Thursday, January 28, 2010

Requiscat in Pacem

Jerome David Salinger

01 JAN 1919 - 27 JAN 2010

A 1936 graduate of the Valley Forge Military Academy and College, where he managed the fencing team, Mr Salinger was drafted into the United States Army when America entered World War 2.

Trained as a Counter Intelligence wonk, Staff Sergeant Salinger used his fluency in the French and German languages to interrogate German POW and defectors until 1944, when he was attached to the 4th Infantry Division -- in particular the 12th Regiment, where on June 6th, Staff Sergeant Salinger landed on a bit of sand called Utah Beach.

Later that same year Jerome Salinger -- and the 4th, as part of the US Army's XII Corp -- found himself in a bit of a scuffle in a place called Hürtgen Forest, which led up to the famous Battle of the Bulge.

After the end of the war, Staff Sergeant Jerome Salinger was briefly hospitalized for "battle fatigue", then found himself a quiet career writing short stories, as J.D. Salinger.

Rest in peace, sir.

LawDog

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DO WANT!

By way of Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man we discover Roman-X Mechanized Chariot Racing.

Oh, sweet zombie Jeebus, do I want.

*ring, ring*

"Bugscuffle County Sheriff's Office."

"Yes, is the Sheriff in?"

"Speaking."

"Sheriff, this is Major Payne of the Texas Dept of Public Safety down here in Abilene, and I'd like to report one of your deputies passing one of my troopers on I-20."

Deep sigh. "How fast was he going?"

"'Bout fifty MPH, Sheriff. In a chariot."

"Hell, what are you boys griping about, that's under the speed ... do what?"

"Yes, sir. We're pretty sure he's one of yours, because he's got a Bugscuffle County Sheriff's Office badge welded to his centurion's helmet."

Long silence.

"We thought the battery-powered strobes were a nice touch, Sheriff."

More silence.

"Got a bit of a problem with the inmate tied to the front of the thing, though."

Yet more silence.

"Sheriff?"

"Tell LawDog to get his butt back here."

"I don't recall mentioning ..."

"You didn't. Butt. Here. Now."

*happy sigh*

LawDog

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Burkhas in a bunch in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Bit of a palaver in military circles -- and others -- over a private company's additions to some standardized weapon accessories.

Seems that Trijicon Inc has been adding Biblical verses to the ends of the National Stock Numbers on their highly-popular ACOG and Reflex optical sights.

Trijicon states that they've been adding the Bible verses for thirty years or so, and that this is the first time they've had any complaints on the subject, but a group calling themselves the "Military Religious Freedom Foundation" has its collective panties all up in a wad.

They're claiming that a privately-owned company putting Christian stuff on their products violates the United States Constitution.

Hmm.

No word yet how they're taking U.S. service-members getting paid in money with "In God We Trust" scribbled all over the face; military chaplains wearing a shiny silver cross prominently on their uniforms; that dratted Pledge of Allegiance; the frequent mention of St. Peter (Christian saint) and the Devil (Christian) in military cadences; The Marine's Hymn -- the oldest official song of any US military branch -- which asserts that the streets of Heaven (Christian) are guarded by US Marines -- not to mention the hymns of every other branch of the military which all seem to mention God (Christian) in one way or the other.

*sigh*

What a private company does with their products is their own business. If -- for whatever reason -- you don't want to use their products ... then don't.

As for the excuse that some fundamentalist Islamists are going to use this as an excuse to claim that the United States is "embarked in a religious Crusade" -- what rock have you nitwits been hiding under since 2003? Everything we do has been, is currently, and will continue to be used as proof that we're involved in a "religious Crusade" against Islam.

If this is news to you, y'all need to climb down out of your ivory towers once in a while.

Seems to me if more people spent less time actively looking for a reason to get insulted -- well, we'd probably be a bit better off.

But what do I know?

LawDog

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bwa Kayiman

During the Year of Our Lord 1791, things were not copacetic on the Caribbean island paradise of Hispanola, particularly in the extremely profitable French colony of Saint-Domingue.

Gentleman by the name of Dutty Boukman had hisself a nasty case of the red-arse over some of the local facts of life -- not the least of which was that Dutty Boukman and upwards of half-a-million of his friends and neighbors were the private property of about 40,000 French colonials.

While this would tend to irritate anybody, Mr. Boukman had an ace in the hole: he was the local houngan, or priest in the Carribean religion of Vodou.

And I'm here to tell you, whatever you do, don't piss off the priests.

On the evening of August 14th of that year, Dutty Boukman conducted a religious ceremony in the north of Hispanola, at Bois Caiman -- Bwa Kayiman in the Creole tongue -- which seems to have gotten a wee bit exuberant.

At least one pig got himself sacrificed, blood-oaths were sworn, blood -- some of which may have been human -- was imbibed to seal those oaths, people were getting possessed left, right and centre, speaking in tongues and dancing themselves into a frenzy.

During the height of the festivities, Dutty Boukman allegedly exhorted his followers to extract vengeance from the white slave-holders, and he may have followed up by calling for the image of the "God of the whites" to be "cast aside", before turning his congregation loose.

And voila! The Haitian Revolution.

Now, Caribbean Vodou in general -- and Haitian Vodou in particular -- is an interesting amalgamation of West African animistic traditions with Roman Catholic Christianity.

The Haitians believed -- and still do believe -- that there is one Supreme God, named Bondye (a Creole adaptation of "Bon Dieu", French for "Good God") who is the Creator of All.

How-some-ever, the Haitians figure that Bondye is busy -- having a universe to run and all -- and doesn't really have time for people. Not wanting to leave His people hanging in the breeze, Bondye relies on a series of lesser types called lwas (or loas) roughly analogous to Catholic saints and angels to run interference on His behalf with the human race.

One of the lwa is Ezili Dantor -- the lwa concerned with motherhood, children, and the protection of same -- and it was she to whom the black pig was sacrificed, and she whom was said to have possessed several of those at Bois Caiman on that August night in 1791.

The Haitians are proud of Dutty Boukman and the revolution he kicked off which led to the first Republic run by people of African descent in the New World.

Pat Robertson could have looked in any book on Haitian history or Haitian mythology and gotten his facts straight, but -- as we like to say here at The LawDog Files:

You're supposed to read books, not eat them ...

and Master Patty doesn't seem to have gotten the memo.

Ah, well.

LawDog

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dancing with Hippies

La Phlegm, Chris and myself went to see Dances With Space Wolves Ferngully II: The Space-Reckoning Call Me Joe Blue Pocahontas Avatar.

Ye gods and little fishies. Visually, this is one stunning movie. Plot-wise, well, I'd say that:

HERE BE SPOILERS ...

But I'd be lying.

Folks, at no time during the course of this movie did anyone in the audience not know what was going to happen next. Not only that, but within 30 seconds of meeting character, you know each and every thing that they're going to do for the rest of the film.

The Hero: He's going to be sent to infiltrate the Fuzzy-Wuzzys, will fall in love with the daughter of the Head Fuzzy-Wuzzy, betray the Fuzzy-Wuzzys, prove himself, lead the tribe in battle against his (former) people and have a dramatic Final Confrontation with Chief Bad Guy.

Scarred Military Dude: This is Chief Bad Guy. A closet genocidal maniac, he will recruit Our Hero to spy on the Fuzzys, at the proper time will show his true genocidal colours, at which point Our Hero will See The Error Of His Ways, whereupon Scarred Military Dude will (temporarily) separate Our Hero from his One True Love, and will die in a climactic Final Confrontation with Our Hero.

Crusty, Yet Benevolent and Wise Scientist: Doomed. Toast. Life expectancy of an asthmatic fruit fly. Only present for two reasons: 1) To utter Last Word Of Wisdom to Our Hero; and 2) Die, preferably before the Last Battle.

Our Hero's One True Love: Will find Our Hero, rescuing him from Certain Death in the process. Will hate him initially, yet be forced to teach him the Ways of the World, before falling in love with him, aardvarking him in A Significant Place just before Scarred Military Dude starts the genocide, causing her to hate Our Hero, before being shown Our Hero's True Feelings and falling back in love with him.

And as soon as you see the Na'vi you know that they're going to wind up going mano-a-mano with the Space Marines godless Space Mercenaries in the most lop-sided battle since a bunch of paleolithic fuzzball Ewoks went up against the might of a Galaxy-spanning Empire.

Yeah, Cameron ripped off Lucas, too, so you already know the end results on that one.

*sigh*

And let me tell you, young Jimmy Cameron is right fond of laying his politics on with a trowel before beating them home with a four-pound sledge hammer. Subtle, the man is not.

Visually, however, Avatar is a feast. Pandora comes alive, and is about as completely immersive as any other movie I've been to. The level of detail on that moon in general is stunning, and on the Na'vi -- well, allow me to put this as succinctly as possible:

300 million dollars to perfect digital jiggle. The man is a god to me.

Go see this movie. Set your mind on auto-pilot, don't expect any plot surprises, ignore the gaping plot-holes and the heavy-handed politics and just enjoy the visual experience.

LawDog

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Monkey's fist

With the tightening down in aeroport security (Hah! I made a funny!), we here at The LawDog Files continue our effort to Keep You Safe In An Unsafe World by bringing to your attention various products which we feel may help confound TSA goons, graphically illustrate the oxymoron that is Aeroport Security, increase your level of personal security.

In earlier posts I detailed the care and feeding of an improvised slungshot using a belt and a Masterlock, but today -- in honour of Janet Napolitino's bushwa statement about how the "system worked" -- I'd like to introduce my Gentle Readers to a most useful keychain:

MonkeyKnuts.

And look! They also come in Coyote Brown, OD Green, Desert Tan and Ye Olde Black! Tactical monkey's fists!

I do realize that some of my Gentle Readers are more than capable of tying a monkey's fist all on their ownsome, but I must confess that I am a terrible knottist. And ladies and gentlemen, if I am pounding a Nigerian terrorist like a German porno, the last thing I want is for my LawDog-tied monkey's fist to come all agley before I am quite through.

Plus, the name of that site is snarky, and sly, and pretty much describes my feelings about the TSA all in one word.

LawDog