Tuesday, January 31, 2023

"Scared locals prepare for the worst"


That's part of the headline of an article about a crime-ridden dead-end road in Birmingham, UK.

Though just a small cul-de-sac, the Druids Heath close was struck by nine violent or sexual offences in a single month, according to latest police stats for November. As BirminghamLive visited to speak to locals in one of the area's worst streets for crime, only the sound of squawking seagulls disrupted the eerie silence.

"There is a lot of violent people around here, a lot of anti-social, bad behaviour," says Mr Wyatt, a resident for 14 years.

"My son - he's only 16 - was assaulted not long ago, he got attacked just for changing his tyre outside a garage. He assaulted him, he got him on top of the van and was punching him and fighting him. My poor son, he's still in school.

"He attacked me also. He pushed me, I had all the bruises up my arms." It's not the first time the man has assaulted locals living there, he says.

"A few of the neighbours have been assaulted by the same person and had abuse," he explains. "The guy on the corner reckons he came at him as well. He has had a go at about five different neighbours."

But the locals also have trouble from 'gangs' to contend with. The dad says: "I won't even take my dog for a walk because I'm frightened.

"There's quite a lot of youths and gangs walking up and down. I have a problem because there is no fence round my garden. They were all congregating round my garden, sometimes up to 15 of them.

"The young lads are threatening when they're all together. You ask them to move and they give you verbal abuse. They finally moved but then caused damage to garden ornaments, plants - they push them over.

He tried to get a fence to protect his home, but as it's a council property it's proven difficult. Instead, he's filled his garden with plants to try to stop the youths loitering - along with erected cameras, signs and warnings for would-be criminals.

"There's been a lot of break-ins over the last few weeks or two," he says. "A lot of people have got cameras because there has been a lot of damage to cars, key scratching...

"I have been broken into myself a couple of times. They stole quite a bit of stuff, TVs, jewellery." As soon as I step out of the door, I hear keys jangle and door lock immediately behind me.

Other neighbours display warnings not to approach as a 'cold caller', while one homeowner hopes to deter criminals with a 'beware of the German Shepherd' sign on their back gate.

Darren, a dad-of-five who wouldn't give his last name, shouts to check who is knocking his bungalow before peering around the ajar front door. He speaks of troublesome youths and warns against coming down to Drews Meadow Close at night.

"If you come down here after dark, around 7pm, that's when they come out...I can see why the older folk don't want to walk around here," he says. He keeps a hammer axe in his doorway in case anyone breaks in and takes a metal 'fire brigade drop key' out with him for protection.

"It's the youths, they have got no brain in them. All of them have got no manners, no respect." He adds that they will walk around in masks, but admits he too has balaclavas - explaining that if you "look like a victim", you will be victimised here.

There's more at the link.

Both of my parents were born in that city, and grew up there prior to World War II.  Both endured the privations and poverty of the Great Depression, my father and his brother having to be abandoned by their mother at a local workhouse because she couldn't afford to feed them any more.  I remember Mom and Dad talking about their home town.  Both insisted that while there was a lot of poverty, there was no major street crime (as described above) at all.  Youths who behaved like that would be disciplined by their parents, and if they wouldn't (or weren't there to do so), the community would take it on itself.  There were any number of what one might term "come-to-Jesus meetings" or "educational beatdowns" where wayward youth and local criminals were "persuaded" of the error of their ways.  As a result, streets and neighborhoods were generally safe places to live.

Sadly, of course, the same situation exists in many US inner cities today.  Crime and gang violence are endemic, and the authorities can do little to stop it thanks to "politically correct" administrators, prosecutors and city bureaucrats.  Those who are arrested are frequently released by political activist District Attorneys within hours of their detention - and, of course, this only encourages them to go out and do the same thing again.

Contrast that to the attitude in a great many smaller communities in America (such as the small town in which I currently live).  Around here, circumstances like this could not arise, because almost everyone is determined to keep this a safe, pleasant place to live, and is well equipped to do so by hook or by crook if necessary.  More than half the families on my street contain a current or former military or law enforcement veteran, and we're all prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our area clean, safe and orderly.  Any gang-banger wishing to try his antics around here will very quickly learn that for himself.

Why can't people do the same in the big cities?  Because they've allowed themselves to be "ground down" by local politics and liberal moonbattery.  Self-reliance is actively discouraged.  One's supposed to surrender control of one's personal security and right to self-defense to officials appointed to take care of that.  If one proceeds to do so oneself, one is regarded as part of the problem - even, in some jurisdictions, the cause of the problem - rather than the solution.  Essentially, the local authorities have made it a crime to protect oneself and one's neighborhood.

I'm glad I don't live in places like that any more.  Please God, I never will again!

As for Birmingham, UK, I can only imagine my parents spinning in their graves to see how their once-mighty city has fallen.  I'm glad they died before they had to see that article for themselves.  They'd have been apoplectic, incandescent with rage, at the prospect of citizens so timid, so cowardly, that they won't band together, police their own streets, and take care of business - if necessary, the hard way.  I can almost hear my father's voice in my mind.  "What do you mean, 'How do you stop them'?  You have rope and lampposts.  What more do you need, dammit?"

His generation, and my mother's, won World War II.  Would their modern successors be as successful in time of war?  One wonders...


Bait and switch and digital ID


Neil Oliver points out that in Britain, the powers that be are doing a bait-and-switch with their proposed Digital ID expansion.  I haven't been able to find a transcript of his talk (which can normally be found at GBNews), but his message is so important that I've embedded the video, even without the transcript.  I highly recommend that you take eleven minutes out of your day to watch it.

Here's a key passage, speaking about the "bait" of the prospect of electric vehicles replacing all our fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.

"Most of us won't have any sort of car at all.  Unless the demand for cars - any sort of cars - drops drastically, there's no way to hit the emissions targets our governments have loudly committed us to.  That's where the "15-minute cities" come in.  We'll be expected to walk or cycle.  Do you see the scam yet?  They advertise a world of electric cars, but what we'll end up buying is lives lived on foot, within 15 minutes of our homes."

That's about the size of it, in America as much as in Britain.  Back in pre-Industrial-Revolution times, most people were born, grew up, lived, worked, grew old and died within twenty miles of their birthplace - often less than that.  That's because travel was too difficult and too costly;  animal-powered, without roads worthy of the name, and very time-consuming.  Only the wealthy, or those making a living by moving goods and services from one place to another, could afford such travel.  In so many words, the "Green Revolution" is angling to push us all back into precisely that sort of lifestyle, where we simply can't travel much - whether we want to or not.

(What that means for folks who live out in the country, or in small towns, is left to the imagination.  In reality, the success of the 15-minute city project means that people like that will be forced to move to cities where they don't want to live, to "enjoy" a lifestyle that is anathema to them.  So much for personal freedom!)

Digital ID is yet another scam, a control freak's wet dream.  At present it's said to be "opt-in only":  if we don't want it, we won't be forced into it.  However, we all know that's nothing more than a sop to public opinion.  If the only way to access your state pension, or buy a ticket on a bus or train or aircraft, or purchase what you need, is to use your digital ID, then you have no option at all.  Worse, if we all carry ID that can be electronically scanned at any place, at any time, we will have no privacy left whatsoever.

If a crime is committed, anyone within a given distance of it will be traced, and can be interrogated at need.  We won't be able to buy or sell anything without it, because transactions will become cashless, built around the use of a digital ID to identify the purchaser (and, in the case of a private transaction, the seller).  Just think of the drools of eagerness of those wanting to ban private firearms sales.  They could identify both buyer and seller with trivial ease, just by looking back through our movements, keyed to our digital ID, and our financial transactions, keyed in the same way.  The same goes for anything and everything else.

Our privacy is already in rags and tatters.  Compulsory, enforced digital ID will destroy it completely.


On the mend


Yesterday's outpatient surgical procedure appears to have been successful.  I've got a new, relatively deep slice taken out of my left thigh, just below the groin, where the abscess was opened up and "washed out", so to speak.  It's going to be left to drain again, and the hope is that it'll seal itself up permanently.  Here's hoping!

It was intensely frustrating, as always, to have to deal with the hospital staff.  I'm sure they're doing their best as they see it, but almost without exception they won't look you in the eye, won't engage in any sort of human-to-human conversation, and maintain what I suppose they'd call a "professional distance".  Time was, I recall, when one was treated like a human being in hospital, and expected to treat the hospital staff in the same way.  Today... not so much.  It's abstract, remote, and not very "caring" from the patient's perspective.  One feels like a piece of meat on the slab in a butcher's shop.

Just as frustrating is the difficulty of digging information out of the system and the personnel.  I had some prior bloodwork done, but had never been informed of the results.  Yesterday morning I was informed that a major health indicator was "out of balance", and I needed to address it urgently - but nobody had called me as soon as it was discovered, days before the procedure, to alert me to it and give me an early opportunity to deal with it.  What's more, no follow-up treatment was suggested or offered.  Instead, I was told that I needed to fix it, without any further information or input.  Fortunately, I'm aware enough of my condition and potential treatments that I can do that:  but others, without that advantage, might be left floundering.  Why couldn't someone just have called, told me what the test revealed, and offered a suggestion or two as to a way forward?  Would that have been so difficult?  From the lack of effort, I can only suppose that yes, it would have been that difficult - at least, in their eyes.

To make matters more frustrating, my surgeon lectured me on what he considers to be the best short-term solution to the problem (which, perhaps inevitably from his perspective, would involve more surgery).  He completely failed to provide the other side of the argument, which is that the operation in question frequently results in complications, is of limited effect, and is fully successful in less than a third of cases - all facts I already knew.  Needless to say, I won't be following his suggestion.  I don't like being taken for a fool.

Sometimes the system is amusing.  I had my procedure under local anesthetic.  As part of the preparation for surgery, the anesthetist stopped by and informed me that I'd be fitted with a drip, so that if emergency anesthesia was needed (in case of complications), it could be administered without delay.  That was understandable:  but he also informed me he was going to give me a "pre-anesthesia" dose, something to relax and sedate me without knocking me unconscious, similar to what they give patients before a colonoscopy.  He was startled and upset when I refused that, saying I wanted only the local anesthetic.

"But... but... everybody gets the preliminary shot!"

"I don't want it.  It's only a little pain."

"Oh... well... I suppose it's your right to choose."

Yes, it is, and I exercised that right.  In the theater, the anesthetic technician was also surprised by my choice, and couldn't understand how anyone would want to "endure pain".  First of all, there wasn't much to endure, and second, I'm a combat veteran.  I've been shot, stabbed, bashed around and sundry other unpleasantries.  I know what real pain feels like.  Compared to those injuries, a little scalpel work is nothing to write home about.  The local anesthetic took care of 90% of it, and I sat through the rest.  That's all there is to it... but clearly, that wasn't the politically or anesthetically correct response!

Oh, well.  After more than 20 hospitalizations for this, that and the other, with stays ranging from a few hours to 40 days, I've grown accustomed to (but still intensely dislike) being no more than a digit in the system.  I suppose it's the inevitable result of more and more people seeking care from fewer and fewer doctors, nurses and medical facilities.  The torrent of illnesses, injuries and complaints overwhelms the system, effectively forcing it to become dehumanized in many ways.  I don't know how that can be fixed, except for those wealthy enough to have access to concierge medicine and private facilities.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Hospital day


By the time you read this, my surgery should be over.  I'll either be lying in a post-op bed, recovering, or (if all has gone very well) I'll be on my way home with my wife.  The operation is supposed to be under local anesthetic, but they have the option to knock me out if they think they need to shut me up work more carefully.  If they do that, I may end up having to spend a night there - something I really don't want to do, for many reasons (particularly financial).  We'll see.

Your prayers will be welcome for swift and complete healing.  Thanks for them in advance.  Regular blogging will resume (I hope) tomorrow morning.


Memes that made me laugh 144


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday morning music


Sometimes - not very often - a piece of music comes out of one cultural tradition and musical heritage, only to be adopted as their own by multiple other traditions.  It expresses emotions, feelings and images that transcend boundaries.

Such a piece was written by Scottish musician Dougie Maclean, and performed on his 1990 instrumental album "The Search".  Be patient with its relatively slow opening.  The "meat" of the song - which I'm sure most of my readers will recognize - comes in about halfway through.

As I'm sure most remember, the song was adopted as the main musical theme of the 1992 movie "The Last of the Mohicans".  As such, under the oddly spelt title "Promentory", it became instantly popular worldwide.

The song has gone on to be played by many music groups around the world, and may be one of the most "cross-cultural" pieces of our time.  I've selected a few to illustrate how it's been absorbed into other musical cultures.

First, here's a Brittany-Irish version from Breizh Pan Celtic.  I like the harp adaptation.

Next, here's Indiogenes with a South American adaptation.  I haven't learned enough about the history of that continent to know which of its ancient cultures (Aztec, Maya, etc.) may be represented here.

How about an all-guitar version?  Here's the Italian quartet 40 Fingers.

And finally, here's the late Yemeni performer Ahmed Alshaiba performing the song on the oud, a lute-type traditional instrument popular in the Middle East.

There are other adaptations out there, as a search on YouTube will reveal.  In a little over 30 years, the simple original Scottish piece has become a worldwide and multicultural phenomenon.


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Saturday Snippet: The girl I left behind me


One of Rudyard Kipling's poems I've always enjoyed is "Rimini", named for a city on the upper Adriatic coast of Italy.  It tells of a Roman legionary who remembers, after a long service career, the girl he left behind him to join the Legions.  (You can read the Kipling Society's analysis of the poem here.)

I think many modern servicemen will nod their heads in recognition of the sentiments the legionary expresses - but then, Kipling is a poet that many servicemen have taken to heart.  He understood fighting men, and expressed that very well in his writing and poetry.

Kipling sub-titled this poem "Marching Song of a Roman Legion of the Later Empire".

When I left Rome for Lalage’s sake
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini—
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini—)
And I’ve tramped Britain, and I’ve tramped Gaul,
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage—
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I’ve lost Britain, and I’ve lost Gaul,
And I’ve lost Rome and, worst of all,
I’ve lost Lalage!

When you go by the Via Aurelia,
As thousands have travelled before,
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who never saw Rome any more!
Oh dear was the sweetheart that kissed him
And dear was the mother that bore,
But his shield was picked up in the heather
And he never saw Rome any more!

And he left Rome for Lalage’s sake,
By the Legions’ Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini—
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini—)
And I’ve tramped Britain, and I’ve tramped Gaul,
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage—
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I’ve lost Britain, and I’ve lost Gaul,
And I’ve lost Rome and, worst of all,
I’ve lost Lalage!

When you go by the Via Aurelia
That runs from the City to Gaul,
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who rose to be master of all!
He carried the sword and the buckler,
He mounted his guard on the Wall,
Till the Legions elected him Cæsar,
And he rose to be master of all!

And he left Rome for Lalage’s sake,
By the Legions’ Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini—
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini—)
And I’ve tramped Britain, and I’ve tramped Gaul,
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage—
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I’ve lost Britain, and I’ve lost Gaul,
And I’ve lost Rome and, worst of all,
I’ve lost Lalage!

It’s twenty-five marches to Narbo,
It’s forty-five more up the Rhone,
And the end may be death in the heather
Or life on an Emperor’s throne.
But whether the Eagles obey us,
Or we go to the Ravens—alone,
I’d sooner be Lalage’s lover
Than sit on an Emperor’s throne!

We’ve all left Rome for Lalage’s sake,
By the Legions’ Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini—
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini—)
And I’ve tramped Britain, and I’ve tramped Gaul,
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage—
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I’ve lost Britain, and I’ve lost Gaul,
And I’ve lost Rome and, worst of all,
I’ve lost Lalage!


I wonder how many of my readers remember their own Lalage, way back when?  A few of us were fortunate enough to hold her affections, and she ours, and we've lived happily with her since then.  For most of us . . . not so much, although thanks be to God, we've found new partners.  Even so, the memory of younger days and their lost passions shines through in this poem.


Friday, January 27, 2023

That "professional certification" may not be worth the paper on which it's printed


Divemedic warns that many certifications are over-rated, if not worthless, thanks to politically correct "accommodations".

It was decided years ago, with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that it was unfair and discriminatory to treat students with intellectual disabilities (what used to be referred to as retarded) the same as other students. So this law was passed to make things more equitable. (Not equal, which is the same standard, but equitable, meaning that they have the same outcome.)

In order to make students with disabilities more likely to have the same outcome, they are granted accommodations. These accommodations can vary. It can mean that they are granted extra time, or are allowed to test in a private room with no one watching them, or that they are even give multiple choice tests with one or more of the wrong choices eliminated. Furthermore, the law goes on to say that there can be no mention of the accommodations on the student’s transcript, diploma, or other certifications. Don’t want them having the stigma of people thinking they had it easier than other students, you see.

As a result, not every student is being evaluated by the same standard. This means that a diploma is no longer a certification, as there is no guarantee that two students who have received that diploma were measured against the same yardstick. Remember that next time you are having your hair cut or being treated by a healthcare professional.

. . .

It doesn’t just extend to the classroom. Even licensing exams are given with accommodations. The implications are obvious. Your doctor or nurse might be wholly unable to provide you with competent care, but at least we didn’t hurt their feelings by making them seem inadequate.

This also makes licensure and the certification that goes with it wholly worthless.

There's more at the link.

I think we owe Divemedic a vote of thanks for rendering a public service by reminding us of this.  I'm certainly going to keep it in mind when next I have to use the services of a licensed and "certified" or "certificated" professional.  I think a few pointed questions may be in order before I trust them with my life, my health, my possessions, or my money!


Public service homicide?


An inmate in a California prison has probably just become a hero in the eyes of his fellow prisoners.

Jonathan Watson, 41, used a walking cane to beat Conti and David Bobb, 48. Both victims suffered multiple head wounds, and Bobb died en route to the hospital, officials said.

The two inmates who died were serving life sentences for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years old, according to prison records.

Watson has served 10 years of a life sentence from Humboldt County for first-degree murder and discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury or death.

There's more at the link.

There's only one permanent cure for pedophilia - and Mr. Watson just provided it.  Having served as a prison chaplain, I'm not in the least surprised.  Pedophiles tend to have a short, "interesting" (in the sense of the fabled Chinese curse) and painful life if they're put in general population in prison.  Other inmates - all too many of whom have been abused themselves as children - regard them as the lowest of the low, and treat them accordingly.

I guess the only question is whether or not Mr. Watson will get time off for good behavior.  I'm willing to bet most of the guards at his prison - if not the authorities there - will argue that he should.  They generally have no time for pedophiles, either.


Doofus Of The Day #1,102


Todays' award goes to a zoo in Linfen, China.  A tip o' the hat to Andrew in Australia for sending me the link.

A warm and fuzzy, cute and furry stunt at a zoo in China almost turned red and bloody with an unnecessary loss of life and/ or limb.

This was after the zookeepers there tried to do a symbolic passing of baton event for the Lunar New Year by putting a rabbit and tiger within close proximity of each other.

A video posted on Weibo showed exactly what happened next: The tiger, a juvenile, upon getting a whiff of the rabbit, decided to take a nice big bite out of a fellow mammal.

There's more at the link, including pictures.  The rabbit was rescued just in time.

What can I say?  You put an apex predator (albeit a juvenile one) right next to a big, fluffy piece of meat.  What the heck did they expect would happen???

One can only presume that the staff concerned had their full share of touchy-feely, politically correct, modern indoctrination - what passes for education these days.



Thursday, January 26, 2023

All together, now: AAAAWWWW!


Found on Gab (clickit to biggit):

Too cute!


The fuss about the ATF's "pistol brace" rule


There's an awful lot of verbal diarrhea floating around the Internet about the ATF's new rule concerning braces fitted to AR-15 pistols.  Most of it is uninformed opinion, hyperbole, and conspiracy theory.

To cut through the twaddle, Mike Williamson, author, blogger and meatspace friend, wrote an excellent summary of the situation.  You'll find it here, and I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.  Here's the executive summary.

So, your options are:

  1. Register it as a Short Barreled Rifle, under amnesty, for free, and get an NFA stamped form.  DOWNSIDE: You must file a Form 20 for permission every time you want to take it out of state. NOTE: No, sticking a rifle barrel on doesn’t make it not an NFA weapon. Once it is on the Registry, it remains an SBR, no matter what barrel you put on it, unless you ask them to remove it from the Registry, and either destroy it or make it not an SBR.
  2. You can remove the brace.  The brace is perfectly legal on any rifle it fits. If you own such a rifle, you now have a rifle accessory, and a pistol with no brace. You may eventually be able to put it back on, if the courts do their job and tell ATF to cut the crap. Or, you can apply for a stamp later if you wish. It will cost $200.  It might be worth the wait.
  3. You can leave it in illegal format.  I recommend against this. I especially recommend against beating your, um, chest on social media that “I WILL NOT COMPLY!”  Unless you really hate your dog and want ATF to shoot him when they come to arrest you.
  4. You can destroy the brace (if you’re an idiot) or surrender it to ATF (if you’re a bigger idiot).
  5. You can destroy the weapon (if you’re a moron) or surrender it to ATF (if you’re a complete retard).

There's more at the link.  Read the whole thing.  It's worth it.

I'm going to take the braces off my AR pistols, and use them with a plain buffer tube.  That will bring me into compliance with the regulation as it stands.  I'm considering whether it might not be worthwhile to register one as an SBR, simply to have the convenience of being able to attach a brace if I want to;  but I haven't yet made up my mind.  YMMV, of course.

There's also the fact that if a recoil-absorbent shoulder piece (e.g. a PAST shield or equivalent) is worn on the body, not attached to the weapon, it still serves the purpose of recoil absorption without needing a brace, and without falling afoul of any regulation at all.  If you were to make such a shield using up to an inch of (say) foam pipe insulation (which can be had in sheets as well as in tubes), and strap it on your shoulder, it would function rather well, I think.


A few thoughts on defensive cartridges


We've covered this subject before in these pages, on more than one occasion.  However, some of the comments on a recent blog post spoke of needing a more powerful cartridge to deal with urban terrorists of the Antifa ilk.  Examples:

  • "Maybe that .308 is a good idea after all."
  • "I do agree with Anon (above), I think it's time to temporarily retire the 5.56 and check the zero on the 7.62X51."
  • "not in a place to add x51 to the logistics. I will have to concentrate on placement."

I'll be the first to agree that, all other things being equal, the more powerful round (in this case, 7.62x51mm NATO) is more likely to incapacitate an attacker than the current military standard 5.56x45mm NATOTrouble is, all other things seldom are equal.  Many factors will help to determine whether you can stop an attacker or not.

I used an FN FAL rifle (South Africa's R1 version, chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO) in action, and later a clone of the Israeli Galil (South Africa's R4 rifle, chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO).  I was far more impressed with the "stopping power" of the former rifle and round compared to the latter.  I was taught the Rhodesian "drake shooting" technique, which worked very well in our bush warfare environment.  If a bush was behaving aggressively (or even if it just looked suspicious), one put a couple of rounds through it, low down.  Generally, the bush resumed its normal peaceful existence at once!  One couldn't guarantee that with 5.56;  their very high velocity and light bullet weight (they were first-generation M193 rounds) meant that they didn't have adequate penetration, and often broke up or were diverted by hitting twigs and branches.  If the bush was shooting at you at the time, that was a distinctly sub-optimal result!  The contemporary view was that 5.56 was a great "spray and pray" round, giving you the ability to carry a lot more smaller rounds compared to the bigger, heavier 7.62;  but if you really wanted to put someone down and keep them down, the latter was a better choice.

However, in the USA today, we're not talking about a bush warfare environment.  The heavier bullet, deeper penetration (up to and including over-penetration) and greater energy levels of a 7.62 round are contra-indicated if innocents may be exposed to danger.  That danger can be minimized by good marksmanship, but if one's any distance from one's target, and that target is moving and/or has cover or concealment available, the chances of getting a hit get steadily worse.  One can minimize risk by selecting ammunition that's less likely to pass through an attacker to hit someone else, but such rounds are hard to come by and usually very expensive.  That's the penalty one pays for selecting the more powerful cartridge.

The 5.56 cartridge, on the other hand, has been steadily developed.  I devoted an entire article to it not long ago, which I invite you to read for more details.  Briefly, one can select ammunition that's very unlikely to overpenetrate;  and one can practice more intensively with cheaper ball ammunition until one is less likely to miss one's target.  Shot placement, after all, is critical.  A powerful non-expanding bullet through a non-vital part of the body may irritate rather than incapacitate.  An expanding round in the same place will do a lot more damage to critical organs even if it near-misses them, making it more likely to end the fight.

The same applies to handgun rounds.  Probably the most common defensive handgun cartridge, by far, is the 9mm Parabellum/Luger.  The FBI has adopted it, the majority of law enforcement agencies use it, and it can be bought almost anywhere.  However, it's no more than adequate as a "stopper", and that's provided it's put in the right place.  If it's simply fired without proper aim or target selection, it's a whole lot less successful, simply because it doesn't deliver very much power.  Want an illustration?  See this article, which contains a video clip (scroll down at the link:  WARNING - GRAPHIC) of a sheriff's deputy firing no less than twelve rounds of 9mm. hollowpoint ammunition into the torso of a man advancing on him at point-blank range and striking him with a tree branch.  The aggressor absorbed all 12 rounds before finally falling over.  If he'd delivered a solid blow to the deputy's head during that time, the officer might not have survived his injuries.  Clearly, not one of those twelve rounds hit a vital spot that would have stopped the attacker in his tracks.  Shot placement was deficient every time.  It was the cumulative damage that eventually brought him down.  (The shooting was later ruled to be justified.)

If you want to contrast that with another actual case, consider the Kyle Rittenhouse affair in Waukesha Kenosha, Wisconsin a few years ago.  Mr. Rittenhouse fired only a few rounds.  According to some reports, they were standard M193 ball - nothing out of the ordinary.  However, most were fired accurately.  Two were center-of-mass hits in the chest, and killed the attackers stone dead.  A third took out a large part of a critical arm muscle, preventing the attacker using his arm and the weapon he held in his hand - what the military would call a "mission kill", even though not an actual kill.  You'll find video clips of the shootings on YouTube and elsewhere.

Again, let's point out that extremely accurate, precise shooting, particularly with a handgun, is not easy in the excitement and confusion of an armed encounter.  Someone who shoots high scores in practice or in competition might find himself shaking with tension in a real fight, and hard put to it to remember even to use his sights!  This is not uncommon.  That being the case, to use a merely "adequate" round for personal defense may not be good enough.  There's always been a strong school of thought - backed up by a great deal of combat experience - that says a more powerful round is more likely to end the fight quickly, particularly with multiple hits.  That was my experience in African conflicts during the 1980's and later.  I know several members of US special forces who'll emphatically agree with that perspective.

If you're going to use a less powerful round - rifle or pistol - in combat, you have to compensate for that lower power level by being more accurate.  Many people don't practice enough to be sure of that.  I carry a 9mm pistol almost every day, because it's small and concealable, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with its "stopping power".  Instead, I make sure that I can put my rounds where they need to go, and I won't hesitate to aim at particularly vulnerable areas of an attacker's body if that's what it will take to stop him.

In the light of the urban terrorism, rioting and unrest fostered by Antifa, BLM and their ilk, I'm also trying to find a solution that will allow me (despite my weakened spine and limited mobility) to employ heavier weapons in defense of my wife and myself if necessary.  New ammunition technology has produced some rounds that offer lighter recoil than earlier ones, both in handguns and in long guns.  If the reduction in recoil is sufficient, I may revert to heavier calibers and cartridges in my primary defensive armament.  I'm still testing them, and I'll let you know in due course.  (If you'd like to test them for yourself, consider Sellier & Bellot's XRG range of solid copper ammunition for handguns.  It looks like they've developed a viable alternative to the excellent Barnes TAC-XPD bullet range, at a lower price point.  There are also some interesting alternatives in rifle ammo, of which I'll have more to say soon.)

In general terms, as far as handgun rounds are concerned, I'm coming to the conclusion that anything that fires an expanding bullet generating muzzle energy approaching 500 foot-pounds or more is likely to be a good, efficient "stopper", provided you put the bullet where it needs to go.  That energy level appears to "jolt" the human body sufficiently that it can't be ignored or fought through - although, as always, circumstances alter cases.  If an attacker is hopped-up on drugs, or in the grip of fear or excitement, that will likely change his physiological response to being shot.  Rifles are a different case altogether, as discussed elsewhere.  More on that later.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Medical frustrations


Regular readers will recall that early in January, I developed a large abscess on my left leg.  It was drained by my local physician a couple of days later, and since then I've been waiting to hear from a surgeon to get a drain installed for further healing.  Unfortunately the surgeon never called, despite repeated follow-ups.  Turns out his staff simply didn't bother to inform us that his schedule was full until late February, so we had to find someone else.  We only found that out yesterday!  Fortunately, another surgeon agreed to fit me into his schedule today, given that delay in this situation is sub-optimal.

I saw the surgeon this morning. He reckons the abscess, even though now largely drained, is simply too large to deal with in his surgery;  so I have to go into hospital on Monday for an out-patient procedure to cut it open and deal with it.  He said he wanted a properly aseptic environment, lots of lights, and professional help if needed.  Not at all what I wanted to hear (I've been in hospital a lot more than most people, and have a hearty dislike for them), but needs must, etc. 

What infuriates me is that within half an hour of his staff scheduling the surgery, I had three phone calls in rapid succession from the hospital, all from different people.  Not one of them said a word about my condition, or asked how I was doing.  All they wanted was money:  credit card info, insurance, etc.  It was never this bad in the past.  Now, it looks like health care is nothing more than a money-making racket.  Whether or not you recover is neither here nor there, just as long as they get paid!

Anyway, I'll deal with all that later.  We'll see what happens on Monday.  Thanks in advance for your prayers, friends.


Modern dating and courtship


Scott Adams is running a series of cartoons on the subject.  Here's Dilbert from January 24th this year.  Click the image to be taken to a larger view at the comic's Web page.

"After a baby or two"?  Seems a bit late by then, doesn't it?


A friend and fellow blogger needs help


Jennifer Hast and her husband have been part of our team at the North Texas Troublemakers for years, even though they live in Oklahoma and can only occasionally get down our way.  They've been regulars at our annual Blogorado gathering, too.

Sadly, Jennifer has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Both her mother and her sister have already survived this disease, so as you can imagine, she's taking it very seriously.  She's asking for help with some big medical expenses, plus the cost of being off work for a month to recover from the procedure.  You can read all about it at her GiveSendGo fund-raiser.  She was in the process of starting her own business, but that's obviously on hold until she can put this behind her.

My wife and I have already donated, and we'll both be very grateful if you'll please read what Jennifer has to say, then contribute what you can to help her get through this.  She's worth it.  (I'm not just saying that because of the utterly delicious lumpia she sometimes brings to Blogorado, either!  They're a bonus. If I could figure out how to wheedle a lumpia out of her for every $10 my readers contribute, I would in a heartbeat!)

Thanks in advance.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Antifa - tool of the establishment


Tucker Carlson points out the obvious.  I've embedded his talk below in video form, and excerpts from the transcript follow if you prefer to read rather than listen.

Antifa is the armed instrument of the permanent Democratic establishment in Washington. Their job is to mobilize when politically necessary. Now, this is a new thing in the United States, but political militia are a common feature in third world politics. They were a staple in Haiti. In our country, however, only one party has them, the Democratic Party. They're the only ones with armed militia in the street.

So with that in mind, it's interesting to note that Antifa is back in force, and that's probably not a very good sign for Joe Biden. If nothing else, Antifa has a solid track record of getting rid of sitting presidents.

. . .

But what you have in effect here is the official endorsement of domestic terrorism from the highest level of the Democratic Party. And why wouldn't you? Again, this is their militia. These are their state-sanctioned shock troops, and they are effectively immune from criticism. 

So you go to jail for owning a 10-round magazine, but they get to do whatever they want. Merrick Garland and Christopher Wray, who runs the FBI, are making certain that every last January 6 defendant spends years in jail. Their lives are destroyed, on the no fly list. And yet Antifa terrorists get released almost as soon as they're arrested.

. . .

Is anyone going to ask what Antifa is? Who leads this group? How many more riots do they have to lead before the New York Times gets interested and does a five-part series on what is this? Who are these people? Who pays for this? Where do they stay at night? What's their background? Give us some news on Antifa. They're the biggest armed militia in the United States, and we know nothing about them. Why? Because they're aligned with the Democratic Party.

But they're telling you the real threat is rural voters with AR-15s, assault weapons. You must disarm Republican voters. No, thanks. 

Disarm? Why don't you go ahead and disband Antifa? Go full RICO on them. Let's find out who their leaders are. Let's see them in jail. Then maybe you can tackle street crime and then pay a little bit of attention to the drug cartels that control the southwestern United States. And then maybe at that point, you will convince some people to register their AR-15s, But until you do that, up yours.

There's more at the link.

I can't disagree with a word Tucker Carlson says.  The reality is painfully obvious to everyone except those in lock-step with the progressive left-wingers who currently control the reins of federal power.  We're very fortunate - some of us - to live in states that are not of that persuasion, and are strong enough to resist federal and progressive-left encroachment to at least some extent.

I've had to deal with government bully-boys on more than one occasion, in more than one country.  I learned the hard way that there's only one way to stop them.  They're convinced that they're in the right, they know they won't face any consequences for what they do, and the legal system is on their side, so they keep on coming, no matter what.  There's only one way to stop them, and that is physically - by resisting their force with equal or greater force, making them stop.  I suspect that's the reality more and more Americans will have to accept from here onward.

Oh, well.  Time to check out the ammo locker and replenish any gaps.  (I doubt there'll be many . . . after literally decades of witnessing violence and anarchy at first hand, I lost my innocence about that sort of thing a long, long time ago!)  Given how many of these Antifa domestic terrorists are wearing body armor, though, it might be a good idea to stock up on things that can defeat such measures.


So much for the 'Rule of Law' in Seattle


The far-left cabal that runs Seattle has demonstrated, yet again, its contempt for anything and anyone that tries to hold it accountable for its misdeeds.  This time, it's flagrant disobedience to court orders.

The city of Seattle has been hit with sanctions by a federal judge for deleting thousands of text messages between officials, including the former mayor, police chief, and fire chief during the deadly three-week-long Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or what was termed the CHAZ or CHOP.

. . .

The destruction of the evidence was intentional and officials worked for months to hide the evidence, which included deleting texts, according to the judge. He wrote, “The Court finds substantial circumstantial evidence that the city acted with the requisite intent necessary to impose a severe sanction and that the city’s conduct exceeds gross negligence.”

The judge added that when the case goes to trial he will impose a “severe sanction” on the city and instruct the jury to presume the text messages were detrimental to the city’s case and that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence they were deleted intentionally.

Zilly wrote in the 39-page order, “City officials deleted thousands of text messages from their city-owned phones in complete disregard of their legal obligation to preserve relevant evidence. Further, the city significantly delayed disclosing … that thousands of text messages had been deleted” and could not be recovered or recovered.

He concluded, “As a result, substantial evidence has been destroyed by the city and is unavailable to plaintiffs to support their position in this litigation.”

. . .

Zilly wrote, “Although the city issued a significant number of litigation holds” that required the preservation of all evidence pertaining to the lawsuits that had been filed months earlier, “Officials at the highest levels of city government completely disregarded these holds and deleted thousands of relevant text messages.”

He stated in the order, “Instead, Mayor Durkan, Chief Best, Chief Scoggins, and other key city officials purged (through factory resets, changed retention settings, or manual deletions) thousands of CHOP-related text messages from their phones after they were under a clear legal obligation to preserve such information and without confirming that all of their text messages had been preserved through other means.”

There's more at the link.

Therefore, those businesses suing the Seattle city council for the disruption and financial losses caused to their businesses by the CHAZ/CHOP fiasco must now make their case without much of the evidence they need to prove it.  That, of course, was probably the entire point of the mass deletion of messages.

I think the judge was absolutely correct to say that at the trial, he would "instruct the jury to presume the text messages were detrimental to the city’s case and that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence they were deleted intentionally".  However, we're dealing with a Seattle jury.  What are the odds that there won't be sufficient hard-progressive-left jurors that they'll ignore the judge's instructions and vote according to their political views?

I'm glad I'm not on trial for anything in Seattle.  I'm far from sure I'd get a fair trial, or a just verdict and sentence.


Monday, January 23, 2023

He who has ears to hear, let him hear...


Clickit to biggit.  (Source)

If, after seeing that, you're still optimistic about the US economy in the short to medium term, I have this bridge in Brooklyn, NYC to sell you.  It's not just a bargain, it's a steal!  Cash only, please, and in small bills.


"A Created Global Food Crisis"


Sundance at The Last Refuge puts the ongoing food crisis in a nutshell, echoing much of what I've been saying over the past year or more.

Joe Biden, NATO, the G7, the European Union, the World Bank, USAID, and every western leader in the United States and Europe stated in early and mid 2022 there will be food shortages in 2023.

They did not say there might be shortages; their statements were emphatic, there will be shortages.

Accept this basic cornerstone.  Then ask why not a single proactive step has been taken by any of the aforementioned institutions or governments to alleviate what they declare is a certainty.  Why?

Simple question, “why?”

If all of the western nations, non-govt organizations and heads of state, are aware of a coming food crisis, why is there no proactive response?

It is a question that even the most hardcore leftists will not answer, because there is only one answer.  No action is being taken because they do not want to take action.  No effort to avoid the crisis is being done, because they do not want the crisis avoided.

Peel all the layers of obfuscation and causation away, and what we find is the epicenter of the food shortage is directly the result of the Build Back Better agenda.  A post-pandemic western government deliberate decision to radically change global energy development.  In succinct terms, the climate change agenda.

However, regardless of how you feel about the validity of “climate change,” the cause of diminished food supplies is purposeful.  It is not climate change causing food shortages. It is the purposeful action taken under the guise of mitigating climate change that is causing the shortage of food.

The collective Build Back Better energy policy of western governments’ is the reason for massive increases in energy costs, massive oil price jumps, gasoline price increases, significant increases in chemical costs, increases in diesel fuel costs, shortages of fertilizer created using natural gas, and the end result is lower crop yields, higher farming costs and eventually, food shortages.  They knew this.

All of the organizations and government who have been decrying the future shortage of food, know it is the radical shift in energy resource development that is creating the crisis.  This acceptance of reality begins the framework to understand just how entrenched and committed these western leaders are toward their beloved climate change agenda.

We are only just now beginning to see the first aspects of the food shortage.  However, once the issue becomes unavoidable the western leaders will not and cannot accept the blame for what they have done.  They will blame-cast, excuse and justify what is surfacing.

Food shortages will be blamed on the Ukraine conflict, Russian aggression, climate change and any various iteration of justification that does not identify the true cause, their energy ideology.

I’m not so sure that people fully understand what the entire system of western government would be willing to do to avoid being blamed for avoidable death on a potential scale that is quite alarming.  All of the western leaders, institutions and governments are on the same boat.   They are all in this together.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Notice, too, how those who are trying to prepare for what's so clearly coming down the pike at us are already being vilified as "hoarders" and "black marketeers".  Never mind that it's a matter of simple, basic responsibility to prepare to feed one's family during hard times:  that's now an indicator that one is being anti-social, selfish and mean-spirited.  Those who've seen the writing on the wall and are preparing for what it predicts know better, of course.

Nevertheless, "preppers" had best be prepared not only for natural and man-made disasters, but for official vilification.  Their food stocks might - no, not "might", but almost certainly will - be targeted for confiscation, and they may face prosecution if they don't proactively hand them over to the Nanny State.  That's yet another way that the powers that be - who are, let us remember, ultimately responsible for the food crisis - will try to deflect responsibility from themselves onto other, easier targets for the anger of the mob.  It's easier to get the residents of a street, or a suburb, worked up about and angry at a local Henry the Hoarder or Paul the Profiteer than at some nebulous bureaucrat or politician in a city far away.  That takes the heat off those guilty of the problem, and diverts it onto some poor schmuck who just wanted to feed his family.

It's very, very late to begin preparations for food shortages and increase your family's security, if you haven't already done so.  Nevertheless, every little helps:  and even now, at this very late stage, you can still stock up enough supplies to get you through a month or two of hard times without breaking your budget.  I can only recommend very strongly that you do so.

Furthermore, make sure you have enough security equipment on hand, and have trained in its effective use, and have taken sufficient security precautions, to make sure you can keep your supplies.  That may well become necessary.  Certainly, in every one of the (multiple) countries where I've seen serious food shortages, it has been necessary.  Every time.  Hungry people aren't widely known as respecters of rights or persons.  Nor are bureaucrats and politicians trying to cover their asses.


Memes that made me laugh 143


Gathered around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday morning music


I found this over at Phil's place.  It made me laugh, so I figured my readers would enjoy it too.

I still question whether Starbucks can be classified as coffee at all, but there you are . . .


Saturday, January 21, 2023

Saturday Snippet: Everything goes wrong at a triumphal celebration


I was in my teens when I first discovered Dorothy Dunnett's six-book Crawford of Lymond saga.  It remains one of the finest works of historical fiction I've ever read, and I've had paper copies in my library for decades.  I've just invested in the Kindle edition of the set, which is remarkably low-cost given the amount of pages it contains - a bargain in anyone's language.

The six volumes of the series are, in order, The Game of Kings:  Queen's Play:  The Disorderly Knights:  Pawn in Frankincense:  The Ringed Castle:  and Checkmate.  For today, I've chosen an excerpt from the last of those volumes.

There's so much excellence in the book that it's hard to pick out one short excerpt to post here.  I decided that humor would be a welcome antidote to some of the darker pieces I've posted in the past;  and Ms. Dunnett's humor shines through the piece I've chosen like a well-tuned searchlight.  This piece is set in France in 1557, at what is supposed to be a triumphal celebration of a military victory.  Enjoy!

He was not to know, his strung-up nerves doctored with alcohol, that disaster upon glorious disaster was about to befall the City of Paris’s Antique Triumph for the Heroes of Calais; or to guess what was to follow it. He had no premonition even when the curving line of royal carriages drew up on the gentle riverside slope of the Grève and rested there closed in the downpour while the City Fathers waited civilly ranked, their plumes and satins and erminetails buffeted like furzy wrack in the cataract.

In time, the rainstorm abated. The City Fathers stood, water running down their humble features. The King’s carriage door opened. The King’s steps were placed before it. The King emerged and placed his foot, smiling, upon them. The Town Battery embarked on an offering of deafening salvoes. The King’s carriage horses reared, and the King fell out on to the paving.

Lymond buried his face in his hands.

* * *

The guns were still firing as the Royal family, the Princes of the Blood, the victors of Calais and their ladies moved within the pictured arcade erected about the Hôtel de Ville portals. The Town’s fifty standing hackbuts also began their salute, followed almost immediately with a carillon of bells from the church of St. Jean en Grève, another from the belltower of St. Esprit and a third, a little behindhand, from St. Jacques de la Boucherie, whose tenor rope had broken.

A small concert of fifes, trumpets, clarions and tambours struck up inside the arcade (Hoc Hercule Dignae and cardboard marble) where the Prévôt des Marchands, his mouth opening and shutting, delivered his message of welcome. The King, his mouth also opening and shutting, could be seen to be persevering with an affable reply. Philippa’s husband, crimson with suppressed laughter beside her, was discovered to be talking also.

“What?” Philippa screamed.

“I said,” shrieked the noble and puissant seigneur François, comte de Sevigny, “thank God the guns are pointing…”

Silence fell.

“…away from us.”

He had dropped his voice in time, but Marshal Strozzi, also unfortunately commenting just behind, had not. There was an explosion of laughter, abruptly cut off. With her husband, very slightly out of hand, walking beside her Philippa followed the others up the staircase between the breathing ranks of Archers, Arbalestriers and Hackbutters of the Town and past Vicissitude, France In Triumph, the royal arms, the town arms and the motto, GRADATIM, or gradually repeated above every third step of an almost imperceptible progress into the Grand’ Salle of the Hôtel de Ville de Paris.

They had done their best, with tapestries, with paintings, with fleurs-de-lis and ships on the rafters, to create an Antique Triumph fit for the monarch. Pinned with ivy, painted on friezes were the escutcheons and the devices of everyone: the crescent of the King, the iris of the Queen, the Eclipse of Monsieur, the Gorgon of the King’s sister, the thistle of the Queen of Scotland, its purple still faintly running; the emblem, chastely sportive, of Madame de Valentinois, the King’s permanent mistress.

Happy fancies abounded. Along each tapestried wall hung ten twinned ivy crescents tied with taffeta: a reminder, had the Cardinals needed one, of the long and useful alliance between the Turkish and Christian kingdoms. At the service end of the room a Latin inscription, big enough to be read by the king and commencing SCOTIA TUTA SUIS, ACCEPTA BOLONIA…extolled the present reign’s finest successes. At the royal end hung the choicest offering: a rose-decked goddess with Bacchus and Satyrs and a verse beginning TU DEA. BACCHUS, AMOR…and ending, PRAELIA MNEMOSYNE, NON POCULA REGIA CURET, or, Count only the battles and not the cups the king drinks.

The names of the Duke de Guise, of Calais, of Guînes were everywhere, interwoven with heroic parallels: Jason; Ganymede; the banner of Caesar with four V’s instead of one, signifying that M. de Guise, having come, seen and conquered at last, should this time trap his good fortune by chains in case, as ever, it dodged him. The town had worked very hard.

On the other hand, although twenty years had passed since the Prévôt and Echevins, armed with silver trowels, had laid the foundation stone of the new Hôtel de Ville, it stood still only two storeys high, and its Grand’ Salle did not allow any elbow room when its tables were set for a hundred. Those invited by the Prévôt to watch, already admitted, lined the walls of the room on a scaffolding. Those invited by the Prévôt to sup, in their best clothes and early, naturally made sure of their places also.

The King entered, the trumpets blew, the bells rang out afresh from the churches, and the twenty-six merchants’ wives already ensconced at the High Board rose, curtseyed and settled again, smiling at their less privileged friends. It was clear where the King was to go, since the royal chairs had been placed on a dais. Where the princes of the blood, the victors of Calais and the great lords of the court were to be seated was for fifteen minutes a matter of frenzy.

Steering purposefully, Philippa found two vacated places just below the Sieur d’Andelot, the Duke de Nevers and Seigneur d’Estrée for the former Voevoda of Russia and King’s Lieutenant-General in Paris, who was showing a maddening preference for simply standing stock-still, looking virtuous.

Unfortunately, Piero Strozzi elected to come and sit on her other side. He caught Lymond’s eye, which was not hard to do. Philippa Somerville turned to the Marshal and addressed him in succinct Italian. “If you laugh, I shall kick you.”

“Signora,” said Piero Strozzi, “if you care to continue in this field of discussion after dinner, we should have much to say to one another. That is——”

He broke off, his eye arrested by something on her other side, and then resumed, injured, “…that is, if you had not brought your Russian retinue with you. In bocca serrata mai non entrò mosca. I give you a friendly warning. You think M. de Sevigny is drunk. He is not.”

“You might not think so,” said Lymond amiably. “But in ten minutes or so, I am going to slip under the table and lie there.” On his other side, the comtesse de Laval put her hands over her ears and pulled a face at him. The noise, ringing back from the beams, was quite dizzying, and so were the fumes of sweat and scent and wet clothes and incoming food. The doors, which had been with difficulty shut, burst open again to admit a group of noisy, wet people. They closed, and then opened again. There were not enough places at the table. The benches jostled with incomers. The narrow space between the long trestles was filled with parties looking for seats, parties standing or kneeling on seats or parties simply meeting other parties and exchanging various witty ripostes.

They were all, Philippa saw, minor members of the Court, who had had no invitations in the first place. Perrot, speaking to the King, looked extremely flustered. The Maître d’Hôtel was sweating. More people began to pour in. The superfluity of blue blood, it was clear, was more than thirty Archers without benefit of password knew how to control. The reeking air, pushed by the heat from the two raging fires, moved and swung and swirled up to the rafters where the municipal chandeliers, specially made in black and white, the King’s colours, tossed and swayed from their herbaceous pinnings.

The comte de Sevigny looked up, his hair, and the priceless collar he wore neat and spiteful and glittering in the candlelight. “Christ,” he said. “Piero. What are you going to do when the candelabra fall down?”

Piero Strozzi leaped to his feet. “Messeigneurs!” The roar of it cut across even that febrile cacophony. “Messeigneurs nearest the door! The candelabra are about to fall on you!”

That got rid of twenty-five people. By a miracle of sinuous movement, Lymond was by the outer doors as the last of them backed out, exclaiming. The outer doors shut, then the inner doors. Marshal Strozzi, leaping to his feet, roared, “Messeigneurs! All has been made safe! The Prévôt begs you all to sit and be welcome!”

Everyone subsided. Opposite her, Philippa noticed, she had the god Janus with a key in his hand, and a verse beginning QUI BIFRONS FUERAM, GALLIS SUM GALLICUS UNA FRONTE DEUS, indicating, she took it, that he was prepared to be two-faced for everyone except Frenchmen. It reminded her of something. Lymond, sliding back, said, “I’ve told Jacob if his Archers let another soul in, I’ll shout Fire. They’ll all jump through the windows.” A braying noise, creeping into the room while he was speaking, broadened, intensified, and began to permeate the clangorous gases.

Strozzi screamed. Lymond, not in the least disturbed, frowned at him. “I asked the hautboys and clarions to play for us. Paris, fontaine de toutes sciences. If you can’t lay your hands on three hundred Tartar horsemen with scimitars, I recommend clarions for quelling a riot. What, then?”

Piero Strozzi had screamed again. The Queen’s cousin rose to his feet. Below the black hair, tightly curled with the damp, his lips were drawn back in a rictus of passion, displaying his broken teeth. Then, raising one pink and ribboned arm, he swept it across the table and tore from a startled échevin’s grasp the silver cup from which he was drinking. Gouts of claret soaked the municipal rust and crimson velvet. The merchant jumped to his feet.

Nose to nose: “You have many ill-deserved rights as échevin of this undesirable city,” said Piero Strozzi, “but stealing my table silver is not one of them!”

Someone hauled, with steady violence, at his coat. He rocked, but remained standing.

“Monseigneur!” Where visible through beard and winestains, the merchant’s face was blotched with fury. “I demand reparation! You insult me and the city which honours you!”

“Honours me!” roared Marshal Strozzi, staggering and recovering with aplomb. He interrupted himself, staring along the crowded table. “Mon petit François, there is your silver, also.”

“So it is,” said Lymond with interest. The merchant’s wife who was admiring a great salt in cut glass and silver snatched her hands back, turning white. The man at her side began to rise slowly, piping like a Chinese ocarina. Lymond, concentrating, surveyed him closely. “Now I think of it, the shirt is very familiar.”

“My lord count!” said the Councillor.

“…But I couldn’t swear to it, in a court of law. I don’t object. The intention is to make us feel at home.” He lifted a heavy silver-gilt object from the table far to his left and showed it helpfully to Marshal Strozzi. “There’s one of your livery pots.” Marshal Strozzi lunged.

This time Philippa waited until he was off-balance. Then she took a strong grasp of his fur-trimmed coat with both hands and jerked.

With a crash and a hooting of oaths which out-trumpeted even the clarion, Marshal Strozzi fell on his back. It was a gradual fall, broken by the short row of pages behind him. He dropped into a dish of roast swan, and from there into a platter of bustards, and ended with a liquid sigh on the floor in a bowl of small pullets with vinegar. Gilded plumes from the swan quilled, with chic, a bubbling tippet of gravy. From the ruffled merchants, there came a squeal of shocked glee. He lay, speechless.

Across his fallen chair, Lymond gazed reflectively at his wife. “You borrowed the silver,” he said.

“Someone had to help them,” said Philippa. “The King invited himself, and left them eight days to get ready. Baptiste had four days to finish the paintings. The tinsmith could only supply so much on short notice. They had to have linen brought in and laundered and buy rose water to scent it, and torch batons and wine, and get a Folder of Linen for the napkins. The master roasters and bakers haven’t had any sleep for three days, and Jodelle for four, and they’ve all been here since this morning, slaving to make everything ready.”

Piero Strozzi sat up, his gravy-stained hands negligently clasped about his steaming and redolent knees. “But why the comtesse de Sevigny?” he inquired. He was no longer annoyed.

Philippa glanced at Lymond. “The comte de Sevigny had protected the walls of their city. They were willing to entrust me with their pride.”

“Ah.” Piero Strozzi rose to his feet, righted his chair and removing his ruined coat, seated himself in his doublet. “I think, mon petit François, that your wife delivers a reprimand and a warning. We watch our conduct?”

“It’s going to be awful,” Philippa said, flinching as the King’s trumpets, shrieking, announced the general serving of the banquet. “But if your bone-headed scions make fools of them, the Prévôt and Councillors will never forgive them.”

Piero Strozzi and Francis Crawford looked at one another. “A hint,” said Lymond, “sufficeth for the wise, but a thousand speeches profit not the heedless. Did you hear what she said?”

“Unfortunately,” said Piero Strozzi, “I heard what she said. She spoke good sense.”

“No bloodshed, harrows and ffrayes?”

“I have said this before,” said Piero Strozzi austerely. “You have no sense of responsibility. Look at those titled louts at the end of the table who will not sit because they have not been brought wine. Do they not realize that pages cannot pass between the tables if they move about and meet their friends and slap one another, laughing?”

“We have wine?” said Lymond.

“Yes. And some of us have had too much of it. Let us pass it,” said Piero Strozzi, picking up two of the willow-covered flasks standing before him, “to those more deserving.”

The two bottles sailed through the air. Pursued by three other pairs they made their way, hurtling, from one end of the table to the other. As it happened, there were no mishaps. The young men clambering over the end of the table desisted for the nonce and sat down. A dam of steaming dishes, thus released, proceeded like a millrace down the room and then halted again, blocked by a hilarious group. “Why,” said the comtesse de Laval on Lymond’s other side, “are the pages four feet high? They cannot see where they are going.”

“And yellow and violet silk!” said Piero Strozzi. “It martyrs the eye even more than your vulgar collar, mon fils.”

“They’re children. Whose?” said Lymond sharply.

“The merchants’ sons,” said Philippa. The Marshal had been right. He was sober. “The children are serving everywhere except the royal table, to honour the King and allow them a share of the celebration. But of course, they’re frightened. And the crowd won’t let them through.”

“They will,” said Lymond briefly.

She caught his arm, and then dropped her hand instantly, her colour heightened. “No. You can’t control it for them.”

“No,” he agreed after a moment. He dropped back into his seat. “But I can dispatch some very dirty stares. Piero?”

“I heard you,” said Piero. “You have become responsible. No te quiero. No te quiero, Juliano.”

“You will,” Lymond said, “when the Paris Parlement votes us all that beautiful money to enable you to squeeze more victory prizes out of the poor bleeding treasury of France. If you will control that little bastard Paliano at your end, I shall petrify the equerries by the fireplace at mine. Oh Christ, he’s going to spill jelly all over us.” He switched to French. “I see, mon cher, you carry this as the King’s pages do. I know a better way. Hold it thus, and thus. You see? And smile. The King likes smiling faces.”

Piero Strozzi closed his mouth, which had fallen ajar. “Of course,” he said. “You have a son, don’t…”

He roared. “I beg your pardon. My foot slipped,” said Philippa. “Have a date flan, and don’t talk so much while the hautboys are playing. If you lose your voice, none of us will know what to do.”

In fact, they did their best to salvage the occasion. The Sieur d’Estrée and the d’Andelots helped. But disaster, like a dropped stitch in knitwear spread running and, torn between sympathy and hysteria, Philippa was forced to watch the evening steadily and formidably falling apart.

Children were sick, burst into tears and dropped dishes. All the marzipan arrived at one table and all the cream dariolles at another. The trestle nearest the serving door captured all the Auxerre wine as it came through and refused to let the serving children carry it further.

The tables further from the serving door began throwing dragees in protest, followed by harder objects: Piero Strozzi at this point collected his own silverware and the Sevigny crystal and put it under his bench, which led to a good deal of excitement from the deprived diners who had to drink out of the wine flasks, share cups or pour wine on their platters and lap it, which some of them unhappily did.

A brief moment of uneasy silence fell during the saying of grace by the Cardinal, and another was accorded the eulogy to the Duke de Guise by the Prévôt des Marchands.

There followed a modest reply by the Duke, the hero of Calais himself, dressed, as Lymond had predicted, in white and gold velvet and diamonds. He made courteous reference, in the course of it, to the able support of his many brave captains and applause broke out all round the tables where Philippa and her companions were sitting.

When the Lieutenant-General had resumed speaking: “Chacun son tour,” said Piero Strozzi under his breath. “You know why M. de Guise kept none of the booty from Calais? A million pounds in gold, he gave to his captains, and fifty thousand livres’ worth of English fleeces to d’Andelot alone—the painting of Jason there, mon fils, should bear a Coligny face. Monseigneur required a military success and a popular success both, and you and I gave it to him. O, God in heaven: we are to suffer a fanfare?”

The speech had ended, and the comte de Sevigny’s antiseptic blue gaze was turned on his garrulous companion. “He’s going to recite,” Philippa said.

Lymond recited. It was, happily, something she could help him with.

“His prayses with the princely noyse—”

“—Of sounding trumpets blow”:

“Prayse hym upon the viole, and—”

“—Upon the harpe also.”

“Prayse him with Timbrel and with Flute—”

“—Organnes and Virginalles,”

“With sounding Cymbals prayse ye hym—”

“—Prayse hym with loude Cymbals.”

“—There are times when I feel,” Philippa said, “that one set of cymbals would be sufficient.”

“But the Duke de Guise,” Lymond said, “is happy with two sets of cymbals, and quand le bâtiment va, tout va…Philippa, Philippa, what have you been hiding from us? A plague of demons is attempting to enter the room, a sword of fire out of the gullet of each of them, and every one of them as high as the clouds of heaven. The City Fathers have commissioned a Spectacle?”

“Oh dear!” said Philippa, groaning. “The City Fathers have commissioned two entertainments from Jodelle. But they should have drawn the boards first.”

“They should certainly have drawn the boards first,” Lymond concurred. “They’re going to act in and out of the King’s jacket buttons….Oh, Christ. Orpheus?”

“Orpheus,” agreed Philippa sorrowfully. Fighting his way through the crowd, his laurel wreath knocked quite a little askew, trod a singular figure with a carmine smile, a paunch and a lyre. From the shifting shape of his mouth, but from nothing else, one could tell he was singing.

The court, being accustomed to mime, made no concessions. The volume of greeting, conversation and comment rose, intensified and thundered back on itself, carrying Orpheus into masterful inaudibility. A pasteboard belfry jammed in the doorway, tripped, and entered on six dirty feet. A second one followed.

“Francis…” said Piero Strozzi. 

“Be quiet,” said Lymond. “I’m lip-reading. Chantés rochers, et avecq’ vostre Orphee, Adorés moy d’un grand Roy le Trophee. Rochers?”

“Chlochers,” Philippa said. “They ordered rocks and got belfries. Bad handwriting.”

“Hell’s own bells too, if I may say so,” said Lymond.

“Rocks with Sirens in them,” Philippa corrected him patiently. “You’re very slow. It’s Jason and the Argonauts.”

“No one’s handwriting could be that bad,” said Lymond. The Sirens, quavering, retrieved their meandering minims, breathed, and arrived in scratchy unison at their ultimate lines.

O trois trois fois trois fois heureus Orphee
O trois trois fois trois fois heureus Trophee.

A yap of hysteria rose from the audience. “Francis,” said Piero Strozzi. “Mon petit François; Madame; I have done my best to help make of this historic Triumph an event which Messieurs of the Ville will relate to their grandsons. I have tried. You have tried. But nothing, mort-Dieu, can redeem this bella cagata. I, Hesychast,” said Piero Strozzi, “am going to lie on the floor and—forgive me—study my belly-button.”

And he did, gracefully, accompanied by the claret flask. Philippa Somerville looked up at Lymond, who had risen and was concentrating visibly on the players.

“Well?” said Philippa kindly.

He turned his head slowly and stared at her. “Minerva in a canvas shirt of mail and a helm with a cock on the top. There’s a gorgon’s head on her shield.”


“She has quite a short ginger beard. She’s forgotten her lines. In any case, she can’t hear the prompt.”

“That must be awkward for her,” Philippa said.

“Yes. There she goes. You should listen. How about that?

“…Me suis de ton Paris faite la gardienne
Par ton Pere, qui seul me rend Parisienne…”

“And now,” continued the architect of the battle of Calais, his voice somewhat stifled, “there is a very large ship attempting to walk through the doorway.”

“Argo,” said Philippa. “I told you.”

“And you recall those little budge wigs made of lambskin…? Could it be Jason?” said Lymond. “In leopard fur, kicking the belfries in their white satin slops? It’s not their fault. They can’t see where the door is. But they’ve got the ship through. They’re trying to put up the mast. And who’s that?”

Philippa craned. “That’s Mopsus, the Argonauts’ soothsayer. He was killed by the bite of a serpent.”

“Not this one. This one,” said Lymond, “is going to be hanged like Mumphazard for saying nothing. You know how Jason died?”

“Naturally,” said Philippa, severely. “A beam from the ship fell on his…Oh, dear.”

“Philippa,” said Lymond weakly against the rising gale of anguish and laughter, “I do beg your pardon, but if I am to attend court again, I shall have to retire under the table with Piero. Gradatim.”

He gazed owlishly at her and she, her eyes brimming, stared back at him. Acutely as she felt for the échevins’ suffering, there was a limit to one’s powers of civil endurance.

They exploded together, and Lymond slid, as he had threatened, under the table to lie silently shrieking beside the reclining figure of the Queen’s favourite cousin while Philippa, covering her face with her hands, sat helplessly through the heroic dregs of the Antique Triumph of Calais.

There really was such a celebration following the French capture of Calais from the English, way back then.  Ms. Dunnett has described it so beautifully that I doubt the historical reality could ever match the image she draws for us.  Brilliant comedic writing!