Thursday, June 30, 2022

Hundreds of detectives quitting NYPD - to criminals' great relief


Yesterday we talked about Seattle's police force and its problems retaining officers, and how this was typical of many big cities.  As if to echo and reinforce the point, the New York Post points out that the NYPD is having the same problem with its detective force - the people who actually investigate crimes and amass evidence for prosecutors.

More than 100 NYPD detectives have retired in June — and another 75 plan to put their papers in next month — as many become frustrated by revolving-door justice and rules that hamstring them in the Big Apple, officials and detectives told The Post.

“That’s going to have a major impact on investigating crimes,” Detectives Endowment Association president Paul DiGiacomo said. “The detective squads are down now as we speak and are investigating more cases. It’s going to have an impact on public safety.”

So far this year, 250 detectives have retired, leaving the total number at about 5,600, which is nearly 2,000 less than two decades ago.

There were 794 detective retirements during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 — and that number dropped down to 395 in 2021. Sources said 100 retirements in just one month is a large number for the NYPD.

The Post also reported earlier this month that cops in general were leaving the force in record numbers.

At his NYPD walkout ceremony at the 105th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday, Queens Detective Jason Caputo, 51, said he had “had enough” ... “It’s not even really crimefighting anymore. You arrest somebody for assault 2 with a weapon and then the person is back at the precinct getting his property the next day. They’re not locking anyone up, even those with records.”

. . .

DiGiacomo ... said cops feel demoralized because of a lack of support from politicians.

“It’s simple,” he said. “Detectives are retiring in historic numbers because they have no support from politicians who care more about criminals than cops and the New Yorkers they protect.”

There's more at the link.

When regular officers are retiring or quitting in large numbers, there are fewer cops on the street to arrest criminals.  When detectives do likewise, there are fewer skilled investigators to gather evidence to convict the guilty - who are thus more likely to be released by the criminal justice system, free to reoffend again.  It's a vicious circle.

Big urban centers in more "traditional" parts of the country appear to be the worst hit by this right now, but it's happening in other cities too.  In our part of the world, not so much.  Here neighbors are still neighbors to a greater extent, and help each other keep an eye on their neighborhood.  I've seen several examples where problem kids - and their parents - were "counseled", preventing the problem from getting out of control, and others where new arrivals received useful advice on the sort of behavior that was, or was not, acceptable.  It's all informal, but it's very effective, particularly when more than one neighbor does the counseling.  It sends a powerful message that we're a community, and we have standards.  It has nothing to do with race, religion or any other such "marker".

I'm afraid that, if enough cops quit, it'll start going beyond "counseling" to more ... ah ... robust methods of communication.  If those don't work, well, there's always the backhoe.  Around these parts, mention of that apparatus appears to get the immediate and whole-hearted attention of those who might scoff at lesser "encouragement" to "straighten up and fly right".  They understand that language.  New Yorkers might not, but they have their own equivalents.  There may be increased demand for fishmongers there soon.


Withdrawing "too much" of your own cash???


I received an e-mail yesterday from a Canadian reader calling himself "Algyploreable".  He's preparing for hard times, just as many of us are, and recounts this incident.

[We have] a "larder" in our spare room that we resupply as we use and we have finally taken the plunge and had a safe installed so that we can have a ready supply of cash/silver on hand. We cashed out a chunk of our investments, the monetary value of which was deposited with our bank here in Canada.

Yesterday I went to our local branch to ask how much notice I needed to give to withdraw $XX thousand in cash, assuming that it would be 24/48hrs. The young teller I was speaking to said that her supervisor was on vacation until next week but if I came back on Monday she could help me. I told her that I needed the money by Friday, and that there must be someone who could facilitate that. She started an email exchange with the branch manager, asking me a question every now and then. One of the questions was "are you buying something?". Canadian banks were only too happy to freeze customer accounts at the behest of the Turdeau government during the Trucker Convoy, so I thought I'd better play their game and told her I was indeed buying a piece of equipment. After much to and fro between the teller and the manager she told me that because the amount was over $25000 a request would have to be put in to a team at head office to see if they would authorize the release of the money. If the authorization was granted I could hopefully get the money in 10 days. This is money that had been deposited by a recognized investment institution......I had not rolled in the week before with a duffel bag full of soiled twenties to deposit.

I became quite angry at this point, however I was cognizant that I was on many cameras and that other tellers were in earshot. I had my hands open, palms down on the counter (no fists) and I told the teller very politely that I wanted "MY" money by the weekend, not whenever the bank authorized me to get it. This led to a flurry of email exchanges and I was asked to take a seat and the manager would come and speak to me. The manager attempted to explain that the steps put in place were for my security as most people don't take that amount in cash from the bank. He suggested that I get a bankers draft to pay for the item I was buying. Time to play their game again. I told him that the guy selling the equipment was giving me a fantastic deal but that he only wanted cash and it needed to be by the weekend. The manager said that he was unable to process that amount in cash without putting in a request to "the team", and asked if I could wait. When I told him I couldn't he did try to come up with a solution (credit where it's due). As long as the amount was under $25000 he was able to authorize that amount, however he would have to order the cash to be delivered next week as they don't hold that amount at the branch. He could also increase my daily cash withdrawal limit so that I could make up the lump sum shortfall through ATM withdrawals over a period of time. I pointed out that if he could authorize amounts under $25000 that I would be happy to do numerous withdrawals that way, over a couple of weeks. Apparently "the team" views that as one withdrawal, but if I could wait three or four months between those withdrawals it wouldn't raise any flags. Once I agreed to the lump sum and daily ATM increase it was time to ask some questions again......all done with a smile and a concerned tone. The old non-conspiratorial me would have told him where to go, but in this brave new Canada I concocted a story that even impressed me. If things go as planned I will have all MY money in the safe by the end of next week.

This is a cautionary tale for Canadians, I have no idea what the banking establishment in the US is up to. It is very obvious here that the bank does not consider your money to be yours and needs some form of government approval for the withdrawal of large sums. Having to wait for the branch to have the required funds on hand is one thing, but needing authorization to withdraw your own money, regardless of the amount, is mind-boggling. When SHTF I can only imagine what an eye-opener it will be for people who think they can waltz into the bank and withdraw their savings. Cash will indeed be king for a while, for those who have it. Any of your Canadian readers might want to think about turning that savings account at the bank into useable funds now while the going is (relatively) good.

I'm sure US banks will be equally obstructionist, not necessarily because they want to, but because government agencies like the IRS want to keep track of big sums in cash.  I was told some years ago by a banking official in Tennessee that if a customer demanded a substantial sum in cash, he'd most likely get it in new banknotes, in serial number order, as received from the printing facility.  That means the IRS, DEA and other agencies know where the block of $100 notes, serial numbers XXXX1 through XXXX9, have gone.  If they show up in the course of normal commerce, the agencies can follow individual banknotes back through the system to figure out where and when they first appeared.  That, in turn, may help identify what that customer bought with them, and possibly where and from whom.  It's not perfect, but it's a lot easier than trying to track used banknotes in no particular sequence.

(This is also why central bank digital currency, or CBDC, is such an attractive concept to the powers that be.  It would completely supplant paper money or coins.  Your income, plus any government support, etc., would be deposited directly into your CBDC account, and you'd spend it by transferring sums from that account to whoever you were buying from.  There would be no cash withdrawals, and every transaction would be traceable.  You'd lose all privacy when it came to buying and selling.  The IRS would know every penny you received and how you spent it;  the DEA, FBI and other agencies would be able to follow your transactions and decide whether any appeared "suspicious", and if so what they were going to do about them;  and so on.  Even better, after an initial period (to allow you to hand over your existing cash in exchange for CBDC's), the use of existing cash can be banned, and the notes declared worthless.  If you happen to have a lot of cash on hand that you daren't deposit, for fear the IRS or others would ask questions about where it came from and its tax status, you'd lose your money. It's a statist's wet dream.)

Miss D. and I aren't wealthy, but we've long made it our policy to keep at least one month's routine expenditure on hand, in cash, just in case.  It won't go far if things go to hell in a handbasket, but if we hit an interruption in normal banking for a few weeks, it'll help keep our heads above water.  I'd love to increase that to six months' supply of cash, but that simply isn't feasible on our income.  (On the other hand, we do have a small stash of 1oz. silver rounds, which are fairly readily accepted by people in our area as a cash equivalent, and they'd stretch our emergency cash further.)  I hope and trust that my readers have made similar arrangements, even if it's only one week's cash on hand.  It can make a powerful difference when the lights go out, and credit or debit cards can no longer be used.

Have any readers recently tried to withdraw large sums in cash in the USA?  How did it go?  Any problems?  Please tell us about them in Comments.


Far too much smoke for there not to be a fire


I'm sure most of my readers have noted the enormous increase in fires and other accidents that have disabled food production facilities throughout the USA, and in other parts of the world.  The true extent of the problem has been masked by the scant attention paid to it in the mainstream media.  However, when the number of incidents is tallied and mapped, an ominous picture emerges.

That's a screenshot of an interactive map providing details of such events over the past couple of years.  It's sobering, isn't it?

Gateway Pundit published a link to that map, plus a detailed list of incidents, in a recent report.  It quotes the map's author as saying:

If I had any doubts about this being on purpose, that is completely gone at this point. It’s almost terrifying seeing what is going on and the majority of people have no idea. Every day something else happens to add to this list. Things are happening so quickly now, that it is mind boggling. Big Tech is covering most of these up or burying them so far down the feed that most people never see them. I have investigative skills that I have used my entire career so I know how to get around all of that or I would never have found what I have.

I had not heard of anyone looking up actual grocery store fires so that is what started me down this path. Once I saw how bad it was and the patterns that are happening it was clear what they are doing, and I am now convinced they are getting people to help with this just like they did with the election. I realize that not all of these are on purpose but once you see how big this is, it cannot be denied that something evil is going on and we are about to have our legs kicked out from under us.

I have over 600 instances so far (I have read or watched every article to confirm it) and I have many more that I am trying to add. Almost 400 of these are just in 2022.

There's more at the link.

Ian Fleming's famous dictum was, "Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is enemy action."  When you get to over 600 times, that's long past the point at which all doubt should have been removed from our minds.  Some of these incidents may be accidents, but I absolutely cannot conceive of a reality in which they're all accidental.  Something or someone is behind them.  When you consider them along with other measures enacted by the Biden administration to cripple farm production (fuel prices, fertilizer costs and lack of availability, EPA and other regulations that hamstring farmers, etc.), I smell several dozen large, hairy rats.

It's not just in America, either.  Consider the Dutch government's efforts to curtail farming in that country - at a time when food shortages and actual famines are daily headline news.  They claim it's to reduce pollution levels, but what about food production?  Isn't starvation more of a problem than pollution?  And why are the mainstream media so silent about it?

We've warned many times in these pages about what's coming.  So have others who can read the signs of the times.  Stock up now, friends.  Pile your emergency food supplies high and deep.  You, your family and your friends are likely to need them.

It's not just food, either.  Our entire culture is about to undergo a sea-change, whether we like it or not.  As Greg Rossi observed on MeWe the other day:

We are all about to have a rude awakening. Some of us are old enough to remember the past. The younger generation has been so spoiled by the goodness of living in the USA, that they have no idea what is coming.

They are about to see why our parents/grandparents drove cars until the wheels fell off. And why it was typical to have one car per family. And why young newlyweds weren’t automatically entitled to a fully furnished house. Or lavish wedding (Do y’all remember when a wedding reception typically occurred in the fellowship hall of the church? And the only food was wedding cake, mints, mixed nuts and punch?) A honeymoon might include a night at a hotel, or if they were really lucky, they might get a weekend in Panama City Beach, FL or up on Cheaha Mountain.

There weren’t restaurants on every corner, because people only RARELY ate out. They cooked every meal at home. Or packed a lunch for the road. And they never wasted leftovers. Picky eaters? You either ate what your Mama cooked or you did without. AND NO ONE CARED. We are about to rediscover potato patties, soup, hash, biscuit pudding, rice pudding and bread with gravy. NO FOOD WAS WASTED.

People had few outfits. You had church clothes and play clothes. And you took care of those clothes. Holes were mended and it didn’t matter if you liked the clothes or not. You wore what you had.

And people didn’t snack or eat all day long either. People were rarely overweight. Because they didn’t have an unlimited supply of food at their fingertips.

People weren’t being constantly entertained. Kids played outside and made up games with their imaginations. No fancy vacations. There was no money for all these extras that we consider “Rights”.

Maybe people will finally wake up and realize that it is a PRIVILEGE to be an American. And feel gratitude and quit being such entitled whiney babies.

People shed blood and died to give us this life.


Hard to argue with that . . .


Wednesday, June 29, 2022



Courtesy of Watts Up With That:

After this, it might be a while until climate activists try glueing themselves to anything in France.

Activists should do their research before pulling a stunt like that. US and UK police might be soft on disruptive protestors, but there are some police forces you just don’t mess with.

No s***, Sherlock!!!

A friend of mine commented, upon watching that video clip, that it was "quite delightful!"


In many big cities, responding to crime is no longer the police force's top priority


This report from Seattle makes disturbing reading for those living there, but its implications stretch far beyond that city, and beyond Washington state as well.  The push to "defund the police" and impose left-wing, progressive perspectives on city administrations, prosecuting authorities and those who enforce the law has resulted in many liberal cities struggling with rising crime rates and increasing street violence.  Read this with that in mind.

Seattle Police are changing the way 911 calls are handled. Under a new system, lower priority calls will be funneled into a queue. If an officer never responds to that call, a supervisor can just delete it using what’s called “Z protocol.” Moving forward, anything unanswered by SPD due to a lack of resources will fall under what’s called “Z protocol.”

Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson believes the policy pivot is an outgrowth of under staffing. According to data in a recent SPD Finance and Response Time Report, over the past four years response times have gone up at all Seattle Police precincts, indicating it’s taking longer for help to arrive.

“Let’s be clear, the Seattle Police Department has lost over 400 personnel since 2020,” said Nelson. “Investigators, 100 of them have been moved out of specialty units like sexual assault and into patrol. There still aren’t enough officers out there to ensure a rapid response to 911 calls.”

. . .

Jim Fuda, Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, says the failed defund the police experiment has led to the use of “Z protocol.” He’s concerned that without a follow up call or further communication from law enforcement, more people may start taking matters into their own hands.

There's more at the link.

Note that Seattle's approach hides the scale of the problem.  If the call is deleted from the 911 queue, there'll be no record of it ever existing, so it won't be included in the tally of crimes per day, week, month or year.  Without any official notice being taken of it, liberal politicians can trumpet that they've reduced the crime rate - when, in fact, they've done nothing of the sort.  They're simply lying to their electorate.

Mr. Fuda isn't wrong in his concerns.  Everywhere in the world, when police prove incapable of dealing with crime and violence, communities do take matters into their own hands.  In the South, that's often referred to as the "3-S treatment", applied to criminals as well as animals.  I've heard more than one rural resident comment along the lines of, "Yeah, we get criminals now and then.  So what?  I've got a backhoe."  To date, I think that's been more bravado than actual policy.  I suspect it won't take much to change that.

In many parts of the world, the absence of effective law enforcement often pits gang against gang.  I've seen that at first hand, far too often for comfort, and played the game myself, paying off one gang for protection against others (sometimes the only way to get relief convoys through to their destination in parts of Africa).  Typically, a gang controlling an area of a city or slum will offer "protection" to those living there;  pay us so much a month, or provide us with the things we need, and we'll stop outsiders from robbing and threatening you.  It won't mean you're immune to such crimes - the local gang will still commit them freely - but you'll only have to worry about them from one source, and the gang bosses will keep them to a reasonable level because they don't want to "kill the goose that lays the golden eggs".  Of course, if a bigger, more powerful gang moves in, the "protecting" gang will hand over its area without hesitation rather than die for it, and turmoil will result until a new modus vivendi can be worked out.

I know a number of current and former policemen and sheriff's deputies.  Their concern for the future is tangible.  Those in big cities can see the writing on the wall, and are almost uniformly (you should pardon the expression) looking to retire as soon as they hit eligibility, or transfer to a more rural department with less tolerance for current, politically correct administration.  They know if they perform their jobs without fear or favor, as they should, they'll be pilloried as "racist" or some other epithet du jour.  The inevitable result is that they've stopped taking risks, and try hard not to put themselves into situations where they might find a liberal, progressive DA turning on them because they arrested, or hurt, or shot an alleged perpetrator of a politically correct race or ethnic group.  It's hard to blame them.

I suspect - no, I'm sure - we're going to see this problem spread across America, unless and until we, the people, do something about it, either through the ballot box or through more ... er ... direct measures.  I foresee a flourishing market in used backhoes.


"The limits of flesh"


That's the title of an article by author and friend Sarah Hoyt, in which she considers, in the light of the Roe v. Wade brouhaha, what it means - or should mean - to be a woman.  Here are a few excerpts from a long, but very thought-provoking discourse.

... our bodies influence us, in health and illness far more than we wish to believe. The thinking meat is MEAT. We are creatures of flesh and blood, who think. We are not thoughts, trapped in the flesh and blood.

And if you ignore the needs and impulses of the flesh and blood, you’ll either lose your mind or your body.

And if you ignore them as a society, you end up with a lot of unhappy, confused, angry people, who can’t figure out what’s made them so unhappy.

On the whole subject of abortion, a friend said — and I don’t intellectually disagree — that we can’t force women to carry babies, because that’s evil. And that we can’t curtail women’s sex drive, or demand they curtail it, because that too is evil. Oh, and that all birth control fails eventually (which isn’t wrong, btw. Reproductive systems are far, far more complicated than we like to believe. Which I’ll revisit again, btw.)

But something at the back of my head piped up and bitched when she said that. It wasn’t a happy something, and it was an admission against interest, since I mostly believe we should make people as free as possible (my protest on abortion is that it involves two people, and the defenseless one gets killed, but that’s something else) and since I legitimately think nature is something to conquer. But what piped up in my mind was “But is that fighting against reality?”

This was brought into full bloom last night, on a facebook thread of Brad Torgersen’s, in which a guy came in guns blazing and said we needed abortion to be safe, convenient and as available as possible so women wouldn’t be “second class citizens.” Because if women are going to be fully equal, we need to eliminate the downsides of being a woman.

At which point the bitching at the back of my mind became a scream “But women are women. You can’t eliminate the downside of being a woman, without eliminating being a woman.

. . .

... we are not brains, or minds, in a vacuum. We’re creatures of flesh and blood. And contra the “there’s no difference” crowd, you need only have a rudimentary knowledge of biology to know your brain, your tissues, everything were formed differently according to your sex. I don’t remember and am not in the mood to go look it up, but you start differentiating at a ridiculously early gestational point, for sure before two weeks. After that the hormone baths in utero are different, and your development is markedly different.

No, you don’t know what it’s like to be the other sex. No one does. Yes, we’re way more different than our superficial outward appearance would indicate. The longer I live the more aware I become that perhaps Heinlein was right about us really being different species who are merely symbiotic.

So when making women “not second class citizens” requires making them as free from concerns about getting pregnant as men…. are we in actual fact at war with the very fact that there are women; that women are unique and have different capabilities and different downfalls? ... Whether you consider getting pregnant a liability or a magic power, it is still an integral part of being a woman.

. . .

It seems to be worth it as a woman you have to pretend to be a male.

The push is on constantly. You’re sneered at for writing or reading romance, because it’s a thing women do. (Yes, men do it too, but the crossover on that is minuscule.) And now a lot of movies, including those billed as romantic comedy are consciously eliminating the Happily Ever After. Instead the woman decides to go off and have a career, or “learn to love myself.”

And I come back again to: Why can’t women be women? Why is it that performing the most basic and distinctive function of being female is considered being a second class citizen? Why are we all supposed to act like men?

. . .

Arguably civilization came about because women didn’t want to put out all the time and for everyone. If Ogg wanted Morga to put out, he had to make sure he was a good hunter, and could make the spears to make himself so. And no sleeping around with everyone, all the time, because he had to provide for Morga and their kids. In return, he had the assurance that Morga also wasn’t sleeping around, and their kids were THEIRS.

If women sleep around as much as men, the entire world becomes a giant gay-bathhouse. And kids are an inconvenience, or a “punishment.” Stop me when this sounds familiar.

There's much more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

These are, of course, the points that radical feminists either deny outright, or reject with contempt, or simply ignore (usually because they have no answer to them).  Our natures as men or women are fundamental to who we are, how we respond to external stimuli, our roles in society, and so on.  Any variation on those basics tends to be only skin deep, and only effective in a society that has enough artificial supports to make them possible.

I'm here to tell you from long and (sometimes bitter) experience:  when things go badly wrong, through disaster, war, or any other crisis;  when the social norms to which we're accustomed are sloughed off because there's no time or energy or infrastructure to support them any longer;  the "bad old days" of society return with a vengeance.  Men are once again valued for their physical strength, their willingness to defend those weaker than themselves, and their ability to provide food, clothing and shelter.  Women are once again valued for their capability to nurture, to make a house into a home, to be the heart of the family rather than its head.  This happens everywhere, whenever circumstances require it.  It's not strange, it's not unusual - it's normal.  It's not a matter of patriarchy or matriarchy, or anything in between.  It's the cold, hard reality of life when it's pared down to its essentials, without any of the luxuries and social trappings that modern society uses as a fig-leaf to disguise the reality of men and women and their complementary roles as human beings.

Go read Sarah's article in full, and think about it.  It's worth your time.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Brace yourselves for war between Iran and Israel


The National Interest warns:  "Deal or No Deal, Iran-Israel War Is Coming to the Middle East".

The Israeli prime minister recently stated: “We no longer play with the tentacles, with Iran’s proxies: we’ve created a new equation by going for the head.” By letting Tehran know that it can and will be struck, Israel is changing the rules of the game. Jerusalem is no longer content to “mow the grass”—an expression for strategically limited strikes—but is upping the ante in response to what it sees as a growing threat.

Israel has also stepped up the scale and scope of its strikes in Syria, recently hitting the Damascus airport. The IDF recently held the largest military drill in decades, dubbed “Chariots of Fire.” In its own words, the exercises “aim to both increase the IDF’s defensive readiness and examine its preparedness for an intensive and prolonged campaign.”

In late May 2022, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted drills which included “long-range flights, aerial refueling and striking distant targets.” It was, the Times of Israel noted, meant to simulate striking Iranian nuclear facilities. According to Israel’s Channel 13 news, the exercises spanned more than 10,000 kilometers and included more than 100 aircraft and navy submarines.

. . .

The IDF is, of course, an exceptionally well-trained military. It isn’t a stranger to major drills and exercises. But it seems clear that something is afoot and the parameters of the long-running conflict between Israel and Iran are changing. Coupled with Tehran’s imminent “nuclear break out,” such developments indicate that Jerusalem is doing more than mowing the grass—it might be preparing to get rid of the entire yard.

Should Israel strike Iran’s nuclear facilities it would likely bring about the worst war that the Middle East has seen in decades—if not longer. The conflict that would follow would look nothing like many of the recent wars between Israel and Iranian proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah. For both Israel and the Islamic Republic, it would be an existential battle, with the fate of both the Jewish state and the regime in Tehran hinging on the war’s outcome. The losses and destruction would be devastating.

There's more at the link.

Inevitably, such a war would disrupt oil supplies through the Persian Gulf, not just from Iran but from other states in the region as well.  Iran's Revolutionary Guards will ensure that by blockading the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, as they've threatened to do often enough.  That, in turn, will draw in the US Navy and allied forces in an attempt to keep the Strait open - possibly also China, which gets well over half its oil from the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, of course, oil prices in the rest of the world would skyrocket.  We can expect to pay at least double what we are now for gasoline and diesel within a matter of days, and possibly much more than that.  What that would do to our economy as a whole, and to most of us in terms of our household budgets, I leave to your imagination.

Unfortunately, Iran is led by doddering religious zealots who actually believe that to spark a world war would accelerate the return of the "Twelfth Imam" and lead to a climactic war against evil (such evil, naturally, to include Israel and the USA).  They regard that as entirely desirable.  The rest of us . . . not so much.


Scary, and very lethal . . .


Last weekend, a container holding 25 tons of chlorine gas was being shipped from Aqaba in Jordan to Djibouti when it fell from a crane to the deck of a ship during loading.

The body count is up to 12, last I heard, with hundreds more injured by the gas and in the chaos that resulted from its release.

This video is particularly scary when one recalls that tanker trucks and rail trucks containing chlorine gas are routinely encountered across America.  One accident in the wrong place - say, a railway shunting yard in the middle of a big city, or one of the transcontinental rail routes such as that running directly through the middle of our home town - and we could see a repeat of this accident.  In a densely-populated area, who knows how many would be killed or injured?

We can't ban the transport of such goods through residential areas - that would be logistically impossible - but we need our urban authorities to carefully consider ways in which their transport could be made safer than it is.  Just watch that video again, and realize that anyone caught in that yellow cloud almost certainly didn't make it out - or, if they did, their lungs will probably be permanently damaged and their lifespans drastically shortened.

Scary indeed . . .


An unusual animal rescue tale


I had to boggle a bit at this news report.

“Peo” and “Finn,” two shepherd pups, got themselves into an awkward situation on June 19 after their exploring took them deep into a tortoise burrow.

The 100-pound tortoise is named Oscar, and owner Kathleen became concerned when she realized her two dogs were underground, and Oscar was blocking the way, in no hurry to move.

So the San Bernardino County Fire was contacted and made their way out to the very unusual call.

. . .

The burrow was impressive, and something Oscar had clearly put a lot of time and effort into. But he was far down in the tunnel, and there was no way to reach him, so the firefighters tried to figure out a way to coax him out.

Many tortoises consider watermelon a very tasty treat, so crews used a chunk of watermelon to try to draw the huge reptile out — but Oscar decided he would rather stay in his den.

. . .

“With Oscar blocking the exit, crews worked to dig an access hole to rescue the dogs,” the post continued. “After an hour of digging crews were able to get the puppies out of the den.

“‘Peo’ and ‘Finn’, were unharmed & happy to reunite with their dog mom Kathleen.

There's more at the link.

Here's a brief video report about the rescue.

I've heard of lots of animal rescues, and played a part in a few of them, but I've never heard of having to rescue puppies from a tortoise!


Monday, June 27, 2022

John Waters explains what's about to happen in Europe


In two long and thought-provoking articles, John Waters gives us his understanding of what's going on in Europe and Africa right now, and how the latter is about to explode over Europe in a wave of desperate migration invasion that's going to swamp the Old World altogether.  They're unpleasant reading, but I think - knowing Africa and the Third World as I do - there's a lot of truth in them.

To whet your appetite, here are a couple of short excerpts.  From the first article:

Within months, or even weeks, in response to the escalating food shortages and hyperinflation now coursing through the world economy in the manner of flash flooding, new waves of immigrants will begin to arrive in Europe from Africa, the Middle East, and other places, as people voyage forth in search of food, imagining that they will find it more easily in Paris or London or Dublin. In truth, parts of Europe will be more or less as desperate as any of the places these people have evacuated, because the already scheduled consequences of the disastrous lockdown policies of 2020 will be augmented by the effects of the catastrophic sanctioning of Russia in the context of the Ukraine war. These migrants, therefore — who will arrive in numbers far exceeding the influx of 2015 — will find themselves in a situation at best little better than that which they have left behind. The results are likely to include the radical destabilisation of European societies already in disarray due to the self-imposed difficulties arising from diminishing supplies of food and fuel. These circumstances are likely to provoke widespread outbreaks of social unrest and conflict throughout Europe, leading to the breakdown of the social order in many countries, which is likely to be met by the imposition of martial law.

. . .

All this is planned. It will not be an unforeseen, happenstance outcome of random events. Social chaos is baked into the cake of Covid disruption and tyranny ... This will be the denouement of a process that has been nurtured for many decades, with the precise intent of looting the homelands of all concerned. This two-part article is an attempt to describe the events and conditions that have taken us to this calamitous point.

And from the second article:

Although conventional wisdom in the West has it that the issue of mass migration out of Africa (and by extension other ‘developing’ countries — for which read ‘the undeveloping countries’) is one of absolute need on one side and a ‘duty’ to step up and deliver ‘compassion’ on the other, the reality, as we have seen, is rather different. The vast majority of migrants are not ‘the poorest of the poor’ of popular bleeding-heart spin, but the relatively better-off.  They are ... the ones who have managed to up sticks and come to the West as a direct result of Western aid that was, nominally at least, intended to provide Africans with a jumpstart in their own countries, but is instead functioning to suck the most intelligent and creative human life out of Africa and deposit it in Paris, Dublin, Berlin and London.  The point of this has to do with neither the dreams and desires of the migrants nor — even less — the betterment of poorer countries, but is entirely about achieving certain outcomes in Western societies, the first among which is to drive down wages so as to make the world even more congenial to corporate interests. And there are other motives also, as we shall see.

I highly recommend that you click over to both articles and read them carefully.  They're a harbinger of what's coming to the USA as well, because migration - or, rather, invasion by illegal aliens - is a weapon that's being turned against this country as well.  It's likely to have similar consequences, unless we can shut it down before it's too late.  We can be certain that the Biden administration and those behind it will do all in their power to stop us from doing that, by any and every means at their disposal.


COVID-19 vaccine updates


There have been several developments concerning COVID-19 vaccines.  To call some of them "horrifying" is a gross understatement.

First, the vaxx and fertility.

Why is there a substantial decrease in births in Germany and Switzerland (and other countries) – nine months after the beginning of covid mass vaccinations?

Do covid vaccines influence male or female fertility? ... new birth data out of Germany and Switzerland raises some serious questions. Specifically, both countries recorded a consistent 10% to 15% decrease (compared to expectations) in monthly births from January to March/April 2022 (the latest available data) – that is, precisely nine months after the beginning of covid mass vaccination in the general population in April/May 2021 (see charts above and below).

How can this substantial decrease be explained? Is it due to behavioral or biological factors?

. . .

Furthermore, there have been widespread and officially acknowledged reports of post-vaccination menstrual disorders (over 30,000 reports in Britain alone); official reports of vaccine adverse events including death in breastfeeding babies (over 60 reported cases in Germany alone); a still unexplained, transient increase in neonatal deaths in countries like Scotland; and reports by Austrian midwives of an increase in complications during pregnancy and delivery after covid vaccination. Meanwhile, Pfizer has never even finished its vaccine trial in pregnant women.

. . .

A similar decline in births since early 2022 is visible in Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Taiwan, but apparently not in California (though states that saw an initial lockdown-related decline in births may see a subsequent rebound).

There's more at the link, including further links to the studies cited above.

Some authorities are already trying to decry such "rumors" and "falsehoods".  Unfortunately for them, the trickle of evidence is turning into a tidal wave.  See, for example, this Twitter thread from user Jikkyleaks (original tweet is here), providing yet more links and graphics to illustrate the trend.  A brief excerpt:

This is a massive safety signal for infertility. Germany's FIRST report of birth rates since the rollout. 

Remember that the birth rate data is 9 months too late. 

If the next quarter is worse, this is Children of Men scenario.

For the years 2011-2021 the average number of births is 63,911 for the Jan-Mar quarter, with a standard deviation of 1015.

The drop to 54871 for 2022 is approx 9 SD.

9 Sigma. Unicorn events.

The money people understand this.

Again, more at the link.  Nassim Taleb might call it a "black swan event" rather than a "unicorn event", but the impact of either is no less disastrous.

Another report notes that Taiwan is experiencing an almost 25% drop in births over the same period, and rates this as no less than a 26-sigma event.  The author notes:  "This can be described as “unimaginable” in terms of the likelihood of happening due to random chance."

Next, there's preliminary but growing evidence that mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 may cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob or other prion diseases of the brain in some recipients.

Researchers believe the prion region from the original Wuhan COVID-19 variant’s spike protein was incorporated into mRNA vaccines and adenovirus vector vaccines — given to hundreds of millions of humans — and that it can cause a new type of rapidly progressing sporadic CJD.

. . .

A French pre-print paper published in May on CJD and COVID-19 vaccination identified a new form of sporadic CJD that occurred within days of receiving a first or second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

. . .

Sporadic CJD occurs when a person becomes infected for no apparent reason. Once a single prion becomes infected, it will progress to other prions, and there is no treatment capable of stopping it.

More at the link.

The link between CJD and the vaxx was postulated by the late Nobel prize winner, Dr. Luc Montagnier, last year.

We’re in unknown territory and proclaim mandatory vaccines for everyone. It’s insanity. It’s vaccination insanity that I absolutely condemn. I want to say as well, that I never, never said that everyone will die from the vaccine, but that a certain amount of people who take the vaccine will suffer from it. That’s impermissible ... There could side effects that affect future generations as well, maybe, but most probably from our generation in five to ten years. That’s absolutely possible. Notably, something we call neurodegenerative illness. There are sequences that resemble the prion sequences in the RNA of the coronavirus. These prions could disorder the natural proteins in the brain, modifying them to make prions.

More at the link.

Friends, if you took the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine, all I can say is, get checked out for any or all of the above problems, just in case.  If you're fortunate enough to have missed them (at least so far), all well and good - but how will you know unless you check for yourself?  I can't see the powers that be bothering to tell you about these issues.


Memes that made me laugh 114


Due to travels over the past two weeks (and hence less time for surfing the Internet), there are fewer memes than usual today.  I'll do my best to have the meme count back up to where it should be by next week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Sunday morning music


Here's a different sort of music video.  Classical guitarist Brandon Acker, whom we've met in these pages before, samples four different guitars:  one costing $200, one $2,000, one $20,000 and one a mere (!) $200,000.  It's an interesting experiment with price versus sound versus "playability" (to coin a phrase).

You may not be able to hear the difference very clearly on cheap computer speakers, but if you plug in a set of headphones, the differing quality of sound between the instruments becomes much more audible.

I'm reminded of the Sabionari guitar by Stradivarius, one of only five surviving guitars by the master luthier (and currently the only one in playable condition).  We listened to it back in December 2020, in a blog post that included an introduction by Brandon Acker.  If you don't remember that one, or missed it, it's worth revisiting it.  I've no idea what a Stradivari guitar would cost today (not that anybody's selling one), but I expect you could add at least one more zero to the prices mentioned above . . .


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Faerie meets combat vet. Excitement ensues.


We've met my friend and fellow author Jason Fuesting in these pages before:  I mentioned his first and second sci-fi novels in 2019 and 2021 respectively.  Now Jason's embarked on a new genre, modern fantasy (with extensive military overtones).  His first venture in the field is called "Dusk Knight".

The blurb reads:

Guns, mayhem, and magic.

Staff Sergeant Thomas Edwards was intimately familiar with the first two before incoming fire ended his career. A tactical retreat to the family cabin drops him head first into the third when he awakes in the blackened, twilight wasteland that used to be Faerie. Beset by nightmarish survivors of the Nevernever's apocalypse, Thomas’ explosive finale earns him an option besides death. All he has to do is make a deal with fae.

What's the worst that could happen?

I've enjoyed reading this book.  There are a few rough edges and hitches here and there, just as there are in almost any author's first venture into a new genre (including my own!), but overall I rate it a very promising beginning.  I've already told Jason to hurry up with the next volume!

For this morning's Snippet, I've chosen the opening fight in the book, where the protagonist finds himself pitchforked into a completely unexpected and alien combat against a thing out of nightmare.  The reason I chose this segment is that any other would introduce "spoilers" that would give away too much - the book is packed full of such details, and I don't want to spoil the author's fun in introducing them in sequence.  For the benefit of those who don't speak "guns", I've included a few links to provide more information about the weapons mentioned.

LANGUAGE WARNING:  This excerpt (and the entire novel) is laden with military-style profanity.  Anyone who's served will understand that profanity is a language spoken all too frequently by every serviceman in any army in the world.  (I've listened to expletives from East German, Cuban and Angolan soldiers, all in tongues foreign to me, and understood every word without the need for an interpreter.  Their body language might have had something to do with that...)  I've censored some (but not all) of those expressions here, because this is a family-friendly blog;  but if such language bothers you, you may not enjoy the book.  Caveat emptor.

Sometime later I jerked awake. I didn’t know if I’d heard something or what. All I knew is I was burning up under the comforter. Dad’s cheap window mounted air conditioner must’ve finally shot **** because it was silent. I sat up and looked around.

The room was still mostly dark, and my alarm clock was dead. Great, power must’ve died. I had no idea what time it was. Probably sometime around five or six based on the minuscule amount of light peeking around the blinds. Sonofabitch. I listened intently and could hear the wind rushing about angrily outside, but the thunder and rain I’d fallen asleep to were gone. It suddenly struck me that all I heard was the wind and whatever was being blown about, and my breath caught in my throat. Wind that fast, I should’ve been hearing wood creak and a metric ****ton of leaves, but the only creaking I heard came from the house and I certainly didn’t hear any leaves. What I did hear outside, on the other hand, made no sense; one part omnipresent hissing, a healthy dollop of light sliding rasp, and some randomly thrown in tiny pebble strikes. I froze — well, vapor locked is more like it. I knew that sound from several long trips to the Middle East. That was the sound of the wind picking up sand. On top of that, the clingy humidity of summer in southern Missouri was long gone, replaced with a dry heat that was easily another ten degrees hotter. Sitting up in my bed, I suddenly felt more mid-deployment to the sandbox than weekend away from things in southern Missouri.

“The hell is going on?” I muttered as I reached for my pistol. Not that I expected the pistol to be helpful with whatever this was, but facing the unknown armed usually worked out better than the alternative in my experience.

In the distance I heard something keen, a sound somewhere between a howl and snarl. I knew that Missouri’s Department of Conservation insisted there weren’t any mountain lions or bear out here, or at least that’s what Dad told me when I was younger. Based off the sound, I was pretty sure my pistol was only going to piss off whatever it was making that noise. The next sound it made reminded me of a particularly pissed off mountain lion crossed with something bigger, like an actual lion. Having heard both of those in person, the summation seemed to fit. I mean, it didn’t make a damn lick of sense, but it fit. Whatever the source actually was, the drawn-out call reached into primitive parts of my hindbrain that, before this moment, I’d been pretty sure the Army burnt out years ago. Whatever it was, if it came near me I was going to kill it and kill it dead.

I considered my options. The AR should work on a plus-sized supposedly non-existent mountain lion. The OBR was too damn heavy for my broke ass if I had to lug it for any appreciable amount of time, but it was good for big game so presumably it was good for plus-sized mountain lions. Honestly, as angry as that thing sounded I wanted the BAR, but that beast was twice as heavy as the OBR.

The little voice in the back of my head that always got me in deep **** when I was private suggested that Dad’s LAW, at 5.5 pounds was a bit over half the weight of the OBR and a pound lighter than the AR. Sure, it was one use, but if I needed more than one, none of the other guns were going to save my ass anyway.

The part of me that was wholly responsible for me making NCO sighed and told the other part that explaining to the Conservation guys why I had a mountain lion splattered across half the hillside along with a sizable divot and obvious blast pattern might not be something I’d want to do. Things like that generally involved the ATF eventually. Sadly, those clowns don’t have any more a sense of humor than the Conservation agents. They’d probably be in an extra sour mood too, seeing as I don’t have a dog for them to shoot.

I sighed and got out of bed. While the idea of having an extra doors and walls between me and whatever it was appealed to me, the master bedroom’s windows were facing the wrong direction. The idea of not seeing it coming was a non-starter. I threw on some fresh jeans and a t-shirt. It took another thirty seconds to slip the sheath for my tomahawk on the belt as I wove it through my belt loops and to buckle both the hawk in and the belt on. Granted, it was an afterthought, but I holstered my XD on my way to pick up the AR. One can never have too many weapons in a fixed position that isn’t on fire or in danger of flooding or collapse. On a lark, I started to grab the BAR figuring if I stayed inside, it’d make a great couch gun, but I stopped at the last second to grab the Thompson instead, along with two stick mags. I also moved my AR to the couch next to the Thompson out of habit. I was used to how it handled after more than a few years of using its cousin with identical optics. The M855 I just loaded into it was certainly not the right round, but I had thirty of them. Quantity is a quality all its own.

Thankfully, Dad had a box of .45ACP Federal HST in the cabinet. I listened to the wind howl and what I figured was sand scrape against walls while I loaded up mags for the Thompson. Thirty rounds of ‘Get bent’ aught to be more than enough. I’d shot it enough as a kid to know I could handle the recoil fairly well if I kept it to short, controlled bursts. More than a decade and all the extra muscle the Army gave me since then should make that a breeze.

Loading the magazines, a voice in the back of my head asked me if I was sure this wasn’t some kind of PTSD flashback. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe I was still sleeping in my bed having a nightmare. Of course it wasn’t actually a voice asking me things; I just compartmentalize stuff. It was a rational thing to ask myself, so clearly that was the NCO in me. I stood up and racked a round into the Thompson’s chamber. My PTSD flashbacks had always taken me to that little ****hole where I got blown up. I never saw anywhere I considered home when they happened, so this was entirely new if this was a flashback. Also, I could’ve sworn flashbacks didn’t last this long. I mean, I’m not really an expert on these things big picture-wise. I just knew how mine normally acted, which is to say **** would get trippy when the flashback hit, I’d freak out for a bit, and it’d be over and done a short time later. This wasn’t that. Though, I couldn’t discount the idea I was still asleep. I did regularly have dreams realistic enough they were hard to tell apart from reality. If this was a nightmare then at least I had guns. A lot of guns. Oh, so many guns. And a LAW. Can’t forget the LAW.

My heartrate picked up a little as I walked over to the twin windows on the kitchen side of the living room, and then it dropped to a steady beat much lower than normal. My skin was tingling and I realized I’d lost the hitch in my step. I felt almost normal. No, not normal, I felt better than normal. I felt like I was home, doing what I was supposed to do. Now, let’s see what’s outside.

I didn’t react to what I saw when I pulled the thick daylight shades back in much the same way I hadn’t really reacted the way most people would to the sound earlier. First instincts didn’t always serve up the best reaction. Stay frosty, stay in control. Panic kills. What I was seeing outside sort of made me want to panic, though.

Outside wasn’t outside. By that I mean nothing that was supposed to be there was there. There weren’t any trees. Or grass. Or anything other than a thick layer of dark as far as the eye could see, interrupted by what might’ve been husks of charred tree. This is too surreal. Roughly matching the topology of the area around where the actual cabin stood, this sea of dark whatever-it-was extended all the way to a heavily clouded horizon that reminded me of what it looked like at night when a city was burning in the distance, except this was a bit brighter. It struck me that if only a large section, not the whole horizon, had been lit that way, it would’ve looked like a massive forest fire in the distance. Though, forest fires threw red light, not daylight. Whatever the hell it was, it left everything in this weirdly omnipresent dim lighting, a bit like a dream but not quite.

If this was a flashback or a nightmare, it was a hell of a lot more realistic than any I’d had before. I closed my eyes a second to pull back from the urge to panic, and then continued to look about. The clouds looked about as black as the ground did. For a moment I was standing back in Iraq pulling overwatch on an intersection where some hadjis had hit a fuel tanker convoy. Everything within fifty yards of where each of the tankers had been hit had burnt furiously. Sand, dirt, buildings, none of that had mattered. Once the fires had burnt themselves out, they’d left a curious char everywhere the burning fuel had spread. The ground outside looked exactly like that.

I blinked a few times, not quite believing what I was seeing before my Good Idea Fairy voice pointed out that it was pretty sure you don’t get PTSD flashbacks inside a PTSD flashback. It was also certain that if you did, then this world was more ****ed than we’d thought. For the first time since I was an E-4, I agreed with that voice and so did the NCO part of my brain.

Somewhere out front, something chuffed, a throaty vocalization usually made by big cats that sounded like the start of a failed purr or someone trying to kickstart an old motorcycle. It wasn’t a cute little mountain lion chuff either. No, this was something a lot bigger and not something I’d ever expected to hear in southern Missouri. I’d heard it first at the St. Louis Zoo from the big cats, and again from something that stalked the mountains outside our FOB my first trip through southeastern Afghanistan. Never saw what made the noise in the ’Stan, and suddenly I didn’t want to see what was making the noise now. Whatever it was made a low growling sound followed by a few squeaking noises that almost sounded exactly like a mountain lion.

With deliberate slowness, I lowered the daylight shade back into place and cautiously, quietly stepped my way around to the couch where I retrieved my PVS-14 on the way to the front door. It was dark outside, and any light amplification would be nice. I was very small, very quiet, and very not here. As I got to the door, whatever it was rubbed up against the outside of the house just around the corner from me, closer to the near side of the cabinet even. Problem is, it wasn’t the kind of soft sound you’d expect from fur against ****** siding. No, it was this weird grating noise that clacked every so often. The sound brought me back to the sandbox, back when I saw some tanker start to lose traction on a tread as his Abrams went over a car.

What. The. ****. I was even whispering in my thoughts as I tried to look through the glass at the top of the door while trying to minimize the odds of it spotting me first. And holy ****, did I see it. Or rather, I saw its hind quarters as it turned away from me to rub against the house again. If it had had fur, I would’ve said by the gait that it was most definitely a plus-sized mountain lion that had made off with a few folks off the back of their Walmart scooters. Here’s the problem I had with accepting that designation: it didn’t have fur; it had big scales that glinted irregularly in my monocle. It was clearly kinda-sorta a cat, but pretty much a lizard too. Some weird kind of up-armored panther? When it rubbed up against the house again, I saw the rest of it from about five feet away. The vestigial wings and scaled body nixed the panther bit, despite how it moved what had looked a six-hundred-pound minimum, black-bear sized bulk.

My Good Idea Fairy declared it a Cat Lizard Panther Dragon, CLPD for short. I didn’t argue. Neither did my NCO voice. Seemed a perfectly reasonable identification to both of us. CLPD it is.

As much as I loved the Thompson, I was suddenly fairly sure that hollow points wouldn’t do **** against those scales. Good Idea started quoting descriptions of various young dragons and their armor classes I’d learned by heart when I played D&D as a kid. I felt very under gunned. I knew I should’ve grabbed the BAR. Mother******.

Just as quietly as I’d crept to the door, I crept back to the master bedroom and traded the Thompson for the BAR after making sure I’d engaged the Thompson’s safety. It didn’t see me; I can take my time. No need to panic, Tom. Chill. Hunting down magazines for the BAR was a bit harder, but I spotted a few tucked in the corner of the safe. From the red tape, I was pretty sure these were Dad’s hand loads he’d been trying out. I vaguely remembered them being steel core AP, which was a big plus, but don’t tell the ATF that. Politicians, and therefore the ATF, frown on actual armor-piercing rounds in civilian hands for some reason. Don’t ask me why, I’m not the idiot whisperer.

In fact, it’d be better if the ATF never heard a damn thing about any of this, if at all possible. Thank *** folks mind their own business out here. Nobody out here called the cops for anything for the most part other than clean-up or to deal with **** that got off their property. Nah, nobody around here would call the cops over someone belting out a few dozen rounds. I frowned at the next thought that occurred to me. Here’s hoping I’m not going to need backup. A full magazine of AP through a BAR should be more than enough. Right?

I shook my head to force myself to focus. As far as I knew, there was no “around here” anymore. I then realized my next problem. I didn’t have any load bearing equipment on hand. Belt, vest, whatever, LBE of some form would’ve been nice. I could’ve stuffed some BAR mags in the bigger pouches even if they didn’t fit right. Stuffing BAR mags in jeans was fantasy. Pretty sure this is how women feel about the lack of pockets in their clothes. ****, almost missed it. I grabbed the bandoleer hanging in the back of the safe and stuffed what few magazines Dad had left in it. **** it. If I need more than four mags to deal with this, I should’ve picked a better weapon. Right. Better weapon. I grabbed the LAW.

It wasn’t the rocket launcher I wanted; it was the rocket launcher I deserved. I’d take an iffy old LAW that might not fire due to age instead of the AT4 I found myself wanting any day of the week if the only alternative to the LAW was empty hands. A Javelin would’ve been nice right now. Another part of me, my voice of reason probably, pointed out that firing an AT4 or a Jav indoors would’ve been a bit inconvenient. Yeah, I guess the whole concussion/backblast bit ****ing you up or killing you is pretty inconvenient when you stop and think about it. That’s before looking at minimum ranges for any of them. Or firing arcs. I could go for an airstrike, though. I may have suppressed a shudder at the idea of calling in artillery danger close. Been there, done that. Hard pass.

Speaking of minimum ranges, going out the back door suddenly sounded a good idea. The thing would be nearly in my lap if I went out the front. Yeah, great idea. And then the glass on the screen door shattered. ****. I slung the LAW over one shoulder as I cautiously took a few steps backwards to peer out the bedroom door, just in time to see a set of claws puncture the wooden inner door and tear out a chunk. I quickstepped into the living room to get a better angle and dropped to a knee at about the same time the thing’s dimly glowing emerald eyes widened.

It saw me. I saw it. Only I was looking through the sights of the BAR.

“Cowabunga it is, mother******.”

I lit it the **** up. You know, it’s amazing how quickly you can chew through a twenty round magazine when you’re firing at six hundred rounds per minute. It seems like such a long time when you’re starring in the face of some ungodly nightmare fuel that just decided you’d make a good snack. Even longer when, thanks to the adrenaline, you can see the sparks every round left as they glanced off scales. Good Idea informed me after I heard the bolt slam forward on an empty chamber that it took precisely two seconds.

“Shut the **** up, you’re not helping,” I muttered, yanking out the box mag while the CLPD reared and roared at me loud enough that my ears rang. I pulled the bolt back and slammed in the new magazine just as the roar was petering out.

Good Idea pointed out matter-of-factly that dragon scales were notoriously weaker on the underbelly, and that I really should hurry up and find out if the lore was correct. NCO figured it was worth trying right as I braced for recoil and lit off the next magazine into the thing’s belly.

Again, adrenaline is an interesting thing. As with the first magazine, time lurched to a trickle and I got a front row seat to another series of ricochet flashes, except I was pretty sure four or five of them went through this time. Well, that or I missed, but who the hell misses a six-hundred-pound CLPD from maybe twenty feet away? Me, evidently. Except for the last shot. That one definitely punched through. I saw some black ichor spurt out like I’d punctured a balloon full of thick snot mixed with heavily over-used motor oil, the sort you see shared as both a meme and a warning.

Would you believe all I managed to do is piss it off? Nah, it’s okay; I didn’t believe it either. That’s why I was a bit flat footed when it shouldered the door straight off its hinges and shoved aside the solid oak cabinet next to it, the one with a few hundred pounds of ammo in it, like it was barely there. I might have made a little “Eep!” when it charged me. I barely managed to jump out of the way and almost fell over into the second couch under the twin windows I’d peered out earlier.

Mother****** crushed my couch! Well, Dad’s couch, but that couch had been in the family since the 70s. The thing had also shoulder checked the wall behind the couch, and bent most of the cheap pine in at a good angle, including the oak boards Dad had sistered up to them to stiffen them ages ago. ***damn.

I yanked the BAR’s bolt back. The CLPD’s eyes narrowed. I won’t lie, I might’ve started getting a bit scared here. I may have accidentally thrown the empty magazine out of the BAR and fumbled the third one just as the thing scrunched down into a huddle. I was raising the rifle when all three of us in my head recognized the subtle butt wiggle. ****. It jumped straight at me, claws first, and there was no dodging that **** this time.

I’ve been shot, shot at, and I’ve also been blown up by IEDs, admittedly while in a mine resistant vehicle. “Friendly” artillery was in that list, too. None of that prepared me for getting hit by six hundred pounds of angry cat lizard. Prior experience did help with that feeling you get when something that really shouldn’t be there tears into your abdominal cavity, but then again, the whole being punched through a wall made of cheap wood and now-shattered glass windows like a Hollywood stuntman was entirely new, too. Imagine rolling around naked in a pile of Legos while being crushed by six hundred pounds of pissed off cat lizard, but the Legos are made of glass. And they’re all broken. It’s pretty much like that, but completely different.

Next thing I knew, I was sprawled out in the ash some twenty feet from the back of the house with a healthy cloud of the stuff sprinkling down on me since I’d just slid through it. I coughed because I’d inhaled some and instantly regretted it. Everything below my ribs felt like it was on fire. I could hear the thing getting back up.

Sure as ****, there it was, limping towards me. Loud noises startle animals, right?

“Hey asshole!” I bellowed at it. It slowed a little as I pawed for my XD. I found only shattered plastic where the holster should have been. Okay then, Plan B. “Yeah, you, ****stick. **** you.”

Maybe telling it to go **** itself wasn’t the right play. That’s what NCO-me said anyway as the thing growled and lumbered over. I scrambled back, or rather, I tried scrambling back. Most of my lower body had evidently decided that laying down and dying was a good idea and didn’t manage more than a dying fish wiggle.

Still, in my panic I saw sparks drop out of the spot the BAR had punched through and not like just a little bit of sparks either. Little jets of them spurted rhythmically. To a heartbeat? As it got closer I could hear the wound sizzling. Pretty sure those rounds were steel core not incendiary. Dad didn’t mess with incendiary. Not usually anyway, something about what he’d seen in ’Nam.

Not that it mattered. I was about to be kitty chow, but at least I knew I’d hurt the ****ing thing, right? I had that going for me. I hoped this bastard got the kind of indigestion rivaled only by eating too many White Castle jalapeno sliders and lived the rest of its days nursing some horrible burn scar that reminded it of me. **** you.

I grabbed for the only weapon that made sense at this point. Well, the only weapon I had left really. That’s not to say much of anything made sense here, mind you, but the LAW my head was uncomfortably laying against wasn’t going to do a damn thing from ten feet away. It wouldn’t arm at less than thirty feet.

No, I jerked my RMJ Shrike tomahawk from the belt scabbard half under me. Miraculously, the scabbard hadn’t broken like my XD holster, and the axe hadn’t popped out. When the cat lizard lunged the last time for a tasty, tasty Tom-flavored treat, I buried the sharpened three inch, Kevlar-helmet-piercing, steel spike on the back right into the thing’s ***damned eye. **** you.

Now, I expected the thing to howl. I mean, I’d pretty much just jammed a steel spike into its brain, and last I checked nobody enjoys that kinda thing. Though, on second thought, you could probably find some place on the internet populated by folks who do. No, scratch that. Do not google that. Rule 34 is a thing. But, like I was saying, I was expecting it to react poorly. It did.

It reared back, yanking the hawk out of my hand while it swatted and clawed at its face. What I didn’t expect was for its face to immediately start sizzling and spurting flaming blood everywhere like some kind of psychotic blood-fueled roman candle.

The thing screeched and rolled away from me, clawing at pretty much everything from its face to the ash and nearby random tree husks, which disintegrated like the kind of cheap plywood even Lowes or Home Depot would reject, all the while spurting more burning goop everywhere. I’d clearly blinded it. At least I had that going for me.

The incendiary reaction, though, started diminishing the moment it managed to yank my tomahawk out. Good Idea informed me that some magical creatures like the fae were vulnerable to cold iron, and in some mythologies they reacted a bit like this. He was just as puzzled as I was over the fact that the tomahawk was steel, not iron, but whatevs. Take what little the universe lets you keep.

By that point it had rolled a decent distance downhill, certainly past where my pond should have been. It occurred to me that this was conveniently farther than thirty feet away. I couldn’t quite get into a sitting position, but I managed to flop into something loosely resembling one while screaming. Or at least that’s what I gathered because NCO told me to stop being a bitch and shoot the ****ing thing.

Copy that, Sarge. Pull pin, remove front cover, extend the tube smartly and lock it open. **** my backblast area.

“Hey, chuckle****!” I managed to rasp right before depressing the rubber firing boot. “Say cheese!”

There was a brief sputter and for a second I almost let the launcher droop. ****ing figures! And then there was a harsh pop followed by a bright streak that jumped through the air and nailed that ****** right in the gut.

I let the blast shove me onto my back and laughed as chunks of cat lizard fell out of the sky. You might’ve shrugged off 30-06, cat lizard, but you’re not immune to anti-tank rockets! Get rekt, scrub.

I found myself in the middle of another coughing fit a few moments later. Not ash this time, cat lizard chunk. By the time I’d coughed to the point of nearly vomiting, Good Idea pointed out it didn’t really taste quite like chicken like he’d expected. Somewhere between pork and a fishy chicken, with a little extra gamey flavor. I told Good Idea he wasn’t helping again, and he went off to pout.

After taking a few seconds to try catching my breath and failing, I poked around my belly. On the plus side, it didn’t hurt. On the minus side, and boy was it a big minus side, it didn’t hurt. That meant shock, amongst a few other things. My hand came away with an awful mixture of ash and blood that I could barely see in the dim light.

“Could you stop twitching and ****ing die already? ***damn. A little courtesy please? I’m not checking out until you do, asshole,” I shouted at my mortally wounded opponent.

Since it was dim and ash covered everything, I went ahead and smelled my hand. Ash covers the smell of a lot of things, but there was a hell of a lot of blood so I could still make it out over the ash. I could also smell something else you never wanted to go with abdominal wounds. ****. No, that wasn’t me swearing. I could smell my own **** over the ash, too. Ain’t that some ****?

I’m sure there were plenty of poop jokes that went through my mind at that instant, but I heard something moments later that I definitely didn’t expect to hear while bleeding out in the middle of *** knows where after shooting a ***damn cat lizard with a rocket launcher: crows.

“The **** are crows doing out here?” I mumbled to myself and craned my head back towards the sound to find that I’d actually been ended up a fair bit farther from the house than I thought. I recognized the slope, kind of. I mean, nobody can really say, “Oh yeah, I totally recognize the bottom of my pond from here,” with a straight face and get away with it, but I **** you not, I was pretty sure I was half in where the pond would’ve been if there was water here. I looked right about where the dock should have been. Instead, there was a creepy set of shattered limestone or marble plinths that lined what might’ve been a set of stairs or something that descended into the ground. Not that I was sure about that last part, mind you. I was completely at the wrong angle to make the stairs judgement, but it did make a bit of sense given all I could see was darkness between the shattered plinths. Honest darkness, even, not the heavily limited light because of the eternal twilight and all the dark ash.

The wind died completely in the span of a heartbeat, and then a woman’s voice echoed up out of the dark, a clear ringing voice echoing like she sang in a great stone room. The enchanting voice’s song tugged at the back of my mind. I didn’t understand the words, but I knew the sound, the oddly lilting accent. The words were Gaelic, and as I listened to the angelic voice the words bounced around in my head and somehow came out making sense. Not that they suddenly became English, mind you. No, it was certainly still Gaelic, but I knew Mo Ghille Mear meant My Gallant Hero and I knew the song was a lament about losing her love.

I might’ve almost teared up, listening to the pain in her words and forgetting my own in the process, while her lilting voice graced the air between us. I felt a bit sad as the words tugged at my heart, but otherwise I was just calm. And cold. Definitely a creeping cold, but I didn’t care so long as she kept singing. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and as the last note faded I was left feeling completely and utterly at peace and strangely certain about what was happening. This is how it is supposed to end. It was always going to end this way. I’ve always known she would come for me, and now she has.

Something emerged from the dark, stepping up onto the ash. Score, I was right about the steps. I made out a feminine figure in white as she glided across the ash toward me. This is a good death. A Man’s death. A Soldier’s death.

She came to a halt a handful of feet from me and gazed down at me with a reserved smile.

“Thomas Edwards,” her angelic voice broke the silence in lilting Gaelic. I simply understood despite never learning the language. “Few men have seen me in a quite some time. Fewer still did not fear my calling their name. Son of Eire, Alba, and the Goths, your blood remembers its roots. You have earned the notice of the Phantom Queen. Do you seek to return home?”

When she said her name, I recognized it. The Morrigan smiled down at me. Her eyes briefly pulsed a faint aquamarine glow, exactly the sort of blue the core of a running reactor at the bottom of its cooling pool would make. The Morrigan, Nightmare Queen, Chooser of the Slain, Goddess of War and Fate.

Her smile widened.

“You flatter me with such titles. No human has thought those words in hundreds of your years and known the truth behind them the way you know to your bones right now. Before you answer, come. We must speak.” She held her hand out to me, beckoning.

Well, there it is - the start of the adventure.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I recommend "Dusk Knight" as a worthy first attempt at a modern fantasy novel.