Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I hab a cowd in my dnoze ...

...and have since Monday morning. I won't go so far as to say "fortunately", but being on lay-off this week has allowed a generally unpleasant experience to be largely spent in bed, following near-overdose quantities of Nyquil and the like, rather then trying to infect most of my co-employees instead.

I must be feeling better though since I managed to get to the range this afternoon; where I stayed until they threw me out at 7:00 pm, following which I spent a couple hours at Barnes & Noble seeing what I wasn't going to buy and a quick run through WalMart (I needed some of that Remoil w/ teflon. The ejector rod in my Taurus .22 lr 9 shooter is getting sticky after a few cylinders full).

Just doing my part to preserve the public health, that's what it was. Who really wants candy from some old guy with a bad cough and runny nose anyway? I caught the damn disease on Sunday in WalMart in the first place so turn about is fair play there. No germs could survive all the gunpowder smoke at the shooting range, so people are safe enough there. The snobs at B & N are on there own.

Anyway, that's my story for not posting over the last few days. It's a story and I'm sticking to it. Until seriously challenged at least.

Monday, October 29, 2007

These are some of life's favorite things

Just an ordinary day at the shooting range.

Now do you want to come along?

Via Steven Den Beste. Who offers additional linkage for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Whew, what a relief!

I'm so glad that's over with. The whole issue was becoming quite heated, you know.

{Snicker. Did you see the funny there?}

Personally, given the almost total lack of sunspot activity in recent months, I've been looking around Texas for any likely winter sport locales. I have to say that there are a real dearth of ski-able slopes in this state. Langlaufen of course, and biathelon-type events should be natural options.

Although, Lake Towakani ought to offer some real ice boating challenges, I think. Broad, shallow water reaches with numerous tree stump stick-ups to add spice to the event. Particularly in the early years, when you'll never quite be certain of the weather or how deep the ice really is.

There's always something to look forward to, you know? Especially now that that whole "doomsday" thing is over with.

Thanks Al Fin!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


An article in this past Thursday's International Herald Tribune has many of the earmarks of the deliberate mis-information campaign that accompanies an intelligence maskarovka (mask) effort.

This quote from the IHT encapsulates the situation well:

"Two photos, taken Wednesday from space by rival companies, show the site near the Euphrates River to have been wiped clean since August, when imagery showed a tall square building there measuring about 150 feet on a side.

The Syrians reported an attack by Israel in early September; the Israelis have not confirmed that. Senior Syrian officials continue to deny that a nuclear reactor was under construction, insisting that Israel hit a largely empty military warehouse.

But the images, federal and private analysts say, suggest that the Syrian authorities rushed to dismantle the facility after the strike, calling it a tacit admission of guilt.

"It's a magic act — here today, gone tomorrow," a senior intelligence official said. "It doesn't lower suspicions; it raises them. This was not a long-term decommissioning of a building, which can take a year. It was speedy. It's incredible that they could have gone to that effort to make something go away."

In fact, the photos show that the structure is no longer visible to the usual visual spectrum, not that the building has been dismantled - which is the unstated suggestion the reader is left with. In fact, I question whether the "senior intelligence official" is being quoted in context. Read another way, his/her statement could equally mean that an extraordinary effort was entailed by the Syrians to create the photographic effect.

This quote from James Cirincone clearly makes the effort to place the existence of the structure into the past tense:

"It's clearly very suspicious," said Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the Center for American Progress in Washington. "The Syrians were up to something that they clearly didn't want the world to know about."

As does this quote from one David Albright:

"It looks like Syria is trying to hide something and destroy the evidence of some activity," Albright said in an interview. "But it won't work. Syria has got to answer questions about what it was doing."

This is not to say that either of these two men, or the authors of this article, are intentionally cooperating in a deception effort on the part of the Syrian government. The fact remains that a close examination of the two photos provided, using only the naked human eye, shows that multiple changes have occurred at the site pictured in addition to the apparent disappearance of the central building.

Earthen ramps appear to have been built up on the three sides of the main structure that don't face the abrupt cliff.

A new structure has gone up interrupting the apparent foot path leading into the cliff face (beginning from the lower-right quadrant of the picture).

It seems likely to me (based upon this admittedly skimpy "evidence") that a covering material has been erected over the building, that the material is anchored around the edges by/to the earthen ramps and that a ventilation or similar tower structure has had to remain exposed outside the material (the small square form visible in the r/h picture consistent with the upper-left corner of the large building in the l/h photo).

Nothing can be decided from such information/speculation as offered here. What does seem clear though is that whatever questions existed on August 10th remain unanswered today. In fact, the obvious changes in the site pose additional questions that should only add urgency to efforts seeking satisfactory answers.

I discovered something interesting about the maskarovka technique itself. Sort of. I attempted to research the topic to add greater depth to this post. I discovered that Google, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Brittanica and the CIA provide "no result" to queries into the subject, beyond some few references to other's use of the word. I admit my google-fu sucks for the most part, but I put extensive (a couple of hours or so) effort into building differing search strings
on those sites. I won't come right out and declare that they've never heard of the concept, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, but I would be interested to learn what other, better capable users can come up with.

As for the IHT article itself, I think it mystifies more than clarifies the issue(s) and interests involved. Despite Israel's proximity to the locale and it's recent "alleged" activities in the immediate area, I feel certain that many others, and much more, is involved then that simplistic storyline would allow. Strategic science recognises that the calculation of interests involved in a circumstance can be numbered linearly, but their interactions accumulate exponentially as a factor of that numeric growth. In other words, the more players there are, the more opportunities exist for them to make trouble. You know, multi-tasking and all that.

Via James Hudnall, who seems more ready to believe then I am.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The End Is Nigh ...

You will understand, I hope, if I don't hold my breath waiting for it to actually get here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Sophisticates

This is how the intellectual elites of Europe fling faeces at each other.

"Things have gotten so bad in the Netherlands that even French intellectuals are now accusing us of “unacceptable cowardice” because of the way Ayaan Hirsi Ali was treated recently."

The elegant flourish of modulated nuance on display here is truely awe inspiring. I now understand why George W. Bush is regarded so lightly from these quarters. There's just no way that direct and honest declarative statement can compare.

Via Instapundit, who grabbed the John Cusack line right off.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Advice; it's worth what you pay for it

I wrote what follows as a comment here. Upon reflection, I wish I'd had opportunity to proffer the same to my own son at the same point of growth in his life. Daughter wasn't having any in her time, and she turned out well enough, so grain of salt and all that.

"Let me try a different tack on this and confirm for you “Jay” that you are indeed “all grown up”. Next comes the really hard part, filling out into a fully developed man as well. You’ve probably heard the aphorism’s, having the tools but not knowing what to do with them and the like.

Dbltap, Dr. T and Mike of the Dueling Pistols all offer excellent advice. I would specifically suggest that you spend the next two years concentrating on four activities; establishing your professional credentials, creating your personalised living space, maximising your physiological development and, finally, becoming as well above average as you are capable of in some mixed gender activity (dancing being the classic choice, but music/singing is a good alternative if you have the basic qualities required). Most importantly of all, stop looking for “female action” - no offense stud, but you really don’t know what to do with it yet or, more importantly, to protect yourself from what else often travels with it. Not just the usual Tab “A” into Slot “B” and cooties worries, serious as they are, but the diversion of your efforts away from developing you and toward supporting her. It sounds a little cold-hearted at times, but the only person in this entire universe you absolutely have to live with is yourself. The more comfortable you are with being him, the more likely you will be attractive to women.

A final note of encouragement; towards the later portion of this period, you’ll notice different attempts by women to attract your attention to them. Enjoy it for what it is, but don’t go crazy - there are any number of “right” women for you depending upon what stage of life you are at. Take the time to check out which of the women actually available to you (sadly, movie-starlet-of-your-choice probably isn’t going to be one of them. I know. Man Up, as the lady advises.) and also seems to be headed the same direction you want to go. I have confidence you’ll be able to take things from there with no more then the usual problems that come with the complete and utter destruction of the life you’ve worked so hard to establish all these years.

So, get a job and get good at it, make your own place to live, join a gym and try out a wide variety of “guy things” and, very important, learn an activity that women want to interact with you at. You might want to consider investing in some subtle crowd management skills toward the end too.

Oh, and resist the whole Casanova thing - it has it’s own down side ... you don’t even want to know, trust me."

More sincere words were never authored; their veracity is pending independent confirmation.

YMMV and all that.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's excessive?

Yesterday evening, while I was at work, Instapundit posted a follow-up piece on the actuality vs our perception of the failings of government. Prof. Reynolds provides an example from his academic history that employs a trivial-seeming incident to illustrate a systemic problem. He stops short of promulgating any corrective action however. Do you remember that old saying about wise men and fools? Something about daring to tread?

Watch this!

The problem is essentially unresolvable working within the existing governmental structure. There is no incentive to alter the present arrangement for those who are direct beneficiaries of public largess and a positive dis-incentive to dismantle the arrangement for those who achieve their social/political goals through it's exercise.

The US government's appearance of malfeasance stems from the discord between the ringing phrases used to announce it's arrival on the international scene and the reservations it simultaneously imposed to determine which of it's then-newly declared citizens actually exercised electoral control over it.

Without attempting to rehash the arguments of each restriction, sufficient to say that the very presence of restrictions virtually guaranteed their abuse by someone at some point in the ordinary course of events. That being the case, the choice then comes down to either jacking up the penalty for being abusive (which has it's own limits and degradations of social order - see our present Drug War, for example), or removing the restriction entirely from the political equation. Since this is the option our intervening forebears have chosen, it falls to us to make their selection function in some semblance of the original proposal.

You know, the US Constitution?

The problem is fundamentally one of structure. Our national political edifice was never intended to extend nearly so broadly into state and local affairs as it has come to do. That it does so is at least in part the result of the lack of a commensurate alteration of the executive authority the original structure put in place.

By restricting the franchise to those who had a vested interest in limiting the actions of the elected, the Constitutional framers sought to create a stable dynamic balance between the competing interests within our national society. The subsequent removal of the restrictions to franchise, without altering the executive arrangement as well, created the appearance of executive excessiveness much in the current political news. Which authority isn't actually excessive, only lacking the intended restrictive balance originally provided.

While I enjoy discussion of the US Constitution, I recognise that the process is essentially pointless beyond the furtherance of my and others personal education. Whatever resemblance there may be between the Constitution itself and the present day government it is said to empower resides solely in our conscious effort to maintain that illusion. I knowingly contribute to that maintenance mostly because the alternative is so friggin' scary. I've been in country's that no longer exist. I'm willing to do, or at least put up with, some pretty unpleasant things to avoid such an eventuality in my own.

But not anything. Which is another topic for another day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The bad with the good

I'm a fan of Keith Laumer's (and others) series of BOLO stories, but the journey from here to there is never as smooth as one's memory would have it years later. Witness yet another innovation along the bumpy path to autonomous machines. It can't all be feel-good DARPA-type challenges, can it?

Via Instapundit, who fails to note the BOLO connection this time. Really bad strategy that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm not crazy enough yet

Want to see something that will amaze you? Go here and click "play".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Kim du Toit, in a post dated yesterday, provides an entertaining but disturbing look at America and how we do business. Following the link to his defense of the three martini lunch is rewarding too.

I realise that our country's having been founded by religious extremists and the victims of same had an early impact on our course of development. I'm not convinced that accounts for the result Kim laments now, though. Human psychology is too complex and adaptive for that to be the case, I think.

Americans are acknowledged to be astonishingly productive in their labors; I wonder if we quite understand what else we are giving up in the course of being so provident. I think most adults realise that life is a series of compromises between what is desirable and what is available. I confess I do not understand why that seems to so anger us as a society.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Well, It Must Be True Then

This article in the New York Times recounts various instances of the Islamic strategy to attack the ideas that drive non-Muslim societies. Readers of websites like Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs will be long familiar with these efforts, but it's nice to see the "paper of record" finally making note of events.

I'm curious, does this mean that we can expect a public realisation that we are at war because someone else says we are sometime soon? I know there's this streak of independence that resides deep in the American character; I've just never known it to be quite so dissociated from reality as it has been of late. This latest "revelation" adds hope that a national turn back to the real world is in the offing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm off - See Update below for a follow-up range report

Should anyone wish to speak with me, I'll be here until I get tired.

UPDATE: Aaahh, that's better.

So, I can still make human heart-sized holes in paper at 30 to 35 feet slow fire (8 rounds in under a minute) and the same again at 15 feet rapid fire (8 rounds in under 3 seconds). If I ever have to engage an interactive target, that will just have to be good enough. I wouldn't want to try weak-hand shooting at much beyond 15', but still managed to keep them in the same sized group (though at a much slower rate of fire). All over the place after the first shot left-handed though, so every shot has to be a first shot as a result.

The range bag is a couple hundred rounds (of .45 acp) lighter and I've used the last of the 200 gr FMJ bullets I had. It's remarkable the difference an additional 30 grains weight can make in perceived recoil.

The Millet sights I had Steve Prater install last month are a definite improvement on the factory sights supplied by Colt.

While at the range, I bought a Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazine to compare with my usual Wilsons. The McCormick spring seemed a bit stiff for the last two rounds, but that may correct with additional use. The workmanship seemed comparable to the Wilson's although the metal used felt lighter. I experienced no feed problems, but the mouth of the McCormick mag is differently enough shaped to that of the Wilson mag as to make loading a bit more difficult procedure. There's less area in which to insert the lip of the cartridge into the mag than is the case with a Wilson. That said, the McCormick mag cost's essentially half what the Wilson does. This may have been something of an unfair comparison, but the McCormick product isn't outclassed by the Wilson offering. I suggest that McCormick's Shooting Star line is a very viable option between what's offered by the factory and the $30+ each Wilson's.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I need a larger box

How smart are you? - Intelligence Test

For all my rocks, you see.

Via Tamara K who seems a little slow to figure out that one's final score is weighted by how quickly one was able to complete the test, not by one's privy preferences.

Remington 870 in 20 ga

This link is for Nate, who insists his interest is for his wife.

I do have to point out, once his son grows to be taller than the gun is, about Nate's height now actually, should he learn to shoot with this gun the boy won't have any insecurity issues to deal with.

Which has to be a plus for the boy with his genetic inheritance and all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


(CNN) -- A sheriff's deputy who killed six young people at a house party in Crandon, Wisconsin, apparently died after shooting himself three times in the head with a .40-caliber pistol, the state attorney general said.

That's some shootin' pard.

Via Tamara K

Preparation Debate

Stanley Kurtz has this piece posted in NRO's The Corner, with this follow up at the same place.

Frankly, I'm not convinced that a replication of the cold war infrastructure is our best national option. Certainly, some degree of preparedness for the immediate, short term period following a nuclear or similarly destructive attack is needed. I am unconvinced that some elephantine, government-run national system is the best option though.

I believe that a greater emphasis on individual capability ought to be encouraged through the tax code and other government mechanisms. Shelters don't maintain themselves, nor do the stochpiled supplies self-rotate to maintain freshness. Individual ownership of the shelter is more likely, if not guaranteed I'm afraid, to encourage maintenance of the total shelter at lesser public expense.

I grew up in the high desert region of Southern California. Earthquake was (and remains) an ever-present possibility and it was a desert; you kept a certain amount of food and water stored as a matter of routine. Perhaps, that youthful experience has colored my expectations, but I think that more of my fellow citizens will survive an attack if they have become conditioned to fend for themselves then if they remain reliant upon government or anyone else for their welfare. Has the lesson of FEMA in the immediate post-Katrina period faded from memory already?

Via Rand Simberg

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

They did what?

Why do I feel certain Mr. Wilner isn't a fellow Texican?

What's wrong with people today?

Local news.

I'd seriously consider moving, but I'm fairly certain this sort of weirdness goes on pretty much everywhere. At least here it's easy keep an eye out for the loonies, they're so eager to self-identify.

Here's a tip, dude; get a pair of scissors and use 'em. Then you can submit your name for inclusion in the "self respect" and "dignity" categories instead.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Afghanistan Campaign

From the fairly-new-to-me blog abu muqawama, comes this link to an editorial by David Rohde in the Oct. 5th edition of the New York Times. In which, Mr. Rohde examines the US Army's inclusion of academic anthropologists into the 82 Airborne's operations in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan.

Initial reports are that this embedding of academics with warriors has produced several early success's that would have eluded the traditional responses military doctrine prescribes. Which in turn allows the soldiers to concentrate their efforts more accurately, while their involvement in the process encourages further cooperation from local Afghan citizens.

Hearts and minds operations aren't new to the Army by any means; what is new is the acceptance of such operations by senior command staff and the melding of such non-traditional military responses into official combat doctrine. In the past, such "experiments" have ultimately fallen to the wayside in post-combat draw downs of forces during that semi-mythical period known as "peacetime".

Mr. Rohde notes the presence of academic resistance to their professional inclusion into military operations without delving into the underlying motivations driving this resistance. I confess that I am not hopeful that that argument will receive as evenhanded an airing as Mr. Rohde has begun, but am willing to leave that battle for another time. I am eager to watch how the US military further incorporates these non-traditional opportunities into their arsenal.

Now, if Abu Muqawama would just lighten up on the RA knee jerk response to intellectual stimulation, his own work would be improved, I think. Nonetheless, his is a page to check regularly.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I Know The Answer

In his contribution to the forthcoming November edition of Vanity Fair magazine, Christopher Hitchens writes on the brief life and exemplary death of a young man. As part of Hitchens' examination of the surviving family's response, and his own reaction to his ephemeral contribution to Mark Daily's act of ordinary valor, he poses a philosophical question:

"He could have had any career path he liked ... Why are we robbed of his contribution?"

Here is your answer, Mr. Hitchens.

He did; and we aren't.

Lieutenant Daily's considered decision to lead troops into combat against our country's self-declared enemies must be regarded as the path he most desired to follow. Mark Daily did not lack for options, as Mr. Hitchens delicately observes, and chose the robust, direct action that still seems somehow unnatural to our Christopher, even now. The fact that Lt. Daily's decisions lead to his dying in the act of defeating that enemy is not unusual, for all it's abruptness. Living and ultimately dying to preserve our civilisation - our friends and family writ large, if you will - is simply the ordinary course of events, and the ultimate contribution, any of us can contrive. Mark Daily can't be said to have gotten off easily, for all that he got there early. Of a certainty though, his contribution is all around us, as hopefully will be our own after we are gone.

It is by their deeds that we know them;
will they know us, come the day?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sorry, Mind The Snark

This editorial in USA Today should make fine fodder for liberal/progressive self-flagellation and excoriation. In the competition between integrity and funding, which do you think has a better chance among politicians?

More (sorta) Electric Cars

Continuing the vein of Tuesday's post, there is this article in Wired magazine about GM's new SUV hybrids. If that's the difference between the possible and the available then my old Dodge stays. It at least has one compelling feature, it's paid for.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

To the Bridges of Isfahan

Well under them anyway, which is where these guys will likely still find a discrete welcome.

Such at least was the conventional wisdom on the topic back in the day. All those guys kissing and holding hands outside the Iranian's men only clubs weren't gay ... and truth be told they likely weren't, as the term is understood in the US today. In my own judgement (from personal exposure to the Iranian social environment) is that it is a distinction without a practical difference on the individual level and a profound difference on the societal level of consideration.

In Iran, if you want to experience gay love, you can find it almost anywhere men congregate; if you want gay sex, look under the bridges.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I'm Not Certain It's News ...

I have no idea how well, or even if, this might work and haven't time to google around to find out what's the what on it right now. Duty squalls and all that. I do wonder if a unit big enough to run my truck is being contemplated though. Thirty years between fill-ups is just crazy, right?

Via James Hudnall