Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Evitability Of Donald Trump

So, most of my FB feed is testing there hand (and credibility) at calling the election based on reported results and variably shaky math; here's my offering (and there will be no math here, I promise) (I'd say "So vote for me", but I'm concerned some really low information voter actually might).

As of today, 16 March, 2016, according to Real Clear Politics Trump has a total of 629 delegates (including Carson's 8), Cruz has 396 (which I assume already includes Fiorina's 1), Rubio has 168, and Kasich has 138, which combines to more than half of the total number of delegates available.

IF Ted Cruz can convince Marco Rubio to pledge his delegates to him in exchange for Cruz nominating Rubio to fill the open Supreme Court position, AND convince Kasich to pledge his delegates to Cruz in exchange for the position of VP, THEN Ted Cruz has 702 delegates to Trump's 629 and a very interesting bargaining position.

In exchange for Trump throwing his support (and his delegates) behind a Cruz/Kasich ticket on the first convention ballot, Cruz offers The Donald the position of Councilor-to-the-President and Ambassador Plenipotentiary (either of which is a good, solid, insider-power-broker position).  As CttP, Trump is an active participant in Cabinet meetings at the Presidents discretion and serves as Cruz's direct representative overseeing such national interest efforts as hardening the national electrical grid infrastructure or maintaining the nations interstate highway system and bridges for example (all matters of legitimate federal concern and projects that Trump has no little degree of practical experience with).  As Ambassador Plenipotentiary, Trump serves as the President's personal envoy to foreign governments and individuals.  I rather imagine the "smoke filled room" conversation between Cruz and Trump might go something like this:

Look Donald, I need you to kick ass and take names on these national infrastructure projects so I can dump specific instructions on the cabinet officers responsible for actually running the works projects.  At the same time, I'm occasionally going to want to send you to some foreign capitol to give them a healthy dose of the heebie jeebies.  That way, when I come along a bit later and tell them, "look, fellas, it doesn't have to be that way, you know" they'll be a lot more likely to see the advantages of whatever I throw down on the table at them, cause let's face it, you've got the "scary mofo" ju-ju hands down.  Take the wife along; there'll be plenty of opportunities to keep her sweet with some power shopping afterwards.  You occasionally go throw a scare into the chinks, russkis and whoever else jumps ugly, so I can come along after and get us what we really want.  That is the art of the deal, right?

Using today's numbers, that gives Cruz 1,331 delegates, which is more than enough to secure the nomination on the first ballot with no convention jiggery pokery from the GOP good ol' boys needed.

This also sets up a general election campaign that looks something like this:

1. Carly Fiorina earns her cabinet appointment by cutting the feminist legs out from under the Hillary campaign and savages Democratic party campaign positions and statements savagely.

2. Marco Rubio keeps the GOPe in line and supportive-ish (and he and Cruz as sitting Senators do whatever deals need be done to keep that Supreme Court appointment "open") and savages Democratic party campaign positions and statements savagely.

3. John Kasich gets a new wardrobe for the traditional VP international funeral gig, as well as bones up on space policy in a "private space access" economy, and savages Democratic party campaign positions and statements savagely.

4. Donald Trump spouts the Cruz/Kasich campaign positions ruthlessly, tosses the occasional (and thoroughly vetted-in-secret-in-advance) foreign policy knee-wobbler to the media, and savages Democratic party positions and statements savagely.

5. Ted Cruz campaigns in a statesman-like, generous and positive manner, always taking the high road on any policy dispute with the other party's positions and campaign statements, interspersed with content-free but encouraging statements regarding foreign policy.

See?  No math (shut up back there, addition is not "math"), no charts, no graphs; just a simple narrative explanation that has as good a chance of meeting reality as most members of Congress ever seem to, so it has that going for it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Will There Be Room Service In Our High Speed Handbasket?

Via the much-lamented Drudge Report comes this headline:

Trump breaks 50% in national support for the first time

Even though this is my self-declared Year Of The Old-School Diet (eat less/do more; it's only for a year, you old wuss), I do still eat, and rather better quality eats too.  Since there is less volume being purchased, I buy more tasty/expensive selections.  Thus my question regarding the growing inevitability of our apparent mutual electoral experience-in-the-making.

Get'chere context!  Get'chere context here.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

HEMA practice

Met with William Phillips this evening and we got in a couple hours of good practice on Fiore's hand-to-hand, dagger and sword techniques.  I was able to demonstrate my adaptation of the Absolute Force chest protector to good advantage, I think; Will seemed positively impressed.  The basic idea is to sew the AF chest protector inside of an airsoft chest-and-back protector (which is itself water proof) thereby making placement retention of the chest protector more secure during active practice while increasing the level of protection by some degree.  This airsoft device isn't adequate protection on its own from a thrust, but the combination is able to handle a quite firm thrust to the chest with little-to-no slippage of the blade point across the surface of the protector. I did have Will deliver a medium strong cut with his nylon feder V-3 to the back panel and the result makes me confident this will be useful in any kind of fall or roll.  By wearing this under a sparing jacket, this will hopefully reduce the sponge effect in the torso area as well.

The V-TAC airsoft chest protector is available from Amazon for $21.95, this spool of waxed thread is listed at $6.95, and the Absolute Force chest protector is available from Purpleheart Armory for $27.00 (plus shipping; no Prime membership there).

A few minutes with an electric drill put 2 pairs of 1/4 inch dia. holes (spaced about an inch apart) along the bottom of the AF chest protector, following which I sewed it to the inside of the airsoft protector.  Maybe 1/2 an hour all in?  Pretty simple really and I'm quite pleased on my brief experience with the combination so far.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's Only A Cat

15 years ago my daughter dropped off two kittens at my house; my "grandchildren" she called them laughingly.  On a stormy night while I was at work, the last of them died in her sleep last night.

I did the necessary on a rainy Tuesday midnight and now I sit here listening to Zara Larsson while pondering the severing of my final illusion of a connection with my oldest child and her actual children.

I will have no more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Trumpenproletariat

Post-Super Tuesday: Trump 245, all-the-rest 241.

The great muss of the people have spoken.

Now we get to see what the GOP-member only end of the primary calendar has to say (see: Oklahoma for a clue).

Yes, I wrote this just mostly for the "bad hair" reference.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Click Here, A Click There ... It Adds Up

Went HEMA shopping today. Bought the 82nd Shorty face mask/helmet from Destroyer Modz, a cruciform feder from Castille Armory, a pair of Koning Gloves from St. Mark (which won't arrive 'till March maybe, depending on where I fall in the ordering que), and a nylon chest protector and HEMA gear bag ("fits a long sword" - worth a try) from Purple Heart Armoury. I've got a full set of general training pads, cup, etc from my Krav Maga training so I think I will hold off on buying a sparring jacket just yet. On that note, any informed opinions on the PBT sparring jackets? I suspect the included guards and pads (that have to be removed for cleaning - and then have to be put back into the now-smaller holes afterwards) (this is not my first rodeo) may be more trouble than they are worth.  It looks attractively priced compared to the basic Axel Petterrson SPES jacket, but ...

That was a quick thousand bucks; good thing it's only "fiat currency", what?

Thoughts, opinions, rude gestures?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

From My Martial Arts Bookshelf

I have, over the past several months, gradually become more interested in weaponed martial arts (other than firearms, of course :)); specifically Historical European Martial Arts, to the degree that this past weekend I purchased a life membership in HEMA Alliance to compliment my NRA membership.  It will be a few more weeks or months before I'm physically ready to take up active training with others.  In the meantime I am using the inexpensive Cold Steel nylon bastard sword, single-hand sword (that's their description - I don't believe the design can be traced to any specific period or style of sword other than possibly "viking" or "crusader", neither of which would be correct in this instance, just convenient examples of broad sword descriptive types), and dagger I purchased to begin practicing the basic stances, steps and grips for those type weapons.  I'm able to do these alone and in front of my apartment, further confusing the neighbors (it's no secret I'm a shooter; over Christmas I constructed a shipping tube out of PVC to send some fishing rods to my son in Oregon - several neighbors apparently thought I was building a potato cannon or rocket launcher).  I can't imagine what they are going to dream up as a result of my latest hobby.  Hopefully it won't require the participation of the local PD.  :)

I've never been a dedicated martial arts student, and I'm much too old to be a serious one these days, but I do have a rather extensive (and fairly eclectic by most standards, I expect) library of books and a few instructional videos on the general topic of human combat.  A fairly recent acquisition is Guy Windsor's VENI VADI VICI.  In the Introduction (page 17 of the paperback edition, for those following along at home), he describes several word translations that are pretty much essential for any student of historical European swordsmanship to know and understand.  One of these stood out for me in particular, Mezo Tempo.  The following may be pushing the bounds of "fair use", but the quote in full is:
This is literally "half time", but refers to the use of blows that stop in the middle of the target, instead of traveling through to the other side.  Tempo in this instance means "completed movement" or something similar.  So the "half time" is the use of "half blows".  
Anyone who has spent any time training in any discipline involving hand strikes (and even kicks) will recognize the technique being described.  One maneuvers an opponent with footwork, of course, but also by means of the type and force of blows delivered.  Boxers, for an easily accessible modern example, are trained to "punch through the head"; that is, to deliver a strike to the head or face that is from sufficiently close range to reach at least the middle of the opponents head at full extension.  By punching only to the surface of the head, you can conserve energy and deceive an opponent while you maneuver in a manner that makes your footwork more effective in setting up a structured attack.

What I take to be Vadi's meaning in Mezo Tempo is that this same category of tactics from the un-weaponed fighting arts also applies more-or-less directly to sword fighting/sparring too.  It has been my belief from the outset of my interest in swords, and western martial arts generally, that this would indeed prove to be the case. That strategy and tactics from one discipline would apply to swords and other historical weapons just as well (accounting for differences in distance and such, of course).

I will take this opportunity to throw this thought out for consideration and (probably separate would be better) discussion as well; History Begins Yesterday.  My cyclical involvement in Krav Maga is what made the observation above so obvious to me; it would be hard to argue that KM is not a direct modification of European historical martial arts forms, as are a number of modern martial arts (Imi Lichtenfeld's book is quite specific on Krav Maga's historical lineage).  Are there organized courses of study within HEMA that connect the modern expressions of western martial arts to the historical forms we practice?

I would value any thoughts of others, particularly critical ones, about my conclusions and observations.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

sic transit gloria

Glenn Fry, RIP

11/6/1948 - 1/18/2016


sooner or later, we all have to die

sooner or later, that's a stone cold fact

four men ride out, only three ride back

no more time to borrow, maybe no more tomorrow Desperado


Monday, January 18, 2016

13 Hours

Went to see the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi in the cinema Sunday afternoon; definitely worth the price of admission just for the cinematography and Special Effects.  No spoilers, but like virtually every other "based on historical events" (and in this case specifically "This is a true story") movie, there are gaping holes in the historical record as it is portrayed on film.  I'm not going to go into a long dissertation about the differences between written story and film story; leave it as stipulated that the two formats have mutually opposing criteria and thus there will always be a need to adapt a written record into the more compressed film format, and that that compression often is achieved by illustrating a condition with a fictionalized example that evokes the impact of the more complex actual events to a viewing audience in a reasonable period of viewing time.

Also, it is the height of stupidity to bring your personal ideology with you to any movie.  Enjoy the show for what it is, then have fun dissecting it with your friends and commentariat afterwards.  I guarantee you will have plenty of opportunity to rip it to pieces no matter who wrote, directed, or starred in it.

Ok, one tiny spoiler (paraphrased):  "Shorts to a gunfight?  That's a bold statement, brother."

Go see the movie in the theater if you possibly can.  This is one of those films that really benefits from the big screen viewing environment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

About That Retirement Thing ...

Once I discovered the actual amounts involved, I realized that, while I can live comfortably enough this year, by its nature "retirement" lasts the rest of your life and the amounts involved didn't permit a lot of confidence for 10 years out (never mind the actuarial life span numbers).  So, dis-engagement from the .gov borg is underway and I am so looking forward to 4 more years of active employment.

My employer's opinion was not solicited, but so far the weekly checks keep not bouncing.