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Camouflage Uniform. Pressing with a cool iron will be the only authorized and compliant method of maintaining the professional appearance of these uniforms.
  3. Further, all USAF activities will cease to direct, require, or recommend Airmen to apply starch or sizing to BDU and DCU. Orders to the contrary shall be considered unlawful.
  4. Any activities or functions which require Airmen to appear in creased or starched uniforms will direct Airmen to appear in blue uniforms appropriate to the weather and occasion. Commanders will weigh the need for professional appearance of their Airmen against the demands of the mission, and set the uniform accordingly.
  5. All Airmen are reminded that the BDU and DCU are combat utility uniforms, intended for harsh service in possible contact with the enemy. As such they are a weapon system, whose use and maintenance is as critical as those for an aircraft, munition, or C2 system. Misuse and premature wear due to unauthorized maintenance practices will not be tolerated.
  6. Commanders will use open-ranks inspections and surveillance with thermal imaging devices to ensure compliance. Inspectors General will note this aspect of uniform maintenance and appearance as a special interest item (SII).

All I'd need is CSAF's signature.

Welcome to readers from Seewhatyoushare

A seismic spike in WUTT's hit counter, attributable to readers coming here from the blogroll at Seewhatyoushare, a blog about the stuff that people don't know they are passing on peer-to-peer networks.

Welcome, and come back often.

The Cabinet Man Gets a Visit from the Friendly Local Constabulary

(What song is playing? “Good Things”, Sleater-Kinney)

Background: I shoot a lot. Nearly every weekend I'm at the range. My favorite weapons are my .308 MBRs and my various 7.62x39 semi-autos. Whenever I can get some ammo for these things at a good price, I'm quick to “buy in bulk”. I usually buy at gun shows, being careful to shop around and get the best prices. Anything gun-related in Maryland is expensive so I do my research and make sure I'm getting a better price than I can get at My Favorite Gun Shop.

One of the bargains out there right now is the imported 7.62x51 NATO ball ammo from Australia. It shoots very nicely in all my MBRs and I have a favorite gun-show vendor that gives me a break on anything I buy from them because (1) I'm a good customer (I buy a lot!!), (2) I'm reliable (I buy everything I ask them to bring down for me), and (3) I'm just plain handsome!! There was a gun show in Northern Virginia today and I phoned in my order after agreeing upon a great price on four cases (3200 rounds) of Aussie surplus. I cruised the show, borrowed their hand truck and loaded my trusty F350 with my prize.

When I got home – about 4:00 PM – I grabbed my four-wheeled dolly cart and stacked all four cases onto it, sparing my back and biceps. I wheeled the 250 pound load into my apartment and found a spot amongst the packing clutter to store it until I move back to CO in three weeks. I exited the apartment to tend to a flat tire I got this afternoon and I was running around outside investigating its failure. After finding a broken valve stem, I threw the tire into the back of the truck and headed back inside. Just as I entered the breezeway, I noticed a Montgomery County police car cruise past my truck and give it – and me – a long glance. I paid it little attention and went about my business.

Once inside, I glanced out the window and noticed that the patrolman was circling my truck and talking on his radio. Hmmmm... I had forgotten to get a ratchet strap out of the truck so I figured I'd get the strap and get this over with. I popped out the door at which point the patrolman asked if the truck was mine. I said 'yes' and he said, “Good, you saved me some work.”

He politely said that someone had called the police concerning some “questionable” items I removed from my truck and he was sent to make sure there were no potential threats to my neighbors. I had about two seconds to make a plan. My first thought was to put up my guard and play hard-ass. But in those two seconds, I decided not to do that. Instead, I grinned, nodded my head, and rolled my eyes. I said, “I know what caused the alarm” and motioned for him to follow me. I had put the cart just inside my door and I knew I could get thru this without dragging him through all the moving clutter.

The patrolman stood in my doorway and I pointed to the four green wooden ammo cases as I said, “Ammo.” I grabbed a case and spun it around to show the bright orange triangle that screamed “EXPLOSIVES”. I said, “I'm guessing that's what caused the alarm.” He nodded and asked what it was. I explained and he asked me if I minded popping open a case so he could confirm its contents if anyone asked. I didn't feel like getting into a 4th Amendment argument and figured, “what the hell”. My favorite gun show vendor had never accidentally given me hand grenades instead of NATO ball ammo so I took my chances. I cut open the tie wraps that held the latches closed and raised the lid. Whew!! No grenades. Just 800 rounds of 7.62x51. I opened one of the boxes and showed him the blister-packed ammo. He gave me a nod of approval and a quick smile that I suspect contained a small amount of relief. I gave him an (unnecessary) apology for scaring someone and he thanked me and went on his way. He never asked for my name (he didn't need to – he knew the truck was mine...) and I didn't get any lectures or questions I thought were founded in suspicion.

So, that was that. Part of me wanted to play hardball: deny the truck was mine, refuse to let him in, refuse to open the case, insist on a warrant, demand to know my accuser. Part of me just wanted to clear up a misunderstanding between an obviously reasonable cop and a cowering sheeple that got nervous as I unloaded ammo in the open, in broad daylight, while making no effort to be sneaky or covert. I chose the latter. Time may prove me wrong but I think I made the right choice. The cop had to believe I was on the up-and-up. I was polite but not obsequious. I was helpful but not to the point of looking desperate. I'm sure there's now a report somewhere with my name on it and a note that I had 3200 rounds of ammo stacked near my front door. Had he and I stood our ground and let his duty collide with my rights, that report would still have been made but it would say that I was uncooperative, guarded, suspicious, blah, blah, blah. Red Flag!! Instead, it might just say I was helpful and handled the situation with grace and humor. (Nah....)

But again, part of me wanted to play hardball. I'm getting ready to move and my apartment is a mass of boxes, including no fewer than 12 empty rifle boxes that were in plain site of the patrolman. I don't know if he saw them – I will assume he did. I'll be pondering this decision for many days as hindsight is always 20/20. If nothing comes of it, then I feel I made the right choice. The police can make my life miserable whether I had cooperated or not. While I drift more and more into the “question authority” mindset each day, I still hold out a small glimmer of hope for common sense from the Powers That Be, especially at the lower levels.

What would I do differently?? First, I would have torn off those damned orange stickers when I put the cases in the truck to begin with. (The heat index in Virginia had to be over 100 degrees today and I won't admit to having full use of foresight in that matter.) Without those stickers I'm sure the “concerned citizen” would have found little to be concerned about. I'll also be more discreet in the future when moving around cases of ammo. Second, I would have asked the patrolman to wait outside while I wheeled-out the cart of ammo. He wouldn't have had a chance to “glance around” and I could have accomplished the same task without being deemed uncooperative. A good friend of mine who's a military cop warned me to never let a policeman into my house without a warrant. I dropped the ball on that one. I'll do it much better next time. Hoping, of course, that there never is a next time.

What really gripes my ass is that there is some knucklehead in my apartment complex that probably thinks I'm a terrorist. (I can think of NOTHING that's further from the truth...) He/she has seen too many commercials asking citizens to narc-out their neighbors. They've read too many 1-800-123-TIPS signs. They've nothing better to do than to spy on their neighbors and call 9-1-1 when they wet their diaper. I'd love to pose a few questions to the sheeple that unleashed upon me one of Montgomery County's finest. First, if I was trafficking in explosives, why would I leave on the orange stickers?? Why would I move the stuff around in plain site, in the middle of the day?? Second, why didn't you just ask me what it was I had?? Moving the stuff around as I was, I was obviously not trying to hide anything. If you're curious, ask. Third, why don't you get a life?? Stop being a good little PATRIOT Act spy and try skipping the Two Minutes Hate every once in a while.

So that's the end of my rant. Hopefully I didn't screw up. Hopefully the cop is cool and he'll pass along that I am too. Hopefully the whole thing will come to nothing. I know that's a lot of hope but that's just me.




It has come to my attention that my Air Force is lapsing into a groundless notion that addressing non-commissioned officers as "sir" and "ma'am" is somehow respectful.

For months I have failed to disabuse you of this notion. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to become one. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to prepare her Airmen to recognize rank, render each rank its proper respect, learn their own places, and aspire to higher rank themselves.

Every time you address an NCO as "sir" you are committing two offenses: you are showing disrespect to the place and the accomplishments of the NCO standing before you, and you are suggesting that you do not know, or do not attend to, the difference between brass and chevrons. This is one of the first things taught you when you stepped off the bus and into the Air Force; forgetting first-day material is not forgiveable.

I would argue that it constitutes a third offense, one to decorum and tradition. Some Airmen offer the rationale that "it couldn't hurt" to address an NCO as "sir" or "ma'am," that more politeness is better. I assure you it is not. Rather than being received as brownnosing, this careless form of address signals to the NCO that you literally don't know who you are talking to. Nor is it effective brownnosing to confuse an experienced, mature NCO---with humble beginnings just like your own---with a butterbar who's still finding his ass, or a squadron commander who probably knows your ass better than you do after a single glance at you.

If you want to go above and beyond, if you're convinced that more is better, then give General Jumper an extra five in the morning. Give up the cigarettes. Cut twenty seconds off your mile and a half. Finish your CDCs. Keep your genitals in your pants and keep your eyes open.

And call me Sergeant.


Quote for the day

So Teresa Heinz Kerry has been busted for telling a reporter to "shove it" after delivering a speech on the need for civility. Her mistake, in my opinion, was not to say "shove it," but to preach for civility.

Common Sense at Liberty and Power


One of Colorado's Native Sons Returns Home

(What's in the CD player??  "A Stare Like Yours", The Thermals)

Colorado, I'm coming home!!

After sixteen years in Maryland (12 + 4 = __), I've had it up to here.  (Take my word for it, the threshhold has been exceeded...)  I had some plans to partner with an old business associate at his existing company but, alas, it wasn't to be.  Too much uncommon ground as it related to salary, capitalization, and control.  He still needs a hand but he'll have to do more soul-searching before he'll be able to loosen the reins.  Most importantly, it would have left me stuck on the East coast.

So I took matters into my own hands.  Given the collective wise counsel-- and the occasional prodding -- of B-Mac, Axle, and Fuze (all CO locals), I "up and quit" my stint in the Golden Handcuffs, reserved me a rental truck, and set my sights on my former hometown of Colorado Springs.  I have yet to find a job or a house but I'm optimistic nonetheless.  I'm visiting next week, during which time I will (1) have a job interview, (2) find a humble abode for all the stuff that owns me, and (3) buy my very own piece of God's Country.

I know I'll feel -- and be treated -- like an outsider for a while.  Hopefully just a little while.  My CO friends tell me I've adopted a strange -- almost Pennsylvania-like -- accent, of which I'm not aware.  Getting rid of that will be difficult perhaps.  I spent nine years in ColoSpgs before I landed here in MD and my last serious visit was more than a bit disorienting.  I knew the road names but forgot where they went.  Landmarks I expected to be in a certain place were hidden or gone.  My favorite military surplus store jumped to the other side of the street and its emphasis on 'military' was lost somewhere along the way.  But I'll recover quickly, I'm sure.

I hope the job interview goes well.  It would be a nice change of pace from designing DSL modem software.  (DSL has paid the bills but it's as spiritually rewarding as watching paint dry.)  If the new job doesn't work out then I'll do my best to re-ignite my own engineering company, which, BTW, still exists as a CO corporation.  At least my attorney is convinced that it is, given that he bills me regularly for services that only he and The State deem warranted.

For me, the most exciting part is the land.  TCM's Hideout.  Even at 40-something, I have yet to carry a mortgage.  (I know, that's good and bad...)  I have never set down roots, due either to lack of ability or lack of desire.  Just as I have an uncontrollable "salmonic" urge to swim back upstream, I feel the need to have a place to call Mine.  I'll eventually get a Real Home Mortgage once the dust settles but for now,this piece of land I'm "jonesing" after will do just fine!!

So, sometime next month, there will be the white streak of El Puerqo Grande (my F350's moniker) and a rental truck headed West.  My ex-wife's former father-in-law has kindly offered to drive one of the vehicles.  He prefers EPG -- as do I.  It'll be an arm-wrestling match each morning.  I'd like to make the trip via motorcycle but that doesn't lend itself well to getting Stuff to CO.  So the motorcycles will be trailered and the Slow Crawl out I-70 will be my fate.

And, it can't happen soon enough.

Now I just need to find the closest rifle range to ColoSpgs.  :^)

It's all good!!



Two-tiered justice system, or a case of the rich raising the tide?

Two competing views could apply to Kobe Bryant's prosecution.

One: we have a two-tiered justice system. One tier serves the moneyed elite and delivers verdicts favorable to them, and the other handles the rest of us and dispenses justice to us in a way favorable to the State.

Other: the justice system we operate today commonly abuses defendants' rights and gets away with it. Only "celebrities" and the rich wield the resources---finances, name recognition, talented counsel---to fight back against them. If it weren't for them, fewer people would be aware of the abuses and they would be more widespread.

Of course neither view excludes the other.

What's your take? Put it in the comments.


Dennis Miller show

I actually watched one from start to finish, mainly because I knew Cathy Seipp would be there. It was worth the time.

  • Cathy Seipp is hot.
  • Lose the squirrel.
  • The chimp made a martini. Cool.
  • Damn, sometimes I miss private-sector business travel---the occasional martini bars, y'know? I could use the airline miles too.
  • Dennis Miller was kinda cool too. More on that later.

A Cheerios ad running from local feed begged a hacking. More on that later too.

Friday muledeer blogging

Firstborn and I spotted this pair three weeks ago, along Colorado 86, between Castle Rock and Franktown. Since then I've kept a loaded Canon in the car. My patience paid off. Here they are again, last Thursday night, about a hundred meters east of Colorado 83, about a klick and a half from where we last saw them.

A friend at work says these are Boone and Crockett material. Both are at least 10-point, still in velvet.

Five of them were in the same spot this afternoon as I drove home. The camera sat at the house, empty.


RFC: blog personality sorter

After perusing the table of contents for the August 04 issue of Liberty, and comparing the obituaries for Ronald Reagan, I'm impressed with the diversity of thought. I liked Reagan, both in political deeds and political words, with some exceptions as always. I'll tolerate and hear those who speak ill of him, even want him to go to Hell. But that's not my point.

Liberty's editors and writers are polarized on Reagan, as they often are on many topics. As I scan the titles of the articles and their alternating love him/hate hims, it appears to me that I need to keep track of the writers with whom I agree and disagree, and why.

The blogosphere is infested with self-selecting quizzes that invite a reader to answer a series of questions about himself, and then return a profile that matches the reader to a famous philosopher, politician, fantasy figure, humorous character, and so forth. I'm a True Neutral Half-elf Ranger Druid by one quiz, John Stuart Mill by another, Jimmy (of the movie Pulp Fiction) by another, Boomhauer by yet another.

If libertarianism is not a single unified
but a kind of constellation of neighboring, competing philosophies, able to attract each other until we get within 1 AU and then mildly repel each other, we should start pigeonholing ourselves into them (visualize the name tags that say "HELLO! I'm Fûz and I'm a Consequentialist Jeffersonian"). A Quizilla based on Liberty Magazine's editorial staff would serve well as the sorting hat.

That way we know what to expect when we bump into one another at cocktail parties and blogger roundups, get past the bickering after the first round of drinks, and build a consensus for useful political action. The ones who want to keep on arguing can be dismissed as wankers.

Which regular Liberty writer am I?