November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving from W.V.
Larry & Jo Ann

November 22, 2006

Pecuiliar Breed

So, on to other happenings. As you know, this past weekend was Remembrance Day, which I enjoyed immensely. Dave Dull had lost his Nextel a few weeks ago, so neither Matt nor I could get ahold of him for any details, so I met up with Matt on the ‘ol fitty John street and we rode up there together. Our plan was to just bar-hop for a while and hope we ran into anyone from the 6’th. Well, lemme tell ya, it worked! Matt decided that our first stop would be The Gingerbread Man being as it was last years most popular Friday night haunt. Not only did we find them, but we had to force the door open because ALL of the 6th were standing right in front of the alley entrance drunk as a legion of sailors swimming in a rum puncheon. Our entrance was quite a comical scene, if you ask me!!! You shoulda seen it, Jesse! Matt and I push our way in and are instantly recognized by Tom who, not realizing in his inebriated state how much his voice travels,
exclaims at the top of his lungs “LOOK HONEY!!!!.......VAGABONDS!!!!! Heads turn toward us and Matt and I are soon drowning in hand-shakes, how-ya-beens, good-to-see-you’s, glad-ya-made-it’s, and beer (Grolsch German Lager was my primary selection for the evening). I believe Matt indulged himself in Becks. So, after that comes the normal small talk, mostly comprised of “whutcha-been-up-to” and “how-is-and-have-you-heard-from-Jesse”. Hence, you can guess at the rest of the night. You’ve seen, you’ve heard, you know. The only other portion outside the norm was when John Cappazzo pulled everyone out into the alley to read aloud the letter you sent to him and the rest of the unit. Your address was then passed around and Z vowed to post it in the members area of the company website. Expect an influx of letters from them. However, don’t worry…..I made sure that everyone knew to send only small envelopes and certainly no care packages (because the DI’s inspect them) unless you were to specifically request anything. Of course, HAHA….the jokes begin flying about how one person will send you an enormous box with a black rubber cock in it, or someone else will send an oversized “Happy Kwanza” card, or the next person will send an autographed portrait of their hairy ass in a “Thinking of You” card. You know the routine.

November 21, 2006

I'd buy that for a dollar!

Recently, the U.S. Mint announced that, despite the failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and the Sacajawea dollar coin, they are going to try again ... this time with a "presidents" dollar coin.
The quarter-sized, brassy-tinted coin will bear the face of a president - a different one every three months. The presidents will be shown in chronological order, with each appearing only once (except for Grover "I have big bones" Cleveland - the only president to be elected to non-consecutive terms). A president must be dead for at least two years to be depicted, which means (with Clinton and Dubya all in fairly youthful circumstances and vigorous health) that the mint has around 19 years worth of pugs to plug their slug.
Of course, the new coin won't last that long. I doubt that Thomas Jefferson will make it onto a goldbuck. Because the Mint simply refuses to learn from its failures ... but on the whole, that might say something good about the state of our nation.
Do they honestly believe the Sacajawea and Anthony dollars failed because of the PICTURE? Do they think that the cheesy "gold" coloration of the Sacky fooled anyone? Do they think that making yet another coin that is virtually indistinguishable from the quarter is going to make people use the dang thing?
My old professor of things Byzantine spent a large amount of time on the history of coinage. As the Empire began to fade after only a millennia or so, the "solidus" - the Roman gold "dollar" - that had been literally the "gold standard" throughout the known world, began to be altered. They (Mint officials and thieves) dished it, cupped it, abased the gold with alloy, fiddled with the size ... all in an attempt to "stretch" the metals in the coins. Rather quickly, merchants and even citizens began hording "real" solidii, or even buying the raw gold, because the coins being issued by the Empire were of questionable value.
Even in more modern times, there are precedents. I am sure you can recall the old movie cliche' of a shady customer biting a proferred coin? That's because, when the coins had actual intrinsic value, they were subject to clipping (trimming bits off the edges) and counterfeiting (often with painted slugs of base metal).
So over the past couple of decades, the U.S. Mint has (they believe) weaned us away from coins with intrinsic value. About the only coin worth close to its face value is the penny - the others are all alloys of base metal with no nickle or silver in them. And they would "retire" that one-cent icon as "too costly."
The failure of the cheaply made and cheap-feeling Sacajawea and Anthony dollars was largely an indicator of the perhaps subconscious need for the public to feel "value" in a dollar. A "dollar" that is tactilely indistinguishable from lesser coins is doomed to fail.
And that may be a positive thing ... for the sake of the American Empire, at least the illusion of a dependable coinage must be maintained.
I'll take paper or plastic bucks, but keep the fake-gold tokens for Chuck E. Cheese.

November 12, 2006


November 11th, 1918. After 4 years of the most destructive war until that time, the guns fell silent. Dazed, starved soldiers on both sides crawled out of the mud of the trenches to celebrate. An armistice had been signed, the peace treaty would come later. In America, it was celebrated first as armistice day and now as Veterans Day. In Germany it came to be called "The black day of the German Army". I lost a great uncle who had enlisted to go fight the Hun. He never made it to Europe, having died of pneumonia on the trip across the Atlantic. He was buried at sea by the British sailors whose ship was transporting our troops, and my family received a communique from the British admiralty detailing the circumstances of his death and the longitude and latitude of his burial. Europe had lost three empires and the cream of an entire generation of their bravest and best. Astonishingly, in less than 4 years, The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires had disappeared. England lost her globe spanning dominance and barely retained the shards of empire. In 4 short years the world had changed from the exuberant idealism of the late Edwardian age, to the multiple morasses of communism, epidemic influenza, and a shattered and shell-shocked psychosis. Four Years! Ayn Rand notes that when modern civilizations collapse, they tend to do so very quickly. As the web of commerce and communication begins to shred, the pace of the downward slide of civilization increases exponentially.
This essay is dedicated to those who have done the most to fight against the collapse, and in doing so have time and again kept the enemy from the gates. I am speaking of the veterans that we honor on the 11th day of the 11th month. My wife's father was stationed in the Philippines shortly before the Japanese attacks there and at Pearl Harbor. He narrowly escaped the Bataan death march and fought in the Pacific for "the Duration" He was wounded in the legs by Japanese machine gun fire and was advised he might never walk again. He worked and prevailed and remained ambulatory for the rest of his life. My wife also had an uncle who was killed in the Ardennes in 1944 during the German winter offensive. She lost a brother in Vietnam and welcomed home another brother from Desert Storm. My Uncle Harry was with G2 and landed in Normandy on June 7th. He was the first American intelligence officer allowed into Templehof Airport in Berlin after the soviets occupied what was left of that city.
Then came Korea in 1950. My father, who had received an athletic scholarship to university of Maryland, quit in his first year and enlisted in the United States Air Force. Although at the top of his class for fighter school, he was not permitted to fly combat ops due to a very questionable eye condition. Instead he went to ground school on the first new fighters with the new jet engines. He trained a new cohort of fliers on how these things worked, serviced them as a crew chief, served with the very first AWACS squadron ever formed and worked for the air force into the Vietnam era rebuilding jet engines shipped back from S.E. Asia. That is a picture of him at the top of the page in front of his beloved T-33 Jet Trainer. Because nearly every new pilot in those days started learning on the t-bird, My dad had an opportunity to meet an incredible number of fliers who went on to become Fighter aces, Generals, and astronauts. We celebrated his 75th Birthday at the Udvar Hazy Air Museum in Virginia. My wife can now time the intake and exhaust valves on a Pratt-Whitney R-2800. Talk about a well of knowledge. I am very grateful to have him around.
Remember everyone. The people I have mentioned in these paragraphs did their duty as they saw fit and never complained. Our civilization survives because of their efforts. We must be ever vigilant. The world as we know it today can change in the blink of an eye. Be prepared., and thank a veteran if you know one.
This Land is your land.... Muninn

November 08, 2006


By November 1941, Germany had established itself as the single most powerful military force in Europe. It's armies had inexorably advanced from Germany to Norway in the north to the African desert in the south. From a defeated France in the west to the gates of Moscow in the east. It seemed as if they were unstoppable. Then came the Russian Winter and the first successful Red Army counter attacks . The General staff advised Hitler to pull back to a more easily defended front slightly to the west. Enraged by what he considered cowardice and defeatism, The Fuhrer assumed personal command of all armed forces. The most professional General Staff that had ever existed was purged and replaced by "politically correct Generals". Hitler abandoned the attack on Moscow and turned south into the Ukraine. From there he launched further attacks into the Caucasus Mountains in the first true "War for Oil". Hitler was a politician and not a General. He was a Corporal for 2 years in WWI. His lack of strategic military training and suicidal "No retreat" orders led to devastating defeats at Stalingrad, El-Alamein, Tunis, and eventually the entire eastern front. By May 1945, less than 4 years later, Berlin lay in ruins, Hitler put a bullet in his brain and Germany had been bombed almost back to the Stone Age.
Four years from near total victory to total devastation. Can you Imagine in 4 years a European continent ruled by Sharia Law? Can you Imagine Washington D.C., or New York, or Los Angeles destroyed by nuclear attack and America involved in a three way Civil War between the North, South, and Mexican "Militias" in the southwest? Of course you cannot, anymore than Hitler could see that he had less than 4 years to live and that his Thousand Year Reich would end with him. We must not sacrifice our best interests for"political correctness". We are at war and we must not forget who our enemies are. I have named them before and feel no need to repeat myself. If we spend the next 4 years with our heads up our own nether regions, arguing about how we got where we are and not about where we are heading, don't be surprised if you find yourself in a bunker somewhere wishing that you had not given up your side arm when they came for it. I will not be there with you, I swear to Odin.

November 04, 2006

Vote U.S.A.

Space Ship One. Winner of the $10 Million X-prize. Built by free market Venture Capitalists, Scientists, and private aeronautic experts. First vehicle flown into space by a private citizen. Only in America are such things remotely possible. Next week is a critical mid-term election that may greatly effect the way we do things in this country. Everyone please do your duty as a citizen and vote. It is Your country! It is your future.
My wife and I both voted yesterday as we have the option to start voting a week before the general election. I studied the sample ballots in the newspaper before we went so I would be more informed about the issues on the ballot. It was truly a wonderful time. They asked our names and addresses and entered us as having voted in their computer database, but they did not ask for any I.D. Then we got to try out the new-fangled electronic touch screen voting machines(yes-they still had the old pencil and paper booths with the man behind the curtain, and they seemed to be what everyone else chose to use). The computers were simple and reliable enough that even my wife could not make it crash. On the left side of the machine, behind a plastic window, there was a roll of paper just like the cashiers at the supermarket use. You could visually watch the tape print out your votes on the paper roll and store it automatically back in the machine after confirming your choices. Works O.K for me.
After we voted, we walked next door to the sheriff's office and I renewed my CCW permit which was due to expire next month. It is good for five years and costs a total of $93.00. Then I had to take the application back to the courthouse and have it notarized for another $2.00. After that we walked across the street to the post office and I mailed the letter to Parris Island I had written the night before. While we were out, my wife renewed her drivers license as well.
To paraphrase that credit card commercial:
Carry Permit $95.00
Drivers license $13.00
Voting against 2 new tax increases and the crooks behind them-PRICELESS!!!

Note to those who live in states that do not allow early voting. Due to the expected huge increase in voter turnout and shortage of new voting machines, Republicans are scheduled to vote on Tuesday and Democrats will vote the following day on Wednesday.


November 03, 2006

I spraghen el lingo nationale, savvy?

From the International News Wires
"Several cities in India have been renamed since independence from British colonial rule in 1947 to reflect local languages and nationalist sentiments.
The southern Indian state of Kerala changed the name of its capital from Trivandrum to Thiruvananthapuram in 1991 and in 1995 financial hub Bombay became Mumbai to reflect the Maratha language of Maharashtra state.
The Tamil Nadu state capital of Madras was rechristened Chennai in 1996 and West Bengal's Calcutta became Kolkata in 2001.

Language activists, who have demanded that signboards and billboards be displayed in Kannada as well, have also opposed the introduction of English in primary schools." -- 11/3/2006

I came across this story this morning. I found it provocative, in that India has always been, as a former Brit colony, similar in some regards to the US. They have unique issues (and they smell wierd), but particularly in this whole "multi-ethnic" thing, India and the US face similar challenges.
Right now, every ethnic and linguistic subgroup on the subcontinent is laboring mightily for "ethic identity," just as the various ethnic subgroups within the US seem to be doing. However, while the US has thus far chosen to remain a melting pot, India has elected to acceed to the demands of the "minorities", becoming more and more of a polyglot nation.
So from the Anglo "Bombay", we get "Mumbai" and now, it seems, from "Bagalore", we'll be outsourcing our "help desk" calls to "Bengalaru."
Sure, I know we barely grumbled when Peking became Beijing. I did scratch my head when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and Zambia. But recently (perhaps as my memory becomes ossified), I have found it difficult to keep up with the shifting nomenclature. When the railways in Mumbai were hit by multiple terrorist bombs earlier this year, it took me more than a little while to realize that this was old Bombay that was in the news.
But nomenclature aside, the story went on to mention that much of India seeking to abandon English as its official language, abandoning instruction of English in the schools. Instead, the story said, the literally hundreds of local dialects will be used in schools, on official documents, and so forth.
Bravo, say I. But then, I don't care for India all that much.
Here in America, particularly in those areas where recent immigrants have chosen to en-ghetto themselves in alien-tongued enclaves, there is a similar (though more covert) movement to force the government to use multilingual forms and signage. And that is a real danger ... moreso than many of the "terrors" the politicians and demagogues would have us trembling over.
Not to overstate the case - after all, India was only held together as a "nation" by the force of the British Empire. Its disintegration, like that of the Taj, has been slow, and ponderous, and in a way majestic and peaceful. But in the end, it will be a pile of colorful rubble by a weed-choked reflecting pond of stagnant water. And the bemused survivors won't even be able to argue among each other about why it happened.
It is, perhaps, debatable whether the linguistic fragmentation of India is a symptom or a cause, but it is inarguable that the abandonment of a common tongue is a divisive, rather than a unifying force.
For America, we do not need to look hard for divisive forces within our nation. So while I revel in the addition of new words to American English, the next bureaucrat who hands me a form with Spanish gibberish interlaced in the text is going to have it returned in tiny pieces.
Speak English!
It's the American thing to do.

November 01, 2006

Letter from Parris Island

Just got this letter from a 21 year old friend of mine. He has achieved his goal of getting accepted as a recruit in the United States Marine Corps. Because of a childhood eye injury, he had to get numerous waivers and letters of endorsement to be allowed to join. His recruiter said she had never seen anyone fight so hard to get in to the Corps. He has given me permission to post parts of his letter to the web. Read it.

" Here it is. Parris Island, South Carolina. A pitiful sand flea infested island in the middle of a swamp.The weather though isn't all that bad but the sand fleas are still ridiculous. We always drill in the grass and sand and it stirs them up.

The chow is awesome though. They always got good food and plenty of it. I'm,I mean "This recruit" is talking about Lasagna or country fried steak, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread. Full meals everyday, three times a day. I love that. Only problem is we have very little time to eat it.

Today is training day nine. Next week we go to the gas chamber and in about two or three weeks we go to the rifle range.So far all we have done is drill and go to classes on Law of Warfare, Customs and Courtesies, Marine Corps History etc. Good classes. All helpful. Training day one,which was actually a week after I got here, we got issued our rifles. A:




is what I was issued. We drill with it everyday but have yet to shoot it, field strip it, or even put it in my shoulder. Pretty cool though anyhow.

Well look, I gotta study, so I am going to get on, but I really look forward to hearing from you all. Sincerely, I do.

Keep in touch!"


Armed and Rational

A few years ago (gosh, nearly a decade, I find!) I decided that, because my work required me to visit some dangerous places, I needed a carry permit.
That, in Jawjuh, is readily obtained. In fact, it seemed from the reaction I got from my buddy the Probate Judge, that I was something of an odd duck for wanting to actually obtain a permit for a practice that "evahbody" observed anyway (if without official sanction).
At the time, my shooting skills were only fair, so I a good bit of time at a range run by my friend, Edwin Bradley. I was using a .357 magnum revolver that was beautiful, but awesomely unreliable (it evidently had a weak mainspring).
So I was faced with a choice - repair or replace? Fortunately, the choice was made for me. Bradley, when he was four decades younger, had been armorer for the 24th Infantry Division (which was based at Fort Stewart in Georgia). He had also been a "trick-shot" artist, splitting playing cards, hitting two candles with one bullet (split on an axe head), mirror shooting and so forth.
Anyway, Eddie found me on his range one day, struggling with that wheelgun, and as a gift (and because I published his weight-lifting successes in my paper), he offered to build me a "real gun" ... a 1911. I got the parts mail order (top-o-the-line stuff) and Eddie built me a custom .45 that is amazing for accuracy, touch and (to me) beauty. Judge for yourself.
For a while, I tried various carry options with that wonderful piece. But 1911s are not just heavy, they are huge. Concealed carry became something of a joke.
Eventually, I went looking for something more concealable. I tried a .38 Derringer, but that was a joke - single action, clunky, unreliable, and inaccurate - I would have had more success shouting. I put that one in the cabinet and forgot about it.
Then I went with a .22LR made by Beretta (more because I was attracted to the Beretta name than the gun), but I found that not only was the light cartridge completely worthless in "stopping power" (although totally lethal), it did not have the power to reliably work the action. I sold that one pretty quick.
After much reading, I decided to try out a Walther PPK, because the "kriminale" was both concealable and had modest stopping power. But I quickly found that these are extremely expensive weapons. Worth every penny, I am sure, but on a self-employed journalist's income, also completely out of my reach.
But then, while roaming the tables at the local gun show, I found what looked like a PPK, with a pricetag of under $200 bucks. It was a Makarov. I picked it up, worked the action (schweet!), checked the barrel, checked the chamber ... all good.
So I talked to the vendor - a heavyset good ole boy with a cigar in the corner of his mouth and suspenders - and asked him about the gun. He told me that it was a "Russky" copy of a Walther, made on Walther equipment looted after "Dubya-dubya Deuce". Chambered in 9 millimeter (Makarov), it was, he assured me, every bit as reliable as the German original model, even if it had been built by "goddamcommies".
We chatted a bit, and my boy Ben (who was observing that day, and was pretty happy because I had just bought him a knife at another booth) charmed the socks off the vendor. Eventually, we got the price down to $100 Ameribucks, cash. Swiftly, and before either of us could change our minds, I bought the gun, bought some ammo (at another table), and drove back home, now, at last, in possession of a carrygun.
The next day, I went out to Eddie's range to try out my new piece. It was accurate, smooth, and seemed to knock the tar out of Eddie's steel knockdown targets. It was a tad barky, being so lightweight, but dang, it was an effective little gun and earned my fond regard (not that I wouldn't send it to the bottom of a river were the need to arise). I must have fired off 300 rounds of milspec ammo (all Soviet army green cases) before Eddie came out to see me.
He watched me for a bit. Watched my draw-and-shoot drill. Checked my targets. Nodded. Left. Never said a word.
Then it struck me ...
The next day, I was back on the range with my custom-made Edwin Bradley special 1911 .45, shooting away at targets, enjoying the feel of that fine gun. After a while, Eddie came out, stood watching for a bit. He checked my targets. Then he offered some advice on my stance. We got to talking about history, and his experiences in the Navy during the war (he was on the USS Atlanta AA cruiser in the Pacific). We talked for an hour before I left to cover a government meeting in Pembroke.
As I pulled out of Eddie's farm, I patted the beautiful 1911 .45 in its holster on the passenger seat, and made sure that the Makarov was secure in its holster ... on my belt.
Compassion for one's gunsmith is more than just polite ... it's neighborly.