Saturday, March 28, 2015

I think he's done this before

I have no idea of the backstory to this video, but Dude 1 is talking on a cellphone when Dude 2 charges him with a baseball bat.  Dude 1 has some very effective moves.

Nice chokehold.  Dude 2 was out cold.  I suspect Dude 1 had done this (or something like this) before.

(Dude 2 is also fortunate he didn't try that on someone carrying a gun.  Under those circumstances, a baseball bat is a potentially lethal weapon any way you look at it, so such an attack would have justified a rather stronger response, IMHO.)


Shooting blankety-blanks?

Courtesy of a link at Maddened Fowl, we learn that no less than five Americans have shot themselves in the unmentionables over the past few years.

Personally, I'm sure there have been more than five cases.  Ever since the advent of the Glock pistol with its 'safe action' system, followed by a host of imitators as soon as its patent protection ran out, I've been aware of the potential for accidental discharges from firearms so equipped.  Without an external safety, there's nothing stopping the trigger from being depressed accidentally if something gets into the trigger guard.  Those of us who carry pistols in our pockets on occasion know that danger very well.  Most of us compensate by using a pocket holster that covers the trigger, or a firearm with a long double-action trigger pull that can't be easily discharged (e.g. a Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver).  However, many who haven't thought things through don't take such precautions.

During my service as a prison chaplain, I can recall at least three inmates who were nicknamed 'Stumpy' for reasons that should be obvious in the light of the above.  All three carried Glock pistols in their waistbands or their pockets without the added security of a decent holster.  All three suffered the consequences (literally).  The teasing to which they were subjected by their fellow inmates must have made their term of incarceration immeasurably more unpleasant . . . not to mention their (lack of) prospects (in the sexual sense at least, and most likely in others as well) when they were discharged.

Please, dear readers, if you pocket- or waistband-carry a firearm, make sure you use a holster that covers the trigger?  Pretty please?  I'd rather have your interest peaked, not sadly foreshortened.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Opportunist fisher

This made me laugh.

Cheeky, isn't he?


In Memoriam: John Renbourn

One of the seminal figures of the English folk-rock and folk-jazz music revival of the 1960's and 1970's and founder of the group Pentangle, John Renbourn, has died.  The Telegraph writes:

John Renbourn, who has died aged 70, was an innovative acoustic guitarist whose pioneering finger style not only provided great impetus to the 1960s folk scene but also influenced rock guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. His informal 1966 album Bert & John, with Bert Jansch, was a landmark in the development of the British folk movement and remains a highly influential work in the field of folk music accompaniment.

Yet Renbourn’s mastery of a wide variety of styles, including classical, medieval, jazz, blues and world music, and his eagerness to explore fresh techniques, endeared him to musicians from a variety of genres.

There's more at the link.

There are so many musical examples of John Renbourn's work that it's almost impossible for me to choose just one.  I've therefore chosen a simple melody, made famous by Simon & Garfunkel.  Here's an instrumental rendition of 'Scarborough Fair'.

Timeless and lovely.  May he rest in peace.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Welcoming a newborn elephant

I was delighted to see video of a newborn baby elephant taking its first steps at the Londolozi Private Game Reserve in South Africa.  I know Londolozi well - or rather, I used to back when I still lived in that country.  I've seen this elephant behavior before on several occasions.  You can read about the event here.

I suggest watching the video in full-screen mode.

Another thing:  if you see elephant behavior like that - the tightly clustering females, I mean - get the hell out of their way!  They're being very maternal and loving towards the baby . . . and that means they're absolutely deadly to anything and anyone they consider might represent any threat at all.  I've personally seen a lion about fifteen feet across and one inch thick in the Kruger National Park.  According to the ranger with us, it had probably decided it was going to snack on a little Mtoto (baby elephant) - and Mtoto's mommy had decided it wasn't.  Guess who won?


Remembering "A Man in Full"

I've frequently mentioned in these pages the name of the late, great Jeff Cooper, one of the most important figures in firearms theory and practice since World War II.  A DVD presentation about his life is titled 'Jeff Cooper: A Man in Full'. That's a pretty good summation of who and what he was. I had the privilege of meeting him in South Africa many years ago, and never forgot what I learned from him. It helped to keep me alive on more than one occasion.

In the NRA magazine 'American Rifleman' there's a regular feature called 'Throwback Thursdays'.  The latest is an article dating back to 1993 about Jeff Cooper by the late, equally legendary firearms writer Finn Aagaard, a fellow African whom I also held in high regard.  Here's an excerpt.

Cooper has written that "Man fights with his mind. His hands and his weapons are simply extensions of his will...” He says that of the 50 or so of his students who have been involved in lethal confrontations, not one student claimed to have saved his life by his dexterity or his marksmanship, but rather by his mindset.

He defines the combat mindset as “...that state of mind which ensures victory in a gunfight. It is composed of awareness, anticipation, concentration and coolness. Above all, its essence is self-control. Dexterity and marksmanship are prerequisite to confidence, and confidence is prerequisite to self-control.”

Cooper wrote about this new doctrine of practical pistolcraft, and presently he was being asked to teach it, mostly overseas. Working with the “good guys” in hot spots in Latin America, Europe and Africa, he evolved simple and effective ways of teaching the modern technique.

. . .

A man of many parts is Jeff Cooper, apart from being the guru of the combat pistol, warrior (as all true men are at bottom), Marine officer, spook, swordsman, bon vivant, historian, scholar, adjunct professor of police science, connoisseur of fast cars, expert rifleman and big game hunter, adventurer (“peril — not variety — is the true spice of life”), philosopher, NRA director, a superb writer and author with a wonderful command of the language, father and grandfather, husband to one of the most gracious, charming and delightful of ladies (doubt not her core of steel, though — else how could she have managed Jeff for more than 50 years?), a seeker of excellence whose creed is Honor, Duty, Country, a man with a great gusto for life, and, perhaps above all, a teacher.

. . .

... he is truly the father of the modern technique of the pistol. Others helped evolve it — and it continues to evolve — but he put it all together, promoted it, and taught it. No one since Samuel Colt has had a greater impact on practical pistolcraft than Jeff Cooper.

There's more at the link.

I have most of Col. Cooper's books in my permanent collection.  If you haven't read them yet, you're in for a treat.  His volumes of memoir and personal philosophy, listed below, are my favorites.  Click on a book title to be taken to its page at

All are highly recommended reading.


A father gives his daughter to her husband

I laughed out loud at parts of this . . . and found it touching, too.

I think she's lucky in her father.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An icy view of the solar eclipse

The recent solar eclipse was filmed by a Polish research station on Spitsbergen, a Norwegian island above the Arctic Circle.  It makes very interesting viewing from the 'land of the midnight sun'.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.

Interesting . . . but cold!


"The man who invented the obstacle course"

That's the title of an interesting article over at Defense Media Network.  It points out, correctly, that the obstacle course or assault course was actually a well-established concept in foreign armies, but was introduced to the US armed forces early in World War II.  Here's an excerpt.

When World War II started in Europe in September 1939, the United States was the 17th largest military power. Its army, containing just 190,000 troops, was effectively a constabulary force. By February 1941, all that had changed. Thanks to the recently passed conscription law, the number of recruits had ballooned almost ten-fold, with millions more to come. The American military had experienced such crash-program increases before, in the Civil War and World War I. And as before, the draftees entering service were raw material. Before they could be shipped out to the new and expanding training centers being prepared for them, they had to be shaped up. While all base and camp commanders had that problem, it was particularly acute for Lt. Col. William M. Hoge.

. . .

Hoge’s most vexing problem [at Fort Belvoir] was how to provide proper military outdoor physical exercise training. Because he was located on a peninsula, he couldn’t expand. Space was at a premium.

It was while trying to figure out a solution one day to the physical fitness problem that he recalled one of his subordinates, Paul W. Thompson, had spent a year in Germany as an attachĂ©. Calling Thompson into his office, Hoge asked him, “What in the hell do the Germans do to get exercise for their men? They have much less area than we have.” Thompson told him about specially designed fields filled with a variety of trenches and constructions that the men had to overcome through climbing, crawling, swinging, hopping, and jumping.

Hoge brought in the officer responsible for physical training and the three drew up a blueprint for the Army’s first obstacle course. In an interview conducted years later, Hoge recalled, “It wasn’t as big as a city block from beginning to end, but you did all these things in a short space. You’d run, climb walls, jump over ditches, crawl through pipes, walk on logs over running streams. I don’t know what all we didn’t try. We put everything we could in that space.”

. . .

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall soon heard about Hoge’s creation and came down to see it for himself. Impressed, he promptly ordered every base and camp to build them.

There's more at the link, including many photographs.

I have bitter, twisted memories of obstacle courses.  The worst is when I spent several months at a particular establishment where weekly run-throughs, carrying telephone poles, truck tires, duffel bags (colloquially known as balsaks) filled with sand, and sundry other impedimenta were part of the routine.  I ended up spending a full forty days in hospital as a result of an infection.  Needless to say, after so long in bed I lost a lot of my physical conditioning.  Not only did that base deny me the sick leave the hospital had ordered, but I was made to participate in a fitness contest over the obstacle course that very weekend.  Teams were penalized for every time one of their members couldn't complete an evolution, or get over an obstacle in the specified time, or anything like that.  Thanks to my weakened condition, I amassed over thirty penalty points for my team - some of whom had placed bets on the result, and beat me up that night for 'making them lose'.

(I filed charges over that, including over the [illegal] denial of my hospital-authorized sick leave.  I was threatened with all sorts of dire consequences for daring to 'buck the system', but I had the documentation to prove my case.  In the end I was transferred to a much nicer unit, the charges were allowed to lapse, and those responsible for the screw-up received 'administrative reprimands', whatever that meant . . . not a lot, I suspect.  The staff at that base looked after its own.)

Anyway, I was interested to read how the obstacle course came to the US Army.  I wonder how many veterans have longed to pee on General Hoge's grave because of that?


Doofus Of The Day #825

Today's award goes to four constables of the Jharkhand police force in India.

An embarrassed Jharkhand police on Saturday suspended four constables after it emerged that they had taken along a convicted prisoner to a redlight area in neighbouring West Bengal, a top official said, exposing gaping holes in prison security.

On Friday, the police personnel had escorted the prisoner, serving a seven-year prison term for murder, for a health check-up at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, around 200 km from the Koderma jail.

However, instead of returning to Koderma, the constables took the prisoner to a redlight area at Kulti in Asansol, a border township in West Bengal.

Asansol is around 230 km from Ranchi, a three-hour drive by road.

Jail sources their act came to light only after a team of Asansol police raided the red light area and arrested the policemen, who carried arms, but sported civil dress.

. . .

The prisoner, identified as Baiju Yadav, returned to the prison on Friday night and told authorities that he was “forcibly” taken to the red light area, jail sources said.

The four police personnel, who are said to have been drunk at the time of the raid, are in custody of Asansol police.

There's more at the link.

I've heard of sleeping on the job . . . but never sleeping around on the job!  Did they 'treat' the prisoner to the services of one of the ladies of negotiable virtue, as well as themselves?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A World War II bomber pilot tells his story

Last week, during a Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' thread, former B17 pilot Carl Estersohn answered questions from readers about what it was like to fly and fight during World War II.  Here's a brief series of excerpts.

IKingJeremy: How did you and your fellow airmen keep their spirits up during war?

CarlEstersohn: We drank a lot of beer, hahaha! We would go to London every 3-4 days... we'd go to the dance halls, dance with the pretty girls, and that's about all we could do, because London was at war, and they were being bombed, and it wasn't really that safe a place, but we managed to survive.

hurtsdonut: That's amazing, dancing while being bombed.

CarlEstersohn: Yeah, well, we didn't have a choice! If we wanted to go to London to be entertained, that was the only place we could go. And everything wasn't really available, it was wartime, there were a lot of restrictions - there were no restaurants, there were taxis available but they were few & far between, difficult to get, there were a lot of Americans over there waiting for the invasion, and a lot of the guys that were flying were going - and that's what took up the limited stuff. They were very good to us. We were made to enjoy English beer, which was quite a feat! That's all there was. There was very little food. They had eating clubs, here and there throughout London. If you belonged to one, you could get some chicken or maybe steak - I think they were cooking horsemeat steaks at that time. They were pretty good, hahah!

. . .

kinglyryan: What was your worst experience in WWII, and what was your best?

CarlEstersohn: My worst experience and my BEST experience?

Well, my worst experience was when I got shot down during one of my raids, and landed in Belgium, which fortunately was in Allied hands. The Allied armies had pushed their way up through France, and up into Belgium, on their way to Holland, so I was not made a prisoner of war. And myself and my crew got back to our base in England, and we managed to fly all together 35 missions.

My best experience during the war, that's kinda tough, I'd say my last mission was probably my best because that was knowing that I wasn't going to be subjected to enemy action anymore, and I took over somebody's job as a planning officer, to send missions out, and brief the other guys as to where they were going and where they were supposed to do.

I was still an officer. I didn't have a title, I was just Lieutenant Estersohn. And later I became a captain, and I went home on a troop ship, just about the same time as the armistice was declared in the German theater of war. First week in May 1945. And I got home, became a civilian, and went back to school.

. . .

Sercos: How did your experiences during the war change you as a human being? Would you say that overall it was for better or for worse?

CarlEstersohn: I would say, overall, it was for the better.

It gave me a chance to get my priorities straight.

It gave me a chance to look at so-called "crises" with a different outlook, different expectation and different way of handling it.

I don't mean to say that war is a good thing, in ANY respect.

But it does affect you. I think that any person that's been at war, or any kind of skirmishes, can say the same thing. It changes your values.

. . .

MethMachine: Did the war change your outlook on life? If so, how?

Thanks for your service, and for doing this AMA!

CarlEstersohn: You're welcome!

And of course, absolutely. You come to realize that all the things you thought were so important are not really, because life is what's important, and without it, there's nothing. So you understand that... whatever problems you have are minuscule compared to having to go out and fight a war.

Which very people realize today. Very few people experience.

But that's about the story, your outlook on life, it sure does change.

Priorities change. Your values change.

There's much more at the link.

Sobering, thought-provoking stuff.  My war was years later and on another continent, but I learned many of the same lessons.  Thanks for your service, Mr. Estersohn.


I want this as a watch band

As soon as I saw the promotional material for the forthcoming Leatherman Tread multitool, I couldn't help but imagine:  what would this be like as a watchband?

My next thought was:  how many heart attacks would it give TSA inspectors if you tried to carry it through their checkpoints at the airport?  Just mention 'multitool' in their hearing and it's good enough for an X-rated pat-down.


EDITED TO ADD: A commenter informs me that it is, indeed, available as a watch: but at an estimated price of $500-$600, that's too rich for my blood.

A stunt for the ages

I was intrigued to read about this stunt performed by Buster Keaton in the 1928 silent movie 'Steamboat Bill Jr.'

According to the book 'Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase' by Marion Meade:

As he stood in the studio street waiting for a building to crash on him, he noticed that some of the electricians and extras were praying. The window was just big enough to give two inches of clearance on either side. Keaton drove a nail in the ground to mark his position. When the moment came and the house front came down, he froze. The open window hit him exactly as planned. Afterwards, he would call the stunt one of his greatest thrills. He said later that he did not care whether he lived or died: "I was mad at the time, or I never would have done the thing."