Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dealing With an Alien Belief System

One of the problems in this Post-9/11 world is defining exactly how one feels about the Islamic religion. Isn't it patently unfair to condemn a large part of the world's population for the actions of - - - A few? How can we say “a few?” Do we limit this to those Muslims who actually had first-hand participation in the airliner hijackings and destruction of great buildings? Certainly this would be equally unfair. Those participants had a great deal of support, command structure and financing to speed them on their way to martyrdom.

At the same time, it is just too pat to classify Islam as “a religion of peace,” without examining the face it presents to the rest of the world, its writings, and the world wide effects of that movement.

I view the images of the 11SEP2001 attacks, and the aftermath of suicide bombers elsewhere in the world. I see some worthy, intelligent women who have had the courage to slough off the “traditional” Islamic restrictions on women and who have made genuine contributions to society. At the same time, we hear of the many thousands of their equally bright sisters who are still confined, restricted, and oppressed by hundreds of years of custom solidified into draconian law. I see the images of throat slashings and beheadings of some who fail to toe the strict line of Islam. These make me wonder if there isn't some, some SMALL justification in the argument to slaughter them in their millions, for simple self-protection. No, I certainly would not argue for genocide by race, nor wish to wipe out an entire people because of religion.

At the same time, I see most of the Muslims in this area, quiet, decent individuals, who have jobs and families and who are really good neighbors. Those I know personally are not wild-eyed radicals, wanting to wipe out all the world's other religions and kill those who do not embrace Islam.

I have no real answers to the problems posed by trying to live in the same world as the Islamic religion. I seriously doubt that any one person has all the answers. It is valuable, though, to read some well reasoned thoughts on the topic; to hear an arguably sane voice crying out through the background noise.

Let me share a source with you. Roger W. Gardner of the Political Grind Network, has written a piece called “Wrestling With Mohammed ,”
which asks, “Is Islam a religion of peace or an imminent fascist threat?” It was first published back in October 2007 and I recommend it highly.

No, Mr. Gardner doesn't have, nor claim to have, all the answers. He does present what seems a rational viewpoint, which may help some others to organize their feelings on this topic. It certainly gave me food for thought. I'll not try to synopsize the article. It would be futile and unfair to cut-and-paste Mr. Gardner's thoughts into my blog. Click the above link, take several minutes to read it and form your own opinion. I really believe it'll be worth your while.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Space Shuttle Challenger

Today's Highlight in History:

On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center, killing all seven of its crew members: flight commander Francis R. "Dick" Scobee; pilot Michael Smith; Ronald McNair; Ellison Onizuka; Judith Resnik; Gregory Jarvis; and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

From Charter News

A BBC News report was typical of most news broadcasts, claiming that, “The explosion was witnessed by millions on live TV.”

Nothing can take away from the tragedy of the fiery breakup of the shuttle and the death of the entire crew. These men and women are to be honored for their dedication and courage, and for the very real contributions they made to the Space Program. The seven would be better honored, however, if the information repeated, rehearsed, and rebroadcast for the past 22 years was a little more accurate.

An interesting article by James Oberg,
NBC News space analyst, brings together several myths concerning the Challenger disaster and at least partially debunks them. This is no conspiracy theorist spreading wild eyed allegations of sinister plots. It is rather a tale of bureaucracy run rampant, to the cost of the truth. It is a sad fact that in the wake of every tragedy in which there was governmental involvement, there is an immediate scurrying about, putting a bit better spin on the matter, all in the spirit of covering one's ass, and full disclosure be damned.

Mr. Oberg's article confronts seven myths surrounding the Challenger disaster, and seeks to set the record straight. He tells us - - :

  1. Few people actually saw the Challenger tragedy unfold live on television.

  2. The shuttle did not explode in the common definition of that word.

  3. The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.

  4. The design of the booster, while possessing flaws subject to improvement, was neither especially dangerous if operated properly, nor the result of political interference.

  5. Replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals was unrelated to the failure.

  6. There were pressures on the flight schedule, but none of any recognizable political origin.

  7. Claims that the disaster was the unavoidable price to be paid for pioneering a new frontier were self-serving rationalizations on the part of those responsible for incompetent engineering management — the disaster should have been avoidable.
Each of these misconceptions perpetuated by the media – with little or NO correction by any agency of the government – is worthy of a lengthy article. I am most interested in the first three points.

1. The shuttle launch was NOT being broadcast as it happened, except for a satellite feed available only to those with the properly configured dishes. Christa McAuliffe, being the “First Teacher in Space,” a live feed from CNN was made available to and viewed at many public schools. The various news sources WERE video recording the launch, and tapes were broadcast within minutes, and perhaps seconds, after the breakup.

2. There was no actual explosion in the sense of a detonation. The disastrous fuel leak led to an immediate fire and huge fireball, causing separation of boosters from the shuttle, and the breakup and destruction of the entire vehicle. A large part of the shuttle itself was virtually intact, though certainly not airworthy.

3. The breakup, a minute 13 seconds after launch, at 48,000 feet altitude, was certainly NOT when the crew died. The crew compartment peaked at 65,000 feet and only then started downward. It impacted on the ocean's surface some two minutes 45 seconds after the fuel tank ignited.

The cockpit voice recordings have never been released, so the general public cannot know exactly how long any of the shuttle crew remained conscious once the breakup began. It IS known that of the four emergency Personal Egress Air Packs recovered, three had been manually activated. At least some of the crew were alive, conscious, and were doing what they could to survive.

The point is moot for the Challenger personnel, for there were no ejection seats and indeed, no personal parachutes aboard. Modified SR-71 Blackbird ejection seats and full pressure suits
were used on the first four shuttle orbital missions, which were considered test flights, but they were removed for the operational missions that followed. It was over two years later that the design of a crew bailout system was approved for use on subsequent missions.

Again, these points, and the four others, are not the ravings of some paranoid writer, trying to drum up interest for a new “exposé” book. The sources are NOT super secret and ultra confidential; the data are all available to anyone with Internet access. If you can read this, you can access Google, Yahoo!, or other search engines, and research the allegations made in Mr. Oberg's article.

My purpose is not to attack the shuttle program nor the space program in general. I feel it is beneficial to humankind that we continue our questing into space. With such massive sums of our tax money being spent, though, it is not unreasonable to expect open and honest disclosures about the program. Those who die in the service of our country and of mankind deserve no less.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Let's Use the Correct Words: A Few Definitions

One of the [damn' few] side benefits of moving from late middle age into *gulp* old age is that most folks are tolerant when you show your true colors as a surly curmudgeon. I admit to sometimes being one of them, nit-picky and downright persnickety. Other times I just can't be bothered. So sue me.

Anyhow, I thought to list some word usages that just irritate me. Do they make a LOT of difference in the long run? Probably not. I feel, however, that a person who speaks, and more particularly WRITES in an imprecise manner is a good deal less convincing than one who chooses his words carefully. Most egregious, perhaps, is when someone wants to be thought particularly knowledgeable, and makes a blatant error.

Some examples - -

I read a news account a few minutes ago, headlined, Girl's Leg Shattered by Round From AK-47. The story elaborates: . . . an 18-year-old at the party was showing off a semi-automatic rifle and that she was treated . . . After . . . she was hit by a round from an AK-47 assault rifle.

In this context, a “round” has a very specific meaning, usually synonymous with “cartridge.” For modern small arms, both mean a cartridge case holding primer, powder, and projectile, most commonly a single bullet.

“Assault rifle” has a specific meaning. It is a compact, selective-fire (full automatic or semiautomatic,) weapon chambered for an intermediate power cartridge. If the firearm is ONLY semi automatic, it fires one shot with one operation of the trigger, and is NOT an assault rifle. So, the unfortunate girl was wounded by a bullet fired from a semiautomatic rifle or carbine.

Clips and Magazines
Many of those reading this are aware of the difference between a clip and a magazine. For the benefit of those who do not, it doesn't hurt to run over it again.

Clip: A device to assist in loading the magazine of a firearm. Clips are usually made of bent sheet metal, only partially enclose the ammunition, and have no spring. They are typified by the

five round clips for the '98 Mauser, Springfield 1903, and numerous other rifles, used to load the internal magazine and then discarded.

The M1 Garand rifle uses an eight-round en-bloc clip which is loaded into, and remains inside, the internal magazine.
Certain revolvers may also be loaded with clips of various sizes.

A magazine completely encloses the ammunition it holds and almost always has an internal spring to feed the ammunition. Most bolt action rifles use an enclosed box-type magazine.

Most lever action rifles and many .22 rimfire rifles have a tubular magazine beneath the barrel.

Practically all modern semiautomatic handguns utilize a detachable box magazine.

Many rifles, submachine guns, and light machine guns use the detachable box as well, which may or may not be loaded with the use of clips.
Taking Casualties
It is common to read or or to hear in a movie or tv program, someone speaking of a certain group being “decimated.” This is bad enough, if the word is used correctly, for it means that ten per cent of them were killed or otherwise made casualties. If ALL or nearly all of a group, detachment, unit, village, etc., are KIA or WIA, it is probably more correct to speak of them being annihilated. The term massacre is used in so many ways as to be very imprecise but usually refers to a lesser degree of carnage.

To decimate comes from the Latin Decimatio, a Roman punishment in which every 10th man in a unit would be put to death by the men who were spared. Thus, decimation refers to ten per cent, no more and no less.
That's probably enough for this time. I'll likely revisit this theme as the mood strikes me. Let me know in Comments if you have any particular peeves with our language.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Firearms Safety - - and a notable Negligent Discharge

First, a hat tip to Grant Cunningham over at the Revolver Liberation Alliance blog for providing the original link to a truly instructive story about a negligent discharge. Mr. C's blog is enjoyable reading for anyone interested in revolvers. I admire his writings about wheel guns in general, and his custom work in particular, but I respectfully disagree with some of his personal interpretations. More on that later.

Click HERE for the link to a brutally frank ND report, written by the unfortunate who self-victimized his own person.
Please be advised: Some of the images included depict actual gunshot wounds. As such wounds go, these are not particularly gory, but they ARE graphic, and might take some folks by surprise. The writer confesses his own negligence and tells us of the aftermath. It is noted that, for a gunshot wound inflicted with a major caliber handgun, with high performance ammunition, at VERY close range, this one is fairly minor. Nonetheless, the aftermath was painful, traumatic, and expensive. It should be a lesson to us all.

The writer/victim points out the difference between an Accidental Discharge (AD) and a Negligent Discharge (ND.) He also repeats the FOUR RULES OF FIREARMS SAFETY in pretty much their original form, with some valuable elaborations. As it is ALWAYS in order to stress safety, I'll list them again:

Jeff Cooper's Rules of Gun Safety


The above are pretty much “the original,” as I was taught them when I attended Gunsite back in 1980. They have been paraphrased a number of times, but as long as the sense of these is maintained, the purpose will be accomplished. “The Rules” are one of Jeff Cooper's true contributions to the world of shooting.

If these rules are taken to heart and strictly observed, safe gun handling is assured. Many years ago, the firearms industry, in cooperation with the National Rifle Association, promulgated “The Ten Commandments of Gun Safety.” These were okay, and far preferable to no codified rules at all. I submit that The Four Rules are truly superior, in that they are simple, easy to remember and easy to teach. If we truly make them part of our thinking when dealing with firearms, there will be no tragic accidents, no silly mistakes, and no unintended injuries.

I hope you'll take time to read Greg Morrison's commentary on The Four Rules. He changes nothing, but does provide an expanded and valuable perspective.

The disagreement I have with Mr. Cunningham's writings is his rearrangement and rephrasing of these valued safety rules. Perhaps it is not so large a matter as it seems to me, that we should not be revisionist with other individuals' writing. Maybe it's just too soon after Colonel Cooper's death, and I might think differently later. Who knows?

Personal Protection Firearms Preferences

I handle moderator chores in the Handguns: Autoloaders forum of one of the larger firearms discussion boards. I find it interesting how strongly some enthusiasts promote their OWN choice of a defensive handgun as being totally ideal for others.

For the past couple of weeks, one such thread has been allowed to run on for 'WAY too long. The stated topic concerned which pistol is better, the S&W M&P autoloader or the Springfield XD. The following is a slight rework of my ending post thereon.

Some contributors cannot accept just how subjective is the individual's choice of firearms -- firearms in general, and personal protection arms in particular. It would seem axiomatic: You carry what YOU like, and what YOU trust, and what YOU can shoot well, and I'll do the same. The rest is merely details.

Unless, of course, you're dealing with an agency issue weapon, personal preference is the ONLY thing that counts. In the case of issue pistols, if the powers-that-be tell you, "If you work here, you carry what we issue," then that pretty well ends it. You either cowboy up and adapt to the issue piece or sack your saddle and go elsewhere.

And I had to inject a bit of personal testimony at this point - - -
It happens that I've shot a LOT of different handguns over the years. I have my own personal preferences, sure. Long ago, I worked for an agency where you could carry whatever you wanted, so long as it was "Colt or Smith & Wesson double action revolver, four-inch barrel, caliber.38 Special or .357." At my next job, the requirement was about the same but by that time, the Ruger DA was acceptable, and the caliber was not specified. Even back then, my personal preference was for the Colt 1911-type pistol, but I adapted, practiced with the approved sidearms, and got along just fine.

Given my druthers, I'm still prefer a 1911 guy for when I carry a full size pistol, and I choose an Airweight .38 as a pocket piece. . But you know what? I could get along quite well with any of several other good quality sidearms.

Day to day, I like the Colt Commander .45, but my beloved Elder Son prefers his old model full-size Kimber. At least two men I highly respect prefer the 9mm Browning Hi Power. Another is devoted to a three-inch S&W .357. Something all these people have in common, though, is that they accept that it is the shooter and not the firearm that makes the decisive difference. And any of us could pick up the others' sidearm and make a pretty good showing in a street fight.

I'll readily admit that I have almost NO experience with the S&W New M&P auto, or the Springfield XD. However, I have fired several thousand rounds through my Glock 19, so I'll bet that with only minimal practice, I could handle one of the other two fairly well. Allow me a month's intensive practice with a good holster and a bunch of ammo, and I think I could shoot expert on most police qualification courses with any of them.

Here's the catch, though: I don't feel the need to promote my personal favorite as being superior to YOUR own choice for YOUR use. In an appropriate discussion, I'll tell you what I like, and why. I'll listen politely while you tell me the same. But as soon as you begin telling me why MY Commander is utterly wrong, that Steve's High Power is trash, or Marko's Model 13 is sadly obsolete, then you lose me in a hurry, and I'd jsooner be elsewhere. I SURELY won't stick around to listen to you expound on why the XD or MP.40 or HK crunchenticker is inestimably superior.

Brand loyalty is all well and good, but when one attacks the choices of others, and become tacky in the discussion, well, thats a bit out of line. For those who had their say and respectfully stood by while the other guy had his, I extended my thanks. I thought that eighty-odd entries were plenty on the topic. I invited anyone with something new to add to start a new thread. In the meanwhile, I closed the discussion.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold Weather Shootin' Match Part II

Yeah, I went to the submachine gun match on Saturday. It was about as cold as I figured it'd be. I wore full polypropylene underwear, a corduroy shirt and khaki pants. A polypro neck gaiter over my ball cap covered my neck and ears. My ancient wooly pully sweater and a Walls insulated vest went on top.

The matches are held in an old quarry and the high wall on the north side kept off the worst of the wind, so I didn't put on my heavy jacket. I wore tight deerskin gloves, thinking I could wear them while shooting. Bad mistake. I should have worn lined gloves and just pulled them off long enough to shoot. First stage, I fumbled reloads badly, my hands were so cold. Between stages, I took forever to refill magazines, even though Thompson mags are a lot easier to load than many other types.

My performance was less than outstanding. I was getting failures to fire a couple of times per magazine. This was particularly disgusting, because this particular 1928 TSMG has worked very well for years. I tried down loading my mags with 28 rounds instead of 30, and wished I had fresh Wolff recoil spring. I finally figured out the problem. Last time I shot the gun, I failed to do a complete tear down and cleaning. Hey, I've been shooting jacketed handloads rather than cast lead. I'd oiled the gun generously before I put it up a couple of months ago. Whoops. As it turned out, the powder residue from previous shooting and the extra oil, combined with the low temperatures, gummed things up badly. Unfortunately, I didn't work this out until the match was almost over. In retrospect, I'd guess I haven't done a detailed cleaning of that gun in the last 1200 rounds. I really can't blame the gun for my laziness.

Oh, well, I had fun, and I wasn't the only one with gun troubles. Two MP-5s, an Uzi, a 9mm M16, and an M1 Thompson had various ailments. Causes ranged from bad magazines, poor handloads, and messed-up red dot sights to some still-undiagnosed ills.

The match was interesting, with a total of four stages. Targets were a mix of steel plates and paper. All shooting had to be done on full automatic. The paper targets were IDPA-type silhouettes with a paper plate stapled to the center. As control is stressed, each paper plate required at least two but no more than five hits. Holes anywhere else on the silhouette did not count. Only pistol-caliber guns were allowed in the competition, because rifle cartridges are too destructive to the metal plates. After the matches, though, there is a free fire time, during which anything may be shot.

We usually see the same shooters, with an occasional new participant arriving by invitation. When a new guy shows up, he's expected to display his proof-of-registration for any National Firearms Act weapons he brings. With the prices of registered full automatic guns nowadays, none of the regular group is going to tolerate others bringing any contraband items to the match. These owners are all pretty dedicated sportsmen and hobbyists, with nary a thug in the lot.

The weather never got much over 40 degrees on Saturday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cold Weather Shootin' Match

What Am I Thinking?

0745 on a chilly morning. I shouldn't even be out of bed. I'm retired, and it's a Saturday anyhow. I mean, I'm a Suthron by birth and a bit cold natured to boot. I freely admit that some of you have it worse, and live where it gets LOTS colder than it does in my area. You know what? I don't care. It's MY comfort I'm thinking about. If you thrive in a cold climate, than God bless and I'm glad you enjoy it. You're made of stronger stuff than I.

Local cable weather svc says it's 24 degrees out, with a TWELVE degree wind chill. It MAY get up to 50 this afternoon. I'm not as temperature tolerant as in my youth - - or even middle age. To paraphrase, this is no weather for old men – at least, not this old man.

So what the hell am I doing, loading up to go out to a shooting match? I've been looking forward to some trigger time and this is a good excuse. Actually, there are TWO matches in easy driving range this morning. One is an IDPA-style pistol contest. I need to see one of the regular participants who has a couple of my .45 magazines. The other is a submachine gun match. For a change, I have plenty of ammo loaded up.

I can't be in two places at once, so I'm taking gear for both matches, and if it turns out that one has been canceled, I'll drive over to the other one. I just hate to get all bundled up. And I don't like to shiver. Wish me luck, huh?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Old Men's Stories

I recently saw a very good movie called No Country for Old Men, an excellent screen treatment of Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. At the opening scene, there's a voice-over by Tommy Lee Jones' character, Sheriff Bell. He reflects on being a third-generation lawman, and tells about a noted murder case. Later in the movie, the sheriff's Uncle Ellis relates details of a local killing generations before.

All this makes me realize the wealth of personal history available from old timers who led active lives. In recent years, we've seen numerous examples of “oral history” projects, which consist mainly of someone with a tape recorder doing interviews with participants in certain historical events or eras. The researcher then transcribes the interviews or narratives and either publishes them or archives them with a historical society or university. Such projects usually deal with military personnel, but I've read one or two dealing with old lawmen.

I've lately been thinking of the oral history opportunities I've passed up during my lifetime. Most people who have attained age 60 or so have had some experiences which are worth relating. I've maybe seen a few, but my regrets lie in having rubbed shoulders with some truly interesting individuals, and failed to obtain detailed accounts from them.

One afternoon in the late 1950s, I accompanied my mother on a shopping expedition into downtown El Paso. Like most male teenagers, I didn't really enjoy this sort of thing, but I had no excuse not to go along and carry packages for her. Mother was looking for something at the Popular Dry Goods Department Store. I was hanging out, bored to tears, wishing I'd been smart enough to bring along a paperback book. There was a comfortable seating area, but no reading matter or any type.

After a few minutes, an older couple got off the elevator and the man said, “I'll be right over there.” He came over and took a seat. I guessed he was in his late sixties but still active. He wore clean, neat, clothing, but not fancy or “dressed up.” He'd clearly been outdoors a lot in his time. I figured him for either a retired engineer, ranch worker, or perhaps an old soldier. This conclusion required no particular talent or perception. Texas Western College had only a few years before been Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. Many who had served at Fort Bliss and Biggs Field had retired in the salubrious climate. And there were many area ranches raising cattle, goats, and sheep.

This man could see I was restless and he kindly engaged me in conversation. He asked which school I attended, and if I played football. I told him no, that I was most interested in reading history and shooting guns. The old timer seemed to perk up at this and said he did a lot of shooting in his youth. It developed he was a veteran of “The Great War” and had been to France. I asked if he'd seen much combat and he said yes, but most of it had been in Mexico.

I quickly forgot my interest in World War I and began asking about my new friend's experience in the Mexican Revolution. I'd been vaguely aware that there had been a lot of gringo volunteers in that conflict, but this was the first participant I'd met. I'm ashamed I don't recall the man's name, but let's call him Jack. He and a pal had been adventurous and left their home somewhere in the Midwest (Indiana? Iowa?) and crossed from El Paso into Juarez in late 1914. They had no difficulty in joining la revolución. The only question was whether to join Villa's norteños or go well south and seek out Zapata. They joined Villa as machine gunners and dynamiters. Jack said he'd been friend with a National Guardsman back home, who'd shown him “all about” their early Colt's guns. His total experience with live fire was shooting a single belt on the Guard's range.

Jack said they were paid pretty well, early on. The Villaistas captured some gold bullion and hand-stamped a bunch of irregular coins. They were in the field when rumors arrived of the raid at Columbus, New Mexico. When word came that Pershing was leading US troops into Mexico in retaliation, Jack felt it was time to go home. They had a few hundred dollars in gold remaining, and absolutely no desire to fire on American soldiers.

This was all the story I heard. Jack's wife and my mother arrived at about the same time, and both were ready to depart. Stupidly, I failed to learn how to reach Jack, and I never saw him again. In which specific battles did he participate? What did he do on his return to the US? When did he enlist in the US Army? When did he muster out? How did he come to settle in El Paso? What had he done in the ensuing decades? All those great stories lost . . . .

It's worthwhile to pay attention when you learn of a historical resource with first-hand knowledge. I wish I'd taken more notes or carried a tape recorder over the years.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Outstanding New Fiction

Friend Larry Correia's book, Monster Hunter International, has now been published and is being offered through

This is a really fun read. An office worker discovers there are indeed monsters – all kinds of monsters -- running loose in the world. And he's recruited into an action organization dedicated to keeping the monsters at bay. This is pure fantasy, sure, but in much the same way as much of Robert A. Heinlein's early work. The story requires only a minor suspension of disbelief. It's set in today's world, with today's technology - - No swords, sorcery, or magic spells. It reads like an action/mystery novel, with plenty of conflict to keep the proceedings lively.

I was privileged to have been one of the readers who checked the manuscript for Larry, so I got to enjoy the book early on. It was thoroughly engrossing and I concentrated on the few typographical and other technical errors. Others helped with actual editing and the book was subsequently revised. The cover design is the work of the estimable Oleg Volk.

Go to Larry's Monster Hunter Nation
blog site to learn more. In the right-side margin, you'll see “Sample Chapter from MHI,” which provides an appetizer. If your reading tastes are anything like mine, you'll be hooked.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Missile Defense for Airliners

In the past couple of days, there's been much in the news concerning a possible laser defense against missile attacks on airliners. American Airlines has been tagged to do the airborne testing, though the airline seems to have some reservations about this “honor.”

AA has been done preliminary testing on a Boeing 767 aircraft since 2006, and operational test installations may be in place as early as next April. Testing will not be done on passenger-carrying flights for some time yet. See MSNBC link
to an AP story for more information.

It makes for interesting conjecture - - -

[August 2011]

Ah, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Well, we've worried about this for some time now. If those on the left side of the cabin look forward and several thousand feet below us, you might see the smoke trail of a surface-to-air missile coming to intercept our flight path. In a couple of seconds, we'll just see if this laser gadget works as advertised . . . .


Friday, January 04, 2008

AND, In Crime News Today . . .

This might be considered highly unusual if it didn't take place in Oklahoma.

Heard on 95.9 FM out of DFW this evening - - -

Two men got into a violent argument in this little Oklahoma town. They went out into the street and had a brawl. The police arrived, arrested one of the combatants for aggravated assault, and hauled him off to jail.

The weapon used? A pork chop bone.













Why are you scrolling down? There's no punch line, 'cause it's not a joke. Straight news story.


While runnin' my traps Saturday morning, I found a more complete version of this news story. It is from Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV.

Man stabs another man with pork chop bone
ARDMORE -- An Oklahoma man was arrested after police say he stabbed another man in the neck with a pork chop bone during a food fight.

Police in Ardmore, Oklahoma responded to call of a fight outside a local business New Year's day. When they arrived, they found the victim covered in blood with a puncture wound to his neck.

Police arrested the suspect, 38-year-old Tony Willis a few block (sic) from the crime scene. According to authorities, Willis had blood on his clothes and they found the bone used in the attack.

The victim was treated at a local hospital and released.

Hat tip to Wyatt at Support Your Local Gunfighter for the link.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A New Blog

I am extremely pleased to pass along the news that our friend Peter has finally plunged headlong into the world of blogdom. His spot, Bayou Renaissance Man , promises to be a real treat.

It's been my pleasure to have visited with Peter over several years on a couple of the firearms interest boards, and we've been able to meet in person a few times. He has a vast fund of stories and a background which may only be described as, uh, INTERESTING. As I don't know exactly how much of his past he'll want to divulge, I'll hold off on telling too much about him. I know him for a delightful conversationalist, and I've yet to broach a topic on which he isn't pretty well informed. He's no stranger to some truly varied surroundings, and has been present at some interesting occasions. We have common acquaintance with at least a couple of men I highly respect, and this is certainly recommendation enough for me. Give him a read.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Wishes and Observations

Here we are, on the first day of the new year. It is my sincere hope that each of you, individually and severally, have a joyous and prosperous year in 2008. Without regard to our previous condition of fellowship, friendship, or even antagonism, may you and yours ALL have a wonderful year. If that can be managed, I trust that our contentment and good will may rub off on each other, and that those with whom I have disagreed will let bygones be bygone, and wish me and mine well in return.

As a matter of realism, though, I acknowledge that there are those for whom I CANNOT wish any success, health, or anything beneficial. I doubt that any of them read my humble blog, but if any do, they know who they are, and may they burn in hell forever. Lest any with whom I've had minor misunderstandings think that last applies to them, please be assured that it does not. It applies to terrorists who would victimize the freedom-loving people of the world simply because we have a different belief system than they. It applies to ALL criminals who harm the innocent, the inoffensive, the people of good will. And it applies particularly to those who take advantage of children in any way, to gratify their own desires.

Perhaps I am mellowing out in my senior years. The self-protective veneer of cynicism, the hard crust of suspicion, the resilient shell of paranoia, formed over decades of being a peace officer, are gradually dissipating like the ablative tiles of a space vehicle on re-entry. I'm glad that even when I held my lowest opinion of the human condition, I could still look around and see that the vast majority of PEOPLE were, and are, very decent beings. The truly evil or dangerously weak individuals are NOT the norm. Those are the high profile types, to be sure, but the NICE ones, so seldom featured in the news – THEY are our friends and neighbors, the ones with their own families and friends for whom they care deeply. They do not victimize their fellow beings, and, to varying degrees, will actually go out of their way to help out others, their neighbors or even total strangers.

Others have recently written perspectives on 2007. Elder Son Matt did one asking the question, "Am I better off than I was a year ago, today?" He invites comments by his readers, and some of them are quite interesting. I started to write my own comment but decided it would better provide my own overdue blog installment.

Sometimes, “better” may be measured in terms of less pain than formerly. In August 2006, my only brother died after a lengthy bout with brain cancer. By the start of '07, the grieving process was just getting well started. The ensuing year has advanced that recovery, fully as well as can be expected, so I'm doing better in that regard.

Twelve months ago, I was recovering from both a broken hip and a detached retina. Both required surgery, several weeks apart. The rehabilitation after the hip repair was complicated by the loss of functional sight in my afflicted eye. With the unstinting help of Beloved Bride and my sons, and significant assistance of friends, I managed a decent recovery.

Upon retirement at the end of '04, I took the best insurance plan offered by our system. Without that plan, I'd be deep in medical debt, but the situation is manageable. There's still significant co-pay, though, and money was shorter than usual for a while. Fortunately, though, an old boss offered me a part time job, and this settled into a twice-a-week gig of simple surveillance at a construction site. The additional income took up the slack fairly well, and my savings account is a little more healthy than it was a year ago. Between the physical recovery and paying the medical bills, I'm definitely better now than then.

By way of my hobbies, I've recovered sufficient health to participate in a few shooting matches. Matt and I enjoyed a very pleasant hog hunt through the generosity of Rich Lucibella. I even blundered into a couple of decent gun deals. Not many, but the acquisitions have been pleasant, and are fun to shoot.

In answer to the original question, Yessir, I'm personally better off today than on New Year's Day 2007.