Thursday, October 30, 2008

Professor LawDog's School of Mayhem and Survival

I have a bit of a love for push knives.

Also called push daggers, punch daggers or punch knives, these simple, elegant, no-nonsense little dudes are one of the few "fighting knife" designs which is actually a dedicated fighter, rather than simply being a knife that you can use for fighting.

I was introduced to these charming jewels way back In The Day when I was studying a combination of Western boxing and judo. My instructor had asked me if there was anything that I felt needed to be covered.

Having dealt with the sharp-and-pointy kind of social interaction a time or two, I opined that it wouldn't hurt to cover some fundamentals of knife-fighting. My instructor pondered this a moment, then went into his office.

Coming out, he handed me a Cold Steel Defender -- which I still own, by-the-by -- then assumed the high boxing guard he favoured. I mirrored him, knife in paw, and he smiled and said, "There. Now you are a knife fighter."

Heh.

Intuitive and simple to use -- to paraphrase Kevin McClung: "Grab, yank and shank" -- the T-handle of the push knife is grasped in the fist, with the tang of the blade sticking out between either the first and second fingers, or (my favourite) the second and third fingers.

This aligns the point of the blade with the long bones in the forearm, allowing you to generate incredible piercing power by merely punching the threat.

With four hours of training on the proper way to punch, I have seen a small woman bury a four-inch push knife blade knuckle-deep in a hog carcass; and any half-way competent gentleman can turn a shovel hook into a religious experience by way of a push knife.

With a firm grip, there is little or no way for your hand -- aided by stray amounts of sweat, oil, blood, or whathaveyou -- to slip off the grip up onto the blade with the attendant oopsies.

However, the unique design of the push knife causes a unique problem -- with the tang protruding between your fingers, if you decide to slash or chop at the threat and you don't have a crush grip on the push knife, the tang bears firmly against the bone of the finger on the trailing side of the blow.

A loose enough grip, or a slippery one, and you can damage, or even break, your own finger.

For myself, I decided that the advantages of the push knife more than off-set this limitation, and I resolved to not get into the habit of slashing or chopping with my push knife during training -- only punches.

Several knife-makers offer push knives: Wilson Tactical, Cold Steel, and Mercworx (maker of the Seraphym, shown at the beginning of this article) are but some of the manufacturers currently offering push knives, many more can be found with a brief Google search.

Unfortunately, the Great State of Texas classes push knives as "illegal knives" and being caught with one in public will net you a Class 'A' misdemeanor -- which is why I no longer carry mine.

*sigh*

Check your knife laws if you decide to update your personal toolbox with the addition of a push knife -- and it probably wouldn't hurt to have a quick sit-down and a chat about them with your local District Attorney should you take a fancy to purchasing, or carrying, one.

As always -- Your Mileage May Vary.

LawDog

Monday, October 27, 2008

Huh, that's odd.

Like a great many Texas counties, this one has historically had a great many people who vote a straight party ticket.

The party chosen has usually been passed down from generation to generation ("My granpappy voted for X party, my pappy voted for them, and what was good enough fer them is good enough fer me!")

When Early Voting started on the 20th, I did what has become my usual practice of voting for the Republican POTUS candidate, and Libertarian for the rest of the ticket.

It's not that I
like the Libertarian candidates (the Libertarian Party suits me about as well as either of the two main parties ... which is to say "Not at all") but I figure that the Libertarians can't screw this country over any worse than the two top dog parties already have.

Anyhoo.

When I got done, I drove Chris out to the polling place on his lunch break to cast his vote, and on the way back home, he announced -- apropos of nothing, "When I recognized a name, I voted Republican. The rest of the time, I voted for Libertarian candidates."

Now, this really isn't odd, considering that Chris and I are alike in a great many ways.

No, the odd thing came over the next week or so -- I kept hearing the same thing from some staunchly long-time straight ticket voters.

Assuming that most folks are on the up-and-up -- never a good thing where elections are concerned -- seems that some of the old straight-ticket, die-hard party-line voters may be somewhat dissatisfied and taking a new look at third party candidates for public office.

Odd -- and a little gladdening, truth be told.

LawDog

Scribbles


By way of the lovely LaP over at Fatale Abstraction, I have been honoured with a "Superior Scribbler Award".

Apparently, this award comes with a few rules:
Okay, five other bloggers. Well, that won't be hard ... hmm ... this award seems to be getting around a bit.

Lady Tam over at A View From the Porch.


Marko at The Munchkin Wrangler

Cowtown Cop

CrankyProf at The Cranky Epistles

and last, but certainly not least,

Larry Correia at Monster Hunter Nation

LawDog

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ten Cannots.

My good friend Peter has posted an article mentioning the Reverend William J. H. Boetcker and his famous pamphlet, "The Ten Cannots", which I think should be required reading for everyone intending to vote in any election in any year.

The "Seven National Crimes" -- also by the Reverend Boetcker -- is just as thought-provoking.

LawDog

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good trip

Just got in from visiting Preacherman out in Louisiana.

You know, I don't really associate Texas with pine trees -- nor Louisiana either -- but I-20 east of the Metroplex and I-49 south of Shreveport sure cured me of that misconception.

Beautiful, beautiful scenery.

Xavier and AD showed up -- and the story-telling got started.

Mildly interrupted by a fantastic seafood meal, followed by a digestif of South African spirits -- and then the tale-spinning, opining and debating
really took off.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever have the chance to sit down and chew the fat with Peter, AD and Xavier, I suggest that you jump at the chance -- a more polite, knowledgeable, funny, courteous and all-around decent set of gentlemen would be difficult to find.

A good time, in good company -- I should do this more often.

LawDog

Bet nobody said "kannigit" afterwards, either ...

On this day in 1415, English king Hank the Five found hisself a really nice bit of freshly-ploughed, just-rained-on field strategically-located between the dense undergrowth of Tramecourt wood on the right; and the forest of Agincourt on the left, and proceeded to insult the flower of French chivalric knighthood.

Depending upon whom you read, the French outnumbered the English by anywhere from 3-1 to 6-1 ... but a significant number of the English forces were the famed -- and feared -- English longbowmen.

The French had somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 crossbowmen available, but -- by God! -- this was knightly work! So the crossbow boys got ordered to stay in the rear with the gear.

I'm guessing that after having their horses killed under them by English clothyard shafts, then stomping through three hundred yards of knee-deep mud wearing 60 pounds of 'clank, clank, I'matank' and dodging terrified war horses -- the French knights and men-at-arms were probably regretting that decision.

Well, they regretted it right up until the English men-at-arms and lightly-armoured archers got around to kebabing their shishes.

It also gave an English playwright the opportunity to write the mother of all inspirational speeches (in iambic pentameter, no less):



Happy Sts Crispin and Crispinian's Day.

LawDog

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Now that's just cool.

Tetragrammaton Cleric T-Shirts!

For those Gentle Readers who don't understand the reference, it's from one of my favourite Movies That No One Ever Saw -- Equilibrium.

Now I'm going to have to cough up the dosh for one of those shirts.

LawDog

Monday, October 20, 2008

Waa-HOO!

In another little snippet of trivia which does much to restore my faith in Humanity, a Gentle Reader has pointed out that the Texas Freemasons have a Lodge on the moon.

Apparently Buzz Aldrin was not only a Member in good standing of the Masons Lodge in Seabrook, Texas, but he also carried a Special Deputation with him on his historic flight to Luna, authorizing him to claim Texas Masonic Territorial Jurisdiction during the Apollo 11 mission.

On 20Jul1969, Col Aldrin did so.

I note that the Tranquility Lodge is holding its meetings at random cities in Texas until such time as they can hold their meetings at the proper location.

Heh.

LawDog

Early voting begins today

In Texas, October 20 of this year marks the beginning of Early Voting.

Gentle Readers, throughout the lifespan of this great nation -- from the very birth of these United States -- men and women have shed blood and died to preserve the freedoms that we take for granted.

Honour their sacrifice and cast your vote.

You will notice that I do not tell you whom to vote for. I do not advise, nor do I suggest, beg, or order -- for it not for me to replace your conscience.

Listen to your conscience; listen to the whispered words of those who gave all -- and do your duty.

Vote.

LawDog

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Mama Gaea

In comments, Gentle Reader Mama Gaea brings up an issue I have obviously not made clear enough:

Yeah, I am a liberal democrat who reads a conservative republican's blog (I'm assuming conservative republican since LawDog likes McCain).


Oh, dear.

For your reading pleasure, allow me to suggest:

Rotten SOB McCain

McCain.Feingold.Act

McCain. Damn it.

And for last, one that you may find particularly interesting,

Snark.

The only difference between John "Possible VP for John Kerry" McCain and Barack Obama is the speed at which they are turning my beloved United States into Europe Lite -- Obama wants to do it in four years; while McCain is okay with a twenty-year timetable.

The only thing that makes McCain even half-way palatable is the fact that he did pick Sarah Palin as his running mate.

And I understand that you don't like Sarah Palin -- but if we all liked the same things, this'd be a boring old world, wouldn't it?

Now, the "conservative Republican" thing -- that's a whole other kettle of fish, and one for another time.

Welcome to The LawDog Files.

LawDog

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beef and mushroom stew

Take:

1.5 pounds of beef
1 can of condensed French Onion soup
1 cup of red wine
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 Italian Herb spice weasel
9 oz or so of bottled whole button mushrooms (don't drain)
3 carrots
1 bunch green onions
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
cracked black pepper
olive oil

Take two tablespoons of flour out of the 1/4 cup and set the rest of the all-purpose flour aside for later.

Cut your beef into soup-sized chunks, and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Dredge your chunks through the two tablespoons of flour, then bung 'em into a frying pan with the olive oil and put a nice little sear on them.

While the meat is searing, chop your green onions nicely, and cut your carrots into two-inch lengths, split in half.

When the meat is done to your taste, scoop it into a slow-cooker. Pour in the French Onion soup, the mushrooms (juice and all), the wine, the beef broth, the onions and carrots, garlic and then dose it with about a teaspoon or so of the goodie in the spice weasel.

Set the slow-cooker on 'High' for four hours.

About fifteen or twenty minutes before the time is up, stir the remainder of your flour into the 1/4 cup of water, then stir it into the soup. Leave the cooker uncovered and allow the cooking time to expire.

Voila!

Beef and mushroom stew.

LawDog

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fer God's sake, leave me some stereotypes.

One of the officers who works with our department on a regular basis is in his 60's, bald as a cue-ball, grandkids out the wazoo, about as North Texas redneck as you can get.

He drives an ancient beat-to-hell pickup, with bits of hay in the bed and a Remington Model 11 in the rear window.

He carries a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum, because he doesn't trust them new-fangled auto-chuckers.

His dog has a red bandanna instead of a collar.

He has every episode of Hee-Haw on tape.

The man is a good-ol'-boy. He is the beta version of the Standard Bubba Model.

Sometime ago back, I walk into the office and there's bunch of S.O. personnel giving him the hairy eyeball as he types an incident report into the computer. He has obviously put a CD into the drive to give him music to help make the report go a little faster.

"... Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn ..." growls this gentleman, happily.

I listen for a bit, then nudge another officer. "That sounds like ... Rammstein" I say to her.

"Uh-huh," sayeth she, kind of big-eyed.

"... Kann man uns am Himmel sehn ..." head bobbing enthusiastically.

"Engel?" I guess.

"Uh-huh."

"... wir haben Angst und sind allein ..." he grates, hammering away on the keyboard in time to the beat.

"He's ... singing."

"Umm ... Uh-huh."

"... Gott weiss ich will kein Engel sein ..."

Folks, that's just plain Not Right.

LawDog

Eggs doesn't equal chickens.


During the 1948 Presidential election, pundits decided early on that Thomas Dewey was unbeatable. Polls were taken -- exhaustively -- experts were consulted, and all agreed that a Dewey win (by a landslide) was inevitable.

Indeed, top party officials informed Dewey that all he had to do to slide into the White House was to avoid making any "major" mistakes. Following this advice, Thomas Dewey carefully avoided controversial issues and was deliberately vague concerning his actual Presidential intentions, to the point that his speeches were nothing more than glowing descriptions of the future under a Dewey Presidency and -- I quote: "non-political optimistic assertions of the obvious".

This tactic, and the support of major media, lead Truman's own campaign staff (as well as Mrs. Truman) to consider their efforts to be nothing more than a valiant last effort.

The Chicago Tribune printed several hundred copies bearing the banner headline: "Dewey Defeats Truman".

Well, Old Man Murphy hates politicians and the media about as much as he hates everyone else, and Truman stunned the experts and pundits by winning that election -- and sealed the thing by having a picture of himself taken while holding that infamous headline edition -- see above.

I bring up this bit of obscure political trivia, because it seems as if every time I pass a TeeVee someone is talking about "President Obama" -- usually tied to the words "landslide" and "inevitable".

Most of the media seems to be wondering why McCain and Palin are still in the race, since they ought to realize that they don't have a chance to win.

Although most aren't as blatant as this article, it sure seems as though most experts ('expert' being defined by my friend Johnny Guest as: "A drip under pressure") have pretty much made up their minds as how the American public is going to vote.

Hmm.

There is an old saying, "Don't count your chickens until the eggs have hatched" and I do believe that it has just as much relevancy to political prognosticating as it does to any other kind.

Sure seems to me that some folks might have forgotten that.

LawDog

I am ON VACATION!

Actually I started my vacation on Saturday, but we had a massive breakdown in communications involving Nana which necessitated my presence. The ensuing stress being nicely cured with a stop by a friend's house for puppy snuggles and a Dallas tour.

Sunday and today were used for dealing with my accumulated sleep debt.

Chhaarrggee!

LawDog

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Goodness.

By way of about 20 or so Gentle Readers, I have been pointed towards the 30SEP1999 issue of the New York Times.

Goodness.

Due to the fragile and delicate nature of the World Wide Web -- where on-line stuff sometimes suffers sudden mysterious disappearances -- I have copied the article in question:


Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.


I have taken the opportunity to high-light certain sentences in the above article that I find to be somewhat interesting in light of the Congressional hanky-panky of the last week.

September 30 of 1999 is, what, nine years ago that somebody saw this coming?

Yet, here is Congress -- including, I might add, Texas Representative Mac Thornberry and Texas Senator John Cornyn -- voting to take 850 billion dollars out of your wallet and out of my wallet -- 850 billion dollars of taxpayer money -- "because it's an emergency and we've got to do something NOW NOW NOW!"

I'm going to give Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Cornyn a bit of advice, free of charge: If you see something coming for nine years -- it isn't an emergency anymore.

Nine sodding years.

This -- amongst others of your sins of hubris and arrogance committed in the last week -- I'm definitely going to remember on Election Day.

LawDog

Monday, October 06, 2008

Terry Pratchett

It is no secret around here that I am a huge Terry Prachett fan. I have -- I hope -- managed to spread my fondness for this writer amongst my various and sundry Internet friends.

So, the news that Mr Prachett had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease was a terrible, terrible shock.

By way of my friend Peter, we have a link to an article written by Terry Pratchett in which he describes his on-going experience with the disease.

It is a compelling read.

LawDog

Widow Six Seven redeployment

Seems like Prince Harry of Wales is tooling up for another combat tour.

We know this, because the UK Daily Mail thought this was news-worthy enough to feature prominently in their on-line edition.

You know, someone needs to explain to me why this kind of journalistic irresponsibility doesn't result in big game tags being issued for the reporter in question, and the newspaper senior staff in general.

Now, I may be viewing the past through Ye Olde Rose-Coloured Glasses, but I seem to remember that in Days Past the news media had the common decency to sit on this kind of story until
after the bodies had quit bouncing, the bullets had stopped banging and the Good Guys were back home and on their second beer.

Is anything so newsworthy that it justifies putting a 24-year-old and his troopies in further and greater danger? Does the word "Ethics" mean anything to these people?

*sigh*

You know, much as I have a gut-level distrust for the Code Duello, the lack of decency, common sense and courtesy being displayed in these Modern Times can't help but make me wonder if reinstituting the duel may just be one of those lesser evils that folks keep saying we need to accept.

LawDog

Texas Voter Registration

For my Gentle Readers here in the Great State of Texas, I should like to mention that today is the last day that you may register to vote.

If you have not yet done so, I would take it as a personal favour if you would pop in at your local County Courthouse and see the County Clerk or District Clerk about doing so.

And let us not forget that early voting in our State will begin on October 20 of this year.

Ta ever so.

LawDog