Tuesday, October 3, 2023

My wife's latest book is published!


My wife Dorothy's new science fiction novel, "Dust Of The Ocean", has just been published.  It's currently available in e-book format, and a print edition is imminent as soon as it completes Amazon's pre-print processing, which is currently in hand.

The blurb reads:

In the ruins of an ancient alien city, a half-alien slave's act of mercy will change the course of a cold war.

When Mika saves Arkady, a wounded enemy soldier, he offers her a path to freedom. All it will take is finding a hidden artifact that may alter the course of an interstellar conflict…

But the path there will plunge their team into the depths of inhuman nightmares, battling ancient bioweapons and outwitting her former owners. It's going to take everything they have just to survive, much less escape with their prize!

This is Dorothy's longest work to date, at just under 100,000 words.  It's a stand-alone novel, but is set in the same fictional universe as her earlier "Shattered Under Midnight".  I did a lot of the editing and pre-publication work on her new book, and enjoyed it very much.  I hope you will too.

My next two books are in the works, and should be out within a few months, God and the host of hassles I'm fighting at the moment permitting!  Yes, this is my circus and those are my monkeys, and I'm trying to figure out a way to euthanize as many of them as possible!  I think I need a few weeks with 48-hour days and no need for sleep, just to get on top of the mess.  Life may not be fun at the moment, but it's definitely not boring!


Monday, October 2, 2023

The range wars of the Wild West were never like this!


Range wars, where cattlemen battled sheepherders for grazing in the days of the Wild West, are well-known affairs that have attracted much study.  However, I don't think many of them - any of them? - sank to this level.

Accused of bleaching images of male genitalia and other markings onto their neighbor’s cows, a Crook County father and son are now facing felony-level property destruction charges.  

Two criminal complaints filed last month in the Sundance Circuit Court allege that Patrick Sean Carroll, who is 66 this year, and his son Tucker Kye Carroll, who is 34 this year, funneled 189 heifers and six bulls into a chute and bleach-dyed them to get a neighbor’s attention after three years of having the cattle cross onto their land.  

Some of the heifers had penis shapes bleached onto their bodies, according to an evidentiary affidavit written by Crook County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Jessen. 

. . .

Rusty Williamson of Williamson Land and Livestock also came to the corrals, says the affidavit ... buyers reportedly told Williamson that the heifers, unmarked, would have been worth about $2,600 per head, but now they were worth about $1,850.

Buyers may think the cows were marked to signal something wrong with them, says the affidavit.

The loss among 189 heifers would be $141,750, says the affidavit. This figure doesn’t account for any losses among the marked bulls.

There's more at the link.

In the days of the Wild West, if someone yelled "Draw!" they usually meant to reach for one's gun.  Nowadays, it seems to mean "Reach for the bleach!"  Odd, that . . .  As for drawing genitalia on cattle, aren't most of them castrated before they get too big?  (That's what the term "steer" means:  it's a bull that's been de-bulled, so to speak.)  Therefore, isn't such drawing actually false advertising?  Could that be added to the charges?

Curiouser and curiouser . . . and that's no bull!


When police and prosecutors can't or won't uphold the law


A report from Sweden suggests that some people are no longer waiting for the authorities to act against serious crime.  It's been auto-translated into English.

A 26-year-old taxi driver from the Middle East was reported for rape against a 14-year-old girl – and then found hanged in a nature reserve. Now the girl, her boyfriend and three of his brothers are suspected of the very troublesome murder, which according to the prosecutor had the character of "an execution".

The events began in February this year when the then 15-year-old girl reported that the taxi driver had raped her when she was 14.

On March 26, a taxi was found abandoned, overflowing and with the taximeter in progress on a parking at Hjälstaviken nature reserve in Enköping municipality north of Stockholm.

On April 1, the taxi driver – was found hung in a tree 500 meters from the car.

The police quickly turned their attention to the now accused youth. All young people refuse crime except the girl who admits that she attracted the man to the place – but only because he was beaten.

. . .

All the defendants deny crimes, but the evidence includes mast connections from mobile phones and DNA traces.

On a jacket, DNA was found from both the taxi driver and one of the brothers.

There's more at the link.

That's what happens when the authorities can't or won't act against criminals, particularly unwanted alien intruders (of which Sweden has an outsize proportion among its population).  It's not limited to Sweden by any means.  Friends, acquaintances and contacts of mine in law enforcement around these parts, ranging from Oklahoma City to Dallas/Fort Worth and from Amarillo to Texarkana, have all reported "unintended consequences" of crimes, sometimes fatal for the criminals, other times just very, very painful and/or impoverishing.  I'd say I've heard of at least a couple of dozen occurrences over the past year or two, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

When police will no longer respond to a crime because it's too "minor" for them to bother about, or because they're too busy elsewhere, or because it's politically incorrect to make a fuss about certain crimes and/or perpetrators . . . people will take it upon themselves to act.  The authorities don't like that, and will doubtless threaten dire consequences, but it's already happening and it's going to go on happening.  After all, if those same authorities ignore the rule of law and the provisions of our constitution by encouraging (and even paying for) massive alien invasion, they shouldn't be surprised when the crimes committed by those aliens (an increasing proportion of them, I'm told) attract consequences that also ignore the law and the constitution.  One good (?) turn deserves another, and all that sort of thing.

Of course, I don't approve of such doings and I don't recommend that readers of this blog should act that way.  Nevertheless, it's still going to happen.  For the authorities to think they can stop it by issuing severe warnings and passing yet more laws and regulations against it is utter folly.  People will do whatever they need to do to ensure their security.  It's been that way for generations, and it's not about to change.

It's very telling that many governments and their agencies are coming down more and more in favor of evil, and against good, in defiance of their citizens.  It's not just about crime - it's about every aspect of our lives.  Neil Oliver asks:  "Who are we and what is it we truly care about?"

Those are very good questions.  Highly recommended viewing.


Memes that made me laugh 179


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

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sunday morning music


Growing up many thousands of miles from North America, I wasn't exposed to most of the songs, movies and other things with which children in this part of the world grew up.  I still take delight in occasionally finding something for kids that really captures my imagination, or makes me wish I could enjoy it the way local kids do.

One such moment came on Friday, when Toni Weisskopf (editor of Baen Books) posted this instrumental piece on MeWe.  It's by a Canadian singer calling himself Raffi, who's performed for children for decades.  I'd never heard of him before.  Like Toni, I found this piece charming.  It's called "Water Dance".

Intrigued, I looked for more information about Raffi, and found an article about him on Wikipedia.  YouTube hosts his channel, from which I picked three more songs showing kids enjoying him and his music.

That was a fun discovery.  I may have come to Raffi's children's music much later in life than most, but I can still enjoy it.


Saturday, September 30, 2023

Saturday Snippet: The trials and tribulations of enlisting in World War I


Arthur Empey was an American ex-serviceman who enlisted in the British Army during World War I.  He wrote of his experiences in "Over The Top".

The blurb reads:

Arthur Guy Empey left the United States at the end of 1915 frustrated at its neutrality in the conflict at that point and travelled to London, England, where he voluntarily enlisted with the 1st London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), T.F., of the British Army, going on to serve with it in the 56th (London) Division on the Western Front as a bomber and a machine-gunner. He was medically discharged from the British Army after being wounded in action at the commencement of the Battle of the Somme. Over the Top is his vivid and eye opening account of the horror of trench warfare with millions of copies having been sold around the world. An amazing true story which is a must read.

I've chosen his account of enlisting and his initial experiences in the British Army.

I boarded a bus which carried me through Tottenham Court Road. Recruiting posters were everywhere. The one that impressed me most was a life-size picture of Lord Kitchener with his anger pointing directly at me, under the caption of "Your King and Country Need You." No matter which way I turned, the accusing finger followed me. I was an American, in mufti, and had a little American flag in the lapel of my coat. I had no king, and my country had seen fit not to need me, but still that pointing finger made me feel small and ill at ease. I got off the bus to try to dissipate this feeling by mixing with the throng of the sidewalks.

Presently I came to a recruiting office. Inside, sitting at a desk was a lonely Tommy Atkins. I decided to interview him in regard to joining the British Army. I opened the door. He looked up and greeted me with "I s'y, myte, want to tyke on?"

I looked at him and answered, "Well, whatever that is, I'll take a chance at it."

Without the aid of an interpreter, I found out that Tommy wanted to know if I cared to join the British Army. He asked me: "Did you ever hear of the Royal Fusiliers?" Well, in London you know. Yanks are supposed to know everything, so I was not going to appear ignorant and answered, "Sure."

After listening for one half-hour to Tommy's tale of their exploits on the firing line, I decided to join. Tommy took me to the recruiting headquarters where I met a typical English Captain. He asked my nationality. I immediately pulled out my American passport and showed it to him. It was signed by Lansing, Bryan had lost his job a little while previously. After looking at the passport, he informed me that he was sorry but could not enlist me, as it would be a breach of neutrality. I insisted that I was not neutral, because to me it seemed that a real American could not be neutral when big things were in progress, but the Captain would not enlist me.

With disgust in my heart I went out in the street. I had gone about a block when a recruiting Sergeant who had followed me out of the office tapped me on the shoulder with his swagger stick and said: "Say, I can get you in the Army. We have a 'Leftenant' down at the other office who can do anything. He has just come out of the O. T. C. (Officers' Training Corps) and does not know what neutrality is." I decided to take a chance, and accepted his invitation for an introduction to the Lieutenant. I entered the office and went up to him, opened up my passport, and said:

"Before going further I wish to state that I am an American, not too proud to fight, and want to join your army."

He looked at me in a nonchalant manner, and answered, "That's all right, we take anything over here."

I looked at him kind of hard and replied, "So I notice," but it went over his head.

He got out an enlistment blank, and placing his finger on a blank line said, " Sign here."

I answered, "Not on your tintype."

"I beg your pardon?"

Then I explained to him that I would not sign it without first reading it. I read it over and signed for duration of war. Some of the recruits were lucky. They signed for seven years only.

Then he asked me my birthplace. I answered, "Ogden, Utah."

He said, "Oh yes, just outside of New York?"

With a smile, I replied, "Well, it's up the State a little."

Then I was taken before the doctor and passed as physically fit, and was issued a uniform. When I reported back to the Lieutenant, he suggested that, being an American, I go on recruiting service and try to shame some of the slackers into joining the Army.

"All you have to do," he said, "is to go out on the street, and when you see a young fellow in mufti who looks physically fit, just stop him and give him this kind of a talk: 'Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a Britisher, physically fit, and in mufti when your King and Country need you? Don't you know that your country is at war and that the place for every young Briton is on the firing line? Here I am, an American, in khaki, who came four thousand miles to fight for your King and Country, and you, as yet, have not enlisted. Why don't you join? Now is the time."

"This argument ought to get many recruits, Empey, so go out and see what you can do."

He then gave me a small rosette of red, white, and blue ribbon, with three little streamers hanging down. This was the recruiting insignia and was to be worn on the left side of the cap.

Armed with a swagger stick and my patriotic rosette I went out into Tottenham Court Road in quest of cannon fodder.

Two or three poorly dressed civilians passed me, and although they appeared physically fit, I said to myself, "They don't want to Join the army; perhaps they have someone dependent on them for support," so I did not accost them.

Coming down the street I saw a young dandy, top hat and all, with a fashionably dressed girl walking beside him. I muttered, "You are my meat," and when he came abreast of me I stepped directly in his path and stopped him with my Swagger stick, saying:

"You would look fine in khaki, why not change that top hat for a steel helmet? Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a husky young chap like you in mufti when men are needed in the trenches? Here I am, an American, came four thousand miles from Ogden, Utah, just outside of New York, to fight for your King and Country. Don't be a slacker, buck up and get into uniform; come over to the recruiting office and I'll have you enlisted."

He yawned and answered, "I don't care if you came forty thousand miles, no one asked you to," and he walked on. The girl gave me a sneering look; I was speechless.

I recruited for three weeks and nearly got one recruit.

This perhaps was not the greatest stunt in the world, but it got back at the officer who had told me, "Yes, we take anything over here." I had been spending a good lot of my recruiting time in the saloon bar of the "Wheat Sheaf" pub (there was a very attractive blonde barmaid, who helped kill time I was not as serious in those days as I was a little later when I reached the front) well, it was the sixth day and my recruiting report was blank. I was getting low in the pocket barmaids haven't much use for anyone who cannot buy drinks so I looked around for recruiting material. You know a man on recruiting service gets a "bob" or shilling for every recruit he entices into joining the army, the recruit is supposed to get this, but he would not be a recruit if he were wise to this fact, would he?

Down at the end of the bar was a young fellow in mufti who was very patriotic he had about four "Old Six" ales aboard. He asked me if he could join, showed me his left hand, two fingers were missing, but I said that did not matter as "we take anything over here." The left hand is the rifle hand as the piece is carried at the slope on the left shoulder. Nearly everything in England is "by the left," even general traffic keeps to the port side.

I took the applicant over to headquarters where he was hurriedly examined. Recruiting surgeons were busy in those days and did not have much time for thorough physical examinations. My recruit was passed as "fit" by the doctor and turned over to a Corporal to make note of his scars. I was mystified. Suddenly the Corporal burst out with, "Blime me, two of his fingers are gone"; turning to me he said, "You certainly have your nerve with you, not 'alf you ain't, to bring this beggar in."

The doctor came over and exploded, "What do you mean by bringing in a man in this condition?"

Looking out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the officer who had recruited me had Joined the group, and I could not help answering, "Well, sir, I was told that you took anything over here."

I think they called it "Yankee impudence," anyhow it ended my recruiting.

The next morning, the Captain sent for me and informed me: "Empey, as a recruiting Sergeant you are a washout," and sent me to a training depot.

After arriving at this place, I was hustled to the quartermaster stores and received an awful shock. The Quartermaster Sergeant spread a waterproof sheet on the ground, and commenced throwing a miscellaneous assortment of straps, buckles, and other paraphernalia into it. I thought he would never stop, but when the pile reached to my knees he paused long enough to say, "Next, No. 5217, 'Arris, 'B' Company." I gazed in bewilderment at the pile of junk in front of me, and then my eyes wandered around looking for the wagon which was to carry it to the barracks. I was rudely brought to earth by the "Quarter" exclaiming, "'Ere, you, 'op it, tyke it aw'y; blind my eyes, 'e's looking for 'is batman to 'elp 'im carry it."

Struggling under the load, with frequent pauses for rest, I reached our barracks (large car barns), and my platoon leader came to the rescue. It was a marvel to me how quickly he assembled the equipment. After he had completed the task, he showed me how to adjust it on my person. Pretty soon I stood before him a proper Tommy Atkins in heavy marching order, feeling like an overloaded camel.

On my feet were heavy-soled boots, studded with hobnails, the toes and heels of which were reinforced by steel half-moons. My legs were encased in woolen puttees, olive drab in color, with my trousers overlapping them at the top. Then a woolen khaki tunic, under which was a bluish-gray woolen shirt, minus a collar, beneath this shirt a woolen belly-band about six inches wide, held in place by tie strings of white tape. On my head was a heavy woolen trench cap, with huge ear flaps buttoned over the top. Then the equipment: A canvas belt, with ammunition pockets, and two wide canvas straps like suspenders, called "D" straps, fastened to the belt in front, passing over each shoulder, crossing in the middle of my back, and attached by buckles to the rear of the belt. On the right side of the belt hung a water bottle, covered with felt; on the left side was my bayonet and scabbard, and entrenching tool handle, this handle strapped to the bayonet scabbard. In the rear was my entrenching tool, carried in a canvas case. This tool was a combination pick and spade. A canvas haversack was strapped to the left side of the belt, while on my back was the pack, also of canvas, held in place by two canvas straps over the shoulders; suspended on the bottom of the pack was my mess tin or canteen in a neat little canvas case. My waterproof sheet, looking like a jelly roll, was strapped on top of the pack, with a wooden stick for cleaning the breach of the rifle projecting from each end. On a lanyard around my waist hung a huge jackknife with a can-opener attachment. The pack contained my overcoat, an extra pair of socks, change of underwear, hold-all (containing knife, fork, spoon, comb, toothbrush, lather brush, shaving soap, and a razor made of tin, with "Made in England" stamped on the blade; when trying to shave with this it made you wish that you were at war with Patagonia, so that you could have a "hollow ground" stamped "Made in Germany"); then your housewife, button-cleaning outfit, consisting of a brass button stick, two stiff brushes, and a box of "Soldiers' Friend" paste; then a shoe brush and a box of dubbin, a writing pad, indelible pencil, envelopes, and pay book, and personal belongings, such as a small mirror, a decent razor, and a sheaf of unanswered letters, and fags. In your haversack you carry your iron rations, meaning a tin of bully beef, four biscuits, and a can containing tea, sugar, and Oxo cubes; a couple of pipes and a package of shag, a tin of rifle oil, and a pull-through. Tommy generally carries the oil with his rations; it gives the cheese a sort of sardine taste.

Add to this a first-aid pouch and a long ungainly rifle patterned after the Daniel Boone period, and you have an idea of a British soldier in Blighty.

Before leaving for France, this rifle is taken from him and he is issued with a Lee-Enfield short-trench rifle and a ration bag.

In France he receives two gas helmets, a sheep-skin coat, rubber mackintosh, steel helmet, two blankets, tear-shell goggles, a balaclava helmet, gloves, and a tin of anti-frostbite grease which is excellent for greasing the boots. Add to this the weight of his rations, and can you blame Tommy for growling at a twenty kilo route march?

Having served as Sergeant-Major in the United States Cavalry, I tried to tell the English drill sergeants their business but it did not work. They immediately put me as batman in their mess. Many a greasy dish of stew was accidentally spilled over them.

I would sooner fight than be a waiter, so when the order came through from headquarters calling for a draft of 250 reinforcements for France, I volunteered.

Then we went before the M. O. (Medical Officer) for another physical examination. This was very brief. He asked our names and numbers and said, "Fit," and we went out to fight.

We were put into troop trains and sent to Southampton, where we detrained, and had our trench rifles issued to us. Then in columns of twos we went up the gangplank of a little steamer lying alongside the dock.

At the head of the gangplank there was an old Sergeant who directed that we line ourselves along both rails of the ship. Then he ordered us to take life belts from the racks overhead and put them on. I have crossed the ocean several times and knew I was not seasick, but when I budded on that life belt, I had a sensation of sickness.

After we got out into the stream all I could think of was that there were a million German submarines with a torpedo on each, across the warhead of which was inscribed my name and address.

After five hours we came alongside a pier and disembarked. I had attained another one of my ambitions. I was "somewhere in France." We slept in the open that night on the side of a road. About six the next morning we were ordered to entrain. I looked around for the passenger coaches, but all I could see on the siding were cattle cars. We climbed into these. On the side of each car was a sign reading "Hommes 40, Cheveux 8." When we got inside of the cars, we thought that perhaps the sign painter had reversed the order of things. After forty-eight hours in these trucks we detrained at Rouen. At this place we went through an intensive training for ten days.

This training consisted of the rudiments of trench warfare. Trenches had been dug, with barbed-wire entanglements, bombing saps, dug-outs, observation posts, and machine-gun emplacements. We were given a smattering of trench cooking, sanitation, bomb throwing, reconnoitering, listening posts, constructing and repairing barbed wire, "carrying in" parties, methods used in attack and defense, wiring parties, mass formation, and the procedure for poison-gas attacks.

On the tenth day we again met our friends "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8." Thirty-six hours more of misery, and we arrived at the town of F-.

After unloading our rations and equipment, we lined up on the road in columns of fours waiting for the order to march.

A dull rumbling could be heard. The sun was shining. I turned to the man on my left and asked, '"What's the noise, Bill?" He did not know, but his face was of a pea-green color. Jim on my right also did not know, but suggested that I "awsk" the Sergeant.

Coming towards us was an old grizzled Sergeant, properly fed up with the war, so I "awsked" him.

"Think it's going to rain, Sergeant?"

He looked at me in contempt, and grunted, "'Ow's it a'goin' ter rain with the bloomin' sun a 'shinin'?" I looked guilty.

"Them's the guns up the line, me lad, and you'll get enough of 'em before you gets back to Blighty."

My knees seemed to wilt, and I squeaked out a weak "Oh!"

Then we started our march up to the line in ten kilo treks. After the first day's march we arrived at our rest billets. In France they call them rest billets, because while in them, Tommy works seven days a week and on the eighth day of the week he is given twenty-four hours "on his own."

Our billet was a spacious affair, a large barn on the left side of the road, which had one hundred entrances, ninety-nine for shells, rats, wind, and rain, and the hundredth one for Tommy. I was tired out, and using my shrapnel-proof helmet, (shrapnel proof until a piece of shrapnel hits it), or tin hat, for a pillow, lay down in the straw, and was soon fast asleep. I must have slept about two hours, when I awoke with a prickling sensation all over me. As I thought, the straw had worked through my uniform. I woke up the fellow lying on my left, who had been up the line before, and asked him.

"Does the straw bother you, mate? It's worked through my uniform and I can't sleep."

In a sleepy voice, he answered, "That ain't straw, them's cooties."

From that time on my friends the "cooties" were constantly with me.

"Cooties," or body lice, are the bane of Tommy's existence.

The aristocracy of the trenches very seldom call them "cooties," they speak of them as fleas.

To an American, flea means a small insect armed with a bayonet, who is wont to jab it into you and then hop, skip, and jump to the next place to be attacked. There is an advantage in having fleas on you instead of "cooties" in that in one of his extended jumps said flea is liable to land on the fellow next to you; he has the typical energy and push of the American, while the "cootie" has the bull-dog tenacity of the Englishman, he holds on and consolidates or digs in until his meal is finished.

There is no way to get rid of them permanently. No matter how often you bathe, and that is not very often, or how many times you change your underwear, your friends, the "cooties" are always in evidence. The billets are infested with them, especially so, if there is straw on the floor.

I have taken a bath and put on brand-new underwear; in fact, a complete change of uniform, and then turned in for the night. The next morning my shirt would be full of them. It is a common sight to see eight or ten soldiers sitting under a tree with their shirts over their knees engaging in a "shirt hunt."

At night about half an hour before "lights out," you can see the Tommies grouped around a candle, trying, in its dim light, to rid their underwear of the vermin. A popular and very quick method is to take your shirt and drawers, and run the seams back and forward in the flame from the candle and burn them out. This practice is dangerous, because you are liable to burn holes in the garments if you are not careful.

Recruits generally sent to Blighty for a brand of insect powder advertised as "Good for body lice." The advertisement is quite right; the powder is good for "cooties," they simply thrive on it.

The older men of our battalion were wiser and made scratchers out of wood. These were rubbed smooth with a bit of stone or sand to prevent splinters. They were about eighteen inches long, and Tommy guarantees that a scratcher of this length will reach any part of the body which may be attacked. Some of the fellows were lazy and only made their scratchers twelve inches, but many a night when on guard, looking over the top from the fire step of the front-line trench, they would have given a thousand "quid" for the other six inches.

Once while we were in rest billets an Irish Hussar regiment camped in an open field opposite our billet. After they had picketed and fed their horses, a general shirt hunt took place. The troopers ignored the call "Dinner up," and kept on with their search for big game. They had a curious method of procedure. They hung their shirts over a hedge and beat them with their entrenching tool handles.

I asked one of them why they didn't pick them off by hand, and he answered, "We haven't had a bath for nine weeks or a change of clabber. If I tried to pick the 'cooties' off my shirt, I would be here for duration of war." After taking a close look at his shirt, I agreed with him, it was alive.

The greatest shock a recruit gets when he arrives at his battalion in France is to see the men engaging in a "cootie" hunt. With an air of contempt and disgust he avoids the company of the older men, until a couple of days later, in a torment of itching, he also has to resort to a shirt hunt, or spend many a sleepless night of misery. During these hunts there are lots of pertinent remarks bandied back and forth among the explorers, such as, "Say, Bill, I'll swap you two little ones for a big one," or, "I've got a black one here that looks like Kaiser Bill."

One sunny day in the front-line trench, I saw three officers sitting outside of their dugout ("cooties" are no respecters of rank; I have even noticed a suspicious uneasiness about a certain well-known general), one of them was a major, two of them were exploring their shirts, paying no attention to the occasional shells which passed overhead. The major was writing a letter; every now and then he would lay aside his writing-pad, search his shirt for a few minutes, get an inspiration, and then resume writing. At last he finished his letter and gave it to his "runner." I was curious to see whether he was writing to an insect firm, so when the runner passed me I engaged him in conversation and got a glimpse at the address on the envelope. It was addressed to Miss Alice Somebody, in London. The "runner" informed me that Miss Somebody was the major's sweetheart and that he wrote to her every day. Just imagine it, writing a love letter during a "cootie" hunt; but such is the creed of the trenches.

In my war in Africa it was sand fleas, mosquitoes and blackflies that were the problem, rather than European lice or "cooties";  but yes, they gave us the miseries too!


Friday, September 29, 2023

An important first-aid/emergency medical safety warning


Commander Zero reminds us of the appalling number of fake tourniquets out there.  Sadly, the same can be said of many emergency medical devices.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if a price on a CAT-style tourniquet seems too good to be true, it probably is. And, unlike many other counterfeit products, getting caught with one of these and having it fail when you need it is, literally, a matter of life and death.

I got a reminder about this in my email today from NAR. If you think about it, t his thing is simply injection moulded plastic and some nylon webbing. That means the barrier to entry for making a knockoff is pretty darn low. As a result, these things are all over Amazon and eBay. Yes, there are other wendors with nigh-impeccable creds selling the genuine product….but I’m just not willing to take the chance that their purchasing agent made a mistake that month and got some knockoffs from Glorious Peoples Plastic Factory No. 55 in Changzhou.

He goes on to recommend safe suppliers, where you'll pay a little more, but get a guaranteed genuine product.  Some of his readers add other sources in the comments to his article.  My personal preference is for the SOF-T Gen. 5 tourniquet (and its training version), because it's wider and therefore should be a little less painful for the victim, but the CAT that he recommends is just as good in practice.  (I also trust and recommend Dark Angel Medical as a supplier.)

If you take first aid or emergency medical gear seriously (and I hope you do), I highly recommend clicking over to Commander Zero's place and reading the article (and its comments) in full.  Also, if you keep an emergency tourniquet or three on hand (and, again, I hope you do), I strongly recommend getting a training version of the same tourniquet, so you can practice applying it without breaking open the sealed packaging of the real thing.  If the first time you try to use it is when someone's bleeding to death, you won't be very good at it, and that may have tragic consequences.  Remember, when the S hits the F you'll default to the level of your training - so train!

(That reminds me . . . my first-aid qualifications are way out of date.  I must look into refresher courses.  I wonder if it's feasible to do a basic EMS course on a part-time basis at a local college?  That may be a very useful certification to have.)


A potential new threat to air travel?


I was intrigued to read about an Iranian air-to-air "missile" that appears to be more like a drone shaped like a missile.

The Iranian government has shown a curious "loitering" surface-to-air missile known only as the "358" to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who is currently visiting the country.

The 358 is understood to be launched from the ground using a solid-fuel rocket booster, which falls away after it burns out. The missile then transitions to an air-breathing propulsion system, possibly a small turbojet, much like a traditional land-attack or anti-ship cruise missile ... past reports have said that the 358 further deviates from typical surface-to-air missiles in that is apparently designed to fly at low speed to a specified location and then loiter there until its fuel runs out. "The weapon flies in a figure-eight pattern and looks for targets," The New York Times reported in a story citing unnamed U.S. military officials back in 2020.

. . .

If the weapon works as described, they could be launched into forward areas where drones or helicopters are known or expected to travel through, and hunt and kill them without any need for additional advanced offboard sensors. This could be particularly useful for engaging incoming drones, which can be very hard to spot and engage with traditional air defense systems.

Beyond all this, groups of 358s flying figure-eight orbits would just present additional hazards an opponent would have to contend with or attempt to plan around, which could be problematic seeing that they can fly out to remote locations. If the 358 is low cost, then it could be even easier to deploy large numbers of them at once to increase the probability of success and otherwise try to disrupt enemy air operations.

It does not appear to require much in the way of logistical footprint to employ the 358 missiles, either. When Iraqi authorities seized the 358 near in 2021, they also found a simple launcher consisting of a crude rail attached to a base weighed down with cinder blocks.

At the IRGC expo that Russian Defense Minister Shoigu recently attended, a pair of 358 missiles were seen on more robust launch rails fitted in the back of a truck. That launch system also looks as if it might be designed to look outwardly like any other commercial truck when in transit, helping to reduce vulnerability, as well as add flexibility.

There's more at the link.

It occurs to me that this weapon might as well be purpose-designed to shut down civilian air transport networks.  A terrorist could launch it miles away from an airport, choosing a site that offers easy escape routes and minimal risk to the launch team.  It could be programmed to fly to the nearest airport and loiter there, selecting any slow-moving aircraft in the process of landing or taking off, and destroying it.  If two or three were launched simultaneously to attack a major airport in cities like Los Angeles, or Dallas, or New York, not only would they cause massive damage and casualties (not only aboard the destroyed aircraft, but in the suburbs where they fell), they'd also shut down all air traffic into and out of that city until the threat had been neutralized.

A terrorist group might have several of these missiles on hand, meaning they could threaten an area indefinitely unless and until they were taken out.  If multiple groups of terrorists were to threaten several major airports across America, they would shut down a huge slice of our economy overnight, and there's no guarantee when (or even if) it would come up again.  Getting the missiles into this country should not present any major problem.  According to the article, Iran has been smuggling them to its allies for some years, piece by piece.  Our southern border is so porous they could be carried across on the backs of cartel operatives, and with only a small proportion of container shipments through our ports being examined for contraband, the odds of getting missiles through US security must be excellent.

Not a comfortable thought at all . . .


It's Baby Wendell!


I hope Larry Correia sees this.  It's a curious baby manatee in Florida exploring a wetsuit.  Wendell Jr.?